Archive for January, 2008

Analysis of Super Bowl XLII

January 30, 2008

There are going to be many battles within this war on Sunday night.

WHEN THE GIANTS HAVE THE BALL:
1) Burress vs Samuel/Hobbs. There are two reasons why Plax opened his mouth with “23-17.” One is because he has S*** for brains. The second is that he is genuinely pumped to be in this game and feeling about as well as he has felt in a long time. He has a 7″ height advantage on these guys, played well against them before and he clearly has an.. EDGE NYG.
2) Steve Smith vs Randall Gay. I would normally say Gay has the advantage, but Smith is getting better every game and one would think he will make plays.
3) Giant OL vs Patriots DL. Wilfork is very important to this team, but the Giants have demonstrated time and again the ability to control the line of scrimmage. Pickup of Vrabel on the blitz is imperative… this is how they get to the passer. EDGE NYG.
4) Jacobs/Bradshaw vs Seau/Bruschi/Vrabel. Ability vs Experience. Jacobs has shown a tendency to fumble the ball after a layoff.. please protect the ball. Bradshaw’s speed is a HUGE advantage over this aging group of experienced veterans if the Giants are smart enough to leverage it often. EDGE NYG.
5)Manning vs Belichick. Belichick is smart and will not let Manning sit back there with time. He will mix up coverages a lot more than the Packers did, and do his best to confuse and fluster Eli. The old Eli would not be up to the task. The new Eli has shown he is because Gilbride has smartly mixed up playcalling (when they are not ahead in Q4) and made the game shorter so that Manning is not back there so long that he can have that turnover. Manning does best with LESS time and MORE reflex. He is best when he has to throw to a spot before the WR is there. I see no reason why Gilbride will change this- it is a quicker game and Manning does best in it. The edge will go to Belichick in deference to his myriad # of SB successes, but Manning can control this outcome if he keeps doing what has gotten him here. EDGE PATS.
6) Giants offense vs Patriots defense summary- Bradshaw and Burress have the distinct advantage that must be leveraged. If the running game gets on track, then Manning’s play action becomes lethal too. EDGE NYG.

WHEN THE PATRIOTS HAVE THE BALL:
1) Moss vs Webster/double team- Any need for discussion? The Giants need to be physical and force him inside. Webster has improved but this is in need of help(doubling) and that means EDGE PATS.
2) Welker vs Ross- The Giants must be very physical here and do the 1991 Super Bowl ‘Andre Reed redux’ by kicking the living snot out of this player. He lives near the line of scrimmage on short stuff, so you have to pound him and disrupt the timing. Welker likes coming back to the ball (as all good WRs must do), and then he curls around to break the first defender’s tackle. It was really helpful that the Giants saw this guy already, because they know all about how he kills teams. EDGE PATS.
3) Pats OL vs Giants DL- Earth to Osi Umenyiora, Earth to Osi Umenyiora, come in please?!!! It is time for us to see Umenyiora make an impact. I know he is getting doubled, but he often gets singled too by Light, so GET TO BRADY please and cause havoc. This is the most pivotal matchup of the game. When Flozell Adams buckled in Q3 of the Dallas game, the Giants went from needing a miracle to win to getting that miracle and winning. Good pitching beats good hitting, good OLs beat good DLs. Strahan is going to play the game of his life. Will Umenyiora? I think not. The only hope for the Giants is Tuck on mismatches with a Guard. EDGE PATS.
4) Maroney/Faulk vs Pierce/Mitchell/Torbor. Maroney was held in check, but Faulk never is. Faulk must be blanketed or else he will kill you on those 3rd down conversions. EDGE PATS.
5) Brady vs Spagnuolo. Thank goodness for Spags. Otherwise this would not even be a contest and I would not be wasting my time typing this entire analysis. Brady is there with Montana and the great ones of all time. Spags and this Giant defense have seen Brady-Garcia-Romo-Favre the past 4 games, so the good news for the Giants is that they are not getting a shock to the system. Spags will put as much pressure on Brady as possible and Brady will still win. EDGE PATS.
6) Patriots offense vs Giants defense summary- The trick to beating the Patriots is to bend but not break here. They are going to score points. They just cannot score 35-40 points. EDGE PATS.

SPECIAL TEAMS:
Tynes benefited greatly from making that big 47 yarder. Confidence is everything. Hixon and the kickoff unit put a great deal of pressure on the opposing team and they just get better and better every game. EDGE NYG.

COACHING:
Edge Belichick, EDGE PATS.

GAME SUMMARY:
Objectively speaking, the edge that the Giants offense has over the Patriots defense is not as great as the edge of the Patriots offense over the Giants defense. Specials will give the Giants a shorter field than the Patriots, but will that be enough? My two keys to the game are: 1) GILBRIDE MUST ATTACK EARLY AND OFTEN AND KEEP PUTTING PRESSURE ON THE PATRIOTS DEFENSE FOR 60 MINUTES.. NOT FOR ONLY 50:33 .. NOT THE LETUP WE SAW IN W17 WHEN WE HAD A LEAD. 2) UMENYIORA MUST GET TO BRADY. I will go out on a limb and say that if either of these two things happen the Giants will win the game. I do not think that that happens because I have seen Umenyiora mostly quiet vs the better Offensive Tackles these past 4 games, and I have not seen Gilbride use Bradshaw as much as he needs to and use the offense in the 4th quarter (unless they are behind).

It is there for the taking for the Giants. How badly do they want it? No one gives you anything. Championships are won, championships are not not lost. There is an opening here for the Giants to be physical and win, but everything must go right. You must be bold and not be afraid to lose. I have my doubts about what the playcalling will be like in Q4. We know that if you fall behind vs the Patriots it is going to be hard to win, so what if the Giants actually have a lead in Q4? Do you want a 3-4 pt lead vs Brady in Q4 and have Gilbride put the brakes on and think that R-R-P-K is going to win you a Super Bowl? He needs to understand that the only way you are going to deny Brady a chance to win is with you running out the clock, and that means keeping up the attack offense, getting first downs and keeping the ball until the game is OVER. How much respect do you have for Mr. Brady, Mr. Gilbride? No lead is safe, and if the Giants did not understand that from playing him already, then we deserve to lose. But if the Giants are able to realize that the best defense vs Brady is an offense that stays on the field ALL the time, then we do have a very realistic chance.

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Poll from ESPN

January 30, 2008

I got a kick out of the poll asking people state by state about who would win the Super Bowl.

The 4 states that pick the Gmen? LOL… NY and NJ naturally, and Indiana and Mississippi. I guess that between the Colts, Peyton Manning, and then the Ole Miss legacy of Archie and Eli, we have a few friends in some biased corners. It is an impressive poll, it collected ~1/4 million votes, which is almost as many hits as ultimatenyg gets per day.

1990 championship analog?

January 30, 2008



As every day rolls by, the 1990 championship year seems to rhyme more and more with this year. Players such as Carl Banks, Matt Bahr and Ottis Anderson have certainly noted the similarities and agree about the comparison. Of course it is not exact, but the similarities are stark and noteworthy.

1) Neither team was expected to vie for a championship.
2) Both were heavy road underdogs in the NFC championship.
3) Both used FGs to win the NFC championship game.
4) Both teams are heavy underdogs in the Super Bowl and not given much chance.
5) Both teams are noted for a more physical style of play.
6) Both teams are playing a strong AFC team noted mostly for its potent and wide open passing game.
7) The long snapper is a guy named DeOssie.
8) Both teams had to face a team they lost to in the regular season in the NFC Championship and Super Bowl.

Plaxico Burress

January 29, 2008

1) Plaxico was asked for a prediction- He replied “23-17.” The NY Post sensationalized it with inference that obviously it meant the Giants would win by that score. Sounds to me like a Plaxijoke and more of that NY hype for a story.

2) MUCH MORE IMPORTANT, THE REAL STORY IS THAT PLAXICO BURRESS SAYS HE IS HEALTHY AND PRACTICING EVERY DAY.

Bill Belichick gets it

January 27, 2008

From Today’s NY POST: “Patriots coach Bill Belichick mentioned rookie RB Ahmad Bradshaw as a key player to stop, which is quite remarkable considering Bradshaw barely played at all until the 15th game of the season.”
This blog has had a fairly consistent message for a number of weeks now- (1) get the ball to Bradshaw as much as possible, and (2) get him on the field because he stretches defenses and enables THE GIANTS to dictate the terms of engagement. In August, despite a sloppy preseason, we spotted something to get excited about- a rookie named Ahmad Bradshaw. He fumbled in W2 on a kickoff and was sent to the doghouse. He came back in W16 versus the Bills when Jacobs was hurt, and the team has not been the same since. His minutes have risen. TOO SLOWLY. Gilbride, the great misuser of talent, is waiting for years from now to use him? If Jacobs did not get hurt we would not even know if Bradshaw existed! (He was not even dressed for a number of games in midseason.)

THE FUTURE IS NOW! Next season this budding star RB could tear his ACL and his career is over, a footnote in Giants history, a trivia question in the back of a sports almanac. WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP NOW WITH BRADSHAW.

BUCK AND AIKMAN ASKED ALOUD FOR THE WORLD TO HEAR IN H2 OF THE PACKER NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME- WHY ARE THE GIANTS NOT GIVING MORE TIME TO BRADSHAW?

AND NOW WE HAVE BILL BELICHICK SAYING THAT BRADSHAW IS A “KEY PLAYER TO STOP.”

The Giants understand that you need to pitch a perfect game to beat the Patriots. The Giants have that perfect game, and it means maximizing your talents and playing Bradshaw as much as possible. This means playing Jacobs too, but it means 20+ touches for Bradshaw. Even when Bradshaw is on the field and not getting the ball, he is doing his work, pressing the Patriot defense to cover much more of the field due to his threat. BILL BELICHICK GETS IT. WHY DOESN’T COUGHLIN AND GILBRIDE?

Keep it simple- dictate the terms and win the game by playing Bradshaw.

1986 1990 2000 Championship Highlights

January 27, 2008

1986 NFC Championship Video

1990 NFC Championship Video

2000 NFC Championship Video

1986 Super Bowl XXI Highlights

1990 Super Bowl XXV Highlights

Shockey and Barber

January 26, 2008

Addition by subtraction, so the theory goes. Utter horsebleep. Pundits like Mike Vaccaro would have you believe that since these two Pro Bowlers went away due to retirement/injury, that the fact that the Giants are in the Super Bowl is damning evidence of how these guys were not really helping the team win. Ridiculous assertion. Sometimes you have to wonder how they can come to such conclusions.

I was quick to take a slap at Barber at the end of preseason (see Point #4 in link) when the former Giant took shots at the Giants. As a professional, he should have moved on and become more objective. Instead he got s’d into the role of former locker room news source. Too bad for him and too bad for the Giants. The fact that his contributions to the team have to be defended here is simply because of the misinformation being put out by guys like Vaccaro who fabricate a day’s work off of the scantest evidence. What facts does Vaccaro use to support his conclusion? You got me! Read the article yourself, linked above. He says the record speaks for itself. He quotes three people, two of which are not saying anything at all about these players and the third who is merely giving an obvious report about the unity of the team. There is not one solid piece of concrete fact that demonstrates his conclusion.

I will do the opposite and list some points that perhaps can dispel this myth before it becomes accepted as reality:
1) Before the season began, I listed 7 questions the Giants were facing. Specifically NOT mentioned was the loss of Barber in the running game. The only thing mentioned was how the Giants running backs would do in pass-catching responsibilities. How could the loss of a 1500 yard Pro Bowl runner not be a question?… the answer was easy… the GIANTS WERE LOADED AT RUNNING BACK. In fact, in preseason I pointed out that the Giants had more depth at RB than I had seen in many years. And coincidentally, while everyone was bellyaching about the trade Reese made, giving up Ryan Grant for a 6th rounder, this blog has been putting out the word on the talents of Ahmad Bradshaw. DOESN’T REESE’S MOVE TO TRADE A PRACTICE SQUAD RB FOR A 6TH ROUND PICK OFFER AS EVIDENCE THAT THE GIANTS WERE NOT GOING TO SUFFER A LOSS FROM BARBER’S RUNNING PRODUCTION? That having Jacobs, Ward, Droughns and Bradshaw was going to fill the void? OF COURSE IT DID!
2) Evidence? 2006 Pro Bowl year by Tiki Barber. Giants get 134.8 yards per game in the rushing department. 2007 Jacobs and Ward carry the load. Giants get 134.2 yards per game in the rushing department. OTHER PLAYERS WITH TALENT STEPPED UP. The results were nearly IDENTICAL.
3) More evidence? ALL FIVE STARTERS ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE WERE HEALTHY THIS YEAR AND STARTED ALL SIXTEEN GAMES. With the exception of O’Hara missing the Tampa Bay playoff game, these 5 starters have started 5×19=95 -1 O’Hara miss = 94 starts out of 95 max! That is tremendous support for the team and tremendous support for the running game in 2007. This unit’s continuity continues to pay huge dividends for the team, so to insinuate that the loss of a RB is why the team might be doing better now than then does not fit with the other contributions taking place.
4) Speaking of the Offensive Line, if you want to compare 2006 to 2007 and wonder aloud about maybe where the REAL explanation is for success, perhaps it was REESE CUTTING LUKE PETITGOUT. I will be fair here and point out that I was surprised and confused by the move when it first happened. I was concerned about the loss of depth that move created, as it forced Diehl over to LT and now we no longer had the luxury of Seubert as a 6th man. Indeed, Diehl has been the weakest link to the line in moving over to the difficult position at LT, giving up the most sacks of anyone on the line. But in perhaps THE BIGGEST ADDITION BY SUBTRACTION, the GIANTS LOST THE MYRIAD NUMBER OF PENALTIES CAUSED BY THEIR LEADING OFFENDER, LUKE PETITGOUT! In 2006 the Giants were 11th in the NFL, with 101 penalties, ~6.5 per game. In 2007 the Giants were 27th in the NFL, with 77 penalties, less than 5 per game. THAT IS HUGE. 1.5 penalties EVERY GAME. That is Luke Petitgout no longer being with the team. Penalties KILL offensive drives. That is 1 or 2 less drives per game being killed. And at 27th in the league, it speaks to how the team has been extremely competitive in this area and putting itself in better positions to win.
5) Bill Belichick commented about the NY GIANTS a few days ago (video linked). His FIRST item mentioned for recent improvement in the team?… SPECIAL TEAMS, where he pointed out how in all three of the playoff games the Giants outplayed their opponent. Special teams field position was probably the single most important reason why the Giants beat the Cowboys. We march down the field to score at the end of H1 because of a good kickoff. Without special teams, the Giants could easily be watching the rest of the playoffs instead of playing in them, but Vaccaro would have you believe it is the absence of Barber and Shockey?
6) And what about Eli Manning? If there is one statistic that could be damning of Shockey, it is that Manning got a lot better after Shockey went down. But to draw that conclusion, it would be to ignore other much larger facts already discussed in previous blog entries (two of which are linked). Did Manning’s copious use of the pump fake during the Tampa Bay playoff game 3 weeks ago having anything to do with Shockey not being there? If anything, it would have helped Shockey AS WELL, giving that large TE more space and more of a target for Eli. Maybe some of this ascendency of Eli has more to do with finally getting a healthy 3rd quality WR in Steve Smith back, coincidentally right when Shockey WENT DOWN?!!!! Maybe it had to do with Plaxico Burress playing a lot better, having huge games versus the Patriots and the Packers. Was Shockey responsible for the 3 INTs and 5 fumbles in Buffalo by Eli? He was not even in that game!
7) Could this late season surge maybe be the HELP from Barber?!! Yes, it was Barber who bitched and complained about how late in the season players were fatigued. They had no legs left for the games because they were getting worn down by Colonel Coughlin’s relentless practices. The players were no longer fresh, and the 2005 and 2006 swoons were probably a direct result of this. Coughlin would not listen to Barber. But the Giants administration did- they told Coughlin to start listening to the players, and he reluctantly changed to save his job and created his ‘leadership council.’ One of the things that council of players has told Coughlin about is going a little easier in late season practices to save the players’ energy for the games on Sunday. Plaxico Burress SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED THIS when asked about the change in his head coach (video 1:20 time). Do you think that losing Barber and Shockey made this team the road warriors? Well, HAHA, maybe Vaccaro is right for the wrong reason- that Barber LEFT because he got tired of not being listened to by Coughlin, but that IN TURN forced changes to make the Giants a better organization… one which could now be competitive in December and January. So maybe we ought to THANK Tiki Barber for putting us on this road.
8) The best for last- rookie Ahmad Bradshaw…. could it possibly be that THE REAL CAUSE AND EFFECT was not Shockey going out in W15 vs the Skins, but W16 with Jacobs going out and Ward already on IR??? THAT, my blog friends, is when this offense really took off, when Bradshaw carried the second half offense in the winds of Buffalo when it could no longer throw a SINGLE PASS!

Maybe what we need to respect is the FACT that Football is an extremely complicated game with so many moving parts that it is impossible to assign differences in play to one or two variables. This blog could write a novella on the changes that have transformed this team. So to the Vaccaros of the world who want to take a quick and easy one at these Pro Bowl guys, either start giving us concrete facts or please stop with the wild throwing of paint on the wall and seeing what the public wants to see stick.

Mad Daily News

January 25, 2008

How does Ralph Vacchiano blow this? His story was incorrect, Plax had positive things to say about the NE Pats, but they sure must have sold a lot of newspapers.

The oddsmakers

January 25, 2008

Stop being mesmerized by the 12 point underdog status. Wake up and realize that the Jets were 16 pt dogs to the Colts, the Giants were 8 point dogs to the Bills, the Broncos were 12 point dogs to the Packers, the Patriots were ~14 point dogs to the Rams. The Super Bowl betting line is the most inefficient thing out there. It is amateur hour. It is simply there to BALANCE THE MONEY. And since everyone and their grandmother wants to have action on the game, you get more sloppy money on this event than any other game the entire year.

The point is that this can be a very competitive football game, just like what was incorrectly implied by the Dallas and GB lines. If the Giants (despite what Wade said) had lost to the weaker Cowboys (or Packers), would the best team have been playing the Patriots? And what would the line have been? IT WOULD HAVE BEEN LOWER because the world (for whatever reason) respects the Cowboys and Packers more than the Giants! And the Patriots would have been less of a favorite vs a team they would have likely had more of an advantage over!

Remember what Phil Simms said about the Patriots’ remarks about the Giants before they played the Jaguars? See a previous post, remark #11 linked. Belichick: “They’re the best team we’ve faced all year.” And please remember that Belichick did not see Ahmad Bradshaw.

The Kiss of Death, national version

January 23, 2008

I am not sure what is worse, a Blezow best bet or an SI Cover. Favre was put on the cover just a week ago after the Seattle win. Groan. Cringe. With friends like these, who needs enemies?