Archive for March, 2008

Offseason Workout Program Begins Today for New York Giants, early signs are that Strahan looks to return for another year

March 31, 2008

Today marks the beginning of the voluntary offseason workout program. It looks to be a non-event. The only no-show of any significance is Umenyiora, and his agent says it is not related at all to his contract. Otherwise, there is also good news in the Giants and Snee working on a contract extension. Snee will be in attendance at the offseason program.

Early signs are that Strahan looks to return for another year.

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"The Price of Winning a Super Bowl"

March 30, 2008

A month ago when the new salaries of free agency were ringing the registers of less than super-stars, we pointed out immediately that Giants star players under contract would be yelling “show me the money.”

An NFL Network video clip (from Thurs evening) points to Monday March 31st, the first day of the “voluntary” offseason workout program, as the beginning of this potential trouble for the organization. Tomorrow we will find out who does not show. Stay tuned.

ESPN discusses the New York Giants’ first pick in the draft

March 29, 2008

Guts, Glory and Giants Fans- Irv Brechner’s salute to the Giants and Giants Fans

March 29, 2008
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Read this doc on Scribd: Guts Glory & Giants Fans

Can the Super Bowl Champion Repeat?

March 28, 2008

Can the New York Giants repeat as Super Bowl Champions? In order to look at the world of 2008, you have to analyze the 1995 (the start of FREE AGENCY) through 2007 seasons for an objective examination of the question. There are MANY variables still to consider, but the one we will focus on is the rookie component to the championship teams.

Youth springs eternal. The Giants entered 2007 as the third youngest team in the NFL. Considering the punter alone adds ~half a year to that tab, the return of the rookie class of 2007 for 2008’s campaign is a source of energy and optimism.

1974 Steelers analog? I just got through saying how the era of free agency makes comparison to Super Bowl winners before 1995 moot, and now here I go launching into comparisons with the 1974 Steelers?! Well, when you get a rookie haul like the Steelers got, the temptation to compare is strong. Of course we must not get too carried away here. The 1974 draft class of the Steelers is the gold standard. 4 Hall of Famers. A Super Bowl championship THAT YEAR. Their first. But that is where the Giants comparisons start to get tempting. These rookies also had a Super Bowl Championship THAT YEAR. And the NY Giants Super Bowl XLII victory has a RECORD NUMBER OF ROOKIES GETTING RINGS.

Year Team #Rookies AvgAge Notables
__________________________________
1974 Steelrs 15 25.3 Swann, Stallworth, Lambert, Webster, Shell
______________________________________________________________
1995 Cowbys 15 26.9
1996 Packers 8 27.1
1997 Broncos 7 28.3 Pryce
1998 Broncos 8 28.5 Lepsis
1999 Rams.. 12 26.5 Bly, Holt
2000 Ravens 7 27.7 AThomas, JLewis
2001 Pats…. 9 27.1 Brady1*, Light, Seymour
2002 TBBucs 10 27.1
2003 Pats… 10 28.0 Koppen, Samuel, Wilson, Warren
2004 Pats… 10 27.2 Watson, Gay, Wilfork
2005 Steelrs 8 27.5 Miller
2006 I.Colts 10 26.5 Bethea, Addai
2007 Giants 14 26.4 Ross, Smith, Boss, Bradshaw

Note that the 15 rookies on Dallas’ roster in 1995 had no noteworthy players. Zero pro bowls from that lot. If you look at the youngest teams with the most notable rookie contributors, the numbers seem to imply a correlation towards future sustained strength. The 1999 Rams and the 2001 Pats had future appearances in the championship. Based on these anecdotal observations, the 2006 Colts and 2007 Giants should be very competitive.

When you filter for 3 or more notable rookies on the Super Bowl winners, it does indicate a fair degree of future success. Free agency presents cap problems for the winners. Good players leave for more money. But in free agency your rookies are a captive audience. They are under contract, they are not going anywhere and they are not renegotiating for more cap pressure in the next few years.

Conversely, if we look at the teams on this list without any rookie contributions, there might be an even stronger argument for LACK of competitiveness in future years from those organizations. The three teams with none all suffered after their win because a bad draft that year was quietly covering up a deficient future. Combined with other teams naturally going after their productive leaders who are in their prime, these teams suffer a great deal.

It may be curve fitting to get a result we want, but if you remove the 41 year old Feagles, you get a more realistic representation of the roster, and that drops the average age to 26.1. Plus the 4 ‘notable’ rookies mentioned for the Giants all played a big role in the Super Bowl. It obviously remains to be seen how their careers will unfold, but no one can deny that at that moment the Giants have at least four rookies…

Ross was starting most of the season with major minutes
Smith made catch after catch in the playoffs and Super Bowl
Boss made some instrumental catches at big moments in big drives
Bradshaw led the Giants in playoff rushing despite far fewer carries

Also not mentioned is Jay Alford, whose sack of Brady near the end of the game was one of the biggest plays of the Super Bowl. Michael Johnson started five games at Safety this season and played major minutes all year. THIS WAS NO ORDINARY ROOKIE CLASS. That is why we can say with early confidence that the Giants have 3+ notable rookies. BASED ON THIS VARIABLE THE GIANTS PROJECT TO BE EXTREMELY COMPETITIVE THE NEXT ~3 YEARS.

The New York Giants Rookies, one last time

March 27, 2008

On Saturday February 2nd, a day before Super Bowl XLII, we posted a piece on the rookie draft class of 2007. In it, we had a very good video which put the set of young players’ accomplishments in fairly good perspective. In 4 weeks’ time, the rookies will be rookies no longer, as a new draft class is selected by the Giants. But an analysis of the draft class of 2007 is extremely important to understanding not only why the Giants won Super Bowl XLII, but just as importantly if these foot soldiers give the team the legs for more titles.

I find it meaningful that when 4 rookies were asked who the best one was, we got 4 different answers! Who is the best rookie?
Zak DeOssie: “Kevin Boss.”
Kevin Boss: “Steve Smith.”
Steve Smith: “Aaron Ross.”
Aaron Ross: “Ahmad Bradshaw.”

Tomorrow, a discussion of past Super Bowl winners, their rookie makeup and whether these rookies give the Giants an advantage to win another title.

A Conversation with Arnie V.

March 26, 2008

Arnie V. is one of the charter members of the ultimatenyg crew, having been in the original email group that was the humble beginnings of this blog. Today he shares with us some of his thoughts about the Giants and the game he has watched for many decades.

Ultimatenyg: When did you start going to Giants games?

Arnie: “In 1939. I was 6 years old. I was at the game on December 7, 1941. Word spread through the crowd about Pearl Harbor. Back in those days the portable radios were too large (to bring) and all we heard from the announcer was calls for Admiral So and So to call his office and General So and So to call his office. We were playing the Brooklyn Dodgers, a franchise that would end up folding during the war. In fact, during the war the NFL consolidated and you had teams like the Steelers and the Eagles merged. They called them the ‘Steagles.'”

You were at the Colts-Giants 1958 game also?

“Yes. But I did not find that loss as painful as Marvelous did. You see, for me, the Giants had to beat Cleveland not once but twice at the end of the season in order for us to get to the championship game. So it was not as bad for me because I felt that we already had a few pieces of good fortune just to get to that game.”

Any color on the game itself?

“We had come back to take the lead and actually had the ball with a 3 pt. lead when Gifford was running with the ball on 3rd down. Gifford swears to this day that he made the first down. But on the play, Gino Marchetti broke his leg, and Gifford contends that the confusion led to a wrong spot. We had to kick, and the rest is history.”

What was different about the game back then?

“For starters, without free agency, a player was with a team and that was it. Trades did not occur that often. The furor when Huff was traded to the Redskins was enormous. There was very little movement of players from one team to another. Second, obviously the players are bigger and faster today. Third, you had players that used to play both ways. Chuck Bednarik played for the Eagles- he was a Center on offense and a Middle Linebacker on defense. He once hit Gifford so hard that he knocked him out for that season and the next season.”

How has the game changed which is positive?

“The popularity. When I was growing up, Baseball was #1 by a wide margin. College football was much more popular than the Pro game. Today Pro Football is the #1 sport and it benefits from all the attention and interest.”

How has the game changed which is negative?

“The game is now all about the money. Ticket prices are high. The game is for TV and not for the people going to the game. We get cold weather games at night in winter. I am afraid to look at the schedule for what they are going to do to us now that we won the Super Bowl. We’ll be on a lot at night again.”

With Brett Favre having retired, there has been a lot of discussion about his place in history as one of the ten best quarterbacks of all time. Who are your 10 best QB’s?

“Well, I read the blog with what Marvelous had and I agree with every one of his picks. I really cannot offer anyone else who I would have in there. The only person who might be in there is Sid Luckman, but I would keep the 10 that Marvelous had.” (Ultimatenyg note for Marvelous’ Top 10: Unitas, Montana, Elway, and thereafter in no order, Favre, Baugh, Graham, Bradshaw, Marino, Manning and Starr.)

Who was the best Giants player you ever saw?

“LT.”

Anyone else who was close, or honorable mention?

“Gifford.”

Best Giants team?

“The 1986 team that went on to win Super Bowl XXI was the best in my opinion. Everyone made such a big deal about the Patriots winning 18 straight, and they were 18-1. But that Giants team was 17-2 and they were the most dominant Giants team I ever saw. They lost the first game of the season to Dallas on Monday night and proceeded to go 17-1 in the remaining games, which is nearly identical to what the Patriots had done. And of course they won the Championship as well.”

Best Giants play?

“The ‘Miracle in the Desert’ has to be it. It was the culmination of the unbelievable. I used to think the best play was that hit of Montana by Burt in the ’86 playoffs (Giants 49 SF 3) that LT picked off and ran in for a TD, but it was eclipsed by the Manning to Tyree play.”

So 2007 is the best year for you?

“Yes. This year was so unexpected. 2007-8 was the best year because the whole playoff run was one great win after another.”

Most Painful loss?

“The biggest loss had to be the 49ers playoff loss in the 2002-3 season when we blew the 38-14 lead. The Jets loss in 1988 at the end of the season which kept us out of the playoffs was a close second.”

Did you see/predict the old Eli becoming the new Eli?

“No, and certainly not that quick. I was a moderate Eli critic. The Draft Day trade for him seemed very expensive. I was not overly enthusiastic. But now you have to believe that he has the confidence to play at a higher level, so that the new Eli will be with us from now on. I do not mean that he won’t have bad games anymore, but I think we will see better play from him.”

You were one of the more bullish people for 2007. What do you look for in 2008?

“I would be surprised if we had a bad year. I am looking for a good winning season and the playoffs. Maybe deep playoffs.”

Thanks Arnie.

Rich Seubert signs contract extension with New York Giants

March 25, 2008

Rich Seubert of the New York Giants signed a contract extension making him a Giant until 2012.

So what is the big deal about an interior offensive lineman signing a contract extension with the Giants? In a word, everything. It is continuity for the offensive line. It is an undrafted UFA from unknown Western Illinois who quietly (well maybe not so quiet as a prankster amongst his teammates) goes about his business of making holes in the running game and protecting the QB.

Seubert was part of the no-name group of offensive linemen assembled in 2001 that started for the 2002 team. I will contend to this day that the 2002 New York Giants offense was the greatest New York Giants offense I ever saw. It featured Luke Petitgout and Mike Rosenthal at Tackle. Chris Bober was the Center. Jason Whittle and Rich Seubert were the Guards.

What firepower:
Tiki Barber 1400 yards in his prime.
Toomer 1400 yards receiving in his prime. (That he did not get a Pro Bowl nod that year was in name only.)
Shockey the rookie for 900 yards and a Pro Bowl.
Kerry Collins 4000 yards.
And a Jim McNally offensive line that was more than good.

Seubert’s 2003 compound fracture leg injury would have ended most careers, but he came back and won a ring this year. Pretty telling that he wanted to remain a Giant the rest of his playing days, mentioning “loyalty” to the organization in his deal. These are the players that overachieve and enable championships.

First Round Value BY POSITION

March 24, 2008

In the Past 10 drafts, here is a list of the number of first round picks taken BY POSITION:

QB 28, WR 43, OT 28, RB 30, G/C 13, TE 13, DE 37, DL 29, LB 36, CB 43, S 15, P 1

NET FREQUENCY DRAFTED

Here is the same list for NET FREQUENCY DRAFTED. This is defined as drafting frequency taken MINUS frequency on field. (Example: QB is 1 out of 22 players on field or ~4.6%, frequency taken is 28 out of a total of 316 players taken or ~8.9%, so QBs are taken with a NET FREQUENCY of 8.9%-4.6%= +4.3% excess weight in first round.)

RB +5%
QB +4.3%
DE +2.6%
CB +2.2%
WR +2.2%
DL +0.1%
LB +0.0%
OT -0.2%
TE -0.4%
S -4.3%
G/C -9.5%

What this says is that RBs, QBs, DE’s, CB’s and WR’s are more coveted vs their number of players at that position on the field. It also says that Safeties and Interior Offensive Linemen are less coveted relative to their numbers on the field. This makes a great deal of sense given what we know about the game. Interior Offensive Linemen are less skilled than Tackles, and while they are in the trenches, they do not cause fumbles and make impact the way other players can. Likewise, Safeties are not as fast as Cornerbacks and certainly not as important as a versatile LB or DE (who can wreak more havoc on a QB).

ULTIMATENYG General Manager:
(a) Underweight RB. While these players can have great impact, they also rate to get injured and have far shorter careers.
(b) Underweight WR. We have discussed this in 2007’s offseason. There are always WRs available in free agency. Case in point Burress, Moss and Stallworth. Less draft, more free agent. If you want a quality WR, the Toomers and Smiths are there in Round 2 anyway.
(c) Underweight DL if you can. This is not a statement about need for effectiveness in the trenches. It is merely an observation that DL is probably the second hardest position for a rookie next to QB, and that experience is more important than pedigree. I keep thinking about Barry Cofield and Keith Hamilton at Round4 vs the Jets’ Dwayne Robertson at Round1, the 4th pick in the entire draft. Good DL’s take years to develop, and it negates the immediate impact you need for your first rounder in today’s cap world. Articulated another way- you can win a title with a midround DL who simply is afforded the time to play the position.
(d) Overweight OT. SLAM DUNK. The statistic above that Offensive Tackles are only taken roughly in line with their natural frequency on the field is very surprising to me. The numbers do not lie. Use this to your advantage and draft more Offensive Tackles.

Bob Costas and Mark Cuban vs. the Blogs

March 23, 2008

First Mark Cuban decided that he was banning blog writers from the Dallas Mavericks locker room. Yawn. Then Bob Costas put in his two cents:

“It’s just a high-tech place for idiots to do what they used to do on bar stools or in school yards, if they were school-yard bullies, or on men’s-room walls in gas stations. That doesn’t mean that anyone with half a brain should respect it.”

Okay, time to chime in. I will be as idiotic as I can possibly be!
1) Blogging works because the content is strong. Ultimatenyg was a guest blogger on the New York Times Fifth Down (its very first one, I might add) and it was so successful that they now have had a number of guest bloggers on the site.

2) There is demand for information and discussion of the NFL and peoples’ favorite teams beyond the regular season. Ultimatenyg started as an email group of friends and was getting a few hits per day in the 2006 regular season and now gets hundreds of hits per day in the OFFSEASON. The mainstream media drops offseason sports like a pariah and with the exception of a week of free agency and a week of the draft it effectively disappears until training camp.

3) If blogging was stupid and a waste of peoples’ time, people would not visit the sites. Yet they do. Why? Because the blogs provide something that the mainstream media cannot do: honest commentary. It is the nature of the beast. The beat writers need access and they must ‘behave’ in order to maintain that relationship. Francesa and Russo will comment negatively on a player or coach but as soon as they get on the air with that person they kiss his a** for fear of offending him and not getting him on the air ever again.

4) Fans demand respect. They are smarter than you think and if you think you are fooling them they will walk. Are there going to be idiotic bloggers? Yes. But at least here on this site we strive to respect the opinions of others and we admit when we are wrong. Opinions will be wrong from time to time. This site does not make predictions on every game, but when it does it has a very decent track record. Everything said is a matter of record, and the good AND the bad do not get changed after the fact.

5) Ever notice how the blogs have links to other information, other media and other bloggers?!! Bloggers understand that the internet is a tremendous village of content and information. They are happy you stopped here to visit this article and are just as happy to pass you along to another site that they think you might find helpful or interesting. When was the last time you opened the NY Post and they told you to buy the Star Ledger because Garafolo scooped us?!!

6) Cuban and Costas could not have done a better job for bloggers. It is always amazing how (IDIOTIC!) critics of free speech end up aiding their enemies more by opening their mouths than by keeping them shut. It is the classic story of how the (frivolous) lawsuit is filed against a new book coming out, the media reports on the lawsuit so heavily that book sales for this hitherto unknown publication explode, the lawsuit is later thrown out of court for being… idiotic!… and the author lives happily ever after.