Archive for August, 2008

New York Giants make final roster cuts for 2008 season

August 30, 2008

The NY Giants made their final roster cuts, and there were a few items of note but nothing enormously surprising.

Brandon London is probably the biggest casualty, but my guess is that he is picked up by another team off waivers in very short order.

Getting John Carney off the geriatric ward for FG kicking duties is just part of the way the wacky world of FB works. I think I dislike FG kickers almost as much as head coaches.

The Giants for now kept FIVE RBs, choosing to stay with Droughns AND Ware. (Hedgecock does not count, he is a FB.)

Good for David Carr for surviving and making the most of his new opportunity. Between Woodson gtg cut and Wright going on IR, he is prominently there as the backup.

I do not think Guy Whimper will be challenging the slow feet of David Diehl anytime soon.. he was cut.

Takeaways from NYG 19 Pats 14

August 29, 2008

1) Everyone raved about Carr. I was in a plane at 33,000 ft, and the pilot wouldn’t switch the channel. Having just been in Houston, whenever the name of David Carr came up they would all wince with pain at the (thought of the) punishment he was subjected to. Everyone knows that Carr’s confidence was shot because he had to play a completely different game where finding your WR was not as important as finding your teeth (and other sundry items) after each play. Building back the right psche in this guy is not an overnight process where the switch gets turned back on. Last night was a good move by Coughlin. He got behind the starting offensive line, got plenty of minutes and got it done. Good for him. Maybe good for the Giants. If it is one thing the Giants do do well, they do not make their QB win the game for them, unless it is in the Super Bowl.

2) The one player I was in post-Umentrauma about was Manning… would he stay healthy before the start of the season? And then Coughlin did not have him start! Manning has been old-erratic-Eli in camp but I never worry about Eli’s desire and preparation, so it was a very good move.

3) Mathias Kiwanuka on being back on the Defensive Line: “It’s just like riding a bike.”

4) Finally preseason is over. REGULAR SEASON BEGINS IN SIX DAYS! Predictions coming. Poll coming. Wonder. Marvelous. Giants defend their title. Football is finally here.

Giants play the (yawn) Patriots in preseas-insignificance

August 28, 2008

Tonight’s game will be a yawner for the larger issues, but will be important for a few roster spots still under contention. I’ll be travelling, will miss this one. With the starters expected to be in for ~10 plays, it is traditionally the least relevant game of preseason. If the NFL goes to a 17 game format, this game is the one which gets the ax, the one where most NFL teams are mailing it in. Cast under the shadow of Osi’s nightmare last weekend, I am reminded of this evening’s starters playing those ~10 plays…

Archie Graham: Hey ump, how ’bout a warning?
Clean-shaven Umpire: Sure, kid. Watch out you don’t get killed.

Smart Strahan

August 27, 2008

Yesterday Strahan said he was going to remain retired.

Listen to his words: “I could only do this if I could commit 100 percent, physically, mentally, emotionally and I can’t do that. I’ve tried to convince myself and my body to give it one more year, but in the end I just don’t think I could turn it on like I need to again.”

Didn’t we all, deep down, understand this to be the situation? There are many lesser players who do not have the ‘FOX Sports’ choices of Strahan. He passed up on a lot more money with the Giants than he is getting with FOX. So this time it was NOT about the money. Strahan made the right choice in June, and he gets all the credit in the world for making the right choice again. And the Giants WILL BENEFIT from his choice. How is that possible? Because if he came back he would not have made the impact and would not have played with the consistency we expect. How do we know this? Once again, his own words.

Giants move Kiwanuka back to DE

August 26, 2008

Strahan?

Kiwanuka?

I am travelling on business, and I really cannot keep up with all of this… but it is conflicting that the Giants simultaneously have moved Kiwi back and also have contacted Strahan. The former makes sense, something we advocated and believe makes the team better- apparently the Giants see that. But to go after Strahan is a pipe dream. And a poor pipe dream at that. It would be a mistake to do it. For all concerned. Strahan made the right move for himself. For him to come back now, sure it would be an adrenaline boost, but he would need the first four games to get back to game speed and then would tarnish his exit. Injury? I was very surprised he did not get one in 2007 after his comeback and would be surprised once again if he went through 2008 without one. From a purely selfish perspective it would be great for us as fans to see him back, but I do not think it would net the benefits we hope for and (most importantly) I really do not think it is realistic. If the Giants want to open their wallets and pay him a king’s ransom, then anything can happen, but for Strahan’s sake I would like to think it really is not about the money anymore and that he will do the intelligent thing and move on his with his life.

Let’s quote his own words: “I think after 15 years, the man upstairs said: ‘Michael, I let you stick around for 15. I gave you a ring. Now don’t be stupid.’ So I’m trying not to be stupid.”

Get Bradshaw off specials and into the backfield

August 25, 2008

Unless your name is Brian Mitchell, you ARE going to get injured returning kickoffs/punts and subsequently have your career shortened. So it is just a matter of time for Bradshaw before he gets hurt doing this. Does the emperor have no clothes? Could it be that ALL (100%) of us are stupid and wrong and the Giants coaches are the geniuses who understand Bradshaw is #3 on the depth chart and needs to be doing specials?! In situations like these I GENERALLY defer to the coaches because they obvly have more information than we do. In this case, I felt like this in midseason ’07 and stopped wondering (because of the fumbles). After all, he was a rookie. But then Ward gets hurt, and Jacobs gets hurt in Buffalo. And Eli cannot throw the ball in H2. So they give the ball to Bradshaw almost every play and the Bills still can’t stop him. And then we see him 30% more productive than Jacobs in 20% less carries. (Whatever the #s, I rounded them up a lot because of plays like when Snee was called for holding vs GB etc..)

Now this.

One of the reasons this blog got started was because these rants would go to ~15 giants fans on email and it made sense to ‘air’ it out. The Fassel Prevent offense was the beginnings of this Emperor-has-no-clothes football blog. I like to tell the story of how Wellington Mara thought losing a 24 point lead to SF in Jan ’03 felt like Chicago Jan ’86. To me it felt like Minnesota Jan’98 multiplied X 10, easily the biggest loss for me as a fan in all my years of watching sports. I tell the story because I knew Mara’s light at the end of the tunnel was a Mack truck headed right toward us. The Emperor INDEED had no clothes, and it just took Dallas W3 and Westbrook’s punt return in midseason to open everyone else’s eyes the following season.

So now the emperor has no clothes again. We wonder how an all pro TE can get 2 catches per game. We wonder how Bradshaw can be third string. I hear everyone when I am alerted to the fact that Jacobs pounding the defense sets up Bradshaw. Am I missing something when I see Bradshaw pull in nice grabs from out of the backfield or set up Tyree’s TD in Q4 vs the Patriots with a nice 8 yard catch and run in the red zone? This guy does it very well and yet we see him mostly on specials. As down as I am about Osi being gone for the season, moving Kiwi back to DL where he belongs combined with having Bradshaw start RB would change my opinion of this team’s chances.

UMENYIORA GONE FOR THE SEASON

August 25, 2008

Yes, it is over. Umenyiora’s season is over and so is the Giants’. Without Strahan and without Osi it is over. I heard from somewhere that the Giants are considering asking Strahan to come back. LMAO! Are you kidding?! Like Strahan is going to comeback NOW?!!! What are you smoking? Umenyiora is over and the Giants are over. I had not written up any blog for where I thought the Giants would be this season because I like waiting for the preseason to be over before doing so. I was of the growing sense that the Giants would be a playoff team and NOT make the Super Bowl this season, BEFORE the Umenyiora injury. Now? The Giants will not make the playoffs in my opinion because whereas I saw them finishing in 2nd in the division to the Boys, now I see them finishing in 3rd behind the Eagles. Clayton of ESPN sees the Giants finishing now in last place. I would not go that far because I still see the skins finishing last. I was looking for a 10-6 year, now I see ~8-8. Psychologically this will hurt them. They need leadership right now to get them focused on the season with what they have, but I wonder if they will have enough leadership to do that.

The 5 stages of grief… for the loss of Umenyiora. I have hit every stage already, but I think I am more stunned. The only loss as/bigger than this would have been Manning or Tuck. Heck, if the lost a guy like Bradshaw it would not have been such a huge loss because they are so deep at RB and Gilbride doesn’t even know he is on the roster (only the specials team coach does!). But now that they moved Kiwi over to LB (for which I do not think they will move him back, although I rule NOTHING out) it is too much of a loss to bounce back from. We have seen how pivotal the position of DE is, and how so many things flow from this. Without Osi, it is a different team. Osi may not have had a great sack count (13-6 = 7 in the other 15 games besides Philly) but he was ALWAYS pressuring the QB. Ironically our secondary looks to be stronger this year, but now they won’t be controlling the line of scrimmage the way they did in 2007. So dominance won’t be there, and it was going to take a lot this season to get it done.

THANK GOODNESS FOR 2007. This is why you go for championships whenever you possibly can… you never know what is going to happen, and you cannot account for luck. The Giants post Super Bowl statistical hangover may rear its ugly head for yet another reason (first it was the Strike in ’87, then the Handley in ’91, and now Osi/Stray in ’08). I think Osi can get back his form from an MCL, because as I understand it, the MCL is not as bad as an ACL. At the very least, Osi has helped the Giants get a title. If anyone thinks I am too pessimistic and thinks the Giants have a very good shot at repeating despite Osi going down, pls let us know why. Unless they moved Kiwi back (which is of course what I WOULD DO, that is where you drafted him for, and it is a violation of Rule #1 to use him at LB, see Rules For Winning in the NFL) and the LBers can manufacture another one to play well for us who has enough requisite speed, I do not see it. Has Kiwi lost too much weight at LB to go back to DE? Bottom line: without Kiwi at DE we do not have a shot at another title in 2008.

Gotta go, Paige is playing Whole Lotta Love.

Umenyiora injury status

August 24, 2008

His knee locked on him. They do not think he tore ligaments, results of MRI will be disclosed later today. Suddenly all that took place in the preseason game means absolutely nothing if he is somehow lost with an ACL tear. Let’s hope it does not come to that.

Kris Jenkins is a beast. He changes the entire complexion of the Jets defense, and obviously changed what the Giants could/not do on offense. You do not need to be a rocket scientist to see the final score (10-7 Jets) and know that both defenses did well. Yet both teams shot themselves in the foot- the Jets had two huge penalties in the first half which killed TDs/big plays, the Giants had 1st and Goal from the 8 and came away with zippo on another series.

ALL OF THIS IS IRRELEVENT IF UMENYIORA IS SERIOUSLY INJURED. You need luck to win titles, and we are not going to win a title w/o Osi this season.

New York Giants vs New York Jets Preseason Game 3 tonight

August 23, 2008

Away again, taping game for a view tomorrow. While everyone watches Favre, we should be watching Faneca and Woody and Ferguson vs the Giants’ Defensive Line. Watch how Manning deals with Rhodes and Revis… does he look them off? How does the interior offensive line deal with Kris Jenkins? How does Kiwanuka deal with the 38 Tight Ends that the Jets have? It’s only preseason but as the season draws closer there is more info surfacing tonight. I see both of these teams in the playoffs in ’08, so this game can give us some credible measuring sticks on the potential which is there. Pls comment here, as I will likely be m-i-a until Sunday.

Jason Sehorn- 10th Anniversary of a New York GIANT loss

August 23, 2008

Where were you when the lights went out? Today is the 10th anniversary of the Giants-Jets preseason game when the lights went out on the Giants for years to come. It may have very well been one of the worst days for me as a Giants fan, period. Right there with Flipper Anderson and a few other spectacularly low bunge jumps.

Of course I refer to the fateful kickoff return of Jason Sehorn in the 1998 Giants-Jets preseason game.

After the game was over the lockerroom was a morgue. Every single player on the team knew the season had just ended before it started. And every fan knew it too. Torn ACL and MCL. Nightmare.

Sehorn was a freak. He had a Pro Bowl year in 1997 in everything but name, and would certainly have been IN MANY if not for the injury. In 1997, Sehorn started all 16 games. He had six interceptions, plus 86 total tackles and 20 passes defensed. He was twice named NFC Defensive Player of the Week and December’s NFC Defensive Player of the Month as he helped lead the Giants to the NFC East championship.

With Strahan and Armstead entering their primes RIGHT ALONG SIDE OF SEHORN, this defense had the makings of total domination. Everyone remembers the special INT of McNabb that Sehorn had in the 2000 playoffs. He might have had 5 (OR MORE, trust me) of those types of special impact plays in his career if he never lost the step he lost on that fateful day in August. The havoc this player wreaked in 1997 was something special. Of all the players Wellington Mara has watched in practice, Sehorn was his favorite. Remarkable statement for a man who saw football pretty much from the beginnings of the (pro) game.

“When he was in his prime,” Mara said, “he was as good as I ever saw playing his position. I used to watch him in practice, so athletic and it came so easily to him, and yet he applied himself 100 percent. It was great to watch.”

Oh the plays he made! He’d be a shutdown corner with Strahan shutting down the other side of the field… like a vise. Or Sehorn would simply take on the opposing offense’s best passing threat and simply shut him down. Sparks was solid on the other side, and of course the middle had Hammer and Armstead. Chad Bratzke used those players to catapult himself to a great contract with the Colts. And then there were the Sehorn corner blitzes. Opposing offenses simply gave up on Sehorn’s side of the field the way they did vs Deion Sanders, so then John Fox would send Sehorn in on CB blitzes and the QB would never see it! Corner blitzes cannot be executed by ordinary corners. You need that special blend of speed and agility to get there quickly AND not miss. Sehorn also had ~20 lbs. on Sanders and could play the run MUCH BETTER THAN SANDERS EVER DID. 4.3 speed, the total package.

“Jason was shutting people down,” says Johnnie Lynn, coach of the Giants’ defensive backs. “He had such confidence that year. He was competitive on every down, and he never wanted to leave the field. He was what you dream about for all your corners: the big size, the big arms, the ability to run and to hit. You knew, as his reputation grew, he’d become a Pro Bowl player year after year.”

“When he is healthy, he is the best corner in the NFL ,” Giants strong safety Sam Garnes had said.

Sanders stayed healthy and is going to Canton in 2 years. Sehorn’s shooting star was ephemeral. Sehorn was part of the mistake of Fassel agreeing (at Sehorn’s urging, I believe… Sehorn’s meteoric rise in football began with special teams returns for TDs when he changed sports) to put him on Special Teams, something we know is a gross error for your starters… especially your stars. “My worst nightmare,” said (then) Giants coach Jim Fassel.

It is a lot easier recounting this day 10 years ago with a Super Bowl in our pocket this past season. Strahan will tell you that if his friend Sehorn (it was Strahan that was trying to fix Sehorn up with Angie Harmon) did not go down that day he would probably have a few more. (Super Bowl XXXV is a slightly different game if Sehorn is playing on two legs instead of one.) All I know is that the 1997 season is right up there with the 1981, 1986 and 2007 seasons as one of the best ever. Maybe this group of young guys like Phillips/Ross/Webster/Kiwanuka/Umenyiora/Tuck can help us to become a truly dominant defense like 1986 or 1997. I think all we need is a fast Linebacker and it could be there.