Archive for the ‘Boss’ Category

SIzzle and Steak: Round 2 of the NFL Draft and the importance of the later rounds

April 27, 2008

Have you been noticing how the Eagles are trading more and more down into the second round? This is the football version of “Moneyball,” where value is seen more reliably in those less heralded second rounders THAT GET THE JOB DONE. In the Super Bowl for the Giants, when you sort the team’s reprentation of starters from the round where they came from, you would logically think that the first rounders outnumber the second rounders. But they do not. 3 first rounders, 7 second rounders. And the linked blog entry shows that over the previous administrations stretching all the way to 1979, the one constant is that the Giants do better in the second round, period end of story. Sizzle vs steak. Sizzle sells newspapers and draft coverage, steak sells championships. Add that Alford, DeOssie, Boss, Johnson, Bradshaw all came from (what is now) Day 2.

In reading up on the stories coming from the Giants “War Room,” I am continually struck by the pressure and emotion of the Round 1 pick vs the stories that come from the Round 2 and later rounds. There is always some ‘worry’ and stress about the big ticket not being there. Reese and Coughlin were allegedly holding their breath as they waited for each pick in front of them NOT to take Phillips. Yet I think this is why the Giants do not do as well in Round 1 as they do in Round 2. Objectivity is lost. They covet. They start getting married to the idea of which player they want and they get emotionally attached. That is much less so for later rounds where they have so many people ranked and have no clue who is going to be snapped up before they pick. So they play it by ear and are far more balanced. They are more value-oriented. And I have to think about Wonder’s positive bias for Terrell Thomas over Kenny Phillips, ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL. Seven, count them, SEVEN former second rounders started for the Giants in the Super Bowl.

THE ROOKIES (Part II)

February 20, 2008

On February 2, a day before the Super Bowl, Ultimatenyg quickly ran through the rookies from the Draft Class of 2007, pinpointing them as a big reason the Giants were in the big game. With the Super Bowl in the record books, is there any doubt that the rookies were also a big reason the Giants WON the big game? They made an impact on the biggest stage of all.

Any credit given to the rookies has to start with the front office and Jerry Reese. All of the great successes in professional sports are due in part to the front office finding talent and getting the support players who allow those stars to excel. Men like Carmen Policy (blogger’s note- originally stated Eddie DeBartolo, the owner, my mistake), Bobby Beathard, Ron Wolf, George Young and the Rooneys are the lifelines for how these organizations can make championships possible not only once but again and again.

Ernie Accorsi set the table for Reese and Tom Coughlin by locking up a number of key players for a long time, simultaneously passing down a salary cap that was in very good shape. The Giants’ cap room is the best in the N.F.C. East and is in a very good position to keep Reese competitive with new signings where he deems fit.

Where Accorsi ended, Reese began. Reese was also the director of player personnel, so the result of the 2007 draft was going to fall squarely on his shoulders.

It was historic and seismic. Reese’s draft made him instant royalty. The first-year impact players became known as “Reese’s Pieces.” Super Bowl or not, Reese’s crop of kids made such a big splash that it was almost uncomfortable for him to accept such inordinate praise. He went out of his way to compliment the young group of players. He redirected accolades to the coaching staff for enabling the draft class to assist the team so positively and so quickly.

The new Giants were not all along for the ‘Parcells ride,’ where rookies are seen but not heard. With the exception of Adam Koets, every other rookie drafted (and even a few who were signed as UFAs) made significant contributions. This added up to a record number of rookies getting Super Bowl rings.

How do the Giants win if #1 pick Aaron Ross is not providing tremendous coverage all season? As soon as Ross started playing meaningful minutes, the defense tightened up. Everyone remembers the second half of the first Redskins game, but does everyone remember that that was the first time Ross stepped in to play corner? He was there knocking Marion Barber down with a separated shoulder. He was there to save the Jets game when the rest of the team was flat. He was not immune to getting beat, but he had mostly excellent coverage and could also be physical. Add that he played through multiple injuries, had Madison, Dockery, Webster and McQuarters rotating in and out with their injuries, and you can see how significant his efforts were in getting the team to a championship.

For a second pick, Steve Smith was almost all-world. If not for a midseason injury, he would have been putting up numbers all year. He caught four passes in the Super Bowl, none bigger than the play sandwiched between David Tyree’s helmet grab and Plaxico Burress’s game-winning TD. On 3rd and 11, Smith caught a pass in the right flat, came to a complete stop to avoid going out of bounds, ran another 3-4 yards up field for the first down, then went out of bounds to stop the clock. That kind of play would have been excellent for a seasoned veteran like Amani Toomer, but for a rookie who did not even play half the games this season, it was nothing short of spectacular. It will be overlooked in history, but Giants fans who appreciate the rookies will remember Smith’s grab and key first down as long as they remember the Super Bowl XLII win.

Jay Alford (#3) plays a tough position for any rookie, DL. But he was good enough to provide rotation relief among the veterans. And his entire career may already be remembered for the sack on 2nd down of the final series that buried Tom Brady and the Patriots’ chances.

Zak DeOssie (#4) put the finishing touches on the 1990 championship season’s analog by being the long snapper and impact special teams player for a Giants Super Bowl winner just like his father 17 years before. It was enough to bring Steve DeOssie to tears.

Kevin Boss (#5) filled in for injured TE Jeremy Shockey. His great hands made him an instant threat and kept defenses off balance as soon as he went into a route. The Boss catch-and-run for 45 yards at the beginning of Q4 of the Super Bowl ignited the offense and set up the first go-ahead score. Imagine a rookie doing what Welker, Moss, Burress and Toomer could not do! Boss’s chemistry with Eli Manning was so impressive that it forced others to question whether Shockey was already yesterday’s news. That conclusion is most likely unfounded, and the Giants are poised to reap many rewards from a two TE set with double threats.

Michael Johnson (#7a) filled in and started for the Giants when other safeties were hurt. He never lost his aggressiveness and was instrumental in the team’s drive to 6-2 earlier in the season. At one point he and undrafted rookie Craig Dahl were each patrolling the defense’s deep waters … a large responsibility that proved critical along the team’s path to a Super Bowl. Coughlin went out of his way to point out that it was Johnson who got the McQuarters nightmarish fumble vs. Green Bay knocked away so that Domenik Hixon (another great pickup by Reese) could recover the ball.

Ahmad Bradshaw (#7b), the last Giant pick, was taken only a few spots from the end of the draft. Bradshaw was featured early and often on ultimatenyg because his speed, cutbacks, quickness to the hole, north-south running, pass catching and ability to pound defenses was a total find. It took an injury by Brandon Jacobs (on top of Derrick Ward already being on IR) for Bradshaw to get up on the depth charts high enough to be seen. His impact on the team’s late-season and postseason drive was nothing short of stunning. In the second half of the Bills game W16, when everyone knew the Giants were running the ball, Bradshaw told his teammates during a timeout that if they made their blocks he would take it the distance. One snap and 88 yards later, he helped sew up the team’s playoff berth. The accolades he received from competitors was a reminder that Bradshaw can be special for quite some time if he remains healthy. His only weakness was a lack of experience and knowledge in how to pick up the blitz. This may get squared away in 2008’s training camp, affording him the opportunity to be the starting RB. He is that good.

The Giants made a very special run to collect their third Super Bowl title. It is next to impossible to envision how this could have happened without the major contributions delivered by this fine rookie class. As a group, they exhibited maturity and experience beyond their years. The draft of 2007 can be the backbone for many playoff runs to come.

Diary of a CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE

February 9, 2008

Note links on separate plays to video where available:

NE 14 NYG 10 2:39
1st and 10 at NYG 17(2:39) Toomer to NYG 28 for 11 yards
1st and 10 at NYG 28(2:09) incomplete Burress
2nd and 10 at NYG 28(2:04) incomplete Burress
Two-Minute Warning
3rd and 10 at NYG 28(1:59) Toomer to NYG 37 for 9 yards
4th and 1 at NYG 37(1:34) Jacobs run to NYG 39 for 2 yards
1st and 10 at NYG 39(1:28) Manning run to NYG 44 for 5 yards
Timeout #1 by NYG at 01:20
2nd and 5 at NYG 44(1:20) incomplete Tyree
3rd and 5 at NYG 44(1:15) Tyree to NE 24 for 32 yards (Commentary from Tyree)
Timeout #2 by NYG at 00:59
1st and 10 at NE 24(:59) Manning sacked at NE 25 for -1 yards
Timeout #3 by NYG at 00:51
2nd and 11 at NE 25(:51) incomplete Tyree
3rd and 11 at NE 25(:45) Smith to NE 13 for 12 yards
1st and 10 at NE 13(:39) Burress for 13 yards, TOUCHDOWN
L.Tynes extra point is GOOD
NYG 17 NE 14
12 plays, 83 yards, 2:07 drive, 14:25 elapsed

Nobody asked me, but

February 9, 2008

We won the Super Bowl. We have been savoring this win for almost a week now. Everything is wonderful. There are no worts on this team. Or are there? Eli gets a free pass, I know, I know, I promise not to do the 56 game rip when he had a 74 QB rating and could not play consistent quarters let alone consistent games, playoffs et al…

What I speak to now is, before anyone anoints Gilbride, I have a few bones to pick. (1) What is this under-use of the TE? First it was Shockey, now it is Boss. At least your malfeasance is non-discrimatory. (2) And why is it that you never took Bradshaw out of mothballs? One again 9 carries for Bradshaw for 5 yds/per, Jacobs 14 carries for 42 yards… 3 yds/per. Hmm, like has been said before, in a game of inches, we see the difference in feet and yards. (3) On the subject of Bradshaw, ya think we might just have gotten LUCKY when a slow and lumbering Jacobs makes it back to the line of scrimmage and barely gets that first down on 4th and 1? Why not use Bradshaw so he can kick out if necessary- in fact a kick out and we get 10-20 yards or possibly a TD. (4) I heard some math- that 90% of the run calls were between the tackles…. what is UP with that? We knew that the NE linebackers had one weakness, slowing speed due to age. We practically played into their hands.

THE GAME DID NOT HAVE TO BE SO TORTUOUSLY CLOSE.

Divine Intervention

February 6, 2008

The stories coming out of this game are giving new meaning to the oft overused expression “Team of Destiny.” There had to be some sort of Divine Intervention at work here. Evidence? Hmmm…

1) The Bradshaw fumble recovery was nothing short of a miracle. Pierre Woods of the Patriots FALLS ON THE BALL. If this was ANY other game, the whistle blows, the play is over and the ref points his arm the other way for the turnover. But Bradshaw comes over (this period of time felt like an eternity in the pantheon of fumble scrums), sticks his arm underneath his body, pops the ball out of there and recovers the ball. According to an interview with Woods, he somehow never had control of the ball. It almost reminds me of an ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ episode where the ball is “blinked” to another location and everyone else is wondering how it actually became teleported. IF THE REFS CALL THE TURNOVER, NO ONE HAS ANYTHING TO SAY! All I know is I am whistling past the graveyard on that one.

2) The 45 yarder to Boss? Well, it turns out that that one was drawn up on the sidelines by Gilbride just minutes before it was used! We are playing sandlot football at the Super Bowl.

3) We now find out that somewhere in the Q4 Toomer busted (broke?) his hand, and he never knew until in the lockerroom when he was shaking hands with people.

4) The Helmet. The Great Escape. I do not know what they are going to end up calling it, but no matter because they will always be calling the NY GIANTS 2007 Super Bowl Champions. When I watch the tape of that play over and over I am still mystified by how the ball stays in Tyree’s possession despite being held precariously on the side of that damn helmet with ONE hand! How it does not somehow get jarred loose is almost as if G-d has a hand in there holding it in place. I still do not understand it. I see it but I do not understand it.

4a) How does this Manning kid get away from those linemen who have him in their grasp? Manning is not that strong and these linemen are not that weak. He had help from somewhere.

5) And then there is the revelation from Toomer- that David Tyree couldn’t catch a pass in (the last) practice the Friday before the game. The guy who couldn’t catch a pass in practice, the same guy who flubbed the TD catch versus Green Bay that was right in his arms. And now he catches THREE PASSES. One of which is a Touchdown. One of which is off his freaking helmet. The guy had 4 receptions ALL YEAR.

6) I am not even writing this blog until I go online this morning and start reading how Plaxico Burress, all healthy and ready to go (remember the 23-17 boast before boarding the bus, how he was “97%” healthy?), slips in the shower at the hotel the Monday before the game and sprains his MCL. He plays the game almost as a decoy on a sprained MCL and still catches the final TD. He had to be carted off the field to the lockerroom.

THIS SPACE LEFT BLANK FOR MORE MAGIC.

Phil Simms Super Bowl Recap

February 6, 2008

From Simms:

1) Brady was valiant. He took a beating and fought through to the end. He gave the ball to the defense with a 14-10 lead before the 2 minute warning.
2) A lot of NFL current QBs who were at the game were quietly and privately just a little more than happy that Brady got put on his a**. (They are a little tired of being compared so poorly to the anointed one, who so often has much better protection than they do.)
3) The Patriots CANNOT let the Strahan sack happen- it puts them out of FG range. Simms did not single out any one player/coach.
4) The lightning-fast playing field helped the pass rush.
5) Tuck was the unsung hero. Giants got a bargain in their new contract that he just signed.
6) The playcalling when the Pats are about to score at 10-7 to make it 14-10 was not good enough. You have to work the clock down and use the fact that if you fail to get a TD that at least it is 10-10. I think Phil was thinking that if you threw underneath (for a sure completion) or ran, that you could push the ball closer and burn clock– too much time was given to the Giants.
7) The Giants’ run thru the playoffs was unbelievable… Phil thinks it was the hardest run ever.
8) The Manning pass and catch by Tyree was one of the greatest plays in football ever.
9) Re the pass rush in this game, it is important to understand that hidden in the W17 game was that the Giants were VERY CLOSE to getting to Brady. Brady was just barely getting the ball off and Simms felt if the turf speed or any of a number of variables changed, that the Giants would get to Brady easier this time. The pass rush affects so many things- you cannot get to Moss downfield anymore. Lack of run means the playaction is not going to work, and w/o playaction you cannot buy the extra time to freeze safeties and allow runners to go longer routes. The longest pass play was 19 yards.
10) On the final Burress TD catch, CB Hobbs is not to be faulted.. it was a blitz and they teach the CB to go for the first move on the blitz because you have to assume the QB will not have enough time for the second move’s route. The Giants did great because they picked up the blitz and Eli went exactly where you have to go to on that defensive play call.
11) Giants controlled pace of the game and outplayed the Patriots.
12) Boss play broke the tempo of the game.
13) The Giants and Cowboys are the two most physical teams in the league. Old Time Giants Football.
14) They do not do instant replay of the scrum on a fumble because they do not know when the whistle blew. (Today we heard that the Patriot who fell on the ball lost by Bradshaw admitted he did not have control of the ball when Bradshaw went under his body and popped the ball out to regain possession.)
15) The stock of TB, DAL and GB rises because of how the Giants played NE.
16) 20-20 hindsight: the drive before the end of the half vs Dallas to tie the score defined the Super Bowl run of the Giants.

TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP!

February 4, 2008

Strahan- sacks, pressures, run stops, smelling out flat pass, giving this team the message that they were there in Arizona to WIN the game.

Toomer- Not satisfied with getting to the SB again. Returning from ACL surgery and making an impact on a regular basis. Yet another amazing toe catch from the sideline master.

Manning- FREE PASS FOR LIFE! He has delivered a Super Bowl Championship to us and can throw 4 INTS every game for the rest of his career and I will not care. He was Joe Montana tonight, his line should have read 3 TD and 0 INTS if not for a deflection. His scramble out of a potential sack and subsequent pass to…

Tyree- THE GREATEST PLAY IN GIANTS HISTORY. 3rd and 5, Manning about to get sacked and make 4th and long and the end of our Super Bowl hopes. THE HELMET. An earlier TD. He was the miracle. This eclipses Mark Ingram’s 3rd and 12 and Bobby Johnson’s 4th and 17. Not even close.

Burress- playing all season hurt, and then catching the final TD for the Super Bowl. If he is healthy he is getting 100+ yards per game for us and completely changing the game.

Pierce- the General on the playing field, making all the calls, always having the defense in the right place, making everyone around him better.

Smith- clutch catch after clutch catch. 3rd and 11 tightrope first down to the 13 yard line sets up Burress TD heroics.

Boss- what hands?!! 45 yard catch and run ignited our offense en route to the win!

Bradshaw- fighting and scrapping for yards wherever he could find them. I still do not understand how he got back his own fumble.

Jacobs- 4th and 1 carry on ‘the drive’ instrumental. This player’s blitz pickups this evening were the UNSUNG HERO OF THE GAME.

Webster- He slips on the Moss TD. But then he bats away a long pass to Moss on the final drive to effectively seal the win. Against all odds he is arguably sharing the MVP of the entire playoffs with Manning.

Tuck- 2 sacks, a fumble strip of Brady, constant pressure on Brady. The MVP of the game if Manning does not lead the final drive.

Umenyiora/Cofield/Robbins/Alford- in the trenches, controlling everything.

Diehl/Seubert/O’Hara/Snee/McKenzie- in the trenches, controlling everything.

Wilson/Johnson/Butler/Ross/Dockery- holding one of the most potent offenses to 14 points, bending but not breaking. TEAM.

Super Buzz

January 21, 2008

Deliverance from Corey Webster!
1) Ever wonder why Spagnuolo gets all the attention and buzz for a head coaching job and Gilbride gets none? Could it be the underutilization of Shockey to the point where his loss to IR is barely noticed? Could it be the underutilization of Ahmad Bradshaw, to the point where we now have Joe Buck and Troy Aikman even second guessing why he is not getting more playing time? Add “9:27 left” and the prosecution rests. Gilbride has done some nice playcalling this year, but then he hasn’t.
2) Spags is the man. I am still wondering how Ryan Grant and the vaunted Packer YAC (they led the league, more than the Patriots) was stopped COLD. The Giants DL had enough push to force Favre to get rid of the ball, almost too quickly in retrospect. Ever notice the in-game adjustments by Spags to tighten up the defense?! It has been like that for most of the year.
3) Maybe he was playing hurt, or maybe I am just out to lunch for not noticing sooner, but Butler runs the 40 almost as fast as Marvelous. On a good day.
4) Re the Pats… “We know how good they are,” Manning said. “But we also know what it takes to beat them. Hopefully we can make it happen this time.”
5) I mentioned in an earlier post last night, and it is worth repeating with the ultimatenyg megaphone: AHMAD BRADSHAW DID NOT EVEN PLAY VERSUS THE PATRIOTS.
6) Road Warriors to the end: The gmen became the first NFC team to make it to the Super Bowl by winning three playoff games on the road. 10 straight, an NFL season record. Note that the Giants will be raising ticket prices so that we can see them lose at home next year.
7) I could not look at the two FGs that were missed. My Tynes-meter was scary. And when he went to go out for the 46 yarder, I thought he had a better shot at it because there would be a little less pressure to make this distance. And Coughlin said that the FG unit RAN onto the field (grateful for an oppty for atonement), which was a good sign.
8) “It’s Giants football,” added receiver Amani Toomer. “We want to make sure our fans have some good, healthy blood pressure going into our games.”
9) When OT came, the Giants lost the toss and Favre got the ball. “That’s what we wanted, trust me.” Pierce said. For the job Pierce and the defense did last night, I think you have to trust him. The tackle he made busting up the screen pass to the left flat when there were 4 blockers and 1 Giant was one of the most inspiring efforts of the game.

Preview

January 20, 2008

QUICK SUMMARY:
1) Favre and the GB WRs may make this a very long evening for the Giants
2) Our defensive line must pressure Favre early and often
3) The NYG Offense must score LOADS of points

The GB Offensive Line holds much of the outcome to this game. Let us remember that for almost 3Q’s of last week’s game, we were not able to get enough pressure to disrupt Romo. IF the Pack OL holds up better than that, Favre will have too much time and he will have his way with our secondary. You have to expect that. You have to expect a good OL to beat our good DL. This puts more pressure on our offense to score if you know that your defense will not be able to keep the Pack to something similar like 17-20 points.The conclusion here is that Favre/Grant/WRs will score between a minimum of 28-31 points and our offense needs to understand that. I have to believe that if Coughlin and Gilbride are in touch with our weakness in the secondary, then they will come to the same conclusion. I am heartened by some comments from Chris Snee made yesterday which indicate that the Giants have too much respect for Favre to go dillydallying at 9:27 left. That tells me the offensive thinking this week is to be as aggressive as they can possibly be. This is a start.

The Giants offense will need more speed in order to compete. Burress would normally have that but he is hampered. Jacobs has slowed as the season has progressed. Toomer is a possession receiver.

That leaves the kids. Steve Smith. Kevin Boss. Ahmad Bradshaw. Get the ball to these guys and spread the defense. Score points. Score more points. You will need every point in order to beat Favre and the Packers. These kids are not rookies anymore- get them as many snaps as possible.

With Jacobs it is IF he can get yards. With Bradshaw it is WHEN will he come in TO GET YARDS. The former is passive. The latter is active. ATTACK- BRING IT.

The Giants will need to score points. Blah Blah the weather- it will create turnovers or it won’t, it will hurt BOTH qbs or it won’t. No matter. Score points to win this game.

Summary: Assuming Burress is still not effective, we need the rookies to see more involvement. If we do not see that involvement, I do not think that the NYG offense will score enough points to win this contest. The only way that would change is if the defense is able to pressure Favre and make him make mistakes- which I do not see happening. I will be hopeful it can happen- I will hope to see Umenyiora earn that Pro Bowl bid, Tuck to earn that new contract, Strahan to earn that 4 week furlough this past August. If the Giants want to earn the title bid, this star-laden group must have impact and pay off the team.

Comclusion: Unfortunately the sober expectation is for a Packer victory. I believe in the Giants, but I think that the secondary is going to be asked to do too much. Maybe Ross and/or Madison surprise us. I am not counting on it. May the best team win, as long as it is the Giants.