Archive for the ‘Jay Alford’ Category

Jay Alford- Torn MCL

August 24, 2009

On Saturday night, we noted re Alford that “they said it was a sprain but it looked worse” and we said to wait for confirmation. It was worse. Torn MCL and partially torn ACL. One of the original email guys (from the precursor to this blog, pre 2006) is an MD and said he was fairly confident it was a torn MCL. And he reminded me that they said the same thing about Osi before revealing the full extent of the injury.

Alford is not a loss on the scale of Osi Umenyiora. But this is the first MAJOR injury of 2009. Remember, DL is not like any other unit. Every person on the roster who is on the DL is a starter. Everyone. They ALL play. Every time you see tongues hanging out it in the Q4, every time you see Osi or Tuck on the sidelines wondering why they are there.. it is because these guys get exhausted getting pounded on by 325 lb. linemen and then chasing after QBs play after play for 60 minutes. So Alford is a big loss.

We also found out yesterday that Canty’s injury is a hamstring tear. This from the DL who has not missed a single game in his 4 year career. It is worth noting that the 3 prime (high profile) free agent signings of Boley, Canty and Bernard have not yielded a single snap so far. Bernard is on the mend and Coughlin hopes that he’ll get practice and minutes this Saturday night, but this is not like any of them are “game ready.”

Coughlin and Motown (last night) remind us we are not deep anymore at DL. How true. Alford: season-ending IR? Not the DL roster solution we were looking for.

One more item.. Alford was a long snapper, so this makes Zak DeOssie’s chances for a roster spot significantly greater. After all, who else on this team is a long snapper?! DeOssie did not add anything to our LB corp, so we were quietly hoping he would not make the squad so that another LBer would.

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"The rookies" enter their 3rd year

July 22, 2009

A little while back I went to check a particular play from the Super Bowl, something jumped out at me… the first TD drive of the Giants at the beginning of Q4. With the exception of Tyree’s TD catch culminating the drive, every play was handled by a rookie!

Boss 45 yd pass play
Bradshaw 4 yd run
Bradshaw 2 yd run
Smith 17 yd pass play
Bradshaw 7 yd run

These guys are now entering their 3rd year, if they can all make the jump, it will be a very good year. It also underscores how all hands have to be on deck- in today’s NFL you need your rookies to hit the ground running, to be able to help the team out later in the year. Rookies who start at the beginning of the year get tired by the end because they are not ready for the grind, which can be twice as long as college. But the three rookies featured above are noteworthy for a few reasons.. (1) they all saw limited action for the first ~3/4ths of the season and (2) were all on the list of players who needed more playing from Gilbride last year and certainly need it this year in order for the team to make the jump. Everyone here knows full well that the jump from 2nd year to 3rd year pro in the NFL is usually a make or break proposition. We see no reason why the tremendous rookie class of 2007 cannot and should not make a quantum leap in production for this team.

In descending order of confidence:

Boss- once Plax went down, this man needed to be the center of the offensive passing attack. We argued for it late last season, it did not happen, but we do not see any reason (other than Gilbride neglect) why this kid cannot have a huge year. HUGE. But you don’t have to listen to us, just listen to Bavaro, get him the damn ball.

Smith- he’ll be taking Toomer’s spot at the possession wideout. Looking for big camp and big year.

Bradshaw- protect the ball and the rest is all downhill. There are no excuses for him or the coaching staff this year. NONE. Ward is gone, the snaps will be there, carry that ball high so that it does not get stripped. Run for daylight every single snap. Stretch opposing defenses the way it was done in the 2008 playoffs.

Johnson- surprised? It is more about bodies back there than anything else. Losing Wilson after 2007 and Butler in 2008 leaves a fulltime starter spot open for this guy with less rotation than the past two years.

Ross- ??..did he have a sophmore slump? Is it me, or did he come on like gangbusters early in 2007, only to get more yawns than impact thereafter? Yes, the Giants use a lot of press coverage, so without the DL to keep up the pressure as last season wore on, we saw Ross exposed. Time to make that big jump. At stake is nothing less than a Super Bowl, because with the superior depth of our DL in 2009 and the potential for bookend corners in Ross and Webster, this defense can be awfully stingy. At this point, it is not clear to me whether Thomas can offer even greater upside, given how he came on. So let’s see Ross do it, but we’d take either. Or both.

Alford- That sack of Brady still has us worshipping this guy! What can we say. We did not see a lot last season, and with Cofield and Robbins playing hurt, he had an opportunity and did not exactly bust the door down. With the depth this year, does he make the team?

DeOssie- Specials guys get cut if they are not competing for starting jobs by their 3rd season. But this guy is a long-snapper; is that enough to keep him on the roster? By the numbers, he is in trouble. Alford is a long snapper too, so one of them likely stays. With Boley hurt, Sintim hamstring(?), LBer is not exactly teeming with competition for roster spots. So it is up to DeOssie to stay on the field.

Musical Chairs at DL

July 14, 2009

9 men, 8 chairs. Round and round we go, when the music stops, nobody knows.

Those were interesting comments from Tollefson last week. He is one of the lesser known subs who certainly gets enough time in the rotation as a DE. But does he even make the team?! Let’s do the math..

Assuming that Douzable, Evans, Henderson, Hill, Bryant and JClark all do not make the team…

Umenyiora
Tuck
Canty
Bernard
Robbins
Cofield
Tollefson
Kiwanuka
Alford

One of these 9 does not make it. This would imply a shorter list of Cofield/Robbins/Bernard/Alford/Tollefson. I am no doctor, so far be it for me to make a guess about Cofield and Robbins after surgery. I am going to go with Robbins on the PUP list for now so that the Giants take their time, keep him fresh on a longer timetable and have his knees (ETC!) ready for the 2nd half push and postseason. Intentionally speaking, that is a nice luxury to have. Is Robbins better than others on this list? Of course, when healthy, YES. 100% comebacks from microfracture surgery take time. If Robbins were to have a very good camp or even get a lot of reps, it would make this decision harder. Then I would suspect that 1 of these guys- Cofield/Tollefson/Alford gets cut. Normally Cofield would not be there, since he was a starter. But he had offseason surgery too. Drilling down.. Tollefson or Alford? I suspect that Reese would have a shot at getting a late round draft pick for one of them.

The one good thing about all of this is that the Giants are very deep here… nice problem to have. If the Giants stay healthy in camp and some team that is thin at DL does not, then look for the Giants to possibly deal one of them. Why? Because Defensive Linemen are grown, they are not born… another team could make one of these guys a starter and 3 years from now they could be a solid cog in their defense.

Wonder’s take on the logjam at DL? “Robbins might be cut period. We’ll have to see how Tollefson, Cofield, Alford, Bernard look like in camp.” That sounds a little harsh to me. His salary is a reasonable $2.1M in the last year of his contract. A cheap enough call option. I would think the Giants PUP him before they cut him. This way they have an option w/o taking up a roster spot. To be fair, the Giants probably don’t know exactly what they are going to do- they need to see how everyone is doing this summer at camp and then simply evaluate who makes the most sense to be on the roster.

Summary: Robbins microfracture+DL+32 years old= PUP.

Giant Rush

August 17, 2008

Last Sunday, after finally getting a chance to review the tape, ultimatenyg noticed that the Lions were doing a lot of rollouts to keep the pass rush out of rhythm. We noted that it was not a concern because the Giants would make the adjustments.

On Thursday Ralph Vacchiano caught up with Spags and … they said they were happy they saw it in preseason and that they would make the adjustments.

A few extra remarks on the topic which were not mentioned by Vacchiano. (1) These maneuvers by teams will put a premium on depth, as these scrambling plays will tire your linemen even more than the normal game. Reese’s remarks about not being happy with the depth on our DL was a little disturbing- is that an indictment of the 2008 training camp progress of guys like Tollefson and Alford? That would not be good. (2) Since most QBs are right-handed they like to roll right so that they can pass more easily on the run. Kitna went to his right. Who used to be patrolling the right side of the opponent’s offense? None other than left-side DE Michael Strahan. Stray had the ability to sniff those things out, adjust super quick and immediately get after the QB. Not only that, Strahan was nothing short of stellar in his ‘containment’ of the pocket to avoid the flush out of guys like Garcia et al. So these are the little things the Giants will have to adapt to in 2008. Tuck is smart and has been mentored by the best. We may never see another DE again who can play ‘contain’ by holding the pocket together and simultaneously rushing the QB the way Strahan did, but Tuck will do it pretty well.

Jay Alford

June 10, 2008

Jay Alford talks with Giants.com about 2007 and 2008. We take it for granted the progression of a rookie, but Alford makes candid remarks about getting in shape, hitting the wall, managing the pull between specials/defensive unit work and getting more playing time. “I got a lot stronger this offseason, I want to work on my power rushing.” People do not understand that the position at interior DL is probably the second most difficult (next to QB) for a rookie to come right in and be successful. The physical demands are incredible. (That Cofield even started all 16 games as a rookie was incredible… not surprisingly we witnessed his first season tail off dramatically towards the end.) For Alford, if he can become a good lineman for the Giants he will only add to the amazing Rookie Class of 2007. Regardless of what he is able to do in his career, that sack of Tom Brady in the Super Bowl will always have a special place in our championship season.

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.