Archive for the ‘Michael Strahan’ Category

To Headcoach or Not to Headcoach

June 12, 2009

Your team has just gotten another losing season, the head coach has been fired and it is time to pick a successor who will hopefully turn things around. Who do you hire? Do you hire a new head coach who has previously been a head coach with another NFL team, OR do you hire a head coach who does not have any previous experience as an NFL head coach?

The answer from this blog- take the rising assistant head coach. Roll the dice on the new and unproven. Why? Because the goal is championships, and the data shows that NEW head coaches have won many more Super Bowl championships. If your goal is to restore your franchise to respectability, by all means get a retread. They will win you games and give your fans a playoff appearance. But if you are playing to go all the way, get the coordinator who has done some very good things, give him the keys to the car and let him drive.

HC Super Bowl winners w/ no previous NFL HC experience
Lombardi
Stram
McCafferty
Landry
Noll
Madden
Flores
Walsh
Gibbs
Ditka
Parcells
Seiffert
Johnson
Switzer
Holmgren
Billick
Cowher
Tomlin

HC Super Bowl winners w/ previous NFL HC experience
Ewbank
Shula
Shanahan
Vermeil
Belichick
Gruden
Dungy
Coughlin

18 out of 26. 69%. 72% if you count them by total titles.

Here is where we editorialize also. In this blogger’s not-so-humble opinion, Coughlin does not win a Super Bowl unless he is ordered to CHANGE and start communicating better with his players by John Mara after a contentious implosion in 2006. Strahan, Burress and others all noted the difference that Coughlin had made. He changed(see minute ~6:30). He was available to players. He listened to them. In fact, we cited here that one of the reasons why the Giants pulled it all off is that the players asked Coughlin for more rest (more sane practices) as the season wore on, Coughlin gave it to them, and the Giants became the road warriors, winning 11 straight on the road. In short, Coughlin bonded with his players in a way that he never would have done when with the Jaguars OR the Giants in 2005 and 2006. Asterisk.

Belichick had an absolutely horrible situation with an imploding franchise that packed up in the middle of the night to escape town. Every former head coach who is interviewing for a new chance is going to tell you they have the extenuating circumstances that makes them the candidate to come in and win a title. But the numbers say you are better off with a new face.

Some of you are thinking- but what about the fact that in the last 12 years, 6 out of 9 of those coaches had previous HC experience. That this is the new era of free agency… Perhaps it is true that there is less patience on behalf of owners, who see teams like the Rams go from worst to first. The turnover of free agency makes life in the NFL far more volatile. The Raiders fire Gruden (more attributable to Al Davis literally losing his mind) when they are knocking on the door. Every HC that wins after losing elsewhere has a story of redemption. Maybe it is true that you have to pay attention to the extenuating circumstances more, because franchises may be making more mistakes in letting guys go too early. Steve Spagnuolo, Ken Whisenhunt, Rex Ryan… these are the types of guys who will give you the fresh start, the best shot. Mangini with prev experience as a head coach? No.

So, do you go with the last 9 datapoints? Or the first 25 (23 out of 25, pretty scary, eh?). We’ll choose to look at all 34 and say that the new guy gives you the fresh blueprint and supports Rule #11. Of course there are exceptions. If the Giants had a vacancy and John Fox was let go by the Panthers, I would want Fox back here BECAUSE of the work he has done in Carolina. Fox + Reese would be scary good.

Summary: All things being equal, take the new head coach, not the retread. Only take a HC with former HC experience if there are very strong circumstances arguing for why the candidate deserves another opportunity.

Here comes the draft..

April 24, 2009

Michael Strahan Autographed Football for Draft Contest Winner Deadline for entering the contest is Saturday at 4PM. Deadline for selecting a trade of any kind in your picks is today Friday. Need any ideas? Here is a mock draft of Round 1 to get you started, right below. Thanks once again to Monster.com’s NFL Department of Fandemonium for sponsoring the contest.

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.”

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.

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.

Beat writers for the New York Giants

August 5, 2008

Tom Rock answers 5 questions about the Gmen. Ultimatenyg follows.

With all due respect, Mr. Rock, you ain’t no Neil Best, and you certainly are not Arthur Staple.

Question 1: What is the biggest concern for the Giants heading into this year?

Rock- Strahan’s presence off the field.
Ultimatenyg- LINEBACKER. Pierce’s wheels keep coming off by the end of the season, Kiwi is making progress but is going to get picked on by Dallas et al, Wilkinson was supposed to be the de facto starter at WL and he is first getting cleared to practice.. and last but not least, with Strahan missing ON the field we no longer have half the field shut down for the run, making LB that much more important.

Question 2: What is the most recent news on Plaxico Burress? Has he practiced yet? Is he injured, or unhappy with his contract?
Rock did fine here. It is always the money, and Rock hit that one.

Question 3: What were the Giants’ offseason (gains and) losses?Rock- Strahan and Shockey.
Ultimatenyg- This is where I went nuts. Ever hear of a guy named Gibril Wilson? Shockey was already wasted by Gilbride. At 36, Strahan was not a complete surprise. Not to mention 26 year old Gibril Wilson here was insane… the Giants (rightly so) obsessed about this position, bringing Dahl back in, keeping the slo-mo Butler, bringing in Sammy Knight, drafting Safety with the #1 pick. ALL because Wilson left.

Question 4: What is the team’s biggest strength going into the 2008 season?
Rock- WR, and the diversity of their running game.
Ultimatenyg- WR? C’mon. This shows no knowledge of football, because even if you had Jerry Rice and Randy Moss, WR is still NOT a critical part of football. As evidence, the weaker secondary of the Giants took Randy Moss out of the Super Bowl last year. WR is not an impact position, so even if it is a strength, it is not relevant enough to be considered the TEAM’S biggest strength. Plaxico Burress played on one leg, Toomer caught some nice passes, Tyree made a miracle catch, Smith made some big grabs, and STILL WR is not what won the Giants the Super Bowl. This game is won and lost in the trenches. The offensive and defensive lines of scrimmage. So clearly the answer still has to be the defensive line of the NY Giants, because even with the loss of the almighty Strahan, you have Kiwi blitzing like the closet lineman he is, you will have Tuck starting, Osi, Robbins and Tollefson having an allegedly good camp, 2nd and 3rd year interior linemen Alford and Cofield ready to bring it up a notch.

Question 5: What is the best and worst part about covering training camp in Albany? Is this the worst time of year to be an NFL beat writer?
Rock- The best part is not having to cover the Favre angle every day. Covering Free Agency is hard and covering the team after 10 days of camp is hardest because the obvious stories have been written.
Ultimatenyg- The worst part is asking Pierce where the next Giants leader is going to be. The second worst part is having to ask Coughlin about every bleeping bowel movement of Plaxico Burress. The best part is not having to read your own drivel. The worst time of year for a beat writer is anytime you wait 5 hours for an interview that ends up being a no-show.

No offense to Rock, but the Ultimate-nyg favorite beat writers are:
1. Schwartz
2. Garafolo
3. DiTrani
4. Vacchiano
5. Staple (Yankees? Giants?)

They all sell their soul for access, but at least they know what the score is with that jerk Hanlon.

You’ll miss him when he’s gone…

August 2, 2008

Those were the words of Bill Parcells when Simms was in the twilight of his career. In the middle of a Parcells news conference, Simms was busy getting nitpicked by the media when Parcells set them straight. The void that leaders who retire, the special ones like Strahan … are hard to fill. When someone on the opposition runs us ragged left and right, I’ll be missing Strahan an awful lot. For now, this humorous Q&A with Serby will have to postpone my Strahan withdrawal. Of particular note is (alert alert, I-told-you-so moment) that Strahan has verified the ultimatenyg stance on Kiwinuka> GET HIM BACK TO LEFT DEFENSIVE END, WHERE HE BELONGS. For more on that, you can read an old post which explicitly argues that same conclusion.

Lately we have been hearing from Coughlin and Marvelous on how Kiwanuka is going to do well at LB. This will be great if it happens. If Kiwi is so talented that he can somehow make an impact at LB the same way we know he can as a lineman, then I think it speaks more to Kiwi’s resolve than the Giants’ planning. Rule 1 of The Rules for Winning in the NFL states that your #1 pick is dominant, not versatile. I will stand by the view that the Giants are content to move Kiwi to LB so that he can fill a need, not make an impact. This ‘puts him on the field’ so that he can rush the QB intermittently, a job he should be doing on every down.

Favre asks for unconditional release from Packers

July 12, 2008

Favre has asked the GB packers to unconditionally release him so that he can play football again in 2008.

How many times has this guy retired now? I lost track. We all put him up on a pedestal when he retired in March to honor his place as one of the top 10 quarterbacks of all time. So what do you want the Packers organization to do NOW? It is July and Favre has the itch to play again. I feel for the Packers because they are trying to move on. This is a disruptive move for them. Even if they made it known that they would not be receptive to another year, they have him under contract and could have easily traded him back in February to any of a host of teams that would logically feel they are a QB away from a title. And they should be able to do that now as well. But training camp opens up in less than 2 weeks, so any suitor has already lost at least SOME interest in a player like this. There really are no winners. If I am the Packers, out of respect for MY organization I try to trade him and if I cannot get much of anything I would then release him.

What kind of impact will Favre have with another team? He better join a team with an offensive line, because that itch to get back in the game will turn out to be a nightmare if he is getting clocked all the time. The only thing that is perfectly clear to me is that this is a mistake for Favre. Strahan is looking like a freaking genius right now. #92 spent some time, thought it over, made sure it was what he was going to do, did it and has made the right choice. The likelihood for Favre is that he will be joining a new system (even if it is something similar to the offense in GB), will have new linemen he needs to be on the same page with, new receivers he needs to be on the same page with… new trust issues he will have with his coaches. Unless he gets a “super” fit this is a can of worms of enormous proportions. He could have the greatest fit imaginable, still get blindsided at his age and not fully recover from injury. I respect his will to win, his will to play, but if the Giants taught him anything in his last game as a pro, it was that he was coming up a little short and needed to take a seat. In Canton.

ESPN Coaches Poll

July 6, 2008

Rodney Harrison voted dirtiest player

Hines Ward voted (Non-QB) smartest offensive player

Zach Thomas voted smartest defensive player This one is a good read because they point out how smart players are always anticipating tendencies.

Rooney has the best reputation for an owner in the league.

Giants players receiving votes were Pierce (dirtiest), Strahan (smartest), and former Giant Nick Greisen as (notably) the youngest of those who received votes for smartest defensive player.