Archive for the ‘Pierce’ Category

Linebacker- Staple or Buggy Whip?

February 21, 2008

Bill Parcells: “I like linebackers. I collect ’em. You can’t have too many good ones.” He said that in the 1980s, when guys like Byron Hunt, Pepper Johnson and Andy Headen could have started for many other teams but were backups with the Giants. The game has evolved, with the NFL making the rules much harder for pass defenses. Passing statistics are inflated today because the rules make covering a receiver more difficult. Teams are drafting wide receivers to take advantage of the changes. And in turn, these same teams are more aggressive in going after cornerbacks in order to reply to the shift. Ernie Accorsi responded to this metamorphosis by going after defensive ends more aggressively so that quarterbacks could be disrupted on a good pass rush.

But what about linebacking? Is it a lost art, a position undergoing corporate downsizing from 3 to 2 as teams use 4 linemen, 5 defensive backs, with 2 LBs left over? Is there so much passing that you do not need LBs except on 1st down? In the past six seasons, there has been a tendency for slightly more passing attempts per game, but it is not significant enough to be a trend. When teams pass too much, they get one-dimensional and opposing defenses adjust and force those teams to balance with more run again. And considering that LBs are still needed for TEs and RBs in pass coverage, the role of these players is not going away by any stretch.

Giants Draft Choices in Round #1, Round #2
1998 S, WR
1999 OL, RB
2000 RB, DL
2001 CB
2002 TE, WR
2003 DL, DL
2004 QB, OL
2005 QB*,CB
2006 DL, WR
2007 CB, WR

There is only one position the Giants ignored with their first and/or second pick during this 10-year period … linebacker. (You have to go back to 1991, when the Giants picked Kanavis McGhee in the second round.) And it has been 24 years since the Giants drafted a LB #1: Carl Banks in 1984. The Giants have been extremely fortunate in recent years to anchor their LBs with players like 8th-rounder Jessie Armstead and free agents like Mike Barrow and Antonio Pierce. Mathias Kiwanuka was moved to LB because of need. Jerry Reese has been fabulous, but it is not rocket science to know that Kiwanuka moves better north (toward the QB) than south (to the TE). Kiwanuka is an impact lineman. He and Tuck will aid in the transition of Michael Strahan’s retirement. Accorsi might have been right to design a team that puts heat on the QB, gets talent on the corners, and plugs up with patchwork LBs, but you cannot totally neglect this position either. Since the NFL is a copycat league, you would expect pass rushing ends to go up in value. Does the NFL de-emphasize linebacking because of Accorsi’s actions? At this point it would appear that a high pick at (strongside) LB better be fast enough to blitz the QB or cover a TE to pay off the investment in today’s world of the pass.

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.

The 2 week layover

January 23, 2008

Is the two week layover good or bad for the Giants?

They are the hot team, so conventional wisdom argues that they want to play this weekend. Nope. Incorrect.

They have been going full throttle for 11 weeks straight with their last 3 obviously on the road, and they could use a ‘home game’ this weekend. I am reminded of the Giants-Ravens Super Bowl 7 years ago. A #1 seed with the bye vs a wild card winner that played 3 playoff games, the last two games on the road. The Ravens needed some rest and (in retrospect) many felt that the week off benefitted the Ravens more. The Steelers also won the Super Bowl after winning 3 wild card games and getting the 2 week layover. So the precedent is there for the wild card winner to benefit more.

The only reason to think it will hurt the Giants is that you believe they will lose their edge and not have that focus which has gotten them into the big game. I can only counter that with a sense that this team is confident and they still feel they have a lot to prove. They know their job is not over by any stretch.

In the meantime, guys like Pierce, O’Hara, Burress, Madison, Ross and McKenzie all played through injuries and they will benefit from an extra week off. Seubert, despite having an MRI on a knee sprain, says he will play. Maybe they can get Dockery back. I do not think this layover does anything but help the gmen. Now if you are going to mention the TMZ report about Brady wearing a boot, his leg would have to be broken in 3 different places in order for him to be out of the Super Bowl if it were being played now, this weekend, or next weekend.

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.

the glass is three quarters empty

May 6, 2007

Before the sugar-coated one-sided pr pieces come out on how wonderful every player is through minicamp and preseason, let’s list objective reasons for why we are going to suck this year.

1) You cannot teach accuracy. There is plenty of room for Manning to improve, but the studies show that QB ratings start leveling off in Y3, and Manning’s was FLAT. Unfortunately we are not going to see a serious jump in his production.

2) Jerry Reese’s plan for Left Tackle is a bust so far. He has been trying to get Cleveland’s LT, but even that would be yet another “stabilizer.” Speaking of stabilizers…

3) LB Kawika Mitchell, DT Marcus Bell, DB Michael Stone, QB Anthony Wright, K Marc Hickok, P Cory Ohnesorge.

4) We still do not have a kicker. Another stabilizer coming.

5) There are still medical questions about lisfranc foot injuries in terms of Strahan’s ability to come back at the same pro-bowl level of play. He is 36.

6) There are no medical questions about ACL injuries- Toomer will not be ‘effective’ in his first year back. Considering his age, he is headed toward being cut or becoming that classic “third-down” possesion receiver.

7) You lose something when you take your most recent #1 (Kiwanuka) and try to change his position. Dialing up this guy’s weight like a video control and making him into a different player is rarely pulled off at the level of the NFL. I agree that it would be good to have Kiwanuka and our pro bowl ends on the field at the same time but Kiwanuka is not likely going to be a pro bowl LB, certainly not this year. In fact, he is going to make a few mistakes during games that will cost us.

8) Gilbride and Palmer are retreads. Gilbride deserved a promotion after being part of the problem in Manning’s lack of improvement? Someone explain to me how THIS GUY is going to help Manning. Was Hufnagel the root of all evil and Gilbride blocked from succeeding? I doubt it highly.

9) Coughlin is a retread in a retread year. No one wants to play for us this season because we are dead Coughlin walking. I do not think he motivates his players properly. He treats them equally and that is a mistake. His undoing will come in the latter part of the season when he has them out in pads yet again in practice, sucking whatever energy they have so that they can get the first score and pack the rest of the game in.

10) We still have the same problems at LB and Secondary that we had last year. We are getting the 2006 history lesson that the Lewis system was truly a harm to Webster (and Pierce and Wilson) making plays. I am hopeful this can be the case and that our new coord will make a difference… but either Webster is going to make big improvement or he is gone.

Please note that I specifically did not list the departure of Tiki… I am very bullish on Brandon Jacobs. Of course he will not be able to fill Tiki’s shoes but he will do a very good job wearing down defenses.