Archive for the ‘Smith’ Category

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.

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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

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 BOWL CHAMPIONS!!!!! Pt. 2

February 4, 2008

I thought Super Bowl XXI and Super Bowl XXV were sweet. Super Bowl XLII’s victory is beyond anything I could have imagined. It is a figure of speech to ask someone to pinch you when you are having doubts imagining that reality is indeed exceeding anything you could have dreamed about, but I found myself doing that because the win was so surreal. We thought the Giants had a chance, but did any of us truly KNOW that we were going to come out winners tonight?! And when we went ahead 10-7 we thought it was possible. And when it was 3rd and goal for the Patriots at the 8 and a stop forces a possible OT, are we thinking win when Moss gets the TD? There is enough time left, 3 timouts. But can we go down the field? I just saw the replay and it was a Brandon Jacobs falling forward on 4th and 1 or else we are thinking of what could have been. Miracle play after play kept the drive alive. Manning getting out of that sack and then the scramble for….The catch by Tyree on the helmet?!!!! That play was better than Mark Ingram on 3rd and 12 in 1991! I never thought I would hear myself say that. And then the Steve Smith (okay, you are forgiven for the INT) catch for 11 yards and a 1st down. And then Burresssss in the end zone for TD!!! Comfortably NUMB! The rookie Alford sacks Brady to put them in the hail mary and the game is sealed!!!! UNBELIEVABLE!!!! ELI MANNING GETS A FREE PASS FOR THE REST OF HIS CAREER!!! THE GIANTS ARE SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS!!!!!

Analysis of Super Bowl XLII

January 30, 2008

There are going to be many battles within this war on Sunday night.

WHEN THE GIANTS HAVE THE BALL:
1) Burress vs Samuel/Hobbs. There are two reasons why Plax opened his mouth with “23-17.” One is because he has S*** for brains. The second is that he is genuinely pumped to be in this game and feeling about as well as he has felt in a long time. He has a 7″ height advantage on these guys, played well against them before and he clearly has an.. EDGE NYG.
2) Steve Smith vs Randall Gay. I would normally say Gay has the advantage, but Smith is getting better every game and one would think he will make plays.
3) Giant OL vs Patriots DL. Wilfork is very important to this team, but the Giants have demonstrated time and again the ability to control the line of scrimmage. Pickup of Vrabel on the blitz is imperative… this is how they get to the passer. EDGE NYG.
4) Jacobs/Bradshaw vs Seau/Bruschi/Vrabel. Ability vs Experience. Jacobs has shown a tendency to fumble the ball after a layoff.. please protect the ball. Bradshaw’s speed is a HUGE advantage over this aging group of experienced veterans if the Giants are smart enough to leverage it often. EDGE NYG.
5)Manning vs Belichick. Belichick is smart and will not let Manning sit back there with time. He will mix up coverages a lot more than the Packers did, and do his best to confuse and fluster Eli. The old Eli would not be up to the task. The new Eli has shown he is because Gilbride has smartly mixed up playcalling (when they are not ahead in Q4) and made the game shorter so that Manning is not back there so long that he can have that turnover. Manning does best with LESS time and MORE reflex. He is best when he has to throw to a spot before the WR is there. I see no reason why Gilbride will change this- it is a quicker game and Manning does best in it. The edge will go to Belichick in deference to his myriad # of SB successes, but Manning can control this outcome if he keeps doing what has gotten him here. EDGE PATS.
6) Giants offense vs Patriots defense summary- Bradshaw and Burress have the distinct advantage that must be leveraged. If the running game gets on track, then Manning’s play action becomes lethal too. EDGE NYG.

WHEN THE PATRIOTS HAVE THE BALL:
1) Moss vs Webster/double team- Any need for discussion? The Giants need to be physical and force him inside. Webster has improved but this is in need of help(doubling) and that means EDGE PATS.
2) Welker vs Ross- The Giants must be very physical here and do the 1991 Super Bowl ‘Andre Reed redux’ by kicking the living snot out of this player. He lives near the line of scrimmage on short stuff, so you have to pound him and disrupt the timing. Welker likes coming back to the ball (as all good WRs must do), and then he curls around to break the first defender’s tackle. It was really helpful that the Giants saw this guy already, because they know all about how he kills teams. EDGE PATS.
3) Pats OL vs Giants DL- Earth to Osi Umenyiora, Earth to Osi Umenyiora, come in please?!!! It is time for us to see Umenyiora make an impact. I know he is getting doubled, but he often gets singled too by Light, so GET TO BRADY please and cause havoc. This is the most pivotal matchup of the game. When Flozell Adams buckled in Q3 of the Dallas game, the Giants went from needing a miracle to win to getting that miracle and winning. Good pitching beats good hitting, good OLs beat good DLs. Strahan is going to play the game of his life. Will Umenyiora? I think not. The only hope for the Giants is Tuck on mismatches with a Guard. EDGE PATS.
4) Maroney/Faulk vs Pierce/Mitchell/Torbor. Maroney was held in check, but Faulk never is. Faulk must be blanketed or else he will kill you on those 3rd down conversions. EDGE PATS.
5) Brady vs Spagnuolo. Thank goodness for Spags. Otherwise this would not even be a contest and I would not be wasting my time typing this entire analysis. Brady is there with Montana and the great ones of all time. Spags and this Giant defense have seen Brady-Garcia-Romo-Favre the past 4 games, so the good news for the Giants is that they are not getting a shock to the system. Spags will put as much pressure on Brady as possible and Brady will still win. EDGE PATS.
6) Patriots offense vs Giants defense summary- The trick to beating the Patriots is to bend but not break here. They are going to score points. They just cannot score 35-40 points. EDGE PATS.

SPECIAL TEAMS:
Tynes benefited greatly from making that big 47 yarder. Confidence is everything. Hixon and the kickoff unit put a great deal of pressure on the opposing team and they just get better and better every game. EDGE NYG.

COACHING:
Edge Belichick, EDGE PATS.

GAME SUMMARY:
Objectively speaking, the edge that the Giants offense has over the Patriots defense is not as great as the edge of the Patriots offense over the Giants defense. Specials will give the Giants a shorter field than the Patriots, but will that be enough? My two keys to the game are: 1) GILBRIDE MUST ATTACK EARLY AND OFTEN AND KEEP PUTTING PRESSURE ON THE PATRIOTS DEFENSE FOR 60 MINUTES.. NOT FOR ONLY 50:33 .. NOT THE LETUP WE SAW IN W17 WHEN WE HAD A LEAD. 2) UMENYIORA MUST GET TO BRADY. I will go out on a limb and say that if either of these two things happen the Giants will win the game. I do not think that that happens because I have seen Umenyiora mostly quiet vs the better Offensive Tackles these past 4 games, and I have not seen Gilbride use Bradshaw as much as he needs to and use the offense in the 4th quarter (unless they are behind).

It is there for the taking for the Giants. How badly do they want it? No one gives you anything. Championships are won, championships are not not lost. There is an opening here for the Giants to be physical and win, but everything must go right. You must be bold and not be afraid to lose. I have my doubts about what the playcalling will be like in Q4. We know that if you fall behind vs the Patriots it is going to be hard to win, so what if the Giants actually have a lead in Q4? Do you want a 3-4 pt lead vs Brady in Q4 and have Gilbride put the brakes on and think that R-R-P-K is going to win you a Super Bowl? He needs to understand that the only way you are going to deny Brady a chance to win is with you running out the clock, and that means keeping up the attack offense, getting first downs and keeping the ball until the game is OVER. How much respect do you have for Mr. Brady, Mr. Gilbride? No lead is safe, and if the Giants did not understand that from playing him already, then we deserve to lose. But if the Giants are able to realize that the best defense vs Brady is an offense that stays on the field ALL the time, then we do have a very realistic chance.

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.