Archive for the ‘Strahan’ 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.

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Coughlin spoke w Francesa today

February 8, 2008

Coughlin mentioned two rookie “unheralded” plays… (1) when McQuarters fumbles away one of those late punt returns vs the Packers, one guy from GB is trying to pick it up and flubs, and it is Michael Johnson who pops it out of there so that Hixon can recover. (2) In the Super Bowl, when Ahmad Bradshaw fumbles, he gets back his own fumble with cool resourcefulness.

When the subject of Tuck came up, Coughlin praised Tuck immensely and pointed out that last year when he got injured, the team really missed him and Michael Strahan.

Separately, nothing to do with this interview, they have an 18 minute version of Super Bowl highlights on NFL Films, and they showed that on the very first play of the game- a kickoff to Hixon, he only gets to ~near the 20 yard line. Hixon was face masked for SECONDS and it would have been 15 yards.

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.

PHIL SIMMS AND FINAL THOUGHTS ON XLII

February 3, 2008

I am not a very big Mike Francesa fan, but he did a beautiful job articulating all of the storylines for this Super Bowl. In a nutshell, this matchup has the ability to live up to the hype for the first time in a long time because of the 18-0 season of the Patriots. And if the Giants were to somehow pull off an upset, it would also imply an epic game and one of the biggest upsets in all of sports. So we are going to see some form of history tonight, and if the game is competitive it will be very special.

Phil Simms was on for an hour. Newer blog readers know that I think the world of Simms for too many reasons to list here, but suffice it to say that I respect his opinions and views immensely. Phil can be wrong- he picked the Raiders over the Bucs in the Super Bowl ~5 years ago. He also contended that the Giants were fine for being conservative on offense in Q4 vs Dallas, something I disagree with in a HUGE way.

Against Dallas (3 weeks ago) he thought the Giants would be competitive and had a chance at possibly winning the game. TODAY HE THINKS “THE GIANTS CAN HAVE A CHANCE TO BEAT THE PATRIOTS.” So his sentiments are eerily similar. What does that mean? It simply tells us that we are not completely subjective and biased for thinking that the Giants have a chance.

* Almost everyone he has spoken with thinks the Patriots are going to score in the 40’s and and are going to win easily, but that he is not of that opinion.
* It will be a lower scoring game than most think and it will be more competitive.
* The NYG are on an emotional high that he has not seen in sports.
* Two keys are (1) can the Giants DL be disruptive (2) can the Giants be more physical on offense.
* Has heard this fast turf is in excellent condition and will be even faster, which benefits speed.

In terms of the players who benefit from speed, this means Moss, Welker, Umenyiora and Bradshaw.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Win the game, win it ALL, win the SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONSHIP. Are we underdogs? Yes. But if we have that small chance to win, I want to win. I will leave it with the final thought from Michael Strahan after the Patriot loss in W17:
“It’s frustrating because when you have a team like this up against the ropes, you can’t afford to do that,” Strahan said. “I guess I am supposed to be happy that we are going to the playoffs and we played well and we came almost close but that is not good enough for me. I’m not out there to play and be fish food,” Strahan continued. “I’d rather be the fish. I want to eat it.” Beat the Patriots tonight and win the title!

Super Bowl quick takeaways

February 2, 2008

A list of reasons for why the Giants will lose the Super Bowl:

1) The Patriots offense is as good as the ’99 Rams, maybe better.
2) Tom Brady is one of the best QBs of our generation.
3) Bill Belichick is one of the best coaches of our generation.
4) The Patriots have too many ways to win a ball game.
5) Umenyiora and Burress- talk is cheap.
6) A Pats win means the ’72 Dolphins crybabies can finally go away.
7) Is Coughlin/Gilbride ready for primetime?

A list of reasons for why the Giants will win the Super Bowl:

1) The Giants played NE already and know what it will take to win.
2) Toomer and Strahan: The Giants are here to win the game.
3) You cannot plan a ring. Seau and Barber both get denied.
4) The road warriors are on the road.
5) Confidence.
6) 18-0. The bigger they are the harder they fall.
7) The Patriots defense is the chink in the armor.
8) This team is resilient. Bruschi on the gmen: “…incredible mental toughness.”
9) 1990 analog.