In CC Brown We Do Not Trust

September 19, 2009

Thursday: Phillips was back to practice (even making a few INTs).
Friday: Phillips misses practice; status for Sunday questionable.

NY Times: Among the injuries to the secondary, the most worrisome seemed to be the one to Phillips, who could be hampered all season. “We are going to manage this for the year, yes,” Coughlin said of Phillips’s knee injury.

When asked if he would play Sunday, Phillips said: “I hope so. It kind of gets you down a little bit. It’s up in the air right now. I want to make sure, if I play, I’m 100 percent.”

If Phillips is out and we have to rely on CC Brown as a starter against a fairly potent passing attack led by Tony Romo/Jason Witten et al, this will definitely be a MAJOR obstacle to winning on Sunday.

As we stated 2 months ago, depth at Safety was one of the 5 issues this team faced this season. Now that Coughlin has disclosed that Phillips has an injury which will need attention all season, it means Safety depth is now a season-long reality, no longer just a blip on the radar. Master of the obvious- Reese is looking everywhere for roster help at Safety.

Alford, Canty, Boley, Phillips, Ross and Dockery. ENOUGH ALREADY!

There is good news: Osi is back in 2007 form, Boley is practicing well, Bernard is contributing and the knee guys at DT (Robbins and Cofield) seem to be doing well.

Tomorrow night’s keys to the game.

Dallas Preview

September 18, 2009

1) Read it and weep: Canty (calf) is out for the game on Sunday.

2) Dallas Game Preview

Wonder Game Plan for the Giants defense:
a) Do NOT let WR’s get “over the top”
b) Treat WITTEN as a WR
c) POUR in on ROMO…he does NOT like pressure
d) RUN BLITZES should also do well
e) ATTACK CONSTANTLY; their Oline is not as good as it was

And Ultimatenyg will add one more:
f) Maintain pocket integrity because if you let Romo out of the pocket he buys time and is far more effective.

As far as the Giants offense is concerned:
a) Give help to Diehl on DeMarcus Ware
b) Exploit a vulnerable Dallas defense that will try to stop the run

Mike Francesa points to the limping Giants secondary for why he likes Dallas to win the game. Considering the Boys are home and favored in their new stadium, that is not an outrageous call. Phil Simms likes the Cowboys. Add that weaker handicapper Warren Sapp likes the Giants, and it is not particularly encouraging. Simms is not infallible, but all else equal we’d rather have him on our side.

No forecast from us, but two reasons why you should not count the Giants out: the road warriors and Wade Phillips.

3) Did you ever ask yourself why sportswriters, during the game, have TWO recaps being written, one for each possible result of winning and losing?

How convenient it is to have two versions of the game, one dialed in for a view with rose-colored glasses when they win, one with a coroner’s autopsy glasses when they lose. How come no one rips these journalists for that bs? At least around here, we take shots at the Offensive Coordinator, win OR lose! Today we’ll just let Banks do the dirty work for us instead. Take it away Carl…

4) Papa and Banks Show on Giants.comCarl Banks on why the team struggles and is 10% below league average on short yardage/red zone (see minute 12:30):
a) spread out your formations so that you are not predictable
b) pass more

Meat and Potatoes Football, bullbrown rules

September 17, 2009

1) Patrick Crayton hates the Giants. Brandon Jacobs hates the Cowboys. DeMarcus Ware hates the Giants. Chris Canty is being asked to hate the Cowboys. What else is new?

2) Lots of turnover in the Giants roster. Gone are Douzable and Reyes. The Giants have flopped a set of Johnsons (Michael, Bruce, Gartrell). Wonder color on the new roster addition:

RB Gartrell Johnson: a STEAL off the waiver wire..solidly built 5-10 or so 220-225….quick and strong…was a FOURTH round pick… Chargers SCREWED UP trying to “store him” on practice squad…like Jets did with Derrick Ward…hope he does as well !!

Separate and independent confirmation from Cody:

“I love this G Johnson kid. GREAT addition; I remember watching him @ Colorado St. He can run straight through people. I think this is a total steal. GMen were at the right place, right time with this one. Reese is a total stud. He isn’t the fastest guy out there – but he is a one cut runner (perfect for the Giants run blocking scheme) and will absolutely run through people. He might be a factor and I think he can definitely play the Brandon Jacobs bone-crusher role for those inevitable weeks that B.J. is nicked-up. The lesson as always: In Jerry R we trust.”

We have noted this before. It is not as if the Giants need a RB and then look at who is out there. They are constantly evaluating other team’s rosters and practice squads so that they are ready when (a) a player goes down on their team or (b) someone else cuts a player of interest from one of the other 31 rosters. It shows in the way they got Hedgecock, Hixon, Ward and now Gartrell Johnson.

We play the Chargers later this season. Ya think Johnson is going to be fired up and have something to prove? He needs plenty of carries that game.

The Giants also added two new players to its practice squad..
TE Bear Pascoe: rookie “journeyman” type TE who won’t amount to anything…but maybe gives them some blocking depth if needed
CB Michael Coe: 190 lb… mediocre…played some for Colts…won’t provide anything

3) Oh yah, I forgot. Will someone pls explain to me the insanity of the ruling/rules where Louis Murphy (where did you hear that name before?) catches his first of two rookie TD passes on Monday night, only to have it disallowed? You catch the ball with possession, you get two feet in bounds, that is a catch. This is ludicrous. It is enough to drive Al Davis insane. Oh wait, he already is.

4) Speaking of insane, Michael Crabtree needs his head examined. He drops from where he is expected to go, ~3rd to 5th in the draft, to the 10th spot and gets selected by the 49ers. So now he wants Heyward-Bey 7th-draft-pick money. YOU WERE PICKED 10th! Get over it. This is right in line with Jerry Rice’s rant on the state of the WR in professional football. Nothing professional about it.

If Crabtree keeps cutting his nose to spite his face and re-enters the draft in 2010, he’ll blow all the countless millions he would have made this year and will not even be able to work out for any of the other 31 teams. PLUS, and this is where it gets really browned up, he’ll drop in the draft FURTHER next year and then… he’ll want SOMEONE ELSE’S MONEY ABOVE HIM AGAIN?!!! He and Plaxico should compare notes- they’re both WR divas without a team, out of football, trying to save themselves thousands when it ends up costing them millions. Our free advice to Crabtree, a la Adam Schiff (Steven Hill) of Law and Order: “Make the deal.”

5) Don’t look now, but here comes Shockey in Week 6. I’ll never forget the quote he made after around 3 or 4 seasons in NY when asked about his latest injury. Paraphrased, he said that you were not playing hard enough if you were not playing hurt. Whereas everyone else in the NFL was trying to take care of their bodies, Shockey was looking to pound on enough opponents to make sure he was not. Maybe Brees and Payton have been reprogramming that pea brain: “I’ve come to realize that being healthy in this game is a privilege,” he said. “You’ve got to work on it to earn that privilege.” I was always a big proponent of Shockey while he was here. He was not coached properly. Where was the coaching staff to knock some sense and discipline into someone who openly admitted he needed to be playing hard enough to assure he was hurt? Yah, and I could see Parcells tolerating that, as well as those 1st down celebrations. Not. The revamped TE hosts the Giants Week 6.

Wednesday Morning QB

September 16, 2009

1) Hat’s off to Jim Zorn on the Fake FG at the end of the half. He’s down 17-0, the argument you always hear from the broadcasters (ie Madden) is that you have to get those first points, they’ll kick the FG and be happy to go into the H2 with something to build on. Instead they faked and scored a TD. Rule #8, Do the Unpredictable. There were 77,000 people in the stadium that were completely faked out. Half of our section was already filing out to the bathroom. If the fake does not work, you can rest assured that everyone will be questioning it, but you know on this blog that one of the things we like is shooting the moon. Taking chances. You can only lose the game once. Zorn was smart enough to know his offense was going to need a little help. He gets his team to within one score and an onside kick in part because of this fake.

Parcells faked the punt with Gary Reasons vs the 49ers, or else I am afraid there are probably only two Super Bowl titles up there at the top of this blog instead of three. You can only lose the game once.

Doing the unpredictable, taking a gamble.. has other side benefits. It tells the team you are there to win. It tells the team you as a coach have skin in the game. Every player has to know that Snyder is watching Zorn. So if that does not work, Zorn is going to have a lot of egg on his face. Or does he? Maybe because it was the right thing to do, he earned himself some respect. Now as for that offense of his, that is another piece of egg..

2) One great way to learn is (as an example) listen to Michael Strahan on the voiceover of the Super Bowl DVD. The entire set is worth it just to be able to hear his commentary. He noted how the coaches emphasized to the players to “do the ordinary” things… collectively if they all did those things it would amount to something extraordinary> winning the Super Bowl! What ordinary things? BLOCKING AND TACKLING. Staying in your lane, not abandoning your assignment.

3) Notice how (in the same link above) Umenyiora fessed up on the opening 37 yard running play by Portis. Do you think that mistake happens because, in part, it is Osi’s first game (not counting preseason) since the Super Bowl?! You have to give him that. And the defense too. Look at Chris Canty: “It felt like I played 50 plays and I only played 20. I was a little gassed,” Canty said. “It’s hard to simulate game action in practice. It’s something I was glad to have an opportunity to experience. If I had my preference, don’t miss preseason. Preseason is important.” That was fantastic giving Canty enough plays to tire him but not enough to injure him. The coaches will step up Canty’s plays again this weekend. Pierce wants to see a lot of Canty against his old team.

4) We noted yesterday that the Jets had won only one game. So did Simms. Simms is the trusted voice of reason amidst the hyperbole.

5) The Giants picked up RB Gartrell Johnson off of waivers (Chargers). They released Allen Patrick from the practice squad.

6) Is it me, or are there plenty of poor decisions on fielding punts inside the 10 and returning kickoffs from inside the end zone? Go to minute 1:50 and watch McKelvin return the kickoff. The setup is even more important, because with ~2 minutes remaining the kickoff team of the Bills has a number of players up at the 40 yard line IN CASE OF AN ONSIDE KICK. So why is your return man taking the ball out when 6 to 8 of his ten men will clearly not be set up properly for a normal return AND the kick is 3 yards deep in the end zone? Of course we get to Wednesday morning QB that one, but with two minutes left in the game you have to be protecting the ball and the game.

7) Another big loss for the Eagles.

8) Giants are +3 this weekend in Dallas.

9) Justin Tuck- NFC Defensive Player of the Week. He was saddled with injuries on the back end of the 2008 season, so this is nice to see. Is there anyone on this team (on either side of the ball) who is able to play at a higher and more consistent level than Tuck? I don’t think so. If you do, pls share. Guys like him do not even get much discussion because you know what you are going to get. When we discuss how great the defense can be, it ASSUMES that Tuck will be his typical disruptive self and that we just need the others like Canty and Boley to come around and assist.

10) Speaking about getting the defense to be dominant, healthwise we still need Ross, Sintim and Dockery back. Ross is (99%) out again this weekend. Between Coughlin being pleased with Bruce Johnson, Thomas aok and the chances for Dockery coming back, it seems rather reasonable to let Ross heal that hamstring.

They’ll walk through a wall for you

September 15, 2009

1) We talk about how the difference between teams #1 thru #26 in the NFL is not very large. Intangibles like coaching and emotion can make a #26 play like a #1 and we have numerous examples of coaches who turn good teams into underachievers in crunch time (think Marty Schottenheimer, Wade Phillips). It is only Week 1, it does not mean anything YET long term, but they are playing for Rex Ryan so far.

2) Wonder and I discussed the red zone problems. Everyone knows this is not a new problem. Remember the Steelers game last season? 1 for 6 in the red zone, the lone success at the end of the game on.. PLAY ACTION?! The Giants were 0 for 3 on Sunday vs the Skins. SAME STORY.

So what is going on? When the Giants are down by the goal line in 3rd and 1 from the 1 or thereabouts, Wonder reminds us of Marino to Bruce Hardy. The Dolphins would play action OFTEN. Fake handoff into the line.. Marino would hit one of his plethora of putrid and slow Tight Ends in the back of the end zone for a (usually) wide open TD. The Dolphins LIVED on this. And it made their run attempts more effective because it created doubt in the minds of the opponent about what they were going to see.

Part of the problem here is (my apologies for being redundant) predictability. You are not making the job of the OL any easier by using play action infrequently. Wonder swings to the other side of the coin… USE IT OFTEN. PRACTICE IT OFTEN. PLAYERS LOVE ROUTINE. They get comfortable executing it and they want to do it. It should be a staple of your offense, not an exception. Use play action with Nicks, Smith and Boss. And you benefit Eli too, because he needs to be comfortable executing this OFTEN. Wonder is so right about this.. Eli gets very good when he is comfortable back there. You can see a player like him who is long on smarts being every bit as effective as any other QB with this kind of play.

Manning offered this on the topic of 3rd and short: “Coach talked a little bit about it today – we just assume that on third and short we are going to be able to run and be able to get it. We have to throw the ball a little bit more possibly in some of those situations. But down there, we’re a team that is going to be physical, we have a big back, and we should be able to get that surge and should get a first down in those situations.”

3) As for short yardage woes of the Giants to run for 1 yard, be it red zone or otherwise, Wonder suspects it is scheme. Where is the design trap? He puts half the blame on the OL and the other half on Gilbride. He does not put the blame on the RB.

3a) When I asked him about the (Rule #5) pitchout in the red zone, he completely agreed, but noted one minor exception which actually bolsters the rule even more. He said the one time it actually works is when you have a two back set, you fake handoff the ball to Jacobs going right and then very quickly pitchout to Bradshaw on the left side. Everyone including the safety are frozen on the right side and the other RB can usually walk into the end zone. Fwiw, the Giants do not have Jacobs and Bradshaw in a 2 back set.

4) I was ribbing Wonder on Manningham; he is not conceding that one so quickly. But he did tip his hat to Corey Webster. “Impressive” job on Moss.

5) Injury update: “Coughlin said rookie wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (foot) and running back Danny Ware (dislocated elbow) will probably be sidelined a minimum of two weeks and then be evaluated week-by- week.”

6) The Gatorade bath of Sheridan at the end of the game was good to see. Pierce: “He (Sheridan) was deserving of it. (He) called a great game and we went out and executed well.”

7) The fake FG that the Skins scored a TD was Coughlin’s fault. He called for an all-out block.

Giants 23 Redskins 17

September 14, 2009

For those of you who watched, you know the final score was not indicative of the way the Giants outplayed the Redskins. This was a very good win for the Giants in every way except the injuries.

1) Just like the Giants lost to Philadelphia last year in W14 20-14, the Skins got beat by the Giants in much the same way. Both games saw a special teams TD at the end of the half (punt block by Giants, Skins fake FG), both teams got off the schnide at the half after getting outplayed, both teams scored a late TD w/o much hope of winning and both teams lost by 6. This time we were on the other side of that type of game, a nice win.

2) Every win is a good win early in the season while the defense comes together. We’re buying time.

3) Did Mario Manningham look like Plaxico Burress out there, or what?!! He looks so good against single coverage. He has the separation. He has the moves. 3 catches for 58 yards. Eli Manning on Manningham: “He has a lot of talent, a lot of ability.”

4) How many times have we mentioned what great hands Kevin Boss has, that he is the secret weapon for the entire season?!!! 3 catches for 62 yards. 1 of those catches was an improvised checkdown from Eli, so Gilbride DOES NOT get points for dialing this guy up. HE NEEDS MORE THAN 2 CALLS OF HIS NUMBER. If Manning and Boss have to go over Gilbride’s (vacuous) head to get it done with more checkdowns, more power to them. At least Gilbride had him out in a route, that is an upgrade from chaining him to the line of scrimmage every play.

5) The Rules For Winning in the NFL… Rule #5- Pitchouts do not work in the red zone. So there it is, the pitchout to Bradshaw on 3rd and short, stopped for no gain. Red zone efficiency was a problem last year and it will continue to be a problem when you make blatantly BAD playcalls like this one. Folks, this was written years ago, the observation has been made from over decades of anecdotal evidence. It is a slow-developing play that is being called in an area of the field that has no luxury of time. Next.

6) DeAngelo Hall taketh and giveth away. He is an opportunistic Cover 2 cornerback that is in the right place at the right time for his INT, but he missed the tackle on Mannngham’s TD and he gets roasted by Steve Smith for the big catch (3rd and 5, 26 yard reception) in Q4 that seals the game.

7) Eli Manning was very good today. He had one delay of game when he got to the line with 10 seconds left on the playclock that was his fault. The fumble turnover was a face mask 15 yarder that the refs conveniently missed. The INT was reminiscent of him throwing off his back foot in the end zone of the Eagle playoff game last year to Asante Samuel. This time a tip was needed to cause the INT, but it still was a floater which started the same problem. (Even Eli himself notes how he has to step into that throw. See transcript link in (3) above.) Otherwise, he did a great job everywhere else and was the leader of a strong offensive performance. You can’t put the red zone woes on Manning. The score is a much wider margin of victory if he has help there (see points 5 and 12). Marvelous said before the game that he loved Eli today, and boy was he right on the money. Eli was particularly sweet on the Smith 26 yarder when he looked off the safety before threading the needle on a great pass. That pass was money and the setup was just as important.

8) Let’s throw a bone to the USC boys. Terrell Thomas got nicked on one Randle El play but did fine otherwise. Steve Smith was 6 for 80, a big part of this win.

9) Defense Wins Championships. We saw a lot of uneven play from the defense, but this was EXACTLY WHAT WE EXPECTED. We KNEW the defense was not going to be air tight today by any means. Simms also alluded to it this morning. This is a work in progress. But in the meantime, we will single out three players who were noteworthy:
a) Tuck, who stopped the Redskins after the Hall INT set them up at the 11 yard line. A loss of 6 on a run play on 1st down. A sack on third down. That is how you win games and win championships, with impact plays like that. That is LT-glory-days defense.
b) The Osi-Trifecta. The sack-strip. The fumble recovery. The TD. We were transplanted back to 2007’s 49er win. A good omen. We miss those plays. Nice to have him back.
c) Corey Webster. Let’s read Santana Moss’s line stat from today: 2 receptions for 6 yards. I do not give a rat’s a** who goes to the Pro Bowl at CB, I love Webster, the silence from his corner of the field is deafening.

10) We’ll talk about the injuries as we get more definitive information. As we understand it right now, Ware is the serious one and the rest do not look as serious but need more eval.

11) Cooley 7 receptions for 68 yards. You have to know that the Giants are vulnerable to a good TE. We see Witten next.

12) Let’s not get too crazed this early in the season about the playcalling. We’ll make it very simple for now- get Boss more involved in the red zone.

13) Canty is going to see more work next week. He did fine this week in limited snaps.

14) CC Brown was garbage on the last TD. Is there anyone better out there we can get at Safety? We threw out some ideas of Bernard Pollard, Emanuel Cook, Kevin Kaesviharn and Brian Russell. I’d bring them all in for tryouts and put one on the roster to compete with Brown. At the moment we have ONLY three Safetys. Why does this guy have a free pass?

15) Osi, this may sound like nitpicking, but pls no Leon Lett’s with the ball as you are about to cross the goal line.

Giants Redskins Intragame Comments

September 13, 2009

It’s a swan song appearance today for Andy at the “old” Meadowlands in Section 307.

Is our OL able to get to the second level (LBers) on run plays with Haynesworth and Daniels potentially blowing things up? Is the DL of the Giants playing cohesively, keeping Campbell inside the pocket, staying in their lanes and winning that battle? How well conditioned are the Skins and Giants in Q4? (Big break for these big guys to be playing at 415PM instead of 1PM.) How is Bruce Johnson doing, are the Skins picking on him? I’ll leave it to Nature to police our friend Gilbride. See you after the game.

Phil Simms Comments, and Marvelous too

September 13, 2009

Phil Simms was blunt with his (paraphrased) comments:

1) GIANTS- “Very curious” (to see) about this team. I saw them do a lot of good things in the offseason, they looked good on paper. But I did not see it, not even a glimpse of it in preseason. I saw big passing plays against them, I saw lots of time, too much time, for the opposing QB. This team still needs that big play WR and I do not see it there yet. Eli Manning needs that. This is a tough matchup for the Giants later today vs the Skins. “I have more concerns for the Giants at this point than I thought that I would.” (Note that Simms picked the Giants to win the game on Showtime… this is why I am thinking the Giants can somehow eek out a narrow win.)

2) Sanchez- the real deal. Franchise QB. VG thrower of the football. Good feet. Good character. Not surprising that he won the job from Clemons, he was not handed it, he earned it. Simms thinks he is going to have a very good career.

3) Upticks and positive comments on: Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Matt Hasselbeck, Gerrard, Brady, Cutler, Seattle team, Patriots team.

4) Negative (neutral at best, which was not perceived as positive) comments on: Jake Delhomme, Brett Favre, the rest of the Bears offense helping Cutler enough (singled out Pace), the Panthers offense.

5) Believes we will see more wildcat early this season but that it will fade (again) as the season wears on.

Marvelous comments:
“Giants 24-14 today. The Giants have a lot to prove. We will be tested. It is up to us to take this game to the Skins. We must be aggressive out of the gate in Q1. If Gilbride gives Eli a chance and plays to Eli’s strengths, we will be ok. One way to do that is to give Eli the 2 minute drill at the beginning of the game, he is very good with that. If the Giants come out with a sense of urgency we win 24-14. Re Mario Manningham, I know him from (seeing a ton of him in) college, he is a special kind of player. He is going to be very good. Get him involved. I am sold on Nicks. Do not pussyfoot around, get these kids in the game- I’d start Nicks and Manningham. I am not sold on Heyer and I think Samuels has lost a lot, so the Giants can eventually get to Campbell because the OT position of the Redskins can be a battle we win. I love Eli today.”

Ultimatenyg comment:
The poll for breakout WR is closed, the winners are Manningham and Nicks. Play these guys. Only one team wins the title, the other 31 lose, so shoot the moon, by the time the end of the season is here you’ll have answers instead of more questions.

Carl Banks comments on the Giants

September 13, 2009

Carl Banks was on WFAN Friday with Roberts and Benigno. Go to the middle (~55% or 60% of the way through) of the audio clip to start listening to the section on the Giants.

Quick summary: Giants should be a playoff team, the back 7 of the defense has the question marks and the upside to determine the fate, good or bad, with the team.

Banks believes the WR issues are overblown. He specifically singled out Nicks and Manningham as having breakout potential.

On Hakeem Nicks: “He’s a fighter now. I like the way he fights back and makes tough plays.”

On Mario Manningam: “Mario Manningham is a guy who Eli Manning HAS to get adjusted to… If you watch Ocho Cinco- the best route runner in football. He gets in and out of cuts great. This Mario Manningham has the potential to be that because he is in and out of his breaks. He is ..starting to run crisp routes, but he’s got quick feet and he runs a screen or an out cut.. ELI HAS TO TRUST THAT THIS KID IS GOING TO BE OUT OF IT. He’s got to throw the ball, can’t wait, because he’ll be behind him.”

On the Linebackers, very positive remarks on Wilkinson IF he can stay on the field. Wilkinson can play all three LBer positions and is MORE ATHLETIC, smart. Especially with Boley still out, who do you want covering the TE or the RB in passing situations? Carl Banks trusts Wilkinson’s speed. The LBers are younger, but they are better than last year.

Xtian correctly remarks that technically speaking, yes, the LBers are not ‘younger’ with Clark and Pierce out there. The assumption here is that Clark is a placeholder and Pierce is slowing down (especially as each season continues).. the very near future of the LBers will be looking something like Sintim/Boley/Wilkinson/Kehl. The Giants need this move toward the younger and less experienced LBers because they have more range.

Is Bruce Johnson ready?

September 12, 2009

Kind of scary that with Dockery looking to be out, Rookie Bruce Johnson will be the nickel back. You still want to lay -6.5 points and say this is going to be an easy win? I hope the Giants win 30 to nothing, but anyone who thinks tomorrow should be an easy meal ticket game is not paying attention. This is also Terrell Thomas’s first start. While we are high on him and believe he is ready, he will not be spotless. Add a young LBer corps and this defense will have breakdowns tomorrow. How many? Do not draw conclusions about the Giants from Game 1.