Tag Archives: New York Giants

Big Blue Thoughts Week 7

Ten thoughts following the Giants 31-21 defeat at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T stadium in Dallas, Texas.

1. The Cowboys are good….- Naturally I reserve the right to change my mind but the eye test proves it.  The Cowboys are playing sound, power football and have the playmakers on the outside to make you pay if you overcompensate in the box (nice sexual reference I know).  The offensive line is basically the best unit going in all of football- better than the Legion of Boom Seattle secondary.  They are winning individual battles at the point of attack and helping to win games for the Cowboys.  The defense, as a result, doesn’t need to play as much and allows them to be fresh.  Remember, this is a unit that lost its two best players and still sits as the 22nd best team defense based on total yards surrendered, giving up the 15th most yards per game, 18th most pass yards, 21st most rush yards, and tied with Green Bay for 16th most points given up.  So how does a team that has a +1 turnover differential get such acclaim?  Because Rod Marinelli has tied scheme with the pieces given and formed a unit that likely will have to continue playing great football for not so long stretches of the game.  This is a team that had the ball for more than 31 minutes in the game they lost in San Francisco, then had it for more than 41 minutes in Tennessee, almost 35 minutes against the Saints, 36 minutes in OT against Houston, nearly 38 minutes in Seattle, and 33 minutes against the Giants.  The only time they LOST the time of possession game was against the Rams, where they had to pass their way to victory after going down 21-0 midway through the second quarter.  This is a team that makes no bones about its offensive identity: they will run the football with a physically imposing running back who has finally managed to stay healthy and the minute they think you’re cheating at the line of scrimmage they will throw the football to a physically imposing wide receiver who’s on the short list for dominant wide receivers in the sport.

Do I trust the defense in the second half of the season when the weather turns cold?  Just looking at their next month, they go against Washington on Monday night, Arizona at home, and then travel to Jacksonville before they hit their bye.  They could enter their bye 8-2 if we are to assume that they lose to Arizona and even then you can’t assume anything.  Then the schedule gets a bit more daunting.  Sunday night against the Giants, then a quick turnaround against the Eagles on Thanksgiving day, followed a week later by a game at the who knows where mentally they will be Chicago Bears, ten days later at the Eagles for what could be pole position in the division, home for the Colts and then close out the season against the Washington Redskins. who may have Robert Griffin back healthy with what looks like a slate of solid weapons.  If one were an optimist, and say the Cowboys run the table till the bye, let’s say they split the Eagles games, sweep the other two divisional opponents, and lose to the Bears and Colts, we’re still talking a 12-4 regular season.  Here’s where the Tony Romo, Jason Garrett era has always hit a hard thud, there will be one or two losses that could slip into that dreamy scenario that could ultimately undo them, but this iteration of the Cowboys seems markedly different than the play for the division on the final day of the season Cowboys teams that always stopped short.

Based on the records as it stands, the Eagles face a tougher stretch.  The Eagles have Dallas twice, but also have yet to play Seattle and they draw Green Bay by virtue of winning the division last year.  Let’s assume they beat Arizona at home which is no easy feat, and then beat Houston and Carolina.  Let’s say they split one of the two against the Cowboys and split one of two against the Green Bay and Seattle teams and then win out.  That’s a 13-3 record for the Eagles.  I trust the Eagles defense more than I do trust the Cowboys defense and those two divisional games between the two will be huge especially the December 14th showdown at Philadelphia.  Should be an interesting 2 months to see this drama play out in Big D and Broad Street.

2. …this loss means the end for the Giants? Technically no one is officially knocked out but look at the two schedules and the if everything plays out as it should scenarios for the two teams- Dallas, would wind up 12-4 or 13-3 and Philly would go 13-3.  The best record the Giants could get now is 12-4 and thats by running the table Jim Fassel style.  That means beating Indy and San Fran at home and then beating Seattle AT Seattle and then also beating Dallas and Philly once which would make things interesting again.  They end the regular season in Philly.  But to get there, they would have to get through that tough stretch completely unscathed and there’s no evidence that the Giants even make it out of that stretch 1-2.  Remember, these two games were as must-win as must-win can be this early in the season and they failed both times.  If you think the wild card will be there for the taking consider that one of the two spots will be taken by the Dallas/Philly group and the other spot will likely come from the NFC West who have the defending champions, the Niners, the Cardinals and a suddenly dangerous Rams team.  Good luck trying to slip in through the wild card.  Crazier things have happened and Giants fans can attest to that.  It will be difficult to envision the Giants going any better than 10-6 and barely missing the playoffs.  Of course, as the season goes on, you have the out of nowhere injuries to significant players.  The Cowboys don’t have the kind of depth on defense that can afford any type of major injury.  The Eagles are a sound team but if LeSean McCoy doesn’t start performing better and the offensive line continues to have the kind of injuries they already have had (they are playing without Evan Mathis and Jason Kelce), the season could turn and the Eagles could start to suffer.  But I still like the Eagles and Cowboys thanks to their schedules to make it out with double digit wins more so than the Giants.

3. Is it time to put an end to the fairy tale that was Larry Donnell? No.  Physically he’s still a match up nightmare.  Mentally one has to wonder if the young kid can put the two costly turnovers late in the fourth that ultimately cost the Giants Sunday’s game.  We won’t have the answer to that for a few weeks, but the Giants have capable players up and down the roster offensively to start making a difference and the “next man up” philosophy will be put to the test if he doesn’t take care of the football better.  One thing we’ve learned about Coach Coughlin is that he HATES players with fumbling issues and isn’t a coach that takes kindly to mental mistakes.  It bears watching how Coughlin handles this in terms of the depth chart.  Daniel Fells continues to be steady and reach the end zone, but I know coming into the season  The Giants are heading into the bye and perhaps time off will heal the wound of Donnell’s fumble but Coughlin will remind the young TE that a 3 TD performance in Washington does NOT a career make.  The play in question wound up being a 14 point swing when Donnell fumbled at the New York 27.  The Cowboys scored 4 plays later with a 1 yard TD run by DeMarco Murray.

4. Eli Manning continues to be mistake free….- But the Giants keep losing.  Eli’s career record when throwing for at least 2 TD’s and zero interceptions is 21-6 (.777 win pct).  Coincidentally three of the six losses were to the Cowboys.    When the Giants handed the offense to Ben McAdoo one of his chief responsibilities was to reduce the amount of interceptions thrown by Eli.  He’s already done a fantastic job.  Eli has thrown 5 interceptions in 7 games.  Compare that to 2013 when he had thrown his 5th interception by the fourth quarter of game number two.  The biggest question surrounding Eli has always been about his erratic play but there’s no doubt that the early returns on this new offense have been good.  Eli has limited his mistakes and some of that is due to the fact that he is no longer forcing the issue when being under pressure.  He’s making sure to throw those god-awful short throws at the knees of his running back rather than throw it and hope for the best.  Think about the effect that has on an offensive line that everyone agrees has not improved as much as the Giants brass would have liked.  The offensive line is projected to give up 10 fewer sacks this year than last and that’s with an eight sack performance at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles on their register.  While the benefits may not be seen now, mistake free football is what helped win two Super Bowls.  This can only lead to better things.

5. Andre Williams isn’t there yet.- And that’s ok.  The rookie was thrust into a role after a few highlights of him lowering the boom on some unsuspecting cornerback.  But you’re now seeing why he wasn’t projected as high on team’s draft boards.  He’s not as quick or shifty as the superstar running backs in the league.  He’s a pound it out in between the tackles 4 yards at a time the hard way kind of guy.  Those guys age quick.  Its the guys that can avoid the hits that last in the league and Williams hasn’t learned that trick yet.  Jennings, another big back, did a great job when he was healthy of showing burst once he hit the hole.  Williams runs into the hole and finds very little room to operate because he didn’t read the hole correctly.  That will come with time and repetition.  The Giants brought in former Jet Alex Green and former Cowboy Felix Jones for workouts but that’s more as a contingency.  They believe Jennings will be healthy enough to play after the bye.  But it does bear watching how reverting back to a part time role could make Williams more productive or if it has a negative impact on his development.  If he is in fact the future feature back, these few games may be the best thing for his development.

6. The defensive line is going back into its shell- The Giants went up against two above average (Philly) to really good (Cowboys) offensive lines and failed both times to generate any consistent rush.  Yes, their performance in Dallas was significantly better than it was in Philadelphia where it seemed like the Giants weren’t in the same league as the Eagles, but again a breakdown in fundamentals led to critical scores for the Cowboys.  Terrance Williams’ touchdown catch saw Tony Romo break to his left once he realized that JPP had taken an inside route to get the sack and he had acreage to run or stop, set himself and throw a touchdown strike to Terrance Williams.  It was similar to watching the Giants break contain against Shady McCoy.  The way to stop shifty players is to force them to try and go straight when they really want to run left or right.  Shady and Tony Romo are adept enough to wait for you as the defender to make the first move and give away where you’re going to try and get them so that they can instinctively make a counter-move.  The importance of being patient and allowing the player to fall into the hands of the defense are vital and the Giants failed both times.  During 2011, JPP had a knack for making the sure tackle and being excellent in run support because he was able to hold the point of attack on running plays and force the runner to either go way outside or shift back inside which led to short or no gain.  That’s the kind of performance we need.  Coach Nunn has promised to unleash DaMontre Moore and shift Kiawunuka to the inside on certain passing downs to generate  a pass rush but he said it with the nugget that he doesn’t think DaMontre Moore is necessarily ready to make that leap.  The Giants, more so than others, can be hamstrung by what they see in practice.  They recognize talent but if the talent doesn’t perform from Monday-Saturday they won’t trust it Sunday.  I’m not going to second guess them because their method has worked.  But sometimes you have to take chances that don’t have anything to do with your hand being forced due to injury.

7. Who deserves more credit? Tony Romo or Demarco Murray- Its a popular question but I offer this response: the offensive line.  That offensive line has changed everything for the Cowboys and I beg someone to say that the offensive line’s performance hasn’t been what has spurred the Cowboys resurgence this year.  As I wrote earlier, their affect on how long the defense has to stay out there, or their ability to wear opposing defenses out can’t be felt until the third and fourth quarter.  It reminds me of the offensive line the Giants had in late 2007  and throughout most of 2008.  The rushing stats for the Giants were unbelievable because the offensive line dominated the point of attack and forced the issue and moved buildings out of the way for the runners to run through.  Giving Tony Romo, an already talented quarterback, a running game and an offensive line that can pass protect well is creating the illusion that the Cowboys have an extra receiver on passing situations and a big TE blocking on running situations: it looks unfair.

8.  Why didn’t the Giants just keep passing it last Sunday?-  That’s a very good question and one that I think has more to do with how the game was being played and how close the game was until five minutes left.  Yes, the Giants were having success passing the football.  Eli played another fantastic, mistake free game.  But the fact is Tom Coughlin has always preached balance and he won’t change the identity of his team to suit the narrative of ONE game.  Remember, the Giants were trailing the Cowboys by 7 with 5:28 left in the game so there was no reason to panic and deviate from the game plan.  There is some merit to the thinking that perhaps the Giants should’ve gone pass heavy to set up the run and flip the script.  In the fourth quarter the Giants went pass heavy calling 12 pass plays to 4 run plays.  Technically the Giants did go pass heavy but two fumbles by Larry Donnell extinguished any chance of the Giants being able to score.  It will be interesting how the play calling changes if Rashard Jennings does not return after the bye.  Will the Giants rely heavily on the pass game?

9. Hey Rook, you’re a veteran now- That’s the headline that screamed this week as Victor Cruz’s injury now forces Odell Beckham to come into his own as a veteran.  I’m one of those guys who views injuries like this as opportunities for players who have the skill to put their talent on full display and I believe that Beckham will do just that.  I’m a fan of his route running, and his ability to get down the field and create mismatches.  Judging by “Drafting Giants” the NFL Films production that aired as a miniseries on the NFL Network, the Giants thought the world of him and love his pedigree; both his parents were professional athletes.  I did find it surprising that the Giants would be vocal about expanding his role in the offense.  There’s a difference in the tone that the Giants speak about him than say a Damontre Moore, a second year defensive end that the Giants feel similarly enthused about.  While Moore physically is able to dominate at the line of scrimmage, there are concepts he still is having problems with.  Beckham, who’s early injury put doubt into people’s heads about his toughness, sprung from his first game and immediately made an impact.  Whether its his budding connection with Eli which seems to be almost instinctive, or its his other skills that were on display from the day the Giants and other teams scouted him, it just looks like the added responsibility won’t be too much for the rookie receiver to handle.  An Adrien Robinson who has been the tight end of the future while the Giants keep inviting one year tryouts for tight ends has found it difficult to make it on the field on Sundays, and almost found himself completely out after Larry Donnell’s breakout performance the first few weeks.  The Giants aren’t sending mixed signals.  Some players progress a lot quicker than others.  Its just a nature of the game and the point of the game is to win.  The best players make the plays on Sundays and the best players play on Sundays.  For rookies, that means growing up quicker than maybe the  traditional process says.  But I don’t think Beckham minds.

10. Looking ahead- Well a bye couldn’t have come at a better time.  It feels like a coming to God moment for the Giants.  I thought they had to, at the very least, split the series against the Eagles and Cowboys.  Now, the focus comes to Indianapolis who has been playing excellently recently and that offense led by Andrew Luck and old friend Ahmad Bradshaw.  The Giants last played the Colts when they had a young buck called Peyton Manning as their quarterback.  This version of the Colt QB is just as dangerous if not more thanks to his physique.  If you thought Tony Romo was tough to bring down, I promise you Luck will be tougher.  Sacking Luck will require multiple Giants converging at the QB and even then, he has the arm and upper body strength to get the football out.  If the Giants don’t get pressure on Luck it will be a long day.  One player to keep an eye on: Dwayne Allen.  He missed virtually all of last season following a hip injury that put him on the IR.  His ability to block and be an able member of the passing game was a huge loss for the Colts but the Colts are a resilient bunch.  It forced certain players to play a more pronounced role.  With Allen back, a lot of players can now take their rightful place in the offense.  The Colts won’t expect Colby Fleener to block.  He can play the Dallas Clark role by lining up outside of the down linemen.  Allen’s presence is huge in this offense and the reason they have rolled off the kind of numbers they have.  Interestingly enough, the Colts last year played the kind of murderer’s row of schedules the Giants will.  Starting in week 3 the Colts played the 49ers in San Fran, the Seahawks at home, the Chargers in San Diego and the Broncos in Indy in five weeks and went 3-1 in those games.  So the lesson here is that it can be done.  The mistake free Eli needs to play those games.  If not, the Giants may not stand a chance and a bad 0-2 stretch can stretch into a nightmarish midseason which will give way to a pointless end of season string of games.  The Giants are now forced to win nearly all of the next few games against the Colts (at home), Seahawks (in Seattle), Niners (at home) and Cowboys (at home) to even survive and keep up with the Cowboys and Eagles.  Let’s remember, they have to win all of their division games thanks to losing to the Eagles and Cowboys in consecutive weeks.  This will be an interesting after the bye stretch.

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Sports Round up 12/2/2011

Despite the uncertainty of free agency, its almost a certainty that Chris Paul will become a New York Knick.  The time frame of that deal is a little shaky and there are no shortage of detractors and those who believe this deal may happen.  Alan Hahn of Newsday  believes its an inevitability no matter what.  Zach Lowe of SI says there is a gaping loophole that could even get Paul that $100 million deal.  Chris Paul’s agent Leon Rose informed the Hornets that he would not sign an extension and wanted to be traded to the New York Knicks as was first reported by Adrian Woj and Marc Spears of Yahoo.

Regardless of how you feel, small market or big, the eventuality of Chris Paul’s determination to come and join his friend Carmelo Anthony in New York makes it a done deal.  Will Chris Paul become a Knick?  Most likely yes.  However, do I think that Paul will be traded to the Knicks this season?  No.  In fact, I can see teams colluding to keep Paul away from the Knicks as long as humanly possible.  Is it out of sheer jealousy?  Sure.  What else could be the reason to not grant a superstar’s wish?  Teams will view this as just the beginning.  If the new CBA was to have one guarantee in it, it would be to keep superstars in their small markets but unless you get a player like Kevin Durant who absolutely abhors the spotlight and would rather stay in the low key environs of Oklahoma City or Derrick Rose who’s brilliance is appreciated and is beloved in his hometown of Chicago (a big market), its hard to keep these players who believe they are stars from the big stage.  Very few markets can offer these stars that limelight and that kind of opportunity.  It doesn’t hurt that one of Paul’s good friends is Carmelo Anthony, a player who faced the same dilemma a season ago and convinced the Knicks to basically strip itself of parts just to get him to NY so he could get his max contract.

The one question I ask is this: if he were so concerned for his friend and he wanted to make sure that Paul would get his fair market value, wouldn’t Anthony have come at the end of last year as a free agent instead?  The Knicks only have Chauncey Billups expiring contract and other uninspired players that would not nearly be close enough value for one of the league’s top 15 players.  The Knicks would be giving the Hornets a poo poo platter of players, the same raw deal they handed the Hornets.  Dell Demps did a pretty good job last year in swinging trades to make New Orleans competitive so don’t expect him to automatically succumb to the pressure of placating his star player, but expect him to explore EVERY possible scenario in which he can get Paul to another team and make him their headache.  But who will send him great prospects when they know he WON’T sign with them long term?  Demps is going to be stuck in the same predicament that Masa Ujiri was last season: give his superstar the deal he wants and try to get the best possible one from the team he wants to deal with, make a deal with a team and land prospects in hopes that they won’t mind his reluctance to sign a long term deal in whatever spot he lands in, OR hold on stubbornly and hope to dear God that the Hornets make a run which convinces Paul to stay.

Either way, I wouldn’t want to wake up Dell Demps OR Chris Paul this morning.

Speaking of big time free agents making moves, Deron Williams, through his agent of course, has informed the New Jersey Nets that he has no intention of signing an extension midseason with them and will opt out to explore free agency according to the Bergen Record.  Williams tried to appease Net fans on twitter by saying: “don’t know why people are tripping just because I’m opting out doesn’t mean that I won’t resign with the Nets! W/new CBA it makes sense!”  

And then there’s that.  This has to be troubling for the Big Russian and Hov to think that the one superstar they acquired in really shocking fashion, hours after Anthony was traded to the Knicks after they doggedly pursued them, has all but stated his intentions to explore free agency.  He’s right, with the new CBA he could resign with the Nets and as explained in Zach Lowe’s article he could get his $100 million max contract from the Nets if he chooses to stay with them by opting out of free agency.  In fact, the ball is moreso in the Nets favor.  IF they somehow pull off a deal for Dwight Howard and they make a run, both could opt out and resign with the Nets and get their max deals.  According to hoopshype.com, they only hav 36 million in committed salaries, 7 of which would almost definitely be freed via the amnesty clause on Travis Outlaw.

The one thing that the owners did not write into the CBA which I’m sure they wish they had is a designated franchise tag which would’ve allowed small market teams to keep their superstars and hold leverage over them.  Of course that would add to the whole slavemaster analogy wouldn’t it?  I’m not in favor of a franchise tag by itself.  I do like how the NFL does it, guaranteeing the player an average of the Top 5 salaries at that position for the player giving him equal value.  But the players would ask for that stipulation added in to the franchise tag but that discussion has to be tabled until the next set of labor talks which won’ t be happening for a while.  You can’t force these players onto teams that they don’t want to play for and you shouldn’t blame it on small market/big market.  If so, Lebron would’ve came here in the summer of 2010 and every big time free agent would either be pining to play for New York or LA.  This fact was brought up in twitter and I completely agree: the teams that originally drafted these players have on average six to seven years with these players.  If they can’t bring home a championship or don’t ever come close how can you expect a player as uber competitive as some of these guys are to stay and not explore what their options are?  Because for six or seven years you had them, and you didn’t know how to complement them with the role players they needed to win championships and now suddenly they are being demonized for leaving?  That’s hypocritical and ignoring the real elephant in the room: that team has been unsuccessful.  No team should feel entitled to its superstar’s services.  Count them lucky for having them for this long.  Certain players don’t grow on trees (which is why I’ve been hoping and praying that the Knicks go hard after Dwight Howard rather than Paul, no offense to CP3 fans) but every so often teams with one established star and a bunch of role players can win you a title.  All you need is last season’s Mavericks for perspective.

Speaking of which, there seems to be some uncertainty surrounding the amnesty clause.  The good folks at ESPN’s TrueHoop blog have concocted a list naming players they feel would be the best play for the amnesty clause for each respective team and given us some information regarding the amnesty clause.   A list they update constantly. 

As I understand it, the amnesty clause can only be used ONCE during the life of this current CBA and for a player that was on the roster as of July 1st.  The point is that this amnesty clause is meant to protect teams from past mistakes, not so they can create future ones and be saved from them too.  So whoever you have on your roster that you absolutely want to get rid of from the cap right now, most likely will have to be run off within the next year or two since most contracts don’t run that long.  Either way, it will be interesting to see who gets amnestied and who winds up on the free agent market.  As for what happens to the player once he’s amnestied?  He then gets put up on waivers and teams bid for their services and the team with the highest bid gets him.

The most talked about name in that group of amnesty clause hopefuls is Brandon Roy.  Roy is the oftinjured almost superstar who can tantalize you with his potential for being an x-factor and yet destroy you by his x-ray.  His knees are basically damaged goods and the idea that he will be healthy for the life of that long term contract is slim to none.  I would agree with most people that amnestying Roy immediately would be the dumbest thing that the Blazers can do.  The biggest cap hit they will take is only two years down the road.  The Blazer fan base, one of the most devoted in the land given that the Blazers are the only professional outfit in the Portland, Oregon area to root for, loves him and still believes he has one more good run in him left.  Why not take a chance that his final run on those knees of his will boost that team?

Of course, the team doesn’t have a GM and their owner is a crazy fool ready to sell to the first person who asks so all bets are off when it comes to predicting what the Blazers will do next.  Roy is worth a look for the Knicks if he gets amnestied seeing as how he’s owed that huge contract which he will be guaranteed and can take a low salary and sign on to whatever contender he wants.  He would be an excellent addition and he offers that clutch scorers role that most teams otherwise lack.  I would hate to see him in Los Angeles simply because I believe Kobe has the tools and the gravitas to unleash the beast in a player by riding him, in Miami because other than D-Wade he would be the second clutch option which would be devastatingly convenient for Lebron to further shy away from the spotlight which he desperately wants and Chicago which is looking for ANYBODY to help ease the fast man’s burden for Derrick Rose.

USA Today had an interesting open mike question they posed to its readership: Should networks keep on-air analysts who are possibly taking jobs within the sport they are covering, on air?

Its an interesting question for sure.  Consider an on air analyst’s qualifications: he has to have had experience playing in the sport they are going to be covering.  So its inevitable that they would look to get back into their field.  Networks hire these analysts knowing that they can leave at any time.  I would think the objectivness can be compromised if they are trying to get back into the coaching world because they won’t criticize or say anything bad about anyone like Jon Gruden does all day.  There are plenty of negatives to having a person on staff that openly admits to pining for another one because it ruins morale and creates an open door policy which I’m sure networks won’t always want to accomodate but look at what happened with Terry Francona.  FOX jumped at the opportunity to give Francona, the former manager of the Red Sox who famously choked its division and wild card lead during the final month of the season, an opportunity to sit in a play by play booth during the biggest games of the season while its lead analyst Tim McCarver was out.  How many candidates in house could’ve filled that job capably?  Plenty.  But the ratings spike of Francona promised that viewers would tune in to see if Francona would say anything about his last month in a Red Sox uni and so the gamble was worth it even in the short term.  The network television business is funny so there are always hidden agendas but the one motivation is always ratings.  The higher the ratings the more they can charge advertisers.  Sports IS a business after all.

Too little too late?  The Giants will find out this Sunday when they host the unbeaten Green Bay Packers.  Ralph Vacciano of the New York Daily News says that the defense is going to try and make a stand for coordinator Perry Fewell who was animated at Thursday’s practice.  

So let’s add Perry Fewell to the list of people walking out of Metlife stadium trying to light a fire under the Giants defense.  Michael Strahan made a house call this week as well getting into his former linemates to bring the pressure.  The biggest disappointing part of last Monday was how soft the Giants looked.  The Saints punched them and the Giants just kept taking it.  They didn’t do anything to hit back and looked vulnerable on every part of their defense.  Their offense showed up somewhat but were not helped by a revolving door defense that escorted Saints into the end zone at times.  I don’t care what people say about how prepared they were, if that was prepared, I don’t want to know what unprepared is.

The one thing I will say about this team: it responds to criticism.  If ever there was a time to motivate and run the table it would be now.  The Packers began their run last year after Thanksgiving and the Giants certainly have the offense, its the defense and their vaunted pass rush that now must respond.  If another week of being shut out at the dinner table happens, you can believe some will be trying to eat elsewhere next season.  Including the head coach.

 

 

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General Coughlin and his Army of Giants.

It figures he would get an Army General to appear before his team on the eve of the season.  One last fiery speech by a true hero, a real Giant, to rev up the collective engine of his team.

The attributes of a coach are plentiful but if you HAD to ask which 5 qualities were most important: great motivator would be in the top 3.  How can one motivate their team to succeed?  Its a question that still has no concrete answer.  Maybe because its a job that constantly changes the demands it presses on its workers.

Tom Coughlin is by many counts an amry general himself.  A taskmaster who’s 5 minute rule is infamous and rigid as a steel pole.  If the meeting is at 7:50, come 5 minutes earlier.  Maybe not everyone agrees with his methods but they aren’t without reason.

Its now common knowledge that Coughlin’s success in 2007 was directly linked to him softening his character up enough to allow his players to see him for who his family knew he was.  A guy that smiles and a guy who cares.

But the good vibrations from 2007 have worn off and the Giants enter 2010 on the witness protection program with regards to the backpages of New York newspapers.  That belongs to Rex’s bunch.  But maybe moving in stealth in the big city is exactly where they want to be.

Its no secret Coughlin is on the hot seat.  In a market that demands big things and in a position that is usually held accountable first and foremost before any of the players that actually play the games, Coughlin can’t expect to go 8-8 and think his job will be there waiting for him.

It doesn’t help that the Giants play in arguably the most competitive division in the NFL.  Where there’s a playoff atmosphere everytime the Giants visit one of their divisional foes which would be 6 games.  But nobody said it would be easy.

The big question coming into the season is are the Giants soft?  Every player has said the right thing, but how else to know other than letting the talking play out on the field?

The obvious parallels of football coaches and army generals can be seen.  Both lead by example and lay forth the game plan to attack the enemy and oversee all the army’s operations much in the same way that a coach oversees game planning against an opponent.

But like generals, coaches deal with disputes among their lower rank and file.  Coughlin has to find a new leader in the wake of Michael Strahan and Antonio Pierce’s retirements.  He has to mend the broken ego of his former starting RB who lost his role to his former back up and buddy.  He has a bunch of great defensive ends but they all can’t be on the field at the same time and need equal reps to keep from infighting.

So its on Commander in Chief Tom Coughlin to lead his troops into the jaws of a very unforgiving schedule and keeping the status quo alive.  The Giants have made the playoffs almost every season till last year in the Coughlin era.

Perhaps its not a coincedence he always has an army official speak in front of his team.  Maybe it does take an army commander to make a team tough again.  To re-institute the tough love that made him a successful coach, not the Super Bowl winning one.  But maybe the Giants just need to find that identity again.  If so, then maybe Commander in Chief Coughlin will have to lead his team.  Atteeeenchuuuuunnnn- Given.

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Trade Osi?

A thought that crossed my mind was this:  What if the Giants dangled Osi Umeniyora in a trade for draft picks?

Here are the facts:  Osi has played in 16 games in every season except for 2008 when he tore his ACL and was done for the season and in 2006 when he played 11 games after tearing his hip flexor.  He’s not an injury risk.  In 2004 when the Giants and the Chargers made the franchise altering trade between Phillip Rivers and Eli Manning, one of the holding points was that the Chargers wanted Osi, so even as a young prospect, the Giants second round pick was a well touted lineman.

His breakthrough game was during the Giants Super Bowl championship season of 2007 when he had a franchise record 6 sack game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

This season, with a new coordinator, Osi had un-Osi like moments.  Earlier in the season, he walked out of practice and returned the next day with a formal apology reassuring everyone that he was fine with the new defensive coordinator.  Then his playing time decreased to the point where he was only on the field for 3 rd downs and on sure fire pass rush situations.  It was a role that he was not pleased with, especially after a 41-9 humiliating loss against the Panthers where the Giants were officially knocked out of the playoffs in the final game at Giant stadium.  In an interview he talked about how frustrated he was in possibly his final game in a Giant uniform.

Now i’m not saying trade him just because he said something in the heat of a very bad moment, but let’s just add the factors here to consider.  Co-owner, John Mara released a statement today explaining how disappointed he was and how changes were in order.  Sheridan’s firing didn’t surprise anyone.  But trading Osi would send tremors around the organization to everyone and also rejuvenate the team in a way that needs to be done.

Osi’s contract is very tradeable.  He has two more years at a very reasonable cost and he’s still young enough to make an impact and be considered an impact player.  He can fetch a first round pick or maybe even multiple mid level picks.  As of right now here’s the draft order:

1. St. Louis (1-15)

2. Detroit (2-14)

3. Tampa Bay (3-13)

4. Washington (4-12)

5. Kansas City (4-12)

6. Seattle (5-11)

7. Cleveland (5-11)

8. Oakland (5-11)

9. Buffalo (6-10)

10t. Denver (acquired from Chicago) (7-9)

10t. Jacksonville (7-9)

12. Miami (7-9)

13. San Francisco (8-8)

14. Seattle (acquired from Denver) (8-8)

15. New York Giants (8-8)

16t. Tennessee (8-8)

16t. San Francisco (acquired from Carolina) (8-8)

18. Pittsburgh (9-7)

19t. Atlanta (9-7) 

19t. Houston (9-7) 

Picks 21-24 will be made by the wild-card round losers. Picks 25-28 will be made the divisional round losers.  Picks 29-30 will be made by the conference championship losers.  Pick 31 will go to the Super Bowl loser.  Pick 32 will be made by the Super Bowl winner.

I see Seattle with two picks.  Perhaps a trade for one of their top picks.  I am sure they would love a player of his caliber on their front line.  Maybe even trade to Cleveland for D’Qwell Jackson and a 1st and a 4th.

Trading for multiple draft picks even after the first round would be a plus as Jerry Reese, Giants GM, has shown his ability to use draft picks to stock his team.

This is just an idea people.  I would love to see a determined Osi return to the Giants and come back strong next season under a more aggressive Defensive Coordinator, but let’s be honest.  Something major has to happen to this team to wake the remaining members up that nothing stays forever and the effort of the last two games can not, and will not be tolerated and should never have happened.

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