Tag Archives: Joe Montana

Close is just not good enough…

When you’re 0-5, it is probably safe to say that you are what your record says you are.  That holds true for the New York Giants.

Blowing a 14 point lead early in the game, the 2020 New York Giants looked for every possible way to give up their lead.  Most notable guffaws from Week 5 included eight penalties for 81 yards which resulted in two touchdowns being taken off the board; far more points than would have been required in their 37-34 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.  Throw in a clear missed pick-6 by cornerback James Bradberry and one has to be wondering where the team’s concentration is during the games played thus far.

The truth of the matter is that the Giants have been in the thick of 3 winnable games in 2020.  The scores included the following:

Week 2:   17-13 loss to the Chicago Bears

Week 4:  17-9 loss to the Los Angeles Rams

Week 5:  37-34 loss to the Dallas Cowboys

Their only blowout in 2020 thus far came at the hands of the San Francisco Forty Niners who, playing a number of backups, handily beat the Giants 36-9.  Throw in a 26-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season opener as another game in which the GMEN were manhandled on both the O-line and D-lines.

Looking under the hood, one can see that there is plenty wrong with this team.  Let’s look at the Giants Regular Season Statistics through 5 games (courtesy of Espn.com):

2020 Regular Season Statistics 


5 1,412 282.4 1,017 203.4 395 79.0 81 16.2

Ranking:  30th


The Giants defense, on the other hand, while keeping things close during most games played in 2020 continues to allow game-winning drives.

 GP TOT. PTS PTS/G RUSH YDS RUSH YDS/G               pyds     Pyds/game TOT YDS YDS/G
5 133                                        26.6 553 110.60 1162        232.40         1715 343

Ranking:  20th (Per Pro Football Focus)

This is the third time this season Jones had a chance to win the game on the final drive, against the Bears, Rams, and now Cowboys, and has come up empty each time.  Joe Montana, he’s not,  Obviously, that’s an unfairly high bar, but he needs to convert some of these drives into wins if he’s going to be anything more than a journeyman quarterback.

This game saw a significant step in the right direction for the Giants offense, although it’s difficult to discern whether this was due to an improvement in Jason Garrett’s play calling or just a consequence of playing against arguably the worst defense in the league.  Devonta Freeman, who had 60 yards on 17 carries, showed good field vision, finding holes a still developing offensive line created for him.

The Giants secondary remains a major weakness despite their offseason attempts to improve it.  James Bradberry looks to be a bright spot, as he was able to contain Amari Cooper most of the game, but Ryan Lewis allowed a 38 yard gain by Michael Gallup that set up the winning field goal.  And unfortunately, the Giants number 2 pick in this season’s draft, Xavier McKinney, who was arguably the best safety in this draft class, has yet to see the field due to injury.

It is safe to say that this team does not inspire any confidence in maintaining a lead.  Even after the Giants took a 34-31 lead with 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter (after an Andy Dalton fumble resulting from a bad snap), this 2020 team does not let you rest assured that a victory is in sight.  The Cowboys game winning drive saw Dalton connect with Amari Cooper on a 15 yard pass, wide receiver Michael Gallup on a deep pass for 19 yards, and then Gallup again for a 38 yard reception.  That basically sums up the Giants season thus far; inability to make the big stop when needed.  Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein proceeded to kick a 34-yard field goal to win the game, 37-34.

Long gone are the days of Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyoura, Justin Tuck and Matthias Kiwanuka.  The fact is that the current Giants squad does not have one defensive player on the roster who can be counted on to secure a win. And if you thought that special player was going to be Defensive End Lorenzo Carter this season, you would be wrong.  He left the game and the team for the season with a torn achilles. Yet another bit of misfortune in a horrendous season.

Bad drafting (Eric Flowers), bad luck (Saquon’s injury), Covid-10… all must improve before the Giants emerge from the cellar of the NFL.

Special thanks to our friend Gregory Frank for sharing his intimate thoughts about the week 5 matchup vs. the Cowboys.

Huddleball.com welcomes all fan insight and opinions.  If you want to blog with us this season, please email us at huddleball@gmail.com.

Arizona Cardinals v. SF 49ers: Farewell, Candlestick Park

Follow me on Twitter: @ericforgaard

The Arizona Cardinals grappled with the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday night in a game featuring all that is great and good about the NFL—pinpoint passing, bone-crushing hits, lead swings, mood swings, valor and heartbreak. In the end, the Cardinals won out 34-31 when a 32-yard Chandler Catanzaro field goal attempt proved true as time ran out. The Cat Man would have had to hit from 47 yards were it not for a rare strain of unsportsmanlike conduct on the part of Cincinnati’s defensive tackle Domata Peko, who was flagged 15 yards for yelling out offensive signals in an effort to confuse the Cardinals. Real schoolyard stuff.

Arizona improved to 8-2 and enjoys a three game edge on rival Seattle.

The Cardinals have winged west for an afternoon tilt today with another division rival, the San Francisco 49ers. Arizona is a solid wagering favorite to defeat San Francisco, a team that is barely recognizable from a year ago. Coach Jim Harbaugh fled to Michigan, all-pro players retired or signed elsewhere and starters all over the field have fallen to injury this season. This dumpster fire landed in the lap of former 49ers defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, whose previous experience includes stints with the Division II Catawba College Indians and the Scottish Claymores and Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe. San Francisco sits at 3-7 this season, and the Super Bowl appearance in 2012 is a simply a distant fond remembrance for fans.

San Francisco 49ers fans once included irascible veterans of old Kezar Stadium and the early years of wind-battered Candlestick Park, men who looked to have scuttled out from under the wharves on Sundays like shore crabs, leathered faces pelted by driving December mists, one hand tucked into the pockets of faded metallic gold satin jackets and the other clutching plastic cups of $2.00 Budweiser, which helped numb the senses through back-to-back 2-14 seasons in the late ‘70s before Bill Walsh and Joe Montana flashed onto the scene and lifted the team to preternatural heights in the early ’80s. Those sorts of beer-soaked, relish-stained memories seep into the bones, cementing a fan base and spawning generations of devotees.

Cut to the present.

Pristine, tech-savvy Levi’s Stadium has risen 40 miles south of San Francisco in the cradle of Silicon Valley. Their hearts bruised, some of the old guard swore they’d never visit the foreign environs of Santa Clara and they’ve stayed true to the oath. Were they to make the trek, they’d inch along traffic-choked streets near the stadium, pay a minimum of $40 to park, tailgate only in designated areas and then shuffle to their seats in a stadium sterile enough in which to have one’s spleen removed without preparation or worry.

Those fans likely wouldn’t be lounging in one of the 165 luxury suites half-filled with startup mavens distractedly hatching schemes over Asian steamed buns and muffuletta paninis to convince potential VCs that their vaporware can somehow monetize by Q2. They may well end up squatting on the dreaded, sun-splashed eastern side of the stadium, squinting like an Iditarod musher against the glare and baking to a fine crisp like a sourdough loaf. No, the memories of Candlestick Park sufferings will do just fine, thank you.

Cardinals supporters don’t have to contend with such untidy business. The retractable domed roof of University of Phoenix Stadium helps keep things comfortable. And fans’ psychic wounds don’t run quite as deep. The honeymoon phase that began when the Cardinals moved to Arizona from St. Louis in 1988 helped subpar seasons go down a little easier. And fans’ hearts leapt in 2008, when grocery store bagger turned NFL MVP Kurt Warner nearly led Arizona to its first Super Bowl victory. That marked the beginning of a cultural shift in the mindset of players, coaches, fans and the front office. This team could win, and a championship was no longer out of reach.

Some NFL sages have called today’s Cardinals-49ers contest a trap game. Arizona has had to rally late to notch wins against powerful opponents Seattle and Cincinnati the last two weeks, and some key players are either out or questionable with injuries. San Francisco QB Blaine Gabbert has recently breathed life into the position, and the 49ers are playing at home with nothing to lose. Arizona is a 10 point favorite, but a letdown is plausible.

Arizona coach Bruce Arians will have none of it. Yes—he’s a good family man, he works tirelessly for abused children, and he’ll raise a pint with you and give you a shoulder-squeeze of support. But San Francisco fans should be reminded: with the Cardinals leading the 49ers 31-7 at halftime of their September 27th game, Arians told the team, “If you relax, I’ll be looking for new people. Put your foot on their throat.”

San Francisco fans can handle such things. They have endured worse.

– Eric Forgaard

This blog is not supported by a generous grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.