Tag Archives: New England Patriots

So You’re Telling Me There’s Still A Chance ?

Believe it or not, there is… at least on paper.  At 2-4, the New York Giants are only 1 game out of first place in a fairly dismal NFC East.  This is where the optimism ends and reality set in.  Although the GMEN are very much in the race in the NFC East, anyone who has watched the NFL this season realizes that there is a great divide between elite teams and pretenders.  This Giants team falls into this latter category.

Early losses to the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills were forgotten after the Giants inserted Daniel Jones into the role of starting quarterback. He proceeded to orchestrate an exciting tug-of-war win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a convincing win over the Washington Redskins.  The legend of “Danny Dimes” was alive and well.  Optimism ran rampant that they had found the steal of the draft; Giant fans began to think that perhaps anything was possible. That was until the Minnesota Vikings entered their building in East Rutherford.

The Vikings defense battered the GMEN, sacking Daniel Jones 4 times and hitting him countless other times.  Welcome to the NFL, lad!  The Vikings were far more physical than the Giants and won the game 28-10 (it could have been worse).  The Vikings had 490 yards on offense including 211 yards on the ground.  Whatever was accomplished in the Giants two previous victories appeared to be gone.

Next up was the New England Patriots who highlighted the Giants deficiencies even more in their 35-14 victory.  The Patriots forced 4 turnovers and dominated the GMEN as the game went on. The legend of “Danny Dimes” took a hit again with a 3 interception game. It didn’t help matters that they were playing against the best defense in the NFL.

Still, there were moments early in the game that reminded us of the magic that occurs when the Giants play the Patriots. When Lorenzo Carter (where has he been?) sacked and stripped the ball from Tom Brady only to be picked up and ran into the end zone by Marcus Golden for a Giants touchdown, flashback memories of Strahan, Tuck and Umenyoura came into the minds of Giants fans everywhere. At least for a little while.

Tom Brady did not have a good first half but did enough to keep the Patriots ahead at the half, 21-14. The second half was another story. Belichek’s defense made their necessary adjustments and dominated the GMEN exposing their injuries to their RB’s and WR’s.  When Jon Hilliman fumbled the ball late in the game which was recovered by Kyle Van Noy and returned for a touchdown, the Giants were down 28-14 and the game was officially over.

The Giants were severely outmatched in this game both on offense and defense; that much was clear. With injuries to several offensive players including running backs and wide receivers, and injuries to their defense at the linebacker position, the outcome of this game was a surprise to nobody.  Was it too much to count on David Mayo to have another 9 tackle performance as he did against the Minnesota Vikings?  (He actually had 13 tackles in this game).

Who, by the way, is David Mayo? David Mayo is the next man up or an undrafted free agent, the Giants answer to a depleted linebacking corps.  The Giants all but neglected the linebacker position relying on often injured Alec Ogletree and BJ Goodson who, by the way was beaten out of a starting job by rookie Ryan Connolly.  Connolly, after playing well the first few games of the season went down with a torn ACL in week 3.  Thus, the Giants had no choice but to turn to free agency using the likes of David Mayo.  Mayo actually had 13 tackles in the Patriots game and has to be credited for being around the ball often.

Linebacker was not the only position that the Giants failed to backup adequately going into the 2019 season.  Against the Patriots, the Giants suited up the feared duo of Jon Hilliman and Elijah Perry at Running Back.  The result of this decision; 16 carries for 52 yards. Hilliman’s late game fumble was likely the reason he was cut promptly after the game to be replaced by veteran running back Buck Allen, a castoff from the Baltimore Ravens.  The Giants better hope to have Saquon Barkley back in week 7 if they are to have any chance in a wide- open NFC East race.

So where do we stand at 2-4 after losing the last two games?  IN THE THICK OF IT IN THE NFC EAST!

Best case scenario:

Looking at the Giants remaining schedule, I believe they can defeat the following teams:   Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins

This would give the GMEN  6 wins. Throw in a few possible win games against inconsistent but talented teams such as the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears and the GMEN are 8-8.  Not good enough to get into the playoffs. This, my friends is the best we can hope for I believe.

The Giants will not go further than this until they can beat the more physical teams including Dallas, Philadelphia, Green Bay and others.  Winning the game on both sides of the ball is what is required, even if the magic of Danny Dimes returns anytime soon.

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Entering the season on a positive note

The New York Giants are in the unenviable position of being a team being overlooked this season. Many prognosticators have them ranked as low as 28th out of the 32 teams in the NFL.  It appears that there is only one direction they can go, and I believe that is up!

The cause of their ranking is because of fear of the unknown.  Like in the stock market, professionals like certainty. There has never been less certainty than with this current Giants team. There are question marks in just about every area of this team and that includes coach and general manager.

At the close of the Giants vs. Patriots game on Thursday, August 29, backup Quarterback Kyle Lauletta threw a last ditch effort into the end zone which was caught by wide receiver Alonzo Russell, his second of the game.  This reception won the game. Euphoria erupted. The players stormed the field.  You would have thought this was a game 7 World Series win, or perhaps another Superbowl win over the Patriots. Sure, this had the makings of a fun sports movie; perhaps Any Given Sunday or a Friday Night Lights episode.  Giants management proceeded to reward Lauletta, Russell, as well as TJ Jones, their leading receiver during the 2019 preseason, by cutting all 3 of them.

Russell’s preseason stats were 6 receptions for 131 yards with 2 TD’s.  He wasn’t even their best receiver in the preseason. TJ Jones caught 12 receptions for 146 yards and 2 TD’s as well. As for the quarterback responsible for mopping up many of these preseason games, Kyle Lauletta completed 37 of 62 passes for 453 yards and 4 TD’S.  Hardly Tom Brady-like numbers, but certainly worthy of third QB consideration. No such outcome. He too was cut and did not make the final 53.

The NFL is a cruel league. That much is clear.  Maybe I am just expressing my sour grapes because I have admittedly developed a liking for Russell, who is affectionately referred to as “Zo” in postgame locker room celebrations.  Did I mention that there were 4 of these wins this preseason?  That’s right, the Giants won all 4 of their preseason games.

These wins are not the basis of my optimism for the upcoming season.  My confidence starts on the offensive side of the ball with a talent like Saquon Barkley.  Add an improved offensive line to the equation and you are likely to see extended drives that result in points.  Eli Manning is 38 years young and still appears to be able to manage the offense efficiently for now.  The Giants should be able to score points.  That’s right, you heard it here, the Giants offense should be improved even without a playmaker like O’dell Beckum Jr.  Dare we talk about Daniel Jones at all in this blog? I guess we will save him for the future.  After all, he will be doing little besides holding a clipboard, right?

Defense is another story but I will try to dwell on the positives.  The committee consisting of Lorenzo Carter, Marcus Golden, Oshane Ximinez and Dexter Lawrence should be able to get to the quarterback.  Perhaps they will not be Strahan, Tuck, Umenyoura and Kiwanuka immediately, but they should be able to make some plays.  I am expecting some big pressure up the middle by the rookie Lawrence, we they invested a first round pick on.

The defensive backfield stands a chance to be improved as well.  DeAndre Baker, if healthy will make a nice pairing with Janoris Jenkins.  This guy does not give up many completions, especially not touchdowns.  Add some other talented players into the mix including Sam Beal, Julian Love and Grant Haley along with what should be better safety play by Bethea and Peppers and James Bettcher’s defense could return to the outstanding rankings he experienced in Arizona.

I know the preseason is for meaningless but when you have Saquon Barkley on your team and some talented players on defense, you might be pleasantly surprised.  I’m not picking the GMEN to win it all, but with what appears to be a fairly soft schedule, a 9-7 record could be within their grasp.

Please bring on the regular season!

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Why I love this game

Few memories in a father and son’s relationship are as lasting and meaningful as a Superbowl victory. Especially when the road to achieving it was long and difficult. Such was the case for myself growing up a New York Giants fan in the 1970’s. I shared this bond with my father in 1986 when Bill Parcells’ New York Giants defeated the Denver Broncos in Superbowl XXI.

What the photo doesn’t tell you is how many Sunday’s, Thursdays and Saturday’s you gave up watching your team play and fail to advance to the Big Game. Don’t get me wrong, I am the furthest thing from being an Eagles fan.  But this photo brings back this very special memory for me.

Growing up in the shadows of the Meadowlands, I was a captive participant in my dad’s weekly pilgrimage to Giants Stadium from the age of 6 onward. A more humble approach to appreciating a team I could not imagine. The team had early wins in their team history that had earned them credibility with their fans. The Giants played in a number of classic games that took place before the Superbowl ever existed and won two NFL Championships. This success undoubtedly earned his trust and admiration for the GMEN.  My early experience was quite different, to say the least.

The Giants of my childhood had a tight end name Gary Shirk who would regularly catch passes on third down almost always one-yard short of the first down marker.  The Giant had a runner named Leon Perry who was often one-yard short of the first down on his third down running attempts.  God forbid the coach consider a trick play or ask the QB to get the first down using his feet.  These ideas were unheard of at the time.  First downs were a hard thing to come by until then GM George Young made a trade with the Houston Oilers to acquire journeyman running back Rob Carpenter.  The good news was that Carpenter still had something left in the tank when he came to the Giants.

The Defensive story was a little different.  From John Mendenhall to George Martin, the often berated Gary Jeter and of course Harry Carson, the defense had star players. Stars that will seldom be remembered because the Giants had losing records during those years. Good defensive performances didn’t matter that much if you could not put some points on the board.

The Eagles have experienced a long and difficult road to the Superbowl.  I have heard rumours that former Eagles QB Ron Jaworkski still has nightmares of being sacked Giants linebacker and all-time great Lawrence Taylor.  Yes, the Eagles history has been more frustrating than the Giants. The Giants have four Superbowl wins while the Eagles had none. Although I have tried diligently to pay as little attention to their franchise as is possible, I do know that Philadelphia had lost both of their previous visits to the Superbowl. Until Sunday.

The Eagles, with backup quarterback Nick Foles, played a game for the ages. They needed to be near perfect to beat this Patriots team.  And near-perfect they were.  Backup Nick Foles outdueled Brady. And the Eagles defense played until the final snap.  The Eagles played sixty minutes of football; the only way you are going to beat the New England Patriots.  The rest is history.

This NFL season could be characterized as one with questionable officiating.  It has become unclear what constitutes a catch. And penalty calling remains as inconsistent as ever.  But the outcome of this Superbowl feels fair and just.

As unbelievable as this may sound, the Philadelphia Eagles Superbowl victory should serve as inspiration to those fathers and sons who have suffered through losing season after losing season following their team.  The reality of today’s NFL is that a team can go from bad to good almost overnight as a result of good drafting and effective use of free agency. As the saying goes, in the NFL, on any given Sunday, anything can happen.  The Philadelphia Eagles Superbowl win is proof.

Takeaways From Pats Win Over Bills by Evan Lazar

For the eighth time in the Bill Belichick era the Patriots have started the season 2-0.

Their divisional tilt against the Bills was as emotional as expected. There was some chippy play from both sides, and a total of 25 penalties called.

Rex Ryan’s bunch was expectedly hyped to play the defending Super Bowl Champs at home.

Let’s take a look at some takeaways from the Patriots win after film review:

Patriots Use Multitude of Offensive Formations: It was hard to keep up with the Patriots formations and moving pieces on TV, so I can only imagine how difficult it is to diagnose as a defense. You wonder how and why on certain plays Rob Gronkowski or Julian Edelman find themselves so open? The answer, in part, is due to how many different looks the Patriots throw at the opposing defense. Gronk, Edelman, Amendola, Dobson, Chandler, and Lewis all saw the field a lot, and individually lined up in just about every spot possible. The Patriots expect a lot out of versatility out of their skilled position players, and they delivered this past week.

Offensive Line: The Bills played a lot of man coverage in the secondary, and mixed in 16 blitzes on 61 Brady drop-backs. Through the first two weeks of the season it is clear that the Patriots are emphasizing getting the ball out as quickly as possible, as Brady’s snap to throw numbers are off the charts. Having said that, this was another solid performance upfront as the Patriots threw 61 times and Brady was only pressured 12 times. The offensive line really held up well in pass protection, and on plays that needed that added second or two they stood tall. The unit is still short two starters yet they have delivered in back-to-back weeks.

Brady’s Big Day: It’s hard to ignore how good Tom Brady has been through the first two weeks of the season. It’s outrageous to talk about MVP candidates this early on, but the two-week MVP award would have to go to Brady, Rodgers, or Arizona QB Carson Palmer. Brady tore apart a defense that slowed down one of the best quarterbacks in 2014 last week, and his 466 passing yards were the 2nd-most in his historic career. Success comes from the top and trickles its way down. Belichick and the rest of the coaching staff set the tone, and then Brady leads the way. These first two weeks have illustrated just how great of an example Brady sets for his teammates. Minus a few misses on some deep balls, Brady has been perfect.

My favorite Brady throw of the day? The 22-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman. Brady gets the entire BUF defense to bite on play action, and barely gets the ball out to a wide-open Edelman, also a great run after the catch by JE:

Pass Rush: Believe it or not the Patriots now lead the NFL in sacks with 11. The Patriots 8 sacks on Sunday were the most by the team since 2003, and the pressure up front had Taylor looking around for room instead of downfield. After film review, there were a number of instances where Taylor missed open receivers, and it was often because of pressure in his face. 8 sacks on 21 pressures is very good production.

4th Quarter Play Calling: There has been some discussion about how the Patriots handled playing with the lead in the 4th quarter. It was surprising to see them continue to throw despite a sizeable lead, and that might have cost them a bit in the Bills comeback attempt. On their first drive in the quarter, the Patriots passed on all eight plays before turning the ball over on downs. On the next drive they ran just two plays, both passes, before Brady was stripped sacked by Jerry Hughes. Between the two drives the Patriots only chewed up four minutes of clock, giving the Bills a decisive advantage in terms of plays ran in the 4th quarter. It’s entirely possible that the Patriots were just so confident in their short passing game that they figured a short completion was the same as a run play, but it’s also possible that they were trying to run up the score a bit on the Bills. The aggressive play calling that led to the turnover on downs and a fumble nearly cost them the game.

4th Quarter Defense: Along with some missteps in the secondary that are to be expected, there were some errors up front during the Bills comeback try. The biggest difference between the Patriots solid defense through the first 3 quarters, and the 4th quarter was how the front 7 handled quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Taylor is an exceptional athlete, and is going to find some running lanes from time to time, but on some key plays down the stretch he bought his receivers time with his legs. What makes mobile quarterbacks like Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, and Taylor so difficult to defend isn’t when they take off running downfield, but when they move around to buy time for their receivers to shake the coverage. The Patriots did a decent job of keeping Taylor in the pocket for much of the game, but failed to do so on the three late touchdown drives by the Bills. On the touchdown pass to Robert Woods, Taylor avoided the rush nicely to his right buying time for Woods to find an opening in the zone, and on an even better play, found Percy Harvin for a big chunk after escaping to his left on the following series. Taylor started to find his groove as the game went on.

Missed Opportunities: Despite putting up 40 points and over 500 yards of total offense, the Patriots still left some points on the field. 40 is a lot, but they very easily could have been in the 50’s with a little bit better execution. One throw in particular that stood out was Brady overthrowing Edelman on 4th and short late in the game. Edelman clearly had a step and a good throw would have been 6, and would have sealed the victory. Against a great defense you will be more than happy with this offensive output, but it still wasn’t perfect.