Tag Archives: New York Giants

Seeing light at the end of the tunnel

As hard as it might be to believe, the New York Giants are still in contention to win the NFC Eastern Division.  Despite their 3-7 record, which included 4 losses by seven points or less, the Giants are only 1  game out of first place in the extremely challenged NFC East.

The fact that they are still in the race, in and of itself, should not be the sole reason for optimism. Whoever emerges as the NFC East division champion will still have to face what is likely to be far better competition.  The real reason for optimism regarding the New York Giants is that they are playing better each week.  And their marked improvement is tangible.

Revisiting last week’s 27-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, all one had to do was look into Daniel Jones eyes to know that the outcome of this game would be different from the 6 losses incurred earlier in the season. Jones gritty determination and improvement with ball handling was clearly evident.  No longer willing to be a laughingstock, Jones put this team on his back for the entire 60 minutes and drove them to a complete game 27-17 win which included two long rushing touchdowns by himself (one of which was negated by a holding penalty).   Although probably deserved, Jones can’t be given all of the credit for the win.

Assisted by quality performances for a second week in a row by Wayne Gallman and free agent acquisition Alfred Morris, the Giants running game is clearly improving. Gallman ran for 53 yards on 18 carries and had two rushing touchdowns in the game.  He appears to be implementing a jump cut which has helped him gain a few extra yards per carry.  Morris, who had a very impressive game against his former team (Washington) the week earlier, continued his effective running to the tune of 34 yards on 8 carries. Without a homerun threat like Saquon Barkley, the Giants appear to be forging ahead with a running game that is finding its identity thanks to improving offensive line play.

Whatever they are doing with this offensive line, it is resulting in increased production with at least 160 yards on the ground in each of the past 3 games.  Whether it’s rotating players in and out of the lineup, the insertion of Shane Lemieux into the left guard position when Will Hernandez was out, improved performances by Andrew Thomas at left tackle or the encouraging performance of Matt Peart whenever he has been in the game, it is working.   Hopefully the surprise firing of offensive line coach Marc Columbo and the hiring of Dave DeGuglielmo will not be too disruptive to the development of the line.

As for the receiving corps, Darius Slayton continues to be their highest production player with 5 receptions for 93 yards against Philadelphia.  Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Dion Lewis and Tight End Evan Engram formed a competent supporting cast.  Newly inserted free agent rookie Austin Mack has the appearance of a keeper after his long reception in last week’s victory over Washington.

Now for the “bend but not break” defense which up until last week both bent and broke. Not this week (or last).  Although the Giants D gave up double digit leads in six straight games this year, perhaps a statement is being made with this second straight win. We have said it repeatedly; there is talent on this defense.  However, there is a clear lack of talent in some key places, like cornerback opposite the impressive James Bradberry. Isaac Yiadom gives up more big plays than he makes. The rookie cornerback covering the slot receiver, Darnay Homes appears to be instrumental in defending more big plays.  The same can be said of Safety Jabrill Peppers, who led the team with 7 tackles including a ½ sack against the Eagles. Rookie safety Xavier McKinney will be coming off the IR soon. There are great expectations in place for him.

Patrick Graham’s defense did what it was supposed to do. With the exception of allowing a Boston Scott 50-yard catch and run, the Giants D limited the Eagles big plays. Perhaps most importantly, unlike several of the games played earlier in the season, the Giants were able to get off the field on third down. Pressure up front continues to be provided by Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson and Leonard Williams. Newly acquired Trent Harris contributed by providing an important sack.  The linebackers, led by the overachieving Blake Martinez, continue to be effective.

Our friend and renowned football enthusiast Gregory Frank provided his insights on the Giants 27-17 win last Sunday.  Here are his observations:

  1. Although Daniel Jones has gotten the brunt of the blame for his tendency to be turnover prone, much of that blame can be also be attributed to an offensive line that still has far to go in being an effective pass-blocking unit.  According to ESPN, the Giants are last in the NFL in pass blocking win rate, at 44%.  What is pass blocking win rate, you ask.  An offensive lineman needs to sustain his block for at least 2.5 seconds.  If he can do so, that’s a win.  Whether that statistic is what led to the recent firing of offensive line coach Marc Columbo is unclear, but it certainly didn’t help.
  1. James Bradberry showed Sunday that he is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL right now.  Against the Eagles, Bradberry allowed just two completions for a mere 15 yards, while breaking up two passes.  Those two break-ups, by the way, added to his tied-for-the-league total of 14.
  1. The NFC East intra-divisional record is 8-8, and is an abysmal 2-18-1 outside the division.  If the Giants can beat Dallas later this season, they will finish with an intra-division record of 4-2.  One or two more wins, perhaps against Cincinnati and Cleveland, may be enough to secure the division title.  Yes, it’s that kind of season for the NFC East, but a playoff berth is a playoff berth, however you get there.

The Giants undoubtedly played their best game of the season against the Eagles in last week’s victory.  Can they keep the momentum going and ultimately take charge of the NFC Eastern Division?  Time will tell.   One thing seems clear; head coach Joe Judge appears to be leading the New York Giants in the right direction.

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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 

Offense

GP YDS YDS/G YDS YDS/G YDS YDS/G PTS PTS/G
5 1,412 282.4 1,017 203.4 395 79.0 81 16.2

Ranking:  30th

Defense

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.

Run Forrest Run !

When your quarterback is the leading rusher for your team, as was the case with Daniel Jones of the New York Giants this past Sunday against the San Francisco Forty Niners, this is usually telling of the outcome of the game. Jones was the Giants leading rusher with 5 carries for 49 yards. When this appears to be the best play that you have going for you on offense, it is likely to be a long day.

Week 3 against the San Francisco Forty Niners offered very few positives for the New York Giants. The GMEN were thoroughly dominated by the Forty Niners on both sides of the ball. Time of possession said it all. The Niners had the ball 39:44 to the Giants 20:16, their lowest time of possession since a December 24, 2006 game against the New Orleans Saints.  Worst of all, the Giants were soundly beaten by a team comprised on backups. No Garoppolo, no Kittle, no Mostert.  The Niners backups Nick Mullens (QB), Jerick McKinnon, Brandon Aiyuk, Kendrick Bourne, J. Wilson Jr. (RB & WR’s), and Ross Dwelley (TE) torched the GMEN to the tune of 25 completions on 36 attempts passing in a thoroughly dominant 36-9 victory.

What is wrong with the Giants?

Pretty much everything.  Whereas most analysts predicted that the Giants were at most a 6-game winner this season, it is possible they won’t win any games.  This season is not for the faint hearted.

The Giants are at best a work-in-progress.  They look competent on some plays but don’t sustain drives. Their defense makes the occasional sack, deflection or run-stop, but can’t seem to make any critical plays when needed.  As the statistics indicate, the defense was on the field for what felt like the entire game on Sunday against the Niners, unable to make any needed key third down stops.  This makes it easy to say this is a horrible team.  Perhaps they are, at the moment.  Their record and stats for the 2020 season thus far would indicate as much.

It isn’t like the Giants don’t have any talent.  They do, on both sides of the ball.  A number of players have shown signs of playmaking capability. Perhaps they simply needed the offseason and 4 preseason games, all lost to the Coronavirus epidemic.  Perhaps they need more direction from their coaches and head coach.

Some defensive linemen and linebackers have flashed.  Leonard Williams finally appears to be wrapping his arms around the quarterback (2 sacks); Lorenzo Carter has shown the ability to pressure the quarterback although the sacks have been slow to come.  Oshane Ximinez and Kyler Fackrell have to get home more in their limited opportunities.  Is it as simple as saying that their play is the result of not having an offseason or any preseason games to assess their strengths and weaknesses?  Perhaps to an extent, but at some point coaches have to start making a difference.  Kyle Shanahan’s play calling gave the Giants fits all game. The Niners scored four touchdowns and two field goals on six visits to the red zone.  The Giants, on the other hand, did not run one play inside the Niners 20 yard line.  Total domination by the Niners!

The secondary has been spotty at best. Free agent cornerback signing James Bradberry has made several pass breakups in addition to a few interceptions.  Julian Love has an interception and has been involved in some quality defensive plays.  I think I saw Logan Ryan check in for a play or two against the Forty Niners. However, the other corner position, as expected, has yielded too many key plays.

The Giants are too predictable.  When their opponents need a key third down reception, an opposing receiver can always be seen steaking across the middle of the field untouched.  The fact is, nobody is making key stops.

The offense has been equally unreliable.  As easy as it is to say the team’s fate rested in Saquon Barkley’s hands, they must move on after his devastating season-ending injury.  All teams are experiencing a plethora of major injuries this season.  The who’s who list includes Christian McCaffrey, Nick Bosa, Jimmy Garoppolo, Richard Sherman, Michael Thomas, Davante Adams, Julio Jones and others.

The injury wave can’t be the result of coincidence.  It is the ramification of forcing a league to begin on time without the benefit of an offseason as well as preseason games.

As for the GMEN, growing pains had to be expected for Daniel Jones in Season 2.  The bloom has come of the rose. It is time to determine if Jones has what it takes to be the quarterback of the New York Giants. His “dear in the headlights” face from operating behind an offensive line that lacks coherence and continuity is growing thin on fans.  He is going to have to make plays on his own.  He has definitively shown us that he has the running ability to do so.  He must also demand play-calling which keeps opposing teams guessing.

It is indeed a trying time to be a Giants fan.  Even though we have been spoiled with 4 Superbowl wins in the last 30 years, we have not had a winning season since 2016 when they went 11-5. It is not too much to ask for a team with a winning record.  Look at the models of consistency in the NFL.  Look at the Patriots, Saints, Seahawks and Forty Niners; teams that have consistently winning records.

I am not asking for this team to be in the Superbowl this year.  Far from it.  I am simply requiring progress in some areas; offense, defense, special teams.  Just show me improvement week to week that can be built on regardless of the outcome of the game. That is all I am asking for.  Without progress, you become a lesser franchise perennial cellar-dweller.

If you watch Sean Payton (head coach, New Orleans Saints) call a game, you know to expect the unexpected.  Although he does have a Superbowl-winning quarterback at the helm of his offense, he brings in another quarterback turned jack-of-all-trades Taysom Hill in on offense to mix things up.  I am not saying that gadget plays are the key to a New York Giants turnaround.  I am saying that more creativity from the coaching staff will be required if the Giants are to achieve any wins in this bizarre virus-impaired season.  Up next week:  a visit to the Los Angeles Rams.

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

An improbable win for Daniel Jones and the New York Giants

Just as Eli Manning was thrown in the water on November 21, 2004, Daniel Jones was given his first opportunity to start on Sunday, and from the results he did not disappoint! He can pass (23-36 for 336 yards), he can run (4-28) and he can win games in the end regardless of how bad the team around him is playing.  Winning his first game, however, did not come easy.

Much like Game 1 against the Cowboys, the Giants could not stop their opponent on Defense in the first half.  Passes to Tampa Bay Wide Receiver Mike Evans went virtually uncontested (8-190, 23.8 avg). One had to wonder whether the defensive game plan installed for this game was placing too much reliance on the skills of aging cornerback, Janoris Jenkins who, looked old during the game.  Jenkins appeared to be overmatched throughout the first half against Evans. Having no safety playing behind him left him exposed and vulnerable. Again, one had to wonder whether the game plan installed was sound.

It was a strange day for the Giants.  Down 28-10 at the half, only the most fervent believers could forecast that something special was about to happen.  And then it began, on the opening drive of the second half, starting with a crossing route to TE Evan Engram (who had a monster of a game). After the long touchdown to Engram followed by a 2-point conversion, it was a 10 point game.

Enter the defense.  The much maligned defense of James Bettcher began to make plays in the second half.  After allowing 11 drives of 70 yards or more, the Giants forced the first punt of the game for Tampa Bay.  Perhaps the tide was truly turning.

After another long drive by the GMEN capped by a touchdown to Sterling Shepard, the Giants closed the deficit to 28-25.  Daniel Jones looked confident and appeared unflappable at times.  Following a third straight Tampa Bay punt, the Giants pass coverage improved and was much tighter in the second half.

The half was far from one-sided.  The Giants offensive line was repeatedly abused by Tampa Bay linebacker Shaq Barrett, who had his way with lineman Nate Solder to the tune of 4 sacks. He did his best to kill any thoughts about a Giants comeback on this day.  Also notable in the second half was the lack of Saquon Barkley who would experience a high ankle sprain in this game and as a result was not a factor. Wayne Gallman came in as his replacement and was barely serviceable.  A better solution will be required in Barkely’s absence, which is reportedly in the 4-8 week range.

After two more Tampa Bay field goals the Giants were down 31-25.  If there was to be any magic finish for the GMEN, it would have to occur on this drive. Thanks to a long Darius Slayton reception, the GMEN were knocking on the door with the chance to score the go ahead touchdown. And then we were reminded why they drafted this kid. A seven yard scamper on fourth down gave the Giants a 32-31 lead. I need to remind readers that this was not a play that would have been made by Eli Manning. No way, no how.

Still, the game was not won.  Tampa Bay marched back down the field putting their kicker in a good position to win the game.  And then it occurred…wide left. Giants win!  The comeback victory was complete.

GAME BALLS

Daniel Jones

Although this hard fought Giants victory was far from perfect, there are many players to credit for this win, starting of course with the Giants new quarterback, Daniel Jones.  Jones brought a new level of excitement to the team and restored, even if briefly, the notion that winning is again possible.  Jones finished the game 23-36 for 336 yards with 4 TD’s (2 running, 2 passing).

Evan Engram

Engram was a beast and is becoming a true factor in the Giants offense. He had a huge touchdown to open the second half and finished the day with 6 receptions for 113 yards, averaging 18.8 yards with 1 touchdown.

Sterling Shepard

Shepard stepped up big time with several big receptions.  He had 7 catches on the day for 100 yards and 1 touchdown, averaging 14.3 yards per reception.  Keep it up, Sterling. You are filling some big shoes!

Darius Slayton

The rookie made one of the biggest plays of the game in the second half.  He had 3 receptions for 82 yards with a 27.3 average.  Hopefully he will continue to establish himself as a deep threat this season and become a reliable second or third option on offense.

The Giants Defense

Somehow, someway the Giants D got the job done in the second half.  DeAndre Baker was credited with shutting his receiver’s down, and the Giants ensemble of pass rushers including Marcus Golden, Oshane Ximinez, and Dexter Lawrence (5 hurries, 1 sack) provided some legitimate pressure on the quarterback.

Janoris Jenkins was able to salvage a rough day with a win.

It is clear that the Giants have much work to be done ahead of them if they are going to go anywhere this season. But this victory certainly felt good. There is magic in the air and until we are told otherwise, it resides in the hands of #8, Daniel Jones.

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It’s not all bad, bELIeve me … by Jade Capristo

Happy 2019 football season to my nonexistent readers!

I can’t believe we’re celebrating 100 years of the beautiful game. It seems surreal – almost as surreal as the critics blaming Eli Manning for the state of the New York Football Giants (again), but I guess that’s just how things are now.

So let’s get into it, shall we?

The Giants have gone 0-2 to start the season, which is disheartening to we fans, but also not the end of the world, contrary to popular opinion. We’re not a sinking ship that is the Miami Dolphins, although we could trend that way if management doesn’t get their s**t together, and benches Eli for his rookie clone, Daniel Jones. We’ve showed signs of hope these past two weeks, and improvement between weeks one and two. And I, personally, don’t believe this current record is nothing the Giants can’t recover from heading into week three. It’ll take a few changes here and there, mostly on defense, but it’s about time New York became a team that fixed its ailments as they arise, rather than upon season conclusion.

But before I touch on the reparations I’d willingly chat with Dave

Gettleman about, let’s start with the blaringly obvious non-issue that is Eli Manning.

For all the fools out there who are blaming yet another subpar kickoff to season on this poor guy, I ask you this: how is it his fault?

No seriously, I’d love to know how Eli has single handedly ensured the team starts 0-2; because I’m pretty sure he’s combined for 556 yards in two games, complete with two TD’s and two interceptions, one of which is still, in my opinion, one of the worst ways to count an interception against any quarterback. Need I remind you that Eli is playing with an entirely shredded receiving core?

Sterling Shepard, out with concussion.

Golden Tate, suspended because he had the audacity to attempt procreation with his wife.

Corey Coleman with a torn ACL.

And now Cody Lattimer, out with a concussion thanks to the Bills cheap helmet-to-helmet shot that literally had him blacked out on the field, but of course wasn’t a penalty against Buffalo’s defense.

So, who the hell is he supposed to throw to? TJ Jones? Never heard of him until yesterday, when Eli tossed him a touchdown pass at the back of the end zone. Is it really the most logical thing to bench a veteran quarterback, in favor of a rookie, in the midst of an injury brigade?

Even without all of his primary receivers, Eli has managed to stay somewhat composed in the Giants semblance of a pocket; he’s even turned on the wheels when needed and become a little more comfortable staying on his toes this season – because he’s had the time. Time in the pocket in football is a luxury indeed, for any quarterback. For Eli, it is absolutely essential, as we all already know he’s not particularly mobile. But since he hasn’t had to be this season, the offense looks improved, despite the injuries. I have very few complaints with the Giants o-line, which is a massive turnaround from last year when Eli was running for his life at every snap of the football.

Saquon Barkley is as ferocious as ever, trucking defenses with ease, and Evan Engram has stepped up in his role as tight end/slot receiver. The offense has gelled, and will continue to do so, so long as the defense can make sure we’re not constantly playing catchup.

Which has been the case of these combined two first games. And Daniel Jones can’t fix that.

Now, we all know the Giants offloaded most of their once-indispensable purchases. Remember when they dropped $206 million of guys like Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, Landon Collins? All those guys are gone now. In fact, the only remainder from that massive defensive purchase is Janoris Jenkins. Our defense now looks as Swiss cheesy as our o-line used to – equally as full of holes that opposing offenses hang out in with ease. Against Dallas, we had zero pass rush and no sense of direction in our linebackers. Granted, the Cowboys o-line has been notorious for its impenetrability. But the Giants showed some improvement against Buffalo, getting to Josh Allen twice and almost forcing a turnover.

My father will tell you that none of this is favorable and we can’t expect a rookie defense to come together and be the Big Blue of old. But I still feel the hope that Pat Shurmur has enough of a hold on the locker room to get his guys to push for success. After all, if he could do it last year, midseason, with the offensive line, why not again for his defense?

The NFC East is not yet lost, and the Giants have the tools to turn it around. So long as they disregard the naysayers, stand behind their Iron Man, and work on their defense, I think the Giants can be better than what they’ve achieved thus far.

But maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

********

Thanks to our friend, Jade Capristo for allowing us to repost her blog. The link to Jade’s post can be found at:

It’s not all bad, bELIeve me

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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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Were the ’85 Chicago Bears on the field in Dallas last week?

For anyone who watched last Sunday’s matchup between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys, it would have appeared so.  The Cowboys defensive line played like the ’85 Bears registering 6 sacks and several pressures.  Eli Manning couldn’t throw deep to any of his receivers, rendering O’Dell Beckum Jr. (4-51), Sterling Shepard (3-24) and Evan Engram (7-67) largely ineffective… or so it felt.  His only option was short passes to Saquon Barkley, who set a Giants record for receptions by a running back (14-80).

Regarding all of the offseason talk of General Manager Dave Gettleman’s  offensive line building, the GMEN’s hog mollies looked a lot more like mollies than hogs. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist).  At the end of the game, the final score was 20-13.  The O-line for the Giants was so dominated by the Dallas defense that the score might have just as well been 48-0.

Kudos to Dallas Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli, who clearly deserved the game ball.  Marinelli out coached Giants coach Pat Shurmer and Offensive Line coach Hal Hunter.   Simple D-line stunts and cornerback blitzes wreaked havoc on the GMEN’s offense almost the entire game.  Eli took so many hits that he was probably rethinking his retirement with this current squad of protectors.  It appears that it will be a long season for the GMEN.

The running game was all but entirely negated as well.  Saquon Barkely had 11 carries for 28 yards.  Any gains he achieved was the result of him making multiple defenders miss tackles. There is no run blocking to be found.  Barkley is an exciting rookie with tremendous talent but can’t be expected to do everything himself.  The Giants are averaging 0.8 yards before the running back is touched, ranking last in the NFL in this statistic.  The NFL average is 2.4 yards before contact.  As much as we want Barkley to be the reincarnation of Barry Sanders, we can’t expect this to happen. At least not overnight.

Many are to blame for this monumental Giants collapse.  Let’s start with management who continues to back an aging, immobile pocket passer.   It is easy for Giants fans to drool when watching Pat Mahomes, Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold play the quarterback position.  These stars can evade defenders and still make plays downfield.  Eli’s days of finding David Tyree downfield are likely to be long gone. Fans and the analyst community are likely to believe there is cause to reevaluate the Giants decision to pass on a QB with the second pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.   While Eli Manning has several tools on his offense that other NFL teams would kill for, the question is whether he will have time to get the ball to them.  He also has difficulty beating linebackers who can cover.when he actually has time to find a receiver in the middle of the field.

As for the coaching, let’s not give up on Pat Shurmer and company yet.  It is clearly too soon for that. He has not lost the locker room as was the case with the Giants previous coaching mistake, Ben McAdoo. He has simply lost 2 games and looked awful in one of them against a team that many thought the Giants would beat.  Offensive line coach is another story. Simple stunts and cornerback blitzes can’t nullify your offense as was the case against the Cowboys.  Again, this was NOT the ’85 Chicago Bears defense that was on the field although at times, you wouldn’t have know it.  It is time for both Pat Shurmer and offensive line coach Hal Hunter to step-up their game!

Then there was fullback Shane Smith.  Or should I say ex-New York Giant full back, Shane Smith.  Smith was cut this week after missing 2 key blitz pickups against the Cowboys.  A notable statistic from the Giants game…Smith was solely responsible for 1/3 of the Giants 6 sacks.  Smith was released on Thursday following his horrendous performance which contributed largely to the Giants offensive collapse.

Still, you can’t blame a loss like this on one player. You have to site management for believing Eli could continue to thrive with this offensive line protecting him.  This is naïve or wishful thinking at best.

What Can Be Done Now?   

Any team that plays the New York Giants is going to follow Rod Marinelli’s game plan, bringing pressure early and often from several positions.  Why would you not?  The Giants must fill their holes as quickly as possible. The Giants are going to have to anticipate blitz-happy defenses and find a way to get the ball to their major weapons.

All hope is not lost at 0-2, but one can only hope that we have seen the worse of the New York Giants in 2018. It’s time for a coaches meeting that will not only identify team weaknesses but resolve or make wholesale changes.  Players that can be obtained are usually available for a reason.  Did I actually hear Will Beatty’s name being bandied about again as an offensive line addition?  Didn’t we already give him a second chance last season?

It will be interesting to see what changes are made to this team in Week 3!

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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.

If it keeps on raining, the levee’s going to break!

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 1-6, the New York Giants are playing for pride and jobs next season. Some high priced talent appears to be working their way out of New York already.  Which leads to the next question; if you are New York Giants management, what are you thinking at the moment?

Surely noone could have predicted the abysmal 1-6 start to the 2017 season. Perhaps we were a bit overrated after last season but we are not a 1-6 team in 2017, rignt?  You are what your record says you are!

The GMEN’s 1-6 record can be attributed to letdowns in several areas, including:

  • Offensive Line Play
  • Play calling
  • Quarterback play
  • Overall defensive performance (although it is hard to blame the defense when they are on the field for most of the game
  • Failure to acquire talent to backup key positions
  • Key Injuries

Point the blame wherever you want.  It is probably all valid.

So what does New York Giants management do at this point of the season?   Probably nothing.  See who plays hard and still wants a job next season.  Replace General Manager Jerry Reese if you like, if for no other reason than it’s time for a change (just like it was time to replace Tom Couglin).

Is it time to give rookie Davis Webb a try at QB when there is nothing to lose?  Probably not when you are still paying Eli Manning a zillion dollars.

As for the head coach, that is another story.  The Mara family, specifically The Duke (may he rest in peace), has not historically made hasty decisions on their head coaches.  (If they gave Ray Handley two seasons to sink the Giants ship, they surely will give McAdoo another season in light of the fact thay he took the team to the playoffs in his first season as head coach).  Will they really fire McAdoo after what looks to be a disastrous second season as head coach?  Time will tell of course, but this is unlikely if you ask me.

I suppose this decision depends on how the Giants play out the remainder of the 2017 season.  Certainly Giants fans and management alike do not like to face the reality of the 2017 season; they are the second best team that plays in Met Life Stadium.  (How can you not appreciate the Jets swarming defense that repeatedly gets hits on the quarterback… memories of the Strahan and Tuck days).

A strong second-half and player buy-in will go far to secure another season of having Ben McAdoo as head coach.

However, if the levee breaks, and all hell continues to break loose, all bets are off.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Giants Remain Tragically Uninspired by McAdoo’s Methods

Well, I hate to break it to you folks, but the New York Giants have officially hit rock bottom. I postponed writing last week with the naïve hope that a win against the Los Angeles Chargers in week five could be the delayed catalyst that would reignite a winning Giants team. Sadly, I’ve never been more wrong, as the Giants are now in worse shape than ever projected from season start. And we can all blame head coach Ben McAdoo, who has slowly but surely lost his grip on what was once a competitive franchise.

“Everyone’s disappointed, I’m aware of it,’’ McAdoo said. “Everybody’s irritated, I’m aware of it. My focus right now is trying to help with the personnel department to field a football team, give us a chance to prepare and win.’’

In lieu of losing yet another win-able game, combined with the total destruction of what was supposed to be an unstoppable receiving core, remaining players have given up on the season. And understandably so. It was announced today that powerhouse cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie left the Giants, after an alleged altercation with McAdoo on Sunday following the loss.

“I never really go in the season with expectations, because I always know there’s going to be highs and lows of the season,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “But what I do is just go out there and just prepare and play the best of my ability within the system.”

So, what now?

It’s clear to we fans that McAdoo has to go. He’s clearly not cut out for this skipper position – which is reflected by the Giants record and the attitude of the players. Unfortunately, GM Jerry Reese isn’t going to ditch McAdoo anytime soon, mostly because the injuries to Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall, Dwayne Harris, and every other capable receiver the Giants had this season came at a terribly apropos time.

Let me explain.

McAdoo now has ammo to support why the Giants are failing. He can easily use his annihilated receiving core as means to justify this tragedy of a season, rather than man up and explain that we suck because no one is rallying behind his coaching methods.

It’s a sneaky and borderline asshole thing to do, but if McAdoo has any brains at all, he knows his days in East Rutherford are limited.

And good riddance too.

The Giants have all the potential to succeed – in fact they arguably have more talent on their current roster than they had when they won their most recent Super Bowls. Injuries aside, Odell Beckham is one of the best receivers in the league. He’s a better receiver than Mario Manningham ever was, better than David Tyree, and still those guys found a way to win it all. Our defense is stacked like it hasn’t been in years, and still we can’t find a way to scrape by against a shit team like the Chargers.

It all comes down to coaching. All fingers (middle included) point to McAdoo. Now it’s just a matter of time before he gets the boot.

 

By: JADE CAPRISTO // jadesgiants.wordpress.com