Tag Archives: #Sterling Shepard

The Giants lost to the Rams 17-9 this past Sunday. Is there still reason to cheer?

It’s OK, Nick.  I do believe you are telling it like it is.  Having been a Giants fan since 1970, I can remember many more bad years than good.  The past four seasons, as you have stated, have been garbage.

It’s not for lack of trying.  More likely, bad hiring decisions by the Mara/Tisch ownership group.  Starting with the decision to keep coach Coughlin on for too long as well as an aging Eli Manning, management thinking should have turned proactive.  The decisions to hire Ben Macadoo and then Pat Shurmer as head coach were both bad moves.  Neither one of these hires was ready to be a true head coach.  Unquestionably competent as position coaches, they did not operate with the vision needed by a head coach.  Quite frankly, they lacked the overall management skills required to keep their teams together.

Now let’s fast forward to present day.  I actually like what I’ve heard coming out of the mouth of Joe Judge. Coming from perhaps the most respected coaching tree in the league, namely the New England Patriots, as well as the Nick Saban college ranks, Judge will eventually see success in the NFL.  Giants fans of course hope this will be sooner as opposed to later.

Believe it or not, the defense is improving

On Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams, the Giants became closer to becoming a winning team.  Their defense is improving.  Notable stars are emerging on the D-line, in the linebacking corps and in the secondary.  Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams are providing some push up the middle. Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell are making names for themselves from the linebacker group.  (Who doesn’t like the addition of Martinez, who always seems to be around the ball?).  Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham appears to be doing a good job with his personnel. Although they are likely to be a few players away from being consistently competitive, I do feel the defense is headed in the right direction.

No real threats on offense

With Saquon Barkley in the game (and as was the case when we had O’Dell Beckum Jr. on the team), there was the belief that the GMEN could score on any play in which they touched the ball.  The closest thing the current team can claim to having a home run threat is wide receiver Darius Slayton (3-48 against the Rams). Slayton is off to a quiet start of the season thus far.  The talented yet extremely unreliable Evan Engram is not doing the job at Tight End and the often- injured Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard are, often injured.  Without the game-breaking talent of a Barkley or a Beckum, the current squad is having difficulty scoring touchdowns at the moment.  Kicking field goals, as we know, is a recipe for losing games.  Thus, the 0-4 start with 2 defeats (Bears and Rams) which were winnable games.

The GMEN are still feeling around for their best five offensive lineman. This is something that teams often do during the preseason (oh that’s right, there wasn’t a preseason this year!).  Well, the shuffling around of linemen on the roster is likely to continue until there seems to be consistency on the offensive line with some inkling of ability to run and/or pass block, hopefully both.

I do believe there is talent on the offensive line. If Marc Columbo can unlock the motivational key on Will Hernandez (am I the only Giants fan who thinks that he should be playing better than he is… ?), along with rookies Andrew Thomas, Matt Peart and Shane Lemieux, the core of the offensive line might be set for a few years.  Imagine if the Giants don’t have to focus on drafting offensive lineman in the next NFL draft ?

I know that Pro Football Focus has Cameron Fleming rated as the top offensive lineman for the Giants thus far this season.  If that’s the case, yikes!  I have found his contributions to be serviceable at best. I liken him to a Kevin Booth. (Booth could take up a lot more space though). It will be interesting to see if coaches try to work in Shane Lemieux in to one of the guard positions or swing new Center, Nick Gates out to the Right Tackle position which I believe he played in college.  Inserting Lemieux would bring a bit of nastiness to the offensive line (something we thought would be provided by Will Hernandez) which this team could undoubtedly use.

Back to the offense, the backfield consisting of the newly acquired Devonta Freeman, Wayne Gallman and Dion Lewis is not likely to inspire too much fear in the minds of opposing defenses.  Coaching has to be more creative in using their running back’s best attributes  (screen passes?). Handoffs from the line of scrimmage aren’t going to do the job until the offensive line demonstrates the ability to open running lanes.  Devonta Freeman’s workload should increase each week as he is learning more of the playbook.  The good news is that it appears that he has something left in the tank.

Last but not least

Now let’s talk about Daniel Jones.  Is the glass half-full or half-empty?  Both, I guess. He certainly does appear to be a work-in-progress.  Having grown up during the Phil Simms years, I have seen the evolution of a Giants quarterback.  It took Simms 4 or 5 seasons trading starts with his backup Scott Brunner before he took command of the position and went on to greater things, including a victory and mvp in Superbowl XXI.

So does Daniel Jones have a Superbowl victory in him?  Impossible to tell at this point. You have to believe he is doing his best to control his turnovers at this point.  Improvement on the offensive line will be essential to his development.  We must also see better decision making from Jones, especially in the Red Zone. Personally, I want to see more of the fire that we saw in Phil Simms turnaround as the QB for the GMEN.  Jones needs to take control of this offense and show his linemen that he has the ability to lead this team to winning games this season and beyond.

If the Giants don’t win any games this season, fans will be calling for Jones head on a plate as well as those of head coach Joe Judge and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.  They are facing an underachieving yet offensively talented 1-3 Dallas Cowboys team this week. Always a favorite rival, this game will be a good barometer of how much the Giants defense has improved thus far in the 2020. season.  Stay tuned and get your popcorn ready…

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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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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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These are a few of my favorite things…

If there is any satisfaction to be gained by Giants fans during the 2018 season, it will most likely result from the plays coming from several offensive weapons.  That’s right, I said offense. A team rich in the tradition of solid if not spectacular defenses, this year’s New York Giants feature some of the games most exciting stars who are certain to win over fans who are still smarting from last season’s 3-13 finish.

Specifically, I have four players in mind that could change the outcome of a game.  Let’s start with my new favorite player, O’dell Beckum Jr.  95 million dollars (65 million guaranteed) will do a lot to improve a player’s attitude.  The Giants showed that they are indeed all-in regarding OBJ. I believe that he feels the same way.  Prior to the opening kickoff at Met Life Stadium last week, O’Dell was sprinting in front of the rest of the team trying to fire up the crowd. I love it. And I love what the most exciting receiver in the game can do for us when he is healthy.  I am expecting a monster season out of him, one for the record books.  Against the number 1 ranked Jacksonville Jaguar defense, Beckum caught 11 passes for 111 yards. Paltry numbers for him. And Eli missed him on what would certainly have been a touchdown.  Let’s see what he can do against bad defenses.

Now let’s discuss the rookie phenom Saquon “Say Gone” Barkley. That is correct, I said phenom. With no blocking last week against a stout Jaguars line, Barkley had 18 carries for 106 yards, a 5.9 average per carry.  Barkley will do that to you. Sure, prior to his 68 yard run he was bottled up with a 2 + yard per carry average, but he always has the ability, with or without blocking to spring a long one. Watching Barkley run or catch a pass, you believe that he can score a touchdown anytime he touches the ball. The last Giants player to have that type of explosiveness, let me think, was noone. I can’t remember another back with the agility and breakaway speed that Barkley possesses. Sorry David Wilson, sorry Tiki Barber.  Did I mention that Barkley can also catch and block?  Just wait until the Giants utilize all of his tools.

The third weapon that I have in mind could just as easily qualify as a second receiver alongside Beckum. I am referring to none other than last year’s first round selection Evan Engram.  Engram is a modern day version of Jordan Reed, the pass catching tight end who thrived on the Washington Redskins. If Engram can stay healthy, he has the potential to have the impact of a Jimmy Graham or even a Rob Gronkowski.  He has all of the tools to have a breakout season. Fingers crossed on the durability issue.

Weapon number 4 is wide receiver Sterling Shepard.  Against the Jaguars last week, Shepard caught 5 passes for 48 yards, an average of 9.6 yards per catch.  A very talented outside or slot receiver, Shepard will have to accept any balls not thrown to weapons 1-3.  Trust me, he will be very useful this season.

Reality Check

I have made it clear as to what I love about this team. I would be remiss if I didn’t address the unknown.  If you believe it is appropriate to refer to this season as a rebuilding or transition season (I prefer to view last season as an aberration), then we must be honest about a few things.

The offensive line could not block for Saquon last week. Granted it was only game 1 and they did play the number one ranked defense in the NFL last season.  The O-line needs time to gel.  Although they should improve game-by-game, I would not be surprised to see substitutions or replacements on the line.  Both tackles had poor games.  Fans are already calling to replace Right Tackle Ereck Flowers. If he continues to falter at this position, he could see the bench or even be released. Management owes him nothing and they have already shown (Jason Pierre Paul) that they are not afraid to break from the past.  Eli Manning was sacked twice against the Jaguars and hurried repeatedly. The offensive line has to do better if the GMEN are going to win games.

As for the defense, it is hard to condemn a team for only giving up 20 points (7 of those points came on an Eli Manning deflection). The Secondary played well, led by Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins and Eli Apple.  Curtis Riley played competently alongside defensive captain Landon Collins.

The run stoppers did their job led by Damien “Snacks” Harrison who had 6 tackles. Granted, Leonard Fournette left the game early with a hamstring injury but they played well against his worthy backup, T.J. Yeldon.  The GMEN had only one quarterback sack but that number will improve when star pass rusher Olivier Vernon returns to the lineup in week 2 vs. the Cowboys. If he is unable to play, perhaps James Bettcher’s defense should utilize more blitzing from promising rookies Lorenzo Carter and B.J. Hill.

The glass is clearly half-full in my view. The GMEN lost by 5 points to a Jaguars team that was one half away from going to the Superbowl in 2017.  Time to get on the winning side this week and beat a Dallas team that is now Bryant and Witten-less and does not appear to be as scary as in past seasons.

On a final note, as the song goes… when the final buzzer sounds, when the loss stings, when I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad!

Huddleball.com is a fan friendly website that welcomes you to share your views about your favorite team.  If you would like to join our group as a blogger, please send an email to info@huddleball.com.

 

 

 

 

Colin and Sean’s Five Players to Play Week 11 Podcast

Colin and Sean explain why fantasy owners should start Drew Stanton, Sterling Shepard, Austin Hooper, Dion Lewis, and Marshawn Lynch.  Then they discuss three good defenses to start: Los Angeles Chargers, Arizona Cardinals, and Baltimore Ravens.

Click Here To Listen to the Week 11 Podcast

Questions/Comments?  Email: seanandcolinpodcast@gmail.com     Twitter: @Cummingpodcast or @Sean__Cumming