Archive for October, 2007

It’s Official: We Are Pass Happy

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

I wrote about it in my last post. Can there be any doubt now? Let’s set the stage. You are winning 13-0 and receive the second half kickoff. You’re playing against the next to last worse run stopping team in the league. How do you open your play calling (in rain and wetness no less)? Three straight passes. Three straight incompletion. Where is the logic here? You’re running the ball very well, so keep at it. This play calling is going to cost the team a game, trust me. I’ve seen it before. It was apparent Eli’s receivers weren’t breaking free, and combined with some drops and errant passes, you have to adjust your game plan and stick with the run. I was also disappointed how the Giants closed out the game. Four straight penalties by the offense while running out the clock late that harkened back to last year’s lack of discipline. That has to be cleaned up.

Now we did win, and Brandon Jacobs is beginning to backup my predictions of becoming another Larry Johnson type back. He’s running well, but hasn’t yet broken off a real long one where he can show off the wheels. That’s coming. The defense generally played well, but got a bit sloppy on the Fin’s last drive (Pierce roughing call, then allowing TD). When you consider the weather conditions and travel situation to London, this type of game was almost predictable. They have two weeks (man, do I hate the bye week) to rest/heal and get ready for Big D.

Osi Umenyiora:Chieftain

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

Talk about a defensive end’s dream. Sack, forced fumble, pick it up, rumble 75 yards. It was big because the 49ers came out at halftime aggressively attempting to get themselves back into it by throwing the football down the field. But that play pretty much ended any San Fran comeback. Again, the defense continues to grow. Sacks, turnovers, pressure. The offense eschewed their normally aggressive downfield approach with a lot more short throws. And that combined with a run game that the 49ers couldn’t stop made the visitors easy pickings. Manning was solid (he had at least six drops) and didn’t need to be spectacular. Jacobs was bullish (100+ yards) and appears to be finding his groove. Coughlin has now been 5-2 in all four of his seasons with the Giants.

Now my beef, and it’s a continuation from the Atlanta game. It has to do with the Giants’ pass happy tendencies. A few times on Sunday I thought they unnecessarily put the ball in the air when running it was a much better option.  Leading 16-7 near the end of the first half, the Giants forced the 49ers to punt and used their timeouts correctly in anticipation of a two minute drill. However, a good punt and subsequent penalty put the Giants back at their own six yard line. Here, they decided to go into pass mode immediately. Risky. Take for instance the 20+ yard pass play to Toomer from their own 17. The throw was great, but had to be a near perfect thrown over a DB. Under throw it and it’s picked off. Manning also nearly had the ball knocked out before the release. Why give San Fran a chance to get back into the game right before the half via turnover. Hasn’t that been happening the last few games? Again, third quarter, Giants leading 26-9, with first and 10 from their own seven. Jacobs run for an easy five. Then, the play call goes for a medium range throw to Shockey which was incomplete. Why not run the ball again? So what happens next is almost predictable, a Manning sack and how he didn’t fumble it away was a minor miracle. Then there was the block punt for a safety (which could have turned out much worse). When the run game is working, use it, especially deep in your own end. This continues a trend of the Giants being overly aggressive in the passing game when it isn’t warranted.

Sweet As A Georgia Peach

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

Four straight wins has gotten the team right into the thick of things in the NFC. Of course, you’re never quite out of it in this conference, but the Giants have really turned it around.

Some quick bullets about the 31-10 win in Atlanta:

  • Coughlin teams are now 12-2 in October (dating back to 2004)
  • Marvin Harrison and Peyton Manning have the most touchdown hookups since 2005. Next best? Plax and Eli, not too shabby
  • The Giants put up 31 points against a Falcon defense which has played pretty decently despite all their problems. Considering it was on the road makes it even more impressive
  • The road team won for the 12th consecutive time this series (okay, everyone knew that…)

As far as Manning, he needs to cut down on the bad throws over the middle. His pick before the end of the half was inexcusable. He’s better than that. Overall, he did play well and answered Atlanta’s early scores with scores of his own, allowing the game to not sway towards the Falcons and get the crowd involved. His decision making at the end of first halves is somewhat puzzling. In the past, he’s been money during that time. Washington, the Jets, and Atlanta all had takeways at the very same time. 

After a slow start defensively, the Giants were all over Harrington and his offense. Good pressure and good coverage down field.

I don’t know what to make of James Butler. On bad plays, he seems to be the glaring man out of position. On good plays by the defense, I don’t necessarily see him so is he doing his job in those instances?

Special teams were much better, coverage wise. Not sure why the Giants, and all teams, don’t mix in the squib quick every single game.

Aaron Ross: Playmaker

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

Yeah sure I am getting way ahead of myself, but how can you not be excited about what this rookie has shown. Followed up two good games versus divisional rivals Washington and Philly with a second half that 1) helped turn the game around 2) clinched the victory. And all that after being benched for the first half by Coughlin for an  undisclosed team violation.

First, with the Giants trailing 24-21 and the Jets driving for a potential game deciding score, Ross picked off a badly thrown Pennington pass in the end zone (well in the end zone I thought anyway). Two things here. First, he caught it, something Giants DB’s haven’t been able to do in a long time. Although it was a bad decision by Pennington, Ross was in position to make the play. And he looks confident doing it.

Second, after getting the lead, the Giants defense again made a stand when Ross picked up Pennington again and returned it for a touchdown and end the game. It looked briefly that the Giants would go back to their bad habits. After Butler dropped what should have been an easy and clinching interception, Pennington converted a 3rd and 16 to the Jet 36 yard line play to keep things alive. That’s until two plays later when Ross faked a blitz, fell back into coverage, then neatly broke on an out pass that he returned for thrilling touchdown.

The last DB we had who appeared to have Ross’ ability was Jason Sehorn, who never returned to that form after hurting his knee in the 1998 preseason.

Some other notes: the defense had just one sack and generally wasn’t able to get to Pennington, but they were only responsible for seven points. Eli Manning did his best Phil Simms imitation by playing a bad first half and followed it up with doing whatever was necessary to get the team in position to score points in the second half. You love to see that out of your QB. Plax has been simply incredible this season and only Randy Moss is keeping him from being the NFL’s #1 WR so far.

Why HBO’s Inside the NFL Blows

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

I have HBO. I watch Inside the NFL. Not a particularly big fan of the show for a number of years now for a few reasons.  Okay, a lot of reasons.  First, Chris Collinsworth. Over opinionated and waffles more than a politician running for office. One week he’s with you, a few weeks later he’s not. Not to mention I think he’s a big homo. Second, Dan Marino appears to show up without doing a lick of research. Thirdly, Bob Costas is so cerebrally above these guys that he stoops down to their level and adds to the show’s ineptitude by trying to be one of the guys. Chris Carter is actually decent. But here’s the real reason Inside the NFL has Jumped The Shark. For the last two weeks, the Giants have not been included in the highlights!! Are you kidding me?! Games versus Washington and Philadelphia? The game versus the Skins was actually an interesting game with a great ending. Not showing every game’s highlights is a real disgrace in my opinion. It’s just not just the Giants, other teams get the cold shoulder too. But I guess seeing Marino and Carter debate over the most ridiculous questions, with Collinsworth as mediator no less, is more important. Where are you Len Dawson and Nick Buoniconti?

DE-FENSE…DE-FENSE, PART TWO

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

Wow!! What else is there to say about that performance, one of the best defensive efforts I have seen from the Giants.  Pressure on the quarterback in the form of 12 sacks (six by Osi) was the knockout blow in this one. McNabb never had a chance, and his now limited mobility makes this Giant nemesis an even easier target. The Giants’ offense missed some chances in the first half (missed 34 yd FG, pick by Manning deep in Eagles’ territory) and then went conservative in the second half with the way the game was unfolding, allowing the Eagles to stay within striking distance. Problem is, they had no strike in them on this night.

 The subplot in all this carnage was Andy Reid’s blatant disregard for his quarterback and his inability to adjust his game plan to keep the Giants off his quarterback. At one point, I felt almost embarrassed for the Birds as it was simply too easy…almost like they were giving us the game. Even John Madden became critical. How about a double team or a chip on Osi? How about a rollout by McNabb?  This underscores my evaluation of the Eagles: if they come out and everything is working their way, they are hell on wheels. But, if they come out and the opposing team does something different than expected, they simply do not adjust. And in the past relied on McNabb to pull it out. I don’t think he is that type of QB anymore.

Back to the Giants. This is really the fourth straight year under Coughlin that the defense has stumbled early, then picked it up to position themselves into a good spot. I said after the Dallas game the defense shouldn’t be this bad. They obviously aren’t the ’85 Bears either. But they should be a decent defensive unit that can rush the passer and consequently make big plays. The key for this team is to avoid the injury plague and play strong football in the second half. Not looking ahead, but the Giants have four very winnable games coming up. A season that looked so bleak two weeks ago has suddenly has a ray of light.