Archive for September, 2008

Brass Sends Message

Friday, September 26th, 2008

We’ve heard that it was an “organizational” decision, not just Coughlin, that resulted in Plax being suspended for two weeks. And I completely concur. Burress just had a current contract ripped up and redone all while he wasn’t even practicing during training camp, which included provisions that he would be more involved in team activities (whatever the hell that means). It’s clear to me that John Mara (probably more so than yahoo Bob Tisch) and Jerry Reese wanted to send a message, probably feeling a bit betrayed. And who could blame either of them. No doubt they were PO’d when they got the new about Plax being AWOL. Consider this: had his contract not been renegotiated, would Plax had suffered the same fate? Quite possibly a hefty fine plus a similar penalty that Burress got in 2005 (say, sitting out the first quarter of a game) would have been in order. But now you have the same type of stunts being pulled after a new deal was done by the Giants who clearly demonstrated their commitment to Burress. The Giants wanted to send a message and have it hit home.

Any long range effects to this? I think not. Burress has already conceded he was indeed wrong. And while he did file a protest with the NFLPA which may recoup some of his prorated salary, it won’t effect the length of his suspension. Certainly Burress doesn’t want to miss any games, being the competitor he is. He just needs to be more responsible. Hopefully this sends that message loud and clear.

Thank You Dick Lynch

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

Dick Lynch, who played defensive back with the Giants from 1959-1966, passed away yesterday at the age of 72. While I never got to see Lynch the player, my familiarity with him came as the color man on Giant radio broadcasts, a position he held until last year, an amazing 40 years. Before the advent of Sunday Ticket and sports bars, my early memories of the Giants involved listening to WNEW 1130 with play-by-play man Jim Gordon and Dick Lynch describing the games. Together, those two men provided me with some of my best early memories of being a sports fan and Giants’ fan. I can remember picturing the game as they described it, then waiting for the highlights to see how it actually unfolded. Old school stuff.

Lynch’s style could only be described as pro-Giant and he wasn’t afraid to let you know it. He also was a huge Notre Dame fan (his alma mater) and he didn’t hide that either. In doing some research on Lynch, I found some interesting things. He is perhaps best known for a 3-yard touchdown run in 1957 that gave Notre Dame a 7-0 win over Oklahoma, ending the Sooners’ 47-game winning streak. Lynch was also a very fine amateur boxer while at the Golden Dome.

It’s been awhile since I actually listened to a Giants’ radio broadcast. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend many Giant home games over the last 10 years and, as mentioned before, satellite TV now makes every game accessible. Those times that I did listen to Gordon (who passed away a few  years ago) and Lynch on the radio remain my favorite era of Giants’ football (1980’s). For that, I thank both men for making it extra special in the way they described the game.

Plax Suspended

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

This is something. I attended the Bengals game, and of course when I got home the first thing I did was fast forward my DVR to the final drive in regulation. After seeing the Boss TD catch, something else caught my eye. Plaxico Burress. His reaction was not that of a player whose team just took the lead with about a minute to go. He didn’t raise his arms. He didn’t even come over to congratulate Boss, who was whalloped on the play as well. He simply walked to the sideline. Now at the time I didn’t think much of it, other than Plax having a bit of a frustrating day.

So Burress has been suspended for two weeks, including the Seattle game, and is not allowed to partake in team activities until October 6. Wow. That’s a hefty suspension. Apparently he didn’t show up on Monday and the team was unable to contact him until Tuesday. More details to follow.

First, I’m very dissapointed in Plax, one of my favorite players (hell, he makes this website’s main banner). He’s obviously has taken a step backward here and hopefully he will be very motivated to redeem himself upon his return. Second, I applaud TC. He could have suspended him for a week but makes a point to sit him down for a regular season game. This is Coughlin’s ship and you have to follow the rules. Time for the Giants to pull together even tighter.

From Pedestrian, To Interesting, To Exciting…

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

That’s how I would describe the Giants game yesterday. For three quarters, both teams plodded their way to a 13-13 tie. The Giants amounted six sacks but you never got the impression they were harassing Carson Palmer, except on the very first series of the game. Meanwhile, the Giants line wasn’t giving up a sack all day but the Giants offense seemed to be giving an injury riddled Bengals defense way too much respect. Other than two nice pass plays to Kevin Boss, the Giants weren’t attacking down the field as they usually like to do.

In the fourth quarter, it started to get interesting. The Giants elected to take a FG on fourth and one from the Bengals’ eight (the right call IMO) to break a 13-13 tie. Palmer then led his team down the field, with a perfectly thrown scoring strike to TJ Houshmandzadeh into excellent coverage with four mintues and change left. Safety James Bulter was in the right place to knock the ball away but missed it.

Then came the excitement. Manning, usually at his best in the final staza, didn’t dissapoint. He matched Palmer by leading his team down the field (with a little help from Derrick Ward who again excelled) and fired a short TD pass to Kevin Boss to take the lead again. It was Boss’ third catch of the day (and season). It was great to see the TE in the passing game, and he really demonstrates the saying “soft hands”.

It was almost predicatable that Palmer would lead his team down the field for a tying score, setting up the dramatic OT. A big, third down knock-away by Sam Madison to prevent a first down allowed the Giants to get the ball a second time in OT. Two passes from Manning, the first perfectly dropped in to Burress for 28 yard then to a tiptoeing Toomer for 31, set up the chip shot game winner by John Carney. Carney has been quite the pickup, going 4-4 yesterday and 7-7 9-9 overall. His directional kickoffs have also been very impressive. The Giants have an interesting decision with Lawrence Tynes.

The overall mood of this win was sure we won, but it was the Bengals and the effort was subpar. Some words of wisdom. The Bengals are a professional football team that gets paid to play. They were 0-2 and desperately wanted to avoid an 0-3 start. The Giants aren’t going to play an “A” game very week, and they certainly didn’t on Sunday. But you have to be impressed with Manning’s late game heroics again and the defense stopping the Bengals on their only possession in the OT.

Stifling of the Rams

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

For whatever reason, I feared a Rams team to be highly motivated and ready to play on Sunday. Based on their hideous performance last week and it being their home opener (plus a chance to knock off the defending champs), this game simply had trouble written all over it. So for three quarters, the Giants dominated the game statistically but not the scoreboard which never is a good sign. Two 50+ yard field goals and a miracle of a catch (or did he?) by Tory Holt had the Rams within a single score of tying the game in the final quarter with plenty of time on the clock. Then the Giants did what good teams are supposed to do: flex their muscle and put the game out of reach with 21 unanswered points.

A real nice game for Eli, who could have had even better stats had he not missed on some long, down field attempts where receivers appeared open. Over 66% completion and three TD’s is about as good as it gets. The running attack, again, formidable. Great to see Bradshaw not only running (and playing!), but catching it as well. This kid is dynamic and come the end of games where Jacobs and Ward have worn opposing teams down, Bradshaw can be downright frightening.  I also loved what I saw from Dominik Hixon, another player who was missing in the opener. Hixon followed up a great preseason with what exactly you want: production when the games count. Hopefully he takes over punt return duties from RW. What a great fourth compliment in the receiving corp. And Justin Tuck just doesn’t need any more buildup. I remember seeing this kid run down LaDanian Tomlinson some 40 yards downfield as a rookie in 2005 and knew he was going to be a player. 

Fast Start, Mediocre Finish

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

In their third straight prime time TV opener (and when’s the last time that happened – answer below), the Giants picked up right where the left off last season. Well, at least for the first 29 minutes against the Redskins in which the G-Men built a 16-0 lead. The only belmish during those 29 minutes was some failed attempts in the “green” zone where the Giants could have really put the ‘Skins away early. One, in particular, was when Toomer pulled up on a slant at the goal line which would have been a TD had he continued through. The final minute of the first half included a botched KO coverage and subsequent score that put Washington right back into the game. 

What happened in the final 30 minutes was a continued dominance by the Giants’ defense against a Washington team that really is lost at this time. New coach, new system, and still a relatively young QB. The most dissapointing thing to me in the second half was the Giants inability to score and give themselves some breathing room. I thought Manning started zeroing in on Plax too much, especially with the injuries incurred by the ‘Skins secondary. With Plax being doubled, look to your other receivers. One pass from Eli was thrown right into double coverage which he clearly needs to recognize and look for something else. I also thought the pass protection wasn’t quite as good as we’ve come to expect from that group. But the thing to remember is for most of these guys, it is the first time they are playing a full game. Look for better play next week from the line.

The good signs? Brandon Jacobs being his usual bulldozer self. If this guy stays healthy, the sky’s the limit (as will his contract number). Derrick Ward also was productive with his carries, running hard. Practice? Who needs it…Plax was pumped obviously from a new contract extension and played really well. The only thing he missed was looking back on a seam pattern from Manning that appeared to be on target. It was good to see rookie LB Ryan Kehl in the game often. This means the coaching staff trusts the guy, and in a complicated scheme, tells me the kid is smart.

Finally, the one thing that still bothers me about this offense is the inability to successfully throw to the backs. Derrick Ward is really the only back who has shown a knack for it. Jacobs is hit or miss with his hands, and Eli tends to zip the ball too much on short dunks (particularly to Jacobs). Furthermore, their setup and execution at screens continues to be very poor. If you could ever get Jacobs in the open field on a screen, watch out.  I really think that Bradshaw could be the real key here, but he didn’t play a snap on Thursday, which we later found out was Coughlin’s admitted error in the rotation. I want to see improvement here because this is a carryover from last year.

TV trivia answer: from 1986 through 1989, the Giants appeared on the opener of Monday Night Football. And in 1990, they appeared on a Sunday night primer when TNT did games for a short stint. Then again in 1991, they played San Fran on Monday Night. Six straight years in prime time.