Archive for October, 2008

Very Refreshing

Friday, October 31st, 2008

To see Mike Singletary, named head coach by the Niners last week, call out one of his players and send him to the showers early. That was so bad ass!! Vernon Davis probably was in a daze walking to the locker room, not realizing what hit him. Here’s hoping Niners management has the rocks to stay with Singletary for the duration. There is a rumor swirling around that Mike Holmgren could be wiggling his way into San Fran, where he started way back, after he finishes with Seattle this season. The Niners have talent and I feel the fired Mike Nolan had them underachieving. Let Singletary do his thing. I think he could be a good one.

Heavyweight Tilt

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but if you like your NFL football hard-hitting, the Giants/Steelers matchup did not disappoint. The Giant defense, which I have been nit picking at in recent weeks, sacked Big Ben five times and picked him off four times. And despite allowing two long scoring plays (another was called back due to holding) the Giants really played the type of defense (no first downs and two total yards in the fourth quarter) you need to win on the road.

As always, you need play from the quarterback position and Eli Manning continues to be at his best when the game is on the line. And in this game, Manning was good even when things appeared to be slipping away. Case in point: trailing 14-9 in the fourth quarter, the Giants correctly elected to go for it from the Steelers’ 31 on fourth and one. As it usually goes, a timeout was called to strategize the right call. But Manning and the Giants did what looked to be the unforgivable, getting a delay of game coming out of the timeout, forcing a fourth and six! But Manning then threw a simply splendid fade to Amani Toomer for 30 yards, and while the Giants didn’t get seven, it was the turning point of the game. Had the Steelers held, they could have grabbed the momentum by changing field position or even scoring. The field goal pulled them within two, and the defense then put the clamps on the Steelers for the rest of the game. Another clutch throw from Eli on third and seven from midfield for 25 yard to Steve Smith on their next possession was the dagger that setup their only touchdown of the day.

Offensively, the only blemish was the inability to score in the red zone, particularly in the first half. But give Pittsburgh some credit there. I was also a bit disappointed that the Giants didn’t attack down the field a bit more, but then again, there was a reason for the zero sacks versus the team that going into the game led the league in that category.

I should also mention a few words about first round pick Kenny Phillips’ play. In the preseason, he was hitting everything in sight, particularly in practice. Phillips has not dissapointed. Almost quietly, #21 is getting more and more playing time and really looks like he belongs. His absolute knockout hit (and that wasn’t a penalty, sorry NFL) on Mewelde Moore is the thing Giant fans have been longing for in a safety. And besides getting his first pick on Pittsburgh’s final drive, the one play that really sticks out to me was one drive earlier. On third down, the Giants went with a corner blitz. Phillips was required to come up and cover WR Limas Sweed, who caught a quick slant. If Phillips doesn’t make the tackle, there is nothing but space between Sweed and the endzone some 65 yards away. That tells me how much confidence the coaching staff has in Phillips.

Back On Track…Or Not?

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

I’m not sure what to make of this game. Yes the Giants put 29 points on the scoreboard, won by 12, got six sacks, forced three fumbles, and picked off two passes. They held Frank Gore, a very underrated back, to 11 yards on 11 carries which is about as good as it gets. Stop the run and good things will happen. Chase Blackburn, filling in for injured Antonio Pierce, played a really fine game. Sounds like an outstanding effort, but something just didn’t feel quite right. Defensively, despite all the pressure, San Fran just missed on some big pass plays that could have made the game much more interesting. Then again, the blocked FG for a touchdown can only be considered a lucky play that kept the Niners in the game.

After putting up 14 points early, the Giants offense sputtered. I thought the Giants elected to pass way too much out of the shotgun on non-third down plays. And with that, they eschewed the play action fake, which really confuses me. I had read some analysis where it was pointed out the run game wasn’t clicking the way is usually does, resulting in an attempt to spread out the defense and put Manning in the shotgun. I really can’t buy that. Just the threat of the run game, especially one as daunting as the Giants’, can make play action work. Sometimes their philosophy really leaves me shaking my head.

One of the things I had planned on writing about was how having three quality running backs, when all healthy, is actually indirectly hurting the Giants. Specifically, I am referring to Ahmad Bradshaw. He is the most dynamic of the three, but gets the least playing time. Of course Coughlin quickly beat me to the punch by playing Bradshaw more on Sunday. He made his earliest appearance of the season by getting the call on a fourth-and-one situation deep in San Fran territory which he converted, leading to the second TD. Then Bradshaw got seven carries in the second half, which included a eye popping 17 yard beauty. But Bradshaw continues to be loose with ball, something he has to be absolutely correct (two fumbles – one overturned by replay, the other recovered by the Giants). While I want to make a case for Ahmad playing more, putting the ball on the ground isn’t helping his cause nor this team. He needs to be the game changing player in a positive way.

Bulls Eye

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

That’s what the Giants had on their back Monday night. Cleveland, playing for their season and coming off a bye, really took it to the Giants by dominating the line of scrimmage, particularly against the Giant front four. Defensively, the Giants were pushed around and never got close to Derek Andersen. Tuck, Kiwi, et al. were no where to be found. Aaron Ross has a rough go of it versus Brayland Edwards as well. It was so bad, Cleveland was not forced to punt a single time during the contest. To complicate matters, the Giant offense never got into its own rhythm. There were no excuses in this one; Cleveland was clearly the more prepared and better football team from top to bottom on Monday night.

Still, despite the lackluster effort, the Giants still had chances. After pulling to within 17-14 at the half, the Giants opened with a bomb to Plax on the first play of the third quarter. Plax ran a post and looked wide open, but Manning threw it towards the sideline resulting in his second pick. Not a good way to start the half and it clearly fueled more momentum to Cleveland. In the fourth down by 13, the Giants diligently drove to the Cleveland nine yard line (with some exceptional running from Derrick Ward) only to have Manning throw his third interception of the game, a forced throw which was returned for a TD and sealed the win. All three turnovers by Manning were bad decisions on his part. But I’ll tell ya, he is out tough SOB. Twice Sean Rodgers took cheap shots at Manning. That 350 pound load of crap should be fined by the league.

This was certainly a game that had trouble written over it. Despite Cleveland’s inadequacies so far this year (hell they only scored 46 points coming into the game), there is talent. And playing in front of a national audience with their season hanging by a thread, a good effort was almost predictable. The Giants weren’t going to win every game this year but the loss is particularly difficult to accept because Cleveland beat the Giants at their own game: being physical. Furthermore, with events from the weekend regarding the NFC East, this was a game where the Giants could have put some space between themselves and their competition. The Giants didn’t make it happen. I don’t think the Giants were reading their press clippings, but this assures they won’t start.

Paid Back In Spades

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

The Giants got a little revenge on Sunday, convincingly spanking the Seahawks by a score of 44-6. Coming off a bye, in which the Giants traditionally play poorly, they had to look no further than the opposing sideline for some motivation. Visits to Seattle in 2005 and ’06 are easily two of the most frustrating games in the Coughlin era. The Giants came out ready and gave Seattle a taste of their own medicine. How bad was it? Just four minutes into the third quarter,  a glance at the scoreboard showed the Giants had amassed 422 total yards of offense. Complete domination. Plaxico who? (I still love ya Plax).

The Giants attacked aggressively with the pass, and featured emerging star Domenik Hixon, who got the first TD on a nifty stop-and-go from Manning from 32 yards out. Hixon helped setup another score when he blew by the Seattle secondary for a 41 yard catch. In all, Hixon caught four balls for 102 yards, and mixed in a 15 yard reverse for good measure. The running game, again, punishing. Usually when you rush for nearly the same amount of passing yards, you’re in trouble. The Giants rolled up 254 rushing yards to their 269 passing  yards. Talk about balance to the extreme!!! Jacobs broke the 100 yard mark for the third time this season. Jacobs wants that new contract and is making a statement on the field.

Finally, how bad did it get? It got so bad that even Sinorice Moss scored two touchdowns!!  Okay, okay. There’s another swipe by me at my newest whipping boy, the Giants’ third year WR. In the websphere of Giant blogs and message boards, Moss is either beloved or ridiculed. My browsing on Monday saw a lot of references to Moss breaking through and ready to emerge as another weapon in the Giant arsenale. Here’s a news flash: Moss scored both of his TD’s when the game was over and Seattle had given up. I thought I even saw a white flag on their sideline. With everyone healthy, Moss is the fifth, count’em fifth,  WR on this team and will not see the field unless injury ensues. Forget about five receiver sets. And if Toomer is to retire next year, Mario Mannigham will certainly be breathing down Moss’ neck for playing time. Moss is what he is right now, a good body to have for depth. Let’s not make him up to be something he isn’t.