Archive for October, 2009

Flat And Out Of Sync

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Sunday night I was able to sit in section 224, Suite A and watch the game between the Giants and Cardinals. The suite was owned by the firm doing the electrical work on the new stadium, and it was a first class box.

Unfortunately, when you are in a suite there are many distractions, like the TV right above me playing the Angels/Yankees ALCS. Being an Angels’ fan, I had a hard time diverting my attention away from the television which also made it difficult to get a good feel for the football game. Simply too much stimulus.

What I was able to decipher from the football game was a team that really looks, all of sudden, out of sync on offense. Receivers appeared to be well covered, and at other times not ready for the ball when delivered their way. A lot of Manning’s passes were forced throws, and the offensive line appeared to be allowing pressure to come up the middle (incidentally not from the right side, where rookie William Beatty started and did well). The competition has become better the last two weeks, but I’d hardly call the Cardinals a high pressure defense. They looked like it on Sunday night. The other oddity was where did Brandon Jacbos disappear to? The combination of power and speed was the best we’ve seen from Jacobs this year, but the Giants seemed to get away from the run game (and Jacobs) for a portion of the game. The Giants insist that eight man fronts calls for throwing the football, but I think were still showing too much shotgun formation and not using play action nearly enough. Out of sync? Identity crisis? I’m not really sure how this happens in a span of two weeks.

Defensively, the Giants played pretty well. There was good pressure on Warner and the defensive backfield did a nice job on the talented Cardinal receivers, but unfortunately didn’t get much help from the offense or punter Jeff Feagles. Feagles probably had his worst game as a Giant, shanking punts after Giant three-and-outs, giving the Cards a short field on at least three different occasions. They finally cashed in.

An odd game to say the least. The Giants out-stat the Cards, including time of possession, and if Mario Manningham doesn’t drop a perfectly thrown touchdown pass in the fourth quarter which resulted in three instead of seven points, the game’s outcome may have been different. But four turnovers will always be the difference, including two on the final two drives in an attempt to tie the game.

No Pass Rush, No Chance

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

If you can’t make the quarterback uncomfortable, especially one with the ability of Drew Brees, you’re probably in for a long day. 48-27 constitutes a long day in my book. The Giants were unable to lay a hand on Brees all day and it resulted in the Saints converting touchdowns on five of their six possessions in the first half. A few things bothered me about the defense. First, where were the adjustments? Without watching the game film, it appeared the Giants were attempting to rush just four in the beginning of the game with no success. With that not working, was there any attempt to bring pressure via the blitz? Also, why did it seem the Giants were playing a lot more zone when man-to-man is their usual coverage scheme? Let’s face it, the Saints are a real good squad right now (tops in the NFC IMO) and are going to make a lot of teams look bad. That, combinied with it being a New Orleans’ home game after their bye week, made it an extremely tough game for the Giants. But we’ve come to expect a better effort from this team in that type of situation.

Offensively, the Giants were off this much (my fingers are about two inches part as I write this). Manning twice just missed big plays to Dominik Hixon and Steve Smith that could have been touchdowns in the first quarter. And despite all the horrible defense in the first half, a Jints’ goal line stand with just under a minute left somewhat incredibly left the game at 27-17, with the Giants to get the second half kickoff. Here’s where the turning point of the game was. With no timeouts and the ball at the 16 yard line (after a personal foul penalty on the Saints), the Giants elected to not take a knee. There’s your first chance to second guess. I say it was the right move. You’re indoors, and getting in position for a long field goal attempt is quite possible. Plus, you have to recognize the Saints are rolling and points are going to be needed. After a completion to Mario Manningham which put the ball on the Saints’ 34 yard line, the coupe de grace occurred. Manning, who is usually money in a two minute drill, elected to not spike the ball, allowing almost 20 valuable seconds to run off the clock. That waste of time, combined with the team obviously hurried to get off the next play, resulted in a sack/fumble/loss of football to the Saints who got a gift wrapped touchdown to close out the half. Game. Set. Match.

Final point. It has zero to do with the outcome of the game, but the officiating in the game was downright unacceptable. A multitude of bad calls: incidental contact on Corey Webster on a long incompletion (even the Saints receiver was laughing), late horse collar flag on a kickoff after Saints’ return man lobbied for it, phantom flag on Shuan O’Hara negating a terrific TD scramble/throw by Manning, several non calls on Saints’ DB’s interfering with Giant receivers down the field, Dominik Hixon being called for offensive pass interference (for what, breathing?). Ed Hoculi’s crew had a bad day and I am sure Mike Peoria will let them know about it.

Official Start of the 2009 Season

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

There’s not much to talk about. The Giants seemingly moved the ball at will, and defensively were all over the Raiders. It all added up to a 44-7 rout. The most interesting part of the game for me was getting a preview of what my seats may look like next year. I sat in section 124, ten rows up from the endzone. A different perspective indeed. Without question, it’s pretty cool seeing goaline offense/defense down at your end.

The second most interesting part of the game was after favorite son Sinorice Moss muffed a punt deep in Giant territory with about five minutes left in the first half. The Raiders recovered, scored, and made it 28-7. On the kickoff, the Giants were penalized and pinned back at their own five yard line with about two minutes left. And there trotted out David Carr in place of Eli Manning. Manning, who played a superb 28 minutes, wasn’t injured either. I found that very interesting. What does that tell you about how the Giants felt about the Raiders, sending out your backup in the first half, while pinned at the five? A stop, and subsequent score by Oakland, could make the game a wee bit interesting. Antonio Pierce summed it up best by saying it felt like a scrimmage. So I guess that’s what you do in scrimmages, replace your starting QB.

Rather than focus anymore on the game, let’s look ahead to the Saints. New Orleans, Minny, and New York are the top tier teams right now in the NFC, so this is a barometer for both squads. Most pundits suggest the Giants run the ball, control the clock, and keep the ball away from the potent Saints’ offense. That’s all fine and dandy if your offense is sub par. But the Giants are hardly sub par. I would rather see, and I am sure we will, an offense with a bit more passing to loosen up the Saints, and then hit them with the run. Remember last year in Arizona? I don’t remember the running game being that dominate (in fact, Jacobs was out as I remember) but Eli had probably his best games of the year. And the Cards last year were one of the most explosive offenses in football. Throw in the fact Manning plays exceptionally well in this type of weather venue, I’d be on the attack. I’m not necessarily promoting a shootout, but the Giants will have to score points to win. And keep this in mind about this suddenly vaunted New Orleans defense: two of the first four games were against rookie QB’s (Stafford and Sanchez) and a third against a guy making his first start ever (Kevin Kolb).

Defensively, you rush and you cover. Getting to Brees is difficult, as he has is offense down pat and possesses one of the quicker releases in the game. But the Giants play tight coverage with their corners, and they’ll be a vital piece in the outcome of this game. If they can cover the initial read, that will give the defensive line a chance to pressure Brees when he looks for his secondary routes.

The “Frozen Tundra”…

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

People assoicate that phrase “frozen tundra” with the famous Ice Bowl game between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys, and even more so with the late John Facenda of NFL Films. Everyone imitates it, but as I found out last night in an interview with Steve Sabol, Facenda never actually spoke those words. Here’s the true story:

Steve Sabol wrote those very words while working on the Packers’ highlight film for that season. Vince Lombardi, an English major, wanted to review the script before it went to production. Lombardi first informed Sabol that “frozen tundra” is redundant (Wester’s defines it as a level or rolling treeless plain that is characteristic of arctic and subarctic regions, consists of black mucky soil with a permanently frozen subsoil). Secondly, Lombardi told Sabol that because they had installed a heating element under the field, the field was actually never frozen, and he would not allow those words to be used!

Interestingly enough, the Cowboys did have “frozen tundra” in their highlight film that year because GM Tex Schramm wanted it that way, blaming the loss on the elements. John Facenda did not narrate that film.

So, next time someone jokes about the “frozen tundra of Lambeau Field”, politely correct them.

A Collective Sigh Of Relief

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

That’s what you heard from a nation of Giant fans on Sunday when Eli Manning didn’t go in for x-rays and was being taped up on the sideline. I originally laughed at Eli for “hoping and skipping” in the pocket, but after the play the first thing that popped (I probably shouldn’t use that word) into my head was his Achilles. Thankfully it wasn’t, with the diagnosis being Planta Fascitiis. I’m no doctor, but I remember it being described to me as walking with a small stone inside the bottom of your shoe. We all know that feeling. So, Manning will be a question mark right up until Sunday most likely.

While watching the game, I envisioned this blog entry being name something like The Other Steve Smith, because #12 just had one hell of a first quarter of the season. Our Steve Smith, after four weeks, leads the NFL in receptions and yards. Who would have imagined? I’ll be interested to see how Smith and the Giants respond when the double teams start (have they already?) and the competition gets better. But if there’s one play that really stuck with me on Sunday, it was the one after the roughing call (a bad one BTW) where Smith got smacked and had the pass dislodged on a route over the middle. The very next play had Smith was running a 25 yard post down the middle of the field for a touchdown between three defenders. How do you like those onions?

The other player who caught my attention (actually last week in Tampa, too) was Michael Boley. He’s all over the field. In pass coverage. Rushing the passer. On run plays. This was a great signing, so let’s hope his return from a knee scope (more surprises) won’t be too long.