Archive for December, 2009

Ambush in DC

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Monday Night was the first time in awhile that I sat down and without any trepidation watch the Giants. With this rollercoaster of a season, I just was ready to view it and not get emotionally attached. And wouldn’t you know it, the Giants played just a terrific football game that had me smiling at the end of the evening.

They jumped all over the Redskins, with an opening eight minute, Parcell-ian drive that featured a great mix of run and pass. Particularly of interest were those little “bubble screens” to Ahmad Bradshaw. I’ve been clamoring for the short passing game, particularly to the backs, and it has been better this season. But this was a perfect example of how you get your quarterback into the game with safe, easy, and effective tosses. It then sets up your downfield passing, and Eli Manning had another splendid game on his way to his best statistical season. Kudos to Kilbride.

Now I’m not going to salute Mr. Bill Sheridan. Yes the Giants looked more active on defense, but they were playing against a depleted offensive line. Which further extenuates the point I have been making all season. A pass rush cures all ills. Even with Corey Webster and Aaron Ross out, pressuring the QB is a defense’s best friend. Still, there were those occasions when the Giants were running around like Keystone cops on defense, allowing a few big plays on screens and misdirections.

Admittedly, I was quite surprised at the final 45-12 score. I figured the Giants to win a squeaker. While the Redskins didn’t play well, I think credit should go to the Giants for making them quit by taking complete control of the game early, and often.

The only thing that ruined this win, and put a big damper on the playoffs, was Dallas’ surprising upset of the Saints. But should it really be considered that much of a shocker? Consider, these same Redskins had the Saints dead to rights two weeks ago. The depleted Falcons also battled the Saints after that, only to lose a close game. New Orleans was simply due. The Cowboys are that rare team that can rush four, and play seven deep in coverage. That’s how you beat a team such as the Saints. I had predicted only one more win for the Pokes, but that win could springboard their season. They have the Skins next in Washington, and considering what happened Monday night it’s hard to make a case for them not being victorious. Dallas knows a win in Washington gives them a point blank shot at the NFC East come Week 17. That’s motivation.

Looks like the Giants will have to win out, and with Minnesota suddenly being threatened for the number two seed, that doesn’t seem probable. Let’s take care of Carolina first, then sit back and watch some Sunday Night Football.

Start The Sheridan Countdown

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Talk about disappointment. I was leery going into this one and my instincts proved to be correct. How in the world do you give up 45 points at home in your biggest game of the season? And what make it even more frustrating is the Giants’ offensive game plan was spot on. They ran, passed, and blocked probably as well as they have all year. But all for naught. Thirty eight points just flushed down the drain. The Giants were the best offensive team on the football field last night, rolling up over 500 yards and owning possession time by over 10 minutes. Eli Manning played just how you want your QB to in a big game.

I can’t believe I actually paid Bill Sheridan a compliment last week. This guy needs to go. I understand Coughlin can’t fire him in-season at this point, but I’ve seen about all I can take. Sure, make the case that 14 points were not the responsibility of the defense last night, but look at how and when they gave up points:

  • Opening drive: You should want your defense on the field at home to start a big game, with the crowd behind you. Eagles go right down the field for a 7-0 lead.
  • Right before the half: After the offense battles back to within seven, the Eagles score another TD in just over a minute to regain a 13 point lead.
  • Third quarter: After the Giant offense (again!) manages two scores to take their first lead of the night, it takes exactly two plays (a kickoff and subsequent bomb) for the Eagles to get the lead right back.
  • Fourth quarter: Pinned on their own nine yard line and with a lead of six, the Eagles go all the way down the field to put the game away. There is not one third down conversion needed in the entire drive.

Four situations, four failures. This defense should not be this bad. The Giants in no way can bring back Sheridan next year. I’ve heard multiple analysts talk about how confused the this defense looks. That’s directly attributal to the coordinator.

So, it’s back to scratching and clawing. Two more wins…maybe. But I see Dallas winning just one more to be honest, and the Giants have the tiebreaker. But in the big scheme of things, what’s the use? A third meeting with Philly or a date with Arizona, either of them on the road.

It’s Official: Section 126,

Friday, December 11th, 2009

row 35, seats 13-14. Lots still to be determined this year, but I am so looking forward to 2010 in the new stadium!!!

Brandon Jacobs: Scat Back

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

I talked about ebb and flow in my last post and how I felt, even after a disastrous Thanksgiving night game, the Giants would find a way to beat the Cowboys. Probably more impressive than anything is the way they did it. Offense, defense, and special teams all played a big hand in a game that kept the season alive and sets up a revenge game versus the Eagles.

Let’s start with the defense. Give credit to the coaching staff for making lineup changes. Canty (for Robbins), Kiwi (for Osi), and Goff (for Blackburn) all started and by all accounts played well. Most interesting was second year linebacker Johnathan Goff, who looked active and not overwhelmed in his first start. If anything, we’ll find out what he can do against some good competition the rest of the way. One of the first axioms of having a good defense is stopping the run. The Giants completely shut down the Cowboys on Sunday, which was especially impressive considering how they looked versus Denver last week and Dallas in the first meeting. When you stop the run, the other team becomes one-dimensional. A turnover caused by Kiwi late in the first half setup a go ahead touchdown, one of the biggest plays of the game. Nice job by Bill Sheridan, being much more imaginative on defense. I loved the standup look by the defense before the snap, which confused the Cowboys’ protection. This unit certainly responded.

One of the first things I noticed about the offense was some throws by Eli Manning. I do believe that his foot his indeed bothering him. There were two specific plays. The first was a pass on a forced rollout to a open receiver which was under thrown. Eli has been very good at making that throw this year. The other was a long incompletion intended for Steve Smith which didn’t have the usual look when Manning play fakes and goes deep. What’s puzzling is on Ahmad Bradshaw’s big run in the fourth quarter, Manning was seen sprinting (yes, I rewound my DVR) down the field to block. I believe that running in a straight line is actually easier than dropping back, planting, and throwing. Something to watch going forward. This is the first time I really noticed it.

Now the offense wasn’t spectacular by any means, but it answered a 10-0 deficit in quarter two with a touchdown and then down 17-14 in the third, made the biggest play of the game (and maybe the season). Manning’s four yard flat pass to Brandon Jacobs turned into a 74 yard touchdown pass down the sideline. It was significant to me for two reasons. First, and obviously, it erased another Cowboy lead and gave the Giants the lead for good. Secondly, it told me something about the Cowboys. When you come into Giants Stadium with a chance to secure your first place position while also knocking the Giants out for all intent and purposes in regard to their season and give up a play like this, something is wrong. Brandon Jacobs is one of my favorite players and that play had me jumping off the couch, but you can’t, as a defense, allow that to happen.

Finally, Domenik Hixon put the game away with a punt return making in the trifecta of for the offense, defense, and special teams. Great team win. The victory was huge for obvious reasons, but more importantly the Giants now own the tiebreaker on Dallas come playoffs. If Dallas loses at home to San Diego next week, the wheels will be completely off. They started coming off on Sunday. And yes the Giants still have a chance at the division given this result, but I’ll defer any enthusiasm I have until after the Philly game. The team should certainly be motivated, after being embarrassed earlier this year. Win and it could be the start of something. Lose, and it’s back to clawing and scratching.

What The Hell’s Going On Out There?

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

The defense continues to be porous. Denver, that Kyle Orton led unit, was getting five yards a pop with each first down run it seemed, making second and third down very difficult to defend. I’m not going to spend much more time on this because it’s not very deserving, but one play summed up how this unit plays. On third down in the red zone after the Giants had pulled to within 16-6 and maybe, just maybe going to make a game of it, the Broncos got a wide open receiver over the middle for an uncontested score on third down. And they also were called for defensive holding. Nice job guys.

While the defense invents new ways to look bad, I can say at least they showed a smidgen of fight. You saw players pissed off and taking some pride. What can I say about that sleep walking Giant offense? They seemed to have no fire at all, and this was the unit expected to carry us through the end of the season. Eli Manning looked almost completely disinterested, and I have to admit my dissapointment in that. Where was that pissed off attitude he showed in New Orleans? Talk about playing with zero sense of urgency. Brandon Jacobs, sporting a leg injury and a short work week, should gave taken a back seat to Danny Ware (oh sorry, DJ Ware). Jacobs looked painfully slow, and the run blocking continues to be a problem. Ware’s run on third and one in the third quarter was unfortunately the most dynamic play of the evening. And an indication that Ware was the only back with the type of moves that was going to make something happen. Again, this is a coaching decision as Ware should have gotten more touches in the first half despite the fumble. And while I’ve complimented our receivers this year (they are really the only part of this entire team that has produced a positive this season), they are still at the stage where they are going to struggle against teams with veteran defensive backfields (see Philly and now Denver) who know how to play. There weren’t many open receivers to throw to.

I know it was a short week with travel to a visiting team that was desperate, but I expected this team to at least battle and make a game of it. The season now comes down to two games: Philly and Dallas back-to-back at home. I actually think Dallas is a good matchup for us, just due to the ebb and flow of how an NFL season can go. But after that, I only see two more wins. Right now bad karma is swirling at the Meadowlands. Eli Manning’s renewed foot problems, Bill Sheridan’s tenuous coaching position. I don’t think a playoff berth is in the cards, but I don’t want to see this team do an el-foldo like Jim Fassel’s teams were characteristic of. It’s up to the players and coaches to get through it.