Archive for the ‘2008 Offseason’ Category

Let’s Get The 2009 Season Started Already

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

But I guess I first have to review the big game from Sunday. I thought it was a pretty boring first three quarters, with the only exciting play being the long interception return by the Steelers which looked like it was going to be the real difference in the game. But the Cardinals, who could never get any rhythm going throughout the entire game, finally made a game changing decision in the fourth quarter and went no-huddle. That move proved very effective. The Cards got a score to Fitzgerald to pull within six, and would eventually take a one point lead with a little more than two minutes left on a second Fitzgerald TD that was lightening quick. Both scores exemplified Fitz’s assets: size, strength, and speed. The Steelers, led by MVP Santonio Holmes and Ben Roethlisberger, then literally snatched the game away from the upstart Cards with a text book two minute drive in a dramatic fourth quarter.

A few bullets:

Shockey Sent Marching Out

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Before the draft, rumors were rampant about Shockey going to the Saints, and today it finally came to fruition. Just days before the opening of camp, the Giants cleared the air and get a #2 and #5 from the Saints in next year’s draft for the disgruntled tight end.  Back in April, I discussed the reasons for not doing it. However, during the OTA’s, in which Shockey was present but wasn’t seen anywhere near the field (he was supposedly rehabbing), there was quite a bit of uneasiness when the tight end’s name was brought up, and an apparent shouting match between Jerry Reese and Shockey could have been the final straw.  Whether it ever happened (or to what degree) we’ll never know, but that could have been the clincher which ended this saga.

In the end, the Giants did the right thing. While the prospects of having Kevin Boss and Shockey in double sets is very appealing, it doesn’t really work if one of them isn’t on the same page as everyone else.  And if Shockey was going to be this huge distraction during camp (with a press egging him on too), it really was the last thing the defending champs needed. Shockey was the last remaining player in that offensive huddle that looked through Eli. Now with both Tiki and Shock gone, everyone looks to the QB, not beyond him.

To steal a line from BBI, in which one of their loyal members posted: “I love Shockey, but I love Superbowls more.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself.

As The Favre Turns

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Told ya’ we hadn’t seen the last of him. Brett Favre wants to return to the NFL and not necessarily with the Packers, as he apparently has asked for his unconditional release. My initial thoughts on this latest desire to return is there is some conflict between Favre and the front office/coaching staff. Why retire, then back the Packers into a corner by wanting to come back at such a late date?  It seems pretty clear to me he is trying to flee Green Bay, and what validates my assumption is that we now know Favre talked to the Packers a few months ago about coming back, and the team was all for it. Then Favre changed his mind again. Now at this point of the NFL calendar, he has no choice but to commit to coming back and the Packers aren’t budging. This latest bid to return has simply ticked off the Packer organization, as they have made a commitment to Aaron Rodgers. So the team told Favre they will not grant him a release, but he is welcome to join the Packers as a backup and compete for the job.

I believe the Packers have handled this perfectly, so far. Favre is under contract with the team. Why release him and let another team (such as division rivals Chicago or Minnesota) reap the potential benefits? Do I think Rodgers starting and Favre as the backup can work in Green Bay? No way, not in that combination. Most everyone sees Favre winning that battle.  A trade of Favre would make GM Ted Thompson public enemy number one, and would the team even get equal value for a player his age and squawking to get out?  Favre has put the organization in quite a pickle. Very interesting times in Green Bay, eh?

The Personal Seat License Has Arrived

Friday, June 27th, 2008

On Thursday, the Giants announced that every single seat in the new stadium, to be ready for the 2010 season, will come with an additional price: a PSL.

To be honest, I have been hoping that PSL’s arrived on the scene with the new stadium. The reason? To basically thin out the droves of people who hold, for example, 6-10 seats as part of their season ticket package, and in some cases, never use some or all of these tickets but rather broker them to others. Those fans will now have to make a choice on how many (if any) tickets to renew under the terms of the PSL. And ultimately this will open up opportunities for those on the ticket wait list.

But as always, you have to careful what you wish for. The Giants have already announced that every upper tier seat will come with a price of $1,000. Lower tier and mezz prices haven’t been released, but it’s quite obvious these will be more expensive (in some cases rumored to be as much as 20K per seat). It’s commonly understood right now that those in the lower/mezz levels will have three options:

  • renew at the going PSL price for their current seat(s)
  • opt to move to the upper level
  • not renew their season tickets.
  • It is also believed that choice to move to the upper level will be based on seniority. Once the upper level is filled, option 2 no longer applies.

    So I have conservatively estimated that 15-20% of current ticket holders will not renew. In a new stadium that will hold about 82,500, I believe that the first 12,000 to 14,000 fans on the wait list will have an opportunity to get season passes. But the question becomes at what price? Those seats will certainly be the highest priced seats in regards to the PSL (and face value of the ticket). So while your number finally comes up, you may not be in a position to afford it.

    The other interesting thing to point out is once the new stadium is full (meaning every PSL is assigned), the wait list as we know it becomes meaningless. If someone decides they are done going to Giant games, they will sell their PSL to the highest bidder in the open market. The first person on the waiting list doesn’t get a crack at it. 

    It also will become increasingly more difficult to get tickets at decent prices outside of the current TicketMaster ticket exhange program. Here’s why. Upper tier fans, possibly owning less seats now, will be more reluctant to sell because they want to go to the game themselves. And if they do sell, the price will be more expensive in an effort to recoup their cost of the PSL. The same thing applies to lower and mezz seat owners, and figure the cost to be even greater considering their outlay for PSL’s.

    Be careful what you wish for. Hoarding of seats will be eliminated. New fans will get an opportunity to become season ticket holders. The only question becomes, at what cost?

    Thank You Mike!

    Thursday, June 19th, 2008

    Michael Strahan has decided to retire after 15 terrific seasons in the NFL, ending a career that will certainly put the defensive end in Canton when he becomes eligible in 2013. I really feel he’s making the right choice, going out a champion and also ending it on his terms. We see so many athletes simply hang on or either get tossed aside due to declining skills. Strahan represents neither of these instances. The man can still play with the best of them, proving it last year at the age of 36. And when he was named captain after missing all of training camp last summer, his leadership and respect in that locker room was held in as high regard as his play.

    Strahan is probably the second best defensive player I have seen on the Giants (Taylor) in my fandom since 1980. What makes Strahan a Hall of Famer is his ability to play the run and the pass. Making it even more unique is the size of Strahan. Whether he was playing at 285 pounds (earlier in his career) or at 245 pounds (like this past year), he was equally effective. Amazing. Strahan just knew how to play the technique at his position, and do it at the highest level.

    The one knock on Strahan, and I always said this, was he didn’t make the big play when the Giants needed it most. There were some bitter collapses during his time (1997 versus Minnesota and 2002 versus San Fran come to mind immediately) when Strahan, or his defense, didn’t come through. Don’t get me wrong, there are always going to be situations where the defense fails, it happens to the best of them. But the Giants never seemed to get that stop when it was needed in big, tight games. 2007 was different. They didn’t fold in Dallas or Green Bay, when they easily could of. Instead they got tougher. And while New England did go the length of the field for a go-ahead score late in Super Bowl XLVII, the offense came to the rescue. And that was so appropriate, because the defense, led by Strahan, played wonderfully on that February evening and deserved every ounce of praise.

    John Mara was unsure about retiring Stra’s number, only because the Giants are “running out” of numbers to use for current players. That’s okay, because no one will confuse #92 with anyone else. It’s Michael Strahan’s number forever.

    Some Final Thoughts…

    Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

    …before I depart to run my summer baseball team, the Roughriders.

     First, I picked up the five DVD set released by NFL Films that everyone has been waiting for: the Giants’ incredible run through the playoffs that includes Week 17’s game versus the then undefeated Pats. It’s the full network broadcasts, with the original announcers (Buck and Aikman for every playoff game). There had been a rumor that Bob Pappa and company from WFAN would be spliced in over the video, but that isn’t the case. The really cool thing: you can watch the Super Bowl with Strahan’s commentary turned on (athough Stra, like any defensive player, harps too much on the offense to just not make a mistake…still, who can get mad at the guy?). The really uncool thing: these games aren’t in HD. I have to admit, I’m spoiled and it’s really a big time blunder by the producers. All these games were broadcast orginally in HD. Talk about going cheap. It’s just not the same. Nonetheless, it will be a long time before I actually sit down and watch the entire set (if ever, as I’ve watched numerous replays already) but if you’re a Giants’ fan this is something you at least have to have in your video collection.

     The Giants got their rings last week, and man, were those things huge! Strahan wanted a “10-table ring” and Tiffany’s certainly delivered. The ceremony kicked off the start of OTA’s to be followed by a “mandatory” mini camp June 11-13. Shockey wasn’t at the ring ceremony and we’ll see what happens at the mini camp. Some minor drama, but really, after what this team has gone through over the last three years, this amounts to small potatoes despite what ESPN or any other outlet can make it out to be.

    Finally, some more kudos to the front office. When the Giants came to David Diehl to rework his contract a few weeks ago to be more in line with a starting left tackle, it sends a message. To everyone. The Giants know they have a young nucleus and keeping it intact is vital to the team’s future success. Look for Chris Snee and Brandon Jacobs to be next on the list.

    Review of 2008 Giants’ Draft

    Friday, May 2nd, 2008

    Once again, I came out of the draft feeling good about what the Giants did. They got very good value based on the spots they picked at, and filled needs. The Giants followed my recipe for going heavy on defense, with some nice surprise picks on offense.

    There’s little question that the secondary needed to be built up a bit more and that’s exactly where the Giants looked first. Kenny Phillips’ stock was said to be falling, but that proved to be a good thing as he fell all the way to the Giants. Arguably the best safety in the draft, Phillips at number 31 is good value and fills a need. Originally projected to go mid-first round, the Giants will gladly take him. Look for him to see the field a lot in his rookie year. 

    Second round choice corner Terrell Thomas is a name I didn’t really recognize. But the book on him sounds perfect for the Giants: big, long arms, physical. The negative on Thomas appears to be speed, but that may be deceiving due to his size. While he may project to safety, the Giants will certainly give him reps at corner in the beginning. He comes from a passing conference, a big time school (USC), and played in big games. All things I like to hear. 

    The third rounder, WR Mario Manningham, is easily the most intriguing pick, and could turn out to be the steal of the draft. First, unbelievable value in the third round, since he was projected to be a possible first rounder. I predicted a wideout would only be taken if it was the best available player at the time, and that certainly qualifies here. We all know Manningham’s problems, but his upside was too great to pass up at this spot. Physically, there seems to be some disagreement on his speed and ability to separate. Honestly, I don’t watch a lot of college football so I don’t know, but all I have heard is “deep threat”, “polished route runner”, “ability to leap” as adjectives for Manningham. The Giants didn’t let a bad Combine workout dissuade them. Let fellow alum Amani Toomer take this guy under his wing this summer and the dividends could be huge. A great pick. 

    The Giants made me proud in rounds four and five going for linebackers. If both these guys can play, the Giants will now possess a very deep corp. Current Giant LBs Tank Daniels and Rory Johnson are marginal NFL players. Both these draft picks are an attempt to upgrade and replace those guys. Fourth rounder Bryan Kehl is described as a coach’s dream in the writeups. The highlights I saw of him displayed an ability to drop into passing lanes and catch the ball. The Giants traded up seven spots to get him, telling us they wanted to take no chances of someone else pouncing. Fifth rounder Jonathan Goff was projected as a third rounder, so the Giants again got value. Goff could be the eventual replacement to Antonio Pierce down the road, but that’s getting way ahead of ourselves. Both figure to be special team contributors immediately. Could these picks signal a potential switch back to DE for Kiwi in the near future? Right now the Giants are saying no, but that probably hinges on Strahan coming back and how these two picks develop in camp.

    In the sixth, the Giants made a choice simply by taking the best player available on the board, and it turned out to be a quarterback. Rod Woodson’s cousin, Andre Woodson, was expected to be a high pick before having a rough Senior Bowl week. The Giants simply could not let this player slide. He’ll battle Jared Lorenzen for the third spot this season, getting a lot of playing time in exhibition games. Again, this is a great low risk/high reward pick. You’re getting a projected higher round pick at the very end of the sixth round, and at a premium position. His value is two-fold. Woodson could develop into a very good backup QB, and/or possibly become a valuable trade commodity. Keep your fingers crossed.

    The seventh, and last selection, secured my prediction that the Giants would take a DE. Cleary, though, Robert Henderson is a project so we’ll see what happens. He has a quick first step but needs to bulk up. The practice squad seems a likely destination for the first year. It looks to me that the Giants protected themselves by drafting linebackers, rather than a DE, in case Strahan retires. That would allow Kiwi to move to DE and give the staff more choices at LB as a replacement.

    Jerry Reese followed up last season’s terrific draft with one that appears to have lots of promise. I will be interesting to see how these guys perform in their rookie mini camp scheduled for May 9th and 10th. Oh, and the Giants didn’t trade Shockey. Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make.

    2008 Draft Preview

    Saturday, April 19th, 2008

    Unfortunately for the Football Giants, they’ll be picking last in every round of the ’08 draft. But the good news is they are picking there because they claimed the Lombardi Trophy in 2007.  More good news is in the state of the current roster. With no glaring weaknesses, the Giants will be in a position to pick the best available player, regardless of position, which I have pointed out before is always the best drafting policy. Free agency brought a backup QB (David Carr), some insurance at linebacker (Danny Clark), and the resigning of RB Derrick Ward to the deepest backfield in football. Still, there are obviously a few positions where the Giants will look to improve and upgrade, so let’s take a look.

    Last year’s first pick, Aaron Ross, was really a nice selection by Jerry Reese. Not only did he take over starting duties by the fourth regular season game, but Ross played like he belonged. The Giants, I believe, would love to select a corner that could team with Ross over the next several years. That’s not to say savvy Sam Madison is out by any means, but the Giants need to think about eventually replacing 34 year old vet. While Corey Webster played extremely well in the playoffs, I am not ready to concede anything. Plus, in this age of four and five WR sets, you can never have enough cover guys. I certainly expect a corner on Day One.

    Safety is an interesting position. The Giants have a player that seems more suited for a backup role (James Butler), a stop gap veteran presence (Sammy Knight), and a player (Michael Johnson) that could be ready to take over a starting spot based on what he showed last year as a rookie. Johnson is really the key here. If he can make the jump to full time starter, then being paired with either Knight or Butler would be an adequate tandem. But the Giants still need depth here, and a safety on Day One makes more and more sense.

    Linebacker, a Giant tradition. Not anymore. We hear more and more that linebackers aren’t that important in Steve Spagnulo’s schemes. Poppycock. Give me an athletic linebacker that can blitz and cover and tell me Spags can’t use him?  Thing is, the Giants feel they have that, namely third year man Gerris Wilkinson. The Giants let Kawika Mitchell walk in free agency because they think Wilkinson is ready to start, and shine. We’ll find out. Kiwi, Pierce, and Wilkinson is solid corp, and Steve DeOssie hopefully can take the next step and start getting snaps in a relief role. I’d still like a Day One pick to be spent on a linebacker, either inside or out.

    Do the Giants shock everyone by taking a DE with their first pick? Remember how we all fell out of our seats when Kiwi was picked in ’06? Here’s the deal. While we want Strahan to come back, any good football team starts preparing before a player retires. And  here is the perfect time to draft an end who can absorb Stra’s wisdom, much like Stra did when drafted back in 1993 (remember, Strahan wasn’t an instant star by any means). Plus, with the rumor of Osi potentially holding out this summer, the Giants may want to be proactive and protect themselves. I do think a DE will be picked in this draft. The Giants will also be on the watch for a DT.

    See a trend here? I’ve written about nothing but defense, but then again I am old school. The Giant D was good last year, but they can be very good. While I don’t want them reaching for defensive players, that side of the ball is still the area to build upon.

    Offensively, the Giants scored 30 or more points six times. The have a QB who is just hitting the cusp of his prime, playmakers at multiple positions, and very good line play. Mostly everyone is young. They are extremely deep at RB and TE (barring a trade of Shockey, a rumor that appears to be picking up steam).  I don’t really see a lot of weaknesses here that need to be addressed in this draft. Two areas I could see picks being spent on: offensive line and WR. With the former, you can never have enough big bodies and a pick here seems likely, perhaps even in the first round. With the latter, I can only see taking a WR if the player on the board is simply the best player available.

    Reese will have eight picks, including three in the sixth. I’ll have a recap a week after the draft. Good night, good drafting.

    Shock It To Me

    Thursday, April 17th, 2008

    The rumors that have been circulating for the last month involve Jeremy Shockey to the Saints for safety Roman Harper and their second round pick (40th overall). The trade on the surface appears to have some validity. Shockey had his greatest success under Saints HC Sean Payton when he called the plays in New York. Plus, for different reasons, Shockey is not the focal point of the Giants offense (in fact, he greatest contribution currently may be his blocking in the running game). And when you consider that the Giants most pressing need is at safety, the trade makes even more sense (Harper started every game for the Saints last season). However, in my opinion, the trade should be avoided by both teams, and here’s why.

    First, from the Giants perspective, Shockey is a proven commodity in the NFL. While he may not be the dynamic player he was early in his career, he still draws the attention of defenses and as mentioned above, really is a fine blocking TE.  Combined with the emerging Kevin Boss, the Giants have great depth at this position (something that proved invaluable last year). With Boss, Shockey’s role may not be that prominent anymore, but he can still be very effective.  Shockey doesn’t have to be the superstar TE, just a good TE. That old adage applies: less is more. Furthermore, Shockey is signed through 2012, making him even a more attractive asset. There are of course the well known negatives. Shockey is way too animated on the field, and frankly doesn’t back it up anymore. He doesn’t appear at times to be on the same page as Eli Manning (whose fault that is debatable, but it’s Shockey who doesn’t show for voluntary workouts). He still suffers from the occasional drop, and is constantly hampered by nagging injuries. I feel these negative, however, will be squelched due to the fact that this is now a football team, and it’s Eli’s team. That mark was stamped with the performance in the playoffs. Shockey will have little option but to follow marching orders.

    From the Saints perspective, this player and a high pick is too much to give up and why would you be willing to give up a young defensive player when your main weakness is on that side of the ball? Harper was a high draft choice in 2006 who has started every game when healthy (21 games total), putting up nice stats. There definitely appears to be more upside to Harper’s game. Would Shockey enhance their offense? Surely. But you’d have to wonder about the baggage mentioned above that he would bring. The Giants can minimize this because Kevin Boss can take some of the focus away. With the Saints, Shockey would be front and center, and you’d be giving up a second round pick for a player that you can make the argument for is on the decline. But a change of scenery could just be the tonic needed for Shockey.

    So is this truth or rumor? Would Jerry Reese really pull the trigger on this deal? Remember, Reese is playing with house money – he won the Super Bowl last year doing it his way. He rid the team of constantly injured players such as Pettigout, Emmons, and Arrington. Is Shockey next? Harper solves the safety issue, but immediately opens a hole at tight end, not a very strong position in this year’ draft. In all honestly, the trade makes more sense from the Giants perspective, as they’d be trading a player they don’t get max performance out of in return for more youth.  In the end, though, I’m biased. I like Shockey, despite all his faults and believe that the combination of him and Boss will be dynamite. If it were next year, I’d be more tempted to make the trade. We’ll see if it happens, but I hope Shock stays. But I am not Jerry Reese.

    Ward Back In Fold

    Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

    Giant fans got a pleasant surprise last Friday, as Derrick Ward was signed to a one year deal at a very reasonable $1 million dollars. I had pegged Ward as the least important free agent of the big three (Mitchell, Wilson, Ward) this offseason, considering the talent the Giants have in their offensive backfield. But getting him back, and at this price, can only be considered a plus. He knows the system, coaches, players, yada yada yada.

    Coming back to G-Men tells me the interest in Ward, initially embellished by his agent, wasn’t very high. His history of being injured, plus the broken leg this year certainly decreased his value. But in this age of high spending for even marginal players, I am surprised he couldn’t get a better deal somewhere else in terms of money and playing time. I definitely thought some team would pick him up as a number two back. His return to the Giants puts him third on the depth chart, behind Jacobs and Bradshaw.

    That, of course, can change. Jacobs must still prove he is durable enough to pound away for 16 games. Bradshaw, who I suspect may end up being the best of the bunch, still has a small sample size of games. Ward will get touches no doubt, but who knows how it all plays out. Remember, if Ward hadn’t gotten hurt last year, would we even know what we really had in Bradshaw? It’s a great problem to have, and when you throw in Reuben Droughns, the Giants easily have the deepest backfield in the NFL.