Introducing the first NYGMen mailbag. I encourage all of you to write with your opinions and questions. In the meantime, enjoy the bye week – it couldn’t have come at a better time. 

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Flume writes:

Eh, like I said before, what Shockey said wasn’t the huge deal that everyone has made it. And he did Coughlin a favor by becoming the scapegoat for Sunday. The real problem is that Coughlin’s disciplinary style only works when the team wins. All the yelling and cursing doesn’t work for a team that sucks. The question I would like answered is why Shockey has been relegated to a blocking tight end? I mean it seems like this guy has totally been taken out of the equation. Greg, your thoughts?

Flume:

I don’t really agree with your assessment that Shockey has been relegated to a blocking tight end. There was a lot made of Shockey’s dissatisfaction with the offense back in 2004 when Coughlin first came aboard, and this might still lead to the perception that Shockey’s game is being shackled. But last year, Shockey had probably the best receiving year of his career. Although he had 891 yards compared to 894 in his rookie year (which was his second best year), he had 7 touchdowns last year compared to 2, and averaged 13.7 yards per catch compared to 12.1.

Also, Shockey was thrown to 122 times last year, second among NFL Tight Ends only to Antonio Gates, for whom the Chargers design their passing-game around because they don’t have as good wide receivers as the G-Men. So if Shockey isn’t a pass catching tight end, then who is?

Shockey’s gotten off to a bit of a slow start, but not really. His 11 catches put him on pace for 58 (last year he had 65), and his 134 yards put him on pace for 715. That’s after three games only, so it’s not as if Shockey’s that far from his career norms that alarm bells should be sounded.

Furthermore, if there’s one thing that’s going well for the Giants, it’s their passing game. FootballOutsiders’ DVOA rankings has the Giants ranked 6th in the NFL with a 22.2% DVOA. Eli Manning has the 7th highest quarterback ranking in the league. If there’s a problem with the passing game, it’s that Eli’s gotten sacked 9 times in 3 games – The Giants are tied with four other teams in this category and ahead of six others. Plus, eight of those sacks came in the Philly game.

What’s weird about Shockey’s season so far is that he’s been completely invisible in the first half of games. Only one of his eleven catches have been in the first half.

 

Rockwell writes:

Why do you think Washington let Arrington go? Many of the same criticisms were leveled against him in DC, although he could still come up with a game-changing play or a jarring hit. He’s a gamble definitely. Certainly, he’s not the same as he was before the injuries.

Rockwell:

You asked me a question about why the ‘Skins let Arrington go, but before I get to that, I have a question for you: All I want is to be left alone in my average home. So why do I always feel like I’m in the twilight zone?

Now, onto LaVar. Yes, definitely a huge gamble. I saw him on Inside the NFL on Wednesday, and I was pretty confounded by some of the stuff he was saying. He pretty much chalked up his dissatisfaction with the Redskins the past few years to a dysfunctional scheme, and painted this really rosey picture of playing for the Giants, as if going from Washington to New York was like going from night to day. The only problem is that the Redskins defense has been really good the past few years, while the Giants D is absolutely horrendous this year – it’s more like LaVar’s going from day to night. It didn’t make much sense.

Nevertheless, I still refuse to believe that the guy is completely washed-up, as some people would have you believe. There are enough reasons to explain his lack of impact plays to this point so that it would be unfair to write him off: He’s in a new scheme, he didn’t work out much in preseason, and we’ve been playing good offenses. I know Giants fans are the last people that want to hear this, but it’s early yet. It’s not unreasonable to hope that he can still be a big contributor.

 

Bob writes:

There is a serious issue with the lack of pressure from the defensive line and I agree with your comments about the defensive coaching. There was also a serious problem with the offensive line. Special teams have also disappointed (and I am concerned about Feeley whose kicks all seem to curve left (even on extra points)). All of which leads one to wonder about the quality of the overall coaching before a big game–Carolina comes to mind, except this is a healthier and better team. The team was flat for over three quarters and there is no excuse for that.

Bob:

Agreed completely. Even the Colts game involved us digging a hole for ourselves that we didn’t really have time to dig out of. If you count that, it makes four straight games that the Giants have come out flat. Unacceptable.

It’s tough to explain the Giants early-game shittiness. “Flat” is a word that is frequently used, but I’m not sure this really captures it. “Flat” implies a lack of effort, but I don’t think the Giants awful play is for lack of effort. If anything, it looks like they’re too tight, like they’re thinking too much, and only when they relax and settle into the game are they capable of doing anything.

That’s why I think we should go to the no-huddle more often. This offense is so talented that it is capable of getting into rhythms where it’s unstoppable. Really, the only thing that can stop the Giants O is itself. With a no-huddle, we can capitalize on our rhythms and convert them into points. It would address what I see as a general underachieving offense.

Re: Feely: You wrote this after the Philly game, but you had to like him drilling that 47-yarder against the Seahawks. Of course it was completely insignificant, but can you imagine how bad it would have been if he missed that one? In it’s own way, it was a clutch field goal.

 

Dan writes:

Coaching is certainly a question mark in light of many things, most critically on defense and the team’s utter lack of discipline. Frankly, I hold the defense responsible for the team-wide nap that was taken during the first three quarters of the game. It is no secret that our offensive line is a (if not the most) critical element to the Giants’ success this season. In fact, this has held true every season and I think this is a common factor for most every other team in the NFL. It is also no secret that our offensive line has the capability of being erratic, undisciplined, injured or just plain shitty, especially when the pressure is on.

With all of this said, our defense is far too good (at least on paper) to perform the way that have over the last two weeks. While our offense came out with a very strong first drive, our defense (who I think needs to serve as the emotional anchor of our team–a classic Giants’ trait) didn’t come out at all, allowing the Eagles to walk all over them. Unfortunately, our offense is psychologically fragile enough that an inexcusably piss-poor performance on the part of defense can derail everything. The defense deflated our offense.

Dan:

I think you were a little harsh on the offensive line. Granted, it was horrible against Philly, but it was pretty decent for the other two games. The offense played well in the Colts game, and the problem in the Seahawks game was 1) the defense; and 2) the turnovers, which didn’t really have anything to do with the O-Line.

And last year, the O-Line was actually very good. The Giants ranked 8th in the NFL in Adjusted Sack Rate, the FootballOutsiders stat that measures sacks per pass play, and adjusts for opponent. That’s with Eli, a young, not especially mobile quarterback at the helm. (Not to mention the O-Line has Tiki’s 1,860 yard year to its credit. Granted, many of Tiki’s yards come out in space, away from the line, but a line that blocked for the best rushing season in team history can’t be that bad.)

Your point about our offense being psychologically fragile is well-taken. It always seems like we’re tripping over ourselves on O, and that we’re always struggling to get into a rhythm that will allow us to unleash the awesome talent that we have. Of course, if the defense continues to stink up the joint, and we can’t stop committing stupid penalties, it’s a moot point.