September 2006

  • It’s official: The Hefty Lefty is the backup QB. Check out this bureaucratic quote by Coughlin: “He got into some circumstances allowing him to be in some situations that a lot of guys don’t get in throughout the course of his play time during the preseason, and he handled them well.”
  • Big game, writes Mike Garafolo. He compares this opener to the Sunday night opener against Philly in 1990, when we handled a Philly team with high expectations and sprinted off to a 10-0 start. Obviously, we don’t want to lose this one and have the Eagles and the Seahawks coming up.
  • Newsday’s NFC rankings, kind of in a college football style 1-16 list. The Giants pull in at #3 behind Carolina and Seattle (Bold pick, Newsday.) The Cowboys and Eagles are right behind at 4 and 5, and the Redskins (who were by far the best team in the division at the end of last year) pull in at 9.
  • Arthur Staple on Tim Carter and the number 3 receiver role in general. Interestingly, Carter said that Joey Galloway is a guy that he likes to model himself after. That’s a pretty good call. Staple writes that the Colts’ Brandon Stokely is the best third receiver in the game – just ask Jason Sehorn.
  • Great piece by Staple on Antonio Pierce, who, he says, just might be the most indispensable Giant. Pierce is an incredibly smart player; they say he sees the game through a coach’s eyes. Here’s Tim Lewis on him: “Any kid that sits and watches film on his own, coaches usually say, ‘He’s a student of the game.’ But [Pierce] is weird now. He’s different. He watches it through a coach’s eye, as if he’s calling the game.”
  • A position-by-position look at the Giants, via Newsday. Rather flattering and nothing that you didn’t already know before.
  • Staple on the defensive end situation. Also, a random Q & A in which he says that Shockey is actually the most underrated(ITAL) Giant. It’s a good point – the guy was really awesome last year, and might make another leap this year to become one of the biggest pass-catching threats in the league. Staple also writes that a 3-3 start wouldn’t be disastrous, at all.
  • Everyone’s healthy (except for Derrick Ward), writes Ernie Palladino. Couldn’t have come a moment sooner. He also talks about the preparation of Barry Cofield for his first start in the NFL – tough opponent.
  • So do Paul Schwartz, and John Branch.
  • Plax is motivated to become an elite receiver this year, writes Vinny DiTrani. On his on-field rapport with Eli, Plax says: “We did hit-or-miss a lot last year and hopefully we can minimize that number this year so we can make plays on the football field.” Eli’s rapport with Plax: yet another thing about this year’s version of the Giants that we can reasonably expect to improve over last year.
  • John Altavilla on Colonel Tom’s super-serious attitude. Colonel Tom claims that he doesn’t have a big ego, and that he just has a firm set of expectations that he believes in and expects to be met. Altavilla says that “the Giants Coach, with all his regulations and regimentation, just might be the most egotistical guy in the whole organization.” Interesting question.
  • The Daily News football preview, with articles on Eli, Tiki, the ridiculously tough NFC East, the Giants O, and the Hefty Lefty.
  • Ralph Vacchiano’s preseason AFC picks.
  • FootballOutsiders’ preseason power rankings, which have the Giants…13. The Eagles are 9, the Redskins are 12, and the Cowboys are 18.
  • John Clayton on the Giants tough schedule.
  • Michael David Smith with a terrific article on Eli Manning. I’d love to talk about this in more depth, but I have to go to work in a matter of minutes. I suggest you read it though.
  • FootballOutsiders is not exactly bullish on the Giants, picking them to go 7-9 to finish in last place. They have the Eagles finishing first at 10-6, then the Skins at 9-7, then the Cowboys at 8-8, and then the G-Men. Here’s their entire NFL preview.
  • What can you say? These guys love making these types medium-risk, very high-reward picks. With the Giants schedule as difficult as it is, even the most optimistic Giants fan would be hard pressed to see them do much better than 11-5, so that if FO is as wrong at it possibly can be, its 7-9 pick still won’t be a complete embarrassment. Should the Giants stumble, even to 9-7 (which isn’t that unlikely), FO will look look good. And should the Giants really stumble to 7-9, the FO guys look like geniuses for picking a first-place team to finish in the cellar.
  • Really what these picks say is that between four strong teams, the schedule and a few bounces are going to make the difference. I don’t think any fan of any of these teams would dispute that.
  • Let’s take a look at their strength of schedule projections, based on FO’s projections for each team. The Giants, according to this measurement, have the 4th hardest schedule in the NFL, with their opponents having a projected DVOA of 4.5%. The rest of the division is as follows:
  • Cowboys: 0.5% (16th)
  • Redskins: -2.2% (21st)
  • Eagles: -2.4% (23rd)
  • So of these four pretty even teams, they have the team that finished in last place finishing first this year, and the team that finished in first finishing last. Such a scenario is not that outside the realm of possibility, considering the schedules, and should it happen, they get to put it on their advertisements next year. Of all divisions, their predicted NFC East worst-to-first switcharoo is by far the most likely.
  • But of these teams, I feel that only the Giants have the potential for greatness. The rest of these teams are all solid, but if things break right for the Giants, they’re right up there with the Colts, Steelers, and Patriots. I don’t feel that way about these other teams.
  • Excellent review of the Giants-Pats game from the Giants 101 guys. Jacobs was obviously the big story. Read the comments: everybody is excited about this guy. I take issue with one of David Syvertsen’s points about Jacobs though. He writes: “He struggles on the stretch runs where he has to run outside the tackle and make a cut on his fourth or fifth step.” Granted, his best runs last night were of the straight-downhill variety, but I think Jacobs has good potential on stretch plays as well. Reading and timing stretch plays is a matter of experience, and I think Jacobs will assert himself as a savvy and instinctive runner as he accumulates more experience.
  • David also makes the point that Eli wasn’t looking downfield that much last night, which he thinks is a good thing. Nice observation, and I agree. It seems like the Giants are making a concerted effort to improve on Eli’s 53% completion percentage. Overall in the preseason, Eli completed 63% of his passes for 296 yards, good (or not so good) for 6.4 yards per attempt. Although these stats are dragged down by Eli’s bad game three against the Jets, they show that he’s starting to look short, which is a welcome change to the Giants approach.
  • David also points out that Fred Robbins had a nice game, though Barry Cofield was inconsistent. And then he marvels at Kiwanuka’s athleticism. Mathias made two incredibly athletic plays last night, leaping and tipping a pass to himself for an interception and then dropping into pass coverage as a linebacker and making a great open-field tackle on the running back. The guy has a ton of potential.
  • Check out the YouTube highlights of the game, 4 minutes of Jacobs and Kiwanuka domination.
  • Ernie Palladino on the media frenzy that promises to engulf Eli as the Manning Bowl approaches. Also, although Sinorice Moss is itching to get on the field, it will be hard for him playing catch-up now that training camp is over and reps are at a premium.
  • Also in Palladino’s article, O’Hara, Petitgout, and Seubert are expected to practice in full on Monday. Not a moment too soon.
  • Moss is returning to practice on Tuesday, writes Ralph Vacchiano.
  • Palladino points out that the jury is still out on LaVar’s health. Despite Mr. Nickles’ repeated assertions that he’s perfectly fine, we’ll feel much more comfortable if we see it. The swelling in his knee is something that will have to be monitored all season though.
  • Paul Schwartz on LaVar. Pretty much the same article as Palladino’s (there are a couple of similar stories in other papers today), but it’s worth clicking on for the photo. Let’s hope that Bill Simmons puts a performance of LaVar against the Redskins on his vengeance scale this year. Also in the article, the quote of the day, via Plaxico, about heading home to Virginia for some R&R: “I need to go to the country and relax and stare at a little deer, maybe pull my shotgun out.”
  • Mike Garafolo’s take on the Giants-Pats game.
  • No news is good news for Michael Jennings, who will be cruising around Manhattan today in his beloved Chevy Caprice hoping to not get a phone call that will tell him he’s been cut. It seems like everyone out there wants this guy to make the team, although once the season starts, either way, the fifteen minutes of fame that he’s had this camp will be over. Here’s a YouTube clip of his punt return for a touchdown against the Ravens. (By the way, the new NFL Collective Bargaining Improvement has extended the maximum years of practice squad eligibility from two to three, meaning Jennings can stay a Giant if he doesn’t make the 53-man roster.)
  • Speaking of cuts, leave it to Mike G to get the first scoop. Charlie Peprah (5th round pick!), Quentin Harris, and Darcy Johnson are each “one of the deceased,” to quote Willie Mays Hays. Kevin Dockery, a rookie free agent out of Mississippi State, has been informed that he made the squad.
  • In a non-Giants item, Charles Rogers, the #2 overall draft pick in 2003, has been cut by the Lions, joining the pantheon of all-time biggest busts. I saw him play in person when he was at Michigan State – I would have never imagined.
  • Also a non-Giants item: Have you taken a look at this Carolina Panthers steroids story? It’s a pretty big deal, and it’s all confirmed to be true.
  • On the heels of the story of Keith Hamilton beating his son, here’s another sad off-the-field episode from a former likable Giant. Dave Meggett has been arrested for rape for the third time in the last decade. As much as I loved him as a Giant, that little Meggett doesn’t seem like the best guy. Good comments by Dan Benton.

Click here for the Brandon Jacobs and Mathias Kiwanuka show.  Enjoy.

A perfect preseason for the G-Men. As everyone reading this blog will have surely heard by now, the last time this happened was in 1990. Some observations on last night:

–Brandon Jacobs was the big story, rushing for 130 yards on 15 carries, including a 57 yard touchdown run where he decisively cut through a seam, made a nifty move to avoid the oncoming safety, and was gone. Even if you take away the 57 yarder, Jacobs’ night still looks good: 73 yards on 14 carries for an average of 5.2 yards.

I was glad that Colonel Tom left him in and let him accumulate some confidence. A guy like Jacobs needs to run decisively if he is going to be effective – if he is tentative and not running at full-speed, he presents an easy target to defenders, regardless of how big he is.

Of course he’s powerful, but not in a Mike Alstott, low-gear, drive-the-pile type of way. Because he runs high, he needs a head of steam for his power to take effect, so his confidence and timing for hitting holes becomes very important.

But when his timing is on, and he’s hitting the holes with authority… he’s pretty hard to stop. He also did a really nice job catching balls out of the backfield. Hopefully, a performance like last night’s will put to rest the practice of pigeonholing Jacobs as a short-yardage/goal line guy, which just might be the worst part of his game.

–In limited action, Eli looked very good, going 4/5 for 35 yards. Carl Banks pointed out a nice check-down that he made to hit Jacobs in the flat, a good sign.

–The Hefty Lefty solidified his status as the backup quarterback, which every Giants fan has to be happy about. Who in the world hasn’t liked this guy since he was wearing #22 at Kentucky? Everything looks good with Lorenzen except for one thing: his touch. He threw a pretty awful timing route to Tim Carter on a third down play from the eleven yard line, and has made some other bad throws (like when he missed a wide open Darcy Johnson against the Jets) when a little finesse was all it took. Maybe it’s just nerves. At any rate, congratulations to the Hefty Lefty for winning the job.

–How good a preseason has Justin Tuck had? The guy is everywhere. I don’t know if Carl Banks misspoke or was just under the complete wrong impression, but he mentioned that Tuck was always known as a guy who could stop the run but wasn’t much of a pass rusher. Actually, the opposite is true, but he did a really good job last night stopping the run. With the emergence of Kiwanuka, it’s easy to overlook Tuck, but this guy is awesome.

–Jonas Seawright, who went from one of the most-discussed players to least-discussed players, played well at the backup nose last night. The guy is huge and strong, and should be able to hold his ground.

–The first unit pass D didn’t look so good, letting Matt Cassel look like Tom Brady. I didn’t really pick up so much on why this happened, and obviously, the sample size was small.

–And obviously, with the second up-the-middle block in as many games, the field goal and punting teams are a concern. I don’t know what the personnel was like on these plays and if it bears any resemblance to the personnel on our regular special-teams units, but this can’t happen. The Giants special teams were excellent last year (2nd in the NFL with a 4.4% DVOA), and they need to remain good if we are going to remain at the top of our extremely difficult division.

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