Friday, January 28, 2011
The biggest story surrounding the Giants lately is Plaxico Burress and whether they should bring him back or not. I was against this at first, but under the right circumstances, this could be one of the big acquisitions, both literally and figuratively. At 6'5", he presents a lot of matchup problems, since a lot of corners are just around 6 feet tall. Just as long as he's not the #1 wide receiver to start camp, the Giants should consider him.
One thing you can say about Burress is that he doesn't get pushed around very easily, just take a look at the 2008 NFC Championship game. He was getting pushed and hit nonstop by Nick Collins and Charles Woodson and what does he do? Not much, just 11 receptions for 151 yards. He also had the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLII, but you already knew that. If he's healthy, the Giants should give him a chance.
If for no other reason, the Giants should sign him just to give them confidence against the Eagles. When was the last time the Giants defeated the Eagles? That would be Week 10 in 2008, which was the last time the Giants had Burress against the Eagles. He only had one catch that game, but it was a touchdown. That's the thing about Plaxico Burress and the Eagles. You don't know how big of a game he's going to have against them, but you know he's going to burn them. It's very easy to forget how unstoppable the Giants were in 2008 with Burress. They were 11-1 with Burress and 1-4 (including the playoffs) without him. The Giants could've very easily won back to back Super Bowls had Burress not shot himself. How does that expression go? Something like 'Just don't shoot yourself in the foot'.
If the price is right, the Giants should bring back Burress. With Steve Smith coming off of arthroscopic knee surgery, the Giants could use all the depth they can get.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Much like a bullpen in baseball, you will never notice a football team's special teams unless it's among the best in the league or it's really bad. Unfortunately for the Giants' sake, this year's special teams was really bad. The coverage was bad, the punting was bad, the return game was bad, but the only thing that was positive this season was the field goal unit.
The most surprising thing about the Giants' special teams is the way the high field goal percentage of 82.6%. For the most part, Lawrence Tynes has never been a guy to have a high percentage, but he was known for his kick in the 2008 NFC Championship game. You might remember that he also missed two much easier potential game-winning field goals earlier in that game as well. After struggling in the beginning of the season with holder Matt Dodge, the Giants changed to Sage Rosenfels and Lawrence Tynes made virtually every kick since then. This was the only bright spot in the special teams this season.
The punting was one of the worst I have seen in a really long time. Of course, that's what happens when you get spoiled with Jeff Feagles the past 7 seasons. As a rookie punter, Matt Dodge showed a strong leg ranking 9th in punting average. However, the other numbers were not so pretty. Dodge also ranked 31st in net yards, was the only punter to allow 2 to be returned for touchdowns and ranked 24th in amount of punts landed inside the 20-yard line. For now, I'll give Matt Dodge a pass because he's a rookie, but if this continues next season, he has to go.
I can't blame all the punting problems on Matt Dodge this season. The coverage was awful. Even though Matt Dodge should not have punted the ball directly to DeSean Jackson, where was the coverage? As you might recall, he dropped the ball and the ball rolled several yards away. Even with that, no one was even close to catching up to him. Granted he's fast, but he's not THAT quick. No one is. This is a huge surprise, because the Giants have always been known to do these small things well. When teams cover punts well, no one noticed. When they don't, this is what happens.
This season, the Giants were the only team in the NFL to not have a return of any kind whether it's a fumble recovery, interception, punt or kickoff. That is very surprising considering the Giants led the league in 39 takeaways. You would think that one of those fumbles or interceptions would've been returned for a touchdown, even with all the problems they had in the special teams.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
There are a lot of people that feel that the Giants' secondary is the reason for them not playing in the 2011 playoffs. I am not among those people. Even though the biggest job of the secondary is to stop the big plays, most of the blame isn't on them for the amount of 20+ yard passes and rushes that the Giants gave up. By the time the running backs and receivers even got to the secondary, they already reached 20 yards anyway.
Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas might be the most underrated pair of cornerbacks in the league. Thomas led the Giants in tackles and many feel that he was one of the biggest snub for this year's Pro Bowl. They aren't shutdown corners, they're not Darelle Revis, but you will rarely hear "Pass interference on the defense..." when the Giants are on defense. In order for Big Blue's defensive line to be effective, their corners have to cover the wide receivers long enough for Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora to get to the quarterback. It doesn't matter if they have the best defensive line in the game (and they probably do), that all will not matter if the wide receivers are wide open.
Last offseason, the Giants signed Antrel Rolle to the highest salary ever for a safety. How did he award them? By putting up his 2nd Pro Bowl season. Rolle was everywhere this season, having 76 tackles on the year, getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback and defending a lot of passes. He wasn't the only quality safety for the Giants. Kenny Phillips had another quality season, but next season will probably be better as came off microscopic knee surgery due to arthritis, and many felt that his career would be over, but all the doubt was erased the 1st game when he intercepted a pass from Carolina's Matt Moore.
Friday, January 21, 2011
I didn't post my division round predictions, due to my horrendous 1-3 predictions in the Wild Card Round, I figure that I would stick to talking about the Giants. However, my predictions are back because of popular demand. By popular demand, I mean one of my closest friends got upset that I didn't post predictions last week. Anyway, here is how I see Championship Sunday going down.
Jets @ Steelers
In Week 12, the Jets beat the Steelers 22-17. Many call it luck, since they didn't have Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu. Speaking of safeties, Jason Taylor's tackle on Mewelde Moore in the end zone for two points, certainly helped seal the team by forcing Ben Roethlisberger to score a touchdown instead of settling for a field goal, since the Steelers were able to move the ball all the way to the Jets' 10 yard line, but were unable to punch it in. I'd also probably call it luck, but teams need a lot of luck to make it this far and the Jets have done a great job making their own luck this season. Of course, it's pretty simple to make your own luck with that defense.
By looking at the game against the Ravens, I'd say that the Steelers did not do a good job at preparation during the week. They fell behind very early, and were just barely able to recover. That's not a habit they want to fall into, falling 21-7 at half-time. If they keep doing that, it is sure to catch up with them quickly. That being said, they made the proper adjustments at half-time and found a way to limit the Ravens to just 3 points in the 3rd and 4th quarters. If they do that against the Jets, they will be difficult to beat.
By going by the numbers, the Jets have a strong defense, but the Steelers have a stronger one as they rank 1st in most defensive categories. This game favors the Steelers, but weren't the Patriots and Colts highly favored in the previous two games? I see the Jets barely coming out on top of this one, but the one thing I'll have to watch out for is the intensity. Last week seemed like the AFC Championship game for the Jets against the Patriots, but they need to keep it up for this week as well.
Prediction: Jets 16 Steelers 14
Packers @ Bears
Some people feel that the Packers are the best 6th seed of all-time. It's tough to argue with that one. How many 6th seeds have a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers and a defensive player like Clay Matthews? Brett Favre retires, so the Packers will spend decades trying to find a replacement much like the Dolphins with Marino and the 49ers with Young, right? Wrong! It took about a few minutes for the Packers to find their replacement. It might be a small sample size, but Aaron Rodgers has the highest career passer rating of all-time.
Sure, I would talk about Aaron Rodgers all day, but that would be disrespecting the NFC's top defense. It's not just about Clay Matthews and his 13.5 sacks or A.J. Hawk's 111 tackles. It's abut the conference's top defense with 11 defensive players on IR, including Nick Barnett, who has had over 100 tackles every year in which he has healthy.
It's hard to imagine the Bears being the #2 seed in the NFC while the Packers having the 6th seed when comparing the two teams. Aaron Rodgers in an elite quarterback, while Jay Cutler has been known to make quite a few mistakes (49 turnovers in the last two seasons) and gets sacked a lot (52). The Bears biggest strength is their defense, but Green Bay is stronger in that area. The Chicago Bears are not a bad team by any means, but the Packers seem to be stronger in almost all areas of the game, even though I see this game being decided by less than a touchdown. The Packers should come out on top of this one, but I expect the Bears to keep it close.
Prediction: Packers 27 Bears 21
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
With Steve Spagnuolo going to the Rams in 2008 and an ineffective Bill Sheridan in 2009, the Giants have had to search for defensive coordinators each of the last two seasons. With Perry Fewell finished interviewing for head coaching jobs that are no longer vacant, it's almost guaranteed that for the first time since the 2007 and 2008 seasons that the Giants will have the same defensive coordinator for two consecutive seasons.
Many people feel that "The Rooney Rule", where teams have to interview minorities for potential coaching candidates, strikes again. I understand that the NFL is trying to promote diversity, but this is ridiculous. Perry Fewell has interviewed for over 7 head coaching vacancies in the past several years, and hasn't gotten one consideration. I am glad he wasn't hired so the Giants don't have to go out and find another defensive coordinator, but don't waste his time.
Back to the man himself. I'm not sure what to make out of Perry Fewell. He turns the 30th ranked defense from 2009 and turns it into the 6th ranked a year later. That would seem like an incredible feat, but not for who the Giants have. Adding Antrel Rolle and having a healthy Kenny Phillips was going to add to the defense, and it seems that with that defensive line, the secondary only has to be decent. Perry Fewell did a good job of not getting too fancy, and let his players do the work. I don't know if he's a brillant defensive coordinator, but he does have the players to make him look good.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Besides being in the playoffs what do the Jets, Steelers, Packers and Bears have in common? They all have high quality line backers. Whether it's a Pro Bowler like Bart Scott, former defensive players of the years in James Harrison and Brian Urlacher, or perhaps who many feel is the 2010 Defensive player in Clay Matthews (myself included), these defenses are built around these guys. The Giants, on the other hand, not so much. They are still trying to replace Antonio Pierce, who's been analyzing on ESPN since he retired.
Many people blame the secondary for most of the big plays the Giants gave up this season. Granted, they look bad when that happens, but I'm not blaming the secondary for that. I'm placing most of the blame on the linebackers, because those plays never should've gotten to the corners and safeties. If Tuck, Umenyiora or anyone else on that defensive line didn't stop the running backs or wide receivers, we all know the line backers weren't going to. Just take a look at both Eagles games. In the 1st game LeSean McCoy had 14 rushes for 111 yards. By looking at that, you would say he had a great day, but he really didn't. Every play except for two they were stopped by the defensive line for at most 2 yards. Two plays, both late in the 4th quarter, McCoy had both a 45-yard run, and a 50-yard touchdown run. That should never happen to a team that ranks 6th in the NFL in total defense.
A cornerback should never lead a team in tackles. That simply should not happen, but it did. Not only did Terrell Thomas lead Big Blue in tackles this season, but 3 out of the top 4 players in the tackles category were in the secondary (Rolle, Phillips, Thomas), and only Michael Boley, who ranked 3rd, was in the top 5 out of all the linebackers. Compare that to the Chicago Bears, where not only is Brian Urlacher 1st on the team in tackles, but another linebacker Lance Briggs ranks 2nd. In other words, the linebackers for the Giants this year was just awful.
Now I don't know what the Giants have to do to improve here, but they have to do something whether it's give Clint Sintim a shot or draft one in the 1st round, because the kind of line backer they need, do not leave their team, because those kinds of players are too valuable to give up.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Watching the Jets win 28-21 against the Patriots certainly brings back memories. No I'm not talking about Super Bowl XLII or any of the playoff games themselves. I'm talking about the parties, the food and all the weight I gained that 5 week period of the 2007-2008 playoffs. People say they gain a lot of weight during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, but that is nothing compared to the weight that is gained when either your team or a friend's team goes deep into the playoffs.
In January of 2008, the Giants played in 4 games including the Super Bowl, and I watched each game in a different place. There was one thing that was constant: the food. Even though the kind of food varied, whether it was several 6-foot heroes, dozens of pizzas, buckets of wings, etc., the quantity of food never changed. It's a good thing that I started excercising again, because I might look like Rex Ryan soon if I didn't.
One thing is for certain. These parties are much more fun when your team isn't expected to go very far. Watching Yankee fans every year, they really don't enjoy the playoffs. Anything less than a World Series win is a disappointment, and that's the same thing for the Patriots. The Patriots went 14-2, so do their fans really enjoy the games even if they win? While it must be a fun regular season, it has to be nerve-racking throughout the playoffs. With the Giants a few years ago and now the Jets, the fans are enjoying the games, because they are not expected to win. So if they lose, who cares? They are having fun just watching football. That is why being a wild card team is so much fun.
Jets fans, get excited for Pittsburgh, because it's a lot of fun. Even though you played two great games the first two games, no one is expecting you to win much like in 2008 after the Giants beat the Buccaneers and Cowboys, no one expected Big Blue to beat the Packers. Remember Jets fans, it's all about having fun watching the game, and if you're lucky enough, maybe you'll win.
Even though I'm a Giants fan, I cannot wait for next week and I'm going to work very hard to lose the weight I will probably gain today. Wish me luck!
Friday, January 14, 2011
When you think of the Giants, the first thing that comes to mind is defensive linemen that can and will run through a brick wall in order to get to the quarterback. This season was no exception as all of their defensive line contributed for big plays as they ranked 2nd in the NFC with 46 sacks, which was just one behind the Green Bay Packers.
Even though Michael Strahan, who changed the way the offensive coordinators change their pass protection, retired, the Giants still have arguably the best defensive line in the NFL. We'll start with his protègé, Osi Umenyiora. After missing 2008 due to injury, he wasn't the same in 2009, thus many teams didn't take him seriously, which led to teams double-teaming Justin Tuck. While Tuck needs that kind of attention for an offense to be successful, it's not wise to ignore a former All-Pro defensive end no matter how poor he did the previous year. This led to an NFL-record 10 forced fumbles, including 7 in October to go along with 12 sacks, which was his highest total since 2007. Despite having a better year than both John Abraham and Julius Peppers, who were Pro Bowl selections, Umenyiora was left out. However, Osi can still make it if the Bears or Falcons make it to the Super Bowl. Given his great season, the offense still cannot afford to double team him, because the guy on the other end is just as dangerous.
A resurgent Umenyiora is the best thing that could've happened to Justin Tuck, since now teams cannot afford to double-team him. After only 6 sacks in 2009 due to a constant double-team, Tuck emerged for 11.5 sacks with 5 forced fumbles of his own, which allowed him to receive a 2nd Pro Bowl selection in the past 3 seasons. Much like Strahan mentored Umenyiora and how Umenyiora mentored Tuck, Justin Tuck has taken 2010 1st round pick Jason Pierre-Paul under his wing and he has made some big plays forcing two fumbles, deflecting 6 passes and recording 4.5 sacks. It's not just the defensive ends that did all the works. The tackles Chris Canty and Barry Cofield did a lot of the work in order for Tuck, Umenyiora and Pierre-Paul to have good sack totals.
Big Blue seems to have a revolving door at defensive end. It's not like there's a big turnover, but there's always quality there no matter who retires. The Giants haven't had to worry about that position for more than 20 years, and it looks like they won't have to for at least another 15. The defensive line, simply put, is the heart and soul of the New York Football Giants.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Sometimes, I get a feeling that it really doesn't matter who the running back is for the Giants, they will deliver. Over the last 6 years, the Giants have had a lot of rushers finish with 1,000+ yards in a season: Tiki Barber, Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward, Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. Even though the running backs have been different, the one thing that has been a constant is the offensive line.
Even with the injury to All-Pro center Shaun O'Hara, the Giants offensive line was still one of the best in the NFL. This season, Rich Seubert was the equivalent to baseball's utility infielder. It didn't matter where he played, whether it was guard, center or tackle, and he did exceptionally well when filling in for Shaun O'Hara. When he was filling in for O'Hara, who was in his spot? Both Shawn Andrews and Kevin Boothe filled in, and provided the Giants with much needed protection.
The tight end position was not a strength this season, at least when it came to catching the ball. The average tight end caught 65% of the passes thrown at them last season, while Kevin Boss only caught around 50%. While the catching wasn't all that great, Kevin Boss's run-blocking was excellent, as the Giants ranked 6th in the NFL in rushing.
The numbers don't lie. This season, Big Blue's offensive line ranked 1st in fewest sacks allowed (16), 3rd in fewest QB hits (52) and 6th in rushing yards (2,200). This might not have been the best offensive line in football, but it was very close to it, even though Shaun O'Hara played only 7 games.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Now that the college football season has been completed, many networks will start talking about the draft. There are few things about the National Football League that bother me more than "experts" grading the draft. They give teams bad grades based on one day, and they say what's going to happen in the future, and never admit when they are wrong. Remember in 2007, when the Giants were given grades of C+ and below? Some even graded the draft as a D, saying the only reason they didn't get an F was because of Steve Smith. this is why I hate NFL Draft coverage. Anyway, here's a look at the 2007 draftees from the New York Giants.
1st Round- CB Aaron Ross: While he hasn't turned out to be the great corner we thought he'd be, he still has made some big plays between the 2007 and 2008 seasons. After having 3 interceptions and a TD in each of his first two seasons, he seems to have fallen off the last two due to the emergence of Terrell Thomas. The Giants are going to try to see if he can still be the same return man he was at the University of Texas. While he isn't as good as we thought he was, he is not a bust by any means. Besides, he made some big plays in Super Bowl XLII, so this was a solid pick.
2nd Round- WR Steve Smith: After the Super Bowl, he was no longer known as the "other" Steve Smith. His solid game is overshadowed by Burress's game-winning TD and Tyree's famous catch, but he had several clutch 3rd down catches on the last drive to help them win. Add that along with the fact that he is the only Giants receiver ever with over 100 receptions, this is one of the better picks of the draft by any team.
3rd Round- DT Jay Alford: No longer on the team after injuries have slowed him down the last two seasons, but he is best known for his bone-crushing sack on Tom Brady at the final minute of the big game. While not the player the Giants thought he'd be, that's quite something to be known for.
4th Round- LB Zak DeOssie: Like his father Steve, he became a very quality long snapper. Zak was a Pro Bowl selection in 2008. Even though the Giants special teams is subject at best, you never see a bad snap.
5th Round- TE Kevin Boss: Like Steve Smith, he made some big plays in the Super Bowl. His solid play down the stretch allowed the Giants to trade Jeremy Shockey for a 2nd round pick. The Giants drafted linebacker Clint Sintim with that selection. He was on IR last season, but he has great potential and is intense, so I'd like to see what he can do in 2011. Anyway about Boss, many people thought his run-blocking was questionable when he went pro, but it has become far from it. The Giants consistently rank among the top rushing teams in the NFL, no matter who is running the ball.
6th Round- T Adam Koets: Just because someone is not a starter, it does not make it a bad selection. The Giants' offensive line has been known for its consistency and health, but this season that line suffered some injuries and Koets provided some quality play to give Eli Manning plenty of time in the pocket. He's provided some quality depth in the past few seasons.
7th Round- S Michael Johnson: Even though injuries slowed him down in 2010 and ended up on IR, he has made some big plays in the previous two seasons. It's tough to find help in the 7th round in the draft, but the Giants got two quality players there this round.
7th Round- RB Ahmad Bradshaw: While Ahmad struggled with fumbles in 2010, he still rushed for 1,235 yards. Even though he experienced his 1st 1,000-yard season, he wasn't non-existent in the Giants offense before that. In 2007, he had the longest run in the NFL, which was an 88-yard TD run in Week 16 against Buffalo, and he was also the Giants leading rusher in Super Bowl XLII. Not bad for a 7th round pick, huh?
Grade: A (Easily)
Moral of the story: Don't pay attention to draft grades, and some people owe Jerry Reese an apology.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
There have been talks about the Giants bringing back Plaxico Burress, and like most Giants fans, I am against it. Even though he was talented, helped Big Blue to a Super Bowl title, there seems to be no point. Why bring back someone that was fined a countless number of times, was a hassle to deal with, and demanded more money before shooting himself? I'm a believer of second chances. If Michael Vick got one, then Burress should certainly have one. However, he just isn't a good fit here, especially with the receiving core that the Giants have. This has a chance to be the greatest the Giants have ever had.
Like I said in an earlier post, Hakeem Nicks was on pace to have the best season ever for a Giants wide receiver. If he didn't break his toe and kept his current pace, Nicks was on pace for 97 receptions, 1,295 yards and 13 touchdowns. Big Blue certainly isn't known for their wide receivers, but they soon might be especially with a young wide-out like Nicks. This season, he showed what we've been missing in all these years. To put that in perspective, he's already 27th on the all-time franchise list with 1,842 yard in two seasons. If he stays on the Giants for a long period of time and stays on the field, he should be able to pass Amani Toomer, who didn't have his 1st 1,000 yard season until his 4th season, as the Giants leading receiver.
In 2009, the Giants passing game did just fine with Steve Smith as their number one wide receiver. Nicks emerged in 2010, which made their depth that much better. Off to a solid start in 2010, Steve Smith suffered a season-ending knee injury that required surgery, and the Giants suffered on 3rd down passing because of it. Smith only played 9 games due to the aforementioned injury and was on pace for 940 yards and 5 TD. There is nothing wrong with that for a 2nd wide receiver. While he doesn't have the skillset of Nicks or Manningham, he certainly has the best hands and instincts of all the team's receivers.
Speaking of Manningham, what a season he had as the Giants 2nd/3rd wide receiver. Take your pick who should be the #1, him or Nicks. Super Mario Manningham certainly proved that he has the skills to play as the go-to guy in the last 3 games. Even though Nicks played two of the last three games and scored 2 touchdowns, he was not at 100%, which made Manningham Manning's primary target. In the last 3 games, Mario had 16 receptions for 346 and 5 TD.
This season, the Giants had a skilled group of wide receivers that enabled Eli Manning to have his 2nd straight 4,000-yard season. However, there were between 7-12 balls that were deflected off receivers and into the defense for interceptions. That and injuries lowered the grade a bit, but this might be the best wide receiving core the Giants have ever had, and it would be difficult to find a better, young set of receivers in the National Football League.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
This position is one of the toughest to grade. Usually you look at yards, yards per carry and touchdowns and you have a good idea of how a running back or a set of backs did over the course of a season. For Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, it was not that simple. Unfortunately, there were other factors that have to be looked at to determine their performance as a whole.
First, let's look at the Giants featured back, Ahmad Bradshaw. This would be his first season as being the go-to guy. Not a bad debut as the starter running for 1,235 yards, which is good enough for 9th in the NFL and ran for 8 touchdowns. Usually that's a great year, especially since the yards are the 7th highest in franchise history, but the fact that Ahmad Bradshaw is one of the toughest runners, pound-for-pound in the NFL really hurt him. He just doesn't go down, and unfortunately, that leads to a large amount of fumbles, 7 of them to be exact. What hurts more about the fumbles is that 3 of them came when the Giants were in the red zone, and one of them came at their own 25 yard line giving their opponent (The Eagles to be exact) a very short field.
Unlike Bradshaw, it's very difficult to hide Brandon Jacobs when he comes onto the field, with all 6'4" and 264 pounds of him. Don't let that size fool you, he's a very skilled runner. After trying to be too fancy in 2009, averaging 3.7 yards a carry for only 835 yards on 224 touches, he went back to basics and exploded as the change-of-pace running back in 2010. Sometimes, it seems like he can just fall and he'll get 4 yards, which is why he should focus on going up and down the field, instead of side-stepping. Jacobs averaged 5.7 yards per rush on his way to 823 yards on just 147 carries with this philosophy. He also scored 9 touchdowns to go along with his impressive running. However, he did fumble the ball twice. That might not seem like a high total, but considering he only carried the ball 147 times, it's a big number.
So combined, the two-headed monster of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs carried the ball 423 times for 2058 yards, which is 4.9 yards per carry, while scoring 17 touchdowns. This would easily be good enough for a grade of an A, but the turnovers really hurt them this season. I'm not laying all the blame on the running backs, but they really need to cut those turnovers in half at the very least for 2011.
Friday, January 7, 2011
Jets @ Colts
This is probably going to be the most hard-fought game of the first round. The Jets have the 3rd ranked defense in the NFL and the Colts obviously have the top passing game in the NFL with Peyton Manning. The matchup that most people are looking at is Reggie Wayne and his 1,355 receiving yards against Darrelle Revis. This will sound odd, but the fact that Revis has 0 interceptions really shows how great he is. Everyone forgets about their top wide receiver when they face the Jets, because Darrelle just shuts them down. However, Peyton Manning has too many weapons, and Revis cannot cover them all. Just look at the tight end position. Dallas Clark goes down and their backup ends up with 600 yards receiving.
Prediction: Colts 20 Jets 17
Ravens @ Chiefs
I have no idea what is more surprising: The Chiefs have 10 wins or the best USC quarterback in the NFL is Matt Cassel. I think I owe Matt an apology. I never thought he would be as good when he left the Patriots. Matt, I'm sorry. Then again, having Dwayne Bowe and that running game certainly helps a lot. On the other hand, Joe Flacco has certainly surprised more than a fair share of his critics. However, his offensive line has certainly let him down as he's been sacked 40 times, which is the most for any quarterback. Ouch! Tamba Hali and his AFC-leading 14.5 sacks are going to have a field day. Call me crazy, but it is extremely difficult to win on the road at Arrowhead Stadium, and I see Baltimore's offensive line letting Flacco down again especially if Michael Oher can't play.
Prediction: Chiefs 24 Ravens 20
Packers @ Eagles
In Week 1, the Packers defeated the Eagles 27-20, but Vick was not the starter, Kevin Kolb was so this game could be very different, but probably won't be. Michael Vick was sacked 34 times in just 12 games, which is almost 3 per game. With his mobility, he should rarely be taken down for a sack. That tells me that the offensive line is just that, offensive as they've given up 50 for the year, which is ranked 31st in the NFL. The Packers are 1st in the NFC in both interceptions and sacks led by Clay Matthews's 13.5 sacks. Much like the Ravens, it is going to be very difficult to win with a terrible offensive line.
Prediction: Packers 31 Eagles 21
Saints @ Seahawks
I'm trying to think of how this game will not get very ugly very quickly, but I haven't thought of a reason yet. Drew Brees is going to be too much for the Seahawks, and the Saints have a much improved passing defense as well. The Seahawks rank 28th in passing while the Saints rank 3rd. Unfortunately for Seattle, I don't think Sean Payton will rest his starters after the 3rd quarter. He's going to want to send a message.
Prediction: Saints 42 Seahawks 10
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
A few days ago, the National Football League announced the 2011 schedule, that is if football is indeed going to be played next season. In a sense, the Giants will have 9 home games, as they will be the visiting team when they face the New York Jets. Big Blue has an interesting schedule in 2011. Besides their fellow NFC East teams, here are a list of opponents that the Giants will have to deal with next season.
I don't know what to make out of the schedule. On one hand, you have two of the top teams in the NFL in the New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots. The Jets and Packers are great teams, and should never be taken lightly. However, there are some pretty weak teams too. The whole NFC West shouldn't be difficult at all and the bottom of the AFC East is favorable towards the Giants.
If the NFL completes a new collective bargaining agreement, this should make for an interesting season. The Giants will be facing arguably the 3 best quarterbacks in the NFL with Rodgers, Brees and Brady. Let's hope they can do something about their linebacker problems before the season starts.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Before I start reviewing his 2010 season, let me first wish Eli Manning a happy birthday, who just turned 30 years old on Monday.
If you ask New York, they will tell you that Eli Manning had a bad year, because of his league-leading 25 interceptions. True that is something that you don't want to lead the league in, but the Giants wide receivers had so many passes tipped off them and into the arms of the defensive backs. He could've easily had 10 or more less interceptions. If you ask every other part of the country, they will tell you that Eli Manning had a very good year. In New York, people tend to judge players before they perform, which is the only reason I can think of why there is so much pomp and circumstance for Mark Sanchez and his career 70.2 passer rating, but this is a Giants blog, not a Jets one so I will just move on.
The worst thing that could possibly happen to Eli Manning is when the Yankees won the World Series in 2009, because now Alex Rodriguez is no longer the most scrutinized athlete in New York City. Unfortunately, Manning has that honor. This year, Eli Manning passed for 31 Touchdowns, which was the most a Giants quarterback has thrown since 1963 and he also had his 2nd consecutive 4,000 yard season, which is a 1st in Giants history. In regards to the NFL, Manning ranked 5th in passing yards (4,002), 4th in TD (31), 1st in longest TD Pass (92) and 6th in passer rating among quarterbacks with 500 or more attempts (85.3). Granted that only 9 quarterbacks in the NFL had 500 attempts, but that just goes to show how much confidence Kevin Gilbride and the rest of the Giants staff has in Manning.
That being said, quarterbacks are judged on two things: Wins and Losses. This year, he did go 10-6, which anyone would take. However, he failed to make the playoffs for the 2nd straight season. Even though he did not make the playoffs, it's very difficult to ignore his 4,002 passing yards and 31 touchdowns.
Monday, January 3, 2011
After the Green Bay Packers defeated the Chicago Bears, the Giants' playoff hopes disappeared and they have to wait until next season after a 2nd straight disappointing season. Here is a list of the top 10 things or bottom 10 (however you want to look at it) of what went wrong this season.
10. Steve Smith suffers season-ending knee injury: I never like blaming injuries for a reason a team didn't make the playoffs, which is why this is at the bottom of the list, however you can argue that the Giants have the 2nd spot in the NFC with a healthy Steve Smith. It is not a coincidence that the Giants struggled more on 3rd downs this season than the previous two seasons. Steve Smith led the NFL in 3rd down receptions in both 2008 and 2009. He's not the biggest or fastest receiver out there, but it's tough to find one that runs better routes or one with his hands. Project his numbers over a full season and that's 940 yards with 5 TDs. You'll take that out of your 2nd wide receiver every single season.
9. Hakeem Nicks breaks his toe: You could argue, and you'd probably be right, that Nicks would've had the best season ever by a Giants receiver if he was healthy. When you miss 3 games and you still have over 1,000 yards receiving and 11 TDs, you know you're doing something special. Project his stats over a full season and you get 97 receptions with 1,295 yards and 13 TD. The receptions and receiving yards would each be 2nd on the all-time franchise list with the touchdowns being tied for first. It would be very difficult to argue that point.
8. The Giants play on the East Coast: Can you imagine if the Giants played in the NFC West? They wouldn't just win the division by 3 games, their record could easily be 12-4 or 13-3 when facing the the Rams, Seahwaks, Cardinals and 49ers each twice. If the Giants beat the Seahawks at Seattle 41-7 in week 9, I'd hate to see how ugly things would get if they were to face the 49ers and Cardinals at home.
7. The Eagles: I'm not just talking about the late-season collapse, I'm talking about as a whole. For some bizarre reason, Big Blue cannot beat the Eagles. They haven't won since their first meeting in 2008, which was a 36-31 victory in week 10. This is very surprising considering that the Giants are better at almost every single position except for QB and linebacker.
6. Week 3 against the Titans: This seemed like such a harmless game at the time. It's only week 3, but you have to beat the teams you're supposed to beat at any time in the season. How do you let a team beat you 29-10 when you outgain them by 200 yards? It's simple. When you have a turnover margin of -3 for a game, it really doesn't matter if you outgain them by 400, you're still probably not going to win. Of course, 11 penalties for 86 yards certainly didn't help their chances either. Unfortunately, this game set the tone for how the rest of the season.
5. Tipped Passes: This is probably the biggest reason why there were so many turnovers last year. During the season, there were at least 10 balls that bounced off wide receivers that resulted in interceptions. Too much blame always falls on Eli Manning, because he's the quarterback in New York, but there is blame all around for this one. I doubt that this trend will continue next season, and if the large amount of tipped passes does not continue, then we could see the best season ever by a Giants quarterback next season with the WRs he has at his disposal. If not, we'll see the same result: Just missing the playoffs.
4. Injuries to the offensive line: Tom Brady only threw 4 interceptions this year. In 2008, Eli Manning only threw 10 interceptions. Why? Both quarterbacks had enough time to check their email, call their girlfriends and make dinner reservations before they threw a pass. I don't care who you are, but if you lose a guy like All-Pro center Shaun O'Hara for an extended period of time, your offense is not going to nearly be as effective.
3. Punting: If you're reading this and you see punting being ranked 3rd as the thing that went wrong this season you either think I'm crazy, a student of the game or realize that I'm a Giants fan. I may not be crazy (some would argue that point), but I have been watching the Giants for awhile. Over the last few seasons, the Giants have gotten spoiled with the lost art of the directional punting of Jeff Feagles. No one did it better in the history of the game. No one had more punts within the 20 yard line than Feagles. Matt Dodge simply was awful this year at directional punting. I'm not going to lay all the blame on him, because the punt coverages were probably just as terrible, if not worse. I'm willing to give Dodge a pass, since it's his rookie season and he has a strong leg, but if this continues next season, Tom Coughlin will turn a color that no one has ever seen before.
2. Turnovers within your own territory: Turnovers will kill any team, but it will destroy a team even more when you are close to your own endzone. Take the first game against the Eagles for instance. Assante Samuel intercepts Eli Manning when the Giants are within their own 30 yard line. That gives Michael Vick a short field and easily scores a touchdown. The reason why this is not number one is because most of the time, the Giants defense has been good enough to hold the other team to a field goal, sack them out of field goal range or even force a fumble when this happens, but it will still kill a team and its momentum for the game and possibly for the season.
1. Turnovers within field goal range: Nothing will hurt a team more when you turn the ball over when you're well within striking range. Remember Bryan McCann's 101 yard interception returned for a touchdown? That one play is basically a 14-point turnaround. Take that play out and the Giants are victorious and they have the 2nd seed in the playoffs. How many times has Ahmad Bradshaw fumbled in the red zone this season? I'm too afraid to look, but I know it's at least 3. At the very least that's 9 points left for the taking, but realistically it's probably 17.
Simply put, the Giants need to cut their turnovers in half and keep their team relatively healthy in the 2011 season.
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Before I start, let me wish everyone a Happy New Year. Now, let's talk about the injury report.
Justin Tuck: Probable (Chest)
DE Dave Tollefson: Out (Knee)
DE Osi Umenyiora: Probable (Knee)
CB Will Blackmon: Out (Knee)
S Brian Jackson: Questionable (Knee)
C Shaun O'Hara: Out (Foot/Achilles)
CB Corey Webster: Questionable (Ribs)
RB Ahmad Bradshaw: Probable (Ankle)
DT Chris Canty: Questionable (Neck)
WR Hakeem Nicks: Out (Toe)
S Antrel Rolle: Probable (Ankle)
Obviously the two biggest injuries for the week besides Steve Smith, who's out for the year, are Shaun O'Hara and Hakeem Nicks. Chris Snee will likely move back to center for the game, and it's unsure if Shaun O'Hara will return for the playoffs if they make it, as he's contemplating off-season ankle surgery. Eli Manning will certainly miss Hakeem Nicks, who has 11 TD on 1,052 yards receiving in just 13 games. I would expect the Giants to try and get Kevin Boss involved early and often in the passing game. With a touchdown in 3 of his last 4 games, he might be Manning's number one target without his top two wide receivers. Mario Manningham will likely be double teamed all night, so it might be tough to get him involved. However, I would not be surprised to see Derek Hagan have another solid game against Washington.
Even though Chris Canty is listed as questionable, I would expect him to play, since he practiced fully on Friday. In case he can't go, that should give Jason Pierre-Paul, whose 3rd among NFL rookies in sacks with 4.5, more opportunities. I'm not so optimistic about Corey Webster, because he didn't practice all week, but he did say that he thinks he'll be able to play.
The Giants may be battered and bruised going into a must-win week 17, but at least their biggest strengths (running backs and defensive line) are mostly all in tact.