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Archive for October, 2004

Tom Coughlin assessed

Sunday, October 31st, 2004

An interesting article in the New York Times by Lynn Zisner got me thinking about Coughlin’s impact on the Giants.

1. I like his coaching style. By all accounts he is very strict but he explains the reasons behind his rules. Players aren’t left wondering “why is he doing that?”

2. The jury is still out on his ability to prepare the Giants to win. After four straight wins, fans were praising Coughlin for getting more consistent play out of the Gaints than Fassel had been. After the Giants took a step back against Detroit, they have something to prove. Coughlin has to show us that he can get this team ready to play every week.

3. Play-calling has to improve. I’ve even heard some fans comparing Coughlin’s offense to Fassel’s – Fassel won that comparison. Fans complain that the Giants don’t go deep, don’t use their receiving weapons, are unimaginative in the red zone.

I should start by saying that the Giants did attempt two long balls against the Lions. Both were near misses. You can blame Warner for being a few inches off. You can blame Shockey and Toomer for not going the extra inch, or you can chalk it up to bad luck. The risky play calling is there. It’s just not working.

As for Toomer and Hilliard, I also wonder where they’ve been. It seems that sometimes Warner misses an open receiver, but more often it seems that the Giants receivers aren’t doing a great job getting open. Much of the blame for this can be placed on Toomer and Hilliard, but Coughlin’s job is to get them in a position where they can be open. Coughlin needs to do better, but improved play from the receivers would go a long way…

My biggest criticism of Coughlin is his short yardage play calling. The Giants offensive line can’t move an 8 man front. They always seem to end up going backwards. Finn can’t push the pile. Dayne can’t push the pile or get outside. The other real problem is that opponents always know what’s coming. How many times have you seen Dayne come in on short yardage? How many times did the Giants run him? Can we please try something else? If your opponent knows what you’re going to do and you’re not very good at it, you fail.

Conclusion: All in all, Coughlin has done well preparing the Giants 2/3 of the time, meaning he’s gotten them to play well 4 out of 6 games (I count the Redskins game as playing well but the offense really shouldn’t be included). In school 67% is not too good. In the NFL you could be talking playoffs. However, Giants fans can’t seriously talk about playoffs until they score in the red zone (Coughlin’s job is to find some answers but he hasn’t) and stop opponents in the red zone (the Giants defense has to play like they did against Green Bay week in and week out).

So far Coughlin gets a passing grade, a ‘C’. Giants football is interesting again. He doesn’t get an ‘A’ or a ‘B’ because he has been making mistakes (and not learning from them – see Dayne’s short yardage adventures) and hasn’t gotten the Giants to play their best football consistently.

Giants vs. Vikings analysis

Sunday, October 31st, 2004

In Minnesota, they worry about Tiki Barber, Amani Toomer, and Ike Hilliard. Toomer and Hilliard are labeled “Viking-killers”. However Kevin Seifert predicts a 24-17 Vikings win. He notes that the Giants haven’t been able to stop the run (although that really applies to the last two games against the Cowboys and the Lions – and the first game against Philadelphia).

Vikings fans must be liking their offensive line against the Giants defensive line. Still if we stopped Green behind an excellent Packers line, we have a chance to do something in Minnesota. We also have a chance to get pushed around worse than we did against Detroit.

Giants fans, are worried. Eric from BBI expects fans to be clamoring for Eli by 4:00 Sunday. He notes that the Vikings corners match up well against Toomer and Hilliard and notes that Toomer and Hilliard have not been playing well lately.

There are tons of Randy Moss articles floating around. One from Neil Best has some interesting quotes from Gibril Wilson and the Wills. I worry that the Giants will continue to yield in the red zone (I’m talking about defense here though the offense seems to sputter too) because with Moss at 6’4″ and Marcus Washington at 6’3″, Culpepper has plenty of big targets.

Giants defense vs. Vikings offense

Friday, October 29th, 2004

I wrote about how the Ginats offense would need to find some success. The reason why is because of Minnesota’s offense. For one, Mike Garafolo argues that the Vikings running game can be more dangerous than their passing attack. Garafolo credits the Vikings excellent offensive line. I can’t predict waht’s going to happen. The Giants played well against Green Bay’s excellent offensive line, but came up short against the less heralded Detroit Lions offensive line. I’m anxious to see which defense shows up Sunday to play the Vikings. It should be the defense with Fred Robbins which is good news. Strahan also thinks you stop the run first.

Barret Green will be on the field, but will see limited action. Ernie Palladino Green has been making to many mistakes in pass coverage to suit Coughlin. Plus Coughlin was impressed with Griesen:

“Nick played well in the nickel,” Coughlin said. “He’s got a good grasp and a savvy for that. I saw him in the spring display really good hands.”

This is interesting because Green is so much faster than Griesen. Still if Griesen can get into position and Green can’t that Griesen should be out there in the nickel. Paul Schwartz doesn’t see it this way. Commenting on Green’s inclusion in base defense and Griesen’s in the nickle he says:

This is surprising in that Green’s greatest asset is his speed, which seemingly makes him an asset in pass coverage, and that Greisen’s strength is considered to be against the run.

He may also be better suited to tackling Culpepper, who is able and willing to run. In fact, Neil Best’s article has some good analysis of Culpepper’s ability to run. He’s hard to tackle because he’s almost as big as Strahan. He’s got about 40 pounds on Green, which may be one reason we should have Greisen in there.

Giants offense vs. Vikings defense

Tuesday, October 26th, 2004

Gary Myers argues that the Giants can not afford to lose two in a row. However the Vikings are a more talented team than the Lions, especially on offense. If the Giants don’t score points in Minnesota they will lose.

Last year the Giants were the worst NFL team in the red zone. This year the Giants are doing worse than last year. As Tom Canavan writes, the Giants are keeping some pretty bad company:

The Giants (4-2) have been inside their opponent’s 20-yard line 21 times this season and scored just seven touchdowns and 67 points. The 33.3 TD percentage is the worst in the NFC and the tied for the second-worst in the league with Oakland and Miami. Buffalo is the worst at 25 percent.

A year ago, the Giants scored touchdowns on 38.3 percent of their trips into the red zone.

Jason Bartalone agrees, saying that the Giants must be color blind to Coughlin’s green zone / red zone distinction. Gary R. Blockus points out that the Lions game was equal in some ways:

Other than that, the game was a statistical oddity. Both teams ended the day with 325 yards of offense and 22 first downs, the first time teams have done that since Buffalo and Miami had the same number of yards and first downs (254 and 15) on Oct. 8, 2000.

But unequal in other ways:

Red zone efficiency? The Lions went 4-for-4 for 28 points. The Giants went 0-for-3.

Third-down efficiency? The Lions went 6-for-10 for a 60 percent conversion rate. The Giants went 4-for-12 for 33 percent.

That probably won’t beat any team, especially the Vikings.

Randy Moss

Tuesday, October 26th, 2004

So the Giants are going to go play the Vikings. While Moss only saw two snaps against the Titans, expect to see him play against the Giants, especially on third down and in the red zone. Let’s hope the Giants defense recovers from the debacle we saw Sunday gainst Detroit.

Lions dominate Giants

Tuesday, October 26th, 2004

This isn’t news, and I haven’t started sifting through the news articles yet. I do want to add my thoughts into the equation. Many Giants fans are quite upset with the Giants performance. I am too. There’s a strong contingent of people who say not to worry; 4-2 is better than the Giants were supposed to be at the beginning of the season, no one wins every game, etc. True enough, but we still have cause for concern, or even anger. The Giants didn’t seem to play hard.

I had written about how the defense would win us the game. I think they could have, but they didn’t seem to be playing hard. Osi looked like the best defensive lineman out there; he had three tackles and one sack. Our defensive line was not supposed to get pushed around by an average Detroit offense. Joey Harrington was not supposed to complete 18-22 passes or have a 140 passer rating. Detroit wasn’t supposed to find its running game Sunday against the Giants.

All the things that weren’t supposed to happen did happen, and the Giants defense let them happen. They let the fans down. I teach 4 classes a day and am more motivated for each and every one than the Giants defense was Sunday. And I make a lot less money…

Fans have the right to complain and be upset. Even to be angry. What I don’t understand is the blame being placed on Warner. We knew that Detroit had a good defense, and that their defensive line would cause our offensive line problems. The offense wasn’t supposed to have to win us this game. True, Warner didn’t look brilliant, but at least it looked like he was trying.

Not that fans have nothing to complain about. Many choose to complain about Dayne, but I still feel he is being misused. He is not a short yardage back. He can’t move the pile. How can he succeed when the Giants line can’t push the short yardage pile, and the fullback Finn is an adequate lead blocker but no short yardage bull. Mike Cloud has better leaping ability. I remember one play he was criticized for during which he tried to jump over the Giants offensive line (which was moving backwards) and into the end zone. He didn’t make it. Not his fault. I know it’s mean, but Dayne reminds me of a comment my wife made at the Catskill Game Farm about their resident hippo which is separated from the zoo visitiors by a moat. My wife said “Can’t he jump over the moat?” We all had a laugh, just as other teams must when they see Dayne coming in for short yardage situations. The Giants can’t move the pile, Dayne can’t get over it, and Coughlin’s offense doesn’t seem too imaginitive in the red zone (unless you count calling the “red zone” the “green zone” imaginative).

Giants defense vs. Lions offense

Monday, October 25th, 2004

I wrote about the Giants Lions special tems matchup. And I wrote about the Lions defense vs. the Giants offense. Now I’ll write about the reason the Giants will win.

The Giants defense needs to stop Detroit. They can. The Lions offense is last in the league statistically. Sure, Roy Williams will be back. But if the Giants defense can stop Farve and his talented receivers, plus Testaverde and his receivers, they had better be able to stop a rookie with a sore ankle and an erratic QB in Joey Harrington. For all of Willims highlight reel catches, the Lions still haven’t had a 200 yard passing game.

Tom Canavan writes that both the Lions and the Giants defenses have been creating turnovers. The Giants defense should look to create a few more today. Ernie Palladino reminds us that the Giants aren’t too good after bye weeks (at least in recent memory) and Strahan adds that it can be hard to get your grovve back. I’m betting that Coughlin has the Giants abck in their groove and that while the Giants offense might struggle a bit against the Lions defense, the Lions offense will go nowhere against the Giants D.

running back = tailback & halfback

Sunday, October 24th, 2004

I’ve noticed the term halfback appearing quite a bit recently. It has been mentioned in discussions of Shiancoe’s role on the Giants and in Gibbs’ joke of an offense in Washington. I was too embarassed to admit that I didn’t know the difference between a halfback and a running back. Turns out there is none:

What’s the difference between a tailback and a halfback? None. They’re both anachronistic terms that I interchange, preferring both to the current “running back.”

Giants bench Green

Saturday, October 23rd, 2004

I’m not sure that Barret Green will see a whole lot of playing time against the Lions. Pasquereli notes (in passing) that Green has been bencehed. Mike garafalo goes into more detail about Green and Coughlin.

Giants offense vs. Lions defense

Friday, October 22nd, 2004

This matchup is more even than the special teams matchup where Detroit has a clear advantage. Dave Caldwell writes that the Giants are protecting the ball but still have some work to do.

Dre Bly is one of Detroit’s corners. He knows how good Warner can be. We’ll need a big game from Warner as no team has had a lot of success running on Detroit. Their front 7 is very good and will create problems for the Giants offensive line.

That’s why I’m skeptical when Mike Garafolo writes that their should be opportunities to go deep against a weak Detroit secondary. Kurt Warner simply won’t have time to sit in the pocket and wait for deep routes to develop. Still the Giants must find a way to try to stretch the field. It will be a challenge.

The Giants need to do better on third down. A big part of the equation here is avoiding third and long as the Detroit defensive line can really bring some pressure. The Giants also have some trouble on third and short because they haven’t found a reliable short yardage running game. Again, Detroit’s strong front 7 will make that difficult.

As for the running game in general, Tiki has been awesome, but Detroit is strong against the run. Barber knows he’ll have to do something special to pick up yards against the Lions. The Giants probably won’t run him at Detroit’s middle; Tiki should be able to pick up some yards on the outside.