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Archive for December, 2006

The Giants beat the Redskins

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

The Giants didn’t look too sharp in the third quarter but played close to a complete game and beat the Redskins. On offense, it was all Tiki Barber. Gilbride did his job and kept getting the ball in Tiki’s hands. 234 yards and 3 TDs says the strategy worked. Manning didn’t do much at all unfortunately. 12 of 26 explains why many Giants drives stalled. 101 yards is less that Tiki’s 2 long TD runs. At least he threw a TD and no interceptions.

On defense, the Giants had a nice first half although they did give up a TD on a trick play where Sam Madison had a great shot at the ball and let Sntana Moss beat him to it. In the second half the defense started giving up a lot of yards and points. so it looked like the Redskins would come back to win it. In the end they got the job done though it certainly wasn’t pretty.

Happy New Year everyone!

5 questions with a Redskins blogger

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

I recently had the chance to speak with Ben about the upcoming game. You can read my questions and his answers over on his Redksins blog. His answers to my questions are below.

1. What went wrong for the Redskin this season? Was it a lack of
talent and will we see that lack of talent cost the Redskins the game
against the Giants?

Tough question. To put it all together, this was a coaching staff that too much power and got inappropriately involved in player acquisition. To hear Joe Gibbs say it over an over, these high-priced free agents, Brandon Lloyd, Adam Archuleta, Andre Carter, et al, are not guys that were brought in by GM-like professional talent evaluators, they were requested directly by the coaches, and the management, with no one smarter in the way to say, hold up, went along with it. The result is guys that don’t fit.

It’s not that there is no talent, it’s that the new talent was never as good as their paychecks and because of that pay structure, there was no money left over for depth. In the secondary, you have a first round pick (Carlos Rogers), a top-shelf free agent (Shawn Springs), another first round pick (Sean Taylor) and the richest safety of all time (Adam Archuleta). When Shawn was hurt, Carlos was not ready to be a premier guy and Adam was benched, the backups were all journeymen who got beat in coverage like Tom Coughlin’s dog.

The way the Redskins can get out of this tightening downward spiral is to fire the Redskins’ Don Rumsfeld Vinny Cerrato, bring in a professional football guy and let him work witrh Joe Gibbs and keep Dan Snyder the hell out of the way.

No these public and well-documented problems will not stop the Redskins from pummeling a reeling Giants team looking at a Tiki-less future and led by what is at best an average quarterback who gets paid too much.

2. What’s going right for the Redskins? What should we look for in
this game that will be a positive for them in 2007?

The offensive line has been the real story of 2006. These guys loooove to run block and a starter did not miss a game until last week. Ladell Betts has 1000 yards rushing, including 6 100 yard games, and that’s only on 8 starts! That kind of play supports a quarterback getting comfortable in a starting role. Of the starting offensive line, only Derrick Dockery is a free agent after this season. Age is a consideration for these guys, but 2007 should be another good year for the O-line.

Dovetailing right from the offensive line is the quarterback. Jason Campbell is cemented as the starter and the Redskins will succeed or fail in 2007 with him under center. So far, I like what I see.

3. The Redskins ran like crazy of the Eagles. The Eagles then stopped
the Giants running attack. Can you explain that to me? What did
Washington do right that New York couldn’t do?

The December 10 Washington game was the first of a three-game road stretch for the Eagles, all against division rivals, and the Eagles won all three. That has not happened since the Redskins won three straight division road games in 1971. That first game, against Washington was Jeff Garcia’s third start after Donovan McNabb went down, a make or break game, and I think the team was focused on offense and getting Garcia settled, and the Redskins just ran it all over the place. The Eagles were playing not to lose and it worked.

When it came time the next week for the Giants game, I think the Eagles were more confident that the whole Jeff Garcia thing could work and were playing to win. They made a decision that Eli Manning was going to have to do what he did in week 2 in order for the Giants to win, and the Eagles did not believe he had another game like that in him, and they were right. They contained the run and let Eli be Eli. He had a good day passing but never scored the big play.

4. Are you happy about the Redskins QB situation now and for 2007?
What will we see (positive and negative) this game?

There was a whole to-do about Jason Campbell amongst Redskins fans which played out in the Redskins blogs as well. It comes down to this: Redskins fans are all confident Jason Campbell has the skills to be a good NFL QB, and 2007 will be all about Jason. Where the quibbling begins is what could the team have done to have a better 2006? If Mark Brunell was not the answer, should the team have known that in preseason and made Jason the starter now, reducing expectations for a 2006 playoff run and giving Jason eight more games to get better? Or was the preseason assessment that if the Redskins were going to win 11 games and go to the playoffs it was going to be on Mark? The debate is really about when the Redskins decided they were not a great team, because benching a veteran in favor of a practical rookie is not a decision a playoff team makes.

In this game we will see more of the Redskins same: a conservative passing attack designed to minimize mistakes, high-percentage passes, a lot of Chris Cooley and a few deep balls to keep the Giants honest. The passing game is not altogether different now that Mark has been replaced by Jason, it’s just that, well, Jason can throw it more than 20 yards in the air, so they let him do that six or seven times a game.

5. Are you happy with the Redskins coaching staff? Have they done the
best possible work with a flawed team put together by an owner who
doesn’t think longterm or did the coaches help squander the chance
for a playoff appearance with a talented bunch of players?

That’s a trick question because it’s Joe Gibbs. To the extent that Redskins fans revere anyone, Joe is the living embodiment of Redskins football, and so like the pope there is a tendency to think he is infallible, and that the team’s problems all result from the world around Joe and not from Joe himself.

The reality is that there are too many cooks, too many coaches calling too many meetings and all sucking the air out of the room. Like any company with too much management, the team has spent too much time managing and not enough footballing. The team wants all these rich athletes to be inspired from within and have the coaches just there to direct that energy but even these guys, all grown men, still need daily motivation, supervision and personal encouragement to deliver the best product. The coaching staff needs to get leaner, the org chart needs to be flatter and the players need to understand the guy yelling at them after a loss is not going to be some young position coach or some ‘quality control’ guy, but rather the top guys, the head coach and the coordinators, the guys they are really playing for.

Bonus: Sean Taylor. Best safety in the NFL? Worth the #5 pick in the
draft? Is he easy to root for despite the spitting and off-field

If not the best safety then damn close. Roy Williams would have been my pick a month ago, but even Cowboys fans are concerned that Roy is riding his rep from three years ago and missing tackles and taking bad angles. Looking at the Pro Bowl rosters, any of those guys, Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed, John Lynch, Brian Dawkins, all those guys force opposing offenses to tailor their gameplan around them and all would be welcome on any team.

The thing about Sean Taylor is that he’s not human. He’s a linebacker in a safety’s body, he’s the fastest guy on the field and he has an uncanny ability to direct the entire force of a hit right into the runner’s forward motion. Because he plays a little wild, opposing receivers and anyone in the open field is looking around for him because no one wants to be on the business end of a Sean Taylor Signature Hit. He makes receivers go back into the huddle and tell the QB, hey how bout you don’t string me over the middle one time.

The facemasks, the late hits, the spitting, the lying about the spitting, the gunplay, the legal problems, the ignoring the coach, all that stuff, is part of the package. If he keeps that up, the Redskins won’t re-sign because he’ll be a top-drawer free agent when the time comes anyway and his upside is tempered by his downside. No one want him to join the monastery, just to lay off stupid stuff. But yeah, he’s fun to watch. You never know what’s going to happen next.

That’s it. Head over to Ben’s blog for more of the thoughtful football talk you see here.

Happy holiday season, sad Giants season

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

I was able to forget about the Giants so I had a wonderful Christmas day. However it may be a day or two before I can bring myself to blog about these quitters again. Anyway, merry Christmas everyone!

Giants Saints preview (part of the preview)

Saturday, December 23rd, 2006

Well here I am in New York after a good flight on JAL. Getting ready to watch some football with my dad for the first time in a while. And hoping the Giants beat up offensive line makes it a good game.

The Saints are still upset about their home game in New Jersey but I am tired of hearing about the Giants “extra home game”. The real problem is that the Saints are a much better team now. Sean Payton has the Saints offense playing well, probably well enough to beat the Giants by taking advantage of a suspect secondary. Reggie Bush has 84 catches, so the Giants linebackers and safeties will have to handle him. That’s a bad matchup for the Giants considering how these guys look in coverage sometimes.

Well there’s certainly more to say, but with the holiday madness surrounding me I’m not sure if I can get it to you. I’ll try.

NIghtmares of our lines getting beat up

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

I’m flying from Seoul to New York via Tokyo in a few hours so no game review for a few days. Normally I sleep as much as possible on the long flights, but I’m afraid to sleep because I don’t want to wake up screaming (alarming the other passengers no doubt) as I have nightmares of the Eagles kicking our butts, having their way with our women – I mean lineman -, forcing turnovers, etc.

See you in a few days.

Regarding comments on this blog

Monday, December 18th, 2006

First, I’ve made a change. You now have to preview a comment before posting it. The comments here are great and I appreciate them but I had to do this to cut down on spam.

Second, someone asked about the time it says on the comments (and the posts for that matter). I’m in Korea now so the time zone is much different than in New York. I am flying home for Christmas, but not until after I watch the Giants beat up on the Eagles in a few hours.

Giants Eagles preview no.2

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

I don’t have to tell you that the Giants Eagles game is a big one; the winner has a good chance of making the playoffs. The loser doesn’t. The article I link to above is right to point out issues with the Giants secondary, but wrong to say that all those yards last week came against “the hardly-inspiring Chris Weinke”. Well I’m not inspired by Weinke, but he did make some very accurate throws; some of the beaten Giants actually had decent position on the guy they were covering.

I suspect the real problem will be Brian Westbrook in the short passing game. I don’t know that our zone will be any tighter around the middle of the field than it has been so far this year. If the Giants can take away those short passes to Westbrook I like our chances. The Eagles will have only moderate success running against us and Garcia can’t beat us if he has to take his time to throw deep often. It’s all about the short middle of the field.

On offense, the Giants need to establish Tiki and the running game. The Eagles know it. It would also be nice if Accurate Eli Manning shows up instead of Throws too High Manning. The Eagles defense can’t beat us unless we let them. If Eli is accurate Burress and Shockey will make plays. The Giants and especially Manning have a bad habit of playing like crap for large parts of football games so let’s hope they don’t let us fans down.

Bleeding Green Nation disagrees with me and says the Eagles can cover the Giants receivers. Hopefully Manning will ahve a good game and we’ll see who’s right. This game preview is really just a bunch of quotes, some more interesting than others.

Go Giants!

Giants Eagles preview

Friday, December 15th, 2006

On offense, we obviously Whitfield to continue improving and hope that if O’Hara’s not 100% that Seubert plays well in order to avoid another 8 sace debacle like we had last Eagles game. We’ll also have to find a way to run on the Eagles and Trotter (who Pierce said is a good linebacker but refused to say he’s a good guy). I think the Giants will run, considering how Ladell Betts took the Redskins run defense, bent them over his knee, and then spanked them repeatedly. Let’s hope the coaches stay committed to the run.

Hopefully Shockey and Burress will be involved all day. Burress for one thinks he’ll have a good game. Let’s hope he’s right when he says the Eagles would be crazy to think they could shut him down. I wonder where and how much Will Peterson or James, the former Giant CB will play.

On defense, the Giants need to do something about Westbrook (Andy Reid on Mike & Mike said Westbrook does what no other player in the league does and is a probowler – I wishi I could disagree with more confidence). Garcia has been playing well lately but the Giants should be able to contain him (not that they did it well against Romo, but they did it against Vick).

5 questions with an Eagles blogger

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

I recently had a chance to talk with Jason who has an Eagles blog. He keeps it updated so go check it out for the latest on our upcoming opponent and for my answers to his questions. Below are his answers to my questions:

1. As we near the end of the season, how healthy / beat up is this Eagles team?

They’re relatively healthy. Other than the obvious players that have gone down for the year(McNabb & Kearse) everyone should be good to go. They have no injuries that I know of coming out of last week, although you never know what the Thursday injury report will bring…

2. Which Eagles players from the 2006 draft should Giants fans expect to be impressed with on Sunday?

Well really only one. Omar Gaither, who has stepped in to start at WILL LB in place of the smaler, quicker Matt McCoy. He’s done a much better job getting off blocks and bringing down the ball carrier at the point of attack. Plus, he got his first NFL pick last Sunday against the Skins. You may also see undrafted rookie WR Hank Baskett make some plays as he’s done this year. He’s a big WR that has shown alot of promise but has also been very inconsistent.

Otherwise, the 06 draft class is pretty nonexistent. First round pick DT Broderick Bunkley has inexplicably been in the coaches’ doghouse and has barely played the past few weeks, 2nd round pick Winston Justice has not dressed for a single game this year, WR Jason Avant has only been activated for a few games, and 2 other guys(KR/PR Bloom & SAM Gocong) are both on IR.

3. Statistically, the Giants pass protection is improving. How will the Eagles generate pressure on Manning?

They’ll blitz him. That’s defense coordinator Jim Johnson’s trademark. He likes to bring blitzes from all over and from lots of different people. He’ll have LBs, Safeties, & corners coming at him every which way. Early in the season the Eagles blitzed alot less because they were getting so much pressure with their front four, however since the Kearse injury the front 4 have gotten less and less pressure.

4. Which back (Tiki Barber or Brandon Jacobs) will be more difficult for the Eagles to stop?

Well considering the Eagles run defense lately it’s been tough for them to stop anyone… But clearly Tiki is the key to that Giants team in my opinion. If the Eagles stop him they win this game. I think Brandon Jacobs is a good back that has really imnproved from last year, but I don’t see him as the kind of game changer that Tiki is.

5. Are the Eagles still a pass-first team and is the offense becoming more balanced?

They’re still a pass first team for sure, but they’ve certainly become more balanced since McNabb went down. They’ve done a better job controlling the clock on the ground at the end of games, Brian Westbrook has rushed for a 100 yards 3 of the last 4 games if I remember correctly. They’re certainly not quite as balanced as Eagles fans would like, but it’s gotten alot better.

Bonus: There are some Eagles players that Giants fans hate, but which Giants players do Eagles fans hate and why?

Well… Shockey is an easy one. He’s just a guy that everyone loves to hate, not just Eagles fans. So specifically for Eagles fans, I suppose I’d have to say Strahan. Mostly because he’s had so much success against us.

Giants beat Panthers 27-13 – game summary

Monday, December 11th, 2006

First of all, fire Joe Buck. Listening to this guy talk about the Giants is worse than puking in your mouth and swallowing a little bit at a time for next three hours or whenever the game ends. Now a recap of the game itself:

The Giants passing game got off to a slower start than it should have. Manning threw a bad ball that was almost picked off. Moss made a nice catch here. Tyree dropped a pass that just should not be a problem. The timing was off between Eli and Carter plus Eli and Tiki. The Giants still got 3 but it was disheartening to see them unable to take advantage of a depleted Carolina secondary.

A bit later it was bad officiating as a Burress catch was ruled incomplete and the Giants challenge failed. At this point Manning was 3/9 for 22 yards. There was the Tyree drop, the Tiki poor effort, and the Burress catch with a BS call to consider though. Then there was also the poorly thrown ball that Carolina should have returned for a TD. Overall, Eli wasn’t having a good day in the first quarter. A long completion and then a TD pass to Plax sure made those stats look better. Plus the Giants were now up 10-0.

Then the Giants secondary gave up a lot of passing yards and Carolina scored a quick TD. 10-7. Dockery was trying to cover Steve Smith and failing as you’d expect. Demps was trying to play football and failing as we’ve also come to expect. Do we really have no one better than Demps? Man that guy is infuriating to watch. A little pass rush would be nice to watch too, but the Giants couldn’t pressure Weinke at all.

When the Giants got the ball back, Tiki broke 10,000 yards career rushing on a nice run. Congratulations Tiki! Carter was interfered with (and it was obvious) but the officials failed to make the correct call. This was just an unbelievably bad non-call. How these refs can completely suck and still keep their jobs is beyond me. If I performed like that I’d be unemployed. An errant (high of course) pass later and the Giants had to punt. The Panthers blitz was generating some serious pressure on Manning to be fair.

On the Panthers next possession the refs screwed us again when the Giants forced a fumble but the idiot ref blew his whistle. Moron. Then Will Demps dropped an interception. All in all, you start to wonder why you watch these games when incompetent officials and safeties make them a lot less fun than they should be.

Apparently Osi didn’t want to watch that crap either. He couldn’t berate the refs so he yelled at the Giants secondary some. Can’t say they didn’t earn it. Osi didn’t have much time to yell because the Giants offense went pass happy (and went nowhere).

So the Giants defense is back out and the officials screw us again, this time with a defensive holding call on Fred Robbins when all he did was cleanly beat his man and put him on the ground. I swear the BS officiating makes these games so much less fun. The NFL really needs to clean this crap up. Anyway, after some Montana-like passing and Steve Young-like scrambling from Weinke the Panthers tied the game up at 10.

The Giants got the ball back. After a couple of bad officiating errors, the Giants finally get a TD to go up 17-10 before halftime. That made me feel a bit better, but with these refs and our secondary, I certainly wasn’t very confident.

The 3rd quarter was a good one though. Gibril Wilson came up with two interceptions and the Giants scored twice to make it 27-10. The Giants running game with Brandon Jacobs kept getting stuffed in short yardage (all game really). Manning finally threw for the TD and it was nice to see Tyree get the reception. During this series there was a nasty hit on Eli Manning where the Panther led with his helmet. No doubt there will be a fine, but of course no call by the officials on this obvious personal foul…

The 4th quarter involved a lot of back and forth until Dockery changed things up a little with an interception. The guy played OK in the first half even though he was beaten on a few plays, that can happen when you’re in position but a QB makes a good throw or the receiver makes a good catch. But in the second half he really played well. The interception was just gravy.

The Giants went 3 and out again following the interception, but they didn’t need more points to win. Of course it still would have been nice to see the offense move the ball (and the chains) a little. Carolina did manage a field goal with a few minutes left in the 4th. But I’ll take the 27-13 win. Better than what we’ve been getting.