Why Pass?- Volume 46

The Giants have once again shown that they are masters at bad play calling in the 4th quarter.

Let’s start at the beginning of the quarter, 1st-and-10 from the New England 31 with a six-point lead. The primary objective here should be to get a score, field goal or touchdown, just a score. Yet, the Giants try to pass on first down and get sacked. They try to pass for the first down on second down and third down and end up punting. Dumb play calling, but just an appetizer for the main event.

1st-and-goal with 2:06 left in the game and the Giants trailing by 1. New England has only one time out left, so forcing them to use that is a priority because if you don’t score a TD, you have to leave them with very little time on the clock. You have to run the ball here because that gets you to the 2-minute warning. You then run or pass on second down, and do the opposite on third down. (assuming you didn’t score a TD) Worst case scenario is that you leave New England with no timeouts and 80 seconds to work with.

Instead they passed and the incomplete ruling left them with 2:01 on the clock. The passed again, not questionable from a clock standpoint, but maybe from a play-calling one, and took it to two minutes. Eli at least had the sense to stay inbounds on third down and they took the clock down to 1:50 and forced New England to take their last time out.

Yes, maybe that should have been enough to win the game. Collins had the game-winning interception in his hands and couldn’t complete the play. They forced the Patriots into 4th-and-10, but couldn’t stop them. Ultimately, it was a 54-yard field goal that settled things. But, is New England had 30-less seconds to use things might have ended differently. For now the only thing we can say is that the Patriots and their fans will pray that the Giants don’t make the Super Bowl this year.

Tomorrow Is The Trifecta

You could attend three-different games in New York tomorrow, without too much trouble. Start at MSG for the Knicks at noon. Leave that game and head to Snoopy Stadium for Giants-Pats at 4:25. Head back to MSG for the Rangers at 7:30. Realistically, if you use public transportation, you should probably get to the Rangers game after the first period is over, and that would be the only game action you would miss.

I can’t do it tomorrow, but if the scheduling gods give me a chance again, I am doing it. I came close to a mini one of these years ago in 2003 when I was living in Boston. I went to Foxboro and watched the Giants play the Pats and held tickets for that night’s Yankees-Red Sox playoff game at Fenway. But, the weather was terrible and the ALCS game got rained out.

I’ll watch from the comforts of my living room tomorrow, but someday soon, I will complete the trifecta.

Better Than I Hoped, But A Long Way To Go

I’m already on record for predicting the Giants will lose to New England this weekend. That was before the season started, and I thought they would be 4-6 heading into the bye. Assuming I am right about this weekend, they will be 5-5.

That’s good, but the rest of the schedule, even after this weekend, isn’t encouraging. They have to play @Washington, Jets, @Dolphins, Panthers, @Minnesota, Eagles. That’s an undefeated team, two legitimate playoff teams in the Jets and Vikings and the Eagles, who alway give them fits. 2-4 to close the season seems about right because the flaws everyone thought would be there are there in bunches.

They can’t rush the passer. They can’t play defense. This weekend could be an amazing display of offensive firepower by New England. Probably the only thing that will keep things reasonable is Belichick’s respect for the Giants’ organization. Short of Belichick calling off the dogs, I think Brady&Co could put up 70 on Sunday. We shall see.


On a separate topic, there seems to be a lot of talk this week about how New England “should have” won their two Super Bowls with the Giants and they should have six Super Bowl rings now. To me that is the dumbest form of sports argument because you play the game and the winner is the winner.

Clearly, New England was the better team in 2008, but I would not agree with that  in 2012. Furthermore, you can play this argument from two sides. Who should have won the Rams-New England Super Bowl? So do you take that one away from New England? Of course not. New England won four Super Bowls and lost four, those are the facts and we should leave it at that.

First Place!

The Giants are in first place. Can that possibly be true? The standings say it is, so I guess we should believe it, but this doesn’t look like a first place team.

For one thing, the pass defense is the worst in the league. For another, they are 26th in the league in terms of total sacks. There is no situation where you can trust the defense to make a stop as we have seen time and again.

But, the offense is pretty good, and could be really great if they can get all of their receivers healthy. The offensive line is doing a fantastic job protecting Eli and Eli is having one of his best seasons ever. They still aren’t great at running the ball, but that may become easier if teams try to take away the pass against them.

The next two weeks should give us a good idea of if this team is a playoff contender. Monday Night in Philly and then home against Dallas. 1-1 is the minimum they need to achieve. I am not convinced they can, so let’s enjoy the standings this week as we may not see them in this order again this season.

Drop The Puck!

I am grateful that the NHL season is starting tonight, I need the distraction. And I couldn’t be happier about how the Rangers are opening their season- watching Chicago raise a banner to the rafters.

That’s the standard the Rangers are going to be held to this upcoming season. They had a great year last year, until they were stymied by Tampa in the Conference Finals. This is their time, they are built for right now, and they need to figure out a way to get to the top.

That won’t be easy, but it will be fun to watch over the next nine months.


Just Win Baby!

I think it is ridiculous to compare the 2015 Giants to the 2007 Giants. Yes, those Giants started out 0-2. Yes, those Giants played Dallas in the opener and Washington in their third game. But those Giants had Tuck, Strahan and a real defense. This team does not.

So, I am not expecting some Lazarus-like rebirth tonight. In fact, I am not expecting much. I have already said I thought the Giants would go 6-10 this year, and they just lost one of the games I thought they would win. Tonight is a another game I predicted a win in, and I am sticking to that, but consider what could happen if they don’t win.

They go to Buffalo, play the 49ers, and then play Dallas, Philly, and New Orleans. 0-3 could very quickly become 0-8 if they lose tonight. Then we can compare them to the 2013 Giants who opened the season 0-6. We’ll know shortly.

They Should Have Gone For It

Yes, the Giants totally screwed up last night by calling a pass play on 3rd down when Dallas was out of timeouts. And yes, Eli Manning screwed up when he threw the ball away instead of taking a knee or a sack. But, the Giants still had a chance to redeem that mistake by going for it on 4th down. Instead they compounded it by kicking a stupid field goal.

Now you are going to say how can you call a field goal that increases a team’s lead from three points to six stupid? The reason I do is because you have to consider the alternative to kicking that field goal. If the Giants go for it on 4th down and make it, they are up ten with about 90 seconds left in the game. That’s almost certainly a win. But even if they don’t make it, they leave Dallas on their own 1-yard line with 90 seconds needing a field goal to tie that game. That is the key reason they should have gone for it.

Think about it, if you are Dallas and you are down three and get the ball with 90 seconds and no time outs on your own 1, what are you trying to do? You are trying to kick a field goal and get the game to OT. But if you are down six your only hope is that you score a touchdown and win the game outright. So, by settling for a field goal, instead of going for the outright win, the Giants forced the Cowboys to play to for the win instead of a tie.

Now who knows what would have happened in overtime, the Giants certainly could have lost. But the point is that they would have still had an opportunity to win the game. By kicking that field goal they eliminated that chance.

The Giants Are Not Ready For Some Football

It is time for me to predict the Giants season. It’s not a pretty picture, and I am amazed that some pundits are actually picking them for the playoffs. Maybe its the fact that this year should be our quadrennial trip to the Super Bowl?

I can get behind the ides of the offense scoring a lot of points. They certainly have the talent, but then again, who is going to block for them? As easy as it is to picture Eli and OBJ shredding NFL defense, it is also as easy to see Eli running for his life every time he drops back to pass. The offensive line is simply too big a question mark to convince me that the offense will be as explosive as advertised.

And the defense, oh the defense could be really bad. Who is going to rush the passer? And if they can’t rush the passer, what happens in the middle of the field? The corners are solid, but the safeties and linebackers might be terrible.

If I close my eyes and really use my imagination, I can get to 10-6 for this team. I would give the chances of that happening as very, very slim. Vegas puts the Giants at about 50-50 for 8 wins. That seems excessive to me as well. I am going to predict six wins. I think they lose to Dallas tomorrow night, beat Atlanta and Washington, to go 2-1. They split the next two, a loss in Buffalo and a win over San Francisco before losing three-straight against Dallas, Philly and New Orleans. They beat Tampa, lose to New England and head to their bye week with a 4-6 record. They beat Washington again, but then lose to the Jets, Dolphins, and Panthers to fall to 5-9. They split the final two- a win over Minnesota and another loss to Philadelphia. Now, if you want the optimistic case, change the losses to Buffalo, New Orleans, the Jets, and the Panthers to wins.

I don’t see it happening, and I don’t see the Giant careers of Tom Coughlin, Jerry Reese, or JPP extending beyond this upcoming year.

An Interesting, But Flawed List

ESPN posted a list entitled: “Top 25 sports villians- The most adversarial realationships in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, college football” It’s a fun read, but it gets some things very, very wrong.

Start with #25, LeBron James vs. Miami Heat are you kidding me? The guy stabbed his hometown team in the back on national TV, came to Miami and went to four-straight Finals while winning two and then returned home and you feel something to gripe about?

#24- Royals vs. multiple teams should be higher. They are getting under the skin of most of baseball.

#23- Lundqvist vs. Devils is only on the list so they can say they covered hockey. Brodeur vs. Rangers was a thing. This isn’t.

I’lll skip ahead a bit

#20 Roger Goodell and Gary Bettman vs. NFL and NHL fans. First off, this should be higher. Second, they should be separated. Bettman continually has tried to ruin hockey and remains the commissioner of the only sport to ever cancel an entire season. Goodell doesn’t seem to realize that hitting a woman is 1,000 times worse than deflating a football. Both belong separately in the Top-10.

Skipping ahead

#8- Saban versus LSU is a good one, but where is Pitino versus Kentucky? Or for that matter Jim Harbaugh versus everywhere he has coached in the past?

#5- A-Rod only squeaks into the Top-5!? This guy should get a pass into the Top-3 for the next five years at least.

#2 DeAndre Jordan versus Dallas. I have lived in the Metroplex and there are two seasons- Cowboys Football season and Cowboys offseason. The Mavericks are a nice distraction, but their fans are generally very polite and well-behaved. They will boo like crazy, but nothing like the reception any opposing QB will get when they walk into Cowboys Stadium.

#1 Tom Brady versus the NFL. I get it, this has turned into a farce, but let’s not pretend that both sides will make nice the minute things are settled. I believe Brady ordered the “code red” and asked those guys to deflate the footballs. I also believe that it is the equivalent of a pitcher scuffing a baseball or a hitter corking a bat. It’s cheating, but it’s not the kind of cheating you should lose a quarter of a season for. One game seems right to me.

On a side note, I will say that Brady has a bit of A-Rod in him and that may explain why he is on top of this list. He can’t help himself come off as somewhat unlikeable with his words and actions. If I were a major sports star, I would call up Derek Jeter and ask him for advice on how to handle the off the field stuff. Jeter was a master at handling the press and keeping his private life private.

Anyway, this is a joke that he is considered the biggest villain in sports. And when the NFL Playoffs roll around, and they feature ads with Brady it will prove my point.

Finally, it is worth noting what is not on the list. Players who are accused, or have been convicted of domestic violence, child battery, and other crimes. The NFL itself in the ongoing CTE controversy. Those are the true “villains” of the sports world, and we should all remember that.

Chasing The Hockey Holy Grail

Lou Lamoriello stunned the Devils and most of the hockey world with the announcement that he is leaving New Jersey for the role of GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Devils’ fans will be furious because Lou was their GM until he stepped down from that role a few months ago, but this move makes sense. Building a cup winner in Toronto would be the perfect cap to his career.

Of all the tortured fan bases in sports, the Maple Leafs’ are probably the saddest. That’s because they have been sold a bill of goods that says they were once a great, great franchise, and now they are a joke. Both parts are somewhat true, but there are two vital factors to remember about the NHL where Toronto won 13 cups.

1- There were almost always only six teams in the league when they won.

2- Territorial rights were in existence for a lot of the time they dominated.

Let’s start with the six teams. Yes, Toronto is part of the “Original Six” but that term should really be re-coined “Remaining Six”. The NHL as we know it got started at the end of WW1 with four teams, two in Montreal, one in Toronto (not the Leafs), and one in Ottawa. The Leafs showed up a few years later, the Bruins in 1924, and the Rangers, Blackhawks, and Red Wings in 1926. They were joined at various times by teams in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Hamilton, St. Louis, and a second team in New York. By 1942, only the “Original Six” remained and that is where the term came from.

But the Canadian teams had a second advantage besides a small number of opponents- territorial rights. Each team had an exclusive right to players within a 50-mile radius of their home. So, Montreal scooped up lots of talent in Quebec, Toronto got a lot of talent in Ontario, and the Rangers got to go looking in Trenton for their next great player. (Is it any wonder they didn’t win a lot? Seriously, draw a 50-mile line around any other Original Six city and you can come up with some hockey hotbeds. Around New York the only ice you found back then was in the drinks.)

And since 1967, when territorial rights disappeared and expansion came to the NHL, Toronto hasn’t won a Cup. Maybe that’s bad luck, you could argue that, but maybe it is also simply a reflection of a franchise that got way too caught up with a history that wasn’t as glorious as they would like to pretend it was.

But don’t try telling that to the people in Toronto. As far as they are concerned, they are waiting for the restoration of their dynasty. Lou is probably the perfect person to undertake that challenge. I hope he succeeds, after I see the Rangers hoist another Stanley Cup.


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