Category Archives: Giants

The NFL is Oblivious

Thr NFL will announce the 2017 schedule tonight, but thanks to more leaks than the Titanic, you can find your team’s schedule online already. One date stands out for the Giants, Thanksgiving at Washington.

Some people are bothered by Native American nicknames for sports teams some are not. I personally avoid using them for the reason that they cause a portion of the population offense. I understand why people may not agree with that, but I hope the insensitivity of scheduling a Washington home game on Thanksgiving needs no explanation.

The NFL doesn’t care. Roger Goodell seems to have zero empathy for victims of domestic violence, victims of brain trauma, and Native Americans who object to a racist trademark. At what point do we, the fans supporting this enterprise, vote with our wallets?

Right Place/Wrong Team

The Giants making the playoffs after a four-year absence is a wonderful thing. The problem is, they are running into the worst possible first round matchup they could have drawn.

Yes, they have beaten Green Bay in Green Bay before in the playoffs. In fact, the last two Super Bowl victories went through Green Bay. And yes, in both of those seasons they lost to Green Bay in the regular season, just like they did this year. But tell me, what does that have to do with the 2016 Giants? There are five players still on the entire roster from the 2011 team, and one of them, JPP, is not playing Sunday. Eli Manning looks a lot more like the 2007 version of himself than the 2011 version and Green Bay is the hottest team in the league right now, winning six-straight to make the playoffs.

I’m not saying the Giants can’t win. They can, but they will need a lot of things to break their way. They will need to fluster Aaron Rodgers, no easy task. They will need to hold up in their protection of Manning, again no easy task. They will need to run the ball in very cold conditions, something they haven’t shown a consistent ability to do. Add it all up, and I don’t see the Giants walking away with a win on Sunday, no matter what “history” says will happen.

Hopefully, I am wrong.

That Was Ugly

The Giants played a clunker last night, one that should calm all the best team in the NFC talk for awhile. The good news is, they are almost guaranteed to make the playoffs. In fact, it would be quite an upset if they didn’t.

Do I sound too confident? I don’t mean to, but consider what has to happen for the Giants to miss the playoffs.

1- They need to lose to Washington next week. Win and they are in.

2- The Packers beat Minnesota this week and Detroit next week.

3- Detroit beats Dallas Monday and then loses to Green Bay.

4- Tampa beats New Orleans and then Carolina.

5- The Falcons need to beat Carolina and New Orleans.

In that scenario, the Giants end up in a three-way tie for the wild card and lose on tiebreakers. Again, every one of those things, a total of 9 different outcomes, needs to happen or the Giants make the playoffs. The way things have gone the past few years around here you would be crazy not to think there is a chance, but it is a pretty small one. So relax, enjoy Christmas weekend and get enjoy the nine days off before the next game. We have all earned it.

 

Vereen Is Done

Shane Vereen is now really out for the season. He missed nine weeks, came back and lasted parts of two games. Tough year for him. Ryan Nassib is also out for the season with an elbow injury. I would assume, that this will be the end of Nassib’s career in blue as he is a free agent after the season and I would guess that the Giants might draft Eli’s replacement this offseason.

The Nassib injury is of no concern, if he was playing the Giants were in trouble, but Vereen’s injury could be a problem. They can’t run the ball, so using Vereen’s receiving ability gave them the option to try short swing passes instead of running.  Since none of their other running backs have shown the ability to catch the ball, that option is dead. If you are a NFL team looking to defend the Giants, I would force them to try to run the ball as much as possible. Unless Paul Perkins can develop at a quicker pace, I wouldn’t expect much success.

The critical injury is to Janoris Jenkins, who isn’t practicing. The Giants head to Philly on Thursday and while Jenkins may play, he would probably be limited. Apple and DRC have been very good this year, but Jenkins may be the best corner in the league right now. He simply shuts down the opposition’s best receiver. The Giants have an interesting dilemma with him. Do they rush him back this week if it could aggravate his injury? Or do they let him rest, knowing that a win in either of their last two games gets them into the playoffs? (And yes, I am not expecting a NFC East title because I don’t think Dallas loses their final 2 and that is the only way it could happen.)

It’s a tough call because as much as you want to win Thursday and get into the playoffs, you do have the fallback of the following Sunday in Washington plus the fact that Tampa and Green Bay would need to both win out for the Giants to be eliminated. We’ll see what happens under the lights Thursday.

Now Comes The Hard Part

Give the Giants credit. They are 8-3, winners of six-straight. We can point out a lot of flaws, but they are doing something right, and it isn’t just a fortuitous schedule. The problem is, the schedule turns really ugly now.

The final five games are brutal: @Pitt, Dallas (Sunday Night Football), Detroit, @Philly (Thursday Night Football), @Washington. When I picked games before the season started, I had the Giants sitting currently at 7-4, and finishing 1-4 to go 8-8. I still think a 1-4 finish might be all they manage. I don’t see them beating Pittsburgh or Dallas. Detroit looks really good recently. Washington will be problematic. They could and really should beat Philly even on the road.

That would leave them at 9-7 which might get them into the playoffs, but would also leave them with little momentum and a probable first round exit. A good team has to come out of this stretch at 10-6 or better. Are the Giants that kind of team? I still say no, but this is the reason you play the games.

Not Buying It

Yes, the Giants are 6-3. And yes, I think they might be 8-3 in two weeks. But no, I’m not ready to say this is anything more than a mediocre team.

Start with some stats. The Giants are a minus-8 in the takeaway/giveaway department. They have scored two fewer points than they have allowed. They are 24th in yards gained and 15th in yards allowed. Does anything strike you as above-average there?

They can’t run the ball, ranked 31st in the league at that. They can’t pressure the QB, ranked 30th in sacks. And they don’t convert 3rd downs very often, ranked 25th in that. The one thing they do really well is protect Eli, allowing the second-fewest sacks in the league.

Yet they are 6-3 and would be a playoff team if the season ended today.  And as I mentioned earlier, with a home game this week against Chicago, and a road game the next week in Cleveland, 8-3 is a distinct possibility.

The problem is, after that they could crash and burn to 8-8. Look at the schedule. Home against Dallas, road game in Pittsburgh, home against Detroit, finish on the road in Washington and Philly. They might be favored in the Detroit game, but as of right now, that’s going to be it.

So enjoy this. Admire the standings for th next few weeks. The pain is coming. This is a 4-4 team at best masquerading as a playoff team. It won’t last.

Predicting The Giants Season

Ok, here I go, a game-by-game guess at how the Giants end up.

Game 1- @Dallas- Two weeks ago, I would have said loss, but that was before Romo got hurt, and a rookie QB stepped in. Add in a rookie RB and I think the Giants will play enough defense to win this game.

Game 2- New Orleans- While I would bet less points are scored than last time, I don’t think the Giants can beat Drew Brees.

Game 3- Washington- Giants win this one, go to 2-1 and then the pain comes.

Game 4- @Vikings- Could have been the same situation as Week 1, but the Vikings brought in Bradford, who beat the Giants twice last year. Make it three-straight.

Game 5- @Green Bay- Not even close to winning this one.

Game 6- Ravens- I think these two teams are about equal, so I give it to the home team Giants to get back to .500.

Game 7- @Rams (London)- I think the Giants can win this and will to enter their bye week at 4-3

Game 8- Philly- They can beat these guys and will.

Game 9-Bengals- Nope, they can’t beat these guys.

Game 10- Bears- Back to the win column.

Game 11- @Cleveland- Closer than it should be, but another win to get to 7-4.

Game 12- @Pittsburgh- Not even close, a big loss.

Game 13- Dallas- Romo’s probably back or the rookie has thrived. Either way, the Giants lose this at home.

Game 14- Lions- I think Detroit could be a really good team this year, chalk it up as a loss.

Game 15- @Philly- This team is a mess and I think they win this.

Game 16- @Washington- I think they lose this to finish 8-8. The crazy thing is 8-8 could win the NFC East, especially if the Giants are 4-2 in the division as I predicted.

For comparison sake, I had them at 6-10 last year which was dead right and means I will be dead wrong this year.

 

Catching Up

Sorry to have been away during a big week in New York sports, but I don’t set the school vacation calendar!

Anyway, I watched the Rangers’ season end from 30,000 feet thanks to Jet Blue and the Giants draft thanks to ESPN on the ground. Some thoughts on both follow.

For the Rangers the really discouraging part is that Lundqvist looked terrible for most of the series. That could be a sign he is acting his age (34) and if that is so, the Rangers are in a lot of trouble.  This team is built around Lundqvist and any slippage on his part dooms them to mediocrity.

But even if it isn’t a function of age, what do the Rangers do then? Do they double down (or quadruple down I guess at this point) and try for one last cup run? Or do they make the more sensible choice and rebuild? And if they choose to rebuild, what does that look like? This is a team with a lot of talent locked up into the future and very little talent in the pipeline. Rebuilding could take a few years, but trying for one last run could dig the hole even deeper. Not an easy choice.

******

I think all of the draft grades assigned to the Giants are meaningless because this is a team that won’t compete for a Super Bowl next year without an amazing amount of luck. If you accept that assessment you can accurately judge this draft. If you don’t, it is a big failure.

Apple in the first round is a pick that will marginally improve this team, but could help enormously down the road. In the best case, Apple is the 3rd corner this year. That’s it, so he isn’t going to improve the team dramatically. But, if the Giants are right about him, he takes the job from DRC in 2017 and stars from there.

Shepard could be a great #2 receiver and the perfect complement to OBJ. That’s a great second round pick. Thompson in the third round fills a void at free safety and could become the ball hawk this secondary needs.

Goodson, Perkins, and Adams add depth, but not in the places the 2016 Giants necessarily need. Goodson will be a great addition to the linebacking corp, but the other two are “luxury” picks, which is weird for a team coming off a losing season. However, if Perkins is the RB scouts think he is and Adams is the TE scouts think he is, they have two huge weapons for the future.

But, there are still HUGE questions for this team going forward. What is the right side of the offensive line? Where is the depth on the defensive line? There are no clear cut answers to those questions at this point and that means we have no idea how the 2016 season will unfold.

Losses Ranked

After last night I tried to come up with the worst losses I have suffered as a sports fan. This is called catharsis.

1- Game 5 1995 ALDS- So many things make this the worst starting with the fact that the Yankees had the series in hand the day before when they jumped out to a 5-0 lead in Game 4. They blew that and then came into the 11th inning of this game with a one-run lead. Three batters later the game and the series were over.

2- 2002 NFL Playoffs- Start with the fact that the Giants led 38-14 with less than five minutes to go in the third quarter, but then consider this. The 49ers rally and cut the lead to 38-30 with two TD’s and two 2-point conversions. They then kick a field goal to make it 38-33, but the Giants drive deep into SF territory only to miss a field goal on a bad snap.

Then things really got nutty. The 49ers drive down and score a TD, but the 2-point conversion fails. The Giants have a minute left and get into position for a 42-yard field goal to win the game. Bad snap #2 ensues and the Giants have the heave the ball downfield in desperation. Everyone in the world sees the Giants’ receiver get tackled before the ball arrives and the flag on the play. But, the call is ineligible man down field and the game is over. The following day the NFL apologized to the Giants because the player flagged as ineligible had in fact checked in and was eligible and for missing the obvious pass interference call. <sigh>

3- Game 3 1980 ALCS- George Brett off of Goose Gossage, tears flowed.

4- Game 5 2004 ALCS- What people forget about this game, which went 14 innings, is how many times the Yankees bent, but didn’t break as the extra innings progressed. Made it that more painful when things finally ended.

5- Villanova 77 UNC 74. The cruel part of this game was the fact that it was “over” with a few minutes left. UNC trailed by 10 and had no shot. But Marcus Paige refused to accept that and hit one of the craziest three-pointers you will ever see with 4.7 seconds left. But then….

6 and 7- Games 1+2 2014 Stanley Cup- Both games see the Rangers up 2-0 early. Both games see LA storm back. Both games go to extra time. Both games end with LA winning.

8- Game 5 2011 ALDS- I saw this one in person and I will never forget the quiet after the game ended.

9- 1989 NFL Playoffs- Rams come behind in the 4th quarter to tie the game and then win the coin toss in OT. Flipper Anderson catches a pass, gets to the end zone, runs down the tunnel, and disappears.

10- Games 1 and 7 1995 NBA Semifinals- Pick your poison. Game 1 is Reggie Miller’s “8 points in 9 seconds” where the Knicks blow a 6-point lead over the final 18. Game 7 is Patrick Ewing missing a layup at the buzzer and the Knicks losing their first ever Game 7 at home.

Honorable Mention- 2002 Olympic Hockey Finals- The 1980 Men’s Team lights the torch and you can feel the gold medal finally coming back to U.S. soil. The 2002 team beats the Russians in the semis, just like 1980, and then gets bombed by Canada on home ice to lose the gold medal.

 

Spending Spree

The Giants are going into free agency spending like drunken sailors. They started by bringing back JPP on a one-year deal. I actually think this was a smart move as it is an incentive-laden contract and JPP clearly hadn’t lost a step last year. If the doctors can figure out a way for him to play without the heavy wrap on his hand, he could become a dominant force again and a bargain.

Then the Giants went bonkers, handing out massive contracts to Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, and Janoris Jenkins. Let’s put Jenkins aside for a minute and talk about Vernon and Harrison, probably the two best defensive free agents outside of Von Miller available. There is no question they will help, and they will help where the Giants really need it- on the front four. But, they are paying the two of them about $25-million a season for that help. That’s crazy money and shows you how desperate Jerry Reese is to keep his job.

And they also added Jenkins, possibly a better player than the guy he replaces, Amukamura, but not necessarily, and at another huge cost- $12 million per. Add up all the spending and the Giants have doled out over $200-million (over $100-million guaranteed) for four players. We will have to see how all the cap hits play out in terms of bonuses, etc., but they still have some pressing needs- Safety, WR2, Offensive Line, and linebacker. How much is left to cover those?

All the spending is ironic because the three new guys all came from the 2012 Draft class. The Giants failed miserably in the draft. David Wilson, their first pick, had to retire from football after 114 carries. Ruben Randle was enigmatic at best in his years as the second wide receiver. Jayron Hosely was a pretty bad cornerback. Adrien Robinson never saw the field, Brandon Mosely barely saw it, and Matt McCants never did either. Markus Kuhn, their final pick, is probably their best, starting 11 games on the defensive line and recording 1.5 sacks.

And that’s the real problem this team has, way too little talent being acquired through the draft. They have done a better job recently, but this spending spree can be traced directly to the disastrous 2012 draft. To me it is also indicative of a GM who knows he needs to turn things around now or lose his job. I can’t blame ownership for making Reese feel like his job is on the line, but it is also their job to rein him in. Hopefully, his spending spree works and makes the Giants better, but with all of the guaranteed money he has handed out the Giants could have problems down the line and headaches for their next GM.