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New York Giants Vs. Oakland Raiders Preview: Home Sweet Home!

Published: October 9, 2009

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Moving close to the fifth game of the season, the Giants are 4-0. With four convincing wins, the Giants answered a lot of questions which were looming in the air since January. However, the storyline of the week is Eli Manning’s injury.


The Raiders, on the other hand, were penciled to be a better team than they were last year. With additions in the offensive line, the drafting of Heyward-Bey, and with Darren McFadden being more mature, the Raiders were not supposed to be this bad.


Continuing with the weekly preview, the Giants come back home this Sunday after three straight road games, and this is what lies ahead.


New York Giants vs. Oakland RaidersOctober 11


Eli Manning hurt is not something you hear a lot. In his five year career, he is yet to miss a game. Eli is an incredibly tough guy, even though he looks like a geeky teenager.


This quality of Eli has his team, and especially his linemen, all confident that he will be able to play. Even so, Eli playing or not might not even matter, as David Carr is a quality backup, able to lead the team to victory if called upon, and, mostly, for the opposition.


The Oakland Raiders are, to say the least, a team in distress. Tom Cable has been questioned, and their franchise quarterback, JaMarcus Russell—the 2007 No. 1 Draft pick—is currently the lowest rated quarterback in the league.


The JaMarcus Russell case is actually an intermittent one. Ever since the beginning of the Raiders OTAs there have been reports of Russell being over weight, playing poorly, and not making the proper effort to improve himself.


This situation seems to extend to the running game, as the Raiders have averaged only 208.5 yards on total offense—good for 32nd in the league—in the first four games, and they only scored 19 points in the last three games.


The offense is not the only problem, though, as the Raiders’ defense, although not as bad as their offense is ranked 26th in rushing yards. Oakland’s pass defense is a lot better, ranked as 11th in the NFL.


The player who stands out in the Oakland secondary is cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who is considered by many as the best CB in the NFL. This brings us to our Task One: Keep away from the Monster.


All teams playing the Raiders have adopted the strategy of not throwing to Asomugha’s side, and there is good reason for that. I really don’t see why the Giants should act any differently.


Interceptions can change the history of a game, and being upset by the lowly Raiders at home is not something any team wants. There is also another aspect of this task that could benefit the G-men, and that is Steve Smith.


Smith had been nothing but outstanding this season, being the leader in catches (34), receiving yards (411), and TDs (4), and this might lead the Raiders to line up Asomugha against Smith on every down.


Should the Raiders do that, expect big games from Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks.


Continue to talk offense, we reach Task Two: Run it down their throats. As mentioned before, the Raiders rushing defense is the 26th in the league, which means that the Giants o-line will have a pancake feast on Sunday.


Brandon Jacobs could finally have a huge game, and Ahmad Bradshaw is likely to hurt them too. This would also be a good thing for backup QB David Carr, as being able to lean on the running game will give him more confidence to make plays.


Being incredibly repetitive, and possibly annoying, I lay once again Task Three: Keep the Focus. Saying that in the last two weeks, I urge to point out that we cannot, by any means, have a meltdown like the one in Cleveland last year.


Too much focus can never hurt, and will only help us get things going.


Reverting to the defensive side of the ball there is Task Four: Just do what we do. The Raiders offense is terrible, and quarterback JaMarcus Russell is looking like an offensive lineman throwing the ball lately.


The Giants defense, on the other hand, is the league leader in points per game, so, if Big Blue is able to keep their defensive production, pressuring the QB, and making plays on the secondary, there shouldn’t be many problems with that part.


Probable Outcome


The Raiders, like almost all teams which face the Giants, will stack the line of scrimmage, trying to limit the Giants running game, especially is Manning does not dress up. This attempt is not likely to be effective, though.


Although they will stack the line, the probability is that this Raider defense will be manhandled by the giants bruising O-line and fullback. This will allow Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw both to have a 100 yard games.


The Raiders will continue to struggle on the offensive side, as the Giants defense will keep Russell under pressure all afternoon, and we can expect a few sacks on him.


I’m not really one for making predictions, I think everyone in the Nation agrees that there is little to no chance of the Giants losing this game.



Also Published in Blognyg – The Official Home of Giants Fans

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New York Giants @ Kansas City Chiefs Preview: Time to Open Up the “Sea Of Red”

Published: October 1, 2009

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Going into Week Four of NFL action, the New York Giants continue to ride the soft part of their schedule. However, playing the Chiefs in Kansas City can hardly be claimed easy, considering the crowd that invades Arrowhead Stadium every Sunday.


On the field, though, the Chiefs have a 0-3 record so far in 2009, showing that the changes made by the brass this past offseason will have growing pains.


The Giants, on the other hand, are proving on a weekly basis that they are Super Bowl contenders. With a 3-0 record, Big Blue is flashing great balance offensively, hile proving the quality of their depth on defense.


On another good note, the injury report on the Giants roster in finally beginning to clear up, and this game marks the return of several players, among them wideouts Domenik Hixon and Hakeem Nicks, and also CBs Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery.


Continuing to preview the Giants games weekly, here is my view of what lies ahead of the G-Men on Sunday.



New York Giants @ Kansas City Chiefs—October 27


The Kansas City Chiefs went through several changes in the past offseason.


However, even though the addition of a new General Manager, a new Head Coach, and the trade for a new quarterback point out to a better future as the Chiefs team develops, one of the main issues regarding their roster was left unaddressed.


While worried about the lack of a decent pass rush (10 sacks in 2008), and the major doubts surrounding the quarterback position, the team’s front office failed to make any relevant moves to bolster the offensive line.


This leads the Giants to their Task One: Oppress the Weak O-Line. Despite the fact that the Giants defensive line is currently facing injuries to Justin Tuck and Chris Canty, the lack of quality in the Chiefs’ o-line is a glaring hole to be explored.


This offensive line has already allowed eight sacks in three games this season, and the fact that their starting quarterback, Matt Cassel, has the tendency to hold the ball too long does not help the guys up front a lot.


Adding up, there is the fact the Giants defense failed to post a sack in the last two weeks and are now hungry for some quarterback blood. Look for Osi Umenyora to try everything he knows to try and bend second-year OT Branden Albert.


Switching to the offensive side of the ball, we reach Task Two: Fly Air Manning. The Kansas City defense, albeit allowing an average of 362 yards per game, have been fairly good against the run.


By this fact alone, I believe that they will stack the line, and try to prevent the Giants bruising running game to make any damage. Additionally, the fact that Ahmad Bradshaw is hurt may influence them to do just that.


This is why the Giants should let Manning spread the ball around early and often. Eli has been on fire this season, playing pitch and catch with his young toys, and making defenses look silly while at it.


Also, by establishing the pass first, the Giants force the Chiefs to back their safeties up, and this may lead to the desired balance the Giants offense always seeks. Besides, by making some plays early, Big Blue may take the Arrowhead crowd off the picture.


Addressing the intangibles, we hit the Recurrent Task Three: Keep the Focus. The Giants head into a similar situation as they did last week in Tampa Bay.


They face a winless team, with a rookie head coach, a new quarterback in town, and everyone extremely hungry for a win at home in front of their fans. This is why the Giants need to keep their focus on never taking anything for granted.


Upsets happen every week in the NFL, and there is no reason to believe that one is not possible to take place in this game. Thus, repeating myself from last week, “too much focus can never hurt”.


Changing the direction completely, I urge to Task Four: No Hurry with the Returning Players. Tom Coughlin stated this week that the Giants would “spoon feed” Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery into playing action.


This should be the approach with all injured players, as it is still week four, and there are some very difficult matchups ahead of us further in the season.



Probable Outcome


With Eli Manning’s already huge, and yet still increasing, influence on this team’s identity, it is hard to see this Giants team losing focus. Eli’s “aw shucks” personality is really something admirable, as he faces every week with the exact same approach.


When asked if the approach of a 3-0 team facing a 0-3 team changes, Eli responded: It is the same approach every week. It doesn’t change by what your record is or who you are playing. You have to go in there and play your best. We know we have to have a great game plan and we have to be focused, and have a great week of practice and go in there and be ready to play.”

This is why I don’t see the Giants team losing focus. So, rolling on all cylinders, the Giants are very likely to take control of the battle in the trenches, resulting in having a lot more time of possession than the opposition.

With Kansas City focused on stopping the run and making Manning win the with his arm, the Chiefs will be burned by Big Blue’s young receivers until they start to respect them, and then Brandon Jacobs will put the game out.

On the other side of the ball, I don’t see Matt Cassel being able to do much with the amount of pressure he is going to face. The fact that his primary target, Dwayne Bowe, is hurt doesn’t help either.

No disrespect for the Chiefs’ team, or fans, but they are in rebuilding mode, while the Giants are on the pace of another playoff season. If Manning can continue to lead the Giants with this rhythm, there are few chances of losing this game.



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New York Giants @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers Preview: Let’s Keep It Rolling

Published: September 23, 2009

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As we approach Week 3 of the NFL regular season, the New York Giants are 2-0. Coming from a great win while spoiling Jerry Jones’ stadium-opening party, it is safe to say that the Giants are gaining momentum.


However, standing in the Giants way is a hungry Tampa Bay Buccaneers team. Moving on with my weekly previews, this is what the Giants are up against next Sunday.




New York Giants @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Sept. 27


Eli Manning and his young wide receivers have shown in the last two weeks a glance of a very bright future for this offense, and proved in a national stage, and before the biggest crowd in NFL history, that the Big Blue passing game is far from dead.


The highly doubted group of wide receivers has been, so far, one of the team’s biggest strengths. Steve Smith and Mario Manningham have emerged as legitimate threats, and they both currently rank as the best 1-2 punch at the WR position in the NFL.


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers reach Week 3 with an opposite record from the Giants. Coming from two straight losses, to the Dallas Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills, this team is hungry for a win, and should be playing with a lot of heart come Sunday.


With several changes performed in the entire roster in the off-season, this Tampa Bay team is still struggling to find its own identity, to come into their own as a team. Nevertheless, in the first two games of the season, they showed that they can be competitive.


The Buccaneers’ running game, featuring the likes of Cadillac Williams, former Giant Derrick Ward, also known as “Wind”, and Ernest Graham (all very talented backs) had a great performance against the Cowboys, but struggled in Buffalo.


Even so, there is no doubt that these guys can torch any defense, and the presence of “Wind” in this mix is worrisome, as he knows the Giants defense pretty well, which brings us to Task One: stop the running game.


The Giants defense must not allow this group of RBs to get things going, as with the constant change of pace between the backs, it can be hard to stop them. Anyone doubting the success of these players should just watch their game against Dallas.


Stopping the run means making the Bucs’ offense one-dimensional, and put the game into Byron Leftwich’s arm.


Signed this off-season, Leftwich has been solid so far, tossing 574 yards, 4 TDs and 2 INTs, but with the Giants pass rush, there is a good chance he will have a long afternoon this Sunday.


It is a known fact that Leftwich is a statue in the pocket, and has a slow-motion release, which may prevent him from escaping the pressure applied by the Giants. In the game against Buffalo, he had two interceptions, and one of them returned for a TD.


By stopping the run, the Giants are going to put Leftwich on the hot seat to make things happen, and with the Giants’ ferocious pass rush, the defense might be able to capitalize on more turnovers committed by Leftwich.


Moving to the Giants offensive side, we come to Task Two: know when to change the pace.


Even now that Steve Smith and Mario Manningham embarrassed the Cowboys in their house, it is likely that no team in the NFL is completely sold on the Giants passing game. This why I see the Bucs stacking the line, just like Dallas and Washington did.


Make no mistake, though. People know that Eli has people to throw to now, and once the Tampa Bay defense gets burned a couple of times, I think they will stop putting eight men on the box and start playing the pass too.


This may allow the Giants to display their so much wanted balance. If Tampa tries to cover the pass, Jacobs and Bradshaw will most likely run all over them, and if they stack the line, Smith and Manningham will get the job done.


If the G-men are able to sustain this balance, offensive success is imminent.


Following this, we face Task Three: keep the focus. It is true that Tampa Bay lost both their games, and that their defense is not what it once was, being past its recent glory days, but don’t fool yourselves, the Buccaneers are still a dangerous team.


If New York goes out thinking they already won, taking this Bucs’ team for granted, the Big Blue might be upset. I realize this is not the New York Giants profile, but too much focus can never hurt.


Facing Dallas and Washington, Tampa Bay kept themselves in the game until the fourth quarter, when they fell behind on the scoreboard.


Because of this fact, they will be playing even harder to remain in this game until the final whistle, and finally win their first game of the season. The fact that they will be in front of their fans in the Florida heat can become a factor as well.


This fact leads us to a Recurrent Task Four: Make the most of the opportunities. Against the Dallas Cowboys we continued to struggle in red zone situations.


The Giants need to fix this problem in this game, and the sooner they are able to do that, the sooner they may be able to put this game away. Converting red zone trips into touchdowns is crucial, and it is past the time for Kevin Gilbride to figure it out.


As I said last week, if the Giants are to continue winning in this league, playing in the though NFC East, they have to stop wasting opportunities to score.




Probable Outcome


The Giants are a lot better positioned to win the battle in the trenches on both sides of the Ball, so I believe that Tampa’s running game won’t be able to do much. On offense, the Giants O-line is likely to get the job done, and keep Eli on his feet all game.


With Byron Leftwich having to carry the team to victory while the Giants D-line wreaks havoc, there may be some turnovers committed by Leftwich’s part, and the Giants can capitalize on that.


This is controversial, though, as the Dallas Cowboys were better positioned too, and ended up giving 174 yards through the ground.


Concurrently, while initially worried about stopping the run, the Buccaneers will stack the line, but only to be burned downfield by Steve Smith and Mario Manningham early in the game.


This may cause the Bucs’ defense to play the pass. After that, the Giants balanced offense will thrive, and Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw will be the ones who put the game away, bringing a W back to New York.

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The New York Giants Had a Great Win, But…

Published: September 21, 2009

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“That’s when (Eli’s) the best,” said Pierce. “When we go no-huddle or up-tempo, you don’t want it in the hands of nobody else but No. 10. He finds a way.”

I thought I’d start this article with that quote, because it summarizes last night’s game pretty well. Eli, once again, found a way, and clinched the 19th fourth-quarter comeback of his career.

He was the leader all Giants fans expect him to be, hung in there down the stretch, and came back home with a win. His numbers also prove his mettle, 25-of-38 for 330 yards. Two TDs and, something very important, no INTs.

Other players to be given due credit are WRs Steve Smith and Mario Manningham, who both looked like studs yesterday, picking their coverage apart, and combining for 20 catches and 284 receiving yards.

Strong safety Kenny Philips also deserves an honorable mention, as he, playing near his best, flew all over the field to make two crucial interceptions, adding to his five tackles on the game.

Now, all that being said, we move on what really matters, and this means dissecting what went wrong.

On a first note, it is obvious that the problems scoring in the red zone are still present in the Giants offense. Eli was able to carry his team all across the field, but whenever he reached the red zone, the offense got stuck.

This is a major problem, and if the Giants are to continue winning games, it has to be solved at once. This problem actually brings us to another one, and this is an oldie.

The play calling was shaky. Don’t get me wrong, there were moments when I wanted to kiss Kevin Gilbride, and tell him he is a genius, but others I wanted to kill him.

Gilbride deserves a lot of credit for this suddenly successful passing game, as he designed a new system around his young receivers, but there are some plays where I just can’t understand him.

Like a sideline pass on a third-and-goal from the 12-yard line. Why not try and put it in the end zone?

Moving on, there is something that, albeit unexpected, might be turning into a bad pattern. For the second game in a row, the Giants were unable to establish a running game. The Dallas defense was all over Jacobs and Bradshaw, and Eli had to win the game with his arm once again.

While this problem seems to be temporary, because the Giants faced two consecutive division rivals, and both have good defenses who stacked the line, this cannot turn in to a current. Against Tampa, the Giants need to be able to run.

A problem that went unnoticed last night was Lawrence Tynes’ missed field goal. He did redeemed himself when it mattered the most, but it is simply unacceptable to miss a 29-yard field goal in a domed stadium.

For the last issue, I highlight the lack of a pass rush. The defensive line penciled as the best in the league was unable to sack Tony Romo, and, adding to that, Marion Barber and Felix Jones were able to run down their throats.

With the absence of Chris Canty up the middle, one can understand this a little, but to allow 251 rushing yards in one game is, to say the least, somewhat worrisome.

This front seven needs to bounce right back against the Buccaneers, or Cadillac Williams and former Giant Derrick Ward, who we all know so well, might have a rush feast next Sunday.



Also published at – The Official Home of Giants Fans

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New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys Preview: Time to Spoil the Party

Published: September 15, 2009

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Week one of the NFL regular season was, as usual, an anxiety reliever for us football fans. All the waiting has come to an end, so now we can just enjoy the ride and focus on football itself.


So, continuing my weekly preview of the Giants games, here is what awaits next Sunday.


New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys—Sept. 20 (Sunday Night Football)


This game is the debut of Dallas’ new monstrous stadium, with the world’s largest scoreboard. The Dallas organization made an interesting choice having their biggest rival, the Giants, on the stadium’s opening match.


Giants-Dallas games have always been marked by an intense horse race down the stretch, with the games usually being decided in the end. I don’t see any reason why this game should be any different.


The Cowboys had a great start to the season, beating Tampa Bay 34-21. In this game, Romo had a career high 353 passing yards, and threw for three touchdowns. Romo showed that he can play very well without the presence of Terrell Owens.


An important factor for this is that his replacements, Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton, are two very talented pass catchers. The two alone combined for 221 receiving yards against Tampa Bay.


The Dallas defense, anchored by Demarcus Ware, showed its usual strength, pressuring Buccaneers’ QB Byron Leftwich throughout the entire game.


The Giants also started off the season with a win, over the division rivals Redskins. The Big Blue high powered defense, led by Osi Umeniyora, showed glances of what is pointing out to be a painful year for opposing quarterbacks.


The offense, in particular the young group of receivers, made a strong argument too. While being downgraded for their inexperience all year long, this group showed they CAN make plays, but they will need even more production to win this one.


Quarterback Eli Manning also put a ghost behind him, displaying precision and confidence without Plaxico Burress. Eli is looking more like Peyton every day, making crucial audibles and adjustments every play, including the one which generated the TD.


Addressing the “X’s and O’s”, in order to win this tough game, the Giants will have to start by stuffing the Cowboys offense. This starts with Task One: kill the running game.


This is something that, in my opinion will happen naturally, as the Giants have an incredible D-line, and a very competent group of linebackers. Also, the Cowboys have the tendency of putting the game more in Romo’s hands.


However, make no mistake, the Marion Barber-Felix Jones combination can be deadly, and if the Giants fail to stop them, this game will turn into an old Texas shootout, i.e. the type of game the Cowboys like to play.


So, stopping the running game will fall on the D-line, especially Canty and Bernard, who played so well shutting down Clinton Portis. Achieving this leads to Task Two: keep Tony Romo under pressure.


As previously stated, Romo had a career game against the Bucs’, and gained momentum to face the Giants. This task is the key to winning this game. The pressure applied in the trenches, or the lack thereof, will determine the outcome of the game.


The Giants defensive line is packed with great talent, and must be able to wreak havoc in the trenches, keeping Romo under pressure all game.


Osi and Justin Tuck must get their presence felt early and often, breathing down Romo’s neck and hitting him as many times as they can. Giving Romo different looks is also important, as this will keep the pressure from places he won’t expect.


If Romo has time, he will burn any defense, but he doesn’t function properly under pressure. History shows that he has the tendency to choke down the stretch when pressured. Nevertheless, the Giants MUST be extremely careful, and aggressive, with this guy.


Reverting to the offensive side of the ball, we reach Task Three: let it fly early. In the first game against the Cowboys last season, Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward, and Ahmad Bradshaw had a rush feast, gaining 200 yards on the ground.


However, in the second game, the Giants were never able to establish much of a running game, and with the passing game malfunctioning, the offense was stuck. The Giants cannot, by any means, make the same mistake.


I expect the Cowboys D to apply the same strategy, sending blitzes and stuffing the run. Against the Redskins, the G-Men came out spreading the ball around, and keeping things balanced. This should be repeated. Let the young guns fly.


If the passing game is established early, the Dallas defense will have to keep honest, and this will allow Jacobs and Bradshaw to run down their throats and put this game away. Moreover, Manning will face his first really difficult test.


Eli’s play early on will determine whether the Giants will have a chance to win this game or not. If he starts like he did last Sunday, calm and precise (and I expect nothing other than that), the Giants have a good chance to win.


Opportunities must be capitalized on. This is Task Four: make the most out of the opportunities.


Last game, the giants settled for a field goal from inside the 10 yard line after they failed to convert a third and one.


On the next drive, they once again missed an opportunity from inside the Redskins’ 10 yard line, missing a fourth and one, and turning the ball over.


That meant 11 missed points on two drives, and the opportunity to put the game away in the first half. This type of thing cannot happen against the Cowboys, as they have a much more talented offense, and we need all the points we can score.


Probable Outcome


The probable outcome is going to be a very tight match, played fiercely until the end. The battle for the trenches is going to be brutal, but I think the Giants are a little better positioned to win it on both sides of the ball.


It is a wide open game, and both teams badly want to win. This is usually the ingredient for a great football game.


Although there are other important matchups, details, and other game changing issues to be covered, I believe that the tasks presented here reflect the key factors for the Big Blue to come back from Dallas with a win.


And I don’t know about you, but I desperately want to spoil Jerry Jones party by winning the first regular season game ever played in the New Cowboys Stadium…

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New York Giants Vs. Washington Redskins Preview: Regular Season Is Here!

Published: September 9, 2009

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Following what was a very atypical offseason, with very few distractions, the New York Football Giants are to face brutal competition this regular season.

Playing in what is promising to be an even better NFC East division than last year, Eli Manning and the Giants will face a handful of extremely tough matchups throughout the upcoming season, which will define the final outcome of games, and ultimately, the season.

In each week, I’ll be delivering an outlook of the most important matchups the Giants will face the next game, offering suggestions to how the gameplan should be assembled.


New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins—Sept. 13


The Washington Redskins are penciled as the weakest team in the tough NFC East. However, make no mistake, the weakest team in this division could, with only a half effort, win a title if playing for some other divisions in the NFL.

This rivalry game has always been marked, as any NFC East battle, for its brutality. The Giants will be eager to prove that last year’s downfall is not something their fans need to worry about this season.

The main doubts are still related to the receiving group. With the loss of Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer, will Eli and his new toys get the job done?


The preseason showed good upside, but also plenty of mistakes on the receiving end, indicating that this unit is still a work in progress.

The Redskins, on the other hand, as an improved team with great additions on the defensive side of the ball, are looking to improve on last year’s 8-8 record, and earn a playoff berth after two years away from the postseason. This team has a lot of fight in it.

Nevertheless, while on defense things look promising, the offense is relatively in turmoil. With owner Dan Snyder and head coach Jim Zorn trying to replace QB Jason Campbell this offseason, it will be interesting to see how Campbell is going to react.

Campbell has displayed good potential, and protects the ball really well, but with no help from his less than stellar O-Line, things on offense don’t look as promising as they do on defense.

There is also the factor that the Redskins just signed former Giants’ practice squad QB Andre Woodson. This move by the Redskins could be somewhat worrisome.

Woodson spent a year and a half learning the Giants’ plays, and already stated he would help the Redskins in every way he can. This could play a factor in the play calling, as the G-Men, will surely change their calls a bit to avoid Woodson’s knowledge.


Addressing the “X’s and O’s”, it’s likely that the Giants will try to pound the ball through the ground, relying on the two headed monster called Jacobs-Bradshaw, and putting the new, improved, Redskins’ D-Line to the test.

This leads us to Task One: stop Albert Haynesworth. It’s as “simple” as that. Center Shaun O’Hara, and guards Snee and Seibert will have to handle this monster in order to make this offense move.

Another factor derived from this, is that while double teaming Haynesworth, the Giants must be careful with rookie stud Brian Orakpo at defensive end. David Diehl will have work to do.

One other factor in Haynesworth’s game is that, while in Tennessee, he moved a lot in the line. The Giants O-Line must be ready to make the proper line audibles and adjustments to cover him.

Looking at the Redskins’ offensive weapons, on the other hand, besides Clinton Portis, who should be handled nicely by Antonio Pierce, just like last year, we can point out deep threat burner Santana Moss at WR, and mismatch machine Chris Cooley playing the role of H-back.

This brings up Task Two, and Task Three: Moss is a speed demon, and a constant threat to burn a corner. Corey Webster will be encumbered to stop him from being a game breaker, as he has done with WR’s the entire 2008 season.

Cooley, on the other hand, is a bit trickier. As the Redskins work him in a handful of different positions, it’s hard to determine one single player to cover him. One thing is certain, though, he is way too fast to be covered by a linebacker.

This is why this task involves almost the entire secondary, from safeties Michael Johnson and Kenny Phillips, to cornerbacks Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery. It’s important that Cooley is never lined-up against a linebacker, or we’ll get burned.


Probable Outcome

The probable outcome here, is that the Giants’ incredibly strong D-Line will get in Campbell’s face all game, and the secondary could take advantage on that. However, as Campbell is a ball protector, and does not take many risks, there will be plenty of sacks.

With the Giants D-Line wreaking havoc every play, I don’t expect LB’s Antonio Pierce, Danny Clark, and Brian Kiehl to have much difficulty stopping Portis, despite the fact that he is a very talented back.

On the Giants side, as I expect Jim Zorn to explore his good D-Line, and bring eight men to the box almost the entire game, much like the Eagles did to us in January, this can put the game on Eli Manning’s arm.

If Zorn’s strategy actually works, and the running game is hindered, I trust Manning to beat the ‘Skins.

With plenty of blitzes coming, a lot of screen passes to our running backs and the speedy wide receivers can be decisive in this game. I also expect Kevin Boss to be involved, especially in the redzone.

Now, I’m not one to predict game results, but if the Giants are able to do the tasks I pointed out, there is little chance, in the way I see it, of losing this game.

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Chad Pennington: The Ballad Of the “Golden Boy”

Published: August 5, 2009

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James Chadwick Pennington. The name alone is surrounded by grace. When talking about the football player from Knoxville, Tennessee, it is hard not to get emotional.


The more anyone reads about this 33-year-old quarterback, the more respect Pennington acquires, and rightfully so, one might add.


The man who was able to turn a 1-15 Miami Dolphins team into the AFC East Champions in one season never ceases to amaze me.


Taking a look back into his early years, it has never come easy for Pennington.


While in high school, he was only recruited by two colleges, both from the 1-AA. Nonetheless, Chad took part of a training camp in Marshall University, and displaying solid play, was offered a scholarship.


Then, in college, more hard work helped Chad go from initially being a fourth stringer to the starting role at week one of his freshman season. After redshirting his sophomore year, Pennington went back to the starting job and had record-breaking seasons.


Having Randy Moss as his No. 1 target, he led the Thundering Herd to a 13-0 season in his senior year, earning the nickname “The Golden Boy”. He gave the same effort in the classroom as well, graduating with a degree in journalism with a 3.83 GPA.


After being drafted by the New York Jets in the 2000 Draft, Pennington was only able to start after two seasons, replacing Vinny Testaverde in week five of 2002, and posted a career high 104.1 QB rating in what was his first year as the starter.


The type of potential the “Golden Boy” displayed was almost too good to be true.


However, as previously sated, nothing ever came easy for Chad Pennington.


Enduring nagging injuries in his left hand and right shoulder, Chad struggled until 2006. That was the first time he started all 16 games of a season.


After earning the Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2006, Pennington would get injured again in 2007, this time with a high ankle sprain, and end up losing his starting job to Kellen Clemens.


As anyone would expect, he faced his demotion with nothing less than class and grace. While never hiding his wishes to be the starter, Pennington never complained, and even helped Kellen Clemens to progress as a quarterback.


The turning point came in the 2008 offseason.


After trading for Brett Favre, the Jets released Chad Pennington in August. Following some speculation involving the Vikings, Pennington ended up in Miami.


However, once again, Pennington would have to compete for the starting position on a team that had one win in 2007.


This is when the magic started. Upon landing the starter position, Pennington was able to lead the Dolphins to a 11-5 record, winning the AFC East Crown.


During his brief tenure with the Dolphins, Pennington has shone, and proved to be the leader every team looks for. An extremely hard-working player, Chad did everything possible to become the best player he could be.


His habits became famous and inspired his teammates. Things like 6 a.m. game tape sessions and weekly meetings with his linemen to work on chemistry are good examples of his superb leadership traits.


However, as repetitive as it may sound, nothing comes easy for Chad Pennington.


Even after posting a brilliant season that gave him the Comeback Player of the Year Award again, as well as being the runner-up in the league MVP voting, Pennington is still seen as a short-term solution for the Dolphins.


After such brilliant play and in a clutch time for the franchisewhich was coming out of a 1-15 recordone would expect Pennington to be anointed the franchise player, the cornerstone of the team.


Still, entering his final contract year, Chad has no extension, no expectations after 2009, and is very aware, mostly because his head coach proclaims it on a daily basis, that he is to be replaced for second year player Chad Henne.


So what does he do? What is Pennington’s reaction to being seen as place holder?


He maintains his class and remains silent, and moreover, he actually works harder.


On a move that shocked and inspired his teammates, Chad started his personal offseason conditioning program on Feb. 4, only a few weeks after his season was over.


On a number of times, the quarterback called his wide receivers for private throwing sessions to keep up their timing. And, as the ultimate example of the kind of impact Chad has had on this team, everyone needs to know about what happened June 4, 2009.


This day, No. 10 hosted a barbecue at his place. While he simply invited “the team”, and gave them the directions, something incredible, not to mention improbable, took place.


There was full attendance. That’s right, every single player of the team showed up in Pennington’s house.


In the words of wide receiver Greg Camarillo, “It’s really difficult to get all of the different social groups to gather in the same place…It was the kind of thing a college team would do. Everybody respects Chad, and everybody respects what he’s trying to do for this team.


To sum up just what a warrior this guy is, I cite the text message he sent his personal trainer in the first day of the Dolphins 2009 training camp: “I crushed the conditioning. We did it”.


For a 33-year-old, entering his 10th season, to have that kind of enthusiasm is somewhat amazing.


The result of all his hard work came when Pennington sprinted a 40-yard-dash in the same 4.8 seconds and weighed the same 230 pounds with the same 13 percent body fat that he did as a rookie 10 years ago. He is, once again, in the best shape of his life.


Throughout the entire year, Pennington had a phrase for whenever he grew tired: “January in Miami.”


The kind of effort Pennington put in to becoming a better player allows one to easily reach the conclusion that, as long as Miami has this “Golden Boy” leading the huddle, “January in Miami” will become a regular time and venue for large gatherings of people at the Dolphin Stadium region.

Eli Manning and New York Giants Agree on a Six Year Deal Worth $97 Million

Published: August 5, 2009

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Eli Manning has agreed to a new six-year, $97 million contract extension with the New York Giants, which makes him the highest paid player in the NFL, with an average salary of roughly $15.3 million.

According to people close to the deal, Manning is guaranteed $35 million under the deal that will keep him with the Giants through the 2015 season.

There is a chance the deal could be signed today (Wednesday), but apparently both sides want to fully review the contract first.

Although Eli Manning will be the league’s highest paid player, this is still far from the $120 million everyone was talking about, which will surely create some cap room in the future (if there is a salary cap).

This is very good news, as the Giants have no more pending issues to be addressed before the season, just football from here on.

New York Giants’ 2009 Offense: Expect a Three Wide Receiver Tandem

Published: July 24, 2009

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After a few millions of articles written about the Giants’ wide receiver corps, including a handful elaborated by yours truly, this article presents a new perspective to the matter.


I have always defended that the Giants should use more short passes, even inquiring if we really needed a big time wide receiver. Adding to the point, I have been a keen supporter of the Giants’ current wide receiver corps.


Furthermore, there is the fact that I have defended all year long (and before that, as a matter of fact) that Eli Manning is going to step up brilliantly for the Giants.


Where is the new perspective?”, one might ask, but to reach it, I actually needed to bring all of this to the table.


Entering a milestone year, this offense is up against a great amount of pressure. Most previews highlight the fact that the level of play of these receivers will determine the outcome of the season.


As a preacher of the short, high percentage passes, spread field, and three or four wide receivers sets, while worrying about whether Kevin Gillbride would implement this type of passing scheme, I have actually overlooked the big picture.


So, what exactly is the “big picture“? Well, the big picture is exactly that. The Giants will grant my wishes (not that my opinion was consulted, but who cares?).


While drafting Hakeem Nicks, who fit the Giants like a glove, Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin placed this offense in a position of doing exactly what I have been brainstorming about all year.


With the addition of NFL ready talent and big play ability in Nicks, as well as a great red zone target in Ramses Barden, the number of play possibilities reach the sky.


Not to forget Sinorice Moss and “Super” Mario Manningham, who will both be given legitimate shots to show their real value in this league, and the probable day one starters, Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith, who are poised to have breakout years of their own.


By now, you are probably still thinking, “Yeah, I know that, but where is the new perspective?“, so here it comes.


With so many targets, most of which still unproven, the odds are that all receivers will be given significant playing time, at least until it’s clear who should be on the field every downs, who will emerge as a legitimate threat for Manning to use.


That being said, albeit not knowing who will step up, Coughlin has set the tone for a three wide receiver tandem.


Steve Smith has surfaced as Manning’s favorite target, thus, he will probably see even more balls thrown his way, and, with his amazing hands and crisp route-running ability, he will probably produce very well, moving the chains for Big Blue.


Domenik Hixon is back, his fifth NFL season, and now he had an entire offseason to prepare for stepping into the No. 1 WR spot. With blazing speed and excellent vision, I see Hixon hanging onto his job, and being very effective, while at it.


Now, with the above mentioned two receivers as the projected starters, what comes to mind next, is: “What about Hakeem Nicks?”. This is why Coughlin and Gilbride will use more three and four wide sets this year.


The physicality Nicks brings to the table is unique on this team. His routes are perfectly run, and his hands are in the “cream-of-the-crop” category. The skill set Nicks brings to the table is powerful, which makes it pretty hard to keep him off the field.


Moreover, there is the fact that, if the Giants’ brass did not believe in Nicks’ ability to make  an immediate impact, they would have never drafted him in the first round.


Why? Simple, with the need to replace one of the best athletes in the league, the Giants chose this path for a reason.


Reese could have gone with a trade, snatching Anquan Boldin or Braylon Edwards, or even trade up in the draft, (remember that we had 10 picks this year), but still, they went with Nicks.


I’m not one for making bold predictions, but here comes one: Smith, Hixon, and Nicks will combine for more than 2,500 receiving yards in 2009.


Disagree? Than go ahead and tell me why.

The NFL Offseason for Football Junkies

Published: July 20, 2009

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Football is, no doubt, the greatest sport in the world. The aggressiveness attached to it is phenomenal, and the emotions a fan can feel while watching a football game are just incomparable.


The quality and appeal of the sport leads to a huge fan base, and, as in any other thing of such dimension, a few junkies, who basically live to follow/play/discuss/write about the game.


So when the football season is over, these football junkies enter a series of steps that guide their lives emotionally through the next eight months.



Step One—Denial


When the Super Bowl ends, these junkies are usually in a frenzy of adrenaline that keeps them from realizing that football season is over, and they will have to wait eight months for the NFL to start again.


On Monday morning, when they wake up and avoid facing that tough fact, instead fooling themselves by thinking that the Pro Bowl is still to come, and therefore football is not over yet.


This step ends usually midway through the Pro Bowl, when they realize this game is worth nothing and they indeed have to wait eight months to watch real football again.



Step Two—Anger


Once football junkies accept the fact there’s “no football for the next semester,” a sense of sadness and awareness take over. At first they get nostalgic over the season that just came to an end, but past a few weeks, the anger starts to take over.


The absence of football is just too much to take. This is usually the time when these guys start tackling random people. Like “Hi honey, I missed you so much… BOOM!!” the girlfriend is down.


These guys get so desperate that they even try to watch Arena Football, but this only irritates them more, and the tackling of random people reaches its peak.


This step usually comes to an end around the start of the free agency period.



Step Three—Anxiety


After around a month of free agency signings to cover, and the NFL Draft to occupy their minds, an urging feeling of anxiety blossoms. At this point, all these guys want is to see their teams play.


They’ve already done their homework, thinking of solutions for their teams (and for all the other 31 teams, as a matter of fact), and studied all there is to know about their rookies and free agent signings, and are now extremely hungry for football.


This anxiety is unstoppable, and there are not enough old NFL games to bring calmness to the junkies’ minds. When the teams start their training camps, while they keep busy, the anxiety kicks up even more.


The end of this phase is always in the first weekend of August.



Step Four—Relief


The preseason has started. Although nothing is at stake, at least the teams are playing, and the rookies and backups are trying to show their value, so the anxiety is relieved.


The problems begin around after the second week of preseason. The starting QBs plays less now, as do the starting running backs. Although there is enough action to keep everyone busy, it isn’t real football.


The anxiety kicks up in the week before the start of the season, leading to the end of Step Four.



Step Five—Redemption


Football season has began, and now it’s nothing but sheer joy of the game. An overdose of adrenaline and testosterone on a weekly basis. This is the time of the year when football junkies usually carry a silly smirk around.


When people ask, “What are you smiling about?” they don’t even know how to answer, as it is too complicated.


The only problem of this phase is that it ends every year, and, thus, us football addicts enter this sick cycle carousel all over again…

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