Tag:kenny phillips
Posted on: November 21, 2008 1:24 am
Edited on: November 21, 2008 1:36 am

NY Giants "Things To Do" list for Sunday Nov 23rd

Warner and Boldin and Fitzgerald - Oh, My!


Arizona passing game may be Giants biggest challenge yet

It's been mentioned in more than a few articles that Kurt Warner will want to make a statement against his former team. Let's get something straight; The Giants are Warner's "former team" in the same sense that Jason Alexander is Britney Spears "former" husband. Before hooking up with K-Fed, Britney spent a weekend in vegas getting inehbriated and marrying a slightly more attractive guy than the 'Jason Alexander' you're probably thinking of. The marriage lasted a whopping 55 hours. It's nothing that sticks in the forefront of pop culture; it's something that happened a while back, and once in a blue moon you may remember it - like "Oh yeah, that's right - I remember now...". Something so meaningless to the current landscape that it's been pushed aside. A footnote - forgotten. 

Well that's sort of similar to the feeling Giants fans have about Kurt Warner. It may as well have been Kurt Russell under center for the first nine games of that season. Even after winning five of his first seven games, Eli Manning was given the starting job after some poor performances by Warner . Tom Coughlin after the season went just short of questioning the signing of Warner two months after trading for Eli on the day of the draft. No one in the Giants community felt it was anything more than a bridge to Eli's readiness, and many of us felt it was a questionable decision at best. Coughlin did admit  that starting the season with Warner was probably a mistake. Coughlin said he should have played Manning in week 1 so he could gain confidence and experience right out of the gate. In 2005, Warner signed with Arizona, and with 3rd year wideout Anquan Boldin on one side, and the previous year's 3rd overall pick Larry Fitzgerald on the other side - Warner revitalized his career. 

As it all turned out, Benching Warner for Manning in week 10 of the 2004 season was the best thing for both quarterbacks.

Even now when I think back on the beating Warner took in that last season with the Rams... as Mike Martz watched from the sidelines, waiting for the right moment to name Bulger the starter as he'd planned to all along just for the sake of public relations - still infuriates me. I'm inclined to think that one of the furthest things form Warner's mind right now is "proving" anything to the Giants. He wasn't mistreated in New York like he was in St. Louis - he new the deal going in. The only thing on Kurt's mind right now is 8-3. He wasnt the division title and wants the playoffs. I'm happy for Kurt Warner. Kurt's always struck me a stand-up guy and a true professional, and I hope he has continued success with Arizona. Just not this week.

Arizona can clinch the NFC West with a victory on Sunday, and the Giants just happen to be the the team standing  in his way. If the Giants' gameplan week by week has been to take away the oppositions' key player (Frank Gore, Brian Westbrook, Ben Roethlisberger), then they'll be tripling their efforts this week. It will have to start with Warner at it's core, but Boldin and Fitzgerald can inflict a lot of damage with even a few complete passes.

THINGS TO DO on Sunday, November 23rd: 

1. Rattle Kurt's Cage: Ok, so Arizona is a passing team and not a running team. We know that. Whatever their philosophy is, the Cardinals are averaging 86 yards a game on the ground, and are dead last in the NFL with 3.4 yards per carry.  Any way you slice it, those numbers indicate that the Cards have a subpar offensive line, and the running game (while not being completely ignored) will not be the Giants main area of concern. The Cardinals pass protection has been pretty good of late, with the bulk of the 18 sacks they've allowed coming at the beginning of the year. Steve Spagnuolo will need to find creative ways to get to Warner without using his secondary. Arizona will score points, and they may score many of them in the early going. Spagnuolo will have to be diligent and keep after Warner, because the first part of the battle will be wearing down the o-line, the second half of the battle will be blasting through the o-line and pounding Warner.  Kurt can't be dropped just a few times; he'll need to be under constant pressue and picking a lot of grass out of his facemask for it to have an affect on him.

2. Get physical with #11 and #81: Boldin and Fitzgerald will be without question the toughest, most talented and best prepared pair of wide receivers the Giants secondary will face this year. And it won't be the likes of Brad Johnson, Donovan McNabb or Joe Flacco throwing to them - it'll be a seasoned veteran they've built major report with. As the saying goes, they won't be able to stop them - they can only hope to contain them (which in and of itself will be a feat). The more physical Aaron Ross and Corey Webster can get at the line the better off they'll be. Providing a cushion to those guys is only delaying the inevitable, so getting in their faces and disrupting some of their timing while the line attempts to pressure Warner is really the only hope they'll have in keeping the scoring down. Safeties Kenny Phillips and Michael Johnson will be backing them up, and have to attack at the point of release. It's a risky proposition, but they cannot allow the underneath completions they did last week with Flacco, or the week prior with McNabb. Boldin and Fitzgerald will be a blur to them once they have the ball tucked in their guts.  

3. Prepare for a shootout: More than likely, simply having the ball longer than the Cardinals won't work. In fact, in all but two games so far Arizona has dominated time of possession. The only two games they lost that battle were against (oddly enough) the Cowboys and Redskins - two NFC East teams. The Giants will undoubtedly look to continue that trend, but since the Cardinals can put 7 on the scoreboard faster than anyone,  Eli Manning will have to be able to strike back with downfield passes - and that's something he hasn't had to do a whole lot of this season (he hasn't thrown for over 200 yards since week 4). The Giants are certainly capable of putting points on the board, and the running game with or without Brandon Jacobs will play a big part in that as always. But this matchup screams of an air show. Manning won't be under pressure to outgun Warner, but I will predict that if he's to hit the 300-yard plateau at any time this season, this will be the time. He just might need to for the Giants to win this one.


Sources: sportsline.com, pro-football-reference.com, nysun.com

Posted on: October 30, 2008 2:45 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2008 11:54 pm

Giants 2008 Draft Progress Report

"You've gotta find a way to get out of your own way so you can progress in life" - Steve Carlton

I thought a quote from a Phillies Hall of Famer would be appropriate on this day. So, in anticipation of the pain that will shoot up my spine and into the walls of my chest cavity, let me say... Congratulations to the Philadelphia Phillies and all their fans. You *gulp* deserve it. 

Every Giants fan knows the success the 2007 draft has afforded us. By week 15 of last season (in Buffalo) we started to see the special qualities of the players selected in Jerry Reese's first draft as General Manager, and the immediate forces they could be for this team:

1st round - Aaron Ross
2nd round -Steve Smith
3rd round - Jay Alford
4th round - Zak DeOssie
5th round - Kevin Boss
6th round - Adam Koets
7th round - Michael Johnson
7th round - Ahmad Bradshaw

Only Koets (Kareem McKenzie's backup at right tackle) has yet to have a real opportunity to play. Alford is doing a great job as the long snapper (the importance of which we now realize of due to the unfortunate injury to Greg Warren in Pittsburgh last week) and has made his presence known on the defensive line as well (remember the sack on Tom Brady during the final drive of the Super Bowl?). DeOssie and Bradshaw have been key contibutors on Special teams, not to mention Bradshaw's "Fire" as the third member of the most powerful running game in the league. Johnson and Ross are starters in the secondary, and despite Ross' up and down performance this year are better at their roles than those who previously filled those slots. Steve Smith leads the team in receptions this year, and along with Boss was a major part of Eli Manning's passing game in the playoffs last year.

So how is the class of 2008 looking so far? It's much too early to know - or predict - the impact these players will eventually have. But still, it is the half-way point of the season, and now is a good time to see where each player stands, and whether or not expectations should be high - or guarded.

 Round 1 (#32) - Kenny Phillips (FS) Miami: The only reason Phillips is not starting is because Michael Johnson has performed adequately so far this season. Johnson showed flashes of play-making ability during the playoffs last year, and has not made crucial mistakes that would force Tom Coughlin to make a permanent switch to Phillips. But Phillips was drafted for the express purpose of replacing Gibril Wilson, who was lost via free agency to the Raiders. Kenny Phillips is an extremely intelligent player; he rarely misses an assignment and seems to be in on every play. Recognizing his ability, Steve Spagnuolo has made more of an effort to include Phillips in multiple formations to get him out on the field. Week by week, Phillips is getting more playing time. He's a hard hitting safety that - at 6'2", 215 pounds - has the ability to out-muscle bigger receivers. He has shown he can cover the middle of the field, and is effective beyond his experience in blitz packages. His combination of awareness and speed to get to the ball and punish opposing players is already evident. It won't be long before Spagnuolo gives him the majority of playing time over Johnson.

 Round 2 (#63) - Terrell Thomas (CB) USC: Disappointingly, Thomas has not had much of an opportunity to show us what he's got. He was inactive for the first four games with a hamstring injury. Since joining the lineup, he's registered 4 tackles in three games. He hasn't been in the Giants defensive mix, and heading into Sunday's game with the Steelers was sitting behind Ross, Cory Webster and Kevin Dockery on the depth chart. With Dockery now out for a few weeks with a fractured vertebra, Thomas may see a significant increase in playing time - especially in nickle packages. I say "may see an increase in playing time"  because Coughlin and Spagnuolo will be looking at Thomas, as well as veterans R.W. McQuarters and Sam Madison this week in practice before determining how they'll cover Dockery's absence.

 Round 3 (#95) - Mario Manningham (WR) Michigan: The third round selection of Manningham was a gamble with the potential for enormous upside. Manningham had been projected as a first rounder at the start of the 2007 NCAA season; surgery for a partially torn MCL in 2006 and a run in with police involving vicodin pills not prescribed to him had teams concerned. After admitting to testing posititve for marijuana at Michigan just before the draft, his stock plummeted. With facing the eventual retirement of Amani Toomer, the slow progress of Sinorice Moss and the ticking time bomb that is Plaxico Burress, the Giants rolled the dice. Manningham suffered a quad injury in preseason, and one thing after another has kept him sidelined. Manningham recovered form a stomach virus just in time for the Seattle Seahawks game on October 5th - his one catch for six yards in that game is his only reception of the year. Late in the third quarter against the Steelers last week, Manningham was pegged for a bubble screen that should have gone for big yardage; Manningham dropped the pass. All in all, it's hard to determine Manningham's place in this offense; remember that last year that Steve Smith appeared in just four games and had a total of eight receptions before becoming Manning's go-to guy in the playoffs. At some point Manningham has to stay healthy and be ready to play every week. The ticky-tack injuries that are just enough to sideline him could be clouding a bigger issue - like the level of confidence his coaches actually have in him. Until Manningham is consistently available to play, we may not get a true read on Tom Coughlin's esteem for him.

 Round 4 (#123) - Bryan Kehl (OLB) Brigham Young: Drafted for his speed, agressive hitting style and instinct, Kehl started the season on special teams and shortly thereafter began splitting time on the weak side with Gerris Wilkinson. Wilkinson's ability to cover receivers brings a much needed dimension to the linebacking corps. The Giants traditionally get killed over the middle of the field by tight ends, and Wilkinson has helped soften the blow of losing Kawika Mitchell. The knock on Gerris is the same concern they had for Kehl when they drafted him - the ability to disengage from blockers. Over the last four games, Kehl's efforts to seperate from blocks is noticeable, but he seems to be relying on his instincts to be more proactive as plays develop. In other words, his understanding of where the play is headed before getting tied up is where he's finding success - his play in Pittsburgh (4 tackles, 1 INT) was evidence of that. It should be interesting to see how Spagnola handles things when Wilkinson returns from his knee injury in a week or two.

Round 5 (#165) - Jonathan Goff (ILB) Vanderbilt: Goff suffered a fractured vertebra in the preseason opener, and has seen very little action since returning for the week 6 game against the 49ers. In what little playing time he's had, Goff seems to be playing catch-up - not yet used to the speed of the NFL. The injury may still be in the back of his mind, as he seems slow in joining plays. Like Manningham and Thomas, We'll know more about Goff when he has more playing time under his belt. With Antonio Pierce and Chase Blackburn at inside linebacker, there'll be no reason for them to rush Goff into a more extensive role.

 Round 6 (#198) - Andre'  Woodson (QB) Kentucky: A three year starter and twice "All-Conference" honoree in college, Woodson was selected in the last round of the draft. He then became a casualty of the last round of cuts by the Giants in meeting the 53-man roster limit. Woodson has since been signed - dropped - and (just this past Tuesday) re-signed to the team's practice squad. Unless something were to happen to Manning or David Carr, Woodson will not see the Giants sideline this season. According to reports, Woodson - who had once been talked about as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate - has a long way to go before being considered an NFL caliber Quarterback.

 Compensatory pick (#199): Robert Henderson (DE) Southern Miss: Released on August 9th.

References: Giants.com ;  sportsline.com ;  michiganzone.com : Ralph Vacchiano - New York Daily News

Posted on: October 4, 2008 6:00 pm

Giants to do list: Sunday 10/5

1. Offense: Exploit the Secondary: Seatles Defensive line is formidable, allowing just 88 yards rushing per game. Granted, the last two games were against the 49ers and Rams, but both of those struggling teams have A-list talent running backs. Brandon Jacobs' strength happens to be running between the tackles, but it seems like Kevin Gilbride has been swinging him to the outside an awful lot in the first half. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are 25th in the league against the pass - allowing 226 yards a game (again, against weak offensive teams - including Trent Edwards, who won't be confused for Dan Fouts). If Eli Manning were ever going to have a 350+ yard afternoon this should be it; the Seattle secondary is riddled with injury (Marcus Trufant continues to play with a broken bone in his hand, Kelly Jennings will be returning to action after breaking a rib) and doesn't have the speed to contend should Gilbride send out 3 or 4 receivers - even without Plaxico in the lineup. 

2. Defense: Stop Julius Jones: Steve Spagnola should expect a heavy dose of Orange Julius on Sunday (they're right... NOTHING rhymes with "orange"). He's broken out two straight 100 yard games and is really finding the holes his line creates for him. Despite the expected returns of Deion Branch and Bobby Engram, Aaron Pierce & Co. should be focusing on Jones and stopping the running game. I would expect with the extra week off that Spagnola will start working Kenny Phillips into the starting lineup, and Matt Hasselbeck's been struglging this season (60.1 passer rating) with finding open targets. Seattle will look to neutralize the Giants passing attack by trying to win time of possesion.

3. Special Teams: No "Mc"Quarters: R.W. McQuarters will play Sunday, but New York would be wise to rest him and allow Domenik Hixon to continue returning punts. Let's face it: He's younger and faster, more dynamic. He makes something out of nothing and is a legitimate threat everytime he touches the ball. And anyone can call for a fair catch when there's 20 yards of open field in front of him. Maybe he's the only one who can do it without fumbling?

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com