Posted on: September 22, 2009 12:23 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2009 12:24 pm

Life with Coherence, Interference & Perseverance:

Mario Manningham, 'Apocalypse Now' & Temporary Relief

You didn't quite expect it... so when it actually happens, you don't know how to respond.

Anyone familiar with the old HBO comedy series Dream On can relate to my perpetual state of being, and the pop-culture references my brain will conjure up to find parallels between real-life goings on and my favorite movie or TV moments my conciuosness has sopped up over the years like an electronic wave decoding sponge. This was the case on my way home from work this past Friday, where it happened to me again; and usually, two collected thoughts will not stand alone in the rattling cage between my ears without at least a third slipping between the bars... when somehow a busy weekend on the horizon melded with The New York Giants receiving corps and the film Apocalypse Now.
Does this at all sound familiar? It's been a long week at work, you're beat. You just want to relax at home and be left alone. But of course, there's a wedding that night that you're already late for - for a couple you don't know or really care for, and surely you won't know anyone else who's attending so you'll become quite friendly with the bartender very quickly. Then there's that "project" in the yard you've avoided all summer should be done Saturday morning because in the afternoon you have to drive the kids to dance class and a soccer game. Later on it's a birthday party at "Toss-A-Cookie" or another of the quaint little inforr playgrounds where the screams of children could drown out the sound of an CH-46 Sea Knight flying overhead. And don't even consider resting Saturday night because you just found out you're hosting the in-laws for dinner.

Sunday is the day to "finally clean out that storage room", fix little odd and ends and "discuss" your family budget (and why you have to stop spending money - don't you have enough XBOX 360 games?) . You'll try to catch some NFL action between here and there but you know you'll be lucky if you can catch a few radio minutes in the car on your way to-and-from the hardware store. Of course, you'll only hear the end of the pregame show, then the end of first quarter break and some mindless banter to fill time while the trainers help some special teams guy off the field - never once giving a score. You park, open the front door and Disney Channel is on your television. The only thing harder than pulling a guy away from a tv when football is on is taking back control of the remote when your kids are watching High School Musical 3: Sing Along version for the third time.

This is what you have to look forward to as you park in front of your house. First you scrape the curb with your tires a few times, then you get the angle just right. Turn the ignition off to the auxiliary position - because whatever blah-blah is on the radio is enough of an excuse to keep you in the car for just a few more minutes. Delay the inevitable.

Then the vision... I suddenly turn into Dream On's Martin Tupper... and now I'm Martin Sheen... I'm Captain Willard in one of my all-time favorite cinematic classics Apocalypse Now...

As if the voices punching through my speakers and getting absorbed into the seat upholstery were G.D> Spradlin and Harrison Ford themselves...  I start walking to the front door as the walkway takes on the shape and feel of the Nung River running up into Cambodia. 

My overly talkitive and extremely uncomfortable next door neighbor is wearing a cowboy hat; standing at an angle with both hands on his hips, he couldn't care less that I'm not even listening to him as he begins to run through his list of crap he's got going on this weekend. He's Colonel Kilgore... he's shirtless, and he's wearing that stupid hat and I'm not listening to a single word he says.
Why? Because the jungle thickens and the sunlight begins to disappear as I make my way to the front door... Pretty soon I'll be in the house.

Colonel Kurtz is waiting for me. I can visualize the conversation already.

"Hey honey - I'm home"

"...Are you an assassin?"

"I'm... I'm your husband."

"You're neither. Your a grocery clerk. My hired hand for the weekend... who's going to miss the Giants game on Sunday"

"Umm, no? I told Lance that if I wasn't back at the boat by sundown to call in the air strike..."

"What are you talking about? Who the hell is Lance?"

"Never Mind. Did we get mail? I need reading material, have to hit the bathroom . Be out in an hour or so."

You walk in, put your bag down... there's a note on the table.


Well, well, well... I grab the spatula out of the drain and whack myself on the forehead... nope, not dreaming. 

"C'mon! That never happens!". Of course it doesn't, but it's nice to dream isn't it?

Now we come to this season's New York Football Giants, and the . Much like an wide open, no strings attached weekend that's just been thrust upon you, you start to feel relieved; you have nothing to worry about, and you sit there wondering how lucky you are. Why? It's not because you have this weight lifted off your shoulders, or that all the things you've wasted precious time stressing about have apparently vanished into thin air.

No, the most amazing thing is that you never thought you'd live to see the day.

So what do you do? How do you harness this new-found zest?

Right - you don't. Why? Because you and I both know you'll spend the entire time wondering when the phone will ring.

"Hi, It's me  - the kids were bored so they wanted to come home. Let's have a GARAGE SALE on Sunday!!"  

"Well, I uh..."

"Super - how does noon to 6 sound? We can invite my family over for dinner afterwards. Wanna Barbecue?"

Lets look at what we know so far about the Giants:
Eli Manning - despite a pick and a few ill-advised throws - has been as close to perfect as one could expect, and as always he's cool and comfortable when the clock is ticking down and the game's on the line.

Except for the injury to Justin Tuck (thanks to the normally disciplined Flozell Adams), the D-Line is in tact and better than ever. The Secondary is doing a decent job despite missing the services of Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery - thanks largely in part to the outstanding play of safety Kenny Phillips, who is pushing through despite a knee injury. "Earth" and "Fire" will get untracked soon enough.

No Toomer, No Burress... no problems at wide receiver. Mario manningham has been a revelation, already beginning to look every bit like the "steal of the draft" as many referred to him following his 3rd round selection in 2008. Steve Smith has remained mr. consistent, and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride is smartly utilizing him as a slot receiver, where he's most comfortable. It's only a few games, but the roles of these two playerws are starting to materialize and define themselves within the game plan, and Eli Manning seems confident in their ability to make the plays they need to.

But when will that phone call come? 

Will the dream be shattered? When will the big drop occur? When will these two seemingly reliable receivers become the "number 2's" everyone has tabbed them as? The New Orleans Saints in week 6? Next week against the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Maybe. Maybe not. This is unfamiliar territory for both Eli and for the receivers.

Regardless, here the Giants are at 2-0, off to another solid start under coach Tom Coughlin. The boat is creaky and the river is wide as it is murky. Up the river we go to face our destiny - Manning is driving the boat, Coughlin is our confident yet strict captain Willard, and Manningham is surfing the waves while Plaxico Burress is locked up tight in a bamboo cage in the rain, waiting for someone to offer hom a drag off their cigarette in the form of a second chance in the NFL. What will this 2009-2010 mission into the darkness of the jungle, the unpredictable nature of a 16-game season, have in store for the men in blue?

Nobody knows. This is a different this season, and a different set of circumstances. In the end I think the only two things I could ever hope for - a free weekend all to myself, and an enjoyable season from the Giants that I can walk away from with pride - whether it be in December or february. As guarded optimism goes, I'm stocked up. 

For now, all I have is a house full of sleeping children and a sleeping wife. The lights are all off except the flicker of the televison, and I've just stumbled upon Apocalypse Now already in progress. The darkness of Colonel Kurtz's lair is lit only by the hazy sunlight splitting through the mouth of the cave. A tired, broken Captain Willard sits with his head dangling in defeat, while Dennis Hopper's popped up, deranged photo journalist rambles on about anything he can wrap his mind around. As I listen to Hopper's voice cut the soupy air like a buzz saw, I hear the scripted words that all football fans can relate to in thinking about how they DON'T want history to remember their team's 2009-2010 season:

"This is the way it ends, man! Not with a bang but with a whimper. And with a whimper - I'm f***ing splitting, Jack!"

Posted on: August 6, 2009 7:48 pm
Edited on: August 7, 2009 2:57 pm

"10" Reasons for $97 Million

                               "Manning Up" for the QB   

For all those opposed, don't worry; your guy will get his.
And his contract will be bigger than Eli's (having Eli to thank for it). 

Let's get one thing straight right now... Eli Manning is by no stretch of the imagination as talented, battle tested or proven as his older brother (even though he'll be paying the dinner checks from now on) or Tom Brady. He lacks the raw tools and athleticism of Drew Brees. Many will argue he's not as gutsy, talented or tough as Ben Roethlisberger, Donovan McNabb or Tony Romo either.

Here's my take on six years and $97 million: He's worth every penny. Why?

1. Because he's managed to avoid flipping over his motorcycle handlebars and crashing head-first into a windshield. He's also avoided getting wrapped up in a rape accusation. Perhaps luck plays a big part in that. I'll take someone who makes their own good luck.

2. Because his face appears in 'Oreo League' Ads, Toyota & Reebok commercials, as well as fundraising campaigns for The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Phoenix House, The Red Cross and his own cause - The Eli Manning Children’s Clinics. And because he doesn't appear on the covers of Star Magazine, People, OK, US and The National Enquirer - or as a weekly stunt on TMZ.com - about how he's dumping 'this' pop-star girlfriend for 'that' actress girlfriend or 'the other' who's-that-girl girlfriend.

3. Because he has yet to openly display contempt for teammates or his coaching staff - regardless of whether he's agreed with them or not. He's never once complained about the lack of having a legitimate "number one" reciever (since the only one he's ever had has either been less than 100% healthy, serving a suspension or in bed recovering from self-inflicted gunshot wounds).

4. Because he has arguably put up with more scrutiny and criticism than any other QB in the NFL today without being able to use age, racial discrimination or injuries as a "crutch" - and as much by his own fan base than that of the rest of the league, despite popular belief. On the contrary; the last name 'Manning' has been nothing more than a mountain this guy has had to climb since the day he was drafted.

And Every one of the other Quarterbacks mentioned above - talented and deserving, one and all - will eventually sign bigger and better contracts than the one Eli just signed. Sans McNabb perhaps; unfortunately for Donovan, father time might have something to say about that.  

And when that comes to pass - for most in the NFL universe - the stars will once again be aligned as they should be. "Shoot - if he's making that much? You just know I gotta be worth THIS much..."

For now, the Giants Organization will simply enjoy the eclipse. And try not to look directly into the balance sheets.

By the way - here's the other 6 reasons he's worth every penny: 

5. January 2nd, 2004 - Giants 28, Dallas 24.
With Big Blue down 24-21 with just 11 seconds left in the game, Rookie QB Eli Manning comes to the line and looks at the Dallas defensive alignment. He pulls up from under center and audibles. In subsequent press conferences, coach Tom Coughlin will admit that a pass play had been called for - which Dallas must have anticipated. Instead, Eli hands off to Tiki Barber, who scampers three yards up the middle for a touchdown.

6. October 23rd, 2005 - Giants 24, Broncos 23.
Manning's first monsterous regular-season comeback victory. For the second week in a row - and the third time in the 13 starts in his career - Manning engineers a victory out of the jaws of defeat on the final drive of the game. With the Giants losing by 13 with 12 minutes left in the game, Eli spearheads - not one - but two touchdown drives, and Big Blue pulls out the improbably victory at the Meadowlands on an Amani Toomer game-winning score with 5 ticks left in the 4th quarter.

7. September 17th, 2006 – Giants 30, Eagles 24.
This was a huge 4th quarter performance for #10. Down 24-7 at the start of the fourth quarter, Manning engineers his biggest rally - and has the best statistical game of his career (31 for 45, 371 yards, three TDs) - to tie the game with a field goal drive in the final seconds. A 31-yard pass to Plaxico Burress late in overtime sealed the victory - with two Eagles defenders bearing down on him and knocking him flat on his back just as he released the ball.

8. December 2nd, 2007 – Giants 21, Bears 16.
With their season slipping away, the Giants trailed 16-7 before scoring twice in the final 6:54. Manning shakes off three awful quarters of football by throwing a 6-yard touchdown pass to Amani Toomer
to cap a 75-yard drive and close the gap to 16-14. After a Bears punt, Manning executed a 77-yard drive - including a 24-yard pass to David Tyree and a 15-yarder to Plaxico Burress that put the ball on the 2 - which culminated in a Droughns TD run with 1:33 remaining.

9. January 13th, 2008 – Giants 21, Cowboys 17.
This technically was a fourth-quarter comeback, but not really. No matter, as Manning connected on two TD passes to Amani Toomer, and steered an early 4th quarter scoring drive that proved to be the game winner (trailing 17-14, Brandon Jacobs’ stumbled into the end zone on a 1-yard touchdown run just over 2 minutes into the fourth quarter). Manning’s best moment was the touchdown drive in the final seconds of the first half. All of a sudden, Tony Romo went from being the next great QB of the NFL to a great big question mark; Vacations with girlfriends and sobbing wide receivers aside, Eli Manning played well enough to leave his cleat marks on the backside of the Dallas Organization - which would have been the most any Giants fan could have hoped for coming into the 2007 season. That is, until... 

10. February 3rd, 2008 – Giants 17, Patriots 14.

Down 14-10 with 2:39 to go against the 18-0 New England Patriots - with NFL immortality on the line and all the decks stacked against him - Eli Manning took over on his own 17-yard line… 

 "OK Eli... tell me right now. What did you do with your brother's contract?"

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: November 5, 2008 2:33 pm
Edited on: November 7, 2008 12:44 am

New York Giants 2nd Quarter Report Card - Offense

Big midterm exam vs. Eagles counts heavily towards final Grade

 1. An NFL teams' _____________ is directly proportionate to its _____________.

O  credibility; win-loss record

focus; discipline

O  overall ability; individual accountability

rushing success; offensive lines' performance

All of the above

Click on this link for Defense & Special teams report cards: http://www.sportsline.com/mcc/blogs

At the halfway point of the season, the Giants are 7-1 and find themselves on top of the very competitive NFC East. Despite Monday night's lackluster performance against the Ben Roethlisberger-less Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington (6-3) is going to be a force in the division along with Philadelphia (5-3) and Dallas (5-4), who is crackling with anticipation at the likely return of QB Tony Romo just in time to save their season - and potentially a few jobs. 

Most pundits, analysts and commentators have declared that as many as three of the four NFC East teams should make the postseason. The road to the NFC East Title, however, is paved with land mines and pockets of quicksand. Make no mistake about it - that's the road these four teams are going to be looking up on 'MapQuest'. The land mines are the divisional matchups taking place between now and December 28th - 7 games between the four teams to be exact - waiting to pick each other off one by one as they head towards January. Anyone who suffers a blow by tripping one of those landmines will undoubtedly find their way into a pocket of quicksand - in the form of a crushing defeat at the hands of non-divisional teams such as Arizona, Minnesota or Carolina - that will seal the deal for them and shut the door on a playoff berth. These obstacles, trap doors and explosives are merely tests - tests that impact the final regular season grades these NFC East teams hope propell them into the postseason. 

With these tests looming straight ahead, there isn't much study time. Not enough time to go over everything there is to know. The big midterm exam for the New York Giants is this Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field. The first half of the year has shown us where the strengths are, and where the areas of concern might be. This is a crunch-fest - a good ol' fashion cramming - a time to have faith in what's worked consistently (what we know) and focus more on what hasn't worked consistently (what we don't know). Grades of "A" or "B+" signify what the Giants should feel comfortable in answering correctly, but a grade of  "B" or below means they need to crack the books if they hope to lock down a playoff spot.  


OFFENSIVE LINE:  A  ( last quarter - A+ ) Masters Seubert, Diehl, O'Hara, Snee and McKenzie - This unit continues to be the backbone of the team. The successes of the defensive line are more glamorous, more noticeable; the D-line and O-Line have contributed equally to the teams' ability to control the battle of field position and time of possession week in, week out. The Giants have slipped to 2nd in the league in rushing offense (behind Atlanta), but by only 6 yards with 26 fewer rushing attempts. New York still leads the league in average per rush, and are 2nd to Baltimore with 72 rushing 1st downs. They have also provided excellent pass protection; despite giving up four sacks to Dallas last week, they're ranked 5th overall having only allowed 10 sacks on Eli Manning in 8 games. Philly will be the third tough matchup in a row for this O-line - it will be interesting to see how they perform.      

QUARTERBACKS:  B  ( last quarter - A ) Eli Manning was sporting a 99.7 passer rating after the first four games, with 6 TD's and 1 INT. He's since dropped 10 points in rating, down to 89.7 and has 6 TD's and 4 INT's over the last four games. Whereas manning appeared to be seeing the field better and not telegraphing his passes early on, he started off this grading period with a bad outing against Cleveland (which accounted for 3 of his 4 INT's) and an unimpressive performance against San Francisco - where he was lucky he wasn't picked off three more times. Of course, the disruptions of the Plaxico Burress situation haven't helped matters. In Cleveland - the first game following Plaxico's suspension - it was very obvious that Manning was forcing the ball to Burress, which was a mistake. Last week against the Cowboys, Manning's sideline pass intended for Burress was intercepted for a TD by Mike Jenkins. Just as obvious was the sense that Burress broke his route and expecting Manning to follow his lead downfield when it was too late. The dropsies have also plagued certain Giants, most notably Burress along with FB Madison Hedgecock and Brandon Jacobs out of the backfield. But drops and distractions aren't to blame for Manning's questionable performances - his ability to scan the field and avoid throwing into danger is. Since he was able to play with more focus and awareness in the Pittsburgh & Dallas games, it looks like he may be moving in the right direction. Let's see what happens in Philadelphia.  

RUNNING BACKS:  A+  ( last quarter - A In the 1st quarter report card, I made the statement that it's hard to determine sometimes how much of the actual work Earth, Wind and Fire does, and how much of it is a byproduct of the ability of the Giants O-line. As the season moves forward the running backs and the line will get tired; a few more bumps and bruises with emerge. Brandon Jacobs has been the workhorse for the squad carrying 66 times for 300 yards (4.5 YPA) with 4 TD's in the last four games, and has taken the bulk of abuse from opposing defenses. That said, the contributions Derrick Ward has made to the offense has been arguably the most valuable. In that same 4-game span, Ward has 39 carries for 220 yards (5.6 YPA) with a TD, but added 12 receptions for 120 yards. The difference in their running styles, speed and skillset has kept opposing defenses on their heels. Jacobs still needs to improve his nose for finding the gaps, as he still tends to run directly into piles from time to time. The reason for the increase in grade to A+ has more to do with Kevin Gilbride's recognition of this tandem's possibilities; their ability to remain effective at their roles without fighting for playing time, and the impact it has on the offense as a whole.

RECEIVERS:  B+  ( last quarter - B )  Mr. Burress will be held accountable for his own actions, and will no longer affect the grade for the rest of the students. Therefore he will be graded seperately from here on out. 

Stop the presses - there's been a Kevin Boss sighting. In the last two games, against their toughest opponents, Boss has 7 receptions for 64 yards. Whether they kept him on the line to hone his blocking skills or he's simply running crisper routes, Boss is starting to rebuild that report with Manning they had during last year's playoffs. Steve Smith has become the primary target for Manning with 21 receptions for over 200 yards in the last four games. While the yardage might seem low, it's due to Eli spreading the wealth to include other's - like veteran Amani Toomer (who seems to make at least one incredible catch every week), Derrick Ward, Domenick Hixon and now Boss. The weak link for the passing game is the backfield (minus Ward). Jacobs and Hedgecock have combined for 8 catches and 9 drops. 

Plaxico Burress: D-  Plaxico is a disruptive young man who is pushing his coaches and teammates to the point of no return. Since his last report card Plaxico has run poor routes, missed a mandatory therapy session, has yelled at both his head coach and quarterback on the sidelines and has had very little overall impact on the offense with the exception of demanding defensive respect by sheer virtue of his presence. Here's the cold, hard fact: The Giants don't need Plaxico as badly as once thought.

Would they, I, and every other Giants fan prefer to have Plaxico? Absolutely. Would his loss be devistating? Maybe, maybe not... his skills and raw talent, his toughness are all undisputed. His route running ability -  once his strong suit - is now questionable. They need a receiver like Plaxico Burress, but they don't need this. How long will Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese continue to put up with his tirades and dismissal of team policies? If the Giants continue to win while Burress averages 30 yards a game, it won't be for long. Besides, Mario Manningham is waiting in the wings to take his place in more ways than one.


Stats courtesy of sportsline.comnfl.com


Posted on: November 2, 2008 9:50 pm
Edited on: November 3, 2008 10:28 am

Recap: Giants 35, Cowboys 14

D-Town Beat Down

No Romo, no cornerbacks, no contest as Giants roll to 7-1


For those who sit in the red and blue seats of the Meadowlands, a matchup with the Cowboys can churn up both the glow of optimism and the worst of anxieties. From a Giants perspective, you couldn't have asked for a better outcome; from the first possession it was clear that the Giants were not going to look past this game to next week's prime time matchup with Philadelphia. The running game was back in top form, as the three-headed monster rumbled for 200 yards and averaged 5.9 yards per carry. The defense picked up where it left off last week in Pittsburgh, swarming the pocket and making life miserable for the Dallas quarterbacks (yes, I said quarterbacks) while the secondary continued it's penchant for nabbing interceptions. And despite some Eli Manning turnovers, the passing game was sharp - especially in the red zone.

What's lost in this victory - at least from the point of view of a Giants fan - is the sheer satisfaction of dominating the Dallas Cowboys. It's no secret to either fan base the hatred each shares for the other organization. And yet a 21-point victory left very little above and beyond the "W" itself and the assurance that the Giants are playing as sound and complete a game as they ever have. Because a 35-14 victory against this Cowboys team is not necessarily fun. Against this Cowboys team, that sense of guarded optimism was put aside to allow that brash confidence to shine through - and the Giants delivered. This Cowboys team is truly lost. Lost without their heart and soul - #9. Lost without a defense that feels obligated to tackle and huslte. Lost without a head coach that doesn't drip with self-loathing each and every time his team takes another penalty or his quartbacks throw another pick. Dallas is obviously counting the seconds until the return of Tony Romo; one must question whether #9 even has enough to offer what his team clearly needs.

The Giants mapped out this game from the first possession. A 6:13 opening drive capped off by an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kevin Boss to put New York ahead 7-0. On the drive Manning was 5/6 for 63 yards, including a 22-yard bullet to Plaxico Burress (3 for 34) into Dallas territory that set them up for the score.

Brad Johnson managed to get Dallas to the Giants 25-yard line with a 28-yard completion to Roy Williams. On the very next play, Johnson looked to Terrell Owens over the middle but was intercepted by Corey Webster, who spun off of Owens and drifted towards the sideline, gaining 57 yards on the return down to the Dallas 27. Brooks Bollinger was now warming up on the sidelines and huddling with Jason Garrett - the change everyone was waiting for was not too far away. A little over two minutes after the Webster interception, Manning hit wide receiver Steve Smith (5 for 29 on the day) on a 5-yard touchdown to give the Giants a 14-0 lead. However, Eli Manning's next two drives would not go as well as his first two.

Early in the second quarter, Manning followed a delay of game penalty (that damned play clock again) with a fumble; while whipping his arm back to pass, he let it slip out of his grasp, untouched. DeMarcus Ware pounced on the loose ball to give Dallas possesion at the Giants 16. Two plays later, Johnson (5 of 11, 71 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT) threw over the middle to Terrell Owens for what should have been a completion. Owens (5 for 36) was popped by Antonio Pierce and Kenny Phillips, which popped the ball out of Owens grasp and onto the turf. Safety Michael Johnson recovered the loose ball to give possession back to the Giants at their own 6 yard line. After three Brandon Jacobs carries for 13 yards, Manning threw a quick shot short right intended for Burress that was intercepted by Mike Jenkins who skipped 23 yards into the Giants end zone for the score, cutting the Giants lead in half 14-7. On the play, Eli was clearly expecting Plaxico to turn left at the line and wait for the pass, but Burress shot between the defenders waving his hand in a "hit me deep" motion - kind of tough to do when the QB is already in throwing motion. Burress could be seen on the sidelines jawing at Manning; Eli had his back to him looking to the sky with sort of a "whatever, dude"  look on his face. Manning would eventually hit pay dirt again, finding Amani Toomer over the middle for an 11-yard touchdown to give the Giants a 21-7 lead at halftime.

As expected, Brooks Bollinger started the 2nd half for Dallas. His numbers were slightly more respectable (9 of 16, 63 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) but he wasn't any better off than Johnson in the pressure department. The Dallas offensive line collapsed time after time under the Giants front four, lead by Justin Tuck (2.5 sacks) and Mathias Kiwanuka (1 sack). Bollinger's second pass of the day was intercepted by James Butler, who ran it back 9 yards to the Dallas 19; two plays later, brandon Jacobs 12-yard run gave the Giants a 28-7 lead. 

Bollinger clearly provided the arm strength Wade Phillips had been longing for, and even led the 'Boys on an impressive 8:24 drive that culminated with a nice 8-yard TD pass to Terrell Owens to again trim the Giants lead in half, 28-14. The Giants would get those 7 points right back on the next drive. Brandon Jacobs topped the 100-yard mark for the third time this season with a 31-yard run (Jacobs finished the day with 117 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown). Derrick Ward took over at this point and carried the load on a 9-play, 67-yard drive that he finished off with a touchdown of his own to make it 35-14, Giants.


*A crack in the Dam? The normally stalwartly Giants offensive line allowed 4 sacks against Dallas - the most in a single game so far this season. While their run blocking remained superb, they struggled on passing plays and had trouble picking up the blitz at times.

*Butler's tangled web: Safety James Butler left the game in the third quarter with a sprained knee and didn't return. To add insult to injury, Butler - who appeared to be smiling and joking with the trainer - tripped himself up at the mouth of the tunnel as he headed in to the locker room, getting his cleat caught in the goal post netting. He tumbled forward, having to brace his fall on all fours as the trainer freed his foot from the entanglement. No word yet whether that fall exacerbated the injury.

*Ba-ba-ba, Ba-Barber ran... into a brick wall. The Giants defense was strong against the run again today, holding Marion Barber to just 54 yards on 19 carries. Barber's longest run of the day occurred in the 2nd quarter for 21 yards - which means his remaining 18 carries went for 33 yards.

*Where's Witten? Dallas tight end Jason Witten played the entire game despite suffering from a broken rib. No telling how much the rib limited him, but he finished the game without a single catch. Witten has not gone without at least one reception in a game since 2004. Perhaps the quarterback situation had a little something to do with that as well.

*17th nervous breakdown: Since returning from his 2-week suspension, Plaxico Burress has a 4-game streak going: four consecutive games where he's caused problems for his team:

1. In his return against Cleveland, he seemed to forget his routes and could not sync up with Eli Manning 

2. Against the 49ers his choice remarks towards the officials (following an admittedly weak offensive pass interference call) cost them a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. His tirade spilled over to the sidelines; Tom Coughlin yelled to Plaxico "What the hell are you doing?", to which Burress appeared to respond "Whatever the f--- I want to" along with a few more explitives.

3. Against Pittsburgh, he watched from the bench for the first 19 minutes of the game. This because he felt therapy for his neck injury wasn't necessary and decided to blow off his scheduled session on Saturday morning. Burress claimed he was unaware the treatment was mandatory.

4. Today against Dallas, Burress called an audible after the snap and blew off the designed play, resulting in an interception for a score. Then went after Eli on the sidelines.

Plaxico doesn't get it and never will. The Giants don't need him that badly. Yes, they need Plaxico - his height, his hands, his toughness and his route running ability. But they don't need this. Shockey learned that in training camp, and you wonder how long Coughlin and GM Jerry Reese will continue to put up with his crap. The Giants continue to win games while Burress has averaged 35 receiving yards per game. Heck, Sinorice Moss and Mario Manningham can put up those type of stats. Too bad Plaxico doesn't get that.


Posted on: October 17, 2008 5:54 pm

Once is a lapse, Twice is a choice

Giants can put Monday Night behind them with strong effort at home this Sunday

The title of this blog entry is making a bold suggestion; that if Tom Coughlin's troops were to come up short again this Sunday, a more prepared, more determined opponent would not be the reason why.

The old adage. On any given Sunday... But does that term really apply to every situation?

On the surface, it most certainly does. The St. Louis Rams trip to to FedEx Field last week is proof of that. Miami defeating both the Chargers and Patriots supports that statement even more. However, I've been thinking about two games the Chargers played - the Monday night affair against the New York Jets, and the New England game this past Sunday. I had no doubt whatsoever that the Chargers would win those contests, and win them big. It was based strictly on a hunch - a gut reaction to something rather than scientific breakdowns of the matchups, personnel and likely gameplanning. If I were a betting man, I would have felt comfortable with plunking down a hefty (but budgeted - in case my wife is reading this) sum on San Diego in both of those games.

Before facing the Jets, San Diego suffered a very controversial and frustrating loss to Denver. This was the game that changed Ed Hochuli's life; ruling Jay Cutler's fumble an incomplete pass. The whistle blew.  No change of possession. The Chargers went home with a thorny 39-38 loss in their side. I had no doubt that SD would come out firing against the Jets - and being the better team that's exactly what they did. Fast forward 3 weeks later, and they're trouncing a delapidated New England squad. This was following what they would consider an embarrassing performance against the revitalized - yet less talented - Miami Dolphins. What's the connection between these two games? Why was I, like so many others, so confident that these games would end up just as they did?

It wasn't because Phillip Rivers is a better QB than Brett Favre or Matt Cassel, or that Norv Turner can out-coach Mangini or Belichick. It wasn't about analysis or head-to-head stat comparisons. There are three very simple, lucid reasons - They were home, they were pissed, and they're a better team. Doesn't that just seem to make so much sense? Would they're be any other angles to look at, details to flesh out or elements to consider? A team gets embarrassed on the road. They want revenge. What else do they need to get back on track if they're home, they're pissed and they're better than who they're facing? Does this imply that preparation and focus can be tossed aside? Of course not. And why not? Right. Say it with me this time... they're home, they're pissed and they're better. Besides, the "better" is born out of preparation and focus anyway, so it's already taken care of.

This is, in fact, a Giants blog. Not that you would remember that after reading that much blah-blah about a team 3,000 miles away from New York. Hopefully you're still here, and starting to see the big picture come in to view regarding this game at The Meadowlands on Sunday (FOX @ 1:00 pm). The Niners are on a 3-game losing streak, but you can bet you're $99 NFL licensed Danny Kannel jersey (#13) that they watched that Monday night game. They watched an uninspired defense allow Cleveland full acces to downfield passes, and an uneven "new and improved" Eli Manning make bad decisions that many (including me) thought were long behind him. San Francisco needs a win. They feel the NFC West is still within reach. They're coming to Giants Stadium this weekend to get that win.

Are the New York Giants looking for that win? Try asking anyone on the team that question and they'll either laugh or growl. It's a stupid question - the kind that doesn't apply to the notion that there's no such thing. This is one that shouldn't be asked. Because it shouldn't have to be asked.

The Giants are home. The Giants are better. Are the Giants pissed? We'll know by the mid-way point of the first quarter on Sunday. There's no question they want to put Monday night behind them and show the world that they aren't that team. That Eli Manning isn't that quarterback. That yes, indeed, they're defensive line is that good. The Giants and they're fans will feel a whole lot better if they are convincing, and everyone will sleep well Sunday night knowing that what happened the first four weeks wasn't an empty promise to themselves and their faithful. No predictions, no promises. Just the question of whether or not the Giants are pissed.

It's their choice. In the next three weeks they face Pittsburgh, Dallas and Philiadelphia. Three teams that can limit choices pretty effectively.  

One more thing... Week 2 of Preseason. On August 18th the Giants humiliated their opponent at the Meadowlands. There were dropped passes and botched handoffs, and a devistating blow to their quarterback who was led by trainers to the locker room for head x-rays. Do you remember which team that was?


NY Giants Quotes for this week:

Tom Coughlin:

"We've got a lot of stuff to correct. It begins right away unfortunately. It's a short week for us, but we have a lot of things that we have to deal with and I think we'll be about the business of correcting."

" We do have to focus on a lot of things. Our formula for winning kind of went by the wayside, in terms of we haven't turned the ball over [and] we did turn it over and that's not a good thing. We didn't really effectively stop the run and that hurt us."

Eli Manning:

"From play to play, game to game, you can't think about what previously happened. Whether it is a good play or bad play, you have to move on and think about this next play or this next game and what you have to do to prepare."

"Sometimes it is harder than just saying it, but I think over the years I have learned to do that and do it well. I have put it behind us, try to learn from it, learn why those mistakes occurred and what to do next time, and I think you learn some good lessons and you never stop learning lessons at this league and whatever level, just reminders of what to do under certain situations. I think I have learned that and I am ready to play this week."

Justin Tuck:

"We don't have to wait an entire week to get back onto the field to get that taste out of our mouth"

"We didn't really show up on Monday night, we didn't like the way we lost. I'm not psychic, so I don't know but I am willing to say that you will see a different Giants team. Guys are very eager to get back on the field."


Quote Sources: Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning - New York Post (10/16/2008), Justin Tuck - New York Daily news (10/16/2008)

Posted on: October 7, 2008 10:21 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2008 11:50 pm

'Boys will be boys, Giants are Men

Rival Franchises Heading in Different Directions - Mentally.

*UPDATED 10/8/08 @ 10:40pm*

From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Wade ( pronunciation: \ˈwād \  - verb): 1. to step in or through a medium (as water) offering more resistance than air 2.  to move or proceed with difficulty or labor.

As in 'Phillips'? Listen, there's been a lot written the past two days about how the Giants are this years' Patriots, and that the Cowboys are a bunch of spoiled divas who think they've earned the right to be cocky without having proven themselves. Whether or not I believe the hype in either direction isn't important. The Giants/Cowboys rivalry is fun, exhasperating, stressful, joyus and every other conceivable emotion you can think of. It's one of the most fierce (if not the most fierce) rivalries in the NFL. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't enjoying witnessing the predicted unraveling of Terrell Owens. He's the most gifted receiver in the NFL Physically and in terms of God-given Talent. But he was short-changed in the mental stability department. He has, on his own, put himself in this situation time and time again and it's no one's fault but his own.

Problem is, his head coach is not helping the situation, and in fact may be rubbing off on others in the Dallas locker room. Coughlin and the Giants suspended Plaxico Burress for two-weeks for missing practice (albeit after 40 or 50 fines for being late) and rendered him an afterthought in their win over Seattle. Owens has been running his mouth all week about how being 20% of the offensive focus isn't enough for him. Do you think Wade Phillips had the guts to address this with him - Coach to Player? And Tony Romo apparently feels Owens "just wants to win". I understand defending your teamate (especially after TO's display of Bro-mance following last year's playoff loss to the G-Men) Romo is still young, and is arguably the best QB in the league aside from Brady and perhaps Peyton Manning. I'll be first in line to acknowledge he's still on the rise and will only get better. But his attitude toward the recent developments with #81 and his less-than-Romo performance against the Bengals this past weekend should have the Cowboys faithful scratching their 10-gallon hats.  

*UPDATE 10/7: In addition, it's being reported that cornerback Adam "Pac-Man" Jones got into an altercation with a security guard at the Joule Hotel in Dallas at 1:30 in the morning on Wednesday. This signing was a big gamble by Jerry Jones, who from here on out will be referred to as "Blackjack Jones"; not only to differentiate between he and the other two Jones's on the team, but because his motto appears to be "Hit me - Hit me - hit me again - HIT ME AGAIN!"

As both a Giant fan and official blogger who needs to maintain some level of credibility and fairness, I'll stop here ("here" being three feet over the edge of the cliff, a la Wile E. Coyote). I'll let the post game press conference quotes below speak for themselves. Since the Giants and Cowboys both struggled against the same Cincinnati team, the quotes below are taken from each of those two games. Compare the choice of words, and the sense of urgency behind them.

Following the Giants 26-23 overtime victory over the Bengals three weeks ago, Tom Coughlin made these and similar statements during his postgame press conference:

"It ended up being really the power of the will. It wasn't our best game, by any means, but we hung in there."

"Don't give me that flat stuff. We came out, it was a tough, competitive game, and we found a way to win the game. We didn't execute as well as we have been, but you have to give them a little credit for that, too. They played well. They played hard." 

"The Cincinnati Bengals are a good team. I had a sense that here is a team that was tenth in the league in ranking offensively and hadn't really gotten themselves on track and we saw them get pretty much on track today, but they also were very good on defense today. We had our hands full and we found a way to win."

"I don't care if they're 0-2 or not - they play in a tough division and they're a good team. I think that we're going to play well when the pressure's on and we'll find a way to win the game. We did that today although it was a difficult game"

Following the Cowboys 31-22 victory over the Bengals this past Sunday, Wade Phillips made these and similar statements in his postgame press conference:

"I was real happy for our guys because in close games, and games that come right down to the end, you need playmakers and you need people to come through. I thought we did that."

"We have some things we certainly need to work on. We'll try to address those."

"I think it's a concern anytime you're up 17 and somebody gets back in the game. But they didn't get back enough to win and that's the big thing."

"We would like the offense to be better, certainly right now in this game. Hopefully, next game, we will be on all cylinders. Everything is not going to be perfect every game. We've got to be consistent in some areas and we've got to improve some areas. We're going to work on those things."

"... Everybody's happy. We're all happy we won. It's hard to do in this league and we did it today."

Here are comments from Eli Manning at the press conference following the Giants/Bengals game on 9/21:

"It's just kind of a deal where we have a fight in us that when things are tough we play our best, the best comes out of us. You'd like to play at that level all the time, but sometimes it just doesn't happen. You're not in that pressure situation when everything gets - You know, people get all nervous when it gets tight at the end. Our guys seem to really relax and just do a great job making plays."

Here are comments from Tony Romo at the press conference following the Cowboys/Bengals game this past Sunday:

"I said this last year but I am sorry that I am not sorry that we won. I think that's something we have to fight around here sometimes. If you don't win pretty, it's not a positive. At the end of the year we could of won this game 40-7 or by the 9 or 10 that we did, but at the end of the year it is going to be a W. All we are trying to do is get better each step of the way. You could look pretty and go out there and everything looks magical, but it isn't going to stay that way. It's not going to be like that."


Giants quotes sources: giants.com, bigblueinteractive.com, bengals.com

Cowboys quotes sources: dallascowboys.com, bengals.com

Posted on: October 5, 2008 5:16 pm

Manning, Giants shoot down Seahawks

Hixon, Jacobs shine as G-Men start season 4-0

Coughlin & company sent a clear message to the rest of the NFL - "We ARE the champs, and I got your '6th seed in the NFC' predictions RIGHT HERE!" - in trouncing the Seahawks 44-6 at the Meadowlands Sunday. It was their largest margin of victory since defeating the Eagles 62-10 back in 1972, and puts an exclamation point on their first-place status in the NFC East.

There was no question from the git-go who was in control. On their first posession, Brandon Jacobs 44-yard run was immediately followed by Manning's 32-yard TD strike to Domenik Hixon. The Giants landed the first punch and never stopped swinging, beating up on the Seahawks 44-6. New York scored on their first six posessions, and as I had pointed out in my "Giants to do list" posting for this game, exploited the Seattle secondary early and often. In his first 7 completions, Manning connected on passes of 32, 22 and 29 yards. David Carr replaced Manning to start the fourth quarter, and even threw TD pass of his own to Sinorice Moss (yes, I said Sinorice Moss). Moss had two TD's on the day.

Manning set a personal best with 215 yards passing in the first half, and Brandon Jacobs' (15 carries, 136 yards, 2 TD) 44-yarder was his longest career run from scrimmage.

Manning got everyone into the act, especially Domenick Hixon who started in place of the suspended Plaxico Buress. Hixon had 4 catches for 102 yards and a TD before the half. He also had a nice run on an end around for 16 yards. Hixon left the game with just under 3 minutes left in the 2nd quarter after taking a shot from behind courtesy of Josh Wilson. Hixon was sitting on the ground after making a sliding catch; before he could get to his feet, Wilson came flying in and rammed Hixon in the back of his helmet. Hixon was diagnosed with a concussion, but was on the sidelines late in the game with a big smile on his face.

Giants tackle Kareem McKenzie also suffered a concussion, leaving early in the first quarter. 3rd year man Kevin Boothe filled in admirably in place of McKenzie, and held his own against Seattle lineman Patrick Kerney. In total the Giants racked up 523 yards of offense (compared to the Seahawks187), including 254 on the ground. Derrick Ward played his role as the change-of-pace back with 7 carries for 40 yards, and as become the SOP Ahmad Bradshaw took it home in the 4th quarter with 11 rushes for 65 yards. The line pushed the Seattle front four clean off the ball, clearing gaping holes all day and despite allowing a sack, Manning had nothing but time in the pocket.

Matt Hasselbeck (11 for 21, 105, 1 INT) found early success with his favorite WR's Deion Branch (3 for 31) and Bobby Engram (8 for 61), both of whom returned from injuries and played their first games of the season. Hasselbeck had really struggled in his first three outings without Branch (foot) and Engram (shoulder), but their return today had little impact on Seattle's offensive woes. Even Julius Jones (17 for 61) ran well for the most part. The Giants hit Seattle with too many haymakers early on, pinning them to the ground and stifling their offense at  just the right moments (Seattle was 1-11 on 3rd down conversions).

Thoughts and conclusions

*The Seattle defense, while problematic in the secondary, has a very strong front seven. The Giants had no trouble in the ground game today, and EWF (Earth, Wind and Fire) are obviously a force the rest of the NFL will have to worry about. Is it gauche to go out on a limb and proclaim this threesome the most dangerous running game in the league?

*Eli Manning has four games under his belt in '08 and so far we've seen no signs of those "WTF" moments. As each successful game goes by, it's getting easier to beleive that yes - in fact - his time has come.

*Plaxico Burress will not pull a Shockey: Unlike Jeremy, Plaxico will take what he witnessed on the field at the Meadowlands today and be driven to come back with a vengance and make his mark in the Giants offense. Let's just hope he finds his rolodex before his next sick day.

*It's nice to know that Lawrence Tynes will be available should anything happen to John Carney. Carney is 12-12 in FGA this season and will not be replaced unless absolutely necessary. I know the old saying - you don't lose your starting job due to injury. But this isn't exactly Phil Simms & Jeff Hostetler here.

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