Tag:mathias kiwanuka
Posted on: January 20, 2009 11:13 am
Edited on: January 20, 2009 1:35 pm

Spags to Riches; Sheridan hired to replace Steve

Giants will enter '09 season with the loss of another defensive leader, with the conviction that his replacement will carry on continuity. 

                                                                                                                      Steve Spagnuolo is introduced as the New Head Coach of the St. Louis Rams on Monday 1/19/09

Michael Strahan's retirement after the Super Bowl and Osi Umenyiora's season ending injury left many Giants fans bracing for the impact it would have on the 2008 season... the performances of Mathias Kiwanuka & Justin Tuck during the 2008 season left many Giants fans wondering why they were so concerned in the first place, yet feeling a bit cheated in knowing that the mere presence of a Umenyiora or Strahan on the field could have been the extra push needed to get over the hump.

Here we go again.

Everyone knew this day would come. I'm sure that Giants fans - myself included - held out hope that the plethora of head coaching job openings would fill up quickly and leave Steve Spagnuolo in their wake, forcing him to wait it out just one more year. It wasn't to be, and Rams owner Chip Rosenbloom has secured himself a talented football mind and solid human being. To be perfectly honest, Spags deserves this; I wish him the best of everything in his new role (except of course when he faces the Giants).

St. Louis' gain is the Giants loss, but Spagnuolo leaves a very special gift behind as he leaves New York. His influence on this team will reap benefits for years to come, and what his presence in this organization has meant to players like Justin Tuck, Fred Robbins, Kiwanuka and Umenyiora cannot be overstated. In 2006, the Giants were the 26th ranked defense in the league under coordinator Tim Lewis. In just two short years, Spagnuolo instilled his system and work ethic in the fabric of each and every member of the Giants defense, and he's responsible for returning them to the ranks of NFL prominence as one of the most cohesive and successful units in the league.  

Now we look ahead to 2009. Tom Coughlin has named Bill Sheridan as Spagnuolo's successor. It's been reported that Dom Capers - Coughlin's former defensive coordinator in Jacksonville - was among his considerations, but that Sheridan was always number one on the list of candidates (Capers has since taken that same post with the Green Bay Packers). To understand what Coughlin sees in Bill Sheridan, look no further that the fact that Spagnuolo would have hired Sheridan to be his defensive coordinator in St. Louis had the Giants granted Sheridan permission to even discuss it with Spags. Sheridan was asked to wait until the Giants were able to solidify their own coaching staff needs.

A Detroit native, Sheridan (49) played linebacker at De La Salle High School and Grand Valley State University. He has a pretty healthy resume, mostly on the collegiate level dating back to the mid 1980's. Over a 12-year span between 1992 and 2004, he coached at Army, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Michigan. Sheridan was primarily a linebackers and defensive line coach in that time, but also served as a special teams and defensive backs coach. He also gained in-depth knowledge of the recruiting process at the University of Michigan as the school's recruitment coordinator for two years, where his classes were rated among the top 10 in the nation.

As the Giants linebackers coach since 2005, Sheridan has grown adept at coping with injuries and working with players that had to shift positions.  Carlos Emmons, Reggie Torbor, LaVar Arrington, Brandon Short, Roman Phifer - all former Giants linebackers that rotated in and out of the lineup over the last three years with injury problems. Even with all of those issues on the table, Sheridan managed to work closely with former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Kawika Mitchell to integrate him into pass rushing schemes, resulting in Mitchell's highest single season sack totals last year. Sheridan also played a major role in the development of  Antonio Pierce, who's performance had been inconsistent prior to signing with New York as a free agent in 2005.

Pierce was an undrafted free agent signed by the Washington Redskins in 2001, where he spent four seasons in and out of the starting lineup. His best season came in 2004, when Pierce started in all 16 games replacing the injured Micheal Barrow - he signed on with the Giants the following season, and was one of the few injury-free players Sheridan could rely on over the last three years. Sheridan was also a key factor in helping Kiwanuka transition from defensive end to strongside linebacker for the 2007 season, where Kiwanuka registered 4.5 sacks and 47 tackles in 9 games before breaking his leg in week 11 against the Lions when - oddly enough - Osi Umenyiora fell on him while tackling Detroit running back Kevin Jones.

So now we wait for the 2009 season, where we'll find out just how much of Steve Spagnuolo's residue sticks to Bill Sheridan and the New York Giants defense.

"It's obviously a proven, excellent system that Steve brought from Philadelphia..." Sheridan said in a Giants team statement released on Monday. "You're obviously going to have a slightly different tint to it, because you have a different coordinator and will get different input from whoever Tom brings in from outside to complete the staff. But the system is in place and there's a tremendous comfort level with the players."

Tom Coughlin added, "We won 26 games here in the last two years..." Coughlin added. "...there is an inclination when that happens that you would stay within. Continuity is important to me, but the strength of staff is important, too. We've lost Steve, our coordinator, but it takes many, many people to be successful and to function properly... I want to keep the continuity, I want the players to know that the fact they have performed to a high level the last two years is, in a way, being rewarded. One of the coaches from the staff has been elevated to the coordinator's role and the terminology will stay the same."

Staying within... I like the way that feels. And Spagnoulo wanted Sheridan to join him in St. Louis, which - for now - is good enough for me.


References: giants.com, nydailynews.com (Ralph Vacchiano - staff writer), nfl.com  -  Giants Statement: Associated Press

Posted on: November 29, 2008 8:24 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2008 8:51 pm

NY Giants "Things to Do" List for Sunday Nov 30th

Plax takes one in the Slacks

Hixon starts tomorrow and beyond; Kiwanuka won't retaliate for "dirty play"

The Latin Quarter - a night club on Lexington avenue in the heart of midtown Manhattan - advertises on it's website that on Friday nights you can come down and party with "Sportsmen Galore'. After Plaxico Burress' visit this past Friday, they might consider changing that headline to "Sporstmen and Gore".

Burress apparently shot himself in the leg through his pants pocket outside of the club around 1:00 in the morning. There's still no definitive word on hs condition, but initial reports on WFAN 660 and ESPN Radio this morning said the injury was not "life threatening", and Burress was released from the hospital this afternoon. A statement from the New York Giants front office released earlier today provides no further mention of his condition:

"We are aware of the fact that Plaxico was involved in an apparent accidental shooting last night. We have been in contact with Plaxico since shortly after the incident. Plaxico suffered a wound to his right thigh. Obviously, our primary concern is for Plaxico’s health and well-being, and given the circumstances, we are relieved to say he was released from a New York City hospital at approximately 2 p.m. today. We have been in touch with NFL Security on this matter. At this point, we are attempting to gather all the facts surrounding this incident. This incident could become a matter for law enforcement officials, and because of that, we have no comment on any of the details."

I guess the silver lining in this whole situation (besides the fact that it seems Plaxico will be fine) is that this was a freak accident in a public place rather than something he did - say - in the privacy of his own home; and that it wasn't a shot to a part of the body above his waist. Could you imagine the speculation in the press and throughout the NFL community if that were the case? As if they weren't already questioning his mental stability... In any event, fans hope that Burress will be OK and can recover in time to contribute during the team's run towards the playoffs.

Speaking of the team, and purely from an X's and O's perspective, it's a good thing that Plaxico hasn't been a consistent or reliable presence on the field. Eli Manning has built quite a report with Domenik Hixon this year, and the offense shouldn't miss a beat. It's hard to figure out how the team will handle this come Sunday afternoon; Over the last two seasons, coach Tom Coughlin has been a master at keeping his players focused and preparing them for each game regardless of the distractions surrounding them. For the long term, General Manager Jerry Reese needs to heavily consider whether or not Burress remains a part of the Giants organization after the 2008 season.

On a lighter note, Mathias Kiwanuka is looking forward to his matchup on the line Sunday with Washington Redskins LT Chris Samuels. Really looking forward to it. Kiwanuka was quoted in Saturday's Newsday as calling Samuel's final play on opening night a "dirty play". Kiwanuka said "That was the last image I had, the last play, the last image I had for the whole game. So yeah, it'll be in the back of my mind". Kiwanuka is referring to Samuels' tackle from behind on September 4th; On the last play, Kiwanuka had beaten Samuels and was rushing QB Jason Campbell from his blind side. As he was falling forward, Samuels wrapped his arms around Kiwanuka's ankles as his belly hit the ground. Kiwanuka was tripped up as the game ended, and got up limping. The most frustrating part was the fact that the network was wrapping up their coverage so quickly, they didn't show Kiwanuka walk off the field, nor mention the fact that he appeared injured...

All turned out well, of course. Now being 11 games into the season and considering where the Giants are in the NFC standings, it feels like a lifetime ago as I recall the lump in my throat as I watched Mathias hobble off the field. Remember, we had only lost Osi Umenyiora for the season just two weeks earlier in a preseason game against the Jets. Despite his emotions after that game, Kiwanuka says he'll keep his cool, "I'm not going to do anything stupid".


1. Reestablish the running game. Redskins starting linebacker Marcus Washington is out with an ankle injury; linebacker London Fletcher and defensive end Andre Carter have both missed practice this week with foot injuries. After being limited to 87 yards and 3.2 yards a carry last week in Arizona, this is a prime opportunity for the Giants to get the rushing attack back in business. Brandon Jacobs will play, but how much he'll play depends on how that knee is feeling when he wakes up Sunday morning. If there's even a hint of swelling or tenderness, Coughlin will limit his playing time. Derick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw are likely to see increased carries regardless.

2. Keep Portis under 100. Clinton Portis leads the NFL in rushing with 1,206 yards, despite running on a bad knee for the better part of the past 2 months. In week 1, the Giants held CP to 84 yards, and his average per rush that night was his second-lowest of the season. As I've mentioned in previous articles, coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has been terrific at keying on the opposition's biggest threat and shutting it down. The key this week is Clinton Portis, and while I'm not usually one to buy into an individual player's "numbers" as they releate to their teams' record, Portis' ability to run the ball is especially important to the Redskins success. In 2008, the Skins are 5-1 when Portis tops the century mark, and 2-3 when he doesn't. One thing to be concerned about is the availability of DT Fred Robbins, who's nursing a shoulder injury and is listed as questionable. If Robbins is unable to go, Jay Alford will start in his place.

3. Watch out for Chris Cooley. The only other tight end that seems to decimate the Giants defense besides the Cowboys' Jason Witten is Washington's #47. Cooley has only 1 touchdown this season, but has 60 receptions - which ties him for 9th in the NFL. Cooley is one of the most versatile receivers in the game; he can beat you with the soft, over-the-middle grabs for 8-10 yards, or he can beat you deep. He's the most valuable receiver on the team; he acts as Campbell's safety valve when deep targets Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El are covered, while providing another weapon in short yardage situations to counteract Portis, which keeps defenses off balance. Linebackers Antonio Pierce, Danny Clark, Chase Blackburn and Bryan Kehl will be responsible for Cooley's whereabouts.



Kiwanuka quotes: Newsday "Notes & Quotes" by Tom Rock   /   Giants statement: cbsnews.com    /    Stats: nj.com & sportsline


Posted on: October 1, 2008 8:21 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2008 11:55 pm

Seahawks/Giants preview: No more needling NY

Let's acknowledge the elephant in the room, and then show him the door.

There was a blogger on a Seahawks fan page that posted some sick stuff about NY. There's plenty of places to access this info so I won't dignify it anymore. Enough said - Topsy, its time for you to leave now. Hmm... that wasn't a pleasant reference either (if interested, search "Topsy" / "Coney Island". I have to warn you, it's a sad story).

OK then, on to this week's game.

The Seahawks have not been kind to the G-Men recently. Their last two meetings took place at Qwest Field, and the results were - how do I put this - humiliating. In 2005, a matchup billed as the fight for NFC dominance, Jay Feely lost his New York priviledges with three botched field goals. In 2006, three Eli Manning INT's helped Seattle jump out to a 32-point halftime lead that Big blue would not recover from.

Things are different in 2008. Eli is now a Super Bowl MVP, which in the game of professional QB unlocks confidence and respect. Special features correspondent Tiki Barber is out - Earth, Wind and Fire are in. Matt Hasselbeck is a little older, a little slower; Shaun Alexander is selling pennants by the wading pool in Volunteer Park, and the Giants somehow find themselves in an unfamiliar place called "the upper echelon"

Plaxico Burress won't play Sunday's game at the Meadowlnads, since it will be day 13 of a 14-day suspension handed to him by Coach Coughlin. Burress' no-show act ticked off Coughlin enough to roll the dice and sit him out this week. Let's hope this isn't a sign of things to come for Plax - because the Giants will use him like "Plax": they'll swish him around in their jaws for a while then spit him out (see Jeremy Shockey).  He's a vital part of this offense, and half of the most prolific 1-2 TD punch in the NFL over last two years. The Giants can't afford to lose him, but certainly won't hesitate to pull the trigger. I'll officially be concerned if the NFL's probe into alleged domestic violence incidents over the summer involving Burress (that he apparently forgot to inform the league about) lead to another fine and suspension. The good news is that second year running back Danny Ware may have some time off pretty soon, and perhaps could keep him company. Hit a couple of college football games.

I know, I know. I'm a Giants blogger - why am I writing like an Eagles troll? Sorry, but I call it as I see it and it's what you get. The Giants are all about standards, baby. Shape up or ship out (again, see Jeremy Shockey). As a Giants fan I expect a little more from my guys. Any Giants fan should.

Reports indicate that Mathias Kiwanuka's ankle is still bothering him, and the bye week couldn't have come at a better time. I remember watching Chris Samules wrap his arms around MaKi's ankles like he was hugging his favorite teddy bear on the very last play of the season opener. MaKi got up limping, and of course I assume the worst. Apparently there's still some pain and swelling in the left ankle, but it hasn't kept him off the field. One observation; the Giants have 13 sacks in their first three games, but Kiwanuka has only one of them. And that's not because they're double-teaming him instead of Justin Tuck.

The Giants D will have it's hands full this week \with the Seattle running game. The Seahawks are 2nd in the league in rushing, averaging 160 yards per game. Julius Jones is the reason for the resurgance of the seattle ground attack - JJ has found new life in the north despite sharing the spotlight with former Falcons / Redskins / Lions bulldozer T.J. Duckett. At least it's something JJ is accustomed to, but Duckett is no Marion Barber. Jones has taken the leadership role in this tandem and has been, umm... DYNO-MITE! Sorry, I couldn't help myself.  

As for Elisabeth Hasselbeck's brother-in-law, He's sporting a whopping 60.1 passer rating (hey, they blast Eli for this useless stat all the time!) with a 48% completion rate. By the way, I should have mentioned that he hasn't had his two favorite wide receivers, Deion Branch ( anterior cruciate ligament surgery back in February) and Bobby Engram (broken shoulder). As luck would have it, we'll have the pleasure of watching these fine men make their 2008 debut this Sunday, since both have stated they'll be ready for the Giants game. I suspect their timing with Hasselbeck will be slightly off, but don't be surprised if Branch plays a big role in this game.

Since I've been a little tough on No. 8, I'll give him a little hit for his website: http://www.matthasselbeck.com/

See you after the game on Sunday - Go Giants!

DICK LYNCH (1936 - 2008) - Giants Cornerback from 1959 to 1966; announcer on Giants radio broadcasts from 1967 to 2008. Lynch passed away last week at his home in Douglaston, Queens. He was a beloved member of the NFL community and will forever be a New York Giant. Like fellow New York broadcasting legend Ralph Kiner, he spent his last few years in the booth struggling to find his words. Being cynical by nature with a twisted sense of humor, I had a good chuckle each time Mr. Lynch would stop talking in the middle of a story and never finish it. Or would correct himself if he said the wrong player's name an hour after the fact. In the case of Raloh Kiner, I didn't realize how much I'd miss his presence in the booth when he was gone. I know I'll feel the same about Dick Lynch. As usual, I won't realize how I should have appreciated the man before it was too late.


Statistical sources: sportsline.com, seahawks.com, giants.com, pro-football-reference.com, matthasselbeck.com

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