Friday, July 31, 2009

The Podcast Strikes Back!

With training camps getting underway around the league, Will and Jake return for another round of football chatter. This week, two-time champion of the duo's fantasy football league, die-hard Giants fan & devout Communist, Eugene joins the show.

The crew talks Vick, Favre, Burress & Pierce, and much more, and delve into Giants territory at last, as they explore some key position battles for the Big Blue heading into camp. Click the player below to listen to the show, or download it for your listening convenience.

The show continues to develop and will continue to evolve as the weeks progress. Listeners' feedback and comments are encouraged, and we hope you'll spread the word!

You can leave your suggestions in the comments section below or e-mail your thoughts to Giants' Steps!

Stay is just days away!

(Don't forget to vote in the latest poll! *See middle column)

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Top 5 Giants Off-Season Storylines

With a sour taste still lingering after a promising season to repeat as Super Bowl Champions faded and fizzled down the stretch, the chance at redemption for the New York Giants is fast approaching.

Training camp opens in Albany in just 8 days. With notable departures, key returns, and some big-time acquisitions, the Giants have had an active off-season. Giants’ Steps TV examines the team’s five biggest story lines of the 2009 Off-season.

Counting Down

5) The Departure of Derrick Ward – Losing a 1,000 yard rusher is never insignificant, but with the Giants’ talented stable of young running backs, someone will be up for the challenge. Who will rise to the occasion in 2009?

4) Bill Sheridan takes over for “Spags” – No coaching transition is ever guaranteed to be smooth, whether the scheme remains the same or not. The former Giants’ LB coach takes the reins as Defensive Coordinator for the first time, and will look to continue Steve Spagnuolo’s championship-caliber defensive scheme.

3) Free Agent Arrivals – Several offseason additions have laid the groundwork for a deep, aggressive and relentless Giant defense in 2009. Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard give the Giants formidable depth along the defensive line, while Michael injects a pass rushing threat and athletic pass defense capability to the line-backing corps.

2) Welcome Back – #72 Osi Umenyiora returns from injury to give the Giants the premier defensive end tandem in the NFL alongside fellow Pro-Bowler Justin Tuck. Opposing QBs better hope that field is extra soft when they play the Giants...

1) Filling Plaxico’s Shoes – The struggles of the Giants passing attack last season following the departure of Burress have led many to question how the remaining Giants wide receivers can have a better showing in 2009. Young veterans Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon will look to shoulder a bigger role, while other young guns Sinorice Moss, Mario Manningham, and rookies Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden, will look to establish themselves as viable targets for Eli QB Manning.

It's going to be a big year for the Big Blue. How these stories play out will have a major impact on the shape and performance of the team in 2009.

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Check out the Giants’ Steps podcast in the near sidebar, under the header “The Show.” And cast your vote in the latest Giants’ Steps poll!

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Friday, July 24, 2009

The Giants' Steps Podcast Hits the Airwaves!

The inaugural podcast on Giants' Steps landed in cyberspace in the wee hours of Friday morning, on the final weekend before training camps open around the league. The Giants' Steps crew, Will and Jake, were joined by YouTube trash-talking impresario, TuckDaBeast for the flag ship show.

Click the player below to listen to the episode or download it for your listening convenience. The treacherous trio examines the week's NFL headlines, breaks down some of the off-season's biggest stories, and discusses who they think were the winners, losers and notable teams from this rapidly concluding off-season.

To listen to episodes of the podcast at any time, look for the green-tinted widget in the middle column immediately to the right. It's directly under the GSTV window and Google search bar.

After just one episode, the show is in its infancy and will undoubtedly evolve as the weeks progress. Listeners' feedback and comments are encouraged! Priority #1 is to decide on a name...

You can leave your suggestions in the comments section below or e-mail your thoughts to Giants' Steps!

Stay tuned to the blog over the weekend for more...

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Giants’ Tweets, Podcast Launch, and "19-0" Revisited

A quick announcement at the halfway point of what feels like a very slow week: the Giants’ Steps blog is now on Twitter! You can keep track of the latest blog posts, GSTV videos and – by the weekend – Giants’ Steps podcasts on the Giants’ Steps twitter page.

You can also find periodic tweets about blog and non-blog matters…assuming I get over the absurdity of using “tweet” as a verb to describe human action. Come on, admit it. It sounds ridiculous…

Speaking of the podcast, we’re recording the pilot episode on Thursday night. Depending on the number of technical difficulties, it should be live by Friday. I’ll know more as the podcasting hour approaches.

And finally, as I tweeted this morning (ugh…see?), I saw a guy on the subway today wearing an elusive New England Patriots “Super Bowl XLII Champions” hat, with “19-0” and “Perfect!” embroidered on the front. It made me reflect on just how phenomenal New England’s season was that year. 16-0 in the regular season is incredible, no matter how you slice it, and worthy of recognition.

For me though, when it comes to football, “perfection” isn’t defined by the numbers, the records or the statistics… It’s defined by effort, by dedication, by intensity, and by the unyielding will and ability to win.

The 2007 New York Giants did not win all of their games, and probably no Giants team ever will. But on that February evening in the Arizona desert, they put forth an effort that removed “19-0” from the history books and placed it on the discount rack for said subway passenger - and novelty hat fans - to enjoy.

Big Blue's Super Bowl XLII Champion hat does not say it, but that is still “Perfect!”

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Steps Returns: The Top 5 Offseason Story Lines

As the long cold winter that is the NFL off-season approaches its end, it is time for the Giants’ Steps blog to come out of hibernation. With training camp just a few weeks away, NFL players are getting in their last few weeks of vacation, family time, and, hopefully, some pain-free living. I, meanwhile, am trying to shake off the blog rust, prepare the site for the coming campaign, and locate my web cam for season two of GSTV

This year, I’m hoping to expand and diversify coverage on the blog as we go through training camp into the 2009 regular season. Devotees (all half dozen of you) will notice a revamped look. It's a work-in-process, however I'm trying to make the blog a little cleaner and easier to get around. There is a new layout, along with a fly new banner. I’m also attempting to relocate the site to a new URL.

These aesthetic changes are meant to embody a new start for the blog. Regular posts, GSTV webisodes and fan polls will continue, but I am hoping to introduce some primary content this year as well, with player interviews and (possibly) some direct coverage from training camp in Albany. The biggest addition will be the Giants’ Steps Podcast, which will break down each week’s Giants and general NFL news. Episode One should be online by late next week.

Counting Down

As the blog gets ready for the upcoming season, I wanted to set the table for 2009’s coverage with a look at the top five storylines that I think will have the biggest impact on how the coming season will play out. The list is not based on the profile of any one particular player or team, but simply on which factors could have the biggest bearing on who hoists the Lombardi Trophy next February. Let’s count ’em down…

5) T.O. gone from Dallas: There are many intriguing stories in the NFC East this off-season, not the least of which being how the Giants will replace Plaxico Burress. In the end however, I think the release of T.O. will have the greatest impact on the playoff picture in the NFC's toughest division.

Dallas struggled last year with injuries and locker room divisions. Having seemingly overcome both issues in the off-season, at the expense of losing one of the team’s biggest talents, the onus falls on Tony Romo, Roy Williams and company to return the team to 2008 form. The Cowboys’ ability to do so could have a dramatic effect on who and how many teams from "the Beast" are in the playoff picture come January.

4) Jay Cutler traded to Chicago: It’s extremely rare to see a franchise quarterback traded. It’s even rarer to see a franchise quarterback playing for the Bears. But the arrival of the former Denver QB to the Windy City injects intrigue to the NFC North and has the potential to shake up the playoff picture. With a bright draft class, some young offensive weapons in Greg Olsen and Matt Forte, and the addition of veteran LT Orlando Pace, the Bears might be a surprise team in 2009.


3) Favre’s Annual Retirement Shuffle: Swing a new team dosey-do! With new stories circling in the media every few days, it would seem Favre’s third comeback – this time to the Vikings – is only a matter of time. Number 4 wants to return to football, but judging from ESPN’s coverage, he needs to mow his lawn a few more times and attend a few more workouts at the local high school before he commits to the purple and gold. The hall-of-famer would certainly provide the missing piece to an already strong team, and could take the defending NFC North champs deep in the playoffs in 2009.

2) 11 Teams Have New Coaches: Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, New York, Oakland, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa Bay. An unprecedented 11 teams will start the 2009 season with a different coach than they started with in 2008. Mike Singletary and Tom Cable attempt to build on what they started midway through last year with their respective teams. Jim Mora succeeds Mike Holmgren in Seattle and Jim Caldwell succeeds Tony Dungy in Indianapolis. Seven other teams went back to the drawing board.

Such a dramatic turn-around could really mix things up this year. Obviously, the Lions, Chiefs, Rams and Raiders probably won’t do too much, but what if the always-reliable Colts struggle to fend off a young and talented division under their new staff? What if Jim Mora can’t command his rejuvenated Seahawks squad with the same success as his predecessor? How will guys like Rex Ryan and Eric Mangini fare with their seemingly up-and-coming teams?

I believe such a dramatic coaching turnover will yield some surprising results when the dust settles at the end of the year.

1) Return of Brady: Finally, when the best player in the league returns to a team one year removed from the Super Bowl, which still managed to go 11- 5 in his absence, the result is pretty apparent. By all accounts, Brady is looking strong in offseason workouts. While it typically takes more than a season to fully recover from a knee injury like his (look at Donovan McNabb), barring any unforeseen setbacks, the QB’s return should have a major affect on the AFC playoff picture, and potentially, the Super Bowl.

Tick, Tock

So that’s the view from mid-July. Certainly, there are a number of other off-season story lines playing out as we head into training camp, but I believe these five will prove to be the most significant in influencing who vies for Super Bowl XLIV. In any event, I can't wait until August roles around.

Let me know what you think are the biggest stories heading into training camp! You can leave a comment below or post a video response to the preview on GSTV.

Can’t wait to get this show on the road!
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One more thing...I would like to acknowledge the passing of QB Steve McNair. As a fan, I will always remember his toughness, fortitude and leadership. His one Super Bowl appearance was one of the greatest games I've ever seen. It's a shame his life had to be cut so tragically short, and my thoughts go out to his family and friends. RIP Steve...

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