Tuesday, October 27, 2009

GSTV: Thoughts on the Cardinals Game


It was a rough loss but still a fun time on Sunday night, as I attended my first ever regular season NFL game and hung out with some fellow Giants' fans from YouTube.

Unfortunately, Big Blue couldn't add that final piece to the evening with a good performance. The team instead finds itself with some work to do after suffering two consecutive losses. The g-men need to rediscover their identity before Sunday's looming showdown against the Eagles. A third straight loss could spell trouble for the Giants. A 3-0 start in the division would put us right back in the driver's seat.



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Giants 5-2
Sack Count: 16
Take-away Count: 14

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Tuesday Two-Step: Week 7 Edition

I don’t know if it’s the back-to-back losses talking, but the 2009 NFL steadily is becoming less and less exciting by the week...ok, so it's definitely the losses talking. The good teams are good, the bad teams are not, and the Giants are making it hard to determine where they fall in the pecking order with their poor performances in consecutive weeks.

Speaking of poor performances, Jake has a real job now and can’t be here this week, so it will be a short-handed Two-Step for Week 7.

Bring on the random section titles with “step” in them!

Steppenwolf!

Let's talk Week 7:

  • British fans at this year’s annual London game were outraged to discover the contest pitted two of the most loathed groups in the country’s history against each other: pirates and colonials. One fan remarked, “Oh, that’s great. Does one of them have to win? I mean really…What’s on the schedule for next year? The Catholics vs. the Prussians?!?”
  • Pressure, turnovers and points. The Steeler D remains the (black and) gold standard in the league.

LB Lamarr Woodley was one of the stars in Pittsburgh's stellar defensive performance against Minnesota.

  • On Monday, the Redskins tied a season high for most points in a half with ten. 'Nuff said...
  • Relax everyone, the Raiders are back to being terrible.
  • Gang Green got gang-banged on the injury front this week, losing the corner stone of their defense, DT Kris Jenkins, and skill position superman, RB Leon Washington, for the season.
  • Is Miles Austin the next Miles Davis? Wait…what?
  • The Dolphins wildcat offense confirms the “Green Day Rule”: when some new genre comes along, the originators do it best.
  • Who dey? Who dey? Who dey? The Bengals are 5-2…What the? What the? What the?
  • After whining like a spoiled prima donna about not being involved enough in the offense in last week’s win, Steve Smith South had 6 catches for 99 yards to go with a fat Carolina loss. Haven’t heard any complaints this week…
  • The highly anticipated clash of the Midwest titans ended up a bit of a disappointment, with Indianapolis surprisingly beating St. Louis in a blowout.

Giants Stumble

  • I can’t decide whether or not to be panicked about the inability of the defensive line to get more pressure. I’m not sure if it’s the new coordinator, the three starters coming back from knee injuries, or Canty’s absence. In any case, the team’s trademark on defense has been wanting.
  • Despite the lack of pass rush, the Giants still lead the league in total defense. Unfortunately, when the opponent starts every other possession in Giant territory, it still translates into over 20 points per game.
  • Sunday night, 2009 Eli looked like pre-2008 playoff run Eli. Anybody else wondering about that foot?
  • If they kept a stat for most games with at least one awesome play and one terrible play by a player, I think Terrell Thomas might lead the league. The guy is often great in coverage. He picked off a pass and broke up a deep ball on Sunday. He complimented that with a horrific missed tackle that resulted in an Arizona touchdown. Not the first time he's put on such a bipolar display.

CB Terrell Thomas picks off Kurt Warner in the first quarter of Sunday's loss to Arizona.

  • Monday morning, Brandon Jacobs’ picture was on the milk carton at the breakfast table. He was apparently abducted by some guy named “Kevin G.” who suffers from a mental disorder that causes him to try and mimic the high-flying passing attacks of his opponents. Police say “Kevin G.” can be identified by the trail of questionable plays he leaves strewn across a field in his wake, and by his creepy pervert moustache.
  • One last thought on the running game: I hope this “more Bradshaw” camp will keep quiet from now on. Two costly mistakes in consecutive weeks and a reduced load for Jacobs have not done much for this offense. Bradshaw is a great player, but Jacobs is a pillar of this offense and should be recognized and utilized as such.

The Top 10

1) New Orleans (6-0) (1) A huge come-from-behind win against a very good team cements the Saints’ status on top of the board.

2) Indianapolis (6-0) (2) The Colts were lucky they had two weeks to prepare for the Rams, otherwise…no, they still would’ve slaughtered St. Louis.

3) Denver (6-0) (3) The world waits with anticipation to see what horrific throwback uniform the Broncos will unveil next week.

4) Pittsburgh (5-2) (8) Told ya Jake.

5) Minnesota (6-1) (4) Another one bites the dust…

6) New England (5-2) (5) Despite back-to-back shellackings of their opponents, the Pats drop a spot to make room for the defending Super Bowl Champs.

7) Cincinnati (5-2) (9) An impressive win over the Bears earns Palmer, Benson, Ocho Cinco and co. the seventh spot this week.

8) New York Giants (5-2) (6) The Giants need to right the ship quickly before this slide becomes a plummet. A division win in Philly this week will do the trick.

9) Green Bay (4-2) (N/A) If Rodgers gets some help from his offensive line, who knows what this team might do. This week, they broke into the Two-Step Top 10.

10) Dallas (4-2) (N/A) I’d rather not talk about it…

Post your comments and let us know what you think. You can also post your own two-step thoughts below!

Spread the word!



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Giants 5-2
Sack Count: 16
Take-away Count: 14

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday Two-Step: Week 6 Edition

These Shoes were Made for Stepping

Week 3 of the Two-Step, week 6 of the NFL season. Somehow, one of the most anticipated weekends of the year yielded the most disappointment. Certainly, the Giant debacle in New Orleans didn’t make things easier for fans of Big Blue to enjoy the slate of compelling games on Sunday, but with meltdowns in Oakland, New England, and the Meadowlands, this seemed to be one demoralizing Sunday.
  • ALL BOW DOWN BEFORE THE MIGHTY AFC WEST!


  • Kyle Orton dips his ever-changing beard in Jack Daniels from time to time and has your typical well-covered-up history of youthful indiscretion with the ladies, but I tell you what, it's hard not to root for him. DIIIP IT! DIIIP IT!

Never thought you'd hear this: "Kyle Orton is one of the best QB's in the league."

  • Broncos Uniform Watch Wk 6: “Hot Dog Roller Derby” gives way to “Mustard-Stained Ding Dongs”


  • Norv Turner is the poster boy for brilliant coordinators/clueless head coaches everywhere.


  • On Monday, my 87-year-old Grandpa told me that he can tell the Bears are missing #54 but that Cutler just needs a little more time with his new receiver group. In the opposite wing of the retirement home, my 80-year-old Grandma told me that she's never seen a better team play worse. Fandom ages gracefully.

  • Don't sleep on the Packers, they deserve credit for not sleeping on the Lions, Culpepper and all.


  • I was impressed with the Vikings...you can say they shouldn't have won, but I think they made more plays in the game and deserved it. I'm not sure who looks hungrier right now, Jared Allen or Jared from Subway.


  • Jim Zorn calls plays as though he’s secretly in a pool betting on Washington “3 and Outs”…and thus he’s not calling plays anymore.


  • Albert Haynesworth: After leaving TEN for WAS, it’s like everything he touches turns to…well, it just sucks.


  • You know the Pats are back because Tom Brady is back to looking narcoleptic in the pocket, which is also a great name for a Crystal Method album.

Where's Randy? Steps needs more fantasy points...


  • By the transitive property of Al Davis, the Giants will beat the Eagles 44-3 in Week 8.

  • Ironically, Drew Brees does not blow…
  • You have to hate a guy like Jeremy Shockey…when he’s not on your team.

A Giant Step back?

  • Watching the Saints receivers against the Giants DBs was as close to a snuff film as you’ll get in the NFL...too extreme? Not as extreme as the whooping we took.
  • C.C. Brown led the team in tackles on Sunday. Unfortunately, they were all after double-digit gains by the Saints.

It wasn't really his fault Tom...

  • Sunday was the third time this season the Giants D went without a sack of the starting QB. It was the first time the defensive unit itself was “sacked,” as Drew Brees tea-bagged them up and down the field.

  • NFL.com headline apropos to my partner's title for this section: "Giant Step Back?" I, the Bears Guy, say 'No' and mean it. Did y'all expect to go 16-0? I still don't know whether I'd rather my team face the G-men or the Saints. It's about the match-ups. (BG)


Power Rankings

(The Top 10 is determined by finding the average of Will's and Jake's votes. Each team's record and their ranking from the previous week are noted in parenthesis next to the team name.)

Some big moves and fresh faces this week...

1) Saints (5-0) (3) When you pick apart the team previously believed to be number one, well...Outstanding QB, outstanding coaches, outstanding O-line, solid D and running game. (Steps)

2) Colts (5-0) (2) After a week off, Peyton Manning still runs this. (Steps)

3) Broncos (6-0) (4) I still don't get it. When I try to watch the Broncs play, that's all I can think. But hey, imagine how long Josh McDaniels' career could be! (BG)

4) Vikings (6-0) (5) Capable of more, unlikely to achieve it, still good enough to ruin the dreams of many. (BG)

5) New England (4-2) (N/A) 59-0. A game of Techmo Bowl later and the Pats are looking like a contender once again. (Steps)

6) Giants (5-1) (1) From dominant to dominated in 60 minutes, Big Blue has a lot to prove next Sunday against Arizona. (Steps)

7) Atlanta (4-1) (9) We now know the offense can be slowed, but that the defense can step up. if they get both clicking at the same time, it will be something to see. (BG)

8) Pittsburgh (4-2) (N/A) I told Steps Pittsburgh hasn't beaten anyone good. He didn't care, and he's probably right. (BG)

9) Cincinatti (4-2) (6) The Bengals will need to stay sharp if they won't hold onto to their winning ways, not to mention the AFC North title. Someone ask OchoCinco if there's an app for that.(Steps)

10) Chicago (3-2) (N/A) Trade acquisition Gaines Adams brings the type of body that, relative to his position, compares to Adrian Peterson's or Terrell Owens. He also brings a Wonderlic score of 7. The Bears are going to have to figure out how to win with the players they started with, while Rod Marinelli teaches Adams the difference between an X and an O. (BG)

Please post your comments and let us know what you think. Spread the word about the Tuesday Two-Step on Giants' Steps




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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tuesday Two-Step: Week 5

The Tuesday Two-Step returns for a second installment to ponder the major stories of Week 5.

Steps Around the NFL
  • In Week 5, the Bronco’s “Hotdog Roller Derby” throwbacks beat out “We Suck at Double Dare” slime green Seahawks alternates for ugliest uniform of 2009.


  • Barf-tastic!


  • And the players in the uniforms? Kyle Orton has a low ceiling, Denver's defense was just plain terrible last season, Shanahan was an irreplacable offensive genius, and I personally have to own up to the fact that this offseason I saw the Donkeys as being headed for the Raider-logo-emblazoned black hole that is the bottom of the AFC west. You can't explain it all away by pointing out that some little guy named Elvis has been running circles around the league's left tackles.


  • I wonder if the Cowboys will need overtime to beat the bye this week.


  • 2 of 17, Derek Anderson? How?! That sounds more plausible as your birth order in a ridiculously large orthodox farming family than as a completion ratio in a football game.


  • McNabb-to-Maclin falls just shy of Manning-to-Manningham in QB-Receiver duos with similar-sounding names.


  • "Cedric Benson leads league in rushing” sounds like an Onion headline. It’s not.

Benson's league-leading performance through five weeks is perhaps more surprising than his team's division-leading performance.


  • On Cedric Benson: Among the biggest draft busts in history. The back that by his insolence, injuries, and ineptitude failed to show any reason why he should be considered starting material in Chicago and ran off the heroic, fiery Thomas Jones in the process. The back taken with the 4th pick when Frank Gore went #65. The back who is now leading the league in rushing, and doing it for the Cincinnatti Bengals.

  • Matt and Tim Hasslebeck are to QB brother baldness what Eli and Peyton Manning are to QB brother play on the field.


  • Braylon Edwards is still winless in 2009.


  • It’s looking like a seamless transition at the Chad for the Dolphins.

QB Chad Henne has looked impressive taking over for injured Chad Pennington.

  • Rush Limbaugh wants to buy the Rams. As if that team didn’t suck enough already…

  • Minnesota has beaten Cleveland, Detroit, San Francisco, Green Bay, and St. Louis, to become 5-0. Sure, there's something to be said for just showing up and executing. While certainly there's no shame in close wins over the Niners and the Pack, there is some shame in the fact that ESPN has the Vikes ranked 3 when, according to their own rankings, they haven't beaten anyone ranked better than 14 (14, 15, 26, 28, 32). The Broncos are ranked 5 after having beaten Cincinnatti (6) and New England (10) on top of a bunch of nobodies.

Giants' Steps

Not much to be witty about in a week in which the Giants were pretty much perfect. That said:

  • Way to go Sinorice Moss.


  • For the second time this season a Giant Safety’s touchdown did not count.


  • Jamarcus Russell is big and bad in the most unflattering, literal way possible.


  • I think the Giants have more guys named Johnson on their roster than the Raiders had first downs Sunday.


  • After going 3 for 3, I guess Tynes found the right shoe in that bag of his…


The Top 10

(The Top 10 is determined by finding the average of Will's and Jake's votes. Each team's record and their ranking from the previous week are noted in parenthesis next to the team name.)

1. Giants (5-0) (3) When you are one bounce away from winning a game 44 or 51-0, no matter who you play, that deserves a move up the ladder. Big Blue has the talent, depth and experience to hold down the number one spot…

2. Indianapolis (5-0) (1) The class of the AFC through 5 games. They fall to number 2 by default, but it’s hard to separate the top spots.

3. New Orleans (4-0) (2) The bye week set them back in the win column. “1C” wouldn’t make for very good power rankings.

4. Broncos (5-0) (N/A) Two impressive wins in a row, this team is surprisingly for real.

5. Vikings (5-0) (4) Play-makers in all phases of the game and some wins against tough teams.

6. Cincy (4-1) (N/A) Wow…go figure.

7. Philly (3-1) (8) Donovan McNabb makes an impressive return as Philly lights up the Bucs.

8. Baltimore (3-2) (6) Some costly and uncharacteristic penalties cost them a close one against the Bengals.

9. Atlanta (3-1) (N/A) A la McNabb, the Falcons are back with a vengeance, following a whoopin’ of the Niners. The Dirty Birds make their debut on the Giants’ Steps Top 10.

10. Jets (3-2) (10) Two losses to two very good teams has Gang Green reeling, but they will recover.

Please post your comments and let us know what you think. Spread the word about the Tuesday Two-Step on Giants' Steps!


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Monday, October 12, 2009

Under the Lens: Giants Dominate Raiders, 44-7



GSTV breaks down the Giants 5-0 start.


How terrible are the Raiders? Or perhaps more accurately, how good are the Giants? It’s hard to tell when a really good team destroys a really bad team just which piece of the equation matters the most. Sunday, and though the first five games for that matter, with the exception of Dallas, it’s been tough to assess if the Giants are that dominant, or the competition just that pathetic.

Sunday’s thrashing of the Raiders showcased the balance, depth and talent on the Giants roster. Big Blue came in banged up, beat up a bad team, and came out in pretty good shape. With any luck some guys will get back healthy this week, and the team can build off of an impressive performance and bring its best down to New Orleans next Sunday.

Let’s take a look back…


Pro’s

There’s always a lot to love when a team wins 44-7, and hey, let’s face it, this game could’ve been 51-0 if the refs did not discount C.C. Brown’s red zone fumble recovery for a touchdown. Here’s what stood out from Sunday’s dominant performance:

Eli Manning – Eli’s day was done before half-time and in his limited work, Eli was perfect. He had a perfect QB rating of 158.3, highlighted by two PERFECTLY touchdowns to Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks and another PERFECT deep ball to all-round legitimate beast Steve Smith. Eli is off to the best start of his career. Accordingly, the Giants are off to their first 5-0 start since 1990.

The Wide Receivers – Manningham, Nicks and Smith all performed very well against Oakland. Smith led the team in receiving yards, and through five weeks, still leads the league in receiving yards and receptions. Manningham bounced back from a drop-alicious performance against KC to haul in his third touchdown of the season and Hakeem Nicks continues to find his rhythm in the offense. His non-catch against Asomugha down the sidelines was especially impressive.

Ahmad Bradshaw – Derrick who? Bradshaw had his second 100 game of the season, and only needed 11 carries to do it. He found the end zone twice and added 55 yards receiving. He has quickly confirmed that the Giants running game will be the same monster to contend with as it was last season, despite the departure of 1,000 yard-rusher Derrick Ward.

“Russell back to pa…SACK!!” - After tallying only 3 sacks in its first three games, the vaunted Giants pass rush seems to have arrived. With 11 sacks in the last two games, six against Oakland, including 3 that forced fumbles, it’s looking like the Giants defensive line is in fact as talented as many were saying it was. Credit goes to the players up front for some outstanding play and the coordinator on the sidelines for some outstanding play-calling. It should not be overlooked that two of yesterday’s sacks came from the secondary.

DE Dave Tollefson sacks Jamarcus Russell in the second half of Sunday's game.

Back-up TE’s – Tight end is one of the few spots on the Giants roster where depth is a concern. With Kevin Boss missing the game due to injury, back-up Darcy Johnson and rookie Travis Beckum both saw a lot of the field and performed nicely. As both young players get much needed experience, they should continue to evolve into reliable back-ups, or even compliments, to Boss.

Special Teams – The Giants back-up linebackers are some Special Teams studs! With Bryan Kehl out recovering from a surgically-repaired finger, I was not sure how the coverage units would perform. Jonathan Goff stepped up and had a huge game on Teams, along with Chase Blackburn, Zak DeOssie and rookie Clint Sintim. Those guys were all over the field…reflecting their talent as well as an outstanding job by the coaching staff.

Tynes – 3 for 3! Attaway!

Con’s

There really isn’t much to complain about, but there was only one reason why we could not get the shut out Sunday:

Sinorice Moss – Domenik Hixon and Danny Ware can’t get back on return duty soon enough. If not for Moss’s bone-headed play on a punt return, Oakland never gets the ball at the 15 yard line and never comes close to scoring. I like the Moss’s attitude, but his erratic decision-making on return duty will not fly when the competition gets tougher.

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Game Balls

Everybody played very well, but if a few individuals are worthy of special attention, they are as follows: Eli Manning, the Wide Receivers, Ahmad Bradshaw, Justin Tuck (6 tackles, 2 sacks and a FF), Jonathan Goff, Terrell Thomas (did you see that pass defensed?) and Bill Sheridan.

I apologize for the abbreviate version, but I gots thangs ta do! Post a comment if you’d like more explanation or have other nominees.


When the Giants Go Marching In

Sunday’s win was a great momentum-builder for Big Blue heading into their much anticipated contest with the Saints next Sunday. The game will be a great measuring stick for both teams, and I will take a closer look at the NFC showdown later in the week.

If the past few weeks are any indication, and the Giants play with the same precision and physicality they’ve showed off in the early stretch of the season, they will use their measuring stick to whip same Bayou behind. I smell 6-0…

Will Drew Brees be next?

Go G-MEN!


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Giants: 5-0
Sack Count: 14
Take-away Count: 10

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Tuesday Two-Step (Inaugural Edition)

I am happy to introduce a new contributor to the Giants’ Steps blog, and a new weekly column: “The Tuesday Two-Step.” Jake “The Bears Guy,” of Giants’ Steps Podcast “fame,” will now be lending his pen and redoubtable vocabulary to the blog, to offer his perspectives on the NFL and provide an outsider’s take on the state of Big Blue. Every Tuesday, he and I will team up to run down our weekend musings in bullet form, and throw out a meaningless Top 10 “Power Ranking.”

So, albeit belated, without further ado...


Step 1: Jake's Take on the NFL

1) Sidney Rice has a magic invisible pogo-stick, which, while very useful for recovering onside kicks, will confuse everyone when he falls and impales himself on it.

2) 49ers vs. Rams: get that weak crap off my TV. How am I supposed to get pleasantly slanted on Mad Dog 20/20 with such poor entertainment?

3) Are the Saints finally real? They and the Giants may be tied as the most balanced 4-0 teams, and both are now the scariest after the lackluster Pats still managed to bring down the Ravens.

4) Peyton Manning is still a franchise unto himself, and a good one at that.

5) Chicago Bears special teams: it's in the blocking.

6) Last night in one of my fantasy leagues, Jared Allen doubled-up Adrian Peterson.

7) If you look at defensive points allowed, it looks like Albert Haynesworth may have been worth it: Titans have allowed 108 points, Redskins 62. Now if only he could carry the ball at the goal line and make the franchise name less overtly racist, Washington would be in business!

8) Nice of the Lions, Bills and Jaguars to stick around the NFL...just in spite of everything, you know?

9) Notably unfair NFL starting QB sequences: 49ers (Montana then Young then Garcia), Chargers (Brees then Eli Manning (sorta) then Rivers), Packers (Favre then Rodgers), Rams (Green to Warner to Bulger), Redskins (Sonny Jurgensen to Billy Kilmer (1971)), Cowboys (Staubach to Danny White to, shortly thereafter, Aikman), Patriots (Bledsoe to Brady to Cassel to Brady), Falcons (Vick to Schaub (sorta) to Matt Ryan). See how this doesn't happen too often, though? Is it too early to wonder about the future possibility of McNabb to Kolb?

10) Was it me or was the uber-hyped breast cancer awareness pink theme a bit understated? Of course I'm colorblind, so maybe I just missed it.

11) The “Roughing the Passer” calls are out-of-hand. The NFL's efforts to protect the quarterback have reached a crossroads, and depending how Goodell and the officials decide to go, the game could be changing beyond recognition. Between the huge offensive lines, the disproportionate salaries, and the more and more persnickety yellow-flag-throwers, QBs might as well be sitting in an office on Sundays (unless your offensive line belongs to the Packers or your office employs Terry Tate).

Step 2: Will on the G-men

1) It was revealed that Eli Manning has actually been having foot problems for a few weeks now, but that’s to be expected when you’re stomping out everyone in sight.

2) Lawrence Tynes will have to pull more than a shoe out of that bag of his if he wants to keep his job…

3) Steve Smith is better than Steve Smith.

4) When his potentially brilliant football career is over, Mario Manningham has a bright future in juggling.

5) Stat of the week: The Giants O-line has started 36 consecutive regular season games together; the Raiders O-line has sucked for 94 consecutive games.

6) The Hamstrings have a better chance of defeating the Giants than the Raiders do, and they’re not even an actual team.

7) Props to WR Hakeem Nicks for scoring his first NFL touchdown, and props for using a prop to celebrate and not getting fined…

8) (From Pat Hanlon) This week, it was 2-for-Tuesday on Weak-side linebacker surgeries at the hospital: Kehl is week-to-week, Boley out approximately 4 weeks.

9) In other Giants injury news: yes.

10) Having Aaron Ross and Aaron Rouse in the same defensive backfield makes me thankful Slim Thug doesn’t do color commentary for the Giants’ radio broadcasts.

11) Lawrence Tynes: Making extra points as nerve-racking as game-winning field goals since 2009.



The Top 10

1) Indianapolis - Peyton Manning runs this...

2) New Orleans - A terrifying passing attack, now mixed with defense and a running game? Big win against the Jets on Sunday, not sure if they'll be so lucky when "the other" New York team comes to town.

3) NY Giants - The deepest team in football, with arguably the most balanced and dangerous offense in the game. Pair that with the best defense in the league, and you're looking at a Super Bowl contender. The question is if they can maintain their excellent play in spite of injuries and superior competition.

4) Minnesota - I believe now...

5) New England - A big win over the Ravens puts Brady's bunch back in the mix.

6) Baltimore - Tough loss to the Pats, but this team has all the pieces in place to win the conference.

7) Pittsburgh - Statement game against San Diego on Sunday night...

8) Philadelphia - Talented play-makers on offense, and a defense that is always hard to handle.

9) San Francisco - Off to a great start to go 7-9

10) NY Jets - Sanchez reminded us not everyone's Matt Ryan; Calvin Pace returns in Week 5 to take the D to a new level of terrifying.

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Now, I believe the Giants have the potential to be the best team in football, but that's contingent on getting people healthy and executing to perfection on the field. I will hold off on giving them the top ranking just yet. I want to see how Big Blue stacks up against the competition from Week 6 on...

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Under the Lens: Giants K.O. KC

GSTV weighs in on the Giants' 4-0 start.


Road Warrioring

The Giants completed the sweep of their 3-game road trip Sunday with a convincing 27-16 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, and improved to 4-0 on the season. The win makes the Giants only the seventh team in the last 19 years to sweep a 3-game road trip in the regular season. It is the second time a Tom Coughlin team has pulled off such a feat, and it brings to mind the 2007 Giants' impressive playoff run on the road to Super Bowl XLII (ahhh...still lovin' it).

In all honesty, after beating the Cowboys on the first leg of the trip, Big Blue had no business not going undefeated on their road swing. The real question in my mind was "How dominant can this team be against inferior competition?" After last week’s total annihilation of the Tampa Bay Bucs, my hope was Big Blue could put on a repeat performance against KC, that way I'd get to call this post “A KC Masterpiece.” But alas, while the win was impressive, it did not showcase the Giants' best football. That is okay right now, but when the competition picks up in a couple weeks, the Giants will have to elevate their game.

This week, we take a look at where the team can build and where they need to improve, as we go...duhn, duhn, duhn..."Under the Lens."


Under the Lens

"Under the Lens" is a hastily-named segment that assesses the pro's and con's of the Giants' performance each week. Against Kansas City, the G-men provided plenty to consider in each category:

Pro’s

Steve Smith – Another double-digit reception, 100+ yard performance has solidified the third-year receiver’s status as…well… as everything: Eli’s “go-to guy,” a reliable target in the clutch, a legitimate number one receiver, “the real Steve Smith,” you name it. After his 11 catch, 134 yard, 2 touchdown performance, Smith leads the NFL in receiving yards, receptions AND receiving TDs. He is averaging over 100 receiving yards a GAME.




Smith celebrates one of his two touchdown catches on the day with fellow WR Mario Manningham.


Michael Boley – This guy is looking like more of a play-maker every week, and that’s something the Giants have not had at linebacker in a long time. Boley is just beginning to find his rhythm after off-season hip surgery, which doesn’t appear to have slowed him down. He was all over the field Sunday, recording 5 tackles, 1 sack and 2 passes defensed. I expect we will be hearing a lot more from #52 as the season progresses.

The Pass Rush – After two games without a sack, and only 3 sacks through three games, I’m sure many of you were thinking the same thing as me: “Wha’ haaaappen?” Sunday, the Big Blue wave finally crashed down on the opposing QB, taking down Matt Cassel five times. The treacherous trio at DE recorded a sack apiece, as did free-agent acquisition Rocky Bernard and Boley. They say sacks come in bunches. I’m hoping to see a bunch more as the season goes on.

The Whole Defense – Don’t look now, but the Giants have the best overall defense (232.2 ypg) and top pass defense (115 ypg) in the league. The unit put in another strong effort in Kansas City, holding the Chiefs to under 200 yards of total offense, including only 88 yards through the air. It’s not perfect yet, but great job from the top down to a unit that will only get better as the year goes on.

Con’s

Eli Injury – It’s always terrifying when the most important player on the team can’t finish the game. Eli’s injury could have been a lot worse at first glance. Thankfully, it is not a dreaded Achilles injury (Mike Garafolo has more on the Eli story) and the quarterback, hopefully, will not miss significant (if any) time. Eli’s a tough guy and has played through worse. With a little luck, he’ll be ready to go next week to continue his assault on opposing defenses.

Red zone offense – After seeming to address the issue last week in Tampa Bay, the Giants’ red zone offense took a step back this week against one of the worst red zone defenses in the league, going only 1 for 3 on trips inside the twenty. Moving the ball up and down the field at will is all well and good, but the G-men will need points to put stronger competition away.

Manning to Manningham – The explosive young receiver struggled to make plays on the field for the first time this season. He dropped three of the balls thrown his way, one of which resulted in an interception. Certainly, the onus is on Manningham to make the play if the ball is in his hands, but Manning also needs to acclimate to Super Mario’s quickness to get the ball out in front of the target so he can better make a play on the ball.

Patience, grasshoppers….

TYNES!! – Make your field goals, dude.

When you win the game, the positives will usually outweigh the negatives. This week was no exception. Let's give out the game balls.

Game Balls

Bryan Kehl –First play of the game, first game ball. Kehl is emerging as a force on Special Teams. He showed great reaction time recovering Jamaal Charles’ fumble on the opening kick-off, shades of his play on Tashard Choice against Dallas in Week 2.

Bryan Kehl recovers a Chiefs' fumble on the game's opening kick-off.

Steve Smith – A legit beast, as alluded to above.

Hakeem Nicks – Congrats on your first NFL touchdown! The first-round pick showed off his play-making ability with a magnificent juke n’ move touchdown reception, taking the ball 54 yards for the score. That’s a nice way to announce your return from injury… With Nicks, Smith and Manningham in the mix, this passing attack could be a force to be reckoned with.

Eli Manning – Another outstanding day for the QB, heel issue aside. Manning’s 3 TD’s on the day tie him for second in the league in TD’s with eight on the season. He also continues to deliver a QB rating of over 100. Hard to see the Giants not being successful if he can keep that up…

Brandon Jacobs – A solid game by the big man. Answered the critics, ran well, hit the holes with aggression and power.

Kevin Boss – Outstanding awareness on the final offensive play of the first half. He shook off his injury to line up for the snap allowing the Giants to put an extra three points on the board before the half.

Boley – Great game for the new guy…

Antonio Pierce – Great game for the old guy…Pierce has been outstanding through the first four games. His preparation and awareness on the field are second to no one in the league, and he translates that into great play on the field.

Always Room for Improvement

The Giants have been impressive through four games, but they know they can be better. More importantly, they know they have to be. Their success on this three game road trip is a testament to the coaching staff and the focus in the locker room. Now we will see how those attributes come into play as the level of competition goes up a notch in the coming weeks.

Oakland will provide one more "tune-up match" to prepare for the tough four game stretch leading into the bye week. If the players can continue to work their way back from injuries, and Eli can recover quickly from his heel injury, I am confident this team will address the issues holding them back from the next level.

With the number one defense in the league - a unit getting better with each passing week - and one of, if not the most dynamic offense in football, it's exciting to think what the "next level" will look like for this team.



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Giants 4 - 0
Sack Count: 8
Take-away Count: 8

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Giants Wk. 4 Outlook: Light at the End of the Tunnel

(Giants' Steps takes stock of the Giants' injury prospects and reviews some Week 3 storylines.)

Before I say a word, let me preface this article with this:

KNOCK, KNOCK!

The Giants have been bombarded with injuries through the first three weeks of the season. They started off Week 4 with 11 players listed on the injury report, including key contributors DE Justin Tuck, WR Domenik Hixon and RT Kareem McKenzie, projected starters DT Chris Canty, CB Aaron Ross, and surprise addition RB Ahmad Bradshaw. Although it is the longest injury report of the season for Big Blue, things might actually be turning a corner on the injury front…

Speaking of Corners

In spite of the absence of one of last year’s starters, Ross, and last year’s primary nickleback, Kevin Dockery, the Giants secondary has been stellar in 2009. The Giants boast the league’s best pass defense, allowing only 124 yards per game through the air, and they are tied for fifth in the league in interceptions with 5. Perhaps most impressive, they’ve done it with only three healthy corners.

Corey Webster has continued to build off of a Pro Bowl-caliber season in 2008. He consistently shuts down the opposing team’s primary target. His tip-toe sideline interception in Week 1 was one of the sickest picks I’ve ever seen. Second year man Terrell Thomas continues to mature with every passing week. His coverage skills are very impressive and as his awareness develops, this will only lead to more turnovers. Rookie FA Bruce Johnson has been one of the best surprises of this young season. And then there were four:

What's up Dock?


With a full week of practice under his belt, Dockery is expected to return to the mix against KC. The defensive backfield has been outstanding at about 60% strength. How good can it be at 75%? At 90%? Opposing offenses are about to find out.

Is the Giants Passing Attack About to Get More Dangerous?

While some savvy Giants fans may have predicted the team’s pass defense would shine in 2009 (author included), I don’t know that any realist could have anticipated the success Eli Manning and company have enjoyed with the passing attack. The Giants’ QB has been stellar in the early stretch of the season, completing 65 percent of his passes, with 5 touchdowns, 1 interception and the third best QB rating in the league at 104.1.

His targets have been equally superb, despite two of the top four wide receivers missing time. The two – Hakeem Nicks and Hixon – appear poised to return this week. In their absence, Steve Smith and Mario Manningham have become the top receivers in the NFC. Smith leads the way with 277 yards, and Mannigham is close behind with 263. Both players have caught two touchdown passes through three games.

Nick flashed speed and play-making ability in the pre-season.

Inject first round pick Nicks, who led the league in receiving yards during the pre-season, and the steady Hixon back into the fold, and I don’t know that defenses will know where to focus their energies at the position.

The 36-5

When the Giants finished massacring Tampa Bay last week, with LG Rich Seubert on the sidelines with a sore shoulder and RT Kareem McKenzie in the locker room with a knee sprain, it appeared an impressive streak might be in jeopardy for the most consistent offensive line in football.

A major piece of the Giants’ successes in recent years has been the fact that the same five men have started 35 consecutive regular season games. With Seubert not even on the injury report Week 4 and McKenzie practicing fully all three days, the legend of the “Iron Line” grows…

Kenny Phillips Elects Surgery

While the line manages to stay on the field, there was some off-the-field news from Giants Land this week. Safety Kenny Phillips, placed on IR last week, underwent successful micro-fracture surgery on Tuesday. He broke the news on his blog.

Phillips will not be allowed run to for at least four months, but he was back at the Meadowlands for treatment on Thursday. Phillips feels extremely confident he will be back on the field ready to go next season. He is already able to put weight on the knee and claims he is feeling no pain. Encouraging signs – attitude and physical indications both – for the young Giants play-maker’s recovery.

Getting Stronger

Bradshaw, Tuck and McKenzie are all slated to play Sunday, and Dockery, Nicks and Hixon could all return to action as well. Rookie LB Clint Sintim has been getting increased reps and should be back very soon. The upcoming games against the Chiefs and Raiders are critical for the younger players, and those that haven’t seen the field in a while, to get reps in before a very difficult four-game stretch against playoff caliber teams.

The Giants have been impressive in spite of the injuries, but with this current crop returning to the field, it’s about to go up a notch. The tunnel is long, but there appears to be light ahead…for the Giants at least.

Other teams? They won’t see light…just blue.


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Giants 3 - 0
Sack Count: 3
Take-away Count: 7

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

GSTV Graphics Teaser

Hi everyone. I'm just checking in quickly to share some of the new graphics I hope to use in upcoming episodes of GSTV with you. I admit, I spend far too much time messing around with video editing software, but on the bright side, I might actually be getting decent at it...

This is the first video I've directly uploaded to the blog and not just embedded from YouTube. Check it out below...


video

Please let me know what you think!

I will be back Friday with a look at the Giants' injury situation heading into Week 4's contest in Kansas City. Looking forward to a great game for Big Blue, and another chance for the G-men to showcase their dominance!

Go Giants!

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Giants 3-0
Sack Count: 3
Take-away Count: 7

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Continue reading "GSTV Graphics Teaser"