The Giants and Trump
September 30, 2017

OMG, did I just mention by beloved football team along with that Neanderthal in the White House? I have yet to write anything political in this blog, but with the events of the past weekend, now is a good as time as any to start.

First, the Jints. My very last post at the end of of the 2016 season concluded that Erik Flowers - along with the rest of the offensive line - would determine what type of team the Giants would have in 2017. True to form, the team can neither run the ball effectively (or even marginally) or pass protect enough for Eli Manning. The axiom of football is to win in the trenches is to control the game. The Giants are struggling mightedly in that area, despite a supposed shiney exterior with all the bells and whistles. But you need an engine. Sans the fourth quarter of Philly game, the team was struggling to hit double digit scoring the first two weeks in a league that caters to offense. Further compounding matters is the defensive effort. This unit didn't really hit its stride last year unitl mid season, and because it hasn't picked up exactly where it left off, the magnifying glass is on that part of the team too. They played decent enough in the first two games to earn wins, had the offense pulled its weight. After given a fourth quarter lead last week, the defense failed to get a stop and let the Eagles tie and ultimately win the game. The Giants have that look of what losing teams do: commit penalties, suffer mental lapses, and execute poorly which derails any chance for victory.

The real question now becomes where does this season go at 0-3. It's going to take an organizational effort to keep the team from falling completely off the tracks and salvage 2017. That most likely will not include a playoff appearance - although who knows in this crazy age of sports. The one thing the Giants have on their side is time. Thirteen more games are to be played. Does the team sink, doggie paddle, or swim, and what will it tell us about our second year head coach, Ben McAdoo?

Now to Trump. Our President a week ago commented vigorously at an Alabama election rally on player protests in the NFL during the National Anthem, and you'd have to be living under a rock - or reside in Puerto Rico - not to have heard or talked about it. Called the players "SOB's" and said the owners should consider suspension, or even firing a such a player.

In the latest polls, 64 percent of the country supports what Trump said - that players should not protest during the performance of the Anthem at NFL games. And guess what? I belong to that 64 percent. That's right. I was taught at an early age, in Little League, to remove my hat, stand at attention, and face the flag during the rendition. I still do it to this very day at any sporting events I attend.

But here's the thing. I also support anyone who decides to silently and peacefully protest during the Anthem. We can argue whether it's a First Ammendment right or not, but the thing that makes our country so great is that you can do this without being fired, or locked up, or exiled. I'd like to believe that it's one of the rights our veterans fought for.

Having mulled over this the last couple of days, I also thought of what happens at the conclusion of football games, rather than right before the beginning. Players kneel there too - in prayer. Every game players will gather at midfield, and in a large group, pray. Now I am agnoistic.....should I be appalled by this? Religion in way!!! What ever happened to separation of church and football?? LOL If silent protest can't be done right before a game starts, why can peaceful prayer be done at the end of game? I'm getting it from both ends. I want them to stand at the beginning of a game, and they kneel. I want to the leave at the end of game, and they kneel again. All this kneeling!!!! #VERY UNFAIR!!!! ~

But in all seriousness, until Eli Manning comes off the field and removes his helmet to reveal a head band that says "PRO LIFE" or Odell Beckham Junior comes to the bench and sets up a banner that reads "BLACK POWER", you need to continue your love of the NFL game day experience at home or in the stadium. That would be politics entering your sports arena - and it's never going to happen. And if it were to happen, then you can cry foul. Taking a line from William Shakespeare: "The play's the thing." For the NFL, the game's the thing. Don't hate the game for a silent protest that lasts a minute before a kickoff, or a peaceful prayer that lasts a minute after the final gun. Hate it for the reasons you always have - tailgators who take up two parking spots, overpriced beer, head scratching play calling, fans who wear huge hats to block your view, and bad officiating.

There's plenty to debate in today's political world. Healthcare, tax reform, North Korea, DACA. But if you happen to decide to end your NFL love affair for a chance to pick apples on a crisp autumn day because of all this, then sadly you've become a bigger snowflake than the biggest snowflake of all. He resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

January 11, 2017

The loss to Green Bay was indeed disappointing, especially when you watched how the Giants controlled much of the game through halftime, and into the third quarter. But the inexcusable Hail Mary, subpar special teams, and an offense that simply canít sustain ultimately gave the best QB in football too many cracks at it (and field position!) to find his rhythm. Aaron Rodgers pound-for-pound is the best in the league. The ball comes out of his hand with velocity like no one else, and he further complicates matters by doing it equally well on the run. In the end, while dropped passes in the first quarter probably werenít the difference, it sure could have made things much more interesting than just a 6-0 lead (especially when youíve outgained the opposition 197 to six in total yards).

Overall the 2016 season was a success. The Giants were a playoff team, restored their defense (and some Giant pride), and look to have a young base of players to grow around. Still, there are needs. The Giants surprisingly see their main weaknesses now on offense. Everything starts in the trenches, and until the line can be crafted to give Eli Manning adequate time to setup and throw, youíll see more of the same. But Manning needs help elsewhere too. For all the great effort that Will Tye gives you, heís a backup NFL tight end. The Giants need more size and speed there to open up the middle of the field. Size on the outside is also a priority. The Giants operated out of three WR sets mostly in 2016, and thatís with tallest receiver being Victor Cruz at six feet. The offense needs a big target to restore the back shoulder throw and slant to compliment OBJ and Sterling Sheppard. The draft needs to hit on some of this, and free agency hopefully sees the return of JPP and Jonathan Hankins (cap space looks rather good for 2017).

The other major question is, and again this gets back to the offensive line, what will the Giants decide to do with Erik Flowers? He was probably drafted to play right tackle, but was quickly moved to the left side in training camp when Will Beatty was injured two seasons ago. Heís been there ever since, but the results have been lackluster. Flowers plays well 90% of the time, but the other 10% contributes to wrecking the offense. Untimely sacks and penalties, as well as missed blocks, dooms any sustainability.

From a season ticket holder perspective, 2016 was terrific. The Giants went 7-1 at home, and sans the Detroit game (a win), every single game came down to one team having the ball in their last position with a chance to win the game. The entertainment value, and return on investment, was exceptional. What I am I looking for during the rest of the NFL playoffs? Simply a Dallas loss and New England loss. Of course if both make it to the Super Bowl, Iím guaranteed to get half of that.

Waiting for Sunday Night!!!
December 11, 2016

Good Day, Bloak
October 28, 2016

The Giants got a much need win in England over the Rams, allowing them to go into the break/bye with a winning record. At just about the half way point, itís a perfect time to evaluate where the Giants are.

It appears to me that this team is still a year away from being a legit playoff team. The offensive line still will have trouble against the better defensive fronts, and the Giants donít have a reliable threat to open up the middle of the field at tight end. Both those items will hold back this offense and ultimately the team from doing any damage if the playoffs do become a reality. The bounce I expected from hiring a new coach, plus the anticipated state of the division, appeared to give the Giants an inside track for the division. But the NFC East appears to be the most balanced and perhaps competitive in the NFL, and that will make it tough sledding for the Jints going forward in 2016.

Defensively, the team is no doubt improved. Itís nice to have actual corners that can cover NFL receivers, and not watching guys off the street run around in the secondary. The pass rush is still subpar, but with nine games left there is still time for improvement there. One thing is for sure: Jason Pierre Paul does not dog it. The guy is a hustler who never gives up on any play, and probably is that type of player that does much more than the stats ever indicate. However, the Giants will have a big decision between signing either him or DT Johnathan Hankins as both are impending free agents. Signing both is not realistic in regards to the cap. And considering the Giants have more prospects at defensive end, JPP could be playing elsewhere in 2017. Which would also necessitate a change to this siteís homepage banner :(

So letís get to the crux of the problem with the 2016 version of the New York Giants. Ben McAdoo and his offense. A new stat that just came out has the Giants in the three wide receiver set a whopping 96% of the time this season. The next team using any formation that much was in the 70th percentile. What that immediately tell you is the Giants are not showing any diversity in how they line up, and this most likely makes it easier for defensive teams to diagnose what they are trying to do. Why is this happening? A few reasons. First, WR is the most talent laden position on the team with OBJ, Sheppard, and Cruz and it makes sense that those three should be seeing the field the most. But 96% of the time? Where has Dwayne Harris, a pretty good playmaker signed last year, disappeared to? The Giants are paying him a hefty salary to just return punts (because KOís are becoming extinct). The four WR look could really spread out teams, and potentially open up the run game too. Second, the Giants donít have a full back on the team, nor any legitimate TEís to allow for power formations. While true, you can still mix your looks up. For example, why not go double TE with Donnell and Tye, then send one out in a pattern to get mismatches versus a LB? The Giants of the 80's were known as a team with very few plays but executed each extremely well. That of course was a different era. You need to be able to use formations to get the matchups in your favor and the Giants obviously arenít doing it, and that becomes quite apparent when you watch the games. Thatís coaching.

Which brings us to the head coach. Iím in no way condemning Mac and ushering for a change, or second guessing the removal of Tom Coughlin. Because letís face it, the reason TC was replaced was because the Giants were maddeningly sloppy. Unfortunately, the team appears to have many of the same characteristics, most notably the -7 turnover differential (which should make us count our lucky stars about being 4-3). Some head coaches hit the ground running, others need to grow into the position. McAdoo looks like he will need some seasoning. Furthermore, when a successful offensive coordinator takes on the responsibility of HC, there is obviously more to worry about. Whereas he previously coached in his own little box focusing on just the offense and scoring points, Mac now has to worry about everything. McAdoo now has to be his own checks and balances, which lends itself to being more conservative. That's also a polite way of saying he's a bit overwhelmed right now.

The biggest thing the bye week can do for the Giants is allow for self-evaluation in how uncreative the team is being on offense. If they are honest and can tweak it (more formations/more imaginative play calling), their prospects for a successful second half will increase. Otherwise, the team could be headed for a 7-8 win season yet again.

Great Tailgate . . .
September 18, 2016

 . . . better win!! Giants move to 2-0, winning their home opener 16-13!!!

An Oracle I Am Not
September 14, 2016

And that goodness for that. I posted that the Giants were 0-8 in openers versus Dallas. So when I saw the Fox graphic during the game that it was actually 0-7, I feared I had jinxed myself, the Jints, and NYG fans everywhere.

Seriously, who am I kidding? Being the empirical creature that I am (ya know, things like global warming), my erroneous post had no bearing on what actually would happen. The Giants got out of Dodge with a victory to improve their mark to 1-7. Not the prettiest win, but itís a road win parlayed with a division game so you have to be pleased. The Giants punished old nemesis Jason Witten every time he caught the ball, shut down their run game, and kept the Dallas offense out of the end zone despite the time of possession discrepancy and multiple trips inside the 20.

Incidentally, the last time the Giants won down in Dallas was back in 2012, and that game featured the last second TD catch by Dez Bryant that was reversed due to his finger tip being out of bounds. Similarly, Dez had another TD catch reversed in this one (third quarter) which wasnít quite as dramatic but clearly was the correct call and affected the final score. Some people (particularly Craig Carton/Jerry Recco on the WFAN morning show), however, couldnít understand why the play didnít stand. Quite clearly, Bryant came down and then lost control off the ball. From that point, two things can be inferred. Either the ball hit the ground (incomplete) OR Bryant maintained enough control to prevent that, but by the time he re-established complete possession his body was now out of bounds. Címon guys.

Final thought: how bad ass was Ben McAdoo yelling at Larry Donnell when he lined up out of formation? Shades of Bill Parcells, and Giant fans just have to love that.

Giants at Cowboys, 4:25pm Sunday
September 9, 2016

The Giants begin the 2016 season this weekend, and have met the Cowboys in the opener eight times. And whatís their record? Astonishingly, 0-8!!!! Getting off the schneid should have happened in last yearís kickoff to the season, until the Giants simply botched it to the nth degree late. With Romo out due to his creaky back (and rook Dac Prescott in), youíd think the Giants are poised to get their first opening day win since 2010 (Carolina Panthers/Met Life debut). But our history versus backups, even under LT/Parcells/Belichick, always seemed tenuous at best.

Other than the usual individuals Iím anxious to see (Eli, Beckham being Beckham, Cruz, JPP with a full training camp), two players I am targeting are corner Eli Apple and safety Darian Thompson, both rookies. Apple has a nice preseason and Iím anxious to see if it translates to the regular season. Thompson is a physical player, with ball hawking skills. Thatís something the Giants really havenít had in decades. The secondary looks primed to be much improved and that will be a huge lift if the defense is to move up the charts in defensive rank.

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