the new york football giants
28 December 2006 ¬
" Exclamation Point "
As a follow up to the previous post, this is a quote from an anonymous Giant that appeared in the New York Daily News this week:

"We are tiring of his act," the Giant said. "He is pushing too hard. We're still in full pads for part of practice, despite all the injuries we have and the fact that it's the end of a long season. He is very 'me' oriented, always talks about doing things his way - his hard-ass, no-give approach - but we're not winning or sustaining games, so the disconnect is widening and we are tuning him out."

This comes as a surprise to exactly.. no one. And given the way the quote was articulated, this sounds like something from Tiki's mouth.
Experienced football coach to lead beleaguered NFL franchise out of a three-year stroll through Purgatory. Must be capable of replacing a former Jacksonville dictator and implementing the most antithetical gameplan imaginable. Interpersonal skills a must. Seeking individuals who are laid back, easy to approach, and capable of keeping penalty yardage under 250 per game - in particular, individuals who can convince offensive linemen not to headbutt the opposition. Must be capable of instilling in any starting quarterback the idea that if their QB rating is consistently hovering around the game-time temperature, they may not be guaranteed a start the following week. Applicants should have a working knowledge of what a "game plan" is, and be willing to stick to it. Particularly interested in any recently unemployed individuals with prior experiences in New York, say, leading a team to the Super Bowl in the '00-'01 season. Contact Ernie Accorsi ASAP!
25 December 2006 ¬
" Back from Hiatus, with my Head in the Sand.. "
I'd like not to be overly negative here.. since my last post, the Giants have lost their last two in woeful fashion, including an embarrassing drubbing by the Saints yesterday. Yet, defying all justified incredulity, the G-Men are still in the playoffs.. at 7-8. Which just about sums up the state of the NFC at the moment. I'd run through the potential scenarios that can unfold next week, but I don't have the time, the strength, or a PhD in theoretical mathematics; suffice it to say that the Giants can still grab the final wild-card spot at either 8-8 or 7-9. If so, they'd likely be playing on the road against the Cowboys.

Nothing is going right. Elijah is mirroring 2005 - strong start, fade down the stretch. The D, which stonewalled the run at the beginning of the season, is now inviting everyone and their mother to pound the ball right up the middle at will. And, of course, injuries.. Chad Morton is done for the year with a torn ACL. Does anyone keep track of season-ending ACL injuries? I'll have to touch base with Elias. We're currently going for that record, along with a slew of other inauspicious distinctions this year (like, running ZERO plays in the opponent's territory on Sunday despite scoring 7 points. Or, both blowing and overcoming 17+ point 4th quarter deficits in the same season.)

I'd like to think that after getting manhandled in Tiki Barber's last game at the Meadowlands, New York will come out against Washington with a huge chip on their shoulder. But then again, I thought the same thing at around 1pm yesterday afternoon, after losing 4 of 5 and more or less still controlling their own destiny, and look where that got me.

Strahan played a decent game coming back from a Lisfranc sprain, but reinjured his foot and may very well be done for the year. Here's how obscure the lisfranc ligament is - we never learned about it in medical school, and it's conspicuouusly absent from my Netter's Atlas of Human Anatomy. Apparently, it extends from the plantar-lateral aspect of medial cuneiform, passes in front of the intercuneiform ligament, and finally, inserts into the plantar-medial of second metatarsal. Got all that? In laymans terms - a ligament between your big toe and your second toe. I get the impression that it can be a real nagging injury if not given enough time to heal, making Stray's early return a desperation move. Boy, is that one ever paying dividends.

So where does that leave us? I have no idea. This team is up, down, up, down, hurt, healthy, hurt, healthy. Every time someone progresses, two someones regress. So screw the analysis. I'm going to sit back and hope to get something entertaining out of New York-Washington. And maybe, just maybe, Santa will leave a belated playoff gift under the tree (and really, the word gift cannot be emphasized enough in this instance. GIFT.)

Happy Holidays to you and yours.
10 December 2006 ¬
" Coalescing and Galvanizing.. Giants Top Carolina 27-13 "
Tiki broke out those two chestnuts during his postgame interview with Pam Oliver.. somebody's already rehearsing for that post-retirement stint as an NFL analyst/color commentator.

While it feels good to break out of that four game slide, this one was full of the same familiar shortcomings. Elijah did throw three touchdowns with no picks, but he also went 17 for 33 for only 172 yards, including several ugly attempts in the first half. Plaxico made a great catch for a 2nd quarter touchdown, but was openly complaining to Eli about being open in the end zone on the previous drive. A win is a win, but if the in-house fighting and Eli's inconsistency continue, New York will have a tough time running the table (the only scenario that guarantees a playoff berth at this point.)

On the other side of the ball, Fred Robbins continues to play out of his mind, and looks like a Pro-Bowl lock. Gibril Wilson had two picks on Sunday and in doing so tied Freddy for the team lead. Think about that for a minute - two picks in one game ties you with a defensive tackle for the team lead. It's pretty funny, but it's also indicative of how many missed opportunities the secondary has been responsible for this season. They certainly played better today, but that was against Chris Weinke and a one-horse receiving corps.

Next week at home against the Iggles. If the season ended right now, Philadelphia and New York would be your two wild-card teams. I had said at the start of the season that the NFC East might possibly send three teams to the postseason, but I was envisioning the Giants taking the division with Washington and Dallas taking wild card spots. Whoops. I'll take half credit instead.
04 December 2006 ¬
" Four in a Row.. Watching the Season Circle the Drain, Giants Fall to Cowboys 23-20 "
Eli Manning wasn't responsible for yesterday's loss - neither was Plaxico Burress. The offense played well, the defense played well, and in general the only glaring deficiency was the special teams kick-and-punt coverage. Yet New York dropped it's fourth straight game, fell two behind Dallas in the NFC East, and will now be fighting tooth-and-nail to secure a wild card spot heading into the home stretch.

So what went wrong? Well, as I alluded to above, nothing went wrong per se.. the Giants just played a streaking Dallas team that is much more dangerous with the versatile Tony Romo behind center. Kiwanuka's fumble was painful, but he made a nice play picking off the throw in the first place, so you can't really come down on him too hard (although I recognize this is the second straight week I'm giving him a pass.) The long completion to Witten was a huge blow, but the coverage wasn't awful - Romo simply made a great play and threw a strike to his tight end. Grammatica's subsequent kick was a no-doubter.. would have been good from 50+.

The Giants' overall performance was admirable, particularly the reappearance of Fourth Quarter Eli right when his team needed him the most, and so there's nothing else to sulk about other than the fact that New York hasn't won a football game in more than a month. They need to be in must-win mode from here on out to have a legitimate chance at a postseason berth. They most certainly have the talent to pull it off, but as Tom Coughlin is fond of pointing out, the execution leaves much to be desired.
02 December 2006 ¬
" Bench the Comeback Kid? "
Just throwing this out there: maybe it's time for Tom Coughlin to bench Eli Manning.

Now, don't get me wrong - Elijah is the future of this organization. He's got the physical ability, the pedigree, and enough talent around him to be a Top 5 quarterback in the NFL. But lately, his cool demeanor, which has previously worked in his favor as a sort of calm-under-fire, has started progressing towards apathy. I've seen him throw more lazy, errant passes in the past month than I have during the previous two seasons combined.. I don't know if he and Plax are feeding off each other, but somebody needs to put a stop to it.

The controversy surrounding the Giants locker room the past week could be the potential spark to wake up Manning and shake him back into his previous form, but I think Coughlin should toy with the idea of starting Jared Lorenzen in Eli's place. Not as a permanent replacement, and not even with the intention of leaving Jared behind center for the entire contest, but to send Eli a message: nothing in this business is guaranteed.

While that may seem like a given, I've always been worried about Eli's sense of entitlement, dating back to the draft day orchestration that landed him in a Giants' uniform in the first place. The bottom line - if you want to act like you're too cool for school, you better start playing that way.