Monday, December 22, 2008
Um, wow. A Giants/Panthers Recap.
Let's be honest: most of us follow our teams because it's the team that our fathers followed when we were little kids. As such, after observing this weekend of football, I had no choice but to profusely thank my dad for falling in love with Y.A. Tittle, Sam Huff, and the Giants of old and not the Namath sideburns. In related news, no word on whether SHMUCK has disowned Papa SHMUCK yet. Onto the recap!
Giants offense/Panthers defense
-The biggest problem with the offense in the first half was simply that they had to keep up with the newly discovered juggernaut that was the Carolina Offense. Eli had some solid numbers in the first half and then took care of business in the second half. In a windy Giants Stadium, that's all that one can ask for out of a Giant QB in December.
And equally important, Eli and Hixon connected on some nice timing routes. Not a spectacular game for Hixon, but at least it showed that the drops of games past shouldn't continue to nag him as the playoffs approach.
-Nice of Toomer to chip in with two catches for 27 yards, both of which are post-Halloween season highs.
-Fantastic game by Kevin Boss, becoming everything the Giants ever needed Jeremy Shockey to be: a reliable receiver who is generally open on third down and will catch passes thrown his way on third down and in the red zone. He'll never be as spectacular as some of Shockey's best plays, but the reality is, he doesn't need to be spectacular, just consistent. And looking back on the Shockey era, I'm pretty sure his most amazing play occurred during a pre-season game.
-Gilbride called a good game in the second half, but can they stop relying on Hedgecock to make offensive plays? Look, Hedgecock is a damn good blocking back, but there's no need to turn him into a receiving weapon if he's not good enough to do so. And this has more to do with the last 6 weeks or so than this particular game in which Hedgecock had a very nice 13 yard reception. But can Gilbride not call for a Hedgecock run on 3rd and short with Jacobs available? Calling for Hedgecock to be a receiver or a power back is kind of like calling for Kevin Boss to run a reverse. Boss can't make the same plays as Hixon in the same way that Hedgecock can't be Brandon Jacobs, but Hedgecock is still a valuable member of this team if used right. The talent is here, stop over-thinking everything and just get it done.
3 things about Jacobs:
1. He seems to have become the vocal leader of this team, leading them in the "stomp them out" pre-game speech. One thing that became obvious the last few weeks is how much better Jacobs makes the entire team, but on a much smaller note, I love that he seems to give this team a swagger when he plays.
2. Look, it's hard to say anything bad about Jacobs given how well he and Ward ran, but it seems like most of the time when Jacobs gets 3 or 4, he is one unlucky break away from gaining 15. I don't know if he's having trouble getting past the safeties, but it seems like he's consistently one more missed tackle away from having similar numbers to Ward. Eh, I'll stop my bitching.
3. And lastly, is Jacobs really not going to warrant serious consideration for MVP?
-So uh, Derrick Ward had a decent game. One thing about his overtime runs-I've become so accustomed to the Luke Pettitgout hold that I never get to enjoy the runs until I carefully scan the field and notice no flags. I need to start living in the moment.
-But seriously, props to Ward who had a great game in front of a national audience and earned himself a nice contract from a team who can afford him next year. (Not the G-Men) D-Ward, it's been a pleasure watching you compliment Jacobs, and I, as a representative of G-Men Nation, wish you all the best. You deserve it. But stay the fuck away from the Dallas backfield if you don't want to be booed when you return to Giants Stadium.
-And as always, this running game wouldn't have been possible without the consistent play of the O-Line. Snee and O'Hara got well deserved pro-bowl spots, even if McKenzie, Seubert, and Diehl all got screwed.
Panthers offense/Giants defense
-First off, I'd like to thank Deangelo Williams for helping me win the SUS Fantasy Football Championship and still finding a way to lose the game. Everybody wins! And by everybody I mean myself and the members of Free Harris Smith!.
-What the hell was that first half all about? It seemed like the Giants would get a stop on first down, but on second or third down the Panthers wouldn't just get the first down by a yard but by 5, 6, or 40 if it involved a pass thrown near Aaron Ross. And what the hell was up with Ross? He defended that ball like the ghost of Will Allens past. I'm guessing he was benched?
-For a guy with flu-like symptoms Justin Tuck sure was limping a bit. If he shows up on crutches with the Chicken Pox, I may have to call BS.
-So there was no pressure put on Delhomme the whole game. I'll chalk that up to Tuck not being full strength and the Giants needing to do everything possible to cover Steve Smith.
-Someone help me out here, what's the deal with screens? More specifically, why are teams able to run them on us for 15-20+ yards, but the Giants can never get more than a few yards? And that's when Jacobs holds onto the ball. I blame our linebackers.
-And speaking of the linebackers, Pierce had himself a solid game, covering up holes like they were illegal firearms.
-And yes, I've been waiting a long time to rock that line.
-Tangent alert: What's the deal with Ben Roethlisberger? More specifically, why do people think he should be the league MVP when he's the reason that the Steelers struggle to score 20 points in their wins? They didn't give the MVP to Jim McMahon or Trent Dilfer, and Ben is better than those guys, but come on. And along those lines, Jake Delhomme sure seems to be the anti-Roethlisberger: whereas everyone says that Ben is great this year but isn't, everyone says that Delhomme sucks, but is he really that bad? What am I missing?
-Look, one thing was apparent yesterday which explains the Mangini-sized difference between the Jets and Giants coaching staff. The Giants made adjustments at the half that were apparently able to slow down the Panthers O enough to mount a comeback. The Jets kept on trying the same ol' same ol' until 60 minutes were up.
-And the biggest surprise about the game yesterday? The Giants' first punt in OT. After the Giants made it 28-28, I was 150% sure that the Giants would win the game if the offense could only get the ball again. And eventually they won, but I was just amazed that it took the offense two tries in a close game to win the game. I guess this is my way of saying 1) I'm still enjoying the Eli Manning Era and 2) yeah, Big Blue is back. Watch out world.
And a few more other things that like myself, can't be described using a simple label...
I've found my blogging jihad, and R.W. McQuarters be thy name. I'm not blaming McQuarters for the fumble that nearly cost the Giants the game; I'm blaming the coaching staff for allowing McQuarters to put on shoulder pads and a jersey in the first place. As I've said tirelessly already, there's nothing that McQuarters does that can't be performed by someone better. Returning punts? Bradshaw and Hixon are fantastic replacements. 4th or 5th cornerback? I don't care how many steps Sam Madison has lost, he still has to be better than McQuarters. Madison, unlike McQuarters, once had a prime. And I don't get why a star player can't also be a punt/kick returner. But Devo, Jason Sehorn's career was effectively over after he got messed up on a punt return. Yeah, but two things: 1) Sehorn, unlike Hixon and Bradshaw was primarily a cornerback before a return man and therefore has much worse technique than both of them, and 2) Who else has gotten hurt returning kicks other than Sehorn? Is it just me or is Sehorn the only guy to get seriously hurt returning kicks?
-Weird crowd at the game. Giants fans are justifiably considered to be the oldest and whitest in the league, mostly due to Giants season tickets remaining in families for generations. But last night, due to the cold and the time, it sure seemed like old white people sold their tickets to drunk younguns. And I'm ok with that in general, but I have one rule: If you're going to be drunk and loud either 1) know your football or 2) be funny. The guy in section 327 row 30 who was yelling at me for not standing mid second quarter was neither. And stop yelling "Omaha!" You're not Eli Manning. Start getting your comedic timing down or go home.
-And props to the Giants Stadium grounds crew for apparently turning the steps into a hockey rink. As an unemployed lawyer, my only regret is that I didn't stand at the bottom of the steps with a business card.
-But as much as the ice sucked, seeing the Stadium erupt in snow after the Giants tied the game and later won was unbelievable. And while some of the drunk guys were annoying, the drunkeness of the crowd as a whole led to an enjoyable, if odd, atmosphere. By the end of the 4th quarter as the Giants got their groove back, you had seemingly 70,000 people singing along with the house music during one of the 8,000 tv timeouts.
And lastly, about the Giants...
Two things were learned last night:
1. The Panthers are a well put together, well coached football team. No turnovers, very few penalties, and a team that knows how to score points. If Dallas is an underachieving team with tons of talent, no cohesiveness, and a coach who my dad consistently confuses with Bum Phillips, then Carolina is the opposite: a well coached team that takes advantage of every ounce of talent available. At the end of the day, Carolina and Dallas are the only teams that should, in theory, make the Giants sweat in the NFC playoffs.
2. The Giants are back. The truth of the matter is that at the end of the day, with home field throughout the NFC, only the Giants can keep themselves from getting to the Super Bowl.
And lastly, after watching the Pats/Cardinals game, I'm putting the line for Giants/Cards 2nd round from a cold Meadowlands at Giants -24. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE give the Giants Kurt Warner and Co. in the 2nd round.