Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New York Giants Training Camp: Why Rodgers-Cromartie and Co Will Improve the Pass Rush

The new improved secondary in action at Giants camp this week. Photo courtesy of the License Plate Guy (LPG) Facebook Fan Page

Frank Gray
BGB Editor

The past few months have been emotionally mixed for fans of the New York Giants. We watched big brother Peyton get trounced on the World's biggest stage while wondering where our own team was heading.

With the loss of Justin Tuck and Hakeem Nicks to free agency, the retirement of coach Kevin Gilbride, O-Line mainstays David Diehl and Chris Snee and the legal troubles of Jayron Hosley and Will Hill, the 2014 staff and roster has been an endless question.

While the team did address the offense and the O-Line in the draft, they made several under the radar free agents signings that will bolster their defense immensely. The much beleaguered defense ranked second in total tackles last season with 1,167 to the Buffalo Bills 1,203.

The problem is they finished near the bottom of the NFL (t-25th) in sacks with just 34 total. It would be fair to say the defensive pass rush missed the presence of Osi Umenyiora after his departure the offseason before to Atlanta. Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul were supposed to step up in a less crowded defensive front. They didn't.

Since then, Tuck departed for greener pastures and JPP is left to hold together the once mighty Giants pass rush. He will have company up front with Mathais Kiwanuka, Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson among others. The Linebacker corp could also pick up the slack with the return of Jon Beason and the early emergence of Devon Kennard.

The real improvement to that pass rush could be additions to a group that may rarely enter the opposing backfield: the secondary. Last season, the defense as a whole ranked 10th in passing yards allowed per game with 223.3. They combined for 17 INTs, ranking in the middle of the league (t-14). No NFL QB was afraid to pass on their secondary.

With little pass rush, plenty of time to check receivers and average coverage to throw into, opposing QBs had minimal trouble handling the Giants pass defense. That is a tune that could change very quickly come 2014.

The Giants addressed this with the additions of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (career 19 INT), Walter Thurmond (key defender for reigning champion Seattle Seahawks after returning to full health last year), Zack Bowman (mainstay on the Chicago Bears defense since 2009) and Quintin Demps (4 INT for Kansas City last season).

This veteran crew will join Prince Amukamara, Trumaine McBride and Antrel Rolle. This group combine for a formidable 66 career INTs. In other words, this is a group that knows how to defend the pass and can change the momentum of a game on any play with a key interception. They are fast enough to keep up with the average (and some above average) NFL receiver and buy the front D-Line enough time to break through to pressure the opposing QB.

With the secondary improved and putting team field-stretching offenses on lock down, teams will look for a shorter game more often than not. This plays right into the hands of the Giants defense and we should see more drives cut short this season when they were extended and scoring drives last season.

With all that said, it all comes down to whether or not these players can meld together and execute as they're all more than capable of doing. Time will tell.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New York Giants Camp: Rookie Watch- What to Expect from Giants Rookie Beckham Jr.

Beckham Jr is welcomed by Commissioner Roger Goodell at the 2014 NFL Draft. Photo courtesy of the NFL 

Tom Uddo
BGB Asst Editor

When the New York Giants drafted Odell Beckham Jr. in the first-round of the 2014 NFL draft (12th), they had only one thing in mind....speed.

The WR out of LSU, who racked up over 1,000 yards last season and won the "Paul Hornung Award" recognizing the most versatile player in college football, will look to use his quickness down to the field to give the Giants another deep threat option outside of Victor Cruz.

Barring injury, there is no question that the man they call "ODB" will be a week 1 starter; with GM Jerry Reese stating that Cruz will only be used as an inside presence, it will be interesting to see how Beckham Jr. plays on the outside opposite of Reuben Randle.

When the coaching staff draft Beckham Jr. they had the belief that he could outrun many defensive backs in the NFL, and with excellent separation skills and route-running capabilities, his on-field presence will definitely give the Giants offense space to open up the field.

With the departure of Hakeem Nicks to the Indianapolis Colts, the Giants are in need of a receiver with good hands who can climb the ladder to make a catch. Nicks, who didn't manage to score a touchdown all of last season and was verbally unhappy with being on the team, will be long forgotten if Beckham Jr. can prove to be worth an early first-round pick.

While many criticized Beckham Jr. due to his height, standing at only 5-feet 11-inches, his separation will be crucial, while he can do some serious damage after the catch with quick feet to slip through defenders. During his time at LSU, Beckham Jr. was a return specialist and besides his 1,000+ reception yards on 59 catches, he was able set the LSU single-season record for all purpose yards with 2,315 total yards (including a 109-yard touchdown run off of a missed FG attempt).

Even though the Giants signed Trindon Holiday and Quinton Demps in the offseason, who will mainly serve as the kick/punt returners, the coaching staff has said that Beckham Jr. will definitely get some looks during camp.

The focus will be on another offseason move in the return of Mario Manningham, who spent the last two years with the San Francisco 49ers, but battled injuries while spending his time on the west coast. I think that the Giants coaching staff will not overwork Manningham in fear of another injury and may invest more time focusing on the progress of Beckham Jr.

In addition, the verdict is still out on Jerrel Jernigan, who finished the season with some solid numbers, but still remains inconsistent to the Giants offense and may have to battle Beckham Jr. during training camp for a significant role.

It will be interesting to see the type of formation that offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo implements for the Giants attack, but if they go with the traditional three receiver lineup, there is a good chance that Beckham Jr. will be on the field for a majority of the snaps.

Look for "ODB" to connect early and often with Eli Manning, and hopefully we will see him reach the endzone multiple times this season, showcasing the versatility and speed that he has.

Monday, July 21, 2014

New York Giants Camp Opens with Questions on Ground Game

David Wilson breaks a run against Washington last season. This photo is courtesy of the New York Times

Tom Uddo
BGB Asst Editor

Today is the official opening day of training camp for the New York Giants (although the first practice is tomorrow), and after a poor start last season and a mediocre finish with a 7-9 record, there are a lot of questions as camp is set to begin.

While a majority of the focus is on the chemistry between new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and Eli Manning with the adaptation of the new offense that is set to take the field, one of the bigger questions that has to be answered involves the Giants ground game.

With six running backs on the roster as camp starts, the Giants will have to decide how they want to utilize the ground game and give Eli & Co. a secondary attack that proves more effective than last season. Big Blue ranked among the league's worst in terms of running the ball, finishing with an average of 83.3 yards rushing per game, ranking them 29th in the NFL; a huge factor to the 0-6 start that the team got off to with an offense that was completely out of sync.

The loss of running back David Wilson to a neck injury was a huge blow to the offense and an even bigger concern going into the offseason. While many were unsure if Wilson would be able to ever play again or be the same player, he is on track to do everything in his power to do just that after having neck surgery in January.

Early this morning, Wilson was cleared by doctors for contact, but again, the Giants will play it slow as we still have several weeks until the first preseason game.

Wilson's Tweet

So what can we expect going into training camp? Will newly acquired halfback Rashad Jennings, the most complete back the Giants have, be worked often during the camp or will the team save his workload for the season? How will the Giants handle the return of Wilson and will he be the same player that he was before his neck injury? How will fourth-round rookie Andre Williams, the Heisman candidate drafted out of Boston College be utilized in the Giants ground game?

Peyton Hillis, the veteran who stepped in when the team had numerous injuries in the backfield, proved to be valuable in terms of blocking and catching, but will he find a spot on the roster when everyone is healthy? Will Michael Cox and Kendall Gaskins be able to find their way onto the depth chart if not as running back, but another special team option?

There is no question that when the Giants signed Jennings in the offseason they eyed him as the starter; with Wilson's health still up in the air at the time. The 29-year-old former Oakland Raider who produced over 700 yards last season while filling in for an injured Darren McFadden will be a focal point of the Giants ground game when the season starts.

While Wilson was just cleared this morning, the Giants are hoping that he will be able to serve as a counterpunch behind Jennings, and the combination of the two backs could be as explosive as any ground game in the NFL. Not only will Wilson be able to give Jennings some rest, but the Giants coaching staff has always viewed Wilson as a running back with breakout possibilities for long distance yardage, something that Big Blue was not accustomed to last season.

The utilization of Williams into the offense will be interesting to see, and even though his capabilities in the NFL are still unknown, the NCAA league-leader in rushing yards last season could be the so-called 'diamond in the rough' that the team saw him as when they drafted him.

So does Peyton Hillis have any chance of making the roster? Not if everyone remains healthy, as the veteran back will have to really do something spectacular during camp to earn his way onto the depth chart above Williams. The same goes for Cox and Gaskins, who seem to have no shot at making the team as running backs with the health of Wilson in check. Cox proved to be valuable on special teams last season as a kick returner, but the Giants won't need him this year at that position so his future on Big Blue remains doubtful.

If the Giants backfield can stay healthy, as they have had trouble doing over the past couple of seasons, and Wilson returns to the player that he once was, the combination of Jennings-Wilson-Williams could be a ground game trio that ranks among the best in the NFL and will provide Manning and the rest of the offense a strong second option, a situation that Big Blue hopes to have after a disastrous scenario last season.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

New York Giants 2014 Mock Draft: Several Scenarios, Which do you like?

Giants GM Jerry Reese addresses the media after a game last season. Photo courtesy of

Isaiah Matteosian
BGB Reporter

The NFL Draft is upon us. The New York Giants sit at #12. Provided that they do not trade up or out of that spot, there are several viable directions for the team to go in. They have multiple needs and voids to fill on both sides of the ball.

With that said, here are several scenarios that they could go with for this years' draft. Which one do you hope to see the most?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Can Big Blue turn it around? Or is it too late?

A Thursday night match-up with the Bears could bring the Giants to 0-6, or it can possibly start a turn-around to a more positive second half.

Shale Briskin
BGB Assistant Editor

Words cannot thoroughly describe how bad the Giants have been in the first 5 weeks of the 2013 season. The Giants have looked lost and very prone to making critical mistakes at the worst moments. There have not been any certain areas that have struggled that much more than other areas. Pretty much everyone from the front office to the coaching staff to the offense and defense are all at fault for the disaster that has occurred.

Well actually some words could describe some of the reasons why the Giants have played so poorly. Offensively, the running game has been nearly non-existent, with David Wilson coughing up fumbles and getting hurt. Brandon Jacobs' return has not been the biggest boost either because he simply is not the same player he once was. 

Because of this, the Giants have had to rely heavily on the passing game. Eli Manning has made his fair share of mistakes with interceptions, while Victor Cruz has played well and Hakeem Nicks has not had as many opportunities for receptions. Reuben Randle and tight end Brandon Myers have both been serviceable, but none of them have lived up to their full potential yet, for a reason beyond their control. That reason would be the diminished offensive line that has already allowed Manning to get sacked 15 times in 5 games. 

Back when the Giants won the first of their two recent Super Bowl championships, they had a veteran offensive line that consistently gave Manning great protection in the pocket. Even in their other Super Bowl season in 2011, Manning still had very good protection, but this current offensive line is a far cry from the past. Center David Baas and right guard Chris Snee have both been hurt and fellow veteran offensive lineman David Diehl has missed time with injuries as well. The replacements simply have not gotten the job done and the Giants rank 29th in the NFL in points scored as a result. Only the fellow winless Steelers, Jaguars and Buccaneers have scored fewer points.

The offense has been bad, but the defense has been just as bad, if not worse. The Giants have given up 182 total points thus far, which is the most in the NFL. The defensive line has not provided enough pressure on opposing quarterbacks and offensive lines, while the linebackers and defensive backs have all underachieved as well. The Giants rank 26th in yards allowed per game, 22nd in passing yards allowed per game, tied for 27th in rushing yards allowed per game, tied for 20th in interceptions, and 31st in sacks. These numbers are usually not going to lead to wins, more often than not. The Giants' defense has been a complete mess and regardless of what kind of injuries there may be, everyone on the Giants' defense needs to really step up and turn this team around.

I for one am not surprised that the Giants have had various issues, but I never expected things to get this bad by now. This really goes to show the work that general manger Jerry Reese will need to do in the offseason. He has not done much in years to really improve certain positions, like running back, offensive line and especially linebackers. If the Giants can get a top-five draft pick in 2014, they should use it on a game-changing running back or linebacker to really solidify such areas of concern that will not improve themselves on their own. Reese's known philosophy of drafting the "best player available" may have worked in recent years, but right now, it could be time for a change in direction.

Reese and head coach Tom Coughlin both do not deserve to get fired, being that the duo put together the 2007 and 2011 Super Bowl champion teams. They should both get at least one more chance to turn the ship around and hopefully some lessons can be learned on how to put together a better team.

Speaking of Coughlin, a lot of people apparently think that because the Giants have been so bad, that means he needs to go. I couldn't disagree more. Coughlin has been a model of excellence for coaching and he will not be Hall of Fame bound for nothing. He has had some very successful teams in his ten seasons with the Giants and at this point, he should be able to coach until he is ready to retire. He has earned that kind of distinction among head coaches. It would be a travesty if he is not brought back in 2014.

All this stuff about the future will be discussed when the time is right. For now, the Giants have a big game tonight against the Bears and we will see which Giants team will show up. Will it be the same team that has underperformed for over a month? Or the team that has played brilliantly in the postseason when they won their two recent Super Bowl championships? Hopefully, we will see the latter tonight!