Friday, August 22, 2014

New York Giants Preseason: Three Players That Must Step up Against the Jets

The Giants' defense needs Jason Pierre-Paul to lead them to what hopefully be a better season this fall.

Shale Briskin
BGB Assistant Editor

The Giants tonight will play in their third preseason game of the 2014 season against the crosstown rival New York Jets. The Jets will be the home team even though the two teams of course share the same stadium. Here are three players that need to step up tonight for the Giants.

1. The entire Offensive Line

Okay yes the entire offensive line is not one specific person, but when the entire unit is not particularly strong, it's not as easy to single out particular linemen that are noticeably better than others. But the bottom line is that the offensive line is the biggest factor to whether the Giants can be successful this season or miss the postseason for the third consecutive year.

The retirements of veteran linemen David Diehl and Chris Snee were huge losses for the Giants in the offseason. As a result, they will have to rely on J.D. Walton, Brandon Moseley, Geoff Schwartz, Justin Pugh and Will Beatty to protect Eli Manning and create open holes for the running backs. It's clearly not the same kind of offensive line the Giants had during their two recent Super Bowl seasons. But if at least some of these linemen really step up, it could make a significant difference for the Giants.

2. WR Odell Beckham Jr.

The Giants' 1st round pick of the most recent NFL draft will need to be a major factor as he tries to fill the shoes of the departed Hakeem Nicks. Beckham also recently stated that he believes the Giants have the potential to have one of the NFL's best offenses. It was a very bold statement to make, and now that Beckham has talked the talk, he will need to walk the walk and back up his words.

A big game tonight vs the Jets could make a statement that Beckham not only could be a big weapon for the Giants, but also a potential Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate.

3. Jason Pierre-Paul

Remember when the Giants' defensive line included Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, and Justin Tuck? Those days are over now with Strahan retired, Umenyiora playing for the Falcons and Tuck now a member of the Raiders.

The Giants' most notable defensive player now is Jason Pierre-Paul, who needs to step up and be a leader for the defense. When he is at his best, JPP is explosive and can really rack up the sacks. But last season, JPP was hurt for part of the season and only had two sacks all year. He will need to get back to being the elite defensive end he was in 2011 when he had 16.5 sacks and made the Pro Bowl in order for the Giants' defense to have a better pass rush. 

The Giants over the years have been well known for explosive pass rushing and for this current team, it all starts with the performance of JPP. Hopefully, he will stay healthy and bounce back into the elite pass rusher he has shown he can be.

Tonight's game can be seen on CBS at 7:30 PM EST. Let's go Giants!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

New York Giants Preseason: Three Things We Learned From the Colts Game

Corey Washington brings in the game winning TD catch from QB Ryan Nassib late in the 4th Qrt of last night's game vs the Colts. Photo courtesy of NY Daily News

Frank Gray
BGB Editor

Last night, the New York Giants traveled to Indy to take on the Indianapolis Colts. After a remarkable comeback from 26 points down, the Giants won to improve to 3-0 in the preseason. That may sound wonderful, but keep in mind that it's preseason. The records really mean very little. What does matter, however, is execution.

With that in mind, here are a few noteworthy items to take away from the game last night. One, the backup QB position is not as settled as first reported last week. Two, the offense has not gelled at this point. Three, the special teams has a lot of work left.

First, the backup QB spot. earlier this preseason, we predicted that Ryan Nassib would win the job over Curtis Painter. Earlier this week, all reports were to the opposite as Painter was the second QB on the depth chard going into the game last night and Coach Coughlin admitted to wanting to carry only two going into the season.

After last night, however, Nassib's comeback performance and ability to run the offense when compared to Painter's, may have Coughlin rethinking the depth chart. Painter was 6 for 15 with 64 yards passing and one TD. Nassib was a bit more impressive as he went 11 for 15 with 158 yards passing and a TD. Nassib was more accurate and ran the offense more effectively.

He did face a third string defense which could be a major difference compared to Painter facing the second string. The only way to see if that was the factor that contributed to a better performance for Nassib would be to have him face the second string of the Jets next week while Painter faces the third string. Then, we'll see who deserves the backup.

Next, the backups are one thing, but the starters are something entirely different. Starting QB Eli Manning was a feeble one for seven for six yards. SIX YARDS! Let that sink in.The run game was once again solid with Rashad Jenning, Andre Williams and Michael Cox combining for 68 yards on 32 carries with Cox finding the endzone once.

The O-Line is not gelling because they have not had consistent starts. It's been more of a shuffling to see who works together best. That's not going to strengthen the trenches. Despite that, they haven't done a bad job. The receivers have had drops and fumbles galore. The receivers are capable of doing better and the team is hoping that they come around with more snaps in games.

The Tight End spot is the most non-existent role on the offense right now. For a West Coast-style offense, a TE is very important, yet no one has stepped up to be that stand out starter. With two more games left to figure it all out, the starters certainly need to be in for more than a drive or two in order to maintain continuity.

Finally, the special teams has been mediocre at best. Quentin Demps had a huge fumble lost early in the game that led to the Colts padding their lead. Seems to be more of the same in the return game. There were no field goals attempted but Giants kickers were perfect in three extra point tries. Steve Weatherford was once again solid punting.

So it comes down to field position from returns. This has been a long problem for the Giants and one that Demps was brought in to fix. If last night was an aberration than they'll be okay. If it was an indication of things to come, than it will be a very long and turnover filled season. Let's hope for the former rather than the latter.

With all this said, it's important to reiterate that while a comeback win last night is exciting, it's not as important as the overall objective of fixing the weaknesses on this team and filling roster spots with those best qualified. It's only preseason. There are two games left to sort it out. Before you get too excited or too dejected, repeat this mantra to yourself as often as need be: it's only preseason!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New York Giants Preseason: Best Offense in the League?

New York Giants QB Eli Manning runs a practice early in the preseason. Photo courtesy of Big Blue United

Frank Gray
BGB Editor

Every preseason it happens. A rookie opens his mouth and makes an optimistic assessment of the team as a whole or makes a lofty prediction of what the team is going to do in the upcoming season. Almost always, the boasts come up empty and the player ends up with the proverbial egg on the face.

This season that rookie is Odell Beckham Jr. In a recent interview, Beckham said the Giants offense "has the potential to be, if not the best, than one of the best in the league". While you have to love the confidence, the boast has to be taken with a grain of salt.

"It has potential to be, if not the best, one of the best in the league," Beckham said before Giants practice Tuesday. "When you have a receiving corps like we do and a great quarterback along with the backfield and the tight ends and much improvement from the offensive line, I don't see anything but being one of the best in the league."

His words are inspirational, true, but how much value do they have? They have a solid receiving corps as Beckham points out. When adding the blazing speed of Beckham to the slippery Victor Cruz, the consistent Mario Manningham and the breakout Rueben Randle, it is quite a formidable quartet. That doesn't even include Corey Washington or Jerrel Jernigan.

The running backs have the potential to be dominant. Whether its Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams or Peyton Hillis behind the line, the run game is far and away better than it was this time last year. A new and younger Offensive Line leads the way and seems to be able to clear holes for those running backs and protect QB Eli Manning.

These assessments are all accurate to a point. Eli has the ability to be one of the best QBs in the game when he's on. When he's not, he's skittish, and an embarrassment. Even with two rings. Jennings can be strong when given consistent carries, but when forced to split time, he has a history of not being as productive. Hillis has not gotten his game back and Andre Williams is unproven in real game situations throughout a long NFL season.

The wide receivers have the ability to make big drops as well as big catches. Those drops include deflecting the ball into the hands of opposing defenders. The source of the quote, Odell Beckham Jr hasn't even played a preseason game, let alone a real NFL game. Jernigan has yet to play up to his potential. Like Beckham, Williams hasn't played in a real NFL game either. Manningham may have questions about how much he has left given his bad tour in San Francisco.

The O-Line may be young and strong, but they have to have time to gel together as a cohesive unit before any real assessment can be made about how good they are. Finally, the Tight End position. This is the spot that is most up in the air and so vital for new coordinator Ben McAdoo. Except for Adrien Robinson, all the faces are new to Eli Manning.

With that comes an inability to trust them in key situations. He will have to trust them and have them step up or he will have to find other options. In the end, confidence is great, but with as many questions as there are players fighting for roster spots, it's easy to see why we have to proceed with caution when hyping this offense as a whole. They do have the potential to be good.

That's very true, however, they also have the potential to completely fizzle when the pressure is on and blow up like a balloon in stratosphere; the higher the stakes, the faster they pop.

Only time will tell. Until then, let's keep some perspective.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Giants-Steelers preview

The New York Giants will make their preseason debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight at 7:45 at Metlife Stadium. The Giants are coming off a 17-13 victory over Buffalo in the Hall of Fame game Sunday.

Both of these franchises had a slow start to the 2013 season but slowly picked up towards the end albeit both missing the postseason. Record wise, the Steelers went 2-4 after the first six weeks while the Giants went 0-6 and then went 6-4 and 7-3 respectively the final 10 weeks. These two may sound like the same team at first, but Pittsburgh was definitely the stronger team in 2013. It starts at the quarterback position, where after a rough start, Roethlisberger had one of his best seasons throwing for 4,261 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 375 completions. Eli on the other hand, while not awful, was sacked 39 times and picked off a career-worst 27 times. A lot of this is due to problems on the offensive line, a huge mess that Big Blue still hasn't cleaned up. In fact, it may get worse upon Chris Snee's retirement.

Manning will have someone to throw to, even without Nicks, with Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz and a possible Mario Manningham. As will Big Ben without Emmanuel Sanders who got traded to the Broncos. Antonio Brown looks promising coming off 110 receptions last year and promising candidates Martavius Bryant and Markus Wheaton back him up.

Both teams are set to improve this season with players returning from injuries and impressive offseasons. The Steelers should be fine with Le'Veon Bell at the Running Back position, but if not a resurging LeGarrette Blount could be an option. The Giants big improvement has been their defense, signing Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond to add to the stacked core of Jason Pierre-Paul and company.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Strahan a year late, Why the NFL made a huge mistake

New York Giants legend Michael Strahan unveils his Hall of Fame bust Saturday evening. Photo courtesy of

Jackson Walsh
BGB Contributor

On February 1, 2014, legendary New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This past weekend, he accepted his nomination and his enshrinement and gave a stirring speech. However, this should have been a year ago. The Hall of Fame made a huge mistake and proved holes in their system by not electing Strahan in 2013.

Big Blue did get one of their greats nominated last year, coach Bill Parcells. His nomination was clearly warranted, especially the way he turned around the Giants franchise back in the 1980s and lead the team to two championships in the Super Bowl era, a midst his other successes in his coaching career.

Strahan's numbers, however, do stand out for a defenseman. Not only did he set the single season record for sacks in 2001, but being a seven time pro bowler, four time first team all pro, two time second team all pro along with his postseason success and leading the league in sacks against in 2003 speaks for itself. One has to wonder why Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp slipped by him for a name on the ballot.

In the fifteen nominees selected each year to enter into the HOF, several positions that have had several deserving players have been overlooked. Raider punter Ray Guy has also just now been nominated after several decades in wihch punters were not well represented in Canton. Defensive ends and linebackers are among those positions often overlooked when it comes time for the voting.

Also, the Selection Committee ultimately makes the decisions. After they narrow down 15 name for the ballot from nominations, they meet the day before the Super Bowl to decide who goes through. A player is only elected if he receives an 80% vote from the board. It seems like a fair voting system at first, but becomes narrow when only seven players are elected a year.

Not electing Strahan last year for the Pro Football Hall of Fame is an example of the many holes that the voting system has. First off, only the Board gets the final vote. The votes of fans, players, and coaches only count a small percentage toward who gets chosen as an inductee. A player's chances of being in the Pro Football HOF rely almost entirely on the opinion of a 46-person committee.

Also, The Pro Football Hall of Fame website states that while the ground rules are four to seven inductees chosen a year, there is no set number for any class of enshrinees.  Just the small arranging of words can allow for possibly more selections to be made in certain years for deserving players.

While not all the 25 additionally chosen players and the narrowed down 15 can be nominated each year, and those left out will get their chance, the door can be pushed open a bit further.