Monday, September 8, 2014

Here Comes the Boom: Giants/Lions Kickoff Primer

It's finally upon us, opening night for the New York Giants as they kickoff the 2014 NFL season against the Detroit Lions on Monday night football. With Big Blue failing to make the playoffs the past three years, and after a disastrous start to last season, the Giants will look to get out to a quick start on the road in the Motor City.

Yesterday, we witnessed embarrassment for a majority of the NFC East. In no time, Dallas was getting blown out at home by the Niners, while Washington failed to even score a touchdown with a "new and improved" offense. Philadelphia, who got out to a slow start against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, were able to put together a solid second half, coming away with the only victory for the division.
Even though it is the first week of the season, the Giants would make a statement with a victory against the Lions tonight. Here comes the boom, and your primer for the New York Giants and their week 1 matchup.

Matchup: New York Giants (0-0) vs. Detroit Lions (0-0)

Game Time: 7:10ET (Part of an ESPN MNF doubleheader, so it's an early start)

Where: Ford Field - Detroit, MI

Line: Lions -6.5 (Figure if the Giants lose, it won't be by just three points)

Injuries: Odell Beckham Jr. (OUT), Markus Kuhn (OUT), James Brewer (OUT), Jon Beason (PROBABLE), Brandon Mosley (PROBABLE)

The Boom: It is going to be interesting to see how this new Giants secondary handles superstar Calvin Johnson. Many claim that Big Blue's backfield is the best in years; well they are going to have their hands full with 'Megatron', who is sure to see plenty of targets from QB Matthew Stafford.



Rashad Jennings will look to bolster the Giants running game against a Lions defensive line that has proven their value over the years. (Photo Credit: New York Daily News)


Another point of emphasis will be the one-two punch of running backs for New York, with the combination of Rashad Jennings and rookie Andre Williams. While Jennings handled most of the work during the preseason, successfully, I might add, look for Williams to be that 'lightning in a bottle playmaker' the Giants hoped that David Wilson could be, and possibly even take some goal-line carries.
The Giants offensive line is going to have a tough test against a solid Lions defensive line that could cause headaches for Eli Manning and an offense that is still trying to find some chemistry.

Unsung Hero: While eyes will be focused on Manning and his connection with wideout Victor Cruz, look out for Rueben Randle to see some balls thrown his way. With Odell Beckham Jr. on the sidelines still recovering from a hamstring injury, Randle is going to be a huge factor in the Giants passing attack and should have some space while the Lions defense contains Cruz.

The End of the Tight-End: So after tonight, will we all remember Larry Donnell, the Giants starting tight-end or will he be another member of a unit that has changed members several times over the last five years? Only time will tell, but look for new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo to rotate several options at the TE position including Daniel Fells and Adrien Robinson to see who comes out on top.

Prediction: There's no doubt that the Giants have an uphill battle tonight against the Lions. Some even picked them to win the NFC North over the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears (which might be the case after this past week's play). It's hard for me to pick Big Blue when we haven't really seen the offense click. The running game is much improved from last season, which will only be effective if the offensive line can rebound. On the opposite side, if the Giants can contain 'Megatron' and Reggie Bush, who is a proven run/catch option, while getting pressure on Stafford, they could have all the momentum and provide a spark for the offense. I think defense wins this game, and Big Blue comes out on top 24-17.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

4-0: What does it mean?

The New York Giants finished 4-0 in the 2014 preseason. Obviously the start of an excellent season.........or is it? Any NFL connoisseur will scoff and mention that the Detroit Lions of 2008 also won every game of the preseason, but failed to win a single regular season game. On the surface, it doesn't matter. There's no trophy nor is there playoffs for those with the best preseason records. One might question the existence of this late summer taste of football, but that's a different subject entirely.

For now, let's analyze the games as a whole. The Giants may have been ahead when the clock struck zero, but had to come back in at least two of those games. In their game against the Indianapolis Colts on August 16 before having to score four straight touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Eli Manning couldn't keep the ball and had to depend on Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib, who finished 6-15 for 64 yds, 1 TD and 11-15, 158 yds, 1 TD respectfully.

Against the cross town rival Jets, the team trailed 10-0 in the second quarter before the starters woke up. But this isn't about the offense, which we'll all admit needs some fine tuning come next week's Monday night game in Detroit. This is about what the wins say about the team as a whole. Sure, a win is a win. It will count on paper as a victory. However, in a just-for-show preseason, how does it reflect?

Well, looking at our sub-par to poor starters and seeing as though the backups won't play when leather meets toe, it doesn't look quite as good. When you're constantly coming back from behind to win games, sooner or later time will run out.

Not only that, but how ready will the team be if the starters come in and out during the game? And the only moments that provide the victories are when the backups play? Surely this could be said about any NFL team, but what the record does, whether it's 4-0 or 0-4, exposes the strengths and weaknesses.




Analzying the New York Giants Depth Chart after Roster Cut

With the NFL season beginning tonight, teams have released their depth charts going into week 1 after cutting down to the 53-man roster.

The Giants go into this season facing a ton of questions after a mediocre one last year that started off miserably at 0-6, and finished at 8-8. To push Big Blue deeper into the 'Twilight Zone', they managed to go undefeated in preseason, while the first team offense looked as if it had no pulse.

As weeks progressed, even more questions were raised; when will we see first-round rookie draft pick Odell Beckham Jr. who is still weeks away from playing with a hamstring injury? How will the Giants cope with the loss of Geoff Schwartz? Who is going to fill in at tight-end? Will the offense under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo click before it's too late? But let's take it one day at a time, and first, look at the Giants depth chart.

Offense (Courtesy of Giants.com):

NYG Offense

Nothing out of the ordinary comes to mind when looking at the Giants offensive depth chart. Guard and rookie Weston Richburg steps in for the injured Schwartz who is recovering from a dislocated toe and someone had to start at TE so they decided to give Larry Donnell the first crack at it.

Donnell, who was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2012 hasn't started a regular season game yet, and although he started at the position most of training camp, coach Tom Coughlin hasn't ruled out swapping out Donnell for Daniel Fells or Adrien Robinson midgame. While the Giants coaching staff wish that one of the players outshined another, that hasn't been the case, so it will be interesting to see if any of these players are starting at the TE position by the end of the year or if the Giants make a move to acquire a playmaker.

Keep an eye on Will Beatty as the effectiveness of the offensive line (and possibly Eli Manning's health) revolves around his play, and after a poor 2013 season, Beatty is looking to get back on track.

At wide receiver, Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle will be staples in the passing game, and the Giants hope that Jerrel Jernigan can show a little of the flair he presented at the end of last season, a little sooner this year with Beckham Jr. on the sidelines.

Many believe that Andre Williams will have a stellar rookie season at the running back position, sharing carries with newly acquired back Rashad Jennings; a combination that is much improved from last season.

Defense (Courtesy of Giants.com):
NYG Defense

It's pretty simple on defense; although Jon Beason isn't listed as the starting MLB, he practiced for the first time on Monday and said he will be ready for the Monday night opener against the Detroit Lions. If Beason can play, he will, as he is possibly one the most important players on Big Blue's defense, as his presence was felt last season when he was acquired from the Carolina Panthers.
Mathais Kiwanuka, Cullen Jenkins, Johnathan Hankins and Jason Pierre-Paul make up the Giants pass rush, and while Damontre Moore is listed as a backup, he will get a good amount of snaps after a positive year that has his stock on the rise.

If there are questions that the Giants don't have, it's in their secondary. With the acquisition of Quintin Demps, DRC and Walter Thurmond III, accompanied by the usual cast of Prince Amukamara, Stevie Brown, and the always vocal Antrel Rolle; Big blue shouldn't have a problem matching up with the top offenses in the league.

The depth chart is only a list of names. Those names on the list can be great, but what matters is the chemistry on the field and how they play together as a unit. If the preseason is any indication of the Giants regular season, the offense may be in trouble. It could be the New York Giants of the past, where the defense leads the offense, and if that is the case, names like JPP, and Jon Beason are going to need to be role-players as the season begins.

Stay tuned for the BGB staff predictions on how the Giants season will play out this year. How do you feel about the 'product' that Big Blue is putting on the field?

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!