There are certainly a lot of fingers being pointed, and opinions being expressed out there in Fanland this morning. Look, it’s Game 1 of the season and no season gets decided here for any team, but I’ll make a few comments on my observations from the 2 games I watched yesterday in their entirety: Niners –v- Green Bay, and Giants –v- Cowboys…
First, let me briefly touch on the Niners game. What’s super interesting is that we saw a very different Kaepernick, passing more from in the pocket than we have been conditioned to expect, and at times it almost appeared as though he was hesitant to take off. On the contrary, what was most telling is Colin Kaepernick showed that he can be effective by not running. In the end he had 412 yards passing with 3 touchdowns, and only 22 yards rushing. In fact, Green Bay contained the run almost entirely – Frank Gore was ineffective last night – and regardless of pressure from Clay Matthews, Kaepernick showed his versatility. And this could preserve his career, not to mention make him quite a threat. Something to keep a close eye on in the weeks to come. They play their biggest nemesis, Seattle next Sunday night so stay tuned for what many think will be a preview of the NFC Championship.
A great game between 2 of the best teams right now in the NFC, the Green Bay v Niners game definitely started the season off the way anyone would anticipate in my house – hearts pounding on our living room for 3 hours; screaming, pounding on tables, and expletives abound; and a white Labrador anything but thrilled that football season is back. Yes, unfortunately, as much as we would love for Riley to love football as much as we do… she really hates it. Too noisy.
But Game 1 of my day would not be the end of the riotous world that is the Hubbard household during football season. We then had to endure the exhilarating fun of Football Night in America – and quite frankly, while I was looking forward to it all day, I was also a nervous wreck. Something told me that I would be in for another season requiring a lot of yoga and heart rate monitors. Of course I was right. My intuition rarely fails me before a Giants game. A few thoughts on the joyful Giants kickoff at AT&T (Cowboys) Stadium:
First things first: Faith was better than Carrie. Sorry. I had much higher hopes for Carrie Underwood taking on the Sunday Night Football anthem. At the very least I thought they would show more of her drop-dead legs. But they didn’t. Consensus among the men and women I polled: 100% agree. Faith Hill was better.
Next Up, Flip-Flop Governor? Was anybody watching the Fox NFL Sunday song and dance piece with Rob Riggle focused on the Super Bowl being in New York? At the end, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had the best line, standing in front of MetLife Stadium as he said poitedly, “Um. The Super Bowl is in… New Jersey.” Come to think of it, there has been quite a bit of commentary I’ve heard from Governor Christie lately about The Giants and Jets being in New Jersey and not in New York. So it was extra exciting to see on TV the same (super committed to New Jersey football) Governor Christie (and life-long Dallas Cowboy fan from the days of Stauback), sitting right next to Jerry Jones in his box at AT&T Stadium for the game. Of course, we are absolutely sure that someone must have told Christie he better get out of there before they showed another TV shot, or whoever may be remaining from the Sopranos clan could be waiting for him in Trenton upon his return. Don’t get me wrong – I (surprisingly) happen to like a lot of things about Chris Christie, but this seems a bit on the flip-floppy side to me. Just one more thing Gov: Justin Pugh grew up an Eagles fan. Damontre Moore and New Jersey native Victor Cruz grew up Cowboys fans. The second they became New York Football Giants, all allegiances were dropped. Just sayin’.
Okay, my thoughts the game: Aside from being a horrible 3 hours (actually it was a horrible first 3 minutes), as expected The Giants confirmed that stock on stress-relieving devices should go up this Fall in the New York Metropolitan Area. We also learned that just because you have arguably one of the best wide receiver corps in the NFL, it doesn’t mean you can win games with that alone. Too many mistakes across the board. Poor discipline. As I have been saying since Preseason Game 1: Running Backs and the paper thin OL are the biggest concern. I won’t recant what we saw last night, but exiting the game with a total of ZERO running backs that can be counted on certainly didn’t give me fits of joy.
At the end of the day, if the Offensive Line continues to be this penetrable, I fear for Eli Manning making it though September. Eli needs a little time to find his receiver. If we don’t resolve the running game issue, both as far as fumbling and blocking, there is no way the Giants can have a winning season. While it’s great to have 3 Wide Receivers who can make big plays (Nicks, Cruz and Randle had 333 yards receiving cumulatively last night), a solid running game keeps the other team guessing, and needs to be able to barrel through to get first downs, and block when called upon. I certainly expect to see a veteran Running Back on the team in the next couple of days (I expected that before last night’s game). I will come back to this later.
As for the rest of the team, I was really impressed by the Defensive Backs – we saw some very nice looks from Prince, Thomas, Ross, Mundy, and Antrel. Even when Prince went out, Aaron Ross stepped in a was aggressive. Thank goodness Mundy returned shortly after the head-to-head collision with Prince. And by the way – note to Chris Collinsworth, it’s MUNDY, NOT MONDAY! Get it right. He’s shown he is worth getting it right.
As far as the Defensive Line, there were some good things and some not so good. Justin Tuck definitely looks like he is back in the form we expect from him – mentally and physically. While it was nice to see JPP back, I was nervous pre-game about his conditioning, and while he eventually had a sack late in the game, he definitely does not seem to be quite 100%. The line was lackluster as far as the pass rush is concerned, with just a few exceptions (why is it we are getting so little information on Damontre Moore‘s ‘shoulder bruise’?) Granted, they were also likely exhausted since they were on the field for almost 2/3 of the game. The Linebackers need to up the energy and the speed. Again, they were clearly exhausted and I think at one point, Paysinger needed to go into the locker room for an IV. Oh, by the way, I’m thinking the Defense needs to practice stripping the ball. The only guy the Giants had who was consistently good at that is an Atlanta Falcon now. We need to actively do more of what David Wilson had done to him.
Back to the Offense because I think the Defense is going to be fine – in fact, I think they will be better than fine. Have I mentioned that the OL and RB situation is the biggest concern? But we can’t say Eli is playing his finest football either. Eli is off and he has been all preseason. He needs to tighten up his decision-making and find the way to being on the same page with his guys. As the leader of the team, Eli must find the way to being on the same page with his guys. Can he do it? Of course he can – he is Eli Manning. I’d like to hope he can do this before next Sunday’s game against Peyton, or we will have another fun afternoon.
Who will be new in blue for the Denver game? Back to the Running Backs. Look, I think if David Wilson can get the fumblitis under control, he can do some great things, but is he going to be able to block 300+ pound guys when called upon in order to give Eli time to pass? Can he be counted on to power through a line for short yards or to get into the end zone? I highly doubt it. The Giants absolutely need to bring in a big, veteran back, who can plow through a line and block when necessary. Ideally, this is also someone who can provide veteran leadership for the younger backs who are learning their way.
Names we seem to be hearing are Willis McGahee (30; Broncos, Ravens, Bills; The U), Brandon Jacobs (31, Giants, Niners, knows the system), Beanie Wells (2009 draft; Cardinals, young but injury prone), and Tim Hightower (27, Cardinals, Redskins). I am eager to hear how things go in the workout for any of these guys. While he is older, I’ve always liked McGahee (and I will never forget the fateful Fiesta Bowl between Ohio State and The U when he hyperextended his knee and ruptured everything known to man – ACL, MCL, PCL; amazing he came back and was still taken by the Bills in the first round). McGahee was still averaging 4.4 yards a carry in 2012 at Denver. He’s injury prone, but resilient. And did I mentioned he is from The U? Gotta like those guys from The U (Rolle, Ojomo, Armistead, Philips, OJ Anderson, Feagles…).
As far as Brandon ‘BJ’ Jacobs, while some people I respect disagree wholeheartedly that he still has a career, I hold that the New York Football Giants may be the ONLY team BJ could come back and effectively play for. It has everything to do with how the workout goes and how his very outspoken personality could positively or adversely effect the team. I would love to see him back if he can contribute on the field and off it as a team player and the passionate guy we used to know back to Big Blue. I leave this up to the coaching staff and wish him the best of luck.
Final note regarding last night. And this is primarily to Jerry Jones, although it is also a comment about winning. Win with grace. Win with elegance. Win like a winner if you’re going to win. The Giants have enough injuries. The team isn’t made of fools. We all saw the head to head collision – replayed a few too many times. We saw the other guys who came out of the game. Were you paying attention or just making plans with the Governor? You won the game. Stop being a crybaby and just be happy that your team won… (by only 5 points after a 6 turn-over game). Then again, go focus on your team and how to make it better. Because I can pretty much guarantee you that THAT level of play, like the Giants play last night, won’t get you to any championships either.
It only gets better from here Giants fans.
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