Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Super Bowl Champs: season preview, offense

Look at that sexy beast. OOOKAAAYYYYYY GMEN. Your defending super bowl champs will be previewed henceforth. The Giants are an extremely well rounded team and are quite strong in mostly every facet. They are not the best team in their division and will not finish ahead of "America's Team", but I would be very surprised if they did not make it into the playoffs as a wild card team. They are getting just a small minutiae of respect league-wide, in the media, among pundits, and in the blogosphere. That being said, I could not be happier. The Giants are in camp and going about things with a business as usual attitude. Even though we won the bowl last year, we are hungrier than ever due to the lack of respect. Every last player on our roster is ready to prove this year that we are for real. There remain basically no starting positional battles on offense or defense, and with only one pre-season game done, that is a very rare and very strong luxury. Not very many teams can say that their offensive and defensive starters are all locked up and good to go this early, but we can, and I love it. I fully expect a second place finish, and while we are playing in the most difficult conference in the NFC, I would be surprised to see us miss the playoffs. So 2 parter here, O now and D later.


I'm sold on Eli Manning. I absolutely hated him and cursed him to the deepest darkest depths of hell pretty much every game during the '05 and '06 season. He just pissed me off. The inconsistency, the way he looked, the blase attitude, whatever. Everything and nothing at the same time. His numbers were largely the same both years and we were not even that bad, it was just like. ELI. GODDAMMIT. Alas, words escape me. But, after '05 and '06 passed and entering last season, I decided to just like him. Why not? We were stuck with him after all for a few more seasons, and we were going to live or die with him at the helm. So it was hard at first, er, very hard. But I slowly warmed up to it. We started off the season lukewarm kinda plodding along; Eli would gem and then suck a dong on alternating Sunday's depending on nothing of any consequence at all. And then there was a change on the field that made his personality (still unchanging) more acceptable and sort of sweet (no homo). He got better. I watched every single Giants game last year. When Shockey went down in week 12 and kinda faulked around for a couple more weeks until he was shelved for good, Eli looked like a completely different quaterback. He was more poised in the pocket, and finally looked to his slot receivers more. With Shockey, Eli would never consistently stay with the progression of passing plays and if his primaries weren't immediately available he would often panic and just dump down to Shockey or shit his pants. And if he did the latter, Shockey would give him an earful on the sideline. He never really spread the ball around before Shockey went down and he seemed to distract Eli both on the field and on the sidelines (I hated Shockey on the Giants). Eli started to just look better. His numbers were still very underwhelming last season as a whole, and they were pretty much right in line with what he did in '05 and '06. Regardless, he made tremendous strides towards the end of the regular season/playoffs and the maddening inconsistency from game to game stopped (sort of? enough that I was pleased, anyway). I am fully comfortable with him under Center for the first time since he came here. I am not expecting him to have some monster insane year numbers wise, because our offense is so run-heavy, but I do think that it will be his best yet as a pro. David Carr is a pretty boy scrub. He holds on to the ball forever in the pocket, looks like an asshole, and is just bad. Anthony Wright is Anthony Wright. I miss Jared Lorenzen :(. If Eli goes down, our season is undisputedly fucked. I do really like Andre Woodson though. Even though is has a pretty awkward throwing motion, I loved watching him compete at Kentucky last year. I was thrilled that we grabbed him late this year in the draft and hopefully he will turn out to be a capable backup for Eli and has the upside to be a starter in this league.

Wide Receiver:

We will be returning our 1 and 2 wide outs from last year in Plaxico Burress and the ageless Amani Toomer. Plax had a serious year last year despite being questionable every game and thusly driving his fantasy owners mad (WR version of Westbrook). But anyway, dude put up 70-1025-12 last year and was a monster. He and Eli really clicked in the red zone last year with their timings on fades and such things like this and Plax should total 10+ tds again this season. It remains to be seen if his contract disputes will be settled. Either way it is a win for the Giants, if it does settle, then he will have incentives to play for to get more cash and if they don't then he will want to compile a big year so he can garner a new fat contract. Even though he never practices, he is always a force come game day. Toomer is the perfect complementary receiver to Plax. He is a solid possession receiver for us, and although he did have some bad drops throughout last season, he's fine. He runs precise routes and is a smart player, he will have another solid yet unspectacular year. The most exciting thing about our wide receiving corps to me is Steve Smith. I was touting him very highly last year and his season ending injury killed me. I hate Sinorice Moss, and I hope to god that he is cut even though he probably won't be as his name keeps annoyingly popping up favorably on the practice reports during camp, but Smith's injury meant more time for that little fuck. Anyway, Smith is fully healthy and will be our slot guy. Toomer's days in the NFL as a starting wide receiver are numbered and I cannot wait to see Smith emerge this year as our future #2. He has great ability and he will give Eli another potent offensive weapon. Dominic Hixon, Michael Jennings, and Brandon London have also been both having great camps and nearly every interview with Coughlin they have been mentioned even though one or two are likely to be relegated to the practice squad. We have very good depth at wide receiver, and with my expected emergence of Steve Smith, it will only get better as the season progresses.

Running Back:

Brandon Jacobs proved two things last season: 1-he is a monster, beast, animal who loves destroying any human from D lineman to D back in his path and 2-he has a penchant for being in street clothes on Sunday. He played in only 8 FULL games last year, but when he was in there, he was a destructive force. Watching him run is truly a great thing; his combination of size, speed, and power is very exciting. He doesn't have that breakaway speed but there were games where he would just break off runs of like 8, 9, 7, 10, 8, 12 yards all in one series. He was a MAN last year for us running between the 20s and he will fill that same role for us this year. He averaged a ridiculous 5.0 yards per carry last year. His demeanor is also SERIOUS, which I obviously love. He is all business and all football. When reporters asked him about his contract situation and its current murky situation as he arrived at camp he rebuffed them said something along the lines of (Plaxico, are you listening?) "I just got to camp motherfucker. This is football time. I need to get reps in and get ready for the season. I don't want to be talking to my agent about contract bullshit. If I put up the numbers I am capable of over a full season I will get my payday." That's bad. Our fullback is Madison Hedgecock. Just wanted to mention his name, it's funny. He's pretty good. Continuing now. Early on in the season when Jacobs was largely banged up, we turned to Derrick Ward who proved to be more than a scrub. Weeks 1-5 he played great for us until he got hurt and was out until his triumphant 24/125/1 game in week 13, only to get hurt again and end his season. He finished the year with 602 yards and averaging 4.8 yards per carry. He was being used as our change of pace back with Jacobs in the early going, got that one game all to himself, and that was his year. He was very effective filling in for Jacobs last season when called upon. However, I hope that his role this year is greatly diminished, because when he did finally go down we got yet another droughner in his stead: Ahmad "I don't have to go to jail, bitch" Bradshaw. While Ward is a serviceable and capable back, Bradshaw has the ability to go get six every time he touches the ball. He will be our change of pace guy this year to couple with Jacobs. I hope Ward is reserved to like 2 carries a game because when we have both Jacobs and Bradshaw healthy, he should not be seeing the field. Bradshaw is the lightning to Jacobs' thunder in our running game-yes, this is the best analogy I am capable of. After Bradshaw's breakout game vs. Buffalo, I found myself wanting to see more and more of him. He is a far better receiving option out of the backfield than Jacobs. He looks to be our 3rd down back this season and will be given -hopefully- a few series' per game. If we can get these guys healthy all year (ok fine, 13 weeks would be UNREAL), our already run game will be very scary. And also, can we please cut Reuben Droughns? If he makes our roster I will be very pissed, and there is no reason why. He is SOSOSOSSO clearly the worst of our 4 backs, if he can even be called a running back still, and the one thing that he supposedly does "well" is goal line which he sucked so badly at when given those carries last year.

Tight End:

Enter Kevin Bossman. Shockey is finally gone; the circus that perpetually surrounded him has moved onto Bourbon Street where he can drink hand grenades until he passes out in a gutter and defecates in his pants. While I did love Shockey's competitiveness and overall genius personality, there was no doubt in my mind that we would be better off without him. Sluts at the Jersey Shore will lament his leaving / shotgun a beer in his remembrance for sure. His personality will be missed in the locker room and during practice - no doubt about that - but his loud mouth and constant displeasure with his offensive role will not be. Boss is obviously not the type of pass catching threat that Shockey is, but he is serviceable and is capable as he proved late last season and into the playoffs. Michael Matthews is also a good pass blocking tight end who I think will get more time this year as we do some more creative things with our wide outs. Given the structure of this offense, the decreased role that will be placed on the TE in terms of our schemes I think will work out fine. As I mentioned earlier, I think Steve Smith is primed for a great year. We will be lining up 3+ wide outs and spreading the field a lot more this season, I believe. This also lets us run some draws for Bradshaw which is one facet of his game in which he excels. I think Boss will be a fine TE for us this year. He is not as good as Shockey in terms of pass catching, but we don't need him to be. Boss has very good hands though, and obviously whatever he does for us fits because we won the grand dong bowl fest last year with him at TE, not Shockey.

Offensive Line:

Our O-line is the best in the NFL that nobody talks about. We are privileged enough to return all of our starting linemen: from left to right Diehl, Seubert, O'Hara, Snee, McKenzie. No sexiness, (none of these 5 were first round picks) no Hutchinsons or whatever, just a group of 5 very solid guys with great rapport. They are a GREAT run blocking offensive line, as evident by our dominating run game last season (4th in the NFL), and they are above average at pass blocking. We also signed former Pro Bowler Shane Olivea this off season, and while he has been missing in action at camp over the past several days, he was reportedly starting to really show flashes in his most recent practices. He will join Whimper, Goddard, and Ruegamer to give us great depth. Our linemen are all gritty, tough, and hard nosed football players; each earned their spots and they are a great unit. They really started to shine for us last season as we entered the second half. This group is very comfortable with each other out there and I fully expect a dominating season out them from week 1 to whenever our playoff run ends.


Alon said...

Eli's numbers were no better or worse with / without Shockey. I don't buy that Shockey's sideline and media antics made Eli a quarterback who constantly makes poor decisions; Eli is just a poor quarterback. And if your assumptions are true, well, I don't want a push-over pussy as my QB anyway.

Last year was the best super-bowl I've ever watched and I was definitely rooting for you guys but I think part of the 10-6 record was an absurdly easy schedule... The 7 games you played against teams with winning records you went 1-6. I'm sorry. I'm not sold that you guys are anything but a great Cinder-eli story.

P.S.- In the 4 regular season games that Steve Smith did play in (8 catches for 63 yards) you guys lost all 4. Maybe he is in Eli's head!

Gir said...

1. Steve Smith is the truth. He's a very good slot receiver and will for sure make an impact this year

2. Our schedule was ridiculously easy last year. We didn't have a lot of impressive wins but we handily beat everyone that we should have (with the exception of Minnesota late in the season)

3. We were a very mediocre team the whole year until Week 16 against the Bills where we finally released all the pressure off of our shoulders by getting into the playoffs. We then gained almost ALL of our confidence in that regular season game against the Pats and from then on out everything changed. I think the team should and will maintain that confidence and we for sure have the ability to at least make the playoffs again.

4. Spagnuolo is a fucking genius. As long as we have him masterminding our D, we will be competitive.