<![CDATA[NBC New York - Giants]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcnewyork.com/feature/giants http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.comen-usWed, 26 Oct 2016 21:31:15 -0400Wed, 26 Oct 2016 21:31:15 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Landon Collins the Hero as Giants Beat Rams in London]]> Mon, 24 Oct 2016 10:57:55 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Rams-lose-to-Giants-in-London.jpg

The Giants beat the Rams 17-10 in London, England, pushing their record to 4-3 as they enter the bye week. There was plenty of heroics, insanity and ineptitude surrounding this game, but these were the standouts for Hero, Nero, Zero.

Hero: Landon Collins

Even before he intercepted a tipped pass and returned it 44 yards to tie the game 10-10 in the second quarter, Landon Collins seemed like an outlier among his teammates. I tweeted early in game, when the offense looked lethargic, “Well, at least Landon Collins made the trip.”

He seemed to be around the ball on every play, thumping ball carriers with authority. He’s becoming one of the best safeties in the league, justifying the second round pick the Giants spent on him in the 2015 draft. He led all defenders with eight solo tackles. In addition to the pick-six -- when he turned into a running back and ran about 75 yards in cutting back and forth -- he added a second pick in the second half.

Two picks, doubling his career total.

The Giants had been trailing 10-3 and their offense was struggling when Collins flipped the game’s momentum. He didn’t cause the tip, but he took advantage of the opportunity and then some. On a day where the Giants’ rushing game (36) once again failed to gain 40 yards total, and with Odell Beckham (5 catches for 49 yards) and the passing game held largely in check, New York needed someone to step up and make a big play. Collins delivered.

Nero: The NFL

I love the occasional NFL game in London, England, the rare opportunity to wake up early on a Sunday, brew some coffee and cook some breakfast while a game is on. But I live on the East Coast, so the game started at 9:30 a.m. – not the West Coast, where Rams fans had to wake up at 6:30 a.m., for a so-called home game.

I understand the NFL schedule is created far in advance, and that the Rams were slated to play the Giants back when the team was still playing in St. Louis. But that doesn’t meant the start time can’t be adjusted. Heck, the NFL flexes games in and out of its Sunday night schedule and national televised games on the regular. You’re telling me changing the start time from 2:30 p.m. in London to, say, 5:30 p.m. or later is a big lift? If so, I’d like to hear why.

As usual, the NFL is tone deaf. The Rams just moved to Los Angeles, the second-biggest television market in the country. And in a game in which they are facing a team from the biggest TV market, they schedule it for 9:30 a.m. on the East Coast and 6:30 a.m. on the West Coast. Brilliant. Nothing like fumbling a prime opportunity to grab good TV ratings.

Zero: Giants playing this week

The team is now on bye, and at 4-3 has to feel pretty good about its direction. Two straight victories in close games – against good defenses in Baltimore and St. Louis – should give the Giants plenty of confidence that the team can win games late – a complete reversal of last year’s squad, which seemed to find new and creative ways to blow late leads.

The team’s next three games are at home – Eagles, Bengals, Bears. Then they hit the road to face the Browns. All four of these games are winnable.

The Giants are not a great team. They’re a good team that shows flashes of greatness. And they still have no running game. But they’ve proven they’ll be competitive in just about every contest. The second half of the season should be exciting for Big Blue.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Josh Brown Should Be Out for Good]]> Fri, 21 Oct 2016 10:42:39 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/josh+brown+alternate+giant.jpg

So here was Giants owner John Mara on WFAN talking to Mike Francesa on Thursday about embattled kicker Josh Brown:


“He admitted to us he’d abused his wife in the past. What’s a little unclear is the extent of that.”


Digest that one for a bit.


Yeah, it’s freaking enraging, not least because Brown – whose pattern of emotional and physical abuse of his ex-wife was outlined in recently released documents – was not cut by the team immediately. No, John Mara and the rest of the Giants’ brass (who’ve no doubt spent 99.9 percent of their work lives surrounded by alpha male grunters) said they would revisit the issue of Brown’s employment when the team returned from playing the Rams in London, England.


The Giants left Brown at home, a half nod toward the realization that the kicker (who already served a one-game suspension this year for his domestic abuse issues) was not a good ambassador for our nation’s game of well-regulated violence.




The Giants try to portray themselves as a Tiffany franchise, a winner of four Super Bowls which has always exemplified the best the sport has to offer. A team who has won titles helped in large part by such paragons of virtue as Lawrence Taylor and Plaxico Burress. The Giants are a fraud, no better than any other franchise that bases its roster decisions on a finely tuned calibration of whether it will help the team win games.


Get bent.


Big Black and Blue. Because yeah, you’re giving harbor to a freaking admitted serial domestic abuser in Josh Brown. Him and his irreplaceable right leg were left behind in the United States as the team went to England for this game. We’ll see who the team taps as his temporary replacement. For now, though, he’s the Out in our look at the players and coaches who will have the biggest impact on this game. Now let’s look at Probable, Questionable and Doubtful. 

Probable Player of the Game: Aaron Donald 

Donald, who was drafted one spot behind Odell Beckham in the 2014 NFL Draft, won Defensive Rookie of the Year and has been to two Pro Bowls. The Giants’ offensive line, which has played well this season (in pass protection, anyway), will have to keep Donald out of Eli Manning’s grill in order to give Beckham and his receiving mates time to get open. 

Last week against the Ravens, Giants head coach Officer Farva finally started calling for regular shots down the field. The offense responded, with Manning throwing for more than 400 yards -- more than half of that going to Beckham (222 yards receiving, a career high). 

This game is starting at 9:30 a.m. ET, a beautiful outlier in a season full of 1 p.m. starts. Breakfast with Beckham. A cup of joe and bombs away against the Rams. If I have to wake up early to watch Ben McAdoo calling early-drive run plays for Rashad Jennings, I’m gonna be bloody pissed. The Giants should take the running back position out behind the shed and put it down. 

Questionable Player of the Game: Eli Manning. 

After laying an egg in three straight games, Manning came to life against the Ravens last week. He threw in rhythm and didn’t have to think (always a good thing where Manning is concerned), hammering Baltimore down the field once McAdoo and his brain trust took the training wheels off. 

Ya never know what you’re gonna get with Eli. He could throw for 500 yards in this game or throw five picks. Maybe both. 

Doubtful Player of the Game: Todd Gurley 

Gurley, who came into this year as presumably the best young running back in football, has gone missing in several Rams games. Last week, in a tightly contested loss 31-28 to the Lions, he only got 14 carries. How is that possible? You’d almost think the Rams were led by some promoter of mediocrity like Jeff Fisher. 

What’s that? Fisher IS the coach of the Rams? Well then, carry on towards your 7-9 record, Los Angeles. 

Out: John Mara. 

Cut Josh Brown, ya simp!

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hero, Nero, Zero in Giants' Win Over Ravens]]> Mon, 17 Oct 2016 09:52:46 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/167*120/OBJGiantsRavens1016.jpg

Odell Beckham Jr. got down on one knee and proposed to a kicking net after scoring the deciding touchdown in Sunday’s 27-23 victory over the Ravens, but the player who should have been on his knees giving thanks for the existence of Beckham is Giants tight end Larry Donnell, who was in line to be the goat if the Giants lost.

On the play before Eli Manning and Beckham connected on 4th and 1 with Beckham taking the ball 66 yards to the house, Donnell caught a Manning pass in the flat. All he needed to do was turn up field, lower his shoulder and push through a much smaller defensive back to get the first down. But as Donnell has proven time and again in his three-year career, if the option to avoid a big hit is there, he will take it – diving, flipping or jumping to avoid low hits, losing focus on protecting the ball. And so Donnell juked a bit on the defender and then stepped out of bounds to leave the Giants a yard short of the first down.

The incompetence of his move was quickly eclipsed when Manning hooked up with Beckham; but the Giants should never have been in a 4th and 1, anyway. So, yeah, Beckham should certainly be the Hero in Donnell’s universe today. Now let’s hand out the laurels for Nero and Zero.

Nero: Ben McAdoo.

During the postgame press conference, McAdoo once again played Cliché Coach to the hilt, delivering terse responses to reporters’ questions and trying his best to look like Bill Belichick cross-pollinated with one of the mustachioed cops from “Super Troopers.”

His best response, however, was when he said Beckham had been humbled after his recent travails –- crying on the sideline, attacking the kicking net, saying he wasn’t having fun anymore, etc.

Humbled? I saw a lot of things from Beckham Sunday – eight catches, 222 yards receiving, two long touchdowns, a gritty bounce-back performance after fumbling on the game’s first play. But his humility must have been sent with the advance team for next week’s game in London.

Beckham scored the go-ahead touchdown, immediately took off his helmet and barked something at an official. Then he went and proposed to the kicking net. He was flagged 15 yards for losing his helmet and could easily have been flagged an additional 15 for yelling at the ref. The Giants had to kick from 15 yards deeper on the ensuing kickoff, valuable yardage that contributed to the Ravens having two good shots on throws into the end zone to end the game.

But yeah, Beckham has become more humble. You could see the steam coming out of Bill Cowher’s ears as he discussed Beckham in the postgame show. It’s not impressive coaching when you continue to let your diva wide receiver set the tenor for your team, Officer Farva.

Zero: Running game.

Rashad Jennings returned after missing three games with a wrist injury and the Giants’ ground game picked up right where it left off: 38 yards on 17 carries.

It’s amazing that a team with an offense like this –- where the defense has to respect so many receiving weapons -– can’t establish any kind of consistent rushing attack.

Just dump it altogether. Put Manning in the shotgun and run the hurry-up offense, which worked well against the Ravens and allowed the offense to get into a rhythm. Leave Bobby Rainey or Paul Perkins in the backfield as a check down option, but forget about running consistently between the tackles with this collection of players.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Turning Point in Giants' Season vs. Ravens]]> Fri, 14 Oct 2016 11:52:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Eli_manning_offense.jpg

With a 2-3 record, three straight losses and a two-game deficit to the Cowboys in the NFC East standings, the Giants are ostensibly facing a must-win game in hosting the 3-2 Ravens. 

But it’s only a must-win game if the Giants are going to get it together and turn themselves into a playoff team that can play well into January. If they’re going to just piddle along and be a .500 team, then a loss here would keep the team on target. Next week they face the Rams and Jeff “Mr. 7-9” Fisher, so a loss to the Ravens and a win against Los Angeles would have the Giants sitting at 3-4 entering the bye week. 


Woot, woot. 

I’m done selling this team as Super Bowl aspirants. Teammates spent the week not throwing Eli Manning under the bus, which tells you a lot about the Giants –- a team whose quarterback has a rich pedigree and who will be given the benefit of the doubt if his career slides into mediocrity. 

Manning is a future Hall of Famer and a two-time Super Bowl MVP. When he’s not winning title games against New England, he’s the steward of a mediocre franchise. The Giants have missed the playoffs the last four seasons.

Not an organization that typically makes a splash in free agency – akin to the Steelers and Packers in their commitment to developing home-grown talent – the Giants went out this past winter and dropped the gross domestic product of Iceland to acquire free agents Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins and Snacks Harrison. 

Have they been disappointments? No. They’ve all played extremely well. Vernon grades out as one of the top edge defenders in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. Jenkins had two interceptions of Aaron Rodgers last week, which Manning and the Giants’ offense turned into squat. 

The Giants aren’t bad. They’re just unexceptional. A bad team gets blown out on the road against Green Bay. The Giants only lost by seven (and covered the spread, so thanks for that). The offense, which was explosive last year, is just dull and inefficient. Slants underneath to Beckham. No running game. Missed passes to wide open tight ends down the seam. A fumble by Eli. We’ve all seen this team. It’s the same Giants team that occasionally beats a great team, but more often than not plays down to the level of its competition. 

A Giants team that has Super Bowl aspirations would steamroll a mediocre team like Baltimore at home. A Giants team that will probably hover around .500 all season – leaving people to wonder if Eli is washed up – will play a close game against the Ravens. 

It’s time to figure out what kind of team we have with the 2016 Giants.

Photo Credit: Matt Ludtke]]>
<![CDATA[Time to Find Manning's Successor as Eli Struggles Again]]> Thu, 13 Oct 2016 11:14:31 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/193*120/GettyImages-602990848.jpg

Eli Manning is a two-time Super Bowl MVP and future Hall of Famer, but the Giants need to formulate a succession plan right quick or risk wasting the prime of superstar wideout Odell Beckham Jr. 

Manning (18 of 35, 199 yards, 1 touchdown) was once again dreadful on Sunday night against the Packers in a 23-16 loss, his entire evening perfectly encapsulated by back-to-back plays late in the first half.

First, he overthrew a wide open Will Tye on a potential touchdown pass down the seam, a catch Tye might have made if he were an athletic tight end like Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham. Then, on the ensuing play, Manning fumbled and the Packers recovered, setting them up for a late field goal to take a 17-6 lead into the half. 

For their part, the Giants had to settle for field goals three times. Two interceptions by cornerback Janoris Jenkins were wasted because Manning and the offense couldn’t put the ball in the end zone. Granted, the offensive line –- particularly left tackle Ereck “Flagged Again” Flowers –- wasn't terrific in protecting Manning, who was sacked four times. And the running game was basically non-existent with Orleans Darkwa (7 carries for 11 yards) and Bobby Rainey (5 carries for 22 yards). 

But Manning was indecisive and inaccurate all night, his lone touchdown coming late in the fourth quarter when Beckham saved him at the back of the end zone with a balletic toe tap. 

Few wide receivers in the NFL could have come up with that play, underscoring Beckham’s importance to a team that is taking on water –- a three-game losing streak that leaves them two games behind the Cowboys in the NFC East. 

Was Manning the only person at fault for the Giants’ woes against Green Bay? Not by a long shot. The defensive line ran into a superior Packers’ offensive line and got no pass rush all night. According to Pro Football Focus, Aaron Rodgers had the longest average time to throw of any quarterback in the league this week, at 3.28 seconds. 

It’s amazing Rodgers (23 of 45, 259 yards) didn’t throw for more yards and deep passes given his ability to sit in a lawn chair and smoke Cubans as the Giants’ pass rush floundered around him. Meanwhile, the Giants’ secondary played pretty brilliantly given its responsibility of maintaining coverage for that long. 

New York’s running game remains awful. And Beckham still makes it all about him, celebrating his late touchdown –- with the team still losing –- by hugging and kissing a kicking net, making light of last week’s tantrum when he punched one of the net’s relatives. 

But a lot of this has to land at the feet of Manning. He’s now ranked 31st among NFL quarterbacks (47.5) according to PFF -– coming in behind basically everyone not named Ryan Fitzpatrick (42.2). 

Manning’s streakiness has always been part of his makeup. But against a Packers’ secondary that was missing Sam Shields, he was 0 for 5 on pass attempts of 20-plus yards. He needs to get better if the Giants are going to salvage the 2016 season. 

Regardless of how he plays down the stretch, general manager Jerry Reese needs to focus on finding Manning’s successor –- either via the draft or via trade. Ryan Nassib doesn’t look to be the answer. And despite the Giants’ best efforts to get Beckham involved anyway the team can –- he got knocked out of bounds on an attempted end-around pass -– it’s probably best if he’s not the team’s quarterback of the future.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Beckham Harkens Back to Divas of Yore]]> Fri, 07 Oct 2016 12:00:55 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/odell+beckham+jr_EDIT.jpg

Odell Beckham Jr.’s recent diva-like behavior is a reminder that the NFL was once rife with the likes of Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, Keyshawn Johnson and Randy Moss, a group whose attention-starved antics and combustible personalities often eclipsed the brilliance of their on-the-field performances. 

Owens taking a Sharpie out of his sock to autograph the football and hand it to his financial advisor after scoring a touchdown on Monday Night Football. Owens doing sit-ups in his driveway as he held a press conference to criticize the Eagles and Donovan McNabb while working his way toward a release from the organization. Owens’ publicist saying TO had not in fact tried to commit suicide by overdosing on pills, as he had 25 million reasons (in dollars) to live. 

Chad Johnson changing his surname to Ochocino in honor of his uniform number, 8-0. Johnson on the sideline wearing a yellow blazer with the words “Future H.O.F. 20??” on the back. 

And so on and so forth. 

Some of these antics were bold, entertaining and inspired (like Owens whipping out the Sharpie). A lot of them were loutish and worthy of disdain (like Moss squirting a water bottle at an official). 

The era of the diva wide receiver had its moment, but ultimately gave way to the likes of Calvin Johnson and now Julio Jones -- players who mostly let their actions do the squawking. Jones doesn’t lose his cool and try to decapitate Josh Norman. He doesn’t get flagged for multiple unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that severely harm his team’s fortunes. He doesn’t cry on the sidelines and he doesn’t try to throw uppercuts to kicking nets. He doesn’t mug in pregame warmups by constantly displaying his God-given ability to make one-handed catches. 

Jones doesn’t tick off his mild-mannered quarterback or have coaches telling the media that his antics might get him benched or even suspended by the team. He doesn’t need a talking to by his general manager in the locker room following another outburst. And he doesn’t whine that he’s not having fun anymore. 

Beckham does all that. What Beckham doesn’t do is what Jones has done this year -- score touchdowns, amass 300 yards receiving in a single game and be a leader on a winning team. I know that Beckham really wants to do those things, which partly explains why he was tearing up on the sidelines. But he needs to wise up quick or he’ll become like those aforementioned divas of yore -- who were all traded at the heights of their career, sometimes several times. 

Talent only takes you so far. Temperament decides the rest. Beckham can say the right things and apologize, claim that he wants to be a role model to children, etc. But he needs to walk it. 

It’s safe to say that Beckham is probably the most important player in this matchup with the Packers. The game will be nationally televised on NBC on Sunday night. All eyes are going to be on him. So that takes care of the first segment of Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out. Let’s look at the rest. 

Questionable Player of the Game: Olivier Vernon. 

The high-priced free agent signee has played extremely well through his first four games, ranking fifth among edge defenders according to Pro Football Focus. That productivity has yet to produce a sack, turnover or highlight reel play, and now Vernon is dealing with a wrist injury. Getting past left tackle David Bakhtiari (eighth among offensive tackles according to PFF) to make plays on Aaron Rodgers or Eddie Lacy is hard enough with two good mitts. 

Doubtful Player of the Game: Ereck Flowers. 

Believe it or not, Flowers is just a few slots behind Bakhtiari among all tackles, ranked 10th according to PFF — this despite leading all tackles in penalties this year with five. Flowers is gonna to be seeing a lot of Clay Matthews, who --despite his amusing new turn in the State Farm commercials -- is having a terrible season (91st among defensive ends). If he’s gonna hold Matthews, hopefully he gets a big handful of the dude’s long, flowing hair, if only to remind people that it’s stupid to give football players something to grab that’s attached to your head. 

Out Player of the Game: Rashad Jennings. 

According to the latest reports, Jennings’ thumb is feeling better and he has a decent chance to play. Please don’t. Tell the coaches you think the team’s best chance of maintaining a consistent ground game is to run the ball with Orleans Darkwa. If you can’t do that, can you please tell the team’s offensive architects to throw the ball down the freaking field? We don’t need to see anymore crying from Beckham.

Photo Credit: Jim Mone]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Win 3 Undesirable Phases Against Vikings]]> Tue, 04 Oct 2016 15:38:56 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/usa-odell-beckham-giants.jpg

If you want to know how to stop the best receiving threesome in the NFL, just ask Giants head coach Ben McAdoo. New York’s offensive game plan against Minnesota could be reduced to two elements:

  1. Have Eli Manning throw the ball into the ground at the first sign of distress, eliminating the possibility of being sacked or intercepted.
  2. Don’t ask Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard or Victor Cruz to win you the game. Instead, dink and dunk and don’t attempt any passes over the top until the second half, when Minnesota (like the rest of the viewing public) will have hopefully been lulled to sleep by your offensive scheme.

The first element was largely successful. Manning was not sacked in the team’s 24-10 loss to Minnesota, demonstrating cat-like quickness in throwing the ball into the turf whenever a Viking player came within sniffing range. His only failure came in the second half, when he threw his only interception of the game when he and Beckham miscommunicated on a deep throw.

In implementing the second element, New York was nearly perfect, as well. Beckham, Shepard and Cruz were never a threat to take over the game, combining for 103 yards receiving (or roughly one-third of what Julio Jones dropped on the Panthers). The Giants’ longest completions were to tight end Will Tye (18 yards) and running back Paul Perkins (who turned a dink into a 67-yard scamper).

It’s games like this when I’m glad I merely cover the Giants and don’t actively root for them. If they were my team, I’d probably be looking for a new TV, because my remote would have been thrown through the screen by game’s end.

Penalties, Turnovers, Stupidity: They once again won all three phases. Let’s take a closer look.

Penalties: After earning only seven flags during the team’s first two games (both wins), the Giants have now been flagged 19 times in the last two contests. Ereck Flowers was nailed for a brutal false start on the team’s opening drive against the Vikings, when the team had a third and five and was on the outer edge of field goal range. The team didn’t convert on third and ten and had to punt.

Turnovers: The Giants forced a three and out on the Vikings’ ensuing possession. But Giants’ returner Dwayne Harris fumbled the punt, and eight plays later Minnesota scored on a one-yard dive by Matt Asiata. Ben McAdoo is constantly talking about the importance of protecting “the duke,” his term for the football. At this point, the team might as well refer to it as “the puke,” because they keep coughing it up.

Stupidity: Oh, look, it’s Odell Beckham losing control of his emotions and earning a costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Rinse and repeat.

So, yeah, a lame offensive game plan, complemented by winning the worst three phases of the game. The Giants have the fewest sacks in the NFL (four) and they're the only team without an interception. A bend-don’t-break defense that doesn't create turnovers is not going to cut it when your offensive game plan is so uninspired.

But hey, at least Eli didn’t get sacked.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press]]>
<![CDATA[Time to See How Good Giants Can Be Versus Vikings]]> Mon, 03 Oct 2016 10:10:19 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/160*215/GettyImages-6029981121.jpg

If I were writing this preview of the Giants-Vikings game a few days ago – when Minnesota was fresh off thumping the Carolina Panthers on the road – I would probably have said that Minnesota is for real and the Giants are in deep trouble. 

I mean, eight sacks and three interceptions of Cam Newton? In Carolina? Seeing that evisceration –- and knowing the proclivities of Elisha Manning –- it’d be reasonable to think we could be looking at a Monday night game in which the Vikings amass double digit sacks and a half dozen turnovers in hosting the Giants. 

But my feeling toward this game has changed. And not because of anything the Vikings or Giants have done. No, I watched the Atlanta Falcons face Carolina on Sunday and they picked up where the Vikings left off, with Matt Ryan throwing for 503 yards (with 300 of them to Julio Jones) in beating the Panthers 48-33. I feel confident in saying Cam Newton has no chance of returning to the Super Bowl to act like a baby after his team loses. 

Four games is a small sample size, but the Panthers have now lost to Trevor Siemian, Sam Bradford and Matt Ryan. Carolina is just not that good, thanks in no small part to the loss of cornerback Josh Norman to Washington in free agency. In turn, the Vikings’ 3-0 record – with wins against Tennessee (yawn), Green Bay (meh) and Carolina – looks much less impressive than it did just a few days ago. 

Granted, Atlanta came in with the No. 1 offense in the NFL, due largely to playing against the Buccaneers, Raiders and Saints – ranked 19, 31 and 32 in the league. 

In short, Minnesota is not that good because Carolina is not that good. And that’s good news for the Giants, because frankly Big Blue looked like the late-era Coughlin Giants in losing to Washington last week. 

Turnovers, Penalties, Stupidity: New York owned all three phrases in its loss to Washington. And yet they still had an opportunity to win the game late. Unfortunately, Manning had a late brunch appointment to keep and tossed another godawful interception to end the team’s comeback bid. 

The Giants now face Minnesota, which on paper is a classic confrontation between a top offense (Giants, No. 2) versus a top defense (Vikings, No. 6). History says that in matchups such as these, the defense traditionally comes out on top. Particularly at home, where through one game Minnesota’s new stadium has already proven to be deafening with piped-in noise. (What, you’d put it past those Minnesotans? The Twins did this during the 1987 World Series; just ask Al Michaels.) 

We’re quickly going to see just how good the 2016 Giants are going to be. After this game, they stay north to play Green Bay. It’s not unreasonable to think they’ll be 2-3 seven days from now, not least because the Packers were on bye this week and will be well rested. 

But first, Minnesota: an offense led by quarterback Sam Bradford, wide receiver Stefon Diggs and some running back not named Chuck Foreman. I see the game unfolding in one of two ways –- the Giants get out to an early lead by bombing away with their three-headed receiving corps, dooming the Vikings to attempt a comeback with Bradford and a pedestrian Minnesota offense against a much-improved Giants defense (that nonetheless stunk against Washington last week). 

Or I see Manning going full Mr. Hyde and committing so many turnovers that the Minnesota defense will carry countless fantasy owners to victory. 

The Giants have played close games all year – none decided by more than a field goal. But also, none against a defense like Minnesota’s. If they try to go ball control with Orleans Darkwa, Odell Beckham Jr. will probably be wearing a field goal kicking net by halftime. 

It’s time to see what this Giants team is capable of –- on the road, on Monday Night Football, against a supposedly great team (led by Sam Bradford). 

Good teams win road games like this. Are the Giants a good team? Well, if they lose this game, they’ll be in last place in the NFC Least, so I guess we’ll see. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Drop Seesaw Game to Washington]]> Mon, 26 Sep 2016 10:36:35 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Redskins+Giants+0925.jpg

The Giants suffered a bitter 29-27 defeat to Washington on Sunday, undone by ghastly turnovers and bonehead penalties at the worst possible times. It was a seesaw game with five second-half lead changes, and there were a lot of ups and downs for both teams.

On One Hand: Eli Manning threw for more than 350 yards for the second straight week.
On the Other Hand: He threw as many touchdown passes (1) as he did interceptions in the end zone.

On One Hand: Shane Vereen stepped in for the injured Rashad Jennings and totaled 66 yards on 11 carries with one touchdown.
On the Other Hand: He fumbled for the second straight week.

On One Hand: Vereen’s failure to protect the ball opened the door for Orleans Darkwa, who had 10 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown.
On the Other Hand: Giants coaches will probably overlook the fact that Vereen and Darkwa combined for 118 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns and go back to running Rashad Jennings into the back of linemen’s butts.

On One Hand: Defensive end Olivier Vernon had his first sack as a Giant.
On the Other Hand: His penalty for smacking Kirk Cousins in the back of the head on third down allowed Washington’s game-winning drive to continue.

On One Hand: The Giants were ahead 21-9 in the second quarter, with a blowout seemingly imminent.
On the Other Hand: One second after learning that the Giants hadn’t allowed a single play of more than 30 yards all season, they allowed two such consecutive passes to DeSean Jackson – covering 80 yards and a touchdown.

On One Hand: The Giants are now minus-6 in the turnover department.
On the Other Hand: It’s pretty amazing they’re 2-1 with such a bad differential.

On One Hand: Kirk Cousins cost Washington 3 points and maybe 7 points by holding the ball too long and taking a sack at the end of the first half, when Washington still had one timeout left.
On the Other Hand: He didn’t commit any turnovers and Eli Manning was the one who threw two fourth quarter interceptions.

On One Hand: Neither team played particularly well on special teams.
On the Other Hand: Only the Giants allowed the opposing team’s punter to throw a long pass down the sideline to convert on fourth down.

On One Hand: Washington played it conservative by running the ball on third down late in the game, with the Giants stopping them and forcing a punt.
On the Other Hand: You sensed Manning and the Giants weren’t going to pull it out.

On One Hand: Odell Beckham had seven receptions for 121 yards, including one stiff arm of Josh Norman.
On the Other Hand: On the team’s final possession, he committed an obvious pick on Norman and earned a penalty that negated a pass to Sterling Shepard and backed the Giants up. Oh, and he looked like he was about to cry after Manning’s first fourth quarter pick, when Beckham vented by throwing his helmet into the kicker’s practice net.

On One Hand: The Giants’ version of Cerberus (Beckham, Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz) all had more than 70 yards receiving and once again proved that defenses have to pick their poison in stopping the Giants’ three-headed receiving corps.
On the Other Hand: The team only had one passing TD and managed just two field goals in the second half.

On One Hand: The Giants played a third straight game decided by less than a field goal.
On the Other Hand: This is the first one they’ve lost.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants vs. Washington: A Look to the Future]]> Fri, 23 Sep 2016 09:52:31 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Odell-Beckham-Jr-Josh-Norman-Dustup-1221.jpg

The Giants face each NFC East opponent twice per season, and it’s always interesting to see how fortunes have changed for the respective teams in between their two head-to-head matchups. But instead of looking back to how things have changed between Then and Now for the Giants and Washington (since, ya know, they haven’t played each other this year), let’s try something new and look ahead – to how things will change between this Sunday’s game and the teams’ next matchup in the regular-season finale on Jan. 1.

Now: It’s 2016.
Then: It’ll be 2017.

Now: New York is 2-0 and Washington is 0-2.
Then: The Giants will be playing for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, and Washington will be playing.

Now: Washington coach Jay Gruden is calling out quarterback Kirk Cousins and saying he needs to play better.
Then: Cousins will once again be among the league’s best quarterbacks and Washington will plan to reward him by slapping the franchise tag on him again and make him sing for his dinner for the second straight season in 2017.

Now: Odell Beckham Jr. has zero touchdowns.
He’ll have more than a dozen, helped by the three he’s going to post on Washington cornerback Josh Norman this week.

Now: Rashad Jennings is the Giants’ starting running back.
Then: The Giants’ offensive brain trust will still be driving fans nuts by consistently running him on first down.

Now: I spend an ungodly amount of time reading the SI Vault.
Then: Nothing will change.

Now: The Giants have a turnover ratio of -4.
Then: They’ll be really dangerous when luck helps that ratio to balance out.

Now: Cowboys fans are quietly thinking they still have a shot at winning the NFC East because they hung with the Giants in Week 1 and beat Washington last week.
Then: Cowboys fans will be talking about how good the Yankees are going to be in 2017.

Now: Sterling Shepard is an early favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Then: He’ll be a late favorite to win it.

Now: High-priced free agent acquisition Olivier Vernon has no sacks.
Then: He and Snacks Harrison will still be quietly winning in the trenches and setting the tone for the entire defense.

Now: Washington is 25th in the NFL in rushing.
Then: Matt Jones will have about 25 fumbles.

Now: Ben McAdoo seems to be wound a bit too tight.
Then: He’ll maybe stop acting like a cliché football coach.

Now: I’m enjoying all things pumpkin spice.
Then: I’ll be enjoying all things gingerbread.

Now: Washington safety DeAngelo Hall sniped at former teammate and current Giants linebacker Keenan Robinson for criticizing his old team, with Hall saying he didn’t even know Robinson was on a roster this year.
Then: Robinson’s comment that his old team had a toxic locker room will still describe Washington.

Now: Wide receiver DeSean Jackson and tight end Jordan Reed give Washington a potent downfield passing game.
Then: Reed will hopefully be leading my fantasy team to a championship and Jackson will probably be injured.

Now: Jay Gruden is Washington’s head coach.
Then: He’ll have thrown most of the Potomac basin area under the bus.

Now: We live in a republic led by President Barack Obama.
Then: Let’s enjoy the present, shall we?

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Almost Game Plan Their Way Out of 16-13 Victory]]> Mon, 19 Sep 2016 16:04:58 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/171*120/GettyImages-602999270.jpg

A win is a win is a win, but man did the Giants go out of their way to secure the 16-13 victory in their home opener against the Saints.


One year after Eli Manning (6) and Drew Brees (7) combined for an NFL record 13 touchdown passes as New Orleans beat New York 52-48 in the Crescent City, the two teams largely played a game of field position –- and largely because the Giants seemed to think they were playing the reincarnation of the Bears’ 46 defense. It took until late in the second half for the Giants’ offensive architects to realize running the ball on just about every freaking first down was akin to starting a drive at second and 10. 

I said in previewing this game that New York would be making a mistake if they tried to control the clock by running the ball heavily with Rashad Jennings. Did they listen? No, they have a restraining order against me and I’m not allowed to contact the team in any capacity (which is a long story). But if you had a fantasy roster of Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, Sterling Shepard and, uh, Rashad Jennings, where are you putting your money? If you want to win (or do better than barely escape with a 16-13 victory at home), you’re not trying to play keep away with freaking Jennings. 


Anyway, let’s hand out some hardware for Hero, Nero, Zero, even though I’m tempted to make this a Nero, Nero, Nero affair with all the honors going to the Giants’ offensive coaches. 

Hero: Victor Cruz. 

Late in the fourth quarter, with the score tied 13-13, the Giants finally tired of running to darkness and threw a long pass down the near sideline to Odell Beckham Jr. The ball landed right in his Hamburger Helper mitts –- and he dropped it. It was one of the few deep throws attempted all day by Eli Manning, who probably had the quietest 300-yard passing game in NFL history (368 yards, 0 touchdowns, 0 interceptions). 

If you have a future Hall of Fame quarterback and this particulate triumvirate of receivers, how are you not taking shots down field on the regular? Most likely Beckham, Shepard or Cruz is going to come down with the pass or at the very least break it up, which is exactly what happened on the play directly after Beckham’s drop. Manning threw long for Cruz and the salsa king of Chicago (is he from the Windy City? Well he should be) went up, tangled with the Saints’ d-back and game down with the ball on New Orleans’ doorstep. 

After killing the clock to assure Drew Brees wouldn’t have time for a game-winning drive, the Giants lined up for the game-winning 23-yard kick from Josh Brown. I’m glad it was only a chip shot for Brown and not something that he deserved praise for afterwards. This game was hard enough to stomach without having to see Brown (who missed Week 1 after being suspended for a domestic violence incident with his ex-wife) feted as a hero. 

Nero: The Giants’ offensive masterminds. 

After the game, Manning and the Giants were saying all the right things, attributing the low-scoring game to the Saints’ defensive game plan. Apparently that game plan involved hoping the Giants would barely take ANY shots down the field. 

In the first half, Jennings had this gaudy stat line: 11 carries for 24 yards, with a long of 7. Manning, meanwhile, was 15 of 18. But by all means, keep running the ball. 

Playing keep away makes sense if you’re a team with a sieve-like defense. The 2015 Giants were that team. The 2016 team are not. New cornerback Janoris Jenkins had a terrific game, breaking up several passes and picking up the ball and returning it for a touchdown after Johnathan Hankins blocked a New Orleans field goal attempt. The Saints were working hard for everything, with fleet-footed star receiver Brandin Cooks (68 yards) and Mark Ingram (9 carries for 30 yards) and Tim Hightower (3 carries for 9 yards) all held in check. 

Meanwhile, the Giants had three wide receivers with more than 86 yards receiving (including Shepard with a game-high 117 yards on 8 catches) – and they won by three points as time expired. 

But if you had Jennings on your fantasy team – final line: 13 carries for 27 yards – you must have been stoked. 

Zero: Offensive touchdowns by the Giants. 

Throw. The. Damn. Ball. Down. The. Field.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Should Ignore Time of Possession vs. Saints]]> Fri, 16 Sep 2016 10:21:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/nfl-por-nbc-universo-getty-images-01.jpg

You might not have noticed, but the NFL tweaked the constitution of its injury report. No longer are dinged up players classified as probable, questionable, doubtful or out.

"Probable" has been dropped from the available pull-downs (probably because the league got sick of seeing Bill Belichick screw with people by putting Tom Brady on there for about 752 consecutive weeks), and so less-than-healthy players can now only be listed as questionable, doubtful or out. How will this affect one of my preview staples – probable, questionable, doubtful and out? It won’t. I’m still rolling with it, not least because the NFL injury report is arbitrary and the NFL is run by a confederacy of dunces. 

So let’s look at the Giants’ home opener against the Saints and try to predict the effect certain players or coaches will have on the game. 

Probable Player of the Game: Olivier Vernon. 

Last year the Saints beat the Giants 52-49, with Drew Brees (7) and Eli Manning (6) combining for an NFL record 13 touchdown passes. The Saints’ defensive coordinator at the time (Rob Ryan) is now up in Buffalo, teaching a new class of pupils how to avoid contact. The Giants’ defensive coordinator at the time (Steve Spagnuolo) is still in charge of the team’s defense, but now has several players – including Vernon, Snacks Harrison, Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple – who weren’t lucky enough to participate in last year’s record-setting game in New Orleans. 

Vernon, the defensive end who came over as a free agent from Miami, had a commendable first game against Dallas. He didn’t register a sack, but he was consistently pushing the pocket and flushing out rookie quarterback Dak Prescott. Brees, for his part, is the oldest starting quarterback in the NFL (37) and won’t be easily flustered. He has one of the quickest releases in the league and throws most of his passes from his tip toes because he’s small, small, sm-all. 

New Orleans has one of the best offenses in the NFL and last week posted 34 points against Oakland (and still lost). The Giants obviously have the weapons to compete with the Saints in a track meet, but they’d probably like to avoid over-sweating. Vernon will go a long way toward determining the tenor of the game. 

Questionable Player of the Game: Rashad Jennings. 

I’m still not sold on Jennings. I understand he’s the NFL’s leading rusher since like Week 14 of last season and he has the most rushes of more than 10 yards during that stretch, but he seems to only rack up yards late in games – whether the team is winning or losing. 

This week, many Giants observers have been saying that the key to beating the Saints is keeping the ball out of the hands of Drew Brees. Toward that end, the Giants should presumably feature a whole lot of Jennings, who can run the ball and eat the clock. 

With all due respect, get the flock out of here. 

Run the ball with Jennings? As opposed to throwing the ball with Manning, Beckham, Shepard and Cruz? Against a Saints secondary that is banged up and featuring several guys who (maybe) watched last week’s Saints game while nursing a hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s? 

Yeah, no. 

I’m all for Jennings getting the rock late in the game if the Giants are ahead and the team wants to salt away the clock. That way he can pad his numbers like he always does. But time of possession is the most overrated common measuring stick in the NFL. Throw it early and often. 

Doubtful Player of the Game: Josh Brown. 

The Giants’ placekicker returns to action after a one-game suspension for a domestic violence incident. Or should I say, pattern of incidents? His ex-wife accused of him of hitting her on numerous occasions. The Giants said they performed due diligence and that Brown, a Pro Bowler last year, is still a good enough egg to kick for them. 

This game figures to be a high-scoring affair that will be dependent on touchdowns and not field goals, so it’s unlikely that Brown will feature prominently. Unless, ya know, it comes down to a game-winning field goal try. If Brown kicks the game-winner, seek out a fan wearing his jersey and ask where life went wrong. 

Out Player of the Game: Whoever kneels during the national anthem. 

This topic has been beaten to death, but has anyone run the numbers on how well players like Colin Kaepernick (backup who hasn’t seen the field) and Denver linebacker Brandon Marshall (fined for nearly decapitating Cam Newton) have performed after refusing to stand for the national anthem? ESPN’s Trent Dilfer has argued that it’s a selfish gesture that can undermine team unity. That’s debatable. We’ve only played one regular season game, so coaches aren’t yet sweating about their jobs (unless their last name is Ryan) and owners and fans aren’t restless about the product on the field. 

But the time is going to come when some player on a crappy team doesn’t stand for the anthem and the swell of public sentiment will swing soundly against them. Will one of those players be from the Giants? Not a chance. The team has been steadfast in collectively standing during the anthem. Will it be a player from the Saints? Well, you can bet it won’t be Drew Brees, who ridiculed Kaepernick for his gesture. 

Whoever kneels –- if anyone –- will be a man apart. Someone who will be on the outs with a lot of NFL fans. Unless, ya know, he plays well, and then all will be forgiven.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Flip the 2015 Script to Beat Cowboys in Season Opener]]> Mon, 12 Sep 2016 10:02:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/usa-terrance-williams-cowboys.jpg

The Giants’ 2016 season opener against the Cowboys was setting up to be eerily reminiscent of the Giants’ 2015 season opener against the Cowboys, when Dallas capitalized on New York’s sloppy fourth quarter – including iffy play calling, clock mismanagement and ole defense – to deliver a groin punch loss to the G-men, a defeat that set the tone for their entire 2015 season. 

But then it didn’t happen. 

The Giants didn’t have any notable play calling gaffes, they didn’t mismanage the clock and their defense didn’t fold when desperate stops were needed. Instead, Dallas did all those things, as the Giants prevailed 20-19 in a game marked by several NFL premieres (Ben McAdoo as head coach; Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott as the rookie QB-RB tandem in Dallas; and Giants rookie wide out Sterling Shepard, who made a leaping 9-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter and – teamed with the returning Victor Cruz and some guy named Beckham Jr. – is going to give the Giants an explosive offense). 

It’s only one game, but there were a lot of heroics, insanity and ineptitude, so let’s hand out some laurels for Hero, Nero, Zero

Hero: Victor Cruz. 

Playing in his first regular-season game in nearly two years, Cruz caught the go-ahead touchdown from Eli Manning (19 of 28, 207 yards, three touchdowns and one pathetic interception) with 6:13 left in the game. 

Salsa time. 

Cruz had four catches for 34 yards, which in a vacuum doesn’t look like a particularly impressive outing. But with him in the slot and Beckham and Shepard on the outside, the Giants might have the best wide receiving corps in the NFL this season. 

Nero: Cowboys’ play calling. 

Dez Bryant is an absolute beast and can pretty much assure that any ball thrown in his vicinity is either going to be caught by him or fall incomplete. So why on the Cowboys’ final drive – when Dallas got the ball back with 1:05 left – did the last play call go to Terrance Williams in the middle of the field? 

Dallas needed to stop the clock, but Williams caught the ball and headed up field and the Cowboys were unable to set up and spike the ball to possibly set up a 62-yard game-winning field goal by Dan Bailey. Sure, Williams should have tried to get out of bounds, but if he had run right to the sidelines, the field goal attempt would have been even longer. Williams is a convenient scapegoat, but the real failure was in Dallas’ play calling. 

Zero: Touchdown and interceptions from Dak Prescott. 

Thrown into the starting role following the preseason injury to Tony Romo, the rookie from Mississippi State had a respectable NFL debut. He made a nice throw to Bryant in the end zone that was initially called a TD; the play was correctly overturned on review as the ball moved as Dez went to the ground. And Prescott committed zero turnovers and was not sacked once. 

He worked the middle of the field almost to exhaustion, with 17 of his 25 completions going to Jason Witten and Cole Beasley. Bryant, meanwhile, had one catch for 8 yards. 

For those who thought the Cowboys would transition seamlessly from the Romo era to the Prescott era, Sunday’s loss to the Giants was a reminder that Romo had/has the type of field-stretching ability that Prescott will need to exhibit to open up more running lanes for Elliott (20 carries for 51 yards). 

Dak to Dez has a nice ring to it, but we saw little of it on the field on Sunday.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Have a Chance to Win the Super Bowl]]> Fri, 09 Sep 2016 09:36:43 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/usabenmcadoo.jpg

Are the new-look Giants going to win the Super Bowl in 2016? Well, they certainly have a shot, according to Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com, which says Big Blue has a 1 percent chance of winning the championship this year.

That’s right, 1 percent. A team that last season featured one of the league’s most explosive offenses is now even better with the additions at wide receiver of second-round draft pick Sterling Shepard and the previously injured Victor Cruz.

A defense that last year exhibited expert-level understanding of the rules of two-hand touch added three playmakers via free agency: defensive end Olivier Vernon (Dolphins), defensive tackle Snacks Harrison (previously of the wrong side of MetLife Stadium) and Janoris Jenkins (previously of a team that once played in St. Louis).

The 2015 Giants almost beat the Panthers and they gave the Patriots all they could handle. This is a team that is decidedly better than last year (and not because Tom Coughlin is gone) — and they only have a 1 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl? Does FiveThirtyEight take bets? If so, I’d like to put down a Benjamin that says the Giants are going to win it all.

One percent. Ya know who else has the same odds of winning the Super Bowl, according to Nate Silver’s site? These teams: Atlanta, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Baltimore.

With all due respect to Silver and the site that called all 50 states correctly in the 2012 presidential election, your numbers are whack. I’ve simulated the entire 2016 season at least 1.5 times in my mind, and there’s no way I can get halfway through it without falling off my chair and laughing at the thought that the Eagles have any chance — any year — of winning the Super Bowl.

It’s never gonna happen. And certainly not in a year when they’re starting a rookie quarterback.

My season prediction for the Giants: win the NFC East, win a first-round game, win a second-round game, win the NFC Championship over Seattle, lose to the Steelers in the Super Bowl.

But let’s not get completely ahead of ourselves. Let’s talk about Week One and eventually the Cowboys.

Week 1

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the NFL schedule is stupidly created. Instead of working to foster regional rivalries, the league tries to create some kind of inane sense of parity by having a rotating schedule that completely eliminates subjectivity. The league has no say in who plays who from year to year. They do, however, have a say in WHEN teams play each other. Given that, why on earth is there not a Rivalry Week in the NFL? A week when each team squares off against a division opponent? Say, this week — Week 1 — when the Giants face the Cowboys (awesome) while the Eagles face Cleveland (poo) and Washington faces the Steelers (awesome for Pittsburgh).

In addition to the Cowboys vs. the Giants, there are only three games this week featuring intra-divisional matchups: Tampa Bay at Atlanta; San Diego at Kansas City; and Los Angeles at San Francisco. How hard would it be to simply swap things around so that the remaining teams were also facing divisional opponents? What am I missing? We’re not talking about changing any team’s 2016 opponents. We’re simply changing the order so that every team faces a hated rival in Week 1.

Instead of Buffalo facing Baltimore and Cincinnati facing the Jets, the Bills would face the Jets and the Ravens would have the Bengals. Etc, etc.  

Sure, this would create weeks later in the season when there’d be a dearth of divisional matchups. But who cares? The saying is that divisional games count twice in the standings. Just think how much they’d count — to teams, fans and the league — if every team had a divisional game in Week 1.

OK, now onto the Dallas game.

Dallas is one of the most intriguing teams in the league this year. Usually a squad featuring a rookie quarterback (Dak Prescott) and a rookie running back (Ezekiel Elliott) would be doomed from the get-go. As a long-time observer of Dallas and its fans, I would have welcomed such a scenario. But the Cowboys are a unique bunch. They have arguably the best offensive line in football, an All-Pro level wide receiver in Dez Bryant and a future Hall of Famer in tight end Jason Witten. If Elliott exhibits the same kind of punishing runs he dropped on the likes of Kam Chancellor of the Seahawks during the preseason, and Prescott can limit his inevitable rookie errors, this team will be able to hang against the Giants’ defense.

I say “hang,” because the Cowboys are not winning this game.

During the preseason, the Giants’ first-team offense was held scoreless, which caused a lot of fans to overreact. Meanwhile, the first-team defense — the team’s chief weakness in 2015 — was stout in the preseason. Look for the G-men to focus on curbing Dallas’ run games by stacking the box with eight defenders, mixing up blitzes (including from safety Landon Collins) in an effort to fluster Prescott.   

On offense, the Giants will need to rely on game-breaking plays from the likes of Beckham, Cruz and Shepard, because general manager Jerry Reese thought it’d be a great idea to go into another season with Rashad Jennings as the starting running back. Dallas cut bait with its best defender — serial putz Greg Hardy — but playmaking linebacker Sean Lee is healthy (for now) and free safety Byron Jones has reportedly made huge strides in his second season.

Still, you can’t talk me into the Cowboys beating the Giants this week in Ben McAdoo's first game as head coach. Nevertheless, I give them a better chance of winning this game than FiveThirtyEight.com gives the Giants of winning the Super Bowl. In fact, I’d say the Cowboys have a 50 percent chance of winning this game: Either they will or they won’t.

Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports]]>
<![CDATA[What to Look for (and not) as Giants Take on Patriots]]> Thu, 01 Sep 2016 10:18:56 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/usa-tombrady-patriots.jpg

With the fourth and final preseason game about to take place, we’ve now reached the Christmas Eve portion of our NFL schedule. I’m staring at the 17 weeks of presents wrapped beneath the tree and eager to start ripping them open.

First things first, we have to get through this final preseason warmup against the Patriots. What can we look for in this game? And what should we not expect to see? Let’s break it down.

Look for: Ryan Nassib to start the entire game.

Don’t look for: Giants fans to be encouraged by what they see.

Look for: the Patriots to give Tom Brady a few snaps under center, because it’s the Patriots and they like to do counterintuitive things.

Don’t look for: Brady in the rest of September; he has the month off.

Look for: commentators to mention Colin Kaepernick before or after the playing of the national anthem.

Don’t look for: any Giants or Patriots players to be sitting down like Kaepernick in an equally pointless exercise.

Look for: players on the roster bubble to be flying around like madmen and ballhawking incessantly in a last-ditch bid to make the 53-man roster.

Don’t look for: me to stop watching because the opening day starters aren’t getting much run; watching the marginal guys play for their NFL lives is great theater.

Look for: Orleans Darkwa to being playing in his last game as a Giant.

Don’t look for: me to be happy about it.

Look for: the slimmed down Andre Williams.

Don’t look for: him to average his usual 1 yard per carry in 2016.

Look for: some highlights from the Giants’ two Super Bowl wins over the Patriots.

Don’t look for: any Aaron Hernandez highlights.

Look for: the commentators to discuss the challenges facing new Giants head coach Ben McAdoo.

Don’t look for: them to make note of his 80s hairdo and 70s porn stache.

Look for: personal fouls, sloppy play and everything you associate with desperate guys doing anything they can to make an impression on coaches.

Don’t look for: injuries; please, no injuries.

Look for: Patriots coach Bill Belichick to be dressed like a homeless person.

Don’t look for: his cutoff sleeves.

Look for: commentators to discuss Deflategate.

Don’t look for: the world’s smallest violin, playing just for the Patriots.

Look for: this game to end and for our attention to turn toward Week One and the Cowboys.

Don’t look for: my excitement for the regular season to abate this week.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Receiver Victor Cruz Plays for 1st Time Since 2014]]> Mon, 29 Aug 2016 07:53:08 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/victor+cruz+giants.jpg

Victor Cruz really didn't care about his statistics after the Giants played the Jets in their annual preseason game. 

The line for the 29-year-old wide receiver read: 32 plays, targeted on two passes, with one reception for 4 yards. 

It was unproductive, yet Cruz could not help but smile after the Giants' 21-20 win on Saturday night. 

Cruz had played in a game for the first time since the 2014 season, and that's all that mattered to the wideout who was one of the NFL's most feared receivers from 2011-13. The knee injury that ended the '14 season and a calf problem that sidelined him last year were things of the past. 

Even the crowd at MetLife Stadium was into his return, chanting "Cruzzzz." 

"It was unreal," Cruz said. "It kind of gave me goosebumps." 

Even though he felt rusty, Cruz was excited. 

"It felt good to put that jersey on again and go out there with my teammates, from the warmup, the pregame, and then during the game to be in the position to make a play and be out there running routes against an opponent, it felt good," Cruz said. 

Cruz's only catch came on a quick pass to the right from Eli Manning on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. 

"That ball felt like it was forever in the air before it got to my hands, but it was good to kind of catch that ball and get a little contact, get a little hit out of bounds, and hopefully I can build on that," Cruz said. "But it was definitely good to get one in." 

Cruz got a step on the secondary early in the second quarter, but Manning was under pressure and underthrew the receiver. 

"I had to come, turn back inside and kind of go after the ball," Cruz said. "Thought I had a shot until I saw (Marcus) Gilchrist come late, but I definitely had a step on the DB at the time. So I think if Eli was untouched I think we had a shot." 

The Jets treated Cruz with some respect. Cornerback Darrelle Revis lined up opposite him on several plays. 

"I think he looks fine," Revis said of Cruz. "I just think, especially with a major knee injury, your mind plays tricks on you because you're scared to make a certain cut because you got injured. The injury's always replaying back. I'm sure after he continues to strengthen it and keeps on getting stronger, he'll be back to the old Victor Cruz that we always used to see." 

The Giants (1-2) finish the preseason at home Thursday night against New England. It's a game that starters usually don't play much, if at all. 

Cruz, however, wants to play in what could be considered his final tuneup before the season opener at Dallas. 

"Do I need to play? I think it's just a matter of continuing to understand what we want to accomplish as a team and as a game plan and from a receiving corps," Cruz said. "I think I can go out there Sept. 11 and be OK." 

Giants coach Ben McAdoo said it would have been nice to get Cruz the ball earlier in the game, but he felt the receiver looked comfortable and confident.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hero, Nero, Zero for Giants-Jets in MetLife Bowl]]> Mon, 29 Aug 2016 07:36:36 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_451101506974.jpg

I’m pretty sure that watching preseason football is the penance we have to pay for enjoying the ensuing five months of meaningful football. And trying to ascribe meaning to what we witness in these preseason games is a Rorschach test.

Fans given to pessimism might look at the putrid display by the Giants’ starting offense – not once advancing into Jets territory – and predict regular-season doom (and start beating the bushes for new offensive linemen). And fans given to optimism might have noted that the Giants survived this game (which, by the way, they won 21-20) without the type of season-turning injuries that befell Tony Romo and the Cowboys on Thursday night. 

Me? I’m a pessoptimist, disturbed by the Giants’ laughably bad offensive effort, but encouraged by the team’s aggressive playmaking defense; in particular, the early work of new acquisitions Snacks Harrison and Olivier Vernon. 

The Giants’ offense will be fine. Why wouldn’t it be? They have the same system as last year, the same key players, plus the addition of Victor Cruz. So what if Eli Manning is tripping over the center’s feet, or underthrowing Cruz on a deep route? Who cares if guard Bobby Hart is committing penalties on third and one? This is the correctable stuff. What can't be corrected is a defense that gets no pass rush and folds in the fourth quarter week after week. Ya know, like last year’s defense. The one that didn’t feature Vernon, Harrison and new cornerbacks Eli Apple and Janoris Jenkins. 

This might have been a preseason game, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work out our own kinks with a favorite staple, Hero, Nero, Zero – in which we recognize the best, craziest and worst elements from the game. 

Hero: Um, Odell Beckham Jr.? 

Not gonna lie, there weren’t a lot of candidates for the Hero handle in this contest. Harrison had a nifty forced fumble when the Jets were deep in Giants territory (following a blocked punt). But the fumble, which Johnathan Hankins recovered, wasn’t exactly the game-decider -- not when there were so many subsequent exhibitions of incompetence on both sides. 

No, to hear some people tell it, the savviest play in this game was made by Beckham Jr. and his alligator arms. Beckham was running a deep slant and Manning led him a little too much toward the province of Jets safety Calvin Pryor. Instead of challenging for the ball, Beckham pulled up and the pass sailed into the arms of Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis for an interception. 

The decision prompted such headlines as this one in the Daily News: “Odell Beckham Jr. makes right call to bail on pass,” with Manning in the accompanying story saying, “It’s preseason, there’s no point in going in there and taking hits and throwing guys into big hits.” 

So Beckham is just out there to practice making plays in space? We’re supposed to conclude that as the play unfolded, he saw that he was being led into a big bit and he quickly processed, “Whoa, this is the preseason, I’m not sticking my nose in there”? We’re supposed to think he would react differently in the regular season? OK, I guess we’ll have to wait and see. 

Nero: General manager Jerry Reese. 

Reese deserves props for how well he upgraded the team’s defense via free agency and the draft, but subjecting us to another season of running back Rashad Jennings is going to drive me to drink (more). Jennings has a limited burst, rarely reaches the third level of the defense and is never a threat to hit a home run. 

The Giants’ solution? Spending a fifth-round draft pick on Paul Perkins, who has barely seen the field. Versus the Jets, Jennings ran six times for -1 yard. Granted, the Jets have a stout run defense, but the Giants are also going to be in obvious running situations during the season – or obvious to any team that has a decent running back. The Giants don’t, and that’s on Jerry Reese. 

Zero: Plays in Jets territory by the Giants’ starting offense. 

It’s great that new head coach Ben McAdoo wants to see what the offensive line can do, and thus the steady stream of running plays – including on third and long. But man, the offense was just pathetic. Everyone seemed out of rhythm and that’s a bit alarming since the starters almost certainly won’t be playing on Thursday in the final preseason game against the Patriots. I’m confident the offense will be fine – eventually. But a little success – any success! – from Manning, Beckham and Co. would have engendered a lot more confidence before the season opener against Dallas. Luckily for the Giants, their newly revamped defense will be facing a rookie quarterback (Dak Prescott) and rookie running back (Ezekiel Elliott). 

The Giants’ offense probably won’t need to be perfect for the team to beat the Cowboys. Still, it’d be nice if Beckham leaves his alligator arms at home for that game.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Time to Rename the MetLife Bowl to the Giants Bowl]]> Fri, 26 Aug 2016 11:18:17 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/usa-victor-cruz-giants.jpg

Well, well, well, it’s finally here, the annual preseason game between the Giants and the Jets, aka the lamest titled rivalry game in sports (the MetLife Bowl) with the lamest nickname (the Snoopy Bowl) and the lamest trophy.

Yup, the game is named after the stadium the two teams share; nicknamed after the mascot of the stadium sponsor; and the trophy is a knockoff of college football’s Heisman Trophy. Since this game is meaningless in the standings, we have time to digress toward an equally meaningless exercise, and that’s renaming this annual game, giving it a new nickname and creating a new trophy.

New name: The Giants Bowl.

Why: The old stadium was named for the Giants and they agreed to allow the Jets to share Giants Stadium after the Jets lost their security deposit at Shea Stadium (or something approximating that). Anyway, the Giants have won four Super Bowls (and two in the last decade) and the Jets haven’t even reached the Super Bowl since before the moon landing. The name of the bowl should reflect the stadium occupant who has won the Super Bowl the most recently. See, we’re not saying it should always be called the Giants Bowl; only that it should be that until the Jets win their next Super Bowl. No need to rebrand every year when you can do it every five decades.

New nickname: The Big Blue Bowl.

Why: Big Blue is the Giants nickname, and the nickname should be some reflection of the actual bowl name. If the Giants were named the Yankees, an appropriate nickname might be the Pinstripe Bowl. Feel free to steal that name. Similar to the official name of this rivalry game – the Giants Bowl – the nickname would depend on the team that has most recently been king of New York football. So, yeah, there’s always hope that sometime down the line we can refer to this as the Gang Green Bowl. Now how’s that for imagery?

New trophy: A big apple, preferably solid gold. No need to slap an old leather football helmet on it or to make it do the Heisman pose – since, ya know, this is professional football.

Now that we’ve settled that important matter, let’s move on to the game itself. This is each team’s third preseason game, commonly referred to as the “dress rehearsal game,” as it’s the preseason contest when starters are expected to see their most extensive action before being placed in bubble wrap for the fourth and final preseason game, only to be opened in time for Week One.

If you watched the first few minutes of the Cowboys’ third preseason game against the Seahawks on Thursday, you saw Tony Romo get knocked out on the third play, all but assuring the advent of the Dak Prescott era in Dallas. Cowboys fans, a delusional lot by nature, think Prescott is the second coming of Roger Staubach, so many of them are probably shrugging off the latest injury to Romo's cork-stuffed back. If something similar happened to the Giants and Eli Manning, the rush to buy Ryan Nassib jerseys would probably pale in comparison.

But let’s not talk about injuries. Let’s talk about, um, Victor Cruz.

The salsa king is returning to game action after nearly two years away. He blew out his patellar tendon against the Eagles in October 2014, then struggled all last season with a calf problem. Most recently he’s been battling a groin injury. Will he ever return to the Pro Bowl-level that made him a fan favorite? If he does, this offense is going to be ridiculously good – with Cruz in the slot joining Odell Beckham Jr., rookie wideout Sterling Shepard, running back Rashad Jennings and professional Swiss Army knife Shane Vereen.

These guys are presumably all going to get a lot of run against the Jets, who in turn will likely be unleashing their full-capacity defense for at least two quarters. If you combined the Giant offense and the Jet defense, you might have a squad capable of beating the NFL’s 75th anniversary team. Alas, the Jets still have Ryan Fitzpatrick under center.

Last year I extolled the virtues of Fitzmagic, the kind of gun-slinging quarterback who was perfectly suited to an offense with playmakers like Brandon Marshall and red zone studs like Eric Decker. And I was right – until I wasn’t.

Fitzpatrick threw three crippling interceptions in the team’s embarrassing Week 17 loss to the Bills and former Jets coach Rex Ryan, squelching the team’s playoff chances. Now he’s back, and a team that’s added Matt Forte at running back (and still has plenty of weapons on offense) is relying on the Harvard graduate to avoid spontaneous combustion when the chips are down.

The Jets might win this meaningless dress rehearsal against the Giants. But I feel safe in saying this annual rivalry game will be known as the Giants Bowl (at least to me) for the foreseeable future.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Shouldn't Sleep on the Rex Ryan Bills]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 10:33:08 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/rex+return.jpg

I gotta admit, I like the Buffalo Bills, the Giants’ opponent for the second game of the 2016 preseason. I don’t root for them (thank heavens). But outside of the one team I actually root for (which isn’t the Giants), the Bills are among the select few franchises whose good fortune I welcome -- ya know, if that ever actually comes to pass.

Wishing well for the Bills requires no magnanimity, because this is a ghost ship franchise, the kind that can hold the current record for the longest postseason drought among the fourth North American major sports and yet not be considered a truly star-crossed and stupid outfit.

The Browns, Chargers and Lions? Yep, they’re star-crossed and stupid. But the Bills have somehow managed to miss the playoffs every single season since 1999 -- and yet they’ve never stunk enough to earn the No. 1 pick. That’s a savant-like commitment to mediocrity: never too high (duh), but never too low. No one associates them with such wasted No. 1 picks like Jamarcus Russell, Alex Smith, Sam Bradford, David Carr, Tim Couch or Courtney Brown, who were all taken in the top spot in drafts since 1999.

The Bills haven’t even been bad enough to earn the No. 2 pick at any time since 1999. So while some Colts fans were wondering if the team had made a mistake in drafting Andrew Luck with the top selection in 2012, and Washington fans were wondering if they’d lucked into Robert Griffith III with the second pick (hah), Bills fans had no such dilemma. The team grabbed cornerback Stephen Gilmore at the ho-hum No. 10 slot.

The highest the Bills have drafted since 1999 was No. 3 (defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, 2011) and No. 4 (tackle Mike Williams, 2002). Dareus has been good (when he hasn’t been nabbed for smoking Satan’s weed), and Williams was a bust. So Mike Williams, who was drafted 14 years ago, is still held up as the paragon of Buffalo draft busts. How can Bills fans be pissed at him? That’s like holding a grudge against the grammar school girlfriend that you dated for a week.

The Giants have no such baggage. The team has won one Super Bowl per decade since the 1980s (1986, 1990, 2007, 2011) and twice beaten a close regional rival (New England) in the Super Bowl. The Bills have reached four Super Bowls and lost all four -– starting with a loss to the Giants when Scott Norwood went wide right in 1990.

But the Bills nowadays have something the Giants don’t (Rex Ryan). And that means Buffalo’s defenders in this game are going to be vampires hunting Eli Manning like he’s got a dripping neck wound. Manning can vouch for Ryan’s counterintuitive approach to preseason football. When Ryan was coaching the Jets in 2010, his defense blitzed the future Hall of Famer relentlessly and left Manning with a three-inch ooozing gash on his forehead that required 12 stitches.

Rex Ryan + Eli Manning = WWE.

This is Manning’s first game action of 2016, because head coach Ben McAdoo thought it was prudent to spend the first preseason game seeing what Ryan Nassib was incapable of doing. Manning and the Giants would be wise to hit the ground running; otherwise, he might be hitting the ground face-first.

Buffalo is a franchise with nothing to lose and everything to gain –- even in the preseason, and especially with Ryan and his twin brother, Rob, leading the charge. Usually it’s impossible to predict what a meaningless preseason game like this would produce. But on one side you have a team with Super Bowl aspirations, and on the other side you have a franchise itching to break the streak for longest North American playoff drought –- led by the Ryan brothers.

Have I convinced you that it’s going to be a game worth watching? If not, you’re beyond help.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Hope for a Safe, Sound and Sane Season ]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 09:38:44 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/TLMD-Ben-McAdoo-giants-st.jpg

Before embarking on any family journey, my father used to have a tradition of saying, "Let’s pray that we all have a safe, sound and sane trip,” the hope being that whatever the occasion -- vacations, college visits, a Georgetown basketball game -- we would all survive in one piece, make good decisions that wouldn’t get him arrested, and be mindful of keeping the crazy hidden from public view. 

It’s obvious no one with the Giants made a similar incantation before last season. Their journey was not safe (as evidenced by Jason Pierre-Paul’s missing fingers); sound (as evidebnced by the team’s numerous fourth-quarter meltdowns); or sane (as evidenced by their idiotic decision to fire former head coach Tom Coughlin). 

Will 2016 be much different? Well, it certainly can’t be more frustrating. Last year’s 6-10 team had an explosive offense, implosive defense and a penchant for inane late-game decision-making. They were a terrible tease. At one point in the season I actually predicted the Giants would be playing the Jets in the Super Bowl. I’m in a better place these days, please believe me. 

Because so much can happen between now and Week One, we’ll wait till later in the preseason to put forth a full team preview. In the meantime, preseason football! 

A lot of fans won’t be particularly interested in Friday night’s preseason opener between the Giants and the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium. The game doesn’t count in the standings, the starters will probably only play about 15 snaps, and the players who will see the most action probably won’t be with the team come September. 

All reasonable reasons points — to casual fans, anyway. 

The preseason is also when hungry guys looking to make an impression are flying around the field like rabid animals (unsafe); head coaches such as Ben McAdoo are calling first down plays like, “Sterling Shepard, Hail Mary to the back pylon” (unsound); and certain fans actually gamble on the game’s outcome (insane). 

For the most part, the preseason is no time to be safe, sound or sane. It’s a time to let it rip, see what sticks and find out what’s going to work before you button things up for the regular season. 

Is it crazy to think this year’s team could be playing on the first Sunday in February? Again, we’ll dive deeper into the team’s fortunes later on, but the short answer is no, it’s not crazy. The offense is still stellar (and now hopefully adds a healthy Victor Cruz); the offensive line returns intact; and the defenseadded three studs in defensive end Olivier Vernon; defensive tackle Snacks Harrison (who will never be referred to as Damon in this space); and cornerback Janoris Jenkins. 

Can a team that typically builds through the draft win a Super Bowl by caulking its holes through free agency? I don’t know, did the Giants draft Plaxico Burress, who caught the game-winning touchdown in the team’s first victory over the Patriots in a Super Bowl? Did the Broncos draft Peyton Manning? Did the Packers draft Reggie White? 

Sure, teams like the Redskins, Eagles and Cowboys have failed repeatedly at trying to win through free agency. But that’s because their ownership groups don’t know the first thing about how to conduct a safe, sound and sane season. 

The Giants’ journey starts Friday. So say the incantation with me (and please, don’t gamble on this game).

<![CDATA[Nassib a Stark Reminder of Life Without Eli]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 09:41:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-501383786.jpg

The Giants survived their first preseason game, losing to the Dolphins 27-10 while losing no one valuable in the process. Apparently that was the top priority for new head coach Ben McAdoo, who put Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. on ice in order to find out what backup Ryan Nassib is capable of doing against the Dolphins’ second string. 

Miami was minus Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh and Mario Williams, so how much can you take away from Nassib’s effort? 

A lot, actually. He was 7 for 15 with two interceptions and a lost fumble – against the backup defensive line of the Miami Dolphins. No bueno. 

The offense moved the ball well on its first series, a 74-yard touchdown drive highlighted by Sterling Shepard’s terrific 24-yard catch to set up first and goal at the 8-yard line. Beckham has been touting Shepard’s skills all preseason, and the second-round pick from Oklahoma did not disappoint. He flashed the talents that can put a very good 2015 offense over the top into a championship-contending offense in 2016. 

The defense, meanwhile, was trying to do its best impression of the Big Blue Wrecking Crew, shutting down the Dolphins’ offense with a three-and-out on its first three possessions. The newly revamped defensive line had some impressive push up front, in stark contrast to last year’s team that allowed opposing quarterbacks to bring their own Barca loungers onto the field. 

No one wants to listen to me when I say this is a Super Bowl-contender. I’m not a Giants homer; they’re not even my team. And that’s what allows me to watch them dispassionately. When they’re stupid, I acknowledge it. When they’re smart or savvy, I give them props. 

On the face of it, sitting Manning and Beckham is annoying. Fans haven’t been waiting eight months to see what Ryan Nassib can do. They want to see what a fully operational Death Star can do: they want Manning, Beckham, Jennings, Vereen and Shepard. Heck, they even want to see if Larry Donnell can make a catch without diving head first and fumbling. 

But McAdoo already knows what that unit is capable of doing. They’re capable of scoring with the Steelers of the league. Ya know, provided Manning and Beckham remain healthy. 

There’s no use getting into the weeds about the team’s opening preseason game. The offensive line looked good; the running lanes were there for Jennings and Vereen. The starting defense looked markedly better than last year’s team, which usually rolled over and asked you to scratch its belly. But the biggest takeaway is how screwed the Giants will be if future Hall of Famer Eli Manning ever goes down with an injury. 

Nassib is not terrible, but he’s not Kurt Warner in the event that Trent Green gets hurt, either. It’s fine for McAdoo to give him plenty of playing time, if only as a reminder of what is missing when Eli is not under center.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Much Has Changed Since Giants Last Faced Eagles]]> Sat, 02 Jan 2016 00:53:18 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_451101506974.jpg

A lot has changed since the Giants and Eagles faced off Oct. 19. The Mets lost in the World Series, the Jets turned around their season, and the Giants and Eagles raced to see whose on-the-field play would get their coach fired first. In that regard, the Eagles come out winners.

Let’s examine what else is different between Then and Now for these two teams.

Then: The Eagles’ head coach was Chip Kelly.
Now: It’s not.

Then: The Giants were 3-2 and could very well have been undefeated if they hadn’t blown fourth-quarter leads to Dallas and Atlanta in their first two games.
Now: I am done making excuses for this terrible team.

Then: The Giants’ 27-7 loss to the Eagles was their largest margin of defeat on the season.
Now: Last week’s 49-17 drubbing at the hands of the Vikings holds the honor.

Then: The Giants and Eagles were fighting for first place in the NFC East.
Now: That team from Washington earned the honor of being the division’s sacrificial lamb in the playoffs.

Then: My prediction of a Giants-Jets Super Bowl was still viable.
Now: My prediction of the Giants watching the Jets in the Super Bowl is fresh off the grill.

Then: Tom Coughlin was the oldest coach in the league.
Now: He’s the oldest coach in the league for at least one more game.

Then: The Eagles wore all-black jerseys in a show of solidarity.
Now: The Eagles should wear all-black jerseys in memory of their 2015 season.

Then: The Eagles were the only NFC East team to never win a Super Bowl.
Now: They’re holding steady.

Then: The Giants had one of the most explosive offenses in the league.
Now: They proved against the Vikings they’re useless without Odell Beckham Jr.

Then: Damontre Moore had a disastrous roughing the passer penalty on a third-and-10 with the Giants ahead 7-0 against the Eagles.
Now: Moore is known as the guy who got cut for arguing with Cullen Jenkins about getting a free pair of headphones.

Then: The Giants’ running game was terrible.
Now: Andre Williams just ran for a half yard again.

Then: The Giants’ special teams – especially Dwayne Harris, Brad Wing and Josh Brown – were an important part of the team’s success.
Now: The team has no success.

Then: The team was anxiously awaiting the return of Jason Pierre-Paul from his devastating fireworks injury.
Now: Something has to give; he can’t come back next year and play with an oven mitt cast again.

Then: It was 2015.
Now: It’s not.

Then: The Giants’ season looked promising.
Now: It’s almost over.

Then: Tom Coughlin and general manager Jerry Reese seemed certain to return for the 2016 season.
Now: “Should old acquaintances be forget, and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintances be forget, and auld lang syne?”

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Look Stuffed From Christmas in Loss to Vikings]]> Mon, 28 Dec 2015 13:21:19 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP820653380421_opt.jpg

Well, put a fork in the 2015 Giants, who embarrassed themselves with a 49-17 loss to the Vikings on Sunday night. In fact, put a knife in the G-men, too. And a spoon. And a soup ladle. And any other eating implements you have lying around your kitchen following this long, gut-busting Christmas weekend.

Heaven knows, I ate and drank enough to bring lethargy to a small army. And apparently the Giants were on a similar diet, as they galloped around the gridiron like so many confused animals that had been hit with tranquilizer darts.

The only thing sadder than watching the Giants get trampled under the wheels of the playoff bound Minnesota team would have been hearing a friend say on Facebook that he needed to have Eli Manning post big numbers to win the championship game of his fantasy football league.

Living in the northeast amid rabid, homer fans of all persuasions, there was a high likelihood that I might have encountered such a plea for Manning’s success on Facebook; approximately the same odds as seeing a friend re-post a “lottery ticket” that gave them a shot of winning $4.5 million from Mark Zuckerberg.

That, in a chestnut shell, was this Christmas weekend: Friends opting to announce themselves as dolts on Facebook -- on the non-chance of winning free millions -- instead of doing a little research that might have allowed them to retain the respect of their “friends.”

I have no proof, but I’m willing to bet a lot of Giants players reposted that Zuckerberg charade, too. They obviously didn’t spend the past few days devising a functional game plan against Minnesota.

This game really had it all from a failure standpoint, so let’s just go around the room and say a few words.

Eli Manning. At one point in the game, ESPN stats shared this nugget on Twitter: “Eli Manning is now 1-of-8 with three interceptions on passes more than 5 yards downfield.” That's a stat from a Pop Warner game.

Andre Williams. He ran the ball three times for 5 yards, and on one play tried to make a cutback move and was knocked down when an offensive lineman did a swim move and took out Williams with his arm. From now on, Williams should just take handoffs, yell “timber” and fall forward on every carry; he’d get just as far as he does now and not expend as much energy.

Odell Beckham Jr. Thanks to the Eagles' inability to beat Washington, your suspension had no bearing on the Giants’ inability to make the playoffs. Oh, and Julio Jones and the Falcons ended the perfect season for Josh Norman and the Panthers. So sounds like you had a nice, enjoyable day off.

J.T. Thomas III. Thomas got ejected in the fourth quarter of the game against the Vikings, an obvious makeup call for not throwing Beckham out of last week’s game. With the ejection, Thomas was unable to match his season average in missed tackles.

Jason Pierre-Paul. You need to lose the club by next season. Even a one-handed Lawrence Taylor wouldn't have succeeded in the NFL.

Tom Coughlin. I keep telling myself that most of this Giants’ Dumpster fire was not caused by Coughlin. But the team was absolutely flat against Minnesota, and that’s on him. I think he deserves to come back next year, but general manager Jerry Reese has to give him a better roster. Beckham’s absence in Sunday’s game underscored his importance, but it also highlighted how pathetic this Giants team is in so many phases of the game, particularly on defense. Speaking of which …

Steve Spagnuolo. Somebody has to lose their job following this season. If it’s not Coughlin or offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, then it stands to reason it will be the architect of a defense that is on pace to set records for incompetence. Yes, the team has had a slew of injuries, but so have many other teams. It might not be fair, but it’s also not fair that some people are stupid enough to think Mark Zuckerberg might give them $4.5 million just for re-posting something on Facebook. These are the times we live in. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>