Giants 36 – Panthers 7: Hits, Misses and Musings
I tend to refer to clichés probably more than I should when I write, which certainly wouldn’t please all those wonderful teachers I had in school that helped stimulate my love of writing yet who would probably take points off my essays for what one teacher in particular used to refer to “lazy writing.”
However, there are times when “lazy writing” is acceptable, such as when you’re trying to make a point about something. And so if I may dip into my bag of clichés, this week’s trouncing by the Giants was a classic case of “Good things coming to those who wait.”
What am I referring to? Well certainly the win was a good thing, but I think many people thought that the result would favor the Giants anyway (except for maybe some of the analysts who did the pregame show, from what I’m told.)
No, I’m talking about the ease in which the Giants won this game. When was the last time we saw a Giants game that didn’t go down to the wire, that didn’t see the lead change two or more times, and which didn’t have the majority of the Giants fans down on their knees praying for an Eli Manning led miracle?
I think we’d have to go back to the wild card playoff game against the Falcons for such an occurrence. And I don’t know about you, but to see this week’s game unfold the way it did was quite enjoyable, even though I don’t think I’d want to see a blowout every week.
What was enjoyable from my perspective is that this is a team that faced a lot of questions from the outside, such as how they were going to compensate for the loss of injured player A, B, C, etc. How were they going to deal with a short work week and a road game to boot? How were they going to lace up their cleats?
So many questions, but Tom Coughlin and company had the answers. They kept their cool and focused on the mental part of the game. They didn’t view themselves as having any kind of disadvantage because the Panthers were pretty much in the same boat as far as the quick turnaround goes.
But the one thing that I don’t think gets enough credit is the job the assistant coaches did in putting together the game plan and in working with the players on technique to make sure that the game plan was flawlessly executed. You might remember after the Dallas fiasco earlier this year, Coughlin said they were going to re-examine how they were making use of their time spent together. Whatever adjustments Coughlin and company might have made have paid dividends since.
So, with apologies to my former grammar school teachers, “I tip my cap” to the coaching staff who put the players in a great position to do what they do best because in doing so, they built up the confidence of some of these young players who were waiting for a chance to show what they could do, and made them believe that they can be very much a part of an overall team effort.
I honestly believe you have to give a hit to the entire team. Seriously, the coaches did an outstanding job getting these guys ready on such a short work week. and if that wasn’t challenging enough, how about the job they did with getting the backups like André Brown, Ramses Barden, Will Hill, etc. ready to play when they were needed?
So I give a hit to the entire team for the effort, but I also think a few guys deserve a special mention for their superlative efforts.
I’ll start with Barden. I’ll admit that I was in the camp that was ready to give up on him, but I have to give him kudos not just for the production he had this week, but for how he ran his routes. In the early days, a big problem with Barden was that he rounded out his routes, which in turn often times affected his timing with Eli Manning. Barden is running crisper routes and he’s also running them with a sense of urgency. Maybe it has to do with him being in his contract year, but the light seems to have flipped on for him and not a moment too soon for the Giants.
Now on to Brown. He’s another guy I had doubts about and I always remember being told that one of his problems was that he had trouble picking up an offense. Well, funny things happen when you let a guy stay in the same offense and really immerse himself into it, as the Giants have done. He suddenly learns it and then takes that knowledge and uses his natural athletic abilities to make plays.
And maybe it’s just a coincidence but ever since Brown has come into the lineup, the run blocking seems better. Want to know why? Two reasons one, he’s letting his blocks develop in front of him. Two, he’s hitting the ceases a lot more quickly than Ahmad Bradshaw, who appears to have lost a bit of his foot speed (six years in the NFL and multiple foot surgeries will do that to a person). Once David Wilson gets up to speed in this offense, the duo of Brown and Wilson is going to give a lot of defenses fits.
I don’t know if you’ve notice, but fullback Henry Hynoski is really having a fine year so far. While he doesn’t get the stats – this week he had two receptions for 15 yards, where he’s really making the biggest impact is in his blocking.
In fact, during the game, I commented about how the duo of Brown and Hynoski were a beast in the running game because it just seemed like Brown fed off Hynoski’s lead blocks (which were spot on, I might add). I said at the start of the season that I thought Hynoski might be a Pro Bowler within a couple of years. If he keeps blocking the way he has been—and yes, I know he’s been going against smaller linebackers, but as I see it, these stepping stones help build confidence for when the bigger guys are up on the schedule–and he keeps making plays when the ball comes his way, I might need to re-think my projected time frame.
One thing though that I do want to see and that’s more of Hynoski as the blocking back on third down plays. While Brown did a decent job in those situations, he was the culprit who gave up the lone sack against Eli Manning. I can’t see any reason Hynoski, who’s performed well in that role, shouldn’t have that job, unless the coaches are trying to pace him since he’s also needed for special teams (where he has done a fine job teaming with Jim Cordle on the two man “wedge” on kickoff returns.)
I saw a joke by someone on Twitter – at least I hope it was a joke –about how Coughlin should have benched Jason Pierre-Paul for failing to come up with two interceptions on balls he batted down at the line of scrimmage.
Anyway, while Pierre-Paul came up empty on those potential turnovers, I think you have to look more at the effect those plays had on the game. Specifically, Pierre-Paul’s present seemed to get into Cam Newton’s head, flustering the quarterback. And if a defensive player can do that, then who cares if he doesn’t come down with an interception, right?
Anyway, what was also very impressive about Pierre-Paul’s game was he not only won his battles against Jordan Gross, a former Pro Bowler, he did a wonderful job of playing the contain game which was such a huge part of the Giants’ defense’s plan to deal with Cam Newton.
While on the subject of defensive linemen, how about a shout out to defensive tackle Linval Joseph, who despite not being rewarded with gaudy numbers on the stat sheet, did a wonderful job of collapsing the pocket which in turn forced Newton to hurry some of this throws (and hence make mistakes that benefitted the Giants)?
If that wasn’t enough for your liking, Joseph also deserves a bunch of credit for the job he did against the Panthers’ running game in which he helped clogged things up. Joseph doesn’t have the numbers to show for it, but through three games, he’s really having a fine season so far.
And how about a shout out to linebacker Spencer Paysinger? He not only had a big forced fumble and recover on special teams, but a little known fact that I’m surprised hasn’t been picked up on yet by others in the media is that Paysinger’s weekly ritual, known as “the bagel cut,” was spot on again.
For those who don’t know, last year, I wrote a story on players’ superstitions and rituals, and Paysinger has one in which he has a certain breakfast sandwich the morning of every game. He swears – and this has been going on since his college days – that the cut of the sandwich is an indication about how his team is going to do later that day.
Since I uncovered that fact, Paysinger has been tweeting the results of his weekly pre-game bagel cut. And what did the bagel cut show for this week? You guessed it–an easy time, which described the dominating win over the Panthers.
If you’re wondering about the “cut’s” season record, it’s 3-0.
The stat sheet indicated that Eli Manning was sacked once, one pass play in which running back André Brown was beaten. We noted in this week’s issue of Inside Football that we suspected there was an error made in the protection call as it baffled us to see the smallish Brown isolated against a defensive end. So once again, the offensive line did a pretty good job in pass protection as I don’t think you can put that sack on them, unless you want to argue that Sean Locklear, who was left to block no one on the play, deserves a “miss” for not adjusting.
Last but certainly not least – and yes, as I said at the start, there are many guys worthy of a “hit” on the Giants that I haven’t covered here but who are covered in this week’s Inside Football issue—linebacker Michael Boley is once again showing why he’s a strong candidate for the defense’s MVP. Coming up with his third pick in as many games this year, Boley proved that his recent hamstring issues are a thing of the past as on those small handful of times when he perhaps was fooled a bit, he used his speed to get himself back into position to make plays. In addition though to his half sack and interception, you also have to give him credit for the six tackles he recorded, which were second behind Antrel Rolle’s seven.
While I didn’t have a problem with Prince Amukamara’s aggressiveness on the personal foul penalty called against him (and apparently neither did his teammates, who applauded him for showing a little more fire in his game), what I did have a problem with is that a more aggressive shoving match between Corey Webster and a Panther went uncalled by the officials, to whom I’m giving a ‘miss.’ If you’re going to call these personal fouls during shoving matches, is it too much to ask for consistency in how they’re called?
What was up with receiver Steve Smith, who was held to four receptions for 86 yards all game, running his mouth after making a third quarter reception down 23-0? The way he was acting, you’d have thought he won the lottery or something. Seriously, when I saw that, I had a flashback to my all-time favorite TV show, “Lost” which in Season 2 tried to integrate two new characters, Nikki and Paolo, into the show like they had been a part of the action all along. That experiment failed miserably…as did Smith’s reaction following that reception, which made it look as though he was part of things all along.
And anyone else catch the gum-chomping Cam Newton’s bush-league touchdown celebration in the third quarter? Up until that point, you’re getting your backside beaten soundly and you go acting like the score is 23-7 in your favor? Alrighty!
It was hard coming up with a Giant for a “miss” but I think you have to maybe look at defensive end Osi Umenyiora, whom we think didn’t have one of his better games. Yes, he had the sack and he hustled, but as is sometimes the case with Umenyiora, he had trouble against the run. Again, it wasn’t for a lack of trying as much as it seemed to be the angles and decisions the defensive end made.
The Giants had a very scary moment when safety Antrel Rolle, who was attempting to make a play, had his momentum carry him out of bounds where his knee made contact with a kneeling cameraman who was so focused on his job that he didn’t realize the action was coming his way until it was too late. Meanwhile, Rolle’s knee made contact with the camera’s lens; the result being the safety suffered a contusion and a laceration.
He’ll be fine – he didn’t even need stitches for the injury. But this is what I don’t get. When we are admitted to watch practices, we’re forbidden to sit or kneel on the field for the very same reason the camera folks on the sidelines of games shouldn’t be allowed to sit or kneel – safety concerns. You never know when the action is coming your way, and if you’re sitting or kneeling, you’re not going to be able to get out of the way of a charging player. What’s more, if you have equipment, as was the case here, you pose an injury risk to the players coming your way.
Most teams don’t allow that practice to take place when the speed is half of what it is during a game. So why is it allowed during games?