Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Odds and Ends

Ward has 948 yards rushing on the year, following his 215 yard performance and if he gains 52 in the finale against the Vikings, Giants will be one of only a few teams in NFL history that have had two 1000-yard rushers.

Ward won the game for the Giants with this performance but also assured himself of the following: (1) he's going to make a lot of money next year (2) he's going to be making that money for some team that doesn't wear royal blue jerseys. Both Jacobs and Ward are free agents at the end of this year and it's hard to imagine that Giants will re-sign both of them. A team simply can't invest too much money into one position on the field. Giants will most likely re-sign Jacobs, even though I think that Ward may be a more polished, complete player. I think Reese re-signed Ward this year to use as leverage or insurance in case Jacobs was a bust, got injured or made unreasonable salary demands for 2009. Jacobs did get hurt a few times this year and missed some games. People may say that a big guy like BJ who takes (and dishes out) so much punishment is an injury risk and will not have a long career. That may be true, but while RBs are almost a commodity in a pass-oriented league, the Giants have shown that running the ball can be the core of your offense and Jacobs is the only RB in the NFL that you can truly call 'unique' because of his combination of size and speed. He is a game changer and Giants should probably keep him. That said, I am a huge Ward fan and will be sorry to see him go.

Against the Vikings this week, Giants should play hard, play to win, play all their starters, but give everyone who is even the slightest bit nicked up, the game off. IMO, they should deactivate the following: Jacobs (knee), Tuck (flu and lower leg), McKenzie (back), Hixon (ankle), Robbins (shoulders), Ross (concussion - he may be out anyway) and anyone else that needs rest. Two weeks off is huge at this time of year.

Keeping Hixon out may require Eli to throw and develop some rapport with Manningham and/or Moss, which could be important. With Burress out, it is important to have a second deep threat beside Hixon to spread the field or to provide backup in case of injury.

I thought the LB's had a weak game against the Panthers. Pierce made some nice plays including some tackles for a loss and for no gain. But Clark missed some tackles and both he and Blackburn were schooled on some of the big Panther running plays. I never thought I would say this, but: Giants may be missing Kawika Mitchell.

A priority for next year that would make this defense dominant is a great LB. Terrell Suggs is a FA in Baltimore, and while he would be very pricey, he would elevate this defense, especially with Osi coming back. Kiwanuka has played well enough at DE, that I would not move him back to LB. That said, I would like to see Kiwanuka pick it up and get more qb pressure in the playoffs.

If I had a blank checkbook and no salary cap, I would try to acquire the following for the Giants: (1) a killer OLB, (2) a great LT so I could move Diehl inside or back to RT when McKenzie's contract expires (3) a great WR as deep threat to replace Plaxico, because I believe he will never play for the Giants again.

Another good pickup for the Giants would be a long snapper, because I believe Alford can be a budding star at DT and the LS duties takes away focus, preparation and practice time with his DL-mates. The FG snapping was shaky on Sunday and Feagles made some great catches and spots to save some PATs and FGs. I can't help but think that because Alford is on the field a little more with Robbins injury, that his hands are getting beat up and maybe he's getting a little tired and this may have affected the snaps.

Giants defense picked it up in the 2nd half of the Panthers game and it's not a coincidence that Dockery was in the game replacing Ross. Dockery is a very good young player. He is small-ish and therefore not a great tackler or blitzer, but he has good CB skills.

My brother Barry proposed the following trade: Giants to give up a 1st, 2nd and 5th round draft pick to the Lions for Calvin Johnson. The Lions just traded Roy Williams to the Cowboys for a 1-2-5, so they may be in a mood to consider the same for Johnson. Lions are going to be 0-16 and for their rebuilding, they need a lot of players to restock the team, not one great player at WR. They may consider this, but to sweeten the pot for them, I would throw in Mario Manningham, a U-Michigan product who would be a popular home-town favorite and might give the front office some protection that they at least have some budding potential to replace Johnson. Giants have an extra 2 and 5 that they got in the Shockey trade, so they would still have a decent compliment of draft picks.

If you haven't seen Johnson play, I can tell you that he is other-worldly. He is as fast and athletic as Randy Moss, is as big and powerful as TO, has meat-hook hands and doesn't drop anything like Larry Fitzgerald, runs precise routes like Andre Johnson and is a great young man with his head screwed on straight like Jeremy Shockey (just kidding about that last one). He would make the Giants offense positively illegal. (I really don't think this is one of those sports-talk radio trades like: do you think the Yankees should trade Brett Gardner for Albert Pujols? No?... how about if we throw in Melky Cabrera??) I actually think the trade makes sense for the Lions because they need lots of players.

Whom do you want to see squeeze in as the last wildcard? If Cowboys beat the Eagles, they get it. But if Cowboys lose, the Eagles will get in only if the Bucs (at home) lose to the Raiders. The Bucs game is at 1PM and the Eagles-Cowboys is at 4:15PM, so the Eagles will know if they are eliminated when they start their game. If they are eliminated, it probably gives the Cowboys a psychological advantage because the Eagles would have nothing to play for.

I still think that the Cowboys have the most talent and match up best with the Giants, posing the biggest threat to knocking the Giants out of the playoffs. If they lose, Phillips will probably be fired as coach and I don't want that to happen. They could get in to the playoffs and would draw the Vikings/Bears in the first round; a game they would probably win. If they win their first round game, they would come to the Meadowlands to play the Giants in the divisional playoff round. Cowboys probably pose a bigger threat than the winner of Cardinals/Falcons wildcard game.

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