Thursday, June 25, 2009

Giants: First Fan Forum and PSL

The Giants sent out an email last week, on Friday June 19th to all people who hold a PSL for the new stadium scheduled to open in 2010. It invited all PSL holders to the first ever Giants Fan Forum. It was a conference call for all these 2010 seasons ticket holders where Eli Manning and Jerry Reese would participate. The email said that the Giants would dial out and call all the PSL holders who would then be on the call. If you did not receive the call, the email gave a toll free conference number to call and PIN to enter in order to participate in the call. As a PSL holder for the new stadium in 2010 I received this email and was very pleased and looking forward to the call. I thought it was a very nice touch and thought that the Giants were showing a fan-friendly side to their organization. I dialed in and participated in the call and I have to admit that it was really pretty good. Eli Manning spoke for about 30 minutes followed by Jerry Reese for another 30 minutes. Bob Papa was the moderator interviewing them. The Giants even allowed fans to ask questions to the interviewees, after pressing a key on the telephone keypad and being properly screened, of course. The sessions were pretty good and I will later in this post give you some detail on the interesting things that were said and the little bits of information that I gleaned from these sessions.

The interesting thing, however, is that while these sessions were somewhat worthwhile, their purpose became fairly obvious a few hours after the call ended. Specifically, on Monday afternoon, in the mail, I received the bill for the second installation of the PSL fee, due on the 1st of August. While it was fun to hear Eli and Reese, the "Fan Forum" was a fairly transparent attempt by the Giants organization to mollify the fans and assuage their anger over the PSL charges. PSL holders are now not just fans and season ticket holders. Rather, they are members of an exclusive club, part of the Giants family and are privy now to information that only they can get by being members of this exclusive group. No doubt, the Giants wanted to moderate the bad feelings that may still exist among the people who have to ante up the cash.

Enough cynicism and sarcasm; on to the meat of the sessions themselves. Because I was on the call I can let you know the interesting things that I heard. Of course one common thread that was pronounced by both Manning and Reese was about how the Giants season ended very disappointingly last year. They played very well, had a rewarding regular season and were poised to go far in the playoffs. They were gratified that the regular season was so successful and that they managed to avoid a post Superbowl let down in 2008. But, they are hungrier now than ever because of the bitter way the 2008 season ended.

The interesting things that you won't see in the papers were, among other things, Eli talking about the Giants passing game:

The WRs are much different this year than the last few years. Last year with Burress and Toomer they relied on their size and ran a lot of hook routes and out patterns mixed in with the occasional deep ball. This year's WRs are much quicker, more explosive and more dynamic than last year's. As a result, we will probably see many more slant patterns and crossing routes this year, where Eli hits the WRs on the move and they get a chance to run after the catch. Eli expects a big improvement in YAC (yards after catch) this year. Manningham and Moss are much faster than Toomer and Burress and we can expect more straight go routes to spread the field. He spoke about Sinorice Moss and how fast he is; that he was always fast, but that now he is learning the medium routes and is much better at his sight adjustments and reads. (Editor's note: of course, that will have to show itself in the regular season against real defenses, but at least Eli was positive about Moss.) More interesting, however was the enormous praise Eli had for Mario Manningham. We've all been reading in the papers about what a great spring Moss has had, but we have only read a little bit about Manningham. Eli said he has a great mixture of size, speed, hands and football IQ. Most important, though was how well he comes out of his cuts. Eli said he is running at full speed the moment he plants and cuts and he has great hands, never dropping a thing. He comes out of his breaks so quickly that Eli has to get used to getting rid of the ball earlier than he did when he was throwing to Burress and Toomer on these routes. Eli did not say it, but I am sure Manningham is one of the reasons that the Giants are going to be running the slants and crossing routes this year. If you catch the ball on the move and have better separation, YAC will follow. He also said that he needs to let the ball go earlier on go routes, or throw it about 5 yards deeper because of the added speed that both WR's have, particularly Moss.

Eli also said that Hixon and Steve Smith are improving and doing very well. Smith should have more opportunities this year and Eli is very comfortable throwing to him.

Jerry Reese also toed the company line about the bitter end to last season. He spoke about how excited he is about the young, talented, fast WRs. He said that this was one of the reasons he did not trade for Boldin or Braylon Edwards (he did not mention them by name, since that would be tampering by NFL rules). He simply said that it is always better to develop talent through the draft and he is very happy with the WR crew he has. When asked specifically about Nicks and Barden he was particularly effusive about the upside that Barden has. He said that with his size, everyone assumes that he has only average speed, but he was constantly getting behind the DBs in the spring practices. Reese continues to scout other NFL rosters and therefore is always ready to improve the middle or back end of the roster with players like Hixon and Hedgecock who were cut by other teams. When asked about his best draft nugget - the player he picked that was a surprise choice and did better than anyone expected, he didn't hesitate for a moment: Osi Ueminyora. He came from a small college, Troy State, that did not play the most challenging of schedules. He came in a little undersized in the eyes of many and he has become one of the top 5 DEs in the NFL. He also said that Osi looks to be completely recovered from his knee surgery and looks like he is in top physical shape. He has never seen a DE as fast as Osi.

Good stuff.

Boley hip surgery

It was announced yesterday that Michael Boley, signed for 5 years and $25M by the Giants from Atlanta this off season, will undergo surgery for a torn labrum. He will be out 8-10 weeks, which, if I calculate right, means that he will miss the entire training camp. That's not good. I was counting on Boley to shore up the Giants defensive weakness in pass coverage by the LBs. We can hope that he will be back and healthy by game 5 or so in the regular season. The Giants have talent at that position in Wilkinson, Kehl and Blackburn, but none of them has shown that they can become upper echelon players. I have high regard for Wilkinson, but he keeps getting injured. Maybe this is the year he stays on the field.


Faisal said...

Good to have you back.

This is great insight - I'd love to have been on this call... if only it didn't cost $1K - $20K...

You've commented a great deal on the WR pack the Giants are developing. Is it safe to assume that you think the Giants running game will be business as usual? Let's hope BJ has the time to stay focused:

wolfman said...


Sorry - missed your comment until now.

I am optimistic about the Giants passing game. Hixon and Smith are proven comodities and are productive WRs. There is enough talent among the others: Manningham, Moss, Barde, Hicks, that I am confident that at leat one of them will step up and become a strong player and contributor.

I saw that article in the News. Let's hope he can stay focused