Monday, September 6, 2010

Giants: Roster

There certainly were some interesting developments over the weekend for the Giants to get to the 53 man roster limit. There were also some very surprising cuts, at least in my opinion, leaving the roster with some questionable depth at certain positions; this roster may not yet be settled.

Among the biggest surprises to me was the cutting of Jay Alford and of both Pascoe and Chandler at TE. The Giants are going into the season with 5 DEs and 4 DTs. This is not an outrageous balance, especially with the fact that a few of the DEs are flexible enough to play DT. We all remember that Tuck would line up at DT at times in pass rush situations. But that is not the surprise to me. Rather, Alford, before his knee injury a year ago was a budding star. He had a real burst of quickness and could create havoc blowing up running plays and putting a pass rush on up the middle with that size/speed combination. Perhaps Alford didn't quite fit with the new DC Fewell's defensive scheme, which calls on the DL to read and react more to the play, engaging the OL-man that is supposed to be blocking them and maintaining control of the gaps to their side until they see what the offense is doing. Alford, who was an aggressive, attack-first player has a style more suited to the scheme of the previous Spagnuolo-designed defense. However, it is a pity that the knee injury so totally affected his career.

Alford has more natural ability, in terms of size, strength and quickness (note: I'm not talking about speed, but that first step quickness) than Tollefson, who made the final roster. Tollefson has a motor that doesn't quit, tries real hard, hustles, but is very limited as a DL-man. He is a one-dimensional speed rusher and would not be seriously considered to play in running downs. So, would the Giants have been better off cutting Tollefson and keeping Alford, thus changing the balance of DE to DT on the Giants front from DE-5, DL-4; to DE-4, DL-5? The balance of the number of DEs vs. DTs isn't much of a decision factor, so that is not an important criterion. The only tangible thing I can come up with is, given what I see on the field both this year and in previous seasons is that Tollefson, because of his speed, was able to play some ST, which Alford was not. Tough break for Alford, who had stardom written all over his play until that pointless preseason-game injury a year ago. Now that the Giants cut him, it will be interesting to see if another NFL team picks him up or if they shy away because of the knee.

The depth chart of the TE position is more perplexing to me. First of all, I happened to really like Bear Pascoe and not just because he has a name that screams: NFL TE. He was a huge, rugged country kid who was very physical and could block. He was not what you would call fleet, but has good hands, runs decent routes and could be a contributor on offense both in the running game as well as the passing game. But - let's say I was totally wrong and Pascoe is not as good as I asserted. Still - how do you go into the season with only 2 TEs? And.... one of them (Beckum) a pure pass catching TE with absolutely no blocking skills, and a history of injuries and absolutely no track record of achievement at the NFL level. Furthermore, the starter, Boss has become a decent blocker, but certainly is more noted as a superior pass catcher to blocker. It sees to me that the Giants are setting up their running game to be weak because of this lack of blocking help for the OL on the perimeter.

We can make a few logical deductions from this:

1. The roster is not yet complete and if a real good TE comes available with these final cuts on other teams, the Gants may take a look.
2. Giants roster has only 2 TEs but they are carrying an extra OL-man. In short yardage situations, Giants will surely bring in an OL-man in a tackle-eligible alignment (probably Beatty, who is quick and athletic). But this does not help on 1st and 2nd down, when you want the opponents to guess what you are running, not advertise it by personnel grouping.
3. Maybe the Giants are changing their offensive strategy and are going to rely on the pass and on quickness more, as suggested also by the Bradshaw promotion. Maybe the fact that they are going with 2 TEs and Bradshaw as starter indicates that they are not going solely with the power, down-hill running attack, but rather, are looking to open things up a bit more. We'll see.

More thoughts on the roster, about the trades with the Vikings and even a little recap of the final preseason game against the Patriots will come in the next few posts.

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