Friday, September 28, 2012

Injury concerns for the Eagles

Last week Prince A made it back into the lineup against the Panthers, played well and we could finally start looking forward to improved play from the DB-field because of full participation from Giants best back-4 players. Then Antrel Rolle decides to run into a camera on the sideline and is questionable for the game. Corey Webster decides to break his hand in the same game and while he is listed as probable, how good will his tackling be and how is he going to be able to hold on to one of the balls Vick will undoubtedly throw up for grabs at some point during the game. The worst news on the injury front is that Hosley, who has been playing very well, has been listed as OUT for the game. Compounding this loss is the fact that Coe, who is the Giants 4th CB and would be expected to step in for Hosely in the nickel package is listed as questionable with a bad hamstring. A team that is fairly deep like the Giants can handle a few injuries; for example Keith Rivers has missed a few games and is out again this week. He played great when he was in there, but a loss of one LB can be handled. However when the Giants are down 2  players in one unit (Hosley and possibly Rolle) and have 2 others that are limited (Coe and Webster), it can really test the roster.

I love Keith Rivers talent, but perhaps this is a hint as to why he never made it in Cincinnati - he was constantly hurt. I hope he makes it back and can play, because he was outstanding when he was in there. With Vick's speed and propensity to get out of the pocket, having fast LBs would be really useful.

In other injury news, Nicks is listed as doubtful. He did not practice today. This is looking ugly.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Looking ahead to the Iggles

On the surface, after watching week 3 games, as a Giants fan you might be very confident that the Giants could go into the Linc and do some damage. While both teams are 2-1, the Eagles had a miserable time getting their two wins, looking awful against a bad Browns team in week1 and barely squeaking out a 1 point win with a late TD to overcome a 6 point deficit. Similar story in their week 2 win where they got a late score to win by a point, though it was against a strong Ravens team. Then last week they got waxed by the Cardinals on the road 24-6. On the other hand, the Giants looked shaky on defense in their opening loss to the Cowboys and looked like their OL was going to be a problem all year. Hosever, they seemed to have righted the ship in the second half against the Bucs and in the Thursday night game against the Panthers they looked dominant.

The common themes for the Eagles in their first three games has been turnovers. In their first two games,  1 point wins, they moved the ball extremely well especially in the air, amassing more than 900 yards of offense in those two games. Turnovers killed them, especially in the red zone and limited their offense. Turnovers could mean that their QB is sloppy with the ball, and the fact that they moved the ball so well on offense means that they have offensive talent. Turnovers are not really repeatable from one game to the next, and if Vick is a little more careful with the ball, the Eagles could be very tough against the Giants defense.

However, the above idea, has the implicit assumption that all turnovers are purely random events caused by sloppy offensive play. This is not accurate - turnovers often come as a result of good pressure by the defense. And the truth is, a lot of the Vick turnovers came because the Eagles OL was flawed coming in to the season and was further weakened by injury, exposing him to pressure. On the other side of the ball, the Giants seemed to have found their pass rush and their DBs played better against the Panthers. Consequently, the matchup of a strong Giants pass rush against a weakened Eagles OL could be a big advantage for the Giants and may bring out some turnovers from Vick. I am still optimistic about a good Giants showing against the Eagles, but you need to look beneath the final score at the big yardage piled up by the Eagles and see that they are still a dangerous offensive team.

On defense, it is that side of the ball that has kept the Eagles in their games when the offense turned the ball over so much. They have a really strong front 7 that plays the run well and can put pressure on the QB. The weakness on the Eagles defense is their DB-field. I think their safeties are vulnerable and their LBs are good against the run but not in coverage against the pass. I don't know what has happened to Asomugha. He was supposed to be the prize FA acquisition a year ago that would transform the Eagles defense into a killer unit, but he looks very beatable on this team, giving up big plays and tackling poorly. Getting rid of Assante Samuel made their DB-field weaker; he used to give Eli fits. If their pass defense is weak down the middle, with LBs and Ss that don't cover well, look for the Giants to try to use Bennett on seam routes and maybe even sneak Barden down the middle with their DBs paying attention to Cruz and Nicks.

Giants coming off a dominant win and Eagles coming off a game where they were dominated by the Cardinals, you would think these are teams moving in the opposite directions. But this will be a tough game and will be difficult for the Giants to win.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Super Cam

I admit that this is the first game that I have seen Cam Newton play and it may be unfair to make a complete judgment based on such little evidence, but here goes. All I have ever seen of Cam Newton are the NFL-channel and Sports Center highlights. From those you can come to the conclusion that you are seeing a superhuman player. You see an Adonis of a man, seemingly bigger and more athletic than the little people around him. You see great speed and some elusiveness, great escapability and power as a runner. Then there's his arm - a real cannon; I saw many highlights of him throwing the ball 60 or 70 yards down the field (or so it seemed) with barely any effort to an open Steve Smith running behind the defense. That was impressive. But the highlights are only his top plays - I guess that's why they call them highlights. You've got to see him play a whole game, and really a whole season to see if he's really a great QB.

Based on this one very small sample, in a single sentence I would sum it up this way: with that veer/option offense, they're running a college style offense and he looks like a college QB. When he's got space he can make his throws, but when the pocket collapses a bit - not when he gets sacked, but when he doesn't have nice clean space to throw from - he's very poor and that's what separates the men from the boys in the NFL. Perfect example was the first INT by Hosely. Newton wasn't about to get sacked, but there was some penetration in the middle right at his feet and the pocket was closing in around him. He could not stride forward comfortably and use his perfect mechanics. Instead, he threw it just with his arm, did not get a chance to stride naturally and did not rotate his hips or shoulders on the throw. That's why the ball was about 3 yards behind the WR. Terrible throw and a good pick by Hosely when the ball got tipped in the air.

On his second INT, in addition to being a bad throw, it was a terrible decision - it was late and over the middle, a dangerous place to go and Boley picked it off easily. In fact if he hadn't made the pick, it appeared that two other Giants DBs were right behind him in position to do the same.

On the third INT, he didn't read the S coming over. That happens in the league, but it wasn't a crowded area, there was nobody else there, and the S wasn't coming off one man and going elsewhere. So even though these kinds of picks happen, Newton should have been able to see the S sliding in.

I also didn't like his attitude and behavior during and after the game. He finally scored a TD midway through the 3rd, Giants had the game well in hand at that time and he still went through his Superman performance. Wrong - not when you're down 3 scores. (By contrast, last year Cruz scored a TD against Saints when the Giants were getting roasted and he just handed the ball to the ref, did not do his signature Salsa dance. Professional.) Furthermore, Cam sulked on the sideline like a little-leaguer when it was evident that his team was losing. To top it off, his refusal to give the other team credit in the post game press conference, saying it was the Panthers who gave the game away, not the Giants who took it, was also childish and unprofessional. You don't display leadership skills to your locker rom by acting like a child. This is not college, where every person is within a year or two in age. There are some grown ups in that room. They're professionals. I don't think they like that stuff and they're not going to follow an immature kid into battle.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Week 3 recap

Lots of personal stuff going, took a brief hiatus, now we're back blogging away.

I'm not going to review in detail the flow of the Carolina game or the Tampa game since they are long in the books, but we can review some of the major trends and observations from those games.

The biggest thing to notice and I anticipate what could be the biggest harbinger of improved play from the G-men is the OL play. It was like a switch being turned on midway through the Tampa game, and I hate to say it, but it seemed to coincide with the Diehl injury. When he first went down, Giants tried a few different combinations on the next few plays and series. At first Boothe slid over to RT and Cordle went in at G. Then Cordle played RT and Boothe returned to his position. Then Beatty played some at RT, but ultimately they moved Beatty to his natural LT spot and flipped Locklear over to RT. I love Diehl, he's been a warrior for the Giants for a long time, a real team player and they won two Super Bowls with him at LT. But there's no getting around the fact that he's not a great OT, that his play has declined over the last few years and he was playing poorly at RT this year. Locklear was so-so at LT and we saw shaky OL play through the Dallas game and part of the Tampa game. But Beatty has been rock solid at LT, good blocking for the pass and very good in the running game, while Locklear is a much better RT than he is LT. So with this move, Giants upgraded greatly two critical positions on the OL. Tampa has a very good DL and held their opponents to meager rushing yardage this year, but the Giants ran well against them. I don't think Carolina's DL or defense is that good, but the Giants OL pounded them for big running yards and gave Eli a nice clean pocket to throw from. If the Giants OL plays well enough for the Giants to get 120-130 yards rushing, with the weapons they have at WR/TE and that guy # 10 playing QB, Giants will put up lots of points. As my friend Ray pointed out, the biggest indicator of improved OL play and running game wasn't really the 130 yards Brown ran for against Carolina. It was when the Giants had 1st and goal from the 9 and they ran the ball 3 times culminating with Brown taking it in for the TD. All three runs were over the left side of the OL behind Beatty.

Andre Brown and Ramses Barden played very well against Carolina; that goes without saying. But it has to be mentioned that the Caroina coaching was clueless. I guess you can't roast them for trying to slide the coverage over to Cruz when Nicks was out and in effect say: "let's see Barden beat us". But when it was evident that he was beating them after he caught 5 or 6 balls right away, they could have, maybe should have reevaluated their strategy. I'm being kind. They're a bunch of dopes. It's fine to go in with a particular game plan, but you can't stick with it blindly without watching the game and seeing if it's working. This was Bill Sheridan's style and that's why Coughlin showed him the door after one year.

I have posted here many times that I think Bradshaw is overrated and with Brown's performance, perhaps we see that a straight ahead slashing style might be more effective in today's speed-focused league rather than Bradshaw's juking, dancing, make-somebody-miss and bounce it outside style. If Bradshaw stays out for a few weeks with the injury and Brown continues to play well, I wouldn't be so fast to give him back his starter's job. Develop Wilson and even Scott as the speed alternatives while giving Brown the bulk of the carries. Maybe Giants will find that Bradhsaw is not a necessary part in future years.

Prince A came back and played really well against Carolina. He seemed like he was always in good position and he defended a few passes. He's also a solid tackler in run support. Hosely looks like he could be a star. He's a little small-ish, so you may always need to pair him with one big CB who can handle the really tall WRs in the league, but he has great makeup speed, great feet and he is a playmaker. What a difference to the pass defense it makes to have 3 good CBs and a pass rush. Huge difference to trot Tryon and Coe out as 4th/5th CBs instead of 3rd.

The Giants are so deep with quality LBs, a position that was weak a few short years ago, that the starters could all get injured, the second team could come in and we would not notice a drop off in talent. Kiwanuka-Blackburn-Boley with Williams-Herzlich-Rivers right behind them and Paysinger barely even in the mix, mostly playing ST. In fact - he made a huge play on ST forcing and recovering the fumble of the opening kickoff of the 2nd half of the Carolina game. That's whay io keep saying - expect Osi to leave after this year, slide Kiwanuka back to the DL and let these talented LBs play.

Speaking of Carolina game, I just love what the brilliant analyst Mayock said. Carolina was obviously having trouble in coverage as Eli had open targets to throw to all night. So the genius says (not a direct quote): "Carolina is not covering well, but regardless of coverage, if you can't get to the QB and you can't stop the running game, you're going to have trouble on defense." I think I get it - if you can't stop the pass or the run, your defense might not be so good. I only wish I had that kind of insight into the game, but he's a former player, so I can't possibly hope to have his deep perception.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Week 1 in the past

It's not too early in the season to say that this week 2 game coming up against Tampa Bay is a critical game for the Giants. In general, there is no game in sports that seems to loom larger than week 2 in the NFL season, especially when your team has lost the opener. When you lose in week 1, all of the expectations, hopes, plans of the off-season are tested when your team loses. Maybe the team isn't so good; maybe the personnel was overrated in preseason; maybe the proven players, the veterans are slowing down. Then, if your team also loses game two, you are practically suicidal. Your worst fears, if not confirmed, at least are worsened. You think your team will go 0-16; they never have a chance to win. But if you win week 2, you can throw the week 1 loss aside as an aberration or as your team just finding its sea legs. That's for all teams and their hysterical fans.

For the Giants this week, there certainly is that sense of urgency. The back end of the Giants schedule seems so tough - filled with playoff teams from the 2011 season and apparent contenders in this year's season, they can hardly afford a bad start to the season. It was for this reason that I thought they had to win the Cowboys game, but now that week 1 is in the rear view mirror, they can do nothing but look forward and get on a roll before the tough part of the schedule arrives. Teams that go 0-2 rarely make the playoffs or do well when they get there. Oh wait a minute.... Giants in 2007 were 0-2 coming out of the gate, losing to the Cowboys and Packers, giving up 80 points on defense and looked to be dead after being dominated in the first half of game 3 against the Redskins and trailing 17-3 at halftime. Giants defense rose up and stopped the Redskins cold in the second half and won 24-17 with a stirring goal line stand to win the game at the end. They seemed to do pretty well that season. Every season is different, I guess and the Giants should help themselves by not letting themselves get in that 0-2 hole.

Buccaneers had a very good week defensively stopping Cam Newton and the Panthers. They held Panthers to 10 yards rushing for the entire game. Panthers only attempted 13 running plays, but still .... 10 yards is impressive job by Bucs defense. Newton threw for 303 yards, but they did intercept him twice, so overall that was a strong performance by their defense. Bucs offense is not great, so let's see if Giants can rebound from their weak overall performance against the 'Boys.

I keep hearing that Beatty is practicing and feeling better, but the Giants have not announced if he will start.

Looks like Amukamara is practicing and has a chance to play. Hosley and Coe seem to be recovering from injury also.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Cowboys game follow up

Defensive deficiencies

I've never liked Fewell as a coach. With the talent he has to work with, Giants should be near the top of the league all the time. Last year they only played well in the playoffs and while I know that some key guys came back from injury, they still should not have been at the absolute bottom of the league all season. Let me highlight a few strategic and tactical mistakes that he made in the opener against Dallas.

Dallas is supposed to have a weak OL, especially on the interior at G and C. To take advantage of this, JPP often lined up in the middle of the field playing DT. This is a complete waste of his ability. Giants tried it in his rookie year when Tuck and Osi were firmly implanted as the starting DEs, so they used him often at DT to get him used to the game. He was invisible and it probably retarded his growth and progress. He is a natural - not a studied, cerebral player. He plays all on instinct and even though he has improved and developed some actual moves from the DE position, he is still a newbie when it comes to the general football IQ part of the game. Not everyone can simply shift between DE and DT seamlessly like Justin Tuck can. JPP is an instinctive blend of speed and power. Moving him inside takes away the speed part of his game, makes him one dimensional and takes away what makes him great, which is the blend of speed and power. Part of the problem, as my friend Ray pointed out may have been that the Giants only had 3 natural DTs active, so they needed some snaps at DT from a DE. This should have come from Tuck, not JPP. On such a hot night, when the big guys need a rest, he should have dressed an extra DL-man. My friend Ray also pointed out that the DTs, especially Joseph wore down in the heat making the Dallas OL more effective against Giants DL as the game wore on.

Furthermore on a few plays, to fool the other team, Giants had Tuck standing up and roving as LB. Another stupid move by Fewell. Tuck is an amazing athlete and can drop into coverage on occasional zone blitz. But when he is standing up before the play, it takes away the element of surprise and just makes the defense weaker both at the DL as well as the LB position. Zone blitzes have gone out of style for the reason that the offenses are not surprised by them anymore and without that surprise element, it just takes players out of their best position. Doesn't stop Fewell from using these zone blitzes.

At times Cowboys used quick drops to avoid Giants pass rush. But there were plenty of times in 2nd half where Romo had plenty of time to throw and Giants DL got no rush at all. When you're confident you can beat the DB, you can keep an extra guy in to block, and even though you have one less guy in a pass route for the defense to cover, you can still get someone open.

On several plays, after the Cowboys offense came to the line, Giants shifted from a 2-S formation to single S high in the middle of the field. Again, they telegraphed this and allowed Romo to take advantage. With one S in the middle of the field, he has more distance to cover to give help on the otuside - he's got 1/2 the field to cover instead of just 1/4 of it to get to the sideline. On the Cowboys long passing plays, the S was late getting over and giving help, largely because he had twice as much distance to cover. During the off season, Phillips and Fewell both said that now that Phillips has completely regained his speed, he will be moved closer to the line of scrimmage to make some plays. I think this is the opposite of what I want my S to do. With all the passing in the game, I want my S to be a safety, i.e. safely prevent the long balls. Not every S can play near the line like  Polamalu and still get back to defend deep balls. Another strategic mistake by Fewell.

When the Giants CBs play off the WR in crucial medium yardage situations and allow easy slants to be completed in front of them for first downs, are they bad CBs? Or maybe they're being coached to give a cushion so they don't give up the big play. That strategy can be argued with, but at least it can be defended over the course of the game. But when the other team needs 9 yards for a 1st down to close the game, what's the logic behind giving a cushion. There was a TO before the play, ample time for the DC to tell the defense what he wanted and to remind them of down, distance and clock left in the game. Perhaps it was bad CB play, but it was definitely bad coaching.

Last year Giants were the worst defense in the league until game 15. Giants played defensively great in the playoffs largely because a few key guys came back from injury. But with the talent they have on this team, they shouldn't have been the worst defense in the league even without Tuck and Osi playing well. They were letting deep plays go over their heads all season long. They weren't just bad, they were awful and that was more coaching than the players. Near the end of the year, Coughlin brought in some business/military consultants to help get everyone on the same page. It was effective, but Giants/Fewell should never have been so bad up until then. He is not a good coach and Giants did well down the stretch last year despite him. They have so much talent on defense, even he couldn't screw it up.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cowboys Opener

I was at the game last night and haven't gotten a chance to review it on my DVR yet, but you don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out what the problems were last night. First and foremost was the OL. They opened absolutely no creases in the Dallas front 7, got no push when they didn't open holes for the running game and the pass protection of Eli was really poor. There is nothing that makes an offense look worse than a bad OL and this was it last night. The discouraging thing for me was that this does not appear to me to be a one time problem, or a single bad game. Giants won the Super Bowl last year depsite having one of the worst OLs in the game and they did not address it at all in the off season. The only thing they did was shuffle things around a bit - they got rid of the poorly playing RT MacKenzie and replaced him with also-poor-playing Diehl, who had been at LT. They also moved career backup Boothe in as the starting LG and, with unproven Beatty on the bench with an injury, took an 11 year mediocre OL-man and made him the starting LT. Giants were the worst rushing team in football last year and with the the proven talent they had at RB, with both Bradshaw and Jacobs players that had 1,000 yard rushing seasons on their career resume, it is obvious that the fault laid with the OL. Giants have a lot of talent on offense at the skill positions and one of the best QBs in the game but their weak OL undermines this whole offense. The dispiriting thing is that there just does not seem to be that much talent on the OL and this could be a season long problem that will bring down the offense and the whole team. If not bring it down completely, this poor play will certainly curtail its success. With a 1st and goal on the 1 after Boley's INT, the fact that they could not punch it into the end zone says it all about the OL.

The pass protection was very poor even when Manning wasn't actually getting sacked or hit. There never seemed to be a clean, well formed pocket. There were guys coming from every angle and it did not even give Eli an opportunity to manage the rush. He's gotten very good at either stepping up in the pocket to avoid guys coming from behind him or stepping wide around the DEs when pressure comes up the middle. But last night the pressure was more chaotic as DL-men were coming from all over at random angles. I saw a few times that Eli, quite uncharacteristically took his eyes away from the downfield receivers and looked at the rushers, because of this ill-formed pocket. It was collapsing constantly and he was never comfortable in there.

On defense, we thought the Giants DL would dominate the Cowboys questionable OL, especially their interior OL-men. The Giants DL did a decent job against the rush, marred only by one great run by Demarco Murray where he stayed on his feet, avoided a bunch of tackles and made a big play down the sideline. They got some occasional pressure on Romo, a few that Romo managed to escape out of , but for the most part, the Cowboys OL did a good job in pass protection and gave Romo time to find his receivers. Cowboys OL moved the ball very well once they found the rhythm of the game. In their first 4 possessions, they had 2 punts, 1 INT and 1 time where they turned it over on downs. However, their next 5 possessions were all dominant: TD, TD, FG, TD and a first down to close out the game with 2 minutes left and Giants out of TOs. Giants defense was dominated and could not get off the field from the end of the first half through the end of the game.

With Thomas done for the season, with Amukamara out for the game, when Coe went down with a hamstring injury, Giants were using Tryon, who is essentially the 5th best CB on the team, behind Webster and Hosley on the depth chart in addition to the others mentioned above. With decent pass protection and a few escapes when the Giants did get a rush, Romo was able to pick on him for some important completions but also torched Corey Webster who was beaten deep twice for big plays. You've got to have good CB play on defense - you can't get a big pass rush on every play and sometimes I think Giants rely too much on the idea that their pass rush will get to the QB. Dominant DE play and pass rush are important, but you can often find some help for the OL to block it up. However, there is simply no protection for poor CB play and the Giants played poorly there last night.

One bright spot for me was the play of Keith Rivers and the LBs in general. Rivers was outstanding, making several great individual plays, was in on a lot of tackles, some of them behind the line for losses. Boley made the INT. I did not see Herzlich on the field at all, with Blackburn going all the way in the middle and playing fairly well.

Giants lost an opportunity to take control of the game in the first half with the fumble by Wilson on the Dallas 30 when Giants had a nice drive going; and the failure to get into the endzone after the INT. Giants could have been up 14-0 and instead were ahead only by a FG. When the Dallas offense got going, Giants could not get the game back in balance.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Latest on the roster

Looks like the 53 man roster is finalized - some surprises and some strong messages were contained in the formation of the final 53. It's "final" for now, but there may be further changes.

OL: Giants ended up carrying 9 OL-men. Cordle is the only pure backup C on the team, so he was carried for that more than his skill as a great OL-man. As I posted on this blog several times, Petrus was a real weak link - he was missing assignments and he was getting beaten physically time and again in the preseason. The coaches may have cared more about the mental mistakes, but for me, the fact that he was getting out-quicked and beaten physically, means that his pass blocking didn't improve and he should not be in the team's picture for the long term. Mental mistakes can be worked on, but god given talent can not be. He was cut, but was given a reprieve and taken back on the team when the OL-man they picked up who was waived by the Eagles did not pass his physical. Petrus is now, somewhat tenuously, back on the team. He and the media are saying this was a wake up call for him, implying that now he will buckle down and develop into the OL-man Giants expected to have.  I don't buy it - he wasn't trying hard until now? He was feeling overconfident and complacent with all that he has accomplished in the league? I don't think so. He's just not quick enough. Some players take a while to mature, but they show some flashes of skill even when they're struggling and I didn't see that from him. If somehow another OL-man becomes available because he gets cut by another team or available in a trade,  neither Petrus' nor Cordle's roster spot is secure.

DL: Interesting what Giants did in the DL. I thought the numbers game was 4 DEs and 4 DTs, but Giants liked what they saw so much from Ojomo and Tracy that they essentially took the same route that they did on the draft - keep the best players on the roster, even if it means carrying an extra DL-man and juggling the other roster spots.  Giants are keeping Kuhn, Joseph, Austin and Bernard as DTs and Osi, Tuck, JPP, Ojomo and Tracy as 5 DEs. It probably means that Austin is expected to be back soon, but if they need some additional bodies on the DT rotation in the meanwhile, especially early in the year when the weather is still hot and the big guys need to be rotated, Tuck and Ojomo can take some snaps there with the knowledge that there are extra bodies at DE. This may have cost Greg Jones his roster spot. Giants thought that their front 7 would be better with the extra DE rather than an extra LB. I said all along that Kiwanuka's future is back at DE, but with 5 there, the Giants may think differently. At least for this year.

The intrigue is not over on the DL because Canty is expected to return somewhere around the middle of the season, assuming he can graduate from the PUP list. We'll see what the injury and roster situation is then. Also curious to see what Giants will do when Sash becomes eligible to return from his suspension after game 4. I really like Will Hill; he's more athletic than Sash. Giants usually carry 4 at the S position, so DB Stevie Brown might be vulnerable when Sash comes back. Again, it will depend on performance and injury situation at that time.

WR: I thought Hixon was on the bubble to make the roster, particularly when Barden and even Jernigan started to show something in the preseason games. Not only did Hixon make the roster, but Gilbride announced that he is starting the year as the number 3 WR. Since Giants (and most other teams) run a lot of 3 WR sets, Hixon will get a lot of playing time. Gilbride called him dependable, and I hope that doesn't mean that he has lost his explosiveness following two major knee injuries. I also hope the Giants develop the supporting cast of substitute WRs and give them some snaps during the games. Injuries are a fact of life in NFL and getting substitutes ready is important. More than that, using a WR rotation, just like Giants do at DE and DT is a way to keep them fresh. In 2008, Plaxico and Toomer were on the field every snap, with substitutes getting little playing time. When Plaxico went down towards the end of the season, Giants did not have an able bodied substitute with any experience. Coincidentally, Hixon stepped in and tried to take over, but he was a different kind of receiver than Burress and didn't have the reps during the season to get on the same page with Eli. He also had a huge drop in the playoff game against the Eagles that year. I hope the Giants learned from that episode - substitutes don't only have to be designated, they have to be tested and prepared for the game.

IR: Sad for Shaun Rogers and especially for Terrell Thomas that they were put on IR. From the beginning it seemed like the Giants medical staff did not agree with Thomas' surgeon and external doctor's opinions about Thomas knee injury and his ability to return this year. It's possible that he could rehab it and be brought back next year for another try, but certainly it won't be with the same contract he signed coming into this year.