Jump to content
Washington Football Team Logo
Extremeskins

SI: Giants training camp postcard


KiwiSupaFlyNuka

Recommended Posts

Posted: Friday August 1, 2008 8:45PM; Updated: Saturday August 2, 2008 2:22AM

ben_reiter.jpgBen Reiter>INSIDE THE NFL

archivedstories.gif

Training camp postcard: Giants

Story Highlights

  • The Giants are aware of the possibility of a Super Bowl hangover
  • Plaxico Burress maintains he is really injured and not waiting for a new contract

T1_0801_tuck.jpg

The Giants, led by Justin Tuck (10 sacks), registered an NFL-high 53 sacks last season.

John Iacono/SI

SI.com has dispatched 10 writers to report on the 32 NFL training camps across the country. For the complete schedule of postcards, click here.

Where's Ben?

On the campus of the University at Albany, which might not technically qualify as sprawling, but starts to seem that way when you have to make the 15-minute walk between the Giants' practice field and media center five times in a single day, as did this car-less reporter. Still, it's hard not to get caught up in the good cheer that imbues Giants camp this year, in the wake of their stunning Super Bowl triumph. "I've never been thanked more in my life," says center Shaun O'Hara, and the team's fervent supporters have also impressed middle linebacker Antonio Pierce. "There are so many more fans here than ever before," he says. "They're here early in the morning, they're here in the afternoon."

Even Tom Coughlin has gotten into the spirit. Coughlin famously committed to lighten up before last season; but here in Albany last summer, with the guillotine dangling above his neck, he chafed at the daily barrage of questions about Michael Strahan's whereabouts. This year, with a ring on his finger and a contract extension in his pocket, he seems happy to address all queries, no matter how inane. "First time I have ever heard a question like that," he said brightly to a reporter who asked about some procedural element of autograph night. "Congratulations!"

Still, the Giants say they're well aware of the possibility of a Super Bowl hangover, especially as the franchise missed the playoffs the season following each of its previous two championships. Says O'Hara, "The atmosphere's different, but we're still here in Albany for one reason: To put our noses to the grindstone and go to work."

Three Observations

1. The secondary's huge. I spent several moments observing what I assumed to be the Giants' linebacking corps huddled up next to the practice field -- until I realized the group was actually the team's secondary. These guys are monsters (only cornerback Sam Madison is under 6 feet), but the most physically impressive of them all is safety Kenny Phillips, the team's first-round pick out of Miami. He's listed at 6'2, 210 lbs., but he's surely bigger than that now, and the team's thrilled with how he's played so far. The Giants devoted a significant amount of their off-season resources to upgrading the secondary -- they also drafted USC cornerback Terrell Thomas in the second round and signed free agent safety Sammy Knight. They ranked 11th in pass defense last season, but that ranking was somewhat misleading, as the secondary was helped considerably by an unstoppable pass rush. Now they've got a big, fast and deep unit, which should perform well in a division that boasts only one opposing receiver who matches them physically, Terrell Owens.

2. The Giants will miss Strahan. But not that much. The Giants are completely confident there will be no Favre-ian flip-flopping for the league's fifth all-time sacks leader: He's retired for good. And while he played at an extremely high level for a 36-year-old last season, the Giants' pass rush, which led the NFL with 53 sacks, remains strong. Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck (the latter of whom should have probably joined the former at last year's Pro Bowl) should constitute one of the best tandems of ends in the league, and they'll be supported by a still-effective Fred Robbins and the up-and-coming Barry Cofield and Jay Alford, whose sack of Tom Brady with less than a minute left in the Super Bowl was one of the most important (yet somewhat forgotten) plays of the game. And Mathias Kiwanuka, who was playing the best football of his career when he was injured last November, is back at full strength. More on him below.

3. Plaxico's actually hurt -- so he says. Plaxico Burress was adamant in a meeting with reporters that his right ankle is legitimately sore (although he says it's a different malady than the one that hampered him last year), and that he's not pulling a ManRam-like contract-related ploy. "Y'all know me," he said. "If this was about my contract, I wouldn't be here. I'd be sitting at home right now." I'm guessing that Plax will be healthy enough to play on Sundays, but not healthy enough to play much during the week -- which would be fine with the Giants, if he can repeat last season's 1,025-yard, 12-touchdown performance.

New Face, New Place

Not many to choose from here, as the veteran safety Knight, who is tied with Champ Bailey for third on the active interceptions list, amounts to the Giants' only significant off-season acquisition. This will be the hard-hitting Knight's 12th NFL season, and he hasn't missed a game since 1998. However, he's played in only five playoff games, and he says that's inspiring him in camp, particularly when he sits with his new teammates in the UAlbany cafeteria. "When you see that guy sitting next to you, that ring blinding you when you're eating lunch, it makes you hungrier," he says. "I feel hungry. I see the joy these guys have on their faces, and I want that feeling."

1.gif

1.gif

Posted: Friday August 1, 2008 8:45PM; Updated: Saturday August 2, 2008 2:22AM

ben_reiter.jpgBen Reiter>INSIDE THE NFL

archivedstories.gif

Giants postcard (cont.)

T1_0801_eli_iacono.jpg

Eli Manning has been a model of consistency for the Giants since 2005, throwing for 23, 24 and 24 TDs the last three seasons.

John Iacono/SI

Looking At The Schedule

A 10-6 record is a definite possibility. I believe the Giants will go 3-3 in the NFC East (sweeping the Eagles, splitting with the Redskins, and dropping both games to the Cowboys), as they did last season, and will then beat up on a relatively weak slate of non-divisional opponents. The only true tests appear to be road games against the Browns (Week 6), Steelers (Week 8) and Vikings (Week 17). New York could lose that Browns game and still start the season 5-1 -- with wins over the Redskins, Rams, Bengals, Seahawks and 49ers. It's not too far from there to a Wild Card berth (I expect the Cowboys to repeat as NFC East champs), and we all know what can happen if this team gets hot in the playoffs.

Memorable Image From Camp

Defensive end-turned-SAM linebacker Kiwanuka flew around the practice field, looking both faster and more muscular than ever, eight months after fracturing his left fibula in last season's tenth game. At one point, the 6'5", 265 Kiwanuka knocked down a pass 35 yards down the field. Kiwi admits to being a little stiff at linebacker at the beginning of last season but was really starting to get the hang of it when he snapped his leg. He spent his recovery time watching film to get the position down cold, and it looks as if it's paid off: Coughlin has singled him out for praise after several sessions already, and he's been one of the best players on the practice field. "I knew it was going to be a matter of time before I got to this point," says the ever-thoughtful Kiwanuka, "but now I'm feeling comfortable in practice, and the next step is transferring that to the game."

Parting Shots

• The otherwise nondescript wide receiver Michael Jennings certainly made it easy for fans and reporters to identify him when he's not in uniform: He has his uniform number, 15, ornately shaved into the side of his head. Makes it that much more likely that fans will go up to him and ask, "Hey, why'd you drop that perfect 40-yard bomb from Andre' Woodson on the practice field this morning?" or to compliment him on his team headshot, in which he's sporting a gleaming gold grill.

• I see where SI's fantasy guru, David Sabino, has Brandon "Big RB" Jacobs ranked 18th among running backs in the magazine's fantasy football preview. I'd normally never question Sabes' sagacity -- he's taken me to school in a number of fantasy dealings in the past -- but I must object here. Yes, the Giants have Ahmad Bradshaw and Derrick Ward ... but all indications are that Jacobs is going to be the workhorse, and will certainly get the ball at the goal line. I think he's no lower than a second-round pick -- and, if he manages to stay healthy, will be a top-10 performer.

• Last summer the team wore shirts emblazoned with the slogan, "TALK IS CHEAP -- PLAY THE GAME," in reference to the various contretemps that had distracted them over the previous months. I'm not sure if they had new shirts made up this year, but in any event, team PR guru Pat Hanlon took matters into his own hands. "AGAIN!!!," he wrote in Sharpie beneath the slogan on last year's model. Just another example of the stellar work done by Hanlon and his colleagues, Peter John-Baptiste and Avis Roper.

• I can't believe I've gotten this far into a Giants postcard without typing the names "Eli Manning" or "Jeremy Shockey." In Manning's case, it's a sign of how far he's come as he enters his fifth season: The feeling around Giants camp is that you now know what you're going to get from Eli, and it's going to be just fine, and that, for once, there are other things to worry about. As for Shockey, who seemed to have spent his time recovering from a broken left leg compiling a list of grievances and is now a New Orleans Saint? He seems to have been forgotten pretty quickly around these parts.

• One more sign of how chilled out Coughlin has gotten? In 85-degree heat the other day, the president of the University at Albany extended Coughlin's press conference by several minutes in order to present him with a gift from the school: A sculpture of a Great Dane (the University's mascot), about 4 inches in height. It was the work of a person whom the president assured Coughlin to be a "world famous animal sculptress." Coughlin couldn't have looked more delighted.

1.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Giants are going to be tough on defense. To clarify, Phillips at 210 Lbs, is not that big compared to a former skins safety. Very sad that we can't brush Phillips off as a wanna be. But, we longer have that safety.

That sad moment aside, the play of Eli will play a big part in wins and losses just like it did last year.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...the play of Eli will play a big part in wins and losses just like it did last year.

Giants fans seem to forget that though Eli was brilliant at times in that last drive, there was a pass Samuel dropped that would have ended the game.

But, he's got a SB win...can't take that away from him.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Giants are going to be tough on defense. To clarify, Phillips at 210 Lbs, is not that big compared to a former skins safety. Very sad that we can't brush Phillips off as a wanna be. But, we longer have that safety.

As the writer states, Philips is technically listed at 210 lbs, but as he later goes on to mention, and which has also been cited by various beat reporters, Philips appears to actually be much larger then this posted weight. Didn't mean to nit-pick. I don't know a single Giants fan who isn't positively creaming their pants to finally get a look at this guy on Thursday night. His physical style of play is very Taylor-esque, plus it appears he can also cover.

By the way, a message to the rest of the NFC East, do not sleep on Mathias Kiwanuka. There is just something about the Giants and their DE's going into their third season these last few years, which seems to light a fire under them. Even though Kiwi is more of a hybrid, he'll mostly see playing time at SAM, one of his biggest duties will still be to abuse QB's. Osi emerged into a Superstar his third year, Tuck probably our most consistently dominant lineman last season also emerged in year three. So I'm just saying... watch out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As the writer states, Philips is technically listed at 210 lbs, but as he later goes on to mention, and which has also been cited by various beat reporters, Philips appears to actually be much larger then this posted weight. Didn't mean to nit-pick. I don't know a single Giants fan who isn't positively creaming their pants to finally get a look at this guy on Thursday night. His physical style of play is very Taylor-esque, plus it appears he can also cover.

By the way, a message to the rest of the NFC East, do not sleep on Mathias Kiwanuka. There is just something about the Giants and their DE's going into their third season these last few years, which seems to light a fire under them. Even though Kiwi is more of a hybrid, he'll mostly see playing time at SAM, one of his biggest duties will still be to abuse QB's. Osi emerged into a Superstar his third year, Tuck probably our most consistently dominant lineman last season also emerged in year three. So I'm just saying... watch out.

Although I was (very)pleased with the Mike Jenkins pick, I wouldn't have minded at all if we picked Phillips...especially with Roy being on his last thread and Hamlin's future being in doubt(at the time, that is).

With that being said-I figured he would land with either Philly or the Giants...for the reason being he's potentially a Brian Dawkins-type player.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Giants fans seem to forget that though Eli was brilliant at times in that last drive, there was a pass Samuel dropped that would have ended the game.

But, he's got a SB win...can't take that away from him.

I don't think anyone forgets that, but "what ifs" go both ways. If Steve Smith doesn't bobble the ball into Ellis Hobbs on the Giants 2nd drive, its 1st and goal on the NE 10 yard line. Which would have changed the game completely.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Giants fans seem to forget that though Eli was brilliant at times in that last drive, there was a pass Samuel dropped that would have ended the game.

But, he's got a SB win...can't take that away from him.

People seem to forget that Samuel's drop wasn't exactly an easy catch. It's not like Eli threw it between the numbers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

People seem to forget that Samuel's drop wasn't exactly an easy catch. It's not like Eli threw it between the numbers.

As a matter of fact, it would have been a pretty amazing catch if he had hauled it in AND got both feet in bounds. Would have been the highlight of the entire game (since, by deduction, Tyree's grab never would have happened).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

People seem to forget that Samuel's drop wasn't exactly an easy catch. It's not like Eli threw it between the numbers.

Samuel also got whiffed by Tyree on that early 4th qtr TD pass in that game.

And he was also covering Tyree on that INT he supposedly dropped.

BTW-what the heck was he doing covering Tyree pretty much the whole game? It was mostly Hobbs who was covering Plax/Toomer 1-1.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There was a time when the outlook looked bright with Will Pete and Will Allen starting.

Obviously-they also have a new DC.

Pt being that it's no coincidence that ever since Steve Spagnuola took over, they've put a much bigger priority in the secondary(last year, Aaron Ross was their top pick, and they also got 2 gems in the 7th round). When Tim Lewis was there, they got Webster, but pretty much noone else.

It's alot like with your team-I don't know the mechanics of how the Eagles org operates, but it wouldn't surprise me if Jim Johnson has a big voice in choosing the Eagles defense personnel.:2cents:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Obviously-they also have a new DC.

Pt being that it's no coincidence that ever since Steve Spagnuola took over, they've put a much bigger priority in the secondary(last year, Aaron Ross was their top pick, and they also got 2 gems in the 7th round). When Tim Lewis was there, they got Webster, but pretty much noone else.

It's alot like with your team-I don't know the mechanics of how the Eagles org operates, but it wouldn't surprise me if Jim Johnson has a big voice in choosing the Eagles defense personnel.:2cents:

I'm not sure what you're saying.

The guy said this is first time he's ever felt good about the secondary. There was, without a doubt, a time when Giants fans felt very, very good about Will Allen and Will Peterson starting. Allen was a first round pick and had two very good seasons before falling apart. Peterson was a third round pick and outplayed Allen before his back fell apart.

What exactly are you trying to say?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There was a time when the outlook looked bright with Will Pete and Will Allen starting.

Yes, but that was a time when Giants' fans were desperate for any glimmer of hope coming out of the secondary, the expectations were always unreasonably high for those two, that's what happens when the starting CB's they are replacing are comprised of a broken down shell of his former self in Jason Sehorn and possibly the worst starting CB in Giants history Dave Thomas. The level of play improved so drastically that we assumed that it was just the tip of the iceberg.

We couldn't see the forest for the trees. They were mediocre players through and through, the signs were always there, most of us simply tried to rationalize it away, you could include Shaun Williams into that as well. This secondary is different, it is largely assembled with proven players, working in a system that suits them. Kenny Philips and Terrell Thomas aside, we have still have a solid foundation of guys back there, that despite injuries, despite improbable odds, were still able to succeed beyond all expectations.

Of course a ton of credit has to go to our tremendous pass rush, which remains the focus of our defense, but let's not forget these guys didn't break in Green Bay on a slick track when our pass rush was unable to get to Favre, they bent but didn't break in Dallas for three and a half quarters despite 3 of our 4 top corners sidelined due to injury, and our pass rush largely absent until the final minutes of that game.

There is a genuine feeling amongst fans and reporters that the Giants after way too many years may have finally put together a more than respectable secondary.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure what you're saying.

The guy said this is first time he's ever felt good about the secondary. There was, without a doubt, a time when Giants fans felt very, very good about Will Allen and Will Peterson starting. Allen was a first round pick and had two very good seasons before falling apart. Peterson was a third round pick and outplayed Allen before his back fell apart.

What exactly are you trying to say?

Sometimes the FO and HC get too much credit for picking talent.

Pt being that shouldn't their assistant coaches at least get some credit?

Like I said above-I don't know the complete mechanics of how football organizations are runned-but when Tim Lewis was the Giants DC, they didn't make secondary their priority in the draft.(Petersen maybe, but that's it) They would get a few decent players in the lower rounds, but that's it. But then Spagnuola comes along, and all of a sudden, they've drafted some gems in the last 2 years(Ross, Phillips, and even Johnson in the 7th round has turned out nicely).

Again-it's no coincidence that some of their draft strategies change when assistant coaches change.

Let's say Jim Johnson isn't the DC in Philly-nothing against Reid and Heckert, but in your opinion, wouldn't it be quite possible that you would see a different personnel on defense? The guy's a defensive mastermind, to his credit. But also give him some credit too for the personnel that's on the field.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You bring up some excellent points Saintsfan, you should really cut the first part of your screen name off by the way as you are way too classy to be a fan of such an organization, a lot of the Giants failures in the backfield can easily be traced back to terrible assistant coaching, and even worse draft philosophies. Is it any wonder then when we pry Steve Spagnuolo from the Jim Johnson coaching tree that tada, instant improvement is seen at every level? One part will always be talent, but it will always mean nothing without the scheme to compliment it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sometimes the FO and HC get too much credit for picking talent.

Pt being that shouldn't their assistant coaches at least get some credit?

Like I said above-I don't know the complete mechanics of how football organizations are runned-but when Tim Lewis was the Giants DC, they didn't make secondary their priority in the draft.(Petersen maybe, but that's it) They would get a few decent players in the lower rounds, but that's it. But then Spagnuola comes along, and all of a sudden, they've drafted some gems in the last 2 years(Ross, Phillips, and even Johnson in the 7th round has turned out nicely).

Again-it's no coincidence that some of their draft strategies change when assistant coaches change.

Let's say Jim Johnson isn't the DC in Philly-nothing against Reid and Heckert, but in your opinion, wouldn't it be quite possible that you would see a different personnel on defense? The guy's a defensive mastermind, to his credit. But also give him some credit too for the personnel that's on the field.

Nah, I disagree. Will Allen was a first rounder and Will Peterson was a third rounder, both in 2001. Big investments. Corey Webster was their top pick (albeit in the second round) in 2005, still prior to Spagnuolo joining the team.

The difference between now and then is that they are succeeding with the picks they've made. Too often people attribute a change in success to a change in process. If I draft a RB in the first round every year, and finally draft a stud in year five, that doesn't mean I didn't value RBs for the previous four years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, but that was a time when Giants' fans were desperate for any glimmer of hope coming out of the secondary, the expectations were always unreasonably high for those two, that's what happens when the starting CB's they are replacing are comprised of a broken down shell of his former self in Jason Sehorn and possibly the worst starting CB in Giants history Dave Thomas. The level of play improved so drastically that we assumed that it was just the tip of the iceberg.

We couldn't see the forest for the trees. They were mediocre players through and through, the signs were always there, most of us simply tried to rationalize it away, you could include Shaun Williams into that as well.

I've never understood why Giants' fans were so hard on Will Allen. Sure he couldn't catch an interception to save his life, but man could that guy cover. He's started virtually every single game of his career. Plus last year he played on a near Pro Bowl and was one of the top corners in the league in terms of yards per attempt. But some people would have you believe he's a mediocre player. Now William James/Peterson on the other hand...
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nah, I disagree. Will Allen was a first rounder and Will Peterson was a third rounder, both in 2001. Big investments. Corey Webster was their top pick (albeit in the second round) in 2005, still prior to Spagnuolo joining the team.

The difference between now and then is that they are succeeding with the picks they've made. Too often people attribute a change in success to a change in process. If I draft a RB in the first round every year, and finally draft a stud in year five, that doesn't mean I didn't value RBs for the previous four years.

Which goes to the crux of a lot of the Giants problems... terrible assistant coaches. Johnnie Lynn, a name synonymous in many circles with Ray Handley, is just one example of incompetence. Tim Lewis, another, had Sam Madison, a great player who had spent his entire career playing man to man coverage, press heavy, was now shackled into play zone coverage almost exclusively. As a result he was largely ineffective his first year with the Giants. Same Goes for guys like Webster and even Allen his final year for us.

We draft these guys knowing their strengths are in man coverage but don't give them the scheme to excel at the next level. You make a good point with your RB comparison. Who is to say those 4 RB's you drafted the previous years were all busts if you tried to pigeon hole them into doing something completely counter to what was a strength.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never understood why Giants' fans were so hard on Will Allen. Sure he couldn't catch an interception to save his life, but man could that guy cover. He's started virtually every single game of his career. Plus last year he played on a near Pro Bowl and was one of the top corners in the league in terms of yards per attempt. But some people would have you believe he's a mediocre player. Now William James/Peterson on the other hand...

Will Allen had all the physical tools to be a great CB, not a very good one, but a great one. He had the speed and the size, he was very good against the run, but his unforgivable sin was the lack of big plays. Which is not to say this was his only shortcoming. You simplify things by saying Will Allen just couldn't catch. He also couldn't make plays on the ball, and committed way too many costly penalties. I didn't follow him closely last year, but I'm not surprised to find out he had a pretty good year.

I think the New York spotlight was too much for him, Will Allen will always have a big what if on his career. What if he could actually turn around before the ball landed in that receivers breadbasket. What if he didn't soak his gloves in butter before each game. He could have been a contender.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...