Browsing Posts published in October, 2015

Bill Belichick is known for taking away the opposition’s best play maker. His flavor of the week was none other than Brandon Marshall. Belichick’s defense rolled coverage towards Marshall throughout the game, giving Eric Decker one-on-one opportunities on the perimeter. Decker made several big catches, highlighted by four big third down conversions.

Chris Ivory re-injured his balky hamstring on the game’s first play, but battled through the ailment throughout the game. Ivory was regularly spelled by Zac Stacy, but credit Ivory for a gritty, gutty effort. Ivory hit paydirt in the third quarter when he leaked out of the backfield and caught a swing pass for an easy 9-yard touchdown rumble. New England forgot to cover Ivory as he jogged in for an easy touchdown.

Head coach Todd Bowles has had a successful start in New York, but made some questionable clock management decisions late in the fourth quarter. Trailing by three points and armed with all three of his timeouts, Bowles gave Tom Brady and Co. at least 60 seconds of free time by not using his timeouts. Brady iced the game, hitting a wide open Rob Gronkowski for a 15-yard touchdown with just 1:13 to go. New York was able to make a last ditch effort by recovering an on-sides kick, but a false start by Marshall ended the game.

Nick Mangold suffered a scary neck injury late in the fourth quarter. Mangold was able to walk off under his own power, but left the stadium wearing a neck brace and will undergo X-Rays.

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It was a tale of two halves, but the New York Jets came away with their fourth win of the 2015 season. New York was stuck in post-bye week funk for the first half and trailed 13-10 at halftime. New York, however, received big performance from Darrelle Revis and Brandon Marshall during the third quarter and scored 17 unanswered points to pull away.

Chris Ivory turned in another big-time performance, gashing Washington’s once-vaunted run defense for 196 total yards. Ivory’s toughness and vision were on full display throughout the game as he had little trouble ripping off big runs and beating defenders to edge. Ivory was also featured as a receiver and had an impressive 24-yard catch and run. Chan Gailey made a conscious effort to attack the edges instead of running towards Washington’s beefy interior. Credit Ivory for once again rising to the occasion.

Special teams play continues to be a bugaboo. One of one Ryan Quigley’s punts was blocked in the end zone and was recovered by Washington for a touchdown. Nick Folk missed a 49-yard field goal, which is a rarity for him. These miscues haven’t cost New York yet, but the team will need play a perfect game next weekend against New England.

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The New York Giants (3-2) capped off an emotional week by defeating the San Francisco 49ers 30-27 on Sunday Night Football. Here are some closing thoughts on the game and my take on a Week 6 tilt against Philadelphia.

Offense

Eli Manning threw for over 400 yards and three touchdowns, but was lucky that two of his errant passes hit the turf instead of being intercepted by San Francisco defenders. Manning, who has made a career out of leading game winning drives, ‘dink and dunked’ his way down the field, steeping up Larry Donnell’s spectacular, game-winning touchdown grab. While it’s easy to credit (and somewhat blame) Manning for game outcomes, his offensive line, namely his tackles, did not play well. Rookie Ereck Flowers and sixth-year vet, Marshall Newhouse, allowed 16 pressures as San Francisco defenders routinely ran into the backfield. Credit outside linebacker, Aaron Lynch, who is one of the emerging playmakyers in the NFL. Lynch beat Newhouse throughout the game and hit Manning four times and applied eight pressures.

What’s Next?: New York heads down to I-95 to face Philadelphia next week on Monday Night Football. Flowers and Newhouse will likely have a tough time against Philadelphia’s talented pass rush, which is led by Fletcher Cox. Manning is taking a lot of hits, so Flowers and Newhouse will need to perform much better.

Defense

On the other side of the ball, many were expecting the defense to ‘tee off’ on Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick, however, was pretty solid since the Giants failed to generate a pass rush. Damontre Moore was able to register two sacks, including one key sack late in the fourth quarter, but was pretty quiet for the majority of the game. Credit offensive tackle, Joe Staley for keeping Moore at bay. Kerry Wynn was adequate, but this defense really misses Jason Pierre-Paul and Robert Ayers.

What’s Next?: Things will not get easier in Week 6 as Moore and Wynn will battle with an offensive line that is led by perennial All-Pros, Jason Peters and Jason Kelce. Putting pressure on Sam Bradford and creating turnovers will be the key to the game.

Quarter-Poll Thoughts: 

At the ‘Quarter-Poll’ of the 2015 season, the Giants feel like a ‘sneaky’ team in the sense that they aren’t getting much publicity. The Giants have had a fourth quarter lead in all of their games and could very well be 5-0. Instead, the Giants have a small one game lead in the NFC East. Personnel-wise, the Giants’ offensive skill positions are Top-5 in the NFL. The offensive line, sans Flowers and Newhouse, has performed well. On defense, the Giants desperately needs generate a consistent pass rush. A resurgent, aggressive pass rush would have helped the Giants seal victories against Dallas and Atlanta. It’s fairly clear that the top two teams in the NFL are the Patriots and Packers, but the Giants can rise up the ranks by correcting its issues on the edge.

Tonight will be a pivot moment in Matt Harvey’s career. Billed as New York’s ace, Harvey will take the ball at Citi Field in a pivotal Game 3. Harvey, who is no stranger to the spotlight, will have a chance to move New York one step closer to the National League Championship Series. Harvey loves the spotlight; his whole persona is built upon seizing the big moment. In some ways, tonight’s game is reminiscent of the New York Yankees’ run in the late 1990s. Granted, the Mets have not won a World Series title since 1986, but Game 3 has a ‘big game feel’ to it. Big games require big performances and fans are used to seeing New York athletes rise to the occasion. Andy Pettitte made a career of pitching in (and winning) big playoff games. Pettitte, who has arguably the best resume in playoff history (42 starts, 263 innings, 19 wins, five World Series rings), brought intensity and determination to the mound. Pettitte, however, found a way to harness that intensity as he methodically worked through opposing lineups. Harvey has elite ‘stuff’, but can he harness his emotions and deliver an elite performance? There’s a lot of bad blood between these two teams after Chase Utley’s controversial slide in Game 2. As a side note, Utley, who is appealing his suspension, is 6-for-18 with one home run against Harvey.

The Mets, alike the late 1990s Yankees, are the only show in town. Football is on the back burner and the Mets are front and center in the minds and hearts of New York sports fans. The onus is on Matt Harvey to deliver an elite performance. Given his make-up, mentality, and propensity for the spotlight, expect Matt Harvey to deliver a big performance tonight.

New York’s rushing attack pummeled Miami’s lack luster run defense, gashing Ndamakong Suh and Co. for 207 yards. Chris Ivory, who missed last week’s tilt against Philadelphia, returned with a vengeance and gashed Miami for a career-high 166 yards and one touchdown. Miami’s run defense attempted to arm tackle Ivory, which proved to be futile. Ivory regularly ran through arm tackles and turned minimal 1-2 yards gain into chain-moving, first down runs. Miami’s run defense seemed uninterested in tackling Ivory as the game wore on—and rightfully so. Ivory sets the tone on offense and his hard-nosed running style perfectly complements New York’s mentality under Todd Bowles.

Last week, we told readers to keep an eye on Willie Colon’s status since Brian Winters did not play well in relief against Philadelphia. Winters proved his doubters wrong and held his own against Suh. Suh did not record his first tackle until the third quarter and looked downright frustrated during the first half. Credit Winters for a superb effort and hope that Colon can heal during New York’s bye week.

Brandon Marshall continued to feast on smaller corners. Brent Grimes left the game after suffering a first quarter injury, but was badly burnt by Marshall on two plays early in the first quarter. On New York’s first play from scrimmage, Marshall burnt Grimes deep down the sideline for a 57-yard gain. Credit Ryan Fitzpatrick for throwing a superb deep ball, but Marshall won at the point of attack and asserted his will throughout the game. Marshall did drop one end zone target, but Marshall’s toughest, ability to separate, and leadership is a boon for this offense.

It may be an unpopular opinion, but New York should consider a quarterback change during its bye week. Fitzpatrick took what Miami’s defense gave him, but he missed a lot of easy throws, especially to rookie, Devin Smith. Fitzpatrick is able to guide and manage the offense, but made some mistakes that allowed Miami to hang around in the game that should have been an easy blowout win.

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