Hergame has moved… and grown! Come check it out, cause Man, It’s Hergame 2 at www.mihg2.com :-)
Hergame has moved… and grown! Come check it out, cause Man, It’s Hergame 2 at www.mihg2.com :-)
A good friend of mine asked me to participate with a group in a month of posting photographic images about various things each day. Today the topic was, ‘Words’. So in thinking about what words I might photograph, I quickly turned to a favorite book. And while this was really for sharing in a Facebook group, I felt like it was worth sharing here too:
"The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from old ones."
~ John Maynard Keynes
Words. The words in the quote from John Maynard Keynes are a theme that follows all of the results we create in our lives. We create based on our beliefs and our respective actions. But what if those results are not what we want? Do we keep doing the same thing and expect things to change? Do we point the finger at others and say, ‘If they change, therefore so too will my results’?
Or do we deeply look within to find ways we can shift our own approach – even if we are set in our ways and cannot fathom trying something new? Maybe we don’t even know how?
This is a mantra I carry through my life, and one of the reasons I look to New York Giants Coach Tom Coughlin with such respect and admiration. Because going into the 2007 season he decided it was HE who had to change himself, before he could expect his team to change. And the won SuperBowl XLVII at the end of that year.
I came across this quote in one of my favorite books, A Team to Believe In, by Tom Coughlin with Brian Curtis. It tells the story of that amazing transformational year. The lessons can be taken anywhere in life – business, personal relationships, anywhere.
If you’re interested in reading this great book, here’s a link to it on Amazon.
As a life-long Giants fan, it’s very difficult to think there could possibly be a silver lining to yesterday’s game against the Chargers. But ironically, as I sit here today at my desk, tired and cold in freezing Northern CALIFORNIA after a late flight home from San Diego; and with friends aiming to console me on the loss and end of my team’s season, I find myself oddly at ease. There was something quite wonderful about yesterday’s game – regardless of the fact we played poorly and we came out with a loss when we had to have that W to even think about the word, ‘playoffs’.
It really began in the hotel on Saturday afternoon. Staying in the same hotel as the team, it was so refreshing to see so many New York Giants fans trickling into the lobby bar area as the afternoon progressed – all of us waiting for our team to arrive. So many fans of all ages, men and women, children, different ethnicities… all having taken the time, paid the fees, and having driven or flown in from so many different places to be there with our team. So many people dressed in Giants garb, with helmets and balls in hand, anxiously waiting to welcome the team. So many more than I had anticipated, being roughly 2500 miles from East Rutherford, New Jersey. It was really quite something.
And while I was certainly participating when the team arrived, I also felt like an observer, as I watched a number of the Giants players and staff interacting with fans and visiting family members – Steve Weatherford, Louis Murphy, DaMontre Moore, Will Hill, Mike Patterson, Antrel Rolle, Spencer Paysinger, Josh Brown, Terrell Thomas and others. John Carney was even there supporting the team he played for toward the end of his career. I’ve seen T2 post many pictures of his little girl, and when I noticed her bright-eyed, smiling face in the lobby – it was so clear how much she loves her Daddy. It was really quite a warm feeling.
But even more wonderful to take in… I mean really, this was just amazing to me… was the stadium the next day. We arrived at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, and very quickly we started to notice, there were MORE people in Giants Blue, than there were of the home team. Thousands! Everywhere I looked there was a sea of blue 10s and 80s and 88s and 91s and 92s and 56-jerseys abound! OJ Anderson and Phil McConkey were even there to support!
And inside the stadium – it was a BIG BLUE family, a unified crew of people from far and wide, and again, from so many different backgrounds, dressed in Giants ponchos and watches and jerseys and t-shirts and hats and gloves (because it is COLD in California this week) and shoes… And despite the loss, we were all still wearing them when so many of us ‘accidentally’ congregated in the airport last night to catch planes home.
ALL of these people had come from so many different places to see and support their team. And what’s so cool outside of the sheer numbers? Every one of these people shared a common ground – a love and passion for their team that is down to their core, and that will live with them forever. There is something all too special about that – something quite rewarding – despite the loss. A team of guys, a group of coaches, and an organization with an amazing history rich in tradition created the foundation of this huge family of people in blue.
There is something quite outstanding about that sense of oneness. Of unity. It makes all of our differences seem so small – and that which brings us together, so much more important. It seems so appropriate for this time of the year.
And as we begin to look toward the off-season, and the change that will inevitably come, it is my hope that we can all continue to reflect on this great foundation, and use it as leverage to create a better tomorrow – whether it be in the game of football, for the team we love, or for all of humanity.
I hope you are all enjoying your holiday season.
As always: ALL IN
GO GIANTS! (Go upset those Hawks…)
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Now I am hardly saying, ‘Lets just call it a day (or a season)’ – when you’re a New York Football Giant you have got to find a way to finish strong regardless of the circumstances. You never know what may happen.
“Always proud of the Gmen although we came up short. A Giant never quits. All ABOARD!!” ~Antrel Rolle via Twitter post game
But here are a few observations I have following yesterday’s unfortunate ending in the 2nd divisional loss this 2013 season against our most hated foes, the Dallas Cowboys. I’ll keep this one short because frankly, I am still digesting this today:
It’s kind of amusing, ironic that we are finishing out the Giants’ 2013 season with confidence in the running game, and not so much in the passing game. As I wrote many times, my biggest concern coming into the season was that the Giants were lacking a strong running game. I had questions about so many units, but never the wide receivers. We are now in a completely opposite position. I KNOW Andre Brown is going to do something for me (What can Brown do for you?)! And Brandon Jacobs too. What I do NOT KNOW right now is if Victor Cruz is going to drop the ball. I do NOT KNOW if another WR is going to run the wrong route. And I certainly do NOT know if Hakeem Nicks is mentally wearing blue anymore, if he is hurt, if he is going to play – or who may be influencing that. There. I said it.
I don’t want to add to this drama with Hakeem, but who can help but to overanalyze it at this point? It’s bothering me. And I have been a HUGE fan of 88 since we drafted him and I first saw him on the practice field. But I just said what I think – that’s what I see on his face. And when his comment to the media after the game is, "I don’t really have nothing to say to ya’ll right now", I just have to question if there is more to him being inactive on Sunday than just an abdominal strain? There is no way Tom Coughlin keeps a star player out of a critical game just because he didn’t get a lot of practice time in this week. I don’t buy it. And another thing I have continued to notice over time – but haven’t said out loud: I never see Nicks and Cruz sitting together, nor do I see them rooting each other on anymore. What is that all about? Let me be clear: we missed Hakeem in the game yesterday. In my eyes, I would love for Hakeem to be a Giant for his entire playing career. BUT, TEAM MUST COME FIRST. Everyone on the team has to play for one another’s success, in order for the team to truly be successful. The agent influence is coming up too frequently for my taste. Remember the mystery holdout from OTAs with no real explanation in the Spring? I have said this before: focus on being the best player, the best man, and the best teammate you can be, and the money and success will come one way or another. If you can’t find a way do that, unfortunately, that type of mental approach is for another team. We will see.
By the way, kudos to TE Brandon Myers for that heads up play for a touchdown after NOT getting touched by the defender!
Stepping aside from yesterday’s game, oddly, for the first time ever that I can remember as a Giants fan, the Secondary deserves kudos for being the Defensive (and probably the entire team’s) backbone for the first time ever (I am pretty sure – I’ll have to confirm this with Paul Dottino, who knows more about Giants history than anyone I know). Between Antrel Rolle and Terrell Thomas leading the charge, Prince Amukamara, Will Hill, Ryan Mundy and Trumaine McBride – these guys ALWAYS come to play lights out. Corey Webster has been injured and taken a lot of flack of late. But he is a Giant til the end, and has given 9 great years to this organization, and so his veteran mentorship has also played an important part. Yes, there were a few key mistakes made in yesterday’s game by the Secondary – and Antrel was definitely challenged in the Cornerback position when McBride went out. But frankly, I would rather these guys play as committed and fired up as they have been, and make a mistake once in a while, than come in with a losing attitude. A winning attitude will always find ways to learn from mistakes.
Do not ever tell Brandon Jacobs he is over the hill (like one Cowboys fan did pre-game yesterday – who was quickly told in eloquent words only BJ could conjure up, where he could shove it). He has clearly shown that he is not. For someone who came back to the team after the season had already begun, and who, as I mentioned last week, was practically written off by most – I am so proud that he has 238 yards for 58 carries at 4.1 yards average per carry, and 4 touchdowns. Love it!
Congrats to Steve Weatherford, who kicked two 65+ yard punts yesterday, and whose abs of steel were greeted in today’s locker room with this lovely note, as Tweeted by #9 this morning. Clearly, as the note reads, this drug test was purely random.
Why didn’t we see more of JPP yesterday? Was he not supposed to bring the blood? I have to be honest. I am confused. And why did he only get 27 snaps in which to bring it? And why did Damontre Moore get none? Special Teams penalties? And by the way, Justin Tuck played pretty good – he’s not washed up either.
Play calling: Is there a reason why the Giants don’t blitz more often when it is terribly clear that putting pressure on Romo is the key to his downfall? Is there a reason why, when the Giants are successful running the ball (finally), that they don’t do more of THAT? I am NOT on the fire Gilbride or Fewell bandwagon. But I would sure like to understand why we end up with some of the play calling we do, instead of doing what clearly should bring a more successful outcome.
That’s all I’ve got for today – just a few things I’m thinking about. As I said – I’m still digesting this. One last thing I will add. Apparently several players spoke in the locker room media time today. Many of the right things were said – but from what I hear, this was a bunch of guys who were missing the passion of 48 hours ago. I can only hope this is the temporary effect of such loss for such a hyped up game, such a critical game.
Because in the end, whether the cards fall miraculously the way we want them to or not, I would hope that as a fan, and as a player, we would all would all prefer our team to be remembered for 9-7, than to give up, and be remembered in 2013 for 4-12.
Coach Coughlin put it perfectly like this (taken in excerpt from Michael Eisen’s piece on Giants.com):
“It’s not going to be over until the five games are over,” Coughlin said. “The one thing that all of you (reporters) would like to try to figure into this is you don’t have anything to play for. We’ve got a lot to play for. We have a five-game schedule. We’re playing against some outstanding football teams. We’re trying to assert ourselves. We’re not executing as well as we can and in all three phases at the same time, for sure. I’m looking for that. I’m always searching for perfection, the perfect game. We can’t get it, perhaps, because we’re human, but that’s the objective and that’s the goal and that’s what we’ll continue to fight for. It is the competitive nature of the player, of the coach and that’s where we are.”
ALL IN! (Except for maybe Hakeem – and that really bothers me…)
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Okay, okay – I’m getting excited! Sort of. But I can’t. But I want to. But I can’t. You see, I need a few lessons from Eli. Easy E. Mr. Even Keel. It’s a great trait to have, and I’ve never seen anyone quite like him. He’s the champion of staying cool under pressure.
You see, after 4 wins in a row, and with all this talk about the Giants on their way up, and with the way the Defense is playing, and the fact that we have cobbled together a running game that, despite so many doubters, seems to be working… how can I NOT get excited???? But I can’t. Here’s why.
What’s also happened after these 4 games is my superstitions – those things I am religious about, but that had been eluding me for 6 games no matter how many adjustments I made – seem finally to be back in gear. They are working again! And I won’t take them lightly! And the thing is, while I can tell you about some of these new superstitions of 2013 (like the fact that I will definitely be wearing #26 away jersey on my back for the rest of the games, and I have finally figured out the magic pre-game Facebook comments that must be made), I can’t tell you about all of them. Why? Because I am too superstitious! And it’s a superstition that if I get too boisterous about my team, a player or even a superstition, I could mess up the whole darn thing! So, I need to keep my cool. Like Eli.
But I will comment on a few things I’m excited to see:
From the start of camp, I have to be honest (well, I wrote about this a lot so it may not be a big surprise), I was never thrilled with what we were bringing into the season for a running game. While Andre Brown had a really good season last year before getting injured, and David Wilson is a 1st round pick (yet unproven to date in the running game), I just always felt we needed veteran leadership out there with them in order to provide guidance, and to assume security in the running game. To me, Dre was our best bet going into the season, but then he broke his leg before we even began. Again. And I won’t rehash the whole running back carousel again, or the fact that Wilson is now on IR and questionable about his playing future, but, I am thrilled for what’s become of the running game in the second half.
I think it was sometime in early September that I called into Moving the Chains on SiriusXM NFL Radio, and I chatted with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan about the suggestion of bringing BJ back. I think my comments on air were about his burning desire to play again with the Giants, bringing out his passion and his Veteran leadership, and that alone could deliver that extra PUSH to help him power that ball through. Yep. Ali was onto something. So far in 2013, not only has Brandon Jacobs delivered 49 rushes for 163 yards rushing, and 4 touchdowns, but, he has absolutely delivered his unique style of passion and energy, as well as veteran leadership to the team. And after watching him miserable here in San Francisco last year, I am thrilled for him. I think I’m gonna call those guys today.
Meanwhile, props and then some to Andre Brown for coming back so strong and determined, and bringing every little ounce of power to his first 2 games back. Props to the leadership for bringing in Peyton Hillisand FB John Connor, who have both become great contributions to creating holes and helping balance out the game on the Offense. I knew there was something about John in that last episode of Hard Knocks. I knew he’d be back.
Of course, I’m excited to see what has happened with this Defense over the last 5 weeks. And of course I’m thrilled that we took a risk and finally seem to have found that Antonio Pierce-style of leadership at Middle Linebacker in Jon Beason. How refreshing the energy and confidence this guy has delivered in such a short period of time. And clearly he has helped transform the team. I read an article this morning that indicated that all of the players on Defense have completely fallen ALL IN for Jon Beason. And how obvious. Between Antrel Rolle’s ongoing commitment to making the team successful, and the entry of Beason, this Defense is on fire. Every player has gotten better because they are so cohesive as a unit now. They are clearly holding each other up to their highest potential, never losing faith in one another and what each man can bring to the whole. And as I said before, there are some things I am just too superstitious to get TOO fired up about. One game at a time guys. If this Defense can continue to keep this level of focus, of confidence, of belief in one another, yes – the Giants WILL beat the Cowboys. And then they can focus on the next game (but I am definitely NOT going to talk about that next game right now).
And really, I hate to admit it out loud, but there is one thing I am not so excited about. And I really hope to see it change for the better. We need it to change in order to keep this success going. As a fan, I notice we get so connected to our favorite players. One of mine is clearly frustrated – and I just hate to see it. And that’s #88, Hakeem Nicks. In a contract season, I hated to see the frustration on his face last weekend, and taking himself out of the game only for that to backfire with a missed route by his sub Louis Murphy (who is an absolutely amazing person by the way), resulting in an interception by the Packers. Obviously, Hakeem can do this. But he’s human, and he’s clearly in a funk.
But here’s where we get excited again…
If there is ONE coach, and ONE team that can help 88 shake off the funk and frustration, and perhaps slipping of confidence in himself this season, it’s Coach Coughlin and the NY Football Giants organization. As in a family, if a child is having a hard time with something, the most positive first step is for a parent is to sit down, listen, and then coach the child in a way that is empowering to that child. On a sales team in the business world, when a star sales person has a bad quarter or 2, confidence often falters (that’s the personality of a sales person). But the second that one big sale comes in, the confidence magically comes back! Coach Coughlin understands human nature, and makes every effort to keep family business inside the family, and this protects the players in the media motivated world we living in today:
When asked about Hakeem, Coughlin said, "That’s not something I’m going to discuss… we’ll make the corrections and we’ll do a better job of trying to get everybody on the same page and we’ll move forward."
"I’m sure that there is (frustration), and we all share in that,” Coughlin said. "We’ll just continue to try to support and encourage him to be the best that he can be and it will happen. There have been opportunities, but we’ve just got to continue to try to get better, work together and it will happen."
What I love about this team, and every Tom Coughlin-coached team since the 2007 season (when he turn himself around to help turn the team around), and it is absolutely starting to seep through the pores of the entire organization right now in 2013, is that every action, every move, is made with this in mind: TEAM FIRST, TEAM LAST, TEAM ALWAYS. ALL IN. We hadn’t quite gotten there early in the season. But we are well on our way now.
But I won’t get too excited. I might screw the whole thing up.
Proud to say it now: ALL IN! Go get those Cowboys!!!
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In my last blog, I mentioned that I had planned to give a 1st Half ‘Ali Award’ to the favorite player of the VERY Loyal and VERY Dedicated NY Giants Fan Club of the United Kingdom. Yes – there is one, and they’re worth knowing about. And when I went to ask this group their opinions on their current favorite Giants player and why, I received so many responses, and not only typical (one word) responses – they were mostly quite thoughtful ones (they actually listened to the question and answered WHY) – so I decided this group needed a blog all to itself, and it needed to be recognized (although, not ‘recognised’ at they might write it in the UK).
I bet many American football fans have very little idea what is really happening over in the UK when it comes to America’s Game. Sometime in the last year, I think it was my friend Duncan Holden, a diehard NY Giants fan from Blackburn, England, who invited me over to the NY Giants Fan Group UK on Facebook. I belong to a lot of fan groups and I like to really keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the minds of Giants fans, and NFL fans in general, but I can honestly say – I am truly honored to be a member of this group. It has quickly climbed to the top of my most frequented fan groups on Facebook, and here’s why…
I went in without expecting, but these guys know their stuff! They care to know the history. They care to know the way the game is played. They have get-togethers in London from time to time where the pub becomes ‘MetLife East’. They are thoughtful in their analysis of what’s happening with the team or players, and they take it seriously. They wear their fan gear. And perhaps most importantly, they figure out where to get their feed and they stay up until the WEE hours to watch games! Think about it – a Thursday, Sunday or Monday night game has these guys starting at 1:30am London time! THAT is dedication. And they ALL do it, and they go to work a couple hours later!
And I will add… they all seem to get along quite BRILLIANTLY (and I am attempting to say that in a perfect British accent).
Keith Burton, a graphic designer and website developer from Basingstoke, England, started the UK New York Giants Fan Group back in 2009. Most of the membersare British born-and-bred. Some are also US servicemen and women serving in Europe. Others are US citizens resident in the UK looking for a fellow sports fans. The group has grown to about 300 members, and they have a Twitter following of almost 800. They have even gathered together for organized Flag Football outings from time to time!
So the other day I asked this question of the group: Who is your favorite current Giants player, and why?
As I mentioned, I received a lot of responses, and as you might suspect, there was quite a bit of diversity amongst the answers. Eli Manning, Victor Cruz and Antrel Rolle received the highest number of votes – so they get the honorary:
‘Blimey! You Are Brilliant! You Are the Bee’s Knees’ Ali Award - Congratulations to 10, 80 and 26!
But lets not leave out the rest, because there were a lot of votes! Brandon Jacobs, Terrell Thomas, Steve Weatherford, JPP, and Dave Diehl were next in votes; and Hakeem Nicks, Jon Beason, Rueben Randle, Linval Joseph, Peyton Hillis and Kiwi also got votes!
And here are just some of the reasons why:
“For his presence of mind and coolness under fire.”
“I love that his image is dweeb-like, but his presence of mind and coolness under fire is the opposite of that. Sure, he’s inconsistent. Certainly, he’ll always be in the shadow of his big bro. But, one day people will look back and realize how under rated he’s been. And he’s big blue to his core. A true Giant.”
“He is a good leader and… is not egotistical and will accept responsibility when he plays bad.”
“Huge affinity for Eli for his even keel cool under pressure leadership”
“Eli… He pulls us through. In tight spots it is in Eli we trust. And we have two Lombardis as reward. He is the embodiment of a Giant… Take a beating… Get up… Take a beating… Get up and score. You don’t get points for sacks. You get points for finding hands.”
“He has shown great leadership when it was needed”
“He’s got a great attitude - and that’s been consistent over the last few years, in good times and bad.”
“His passion, growth, leadership, teamwork, spirit, ‘make it happen’ approach” (ok, I admit that one was was me)
“A one-man moral boosting cheerleader all season. He’s made play after play and is the only player on the team brought in from outside and voted a captain. That tells you want his team think of him. He started out critical of TC’s coaching methods yet has become his most vocal supporter. Plus, he’s also a rather natty dresser.”
On Terrell Thomas:
“Coming back from so many injuries, I really didn’t think he would be as good as he has been.”
“It’s amazing the story in regards to his battle against adversity and all the injuries he has had, yet he’s come back stronger than ever where I think 98% of people out there would’ve given up long ago”
On Brandon Jacobs:
“Everybody knows Brandon Jacobs is a big reason why I became a Giants at the end of the 2009”
“His passion and love for the giants is second to none, (and) he always forms an amazing bond with the other RB’s which really shows he is selfless when it comes to the Giants… classic pound the ball Giants football.”
“I love the fact that when at his best, while he does have the ability to get round defenders, he’d rather go through/over them. The guy loves the Giants, didn’t want to leave, and turned down other try outs to hold out for a return home.”
On Victor Cruz:
“His story is inspirational and proves hard work and dedicating yourself pays off plus he a humble guy off the field yet a baller on it.”
“He does it all as a wide out. Outside, in the slot, YAC yards, most TD’s between a QB and a WR of over 80yds, has playing speed and makes defenders miss on tackles and lets not forget THAT JETS TD for 99yds.”
“Pretty much my favorite player in the whole NFL is Victor Cruz.”
On Dave Diehl:
“Diehl for the way he has stayed the course through thick and thin and his detractors have been many!”
“Diehl has been a revelation. I thought he was done, but he’s come back onto that line (albeit at guard) and has marshaled those players like an old school sergeant major. Fair play to him; that’s a real Giants player right there.”
“in the twilight of his (playing) career he has brought a bit of stability to the line and is a massive help making the centre calls for cover centre Jim Cordle who also deserves a shout stepping into the hardest job on the o-line.”
On Steve Weatherford:
“What an immense role model for all players. Professional to the core and a huge presence in the community. Someone that above all other players I would have representing my organization any day of the week.”
“He is truly inspirational and does so much work for charity and in my mind is the best punter in the league. He’s well worth a follow on Twitter too.”
There were so many great, thoughtful comments from the UK NY Giants Fan Group. I couldn’t possibly share them all – but I will fess up that I changed the British spelling in some cases. LOL.
(Here’s dedication - this is Khasif at the Jaguars vs Niners game at Wembley 2 weeks ago!)
With all of the discussion around more games being played at Wembley Stadium in London, and the possibilities of bringing a franchise to the UK, I do hope that fan groups such as the New York Giants Fan Group UK will continue to help spread the love for America’s Game; and I also hope that someday this group will have an opportunity to be recognized in some way by the New York Giants organization. They are as dedicated to the team and the game as anyone I’ve known on this side of the Atlantic.
Many thanks to the following members of the New York Giants Fans UK Group for contributing to this article:
Ian Case, Alex Agius, Paul Wakeford, Duncan Holden, Keith Burton, Andrew Hamilton, Dod Cooper, Martin Sanford, John Eleazu, Tom ‘Shoryu Reppa’ Lewis, Tony Little, Mark Lawrence, John Parsons, Alfie Brennan, Lord David Rees, Khasif Patel, Phil Bailey, Scott Williams, Harry Jennings, Tim Wood, Ben Minett, Adam Osmond, Nathan Hope, Steve Gibson, Phil Kirkpatrick, Frances Wright, John Shockley, Martin Barr, Kevin McManus, Warwick Bowen, Dan Stewart, Stuart Munro and James Krakowski
And until we next weekend (10am PST, 1pm EST and 6pm in Londontown) when we head onto the field to beat the Rrrrrrrrrrraiders, cheerio!
Also follow me on Twitter @aliconig
You can follow the New York Giants Fans UK on Twitter @NYGiantsFansUK
Many people who know me understand that I rarely judge a book by its cover, and I always take look at a number of angles when it comes to analyzing a situation, a team, or a player. In fact, I was corresponding with one of my friends from the (esteemed) Sirius NFL Radio Heads group last week, who – like many – looks at stats and numbers to make his weekly picks. While I absolutely think that hard data and analytics are very important, I don’t believe it’s the only information needed to make a pick. Intangibles, such as strength of character, tenacity, risk-taking, leadership, teamwork, are all critical skills for any winning proposition.
So today, I’d like to acknowledge a few New York Giants for what I have seen from them in the 1st half of the season. In the next few weeks, I’ll also take a look at a few other teams.
Comeback Player of 1st 8: Do I even need to say it? T2, Terrell Thomas, put all doubters in their place, and has made everyone pay attention – this morning he even won recognition as NFC Defensive Player of the Week. His resilience, tenacity and steadfast commitment that he would make it back after being out 2 years and 2 ACL surgeries, is nothing short of miraculous and inspiring. I remember T2 before his 1st NFL ACL injury. He was prime for a standout season, and as a leader on the Giants Defense. To see him come back and look AS STRONG as he does then is an amazing testament to his dedication and work ethic. I couldn’t be prouder as a Giants fan. His adorable little girl (who he proudly and often shows of on his social feeds) has a daddy to be very proud of.
The ‘Come Hell or High Water We Are Going to Make BIG Things Happen!’ Award: This goes to the guy on the team who has become the outspoken leader of the defense, and passion leader of the team: Antrel Rolle. How many times have I mentioned I LOVE this guy? And now I am wearing a 26 on Sundays – because I started wearing it the week we started winning! This guy is so committed to his team, his coaches, making things happen that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. He puts it all out there to rally the team and he tells it like it is. He’s a risk taker on the field and off in effort to benefit the team, and there is no question in my mind why he was nominated as a captain this year. Frankly, he reminds me of me when I have been at my best – and so he inspires me daily. (AND – he’s from The U – and so he’s in my alumni club).
Best Special Teams Play (too bad it was in the Pre-Season): DaMontre Moore for his MONSTROUS blocked punt on the 13-yard line during the pre-season game against the Steelers. The ball was recovered by Giants WR Louis Murphy and returned to the 5, setting up a 23-yard field goal by Josh Brown. The image of this play will go down in history and I can’t wait for MOORE from this guy.
The ‘Guy Who Says He Wants to Inspire Lives, and Doesn’t Realize He is Already Doing It’ Award: Steve Weatherford – I wonder if he realizes that he touches the lives of so many people every single day? I could probably write a dissertation on my observations of #9 over the last year or so. He is one of the most rigorous people I have ever seen (and I know a LOT go-go-go people) – and I can only imagine this, because I’m obviously watching this from afar. Outside of his practice schedule, it seems he is constantly involved in community service and promotional activities, fitness shoots, obscene workouts, and more. Can I just say something? If there’s a guy who has cracked the code on understanding how to inspire people and share the positive through social media, it’s Steve. Whether it’s empowering quotes from Coach Coughlin, photos of his teammates, pics with happy children, visit Ghana to build a school, or sharing his journey through real food, fitness or helping out after Sandy… this guy makes a difference everywhere he goes. Bonus Award goes to Steve’s wife and children for supporting him.
The ‘I Made Like Michael Strahan and Lost a Bunch of Baby Fat, and Now I look Like The King of the World’ Award: Have you seen Dave Diehl this year??? He came back to training camp clearly having worked his butt off in the offseason - literally. He reminds me of the time when Mike Strahan came back one year and he had transformed from a chubby guy to a lean mean fighting machine! And while I’m at it – Dave’s taken a lot of criticism over this last year. He also gets my Lifer in Blue Award for his undying loyalty and commitment to the success of the New York Football Giants.
Runner Up: Justin Tuck, who clearly also spent a lot of time focusing on getting fit for the season, and while (also) often criticized, to me, despite the big sack number – seems to be showing his athleticism more this year, and I have a feeling it’ll get even better.
(image courtesy of The NY Post)
The ‘I Need a Little Chill Pill to Calm Myself Down Because Once I Get Started It’s Very Hard To Slow Me Down’ Award: Will Hill – Because in only 4 games, #25 seems to be there making something happen every time I look up, and because in FOUR games, he has 25 tackles and 1 interception. I don’t know, but maybe it’s a sign that legalizing…
The ‘I Pretty Much Never F-Up, But In Week 8 I Did, and I’m Fairly Certain I Never Will Again’ Award: Zak DeOssie. One thing you can always bet on is that Zak will almost always be in the middle of a Special Teams play. Almost anytime I look up, #51 is in on the tackle, or very close to it. This Brown-educated team captain made a few very atypical mistakes in Week 8 against the Eagles, including the snap to China over Steve Weatherford’s head, that allowed for their one score of the game. I have the utmost confidence he won’t allow that to happen again.
The, ‘I Know the Business Season Was a Pain, But Frankly, I Am Delivering What I Said I Would’ Award: Victor Cruz – because as much as the business season and media was ready to drive me absolutely up a tree, and I certainly spoke out about my concerns around missing OTAs, this man has proven me wrong. His dedication to the New York Giants, his growth as a player, and his ability to bring the big plays is something we as fans can count on. I am looking forward to hearing some more Tito Puente in my life in the second half.
The Media Overkill award: Hakeem Nicks – Come on, seriously? Chill already. Can you (yea, you are anyone in the NFL media) please just leave him alone and let him play? Hakeem’s a #1 WR, and over the last few weeks, I really started to get annoyed by the number of articles predicting his trade. And just so you know? It was so annoying I stopped clicking on the articles. There was NO WAY that was happening.
The, ‘Don’t Tell Me I Can’t Play Anymore – I Just Need To Be Wearing Blue’ Award: Brandon Jacobs – Being a lifer Giants fan who now lives in the SF Bay Area, and having watched what went on with BJ last year, I was more than THRILLED to see the Passionate Blue One have a 106 yard, 2-touchdown game in Week 6. He is True Blue for life.
(image courtesy of The NY Daily News)
The ‘I Will Leave No Stone Unturned Until I Figure This Out’ Award: Eli Manning – I mean I think it’s safe to assume that most Giants fans who watch him closely, share an incredible respect for #10. Eli sets an amazing example by never losing his cool under pressure. He’s always been the perfect personality for the scrutinizing New York media, because it always seems Eli lets things roll off his shoulders, and forges ahead (a lesson we can all use in life) – regardless of a bad play, a bad game, or a bad 6 games to start a season. Well in the first half of this season it almost appeared as though the losses were getting to him. You could practically see in his face that Eli was struggling to find an answer to the chaos – often while being trounced to the ground by the opposing defenses. It pains me to say that by game 6, it almost seemed as though some of his confidence had seeped as the turnovers accumulated. But in the last 2 weeks it seems he may have begun to regain his swagger. There have been no turnovers, and there was this one play in the game against the Eagles – I wish I could remember the details enough to name the play – in which Eli was hustling like no tomorrow to make sure everyone on the Offense was where they were supposed to be before the snap. It cracked me up. It was a, ‘If it’s to be, it’s up to me’ moment. Here’s the thing. He hasn’t had a great first half, but as a Giants fan, there isn’t ever a question that Eli Manning is going to do whatever is humanly possible to help his team get a W. I for one, and I know I speak for many, am so proud that we got this guy as OUR quarterback, and I wouldn’t want anyone else. Over the years getting to know Eli, I have started to want the win for Eli (and Coach) almost more than I want it for myself!
The Favorite Current Giants Player of the VERY Loyal, VERY Dedicated United Kingdom Giants Fan Club (300 members): I was going to include this here, but I received SUCH GREAT INPUT from this amazingly dedicated and thoughtful fan group in Great Britain, that I am going to save my comments for a blog focused on them alone.
Until then, Cheers!
also follow me on Twitter @aliconig
I decided to sit back the last couple of weeks – for one because I had a minor hospital stay and while writing blogs on prescription drugs could certainly be interesting (and I did consider it), I decided to pass – but also because there have been a number of interesting happenings over the last couple of weeks, and I wanted to make sure my opinions were sound.
That brings me to the topic of the media. This last couple of weeks have been brutal, painful to watch, and a sign of the times. It’s honestly driving me a little nuts watching the daily Hakeem Nicks stories or the ‘trade Adrian Peterson to the Giants for Tuck, Webster and Nicks’ projections from what used to be the most respected in sports news media. And with the proliferation of social media – what can they do? The respected names in media and others have to do anything they can to create buzz, create interest, and most of all, create CLICKS! Because clicks (or eyeballs on stories) create ad revenue! Ahaa!!!!
It makes me somewhat sad. Think about it. Back in the day, before we had SmartPhones in the locker room and on the sidelines, and Instagram off hours, news was… news. But now everyone and their brother are creating buzz, and the readers’ eyeballs are not merely looking at the New York Times, or The Star Ledger, or The Daily News, or The New York Post. Everyone is a reporter and everyone’s opinion becomes news to whoever will hear it! So, the paid reporters of the world, with their story quotas and editors on their backs to make sure the content is interesting enough for the advertisers to BUY THEIR AD SPACE, have resorted to the ultra-creative. Unfortunately it’s become quite tabloidish.
To be frank, I was thrilled to see a story from Ralph Vacchiano yesterday morning that I actually enjoyed! This was informative – sharing how the Giants Defense has really come together to create teamwork and change. After all, they have not allowed a touchdown in 10 quarters now. Here’s the article: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/vacchiano-giant-turnaround-perry-crew-article-1.1498514
It’s not to say that all the news is junk. But it really hit a head for me with 97 articles about why Hakeem Nicks should be traded and why AP should come to the Giants (from the Vikings) in trade for 3 significant all-around contributors to our team. With all due respect to Adrian Peterson – I’ll keep 88, 91 and 23!
And speaking of AP…
Have we NOT been in search of the next beast of a leader at Middle Linebacker since the other AP ended his career???? And I dare say —- he may have finally arrived!!!! (Please stay healthy young man)
Aside from just my own observations, in another article I read (excuse me for not remembering who wrote it so I am paraphrasing – I do devour just about everything that’s published), according to Spencer Paysinger (a smart player for whom I have a ton of respect), Jon Beason has (in just a few short weeks) “added more structure”. If you recall, Antonio Pierce was not only a source of passion for the team at a critical defensive position, but he was an intelligent thinker and leader.
I read a comment Beason made (NY Post, Cannizaro): “I’m a big believer in if something’s wrong you fix it… If you go out and a certain result happens that’s not what you want then do something different.” Sounds logical. Of course, we know that doesn’t happen in football or in life as often as you might think, but they are sound words to live by.
And like #58 did so well before him, “Beason has been phenomenal; he’s something that we needed,” Giants safety (and my current pride of the Giants Defense) Antrel Rolle said. “We needed a voice from the linebacker position — the middle-linebacker position. We needed someone who was going to stand his ground, we needed someone who was going to get everyone lined up, make it real snappy, no BS-ing around, let’s get it right.’’
I’ve been waiting for someone to come along that could possibly help me to put the idea of Antonio Pierce into Giants lure. Don’t get me wrong – I loved Chase. But he was different. Jon Beason has only been here a few weeks, but in a very short time, he has connected quickly with the locker room, the community, and has delivered on game day. If he can remain healthy, it certainly sounds as though he has found his home in blue, and we have quite possibly found our Middle Linebacker.
And one last thing. There’s someone else I have to mention. It’s been bothering me. It’s about someone I have been religious about, but someone who I was starting to doubt 3 weeks ago – and I am going to admit it. The quick, fix-it moves of the last few weeks, as a result of so many injuries: Brandon Jacobs, Jon Beason, Jon Conner and Peyton Hillis – took a man with guts, and man who has clearly done his homework. I have to commend Jerry Reese for the mid-season maneuvers he has done on the fly. These have been risky moves and unpopular moves – but they do seem to be working. Good job Jerry Reese.
Just like my new Antrel Rolle #26 jersey that I started wearing right before the Vikings game. “It’s not crazy if it works.” So I’ll continue to do my part. This guy must not have eaten his ‘QUEENO’ (quinoa) this week!
And one last thing. No, I do not think there will be any trading of any Giants before the end of the day.
Bring on the RRRRRRRaiders!
Something is just wrong when I start the day off with the following text messages (thanks Brandon ‘Commish’). And it seems like this is a theme for the 2013 NFL season, across so many teams. It’s only noon in the West Coast:
“Texans Brian Cushing out for season with torn LCL and fractured tibula. Will undergo surgery.”
“Bengals Leon Hall tears Achilles. Out for season.”
“Bears (starting) QB Jay Cutler out at least 4 weeks.”
“Rams (starting) QB Sam Bradford has torn ACL.”
“Buccaneers (starting) RB Doug Martin suffered what’s believed to be a torn labrum in his shoulder. Season probably over.”
“Bears Lance Briggs out 4-6 weeks with shoulder injury, per league source.”
“Jermichael Finley in ICU, has regained almost all movement.”
“Nick Foles battling concussion.” (of course he was backing up Mike Vick who is out with a hammy)
Am I crazy or are the injuries becoming entirely more rampant these days? Honestly, it’s getting to the point where I just can’t keep track anymore of who is coming and going. And what role DO these injuries play in the types of results we are seeing from teams we least expected to see at the bottom of the barrel, or at the very least, the bottom of their depth charts, in 2013 – Ravens, Steelers, Giants, Vikings, Redskins, Falcons.
Lets take a look at the Giants. It is a revolving door week in and out – and it just hasn’t stopped since camp began – heck, OTAs – when starters JPP and Henry Hynoski went out for their surgeries.
People ask me – why are the Giants in such poor shape this year? Well, the reasons are becoming countless, for sure. But I have to say, the fact that week in and out, coaches and players have to restructure plans, bring in new guys who don’t know the play book, and work folks into the system is a really huge issue! If you can’t field the same guys even 2 weeks in a row, what do you expect? Consistency? Cohesiveness? Yea, it’s great if the guys can get along, but how can they truly mold into one team with one plan? How can coaches build a solid game plan around 53 guys – when they have no clue who the 53 guys are likely to be?
Let me see if I can attempt this. A general overview of the Giants revolving door in 2013, at least from the perspective of the guys who would be on a 53-man roster:
Entering pre-season the Giants had JPP, Hynoski, Terrell Thomas and Kuhn on active PUP. Chris Snee and T2 came off PUP in early August. I believe T2 played his first game back after missing 2 seasons with ACL injuries in the 3rd pre-season game (and what a pleasure that was to see).
Late August, Hynoski was activated from PUP. Everyone is excited to have the Hynosaurus back! Too soon? Maybe.
With very high hopes for the season (after 8 INTs in 2012), starter Safety Stevie Brown was placed on season ending IR after a torn ACL during the Giants-Jets pre-season game.
Prior to the last pre-season game, JPP was activated off the PUP. Would be questionable to start the season after recovering from early summer back surgery. How soon would be too soon? He ended up playing in game 1. Clearly, he was not ready.
Tyler Sash, who had shown up BIG in the 1st pre-season game with some pretty solid play at Safety and Special Teams, but not quite as much afterward, was waived with an injury settlement after injury was incurred during the final pre-season game. What had originally been quite a competition for a spot, the Giants were down to Antrel Rolle, Ryan Mundy (acquired FA from the Steelers) and rookie Cooper Taylor (who had been injured almost all of pre-season with a hammy, and who was more of a ‘we hope he’ll make it’ than a sure thing – having undergone issues with a significant heart condition during college) at the Safety position. Will Hill would be serving his 4-week drug suspension to begin the season, so for the time being, he was out.
During pre-season, Ramses Barden, who was initially thought to have sealed the 5th WR slot, went out with injury before he could truly be a lock, and was eventually placed on IR. Ramses was always thought to have had so much promise – especially with his height – however, has has spent most of his NFL career on IR.
Veteran OT starter Dave Diehl, out for at least 4 weeks with broken thumb.
Starting Center David Baas in and out all pre-season and season with neck issues. Shuffling must happen because back-up Jim Cordle’s timing is sloppy and early-on, he’s like a paper wall. Kevin Boothe plays Center one week, Cordle another, Baas another. With Boothe at Center, young Mosley and Brewer come into the mix at times to replace Snee, Diehl or Boothe starting spots, and Beatty has to watch both Tackle and Guard at his end of the field. This does not work out well. Rookie Pugh, fortunately, has been the one consistent spot on the OL.
Andre Brown, starting RB suffers a leg fracture in the final pre-season game. After diagnosis, docs and team place him on the return IR designation with hopes to bring him back after Week 10. Week 10. Now the Giants have the oh so solid (sarcastic tone) RB squad of David Wilson (high hopes, not yet proven), Da’Rel Scott, and rookie Michael Cox. And now, in an amazing move… the Giants sign old buddy, Mr. Passion on a Silver Platter, Brandon Jacobs. Nobody believes he can truly help, other than to provide passion and veteran support. (Some don’t even think that - PK). Let’s see what happens.
Starting MLB Dan Connor, acquired in the offseason from Dallas, moved to IR with a neck injury. (Sorry Jerry, he wasn’t faking.) Now the Giants are left with only 4 Lbs.
While we were excited to have Hynoski back, he sustains shoulder injury and ends up on IR. Bummer. Perhaps he was pushing it too much too soon. Jonathan Conner (FA waived from Bengals at the end of Hard Knocks) signed at FB.
Too many drops, play book issues, and a minor injury, Da’Rel Scott gets waived.
Meanwhile, Mr. Full-of-Potential, ‘the JPP of TEs’ Adrien Robinson has yet to be activated in almost 2 years. Maybe soon. TE is not a strong suit for the Giants, even though there are 4 taking up roster spots and Bear Pascoe is the only reliable one. Personally, I’d like to see more of Larry Donnell.
Will Hill is back from suspension – rocks 11 tackles in his first game back.
Chris Snee’s hip is too much to bear. He goes on IR. Diehl comes back. He takes Snee’s spot at Guard. Now on the OL, with Baas out again, for the Eagles and Bears games, the OL shows up better than they have with a line-up that looks like this: Pugh, Diehl (best shape ever), Cordle (maybe learning something), Boothe, Beatty. Two whole weeks playing and practicing together. During the Bears game, it seemed to be looking a lot better. Finally, I would not blame the game loss on the OL play.
Starting RB David Wilson suffers a neck issue in the Eagles game that can possibly put him on IR or end career. Lovely. At a minimum, he will be out a few weeks. We are down to Brandon Jacobs and Michael Cox at RB. Da’Rel Scott picked up again to supplement.
CB Aaron Ross – who has been looking solid starting in place of injured Corey Webster (groin) – goes out on IR. Such a bummer because it was really great seeing Ross back home.
Amid a poor showing across the entire Pass Rush, and with other needs, DE Justin Trattou is waived. Did you even know that? Speaking of Pass Rush, it’s clear that JPP is still not 100%. And rookie Da’Montre Moore has been out with a shoulder or hammy for most of the season.
Jon Beason (injury prone, but high promise) picked up in a trade with Panthers for a late draft pick, to start at MLB. Looked good in the first game against the Bears only days after joining the team.
And THAT’s the kind of Brandon Jacobs we’re talking about! In the highlight of the Bears matchup, he shows that he DOES still have a motor when he goes 22 carries for 106 yards with 2 TDs. Loveliness. BJ has a hammy and might be out versus the Vikings. Game time decision – not his.
Giants pick up RB Peyton Hillis on October 16th – 5 days before the Vikings matchup.
Perhaps I missed something. As I said, I can’ keep track anymore. My point here is this:
While we sit here and point fingers at this person or that person, you wanna know one of the BIGGEST issues this season? WAY TOO MANY INJURIES cause there to be zero depth and a revolving door, which takes time away from FOCUS, PRACTICE, GAME PLANNING, ABILITY TO FIND COHESIVENESS AS A TEAM and as individual team UNITS. You BET the coach’s jobs are hard ones right now!
How can a team be truly ALL IN, when we never know from day to day who is going to be on the practice field or dressing in the locker room?
And with this, and a surmounting number of losses, the challenge of keeping a positive mentality building amongst mature veterans, young rookies, new players signed within the last week or so, can only prove increasingly challenging. Yes, it’s Professional Football. But it’s also life.
So the questions remain, and more prevalent than ever before… how do we start to get a team of healthy starters and find new ways to keep these guys healthy? With the escalating number of injuries in the NFL, is there some balance that needs to be struck between sportsmanship and winning at all costs - where a majority of players can remain in playing form, healthy, able to contribute to their teams with all that they can give of their athletic skill and talent; and we can go back to just plain enjoying our favorite sport instead of worrying week after week about who will be the next guy to drop to the turf, only to be placed on IR?
Looking forward to a great MNF tonight between 2 of the most injured teams in the league. And by the way, is it just me, or would you like to see Jim Cordle start at Center tonight just to keep a little of this cohesiveness going?
ALL IN. Well, sort of - I’m recovering from surgery too this week
Of course over the last several weeks (and even months), we’ve all had something to say about the Offensive Line (of the New York Giants). And as the weeks progress, and Eli gets hit, and hit – and hit again, the comments from the outside grow more pointed: ‘‘HE can’t coach”, or ‘‘HE can’t draft”, or “Get rid of x, y, and z players!” or “This or that guy is crap”, or “Why can’t we draft ‘em early in the draft!!!!” (I heard that one yesterday on SiriusXMNFL Radio - and to that I say – uhhhhhh, did we not just draft an Offensive Lineman in the first round? You know – that guy Pugh? And is that rookie LESS pewee than most of the rest right now?)
On the radio, Bill Polian responded to that one saying that he always drafted later round Offensive Line guys when he was with the Colts, and I think we can all say he did a great job of it with very few exceptions. He also commented that there was no question in his mind the Giants coaching staff and Jerry Reese will turn this ship. Will it be tomorrow? Maybe not. But will they get it done? Without question, he said.
So it got me to thinking (because I never over analyze this topic)… what exactly is the biggest issue here with the Offensive Line of the New York Football Giants? Why does it seem to be in such disarray, and a complete and utter fiasco? And what WILL it REALLY take to get this foundation of the offense going again? That part of the offense that makes everyone else look better… Well aside from ATTITUDE (which I discussed in my last blog) I think there is one other key component missing that really can’t be taken lightly: CONSISTENCY.
As a result of injuries to starters and preseason shuffling, lets face it - this Offensive Line has not had the same 5 guys playing together 2 weeks in a row YET in 2013 – not through preseason, and not in September, and unfortunately, despite the fact that the team likely gets Dave Diehl back, it doesn’t look as though the shuffling is going to stop this week either. (Snee now out, Baas out, possible new Center, Reynolds picked up off of waivers…)
And this ability to play and practice with the same 5 guys is so critical to the question at hand. In my mind, regardless of when a guy was drafted or how he came to the team, if his head and his heart is in the right place to be the best he can be on and off the field, if he is healthy, and if he is with the same guys day in and day out building a strong bond and cohesiveness; learning how to play better as a single unit – THAT goes a very long way toward building the foundation it takes to protect the Quarterback, to hold defenses off, and to give the Quarterback the time to effectively pass the ball. That unified approach opens the holes that help the Running Backs do their jobs better.
So to me, the one thing that truly stands in the way, above all else for the Giants’ Offensive Line is just that: CONSISTENCY. Can they get healthy, and can they get enough time together as 5 guys – whoever the guys are - to mold into a solid unified front, on the same page with Eli and the rest of the offense?
My concern in 2013 is not a coach. It’s not a GM. For goodness sakes these people have seen success time and time again. My concern is not one player (unless of course that player is healthy and just not giving it his 100%). It’s getting enough guys on the OL healthy as quickly as possible for consistent practice and play, so that this season doesn’t pass us by. My BIGGEST concern is that I am not totally sure there is enough of a runway at this point in the season for that to happen!
And on top of that, lets find a really solid Center next year, okay?
Meanwhile, the Giants still need to go out there and do what they can with what they’ve got – a banged up team with a lot of talent nonetheless, and a BIG BLUE heart… and a lot of big blue fans who’ve got their backs.
Follow me on Twitter @aliconig