Dez Bryant To Miss Season Opener? A Giant View

Dez Bryant

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See more of comedian/cartoonist Pat Lamb’s work on his web site www.patlamb.com

And connect with Pat on Twitter: @lambchops1

Jason Pierre-Paul Learning Spagnuolo Defense In Absentia

Despite not being under contract, franchise tagged defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is learning Steve Spagnuolo’s defense through some classroom work and through communication with Defensive Line Coach Rob Nunn. In one of the rare interviews Tom Coughlin permits with assistant coaches, Nunn said he’s met with Pierre-Paul on seven or eight different occasions during the off season and the defensive end is familiarizing himself with the new defensive scheme.

There are wrinkles that can only be learned on the field, but Nunn knows that training camp will provide the five year veteran defensive end with plenty of time to absorb them. The coaching staff, including prodigal defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, appreciate the effort that Pierre-Paul has made to come in despite not technically having a contract, and therefore being under no obligation to do so. It shows his commitment to the Giants organization and his teammates.

Spagnuolo, who has not seen Pierre-Paul on the field live, has reviewed all the film available on him, and was asked to compare him to the Giants defensive ends he coached in his first stint with the team. Hall of Fame enshrinee Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, and Osi Umenyiora are a tough act to follow, but Spagnuolo sees Pierre-Paul as a “Pretty Elite” as a pass rusher. Despite the majority of his 12.5 sacks coming in just 5 games games last season, Spagnuolo says you could see his talent in the form of pressures and hits in the others.

Cautioning that Pierre-Paul will be behind the other defensive linemen when he does sign his franchise tender and report to the team, Spagnuolo does not seem worried about his picking up the defense and contributing, referring to him as a “Natural 4-3 defensive end.” Spagnuolo expects Pierre-Paul to thrive in his defense.

Among the players who are benefitting from Pierre-Paul’s absence is George Selvie, the free agent acquired from the Cowboys, who has been practicing with the first team. He was on the sidelines today as the team warmed up for the second day of mini camp, but has looked good during the off season program. Veteran Cullen Jenkins, who has played defensive tackle for most of his career, appears to have been switched to defensive end. A strong pass rusher, Jenkins will be competing for snaps with Damontre Moore, Robert Ayers, and rookie Owa Odighizuwa.

Among the defensive tackles, Nunn pointed out that Markus Kuhn has quietly has a strong off season. Jay Bromley, the 2014 third round pick, is still struggling, and may not make the leap forward in his second season that has been anticipated. Free agent acquisition Kenrick Ellis, the former New York Jets backup, has impressed coaches in the early going, and is pushing hard for the starting spot next to Johnathan Hankins, who was the Giants’ second best defensive lineman, behind Pierre-Paul, last season.

Spagnuolo’s system is highly dependent on a strong pass rush generated from the defensive line. That formula keyed the Giants victory in Super Bowl 42, and had the team on track to repeat in 2008 before Plaxico Burress derail it with his infamous self-inflicted gunshot wound to the leg. Pierre-Paul will be a cornerstone to recapturing this defensive success in 2015, and his off season visits to the Quest Diagnostic Training Center will give him a leg up when his contract situation is finally resolved.

Can Evan Mathis Save the Giants Offensive Line?

Giants offensive line

It’s been well documented that the Giants offensive line suffered a severe blow when Will Beatty suffered a pectoral muscle tear and will be sidelined until at least mid season. The Giants plan seems to be shuffling their current roster of offensive lineman to find the best combination of a starting five. Earlier this week, we looked at the players on the roster and suggested an impending disaster looms if a move is not made.

At the conclusion of that article we suggested that Jake Long, coming off of consecutive ACL tears, could be the savior of the offensive line, but a funny thing happened on the way to opening day at AT&T Stadium – Chip Kelly released Evan Mathis. I will admit I did not know a lot about Mathis prior to the weeks leading up to the draft, other than his name, and a good reputation among NFL offensive linemen. When rumors surfaced of his unhappiness in Philadelphia, rapid research revealed him as the top guard in the NFL for the past several seasons according to Pro Football Focus.

Mathis publicly blamed his hold out on dissatisfaction with his current contract, signed in 2012 under the Andy Reid administration, a 5 year, $25.5 million contract that was scheduled to pay him $6.5 million this season, according to overthecap.com. Top left guard Logan Mankins, of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is scheduled to make $7 million, causing one to wonder if money is truly the issue.

Chip Kelly runs a different type of program than others in the National Football League. His practices, scrimmages, and games move at a frantic pace designed to keep opposing defenses off balance. His Sports Science fitness and nutrition program is intended to keep the Eagles athletes in top condition to allow them to execute his schemes with the same efficiency in the fourth quarter as they do in the first. Some players embrace Kelly’s program, and some find it less than ideal. Kelly has been weeding out players who are not sold on his methods as he’s purged the Eagles roster this off season.

Mathis’ contract dissatisfaction may be a smoke screen to stay away from the high speed “voluntary” Organized Team Activities and Kelly’s waiver of him is the team’s official response. Also 33 years old, Mathis will see a decline in his skills sooner rather than later, but he would fit nicely in the Giants offensive line in 2015. His addition would allow Justin Pugh to shift back to right tackle and send Marshall Newhouse back to the swing tackle position that he was signed to play.

Geoff Schwartz would then be able to play his natural position of right guard, relegating ineffective run blocker John Jerry to a backup position, one the veteran is best suited for. Ereck Flowers, the left tackle elect, would benefit from playing next to an experienced and talented left guard, stabilizing the Giants offensive line.

But what of Long? His continuing rehab appears to have the Giants wary of bringing him into the fold, and the coaching staff wants to give Flowers an opportunity to take hold of the starting job. If Flowers struggles, Long could still be added later if he is not signed elsewhere. Pugh could also be tried at left tackle, although his short arms make him a poor left tackle prospect.

Mathis’ addition would make the following configuration the favorite to take the field against Dallas on opening night:

Left Tackle: Ereck Flowers, Left Guard: Evan Mathis, Center: Weston Richburg, Right Guard: Geoff Schwartz, Right Tackle: Justin Pugh. This Giants offensive line has the potential to power the offense, featuring Eli Manning firing passes to Odell Beckham, jr. and Victor Cruz and Andre Williams running the ball, that can score 30 points or more per game, and give Steve Spagnuolo time to bring the defense back into championship form.

The biggest obstacle to signing Mathis is not salary cap, the Giants have the space to fit him, but convincing Mathis that the team is a contender. Most veterans seek to play for a team that has a shot to deliver the elusive Super Bowl ring as the end of their career beckons. The Giants 6-10 record in 2014 will work against them in this regard. Their strongest attribute is their schedule, with two games against Kelly’s Eagles. Mathis will undoubtedly want revenge for being released, and what better way to get it than in the uniform of the Eagles most hated division rival.

Jerry Reese should already be on the phone to Mathis’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, making his pitch with the opportunity for revenge included in his opening salvo. John Mara’s playoffs or bust ultimatum for 2015 should also provide some confidence in Mathis that the team is serious about winning another championship. Mathis could be the missing piece to the Giants offensive line puzzle that makes Coughlin’s third Lombardi trophy a reality.

Giants Offensive Line Impending Disaster?

Will Beatty‘s pectoral tear set back the plans for the Giants offensive line in a major way by forcing another reshuffling. Rookie Ereck Flowers has been working as both the first and second team left tackle as Beatty’s immediate replacement, giving him a crash course in the NFL. Flowers planned spot at right tackle has been taken by free agent acquisition Marshall Newhouse.

Despite months of denying the move, Justin Pugh has been moved from right tackle to left guard. Weston Richburg shifted from left guard to center, his natural position. The only holdover from the 2014 line is right guard John Jerry, who was a good pass blocker, but his run blocking struggles were a big reason the Giants struggled in that area.

Absent from the group is Geoff Schwartz, who is being held back as a precaution while he continues to recover from 2014 toe and leg injuries. Able to play guard and tackle, but best suited to play right guard, Schwartz will push Jerry or Newhouse for playing time, depending on which lineman struggles most in next week’s mini camp and training camp.

Canadian league import Brett Jones could also be a surprise starter if he adapts to the American game. He’s been playing center and right guard on the second team line. In 2015, Jones is most likely suited for a back up role on the Giants.

Recent reports maintain the Giants interest in free agent left tackle Jake Long, who is recovering from an ACL tear for the second consecutive season. If they are to sign him, it will likely be closer to the opening of training camp in late July. Delaying his signing gives Long more time to rehab and reduces the risk of an injury that will eat up valuable salary cap space for another non-contributing player.

Another free agent consideration is former Giants lineman Kevin Boothe, who was released by the Oakland Raiders last month. Boothe was one of the Giants better lineman during the horrid 2013 season, and would provide quality veteran depth at both left guard and tackle. His days as a starter are behind him.

If the season opening line features Jerry and Newhouse on the right side, expect the team to struggle running the ball and pass protection to be an issue, as Newhouse has struggled mightily to pass block in the past three seasons. Green Bay and Cincinnati both let Newhouse leave as a free agent, something that does not happen when a player is a quality NFL starting offensive tackle.

Having a rookie start his first NFL game protecting the blind side for Eli Manning also invites disaster for the team. If Long’s rehab continues to progress and he is on track to return in September, he would be a better alternative to Flowers at left tackle. His knees don’t need to hold up for the entire season, but only until Beatty is able to return in early November. Between the two wounded players, one full season needs to be cobbled together.

The offensive line that should be rolled out on September 13th in Dallas:

Left Tackle: Jake Long, Left Guard: Justin Pugh, Center: Weston Richburg, Right Guard: Geoff Schwartz, Right Tackle: Ereck Flowers. Backups will be chosen from among Newhouse, Jones, Jerry, rookie Bobby Hart, Boothe, and Dallas Reynolds.

If Jerry or Newhouse is among the starters to open the season, it threatens to derail an offense that has the potential to set a team record for points scored (448 in 1963). That record was set in a 14 games season, to top the 32 point per game average, the Giants would need to score 513 points.

Giants Offensive Line Injuries

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See more of comedian/cartoonist Pat Lamb’s work on his web site www.patlamb.com

And connect with Pat on Twitter: @lambchops1

Super Memories of the Giants Super Bowls: 1986 Edition

NFL Network ran a marathon of their America’s Game series over the Memorial Day weekend, giving us a chance to relive the Giants four Super Bowl victories through the sight and sounds of NFL Films and memories of key players that brought us the four Lombardi trophies. Experiencing these games again in a short period of time, combined with going through a personal period of reflection in life has had me in deep through about these season, and how their high and low points experiencing them in real time. Each was it’s own roller coaster of a season, ending on the ultimate high. Today we will take a look at the 1986 season, and some reflections on the Giants first Super Bowl run.

Unaware but there, the infamous Pisarcik Fumble

Unaware but there, the infamous Pisarcik Fumble

I grew up a Giants fan thanks to a family loyalty to the team. My father, older brother, older sister, and uncle were all Giants fans, and Sundays were filled with Giants football as far back as I can remember. My father and uncle has season tickets, along with their friend, the O’Connor brothers, Bob and Dave. When someone could not attend, we were invited, and I was asked to go to a game in November 1978. You may remember it as the Joe Pisarcik fumble game. I was too young, and inexperienced in an understanding of the game to understand what transpired, but I was there, as Herman Edwards ran the ball to our end zone seats, ushering in the era of George Young and Bill Parcells.

As time passed, more tickets were acquired, and I was given the seat of honor between my father and uncle. Section 123, Row 21, Seat 6, between my father and Uncle Bob. The people in the section rarely changed, and each season opener was like a homecoming, renewing friendships, and sharing news from the last December. Children grew before your eyes, people aged, and some left us. That feeling of Stadium family has not been recaptured in Metlife Stadium and it gone forever.

The 1986 season was filled with spectacular last minute victories, none more memorable that a Monday night in October, when the Giants played the Washington Redskins, while the New York Mets faced the Boston Red Sox in the 7th game of the world series. Spontaneous cheers from the crowd as the Mets scored runs unnerved the Redskins, and outspoken defensive end Dexter Manley, creating penalties benefiting the Giants as Washington player jumped at the untimely outbursts. Their 27-20 victory giving them an early edge in the NFC East.

Johnson's catch ushered in the Super Bowl run

Johnson’s catch ushered in the Super Bowl run

The turning point of the season took place on November 16th in Minnesota, as the Giants trailed 20-19 and faced a 4th and 17 near as time was winding down. Phil Simms, who is revered in Giants lore today, had been struggling mightily at that point in the 1986 season, had his coming of age moment. Standing in the pocket and absorbing a huge shot from the Viking defensive line, Simms fired a pass to Bobby Johnson, the unheralded starting wide receiver, who caught just 112 passes in three Giants season, for 18 yards and a first down. It lead to a Raul Allegre field goal, and a 22-20 Giants victory. Team confidence surged, and it felt as if the season was turning into something special.

The very next week, John Elway and the Denver Broncos visited Giants Stadium, in what would be a Super Bowl preview. Denver appeared to have the Giants number that day, but as happened so often that season, the defense stepped up to make a game changing play. Late in the second quarter, Denver was driving deep into Giants territory, and Elway dropped back to pass. He threw into the left flat, and Giants defensive end George Martin appeared out of nowhere to intercept it and started rumbling down the Giants sideline. Uncle Bob, seated to my left, as always, started pounding on my shoulder and yelling “GEORGE MARTIN” over and over into my ear, as Martin, then a twelve year veteran who could be timed with a sun dial, made his way toward the Broncos end zone. As he scored and collapsed, Uncle Bob pounded my shoulder one more time for emphasis and said “TOUCHDOWN, George Martin,” and the high fives and body slams started in Section 123. It was still early in a hard fought 19-16 Giants victory, but the magic continued.

Taylor was still mythical and magical in 1986

Taylor was still mythical and magical in 1986

Lawrence Taylor was still the mythical player with magical powers in 1986, before his personal demons caught up with him and tarnished his image in the eyes of many Giants fans. This is the player I choose to remember, separating him from the all too human man who has struggle with a lifetime of addictions and human failings. Taylor is still the greatest defensive player I have ever personally had the pleasure to see play, and on December 7, 1986, he played one of his greatest games as the Giants clinched the NFC East with a sweep of the Washington Redskins.

Taylor had three sacks that day, and was at his most disruptive, harassing Redskins quarterback Jay Schroeder into six interceptions. Simms threw three touchdown passes, and the Giants cruised to a 24-14 victory. It was their first division title, their first playoff bye, and heralded their arrival as a legitimate Super Bowl contender for the first time. Subsequent victories over the lowly St. Louis Cardinals and Green Bay Packers would clinch home field advantage for the NFC playoffs, and we made plans to attend playoff games for the second straight year.

First up were the hated San Francisco Forty-Niners, who had knocked the Giants out of the tournament in 1981 and 1984. They were a team in transition from the cardiac teams that out maneuvered team for their first two Super Bowls, to the ultra talented squads that would run roughshod over the NFL in 1988 and 1989. Jerry Rice was in just his second season, and appeared to break free for a touchdown early in the game, until he mysteriously fumbled with no one within 10 yards of him. The lore of Giants stadium as Jimmy Hoffa’s final resting place came into play, as many joked that the former Teamster’s boss reached up from the beyond to knock the ball loose. It wouldn’t have mattered as this was the Giants day.

The wind was a Giant ally

The wind was a Giant ally

Simms threw four touchdown passes, and Joe Morris ran for two more, while the defense dominated, knocking Joe Montana out for the day on a clean, but vicious hit by nose tackle Jim Burt. Morris was the key to the Giants offense, gaining 159 yards on 24 carries, and a 49-3 drubbing of San Francisco. the NFC Championship game beckoned, and another date with Division rival Washington.

The first NFC Championship game at Giants Stadium, on January 11, 1987, was a brutally cold and windy northeastern day. Before the additions were put on the top of the stadium, the wind could be most disruptive, and on that day, it was the Giants ally, thanks to the brilliant tactical mind of Giants head coach Bill Parcells. Winning the coin toss, Parcells took the 22 mile-per-hour wind at his back, forced the Redskins to start off facing it, and their offense never recovered. All the scoring was done in the first half, and the Giants were coronated NFC champions with a 17-0 victory. A rematch with the Broncos awaited in Super Bowl 21.

The story of this Super Bowl is well documented, the Giants coming from behind after trailing 10-9 at halftime, on the strength of Phil Simms 22 of 25 day passing for 288 yards and 3 touchdowns. My dad and Uncle Bob were at the game, thanks to a Christmas night 1986 trip that my dad and I took to the East Rutherford, NJ post office to mail in the ticket application. My father’s theory was that the first applications would get preferential treatment, and mailing it on the first day, from East Rutherford, would give him a better chance of getting tickets.He also thought it was best that his son get out of the car into the freezing cold to mail it, leaving me with the instructions, “Make sure it’s far enough down that no one can pull it out.” This was not an easy trick given the mailbox’s overstuffed state. It worked, he got two tickets to the game.

After the NFC Championship game, we all gathered at the house, and the O’Connor’s and my brother, now holder of a fifth season ticket, deferred to the senior statesmen, who were willing to draw names from a hat, and “George Martin and Harry Carson” were on their way to Pasadena. I still have the seat cushion from the game, having rescued it from my mom’s multiple efforts to clean it out of the house as “Unnecessary and taking up space.” It’s a lifetime memento and memory of this magical season that I spent with my dad and Uncle Bob at Giants stadium. Your first is always special, and this Super Bowl will always be a precious memory.

Rose Bowl, Super Bowl 21

Rose Bowl, Super Bowl 21

Over the next few weeks, we will share memories of the Giants other Super Bowl runs. In the comments section below, please share your memories of the 1986 season, everyone loves hearing about them, and in discussing the America’s Game shows on the Giants360 Twitter account, a few of us veteran fans found that the younger generation wants to know about the first two Super Bowls. Let’s give them our memories as a foundation to the next two Giants Super Bowls. Number five could come as soon as February 2016.

 

 

Martin Flashback, two decades later

Martin Flashback, two decades later

Epilogue: Almost twenty years later, we arrived early for a Saturday Game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Walking around during the pregame, someone says they are looking for contestants on the WFAN pregame “Name that Giant” contest to win an iPod and a station duffel bag. I’ve heard it on the drive in dozens of times and am more often right that not. I get picked and asked if I want a current or former Giant, “Former,” I exclaim confidently. Asked to bid on clues, my opponent says, “Four,” and I up the ante by boldly saying, “ONE!” The crowd gasps, and Bob Papa says he admires my confidence as he reads the clue, “An 11th round draft pick in 1975.” I think I feel a pound on my shoulder as my mind flashed back to crisp November day in 1986. This name is forever emblazoned on my brain, “GEORGE MARTIN,” I say proudly, pounding a fist in the air for emphasis. I had an iPod already, so I donated the one that I won, anonymously, to a long term care resident at a local children’s hospital. I still have the duffel and another great memory inspired by that magical 1986 season.

La’el Collins: A Giants Perspective

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See more of comedian/cartoonist Pat Lamb’s work on his web site www.patlamb.com

And connect with Pat on Twitter: @lambchops1

Most Anticpated New York Giants Regular Season Matchups

When the NFL schedule is being made, you have to believe that NFL take position match-ups very seriously. Whether it is two star Quarterbacks playing in Prime-time or an out of division rivalry, they want to make sure the fans are getting the best possible game out of those two teams. Does it happen all the time? Absolutely not. Do some teams/players not live up to expectations? All the time. However, with that being said, the New York Giants have some star powers on both sides of the ball which should lead up to some fantastic positional match-ups throughout the entire 2015 season.

Giants @ Cowboys

Giants @ Cowboys

Week 1: New York Giants VS. Dallas Cowboys; the games between these two storied franchises are always nail biters and unbelievably entertaining no matter who you root for. Hence why this game kicks off Sunday Night Football. Who will show up with the least amount of off-season rust and start off the season with a win?

 

 

 

 

Julio Jones VS Giants Corners

Julio Jones VS Giants Corners

Week 2: Julio Jones (Atlanta) VS Prince Amukamara; The Falcons are a great team with something to prove after back to back disappointing seasons and their best player on their team is Wide Receiver Julio Jones. After missing most of the 2013 season due to injury, Julio came back with a chip on his shoulder and blew it up in 2014 with over 100 catches and 1,500+ yards. Now its Prince’s turn to prove something after tearing his bicep in the middle of the 2014 season. Prince is going to have his hands full while trying the 6’3” Jones and watching Prince attempt to contain him should make for a fantastic week 2 match-up!

 

 

 

Ryan Kerrigan Vs Giants

Ryan Kerrigan Vs Giants

Week 3: Ryan Kerrigan (Washington) VS Right Offensive Line; Ryan Kerrigan is what I like to refer to some players as a “Giant Killer”. Giant killers are players that, when the play the Giants, always seem to outperform their normal selves. With Brian Orakpo gone, Kerrigan is going to be the heart of that defensive and whoever is lining up on the right side of that offensive line for the Giants, they’re going to have their plate full trying to keep Ryan off of Eli.

 

 

 

 

 

Buffalo Vs G-men

Buffalo Vs G-men

Week 4: Buffalo’s Defensive Line VS Giants Offensive Line; The Buffalo Bill’s Defensive Line might be the best in the league. With the young Marcell Dareus, and veterans Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes, and Kevin Williams under the leadership of the strong defensive mind of new Head Coach Rex Ryan, that defensive line is going to run havoc on the NFL. The Giants offensive line are going to be shuffled all throughout training camp and possibly leaking in to the regular season until they feel like they have it right. Will Beatty and Justin Pugh are going to be the only sure starters and they are going to have to show the new additions the Giant way.

 

 

 

Don't let Kap run!

Don’t let Kap run!

Week 5: Colin Kapernick (San Fransisco) VS Jon Beason; The Giants have always had issues containing mobile Quarterbacks. This will be the fourth time the Giants will play the 49ers in the past 4 years including that fantastic NFC Championship game in 2011. Beason is going to have to really keep an eye on Kapernick to keep him in the pocket and make sure he doesn’t break off one of his signature long runs.

 

 

 

 

 

Coaches Battle

Coaches Battle

Week 6: Chip Kelly (Philadelphia) VS Tom Coughlin; A good ol’ fashion coaches battle in week 6 in what will be the second prime-time game in 2 weeks for the Giants. A lot of scrutiny has been dished out for how Chip Kelly has approached this off-season and only time will tell if the moves Chip made will play out. By week 6 we should have an idea and Tom will have to be sure to keep that Oregon offensive Chip is trying to implement in check.

 

 

 

 

 

Don't let Dez get the deep ball!

Don’t let Dez get the deep ball!

Week 7: Dez Bryant (Dallas) VS Giant’s Safeties; Dez Bryant has a tendency to test the deep waters of defenses and with the current question mark at the safety position, I’m sure Jason Garrett will want to test those waters. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a big supporter of the rookie Landon Collins and although his coverage skills are going to have to improve, by week 7 we will know what we have in him and it will be his job to make sure Dez does not get past him.

 

 

 

 

 

Rookie will have something to prove.

Rookie will have something to prove.

Week 9: Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay) VS Giant’s Defense; The number 1 pick of the 2015 NFL Draft will have half more than half the season under his belt at this point and will either be in his stride or struggling to revive the Tampa Bay franchise. In a game I am actually hoping to be at, we will see how Jameis has handled the pressure of the big leagues.

 

 

 

 

 

Brady Vs Manning, always a great match-up

Brady Vs Manning, always a great match-up

Week 10: Tom Brady (New England) VS Eli Manning; what a match-up we have here! The superbowl champions facing the only team to defeat them in two superbowls. This is, in my opinion, is tied for the most anticipated match-up of the year for the New York football Giants. Need I say more?

 

 

 

 

 

Beat speed with speed

Beat speed with speed

Week 12: Desean Jackson (Washington) VS Dominque Rodgers Cromartie; Desean, another Giant killer will be in his second season with Washington and honestly who knows who will be throwing the ball to him. But with his speed he is another deep threat and the Giants will likely have Rodgers Cromartie shadow Jackson because of his speed.

 

 

 

 

 

Will they be able to contain Cruz and Beckham Jr.? Doubt it

Will they be able to contain Cruz and Beckham Jr.? Doubt it

Week 13: Darrelle Revis/Antonio Cromartie (New York) VS Victor Cruz/Odell Beckham Jr.; This is what has tied with the New England game for most anticipated for me. The return of Victor Cruz is going to be one of the biggest story lines heading into the regular season and having him line up with Odell is going to give defensive coordinators nightmares. With Cromartie and Revis suiting back up in gang green against those two is going to make the ‘battle of the meadowland’ a memorable match-up!

 

 

 

 

Have to bring him down on the first hit!

Have to bring him down on the first hit!

Week 17: Demarco Murray (Philadelphia) VS Giant’s Linebackers; in the essence of saving you readers some time, let’s skip ahead to the final game of the season. Year after year it seems as if the NFC Championship comes down to the last game of the year. No one knows who will be fighting for what and scenarios will come into play but with Demarco coming off his NFL rushing title and suiting up for his formal rivals, the Giant’s Linebackers will have to make sure that he does not break off any big runs and to bring him down on the first hit.

 

 

 

 

 

Obliviously injuries and scenarios will come into play especially towards the back end of the season, but hopefully everybody can stay healthy and give the fans some spectacular match-ups week after week. Do you think there are any other match-ups that I might have left out or disagree with the match-ups I chose? Who do you think wins these one on one battles? Feel free to tell me on twitter @nighthawk5454.

Landon Collins and Mykkele Thompson: Thunder and Lightning?

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Going into the offseason this year, a main concern on defense for the Giants was the safety position. After all, New Yorks’ three safeties that got the most playing time last year (Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown, and Quinten Demps), all left via free agency. Jerry Reese did his best to calm fans down by saying the safety position was not a need, but we all knew the truth.

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Enter the 2015 NFL Draft. With the first round in the books, Landon Collins was still on the board. With teams like Jacksonville, Washington, and Chicago all ahead of New York, who selected eighth in round two, Jerry Reese and company had to make a move to get ahead in order to get the Alabama Alum. After packaging up a few picks with Tennessee, New York got their man. Collins, who stands at 6’0 and 228 lbs., plays with a vengeance. In his sophomore and junior season at Alabama, Collins totaled 173 tackles to go along with 5 INTs and 3 FF. Many “experts” say the knock on him is that he isn’t good in coverage, which isn’t the case at all. Collins is more of a box safety, because a lot of the defensive schemes at Alabama had him lined up almost as a LB. Don’t let that fool you though, Landon can cover TEs and slot WRs if need be.

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Going into the fifth round of the draft, New York still wasn’t sold on their safety corps. With the eighth selection in fifth round, New York selected Mykkele Thompson, a 6’1 195 lbs. safety from Texas. This pick went under the radar, but it shouldn’t have. In his four year career at Texas, Thompson totaled 201 tackles, with 2 INTs and 3 sacks. He played a lot of Nickleback at Texas, but the Giants will use him at safety. I know two INTs aren’t a lot from a guy who played four years in college, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a playmaker. Thompson had a plethora of pass breakups and was a great contributor on Special Teams with three blocked punts.

Why Thunder and Lightning though? If you remember in the early 2000s, New York had two RBs with that nickname, Tiki Barber and Ron Dayne. Tiki was the fast and agile back, while Dayne was the bruiser. The same applies here for these two at safety. With almost 40 lbs. over Mykkele Thompson, Landon Collins is obviously the thunder. He is a hardnosed hitter that can make things happen. That leaves “lightning” to Thompson, with good reason. After running a sub 4.5 40 at his pro day, Mykkele has the speed to do almost anything. The one thing that gets overlooked with Thompson though, is his hitting. He can lay the boom on a receiver no question.

The best thing about these two is that they complement each other very well. As stated earlier, Collins is the hard hitter and Thompson is the centerfielder. The two will be able to play off of each other nicely. What one may “lack” the other is there to pick up.

New York may have drafted a storm in 2015 with the selections of Landon Collins and Mykkele Thompson. Only time will tell if the duo will thrive in Spags defensive scheme. Just know one thing, with thunder comes lightning.

Geographically Disadvantaged Giants Must Recruit Collins with Beckham

La'el Collins

La’el Collins

La’el Collins is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which is smack dab in the middle of New Orleans Saints territory. Collins chose to stay close to home for college, attending Louisiana State University (LSU) in his home town, and is in a unique position of being able to pick his NFL team. A top prospect in last week’s NFL draft, Collins went undrafted when Baton Rouge police announced their desire to speak with Collins in regard to the murder of his former girlfriend Brittany Mills. Mills was pregnant at the time of her fatal shooting.

A paternity test determined that Collins was not the father of Mills’ unborn child and Collins has answered all the questions police had for him to date in a Monday meeting that lasted approximately 90 minutes. At the time of Mills’ murder, Collins was reported to be with family and friends watching the New Orleans Pelicans and Golden State Warriors in a NBA playoff game, giving him an air tight alibi with multiple witnesses. He appears to be the victim of extremely bad timing as police interest in speaking with him cast a long shadow over him and caused all 32 NFL teams to pass over him in the April 30 to May 2 draft. Collins was expected to be taken in the first round in a slot worth a contact for several million dollars over his first four years in the league before these events unfolded.

As an undrafted free agent, Collins is free to sign with a team of his choosing, but is limited by Collective Bargaining agreement restrictions to a contract worth approximately $1.6 million dollars over three years. While that sounds like a windfall to anyone reading this article, it pales in comparison to the four year, $6.85 million dollar contract signed by Teddy Bridgewater, the 32nd and final pick in the first round of the 2014 draft. Collins only advantage is becoming a free agent and earning his second, often richer contract a year sooner than his would be first round draft mates. He is also not subject to a team controlled fifth year option, which, if executed, obligates the player to a fifth and final year at the average salary of the top ten players at their position.

Most young men grow up dreaming of playing for their favorite NFL team and, while Collins favorite is not a matter of public record, his Louisiana roots would point to the New Orleans Saints. Baton Rouge is a mere 80 miles from New Orleans and in firmly entrenched in Saints country. Another extremely popular team in Louisiana are the Dallas Cowboys, from neighboring Texas, and Collins scheduled a meeting with Jerry Jones to discuss opportunities in Dallas. Adding Collins to the already formidable Cowboys offensive line is a frightening prospect.

If serious about landing Collins, LSU alumni Beckham and Randle will be dispatched

If serious about landing Collins, LSU alumni Beckham and Randle will be dispatched

Since winning their two recent Super Bowls, the Giants have a larger national following and possess a secret weapon to deploy if they are serious in their quest to land Collins. Odell Beckham, jr, the reigning offensive rookie of the year, was a member of the same recruiting class and a three year teammate of Collins. The Miami Dolphins already sent a contingent of three players, wide receiver Jarvis Landry, linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, and defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, all LSU alumni, to recruit him. Giants’ wide receiver Rueben Randle was also a Tigers’ teammate of both Beckham and Collins in 2011.

If the Giants are serious about adding Collins to their improving offensive line, they will dispatch Beckham and Randle to Baton Rouge to speak with him about Giants tradition, opportunities in the New York Market, and their experiences wearing blue. Without taking this step, any reports of Jerry Reese being “In the mix” for signing the crown jewel of the free agent market is nothing more than public relations propaganda to appease the fan base. Beckham has the clout to tip the scales in the Giants’ favor and Reese knows it. He would be a fool not use every weapon in his arsenal to reel in Collins in and propel the Giants’ offensive line to next level, and given their geographical disadvantage he’s starting with, he’s going to need them.

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Earlier today, on Fantasy Sports Warehouse, we took a look at Alfonzo Dennard, and why the Giants didn’t put a claim in on him. You can read the article and many others about the Giants by following this link.

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