NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL: Roads To Glory And Pathways of Defeat.
Why was Megatron Johnson so open, and will Larry Fitzgerald have a similar day?
I have my suspicions about Perry Fewell and his secondary, At the same time, you can't expect to keep guys covered for absurdly long times (although that doesn't necessarily explain their avoidance of Johnson's routes).
I harbor greater fears about a nonexistent pass rush. You can't coach what you don't have. It seems like the Giants haven't harassed a quarterback since the Mayan calendar ran out. I expect a better all-around defensive effort, especially at home this week. However, I will be paying particular attention to see if JPP can track down Carson Palmer.
More disturbing is this damn offense. It looks frighteningly similar to the last few years. It lacks a quality tight end, depth of quality at receiver, and until the offensive line gets rectified, and/or fortified with talent, nothing will go even remotely smoothly - new offensive coordinator, or no new coordinator.
Giants victories used to be won through their defensive and offensive lines. These days, they are the pathways of defeat.
I hardly think this ineffective offensive line, and the Giants inability to rush the ball will suddenly straighten out against one of the best teams in football defending the run. That means this game gets put right back in the hands of Eli Manning, whom is under duress, without the element of play-action, and throwing to receivers yet to fully grasp their new system, or even prove they can merely get open.
Week Two's mission: Get some pressure and sacks on Carson Palmer, and execute some effective offense.
NEW YORK METS: The Nationals Are In Town To Show Us How Far Away We Really Are.
The Mets begin a 4 game weekend set against the Washington Nationals
this evening. In fact, 7 of the Mets remaining 16 games this season
will be against the Nats. While there is little Terry's Kids can do in
the way of overtaking Washington for the division lead, 7 games is a
good litmus test for gauging where the Mets presently stand against the division's
First place Washington enters this evening's action 20-games above .500, while the Mets still remain 4-games below.
the Mets are better suited to contend with Washington on the mound, the
Nationals still own a more than slight edge. Offensively, however, they own a very distinct advantage over the Mets.
Washington: 2nd overall in ERA, 4th in WHiP, and 12th in BAA.
New York: 10th in ERA, 17th in WHiP, and 10th in BAA.
Washington: 8th overall runs, 17th team batting, 13th OB, and 12th in slugging.
New York: 21st runs, 29th team average, 24th OB, and 29th in slugging.
New York's young pitching is coming around. Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom will be rejoined by Matt Harvey next season. Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard will eventually have their time in Flushing as well.
Dillon Gee and Jon Niese are worth keeping, but perhaps represent 2 of the Mets better trade chips.
The bullpen has been transformed by youth as well, led by Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia.
Like Gee and Niese, a returning Bobby Parnell perhaps gives the Mets another still young, viable trade option,
Moving forward, the Mets overall pitching situation is good, to very good.
Obviously, the most glaring improvements need to be made at the plate, where for several years the Mets have remained near the bottom of most offensive categories.
Suddenly, David Wright's recent inability to stay healthy is becoming an issue. He is now out for the rest of the season with an ailing shoulder. At this point, we're only talking about the remaining 16 games. But it's clear his shoulder took a greater toll on his, and the Mets season. With his long term contract, this evolving situation is not easily rectifiable.
The situation at shortstop is still up in the air. While Wilmer Flores offers far more offensively than Ruben Tejada, he is far from being the solution. The Mets also do not have another emerging shortstop in the minors that will change this situation any time soon. It seems the Mets need to go off-campus for a solution.
At second base, Daniel Murphy stands to cost the Mets more money in arbitration, again, and then are faced with his free agency year. Murphy joins Gee, Niese and Parnell, as potential trade chips, with Murphy perhaps being their best. Dilson Herrera recently opened some eyes, and may be closer to being MLB ready than previously anticipated.
At first base, Lucas Duda has finally seized the moment. His power production is now part of the solution.
Behind the plate, Travis d'Arnaud is likewise discovering a comfort zone, and is starting to fulfill his promise. There is still concern over his ability to stay healthy. Meanwhile, Kevin Plawecki continues to plow through the minor leagues. So, for the moment, catcher seem okay.
The Mets need to generate their power in the outfield. Some things just have not changed. Sandy Alderson's gamble on Chris Young was a complete failure, and Curtis Granderson was never a viable power solution in the first place. His contract will now become a troublesome matter for 2 more seasons.
Juan Lagares is a keeper, and I'm content to let one of the minor leaguers win the 4th outfielder spot. Otherwise, there are no sluggers to speak of on the farm. If the Mets are to improve their offense and power, they will need to secure two corner outfielders who fit the bill.
Easier said than done. I know. But all that said, in order to close the gap with Washington the Mets must substantially upgrade at least three positions.
For the Mets, all options should remain open. The problem is, whether through trades or free agency, that costs money- money the Mets do not have.
Sandy Alderson has already warned the masses - don't expect the club to spend money during the off-season. That distressing news came rather early. This time Alderson completely spared us the doublespeak.
It is common knowledge that attendance has gone down, and the Mets have lost money in each season since the Madoff crisis erupted. Attendance failed to recover this season, and the club already projected for another loss back in spring.
There will no doubt be raises coming for those arbitration eligible players, which will leave even less for any real payroll increases.
Then I'm forced to ask - What spending, what increases? Ownership is still at least 3/4 of a billion dollars in debt.
NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS: Game One Reveals Old Truths.
If that carnage was awful to witness, imagine how the Christians felt. Amazing how getting fed to the Lions still makes spectators cheer with fury all these centuries later. Goes to show how Roman we still remain today.
WEEK ONE FINAL:
New York Giants 14
Detroit Lions 35
The game I watched was not as close as this score may indicate.
In Ben McAdoo's first game as offensive coordinator, his unit attempted 57 plays, amassed 197 total yards, for 3.5 yards per play. His QB only passed for 163 yards, got sacked twice, and threw 2 interceptions. His running game averaged just 2.2 yards on 22 carries. His already compromised offensive line performed woefully.
Detroit even subsidized the offensive unit with 8 penalties for 85 yards - more than half of Eli Manning's output.
In other words, last season's poor execution, and this year's poor pre-season have officially bled into the 2014 regular season.
Defensively, the Giants played nicely against run. However, the Giants allowed a total of 417 yards.
You know what that means - Coach Fewell's secondary looked just as confused as ever. This may be knee jerk of me after one week, but here's Fewell's pattern: begin the season by over-complicating assignments, then when the team is in late season dire straits, simplify secondary schemes resulting in much greater success. That's not necessarily my opinion either. In the past, Corey Weber and Aaron Ross never really voiced the problem, but over the last few years, Antrel Roll has many times.
Monday night, Matt Stafford, Megatron, and the rest of Detroit's air attack lit up the Giants for 346 yards. They're good, but the Giants need to do better.
The Giants also had a punt attempt blocked, so their ineptness was well distributed.
Much of this points to personnel issues, which ultimately puts Jerry Reese in the spot light. At this point, hindsight is indeed everything. He took Ernie Accorsi's team, supplemented it with 2 key drafts, and as we know, won 2 trophies.
His former running game and offensive lineman all generally deteriorated at the same rate, while talented (or at least par) replacements did not come in a timely manner. His depth at receiver is long gone. His defensive line is nowhere deep, or formidable as it once was. His linebacking corp. is still pedestrian at best. And no matter how many draft selections he spends on the secondary, the unit remains troublesome as ever.
In recent years, Reese has been relying on cast-offs, an overabundance of free agents, and has drafted rather poorly.
NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL: West Coast Offense Finally Makes It's Way Into East Rutherford.
Like I said, I've been out of touch this summer, and won't even pretend to seem like I have a grip on GIANTS matters. Life is like that sometimes. So, excuse me while I just ease into things.
What I do know is, I HATE PLAYING ON MONDAY NIGHT - especially to start the season!
I also know we won't have former offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride to kick around any more. Ben McAdoo is the new offensive boss man.
This is his first coordinator position. He's coming to us via Green Bay where he worked for Mike McCarthy as tight ends coach, and 2 years as QB coach. The two also worked together (rather unsuccessfully) in New Orleans and San Francisco, and is now being charged with re-inventing Big Blue's offense.
Good luck with that.
It has been well more than thirty years since Bill Walsh and Joe Montana unleashed the West Coast offense (as we know it) upon the NFL. All this time later, it has finally made it's way to East Rutherford - formerly the realm of Smash Mouth Football.
How will that system translate here? A noticeably bad pre-season performance offered little promise. Otherwise, answers to that question start piling in Monday night.
There's always the promise of good pedigree, as Ben McAdoo is a disciple of Mike McCarthy, Mike McCarthy was a disciple of Ray Rhodes, who in turn was a disciple of Mike Holmgren, who brought all he learned from Bill Walsh to Green Bay.
Can Eli Manning learn new tricks? We'll begin talking about that after the game.
The game? The defense needs to play exceptionally well against the Lions. This will be a troublesome opening night for the Giants.
This week, there's a 50/50 chance I actually know what I'm talking about.
The Seattle Seahawks repeat...
1st and 10:
There will be no undefeated teams remaining by Week 10.
Don't get in an elevator with the commissioner of the NFL.
3rd and Long:
How long before Michael Vick replaces Geno Smith as the starting QB of the Jets?
How much longer will (or can) Daniel Snyder hold out and keep the name REDSKINS in operation? If you recall, this blog committed to referring to them as the HOGS last season. But, I actually like his defiance.
Here we go...
For the unlearned, I post my Sunday selections on Friday nights/Saturday mornings. I usually just stick to the Sunday games. I always use Friday's (NYDN) line.
Bagels are currency here. Each game is worth one Bagel. I pick a SCHMEAR of the WEEK that's worth 3 Bagels.
And lastly, I can't pick Browns games. They haunt me.
That's it. Consider yourself learned.
JETS -5 1/2 (Raiders) Loss; 19-14 Jets
Saints -3 (FALCONS) Loss; 37-34 Falcons O.T.
RAMS -4 (Vikings) Loss; 34-6 Vikings
Browns +6 1/2 (STEELERS) WIN; 30-27 Steelers
EAGLES -10 (Jaguars) WIN; 34-17 Eagles
Bengals +2 1/2 (RAVENS) WIN; 23-16 Bengals
BEARS -7 (Bills) Loss; 23-20 Bills O.T.
TEXANS -3 (*Hogs) WIN; 17-6 Texans
CHIEFS -4 (Titans) Loss; 26-10 Titans
Patriots -4 1/2 (DOLPHINS) Loss; 33-20 Dolphins
Panthers +2 (BUCS) WIN; 20-14 Panthers
49ers -5 (COWBOYS) WIN; 28-17 49ers
Colts +7 1/2 (BRONCOS) WIN; 31-24 Broncos
Giants @ LIONS
Chargers @ CARDINALS
SCHMEAR of the WEEK:
Saints -3 LOSS
Philly cheese steak and rice stuffed into roasted beefsteak tomatoes, salsa made from stuff in my yard, and home made wine... What's on your Football Sunday menu?
Good luck, and Happy Football Sunday everyone!
Post-Game: Week One Record: 7-6 Schmear of the Week: 0-1 Bagels in the Basket: -2
Get on, or get out of the way. This Trolley has just resumed operations. Several important matters combined, or conspired to impact my summer, and caused me to divert my time away from this blog.
This is to let my (fan) know the BTB is steal-wheeling again.
I won't lie. To a large degree, I've been out of touch with the minutia of sports. I'm unprepared for the 2014 NFL season. In fact, since the 4th of July, the Boys of Summer have pretty much passed me by. Indeed, I've missed much in the way of news, trends, happenings, hype, and rumors.
Now, if you'll excuse me, my first returning act will be to post my Week One NFL picks.
NEW YORK RANGERS - Let The Rath Of Dylan Begin!
Despite Rick Nash's scoring woes in the playoffs, a lack of goals was not necessarily the reason why the Rangers lost to the Kings. Three overtime losses made it plainly obvious that the Blueshirts need a big defenseman who can clear traffic from in front of the net, and whom also possesses a big shot from the point on power plays.
On that note, Anton Stralman probably had the best shot from the point (by a NYR defenseman) this season but is in no way the answer. I do believe however that he played well enough to warrant a reasonable contract offer from Sather.
And on that note, any additional potential free agent signing will obviously cost money - lots of money. How does Sather clear the space needed to facilitate such a deal? For starters, John Moore is no longer needed. I'd make Raphael Diaz go poof, and I'm on the fence with regards to Kevin Klein.
I'll get into what forwards I'd consider sacrificing shortly.
This year's free agency period is less than two weeks away. Pittsburgh's Matt Niskanen is perhaps the most notable defenseman on the list. He will no doubt cause a bidding frenzy, and inevitably command major salad. But I'm not sure he's right for the Rangers. He is listed at 6'0" and 209 lbs., which does not exactly distinguish him in a line-up with Girardi, Staal, and McDonagh.
Coming off a career high 46-point season, while still only 27-years old makes Niskanen very attractive. Pair him with Ryan McDonagh, and the Rangers are set for years to come. Niskanen certainly handles the puck better than Girardi did against L.A. He would also be a welcome addition on the power play. But he's not going to be the one clearing bodies from Henrik's space.
As it currently stands, import Justin Falk is the Rangers largest blue liner. Will he see more time next season. At 6'5" and 215 lbs., perhaps he should, right?
The Rangers also have their proverbial ace prospect in the hole. It's time to let the Rath Of Dylan begin! Dylan McIlrath was the 10th overall selection of the 2010 draft, and should be ready to bang bodies in the NHL next season. He is listed as 6'5" and 215 lbs. His game is well suited for clearing traffic and maintaining lanes of sight for Lundqvist.
So with that in mind, I would give still Matt Niskanen serious consideration.
I also have interest in (LAK) Matt Greene. And why not? He's still only 31 years-old, and listed at 6'3" and 232 lbs. That's the kind of size that moves bodies. Realistically however, the Rangers can only sign him at their price and terms, not his. I'll pass on (LAK) Willie Mitchell though.
Montreal's Andrei Markov is good, but like Mitchell he's getting old, and has become injury prone, so I do not consider him much of an option. However, I think (NYI) Dan Boyle could be a good complimentary fit for the Rangers.
The Forward$$$ - Glen Sather needs to clear cap space, and will most likely start by buying out Brad Richards. It's the right thing to do. In the salary cap era, his contract is an albatross. Unfortunately, Mats Zuccarello and Brian Boyle may have priced themselves out of town as well. MatsZuccs? Yeah, it's all about the salad.
LONG ISLAND DUCKS: Liberty Division Race Heating Up.
After opening the season by dropping two of three games to Somerset, then another two of three to close out May, the Ducks found themselves 4 games behind Somerset on June 1st.
The Ducks then went on to post a 7-4 record but could get no closer than within 3 games of Somerset.
This weekend Long Island finally punched through. Despite Sunday's loss to Somerset, by virtue of sweeping Saturday's twin bill the Ducks finally closed to within 2.5 games of the Patriots. The two teams will play the final game of their four game set Monday evening. With a victory, Long Island can close to within 1.5 games of 1st place, with 22 games remaining in the first half of the season.
With a victory, Long Island would also even their season record (4-5) against Somerset.
Were it not for realignment, the Ducks would presently have a firm grip on first place of the Liberty Division. But last year's championship series opponent now lives in the same division. As we've seen, this makes Long Island's back to back title defense that much more difficult.
In Monday night's series finale, Jared Lansford will climb the hill for the visiting Ducks, and will be opposed by Somerset's Derell McCall.
* * *
Lew Ford continues to lead the Atlantic League in Triple Crown categories, with a .398 batting average, 11 home runs, and 47 RBI. Adam Bailey is 7th in the circuit with 7 home runs, and Cody Puckett is 4th in the league with 30 RBI.
Long Island's Shaun Garceau leads the league with 6 victories, followed by John Brownell with five. John Brownell and Garceau are also tied for the league lead with 53 strikeouts. Bobby Blevins ranks fourth with 45 strikeouts.
NEW YORK RANGERS: That Was Still The Most Fun We've Had In The Last 20 Years.
I watched all the games, but was too busy to load many thoughts aboard the Trolley... Just as well, because I was short on words. I mean, outside of obvious and nitpick issues, this was a difficult series to reconcile.
The Kings played very well, and lost Game Four. The Rangers played very well (for the most part) and lost three games in overtime. What a tough way to go down.
I refuse to put anything on Henrik Lundqvist because the Rangers did little to clear traffic in front of the net. They continued to let L.A.Kings loiter, and it cost them dearly. At the other end, Jonathan Quick was insanely good when it mattered. The Rangers created more than their fair share of high quality chances, but Quick rose to the occasion each time. In hindsight, it still hard to say if a productive power play and/or Rick Nash could have changed much.
You might say we're still getting adjusted to Alain Vigneault and what his style has meant/means to the Rangers. After a rough start, we eventually enjoyed a fine season, and locally the Rangers were clearly the rage of Spring. Off-Broadway was rockin'.
Two conference championship series and one Stanley Cup appearance in the last three years ensures only Glen Sather decides when he leaves office. That said, several personnel decisions must be made.
I agree there is certainly something uplifting about a raucous home crowd. However, there is way too much concern over the Madison Square Garden crowd, and what role they'll play in Game Three.
Why doesn't everyone just leave that to us - the fans. We decide who gets crap, and who and what makes us happy, and when. That goes for anyone who thinks (or thought) the crowd is an issue, to include Mike Keenan.
How about protecting a lead? How about closing out a game? How about avoiding overtime?
My silence or screaming from section 411 isn't going clear traffic in front of Henrik Lundqvist. Marian Gaborik scored Game Two's tying goal because he was allowed to loiter around the net unhindered. The game winning deflection (in double overtime) came because Dustin Brown was loitering in front of the net unhindered. That stuff is problematic, not the crowd.
We're playin' with these guys. The Rangers just keep shooting themselves in the foot. To their credit, they've had numerous chances in both games, but Jonathan Quick rose to the occasion.
Speaking of which, without scoring from Rick Nash, it is unlikely the Rangers can maintain a 3 or 4 goal per game clip. The man has 76 SOG in 22 playoff games, with only 10 points (3 goals) to show. Playing the Kings requires all hands on deck. Last game, might have been his best. But, no goals, and that's been the difference.
Win tonight, and we have ourselves a series. Just do it.
NEW YORK RANGERS: Los Angeles Kings Enforce Murphy's Law Against Visitors.
The 64:36 mark of Game One produced one of those unfortunate moments players dread - when bad luck descends upon them. Despite all the physical and mental preparations they put into their craft, there are no preventative measures athletes can take to ward off bad luck.
Just as the puck hopscotched Girardi's stick, two Blueshirts were turning up ice along the near and far boards. That left three fore-checking Kings in the Rangers zone against Girardi.
Why dwell? If the Rangers come away empty in Los Angeles, then we can revisit Game One, and I do mean all of it. There were too many inconsistencies from one period to the next that warrant more attention than Dan Girardi's 4th period misplay of an uncooperative puck.
Certainly no one can blame Dan Girardi for the Rangers getting woefully out-shot in the 3rd period by a 20-3 margin. And Derek Stepan's turnover was no less costly.
Otherwise, there were no surprises in Game One. The Kings did to the Rangers what they've been doing throughout the playoffs - coming back from being down. When they need game tying goals, they get them. When they need game winning goals, they get them. When they've needed victories, they've gotten them. No lead, game or series, has been safe. Game One was no different.
Nevertheless, Jonathan Quick demonstrated he will allow goals. But two Rangers goals in regulation time is insufficient against the Kings.
They simply need to score more. It's unlikely Henrik Lundqvist will be pitching any shutouts against the Kings. Therefore, the players on this team paid to score goals, must score goals. That means Rick Nash. He was not brought in at such a high cost to be inconsequential. Defending him for doing all the little things is falling on deaf ears.
The power play must also reemerge. The Rangers are operating with a much lower margin for error, and therefore must maximize any and every opportunity they receive.
Despite being careless with the puck, the Rangers still demonstrated they can compete with the Kings. As Brad Richards said, they need to clean that up. So let's just drop the puck on Game Two, and see where that gets us.
NEW YORK RANGERS: Stop Pinching Yourself Or You'll Go Blind.
Okay, maybe not, but Game One is finally upon us. It's really happening.
Broadway versus Hollywood.
East Coast versus West Coast.
New York City versus the City of Angels.
Whatever you call it, may the better hockey club win.
Can the Rangers compete with the L.A.Kings? You're damn right we can.
Of course, this will be a showdown between two of the NHL's elite goal tenders - Henrik Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick. Coming off their respective conference series, Henrik appears to have the hotter hand, as Quick demonstrated against the Blackhawks that he will surrender goals.
But, it will take all King Henrik's horses, and all King Henrik's men in order to pull of victory in Lord Stanley's tournament. For now, all the Rangers need to do is win a game in Los Angeles and bring the series home to 8th Avenue.
Can the Rangers win with Rick Nash still not scoring? They have so far, but how long can they get away with it? Besides the power play, and what on earth happened to Cam Talbot, I have no other real issues. In fact, I feel the Rangers are getting better the more they play together.
After several fruitful drafts, the L.A. Kings are just a very smartly put together hockey team. A few seasons ago, they made a financial commitment to their young group of core players, which opened up a window for success that has so far yielded it's second Cup appearance, and should remain open for another two seasons to come.
The L.A. Kings have orchestrated absolutely stupid comebacks throughout these playoffs, as did the Rangers against Pittsburgh. Both teams are going to roll four lines, and both teams are deep defensively. While the Kings are perhaps bigger, the Rangers have the edge in speed. If the Kings forecheck is able to zero in on players, the Rangers will pay. If the Kings look to take the body, and miss because of New York's puck movement and speed, the Kings will pay.
That said, I expect this series to go seven games.