Saturday, December 31, 2011

N.Y. Giants ~ Defense; There's Beauty in Simplicity

From the desk of:   DO IT FOR THE DUKE








NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL:  Yes; There is Beauty in Simplicity.   But There's an NFC East Title to be Won With Defensive Agression.


POST:  N.Y. Giants - Romo's Hand?  Victory May Rest in Kevin Gilbride's Hands



Let's make something perfectly clear.  The Jets did much to make the Giants Defense look good last week.  They employed a bizarre game plan that didn't involve exploiting the Giants' Secondary.  Rather, the Jets did everything to highlight their own flaws and put them on full display.  The few times Marc Sanchez attempted to go down field, he heaved-up up several dying quails that were easily intercepted.  The old guy from the Benny Hill Show could have intercepted those passes.  And interspersed among thirty other in-completed pass attempts, Sanchez was busy taxing his compromised Offensive Line and giving the Giants pass rush plenty of time to get their hands on him. 




So as you'd now expect, I caution my fellow Giant Fan - last week was not a game from which to draw false hope.  This Defense still has the problems it's had for two years running.  And if they're not careful, Tony Romo and the Cowboys can make the Giants look silly on so many levels. 




That's precisely the way the Giants don't want to end their season.  As I stated last week before the Jets game, - I am pretty much through with logistics.  That stuff is strategy and plotting through the season.  Those are weekly issues with full knowledge another game awaits the following week.  The Giants have no such reassurances this week.  This is the end of the regular season.  If they don't win, while on the one hand going home to their families for the Winter sounds wholesome and Americana'ish, the other hand is some players and even coaches will be asked to stay there and not return.  Such as life in the NFL.  Such as life for a NY team. 




In losing seven games this season; at least three of them very inexplicably; the Giants have chummed their own waters off the Hudson.  There will be a Media feeding frenzy awaiting the Giants just beyond some curtain in a room within the bowels of Blue Life-or-Death Stadium; for then it will have been three straight seasons Big Blue misses the playoffs.  That's a nice chunk of meat to start sinking their teeth into and probably only the beginning.  People need to be held accountable for some of the things we saw this season.  And the not so funny thing is that organizations, the Media, and Fans all have a different way of going about that.




I said such as life in the NFL?  Then a win changes everything it seems.  It always does.  A win not only saves the season, it will most likely save jobs also.  And even then, I'd have to do an awful lot of combing over the deficiencies of this team of which there are many.  The short list of who to blame has already been drawn up.  At this point, the only question is if names will get added to it.




But low and behold, the Giants have one more game.  Sunday night we all get to find out if the New York Football Giants are a playoff team.  No one really cares much how you get there, just as long as you're there.  The late great Wellington "The Duke" Mara once stood upon a hastily constructed TV podium at the fifty yard line on a field of green painted mud..., and sarcastically chided the Media, and proudly hailed his 2000 team as the worst team ever to win the NFC Championship...!  That was the late Mr. Mara's last truly great moment as owner of the team his dad founded back in the 1920's.
 



The era that ended on the night Scott Norwood missed wide right has since ushered in four head coaches.  The Giants tried the in-house thing with Ray Handley.  They then tried the established NFL coach approach with Dan Reeves.  The Giants moved on with an off-campus - thinking out of the box type hire in Jim Fassel. 




Then with the hiring of Tom Coughlin, the Giants made a return to their roots.  Wellington Mara liked Coach Coughlin very much.  Tom Coughlin was part of the old regime here when they won Super Bowls under Bill Parcells.  Today there are three of them; -  three Vince Lombardi Trophies won via the Bill Parcells/Tom Coughlin Laws of Football.  That is not a coincidence.




In that spirit,  It's time to DO IT FOR THE DUKE.




The reputation this organization has long maintained was built on the defensive side of the ball.  It was true of the 1986 and 1990 teams.  It was the Defense which shut-out the Vikings on that field of green painted mud back in the 2000 NFC Championship.  Then the return to defensive dominance  culminated in the organization's third trophy in 2007.




In 2007, Kevin Gilbride was the Offensive Coordinator.  And since he's been to the mountain top with us, it's with a heavy heart I turn to him this week and plead for clock management and ball control through the run.  Of course Eli will throw his share of passes.  That's not only a given, it's needed indeed.  But I beg for the smash-mouth aspects of the Giants' attack to make a mark on this game in order to minimize Tony Romo's and Dallas' big play ability to overly affect the game.




Perry Fewell's defense is still suspect.  And as a long time Giants fan with several decades worth of mental reference to draw from, no Giants' team in my recollection ever accomplished much when the Offense was the more dominant unit of the team.  For all my lifetime, Giants' success has been solidly built on Defense.  Less offensively talented Giants teams have outscored the likes of the mighty 49ers; Broncos; Bills; Green Bay; and the Patriots; in the biggest games in the organization's history.  But they were able to do so, because the Defense put them in positions to do so.




There is no such dynamic at work between the Giants' Offense and the Defense this season.  They are an inharmonious, and an uncomplimentary team.  One unit is usually forced into bailing out the other -  Or worse yet, logistically speaking, conspiring against each other.




Number one, the Offense is too slow to the line.  Too many time-outs have been used because the play clock ran out.  The play needs to get in and the players need to be ready.  That comes from the coach.  Second, the three-and-outs are putting the Defense in harms way.  Too many needless pass attempts and questionable play calling inevitably result in not spending enough time on the field.  The Offense is losing the time-of-possession game.  In my last post, I explained how I think Kevin Gilbride needs to win this game for the Giants, because Perry Fewell's unit is as of right now, unreliable.




The Defense has mostly suffered from mass confusion in the Secondary.  We know.  Untold points have been scored against the Giants as a result of busted coverage; and worse yet, no coverage at all.  Over two season under Perry Fewell, what's become evident is that Aaron Ross, Corey Webster; Antrel Rolle, and Deon Grant; those four in particular; and include their coaches Peter Giunta and David Merrit; clearly do no grasp what Coach Fewell is teaching.  Those four players and their subordinate coaches have been together for a time exceeding Perry Fewell's tenure as Giants  Defensive Coordinator.  So, isn't it safe to deduce that which ails the unit is the leader himself?




All I'm going to say about that is:  SIMPLICITY.  There's beauty in simplicity.  There's another saying for that - Keep it simple stupid!  At some point you have to give up on what hasn't worked, and go back to what you do best.  I'd say the last game of the season, - a do or die game for the NFC East title is a good time. 




In the Secondary's case, Tony Romo will no doubt try to exploit them.  And he has the arm for it.  So  let the guys play man and just let them be Football players.  And bump them off the line please?  Yes, physicality plays a large part in this too...thank you.  But just let them play without too much to think about.  Just let them run around and keep an eye on their man.  We can not have two defenders looking at each other again and have them both claim to be in the correct spot; not when twenty five yards away there's a guy in the end zone with the ball and doing a little dance with his team mates.  Not in this game.  Play it that way because clearly, no one understands the new zone coverages and all it's built in options and I have no reason to believe they'll learn by Sunday.




Otherwise, everything else is elementary Watson.  Make sure we have the right linebacker covering Jason Witten.  Then let the other linebackers do what they've done since high school, which is plugging holes against the run, covering backs out of the back field, and help rush the passer. 




No!  Better yet... Here's an idea, make the backfield engage the Linebackers in their back field when we blitz!  C'mon Coach.  You have to unleash a blitz at some point.  The Cowboys have a quarterback with a compromised wrist.  He's going to be very protective of it.  And just because Romo's wrist might feel fine Sunday morning, with one shot, he's right back at square one, if not worse off.  So they have to get after him.




Perry Fewell has done very little however in the way of disguising anything really.  There have been no Safety blitzes; Linebackers; none of that.  He's been overly concerned with coverages and relying on his four man front to supply all the pass rushing.  It's not a terribly wrong way to compensate for a flawed Secondary, but when you play a team twice in a season, so close together like the Cowboys and Giants are playing, you have to change things up.  And what Perry Fewell hasn't been lately, or much at all this season, is aggressive.  Maybe that's exactly the kind of change needed for this particular game.  If you remember, we barely escaped Dallas with a victory, thanks in part to a ball lost in the lights.




Osi might play, and if he can spell Justin Tuck and JJP at times, and is healthy enough to get inserted together with them from time to time, the Giants will have a distinct advantage.  And if Chris Canty and Dave Tollefson continue to raise their games like they've been, even better for the G-Men.




I'd rather lose this game and rest easier knowing I went all out trying to get at Tony Romo than if we adhere to a much more conservative plan.  We know Tuck, Osi, and JPP and others like Kiwanuka can bring pressure upon quarterbacks.  That's a given.  But my question is how well will Coach Fewell enhance their abilities to rush the passer.  How well will he compliment their effort?  How confident is Coach Fewell if he throws numbers at Romo, that we can get to him before he gets off a pass or breaks the pocket?  All I can say is nothing ventured - nothing gained.  If we were meant to die because of the Secondary...let's die with the Secondary then.  But all I know is that we need to make the pocket, and the Box, a dangerous place for him to be.




In keeping things simple, Perry Fewell is also going to have to take chances.  In football, aggression shouldn't be considered taking risks at all.  In football, it's a way of life.  And Giants' History by the way, is based on it.




I've asked Coach Gilbride to really put on his thinking cap for this one.  I think his unit can play a larger role towards securing a win.  Perry Fewell's unit however has repeatedly shown they can do little to prevent a loss.  See Eli manning on that one.  So, if your back is up against the wall, you damn well better go down swinging.  No?




And if the Giants Defense rises to the occasion with a superlative effort, well then, they'll look like heroes.




Naturally.








Mike.BTB

Friday, December 30, 2011

N.Y. Rangers ~ Rangers Waive Sean Avery

From the desk of:   RAISE GRESCH WITH THE GREATS





NEW YORK RANGERS:  Dean Torts Dropped the Big One Man.  The War is Over.   For Avery's Army and his Legion of Fans, the Battle is Done.


Glen Sather may have single-handedly solved NYC Sanitation's waste transfer station and garbage  incinerator issues, right along with the inherent not-in-my-backyard opponents as well.  Dump it all in Connecticut.  That's what the Rangers do. 


With a waive of the hand, Silver Back Sather causes millions of Dolan Dollars to mysteriously disappear into an off-Long Island Sound slush-fund called the Connecticut Whale.  How appropriate.  The Whale of a contract Sather gave Wade Redden is still feeding off the organization's krill supply.  And now Wade will have more off-Broadway refuse to keep him company....again.


Connecticut - "Look Out!  Bad guy coming through!"  -  quote, Tony Montana.


For the second time this season, Sean Avery's act will be heading off..., way off  Broadway, and all the way back to Connecticut.  Unless, if some team is daring enough to claim Sean Avery off waivers that is.  Coach Tortorella's red-headed step child was placed on waivers Friday morning.  Happy New Year buddy.


The writing wasn't just on the proverbial wall, it was damn nearly plastered all over Times Square!  The recent win over the Flyers on December 23rd, for me at least, signaled a most definitive end to Sean Avery's time on Fashion Avenue and 33rd Street.  The Rangers rose to the top of the Eastern Conference standings this past week and the truth is, Sean Avery had very little to do with it.  So it's back to the Island of Misfit; Overly Compensated; and Unwanted Rangers for him.


And pay attention here.  Because we find out a little more every day about the behind the scenes dynamic between Coach Torts and Glen Sather.  I said it before and now I feel this kind of confirms it; Torts is calling most of the shots now.  Do you really think Torts signed off on bringing Avery back a second time?  Of course not.  But Sather brought him back anyway.  So what did Torts do?  He said the Rangers had better players than Avery.  Now who do you suppose he was talking to?  Then after being recalled and actually playing fairly well on even strength shifts, he was still last on the team in ice-time.  Then Coach Torts shut him down cold and made him a healthy scratch the last five consecutive games..  How else does a Coach send a message to his GM when said coach has absolutely no use for a player?  I'm sure Coach Torts could have come up with many much more medieval ways to get his point across.



With the way the Rangers have been playing, I knew Sean Avery never stood a chance of playing meaningful hockey for the Rangers again - especially after the Flyers game.  So on Christmas Day, I posted this regarding Sean Avery.  Here's a taste:


I still believe there is a role for this player and that he can serve a team well if he comports himself. And this year, he has. But I now know that role will never be with the Rangers; not anymore. It's clear there is no role for him here. After spending much time defending and championing Sean Avery's plight, I now understand he never stands a chance of playing meaningful minutes for the New York Rangers ever again...,

The list of players Sean Avery must now climb over in order to receive any meaningful ice-time is starting to cast a rather lengthy shadow on his Ranger career...again. The first time was because he was still largely out of control and seething with internal anger. He proved too damaging to the team building concept. Most of all, he never stood a chance under Coach Torts. So, he was shipped off to Dallas. Glen Sather brought him back for a second run of the off-Broadway drama after another disappointingly meek exit from the playoffs and because Avery came at a cheaper price this time. Then just before this season got started, Coach blind-sided Avery with a demotion to Connecticut. Coach Torts flatly stated at the time, the organization simply had better players than Sean Avery. That rang very hollow with Ranger Fans.

There still might be a team he can play very well for. But due the Rangers' rebuilding effort, and the surging quality of hockey being played by too many young hungry and moldable players make it virtually impossible to throw Sean Avery valuable minutes out of compassion now. I am an unabashed soldier in the Avery Army. But the new young Rangers have passed him by. Like Coach Torts said back in October, this team has better players than Sean Avery.


Coach Torts was adamant in his assessment then.  And after the Rangers' rise through the Conference, it's hard to argue with the Head Coach now.











Mike.BTB

N.Y. Giants ~ Romo? Victory May Be in Kevin Gilbride's Hands

From the desk of:   DO IT FOR THE DUKE







2011
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
East Division Title Game

Dallas Cowboys
vs.
NEW YORK GIANTS





NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL:  Kevin Gilbride is the Key to Powering Up a GIANT Win and Limiting Romo's Chances of Exploiting Our Secondary.




When Center David Baas missed time to injury and Kevin Boothe moved to Center and Mitch Petrus filled in at Left Guard, running holes suddenly opened up the middle that previously were not there before with Baas playing.  Prior to Baas being sidelined, the Line assignments were breaking down causing Jacobs to get met at, or behind the line of scrimmage.  Not even Bradshaw broke through.  The Offensive Line's push/surge forward never....pushed.  They got pushed instead.  But the fans chose to focus their ire on Jacobs forgetting Shaun O'Hara and Rich Suebert were longer opening up holes for him (them) and because he generally has a big mouth.  But everyone likes the way he dealt with Rex Ryan last week right?!  Don't be a hypocrite!   I digress.




But since the most recent in-season O-Line shake-up, yes, the running game improved substantially with 100+ yards games to show for it.  However, regardless of the situation at Center, the Giants have run their best football outside the Guards, and off-Tackle in particular.  Yet for the longest, Kevin Gilbride kept insisting on running off Center.  Last week's game against the Jets was no different.   Gilbride tried going off Center with Baas reinserted into the line-up.  And once again there was very little to be had there with only Bradshaw managing to bust a run up the gut on the play he destroyed the Jets' Brodney Pool on.




Gilbride seemingly may be catching on now.  Last week, Bradshaw's; Jacobs', and Ware's biggest gains, and most important rushes of the day all game outside the Guards and off-Tackle.  But they didn't come till the second half.  For after several games of 100+ yard results , Kevin Gilbride started the Redskins game with seventeen passes and only five rushing attempts in the first half.  And against the Jets?  He did the same thing.  For a majority of the first half, the score remained 10-3 Giants.  So why on Earth was Gilbride calling for 17+ passes and rushing the ball a mere seven times?  After prior success, for two consecutive first halves, the answer is he ignored what worked.  Last week Eli completed seven passes all game.  Yet for too long Coach persisted until turning to the run in the second half more.  The week prior against the Skins, he very literally waisted the entire third quarter trying to establish (not re-establish!) the run after a mere five first half rushes.




Let's assume Tony Romo's hand will be fine Sunday.  The best way to beat the Cowboys is still to keep the ball out of his hands.  The best way to do that is by possessing the ball ourselves.  Look..., clearly Eli, Nicks, Cruz, and even Ballard are not who they are today ( I say that loosely) without Gilbride dialing up a lion's share of plays for them.  And quite frankly I get this is an uber-passing League now.  But with so many quick strike touchdowns, we're giving the opposition too many opportunities with ample time left to make life very unpleasant.




I'm just saying the name of the game against Dallas should be first downs.  Third down conversions have been a big, big problem.  The growing number of three-down-and-out possessions borders on alarming now.  The Offense is making Steve Weatherford look like a star.  And many of those possessions have been pass intensive; or worst, Gilbride chooses to run on second and long.  But that's neither here nor there.  The Offense needs first downs, because even though the Giants are capable of scoring in the high-twenties or even breaking thirty points Sunday night, the fact remains, Gilbride's pass happy offense leaves the other team entirely too much time with which to work with.  Then the game becomes a battle of who has the ball last.  And for the most part this season, Eli has nearly mastered that aspect; albeit needlessly.  And I say needlessly because of all the time the Defense is made to spend on the field.  The Giants have been losing the time-of-possession battles.  That's a fact.




All I'm asking for is a little ball control and better clock management coach.  I don't mind Gilbride taking chances early in the game; or late; or whenever.  It's nice to work with a lead; especially against the Cowboys.  But at some point during the first quarter, Gilbride needs to show a willingness to run the ball with meaningful power.  This time, he can not afford to blow an entire half and wait until the second half to run to daylight.  No; not this game.  Because this game is most definitely the last game if we don't get things churning forward and making sure the clock is our ally.




Because here's the deal.  Tony Romo can do exactly what Aaron Rogers, Drew Brees, Alex Smith, and what Rex Grossman did twice to the Giants this season; and that is absolutely destroy our Secondary.  We are not playing Marc Sanchez this week who made our Secondary seem buttoned up and tight as a clam.  The Jets never really tried going down field on us.  Romo will no doubt go vertical and over the top on us.  He'll definitely be putting up rainbows for Dez Bryant and company hoping to catch that little pot-o-pigskin worth six points a pop.  And whether I hate the Cowboys or not the fact remains, they can score in a hurry when they need to.




Even as Giant fans hear that Justin Tuck, JPP, Tollefson, and a returning Osi may all wind up on the Line across from Romo together for the first time in a long time, the fact is Romo can shake and bake long enough to make even the best downfield coverage fall apart.  And like I said in my last posting, Tony Romo throws the ball with his body contorted in all kinds of crazy positions while on the run no less, and still gets off passes with strength and accuracy.  It drives me crazy!  And here's problem number two I see about that.  If Jason Witten takes Michael Boley along for a trot down field, Romo will have the entire middle of the field all to himself.




So you see, of all people I thought the Giants would have to rely on this season to be the smartest guy on the field this Sunday, I honestly didn't think it would have been Coach Gilbride.  After all, I put him on my Hot Seat back in September.  Here we are none the less.  And we need him to come up with an effective plan to run the ball behind our best Offensive Linemen, and then set Coach free to do what he and Eli work out together.  But make the running game matter.  Three-and-outs that take all of 1:08 off the clock and are like torpedoes into the bow of the best laid plans; at least against the good QB's of the League.  So if by holding on to the ball by making a concerted effort to get ourselves in third-and-short situations, then execute and ride first downs...., cool.




The more Kevin Gilbride; not Perry Fewell; can limit the opportunities Tony Romo gets to attack our Secondary the better our chances are of winning.  That's right, I'm saying Marc Sanchez is not the right QB to gaining false confidence from.  He was simply not up to the task.  And Perry Fewell's new-fangless- twilight zone coverage-New Jersey devil's trap-....or what ever it is, clearly isn't something Aaron Ross, Corey Webster; the Safeties; Coach Peter Giunta; and Coach David Merritt are understanding very well.  And against Tony Romo, it can easily turn nto - here we go again.  Don't forget..., last game was won because of the stadium lights...riiiight, and because of JPP's giant hand.




So now the cat is out of the bag.  Help us Kevin Gilbride.  You're the only one who can save the Giants from our Secondary getting burnt like breakfast toast in Hell's kitchen.  Get first downs.  Keep the Offense on the field for 38:00 minutes and score some points.  Of course we are going to pass the ball.  It's what has delivered us to this very game and moment.  Of course I don't want to muzzle Kevin Gilbride's passing game.  Just trust the run and keep Dallas having to stop it.  We know which components of our Offensive Line work best and how.  So be smart, creative, and throw hell at them.  But don't get too cocky like is your want, and Run With Power Man.




C'mon Dude, you need to bail your fellow coordinator out this week.  The NFC East Title or nothing, depends on it.




A defensive point of view and more about Perry Fewell is coming in my next post. Check it out.













POST SCRIPT ~ Stuff that wasn't supposed to make it, but I left in anyway:


Perhaps this is the game I've been waiting all season for.  No; I hope this is the game.  You know, the one where Tony Romo breaks Dallas' heart and that of greater Texas in the only way they know how out there - In a BIG way with a total fail effort, then goes on TV wearing that taxi cab's hat and recounts how he blew the game and takes total responsibility.  I love that part.  Anyway, I've been waiting patiently.  But, perchance to dream; -  it hasn't come yet.  Today, a buddy of mine said Romo already had that game.  He said it came against the Jets.  In Week One I asked?  Yeah, he said.  I pondered that for the rest of the day.  And here I am.



Did he really get that out of his system in Week One?  Is this the season Tony Romo finally comes through for the Cowboys and their fans?  If it that happens against us, you know what's going to happen around here...don't you?







Mike.BTB

Thursday, December 29, 2011

NJ/BKN Nets ~ Long Distance Relationship

From the desk of:   THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH






Picture as of December 29, 2011



N.J./BROOKLYN NETS:  Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth.



Game Three



Long distance relationships never work; well..., almost never.  There's always exceptions.  And I'm not talking about the fans in New Jersey after the Nets leave (or in my case, come..) to Brooklyn.  I'm not talking about Mikhail Prokhorov spending so much time in Russia either.  Although if he keeps messing with Putin, I fear he may never make it back.  And then where does that leave the Nets?  And no, I'm not talking about Kris and Kim's divorce.



Instead, Billy King and the Nets will be getting off a plane in Central Florida for an opportunity to meet the big apple of their eye face to face.  This evening, they'll literally be able to reach out and touch him.  But just don't foul him.  And don't say anything to him within the context of "we" or "us".  Lest we forget about that not-so-secret hotel room meeting before the season started.



Tonight the New Jersey Nets will be in Orlando to play against the team in possession of the Center they covet most.  Said Center, apparently wants to play for NJ/Brooklyn next season also.  Or at least that's what we've been led to believe.  But with Brook Lopez out due to foot surgery and Orlando's lack of confidence to pull off a deal, the only thing the Nets and Dwight Howard can do right now are look at each other with big sad puppy eyes as they run back and forth on the court in opposition of each other.



There's now a new development that just might even make the Nets' sad puppy eyes cry.  Today SNY said there's is a new JODY on the block looking to take their girl away from them and go.  The new speculation is, in addition to the Los Angeles Lakers having interest and assets, now Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks can be the team that not only lands Dwight Howard, but will take Deron Williams from the Nets as well.  If that scenario plays out, Brooklyn will be welcoming in a team in full blown rebuilding mode.



One of the Media outlets also reported that Deron Williams and Dwight Howard may have had dinner together last night.  How quaint.  If the dinner did take place, no doubt they were talking about where THEY BOTH want to be?  I just hope while they were breaking bread they were talking Brooklyn.  We got good places to eat here too ya know.



Back in New Jersey's final-ever home opener, the Nets got hammered by the Atlanta Hawks which prompted Coach Avery to bench his starters for most of the second half.  On the whole, the game wasn't terribly entertaining so the fans in attendance occupied their time with resounding chants of - "We Want Howard!"



The good news is Nets fans embraced their 72-day, embattled former TV husband who has been getting drenched in a down-pouring of boos lately, and offered Kris Humphries their unqualified support and showed it with resounding cheers.



This story needed a happy ending.  Because right now, things aren't looking too good for New Jersey, or Brooklyn....or the Nets.  Stay tuned.






Mike.BTB

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

N.Y. Giants ~ A Visit to the Big Blue Couch

From the desk of:   DO IT FOR THE DUKE








NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL:  "I Pick Things Up, And Put Them Down."   Get Tony Romo!



The first football team I ever hated in life was the Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970's.  I learned to hate them before I ever became a fan of football.  That occurred while I was still a single digit midget.  But I learned to hate them because almost every Sunday we visited my relatives.  There was a certain somebody there who was a teenager at the time and not exactly a pleasant one.  Regrettably, he's a loser today but ultimately was the one responsible.  He wouldn't let me watch cartoons on the one available TV because football was on.  I'd be there and he'd just barge in and BOOM! - it seemed like the freakin Steelers were on every time!  Needless to say, I still hate them today.  It wasn't till later in life that I learned cartoons and Football were incompatible.  And that it was only possible on those Sundays because certain portions of Manhattan had cable TV back then.



John McVay was coach of the Giants in those days.  By the time Ray Perkins became head coach, I was hooked.  The first team I ever grew to hate on my own football terms was the Dallas Cowboys.  And so, I'm with Justin Tuck when he says, "I hate the Cowboys." - Because I do.  I've hated them since Tom Landry and his stupid hat; Roger Staubach; and the Doomsday Defense days.  I hated Jimmy Johnson and hoped the Giants could some how manage to rip off Emmit Smith's arm that one December game in 1993.  The day Bill Parcells returned to the Meadowlands in 2003 dressed in Cowboy chaps turned my stomach.  And every time I come across a native New Yorker who tells me, "I'm a Cowboys fan!" - it assaults all my sensibilities and makes me wanna punch them in the face.  It's not a crime until you act on it folks.


Frankly, I don't need this crap right now.  I believe the Giants have not played up to their potential.  I wasn't with most prognosticators back in August who didn't give this team much of a chance.  The slim chance they did give them awaits the Giants' Sunday night much to many expert's dismay.  But not to mine.  I thought all along the Giants were going to fare better than they have. 



In my Pre-Season Predictions  (first you should know I made them back in April when the schedule came out, and I did it for fun.  But I stood by it), - I gave the Giants one loss against the Eagles, then losses against the Patriots, Saints, and Packers.  I thought for sure we'd beat the Redskins twice.  But oh what failures those two games turned out to be.  And I also believed we were two games better than Dallas.  That remains to be seen.  I was clearly wrong about the 49ers.  But against the Seahawks?  There was no excuse for letting that game A) - slip away, and B) - nor should it have ever been that close.  I gave myself a +/- of one game. - There's your loss to the 49ers.  Otherwise, I expected an 11-5 effort from this team; 10-6 at a minimum.  So there's your season and here we are....staring at a one game showdown against the Cowboys.  The loser goes home for good.


I'm in my forties now so let me tell you what bothers me today.  Tony Romo bothers me.  Tony Romo bothers me because he has a strong arm.  Tony Romo bothers me because he can dance in the pocket and break out with good speed.  He bothers me because even when pass protection breaks down, he still manages to stay a fingertip out of reach; at least when he plays the Giants.  He bothers me because he can deliver the ball with his body contorted in different ways while on the run.  He does all that accurately and improvises well.  The Giants contain Michael Vick better than they do Tony Romo.  That's what bothers me about Tony Romo; and of course the fact he plays for the Cowboys.



Every Giants' defensive player should have a picture of his face sporting that smug smile hanging in their locker.  They should be sleeping with headphones on listening to sounds of crashing helmets, tackles and grunts from Tony Romo sacks of the past.



With a questionable wrist aside, Tony Romo isn't going to be as bad as Marc Sanchez was.  The Jets actually made our Secondary look good.  And last time out against the Cowboys, the lights at Jerry Jone's Palace to Himself  helped the Giants' Secondary out.  Jason Pierre Paul did the rest.



We're going to need a better plan.





Mike.BTB

BKN Aviators ~ Time to Round-Up The Outlaws

From the desk of:   THE SKATES OF FLATBUSH







BROOKLYN AVIATORS:   State of The Hangar.




TEAM LEADERS:


After twenty Aviator games this season, Andrew Owsiak has taken over the team lead in points with twenty-seven, versus twenty-six for long time team leader Chris Ferazzoli.  Andrew Owsiak is also tied with Jesse Felten for the team lead in goals with twelve.  While Chris Ferazzoli still leads the team with sixteen assists.  Jesse Felten leads all Flatbush skaters with a stellar +15 rating.


Between the pipes, Peter Dundovich actually owns the League's best Goals Against Average with a 2.19 mark.  But that is based on seven games played as Brooklyn's back-up goalie.  The rest of the League's regular goalies are averaging about twelve starts by now.  Dundovich owns a 3-1 record.  The A's starting goalie, Josselin St. Pierre is 5-3 since signing on to replace Thomas Lee.  Josselin has a 3.51 GAA in ten games.




UPCOMING SCHEDULE:


Thursday and Friday the Coolest Guys in Brooklyn are headed to New Jersey for another back-to-back set against the first place Outlaws.  And they aren't in first place for nothing.  In four meetings this season, the Aviators are winless against them.  Additionally, New Jersey has outscored Brooklyn in those four games by a 20-13 margin.  Overall this season, New Jersey is 18-3 with fifty-six points. 1000 Islands is in second place with fifty points.  Then Brooklyn and Danbury are locked in a tie for third with thirty-six points each.


The New Jersey Outlaws sport three of the League's top ten scorers:
2) - Kevin Cooper-44 points;
4) - Travis Kauffeldt-40 points;
6) - and former Brooklyn favorite, Matthew Puntureri with 37 points.


The A's will then return to The Hangar for a Saturday tilt against Cape Cod again.  Brooklyn is fresh off sweeping a pair of games against the Blue Fins last weekend.  Their season series is now tied at four games apiece.  As of Wednesday afternoon, the Cape Cod Blue Fins are in sixth place with twenty-two points.





Mike.BTB

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

LIU Blackbirds ~ Drop a Buck Versus Texas St, NJIT Next

From the desk of:   THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH











LIU BLACKBIRDS:  It Was Raining Three's on Ashland Place.


GAME THIRTEEN



We left off with our Flatbush collegiate cagers taking on the Texas State Bobcats in the second of three consecutive games to be played at the Wellness Center.  They hosted Texas State back on December 20th and hit the century mark in points for the first time in thirteen games this season.  In defeating Texas State 100-84, the Blackbirds improved their season record to 7-6; and 3-0 at home.



LIU's Julian Boyd led all scorers with twenty-two points and twelve rebounds.  All twelve of Boyd's rebounds came off the defensive glass.  The Blackbirds and Texas ended the game tied in rebounds.  However the visitor's board work was more evenly played.  Eighteen came on their offensive glass and seventeen on their defensive end gave Texas thirty-five on the night.  LIU matched that, mostly on the defensive end.  They only pulled down seven offensive boards all night. 



That tells me the Blackbirds spent most of the night nailing their initial shot opportunities.  Actually, the truth is they burried three pointers all night long; eleven of them to be exact.



In thirty-two minutes, Jason Brickman had a very productive night at the point passing off on a game high eleven assists and limiting himself to three turnovers.  He added twelve points; shooting 3 out of 4 from the line and 3 for 5 from three-point land.



Michael Culpo was a beast from three point range, nailing five out of six shots for his fifteen point contribution of the night.  He was second high scorer for LIU.  C.J. Garner chipped in with thirteen points and Brandon Thompson added nine off the bench.



Jamal Olasewere's night was limited to eight points in nine minutes.



NEXT GAME:   LIU welcomes the NJIT Highlanders Friday night to the Ashland Place gym.  This game will conclude LIU's out-of-conference schedule for the season.  The Blackbirds are 5-6 outside of their conference.  In-Conference, they boast a 2-0 record.







Mike.BTB

NJ/BKN Nets ~ New Jersey's Final Opening Night

From the desk of:   THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH






N.J./BROOKLYN NETS:   Last Exit To Brooklyn.



Deron Williams will get to lead this team from start to finish this season.  He started by leading Net scorers Monday night with twenty-three points and nine assists.  If the season's first game was any indication, then the Nets had better do everything possible to entice him to stay and move with the team to Brooklyn. 



That's going to be hard as they failed to pry Dwight Howard from Orlando in a timely manner.  There was a lot hanging on acquiring the premiere center.  There still is.  Then things took a turn for the worse.  Brook Lopez got injured and will miss substantial time.  His injury effectively sabotages any deal now.  Plan B made the Nets tap out this season's available salary cap space as well.  So it's safe to say the Nets are already fighting an uphill battle entering their last season in New Jersey. 



And what of New Jersey?  How will a soon to be disenfranchised fan-base react knowing full well tonight's home-court Opening Game in New Jersey is their last?   Will apathy rule the night?  Or will they embrace the team one last time?



And then there's the strangely hilarious situation with Chris Humphries.  If he played Vaudeville back in the day, he'd have been covered with rotten vegetables and fruit by now.  What's the deal with all the booing?  This is hysterical!  Sorry Dude, but that's what happens when you jump from your arena and into the world of Reality TV and Kim Kardashian's arena of expertise. Stick to what you do best; rebounding basketballs.



As boos rained down upon him again, this time Chris Humphries did just that.  The Nets' first regular season game was played in the Nation's capital Monday where the Nets defeated the Wizards 90-84 in front of a personally hostile crowd for Chris.  The former Mr. Kardashian allied with Deron Williams and scored twenty-one points and brought down sixteen rebounds.  Keep doing that and they can boo all they want Kid.



Entering tonight's game against the Atlanta Hawks, the top story for me is the New Jersey crowd.  How will they receive their team tonight?



...And are they going to boo Chris Humphries tonight?  Can't wait to find out!




Barclays Center; Brooklyn


DECEMBER 2010









DECEMBER - 2011













Mike.BTB

N.Y. Rangers ~ Blueshirts Now Tops in the Conference

From the desk of:   RAISE GRESCH WITH THE GREATS





NHL Leader; Goals Scored




NEW YORK RANGERS:  After Monday Night's Victory Over the Islanders, the Rangers Can Sleep Well as the Number One Team in the Eastern Conference.  What's More, They're Only Two Points Off the NHL Leader.


POST:  A look back at Don Maloney's work as VP of Player Personnel for the New York Rangers - 2000-2007.



A stat flashed on the Rangers/Islanders broadcast Monday night that confirmed what I long suspected; the New York SOFTIES lead the League in Fighting Majors with thirty.  Yeah Buddy!  Better yet, as of 9:30 p.m., the Rangers forty-eight points now rank them number one in the Eastern Conference.  Only the Chicago Blackhawks (50 points) stand between the Blueshirts and the overall NHL lead.



Monday's second victory over the Islanders within a three game span was their fifth win in a row.  This is the Rangers' third winning steak of at least five games.  After losing the first three games of the season, the Rangers have not dropped more than two in a row all season.



Monday night, Michael Del Zotto's defense was correct all night and he played particularly strong in the offensive zone.  His brilliant play continued with two more assists against the Islanders.  The 21 year old defenseman is now up to seventeen assists for the season and owns an outstanding plus-25 rating which ranks him second in the NHL.  I went to that last Flyers game at the Garden last Friday.  His play has been getting a lot of attention this season and deservedly so.  But trust me.  The TV cameras do him no justice.  I've been to four games this season.  What I saw in my first game this season from him back on November 5th was one player.  What I saw Friday night was stellar.



The good times keep rolling for Carl Hagelin.  He picked up his fifth and sixth goal since his call-up to the big club.  And with the way I saw John Mitchell skate around Friday night, as I said in a recent post, there's no way Sean Avery will be getting any playing time soon. 



The big goal of the night came from Marian Gaborik.  Not that it factored much in the game for it came on an empty-netter.  Rather, the goal was his NHL leading 22nd goal of the season.



The King; Henrik Lundqvist; in securing win number fourteen of the season recorded shut-out number three of the season, and career shut-out number thirty-seven.







MIke.BTB

N.Y. Giants ~ Paint the City Blue

From the desk of:   DO IT FOR THE DUKE










NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL:  G-Men Take Care of Business in The Jets' House of Blues.



SNOOPY BOWL - I

Giants  29
Jets      14


After a crushing loss to the Redskins, I pretty much left off thinking the Giants just better show up against the Jets and make the final showdown with Dallas matter otherwise there would be all kinds of hell to pay.  And as the game drew closer, I still found my team a little too confusing for me to predict anything heading into Week Sixteen.  So what I wound up doing was reverse engineering my way through last week's win over the Jets.  That's right.  My own team confused the bajabbers out of me, so I put myself in the Jets' shoes and figured things out that way.




Prior to game-day game, in  N.Y. Jets; A Clash for TITANS  -  I asked if Mark Sanchez was up to snuff heading into this game?  But I also asked if the two headed Offensive Coordinator Schotty-Moore can find the right plays to suit his touch?  The answer I gave on the first question was no; Sanchez wouldn't be up to snuff.  And we found out the answer to the second question as to whether the two-headed monster would dial up plays tailored for Sanchez was a resounding NO; with fifty-nine pass attempts and a total of eighty-nine futile plays from scrimmage piled up as evidence.




Then in N.Y. Giants - Eve of Frustration -  I said, even with a suspect (Giants') Secondary, I still dare Marc Sanchez to throw the ball.  And the more he throws the ball, the better the chances are the Giants win this game.  ....And so, I'm banking a quarterback still trying to get a firm footing in this league won't be able to carry the Jets on his back today.   And he didn't.  And by throwing the ball fifty-nine times, the Giants chances of winning sky-rocketed.




Ultimately in my weekly PIGSKIN picks I said,  I have no idea (who'd win the game).  Both teams have pluses and minuses that cancel each other out.  So when I put this game in the hands of the quarterbacks, I side with Eli.




Okay fellow Giant Fans, why so preoccupied with the Jets?  Well, because as I pointed out in N.Y. Jets - Living in a Big Blue World, how on the one hand the Giants did what they needed to in order to win, and on the other hand the Jets did everything possible to lose that game.  So as a Giants fan who now has his playoff aspirations on the line versus Dallas, I'm concerned by the fact as I just stated, the Jets did more to lose, than we did to win.




The Victor Cruz touchdown was a busted play amongst two Jet players.  The tackle should have been made.  And if the Jets hadn't veered so far off their game, I think it could have been a much different game.  On a day Eli Manning only completed nine of twenty-seven passes and threw an interception, and a day when the Giants Offense as a whole had thirty-four less plays from scrimmage than the Jets did, their quarterback failed to do better. 




As part of thirty inconsequential pass completions, Marc Sanchez' two interceptions were pass attempts into the abyss and deserved getting picked-off.  Marc Sanchez also held on to the ball way too long and gifted the Giants with at least two of their five sacks and a fumble (recovered).  A second fumble came off a bad snap with the Jets threatening from the two yard line.  That fumble kept the Jets off the board.  And a Giant sack of Sanchez in the end-zone conversely put points on the board for Big Blue.




WHAT THE GIANTS DID WRONG ON OFFENSE:




The number of three-and-out possessions is keeping almost every team in games.  The failure to consistently get first downs has resulted in the Giants losing the time of possession battles more frequently.  It's continually resulting in teams far surpassing us in plays from scrimmage.  That in turn lends itself to exposing the Defense.




Kevin Gilbride resorted to the same losing formula that waisted everyone's time during the Redskins game.  There was never an attempt to establish the run in the first half.  With numbers almost identical to the week prior, Gilbride called for eighteen passes and just seven running plays during a 10-3 first half.




Furthermore, I didn't agree with the reinsertion of David Baas at center.  I thought the combination of Kevin Boothe at Center, with Mitch Petrus and Chris Snee at the Guards was working very well.  With David Baas at Center, the middle of the Line has been closed to the running game.  Saturday's game was no different.  Except for one big rush Ahmad Bradshaw busted off Center, all the Giants success came running off the Tackles.  Ahmad Bradshaw and D.J. Ware found daylight running between Chris Snee and Kareem McKenzie.  Brandon Jacobs found his daylight running off David Diehl. Throughout the first half however, Kevin Gilbride insisted on running up the middle when it clearly wasn't there.




WHAT THE GIANTS DID RIGHT ON OFFENSE:




For starters, Kevin Gilbride finally turned to the run once he found out Eli was going to have a bad day.  After the first half, the running game turned up the heat.  The trio of Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, and D.J. Ware combined on twenty-five rushes and 116 yards.  Two of the three Giants touchdowns came on the ground.  And Bradshaw should be given a special mention for running with power.  The final splits between plays were twenty-seven passes, and twenty five running plays.




The Giants may have only had fifty-five plays from scrimmage, but they still averaged over six yards per play.  Thank Victor Cruz for that.  He had a 99 yard touchdown grab that padded the stats.  But he also became a Giants record breaker.  The day was also a measure of satisfaction after a week of verbal jousting with Darelle Revis.




And well, whether I disagree or not, with David Baas, the Offensive Line gains a measure of depth again.




WHAT THE DEFENSE DID WRONG:




For the second straight week, the Defense took a too-many-men-on-the-field penalty.  This week's directly led to the Jets' first touchdown of the day.




In dire need of a defensive stop with 8:13 left in the fourth quarter, after just trucking over Marc Sanchez on a first and ten play, second and twenty became third and twelve, which became a first and goal after a Giant penalty.  Sanchez ran a bootleg in for a touchdown.




Lastly, the Jets running game was building steam until they got derailed by their own coach.




That concludes a very short list.  That can only mean good news.




WHAT THE GIANTS DID RIGHT ON DEFENSE:




For having a quarterback throw the ball fifty-nine times with thirty completions, and for a team that ran eighty-nine plays and held the ball for thirty-six minutes, the Giants defense limited to the Jets to 331 total yards for the day.  The Secondary didn't get lit-up, and instead intercepted Sanchez twice.




The Giants' Pass Rush made it's triumphant return to dominance sacking Mark Sanchez five times for a loss of thirty-two yards.  The pass rush also caused the Jets' Center to mis-snap the ball in haste causing a fumble at the Giants' two yard line which the Giants recovered.




The Defense also scored two points with a Safety against Sanchez which pretty much ended the Jets' last stand.  Chris Canty was the one who got a hold of Sanchez.  And thus closed out the game for the Giants in a formidable manner.




Perry Fewell's unit did their job well Saturday considering the amount of time they spent on the field as the offense could only generate first downs at a 26% clip.





RELATED POSTS:

N.Y. Jets - A Clach for TITANS
N.Y. Jets - Living in a Big Blue World

N.Y. Giants - Eve of Frustration. But For Who?






Mike.BTB

Monday, December 26, 2011

N.Y. Knicks ~ MELO Flavored Drops

From the desk of:   DUTCH PANTS CAN'T JUMP





NEW YORK KNICKS:  Melo Dropped Seventeen 4th Quarter Buckets to DEE-FEAT the Celtics.



The Knicks first victory of the season is out of the way.  Hallelujah to that.  But game one of a sixty-six game test of endurance did not come without it's first casualty.  As if the Knicks didn't already have enough troubles at point guard, add one more.  Iman Shumpert will be out between two to four weeks.   It's a good thing they are going with the quantity over quality method at the point.  Who ever is next in line, it's time to step up.



Giving up 104 points to the Celtics who played without Paul Pierce wasn't the picture perfect way to inaugurate the newest Knicks era.  During the second and third quarters of the game, the Dee-Fence disappeared.  And during the third period with Melo on the bench, so did the offense; as well as their double digit lead.  They tightened things up in the fourth quarter while Melo dropped seventeen points to bail them out.



Did you catch that?  After just the first game of the season, we got a tease of what life with Melo, and what life without Melo can be like.  With Melo on the bench in the third period, the Knicks were one team.  When he returned in the fourth quarter, they were another.  I think it's safe to read into that.  With only two pre-season games, it's safe to read into anything.



The Knicks have a lot to learn about Dee-Fence to say the least.  The guy they brought in to spear-head that effort was taken out by his own man in the closing moment of the game.  That nearly cost the Knicks an opening day win at the Garden because a younger Kevin Garnett with fresher legs  makes that last second shot.  If I find it ironic the game ended on a Kevin Garnett missed shot, it's not because the image of him draining a big bucket against us last year in the playoffs still lingers. Instead it's because Garnett was able to put up a wide open mid-range jumper from the right side because Tyson Chandler got needlessly picked by his own man.



Would the League's rules prohibit Tyson Chandler from wearing a whistle while he's trying to teach his team mates Dee-Fence on the fly?




**Knicks mural; Tick Tock Diner, NYC

Mike.BTB

N.Y. Rangers ~ Islanders; The Rivalry - IV

From the desk of:   RAISE GRESCH WITH THE GREATS








Game I; 4-2 Isles
Game II; 4-2 NYR
Game III; 4-2 NYR


THE RIVALRY - IV

New York Islanders
vs.
NEW YORK RANGERS

From
33rd STREET at 7th AVENUE
NYC




NEW YORK RANGERS:   The View From the Top is Nice.


Rewind your mind to the Lock-Out of 2004-2005; - With a salary cap in place, Hockey's new working model now demanded GM Glen Sather rededicate efforts into drafting talent in leu of an incoherent plan to buy-up the NHL's meat by-products.


Before Glen Sather took charge of Tex's Rangers in 2000, ex-Ranger favorite; Don Maloney; was hired by the prior regime as an Assistant General Manager.  Upon Glen Sather's arrival, he promptly tacked-on Vice President of Player Personnel to Don Maloney's job description.  From 1997, when Maloney was originally hired by the organization, through 2004-05; the year of the Lock-Out; hindsight says his work went largely unnoticed and rendered ineffectual because Hockey operations were still largely overshadowed by Glen Sather's joy for spending Dolan Dollars.


But looking back, Don Maloney's entire body of work as a Rangers' exec deserves a closer look.  The best he and Glen Sather collaborated to bring to 7th Avenue was a team anchored by a pre-lockout star whom the League (namely Washington) could no longer afford; save the Rangers and Glen Sather that is.  That player; Joramir Jagr; would get surrounded with the new-millennium's version of the 'ol Smurfs; something the Ranger fans had grown accustomed to since the 80's.  Youngsters like Domenic Moore, Ryan Hollweg; Petr Prucha; Jed Ortmeyer; etc; etc, drafted prior to the work stoppage were mere fleas on Jagr's posterior when the NHL returned.  Teamed with Glen Sather's other acquisitions such as Straka; Nylander; Avery; etc.; the 2006 Rangers-Lite reached the playoffs for the first time since 1997; - three years before Sather assumed office.  But all Maloney and Sather ever achieved together was being the best of the also-rans.  Tom Renney was Head Coach of the post lockout Rangers then.  Under him, the Rangers played their way into a playoff team but they only made it to the second round once.


In 2007, Don Maloney left to become the Phoenix Coyotes' main man under owner Wayne Gretzky.  But before he did, Maloney left behind a Swedish goalie named Henrik Lundqvist whom he drafted in 2000.  In 2004, he drafted Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan.  In 2005 he drafted Marc Staal.  In 2006, after a long and winding road for another Rangers' defenseman which dates back to the year 2001, Maloney signed an un-drafted Dan Girardi.


In February of 2009 John Tortorella was hired to replace Tom Renney as Head Coach of the New York Rangers Hockey Club.  At once he recognized the Rangers still needed more changes and a different direction than the one forced on Glen Sather by the lockout.  His first move was to destroy the New York Rangers Hockey Club, and began post-haste, cultivating A Team.


He surveyed the Land of the Lost, and discovered a few scattered rough, uncut gems back in Maloney's old laboratory. And at once said, these guys were going to be the nucleus of his vision for the Rangers.  John Tortorella made it very clear since day one, Henrik would be King; and that Dubinsky, Staal, and Callahan would be the foundation on which to build a new team around.  He also recognized the very, very, rough potential in Dan Girardi; just like Maloney once did.


Where there's one, there's usually more.  So John Tortorella scoured the lab further.  He found Artem Anisimov drafted in 2006; and found Michael Sauer, drafted in 2005.


A wise hire by Glen Sather, Gordie Clark (and Jeff Gordon) assumed Player Personnel duties after Maloney left.  Among the current players on the ice, he drafted Carl Hagelin in 2007; Michael Del Zotto and Derek Stepan in 2008.


Back to Glen Sather, he swung mightily and missed with Scott Gomez.  He swung mightily again with Chris Drury, and you betcha..., missed again.  However the GM saved face by remarkably trading Gomez' contract to Montreal in exchange for a package that brought us Montreal's first round pick; Ryan McDonagh.  And make no mistake about the Brad Richards signing, he used to be one of Tort's guys back in Tampa.  Acquiring Richards was no great feat of GM'ology; not if we're talking about Glen Sather.




To this day, I still maintain John Tortorella exerts far more influence over Glen Sather than we are led to believe.  And who is Glen Sather to question John Tortorella's input.  Of course there's loose ends to this story.  But under Glen Sather, Don Maloney, Tom Renney, and going back to *1997 and *2000, can someone tell me when was the first or last time the Rangers were a legitimate first place team.




Under Glen Sather, the fact that so many young players were allowed to remain together, and are now flourishing is in itself a Miracle on 33rd Street.  I know who to thank, and it ain't Santa Clause.  And he's far from being a Saint.


 


As of December 26, 2001 - 3:00 p.m.


ATLANTIC DIVISION STANDINGS:

1) - NEW YORK RANGERS    21-8-4   46 Points
2) - Philadelphia FLYERS    21-9-4   46 Points
3) - Pittsburgh......................20-11-4   44 Points
4) - DEVILS..........................9-14-1    39 Points
5) - ISLANDERS...................11-16-6    28 Points



 
The view from the top is nice.




 

Mike.BTB

N.Y. Jets ~ Living in a Big Blue Town

From the desk of:   DO IT FOR THE DUKE  D-GENERATION REX








 
NEW YORK JETS:   The Aftermath; Through the Eyes of a Giant Fan.



It's not easy being Gang Green.  Saturday's woeful loss will be pondered till Spring.  This loss was black; grey; bleak; dark; and many more sinister and colorful descriptive words like that....



That was the extent of my fun.  I am a Giants Fan just so you know.  In light of Rex Ryan's Super Bowl aspirations; and his Big Brother/Little Brother jive; and This is a Jets Town nonsense; and even his on-field exchange with Brandon Jacobs; and faced with the temptation to completely lambaste Rex the charlatan and the sycophants who picked up on his mantra and ran with it, I respectfully pass the opportunity to amuse myself even with so much material to work with.  I actually like Rex.  He's refreshing.  And I don't particularly enjoy watching him have to worm away from something he might have said.



I'll just say this.  To a man, Saturday's game was a lesson in humility.  One team's Head Coach needs some.  The other team's Head Coach preaches it.  Yet both are good coaches.  Maybe I'm out of context - in that perhaps what I choose to instill in my son, shouldn't apply to football players or coaches.  So on a Fan level then, I guess I'm talking to some of you.  I'm trying to run a semi-clean shop here; save for the sporadic light yet loose language.  So I think this is as far as I'll go with this inner-city Giants/Jets rivalry amongst US fans.



Let's talk football.  That I can do very fairly.  Because if left to talk about what only really amounts to a few of you, I'd lose a level of decorum I try to maintain here.



*     *     *     *     *



For here's the reality of the situation.  The Giants did what they needed to do in order to win.  But the Jets did everything possible to lose.  Credit ten penalties, three turnovers, and an Offensive Line that allowed Sanchez to get sacked five times for aiding and abetting an embarrassing loss.  That's what should be near the top of every Jet Fan's short lists regarding what went wrong Saturday afternoon.



Then there are two matters specifically that should top the list.  Two things failed the Jets miserably Saturday.  First, someone came up with a horrible offensive game plan.  And secondly, that same  person failed to realize his plan was a hot mess, while also failing to revert to what the Jets do best in recognition of that fact.  Why on earth did Coach Schotty get as far away from the running game as he did and ask Marc Sanchez to throw the ball fifty-nine times?  I know Jet Fans wanted their Offensive Coordinator to ease up on Sanchez' leash.  But what Schotty designed Saturday was no doubt the capstone on his body of work as the Jets' offensive play caller.  For surely once the off-season descends upon Jet-Life Stadium, his work here is done.



The Jets Defense held the Giants to fifty-nine plays from scrimmage.  The Defense gave Brian Schottenheimer every opportunity to possess the ball for thirty-six minutes and run eighty-nine plays from scrimmage.  Yet the Giants ended the day with 332 total yards while the Jets came in at 331 total yards from scrimmage.  That's a bizarre stat by any stretch.



Coach Schottenheimer took a page right out of Kevin Gilbride's playbook.  He asked Marc Sanchez to throw fifty-nine times (which is obscene even by Gilbride's standards) and only called on Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson nineteen times.  Together they gained eighty-seven yards and averaged 4.95 yards per carry.  In a game that remained 10-3 up until the Giants scored with 0:13 left in the third quarter, there was no reason to drop Sanchez pack to pass time and time again; not when the Offensive Line couldn't protect him; and certainly not after showing success running the ball. 



Only after having said all that should you Jet Fans admit that quite simply, Marc Sanchez was not up to the task.  He started out strong and finished badly.  At times it seemed as if he was throwing the ball into the twilight zone.  Marc Sanchez got sacked five times.  On two of those however, Marc had receivers open and pumped, but held on to the ball way too long causing a sack.  Then there is the math of his game. Yes, he threw up fifty-nine passes.  He completed thirty of them, but for only 258 yards?  Is that all thirty completions get you these days?  Look at the Offensive Coordinator for an answer to that.  To say his play calling was suspect is being kind.  And lest we forget the Jets' first touchdown came as a result of the Giants having twelve men on the field which kept the Jets' drive going.



But don't go dumping on Sanchez too badly.  There was a much better way to attack the Giants Defense.  And in coaches speak, Schotty didn't put his quarterback, or his offense, in a position to win.









Mike.BTB

Sunday, December 25, 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS





 
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On behalf of my Family and I,
We wish you and yours,


 


MERRY CHRISTMAS




 


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Mike.BTB

N.Y. Rangers ~ The Blueshirts Have Arrived

From the desk of:   RAISE GRESCH WITH THE GREATS




NEW YORK RANGERS:  The Blueshirts Seize a Share of First Place.  Their Methodical Climb Through the Standings Validates Three Years of Building.



Make that five consecutive games and counting in which Coach Torts banished Sean Avery to the  Island of healthy yet Misfit Scratches.  It's a shame too.  The maligned forward has been as composed, and has played as effectively in his minimal ice-time this season, than he has in all his time here.



I still believe there is a role for this player and that he can serve a team well if he comports himself.  And this year, he has.  But I now know that role will never be with the Rangers; not anymore.  It's clear there is no role for him here.  After spending much time defending and championing Sean Avery's plight, I now understand he never stands a chance of playing meaningful minutes for the New York Rangers ever again, only unless some most unfortunate calamity should befall the Rangers.  And even then, there's a question as to whether Coach Torts would turn to him..



The list of players Sean Avery must now climb over in order to receive any meaningful ice-time is starting to cast a rather lengthy shadow on his Ranger career...again.  The first time was because he was still largely out of control and seething with internal anger.  He proved too damaging to the team building concept.  Most of all, he never stood a chance under Coach Torts.  So, he was shipped off to Dallas.  Glen Sather brought him back for a second run of the off-Broadway drama after another disappointingly meek exit from the playoffs and because Avery came at a cheaper price this time.  Then just before this season got started, Coach blind-sided Avery with a demotion to Connecticut.  Coach Torts flatly stated at the time, the organization simply had better players than Sean Avery.  That rang very hollow with Ranger Fans. 



Sometime before 10:00 p.m. on the evening of December 23, 2011, the Head Coach of the New York Rangers stood triumphantly on the bench behind his team fully justified in his stance, and totally correct in his conviction.  Alas, the Coach has been proven right and that should be duly noted.



The mountain Avery must climb for ice-time features the most obvious forwards; Richards; Callahan; Dubinsky; Boyle; Gaborik; Fedotenko; Prust; and Rupp.  Young players like Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov have already skated light years ahead of Avery on the pecking order.  And here's where the Rangers' reconstruction effort has made Sean Avery a relic in the new Madison Square Garden - the Rangers' pipeline from Connecticut is flowing at full force now.  It just pumped out another player like Carl Hagelin.  And another pick-up like John Mitchell stepped in and played tough, smart, disciplined, complimentary hockey of late.  They come to play without the reputation which precedes a guy like Avery, and they arrive without all the baggage as well.  And we won't even speak of the need to maintain another defenseman because of the rash of injuries taking a heavy toll on the Rangers' back line.



For Sean Avery, anger management and a re-commitment to being an effective hockey player while dressed in a Blueshirt came too late in the Rangers' and John Tortorella's grand scheme of things.  Mood management  might have served him more wisely a few years ago.  A Sean Avery with a clearer mind back then could have made the whole difference in his career as a Ranger.  There still might be a team he can play very well for.  But due the Rangers' rebuilding effort, and the surging quality of hockey being played by too many young hungry and moldable players make it virtually impossible to throw Sean Avery valuable minutes out of compassion now.  I am an unabashed soldier in the Avery Army.  But the new young Rangers have passed him by.  Like Coach Torts said back in October, this team has better players than Sean Avery.



The teaching; the drilling; and the patience by the organization are all starting to pay off.  The methodical rise of the New York Rangers started with the nurturing of Ryan Callahan, Brian Dubinsky, Marc Staal; and Henrik Lundqvist.  Those are the four men Coach Torts defined as his Core. 



Artem Anisimov and the second wave of Derek Stepan, Michael Del Zotto, Ryan McDonagh, and Michael Sauer; are all coming together around that core.  Guys like Stu Bickel, Tim Erixon, and Anton Stralman, being led by Dan Girardi who is the grizzled young vet now, are making life without Marc Staal, Michael Sauer, and Steve Eminger possible.








On Christmas Eve, the New Young Rangers woke up tied for first place in the Atlantic Division.  They achieved that by resoundingly defeating the first place Philadelphia Flyers.  They scored first on a brilliant deflection by Derek Stepan and never looked back.  Then Ruslan Fedotenko scored again and the place roared with appreciation over what was transpiring on the ice.  Our boys were growing into men before our eyes.



Then the star showed up.  Marian Gaborik nailed his twenty first goal of the season.  A New York Ranger forward is leading the League in goals?  Yes.  How apropos is it that he should score his league topping goal on a night the Rangers secured a share of first place against a long standing rival, whom for many decades remained a more physical team than the Rangers. 



The Rangers' ascension to the top of the Atlantic Division started three years ago with a grass roots; down-home; honest, True Blue effort and a player named Ryan Callahan.  He himself is still a young player.  But as such, Coach Torts named him Captain this season of a very young team.  In the third period of Friday evening's game, the Rangers' Captain was set-up in front, right where he should have been.  He nailed home the Rangers fourth goal of the night, and put an exclamation point on a message received loud and clear by the Flyers. 



Led by their Captain, the New Young Rangers treated the crowd to a throwback classic night at the Garden.  They showed the Broad Street Bullies that whether by skills or fists, the new group playing the Garden these days isn't inclined to put up with any of their crap.  And for that, the Garden roared with appreciation like it did in the old days.



So no, ultimately, Sean Avery will be hard pressed to bring his old act to the newest off-Broadway hit.  That curtain has fallen.  Look no further than Friday night as to the reason why.





Mike.BTB