Sunday, September 28, 2014

N.Y. Giants: Coach McAdoo's Offense Pulling Themselves Together

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

2 - 2

NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL: The Houston Texans and D.C. Hogs gave Ben McAdoo's offense a ton of extra possessions.  Eli and the Boys cashed in.

The season started with 2 opening losses followed by 2 convincing victories.  In plain English, a 2-2 record wreaks of inconsistency.

But, as with most everything, the first quarter of Big Blue's season is a matter of perspective.  Two opening losses raised red flags.  A pair of follow-up victories meant adjustments and improvements were made.

I guess then, it is time to revisit the original question of - who are the 2014 Giants?

For most of the first 2 weeks Eli Manning was looking a lot like skiddish Eli.  With the emergence of Donnell, Eli looked like a Super Bowl MVP again.  There's the rub.

So much of Eli's previous success came with an effective tight end at his disposal.  In recent years, I sometimes found it difficult to assess which adversely affected Eli more - an ineffective offensive line, or lack of a quality tight end.  Yeah, the running game fits into this equation as well - but you get the gist.

Larry Donnell had a game - a good game - a hat trick.  Nice!  He had 6 catches against the Texans too.  Way to make the most of your chance kid.

But, Donnell obviously went un-drafted, was relegated to the practice squad, and was limited to special teams last year for a reason.

He's getting a chance because so many have come before him and failed to retain the job.  He's just the next in line.  If you think I'm being harsh..., that's football.  Plus, I probably haven't sufficiently forgotten about his fumble against the Texans.

However, I hope, like every other Giants fan, that Larry Donnell continues to make the most of this opportunity.

At the same time, I'm not trying to sell Eli short.  After an abysmal Week 1, and poor start to Week 2, he recovered, and has been on point since.  Eli played an excellent game against the Texans before Donnell jumped into the spotlight against the DC Hogs, and continued playing like Champion Eli through Week 4.

After Victor Cruz, Eli Manning's group of receivers still have much to prove though.  I'll leave it at that.

Coach McAdoo has quickly endeared himself to me (as if) over the last 2 weeks because we actually ran the ball noticeably more than Eli threw it.

For 2 weeks now, the offensive line, Rashad Jennings (and Andre Williams) have not disappointed. Behind the O-Line, Jennings rushed for 176 rushing yards against Houston, and the running game rushed for another 153 yards against the Hogs.

You can do that when you play with the lead.....

It's all symbiotic.

Let's see who they chose to be over the next quarter of the season.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

PIGSKIN 2014: Football Sunday - Week Four


Football Sunday
Week Four


Week 3 Record:  10-5
Overall Record:  23-19
Schmear of the Week:  2-1
BAGELS in the Basket:  +6

Coin Toss:
  • Every game is make or break for Rex Ryan.  But he really really needs this one against the Lions.
1st and 10:
  • Arizona is 3-0, and on a mission.
No Gain:
  • Fans in London attending the Dolphins/Raiders Toilet Bowl should boo them off the field before they even start.  Good day Sir!
3rd and Long:
  • Philly will not travel to the west coast and improve to 4-0.
  • Roger Goodell still has a job?

(Friday Line ~ NYDN)

Lions -1 1/2 (JETS)
Yeah, this is going to be real close.  At face value, I have to give the Lions the edge.
WIN - 24-17 Lions

Dolphins -4 (Raiders) *London, ENG
If the NFL insists on promoting itself in Europe, why send these scrubs?  The Raiders are scrubbier than the Fish.
WIN - 38-14 Dolphins

Packers -1 1/2 (BEARS)
I actually don't like this game.  Have a feeling "parity" is going to crash the party.
WIN - 38-17 Packers

Bills +3 (TEXANS)
What's up with the Texans?  They're feeling a little woozy - Bill should take advantage.
Loss - 23-17 Texans

COLTS -7 (Titans)
The Titans had me fooled for a week.
WIN - 41-17 Colts

RAVENS -3 (Panthers)
3 points for the home team. This game is obviously a risk. So, why do I smell a blowout?
WIN - 38-10 Ravens

STEELERS -7 1/2 (Bucs)
the Bucs suck.
Loss - 27-24 Bucs

CHARGERS -13 (Jaguars)
The Jaguars suck too.
WIN - 33-14 Chargers

49ERS -5 (Eagles)
A team like the Niners bounces back from a brutal defeat the week prior.
PUSH - 26-21 49ers

Falcons -3 (VIKINGS)
The Falcons should blow them out.
Loss- 41-28 Vikings

COWBOYS +3 (Saints)
Just because.....I'm counting on the Saints continued road woes to give the Cowboys false hope.
WIN - 38-17 Cowboys

Schmear of the Week:  (2-1)

Falcons -3

Got a pork shoulder seasoning over night - slappin' that bad boy in the oven tomorrow morning, serving with rice.  What's on your menu?

Good luck and have a Happy Football Sunday!

Week 4 Record:  7-3-1
Overall Record:  30-22-1
Schmear of the Week:  2-2
BAGELS in the Basket:  +6


Today For Rising Apple: Catching Up With #1 - Dominic Smith

Here's my latest for 

Senior Staff Writer/Rising Apple

Sunday, September 21, 2014

PIGSKIN 2014: Football Sunday- Week Three


Football Sunday
Week Three


Week Two Results:  6-8
Overall Record:  13-14
Schmear of the Week:  1-1
BAGELS in the Basket:  -1

(Friday Line ~ (NYDN)

Texans -2 1/2 (GIANTS)
Loss, 30-17 Giants

Chargers +2 1/2 (BILLS)
I like the Bolts coming off last week's victory over the Seahawks.
WIN, 22-10 Chargers

Cowboys -1 (RAMS)
This doesn't say much, therefore deserves no comment.
WIN, 34-31 Cowboys

EAGLES -6 1/2 (Hogs)
NFC East pecking order...
Loss, 37-34 Eagles

SAINTS -10 (Vikings)
Vikings have no running game.  Saints in the Dome - run with it.
WIN, 20-9 Saints

BENGALS -7 (Titans)
The Titans pissed me off last week.  But I'm liking the Bengals this season.
WIN, 33-7 Bengals

Ravens -1 1/2 (BROWNS)'s a Browns game = Murphy's Law.
WIN, 23-21 Ravens

LIONS -2 (Packers)
I don't like this game.  Just when you think the Lions got it together they disappoint like last week.
WIN, 19-7 Lions

Colts -6 1/2 (JAGUARS)
Smells like fool's gold.  Why shouldn't....
WIN, 44-17 Colts

PATRIOTS -14 (Raiders)
I remember Al Davis' Raiders of the 70's.  What a shame.
Loss, 16-9 Patriots

CARDINALS +3 (49ers)
A division slug fest.  Love this game.
WIN, 23-14 Cardinals

Broncos +5 (SEAHAWKS)
Just looking for the Broncos to cover on a hunch.
Loss, 26-20 Seahawks

Chiefs +4 (DOLPHINS)
Don't get me started.  There's a reason the Dolphins are only the 3rd favorite football team in Florida.
WIN, 34-15 Chiefs

PANTHERS -3 1/2 (Steelers)
Panthers lookin' good, and PITT is on the decline.
Loss, 37-19 Steelers

Schmear of the Week:
Colts -6 1/2

Killing 2 birds with one stone; it's empty the freezer day BBQ.   What's on your football menu?

Good luck and have a Happy Football Sunday!

Post Game:
Week 3 Record:  10-5
Overall Record:  23-19
Schmear of the Week:  2-1
BAGELS in the Basket:  +6


Sunday, September 14, 2014

N.Y. Giants: Big Blue Turnaround Not In Cards

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

Arizona Cardinals

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.


PIGSKIN 2014: Football Sunday - Week Two


Football Sunday
Week Two


Coin Toss:
  • The Raiders probably already regret signing their lease extension.
1st and 10:
  • Best bets: Bengals, Seahawks, Texans
No Gain:
  • It will be another long day for the Cowboys.
3rd and Long:
  • The commissioner is in deep shit.
  • Like I said, the commissioner is in deep shit.

Week One Record:  7-6
Overall Record:  7-6
Schmear of the Week:  0-1
BAGELS in the Basket:  -2

(Friday Line ~ NYDN)

Cardinals -1 (GIANTS)
The Cards were one of the best teams to not make the playoffs last season.  The Giants aren't ready for this.
WIN, 25-14 Cards

PACKERS -8 (Jets)
Can I see the Packers starting 0-2?  No.  Can I see the Jets starting 1-1?  Yes.
Loss, 31-24 Packers

Lions +2 1/2 (PANTHERS)
Hell yeah I'll take +2 1/2 with the Lions!  A definite risk worth taking.
Loss, 24-7 Panthers

Dolphins -1 (BILLS)
Someone has to lose this battle of Week 1 surprises.  Too early in the year for Buffalo's weather to impact a Miami team.
Loss, 29-10 Bills

*HOGS -6 (Jaguars)
The sun shines on a swine's posterior at least once a day too.
WIN, 41-10 Hogs

TITANS -3 1/2 (Cowboys)
...because the Cowboys are off to a ruinous season.
Loss, 26-10 Cowboys

Patriots -3 (VIKINGS)
I've been thinking about this too much.  That usually means stay away.
WIN, 30-7 Patriots

Saints -6 1/2 (BROWNS)
Last week, the Saints begged Atlanta to beat them,  Saints have always sucked on the road, but I'll try anyway.
Loss, 26-24 Browns

BENGALS -5 (Falcons)
See above.  The Bengals may have finally figured this thing out.
WIN, 24-10 Bengals

Rams +5 (BUCS)
...because it's chic to dump on the Bucs right now.
WIN, 19-17 Rams

Seahawks -5 (CHARGERS)
Interested to see how Phillip Rivers handles the LoB.
Loss, 30-21 Chargers

Texans -3 (RAIDERS)
I'd even be willing to go -5 on this one.
WIN, 30-14 Texans

BRONCOS -12 (Chiefs)
I have the Chiefs totally misjudged. Take Peyton Manning the favorite and lay the points at home.
Loss, 24-17 Broncos

49ERS -7 (Bears)
What a disappointment the Bears were last week.  I can't see them spoiling the 49ers stadium opener.
Loss, 28-10 Bears

Schmear of the Week: (0-1)
Texans -3

Buffalo shrimp and chicken wings PARM(!) with good ol' Coronas and lime.  What's on your Football menu?

Good luck and Happy Football Sunday everybody!

Post Game:
Week Two Record:  6-8
Overall Record:  13-14
Schmear of the Week: 1-1
BAGELS in the Basket:  -1


Thursday, September 11, 2014

N.Y. Mets: How Far Are We From Washington?

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

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 best.

First place Washington enters this evening's action 20-games above .500, while the Mets still remain 4-games below.

Although 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.


N.Y. Giants: Week One - The Ford Field Follies

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

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.

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.  

Welcome to 2014.


Always Remember: September 11, 2001

Monday, September 08, 2014

N.Y. Giants: Let The New Blue Experiment Begin

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

Week One

Detroit Lions
The Motor City

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.


Sunday, September 07, 2014

PIGSKIN 2014: Football Sunday ~ Week One


Week One

Coin Toss: 
  • 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.
No Gain:
  • 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

Monday Night:
Giants @ LIONS
Chargers @ CARDINALS

Saints -3

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!

Week One Record:  7-6
Schmear of the Week:  0-1
Bagels in the Basket:  -2


Saturday, September 06, 2014

Put Your Ears To The Tracks

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.

Clang - clang!  I'm comin' bitches!