Posts Tagged ‘washington redskins’

Unabated to the Quarterback: The NFC East

We’re taking a different route with our NFL preview this season. Eschewing typical predictions—those require some form of legitimate knowledge—we’re asking what each NFL team means. An NFL season is a research paper, and each team enters it with a thesis statement.

New York Giants (11-5)

Why Aren’t the Giants Any Better?

“Virtue is nothing but a just temper between propensities any one of which, if indulged to excess, becomes vice.” —Thomas Babington Macaulay

Our introductory question is perhaps a counterintuitive one, given how, you might remember, the Giants won the Super Bowl last season for the second time in five years. But New York was, by the basic measurements, the worst team to ever do so: Its 9-7 record was the worst by an eventual champion, and no team had ever advanced to the Super Bowl after accumulating a negative point differential during the regular season, let alone win one.

It is hard to reconcile, then, these two different Giants teams — the one that was so thoroughly mediocre during the regular season (they lost to the Redskins! Twice!) and the one that steamrolled the 15-1 Packers and edged the Niners and the Patriots in the playoffs. Which team are the Giants really?

The answer, and this has been true for some time, is frustratingly in the middle. The Giants are a flawed team capable of overcoming those flaws in short bursts but not, it seems, for sustained stretches.* They are the modern sports franchise that thrives when it is counted out: the embodiment of every “Nobody believed in us!” cliché. The us-against-the-world mentality seems particularly powerful in football, a sport so built on emotion and where wanting it more might actually mean something.

*The counter-argument you can make here is the first dozen games of 2008, when New York was 11-1.

On the other hand, the Giants would also be better served if the NFL were like the NBA, where mediocre regular seasons were routinely rewarded with playoff berths, so New York could coast from Weeks 1 to 17 and then do its thing each January.

People believe in the Giants again, which is precisely why they shouldn’t. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while sexually harassing Herman Cain back…

  • It’s about time someone explored why humans’ biggest potential foe is the octopus.
  • ESPN’s go-to SEC profiler Wright Thompson looks at one of the weekend’s big winners: Les Miles.

Unabated to the QB, Week 2: From Beast to Least

“A man is always a prey to his truths.”

–Albert Camus

NFC BEAST. That’s what we called it. The Redskins and Cowboys, Giants and Eagles. The SEC of the NFL. It wasn’t always the best division, but it was always in the conversation.

Year after year, all talk about teams from the NFC East had to be framed with the qualifier, “but in that division.” Sure, the Redskins are better, but in that division…. The Cowboys might be the best team in the NFC, but can they grab the top seed in that division? Every team in that division is just going to beat up on each other. It was, in short, the football equivalent of “in this economy.”

But this year? Through two weeks, the NFC East is looking more Least than Beast. The Eagles, Giants, and Redskins are 1-1; the Cowboys are 0-2. Their three combined wins are over the Lions, Panthers, and, well, the Cowboys. They have lost to the Texans and Bears and Packers at home and been embarrassed by the Colts on the road.

Now, I’m not saying it’s the worst division in football — the NFC West’s crown is secure; it’s just that the NFC East is not even close to being football’s best. The AFC East, North, and South are all better, the last of them proving it in non-conference matchups. The NFC North is better (two head-to-head wins already) and the South might be.

The Cowboys aren’t as good as the ignorant mainstream media expected, what with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett looking just as shaky as his offensive line and the secondary problems from last season re-emerging. The Eagles have made a strange, win-now decision to start Michael Vick over Kevin Kolb, negating everything they did in the past off-season. The Giants aren’t as good as some extrapolated from a not-that-impressive win over the not-at-all-impressive Panthers. And the Redskins are a holding call away from blowing two home games to start the season.

The four teams will continue to beat up on each other this year, but it won’t be because they’re all good.

Continue reading

Unabated to the QB, Week 13: The Saints Are Marching

“In truth the way matters but little; the will to arrive suffices.”

—Albert Camus

It took me awhile, but I knew I had already made this comparison. And I did it only three weeks ago:

The Saints remind me of a really good college football team at this point. They score a lot of points, so it’s no big deal if they come out flat and fall behind early. They play down to competition. Reggie Bush played well for them. Eventually, though, they’re gonna drop one of these.

Yes, on the final weekend of the college football regular season, with Texas and Cincinnati using last-minute scores to each win by a point and maintain undefeated seasons, I couldn’t help but think of New Orleans in college terms. If anything, the Saints have looked more and more like a college team as the season has progressed: They have a quarterback who is preternaturally accurate—one that makes several throws per game that simply cannot be defended. They have three running backs, none of whom are particularly good, but all of whom are good enough given the system they play in. They have a half-dozen viable wide receivers, all capable of making big plays at any time, even if they’re playing defense. Their offense relies more on speed than any other in the NFL; given adequate time, Drew Brees will find an open man.

Continue reading

Unabated to the QB, Week 11: In Defense of Ricky Williams

Over at Deadspin, Will Leitch recently made a list of people who had had a particularly bad decade, or as Leitch put it, “reputations that were devastated by the last 10 years.” This list included Ricky Williams.

That list no longer has any credibility.

Sure, when Ricky Williams graduated from Texas in 1998, he was college football’s all-time leading rusher—a mark that would be passed a year later by Ron Dayne, who really deserves to be on this list but isn’t. Williams entered the NFL with high expectations, generally because Mike Ditka moronically traded the entire draft and his professional dignity to land Williams in New Orleans. Although Williams hasn’t quite lived up to those expectations, he’s still been one of the best running backs of the decade; on Thursday night, he surpassed 7,500 rushing yards since 2000, which isn’t half-bad for someone who had an “awful decade.” Ron Dayne would certainly jump at the opportunity to double his career yardage.

Continue reading

Unabated to the QB, Week 9: The Halftime Report

Every time it seems to me that I’ve grasped the deep meaning of the world, it is its simplicity that always overwhelms me…. Everything simple is beyond us. What is blue, and how do we think “blue”?

—Albert Camus

Three seasons ago, the NFL peaked in terms of its own scheduling. Every team had enjoyed its bye week by Week 9 (hehe), meaning that there was a distinct midway point of the season by which everyone had played eight games.

The NFL, for some unknown reason, tinkered with its bye scheduling in the subsequent years, pushing some byes back later in the schedule. Thus, this year, while 30 of the 32 teams have already had their bye and have played eight games and can be totally compared at a kind of midway point, the Giants and Texans are 5-4 heading into their byes.

This does not, however, mean that we can’t still consider this halftime of the 2009 NFL season and the perfect time to look back at what I thought was going to happen, and what subsequently did not happen. We’ll hand out awards amidst some “Pats on the Back” and several “Yeah, about that…”s.

Continue reading

NFL Preview Bonanza: NFC East

DISCLAIMER: I will be particularly unfair and subjective in this divisional analysis.

NEW YORK GIANTS

Last Season: 12-4

This Season: 11-5, NFC #1

First of all, let’s chill out about the receiver situation. Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon are tenable NFL receivers. Especially when you complement them with the league’s best rushing attack—as much a product of the offensive line than Brandon Jacobs and, this season, Ahmad Bradshaw—and arguably its best defensive line. The Giants are, to me, the NFC team with the fewest unanswered questions, and that’s why everyone harps so much on the receiver one. The bigger question, though, is if Eli Manning can throw a football through wind. Because he hasn’t done that yet, and if he still can’t this year, I’ll be hoping Big Blue can go on the road in the playoffs again.

Tim’s favorite players in New York Giant history is…: You expect me to settle for one? I own jerseys of Rodney Hampton, Jason Sehorn, Tiki Barber, Jeremy Shockey, Michael Strahan, and Lawrence Taylor. If pressed to choose one player, I’d go with the greatest defensive player of all-time. If you give me more latitude, I’ll throw in Simms, Hampton, Tiki, Amani Toomer, Dave Meggett, Carl Banks, Pepper Johnson, Jesse Armstead, Matt Bahr, Jeff Feagles…

Greatest Ever? Greatest Ever.

Remember when Giant fans liked Tiki Barber? It seems so long ago. Back then, we thought he’d be a good broadcaster, too. We were so naïve.

And Sehorn? Now hold on. Sehorn was en route to stardom until he tore his ACL in that preseason game against the Jets in 1998. August 20, to be exact—the same night Mark McGwire hit two home runs (Nos. 50-51) in a doubleheader at Shea Stadium. If not for that injury—particularly devastating to a cornerback who didn’t have a lot of margin for error in terms of speed—Sehorn would have been a legit Pro Bowler.

A Great and Recent Giant Game: The Greatest from February 3, 2008. But let’s not forget other Great and Recent Giant Games, such as “Third Tynes the Charm,” the last regular-season game against the Broncos, 41-0, that other regular-season game against the Broncos, Mark Ingram! (or Scott Norwood!), and Matt Bahr!

Yeah, field goal kicking was important in 1990: Yes, yes it was.

Can we get that Montana hit? That might be the iconic hit on a quarterback.

Not Theismann? That’s just mean. (P.S. I still can’t watch that. It’s too painful. And I really dislike Joe Theismann!)

Can you say one thing bad about the Giants? Of course. But I won’t.

Not even about Tom Coughlin? You mean “The Debacler”? Nah, we’re cool now.

If the Giants were a historical event, they would be: The Treaty of Verdun. Charlemagne/Plaxico Burress’ responsibilities have been split up and delegated to several more individuals. How will the new leaders cooperate in response?

Did you know? I love the Giants.

Continue reading