Team Giants


Giants - Cards
Game 1 preview

Sun Sept 11, 4:15 pm (FOX) - Arizona at Giants
Then and Now - Eli Manning - Kurt Warner.
Last year Giants fans got to see both Eli Manning and Kurt Warner play in the season opener, and this year will be the same except that now they play on different teams. Kurt Warner's supporting cast is much better than what he had last year with the Giants, and luckily for Eli Manning, so is his. The question is, did last year's Giants offensive line make these two quarterbacks look much the worse for playing behind them?
In the opener against the Eagles last year, Kurt Warner completed 16 of his 28 passes for 203 yards, and Manning completed 3 of his 9 for 66 yards, both under intense quarterback pressure. Neither quarterback threw a touchdown pass and Kurt Warner was already being criticized for holding the ball too long, focusing elsewhere, with the world collapsing around him. Last season Kurt Warner led the Giants to a 5-4 start before head coach Tom Coughlin pulled him in favor of Eli Manning. Manning went 1-6 on the year, his last game being the one win.
This will be an interesting matchup. Is Warner any where near as good as he used to be when he played for the Rams?
Is Manning the quarterback of the future for the Giants? We'll find out on Sunday.

Now and Then - Brandon Jacobs - Ron Dayne.
So you're pretty excited after watching Brandon Jacobs play in preseason right? After all, on his 37 attempts Jacobs picked up 164 yards and 1 touchdown for an average of 4.4 a carry. Well guess what? Last year, Ron Dayne picked up just about 100 more yards (263) on just 3 more attempts (40) for an average of 6.6 a carry, and he had 4 touchdowns.
In fact, on opening day last year, it was Ron Dayne who put the first points of the season up on the board for the Giants against the Eagles of all teams. That's right, after the extra point, the Giants held a 7-0 lead over the Eagles in their home opening game last season, The Eagles had to live with that all year. But this is not a Ron Dayne ra, ra, piece, although there will be plenty of Giants fans rooting for Dayne to do the same against the Eagles when they face him and Denver on Nov 20.
This is just a reminder not to put Brandon Jacobs in the 'hall of fame' just yet, even though you'll feel inclined to every time he picks up a 3rd and short for the first down. That was something Dayne never could do, as the Giants insisted on 'fitting the square peg in the round hole'.
BTW - For the extra curious out there, in this current preseason year, Ron Dayne still has the edge on Jacobs. He has 187 yards on 35 attempts for an average of 5.3 yards a carry, but no touchdowns.

Weak spots fixed?
Punt returns - If you watched the preseason games, you figured the Giants were in trouble in this area up until the last game when Mark Jones handled 7 with no trouble. His average last season of 6.7 yards on 34 returns put the Giants at 26th in the NFL. The Giants grabbed Chad Morton as soon as he became available. Although Chad was coming off an injury (torn right MCL) and had not played a preseason game, they liked his workout and his versatility. In six years, with various teams, Morton averaged 24 yards on kickoffs and 9 yards on punts. He also caught 48 passes for 419 yards, ran 88 times for 360 yards, and returned 2 kickoffs for touchdowns.
BTW - The Giants have not had a punt returned for a touchdown since Tiki Barber's 85-yard return against Dallas Oct. 18, 1999.

Tiki Barber.
Speaking of Barber, he's had such a low key preseason, you almost forgot what a weapon he is. He led the NFL last season with 2,096 yards from scrimmage. He's the Giants all-time leader in yardage with 12,842, including the franchise record of 6,927 yards on the ground. Barber has 41 rushing touchdowns and has a shot at passing the team leaders in that category, Rodney Hampton with 49, and and Joe Morris with 48.

Jeremy Shockey.
He's hoping they use him less for blocking and more the way he was used in his first year, as a streaking almost unstoppable force bursting past the defensive line. We hope so too, and that should happen with an improved offensive line.

Michael Strahan.
It's his 13th season in the NFL and he's coming off a torn pectoral muscle he suffered last season. Still, the six-time Pro Bowler says he's fine, feels quicker having lost 20 pounds, and he seemed to handle this preseason at least as well as any other -
two sacks, a forced fumble and interception. We believe him.
Behind Strahan, rookie cornerback Corey Webster led the Giants with 2 interceptions in the preseason and the Giants
last two opponents did not score a touchdown on offense. The Giants had 3 turnovers forced in the red zone, interceptions by safety Shaun Williams and cornerbacks Corey Webster and Will Allen. Safety Gibril Wilson, as a rookie, tied for the team lead with 3 interceptions last year. Will Peterson (knee) will play tomorrow, but may not start.

Special teams.
They had a very good preseason, and how often can you say that?
Coverage teams did their job. Kick returner Willie Ponder led the NFL in yards per attempt last year, and in preseason he had returns of 49 and 48 yards. The Giants believe Chad Morton is the answer for punt returns, and Jay Feely (9-for-9 in field goals and booming kickoffs) and punter Jeff Feagles were both extremely consistent and reliable.

Some thoughts - Things done right at last.
Last year I commented that the Giants frequently put themselves at risk by letting key players slip away without fielding adequate backups. Pete Mitchell - gone, so no catching tight end for a few years until Shockey. Morten Anderson - even his low kicker salary is too expensive so we blow some games and suffer for a few more years. Dan Campbell too expensive, and gone at the same time the offensive line was sinking away. Middle linebacker Mike Barrow, leading the team in tackles for three seasons, also too expensive - just let Nick Greisen with only five snaps on defense in 2003, do the same job, more suffering, etc.
This time the Giants actually plugged some holes. With changes to the offensive line, adding Jet Kareem McKenzie at right tackle and moving David Diehl back at guard, Eli Manning (or even Kurt Warner if he was still here) should have an extra tick to get off a pass. Manning might not even need the tick with the addition of Plaxico Burress. They finally allowed Ron Dayne to have his escape and picked up extra large rookie Brandon Jacobs for the short yardage job. Linebacker Antonio Pierce was added to plug the middle - stolen from Washington.
I like all this.

Some stats.
Kurt Warner ended preseason 28-for-38 (73.7 percent) for 303 yards.

So what's the deal for Sunday?
This is the first game of the season. Don't tell Tom Coughlin, or Dennis Green for that matter, but mistakes will be made on the field and that could turn this one. You could say that the most influential person on the field is the quarterback. Kurt Warner is a seasoned veteran who thrives on not making mistakes. Giant fans have seen Kurt play, and you know he'll hang onto the ball and take a severe beating rather than throw an interception. Kurt Warner was sacked 39 times in his 9 starts for the Giants (not all his fault).
Tom Coughlin rested Eli Manning, his injured pedigree quarterback, ( bruised elbow) for a full 2 weeks going into this game and that could really hurt in terms of execution. The new improved offensive line didn't look much improved as far as pass protection goes. They are still trying to jell. Eli Manning is basically a rookie quarterback with just a bit over two quarters of preseason playing time. It was encouraging that Manning used his limited playing time to toss 3 touchdown passes to each of his top receivers, Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer and David Tyree. The receivers did well even with lesser quarterbacks throwing to them. It's hard to shake off rust in the opener, but let's hope that Manning can pick up on that groove he had going.

Check out.
The Team Giants Store, and see some of the really unique items we put together. There's some items you certainly haven't seen elsewhere, and each sale helps out our site.

Last year when these teams played, Cards Bertrand Berry had 4 sacks playing against Kurt Warner, his current quarterback.
This is the third season in a row that Kurt Warner is playing in the Giants season opening game.
Giants are 45-30-5 on opening day.

Next Game
Sept 19 - New Orleans Saints at Giants Stadium 7:30 PM on ABC.
(Originally was Sept 18, Giants at New Orleans 1:00 PM - FOX.)

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