Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Season turning into a Giant Mess for Big Blue


The season is seemingly on the brink for the New York Giants.

Monday's 24-10 loss to the Detroit Lions was an symbol of everything that is wrong with this football team. From terrible line play, to an inconsistent quarterback, to a wide receiver corps that was M.I.A. and a defense that looked overmatched against Matthew Stafferd, to say Monday night was a disaster is being kind.

Monday night was an abysmal failure. For a team that has Super Bowl dreams almost certainly puts that talk on the back burner, as all the focus now must go to Philadelphia, where the Giants must go and win a game just to avoid an 0-3 start.

Starting 0-2 is never good. Only 10 - 12 percent of teams that start 0-2 end up in the playoffs. Only the 2007 Giants started 0-2 and won the Super Bowl. Ironically, alumni from that Super Bowl winning team were in attendance Monday. Unfortunately that team didn't lose the first two games of their season as badly as this team has.

The problems for New York all started up front as Eli Manning was under siege  from the Lions pass rush all night long. Overall, Detroit sacked the veteran quarterback five times, and knocked him to the turf a dozen times. It was no fun, as four of those five sacks came in the first half. Whenever he tried to make a play, he couldn't without seeing a white jersey in his face.

But it was not like all of this was on the shoulders of the O-Line, because Manning didn't help his own cause. On the Giants first possession he was strip sacked by Haloti Nata. The Lions recovered for a touchdown, but luckily for Big Blue, the officials said Manning was down before he lost control of the ball. That was only the start.

Later in the first half after the Giants got a gift fumble by the Lions, Manning turned it right back to them when he overthrew Evan Engram and found Thair Whithead instead sitting back in coverage. The interception proved costly, the Lions scored their second touchdown of the night to take a lead they would never relinquish.

As for Stafford, he was absolutely brilliant for the Lions. In the first quarter, facing a third and nine at the Giants 38, he avoided the rush and scrambled for a 13-yard gain to move Detroit into the Giants Red Zone. Three plays later, Stafford hit Marvin Jones on a back-shoulder fade to the corner of the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown to give the Lions a 7-0 lead.

After the Manning interception, Stafford went to work again. He hit Eric Ebron for 11 yards to the Giant 11, and finally connected with Ebron once more for the go-ahead score to push Detroit in front 14-7.

Overall, Stafford finished 15 - of -22 for 122 yards, two touchdowns and 23 yards on three carries, but it felt like a lot more. That is how dominant he and this Lions offense was Monday against the Giants defense.

What made matters worse for the Giants is they had a chance to get back into this game on several occasions, but came up snake eyes each time. Midway through the third quarter, Manning had Big Blue on the Lions one-yard line, but an offensive holding call pushed them back 10-yards to the 11. The Giants couldn't do anything. They would get to the two yard line on a Manning pass to Engram before the deciding to go for it on fourth and goal. The decision was a horrible mistake by Ben McAdoo. The Giants were called for delay of game, and forced back five yards, and had to settle for the field goal to cut the deficit to 17-10.

The poor execution wouldn't stop there. In the fourth quarter, Manning had a wide open Brandon Marshall down the sideline, but the receiver dropped the football on second and eight. The Giants were forced to punt returner Jamal Agnew, who made them pay with an 88-yard return for a touchdown to blow the game open at 24-10.

Perhaps it was fitting, on a night when Odell Beckham made his return to the lineup that he would pick up right where he left off in Green Bay last January. With the Giants trying once more to mount some kind of comeback, it was Beckham who dropped a huge fourth down pass at the Detroit 29 that sealed the Giants fate.

After an off-season where fans boasted about the Giants depth at receiver, Beckham had only four catches for 36 yards in his season debut. Marshall had only one catch and was invisible for the entire game for the second straight week. Sterling Shepard (2 catches, 23 yards) and Evan Engram (4 catches, 49 yards) were also invisible for the second straight game.

Let us not forget that the Giants running attack was also invisible. Thanks to Big Blue's putrid offensive line, the Giants averaged only 3.4 yards a carry on Monday for a grand total of 62 yards on 18 carries COMBINED!  By comparison, Detroit's Ameer Abdullah ran for 86 yards on 17 carries all by himself.

With no help on the offensive line, Eli Manning looking old, and a collection of talent not gelling the temperature is going up on GM Jerry Reese and head coach Ben McAdoo. Guess, the Jets won't be the only team in New York that will suck this football season.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Open Mike's 2017 NFL Week 2 Picks

Well, week 2 of the NFL season is now upon us. In case you are wondering, teams that start 0-2 have a 10 - 12 percent chance of getting to the playoffs. In other words this is a huge week for a number of teams including the New York Giants. Will they win? Check out the picks in the video below!

Last Weeks Picks: 4 - 2 .667.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Without Odell, Giants Offense Has No Bite in Big D


Odell Beckham's ankle problem turned into a nagging problem for the Giants Sunday in their 19-3 loss to the Cowboys in Big D. The Giants were lifeless. There was no zest, no power, seemingly no motivation on the field Sunday, and that is as much of an indictment of the players on the field as it is the head coach. No one player should make or break a football team, especially at wide receiver; but Sunday's loss made it abundantly clear that the Giants can't function without their flamboyant superstar.

For the entire first half the Giants did nothing, and I mean literally nothing offensively. In five offensive possessions in the first half, the Giants punted four times. Their longest drive of the half was only 23 yards, with the biggest play being a busted screen from Eli Manning to Sterling Shepherd for a gain of 12 yards and first down. By the way, the Giants didn't get a first down until midway through the second quarter.

The only time the Giants resembled anything of a competent offense was at the start of the third quarter on a long, time consuming drive that ate up 10 minutes of clock just for a field goal. Perhaps Ben McAdoo should have gone for it on fourth and goal at the Dallas seven, he had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Instead he showed little confidence in his veteran quarterback and even less confidence in the skill players around Eli Manning. Taking the three was a cheap way of getting points while your desperate.

By the time the game ended, the Giants recorded only 13 first downs, 233 yards of total offense, and averaged 4.4 yards per play. That just won't get it done in a league predicated on throwing the football for huge chunks of yards.

The offensive line which was a big concern coming into the season for the Giants remained so in Week 1. They gave Eli Manning absolutely no time to set up and throw. Manning spent a big chunk of the night on the turf. He was sacked three times, and was hit and dropped to the ground eight other times. Overall Manning threw for a measly 220 yards and a costly interception that sealed his teams fate in the fourth quarter.

Not to mention Manning couldn't get on the same page with any of his receivers. Brandon Marshall was held without a catch until the next-to-last play of the game with 25 seconds to go. Tight end Evan Engram had only four catches for 44 yards, and Sterling Shepherd had only 44 yards on seven catches. And this is supposed to be a dynamic offense? This is supposed to be the Giants version of the "Greatest Show on Turf"? The Giants were so bad offensively they made the Jets look good. That's hard to do.

As for Dallas they crushed the Giants in every facet of the game. Offensively the Cowboys whipped the Giants defense with a total of 71 plays, most of which came in the first half. While the Cowboys didn't get the ball into the end zone much, they held the football for nearly 35 minutes and rolled up 392 yards of offense and 22 first downs. It helped that Dallas was 8-of-15 on third down conversions as well.

Ezekiel Elliott, who is still facing a possible suspension for his role in a domestic abuse case, ripped apart the Giants exhausted front seven for 104 yards on 24 carries. Quarterback Dak Prescott wasn't great, but was efficient, throwing for 268 yards and a touchdown. Jason Witten even got into the record books at the Giants expense when he passed Michael Irvin for the most yards by a receiver in Dallas Cowboys history.

It is anyone's guess had Odell Beckham been healthy, this game would have been different. The Cowboys played very defensively against the Giants. It's not like Big Blue didn't have playmakers. But without their biggest star on the field the Giants seemingly had no shot on Sunday. Beckham's status for next Monday's home opener against Detroit remains a puzzle. The fact is the Giants need him and they need him badly.

Jets Listless, Clueless in Loss to Bills

BILLS 21 - JETS 12 

To say it wasn't pretty would be considered an understatement. While expectations are indeed at an all time low for the New York Jets, their 21-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills did little to endear any confidence that this team can best those expectations. In fact, Sunday's loss confirmed a disturbing truth, the Jets are deficient just about everywhere on the field. From the defensive front, to the offensive line, running game, quarterback, and even the head coach, the Jets have a big problem. Call it a rebuild, but this team needs a lot more work than potentially just drafting Sam Darnold next spring.

Let's break it down:

LeSean McCoy and Mike Tolbert Killed the Jets: The Bills running back tandem of LeSean McCoy and Mike Tolbert were an unstoppable force on Sunday. McCoy gashed the Jets for 110 yards on 22 carries, and had another 49 yards receiving. He had four plays that went for 20-yards or more, including a 27-yard run that helped set up the Bills third touchdown of the day to make it 21-12. As for Tolbert, it seemed that every time he hit the line, he was pushing the pile for three yards or more. Overall the former Panther carried the rock 12 times for 42 yards with a touchdown.

This was an embarrassment for the Jets, because they came into the opener touting how good their front seven would be. Instead they were getting blown off their blocks by the Buffalo offensive line, and whenever they were in position to make a play on McCoy he sidestepped one way to move tacklers away from him.

Successful Run Game Sets Up the Pass with Tyrod Taylor: With McCoy and Tolbert toying with the Jets front seven, Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor had a fine day. He was able to use his legs on numerous occasions to get himself out of trouble to make big play after big play. Nobody is going to confuse Taylor with Michael Vick or Doug Flutie, but it felt Flutie-lite on Sunday in Buffalo. Perhaps Taylor's biggest throw of the day came in the third quarter when he hit Jordan Matthews for 47 yards to the Jets 17 yard line, which set up Buffalo's second touchdown to push the lead to 14-6.

Stupid Jets Tricks: If you want a microcosm of how bad the Jets could be this year, look no further than the Justin Burris interception of Taylor in the end zone. With Buffalo poised to strike early, Taylor's pass was batted into the air and picked up by Burris in the back of the end zone. The safety brought it out untouched and it appeared he had the blocking to go the distance for 108-yard pick-6, but leave it to the Jets to screw it up. At midfield, Burris was tackled ... by his own man, Demario Davis who fell into him. The pick was a blown chance, because the Jets offense proceeded to go three-and-out on the ensuing possession.

Josh McCown wasn't Good Enough: This was the first time all year that Jets fans had a chance to see Josh McCown for an extended period of time. He wasn't spectacular, but he wasn't awful either. He completed 26 of 39 passes, but threw for only 187 yards, meaning that most of his reads were check-downs. That could mean a few things 1) the Jets don't trust McCown's deep ball. 2) The Jets don't feel that McCown is on the same page with newcomers Jeremy Kerley and Jermain Kearse enough to allow the deep throw. Either way, McCown's efforts were not enough. You get the sense when he is under center it is either field goal or bust for this offense.

Jets Best Offensive Player? It had to be Jermaine Kearse. He made a number of tough catches and converted a couple of key first downs to keep the chains moving. Overall Kearse had seven catches for 59 yards in his Jets debut. He is going to be the Jets leading receiver this year with Quincy Enunwa out for the year.

Todd Bowles Hot Seat: Let's just call it warm. While Bowles is getting a raw deal here by Woody Johnson, he didn't do much to make anyone believe that he should be the longterm head coach. The worst in-game decision he made came late in the fourth quarter with New York trailing 21-12 and facing a fourth and eight at midfield. Instead of going for it with four minutes to go in the game, Bowles elected to punt. That is about as close to waving a white flag as there is in the NFL.

Moreover, a story leaked out that Bowles benched back-up Bryce Petty, and only dressed Christian Hackenberg as McCown's back-up on Sunday. This was a curious move, considering Petty clearly outplayed Hackenberg all pre-season. Moves like this make you wonder who is running the show. Is it Bowles? Or is Bowles taking order from GM Mike Maccagnan, who wants to prove his pick of Hackenberg in the second round two years ago wasn't a total waste? Only those two men know.

Next Up: The Jets head to Oakland to face Derek Carr and the Raiders. Let's give the Jets a 10-point head start. They'll need it. Oakland could easily hit 50 points next Sunday if the Jets defense plays as poorly as they did Sunday in Buffalo.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Open Mike's 2017 NFL Week 1 Picks

Ah! The football season has finally arrived. Maybe someone should tell that to the Patriots after last night's 42-27 debacle? With the season underway this weekend, it is time to get back into the prognosticating business. Let's take a look at some of this week's key games!

Jets @ Bills (-8.5) - A battle between two of the NFL's worst teams, and two teams that are clearly rebuilding. The Jets have no idea who their quarterback will be, even though they have settled on journeyman Josh "2-20 as a starter" McCown. The Bills are stuck with Tyrod "interception" Taylor, who was battling his own injuries of late. It says a lot when the Bills probably would be better off with back-up quarterback Nate Peterman who lit it up in training camp. In fact it says a lot more that the Jets would be better off with Bryce Petty, who is the third quarterback on their depth chart. The battle between Bills running back LeSean McCoy and the Jets front seven will be the key to the game. If the Jets can slow down McCoy and generate some push up front, they can keep this close. Yes, the Jets are bad, but I think they'll be competitive. BILLS 24, JETS 20. 

Falcons (-6.5) @ Bears - Will the Super Bowl hangover carry over into a tricky Week 1 game at the Bears? That is the question the Falcons face this Sunday. Atlanta should have won that Super Bowl, we get it, but they did everything they could to blow a 25-point lead. The Falcons return much the same team from last year. The key is to jump out early and often on a rebuilding Bears team. The Bears are pinning their hopes that quarterback Mike Glennon can hold the fort with a bad supporting cast. It won't be long before rookie Mitchell Trubisky becomes the starter however. Like the Falcons here. FALCONS 31, BEARS 21.

Ravens @ Bengals (-3) - These two teams meet in Week 1 and Week 17 this year and I promise you both games could wind up determining a wild card slot this season out of the AFC North. The Ravens were banged up this summer, but are getting healthy. Joe Flacco returns from a summer long back injury, while receiver Breshard Perriman and running back Danny Woodhead also return for the opener. The only issue is that Flacco didn't have any preseason work, and it is anyone's guess how
sharp he will be for the opener in Cincinnati.

The Bengals took some hits. They will not have linebacker Vontaze Burfict and corner/special teamer Adam "Pacman" Jones due to suspensions, but I think the Bengals can manage without them. The question for Cincy is their O-line, which lost two key pieces in free agency this offseason. Still this game will come down to who can score on the fast track of Paul Brown Stadium, and I love Andy Dalton and A.J. Green in this situation. It's going to be hot and sticky as well, which plays into the Bengals favor. BENGALS 27, RAVENS 24. 

Raiders @ Titans (-2.5) - One day this might be the battle to end all battles in the AFC. In one corner you got the young Raiders will all of their talent on the offensive side of the ball, and on the other you got Marcus Mariota and the Titans. Derek Carr vs. Marcus Mariota. Ok, it may not sound like Manning vs. Brady, but who knows one day it might be. These two teams met last year in Week 3, and the Raiders came away with a 17-10 win on the road, so they are used to having to wear the black jerseys in the Tennessee heat. Look for another good matchup, but Oakland is better coached and more talented than Tennessee. RAIDERS 27, TITANS 16. 

Eagles (-1.5) @ Redskins - Don't look now, but the winner of this game could be in line for a very big start to the season. Speaking of big, this is a big year for Kirk Cousins, who once again is being asked to bet on himself for a major contract. He's going to have to do that with a flurry of new weapons at wide receiver with Desean Jackson now a member of the Buccaneers. As for Philly, the additions of LaGarret Blount and Alshon Jeffery make this offense very formidable. This will be a fun one, but I'll take the home team. 'SKINS 26,  EAGLES 24. 

Seahawks @ Packers (-3) - The last time these two teams met the Packers rolled over the Seahawks 38-10 last season. The Sehawks are trying to get back to their Legion of Boom days, but that might be difficult in Green Bay against Aaron Rodgers and the high flying Packers who added tight end Martellious Bennett in the offseason. Look for a big day from Rodgers, and a solid day from Russell Wilson. Packers pull away late: PACKERS 31, SEAHAWKS 16. 

Giants @ Cowboys (-4.5) - The game of the weekend. The Giants and Cowboys hate each other so much that the NFL decided to delay Ezekiel Elliott's suspension until next week. Why? Because the NFL needs the ratings. Elliott's suspension begins Week 2 and will last through Week 7, but it could be stopped by an injunction. More on that next week.

With Elliot in the backfield, it will make things a little easier for Dak Prescott, who had one of the worst games of his rookie year against Big Blue last season. The Giants defense is expected to be the best in the NFL this season. (We shall see). Offensively, the addition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall gives Eli Manning a new target, and a shoulder for Odell Beckham to pout on. This will be fun, and close. Just hope the walls in the locker room hold up better than they did in Green Bay when Odell put his fist through it. COWBOYS 30, GIANTS 27. 

Patriots exposed in loss to Chiefs


The Patriots were exposed big time on Opening Night. A team many expect to run right through the AFC on their way to a sixth Super Bowl title was blasted in the second half by a game Kansas City Chiefs squad, led by a smoking Alex Smith.

The blowout that wasn't: Leading 7-0, it looked like New England was on their way to an early blowout after Kareem Hunt fumbled the football at Kanas City's own 32 yard line. A few plays later Tom Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski for a touchdown. However the TD was called back after review showed the ball actually hit the ground first. New England would not score on the drive, as KC turned the Patriots over on a crucial fourth and one at the 10 yard line.

Tom Brady Looked Off: Brady was not good on Thursday night. He didn't have much zip on the ball, with a lot of his deep passes floating over the heads of his intended targets. While he did have some great throws, like the 54-yard bomb to Brandin Cooks, he had a rather blah evening. Is 40 starting to catch up to him? I doubt, but it was a rather surprising and poor effort by the Patriots MVP.

Gronowski and Cooks were M.I.A.: Part of the reason Brady had so much trouble on Thursday was the great coverage played by Kansas City's secondary. The Chiefs were all over Gronkowski who had only two catches for 33 yards, and Cooks was rarely heard from all night, with the exception of his one big catch. With the Patriots struggles to move the football in the first half, it allowed Kansas City to stay in the game. Once the Chiefs got a late first half touchdown to cut the New England lead down to 17-14, it was pretty clear the Pats would be in a dog fight the rest of the night.

Chiefs Killed New England with Long Drives: One common theme for the Chiefs was their ability to score on the Patriots at will with long, time consuming drives. KC's first touchdown, a 7-yard pass from Alex Smith to Demetrius Harris, completed a 12-play 90-yard drive that ate up 6:22.

The touchdown that closed out the first half, was a lot quicker as the Chiefs covered 92 yards in 2:34, with Smith leading the way by pushing the ball down field on a number of passes.

The drive that broke the Patriots came on just one play in the third quarter when Smith hit a wide open Tyreek Hill for a 75-yard touchdown that put the Chiefs in front for the first time. 21-17.

Alex Smith was amazing: Smith has always been considered a game manager throughout his career. Even the Chiefs were ready to part ways with him when they drafted Patrick Mahomes this past Spring. Instead of pouting Smith put on a show on Thursday night. He completed 28 of 35 passes for 368 yards and four touchdowns.

Kareem Hunt's revenge: After fumbling his first carry of his NFL career, Kareem Hunt got plenty of revenge against the Patriots henceforth. Seconds into the fourth quarter, Hunt caught a Smith pass down the middle of the field and took off for a 75-yard touchdown that stunned the Foxboro crowd as the Chiefs jumped back out in front 28-27.

Later in the quarter, Hunt played a big roll again, gashing the Patriots porous defense on a number of plays, before scoring on a four yard touchdown to make it 35-27. The Chiefs would put the game away on Charcandrick West's 12-yard score, but this was clearly Hunt's night. The rookie killed the Patriots with 148 yards rushing on 17 carries. So much for missing Spencer Ware who was lost for the year two weeks ago.

Patriots D is awful! The Patriots defense look like a shell of its former self. With so many new faces, especially up front the Patriots don't have the pass rush to put pressure on the quarterback anymore. They are also incredibly spotting in coverage. Losing Dont'a Hightower in the third quarter didn't help. Overall, New England gave up 537 yards of offense to Kansas City, and oh,  by the way the face  Drew Brees and the Saints new week. That could get real interesting now.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

WFAN's Craig Carton Arrested, Suspended

It is curtains for WFAN shock jock radio host Craig Carton.

As everyone knows, Carton was arrested Wednesday morning for ripping off millions of dollars on investors on a ponzi-scheme involving phony concert tickets that could put him behind bars for 45 years.

Carton and his business partner Joseph Meli reportedly ripped off $3.6 million from two investors, while Carton misappropriated $2 million to cover debts he owed to a Casino and "third parties."

The wild news landed Wednesday morning amid a Twitter firestorm, with just about everyone blasting the Boomer and Carton host, while claiming victory for Carton's long time rival, Mike Francesa.

On his radio show Wednesday, Francesa would not address the situation.

What's more Carton's partner, Boomer Esiason opened Wednesday's show saying he got a text message from Carton that he was sick and couldn't come into the studio. Esiason spent the morning lamenting his own busy schedule before he was notified that Carton was busted by the FBI. Whether or not Esiasion was truly duped by Carton is anyone's guess.

One thing is certain, Carton will not be missed. Listen to any talk show host willing to talk about, or even fan, he was not well liked.  On WABC, Sid Rosenberg  and Bernard McGuirk, two WFAN alums ripped into Carton, reflecting on how he backstabbed Rosenberg early in their radio careers.  Francesa has also had his run-in's with Carton as the two have bashed one another on their respective shows for years now.

WFAN suspended Carton, who was replaced by former Giants quarterback Phil Simms on Thursday. No word on whether the station will fire carton and hold a full out audition for other hosts. Keep in mind the station is trying to find a replacement for Francesa, who is planning to retire at the end of the calendar year.

Will WFAN ask Francesa to stay longer? Will they patch things up with New York's Numbah One so he stays beyond his December 15 retirement date? That is all to be seen, but the speculation will run rampant.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

New York Giants 2017 Season Preview

The Giants are expected to be a Super Bowl contender in 2017. They have the pieces defensively to be one of the best units in the league this year. They have the veteran quarterback who has been there and done that. They also have a plethora of wide receiver talent, comparable to some of the best in the league. So what could be wrong?

Well I preview the '17 G-Men with Karen Vankat. Take a listen!

In addition, take a listen to my Dallas Cowboys preview with Inside the Star writer Sean Martin.