After we recently extolled the virtues of the offensive line, they made us look bad with a poor performance against the Eagles. So now we're turning our attention to the CBs. The O-line was totally dominated for most of the game. They couldn't pass block effectively and Tiki Barber was unable to run. Clearly this set a pattern for future opponents to attack them: Stopping the Giants' running game is the priority. The line needs to pick up its level of play.
Before the Eagles game and throughout the preseason we believed the weakest position on the team was DT. We were certain that this prime need would be addressed in the coming offseason. We could see them signing a free agent DT as well as drafting one high. We aren't so sure about that any more. They won't ignore DT, but it doesn't look like it is quite as high a priority as it once was. Barry Cofield has been a very pleasant surprise so far. He has been a disruptive force. We realize it is early, but he has done a good job to date. Fred Robbins has also done a good job. He's worked hard and he does get decent penetration. He was always good with an inside rush, but now he is holding up much better against the run.
After watching the Eagles game, there is a new need and concern in town and that is the secondary, more specifically the corners. To be frank, they were horrible, especially on the underneath routes. They were bad enough that Giants fans should be truly concerned. There is obviously something amiss. Before we get into the corners, there is another problem that needs to be addressed as well. The linebackers can't cover. It showed up in the Colts game and it showed again against the Eagles. That is a big contributing factor when you look at the amount of third-down conversions they gave up. We really believed that old-time Giants style defense was back. We may have jumped the gun on that.
Where was Sam Madison? You've heard of the game "Where's Waldo?" We have a new version called "Where's Sam?" He gave new meaning to giving a cushion. Any time the Eagles needed yardage they simply threw to Madison's side and generally it worked. We knew Madison was not the same player he was in his glory years with the Dolphins, but we didn't think he would be this bad either. For him to be successful, they have to roll the coverage to him and give him help. That in turn puts Corey Webster out there on an island, which in and of itself could be a problem. Webster is improving but he is not there yet. He needs to do a better job playing the ball. He gave up a big play against the Eagles when he had good coverage, but couldn't make a play on the ball that went for a TD. Many times his coverage is good but he doesn't make the play.
It may be time to shake things up even if that means benching Madison and giving Frank Walker another chance. Walker had a very good preseason. He saved his job with the team, which was on the line. He truly looked like he has eliminated a lot of the stupid mistakes he used to make and has become more consistent. R.W. McQuarters has done a decent job as well. It looks like it's time to get the best corners on the field. Perhaps that would be Webster, McQuarters and Walker.
We know it's early in the season, but if you are a fan of college football and would like to do a little scouting on your own here are some of the top senior corners to keep an eye on. Maybe one of these guys will wind up with the Giants next year.
Leon Hall – Michigan (5-11 195) – A starter for the Wolverines for most of his career, he is an outstanding athlete. He has the unique ability to make mental adjustments on the fly and he shows sudden reactions. He has the quick feet that are required in man coverage. His stop/start change of direction is very good. He has a good plant and drive and a very good burst to the ball. He doesn't take many false steps and he has loose hips for a smooth turn. He has good acceleration and catch-up speed. He keeps his position well with good timing and leaping ability. Hall is tough-minded and he accepts challenges. He's also a good wrap-up tackler. He's tough, competitive and aggressive.
Marcus McCauley – Fresno State (6-1 199) – A three-year starter, he's a big corner who can run and cover. Receivers have a hard time getting separation from him. He's a smooth and fluid athlete with very good body control. He has the requisite loose hips. He is technically sound with no wasted motion in his backpedal. He exhibits an extra gear to close on the ball in the air. He has good reactions and is able to think on his feet. McCauley uses good body position to makes plays on the ball. He is adept at stripping the ball. His ball skills are excellent and he plays the ball well downfield.
Tarell Brown – Texas (5-11 185) – Brown made news when he was suspended before the Longhorns big game against Ohio State. He was supposed to cover the Buckeyes' outstanding WR Ted Ginn. His absence definitely hurt the team. Brown is a four-year starter who is productive in both the passing and running games. He is confident and competitive. He's a good athlete with the skill to cover downfield and also get up in press coverage. He has good ball skills and instincts. Brown is smart and alert with suddenness in his play. He can run with the best WRs he covers. He has good feet and body control. He reacts quickly to play off blocks and make the tackle.
Fred Bennett – South Carolina (6-2 186) – He is a three-year starter who is tall with fluid hips and man coverage ability. He has good range and closing speed. He can stick his foot in the ground and drive quickly on the ball. He has good leaping ability and can go up and get a high ball. Bennett is very competitive. Though he is not a big hitter, he tries hard in run defense and can usually get the ball carrier down even if he doesn't always use classic tackling style. He has above average ball skills and hands.
Kenny Scott – Georgia Tech (6-1 175) – Scott is a three-year starter who is both slender and rangy. Despite his thin build, he is a physical corner. He comes up quickly and willingly on run support. He shows very good tackling skills as a wrap-up tackler. He is a good athlete who loves to compete. He has the long arms and leaping ability required to cover taller pro receivers. He will match up against the opponent's top receiver. Scott has good closing speed on the deep ball. Because his build is high cut, it somewhat limits his short area quickness. He needs more work technically; especially in perfecting his backpedal. He plays upright a little too often and needs to improve his hands. He is more of a project than the others, but he has intriguing ability.
Straight Talk: Never too Early
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