Tunch Ilkin and I started off the weekend with an "Urban Hike" into Manhattan on Friday afternoon/evening. After a terrific dinner at Ginger's, a Chinese restaurant, we topped it off with a fine Churchill cigar and people-watching at Times Square. After such a great night in the Big Apple, Saturday night at the new Giants Stadium started slowly for the kid here.
* I turn into a coffee fiend on game day, and before heading down to begin the night's festivities on the sidelines, I make sure -- now that I'm in my fifties -- that I adhere to the late great Dwight White's rule No. 1 for this age: never pass up a bathroom.
After finding one in a stadium where everybody is clueless because they've barely been on the job, I found myself at a "waterless urinal." I'm thinking the Giants blew out their budget after spending $1.7 billion because there's no water. I spent my time looking for something to push, pull, crank or drop a quarter into, even wave a hand over. Finally, an attendant assured me these were new hi-tech gizmos and there would be no courtesy flush. Sheesh, can't fix stupid.
* The new digs at Meadowlands Stadium are impressive. But for the life of me, I don't see how this stadium costs five times the amount that Heinz Field cost.
* Last Wednesday, while chatting with Casey Hampton up at camp, Casey remarked that he found it amazing there were no fights in camp. We got a good one four plays into the first quarter with Ike Taylor and Hakeem Nicks squaring off in an explosive slap-boxing match. Ike, stay with the uppercuts, overhands do no damage and bust up your hands. After a few terse words from Mike Tomlin, Ike took a long slow walk to the locker room.
* After Flozell Adams's debut last week, Big Flo worked on his game. His run-blocking is good to very good. It's the pass set that gets him in trouble. First, moving from left side to right side is a real problem. Remember how Max Starks had problems on the right side? Max is a natural lefty and the same for Flo.
Sean Kugler had DB's lining up after practice and trying to smoke the corner on Flo after practice (using hyper-speed rushers, I used to do this when I had to make the adjustment to tackle late in my career). Second, they had Flo work on an angled set, which moves the tackle out and widening the angle rather than a vertical set which got Flo in trouble against Detroit.
Both of those maneuvers helped, and, early on against Justin Tuck, Flo was crushing him. On a twist stunt that had Tuck looping behind the DT, Adams swatted Tuck so hard he crushed Tuck to his knees. Despite 12 hard years in the NFL, Adams still is a very powerful man. Tuck later had a pressure when he caught onto Flo's over-set to him and crossed him up with an inside rush, which got him into Ben Roethlisberger's grill. You can help a guy that gets beat. You can't help a guy who gets beat clean. There were no freebies given up by Adams this week.
* Jonathan Scott is a capable run blocker, not as powerful as Adams, but more nimble on pass rushes. My only gripe is he has a tendency to let rushers into his body and not keep them at arm's length. Because he's tall, he gets overpowered at times. When Scott keeps them at arm's length and good body angle on the corner, he stuffs them.
* There's a new kid on the block. Tony Hills, into his third year, has been coming on. Tony is playing with more confidence and violence. This preseason has been his best. You can never predict with certainty when somebody will "get it," or will ever get it. But I think Tony is getting it. If he continues on his upwards path, he could make things interesting.
* Ben got sacked on a middle screen to Rashard Mendenhall. Mathias Kiwanuka got the back door on Max Starks, but there was plenty of time. The problem was Rashard had drawn defenders like flies. There was no place to go with the ball.
* Keenan Lewis got some looks in Taylor's absence. I thought it was significant that Keenan got the call instead of Will Gay. In the second quarter Keenan showed a great feel while playing man on a 2nd-and-9 going into the Pittsburgh end zone. Lewis got position on the Giants' WR running a slant route, and broke up a pass.
* For all the work Kugler's been doing with the O-line, bad habits are tough to break. I love Chris Kemoeatu's rack 'em and stack 'em body count run-blocking style, but he's got to push the details on backside cut-offs, namely the cut block. You can't nip at the ankles and expect to drop a mastodon in his tracks. Drive through, drive through, drive through the inside leg.
* Daniel Sepulveda did a nice job of playing off on a good Giants punt return after he booted the ball 54 yards. It was returned for 45. Sepulveda played the angle and even though his jersey got stretched like it was starched, Danny managed to play the out-of-bounds in conjunction with the angle like a champ. He saved six there.
* There's a saying, "You can't coach speed." Mike Wallace proves weekly that you can't cover it, either. Great throw by Byron Leftwich that covered 61 of the 68 yards Wallace ran for the touchdown. That's the first time I remember Wallace making like Usain Bolt and hitting the tape in full stride. But Mike, can the high dive into the end zone. No need to pull a Gramatica and end your season early.
* Leftwich scrambled 11 yards on a play that left the sidelines shaking in laughter. All the boys were pointing to one of the four Jumbotrons in the stadium as they replayed it. It may not have been pretty, but it got the job done. Funny, that's just what I tell my wife when I dance with her.
* Back to the action, Byron ignored "Kill the clock!" commands from the sideline and attempted to QB sneak from the one. But the hogs were thinking clock kill, which to them means get your big keister up to the line of scrimmage and don't move. The Giants weren't fooled and the hogs couldn't figure out why the Giants were banging in the trenches on a clock kill. That also cost too many seconds, which left points on the field in the first half. Sometimes in the crunch, you forget details, like letting the hogs know you're gonna try to sneak it.
* Will Allen showed great veteran savvy on a third-down screen pass to a Giants WR. He saw the set-up, beat the blocker to the spot, and dropped the receiver like a bad habit. That's what you call seeing it, doing it. Great reaction. Great job.
* After Dwayne Wright scored on a nice power run in the second half, I got behind the hogs on the bench. That's when I spied the Bronko, as in Legursky, making like Milli Vanilli lip-synching along with Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam as it played over the stadium sound system. Bronko shouldn't quit his day job.
* Maurkice Pouncey showed some toughness after taking a knee or helmet to the thigh. He plopped down on the sideline next to me and grimaced in pain. He spent some time stretching on the sidelines, then went right back at it, without missing a shift. Yep, great feet, strong like a bull, seems to enjoy dishing out a little pain, and has good pain tolerance to boot. Those are all the right ingredients you need for a Big Shaggy.
* Dennis Dixon heard Bruce Arians loud and clear last week. He looked good throwing checkdowns instead of taking off on the hoof.
* Stevenson Sylvester keeps popping up on the radar screen. The rookie linebacker had a sack and a pressure along with a tackle on special teams. There's a logjam at inside linebacker, and he plays high, which sometimes puts him at the end of a bull goring him and blowing him back at the point of attack. But he keeps making plays.
* All in all, another step forward.