NFC East: Bear Pascoe

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- If the New York Giants' offense is going to recover from its latest low point, it's likely going to have to do so without one of its most important blockers. Fullback Henry Hynoski left Sunday's 38-0 loss to Carolina with what X-rays showed is a fractured left shoulder.

Hynoski said he would have more tests Monday and declined to speculate on a timetable for recovery and return, though it's hard to imagine he's back anytime soon.

"We'll see," Hynoski said after the game. "If there's any way I can, I'll be the guy who can do it at the earliest possible date."

Hynoski landed hard on his shoulder after making a 5-yard catch from Eli Manning on the fourth play of the game and did not return. He's a critical part of a Giants run game that has had a hard time getting going this year even with him. And if they had to play without him for a long period of time, it would be a severe blow to a team that's already struggling with its run blocking as well as its pass protection due to problems on the offensive line and the offseason losses of key blocking pieces such as Ahmad Bradshaw and Martellus Bennett.

Backup tight end Bear Pascoe would serve as fullback in Hynoski's absence for however long that is.

Safety Cooper Taylor also suffered a left shoulder injury and had his arm in a sling after the game.

Backup Aaron Ross did a good job filling in at cornerback for starter Corey Webster, who was ruled out of the game Saturday with a hip injury. It's unclear whether Webster will be able to practice this week or play Sunday in Kansas City.
Morning. Welcome to another offseason week in the NFC East. I'll be headed to Philadelphia Eagles minicamp later this week, but in the meantime it's business as usual, beginning of course with links.

Dallas Cowboys

Dwayne Harris came on strong as a good No. 3 wide receiver option for the Cowboys in 2012. But after the team drafted Terrance Williams in the third round, Harris is ready to fight for his job.

The Cowboys picked up $2 million in cap space over the weekend because the post-June 1 cut of Marcus Spears took effect. Calvin Watkins speculates that the savings could help lead to talks with Sean Lee about a new contract.

New York Giants

Aaron Curry says "proving people wrong is not a motivation," though he admits the motivations that helped him become a top college linebacker disappeared when he got his big first-round NFL contract with Seattle. Curry believes renewed focus and determination can help him be a help to the Giants, who felt his talent warranted taking a low-risk chance.

If fullback Henry Hynoski has to miss significant time with his knee injury, Bear Pascoe's value as a tight end who can line up at fullback will become even more obvious to Giants fans.

Philadelphia Eagles

DeSean Jackson has dropped agent Drew Rosenhaus and is the latest NFL player to be connected to Jay Z's Roc Nation Sports. Not sure what it all means for Jackson's future with the Eagles, as he got a long-term contract extension last year, but I know lots of people around the league are monitoring what's going on with Roc Nation and what effect its presence will have on the market.

The fact that Bennie Logan is new should help him as the Eagles' defensive coaching staff continues to throw ever-changing schemes and fronts at the players this offseason.

Washington Redskins

Mike Shanahan says Alfred Morris' success isn't a product of the Redskins' system and that Morris is a good enough back to gain yards in any offensive system. And that may well be true, but it doesn't change the fact that Morris' running style fits the profile of what Shanahan looks for in a back, which is likely why he was able to get him in the sixth round and why Morris was able to get the chance to be the starter in the first place as a rookie in 2012.

People often ask what the Redskins' plan is at inside linebacker when London Fletcher inevitably decides to stop playing. Keenan Robinson, who was a rookie in 2012, is part of the answer. And he says he's almost all the way back from the injury that ended his 2012 season and ready for more playing time.
Each week, we take questions for our Saturday mailbag via Twitter. Anyone who posts a question that includes the hashtag #nfceastmail has a chance to get his or her question answered right here. Like these.

The New York Giants have agreed to terms on a contract with tight end Brandon Myers, according to Mike Garafolo. He replaces Martellus Bennett, who left for Chicago after one year with the Giants, and he represents a departure from Giants tight ends of recent past.

Myers was a pass-catching tight end in Oakland. He graded out as the worst blocking tight end in the league according to Pro Football Focus (by quite a wide margin), and it's surprising that the Giants decided to go with a tight end who's more of a receiver than a blocker. It makes you wonder if we can expect to see Myers used differently than Bennett and Jake Ballard were used the past two years. Those guys were blockers primarily, and the Giants picked their spots for using them as receivers in the passing game.

If Myers doesn't show improvement as a blocker this spring and summer over what he showed in Oakland, that might mean more playing time for someone like Bear Pascoe in the Giants' offense, especially on running downs. But it seems clear that they have added a nice passing-game weapon for Eli Manning with their latest pickup.
I have attempted another "all-22" breakdown using the NFL Game Rewind app, and this time I went through Sunday night's game between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles with a specific focus on the left tackles. I will have a post up later today on the Eagles' Demetress Bell, but this post here focuses on the very strong work by Giants left tackle Will Beatty, particularly against Eagles star defensive end Trent Cole.

Beatty, you may recall, was the Giants' starting left tackle for the first 10 games last year, and had some mixed results before an eye injury ended his season prematurely. Back injuries plagued his offseason, and his inability to get healthy cost him his starting job at the start of this season. But an injury to David Diehl forced the Giants to reshuffle, and it appears Beatty has reclaimed the starting left tackle role as a result.

[+] EnlargeWill Beatty
Howard Smith/US PresswireGiants tackle Will Beatty (65) blocks during the first quarter against the Eagles in their Week 4 game.
To me, he looks considerably stronger and more confident as a blocker than he did in 2011. I saw a lot of reaching and grabbing and late-reacting last year. Sunday night against Cole, his footwork was consistent and he held up very well strength-wise against one of the toughest defensive linemen in the league. Cole has a variety of moves out of his Wide-9 four-point stance, but the one that really stands out is the one on which he tries to go through the lineman, bursting off the line and into the tackle with shocking force. There are plenty of tackles in the league Cole can knock over with this move, and at the very least he can rattle them and beat them around the edge while they are dazed. Beatty wasn't having any. He took those big shots from Cole (I noticed it specifically on a seven-yard Eli Manning pass to Domenik Hixon toward the end of the first half and again on a five-yard pass to Ramses Barden on the Giants' first play of the second half) and stood his ground.

Some of the numbers from what I saw:

  • Beatty plays 68 snaps. On 26 of those, he has a tight end lined up next to him. On two others, he has two tight ends with him. Which means he was by himself on 40 of his 68 plays.
  • He ends up blocking Cole by himself, without any help or chipping from anyone else, 31 times. He should get hazard pay for this. Cole is a relentless nightmare to block. However, I only counted five plays out of those 31 on which I'd say Cole beat him. And there were only a couple of those that matters to the outcome of the play. Their final matchup of the night, which will go down as the Barden offensive pass interference play, has to be a satisfying capper for Beatty on a tough but very good night, as he flattens Cole and takes him to the ground.
  • He ends up blocking Darryl Tapp one-on-one eight times, and Tapp has no chance against him.

My favorite Beatty sequence is the Giants possession that begins with 9:55 left in the third quarter and results in the Victor Cruz touchdown catch. There are eight plays on the drive, and he's by himself on the left side for seven of them. The only exception is the second play, when Bennett motions to his side and Beatty goes inside and dominates Derek Landri. He gets Cole five times and Tapp twice on the drive, and the only play on which he doesn't dominate is the touchdown pass, on which Cole beats him a little bit with a spin move but Manning releases the ball too quickly for it to matter.

Beatty's best play on that drive is the first-and-10 from the Eagles' 34 on which Manning completes a 13-yard pass to Hixon. He's by himself on the left side, with Cole lined up super-wide with both hands on the ground. As the ball is snapped, Beatty keeps his eyes upfield for a moment to make sure the linebacker isn't coming. But as he does so, he's swinging his left leg and rotating his arms and shoulders out to anticipate Cole's wide rush. This enables him to get back in time to disrupt and block Cole while Manning finds Hixon on the left side of the field. The play showed instincts, intelligence and an ability to multi-task. This looks like the player the Giants believe can be their left tackle of the future, and he's leaps and bounds better than he was a year ago.

I did mark seven "bad plays" and one other possible mistake on Beatty's 68 snaps. But all seven of the bad plays were in the first half, so he seemed to get better as the game went along. And the bad plays were often the result of poor decisions and not his being overmatched. For example:

  • On the second play of the game, he goes the wrong way and ends up having to grab at linebacker Jamar Chaney, who assists on the tackle of Andre Brown.
  • Cole flat-out beats him on third-and-five on the Giants' second possession and again on third-and-three on their fourth, and Beatty reverts to his grabby ways. The first was called holding. The second could have been.
  • The Eagles successfully confuse Beatty on third-and-four from the Giants' 39-yard line in the second quarter. Cullen Jenkins is lined up as the defensive end on that side, and tight end Martellus Bennett handles him. Beatty kinds of drifts that way as if to help when he should be picking up linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who gets to Manning and helps force an incomplete pass.
  • And the possible mistake was on a first-and-10 run two plays before the Bear Pascoe touchdown. It looks to me as though he should be helping Bennett with Cole on the edge instead of helping Kevin Boothe with Landri inside, and Cole indeed beats Bennett to disrupt the play. But I don't know what the assignment was there.

All in all, though, a very good night from Beatty against as tough an opponent as he'll ever face. His improvement over 2011 is an outstanding sign for the Giants.

Rapid Reaction: Eagles 19, Giants 17

September, 30, 2012
PHILADELPHIA -- A few thoughts on the Philadelphia Eagles' key divisional victory over the New York Giants on Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

What it means: In spite of all of their early-season struggles, Michael Vick and the Eagles are 3-1 and on top in the NFC East with a game in hand against their fiercest rivals and the defending division and Super Bowl champions. For the Giants, it means the Eagles still have their number. They've now lost eight of their past nine games against Philadelphia and, perhaps more importantly, are 0-2 this year against NFC East opponents.

Protecting the ball: When the Eagles commit to the run and do not turn the ball over, they can be as good as any team in the league. After a stop-and-start offensive first half, the Eagles came out running with LeSean McCoy in the second half and had tremendous success with it. Their issue on offense was an inability to finish drives and turn their hard work into touchdowns instead of settling for field goals. That's what left the Giants with the late-game opportunity to march down the field and take the lead in the fourth quarter. After turning the ball over 12 times in their first three games (and yet somehow winning two of them), the Eagles did not turn the ball over once Sunday night, and they beat the Super Bowl champs.

Eli Manning does not play favorites: The Giants' quarterback tells his receivers that, if they run their routes and get open, they will get opportunities to catch the ball. With Hakeem Nicks out last week, Ramses Barden got his catches and yards on slant routes all night. With Nicks out again Sunday, Domenik Hixon went more than 100 yards receiving and Bear Pascoe caught a touchdown in the fourth quarter to give the Giants their first lead of the game. Manning makes his receivers better, and maximizes their ability to produce in their specific roles and circumstances. He completed passes to eight different players Sunday night.

Mr. Wilson: I think Giants fans need to get used to the idea of first-round pick David Wilson as a developmental player who needs more work and practice before he's a factor in the run game. There's actually nothing wrong with that. The Giants like Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown and have a good track record of developing young, talented players. In the meantime, Wilson looks as though he has become a real weapon in the kick-return game.

The Prince: Last year's Giants first-rounder, Prince Amukamara, is playing very well at cornerback. He covered Jeremy Maclin most of the night, and Maclin didn't catch one pass in the first 55 minutes of the game. Amukamara looks like a good technician, and the Eagles seemed very comfortable testing out Corey Webster with DeSean Jackson rather than picking on Amukamara as many teams have so far in his short career. Amukamara could be a real asset to a banged-up secondary that lost safety Kenny Phillips to a knee injury in the first quarter.

What's next: The Giants will host the 0-4 Cleveland Browns on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET in East Rutherford, N.J., and should pound them senseless. The Eagles will travel to Pittsburgh for a 1 p.m. ET game against the 1-2 Steelers, who were off this week.

Breaking down the Giants' run game

September, 12, 2012

Something's got to give. On Sunday, the New York Giants, who had the worst rush offense in the NFL last year, host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who had the league's worst rush defense. I don't know what this means, but from the standpoint of this blog we have to say it offers the Giants a very good chance to get their run game going and put last year's troubles in the past.

To assess their chances, I consulted the NFL's Game Rewind app, which this year offers users the chance to watch the "All 22" coaches film and see where everybody goes on every play. Pretty useful stuff that should offer plenty of chances for great blog fodder as the year goes along. Here are a few things I learned about the Giants' run game watching it today.

    • Of the 19 run plays the Giants ran against the Cowboys in last Wednesday's opener, 11 went to the left side, seven to the right side and one up the middle (Ahmad Bradshaw's 5-yarder on 3rd-and-16 to end the first half).


  • Of those 19 run plays, 11 were on first down, five were on second down, two on third and one on fourth. Bradshaw's biggest run was a 33-yarder on 3rd-and-1 that was a very well blocked play to the side of the line on which the Giants did not have extra blockers. More on that in a second.
  • Bradshaw ran the ball 17 times. Rookie David Wilson ran it twice, and not at all after fumbling on his second carry. No other Giants running back got a carry in the game.
  • Of the 19 runs, 13 were run to the side of the line on which tight end Martellus Bennett was lined up. That includes the first 10 Giants running plays of the game. The first time Bradshaw runs to the side on which Bennett is not lined up is a 2-yard gain to the right side in the second quarter, and on that play tackle Will Beatty was in the game on the right side as an eligible tight end. The play is basically stopped immediately by Anthony Spencer when he gets off the block of Beatty.
  • Right tackle David Diehl had a rough game against Dallas defensive end Jason Hatcher. On the final play of the first half, the Cowboys have only three men on the line and Bradshaw gets the ball and runs right up the middle, but Diehl can't handle Hatcher, who brings Bradshaw down before he can get loose. Not that they were trying to do anything special there, but you never know.
  • There are times when Bradshaw shows indecisiveness and a lack of burst that costs him. The play just before the Wilson fumble is a 1st-and-10 on which Bennett motions to the right and Bradshaw runs that way. There appears to be a hole between Bennett and Diehl on that right side, but Bradshaw is unable to slip through before it closes. That play looked like one on which Bradshaw could have gained more. There's also a 1st-and-10 in the fourth quarter on which he's running to the right side, where Bennett and fellow tight end Bear Pascoe are both lined up, and he seems to have a brief opportunity to turn upfield quickly before Bruce Carter fills the gap and brings him down.
  • Once they started running away from Bennett's side, the Giants actually had more success. I don't know if this is because Dallas was devoting extra attention to Bennett's side (which would make sense, after the Giants ran their first 10 plays to Bennett's side) or if it's a matter of Dallas focusing more energy on pass defense once they had the lead. But Bennett is on the right side when Bradshaw runs left for a 10-yard touchdown to the left. The touchdown is a very well-blocked play that involves no tight ends. Left guard Kevin Boothe shoves the defensive lineman inside and then blocks Sean Lee. Left tackle Sean Locklear takes care of his man. Fullback Henry Hynoski, lined up in front of Bradshaw in the backfield, swings over and makes his block. Hakeem Nicks is trying to make a block near the goal line as Bradshaw jukes the defensive back and slips into the end zone. Good play all-around, and without extra blockers on that side.
  • The other very well-blocked play is Bradshaw's 33-yard run to the right in the fourth quarter. Bennett is lined up on the left side on that play, and Dallas is committing most of its defense to that side. But Diehl blocks his man while right guard Chris Snee gets out and makes a very nice block on DeMarcus Ware to spring Bradshaw for the one big gain of the day in the run game.
  • I need to make special note of the Wilson fumble play, which is all Sean Lee. The Giants load up on the left side with Bennett and Hynoski, and they get everybody blocked and make a nice little bubble for Wilson on that left side. But Lee, who is lined up as the far-side inside linebacker on that play (i.e., the side away from the side to which the play is run), makes an incredible quick and instinctive jump on the ball, slips past all of the engaged blockers and defenders and closes on Wilson with remarkable speed. Wilson of course needs to hold onto the ball, but he is completely blindsided on a brilliant play by a player who got there much quicker than anyone on the field could have had reason to expect him to.


I guess my conclusion is that I'd like to see more Wilson. I understand the benching and agree with it, but it does seem, going forward, as though Wilson is better suited to make a big gain out of the minimal blocking the Giants can expect at this point from their offensive line. There are more plays on which they don't block well than plays on which they do, but Bradshaw seems to be doing a poor job of taking advantage of the latter. They're giving him a lot of help by committing extra blockers to the side of the field to which he's running, and he's still not able to find anything. That may be the offensive line's fault most of the time, but it's not all the time.

Breakfast links: Home sweet home

August, 9, 2012
Yes, the training camp trips are over for this year. Just in time to catch the Eagles and the Redskins tonight in their preseason openers. I enjoyed my travels. Learned a lot about our teams. Ate too much food. Didn't get enough sleep. Had a blast. But as always, it's good to be home. I present you with your home-cooked Thursday links.

New York Giants

Justin Tuck got a kick out of Clay Matthews' comments that the Packers "beat themselves" in their playoff loss to the Giants last year. Just so ridiculous. I mean, no team played its best football against the Giants in last year's playoffs, and you know why? Because the Giants played absolutely great. They beat the Packers by 17 points, in Green Bay. Matthews has nothing to talk about.

The Giants made their assistant coaches available this week. Here's tight ends coach Mike Pope on Martellus Bennett, Bear Pascoe, Adrien Robinson and the idea that the Giants ask their tight ends to be blockers first before they can think about using them as receivers.

Philadelphia Eagles

Michael Vick was close with Garrett Reid, and would do anything for Andy Reid, and so it's no surprise that he's emotional about Garrett's death Sunday. Vick said Wednesday that he would dedicate the season to the memory of his coach's son.

Sheil Kapadia took a shot at a 53-man roster projection. His doesn't include Chris Polk, Joselio Hanson, Chad Hall or Colt Anderson. Interesting stuff. Anderson was pretty important to them as a special-teamer last year, but if he can't do anything else, you do have to wonder.

Washington Redskins

Rich Campbell's five questions about tonight's Redskins preseason opener touch on Robert Griffin III, Chris Cooley, the safeties, the offensive line and the running backs. I'd say that about covers it. I know I'm going to watch.

Mike Jones writes that the competition for starting spots at safety remains wide open, and that some names you might not expect are in the mix.

Dallas Cowboys

Brandon Carr tells Calvin Watkins he's still "a work in progress," which is of course always a good frame of mind in which to keep oneself. Personally, I thought he looked like one of the best players on the field in the practices I watched this week.

And Tim MacMahon writes that the injuries the Cowboys have had to cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Mike Jenkins have hampered defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's creativity this camp.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- I have lots of stuff still in the notebook from my time at New York Giants training camp. Our "Camp Confidential" on the Giants should roll out at some point today, and I have more stories and notes planned on the Giants for the early part of this week, even while I'm at Eagles and Redskins camp. But a lot of people -- Giants fans as well as Dallas Cowboys fans -- are asking about tight end Martellus Bennett, the former Cowboy who signed with the Giants at the start of free agency. So I thought a post on him was in order. This is what Giants GM Jerry Reese told me Saturday afternoon when I asked him about Bennett:
"I think he's going to really help our run game, because he's a tremendous blocker. We think he could be a good receiver, but what he gives us as a receiver is going to be a bonus. We think he can really help us get our run game going, because he's the blocking tight end that we haven't had. Jake [Ballard] was an okay blocker, Bear [Pascoe] has been an okay blocker. But Martellus could be a dominating blocker, and that's what we haven't had, really for a while. We haven't had a dominating guy since, like, Howard Cross."

Bennett's problem in Dallas was running his routes and holding onto the ball, but he always graded out as an excellent blocker. So it sounds as though the Giants did their homework here. And as Reese pointed out, it's not as though the Giants have been relying on their tight end as a huge part of the passing game the past few years anyway:
"We've had some young guys really do good jobs for us. Kevin Boss caught like 35, 45 balls. Then you get Jake in, he catches 35, 45 balls. Somebody else will do that. That's not a staple in our offense, the tight end. I think our offense is more receiver-oriented and back-oriented. Henry Hynoski caught a bunch of passes last year out of the backfield, our fullback. So there's different ways to skin a cat."

So now you know why the Giants signed Bennett and what they expect of him. As I said, much more to come.

Our fantasy football analysts have put together a stunning amount of video roundtable content as part of our fantasy draft kit, and this is going to be very useful to us here on fantasy week on the NFC East blog. As I was perusing some of it, I came across this one on sleeper tight ends, and I noticed that two of the three names raised in this discussion happen to play in our division.

The first is New York Giants tight end Martellus Bennett, whose name is being raised in the video by K.C. Joyner. The former Cowboys tight end signed with the Giants early in free agency, and the Giants are hoping that he can finally realize his potential as a passing-game weapon after disappointing in Dallas. K.C. points out that Jake Ballard came out of nowhere to finish third in yards per catch among tight ends last year, and suggests that Bennett's raw ability could therefore translate into "top-end productivity" if he got a similar opportunity.

For me, it's the opportunity that's the issue for Bennett in New York. Yes, Ballard is gone and Travis Beckum is recovering from his own ACL injury, and there is an opportunity for a tight end to step in and do very well with Eli Manning as his quarterback. But the Giants don't mess around. As we've discussed many times, their roster is a meritocracy. Bennett will have to play well in order to get his opportunity. If he goofs off about his route-running and can't hold onto the ball, Manning simply won't throw it to him. Bear Pascoe is still there and knows the system, and I have little doubt that Manning can make something of him just as he did with Ballard. Bennett will be useful as a blocker, as he was in Dallas, and for that reason I'm sure they'll try to come up with some pass plays for him. But if he doesn't show he can be productive, there are plenty of other people to whom Manning can throw the ball.

Matthew Berry wraps the video by bringing up the Philadelphia Eagles' Brent Celek and the strong second half he had. Matthew says Celek finished fourth in the NFL in total yards among tight ends in the second half of the season, and wonders if that might be a sign of good things to come in 2012. It seems clear that Michael Vick likes throwing to him, so that's not a concern. And it's worth mentioning that Celek had sports hernia surgery and hip surgery after the season ended, so he's an incredibly tough dude who put up those solid second-half numbers in spite of considerable and perpetual pain. But if we assume (as many have been) that DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin bounce back, and that the loss of Jason Peters might require Celek to stay in more as a blocker as he did early last year before the offensive line jelled, then there are at least a couple of reasons to worry.

Thing is, both Bennett and Celek will be late-round options whose potential and pedigree, respectively, merit at least some attention. Our experts rank Celek the No. 14 tight end and Bennett the No. 17, which is why they're sleepers.

Elsewhere in the division, in case you're curious, the Cowboys' Jason Witten ranks fifth and the Redskins' Fred Davis ninth among tight ends in the preseason projections.
Bill Belichick's quest to take over the world with an army of tight ends has cost the New York Giants Jake Ballard. The Giants waived Ballard, who tore his ACL in the Super Bowl, on Monday thinking he'd clear waivers and they'd be able to sign him right back and put him on injured reserve because he was probably going to miss the season anyway. They told him he was in their plans for 2013, and as far as they knew, he was.

But Ballard did not clear waivers. He was claimed by the Patriots, who likely will be able to retain him next year as an exclusive rights free agent if he gets healthy in the meantime. The Patriots now have five tight ends on their roster, including star starters Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, and obviously did not have a need at the position.

Ballard did play very well against the Patriots in the Giants' regular-season victory over them last year, and he was part of the Giants team that defeated the Patriots in the Super Bowl. And it's clear that Belichick thinks tight ends are the wave of the future. I'm working on confirming a report that his new house in Farmington will be built entirely out of tight ends.

For 2012, this leaves the Giants no worse off than they already were at tight end. They have Martellus Bennett and Bear Pascoe and possibly Travis Beckum at some point, though he also tore his ACL in the Super Bowl and isn't likely to be ready to start the season if he can make it back at all in 2012.
New York Giants GM Jerry Reese took his turn at the podium Saturday at the scouting combine in Indianapolis. Our man Ohm is on the scene, and he reports that 2011 third-round pick Jerrel Jernigan keeps being mentioned as the Giants' favored candidate for the No. 3 wide receiver spot if Mario Manningham leaves via free agency. Reese also mentioned perpetually injured Ramses Barden as someone who could help replace Manningham and said, "We'll continue to look if we can't bring Mario back."

Reese discussed the tight end situation as well. With Travis Beckum and Jake Ballard both having suffered torn ACLs in the Super Bowl, it's unlikely either of those two will be ready to start the season. That leaves the position, right now, to Bear Pascoe and practice-squad player Christian Hopkins:
"We'll address it somehow, with the draft or free agency, but we'll definitely look to address that," Reese added. "And hopefully those guys [Ballard and Beckum] will be back at some point with the ACLs."

I can't imagine Reese, Giants fans or quarterback Eli Manning is overly panicked about these issues. After all, wide receiver and tight end were supposedly big concerns last offseason after the Giants didn't do anything to address the position. And you know. That worked out all right.

Giants TE Jake Ballard injured, too

February, 5, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS — The New York Giants already lost backup tight end Travis Beckum to a knee injury in the first half of Super Bowl XLVI, and it appears as though they have lost starting tight end Jake Ballard to a knee injury as well. Ballard injured his knee on a play in the fourth quarter. And while he walked off the field under his own power, when he tried to test out the knee by running on the sideline he fell down and had to be helped to the locker room.

Assuming Ballard can't come back into the game, the only tight end the Giants have for the final 9:24 is Bear Pascoe.

Jumping over Terence Newman

January, 4, 2012
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Lots going on here Wednesday as the New York Giants practiced in preparation for Sunday's playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons. Head coach Tom Coughlin talked, the players did a lot of talking, and we'll have plenty of it for you here and of course on But I wanted to address something specific.

During Tuesday's chat, jbl429 from NYC asked whether the Giants had seen something on tape about Dallas Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman that told them they could jump over him. Tight end Bear Pascoe and fullback Henry Hynoski both added yards to key plays by hurdling Newman in Sunday night's game, and running back Ahmad Bradshaw tried to do the same but was unsuccessful. I asked Pascoe this question, and here's what he said:

"What corner his size wants to hit a 270-pound tight end up high? There might be a few, but I don't think there are too many. For me it was just instinct. If he goes low, you go high. If he goes high, you go low. I know a lot of people were surprised, but that's just the way it worked out. There was no book on him that says you're supposed to try and jump over him."

Hynoski said the same, insisting that "you don't plan things like that -- they just happen." He did, however, say that Bradshaw took a little bit of abuse in the film room Monday for being the only guy that didn't pull it off while less likely hurdlers Pascoe and Hynoski did.

"Yes, he did hear about that," Hynoski said. "We let him have it a little bit."

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts from the New York Giants' division-clinching victory over the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium on Sunday night.

What it means: The Giants finish the season at 9-7 and win the NFC East. The Cowboys finish the season at 8-8, technically in third place in the division behind the Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants started the season 6-2, weathered a brutal second-half schedule and claimed the division title with two victories over the Cowboys in the final four weeks of the season.

Winning the energy battle: The Giants came out of the gate far more fired-up than did their visitors in this winner-take-all game. Thanks to high-energy plays by everyone from Mathias Kiwanuka to Victor Cruz to Bear Pascoe -- and thanks to a laundry list of Cowboys mistakes, especially in coverage -- the Giants were able to build a 21-0 halftime lead and hold on even after the Cowboys came out of the locker room re-energized and much more focused and effective in the second half.

Cru-u-u-u-u-u-zzzz: The player of the game for the Giants -- and maybe the player of their season, at least on offense -- was wide receiver Cruz. Eight days after turning the Jets game on its head with a 99-yard touchdown catch, Cruz caught the ball running across the field in the first quarter and got Sunday night's scoring started with a 74-yard touchdown catch from Eli Manning. And in the fourth quarter, after the Cowboys had cut the lead to 21-14 and were building momentum, Cruz hauled in a 44-yard reception on 3rd-and-7 and a 20-yard catch on 2nd-and-10 to keep alive a field-goal drive. When Manning needs to make a big play, right now, Cruz appears to be his favorite target.

Pressure points: The Giants were able to get a ton of pressure on Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, at least in the first half while they built their big lead. The Cowboys were unable to get any pressure on Manning until the second half, and even then it was inconsistent and they weren't able to finish off sacks. It made the difference in the game, as it seemed clear that the Cowboys' receivers were able to beat the Giants' defensive backs if given time, but they weren't. Manning had all the time in the world to pick apart a leaky Dallas secondary, targeting an overmatched Terence Newman in the first half and Orlando Scandrick, who's likely to replace Newman as a starter in 2012, in the second.

Off-season focus: It seems extremely clear that the two areas on which the Cowboys need to win this offseason are the offensive line and the defensive secondary. No amount of talent at quarterback wide receiver, running back or linebacker will make up for their deficiencies in those two crucial building-block areas, which is where they lost their games and the division down the stretch.

Full-strength strength: The Giants' defense works only when it's able to get that pressure on the quarterback with their defensive linemen. With Osi Umenyiora back and healthy after missing four games with an ankle injury, the Giants were able to mix looks and pressures with him, Justin Tuck and 2011 breakout star Jason Pierre-Paul. If they can keep all three of their great pass-rushing ends healthy (not to mention Kiwanuka, who plays linebacker now but retains his pass-rusher's soul), they will lean hard on that for however deep they go in the playoffs. They get another high-powered passing offense next week with Matt Ryan and the Falcons coming to town, and they'll need to keep after the quarterback to make sure Atlanta's great receivers don't do damage down the field.

What's next: The Giants will host the Atlanta Falcons in a wild-card playoff game at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, right back here at MetLife Stadium. The Cowboys can begin to make plans for what to do with the 14th pick in the NFL draft.