One of Bill Parcells' pet peeves was letting a punt hit the ground. According to former Giant Phil McConkey, this was sacrilege. "It was against the law, punishable by beheading, if you let that ball hit the ground." said McConkey.
Current Giants punt returner Will Blackmon, fortunately for his sake, Bill Parcells is not his coach. Otherwise, Blackmon would not be wearing blue at all. This past week, in a critical game against the Dallas Cowboys, Blackmon broke a cardinal Parcells rule. DO NOT LET PUNTS hit the ground. Because when a punt returner allows a punt to hit the ground, field position is surrendered. In the 1986 NFC Championship game, Parcells attributed McConkey's outstanding performance as a difference maker in this game. Because McConkey caught each punt, the Giants did not lose valuable field position. On the other hand, the Washington returner did not do a good job at all. By not catching punts, Parcells calculated the Redskins conceded 112 yards in field position. Getting back to Blackmon, he did a poor job fielding punts. In fairness to Blackmon, he could have been thrown off because Dallas' regular punter punts with his right foot. With Dallas' punter Mat McBriar sidelined with an injury, rookie punter Chris Jones was inserted into the lineup, and he kicks with his left foot. Why is this significant? In the book Football Physics written by Timothy Gay PhD., Bill Belichick wrote the forward. And this is what he had to share about punting. If a right-footed punter is kicking, the ball will most likely have a counterclockwise rotation as it approaches. If the punt turns over and descends with the nose down, the ball will break to the left and the returner will have to move quickly in that direction in order to be in position to catch the ball. If the ball is coming down with the nose up, it will break right. A wobbly or end-over-end punt will be short. The opposite would be for a left footed punter. On Jones' second punt which he boomed for 54 yards, Blackmon allowed it to hit the ground. As a result, the ball bounced out of bounds at the Giants 4 yard line. By not catching this punt, Blackmon put the Giants in bad field position. However, I am assuming he forgot Jones kicks with his left foot. Thus, he did not accurately gauge the flight of the ball. And on Blackmon's muffed punt, the ball was and end-over-end punt. If this is the case, according to Belichick, the punt will be short. And Blackmon made grave errors. Besides misjudging the spin on the ball, he did not follow Parcells' credo on punt returns.
1. Sprint to the ball
2. Do not drift
3. Get Set
4. Catch it
Thankfully, an alert Greg Jones pounced on the football. By the Giants recovering the football, they averted a potential disaster. If Tom Coughlin decides to use Blackmon against the Falcons, let us hope he will play better this week.
NFL Films guru Greg Cosell reviewed the game tape of the Giants win over the Cowboys.
Here are some of his takeaways:
Manning continued to show excellent pocket movement in response to pressure, Ability to keep downfield focus and make accurate throws on the move
Giants did not run the ball with any consistency, They did not win at the point of attack
C Baas struggled in the run game for the 2nd consecutive week
Jacobs is not a short yardage runner, He runs too high and loses leverage and power
LT Diehl can be a concern in pass protection when matched one-on-one with quickness on the
Manning outstanding game, especially given Giants inability to run the ball; Great pocket movement and consistent accuracy – He was an elite QB in this game edge
A key matchup in this week's wildcard game is the Giants offensive line vs the Falcons defensive line. The Falcons have a very good run defense. They finished the season 6th in the league. Offenses gained an average of 97 yards on the ground. With Baas continuing to struggle, should Giants head coach Tom Coughlin start Kevin Boothe in his place?
Eli Manning, clearly, had his best regular season as a pro. Considering the Giants did not have a running game, Manning was able to guide this team to a 9-7 record and champions of the NFC East. Although he will most likely not be the league's MVP, without Manning's outstanding effort all season, the Giants would not have made the post season.
JPP was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month
Looks like Spags will not be coming home again.
One more note on Turner; interesting comment from grantland.com (referencing football outsiders stats): " A big game against the disinterested Buccaneers in Week 17 helped make Michael Turner's final numbers look good (301 carries, 1,340 yards, 11 touchdowns, 4.5 yards per carry), but Turner's spent most of the year looking like a shell of the player who broke out in 2008. Atlanta's rushing attack is just 25th in DVOA, and Turner himself ranks 39th among qualifying backs in the same stat."
Sorta backs up what I was saying earlier. We'll see how our g-men handle him.
I would agree that knowing that a replacement punter is left footed, and that that might make a difference, is not quite like federer preparing for nadal, but if the special teams coach and the punt returner don't realize the difference in a left footed punter then someone needs to be fired. These are professionals whose very jobs depend on the finest of details like that.
@irishmacmystic McBriar was ruled out late Saturday. Back up Jones was active for one game against Philly. I am with you. It is not like there is no film on Jones. And Quinn's special teams have been suspect all this years. If it was not for Cruz flipping field position and Jones alert on fumble recovery, we are probably talking about the Giants being out of the playoffs. And Coughlin having to get rid of Special Teams coach Tom Quinn.
Especially if they have to be at the meeting 5 minutes early, you would think that would be enough time to cover it
If I remember right, somewhere, Parcells said "you aren't a punt returner, you're a punt CATCHER". Love it!!
On Baas, are they just being stubborn about this? The running game seemed to significantly improve with Boothe at center and Petrus at left guard. When Baas came back, the running game went back down. Am I missing something? Maybe Baas is better at pass blocking? This is the kind of thing that drives us nuts.
For some reason I'm exceedingly optimistic about Sunday's game. Yeah their run defense is pretty good, but since we rely so heavily on the pass, that shouldn't hamper us too much. Their secondary is very beatable.
I think we'll stop Turner, but the guy I AM reasonably worried about is Julio Jones. If we hold him in check I think we have every reason for optimism assuming the coordinators are at least moderately okay.
Atlanta won one more game than us this year with a schedule that was significantly easier (136-120 vs. 123-133; I might have lost count adding that up but if it's wrong it's off by at most one game).
The Giants are relatively healthy, are three weeks removed from the last egg laid, and are at home in an environment Atlanta doesn't play in often. 27-17 Giants (24-17 if Tynes misses a FG he shouldn't lol).
@CommanderShepard This is an interesting game because the Falcons are in some ways the un-Giants. They consistently beat weaker teams and lost to playoff teams L NO (2), L GB, W Det. So the Giants are a fair test for them, made harder because it's an outdoor road game. A plus for Atl is that with their running and run defense they're well suited for a winter playoff game. So it's a pretty clear test for the Giants - this team is much less likely to self destruct than the past two opponents.
I think for Giants D it will come down to whether line can get consistent pressure - are the ankle gods listening? - whether J. Williams can stay close to Gonzalez and whether the zone schemes confuse the DBs so much that they release White or Jones. Failure in any one of these may mean that the Eli and offense simply have to outscore them. Turner will force the Giants to play two DTs so that pass rush will have to come from 2 DEs instead of 3.
I would not use "exceedingly optimistic" in any sentence referring to Giants. There are too many holes, too much reliance on high wire acts, too little ball control and unfortunately we're still not totally sure which team would show up. But this is a good test for both teams relatively well matched with Giants having played a little harder schedule and maybe peaking now but having been waay less consistent and having a poorer record. Playing at home helps a bit, but with Giants who knows, especially with good Atl running game. Also intangible is Atl losing in first PO game as top seed last year to GB - the sort of thing that makes a team better or another loss defines them as playoff turkeys.
Bottom line for me is that this is as good as we could ask for this year. I didn't expect playoffs going in, or even .500 given the offseason losses and training camp injuries. They've won two showdown games in a row against Jets and Dal to get into playoffs - 2 wins in four weeks against Cowgirls - and have a home playoff game. And FWIW there are similarities to four years ago, which increases confidence regarding the road ahead. This is the opportunity to re-establish effectiveness over good teams at home - they're already pretty good on the road - and finalize the emergence of the young players they need to step up to compensate for their losses, J. Williams most of all. I'm excited and a bit optimistic given this franchise's history, and glad we've gotten some good football the last couple weeks with a playoff game to maybe set the season straight.
@Paddlepedal @CommanderShepard Fair analysis. I meant exceedingly meaning I'm probably more optimistic than I should be, heh. For some reason I am easily more confident than either of the past two weeks, and not just because the last two games were wins (though that was probably part of it). We shall see. Go G-men!
@CommanderShepard Ah, excessively optimistic, defined as what people wearing blue jerseys feel after 2 wins, usually accompanied by A. Rolle predicting more.
I'm cautiously optimistic. Jints favored by 3 and Falcons aren't the Saints, so this is a good fair test of what they can do this year against a solid but not great team. I think we've seen some potential even with all the injuries which is why we interpret their letdowns as poor performances and bad coaching rather than lousy LBs. Recent performances have given us reason for hope. Now, if they take the next step by covering the holes and providing some stability for the high wire act, maybe we can compete with the big boys. If they can't or they're not that good, we'll find out Sunday.
@CommanderShepard I'm not sure we're good enough to stop Turner.
Oops, accidentally "liked" your comment instead of replying. I DON'T like it lol.
You may be right, but Turner hasn't exactly been a world beater as of late (aside from last week against the absolutely pathetic Bucs). The Jets and Cowboys figured to have more credible rushing attacks than the way Turner's been running lately (though they didn't use them much).
But yeah, if it turns out we can't stop turner then that presents a problem, and we'll have to hope our offense is almost perfect in that case...
Addendum: obviously you let the punt fall if it's close enough to the goal line. Used to be the 10 was the cutoff, but with improved punt coverage/downing, now it's probably about the 8
Great post. My memory of that championship game was Brad Benson shutting down Dexter Manley and Lawrence Taylor plowing over Joe Jacoby, so it's nice to see the long forgotten punting factor. There is no reason to let a punt hit the ground. Maybe we should forward the clip to TC and staff.