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New York Giants Sunday Morning Storylines: Big Blue Special Teams Rising from the Ashes

July 6th, 2014 at 7:00 AM
By Dan Benton

Happy Sunday, New York Giants fans! We're a little more than two weeks away from the start of training camp, and although it feels as if it's taking forever, we are slowly getting there. As we look to pass another day, we share the following headlines for you to enjoy over your morning coffee.

New York Giants Special Teams Rising from the Ashes

My "special teams health indicates organizational health" hypothesis gets plenty of support from the 2013 Giants. Special teams contributors from the 2011 Super Bowl run, like Mark Herzlich and Spencer Paysinger, were torn between kick coverage and the starting lineup. With the Giants grabbing last-ditch running backs off the waiver wire, they had no hope of acquiring a quality returner. Injuries and confusion led to three punt return touchdowns early in the season, while the combination of Reuben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan and Michael Cox did nothing of interest on returns.

Trindon Holliday's arrival solves the return problem, and the Giants were already restoring law and order on the coverage units by season's end. Early in last season, Damontre Moore (who made himself useful on special teams with a blocked punt) could be seen lined up as a kick gunner on the wing, with reserve tight end Larry Donnell on the other wing. No wonder Dexter McCluster sliced through the first line of defense: The Giants were just throwing the best available healthy bodies at a bad situation. Later in the year, suitable youngsters like Cooper Taylor took over as gunners, and the long returns became less frequent. With some free agent arrivals and lots of rookies, the current roster is deep enough to keep the Giants from doing desperate stuff like make 250-pound pass rushers race up the sideline.

Kid Cruz Scores in the Dwyer

Kid Cruz, the 3-year-old colt named after New York Giants’ receiver Victor Cruz, scored a touchdown when he caught Captain Serious in the final strides to take the Grade 2 $200,000 Dwyer Stakes by three-quarters of a length at Belmont Park.

It was the biggest win in the career of the bay colt, who was claimed by Linda Rice for $50,000 on Nov. 22, 2013.

“I was a little nervous about whether they were going to go fast enough today,” Rice said. “Irad made a strong effort from the gate to make sure he got engaged earlier, so we just didn’t hand it over to a slow pace. He did a beautiful job. The horse seems to be getting better all the time – perfecting his trade.”

Group Chat Gives Giants Better Communication

It didn't take long for rookie running back Andre Williams to get the message: the Giants need to be a cohesive unit "at all times."

Thanks to group text messages — one with his position players only and one that includes running back coach Craig Johnson — that memo has gone mobile.

Williams said group chat is used as an open forum, a learning place and a means to build chemistry. The linebackers and wide receivers have established similar group texts.

"Mike Cox, he's just a funny guy, we have a lot of fun with him," Williams said. "Mike is just different . . . He eats cheese and brown sugar sandwiches for breakfast. Like, that's his go-to breakfast. That just gives you a sense of what type of mentality he's got going into the thing. It's just fun to talk to him in a group chat."

Also…

Tags: Andre Williams, Cooper Taylor, Craig Johnson, Damontre Moore, Football, Jerrel Jernigan, Larry Donnell, Mark Herzlich, Michael Cox, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Spencer Paysinger, Trindon Holliday, Victor Cruz

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2 Responses to “New York Giants Sunday Morning Storylines: Big Blue Special Teams Rising from the Ashes”

  1.  fanfor55years says:

    I think the “hidden yards” that are the key to special teams was one of the underrated reasons for the horrific start last season. It certainly looks like the Giants have upgraded in that area this season in regard to talent available. Whether the coaches can make use of that talent is really the question because the availability of a plethora of potential gunners and point men on the return and coverage teams is really not an issue in 2014. I have not been a fan of Tom Quinn through the years and thought the only good years he had since Tyree left were in 2011-2012 when he got the benefit of an assistant coach who had been a kamikaze on special teams for the Eagles and brought that mentality to the Giants. Larry Izzo couldn’t help last season because the talent pool ran dry. But I think we SHOULD expect a lot from these teams this season. It’s one of the reasons that I am looking forward to 2014 in anticipation of a surprisingly good season.

    I’m not buying the criticism of Eli. He has so little with which to work last season and apparently the degree of ignorance about how that affects even the most talented quarterback is limitless. Eli Manning is a HUGE plus for this team yet the pundits have turned him into a “neutral” (and in some cases even a “negative”, which is beyond stupid).

    I don’t see how any objective observer can fail to note that we now should have a very strong defensive secondary in a league where defenses increasingly depend upon having that to win.

    I think those who do not notice that we have a very deep and probably very talented group of running backs are missing something.

    I think we have seriously improved the offensive line and, provided that Mosley becomes what I think he will (and have been insisting he should) we could have a high-quality top six players on the O-line depth chart, and solid depth behind that.

    I saw enough of Michael Strahan after he had serious injuries to know that those who are writing off JPP are out of their minds. It’s really silly to assume that he will NOT be healthy enough to regain most, or all, of the form that had him in the discussion of which defensive player was likely to be the best in the business.

    And I think the pundits are paying WAY too little attention to the boost that the Giants will get from a faster pace of offensive play and a far easier set of reads for the receivers. Giants fans know how hard it was for players who were other-than-awfully-bright to execute Gilbride’s offense, and only we (along with the league’s defensive coordinators) really know how utterly predictable it had become while also utterly stuck in its pattern with very little modification to suit circumstances. The national press doesn’t know much about that.

    I don’t see a championship in 2014, but on the other hand, I wouldn’t rule it out. I don’t know how the season will go, which teams will get lucky regarding injuries, who will be “hot” in December and January, etc. But neither does anyone else know those things, and the early confidence with which folks predict what will happen with teams is utterly futile. As has often been said, plans look great until you’re punched in the nose. It’s only then that the winners and losers get separated. But I do know that I am looking forward to this season, the terrific schedule of home games at MetLife, and the “new look Giants”. It should be a LOT more fun this season because I’m pretty positive they aren’t going to start out 0-6 and be out of the running before the season has really begun.

    All you “realists” out there can come up with all the questions about this team, and I readily acknowledge that there are many of those. What those realists frequently forget is that every other team has its questions and uncertainties, and the ball may well not bounce their way. Seattle had nearly everything go their way last season (including the zebras allowing their defensive backs to play more aggressively than the rules technically allow). It’s probably someone else’s turn in 2014. Why not the Giants?

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