Giants

Blogging the bEast is going to the shed

This will be the last post you will ever read on Blogging the bEast. Probably. I’m packing my old friend away in the shed. It’s been a little over two years since I launched the site, and over that time I accumulated just over 2.7 million page views. That’s nothing in comparison to a lot of football sites out there, but it’s a whole lot more than I would have imagined when I launched in May of 2011. Without that audience, I probably never would have gone this long running my site.

It would not have been possible without my incredibly supportive family, my friends Tommy Lawlor from IgglesBlitz, Jason Brewer from Bleeding Green Nation, and my other friends at the NFC East SB Nation sites (Hogs Haven, Blogging the Boys, and Big Blue View). I’d also like to thank Rafael Vela at Cowboys Nation, John Fennelly at SNY, my “Eagles think tank” friends at the +, and both the Allentown Morning Call and Philly.com for giving me a shot at more traditional media platforms. There are so many others, but I don’t want to turn this into a boring award show speech.

I’m not going away. The “next thing” will be announced at the appropriate time. Until then, you can follow me on Twitter at @JimmyKempski. I moved my account over from @Jimmy_Beast, because, you know, my site was Blogging the “bEast.” I wonder how many people thought I chose that handle because I thought I was a “beast.” That’s kind of embarrassing if it’s a lot of people. OK, you’re saying goodbye, Jimmy. Focus.

Anyway… One last farewell:

Happy NFC East 4th of July!

There will be no journalizin’ today. I’ll be taking the advice of one Donovan J. McNabb:

DonnyJ

But before I load up on ribs, I should note that the NFC East is very American. The Cowboys self-proclaimed themselves “America’s Team,” the Eagle is the national bird and appears on the presidential seal, and the Giants’ uniform colors are red, white and blue.

But the most American of them all is the Redskins, who should be praised for their efforts to honor Native Americans. This is your day, Dan Snyder. Kick back with a beer and enjoy the day, knowing that you are truly a great, great man.

Random notes around the NFC East: Dez’s “maturity,” Donovan’s Twitter account, Redskins TE woes, and the Giants’ interest in Vonta Leach

Cowboys

• During the 2013 draft, there was a lot of talk about guards being drafted highly, and whether or not there was value there. A common thing for people to say about highly rated guards was “Well if he’s Larry Allen then hell yeah you’d take him that high.” Here’s a rare video of Allen chasing down a linebacker after an INT. His athleticism was incredible. Comparing a guard prospect to Larry Allen is like comparing a QB prospect to John Elway. You just don’t do it.

• Former Cowboys scout Bryan Broaddus went on 105.3 the Fan last week and said that Dez Bryant had the worst background he had ever seen. I’m not sure if dallasnews.com cut the article off because the rest is behind a paywall, or if the article is limited to just two quick blurbs by Broaddus, but I would have loved to have heard more.

Dez Bryant is in a weird spot right now, although a great one. He had an absolutely ridiculous 2nd half of the season last year, and people are beginning to think he’s among the elite WRs in the game, or at least on the cusp of that status. Additionally, although the offseason isn’t quite over yet, Bryant has so far managed to stay out of trouble during the downtime for the first time in his career. This has led to weird praise for Dez for “growing up,” although to be fair, it’s not like Dez himself is the one saying he’s reformed. Still, in the (amended) words of Chris Rock, “What you want, a cookie? You’re not supposed to (get in trouble every offseason)!”

DeMarcus Ware aside, Dez Bryant might be the best player on the team, and he’s only 24. However, while it’s fine and good that Bryant is keeping his pants pulled up and he’s not running up 6 figure tabs at Dallas-are jewelers, let’s take it slow with the maturity thing until it’s demonstrated over more than just 75% of an offseason.

• Phil Costa is engaged to Brooke Hogan, Hulk’s daughter. Wait a second! Brooke Hogan just got engaged, married, and divorced to some guy in a span of like 3 months, all in 2013:

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The “Should (fill in the player) return kick/punts” question emerges again, this time with David Wilson

My buddy Ed Valentine over at Big Blue View brought up the debate of whether or not David Wilson should return kicks this season. That’s always a fascinating debate to me, and one that I’ve had quite a bit with DeSean Jackson and Dez Bryant as punt returners.

One way to look at the debate is to ask, “What would my opponent prefer?” Clearly, if I’m an opponent of the Giants, I don’t want David Wilson returning kicks, the same way I wouldn’t want DeSean Jackson or Dez Bryant returning punts against me. As an Eagles fan, last season I watched Wilson return kicks Week 3 against Philly for 36, 48, 45, 53, 23, and 37 yards. That would be 5 returns of at least 36 yards in one game. To put that in perspective, the Eagles have had one kick return longer than 33 yards in the last two years, which was 44 yards, and they actually lost a fumble on that one decent return.

If you have a guy that’s among the best in the game at doing something, it’s really difficult to have him stop doing that thing. Wilson was 6th in the NFL in KR average last season:

David Wilson

He also had at least 14 more kick returns than anyone in the top 10, which shows a certain level of consistency.

In the past I’ve advocated that DeSean Jackson and Dez Bryant not give up their punt return duties. However…

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NFC mEdiocre

Over the last 3 years, teams in the NFC East have averaged 7.75 wins. That’s not awful, but it’s obviously just below the league average of 8. The NFC East ranks 5th among the 8 NFL division in wins during that span.

1

The NFC East also ranks 5th over the last 3 years in point differential, which makes sense. Again, the NFC East isn’t awful here, especially compared to the AFC West and the AFC South, who combined for a point differential of -864 over the last 2 years.

2

But here’s where the NFC East gets really mediocre. Over the last 3 years, the division champ has averaged just 9.7 wins. That is the lowest total in the NFL among the 8 divisions.

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Random notes around the NFC East: Tough guy Golden Tate, Tuck in decline, Kelce making line calls, and shameless Joe Theismann

Giants

Justin Tuck is in the final year of his contract, and he says he doesn’t want to think about a new deal. He shouldn’t, because his value has probably never been lower. Tuck is going to make $4.5 million this season with workout bonuses on top. He’ll cost $6.15 million against the cap. In reality, while Tuck has been a great Giant for years, he’s somewhat fortunate that the team hasn’t asked him to take a pay cut. From 2007-2010, Tuck was a monster:

Tuck 2007-2010

In the last 2 years? Not so much:

Tuck 2011-2012

Let’s put those averages side-by-side:

Tuck averages

If you’re a big Justin Tuck fan, enjoy him this season. If his production doesn’t improve, this may be the last you’ll see of him in a Giants uni.

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NFC East scoring averages over the last 5 years

In doing research for a separate project, I happened to notice that the Giants are consistently in the Top 10 in scoring every year. I knew they put up a lot of points, but hadn’t realized that they haven’t had a single down year in the last half decade, in terms of their ability to put points on the board. And so, I thought I’d take a look around the rest of the NFC East to see how everyone else compared:

NFC East scoring

Notes:

• The contract situations of Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks are the big concerns this season for the Giants heading into the regular season. Will their unsettled contracts become a distraction? It’s certainly not out of the question to think they might. However, when you look at these Giants teams of the last five years, they’re very different in a number of ways. In 2008, for example, they were a very run-heavy offense, but they eventually transformed into a potent passing attack. They’ve also experienced a lot of turnover. Here are their 2008 starters compared to their 2012 starters. Only 3 players remained starters over that 5 year span:

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Random notes around the NFC East: Sapp’s an idiot, a new podcast, the Skins’ play action, & NFCE up-and-comers

Giants

• Warren Sapp slammed Michael Strahan to make some point that Simeon Rice was a great player. He also got in a shot at Jon Runyan:

“Nobody ever talks about Simeon (Rice),” Sapp told the Tampa Tribune. “Simeon was a better rusher than Michael Strahan any day of the week and twice on Sunday. (Rice) didn’t rush the worst lineman. You know the right tackle is the worst of the five. Strahan played right end his first four years.

“When they were putting the label on him as a bust, they put ‘B-U-S . OK, let’s transition him on the other side and see if he can play in his fourth year.”

“They put (Strahan) at right end and he couldn’t do it, so they moved him to the weak guy. One-on-one with the (Eagles right tackle) Jon Runyans for eight quarters every year. Sim won’t ever have his name brought up (for the Hall of Fame), and that’s a shame. He’s one of the best pass rushers I’ve ever encountered in my life.”

There’s no questioning Warren Sapp’s professional football career. He was an outstanding player. However, those days are over, and both Runyan and Strahan have gone on to bigtime post-football careers. Sapp is a broke, alleged woman-beating asshole who is horrrrrrid on TV, while Runyan is now a congressman, and Strahan is a legitimately talented TV personality. Showtime wised up and fired him (or didn’t renew his contract, or whatever other nice way of saying it) after making the terrible decision to hire him in the first place, but it’s absolutely incredible to me that NFL Network renewed Sapp’s contract last year. He’s a bad guy, and worse, he sucks at his job. It’s only a matter of time before NFL Network dumps him. Then again, that’s a station that employs Heath Evans and Jamie Dukes, sooooo…

• Recently released Packers LB Desmond Bishop has gotten interest from a number of teams, including the Giants.  The other teams are the Vikings, Chiefs, and Jaguars. The Giants seem to like bringing in players who play well against them. For years, Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson played well against the Giants, and now they are Giants. Similarly, Bishop had a great game against the Giants in the 2011 playoffs, and now he’s getting a look. More on that game if they sign him.

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My NFC East flag football team

My friends over at Hogs Haven are doing a 7-on-7 “Redskins flag football draft,” which is an idea I love. RG3 is not allowed in their draft, but he will be here. I figured I’d pick my own NFC East 7-on-7 flag football draft using their rules, which are…

  1. Automatic rush allowed for all defenders
  2. Full contact blocking on the line of scrimmage, but no downfield blocking
  3. No Kickoffs, but there are field goals
  4. The quarterback can run at will
  5. Everyone is an eligible receiver, so blitz at your own risk
  6. NO RG3

Here’s my NFC East 7-on-7 team:

  • RG3, Redskins: Screw that last rule. I’m taking RG3. He’s my QB (duh), and he’s also athletic enough to D up. Plus, if I want to run the ball, I’ll just run with RG3. No need whatsoever for a running back.
  • DeSean Jackson, Eagles: Fairly obvious choice, in my opinion, solely for his speed. I’ve never seen anybody able to cover DJax in 1-on-1 drills at Eagles training camp, and I don’t see many people covering him in flag football.
  • Dez Bryant, Cowboys: Another fairly obvious choice, for his speed and size.
  • Lane Johnson, Eagles: Most athletic offensive lineman in the division, and he used to be a TE. He’ll block for RG3, and he can leak out into the occasional pass pattern. He also played QB in JuCo, so we can run some trick plays, or he can be the emergency QB if RG3 blows out a knee.
  • Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants: He and Lane Johnson will serve as my primary pass rushers, but they’re also athletic enough to hold their own covering bigger guys. JPP is 6’5, and Johnson is 6’6, so they will both be instructed to get their hands in the air on D. I’ll also trust that JPP will be athletic enough to figure out how to pass protect, and I’ll assume he can catch a football if it’s thrown his way from RG3. “Healthy back” disclaimers apply.
  • J.J. Wilcox, Cowboys: Wilcox played slot receiver in college, before moving to safety. He had 138 rushes for 968 yards (7.0 avg) and 14 TDs to go along with 45 catches for 898 yards and 4 TDs in his career at Georgia Southern. He’s a guy who can be competent on both sides of the ball.
  • Isaac Sopoaga, Eagles: Oddly enough, Sopoaga was the emergency kicker for the 49ers in his tenure there. He played rugby in Samoa, so I trust him to play both sides of the ball as well, although obviously, I wouldn’t be asking him to cover receivers down the field or go out for many passes. He’ll obviously play OL/DL.

Who you got?

Random notes around the NFC East: Bandwagon fan Chris Christie, Jordan Reed’s spreading injury, Miles “Hamstrings” Austin, and the Eagles from worst to first?

Giants

• NJ Governor Chris Christie is pretty much the worst kind of football fan there is:

“The Giants and the Jets pretty much stunk when I was a kid,” Christie said. “And my father was a Giants fan and I used to remember watching him when I was eight, nine-years-old. Every Sunday, he would watch the Giants and yell at the TV set. I used to think to myself, why would I want to root for a team that makes you angry? So I decided not to and the Cowboys were really good back then.”

That is pretty much the definition of a textbook bandwagon fan. Oddly, in a very non-bandwagon choice, he’s also a Mets fan.

• The Giants think David Wilson’s pass protection has improved. It better:

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