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Highlights from the annual Kickoff Luncheon

Anxiously awaiting tonight’s kickoff and the final preseason showing for the Giants and Patriots, a couple of heart warming items have been leaked out of the annual Kickoff Luncheon held in New York City that I’d like to highlight.

1) Ramses Barden was asked to read an essay aloud that he’d written during camp, in an apparent hazing assignment for rookies. The topic was ‘What does it mean to you to be a NY Giant’. His words on the subject:

“For those of you that have asked me about rookie hazing, this is it. I wrote this last night and I really kind of felt like it came from the heart.

“Most kids grow up with some sort of athletic background, be it little league baseball, pee-wee football, AAU basketball or all the above. The vast majority of their athletic careers never materialize past high school due to the extremely competitive atmosphere of collegiate and professional athletics, while their love for sports and desire to participate continues to grow.

“The NFL epitomizes the bond between those gifted enough to achieve professional excellence and those with an insatiable appreciation for football.

“The New York Football Giants believe in the long-standing values of competition, integrity, courage and toughness and have afforded me an opportunity to partake in such a tradition. It’s a great feeling to be part of an organization that knows how to win and has no tolerance for anything less.

“I am excited to earn the trust and respect of my teammates and become part of this storied winning family. The Giants have one vision and I am honored to be part of a team that only settles for Super Bowl championships.

“One Team – One Goal!”

Bravo Mr. Barden. No further comment needed.

2) Next we have Eli Manning with something of a prognostication, had this to say about his team’s much anticipated performance in 2009:

I’m not big into making predictions and saying what you don’t know is going to happen, but there are a couple things that I know that will happen… the Giants are going to be the most prepared team in the NFL.”

“The second part is, no other team will give a greater effort then the New York Giants, and that’s because this team has more players that want to win.”

Now if you’re a Giants fan, this is somewhat reassuring. There’s only so much insight that can be gleaned from practice notes, injury reports, and limited preseason action. And while Manning’s statement simply reinforces the mantra heard loud and clear from Tom Coughlin and the rest of the coaching staff this preseason, it also serves as a calming mechanism for us loyal to Big Blue who cringe at the thought of another sputtering effort put forth against the Patriots tonight. The lack of rhythm both offensively and defensively, the lack of reps for starters, and the lack of team synergy on both sides of the ball has been apparent and unsettling. And the sad fact of how performances are evaluated the next day, negatives typically outweigh the positives.

Make no mistake, there have been many positives.

But what this prediction means for the Giants tonight is that Eli’s message of preparation needs to translate on the field, and undeniably so. The form taken?

  • Minimizing mistakes and turnovers
  • Getting into a rhythm early, and staying with it
  • Spread the ball around effectively (particularly to the receivers)
  • Everyone in sync, on both sides of the ball.

Minimizing mistakes and turnovers – Illegal formations need to go away. Carr taking sacks needs to stop. And receivers need to catch the ball, period.

Getting into a rhythm early… I loved that the Giants came out no-huddle against the Jets, everyone was in rhythm, Eli looked good, the play calling was dynamic/balanced, and the result was a touchdown. The hard part for the Giants seems to be…

Staying with it.  Staying hungry seems to be a problem area for the Giants. They go up by 7 points and all of a sudden its clock management time. I like seeing the balls thrown deep down the field, give it time and “The Dream” comes up with a play… so stay with the long ball and I don’t mind it getting offset with a QB draw once in a while. That said, I’d also like to see less running on 3rd and 9 this game, call me crazy.

Spread the ball around effectively – While the Giants seemed to finally get the message last game and listen to us folks yammering about what Nicks could do for Blue, I’d still like to see more from Hixon, Smith, Barden, Nicks, Manningham, Hagen, and of course Kevin Boss.  We know what Jacobs and Bradshaw can do, and Danny Ware is probably still sore and he’s already shown some flash — so lets see more slants, crosses, screens, and deep balls to our hungry young receivers and have them make some plays.

Everyone in sync – the question of why can’t this stacked defense make routine tackles evades me. It seems like nobody is communicating, there are tons of blown assignments, and just plain poor play has crippled this defense this preseason. Say what you want about Antonio Pierce – but the guy is obviously a factor out there. We understand why he would sit this one out, but getting the D in sync is of extreme importance to the overall success of this team. I sincerely hope Eli is right in his prediction, that preparation for the Giants has been a priority and they be successful because of it.

Is this game a must win? No, it’s preseason. But a win here would certainly give us some momentum going into Week 1 against the Redskins. And if the team looked like they were totally prepared, in rhythm, and had ironed out most if not all of the kinks this week – you can be sure everyone (including the fans) will be more fired up at the start of the regular season without any lingering questions about this very capable football team.
I’ll try to post some live updates tonight during the game, hope you all can enjoy it!

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