Quarterly Report: 2013 Q3 Analysis (Via Playlist)

Alas, summer is over…so is the U.S. government for now (not really). Perhaps worst of all, as of this past Sunday there will never be another new episode of Breaking Bad, the best written television show since the Sopranos.

Luckily, despite the industry’s best efforts, music continues. Here are 29 of the best songs to come out over the past three months, and a considerably older playlist closer in honor of Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, Tuco, Skinny Pete and Los Pollos Hermanos.

We’ll miss you!

Also, this is a pretty awesome music video from one of the best bands to come out of Long Island in a long time.

NGHBRS – Hold Up Girl [Instagram Video]

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COMPLETE DAY 1 2013 NFL SEASON/PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS

Let’s see how close I can get with these…comments welcome.

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Notes from Preseason Week 3: Giants vs. Jets

This past weekend’s Metlife Bowl was ugly. Neither team seemed able to move the ball, and both were plagued by mental errors (the Giants even had a string of four defensive penalties in a row at one points).

Big Blue also continued their red zone woes as they are now 0-8 inside the 20, and a season-ending injury to safety Stevie Brown isn’t going to help the defense as they seem to struggle in zone coverage.

Here are some notes on each positional unit regarding their performance Saturday and what it could indicate as the Giants prepare to make their final cuts next week:

Quarterback: Eli continued to struggle, particularly regarding his chemistry with Hakeem Nicks. He finished the game 8-of-20 for 83 yards with no TDs or interceptions. His connection with Randle may have been the only bright spot of his performance. Curtis Painter took the lion’s share of snaps for the game, looking serviceable on a 13-of-29 day for 140 yards. Its safe to say it wasn’t enough to dethrone Carr as the QB2 though, and its unlikely we’ll see Painter on the final 53-man roster.

Running Back: David Wilson opened the game with a beautiful 84 yard TD run on the Giants first offensive play from scrimmage. Andre Brown continued to look good as a 3rd down back and alternative to Wilson. The biggest story here yet again was Michael Cox, who may have solidified his roster spot by proving his value on special teams with two 30+ yard kickoff returns. Neither Torrain nor Scott did much to challenge Cox for that final halfback spot on the roster.

Fullback: Hynoski is back at practice and Ben Guidugli has been cut. Its safe to say there will be no further change at fullback.

Tight End: We didn’t get to see much out of Brandon Myers again, but that likely isn’t worth noting. Chances are the Giants are choosing not to show that card in the preseason and we’ll see much more from him once regular season play commences. Bear Pascoe reminded us that he is one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL with key blocks on Wilson’s TD run as well as on the backside of Andre Brown’s biggest run of the night and on Torrain’s one significant run. Larry Donnell also continued to impress and is making a strong case for the Giants to keep him as a 4th tight end behind Myers, Pascoe and Adrien Robinson.

Wide Receiver: Although Nicks seemed to be off regarding his timing with Eli Manning, he did make a spectacular one handed grab and manage to draw three pass interference penalties against Kyle Wilson. Nicks should also be given credit for a big downfield block he threw on Wilson’s touchdown run. Randle continues to be the Giants most consistent receiver in the preseason. Jernigan had a team high five catches for 66 yards, but his chemistry was noticeably better with Painter than Eli. Julian Talley also caught two nice passes from Painter, but it is unlikely he’ll make it past this final round of cuts.

Offensive Line: The offensive line, including Justin Pugh who started at right tackle, was solid. The only exception to this was at Center where Jim Cordle was consistently run over by Sheldon Richardson and looked like a pushover for most of the game. The Giants adjustment to the line (LT: Beatty, LG: Brewer, C: Boothe, RG: Snee, RT: Pugh) while Diehl and Baas recover from injury is one that Giants fans should be comfortable with.

Defensive Line: If Justin Tuck continues to play the way he has, 2013 could bring a return to the Pro Bowl. Tuck has looked almost J.J. Watt-esque in the pass rush, adding an interception to his collection of batted down passes this preseason on Saturday. He has also consistently managed to get his hands on the QB, delivering a big hit on Geno Smith towards the end of the first half. On the inside of the line Rogers and Austin both had multiple big hits, making the final cuts at DT that much more difficult for the Giants staff. With Cullen Jenkins and Johnathan Hankins both playing well, JPP finally coming off the PUP list and Damontre Moore close to a return it looks like the Giants could finally have a dominant defensive line again.

Linebackers: Dan Connor started at MLB, but Herzlich ended up leading the team in tackles for the night with 8 (6 solo). Kyle Bosworth also looked good with seven tackles and was a standout on special teams. With Aaron Curry being cut (as well as Jake Muassau and Etienne Sabino), the Giants have 6 linebackers in camp. Its likely all six will still be on the roster come opening day.

Cornerbacks: Prince Amukamara was the stud of the group again, though he did make some noticeable errors when in zone coverage. Aaron Ross had a solid outing, though he too had a few mental mistakes, mostly erring on the side of being overly aggressive (which is the category of mistake you’d prefer to see). Terrell Thomas looked great, considering it was his first time playing in two years, and Trumaine Mcbride also had another solid outing. Look for the Giants to keep these four, plus Corey Webster (expected back this week) and Jayron Hosley (who left the game with a sprained ankle) on the final roster.

Safeties: The biggest story here was the aforementioned loss of Stevie Brown for the season. Rolle and Brown were arguably a Top 5 safety duo in the league, but with Brown out and Rolle recovering from an ankle injury, the safety position becomes a bit of a question mark for the Giants. Ryan Mundy was a ballhawk and could be a suitable replacement for Brown this year. Will Hill looked good, but yet another suspension for the 23 year-old will make it hard for the Giants to keep him around. Personally, I like keeping Cooper Taylor in that final safety spot over Tyler Sash, as Sash looked sluggish in coverage on Saturday and Taylor has a much bigger upside. We will have to see how Taylor performs in his first preseason action Thursday night (if he does in fact play).

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*Positive* Notes From the Giants Second Preseason Game, Things to Watch for vs Jets

Photo Credit: Brad Penner – USA TODAY SPORTS

At first glance, week two of the preseason probably left a bitter taste in the mouths of most New York Giants fans. For starters, the linebackers remain unimpressive (although Dan Connor did play well enough to take Herzlich’s spot at the top of the MLB depth chart). Then the injury bug seemed to have had its way with some prominent parts of the team with Victor Cruz (bruised heel), David Baas (sprained MCL) and Justin Tuck (strained hamstring) all leaving the game. But perhaps most troubling was the incompetence the Giants continue to show in the red zone. Big Blue was 0-4 converting inside the twenty against the Colts, bringing them to 0-6 in that category for the preseason and raising Josh Brown’s fantasy value through the roof.

Still, there were aspects of the game that Big Blue Nation could draw positivity from. You just might have had to look a little harder.

Here are a few of them:

  • The Run Game Looked On Point – David Wilson rushed for 34 yards on 8 carries, including this 21 yard explosion. He also caught two balls for an additional 21 yards, and made some jaw-dropping cuts. Andre Brown proved he was still the more reliable option as a third down back, as he is superior in pass protection and put together a good game on the ground as well, tallying 36 yards on eight carries. He also converted on a few key 3rd and shorts (once on 4th and inches) and added a 6 yard reception. Finally, Michael Cox made a strong case for moving past Ryan Torain and the oft injured Da’Rel Scott. Cox caught two screen passes from Ryan Nassib in the 3rd quarter for 28 and 21 yards respectively, with the 28-yarder representing the Giants longest play of the night. He also looked solid running the ball and on special teams.
  • Bear Pascoe Was Solid At Fullback - Its still unclear whether or not Henry Hynoski will be able to return by Week 1. After watching Bear Pascoe on Sunday, Hynoski missing the Dallas game seems less catastrophic. Pascoe looked solid in pass coverage, even when the offensive line, most notably David Diehl, folded in front of him. Pascoe also had several huge blocks to open up holes for his tailbacks. First on the second play of the first drive for Wilson and then on 4th and inches for Andre Brown with five minutes left in the half.
  • Jayron Hosley Back on the Radar - It seemed like Jayron Hosley was lost in the mix for most of training camp regarding the battle for playing time at corner. It wasn’t until last week that we started hearing Hosley’s name seemed to pop back up in the rotation conversation. Hosley validated those whispers Sunday showing strong coverage, and registering an interception. Speaking of the secondary, its a shame Ross was at the butt end of Reggie Wayne’s circus catch and took that ill-advised face masking penalty because he was putting a nice game together before that. Ross looked good in coverage, and his experience showed in sniffing out certain routes/plays. He also caused a fumble on special teams and was responsible for a big coverage stop on Coby Fleener on the Giants’ first defensive series of the game. Also worth mentioning, Prince Amukamara looked phenomenal yet again. Giants’ secondary looks like it will be formidable once they get Antrel Rolle back from his ankle injury.
  • The Defensive Line Seems to be Returning To Form – Before hurting his hamstring Sunday, Justin Tuck looked as though he was well on his way back to Pro Bowl form. He was doing a great job keeping contain on the edges when Luck would roll out to his side and even knocked down a pass towards the end of the first quarter. Mike Patterson had a big hit to help set up Hosley’s second quarter interception and Mathias Kiwanuka seemed to be a permanent fixture in the Colts backfield. Most impressive again was Adewale Ojomo. Ojomo posted 4 tackles all on stops (failed offensive plays) including the stopping of a screen play that really put his increased football smarts on display. Additionally, Ojomo had a huge hit on 3rd & 5 to kill a drive and was able to put pressure on the backfield from the left DT position showing his versatility as a lineman.
  • Nicks and Randle Each Had A Pair of Big Catches – Hakeem Nicks was definitely shaking the cobwebs off, and appeared slow on most of his routes but he still managed to connect with Eli for two 20+ yard receptions. Randle also showed a continued improvement catching a pair of first down balls. On the other side of the receiver coin, Ramses Barden saw significant targets in this game and was unimpressive. He looked sluggish and unproductive, and its discouraging to see a player his size get balls knocked out of his hands so easily.
  • Chandler Harnish Connects with Pam Oliver – I’m relying heavily on the fact that Pam Oliver didn’t get hurt as justification for finding this so funny. Even if its not a proper justification, the laughing out loud at Chandler Harnish hitting Pam Oliver in the face with the ball was unavoidable. Hats off to you Mr. Harnish, this may have been the biggest highlight of the game.

lolz – GIF Credit: TheBigLead.com

Things to Watch for in the Jets Game:

  • A Shuffled Offensive Line: We’ll get to see Justin Pugh get his first start with the Giants’ O-Line reeling from Baas’ injury. David Diehl will move inside to left guard (with Pugh taking his spot at RT) and Kevin Boothe will start at center, further proving just how versatile/valuable he is to this offensive line.
  • Cooper Taylor’s 1st Action: Fifth round pick Cooper Taylor has been injured for the first two preseason games. It hasn’t been confirmed, but it looks as though we’ll finally get to see him in a game scenario this weekend as he’s returned to practice. There is a lot of buzz around Taylor and this week could be critical to whether he’ll make the final 53 man roster or end up spending the year on the practice squad.
  • Jerrel Jernigan Returns: The battle for the 5th receiver spot seems to be tight between Barden and Jernigan with the former getting significant snaps last week. Jernigan has had a stellar camp while Barden has been unimpressive. With JJ returning from an injury that saw him sitting out against the Colts, it’ll be worth watching how many snaps/targets he gets this week and what he does with them.
  • Damontre Moore / Adewale Ojomo: Damontre Moore had an incredible first preseason game before missing last week. Ojomo has been arguably the most dominant defensive lineman for the Giants (although its been against 3rd & 4th stringers). It’ll be worth watching how they are each used this week and how they perform. For Moore, it could indicate how much playing time he could be getting this season. For Ojomo, it could show his status in beating out Adrian Tracy for the last DE spot on the final roster. Ojomo fans will hopefully get to see #71 in the game before the 4th quarter Saturday.
  • Bubble Players In General: The Giants need to cut their roster down from 88 to 75 by next Wednesday. They then need to have their final 53 man team by August 31st. There are a lot of players still making their case for the team. Tyler Sash, Trumaine McBride, Larry Donnell & Kyle Bosworth seem to have proven their worth. Will Terrell Thomas make the cut in a deep secondary? Will Ojomo or Tracy hold down the final spot on the DE rotation and will it be Marvin Austin or Shaun Rogers that grab the final spot on the interior of the defensive line? Even Jernigan and Barden are still fighting for a spot on the team as the Giants might decide to cut one of them in favor of keeping an extra d-back or someone with more value on special teams. Either way its an exciting time of the preseason to watch as the roster gets trimmed down.

REFERENCES:
Big Blue View
Big Blue United
Giants.com
In Reese We Trust Facebook Page

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Make sure to follow me on twitter at @heynardo and for more of my coverage of the New York Giants check out my column for Big Blue United.

 

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Takeaways from the Giants preseason opener

Photo Credit | Associated Press

As proven Saturday, the Giants still have several areas they need to address before they open the season in Dallas September 8th. Still, there were several players that were impressive against the Steelers, some of which were surprisingly so.

Below is a list of five positive notes Giants fans can take away from the team’s preseason opener:

    • Damontre Moore is a beast: We all knew he was a freak athlete and a sack machine in college, but the 20-year-old defensive end showed he could have the potential to be a dominant pass rusher at the pro level immediately. Moore registered a blocked punt, 4 tackles (including 1 for a loss), and seemed to be in the Steelers’ backfield almost every one of the 29 snaps he was on the field for Saturday. If he plays up to this level for the rest of the preseason, look for Moore to get a serious roll in the Giants’ defensive end rotation in passing situations this season.
    • Surprises in the Secondary: We may have to wait another week to see rookie safety Taylor Cooper and Corey Webster may have looked a little shaky, but there were some pleasant surprises in the secondary. Safety Tyler Sash was one of the biggest standout performers of the night, registering 4 tackles and deflecting a pass. Sash also recovered a David Gilreath fumbled punt return on special teams. At cornerback, Trumaine McBride is a name that hasn’t come up all that often. Still the journeyman made a strong point for the Giants to keep him around saturday. He was a ballhawk on special teams and looked great in press coverage, both are characteristics the Giants could certainly use.
    • Randle & Cruz both had big receptions: Eli Manning may have only completed two of his five passes on saturday, but they were both big ones. Manning connected with Victor Cruz for a 57 yard touchdown, showing Cruz was worth the contract headaches of the offseason. Rueben Randle may have been a little slow off the line on his first target, missing an opportunity for an 80-yard touchdown connection, but Manning still hit him for 16 yards three plays later. In Randle’s defense, he did torch Ike Taylor (the covering corner) on the missed opportunity, and we can chalk up his slow release off the line to working out the preseason kinks.
      Sidenote: on the missed Manning-Randle connection David Wilson did a great job picking up a blitzing Steelers’ linebacker (Lawrence Timmons), showing some of the improvements he’s made in that department this offseason.
    • Cox & Scott both looked good: While Wilson and Andre Brown may not have had the best games on the ground, Michael Cox and Da’Rel Scott both made cases for roster spots on the ground and catching the ball out of the backfield. Scott in particular showed his big play potential. If he can learn to keep his legs churning a little better he could challenge for serious playing time as his biggest problems seems to be the fact he’s usually brought down by weak arm and ankle tackles.
    • Other Defensive Highlights: Overall, the linebackers were largely unimpressive. However, Jacquian Williams did block a Ben Roethlisberger pass at the line and looked decent in coverage. Kiwanuka looked good in his return to playing as a down lineman and Stevie Brown was solid when playing in the box, something the Giants hope to do a lot of this season. Somewhat under the radar was Adewale Ojomo, who has largely gotten lost in the remarkable depth at defensive end the Giants are fortunate enough to possess. Ojomo registered 1.5 sacks and another QB hurry in just 16 snaps, giving some credence to having included him in my “Player’s to Watch” series for bigblueunited.com.
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The Only Free Agent The Giants Should Be Pursuing (Its not Vonta Leach)

Photo via Stony Brook University’s Flickr

Call me an overly optimistic Giants fan, but there isn’t a whole lot out there on the free agent market right now that would represent a financially worthwhile upgrade for the Giants. Sure there are some semi-over-the-hill linebackers (Ayanbadejo, Bart Scott, Takeo Spikes) that would provide leadership and experience to an otherwise rag tag core of LBs, but getting them to come down to an affordable level for the Giants doesn’t seem feasible.

As for signing Vonta Leach to a multiyear deal to the tune of roughly $3 million per season, this seems like it would be the sort of ‘name grab’ signing that Jerry Reese has been so adamant about avoiding. Hynoski is the perfect fullback for Gilbride’s offense, and while he may be out for Week 1, Bear Pascoe can do a more than capable job filling his shoes until he returns. The money required to sign Leach, would be much better spent elsewhere.

So where should it go?

The answer is the offensive line. First priority is obviously to get Justin Pugh under contract, but there is also a local monster of an offensive tackle that the Giants could land as well. Michael Bamiro, is a 6’8″, 344 pound behemoth that has spent the past three years in the Giants backyard as a cornerstone for one of the fastest rising college football programs in the country, Stony Brook University.

In addition to his size, Bamiro is sound in terms of technique, intelligent and one hell of an athlete. He held a pro day style workout July 11th in New Jersey, and it was pretty much unanimous among the scouts from the 22 squads (including the Giants) in attendance that he was extremely impressive. He didn’t do any timed drills, but he showed great athleticism and balance during positional drills. Bamiro is also in possession of the incredibly long arms (measuring 36 & 1/8″) that a lot of Justin Pugh’s detractors were clambering about when the Giants drafted him back in April. In fact, had he been eligible for the draft this year, Bamiro would have had the 4th longest wingspan of all linemen at the combine.

So why wasn’t Bamiro eligible for the draft?

Don’t worry it wasn’t some sort of suspension or character issue. In fact, he tried to parlay his eligibility into pursuing his masters degree. The problem was due to several transfers and a red shirt year (Bamiro spent two years pursuing academic excellence at UPitt as a non-athlete before deciding he wanted to give football a try), he had used up all of his eligibility. Unfortunately, it took the N.C.A.A until way after the draft to determine this was the case.

At Stony Brook, Bamiro started 36 out of 39 games and was all conference last season. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism, which means he could probably write this article better than I am currently doing. His coach Chuck Priore recently gushed over him in a Newsday article, saying “He’s been a major part of the road to success not only as a player but as a person. He never missed a practice, never missed a game because of injury. He stands for hard work and toughness, and he’s a good person.”

Where can I get a letter of recommendation like that?

Yes, Bamiro is far from perfect, and will need some polish. He’s only really played in a run-centric offense and is still a little cumbersome in passing scenarios. But he’s a brick wall on running plays, having proven his ability to dominate both bigger defensive ends and speed rushers alike. Not too mention his size, work ethic and raw athleticism alone make him an intriguing option.

The biggest question with Bamiro is where he would fit on the Giants offensive line. First thing to note is that he would not be stepping immediately into a starting roll. He’s a project, and as much as the Long Islander in me loves Stony Brook, he wasn’t exactly competing in the SEC for the past few years. Chances are he’ll spend a year on the taxi squad before competing for a spot on the active roster, most likely at right tackle. The Giants are currently grooming Justin Pugh there, but Pugh is versatile and could easily make the shift to guard. With a lot of the staples in the trenches reaching the point of retiring for the Giants, we could be looking at a newly rebuilt offensive line before this one is even out the door. If you ask me, a starting front of Michael Bamiro (RT), Justin Pugh (RG), Jim Cordle (C), Kevin Boothe (LG) and Will Beatty (LT) in 2015 wouldn’t be too bad of a scenario for the Giants.

Well maybe shop for a new center if Bass leaves or retires…

If the Giants can sign Bamiro relatively cheap, this is a strong move. If nothing else he’ll push Pugh to stay on top of his game, knowing that Bamiro is right on his tail in the depth chart. Best case scenario, Pugh and Bamiro form a dominant right side of the line for the next decade or so. After all, the Giants have done well for themselves in the past signing local guys as undrafted free agents (Victor Cruz, Keith Elias).

Maybe Bamiro can develop into the next hometown hero for Big Blue.

ESPN ‘s NFL Live Discussing Michael Bamiro


References:
Stony Brook Athletics Website
Newsday
New York Giants Website

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Quarterly Report: 2013 Q2 Analysis (Via Playlist)

Greetings from the market floor!

I’m happy to report we’re very much in the midst of a bull market this quarter. Stocks are at a record high in a variety of categories, and buy recommendations are running rampant like the chickenpox in a second grade classroom.

The category of hip hop seems to be the safest to invest in over the past three months, as an abundance of up-and-comers are currently surging. Not to be outdone, a few established artists such as Ghostface, Kid Cudi & Wale all found a spot on our list as well.

Rock was no slouch either, taking full advantage of one of the best markets we’ve had in a while. Even dance music had a few entries on this list, marking perhaps the first time multiple EDM tracks made our ‘best of the quarter list’.

Quite the interesting development.

Forecast is looking positive for Q3 as well, anchored by a new release from the perennial favorite Jay-Z. Sure Yeezus was more Enron than Apple, but I say with great confidence that Hov won’t make the same mistakes.

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