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.