Monday, June 6, 2016

Thoughts on Sterling Shepard From a Sooners Diehard

2015 Getty Images

My Chat With a Sooners Diehard

Ah the power of Twitter. As you may or may not know, I am very active in Giants Twitter. Whether it is positively or negatively based, my opinions will be out there on almost everything Giants football. 

A lifelong Oklahoma Sooners football fan had reached out to me and asked about Sterling Shepard's potential role on this team. What followed was a conversation that lasted about an hour talking everything Sooners football, some Dallas Cowboys, and my man Vernon Hargreaves. Enjoy. (What I say will be Bold his will be Italicized)

If he doesn't start something went wrong in camp. Unfortunately Cruz may not be healthy, so Shep should hit the slot plenty. If he can play outside like the Giants coaches say he can, he could even be opposite Beckham. 

That's kinda what I thought. Well I can say enjoy him, in due time y'all will know his story and personality if you don't already. Easily one of the best 10-20 people/athletes Oklahoma has ever produced. He can literally play anywhere. If Odell draws coverage Shepard will kill guys in the seams, flats, etc...

Put it this way, I have a lot of fellow Sooners that are unfortunately Dallas fans and when the Giants took him, they got real nervous and upset (Awwww). Cause they know what he's capable of with that QB and help at WR.

What I've started to love is, like Beckham, his catch radius is huge despite his lack of size... Shepard doesn't seem like much of a burner though, am I wrong on that? Or does he just create separation with real nice route running?

Oh man you're spot on there. He got to balls that I still can't figure out how the heck he did it. Look at game winning catches late against Tennessee 2015, Kansas State game in 2014. 

No,  I wouldn't call him a burner like Coleman from Baylor, but he runs impeccable routes and will succeed in a heavily timed route type offense like you see in the NFL. He will be where he's supposed to be when he's supposed to be there, and if he's not open, he will fight like hell. That being said, I don't think there's a ton of safeties that can stay over the top of him if he gets a deep route. He's a legit mid 4.5's

And unlike (Ryan) Broyles (Free Agent/Sooner), (Jalen) Saunders (Free Agent/Sooner), Manny Johnson (Ex-Cowboy/Free Agent/Sooner) or some of the other small receivers from Oklahoma in our Spread offense years, this kid is put together for his size. A lot of power. Should prevent injury a little better.

I have seen the crazy catch back right corner of Tennesee and then the OT leap and "ballerina" type move into the end zone. Freak athlete.

Yea exactly. He can leap. You have to see what he does to people over the middle. Especially freshman through junior year before his groin. Last year he became more of an outside guy.

He already burned Eli Apple in practice while being held, because thats what Eli Apple does... but then dropped the ball when he was wide open. I have a feeling I won't have to worry about drops, right?

No, honestly I would chalk it up to nerves early. Trust me, I'm 30, I've seen a hell of a lot of tremendous athletes come through Oklahoma being one of CFB's blue bloods and he has probably somewhere in the top 3-5 best hands we've ever had. This guy hardly ever drops passes. I know it sounds like a crutch "nerves" but I can promise there are some.

How is his character, I know you touched on some of it but any trouble at school? Go out to clubs and bars? What's the deal there?

He's never left Oklahoma other than Football related activities, basically. Shy kid. But like Jeter, you won't have to wait on the headline of him messing up going to jail, or being out at all hours of the night. I've never been to NYC, but I imagine just seeing the place would be shocking for me, never mind what he's doing. 

Impeccable human, that will put in the work, and by any means necessary will get it done. I really think he will be a fan favorite inside 2 seasons and that's being safe with a prediction. It's just hard to gauge rookies, but he fits what you guys do, and when Eli see's he's reliable, I have a feeling inside a few games he's already made you guys say "wow we may have stolen one."

The city can be scary for an outsider, that's true. But he also can't get intimidated. A couple drops, missed practices, etc and fans/media will turn on him. A player needs to have very thick skin in the city. Fans are very very passionate and relentless.

Yes that's my biggest fear of any of our guys in that place. Your media is like vultures compared to our people. But let me say that this, the kid is grounded, very intelligent, and honestly a better human being than a player. He has big shoulders. I bet by summer camps he's off and rolling without a hitch.

One thing he gets is a passionate fanbase. Hell, we have people wanting to get rid of Stoops 5 times a year and if you know anything about his resume, that's simply asinine.

Outside of those Cowboys fans you touched on earlier, what was the overall consensus on Shep being drafted by the Giants?

All of us and our media, sans the Cowgirl fans (Ha he said Cowgirl!), absolutely could not have been happier with regards to fit in your system, and a front office that tends to get it. Easily the best fit of any of our guys

What could potentially hold him back, if anything?

The biggest obstacle will be the terminology. The coaches that operate our specific system literally carry a 4-way folded paper with about 3-5 plays on each of the 4 parts, depending on situational things and what he sees. Shepard could make changes, but our plays are like 5 words long. Nothing like your former OC, now HC, probably has.

I mean the kid is smart, right? smart in the classroom? if he has a brain, his work ethic will take care of the studying of the playbook/terminology.

Oh yes very intelligent, as a freshman they said the reason he played had more to do with that he understood our system better than even the seniors. I'm not a bit worried he won't get it, I'm just saying I think if I'm nitpicking, that's gonna be his biggest obstacle. His freshman year we were running a different system with a terrible QB, there's a lot of regrettable history for a few ugly years where Stoops fell asleep. The play calling was way more advanced in terminology and scheme than what we run now, so it mean't something that he caught on so quickly.

But can he REALLY play outside?

He can play outside and do a damn good job, I just would never say he could carry a team as the #1 and be outside. That's why this pick was so genius by the Giants, with Odell drawing what he does, Shepard is capable of torching people. Like I would put him near the top for potential Offensive Rookie of the Year.

He can, and probably will, play all (wide receiver) positions for you guys, and that's what makes him so great. He knows his duties at each spot, and, since it's a must by any of our receivers in our system, can block very well downfield for RB's and such. You just can't lose track of him, or he will Impale you before you know what happened.

What happened in the  past two bowl games? 1 for 13 and 7 for 87 tells me Shep was kinda shut down, no?

2 years ago, against Clemson we were a broken and battered team, with nothing left to play for after an 8-5 season, Bob's worst year in his 17 years here, that honestly had no business in that game anyway. We were injured, and the guys didn't give a damn, they were pre-season #4 and after a couple close losses to top 10 teams, and goals were gone, They checked out. On top of the fact that we were a heavily run based, read option offense and no BS, the worst passing QB at Oklahoma since 2005.

So that was the 1 for 13. 7 for 87 isn't bad but...

Last year we ran into Clemson again, a much better Clemson team and while yes we were a top 5 team, we were ahead of our capabilities by a year as far as being able to hang with a team like them. We weren't ready where it mattered which was the O and D-line. We had some success early, but after halftime lost 3 of our top 7 players, and  combine that with the fact Clemson was murdering our o-line that was being anchored by freshman tackles and 2 sophomore guards, our QB didn't have much a chance. Yes, they kinda took him away with that huge safety they had drafted over the top, but it has more to do with the fact our QB couldn't get enough time to let Shepard do his thing, so he was quick passing to the other guys in 1-1. Not Shepard's fault either.

Did they have the personnel to give Shepard problems? Yes, but did they? Not so much. He was the focal point of a lot of routes that never got the chance to develop in last years game. Same thing as the first 3 quarters of the Tennessee game, then our QB started becoming who we all know him now to be, running around like his hair is on fire throwing darts and that's when Shepard took that game over.

We had the skill players to play with anybody in the country last year, just weren't mature enough or athletic enough on the lines yet. And resulted in both our losses.

Another thing, 2 years ago vs Clemson he was only about 75% in that game, his groin was trashed.

Groin is something that has been reoccurring at his time at OU or no?

Oh no, that was the only time. If I remember right, he was about 40 yards down field, jumped to catch the ball on the run, and it went, but caught the ball. He's had zero injury issues other than that, outside of just ur average wear and tear. He had a banged up ankle for a couple weeks, but played. That's really it. Outside the groin he never missed a start.

Like I was saying earlier, he's not ur typical "small" receiver he takes care of his body, has a good amount of muscle so I think durability won't be an issue.

Now that is it on Shep. Some quick Hargreaves/Ramsey thoughts, Cowboys draft, and Dez Bryant: 

Did you see any Hargreaves?

Honestly, just my opinion, when your talking "lock down corner" or physical corner, I honestly 100% believe he will be the best corner in this draft as far as the legitimate high picks. Yes Ramsey is bigger, stronger, faster, but when it comes to what makes a great corner other than size, give me Vernon by a mile. He will go to war with whoever to get the ball, he possibly has the best ball skills in the draft of the corners. 

Hargreaves stays glued to guys, can move well, make adjustments on the fly, and was constantly doing it against the best receivers in the SEC, several of which have, or will have, brand new NFL contracts. Is Ramsey a tremendous athlete? Yes. Does he look impressive at a combine and on the field running up to pop a WR who never sees it coming? Yes. But when you're talking total package for a true corner, give me Vernon Hargreaves every single time. He's competitive on every ball, is not afraid to jump routes and mix it up, and size of WR's doesn't seem to affect him a whole lot.

I watched those 2 play a lot of football over the last couple seasons because FSU, and most SEC teams are always on the national stage. The only reason I personally think Hargreaves went a little lower than I expected, he had a few minor incidents at Florida, involving "Pot" if I'm not mistaken. You put Hargreaves ability into Ramsey's body and you have the next Deion Sanders in my humble opinion.

Oh you wanna talk about mad Cowboys fans, they were pissed around here when they didn't take Ramsey. Which lets be honest guys, who the hell thought Ramsey was this can't miss prospect until he ran a ridiculous 40 time at the combine. 

Didn't Dez go to state? Were the OU/Dallas fans upset about that? Talk about that rivalry a little.

Oklahoma is kinda like that 30/30 they did on the state of Alabama "Roll tide/War Eagle" about the rivalry. In fact, it's almost exactly like that. You have a heated, lop sided overall rivalry. One is a blue blood program (Bama/Oklahoma) the other is not (Oklahoma state/ Auburn), with not near as many Heisman winners or Titles, if any. They get tired of being taken behind the woodshed so when they do win occasionally it makes for a long year.

Dez was pretty highly recruited and yes, we woulda loved to have him in hindsight other than the baggage, but at the time he wasn't thought to be so program changing. I mean we were consistently pulling top 10 recruiting classes in those days, so we weren't hurting. He did beat us one time, and that is arguably the best OSU team ever vs just an okay OU team. So all in all no lost sleep over here.

Friday, April 29, 2016

1st Round Pick... Eli Apple.

(Photo Credit NYPost)

As promised, the 1st round of the NFL Draft was absolutely ridiculous. Going into the night it was Goff and Wentz, and then everyone else would be kind of a toss up. 5 trades, a gas mask bong, and a reach.

Before I get to the Giants "pick," there was one thing that REALLY hurt me. Nope, it wasn't the Titans trading up to get Conklin. The Bears trading up to get Floyd? Absolutely not.

What pissed me off the most was Dallas drafting Zeke Elliott. "But dude he's a running back! They passed on the best player in the draft!" Well, to be honest, I don't think Ramsey is the best player, nor will he make the biggest immediate impact.

Ramsey's ball skills are average, meaning, he has a tough time when the ball is in the air. He can't seem to get his head around, which will lead to face guarding penalties 85% of the time. That is why most have said he may be a better safety than corner. Keep the ball in front of him. He is a freak athlete, and proved it at the combine, but is NOT the lock down corner some believe him to be.

Zeke Elliott will put up some of the best if not THE best rookie RB numbers in NFL history behind that Dallas line. No my friends, that is not a joke. The Giants now have to deal with him for the next 5 years at least. He's a "do it all" type guy. Catches the ball out of the backfield, and will lay a hit on a pass rusher. Complete 3 down back. It's a good thing the Giants got Snacks, who is known to be one of the best run stuffers in the league. Still need a middle linebacker, but hey, Jasper Brinkley.

Now to the newest Eli and the biggest Apple: 

If you follow me on twitter @RealtlkFB, you have seen my reaction video to the pick. ALL week long I was hoping for Hargreaves, but also stated that there was little chance he would still be there. Said Reese may shock the world and for all my followers to be prepared for anything.

But what had happened was... Jerry Reese got schooled. They had two guys they wanted to pick, Conklin and Floyd at 10, and I believe that to be true. Just like the Flowers news started leaking last year, Floyd's name was linked for the past month at least, and Conklin a little more recent. Titans moved up to grab Conklin and the Bears moved up 2 SPOTS to grab Floyd. To be honest I wanted Conklin more than Floyd just because I don't want to use a #10 pick on a guy who doesn't have a position.

So then I sat there and was like, "Gotta be Tunsil or Hargreaves." I mean why wouldn't it be? Would the bong really scare off the Giants who NEED a tackle for the team? This guy was projected to be a #1 pick at one point. Why not Hargreaves? Perfect size to be a slot corner while DRC and Jenkins man the outside. He is by far the best cover corner in the class. Can he get beat on a jump ball with an elite, taller wideout? Sure. But in the slot for a year, it teaches him the speed of the NFL game, different techniques, etc. The guy is a complete ball hawk. Watch a highlight tape. Tipped balls always seem to find him, he comes up and lays a hit on much bigger RBs. Just an overall Pit Bull of a player. He would be a perfect DRC replacement whenever he gets hurt, or is released (maybe next year).

Or you know, maybe they could have done this:

To be honest, still would have been pissed. I don't like Treadwell as much as some especially if Hargreaves and Tunsil were available.

But alas, the New York Giants selected... Eli Apple, THE Ohio State.

Eli Apple is a 6'1" corner. What is the most immediate need in the secondary? Free Safety? Na Berhe has that. The answer is SLOT CORNER. Are there many, if any 6'1" slot corners? Name me one, because I refuse to do the research. Jenkins isn't being paid all of that money to spend 60% of the game in the slot. Not a chance. So you are playing a guy that is best at press coverage. He was coached to grab and hold the wide receivers. Something you can do IN COLLEGE but not in the pros. Played press-man all game. NEVER asked to cover the slot. Wasn't off and back pedaling in college either. Needs to work on that. This is all coming from Chris Ash the former DC at Ohio State.

Bottom line with all of this is, I am okay with the pick, but not at 10. I feel like Reese&Co were in a mad scramble after getting absolutely played by the Bears and Titans. How they didn't have a better plan or just DRAFT THE TWO GUYS I MENTIONED is beyond me.

Oh, something nice about Apple, did okay at combine, check this catch:

I'll tweet out who I want in the 2nd. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 5, 2015

First Place Has Never Felt So Good: Bills Recap.

(Credit USA Today)

From an 0-2 start, and people once again calling for Coughlin's head, the Giants are now 2-2 and tied for 1st place in the NFC East. Do the Cowboys have injuries? Romo, Dez, and now Lance Dunbar? Sure. What people have to remember though, is that the Giants are without a starting LT in Will Beatty, their best defensive player in JPP, their top slot guy in Cruz, and a half healthy Beason. They had to pick a guy off the street (Meriweather) to play safety due to injuries. The other safety is a rookie. Their replacement LT has been hobbled with an ankle injury. Their best run blocking TE is now getting foot surgery and is a likely candidate for IR.

This is what makes this Giants team special. The will and fight they have to ignore the injuries and just go out and get the job done. The way they lost the first two could have buried any team for the rest of the year. This team has clawed back.

But enough of that, let's get to the good stuff, really just going to mention the big plays here.

Flowers lasted one play at LT before he limped off. 4 minutes left in the 1st, and he was back in. This guy is one tough MFer and its refreshing to have a big tough guy like that on the line.

Devon Kennard had his first career interception with this awesome play:

Put the ball on the Buffalo 32. Dwayne Harris decided it was time to prove he's an asset not only as a returner, but as a wideout as well with a TD reception from an Eli missile strike. 9-3 after a missed 38-yard extra point (after a false start).

The Bills started with stupid penalties early. Flowers got Larry Hughes all riled up after a 15 yard Jennings run to put the Giants on the Bills 33.  Eli ends up hitting Rueben Randle for the TD which ended in the #SalsaSalute:


Minute left in the half, 3rd and 1 and Tyrod Taylor gets stuffed on a sneak attempt. Landon Collins made the play by running around the pile and pulling Tyrod Taylor backwards so he couldn't reach for the first. If that drive ends up in points, best case the Giants would be up 10 at half with no momentum. Big play.

5:45 left in the 3rd and Tyrod Taylor runs right for 31 yards for a TD. Fortunately, it was called back on a hold, the Bills 12th penalty of the game. Drive ended on a Carpenter miss from 30 yards out.

Start to the 4th quarter had the Bills driving and at the 2, Tyrod Taylor ran right. He was hit first by Unga, and then pushed out at the 1 by Kerry Wynn. Down 16-3 Bills ended up going for it, short pass to Karlos Williams which got STUFFED for no gain.

Giants were pinned deep after the goal line stand and ended up punting, but Beckham was still doing Beckham things, even though it didn't count:

The Giants punt put the Bills on their own 49. They ended up scoring on 3 plays after a Karlos Williams wheel route, burning Kennard up the sideline for the 23 yard TD reception.


But then, the Giants answered:

Eli saw the blitz coming and changed the play to the swing pass. Knew Jennings would have one man to beat, and put the ball on his hip with the defender right there. Ball on the inside hip told Jennings to cut inside.  Awesome job by #10... and Jennings. Williams ran in for the 2-point conversion.


Prince and Landon Collins ended up stripping Robert Woods in a joint effort on the next drive. I was waiting for a whistle but the guys kept ripping at the ball and finally got it out. Prince returned it to the Bills 40.

Eli threw his first pick of the year with 3:51 left to play, at the Buffalo 1. Came after OBJ didn't come down with the ball after a fade in the end zone.

Charles Clay had a 32 yard TD called back on another penalty. With 20 seconds left, the teams starting FULLBACK got a sack:

This guy is a shining example of what kind of heart this Giants team has. On that same drive, he almost got another one! Watch #49. Draws the flag and never stops hustling.

Whitlock played 13 snaps on offense, 8 on defense, 23 on special teams. Amazing.

Game ended, and JPP was happy:

Giants came into this season with people doubting the offensive line, and with good reason. No starting LT, and players that really don't turn heads with their play. However, they are now 3rd best in the NFL with sacks allowed (4). The defense was looked at as another issue, but are now best in the league vs the run giving up 69.8 ypg. Would LOVE some more pressure on the QB, but beggars can't be choosers.

Great game, great week, and now the Giants have a pretty nice stretch coming up:

49ers: 1-3
Eagles 1-3
Cowboys: 2-2
Saints: 1-3
Buccaneers: 1-3

Would be great for the Giants to take all 5. Get to 7-2 before the Pats game on November 15th.

As always. Follow @realtlkFB on twitter for live tweets and vines throughout the games. I have a podcast now, which you can find HERE. Fun stuff. I love football.

Oh and one more thing. Every time Eli gets a delay of game, this is how I feel: