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Why do people think Herzlich can be a starting NFL MLB?

Josh in the City : 7/30/2013 1:42 pm
I don't want to sound like an a**hole but I want to discuss Mark Hezlich from strictly a football perspective. I'm trying to understand why people are adamant about the fact that he can be a starting caliber MLB in the NFL? His comeback story is nothing short of incredible and I understand he was a very good college player prior to his health issues but since he's returned to the field, I simply don't see it.

His senior yr at Boston College, Herzlich was an okay player that ultimately went undrafted. In games he's played for the Giants, he seems to consistently get pushed around and simply doesn't seem up to the task.

Now I do understand that due to the severity of his health issues it may take him more time than usual to return to top form but is there anything that you guys have seen since 2010 that make you think he could be a legit starter for us? I, like most of us, wish him the best and really would love to see him become that player but I just feel like people love the story more than the actual player. Am I wrong here?
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good motor  
Paulie Walnuts : 7/30/2013 4:11 pm : link
Sorry can't resist. We will soon see what another off season of study working out and maturity will yield. I hope for the best
arcarsenal : 7/30/2013 4:14 pm : link
I don't see it with Herzlich, either. I think he's a ST guy and nothing more.

Obviously I want to be wrong.
I hope its only on the football field  
OlyWAJintsFan : 7/30/2013 4:15 pm : link
where Herz rushes and fills the wrong hole, or is late getting to it.

Great story but still need work to become and average NFL LB as he still struggle to be just perfunctory.
I wish him the best,  
Ira : 7/30/2013 4:18 pm : link
but prior to this season, he wasn't even an effective backup.
Because they only play 2 of the three downs anyway?  
the_fridge : 7/30/2013 4:20 pm : link
And it's not like they're looking for Dick Butkus?
Nope. Never  
Victor in CT : 7/30/2013 4:21 pm : link
There isn't much history to go on..  
FatMan in Charlotte : 7/30/2013 4:23 pm : link
in looking at players who came back from chemo and a leg injury.

What we've seen might be his ceiling or it might not even scratch the surface of what he's capable of. That's why debating it seems like an exercise in futility to me.
He had cancer guys. . .  
UCONNGiantFan : 7/30/2013 4:25 pm : link
I understand its a great story and all that, but medically it takes years to get back to normal human strength, nonetheless NFL player strength. The guy has the size, 6'4", 250lbs, and the smarts to play MLB in this league and from his wikipedia page, "In 2008 Herzlich was a First-team All-American and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He was also a finalist for the Butkus Award, and a quarterfinalist for the Lott Trophy." He was a very accomplished college player before he went down with his illness. He was on track to be a first round pick and those players are expected to start and star at their position. He's had to make all the normal adjustments to the NFL while simultaneously shaking off injury rust and totally rebuilding his body, strength, and athleticism. It was a risk and if it was going to work it might take years. But we know this guy has the drive and the intelligence for this, sounds based on the reports we've been hearing out of camp that his body might finally be returning to form. Personally, I'm rooting for him and believe IN MY HEAD that the job is his to lose unless Curry can step it up.
Josh, let me be clear.  
Randy in CT : 7/30/2013 4:43 pm : link
The staff knows more than you do PLUS I don't think you are very smart.
Josh in the City : 7/30/2013 4:47 pm : link
Nobody gives a shit what you think!
arcarsenal : 7/30/2013 4:52 pm : link
Of course coaches know more than we do. But it's training camp. Not every body in every NFL camp goes on to be a good football player. A lot of guys don't. Herzlich might be one of them or maybe he'll surprise a lot of people.

If we always just appealed to authority and didn't discuss or question anything because we always assumed that the coaches would make the right decisions, there would be no point in having this board because it would eliminate like 85% of the discussion.
Josh in the City : 7/30/2013 4:53 pm : link
well said.
Sure they do.  
Randy in CT : 7/30/2013 4:56 pm : link
I think that you are reactionary to "issues with the team" and sure, discussion can be had about anything, but you don't do it well.

Herzlich may flop out as you think. Or the team might be seeing how his 3rd year pans out for him because he's quite knowledgeable now regarding the system. And as time has passed he's become stronger physically following his dealing with cancer.

However, what you see on TV watching the games once, versus what the teams sees in the games (many times over in actual game film) plus what they see in practice and everywhere else, multiplied by their vast knowledge in things football making yours pale in comparison tends to make we sway in their direction.
Josh in the City : 7/30/2013 5:03 pm : link
Really? This is a reactionary thread?! We just started training camp and there have been few, if any, reports about Herzlich to date. This isn't reactionary to anything at the moment.

This was a good conversation about our potential starting MLB until you started chirping about nonsense as usual. If you want to contribute to a good conversation, then feel free to do so. If you want to continue to chirp then do it on a NFT. Thanks.
NJGiantFan84 : 7/30/2013 5:03 pm : link
I don't disagree with that in most cases. However, i think in this case, unless you have been watching every training camp practice and concentrating on him, the only answer to the question "Why do you think Herzy can start" is trust in the staff. If we go based on his limited, immature play, then you can't believe that. However, based on the talk from the staff and other players it sounds like he has made an improvement in both confidence and skillset which has led me to believe he can start.

If you asked me why I believe Webster or Tuck could rebound this year or why Kiwi will succeed at DE, saying trust in the staff is a cop-out. But in this case, I don't think we have anything to go on rather than trust in the staff and what they are saying, unless you are going to answer "he's not" and that is not what i think at this time.
arcarsenal : 7/30/2013 5:07 pm : link
Camp has been open for 3 days and they haven't even done anything in full pads yet.

The coaches can say they've noticed a change in his attitude or whatever..but until the bullets really start flying, it's fairly unimportant and there's not a whole lot to put stock in.

I think it's fair for fans to think that Herzlich may not pan out based on what we've seen so far. Those of us who hold that opinion would love to be wrong.. but I don't think there's anything wrong with holding that opinion. It doesn't have to be met with "well, the coaches know more so..."
Everyone here seems to agree that the cancer robbed him of some  
wgenesis123 : 7/30/2013 5:14 pm : link
strength and that can improve. Does anyone know if the cancer would effect his speed in a similiar fashion.
So arc, just so we're clear--  
Randy in CT : 7/30/2013 6:11 pm : link
It is ok to hold the ignorant position of "I know more than the coaches!!"
But we can't say, "The coaches know more than we do?"

Is that what we're saying? Wait, that isn't even a question--it is what you just said.
Josh in the City : 7/30/2013 6:16 pm : link
Who said they know more than the coaches? That would be a pretty foolish thing for anyone to say as well. What arc was saying was that using the logic "the coaches know more than we do so let's just trust them" would pretty much kill almost every football thread on BBI. We're allowed to discuss our opinions and thoughts regarding the Giants as well. That's kinda the whole point of this board.
No, Randy.. that's not what I said.  
arcarsenal : 7/30/2013 6:22 pm : link
What I said is that (contrary to what you seem to believe), the coaches aren't right 100% of the time. Which means it's fair (especially in camp) to be of the opinion that a particular player may simply not be good enough.

It's lazy to always just say "well, the coaches know more than you do".

No shit they know more than we do. That doesn't mean we're not entitled to opinions.
Arguing from a position of ignorance, I'd simply speculate  
CT Charlie : 7/30/2013 7:01 pm : link
that coaches might see in Herzlich the personality, leadership, character, and intelligence that made Antonio Pierce and Chase Blackburn good enough to help us win Super Bowls. As for physical tools, Herzlich at this point in his career may be no worse (and maybe better) than they were during our championship runs near the end of their careers.
People are certainly  
Randy in CT : 7/30/2013 7:07 pm : link
entitled to their opinions and the coaches are correct pretty often on winning times, but nowhere near 100%.

My point is that us questioning coaches when it comes to familiarity with players and what they're doing/planning with certain players and for what reason, it is mostly an exercise in futility.

My issue IS with us thinking we know more than the coaches because we simply don't.

A little more humility would be nice.

"I wonder what the coaches see in Herzlich because from my limited vantage point, he seemed late to plays and not always understanding what was going on"

"Those are great points, Brad, but did you see that article where the coaches said that MH has made huge leaps in meeting their expectations so this should be an exciting preseason to see what's what!"
he had to have a rod inserted into his leg  
Neverend : 7/30/2013 7:27 pm : link
in rehab. im not sure any specifics beyond that, but at least at BC anyway, you could see he doesn't much of a short area burst
arcarsenal : 7/30/2013 7:40 pm : link
I'm not really sure what was in the OP that disagrees with your last post. He didn't say he knew for sure that Herzlich was going to flop he just said that he hadn't seen anything out of Herzlich yet to suggest that he's a starting caliber NFL MIKE. He also said that he realized there were outside factors that had been holding him back but ultimately, the brunt of the post was just that he's skeptical as to whether MH is good enough to win a starting job. I think it's a fair question and I feel similarly.

I don't think I know more than the coaches. Based on what I personally saw from him last year, I just wasn't impressed at all. He can certainly surprise me this year and I hope he does. But I don't think there's anything wrong with having concerns about him. I know I do.
Dylan fan : 7/30/2013 7:51 pm : link
Once again, the coaches have been RAVING about how incredibly much more Herz & Paysinger know & understand the playbook. Every player & coach who has ever been interviewed has claimed that that amount of knowledge makes players make decisions quicker & play much faster. As a few posters ago mentioned, that was why Chase & Pierce were as valued as they were despite not being remotely the most athletically gifted players. I think Herz's increased knowledge & leadership are what gives me reason to believe he'll be as capable of starting as Pierce or Chase & perhaps better the further away from cancer rehab he gets.
Has anyone on this thread been 'adamant about the fact that he can be  
vibe4giants : 7/30/2013 8:04 pm : link
a starting caliber MLB in the NFL?'

Just asking because that was the premise here and darned if I see anyone expressing that opinion. I see plenty of doubts, even more hopes, but nothing like anyone refusing to have their mind's changed about his ability be a starting caliber MLB in the NFL.

Which would mean this whole thing was based on a straw man to begin with.

While we're here: anyone adamant as to why a straw man can be a starting caliber MLB in the NFL?
Different positions, but I like Herzlich's long term prospects  
Bino5 : 7/30/2013 8:31 pm : link
more than Rivers'
It's not about what we think..  
GiantJohn : 7/30/2013 8:45 pm : link
But it is about what the coaches think.
fbdad : 7/30/2013 9:18 pm : link
Check out the first video from practice today on Herzlich outrun Mundy (a defensive back) down the field on kick coverage. He's got his speed back. Word is he's benching well over 400 lbs. He's got his strength back. Word out of camp is that he's not playing tentatively at all. He's got his instincts back.

One of you guys who know how to archive these threads make note of where this one is and let's check it out again mid way thru the season. I think we're going to find that Herzlich's a steal
Reese hedged his bet on Herzlich by signing Connor.  
Big Blue Blogger : 7/31/2013 4:47 am : link
If Herzlich is the same player we saw the past two years, he'll lose the job. Maybe Connor will beat him out in preseason, like Blackburn did last year (partly because minor injuries ended the competition before it could begin). Maybe Herzlich will get benched mid-year, like Greg Jones in 2011. Either way, if the improvement the staff has seen in practice, meetings and workouts doesn't translate to games, MH will end up like Jones soon enough. I doubt anyone associated with the team would stake his career on Herzlich. Nor have they. Nor should they.

There is certainly reason for concern about the linebackers in general, and the MIKE in particular. Herzlich has been pretty bad in his limited game action. Connor is an ordinary player with a bleak medical history. The other guys have little or no experience in the middle. What I like is the general shape of the competition between Herzlich and Connor: a guy the staff regards as having a lot of upside versus a decent veteran fallback. It's basically the same approach as last year, except Herzlich has another valuable year behind him, and I think Connor is better than Blackburn. Would Reese trade them both for Patrick Willis? As far as I know, Trent Baalke hasn't called to ask.

Although Connor is the newcomer, the Giants have a pretty good idea what he can do. Herzlich simply gets the first shot. If MH is still the starter in the third preseason game, this discussion will be much more interesting.
To what standard?  
Mike in Boston : 7/31/2013 6:11 am : link
To win the job he doesn't have to be a great linebacker, just better than the alternatives on the roster or available after cuts from other teams. None of those guys has exactly lit up the league either. So maybe Herzlich's health and added experience will have him playing better, and maybe it won't. I don't see how anyone, fan or coach, will know for sure until they start playing at least preseason games at full speed. And maybe one of his competitors will step up his game more and beat him out.

The coaches who are watching him practice say he is doing better than last year. I am happy to accept this while being aware that that isn't such a high bar. On the other hand neither is playing as well as Chase Blackburn, much as I like him and as grateful as we all are for the big pick in the SB. Herzlich, or one of the others, could be an improvement over Chase without being close to a great linebacker

Chase Blackburn did not get big money from Carolina; the Giants could have kept him if they wanted to. Apparently they think they can get better play from one of the guys currently in camp. While Herz and Connor are the main candidates at Mike, they can also try Rivers and Curry they if they need to.
FatMan in Charlotte : 7/31/2013 7:54 am : link
arcarsenal : 7/30/2013 5:07 pm
Camp has been open for 3 days and they haven't even done anything in full pads yet.

This is exactly why I find the timing of this thread odd.
To vibe's point, the premise is that a whole lot of people are crowing about Herz, and I don't think that is the case. CAN he be a starting LB? Sure. Will he be? I have no clue.

And three days into camp, it is odd timing to wonder this. Maybe after we have seen him in drills and in preseason games and see if he's progressed and heard the coaches discus his ability to pick things up, we can make a more informed opinion, but to ask this question with the bias being there hasn't been anything of note to inspire us for his first two years is sort of ridiculous.

The point in the post directly above is also a good one. A starting MLB doesn't have to be amazing if he's on a team where that is a weak spot, he simply has to be the best of a mediocre lot, which would say nothing much about how impressive Herz is.

IMO this reeks of a topic to discuss just for the hell of it, rather than to really have anything of substance to debate.
you get better by playing  
bc4life : 7/31/2013 8:27 am : link
he hasn't played enough yet and we haven't seen enough of him yet.

were we screaming Strahan's praises after his first four or five games? Probably not.

1st couple of preseason games ought to give us a better idea. '

and remember last year - the DLine was not good, that will impact his play as well.
arcarsenal : 7/31/2013 8:34 am : link
All I'm saying is I don't think it's unfair to not have much confidence in Herzlich right now.

If he were a rookie, I'd say "well.. can we at least see him in ONE game before we jump to conclusions?".. but I don't even think it's so much jumping to conclusions as it's thinking he may just never have the pure athleticism to match his drive and make him a really good player.

I have no idea one way or another. I just didn't see many flashes of anything from him last year that got me excited. With a guy like Williams, you saw the flashes as a rookie and thought "yeah, this guy can be really good.. I'll take whatever warts pop up in the meantime while he's learning".

I don't doubt that Herzlich is going to work as hard as anyone out there and do whatever he possibly can.. but at the end of camp, my money would be on it being Connor's job (and I'm not even really a fan of his).

We'll see how it plays out.
FatMan in Charlotte : 7/31/2013 8:42 am : link
agreed, especially the "we'll see how it plays out" part.

I wish more people took that stance.
Not sure why this is much of an issue anyway.  
Big Blue '56 : 7/31/2013 8:59 am : link
How many solid 3 down backers are there in the NFL, in today's NFL? Whomever man's the middle will do so for 2 downs before we go nickle or even dime..With a much improved(hopefully) run defense down the gut, I'm rather certain we can do fine with Herz or Connor
arcarsenal : 7/31/2013 9:27 am : link
Well, it would be much less of an issue if we had 2 really proven, battle tested guys on the outside.. but we kind of don't. We all like Williams and Rivers when they're healthy.. but we don't know if they'll be healthy.

Beyond that? It's gonna be a crapshoot.
As Toomer said yesterday on Sirius, you never know what  
Big Blue '56 : 7/31/2013 9:39 am : link
you have until you're into the season, which I totally agree with..
Spark Em Up 22 : 7/31/2013 9:44 am : link
is too slow to be a legit starting NFL defender. The Giants also don't have any other options so hope for the best.
Speed and flexibility is the key  
Bob in Newburgh : 7/31/2013 9:53 am : link
I am not speaking here of healthy Rivers/Williams/Curry +++ speed for LBs.

Has Herz regained enough that he is in the same class as Connor/Paysinger?

If not, I do not believe he will be on the roster, let alone start.

If he has, I could see him used as a 2-down starter.
As the resident pollyanna,  
Randy in CT : 7/31/2013 9:58 am : link
I find this LB group to be interesting at the very least:

Strongside Linebacker
Jacquian Williams
Spencer Paysinger
Etienne Sabino

Middle Linebacker
Dan Connor
Mark Herzlich
Jake Muasau

Weakside Linebacker
Keith Rivers
Aaron Curry
Kyle Bosworth

We've heard good things about all of them at one time or another so I could see it coming together and being a strong group (potentially)
Herzlich will be the Mike unless he gets injured because  
Marty in Albany : 7/31/2013 11:03 am : link
he has a much better understanding of the defensive scheme than Connor does and that is more important than whether Connor is a slightly better athlete than Herzlich. Think of the Mike as the QB of the defense. How fast and how strong is Eli? Obviously, Eli's talent is being able to look at the defense and beat it. The same goes for the Mike.

Chase Blackburn pretty much demonstrated that you need somebody who can properly set up the defense more than you need somebody who is fast. IMHO, I do not think that Connor would be all that effective if he had less experienced players like Curry on one side and Williams on the other. With Herzlich on the field, the new guys will be given better directions.

Maybe, in the middle of the season, Connor will have enough grasp of the system to be able to direct his teammates. But until then, I would not want to put three of our relatively inexperienced LBs on the field at the same time, regardless of their physical talent.

Said another way, you need an experienced LB to keep the other(s) from making mental errors.
I would think that Rivers and Williams are past the point of being  
Bob in Newburgh : 7/31/2013 11:18 am : link
"relatively inexperienced."

Blackburn stunk at his own position. Makes it easy for good OCs to know where a soft defense is really soft.

If Herz=Blackburn I do not want to go there again.
I really find it distasteful..  
FatMan in Charlotte : 7/31/2013 11:34 am : link
when fans sit on their asses and say that players stink, especally ones who have been in the league for several years.

If that isn't the definition of thinking they know more than those in charge, I don't know what is.

Blackburn was so fucking useless that the Panthers new GM rushed out to sign him.
Josh in the City : 7/31/2013 11:57 am : link
Maybe things are a little different down in Charlotte but here in New York, fans are brutally honest and talk about what they think of players all the time. We're allowed to have our opinion and to discuss it. Aside from the fact that it's part of being a fan, I don't find it distasteful at's a football discussion about the players on our team. We don't all have to agree but there's nothing wrong with having the conversation and an opinion based on what YOU see.
FatMan in Charlotte : 7/31/2013 1:47 pm : link
if you can't figure out that saying any professional player "stinks" is idiotic, I don't know what to say. By the way, that was directed at Bob.

We might get frustrated that people aren't playing up to expectations or disappointed because the shirt we root for isn't winning, but I've always found it distasteful to take that disappointment out by calling players and coaces poor at their jobs, especially when we do it with a fraction of the data needed to make an informed opinion.

Want to call somebody an idiot for getting arrested or for getting suspended? Fine. Calling somebody out for poor performance just reeks of irraional fandom, even if it turns out to be warranted. You might relish being in the status quo, but like I said, if that's the case, I don't know what else to say.
Point taken  
Bob in Newburgh : 8/1/2013 9:22 am : link
Last I knew, this is a "fan" site, and "stinks" is a relative term. I really don't see the point of being called out for either. I am well aware that what is expressed on this site is largely opinion.
Point taken..  
FatMan in Charlotte : 8/1/2013 9:56 am : link
and apparently discarded.

Fantastic, with the emphasis on FAN.
BACKERSFAN : 8/1/2013 10:22 am : link
There are a few things wrong with your premise. First you reference Herzlich during his senior season. He was 18 months removed from the original cancer diagnosis. A better marker would be how he played his junior season. As a long time Boston College season ticket holder I can attest to how great that season was for him. That year was the single best LB season I have ever seen from a BC LB including some very good college and/or pro players including Romanowski, Boyd, DeOssie and even Butkus award winner Kuechly. Having watched him closely since his return to football I will tell you that he is getting closer to what he was. The further he gets from the cancer the better he plays. Will he ever return to that form of his junior season ? Probably not. But if he gets to 90% of what he was that year then he can be a productive player. As mentioned in earlier posts, there are a number of attributes that you want in an interior LB. Leadership, brains, enthusiasism etc. The Giants and Tom Coughlin won't keep him around because of sympathy or loyalty. Roster spots are too valuable for that. I hope he gets back to what he was.
The Giants coaching staff is human too  
RonJohnson : 8/1/2013 11:11 am : link
When they see a guy like Herzlich working as hard as he apparently works, they are looking for reasons to keep him. Its what all coaches do. Just because they see him everyday doesn't mean they aren't wrong about him.

I think the question is can Herz be as smart and as athletic as Antonio Pierce was. That's the type of player he has to be to succeed. Basically smarter than just about everyone else on the field.
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