Posts Tagged ‘Eli Manning’

Reluctant Congratulations to the Giants

In Pro Football on February 6, 2012 at 11:06 am

For those of you that know me and follow my posts on a regular basis you know that I despise the New York Giants. You also know that I was a high school football coach for many years so I appreciated talent, effort and game planning as well as anybody. With that said I have to take my hat off to the Giants, specifically Head Coach Tom Coughlin, Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gibride and Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell along with, dare I say, Eli Manning. I think the Giants game plan for this game was fantastic on offense. They ran the ball enough to keep New England on their heels and used the short passing game to move the ball while allowing Manning to manage the game and not putting him in position to make mistakes. When they did stretch the field they weren’t great but got a great catch from Hakeem Nicks across the middle and a sensational catch by Mario Manningham that turned in to be the play of the game. On defense the Giants were able to keep decent pressure on Tom Brady and did a nice job in coverage the entire game. I can’t say how healthy Rod Gronkowski was but he was on the field and playing and the Giants took him out of the game. Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker had decent games although Welker didn’t come up with a catch that probably would’ve put the game away for the Patriots. There were several big plays in this game that in my mind swung the momentum back and forth. Obviously the first one was the intentional grounding penalty on Brady on the first NE play of the game for a safety. Another was NE creating and recovering a fumble only to have a too many men on the field penalty overturn it. Going the other direction, I thought the holding penalty against the Giants as they drove down the field was weak at best and stalled their drive. The defensive offsides penalty against the Patriots on 3rd and 7 in the 4th quarter that went incomplete and would have made the Giants punt turned in to 3rd and 2 which the Giants converted and continued their drive for points. Huge Play!! The Welker no catch and the Manningham catch were obviously big plays in both directions but the play of the game for me was the Chase Blackburn interception of Brady. NE had control of the game at that point and Brady got greedy. If he throws that ball away or runs for a few yards and gets out of bounds or just hits the ground his team is still in good position to move down the field and add points, eat up clock and continue the momentum. The interception changed all of that and gave the Giants the life they needed. How can you let a linebacker intercept a pass 40 yards downfield because you under threw it? That turned out to be the only turnover of the game. I thought another key point in the game was the NY special teams. The punting of Steve Weatherford left NE working in bad field position a good part of the game and although the Patriots drove 96 yards for a TD after one of those punts they had to earn every one of those yards. Also, the late 34 yard kickoff return by Jerrel Jernigan after NE scored left the Giants with a much shorter field to work with.

In the end the 9-7 Giants, who barely snuck in to the playoffs, with Manning/Manningham making the play and Brady/Welker not making the play were the difference. It was a great win for the Giants and for Tom Coughlin and his staff. It’s probably safe to say they executed their game plan to near perfection on both sides of the ball.

Congratulations to the Giants!!

Football is now over for 2011and it’s time to prepare for the 2012 E-A-G-LE-S!!!!!! Please get a stud linebacker!!!!



In Pro Football on February 3, 2012 at 4:54 am

When I predicted the championship games two weeks ago I did pretty well. In the AFC game I picked the Patriots over the Ravens in a close one. It was a good game and the final result played out just like I thought it would. Little did I know that the Ravens would miss a chip shot to keep from tying it and sending the game to overtime. In the NFC game it was as close as I thought it would be and played out like I thought, except I picked the wrong team to win. In both cases I’m not sure that the two teams didn’t lose the games rather than the winning teams win the games. The Ravens and the 49ers both could’ve very well won those games and for the first time in some time Tom Brady looked human. Brady missed on several balls and threw rare interceptions. For the Giants, they hung close and the 49ers committed turnovers that cost them the game. However it happened we’re down to the New England Patriots versus the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, a repeat of Super Bowl XLII.

Let’s break it down. For New England to win they’ll have to do a couple things on offense that they haven’t done much this season The first thing is to run the ball to keep the Giants pass rush honest. Their leading rusher is Benjarvus Green-Ellis with 667 yards and 3.8 yards per carry average. His long run of the season is 18 yards. That won’t be good enough in this game. The Patriots may try to offset their lack of a running game with a screen pass game utilizing both Tight Ends, Rob Gronkowski, ( 90 catches – 1327 yards – 17 TD’s)  if he’s healthy enough to go, and Aaron Hernandez ( 79-910-7TD’s) and also use Wes Welker (122-1569-9TD’s) in this situation. The second thing the Patriots must do is stretch the field by throwing the ball deep. I think a surprise in this game could be Chad Ochocinco, only 15 catches on the season, or Deon Branch (51-702-5TD’s). This may be Ochos coming out party. Of course the most important thing is for the offensive line to keep Brady clean. If he has time to throw the ball he’s unstoppable and rarely makes mistakes. His 2011 stats are pretty amazing, 65.6% completions for 5235 yards and 39 TD’s with 12 INT’s and a 105.6 QB Rating. That’s a pretty good year!!! On defense the Patriots finished 15th in the league in points allowed and will have to play a closer game than that. They’ve only given up 10 and 20 points in the playoffs but Denver and Baltimore wouldn’t be considered offensive powerhouses. The other concern is the kicking game. Stephen Gostkowski has made 28 of 33 FG’s but he’s capable of missing from anywhere. He’s missed once from inside the 30, inside the 40 and twice from inside the 50. Gostkowski is a good kicker but I wouldn’t consider anything automatic.

For the Giants nothing really changes. The will attempt to play smash mouth football and run first with Ahmad Bradshaw (659-9TD’s) and Brandon Jacobs (571-7TD’s). A strong running game will keep Brady off the field and strengthen the Giants defense. They’ll try to minimize putting the entire game in Eli Manning’s hands. Manning has had his best season throwing for 4933 yards, 29TD’s, 16 INT’s while completing 61% of his passes. His top receivers have been Victor Cruz (82-1536-9TD’s) and Hakeem Nicks (76-1192-7TD’s). Both of these guys have had great seasons.  As always the Giants will rely on their defense and getting pressure on Brady. Although they finished 25th in the league in points allowed in the regular season they have stepped up their game in the playoffs. They have faced Atlanta, Green Bay and San Francisco, three good offensive teams, and have only given up 39 points.  They will need to be that good again to win this game. As we discussed with the Patriots kicking game the Giants can be as erratic. Lawrence Tynes has made only 19 of 24 FG attempts. Like with Gostkowski, nothing can be considered automatic.

As far as the coaches, both have been to and won the Super Bowl. Bill Belichick (175-97) is considered a coaching genius of his time and winning his 4th title in 5 visits would surely put him very close to the top of the list. Tom Coughlin (142-114) is a very interesting coach. About three quarters through every season Coughlin is being fired and his teams, when they get to the playoffs, step up their game and always play well. If Coughlin were able to win a 2nd Super Bowl and beat Belichick for a 2nd time his place in history will be set. I’m going with an even match as far as the coaches in this game.

It’s time for my fearless Super Bowl XLVI prediction. I’m going to take Tom Brady and the Patriots in a very close game. The Patriots are favored by 3 and might not cover that. Turnovers could very well swing this game as it has other playoff games. Watch out for the kicking games and an Eli interception to swing the game.

Patriots 23- Giants 21.


In Pro Football on January 20, 2012 at 9:10 am

I’m working in our office in Cranberry Township PA, 20 miles north of Pittsburgh, this week. Obviously this is Steelers country. I was at lunch yesterday with three work buddies so of course the conversation was about the NFL playoffs. It was very enlightening being from Philly and them being from Pittsburgh. The conversation started with, “”I don’t care who wins because I hate both the Patriots and the Ravens but despise the Ravens and everything about them.” I thought I was talking to my buddies about the Cowgirls, oops, Cowboys and the “Little “ Giants. The conversation went something like this. “I can’t stand Ray Lewis or anything about him. I hate him but he’s still a pretty good player” and “Joe Flacco is horrible, he might be the worst QB in the league”. That led me to say, “There is no QB any worse than Eli Manning unless you’re talking about Tony Romo”. The reply was “are you kidding me, Eli is the most clutch QB in the league in the 4th quarter, check the stats”. I didn’t because I’ve seen him play too many times. I don’t call tossing balls in the air to be caught by David Tyree on his helmet and jump balls in the end zone clutch. That discussion was followed up with this gem, “why is it that Tom Brady is so great? He can beat everybody except the Steelers. If it weren’t for the Ravens being the Ravens I’d hate Brady more than anybody”. Seriously? As usual it was a great time for a sports debate that was clearly being looked at from very different perspectives. It’s amazing what 300 miles across the turnpike can do for ones perspective.

On to this weekends Championship games.

Ravens at Patriots. If I were a betting man, which I’m not, I’d take the Pats to win and the Ravens to cover the 7 ½ points. I think this could be a great game. The way to stop the Patriots is to pressure Brady all day long but to do that the Ravens defense will have to take chances in man-to man coverage. With the Patriots tight end combination of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez and the underneath crossing routes by Wes Welker it will be difficult to match up. Linebackers can’t cover these guys so the Ravens better get to Brady and do it quick. If he has time to sit in the pocket he’s unstoppable. Matt Light protecting against Tyrell Suggs will be a great matchup to watch. Both are among the best at their job. For the Ravens they have to have a big game from Ray Rice and not turn the ball over on offense. Snow is on the way to Foxboro on Saturday but Sunday temperatures are expected to be 35 degrees. It looks like a great day for football.

“Little” Giants at 49ers. My bias has to come out on this one because I wouldn’t pick the Little Giants if they were playing anybody except maybe Dallas. With that said Manning is probably playing the best football of his career. Hakeem Nicks has been unbelievable. The key for me is Ahmad Bradshaw. They are so much better when they can team Bradshaw with Brandon Jacobs. I can’t figure out how their defense can come alive in the playoffs because they’re not that good. The defensive line has been over rated since they had Michael Strahan. Osi Umenyiora is a New York media publicity stunt. Justin Tuck is over rated. They have gotten a great season from Jason Pierre-Paul. I’m just not a believer in the Little Giants. In order for the Giants to win they have to run the ball consistently with Bradshaw and Jacobs and minimize Manning in 3rd and long situations where he’s prone to turn the ball over. As for the 49ers they have to be able to run the ball with Frank Gore and not have to put the game in the hands of Alex Smith. Smith was huge last week but he’s not Joe Montana or Steve Young in that Niners uniform. On defense the Niners have to have big games from the outstanding linebacker group led by Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman (another great Penn State LB). By the way, Justin Smith is a beast on the defensive line. I’ll take the 49ers at home giving the 2.5 points. The 49ers will win on the foot of David Akers. Remember him Philly fans? They are calling for game time temperatures of 53 degrees with afternoon rains.

Let the great debate begin! I wonder what my Pittsburgh buddies think the results will be. I think they like the Little Giants and anybody playing the Ravens.

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