Category Archives: New England Patriots

Eli Manning is all grown up–or is he?

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In the wake of Eli Manning’s performance in the playoffs and Super Bowl (now being declared Teh Best Evaaar!), many sports writers are officially declaring him to be “grown up”, with many Super Bowls still to come.

I’ve always been an Eli Manning fan, and I think he deserves [almost] all the praise he’s been given for his performance, but let’s back up for a moment. Manning was swell against the Bucs. Against the Cowboys he played another fantastic game. In the championship game against Green Bay he was off and on, but still managed to outplay Favre when it really counted.

And now we get to the game against New England. On the opening drive Manning led the Giants down the field for the first score of the game, albeit a field goal. Later, he led the Giants all the way down into the red zone again, but this time Steve Smith couldn’t hang on to a well-thrown pass and Manning was picked off.For much of the rest of the game, Manning was largely ineffective, neither making big plays nor throwing backbreaking interceptions. Meanwhile, the defense kept up a relentless pass rush, forcing Brady to miss several wide open throws that could have changed the game entirely.

Then the fourth quarter came around. Early on, Manning led the Giants down the field again, capping it with a perfectly thrown ball to give the Giants a 10-7 lead. Brady came back and answered, putting the Pats up 14-10. Here’s where I have to disagree with everything else that’s been written. I don’t deny that Manning stayed cool and collected on that final drive. He made several great throws, and he didn’t make any crucial mistakes. Or did he? Manning threw two passes that should have been intercepted. How the Patriot defenders managed to drop those two throws will never be known, but the fact remains that the Giants should have lost. If you ran back the scenario ten times, nine of those times one of those two passes would have been picked, and we (everyone but Patriot fans) would be subjected to intolerable levels of Tom Brady worship.

Luckily for us, the potential interceptions were dropped, and a blown coverage on Plaxico gave the Giants a lead they would cling to for the duration of the game. Manning deserves major credit for staying calm and making one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history, but let’s be honest–the Giants’ defense was the real hero. They virtually shut down Randy Moss and made Tom Brady look very, very human. The offensive line that had looked invincible for most of the year suddenly started giving up sacks right and left (literally).

I couldn’t be happier for Eli Manning, but let’s not make this game something it isn’t. It was a great performance, but not a masterful one. It will cement Eli Manning as the starter in New York, and keep his job safe for several years. But let’s hold off on saying Manning has “grown up” or “come into his own”. He might very well have. But we’re dealing with a very small sample. Give him a chance next year, see how he plays, and then make a judgment.

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Super Bowl Wrap

Well, well. So there you have it. 18-1*

That great gust of air you felt was the football world letting out a sigh of relief. There still is karma. And it’s a beautiful thing. For the third year in a row, Tom Brady cracked when it really counted. I’ve been saying it all year; they don’t give out Lombardis during the regular season. I’m pretty sure everyone on the Patriots team would gladly trade a couple of their regular season wins for one last night. Suddenly, beating the Redskins by fifty points doesn’t feel all that special, does it?

I’m officially ready to say that Eli Manning has grown up. He’s been legit since week 17, and that go-ahead touchdown drive at the end was the stuff of legends, as was the spectacular David Tyree catch. That play will cement itself as one of the greatest in Super Bowl history when it’s all said and done. Manning made a Houdini-like escape from the clutches of Jarvis Green, backed up, and heaved it thirty yards downfield where Tyree leaped above Rodney Harrison and barely managed to trap it against his helmet before getting a better grip on it as he fell to the ground.

The officiating for the game was excellent. There were a few questionable calls (and non-calls), but I don’t think anyone can say that they really impacted the game.

If there’s one thing this Super Bowl accomplished, maybe it will be that teams will stop kissing up to their opponents and finally have the guts to say what they actually think. Of course everyone thinks their going to win every game. So why not say so? Why pretend like you have all sorts of respect for your opponent when you don’t? Call it like you see it. Really, if you need the other team to predict a win to get motivated, then you need to hang up the cleats.

*- Lost to Eli Manning

News Roundup

Tedy Bruschi is not, in fact, dead.

The Browns got a nasty surprise in their locker room.

Michael Vick is pleading not guilty. Yeah, good luck with that buddy.

Joe Thomas has been signed.

Lance Briggs signed a one year tender.

Heads will roll in the Pat Tillman case.

Curtis Martin has retired. Probably a HOF-er.

Simeon Rice was released by the Bucs.

Beware of Paper

*On paper, the Cleveland Browns had the best pickings of this year’s draft.

*On paper, the Patriots have the best team in the league due to their free agent and draft pickups this off-season.

*On paper, the Colts offense should be better than ever next year, and their defense should be even worse.

***

I’m not going to say that none of that is true, the Patriots really do seem primed to win another Super Bowl, and the Browns really do seem to have had a monster draft, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For all we know, the Seahawks might have drafted the next Champ Bailey in Josh Wilson, and the next Marques Colston in Courtney Taylor. You just never know.

It’s a cliche that you have to wait three years before evaluating a draft class, but it’s true. Drafting Ki-Jana Carter seemed like a brilliant move at the time. Just remember, for every Peyton Manning there’s a Heath Shuler. For every Lawrence Taylor there’s a Brian Bosworth.

Ranking the elite NFL quarterbacks

Very few debates in professional football stir up as much heated discussion as who the best quarterback is, who the best quarterbacks are, and variations of those two. Assuming (and this is not necessarily a safe assumption) that all quarterbacks who suffered injuries last year are fully healthy at the start of the season, this is how I would rank the top five quarterbacks in the league.

1. Peyton Manning- Sorry, but I am not and never have been one of the Tom Brady worshipers. The guy’s great, but he’s not the greatest quarterback ever, of the last twenty years, ten years, five years, year, or right now. I’d take Peyton Manning over him any day, and I think that if Manning and Brady were on opposite teams over the last five years, Manning would have had at least the amount of success Brady has had, and Brady a good bit less than Manning. Many recoil when I saw this, but Brady is really just a system player. That doesn’t mean he’s not good, I have him at number two, but he’s just not the freak of human nature people have painted him to be. His intagibles are the best, but physically and mentally he’s not the player Manning is, and he doesn’t have the skill or trust from his coaches to do quite the amount of on-field play calling and adjusting Manning does.

2. Tom Brady- I basically gave all my arguments above. Tom Brady is thriving in the system he is in, as it’s basically been built around him. He might do well on another team, but he wouldn’t be considered the quarterback he is now. I think the really great quarterbacks could do well on any team.

3. Carson Palmer- The knee injury makes me a little distrustful of him starting out this year, but assuming he makes a full recovery, he should be even better, and he’s well on his way to being the next Peyton Manning. After only two years of playing time he’s already established himself as one of the best out there. There just isn’t a throw he can’t make, and the deep out, the throw that sets aside great quarterbacks, is one of his best.

4. Ben Roethlisberger- He doesn’t stand out as much as others because his numbers aren’t as good, and he has a good running game, but the guy’s the youngest quarterback ever to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory, he’s 27-4 since entering the league, and in the span of about two months he led the Steelers to victory over the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd best teams in the AFC, as well as the top two teams in the NFC. He’s great under presssure, and he looks to have an unbelievably bright career ahead of him, especially with his recovery from the accident going so well.

5. Drew Brees- A player who I think is all in all fairly underrated. Why the Saints let him go in favor of the untested Philip Rivers is beyond me, but it’s a decision I think they’re going to regret. Brees completely turned around the San Diego franchise, and put up some stunning numbers at the same time. His passer rating has been excellent, and he’s got over 50 touchdowns in the last two seasons.