12 random thoughts from around the NFC East

Cold weather = Bad Eli?

1. Mark Sanchez had an awful game yesterday as everyone and their mother has pointed out.  But Eli Manning wasn’t much better: He was 9 of 27 for 225 (99 of which came courtesy of Victor Cruz’s awesomeness), 1 TD, 1 INT.  That’s his second bad game in a row.

2. Terrible safety play is an epidemic in the NFL.  Think of your top 3 safeties in the league.  Obviously, you got Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu, and then who do you take?  In the NFC East, I think all 4 teams should be unsatisfied with their safeties.  With the Eagles, Nate Allen can play and should be better with a knee that’s 100% throughout the entire offseason, but is Kurt Coleman really an NFL starter?  Is Jaiquawn Jarrett a player?  With Dallas, the Cowboys probably overpaid Gerald Sensabaugh a bit, but may have been justified in doing so as they could be doing a lot worse at safety. Meanwhile, Abram Elam is just a guy.  In New York, where they use 3-safety sets quite a bit, Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant were both really bad this season.  And in Washington, LaRon Landry can’t stay healthy.  But I’ll say this, as a fan of an NFC East team, no matter how bad you think you may have it, you could be a Jets fan.  I’ve never seen a safety with such an embarrassing lack of speed as Eric Smith trying to chase down Victor Cruz on his 99 yard TD on Saturday.  No idea how that guy has a job in the NFL.

3. Apologies again to my Redskins readers, as I’ve been covering the other 3 teams a hell of a lot more for the last couple months, for obvious reasons. But fear not, your time (the offseason) will be upon us once again, and the focus will shift back your way in a week. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I kinda think I like what’s going on in DC lately.  I got you guys earmarked as a legitimate contender in 2013 if the patient building continues.

4. If you said the Eagles season would be derailed because Michael Vick can’t stay healthy, congrats, you might have been right.  Vince Young’s performance against the Seahawks was atrocious.  Gotta wonder if that game is different with a healthy Vick.  And do the Eagles lose to Atlanta Week 2 if Vick doesn’t have to leave that game?

5. The Cowboys scored 2 TDs against the Eagles this season, and looked like jackasses both times by emphatically spiking the ball in a blowout.

6. One matchup I watched all day was Justin Tuck vs Wayne Hunter.  I thought that was a matchup Tuck had to dominate.  He didn’t.  For the better part of the day, Hunter won that battle.  Tuck looked nothing like the star player he’s been over the last 5 years, but I’ll say this for him… On that QB waggle the Jets tried to run where Tuck was unblocked, he did a great job keeping contain on Sanchez, didn’t buy a pump fake, and closed in for the sack.  He’s clearly not the same player, but that was a veteran savvy play.  I think Tuck can contribute just by doing his job, but he’s not a guy that can be counted on to mke plays at this point.  The Cowboys can probably rest easy giving Tyron Smith no help on that side.

7. I’m beginning to wonder if the Eagles are going to hang onto Juan Castillo next year.  A couple weeks ago, that seemed like an impossibility.  As my buddy Brian Solomon from McNabbOrKolb.com pointed out right after the Eagles knocked out Tony Romo:

Romo being out only makes it more likely the #Eagles play shutdown defense, which only makes it more likely they keep Juan Castillo.
Brian Solomon

Did you know the Eagles are now the 8th ranked D in the league?  How is that possible?  Well… they are:

And they have the Redskins next week.

8. The Cowboys have to make QB a priority this offseason.  Jon Kitna is probably done, and Stephen McGee has not looked good anytime I’ve ever seen him.  I’ll also note that Tony Romo is playing well and there’s little reason to think about replacing him in the near future, but the Cowboys need to keep in mind he’ll be 32 in April.

9. The “Tuck rule” is one of the worst rules in sports.  Get rid of that nonsense.  It cost the Giants a turnover.  I also felt that Jeremy Kerley’s elbow did not hit the ground on the play that nullified a Giants TD.  And there was a 3rd bad call I’m not recalling right now.  Give the Giants credit.  They overcame the officials and won anyway.

10. I’ve never seen an onsides kick after a safety.  The Jets’ punter basically punted the ball into the turf. Very odd looking.

11. The Eagles are now 3-0 when Michael Vick pulls his socks all the way up.

12. Victor Cruz: 76 catches, 1358 yards, 8 TD.  Wow.


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  23. TheStallion54 says:

    Vick is 32 also and I cant remember the last time he played a full season.

  24. Keith says:

    8th ranked defense, and solid improvement over the course of the year. 12th in pts allowed, but a league-leading 36 turnovers by the offense might be skewing that a bit.

    Weird. Didn’t think Castillo had a chance to stay, but now I kind of want him to come back (with the caveat that if Spags will take it I’d love him to be DC).

  25. norman says:

    The problem with safeties is they need to be so many things at once. A safety has a good season, gets paid (see: rolle, antrell) and then are exposed and are expensive mistakes.

    Mediocre safety play can be buried. Great safety play can be expensive. How much money did Indy tie up in an oft-injured Bob Sanders? Money that could’ve fixed many other problems on swiss defense.

    I’d rather pay mediocre guys and give up occassional big plays than break the bank.

    Btw, Nick Collins is clearly the best safety in the conference, #3 in league. Even injured, I’m taking him #3.

    Allen needs more time. Safeties are shakey under 3 years experience.

    1. norman says:

      Btw if I’m building a defense, Madden style, first thing I take is either a top flight middle linebacker or a versitile vetern safety. Pass rushers can be rotated and pressure can come from blitzs. There’s maybe a dozen really good DTs in the league, and corners come and go.

      But those two things, MLB and Safety, are just so important. Think of how long Urlacher has been just running that defense. Ray Lewis. Patrick Willis.

  26. Tim Rice says:

    If Nick Collins were healthy, hes #3 safety.

  27. bdawk4ever says:

    Glad to see Eli return to Earth to show the QB he really is.

    Cruz is the most overrated and lucky WR out there. He’ll also return to Earth next year.

    And I thought it was pretty clear the elbow was now- his forearm hit the shoe.

    I think Juan will be back, but maybe in an different role on defense (assistant DC?)

    1. giants fan says:


      really, can’t wait until they both prove you wrong next season.

  28. BBI says:

    What’d be interesting is looking at the NFC safeties. In your 2nd point, you didn’t mention Kenny Phillips, who is quietly one of the few bright spots in the putrid Giants secondary….I’d say he’d go toe-to-toe with a healthy LaRon Landry for best in the East. Probably a top 3 safety in the conference…more because of the relative suck that is the NFC safeties than actual playing ability, but that’s neither here nor there.

  29. ICDogg says:

    I do think Castillo will be back. I think we can all agree that he was not ready for this job when hired, and that it took him too long to put the defense together. But, eventually, he did put it together, and got better at his job. And, I think, they have a system in place that works well, provided they shore up a couple of spots. I think it would be dumb for Andy to rip it all up and start with a new DC at this point.

  30. Anders says:

    For the Jets sake, I hope they draft a new QB in the upcoming draft.

  31. WeNeedLinemen42 says:

    Point 2 is interesting. Safety is perhaps the most massively under-valued position in football. It is one of the most under-recruited, lowest paid and under-drafted positions in the sport despite the obvious impact both good and bad safety play has.

    Superstar players like Ronnie Lott, Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu and even Bob Sanders can have a huge impact because the safety position allows them freedom. It allows them to be matched against the QB, opening up the field.

    Safety is almost an after thought in roster building but I’d actually make it my second priority after a top-class pass rusher. A great corner can shut down an opponent’s best receiver. A great safety can make a QB’s life difficult wherever they throw it, and impact the running game as well.

  32. WeNeedLinemen42 says:

    I think Tuck has been one of the best players in the league over the last few years but he has looked a shadow of his former self this season. At this point you have to wonder why they haven’t resterd him. He is clearly not playing at 100% after injury. You might as well put in a back-up, in terms of performance, and allow Tuck the time to heal up.

    1. Matth313 says:

      I’m sure the Giants would love too… But who?? JPP’s been playing out of his mind but Osi has only played in a game or two it seems. Dave Tollefson is already playing way too much. Some have suggested moving Kiwi back to end but hes been playing from passable to very good at the OLB position. Also our LB have been depleted with Goff and Sintim out as well as Boley missing time. The only other LB we have are the rooks and the newly signed Blackburn.

  33. Imp says:

    I don’t think that game was entirely Eli’s fault. It seem like he was making a lot of passes to his guys, but they kept on dropping them. Challenging constantly Revis was stupid, though.

    As for Cruz, one year wonder. The last guy to break a Giant receiving record was Stev Smit. Not to mention it isn’t that uncommon for one guy to have a great year and do nothing else in his career. Just ask Roy Williams, Brandon Lloyd, Brandon Stokely, and Sidney Rice what that is like.

  34. Joe D says:

    shoulda just renamed the jerseya/jersey b game “the suck bowl”

    two mediocre teams battling out who could be the most mediocre..sanchez REALLY REALLY tried hard to make the Jets the winner of that award.

  35. Andrew says:

    And do the Eagles lose to Atlanta Week 2 if Vick doesn’t have to leave that game

    Vick left and it took all the wind out of our sails. The D was playing pretty well minus the Tony stuff. Vick leaves and we crumbled.

    And on number 5 didnt Robinson give that ball to a lil kid for make a wish?

  36. Doug_M says:

    The only way I see castillo leaving at this point is if we can sign someone like spags or resurrect JJ. His last few games have been pretty damn good to say the least and while he did have a rough start to the season Nnamdi came out and said it was because the defense didnt trust him when he was making bonehead calls. Now he is listening to his players, learning the ropes and when the players and Juan work together it looks pretty good.

    Yes he did have an absolutely awful stretch of games, but unless we can go and sign someone that blows him out of the water, I say we take our chances again and keep him here for another year and a full offseason.

    1. Rick says:

      I always felt it was unfair to judge Castillo the first half of the season this year since there was little off-season. I’m not sure if Castillo will ever be a good defensive coordinator but they way the Eagles defense has been playing lately I’m fine with giving him another year.

    2. Scott says:

      I hope we keep him around, especially if he has another good day against washington

    3. Free Plax says:

      Don’t be fooled by the Eagles mirage over three mediocore to bad teams, NFC East sucks this year and the Eagles are down there with the Deadskins, they need major work before next season. Your QB is injury prone because of his style or his size, bottom line is you can’t count on him for 16 games, and that D, I can only pray that the Eagles keep Castillo, because it’s not good I don’t care what the stats say, they give up big plays at bad times and you can run on them. They need a real DC to fix that mess.

  37. The Legend says:

    I don’t know if you can blame the Atlanta loss on Vick leaving, Kafka was moving us really good & then Maclin dropped a ball he should of caught. I blame it on the defense though because I think we were up by 10 when Vick left

    The 3rd “bad” call you’re trying to remember is a 2nd tuck rule that was called

  38. giants fan says:

    I don’t think Eli had a bad game, and it seems pretty unfair to put those numbers on his shoulders. The vast majority of his balls were right on point but the jets secondary played very well and had some ridiculous number of passes defended. Secondly, his lone INT was on a tipped pass that Nicks should have had. Finally, will someone call a P.I. on Revis? The dude gets away with more arm wrapping than anyone I’ve ever seen in the NFL and people keep talking about how good he is. Shit, if Aaron Ross could wrap up a receiver before the ball leaves the qb’s hands he’d have good numbers too.

    1. giants fan says:

      Also, I’ll be curious to find out what has been ailing Tuck this season, after the season is over. I think he’s had his fair share of injuries but it really seems psychological too. /analyzingfootballplayers

      1. The Legend says:

        Hasn’t it been said that Tuck’s neck is messed up?

    2. I’d put that pick on Eli. Revis had good coverage on Nicks. That’s a pass he can’t make. Revis deflected it, it popped up in the air and Harris cleaned up. True, it’s a deflection pick, but those happen when you throw into good coverage.

      1. Will says:

        That one on the pick hit Nicks right in the hands. Revis had nothing to do with it

        1. Just re-watched on NFL.com. Looked to me like Revis got a hand on it. But even if he didn’t, Nicks was blanketed. It wasn’t a good decision.

          1. giants fan says:

            Eli explained his thinking in the post-game interview. He had single coverage against Revis and he threw it low and away. At worst he was thinking he’d get an incompletion but Nicks tipped it up. All in all, he took care of the ball yesterday and didn’t benefit from more dropped passes from his wide outs. Giants sit at #2 in the league in dropped passes this year.

          2. Will says:

            It hits nicks’ hands then his facemask. Also he had a step on Revis. Definitely should have been a catch

            1. Steve says:

              Not sure what game you were watching but it was not a catchable ball.

        2. Free Plax says:

          Dumb play by Eli no justifying that, we should have been trying to milk the clock at that point, and he audibled from a run to that pass. Second I don’t know why the Giants were so determined to throw at Revis, the guy is the real deal, unlike Nnamdi this guy is as good as his rep says he is.

          One thing about this Giant team the only consistant is they are inconsistant, and this is the 2nd game in a row that the offense played pretty bad.

  39. Seanrude says:

    I agree with #8. Kitna is done, but he was a serviceable backup. McGee has shown nothing in the preseason or the regular season to indicate that he could even be a career backup. Time to cut the cord there. As for Romo being 32, while some of the Romo fanboys would have you believe that the combination of his not having played the first few years of his career plus something about about Joe Montana means Romo can play effectively into his mid-40s, I think QB is too important to not have the potential next guy on your roster at all times, so a smart team is always looking at drafting a qb.

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