1. Congrats to the Giants. Eli Manning was sharp… again. The DL embarrassed the Falcons OL all day. The secondary that had been abused in many a regular season game came to play, and then some. Ditto that for the linebackers in pass coverage. The OL opened up some gaping holes in the run game, something they hadn’t done all season. And that defense… they looked nothing like the unit that finished the regular season 27th in yards allowed and 25th in points allowed. In order of the remaining teams I’d want to play if I had the choice, it’d still go Giants, Niners, Saints at home, Packers, Saints in their dome, but it’s not a no-brainer to put the Giants in front of the Niners anymore.
2. Corey Webster dominated Roddy White. 12 targets, 5 catches, 52 yards. At one point, White was so frustrated that he threw a punch at Webster, which the officials missed.
3. A quick recap of what the Falcons gave up to get Julio Jones in the 2011 draft:
- First Round: No. 27 overall pick in 2011
- Second Round: No. 59 overall pick in 2011
- Fourth Round: No. 124 overall pick in 2011
- First Round: Falcons’ first round pick in 2012 (22nd overall)
- Fourth Round: Falcons’ fourth round pick in 2012
They thought they were one player away from a Super Bowl run. One of the fatal flaws of a front office is overrating your own talent. The Falcons had holes up and down their OL and secondary. It showed in brutal fashion yesterday. Julio Jones looks like he’s going to be a really good player, and I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing him. After all it’s not his fault the Falcons gave up an absurd package to get him. But that trade is looking insanely dumb right about now.
4. Matt Ryan, welcome to Tony Romo treatment from the media. His three playoff appearances:
|2011||L 2-24 Giants||24||41||199||4.85||0||0||71.1|
|2010||L 21-48 Packers||20||29||186||6.41||1||2||69|
|2008||L 24-30 Cardinals||26||40||199||4.98||2||2||72.8|
Obviously, that’s not a good track record in January so far for the man with the most undeserved nickname in sports. And his stat line from yesterday doesn’t really even tell the whole story. Remember that “drive” at the end of the first half? That was as bad an example of comical clock management as I’ve seen all season. And on those two ill-fated QB sneaks, Matty, can you maybe do a little bit more than just take the snap, hold the ball way down by your stomach, and kinda lean into your center? You’re basically asking your OL to push the DL a yard off the ball. It ain’t happening. I know people get a little fanatical about who are the “Top 5” or “Top 10” QBs in the league. Matt Ryan isn’t in either category.
5. Speaking of QB sneaks, my least favorite call in the NFL playbook is when the offense goes empty backfield and runs the sneak. I guess there are 2 things that’s supposed to do. First, the hope is that the defense sees the empty backfield and thinks, “Hey, there’s no RB back there. It’s a pass!” That may have worked the first few times teams ran the formation back in the 80’s, but I think we’ve all seen that look often enough by now to know it’s going to be a sneak. Not a single person in the stadium was fooled by that nonsense yesterday. The other benefit it’s supposed to have is that if you’re going 5 wides, the defense has to spread out their defense to cover all the receivers. OK, fine. So that’s 5 defenders you take out of the equation. Problem is, every one in the stadium, along with the 6 remaining beefy defenders on the interior still know it’s a sneak and they’re simply going to plug the gaps around the G-C-G. Please get rid of that play… forever.
6. Mike Shanahan and his coaching staff are going to be coaching one of the Senior Bowl squads this year. I’ll be there for the full week of practices with tons of coverage. The Skins drafted 6 players that attended the Senior Bowl last year, tops in the league. In fact, they chose Senior Bowl participants with their first four picks. The list: Ryan Kerrigan, Jarvis Jenkins, Leonard Hankerson, Roy Helu, Niles Paul, and Chris Neild.
The point I’m trying to drive home here in case it wasn’t obvious enough… Read my blog that week, Skins fans. Correction… read my blog every week, but especially that week.
7. I’m sure Eagles fans already know this, but I wonder how many of my Giants, Redskins and Cowboys readers are up on this little tidbit: Darren Sproles got a lot of attention this offseason in free agency, and he had narrowed his list down to two teams: the Eagles and Saints. Thank Drew Brees’ close relationship with Sproles for not having to face that nightmare twice/season. Not that the Eagles would have used him as effectively as the Saints do… but still.
8. I’m a big Mike Mayock fan. I attended most of Eagles training camp back in August, and with all the free agent signings, Eagles camp was a common destination for a large number of national NFL writers, TV personalities, radio guys, etc. Most of the national guys I saw spent their time BS’ing with other media types as the practices were going on, paying little attention to the action on the field. Not Mayock. Mayock had a pen and pad, and watched the practice, taking notes the entire time. It really impressed me. So again, I like Mike Mayock, and appreciate the fact that he cares enough to watch tape and actually know all the players’ names, unlike plenty of other color commentators.
But holy crap was he annoying during the Texans-Bengals game. I can’t even count how many times he pointed something out pre-snap. He’d circle Andre Johnson and Jonathan Joseph and say something like, “Oh look at this down here. It’s the Bengals’ best corner on the Texans’ best receiver.” No shit, Mike. That kinda happens a lot. And then the Texans would run the ball, making his pre-snap player circling useless. It got to be irritating. There’s a difference between pointing things out that the common viewer might not see (good), and shoving it down your throat (bad). Lay off the Extra Bold Jet Fuel Coffee Roast and let us watch the freaking game, Mike.
9. Greg Knapp is the Texans’ QB coach. Seeing his face Saturday reminded me of what a mega-asshole Terrell Owens is/was. 1:24 mark:
10. Loved this tweet from the famed Division III writer Keith McMillan:
It really is one of the most annoying things about twitter. Every time Tim Tebow does something good, I’m told by at least 20 of the people I follow that I’m a douchebag if I didn’t believe in Tim Tebow, when I and most of the population out there don’t really even have strong feelings on the guy either way. So just stop it.
11. Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz noted that the Lions make would all the sense in the world to make a play for Asante Samuel. He thinks the price tag could as high as a 2:
Sticking with the Lions for a second…they desperately need a CB who can cover and/or make plays. GM Martin Mayhew needs to be on the phone with Howie Roseman ASAP. That team could really use a guy like Asante Samuel. He’s got his issues, but the Lions last night were torched over and over.
Originally I thought we’d get a 3rd round pick for Asante, but after that game, the Eagles just might be able to get a 2nd. The Lions need a CB who can step in and play at a high level right away. That’s Asante.
Personally, I remain doubtful the Eagles are sniffing a 2. He’s 31 years old and is scheduled to make $18.8 million over the next two years. But you never know. I was surprised the Eagles were able to pry a 2 AND Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie away from the Cardinals for Kevin Kolb, and I was about as big a believer in Kolb as you could find. Tommy wrote that before the Sunday playoff games, by the way. After watching Atlanta and Pittsburgh, you easily make an argument for Asante Samuel as a member of the Falcons or Steelers as well.
12. Hey CBS, in the scoreboard that remains up for the entire game at the top of the screen, please change the background in “PIT” from yellow to black. I don’t like being tricked into thinking there’s a penalty flag on every play. Thanks.
13. Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey is a strong head coaching candidate. You’d never know it after watching that debacle yesterday.
14. The “Ridiculous Personal Foul Call of the Week” goes to Jacquain Williams of the Giants. Close second was the call on one of the Lion defenders on Marques Colston in the end zone Saturday night, which caused Cris Collinsworth to quip something to the effect of “In my day, you were happy if that’s as light a hit as you got while trying to make a catch in the end zone.”
15. The pass from Eli Manning to Mario Manningham in the back of the end zone was an absolutely gorgeous ball.
16. Originally, I was kinda rooting for the Steelers to beat the Broncos yesterday. I figured Steelers-Pats was a better game than Pats-Broncos, but as the game wore on, I sort of remembered that I hate the Steelers. Cowboys fans get the rep for having “bandwagon fans,” as people latched onto a winner in the 70’s and 90’s despite having zero connection to the city of Dallas. But Steelers fans have more than their share of bandwagon fans as well. Even more bothersome is that they get this ridiculous reputation for “traveling well,” as if 15,000 people from Pittsburgh are flooding opposing stadiums with regularity. While I’m sure that some of those fans make the trek to opposing stadiums from the Pittsburgh area, the majority of those people are bandwagon fans that happen to be from the area where the Steelers are playing that week. So screw you, Steelers fans. I enjoyed your loss yesterday thoroughly.
17. The following tweet by Les Bowen, a Philly beat writer that was covering the Giants-Falcons game, reminds me of a quick story:
Well, as a media outlet that’s not a major newspaper, I happen to be one of those “4th row press box” guys on typical regular season games. Last season, I covered the Eagles-Packers playoff game, and to my dismay, when I checked the press box seating chart, I found that I had been bumped from my usual spot in the 4th row to a bar stool behind the 4th row. Seriously. A bar stool. With pegs that weren’t even high enough up so that my legs could to elevated to the point where I could rest my laptop on my knees and actually… you know… type stuff. Meanwhile, guys from Seattle, and New York, and Chicago, and Atlanta, and other cities that had almost no interest in the game whatsoever were occupying my typical 4th row spot… and probably bitching about it.
I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, as I’m just happy they let me cover at all, but had I known I’d been positioned on a bar stool, I’d have just stayed home and watched the game there. With three hours before kickoff, nowhere to set up shop, mildly annoyed, and slightly embarrassed, I said screw it, and went out to the parking lot to tailgate with a few friends that were attending the game. With a slight buzz going, I re-entered the press box about 15 minutes to kickoff. Then I realized something… the Saints were like 14 point favorites over the Seahawks the day before, and we all remember what happened in that game:
I figured there was no way in hell the Saints beat reporters scheduled a trip to Philly, thinking that the Saints would easily handle the 7-9 Seahawks in the first round. I went back to the seating chart, and found the representative from the Picayune Times. Went to his seat, and sure enough, no show. Regular 4th row seat for Jimmy… reclaimed. All I had to do was talk like the cajun guy from The Waterboy all day. OK, so I didn’t really do that last part, but sometimes you think of clever stuff when you’re a little buzzed.