G-Men In Trouble: Last night’s 20-8 loss in Dallas was not what the doctor prescribed for the New York Giants. Not by a long shot. You see, the Cowboys were a team in turmoil, with Terrell Owens fighting Jason Witten. The Cowboys also were blitzed by Big Blue earlier this season 35-14, and the Giants had the opportunity to pretty much put the final nail in Dallas’ coffin with a win last night.
That didn’t happen. What happened was that the Giants got exposed.
We always knew the Cowboys had talent. That was why they had been favored to go to the Super Bowl this past summer, even after the Giants came out of nowhere and beat the supposedly unbeatable New England Patriots. But to do what they did last night, considering the soap opera week the Cowboys had, was more than a lot of people expected. But, maybe it shouldn’t have been such a surprise.
The Giants had survived injuries up until last week’s loss to the Eagles. An undermanned defense was still playing well. But two key cogs have been plucked from the New York offense, and Eli Manning hasn’t really been able to recover.
Plaxico Burress shot himself a few weeks ago, and literally shot the Giants in the foot. The Giants have serviceable receivers, but no playmakers. It’s easier for a defense to plan for Amani Toomer, Steve Smith, Domenick Hixon and Sinorice Moss than it is to plan for Plax. The much maligned Dallas secondary showed you that last night.
As if losing Burress weren’t bad enough, Brandon Jacobs sat last night with a knee injury. He may not be a gamebreaker, but his 260 pound body wears on a defense. When Jacobs slams into a defensive line twenty-five times a game, they tend to get beat up, which makes it easier for Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw to get their yards. Without Jacobs, Ward was limited to fourteen carries and 64 yards.
So, now the Giants have lost two in a row. Games they probably should have won but didn’t. Now they are 11-3, with must win games against the Panthers and Vikings coming up to close the regular season.
The game at the Meadowlands next Sunday night is going to be a dangerous one for the G-Men. Carolina plays the run well. They have their own version of Smash and Dash with thousand-yard rusher D’Angelo Williams and rookie Jonathan Stewart. And even though Jake Delhomme isn’t the best quarterback in the world statistically, he’s one of the best leaders in the NFL. His players go to the wall for him, plain and simple
It may have been outlandish to think that Carolina could wind up as the NFC’s number one seed when camps opened up in July. But, five months later, the outlandish could be reality. And New York’s dreams of winning back to back Super Bowls could very well be vanishing before our very eyes.
Heisman Sam:It didn’t come as a shock that Sam Bradford won the Heisman. The Oklahoma QB threw for nearly 4,500 yards and 48 TD’s. He also had high profile late season wins broadcast in primetime over Oklahoma State and Missouri. In the end, Bradford was probably the right choice. Not to take anything away from McCoy, but Texas’ late season schedule (Baylor and Texas A&M) left something to be desired. Tebow was everything for Florida in the SEC title game win over Alabama, but he did not have as dominating a season as he did a year ago.
However, this was no runaway victory for Bradford. Texas QB Colt McCoy, who out-dueled Bradford in the Red River Rivalry/Shootout on a neutral field, finished second. Last year’s winner, Florida QB Tim Tebow, finished third. Less than 200 points separated these three players, and no one would have been surprised or upset had either Tebow or McCoy won the award.
All of which makes the showdown for the B(C)S National Championship early next month even more intriguing. Will Bradford suffer the same fate that Oklahoma’s last Heisman winning QB, Jason White did? (For those of you that don’t remember LSU beat Oklahoma in ther Sugar Bowl to win a split National Championship, holding White to 13-of-37 passing for 102 yards and a pair of interceptions). Or, will Bradford outduel Tebow on a neutral field, doing what he did not do in Dallas this past October, when McCoy and the Longhorns edged Bradford and the Sooners 45-35?
Then there is the question of whether or not Bradford and Tebow will decide to turn pro after the bowl game (remember, McCoy has already said he will return to Austin next season). The bet here says both will wind up in the NFL next season. There is too much risk in returning to college. Injuries can occur, and careers can be derailed before they even get started.
If both do go pro, which would wind up being the better NFL quarterback? Even though Heisman winning quarterbacks do not always go on to productive NFL careers (White, Eric Crouch, and Gino Torretta come to mind), Bradford is a good bet to have a productive pro career. He is bigger and has a better arm than some of the other QB’s that have won the Heisman. He also is a quarterback, not an athlete playing quarterback, which will play a big role as he makes the transition from college to the NFL.
Don’t get me wrong. Tebow is going to have a productive NFL career as well. Just not at quarterback. He’s not a good enough passer to make the transition to the next level. But he is a superior runner. He is a superior athlete. It would not be a shock to see him move to an H-back type of position in the NFL, where we could see him line up at quarterback in the much talked about ‘Wildcat’ formation.
Bottom line – in college, the best athlete on the team normally plays quarterback. In the pros, it’s a different story.
Yanks Get Their Man.. Again: Well, the Yankees did it again. Even though Atlanta reportedly had $80M on the table at one point, the Yankees put $82.5M on the table and Blue Jays free agent pitcher A.J. Burnett decided to take his act to The Big Apple.
So, in case you are scoring at home, the Yankees have put down $243.5M for the top two free agent starters on the market. And they may not be done. Word is they are trying to convince Derek Lowe to spurn Boston and Philadelphia for Yankee pinstripes. And, if they can’t get Lowe they may turn their attention to Ben ‘Fragile’ Sheets.
We’ll deal with Lowe and/or Sheets if and when the Yankees sign them. But, let’s concentrate on the two guys the Yankees did sign. What did they get for their $243.5M?
Keep in mind that it takes a special athlete to come to New York. There are two 24-hour Sports Radio stations in NYC. There are over ten newspapers in the area. There are six local over the air television stations plus three cable outlets that cover the team on a daily basis. CC Sabathia and Burnett are going to face more pressure and scrutiny than they ever have before.
Sabathia should be able to handle it without a problem, even with his misadventures in the playoffs. Sabathia was the reason the Brewers got to the playoffs last season. The man pitched four times down the stretch on three days rest. He could have told then manager Dale Sveum that he wouldn’t do it to protect himself, but that’s not the kind oif guy Sabathia is. He wants the ball in clutch situations. He’s a throwback, a guy that reminds you of Gibson, Koufax, and Spahn.
Burnett, on the other hand is a different story. Sure he had a terrific year last season, going 18-10 with an ERA just a little over 4.00. But, to be fair, it was the first time in his career that he put together a season with over fifteen wins.
Part of the reason why was because he was able to make over thirty starts for the first time since 2005. Burnett came up to the Marlins in 1999 but didn’t become a fixture in their rotation until 2001. Injuries limited Burnett to four and twelve starts in 2003 and 2004, and after staying healthy in ’05 (his walk year), he made just 21 and 25 starts in 2006 and 2007. In other words, the man is an injury waiting to happen.
He better be able to stay healthy in New York. Otherwise he is going to hear it from the media, the fans, and maybe even Hank Steinbrenner, who is not shy about making his feeling known in the press (I wonder where he got that from?). The track record Burnett has put together suggests he is more Carl Pavano than Sabathia, who doesn’t get hurt, wants the ball when it matters most, and will wind up being worth every penny the Yankees spent on him.
Let me know what you think. Leave me a comment on The Weekend Wrap. I’ll be back with my next blog on Thursday.