Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Warner to be Missed?

“I want to be somewhere starting next year. They know it’s not here with the New York Giants. And they understand my point of view 100 percent.” - Kurt Warner

These where the words from Kurt Warner. It is apparent he wont be with the Gaints next season. Since Eli is the quaterback of the future.

Thought the Gaints had a winning record with Warner. Warner was the bad. He still ranks number 7 in the NFC.

Eli on the other still has a little more time to grow. To bad Warner's inpatince well have him leaving. Eli will be great to watch some day. And Warner has front row seats to this Eli's career.

It is not like Warner can't help the guy out some.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Eli vs. Ben

BY AP, from
The main thing separating Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning on Saturday was the Pittsburgh Steelers' rookie quarterback made his biggest plays with the game on the line.

Roethlisberger threw for a season-high 316 yards and hit four straight passes to set up Jerome Bettis' game-winning 1-yard run with 4:57 to go, leading the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 33-30 win over the New York Giants.

"I am amazed, but he is an awesome quarterback," receiver Antwaan Randle said after Roethlisberger led the Steelers (13-1) to a team-record 12th straight win and handed the Giants (5-9) a seventh straight loss.

"He might have a long way to go, but he has this great poise," said Randle El, who caught five passes for 149 yards and a TD and also threw his first career TD. "You can have all the ability in the world but if you don't have to the poise to do it, it won't happen."

Roethlisberger, who has not lost in 25 straight college and pro starts, showed his poise in moving the Steelers from their 33 to the New York 8 after a Tiki Barber 1-yard run had given New York a 30-26 lead.

"He has been making good decisions with games on the line," coach Bill Cowher said of the 11th pick in the NFL draft. "In the fourth quarter, he has a feel for the game and an understanding of the game and he manages it well."

Until Saturday, Manning has struggled in losing his first four starts. The No. 1 pick in the draft was horrible in his last two games and seemingly had lost his confidence.

Using a game plan filled with plays he liked, Manning found himself against the NFL's top-ranked defense. He threw two touchdown passes and set up Barber's go-ahead touchdown with three completions of 15 yards or more.

"I had fun because we were getting some stuff done," said Manning, who completed 16 of 23 for 182 yards. "We were making plays, running the ball, the line was protecting, receivers were making catching. We got in a rhythm and it was back to playing football again. It was a good feeling."

Roethlisberger hit five passes of 34 or more yards in a much-hyped matchup with Manning, who only had one over 20 yards.

The two talked before the game and they congratulated each other after it was over.

"I don't ever want to remember what it is like to lose," said Roethlisberger, who also threw two interceptions.

Randle El caught a 35-yard touchdown pass and threw a 10-yard shovel pass to Verron Haynes for a touchdown. Jeff Reed kicked four field goals, Hines Ward had nine catches for 134 yards despite finishing the game with a hip pointer and Bettis ran for 140 yards for the Steelers.

Manning threw touchdown passes of 2 yards to Jeremy Shockey and 1 yard to Marcellus Rivers. He also hit Amani Toomer with two 17-yard passes and he added a 15-yarder to Ike Hilliard to set up Barber's go-ahead TD run.

Manning was sacked on a 2-point conversion attempt.

Roethlisberger then sandwiched passes of 9 and 11 yards to Ward around a dump off to Bettis before hitting Randle El for 36 yards to the Giants 8. Three straight runs by Bettis got the ball in the end zone.

Willie Williams picked off a deep throw to a tripped Toomer on the next series and the Steelers ran out the clock.

Giants receiver Willie Ponder took the opening kickoff 91 yards for a score. It was the Giants' first game-opening kickoff return for a touchdown in a regular-season home game in their 80-year history.

The Steelers used trickery to tie the game with Randle El making the shovel pass after taking a lateral from Roethlisberger.

Manning, who had led the Giants to only one touchdown in 45 possessions since replacing Kurt Warner at quarterback, hit Shockey for a TD on the next series.

Manning gave New York a 24-23 lead with his TD pass to Rivers.

Reed put Pittsburgh ahead 26-24 with is 28-yarder early in the fourth quarter.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A Giant Dilemma

By Michael Eisen,
Is the Giants’ offense having trouble scoring because Eli Manning is struggling, or are Manning’s problems the result of an offense that offers him little help?

Coach Tom Coughlin didn’t provide an answer in a conference call today, but acknowledged the Giants need better play from the quarterback and those around him as they enter the final three weeks of the season.

Manning and his mates both had forgettable games in the Giants’ 37-14 loss to the Ravens Sunday in Baltimore. The rookie quarterback completed only four of 18 passes for 27 yards, did not lead the Giants to the end zone and finished with a rating of 0.0. The offense put its only points on the board with 3:25 remaining, after Kurt Warner had replaced Manning and the outcome had long since been decided.

The Giants lost their sixth consecutive game, the last four with Manning as the starting quarterback. Manning has taken the snaps for 46 offensive possessions and has the led the Giants to one touchdown. He has one scoring pass and six interceptions. As a team, the Giants have scored 37 points in four games, including one touchdown apiece on defense and special teams.

So who do you blame first, the quarterback or everyone on the offense?

“I think it’s hard for us right now to find a whole lot of positives on the offensive side,” Coughlin said. “It really was a situation (in Baltimore) where we needed the players around him to play at a higher level to help him so that he doesn’t have to be in the middle of making of every play or a high percentage of every play. Obviously, that’s not the case. But it has to start. The quarterback has to make plays, there’s no doubt about that either.”

When Manning left the game midway through the fourth quarter, the Giants had 58 yards of total offense. Immediately after the game, Coughlin announced to the team and then to the media that Manning will remain the starting quarterback. As a reward, Manning will face Pittsburgh on Saturday. The Steelers have won 11 games in a row and have the NFL’s top-ranked defense.

To some, it seems like a good week to give Manning a break and let Warner, the veteran, stabilize the situation. But Coughlin does not believe Manning should watch for a week.

“I don’t think that’s the answer,” he said. “I think you have to compete and look at the defenses we’ve played over the last few weeks, and that’s just part of the deal. I can’t make it any easier for you. It is what it is. You are playing against the best in football without a doubt and it’s week-in and week-out. And, of course, it doesn’t get any easier this week. I don’t know that that’s the answer. I will say that we have got to take better care of the football (after turning it over six times in Baltimore). I’m not going to sit here and stand for that now. That’s not even giving us a chance to win when we turn it over like that.”

The Giants players remain supportive of Manning. Coughlin was adamant that he does not have to “sell” Manning to the team after four disappointing weeks.

“We had a discussion in the locker room following the game yesterday and I think the players are in agreement with it,” Coughlin said. “I told them exactly that it was my responsibility, I made the decision. I said that Kurt played an outstanding game when he came off the bench, but Eli remains the starter. Eli’s got to go out and do what I believe what he told you after the game, to make plays so his teammates realize that he can win the game for them.”

While conceding that Manning played poorly against the Ravens, Coughlin believes one or two successful big plays could get the quarterback and the offense headed in the right direction.

“I look at it trying to be as positive as I can. You’ve a young guy who has faced a series of defenses, particularly on third down, which he had worked well against during practice,” Coughlin said. “Obviously, practices are not the same speed as you find on Sunday. He worked against them well during the week. He threw the ball at the right spot and he had momentum going into the game. Those things were on schedule. He didn’t get off to a good start in the game, didn’t make some plays early on.

“I thought the way in which the game started for us with the fumble on the kickoff and the fumble on the next series didn’t help him or anyone on the offensive side. Then to finish that up with an under thrown interception in which (Amani) Toomer had a step on (Gary) Baxter wasn’t a positive either. I just think that like anybody else, if something good would happen for Eli and the offensive team, I think they would feel a lot better about themselves.”

But opposing defense are making that very difficult by using all kinds of exotic blitzes and coverages to confound Manning.

“What they’re trying to do obviously is confuse the look that he has,” Coughlin said. “It’s causing him to pause at the line of scrimmage, which really is affecting the offense, because we seem to be over the ball for such a long amount of time. We just have to make a determination and go. They’re moving around, so obviously you just have to make a call and stick with it. They’re doing that for the obvious reason, to try and confuse the young player when in the long run there are some keys where they are either going to bring the predetermined number of people or come in a fashion that’s relatively familiar to him. I thought we had a pretty good workable scheme for either their four-down or three-down fronts in the sub-package and the third-down package in the game when we went in. I think that pretty much held up except they did cause some new and different alignments.”

Coughlin knows a rookie quarterback is going to make some mental mistakes. But he doesn’t want to see Manning falter in the physical aspect of his game, or start using bad mechanics.

“I think when he tries to hurry the ball his mechanics aren’t the way they should be,” Coughlin said. “I think there were two or three tipped balls early in the game where he was trying to sidearm the ball in between defensive linemen, for example, that I’d rather he didn’t do that or release it at the high point. But during the course of the game, sometimes you have to do things. I’m always concerned with fundamentals and we’ll continue to work on that.”

Perhaps in the next three weeks, the Giants will reap a reward from that hard work.