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Tag:Super Bowl XLVI
Posted on: February 2, 2012 1:53 am
 

Eli can (and will?) be better than Peyton

Peyton might be congratulating Eli for a few different reasons at some point. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- There's a fun little theory floating around Indy this week: Eli Manning will be better than Peyton Manning if he wins his second Super Bowl. That's ridiculous. Peyton's better, and it's not close. But Eli can be better, and there's a good chance he will when everything's said and done.

This isn't meant to disparage Peyton, because he's the face of this town and arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Quarterback wins -- and Super Bowl wins especially -- are a superficial stat designed to skew reality. Instead, let's focus (somewhat hypocritically?) on the possibility that Eli could catch Peyton in the all-important counting stats like passing yards, touchdowns and, um, wins.

Quick warning: if you're not a fan of hypotheticals, and hate the idea of averaging out quarterback success based on historical performance, go ahead and skip to the comments and call me a jerk.

Here are their stats as it stands today:

Manning Bro
Passing Yards
TD/INT
W-L
Peyton
54,828 399/198 141-67
Eli
27,579 185-129 69-50

It's not a contest. Hopefully even non-math majors can figure that out. But Peyton's also four years older than Eli, and spent an additional year in the league as a starter; Eli started just seven games his rookie year (Peyton got all 16).

They combined to win just four of those 23 games, but that's beside the point -- Peyton threw for 3,739 yards in his 16 starts while Eli threw for just 1,043 in his seven. Eli would've compiled just 2,384 yards if he played a full rookie season based on those averages. Peyton set the record for most attempts by a rookie (and had the most attempts in 1998 by any quarterback in the NFL) until Sam Bradford broke it in 2010. He had the record for most passing yards by a rookie until Cam Newton shattered it in 2011.

Espouse the whole "Peyton was more ready" argument you want, but it's silly. Eli didn't start, and Peyton won all of three games. The Colts were dreadful, so it's a pointless argument. Peyton also led the league in interceptions.

Whatever, let's wipe away their rookie season and see what they average over the course of their career, understanding that Eli needs to literally double up his passing yards and wins to catch Peyton and not lead the league in interceptions like he has two times in his career. Peyton did that just once: his rookie season.

Manning Bro
Average Pass Yards
Average TD/INT
Average W-L
Peyton
4,257 31/14 11.5/4.5
Eli
3,791 26/17 9.7/6.3

Peyton in a landslide, right? Yes indeed, in so far as career goes. But things are more interesting than just "Peyton's season numbers crush Eli's." Because they do; that much is obvious with just a glance above.

But what happens if Peyton retires now? This is a very realistic, albeit not technically discussed, scenario. Were that to happen, Eli would need 7.19 years of his "average" (sans his rookie year) play to catch Peyton in total passing yards. In other words, Eli needs to average 3,791 passing yards per season for seven years to catch Peyton. It would take him 8.23 years to catch Peyton in touchdowns. And it would take 7.42 years for him to catch Peyton in wins.

It's not remotely realistic to assume that "Eli's career length = Peyton's career length," but we can at least run with the idea that these two guys, who happen to be brothers, will have similar career paths. Right? Right.

If Eli played the exact length of Peyton's career (right around four-something years), he'd be pretty freaking close in terms of all these statistics. He might -- again, might -- also have two Super Bowls.

Perhaps the most interesting comparison involves the last three years of Eli's play. In that time, he was 28, 29 and 30 years old. Let's get all "Player A and Player B" on you for this one:

Manning Bro
Avg Passing Yards
TD/INT
W-L
Manning Bro A
4,319 29/18 9.0/7.0
Manning Bro B
4,190 35/10 12.7/3.3

You probably figured it out from the win totals, I hope, but "Bro A" is Eli and "Bro B" is Peyton. Or maybe it was the interceptions, since Eli honked 25 of them in 2009. But passing yards? That's a stat that matters when people like to make objective arguments, and it's one that Eli's starting to win in his prime.

This is where it gets really fascinating to me. Peyton had, statistically speaking, the second-best year of his career in 2010. He threw for the most passing yards (4,700) in his tenure, and he threw for 33 touchdowns, which ties for the second-most teeters he's thrown, along with 2009 and 2000. (He threw for a stupid 49 in 2004.)

Eli's clearly coming into his own right now, and he's starting to hit his prime. And you realize that Peyton got better after those three years right? A combination of quarterback-friendly rules, high-octane offenses and his own abilities as a quarterback made his lowest passing total since 2006 4,002 yards. Eli laughs at that. Or, at least, Manning Bro A laughs at that.

It's just not that insane to assume that Eli, younger brother of Peyton, will enjoy a similar career arc to his big brother. And from there, the leap to realize that Eli could be better just isn't that big a jump.

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Posted on: February 1, 2012 7:59 pm
 

Kevin Faulk still has big role with Patriots

K. Faulk spends time at Media Day (US Presswire).

By Josh Katzowitz

INDIANAPOLIS – Kevin Faulk began his career in New England 13 seasons ago. Before Bill Belichick, before Tom Brady, before the Super Bowl titles and the dynasty label. Back then, Faulk, taken in the second round of the 1999 NFL draft, took handoffs from Drew Bledsoe, took coaching from pre-USC Pete Carroll and took plenty of losses (19 in his first two seasons).

But better than perhaps anyone in the organization, Faulk understands how far the Patriots have come since 2000. He was there at the beginning when the team was going nowhere and in the middle when the Patriots couldn’t avoid the Super Bowl. And now as Faulk gets closer to the end of his closer, he gets to help determine if the Patriots can end their seven-year NFL title streak and reestablish themselves as one of the greatest organizations in NFL history.

Faulk has never really been a star. He led the team in rushing just once, and though he was a big contributor in the passing game for much of his career, he was rarely spectacular. Mostly, he was just solid. But he’s played for a coach in Belichick who has no qualms about cutting loose veteran players if he believes they’ve outgrown their usefulness,and  the fact Faulk has remained in New England all these years is a testament to Faulk’s importance in this organization.

Faulk

“Kevin has been essential,” Patriots guard Brian Waters said. “He’s got a lot of young guys he’s been working with. He has a great understanding of telling them what it takes to get to the next level. It’s different when it comes from coaches. Coaches say the same things over and over. When it comes from a player, especially when it comes from a guy with such a big heart and such a leader as he is, it definitely sticks with you.”

Faulk is not an outspoken player, which he fully displayed during Tuesday’s Media Day proceedings. He had his own podium, but his answers were clipped and not altogether interesting.

He’s adamant about not reflecting on his career before it’s finished. He knows he’s on the backend of his career, but he doesn’t appreciate these days any more than he appreciated the game in the past.

“What happened earlier in my career? You worry about that after your career,” said Faulk, who is the team’s all-time leader with 12,349 all-purpose yards and just one of six NFL players this past decade to total 3,000 rushing yards and 3,000 receiving yards. “Once you’re in it, you’re in it. You don’t want to look back and think about what you’ve done. You wait until it’s all over.”

He did wonder, though, if he still had a place in the NFL after missing most of last season with a torn ACL. He wondered, in fact, if he’d ever get a chance to win his fourth Super Bowl ring.

“Sorta, kinda,” said Faulk, who started this season on the PUP list. “That’s every year, though. You always wonder if you’re going to get back there. There’s a lot of different ways and situations that has to go on in order to make it to this point.”

But there’s little doubt Faulk has been one of Belichick’s favorite players. Even though Faulk, throughout the years, has played behind the likes of Terry Allen, J.R. Redmond, Antowain Smith, Laurence Maroney, Corey Dillon, Sammy Morris and BenJarvus Green-Ellis ((see above graph), Belichick continues to see Faulk’s value.

“In terms of his contributions, his unselfishness, and being a great teammate, everybody loves Kevin,” Belichick said. “As they should. He contributes so much to our football team. He’s so unselfish. Always tries to help the younger players and the team in whichever way he can. He’s not the most vocal guy, but he will speak up sometimes and it’s always in a positive way. He was here when I got here. He’s been a great player and a great teammate for all of us through the years.”

H/T to CBSSports.com's Ryan Wilson for the graph.

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Posted on: February 1, 2012 6:11 pm
 

Wednesday's Giants, Patriots injury reports

By Josh Katzowitz

INDIANAPOLIS -- With the Giants and Patriots returning to practice today, here is the first of three injury reports for Super Bowl XLVI. Obviously, it’s newsworthy that Rob Gronkowski didn’t practice at all today.

Giants

Limited:RB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), WR Hakeem Nicks (shoulder), DE Osi Umenyiora (ankle, knee), CB Corey Webster (hamstring), LB Jacquian Williams (foot)

Patriots

Did not participate: TE Rob Gronkowski (ankle)

Limited: OL Marcus Cannon (ankle), S Patrick Chung (knee), LB Dane Fletcher (thumb), DT Kyle Love (ankle), G Logan Mankins (knee), LB Ron Ninkovich (hip), LB Brandon Spikes (knee), T Sebastian Vollmer (flu, back, foot), WR Wes Welker (knee), LB Tracy White (abdomen)

Full participation: WR Deion Branch (knee), C Dan Connolly (groin), S James Ihedigbo (shoulder), T Matt Light (flu), WR Matthew Slater (shoulder)

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Posted on: February 1, 2012 4:51 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2012 5:36 pm
 

Irsay: Peyton decision 'isn't about the money'

Irsay says making a call on Peyton has nothing to do with the money. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Jim Irsay's handling the hosting duties this week and would prefer not to talk about Peyton Manning. But there's only so long he can go without being asked about No. 18 and in an effort to potentially pull the proverbial band-aid off, he did an interview with Rich Eisen Wednesday to address the Manning situation.

Irsay said that there's "so much uncertainty" involving Peyton's situation, but that his decision (which is not made yet, apparently) won't be "about the money" involved in Peyton's contract.

Manningville, Indiana

"There’s so much uncertainty in this thing," Irsay said on the NFL Network. “The thing that gets overlooked in situations like this, is that there’s never been an NFL quarterback that has had this type of injury. It’s never happened before. When our doctors talk to other doctors, even throughout the world, the reference points just aren’t there. This will be a case study, if it ever happens again, because it’s so rare that you have this situation."

[CBSSports.com's Full Super Bowl Coverage]

Depending on what Irsay decides to with Manning in 2012, that case study will almost certainly also involve criticism of his choice, barring Peyton simply never playing again. (And he's already said that's not happening.) $28 million committed to one player is a trainwreck. But, hey, it's not about the money.

"This isn’t about the money," Irsay said. "If it helps us win, I’ll pay it in a second. But when it comes to salary cap … we have real cap problems. You can’t make a decision that straps you for the next three seasons."

Except it is about the money. Not necessarily because Irsay could be classified as frugal (he's not) but because the money is simply an issue. If Peyton can't help the team win, then it's a waste of $28 million. It's a waste of salary cap space. It's a waste of valuable resources that could be used to help rebuild a once-dominant franchise.

Irsay said that himself, so he clearly understands the negative impact that bringing Manning back could have if he can't help the team win.

It's a bizarre situation to say the least. Manning's situation built all season long and now gets to crescendo in the middle of what is essentially his city.

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Posted on: February 1, 2012 4:15 pm
 

LeSean McCoy admits he didn't try at the Pro Bowl

By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- LeSean McCoy had a heck of a season in 2011, rushing for 1,309 yards and 17 touchdowns. It netted him the FedEx Ground Player of the Year on Wednesday at the Super Bowl. And it also landed him a trip to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl.

While there, McCoy was on the NFC team that Aaron Rodgers believes should be "embarrassed" by a lack of effort. Actually, he was "one of those guys" that didn't try, and said so himself on Wednesday.

"Yeah? I'm one of those guys," McCoy said when asked about Rodgers comments. "You walk around every practice and the guys before the games on other teams are like 'take your time' because we're going on a very slow pace, very easy.

"And you get out there and you see guys half-doing it and you do the same thing."

It's not like this should be too big a surprise: the quality of the game is directly related to the intensity of the effort when it comes to the Pro Bowl, and that's exactly why it was a sloppy boring game that drew criticism from everyone remotely involved in the process. (That the game still managed to pull big ratings should tell you exactly how popular the NFL is.)

With all the complaints from fans and the media -- and some players -- it wouldn't be surprising to find out that McCoy's comments didn't sit well with the league, even if he is just talking about an All-Star Game.

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Posted on: February 1, 2012 1:16 pm
 

Will NYG be NFL's most consistent team with win?

Follow all of CBSSports.com's Full Super Bowl Coverage (Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com)

By Ryan Wilson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin go back a long way. Both worked on Bill Parcells' staff with the Giants in the 1980s, and they remain two men who have great admiration for one another.

“I respect a lot of things about Tom – his evaluation of talent, the way he attacks teams, his consistency, his discipline, his team’s toughness, their resiliency," Belichick said.

Coughlin, several blocks away at the Giants' press conference, was just as complimentary. “He’s always been an exceptional defensive coach trained by the best, by Parcells," he said of Belichick. "He’s also become an outstanding offensive coach and Tom Brady has helped him to really diversify and get into areas offensively that only lead to the particular strengths of the individuals involved, and he’s done a very good job of that."

Now, two decades later, Belchick and Coughlin have four Super Bowl titles between them. Three of those Lombardi Trophies belong to New England but that happened during a four-year span from 2001-2004.

In the seven seasons since, the Patriots have made six playoff appearances, but returned to the Super Bowl just once, in 2007, where they lost to the Giants in one of the biggest upsets in NFL history. From 2001-2011, New England is 16-5 in the postseason, but since 2006, they're just 6-4. Relatively speaking, 6-4 is a fantastic accomplishment. It's just that we've gone from hailing the Patriots as the next great dynasty four years ago to now wondering if they're even the NFL's best team this century.

In fact, if the Giants win Super Bowl XLVI, you could make a case that they belong in that conversation.

New York hasn't had the Pats' sustained success since 2000, but they played in a Super Bowl following the '00 season (a loss to the Ravens), and since Coughlin was hired in 2004, they've been to the playoffs in five of eight seasons. They're 7-3 over that time with three of those wins coming last month.

Since '07, Coughlin's winning percentage with the Giants is impressive (49-31, 0.613), though less so when compared to Belichick (64-16, 0.800). But regular-season accomplishments mean little if they don't culminate in a championship. No one talks about New England's almost perfect 2007 season except to point out that the Giants beat a thought-to-be unstoppable offense and longer odds to earn the Lombardi Trophy.

Yet no one mentions the Giants in the same breath as the Patriots (and to lesser extents, the Steelers, Saints, Packers and before this season, the Colts) and that includes some Giants players.

"Honestly, for us, that ’07 (Super Bowl) was kind of like us coming together as a football team," defensive end Justin Tuck said this week. "We just said we wanted to kill a dynasty, and that’s what they were. But now, we’ve been here before and we felt as though all that is secondary. We just want to come in here and have our mind focused on playing a great football game, and not really getting caught up in all the hoopla around the game.”

That's exactly what Super Bowl week is -- hoopla around a game -- but the absurdities of Media Day shouldn't obscure what the Giants will have accomplished if they win. Coughlin remains unimpressed, at least for now.

"That’s the furthest thing from my mind is how this enhances my legacy," Coughlin said Tuesday. "That’s nowhere near anything that I am thinking about right now. What I’m concerned with is the concentration of our players, putting ourselves in the best frame of mind that we can possibly be, preparing our team to the best of our ability, and then playing exceptionally well, as best as we possibly can.”

Fair enough, but by Sunday night we could be talking about Coughlin -- who annually (and inexplicably) finds himself on the hot seat -- as the man responsible for bringing the Giants two Super Bowls in five years. Just like Parcells.

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Posted on: February 1, 2012 1:15 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2012 3:02 pm
 

NFL fines Umenyiora for missing media session

Umenyiora was at Tuesday's Media Day (above) but missed Wednesday's session. (Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com)

By Josh Katzowitz

INDIANAPOLIS – During Wednesday morning’s required media session, Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora failed to show, and the league has fined him $20,000 as a result.

While most of the Giants had assigned tables in the downtown Marriott’s ballroom adjacent to where coach Tom Coughlin held his Wednesday news conference, a few like Victor Cruz, Eli Manning, Ahmad Bradshaw and Umenyiora had podiums in rooms across the hall for the media availability start time of 10:30 a.m. ET.

[Follow all of CBSSports.com's Full Super Bowl Coverage]

All podiums and tables were filled by the players except for Umenyiora.

According to a team spokesman, via the Newark Star-Ledger, Umenyiora attended a 12:15 p.m. team meeting.

According to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, all other Giants and Patriots players and coaches were available during media sessions today.

UPDATE 3:02 p.m. ET: Here's the statement Umenyiora has released: “I misunderstood the schedule. It won’t happen again, and I will be at tomorrow’s media session and available after the game. I apologize for any inconvenience my absence this morning may have caused.”

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Posted on: February 1, 2012 10:21 am
Edited on: February 1, 2012 4:06 pm
 

Giants defensive mindset comes from the top down

Pierre-Paul points the way for the New York defense. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Everyone wants you to believe that Super Bowl XVLI is similar to the Giants-Patriots matchup from 2007. It makes sense -- the ferocious pass rush Tom Coughlin's squad brings to the table is so similar to the dominant 2007 defense. That's not some hapless circumstance though: it's a result of a carefully-crafted personnel plan that starts from the top up and permeates the entire organization.

Ask anyone on the Giants roster or coaching staff about what kind of attitude defines that defense, a unit that hasn't given up more than 20 points since Week 15, and you can tell there's a universal feeling within that group about the way they play. Right now that feeling could be described as "confidence." Or something ... else.

“Right now we have a badass mentality," safety Antrel Rolle said Tuesday. "That’s the way we like to look at it, that’s the way we want to keep it, and we’re very confident in our approach. But most of all, I think we’re very smart in our approach, meaning that everyone is on the same page at the same time and we have a clear understanding of what every guy is doing, not only yourself. So, you know, we’re a very intellectual team, and we take pride in that.

"But, at the same time, when the bell goes off on Sunday, we’re in attack mode. That’s the way we look at it."

The Giants struggled badly throughout much of the year on the defensive side of the ball (the Seahawks hung 36 on them in New York and they lost to the Redskins twice; that's all you need to know). Rolle acknowledged as much. But they shut out the Falcons offense in the divisional round and put the brakes on the previously white-hot Packers before handling the 49ers, reminding everyone of the 2007 unit that generated so much pressure from their front four.

But since 2007, the organization's seen a few important changes Perry Fewell replaced Steve Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator. Jerry Reese moved into Ernie Accorsi's spot as general manager. The organization's managed to not change though, primarily in the way they seek out and identify defensive players with a similar mindset.

"I think Jerry Reese and Mark Ross in our scouting department do a great job of identifying Giant defensive-minded football players," Fewell said. "And that came long before I came here. They've always had a good talent for doing that. The one thing that I can really talk about is pride, and 'Giant Pride.' When you step into the Giant defensive meeting room -- they make you write an essay about what it's like to be a New York Giant. And why do you want to be a New York Giant defensive football player."

Really?

"Yeah, that was not something I was accustomed to doing," Fewell said. "When I heard that they make the rookies do that, I thought it was really unique and different. So there's a lot of pride that goes along with being a New York Giant and being a defensive football player and I think that's permeated throughout the years with the Strahans and the Lawrence Taylors. It goes back more years than I've been there."

Think about that: you get your first job as a professional in your chosen vocation and when you get to work, you have to write an essay about why you want the job you've been chosen to do. It's insanity. But it's also a testament to the way the Giants build their defense.

So is the work the Giants do in the later rounds. There's no Victor Cruz (a shocking breakout as an undrafted free agent) on the defense. But there are a slew of slam dunks from the last 10 years of Giants drafts, whose talent allows the Giants to get hot at the right time.

"Our scouts are really the unsung heroes of this whole process. They are the lifeline," Reese said. "They go out for 185-200 days a year on the road, scouting. They unearth these players and bring them to our attention. We have a chance to look at these guys too. It’s all about us. The winning is about us as an organization. Our scouts and our players do a tremendous job. Our coaches do a tremendous job. I’m just happy for the organization as a whole."

Reese should be. Since 2003, the Giants have used their first pick in the NFL Draft on defense every single year, save twice: in 2004 when they took Philip Rivers (and swapped him for Eli Manning) and 2008, when they took Hakeem Nicks. Both those moves worked out OK, but it's the defensive selections that really stand out.

Mathias Kiwanuka, Aaron Ross, Jason Pierre-Paul and Prince Amukamara are all first-rounders taken by the Giants who either start or see tons of playing time. Corey Webster, a second-round pick, was the Giants first selection in 2005. Osi Umenyiora was a second-round pick in 2003, and Justin Tuck was a third-round pick in 2005.

What is it, exactly, though that the Giants look for when pursuing these guys?

"Ability," Tom Coughlin said. "The way in which we define the positions and evaluate the players according to the positions that they play. I'm not going to go into detail on how they're evaluated, but we stick strictly to our philosophy, our grading system and being as objective as we possibly can."

Coughlin's answer might sound like coachspeak. (Technically, it is.) But his point about "ability" actually points more to the Giants heavy desire to draft pass-rushers on a frequent basis. Accorsi did it when he ran the team, and Reese does it as well. Having four guys on the line who can generate pressure and turn up the heat on opposiing quarterbacks without having to send additional blitzers is precisely what makes the Giants defense so terrifying.

And Coughlin, like everyone else with the Giants, had a look of pride on his face when asked what differentiates the Giants defense and its specific players from other teams.

Don't expect him to call the the unit "badass." But he clearly feels the same way as Rolle. And it's a sentiment that's shared from top to bottom in an organization, and the reason why this unit's capable of looking like an elite defense.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com