Tag:Ryan Wilson
Posted on: February 2, 2012 12:11 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2012 12:13 pm
 

Former Jet Ihedigbo only looking ahead to Giants

                                        (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

INDIANAPOLIS -- James Ihedigbo spent his first three NFL seasons with the Jets playing for Rex Ryan and trying to beat the Patriots' brains in. Now with New England and about to play in his first Super Bowl, the fourth-year safety isn't interested in talking about the past.

"I've refrained from talking about the Jets because that's not what this games about," Ihedigbo told CBSSports.com. "This game's about us, the hard work we've put in to get to this point."

While many of the storylines have been about the state of Rob Gronkowski's ankle and how Tom Brady will deal with the Giants' pass rush, the Patriots' defense has their own issues. Chief among them: stopping Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, as well as a revitalized New York running game.

"The Giants are a very explosive team," he said. "Nicks and (Ahmad) Bradshaw didn't play the last time we saw them and that adds more explosiveness to their offense. You look at how well (Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs) have run the ball in the playoffs and it's been very effective for them. They may not have run the ball well in the regular season but in the playoffs they really stepped that up so our ability to stop the run is going to be key in this game."

For some perspective, the Giants ranked 20th in rushing efficiency during the regular season, according to Football Outsiders. Against the Falcons in the wild-card game, New York rushed for 172 yards, but just 95 against the Packers the following week, and 85 against the 49ers in the conference championship game.

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Clearly not the same running attack the Giants brought with them to Super Bowl XLII (they ranked fourth in the league in rushing efficiency that season), but Jacobs thinks he and Bradshaw will be an important part of any success the offense has this Sunday.

“We can keep them off balance. I think we’re good enough for any team… to prove that we can go out there and make a difference in this football game," he said. "Everyone’s been talking about tight-ends, wide receivers, quarterbacks and so on and so forth and it’s kind of good for the first time being a part of the New York Giants football team that the running backs are being talked about. We as running backs are going to embrace that, because it never has happened. We’re going to try to take it and stay under the lights for a little bit and be on top of the lights on Sunday.”

The Patriots defense has been maligned for much of the year but that unit has played better of late, too. As the unofficial leader of the secondary, Ihedigbo knows that the previous 20 weeks don't matter. Just the next three days. 

“I definitely have taken on a leadership role," he said Thursday. "I’ve played in a lot of big games in my young career in the NFL and those guys understand that. We all understand what it takes to win and what’s asked of each other. The bar is set high for all of us, because the way we play determines whether we win or lose. We play well, we win. If we don’t play well, it’s not going to be a good game.”


New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin spoke with the media on Thursday about the importance of building on their victory in 2007 and staying focused for the upcoming game against the Patriots.

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Posted on: February 2, 2012 10:13 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 10:14 am
 

Brady has history of poor play before facing NYG

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By Ryan Wilson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Shortly after the Patriots beat the Ravens in the AFC Championship game, Tom Brady was asked about his very un-Tom Brady-like effort: 22 of 36 for 239 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.

"Well I sucked pretty bad today but our defense saved us," was Brady's initial reaction. He expanded on those thoughts in the postgame press conference.

"As a quarterback, you never want to turn the ball over. …I wish I would've done a better job with that today. In some ways you always beat yourself up. I've been doing this for quite awhile. I'm glad we won, I'm glad we're moving on and hopefully I can go out there and do better in a few weeks."

Brady also made a promise to owner Robert Kraft that night: "I promise you I'm going to play a lot better in two weeks."

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It's an odd thing to hear from Brady because he's been so good for so long. As observers, we've almost come to expect every performance to be masterful, every decision to be clinical. When it doesn't happen, the cognitive dissonance is too much, even for Brady, the man largely responsible for the Patriots' three Super Bowl titles since 2001.

Which is why no one is concerned that Brady won't play like, well, Brady when the Patriots and Giants meet in Super Bowl XLVI in three days. But here's the thing: the Giants have said all week that the key to getting Brady off his game is to hit him. A lot. That game plan, coupled with David Tyree's head certainly helped New York to a Lombardi Trophy four years ago. Brady entered that game as the quarterback of an 18-0 team and fresh off a regular season that included 4,806 yards, 68.9 completion percentage, 50 touchdowns, eight interceptions and a 117.2 passer rating.

In the Super Bowl, the Giants held him to 29 of 48 for 266 and one touchdown. He was also sacked five times after going down just 21 times in the regular season.

We're all aware of the damage New York's front four can inflict on a passing offense, even one with Brady at the center. But here's something else to consider: in terms of passer rating (57.5), Brady has his worst game of the season against the Ravens two weeks ago. In previous weeks he had completed fewer passes for fewer yards with more interceptions, but never in the same game.

The good news: every time Brady's passer rating has dipped below 90 this season, he's hit triple-digits the following week.

The bad news: Brady was coming off a similarly poor performance heading into Super Bowl XLII, the last time the Patriots and Giants met.

In that year's AFC Championship game, New England hosted San Diego and won despite an underwhelming showing from Brady who finished the afternoon completing 22 of 33 for 209 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions. His passer rating: 66.4, his second-lowest of the season (he bottomed out at 51.5 against the Jets in Week 15) and well below his 117.2 average.

After beating the Chargers Brady said "Now we're going someplace warm, because I'm freezing my you-know-what off."

Turns out, the weather didn't matter two weeks later in Arizona. Partly because of the Giants' stifling pass rush but also because Brady didn't look anything like the Hall of Fame quarterback we reflexively expect to put up 400 yards and toss four touchdowns every time he takes the field. And just like four years ago, Brady is coming of a forgettable game, and just like four years ago, he now has to face the Giants in the Super Bowl.

But maybe this is just coincidence. Then again, Brady didn't play particularly well against the Steelers this season, their opponent just before losing the Giants in Week 9. 

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Posted on: February 1, 2012 1:16 pm
 

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

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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 10:07 am
Edited on: February 1, 2012 5:54 pm
 

Gronkowski misses Patriots practice Wednesday

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By Ryan Wilson

Update (5:50 p.m. ET): On Wednesday morning Belichick talked about what Gronkowski might be able to do in practice later in the day. We now know that answer: nothing. The Patriots sent out a practice report around 5:45 on Wednesday afternoon and Gronkowski was listed as did not participate.

Gronkowski now has two more chances to get on the field and see how his ankle responds in practice. If he can't even do that, it's going to make for a tough decision as to whether or not he can even contribute on Sunday during the Super Bowl.
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INDIANAPOLIS -- It's hump day at Super Bowl week and head coach Bill Belichick continues to be in a good mood. In fact, his demeanor has been a storyline since the Patriots arrived. During Tuesday's Media Day session, wide receiver Wes Welker attributed it to the "lady in [Belichick's] life."

Whatever the reason, New England's head coach seems at ease four days out from the final game of the 2011 season.

During his Wednesday morning press conference, Belichick spoke on tight Rob Gronkowski, who continues to recover from a high-ankle sprain he suffered during the AFC Championship game. ("Rob's getting better … we're taking it day to day. … We'll see what he can do today [at practice] and go from there.") 

Belichick was also asked about the Giants' front four, a group that terrorized Brady earlier this year and did the same when New York upset New England in Super Bowl XLII.

"Those inside guys can really knock the line of scrimmage back," he said. "Their ends are a good combo of size and speed (and) I don't know if anybody can play like the Giants play -- they're so good."

Brady knows this too. Some Giants players have said that Brady can be rattled, and he might be more cognizant of pressure -- and it could affect the way he plays -- after having reconstructive knee surgery early in the 2008 season.

"It wouldn't be the Super Bowl if they (the Giants defense) weren't trying to knock me down or knock me out … but our offensive line gets paid too," Brady said. "We're going to try to eliminate (bad throws) … we had too many of those last time (against the Ravens). We're not going to be able to win the game playing like that."

****

Other notes from Wednesday's press conference…

-- Brady was asked about Chad Ochocinco, who was acquired just before training camp to give the Patriots a deep threat. Instead, he had just 15 catches and one touchdown in the regular season. He played a single snap against the Broncos in the Divisional playoff game and was inactive a week later against the Ravens in the conference championship. (Ochocinco missed practice time leading up to that game to attend his father's funeral.)

"Chad has worked hard everyday … and I've really loved having Chad on this team," Brady said. "He still has that childlike quality in terms of his enthusiasm for the game." And while Ochocinco's season hasn't gone well, Brady said that the former Pro Bowl wideout is still "willing to do whatever it takes to win."

-- Belichick was also asked about Julian Edelman, the college quarterback and former seventh-round pick who now plays just about every position but quarterback in New England.

"We saw Edelman as a good athlete at Kent State," Belichick said … "We didn't really think he was a quarterback but tough, quick, good with the ball in his hands with a desire to improve. … It's been a big transition for him (as both a returner and a slot receiver) … and we got in some injury situations and his skills as a slot receiver transferred into what we ask of our slot corners."

Belichick called Edelman "a smart guy" who's taken "a lot of plays in practice on both sides of the ball."

-- Brady may have said he "sucked" following the Ravens game but Belichick sounded unconcerned Wednesday. "I think Tom does a good job in his preparation every week. … He's one of our hardest workers. I meet with Tom at the beginning of the week and he's always seen as much (game film) or more than i have."

-- Belichick saved his best for last. He was asked about comments by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who said he was embarrassed by the NFC's effort in last weekend's Pro Bowl (the AFC won, 59-41).

"What I'm going to say probably shouldn't be what I should say to that question so I'm going to let it go," Belichick said as he fought back a smile. "What it was and what it is now … it's a lot different," he added before leaving the podium.

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Posted on: January 31, 2012 9:00 pm
 

EoF on the scene: Super Bowl XLVI, Media Day

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By Ryan Wilson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Tuesday was Media Day. And while it was more subdued than in previous years, there was still plenty to see. (Click photos to enlarge.)

“Have I changed? Probably, but I think it’s important as the process of learning. You learn, develop, and change every year." - Tom Coughlin (Photo credit: Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com) "I’m not in to making predictions. It’s not my job to list quarterbacks. [Brady's] obviously a future Hall of Famer. He’s had a tremendous career. It’s his fifth Super Bowl, so that’s amazing. This is a team game. Win or lose, based on how the team plays. Hopefully the Giants can be the better team on Sunday.” - Eli Manning (Photo credit: Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com)
Patriots wide receiver Tiquan Underwood is obviously a huge Kid 'n Play fan. HUGE.  (Photo credit: Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com) Ross Ventrone interviews Peter King. (Photo credit: Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com)
“Yeah, there is a lot of [talking] going back and forth (between the two teams), but that’s just football. We are all competitive guys that just want to win. We all think we are better than one another. That’s just what it leads to.” - Brandon Jacobs (Photo credit: Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com) “[Media Day] is just a lot of hoopla. We are just ready to play football and go out there and have fun. Just staying focused this week is the main key.” - Ahmad Bradshaw (Photo credit: Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com)
“We practice as if Gronkowski is going to play. If he doesn’t play, then you just go to a different gameplan, but It’s all on Coach Perry (Fewell), how Coach Perry wants to play it out. He will put us in the best position to win the football game.” - Jason Pierre-Paul (Photo credit: Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com) “Playing football again was that goal, and that really pushed me. After six hours of chemotherapy, you’re sitting there and your body just feels drained. You don’t want to move, but I said, ‘I am going to be playing football again in eight months, so I need to go and workout." - Mark Herzlich (Photo credit: Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com)
"I think [Belichick's] enjoying himself.  I think he’s got a lady in his life, so that could definitely be the case; I don’t know.  We’re just coming here to try and win a ballgame.  However we do that or whatever demeanor we have to take, that’s what it’s going to be.” - Wes Welker (Photo credit: Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com) “Draft day was definitely frustrating. At first, I wasn’t buying into the mock draft boards. But I’m glad I came to this team and I love the New York Giants organization and what they stand for. It’s been working out well so far.” - Prince Amukamara (Photo credit: Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com)
CBS golf analyst David Feherty made an appearance at Media Day. (Photo credit: Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com) This is Artie Lange, comedian and formerly of the Howard Stern Show.  (Photo credit: Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com)

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Posted on: January 31, 2012 5:13 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 5:16 pm
 

Keisel 'grateful' Butler returning to Steelers

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By Ryan Wilson

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Colts hired Chuck Pagano as head coach last week and Pagano, who spent the 2011 season as the Ravens defensive coordinator, promptly began filling out his staff. He added the recently "retired" Bruce Arians as offensive coordinator, and it appeared that Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler would be his defensive coordinator only to announce a day later that he was staying in Pittsburgh.

On Tuesday, we asked Steelers defensive Brett Keisel about what Butler means to the organization.

"He's a legendary coach," Keisel told CBSSports.com before stopping himself. "Well, he might not be legendary -- he's a great coach … someone who really takes care of the linebackers. Not a lot of people could control James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley but he finds a way to get those guys coached up and I'm very grateful he's coming back."

Keisel was laughing when he called Butler great but not legendary (he's in Indy pimping Head & Shoulders' "Be Legendary" campaign so he's used the word a lot this week), but it's clear that Butler, who joined the Steelers in 2003, is an integral part of the defense's success.

"I was devastated yesterday when I heard (that he might be headed to Indianapolis)," Keisel said. "I was surprised that the Steelers were going to let him go (to the Colts). I knew that when Arizona wanted him to come down last year, (Pittsburgh) didn't even let him take the interview. But everything worked out, he's staying with us, and I'm very happy about it."

Conventional wisdom is that Butler will succeed defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau who, at 74, says he has no intentions of retiring anytime soon. Either way, it's good news for the Steelers, who let Arians walk earlier this month and are still in the market for his replacement.

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Posted on: January 31, 2012 3:43 pm
 

Denver GM: Tebow needs to improve on 'everything'

Tebow will spend the next six months working on, well, everything. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Tim Tebow was the story heading into training camp last summer, he was the story for 20 weeks during the season, and he'll continue to be the story this offseason. On Monday, John Elway, the Broncos executive vice president of football operations, said the team "will be in the market to find more quarterbacks" in the coming months.

This wasn't so much an indictment of Tebow's 2011 season, more the realization that the Broncos need to add depth at the position. Kyle Orton was jettisoned during the season and Brady Quinn is set to be a free agent in a few weeks. While Tebow still remains atop Denver's depth chart heading into training camp, he has plenty to improve on. And when we say plenty, we really mean everything. Broncos general manager Brian Xanders provided specifics.

"It's the precision on the passing, it's the accuracy, the footwork, the mechanics, the rhythm, the timing, the quickness, the release. Everything," Xanders told the Denver Post's Mark Kiszla. "And he wants to work at it. And he's dedicated. He's going to work really hard at improving those things. Our coaches, Mike McCoy and Adam Gase, and hopefully even John Elway are going to help him improve throughout the offseason. And he knows he has a lot of work to do. We're excited about him improving in those areas."

And that improvement, ultimately, will decide Tebow's fate. This isn't a revelation, but it does explain why Elway would only commit to him as the starter "heading into training camp." As Kizla writes, however, there's another reason to make Tebow compete for the starting job: he plays better when he's challenged.

But raw athleticism will only get him so far. For Tebow to have sustained success he'll have to -- wait for it -- become a much better passer. Or, in Xanders' words, improve on everything.

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Posted on: January 30, 2012 8:19 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 8:30 pm
 

EoF on the scene: Super Bowl XLVI, Day 1

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By Ryan Wilson

INDIANAPOLIS -- It's officially Super Bowl Week, which means that the Patriots and Giants met with the media for the first of many press conferences Monday. (Click on the photos to open in a new window.)



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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