1) Fran Tarkenton picks the Giants today. His blog is now sharing some color and prognostications on a few selected games in college and the pros. We will keep listening to him to see how he does. (I only went backwards to see what he said about the Jets-Saints matchup and he NAILED it.) Obviously his football insight as a Hall of Fame QB are valued. We'll start tracking his comments (assuming he even does this on a semi-regular basis, which we'll see about since it is new feature that has not been there every week this season) and see how he does.
#10's Giants Saints game view: "I think the New York Giants right now are playing the best football in the NFL. They are physically better than any team I have seen. Eli Manning is also coming of age. He is getting better every year and every week. New Orleans represents a challenge. Because Drew Brees is having another back to back career year. This young man is playing as good as anybody at that position. And they are playing better defense. They just tore up the New York Jets last week with Greg Williams' aggressive blitz defense. However, I think the Giants will figure out how to block it. The Giants will play better defense than the New Orleans. Giants win. Good game though."
Tarkenton on Eli Manning (further down on his blog): "You’ve got Eli who’s now, I think, coming to the top rung of pro quarterbacks. He is now matured. He is a great great player. And he compares with the great ones playing today and he’ll probably go after Peyton’s records too."
2) TARKENTON ON BLITZING THE QB. This Hall of Fame QB knows enough football. Here is an excerpt, but do yourself a favor and read the entire post: "I played the game for 18 years. Set all the passing records. If you didn’t rush me, if you didn’t put pressure on me, I’d kill you. But when they did and they knocked me down and rushed me I became very ordinary. Why don’t defensive coordinators understand this?" After you are done reading that, reread Wonder's gamplan for Brees. You simply cannot let Brees have the time back there. He'll kill you. And just as a reminder, this does not imply that Brees is going to not beat you if you blitz. Just a reminder, it is a calculated risk that by the end of the game, blitzing Brees often will yield less points than not blitzing often.
3) Mitch shared a link to a very good story about Corey Webster and Brandon Jacobs, friends since childhood.
4) Paul inquired about the Browns' (and Mangini's) chances for turning around the franchise. Wonder was typically ambiguous and non-committal in his reply: "Their only chance is for Shaun Rogers to sit on Big Ben and hope he doesn't get up.... despite their win, they are frighteningly bad and if they played the Rams or the Raiders ina "3-way" match it is possible NO ONE would win. Mangini has destroyed that franchise, and it will take at least 3 years of perfect drafting etc.. for them to even have a chance to compete."
5) Sheridan has not blitzed very much this year. Interesting to hear how the Saints see the Giants.
6) Garafolo previewof today's game. He mentions how Jacobs gets more 8 man boxes than Bradshaw. TIME FOR PLAY ACTION. The problem this afternoon is that with that loud noise in the stadium it will be hard for Eli to audible out of the run. Garafolo also comments about CC Brown.. playing deep, it allows the Safety to keep the game in front of him, which makes him make fewer mistakes. Problem is that you lose a player for many plays. And when Garafolo notes how the Safety then becomes at risk for getting sucked down low into the underneath pattern by the TE, it leaves him vulnerable over the top again. Where did we hear this before? Yes, Ian's color here on Friday morning.
7) Motown with the great comment that the Saints defense has NOT gotten an OFFENSE AS GOOD AS THE GIANTS YET. A ray of optimism?!
8) If this game is close at halftime, it favors the Giants, the road warriors who know that they just have to take that first andrenalin punch and then stay standing.
9) Hixon back on special teams. Kickoffs? If Hixon is not only going to return punts but also return KICKOFFS, this is HUGE. Go back to the end of July, folks, that is one of the 5 items we noted needed to be addressed.
10) Time to remind you again what we said yesterday: the medical news that Chris Canty is 'over the hump' is extremely important for this team's championship aspirations. We won't feel the difference he makes for ~3 weeks after he is playing, so it may not be until December that Canty is contributing in a significant and meaningful way. But that is just in time for the stretch run and playoffs, when it all matters. Last year the DL was running on fumes at that time. This year it can run on Super.