Tag:Antrel rolle
Posted on: February 7, 2012 8:00 pm
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Antrel Rolle on Patriots: 'It wasn't their time'

New York's secondary blew a coverage on what turned out to be the turning point in the game. (NFL.com)

By Ryan Wilson

In the hours and days since the Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, the prevailing storyline has been about wide receiver Wes Welker and the drop. Except that the play in question -- a fourth-down pass with 4:06 left in the game and the Pats leading 17-15 -- wasn't so much a drop as a poor throw from Tom Brady. We said as much at the time although those sentiments weren't universally shared. (And never mind NBC's Cris Collinsworth announcing that Welker makes that grab "100 times out of a 100." Uh, no he doesn't.)

On Monday, Giants safety Antrel Rolle appeared on 1090 Sports Radio in San Diego to talk about the Brady-to-Welker misfire that set up New York's game-winning drive.

“Well actually there was a communication error on that play," Rolle said via SportsRadioInterviews.com. "That was guys playing two different coverages and we tried to relay the right coverage down, but once you’re locked in…you are locked in. We tried to relay the coverage a little too late. Some guys were playing one coverage while others were playing another, but through it all things like that happen. Things like that tend to get away from you in the game and we just thank god that Wes didn’t make that catch."

Rolle's right. Looking at the replay, before the snap, safeties Deon Grant (No. 34) and Kenny Phillips (21) appear to be relaying coverage information to cornerback Corey Webster (21) and Rolle (26). As Rolle noted Monday, there was some confusion.

Not everybody in the Giants' secondary was playing the same coverage on the play.  (NFL.com)

Welker, in the slot, comes off the line of scrimmage untouched and when Rolle slows up while Welker continues running down the seam, it creates a huge window (see the image at the top of this post). One that on any other day, Brady stripes, hits Welker in stride, with a touchdown the likely result. Just not Sunday night. (After the ball falls to the turf, Phillips turns immediately to Rolle and they talk about the coverage responsibilities on the play.)

"It wasn’t their time," Rolle said. "It wasn’t their time. Everyone has a fair…has a time where…they needed their time. [Sunday] just wasn’t New England’s time. They’re an outstanding football team. One of the best football teams I have ever played against and I don’t like going up against them too much because I know what they bring to the table. With that being said we got to go out there and do what we need to do as a team. Go out there and be the best we can be.”

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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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Posted on: January 31, 2012 5:11 pm
 

Rolle speaks his mind, whether you like it or not

Rolle

By Josh Katzowitz

INDIANAPOLIS – A month ago, Giants safety Antrel Rolle ripped some of his teammates for not playing through injuries. Two weeks ago, Rolle declared that his team “couldn’t be beat” before New York faced San Francisco. Somewhere in between, his mother gave him some advice.

Now, just to be clear, Rolle and his mom, Armelia Rolle, talk multiple times a day. Sometimes, as much as three or four times in a 24-hour span, and nobody -- not his coaches, his teammates or his conscience -- is going to be as truthful with him as she. They talk about life, about religion and about football.

So, when she gave him the advice to tone down his rhetoric and think about what he was going to say before the words left his mouth, he listened carefully.

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“As a mother, your first concern is what you read,” Rolle said. “She reads a lot, and she’s all about football. It definitely concerned her when she read things like, ‘Antrel needs to shut up’ or ‘He’s a distraction to the team.’ She knows I’m not that kind of guy, so for her to hear that as a mother, naturally it’s going to draw some concerns. It did for me as well. But I can’t pay attention to that.”

But then, like a preacher reading the summit of his sermon, Rolle’s voice began to rise during his time at Tuesday’s Media Day.

“I can hear it and I can feel it and it does bother me. But my only concern is for the betterment of this team. You ask guys in our locker room, and they say, ‘Antrel doesn’t say much.’ Nothing I ever say is premeditated, but what I say is what I feel deep. Whether it should be displayed to the media or not, I can’t say that. But I don’t take any of it back. I don’t have any regrets.”

Nor should he. The Giants have won five of their last six, and their defense has improved throughout the season. Toward the end of the year, when the Giants fell to 7-7 after yet another loss to the Redskins, Rolle said the injured players needed to stop babying themselves and get back into the game. Considering he'd also questioned Justin Tuck last season, Rolle's mouth was setting a disturbing trend.

But Rolle also isn’t seen by his teammates as a loudmouth locker room force. He isn’t known as a cancer. He’s just a guy who’s ultra-confident. He’s a guy who, in his mind, speaks the truth when it needs to be spoken.

“That’s the sad part people don’t know,” safety Deon Grant said. “They judge that book by that cover. He’s the total opposite. He’s not the kind of guy off the field who’s a loudmouth and getting in trouble. He’s a very respectable guy, a very kind-hearted guy. He makes all the people  who come into contact with, he takes care of them in his presence.”

And for better or for worse, Rolle isn’t going to change.

“I don’t think I can change,” he said. “I don’t know if I even want to change. I can only be smarter about how I may come off. But never, ever I have spoken out of anger. I just say what I feel.”

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Posted on: January 30, 2012 8:33 pm
 

Giants think Brady's parade 'story' is ridiculous

The Giants players are sick of the pep rally storyline too. (Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- At the Patriots pep rally in New England, Tom Brady said that "hopefully" the Pats will be able to have a bigger party in two weeks. Brady meant that he hopes the Pats win the Super Bowl. But the New York media, bless them all, took that line and absolutely ran with it, calling it "Tom's Taunt."

"It was a pep rally," Brady deadpanned Sunday night when asked about the comment.

But that didn't stop a swarm of media members from spending a good deal of time asking Giants players if Brady's comments made them angry. As it turns out, the Giants are more annoyed by people making a story out of Brady's comments than they are by Brady's actual comments.

"Man, it was a pep rally," Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said Tuesday. "What was he supposed to say? I don’t think it’s Tom doing anything but getting fans riled up."

Tuck was also asked several times about the pep rally and clearly didn't want to discuss it. Linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka literally laughed at the idea of Brady trying to run his mouth.

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"I read his exact words and the way he phrased it" Kiwanuka said. "You get to this level, you get to this game because you're confident in yourself and I wouldn't expect anything else. Now if someone wants to come out and throw some legitimate trash talk we can talk about that. But you guys just need something to do for the week I guess."

Even Antrel Rolle, who loudly proclaimed just how loudly he likes to proclaim things, wouldn't take the bait and felt like Brady's comments were being blown out of proportion.

"It doesn’t matter at all," Rolle said of Brady's comments. "The game [still] has to be played on Sunday. And the only thing that is going to determine the outcome of the game are the players in the game, who’s going to take the field and who’s going to be on either side. No talk, no media, no speculation, no parties, none of that stuff is really relevant at this point."

The only thing -- at this point -- that makes Brady's comments fascinating is the New York media's refusal to let them go. But having been on the ground in Indy for just over 24 hours, it's highly likely that'll stop being amusing pretty quickly.

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Posted on: January 29, 2012 12:54 am
 

Super Bowl XLVI Preview: Patriots O vs. Giants D

Breaking news: Brady is key to the Pats winning. (Getty Images)
Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

It’s this side of the matchup that makes Super Bowl XLVI so compelling. New England’s juggernaut offense against the league’s best four-man pass-rush. Here’s the breakdown.



1. Relevance of rematch factor
What happened in Super Bowl XLII has virtually no bearing on this game. Yes, that game was decided by New York’s front four getting pressure on Tom Brady. And yes, front-four pressure will play a huge role in this Sunday’s game. But the pressure in Super Bowl XLII was schematically generated by the Giants’ inside blitzes (both feigned and real).

This approach compelled the Patriots’ help-blockers to work inside, leaving one-on-one matchups for defensive ends Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora outside. This was a brilliant strategy by Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo because it punished Brady for taking seven-step drops. Those seven-step drops were obligatory in an ’07 Patriots offense that was built around the vertical prowess of Randy Moss.

But as mentioned, that gameplan is now irrelevant, as the ’11 Patriots are built around the horizontal prowess of Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker. What IS relevant is the gameplan the Giants had in Week 9 when they went into Foxboro and forced four turnovers en route to a rare Patriots home loss.

New York’s Week 9 gameplan centered around physical coverage behind a four-man pass-rush. No surprise – that’s how the Giants are built to play. What’s important is to understand HOW the Giants executed this gameplan.

Considering New York’s personnel is basically the same now as it was in Week 9 (only better), there’s no reason to think they won’t go with the same approach again. Let’s dissect that approach.

2. The four-man rush
One thing that sets the Giant’s four-man rush apart – besides an insane collection of talent – is its mismatch-creating versatility. The Giants have used 27 different front four alignments this postseason.

Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul can both slide inside and work against overmatched guards (and every NFL guard, even Pro Bowlers like Logan Mankins and Brian Waters, is overmatched against athletes like JPP and Tuck). They can align linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka anywhere up front. They have a beastly all-around force in Chris Canty (and for what it’s worth, a solid duo of rotating run-stoppers next to him in Rocky Bernard and the underrated Linval Joseph).

Most quality four-man pass-rushes have guys who are either speedy or powerful; Pierre-Paul, Tuck, Kiwanuka and, by defensive tackle standards, Canty, are all speedy AND powerful. This is what creates their versatility, and it’s also what allows the Giants front four to tee-off rushing the passer without becoming vulnerable to the run.

Expect the Giants to jumble their front four looks as much as possible. They also might walk linebackers up to the line of scrimmage just to give Brady and his linemen something to think about. As we talked about last week, the key to beating Brady is to not just get pressure on him, but to make him consciously worry about his protection.

3. New England’s response to New York’s D-line
The Patriots, like 30 other NFL teams, will have their hands full with many of the individual front line matchups against New York. For an elite left guard, Logan Mankins can be surprisingly iffy in protection sometimes. Left tackle Matt Light often rises to the occasion against top-shelf speed-rushers, but it’s a lot to ask of the 33-year-old to block Osi Umenyiora on an island. On the right side, tackle Nate Solder struggled in pass protection last week against Baltimore.

In Week 9, the Patriots were obviously concerned about one-on-one situations in the trenches. They used six or seven offensive linemen on 20 snaps. In the first half, they often kept Gronkowski and, at times even de facto wide receiver Hernandez, in to pass-block. Don’t expect them to do that as much this time around.

New England’s offense has become even more spread-oriented, which means more pass-rush nullifying three-and five-step drop passes. Because of the skill players’ versatility, the hurry-up has become the Patriots’ main offensive attack. Expect them to use frequent hurry up in order to prevent the Giants from rotating defensive linemen.

The Patriots will likely go with their two-receivers, two-tight ends, one-back personnel, and they’ll have different groups of plays already packaged for whatever personnel the Giants defense responds with. A hurry-up will keep the same defensive personnel on the field for an entire series, forcing the 270-plus-pound D-linemen to play snap after snap after snap without rest. The hope is this wears the defense down late in the series and late in the game.

It’s vital that the Patriots win the battle on first and second down. Doing so makes the hurry-up offense more vibrant and, obviously, mitigates the substantial pass-rushing advantage that New York has on third-and-long. Winning on first and second down is hard to do consistently without running the ball at least a little. This is why New England will likely go with the 12 personnel (one back, two tight ends) as opposed to their new 02 personnel package (zero backs, two tight ends, three wide receivers).

Then again, Hernandez has been a surprisingly adroit ballcarrier ... perhaps a no-running back grouping is indeed viable. Or given that they’ve had an extra week to prepare, perhaps the Patriots will debut an all new offensive wrinkle (like they did after their last bye, with the Hernandez backfield packages in the divisional round against Denver).

4. New York’s coverage
The advantage of getting pressure with four is having seven guys to crowd the field in coverage. Few back sevens are as well-equipped to defend the Patriots’ pass game as the Giants’. They have athletic pass-defending linebackers (Michael Boley and Jacquian Williams) who can play laterally. More importantly, those linebackers can exert brutish force against any receivers running shallow inside routes. Those shallow inside routes are the backbone of New England’s passing attack.

The Giants also have versatile safeties who can (maybe) hang with Gronkowski and Hernandez. Deon Grant did a fabulous job on Gronk in Week 9 (he had a great pick in underneath coverage, and overall, Gronkowski’s impact was not as pronounced as his 101 yards suggested).

Antrel Rolle doesn’t run extremely well, but he’s agile enough to compete with Hernandez. In Week 9 Hernandez had not yet blossomed into the über-versatile weapon that he is today. So, Rolle actually spent most of that contest defending Wes Welker in the slot. Rolle got beat late a few times but also made some physical plays in the first half.

Physicality is a key concept. The Giants have capable press corners in Corey Webster and Aaron Ross. Webster is an outside defender who normally shadows the opposing team’s top receiver. Because Welker so often aligns in the slot, and because Deion Branch is not worth putting your best cover guy on, expect Webster to draw a litany of different matchups out wide. Same goes for Ross, who is actually more likely than Webster to cover Welker in the slot.

The Giants played more press-man than usual against the Patriots, and with good success. In the four games in which New England’s offense struggled the most this season, Brady’s completion percentage barely topped 50 when facing safety-help man coverage.

5. New England’s response
The Patriots know that aggressive press coverage can really disrupt the timing of their routes – an especially dubious scenario given that many of their routes are synched with other routes. Expect the go-to receiver to line up off the line of scrimmage as a means of creating more initial spacing (which makes it hard for a defender to deliver a jam). This could mean Welker in the slot, Hernandez in the slot or backfield, Branch in motion, etc. Play action could also take away inside help early in the routes, which bodes well for Welker:

This is an illustration of great route combinations. “Route combinations” refers to how one receiver’s route works hand-in-hand with another receiver’s route to exploit a specific coverage. This play shows a somewhat unusual case of an offense creating throwing lanes against man coverage with space-oriented route combinations (as opposed to regular man-beaters like pick plays, bunches or double crossing patterns).

It’s second-and-five. The Patriots are in a 1 x 2 set out of 12 personnel (one back, two tight ends). Judging by the cornerbacks, the Giants are in man coverage. This is confirmed when Rob Gronkowski goes in motion and Deon Grant follows him.

The matchup Tom Brady likes is Wes Welker against safety Antrel Rolle in the slot. Welker is going to run a deep cross. This is somewhat of a tendency-breaker, as most would expect Welker to run a shallow cross on second-and-five.

The primary intent of Gronkowski’s motion is NOT to verify the coverage, it’s to balance the formation and ensure that Grant will play close to the line of scrimmage. If he’s near the line, he’ll be unable to drop off Gronkowski and jump Welker’s route over the middle.

Don’t be surprised if the Patriots have their tight ends or running backs run patterns outside the numbers while the receivers run patterns inside. This would put pressure on the linebackers and safeties to play with more speed than power and make it more difficult for corners to count on a little help over the shallow middle (which most corners need). These inside-outside crossing elements are also natural man coverage beaters, which the Patriots must rely on.

Because Brady runs like he’s wearing ski boots, defenses facing New England don’t have to commit a linebacker to shadowing the quarterback. Thus, they essentially have one extra player at their disposal. The Patriots mitigate this defensive advantage by crafting creative route design concepts:

Upon the snap, there are two key elements:

1. Welker is coming out of the slot, not off the line of scrimmage. Thus, he has about two yards between him and Rolle, which is enough to prevent Rolle from exerting a physical jam.

2. Brady fakes a handoff to Danny Woodhead. This slows the pass-rush just enough to give Welker the time needed to execute his deep cross. More importantly, it distracts linebackers Mathias Kiwanuka and Michael Boley. They might be in a man-read assignment, meaning if Woodhead goes right, the linebacker to that side (Boley) picks him up. If he goes left, then Kiwanuka picks him up. In that case, the design of the run action was outstanding because, by starting Woodhead on the left side and running him off the fake to the right flat, the attention of both linebackers is drawn. That’s what happened here, as Boley and Kiwanuka both responded to the fake by stepping forward and becoming non-factors in this play.

(Note: It’s also possible that Boley had Woodhead straight-up, with Kiwanuka serving as a free-roaming lurk defender. If that’s the case, then Kiwanuka played this exceptionally poorly.)

Being drawn forward, the linebackers are unable to sense Welker’s crossing route and unable to give Rolle any sort of help inside. Thus, Rolle is caught playing too far outside.

On the left side, Gronkowski ran a very shallow out-route while Chad Ochocinco ran his out towards the sideline. Both of these routes were designed to widen the defense and create a big open gap for Welker.

Overall, this play had a combination of four routes working together: Woodhead’s flat on the right, Gronkowski’s out and Ochocinco’s fly on the left and Welker’s deep cross down the middle. The result: an easy 25-yard completion to arguably the league’s best slot receiver.

Again, the crossing patterns are natural man-beaters. So are bunch and stack alignments, which are great for pushing a defense into off-coverage and creating space for quick-striking throws. These tactics will replace a lot of would-be run plays in New England’s up-tempo offense.

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 11:11 pm
 

Manning gives well-received locker room speech

ManningBy Josh Katzowitz

When you think Eli Manning, you don’t necessarily think of the phrase “vocal locker room leader” (isn’t that right, Tiki Barber?).

But when Manning has something to say, his Giants teammates take notice, and whatever he speaks about usually makes an impact. And with still 12 days to go before New York faces the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, Manning decided to showcase his leadership skills during a team meeting just before coach Tom Coughlin gave the Giants an off-day on Wednesday.

He decided to talk about -- or maybe just reemphasize -- how the team, you know, really should go about its Super Bowl preparations in a somewhat professional manner.

“I was just telling them just a little bit how to prepare for this,” Manning said, via the NY Daily News. “Just handling all your business with tickets, getting that stuff done. Just a few things on just the mindset of this week. We’ve got to have great preparation. Prepare this week like you’re playing the game this week, because once you get out to Indianapolis, you’ve got to take a bus ride to practice and the whole schedule gets thrown off.

“We’ve got to have everything that we normally have to do during a normal work week, we’re going to try to get it done this week.”

The talk apparently made an impact.

“It was a broad message that needed to be said,” safety Antrel Rolle said. “And it was a message that was heard loud and clear by everyone. Basically this is about business. Let’s go take care of it. Let’s go get it done, at whatever it costs.”

Man, Tiki Barber would be so proud.

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Posted on: January 21, 2012 11:24 am
 

Vernon Davis won't be hosting party after all

V. Davis caught the game-winning pass to send San Francisco to the NFC title game (US Presswire).By Josh Katzowitz

Feel free to file this under “made up controversies that make me yawn,” but 49ers tight end Vernon Davis has been criticized by some parties because of his plans to, well, party.

As the New York Daily News writes, Davis made plans to host a post-NFC championship game party at a popular club in San Francisco. The so-called controversy? As the paper writes, “It’s a move that easily could be construed as a sign that Davis and the Niners expect to win.”

“We’ve been getting a little bit of fuss about it and that’s not what it is at all,” a club spokesman said. “It’s not a victory party. It’s a party celebrating the 49ers’ season for making it so far. The party is going on win or lose. Vernon Davis will be there win or lose.”

But now, he won’t be hosting anything. According to the San Jose Mercury News, Davis has withdrawn his name as a host of the party, which is sponsored by a number of high-end car dealerships.

Which, I suppose, is understandable. But it’s not like Davis has morphed into Giants cornerback Antrel Rolle who said this week, “We can’t be beat. We’re extremely confident and we’ve given ourselves the reasons to feel that way. We have to continue to give ourselves those reasons, and we will. We have no doubts.”

All of this overlooks the role Davis has played this season in San Francisco for quarterback Alex Smith. While he’s been overshadowed by New England’s Rob Gronkowski and New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham, Davis has come a long way from the player former coach Mike Singletary sent to the locker room last season after having words with teammate Michael Crabtree.

“From that point on, I was…I just kept my head up and just kept going down the straight path because I knew from there, from the talk that we had, I was going the wrong direction,” Davis said earlier this week. “I changed my life around and I became more of a leader, because in the beginning it was all about me and that’s not right. You don’t want it to be all about you. I find it that, when it’s more about the team and you put the team first, you have more success.”

Said Davis, “He said to me, I can’t remember what he said word for word, but it touched me. It touched me. But I do remember him saying that, ‘Vernon, when you put the team first, then you’ll start to take off.’ So I did that, I did that. Since then, life has been really good.”

For Davis, life has become a party. One that he’s not actually hosting.



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Posted on: January 17, 2012 9:49 am
 

Antrel Rolle on Giants: 'We can't be beat'

Rolle isn't afraid to speak his mind. It's just that sometimes it backfires. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

It's one thing for Jason Pierre-Paul to declare that the Giants would beat the Packers because, well, he apparently knows what he's talking about. ("We’re going to win," Pierre-Paul said after New York beat Atlanta. "One hundred percent we’re going to win ... because we’re the best.")

It's something else when Antrel Rolle makes similar proclamations; his track record in such endeavors is far from spotless. In fact, it's pretty embarrassing.

The Redskins somehow managed to sweep the Giants this season and following their Week 1 win, Rolle went on the radio and said, "As a team and organization we know that the Washington Redskins are not a better team than us. We know that. Hands down. If we played them 100 times they might win five."

Washington would win again when the two teams met 14 weeks later.

Now, five days from the NFC Championship Game, Rolle is again making with the guarantees.

"I might be a little biased, but in our minds, we can’t be beat,” Rolle said via the New York Daily News' Peter Botte. “We’re extremely confident and we’ve given ourselves the reasons to feel that way. We have to continue to give ourselves those reasons, and we will. We have no doubts. It’s right there at the tip of our tongues.”

Rolle's comments aren't unreasonable (well, except that part about winning being on the "tip of our tongues" -- but we knew what he meant); the Giants did just beat the defending Super Bowl champs who went 15-1 during the 2011 regular season. And unlike his observations about the Redskins' inadequacies, Rolle didn't call out the 49ers. He just spoke to how well New York has been playing.

“You can put an All-Star team in front of us, and we’re going to go out there and compete,” he continued. “We don’t fold. No matter what happens, if there’s a bad call, or things aren’t going our way, we’re not going to break. We’re not going to lose focus on what’s at stake and our ultimate goal.”

Rolle's right about that last part: the Giants were hosed twice against the Packers and it didn't matter; they still blew Green Bay out at home. There's something to be said for that, especially since New York has to travel to San Francisco next weekend.

And while we don't have any issues with Rolle's latest remarks, we'd still feel a lot better if they came from JPP. Because, really, there's nothing more shameful than getting called out by Rex Grossman for being bad at your job.

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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