Tag:Mario Manningham
Posted on: December 22, 2011 5:40 pm
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Revis, Cromartie respond to slights from NYG WRs

Cromartie is wholly unimpressed with the wide receivers on the roster of the other New York team. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

On Wednesday, Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks described Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis as "decent." Nicks' teammate Victor Cruz added that "Teams aren’t really scared (of him) anymore. He’s had to earn his money this year. Teams aren’t really backing down. I feel like we’re going to do the same thing. We’re going to go out. Until he physically stops us we’re going to throw the ball on him."

A day later and Revis has responded.

"I'm not a monster," he said, presumably laughing. "So why would anyone be scared?" He then added (via CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Lisa Zimmerman): "I don't even know who (they are). If I want entertainment, I'll watch reality shows."

Because there's nothing more insulting than to have someone in your line of work -- and who happens to share the same building -- feign surprise that you actually exist.

Antonio Cromartie, the Jets’ other starting cornerback, dispensed with the jokes and got right to rebutting. Regarding Nicks and Cruz he said (via the New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta):"You got guys that are not even Pro Bowl material... Who really cares what they have to say?” And he saved these sentiments for Mario Manningham: "He let a guy named Victor Cruz come in and take his job."

Hey, at least Cromartie didn’t call anybody an a-hole.

Rex Ryan, voice of reason, weighed in, too. When apprised of Nicks and Cruz’s original comments he offered this (again via Zimmerman):

"The list would be a lot longer before I got to Revis," he said of the criticisms. He also put out a reminder of the how the Jets defensive scheme works. "[Revis] has almost zero help (in the backfield)."

This game can’t get here fast enough. Luckily, thanks to Christmas falling on a Sunday, the Jets and Giants will play Saturday at 1 p.m.


The Giants and Jets are both battling it out to make the playoffs and Saturday's game will look to play a deciding roll in who advances to the postseason. Join Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan for a preview of this game.

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Posted on: December 7, 2011 10:43 am
Edited on: December 7, 2011 12:05 pm
 

Film Room: Cowboys vs. Giants preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


A hallmark rivalry renews Sunday night with the first of a two-game series between the Cowboys and Giants that will likely decide the NFC East. We’ve recently grown familiar with the Giants as they’ve spent the past few weeks on football’s center stage (Patriots-Eagles-Saints-Packers!).

In examining whether they can break their slump and get back above .500, we take an in-depth look at how they match up with this week’s familiar foe.


1. Stopping DeMarco Murray
New York’s most valuable contributor Sunday night might just be Jason Garrett. The Cowboys’ play-caller unwisely drifted away from Murray in the second half against the Dolphins on Thanksgiving, and he all but abandoned Murray against the Cardinals last week (12 carries, just seven after the first quarter).

Garrett’s pass-first decision at Arizona was likely in response to the aggression of the Cardinals linebackers. They recklessly attacked downhill much of the game, often as part of designed blitzes. Garrett may have felt that passing against an iffy and over-leveraged Cardinals secondary was the best response.

That said, Garrett can’t simply let Murray become an afterthought. The rookie running back has been the stabilizing force of the Cowboys’ offense. In recent weeks, the Cowboys’ front line has played with enough power in the ground game that, with the help of fluid H-back John Phillips, it’s realistic to think they could push the pile against aggressive linebacking. Even if they couldn’t, Garrett could still feature his young back in the passing game. Murray has soft hands and is smart in protection. Screen passes are a great way to punish fast downhill linebackers.
 
Expect the Giants to attack with their second level defenders much in the same way the Cardinals did. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell knows that this might make Garrett one-dimensional in his play-calling. What’s more, the way to contain Murray is to make him go east and west early in the run. He has decent lateral agility and change-of-direction but only if he’s already built momentum.

By shooting the gaps, the Giants will push Murray to the perimeter, where he’s less dangerous. If the Giants continue to operate out of their big nickel package (two linebackers, three safeties), they’ll have enough speed on the field to chase the outside runs.

2. Cowboys passing game
Shooting the gaps against Murray will leave New York more susceptible to play-action passing and one-on-one matchups downfield. That’s a risk the Giants should be willing to take. They have a quasi-shutdown corner in Corey Webster.

They likely believe they can cover Jason Witten with one of their three safeties, or even with athletic linebacker Jacquian Williams. Williams was matched one-on-one against Jimmy Graham and Jermichael Finley the past two weeks. He was defeated in both matchups, but the Giants may be inclined to trust him again this week. Witten is elite, but he’s a prototypical tight end, not an insanely athletic hybrid wideout like Graham or Finley.

The Cowboys’ passing attack is interesting. Early in the season, it flowed through Witten. A few weeks ago, most noticeably on Thanksgiving, it was flowing through Laurent Robinson (a graceful, long-striding, deceptively fast street free agent who has blossomed now that he’s finally stayed healthy). Last week, it flowed through Dez Bryant, even though Bryant was defended by rising star Patrick Peterson. And keep in mind, last season, the passing attack flowed through Miles Austin, who may return this week from his hamstring injury.

In Dallas’ system, the go-to target is often determined by whom Tony Romo feels most comfortable with. Romo’s comfort may be influenced by the rhythm of the game. When things are grinding, Witten’s the guy. When everything flows, it’s Robinson. When it’s a sporadic, sandlot type game, he likes Bryant. The Giants will have studied the Cowboys’ offense all week. Whom they decide to put No. 1 corner Webster on will tell you who THEY think Romo likes most.

3. Tyron Smith
The first-round rookie right tackle from USC has been better than advertised, showing improvement with every start. Smith, the youngest player in the NFL, has uncommonly light feet for 310-pounder. He’s dripping with athleticism, which is evident when he lands blocks off short-area movement in the run game. His technique continues to be a work in progress – he was exploited by wily defenders early in the season and had a tough time against Cameron Wake two games ago – but it’s much better at this point than most expected.

That said, there may not be a worse player to face in a war of fundamentals than Justin Tuck. The seventh-year veteran has had a down season, but he’s still one of the craftiest – if not THE craftiest – ends in football.

If the Giants cared about our viewing entertainment, they’d move Tuck to the defensive right side and let Jason Pierre-Paul, the most dynamic young athlete playing defensive end today, go mano-a-mano against Smith.

4. Rob Ryan’s pass-rush tactics
Rob Ryan’s primary focus is on creating one-on-one situations for DeMarcus Ware. The league’s most prolific sack artist over the last five years almost always aligns on the open side of the offensive formation (i.e. away from the tight end).

To help ensure more one-on-ones for Ware – and to simply generate as much pressure as possible – Ryan walks safeties down into the box (Abe Elam’s physical strength is a plus for this), uses fire-X blitzes with his inside linebackers (where the left linebacker attacks the right A-gap and the right linebacker attacks the left A-gap) and often brings cornerback Orlando Scandrick off the edge from the slot (Scandrick is an excellent blitzer).

Ryan may want to be a bit cautious this week. Eli Manning is superb at identifying blitzes and audibling. Plus, it was on a double A-gap blitz that Ryan got outsmarted by Ken Whisenhunt with a screen pass for LaRod Stephens-Howling on the overtime touchdown last week. Ahmad Bradshaw is very good in the screen game.



5. Defending Cruz
Over the years, the Giants have had a field day going after Orlando Scandrick with slot receiver Steve Smith. Scandrick has drastically improved all-around in his third season. But the Giants also have a more dynamic slot weapon in surprising 1,000-yard receiver Victor Cruz. Cruz has big, ball-plucking hands and sinewy body control that allow him to make late adjustments to the ball. His powerful elusiveness after the catch makes him a threat to score on any play.

If Scandrick is blitzing or outside, the Cowboys are more likely to play a zone or some sort of off-coverage in the slot. The Cardinals had their outside and slot receivers align tight to one another last week, which the Cowboys defended by playing off-coverage inside. That left easy eight-yard completions on the table. Manning will gladly take those if given the opportunity.

The Cowboys may defend the seam with safety help – which could keep Cruz, as well as surprising downfield producer Jake Ballard, in-check. In that case, Scandrick would be an underneath defender, where he’s most comfortable. The cost here is that this safety help would either water down some of the blitz designs or leave one-on-one coverage against Hakeem Nicks outside.

Rob Ryan’s best bet might be to mix and match with disguise, in hopes of setting up a Manning turnover.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 14 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: November 30, 2011 2:54 pm
 

Film Room: Giants vs. Packers preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



What you’re about to read is not a prediction for the Giants to knockoff the undefeated Packers. The Giants are banged up, have lost back-to-back primetime games and are coming off a trouncing by the Saints offense.

Come Sunday, they’ll have had only six days to prepare for the even-more-prolific Packers – a team coming off a mini bye after playing last Thursday. But there are myriad opportunities to read about why Green Bay can further push New York into one of its patented late-season declines.

We already know which is the better team here. So instead of just joining the masses, let’s challenge ourselves by examining how/why the Giants might be able to pull off an upset.


1. Throwing from base personnel
The Giants offense is most comfortable operating out of base personnel (two backs, one tight end, two receivers). Base personnel gives the Giants more opportunities for a balanced run-pass gameplan and aids their play-action.

More importantly, if last year’s Week 16 matchup between these two clubs is any indication, the Packers will match the Giants’ base personnel with their own 3-4 base personnel. Green Bay is considerably less dangerous lining up in a standard 3-4. Most of Dom Capers’ blitzes and subterfuge come from the nickel 2-4-5 package (with Charles Woodson sliding into the slot).

Against the Pack’s basic 3-4, the Giants pass-blockers can worry less about identifying blitzes and more about traditional execution. The front five can focus on sliding protection towards Clay Matthews and the running backs will have a cleaner look at their help-blocking assignments (such as chipping on the edges or covering for a lineman who gets confounded by a stunt).

What’s more, out of base personnel, the Giants running backs would be bigger factors in the pass game, and Eli Manning would also have a chance to attack A.J. Hawk in coverage. Hawk has recently improved as a space player, but offenses still prefer throwing at him inside and down the seams versus throwing at Charles Woodson or the safeties against the nickel look.

Tight end Jake Ballard (30 receptions, 490 yards this season) gives the Giants an auspicious target in this matchup.

2. The Bradshaw factor
If Ahmad Bradshaw does not return from his foot injury this week, you might as well watch Rams-Niners or Cardinals-Cowboys or The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills during the late afternoon window. Without Bradshaw in the backfield, it will be very difficult for New York to throw out of base personnel, as Brandon Jacobs plays with oven mitts over his hands and D.J. Ware has not shown impressive start/stop quickness in the flats.

Bradshaw is a quick, versatile receiver and an underrated pass-blocker. More importantly, he’s far and away New York’s best runner (Jacobs can still plow over defenders when he has a head full of steam, but his lack of initial burst is a real hindrance to the ground game).

Running the ball is critical for the Giants because it helps keep Aaron Rodgers off the field.

3. The Eli factor
If Eli Manning is not in the tail end of that Tom Brady elite class, he’s comfortably at the very head of the class right after it. It sounds implausible, but Little Brother these days is underrated. Manning is having a career-year despite injuries to his receivers, top running back and offensive line (most recently, left tackle Will Beatty, who missed Monday’s game with a detached retina and will sit out again Sunday).

The Giants offense, even with the injuries and disappearance of its rushing attack (82.3 yards per game, 32nd in the NFL) has managed to post 22.9 points per contest (16th in NFL).

Manning, with his audible powers at the line, almost never lets the Giants attempt an ill-fated play. What’s not talked about enough is his arm strength. He has the gun to get the ball outside the numbers or through tight windows – and he can do it while throwing off-balance or falling back with defenders in his face. He’s as tough in the pocket as any quarterback in the game and, in the last year or two, he’s become routinely accurate.

4. How to attack downfield
The Giants may not prefer to spread the field and make this a shootout – they don’t have the wide receiver depth for that, especially if Mario Manningham’s knee remains an issue. But given the brilliance of the Packers offense, it’s possible – if not probable – that Big Blue will have to score 30-plus in order to win.

If that’s the case, the Giants may want to copy the Chargers’ approach from Week 9, when Philip Rivers & Co. hung 38 points and 460 yards on the Pack. In that game, San Diego lined up in condensed formations, with their receivers in minus splits (inside the numbers). With receivers starting their routes closer to the middle of the field, the Packer defensive backs were forced to defend more space, as they could not rely on the sideline for help:

The Chargers have good receivers and they got great protection up front that day, so they were able to capitalize on the condensed formations. The Giants receivers might be a grade below the Chargers’ (it’s debatable), but regardless, they’re capable of winning one-on-one matchups in space. The Giants’ O-line struggled two weeks ago against the Eagles, but it’s been stellar in protection most of this season.

Condensed formations don’t just create more space for receivers’ routes, they also create opportunities for picks and rubs with crossing routes, which present problems for any defense in man coverage.

5. Giants defense
As we covered in last week’s Film Room post, the Giants like to use their big nickel defense (two linebackers, three safeties) against an offense’s base personnel – especially when the offense has a versatile tight end (like Jimmy Graham last week or Jermichael Finley this week). Expect to see Deon Grant, Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips all on the field for most of this game.

It’s impossible to devise a gameplan that can stop Rodgers and this Green Bay passing attack. Your best bet is to bank on what you do best. For the Giants, that means rushing the passer with four. They got absolutely nothing from their pass-rush Monday night, which was disappointing given the glaring mismatch they had with their ends against the Saints’ iffy tackles. A four-man rush gives coordinator Perry Fewell seven defenders to play with in coverage, which allows for tighter zones and plenty of freelance defenders in man schemes.

The Giants stymied the Patriots with tight man coverage across the board a few weeks ago. That may not work in this matchup. The Packer receivers are the best in the league at beating man-to-man (in part because Rodgers is a genius when it comes to back-shoulder throws). Plus, the Patriots have a horizontal passing game; the Packers are more capable at beating you vertically. One slip by a man defender can equal six points for the offense.

In all likelihood, there won’t be just one simple solution for Fewell and his men on Sunday. They’ll have to mix coverages and try different things, all the while hoping that their star-studded pass-rush can show up.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 13 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: September 24, 2011 3:48 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Manningham latest Giants WR ruled out vs. Eagles

Manningham didn't travel with the Giants to Philly. (AP)
Posted by Ryan Wilson

The Giants' already-bleak situation at wide receiver just got worse for Sunday's matchup with the division rival Eagles: Mario Manningham, who suffered a concussion in last Monday night's win over the Rams, has been ruled out.

Earlier in the week, wide receiver Domenik Hixon was placed on injured reserve after tearing his ACL in the Monday night game.

New York will go into Philadelphia to face arguably the best secondary in the league without their Nos. 2 and 3 wideouts. Eli Manning's go-to target, Hakeem Nicks, will play, and he'll be joined by some combination of second-year player Victor Cruz, veteran slot receiver Brandon Stokely, former Redskins draft bust Devin Thomas, and just-signed Michael Clayton.

There was some speculation in recent days that the Giants might be interested in Randy Moss. General manager Jerry Reese admitted that "we investigate everything" when asked about the possibility of signing Moss, he added, "(Moss) hasn't been in our building so it would be unfair to make an evaluation of him. We don't really know him. He's a terrific receiver as we've seen from his time in the league. Our offense is predicated on reads, which is hard for some guys to pick up. But it's not something that a veteran like him would have trouble with."

Discussions of Moss aside, this Giants' current group of receivers will have their hands full. They're going up against cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha (the Eagles' high-priced free-agent acquisition), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (who came over in the trade that sent quarterback Kevin Kolb to Arizona) and Asante Samuel.

Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora and rookie cornerback and first-round pick Prince Amukamara also didn't make the trip to Philly.

In other concussion-related news, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick says he will be under center. "I feel great and ready to play," he said Friday. "Nothing feels different. I feel like I've worked myself back into good condition and playing shape and I'm ready to go."


Coming off a Monday night victory, the New York Giants prepare to take on NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. Join Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan as they preview this upcoming matchup.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: July 26, 2011 7:45 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 9:36 pm
 

Would the Giants really welcome back Plaxico?

BurressPosted by Josh Katzowitz

If you would have asked free agent WR Plaxico Burress the chances he would return to play for his old team, the Giants, after his stint in prison, he probably wouldn’t have been real confident.

The Eagles seemed interested in him (Michael Vick said something about how you can never have enough weapons), and though Burress apparently was eyeing the Bears, Chicago made it pretty clear the interest wasn’t mutual (psst, Burress also said the the Jets would be appealing to him).

But remember when Eli Manning said he would rather have Burress on his team instead of former Giants RB Tiki Barber? Maybe, Manning had a little bit of inside knowledge, because according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Giants are in contention to bring him back to New York.

With the Giants, Burress probably wouldn’t be counted as on a top-line target. At the age of (almost) 34 and having not played since the 2008 season, nobody is sure how much football talent Burress has left in his body. Plus, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham are locked in as starters.

But Burress could add to the depth of New York’s WR corps, and if the Giants expect him as a third or fourth WR, that might make some sense.



Of course, Burress said this recently about coach Tom Coughlin: “My situation in New York, me and my coach, had an ambivalent relationship to say the least. Some things that I didn't agree with, with the way he went about things. And the only way to show my way was to just rebel. Is that who I am? No."

So, um, maybe the Giants and Burress wouldn’t be a great fit after all.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: November 17, 2010 10:00 pm
 

Steve Smith out until early December

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Don’t expect Giants WR Steve Smith to play for the next few weeks. According to the Newark Star-Ledger, Smith, who partially tore his pectoral muscle at practice last Thursday, will be out until early December.

"It's coming along slow," Smith said.

With the Giants placing WR Ramses Barden on IR Tuesday because of a foot injury, the Giants are in desperate need of receiver help. Featuring only Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks and Duke Calhoun, New York on Tuesday re-signed Derek Hagan, who’s made only 11 catches since 2007.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .
Posted on: October 26, 2010 12:38 am
 

Giants quietly shaping into serious contenders

Posted by Will Brinson

No one's gonna talk about the Giants, even though they just won their fifth game of the year, and even though they're absolutely one of the three best teams in the NFC (we'll also accept arguments for the Eagles or Falcons).

That's because the national media's got its hands full burying the Cowboys over the next week. Not only does Dallas totally deserve it, but the Giants probably don't care, preferring to quietly go about their business with a team that suddenly screams shades of their Super Bowl winning team in 2007.

Seriously, they've got a pretty similar defensive setup (Michael Strahan and Antonio Pierce are gone, of course, but their defensive line depth is ridiculous), a stout offensive line and, in case you hadn't noticed, maybe the best receiving corps in the NFL.

Laugh at that all you want, but Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith (2) and Mario Manningham are all young, talented and only getting better. Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs probably need to spend their bye week handing out Butterfingers to the kids on Halloween so they don't bring any back to the field, but those guys are up there in terms of tandem backs in the NFL.

Eli Manning might be overrated by his peers, but he's plenty good; if his name was "Alex Smith" or something with less football-holy implications than "Manning," he'd be praised on a weekly basis and probably criminally underrated.

Sure, the Cowboys coughed that game up after the Giants gave them 21 points to start things off, and maybe a better team doesn't give New York that chance, but the Giants don't have to leave the mediocre confines of the NFC for the rest of the season, which means every single game from here on out is winnable.

In fact, take a look at the scores this year -- outside of their Manning Bowl spanking in Indy, the Dallas game on Sunday was the closest game they've played, and if you spent any time watching the game, you realize that it was probably a lost cause when Tony Romo went down with a broken left clavicle.

And yeah, I realize that if the onsides kick bounces the right way, we're not saying that, and yes, yes, I realize that there's no logic behind Phillips not kicking the field goal and then going for the two-point conversion, but that's just more proof that this team wasn't going to win Monday, much less play the Super Bowl at home.

But right now, the Giants are coming out every week, taking care of business handily, and not worrying about the fact that everyone's either to focused on Dallas' collapse or the total parity in the NFC to worry about a team that's quickly gelling and looking like an absolute contender.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed
Posted on: August 4, 2010 3:05 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2010 3:32 pm
 

Giants might take a look at Plaxico Burress

If you thought the Giants had no interest in perhaps bringing back WR Plaxico Burress – who is serving a two-year prison stint for gun possession but is scheduled to be released in the next couple weeks – think again.

New York general manager Jerry Reese told the New York Post the team will investigate it.

"He says his body feels great and is free of pain for the first time in years," a source who has visited Burress tells the Post’s George Willis. "He's in good shape and he has handled everything well."

It’s obviously unclear what Burress, who turns 33 later this month, possibly has left. But it wouldn’t be outlandish to suggest Burress could help the Giants WR corps. Steve Smith is the team’s No. 1 WR, and Hakeem Nicks (whose MRI today revealed that his knee would be OK) and Mario Manningham are decent enough. Other than that, it wouldn’t be impossible for Burress to have a chance to contribute.

UPDATE (3:30 p.m.):
Pro Football Talk responds. One of Mike Florio's sources called the Post report "bogus" and that Burress might not be released in the next few weeks.

--Josh Katzowitz

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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