One of the biggest questions facing the New York Giants in 2007 was how well would Brandon Jacobs do replacing Tiki Barber? Most of us thought that it was a stretch to assume he could go from a part time bowling ball to a full time producing RB on a good team.
Well, the verdict was somewhat mixed due to his health, but when Brandon Jacobs was on the field, he was the truth. 10 full games in 2007’s regular season, and he rushed for 1009 yards. More impressively, in 8 of those 10 games, he averaged better than 4.5 yards per carry to get where he needed to get. Only Dallas (4.0) and at Phil (3.2) were able to keep him below that number – very impressive.
Oddly, in the 4 game Super Bowl run of the post season, he put up these pedestrian performances:
At TB – 13 carries, 34 yards – 2.6 avg – 1 TD
AT Dal – 14 – 54 – 3.9 avg – 1 TD
AT GB – 21 – 67 – 3.2 avg – 1 TD
Super Bowl vs NE 14 - 42 3.0 avg 0 TD
Of course, in the post season, he was joined in the backfield by young rookie Ahmad Bradshaw, who after running for 190 in the regular season, broke loose for 208 in the post season, compared to the 197 yards Jacobs had in the playoffs.
In the 14 games Brandon Jacobs played (not counting the 1 Quarter he played at Texas Stadium before he left injured), the Giants were 11-3. Pretty strong.
The down side was that he missed 5 ½ games due to various injuries. But, if he can stay on the field, the Giants have a solid running game with the assumption that Bradshaw will improve.
Now, we may understand how they didn’t need Ryan Grant.
And guess what? He loves to chat about the Cowboys …
It appears that the war of words between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys will spill over into the 2008 season. When last seen at Texas Stadium, Giants players were enjoying some postgame popcorn in honor (mockery) of Terrell "Getcha Popcorn Ready!" Owens.
Earlier in the season, Cowboys wide receiver Patrick Crayton had taunted the Giants in print, which led to an entertaining verbal matchup between he and running back Brandon Jacobs.
Since arriving at Giants training camp, I've been told that several members of the organization plan their Wednesday evenings around watching HBO's "Hard Knocks" in an effort to find more bulletin board material.
Apparently Jacobs has already seen enough because he went off on the Cowboys while appearing on WFAN's mid-day show earlier this week. After calling the Cowboys an "arrogant group," Jacobs followed with this:
"I guess they won their Super Bowl rings in training camp, because they didn't win it last year," he said.
I'm not sure whether the Giants have heard about Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips referring to them as "last year's champs" during training camp in Oxnard, Calif., but I'm certain it's something they can work with. As GM Jerry Reese told the NFC East Blog on Wednesday, the Giants "play the role of the underdog as well as anyone."
Can the defending world champs play this role with a straight face?
So far, so good.
If you can bear to watch, the playoff game Giants - Cowboys will be shown on the NFL Network twice on Friday (7:30am and 1:30 pm)
Obligatory ”We almost had Romo” story from Denver …
Two of the Cowboys' best players, quarterback Tony Romo and defensive end Chris Canty, were almost Broncos.
Remember when the Broncos took running back Maurice Clarett with the final pick in the third round of the 2005 draft?
They wanted the 6-foot-7, 304- pound Canty.
"I had heard that," Canty said, laughing. "I'm going to leave that one alone."
Canty had suffered a detached retina in college, and the Broncos' physicians wouldn't clear him. Clarett was an enormous bust and is now in prison. Canty has started every game for a strong Dallas team the past two years.
Romo was an undrafted free agent coming out of Eastern Illinois in 2003 when he was deciding between offers made by the Broncos and Cowboys. Broncos coach
Mike Shanahan, who also played quarterback at Eastern Illinois, offered a better signing bonus, but Romo picked the Cowboys anyway.
"When I went into it, the choice I was trying to make was, 'What team could I make?' " Romo said. "I felt Dallas gave me the best opportunity. I loved Denver. Denver was right there at the end."
Denver’s undrafted gem is Selvin Young …Longhorn homer Chill is on the case….
Selvin Young plans to rush for 2,000 yards in 2008.
Yes, that Selvin Young.
The one who was largely a backup running back during an injury-riddled college career at the University of Texas. The same one who went undrafted by all 32 teams in 2007 before latching on with the Denver Broncos as a rookie free agent.
“Everything I said is legitimate from my thought process,” Young said while walking off the field after a joint practice between the Dallas Cowboys and Broncos. “That is something I would like to accomplish. I understand a lot of things have to come together for me to accomplish that goal. So if it comes to pass, it’s going to be great.”
However, before you scoff — and many will since there have been only five 2,000 rushers in NFL history — consider that Young has already done more than anyone thought he would.
He came out of nowhere to start eight games as a rookie and become the first undrafted player to lead the Broncos in rushing with 729 yards.
It’s the third-most rushing yards for an undrafted rookie in NFL history.
He survived a gang-infested upbringing in Houston’s Fifth Ward, including a gunshot wound at age 8. He criss-crossed through 19 elementary and junior high schools before moving to Jersey Village for high school.
Blame it on a broken home, poverty, moving back and forth between his mother and father while staying with other family members in between. Young said he has “been to damn near every school in Houston.”
To that end, he believes he already has been a success.
It’s also why he doesn’t let the doubters bother him. It was his belief in his own dreams and abilities that got him this far.
“Early on I understood that my life and the cards I was dealt wasn’t all aces and spades,” Young said. “So I had to deal with what I was dealt with and the obstacles that came and overcome those things. For a person like myself to get in college, coming from poverty and from a neighborhood where guys don’t even understand what college is, I feel like I was ahead of the curve.”
Young got a boost in his quest for 2,000 yards when was promoted to the starting lineup in the off-season.
The Broncos showed further confidence in Young when they released former troubled starter Travis Henry in June.
It’s safe to say that Young is buoyed by a running back-friendly offense in Denver under coach Mike Shanahan.
In Shanahan’s 13 previous seasons as head coach, the Broncos have finished among the league’s top 10 teams in rushing 12 times, with seven different running backs having led the team in rushing in a season.
“Selvin Young was obviously injured at Texas, but he came in here, stayed healthy and took advantage of an opportunity,” Shanahan said. “Anytime you get a scholarship and are averaging about 5.5 to 6 yards per carry at Texas, you know you have a big upside, and he is taking advantage of that opportunity here.”
Asked what he expects from Young in 2008, Shanahan joined in on the fun:
“Well, he guaranteed 2,000 [yards] I think, so he is going to be much better.”
Selvin’s Rookie Year Highlight Film
To college football…
The Aggies new starter is their old starter …Honestly, he never did anything for me but show admirable courage in getting his head bashed in and running back to the huddle for more, but I am trying to remember that Coach Fran and the Shermanator see football 100% differently, so let’s see if McGee can recapture his passing ability from High School that we always hear about…
Stephen McGee was named Texas A&M's starting quarterback on Thursday, ending what Coach Mike Sherman called an open competition with sophomore Jerrod Johnson.
The 6-foot-3 McGee, a senior who started the past two seasons for Dennis Franchione, threw for 2,311 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2007. McGee is 16-11 as the Aggies' starter.
"Everybody wants to play," McGee said. "I want to play football for as long as I possibly can. I'm excited to be in the huddle again."
Sherman, who became A&M's coach after Franchione resigned last November, said McGee had a firm grasp of his pro-style offense and had not yet thrown an interception in fall workouts.
"In the end, Stephen was the most consistent," Sherman said. "It was day-to-day stuff going back to the spring. I tried to be oblivious to last year. I wanted to see what he could do."
The Aggies ran an option-style offense under Franchione and were often criticized last season for not passing enough. McGee, who threw for 8,256 yards in a record-setting high school career at Burnet, says Sherman's offense is a better fit for his skills.
"I love it," said McGee, who has a 58.8 completion percentage in college. "It's a lot of fun to be in this offense and the amount of stuff we can do, the different formations and moving people around. It really gives us a lot of options."
The 6-5, 229-pound Johnson, who threw only seven passes last season, is the backup, though Sherman said he's been impressed with redshirt freshman Ryan Tannehill during preseason practices. Sherman has also been using Tannehill as a receiver.
Sherman spoke to the quarterbacks on Wednesday night to inform them of his decision.
"In explaining it to Stephen, I said you've got two guys behind you who want your job," Sherman said. "And if we struggle at times during the season, we may go in that direction. It's your job today and you've just got to keep holding onto it.
"Nothing is just set in stone, other than the fact that he is the starter in the first ballgame."
McGee said he doesn't feel like he's still fighting for his job.
"I'm not really worried about that," McGee said. "I just have to go out there, have fun and be me."
Sherman said Johnson improved his footwork and decision-making over the summer. Johnson took Sherman's decision in stride.
"Any situation, I'm one play away from playing," Johnson said. "I think I am ready to lead the team when called upon. That doesn't change my mindset at all. I'm just trying to be the best quarterback I can be every day."
Sooners have a talented DL …this just in….
The Sooners' front four should be among the most feared in the nation, led by Big 12 preseason defensive player of the year Auston English. The junior defensive end who possesses a lethal first step led the conference a year ago with 9 ½ sacks despite missing three games because of injury.
Two Dallas-area products – sophomore Jeremy Beal of Carrollton Creekview and senior Alan Davis of Colleyville Heritage – are competing for the starter's spot opposite English. Beal appears to have the edge right now.
OU ranked 17th nationally a year ago in run defense (110.3 yards allowed), and that ranking should improve with the return of starting defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Kimball-ex DeMarcus Granger.
"We know we're a talented group. But you can be the most talented group and not play hard and not be as good as the other groups," Beal said. "We just have to play hard, and if we do that, we'll be one of the best defensive lines out there."
OU has plenty in reserve up front as well. The Sooners rotate their defensive
linemen to keep players fresh against today's pass-happy offenses.
Yesterday on the show, we featured the Coach K audio where he coaches up the Redeem Team. Many have asked for it, and Here it is …
4 new coaches in the NFL – 0 head coaching experience ….
Jim Zorn synchronized the clocks. John Harbaugh rearranged the locker room. Tony Sparano became a billboard. Mike Smith couldn't find a dinner companion on his own coaching staff.
Such are the privileges, surprises and hazards of becoming an NFL head coach.
Procuring one of the 32 jobs isn't easy, and none of these men had been able to do so until this past offseason. Young hotshots they are not. They are longtime assistants averaging 49 years of age and more than 23 years of pro or college coaching experience.
They wondered if this chance would arrive. Now that it has, they're solving problems they've never encountered.
"There's a new challenge every single day, whether it's an X-and-O challenge or a personnel challenge or a relationship challenge with the players," Harbaugh says. "You've got to be able to come up with an answer. And you've got to be able to do it fast."
Zorn, 55, replaces Joe Gibbs, a Hall of Fame coach who led the Washington Redskins to the playoffs in 2007. Harbaugh, 45, takes over the Baltimore Ravens from Brian Billick, a Super Bowl winner who made the Ravens a respected team.
The Atlanta Falcons' Smith, 49, and the Miami Dolphins' Sparano, 46, have longer roads ahead of them. Their new teams had serious issues last season.
In Atlanta, the aftertaste of the Michael Vick dogfighting incident lingered. Then Bobby Petrino unceremoniously quit as the Falcons' coach with three games left in the season.
Smith and Sparano evoke similar language when they talk about trying to shake their franchises from the mind-set of losing.
"When you change the culture, you have to change people's behaviors," Smith says. "And when you change behaviors, you change their habits."
Some might view team vice president Bill Parcells as the new face of the Dolphins franchise, but it was Sparano's mug looking down from a billboard that nearly caused the new coach to run off the road.
The Dolphins were 1-15, coming dangerously close to a winless finish in what became their only season under Cam Cameron. That one victory didn't come until Week 15.
"Everybody in this building — administrators, everybody — we've told about changing the culture," says Sparano, who was the Dallas Cowboys' assistant head coach last season. "It can get easy to get comfortable losing and easy to say, 'It's not my fault.'
"When I look at it and see the team starting to come together and starting to form a personality and maybe the personality it's taking on is a little bit of the head coach, I start to say, 'Hey, we really are doing this.' "
The message has been received. "I think you either live up to it or you'll be shipped out. That's kind of the way it's going to be," Dolphins cornerback Will Allen says.
Of the four new head coaches, only Smith has been a defensive or offensive coordinator in the NFL (from 2003-07 with the Jacksonville Jaguars) and only Sparano has been a head coach at any level (from 1994-98 at the University of New Haven). Will they find success? They are establishing philosophies and implementing systems they believe will make them winners in the NFL.
The Generation Kill Glossary is back at ya …
Sad Day as Mike and the Mad Dog get a divorce …for real...
Hard Knocks – Awful Announcing’s version - Naughty Word Warning