Monday, September 24, 2012

Peter King's MMQB: Some Highlights

Eli Manning and the Giants rocked it on Thursday night in Carolina. Here's some highlights from Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback column, a must read for any respectable football fan.

Why the Giants win ... at least one big reason.

Patience wins in the NFL. Impetuousness rarely does, and when it does, it doesn't last. The 2009 NFL draft illustrates that well. That spring, the Giants picked Connecticut tackle Will Beatty 60th overall, Cal Poly wide receiver Ramses Barden 85th overall and North Carolina State running back Andre Brown 129th. Until Thursday night, Beatty had been an oft-injured disappointment, Barden got passed -- and lapped several times -- in wideout impact by Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks and Brown had been cut by half the free world. On Thursday, they were three of the 10 most important Giants in a 36-7 rout of Carolina on the road.

That's the strength of Jerry Reese as a general manager. He's not a knee-jerk guy. Last April, I wrote a story on Reese (and, in particular, how well he works with Tom Coughlin), and I sat in his office for a while talking about roster-building. The subject of the abuse he took from the talk-show set and fans came up for letting Steve Smith and Kevin Boss go in the 2011 offseason. He got a smile on his face and played me a couple of, shall we say, interesting, voice mails from critical fans after those players went to Philadelphia and Kansas City by way of Oakland, respectively. He asked me not to report what was said in the voicemails, but let's just say you need to have some blisters on your hide to be a general manager for a New York sports team.

"We don't have a template for how we build here,'' says Reese, and the Giants don't. But the one thing they have no problem doing is saying goodbye. They loved Boss -- loved him. But he wasn't worth a $6 million signing bonus to them. Gone. "Around here, when the money gets above X, we say goodbye,'' John Mara told me in the spring. They figured Barden could slide into Manningham's role and so they let Manningham walk to San Francisco. Brandon Jacobs had worn out his welcome; Brown and rookie David Wilson will have a shot to replace him -- and that looks good so far.
Charting players who have been good Reese picks in his first six drafts with the Giants:

2012: CB Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech (Round 3, 94 overall)
Precocious and instinctive from day one of camp, Hosley's one of the best rookie DBs in the league. He intercepted a Cam Newton pass Thursday.

2011: LB Jacquian Williams, South Florida (R6, 202)
A top special-teamer from day one, Williams stripped Kyle Williams in overtime of last season's NFC title game, setting up the Giants win.

2010: DE Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida (R1, 15)
Think the Eagles (Brandon Graham at 13) or Raiders (Rolando McClain at 8) would like to have a draft-day do-over?

2009: RB Andre Brown, North Carolina State (R4, 129)
Tore his Achilles as a rookie, and has been cut eight times since, but Reese brought him back, and Brown finally paid off with his big night against Carolina.

2008: WR Mario Manningham, Michigan (R3, 95)
Made the second-greatest catch in modern Giants history, but the Giants let him walk in free agency. "I don't agonize over anyone,'' Reese says.

2007: RB Ahmad Bradshaw, Marshall (R7, 250)
Troubled in college, he was worth a seventh-round risk, to put it mildly. What I love about the Giants 2007 draft: All eight rookies on this Super Bowl roster not only made the team, but also were active for at least one of the Giants' four playoff wins that year.

The Fine 15:

5. New York Giants (2-1). Sitting in a good position after three weeks. They're the hottest offense in football -- Giants 61, Foes 14 over the last five quarters -- and they now sit back on their mini-bye, three days away from football, while the Eagles wake up after a long trip home from Arizona and a very short night. The Giants will be well-rested when they arrive at the Linc next Sunday night.

Dr. Z Unsung Man in the Trenches of the Week

The award for the offensive lineman who was the biggest factor for his team in the weekend's games, named for my friend Paul Zimmerman, the longtime SI football writer struggling in New Jersey to recover from three strokes suffered in November 2008. Zim, a former collegiate offensive lineman himself, loved watching offensive line play.

Will Beatty, T, New York Giants. Except for two late pressures allowed, Beatty, in his first start of the season, provided a safety net for Eli Manning and paved the way for Andre Brown, in his first start in the NFL, to run for 113 yards. More lithe and agile than he seemed as a rookie out of UConn, Beatty's going to be a vital part of the New York offense. He showed against Carolina he's ready.

Coaches of the Week

Pat Flaherty, offensive line coach, New York Giants.

Preparing on a short week, going on the road ... those are problems enough for a team playing on a Thursday night, and playing a team that just beat up the New Orleans Saints. But add this: Flaherty had to prepare an offensive line that would be starting in tandem for the first time ever -- and with a right tackle, Sean Lockler, starting his first game at right tackle for the Giants, and with Will Beatty starting for the first time this season at left tackle.

Flaherty's the unsung hero on the Giants' coaching staff, and he proved it again Thursday night. Eli Manning was sacked once in 51 minutes of play time, and rarely under duress. A first-time starting back, Andre Brown, rushed for 113 yards, and the Giants held the ball for 36 minutes. It shouldn't be this easy, but Flaherty's line made it look that way.

Ten Things I Think I Think

s. Good instincts and intelligence, Jayron Hosley, the Giants rookie cornerback. Hosley, on a blitz of Cam Newton Thursday, wasn't faked out by the nimble Newton. Then, when he contacted Newton as he released the ball, Hosley had the presence of mind to not drive him into the ground, but to slide off him and avoid a possible roughing penalty. That was a five-year-vet play by a third-round rookie.

7. I think, in case you didn't catch my drift about Cam Newton, I objected to three things he did Thursday night, aside from playing his worst all-around game as an NFL player. One: Scoring in the third quarter to make it 23-7, and then pulling the Superman act in the end zone; bush league. Two: Setting himself apart on the bench late in the game when things were going bad, causing Steve Smith to read him the riot act for being a baby. Three: Talking postgame about the loss like his dog just died.

Bernie Kosar once had a great line about a quarterback's job once the game ends. He said the postgame interview scrum is like the fifth quarter, where you help set the agenda for your teammates and, in part, your organization, for the next week. When you do that, you can't be an all-is-lost guy, which is what Newton looked like after the Giants beat Carolina.

10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:

a. The Triple Crown is a pretty big deal. The last time it was won, 1967, I was sitting on the couch in my living room in Enfield, Conn., nerdily keeping score of the final Red Sox game of the Impossible Dream season. That's the weekend my hero, Carl Yastrzemski, went 7 for 8 as the Sox swept the Twins in a two-game series to win the pennant, and it's the weekend Yaz won the Triple Crown. (Yaz homered in the seventh Saturday, his 44th, and Harmon Killebrew followed two innings later with his 44th.) Yaz won the Crown, tying Killebrew in homers and winning the Batting and RBI titles outright. It hasn't been done in the 45 years since.

If the season ended Sunday, Miguel Cabrera would do the exact same thing -- win the batting and RBI titles, and tie Josh Hamilton for the homer run title with 42. I admire the ridiculous season of Mike Trout, but if the season were over and I had a vote, Cabrera would be my MVP.

c. Happy 63rd birthday (Sunday), Bruce Springsteen.