NFL: Week Eleven, 2008

New York & the Quarterbacks

by Rick Rockwell

As both our culture and the songs tell us, you haven’t made it until you’ve made it in New York.

This perhaps explains Brett Favre’s decision to play out the end of his career for the New York Jets. And although Jets fans have mixed opinions of Favre, and his inconsistent performance, arguably he’s raised the team’s competitive profile and made them contenders in their division again, after a horrid 2007.

But this isn’t about Favre or the Jets. This is about that other New York team. The Giants. (Yes, Giants fans and most New Yorkers regard the Jets always as the other team. But this column is from that other city, which New Yorkers regard as the pretend capital, so we’re allowed this substitution.)

The World Champion Giants are very happy, thank you very much, with their quarterback Eli Manning. Most New Yorkers think he’s the best quarterback in town. Even though he’s the lesser known Manning brother, and his older brother has the gaudy statistics, Eli is the one with the newest Super Bowl ring. With the Giants at 7-1, and looking like the best team in the National Football Conference (NFC) if not the entire league, Eli has the inside track at heading back to the Super Bowl this year.

But the Giants are more than Manning’s arm, although his bomb at the end of the Super Bowl last year is what made his team the world champs. Look at the Giants’ crushing rushing attack, solid offensive line and fearsome group of defensive linemen and linebackers. Some might say that Manning’s maturation at quarterback was the last piece to making the Giants world champs.

What is more interesting is that Manning’s predecessors as the Giants’ quarterback are stalking him this year in the race for the playoffs.

First, there’s Kerry Collins, now the quarterback of the undefeated Tennessee Titans. At the beginning of the season, most sports pundits thought if the Titans were headed back to the playoffs it would be with Vince Young at the helm. But Collins came off the bench early in the season when Young was hurt and then suffered a crisis of confidence. Collins knows all about that from his early days with the Carolina Panthers. But now, Collins is the grizzled vet who is unrattled by the pressure. Some forget that Collins was the one who guided the Giants to the Super Bowl in 2001, but was throttled by one of the great defenses of all-time, the Baltimore Ravens of the 2000-2001 season.

After that, Collins fell out of favor in New York. After drafting Eli Manning, the Giants dumped Collins. And he was sent into football exile. He became a journeyman backup after a demotion in Oakland, but we all know how badly the Raiders have handled personnel, especially the position of quarterback. Collins is proving this year, that he can still produce at a playoff level. What happened to Collins is just another example of how teams in the National Football League (NFL) favor young quarterbacks to “build for the future” when older quarterbacks who understand blitzes and shifting coverage schemes often are the best answer. Quarterbacks usually need several years before they can operate at a high level in the NFL. Few are like Peyton Manning. Most are like his brother, Eli.

Which brings us to Kurt Warner, another aging quarterback having a wonderful year at the helm of the Arizona Cardinals. Warner has the Cardinals’ offense clicking and the team is leading the NFC West. Some pundits are talking about Warner, who led the St. Louis Rams to the Super Bowl title in 2000, as having a year that will give him consideration later for the Hall of Fame. Wouldn’t the lowly Rams want Warner back now? Warner’s finger injuries when he played for the Rams and Marc Bulger’s talent pushed St. Louis to make the wrong decision and pull the trigger on Warner too early. He drifted to the Giants, who were clear that they saw Warner as an interim starter until Eli Manning was ready. But many feel Coach Tom Coughlin dropped Warner far too early to push Manning into the starter’s role. Warner pushed onward to Arizona, another team that saw him as an interim starter until Matt Leinart could be groomed as the team’s leader. But Warner’s skills have proved too much to ignore. Currently, Warner is the highest rated quarterback in the league.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if Warner and his upstart Cardinals, or Collins and the Titans found a way to derail the Giants this year? That would certainly be payback.

Week 11 Office Pool Predictions

Game of the Week: Jets at Patriots (Patriots)
Upset Special:
Rams at 49ers (Rams)

Cowboys at Washington (Washington)
Browns at Bills (Bills)
Broncos at Falcons (Falcons)
Saints at Chiefs (Chiefs)
Bears at Packers (Packers)
Vikings at Buccaneers (Vikings)
Titans at Jaguars (Titans)
Texans at Colts (Colts)
Cardinals at Seahawks (Cardinals)
Raiders at Dolphins (Dolphins)
Chargers at Steelers (Steelers)
Eagles at Bengals (Eagles)
Ravens at Giants (Giants)
Lions at Panthers (Panthers)

Last Week: .857
2008 Season: .674

For other blogs calling NFL games, please see:

  • The D.C. Universe,
  • Gun Toting Liberal, and
  • The Liberal Journal.

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