Phil Simms spoke with Mike Francesa on the NFL Now on WFAN yesterday morning. He reviewed the two games from last weekend and talked about the NYG-NE matchup.
1) BAL. Flacco played really well. If Evans holds on to the ball, or the kicker sends the game to OT for a BAL win, the public is talking about ‘Flacco the hero.’ Instead, the Ravens lose, so Flacco continues to get the bad rap. The Ravens ‘held’ because they knew they wouldn’t be called by the officials in a championship game.
2) The NFL in 2012. 20 years ago it was about teams who dominated, so that when they got to the playoffs they could hold serve after the bye. Now, that is not necessarily the case anymore. You need breaks.
3) NYG-SF. Speaking of breaks, the Giants got them with the Special Teams mishaps of the Niners. Simms also mentioned the whistle that could have gone either way for Ahmad Bradshaw on the no-call of the Q4 fumble after the whistle. Amazingly, both offenses never turned over the ball. Re Eli taking a beating, Simms implied that getting taken down to the ground on a rain-soaked field meant a softer surface that was less punishing. Simms complimented Gilbride for being aggressive and continuing to pass the ball. Singled out the playcall in Q4 that gave the Giants the lead, the 17 yd TD pass to Mario Manningham (see below for comment).
Simms raves about the Giants WRs. Says they are better than the Packers WRs. They have size, speed, double moves, borderline great hands. Overall Simms reiterated that the Giants have more talent than the Packers as a team. Argued that Rodgers covered up for weaknesses elsewhere on the team.
In comparing the NE and NYG offensive weapons, Simms says he prefers the Giants, because they can spread it out more. The Giants can do it everywhere on the field, short, medium and long. The Patriots have Welker and the 2 TEs, so their long threat is a shorter ball and YAC. That is not like the Giants, who can also go deep. Simms prefers the Giants receivers because they give you more chances for big plays.
4) Scouting the Super Bowl. Francesa asked an interesting question and got a very good answer: What is more important for you as a player, the last four games OR the game played vs each other in Week 9. Simms answered unequivocally- the game you played against them in Week 9. Why? Because you learn things about them in the game that you cannot get on film… how long a player’s arms are, how fast a player is, or why the TE is better than we thought.
Simms made another remark in reviewing the Patriots secondary: NE needs a cornerback who can make plays, and they haven’t had that since Ty Law.
Simms reminded us that Brady fessed up after the AFC Championship and said he ‘stunk.’ Because of that, Simms believes that Brady will be extra vigilant to be physically sharp to make the throws in the Super Bowl.
5) Eli Manning. Re the leap forward in Eli’s play, sometimes it is an accumulation. But Simms did not think so. Simms said that physically Eli Manning is throwing the ball a lot better this year than he has in his first 7 seasons. It comes out of his hands, it is more powerful, it is smoother. Said he wasn’t sure what Manning did in the offseason, but knows he did something because he physically isn’t the same. Believes the 25 interceptions in 2010 were clearly a motivating factor. Notes that Eli is not afraid to throw the 11th ball when the first 10 aren’t very good.
UltimateNYG here. We feature Phil Simms here because we respect his insight. I will respectfully disagree with Simms when he excessively lauds Gilbride on the Mario Manningham TD playcall. It is 3rd and 15 from the 17. You are in FG position already, so what are you going to call? Something safe underneath? You have the same three great WRs that Simms simultaneously loves, so you MUST go for the endzone and find one of them in that situation. And besides, you are down by 4 points and the way the offense has been playing, you may not get another bonafide chance to score in this game. Remember, this “drive” was set up by the (first) turnover on Special Teams. So Gilbride’s offense wasn’t exactly lighting it up. To do anything else BUT attack into the end zone would have been negligent. One of your WRs (or possibly a TE) should have an opportunity; Manningham was still in single coverage on his cut, the ball was thrown higher and MM went up and got it.
As a reminder, Wonder had a very good scouting report on the Patriots before the Week 9 game. We probably won’t have an effective Ballard, but Tuck and JPP should be much healthier, and Nicks and Bradshaw will be playing this time. If Ballard is even 80%, you have to like the Giants chances.