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NEWARK STAR LEDGER
Victor Cruz Calls Redskins "Team To Beat" In NFC Playoffs
Excerpt: "It's not easy to pick a favorite in the NFC playoff race. There are teams that got hot down the stretch -- the Redskins, Vikings and Seahawks -- and a favorite like No. 1 seed Atlanta.
Victor Cruz's pick? The Giants played four of the conference's six playoff teams this year, but Cruz likes their divisional rival Redskins this postseason.
"It’s tough for me to say this because we play in the same division as them, but I think Washington is having a good year," the Giants receiver said on WFAN Radio yesterday.
"They’re having a year similar to us last year where they’re kicking up at the right time. They’re playing some good football. Typically the team that is playing the best towards the end of the year is the team that is going to potentially win it all." Read more...
NY DAILY NEWS
Cruz "Positive" About New Contract With Giants
Excerpt: "Victor Cruz feels he’s proven his worth to the Giants both on and off the field, and he remains “positive” that he’ll soon get the long-term contract he’s been seeking.THE NEW YORK POST
Though it didn’t get done before the end of the regular season as he had wanted, Cruz reiterated his hope on Wednesday that the “tabled” negotiations will soon re-open. In an interview on WFAN, he said he’s “comfortable” with where the talks stand and added “I feel positive that I’m going to be in New York for a very long time.”
“I feel comfortable where we’re at," Cruz said. “I think I’ve done enough to show them I’m a good guy on and off the field, and that I’ve done everything positive up until this point to prove that I’m somebody that the organization will want to keep around for a long time.
“So I’m comfortable in that. I’m positive things will come around and a positive outcome will come out of all this.’’
Cruz, who followed up his record-setting 2011 (1,536 receiving yards) with a Pro Bowl season in 2012 (86 catches, 1,092 yards, 10 touchdowns) is due to become a restricted free agent when the signing period opens on March 12. If he doesn’t have a new deal in place by then, the Giants almost certainly will use give him a “first-round” tender offer, which would guarantee him nearly $3 million in 2013.
That would also give the Giants the right to match any offer he receives as a restricted free agent, and the right to a first-round pick as compensation from the team that signs him if they don’t match.
The two sides would appear to prefer to reach a long-term agreement before then, and talks were opened during the regular season. At one point Cruz said the “structure” of a deal was in place, but clearly there was more work to be done.
“It got tabled for a couple weeks, mainly because of the two sides agreeing to disagree at the same time," Cruz said. "But now that the season’s over and the statistics are what they are, I think we’re going to get back and pick up the pen again and see what we can do." Read more...
Bradshaw Runs Into Doubts
Excerpt: "Ahmad Bradshaw says he’ll be “a Giant forever.” But he can’t say for sure that he’ll be in a Giants uniform next season.
Bradshaw rushed for more than 1,000 yards for the second time in his career, and he says he’s entering the offseason in relatively good health. But to hear him talk about it, his reward for that performance could be a dismissal from the only team he’s ever known.
“You just never know who won’t be back next year,” Bradshaw said as he cleaned out his locker earlier this week. “Including me.”
The statement may have seemed odd, especially since Bradshaw has two years remaining on the four-year extension that he signed in the summer of 2011. But the 26-year-old running back clearly doesn’t believe that his role in New York is secure. He spoke the same way immediately after Sunday’s season finale, saying that “this was going to be the last ride for a lot of guys to be Giants” and “it could be me by the same token.” Read more...
Victor Cruz Expected to Seek $8 - 10 Million Per Season
Excerpt: "Victor Cruz has done enough to convince the Giants he deserves to be wearing his No. 80 jersey and doing his salsa in the end zone for a long time. It is going to cost the Giants dearly, though, to get him locked up with a multi-year deal.
Cruz is set to become a restricted free agent and he’s not going anywhere, as the Giants know they cannot operate their offense without his skills at receiver. They would likely tender him on a one-year deal if they cannot agree on a long-term contract.After playing for the NFL minimums the past three years, Cruz won’t come cheap, not after two outstanding seasons by a 26-year-old on the upside of his career. His asking price is expected to be somewhere between $8 million and $10 million per year. Cruz made $540,000 this season and the last two years he has been the greatest bargain in the league.
“I think I feel comfortable where we’re at,’’ Cruz said yesterday on his weekly WFAN spot. “I think I’ve done enough to show them I’m a good guy on and off the field and I’ve done everything positive up until this point to prove that I’m somebody the organization will want to keep around for a long time. I’m positive things will come around and a positive outcome will come out of all this.’’
Cruz has previously said he wanted a new deal in place before the end of the season and revealed weeks ago that he believed the structure for such a deal was in place. Talks, he reported, “got tabled for a couple weeks mainly because the two sides agreeing to disagree at the same time. Now that the season is over and the statistics are what they are I think we’re gonna get back and pick up the pen again and see what we can do.’’Cruz is one of 22 free agents for the Giants to sort through but he figures to be a top priority. Fellow receiver Hakeem Nicks was slowed all season with foot and ankle issues, allowing opposing defenses to swing the attention to Cruz. Still, he caught 86 passes for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns, all team highs. He hasn’t missed a game in two years.
A year ago, the free agent market produced some hefty salaries for receivers and Cruz will benefit from that spending spree. After all, he compares favorably to DeSean Jackson (five years, $47 million), Robert Meachem (four years, $25.9 million) and Pierre Garcon (five years, $42.5 million). Cruz’ two-year totals (168 catches, 2,628 yards, 19 touchdowns) are better than any two seasons put together by Vincent Jackson and he signed a five year, $55.6 million mega deal with the Buccaneers." Read more...
Giants Hope To Avoid Brownout With Young Safety
Excerpt: "Stevie Brown is set to become a restricted free agent and, given the season he just gave the Giants, how can they move forward without re-signing him?
The season is over and done with for the Giants, but the hits keep coming for Brown, who yesterday was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week, the first Giants safety to receive that honor twice in a season.Brown, 25, finished up a breakthrough first year with the Giants in style. On the fifth play of last Sunday’s 42-7 victory over the Eagles, Brown intercepted a Michael Vick pass and returned it 48 yards, setting up the Giants’ first touchdown. Brown also had six solo tackles, matching Chase Blackburn for the team lead.
Signed as primarily a special teams player, Brown started 11 games, as Kenny Phillips was mostly out of the lineup with knee issues. Brown made the most of his playing time, leading the team with eight interceptions, second in the NFL behind Tim Jennings of the Bears, who had nine. The eight interceptions were the most by a Giant since Willie Williams had 10 in 1968. Brown previously played for the Raiders and Colts and in 23 career games did not have any interceptions.
“Stevie had an outstanding season and became a ball-hawk for us,’’ Antrel Rolle said on WFAN. “It just seemed like he had a magnet for the ball. It was crazy.
’’What happens next with Brown is probably tied to what the Giants do with Phillips, who after five seasons is an unrestricted free agent and seems headed elsewhere. Asked if he thinks he needs a change of scenery, Phillips laughed and said, “I just got to wait and see what happens.’’ Read more...
THE BERGEN RECORD
NEW YORK TIMES
WALL STREET JOURNAL
Maybe they would finally be able to break out of their shell, play with consistency and become perennial title contenders. Maybe Eli Manning would take another step towards solidifying a place in Canton. Maybe Jason Pierre-Paul would emerge as the next Lawrence Taylor and maybe this team could repeat as Super Bowl champions.
Giants' Antrel Rolle" "Just Want To Apologize For A Letdown"
Excerpt: "Talent. It's what makes the NFL go 'round. Every team wants it, not every team has it, and even some who are fortunate enough to acquire it still find a way to fall flat on their face. Talent is one of many words that can be used to describe the 2012 New York Giants, and it is also what gave fans hope heading into the season that this team would be different.
None of those "maybe's" came to fruition this year. Today, safety Antrel Rolle apologized on behalf of his teammates for the colossal failure that was the 2012 season.
"Just want to apologize for a letdown," Rolle said on WFAN. "Unfortunately, we came up a little bit short this year. Something that pretty much caught all of us by surprise."
Rolle was the leader of a secondary that ranked 28th in the league in yards given up through the air. It's hard to pin the blame on any one player, because there were breakdowns throughout the entire unit. The pass rush was non-existent, Corey Webster was atrocious and Kenny Phillips missed over half the season with a knee injury. This unit was rarely, if ever, at full strength and there was not enough depth to account for any shortcomings." Read more...
Giants' Marc Ross To Interview For San Diego Chargers' GM Position
Excerpt: "Director of College Scouting, Marc Ross, has been a valuable member of the New York Giants staff since 2007. He has helped the Giants earn the reputation for being one of the top drafting teams in the NFL, and has helped General Manager Jerry Reese become one of the top GM's in the league. His keen eye for talent has earned him interviews for several open GM positions, the latest being the San Diego Chargers, as reported by Mike Garafolo." Read more...
Cruz: Contract Talks Tabled During Season
Excerpt: "Victor Cruz remains positive that he will receive a new deal from the New York Giants.
But the wide receiver said during his weekly spot on WFAN that both sides opted to put contract talks aside during the season after "agreeing to disagree."
"It got tabled for a couple weeks, mainly because of the two sides agreeing to disagree at the same time," Cruz said. "So it had been tabled for a couple weeks, but now that the season’s over and the statistics are what they are, I think we’re going to get back and pick up the pen again and see what we can do."
Cruz had said earlier in the season that parameters of an extension were in place. But neither side could come to an agreement on an extension.
Cruz finished the season with 86 receptions for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns and is heading to the Pro Bowl. He will be a restricted free agent in 2013 but remains positive about a long-term deal." Read more...
Eli Says He "Needed To Play Better"
Excerpt: "Eli Manning had two of the best games he has ever had this season.
He set career-highs of 510 yards passing against Tampa Bay and threw for five touchdowns in the season finale against Philadelphia.
But overall, 2012 was a bit of a step back for Manning. Coming off his best season ever in 2011, Manning failed to throw for 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns for the first time since 2008.
“I don’t think it was as good as it needed to be,” Manning said on his weekly appearance on WFAN radio of his play this past season. “I think there were a couple of games where (I) wasn’t as on and I needed to play better.”
As hot as Manning got in the Tampa and Philadelphia wins, he also went ice cold at times.
He had a three-game touchdown drought in the middle of the season -– the worst stretch since his rookie season which sparked speculation of a tired arm –- and threw for one touchdown or less in 10 games this season.
Manning admitted that Hakeem Nicks’ knee injury robbed the offense of a lot.
“Not having Hakeem 100 percent for most of the season really the last 10 weeks can hurt,” Manning said. “He is out there playing hurt and you love that toughness about him.
“It just made it tough when you are starting a receiver who’s got to win those one-on-one matchups and is your deep threat and playmaker,” Manning continued. “It can be tough to adjust to that and timing was off on a number of things.”
Not having a consistent third receiving threat also hurt as the Giants struggled to replace Mario Manningham.
Manning said having the stability of the same head coach and offensive coordinator beside him will help in the offseason." Read more...
BIG BLUE VIEW
Giants 42, Eagles 7: Hits Misses, And Musings
Excerpt: "I spent the better part of my ride home from Sunday night’s game trying to think of a fitting analogy to best describe the Giants’ 2012 season.
I finally settled on a childhood favorite of mine, the fable of The Tortoise and the Hare by Aesop, which, if you’re not familiar, you can read here.Of if you’d rather have the condensed version of the tale, the gist of the story is that the hare, thinking he had all the time in the world to beat the tortoise in a race, decided to slack off only to awaken when it was too late – and to find that the tortoise, whom no one would have even imagined could beat a hare in a footrace, had indeed won.
So what does this have to do with the Giants’ 2012 season?
Repeatedly, we heard the players say after a loss that they weren’t worried, that the season was a marathon and not a sprint.It was almost as though they were shrugging off that, like the hare in the fable, they had perhaps grown fat with their positive press clippings that came with being the defending Super Bowl champions or that perhaps someone would stumble, and all would be right again.
It didn’t work out that way, and the Giants, after a disappointing second half of the season that saw two uninspired and forgettable losses to the Falcons and the Ravens, awoke from their slumber to thump the Eagles into oblivion.But it was too late. Gone was having destiny in their hand. And with that, gone was their chance of defending their world title.It’s a harsh lesson, but one that the Giants faithful can only hope that, whichever players are back next year, remembers and passes down to any of the new players who are coming in via free agency or the draft.
There are many hits to be handed out despite the Giants failed to get into the playoffs. Here are a few that stick out the most to me.
There must be something to playing against the Eagles for linebacker Chase Blackburn, who earlier in the season had one of his best games against Philly and who had yet another good game in the regular season finale. The Giants’ best pass rusher, Blackburn was all over the place, very nearly sacking quarterback Michael Vick., And when he wasn’t harassing Vick, he was limiting the damage LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown tried to inflict against the Giants run defense.What was particularly impressive with Blackburn is that of his seven tackles, the majority came at or near the line of scrimmage and not seven or more yards down field, as we had seen from others on the defense in previous weeks.
I don’t know what the future holds for Blackburn, an unrestricted free agent, but he’s definitely one of the most underappreciated linebackers out there.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride split the carries between David Wilson and Ahmad Bradshaw, and guess what? both were effective, especially Bradshaw, who has operated on one leg almost all season. by reducing the workload, he was kept fresh, and boy did he look pretty good in the process.
Assuming he returns next season – right now it’s probably 50/50 as he’ll likely have to take a pay cut – I hope that he considers following his lead blocking a bit better than he did at times this year.
A solid showing from Martellus Bennett, who mostly blocked in this one and did so effectively. He spoke the day after about how he hoped to be back next year – he’s an unrestricted free agent – because he believes that another year in this offense will put him and Eli Manning together on the same page, something that wasn’t always evident this year.
People like to pick on offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride – why I honestly don’t know – but give him and the rest of the staff credit for aggressively going after the Eagles’ defense’s weak link, the linebackers, who were at fault for a couple of big Giants pass gains, including one of Manning’s five touchdown throws that came on a wheel route.
I thought both Giants offensive tackles turned in good games.
David Diehl, who went up against DE Brandon Graham, needed very little help and while Graham was successful with some early game pressures, credit Diehl for tightening his bootstraps and shutting the youngster down.
Will Beatty was almost spotless in his showing. I don’t think we heard Trent Cole’s name uttered once – and that’s saying a lot considering Cole is one of the Eagles’ best pass rusher, if not their best. While Beatty appeared to be the guilty part who yielded the Eagles’ lone sack, it was hard to tell if Philip Hunt, the linebacker was supposed to be blocked by Kevin Boothe.
And how can I forget the entire organization for reaching out to the Sandy Hook Elementary School community?
The Giants hosted roughly 200 teachers, parents, students, and administrators, making them a big part of the pregame ceremony and it was just one of the most touching things I’ve witnessed.
To see all those little bundled up children — well let’s just say I didn’t need my binoculars to take note of how wide their eyes were in getting the opportunity to mingle with their heroes. It was simply an awesome way to pay tribute to a community that was rocked to its core by a senseless act of violence that we might never understand.
And along those lines, kudos to the Eagles, who were just as responsive as when they ran out of the tunnel trough the group assembled on their side, their players stopped to high-five all the children. As one of my colleagues had said at the time, that was a sure-fired way to stop the crowd from booing, and sure enough, the Giants fans, always classy, did just that.
Finally, love him or hate him, former Eagles head coach Andy Reid had a tough season, both personally and professionally. Perhaps the most devastating blow to him was losing his son Garrett back in August, an occurrence that no parent should have to go through.Yet Reid somehow found the strength to carry on and continue to coach, even as the team around him was falling apart. Sure, he’s gotten the better of the Giants these past few years, but I think we can all agree that what he went through what with losing his son puts everything into perspective." Read more...
THE RED ZONE.
NFL Trade Rumors - NFL CAP Space
Excerpt: "Here’s a look at the NFL cap space for each team. Remember that these numbers are very fluid which is why it’s so hard to get a concrete total at a given time.
This information was provided by Pro Football Talk. These totals are as of November 1st, 2012.
NFC East:" Read more...
Cowboys: $3.7 million
Giants: $2.2 million
Eagles: $20.1 million
Redskins: $3.3 million
Raven's Lews To Retire
Andy Reid To Cardinals?