Giants defense has reason to think it matches up well

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The Giants defense is confident heading into the Super Bowl. It should be.

The last Super Bowl win doesn’t matter, but the Giants defense put up a dominant effort against New England for three quarters back in November.

New England’s first eight possessions in that game included zero points, a missed field goal, three turnovers, and four punts. The Giants had Tom Brady scrambled.

“He thrives on mismatches,” Tuck said of Brady on Tuesday via “And I think we match up well with them. With those tight ends and Wes [Welker] and [Deion] Branch, they can pretty much go with any route that they want to go with creating mismatches. The people that we have in our secondary, we have safeties that play like corners and we can pretty much match up with those guys.”

It’s a great point. The Giants are fairly well equipped to deal with the Patriots tight ends because of Kenny Phillips, Antrel Rolle, and Deon Grant. All three did a nice job in coverage against New England in the first game. They were very physical.

“I think we match up extremely well. We have a great group of guys on our defensive side of the ball and they have a great group of guys on the offensive side of the ball,” Rolle said.

The Giants mixed coverages well against Brady. Their pass rush wasn’t dominant; they just played sound defense. Brady missed some throws until he figured out what the Giants were doing late in the game.  New England exploded for 17 points in the fourth quarter.

We agree with the Giants defenders; they match up well.

They just have to hope that the first three quarters of the regular season matchup told us more than the last quarter.

Manning to 49ers could be tricky to pull off

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With all signs pointing to Peyton Manning and the Colts heading for a divorce, the question becomes whether, and when, Peyton will pick a new bride.

The Cardinals, Dolphins, and Jets have been mentioned as possible destinations.  If, however, Peyton plans to try to win more Super Bowls, the best team most in need of an upgrade at quarterback could be the 49ers.

Apart from the intriguing tentacles (Manning succeeding San Fran coach Jim Harbaugh as the Colts quarterback, Harbaugh coached the likely next Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck, at Stanford) and the question of whether Manning would move his wife and infant twins to California, the 49ers have the defense, the running game, and the fiery head coach to help Manning add to his one ring.

But here’s where it gets tricky for the 49ers.  With starting quarterback Alex Smith due to be a free agent on March 13 and the Colts not forced to make a decision on Manning until March 8, the 49ers could lose Smith if they don’t move quickly on Manning, who may not be fully healthy at that point.

That’s why the best fit for Manning could be a team that already has a starting quarterback under contract for 2012, giving the team some flexibility because there’s already a Plan A in place.  Then, that team could do either what the Jets did to Chad Pennington in 2008 or what the Vikings did to Tarvaris Jackson in 2009 and 2010, if this year’s Plan A+ comes to town.

The 49ers could pull it off by re-signing Smith to a manageable deal, which would leave enough cap room to bring in Manning later.  As Rosenthal pointed out Tuesday, Smith’s performance in the NFC title game could mean that the 49ers won’t have to break the bank in order to keep him around.

PFT Live 1/25: Rick Stroud, PFT Planet

Mike Florio talks to Tampa Bay Times reporter Rick Stroud about the Bucs search for a new head coach, how they missed out on Chip Kelly and who they are looking at now. Mike also answers viewer questions about who the Broncos might go to for their opening defensive coordinator position, Peyton Manning’s future, the possibility of Eric Mangini’s return to the NFL, and more.


Those who made death threats against Kyle Williams should be prosecuted


In the old days, death threats were made in one of three ways:  (1) face-to-face; (2) by phone; or (3) by letter.  The advantage of the last two options (for the person making the threats) is that the threats could be made anonymously, and without fear of prosecution.

Nowadays, there’s a fourth avenue:  the Internet.  But regardless of whether the death threat comes via a dummy email address or an account on Twitter or Facebook, the sender can be tracked down by the authorities.

In the case of the death threats supposedly made against 49ers receiver Kyle Williams after his miscues in the NFC title game, the authorities should track down the information, and prosecute those who made the threats to the full extent of the law.  If behavior like that is tolerated, it will be repeated.  Conversely, if these threats are made and the only reaction is a shrug and/or an acceptance that indignities like this go with the territory, the threats will continue.  And they’ll intensify.

At some point, a failure to prevent these kinds of threats could result in someone feeling sufficiently emboldened to take action, and we could have our own Andrés Escobar situation.

Trent Richardson lands with CAA


CAA beefed up its agent stable last year with the addition of Jimmy Sexton.  They’re now beefing up their portfolio of clients with Alabama running back Trent Richardson.

Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal reports that Richardson has signed with Sexton and Ben Dogra of CAA.

Viewed as a potential top-five pick (although that’s too high in today’s game for anyone not named Barry Sanders or Walter Payton), Richardson gives CAA a fairly significant consolation prize in the failed quest for former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, who’ll be represented by a family member who parlayed that relationship into a job with Wasserman Media Group.

With Goodell extended, all eyes turn to NFLPA and De Smith

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The lockout ended in late July.  In December, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell received a reward in the form of seven years of job security.

In contrast, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has a contract that is due to expire in roughly seven weeks.

It’s unknown whether the players will choose to keep Smith.  Before a fight for the job can crystallize, someone will have to emerge as an alternative candidate.  If no one else runs against Smith, he’ll get the extension by default.

Regardless of how it plays out, the ball will get rolling soon.  The NFLPA holds an annual press conference during Super Bowl week, and the topic of De Smith’s job security definitely will be an issue, especially in light of Goodell’s extension.

As to the potential impact of Goodell’s extension on the willingness of the players to keep Smith, it could go either way.  On one hand, the players could perceive that the owners believe they “won” the work stoppage, which would make the players leery about keeping Smith.  On the other hand, the players could feel compelled to publicly embrace Smith on an “us, too” basis in order to justify their past faith in De Smith.

Goodell grateful: “It’s the only place I’ve ever wanted to work”

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The five-year extension for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell inspired a lot of quick reaction from PFT Planet, much of it not overly positive. (Then again, a comments section isn’t the place to search for sunshine and light.)

Goodell’s reaction to the news, of course, is rather positive.

“It’s the only place I’ve ever wanted to work,” Goodell said via NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. “I’m grateful to owners, staff, players and coaches . . . truly a team effort.”

The 32 NFL owners released a statement together:

“The commissioner has performed his duties in an exemplary fashion since his election in 2006.”

Goodell stubbed his toe occasionally since taking over, but I tend to agree with the owners. He took over an extremely successful league and things have only grown since 2006.  The lockout ended before major damage happened. We’re guaranteed ten years of labor peace.

It’s not an easy job and it shouldn’t be for the insane money Goodell makes. Ultimately, Goodell seems to keep his eye on the best interests of the league while keeping his 32 bosses happy.

Roger Goodell gets five-year contract extension through 2018 season

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has come a long way since he was making a $1 salary during the lockout.

Daniel Kaplan of the SportsBusiness Journal reports that Goodell’s contract has been extended five years through the 2018 season. (It expires in March of 2019.) His previous deal was set to expire in March of 2014.

The NFL escaped the lockout without any lasting damage, equipped with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that ultimately helped out the finances of the owners. The league’s massive new television deals likely helped to secure Goodell’s future.

Kaplan notes that Goodell made roughly $10 million-per-year before this news, and it’s safe to assume he’ll get a pay bump now. Goodell took over in 2006 and will have run the league for 13 years by the end of his contract.

His predecessor Paul Tagliabue had the job 17 years before stepping down.

UPDATE: 12:14 p.m. ET: The league confirmed the news. “I speak on behalf of 32 NFL club owners in saying we are fortunate to have Roger Goodell as our commissioner,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank told Kaplan.

Panthers want to know if Chudzinski is still a candidate for Bucs job


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are taking their time about hiring their next head coach, which means the candidates who are currently employed by other teams have put their offseasons in something of a holding pattern.

One candidate is Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, and that means the Panthers don’t know whether they’re going to have to be in the market for a new offensive coordinator in the weeks ahead. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera wishes he could find out already.

“Believe me, I’d love to know just so we can go forward,” Rivera told the Tampa Bay Times. “We’ve got a lot of things we have to do and we’ve kind of put [them] off during this whole period.”

There’s no reason for the Bucs to speed up the process just to placate the Panthers, but this situation does demonstrate how a team with a head-coaching vacancy can mess with the offseasons of other teams simply by stringing their assistants along. The Buccaneers have indicated that they won’t rush to hire a head coach, so Rivera and Chudzinski may not hear anything any time soon.

PFT Live: Rick Stroud, PFT Planet

Wednesday’s PFT Live will talk about the latest developments in the Bucs coaching search.

Rick Stroud of the newly named Tampa Bay Times joins the show to talk about the latest with the Buccaneers.

We will also be taking your calls at 888-237-5269 around 12:15 p.m. ET.

Watch the show live right here.

Peyton Manning enjoyed respite from Colts facility


Peyton Manning’s revealing interview with Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star wasn’t the only conversation Manning had with the media on Monday evening.

Manning also spoke with Judy Battista of the New York Times, in an article that ran in Wednesday’s paper.

The focus of the article is Peyton’s trip to San Francisco and appreciation of his brother Eli’s play with the Giants. Peyton argues that Eli isn’t necessarily playing any better this year than normal because he’s always been played so well.

The entire piece is worth checking out, but the most interesting portions were those that shed light on Peyton’s future.

“There’s a reason Eli and [Giants offensive coordinator Kevin] Gilbride have been together for so long, because Gilbride has called good plays and Eli has played well. Me and Tom Moore earned the right to stay together. It’s a compliment to Eli and Gilbride. If you call good plays and it’s working, they shouldn’t want to fire you,” Manning said.

Moore was gently pushed aside in Indianapolis after the 2010 season. Manning says no one in the Colts building knows who is going to be fired next.

Manning’s message to Kravitz was rather clear. Just in case we missed it, he sounded many of the same themes to the New York Times.

“It’s not the kind of environment you like to be in. It was fun to get out of town,” Manning said.

Lions’ Johnny Culbreath arrested for marijuana possession

Lions backup offensive tackle Johnny Culbreath was arrested on Monday for possession of marijuana.

The Times and Democrat reports that Culbreath was charged with simple possession of marijuana in Orangeburg County, South Carolina. He has already paid a fine of $412 to end the case.

According to the report, Culbreath was staying at the Country Inn and Suites, where a hotel clerk called the police to report that a guest was using marijuana. Surveillance videos had shown Culbreath putting something in a hallway drawer, and when the police asked him what he put in there, he answered, “two blunts.” Police then found what they described as “a small plastic bag with plant material” in the table.

Culbreath was the Lions’ seventh-round pick in last year’s NFL draft, but he never played after being placed on injured reserve with an unspecified illness just before the start of the season.

Jack Del Rio could land in Denver


With Dennis Allen leaving Denver for Oakland, Broncos coach John Fox needs a new defensive coordinator.

Fox may wind up hiring someone that was his old defensive coordinator in Carolina. NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora reports Jack Del Rio has emerged a candidate to replace Allen.

Del Rio was Fox’s coordinator with the Panthers in 2002 before landing the head coaching job in Jacksonville. It’s a little unclear if Del Rio wants to coach in 2012 or move his family from Jacksonville. He’s still collecting money from the Jaguars, so choosing to work elsewhere is essentially choosing to work for free. (If Del Rio earned $1 million in Denver, he’d make $1 million less from the Jaguars.)

Then again, most coaches simply want to work. Raheem Morris, Tony Sparano, and Steve Spaganuolo are all back in the league. They didn’t want to sit at home and collect money.

Scoreboard is operated by home team, but Ravens still shouldn’t complain

In response to last night’s item regarding the suggestion by Ravens kicking consultant Randy Brown, whose job presumably consists of yelling “Oyage!” from the sideline (thanks for the inspiration, Fritzy), of scoreboard manipulation in Foxborough, several of you have insisted that the Patriots couldn’t have deliberately displayed false information because the league, not the Patriots, operates the scoreboard.

Unfortunately, that’s not accurate.  NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told PFT via email this morning that the home team operates the scoreboard.

I mention this reluctantly, because I firmly believe that, even if the Patriots intentionally put up the wrong number in order to confound Cundiff (and I strongly, strongly doubt they did), the Ravens should have relied on their own assessment of the situation — or at a minimum the large sticks with the number on top of them.

“The scoreboard was one down behind, the entire last three plays, from what we understand,” Brown told WIP radio on Tuesday.  “I don’t think you can rule anything out in New England, can you?

Aiello said the league would have no comment on Brown’s comments.  But the league frowns upon baseless accusations of cheating, as the Jets and special-teams coordinator Mike Westhoff learned after the Sal Alosi incident in December 2010.  Westhoff suggested that the Dolphins and Patriots also try to trip or impede “gunners” who stray toward the sidelines.  Jets owner Woody Johnson later called Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and Patriots owner Robert Kraft to apologize.

In this case, regardless of what the league does or doesn’t do, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti should be making a call to Massachusetts.  Right after he finds out precisely why in the hell his team employs a “kicking consultant.”

After loss, Ray Lewis told Ravens: This makes us stronger

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After the Ravens lost the AFC Championship Game to the Patriots, Ray Lewis said publicly that he will not retire. And in a private moment with his teammates, he sounded even more fired up to keep going.

When the Ravens joined together in the locker room after the game, Lewis insisted that the team had to use the bitter taste of a tough loss as a reason to unite and build a better team next season.

“We’ve got to come back and go to work, to make sure we finish it next time,” Lewis said. “This right here makes us stronger. Let’s understand who we are as a team. Let’s understand who we are as men. And let’s make somebody smile when we walk out of here. We’ve got the opportunity to keep going, men. Let’s be stronger as a team, man. Let’s be who we are.”

It was the kind of inspirational message that shows why Lewis has long been viewed not only as one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history but also as one of the greatest team leaders in NFL history. You can hear Lewis’s speech here.