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Giants QB Eli Manning

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Quarterback Nick Foles quickly took to coach Chip Kelly’s offense in Philadelphia, passing for 27 TDs with only two picks.

Elise Amendola • Associated Press,

Cowboys coach Jasson Garrett, in the last year of his contract, has delivered exactly zero playoff appearances to owner Jerry Jones.

Gus Ruelas • Associated Press,

It would behoove Giants quarterback Eli Manning to have a bounce-back season, especially after throwing 27 interceptions in 2013.

Chris Howell • Associated Press,

Predicting the NFC

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG
  • Star Tribune
  • September 3, 2014 - 6:48 AM

– even possibly too poised – to repeat

Signs say Seattle?

It’s so hard to pick Seattle to repeat as Super Bowl champions because it makes too much sense. And the NFL’s popularity is built on Fantasy Football, gambling and things not making sense.

The Seahawks were a young champion a year ago. They’re amazingly intact. The Legion of Boom secondary is dominant and then some. They can still rush the passer. Their running game is top shelf. And their quarterback is young, poised, elusive, confident, accurate and, oh yeah, underpaid — for now, at least.

But it has been 10 years now since the Patriots were the last team to repeat.

Signs say Seattle. And that’s probably a bad sign in this league.

Jason & Jerry, final chapter?

If Adrian Peterson’s alleged desire to play for the Cowboys includes hangin’ with Jason Garrett, he’s probably out of luck, barring a midseason trade and switch to the defensive line.

Garrett is 29-27 and hasn’t done much besides perfect the art of finishing 8-8 and never reaching the playoffs. His contract is up after this season, which appears to be primed for a lot of passing offense and an even more laughable defense than a year ago, if that’s even possible.

Eli? Is that you?

Is it us or does everyone get that urge to doubt Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning every three or four years? Then they win a Super Bowl and for some reason the feeling goes away.

Well, they haven’t hoisted a trophy since way back in February of 2012. And things could be better for Eli.

Example: In Oakland this week, Matt Schaub lost his starting job to rookie second-round draft pick Derek Carr. This is the same Matt Schaub whose 2013 passer rating (73.0) ranked two spots higher than Manning’s 61st-ranked 69.4.

Manning did complete a lot of passes. But a league-high 27 of them went to the wrong team, including three for touchdowns.

Even Mannings don’t play forever. And this one is only signed through 2015. In other words, now, Eli, would be another good time to win a Super Bowl.

It’s the system, right Chip?

Confidence in your system is getting rid of a DeSean Jackson when the pain in your buttocks becomes too great and then not caring when he ends up with a division rival.

Evidence that your system works is watching Nick Foles come out of nowhere to lead the league in yards per attempt (9.1) while throwing for 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions in 10 starts.

But you just know that some are probably looking at Eagles coach Chip Kelly and thinking, “Oh yeah, prove it again.” Prove that last year’s 10-6 transformation wasn’t the result of a quirky breakneck offense with a short shelf life. And, while you’re at it, prove that it can be done with Jackson in Washington.

Don’t underestimate Kelly’s offense. Especially if his run defense, which ranked 10th a year ago, can keep the other team from resting its defense.

Lovie, Leslie & Tampa 2

Anyone who follows the Vikings closely has been treated to an almost daily explanation of why Mike Zimmer’s multifaceted defense is the way to go and why the more conservative Tampa 2 scheme that was a team staple since 2006 belongs in a museum next to leather helmets.

Well, there are places where the Tampa 2 still is revered. Look no further than, well, Tampa.

Former Bears coach and current Bucs coach Lovie Smith and former Vikings coach and current Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier have teamed up to strike a blow for the Tampa 2. Smith won an NFC title with it in Chicago, while Frazier probably came within a 12th man in the huddle of doing the same thing at New Orleans as Vikings defensive coordinator.

The Bucs have standout playmakers at all three levels of the defense and an offense that might be complimentary enough to help them become the seventh NFC South team to need only one year to go from worst to first.

Milestones ahead

With his season averages of 1,445 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns rushing and receiving, the Vikings’ Peterson would move into the top 18 on the all-time career list. He would go from 27th in rushing yards (10,115) to 16th or 17th, depending on what Steven Jackson does ahead of him this year. He would pass the likes of O.J. Simpson and John Riggins. As for touchdowns, he’d go from 30th (91) to 18th and pass people named Tony Dorsett, Eric Dickerson, Franco Harris, Curtis Martin, Steve Largent and Don Hutson.

MARK CRAIG





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