In a quarterback-driven league, the recipe for success is on the defensive side of the ball. Winning Super Bowls is now predicated on two things. First, do you have a quarterback that can make every throw on the field. One who is able to lead his team through adversity and back from defecits. This list of guys does not extend past 5 or 6 in my mind, the elite, upper echelon, signal callers in the NFL today. Those are, in no particluar order, Brady, Brees, Roethlisberger, Rodgers, Peyton and Eli Manning. These are the only ones to have won the Super Bowl in the past 9 years, expect similar results for the next few.
Stopping them is no easy task, as indicated by their hardware. One thing has proved to be too much for some of them to overcome, that is the oppossing teams pass rush, and ability to get them on the ground and in the passing lanes. There are five teams that do this better than the 27 other teams.
In the words of Stephen A. Smith, get ready to tap dance better than the late Gregory Hines.
Get your Novakaine ready, this one could hurt.
Steve Novak, the six-year man from Marquette, has found a home in the Garden. He saw action in 58 games last season for the New York Knicks, most of his minutes coming aafter Mike Woodson took over. Averging 18.9 minutes per game, Novak led all players in the league with a .472 shooting percentage from long range. Out of the 337 shots he took last season, 282 of them were from behind the arc, while none came at the rim. On October 11th against the Wizards, Novak was unconscious from deep, going 7-7 in an effortless performance that woke up oppossing teams if they were somehow still sleeping on him.
The high water mark of his season last year came on April 17th against the Celtics. Novak knocked down 8-10 from what seemed like 30 feet from the hoop. He finished with 25 points in a Knicks win. However, weeks later against the Heat in the first round of the NBA playoffs, Novak was stymied. He went 4-7 from distance in the five games and seemed rattled by the defense the Heat threw at him.
Analysis: Here come the Jets. Rex Ryan didn't have to tell anyone in New England they were coming to Foxboro this Sunday as the Jets head up I95 and the Mass Pike to face their heated rivals. Ryan's Jets are 3-4 against the Pats, including a AFC Divisional Round win that shocked the NFL. These aren't those Jets, and in fact, these aren't those Patriots. Both teams, along with the rest of the AFC East and seven others in the AFC, come in at 3-3. There will be no love lost between both sides come Sunday, and there wasn't any leading up to the game. Ryan said this week he dreams of the day his Jets will overtake the Patriots in the AFC East and he didn't come to Gang Green to lose to the Patriots. He went so far as to say that New England knows that he expects the Jets to win.
Analysis: They have called him Bob Griffin, Sir Robert Griffin and a few have recognized him as RGIII. The Giants defense has gone back and forth on the respect they are giving the young Redskins quarterback. Jason Pierre-Paul went so far as to reiterate not to run to his side. Osi Umenyiora asked why everyone in the NFL is giving such a cool nickname such as RGIII to a rookie who has only played six games in his NFL career. Whatever the Giants defense says to the media, inside the locker room they know this is the greatest dual threat quarterback they will face all season. One can only wonder the type of problems RGIII will possess for oppossing defenses when he has a few more snaps under center and a few years under his NFL belt. He seems to be the obvious choice to replace Eli Manning as the franchise quarterback in the NFC East in the next 5-7 years when Manning has moved on.
Analysis: When the kick went up and he saw it go through the uprights, all he could do was take off his headset and stare at the mud and grass below his feet for a brief moment before making his way to midfield to meet the coach who would represent the NFC in the Super Bowl for the second time in five years.
Jim Harbaugh knew he was beat that day by a quarterback that never seemed to waiver or worry when he was sacked six times and knocked down twelve. He went as far as to call Eli Manning a "Magician" this past week, and someone who is a "football player". Harbaugh is usually exuding confidence in his own teams performance, but the ex-play caller himself knows Manning will be at his best Sunday afternoon when he trots out his Niners defense that will try and slow him down.
Tom Coughlin called the Giants an underdog that no one would pick. Carlos Rogers vowed to have some salsa with his chips on Sunday, only to put the lid back on the jar before he even opened it (a wise decision for someone who was torched by Cruz last year in the NFC Championship).