Tag Archive for Tony Romo

2012 NFL Predictions: Who is This Year’s Eli Manning?

Could Jay Cutler lead the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl in 2012?

Let’s be completely honest for a second here; no one thought that Eli Manning and the New York Giants were going to win the Super Bowl last year.  They lost in Week 1 to Rex Grossman and the Washington Redskins and were at 6-6 and losers of four straight heading into a Week 14 matchup in Dallas against the Cowboys.

However, this team, led by Manning’s spectacular play, squeaked into the playoffs, dismantled the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers, tiptoed past the San Francisco 49ers and hoisted the Lombardi Trophy after beating the heavily favored New England Patriots.

No one saw that coming, not even the most die-hard Giants’ fan in the country.

So, who could be this year’s Eli Manning?  Which quarterback could propel his team to the playoffs with a late surge, play incredible football throughout the playoffs and enter the conversation as one of the premier quarterbacks in the league?

Here’s a look at three quarterbacks who could be the 2012 version of Eli Manning.

 

Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

We’ll start with a quarterback in the same division as Manning who has received even more criticism than Manning in Romo.

There is no doubting the amount of talent that the Cowboys have on both sides of the ball, but much like the Giants of last year, they have a tendency to play down to opponents at times.  While the majority of the blame always ends up on Romo’s shoulders, the reality is that only a fraction of it should.

If this team can get hot at the end of the season thanks to Romo and his numerous weapons, we could definitely see him holding the Super Bowl MVP trophy come next season.

 

Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

Few teams have been as up-and-down in recent seasons as the Chargers.  They’ll either start the season extremely hot and finish 8-8 or start the season 0-4 and finish 10-6.  The play of the entire team seems to line right up with the play of their quarterback, Rivers.

When Rivers is on and focused, there is little doubt that he is a premier quarterback in the NFL.  Unfortunately for the Chargers, it seems that Rivers is never as ready as need in the playoffs, as is evident by his 3-4 record since 2006.

However, should Rivers get hot towards the end of the season, and his offense can stay healthy, he could lead the Chargers to their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history.

 

Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears

Cutler has been steadily improving since coming to Chicago before the 2009 season, and he actually had the Bears in playoff contention before breaking his thumb and missing the last six games of the season.

This year Cutler is back and has a familiar weapon to play with in Brandon Marshall.  It is the first time he’s had an elite receiver to throw to in Chicago, and my guess is that they’ll be a dangerous combination in the pass-happy NFC North.

The difficulty for Culter will be beating out the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions for a playoff spot.  Granted, the AFC North sent three teams to the playoffs last year, but the NFC is deeper this year.

As long as Cutler can keep his interceptions down, he’ll have a great chance to sneak into the playoffs, and with that defense behind him, the Bears could be extremely dangerous come January.

 

 

Why the Philadelphia Eagles Will Win the NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles

Prematurely dubbed the “Dream Team,” the Philadelphia Eagles failed mightily in fulfilling that lofty moniker in 2011.

In free agency, the Eagles landed arguably the most coveted free agent in Nnamdi Asomugha, in addition to netting Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin, Ronnie Brown, Vince Young and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (via Kevin Kolb trade). They already featured an offense stacked with playmakers. Now they had fortified the secondary and defensive line.

Oh, how that potential went ever so unrealized.

Despite winning the last four games of the season to finish 8-8 after a dismal 1-4 start, this was a season rife with questionable coaching, defensive breakdowns, contract disputes and a glaring lack of cohesion.

And to think, the NFC East was so ripe for the taking as the Giants won the division at just 9-7, one game ahead in the standings.

As it currently stands, the Eagles have seemed to ameliorate their burdensome situation with an immensely successful draft and by locking up key players.

More to the point, they have put themselves in position to win the NFC East in a football savvy and fiscally responsible manner (i.e. an intelligent draft strategy).

They alleviated their greatest deficiency at middle linebacker by selecting Mychal Kendricks in the second round of the NFL Draft. Incumbent Jamar Chaney was awful and ranked near the bottom of all MLBs according to ProFootballFocus (and any observer with a working pair of eyes for that matter).

Kendricks is an exceptionally underrated athlete who excels against both the run and pass. He brings max effort, sure tackling, and disciplined play to Philadelphia’s linebacker corps that was often deficient in those qualities last season.

Selecting Fletcher Cox, the top-rated defensive tackle coming out of the NCAA ranks, and Marshall’s Vinny Curry fortifies an already stout, NFL sack-leading defensive line featuring Babin, Trent Cole and Cullen Jenkins.

Fourth-round pick Brandon Boykin provides them with a fantastic slot cornerback and dynamic weapon in the return game. Marvin McNutt (Round 6) provides playmaking ability and insurance for the oft-injured Jeremy Maclin at the wide receiver position, while Brandon Washington was a huge steal near the end of draft as an addition to the offensive line.

Equally, if not more significant, was rewarding the veterans on the team with renewed contracts. They took care of LeSean McCoy (RB), Evan Mathis (G), Trent Cole, DeSean Jackson (WR) and Todd Herremans (T) with long-term deals. Unlike last year where the newcomers received all the love—at least in the eyes of some of the returning players—important longstanding teammates now feel that they have the support of the organization as well.

The readily apparent resentment and lack of chemistry in 2011 due to contractual issues should no longer resurface in 2012.

Now that the team itself has improved in most of all necessary areas, how does it stack up against divisional foes?

The Redskins, despite drafting a franchise QB in RGIII and surrounding him with quality wideouts, will still finish last in the division. Their defense is nothing to scoff at (see: Ryan Kerrigan, Brian Orakpo and London Fletcher), but will experience too many growing pains on offense in an incredibly challenging and competitive division.

The defending Super Bowl champion Giants should be just as formidable in 2012. They replaced the departed Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham with Virginia Tech’s David Wilson and LSU’s Rueben Randle in the draft. Re-signing Terrell Thomas will improve the secondary behind New York’s ferocious D-line. While strong in many areas, the G-Men will experience a SB hangover with the help of a much stronger and now unified Philadelphia squad.

Finally, the greatest challenge presents itself in the form of the Dallas Cowboys. They assuaged their most notable deficiency by signing/drafting lock-down corners in former Chief Brandon Carr and LSU’s Morris Claiborne to team up with Mike Jenkins. Boise State’s Tyrone Crawford brings a presence to the 3-4 DE position in front of All-World DeMarcus Ware and the up-and-coming Sean Lee. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan seems to have the personnel to run his complex schemes. The offense should also continue to thrive behind Tony Romo, Miles Austin, DeMarco Murray, a more developed Dez Bryant and healthy Felix Jones.

However, barring injury, the Michael Vick-led Eagles will once again soar to the top of the division (corny pun intended). The Cowboys aren’t quite there on defense and Romo still does not deserve our full trust that he can lead his team to the postseason. New York will not repeat their magical late-season run, while the Redskins will occupy the fourth slot in the division behind a rookie, albeit awesome, rookie quarterback.

The Eagles have made all the requisite additions and will capitalize on a normal offseason and continuity with the coaching staff to capture the NFC East . The defense made great strides under coordinator Juan Castillo late in the season, allowing just 11.5 points per game during a four game winning streak to close things out. Their draft selections will only help advance that defensive success heading into 2012.

And with all due respect to you, Mr. Young, but the 2012 version of your old squad might actually be more of the “Dream Team.”

Just don’t expect your former teammates to say that out loud.

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