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Battle For East Supremacy

Going into Sunday nights game against the Eagles, the main theme all week has been, how are the Giants going to contain the high flying Eagles? After the country watched Vick throw and pass through the Redskin defense with the ease of an airplane flying through a cloud, the Eagles and their high powered offense have become the flavor of the week. With all the superlatives being thrown around on Vick and the arsenal of weapons the Eagles have surrounded him with, people seemed to have forgotten the offense across the turnpike is just as potent and perhaps a bit more seasoned.

Going position by position, which offense would you rather have? Giants have the better offensive line, running backs and the best wide receiver on the football field. DeSean Jackson is an explosive receiver, but he is the product of being in a creative offense with a big armed quarterback. He is not the polished route runner that Hakeem Nicks is, and if you take away his deep play making ability, you take away DeSean Jackson. The same cannot be said for Nicks. Jackson was able to exploit the Giants last year by repeatedly running behind C.C. Brown, Aaron Rouse and Michael Johnson.

This year though, the Giants have one of the best trio of safeties in the NFL. Bringing back one the more underrated comeback stories of the year in Kenny Phillips along with one of the best free agent signings in Deon Grant, combined with their biggest import last year Antrel Rolle, the Giants have been one of the best teams at limiting the big plays. Even after last weeks performance, the Giants have allowed the 2nd fewest pass plays of 20+ yards. All year the design of this defense have been to concede the short throws and eliminate the long ones. Eliminating the deep ball means eliminated Jackson.

Above everything else, the Giants still have the best quarterback on the field Sunday night, and isn't that the match up that counts the most? A few weeks back, I wrote about the value for Eli Manning. How having a quarterback who is in total command of the offense, trumps all other factors that determine winning and losing in the NFL. Eli's performances in Dallas was more impressive than anything Vick has done this year. Down 20-7, and having thrown two interceptions, Eli was saddled with the task of attempting to comeback in front of 100,000 screaming fans. Playing against a team desperate for a win Eli defined what is means to be in total command of an offense, leading the Giants to a 41-35 victory.

Looking at how Vick has performed this year, it is easy to get wrapped up in the hype. No quarterback has shown the ability to beat you through the air and on the ground like Vick has this year. Vick cemented his case for first half MVP last Monday night with a dazzling performance few quarterbacks could relate to. But when has Vick really been tested? When has he faced a great defense this year, and lifted his team on his back like Eli did in Dallas a few weeks back? This year, Vick has started and played in four games this year, winning all four. Three of those games were against the Lions, Jaguars and Redskins. Those three teams are currently ranked 24th, 32nd and 21st in the league yards per pass attempt giving up this year. In his one game start against a top 10 defense against the Colts, Vick was held to 7.52 yards per pass attempt, while only completing 58% of his passes, by far his worst start of the season. Considering the reach NFL has in America, players get vaulted to star status before accomplishing anything. The last couple of years, Tony Romo was the newest star on the rise, a quarterback who burst on to the scene and dominated from the start. Only now are people starting to realize how little he has accomplished in his career. That even though he has put up big numbers, he has not won many big games.

Sunday night will be a battle of two quarterbacks, yet the one who has already won a Super Bowl MVP seems to of been forgotten. Eli will never run through secondaries or launch 70 yards passes with the flick of a wrist like Vick can. But what he does have is a Super Bowl ring, and yet oddly the QB without one seems to be getting all the attention.

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