Todd Salem

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  1. It would be surprising to tell your 2015 self that Landon Collins just won NFC East Defensive Player of the Year. A season ago, Collins was a rookie safety who looked lost and out of sorts. Because of the travesty that was the rest of the defense surrounding him, Collins was forced to play out of position at free safety. He was not equipped to play in space or defend the pass. He also wasn’t being utilized in the box or on the blitz as often as he should have been. That all changed this season. Collins was slid over to strong safety, playing to his strengths as a football player. He became a force all over the field, at one point leading the New York Giants in tackles, sacks, and interceptions. That do-everything production helped carry the Giants to one of the very best defenses in the NFL. After being one of the worst the season before, Collins had flipped the script on himself, as well as the team at-large. He was rewarded by the ESPN journalists by being named the division’s Defensive MVP. As the Dallas Cowboys beat writer reluctantly rewarded Collins, he reiterated that Collins “was the only player in NFL history to record at least 100 tackles, two sacks, five interceptions, and 12 pass deflections [in a season].” He owned his position and made headlines for a team that had spent major dollars to improve the spots surrounding him. Now, the question becomes, what are Collins’ chances of taking home this award league-wide? Unlike some of these other NFC East awards, Collins is certainly in the discussion for NFL DPOY. The Pro Football Writers of America gave out their awards, with the big defensive honor going to Khalil Mack. Though this honor can often align with the AP award at the end of the postseason, it doesn’t always. Collins is still in the running. The expert panel at Sports Illustrated did not at all agree with the PFWA choice. However, it also didn’t favor Collins. Most of the writers selected Von Miller to take home the hardware, with one citing Collins, and no one picking Mack. The discrepancy actually favors Collins. In a year where there was no clear winner, an up-and-comer has a good chance of breaking through. It is the case of improvement in production overshadowing an equal output; why Shaquille O’Neal or Mike Trout didn’t win as many MVP’s as they should have. Voters are always more entranced by the new guy who becomes elite rather than the old guard who stays elite. That course of human nature could pay off for Collins in February.
  2. It would be surprising to tell your 2015 self that Landon Collins just won NFC East Defensive Player of the Year. A season ago, Collins was a rookie safety who looked lost and out of sorts. Because of the travesty that was the rest of the defense surrounding him, Collins was forced to play out of position at free safety. He was not equipped to play in space or defend the pass. He also wasn’t being utilized in the box or on the blitz as often as he should have been. That all changed this season. Collins was slid over to strong safety, playing to his strengths as a football player. He became a force all over the field, at one point leading the New York Giants in tackles, sacks, and interceptions. That do-everything production helped carry the Giants to one of the very best defenses in the NFL. After being one of the worst the season before, Collins had flipped the script on himself, as well as the team at-large. He was rewarded by the ESPN journalists by being named the division’s Defensive MVP. As the Dallas Cowboys beat writer reluctantly rewarded Collins, he reiterated that Collins “was the only player in NFL history to record at least 100 tackles, two sacks, five interceptions, and 12 pass deflections [in a season].” He owned his position and made headlines for a team that had spent major dollars to improve the spots surrounding him. Now, the question becomes, what are Collins’ chances of taking home this award league-wide? Unlike some of these other NFC East awards, Collins is certainly in the discussion for NFL DPOY. The Pro Football Writers of America gave out their awards, with the big defensive honor going to Khalil Mack. Though this honor can often align with the AP award at the end of the postseason, it doesn’t always. Collins is still in the running. The expert panel at Sports Illustrated did not at all agree with the PFWA choice. However, it also didn’t favor Collins. Most of the writers selected Von Miller to take home the hardware, with one citing Collins, and no one picking Mack. The discrepancy actually favors Collins. In a year where there was no clear winner, an up-and-comer has a good chance of breaking through. It is the case of improvement in production overshadowing an equal output; why Shaquille O’Neal or Mike Trout didn’t win as many MVP’s as they should have. Voters are always more entranced by the new guy who becomes elite rather than the old guard who stays elite. That course of human nature could pay off for Collins in February. View full NFL news story
  3. The New York Giants have made Adrian Peterson’s short list. The current Minnesota Vikings’ running back and former All-Pro and league MVP announced today that he hopes to return to Minnesota next season…but if that isn’t an option, New York would be.
  4. The New York Giants have made Adrian Peterson’s short list. The current Minnesota Vikings’ running back and former All-Pro and league MVP announced today that he hopes to return to Minnesota next season…but if that isn’t an option, New York would be. Peterson is still under contract with Minnesota. However, his 2017 deal is a team option that would account for a cap hit of $18 million for the Vikings: an unwieldy total for a running back of any skill set, but a scary proposition if Peterson is no longer the elite ball carrier he used to be. After a very slow start to the 2016 NFL season that included two weeks where he failed to average even 2.0 yards per carry, an injury sidelined AP for most of the season. He returned at the tail end of Minnesota’s collapse, only to fare no better than he did to start the year. Overall, his season totals are hideous: 72 yards, no touchdowns, and 1.9 yards per carry. If that is the new Peterson, there is no way he returns to the Vikings for $18 million. They would surely decline his option year. Even if they think he rebounds to something approaching his old form, though, a decline of the option is still likely. That is too high a cap hit to take for a team that has other offensive holes to fill and can’t lean on one player. Peterson knows the deal. He came out and said he hopes to return to the men in purple, but if he enters free agency, he will target places like New York, Tampa Bay, and Houston as possible destinations. This begs the questions, if Adrian Peterson is available and wants to become a Giant, should NY sign him? The obvious answer is it depends on the price. If the seven-time Pro Bowler wants anything approaching what his 2017 salary was going to be, no thanks. But if he is willing to come on some type of prove-it deal to tell the NFL he is still a Pro Bowl-caliber player, New York should definitely be interested. The issue with Peterson is he is a player that used to dominate an offense but can probably no longer do so. New York certainly needs a running game, but it doesn’t need a 25-carry per game guy. A Giant running back has to play a lot in the passing game, has to block, has to catch passes, etc. That has never been a large part of Peterson’s game, but that doesn’t mean he is unwilling to be a threat. He would come to New York as just a piece of the offense rather than its focal point, and be paid as such. That is a version of Peterson every Giants fan would be intrigued by. After all, it was just two seasons ago where AP ran for nearly 1,500 yards. It is too soon to say he is completely washed out. View full article
  5. Despite accumulating an 11-5 record and getting the New York Giants back to the playoffs, head coach Ben McAdoo didn’t receive a single vote for NFC East Coach of the Year from the ESPN divisional reporters. Journalists from all four teams voted on the award, and every guy instead named Dallas coach Jason Garrett the winner. There are obvious questions as to McAdoo’s impact on the Giants’ success in 2016, yet the same thing could be said of Garrett. Does he take credit for Dak Prescott’s incredible rookie season? The guy had Prescott as his third quarterback on the depth chart entering the preseason. Does Garrett deserve accolades for knowing to hand the ball off to Ezekiel Elliott behind the best offensive line in the league? The impact of a head coach, especially when looking at just one season, is nebulous. We know Bill Belichick is historically great because we have seen him work and win over years and years. Garrett went 4-12 last season and only had one year over .500 in his five full years before 2016. He even refuses to anoint Prescott as the franchise guy moving forward. What does that say about his coaching acumen? Obviously, playoff games don’t play any role in this award, but Garrett and his staff were sorely out-coached in the divisional round as well, which doesn’t help his case in the public eye as being a great head coach. Philadelphia’s Doug Pederson and Washington’s Jay Gruden were not viable candidates to win Coach of the Year this year in the NFC East. Neither the Eagles nor Redskins were bad, since the NFC East was arguably the best division in football. However, it didn’t feel like Pederson or Gruden made their respective teams any better. Pederson, especially, made so many screwy decisions pertaining to his running back depth, fourth-down conversions and the like. And Gruden’s squad took a step back on the defensive side this year. That left just Garrett and McAdoo, yet no one felt this Giants team going 11-5 was as impressive or more impressive than that Cowboys team finishing 13-3. Few remember that prior to the start of the season Dallas was the favorite to win the NFC East. The only thing that changed was the injury to Tony Romo and insertion of Prescott into the lineup: an outcome that was completely out of Garrett’s control and probably helped him have a better year, no thanks to anything he did. In terms of league-wide, neither McAdoo nor Garrett should be in the running for Coach of the Year. That distinction should go to Belichick, or maybe Jack Del Rio. However, it appears as though Garrett may be getting a lot more credit than expected, at the expense of the Giants’ head man on the sideline. View full NFL news story
  6. Despite accumulating an 11-5 record and getting the New York Giants back to the playoffs, head coach Ben McAdoo didn’t receive a single vote for NFC East Coach of the Year from the ESPN divisional reporters. Journalists from all four teams voted on the award, and every guy instead named Dallas coach Jason Garrett the winner. There are obvious questions as to McAdoo’s impact on the Giants’ success in 2016, yet the same thing could be said of Garrett. Does he take credit for Dak Prescott’s incredible rookie season? The guy had Prescott as his third quarterback on the depth chart entering the preseason. Does Garrett deserve accolades for knowing to hand the ball off to Ezekiel Elliott behind the best offensive line in the league? The impact of a head coach, especially when looking at just one season, is nebulous. We know Bill Belichick is historically great because we have seen him work and win over years and years. Garrett went 4-12 last season and only had one year over .500 in his five full years before 2016. He even refuses to anoint Prescott as the franchise guy moving forward. What does that say about his coaching acumen? Obviously, playoff games don’t play any role in this award, but Garrett and his staff were sorely out-coached in the divisional round as well, which doesn’t help his case in the public eye as being a great head coach. Philadelphia’s Doug Pederson and Washington’s Jay Gruden were not viable candidates to win Coach of the Year this year in the NFC East. Neither the Eagles nor Redskins were bad, since the NFC East was arguably the best division in football. However, it didn’t feel like Pederson or Gruden made their respective teams any better. Pederson, especially, made so many screwy decisions pertaining to his running back depth, fourth-down conversions and the like. And Gruden’s squad took a step back on the defensive side this year. That left just Garrett and McAdoo, yet no one felt this Giants team going 11-5 was as impressive or more impressive than that Cowboys team finishing 13-3. Few remember that prior to the start of the season Dallas was the favorite to win the NFC East. The only thing that changed was the injury to Tony Romo and insertion of Prescott into the lineup: an outcome that was completely out of Garrett’s control and probably helped him have a better year, no thanks to anything he did. In terms of league-wide, neither McAdoo nor Garrett should be in the running for Coach of the Year. That distinction should go to Belichick, or maybe Jack Del Rio. However, it appears as though Garrett may be getting a lot more credit than expected, at the expense of the Giants’ head man on the sideline.
  7. The ESPN Comeback Player of the Year awards were announced today. Each division was voted on by the four writers who cover those respective teams, and the NFC East award went to New York Giants’ defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Pierre-Paul was a unanimous selection among the four writers. It was nice to see each of Dallas’, Philadelphia’s, and Washington’s respective lead writers decide that JPP was most deserving of this honor in 2016. After having his fireworks accident and seeming like his career may be over, or else entering a lesser phase, Pierre-Paul instead rebounded. He looked like his old, Pro-Bowl self before losing the last four games of the regular season to a separate injury. Pierre-Paul totaled seven sacks, three forced fumbles, 53 tackles, eight passes defensed and a blocked kick in just those 12 contests. The forced fumbles, passes defensed and blocked kick numbers either set or tied previous career-highs despite him missing a quarter of the season. He was a linchpin in a Giant defense that finished in the top five in the NFL both against the run and the pass, and graded out as the second-best defense overall by the end of the season. It was certainly a seasonal performance worthy of Comeback Player of the Year for the seventh-year end. The NFL has yet to announce its league-wide awards. Pierre-Paul will be in the running for CB-POY there too, though it seems unlikely he will win it outside of the NFC East. With better candidates who did not miss a quarter of the season, like Jordy Nelson or DeMarco Murray, this is probably the highest distinction JPP will receive. Yet it is something to be happy with and proud of. Last offseason, few teams were sure Pierre-Paul could continue to play football. He signed a one-year, prove-it deal because he couldn’t garner a long-term contract. Though he got hurt again, the injury was unrelated to the accident he went through. He undoubtedly proved that his hand injury would not be an issue moving forward. It would not be something that keeps him from performing at an elite level in this league. In terms of obtaining a long-term contract this offseason, that still remains to be seen. But teams no longer have the excuse of blaming his hand for not wanting to offer more than a one-year deal. His agent may even point to this ESPN award as evidence that journalists from across the country believe he is unencumbered and ready to excel.
  8. The ESPN Comeback Player of the Year awards were announced today. Each division was voted on by the four writers who cover those respective teams, and the NFC East award went to New York Giants’ defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Pierre-Paul was a unanimous selection among the four writers. It was nice to see each of Dallas’, Philadelphia’s, and Washington’s respective lead writers decide that JPP was most deserving of this honor in 2016. After having his fireworks accident and seeming like his career may be over, or else entering a lesser phase, Pierre-Paul instead rebounded. He looked like his old, Pro-Bowl self before losing the last four games of the regular season to a separate injury. Pierre-Paul totaled seven sacks, three forced fumbles, 53 tackles, eight passes defensed and a blocked kick in just those 12 contests. The forced fumbles, passes defensed and blocked kick numbers either set or tied previous career-highs despite him missing a quarter of the season. He was a linchpin in a Giant defense that finished in the top five in the NFL both against the run and the pass, and graded out as the second-best defense overall by the end of the season. It was certainly a seasonal performance worthy of Comeback Player of the Year for the seventh-year end. The NFL has yet to announce its league-wide awards. Pierre-Paul will be in the running for CB-POY there too, though it seems unlikely he will win it outside of the NFC East. With better candidates who did not miss a quarter of the season, like Jordy Nelson or DeMarco Murray, this is probably the highest distinction JPP will receive. Yet it is something to be happy with and proud of. Last offseason, few teams were sure Pierre-Paul could continue to play football. He signed a one-year, prove-it deal because he couldn’t garner a long-term contract. Though he got hurt again, the injury was unrelated to the accident he went through. He undoubtedly proved that his hand injury would not be an issue moving forward. It would not be something that keeps him from performing at an elite level in this league. In terms of obtaining a long-term contract this offseason, that still remains to be seen. But teams no longer have the excuse of blaming his hand for not wanting to offer more than a one-year deal. His agent may even point to this ESPN award as evidence that journalists from across the country believe he is unencumbered and ready to excel. View full NFL news story
  9. The schadenfreude is palpable. There is real joy generated anytime the Dallas Cowboys lose a big football game. However, New York Giants fans shouldn’t be too thrilled with the Cowboys being eliminated from postseason contention on Sunday. A Dallas win would have continued the narrative that New York was a featured player in the 2016 NFL season. With Green Bay’s victory over the 13-3 Cowboys, the Giants become an afterthought. They are an irrelevant sidebar to the NFC picture in 2016 and into the 2017 playoffs. In Week 5 of the regular season, they lost at Green Bay, 23-16. Odell Beckham Jr. was pretty much held in check that game, catching just five of 12 targets, and the Giants’ offense couldn’t generate enough to contend. In the wildcard round of the postseason, New York was vanquished by Green Bay again, this time emphatically. The offense came up short again. The bottom line was obvious: the Giants couldn’t hang with the Packers. Not having played Atlanta this year, the only evidence we have of New York’s ability to hold down the best of the NFC comes from its games against Dallas. Advancement by Dallas would have kept alive that narrative that New York was an elite NFC club this year that just fell short in a numbers game. In another iteration of this 2016 season, perhaps the 11-5 Giants make it through to the Super Bowl. If the season could be run back 10 times, who knows how many times NY wins the conference. They weren’t that far away. After all, they took down the mighty Cowboys twice. Instead, Dallas fell in demoralizing fashion in the divisional round, proving it wasn’t any better than Green Bay despite the two teams’ divergent regular seasons. The loss also proved that New York probably wasn’t among the NFC elite after all. It may have simply had Dallas’ number. Or, even worse, maybe New York just got lucky in a pair of very close, low-scoring games against a superior foe. The first victory came in Dak Prescott’s and Ezekiel Elliot’s first ever NFL game after all. I don’t wish to take away any satisfaction New York fans have after seeing Dallas lose. Even the most casual of Giants fans have some level of hate for the Cowboys. This team, that hasn’t won anything of note in a generation, is somehow still "America’s Team"? Get out of here with that nonsense. A Dallas loss is satisfying, but it also takes away from the 2016 Giants more than any other outcome could have. View full article
  10. The schadenfreude is palpable. There is real joy generated anytime the Dallas Cowboys lose a big football game. However, New York Giants fans shouldn’t be too thrilled with the Cowboys being eliminated from postseason contention on Sunday. A Dallas win would have continued the narrative that New York was a featured player in the 2016 NFL season.
  11. A few days ago, the New York Giants came to terms with a few free agents, including veteran safety Rahim Moore. It was an interesting flyer for a club that has been looking for consistency at safety for years now. The team desperately needs a reliable piece to play opposite All-Pro strong safety Landon Collins. Maybe Moore isn’t that guy, but he used to be pretty darn good. Moore was a second-round draft pick back in 2011. Though he was cut by the Houston Texans last training camp, he is just 26 years old and has a few solid years under his belt as a starting safety in this league. The free safety’s best season came in 2014, as a member of the Denver Broncos, the team that drafted him. In 16 games (all starts), Moore picked off four passes, forced a fumble, and made 50 tackles. He was much less of a factor the following year in Houston and did not suit up for anyone full-time in 2016. Yet at his heights, he was a smart and intuitive player, with the ability to communicate well with his secondary mates. Moore offered above league-average production at one of the Giants’ weakest spots on their defense. The starting free safety for New York this year was supposed to be Darian Thompson. He suffered a foot injury that required foot surgery and caused him to miss essentially his entire rookie season. Andrew Adams ended up being the starter opposite Collins most of the season. Adams was fine but didn’t come close to offering the playmaking of Collins, not that one would expect such production from an undrafted rookie free agent. Veteran cornerback Leon Hall also saw some time at free safety, as his athleticism is slipping with age. He didn’t play enough to have a huge impact, though occasionally saw the field over Adams because of his experience and intelligence. Nat Berhe was also a safety option for the Giants, but he too succumbed to injury that sidelined him for quite a while. After missing all of 2015, relying on Berhe as an option no longer feels feasible. Moore may not be better than any of these guys. He probably isn’t, since NY gave him a tryout before this season and passed. However, the signing speaks to the team’s continued attempt at filling this position. Free safety is still up for grabs.
  12. A few days ago, the New York Giants came to terms with a few free agents, including veteran safety Rahim Moore. It was an interesting flyer for a club that has been looking for consistency at safety for years now. The team desperately needs a reliable piece to play opposite All-Pro strong safety Landon Collins. Maybe Moore isn’t that guy, but he used to be pretty darn good. Moore was a second-round draft pick back in 2011. Though he was cut by the Houston Texans last training camp, he is just 26 years old and has a few solid years under his belt as a starting safety in this league. The free safety’s best season came in 2014, as a member of the Denver Broncos, the team that drafted him. In 16 games (all starts), Moore picked off four passes, forced a fumble, and made 50 tackles. He was much less of a factor the following year in Houston and did not suit up for anyone full-time in 2016. Yet at his heights, he was a smart and intuitive player, with the ability to communicate well with his secondary mates. Moore offered above league-average production at one of the Giants’ weakest spots on their defense. The starting free safety for New York this year was supposed to be Darian Thompson. He suffered a foot injury that required foot surgery and caused him to miss essentially his entire rookie season. Andrew Adams ended up being the starter opposite Collins most of the season. Adams was fine but didn’t come close to offering the playmaking of Collins, not that one would expect such production from an undrafted rookie free agent. Veteran cornerback Leon Hall also saw some time at free safety, as his athleticism is slipping with age. He didn’t play enough to have a huge impact, though occasionally saw the field over Adams because of his experience and intelligence. Nat Berhe was also a safety option for the Giants, but he too succumbed to injury that sidelined him for quite a while. After missing all of 2015, relying on Berhe as an option no longer feels feasible. Moore may not be better than any of these guys. He probably isn’t, since NY gave him a tryout before this season and passed. However, the signing speaks to the team’s continued attempt at filling this position. Free safety is still up for grabs. View full NFL news story
  13. The jury is still out on New York Giants’ head coach Ben McAdoo. People outside the organization want to credit him for the team’s jump from loser to playoff participant, but that seems like too simple an explanation. Maybe he changed the culture and everything that had been failing the team in recent years. Or maybe he was just on the right side of some good fortune in 2016. Only time will tell. The Giants were way better this year than in years past. That is indisputable. However, the reasons they were better are hard to credit to McAdoo. For one, the defense was elite. McAdoo, being an offensive coach and former offensive coordinator, would seemingly have little to do with this. Instead, it would fall on, obviously, all the money spent on defensive players in the offseason, and then on coordinator Steve Spanuolo. Those are the two main factors in seeing such a precipitate jump in defensive production: better players and a good coordinator on that side of the ball. McAdoo’s forte is offensive football, something the Giants were pretty awful at this year. Though no longer the offensive coordinator, McAdoo remained in charge of the offense and held the Denny’s menu of plays every game. This was on him, and that has to be a knock against him. And yet, there was still a lot of talk of him receiving consideration for NFL Coach of the Year. For what? For being employed while things around him got better? The case is flimsy at best. One thing that is impossible to quantify in one season is McAdoo’s impact on his players. Everyone has said the right things in his favor on this, but that is during a great year when the team won 11 games and made the playoffs. Did McAdoo’s penchant for keeping things light and fun lead to 11 wins, or did 11 wins lead to things being light and fun? The only way to know is to see another season out of him. The same goes for the lack of an injury epidemic. Giants’ fans are overly familiar with injured reserve. This year, however, the team stayed incredibly healthy. Perhaps this was due to McAdoo’s kinesiology degree and the franchise’s change in training. Perhaps. Or perhaps the Giants finally caught the good side of injury luck. It was bound to happen eventually. We need to see another year or two to know which it is. McAdoo certainly wasn’t a bad coach. That much we know. But to know whether he is actually a good coach, we need a larger sample size. For the moment, let’s at least agree that naming him Coach of the Year would be a bit extreme. View full article
  14. The jury is still out on New York Giants’ head coach Ben McAdoo. People outside the organization want to credit him for the team’s jump from loser to playoff participant, but that seems like too simple an explanation. Maybe he changed the culture and everything that had been failing the team in recent years. Or maybe he was just on the right side of some good fortune in 2016.
  15. On Wednesday, the NFL’s Chargers franchise announced that they would be announcing on Thursday some news about the future of the team. Later reports confirmed that the news pending for Thursday was breaking news on Wednesday that the Chargers would be relocating to Los Angeles. News is stupid sometimes.