Giants cut QB Josh Freeman – Will He make a 2014 NFL Roster?

josh-freeman-new-york-giantsNine months ago, Josh Freeman was going into the NFL regular season as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ fifth-year starter. However, things fell apart after he slept through a team photo, lost his captaincy, was replaced by rookie Mike Glennon as a starter, and had his involvement in the NFL’s drug program leaked by then-head coach Greg Schiano’s staff.

He did get a second chance last season, though, with the Minnesota Vikings. Coach Leslie Frazier made the curious decision to start Freeman early, resulting in a disastrous 20-for-53 throwing performance. That was the last Freeman would see the field in Minnesota, despite being paid a healthy $3 million for a half-season’s work.

A Second…Third Chance

josh-freeman-new-york-giants-2For some quarterbacks, this might have been a death knell to their career. But then again, Freeman still has plenty of talent as he’s blessed with size (6’6″, 240 pounds), an excellent arm, good mobility and a high Wonderlic test score. Plus, he has a wealth of stats behind his five-year career, including 13,724 passing yards, 80 TD passes and 67 interceptions. So it was little surprise when the New York Giants gave Freeman a second chance by signing him.

Starting quarterback Eli Manning and his backup, Curtis Painter, both underwent offseason surgery, so Freeman was signed on April 21st as insurance. However, Manning returned to practice this week and Painter is likely to return before training camp begins. This, coupled with second-year QB Ryan Nassib’s emergence, was making the signal-caller position tight in New York.

So the Giants chose to release Freeman today, putting his NFL future in jeopardy. And who did they replace him with? Roger Gaines, an undrafted, free agent offensive lineman who spent all of last season on the Chicago Bears practice squad. Not exactly the type of “talent” that you’d expect to replace a former first-round pick like Freeman.

Same Ole’ Problems

josh-freeman-new-york-giants-1When Freeman went to Minnesota last year, there was plenty of grumbling surrounding him. For starters, he was said to be one of the last guys into the team facilities and late to team meetings every day. This being the case, it’s little wonder why an unnamed Vikings player said, “You could tell Josh did not know the offense.”

Fast-forward to this spring and it appears that Freeman was having the same type of troubles in New York. One particular play was telling as Freeman lined up the offense incorrectly and was quickly pulled off the field in favor of Painter. We haven’t heard any rumors that the former Kansas State star was late to meetings and practices. However, it’s clear that he is still having a rough time picking up the offense.

New York was the only team willing to take a chance on Freeman this offseason. Given that he couldn’t even beat out Painter, Nassib or a practice-squad lineman who’s never played an NFL snap, the future of Freeman’s football career is quite murky. He could get another shot in the middle of the 2014 NFL season, when injuries start piling up and teams get desperate to fill holes.

But for now, it’s hard to see another team wasting time and roster space on Freeman since, judging from his Minnesota and New York stints, he obviously needs a lot of time to learn new offenses.

Is there a Future for Eli Manning in New York?

eli-manning-futureIf you placed any bets or did some live wagering on the New York Giants this past Sunday, you were the victim of a MAJOR letdown. Most if not all of the Giants’ problems in a 23-0 loss to the Seattle Seahawks stemmed from Eli Manning’s five interceptions. To add insult to injury, Manning tallied just 158 passing yards and, as the score indicates, 0 touchdowns. And we thought Geno Smith was bad!

Actually, Smith is a good guy to bring up here because it was looking like he might overtake Eli for the league lead in interceptions. After all, Manning had been playing decent as of late and had leveled his interception total at 20 through 13 games. Not exactly MVP caliber, but at least any discussion of him breaking the all-time record for INT’s in a season came to a halt. Then Sunday happened…

The five interceptions that Eli tossed against the Seahawks brought his total to 25 this year. With just two games remaining, it’d be almost impossible for him to break the all-time record, which George Blanda set in 1962 when he threw 42 picks in just 14 games. But Manning still has time to throw at least 30 interceptions, which would put him into a tie for seventh place all-time.

eli-manning-future-1Given his propensity for throwing the ball to the other team, we have to wonder if how the Giants organization is viewing Eli’s future. Sure he’s won two Super Bowls, with the most recent coming two years ago. But on the other hand, Manning has been in the league for 10 years. As a 32-year-old, it definitely seems like he should have some juice in the tank. However, his 2013 performance has to make you wonder.

Even coach Tom Coughlin said that “obviously there’s concern” about if Manning’s performance this year could indicate a steep decline. But he’s also not ready to bail on his championship QB, arguing that this season’s struggles aren’t all Eli’s fault.

He’d be right in this assertion too, when you consider how Manning’s been asked to carry the offense many times, amid a weak rushing attack (28th in league). The defense hasn’t been at the same level as years’ past either. So it’s doubtful that New York would even consider making a big move on another quarterback this offseason. However, you certainly have to think that one more year of this type of performance will have New York eyeing a new signal caller.

The NFL is a very fickle league…even if you’ve won two Super Bowls in the past seven years.

Tim Tebow makes Case for New England to keep Him

tom-brady-patriotsUp until last night’s preseason game against the New York Giants, Tim Tebow had given New England very little reason to keep him. The former Heisman Trophy winner was just 5-for-17 with 54 passing yards, no touchdowns, 1 interception, and a few other passes that could’ve been picked.

Given these numbers and the fact that he saw no action against the Detroit Lions in the Patriots’ third preseason game, many saw this as a telltale sign that he wouldn’t survive cuts. But maybe some opinions will change after how Tebow performed against the Giants.

Now let’s establish right away that this was no earth-shattering performance which foreshadowed a promising QB ready to take the reigns from Tom Brady. But it’s possible that he may have earned a spot on the 53-man roster after completing 6-of-11 passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns.

Playing the whole second half, Tebow connected with Quentin Sims on a 54-yard touchdown pass. The throw was a little high, but Sims found a way to pull the ball in and run another 38 yards into the end zone. This duo wasn’t finished yet because, with 6 seconds left in the game, Tebow found Sims for a 9-yard TD on a nice fade route. On this particular throw, the former Florida Gators star actually looked like a legitimate NFL quarterback.

tom-brady-patriots-1However, there were also plays that weren’t so pretty. Tebow wasn’t always so quick to find his receivers, he held the ball too long, and was sacked four times early in the second half. He also tossed one pick after throwing down the sideline into coverage. This one mistake didn’t erase an otherwise decent performance, but it was an ugly throw nonetheless.

Now Bill Belichick and his coaching staff will pit the pros against the cons and decide if Tebow is worth keeping as a project quarterback. On most teams, Tebow would be kept since the majority of the NFL likes to have three QB’s on the roster. But Belichick has sometimes only kept two signal callers in the past, and it wouldn’t be a shock if he did so this time around too. Brady is the star while Ryan Mallet will no doubt be his immediate backup should an injury happen.

As for Tebow, he tried his best last night to convince Belichick that New England should keep a third QB. He’s also a very coachable player who’s willing to make sacrifices and do what’s asked of him. Plus he has a proven track as a winner, having won two national titles at Florida and boasting an 8-6 record as an NFL starter.

These factors will all be weighed going into this weekend, when Tebow and many other fringe players throughout the league find out if they made final cuts.

NFL Power Rankings for Oct. 25th, 2012

If there’s one glaring aspect that stands out about the NFL hierarchy this season, it’s that the NFC looks poised to win another Super Bowl. The top 10 of our power rankings is mostly comprised of NFC teams, and we don’t expect this to change much over the coming weeks. Of course, there are still some solid AFC teams that are capable of winning the Lombardi Trophy this year such as Houston, New England and Baltimore. Now let’s peg these three teams in order along with some of the other top contenders.

1. Atlanta Falcons (6-0) – It’s hard to put the Falcons anywhere but number one since they’re the NFL’s lone unbeaten. The Atlanta secondary has played very well and QB Matt Ryan is in the running for league MVP. This week Ryan and his teammates visit Michael Vick and the Eagles following a bye week. We don’t look for Atlanta to lose, but perhaps some bye week rust against a solid team will make this a tough contest.

Last Game: 23-20 win over Oakland
Next Game: at Philadelphia Eagles

2. Houston Texas (6-1) – Houston can rest comfortably in their bye week after destroying the Baltimore Ravens and grabbing the AFC’s top overall spot. It’s hard to say where the Texans go from here since they have little experience with being a dominant team. RB Arian Foster and the defense remain strong, but QB Matt Schaub can be a bit inconsistent at times. However, we predict that Houston should still grab the AFC’s top seed regardless.

Last Game: 43-13 win over Baltimore
Next Game: vs. Buffalo Bills (Nov. 4th)

3. San Francisco 49ers (5-2) – QB Alex Smith has looked shaky at times lately, but he doesn’t exactly face easy defenses in the NFC West. Speaking of defense, the 49ers D hasn’t skipped a beat since last year’s NFC Championship game run. Plus the run game has been going strong, which is always nice to have when there are quarterback uncertainties.

Last Game: 13-6 win over Seattle
Next Game: at Arizona

4. Chicago Bears (5-1) – The Bears defense continues to dash the hopes of fantasy football owners who have opposing quarterbacks, running backs and wideouts. As long as QB Jay Cutler can avoid mental blunders, the Chicago D is enough to keep them in any game.

Last Game: 13-7 win over Detroit
Next Game: vs. Carolina Panthers

5. New York Giants (5-2) – Some might argue that the Giants should be higher than this. But it took a last minute 77-yard bomb from Eli Manning to Victor Cruz  to finish off the Redskins last week. Even still, a win is a win and the G-Men will be looking for early season revenge against the Cowboys on Sunday.

Last Game: 27-23 win over Washington
Next Game: at Dallas Cowboys

6. Baltimore Ravens (5-2) – Ravaged by defensive injuries, the Ravens took a 43-13 beating at the hands of the Texans. QB Joe Flacco’s play didn’t inspire much confidence in the offense either. Luckily for the Ravens, they still hold a commanding lead in the AFC North and now have a bye week to overcome some injuries.

Last Game: 43-13 loss to Houston
Next Game: at Cleveland Browns (Nov. 4th)

7. Green Bay Packers (4-3) – After a slow start, QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Jordy Nelson have suddenly caught fire over the past couple of games, and we’re hearing less groans coming from Green Bay fans. Plus the defense has been very good at creating turnovers and pressuring the quarterback.

Last Game: 30-20 win over St. Louis
Next Game: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

8. Minnesota Vikings (5-2) – Minnesota is officially this year’s surprise team after bolting out to 5-2. With this kind of record, you wouldn’t think that the Vikes are in a must-win situation against Tampa Bay this week. But two out of their following three games are road contests against the Seahawks and Bears. However, it’s hard to knock the Vikings because of upcoming games and they’ve definitely earned this spot.

Last Game: 21-14 win over Arizona
Next Game: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

9. New England Patriots (4-3) – Lately the Patriots have been the NFL’s version of a great long distance runner who sprints out to a huge lead, only to barely win at the end of the race. Last week’s overtime win over the Jets was too close for comfort after leading by quite a bit in the second half. And the four-player merry go-round at running back seems to confuse the Pats just as much as it does opponents.

Last Game: 29-26 (OT) over New York Jets
Next Game: at St. Louis Rams

10. Seattle Seahawks (4-3) – QB Russell Wilson came back down to earth after leading Seattle to a lackluster offense performance in San Francisco. However, it wasn’t all his fault since the Seahawks receivers need to hang onto the ball. Luckily the defense has remained stout and the team is eyeing a winnable game in Detroit this week.

Last Week: 13-6 loss against San Francisco
Next Week: at Detroit Lions