Listen to Go4it! Guest: Hall of Famer Willie Roaf

We will be talking sports and having fun doing it. We will be joined by Hall of Famer Willie Roaf, who will discuss the aftermath of Championship Weekend in the NFL and get his early thoughts on Super Bowl 54.

Listen below:

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Mahomes: ‘I know I can’t juke like Lamar(Jackson), but I feel like I can extend plays’

Coming into the playoffs, if we were going to talk about any quarterback leading his team in rushing, it would have been Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, and while Jackson did rush for 143 yards against the Titans in the Divisional Round, it was in a losing effort. 

With Jackson out of the playoffs, another running QB has stepped up, and that’s Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes. The two-time Pro Bowl QB has led Kansas City in rushing in these playoffs with 106 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown run against Tennessee in the AFC title game, as the Chiefs advanced to Super Bowl 54 after defeating the Titans 35-24 on Sunday. 

We all know Mahomes can’t run like Jackson, but he is a mobile quarterback that has made a lot of plays with his legs in these playoffs.

“I mean, I watch everybody in the league and see what guys are doing,” Mahomes said on Wednesday. “I think you do that as a quarterback as you watch all these great players. For me, I know I can’t juke like Lamar, but I feel like I can extend plays. When I watch similar opponents, like when I watched Lamar playing the 49ers and seeing him extend plays, I know that’s some stuff I can take away. I can’t run at the same agility or speed he does.”

Mahomes likes to get the ball downfield, and against the Titans, he used his scrambling ability when he connected with Sammy Watkins on a 60-yard touchdown pass, and on Wednesday, Mahomes explained what happened on that play.

“I think it’s something I’ve always done whenever I’m scrambling, I always keep my eyes downfield,” Mahomes explained. “I’ve never been the fastest guy, so I’ve always wanted to get to guys like Tyreek (Hill), Mecole (Hardman), Travis (Kelce), guys like them, Sammy Watkins. For me, actually, in that play, I left the pocket a little too early because they did kind of a stunt with the D-line, and I thought I could run for it, but as I saw it develop, I knew I had to reset in the pocket. As I did that, I got back through my reads, and Sammy was my guy to go to anyways, and he did a good job fighting through a holding penalty and getting down the field. I was able to get the ball to him in enough time that he could score a touchdown.”

The third-year quarterback will probably have to use his scrambling ability against the 49ers, who have nine sacks in these playoffs, so don’t be surprised if Mahomes continues to use his arm and legs in Super Bowl 54.

Accorsi on Eli: ‘He won championships, and he was always there giving us a chance to win’

Eli Manning is ready to write the final chapter of his historic career.

One of the best, most popular and most decorated players in Giants history, Manning, a two-time Super Bowl winner and most valuable player, will announce his retirement Friday, ending a 16-year career spent entirely with the team he joined in a draft-day trade in 2004.

“For 16 seasons, Eli Manning defined what it is to be a New York Giant both on and off the field,” said John Mara, the Giants’ president and chief executive officer. “Eli is our only two-time Super Bowl MVP and one of the very best players in our franchise’s history. He represented our franchise as a consummate professional with dignity and accountability. It meant something to Eli to be the Giants quarterback, and it meant even more to us. We are beyond grateful for his contributions to our organization and look forward to celebrating his induction into the Giants Ring of Honor in the near future.”

“We are proud to have called Eli Manning our quarterback for so many years,” said Steve Tisch, Giants chairman and executive vice president. “Eli was driven to always do what was best for the team. Eli leaves a timeless legacy with two Super Bowl titles on the field and his philanthropic work off the field, which has inspired and impacted so many people. We are sincerely thankful for everything Eli has given our team and community. He will always be a Giant among Giants.”

Ernie Accorsi was the general manager who traded for Manning. Though he retired after the 2006 season, Accorsi has remained a member of the Giants family and has followed Manning’s career closely.

“I learned very early that you evaluate quarterbacks on their ability to win championships, and to do it late in a game when the game is on the line, that they’re able to take a team down the field and into the end zone to win a title,” Accorsi said. “The second thing is to know that over a period of years, he’s always going to be there. Those kinds of quarterbacks always give you a chance to win, and for 16 years, he did that for this franchise. He won championships and he was always there giving us a chance to win. I don’t know how you can ask more from a quarterback.”

Manning’s first 183 regular-season and 11 postseason starts were for Tom Coughlin, the Giants’ head coach from 2004-15.

“It was an honor and privilege to coach Eli, and to go through the wonderful and magnificent moments that he and his teammates provided for all of us in the world championship ‘07-‘08 and ’11-’12 seasons,” Coughlin said. “The New York Giants, flagship franchise of the National Football League, have four world championships You have four trophies sitting there. You have (Phil) Simms, you have (Jeff) Hostetler, and you have Eli for two. Eli Manning not only is the quarterback on those great teams, but he is the MVP of the Super Bowls. He’s an incredible big- game performer. You talk about a guy that’s great to coach, focused every day, took tremendous pride in preparing, practice, had a great sense of humor, was a cynic in the locker room. But the guys loved him and they loved him for it, and they played for him. The guys that had the opportunity to play with him know what it’s like to be with a guy with as much talent, as much grit, as much determination.

“Here goes the retirement of a great, great football Giant. I and my coaching staff and our teams from 2004 right through 2015, for me at least, my part, hold Eli in the highest respect and congratulate him and his family, and his mom and dad, for all of the wonderful, wonderful experiences he’s had, and the happiness and pride that he has brought to the entire Giants family, the fanfare, the fans, the family and everyone that’s taken so much pride from his performances and for what he’s meant. He’s always been there to make the call, to stand up and represent the Giants in the best possible way.”

Manning is one of the most accomplished players in the 95 seasons of Giants football. He is the only player in franchise history to suit up for 16 seasons and his 236 regular-season games (234 starts) and 248 total games are both Giants records.

From Nov. 21, 2004 through Nov. 23, 2017, Manning started 210 consecutive regular-season games, then the second-longest streak by a quarterback in NFL history (to Brett Favre’s 297). After sitting out one game, he started the next 22 in a row, giving him 232 starts in 233 games – plus 12 postseason games. Manning never missed a game because of injury.

“I can’t tell you what that means to a coach, to be able to prepare every week knowing your starter is going to be there,” Coughlin said. “It’s almost impossible today to be able to do that. Some teams are fortunate. Many teams it doesn’t happen to. You get a guy nicked, you get him hurt. I remember once he was hurt with a shoulder. He didn’t practice all week. We didn’t know if he’d be alright. He started and played the whole game and played well. It meant a great deal to us to be able to prepare knowing he was going to be on the field and be the starting quarterback for all of those games.”

Manning led the Giants to victories against the New England Patriots in Super Bowls XLII (when they defeated a Patriots team that was 18-0) and XLVI. In each game, he led the Giants on a long fourth-quarter drive to erase a fourth-quarter deficit. On Feb. 3, 2008, it was a 12-play, 83-yard march highlighted by Dave Tyree’s famous helmet catch and the 13-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds remaining that gave the Giants a 17-14 victory. Four years later, the decisive series covered 88 yards in nine plays, most memorably a 38-yard sideline throw to Mario Manningham and Ahmad Bradshaw’s seat-of-his-pants one-yard touchdown run for a 21-17 triumph.

Manning won the Rozelle Trophy as the game’s most valuable player each time. He is the only Giants player to win the award twice and is one of just five players in NFL history to win multiple Super Bowl MVP awards. All of them are quarterbacks (Tom Brady, 4; Joe Montana, 3; Terry Bradshaw and Bart Starr, 2 apiece).

Manning is one of 21 quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl without losing one and one of 12 to win at least two Super Bowls.

In 2016, Manning was the co-recipient (with Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, a fellow member of the 2004 draft class) of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. He is the only Giants player to be so honored in the award’s 49-year history.

Manning owns every significant Giants career passing record. He is sixth in NFL history with 8,119 attempts and seventh with 4,895 completions, 57,023 yards and 366 touchdown passes. Manning also has the franchise’s highest career completion percentage (60.29). Manning holds the seven highest single-season completion totals and the four highest yardage totals (he threw for more than 4,000 yards seven times) and completion percentages. He was selected to four Pro Bowls.

Manning also excelled in the postseason, when he had an 8-4 record. He set Giants career playoff records with 400 passes, 242 completions, 2,815 yards and 18 touchdown passes.

In the recently-concluded 2019 season, Manning played four games. He started the first two games before being replaced by Daniel Jones, the sixth overall selection in the draft last year.  Jones sprained his ankle against Green Bay on Dec. 1 and Manning started the next two games, a Monday night game in Philadelphia and the following Sunday at home vs. Miami. Manning threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns in a 36-20 victory over the Dolphins and left the game to a long and loud ovation with 1:54 remaining. The victory evened his regular-season record at 117-117.

Off the field, Manning has been one of the most giving Giants, donating his time and money to numerous civic and charitable causes. He heads the Tackle Kids Cancer Initiative at Hackensack UMC and he launched “Eli’s Challenge” by pledging to match grassroots donations from local organizations dollar-for-dollar up to $100,000. He and his family built “The Eli Manning Children’s Clinics” at the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children in Jackson, Miss. Manning supports numerous other charities, including Children’s of Mississippi Capital Campaign, March of Dimes, New York March for Babies, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, American Red Cross, Scholastic’s Classroom Care Program and the PeyBack Foundation.

Fittingly, one of the many awards he has received for his work in the community is the Ernie Accorsi Humanitarian Award at the National Football Foundation.

“That’s what it’s all about – it’s about giving back,” Coughlin said. “You think that the good Lord gave you these tools for you to hold inside you and be selfish about it? No chance. He goes out in the community, he’s himself when he’s out there. He’s done a tremendous amount of work for the Jay Fund (Coughlin’s charity foundation, which benefits the families of children with cancer). He goes to see cancer kids over in Hackensack and throughout New York City. His heart is in the right place.”

Next week in Hollywood, Fla., Manning will be presented with the 2020 Athletes in Action/Bart Starr Award. The award, bearing the name of Pro Football Hall of Famer Bart Starr, honors Starr’s lifelong commitment to serving as a positive role model to his family, teammates and community. Manning was selected by his peers in the NFL, making it the only award – other than the Pro Bowl – voted on by all the players.

Coughlin was three months into his 12-year tenure as the Giants’ coach when Manning joined the team roughly an hour after the San Diego Chargers selected him first in the 2004 NFL Draft. Picking fourth, the Giants selected another quarterback, Philip Rivers. Accorsi then engineered a trade that brought Manning to the team he had hoped to play for all along. The Giants sent Rivers, their third-round choice in 2004 (No. 65 overall), and first and fifth-round picks in the 2005 draft to the Chargers for Manning.

“(The late Beano) Cook told me once, ‘You could be on the first civilian flight to Mars, and the first line of your obituary is going to be that you traded for Eli Manning,’” Accorsi said. “No question about that. I’m honored to be associated with Eli Manning in every way possible, as a person and as a player.”

So is everyone else who had the privilege of working with Manning for 16 years.

49ers’ Kyle Shanahan discusses his regrets from Super Bowl LI

For 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, Super Bowl 54 provides an opportunity for redemption. The last time Shanahan coached in a Super Bowl was when he was the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.

In that game, the Falcons were dominating the Patriots and were up 28-3 in the third quarter. Unfortunately for the Falcons and Shanahan, the Patriots would score the final 31 points and would defeat the Falcons 34-28 in overtime. This was the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.

Losing in the Super Bowl was very difficult for Shanahan, and on Monday, he discussed how he felt after the loss to the Patriots.

“The days after were real tough,” Shanahan said. “Losing a Super Bowl is extremely tough for everybody, especially when you lose one when you have a 28-3 lead going into the fourth. The way it came down on me personally, I didn’t react to that, I think, the way people would expect because there were definitely parts in that Super Bowl that I would love to have back and stuff I was very hard on myself, but the whole narrative of if I would’ve just ran it, we would’ve won. I know that wasn’t the case. 

“I know what went into that game and all the stuff that happened, so that stuff didn’t bother me. You’ve got to deal with that and listen to other people, but it was nice to be able to move on and move out here and just keep working. I’m glad I’m going to get the chance to go back.”

With the Falcons leading 28-20 late in the fourth quarter, the Falcons moved the ball all the way down to the Patriots’ 22-yard line. However, Falcons QB Matt Ryan was sacked, and then, the Falcons were called for a holding the penalty, which pushed the Falcons out of field goal range.

Shanahan discussed what he did wrong.

“Yeah, the play I regretted the most was when we got down there,” Shanahan said. “We haven’t converted a third down, really the entire second half, I think we were averaging one yard a carry rushing. So, when you do that, the formula to keep giving the ball back to someone is to go run-run-pass. You’re going to make a third-and-seven at best every single time. If you’re not converting third downs, that makes it tough. We did mix it up a little bit. I think we actually ran it more in the second half than we did in the first half.

“The other team was I think 34 of 38, converted all their third downs, couldn’t get the ball. Finally they got it within a score, we got it back and got pretty aggressive to get it down there. It was a second-and-10, called a pass on the last time down there. On second-and-10 I called a run. We got a two-yard loss and a holding call that put us out of field goal range. This time I went the opposite. Tried to get a play to [Atlanta Falcons WR] Julio [Jones]. They played a different coverage, didn’t get the call I wanted, so I didn’t like the call. I was hoping we could just get rid of it, but they had a pretty good rush and got a sack. Once that happened, I knew we had to throw because now we were out of field goal range. Threw it the next down to [Atlanta Falcons WR Mohamed] Sanu, ran a choice-route breaking out and moved the chains, but they called a holding call on our left tackle so that put us way back and we had to throw again to get back into it and we missed it. I wish I didn’t call that play on second-and-11 that led to that sack.”

Obviously, the Falcons should have won that football game, but Bill Belichick and Tom Brady made magic happen, and the rest is history.

Hopefully, for Shanahan, he can get vindication in Super Bowl 54. 

Andy Reid on Mahomes: ‘For a young guy, he’s a special kid’

Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback in football, and that has been on full display in these playoffs, including yesterday when he threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns, and he also led the Chiefs in rushing against the Titans, when he ran for 53 yards and added another touchdown on the ground, as Kansas City defeated Tennessee 35-24 in the AFC title game to advance to play the 49ers in Super Bowl 54 in Miami.

The third-year quarterback, just like he did against the Texans in the Divisional round, started slow, but picked it up as the game went along. Kansas City trailed 17-7 in the second quarter; however, the Chiefs would score the next 28 points to gain complete control of the game.

Mahomes, 24, always seems to play under control and made all the plays needed for Kansas City to beat Tennessee, and according to Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, Mahomes is a special player.

“He’s great to be around every day because he brings energy every day,” Reid said on Monday. “You respect that. Everybody has their ups and downs because there is life outside of football. When he’s in that building it’s all football; it’s all team. He’s never said it’s about me.

“I’ve never heard that from him. It’s all 100% about the team and how we’re doing and what can we do better, where can I help. Then, he buckles down to get the game plan down and he studies. For the young guys out there, what a great example. He’s not the fastest guy out there, but you see him know when to run when to get down, know when to throw it. For a young guy, he’s a special kid. The city is lucky to have him. It’s a nice match up having great fans and a great quarterback like that.”

When they get it going, Kansas City’s offense has been unstoppable in these playoffs, and no matter how great of a year Lamar Jackson had in Baltimore, Mahomes, who threw 50 touchdowns last season, has proven in these playoffs that he is the best quarterback in the NFL.

 

Rodgers on loss to SF: ‘It’s different ballgame playing in 20-degree weather with snow, cold, and wind’

Anytime you win 14 games in a season, which was the case for the 2019 Green Bay Packers, you could probably call your season a success, especially when you consider that the Packers were 6-9-1 in 2018.

Under first-year head coach Matt LaFleur, Green Bay had a lot of success in 2019, including winning the NFC North, but they just were not good enough to get past the San Francisco 49ers, who defeated the Packers 37-20 in the NFC title game at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday.

In two matchups with the 49ers in 2019, one in the regular season and playoffs, San Francisco dominated the Packers and outscored them 74-28, but according to Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, the talent gap between the two teams is not that big.

“It looks pretty big,” Rodgers said after the game. “They got us a couple of times, but I don’t think it’s that big. I think we’re really close. We’re just a little more consistent performance away from consistently playing with these guys.

“We got them at their place twice. I’ve said this before, but we’ve got to get one of these at home. It’s different ballgame playing in 20-degree weather with snow, cold, and wind. It’s a different type of game to play in.”

The 36-year-old Rodgers, who just completed his 15th NFL season, is still playing at an elite level, but he is getting older, and after how things turned out for the Packers in 2019, Rodgers thought that Green Bay could possibly win it all in 2019. 

“Yeah. It’s a little raw right now for sure,” Rodgers said. “It definitely hurts a little more than earlier in the career just because you realize how difficult it is to get to this spot. With all of the changes this offseason, the installation of a new system, and a new program, to get to this point, you feel like it was something special because it just didn’t really make sense.

“We weren’t picked by most people to win our division, but we found a way to not only do that but to win a home playoff game and get to this spot. It just kind of felt like it was meant to be almost, so that was a little bit disappointing. It’s a little more disappointing when you realize that I don’t have the same number of years ahead of me as I do behind me.”

The Packers will always have a shot as long as Rodgers is playing at an elite level. However, they have to improve their run defense and get Rodgers more to work with on offense. In reality, anytime you give up 285 yards on the ground as they did against the 49ers on Sunday, it’s tough to win, and while they won 13 games in the regular season, this team was not championship-caliber, which means they have more work to do in the offseason to make this roster better.

Joe Judge on Garrett: ‘He does a fantastic job of making in-game adjustments’

Giants coach Joe Judge today announced the three most significant members of his coaching staff: coordinators Jason Garrett (offense), Patrick Graham (defense) and Thomas McGaughey (special teams). Graham will also serve as assistant head coach.

“We’re setting out to develop a smart, tough and really sound football team and that’s going to start with the coordinators setting the tone in each room,” Judge said. “Each one has experience, each one has the ability to run multiples (schemes), put the pressure on the opponent, and each one is an excellent teacher.

“All these guys were priorities to add to our staff. You have a short list when you come into this and you make sure you go ahead and take your time and get those guys in with whatever it takes. The priority is to put the best teachers and the best people around your players so you can form a strong locker room and make them fundamentally sound and situational. And I think all three of these guys bring that to the team.”

Garrett is a former Giants backup quarterback who recently completed a 10-year stint as the Dallas Cowboys’ head coach. He was Dallas’ offensive coordinator from 2007 until his appointment as head coach midway through the 2010 season.

The Cowboys consistently had one of the NFL’s most productive offenses under Garrett. In 2019, Dallas had league-high averages of 431.5 yards a game and 6.5 yards per play. The Cowboys were second in the NFL in passing yardage (296.9 a game), fifth in rushing (134.6), tied for second in third-down conversion percentage (47.1 with 96 success in 204 opportunities) and sixth with an average of 27.1 points a game.

That continued a trend of offensive excellence by Dallas during Garrett’s tenure. The top-rated offense in the recently-concluded season marked the eighth time the Cowboys finished in the top 10 with Garrett as either coordinator or head coach. They were second in 2007 and 2009, 10th in 2010 and 2013, sixth in 2012, seventh in 2014 and fifth in 2016.

“I’ve known about Jason for a long time, not only through the general public as well-known as he is as head coach of the Cowboys,” Judge said. “There were guys I worked with that I came across in my career at both Alabama and at the New England Patriots that worked with Jason through their time in Miami with him. They consistently all reflected on how smart he is, how great a teacher he is and how his perspective of the game was through a different lens than most coaches. And when he sees it, he’s able to communicate it and paint that mental image to the players. And he does a fantastic job of making in-game adjustments.”

Garrett visited the Quest Diagnostics Training Center this week and spent much of the day meeting with Judge.

“We had some great conversations when we were able to bring him in here,” Judge said. “It was a great opportunity to get to know each other a little better than we had before. It was a great opportunity to sit there and talk ball and share philosophies and views on the game. It’s a great system he brings with great teaching that will allow our players to go out there and play aggressively.”

Under Garrett’s tutelage, quarterbacks Tony Romo and Dak Prescott, running backs DeMarco Murray and Ezekiel Elliott, wide receivers Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Amari Cooper, tight end Jason Witten and numerous offensive linemen became Pro Bowl players.

Garrett’s teams were 85-67 in the regular season and won NFC East titles in 2014, 2016 and 2018. He was selected the NFL Coach of the Year in 2016.

The new coordinator will take over an offense that includes two players chosen in the top six in the last two NFL drafts, running back Saquon Barkley (the 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year who was taken second overall, and quarterback Daniel Jones, the No. 6 selection in 2019, who threw for 3,027 yards and 24 touchdowns in 13 games (12 starts) as a rookie. The Giants finished 23rd in the NFL in total yardage (338.5 per game) and were tied for 18th in points (21.3 a game).

Garrett began his coaching career as the Miami Dolphins’ quarterbacks coach from 2004-06. He was named the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator in 2007. Three years later, he was elevated to head coach after Dallas started 1-7. His first game was a 33-20 victory against the Giants in MetLife Stadium. Garrett guided the Cowboys to a 5-3 record in the second half of that season. His 2015 team was the only one that finished with a losing record.

As a quarterback, Garrett played in 41 games with nine starts in a career that spanned from 1993-2004. He made all of his starts with the Cowboys from 1993-99. His career totals included 165 completions in 295 attempts for 2,042 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. Garrett played on two Super Bowl-winning teams in Dallas.

In 2000, Garrett joined the Giants and spent four seasons as a backup, primarily to Kerry Collins. He spent the 2004 season with Tampa Bay and Miami without appearing in a game. Garrett began coaching with the Dolphins the following year.

As a senior at Princeton University in 1988, Garrett was named the Ivy League’s Player of the Year and honorable mention All-American. He earned his degree in history in 1989 and moved on to the NFL as an un drafted rookie free agent with the New Orleans Saints’ developmental squad. After being released prior to the 1990 season, he spent the fall of 1990 as an assistant coach at Princeton. In 1991, Garrett played in the World League and the Canadian Football League before joining the Cowboys’ practice squad in 1992.

Garrett’s father, Jim, spent more than 30 years in the NFL as a coach and scout. His brother, John, is the head coach at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania.

Graham, who turns 41 on Jan. 24, joins the Giants with 11 years of NFL coaching experience with four teams. He has coached in the playoffs in eight of those seasons and has been part of teams that have won seven division titles, two conference championships and one Super Bowl (XLIX).

A former Giants assistant coach, Graham was the Miami Dolphins’ defensive coordinator in 2019. He led a unit that had a constantly-changing cast of available players because of roster transactions and injuries. The change was particularly pronounced in the secondary, where only one of the training camp starters – safety Eric Rowe – played in all 16 games. The unit’s best player, former first-round draft choice Minkah Fitzpatrick, was traded to Pittsburgh on Sept. 17. Cornerback Xavien Howard played in five games before going on injured reserve with a knee injury. Safeties Reshad Jones, a two-time Pro Bowler, and Bobby McCain appeared in four and nine games, respectively, before they were placed on I.R. on the same day.

Two linemen released by the Giants on Aug. 31 – Avery Moss and John Jenkins – started a total of eight games.

Despite the changes, the defense helped Miami win five of its last nine games after an 0-7 start (one of the losses was to the Giants). In the season finale on Dec. 29, the Dolphins earned a 27-24 victory at New England that cost the Patriots – who won the first meeting 43-0 – a first-round bye. Graham’s defense limited the Pats to 352 yards, 18 first downs and three third-down conversions.

Numerous young defenders in Miami improved significantly under Graham’s tutelage. They included linebackers Jerome Baker, who led the team with 124 tackles (74 solo), Raekwon McMillan and Vince Biegel (who was acquired in a trade for Kiko Alonso), and tackle Christian Wilkins, Miami’s first-round draft choice last year.

“We’ve had a lot of discussions, both before he came here as well as since he’s been here, in terms of what he would want to do with the scheme,” Judge said. “We share the same vision to be able to run multiples and use the players on our roster to the best of their ability to match up against the opponent.”

Prior to joining the Dolphins, Graham spent the 2018 season as the Green Bay Packers’ inside linebackers coach and defensive run game coordinator. He helped linebacker Blake Martinez have the best year of his career to date, totaling 144 tackles (91 solo) and a career-high 5.0 sacks.

Graham spent the 2016 and 2017 seasons as the Giants’ defensive line coach. In 2017, he helped Jason Pierre-Paul lead the team with 8.5 sacks and Damon Harrison post 76 tackles (51 solo), which was second on the team and led all NFL defensive tackles.

The previous year, Graham helped the Giants’ defense become the most improved in the NFL. The team allowed 158 fewer points and 1,290 fewer yards than it did in 2015. Their 17.8 points per game allowed was second in the NFL and the team’s best since 2002.

Graham began his NFL coaching career in New England, where he spent seven seasons (2009-15). He began as a coaching assistant in 2009 before being promoted to defensive assistant in 2010 and linebackers coach in 2011. He moved to defensive line from 2012-13 before going back to linebackers in 2014-15.

During his tenure with New England, the Patriots won the division all seven seasons, the AFC twice and Super Bowl XLIX. In his five seasons as a position coach (2011-15), New England led the NFL in takeaways (150) and was tied for fourth in sacks (214).

Graham came to New England following two seasons (2007-08) as a graduate assistant at Notre Dame, where he worked with the defense. He spent three seasons (2004-06) as an assistant coach at Richmond, mentoring tight ends from 2005-06 and the defensive line in 2004.

Graham began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Wagner (2002-03), while he pursued an MBA with a concentration in finance. He coached the junior-varsity team to an undefeated season and also served as strength and conditioning coach and academic coordinator.

Graham played collegiately at Yale, where he was a defensive lineman for the 1999 team that shared an Ivy League title with Brown. He earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology with a concentration in economics and African-American studies.

McGaughey recently completed his second season as the Giants’ special teams coordinator. He was previously a coordinator for three other teams and was the Giants’ assistant special teams coach from 2007-10.

“I’ve known T-Mac from going against him as well as being in the business and I have a good relationship with him professionally and personally,” Judge said. “I have a lot of respect for him as a coach and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a person. He gets the most out of his players. I’ve competed against him and I knew it was always going to be tough sledding in the game there. From the perspective of having to go against him, you understand you don’t want to get him out of the building; you want to hold onto guys like that. They’re definitely key assets. He and (assistant former coordinator) Tom Quinn do an outstanding job of working together, coaching the players in techniques and coming up with schemes for game plans that allow them to apply pressure on the opponents.”

The special teams have consistently been among the NFL’s best under McGaughey.

In 2019, the Giants’ kickoff coverage team led the league by allowing an average return of 18.1 yards. The punt coverage team was tied for fifth as opponents averaged just 5.7 yards a return. Conversely, the Giants were fourth and 10th, respectively, in the NFL in punt (9.8 yards) and kickoff (23.5 yards) return average. Punter Riley Dixon was ninth in the league with a franchise-record 42.3-yard net average. He set the previous mark of 41.8 yards, set in 2018.

The special teams performed impressively in McGaughey’s first season as coordinator in 2018. Aldrick Rosas had one of the finest seasons by a kicker in Giants history as he was selected to his first Pro Bowl and named second-team All-Pro after making 32 of 33 field goal attempts and 31 of 32 extra point tries. The 32 field goals were the fifth-highest total in Giants history.

Rosas’ .970 field goal percentage was a Giants record and was just 1/100th of a percentage point behind NFL leader Robbie Gould. Rosas’ 127 points tied Ali Haji-Sheikh (1983) for the fifth-highest total in Giants history. He hit his final 19 field goal attempts, including a team-record 57-yarder against Chicago in MetLife Stadium.

Michael Thomas led the Giants with nine special teams tackles (six solo) and was the NFC special teams player in the Pro Bowl.

The Giants finished second in the NFL in kickoff coverage, limiting opponents to an average return of 20.4 yards, and seventh in punt coverage with a 6.6-yard average. The team’s kickoff return rose from 19.6 to 24.4 yards, and their average punt return improved from 5.5 to 6.2 yards.

McGaughey was the special teams coordinator at LSU from 2011-13 and for the Jets (2014), San Francisco 49ers (2015) and Carolina Panthers (2016-17) before returning to the Giants.

Courtesy: Michael Eisen

Listen to Go4it! Guest: Hall of Famer Willie Roaf

We will be talking sports and having fun doing it. We will be joined Hall of Famer Willie Roaf, who will discuss Championship Weekend in the NFL. Will Mahomes and the Chiefs get to the Super Bowl, or will Henry and the Titans keep surprising the top teams in the AFC.

In the NFC, will Rodgers and the Packers be able to go into San Francisco and defeat the 49ers?

We will talk about it all.

Listen below:

Demi Lovato to perform the National Anthem at Super Bowl LIV

Multi-platinum singer, songwriter, DEMI LOVATO will sing the National Anthem as part of Super Bowl LIV pregame festivities at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on Sunday, February 2, the NFL and FOX announced today.

The pregame show, including the National Anthem, will be broadcast live worldwide.

Lovato is a Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, actress, advocate, philanthropist, and business woman. Within hours of the release of Lovato’s fifth studio album, CONFIDENT, the first single, “Cool for the Summer” trended worldwide and hit #1 on iTunes in 37 countries.

Lovato will join a prestigious line up of Super Bowl National Anthem performers, including: Gladys Knight, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Luke Bryan, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Jennifer Hudson, Billy Joel, P!NK, Jordin Sparks, Idina Menzel, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, and Neil Diamond.

In addition, on behalf of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), CHRISTINE SUN KIM, internationally renowned sound artist and performer, will sign the National Anthem in American Sign Language.

The NFL previously announced that Jennifer Lopez and Shakira will headline the Pepsi Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show. The pregame and halftime shows are an NFL NETWORK PRODUCTION and will be executive produced by RICKY KIRSHNER.

 

HOF Roaf on Winston: ‘I think there’s something not right mentally'(AUDIO)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston put up some big numbers in 2019. However, all those big numbers were not positive. Winston became the eighth quarterback in NFL history to throw for 5,000 yards in a season(5,109 yards). He also threw 33 touchdown passes. Here is the bad: Winston threw 30 interceptions in 2019, and became the first player to join the 30-30 club(30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in one season).

The fifth-year quarterback can become a free agent in the offseason, and the Buccaneers will have an interesting decision to make. Do they bring him back, or do they let him walk? 

Winston made $20.9 million in 2019.  

If it were up to Hall of Famer Willie Roaf, he would bring Winston back, but at a reduced rate, and if it were up to Roaf, Tampa would bring in a reliable backup just in case Winston struggles. 

“I think there’s something not right mentally there; I don’t think it’s nothing personal,” Roaf recently told the Go4it podcast. “If you want to bring him back at a reduced salary, I’ll bring him back at a reduced salary. Maybe $10 million, but I gotta bring somebody else in there to push him, so I know I got a reliable backup like (Ryan) Fitzpatrick(played in Tampa in 2018), “FitzMagic.” The way he played in the second half of the season was amazing at his age, and the way he went in there and beat the Patriots..

“Because he(Winston) played so well in spurts, you bring him back, but I gotta bring somebody in there that will motivate him, that’s going to push him; that’s a real good quarterback..

“If he keeps throwing those picks, he’s going to lose a defense, he’s going to lose a team, so guys are not going to respond because every time they go out there, ‘Okay, we know he’s going to throw some touchdowns, we know he’s going to throw some picks.”

The 26-year-old Winston has a lot of ability, but to Roaf’s point, something is missing. It’s tough to win in the NFL, and it’s even harder to win when your quarterback throws 30 interceptions. 

I don’t think Tampa Bay can bring him back, especially after the numbers he put up this season. However, if the price is right, maybe the Buccaneers will consider it, but there is no way Tampa can give him $20 to 30 million a year.  

Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians recently said this about Winston:

“If we can win with this one, we can definitely win with another one, too.”

Welp, Bruce, it might be time to see if you can win without Winston.

Listen to the complete interview with Roaf as he talks Jameis Winston: