Jags’ Robinson a finalist for NFL Rookie of the Year

The National Football League today announced RB James Robinson as a finalist for the 2020 PEPSI ZERO SUGAR NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR award. Robinson would be the first undrafted player in NFL history to win the award.

The 2020 PEPSI ZERO SUGAR NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR award will be recognized in Tampa Bay and presented a trophy virtually during Super Bowl LV festivities and online.

Robinson started 14 games in 2020 and finished with 1,414 scrimmage yards (1,070 rushing, 344 receiving), the most scrimmage yards by an undrafted rookie in the common-draft era. He was the only rookie in the NFL to average more than 100 scrimmage yards per game this season. His 1,070 rushing yards ranked second among rookies and fifth overall. Robinson’s 1,070 rushing yards stand as the second-most by a rookie in franchise history, trailing only RB Fred Taylor (1,223 in 1998).

The Illinois State product scored 10 total TDs (seven rushing, three receiving), which were tied for the fourth-most among rookies in the NFL in 2020. He also led all rookie running backs this season in receptions (49) and receiving TDs (three). His 49 receptions eclipsed RB Maurice Jones-Drew’s record (46) for most receptions by a rookie running back in franchise history.

“He is almost not human the way he, week in and week out, is able to perform,” WR Collin Johnson said. “It’s just impressive and motivating too, seeing an undrafted guy come in here and put up the numbers he’s doing and being such a good teammate. It’s motivating. He’s a great guy for our locker room and just a beast.”

He is the third undrafted rookie with 10 TDs in the common-draft era, joining RB Phillip Lindsay (2018) and Dominic Rhodes (2001). Robinson had seven games with at least 100 scrimmage yards this season, tied with Clark Gaines (seven games in 1976) for the most such games by an undrafted rookie since 1967.

Robinson was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month in September after starting the first three games of the season and registering 339 scrimmage yards (210 rushing, 129 receiving) and three TDs. He became the first undrafted player in NFL history to post at least 300 scrimmage yards and multiple TDs through three career games, and his 339 scrimmage yards are the most ever by an undrafted player through three career games. His 339 scrimmage yards and 210 rushing yards are both the most in team history through a player’s first three games.

Vikings’ Jefferson named Second-Team All-Pro

Minnesota Vikings rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson was tabbed Second Team All-Pro by The Associated Press.  Jefferson garners his first All-Pro nod in his rookie campaign after a record-setting season in 2020.

The Associated Press NFL All-Pro teams are voted on by a national panel of 50 media members.

He is the only rookie to be named First or Second Team All-Pro this season and one of two rookies to receive votes (along with Tampa Bay’s Tristan Wirfs). Jefferson is the first Vikings rookie to garner All-Pro honors since Cordarrelle Patterson was selected First Team All-Pro as a kick returner in 2013. In December, the LSU product joined Randy Moss (1998) and Sammy White (1976) as the only Vikings rookie wide receivers to be named to the Pro Bowl in their first seasons.

Jefferson also joined Moss and Amari Cooper (2015) as the only wide receivers in NFL history to be named to a Pro Bowl at the age of 21. Percy Harvin (2009) and Mecole Hardman (2019) were both selected at the age of 21 as return specialists. The fifth receiver drafted in 2020, Jefferson broke the 18-year, Super Bowl-era rookie record for receiving yards (1,400) and set Vikings rookie records for receiving yards, receptions (88) and 100- yard games (7), passing the marks established by Hall of Famer Randy Moss during his 1998 Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Jefferson’s 1,400 yards ranked third among wide receivers, and his 23 receptions that gained 20 or more yards tied for the most in the league.

With his 133-yard performance at Detroit in Week 17, Jefferson became just the second player in the Super Bowl era to record seven 100-yard receiving games as a rookie, joining Odell Beckham Jr. (2014). His 87.5 receiving yards per game also rank second-most by a rookie in the history of the league behind only Beckham Jr. (108.8). Overall, the St. Rose, Louisiana, native joined Moss (in the 1999, 2000 and 2003 season) as the only players in team history to tally 1,400 receiving yards or more in a single season.

Brady: ‘Playoff football is pretty special’

Tom Brady got the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the playoffs for the first time since 2007, and now he is hoping to get this franchise a second Super Bowl title. The journey begins on Saturday night when Tampa Bay(11-5) travels to D.C to battle the Washington Football(7-9) in the wild-card game.

As they enter the playoffs, Brady and the Buccaneers’ offense has been rolling. Tampa Bay has averaged 40 points a game, and in those three contests, Brady has thrown for 1137 yards with 10 touchdowns and only one interception.

The 43-year-old Brady looks comfortable in this offense, and they are flourishing on that side of the ball at the right time. 

“I’d say every week is getting a little bit better and a little bit more consistent [with] better communication,” Brady said about the offense on Thursday. “We’re all understanding each other a little bit better each week. Football season is tough – there’s a lot of things to coordinate, there’s a lot of moving parts, different players, and in and out, you’re running different schemes. But I think we’ve just tried to not take the foot off the gas pedal [and] tried to understand each other a little bit better each week and try to put ourselves in a decent position.”

According to Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, Tampa Bay will be tough to beat if they continue to score at this level.

“I don’t think with our defense we’re going to lose too many games if we can score 37,” he said. “I’m really satisfied with 30.”

During his 20 seasons with the Patriots, Brady has missed the playoffs only once, and according to the six-time Super Bowl winner, being in the playoffs is a privilege.

“Any time you make the playoffs, it’s a good feeling, and it’s a great opportunity to be playing this weekend. A privilege, I think, for all of us, he said. “I think we want to go make the most of it. Playoff football is pretty special to be a part of, and I’ll be excited to be out there Saturday night…

“I think it’s a different newness, but the same excitement to be ready to go out there and take a bunch of teammates. Going on the road in the playoffs is a tough thing to do. We’re a team that’s made a bunch of improvements over the course of the year, and we have to be at our best. That’s what this part of the season is all about. Regular season is what it is. You put it in the books [and] we’re here to win playoff games.”

Tampa Bay should beat Washington on Saturday; they are just the better team. However, it’s one game, and anything can happen, but with Brady at the helm, expect the Buccaneers to make it to the divisional round of the playoffs.

 

Brady named FexEx Air Player of the Week

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady was named FedEx Air Player of the Week for Week 17, the NFL announced on Wednesday, marking the 12th time Brady has won this award in his career and the second time with the Buccaneers.

In a 44-27 win versus Atlanta, Brady completed 26-of-41 passes for 399 yards and four touchdowns, recording a 117.8 passer rating. His 399 passing yards were the second most by any player in the final week of the 2020 regular season while his four passing touchdowns tied for the most.

The 43-year-old Brady finished his first season in Tampa Bay with a franchise-record 40 passing touchdowns to go along with 4,633 yards, which rank as the second-most in a single season in team history. Brady’s 102.2 passer rating in 2020 is the highest single-season mark in team history (min. 224 attempts). His 40 passing touchdowns surpassed Peyton Manning (37 in 2012 with Denver) for the most by a player in his first season with a team, while his 4,633 passing yards are the second-most by a player in his first season with a team.

 

Vikings’ Cousins named NFC Offensive Player of the Week

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has been named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in Minnesota’s Week 17 victory against the Detroit Lions.

Cousins, a nine-year pro, led the Vikings in the season-ending victory as he completed 28-of-40 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns en route to a 127.6 passer rating. Cousins also scored one of the Vikings two rushing touchdowns in the 37-35 win over Detroit. With three touchdown passes against the Lions, Cousins became the second player in team history to throw 35 or more touchdowns in a season, joining Daunte Culpepper who holds the team record of 39 set in 2004.

He finished the season with a franchise record eight games of three-plus passing touchdowns, passing Culpepper’s previous record of seven (2000). Cousins’ 17 career games with 300-plus passing yards, three-plus touchdowns and 115.0 or better passer rating are the most in the first nine seasons of a quarterback’s career in NFL history.

The accolade marks Cousins’ sixth-career NFC Offensive Player of the Week honor and second as a Viking. In October 2019, he was tabbed NFC Offensive Player of the Month for the third time in his career.

Giants’ Mara on Barkley: ‘I certainly expect him to be a Giant for a very long time’

New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley was looking to have a big season in 2020. The third-year back has been over one-thousand yards in each of his first two seasons, and he was hoping to be better this season. Before the start of the season, in 29 games, Barkley rushed for over 2300 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground. In addition, Barkley has over 1200 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

However, in Week 2 against the Bears, Barkley’s season ended after he tore his ACL. As Barkley works his way back from the injury, he is in line for an extension. 

The two running backs that got paid recently were the Saints’ Alvin Kamara(15 million per season) and the Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey(16 million per season).

Will Barkley get paid like those guys?

It should be interesting to see what the Giants will do with Barkley. If New York does not extend Barkley, he can become a free agent after the 2021 season. However,  if the team picks up his fifth-year option, Barkley would be under contract for the 2022 season. After that, they can use the franchise tag to keep him in New York through 2023.

Coming off an ACL injury, Giants co-owner John Mara expects Barkley to return to form and be a big part of the team for a long time.

“It was brutal to watch him go down in Week 2,” Mara said about Barkley on Wednesday. “He’s such an important part of this team, not only for what he does on the field but the leadership and all of the intangibles he brings to us off the field. That was really a gut-punch. Listen, I’m still happy that we have him. I think knowing him, he’s going to come back stronger than ever and be a big part of this team next year. In terms of what the time table is, it’s hard to predict that right now. I know our medical people are very pleased with the progress he’s made. I certainly expect him to be a Giant for a very long time.”

If Barkley had stayed healthy and put up big numbers in 2020, he would have most definitely gotten paid, but now things are uncertain. However, if Barkley comes back the same guy, he’s probably going to get paid. It just might happen a year later than he thought.

 

Giants’ Gettleman: ‘At the end of the day, we need to find playmakers’

Dave Gettleman believes in Daniel Jones as strongly as ever and is excited about the prospects for the Giants’ offensive line. He is also dissatisfied the team averaged only 17.5 points a game in 2020.

Because of that, the general manager today had no reason to be coy regarding the franchise’s objectives as it enters a critical offseason.

“At the end of the day, we need to find playmakers,” Gettleman said during his annual postseason news conference on Zoom. “That’s all there is to it. I’m not sugarcoating it. If you talk about philosophically doing roster building, it’s the Q (quarterback), it’s the big men who allow you to compete. On offense, it’s playmakers. We have to be very conscious of it. We’re going to find the right guys to help Daniel get us over that hump.

“We’ve got great leadership. We’ve got a young club, a new, young team. I understand that. At the end of the day, this is an important offseason, roster building offseason, for us. We’ve got some solid pieces. We’ve built up the lines. We’ve done some things. We have to continue to get good players and part of it is getting playmakers, because that’s what you’re referring to. This is a goal of ours, obviously, for the offseason.”

On his own Zoom call with reporters, team president and chief executive officer John Mara expressed a similar sentiment.

“I think we certainly need to help our offense a little bit this offseason, be it free agency and the draft,” Mara said. “I think we need some more pieces there. Part of the problem that we had is we had a brand new offensive line with new guys playing new positions. They had never played together before, we had no offseason, we had no preseason games for them to get to know each other and get the feel for playing with one another, and they struggled, particularly early in the year, no question about it. I thought they started to play better in the second half of the season. But there’s no question that we need to help our offense going forward and add some more pieces. That will be a priority for us.”

The Giants were 6-10 and NFC East second-place finishers in 2020. Despite the record, they would be preparing for a postseason game as division champions had Washington lost to Philadelphia Sunday night.

Gettleman acknowledges the roster must be upgraded before the 2021 season begins. But he strongly believes the Giants have the two elements most critical to any improvement with Joe Judge as coach and Jones at quarterback.

“The bottom line is, with Joe, is his big picture view and then the follow up on the attention to detail,” Gettleman said. “That’s what’s really critical. He starts at A and gets to Z. That is huge, that is really huge. Obviously, he is a very bright guy. That’s what really sticks out in my mind. Just the big picture and the attention to detail. No detail is too small, the old saying, ‘The devil is in the details.’ He and his staff, he is really tuned into that.”

Gettleman selected Jones sixth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft and he’s more convinced than ever that it was the correct decision.

“Obviously, he flashed last year,” Gettleman said of Jones’ rookie season. “He had some big games and played well. Then he had games that weren’t so great. This year, early in the season he was struggling with his ball protection. We all know that. The second half of the year unfortunately he had that blip with the hamstring (and missed two games). He finished the season very strong. He played well against Baltimore despite getting chased all over the place to a degree. Made some big-time throws.”

In the season-ending 23-19 victory against Dallas on Sunday, Jones completed 17 of 25 passes for 229 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for a season-best 106.9 passer rating. That would have put the Giants into the postseason had the Philadelphia Eagles defeated Washington that night.

“Really and truly, it may sound trite, but obviously the last game of the year was a playoff game for us, it really was,” Gettleman said. “We have to win that game to force Washington to win their game. Daniel played very well. He made a couple of big-time throws. Protected the ball for the most part. The one pick was off of Evan’s (Engram) hands. He’s done a lot of really good stuff. He’s made of the right stuff mentally and physically. Again, we’re talking about a young quarterback who has had two different offensive coordinators in the NFL. Two different systems. Obviously, he had a different one at Duke, so he got three different systems in three years. I thought he got beyond the hamstring the last two games and he played well. We have complete confidence in him moving forward.”

Upgrading the offensive line has been one of Gettleman’s priorities since he arrived. This year, the group had three new starters in left tackle Andrew Thomas (the team’s 2020 first-round draft choice) left guard Shane Lemieux (a fifth-round selection) and center Nick Gates, a third-year pro who had never before played the position. Communication and continuity are considered critical for an O-line and as Mara noted, this group (which early in the season had Will Hernandez at left guard) had to develop a rapport via virtual meetings and training camp practices.

“We’ve got some really nice, young pieces,” Gettleman said. “Nick Gates stepped in there. He’d never played offensive center before. We drafted Will (Hernandez) and Shane Lemieux. You have (Kevin) Zeitler and Andrew Thomas who acquitted himself very well when he had that rough patch and then he got himself rolling again. I think this offensive line can compete. You can cherry pick here, cherry pick there, in terms of which game you want to pick and how the offense did. The offensive line showed very good progress. They’re big, they’re young, they’re strong and they’re tough and smart. This O-Line has a chance to be pretty damn good.”

The defensive line already is, most notably Leonard Williams. Gettleman was roundly criticized at midseason in 2019 when he sent three and fifth-round draft choices to the Jets for Williams, a first-round draft choice in 2015. Williams was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week twice following two of the final five games, including after his career-high three-sack performance against Dallas. He finished the season with a team-high and career-best 11.5 sacks.

“Leonard deserves a lot of credit for how he prepared this year,” Gettleman said. “Sean Spencer working with him as the D-line coach, the scheme that (defensive coordinator) Pat (Graham) had for him.. There was a reason that (Williams was the sixth overall selection in the draft). Leonard did a great job. He did a great job of working his fanny off. Again, the atmosphere for our players – one of hard work, you can have fun, you can enjoy yourself and Leonard did a heck of a job and his position coach, Sean Spencer, Pat Graham and Joe. The bottom line is he thrived in our atmosphere. I’m ecstatic. It’s like I tell players all the time, ‘I only want you to be successful and I want you to make me cry when it comes to negotiations.’”

While the Giants have numerous promising pieces on offense and defense, growing pains are always difficult to endure. Aside from perhaps Mara, no one has felt them more acutely than Gettleman.

“Of course, it’s disappointing,” Gettleman said. “It’s disappointing not just for me personally, but I’m disappointed for the organization. I’m disappointed for the players and the fans. Sure, it’s disappointing. Listen, last time I double checked, it’s about winning. I’m very disappointed. I guess the best thing I can say is – John said in 2018 we didn’t have a stellar year, didn’t have a stellar roster building season, it’s affected us. We’re on the right track right now. We’ve done some really good stuff the last two years. We’re going to fix this. We are going to fix this.”

Gettleman is a cancer survivor who turns 70 next month. But he is determined and motivated to lead the fix.

“I feel good, I feel strong. I had my 24-month review with my lymphoma doctor. He says you’re as healthy as a horse. Let’s just keep moving, so I’m ready to rock.

“It really is dependent upon the Lord how long I stick around for. We’re all day to day, by the way, in case anybody missed that point. I feel fine, I feel good, I’m excited. I just want to keep going. I don’t know where this retirement stuff came from. I have no idea what that’s all about. There are probably some people that… at the end of the day, I feel great. So, let’s keep going.”

Via: giants.com

NFL Draft order for 2021, first 18 picks set

The Jacksonville Jaguars own the No. 1 pick in the 2021 National Football League Draft, which is scheduled for April 29-May 1 in Cleveland, Ohio.

The tentative order of the first round was announced today by the NFL, subject to the results of the playoffs.

The draft order is determined by the following procedures:

(A)            The winner of the Super Bowl selects last and the loser selects next-to-last in all rounds, regardless of the record of the participating clubs in the regular season.

(B)            The losers of the Conference Championship games select 29th and 30th in all rounds, according to the reverse order of their standing.

(C)           The losers of the Divisional Playoffs select 25th through 28th in all rounds, according to the reverse order of their standing.

(D)           The losers of the Wild Card games select 19th through 24th in all rounds, according to the reverse order of their standing.

(E)            Clubs not participating in the playoffs select in the first through 18th positions in all rounds, according to the reverse order of their standing.​

If, after all the foregoing procedures have been applied, ties still exist in any grouping except (A) above, such ties shall be broken by figuring the aggregate won-lost-tied percentage of each involved club’s regular-season opponents and awarding preferential selection order to the club that faced the schedule of teams with the lowest aggregate won-lost-tied percentage.

If ties still exist between teams in the same division or the same conference, the divisional or conference tie-breaking method is used, whichever is applicable.

If ties still exist, the procedures for breaking ties for teams of different conferences shall be applied.

For interconference ties, the draft order is determined by the following procedures:

  1. Ties involving TWO teams from different conferences will be broken by (a) head-to-head meeting; (b) best won-loss-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four, (c) strength of victory in all games, (d) best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed in all games, (e) best net points in all games, (f) best net touchdowns in all games, and finally (g) coin toss.

  2. Ties involving THREE OR MORE clubs from different conferences will be broken by applying (a) divisional tie breakers to determine the lowest-ranked team in a division, (b) conference tie-breakers to determine the lowest-ranked team within a conference, and (c) interconference ties breakers to determine the lowest-ranked team in the league. The process will be repeated until the draft order has been established.

Clubs involved in two-club ties will alternate positions from round to round. In ties that involve three or more clubs, the club at the top of a tied segment in a given round will move to the bottom of the segment for the next round, while all other clubs in the segment move up one position. This rotation continues throughout the Draft.

2021 FIRST-ROUND DRAFT ORDER

 

#

Team

Win

Loss

Tie

Winning Percentage

Opp Win

Opp Loss

Opp Tie

Strength of Schedule

1.

Jacksonville Jaguars

1

15

0

.063

140

115

1

.549

2.

New York Jets

2

14

0

.125

152

104

0

.594

3.

Houston Texans
(traded to Miami)

4

12

0

.250

138

117

1

.541

4.

Atlanta Falcons

4

12

0

.250

141

115

0

.551

5.

Cincinnati Bengals

4

11

1

.281

135

120

1

.529

6.

Philadelphia Eagles

4

11

1

.281

137

118

1

.537

7.

Detroit Lions

5

11

0

.313

130

126

0

.508

8.

Carolina Panthers

5

11

0

.313

136

120

0

.531

9.

Denver Broncos

5

11

0

.313

145

111

0

.566

10.

Dallas Cowboys

6

10

0

.375

119

134

3

.471

11.

New York Giants

6

10

0

.375

127

126

3

.502

12.

San Francisco 49ers

6

10

0

.375

140

115

1

.549

13.

Los Angeles Chargers

7

9

0

.438

123

132

1

.482

14.

Minnesota Vikings

7

9

0

.438

129

127

0

.504

15.

New England Patriots

7

9

0

.438

135

121

0

.527

16.

Arizona Cardinals

8

8

0

.500

121

134

1

.475

17.

Las Vegas Raiders

8

8

0

.500

138

118

0

.539

18.

Miami Dolphins

10

6

0

.625

119

136

1

.467

19.

Washington Football Team*

7

9

0

.438

116

Giants’ Judge on Julian Love: ‘He’s a guy that brings a lot of versatility to us’

The flexibility and multiple skills Julian Love contributes to the Giants’ secondary is perhaps best exemplified by his positioning and performance in the team’s first and final games of the 2020 season.

In the season opener against Pittsburgh, Love started and played all 64 defensive snaps and had three solo tackles at safety. Sixteen weeks later, he started at cornerback, missed just one of the 82 defensive plays and had seven tackles (five solo) in the season-ending victory against Dallas.

So, where will Love play in 2021, when he will be a third-year pro in a defensive backfield that is arguably the Giants’ deepest position group? Anywhere the team wants him.

“After talking to the coaches, the versatility role for me is kind of what will happen going forward as well,” Love said on a Zoom call today. “Kind of being able to play a lot of positions, and then we’ll see how the offseason goes. I’m going to keep working and try to really establish myself in a role. But right now, my role is the guy who can get it anywhere for us.

“I think that’s kind of what I’ve always done before college, high school ball and growing up. It’s kind of a fun aspect of playing the game.”

The drawback to not having a set position is that Love spends more time in some games on the sideline than on the field. He played no more than 50% of the defensive snaps in six games and played only on special teams at Dallas on Oct. 11. In the season’s penultimate game, he participated in only 11 defensive plays (16.2%) in Baltimore.

“They told us that’s kind of how things might operate,” Love said. “One week you might not play at all, one week you might play every snap. I thought it was kind of a joke, like, ‘Oh okay, yeah you need to be ready, you have to be flexible,’ all that stuff. But for me, it was pretty real. It requires some patience at times. But I knew there was always a plan. That kept me motivated, it kept me going. I was always really on the game plan and really ready to go. The ending, a lot of snaps played, I played the last game, it sent me into the offseason ready to keep working and keep growing.”

Love did play in all 16 games, starting six, and was on the field enough to finish fourth on the team with 61 tackles (45 solo). He picked up his second career interception – both in Chicago – and had three passes defensed.

Love made his first pro start at cornerback against Cleveland on Dec. 20, after James Bradberry was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. He played little against the Ravens but replaced Isaac Yiadom at the corner opposite Bradberry on Sunday vs. the Cowboys.

“He’s a guy that brings a lot of versatility to us,” coach Joe Judge said. “He’s just a steady, even-keeled guy. (Against Cleveland), we had a situation come up with the corner position. When we went to Julian and said, ‘Hey, you have to play corner this week,’ he didn’t blink. He said, ‘Whatever you need,’ and went out there and worked it. I thought he played a solid game for us right there. That just kind of shows his overall value to the defense, his ability to play nickel corner, perimeter corner, or deep field safety. He does a lot of things for us and that’s a strength.”

Love played cornerback at Notre Dame where, as a junior in 2018, he started all 13 games and was one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is presented to the nation’s best defensive back. The Giants selected him in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft and after playing as a reserve early in his rookie season, Love started the season’s last five games at strong safety, after Jabrill Peppers suffered a season-ending back injury.

This year, Love started the season’s first two games at free safety before veteran Logan Ryan replaced him. He started two games at midseason as an extra safety. When Love next appeared as a starter, against the Browns, it was at corner. He played there against Dallas and helped limited the Cowboys’ talented trio of wideouts – Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb – to 133 yards and no touchdowns on 15 catches.

“It was pretty fun,” Love said of returning to corner. “Kind of going back to some of the roots I established in college. I enjoyed it.

“Julian Love had to be prepared,” Ryan said. “He looked like he was up for the Thorpe Award again, like he was at Notre Dame. It was like his old Notre Dame days again. There was a lot of him.”

Ryan is a role model for Love. Prior to joining the Giants, Ryan played seven seasons for New England and Tennessee and started 95 regular-season and postseason games. Every one of them was at cornerback or as an unspecified defensive back. Ryan made his first career start at safety on Sept. 27 against San Francisco.

“Logan Ryan, having him on the team really helps me, football wise and just off the field wise,” Love said. “He’s a true pro in all he does. It’s easy to look at him and say, ‘Alright, this is kind of what I want to be. This is the type of player and person I’m striving to get toward, the type of career I’m trying to have.’ He was a guy I could always ask any question about, whether it was technical or not. He always had an answer for me. Him and Nate Ebner have really just helped me grow. Those guys, their careers are something you only dream of. Hopefully, I can learn from them going forward.”

The Giants have a talented group of returning defensive backs, including Bradberry, Ryan, Peppers, 2020 rookies Xavier McKinney and Darnay Holmes, and Love.

“We have some very talented pieces, and it does nothing but excite us going forward,” Love said. “We have a lot of players who have that just base of being ballplayers, and guys who are versatile, guys who can play different types of schemes. I know we’re going to use that to the best of our ability. We’re going to max out everything we have in the back end because when you look at it, we have kind of a young core. Logan Ryan and James Bradberry are experienced players. We’re young but we’re very talented. We feel the sky is really the limit for us. I think it’s perfect Xavier McKinney finishing the game (with an interception), finishing the season for us. That just shows kind of where our trajectory is, really.”

Via: giants.com

Bucs’ Arians on Brady: ‘I envisioned 40 [touchdowns]’

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady gave the team everything they could ask for in 2020. He led them to 11 wins after Tampa Bay(11-5) defeated the Falcons 44-27 on Sunday. The 11 wins are tied for the second most wins in a single season in team history and the first season with at least 11 wins since 2005. With the victory, the Buccaneers will be the 5th-seed in the NFC playoffs and play the Washington Football Team on Saturday night.

Brady also threw 40 touchdowns this season, a franchise-record, and the second time Brady has thrown 40 or more touchdowns in a season. He also surpassed Peyton Manning (37 in 2012 with Denver) for the most touchdown passes in NFL history by a player in his first season with a team (includes rookies).

After the game, the 43-year-old Brady discussed throwing 40 touchdowns in 2020.

“Whatever happens for me as a quarterback is reflective of what our group does on offense,” Brady said. “I love playing with the guys I play with. We’ve got a great group of receivers, great group of tight ends – very selfless – the backs have done an incredible job. The way the offensive line is playing and protecting gives any quarterback a great opportunity. It’s a team sport – those are great team accomplishments. Just proud of all the guys [for] what they put in this year. Now we’re moving into the playoffs. We have a great opportunity ahead of us, and we’ve got to go try and take advantage of it.”

According to Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, he expected Brady to throw 40 touchdowns this season.

“I think he broke Peyton Manning’s record for [touchdown passes] being [in the first season] with a team [by] throwing 40 touchdowns,” he said. “I think Peyton had 37, so I know he’ll like that [and] Peyton will be pissed. When we first met, that’s really what we talked about – the guys that we have and what he could do with the players that we have. Adding Rob Gronkowski to the mix just helped. I envisioned 40 [touchdowns]. When he first signed, I said, ‘OK, we’ll be a 40 [touchdown] and 10 [interception] team.’ I was expecting practice; I was expecting OTAs and those things. What he’s done with none of that – especially this last half of the season – is incredible.”

Buccaneers WR Mike Evans also had a milestone on Sunday before leaving the game with a knee injury in the second quarter. Evans surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the seventh-straight season. Evans is the first player in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards in seven consecutive seasons to begin his career, surpassing Randy Moss (six straight seasons). Evans finished his seventh season with a franchise-record 13 receiving touchdowns.

Regarding Evans, Arians did say after the game that he does not think Evans has any “serious damage” to his knee.

if Tampa Bay can win three games, probably all on the road, they will be the first team to play a Super Bowl at their home stadium. It won’t be easy, but you have Brady, so anything is possible

No matter what happens, the next few weeks should be interesting!