Giants' Tuck: Stopping Vick 'almost impossible', plus 10 things to watch
Justin Tuck: Michael Vick 'playing better than all the great pocket QBs of today'
For Rams to upset Falcons, offensive line will need to keep Sam Bradford clean
The most important game of the weekend is not Colts-Pats or Giants-Eagles
We're still trying to digest what we saw Michael Vick do Monday night, aren't we? So are the New York Giants.
It was pretty easy for the G-Men to forget about the egg they laid Sunday against Dallas when they sat in front of the TV Monday night and watched one of the greatest performances by a quarterback in NFL history. Vick was on their minds because he and the Eagles are next on the schedule, Sunday night in Philadelphia.
You know what you hear from NFL players when they're about to play a great player? He's terrific, but all we have to be concerned with is playing our game. If we do, we'll be fine. I've heard that for 26 years. But the Giants know this week they're up against something entirely different.
You don't go on the road, like the Eagles did on Monday, and build a 35-0 lead with five lightning-fast series through 16 minutes against a team playing for its playoff life. Vick played peerless football Monday -- we all saw it -- and the Giants know it's futile to try to pretend they didn't see what they just saw. Two days of Vick/Eagles film study hasn't changed their opinion, according to my conversation with Giants defensive end Justin Tuck.
"The way he played the other night makes him almost impossible to stop,'' Tuck said while driving home from practice Thursday. "I dare say, he's playing better than all the great pocket quarterbacks of today. There is no defense for what he did -- throwing the beautiful deep ball he throws, running as explosively as he ran. If he plays that way every game, they may not lose the rest of the year.''
No. If he plays that way every game, they won't lose the rest of the year. All the way through the Super Bowl.
I love the simplicity of the New York Giants' approach this weekend. As Tuck said: "Our plan is to pressure him. You sit back, basically like Washington did, and he'll kill you. You pressure him and try to move him with different looks, he might kill you. Pick your poison. But I think if you don't hurry him up, there is no question about it -- he will kill you. He throws the deep ball as accurately as anyone I've ever seen ... Look at the deep ball he threw on the first drive to DeSean Jackson.''
Part of the plan is to disrupt Jackson, which I think is smart. "He's only 170 pounds,'' said Tuck. "You've got to hit him coming off the line. Our goal is to upset his timing so he can't be running free the way he does, or at least it takes him some time to get downfield.''
What makes defending Vick hard, of course, is his ability to avoid rushers and move confidently in the pocket to max-out his time before throwing. The "NFL Matchup Show'' on ESPN Sunday morning will have a great bit, according to host Sal Paolantonio, who told us this morning on Sirius NFL Radio that Vick had 7.3 seconds -- beyond an eternity in the quarterback-timing business -- from the time he was snapped the ball to the time he released the pass to Jason Avant for a touchdown Monday night in Washington. Amazing.
The last time any offense looked as dominant? The Tom Brady/Randy Moss-led Patriots of 2007. And you remember who beat them: Tuck and his Giants, in the 17-14 Super Bowl stunner.
"It's kind of like that Super Bowl for us,'' Tuck said. "Think about it -- all week before that game, all we heard was Brady and Moss, Brady and Moss. We had no shot. It's like that this time, with Vick. Last time, we listened to it all week, then went out and beat them. That's a good way to motivate a team.''
Vick and the Giants. Sunday night football. Instant boffo ratings. My bosses at NBC are in the clouds over this bit of must-see TV.
At this time of year, right around Week 11, we start separating the pretenders from the contenders. That's what happened for two teams in the Bears' 16-0 victory over the Dolphins last night in south Florida. Say what you want about how the Bears' offense is eventually going to ruin their season -- which might be true -- but Chicago has the kind of defense and special teams that can win games in January.
Rodger Saffold, LT, St. Louis.
Great decision by the Rams last April in not trading the first pick of the second round of the draft and instead choosing Saffold, the Indiana tackle who has buttoned down the left side of the field and kept Sam Bradford relatively clean. But here come John Abraham this week, and here comes trouble. Abraham wrecked Michael Oher -- and thus, the Baltimore offensive game plan -- last week, and Saffold is going to have to be at his quick-footed best this week to make sure Abraham doesn't do the same again. Any chance of a Rams upset lies with the ability to keep Bradford clean, and that all starts with the play of Saffold.
Green Bay tight end Andrew Quarless, returning from injury to a vital spot in the Packer offense, against Minnesota Sunday: