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FS: Scramble for the Ball: Being Joe Gibbs


JimmiJo

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http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/5030948

Scramble for the Ball: Being Joe Gibbs

Al Bogdan and Vivek Ramgopal / Special to FOXSports.com

Posted: 14 hours ago

The 49ers were starting a rookie quarterback who had a Ryan Leaf-esque pro debut.

The 49ers were riding a four-game losing streak.

The 49ers were 3-18 since the start of 2004.

The rest of the world was giving the edge to the Redskins, but good ol' Joe Gibbs got a bit fired up during a press conference last week and blasted the media for declaring his team the favorite. And you know the Joe Gibbs fired up voice I'm talking about — the one where his voice keeps getting higher and higher until he stops himself from cursing.

Well, coach, your "the sky is falling" approach made some good sports talk fodder, but it definitely served its purpose this week.

A few weeks ago, we said that if they intended to make a serious playoff push:

Clinton Portis needed to get into the end zone. … Check.

Play LaVar Arrington. … Check.

Force turnovers. … Check.

And somewhere in between points two and three was score a lot of points. … Double Check.

Going back to LaVar, this was the first week he received playing time outside of special teams. The crowd reaction was more than enough to spook Alex Smith and the 49ers' offense, but Arrington showed that his presence was more than just a gimmick. The Redskins shifted to a 3-4 defense at times, letting Arrington chase the quarterback or hunt down the running back when San Francisco opted to hand the ball off.

I still, however, think that we will hear some sort of conspiracy theory against LaVar before the year is done.

Al: If Arrington is healthy, there's no reason to leave him sitting on the sidelines. I understand that he might not be a good fit in the defense Gregg Williams wants to run. But if you can't figure out a way to use someone of Arrington's talent, you're not doing your job as an NFL coordinator.

That Gibbs tirade made no sense to me. Why wouldn't his team be the favorite? They were tied for first place in their division, playing the worst team in the NFC. I just don't get that saying you shouldn't be the favorite is a very good motivational technique in that spot. What are you telling your players? That the 49ers should be expected to beat your team at home? That a rookie quarterback, who had a quarterback rating of 8.5 in his only previous NFL start, should be able to lead his team down field effectively against your top-five defense? That the highest rated quarterback in the conference shouldn't be able to throw the ball against a defense allowing more than 400 yards per game? Maybe that's why I'm not an NFL coach.

What's Gibbs going to yell about this week, that his team deserves to be a larger underdog on the road against the Giants than they already are?

Vivek: The game might not be as explosive as their 1966 matchup, but both offenses are firing on all cylinders. A lot has been noted about the Redskins' defense, but New York's stand in the fourth quarter, especially on Denver's last possession, showed me that they can step up to the task. The defense made some needed adjustments after halftime, the most significant one being the secondary's playing a strict man-to-man defense. This prevented the big plays, like the three 26-plus yard receptions for the Broncos in the first half. Now, let's see if the injury-plagued secondary will keep the speedy Santana Moss in check.

It does seem weird for these teams to be playing for the division lead, doesn't it?

Al: I never would have guessed just two months ago that the Giants and Redskins would be playing in the Meadowlands in Week 8 for first place in the NFC East. Thankfully, the Giants pulled out a near-miracle win last week; so this game could have much importance.

Who woke up Amani Toomer? He was incredible on the final drive, catching everything Eli threw to him. That's exactly what the New York offense needs — to be more consistent and a possession wide receiver that Manning can count on when he just needs to throw it to someone for a few yards. He's tried making Shockey or Plaxico that player, but when Manning has forced the ball to them, he's been way off. On that final drive, Manning just kept throwing the ball to Amani — who kept catching it.

That game winning drive was a thing of beauty. I'm thoroughly enjoying the Eli Manning era. With two time outs and 3:26 on the clock, Eli had plenty of time to move the ball 80-plus yards, and he knew it. He wasn't afraid to throw it in the middle of the field to get six or seven yards and help move the chains. I was also impressed that the Giants weren't afraid to hand the ball to Tiki twice to get first downs.

What a great win in a game that by all rights New York should have lost. I completely expected the Giants to lose that game going into it. With pretty much every linebacker this side of Antonio Pierce listed as questionable, I was very worried about the ability of Denver to run the Giants off the field. The Broncos averaged nearly six yards a carry, which is actually a bit less than I expected. Even when the linebackers did get one of the Denver backs in their grasp, they couldn't bring anyone down. There was one play around the end of the third/beginning of the fourth where Mike Anderson just kept walking for a good four yards with Nick Griesen wrapped around him.

Best Bets

Vivek: (1-2 last week, 9-15 overall)

You know, 1-for-3 in baseball every game would get me a $10 million contract.

Cincinnati -7.5 over Green Bay

See Lesson 2. Tony Fisher might have a good game until Brett Favre needs to play catch-up, but it will not be enough.

Houston PK over Cleveland

The 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers can rest easy as their record for futility will stand.

Pittsburgh -8 over Baltimore

Paging Chester Taylor.

Al: (2-1 last week, 16-7 overall)

I don't like any of the lines this week. I'm just sticking with favorites that I'm fairly confident will win, and I hope that they win by enough.

Tampa Bay -11 over San Francisco

Either Alex Smith or Ken Dorsey will be trying to put points on the board against the rejuvenated Tampa defense. Chris Simms couldn't have a better matchup in his first start of the season.

Carolina -7 over Minnesota

I hope the Vikings savored their home victory over the Packers because it will be their last victory for a while. The Panthers will keep things simple and give Stephen Davis ample opportunities to pound the ball against the Vikings. Daunte Culpepper, meet Julius Peppers.

N.Y. Giants -3 over Washington

Complete homer pick here. I don't like any of the other lines that much; so I might as well go with my team in a big division matchup at home.

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Maybe the only intelligent thing he had to say in the whole column.

Jason

agreed, i stopped reading after that...any writer that questions a HOF coach thats turned the worst offense in the NFL into nearly the best offense in 1 year.......doesnt deserve attention.

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