Eli Manning

Why Marcus Mariota Should Tell the NFL Where He Wants to Play

The NFL landscape is littered with quarterbacks who have failed to live up to the hype built off of impressive college careers and first-round draft picks. On April 30, Marcus Mariota will become the first Oregon quarterback to carry such...

A Giant Trade: Marcus Mariota to New York?

Over the next two weeks, FishDuck.com Feature Writer Caleb Couturie will be analyzing the 25 teams in the NFL Draft that may look to select Marcus Mariota. **DISCLAIMER: This is part of a project FOR FUN. All trades suggested are merely hypotheticals, and...

Ducks Can’t Look Back On Bad Call…

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— Sam Finley, EDN Sports Editor

E.J. Singler shouldn't have been called for a foul this past Saturday. (Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Usually, I will not say that officiating was the reason for why a game was won or lost. It is true that some referees are a little better than others, but that shouldn’t decide matters as long as teams play as they’re supposed to play.

That wasn’t the case on Saturday night at Colorado, however.  The Oregon men’s basketball team had the chance for another road sweep in front of them.  They were tied 71-71 with mere seconds to go, and it looked like the matter would be settled in overtime.

Unfortunately for the Ducks, a rather bizzare whistle was blown and changed the scenario.  It appeared that E.J. Singler had cleanly blocked a shot by Colorado guard Nate Tomlinson. Instead, a foul was inexplicably called with one second remaining.

Tomlinson went to the line and hit one free throw and that was enough for the Buffaloes to edge Oregon 72-71.  Sure, that one play alone did not doom the Ducks in the end.  They missed some shots that could’ve been made, etc.

Still, in all my years watching basketball, the referee usually won’t make a call in the final seconds unless someone hits the ground or takes one in the face.  Anything less than that, an  official will let the guys play.

That’s what should have happened here, especially when the game is deciding where teams wind up in the Pac-12 Standings.  In all honesty, Colorado probably had the edge if the game had gone to OT.  Singler, Tony Woods, and Olu Ashaolu were all in foul trouble late and losing one of them would’ve seriously hurt their chances of winning.

That’s not the point here. The issue is that the game was decided on a dubious whistle. It’s the type of move that cheapens the outcome of events and makes fans wonder if the sport is on the up and up.

Eli Manning deserves to be recognized as one of the game's best quarterbacks. (Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

I’m not saying that college basketball is headed the way of the WWE over this matter. (Far from it).  But it’s something that the Pac-12 needs to make sure doesn’t happen again.  No matter who you wanted to see win over the weekend, you have to admit that it is never a good thing when something like this occurs.

Regardless, the Ducks can’t look back on this bad call for too long.  With an overall 16-7 record (7-4 in Pac-12 play), this team still has a shot at winning the conference.  Failing that, they can also finish as one of the top four in the standings (guaranteeing them a first round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament).

That said, it won’t be any easy task at hand this week. Oregon has been inconsistent at home, and they will need a sweep to stay in the hunt. Considering how well Washington (who they face on Thursday) has played as of late, that’s not exactly a get-well card.  Ditto for Washington State on Saturday, who can be dangerous at times.

By the same token, this is also where a good team can show what they’re made of. If the Ducks can perform well at Matt Knight Arena, then they just might begin setting up a legitimate argument for getting in the NCAA Tournament.  If they don’t, it could be a struggle to make the NIT.  The next few weeks should be very interesting, indeed.

Now let’s talk a little bit about the Super Bowl before I wrap this one up. As predicted here last week, the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots 21-17.  Okay, so I was off on the score (I said the G-Men would take it 28-24), but it otherwise went as I thought it would go.

You’ve got to tip your hat to Eli Manning. For years, he’s been doubted and has lived in the shadow of his brother Peyton.  At the end of the day, however, he’s won two Super Bowls and has been named the MVP in both of them.

Tom Brady is still one of the best quarterbacks ever despite Sunday's setback. (Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images)

Now, you can legitimately argue that his big bro (when healthy) is still a much better quarterback. But how can you not say that Eli is now one of the best signal callers in the NFL today?  If this latest win doesn’t give him that deserved recognition in your eyes, I don’t know what will.

Over on the Patriots’ side, I’ve heard some post-game murmurs that this loss has ‘diminished’ Tom Brady’s legacy as one of the best quarterbacks of all-time.  Diminished?  How?  The guy has started in five Super Bowls and has won three of them.

Furthermore, saying that this setback ruins his overall body of work implies that Brady won’t ever play in another one of these games again.  For the record, I see him getting back to the Super Bowl at least one more time.  If he wins that one, it’ll mean taking four out of six tries.

Even if he doesn’t, Brady has still established himself as one of the top ten quarterbacks of all time. ‘Nuff said.

Oh, not quite.  Someone asked me who I believe are the top five quartebacks I’ve ever seen play.  Well, here’s my list:  5) Tom Brady. 4) Dan Marino. 3) Dan Fouts. 2) Joe Montana. 1) John Elway.

I know that list won’t make a lot of folks happy, and I’ll clarify my rankings on of these days. Unfortunately, I’ve run out of time and word space.

So until next time, I’ll see you in the bleachers.

Super Bowl Will Have ‘Ducky’ Feel To It…

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— Sam Finley, EDN Sports Editor

Spencer Paysinger (pictured left) has 11 tackles for the Giants this year. (Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images)

We’ll get to the men’s Civil War basketball game in a minute.  In the meantime, you didn’t ask me for this piece of information, but whomever wins the Super Bowl on Sunday will result in a former Oregon player getting a ring.  That’s right, the big game in Indianapolis will have a ‘Ducky’ feel to it.

On the New England side, there is safety Patrick Chung.  One of the best defensive backs in Oregon history has performed admirably at the pro level.  He’s made a lot of big plays for the Patriots with an interception here or a special teams play there.

Patrick Chung has a knack for making plays for the Patriots. (Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images)

However, Spencer Paysinger has also quietly established himself with the New York Giants in his rookie season. The ex-Duck linebacker has 11 tackles this year, and should make a lot more before it’s all said and done.

Thus, with both teams having a U of O alum on their roster, I can neutralize that as a reason to take one side over the other.  So let me tell you how I see this coming out in objective fashion.

On paper, it looks like the Patriots will roll in this one. They remember how the Giants ruined their undefeated season in that Super Bowl a few years ago, and a lot of people will tell you it’s not smart to bet against Tom Brady.  Furthermore, the Giants snuck into the playoffs with  a 9-7 record.

Ahhh, that’s where it gets interesting. Sure, the Giants didn’t have the prettiest of regular seasons.  Nonetheless, they won when they had to and they seem to be playing their best football at the right time.

The matchup between Brady and Eli Manning is a compelling subplot to this story, too.  Brady has won three Super Bowls, and will undoubtedly go down as one of the five greatest quartebacks of all time.

Meanwhile, Eli Manning has lived in the shadow of his big brother Peyton for years.  People sometimes forget that he, like Peyton, also has a championship ring on his finger.  If he wins on Sunday, it’ll mean he’ll have two in his collection. (Trust me, big brother will trade in his records for that honor).

So how does this play out?  I see a tough battle and, having a lot of friends who are Patriots’ fans, it would be easy for me to say I’m rooting for a good game. Admittedly, my head is saying ‘New England’ while my heart is saying ‘New York.’

Jared Cunningham led OSU with 27 points. (Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

But I’ll go with the latter this time.  This one will go back and forth and history will repeat itself.  The Giants upset the Patriots once more 28-24. 

Now let’s talk about that Civil War game. These match ups have gotten more competitive in recent years, and the one at Matt Arena definitely went down to the wire. But who saw this coming?  Oregon State beating Oregon 76-71?  I certainly saw a tight affair, but thought the Ducks would take it.

A big reason for the Beavers’ upset was the 27 points from Jared Cunningham. He’s become their playmaker, and hit some crucial three-pointers down the stretch.

“It’s our rival school and it was a big game with a great crowd, ” said Cunningham afterwards. “We had a lot of Beaver fans out there.  I think we turned the corner with this win, especially with it being the Civil War game. It means a lot to Beaver nation.”

OSU may have turned a corner on their season, indeed. They’re now 4-5 in Pac-12 play (14-7 overall), and made a statement by beating their arch-enemies on their own floor. If they can perform like this the rest of the way, there might be a few more shockers before it’s all over.

Dana Altman said his team has work to do on the road. (Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

For Oregon, however, the feeling has to be very bittersweet. Yes they’re still very much in the Pac-12 race with a 6-3 conference record (15-6 overall).  But the Ducks didn’t play like a contender over the weekend.

Oregon sputtered around in the first half, and some of their mistakes finally came back to bite them in the second.  Devoe Joseph did his part with 26 points, but received little help. Still, he argued it wasn’t lack of scoring that did his team in.

“It was more about defense and turnovers than offense,” Joseph explained. “It is disappointing. Any time you play at home, you expect to win. But we weren’t aggressive. It’s what we didn’t do, not what they did.”

He’s right. The two things that have been the Ducks achilles’ heel bit them hard against OSU.  Their inconsistency on defense was apparent as Cunningham and Ahmad Starks (who had 15 points) lit up the scoreboard. And you’re not going to beat many teams when you turn the ball over 23 times.  It’s something that Oregon will have to minimize when they head out on road against Colorado and Utah this week to keep their postseason hopes on track.

“We can’t lose home games and be in the huddle,” said Oregon head coach Dana Altman. “We have some serious work on the road this upcoming week.”

Whatever happens, the situation in the Pac-12 just got a little more interesting.  How it all winds up is anyone’s guess.

Now, here’s a quick item before I wrap this up. Last Friday, EDN launched a live blog for what we think is the biggest game in prep basketball.  We’ll be doing it again this coming Thursday night when Sheldon visits Marist.  Check out the sports section about 7pm that evening, and see how this game between two of the state’s best teams is covered.

Until next time, I’ll see you in the bleachers.

 

Some Ducks Are Rising…While More Could Be Leaving

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— Sam Finley, EDN Sports Editor

An amazing men’s basketball game on Saturday.  UCLA had Oregon dead in the water in the first half with a 37-24 lead.  The Ducks couldn’t hit a shot into the Willamette River, while the  Bruins’ big men dominated the paint.

Sorry Tampa Bay, no Chip for you. (Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

But a funny thing happened after halftime.  Oregon came out firing on all cylinders, while UCLA’s inside presence went from titanium to tissue.  As a result, the Ducks were able to pull out  a 75-68 victory at Matt Knight Arena.

Let’s be clear about something: This was a game Oregon would not have won last year or the year before.  E.J. Singler, who led the Ducks with a career-high 26 points, considers this win a character check.

“We showed toughness and heart today,” said Singler. “Coming out and winning feels good, shows we have heart, and that means a lot.”

It means plenty for their place in the Pac-12 standings, too.  The Ducks now have a 6-2 conference record, and are tied for first place with Cal.  Still, there’s plenty of basketball to be played, and Oregon will have to be ready for every opponent.

They certainly won’t be taking Oregon State lightly when they come to town this coming Sunday. Sure, the Beavers haven’t lit up the conference this season, but they have won two in a row and have the talent to upset a lot of teams.

E.J. Singler scored a career-high 26 points on Saturday. (Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

“They can beat anyone in the conference,” Singler explained. “Their stats don’t show how good they are playing. They are playing very tough.”

Meanwhile, the Oregon women’s basketball team might be getting it together as well. After getting thumped 92-73 at USC Thursday, the Ducks came out with a much better performance  Saturday.  Thanks to the 21 points from Jasmin Holliday, they stunned UCLA 82-63 and this could change the outlook for their season.

Had they lost this one, the perception would’ve been that another subpar season was on the way in the Willamette Valley.  Instead, the Ducks now have an overall 11-9 record and are perhaps a few more wins away from some kind of postseason berth.

They still need to play with a tad more consistency, but it appears that Paul Westhead has this program on the right track.  Good for him.  His legendary status in the game of hoops aside, it is always a pleasure to talk to this man and I hope he can add to his illustrious resume while he’s in Eugene.

Of course, you can check out plenty more about the basketball scene this coming Wednesday when our weekly college hoops roundup comes out.  It should become required reading for many weeks to come.

Moving onto the football soap opera, you might need to add another name to the departing list.  First, LaMichael James declared for the NFL Draft.  Then last week, Darron Thomas decided to also take his game to the next level.  Now, rumor has it that Chip Kelly might be taking the head coaching job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

By the time you read this column, the deal could be done.  If so, it’s hard to say why Chip exactly took the job at this time.  Maybe he felt that, after three consecutive BCS Bowl appearances, that it was time for a new challenge that only the NFL could provide. (ED – According to ESPN, Chip Kelly has declined the Buccaneers offer of immense wealth and status.)

Whatever the rationale, a quick word or two for those now believing that the sky is falling. It’s important to remember that while Kelly did have unprecedented success at Oregon, the foundation for those accomplishments had been paved for many years (going back to Rich Brooks).  Second, if Chip does leave, there are a lot of high-profile coaches that will want to take his place.

This is still a team loaded with talent and the fancy facilities are about to get that much fancier. I could see Chris Petersen from Boise State taking a phone call on this one. Heck, I could even see a wild card like Jon Gruden considering coming here.

The point is that whether Kelly stays or goes, the recent successes of Oregon football are not coming to an end. They are still very much in the beginning stages. Should be fun watching this whole thing play out, either way.

But since we are talking about the NFL, let’s shift the attention to this past weekend’s playoff action.  In the NFC Championship, the New York Giants eeked out a 20-17 overtime win over the San Francisco 49ers.  Why do I bring this up?  Because this game increased my admiration for one Eli Manning.

Eli Manning has been impressive during the NFC Playoffs. (Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The guy won a Super Bowl a few years ago, but people have dismissed him and claim he’ll never be as good of a quarterback as his brother Peyton.  Yet, despite the odds, he helped quietly lead the Giants to three impressive playoff victories over the Falcons, Packers, and the Niners.

In the most recent case, he was repeatedly knocked onto the muddy turf but was able to get up and throw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns.  Oh, and if the Giants win the big game against New England in a couple weeks, it would give him two Super Bowl rings to his big brother’s one.  Should that happen, wouldn’t that make Eli the better quarterback of the two? I sure think it would.

Now for a quick word on something else you could be seeing this coming Friday. As I’ve stated many times, I’m ramping up the prep coverage in this sports section.  If the logistics are worked out in the next couple of days (as I think they will), I’ll make a point of formally announcing what we’ll be bringing to the table for the remainder of the year in the weekly prep basketball roundup.  Right now, all I can say is I’m excited about the potential this new component could have and I think you will be too.

Until next time, I’ll see you in the bleachers.