NFC East: Earnest Graham

Giants' Ward headed to Tampa

March, 3, 2009
3/03/09
8:30
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

As reported by ESPN.com's John Clayton on Monday, Giants running back Derrick Ward has agreed to terms on a four-year, $17 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here's what NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas had to say about the deal.

The Giants had been preparing for this day for a long time, so it came as no surprise. They weren't going to pay Ward $4 million per year -- or even $3 million. And he wanted a chance to start. That will happen in Tampa Bay.

We'll soon know whether Wind (Ward) can be successful without Earth (Brandon Jacobs). I think Ward's a nice back, but he benefited greatly from Jacobs wearing down defenses. Can Ward be a 25-carry guy? Honestly, I don't think that would be a good situation for him. If the Bucs keep him somewhere in the 15-18 carry range, I think he'll be more effective.

Ward should be a nice complement to Earnest Graham. I didn't like his chances going to a team where he had to carry the load, but Ward should fit in nicely with the Bucs. The Giants will simply bump up Fire (Ahmad Bradshaw) to No. 2 in the rotation. He's a dynamic back who wasn't given a lot of opportunities last season. I think Tom Coughlin is excited about seeing what Bradshaw can do in a larger role.

Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News provides some excellent details regarding Ward's recruitment. He apparently scared off some potential suitors by asking for a deal similar to what Jacobs received. And Vacchiano said Ward also brought up Michael Turner's contract with the Falcons.

Tom Rock of Newsday explains that Danny Ware will replace Bradshaw as the No. 3 running back.

Cowboys' season receives temporary reprieve

October, 26, 2008
10/26/08
8:55
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

  Jeff Curry/US Presswire
 Dallas coach Wade Phillips received the game ball from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

IRVING, Texas -- Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stood in the middle of a jubilant locker room Sunday looking as if he'd just stepped out of a sauna -- in a blue sportcoat no less. Moments earlier, he'd awarded his embattled coach Wade Phillips the game ball.

Never mind that quarterback Brad Johnson had just set the league back 30 years with his 3.7 yards per attempt average on -- wait for it -- 33 attempts. This team desperately needed a win, and got one, 13-9, over the offensively challenged Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Cowboys may have been favored in Vegas, but they'd left little evidence that they could end a two-game losing skid. On Sunday, we finally got a glimpse of the fabled Phillips 3-4 defense that once put fear in the hearts of quarterbacks.

Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia took a savage beating, and more important, he never saw it coming.

Though he wouldn't admit it after the game, Jones had ordered Phillips early last week to take over the play-calling duties from defensive coordinator Brian Stewart. Phillips wouldn't confirm the change, but he admitted that he would take a more active role.

"Brian [Stewart] didn't lose his job or anything like that," Phillips said after the game. "He does a great job. I just felt like if I got more into it, it would help. I don't know that it helped any. We conversed on a lot of things. I make the direct calls and he backs me up."

The Cowboys only sacked Garcia twice, but he was getting hit after almost every attempt. The pressure helped cover up for that fact that starting cornerback Anthony Henry left the game with a left quadriceps contusion early in the third quarter.

Second-year player Alan Ball had to replace Henry and rookies Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick were the other corners. Garcia tried immediately to burn Ball with a double-move to Antonio Bryant, but he didn't bite.

On the Bucs' final offensive play, Ball was matched up one-on-one with veteran Joey Galloway. It was a nightmare scenario, but pressure from Greg Ellis forced Garcia to rush his throw.

The win capped an emotional week for Phillips, who didn't want to strip Stewart of his play-calling duties. After the game, a couple of reporters intercepted Stewart as he was trying to make a quick exit. He didn't want to provide details on who was calling the plays Sunday.

"Wade's involved. He's always involved," Stewart said. "Nothing's going to go down without him. It doesn't matter who calls it."

Late in the game, Stewart became much more demonstrative on the sideline. The Buccaneers faced three fourth-down situations on their final drive, and each time, Stewart appeared ready to take the field.

(Read full post)

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