By Steve Silverman
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There are few perceptions and generalizations that are more correct than the importance of the quarterback position in the NFL.
This is not now, nor has it ever been a secret.
A team that gets the right quarterback will immediately lift itself up and have a better chance to win enough games to get to the playoffs.
But a quarterback is not enough.
While one could make the argument that quality receivers, running backs and blockers will help turn an average quarterback into a very good one, that’s just an obvious point about talent.
That’s why a team hires a general manager who, in turn, brings in quality scouts. Their job is to find as many quality players as possible in order to turn a team into a winner.
So let’s cut to the chase.
When it comes to winning, you need to have a great quarterback and a great head coach.
With two weeks remaining in the season, the Giants are in a fight for their lives with the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings for the last remaining playoff spot.
Technically, the Giants are alive in the NFC East, but if both the Cowboys and Redskins win this week, the Giants are not going to win the division. The Cowboys and Redskins meet in Washington in the season finale, and if both go into that game after having won in Week 16, the Giants can’t win the division.
Seattle is going to win at least one of its two remaining games (vs. San Francisco and St. Louis), so that will give them one of the Wild Card spots.
The Giants, Bears and Vikings are all 8-6. If all three teams win out, the Giants make the playoffs because they have the superior record against NFC foes.
The Bears have been awful recently, but they play the Cardinals and the Lions to close out the season. The Vikings play at Houston and then host Green Bay. While the Vikings have the best running back in football in Adrian Peterson, they don’t have enough to win both games.
But let’s keep them in the argument.
The Bears go to war with Jay Cutler at quarterback and Lovie Smith at head coach. The Vikings do the same with Christian Ponder calling signals and Leslie Frazier at head coach. The Giants go to Baltimore to face the slumping Ravens with Eli Manning at quarterback and Tom Coughlin at head coach.
This is where the Giants have the huge advantage.
Cutler has a big arm and is capable of making game-changing plays from time to time, but he lacks consistency. Smith gets his players to compete for him, but he has almost no creativity, and the Bears’ offense has been abominable under his leadership.
Ponder is an awful quarterback who causes his teammates to cringe if he tries to throw the ball more than 10 yards. Frazier is something of a miracle worker by keeping this team together, but his track record is limited since he is just completing his second full season leading the Vikings.
Manning is a multiple Super Bowl winner who has had his best games when facing the most pressure-filled situations. Coughlin has always been smart, prepared and disciplined as a leader. However, in the last few years he has added some degree of empathy to the equation, and his players have responded.
If the QB-coach battle were a mile race, the Giants would win this matchup by a full lap.
The Giants must put last week’s clinker against the Falcons away and move on. They still have a shot at defending their title, and they have an edge at two of the most important positions to help them return to glory.
Will Tom and Eli get the Giants back to the playoffs? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…