Tag Archives: NFL career

Catching Up With Three-Time Super Bowl Champion Matt Chatham

On Saturday afternoon, I had the opportunity to speak with former New England Patriots and New York Jets linebacker Matt Chatham. He was apart of three Super Bowl winning teams in his time with the Patriots between the years of 2000 through 2005. After that he spent three seasons with the Jets. Since his retirement from the game, Chatham has been in the local New England and national media, along with founding his own football website, “Football By Football” which has a unique perspective of showing fans former players points of view. Here are some of the highlights from our conversation.

When most people talk to former players, they usually ask what have you been up to? But for you, you’ve been around in the media, so what is it like being on the other side of things? 

Well, theres the temptation to think you could be out there, you could help. I think in my case, guys like me where I got banged up at the end of my career, I was released with a neck injury, my feet are trash, now i’m how ever many years removed from that, and it’s pretty much easier to understand your place as a fan and a reporter.

What was your inspiration for starting your own website?

Well, the first move I made when I left the NFL in 2009 was to go back to school here at Babson College in Wellesly, I had the idea of starting something on my own. I got involved in some other business things immediately after my career, but after a couple years of doing that I got lured right back into football. It’s kind of what you do, it’s what you know. Once I got involved I started doing the Chatter Report with the Boston Herald, and that was great and I got back into the waters of writing, which is what I studied in my undergrad so I knew I wanted to write at some capacity. Things came together. I wanted to write, I wanted to still be around football, and I wanted to do my own thing, thats how I am with a lot of aspects of life. I started contacting those former players and they bought in when they realized that the player perspective is barely out there in print.

Your a part of all different aspects of the media whether it is writing, commentating, and color analysis. What is you favorite part of the media?

Thats an interesting question cause if we had this conversation three or four years ago I would’ve said writing. I would just rather sit in solitude and study the crap out of game tape and give points of view that people who never played the game wouldn’t have the experience to notice. I really enjoyed that part. I really enjoy doing games now for ESPN, I did Syracuse a few weeks ago, and I do a lot of local stuff, UConn, Umass, and Boston College throughout the rest of the season. I like that view, you kind of get the chance to do the same thing, you gotta do it in real time so your not gonna be as accurate, so I enjoy doing that part.

Let’s talk about your playing career here, you don’t see dynasties like the one you were a part of with the Patriots too often in the salary cap era. What do you think made you guys click so well?

It’s interesting we are having this conversation now, because I just did a piece on NESN the other night talking about all the former Patriots eligible for the Hall of Fame, and chances are, none of them get in. The groups that I played with, the roster was just stock full of super talented guys that bought into the team system. Most of those guys from the Harrison, to Milloy, McGinest, Bruschi, and Ty Law we played a heavy week to week scheme where no one player stood out and compiled a bunch of stats, that’s just not the way we played. The best part of that group was how talented they were, but how selfless they were as well. Thats how we got the rings we got, and you just can’t take that stuff away.


We know that the NFL is a business, and after 2005 you joined the New York Jets. What was it like playing on the other side of the rivalry?

Going down there for a few years it was definitely different as it was for all the former Patriots that went down there as well. It’s a pretty heated rivalry for fans and they look at it from that perspective, but when you go back and look the list is long of the players that went from one place to the other. Otis Smith, Larry Izzo, Bobby Hamilton, Anthony Pleasant, Bryan Cox, I could go on and on. I went down there with Eric Mangini which made it different. For me I was wearing green that was different, I was playing in a different building, living in a different city. The organization had a similar feel because Eric Mangini was trying to recreate the Patriot system. He wasn’t successful, but the structure was almost identical. Just the way we did things was almost the same, so just for me it wasn’t that big of a change.

You were on the Jets during the infamous spy gate game in 2007. Everyone hears stuff from the Patriots perspective from that game, what was it like on the other side lines during that game?

Well, I was on PUP to start that season I had injured my ankle so I was just in street clothes on the sidelines. It was chaotic. I was on the sideline staring across. To put it on a scale on how much it mattered or how much it cared, I was like, “oh thats weird.” I didn’t know the rule, I guess you couldn’t just do it right there. So yes, it was a stressful week. The real reason why it escalated and why it was such as story was because the two security units got in a pretty heavy argument outside the locker rooms at the Meadow Lands. It became more than it should have. The brand is pretty stupid. Spy gate? They weren’t really spying. You can stand there with a pen and pencil and do the same thing. So to see the way league handled it the way they did, shows you how much they have it out for the team.

You’ve been one of the more vocal players, along with Tedy Brushchi and Rodney Harrision, other guys in the media from that era, defending the team when allegations come down. How does it make you feel when people make these assumptions that the championships you guys worked so hard for are tainted? 

I think what happens, this is sort of all walks of life. You know when some guy says, “Twenty-years ago in high school if coach played me and we would’ve won.” it’s just an excuse, and it’s sad because people who lost are falling into the trap and making the excuse. It’s like no man, you lost. We prepared more and performed better than you did. Nothing that the team did was illegal in any way, except the taping thing that didn’t really matter. We are past that point now to where you can change someone’s mind, you just have to deal with it.

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 18: Linebacker Matt Chatham #58 of the New England Patriots celebrates against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game on January 18, 2004 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Final question here. What was your favorite moment as a professional football player?

I mean I’m lucky I got to play in three Super Bowls. You remember that elation of when the clock hits zero, and they were all different. The Rams with the kick going through is something I’ll never feel again for the rest if my life. The second one I made the final tackle on the kick return with Steve Smith and Rod Smart, so that time I felt the elation holding the guy to the ground. The third one we were more able to enjoy it as the clock ran out. It’s not a feeling you can really describe, you kind of just have to experience it.

You can follow Matt Chatham on twitter @chatham58 Also visit his website with great articles and podcasts with insight from former players at  http://www.footballbyfootball.com

Garoppolo will start in 2016, but not for Patriots

Jimmy Garoppolo’s strong play has made him into a viable NFL starter and will be starting in the 2016 season, but not for the Patriots.

Garoppolo was selected in the 2nd round of the 2014 NFL draft and was thought by some to be Tom Brady’s future successor at quarterback in New England. Garoppolo had a strong preseason his rookie year in 2014 but of course was no threat to Brady. Jimmy G was then put into the game in a blowout loss against the Chiefs where he performed well at the end of the game. The media hype grew even more on Garoppolo with some people saying that Tom Brady was done and that it was Garoppolo’s time to become the starting quarterback in New England. Garoppolo then struggled in the season finale against the Buffalo Bills going up against one of the top defenses in the NFL with a cast of backup players playing for New England.

via thebiglead.com
via thebiglead.com

After the harsh criticism of Brady by some members of the media he went on to have a fantastic rest of 2015 season and of course went on to win his fourth Super Bowl ring. And now with the never-ending “DeflateGate” scandal, Garoppolo may be the Patriots starting quarterback for the first four weeks of the regular season. Garoppolo has played well this preseason after a very inconsistent week one against the Green Bay Packers and has led two comeback victories in the preseason, improving his game each week.

I hated the pick of Garoppolo at the time and even with his improved play still do not see Garoppolo as Brady’s successor and the future quarterback of the Patriots. Though I do not see him as the future quarterback of the Patriots I think Garoppolo could be a good quarterback in the NFL and that he is currently probably better than a few starting quarterbacks on other teams and looks better than quarterbacks such as Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel, who were selected before him in the 2014 draft. With New England losing a first round pick in the 2016 NFL draft it could make sense for the team to move Jimmy G for either an early second round pick in the 2016 draft and even potentially a first rounder in 2017. Brady and Garoppolo’s contracts both expire after the 2017 season. If Brady is still playing at a high level the Patriots would have a tough decision to make on who to re-sign if both were willing to re-sign with New England. Garoppolo may not be willing to re-sign after being a backup for four season and may look to go else where and if that’s the case why not attempt to move Garoppolo at a time when you are low on draft picks. New England may not move him during this season and don’t need to, but moving him after the season would be smart to do. They could trade him to a quarterback needy team like Houston or Cleveland who could have high second round picks which could be almost equivalent to the first rounder New England lost or a first rounder for the following year.

via chowderandchampions.com
via chowderandchampions.com

Garoppolo could be a starter in the NFL sooner rather than later and I think he will be a full time starter in 2016, but it won’t be for the Patriots.

Talent, Brains and Money can be an elusive package in the NFL

Now former San Fransisco 49ers star linebacker Aldon Smith was yet again arrested, this time for a DUI, the third DUI he has gotten since entering the league. As I’m writing this I just got the alert on my phone that the 49ers have released Smith, this makes me question how dumb some of these NFL players and athletes could be in general. You have guys like Aldon Smith, Josh Gordon, Justin Blackmon and of course Aaron Hernandez who are throwing away millions of dollars because of the stupid decisions they’re making. These guys are living the dream, making millions of dollars to play football, what could possibly be better than that? Well apparently to some of these guys going out getting high, shooting people as well as other dumb things there doing, has a higher priority.

Makes you also question how these guys made it this far and if they were just kept being passed on because of their talent and never disciplined for issues before the NFL. Did everyone just turn their backs when these guys were in high school and let them do as they pleased because of their talent? Could some of these guys have been changed and not made the mistakes they did had they been punished and had tighter rules when they were younger? A good thought, but something we’ll never know.

via usatoday.com
via usatoday.com

Aldon Smith was the 7th overall pick and finished second in defensive rookie of the year voting, he looked like he was gonna be a pro bowler year after year and could have been a force in the league. He was then arrested for now three separate DUIs, and for joking about having a bomb at an airport, another just purely stupid move. After his second DUI, Smith entered a rehab facility which seems clear he didn’t take very seriously. When you’re given an opportunity to get help when you need it, you take it and hope you can not only save your career, but also save yourself from going down an even worse path. After his release from the 49ers, his career is almost sure to be over at the age of 25.

via cbssports.com
via cbssports.com

Another guy throwing his career away is Josh Gordon. Gordon bounced around college because of suspensions due to substance abuse problems and hardly played. Gordon was still selected by the Browns in the second round of the supplemental draft and ended up missing time in his rookie season because of his drug use in college. Gordon also missed time during his second season for a substance abuse violation, and again was suspended. When Gordon returned he went on to be the best receiver in the NFL even with missing 14 games. Entering his third season Gordon was suspended yet again for substance abuse, this time originally for the season, which ended up being reduced to 10 games. You think that maybe, just maybe, Gordon would learn from this, nope. Gordon was suspended for at least one year after testing positive for drinking alcohol, which he could not do after being placed in the leagues substance abuse program. Gordon was a complete stud during his very brief NFL career and is now in question if he will ever play again. I loved Gordon on the field and was pulling for him to change his ways off the field. Even with my fandom of Gordon I don’t feel bad for him at all, he could have changed his off-field ways, he was in the leagues substance abuse program after three different substance abuse incidents, and after constant suspensions he just didn’t learn. Apparently weed is more important than playing football and making millions to Gordon. Have fun selling cars again in Cleveland Josh, hope you were good at it because it looks like that is going to be your future, not the NFL.

via profootballtalk.com
via profootballtalk.com

Like Gordon, Justin Blackmon has faced many suspensions due to substance abuse problems. Blackmon was suspended 8 games in 2013 because of failed drug tests and after not learning was suspended the whole season in 2014 for substance abuse and currently faces an indefinite suspension. The Jaguars general manager recently said he doesn’t expect Blackmon to play in the NFL again. 25 years old, and out of the NFL because of weed, not talent which Blackmon had all the talent in the world, not injuries which tend to happen to players, but for smoking weed. Go back a few years and say Blackmon and Gordon would be among the top receivers in the NFL at this point in their careers and almost on one would disagree, tell someone the two would be out of the league and people would be shocked. I don’t feel bad for Blackmon just like I don’t feel bad for other players I mention, he didn’t love the game and rather would live the way he wanted, smoking weed and doing whatever else he wanted to do which didn’t involve football. The last that was seen of Blackmon he was not nearly in the playing shape he was and by the looks of it he has no desire to play in the NFL again.

via bleacherreport.com
via bleacherreport.com

And of course the most well-known idiot on this list, Aaron Hernandez. All us Patriots fans as well as the rest of the country know his story and his legal trouble. Hernandez was convicted and given a life sentence for the murder of Odin Lloyd and still faces a double homicide charge stemming from a 2012 incident. After news of Hernandez’ arrest in the Odin Lloyd incident, Hernandez was released by the Patriots and then other news and incidents from his past began to slowly come out. From him taking a selfie with a gun during his time at Florida, to bar fights, to gang related activities from his time in high school combined with drug use, Hernandez was a thug off the field with all his issues.  Hernandez had all the talent in the world on the field and had all the problems in the world off of it. After just having a baby and a new $40 million contract, you would think Hernandez would give up his old ways and change his life, apparently not. Hernandez is a sociopath and all he knew was his street mentality and was apparent he didn’t wanna change for anything and its who he was, giving up his family, football career, a $40 million contract at the age of 23 and his life.

via sportsonearth.com
via sportsonearth.com

No one will ever know the reasoning these guys have to do what they do, act how they act, and know whats important to them in life. The are all guys who were given many opportunities to change their lives and change who they are. Rehab through the league or separate rehab are and were all options to these guys. Johnny Manziel entered rehab after the end of last season because he knew his drinking and parting would have led to a quick end of his career. Johnny now seems to be on the right path, only focused on football and competing to be the Browns starting quarterback for the 2015 season. I hope Manziel has that all behind him and is focused solely on football, though I loved Johnny Football and the college party boy swagger he brought to the field being a college kid myself, I hope and would rather see Manziel as a successful NFL player.

These guys gave up the American dream, just about everyone including myself will never understand why and what is important to these guys, and they now have to live with their decisions which have changed all their lives for the worse.

New England Patriots: Best Linebackers of the Belichick Era

Previously I had written about the Patriots secondary during Belichick’s tenure, now lets take a look at the best linebackers of the Belichick era. Some of these players were in New England prior to Belichick’s arrival and continued to play well after Belichick taking the reins, and others were either drafted or brought in by Bill via trade or free agency. The players listed are in no specific order or ranking.


via utsports.com
via utsports.com

Mayo was drafted 10th overall in the 2008 NFL Draft by the Patriots. Mayo was a key contributor to the Patriots defense right away starting all 16 regular season games and leading the team in tackles with 98. Mayo went on to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

Mayo suffered a sprained MCL injury during week one of the 2009 season against the Buffalo Bills. Mayo returned quicker than he was expected, returning week 5 against the Denver Broncos. Even with the missed time due to injury Mayo went on to lead the team in tackles again recording 103 tackles on the season.

The 2010 NFL season was Mayo’s best season as a pro. He was named a captain prior to the season and backed it up in his play, recording a league high 175 tackles on the season. Mayo was named to his first Pro Bowl and was also named a member of the 2010 All Pro team. Mayo cashed in on his amazing year signing a 5-year extension with the Patriots towards the end of the year.

Mayo again surpassed the 100-tackle mark in both 2011 and 2012 and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2012 for the second time in his career. Mayo then went on to have two injury riddled seasons in both 2013 and 2014 and though he wasn’t able to play won his first Super Bowl championship in 2014. The Patriots still think Mayo can get back to his pre-injury form and restructured his contract in order for him to stay on the team for 2015. With Mayo’s on-field play making and leadership he for sure is one of the top linebackers of the Belichick era.


via hhweb.com
via hhweb.com

Mike Vrabel signed with the New England Patriots prior to the 2001 season and was a member of the team’s first three Super Bowl championships, remaining with the team until being traded to the Kansas City Chiefs after the 2008 season.

Vrabel was the face of versatility being able to play both inside and outside linebacker, as well as being able to put his hand in the dirt and play defensive end and even some tight end on occasions. Vrabel was clutch and loved the big games and wasn’t afraid of the moment. He caught a touchdown pass on offense and recorded two sacks in the Super Bowl victory against the Carolina Panthers. Vrabel was named to the Pro Bowl for the first and only time in his career in 2007 as well as being selected to the All Pro team for his first and only time in 2007 after recording 12.5 sacks on the year. Vrabel was a great player for the Patriots during his tenure with the team from 2001 to 2008.



via indystar.com
via indystar.com

Like Vrabel, Ninkovich has been an extremely versatile player for the Patriots since joining the team. Though he now plays defensive end Ninkovich played at linebacker for a few years at the beginning of his tenure in New England I’m adding him to the list based on how well he has played in New England and the fact that I love Ninkovich and have often said it the past few years that in my opinion he is the most underrated player in the NFL.

Ninkovich signed with the Patriots in August of 2009 and made the team’s 53-man roster. During his first year in New England Ninkovich finished with 23 tackles and a sack playing limited snaps. Ninkovich became a starter at outside linebacker prior to the 2010 season. With an increase in snaps Ninks production increased as well, finishing the season with 6s tackles, 4 sacks and 2 interceptions. Ninkovich continued to improve in 2011 and finished the season with 74 tackles, 6.5 sacks and two interceptions and started all 16 games of the regular season for the first time in his career.

Ninkovich moved to defensive end for the 2012 season where he has played since. During his first year at defensive end Ninkovich shined, recording 58 tackles, 8 sacks, 5 forced fumbles and 4 fumble recoveries, again starting all 16 games. With Ninkovich moving to the line he was replaced at linebacker with rookie first round pick Dont’a Hightower. Ninkovich continued to play well at defensive end during the 2013 season collecting 91 tackles and 8 sacks. Ninkovich was towards the top of the league in snaps played during the 2013 season. The 2014 season was nothing different for Ninkovich who finished the year with 53 tackles and 8 sacks, yet again starting all 16 games of the regular season. Ninkovich was a leader of the 2014 defense and went on to win the first Super Bowl championship of his career.


via bostonglobe.com
via bostonglobe.com

The soon to be Patriots Hall of Famer is arguably the best linebacker during the Belichick era and one of the best defensive players in the teams franchise. McGinest was drafted by the team in 1994 but for the sake of this article am just going to look at his time in New England under coach Bill Belichick. Like both Vrabel and Ninkovich, McGinest played both outside linebacker and defensive end in New England and under Belichick.

Belichick’s first year as head coach in New England was the 2000 season. During that season McGinest played in 14 games, recording 63 tackles and 6 sacks. To be honest I cant write too much about McGinest for this season due to the fact that I was only 5 at the time and though I was watching football regularly, don’t remember too much. The 2001 season McGinest missed 5 games due to injury and his production diminished only recording 33 tackles on the year with 6 sacks. The injuries didn’t stop McGinest from playing in Super Bowl 36 and playing a key role in the team’s defense. McGinest was back to being fully healthy during the 2002 season and saw his production jump back up recording 62 tackles with 5.5 sacks. 2003 was a similar one production wise for McGinest with 67 tackles and 5.5 sacks, as well as another Super Bowl championship and being named to the Pro Bowl team. During the 2004 season McGinest collected 9.5 sacks, tied second highest in a season of his career and went on to get his third Super Bowl championship. The 2005 season was McGinest’s last as a member of the Patriots, during which he recorded 56 tackles with 6 sacks. McGinest went on to set two NFL playoff records during the 2005 playoffs. One record was most career playoff sacks, 78, and the other for most sacks in a playoff game, 4.5 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

McGinest was a great player for the Patriots and was a great leader of the defense. McGinest was putting up good sack numbers when the league was still a run focused league and teams weren’t passing as much. McGinest was also clutch and lived for the big moments. My favorite McGinest moment was his game saving tackle at the goal line on fourth down against the Colts, stuffing Colts running back Edgerrin James at the one-yard line.


via boston.com
via boston.com

Last but not least Tedy Bruschi. Bruschi was the leader and the face of the Patriots defense for years. Bruschi played his heart out and was a winner and was an example of a perfect Patriot, he would do whatever needed of him to win and always got the best out of the guys he was playing with. Bruschi was a seven-time team captain and was often overlooked throughout the league only making one Pro Bowl during his career. Bruschi was in New England prior to the arrival of coach Bill Belichick, and was a contributor the New England ever since his time as a rookie when he was primarily a special teams player.

During his first season under Belichick in 2000 Bruschi recorded 105 tackles. The 2001 season saw Bruschi’s production decrease only recording 75 tackles, as well as recording his first of three Super Bowl Championships. The 2002 season was diminished by injury for Bruschi appearing in only 11 games on the season. In those 11 games Bruschi recorded 66 tackles. Coming back from injury in 2003 Bruschi had his best statistical season as a pro, playing in all 16 games and recording 131 tackles as well as 2 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 3 interceptions. Bruschi went on to win his second Super Bowl Championship, as well as being named an All Pro for the 2003 season. The 2004 season was another strong one for Bruschi, recording 122 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 3 interceptions. Bruschi won his third Super Bowl championship, was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career and was again named an All Pro.

Bruschi then suffered a stroke just days after playing in the 2005 Pro Bowl. It was unclear is Bruschi would make a full healthy recovery, never mind play football again. Bruschi remarkably made a speedy recovery and even came back to play in the 2005 season, just months after suffering the stroke. Bruschi appeared in 9 games and was back to his old form picking up 62 tackles during those 9 games, and was named the Comeback Player of the Year. With being fully recovered medically from his stroke Bruschi appeared in 15 games in 2006 and was again back to his old ways, recording 112 tackles. During Bruschi’s last two seasons in the league in 2007 and 2008 he collected 92 and 75 tackles.

Bruschi is arguably the best linebacker and defensive player of the Belichick era. Bruschi was named to the Patriots Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013 and I believe that he should and one day will be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

All of the players listed above have played great in New England and under coach Bill Belichick. With the emergences of young star linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them on this list somewhere down the line if they can continue and improve on the early success both have displayed in the NFL.

Giant’s Jason Pierre-Paul has Finger Amputated After Fireworks Accident

Image from gcobb.com
Image from gcobb.com

Giant’s defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul sustained a severe hand injury over the weekend due to a fireworks accident. Pierre-Paul reportedly had a U-Haul truck filled completely with fireworks to set off with some friends in celebration of Independence Day. While lighting one of the fireworks himself, something went terribly wrong, and Pierre-Paul burned himself. While there have been all kinds of reports as to the extent of the injury, it has become clear that there were indeed injuries to both hands. At first, there were reports that Pierre-Paul could lose an entire hand, and that this could be a career-threatening injury.

After being hospitalized, these reports appear to be false. Details are still rolling in, but it seems as though Pierre-Paul (or JPP as he is sometimes referred to as) did indeed injure both hands, suffering severe burns on the palm of one hand and the tips of three fingers on the other. One finger is being tested for nerve damage. Other reports suggested at the very least JPP would need a few fingers amputated, but these reports also look to be an overreaction, as doctors believed there will be no permanent damage.

Not only does this injury not seem to be career threatening, on July 5, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen tweeted that, “It may not be game or season threatening, either.” The Giant’s have some concern that the injuries could cause him to miss training camp and the beginning of the regular season, but everyone is still awaiting more medical answers.

There is another twist to this story, as Jason Pierre-Paul has yet to sign the $14.8 million franchise tender, and therefore is technically not under contract. The Giants and JPP have until July 15 to work out a long-term contract, but the Giants have said publicly that they would be okay allowing JPP to play out the 2015 season under the one-year tender and then letting him hit free agency next year.

In the days following the accident, Giants team officials went down to South Florida, where Pierre-Paul lives, looking to see him and diagnose the injuries to his hands themselves. However, with JPP not currently under contract, he doesn’t have to let them see him, and he has avoided them since the accident. The Giants have yet to see Pierre-Paul’s hands, and the public has yet to be made aware of the extent of the injury as of Tuesday. JPP may end up as a free agent, not playing a snap for the Giants this year.

On Tuesday night, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted out a medical report that revealed JPP indeed had his right index finger amputated. It has been reported that Pierre-Paul should be able to play, “sooner than you think.” JPP reportedly chose to have the finger amputated because it would allow him to come back sooner.

JPP is certainly an important part of the Giants defense. Considered the team’s top pass rusher, the two-time Pro Bowler led the Giants in sacks, tackles for loss, and quarterback hits. The former first round-pick also recorded 76 tackles (third on the team), which was second only to J.J. Watt among defensive lineman in 2014.

If Pierre-Paul were to miss any time, let alone extensive time, it will certainly hurt a Giants team that has high expectations. Odell Beckham Jr. emerged as a star last year, they will get Victor Cruz and Rashad Jennings back from injury, they’ve improved the offensive line, and Eli Manning is a 2-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback. Despite recent struggles, it isn’t inconceivable to think of the Giants as playoff contenders in 2015, but missing a top tier pass rusher like Jason Pierre-Paul could really put a damper on those playoff hopes. It certainly leads one to wonder about the six-week dead period the NFL has between OTAs and the start of training camp, and they will likely think about shortening the time period where the players go unsupervised, or perhaps, allowing more contact in order to supervise them during the six week offseason.