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Interesting Takes From Warner & Coughlin

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  • Interesting Takes From Warner & Coughlin

    Wednesday, June 9, 2004

    By Sal Paolantonio
    Special to

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- You can see it in his eyes. Kurt Warner's eyes are wide open, revealing the happiness of a man who has emerged from the long slumber of lost opportunity.

    "I feel completely re-energized," said Warner, as he came off the field after his first mini-camp practice with his new team, the New York Giants.

    Warner lacked some zip on his passes during practices.
    Rewind to Giants Stadium, Week 1 last year. Under constant pressure from Michael Strahan and company, Warner was sacked six times and fumbled six times, and started his last game for the St. Louis Rams. Sitting on the trainer's table in the visitors' locker room at Giants Stadium that Sunday afternoon, Warner had just been diagnosed with a mild concussion and his eyes had the vacant look of a man who had just bought a one-way ticket down the rabbit hole.

    The contrast between Warner then and Warner now couldn't be more stark. And the situation couldn't be more ironic -- the team that ended his season has now handed Warner a chance at NFL redemption.

    It's no wonder that Warner has displayed the same wide-eyed eagerness of the former stock boy from Iowa who emerged from NFL Europe and replaced the injured Trent Green to re-write the history of Rams football in St. Louis.

    "Normally, the player will sit down and will have to talk to his agent on the phone," said Giants head coach Tom Coughlin. "He said, 'I don't want any of this. Let's get this done.' He signed right away. He was down the hall, looking for coaches, saying 'Let's go meet.' He wanted to get himself immersed in this offense right away."

    There is good reason for Warner to be anxious. Coming to New York means that Warner, who will be 33 on June 22, will be under-going several mid-life, mid-course adjustments.

    He must adjust to the demands of Coughlin's offense, which shall we say is a bit more conservative than the Greatest Show on Turf choreographed by Mike Martz. And Warner will be learning the new offense with a newly minted franchise quarterback, Eli Manning, looking over his shoulder.

    The Giants invested two first-round draft picks and expended a lot of public relations good will to acquire Manning in a trade with San Diego in this year's NFL draft. Some see Warner as the perfect mentor for Manning, or at least a temporary diversion so that Manning can incubate his talents without being over-exposed by the white, hot lights of the New York media.

    Warner will have none of that. You can tell by the tone and conviction in his voice that, for Warner, this is not about Peyton Manning's little brother.

    "Obviously, I'm coming in to compete to start," said Warner, who has lost his last eight starts. "There is no question about that. I don't see myself holding a clipboard. I know I can still play, and play effectively in this league."

    Warner insists the injuries to his throwing hand, especially his right thumb, have fully healed. "Physically, I feel great, as good as I've felt," said Warner. "All the other stuff I think will come. It's just hard trying to step into a new offense after such a short period of time and really feeling comfortable in what's going on … I plan on being the starter Sept. 12 in Philadelphia."

    That may be the case, but it's been clear in mini-camp that Warner is struggling to catch on. He admitted as much.

    "I had a couple of incomplete passes last week in practice and my wife heard about it all weekend," said Warner, whose passes seem to lack zip. "You build that mentality where you want to be perfect, you want to complete every pass. When it doesn't happen, it is frustrating. I expect myself to make the passes I should make and make the decisions I should make, whether it's my second day or I'm here for four years.

    "I need to get better," Warner added. "Little by little, I'm feeling more comfortable. I'm seeing the field a little bit but it's early on, with things like the cadence, it's hard, it's a transition. I'm thinking about the cadence actually rather than thinking about what's going on downfield."

    Right now, Warner may be less than satisfied with his adjustment to his new surroundings, but the veterans in the Giants locker room couldn't be happier to see him out there.

    Indeed, within the Giants organization, there is a quiet consensus that general manager Ernie Accorsi only took an interest in Warner after several Giants veterans, including Strahan, expressed public displeasure with starting the season with Manning as the starter.

    They also publicly questioned the team's treatment of Kerry Collins, who piloted the Giants to the Super Bowl in 2001 and played through several painful re-configurations of the Giants offensive line without so much as a hint of complaint.

    The Giants first tried to sign Neil O'Donnell. He decided to stay retired. Then Accorsi talked to ex-Jet quarterback Vinny Testaverde. But instead of staying in New York, Testaverde decided to sign his with old coach, Bill Parcells, in Dallas.

    That left Warner as the only viable alternative. But Accorsi had to do something. It was clear from the Giants first post-draft mini-camp last month that Manning's development would take time, and every hiccup would be magnified in the New York press. Accorsi had to take some of the spotlight off Manning. And he had to find a veteran who had the star power that the Big Apple demands.

    Most important, Accorsi had to convince his locker room that the Giants organization wasn't chalking up the 2004 season to the Manning experiment.

    "We needed to know that we have a chance this year," said one veteran player. "A lot of guys around here don't have that much time left in this league. We're not in a position to start over."

    Said Carlos Emmons, a veteran linebacker who missed the playoffs last year with the Eagles because he broke his leg, "We know having a guy like Warner gives us a better chance of winning this year, not wasting a year."

    “ Obviously, I'm coming in to compete to start. There is no question about that. I don't see myself holding a clipboard. I know I can still play, and play effectively in this league. ”
    —QB Kurt Warner

    If Warner can give the Giants just a little taste of the quarterback who once threw 98 touchdown passes in three years, then that will give Coughlin and his coaching staff enough time to get Manning ready by, say, Week 6 or 8. Because, make no mistake about it, the folks high up in the Giants organization believe it is critical that Manning make his debut as a starter in the 2004 season.

    "This is not a Carson Palmer situation," said one official familiar with the thinking of the Giants organization. Palmer, of course, was drafted No. 1 overall by the Bengals, then sat for a year while Jon Kitna put Cincinnati in playoff contention.

    There is too much pedigree in the Manning name, and too much was invested in making the bold, unorthodox move to acquire Manning. And this is not Ohio, and an organization that has fans who have been accustomed to losing.

    That said, two straight 4-12 seasons won't cut it in New York. So, this is Coughlin's dilemma and challenge -- make Warner productive while he gets Manning ready, and make the transition smooth while keeping the team competitive. A tall order.

    "We are going to do everything that we can to have the best possible football team for the New York Giants fans," said Coughlin, who has added 17 veterans through free agency and waiver claims -- one of the biggest roster turnovers in the league this offseason. "I am saying to the players that we are trying to put the best team together that we possibly can."

    First, Coughlin must re-tool an offensive line that was arguably the worst in the NFL last season. The Giants gave up 44 sacks last year, tied with Arizona for worst in the NFC. Then, he's got to find a way to ignite the Giants offense -- without sacrificing his core values. The sluggish New York offense averaged just 10.59 yards per pass completion, second lowest in the NFC (only Detroit was worse). Third downs were converted only 33.5 percent of the time -- worst in the NFC. And the Giants only scored 26 touchdowns -- only the Cardinals scored fewer (25) in the NFC.

    Coughlin's offense is a protection first offense. He wants the quarterback protected at all costs. And part of that is the quarterback's job. He wants the ball released after a specific three- or five-step drop on time to the receiver. Coughlin doesn't like the quarterback holding onto the ball, waiting for the play to develop downfield.

    At this juncture in his career, Warner should welcome this change without equivocation. Trying to regain his confidence and re-tool his once deadly accuracy and zip, Warner should embrace Coughlin's philosophy and approach -- get the ball and get it out in a hurry.

    Coughlin said a big reason Warner was 0h-for his last eight in St. Louis was "he was hit solidly in the mouth when he had the ball." That, Coughlin said, won't happen here.

    "That's what everybody wants, to take care of the quarterback, so in that sense it does suit Kurt -- this is what he needs right now," said Coughlin. "Our offense attempts to combine the controlled game with the deep ball. We will throw it down the field, when the opportunity presents itself."

    Warner said he would "love" to finish his career in New York. But the contract he signed suggests he has been careful to protect his future options. He signed a two-year deal with New York, with the second year voidable -- by Warner.

    That couldn't be a clearer indication that the Giants are giving him an opportunity to kick start his near-dead NFL career, while the organization hopes that Warner bridges the gap until Manning arrives.

    "What the future holds," said Warner, "nobody knows. Nobody knows what the scenario is going to be. But I don't want to keep moving. I don't want to pick up my family and keep moving. I want to continue to have success and I would love it to be here in New York."

    Sal Paolantonio covers the NFL for ESPN.

  • #2
    Re: Interesting Takes From Warner & Coughlin

    Coughlin said a big reason Warner was 0h-for his last eight in St. Louis was "he was hit solidly in the mouth when he had the ball." That, Coughlin said, won't happen here.

    Pretty bold, in your face statement by Coughlin. We'll see if he can back it up.


    • #3
      Re: Interesting Takes From Warner & Coughlin

      I posted this yesterday and I want to share it again cause it appear today agian,
      Here in a newspaper I receive daily writes the FB (Edgar Cervantes) of the Giants that is Mexican (from DF although moved when was child to california) from U. Iowa , today writes about the QB's and all he says is that Warner is better, cause in the huddle he's the leader and his voice makes confident the players and also thinks is more accurate, confident and experience, and he made his final statement by saying that Warner will be the starter because of what he has seen as today.

      Maybe he's wrong but at least is an oppinion from somebody that is in the camp and in the huddles, and he always writes since Warner came to camp that he's a leader in the huddle and Manning is not at least for now and he thinks Warner should play this year completely.


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      • WisRamsFan
        Warner in the correct forum
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        Warner becomes caretaker QB until Manning ready

        By TOM CANAVAN, AP Sports Writer
        June 3, 2004
        EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The New York Giants are taking some of the pressure off Eli Manning , signing Kurt Warner to be their caretaker quarterback until the top pick in the draft is ready to take over.

        While the two-time MVP got a two-year contract late Wednesday that will pay him a minimum of $3.5 million this year, there is no guarantee the two-time NFL MVP will play for the Giants for more than a year.

        When Manning is ready to go, he will be the Giants' quarterback.


        Until then, the job seemingly belongs to Warner, the soon-to-be 33-year-old who led the St. Louis Rams to Super Bowl appearances after the 1999 and 2001 seasons. Injuries and the emergence of Marc Bulger earned him a pink slip on Tuesday.

        ``I am looking to come in and to play and to re-establish myself,'' Warner said at Thursday, hours after his first practice. ``I would love this to be where I finish my career.''

        Warner has incentives that can push his salary to $8 million this season. However, the second year of his contract is voidable and his tenure may well be determined by Manning's progress in his rookie season.

        ``I don't want to keep moving and picking up my family,'' Warner added. ``I want to continue to have success. I would love it to be here in New York and I will do whatever in my time here to be successful. We'll just see what happens.''

        ``Obviously Manning is there, but this is New York and if Kurt wins, they are not going to want him to leave,'' said Mark Bartelstein, Warner's agent.

        The signing takes a ton of pressure off Manning.

        The son of Archie Manning and the brother of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning became the Giants' starting quarterback when Kerry Collins refused to take a pay cut and was released less than a week after New York got the No. 1 pick in a draft-day trade with San Diego.

        Manning, who has known for weeks the Giants planned to sign a veteran, still plans on competing for the starting job.

        ``I don't know if this takes the pressure off,'' Manning said. ``I don't know if anything has changed in my view. I am still going to practice just as hard as ever. I want to be ready.''

        Manning and Warner spoke for a few minutes on Thursday. Warner plans to tutor Manning, just as he did with Bulger in St. Louis.

        ``To teach a guy the little things and have him become a better quarterback was fun for me, as frustrating as it was not playing,'' Warner said. ``But I look forward to helping any way I can.''

        Warner also is looking forward to playing again. He suffered a concussion in a season-opening loss to the Giants last season and did not start for the rest of the year. He...
        -06-03-2004, 03:58 PM
      • Guest's Avatar
        QB Kurt Warner is set to leave the Giants and become a starter for another NFL team.
        by Guest
        December 29, 2004

        EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Kurt Warner believes he can and will be a starting quarterback in the NFL.

        QB Kurt Warner is set to leave the Giants and become a starter for another NFL team.
        Eli Manning is the Giants’ starter. Therefore, the Giants’ Sunday night season finale against the Dallas Cowboys could well be Warner’s final game in a Giants uniform.

        “Very possibly,” Warner said today. “I think everybody would foresee that being the case. Who knows what’s going to happen? You never know what the future has in store and what could transpire. But I think that’s everybody’s thought process right now.

        “I want to be somewhere starting next year. They know it’s not here with the New York Giants. And they understand my point of view 100 percent.”

        Warner, who was signed as a free agent on June 2 after a record-breaking six-year run with the St. Louis Rams, started the first nine games of the season. The Giants were 5-4 in those games and Warner completed 62.8 percent of his passes (174 of 277) for 2,054 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions. Warner’s quarterback rating of 86.5 still ranks seventh in the NFC.

        After a 17-14 loss in Arizona on November 14, coach Tom Coughlin named Manning the new starting quarterback. The first pick in this year’s NFL Draft – and a player the Giants obtained in a trade of draft choices, including this year’s first round pick -- Manning was the quarterback of the future. The only question was when that future would arrive.

        Since it did, Warner has played just once in relief, an appearance in a hopelessly lost cause in the fourth quarter of a 23-point defeat in Baltimore, where he led the Giants to their only offensive touchdown.

        Throughout what could have been a difficult or uncomfortable position, Warner has carried himself with dignity and grace. He has helped Manning whenever possible. Warner has publicly advocated that Coughlin stick with Manning, even when the youngster struggled, and it seemed he might have a shot to play again. And Warner has never hidden from the media. Today he entered the locker room and said, “Does anybody need me?”

        While Warner is an exceptional gentleman, he is also an intense competitor. It is that fire that helped him win two NFL Most Valuable Player awards and twice lead the Rams to the Super Bowl, including a victory five years ago. At 33, Warner insists he has plenty of good football left in him, a notion that was cemented in his own mind by his play early this season.

        “I’m not going to be content, right now in my career, where I am and what I believe I can do, being a backup next year,” he said. “It’s just the bottom line. It’s nothing against the New York Giants, it’s nothing against the situation, the coaches, the organization. I love my year here. But I’m not content being a backup. I think...
        -12-29-2004, 07:57 PM
      • Nick
        Warner must prove he can still produce - Pasquarelli
        by Nick
        Warner must prove he can still produce
        By Len Pasquarelli

        The Giants are hoping that Kurt Warner will take better care of the ball.

        On the New York Giants' Web site Thursday morning, a hastily photographed digital image of the franchise's newest starting quarterback appeared -- Kurt Warner in a red practice jersey bearing his familiar No. 13.

        Given the recent performance of the all-time league leader in passing efficiency -- remember, this is a player who hasn't won a game as a starter since 2001 -- both the color of the practice shirt and the numerals emblazoned on the front and back of it might, alas, prove pretty appropriate.

        The Giants are hoping that Kurt Warner will take better care of the ball.
        The Giants wear blue uniforms, of course, and the red practice jersey is a universal "don't touch" cautionary measure designed to keep pass rushers from jostling the quarterback. As for the No. 13, well, surely the most non-superstitious among us understands its ominous implications. Even the great Dan Marino, who also thumbed his nose at fate by donning No. 13 for all 17 of his mostly brilliant seasons, eventually could not elude the misfortune attached to those dire digits.

        And so, while we hope we're wrong about this, given that Warner is a good guy and one who couldn't depart St. Louis before first passing through the Rams' complex to visit with the people who served as his support group for six seasons, that red practice shirt and the No. 13 represent an ominous beginning to the next chapter of his career.

        During an afternoon news conference, a smiling Warner noted Giants officials were kind enough to allow him to retain his favorite uniform number. Maybe a change of scenery, though, begged for a change from the recently cursed 13. Warner also noted that, after starting just one game in 2003, it is time to get his feet wet again. But should he spend much of '04 submerged beneath the opposition pass rush, desperately trying to tread water behind New York's remodeled offensive line, Warner might someday look back on the irony of his words.

        Make no mistake, signing Warner to a two-year contract worth $9.5 million -- which, in reality, is a one-year deal at $3 million, since the second year is voidable -- was a solid enough gamble by New York. But there is no mistaking as well that Warner, who will turn 33 in a couple weeks and who was sacked six times while throwing but one touchdown pass in 2003, isn't the same guy who claimed two league MVP awards and led the Rams to a Super Bowl XXXIV championship.

        Once the ego of Kerry Collins kept him from collecting a $7 million paycheck this year for introducing the Tutor Dynasty at Giants Stadium, serving as a grizzled starter/mentor to Eli Manning, the team sought Neil O'Donnell for that position. When he declined, and it became clear Warner...
        -06-08-2004, 10:52 AM
      • Yodude
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        Horrible game with Rams opened door for Warner to sign with Giants
        Friday, October 22, 2004
        By Tom Kowalski

        ALLEN PARK -- Kurt Warner has won a Super Bowl, a couple of NFL Most Valuable Player awards and has set all kinds of passing records, but he's currently the New York Giants quarterback because head coach Tom Coughlin was impressed with one of Warner's worst-ever games.

        In last year's season opener, when he was quarterbacking the St. Louis Rams, Warner had a horrific game against the Giants. He was sacked six times, fumbled six times (losing three) and was intercepted once in New York's 23-13 win against the Rams.

        Coughlin, who became the Giants head coach this year, remembered that performance (after watching game films) when he was deciding whether to sign Warner as a free agent in the off-season.

        "I looked hard at the game," said Coughlin, whose 4-1 Giants host the 3-2 Detroit Lions Sunday at Giants Stadium. "He had the turnovers, no question, but he also performed with outstanding toughness even well into the fourth quarter, despite the statistics, the turnovers and all of those things. He was battling and competing and had a high percentage completion rate even deep into the fourth quarter."

        Coughlin, who is a hard-nosed throwback coach, wanted a competitor and that's what he got in Warner, who only wanted an opportunity to play. After his glory years in St. Louis, Warner stumbled hard with the Rams and it appeared his career might be over.

        "I never had the doubt, from a personal standpoint, about my skills and that I could play at that level," Warner said. "I had some doubt about whether I'd get a legitimate chance to do it. That's where the doubts were. I always felt that if I ever got that opportunity, I could play this game as well as I've ever played it."

        That's why Warner didn't want to sign with the Lions as a backup to Joey Harrington.

        "It was kicked around and talked about a little bit but, obviously, they have a young quarterback who they've put some stock in and given him the opportunities to continue to progress," Warner said. "It wasn't the most conducive situation to what I was looking for, but I definitely considered it.

        "(Lions) Coach (Steve) Mariucci is an old friend of mine and I really love the guy. That would've been a great fit, other than the standpoint that they have Joey there and he has so much talent and he's proven that's the right direction to go."

        After a close training camp battle between Warner and first-round draft pick Eli Manning, the Giants decided they wanted to go with the veteran. Warner has responded with solid performances, completing 65 percent of his passes and throwing just one interception in five games. However, Warner -- and his three touchdown passes -- is...
        -10-22-2004, 05:57 PM
      • Nick
        Warner wows his receivers
        by Nick
        Warner wows his receivers
        Accurate with passes


        ALBANY - When the ball comes out of Kurt Warner's hand, more often than not it wobbles. It's not a bad throw by any measure of an NFL quarterback, and it's obviously worked for him in the past.

        It just seems to pale in comparison to the perfect spiral rookie Eli Manning throws time after time.

        But the beauty of Warner's arm and his wobbly passes are in the eyes of his receivers. And so far Warner's new teammates on the Giants love what they see.

        "It doesn't matter what his passes look like because the stat sheet doesn't show the aesthetics of a pass," said running back Tiki Barber. "He's smart. He knows how to throw the ball where it needs to be."

        That's what Warner always did best in St. Louis, where he threw for 14,447 yards and 102 touchdowns in a mostly remarkable six seasons. And by all accounts that's what he's done in his first week of training camp with the Giants as well. Warner has an uncanny knack for being accurate in both his decisions and where he places the football. And even though he's still in the early stages of learning the Giants' new offense, there's been no evidence that he's lost his touch.

        "Kurt is a great anticipator," receiver Ike Hilliard said. "He's seeing the offenses and defenses and routes and schemes to where he can see it open up. It's almost like second nature. Regardless of how the ball looks, as long as it gets to us it's OK. He doesn't have to throw a dart all the time because he's anticipating a second or two ahead. That's all that matters."

        Warner has always been good at anticipating where a play is going. He may have had great receivers in St. Louis in Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, but the Rams' offense wouldn't have been The Greatest Show on Turf if Warner hadn't been able to constantly hit them on the run.

        In fact, no one has ever done that better. Warner's career completion rate of 66.1% is the highest of anyone who's ever thrown 1,500 NFL passes. For four straight years in St. Louis - 1999-2002 - his percentage never dipped below 65.1. And even last year, when the Giants beat him up in the season opener and forced him to play through a concussion, he still completed 62.9% of his throws for 365 yards.

        And yet, Warner believes this year he could be even better.

        "I'm smarter," Warner said. "I see the field better. I make better decisions than I did before. Through the years, I just feel every year I've gotten better from a mental standpoint. I've been able to slow the game down and I'm able to react to things better than I ever did before."

        That, of course, is what the Giants are counting on, and it's exactly why they signed Warner in June. The strong-armed, 23-year-old...
        -08-09-2004, 11:01 AM