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Good article on Cofield

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Good article on Cofield

Post  Big_Pete on Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:18 pm

NY Giants defensive tackle Barry Cofield sacks Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler two weeks ago.

It was in February, more than a month after last season, when Barry Cofield looked back and realized how bad 2009 had really been for him. That's when he finally admitted to himself that "I wasn't right," playing at 75%, maybe even less, thanks to his surgically repaired left knee.

Not long after that, the fifth-year defensive tackle started to "feel like a new man," practicing without pain, doing some things in drills that he hadn't done since early in the 2008 season.

And that was right about the time the Giants nearly traded him to the New Orleans Saints.

That would have been a "tragic" mistake, according to Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, who was one of many who have been singing the praises of the new and improved Cofield through the first five games of the season. Heading into today's game between the Giants (3-2) and the Detroit Lions (1-4), Cofield has been providing the kind of interior presence and pass rush the Giants haven't had since late in their Super Bowl season.

Even he admits he's been "pleasantly surprised" by both his play and his fortuitous turn of events.

"You know what? It's almost like mentally, I am surprised," Cofield said. "But in my heart I felt things would always work out. I just trained as if I was going to be the guy. Despite everything that's happened the Giants have always supported me and told me I was going to be the guy. They told me I was their starter until I played my way out of the position. And I felt like if I played my best football then I would be the starter. That's been the case."

If the Giants really wanted him to be the starter, though, they had a funny way of showing it. Cofield had what he called "an advanced scope" on his knee after the 2008 season (in reality, Cofield later said, it was microfracture surgery and a procedure to repair his patella tendon) and he was still recovering when the Giants signed two defensive tackles Chris Canty (six years, $42 million) and Rocky Bernard (four years, $16 million) to expensive deals. Then, after Cofield struggled through a poor 2009 season, obviously not fully recovered, they were ready to ship him to New Orleans for a second-round pick.

The only reason the draft-day trade fell through was because the Saints couldn't negotiate a contract extension with Cofield in time. And then the Giants drafted another defensive tackle anyway, taking Linval Joseph out of East Carolina in the second round.

If any of that angered Cofield, though, he isn't saying. Instead, he decided to make the most of what could be his final year with the Giants, which he's playing on a one-year, $1.759 million tender contract.
"I just looked back at the films, I looked back at my resume and realized I've started a lot of games and played a lot of snaps for this team," Cofield said. "And if I wasn't going to be the guy here, then I felt comfortable that I could be the guy somewhere else. That's my approach going forward."

It helped, too, that he had an advocate in new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell who considers the 6-4, 306-pounder to be "probably the smartest defensive lineman that we have in the room." He also thought Cofield was underutilized, often coming off the field in passing situations under the two previous defensive coordinators.

Fewell saw a sleeping giant of an interior pass rusher and decided to turn him loose.

The results have been impressive. He has two sacks so far to go with five quarterback hits and six tackles for losses. And his push up the middle is an overlooked reason for the Giants' 13-sack explosion in the last two weeks. Tuck called him "a great football player" and didn't think that was an overstatement at all.

Why?

"Because he does all the small things that people don't notice," Tuck said. "All the stuff you all do notice, that's good and dandy. But the things you all do not know are tremendous. The things that he allows other people to do as far as taking on the double-team or being unselfish on a rush and allowing Osi (Umenyiora) to kind of go get our sacks and things like that. I really put a high regard on a person like that, because he kind of lives in our shadows sometimes."

That may be true, but the value of a strong interior defensive line is obvious to NFL teams. The Lions, for example, used the No. 2 pick on defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in April the first of four DTs that went in the first round, with a total of 10 that went in the first two rounds.

It's ironic that the Giants, after spending $58 million and a second-round draft pick on the position are getting their best interior rush in years out of a player they nearly traded and still haven't given a long-term contract. Even Cofield knows the Giants probably weren't expecting him to provide this kind of production.

Maybe, though, it shouldn't have been as big of a shock as it was.

"Like I said, in my heart I always felt that I had the ability," Cofield said. "But a lot of times it just doesn't translate. It doesn't translate statistically, and sometimes you don't get the opportunities. So I've definitely had that happen for me this year, and I'm excited about the future."


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Re: Good article on Cofield

Post  56 Crazed Dogs on Mon Oct 18, 2010 4:56 pm

No question, Cofield has played his best season so far.
But is he just another example of a player playing his best ball in a contract year?
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Re: Good article on Cofield

Post  Big_Pete on Mon Oct 18, 2010 7:45 pm

TD wrote:No question, Cofield has played his best season so far.
But is he just another example of a player playing his best ball in a contract year?

I don't think so.

Cofield has been solid for some time, I think injuries slowed him down a little.

Cofield was a college DE, it may be that Nunn and Fewell are using Cofield more effectively than Wauffle/Spags-Sheridan.

I am stoked that Canty, Cofield and Bernard are playing great football, promising rookie Linval Joseph can't get on the field too much. Our DTs are a big (very under rated) part of our very strong defense.

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Re: Good article on Cofield

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