SNY NFL Insider

Ralph Vacchiano

Ralph Vacchiano, award-winning sports reporter and columnist, joined SNY in 2016 as its NFL Insider. Vacchiano will cover the Giants and Jets beats for SNY.tv and be a regular contributor to "Daily News Live" and "GEICO SportsNite." Vacchiano comes to SNY following 15 years as the New York Giants beat writer and columnist for the New York Daily News.

 

Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, Vacchiano graduated from Syracuse University in 1991 and began his professional career covering the Buffalo Bills for the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and later covered the Giants and Jets for the North Jersey Herald & News in Passaic, N.J.. During his 19 years at the Daily News, he also covered the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils (1997-2001), and in 2008 he wrote his first book, Eli Manning: The Making of a Quarterback (Skyhorse Publishing).

 

Vacchiano lives with his wife, Kara, and his daughter, Alexandra, in West Caldwell, N.J.

 (Michael Ainsworth/AP)
(Michael Ainsworth/AP)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY:

The Jets still don't know who their quarterback will be when the 2017 season begins, but the consensus inside their front office seems to be that whoever it is didn't finish the 2016 season on the roster. Their quarterback of the immediate future, at least, is likely to come from the outside.

Just who that will be is still unknown, and there are many options being considered, according to team sources. There is a lot of internal support for Mike Glennon, the 27-year-old Bucs backup who will become a free agent on March 9. But even if he emerges as the object of the Jets' desire, he could be prohibitively expensive. The Bills, Browns and 49ers all figure to be in the market for a quarterback. Maybe a few other teams, too, like the Bears.

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets guard Brian Winters (67) against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. (Timothy T. Ludwig)
New York Jets guard Brian Winters (67) against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. (Timothy T. Ludwig)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

Brian Winters would've been one of the better guards on the free agent market and he could've cashed in even bigger than the four-year, $29 million deal he got from the Jets. 

But instead of looking for more money and maybe a better situation, the 25-year-old Winters decided to stay put because he believes that, despite the misery of the Jets' 5-11 season, there are much better days for the franchise ahead.

Tags: Ben Ijalana, Breno Giacomini, Brian Winters, James Carpenter, Nick Mangold, Ryan Clady, Wesley Johnson, Ralph Vacchiano
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DNL pick'em: Divisional Round 00:04:27
The Daily News Live panel makes its prognostications on the NFL Divisional Round games this weekend.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY:

Here's a look at the two AFC divisional-round playoff games this weekend:

Houston Texans (10-7) at the New England Patriots (14-2)

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 (Benny Sieu)
(Benny Sieu)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY:

Here's a look at the two NFC divisional-round playoff games this weekend:

Seattle Seahawks (11-5-1) at the Atlanta Falcons (11-5)

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 (William Hauser)
(William Hauser)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY:

Leonard Williams was one of the few bright spots in the Jets' mostly dismal season. And now the 22-year-old defensive end is being rewarded for that with a trip to the Pro Bowl.

Williams, the youngest player to ever be voted by his Jets teammates as their MVP, was named to the AFC Pro Bowl squad on Thursday as a replacement for injured Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack

Williams, who was voted a first alternate, had seven sacks for the Jets this season. For most of the season he was the best player on the Jets' disappointing defensive line...

Tags: Leonard Williams, Sheldon Richardson, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Kelley L Cox)
(Kelley L Cox)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY:

The Giants signed 10 players to reserve/future contracts on Tuesday and added two more on Wednesday, ensuring all 12 will stay with the team at least until the offseason program begins in April.

Among the most notable names were cornerback Donte Deayon and receiver Darius Powe, who spent the entire season on the practice squad after impressive training camps as undrafted free agents last summer, and cornerback Michael Hunter, who played two games for the Giants during the regular season.

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 (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports Images)
(Kim Klement/USA Today Sports Images)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY:

The Giants could have somewhere near $40 million in salary cap space to play with this offseason if the cap rises all the way to $168 million, as some in the NFL project. They might even end up with more, depending on what contracts they restructure and which players they decide to cut.

And while that may not be enough to turn them into big spenders in free agency the way they were a year ago, it certainly is enough for them to re-sign some of their own unrestricted free agents. They have 17 UFAs to deal with, and several other free agents who are restricted. And a few of them could demand and command big money from someone -- particularly the two free agents on the Giants' defensive line.

Tags: Darian Thompson, Eli Manning, Jason Pierre-Paul, John Jerry, Johnathan Hankins, Keenan Robinson, Kerry Wynn, Larry Donnell, Mark Herzlich, Marshall Newhouse, Nikita Whitlock, Olivier Vernon, Orleans Darkwa, Ryan Nassib, Shane Vereen, Trevin Wade, Will Beatty, Will Tye, Zak DeOssie, Ralph Vacchiano
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Jennings on Giants loss 00:01:06
New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings talks about the team's painful loss to the Packers, and a positive future for Big Blue.

Despite not totaling 100 rushing yards in a game this season, New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings believes he still has room to grow.

"I'm confident in my talent," Jennings said Tuesday, according to the New York Post. "There's no doubt. I've got a lot of football left in me. Trust me. I've got an even bigger chip on my shoulder to prove people wrong, and I'm looking forward to it."

Jennings, 31, totaled 593 rushing yards on 181 carries with three touchdowns in the regular season. He added 201 receiving yards on 35 catches with one touchdown.

Tags: Green Bay Packers, Rashad Jennings, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants offensive tackle Ereck Flowers (74) blocks Dallas Cowboys defensive end Benson Mayowa (93) in the game at AT&T Stadium. (Tim Heitman)
New York Giants offensive tackle Ereck Flowers (74) blocks Dallas Cowboys defensive end Benson Mayowa (93) in the game at AT&T Stadium. (Tim Heitman)

On the night the Giants drafted Ereck Flowers, the organization glowed about his potential. Jerry Reese called him "a big, tough guy with a little bit of a nasty streak." Tom Coughlin hailed him as "a battleship, an aircraft carrier." They had found their left tackle of the future. Reese even said "It's all upside with him.

"A franchise left tackle is a rare commodity," Marc Ross, the Giants scouting director said that night. "There are not many of those guys around the league and we think this guy has the ability, the upside, the potential, the toughness, the smarts and the competitiveness to be a franchise left tackle for us."

Two years later, is it possible the Giants were wrong?

They might be considering that possibility after a second straight season of struggles for the ninth overall pick of the 2015 draft. They're not exactly giving up on the still-only-22-year-old, especially since at 6-6, 329, Flowers does have rare strength and size. But Reese left the door open on Monday that maybe left tackle isn't his best - or his permanent - spot

Tags: Ereck Flowers, Ralph Vacchiano
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Up in the heir 00:02:22
Daily News Live debates the future of Giants quarterback Eli Manning and New York's quest for a replacement if they draft a quarterback.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY

The clock is winding down on Eli Manning's career, though no one knows how quickly. It's probably safe to assume that Manning doesn't have more than three seasons left as the starting quarterback of the New York Giants. Maybe.

But even if that's true, that still doesn't mean the Giants have to start looking for his replacement. At least not right now.

Tags: Denver Broncos, Eli Manning, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Ralph Vacchiano
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Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Jake Ryan tackles New York Giants tight end Will Tye in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Lambeau Field. (Dan Powers/The Post-Crescent via USA TODAY Sports)
Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Jake Ryan tackles New York Giants tight end Will Tye in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Lambeau Field. (Dan Powers/The Post-Crescent via USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY

GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- Of all the things that could've gone wrong for the New York Giants this season, the last thing anyone expected to malfunction was the offense. They had brought back all their key pieces from a top-10 offense, including their play-caller, their quarterback and one of the best receivers in football.

Yet the offense was a disaster, almost right from the start.

The Giants will likely spend the next few weeks and months trying to figure out how it all disintegrated so quickly and why an offense that was ranked in the top 10 for both of Ben McAdoo's two years as offensive coordinator plummeted to 26th in his first year as head coach. The Giants scored almost a touchdown less per game in 2016 than they did one year earlier and gained about 40 yards fewer per game

Tags: Eli Manning, Ereck Flowers, Green Bay Packers, Larry Donnell, Odell Beckham Jr., Paul Perkins, Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, Sterling Shepard, Victor Cruz, Will Tye, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Bill Streicher)
(Bill Streicher)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY:

GREEN BAY, Wisc. - Victor Cruz insisted he never once thought that he might have been playing his last game as a Giant on Sunday, even though he surely knows there's a good chance that he was.

But with his future up in the air now that the Giants' season is over, Cruz made it clear he wants to return to the only team he's ever known.

"Absolutely," Cruz said after the Giants' 38-13 wild-card loss to the Packers. "This is family. This is home. I don't know anywhere else. I don't want to know anywhere else."

Tags: Victor Cruz, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. walks off the field following Sunday's 38-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC wild-card game at Lambeau FIeld. (Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. walks off the field following Sunday's 38-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC wild-card game at Lambeau FIeld. (Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY

GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- Odell Beckham Jr. wants desperately to be considered the biggest of big-time performers. He insists on being in the spotlight. He craves everyone's attention.

That's why it was so shocking -- disappointing, really -- that on the biggest stage of his life, Beckham came up so small.

Tags: Green Bay Packers, Jonathan Casillas, Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Victor Cruz, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. cannot catch a pass against Green Bay Packers cornerback LaDarius Gunter in the NFC wild-card game at Lambeau Field. (Dan Powers/The Post-Crescent via USA TODAY Sports)
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. cannot catch a pass against Green Bay Packers cornerback LaDarius Gunter in the NFC wild-card game at Lambeau Field. (Dan Powers/The Post-Crescent via USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV:

GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- In the beginning, the game couldn't have been any better for the New York Giants. Their defense was absolutely dominating the Green Bay Packers. The offense was even moving the ball.

In the end, what beat the Giants was the same thing that beat them all season long: themselves.

Tags: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Victor Cruz, Ralph Vacchiano
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Vacc's 3 Keys: Giants-Packers 00:02:43
SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano discusses his 3 keys to a Giants' victory on Sunday vs. the Green Bay Packers.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY:

THE GAME: The Giants (11-5) at the Green Bay Packers (10-6) in the wild-card round of the NFL playoffs at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc., on Sunday, Jan. 8 at 4:40 p.m.

THE WEATHER: Brrrrr. … I mean, really, really Brrrrr. … Of course, it won't be quite as painfully cold as it was during Ice Bowl III -- otherwise known as the 2007 NFC championship game when the kickoff temperature was minus-1 and the windchills were at minus-23 -- this will still be painfully cold. At the moment the forecast calls for a kickoff temperature in the single digits, and every time I look at it the number gets lower and lower. Right now, it looks like it could be between 6 and 9. The good news, I guess, is that the winds should be light so it's doubtful the windchills will make it feel much less than zero. … So, um … Yay?

WHAT IT MEANS: The winner, of course, advances to the divisional playoff round next weekend, either at top-seeded Dallas or second-seeded Atlanta...

Tags: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eli Apple, Eli Manning, Janoris Jenkins, Odell Beckham Jr., Ralph Vacchiano
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Jan 15, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese answers questions from media during a press conference to introduce Ben McAdoo as new the new head coach at Quest Diagnostics Training Center Auditorium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Jan 15, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese answers questions from media during a press conference to introduce Ben McAdoo as new the new head coach at Quest Diagnostics Training Center Auditorium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV:

On the day the Giants fired Tom Coughlin, co-owner John Mara was asked to defend what seems like an indefensible decision. He admitted that day that his team was short on talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball. So why, he was asked, fire the coach who was forced to coach those players?

Why not fire the general manager who assembled the losing team?

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Oct 9, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz (80) and Green Bay Packers cornerback Quinten Rollins (24) battle for a pass during the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 23-16. (Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)
Oct 9, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz (80) and Green Bay Packers cornerback Quinten Rollins (24) battle for a pass during the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 23-16. (Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV: 

GREEN BAY, Wisconsin -- This will likely be the coldest game most of the Giants have ever played. It'll be the kind of weather that makes players wish for the game to be over. It can leave coaches red-faced for something other than screaming at the refs.

It's dangerous. It's uncomfortable. It can even be disruptive.

Tags: Green Bay Packers, Ralph Vacchiano
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Stats and Facts: Packers 00:01:02
SNY.tv takes a statistical look at the Giants' first-round playoff opponent, the Green Bay Packers.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY:

A look at some of the interesting and key statistics ahead of the wild-card showdown on Sunday in Green Bay between the Giants (11-5) and the Packers (10-6):

  • The Packers were once considered invincible at Lambeau Field. They had never lost a postseason game there (13-0) until the Atlanta Falcons stunned them in the 2002 wild-card game. Since the streak ended, though, the Packers are 4-5 in playoff games at home.
  • The Giants, having beaten the Packers in the playoffs at Lambeau Field in 2007 and 2011, are the only visiting team in history to ever beat the Packers in consecutive playoff games in Green Bay...
Tags: Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Victor Cruz, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE)
(The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY:

If the Giants' run to the Super Bowl in 2007 seemed like a miracle, it was nothing compared to the 2011 run, which was jumpstarted by a prayer.

It happened at the end of the first half of the Giants' divisional-round playoff game in Green Bay against the 15-1 Packers and their MVP quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. The Giants were locked into a surprisingly tight game, leading 13-10 with six seconds remaining before halftime. They were stuck, though, at the Packers' 37 yard line - too far away for a field goal try.

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GEICO SportsNite: Giants rushing 00:01:56
SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano on Paul Perkins and the Giants improved run game and how it affects their matchup with the Packers.

SNY's Ralph Vacchiano looks at Paul Perkins' emergence at running back and how it is coming at an opportune time for the Giants.

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 (US PRESSWIRE)
(US PRESSWIRE)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY:

The lingering image of the 2007 NFC championship is the one of Tom Coughlin's bright red face. The temperature at kickoff was minus-1 and the windchills were minus-23, making it one of the coldest games in NFL history. Those were frostbite conditions and no doubt Coughlin's face took a big hit.

What I remember most about the cold, though, was my breath -- the uncomfortable feeling like I was inhaling ice chips every time I tried to breathe in. I spent maybe 15 minutes outside doing a TV spot for SNY before the game and not only was it impossible to breathe regularly, my face was red and my fingers were numb for easily a half hour after I finally went inside.

Tags: Eli Manning, Ralph Vacchiano
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GEICO SportsNite: Giants 00:01:53
Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz brush off their Miami trip and Jeane Coakley and Ralph Vacchiano discuss if it will affect their matchup.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV: 

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Few receivers in NFL history have come close to doing what Odell Beckham has done in his first three seasons. But he knows the truth of professional sports: it's the postseason where legends are really made.

That's why he's so "excited" and "anxious" for his first career playoff game this Sunday in Green Bay. He's a big-time player who loves the spotlight, and he can't wait to show what he can do on the NFL's big stage.

"I just don't know what more you would ask for," Beckham said Wednesday. "It's fourth-and-1, it's 1:36 left on the clock, you're down five, you need a play or you just need a first down to stay alive, but you score a touchdown. It's something about those moments, knowing you have to get it done. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it, there's no way around it, you just have to get it done.

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 (Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE)
(Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - As the Giants' offense struggled through this season and the defense carried the day, there has always been the hope that magically, somehow, the old, dynamic Giants offense would emerge. That hope is built on the idea that there are two Eli Mannings.

It's as if the Giants are counting on the fact that now that "Regular Season Eli" is finished, "Playoff Eli" will take over the rest of the way.

Tags: Eli Manning, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins (20) during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. (Jeff Hanisch)
New York Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins (20) during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. (Jeff Hanisch)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Janoris Jenkins said his injured back feels "great" and he'll be ready to go when the Giants open the playoffs in frigid Green Bay on Sunday.

And that's good. Because the Giants (11-5) are going to need him.

Tags: Janoris Jenkins, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (William Hauser)
(William Hauser)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY:

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - The words came from his heart and the intent was to inspire, even if the sincerity and the message was often lost on some of his teammates. That was the problem Brandon Marshall faced this season. He wanted to unite his teammates. He divided them instead.

It's not that the Jets' locker room problems were his fault -- not by a longshot -- but there's no doubt the veteran receiver was in the center of it for much of the miserable, 5-11 season. 

Tags: Brandon Marshall, Darrelle Revis, Sheldon Richardson, Ralph Vacchiano
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Miami Vice 00:03:33
Daily News Live debates whether the Giants wide receivers' decision to fly to Miami on their off day was a good one.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - For just a moment on Tuesday it sounded like Eli Manning was serious, like he really was bothered by the sight of his receivers, shirtless, on a party boat in Miami during their off day, six days before the start of the playoffs.

But that's not Manning's style. Dry humor is more his thing.

Tags: Eli Manning, Jonathan Casillas, Odell Beckham Jr., Rashad Jennings, Sterling Shepard, Victor Cruz, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY:

FLORHAM PARK, N.J - Head coach Todd Bowles may be back for another season with the Jets, but it looks like one of his coordinators -- and possibly both of them -- might not be back with him.

The jobs of offensive coordinator Chan Gailey and defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers are in jeopardy and will be discussed when Bowles meets with Jets management and his coaching staff this week, according to a team source. 

Tags: Brandon Marshall, Bryce Petty, Darrelle Revis, Geno Smith, Muhammad Wilkerson, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Sheldon Richardson, Ralph Vacchiano
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GEICO SportsNite: G-Men Deja Vu? 00:03:12
Marc Malusis and Chris Lopresti debate the Giants chances to make a deep run in the NFL Playoffs with a top ranked defense.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY:

The New York Giants' road to Super Bowl LI begins in Green Bay, the site of two of the greatest triumphs of Eli Manning's career.

Their trip to Lambeau Field became official hours after the Giants finished up their 11-5 season with an impressive 19-10 win in Washington on Sunday afternoon. When the Packers (10-6) defeated the Detroit Lions 31-24 Sunday night, they clinched the NFC North title and the No. 4 seed in the NFC. That set up a date with the fifth-seeded Giants in the wild-card round Sunday at 4:40 p.m. ET.

Tags: Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Eli Manning, Green Bay Packers, Rashad Jennings, Seattle Seahawks, Shane Vereen, Ralph Vacchiano
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GEICO SportsNite: Jets' future? 00:01:59
Jeane Coakley and Ralph Vacchiano touch on various Jets topics including Todd Bowles job security, and the team's lack of chemistry in 2016.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Christian Hackenberg still hasn't taken a snap as the Jets quarterback, but he handled his first media firestorm without flinching at all.

The still unused second-rounder brushed off an ESPN report from Sunday that quoted an anonymous Jets coach saying Hackenberg regressed during his "redshirt" season and was so inaccurate that he "couldn't hit the ocean." Todd Bowles insisted that assessment was "not at all" true.

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ralph Vacchiano
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Marshall on 2016 struggles 00:03:55
Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall discusses a disappointing 2016 season and where he feels his NFL career is going moving forward.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Though he called this "probably my most frustrating year" in the NFL, and though he at times became a polarizing figure in his own locker room, Brandon Marshall made it clear he wants to be back with the Jets next season. He even joked "I'll play for free."

Now the Jets have to decide if the 32-year-old receiver with the declining production and controversial leadership style is worth bringing back, even at that price.

Marshall, of course, believes he is even after one of his least productive seasons - 59 catches for 788 yards and three touchdowns. But his lack of production is only part of his equation. Marshall is due $7.5 million next season -- a bargain for an "elite" receiver, but otherwise a hefty price. And perhaps more importantly, he spent much of this season in the eye of the Jets' locker room storm.

Tags: Brandon Marshall, Darrelle Revis, Sheldon Richardson, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (81) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Mark J. Rebilas)
New York Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (81) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Mark J. Rebilas)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - The "dark cloud" that Darrelle Revis said hung over the Jets for most of the season caused a fractured locker room that never seemed to heal. And at least one Jet is convinced that the cloud of internal problems led directly to the team's miserable, losing year.

"It didn't help us," receiver Quincy Enunwa said on Monday. "You look at our record, it really hindered our play. A big reason for that is when you see the bad things that are going on, you kind of feel like you almost lose your purpose. You go into the season and you don't want to play for self. You want to play for team. But when team doesn't feel like a team, then you've got to start playing for self."

That is a damning assessment, and it seems to sum up the 5-11 Jets perfectly - a team that never really seemed like a team. They all came into the season feeling, as Enunwa said, "that we were a really good team." Then they were blown out in Kansas City in Week 3 and that served as a flashpoint for their new reality. 

Tags: Brandon Marshall, Darrelle Revis, Quincy Enunwa, Sheldon Richardson, Ralph Vacchiano
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Mike Maccagnan, left, and Todd Bowles, right, with Jets owner Woody Johnson. (William Perlman/NJ Advance Media )
Mike Maccagnan, left, and Todd Bowles, right, with Jets owner Woody Johnson. (William Perlman/NJ Advance Media )

SNY's Ralph Vacchiano on the challenge Todd Bowles faces going into his third season as Jets coach.

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Dec 17, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles coaches against the Miami Dolphins during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium.  (Brad Penner (USA Today))
Dec 17, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles coaches against the Miami Dolphins during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner (USA Today))

SNY's Ralph Vacchiano reports Jets players are happy coach Todd Bowles is returning for a third season.

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Dec 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles on the sideline during the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. (Kelley L Cox (USA Today))
Dec 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles on the sideline during the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. (Kelley L Cox (USA Today))

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV: 

Woody Johnson has been leaning toward keeping Todd Bowles all along, but there has always been one wild-card in the equation: how he'd react if the season turned into an absolutely embarrassment at the end.

Well, that pretty much happened with a string of blowout losses and an overtime win over a one-win team over the last month - a perfectly miserable storm that could push any owner over the edge. But as angry as the Jets owner likely is about that, the right move is still for him remain patient. And it now it's assured that's exactly what he'll do.

The Jets officially announced Sunday after the victory over the Bills that Bowles, the embattled Jets head coach, will return despite what's happened in this dismal season. Not everyone is safe, though, the source added. Bowles will likely be pushed to make changes on his coaching staff.

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Dec 22, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) throws against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half at Lincoln Financial Field. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
Dec 22, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) throws against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half at Lincoln Financial Field. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - It still wasn't that long ago when lightning struck the Giants twice, first in 2007 and again four years later. Two teams that struggled in the regular season, that nobody saw coming, put it all together when it mattered and emerged as Super Bowl champions.

Since that history is so relatively recent, and since one key player from those teams is still around, it's easy to see the similarities in this 2016 Giants squad. They might be 10-5, but they've struggled at times this season - especially on offense -- and no one around the league sees them as favorites to win it all.

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Vacc's 3 Keys: Redskins-Giants 00:02:32
SNY NFL insider Ralph Vacchiano believes the Giants must stop Kirk Cousins and the Redskins' passing game in order to win on Sunday.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

THE GAME: The Giants (10-5) at the Washington Redskins (8-6-1) at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. on Sunday, Jan. 1 at 4:25 p.m.

THE WEATHER: Temperatures could be near 50 during the day down near D.C., though likely in the upper 40s by kickoff and slowly falling throughout the game. No rain or wind, though.

Tags: Eli Apple, Eli Manning, Janoris Jenkins, Odell Beckham Jr., Paul Perkins, Ralph Vacchiano
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Vacc's 3 Keys: Bills-Jets 00:01:59
SNY NFL insider Ralph Vacchiano believes the Jets must contain LeSean McCoy and the Bills' running game in order to win on Sunday.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY:

THE GAME: The Buffalo Bills (7-8) at the Jets (4-11) at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J. on Sunday, Jan. 1 at 1 p.m.

THE WEATHER: Here's your bright side to this game: The weather probably won't be frightful, with sunny skies, temperatures in the mid-40s and light winds.

Tags: Bryce Petty, Darrelle Revis, Leonard Williams, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Sheldon Richardson, Ralph Vacchiano
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GEICO SportsNite: Eli Apple 00:01:21
Giants cornerback Eli Apple catches up with Ralph Vacchiano to preview the Giants' Week 17 matchup against the Washington Redskins.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Janoris "Jackrabbit" Jenkins said his injured back is feeling better and he's "not really" in pain anymore. But he won't say whether he's playing this week, whether he even wants to, or whether his bruised back would benefit for another week of rest.

"I'm not going to say yes or no," Jenkins said Thursday. "Just preparing on getting ready. Take this week as a game week as if I'm starting. Just going to continue to come out (and practice)."

Tags: Janoris Jenkins, Ralph Vacchiano
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Should Giants sit Beckham Jr.? 00:02:14
Marc Malusis and Jon Hein discuss whether or not Ben McAdoo should sit Odell Beckham Jr. in the Giants' season finale against the Redskins.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The last time Odell Beckham, Jr. faced off with his nemesis, Josh Norman, there was an early moment when things looked like they might get out of hand. In the corner of the end zone, Norman picked up Beckham and carried him several feet before dropping him to the ground in front of an official, who didn't throw a flag.

Everyone's eyes were suddenly on Beckham. But there was nothing to see.

Tags: Odell Beckham Jr., Ralph Vacchiano
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Eli Manning, right, has struggled at times this season. (Robert Deutsch)
Eli Manning, right, has struggled at times this season. (Robert Deutsch)

SNY's Ralph Vacchiano looks at the Giants offense, its struggles this season, and how the team is confident it will do better as the playoffs approach.

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 (Tim Heitman (USA Today))
(Tim Heitman (USA Today))

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY:

Victor Cruz was named the winner of the 16th annual George Young Good Guy Award, as voted on by the Giants' chapter of the Professional Football Writers of America.

Cruz is the first two-time winner in the history of the award, which was named for the late general manager of the Giants. It's given annually to honor a Giants player for his consistent and outstanding cooperation with the writers who cover the team on a daily basis.

Cruz, who also won the award in 2011, has long been one of the most accessible and cooperative players throughout his entire Giants career, no matter how difficult the circumstances. He became a media darling when he broke into the league with his sensational 2011, but he's never ducked reporters or questions, even as the topic turned to injuries and declining performance over the years.

Tags: Victor Cruz, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Ed Mulholland)
(Ed Mulholland)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Jason Pierre-Paul is "getting better" three weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia and a groin injury, according to Giants coach Ben McAdoo. But he's still not healthy enough to rejoin the Giants at practice.

And it appears any shot at a return to action for the defensive end is still several weeks away.

Tags: Jason Pierre-Paul, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Bill Kostroun/AP)
(Bill Kostroun/AP)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY:

It defies explanation and most common sense that the Jets drafted a quarterback in the second round and, in a season where they became desperate at the position, decided to never use him. 

Two of their four quarterbacks got hurt. Another got benched. And still, Christian Hackenberg spent the whole time on the sidelines.

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo coaches against the Baltimore Ravens during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner)
New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo coaches against the Baltimore Ravens during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Tom Coughlin's decision to go for it in the 2007 regular-season finale is a big part of his legend. Faced with a meaningless game against a Patriots team trying to complete the NFL's first 16-0 season, the Giants coach decided to risk it all to see if his team could prevent history. 

They couldn't, but Coughlin and the Giants earned the respect of everyone around football. And more importantly, the confidence they gained in defeat was the springboard to their own historic championship run.

Tags: Eli Manning, Justin Pugh, Odell Beckham Jr., Rashad Jennings, Victor Cruz, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Seth Wenig/AP)
(Seth Wenig/AP)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV:

The Giants are in the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Now all they need to know is who they're playing, when and where.

Heading into Week 17, there are four possibilities for the Giants. They will either play a first-round playoff game at Atlanta, Detroit, Green Bay, or Seattle. The Giants will be the No. 5 seed in the NFC, regardless of what happens in their regular-season finale in Washington on Sunday. And that means they will be on the road, on either Saturday, Jan. 7 or Sunday, Jan. 8, against the No. 4 seed -- or the lowest-seeded division winner in the NFC.

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Quarterback Eli Manning in the New York Giants huddle (Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports Images)
Quarterback Eli Manning in the New York Giants huddle (Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports Images)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV: 

As much as the New York Giants wanted to clinch their first playoff berth since 2011 on the field in Philadelphia on Thursday, they know it doesn't really matter how they get in - just as long as they get in. And they can still get in four different ways this weekend, before they even have to think about playing their finale in Washington on Jan. 1.

Tags: Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins, Ralph Vacchiano
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Odell Beckham reaches for a first down against the Eagles.  (USA Today)
Odell Beckham reaches for a first down against the Eagles. (USA Today)

What, you wanted the Giants to do the easy thing and just win so they can clinch their own playoff berth? Haven't you been paying attention this year?

"Hey, it wouldn't be us if it was easy," guard Justin Pugh said. "I wanted to clinch today. I wanted to enjoy my holidays and enjoy that with us going to the playoffs. Now, we have to rely on other teams to help us out. You never want that."

We've been through the scenarios of how it could - and likely will - still happen, so I'll skip over those and focus on the more worrisome thing: That the Giants didn't look much like a playoff-ready team in their 24-19 loss to the Eagles on Thursday night, and they're really not a good road team. And that's a bit of a problem since the playoffs are just two weeks away and the Giants won't be playing any games at home.

More on that in the coming weeks. For now, here's my five takeaways from the Philly game:

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GEICO SportsNite: OBJ on loss 00:00:48
Odell Beckham Jr. discusses the Giants' loss to the Eagles and what the team needs to improve on in order to make the playoffs.

At the beginning of my career, too many years ago, I was covering the Niagara Falls Rapids, then a short-season, Single A affiliate of baseball's Detroit Tigers. Larry Parrish was the manager at the time. And he was, to say the least, intense.

I still remember one otherwise forgettable game that ended in heart-breaking fashion somehow. The details of the game are blurry. But after the game, the media swarm (me and one other guy) approached Parrish in the dugout to ask him our usual questions. He then picked up a wooden bat and left.

We watched as he took what had to be a 10 minute walk down the foul line, then turned behind the outfield wall and disappeared. Moments later we heard the crashing sound of wood against metal and we watched the flagpole out in centerfield shake. Parrish spent a good 15 minutes hitting that pole with that bat over and over again before he returned, calm as could be.

That was out of frustration over an inconsequential, midseason, low-minor league baseball game that barely even mattered to the people involved. The stakes were much higher for Odell Beckham and the Giants in their 24-19 loss in Philadelphia on Thursday night. So really, in that context, the Giants' often-controversial star receiver maintained a lot of self-control after the Giants' blew their chance to clinch a playoff berth when all he did was leave the locker room to yell and growl and a garage door.

Tags: Odell Beckham Jr., Ralph Vacchiano
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Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills breaks up a pass intended for New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz at Lincoln Financial Field. (James Lang/USA Today Sports Images)
Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills breaks up a pass intended for New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz at Lincoln Financial Field. (James Lang/USA Today Sports Images)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV: 

PHILADELPHIA -- Odell Beckham Jr. has spent all season battling the officials, so he certainly wasn't surprised by what he saw on Thursday. Once again, there were a series of inexplicable penalty calls and non-calls, and the Giants were pretty sure it all went against them.

"We know what it is over here," Beckham said after the Giants' 24-19 loss to the Eagles. "We know what it's always going to be. We're not looking for any calls. We've just got to play through it. That's the bottom line."

Tags: Eli Apple, Eli Manning, John Jerry, Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon, Philadelphia Eagles, Sterling Shepard, Victor Cruz, Ralph Vacchiano
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