During a discussion Tuesday about the New York Giants wide receivers, Eli Manning and the Giants 2012 Super Bowl matchup with the New England Patriots, former Giants wide receiver and current NFL analyst Amani Toomer praised the team's offensive coordinator, Kevin Gilbride.
"I think he's great. Some of the stuff that he runs, the plays, the concepts that he came up with -- it's really unstoppable," Toomer said by phone Wednesday morning. "The problem is that you have to have a group of receivers that really not only understand what he's trying to do, but really can read defenses well. If they don't understand what's going on and they can't read what's going on really well then it looks disheveled.
"This young group of receivers, they have a thirst for knowledge and that thirst is what's making them a lot better because they understand what's going on. If you have guys that understand the system it's unstoppable."
Ah, yes. That young group of receivers, about which Toomer is as well qualified to analyze as anyone. So, Amani, is the Giants' trio of Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham the best group in the league?
"There's a lot of talented receivers in this game, and I would say the Giants receivers are up there," Toomer said. "Are they the most talented? Who's to really say?"
Toomer said that both Cruz and Nicks could be considered No. 1 receivers. Toomer said that is an advantage for the Giants, and is a situation Gilbride prefers.
"In his perfect world, the perfect team, he doesn't want a No. 1 . You have a No. 1 you can take away a No. 1," Toomer said. "If you look at the playoffs so far, that's what you see. You see them trying to take away Victor Cruz and then the other No. 1, Hakeem Nicks, comes through and has a huge monster playoff run."
Of course, without a great quarterback having great receivers is sort of pointless. Ask Larry Fitzgerald of Arizona about that, or Steve Smith in Carolina before Cam Newton showed up. The Giants, of course, have Eli Manning. Toomer's last few seasons with the Giants were spent catching passes from Manning, and Toomer talked about the growth in Manning since Toomer retired after the 2008 season.
"The difference is not in his decision-making. I think he always was a great decision-maker," Toomer said. "The difference comes in when he first came into the league he had problems with accuracy. He would sometimes have some bad throws, some throws would get away from him.
"We had to be acrobats, so we didn't get a chance for the run after the catch that these younger guys have now because of his accuracy."
Toomer follows the Giants, of course, but says he is a "fan of the organization" and not the team itself.
"I just like the way they go about doing their business," Toomer said. "No matter what happens, no matter how bad it gets you know at the end of the day the Giants are going to make the moves to get their team competitive. Every year I played if we stayed healthy we were always competitive.
You always know that maybe not one year or two years, but every about five years they'll cycle to the Super Bowl."
Toomer can be seen and heard these days in a number of places. He is on ESPN 1050 AM (ESPN New York) constantly, and makes occasional appearances on 'Mike & Mike in the Morning.' He does high school games on the MSG Varsity Network, and does work for NBC Sports Talk.
"I'm just really enjoying staying close to the game," Toomer said. "I just enjoy being around the whole fraternity of the NFL."
Toomer was made available to media by Timex, with which he has worked ever since he began training to run the 2010 New York City Marathon for charity. Toomer was promoting the company's GPS watch, which he used during marathon training and said is "like watching film for a football player" as it monitors heart rate and other performance indicators.