Archive for the ‘Coughlin’ Category

Giant Myths in 2007 and 2008

February 23, 2008

Let’s see if we can list some Giants (and NFL) myths and then quickly debunk them.

1) A Training Camp Holdout Works. Not. Most holdouts are disasters. Many end up in injury. In the case of Strahan, he was needed in Game 1 and was not able to help with impact until ~ Game 4-5. Show up at camp and if the coach has any clue he will not overwork a veteran who is 35 years old. And in the case of a contract holdout, the team loses, the player loses, and the free agent is generally the only winner because he shows toughness (for all the rest of his clients) and kills the player and the team in the process.

2) We were never winning a Super Bowl with Tiki Barber. Coughlin would not listen to Barber. The Maras (as a result, in my opinion) told Coughlin to change and listen to/communicate with his players better. If Barber had been playing this year with Spagnuolo doing his magic tricks and Manning throwing the ball better, who is to say what would have happened? I have stated before and will reiterate it here- Reese’s removal of the BIGGEST penalty offender in Luke Petitgout probably was the single largest addition by subtraction the Giants had. (and I never understood that until it happened.)

3) We were never winning a Super Bowl with Shockey. See previous posts for this myth getting rejected. To quote vanilla Eli Manning, that is a stupid theory.

4) The experts were wrong about (not predicting) the Giants success this year because they were ignorant of the facts. NOT! The Giants had two new coordinators, a new defensive system, a new Left Tackle, lack of depth at OL, no proven pass-catching out of the backfield, a mediocre QB who remained mediocre for the first 15 out of 16 games, a veteran holdout, a new FG kicker who could barely make (and missed many) extra points, a new LB playing out of position, and a secondary which our own GM was the first to admit was our most glaring weakness. Oh, and did I mention that we had a once-in-a-generation rookie draft class that no one, not even Jerry Reese could have predicted would make such an enormous impact? Excluding Washington W3, the Giants did not beat a team with a winning record until Tampa Bay in the Playoffs. Pierce can use the self-righteous indignation ‘us-against-the-world’ stuff (GREAT- it helped us win a title!), but until W16 Buffalo and W17 Patriots, this team was inconsistent, half-baked, and COUGHLIN HIMSELF ADMITTED HE HAD NOT SEEN A GAME ALL YEAR WHERE HIS OFFENSE, DEFENSE AND SPECIALS ALL PLAYED WELL ALL ON THE SAME DAY. That changed W17. Logically and rationally, W17 was the change when (not so coincidentally) Manning started playing great.

5) Gilbride’s ring proves he has the answers for us on offense. His playcalling was often unpredictable and therefore positive, but beyond that I see mismanagement of Shockey/Boss and Bradshaw, not to mention no help for Eli correcting mistakes which he repeated too many times until near season’s end. Not sold on him at all. Someone explain to me why we never ran outside in the Super Bowl? Can anyone justify RunRunRunKick vs Dallas at 9:27 left with a 4 point lead? This offense is better than Gilbride.

6) Coughlin can’t change and is not capable of winning the big one. The Giants ordered him to communicate better and listen to his players, he did and the rest is history. I thought he was a dead end, and I was dead wrong!

7) We can convert Kiwanuka into a good LB. Well, to be fair, this one has not been totally busted. Yet. Incomplete. When he handles Witten I will admit I am wrong on this. My mantra is very simple- You draft players in the first round to be an impact and you select players in rounds 3-7 to do the other work surrounding THEM. Asking a DE to go into coverage is okay once in a while to confuse a QB, not okay for every down assignment.

8) Eli Manning is too inconsistent and too inaccurate. Out of nowhere he busted us nattering nabobs of negativity. FREE PASS FOR LIFE.

9) The Giants can’t beat anyone with a winning record. Until they beat 4 of the best in the league, all in the playoffs, to win the Super Bowl!!!!

10) Now that the Giants are Super Bowl winners, their tougher schedule will be a large obstacle to them doing well. Ever since the league realigned into 8 divisions, there are only 2 games in each team’s schedule which get matched for strength of record from the previous season. For the Giants this means we play Minnesota and Carolina. THEY WENT 8-8 AND 7-9 THIS PAST YEAR. So the Pete Rozelle scheme of having the dregs play the dregs and the best playing the best has been diluted and it is Minnesota and Carolina that have to worry about the Giants, not the Giants worrying about them.

11) The Giants (a year) after the Super Bowl always get torched and this coming year we will get torched once again. Look at the circumstances… 1986 was followed by a strike year when Mara was naively last to the party to lock up replacements. 1990 was followed by the Parcells screw defection in May 1991 when we inherited a poor choice from Young in Ray Handley. Between Handley and Rod Rust, it sent the organization back about 20 years back into 1970’s Giants depression. 2000 was demonstrated to be a semi-fraud year where our 12-4 record was pumped up with the inflated steroids of a weak division which we whipped 7-1, while only going 5-3 vs everyone else. This was an above average year and Fassel could never handle any prosperity because the strength of schedule came back the next year to expose his team. Summarized- there is no strike in 2008, there is no coaching change in 2008, and there is no fraud since we whipped the best. The youth (improving) should give us more legs to have a very competitive year.

THE ROOKIES (Part II)

February 20, 2008

On February 2, a day before the Super Bowl, Ultimatenyg quickly ran through the rookies from the Draft Class of 2007, pinpointing them as a big reason the Giants were in the big game. With the Super Bowl in the record books, is there any doubt that the rookies were also a big reason the Giants WON the big game? They made an impact on the biggest stage of all.

Any credit given to the rookies has to start with the front office and Jerry Reese. All of the great successes in professional sports are due in part to the front office finding talent and getting the support players who allow those stars to excel. Men like Carmen Policy (blogger’s note- originally stated Eddie DeBartolo, the owner, my mistake), Bobby Beathard, Ron Wolf, George Young and the Rooneys are the lifelines for how these organizations can make championships possible not only once but again and again.

Ernie Accorsi set the table for Reese and Tom Coughlin by locking up a number of key players for a long time, simultaneously passing down a salary cap that was in very good shape. The Giants’ cap room is the best in the N.F.C. East and is in a very good position to keep Reese competitive with new signings where he deems fit.

Where Accorsi ended, Reese began. Reese was also the director of player personnel, so the result of the 2007 draft was going to fall squarely on his shoulders.

It was historic and seismic. Reese’s draft made him instant royalty. The first-year impact players became known as “Reese’s Pieces.” Super Bowl or not, Reese’s crop of kids made such a big splash that it was almost uncomfortable for him to accept such inordinate praise. He went out of his way to compliment the young group of players. He redirected accolades to the coaching staff for enabling the draft class to assist the team so positively and so quickly.

The new Giants were not all along for the ‘Parcells ride,’ where rookies are seen but not heard. With the exception of Adam Koets, every other rookie drafted (and even a few who were signed as UFAs) made significant contributions. This added up to a record number of rookies getting Super Bowl rings.

How do the Giants win if #1 pick Aaron Ross is not providing tremendous coverage all season? As soon as Ross started playing meaningful minutes, the defense tightened up. Everyone remembers the second half of the first Redskins game, but does everyone remember that that was the first time Ross stepped in to play corner? He was there knocking Marion Barber down with a separated shoulder. He was there to save the Jets game when the rest of the team was flat. He was not immune to getting beat, but he had mostly excellent coverage and could also be physical. Add that he played through multiple injuries, had Madison, Dockery, Webster and McQuarters rotating in and out with their injuries, and you can see how significant his efforts were in getting the team to a championship.

For a second pick, Steve Smith was almost all-world. If not for a midseason injury, he would have been putting up numbers all year. He caught four passes in the Super Bowl, none bigger than the play sandwiched between David Tyree’s helmet grab and Plaxico Burress’s game-winning TD. On 3rd and 11, Smith caught a pass in the right flat, came to a complete stop to avoid going out of bounds, ran another 3-4 yards up field for the first down, then went out of bounds to stop the clock. That kind of play would have been excellent for a seasoned veteran like Amani Toomer, but for a rookie who did not even play half the games this season, it was nothing short of spectacular. It will be overlooked in history, but Giants fans who appreciate the rookies will remember Smith’s grab and key first down as long as they remember the Super Bowl XLII win.

Jay Alford (#3) plays a tough position for any rookie, DL. But he was good enough to provide rotation relief among the veterans. And his entire career may already be remembered for the sack on 2nd down of the final series that buried Tom Brady and the Patriots’ chances.

Zak DeOssie (#4) put the finishing touches on the 1990 championship season’s analog by being the long snapper and impact special teams player for a Giants Super Bowl winner just like his father 17 years before. It was enough to bring Steve DeOssie to tears.

Kevin Boss (#5) filled in for injured TE Jeremy Shockey. His great hands made him an instant threat and kept defenses off balance as soon as he went into a route. The Boss catch-and-run for 45 yards at the beginning of Q4 of the Super Bowl ignited the offense and set up the first go-ahead score. Imagine a rookie doing what Welker, Moss, Burress and Toomer could not do! Boss’s chemistry with Eli Manning was so impressive that it forced others to question whether Shockey was already yesterday’s news. That conclusion is most likely unfounded, and the Giants are poised to reap many rewards from a two TE set with double threats.

Michael Johnson (#7a) filled in and started for the Giants when other safeties were hurt. He never lost his aggressiveness and was instrumental in the team’s drive to 6-2 earlier in the season. At one point he and undrafted rookie Craig Dahl were each patrolling the defense’s deep waters … a large responsibility that proved critical along the team’s path to a Super Bowl. Coughlin went out of his way to point out that it was Johnson who got the McQuarters nightmarish fumble vs. Green Bay knocked away so that Domenik Hixon (another great pickup by Reese) could recover the ball.

Ahmad Bradshaw (#7b), the last Giant pick, was taken only a few spots from the end of the draft. Bradshaw was featured early and often on ultimatenyg because his speed, cutbacks, quickness to the hole, north-south running, pass catching and ability to pound defenses was a total find. It took an injury by Brandon Jacobs (on top of Derrick Ward already being on IR) for Bradshaw to get up on the depth charts high enough to be seen. His impact on the team’s late-season and postseason drive was nothing short of stunning. In the second half of the Bills game W16, when everyone knew the Giants were running the ball, Bradshaw told his teammates during a timeout that if they made their blocks he would take it the distance. One snap and 88 yards later, he helped sew up the team’s playoff berth. The accolades he received from competitors was a reminder that Bradshaw can be special for quite some time if he remains healthy. His only weakness was a lack of experience and knowledge in how to pick up the blitz. This may get squared away in 2008’s training camp, affording him the opportunity to be the starting RB. He is that good.

The Giants made a very special run to collect their third Super Bowl title. It is next to impossible to envision how this could have happened without the major contributions delivered by this fine rookie class. As a group, they exhibited maturity and experience beyond their years. The draft of 2007 can be the backbone for many playoff runs to come.

2nd Annual Ultimatenyg Awards

February 19, 2008

1) Offensive Player of the Year — Plaxico Burress
2) Defensive Player of the Year — Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck
3) Crippling injury of the Year — Mathias Kiwanuka
4) Coach of the Year — Steve Spagnuolo.
5) Play of the Year — Manning to Tyree. Catch 42. The Helmet. The Play.
6) Most Improved Player Award — Corey Webster, Eli Manning
7) Rookie of the Year — Ahmad Bradshaw
8) Disappointment of the Year — Sinorice Moss
9) Ugly Play of the Year — Moss Bomb TD in W17
10) The Please Cut Him Already Award — James Butler
11) Honorable Mention Award — Madison Hedgecock
12) Official “Bust” Tag Declaration Award — William Joseph
13) The “On-Deck” Bust Tag Award — Sinorice Moss
14) Special Teams Player of the Year Award — Domenik Hixon
15) Stupid Penalty of the Year Award — Sam Madison Personal Foul at GB
16) Decision of the Year Award — Coughlin playing to win in W17 vs NE
17) Inflection Point of the Year Award — Giants’ Defensive Stop of Redskins on 4th and 1 in W3
18) Best Game of the Year — Super Bowl vs New England
19) Worst Game of the Year — Minnesota
20) Prominent Player Most Likely NOT to be on the roster next year— Gibril Wilson ($)
21) Comeback Player of the Year Award — Amani Toomer off ACL surgery

The Crucible of the NFC East

February 18, 2008

Ray Rhodes, Andy Reid, Norv Turner, Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier, Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, Dave Campo, Vince Tobin, Dave McGinnis and… Bill Parcells.

This a list of the coaches the Giants faced in the NFC East in Jim Fassel’s tenure from 1997-2003. See a pattern? Other than Reid and Parcells, it was an endless parade of misses. Wasn’t this a great thing for the Giants? One would think so, but on further inspection it is survival of the unfit. The lack of strong and consistent competition within the NFC East set back our franchise, and the rest of the NFC East along with it.

Fassel floated from year to year. It was annoying to find that the Giants could not handle any prosperity. Under Fassel, as soon as the playoffs were attained, the schedule got harder and the team took on water. The Giants were unable to have two consecutive years in a row of winning records. How could it be that Fassel could lead the gmen to the playoffs three times in those seven years and be so far away from a championship?

Year 1997 Record 10-5-1 Division Record 7-0-1 Non-Division 3-5
Year 1998 Record 8-8 Division Record 5-3 Non-Division Record 3-5
Year 1999 Record 7-9 Division Record 3-5 Non-Division Record 4-4
Year 2000 Record 12-4 Division Record 7-1 Non-Division Record 5-3
Year 2001 Record 7-9 Division Record 4-4 Non-Division Record 3-5
Year 2002 Record 10-6 Division Record 5-1 Non-Division Record 5-5

Note how the Divisional Record vs the weak NFC East was 31-14-1 during this time and the Record vs the rest of the NFL was a mediocre 23-27.

and then the wheels came off:
Year 2003 Record 4-12 Division Record 1-5 Non-Division Record 3-7

Coughlin this year before the Super Bowl:
Year 2007 Record 10-6 Division Record 3-3 Non-Division Record 7-3

For six years from ’97 thru ’02, the NFC East covered up a multitude of NY Giants sins. When Parcells joined the NFC East in ’03 combined with Reid (and the weakling Cardinals no longer in the division), the team crumbled like a house of cards. Coughlin inherited an NFC East division that was was no longer a doormat. Despite Snyder’s attempts to make the Redskins an easy mark, Joe Gibbs was at least going to force you to earn your way. During this period, Reid’s Eagles had a near miss at a Super Bowl win, and Phillips inherited a Dallas team strong in personnel. In 2007 the Cowboys were 13-3, the Giants were 10-6, the Redskins were 9-7 and the Eagles were 8-8. The result was a 3-3 record this year vs a division which did not have a single losing team.

There is a very big difference between divisional games and non-divisional games. Your divisional opponents know you and all of your tricks. The games become much more about who can be physical and who can execute. Add a division that is strong from top to bottom and your divisional games become an even greater test. So it is that the divisional playoff game between the Giants and Cowboys took on so much more meaning. By many accounts, the Dallas Cowboys and NY Giants were the two most physical teams in the NFL. The Dallas offensive line was dominant. I will go as far to say that the single biggest moment in the entire playoffs was in Q3 versus Dallas when Flozell Adams went down. Before that time, the Dallas Cowboys were not allowing the Giants to get pressure on Romo and a win was not happening. After that moment, Umenyiora was able to handle Adams and the floodgates opened.

That which does not kill you makes you stronger. The Giants were well served by the trials in the NFC East. Conversely, perhaps those doormats of the Bills, Jets and Dolphins in the AFC East did not help the Patriots as much as one would have thought. When you consider that the ’86 Giants had the soon to be ’87 Super Bowl Skins to fight with, how the ’90 Giants had the soon to be ’91 Super Bowl Skins to fight with (not to mention the Eagles, who stopped our undefeated season), and how the ’07 Giants had two other NFC East playoff teams to contend with, it becomes readily apparent that a strong NFC East is in the best interest of the Giants in order to win championships.

Odds and Ends

February 7, 2008

1. Pats gave up 21 sacks during reg season, gave up 5 vs gmen in Super Bowl, the most of any game this year.
2. Season Low 14 pts of offense for Brady and Co.
3. NFL Total Access had Super Bowl XXV won by the Giants as the #1 Super Bowl of all time… where do they put Super Bowl XLII??? I know the game did not end on the Burress TD, but considering the Manning to Tyree, the 18-0 Pats, the most lead changes in Q4 of ANY Super Bowl, this one may have to eclipse it. I know it does for me.
4. All three Giants Super Bowl victories occurred with us trailing at halftime. (The fact that we are 3-1 in Super Bowls and were trailing in all 4 reminds me of Super Bowl XXXV, which I would rather forget.)
5. Let’s acknowledge that Barber’s exit was probably one of the reasons for Coughlin getting grief from Giants Mananagement about poor communication with players, followed by orders to start listening more to his players. And let’s go one step further and realize that Coughlin’s success in this area is a big reason why players ‘bought in’ and played so hard for him. So Tiki was a positive force for change, and might very well be indirectly responsible for some this year’s success.
6. Heard a few quotes: ‘Eli the Mann, Brady the Lady’ and ’18 Wins 1 GIANT LOSS”
7. Olivia Manning after Peyton was MVP of Super Bowl XLI: “Maybe next year it will be Eli’s turn.” Only a mother could say that. The rest of the football world laughed, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US! Mom was right. You cannot make this stuff up!
8. Speaking of Super Bowl Parents, Steve DeOssie met up with son Zak after the game and wept. 1990 ANALOG LIVES!!!
7. Giants fans parade serenade for #92: “One more year!” … for Spags: “Redskins suck!”
8. The Giants won the last 3 games by 4, 3 (OT) and 3 points. Had it all the way!

From Dr. Rob at the game:
9. Brady had open receivers all day, but the pass rush would not allow him to find most of them.
10. Webster and Ross still had pretty decent coverage but Brady was inaccurate.
11. On ‘The Helmet,’ Manning set his feet and threw a very good pass as a result- HE TOOK THE HIT! (ultimatenyg note- Old Eli throws this one off his back feet and does NOT take the hit.)
12. Manning has consistently been throwing when there are 8 men in the box and running when there are 7. (Kind of reminds me of the sound fundamentals of Tim Duncan, who is shooting with single and passing with double.)
13. On the Tyree TD, at least 2 or 3 players are frozen on play-action and that enables Manning to stick it in vs single coverage.
14. On the Smith muff that gets picked off by Hobbs, Ahmad Bradshaw saves a TD because w/o him riding the player out of bounds he has 90 yards of daylight. This is where u have to be at the stadium, because all we see is two slow linemen trying to take the angle.

Super Bowl quick takeaways

February 2, 2008

A list of reasons for why the Giants will lose the Super Bowl:

1) The Patriots offense is as good as the ’99 Rams, maybe better.
2) Tom Brady is one of the best QBs of our generation.
3) Bill Belichick is one of the best coaches of our generation.
4) The Patriots have too many ways to win a ball game.
5) Umenyiora and Burress- talk is cheap.
6) A Pats win means the ’72 Dolphins crybabies can finally go away.
7) Is Coughlin/Gilbride ready for primetime?

A list of reasons for why the Giants will win the Super Bowl:

1) The Giants played NE already and know what it will take to win.
2) Toomer and Strahan: The Giants are here to win the game.
3) You cannot plan a ring. Seau and Barber both get denied.
4) The road warriors are on the road.
5) Confidence.
6) 18-0. The bigger they are the harder they fall.
7) The Patriots defense is the chink in the armor.
8) This team is resilient. Bruschi on the gmen: “…incredible mental toughness.”
9) 1990 analog.

Analysis of Super Bowl XLII

January 30, 2008

There are going to be many battles within this war on Sunday night.

WHEN THE GIANTS HAVE THE BALL:
1) Burress vs Samuel/Hobbs. There are two reasons why Plax opened his mouth with “23-17.” One is because he has S*** for brains. The second is that he is genuinely pumped to be in this game and feeling about as well as he has felt in a long time. He has a 7″ height advantage on these guys, played well against them before and he clearly has an.. EDGE NYG.
2) Steve Smith vs Randall Gay. I would normally say Gay has the advantage, but Smith is getting better every game and one would think he will make plays.
3) Giant OL vs Patriots DL. Wilfork is very important to this team, but the Giants have demonstrated time and again the ability to control the line of scrimmage. Pickup of Vrabel on the blitz is imperative… this is how they get to the passer. EDGE NYG.
4) Jacobs/Bradshaw vs Seau/Bruschi/Vrabel. Ability vs Experience. Jacobs has shown a tendency to fumble the ball after a layoff.. please protect the ball. Bradshaw’s speed is a HUGE advantage over this aging group of experienced veterans if the Giants are smart enough to leverage it often. EDGE NYG.
5)Manning vs Belichick. Belichick is smart and will not let Manning sit back there with time. He will mix up coverages a lot more than the Packers did, and do his best to confuse and fluster Eli. The old Eli would not be up to the task. The new Eli has shown he is because Gilbride has smartly mixed up playcalling (when they are not ahead in Q4) and made the game shorter so that Manning is not back there so long that he can have that turnover. Manning does best with LESS time and MORE reflex. He is best when he has to throw to a spot before the WR is there. I see no reason why Gilbride will change this- it is a quicker game and Manning does best in it. The edge will go to Belichick in deference to his myriad # of SB successes, but Manning can control this outcome if he keeps doing what has gotten him here. EDGE PATS.
6) Giants offense vs Patriots defense summary- Bradshaw and Burress have the distinct advantage that must be leveraged. If the running game gets on track, then Manning’s play action becomes lethal too. EDGE NYG.

WHEN THE PATRIOTS HAVE THE BALL:
1) Moss vs Webster/double team- Any need for discussion? The Giants need to be physical and force him inside. Webster has improved but this is in need of help(doubling) and that means EDGE PATS.
2) Welker vs Ross- The Giants must be very physical here and do the 1991 Super Bowl ‘Andre Reed redux’ by kicking the living snot out of this player. He lives near the line of scrimmage on short stuff, so you have to pound him and disrupt the timing. Welker likes coming back to the ball (as all good WRs must do), and then he curls around to break the first defender’s tackle. It was really helpful that the Giants saw this guy already, because they know all about how he kills teams. EDGE PATS.
3) Pats OL vs Giants DL- Earth to Osi Umenyiora, Earth to Osi Umenyiora, come in please?!!! It is time for us to see Umenyiora make an impact. I know he is getting doubled, but he often gets singled too by Light, so GET TO BRADY please and cause havoc. This is the most pivotal matchup of the game. When Flozell Adams buckled in Q3 of the Dallas game, the Giants went from needing a miracle to win to getting that miracle and winning. Good pitching beats good hitting, good OLs beat good DLs. Strahan is going to play the game of his life. Will Umenyiora? I think not. The only hope for the Giants is Tuck on mismatches with a Guard. EDGE PATS.
4) Maroney/Faulk vs Pierce/Mitchell/Torbor. Maroney was held in check, but Faulk never is. Faulk must be blanketed or else he will kill you on those 3rd down conversions. EDGE PATS.
5) Brady vs Spagnuolo. Thank goodness for Spags. Otherwise this would not even be a contest and I would not be wasting my time typing this entire analysis. Brady is there with Montana and the great ones of all time. Spags and this Giant defense have seen Brady-Garcia-Romo-Favre the past 4 games, so the good news for the Giants is that they are not getting a shock to the system. Spags will put as much pressure on Brady as possible and Brady will still win. EDGE PATS.
6) Patriots offense vs Giants defense summary- The trick to beating the Patriots is to bend but not break here. They are going to score points. They just cannot score 35-40 points. EDGE PATS.

SPECIAL TEAMS:
Tynes benefited greatly from making that big 47 yarder. Confidence is everything. Hixon and the kickoff unit put a great deal of pressure on the opposing team and they just get better and better every game. EDGE NYG.

COACHING:
Edge Belichick, EDGE PATS.

GAME SUMMARY:
Objectively speaking, the edge that the Giants offense has over the Patriots defense is not as great as the edge of the Patriots offense over the Giants defense. Specials will give the Giants a shorter field than the Patriots, but will that be enough? My two keys to the game are: 1) GILBRIDE MUST ATTACK EARLY AND OFTEN AND KEEP PUTTING PRESSURE ON THE PATRIOTS DEFENSE FOR 60 MINUTES.. NOT FOR ONLY 50:33 .. NOT THE LETUP WE SAW IN W17 WHEN WE HAD A LEAD. 2) UMENYIORA MUST GET TO BRADY. I will go out on a limb and say that if either of these two things happen the Giants will win the game. I do not think that that happens because I have seen Umenyiora mostly quiet vs the better Offensive Tackles these past 4 games, and I have not seen Gilbride use Bradshaw as much as he needs to and use the offense in the 4th quarter (unless they are behind).

It is there for the taking for the Giants. How badly do they want it? No one gives you anything. Championships are won, championships are not not lost. There is an opening here for the Giants to be physical and win, but everything must go right. You must be bold and not be afraid to lose. I have my doubts about what the playcalling will be like in Q4. We know that if you fall behind vs the Patriots it is going to be hard to win, so what if the Giants actually have a lead in Q4? Do you want a 3-4 pt lead vs Brady in Q4 and have Gilbride put the brakes on and think that R-R-P-K is going to win you a Super Bowl? He needs to understand that the only way you are going to deny Brady a chance to win is with you running out the clock, and that means keeping up the attack offense, getting first downs and keeping the ball until the game is OVER. How much respect do you have for Mr. Brady, Mr. Gilbride? No lead is safe, and if the Giants did not understand that from playing him already, then we deserve to lose. But if the Giants are able to realize that the best defense vs Brady is an offense that stays on the field ALL the time, then we do have a very realistic chance.

Bill Belichick gets it

January 27, 2008

From Today’s NY POST: “Patriots coach Bill Belichick mentioned rookie RB Ahmad Bradshaw as a key player to stop, which is quite remarkable considering Bradshaw barely played at all until the 15th game of the season.”
This blog has had a fairly consistent message for a number of weeks now- (1) get the ball to Bradshaw as much as possible, and (2) get him on the field because he stretches defenses and enables THE GIANTS to dictate the terms of engagement. In August, despite a sloppy preseason, we spotted something to get excited about- a rookie named Ahmad Bradshaw. He fumbled in W2 on a kickoff and was sent to the doghouse. He came back in W16 versus the Bills when Jacobs was hurt, and the team has not been the same since. His minutes have risen. TOO SLOWLY. Gilbride, the great misuser of talent, is waiting for years from now to use him? If Jacobs did not get hurt we would not even know if Bradshaw existed! (He was not even dressed for a number of games in midseason.)

THE FUTURE IS NOW! Next season this budding star RB could tear his ACL and his career is over, a footnote in Giants history, a trivia question in the back of a sports almanac. WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP NOW WITH BRADSHAW.

BUCK AND AIKMAN ASKED ALOUD FOR THE WORLD TO HEAR IN H2 OF THE PACKER NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME- WHY ARE THE GIANTS NOT GIVING MORE TIME TO BRADSHAW?

AND NOW WE HAVE BILL BELICHICK SAYING THAT BRADSHAW IS A “KEY PLAYER TO STOP.”

The Giants understand that you need to pitch a perfect game to beat the Patriots. The Giants have that perfect game, and it means maximizing your talents and playing Bradshaw as much as possible. This means playing Jacobs too, but it means 20+ touches for Bradshaw. Even when Bradshaw is on the field and not getting the ball, he is doing his work, pressing the Patriot defense to cover much more of the field due to his threat. BILL BELICHICK GETS IT. WHY DOESN’T COUGHLIN AND GILBRIDE?

Keep it simple- dictate the terms and win the game by playing Bradshaw.

1986 1990 2000 Championship Highlights

January 27, 2008

1986 NFC Championship Video

1990 NFC Championship Video

2000 NFC Championship Video

1986 Super Bowl XXI Highlights

1990 Super Bowl XXV Highlights

Shockey and Barber

January 26, 2008

Addition by subtraction, so the theory goes. Utter horsebleep. Pundits like Mike Vaccaro would have you believe that since these two Pro Bowlers went away due to retirement/injury, that the fact that the Giants are in the Super Bowl is damning evidence of how these guys were not really helping the team win. Ridiculous assertion. Sometimes you have to wonder how they can come to such conclusions.

I was quick to take a slap at Barber at the end of preseason (see Point #4 in link) when the former Giant took shots at the Giants. As a professional, he should have moved on and become more objective. Instead he got s’d into the role of former locker room news source. Too bad for him and too bad for the Giants. The fact that his contributions to the team have to be defended here is simply because of the misinformation being put out by guys like Vaccaro who fabricate a day’s work off of the scantest evidence. What facts does Vaccaro use to support his conclusion? You got me! Read the article yourself, linked above. He says the record speaks for itself. He quotes three people, two of which are not saying anything at all about these players and the third who is merely giving an obvious report about the unity of the team. There is not one solid piece of concrete fact that demonstrates his conclusion.

I will do the opposite and list some points that perhaps can dispel this myth before it becomes accepted as reality:
1) Before the season began, I listed 7 questions the Giants were facing. Specifically NOT mentioned was the loss of Barber in the running game. The only thing mentioned was how the Giants running backs would do in pass-catching responsibilities. How could the loss of a 1500 yard Pro Bowl runner not be a question?… the answer was easy… the GIANTS WERE LOADED AT RUNNING BACK. In fact, in preseason I pointed out that the Giants had more depth at RB than I had seen in many years. And coincidentally, while everyone was bellyaching about the trade Reese made, giving up Ryan Grant for a 6th rounder, this blog has been putting out the word on the talents of Ahmad Bradshaw. DOESN’T REESE’S MOVE TO TRADE A PRACTICE SQUAD RB FOR A 6TH ROUND PICK OFFER AS EVIDENCE THAT THE GIANTS WERE NOT GOING TO SUFFER A LOSS FROM BARBER’S RUNNING PRODUCTION? That having Jacobs, Ward, Droughns and Bradshaw was going to fill the void? OF COURSE IT DID!
2) Evidence? 2006 Pro Bowl year by Tiki Barber. Giants get 134.8 yards per game in the rushing department. 2007 Jacobs and Ward carry the load. Giants get 134.2 yards per game in the rushing department. OTHER PLAYERS WITH TALENT STEPPED UP. The results were nearly IDENTICAL.
3) More evidence? ALL FIVE STARTERS ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE WERE HEALTHY THIS YEAR AND STARTED ALL SIXTEEN GAMES. With the exception of O’Hara missing the Tampa Bay playoff game, these 5 starters have started 5×19=95 -1 O’Hara miss = 94 starts out of 95 max! That is tremendous support for the team and tremendous support for the running game in 2007. This unit’s continuity continues to pay huge dividends for the team, so to insinuate that the loss of a RB is why the team might be doing better now than then does not fit with the other contributions taking place.
4) Speaking of the Offensive Line, if you want to compare 2006 to 2007 and wonder aloud about maybe where the REAL explanation is for success, perhaps it was REESE CUTTING LUKE PETITGOUT. I will be fair here and point out that I was surprised and confused by the move when it first happened. I was concerned about the loss of depth that move created, as it forced Diehl over to LT and now we no longer had the luxury of Seubert as a 6th man. Indeed, Diehl has been the weakest link to the line in moving over to the difficult position at LT, giving up the most sacks of anyone on the line. But in perhaps THE BIGGEST ADDITION BY SUBTRACTION, the GIANTS LOST THE MYRIAD NUMBER OF PENALTIES CAUSED BY THEIR LEADING OFFENDER, LUKE PETITGOUT! In 2006 the Giants were 11th in the NFL, with 101 penalties, ~6.5 per game. In 2007 the Giants were 27th in the NFL, with 77 penalties, less than 5 per game. THAT IS HUGE. 1.5 penalties EVERY GAME. That is Luke Petitgout no longer being with the team. Penalties KILL offensive drives. That is 1 or 2 less drives per game being killed. And at 27th in the league, it speaks to how the team has been extremely competitive in this area and putting itself in better positions to win.
5) Bill Belichick commented about the NY GIANTS a few days ago (video linked). His FIRST item mentioned for recent improvement in the team?… SPECIAL TEAMS, where he pointed out how in all three of the playoff games the Giants outplayed their opponent. Special teams field position was probably the single most important reason why the Giants beat the Cowboys. We march down the field to score at the end of H1 because of a good kickoff. Without special teams, the Giants could easily be watching the rest of the playoffs instead of playing in them, but Vaccaro would have you believe it is the absence of Barber and Shockey?
6) And what about Eli Manning? If there is one statistic that could be damning of Shockey, it is that Manning got a lot better after Shockey went down. But to draw that conclusion, it would be to ignore other much larger facts already discussed in previous blog entries (two of which are linked). Did Manning’s copious use of the pump fake during the Tampa Bay playoff game 3 weeks ago having anything to do with Shockey not being there? If anything, it would have helped Shockey AS WELL, giving that large TE more space and more of a target for Eli. Maybe some of this ascendency of Eli has more to do with finally getting a healthy 3rd quality WR in Steve Smith back, coincidentally right when Shockey WENT DOWN?!!!! Maybe it had to do with Plaxico Burress playing a lot better, having huge games versus the Patriots and the Packers. Was Shockey responsible for the 3 INTs and 5 fumbles in Buffalo by Eli? He was not even in that game!
7) Could this late season surge maybe be the HELP from Barber?!! Yes, it was Barber who bitched and complained about how late in the season players were fatigued. They had no legs left for the games because they were getting worn down by Colonel Coughlin’s relentless practices. The players were no longer fresh, and the 2005 and 2006 swoons were probably a direct result of this. Coughlin would not listen to Barber. But the Giants administration did- they told Coughlin to start listening to the players, and he reluctantly changed to save his job and created his ‘leadership council.’ One of the things that council of players has told Coughlin about is going a little easier in late season practices to save the players’ energy for the games on Sunday. Plaxico Burress SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED THIS when asked about the change in his head coach (video 1:20 time). Do you think that losing Barber and Shockey made this team the road warriors? Well, HAHA, maybe Vaccaro is right for the wrong reason- that Barber LEFT because he got tired of not being listened to by Coughlin, but that IN TURN forced changes to make the Giants a better organization… one which could now be competitive in December and January. So maybe we ought to THANK Tiki Barber for putting us on this road.
8) The best for last- rookie Ahmad Bradshaw…. could it possibly be that THE REAL CAUSE AND EFFECT was not Shockey going out in W15 vs the Skins, but W16 with Jacobs going out and Ward already on IR??? THAT, my blog friends, is when this offense really took off, when Bradshaw carried the second half offense in the winds of Buffalo when it could no longer throw a SINGLE PASS!

Maybe what we need to respect is the FACT that Football is an extremely complicated game with so many moving parts that it is impossible to assign differences in play to one or two variables. This blog could write a novella on the changes that have transformed this team. So to the Vaccaros of the world who want to take a quick and easy one at these Pro Bowl guys, either start giving us concrete facts or please stop with the wild throwing of paint on the wall and seeing what the public wants to see stick.