Archive for the ‘Jim Fassel’ Category

Tennessee 32 Giants 29

July 5, 2009

2002 was an extremely important year for the Giants and for me personally as a fan. 2002 was, from this NY Giants blogger’s perspective, the year which had the best Giants offense I have ever seen. 2008’s offense could have possibly eclipsed it, but when Burress went down the wheels came off, so 2002 still holds.

2002 had the juggernaut. Amani Toomer was simply fantastic that year. He was the Giants’ #1 WR, and wow could he do it all. He had the speed, the moves, the Toomer toe, in his prime, a Pro Bowl WR for the Giants in everything but name. There was one play that sticks out. The Giants are playing the Colts in Indianapolis, and the first play from scrimmage in Q3 is a flea flicker to Toomer, a bomb of bombs, Collins threw that ball a country mile and Toomer executed perfectly to make it a TD. Collins threw for 4000 yards that season. Tiki Barber ran for 1400 on the ground. Hilliard. And they had a rookie Pro Bowl TE named Jeremy Shockey. That offense could do ANYTHING it wanted. And it only got better as the season went on.

Steve McNair passed away yesterday. The Giants were 6-5 in 2002, playing against the Titans and an injured QB named Steve McNair. Fassel’s offensive juggernaut scored oodles that day, it could have scored a lot more. With the Giants leading 20-14 in Q3 they proceed to march down the field and score a TD. We’ve just entered Q4, there are 14 minutes left in the game. Your team is up 26-14. There is NOTHING TO DISCUSS.

RULE #6: Repeat after me, Do not go for the 2 pt. conversion until there are 6 minutes left in the game. If there are more than 8 minutes left in the game, it is a 99% certainty that it was the wrong decision.

Fassel goes for 2 and the conversion fails. Giants still up by 12. Tenn and McNair score. 26-21. The Giants juggernaut 2002 proceeds to march right down the field and gets hung up at 1 yard line. No problem, the game is winding down, we’ll kick a FG and ice the game. Except now we are up 5 instead of 6. And 5+3 makes 8 (29-21), enough for Tennessee to come back down the field (there was a little Fassel Prevent Defense here and/or in the prev Tenn drive, if memory serves), score the TD, and have McNair get the 2 pt conversion. And the Giants lose in OT. Last night Eddie George remembered the life of Steve McNair and he remembered two games which McNair led his team back to victory. This game was one of them. Funny how everyone remembers things differently.

You cannot give the good players and the good teams too many opportunities. It’ll come back to bite you. The prevent works vs bad teams because they cannot execute well enough. Steve McNair, injured body and all, was a good player on a good team, and you cannot disrespect them for one moment. (The following year, McNair would be League MVP, an honor only one NYG has ever held in the modern Super Bowl era.) McNair put on a clinic, capitalizing on a ray of light left by the Giants.

It is somewhat stunning to hear of the loss of such a huge NFL warrior. Did you note how Eddie George also talked about the pain that McNair played through? McNair did not practice the week leading up to the game with the Giants. Too much pain. As fans we do not appreciate or understand the threshold of pain these men have and what they will do to play. This is such a violent sport. 250 lb. and 300 lb. missiles being thrown at you game after game, year after year. The violence seems to follow into players’ personal lives… Stallworth, Burress, McNair. Sad.

After all of the stories of his career, the NFL MVP, the Pro Bowls, the Super Bowl loss at the 1 yard line, to die at 36 from a gunshot. Whether it was murder or murder suicide, it is a terrible loss.

Separately, how ironic is it that JUST DAYS AGO the NFL held its rookie symposium to warn and educate its recently drafted players of the traps and minefields awaiting them? I hope these new members of the NFL realize that class is still in session.

Arnie V’s perspective

January 13, 2009

The email, phone calls and comments keep pouring in. And I can tell you, it ain’t pretty. Everyone needs a Giants grief counselor right now, including yours truly.

Here is one from Arnie V., a diehard Giants fan for 7 decades. Arnie was interviewed by the blog a while back, and I felt it appropriate that his perspective be shared with the ultimatenyg giants blog.

In trying to get over the frustration of yesterday’s game, I thought that I would take the long view of Giant disappointments. I have been a Giant fan since 1940, and we have only won 4 championships in those 68 seasons (1956, 1986, 1990 and 2007). Before the Super Bowl in that span, the Giants lost 8 Championship Games (1941, 1944, 1946, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962 and 1963). They therefore were 1 and 8 in that era in playoff games.

Since the Super Bowl started in the 1960s, the Giants have been in the playoffs by my count 14 years (1981, 84, 85, 86, 89, 90, 93, 96, 2000, 02, 05, 06, 07 and 08), with a record of 16 and 11. However, 10 of those wins were in the 3 Super Bowl Championship years. They therefore lost their last game 11 years out of the 14. Some of those losses were very painful:
1989- The Flipper Anderson TD to end OT
1993- The 44-3 loss in SF, which was LT and Simms’ last game
1997- Blew the game to Minn. at the very end
2000- Terrible loss to Baltimore in the Super Bowl
2002- The 39-38 loss in SF, maybe the worst of all
2005- Blowout loss to Carolina
2006- Close loss to the Eagles by a late FG
2008- Giants were the better team and should have beaten the Eagles yesterday

With this summary, you have to conclude that being a Giant fan will most times result in end of season frustration and disappointment. That is why you have to particularly savor the winning seasons like 2007. Lets hope another one comes along sooner than the 17 years between 1990 and 2007.

We all are smart enough to know that you cherish the wins. I think the thing that is most painful about this loss is that we beat ourselves A LOT MORE than the Eagles beat us. You cannot take away anything from the Eagles. But you have to accept the fact that the Giants let one get away. The Flipper Anderson game for me was cured only by the 1990 championship. The SF 39-38 loss was cured by the 2007 SB XLII title. Call me a poor sport, call me in grief ‘denial,’ but it is going to take more than time for me to close this chapter. Right now I would settle for Gilbrown being booted. That is not happening, for the same reason that Fassel stayed and Fox went. The Giants love that loyalty. I love that thing called championships. This New York Giants Blog is about championships, and when you do not close on a year like this, it is a sin far greater than Detroit 0-16. I never ‘accepted’ the Flipper Anderson result. Neither did Parcells or his players. That gave them plenty of hunger to climb back for a title. Maybe that is what this team needs right now- to not “accept” the outcome in the sense of rededicating themselves to not wasting their opportunities this coming season and to remember the feeling right now as a motivating factor for next year.

Yes, I saw the interview by Michael Strahan of Earth, Wind and Fire on the Fox pregame. And when Bradshaw answered truthfully (with a coy smile) that he did not want BOTH Jacobs AND Ward back, I had a coy smile too. Bradshaw may or may not be the answer next season, but at least we are going to TRY and FIND OUT, which is a lot more than our friend Gilbrown did THIS season.


January 3, 2009

O’Hara: This team knows how to step it up when it is time to do so. Get something out of the rest, practice in pads next week to get faster to be ready for the game. Key to spags is that he is not afraid to blitz, and his players love that because it means that he trusts them, and they want to reward that trust.

Fassel: Definitely interested in HC job. Ravens will win, bad matchup for dolphins. Nothing good to say about tarvaris jackson. Peyton manning very special, sd could have played ind in conf championship if brackets broke differently, that is how good these 2 teams can be.

simms: AZ, SD, MINN

Giants had 13 turnovers, a record low for 16 games. 1 was from Jacobs (the hurdle at PHL) and 12 were from Manning (10 INTs and 2 lost fumbles). Amazing stat. If the Giants can somehow keep protecting the ball the way they have, it may be exactly what is necessary to put them over the top.

Latest Spags is Denver, Lions, Browns and Jets. No one will know anything significant until some/other teams start dropping out of the picture by announcing they are hiring someone else. Word is that Spags is #1 on the Jets list. And word is also that Shanahan is not preferred either. Shanahan has gone on vacation for 2 weeks to get some perspective before he sets out to determine what he wants to do. Richard Neer (WFAN) makes a good point.. why is WOODY JOHNSON out of the country? We should be reminded that the Maras and Tisches were certainly involved in the Giant’s coaching selection, interviewing candidates etc.

BEWARE OF CONSENSUS. The consensus geniuses like the Colts, Ravens and Eagles. If all of them (and the world) were right, Las Vegas would be dead. To quote a local who lives off the Strip, “this town wasn’t built on winners.” Take the Chargers, Dolphins and Vikings. You will be correct on a minimum of two out of three. Why? Because betting is not this easy. And the easy thing to do is take the Colts, Ravens and Eagles. Nothing in life is free. You can argue that there is a point spread too, but in one of the games there isn’t and the other two they would take them anyway, FG or no FG. Bottomline is there is such strong consensus that it should wake us up to the fact that the other team is ‘live.’

Jason Sehorn- 10th Anniversary of a New York GIANT loss

August 23, 2008

Where were you when the lights went out? Today is the 10th anniversary of the Giants-Jets preseason game when the lights went out on the Giants for years to come. It may have very well been one of the worst days for me as a Giants fan, period. Right there with Flipper Anderson and a few other spectacularly low bunge jumps.

Of course I refer to the fateful kickoff return of Jason Sehorn in the 1998 Giants-Jets preseason game.

After the game was over the lockerroom was a morgue. Every single player on the team knew the season had just ended before it started. And every fan knew it too. Torn ACL and MCL. Nightmare.

Sehorn was a freak. He had a Pro Bowl year in 1997 in everything but name, and would certainly have been IN MANY if not for the injury. In 1997, Sehorn started all 16 games. He had six interceptions, plus 86 total tackles and 20 passes defensed. He was twice named NFC Defensive Player of the Week and December’s NFC Defensive Player of the Month as he helped lead the Giants to the NFC East championship.

With Strahan and Armstead entering their primes RIGHT ALONG SIDE OF SEHORN, this defense had the makings of total domination. Everyone remembers the special INT of McNabb that Sehorn had in the 2000 playoffs. He might have had 5 (OR MORE, trust me) of those types of special impact plays in his career if he never lost the step he lost on that fateful day in August. The havoc this player wreaked in 1997 was something special. Of all the players Wellington Mara has watched in practice, Sehorn was his favorite. Remarkable statement for a man who saw football pretty much from the beginnings of the (pro) game.

“When he was in his prime,” Mara said, “he was as good as I ever saw playing his position. I used to watch him in practice, so athletic and it came so easily to him, and yet he applied himself 100 percent. It was great to watch.”

Oh the plays he made! He’d be a shutdown corner with Strahan shutting down the other side of the field… like a vise. Or Sehorn would simply take on the opposing offense’s best passing threat and simply shut him down. Sparks was solid on the other side, and of course the middle had Hammer and Armstead. Chad Bratzke used those players to catapult himself to a great contract with the Colts. And then there were the Sehorn corner blitzes. Opposing offenses simply gave up on Sehorn’s side of the field the way they did vs Deion Sanders, so then John Fox would send Sehorn in on CB blitzes and the QB would never see it! Corner blitzes cannot be executed by ordinary corners. You need that special blend of speed and agility to get there quickly AND not miss. Sehorn also had ~20 lbs. on Sanders and could play the run MUCH BETTER THAN SANDERS EVER DID. 4.3 speed, the total package.

“Jason was shutting people down,” says Johnnie Lynn, coach of the Giants’ defensive backs. “He had such confidence that year. He was competitive on every down, and he never wanted to leave the field. He was what you dream about for all your corners: the big size, the big arms, the ability to run and to hit. You knew, as his reputation grew, he’d become a Pro Bowl player year after year.”

“When he is healthy, he is the best corner in the NFL ,” Giants strong safety Sam Garnes had said.

Sanders stayed healthy and is going to Canton in 2 years. Sehorn’s shooting star was ephemeral. Sehorn was part of the mistake of Fassel agreeing (at Sehorn’s urging, I believe… Sehorn’s meteoric rise in football began with special teams returns for TDs when he changed sports) to put him on Special Teams, something we know is a gross error for your starters… especially your stars. “My worst nightmare,” said (then) Giants coach Jim Fassel.

It is a lot easier recounting this day 10 years ago with a Super Bowl in our pocket this past season. Strahan will tell you that if his friend Sehorn (it was Strahan that was trying to fix Sehorn up with Angie Harmon) did not go down that day he would probably have a few more. (Super Bowl XXXV is a slightly different game if Sehorn is playing on two legs instead of one.) All I know is that the 1997 season is right up there with the 1981, 1986 and 2007 seasons as one of the best ever. Maybe this group of young guys like Phillips/Ross/Webster/Kiwanuka/Umenyiora/Tuck can help us to become a truly dominant defense like 1986 or 1997. I think all we need is a fast Linebacker and it could be there.

The Rules For Winning in the NFL

July 4, 2008

(Ultimatenyg note: This is a reprint of July 4, 2007’s post. Rule 6 was violated so badly (causing a loss in this past year’s playoffs) that we had to create a 6a addendum just for the offender! The last word (rule) has never been more true, eh Tom Brady?!!)

In the spirit of Independence Day, we declare these truths to be self-evident, that not all coaches and general managers are created equal… THE RULES FOR WINNING IN THE NFL! Please comment, detract, add your own. These rules can be amended (doubtful, but possible!) by your feedback.

1) Do not draft a “versatile” player in Round 1 of the draft. “Dominant” should be there, not versatile.
2) Left Tackle is a rare commodity. A good Left Tackle is better than a great ______ (fill in almost any other position).
3) WRs are a dime a dozen. Do not waste resources here; pick one up when you are close to the prize. They are always available.
4) “Linebackers, I collect’em.” – Bill Parcells.
5) Pitchouts do not work in the red zone.
6) Repeat after me, Do not go for the 2 pt. conversion until there are 6 minutes left in the game. If there are more than 8 minutes left in the game, it is a 99% certainty that it was the wrong decision.
6a) The Mike Tomlin Rule- The only thing worse than violating Rule 6 is violating Rule 6 AFTER a penalty makes it a 7 yd (or 12! or 17 yard) attempt.
7) The Devon Hester Rule- If there is a special teams player in the end zone on a FG attempt, it is probably a good idea to fake the kick.
8) Do the unpredictable. Once you are predictable you are dead.
9) Trading down in the draft is good.
10) Investing all of your resources in one player is (now, more than ever in the era of free agency) a mistake. Eli Manning, Herschel Walker, Ricky Williams… the teams that do the best are usually giving the pick and getting multiple players.
11) “Read and react” is for losers. Set the tone, dictate terms of engagement, let others copy your SB blueprint. By the time you copy someone else’s, the league has figured out how to adjust, so you are wasting your time.
12) Defensive Coordinators make better head coaches and increase your chances for a SB championship.
13) Let the clock wind down to 3 seconds and kick your FG. I have never seen a team muff the (3rd down) attempt and kick on 4th down with the extra time that you left on the clock. I HAVE seen plenty of teams kick the FG and give the other team the oppty/win when they got their hands on the ball again. (ie Dallas Mon Night 2003)
14) The 2 week layover for the SB makes for a lousy game which improves the chances for the favorite.
15) Special teams are always underrated.
16) The only thing the prevent defense prevents you from doing is winning.
17) The only thing the prevent offense prevents you from doing is winning.
17a) The Kenny Holmes Rule- the only thing worse than the prevent offense is the prevent offense when your defense is exhausted/impaired by injury.
18) Players are told to play for 60 minutes. Yet who benches the head coach when he only coaches for 50?
19) The Fassel Rule of Prevent: It is always the coach’s fault when a large lead is blown/the game is lost.
20) The Fassel Rule of December: Practice in December w/o pads- your players will appreciate it and win many more games for you with their fresh legs.
21) The Bill Walsh “Quality Win” (winning by 11+ points) is a necessary objective at all times because it enables you to win MORE games that are more hotly contested.
22) After 1st and Goal from the 1-2 yard line, if you fail to score a TD on your first three tries, kick the FG on 4th down.
23) The Carl Banks Rule- You cannot simply turn it on and turn it off in the NFL. Play every game and maintain/improve on your high level of play.
24) Second round draft picks are the best value in the draft. No sizzle, all steak.
25) # of headcases <= strong head coaches. (If you have a strong head coach you can have up to 1 head case in the locker room. If you have a weak head coach you cannot have any. A strong head coach with 2 or more head cases means a locker room infestation and problems.)
26) Defense wins championships.

Will the New York Giants be complacent defenders of their Super Bowl crown?

May 3, 2008

For any Giant fan able to remember the seasons following all three previous Super Bowl appearances, each following season was one to quickly forget. All three were asterisk seasons of one variety or another.

1987 The Replacements. While the Maras were toeing the line for the NFL against the players’ union, the other teams were quietly giving unofficial contracts to the best of the replacement players in front of the lockout. When the strike was announced and teams could now speak to non-union players, the Giants found out that all the good replacements were mysteriously gone, having signed immediately after the strike began. The team went 0-3 during the strike and never recovered. Nice guys finish last.

1991 You owe it to yourself to read “Good to Great” by Jim Collins (see Ultimatenyg Book Club link on right side) for understanding this season’s demise. Collins points out the “Level 5 leader,” for whom the organization’s success is more important than his/her own press clippings. In order for an organization to have SUSTAINED success the leader must groom a successor or multiple successors so that the business can continue to excel. We all love Parcells for giving us two championships, but his abrupt exit in MAY 1991 was NOT what Level 5 leaders do. In fact, if we look at the way Parcells left the Giants, Patriots and Jets, and if we look at the way he scorned franchises like Tampa Bay and Atlanta, it is all about Parcells and not about the organizations he works for. Indeed, many leaders of less than great companies are out to prove that THEY are the reason for the company’s success. When they leave and the company subsequently stumbles/suffers, we are supposed to fawn over the exited leader for being the singular reason for the success of the team. THE BEST LEADERS ARE THE ONES WHO LEAVE STRUCTURE IN PLACE FOR CONTINUED SUCCESS AFTER THEIR DEPARTURE. Contrast Parcells to the way that Young and Accorsi each laid the groundwork for a smooth transition to a capable successor. Collins’ book has zero to do with football but has everything to do with the implosion of 1991-1992.

2001 In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King. Ultimatenyg did an exposé on the myth of Jim Fassel. The era of his reign was marked by such poor coaching in the NFC East that it fostered mediocrity in the Meadowlands. Fassel could not ONCE orchestrate consecutive winning seasons because the ‘players coach’ and strength of schedule insured that the team could not handle prosperity. Even during the special 2000 season when the team went 12-4, it only had a non-division record of 5-3.

The Offensive Line

March 20, 2008

NY Giants RT Kareem McKenzie has been one of those cogs that differentiated the Coughlin regime from the Fassel regime.

Jim Fassel relied on the tremendous talents of Jim “Mouse” McNally, who took UFAs and made them into good linemen. The problem was that while these (cheap, value) guys would save Accorsi precious dollars for the cap, they were not going to be the answer at crunch time vs the best teams.

Coughlin and the front office have crafted an OL with a high second rounder in Snee (26), strong free agent pickups in O’Hara (30, Browns) and McKenzie(28, Jets), and McNally holdovers Diehl (27) and Seubert (28). What seems to make the line work is that all the guys can put together 15-16 starts per season, assuming there is no big injury (like the Seubert leg in ’03). All of these guys have played with one another for three consecutive years, a rarity in the NFL. Continuity and durability. The Giants can get a LT for more depth/speed, but there is no reason this unit cannot get better. They are all in their prime. Other teams are trying to copy the Giant blueprint for success and most of them are far off on building this kind of continuity.