Archive for the ‘Super Bowl’ Category

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 exposĂ© 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.

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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.

A view from the other side

February 14, 2008

Simmons from ESPN on his Patriots’ loss. A view from the other side. These were the people who gave us no chance. Giants fans talked about these types in the two weeks leading up to the game; as much as we did not want to think about the emotional letdown of a Giant loss, we knew that a Patriots loss was going to be the equivalent of an atomic bomb for all of their fans. Simmons captures the nuclear fallout and allows Giants fans to relive the moment in full splendor. Yep, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Where did you see that one?

It is easy for us to understand that Simmons missed the big elephant- the Patriots offensive juggernaut could not do the things it had done all season because the Giants pass rush was disrupting their game.

One more thing- his ‘castaway’ simile was poetic genius. Simmons captured the intensity of our joy. Impressive awareness for someone who could have easily been overwhelmed and consumed by his own dismay.

Diary of a CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE

February 9, 2008

Note links on separate plays to video where available:

NE 14 NYG 10 2:39
1st and 10 at NYG 17(2:39) Toomer to NYG 28 for 11 yards
1st and 10 at NYG 28(2:09) incomplete Burress
2nd and 10 at NYG 28(2:04) incomplete Burress
Two-Minute Warning
3rd and 10 at NYG 28(1:59) Toomer to NYG 37 for 9 yards
4th and 1 at NYG 37(1:34) Jacobs run to NYG 39 for 2 yards
1st and 10 at NYG 39(1:28) Manning run to NYG 44 for 5 yards
Timeout #1 by NYG at 01:20
2nd and 5 at NYG 44(1:20) incomplete Tyree
3rd and 5 at NYG 44(1:15) Tyree to NE 24 for 32 yards (Commentary from Tyree)
Timeout #2 by NYG at 00:59
1st and 10 at NE 24(:59) Manning sacked at NE 25 for -1 yards
Timeout #3 by NYG at 00:51
2nd and 11 at NE 25(:51) incomplete Tyree
3rd and 11 at NE 25(:45) Smith to NE 13 for 12 yards
1st and 10 at NE 13(:39) Burress for 13 yards, TOUCHDOWN
L.Tynes extra point is GOOD
NYG 17 NE 14
12 plays, 83 yards, 2:07 drive, 14:25 elapsed

Divine Intervention

February 6, 2008

The stories coming out of this game are giving new meaning to the oft overused expression “Team of Destiny.” There had to be some sort of Divine Intervention at work here. Evidence? Hmmm…

1) The Bradshaw fumble recovery was nothing short of a miracle. Pierre Woods of the Patriots FALLS ON THE BALL. If this was ANY other game, the whistle blows, the play is over and the ref points his arm the other way for the turnover. But Bradshaw comes over (this period of time felt like an eternity in the pantheon of fumble scrums), sticks his arm underneath his body, pops the ball out of there and recovers the ball. According to an interview with Woods, he somehow never had control of the ball. It almost reminds me of an ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ episode where the ball is “blinked” to another location and everyone else is wondering how it actually became teleported. IF THE REFS CALL THE TURNOVER, NO ONE HAS ANYTHING TO SAY! All I know is I am whistling past the graveyard on that one.

2) The 45 yarder to Boss? Well, it turns out that that one was drawn up on the sidelines by Gilbride just minutes before it was used! We are playing sandlot football at the Super Bowl.

3) We now find out that somewhere in the Q4 Toomer busted (broke?) his hand, and he never knew until in the lockerroom when he was shaking hands with people.

4) The Helmet. The Great Escape. I do not know what they are going to end up calling it, but no matter because they will always be calling the NY GIANTS 2007 Super Bowl Champions. When I watch the tape of that play over and over I am still mystified by how the ball stays in Tyree’s possession despite being held precariously on the side of that damn helmet with ONE hand! How it does not somehow get jarred loose is almost as if G-d has a hand in there holding it in place. I still do not understand it. I see it but I do not understand it.

4a) How does this Manning kid get away from those linemen who have him in their grasp? Manning is not that strong and these linemen are not that weak. He had help from somewhere.

5) And then there is the revelation from Toomer- that David Tyree couldn’t catch a pass in (the last) practice the Friday before the game. The guy who couldn’t catch a pass in practice, the same guy who flubbed the TD catch versus Green Bay that was right in his arms. And now he catches THREE PASSES. One of which is a Touchdown. One of which is off his freaking helmet. The guy had 4 receptions ALL YEAR.

6) I am not even writing this blog until I go online this morning and start reading how Plaxico Burress, all healthy and ready to go (remember the 23-17 boast before boarding the bus, how he was “97%” healthy?), slips in the shower at the hotel the Monday before the game and sprains his MCL. He plays the game almost as a decoy on a sprained MCL and still catches the final TD. He had to be carted off the field to the lockerroom.

THIS SPACE LEFT BLANK FOR MORE MAGIC.

Fran Tarkenton, the original Houdini

February 5, 2008

Fran Tarkenton Video Clip- The Most Mobile QB in NFL History

When Manning gets away from the grasp of a number of Patriot rushers, it does look like luck. But when I think back to my youth about how Fran Tarkenton used to do that kind of maneuvering on an almost regular basis… there is obviously a tremendous amount of intangible skill involved.

The clip on Tarkenton is a great show, even in 2008. He had eyes behind his head. Deacon Jones’ and Merlin Olsen’s remarks had me roaring in laughter. When Tarkenton went to the Vikings, it was a very bad day for Giants fans. The play by Manning to Tyree heals that wound too. There was plenty of redemption going on on Sunday night.

One more thing- Tarkenton and Manning both are #10..!!

PHIL SIMMS IS JEALOUS!

February 5, 2008

Of course he is NOT jealous of the Giants. But he is JEALOUS that today the team gets a parade down the CANYON OF HEROES. If memory serves, the ’86 and ’90 teams did not get such treatment because the team moved out to Jersey in the 70’s and the mayor/s of NYC did not exactly greet them back for a parade in open arms. Celebrations took place at the stadium instead. This one will be a little better. (addendum- Len Berman said that ’86 was rejected by Koch because of ‘NJ’ and ’90 did not happen because of the Gulf War.)

A few members of the ultimatenyg contingent were at the game…

The Sports Books in Vegas …

February 4, 2008

From one of the Las Vegas Strip’s managers at a sports book: “Congrats to all believers. You can forward to Dr. Rob and all other Giants fans. The books got slaughtered. Not only was the money right but the moneyline bets came in too. I knew we had a chance when the two biggest bets today were $100k -12 and $60k at -420 on the moneyline for the Pats. You might wonder how the book got slaughtered? The majority of the bets today and all week were on the Giants. A special shout out to Ron. Great call!”

SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS!!!!! Pt. 2

February 4, 2008

I thought Super Bowl XXI and Super Bowl XXV were sweet. Super Bowl XLII’s victory is beyond anything I could have imagined. It is a figure of speech to ask someone to pinch you when you are having doubts imagining that reality is indeed exceeding anything you could have dreamed about, but I found myself doing that because the win was so surreal. We thought the Giants had a chance, but did any of us truly KNOW that we were going to come out winners tonight?! And when we went ahead 10-7 we thought it was possible. And when it was 3rd and goal for the Patriots at the 8 and a stop forces a possible OT, are we thinking win when Moss gets the TD? There is enough time left, 3 timouts. But can we go down the field? I just saw the replay and it was a Brandon Jacobs falling forward on 4th and 1 or else we are thinking of what could have been. Miracle play after play kept the drive alive. Manning getting out of that sack and then the scramble for….The catch by Tyree on the helmet?!!!! That play was better than Mark Ingram on 3rd and 12 in 1991! I never thought I would hear myself say that. And then the Steve Smith (okay, you are forgiven for the INT) catch for 11 yards and a 1st down. And then Burresssss in the end zone for TD!!! Comfortably NUMB! The rookie Alford sacks Brady to put them in the hail mary and the game is sealed!!!! UNBELIEVABLE!!!! ELI MANNING GETS A FREE PASS FOR THE REST OF HIS CAREER!!! THE GIANTS ARE SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS!!!!!

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.