"These Games Are Important!"
Not only did the Giants help themselves by correcting their ill timed two game slide, they received an assist from Chicago as the Bears clipped the PhilaEagles' wings in the Windy City. Alas, the G-Men share a piece of first place in the NFC East....again.
I told you last week was survivable.
The Giants beat the Bears earlier this season; We lose to the Eagles; the Bears beat Eagles. Such as life in the National Football League these days.
So here we are. And there we almost went.
Being down to the Jags 17-6 in the first half had me in a state of Big Blue Bewilderment. The Jags' running game plowed through us in the 1st quarter like we weren't even there. In the 2nd quarter, Garrard tapped into his inner Michael Vick (or even Mark Brunell when he was a young QB) and ran right, then left, then straight past the over-pursuing Blue Cloud into the end zone for a touchdown. The play goes down in the books as a 5 yard gain for the score. But he ran loops around us for at least 15 yards before his forward gain. Ponderous; Simply ponderous! A lot of 'all of the above' falls on the defensive front four; specifically Osi and Tuck.
Ponderous? Yes. But not until half-time, unless chaos is ruling the day, is really when the time bomb starts ticking on a game. The question is, in thirty minutes can you defuse it, or are things certain to go "BOOM"?
No, I'm not going to do the "Justin Tuck Half-Time Locker Room Speech" thing. Speeches are cool. They certainly have their place in the grand scheme of things. "Boomer" played, he said they serve a purpose (at times..and if the right person makes them). And if Osi and Tuck felt that's what they needed to do, then fine.
BUT, I do believe in half-time adjustments. That's the true test of a Coach's staff.
It's not fair of me to bring Hall of Famers into the mix, but I remember guys like Harry Carson, Reasons and LT making side-line, on-field and in-game adjustments. I remember Leonard Marshall; rarely fooled and never twice. I remember Coach Belichick with his markers and board on the side-lines designing, and re-designing DOOM as he went along. Coach Fox was like that too. He was crazy like a "Fox" for sure, problem was his guys were undisciplined and crazier. Jesse Armstead, Keith "The Hammer" Hamilton, Sehorn, and Strahan the Younger, (Dumb-asses they were..1997..), under Coach Fox were still excellent in-game adjusters. Then if you like, think of Strahan the Elder, pulling and teaching the Tuck/Osi Padawans in '07. What was that defense all about? Coach Spags was a great in-game adjuster. I digress.
But if Coach Fewell, Justin Tuck and Osi needed the confines of the locker-room after a half of Football to make an attitude alteration and inject a little mood management, I'd kindly ask them to come up with a better plan by the time we play Washington. Harry Carson used to do it with one look and LT implored his team to be "A Bunch of Crazed Dogs", Remember? My point, it doesn't take a whole half. And as far as making in-game adjustments, can we please speed that up? Or, maybe we were spoiled once upon a time?
OK...so the Offense was sputtering along also, with only six 1st half points Sunday. Phil Simms' offense used to sputter a lot too. But the Defense always kept things manageable for Phil and the O-Boys. They used to create short fields for us and provide ample opportunities to hold, run and control the ball on offense. Joe Morris did it; "Good" O.J. did it too. What? - Pound the ball...Much Like Brandon Jacobs did Sunday against the Jags. He did it behind an offensive line decimated by injury, but who's back-ups served up a very clean, penalty free, effective game. Parcells hated O-Line penalties in particular. Coach Coughlin will vouch to that. He was there.
The Giants outscored the Jags 18-3 in the second half much the way Phil Simms used to generate 2nd half offense with a late touchdown to Mark Bavaro. How many 24-20; 23-17, 23-20; 24-21 games can you remember from those days? If you're like me, many. Am I the only one who had this race through his/her mind watching Eli connect on a touchdown pass late in the 4th quarter to Kevin Boss?
I won't lie and tell you that I didn't think about these things Sunday. It just seemed oddly familiar, how once we struggled for points while the defense held things together and through the running game and a timely pass or two won games in the second halves of games employing this very formula.. But that was then and this is now. The way the defense came out for the 2nd half against the Jaguars just reminded me of so many games I remember seeing before; - The whole game actually including all the angst. Phil was frustrating too if you recall. Mario Manningham; Lionel Manuel....Anyone? *sigh*
The NFL is a different animal these days though. It's been 20 and 25 years since XXI and XXV.
Some things haven't changed since then, like making 2nd half adjustments. But parity is more pervasive today than in those days and the League is much more unpredictable (hence 2007). When the defense clamps down and allows 3 points the rest of the way like the Giants' D did Sunday, does the ends justify the means? Maybe for a day against an AFC opponent, it took a whole half of Football to adjust. Making teams adjust to us is an offensive conversation to be had in the next posting of mine.
For now what we should be taking away from Sunday's effort is something as old as Football itself. Coach Fewell, Osi and Tuck chose their own, NEW way, of reminding us all it's not how you start more than it's how you finish.