NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS: There's More Than Just A Playoff Spot On The Line.
BIG BLUE MUST RALLY AROUND THEIR COACH!
They had a chance to make this easy. Now they must do it the hard way having no one to blame but themselves. In a way, The Giants don't deal with prosperity very well. So maybe being Road Warriors again is just what the Lords of Pigskin ordered.
The road map was unfolded with the route highlighted in Big Blue ink for them. But they chose to get lost along the way instead. They better find themselves quickly because the New York Giants return to Green Bay this Sunday needing to do what they did one night in January of 2008; - They must win a huge game. They need to break out the tapes of that night and study them closely because whatever they did right that game, they'll need to repeat again this weekend or literally PACK it in. They must do this against an excellent Packers defense who've given up a mere 220 points this season. The G-Men need to win against a team which is equally, if not slightly more desperate for a victory. The Packers' playoff chances rest with winning both of their remaining two games as both teams vie for the same Wild Card spot.
For the Giants, there is only one, and one way only, to look at this game; As a Must Win!
They need to win in order to gain back their self-respect and confidence after last week's melt-down to the Eagles. They need to win in order to save their season and any hopes of making the playoffs. They need to win and stave-off all the talk that will no doubt erupt about the Giants choking again. And they also need to win in order to save their Head Coach's job because for whatever reason, his name is always the first one to come up when fans and media look to blame somebody.
Let's hope the ice in Eli's veins hasn't melted away from that night in Green Bay almost three full years ago. And let's also hope his grip on the ball will be just as sure late Sunday afternoon as it was that dark, freezing night in TitleTown. Because we absolutely can not afford Eli interceptions of the variety we've been treated to this season. We need the amazing accuracy he displayed when even my finger tips were frozen just watching that game on TV three years ago. But even that game, all the way up to the winning field goal in Over-Time was painful to watch. And now we've all seen with our own eyes exactly how it is that a QB can have four TD passes, the running game rush for 100 yards and the team still loses in the most disappointing and incredulous manner possible.
Because we've been shown passing the ball ensures nothing (just like a once fabled Run-and-Shoot Offense) and is a bad way to manage the clock, once again we must turn to an old proven method; committing to, and running the damn ball....especially out in frigid Lambeau Field. Coach Gilbride lost patience with a running game only making short gains against the Eagles. Never mind they were effectively moving the chains and remained in control of the clock. And never mind it remained something the Eagles had to respect and account for..(how do you think Manningham was able to get open all day?!). But for inexplicable reasons, he made Brandon Jacobs disappear in the second half versus Philly like he did in the third quarters of games against the Skins and Jacksonville. We finally need Coach to once and for all, learn the difference between controlling a game on offense rather that running tutorials convincing us to buy into the Wonder-Pass Method.
With a win Sunday the Giants can get the new 2011 year started off on the right foot. But a loss would ensure them Sunday will be the worst day of the 2010 season for all concerned. They can avoid that fate by just finishing what they start. That right there, was there doom last week; the failure to finish.
I'll take you back to the Jets game against the Patriots when New England rolled all over New York. With that game well in hand, Coach Belichick summoned his team together on the sideline and implored them to stay focused and to continue executing their assigned tasked. Basically he told them they better not let up but more importantly...they better not screw up!
Compare and contrast the two methods of handling a blow-out situation. There's a huge lesson to be learned there.
As for the Packers, Aaron Rodgers got his CheeseHead rung a few weeks ago. After missing last week's game, he returns for this week's game after suffering, and since being cleared from concussion-like symptoms. He and the Packers can throw the ball with any team. It's the Pack's running game that makes their offense a little one dimensional.
That predictability should play right into the Giants' Defense and Perry Fewell's plans for Sunday. Look for Kenny Phillips, Deon Grant, Aaron Ross and Antrel Rolle being the key to everything from helping the pass rush by disrupting patterns, disguising coverages and stepping up for the run. This Unit allowed wide open receivers and failed to execute basics, highlighted by two missed tackles that victimized the Giants for huge yardage plays by Philly's Celek, Maclin and runs by Michael Vick. But on the bright side, there hasn't been a quarterback we haven't been able to get our hands on yet. Perhaps a sack or two of Aaron Rodgers will be just enough to get his thinking a little fuzzy again.
On the other side, I think our Offensive Line can be very effective against the Packers' defensive front. If we see Safeties and Corners having to step up and tackle Jacobs and Bradshaw, Coach Gilbride should give them all their CheesyGreen bodies can withstand. BUT Stick with it this time! The effects of a pounding ground game are cumulative intended for controlling the fourth quarter. Take the hint Coach, and let Green Bay absorb the hits. Stop operating in reverse order and finally let the running game set up the play-action (I hate that term. What ever happened to the fake? Or play-fake?).
Whatever we try, they just better make sure it works, because there will be hell to pay if they don't. Many people have a hard time explaining why, but Coach Tom Coughlin is on the hot seat even before this game gets under-way. His on-field berating of Matt Dodge also seems to have raised the temperature a little.
Earlier this season Tom Coughlin kept what could have been a contentious situation with Brandon Jacobs contained. In an earlier game this season Coach Coughlin could be seen in a dispute with his Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell while being quite verbally animated on the sidelines as the Giants were suffering major defensive lapses. Since that minor altercation and Justin Tuck's emergence as a verbal leader the Giants defense has been far more effective.
When Ahmad Bradshaw continually fumbled the ball, Coach Coughlin called for the switch to Brandon Jacobs. Ahmad Bradshaw has not fumbled since the first time they faced the Eagles when he originally lost his starting role. His fumbling problem for the moment seems corrected much the same way Coach Coughlin corrected Tiki Barber's fumbling woes.
The truth is this Coach has done more to keep us participating in the playoffs than he's done to keep us out. So why all the negative vibe about him? Let's keep the blame for some Big Blue let-downs in proper prospectives shall we?.....With the players.
For all those clamouring for Bill Cower to succeed Tom Coughlin as Head Coach of the Giants, show me how he is a significant upgrade outside of an age difference. The way I see it, Cower may not be significantly better than Coughlin, but Coughlin for whatever reason is a lot less liked. That's just the perception. But sometimes perception is reality.
But there is only one Reality the Giants need to exist in Sunday that will solve so many festering issues. Their reality involves winning and losing.
Winning Sunday, at this point will be more of a relief than any kind of celebration for taking a step closer to the playoffs. A loss will be nothing short of devastating which is the exact reality they are preparing to avoid against the Packers.
That's just Life!