NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
WILD CARD WEEKEND
NEW YORK GIANTS
NFC East Champs
NFC East Champs
A GIANTS TOWN
A GIANTS TOWN
NEW YORK GIANTS: May The Magical Force; Power; and Historic Tradition of BIG BLUE Football Be With Us.
DO IT FOR THE DUKE!
Footballs are not round, which means things usually go smoothly up to a point. A football has two points, which makes things doubly-difficult. And as footballs are not perfectly round, players are not always perfect in their execution of the fundamental strategies involved with negotiating said Football. The ball we call Pigskin takes strange bounces when they hit the ground. And if not thrown correctly, they also do confounding things in the air. And what's worse is when it lands in the hands of the other team. In the Game we call Pigskin, sometime players take strange bounces off people too. And if not tackled correctly, confounding things happen as well.
The idea on offense is to matriculate the football into the other team's end zone. Defense is about preventing that from happening. Some teams do one or the other better than their opponents. Sometimes they do both equally well. In what can be a humbling or rewarding pursuit of those endeavours, sometimes the efforts result in good times, and sometimes they result in bad times.
Since 1925, the New York Football Giants have had a few bad moments. They've had some pretty cool moments as well.
For those inclined to do so, there's every reason to dwell on the bad stuff that's happened to the Giants in the playoffs during the Tom Coughlin era. The Carolina Panthers; the Philadelphia Eagles twice - It's all fair game because that's the way the football bounces around here as well as across the landscape of the NFL. Sometimes the football drops right in your hands like an Eli to Plaxico Super Bowl winning catch, and other times you look like a fool chasing it (or a player) down; which is exactly what happened against the Eagles last season, ending Big Blue's quest to make the 2010 playoffs. Include extreme cases as well, like when organizations ultimately have no control over a player's desire to go out to a club packing heat in the waist band of a pair of loose fitting sweatpants, and what we come to understand is no one really knows where a two pointed ball will bounce next; even if it's pointed at your own thigh. As much street cred as that gets you on the open market, something like that does everything to shoot down the chances of defending a team's NFL title.
The Giants haven't been expected to win anything since the 1986 Super Bowl season. And even then, John Elway terrified a lot of Giant Fans; especially after watching the way Elway beat the Browns in the AFC Championship Game. OK, maybe they were expected to win the Flipper Anderson playoff game that ended the 1989 season. That one still hurts. But the Giants were underdogs against the Bills in 1990. They surely weren't favored against the Ravens. And they sure as hell didn't stand a chance against the Patriots in 2007. Part of the reason is because the Giants have never been flashy about scoring points; until now. Eli, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks have changed all that.
Welcome to the first Giants' home playoff game since Big Blue defeated the Minnesota Vikings 41-0 to become the 2000 season's NFC Champions. That was a long time ago "On a field of green painted mud" when Wellington Mara chided the Media as he accepted the George Halas Trophy on behalf of the "worst team" to win the NFC Title. John said that was Pop's last greatest moment before he passed away.
Was Wide-Right miraculous? Bill Parcells had confidence Scott Norwood would miss from 47 yards out on grass. But yeah, it's a good thing that went our way. Was that 44-0 win in 2000 "improbable"? Probably; pardon the pun. Was the 2007 run to the Super Bowl just as unlikely? Maybe. Can a win today against Atlanta spark another run towards a Lombardi Trophy? You never know. We'll see about that. But can the Giants win today? Yes, they can.
I called up 1050ESPN this morning. Jody McDonald was on with Amani Toomer as his co-host. I called and brought up my point about the Giants running game being considerably better when Kevin Boothe plays Center, and Mitch Petrus plays Left Guard. Amani Toomer agreed. I'm not tooting horns here. I just want the Giants to do today what the Giants are capable of doing best. And the fact of the matter is, David Baas is hindering the Giants' ability to matriculate the ball up the field via the ground; and more specifically, up the middle.
Eli and Matt Ryan are both capable of destroying each other's Secondaries. The Giants' pass rush however is much better than Atlanta's. So of the two teams, I think the Falcons will look to RELY on the run more and sooner. With Michael Turner running behind an Offensive Line that "plays to the whistle", they certainly can get it done. Establishing the run for either team is a different matter of strategy though. In either case, the Giants will need to run the ball better. The best way to keep Matt Ryan from hurting us, and keeping Michael Turner from rumbling through us, is to keep them on the sidelines.
Yes; for the Giants this season, passing the ball has been at the heart of winning, and in the absence of a better running effort and Secondary lapses, here we are. But what an effective running game will do is give us a greater measure of control over our opponent, just like it did last week against Dallas. Like I said, Atlanta can and will look to do the same. So we need to be better at it. And we can be.
We can run with a front line combination that has performed very effectively together this season; Kevin Boothe at Center; Mitch Petrus at Left Guard; and David Diehl at left Tackle. Forget the opponent for a second. Kevin Boothe is a bigger body at Center than David Baas is, and with Mitch Petrus the Giants still maintain a large presence at Left Guard. That's pigskin point one.
Pigskin point two in a game played with a ball not perfectly round is as follows. To prevent the Falcons from matriculating the ball up-field through an air attack, I would like for Aaron Ross; Corey Webster; and Safeties in the slot; etc.; to play receivers closer to the line of scrimmage. I'm not demanding bump-and-run coverage; although some of that would be nice. But I do not want them giving the Falcons ten yard cushions to start plays with. In almost every instance, during their read and react, they consistently get caught flat-footed on the receiver's break. Get closer to them and constantly keep your feet in motion! I can't believe coaches Peter Giunta and Dave Merritt aren't telling them this themselves! I'm not a coach damn it! I'm a freakin blogger.
Last thing - Last week I watched Hakeem Nicks hold the Pigskin like a loaf of bread. He didn't fumble or anything. But that's a proactive shot across the Giants' bow. Brandon Jacobs also fumbled last week, but the Giants luckily recovered. Among the oldest, truest, and time tested ways to matriculate the football into the other team's end-zone is to hold on to the damn Pigskin! Don't get sloppy. Take care of all the little things and something big will happen.
That's it. Those are my loose ends. Everything I wanted to say heading into this playoff game, I've said already in these posts:
* RUSHING TO THE CENTER OF THE PROBLEM
* DEFENSIVE SYNCHRONICITY
* G-MEN AND THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
* ELI LEADS GIANTS' GROUND GAME?
Let's Go Giants! Let's DO IT FOR THE DUKE!