Tuesday, December 28, 2010

N.Y. Giants ~ BIG BLUE Apocalypse NOW

It's BIG BLUE Apocalypse Now!

The last game played by the New York Giants in the year 2010 was an unmitigated disaster.  This game was ruinous!....To their reputations, their season, their playoffs hopes, their Coach, their future and their fans.

It's as if they waited and waited, for the most recent one hour and eight minutes, late in this Football season, to don hooded capes and come riding in like the The Football Horsemen of the Ridiculous to unleash their ultimate and most calamitous lethargy upon the Land of Giants.

You might as well be reading this at the North Pole because the the compass needle of blame is spinning in all directions.

But first, a word from your sponsor (Me):

If you're a BTB reader and have been keeping up with my Giants' postings, you know most of my hang-ups with the G-Men this season have centered around Coach Kevin Gilbride, the health of our Offensive Line, the misuse of Brandon Jacobs and the overall running game.

I haven't berated Eli Manning for his never-ending interceptions and for the times he's looked absolutely amateurish.  I've had even less to say about the Defense this season, (odd, considering I'm a Defense First kinda guy), and I never chose to make an issue of our Special Teams, although I, with everyone, knew the Unit would sabotage us one day.

I haven't gone bonkers over all the turnovers (41 overall; 17 fumbles; and a career high INTs for Eli).  Actually I haven't gone over the deep-end (much) about anything other than the philosophical differences I have with Gilbride although some of these losses have been befuddling.

As a matter of fact, I tried my damnedest this season to stay positive, offer encouragement and exude confidence in my team.  I even dabbled in hyperbole but don't we all?  Phil Simms; 1986; and more recently 2007 references have all snuck into a posting here and there.

Week to week, different match-ups conjure different thoughts when I think about a game.  I don't try to over-analyze.  I just like to stick with what I think we need done and what works best for us with an appreciation for and adherence to Traditional Giant ways.

I'm not a Football expert.  I'm just a fan like you.  But I do take my previews a lot more seriously than I approach my reviews.  Outside of Brandon Jacobs and Gilbride, I really haven't singularly focused on anyone else...much.  But when I do have something or someone in mind, I mean it.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled posting:

In my Giants/Packers Preview Post I called on "four men" (the Def. Secondary unit) to play lead roles Sunday.  I felt the Packers couldn't rush the ball through plywood and that the Giants would contain their running game easily.  And the Giants did.  Green Bay only ran for 93 yards on 33 carries (minus Rodgers).  That's average (but the Packers owned them on third-downs with Kuuuuhn! ~ I get that).  So naturally, I thought that left Aaron Rodgers to throw the ball all night, which is what the Packers are all about.

Now, if I knew he was going to throw the ball all night, that means the Giants had to know he was going to throw all night, and that means Perry Fewell knew he'd throw all night.  So I said, Antrel Rolle, Kenny Phillips, Aaron Ross, Corey Webster, D.Grant and Terrell Thomas would have to be the key players for the Giants Sunday.

And they were key.  They were incredible even....; incredibly instrumental to Aaron Rodgers throwing for over 400 yards.  They were thee-key contributors to Rodgers' 4 touchdown passes on the night.  In that respect, they were brilliant.  In other words, the Giants' Secondary were complete failures with efforts so feeble against someone you knew would be throwing the ball upwards of 3 out of 4 plays.  The Jints got thoroughly undressed and at times looked like English ladies in their knickers chasing after Benny Hill with an umbrella.  Since we're still in the Holiday season, let's just say Ross, Webster, Phillips and Thomas and Rolle got lit up like a Christmas Tree knowing full well the Pigskin Ornament would be dangling in the air all night long. 

And this was not just the last two games.  I know many have forgotten by now the Secondary beat-down Peyton Manning laid on them against the Colts and an embarrassing display against the Titans.  Dallas wrecked our Secondary twice!.. - with Romo AND without him.  THEN came Philly.  THEN came Sunday versus Green Bay.

But that's just Sunday. What about the rest of it?

Let's get the stupid little stuff out of the way first before we get on with this.  The Giants have to beat the Redskins in Washington and the Packers need to lose to the Bears this Sunday in order for the Giants to make the playoffs.  There!  I'm done talking about the Packer Game and the playoffs.  If that's all you were interested in, you may slither back into hiding now.  See you in AUGUST!

But for My Trolley Riderz... Let's cut this open and make a BIG BLUE Bloody MESS trying to find the root of our ills.

COACH TOM COUGHLIN Is Caught In Maelstrom

But really, what is everyone talking about?  Topic One seems to be Coach Coughlin.  Is Coughlin really on the verge of losing his job?

On Day One when Tom Coughlin was announced as Jim Fassel's replacement by Ernie Accorsi, at his press conference Tom Coughlin expressed how much he abhorred injuries, penalties and turnovers.

INJURIES ~ If you can think back to those days, I think Coach Coughlin was taking jabs at suspected malingerers under the old regime.  That's my recollection.  Obviously the Giants have been decimated by countless injuries.  Outside of Steve Smith, we seem to have handled the ongoing crisis well.  I don't think we are in the position we find ourselves in,  is largely due to injuries.

PENALTIES ~ No penalty comes at a good time.  But Tom Coughlin's team is always among the League's lower-half penalized teams.  Jim Fassel's teams were consistently one of the most undisciplined teams in the League.

TURNOVERS ~ SHeeesh!  I'd be stupid to debate the fumbles with anyone.  Brandon Jacobs' fumble Sunday rendered anything I would have said a mute point.  But Eli's interceptions are a jambalaya of his own brain-cramps, Coach Gilbride's high-INT risk factor, high passes and tipped balls.

The over-talked about correction Coach Coughlin made to Tiki Barber's fumbling problems seems to have had a lesser effect on Ahmad Bradshaw.  Is that Coughlin's or Bradshaw's fault?  We know Coach demoted him for fumbling.  We know he told Ahmad how to hold it.  One thing Coach does is hold players accountable (while his predecessor ran a Country Club).  After that, doesn't the rest fall on the Running Backs Coach and the attention to detail and technique drills in practice?

The interceptions are trickier.  Some have been pure Eli folly.  Some have come from high Eli passes resulting in tipped balls and deflections.  Then there are the interceptions Coach Gilbride's passing game cries, begs, kicks and screams for.  But Coach Gilbride is for later.  Coughlin is topic here.

I will say Coach Coughlin needs to exert more of his own will upon Coach Gilbride and demand he adhere to the running game more, and in a drastically different form from which Gilbride is used to employing. The Pass Happy approach to glory is killing us!  So, if you want Coughlin fired based on turnovers, that's all I'm willing to give you to work with.

Moving on...

Coach Coughlin is the same Coach he was when he berated his kicker; Lawrence Tynes, on the field in Green Bay in January of 2008 as he was when he berated his punter; Matt Dodge, on the field in Green Bay in December of 2010.  His attitude, demeanor, character, expectations and approach to Football have not changed one bit since that night.  Your Head Coach hasn't changed but factors and conditions around him have.

First, I'll even share this with you.  I did not want the N.Y. Giants to make the playoffs during the 2006 season because that would have ensured Coach Coughlin would retain his job.  I wanted him fired then!  Now, I don't know what kind of creative names you can think to call me for changing from then, to defending him now.  But I am defending him, partly for the reasons mentioned above.

If you really want to point fingers of blame, point them at Coughlin's staff.  If you think his Staff is just an extension of Coughlin and representative of his overall management effectiveness, you too can drop off now.  The following will just fall on deaf ears.  For some, only Coughlin's removal will satiate their thirst for Big Blue Blood.

Trolley Riderz!?  Are ya still with me so far?

The Giants lost it's ability to FINISH-Out games on Defense when Coach Spags took the Head Coaching job in St.Louis; when Michael Strahan retired and at Linebacker when we never replaced Kawika Mitchell's (albeit one year under Spags) impact while handily complementing All-Pro Antonio Pierce.

There it is.  Perry Fewell is light years ahead of Bill Sheridan, but he's not at Coach Spags' level.  Coach Coughlin even put heat on Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell at mid-season, in-game and in full view.  Secure and confident coaches to that. 

The Secondary now is pretty much the Secondary then, if not better with a healthy Kenny Phillips and Thomas.  But we had one proven star linebacker (Pierce) and one linebacker Coach Spags turned into a "star" (Mitchell).  Antonio Pierce was always his own person, and so Michael Strahan took all them little young Pups like Osi, Kiwanuka, Tuck and Cofield and showed 'em how to play like a man.

And since we're on Strahan, don't forget, FIRST, Tom Coughlin was COACH enough to not only get Michael Strahan in line with the new regime, but Coughlin himself practiced a self-correction.  Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin were the impetus of Michael Strahan's Swan-Song.  Let's get that straight!  They are the one's who got Micheal's head thinking correctly and differently from the guy who lead a band of Idiots in 1997 and who got spanked in 2001 and originated and co-authored THE LATE GAME MELTDOWN in 2003 against the 49ers.  Thank Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin for Michael Strahan bringing that young Defensive Front along because for a while, he was a knucklehead.  He was our knucklehead and a great Giant.  But you might want to believe that Coughlin and Reese squeezed and wrung that Big Papa Leadership and New Attitude out of him and his 16 years of "individual" greatness.

But after digressing...., There it is folks.  There is your big difference between 2007 and 2010.  It's not Coach Coughlin.  He's the same guy.  What's missing is the best Defensive Coordinator we had since Bill Belichick; the retirement of a Hall Of Famer and never maintaining impact players at the Linebacker position.

You want an up-to-the-minute reason?  How's this?  TACKLE BETTER!

Offensively, Kevin Gilbride Coached that Super Bowl winning Giants team three years ago and we won that game in the end passing the ball to his credit.  I don't want him fired.  I just want him wiped, and re-programmed to think Running Game first.  We've been through all that before.  Coach Gilbride's Offense is Feast or Famine.  They either look unstoppable, or look like Sumo Wrestlers playing musical chairs.

Controlling the ball on the ground, dominating First-Down, managing the clock, being able to rely on the run game on Third-and-Shorts and keeping the other team's offense off the field is a defense in itself and would have been enough to beat the Eagles.  But when you routinely limit Brandon Jacobs to 8 or 9 carries a game, and average maybe 25 rushes from your backs per game, I'm sorry! ~ You're just managing to keep the other team in the game with questionable and plentiful pass play selections and incompletions that leave plenty of time left to get burned.

There is a reason Buddy Ryan punched Kevin Gilbride in the face when they were coordinators together in Tennessee.  Sometimes I want to punch him in the face too!

So this comes back to Tom Coughlin again.  Are the Offensive stalling(s) and interceptions more Tom Coughlin's doing or do they stem from Coach Gilbride, bad adjustments and him just being a Pass Junkie and Offensive Egomaniac with Eli sometimes taking remedial steps backwards?

Eli?  Shall we?  Only briefly.  Eli left too many passes high this season.  Part of the reason goes back to Gilbride for repeatedly asking Eli to throw incessantly while he shelves the running game.  The rest of the problem rests with Eli himself.  Take a look at a Tom Brady pass.  On TV it looks like it's headed into the ground.  When you get the 2nd camera angle, all Brady's passes come in waist high or below.  It's as simple as that.

I'll ask you again...How is that Tom Coughlin's fault when these are the attention to details and technique issues the Offensive Coordinator and the QB Coach should be addressing and drilling in practice?

It's just like our Special Teams.  Before you go dumping on Matt Dodge like Coach Coughlin did, you have to ask why Jeff Feagles isn't on this team?  Is that Coach Coughlin's fault or Jerry Reese's fault, or just a matter of circumstance?  Did not Coach Coughlin advise the "young Punter" to kick the ball out of bounds?  Did not Coach Coughlin ask his Special Teams Coach Quinn to be alert to an On-Side-Kick?  A lot of people are putting the On-Side on Coach Coughlin's rap-sheet, but then what exactly is the Special Teams Coach for?  Doesn't that job live for a moment like that?

Is it Coach Coughlin's fault that Matt Dodge did by accident this Sunday against the Packers what he could not do by design against the Eagles, i.e;- Punting the ball out of bounds? - And there-by ruining two punts?

Look to all the coordinators and specialty coaches who haven't impressed their will enough upon their assigned players in practice before you go after Coach Coughlin's job with pitchfork and torches in hand. Why is there such a lack of attention to details such as Brandon Jacobs holding the ball like a loaf of bread, instead of the way we know Tom Coughlin instructs them to?  That reinforcement of the Head Coach's edicts falls on the 2nd level of coaching.  The grass may not necessarily be greener on the other side.  But if you still want to argue, because all these coaches are part of his staff and therefore an extension of Coughlin; - That's fair.  It's just not me and not my take.

If you're interested in firing someone; If that will make you happy, I have a suggestion.  John Fox looks like he's going to get canned in Carolina.  I don't know if he'd accept a lesser job than Head Coaching at this point, but if he's willing, John Fox should be our next Defensive Coordinator.

John Fox coached a tenacious Defense when he was here last.  Perry Fewell has been much better than Sheridan, and like I said he's no Spagnuolo.  I do think John Fox would be a better Defensive Coordinator than Fewell if he could return to the Giants.

So..., do we still want to fire Tom Coughlin?  Decide now.  Don't wait till after next week.  That's too convenient and would be a very knee-jerk reaction.  Mister Mara and the Giants have never operated like that and aren't about to start now.

But I'd like to know who everyone has in mind for a next Coach?  Is this all about Bill Cower? 

He shouts too and gets all mean looking doing it..  His chin pops out and he's been known to inadvertently spit once or twice per rampage.  Is that what you want to replace slamming clipboards on the ground and on-field Kicker-abuse with?

Look, we have a lot of talent on this team, especially when we can all be healthy together.  That's why this is all so frustrating for us.  But no one actually needs to be fired.

Jerry Reese is my guy.  I think he's proving to be an excellent GM.  If he can regain an impact Linbacker and a capable sidekick, that would go a long way towards finishing games on Defense.  This year's assemblage of Linbackers were respectable but just not impactful.  Perry Fewell has made a star of no one.  Coach Spags turned Kawika Mitchell into a cleverly disguised Beast.  I believe John Fox can turn this present Defensive cast into something down-right sinister.

On Offense.  We have a Philosophical Issue.  Thats's something they need to figure out face to face back in the office; not on the Football filed.  Gilbride is Coughlin's guy.  And like I said I don't want him fired.  I just want him to come under control and familiarize himself with the history of the Giants' success running the ball.  Coach Coughlin should insist upon this from his Coordinator.

So if you're asking me, that's what all this Coughlin talk is all about.  So let's just deal with Sunday for now, and take things from there. 

They have one more chance to fend off the galloping Horseman of the Ridiculous.  It's an outside chance to still make these playoffs but they'll need help this Sunday because they are suddenly out of control after once topping out at 9-4 and being masters of their destiny.  Another let-down against the Redskins next Sunday in Washington might be somewhat anti-climactic because in most circles, the Giants' Apocalypse has already decended upon them Now.


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