EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Here we sit, seventeen grueling weeks of football in the books. Should we be upset and disappointed with the way the season turned out? Of course. Does the team need a complete re-shuffling? Well, those of us who know football well enough aren't so dumb as to come to such a rash conclusion. Fortunately, John Mara is one of the smart ones, and made it a point to inform the public that Tom Coughlin's job was safe. As it should be.
If you hadn't seen any of the season play out, and simply heard the Giants finished the season 10-6 but missed the playoffs, most wouldn't think that was incredibly unusual. Of course, if you watched any of the last three weeks, you've got a very different mindset. That was about as painful a way to end a season as any fan could imagine. Eight freakin' minutes away from most likely the division crown and a first round bye even, and we're now on the outside looking in, wishing we had something to cheer about for the rest of the month. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, let's look back on our win over the Redskins.
Ending an Ugly Season with an Ugly Win
The team's ultimate responsibility this past Sunday was to beat the Washington Redskins. While we had controlled our own destiny in previous weeks, we didn't anymore. What was done was done, and all we could do was beat the Redskins and hope the Bears could beat the Packers. The Bears actually played their starters all game, something most thought wouldn't happen. We took care of the Redskins in ugly fashion, but unfortunately the Bears couldn't take care of Green Bay. Thus, we missed the playoffs, and the Pack snagged the final NFC wild card spot.
There was plenty to take away from the game itself, good and bad. Despite one legitimate drive at the end of the first half, our defense kept them in check most of the game. When a tipped pass turned into an interception, our defense came onto the field and got the ball right back when Osi stripped the ball from Rex Grossman's hands before he could throw it. They did plenty of that all day, creating four turnovers.
Eli had a pretty good day, all things considered. The interception he threw was practically a hand-off from Mario Manningham to Philip Buchanan. Derek Hagan dropped what would've been a touchdown pass in the middle of the first quarter. It was pretty obvious that Eli was playing with a bunch of backups, although his balls have been sailing a bit this season on normally open routes. Maybe there's miscommunication on what routes are being run, or maybe Eli's flat out missing receivers. Only the coaches and players really know. Kevin Boss made a great catch near the end of the second quarter to set up Brandon Jacobs' touchdown run, but as fans we shouldn't be praying he hangs on every time the ball is thrown his way. I wouldn't be surprised to see an open competition for the position this offseason between Boss, Beckum, and Bear Pascoe. I also wouldn't be surprised to see the Giants go after a free agent or draft someone in April. I'm not saying they will, I'm just saying I wouldn't be surprised if they did.
The best way to gauge the results of a patchwork offensive line is by the success or failure of the rushing game. Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw did well in the first half, but there were no lanes for them after halftime. Not to say Kevin Boothe didn't do a great job filling in for Seubert when he went down, but an offensive line as beat up as ours, taking further toll in the last week of the regular season, can only hold on for so long. I'd say the guys in there did a great job considering.
Now, let's delve into the bad. I don't believe that Eli's intentionally taking a long time in the huddle before approaching the line. I have to think the plays are getting in late, because once again, now in the LAST WEEK OF THE REGULAR SEASON, we had to waste a timeout due to an expiring playclock. Week 17. You can't be serious. Speaking of playcalling: down 10-7, twenty-two seconds left in the first half (remember, we kick off to start the second half), ball near midfield. Three timeouts. AND WE RUN THE BALL? Sorry Coach Gilbride, but an offense can't do much when you don't let them try. Second possession of the game, and we have a great drive going. After Derek Hagan dropped a would-be touchdown pass on 2nd down, Gilbride calls a draw play on 3rd and goal from the six. Can you sense a pattern forming? This team has shown potential to be a great big play offense many times in the past. Yet they continue to struggle in the clutch year after year. I wonder what another coordinator could do with our talent, even with our two star receivers out.
Special teams were awful. They have been all season. Punt team, kickoff coverage, the field goal unit, all of it. It's no secret some big changes need to be made there in the offseason.
So that was the game in a nutshell. Congrats to Eli and Mario, whose 92-yard touchdown hookup was the third-longest touchdown pass in franchise history.
Coughlin's a Great Coach, and Deserves to Be Here Next Season
The players love him and want to play for him. The front office knows he's the guy. Giants' fans who know football and pay attention to the games want him back. The only people who don't want him back are rash sportswriters and "fans" who don't think before they speak, or type.
This team played with a patchwork offensive line all season, and was without two of our star wideouts most of the year. Our stud return man went on IR before the season started, and even the depth of our receiving corps got hit when Ramses Barden went on IR. We finished the season with 10 WINS. And everyone wants him gone? Are you even paying attention?
As for the Cowher argument, I have several points to make. First of all, he never gave anyone a "list" of teams he wanted to coach for next season. He probably said, in passing, "Oh, the Giants would be a fun challenge." But everyone who knows him says he's pretty happy in his current role at CBS. Everything else is hearsay, nothing more than New York media hype created out of lack of substance. Also, I personally don't believe Bill Cowher would be a significant step up from Tom Coughlin. They're both disciplinarians, with very similar coaching styles. They each have one Super Bowl ring. Cowher went to the big dance twice – got blown out the first time, and barely hung on to beat a far lesser opponent in the "lucky-to-be-there" Seattle Seahawks back in Super Bowl XL. Tom Coughlin's been there once, when the Road Warrior Gmen faced the then-undefeated New England Patriots, and he won. Say what you will about comparative overall playoff records. Where it matters most, Tom Coughlin's got a 100% success rate, while Cowher's is 50%. I'm just saying. The team and the players believe in Tom Coughlin. Why should we have to convince the fans to believe in him, too? Makes no sense to me.
Non-Gmen Thoughts of the Week:
- Great line from the Fox commentators after Suebert went down – "How do they respond emotionally to this, with all their emotions?" That's Ivy League material right there.
- Speaking of Fox coverage, despite my overall hatred for it, did everyone else love what Fox did with the robot graphic? The day after National Hangover Day (more popularly known as "New Year's"), the robot's sitting down with an ice pack on his forehead. Awesome.
- The Winter Classic has to be one of the greatest new events to happen to sports in a long time. It's just awesome to see hockey outdoors on such a grand stage. HBO's 24/7 series is amazing as well, making the game itself that much more enjoyable.
- Saw Black Swan and True Grit over the holiday break. Both were incredible films, for very different reasons. Might want to warn those who are feint of heart though before seeing Black Swan – to say it's intense would be the understatement of the New Year.
- Goodell – the fans don't want a letter. We want you to come to your senses. Please. Thank you.
Until Next Season
We ended last season 8-8, and missed the playoffs by a lot. This season we were 10-6, and just missed the playoffs. We had two weeks to control our own fate, and couldn't seal the deal. Instead of looking for people to blame, which it seems is what the New York sports media does better than anyone, let's look to where we can build for next season. We've got some work to do, but I trust the guys in our front office to get it done. It's going to be a long, hard offseason. It's not going to be easy. But I'm still going to stay true blue, and I know you all will, too. Remember, it only hurts this much because we care so much about the Gmen. I'd love to continue chatting with you fans during the offseason, either via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Facebook under the name "Gmen Superfan." Happy New Year, and until next season, GO GMEN!