Here are some New York Giants notes to kick off your NFL playoffs divisional round weekend.
Let's start with some really interesting comments from St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo, who was of course Giants defensive coordinator in the glorious 2007 season. Spags told Ralph Vacchiano of the Daily News that the Giants actually did hold back in the season finale against the Patriots, at least in terms of the defensive game plan.
"Well, I’ll let you in on a little bit of a secret," Spagnuolo, now the Rams head coach, said from his office in St. Louis this week. "You know, as much as we wanted to win that game - - all of us did - - and we played it to win it, we made a decision defensively we weren’t going to jeopardize trying to win the Tampa Bay game (in the first round of the playoffs) by throwing out our whole game plan in the 16th game of the season. So there was a little bit of a pullback there."
That certainly has been a well-kept secret, considering the Giants’ supposed, all-out effort against the then-15-0 Patriots is often credited as the performance that sparked their Super Bowl run. They lost 38-35 that day, but picked up tons of confidence, even though their defense barely provided a speed bump for Brady and the Patriots’ record-setting offensive machine.
The Giants did play their starters until the very end of that mostly meaningless game, risking their health just eight days before they’d open the playoffs at Tampa Bay. The players, in fact, were told they were going all-out for the win, and they may not have even realized how scaled back the defensive game plan really was.
It was scaled back enough, however, that Spagnuolo regretted the decision after he saw how close the Giants were to actually pulling that upset off.
"I remember as close as we got to winning that game I felt a little bit bad about not throwing a little bit more at them in an attempt to win the thing," Spagnuolo said. "They were better than us that day and they should have won. But we did some different things in the Super Bowl that we didn’t do at all in the 16th game.
"I don’t know if that helped or not, but we’d like to think it did."
"There’s a difference between talking trash and just being sarcastic," [Antonio] Pierce, now an ESPN analyst, told The Post. "With the Jets, they’re bashing the Patriots, they’re calling Tom Brady not nice words. I definitely think there’s a line. When you sit there and you’re talking about the best player on the team, probably the best player in the NFL and you’re motivating a guy who is pretty intense as a quarterback, I don’t know if that’s a good thing. With the Jets, it’s getting to the point where it’s disrespect."
One of the worst things I could imagine is the Jets actually finding a way to win on Sunday. I don't even want to think about how much trash talk would be coming from Rex Ryan's gang if that were to happen.
"It crossed my mind but would it have happened, I don't know," said Pierce, who is 32. "I feel good, been cleared for a while but I'm not even going to try it, as much as that itch was there. Do I look at two months, one year or do I look at the next 20, 30 years of my life? To me that's a smart decision."
When I think about Pierce, my mind wanders to Mathias Kiwanuka. Last I heard about Kiwanuka the neck injury that caused him to miss most of the season had not improved to the point where he could consider playing next season. You have to wonder what the future holds for him. Oh, and be thankful the Giants have Jason Pierre-Paul.
Among the free agents the Giants signed to contracts this week for the 2011 season was quarterback Ryan Perrilloux, who in 2010 played for former Giants quarterbacks coach Chris Palmer with Hartford of the UFL. Perrilloux apparently has a troubled history, but Palmer thinks he has a chance to develop into a quality NFL player.
Perrilloux played last season for former Giants assistant Chris Palmer with the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League. He finished his college career at Jacksonville State after starting out as the nation’s No. 1 high school recruit at LSU.
His tumultuous stay in Baton Rouge ended in spring 2008, when coach Les Miles kicked him off the team for "not fulfilling his obligation as a student-athlete." He transferred to Jacksonville State, where as a senior in 2009 he threw for 2,350 yards and 23 touchdowns, while rushing for 443 yards and eight touchdowns.
After being spurned in the NFL draft, he opted for the UFL. "I told him if he behaved himself and did what he was supposed to do, he might get some [NFL] chances down the road," Palmer said.
"He behaved himself and did what he was supposed to do. We had no problem with him at all. He was always on time and never got into any trouble. I think he’s just one of those kids who needed a second chance."
Palmer thinks with a little patience, the Giants could develop the 6-foot-2, 213-pound Perrilloux into a backup for Eli Manning. "He’s a very talented kid. He has a strong arm and reminds me of Tony Romo," said Palmer, who tutored Romo in Dallas.
I will take Palmer's word for that since he has the reputation of being one of the best quarterback coaches in the business. Now, Chris, will you just quit wasting your time in the UFL and follow Perrilloux back to the Giants? Please.