ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? The exact thoughts that ran through my head as I witnessed the downfall of the 2010 campaign of the New York Giants. DeSean Jackson, wide receiver for Philly, fumbles the punt, picks it up, and bolts down field within seconds to win the game... That was the moment when the Giants had lost it all. They lost composure, confidence and motivation...
Now the questions that all teams who did not make the playoffs ask themselves begin to swirl around the offseason: What did we do wrong?
Was it the coach staff? The play-calling or the playbook? The wrong formations? The wrong draft class? The wrong starting lineups? The wrong set of players?
As Giants fans, we all say we have the answer, the cure, the blueprint. The much needed formula to find the solution. In truth, we never know what the formula is. I guarantee that no one will truthfully admit that our '07 Big Blue Team would've made it to Super Bowl XLII (42 for those who forgot). But be that as it may, I feel that I may have a simple four-step game plan for the Gmen in order to salvage a team that potentially gone to the big dance again at least two of the last three years.
Step One: Decrease loyalty to players and coaches!
The one flaw that has disrupted the team the most over the last decade has to be the owners' loyalty to both player and coach alike. What do I mean you ask? It's simple, analyze particular situations and you'll get what I mean.
-Derrick Ward: This guy had a roster spot for three seasons before he even saw a significant role. He should have been cut long before his shot. But instead, he stood on the roster, and after two straight valuable breakout years, they team releases him in fear of a huge contract to keep him. Ridiculous. Either he should have never had his shot, or at least keep him two more seasons. One can make the argument that he hasn't done much since he left, proving his aging being a factor. But I know keeping him in New York would have given him life.
-Kevin Gilbride: This has to be the most obvious example. The higher ups probably focus on the apparent versatility of the offense under Gilbride. In 2009, there was no running game, but fans saw a different Eli Manning (a Pro Bowl one) emerge as he eclipsed his first 4000 yard season. This past year, the same could be said, after a fantastic running and passing combination, with 6th and 10th NFL rankings respectively. But there's no fire to this offense. Once the team is down, it's hard to see some spark ignite a comeback effort, with receivers never open and Eli forcing passes down field, resulting in not just a mediocre 36% Third down conversion percentage, but 40+ turnovers as well, interceptions and fumbles galore. Gilbride should be cut to bring in a more creative play caller who demands respect and is unpredictable.
-Special Teams: Change is just needed. Instead of using a player already on the roster who could bring a spark to the return game after losing Domenik Hixon, the Giants give return duties to Darius Reynaud, and Will Blackmon, two ineffective returners. From the beginning, Aaron Ross should have been inserted as the main guy. Not only is he just the nickel back, so he's not so valuable, but he was a fantastic returner in college that averaged over 11 yards a punt return. Give him a chance! But it didn't come until Week 16 against Green Bay. Tom Quinn needs to go.
Step Two: Make some moves!
Whether it be the draft, or free agency, the Giants never seem to feisty in their pursuit of the players they want. Although the collective bargaining agreement is still being negotiated, it will get done! Who doesn't want football? Regardless, the Giants need to pursue players harder. No more being reluctant or passive. Honestly within the last decade the best, most prominent signings the Giants made were three that I can recall: Plaxico Burress, LaVar Arrington, and Antrel Rolle. Rolle is the most recent and he's done alright despite his loose mouth. Arrington was a complete failure of an experiment, and Burress...well you already know. There has been no other star or exciting pick up that us fans could be excited about. The draft is another venue of epic proportions that falls short. Trade up and grab some players. I can't count how many times my father has complained that the Giants didn't trade up to grab Rey Maualaga a few years ago. Please New York, make a move!
Step Three: Be aggressive, B-E- aggressive!
The one thing I can't stand about Giants football as a Giants fan, is the consistent conservative play calling. I wouldn't mind seeing something a bit unpredictable, something a little out of the ordinary by the Giants. There's no wildcat, no reverses, no tailback passes, no wide receiver passes, no pitches on the return game, NOTHING! Giants football consists of simple aspects to make up every side of the game. Offense: Run, then pass! Defense: Hit the quarterback, stop the run. Special teams: Just catch the ball and get at least 5 yards. Let's put some fire in their to help the players get hype. On offense, run some trick plays, throw on first down, or maybe 3 or 4 downs straight. Taking shots down field might be another option right? Who knows! The Giants never really do it, unless Eli does and we all as fans know we hold our breath thinking, "Pick...". On defense, I love the blitzing formations but let's get the team a bit more fired up. Tuck is the only guy I saw with tenacity every down. Attack, attack, attack! And how about some press coverage? I don't know how many times I counted seeing backed off coverage and then we see a deep pass... Really guys? Let's change "Giants" football. Fundamentals and basic ball will get you places, but not always the big game. Of the last three Super Bowls, each possessed teams with very electrifying passing games. Giants ball can be that way too, not just a run heavy team.
Finally Step Four: Let's give time outs...
So many people lauded Coach Tom Coughlin for changing his ways in wake of a Super Bowl win from disciplinarian to compassionate. But that has to change back. This Giants team looked dumbfounded, lazy, slack and apathetic in so many games where they were playing from behind. Players made mental mistakes and some plays looked very weak by others. Coughlin needs to re-inject that fiery attitude to hype up the players and keep them motivated. This team is younger than that championship one from a few years ago. Let's get aggressive here too Coughlin!
Well there it is, the four steps we need. Hopefully, Giants fans will see some change come to New York Sports. The Jets did it! Going from footnote to headliners, despite their news-making relating to more negative connotations. The Knicks did it! Getting Amar'e Stoudemire and now pushing for Carmelo Anthony. The Mets did it! Finally firing Jerry Manuel. Maybe we'll see some more riveting changes coming from Big Blue this year... Let's hope fellow fans.
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