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Dallas at Giants
Posted By Eric From BBI On September 25, 2007 @ 1:49 pm In | Comments Disabled
by Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com
Approach to the Game: My heart says "Go Giants!" but my head knows that the Giants are going to get rolled this Sunday. Before folks jump all over me, consider these facts:
And the last factor is that this team is simply imploding. Their focus seems to be everywhere except their next opponent. Let’s review some of the highlights:
And all of this is happening despite Tom Coughlin’s repeated efforts to keep things in house. His players are not listening him or not paying attention. As I pointed out in my Titans’ game review yesterday, the Giants are more of a soap opera than a football team (and I wrote that before the latest Strahan incident). The quasi-conspiracy theorists out there are arguing that much of this is orchestrated in order to take the focus off of the struggles of Eli Manning or the current three-game losing streak, but the Giants are not that clever. This is simply the case of a team with questionable leadership – both on the roster and on the coaching staff.
And let’s not forget coaching blunders that obviously have the players questioning their own coaching staff – the 51-yard field goal attempt into the wind against the Bears, the decision to run the ball only 13 times against the Jaguars, and the 2-and-4 shotgun pass against the Titans with a three touchdown lead.
This team is on the verge of a total meltdown. I have the same leery feeling I had in 2003 after the loss to Atlanta. Heading into that game, the 4-4 Giants were very still much alive with only half the season over. But after the game, I wrote the following before the Giants proceeded to lose eight games in a row and Fassel and the Giants decided to part ways:
November 12, 2003
Game Overview: The movie line that came to mind after the Giants’ embarrassing loss to the lowly Atlanta Falcons comes from the film Patton. Towards the conclusion of the movie, there is a scene where Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, staring up at the wartime strategic situation map with the Russians moving into Berlin and the Americans approaching the Elbe River, says "This is the End. The End."
The Fassel regime has about two more months of life, then it is over. There are no miracles left. There are no excuses. This team that was supposed to contend for the NFC East title is currently residing in the division basement. Injuries are only now mounting, but they weren’t an issue up until this point – so that can’t be used as an excuse. The season was sabotaged by special teams disasters against the Cowboys and Eagles, turnovers and an inability to produce points against the Dolphins and Patriots, and a complete no-show against the Falcons.
Despite press stories to the contrary, this isn’t the first time under Fassel that the Giants didn’t come mentally ready to play on game day. The contests against Detroit in 2000, and the Cardinals, Eagles (away game where Philly rushed for 300 yards), and Falcons in 2002 immediately come to mind. But this wasn’t Jim Fassel’s biggest problem. Fassel’s biggest problem was that his Giants’ teams won when they weren’t expected to win, but lost when they were expected to contend. In the six year’s from 1997 to 2002, Fassel’s teams made the playoffs three times, won two division titles, and an NFC Championship. But those successes came in the "rebuilding" years of 1997, 2000, and 2002. The Giants of 1998, 2001, and 2003 were supposed to be good teams. The irony is that if these trends were flip-flopped, the heat would be on General Manager Ernie Accorsi rather than Fassel.
Among a certain group of Giants’ fans, there is a palpable sense of giddiness that Jim Fassel is on his way out. Excuse me for not being one to join in their celebration. What we are watching is the downfall of a GOOD man…a man who lives and breathes New York Giants football. He is part of the Giants’ family and that makes him one of us. But at the same time, we will never understand the tremendous personal sacrifice, heartache, and emotional toll being the head coach of this football team has taken on him. I have bitched and moaned about Fassel in the past, only later to come to his defense once again because I realize that Fassel is a hard-working, intelligent, sensitive man who loves his family and his players. He wanted nothing more than to make the Giants winners. How can you root against a guy like that?
But the bottom line in this sport is winning. Winning is the ultimate denominator, especially when expectations are at their highest. When a team falls short of that goal, it is far easier to fire the coaching staff than it is the players. In addition, at a certain point, how the head coaching situation is addressed becomes a public relations matter. Ownership and management seldom can ignore the outcry of the masses who call for blood.
Why didn’t Fassel’s teams win when the expectations were higher? It’s a good question. For some reason, the team always seemed to lack a sense of urgency until the season was on the brink. There always seemed to some crisis, offensive inconsistency, and special teams problems throughout his regime. As the offense personnel improved, the defensive personnel deteriorated. The 1997 New York Giants was one of the best defensive teams I’ve seen the Giants field; the 2003 New York Giants’ defense is mediocre at best. Fassel also made the mistake of picking Johnnie Lynn to succeed John Fox.
Contrary to the Falcon fiasco, Fassel’s teams usually came to play on game day. The level of coaching was fundamentally sound and the players respected their coach and most of the coaching staff. But one rarely was left with the impression that Fassel and his staff had out-coached their opponent. Put Fassel up against the likes of a Bill Belichick, or Jeff Fisher, and Fassel was left wanting. So were the halftime adjustments. Does that make Fassel a bad coach? Of course not. He is an average coach in an average league.
So at season’s end, General Manager Ernie Accorsi will fire Fassel. Accorsi will pick a new head coach and likely retire after the 2004 season. This will be a mistake. What Accorsi should do is be a man and step down at the same time that he fires Fassel. Let his successor pick his own head coach since this is coach he will have to feel comfortable in working with. George Young made the mistake of leaving the Giants a year too late as well.
I get the same bad feeling about this situation. If the Giants lose to Dallas – and lose badly – it is quite possible that the wheels will come off and the Giants may not win another game in 2006. If so, it will be their third season with an eight-game losing streak in four years. Coughlin – despite his connection to the Maras – may not survive. Wellington and Bob have passed on and Accorsi is retiring. Without Wellington’s shadow, and with a new head coach and general manager, not only will this be Tiki’s last season with the Giants, it could be the end for Strahan and Toomer. Those three have been the face of the Giants for a decade. It might all be over soon. We might see another massive roster shake-up.
That all said, the Giants do have a chance to win on Sunday, albeit a slim one. They can still save their season, their coaches, and their own jobs. In my opinion, the key to this game will be staying in the game early. The Giants not only need to keep the fans in the game and on their side, but they also need to do well for their own self-confidence. Parcells knows this. Look for him to go for the throat early with a bomb to Terrell Owens. I think the Giants have to use a ball-control game on offense – a lot of runs and short passes – in order to keep the pressure (both mental and physical) off of Eli as well as keep the potentially explosive Dallas offense off the field. The Giants also MUST get some turnovers on defense and play well on special teams. That’s a lot to ask for. Dallas QB Tony Romo has been as accurate a quarterback the last two games as I’ve ever seen in the NFL. He’s not making mistakes.
Say a prayer for the G-Men…they are going to need it.
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