If you read through my posts about football here over the years, you’ll conclude I don’t know much about football, despite avidly following the Giants, and more generally the sport, since the mid-80′s. I doubt I’ve missed more than a handful of Giants games in the last 25 years – literally. And yet I went into this year’s Super Bowl figuring the Giants to lose by 7+, and over the course of this season, never, including during every playoff game, figuring the Giants had a strong shot to win. * Shame on me. Some quick hits:
* Tom Coughlin gets a pass from me, from now until he retires. Twice he’s brought underdog teams to the Superbowl and against everyone’s expectations come away with the win. Their consistent mid-season collapses have driven me mad the last ~5 years, but I cannot argue with success and I give him a ton of credit for it.
* Eli Manning really came into his own this year, and was the most significant factor in the Giants success this year. This is not to take anything away from JPP, Cruz, Osi, and a number of other contributors, but Eli was playing behind a mediocre line with an underperforming running game all season, and yet he had a career year, bringing the team back from behind seemingly half of their games. Unlike in many of his previous seasons, he also couldn’t count on an above average defense to help keep the team in the games. It was on him, more often than not, and he stepped up. I also think if there’s anyone left who still thinks the Giants ‘overpaid’ to get Eli from San Diego back when, they need to go eat a bucket of poo. If you didn’t think he was worth it after the first win against the Patriots (and if not, what’s wrong with you?) you have no leg left to stand on now.
* The Super Bowl was phenomenal. As I said, I figured the Pats to win, based on their passing attack being better than our pass defense and their having a chip the size of Manhattan on their shoulders after the Giants stopped them from becoming the de facto ‘best NFL team ever’ the last time they met in the Super Bowl. Plus, the Giants had played ‘stink up the joint’ let-down games all season (the loss to Seattle, the 2 Redskin losses, the Miami ‘we only won because of Eli’, and the loss to the Eagles, facing a washed up bust of a QB and a team on the ropes) , and their entire playoff run, including the Super Bowl, I kept figuring on it happening again. Wonder of wonders, it didn’t. The Giants did just enough to win. Tom Brady safety on the first Pats Drive is my 4th favorite superbowl play ever, after 1) Ingram’s 3rd down catch in the Giants’s Bills Superbowl where he broke through like 7 defenders, 2) The Eli/Tyree hookup where Eli eluded a sack then tossed a ball that Tyree caught off his helmet in the first Pats/Giants Superbowl, 3) Eli to Burress FTW in the first Pats/Giants Superbowl. I love the safety so much because at the time it felt like it was a tone-setter, and suddenly after coming into the game full of apprehension, I had hope, hope I tell ya!
Truth be told I didn’t ‘enjoy’ the game until it was over. I spent most of the game pacing back and forth in front of the TV, waiting for Brady to put it together, leading to me freaking out by the end of the 2nd and all of the 3rd quarter. I was convinced we would lose. I’ve taped the game so I can watch it again and actually enjoy it on a play by play basis.
* I still dislike Kevin Gilbride and wish he was off coaching some other team’s offense. I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to reach into the screen and strangle him over the course of a season of ‘let’s run it into the line for a -2/+2 running play, for the 9th time this game.’ Maybe he’s a genius and knows that keeps the safeties up near the line to open up the passing attack, I don’t know. Certainly he has Super Bowl rings and all I have is this blog full of inaccurate football predictions Still, I loathe his predictable play calling and wish he would play to the teams’ strengths instead of doggedly sticking to the same script game after game.
I hope Cruz and JPP get paid this offseason, they deserve it. I’d be happy to see the Giants find a way to bring Manningham back for another year, though it seems unlikely. I’d love to see them find a tight end of two – I don’t hate Ballard but figure we can do better. They need to find offensive lineman, at least one more solid linebacker, and they need at least a couple of defensive backs. I think it’s time to say a fond farewell to Jacobs. Next season will be tough for them – tough schedule (lets hope the Eagles coming on strong towards the end of the seasons is not a harbinger of next season), everyone gunning for them, and some serious gaps on both sides of the ball. Still, given what they pulled off this season?!?! Who knows
*( I did think they *could* beat the Falcons, and I thought they had a decent chance against San Fran, but based on how uneven they had played all season, I went into each game figuring ‘this is when they have their down game.’)