Let’s hit a few points from Sunday’s debacle so that we can get the proper perspective on this game.
1) THE ONSIDE KICK.
Andy Reid had to change the momentum of the game. Yes, Reid was a boner on two un-challenged plays. Shaun O’Hara: “Professional football is a momentum game.” Reid’s call for the onside kick was a momentum changer.
There are 7 minutes left and the Giants are going to get the ball TWICE. So everyone in their right mind understands the NEED for an onside kick. The Eagles were going to have to force a Giants mistake, either at this juncture or after the next TD (if the Eagles could score again). When was the best time to run the onside kick? When the other team is not expecting it!!! And that is exactly what Reid did. He opted for the onside kick only when the Giants were set up without the hands team. If they had the hands team on the field, Reid said he would not have done it.
2) PREVENT DEFENSE.
How does a defense go from stopping Michael Vick for 7.5 quarters in a row, to all of a sudden giving up 220 yards of offense in ~7 minutes? Justin Tuck: “We kind of got into some prevent defenses early in the fourth quarter, kind of a bend but don’t break.” (Read: Cover2.) The Giants made the impossible possible by changing their defense and playing into the Eagles’ hands. Rule #15: The only thing that the prevent defense prevents you from doing is winning the game.
What is Justin Tuck going to do for us in coverage on Celek, versus what he can do for us in pressuring and containing Michael Vick? Answer- very little.
3) COUGHLIN’S COMMENTS AND ACTIONS AFTER THE GAME.
On the onside kick: “We didn’t put our hands team in there, no. There were still seven and a half minutes to go and they were down two scores, so we didn’t think it was necessary to do that at that time.”
On the onside kick: “We talked about the onside kick as a possibility.” That’s what he said, what did we see? We saw the Giants players leaning backwards BEFORE THE KICK WENT OFF. And they were 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage, not 10 yards.
On the onside kick: “all people up front, again, were told to watch out for the onside kick.” That’s what he said, what did we see? What we saw was every single player on the Giants running the opposite direction. Every single player. What are the odds of every single upfield player being told to watch for the onside kick and ALL of them leaning/headed in the opposite direction?
At halftime: “Everybody was talking about just finishing the game – nothing-nothing, 30 minutes to go.” That’s what he said, what did we see? We did not see a team playing a game at 0-0. What we saw was the prevent and that is not 0-0.
4) PREVENT OFFENSE.
In the second half the offense ground to a halt. After amassing 255 yds in H1, the Giants offense generated drives of 8 yds, 8 yds, 20 yds, 33 yds, 47 yds (short field TD), 25 yds, -7 yds. Where was the need or sense of urgency of a 0-0 halftime score?
5) ELI MANNING’S PLAYERS-ONLY MEETING.
Antrel Rolle: “He just told us to put it behind us, we know what went wrong, and let’s just keep fighting. Sometimes it’s best to have your back against the wall and right now we have our back against the wall so we’re just going to come out swinging.” Unfortunately, Eli is not his own man. He is a company guy. He will support coaches and management, to a fault. Was Eli fiery? Did Eli demand more from his teammates or did he do the platitudes? While on the surface, Eli asserting himself is a positive, it is hollow because Eli only knows one key. Last week we went to his defense and carried his water. He had a good game. But Eli does not stand up to his coaches and (with the exception of one game earlier this season, when he exploited tape on his own) does not have the authority to be his own man. Was Eli talking for Coughlin or himself?
Summary: Based on what was said (halftime, end of game) vs what took place on the field, if we are polite these things are labeled inconsistencies. If we are less than politically correct, they are total fabrications. Probably the most damning comment of everything here was from Justin Tuck, who candidly admitted that the schemes changed in Q4. But wasn’t that in a direct contradiction to coming into the second half with the score tied 0-0? Last year we had 5 defensive implosions with wholesale underachievement. This year we have risen to competitive heights, but when it really counted, the team collapsed in arguably its worst regular season loss in history. The players have worked hard this year. The coaches have not supported that effort.