Final Thoughts Before The Start of the 2011 Season

It is GAMEDAY, football fans!  It has been 8 months wallowing through a lockout, rushing through free agency and playing preseason games without the requisite preparation.  But at least we have football, the game we love.  And we have our beloved Giants too.

With 600+ votes, we have ‘mode’ consensus for 10 wins and mean consensus for ~9.2 wins (weighting the top and bottom at 11.5 and 5.5).  For those of you who have not voted, we encourage you to vote (and comment) before the game begins (and voting closes) at 4PM.

I have already stated here on this blog that I am looking for 7-9. 

BUF, MIA
WAS, WAS
NFC WEST, WEST, WEST

That’s 7 wins right there people.  If this organization cannot win 7 games this season, that will be pathetic.

When you look at the schedule, the way it falls out is that 6 of those matchups above will take place in the first 7 weeks of the season.  Cream puffs.  So the Giants rate to be ~5-2 after 7 games, maybe even 6-1 if they can beat the St. Louis Rams at home.  Do not be surprised or uplifted by a “quick” start.  We cautioned in 2009 similarly that the banged up Giants had a “Gift” of the first 5 games where they could easily get out to a 4-1 (or even 5-0 if the beat Dallas) start before really being tested.  We know what happened thereafter… the 5 games of 40+ point poundings etc..  So in the same vein, we are looking at a tale of 2 seasons.  The first 7 games and the last 9 games.  The real season begins in Week 9 (because of the bye) vs the Patriots.  REPEAT: the real season begins in Week 9 vs the Patriots.  Will we learn about what the team has in games vs the Eagles and Rams early?  Yes, but those games will occur amidst a general sloppiness of post-lockout syndrome.  Whether the Giants start 0-3 or 3-0,   

THE REAL SEASON BEGINS WEEK 9 VS THE PATRIOTS

In the last 9 games, the Giants play DAL DAL NE NYJ NO GB PHL.  Yes, they do play SF and WAS too, but it is those 7 games which will be no walk in the park.  Let’s see what we have.  When we play New England.  That is when we can begin to measure this team.  

Last season I predicted 8-8.  The team put together 10 wins.  Was I wrong?  No, not about the Giants.  What I was wrong about was just how weak the Giants schedule was.  You see, the Giants played against teams that were collectively 116-140.  1-4 vs playoff teams.  It is this blogger’s contention that the Giants were not ready for primetime because their coaching staff would be the weakest link.  And I still hold to that premise a year later. 

Why am I less optimistic?

It is worth rereading the review of the last game of the season, vs the Washington Redskins.  I ask you, objectively- WHAT HAS CHANGED SINCE THAT DAY? 

Shockingly, not a single coach on the staff of Tom Coughlin has been let go.  Yes, Tom told us to kiss his a**.  I do not like this coaching staff.  I do not like Gilbride’s inability to consistently leverage the talent of his players.  I do not like Gilbride’s inability to adapt to intragame and intergame situations based on personnel and conditions.  I dislike Fewell’s passive schemes, which work well against weaker QBs and flounder vs the best.  I abhor our special teams and conditioning coach.  The QBs coach is not a former QB, so Eli gets little help there.  In a league where the talent is very even across most teams, coaching is paramount to leverage talent and adapt to conditions.  I am no big fan of Mike Francesa, but he’s got it right when he emphatically and unequivocally states that coaching is most important (by a wide margin) in the NFL over all major sports leagues.  This year, on top of everything else, the Giants did not have a good free agency period and it lost the most players in the league to season-ending injuries.  THIS DOES NOT GIVE COUGHLIN or his coaches an asterisk.  GB, remind you, won a Super Bowl with the loss of much bigger (key) players than we have lost.

I ask again, what has changed?  At the end of last season, the owner John Mara stated that Linebacker would be the highest priority.  What we saw was the Giants inject a lot of late/undrafted rookies, which will possibly help for the future but does not give a higher PROBABILITY of help for this team.  

We do not think Coughlin was held accountable in 2008, 2009 or 2010 (and neither did Wallace Matthews).  We do not see how Jerry Reese has accepted accountability.  The result is no changes.  So clearly the lines have been drawn, given the narrow 1 yr extension that Coughlin received.  The last time this scenario occurred, it was 2007 and to be fair, we wanted Coughlin’s head then too.  So you are entitled to argue that this is a great setup.  The argument here is that THIS IS NOTHING AT ALL LIKE 2007.  For starters, in 2007, Coughlin was uncomfortable, “changed” and installed two brand new coordinators.  Gilbride’s playcalling was new, the patterns were not immediately discernible, and Steve Spagnuolo’s pressure defense was new too.  So 2007 had change.  In 2011, there has been NO CHANGE.  We do not expect the underachievement of the Spagnuolo-less Giants to change.  Is it is possible for their to be change?  Yes, but we think it less likely.  Not with Coughlin, Gilbride, Fewell, and Quinn all back.  We will apologize for a lack of optimism as the season begins.  But we will not apologize for airing truthful and objective opinions.  We prefer to be more optimistic than this, but unfortunately we cannot be.  We will root for the team as hard as possible, but that does not mean we have to endorse the lack of change that we felt was necessary to improve the results. 

Summary: GO GIANTS!  SUPER BOWL OR BUST!  Do not use the first 7 games as a large indicator of the success or failure of the team.  The last 9 games will be far more indicative of the mettle and validity of this team.  Coughlin is our coach once again, we don’t like his assistants or his chances, but he is our coach and we have to support him. I am on record for 7-9, but that is completely irrelevant now.  Let’s play the games and root in the team.

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