Tag Archives: Tom Coughlin

Big Blue Thoughts Week 7

Ten thoughts following the Giants 31-21 defeat at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T stadium in Dallas, Texas.

1. The Cowboys are good….- Naturally I reserve the right to change my mind but the eye test proves it.  The Cowboys are playing sound, power football and have the playmakers on the outside to make you pay if you overcompensate in the box (nice sexual reference I know).  The offensive line is basically the best unit going in all of football- better than the Legion of Boom Seattle secondary.  They are winning individual battles at the point of attack and helping to win games for the Cowboys.  The defense, as a result, doesn’t need to play as much and allows them to be fresh.  Remember, this is a unit that lost its two best players and still sits as the 22nd best team defense based on total yards surrendered, giving up the 15th most yards per game, 18th most pass yards, 21st most rush yards, and tied with Green Bay for 16th most points given up.  So how does a team that has a +1 turnover differential get such acclaim?  Because Rod Marinelli has tied scheme with the pieces given and formed a unit that likely will have to continue playing great football for not so long stretches of the game.  This is a team that had the ball for more than 31 minutes in the game they lost in San Francisco, then had it for more than 41 minutes in Tennessee, almost 35 minutes against the Saints, 36 minutes in OT against Houston, nearly 38 minutes in Seattle, and 33 minutes against the Giants.  The only time they LOST the time of possession game was against the Rams, where they had to pass their way to victory after going down 21-0 midway through the second quarter.  This is a team that makes no bones about its offensive identity: they will run the football with a physically imposing running back who has finally managed to stay healthy and the minute they think you’re cheating at the line of scrimmage they will throw the football to a physically imposing wide receiver who’s on the short list for dominant wide receivers in the sport.

Do I trust the defense in the second half of the season when the weather turns cold?  Just looking at their next month, they go against Washington on Monday night, Arizona at home, and then travel to Jacksonville before they hit their bye.  They could enter their bye 8-2 if we are to assume that they lose to Arizona and even then you can’t assume anything.  Then the schedule gets a bit more daunting.  Sunday night against the Giants, then a quick turnaround against the Eagles on Thanksgiving day, followed a week later by a game at the who knows where mentally they will be Chicago Bears, ten days later at the Eagles for what could be pole position in the division, home for the Colts and then close out the season against the Washington Redskins. who may have Robert Griffin back healthy with what looks like a slate of solid weapons.  If one were an optimist, and say the Cowboys run the table till the bye, let’s say they split the Eagles games, sweep the other two divisional opponents, and lose to the Bears and Colts, we’re still talking a 12-4 regular season.  Here’s where the Tony Romo, Jason Garrett era has always hit a hard thud, there will be one or two losses that could slip into that dreamy scenario that could ultimately undo them, but this iteration of the Cowboys seems markedly different than the play for the division on the final day of the season Cowboys teams that always stopped short.

Based on the records as it stands, the Eagles face a tougher stretch.  The Eagles have Dallas twice, but also have yet to play Seattle and they draw Green Bay by virtue of winning the division last year.  Let’s assume they beat Arizona at home which is no easy feat, and then beat Houston and Carolina.  Let’s say they split one of the two against the Cowboys and split one of two against the Green Bay and Seattle teams and then win out.  That’s a 13-3 record for the Eagles.  I trust the Eagles defense more than I do trust the Cowboys defense and those two divisional games between the two will be huge especially the December 14th showdown at Philadelphia.  Should be an interesting 2 months to see this drama play out in Big D and Broad Street.

2. …this loss means the end for the Giants? Technically no one is officially knocked out but look at the two schedules and the if everything plays out as it should scenarios for the two teams- Dallas, would wind up 12-4 or 13-3 and Philly would go 13-3.  The best record the Giants could get now is 12-4 and thats by running the table Jim Fassel style.  That means beating Indy and San Fran at home and then beating Seattle AT Seattle and then also beating Dallas and Philly once which would make things interesting again.  They end the regular season in Philly.  But to get there, they would have to get through that tough stretch completely unscathed and there’s no evidence that the Giants even make it out of that stretch 1-2.  Remember, these two games were as must-win as must-win can be this early in the season and they failed both times.  If you think the wild card will be there for the taking consider that one of the two spots will be taken by the Dallas/Philly group and the other spot will likely come from the NFC West who have the defending champions, the Niners, the Cardinals and a suddenly dangerous Rams team.  Good luck trying to slip in through the wild card.  Crazier things have happened and Giants fans can attest to that.  It will be difficult to envision the Giants going any better than 10-6 and barely missing the playoffs.  Of course, as the season goes on, you have the out of nowhere injuries to significant players.  The Cowboys don’t have the kind of depth on defense that can afford any type of major injury.  The Eagles are a sound team but if LeSean McCoy doesn’t start performing better and the offensive line continues to have the kind of injuries they already have had (they are playing without Evan Mathis and Jason Kelce), the season could turn and the Eagles could start to suffer.  But I still like the Eagles and Cowboys thanks to their schedules to make it out with double digit wins more so than the Giants.

3. Is it time to put an end to the fairy tale that was Larry Donnell? No.  Physically he’s still a match up nightmare.  Mentally one has to wonder if the young kid can put the two costly turnovers late in the fourth that ultimately cost the Giants Sunday’s game.  We won’t have the answer to that for a few weeks, but the Giants have capable players up and down the roster offensively to start making a difference and the “next man up” philosophy will be put to the test if he doesn’t take care of the football better.  One thing we’ve learned about Coach Coughlin is that he HATES players with fumbling issues and isn’t a coach that takes kindly to mental mistakes.  It bears watching how Coughlin handles this in terms of the depth chart.  Daniel Fells continues to be steady and reach the end zone, but I know coming into the season  The Giants are heading into the bye and perhaps time off will heal the wound of Donnell’s fumble but Coughlin will remind the young TE that a 3 TD performance in Washington does NOT a career make.  The play in question wound up being a 14 point swing when Donnell fumbled at the New York 27.  The Cowboys scored 4 plays later with a 1 yard TD run by DeMarco Murray.

4. Eli Manning continues to be mistake free….- But the Giants keep losing.  Eli’s career record when throwing for at least 2 TD’s and zero interceptions is 21-6 (.777 win pct).  Coincidentally three of the six losses were to the Cowboys.    When the Giants handed the offense to Ben McAdoo one of his chief responsibilities was to reduce the amount of interceptions thrown by Eli.  He’s already done a fantastic job.  Eli has thrown 5 interceptions in 7 games.  Compare that to 2013 when he had thrown his 5th interception by the fourth quarter of game number two.  The biggest question surrounding Eli has always been about his erratic play but there’s no doubt that the early returns on this new offense have been good.  Eli has limited his mistakes and some of that is due to the fact that he is no longer forcing the issue when being under pressure.  He’s making sure to throw those god-awful short throws at the knees of his running back rather than throw it and hope for the best.  Think about the effect that has on an offensive line that everyone agrees has not improved as much as the Giants brass would have liked.  The offensive line is projected to give up 10 fewer sacks this year than last and that’s with an eight sack performance at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles on their register.  While the benefits may not be seen now, mistake free football is what helped win two Super Bowls.  This can only lead to better things.

5. Andre Williams isn’t there yet.- And that’s ok.  The rookie was thrust into a role after a few highlights of him lowering the boom on some unsuspecting cornerback.  But you’re now seeing why he wasn’t projected as high on team’s draft boards.  He’s not as quick or shifty as the superstar running backs in the league.  He’s a pound it out in between the tackles 4 yards at a time the hard way kind of guy.  Those guys age quick.  Its the guys that can avoid the hits that last in the league and Williams hasn’t learned that trick yet.  Jennings, another big back, did a great job when he was healthy of showing burst once he hit the hole.  Williams runs into the hole and finds very little room to operate because he didn’t read the hole correctly.  That will come with time and repetition.  The Giants brought in former Jet Alex Green and former Cowboy Felix Jones for workouts but that’s more as a contingency.  They believe Jennings will be healthy enough to play after the bye.  But it does bear watching how reverting back to a part time role could make Williams more productive or if it has a negative impact on his development.  If he is in fact the future feature back, these few games may be the best thing for his development.

6. The defensive line is going back into its shell- The Giants went up against two above average (Philly) to really good (Cowboys) offensive lines and failed both times to generate any consistent rush.  Yes, their performance in Dallas was significantly better than it was in Philadelphia where it seemed like the Giants weren’t in the same league as the Eagles, but again a breakdown in fundamentals led to critical scores for the Cowboys.  Terrance Williams’ touchdown catch saw Tony Romo break to his left once he realized that JPP had taken an inside route to get the sack and he had acreage to run or stop, set himself and throw a touchdown strike to Terrance Williams.  It was similar to watching the Giants break contain against Shady McCoy.  The way to stop shifty players is to force them to try and go straight when they really want to run left or right.  Shady and Tony Romo are adept enough to wait for you as the defender to make the first move and give away where you’re going to try and get them so that they can instinctively make a counter-move.  The importance of being patient and allowing the player to fall into the hands of the defense are vital and the Giants failed both times.  During 2011, JPP had a knack for making the sure tackle and being excellent in run support because he was able to hold the point of attack on running plays and force the runner to either go way outside or shift back inside which led to short or no gain.  That’s the kind of performance we need.  Coach Nunn has promised to unleash DaMontre Moore and shift Kiawunuka to the inside on certain passing downs to generate  a pass rush but he said it with the nugget that he doesn’t think DaMontre Moore is necessarily ready to make that leap.  The Giants, more so than others, can be hamstrung by what they see in practice.  They recognize talent but if the talent doesn’t perform from Monday-Saturday they won’t trust it Sunday.  I’m not going to second guess them because their method has worked.  But sometimes you have to take chances that don’t have anything to do with your hand being forced due to injury.

7. Who deserves more credit? Tony Romo or Demarco Murray- Its a popular question but I offer this response: the offensive line.  That offensive line has changed everything for the Cowboys and I beg someone to say that the offensive line’s performance hasn’t been what has spurred the Cowboys resurgence this year.  As I wrote earlier, their affect on how long the defense has to stay out there, or their ability to wear opposing defenses out can’t be felt until the third and fourth quarter.  It reminds me of the offensive line the Giants had in late 2007  and throughout most of 2008.  The rushing stats for the Giants were unbelievable because the offensive line dominated the point of attack and forced the issue and moved buildings out of the way for the runners to run through.  Giving Tony Romo, an already talented quarterback, a running game and an offensive line that can pass protect well is creating the illusion that the Cowboys have an extra receiver on passing situations and a big TE blocking on running situations: it looks unfair.

8.  Why didn’t the Giants just keep passing it last Sunday?-  That’s a very good question and one that I think has more to do with how the game was being played and how close the game was until five minutes left.  Yes, the Giants were having success passing the football.  Eli played another fantastic, mistake free game.  But the fact is Tom Coughlin has always preached balance and he won’t change the identity of his team to suit the narrative of ONE game.  Remember, the Giants were trailing the Cowboys by 7 with 5:28 left in the game so there was no reason to panic and deviate from the game plan.  There is some merit to the thinking that perhaps the Giants should’ve gone pass heavy to set up the run and flip the script.  In the fourth quarter the Giants went pass heavy calling 12 pass plays to 4 run plays.  Technically the Giants did go pass heavy but two fumbles by Larry Donnell extinguished any chance of the Giants being able to score.  It will be interesting how the play calling changes if Rashard Jennings does not return after the bye.  Will the Giants rely heavily on the pass game?

9. Hey Rook, you’re a veteran now- That’s the headline that screamed this week as Victor Cruz’s injury now forces Odell Beckham to come into his own as a veteran.  I’m one of those guys who views injuries like this as opportunities for players who have the skill to put their talent on full display and I believe that Beckham will do just that.  I’m a fan of his route running, and his ability to get down the field and create mismatches.  Judging by “Drafting Giants” the NFL Films production that aired as a miniseries on the NFL Network, the Giants thought the world of him and love his pedigree; both his parents were professional athletes.  I did find it surprising that the Giants would be vocal about expanding his role in the offense.  There’s a difference in the tone that the Giants speak about him than say a Damontre Moore, a second year defensive end that the Giants feel similarly enthused about.  While Moore physically is able to dominate at the line of scrimmage, there are concepts he still is having problems with.  Beckham, who’s early injury put doubt into people’s heads about his toughness, sprung from his first game and immediately made an impact.  Whether its his budding connection with Eli which seems to be almost instinctive, or its his other skills that were on display from the day the Giants and other teams scouted him, it just looks like the added responsibility won’t be too much for the rookie receiver to handle.  An Adrien Robinson who has been the tight end of the future while the Giants keep inviting one year tryouts for tight ends has found it difficult to make it on the field on Sundays, and almost found himself completely out after Larry Donnell’s breakout performance the first few weeks.  The Giants aren’t sending mixed signals.  Some players progress a lot quicker than others.  Its just a nature of the game and the point of the game is to win.  The best players make the plays on Sundays and the best players play on Sundays.  For rookies, that means growing up quicker than maybe the  traditional process says.  But I don’t think Beckham minds.

10. Looking ahead- Well a bye couldn’t have come at a better time.  It feels like a coming to God moment for the Giants.  I thought they had to, at the very least, split the series against the Eagles and Cowboys.  Now, the focus comes to Indianapolis who has been playing excellently recently and that offense led by Andrew Luck and old friend Ahmad Bradshaw.  The Giants last played the Colts when they had a young buck called Peyton Manning as their quarterback.  This version of the Colt QB is just as dangerous if not more thanks to his physique.  If you thought Tony Romo was tough to bring down, I promise you Luck will be tougher.  Sacking Luck will require multiple Giants converging at the QB and even then, he has the arm and upper body strength to get the football out.  If the Giants don’t get pressure on Luck it will be a long day.  One player to keep an eye on: Dwayne Allen.  He missed virtually all of last season following a hip injury that put him on the IR.  His ability to block and be an able member of the passing game was a huge loss for the Colts but the Colts are a resilient bunch.  It forced certain players to play a more pronounced role.  With Allen back, a lot of players can now take their rightful place in the offense.  The Colts won’t expect Colby Fleener to block.  He can play the Dallas Clark role by lining up outside of the down linemen.  Allen’s presence is huge in this offense and the reason they have rolled off the kind of numbers they have.  Interestingly enough, the Colts last year played the kind of murderer’s row of schedules the Giants will.  Starting in week 3 the Colts played the 49ers in San Fran, the Seahawks at home, the Chargers in San Diego and the Broncos in Indy in five weeks and went 3-1 in those games.  So the lesson here is that it can be done.  The mistake free Eli needs to play those games.  If not, the Giants may not stand a chance and a bad 0-2 stretch can stretch into a nightmarish midseason which will give way to a pointless end of season string of games.  The Giants are now forced to win nearly all of the next few games against the Colts (at home), Seahawks (in Seattle), Niners (at home) and Cowboys (at home) to even survive and keep up with the Cowboys and Eagles.  Let’s remember, they have to win all of their division games thanks to losing to the Eagles and Cowboys in consecutive weeks.  This will be an interesting after the bye stretch.

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Headlines 1/4/2013

act_carmelo_anthonyThe Knicks had been struggling for some time on defense and needed a team to come in to reinvigorate them on that end and wouldn’t you know it, the schedule read: San Antonio Spurs!  Yep, the Knicks not only beat the Spurs, sweeping the season series for the first time in nearly a decade, the Knicks dominated the Spurs on their home court.  Al Iannazzone of Newsday wrote that this was one of the more impressive showings by the Knicks this season beating what Mike Woodson calls “the best team in the NBA.”  Nate Taylor of the New York Times writes that after watching footage from games just six weeks ago when they had the best defense and offense, they were able to put on a vintage 2012 performance for the second game of 2013.  Mike Vaccaro of the Post thinks that there are stretches within the game that make you think about what can be for the Knicks.  Mitch Lawrence of the Daily News writes that maybe Spurs coach Greg Popovich should have sent his stars home, maybe the reserves would have put up a better effort against these Knicks in their fourth game in five night stretch.

A few things about this Knick game were encouraging, first and foremost being the defense.  Certain coaches bring an identity and can typecast their team.  Mike D’Antoni certainly has a reputation of being an offensive genius while ignoring defensive principles, while Mike Woodson is known for emphasizing defense.  I don’t doubt that both preach the other side of the ball that they are supposed to be not so well versed in, but sometimes you just get that reputation and its hard to shake it unless there’s a dramatic shift in their team’s play in that other side of the ball.  But the Knicks forged a defensive intensity that you just hadn’t seen from them.  My theories, in order, were 1. Jason Kidd, 2. Tyson Chandler, 3. Mike Woodson.  These three guys have won and know that the only way to win games in May and June is on the defensive side of the ball.  Kidd in particular has impressed me because he faces quicker guards on a regular basis, but his intelligence and quick hands are great equalizers and allow him to keep up with even the quickest of guards.  

Chandler has always played defense and last year was like the lone wolf howling at the moon and the Garden faithful enjoyed watching him play.  This season he has more help and certainly stands to gain more once Iman Shumpert returns.  This season, the Knicks just seem to know how to rotate better and know how to play with each other better because they have so many leaders on this team.  Whether its Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace (one Defensive player of the Year and the other, a member of the no-name Pistons squad in 04 that won the title), or Kurt Thomas on the bench, there’s so much veteran guidance and leadership and call me crazy, but maybe this was Grunwald’s plan all along: to have as many veteran voices on the bench to plead with Carmelo to play more defense and play more efficiently on offense.  

This win also speaks to the play of Pablo Prigioni.  Last year’s clear weakness was point guard play.  No doubt it contributed to the hype that Linsanity got and maybe inflated his value, but this year, the trio of Kidd, Felton and Prigioni have been such a better unit that its hard to remember the last time the Knicks got this kind of production from the position.  Prigioni, since preseason, has been doing that sneaky steal atleast twice a game and he again got a key steal and fed Carmelo for an easy two.  Every member of that team is confident with Prigioni in there and now with Felton out for four to six weeks, you don’t feel as uncertain.  Yes, I understand the concern people have with playing 35 and 40 year old point guards major minutes in games in January, but the hand has been dealt.  Its interesting that the Knicks have been experimenting with Shumpert at the point.  Perhaps getting youthful legs in there will be helpful, but having him as a primary ball handler is all good and well, but he has to be an instinctive point guard, otherwise he’s just another Toney Douglass: the full five second too late point guard who just never had the feel of a point guard.  Are the Knicks going to pay for playing these guys major minutes like this?  I’m sure.  But the fact is this is what they have to do and the Knicks just have to make do.

BTW, does anyone object to the whole JR Smith as our third most important player?  After Carmelo and Tyson, JR’s contributions off the bench- and its becoming nightly, are a reminder of how much of a luxury it is to have a guy that can create his own offense and can also spot up and score.  You can sit Carmelo for stretches when JR is going the way he is.  Does he have a ton of irrational confidence?  Sometimes.  But to play this game and to be good you have to.

Carmelo scored 23 but the most encouraging sign of his maturity came in two ways.  He was actively looking to pass out of double teams and rarely made a bad decision when he did and even if the relationship between he and Amare may be a forced partnership, its easy to see how comfortable and assured he is that he is the franchise cornerstone and he makes the Knicks go.  He tried desperately to get Amare involved in the offense in one series in the fourth, while the Knicks were building up their lead, passing it inside to Amare, who continued to do the fifteen pump fakes before putting up the shot that usually gets blocked (which is an indicator that he’s getting old and has lost most of the athleticism that made him a star), getting the rebound and then throwing it right back to Amare.  That comes from a confidence within that this is in fact his team and there’s no real threat there and I’m glad.  The only way for this to work is for Amare to understand his role on this team and that he’s going to be a third or fourth option depending on the set.  I do like that second team of offense that comes in behind the starting five when the Knicks bring in Novak, Prigioni, JR and Amar’e into the game.  Then you add in the stretch five of Rasheed and you certainly have the makings of a deep ten man rotation that could be formidable, depending on health, come May and June.

Rex Ryan tattoo of Mark Sanchez january 4And then there’s Rex Ryan.  The Daily News this morning published a picture of tanning Rex on a beach in the Bahamas sporting a tattoo of a woman (presumably his wife) sporting a Mark Sanchez jersey and….nothing else on his right arm.  This article in the Daily News is sure to make the rounds in the talk show universe today and adds another level of weirdness to this whole Jet soap opera.   Gary Meyers of the Daily News talks out all the problems that can arise from having a specific player’s name tatooed on the arm.  Mark Cannizzaro of the Post lists several enticing candidates for the Jets GM job and lists Tom Gamble the Director of Player Personnel of the San Francisco 49ers as the guy the Jets and Korn/Ferry should target to lead the Jets.  Finally the Pro Football Writers of America are ok with the fact that the Jets will only meet with the media on January 8th as opposed to the usual schedule of 7 days after the season ends.

This morning’s commute was extra  hilarious because of this story and usually when silly things like this happen, it makes radio and sports personalities very happy because it gives them a chance to be silly and boy do Boomer and Carton love doing silly.  Look, there’s nothing left to say about this except that the Jets look to be targeted by the media and they give them every reason to be targets.  In what universe could Rex think getting a tattoo of his wife ONLY wearing a Mark Sanchez jersey was a good idea?  There’s not a good enough explanation that you can have and one that I hope that we will hear come that very anticipated January 8th press conference.  For those wondering, I think if you were to rank what the Jets brain trust should be questioned about, it goes:

1. Why Mike Tannenbaum was fired and not Rex?

2. What were they thinking about with Tim Tebow and why, in their minds, were they not successful with him?

3.  How confident are you that Mark Sanchez can be fixed?

4.  Rex are you brain dead?  Why would you get a tattoo of your wife in a Sanchez jersey?

Those should be the first four questions out of the media’s mouth come January 8th.  How its anything else is beyond me.  Anyway, I hope Korn/Ferry is a PR firm as well because the Jets could use some good advice. 

Meanwhile, not so far off Crazy Island, the Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was apparently walking around like a crazy man as he described in this interview with Mike Francesa.  Antrelle Rolle apologized for the Giant letdown of a stretch run this season.

Its always fun to see Tom Coughlin red in the face, screaming from the sideline but I totally understand his pain and frustration when having to answer questions about a team he has seen time and time again come through in big games, not be able to even offer a whimper when it truly mattered.  Like any Giant fan, I expected a win against the Ravens and I expected it to be competitive against the Falcons who I don’t think scare anyone in the NFC.  The Giants should have never been in this position and who knows if this collapse by the Giants means that Washington was just meant to win this year or if this is a seismic power shift in the NFC East and that the Redskins are coming of age so quickly under the guidance of the young padawan, RGIII.  Regardless, these are the kind of final weeks that make a team look deep into its soul.  Certainly there is the talent to win atleast 10 games a year but the up and down show of effort leaves you wondering sometimes about whether the players are either understanding the situation they are in or even motivated to play a football game late in December.  Its crazy to think that this team, this unit wouldn’t know how to handle themselves in those situations but it happened.  Which makes Tom Coughlin crazy.  Which makes Jerry Reese crazy.  Which should make every Giant hoping to return back to a championship core very very scared.  

Finally, what to watch for tonight:  Bulls at Heat on ESPN at 8, Nets at Wizards on YES at 8 (just kidding).

Later today, I’m posting my AFC/NFC Wild Card weekend Previews

For your viewing pleasure…

Enjoy everyone!

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Sports Round up 12/05/2011

So many stories to begin with but to start it all off, a New York superstar is now leaving his nest for beachier pastures:

Rights Reserved to Metsblog.com

The Jose Reyes era in a Met uniform is (un)officially over.  According to reports that began popping up last night, the former Mets shortstop had apparently agreed to a 6 year $106 million contract.  And here are the opinions flowing in first from John Harper of the Daily News who says the Mets were justified somewhat in letting Reyes go.  Joel Sherman of the New York Post says now the job of Sandy Alderson will be to repair the image of the Mets.  Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald says move over Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes is here.  Finally the voice of Met fans, Matthew Cerrone of Metsblog.com gave his opinion about why this sucks.  

They say its always darkest before dawn.  Ok fine, so that was a line from the Dark Knight.  But it holds true.  Here are the facts:

1. The Mets knew him better than anyone else.
2. They were never going to guarantee that sixth year so the Marlins knew what it would take for them to absolutely score Jose Reyes.
3.  The Mets were virtually transparent throughout this whole process about their lack of immediacy to move on resigning their superstar.
4.  The Mets are broke and this was eventually going to happen and the Met front office played this perfectly to reflect on that.

Those are the indisputable facts of this.  I disagree with Harper who believes that Jose will NEVER be better than he was last year.  I think he has the potential to be the guy everyone was gushing over from 2006-2009 and then again last season.  He’s a speedster capable of stealing 60 bases a season.  He’s the prototypical top of the order bat.  He can hit for average and has shown flashes of power.

But that injury bug had to worry Met officials and no longer is Omar Minaya and staff involved in negotiations where they would’ve certainly pushed for a Reyes resigning.  But Joel Sherman is right, in baseball senses, this is absolutely the right move.  Could the Mets have gone to $100 million?  Not likely.  So the Marlins knew that he wanted a $100 million deal and a 6 year commitment something that everyone knew the Mets were never going to guarantee.  Stories are coming out that some officials within the Met organization were scared to even guarantee 5 which apparently would’ve been the Met offer.  Of course we don’t know that because the Mets never gave him an offer which I find is the only indefensible thing about this whole process.  The Mets were never involved.  They never got up to make an offer.  They practically pushed him out saying they didn’t want to set the market.  They told him to come back with the best offer and then the Mets would then tell him if they were willing to compete with it.  All the Marlins had to do was put a desperate deal together that fit the rumored parameters of what he wanted and they knew they had their man.  This was so easy that the Marlins couldn’t have botched such a thing and they didn’t.  You knew they were desperate to make a splash with their new stadium being built.  The Mets and the front office never had any intention of matching any crazy offer.  Even the first 6 year $90 million deal that was reported, was probably something the Mets would not have matched had Reyes come back to them with that offer but Reyes and his agent never did, knowing that if they got over $100 million from practically the only team that was offering him a contract he would take it.  Now Reyes joins his homie in South Florida, Hanley Ramirez, who will not be thrilled to be shifting positions though it is the right move in baseball senses.  Ramirez is way too big to be playing shortstop anyway and a corner infield position is probably best for a guy losing his lateral movement.  You put Reyes who has a cannon of an arm and the ability to make huge plays.

Its clear what the Marlins are doing.  They are building a Latino-emphasized team for a Latino fan base to embrace.  Their move to Miami was about the money but their success will be predicated on how much they can depend on that fan base to come out.  Latin countries love their baseball, so fielding a team that caters to that fan base ONLY makes sense and financially they will need to begin filling up that park to justify their spending spree.  Either way, the Marlins got an excellent corner stone player and now will have to win and sustain a winner for a long time for the first time EVER in their history.

As for the Mets, I think Sherman is way too judgemental on the Mets for my taste.  Rebuilding their image?  The Mets have an image problem yes but THIS is not something that would rebuild it.  Met fans have to be realistic about their owners current financial situation.  Sadly, the owners have to be realistic too.  When I first heard about Reyes signing with the Marlins I was upset and ready to just blast the Coupons but I woke up calmer and with more understanding.  I realized one thing about this whole mess: Alderson has to face all the blame and all the questions surrounding this mess.  But the Wilpons, as long as their buddy Bud Selig is commissioner, has an enabler that will allow them to pay back their loans on their time and so financially they will be solvent for the foreseeable future.  Alderson is also the right play at GM.  He is a former Marine who can face all the questions about credibility with a stone face and give the politically correct answers back to a media who will want him to admit two things: the Mets are broke and the Coupon family is no longer able to carry the burden of fielding a big market team.  Unfortunately the Coupons will stay in ownership for as long as they like.  That Madoff judgement doesn’t look like it will leave them broke (in terms of rich people, so if the Madoff ruling took them for a large sum of money or whatever they were rumored to be paying, they wouldn’t be rich enough to own a sports team but rich enough to still be hundred times richer than you or me….isn’t that rich?) so they will be around and will expect you to come to the stadium and fill the seats.

Unfortunately if history is any indicator and if last season and the season prior are any kind of model by which to go on, believe you me, the Mets are in trouble more financially than anything Madoff could ever do.  The saving grace?  The Mets field a winner.  But first they will have to build a team.  Want to prove that you aren’t broke and that the Reyes decision was strictly smart baseball business?  Fine.  Spend that money you would’ve spent on Reyes back into the team.  Lets see you do that.  I doubt they will.  Sigh, the life and times of a Met fan.

Speaking of disappointments the Giants ALMOST came away with the upset of the year when they took the defending Super Bowl champs and current undefeated team and current MVP of the season Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to the wire .  Unfortunately there was :51 left on the clock and Aaron Rodgers needing ONLY to get into field goal range to clinch it and that he did.  Gary Meyers says the Giants gave their best effort and it wasn’t enough.  Mike Lupica says, nice try Giants.  

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In the end, they were the defending champs and the Giants were a reeling team fighting in desperation and showing their true colors.  Lets face it, since losing their secondary and much of their depth throughout the season the Giants have fought and clawed and been the antithesis of the Philadelphia Eagles.  They were not supposed to beat them and were not even supposed to be in the same league with them yesterday unless the Giants summoned a fight and resolve that had gone missing the last two weeks.  Shows how important Michael Boley is to a linebacker unit that was pretty much decimated with injury and lack of experience.  Then losing Osi Umeniyora and JPP for period of the game had to be troubling but the Giants kept fighting.  I said it prior to the game, if the Giants could get stops they would win the game because their offense could put up points.  But a killer pick six early on in the game came back to haunt them and then a phantom hands to the face penalty also kept a drive going for the Packers who eventually scored.  Tom Coughlin used up challenges and the Giants were absolutely terrible with time management last night.  He challenged two plays that had no chance of being over turned which left him with none.  No play after that looked like it needed reviewing to over turn but the Giants were fortunate.  However, this idea that the Giants were right to throw it on the first two downs when they were at the Packer goal to go situation in under two minutes to go is absolutely insane.  You don’t leave QB’s like Aaron Rodgers time like that to go the length of the field to kick a chip shot field goal.  The Packer offense is SO explosive and we all know that and yet the Giants mindset was to make sure they scored.  Well, the Giants know that should they run would they have necessarily gotten it in on first down?  No.  Second down?  Probably but not a certainty.  Then on third down you throw it up for Nicks to make a play on it.  That Nicks play was in their back pocket the whole time and yet Gilbride, the Giants OC, refused to go to it.  Leaving Aaron Rodgers with the time to do what he does best.

Those are the many negatives I take back from this game.  The positives?  Lets count them shall we?  The Giants played toe to toe with the best team in football and almost won.  The Giants finally showed some heart.  They had a lot of calls go against them but they remained composed and kept fighting.  Michael Boley and Ahmad Bradshaw reportedly stayed healthy throughout this game but we’ll know once the week progresses as to how they feel.  This looks eerily similar to the last time the Giants won the Super Bowl in 2007?  They will have to win out from here to ensure they win the division.  Even though the Lions and Bears (who look like they will be without Matt Forte which should effectively end their season) are reeling, the Giants still have to handle business on their end beginning in Dallas which I can assure you is MOST realistic.  Look, this was statistically and hypothetically the toughest schedule in the NFL in terms of games and the Giants were 6-2 heading into it.  They beat the Patriots, hung in there with the 49ers and almost won that game.  Played poorly against the Eagles and Saints and then looked rejuvenated against the Packers.  If they take yesterday’s attitude into their remaining schedule, Antrel Rolle’s prediction that the Giants and Packers will meet again WILL come true.  The Giants have to handle their business moving forward.  The G-Men can do this and now is the time for the famous Jim Fassel speech. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ab2pnlWkd4

The Jets went into Washington in basically Giant territory of win-it all and came away with a commanding 34-19 victory over the Redskins who’ve lost 7 straight.  Filip Bondy says Sanchize commandeered the Jets to victory.  Mike Vaccaro believes this could be the start of something huge for Gang Green.  

I’m not going to pretend like I saw this game from beginning to end.  Unfortunately the rigors of married life throw a monkey wrench into those things.  But what I did see, I saw Mark Sanchez and a game plan centered around trying to protect him.  I saw a close game up until about 5 minutes left in the game when Sanchez led a drive that culminated in a TD pass to Santonio Holmes which was as beautiful a pass as you’ll see perfectly lobbed over the defender’s head who Holmes had beaten anyway.  I saw the defense force a turnover immediately on hapless Rex Grossman.  I saw the Jets punch it in for insurance.

But I also saw more miscues on special teams and an offense that somehow could NOT trust Sanchez with anything more than a quick slant pattern.  The Jets are a terribly conflicting team but they have the elements of a defense that can be great.  They have the elements of an offense that has weapons there to be great.  Their special teams has been sloppy at best these last 6 weeks but they have the elements of a team that can make another run but they have the elements of a team that can and will give Jet fans heartburn and asthma attacks on the way.  Do I think the Jets are a Super Bowl contender?  No.  Do I think they can beat the Patriots?  OH YEAH.  The Pats are NOT unbeatable.  For that matter, the Pack are not unbeatable.  The Jets HAVE to play on top of their game though.  Giving teams like the Patriots those kind of turnovers will cost them.  Be thankful they were ONLY playing the Redskins.

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And the Broncos just keep winning.  Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post writes more so than the Tebow-factor, John Fox has quietly pulled ALL the right strings.  

Look, I can’t begin to explain to you how this Tebow thing is going.  I just know that its bigger than you, me, Denver or the great sport of football.  Its in that grey area that nobody can quite put their finger on.  The Broncos have now won 5 in a row and it should be written in the rulebooks of the NFL that if the game is close against the Denver Broncos and Tim Tebow is playing in that game, the game should be called because Tebow is going to do something that makes this liberal country get into the silly conversation about religion that has me tired even thinking about it.  Tim Tebow is amazing.  Tim Tebow is fantastic.  He’s a great kid.  You can say till your blue that his style of quarterbacking won’t get it done but the Broncos aren’t winning solely on the left arm and legs of Tebow.  Or his heart.  Its the defense and a coach, John Fox, that was given a QB that if you gave him a polygraph today would admit he didn’t want.  Now the Broncos and Tim Tebow are linked and no matter what John Elways says or does, barring a collapse and Tebow completely blowing games down the stretch, John Elway will be hard pressed to find an immediate successor for the Broncos QB job which up until two weeks ago even was open for applicants.

I know that Elway believes that Tebow can’t be a conventional QB.  But credit John Fox for realizing that early on.  The job of the head coach is to put the team in the best position to win and he has done that.  Fox’s coaching staff has protected Tebow within the confines of a system that he can win in while teaching Tebow the finer points of throwing the football and the system they are running.  Some of the throws Tebow has made have been exceptional including that sideline throw to Demairiyus Thomas who had a huge day for the Broncos.  BUT, the fact is that more than Tim Tebow, the Broncos have been putting together wins as a team.  At some point all the detractors have to realize that and just give up this ill fated discussion UNTIL Tim Tebow gives us a reason to.

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General Coughlin and his Army of Giants.

It figures he would get an Army General to appear before his team on the eve of the season.  One last fiery speech by a true hero, a real Giant, to rev up the collective engine of his team.

The attributes of a coach are plentiful but if you HAD to ask which 5 qualities were most important: great motivator would be in the top 3.  How can one motivate their team to succeed?  Its a question that still has no concrete answer.  Maybe because its a job that constantly changes the demands it presses on its workers.

Tom Coughlin is by many counts an amry general himself.  A taskmaster who’s 5 minute rule is infamous and rigid as a steel pole.  If the meeting is at 7:50, come 5 minutes earlier.  Maybe not everyone agrees with his methods but they aren’t without reason.

Its now common knowledge that Coughlin’s success in 2007 was directly linked to him softening his character up enough to allow his players to see him for who his family knew he was.  A guy that smiles and a guy who cares.

But the good vibrations from 2007 have worn off and the Giants enter 2010 on the witness protection program with regards to the backpages of New York newspapers.  That belongs to Rex’s bunch.  But maybe moving in stealth in the big city is exactly where they want to be.

Its no secret Coughlin is on the hot seat.  In a market that demands big things and in a position that is usually held accountable first and foremost before any of the players that actually play the games, Coughlin can’t expect to go 8-8 and think his job will be there waiting for him.

It doesn’t help that the Giants play in arguably the most competitive division in the NFL.  Where there’s a playoff atmosphere everytime the Giants visit one of their divisional foes which would be 6 games.  But nobody said it would be easy.

The big question coming into the season is are the Giants soft?  Every player has said the right thing, but how else to know other than letting the talking play out on the field?

The obvious parallels of football coaches and army generals can be seen.  Both lead by example and lay forth the game plan to attack the enemy and oversee all the army’s operations much in the same way that a coach oversees game planning against an opponent.

But like generals, coaches deal with disputes among their lower rank and file.  Coughlin has to find a new leader in the wake of Michael Strahan and Antonio Pierce’s retirements.  He has to mend the broken ego of his former starting RB who lost his role to his former back up and buddy.  He has a bunch of great defensive ends but they all can’t be on the field at the same time and need equal reps to keep from infighting.

So its on Commander in Chief Tom Coughlin to lead his troops into the jaws of a very unforgiving schedule and keeping the status quo alive.  The Giants have made the playoffs almost every season till last year in the Coughlin era.

Perhaps its not a coincedence he always has an army official speak in front of his team.  Maybe it does take an army commander to make a team tough again.  To re-institute the tough love that made him a successful coach, not the Super Bowl winning one.  But maybe the Giants just need to find that identity again.  If so, then maybe Commander in Chief Coughlin will have to lead his team.  Atteeeenchuuuuunnnn- Given.

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