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New York Giants: When Do We Stop Looking Back?

January 12th, 2013 at 7:08 AM
By Jen Polashock

A large part of improvement is reflecting on what is considered the past and using clear areas of need, mistakes and weakness as springboards to a plan – a plan that should yield a more desirable or exceptional state. In the case of Jerry Reese, Tom Coughlin and the New York Football Giants, this end product or state will always be a Lombardi trophy.

The 2012 Big Blue season didn’t produce anything near a ‘chip goal. It’s January -playoffs time- and they’re searching for some points to bulletin in the design for 2013. As much as looking back is frowned upon in sports, it can be a handy tool to utilize when not only preventing mistakes, but creating a blueprint for welcome changes.

1978 was ugly for the Giants franchise, but it was one of many catalysts that occurred in the organization that pushed the proper tweaks to be made. Herm Edwards’ fumble recovery was only a piece of a convoluted puzzle that year that led to blue transformation. The following year, the Giants finally assigned an outside General Manager, George Young, and Bill Parcells became part of the Giants as Defensive Coordinator. Players like quarterback Phil Simms were drafted in 1979. Linebacker Lawrence Taylor followed in 1981. Eventually, Parcells became head coach and well, if you aren’t quite sure of his tenure in a Giants sweater, read up on it. He’s up again for the Hall of Fame this year and all Giants fans should know why. The point here is that not one, but two Lombardi trophies came to the G-Men because of change.

It almost happened again after Coach Parcells “retired” in 1991 and fans endured two vomit-inducing Ray Handley years into almost a handful of Dan Reeves years: Jim Fassel (’97-’03) and getting to a point where Giants football was again fun to watch (to a fine line extent) and the World Championship game billing had the New York Giants’ logo on half of it in 2000. They didn’t “finish” that year and were accused of quitting on Fassel in 2003 – a year after they collapsed in the Wild Card Playoffs against the San Francisco 49ers.

Fassel’s 4-12 season and subsequent firing gave way to much of what we have today: Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning, eventually Jerry Reese and a model that continually calls for corrective action. Since these three names have come together, there have been some gaffes, but they have led to alterations that keep the team competitive. Where we sit as disappointed fans now isn’t much different than where we were in 2010. That focus was just primarily on the “New Miracle in the Meadowlands” and making Punter Matt Dodge the scapegoat. As painful as that was, it brought forth an awesome signing in 2011 free agency: Punter Steve Weatherford, who was a large part of how Lombardi number four was earned (he did, after all, set a Super Bowl record). Yeah, other cogs were placed with their respective mechanical gears, but the point here is one example of how to view errors as spur for correction. It isn’t always just one.

While a coaching change may not be on the immediate Big Blue horizon, what is coming can be construed as veritable improvement in the eyes of Tom and Jerry since they haven’t stopped working at it yet.


Tags: Bill Parcells, Dan Reeves, Eli Manning, Football, George Young, Jerry Reese, Jim Fassel, Lawrence Taylor, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Phil Simms, Steve Weatherford, Tom Coughlin

17 Responses to “New York Giants: When Do We Stop Looking Back?”

  1.  G-MenFan says:

    I won’t stop “looking back” because to do so would be to forget the two great rides to championships.

    2012 was in no way shape or form analogous to 1978. 2012 was certainly disappointing but it was not the culmination of “15 years of lousy football”. Nor was it analogous to 1991 when Parcells suddenly and without warning retired and left the team high and dry, and with an ageing GM who was stubbornly refusing to see that free agency was changing the league.

    2012 was a post-championship crap year. But we have a young smart GM who is a scout at heart and knows talent and surrounds himself with the people he needs to make good decisions, and a head coach who knows how to run a staff and a team. Not to mention an outstanding franchise QB in his prime. A roster makeover is in order for sure, but we’re still sitting pretty in my eyes.

  2.  Krow says:

    I really like this article. And it’s definitely on the money. While we’re not in disaster mode at 9-7 there are two very obvious facts… the NFL is changing … and we have to change with it. Just like in the past we have our work cut out for us. But I think this time we have the right people in place already.

    The most dramatic change is in the area of personnel. Contracts are shorter … free agency is the norm … and rosters turnover more now than ever before as the salary cap works its magic. The formula that I see evolving is to concentrate on acquiring a core of ‘special’ athletes … the ones with that something extra … and leverage them with cheap, replaceable talent. This means that you seek … and pay for … excellence, while holding the line everywhere else.

    Successful teams in the near future will be the ones who are able to get the most from draft picks on rookie contracts, value-priced free agents, and UDFAs … surrounding a nucleus of stars. The time where rosters of the top teams will be filled with veteran role players, solid, but unspectacular journeymen, and aging backups … is drawing to a close. Not because the strategy is flawed, but because they’re typically far more expensive.

    The major burden is on Reese and the front office. They have to walk the finest line. You can’t afford too many blunders or you’ll find yourself in cap Hell. They also have to redouble the scouting. It’s imperative that the supporting cast is maximized. You can’t take years to develop a player anymore.

    On the coaching side … can we really run complex schemes like we used to? What’s the point of drafting a player only to have him sit for 2 years absorbing the system? In 4 years he’s probably gone. It’s an investment that doesn’t seem to have the return it used to have. You saw it this year. Several teams did well reverting to a college style of play. It gets your rookies contributing on the field fast, and in situations they’re familiar with. I think we’re going to see more of this.

    •  Dirt says:

      I’m not sure about the last paragraph in its entirety. After all, the Giants did have one of their most prolific offenses in team history, which was even only limited by injury. I think it always comes down to the QB. If you guy your guy, you build a system around him and he stays forever. If you’ve got a dumpster fire there for years (see Seattle, Washington, San Francisco), you keep trying ish until it works and you do so until that QB proves to be your forever guy.

      I don’t know what the Pats offense can be characterized as, but it’s built on no huddle and Brady’s brilliance. Its pieces have frastically changed over the years, from solid and unspectacular receivers to a great deep/slot combo to athletic TEs. Belichick essentially does what you say, adapts to what he has, but it’s always doing so in that spread, catch your opponent in bad matchups offense.

      •  Krow says:

        Right, some can still pull it off if they maintain the nucleus. Which in most cases is a franchise QB with a couple veteran targets.

        But I think it’s changing. And will accelerate as this crop of QBs ages out.

        Look instead at our defense. Quite a complicated read-and-react machine. How many times did we see blown secondary coverages?

        •  Dirt says:

          Haha I just think the scheme and the calls are brutal!

          On that note, I watched Giants season review on MSG the other night. In game 1, when Dallas completed a 13 yard pass on 3rd and 10 to end the game, I saw Tuck was further down the field than the receiver when he was tackled.

          I laughed, because it’s all you can do when your inept coodinator throws a winning lottery ticket in the trash, like he’s done with this defense the last two years.

          Spagnuolo is no genius, but I think we have 3+ titles for Eli already if he sticks around. I think they win in 2010, and I think they compete this year as well.

          •  G-MenFan says:

            If I’m not mistaken, our DEs running 30 yards downfield was one of the first reasons the players revolted against Sheridan.

  3.  Dirt says:

    Well done, Dan!

  4.  Dirt says:

    I just read something disturbing about Snee. He’s (undeservedly so) playing in the Pro Bowl. Which means he isn’t too injured to do so. Which means injuries aren’t a great excuse for 2012 for him. Which means he kinda just sucked.

    •  G-MenFan says:


      and not worth the $8.8 million 2013 cap hit. He and Webster ($9.975 million) need to take salary cuts or be cut outright.

  5.  Krow says:

    Every time I look at a pic of Rob Ryan I think “Game of Thrones”.

  6.  TuckThis says:

    Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

    And I agree with Dirt’s comments. Belichick is as good as it gets for adapting to personnel and situations and he is not afraid to try new things and people.
    TC’s achilles heel, if you will is that he is not flexible and continues to use the same plays/personnel even when they prove ineffective.

    •  G-MenFan says:

      I think what we’re seeing along those lines is TC deferring to veterans that lifted the team to 2 SBs. I also think that deference will be a thing of the past and that will become very clear when some of those vets are released. It will become even more clear when Coughlin tells the entire team that all of the good will from 07 and 11 is gone, the slate is clean, and we’re starting anew. You have to earn your snaps. We’ll all know for sure when the 2013 t-shirt slogan comes out. This year’s “bridge” crap was lame and worried me from the outset.

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