…. Fire Coughlin Now, Part II

Before I get around to writing about watching our Triple AAA Giants this upcoming season, let me make sure I’ve said all I have to say about my NY Giants.

First, it was the worst loss in team history. Both of the losses brought up as possible claimants to the throne were terrible, for sure, but both of those games were playoff games, (Minnesota Vikings in ’97, and the 49ers in 2002), they were losses to good teams that took up most of their respective second halves to occur. In this game, all the Giants needed to do to win was avoid any stupid, thoughtless, incomprehensibly bad, game-changing mistakes with a little more than half of the fourth quarter left. This was a task beyond the capacities of, oh, I don’t know, five or six or ten players, coaches and game staff.

You need to read what the best sportswriter on the planet has to say about it:

…. Let’s ponder the coaching aspect of the Giants’ epic collapse. Jersey/A led 21-0 and had possession of the ball with 13 minutes remaining at Long Playing Field. Then Eli Manning threw an interception — but why were the Giants throwing with a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter? Manning didn’t decide on his own to throw, the coaches radioed that call directly into Eli’s helmet. Leading by 21 points in the fourth quarter, do nothing but run up the middle for no gain for the rest of the game, and victory seems likely.

Tennessee scores to make it 21-7; the Giants go three-and-out, throwing an incomplete pass to stop the clock. Tennessee scores to make it 21-14; the Giants punt with 3:13 remaining, after throwing an incomplete pass to stop the clock. Tennessee scores to make it 21-21; Jersey/A has the ball on its own 28 with 32 seconds remaining and throws another interception. From the point at which the Giants had a 21-0 lead and possession of the ball with 13 minutes remaining, Coughlin and his staff called seven passing plays — which is seven too many. The result was both interceptions and incompletions that stopped the clock in a game Tennessee won with a field goal with six ticks left. Maybe when you’re ahead 21-0 in the fourth quarter you shouldn’t be tossing the ball into the air? The final interception was particularly bad coaching because at that point Tennessee had just rallied to tie, and momentum had shifted. All the emotion and crowd noise was on the Titans’ side; the field position and clock situation dictated kneeling and going to overtime, with the ensuing intermission creating some space for Tennessee to cool off. Instead Jersey/A’s coaches put the ball in the air, offering the Titans victory. Manning didn’t make that call. The Giants were seriously outcoached — and afterward, the coach blamed his players.

…. Leading 21-0 on the first snap of the fourth quarter, Jersey/A faced fourth-and-3 on the Flaming Thumbtacks’ 31. A field goal here ices the contest, but Giants’ coaches have no confidence in the weak-legged Jay Feely; they go for it, pass incomplete. At the end game, it’s tied and Tennessee moves to the Giants’ 31 with 11 ticks remaining. Rob Bironas kicks true from the exact yard line Tom Coughlin would not allow Jay Feely to kick from. Wind was light. If you don’t have someone on the roster who can make a 48-yard field goal, you are not an NFL contender.

…. Single Worst Play of the Season So Far: You’ve got to run some mighty bad plays to blow a 21-0 fourth-quarter lead. It’s tempting to say the worst occurred with 10:51 remaining. The Giants led 21-0, Vince Young had just scrambled on fourth-and-9 and been stopped short of the first down; Jersey ball, and TMQ would have written the words “game over” in his notebook. Except as Young went out of bounds, Giants defensive back Frank Walker delivered a brainless late hit. First down Tennessee, and the Titans scored three snaps later. Walker is a nobody, yet thought his own desire to make the highlight reel by popping a star quarterback was more important than the team.

A worse play was to come, though, because it involved more than one Giant. Now it’s Jersey 21, Tennessee 14, and the Flaming Thumbtacks face fourth-and-10 with 2:44 remaining — another chance for the Giants to end the comeback. Young scrambles for the first down, and the vaunted Giants defense is on its way to surrendering 24 points in the final quarter. On the scramble, Mathias Kiwanuka deliberately let Young go, believing he had thrown the ball and not wanting a roughing-the-passer flag. This was just a mistake by Kiwanuka. It’s what happened next that was bad: Defenders Will Demps, William Joseph, Kiwanuka and Fred Robbins all stood there doing nothing, making no attempt to chase Young as he headed for the first down. Will Demps, William Joseph, Mathias Kiwanuka and Fred Robbins — you staged the Single Worst Play of the Season So Far. Stupid late hits, guys standing around doing nothing — sounds like a team that’s been outcoached, doesn’t it?

In defense of Kiawanuka, the Giants have been flagged by so many game-changing, momentum-changing late hits, unsportsman-like conduct and roughing the passer calls that he was right to worry about whether Young had released the ball or not.

The seemingly endless succession of bad penalties has been the bane of this team from minute one; remember the very first game of the year? Down 23-21 to the Colts with about 4 minutes left, on third and long in Giants territory, WR Tim Carter is flagged for a phantom offensive pass interference after a 19 yard reception. That was the last flag of a 10-penalty day, on the first day of the season for a coach who makes playing mistake-free football his mantra. This type of flag has plagued the Giants for essentially the entire tenure of Coughlin’s reign as head coach. Is it a league conspiracy, or do the Giants players spend all game long being told by the refs to cut the shit; but they keep doing it until the refs are forced to call these game-changing penalties?

In the loss to the Bears, the game that seems to have been the beginning of the end, the Bears were down 13-10, around midfield in the third quarter, and on a second and 10, incomplete pass, William Joseph was called for a nice 15-yard, roughing the passer penalty in which Joseph’s arm hit Rex Grossman’s head as Joseph was being held and driven to the ground. This was but one more penalty amidst another 10-penalty day for the Giants.

This is a deep, talented team, (Kiawanuka is the fourth string defensive end) that is poorly coached, simple as that. They win despite the coach, not because of him. Again, when was the last time you heard about a Giants game plan that was the difference in a game? Other coaches devise defensive game plans, offensive game plans, personell-specific schemes that are lauded as the key difference in their team winning or losing all the time. Why don’t we ever hear about Coughlin and his coaches doing the same? Because it doesn’t happen, that’s why.

The Giants are undisciplined, they make far too many critical, stupid, thoughtless errors. Sunday was as bad as it gets in the NFL for the Giants, but looking at their schedule, with 6 defensive starters still on the sidelines, they could go from 6-2 to 6-10 in the blink of an eye. And they’ll be looking for a new coach if they do.

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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
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