Monday, January 2, 2012
NFC East Champs and Off to the Playoffs
The clip above is WR Victor Cruz's touchdown catch and "Salsa celebration." He was a major contributor to the Giants victory over the Dallas Cowboys, awarding them the NFC East Championship and a home playoff game next week, where they will face the Atlanta Falcons.
Despite the crazy roster moves of General Manager Jerry Reese in the truncated off season due to the lockout, the Giants were successful this season. It wasn't always pretty, but they won at key times.
For years, the media has pummelled Tom Coughlin and while part of me thinks the Giants management used Reese to set up Coughlin's firing (he is in the last year of a contract), it looks like that move was an epic fail.
Tom Coughlin, the consummate professional, has made quite the impression on his team. He doesn't talk so much that he puts his foot in his mouth, he doesn't boast, he goes to work and lets his team do the talking with their play. He was handed a relatively inexperienced Offense, due to Reeese's moves, and dealt with a Defense decimated by injury throughout the season. It got ugly at times, but he didn't blow up, he didn't melt down, he didn't pull any stupid media stunts, he explained the situation to his team, while making sure they play by the rules, and imparted the idea to them that it's their play which will result in the Giants having a winning season or a losing season. Coughlin laid down the gauntlet and the team responded.
Throughout his NFL career, Eli Manning has played under Coughlin and has taken his fundamentals into his play, doing what he can to win. Many a fourth quarter comeback this season, Eli marched the offense down the field to save the day. Eli Manning, as his career progresses, has built himself into the durable, elite quarterback that can carry a team on his back, leading to his statistically best season.
Coughlin's coaching leadership and Manning's leadership through play has inspired many on this team to step up when it counts. Victor Cruz, in his second season, came into his own as a player, WR Hakeem Nicks had a stellar season, even with injury, and TE Jake Ballard is stepping up to be a fine replacement to TE Kevin Boss (which I believe was Reese's dumbest roster move) On the Defensive side of the ball, Jason Pierre-Paul and Michael Boley are emerging to be the young leaders of this defensive unit, stepping up to not only plug the holes we saw against New Orleans, but to save Perry Fewell's job as Defensive Coordinator.
The Giants naysayers are already stating how they won't advance past the Atlanta Falcons, but with the heart this team has shown the past few weeks, I'm not writing them off. Let us not forget about the 2007 season; Coughlin was against the wall, they survived through a slump and ended the season on a high note. There are some similarities and the playoff journey begins next Sunday, 1PM at MetLife Stadium!