East Rutherford —When tides turn, the haters burn, and the NY Giants are scorching cats to a third degree for counting them out after an 0-6 start.
While most fools are tempted to embrace the now and ride with the hyperbole, there is a truth that lies beyond one game. A player’s worth and a team’s fight can’t be measured in a portion of a season. Numbers don’t lie. Like a refined snitch, they expose unapparent weaknesses and strengths, but they don’t take into account those qualities that can’t be measured numerically. The NY Giants were as wretched as their early season record implied. Their statistical output reflected their performance, but it also didn’t testify to the truth. The Giants never threw up the white flag, even when they were NFC East doormats. They always expressed optimism that they could turn this jalopy of a season around, and after four straight wins—the most recent being a 27-13 thrashing of the Green Bay Packers at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, the NY Giants are back in the thick of the NFC Least race at 4-6.
It was only a short time ago that the Giants looked like pig excrement. The running game was M.I.A., Eli Manning was clueless and the D couldn’t get healthy. But when your foundation is solid and your philosophies remain consistent, the direction of positive change is already established. You just have to set it in motion.
The Giants were doing the Dougie and flexing all body parts on Sunday.
A few weeks ago Giants fans were making ski lodge reservations for late December. Tom Coughlin was the Hugh Hefner of NFL coaches. He's been such an ambassador for the game, and an accomplished coach, that people who want him to pack it up, don’t want to be rude about suggesting it. They’re willing to let him bow out gracefully, but not at the expense of a lost season.
After all of the talk-radio complaints and media panic, the Giants are still in the playoff hunt and looking at a Nov. 24 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys as the game of the year. Now, Coughlin’s looking like Hugh when he had his reality TV comeback after putting Kendra and those two other blonde chicks on.
How did the Giants go from Mush to Strawberry Kush? Everything that has gone right in Big Blue’s transformation back into division contenders, addresses the very things that were holding them back. Against Green Bay, Eli Manning stopped being a turnover machine, completing 25 of 35 passes for 279 yards and a dirty pick, including a 26-yard touchdown to Rueben Randle. Andre Brown rushed 18 times for 66 yards and moved the pile like he was doing community service in a sanitation detail. Despite playing just two games, he leads the Giants with 181 yards. Since his return, the Giants putrid run game has turned back into a strength. Coming off a broken leg in preseason, Brown had a career high 30 carries in last week’s win against the Raiders.
Also, the stats may not show it, but Brandon Jacobs’ return has added a spark and continuity to the offense. Jacobs scored hia 59th Giants TD on Sunday, but more importantly, he is an integral part of NY’s last two Super Bowl rings and has an understanding of Coughlin’s system. His presence has been invaluable as the Giants navigate out of the abyss and into contention.
That Giants D, which traditionally hauls asses off in stretchers and causes QB’s to piss in their briefs, is back. Jason-Pierre Paul’s health is improved and the defense picked off Packers starter Scott Tolzien three times. JPP had one of those picks for a score, and he’s also leading a run defense that has been lights out over this winning stretch. Of course, not having to face Aaron Rodgers is a godsend. His absence changes everything and greatly diminished the Packers chances of winning. That still didn’t take away from the playoff-type enthusiasm displayed by the 79,114 rabid Giants fans in attendance. The turn out alone proved that all of Giants Nation is feeling a twinge of hope.
“Going into the game we knew we (were facing)…an inexperienced QB with a solid O-line and a good running back,” Giants linebacker Jon Beason told The Shadow League, after the game. “Everybody playing lose, and handling their assignments has been key.”
The former Pro Bowler’s play at linebacker is a major reason the Giants are still breathing. And with the Eagles on a bye next week, the Giants’ fifth straight win would move them within a half-game of first place in the NFC East. “To say that after being 0-6 in this league — man, at 0-6, people start shipping their cars home and start planning vacations,” Tuck said. “We stayed together, we’ve played together and that’s what happens when you have a team with great leaders. “We’ve turned it around and hopefully we continue to do that.”
The Giants are feeling themselves right now, but the hole they dug leaves no margin for error. The Giants already lost to Dallas 36-31 in the season opener, and to catch the 6-5 Eagles, the Giants can’t afford to lose again.
With that in mind, they seem to be a team that is improving every week. The NFL is a league built for late bloomers and the Giants are schizophrenic in nature under Coughlin and known for their late-season surges. This latest stretch of life could just be a tease and a go-hard attempt to save face. Or we might be in the midst of another historic, unforeseen run by Eli Manning and The Cardiac Crew.