By Jason Keidel
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We’ve heard the platitudes. We can’t get the three hours back. The game set the sport back 50 years. The Giants beat a Pop Warner quarterback. Adrian Peterson was hurt.
There’s some truth to some of the cynicism. The Giants beat a team that couldn’t win the Big Ten. Eli threw a pick-six that was dropped. He pinballed around the pocket, watching most of his passes from his buttocks, and often watched them dropped by his formerly fine receivers.
They’re probably still banned from Rick’s Cabaret, a strip club that finds Giants football promotes erectile dysfunction. They have Fred Flinstone at running back. They can’t find a tight end in a league overrun with them. Antrel Rolle looks like the only defensive player who can start for another team. Tom Coughlin looks like he’s aged a century since September.
But forget the wretched aesthetics. The Giants won a football game. And if you were giving the four points – for entertainment purposes only, of course – you will take it. For the pure football fan, who heads to MetLife with benign designs, who paints his face, doesn’t punch a woman’s face, and doesn’t use football as a pretext for alcohol poisoning, a 16-point margin in an NFL game matters.
Maybe I’m playing the Pollyanna. Maybe I’m shining s— and calling it gold. The game still got a 9.6 rating, which says we’re hopelessly addicted to football or that Walking Dead and Homeland were on the night before and you had nothing else to watch.
It’s hard to bleed a lot of optimism out of that game, except to say that sometimes an ugly win – is there such a thing? – acts as a kind of laxative. The Giants really are just two years removed from a Super Bowl victory. Can they have gotten this bad this quickly?
The last decade is littered with outhouse-to-penthouse teams who caught Kurt Warner in a bottle, but rarely the reverse. The more monolithic franchises, from New England to Green Bay to Pittsburgh to, yes, the Giants, don’t slide this far below the median. Those teams have a high-end quarterback in common. And still do. So why do the Giants suck?
Something is wrong with Big Blue. At the risk of sounding like the knee-jerk Twitter trolls who call for a Hall-of-Famer’s head every week they don’t conquer their fantasy league, the Giants need to be poured in a blender, stirred, and poured new on the turf.
Eli Manning can’t be the problem. You don’t bag two Super Bowl MVP awards by mistake. Tom Coughlin coached both games. Maybe it’s Jerry Reese. In the Janet Jackson parlance, what has he done for you lately? Name one stud he’s drafted lately, one singing, free agent signing you can pin on his lapel?
If nothing else, the next nine games are a referendum on the coach and the general manager. Coughlin’s biggest curse is his age. Whether we admit it or not, we look at the elderly through a more critical lens, particularly in the testosterone-drenched climes of the NFL.
Even if the Giants finish over .500 the rest of the way – and nothing they did last night assures you they will – someone vital must go. The corporate football chain of GM/HC/QB has to be sound, and there’s a crack in the MetLife link.
Mike Francesa recently said that two pillars or New York sports will have their uniforms ripped off before they retire – Derek Jeter and Tom Coughlin. It will be easy enough to let Jeter go because his contract expires next year. And, on some level, everyone understands that baseball doesn’t allow for 40-year-old shortstops.
But Coughlin is a stickier endeavor. Even if it’s not his fault, it’s his fault, especially when two-thirds of the holy football trinity are exponentially younger. Jerry Reese was a genius three years ago. Eli was a Super Bowl MVP two years ago. Coughlin is just old, and can be dressed as the geezer whose game no longer resonates with the Key Demo.
It’s cold. But that’s football. And Tom Coughlin knows that better than anyone. He was able to save his job twice, each time winning the Super Bowl from the hot seat. But there’s no algorithm that puts the G-Men in the playoffs this year, not even for the professorial coach who taught us to believe in the unbelievable.
Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel
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