Excerpt: "I spent the better part of my ride home from Sunday nightís game trying to think of a fitting analogy to best describe the Giantsí 2012 season.
I finally settled on a childhood favorite of mine, the fable of The Tortoise and the Hare by Aesop, which, if youíre not familiar, you can read here.Of if youíd rather have the condensed version of the tale, the gist of the story is that the hare, thinking he had all the time in the world to beat the tortoise in a race, decided to slack off only to awaken when it was too late Ė and to find that the tortoise, whom no one would have even imagined could beat a hare in a footrace, had indeed won.
So what does this have to do with the Giantsí 2012 season?
Repeatedly, we heard the players say after a loss that they werenít worried, that the season was a marathon and not a sprint.It was almost as though they were shrugging off that, like the hare in the fable, they had perhaps grown fat with their positive press clippings that came with being the defending Super Bowl champions or that perhaps someone would stumble, and all would be right again.
It didnít work out that way, and the Giants, after a disappointing second half of the season that saw two uninspired and forgettable losses to the Falcons and the Ravens, awoke from their slumber to thump the Eagles into oblivion.But it was too late. Gone was having destiny in their hand. And with that, gone was their chance of defending their world title.Itís a harsh lesson, but one that the Giants faithful can only hope that, whichever players are back next year, remembers and passes down to any of the new players who are coming in via free agency or the draft.
There are many hits to be handed out despite the Giants failed to get into the playoffs. Here are a few that stick out the most to me.
There must be something to playing against the Eagles for linebacker Chase Blackburn, who earlier in the season had one of his best games against Philly and who had yet another good game in the regular season finale. The Giantsí best pass rusher, Blackburn was all over the place, very nearly sacking quarterback Michael Vick., And when he wasnít harassing Vick, he was limiting the damage LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown tried to inflict against the Giants run defense.What was particularly impressive with Blackburn is that of his seven tackles, the majority came at or near the line of scrimmage and not seven or more yards down field, as we had seen from others on the defense in previous weeks.
I donít know what the future holds for Blackburn, an unrestricted free agent, but heís definitely one of the most underappreciated linebackers out there.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride split the carries between David Wilson and Ahmad Bradshaw, and guess what? both were effective, especially Bradshaw, who has operated on one leg almost all season. by reducing the workload, he was kept fresh, and boy did he look pretty good in the process.
Assuming he returns next season Ė right now itís probably 50/50 as heíll likely have to take a pay cut Ė I hope that he considers following his lead blocking a bit better than he did at times this year.
A solid showing from Martellus Bennett, who mostly blocked in this one and did so effectively. He spoke the day after about how he hoped to be back next year Ė heís an unrestricted free agent Ė because he believes that another year in this offense will put him and Eli Manning together on the same page, something that wasnít always evident this year.
People like to pick on offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride Ė why I honestly donít know Ė but give him and the rest of the staff credit for aggressively going after the Eaglesí defenseís weak link, the linebackers, who were at fault for a couple of big Giants pass gains, including one of Manningís five touchdown throws that came on a wheel route.
I thought both Giants offensive tackles turned in good games.
David Diehl, who went up against DE Brandon Graham, needed very little help and while Graham was successful with some early game pressures, credit Diehl for tightening his bootstraps and shutting the youngster down.
Will Beatty was almost spotless in his showing. I donít think we heard Trent Coleís name uttered once Ė and thatís saying a lot considering Cole is one of the Eaglesí best pass rusher, if not their best. While Beatty appeared to be the guilty part who yielded the Eaglesí lone sack, it was hard to tell if Philip Hunt, the linebacker was supposed to be blocked by Kevin Boothe.
And how can I forget the entire organization for reaching out to the Sandy Hook Elementary School community?
The Giants hosted roughly 200 teachers, parents, students, and administrators, making them a big part of the pregame ceremony and it was just one of the most touching things Iíve witnessed.
To see all those little bundled up children ó well letís just say I didnít need my binoculars to take note of how wide their eyes were in getting the opportunity to mingle with their heroes. It was simply an awesome way to pay tribute to a community that was rocked to its core by a senseless act of violence that we might never understand.
And along those lines, kudos to the Eagles, who were just as responsive as when they ran out of the tunnel trough the group assembled on their side, their players stopped to high-five all the children. As one of my colleagues had said at the time, that was a sure-fired way to stop the crowd from booing, and sure enough, the Giants fans, always classy, did just that.
Finally, love him or hate him, former Eagles head coach Andy Reid had a tough season, both personally and professionally. Perhaps the most devastating blow to him was losing his son Garrett back in August, an occurrence that no parent should have to go through.Yet Reid somehow found the strength to carry on and continue to coach, even as the team around him was falling apart. Sure, heís gotten the better of the Giants these past few years, but I think we can all agree that what he went through what with losing his son puts everything into perspective." Read more...