Winning sure can cure everything when the road you’re on is one where you feel like the vehicle you’re traveling in is a clown car and the destination is a win column that only contains a zero. The New York Football Giants got their first win of the 2013 NFL season and it certainly is something that can be expounded upon.
Head coach Tom Coughlin has been the same motivator and mental supporter for his players that former New York Giant defensive end Michael Strahan reflects upon. If you’re unsure what exactly ole’ No. 92 has said about his former coach, pick up Coughlin’s book: “Earn The Right To Win” and read the five-page foreword.
The 67-year-old old school coach has been asking his team, “Who’s gonna light the match that ignites the sidelines?” and eventually some responded. More times than not this season, the team became punctured over mishaps, mistakes and flat-out subpar play on all three sides of the ball.
Frank and straightforward defensive back and all-out team leader, Antrel Rolle has taken it upon himself to leave it all out on the field each week. In week seven, he provided that spark, several times. The positive-minded Rolle not only had an interception, but provided a crucial turnover on special teams as well.
In the third quarter of the game when second-year wideout Rueben Randle fumbled the ball on a punt return, it was Rolle’s one-handed pick of Vikings quarterback Josh Freeman that not only stopped the Minnesota Vikings from scoring any points, but perhaps prevented the possible deflation of the blue sidelines once again. No. 26 again hyped up the home team (and subsequently the crowd at MetLife) by laying a special teams hit on Minnesota rookie defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd that caused him to fumble a Steve Weatherford punt. Giants went on to score another field goal within 70 seconds and the lead with a little over 11 minutes left in the game.
Another catalyst for Coughlin’s proposed sidelines excitement is a player that was perhaps a huge question mark as far as mid-season trades go: linebacker Jon Beason. His stats and on-the-field performance have basically erased that doubt many had in general Manager Jerry Reese’s trade for the middle ‘backer. Once upon a time, No. 54 also played defensive back in college for a bit — an experience that can only help him in defensive coordinator Perry Fewell’s system. Beason knows the platform he’s on as well as the opportunity afforded him. Plus, he’s back with fellow University of Miami teammate, Antrel Rolle and appears to be already speaking to the press like a New York Giant.
“It’s a big stage, man. Everybody knows about the Giants. You’re on prime time all the time, the media coverage is No. 1 and when you do well, things get magnified and when you do bad, things are the same. You know what, great players like that. They like that pressure. That’s what being a Giant is. You‘re supposed to uphold a certain level of performance,” Beason said Thursday.
One last inspiration is a facet some may argue: a more physical run game. An almost comical amount of injuries to the blue backfield have placed running backs Brandon Jacobs and Peyton Hillis, along with fullback John Conner, behind and alongside quarterback Eli Manning. While the yardage is still suffering (67.3 yards/game, 3.2 yards/carry average), the fact that a run threat has started to emerge, the play-action has again opened up, and these in-season additions have added the dimension of a short pass/check-down passing game has aided the signal-caller and allowed the offense to chew time off the clock. In the last two games (Chicago/Minnesota), the run to pass ratio has been 26:26 and 32:39 respectively. No more one-sided pass-happy offense.
Little by little, if the Giants continue to get healthy, build from the continued team “sparks,” and fix the penalties and mental errors, while Antrel Rolle’s optimistic belief system may very well work in Coughlin and the Giants’ favor.
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