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Are The Giants Just A Tired, Old, Vaudeville Act?

Are The Giants Just A Tired Old Vaudeville Act?
By Martin Alvin

Many years ago, before my time -– and I’m older than dinosaur shit –- there was something called Vaudeville. Vaudeville was live, variety, stage entertainment. Not stage plays or live rock concerts, but rather, variety stage shows consisting of multiple acts: singers, acrobats, dancers, magicians and comedians. And these Vaudeville variety shows were performed for set periods of time –- “dates” or “engagements” –- at various venues along the Vaudeville circuit, throughout the United States. Then, came Television and goodbye, Vaudeville.

First of all, TV was free. Secondly, the audience didn’t have to travel to see the show; the show traveled to the audience’s living room. And after a while, out of necessity, many of old time Vaudeville performers gravitated to TV. Which brings me to the third reason for Vaudeville’s demise, and oddly, enough, possibly the same reason for NY Giants demise:

Vaudeville acts –- whether individuals or more then one person -– evolved over the years as the performers played their way through the circuit. And over time, because of constant repetition –- like constant football practice and football games — these acts were sharpened and perfected into a polished finished product. And because people couldn’t go to see those products more than once or twice an engagement, the product never got old and stale.

But when these performers found themselves on TV, they couldn’t do the same product over and over again because the audience — though appreciative of the product — would get tired of seeing it over and over again. New products had to be created, polished and performed. Some Vaudevillians were able to adapt to this, but many others weren’t; and eventually, they just disappeared –- like old dinosaur shit.

The Giants are like that once great Vaudeville performer who wowed audiences with a great product, and even managed to sustain that product over many years. But because of constant exposure, the Giants’ product has suddenly grown old. Not just chronologically, old; but rather, old as in obsolete. For example:

Pro Football Focus tells us the Giants pass rush is still getting to the opposing QB in about 3.5 seconds –- which used to be pretty good, if the opposing QB was holding the ball that long or longer. But opposing QBs are getting rid of the ball against the Giants in about 2.8 seconds. You don’t need a mathematics degree to realize the pass rush will not get there because opposing offenses have adapted. The Giants defense, however, hasn’t. And like the old Vaudeville performer, who couldn’t come up with a new product, the Giants are fading away. Which begs the question: why can’t the Giants adapt?

And since opposing offenses are having such great success getting rid of the ball faster than the Giants’ four man rush and/or blitzes can get to them, why hasn’t the Giants offense done the same thing with an up-tempo, quick pass, offense instead of the plodding, huddle-up-play-after-play, long-count-before-the-snap, five and seven step drops that are averaging a pathetic 17 points per game and getting Eli killed? Again, why can’t the Giants adapt? And why isn’t Mr. Mara, Mr. Tisch or Mr. Reese asking that same hard question.

Maybe, over the last eleven days, the Giants have finally managed to adapt with some long overdue adjustments. Maybe they finally figured out how to blitz, or create sacks with their coverage and not with just a four-man rush. Maybe they figured out how to unsettle the other team with an up-tempo, quick-pass-play, down hill-running offense. Or, maybe they just spent the last eleven days trying to perfect the same exact act they’ve been performing for the last decade -– which every opponent knows by heart and which every fan is sick and tired of seeing.

And worst of all, maybe Mr. Mara, Mr. Tisch and Mr. Reese are just too young to remember Vaudeville. Because as the late Spanish philosopher George Santayana said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

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3 Responses to “Are The Giants Just A Tired, Old, Vaudeville Act?”

  1. DP says:

    I would bet the Giants the spent the past 11 days trying to perfect their stale act. Reviewing over and over whatever their ‘self-scouting’ component has come up and looking at ways to improve the performance and execution of what they might consider their bread and butter. They probably have spent an inordinate amount of practice time on Offense going over goal-line situations and converting 4th and one situations. How much time did they spend going over getting out of the 2nd and long and 3rd and long holes they find themselves in regularly? They certainly appear to be in far more 2nd and longs situations than 4th and 1 on the goal-line. I hope they spent ample practice time working on the realities of their current situation and where they find themselves as opposed to following the old and stale routine of practice. I have been reading some interesting articles on how the football version of analytics has begun to make its way into the NFL as a means toward innovation.

    There are those who believe that once football grabs hold of analytics the sport will be redefined. Are the Giants as an organization open to innovation? and who is the Giants Head of Analytics? – I have heard that 2/3 of the teams in the NFL, including the 49ers and Bears have established Analytics Departments within their organization. Among the remaining 1/3 who apparently have not embraced Analytics is the Steelers, a notable holdout who has shown no interest or curiosity. Which Group are the Giants in?

    I have been on JR about his drafts and have paid particular attention to his use of 4th round picks in recent years. If Mr. Reese is not aware, it appears that less than 15% of the 4th round picks ever become starters in the NFL per one of the Analytic companies that serves the NFL; this information may help JR as he looks at the 2014 draft.

    Teams are using analytics as a source of objective data to complement the subjective nature of scouting, not replace scouting. You still have to scout, however, it has become increasingly clear that analytics now has its place in the NFL. Have the NY Giants embraced this new innovation?

  2. I like Pro Football Focus, it’s inexpensive and they provide that objective player to player analysis for every snap. You can very quickly tell who had a good game and bad game by the numbers. You can also see for example that the reason the Giants did so well running the ball against the Bears, and likely will against the Vikings this Monday night — their run defenses have been putrid.

  3. Bob says:

    Great article Marvin, I really think that it says it all. The Giants have always been slow to adapt. From the 1960’s then the 1970’s and now with this rut the team is in of 0-6. Change is very difficult for them, they are much too loyal with coaches and some players.

    This off season will tell us fans where the Giants of the future will be going. I would think that Mr. Mara and Mr. Tish, being the savvy business men that are will have to change for 2014. This by no means presents the present Coach as a failure he has been better than any of us could have ever hoped, but it is time for the ownership to do their due diligence and plain ahead and make the necessary changes for winning football games. Now and in the future.

    Thank you.

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