Giants Pulling Plugs — But Is That Enough?
By Martin Alvin
When I was a kid, I had a beat up, old, 1975 Mercury Cougar with a 351 Cleveland Engine with close to 200,000 miles on it. The engine rings were worn and oil seeped into the right front cylinder, fouling the plug; and every few thousand miles, the engine would start to misfire. I couldn’t afford an engine overhaul, so, I carried around extra spark plugs and a spark plug socket. Whenever the engine started misfiring, I’d pull over, pop the hood, pull the plug — which was invariably caked in black gunk — and install a new plug. But I never actually addressed the engine problem and eventually, the car wound up in a junkyard in Corona.
The 2013 Giants reminded me a lot of that beat-to-shit old Cougar, because, like my old car, they were a team in deterioration. The Giants team that had won two Super Bowls in the last six years, stunk on offense, on defense and on special teams; and bad personnel moves were haunting them. And, as a result, they experienced their first losing season in ten years.
And, similarly, their off-season response to their deterioration reminds me a little of my response to my old Cougar’s deterioration. I simply plugged in a new spark plug and the Giants appear to have simply plugged in Ben McAdoo. And while they’ve now fired both Jerald Ingram and Mike Pope –- two of their best assistants –- they’ve retained Kevin Gilbride Jr. whose receivers are dysfunctional, Sean Ryan, whose QB had the worst year of his career as a starter, and special teams coach Tom Quinn, whose units have been God-awful forever. Seems like the Giants are doing the same kind of half-assed job I did back when I was just a kid.
Tom Coughlin calls Ben McAdoo a blue-collar guy from Western Pennsylvania, which, I guess, is supposed to be an asset; but how many football coaches are blue-collar guys from Western Pennsylvania? A lot, I’d think. Does that make them better coaches than the ones from Eastern Pennsylvania? From Ohio? From Montana? And he worked with Aaron Rogers for the last two years and Rogers had great years; but is that really attributable to McAdoo? Hell, if I was coaching Aaron Rogers –- and I know less about coaching than I do about Mercury Cougars -– he’d still have had great years, because he’s a great QB. McAdoo promises to install an aggressive, up-tempo attack. But, c’mon, all coordinators say that. I’ve never heard one say they’re going to install a passive, slow-as-shit, attack.
The Giants seem to think they’re only one new coordinator away from getting back into the hunt, and I have to wonder if they’re being a little too optimistic because they eked out a 7-9 season instead of a 5-11 season. Bill Parcells always said: “You are what your record says you are.” And he probably said that in response to guys on 5-11 teams who proudly declare: ”We’re not a 5-11 team!” Or, guys on 7-9 teams who think 7-9 instead of 5-11 is a major step up. But, let’s face it, 5-11 is 5-11 and 7-9 is 7-9 and both records suck.
Seems to me, there’s been a lot of, “we’re-better-than-our-record-says-we-are,” crap being spun around here. For example, since the Jets beat the Colts in SB III, they haven’t won a championship of any kind. And yet, this same Jets team that hasn’t accomplished anything in forty-five years, actually cheered their 2013, 8-8 season almost as loudly as they’ve been cheering their two most recent Championship Game flops.
The Giants have to stop acting like the Jets; they are what their record says they are: 7-9, and watching the playoffs from their couches, just like the rest of us are. A 7-9 season is a losing season, regardless of how it was compiled. Would it have been a worse season if they’d lost the last six games instead of the first six? Would it have mattered if the nine loses were spread out through the season? It makes no difference how the wins and loses totaled 7-9; the fact is, they totaled 7-9. So, in spite of going from 0-6 to 7-3 down the stretch, Big Blue’s, 2013 season stunk.
So, why is pulling the plug on Kevin Gilbride Sr. –- and now Ingram and Pope — the solution to the deterioration of the Giants team any different than me just pulling a plug on my beat up old Cougar? The Cougar’s engine was shot and needed more then just a new plug. The Giants team is shot and needs more than just a new OC. I repeat; Tom Quinn’s special teams stink. Kevin Gilbride Junior’s receivers are dysfunctional. Sean Ryan’s QB had the worst season of his career. C’mon, guys, all you did was pull a plug and replace it with another, just like I did when I was a kid. But I had an excuse; I was just a dumb kid. You guys should be smart enough and adult enough to know that just pulling a plug isn’t enough.