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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Contrary to the Ny Sports Media, John Mara is not too Patient

     With the emphasis on too. I notice that the sports writers all framed Mara’s press conference as laying down a ‘win or you’re done’ scenario. I’m not so sure that this is what he said. In any case. He said he ‘didn’t disagree’ that next year is a ‘Win or else proposition for a lot of people in the organization.’ 

    Maybe that’s what he meant. In any case I think that there is too much hunger in the media for ‘Win or else propositions.’ All the writers in today seem to think that Mara has been perhaps patient to a fault and they all want to emphasize that this year is win or else-they had baptized this past year the same thing of course. 
    Here’s Mike Vaccaro:
    “There are more than a few Giants fans for whom the Mara Way — on display Tuesday with the official retention of Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese — is a frustrating way, a body-at-rest-tends-to-stay-at-rest endorsement of status quo. They are entitled to feel that way; even Super Bowl wins don’t eliminate statutes of limitations for executives or shelf lives for coaches.”
     Let me just say this: I am one of the biggest Giant fans out there. Friends that go with me to Applebees on a Sunday afternoon can attest to that. I really don’t feel ‘frustrated’ right now. I mean yes, the last 2 years have been disappointed. However, I do not feel frustrated like I wanted Coughlin’s head on a pike. 
    I also want to say I don’t think that we as Giants fans can in any meaningful way claim to be ‘long suffering.’  Vaccaro likens Mara to ‘Job.’ I disagree. You know who is long-suffering and have to have the patience of Job? Jets fans. They haven’t won a Super Bowl in 45 years. I would call myself a long-suffering Knicks fan, certainly with James Dolan owning the team. I mean this year as a Knicks fan I didn’t expect much but 5-27?! 
    Even as a Ranger fan I remember when we overcame the Curse of 1940 but now it’s 20 years-are we headed for the Curse o 1994? Still at least we went to the Stanley Cup last year. 
    I’m a Yankees fan and let’s face it Yankees fans are anything but long suffering. It does seem like a long time since we won a World Series-2009- but only because this is the Yankees-we feel like it’s supposed to be our title every year. Even our time in the wilderness lasted only 4 years-1989-1992. 
    As a Giants fan we were once long suffering, In the 70s after The Fumble when that plane flew over about 15 years of football-we inspired the Jets fans this year with the ‘Fire Idzik’ plane. 
   Let’s be real though. Today we’re not long suffering. Since The Fumble we got LT and Phil Simms and Bill Parcells and then Coughlin, Manning, etc. In the last 30 years the Giants have been as good as any NFL team. I mean we’ve had 4 Super Bowls and were in another one in 2000 even though we lost badly on that day to Baltimore-hey the Jets haven’t even been to one since the Namath guarantee. So 4 wins in 5 Super Bowl appearances. 
   Meanwhile you have teams that have never been to one and many more teams that have never won one. So to me the talk about patience is a little overdone. What a lot of the media seem not to be able to get over is the idea that ‘the Giants have missed the playoffs the last 3 years and 5 of the last 6.’ 
   They are trying to spin the numbers in the most uncharitable way possible. I mean look at the Oakland Raiders in that same period. This year they were 3-13 this year and the talk around the league is ‘Gee, the Raiders were a lot better this year.’
   It’s not like the Giants have been a last place team every year during this supposed 6 year period of futility, like the Redskins-and during this futile period there was a Super Bowl win. To me in Oakland there should be impatience. I mean with the Bengals the knock is that they have made the playoffs the last 4 years but they never win a playoff game. So do you fire the coach? Well before he got here they hadn’t made the playoffs in 20 years. 
       A little perspective is in order. I notice that no one every criticizes Bellichick and Brady though they haven’t won a Super Bowl title since 2004. In that time the Giants have won 2-and the team they beat twice just happens to be the Pats. 
     So what do you say? Well, yeah but every year the Pats have a great record and are one of the top Super Bowl contenders? Yeah but they haven’t gone all the way in 10 years. Should their fans be ‘impatient?’  
     I’m just playing Devil’s Advocate and trying to give the conversation a little perspective. In 2012 the Bears were tired of making the playoffs but going no further. The owner got impatient, which evidently is a great virtue. Meanwhile the team has missed the playoffs the last 2 years and this year was 5-11 and looked very bad getting blown away too many times to count. 
    If anything, it seems to me that in sports, certainly in the NFL, patience is a virtue. Obviously there is a time to pull the trigger-probably the Jets had to do so on Monday. 
   Still what is the characteristic of winning teams? Usually these teams have a head coach, a GM, and a franchise QB that are in place for a long time. Not every season will be a Super Bowl even in the best organizations. It’s the nature of the beast. 
   As Vaccro does point out, this is not the first time there have been calls for Coughlin’s head. We had them in 2006 and 2010. In those cases ‘patience’ turned out to be a virtue. In the NFL having a new coach every few years is not a virtue. 
   A lot of pundits seem offended that Coughlin is somehow living off his Super Bowl rings. As Mara said, if you really believed that the coach is past it it’d make no sense to bring him back no matter how many rings he had in the past as the future is what counts in the NFL. 
    Still, when making a decision, you always have to factor in the whole body of work. Coughlin’s is impressive. The fact that he won it all twice before means you know he can do it again. 
     One knock as a Giants fan I often have heard-very often from disgruntled Pats fans-is that the Giants may have won those two years but they weren’t the best teams in either year. It is interesting that both teams didn’t have superb regular seasons and only came on late in the year. 
    Jerry Reese yesterday said he didn’t think those were even the best Giants teams personnel wise. In 2011 the team was 7-7 after 14 games. If this is true that only makes Coughlin a greater coach. He was twice able to rally an underdog team that had to play a wildcard game to win 4 straight times-only 1 home game in the two campaigns-to win it all. If that’s not the picture of a great coach I don’t know what is. 
    So of course his past body of work is factored in when assessing him today. Often times you hear ‘what if he hadn’t won those two Super Bowls but only made the playoffs’-of course it’d be different as his record would be weaker. Obviously when assessing an 11 year record a better record will give you a better assessment I don’t get the hangup. 
    So I’m glad he’s back. I don’t really see what’s the use of characterizing this year as ‘win or else.’ I mean what do you mean by win? A winning season, a playoff season, a Super Bowl? To say win the SB or else is absurd. You know who used to do things like that? George Steinbrenner. Still the team only became great when he stopped changing the manager every year or even twice during the year. 
    I’m sorry but when you own a team in the pros, impatience is not a virtue, no matter what the pundits may want to think. 
    Look, I want next year to be better as much as any Giants fan and I think it will be. But I just don’t see that making 2015 about ‘Coughlin better win or else’ is going to help the team play better. You don’t want to create this narrative as it’s not productive. There are too many factors that can come into play. You shouldn’t tie your own hands and limit your own options for a new season 9 months away. 

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