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Kurtzberg’s Corner: Defending Champion Giants Still Looking For Respect

No recent Super Bowl champion has received less respect than this year’s New York Giants. Despite winning their second Super Bowl in the last five years, most experts look at the Giants as more like the team that went 9-7-0 during the regular season than the team that beat the Falcons, Packers, 49ers and Patriots to win a title.

Jason Pierre-Paul. Photo by: Stacy Podelski

Sports Illustrated picked them to finish in second place and to miss the playoffs. Pro Football Weekly also have the Giants in second place but at least picked them to make the postseason as a wild card.

Sure, these Giants have weaknesses, but in this age of the salary cap and free agency, what NFL team doesn’t? Here’s the thing that many of the so-called experts overlook: the Giants are strong in the right areas of the game and that plus the way the organization is run, are the keys to their consistent success.

The modern NFL is a passing game and last year proved that. Ten quarterbacks surpassed the 4,000 yard mark in passing last year and three of them threw for more than 5,000 yards. The Giants have a clutch quarterback in Eli Manning who has no proven that he is indeed in the upper echelon of NFL passers. Manning is cool under pressure and plays his best in big games. He has already won a pair of Super Bowl titles and led his team to late game-winning drives in both of them.

If throwing the ball is the key to success in modern NFL offenses, then defensively, the most important thing to do is to stop opposing teams from throwing the ball on you. The best way to do that is by putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and the Giants do that as well as anybody in the league. Throw pass rushers like Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul at opposing passers and most are likely to be thrown off their game as the pressure comes at them in waves.

If you can move the ball through the air and prevent opposing teams from passing on you, that’s a pretty good way to ensure you will win a lot of football games. The days of “three yards and a cloud of dust”, “run to daylight” and “ground and pound” are more or less a thing of the past. You still need a serviceable running game to win in the NFL, but few teams rely on it as their primary method of attack anymore.

The Giants also have great continuity in their organization, something other successful teams like the Patriots, Steelers, Eagles and Packers have also used as a model for consistent success.

Coach Tom Coughlin has been with the Giants since 2004 and management doesn’t panic and fire him when the team struggles with injuries or even one slightly less than successful season. GM Jerry Reese has been with the organization since 1994 and at his present position with the organization since 2007.

The franchise has a definite philosophy and direction which they follow religiously despite fans or media outcries that they aren’t doing things the “right way.” Remember last year after the lockout when the Eagles were signing big name free agent after big name free agent and the Giants were losing a few starters but not replacing them with anybody from outside the organization? The fans were angry and the media critical but the Giants stayed the course and got the last laugh. The Giants won the Super Bowl, the Eagles missed the playoffs.

Super Bowl hangover is an issue for most title winning teams, but if any team can overcome it, it is the New York Football Giants. The lack of respect they are getting around the league will only help as they start their title defense Wednesday against the Cowboys.

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