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December 26th, 2006

New York, New York

I'm not one of those fair weather football fans. I've always believed that your team is your team, and you root for them every week of every season, whether they are good, bad, or indifferent.

That being sad, it was hard to be a Giants fan this past weekend. Their play against the Saints was absolutely disgraceful. This is an enormously talented team that seems to have no heart, no head, and no discipline. Tom Coughlin needs to be fired. For all the talk about what a hard-ass he is, he actually seems to be a candy-ass when it comes to disciplining his team. Bob Whitfield helped blow a game a couple of weeks ago when he head-butted an opponent after a play was over, drawing a fifteen yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Pretty stupid for a fifteen-year veteran, but okay, everyone gets angry sometimes. Then, against the Saints, Whitfield does EXACTLY THE SAME THING again, head-butting a Saint after the play and drawing another fifteen yarder. At that point, Coughlin should have shown the idiot to the bench and sat him down for the rest of the game... but no, he keeps him in, and sure enough, a couple quarters later, Whitfield gets ANOTHER costly fifteen-yard penalty. This is NOT discipline.

And Eli... don't get me started. If Coughlin had any guts, Eli would have been benched by now. Parcells did not hesitate to bench Drew Bledsoe and insert Tony Romo at halftime in the first game between the Cowboys and the G-Men, and it turned the entire Cowboys season around. Last night, Nick Saban pulled Joey Harrington and inserted Cleo Lemon for the Dolphins against the Jets, and the week before, in Minnesota, Brad Childress sat down Brad Johnson and put in Tavaris Jackson. The Jets won both those games, true, but in both cases the new QB gave the team a much-needed spark. I can't help but wonder if Jared Lorenzen might not provide the same sort of spark for the Giants. The kid is huge and raw and has an absolute cannon for an arm, and he looked pretty good in pre-season, but it has become plain that Coughlin is never going to give him a chance, no matter how badly Eli Manning plays.

Pfui. I say, fire Coughlin, and play the Hefty Lefty.

The weird thing is, the Giants still have a good chance to sneak into the playoffs. If they do, they will be the worst playoff team of all time. It's a disgrace, really. Tiki deserved to go out on top, not like this.

On the other hand, I have the Jets, who won another good one last night against the Dolphins. That was a lovely Xmas present. Nearly gave me a coronary, however. I went out to Christmas dinner with some friends, so I did not watch the game live. No problem, though, I had TIVO set up to record it for me, so after everyone went home I settled down in front of the television to watch. The first three quarters were not the most exciting football I've ever seen, it must be said -- it was pouring in Miami, and in the steady rain neither offense could seem to get untracked. There was some good hitting, though, and both teams hung in there. The Jets had a 3-0 lead at the end of the third quarter, but then Nick Saban went to Cleo Lemon at QB and suddenly the Dolphins came alive. They roared down the field for a TD, but the Jets came right back with a TD of their own on a great toss from Chad to Jericho, who stretched out like Plastic Man as he was falling to get the ball across the goal. With time running out, the Jets D rose up and stopped the Dolphins three-and-out, and I thought the game might be safely in hand... until a lousy, short punt took a bad hop and hit one of the Jets in the back and the Dolphins recovered deep in Jets territory. My heart lurched. The Jets have a long history of having games and seasons destroyed by freak plays like this, strange moments that somehow turn everything around... and sure enough, the Dolphins took the ball and were advancing deep into Jets territory for a go-ahead TD or a tying field goal, and then... URK... my TIVO recording ended abruptly!!! The game had run past its allotted slot.

So I never saw the end. Fortunately for my sanity, the end was a good one. The Dolphins did indeed tie it up, and the ensuing kickoff had the Jets back deep in their own territory, but then Little Leon the rookie broke a 64-yard run on a screen pass, and Mike Nugent kicked a game-winning field goal as time ran out.

What hey. Maybe these aren't the Same Old Jets. The Same Old Jets would certainly have fallen apart after the punt took that freak hop, but these Jets bore down and came back. Leon was great... but I have to credit Chad and Eric Mangini as well.

Of course, the acid test will come next weekend, when the Jets host the dismal Raiders. Win, and they are in the playoffs. The Raiders are 2-13. Nonetheless, the Same Old Jets of years past would find a way to lose and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Can Mangini prevent that? We shall see. A Jets fan never makes assumptions.

As for the Giants... I want Charlie Weis and Scott Pioli next season, thank you very much. If Weis can't turn Eli around, no one can... but if that happens, I'd hope that at least Charlie would have the guts to try Lorenzen. Let's see what the Pillsbury Throw Boy can do!

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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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