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November 6, 2009 5:07 AM

Giants' fans looking for answers

eli falls.jpgA poor guy stumbled into the Grill Room earlier this week. He was dressed in some off-blue garb, and hadn't shaved in about a week. It looked like it had been even longer since he'd slept.

When he finally got up to the bar, he leaned in, looked both ways and quietly said he was a Giants fan -- that he'd been everywhere looking for answers, and somebody had sent him to us.

No sweat, we told him, you've come to the right place. He pulled up a stool, and we set him up with a cold one. We told him we got his type in here all the time -- especially at this point in the NFL season.

We explained that it's generally around this time when contenders become pretenders, you realize you have been putting lipstick on your pig of a team, and those high hopes have gone the way of your 401k.

But he just shook his head. This dude was in a really bad way, and wasn't ready for any straight talk yet.

After knocking back a shot of our best stuff, he said he had been having this recurring nightmare the past few weeks. He said that in this nightmare he was blind and had lost everything. Worse, when he'd  ask for help the only person that would come forward was some dude named C.C. Brown.
Cripes, the poor guy broke out in a cold sweat just recounting this tale.

Hell, we didn't know whether to call a doctor or slide him another drink. Of course, we did the latter -- ya know, given the state of health care and everything.

Then we started a little intervention with the guy.

We told him that three weeks ago anybody who claimed to know anything about football had the Giants as one of the two or three best teams in the game, so he wasn't alone in bemoaning their sudden death spiral.

We told him that none of the others were having nightmares, just looking for another bandwagon to hop on.
Sipping his drink now, he said that absolutely wasn't an option. Said he'd lived in a Giants house since the '60s, and there'd be no moving now.
But he was curious where people were jumping.
We told him all the likely places, but mostly on that good ol' dependable Tony Romo three-wheeled wagon that eventually gets to rolling sideways.

We could tell that kinda hurt the guy, but it also brought the first smile to his face since he'd walked in the joint. He even snickered a bit.

We poured him another pop and told him that we were big believers in the Giants around this joint, too -- even called them the most dependable team in the league, a few weeks ago. He just shook his head in acknowledgment.

So he asked what in the name of Wellington Mara had happened to his beloved squad?!
That's when we poured one for ourselves, looked at each other and laid it out for him.

We told him that a few weeks ago the Saints exposed the Giants as being utterly predictable -- that very dependability was now working against them.
Think about it, we said, the alleged strength of the team is the offensive and defensive lines.

The Saints mitigated the Giants' defensive strength by going into a max-protect mode. By giving Brees and the two receivers they'd send out on the primary routes plenty of time, they were able to expose Brown and the depleted Giants' secondary.
Well, we knew we made another mistake the minute Brown's name came out of our mouths. The Giant fan kind of doubled over on the bar, and had trouble catching his breath.

So we moved on fast before we lost him. We told him that the defense also wasn't flying to the ball or tackling anymore. We told him the linebackers were never spotted in the enemy's backfield. We also broke it to him that while Antonio Pierce was certainly the QB of the defense, he was also tackling like one.

So what's the answer, he asked?

We told him that it was on that statue of a defensive coach they promoted this year, Bill Sheridan. We told him the guy needed to drop his safties deep (we didn't mention Brown by name this time) and make sure everything was kept in front of them.
Then he needed his current defense to do what the great Giants defenses of the past have always done -- stop the run. Forget the pass rush, just fill the gaps, and stop the run.

We told him that once the run was stopped teams would get into predictable passing situations. That's when they'd get their shot at the QB.

And the offense, he asked?
Well, that one required another bottle of our best stuff...

We told him it started with the QB. He slowly nodded. We told him that Manning's foot might be in worse shape than people feared, but that he also has never been the world's most accurate passer. The fan nodded again.

We told him that two things could fix all this lickity-split.
1) Pick up the tempo on offense. Every time Eli lines up under center these days, he has a confab with himself. Get to the line of scrimmage and run the play you called. Be bold and definitive. Script the first 15 plays or so and run 'em. Attack, don't react. If necessary go no-huddle.
2) Be completely stubborn about running the ball.

That's it, he said?

That's it, we said.

And if the Chargers still beat the Giants on Sunday, he asked?

Put away the lipstick, and enjoy your pig. 

Take your pick

For informational purposes only...some picks for Week 9 action around the NFL brought to you by folks who most likely know as much about the game as you do:
CBS Sports

CBS Sports

This Week's Grill Room NFL 100-PROOF lock: San Francisco over Tennessee, minus-3.5:
So after the debacle we called service last week, you don't want talk. Like the Giants' fan above, you want answers. We understand. After Carolina and their raggedy-armed QB threw the ball all of 14 times yet still hammered the up-and-down Cardinals last Sunday, you aren't looking for explanations, you are looking for a good frickin' return on your dollar. We get that.
Well, after looking over the NFL menu, we've found the obvious choice to help settle your stomach. Expect a 49er team that lost by a combined seven points to Houston and Indianapolis on the road the last two weeks to bury Vince Young and the visiting Titans in a heapin' helpin' of home cookin' on Sunday. 'Nuff said.

(Season record: 4-4)

Tape it up
  • To get the latest on all the aches and breaks around the NFL go here.
  • Bad things happen to very good teams like the Colts.
TV Time
If you can't stop by the
Grill Room, here's the college and pro football fare that's cooking on the tube this weekend:
(For our U.S. military viewers and their families overseas the games American Forces Network will be showing are in bold.)

Friday, Nov. 6
Boise State at Louisiana Tech, 8 p.m., ESPN2

Saturday, Nov. 7
Northwestern at Iowa, Noon, ESPN

Central Florida at Texas, Noon, FSN
Syracuse at Pittsburgh, Noon, ESPNU
Purdue at Michigan, Noon, Big Ten Network
Illinois at Minnesota, Noon, Big Ten Network
Wisconsin at Indiana, Noon, Big Ten Network
Western Michigan at Michigan State, Noon, Big Ten Network
BYU at Wyoming, 2 p.m., Mtn.
Navy at Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m., NBC
LSU at Alabama, 3:30 p.m., CBS
Ohio State at Penn State, 3:30 p.m., ABC
Wake Forest at Georgia Tech, 3:30 p.m., ABC
Oklahoma State at Iowa State, 3:30 p.m., ABC
Oregon at Stanford, 3:30 p.m., FSN
Duke at North Carolina, 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
Army at Air Force, 3:30 p.m., CBS CSN
TCU at San Diego State, 4 p.m., Versus
New Mexico at Utah, 6 p.m., Mtn.
Oregon State at California, 7 p.m., FSN
Memphis at Tennessee, 7 p.m., ESPNU
Vanderbilt at Florida, 7:15 p.m., ESPN2
Houston at Tulsa, 7:30 p.m., CBS CSN
Florida State at Clemson, 7:45 p.m., ESPN
Connecticut at Cincinnati, 8 p.m., ABC
Oklahoma at Nebraska, 8 p.m., ABC
USC at Arizona State, 8 p.m., ABC
Colorado State at UNLV, 10 p.m., Mtn.
Fresno State at Idaho, 10:30 p.m., ESPNU

Sunday, Nov. 8
(Byes: Buffalo, Cleveland, Minnesota, N.Y. Jets, Oakland, St. Louis)
Washington at Atlanta 1 p.m.
Arizona at Chicago 1 p.m.
Baltimore at Cincinnati 1 p.m.
Houston at Indianapolis 1 p.m.
Kansas City at Jacksonville 1 p.m.
Miami at New England 1 p.m.
Green Bay at Tampa Bay 1 p.m.
Carolina at New Orleans 4:05 p.m.
Detroit at Seattle 4:05 p.m.
San Diego at N.Y. Giants 4:15 p.m.
Tennessee at San Francisco 4:15 p.m.
Dallas at Philadelphia 8:20 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 9
Pittsburgh at Denver 8:30 p.m.

(, photo)

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