Every year it happens.
Every year throughout the Manning-Coughlin tandem - that has brought so much success to the Giants - there is a swoon, a grey pallor that covers the G-men.
It can be hard to notice because of the crunch of metal coming from that train wreck known as the New York Jets, but Giants fans...it's back again.
And it feels very different from years past.
Swoons are one thing, but who are these guys? They are the Super Bowl champs - the same guys who destroyed Aaron Rodgers, outplayed Harbaugh, and smashed Tom Brady last year.
There is something missing this year, a sense of urgency, perhaps. The team I spoke of would never lie down and take a 34-0 trip to the woodshed. Atlanta beat them like Tom Coughlin owed Mike Smith money, dated his sister and kicked his dog all in the same day. In all phases.
If there is a "switch on flip", you better damn well flip it, because there are only two games left. First, at desperate Baltimore, who needs the win almost as much as the Giants, and then home to Philly, who would like nothing better than to remove their hated rival from the playoffs. Their fate is in their own hands so, as Vince Vaughn once said,"No excuses, play like a champion."
Here's a holiday wish list to keep the coal out of the Giant's stocking:
1. A wide receiver to step up. Nicks is Hurt, Cruz is getting smashed over the middle and the Giants miss Mario Manningham more than Adam Sandler misses his self respect. Domenik Hixon, Rueben Randle, Ramses Barden, Jerrel Jernigan...one of you has to stand up and be a third option at receiver. Or you can continue to see the safety flood the middle of the field to take away Bennett and Bradshaw. You simply cannot win games at this time of the season with such a limited set of outside receivers.
2. STOP GIVING UP THE BIG PLAY!!! The Giants have lead the league in giving up plays of 20 yards or more and it is killing them. Because of this all teams they play have the ability to strike quickly and no lead is safe. Remember Dez Bryant's last second reception at the Death Star? The one where his hand was just out of bounds?THE ONE THAT EVERYONE SAW COMING?!?!? I know it did not result in a TD, but it illustrates the point perfectly.
3. A pass rush would be nice. In the past the Giants have made up for bad secondaries with a savage pass rush. There is to my knowledge, no existent pass pressure coming from the Giants front seven, never mind the front four. In the last three games, two sacks and little if any pressure. It starts with intimidation and dominance for the G-men on defense, teams have to be afraid that their QB is at risk or the whole thing breaks down. The Giants smashed the two best teams they played (San Francisco and Green Bay) by sacking them 11 times. Do you need anymore proof?Hit somebody. For Santa.
4. The running game must contribute. That means a healthy Ahmad Bradshaw. He represents the fire and spirit of the Giants offense,and most of all, it's heart. He does all the hard things, gets all the tough yards, both in the passing game and on the ground. As much as I like David Wilson, it's Bradshaw who makes the wheels turn on the ground and has come through over and over for them. They need him to dig down deep for one more run at the promised land.
5. "Good Eli,"must show up. When Eli Manning plays well, the Giants crush people, that's the simple fact. When he doesn't......not so much. If Eli is off, the Giants as a whole tend to crater. The Atlanta game is a perfect example. When he struggled, the rest of the team not only followed him off the cliff, they pushed him out of the way to jump first. Eli has never been a sure bet to be the man every Sunday and his facial expressions make him look like someone ripped one in the huddle, but he has been Mr.December for the Giants. Wherever they go, success or failure, Eli will lead them there.