Yes, blog commenters, we’ve been analyzing Super Bowl XLVI more than enough times to count. So let’s see if we can keep these final thoughts on the game relatively short and ‘super’ sweet. As a reminder, follow us on Twitter tonight for intragame comments.
1) Follow the Gronk. Be alert for a scenario of partial or reasonable effectiveness early and then a disappearing act after halftime. The Giants (and their fans) all expect him to play, so we are operating under the Dwight Freeney model of presence felt early and then significantly diminished output after the 30 minute break. Why is Gronkowski so important? Follow the TDs. GRONK LED THE PATS IN TOUCHDOWNS. And it wasn’t even close. 18 for him, the next closest was the law firm with 11 from up close. Welker had 9. Hernandez 7. So the difference in that offense with and without him is huge.
2) Use the Tight End. If you are relatively new to this NY Giants blog, know this- we love the Tight End because he is the Red Zone buster. One of the reasons why Gilbride has ‘fits and starts’ in the red zone is because he is incredibly inconsistent with his use of the TE when he gets in close. (Wasn’t that polite?!) Why is it so important in this game? Because NE has a very poor defense (#31 out of 32 by yards) but they are only 15th in POINTS ALLOWED. They bend but they don’t break. Simms specifically mentioned this this AM in his final XLVI commentary on WFAN (and felt it would be a lower scoring game because of both teams stopping the opponent in the red zone). Break the PATS in the red zone with the Tight End. If Ballard has not healed from his knee injury, that means once again using Beckum and/or Pascoe. Who scored the winning TD vs the Pats on the final drive into the red zone in Week 9? The tight end. USE HIM.
3) Maybe the Giants “overconfidence” is just supreme confidence. Simms on Showtime was a little scared about just how much confidence the Giants players are exuding. (He still picks them.) But we’ll take a different tack- maybe it is based on a very special and unique feeling that they are witnessing amongst their team, that everything is falling into place. Maybe it is a poker tell they found. Remember that in XLII, Strahan was relaxed and confident while Coughlin was a nervous wreck, because Stray knew the defense had a tell for pass or run on the Pats. That’ll give you confidence.
3a) Eli:Lucas as Simms:Rose Bowl?? If the Patriots do not figure out how to get to Manning, this game could be a turkey shoot. No, I am not underestimating the former (see #4 below). In fact I do believe BB is going to work his damnedest to make Manning uncomfortable. (The best way to do that is with SPORADIC pressure, not the consistent pressure offered by Rob Ryan where Eli could adjust and burn you.) After Eli faced less than hospitable playing conditions the past two weeks, the benign conditions of the dome could be akin to Simms arriving in Pasadena after the 17-0 wind day. Super Bowl crowd noise is not a factor in audibling because many of the people in the stadium aren’t rooting for either team. The diehards are the lottery winners from season ticket holders, and they get stuffed up into 1/4th of the upper deck for each team. So maybe I am foolishly confident too. But if the Giants protect Eli well and do not get flustered by the sporadic schemes of Belichick, Eli rates to have a very productive day in the confines of a track meet dome that has near perfect playing conditions.
4) The Belichick Evil Genius Factor. Let’s face it- every Giants fan is cautiously optimistic because we believe the Giants are the better team but we just don’t know what kind of adjustments that Hoodie is going to throw at the Gmen. You can count on Belichick to throw in new plays that the Giants have never seen on film. Two weeks is enough time for the evil genius to stir up a respectable brew. The Giants simply have to be disciplined and answer those punches. Simms: “The Giants need to tackle well today.” It isn’t that much more complicated than that.
5) Bradshaw in Space. Simms mentioned it this morning, we mentioned it Friday– the lesser known important player that the Giants have to use as a difference-maker is Ahmad Bradshaw. PUT HIM IN SPACE. We call it small ball. Boy can it be big. Simms separately noted how the Patriots will give you the underneath to protect their weaker secondary. Exploit that w Bradshaw, because if he makes one LBer miss he can carve up yards. He’ll move the sticks, he’ll settle down your team, he’ll give the defense some rest, he’ll get Eli in a rhythm… small ball creates BIG things. I’d love to see 6 screens today, but I know better than to count on Gilbride for that. Can I ask for 6 flares? If we see 6 flares to Bradshaw, that should do the trick. I’m not even talking about the checkdowns, those are extra. I’m talking 6 plays where the Giants design the WR routes to allow Bradshaw some space underneath to get the ball as the first option. One more thing Ahmad- we’ve given you the love; please give Giants fans the love in return by protecting the ball when you carry it.
6) Win or lose, it has been a great season. Losing in 2008 was a bitter pill because the Giants were the team to beat that year and they beat themselves when they lost to the Eagles. 2011 has been a tremendous turnaround. At 7-7, we despaired. At 9-7, we believed. If we make it to 13-7, we’ll be overjoyed.