BY Art Thiel 06:30AM 12/12/2013

Thiel: Up/down Giants tell a tale for Seahawks

The Giants area great example of the rise and fall of NFL teams. Over the past seven years, they have won the Super Bowl twice and missed the playoffs four times.

A good coach and a good quarterback, and the relationship between them, is the biggest asset in sustaining NFL success. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

As orderly and militaristic as the NFL prefers to be, seasonal outcomes tend to be as random as puppies in a pillowcase. No better example exists than the New York Schizo-Giants, who host the Seahawks Sunday in ice-encrusted New Jersey.

Forecast by some in the preseason as a wild-card playoff team, the Giants started the season 0-6, won four in a row, then Sunday were down 24-0 at the half in San Diego and fell 37-14, falling to 5-8 and out of the playoff race.

But the bigger picture is more startling: Counting 2013, the Giants over the past seven years have won the Super Bowl twice and missed the playoffs four times.

Giants fans are faced regularly with a choice: Embrace or strangle, often in the same season.

The narrative arc is a worthy study for Seahawks fans who are enjoying the best season in club history. The delirium can obscure the view that cliff’s edge is near every footfall. Just one tackle of Frank Gore Sunday in San Francisco, and the Seahawks were in plain view of an upset of the 49ers.

“The thing of it is, our league is such that it’s set up that way — whoever is first is last,” Tom Coughlin, Giants coach in his 10th season, said Wednesday by teleconference. “In our business, you do have to understand that, and also the fact that anyone is capable of beating the other team on any given weekend.

“The team that gets on the roll, right at the end of the year, has the capability of winning out and winning the Super Bowl. With free agency and cap room and solid drafting, a team can move forward in a relatively short amount of time. Teams that can get hot at the right time end up being the champion.”

No better example is available than Coughlin’s 2007 Giants, who lost two of their last three regular season games to drop to 10-6 and eke into the playoffs as a wild card. From there, the Giants beat Tampa, Dallas and Green Bay, all on the road, then triumphed 14-6 over New England in the Super Bowl. The run remains one of the great feats in NFL playoff history.

Seasonal success, and sustained success year after year, is more precarious in pro football than in any sport. So few games, so many injuries, so little difference between good and bad.

“It doesn’t take much,” said Eli Manning, who came to the Giants with Coughin in 2004 and have made resilient tandem. “A few injuries here and there, or just not catching some breaks, and things can definitely turn on you quickly in this league.

“You have to be playing at a high level and find ways to win those close games. That can be the difference. Making plays at crucial times in games that can lead to victories, or if you don’t make them and make mistakes, they can lead to losses. Some years, you find a way to make all the right plays at the right time. Then some years it kind of works against you.”

The New England Patriots have come closest to sustaining excellence in the NFL. Coach Bill Belichick is 169-57 and 17-7 in playoffs during his 13 years in Boston, also coinciding with Tom Brady’s tenure at quarterback. His three Super Bowl wins are one more than Coughlin and three more than Carroll, whose team is still the betting favorite to return to MetLife Stadium in seven weeks.

Just as it has been with the Giants and Patriots, maintaining the relationship between Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson will be the axis upon which the Seahawks world turns.

“It’s very difficult to play at that high level, and then come back and do it again,” Carroll said. “To continue the sense that it takes, the urgency, and all the factors that make you a championship team — it’s hard to do that again. There’s issues of the hype and the buildup, getting patted on the back . . . There’s also (a player personnel and coaching staff) attrition that always happen too.

“There is a fine line. I think it’s rare that teams come back. That’s why New England has had such a fantastic run. They continue to stay on top all of the time. It makes them pretty special.”

Speaking of attrition, just this week the Giants put on injured reserve RB Brandon Jacobs, 31, a big part of the Giants’ two Super Bowl teams who in 2012 left for San Francisco and a disastrous season. He returned to New York this season, but a knee injury limited Jacobs to 238 yards rushing.

It goes quickly in the NFL.  A couple missteps, and the canyon bottom comes up rapidly. That blue speck down there is the Giants.


  • Greg

    Art, thanks for the entertaining reality pill!

    • art thiel

      Lots of folks are new to this whole success experience, so a handrail along the path is useful.

  • RunningRoy

    You’re right, Art. Ultimate success is indeed a very fine line in the NFL. While most of the local universe will tell you the Hawks were SO agonizingly close to beating Atlanta in last year’s playoffs, they still lost to the team that lost to the team that lost to the team that actually won the Super Bowl.
    And considering that joining Seattle in the playoffs will be guys named Brady (3 rings), Manning (1), Brees (1) and very possibly Flacco (1), along with Kaepernick (1 appearance), the Hawks may get to the SB and even win it, but it will be no slam dunk.

    • art thiel

      I was talking with my pals on 1090AM Thursday about fans indulging in the look-ahead to
      potential AFC opponents for the Seahawks in the Super Bowl (teams have
      to play games one at a time, but part of the fun of being a fan is
      playing four or five in a row). I said with three games left, we may not
      even be thinking about the right teams.

      Then San Diego beats Denver. Seahawks-Chargers? An all West Coast Snow Bowl?

  • PokeyPuffy

    Art you are correct the edge of the cliff is always nearby. This game won’t be easy but the hawks should be pumped up playing in the SB venue.

    Different topic but what gives with Harvin this week ? The media have been suspiciously quite….not the usual Percywatch daily coverage.

    • Pixdawg13

      That’d be ’cause Percy is now ‘week to week’ rather than ‘day to day’. Turns out that he’d had the hip injury for a long time, and his body ‘learned’ to use other muscles. Now he’s been repaired, he’s got to use the muscles that weren’t available due to the injury.

      Me, I don’t really expect to see him on the field until the playoffs. I’m good with it either way–Hawks are the best team in the NFC (and maybe the league) even without him.

      • art thiel

        Pix, that seems to be the prevailing theory, which means that the Seahawks bought damaged goods. He may overcome, but that probably awaits next season.

    • art thiel

      Harvin has moved from day-to-day to week-to-week. He’s not playing Sunday. Carroll mentioned it Wednesday, and we noted it in our story. But his recovery is not a linear rise. He’s having setbacks. The Seahawks don’t want to project his return because I genuinely believe they don’t know.

      As far as NYC, 4-6 inches of snow forecasted for the metropolitan area. Good practice for Wilson in being a snow leopard.