I.

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, now comes the news that Strahan is out for the season. That’s just one more obstacle we will have to overcome on our way to the most improbable Super Bowl run ever….

But look at it this way: Now that we’re officially a bottomed-out, 7-8 disgrace, we have nothing to lose. Things can only get better from this point on.

If we beat the Redskins, the playoffs beckon. And as Michael Waxenberg writes in his excellent Big Blue Blog, “Once you’re in, you never know, and besides, the team will have to show some trace of a pulse to beat Washington.” Indeed, if we win that game, it’s certainly conceivable that we can go into Lincoln Financial Field and beat the Eagles, and after that… well, exactly as Waxenberg says, you never know.

If we lose, the coaching staff gets shown the door, we make some minor tweaks to our roster, and we go into next season with a new outlook and (I still believe) a lot of talent. Either way, Saturday will either be the merciful end to a tortuous stretch of football or a springboard to a potentially exciting playoff run. Neither alternative is that bad – it certainly beats the past few weeks, which felt like a disturbing dream.

II.

It was also announced that Petitgout is out for the year. No surprise there, although I had harbored the hope that we could have gotten him back had we advanced a couple rounds in the playoffs. (I don’t know which is the bigger pipe dream. Now that I think about it, that’s what made these injuries such bad news: They dealt another blow to the hopes of those of us who are still dreaming. And I’m still dreaming.)

Petitgout’s injury came right in the middle of the Bears game, when it seemed like we had more immediate things to concern ourselves with than a fallen soldier. But it turns out to have been devastating: Our offense has hit the skids since we lost him, and however half-way decent Whitfield’s play has been, his three personal fouls in the past four games have killed us on the field and become a symbol of our astonishingly undisciplined ways under Coughlin. The “Fire Coughlin” chant this past Sunday began after Whitfield’s first personal foul; after O’Hara’s, everyone joined the chorus.

The most infuriating thing is that he doesn’t seem to be remorseful at all. Check out this quote in Monday’s Star-Ledger:

“Their Pro-Bowl defensive end (Will Smith) took a cheap shot. I’ve been playing fifteen years and I’ve never had somebody take a groin shot at me. So I’m looking for ways to get him…

“That’s why it’s cheap. It’s cheap. We ain’t playing hopscotch. This ain’t jacks, Parcheesi, or gin rummy. We tape our hands up to go battle. We hit people. People break their hands in this game, break their necks in this game, so I ain’t going to go out there tiddly-winking or half-stepping. I’ll hit him again, I’ll hit him every time.”

And I’ll cut your ass, you old bum (although, I admit, I was almost won over by the speech). Or I would cut your ass if I were the coach. But apparently, Coughlin is a bigger push-over than I am, and Whitfield’s staying on. That’s the problem with Coughlin – there’s no action to back up the tough guy image. All that horseshit about being five minutes early to meetings means nothing if there are no real consequences beyond fines. Shit, if I were the coach, I’d give the guys a break and let them come to meetings when they actually start. And I would have cut Whitfield right after the game.

Anyway, back to Petitgout. Not to be a dick and say I told you so, but let me refer you to what I wrote after he went down in the Bears game:

“But you know what’s even worse than the loss? The fact that Luke Petitgout, in all probability, is out for the year. I hope that after watching this game we all realize this, but Petitgout (even though none of us really like him, and even though he’s never been a beloved G-Man, and even though my friend Dean coined the phrase “pull a Petitgout” (false start), the guy happens to be one of the truly indispensable members of our team…. He’s the left tackle, and even though he’s not one of the best left tackles in the league, he’s still one of the better ones.”

III.

The other big piece of news from the day was Kevin Gilbride’s taking over play-calling duties for John Hufnagel. Good. I mean, it can’t hurt, right? I wouldn’t expect any miracles out of this – I mean, it’s not like we’re gonna completely change our offensive philosophy or anything – but we certainly weren’t doing anything with Hufnagel at the helm. If anything, this move gives us some hope to hang on.

Who knows? I mean, the Payton to Fassel switch worked pretty well in 2000 – some times any change is good change. (By the way, how weird is it for us Giants fans that Sean Payton is being hailed as the greatest play-caller this side of Bill Walsh? This guy was the Hufnagel of the 2000 season, for Christ’s sake! And those reverses in short-yardage situations are stupid, by the way – just because they’ve worked both times doesn’t mean they make any sense.)

So it’s Gilbride and not Hufnagel. It’s hard to get too excited about a guy that was once clocked by Buddy Ryan, but maybe because he’s quarterbacks coach, he’ll have a better sense of what does and doesn’t work for Eli. That would help, because Eli’s really, really holding back the offense.

IV.

Lastly, the rare NYGMen photo, snapped on a cell phone by commentator and consultant Wong, who also attended last Sunday’s game.  Of all the tributes to Tiki, this one takes the cake.  Yes, that would be number 21 shaved out of back hair.  (The Santa hat is a nice touch.)  Tremendous job.  Whoever you are, NYGMen salutes you! 

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