Mini-camp doesn’t supply football junkies with too much information. An injury report, a few noteworthy catches, and of course, optimism from the players and coaches.
For the 2009 New York Giants, optimism is at a scary point. When expectations are high, Giants fans are the first to try to alleviate the hype. However, no one will dare impede on the belief that these Giants can be special this season. All-time Giants good.
The tone was set a few short weeks ago when the only twist in OTAs was Mathias Kiwanuka changing his number to 94. Contrast that with Jeremy Shockey yelling at Jerry Reese and Plaxico Burress always doing something to bring attention to himself, and it becomes clear there has been no tension for Big Blue this summer.
Recently, Tom Coughlin broke camp with a speech in which he “spoke from the heart,” according to Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride. Very little of what he actually said was leaked to the media, but it doesn’t take Einstein to figure out what the message truly was.
You guys are good. Really good. The Lombardi Trophy is in your future unless laziness overcomes the will to prepare. Come to training camp ready.
When the power of that speech was first alluded to in the initial recaps of the last day of mini-camp, I couldn’t help but think of Davey Johnson’s speech to the Mets in March of 1986.
1985 had been a mix of shock and disappointment for the rising Mets, and in 1986 they were to bring back their core guys with an extra year of experience, which alone would catapult them to the Canyon of Heroes come October.
Johnson wanted to set the tone of cockiness and arrogance with this speech. The players knew they were good, Johnson knew they were great. He wanted to drill into their minds that they had the most talent in the league, and the only thing that could stop them was their confidence level.
Sure enough, the Mets maintained their confidence level at the heights of music videos, fights, and comebacks of the likes never seen before en route to their second World Championship in franchise history.
Coughlin, albeit of a much different nature, wants to convey the same message to his players. Although it takes a different kind of formula to hoist the Lombardi in February, the Giants appear to have all the elements. An outstanding offensive line. A rock at quarterback. Team speed and depth on the defensive side of the ball. And 53 guys that are willing to lay it all on the line for the well being of the team.
Two years after Coughlin’s job security was very much in question, the core players have bought into his system. And the incoming free agents and rookies will soon enough.
If this Giants team does what is expected, and powers through January and February without suffering a loss, the Giants will be placed into rare company with two Super Bowl victories in three years. And it will all come back to the speech given by the coach in the middle of June, in which he simply told his players they could be great.