January 29, 2012

TUNA MELD:

Coughlin vs. Belichick: A Giant clash (Ian O'Connor, 1/29/12, ESPNNewYork.com)

In his first major job as a head coach, Tom Coughlin worked hard at being the most anal-retentive man in an anal-retentive field. He would make the predawn drive to his Boston College office in deafening silence, never allowing himself to enjoy an old Sinatra song or listen to a weather report, not when the radio might distract him from the day's master plan.

He would arrive at 6:05 a.m. -- sharp -- and do what he had to do to restore the Eagles to national prominence. If that meant mapping out drills designed to make players puke their way into shape, Tom Coughlin shape, so be it. Every move was part of a purpose, and every purpose was part of a schedule the coach religiously followed until he went to bed at 11 p.m. -- sharp.

On one November day in 1992, Coughlin pointed to his desk and told a visitor to his Chestnut Hill office, "I can pull stuff out of drawers and tell you what I'm doing every minute of every day for a whole calendar year." He wasn't kidding. Tom Coughlin wouldn't kid about something like that.

He ended up at BC after the New York Giants took the Super Bowl from the Buffalo Bills on Scott Norwood's wide right. Coughlin was Bill Parcells' wide receivers coach, and one of his guys, Mark Ingram, made one of the game's biggest plays, breaking five tackles on third-and-13 for a first down.

But the biggest plays came from a Giants defense charged to stop a fast-breaking Buffalo offense that had just beaten the Raiders, then of Los Angeles, in the AFC Championship Game by a 51-3 count. Bill Belichick ran that defense, and in his first unit meeting that week in Tampa, Fla., he laid out a strategy that sounded like a practical joke.

"We want Thurman Thomas to run for over 100 yards," Belichick told his players. "I will quit this business if Thurman Thomas runs for over 100 yards and we lose."

Carl Banks remembered the initial reaction in the meeting room. "We almost lost it," he said Saturday by phone. "Bill was still young then, and you heard a few F-bombs from players in the room.

"But then Bill backed it up with phenomenal statistics. Most coaches only go back four games, and yet he went back nine games and said, 'Thurman Thomas gets his yards receiving in the flat, on swing passes. The Bills don't have a traditional running game. And if they've been doing it this way nine weeks straight, they're not changing it for this game.' ... Bill was dead serious, but at first we thought he was kidding."

Thomas rushed for 135 yards, and it turned out the Giants' defensive coordinator wasn't kidding. Bill Belichick wouldn't kid about something like that.

It was a great night for a great Parcells staff loaded with former and future NFL and college head coaches. Belichick. Coughlin. Ron Erhardt. Romeo Crennel. Al Groh. Ray Handley. Charlie Weis.



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Posted by at January 29, 2012 2:12 PM
  

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