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Bill Belichick: Coaching mastermind

As a New England Patriots fan growing up in arguably the most dominant era for a single franchise in the history of the National Football League, I have been taught to not fear any opposing team.

Patriots fans over the past 15 years have became accustomed to running over the likes of the Steelers, Jets, Dolphins, and Bills. Opposing teams, particularly this year, going against the Patriots tend to lose their minds when playing the sacred hoodie of Bill Belichick. Examples this year include Mike Tomlin blaming first half issues in week one on headset issues, Rex Ryan’s team committing a multitude of personal foul penalties because they were simply too fired up, and of course the attempted fake punt of Chuck Pagano’s Colts in week six. Bill Belichick is in the head of his opponents at all times, and almost always has the upper hand week in and week out.

The key word there is almost.

There is one team that has always had the Patriots number, and causes Patriots Nation to quiver in their boots, and that would be the New York football Giants.

It is fair to say that Bill Belichick may fall under the same trap that so many opposing coaches fall under when the face off against him, when he goes against the Giants. It is not because Tom Coughlin is a better coach at all. Belichick’s track record speaks for itself, and Coughlin’s job has been on the line on multiple occasions in his time with New York. However, the Patriots have lost their last three match ups with the Giants. Two of those victories obviously coming on the games biggest stage.

Adam Schefter of ESPN tweeted out the following Tuesday morning, “A little primer for Sunday’s Patriots-Giants game: Since the start of the 2008 calendar year, Giants are ONLY NFL team the Patriots have NOT beaten.”

 

So the question that haunts Patriots fans time and time again when their team takes on the Giants is, why are the Giants in the head of Bill Belichick?

It could very well because of his affinity for the organization. Bill Belichick made a name for himself in the National Football League with the Giants. From 1979-1990, Belichick served as special teams coordinator, linebackers coach, and defensive coordinator of two Super Bowl winning teams in New York. He served as a protégé under Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells, and earned his way into a head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns. Belichick has been outspoken about his respect for the organization, and probably dreamed of being the head coach of Big Blue at some point in his career, before he turned the Patriots into what they are today. Instead, the coach getting all the glory in New York was Tom Coughlin, who coached along side Belichick in the late 1980’s with the Giants, before revitalizing the Boston College football program and the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars.

For a long time in Boston, sports fans feared the Yankees in baseball, the Canadians in hockey, and if one thing is for certain Patriots fans are a bit traumatized by the New York Giants.

It isn’t just simply because they have beaten the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl, but because all three times that they have squared off in the past eight years the games have been eerily similar. Both the Super Bowl and the mid-season match up in 2011 were decided by four points and Super Bowl 42 was a three-point game. Furthermore, each game played out the same exact way. The Giants had their way with the Patriots in the first 45 minutes, until Tom Brady turned it on in the fourth quarter and gave the Patriots the lead with little time remaining. However, the average at best Eli Manning would come out of nowhere and lead the Giants down the field on the backs of miraculous catches by David Tyree, Mario Manningham, and dropped interceptions by Asante Samuel and blatant missed holding calls against Jarvis Green.

The Giants do to the Patriots what they do to everyone else, have unknown guys beat them. Players such as David Tyree, Jake Ballard, Kevin Boss, and Chase Blackburn make monumental plays to beat the Patriots in those games. Those names haunt Patriots fans to this day, and fans of the Patriots are being forced to relive those moments this week as they prepare to face off against the Giants for the first time since Super Bowl 46.

The common reaction for a Patriots fan when going up against the Giants is to immediately start getting sweaty palms and get nervous. Nevertheless, this week appears to be different on paper. In past match ups the Giants were able to get after Tom Brady with their famed, “Nascar defense” in which they sent four defensive ends on each play to increase speed.

This time around though it may be very different even with the return of Jason-Pierre Paul, for multiple reasons. The Patriots finally have a fully healthy Rob Gronkowski, which they did not have in 2011, and the Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, and Osi Umineyora aren’t walking through that door, Giants fans. They now have the 32nd ranked defense in the league, going up against a red-hot Tom Brady led offense. On offense they have great weapons in Odell Beckham Jr. and Reuben Randel, but you have to expect the Patriots to match that. In the end, the Patriots have a chance to ease their fans pain this week by finally taking down the boys in blue from New York. It would also be yet another great statement for Tom Brady on his so called, “revenge tour” where he finally proves that he can take down the G men.

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