It's amazing that there isn't more of a buzz about the coaching of the Giants' Tom Coughlin. Yes, there's a buzz about the Giants' offensive line play and their running game, but not enough in my opinion.
Because Coughlin saw an ability to innovate in the NFL and he did. And this is the first significant innovation since Bill Walsh determined that with bigger and faster defenses, "three yards and a cloud of dust" and two-back backfields with both backs sharing a rather big rushing load would no longer work. Okay, so Walsh's innovation might be more significant in terms of having created a new football theory, but Coughlin's return to smash-mouth rushing is pretty clever, too.
Because almost every NFL defense -- even the 3-4 -- has been built to stop West Coast-style offenses and, most certainly, one-back offenses. Which means that there's been a tendency for a while to stop the "death by a thousand cuts" passing offenses over stopping up-the-gut rushing attacks. That tendency gave Coughlin -- a firm believer in the notion that winning the battles in the trenches on both sides of the ball leads to victories -- a chance to take an old-time notion and jam it down the throats of those who like to throw tons of packages at you but don't necessarily have the strength to stop run after run after run.
Is what Coughlin's doing that innovative?
No and yes.
No, because, well, rushing the ball right at the defense has been a part of the game since the beginning of the game. Yes, because it takes courage to go against the grain and emphasize the run when teams obsess over having the perfect quarterback who can work miracles. Make no mistake -- Eli Manning is an excellent quarterback -- but the Giants' ball-control offense tires out defenses and puts tons of points on the board.
Tom Coughlin, whom I criticized in these pages a couple of years ago for failing to control the egos and dissenters in his locker room, has done just that and created an offensive style of football that differs somewhat significantly from those of the rest of the pack and could well lead the Giants to their second straight Super Bowl victory.
Old-time football. It's not exactly "putting on the foil" (for those who might like a Slapshot reference), but it works like a charm.