Quite a few fanposts have been written about the JG way and having the RKG's. While we are obviously still elated and basking in the afterglow of our glorious win over the defending Super Bowl Champions (yes Tom, it does make saying that taste so much better), I think it's a good time to reflect on the noticeable difference of mindset that was on display in that game and how it will effect the team in future clashes.
Having the RKG's, and the confidence in your team to carry out their assignments made a huge difference and was quite observable to even a casual fan. While it was on display from the opening kickoff, several situations magnified the difference just one year can make in how you treat your team.
When the Giants had a big play there was no slouching, fingerpointing, awww man's. When the Cowboy's made a big play you saw some celebration but it seemed controlled and workmanlike. Hand the ball to the ref and go on to the next play. On a penalty it was line up and move on. It just presented the team with another opportunity to do better. They didn't dwell and they didn't seem like their moral had been sapped. They stayed focused on the job and didn't concern themselves with something they couldn't control.
As I mentioned above a few plays magnified the difference between how this team would have approached certain situations.
3rd and 1 and Romo goes deep to Bryant. While down and distance indicated run they stuck with the hot hand and eventually got the first TD of the season right before halftime. Attacking the opposing defenses biggest weakness with their strength.
Last year do you think that the team would have been so aggressive that close to half? Maybe try for the run and go into halftime simply down by 3 knowing we get the ball first in the second half? Play it safe and EASY and not take chances that might lead to a big turnover right before halftime. That seemed to be the simple thing to do. The easy thing to do. The thing that this team I think will try as hard as they can do to avoid this year.
4th and 1. Last year do you think we go for it or try to let Bailey kick a FG? Do we think it might be too long and let Jones pin them deep close to the goaline? As well as our defense had been playing I would have gone with the EASY decision of field position possibly, but I wanted them to go for it. I NEEDED them to go for it. I wanted them to be the aggressor. The one setting the terms of this meeting. With a confidence inspired by a few brews I screamed at the screen for them to go for it. Even tho they failed I was alright with it. We can second guess the playcall but we can't second guess the motives behind it.
1st and 30. Oh hell no. No way that we try to get stupid and risk turning the ball over. Smart thing to do is run it. The EASY thing to do would be to run a few draws. Try to get some of the lost yardage back. At least enough for a fairly decent FG attempt and still make it a two score game. Are you kidding me? Yes it was Justin Tryon covering Austin with help from the safety but 1st and 30 you go for the bag of goodies without even a second doubt? You're ahead. Time's on your side. Run it a few times and run out more clock. Not this year.
3rd and 11. The play that could possibly end the game. Last year we know what we would do. Hand it off, run the clock to the 2 minute warning, and let our defense protect our lead. Not this year. That would have been the EASY way. The way that means that you aren't attacking the other team. That you aren't keeping them on their heels trying to adjust to you. We run a slant pass from Romo to Tree. Oh My GOD what were they thinking? Romo could have tossed a interception and sent us into OT. We need to take the game out of his hands whenever possible and trust our newly revamped defense not that leaky sieve of an offensive line that had been horrible all night long.
Do you notice a similarity between playing not to lose and the easy way?
Eventually as it did last year playing not to lose becomes playing not to win. So worried about losing the game and hearing about it in the papers you play tight. You restrict the chances that might actually pan out. You confine the team and don't allow them to excel in pressure situations so eventually they don't know how to respond to them when the time comes. Yes Tony can drive the offense down the field and get within FG distance with short passes that play it safe to the sideline. Yes we can count on Darth Bailey to win us a close game becuz he has proven he can do so. He has also proven that he can be human and miss, or have the kick blocked.
Last year JG did not have the roster full of players with the right mentality yet. Last year he did not have a roster full of players that he could trust to do what he wanted done so he had to limit them to things that he thought they could.
This year, in just one game, we see the difference in how we attack other teams and don't dwell on past mistakes. I know that we will hit bumps and sustain a few bruises along the path this year. For the first time in a long time, I actually feel that we won't take the easy way out once we encounter them.