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Giants Need to Put Last Year in the Past

Waiting to flip the switch is a recipe for disaster

By Josh Alper
|  Friday, Dec 21, 2012  |  Updated 10:47 AM EDT
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Giants Need to Put Last Year in the Past

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JPP plays voice of reason.

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Tom Coughlin isn't shy about gesturing wildly with his arms while on the sideline of Giants games, but there's one gesture you'd never imagine seeing him pull out of the arsenal. 

That would be a shrug of the shoulders, the universal sign of detachment that doesn't fit at all with anything else the man puts out into the world. Yet that's just what this week has been filled with for the Giants.

Coughlin shrugged his shoulders about the 34-0 loss and said that he felt fine because the Giants just need to win their last two games to make the playoffs. Eli Manning said that his mindset was that the playoffs start now, even though he and his teammates said the same thing after the loss to the Redskins which is sort of like resuming your diet after taking a break to enjoy a couple of racks of ribs.

Most damning of all, though, are the shrugs of the shoulder performed by Justin Tuck and other members of the team who shake their head, chuckle and say that the Giants just don't play their best football until their backs are against the wall. It's as if they were toddlers caught with their hands in the cookie jar and trying to smile their way out of it because, after all, kids will be kids.

The thing they seem to be missing is that no one felt that way last year and that, outside of last year, that's not really been the way things have gone for the majority of Coughlin's career with the team. They followed up 2007's Super Bowl with an awful playoff performance in 2008 when their backs were against the wall and pretty much quitting down the stretch in 2009.

None of that has any bearing on this year's team, but neither does the fact that the Giants were able to pull themselves off the mat in the final weeks last season. This isn't "Three's Company" where every episode is exactly the same with the exception of the jumpsuit worn by Mr. Furley.

Every year is its own story with its own heroes and goats, something that the Giants have resisted admitting publicly this week. Jason Pierre-Paul's had about enough of it. 

"I don't want to hear that," Pierre-Paul said, via Tom Rock of Newsday. "To me that's all bullcrap. Know what I mean? Yeah we have done it before but this is a whole other year. Each year is a totally different year. You don't have the same guys on the team as last year, who knows who is going to be here next year. Right now we can do it for now and that is what we have to do."

There's no reason for doom and gloom and no reason to think the Giants won't do what it takes to wind up in the playoffs given their remaining schedule, but that won't be because they flipped some magical switch with two weeks to go in the season. It will be because the schedule favors them and because they did enough in the first half of the season to make these final two games meaningful. 

It's not because of what happened last year and the sooner the Giants put that notion in the past the better for the franchise. If they don't, they're going to find that you can only flip the switch so many times before there's a blackout waiting on the other side. 

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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