INDIANAPOLIS – Football is fickle.
So says New York Giants GM Jerry Reese, who talked Saturday about how his team overcame a slow start to the 2007 to win the Super Bowl earlier this month.
"The first couple games we started out, when you lose a couple games it looks worse than it really is," Reese observed. "We just kept thinking that if we can get off the snide, win one game and build some confidence. And that's what happened with us."
Reese insisted he never lost faith in his head coach, Tom Coughlin, even when the team seemed to underachieve a year earlier.
"I think we had confidence from the very beginning. The playoff game a couple of years ago [after 2006] with the Philadelphia Eagles," Reese recalled, "I felt we had about half the team because we had a lot of people on IR and we still had a chance to beat a good football team at that time. We lost the game late on a field goal and we just couldn't make a stop on defense late in the game.
"I felt like if we get our players back, we could have a pretty good football team. Obviously we got our players back and we added a few pieces to the puzzle and it worked out for us."
When his team faltered out of the starting gate in '07, Reese even took a page from the Patriots' first Super Bowl victory in the '01 season.
"It happens," Reese said of the slow start. "I think New England, in their first Super Bowl [victory in 2001], started out 0-2. One little thing can turn it for you and you build some confidence. It's all about confidence; a lot of football is about confidence. Most players have talent but you have to have some confidence going into the games."
So, when the Giants made it to Super Bowl XLII against the then-undefeated Patriots, Reese said his team knew it had a good chance to win.
"Sure. Going into the Super Bowl, we were ascending, I thought. In the latter part of the season, we got a little bit of rhythm … we played New England [in Week 17] and played decent in the game, so that gave us a little bit of rhythm. Plax [WR Plaxico Burress] started to practice again with the quarterback. That helped him out because your No. 1 receiver is starting to practice more. We got [WR] Steve Smith back, we got some people back late. We started to ascend late in the season, got a little bit of rhythm, got hot at the right time and the rest is history."
Crable not out of the Woods'
Shawn Crable (6-4, 245) Michigan, originally listed as an OLB, was wearing a DL sweatshirt during his media interview.
The former Wolverine was asked if he is friendly with Patriots LB Pierre Woods, who also played at Michigan.
"Yeah, we've talked a lot," Crable revealed. "His mom lives in Michigan, about three houses down from us. During my freshman year, I stayed with him and his mom cooked for me, and she calls me her son and everything. Me and Pierre are tight."
What advice has Woods given his old friend and teammate about preparing for the NFL?
"The biggest thing he told me was to watch a lot of film and catch a lot of things and listen to the older players and the veterans a lot because they're going to teach you things."
Crable acknowledge that he could be reunited with Woods after this April's NFL Draft.?
"I talked to them [the Patriots] at the Senior Bowl. Their biggest advice was – they kept saying 'if, if, if' – if we draft you, my responsibility will be to follow Pierre around. That's cool with me.''
Goff grew up in Patriot Nation
Having spent his childhood in Massachusetts, Vanderbilt LB Jonathan Goff followed the Patriots.
"I did some," he said Saturday. "They were right down the road from me. I grew up 30, maybe 45 minutes from the stadium … I spoke to them at the East-West Shrine Game."
Moffitt a married man
LB Ben Moffitt of South Florida is already a husband and a father. "I was 17 when I got married and I had a son shortly thereafter. You've gotta grow up real quick. I think it's helped a lot to prioritize my life … helped me to get through the hard times and put first things first."
Moffitt, who met with the Patriots at the Senior Bowl, said he'd be excited if New England selected him in April's Draft.
"I would love to. They're a great football team. I like the way they do things, the no-nonsense approach and just go out and work hard, and that's what I like to do."
Polished Michigan running back Mike Hart is taking a humorously realistic approach to his potential draft status in a deep running back class. But Hart knows in the end success can come from an spot in the draft.
"Obviously, you want to go higher because you want more money. Know what I mean?" Hart said with a smile. "That's the only thing about going high. But it doesn't matter what round you get drafted as a running back. You've got a chance to make a team and a chance to make big plays.
"If you look at Ahmad Bradshaw from the Giants or[Mike] Bell from the Broncos; I think when he came in he wasn't even drafted. So obviously
there are backs who make an impact who don't even get drafted. As far as money, yeah, you want to get drafted high. But as far as making the team, it doesn't matter."
Like father, like son
Michigan wide receiver Mario Manningham (5-11, 181) played high school football for Warren G. Harding High where his coach was Thom McDaniels, the father of current Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Manningham never met the younger McDaniels, but knows of him.
"I've heard a lot of good things about him," Manningham said before talking about the elder McDaniels. "Coach McD is down to earth. He pushed me to the edge."
Would it be weird to play for his high school coach's son in the NFL?
"If he's anything like his dad, it shouldn't be a piece of cake," Manningham said.
Saturday Combine Notebook
Maryland tackle Andrew Crummey (6-5, 308) wore a walking boot on his left foot during his meeting with the media Saturday morning. Crummey is rehabbing from twice breaking the foot and surgery to repair the injury. … Illinois linebacker Jeremy Leman (6-1, 245) was also wearing a walking boot at the Combine after suffering an ankle injury in the Rose Bowl and undergoing surgery about a month ago. Leman is not going to be back to full-speed until late April, but hopes that fact won't hurt his draft status. "I've been telling teams 'Don't hold it against me because I can't run for you. I'll give you everything. Just give me one chance." … After bouncing between New England's practice squad and active roster over the last couple years, WR Bam Childress signed a two-year contract with the Eagles this week. … Defensive end Chris Long (6-3, 272) already has some understanding of a couple AFC East teams thanks to his time playing for Al Groh at Virginia. "I've heard a lot about Coach Parcells and Coach Belichick as well. I think Coach Groh is a guy with a tremendous amount of respect for that coaching tree. A lot of his coaching styles and the schemes derive directly from Parcells and that tree. It will be a tough transition whatever I do and wherever I go. I think he does have a lot of similarities." … Leman, who earned both an undergraduate degree in speech communication and a Master's in human resources education in his time at Illinois, had an interesting take on the divide between academics and football. "Academics are just something I did because I knew I had to and I knew it was important," said the four-time academic All Big-Ten linebacker. "Did I love studying all the time? No, but I love playing football. It's what I do for my living."