BELICHICK HAS THIS TEAM READY FOR ANYTHINGBy Mike Rodak
Here you have two similar coaches. They once worked together and are both disciples of the tough-minded, no-nonsense style of former Giants head coach Bill Parcells.
But let's not kid ourselves here. Tom Coughlin was on the hot seat before his playoff run four years ago and you could argue he was back on the hot seat earlier this season. His teams are always good at best and never elite. In the pantheon of great coaches, would it be Vince Lombardi, Don Shula ... Tom Coughlin? No.
On the other hand, the demise of Bill Belichick in New England will come only when he announces his retirement. Someday, his likeness will fit right in with all the other bronze busts in Canton.
But does any of this matter on Sunday, in Super Bowl XLVI? Maybe not. Coughlin has already shown he can outcoach Belichick in a Super Bowl. As far as precedent goes, advantage Coughlin. But does that really matter either?
Again, probably not. What matters here is what was planted by Belichick months ago and proved as the season wore on. His team is tough. Resilient. Scrappy. This football game -- any football game -- is not just a product of what was drawn up on whiteboards the week prior. It's the sum of all the work, all the qualities instilled in a team by its head coach over an entire season.
On Sunday, Belichick may be scrambling after Coughlin and his lieutenants devise a well-executed scheme to stymie Tom Brady and the Patriots' offense. That's happened before this season. But what has also happened? The Patriots have fought back, stayed in it, and eventually come out on top. That's all a reflection of their head coach.
Expect more of the same Sunday. Advantage: Belichick.
Mike Rodak is in Indianapolis covering Super Bowl XLVI for ESPNBoston.com.
TC HAS BEEN THERE, DONE THATBy Rich Cimini
Tom Coughlin over Bill Belichick? It's madness, right? Hear me out.
Yes, it's hard to go against Belichick, one of the most successful coaches of our time in any team sport. But in this game, this moment -- Super Bowl XLVI -- Coughlin is the guy you'd rather have on your sideline.
First of all, Coughlin has been there, done that -- and he did it against Belichick, outcoaching him in Super Bowl XLII. If he did it once, he can do it again.
Coughlin has a tremendous feel for the Patriots, how to attack them, how to beat them. Aside from Super Bowl XLII, he did it in Week 9 of the 2011 regular season, winning in Foxborough 24-20. The confused look on Tom Brady's face told the story of the game.
It takes a delicate balance of patience and aggressiveness to beat the Patriots, and Coughlin has it. He knows you don't want to get into a fast-paced, back-and-forth game with Brady -- and it will be tempting with a hot Eli Manning -- so Coughlin will try to run the ball, maintaining enough balance to keep the Patriots honest.
Defensively, Coughlin will do whatever it takes to disrupt Brady. If it takes a pressure-oriented scheme, the Giants will dial up some blitzes. If it takes combination coverages -- a blend of man and zone -- they'll go with that. They will be aggressive. Coughlin is conservative by nature -- old school -- but he doesn't coach that way.
Coughlin never has been known as an X's and O's genius, not like Belichick, but he has a knack for getting inside Belichick's large brain and finding ways to stay even or one step ahead. Just because Coughlin doesn't act like the smartest guy in the room doesn't mean he's not.
Rich Cimini is in Indianapolis covering Super Bowl XLVI for ESPNNewYork.com