Giants Punter Should Get Out Of Dodge

Posted: December 20, 2010 in Football

Watching the  moments immediately after DeSean Jackson returned a game winning punt with 14 seconds left in the fourth quarter unfold on Sunday was an  instant chew out classic . The New York Giants just blew a 21 point lead not just over the course of the game, not just in one quarter, not just in the fourth quarter, but in the span of seven minutes. It was a pitiful performance by the entire team, and punter Matt Dodge bore the brunt of Giants head coach Tom Coughlin’s disgust and no doubt frustration in front of a national tv audience.

An unlikely turn of events led to Dodge’s now infamous punt that handed the Philadelphia Eagles a season sweep of the Giants. The only thing that made this loss worse for the Giants was that it came not only against the Eagles, but against the Eagles at a playoff implicating moment late in the season. These unlikely events took place in the final seven minutes of the game, after the Giants dominated much of the previous 52 plus minutes of the game.

Trailing 31-10 with just under eight minutes left, a 65-yard touchdown pass to a tight end made it 31-17, which was followed by an onside kick recovery and another touchdown to make it 31-24. Another touchdown with just over one minute left in the game tied it up at 31 and put Dodge in the spotlight, front and center.

In most of these situations, with the game tied with only a few seconds left, the call to send the punt out-of-bounds to prevent a good return is always called. But Dodge, who has been on not just thin but cracking ice since the pre-season, sent a line drive punt to one of the most dangerous return men in the league, Jackson. Jackson fumbled the catch, but quickly recovered and blew past the entire Giants coverage team for a 65-yard game winning punt return touchdown, topping it off by running parallel to the goal line to make sure there was no time left on the clock.

The cameras panned from the Eagles celebration to Coughlin tearing into Dodge, and you could clearly read his lips say “Why didn’t you kick it out-of-bounds?” Dodge just stood there, stone faced. But as a player there is no answer to give in that situation. No matter what sport you play, when you don’t listen to your coach and it results in a game changing play, there is no answer. Nothing said will satisfy both a fuming coach and a blood thirsty fan base.

As a punter, the only time you face the media post game in when you screw up royally, and Dodge faced the press in front of his locker and answered the blatantly obvious question that blatantly needing asking, “What happened?” He gave a generic I screwed up answer and we have to put it behind us.

After a loss like this everyone wants to point fingers and Dodge is at the fore front because face it, he’s the obvious person to point fingers at. But the finger-pointing goes roster wide. Why not point the blame at the Giants offense for not putting up any more points on the board to answer the Eagles and to try to steal the momentum? Why not point the fingers at the Giants defense for not being able to stop the Eagles, in particular Michael Vick, who even though faced tremendous pressure the entire game, was able to escape said pressure and there was no one there to contain him in the open field. Why not point the blame at punt coverage team, who did not lay a finger on Jackson on the game winning punt return. Everyone is calling for Dodge’s head, and they will likely get it after this.

It’s no secret that Dodge has been struggling, but a rookie should be able to grasp the concept of punting in the NFL. The concept in no different from college to the NFL. Dodge has been not just struggling, but failing in directionality, distance, hang time,  fielding snaps and now listening to his coach. And there in lies the reason I feel Dodge should no longer wear a Giants uniform, and maybe not even another professional uniform again.

The real reason Dodge should be cut, and in my opinion this applies to every athlete across all sports, is that it seems that Dodge did not listen to his coach. There is no way to not understand the play call in this situation coming from the sidelines, football IQ should even tell you what the play call is before you get it from the sideline in that situation. The number one rule in sports is to respect your coaches. You may not like your coach, you may disagree with your coach, but you must always listen to him. A player is in no position to ever overrule a coach, and if he tells you to do something you listen. Disobeying a coach is a huge sign of disrespect for not only your coach, but your teammates as well. And disrespect at any level in sports should not be tolerated, especially by professionals who are getting paid.

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