The NFL isn't college football, or baseball for that matter. It's grown men playing a physical game for millions of dollars. There was a dust-up at the end of the Giants-Bucs game in Week 2 that made some national news. Greg Schiano asked his team to go after the football on an Eli Manning kneel down to end the game. And Tom Coughlin didn't like it all that much. So we put it to the Athlon editors and Ralph Vacchiano, who covers the New York Giants for the NY Daily News,: Who was right in Kneel Down-gate?
Debate: Should you adhere to the unwritten rules of the victory formation or is it okay for your team to play hard until the game is over?
If you’re not going to play by the unwritten rules that everyone plays by, then you better let someone know you’ve changed them. The Giants had every right to expect that the Bucs would honor that. As a result, they were essentially in a defenseless position and their linemen or quarterback could’ve gotten seriously injured. What they did simply doesn’t happen in the NFL. Schiano’s actions reeked of a punk kid who shows up in a new class and thinks he knows better than everybody else and wants to teach them how they did things in his neighborhood. What he did was throw a sucker punch thrown just after the bell.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
This might be a strange answer, and it’s not a cop-out, but neither coach is right and neither is wrong. Well, sort of. I don’t think Schiano should have his players diving at the knees of the opponent’s offensive line and quarterback, while Coughlin has to understand the Buccaneers have to do everything they can to win the game. There’s a middle ground here to find, as Schiano’s teams need to compete to the final snap but not to the extent where a serious injury could occur. I can’t fault Coughlin for being ticked, but I also have a hard time complaining at Schiano for making sure his team gives a full 60-minute effort every week.
Just because Greg Schiano was coaching in New Jersey against the Giants doesn't mean he should be excused for behaving as if he were still at Rutgers. Knocking down Eli Manning in the Victory Formation was a Little League move. It wasn't a "never say die" strategic play, it was an act of frustrated desperation by a sore loser -- who also happens to be a rookie squaring off against the defending champions. After taking a 27-13 lead in the third quarter, the young Bucs were outscored 28-7 by the G-Men down the stretch, before suffering an embarrassing 41-34 loss. Put the petty in perspective: Schiano has as many NFL games coached as Tom Coughlin has Super Bowl rings. It showed on Sunday.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
I have no issue whatsoever with what Greg Schiano did and here is why. First, it was a one-score game and if there is a 1000th percent of a chance you can get the ball back, you do what it takes to win the game. If the lead had been two or three scores, I would be against it. Second, I also have an issue with Tom Coughlin, in particular, bitching about a little extra shoving. This isn't baseball, it's a big boy sport and the Giants coach is an abrasive, harsh, disciplinarian who grinds out wins and apologizes for nothing. He isn't going to hold hands and sing kumbaya with his wife and kids much less another head coach. The complaints ring hollow from a coach like him. I was taught to play the game until the final whistle and if the Giants weren't prepared for that, shame on them. "Hey man, you knocked Eli Manning over!" Come on, Tom. That said, if this is the strategy Schiano is going to employ, he better prepare his team to experience the same type of action in return.
Let's see, a rookie coaching just his second career NFL game or a 17-year veteran with more than 140 wins and two Super Bowl rings on his resume. Which one are you going to side with in a battle of he said/he said? In the end, it doesn't really matter if Schiano was right or not in instructing his team to fight until the game is over, there's no way he's winning the battle of public opinion in this one. He can talk about that's the way he coached his players to play while he's at Rutgers, but that's the Big East and this is the NFL. It's football, sure, but you are kidding yourself if you don't think the rules are different when it comes to college and pro. It doesn't help Schano's case to say that "I don't know if that's not something that's not done in the National Football League," even if he is just two games into his professional coaching tenure. For now, I'm willing to chalk this up as a rookie mistake, especially considering Schiano could do little but watch as his team gave up a 14-point third quarter lead prior to the game-ending incident. The key will be how he handles losing, and how he instructs his team to do the same, moving forward.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
I side with Tom Coughlin on the debate of rushing hard and/or low into a victory formation, although it hardly seems like a controversy. Greg Schiano and his Buccaneers were simply frustrated from blowing a big lead and giving up 25 fourth-quarter points, so they lost composure and were too aggressive on the last play. Schiano came up with some juvenile “play the full 60 minutes” reasoning right after the game, but that will change after cooling off. You can keep fouling while down 15 points in the last minute of a basketball game, but that doesn’t equal playing hard or a no-quit attitude. It just means you’re stubborn or stupid. This is the NFL, so accept your loss like a man when the other team is in victory formation.
Rob Doster (@AthlonDoster)
The neutering of the NFL continues unabated, as supposed tough guy Tom Coughlin called out Greg Schiano and the Bucs for playing contact football. That’s right — the Giants had their delicate feelings bruised because the Bucs hoped to force a turnover down by one score, and poor Eli Manning ended up on his backside. These objections, by the way, come from the franchise that gave us Joe Pisarcik and the Miracle in the Meadowlands, Exhibit A for the fact that a game isn’t over until it’s over. I have an idea: Let’s take all the NFL’s unwritten rules and either write them down or throw them out, starting with the notion that a tackle football game is somehow less than 60 minutes long.
Related NFL Content: