Pregame Tuck-In Needed?

This quote from Giants LB Michael Boley got me thinking today:

“We hope that we don’t need a speech to get us going in the future. I hope we’re on the right track and we don’t need a speech just to get us going.”
Here’s the thing — LOTS of teams DO use speaches to get things going.  Ever heard of a pump up speech?  A pregame huddle?  Teams use it all the time and it typically comes from the leaders first.  Here are some examples I’ve collected to showcase how powerful this can be to get the team fired up and on the same page BEFORE the game starts… that way Justin Tuck doesn’t have to do it at halftime behind closed doors:
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Check out the collection after the jump…

Some guys take it to the next level and have been immortalized in video games for doing it, case and point…

Ray Lewis

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Lewis consistently captains a top 5 defense, year in and year out. He does not seem to age. He is not human.  His pregame pump ups are insane… so much so that Madden 2010 has their Baltimore Raven loading/intro spot to his persona.  But here’s the thing — it’s not all about Ray Lewis, it’s about the team.  He says in the above video:

“I will look at you in the eye, and I want to know if you’re ready to play football.  Because I can tell if you’re ready or not.”
This may sound ridiculous to you, it may not — but stay with me.  The fact is Baltimore’s identity is their defense, and by extension their leader – Ray Lewis.  They were the #1 most productive defense in the NFL last year. In 2008, #2 by a HAIR to the Steelers.  In 2007, #1 again.   This is not some fluke thing…. Ray Lewis gets his team ready for battle every single week — the proof is in the pudding. It works.

Keith Brooking last year

Unquestionably the heart and soul of his team last year — Keith Brooking was Dallas’ un-waivering leader:
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I won’t spend too much time analyzing this one, after all it’s the Cowboys…. but take note of the passion.

Brian Dawkins

He did it with the Eagles and their ruthless defensive persona, he arguably GAVE them that persona:

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And now he’s doing it in Denver:

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Facts are facts — and Dawkins seriously upgraded the Broncos defense last year… the Broncos went from second to last in 2008 to 15th in 2009.  I know, Elvis Dumervil had a much better year. Andre Davis had a huge impact as well. Vonnie Holiday was a great signing. And Champ Bailey had another great year.  But let me ask you this… who brought out this great play in his defense?  Did the captain have anything to do with it?  Wasn’t leadership a big part of taking ownership on that defense and demanding the best execution possible from your players?

Hold that thought.

Drew Brees

Vocal leaders are not always found on defense — here is the Superbowl MVP Drew Brees doing his pregame pump up’s that became famous last year in the playoffs:

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but he didn’t just START doing them just last year…

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That’s leadership, plain and simple. We know from transcripts that coaches look for it to develop amongst the team, you can’t just assign it.  Yes it’s sparked, cultivated, nurtured — but not heads and tails created.

So returning to my larger point — who on the Giants fills this role?  Who fires up the team before every game?  Who takes ownership of the teams emotions and manifests it into a common goal?   It used to be Brandon Jacobs on offense, and it used to be Michael Strahan on defense.  Now we know that Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora have stepped in and owned that role — neither of whom is outspoken or outwardly passionate in front of the cameras.   Maybe we don’t need to see it, maybe we do.  I think after last week though it’s clear the Giants DO need a speech to get them motivated, and keep them motivated.

I don’t care who does it going forward, but the results are there like a before and after picture taken from the Jacksonville game.  Someone’s gotta lead this team and get them fired up – Justin Tuck can give this team a pre-game “Tuck In”… I don’t care what you call it.

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