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Coughlin and Belichick: Different cuts from same cloth

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Coughlin and Belichick: Different cuts from same cloth

INDIANAPOLIS Bill Belichick might have written the book on dour, but Tom Coughlin had the market cornered on being square.

If one coach in the NFL looks like a dark socks and sandals at the beach type, its Coughlin.

Hes always been all business. Glasses. The thinning white hair swept to the side. Fast walker. That air of slight impatience as he rocks side-to-side in press conferences that are long on business, short on laughs.

The guy who long believed five minutes early is on time and four minutes early is actually late doesnt have a cool, away-from-football alter ego like Belichick does tooling around Nantucket on his boat with Jon Bon Jovi in tow.

So its interesting to see the controlling Coughlin not just tolerating his players verbal brashness but in some cases jumping in himself.

While the Patriots are still name, rank and serial number for the most part under Belichick, the Giants make more guarantees than Bobs Furniture.

And Coughlin has at times gotten a tad brash himself. Relatively speaking. After the Giants win over the 15-1 Packers at Lambeau Field last month, Coughlin said in the postgame, I think were a dangerous team. I like where we are.

This week, while Mario Manningham and Victor Cruz have taken turns disparaging Patriots wideoutDB Julian Edelman and Antrel Rolle has been doling out guarantees, Coughlin hasnt told anyone to dummy up.

Has Coughlin changed?

Probably, but I think its important as the process of learning, Coughlin said. You learn, develop, and change every year. You have to bring a fresh approach each year to your team, especially when youve been doing it a few years in the same place. If Ive changed, its been an attempt to motivate and put us in the best possible chance that we can be.

And Coughlin seems to believe that letting his team be itself and forge its own personality is the best way for it to motivate itself. Its a supremely confident team, especially for a group that went 9-7 and had a four-game losing streak that had them on the verge of missing the playoffs.

But that confidence also allows it to forget about the bumps and then go into Lambeau or San Francisco and win.

Coughlins approach is a galaxy removed from the other head football coach in New York, Rex Ryan, whos willingness to let whatever hits his brain exit his mouth was happily adopted by his players when he joined the team in 2009 and resulted in a 2011 implosion.

But Coughlin does let the players express themselves.

Players have personalities and they are who they are, Coughlin noted. You want a certain amount of that on your football team, but you dont want someone who puts themselves in a position to hurt your team.

Coughlin has positive proof that allowing his players to be brash helps them. In 2007, they talked themselves into the notion the Patriots 18-0 coming into that Super Bowl were a dynasty that needed to be buried.

They showed up in Arizona dressed in black a funeral for the dynasty was their reasoning. And they went out and backed up their brashness with one of the greatest upsets in NFL history.

Coughlins players say he really isnt as bad as his reputation.

My first season I questioned a lot of things that Coach Coughlin was doing, said Rolle. After taking a step back and reflecting on all of it, I understand exactly why he is the way he is. I used to always wonder, I felt like he was always trying to turn us into men. Does he not know that we are men before we ever step on the football field here as a Giant? I used to ask myself questions like that. Once I matured enough and I took a step back, he is not trying to turn us into men, he is trying to help us become better men.

The buy-in from his team is apparent in the way they revere him. After the Giants beat the Patriots in November, they carried him off the field on their shoulders.

When Coach Coughlin comes up, everybody wants to talk about how rough he is, how unforgiving he is, how the reigns are pulled back pretty tight on the football team, but playing for him is golden for me, said defensive end Justin Tuck. You know exactly what to expect from him, you know what he expects from you. Its easy to go out and do your job when you dont have to go out and worry about what we are doing here, what are we doing there. I love playing for the guy, and I hope I get to play the rest of my career for him.

While Belichick are both regarded as branches on the Bill Parcells coaching tree, its not that cut-and-dried.

Belichick is more a disciple of Paul Brown, the man Belichicks father Steve emulated.

Brown is credited with saying, When you win say nothing. When you lose say less.

Belichicks passed that on to his team and they adhere to it. The penalty for too much verbosity? An uncomfortable trip to the coachs office.

While Coughlin says hes become more patient and less rigid, Belichick doesnt alter his approach too much.

Hes very consistent as a coach, said Tom Brady. On our team, there really is no separate treatment for different players. The rookies are expected to perform and act the same as the veteran guys. Its great as a player on our team because . . . you really dont have to hold the other players accountable because the head coach does it. Hes very tough. He says to us from time to time he understands that its a demanding place to play and that its really not meant for everybody.

Belichick doesnt hide his agenda.

Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis acknowledged when he came to New England that hed heard Belichick was a hard coach to play for and the hooded monster and all the stuff like that. When I got here, I realized in our first meeting, he let it all out on the line right there. You are what you are when you get here. That was it. He let it all hang.

His players will never get to hang loose with their words say nothing when you win, say less when you lose. The Giants? The muzzles are off.

The methods to their madness have brought their teams here. Whose method works best? Can the answer be both?

Bruins have just as good a chance as the Celtics do this season (which is small)

Bruins have just as good a chance as the Celtics do this season (which is small)

Dan Shaughnessy ran a piece this week calling the Bruins the No. 4 team in town these days. He wasn’t wrong. They are. 

Of course, the claim isn’t really a discussion about the Patriots or Red Sox, as they’ll always be the two most popular teams in town. It’s about the Bruins being behind the Celtics, which again, they are. 

Yet while the general premise of the story was correct, there was an issue to be taken with the piece. Shaughnessy wrote that, “In terms of overall interest and championship hopes, [the Bruins] are a distant fourth.”

That’s where he’s wrong. Nobody would argue against the Celtics garnering more interest (even if the Bruins might have a stronger fanbase), but championship hopes? The teams are deadlocked. 

The Celtics are one of the top teams in a league in which only one team (the Warriors) has a chance. The Bruins are a middle-of-the-pack team in a league in which the literal last team in the playoffs (the No. 16 seed Predators) went to the Stanley Cup Final last season. 
 
This isn’t about which team is better, because that’s not close. The Celtics have three All-Stars in their starting five and the third overall picks from each of the last two drafts. They’ve also got one of the best coaches in the league. 

It’s also not about who will likely go farther. The Celtics will at the very least reach the Eastern Conference finals. The issue is that they’ll then either be eliminated by the Cavaliers or earn the opportunity to perhaps get swept by the Warriors in the Finals. 

That leaves the Celtics with a certainty of a very good season, but also close to an impossibility of a championship season. 

As for the Bruins, they probably won’t be much better than they were last season, if at all. This season was always the one to watch in the Sweeney era, as it will see the biggest implementation of the young players drafted. There should be at least four Sweeney draft picks on the team this year (Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson), plus youngsters from the Chiarelli era still pushing for jobs. 

The biggest change figures to be on the back end, where the Bruins should have the best top-four they’ve had since Sweeney dealt Dougie Hamilton. A lot of that rides on McAvoy, but there remains hope on the back end in future seasons with Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril trying to eventually break in. 

Will the Bruins rule their division the way the Celtics will? Most likely not. The guess here is that Tampa and Montreal will finish ahead of teams like Boston, Ottawa and Toronto. 

Yet there isn’t a Cleveland or a Golden State waiting to swallow up whoever does emerge throughout the playoffs, and that’s what leaves the Bruins and Celtics with equal chances at a title. The Penguins have won back-to-back titles, but the Bruins have gone 4-1-1 against them in the regular season the last two years. They’re hardly the unstoppable force that exists in Golden State. 

So in terms of buzz, offseason moves and anticipation for a new season? Sure, the Celtics have it all over the B’s. I’m certainly way more excited for basketball season. When it comes to championship hopes, however, the B’s and C’s are no different. 

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Rams hold off 49ers for wild 41-39 win

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Rams hold off 49ers for wild 41-39 win

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Coach Sean McVay walked into the postgame news conference and immediately asked, "Anyone have a beer?"

He probably wasn't the only person who wanted a drink after watching a surprisingly thrilling Thursday night shootout between his Rams and the San Francisco 49ers that wasn't decided until Los Angeles prevented a potential game-tying 2-point try and then delivered a rare defensive stop after blowing the onside kick in a 41-39 victory.

"We talk about mentally tough, be your best regardless of the circumstance," McVay said. "I thought the players did that. They found a way in spite of some of the ups and the downs to come away with the win."

While the defense came up big late, it was the offense that carried the day for the Rams (2-1), who have gone from the lowest-scoring team in the NFL a year ago to a dynamic one through three games under McVay.

Jared Goff threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns, Todd Gurley ran for 113 yards and scored three TDs and Robert Woods (108) and Sammy Watkins (106) each topped the 100-yard mark receiving in Los Angeles' second 40-point performance of the season. The Rams have 107 points in all so far, the second-most in franchise history after three games to the 119 by "The Greatest Show on Turf" squad in 2000.

"Since I've been here we haven't been able to do that," Gurley said. "Hopefully we can keep putting points together, keep working together and keep learning from this. I think we left a lot more points off the board."

This win didn't come easy as the Rams nearly blew a 15-point lead, giving up two late touchdowns, fumbling a kickoff return and failing to recover an onside kick. But Los Angeles managed to stop a potential game-tying 2-point conversion on a deflection by Troy Hill and then used an offensive pass interference penalty against Trent Taylor and a fourth-down sack by Aaron Donald to stop the Niners after the onside kick.

The 49ers (0-3) scored five touchdowns after failing to get any the first two weeks but still came up short in part because a missed extra point by Robbie Gould forced them to try for 2 on their late touchdown.

"I just rushed it, I missed it, I made a mistake," Gould said. "Obviously, I wish I didn't do that, or we'd probably be playing in overtime right now.""

This time it was a tired defense that hurt San Francisco. After facing 79 plays in a 12-9 loss at Seattle on Sunday, the 49ers appeared to run out of gas on the short week as Goff frequently had wide-open receivers, especially on third down.

The Rams were 8 for 12 on third down, including all three of Goff's touchdown passes.

The Rams needed all that offense on a night where Brian Hoyer threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score.

QUICK START: The Rams took just 12 seconds to get on the board as Nickell Robey-Coleman intercepted Hoyer on the first play from scrimmage and returned it to the 3-yard line. Gurley ran it in on the next play to give the Rams a 7-0 lead.

"I just told him to start over," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. "Got to go back to work. We didn't change anything, went right on with the script. But it was a tough way to start out."

DROUGHT BUSTER: The 49ers came into the game without a touchdown on the season but broke through in the first quarter with some help from the Rams. After Blake Countess jumped offside on a punt, the Niners took advantage of the second opportunity and drove to score on Hoyer's 9-yard run 126:43 into the season. That was the longest it took a team to score its first TD since 2006 when both Tampa Bay (143:03) and Oakland (127:10) took more time.

FOURTH DOWN CALLS: Both teams drove to the opposing 1 on their opening drives of the second half with help from a Willie Mays-style basket catch by Watkins and a perfect toe drag on the sideline by San Francisco's Pierre Garcon. But the Rams opted to kick a short field goal, while the 49ers went for it and converted on Carlos Hyde's 1-yard run that cut Los Angeles' lead to 27-20. Hyde added a second 1-yard run on fourth down in the fourth quarter.

INJURIES: Rams S Lamarcus Joyner left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury. ... Los Angeles C John Sullivan injured his groin in the second half and Watkins and Tavon Austin left with concussions. ... 49ers S Jaquiski Tartt (concussion), FB Kyle Juszczyk (neck), DL Tank Carradine (ankle) and LB Brock Coyle (concussion) all left with injuries in the second half.

UP NEXT: The Rams travel to Dallas on Oct. 1. The 49ers visit Arizona.