In July 1990, the Giants opened preseason camp in what would be a journey leading to a Super Bowl XXV upset victory.
What Was the Team Looking Like That July? What Were the Camp Battles?
Back in 1990, the Giants held Training Camp at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ. There was no Quest Diagnostics Center. Wellington Mara was the face of ownership. George Young was the GM, and Bill Parcells was entering his last camp as Giants’ head coach.
The Giants were a veteran team that had plugged in some key young talent. They were coming off a 12-4 season but were a quick exit from the 1989 playoffs.
Running Back Battle of 1990
Giants fans, consider this roster of running backs that started Giants preseason camp in 1990: Joe Morris (Pro Bowl RB, hero of the Giants first Super Bowl season in 1986), Ottis (OJ) Anderson (Pro Bowl RB for St. Louis Cardinals, then 1989 “Comeback Player of the Year” for NY Giants), Rodney Hampton (Drafted in 1990 by Giants, future Pro Bowl RB), Dave Meggett (Drafted by Giants in 1989, Pro Bowl Special Teams), Lewis Tillman and Lee Rousson. The fullback leading the way, Maurice Carthon.
When you look at that RB group, it is no wonder the Giants were able to practice ball control and eat up the clock. But, as the camp unfolded, one of these battle-worn heroes, Joe Morris, would not make it to the season opener. Joe was 30 years old and coming off a broken foot in 1989 that kept him out the entire season. His replacement starter in 1989, Ottis Anderson, just happened to have his best year since 1984 with the Cardinals.
Then add the Giants’ first-round draft pick in 1990, Rodney Hampton. The overall 7th pick was pre-destined to make the roster. Meggett and Tillman, both 1989 draft picks, were considered favorites of Coach Bill Parcells for their roles. Meggett was coming off a Pro Bowl year in 1989 as a punt/kick returner. Meggett also was the 3rd down receiving back. Tillman was Anderson’s main relief in 1989. Rousson was a veteran backup and long-time Giant. In 1990, the Giants rushing attack would put up over 2,000 yards during the regular season and rank 6th in the NFL.
What a Coaching Staff
Essentially, this was the same staff as the 1986-1987 Super Bowl staff with only one or two exceptions. This group would turn the 1990 Giants into the #1 ranked defense supported by an adequate offense with a strong running game and efficient passing attack. The Giants only gave the ball up 14 times the entire season.
The 1990 Giants would start the season with 10 straight wins, finish 13-3 in the regular season and ride two incredible defensive efforts to an NFC Championship and a Super Bowl win over a dominant Buffalo Bills offense.
Take a look at this Who’s Who of coaches
- Bill Parcells, Head Coach
- Ron Erhardt, Offensive Coordinator
- Bill Belichick, Defensive Coordinator
- Tom Coughlin, Receivers Coach
- Ray Handley, Backfield Coach
- Romeo Crennel, Defensive Line Coach
- Al Groh, Linebackers Coach
- Charlie Weiss, Assistant Coach
- Mike Pope, Tight Ends Coach
When you look at that list, it’s hard to believe that Ray Handley was the coach selected to take over for Parcells. Parcells “retired” after the Super Bowl XXV win. Belichick was lured to Cleveland to be the head coach with Ernie Accorsi as his GM. Erhardt moved on to Pittsburgh as its Offensive Coordinator. Hiring Handley was an attempt to maintain some consistency on the staff, with most of the coaches (Crennel, Groh, Pope, Weiss) staying with the Giants. However, 8-8 and 6-10 seasons under Handley spelled doom for that staff. Dan Reeves stepped in to coach in 1993. But these names still are active in football today, 30 years later.
Well-Established Veteran Players
On offense, the 1990 Giants were returning veteran QB, Phil Simms to begin his 11th year.
In 1984, the Giants had drafted Jeff Hostetler who became Simms’ backup in 1985. Having a veteran backup would prove critically important when Simms breaks his foot versus the Bills in Game 14. Jeff then takes over, wins the last two games of the season as well as three playoff games, including the Super Bowl. Mark Bavaro was playing his best football heading into 1990. A young Howard Cross was the bookend TE in the Giants power rushing game.
The Giants’ receivers were also a young group with Stephen Baker and Mark Ingram leading the way. The offensive line was well-seasoned with interchangeable position players, including Jumbo Elliott, Eric Moore, Bart Oates, Doug Riesenberg, William Roberts and Bob Kratch.
The defense was returning LT for his tenth season.
The defensive line and linebackers were a good blend of veterans such as Leonard Marshall, Erik Howard, Eric Dorsey, Carl Banks, Pepper Johnson, LT and Steve DeOssie.
The secondary added veteran Everson Walls from the Cowboys to a young group that included Myron Guyton, Mark Collins and Steve Jackson.
Defense Wins Championships
In 1990, the Giants would ride that #1 defense and an efficient offense (which at the time, set an NFL record for fewest turnovers) to an improbable Super Bowl appearance.
Thirty years ago, Bill Belichick, was the NFL rising star, a young defensive coordinator who stymied the most powerful offense and helped execute Bill Parcells’ famous “shorten the game” strategy of Super Bowl XXV. Bill Belichick has gone on to be the most successful head coach in the Super Bowl era.
2020 Preseason is At Hand
Thirty years later, here we are in 2020 with a new coaching staff, new hope for the Giants’ future, one of the youngest teams in the NFL and the uncertainty of how a pandemic will impact the season. Thirty years later, Giants head coach, Joe Judge, with significant ties to Bill Belichick, will look to establish his own legacy, with these online sportsbooks having his back to this point in the offseason.
The Giants are scheduled to report to training camp on July 28th. With no on field OTAs this year, the NFL and NFLPA agreed that players will need more time to get in football shape. Therefore, the NFL has announced teams will play only two preseason games this season.
Weeks 1 and 4 of the preseason will be scrapped. Preseason games begin on August 20, 2020. All teams will play one home and one away preseason game.
Joe Judge football is almost here!
The NFL situation is fluid. Stay tuned for more updates as they are announced.
Featured Image: ---