Can't Blame Collins for This One

They are so bad, so battered, so bloodied, so bewitched, bothered and bewildered that you couldn't help but think after watching Bills 24, Giants 7 yesterday that they have quit on Jim Fassel, and quit on themselves, even as they doth protest to the contrary.

Buried beneath the crash-and-burn wreckage of Air Mara rests Kerry Collins, which undoubtedly troubles fans more than the identity of the 16th head coach in Giants' history.

Fassel is the fall guy, and the only slings and arrows that are not aimed at the 15th head coach in Giants' history are reserved for the quarterback, because he is next in the line of fire.

There are undoubtedly Giant fans so disgusted, disenchanted and disheartened that they would like the new head coach to ride in with a new quarterback on a white horse together.

Some of it is Collins' fault and much of it isn't, and no one seems to care right now that much of it isn't.

The expectations for this season were high largely because the expectations for Collins (17-35, 233 yards, 1 TD) were so high.

He was going to become an elite quarterback, remember? He felt like a kid in a candy store with all the sweets around him, remember?

Nothing but snickers now.

Having said all that, it would be folly to fire Collins with one year left on a contract that will pay him $7 million.

The Giants - GM Ernie Accorsi, Fassel, all of them - did a disservice when they decided to shield their franchise with The Brothers Baby & Huey. It led to erratic game-planning from Fassel, scared to death he would get the guy killed if he took a shot or two downfield, and essentially the unraveling of Collins, who can't help but flinch and throw off his back foot.

He stumbled twice on his backpedal and lost a fumble and had no running game and was sacked six times yesterday by the blitz-happy Bills, and begged for more late in the game while the Bills were killing the last seven minutes. "I was standing with Turk [Schonert] and Jesse [Palmer] and Turk told Jesse to get warmed up," Collins said. "I went to [Fassel] and told him that I was gonna stay in."


"Because you know what?" Collins asked. "This is my team. This is my team. And when it's good I'm gonna be there, and when it's bad I'm gonna be there, regardless of how it goes. You can't only be at the front when things are going well."

Here's what the 16th head coach of the Giants better not forget - Collins shows up every Sunday and takes every snap every season. He'll only be 31 next month. He can make every throw. Is he Phil Simms? No. Do his teammates want him back? Yes.

Said Michael Strahan: "When you give Kerry time, he'll beat the hell out of anybody. But there are very few quarterbacks that can sit back there - if any - and just take a beating and get rid of the ball. We're very blessed to have Kerry at quarterback because I've been here through a lot of bad ones, and I know a good one when I see one, and he's a good one."

Collins offers no excuses. He points no fingers. "It's only natural for the clock back there to go off a little bit quicker, and I try and fight that as much as I can," Collins said.

As he began walking out of Giants Stadium, Collins was asked if he was concerned that the 16th head coach of the Giants might not consider him his cup of tea. "I'll worry about that when the time comes," Collins said.

He loves playing here. "Because I believe in the organization," he said. "Because I love putting on the helmet that says NY on it. It means something to me."

Know this, NY: You don't have to worry about your quarterback quitting.