By RICK STROUD and BOB HARIG
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 24, 2001
Fassel's guarantee to boss came sooner
TAMPA -- A lot has been made of Giants coach Jim Fassel's guarantee that his team would make the playoffs.
But the foundation for his team's success, Fassel said, was devised in a blueprint requested of him before the season by Giants executive vice president John Mara and general manager Ernie Accorsi.
"Basically what they said was, "Jim, we need a blueprint of how we're going to go improve and go somewhere,' " said Fassel, who spent six days preparing a 15-page report.
"I laid everything out, from how we were going to work in the off-season to what kind of players we were going to have, the approach to camp; I mean everything. I think as much as anything, we needed to change the chemistry in that locker room.
"Not every guy that left was a guy I wanted to leave. But there was a number of them that needed to go. We hit right on with that. But more importantly, the guys we brought in were the right guys to bring in."
Giants linebacker Micheal Barrow liked the preemptive strike Ravens coach Brian Billick used Monday to head off a media blitz on Ray Lewis for his involvement in two nightclub killings in Atlanta during Super Bowl XXXIV.
"He's doing what a father would do for his child," Barrow said of Billick. "That's his son and he's protecting him. Who wouldn't do that for a child?
"This thing happened a year ago, and I don't want to seem insensitive about it because I saw last night the families of the victims, and inside I was crying. Their voice wasn't heard when it happened, so you ask yourself, "Why did it come out now?' From their point of view, they feel like they've been bamboozled.
"Let Ray live. Everybody is trying to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and bring it up again."
Beware of Trent
Trent Dilfer is a caretaker quarterback for the Ravens, just like his times in Tampa Bay. But Giants defensive end Michael Strahan believes it's dangerous to underestimate the Ravens offense and especially Dilfer.
"Trent can win the game," Strahan said. "I think people are deceived by the fact he doesn't have the gaudy pass numbers every game because he doesn't throw 40 balls. But if they have to win the game that way, they don't have any choice but to let Trent play. Trent's done it before, and as players, we cannot fall asleep and think that he can't do it. We know he can do it and we have to be alert. As one of my teammates said, "This game will probably be won by the team whose defense doesn't underestimate the other team's offense.' "
Giants fullback Greg Comella figures he'll run into the Ravens' Lewis on a few occasions Sunday. Asked how he would approach the matchup, Comella said: "Very quickly and very aggressively, because that is what he brings to the table.
"He's very aggressive, very quick and he has great leverage. In order to be successful against a guy like that, you have to beat him to the punch, so to speak. Or else it's going to be a long day."
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