Giants, Tom Coughlin dealing with ‘reality’ of winless football team

Eli Manning refused to place any blame on his offensive line despite being sacked seven times. Credit: Getty Images
Eli Manning refused to place any blame on his offensive line despite being sacked seven times.
Credit: Getty Images

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin had a simple message when asked about the plight of his 0-3 team and whether they can remedy that situation.

“Your team is your team. I think you have to deal with reality,” Coughlin said. “We are one. What we really need to do is stick together. … No finger pointing.”

While quarterback Eli Manning may be secretly wishing for a shakeup along the offensive line, especially after he was sacked seven times by the Panthers, he’ll never openly admit that.

Manning did allow that something was missing in that 38-0 shutout to the previously winless Panthers.

“We’ve got to have greater energy, greater enthusiasm,” Manning said, adding he doesn’t blame fans and the media for getting on them. “When you lose 38-0, anything you say about us deserves to be said.”

One thing that was said immediately following the loss — and which also didn’t sit well with Coughlin — was the remark made by wideout Hakeem Nicks. The former Pro Bowler was shutout in the game, which was shocking considering the rag-tag unit the Panthers trotted out due to injuries.

His postgame comments (“I can’t throw the ball to myself.”) ruffled Coughlin then and also a day later, prompting the coach to say that Nicks’ comments were “not a smart thing to say.”

A day later, cooler heads prevailed.

“I like for all of my receivers to be happy and to get a lot of catches,” Manning said. “I think he knows I have great confidence and trust in him … and he’ll start having some big games for us.”

The offensive line didn’t have a big game, but Coughlin didn’t push the panic button. The six sacks allowed in the first half to Carolina were disturbing, but Coughlin is confident they’ll fix those holes.

“I did challenge [the players’] pride a little bit,” said Coughlin, adding that certain guys have had more issues than others, for whatever reasons. “The personnel just has to play better. … We won’t make changes just to send a message.”

When asked if his team has enough talent to turn around the season, Coughlin said “we’re going to certainly find out,” sounding almost as if the coach is curious to find out how the team responds to being 0-3 for the first time during his tenure.

Linebacker Spencer Paysinger took a masochistic approach to the early skid, agreeing that he’s intrigued to see how the team responds in practice this week and then for their Week 4 matchup in Kansas City.

“It sounds crazy, but it’s kind of exciting to see what we’re made of,” Paysinger said. “We have to go out there and pretty much have a rebirth.”

Defensive end Justin Tuck, however, said he’s not interested in seeing how far down the Giants can fall before they decide to turn around their season.

“I don’t like that word, ‘desperate,’ but there’s no other word to describe it,” said Tuck. “We are a desperate football team. … Things haven’t went our way. Yeah, we got our butts handed to us on the road, so it’s gonna be a lot of soul searching this week.”

Big Blue notes …

» The Giants are off to a horrible start, and to put it into perspective, they are last in the league in several key categories, including rushing yards per game, percentage of passes intercepted, net punt average, punt return average, sacks allowed per game and the ever-important points allowed per game.

» Misery must love company in the NFC East as for the first time in league history (dating back to 1932), both the Giants and Washington have started the season 0-3.

» Since the Giants got within one point of the Broncos, late in the third quarter of their Week 2 loss, they’ve been outscored 62-7.

» Legendary ex-linebacker and current Giants radio analyst Carl Banks thinks there’s something to that above stat, which was most evident in the Panthers’ loss. When asked in a radio interview about his thoughts on the Giants’ loss, Banks didn’t mince words:

“I think everyone is [complacent]. It’s a possibility. All things are on the table now,” said Banks. “When you look at how this team played yesterday, it’s safe to assume anything other than the fact that they were willing to compete and really give the effort. It was the most disturbing thing I’ve ever experienced. Like I said, they’ve had some bad teams, bad games, bad players, but I don’t think I’ve seen a Giants football team collectively take it like that and not show any emotion.”

Coughlin obviously disagreed with Banks’ assertion.

“I don’t like that,” he said, adding he doesn’t think quitting happened.

» Linebacker Mark Herzlich, who ironically dons Banks’ old No. 58 jersey, actually agreed with some of what Banks said.

“Carl’s right, we need to have more passion, we need to have that fire,” Herzlich said, adding the team needs to rally around one another as the media backlash is sure to come.

» Cornerback Corey Webster, who missed Sunday’s game, said his hip is “great,” as he zoomed past the media refusing to talk at length.

» Cornerback Prince Amukamara’s left thumb was very swollen, but he said it is not broken.

Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.


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