The Giants defense was scorched last week in New Orleans. But if they think they can relax because they’re going from facing a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Drew Brees to a rookie in Jameis Winston, head coach Tom Coughlin said he’s already squashed that thinking and has warned his squad about overconfidence.
“He’s taking care of the ball right now,” Coughlin said about Winston. “And he’s been very good on play-action, the deep ball to his big wide receivers [Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson], and on any naked plays like the bootlegs. He's grasping the offense.”
Winston’s passer rating on throws of 20 or more yards is 123, which is second-best in the NFL, backing up Coughlin’s claims that the neophyte has been playing like a seasoned veteran lately.
Coughlin said he doesn’t think his beleaguered defense will have any hangover from the Saints game, noting they’ve come to work this week ready shore up any deficiencies that plagued them last week.
“You go back to fundamentals [and] you go back to some basics that obviously we struggled with a little bit. A couple times we didn’t line up properly or quickly enough, [and] our communication sometimes was not as good as it should’ve been,” Coughlin said when asked how his defense bounces back. “You get yourself lined up, get your eyes where they belong, play the technique you’re supposed to play, be ready to be a reactionary football player on the snap of the ball, and definitely know what your assignment is -- whether it be zone or whether it be man, and try to be at the right spot at the right time.”
The errors in the New Orleans game are teachable moments, noted Coughlin. He added that he is firmly in the corner of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, and thinks his coach will get “those things get ironed out.”
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Coughlin said when trying to eradicate such a performance from memory, the best way to make sure it doesn’t repeat itself is to go back to the roots of a scheme.
“You need to keep them [mistakes and missed tackles] at a minimum. Last week, the New Orleans Saints gained 57 percent of the yardage made in the passing game after the catch so that is a main concern,” Coughlin said. “We’ve talked an awful lot about being able to tackle well. Tackling is, obviously, a very big fundamental. It’s the first thing we do every week. We tackle and then the next day, we take the ball away so we’re always practicing that particular fundamental.”
Safety Brandon Meriweather said his defense’s psyche was “hurt” just a few days ago, but they’re over it now and ready to fully digest the Buccaneers’ scheme.
“You go back to the drawing board. You have to go back to the basics. I think what we did was we got away from the basics, the things that we do good, and you just have to go back to that and continue to build on that,” said Meriweather, adding his defense will be ready to tackle and execute. “Every team is going to have missed tackles. There isn’t one team in the league who you can look at and say, ‘Oh, that team doesn’t miss tackles.’ As long as people are running to the ball, and being relentless, and making up for their brother next to them, then we’ll be alright. … We are going to pull it together. I wholeheartedly believe that. So, no, I’m not worried about taking one step forward and one step back.”
Big Blue notes:
- The Giants have an NFL-low nine sacks, and had none in their loss last week. But Coughlin said the help needed on the defensive front will not determine whether defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul suits up on Sunday. “It has to do with him and whether he’s ready or not. If he’s ready, we’ll play him. If he’s not ready, then we’ll take more time. If he practices and continues to advance in the way that he has over the last few days that he’s been with us, [and] if we feel good where he is physically after he goes through it [an increased practice workload], then that would be a decision that we would be confident in making.”
- The Giants brought back safety Cooper Taylor and tight end Matt LaCosse, while releasing guard Adam Gettis.
- Tight end Larry Donnell, who left the Saints game with a neck injury, won’t practice today, as Coughlin reasoned that Donnell is “week-to-week, I’m sure. Day-to-day, week-to-week, I don’t know.”
- Without Donnell, rookie free agent Will Tye is the only tight end on the roster. Tight ends Jerome Cunningham and LaCosse are on the practice squad.
- Cornerback Prince Amukamara, who has missed three games with a partially-torn pectoral muscle, will return to practice on a limited basis. “Prince is going to work,” Coughlin said. “But he’s going to work individual and then have a couple of snaps as a scout team corner just to get his footwork going again.”
- Linebackers Jon Beason (knee/ankle) and J.T. Thomas (ankle), wide receiver Rueben Randle (hamstring), guard Geoff Schwartz (ankle), safety Craig Dahl (neck), and wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf) will not practice.
- Tackle Will Beatty (pectoral) will continue to increase his workload. He is on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) and the Giants must decide next week whether or not to activate him, or keep him out for the season. “He’s going to work this week, and then the decision is forthcoming,” Coughlin said.
- Coughlin declined to comment on the Giants' inaction at the NFL’s Tuesday trading deadline, but sounded like a man who desperately wanted general manager Jerry Reese to pull the trigger on a deal to help the defense. According to sources, Reese was active in trying to find additional edge-rushing help, but was unable to get a deal done by the 4 p.m. EST deadline.