Tom Coughlin strikes rare positive tone after Giants preseason opener

Tom Coughlin did not sound enthusiastic about the performance of Spencer Paysinger and his new linebackers unit. Credit: Getty Images
Tom Coughlin did not sound enthusiastic about the performance of Spencer Paysinger and his new linebackers unit.
Credit: Getty Images

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin rarely seems satisfied, whether it’s a win in the preseason or regular season, but following Saturday night’s 18-13 win over the Steelers in the opening game of the exhibition portion of the season, the coach said there was plenty to like.

Coughlin sounded upbeat and optimistic during his Sunday conference call, knowing Big Blue did some things right in a preseason game that “had a lot of different scenarios” — including an undermanned defense that made things uncomfortable most of the night for the Steelers’ offense, highlighted by a great showing from rookie third-round pick, defensive end Demontre Moore.

The Texas A&M product blocked a punt and had four tackles — one for a loss — one quarterback hit and a couple of pressures. He also disrupted short passes to the running backs in the flat.

Coughlin gave about as much praise as he’d ever allow himself in saying, “Moore obviously was a problem for Pittsburgh. He keeps coming and he likes it.”

Big Blue’s faithful certainly liked what it saw with their starters, despite only playing two series. But during that time, quarterback Eli Manning connected with wideout Victor Cruz on a 57-yard touchdown — the first reception of his preseason — and the defense corralled Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during his brief stint, holding him to 4-of-8 passing for 36 yards and one sack.

Coughlin was particularly happy with the way the defense looked, despite missing defensive ends Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul — both of whom are suffering through varying degrees of back ailments.

“We didn’t give up a touchdown so somebody was doing a good job in there,” Coughlin said, adding he expects to at least have Tuck for tomorrow’s practice.

All wasn’t rosy for the head coach, however, as the offense failed to run the ball successfully — something that has been a problem for a couple of seasons now – as well as the patchwork offensive line’s inability to handle the Steelers’ intricate blitzing schemes.

The Giants offensive line was without right guard Chris Snee and backup James Brewer, which meant they were forced to start third-stringer Brandon Mosley, who didn’t necessarily have an awful game, but it was obvious from the start the Giants lacked cohesion.

“There’s a fine line between outstanding execution and almost,” said Coughlin when asked about the overall implementation of the game plan.

And when asked about the performance of the new-look linebacker corps, Coughlin didn’t sound too overwhelmed.

“I think there were flashes, [but] I don’t know if there’s any one particular individual that made enough plays or a whole lot of plays in order for me to [mention],” said Coughlin. “We were steady. … We’re analyzing the linebacker position the entire preseason, so we can get the right people in the right spots.”

Spencer Paysinger, who has risen from undrafted free agent just a couple of years ago to actually being a leading candidate to start on the weakside, led all Giants linebackers with five tackles, with nobody else having more than Dan Connor’s three.

Coughlin noted the Giants will continue to “experiment” and tinker with a rotation that has seven candidates for the three starting spots, as well as specialty packages like nickel (five defensive backs and two linebackers), during training camp.

The opener featured Mark Herzlich as the starting middle linebacker, with Keith Rivers and Paysinger on the outside. In the nickel defense, Herzlich and Rivers came off the field and Jacquian Williams came on. Aaron Curry and Connor played with the second team and Kyle Bosworth played mostly with the third.

Despite the mixing and matching, guys feeling each other out, a few notable blown assignments and turnovers, the Giants still gave Coughlin plenty to be excited about heading into the third week of camp.

Big Blue notes … 

» Wideout Kris Adams underwent surgery on Sunday following a gruesome left ankle fracture.

» Rookie first-round pick Justin Pugh (concussion) has been cleared to return to practice.

» Tuck (back) didn’t play on Saturday night, but has also been cleared to practice.

» Offensive lineman James Brewer and running back Ryan Torain, both concussions, are close to being cleared to return.

» Guard Chris DeGeare had X-rays on his ankle following, results were negative. He did suffer an MCL injury, too, but Coughlin is still awaiting word.

» The defensive rotation was pretty deep, as defensive tackle Marvin Austin got the most snaps (33), which added up to 50 percent of the time. Moore was right behind at 29 snaps, while linebacker Jacquian Williams led his unit with 28.

Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.