Tom Coughlin is encouraged about his team's second half prospects. Credit: Getty Images
The Giants officially ended their midseason vacation on Monday, anxious to get back to work as they try to find a way back into the NFC East race.
Riding a two-game winning streak, Big Blue has the Raiders — a team coming off a 49-20 blasting by the Eagles — next on the schedule.
And while that may seem like easy pickings for a Giants’ team that is feeling good about itself lately, quarterback Eli Manning cautioned that the Raiders (3-5) will be looking to rectify their ills.
“It’s usually the way it works out. Each week is different, so what happened to a team the week prior you can’t assume that’ll automatically happen again [because] that’s usually not the case,” Manning said. “They usually come out with something to prove and come out with a better performance. They have a talented defense so we need to be prepared and expect their best effort.”
The Raiders’ effort on Sunday wasn’t good enough as Eagles quarterback Nick Foles lit them up for an NFL record-tying seven touchdown passes — in just three quarters of work. Manning said while he didn’t see the highlights of that game, he heard about them. He added he’s hesitant to say whatever the Eagles did will automatically work for them, noting that each personnel matchup and every scenario is different.
“You have to run your offense. You can’t look at a play that [the Eagles] ran and say, ‘Oh, we gotta run that play,’” said Manning. “You might get a different defense or response, so you just have to run what you’re comfortable with and know that you must execute whatever is called.”
Execution will be the key, said head coach Tom Coughlin. He added that the bye week came at a good time for his staff and players to recharge their batteries and to also look within to see how they can turn around this season.
Coughlin seemed pleased at the progress made by his squad, as they’ve cut down on turnovers and haven’t blown as many assignments — and most importantly still possesses a competitive edge and focus, if Monday’s practice session was any indication.
“We evaluated offense, defense, special teams and then all of the individual aspects coaching-wise. Fundamentals are what we’re after, first and foremost, but we also looked at each specific play or call and we critiqued each one so to give that information right back to the players in terms of how they can improve,” said Coughlin. “We need to play better. And we need to win more. That’s the dramatics. ... But it’s good to be back. Glad to be working [and] anxious to get to the eight-game season that we have.”
“It was good we got some rest. I think after eight games the body needs some rest. We got some guys back healthy,” said Manning. “It’s now an eight-game season and we have a game coming up against Oakland. We know we have a challenge ahead of us, but we’re looking forward to it and we’re ready to attack it.”
Big Blue notes ...
» Coughlin said he reached out to Broncos head coach John Fox over the weekend after reports came out the Denver head coach would undergo heart surgery and miss several weeks. Texans head coach Gary Kubiak also had a fainting episode at halftime of his game Sunday night, which led him to undergo tests for a stroke on Monday. According to reports, both ailing coaches appear to be in good spirits, and Coughlin said they were both in his prayers.
“My thoughts go right to two personal friends that I have that are obviously in need of our prayers and best wishes,” said Coughlin. “I don’t know much about Gary’s situation. I did text John back and forth a little bit. I told him we would pray for him and I think he’ll come back stronger than ever.”
» Coughlin noted how stressful life as an NFL head coach can be.
“I worry about it, but when you sign up for it, it kind of goes along with it unless somehow the competitive aspect of the game changes,” said Coughlin. “It’s just as much that as it is anything else. It’s all about the grinding away inside, the competitive part of this thing. It’s all part of it. It’s what the individuals are made of that are at this level.”
» Coughlin also touched on the hazing and harassment story coming out of Miami. The Giants head coach tried to dance around specifically discussing the Dolphins’ situation but allowed that his franchise has a strict policy about that kind of conduct.
“I really didn’t know much about it until the Thursday night game [but] we do a lot of work along those lines [of policing the locker room]. We do a lot of positive work, a lot of team-oriented work, a lot of encouragement, but recognizing that there is peer pressure involved,” said Coughlin. “I don’t know one thing about [the Miami situation], so don’t ask me what that’s about. I really don’t [know]. I’m not commenting on that other than the fact that there is peer pressure involved and there is competitiveness involved, but if it goes beyond or over the line, then of course we’re involved. We’re all policing it. We have assistant coaches. We have players in leadership roles and they’re very much involved, whether it’s in their own individual meeting rooms or whatever. And for whatever reason, if I have to get involved and talk to someone about their behavior, yay or nay, then that’s what happens.”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter@TBone8.