Giants players were given Tuesday off as they embarked on their bye-week endeavors, but the coaching staff stayed behind one extra day to explain their 3-4 record, and how to improve it in the second half.
The theme, for the most part, was how to re-invigorate both sides of the line of scrimmage, as neither unit has looked particularly stellar in the recent two losses.
The Eagles (5-1) and Cowboys (6-1) each took consecutive turns ransacking Big Blue’s offensive and defensive lines in respective weeks. Philadelphia sacked quarterback Eli Manning six times, while Dallas dominated the line of scrimmage as running back DeMarco Murray raced to a game-high 128 yards.
Both line coaches — Pat Flaherty on offense, and Robert Nunn on defense — will spend a majority of their bye week holed up inside the film room hoping to fix their respective units’ ailments.
“It can be and has to be fixed, and it starts with me. I have to do a better job in getting our guys to understand the concepts,” said Flaherty. “We are not going backwards. We are moving forward. That is what we are doing [going back to the basic fundamentals]. That is where I came from [and] that is where I am going back to. … We are going to study each and every play to see how we can make it better.”
Nunn, who admitted the pass rush “isn’t where it should be right now,” said the more pressing issue for his defensive line is stopping the opposition’s rushing attack.
“Certainly, the last two weeks, we needed to stop the run. You are not going to get those pass rush opportunities [if you don’t stop the run],” said Nunn. “We need to get back to stopping the run and hitting the quarterback. The last two weeks we haven’t been able to do that. And by not doing that, that opens up a lot of play-action pass. The No. 1 thing we need to do coming back is to stop the run — and that’ll create more opportunities and allow good situations for our pass rushers.”
Head coach Tom Coughlin reasoned that being better up front on both sides of the ball is imperative. New York enters their break ranked 25th in total defense (384.4 yards per game). A lot of that is due to a run defense that is getting gashed to the tune of 122 yards per game, good for 21st.
Big Blue will also need to reverse their own rushing fortunes in the second half of the season, as they’re averaging 114.6 rushing yards per game – good for 15th in the league. That could prove to be a difficult task, however, with an offensive line that has been patched together at times due to injury.
Customary left guard Geoff Schwartz should be ready to play by the time they face the Colts in two weeks. Schwartz was a prized free-agent acquisition from Kansas City over the offseason, who has spent the first half of the season on injured reserve/designated-for-return after dislocating his toe in a preseason game on Aug. 22.
He has begun running, but has yet to practice with the team. While he’s hoping to immediately get back on the field by the time they re-convene for practices, Coughlin didn’t sound as optimistic.
“Schwartz has a long way to go,” Coughlin said. “He has been standing on the sidelines for a long time now. We are going to have to get him on the practice field extensively before that [re-inserted into the starting lineup] happens.”
The former Chief said he hopes to test his toe on the field next week.
“I have to be able to practice to be able to play. The plan is to be back [by next] Wednesday. That’s kind of the plan right now, to test it out next week, or in two weeks,” said Schwartz. “It does feel better. I can do a good amount of things without pads on and without people hitting me. Part of the issue is going to be how it reacts when I’m pushing and when I’m anchoring and when I’m playing 50 plays a game. I’m not going to know until I get out there.”
Big Blue notes …
»Coughlin said linebacker Jon Beason will make a return visit to see foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina. Beason’s toe continues to cost him playing time. He’s missed three games with the injury and left the game in Dallas with the same ailment. The X-rays were negative, but Beason did not return to the game.
»Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had limited snaps during the team’s only workout this week, on Monday. He will likely have to manage his back and hamstring injuries for at least several weeks.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.