Giants turn focus to rival Eagles - Metro US

Giants turn focus to rival Eagles

The Giants vanquished the Rams Monday night, but if they play the Eagles the same choppy way they’re sure to fall on their collective faces.

Head coach Tom Coughlin said as much as his team prepares on a short work-prep week against arguably their most bitter of rivals. While noting he’d take the win because it evened the Giants (1-1) with Philadelphia and Dallas, Coughlin said the Giants still need to improve on most every facet.

“We have a lot of work to do and we are a work in progress,” Coughlin said during yesterday’s conference call. “There are things from a technical standpoint that we need to work on. It’s not as much cohesion but the aspect of being in position to make plays.”

Perhaps the biggest worry – besides the mounting injuries, of course – is the Giants’ secondary. Sam Bradford shredded them for 331 yards and if Michael Vick passes all his baseline concussions tests, the Eagles will pose an even bigger threat. Vick has far better downfield weapons at his disposal, including DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, so if Bradford and the unknown Danario Alexander can light up Big Blue, Coughlin shudders at the thought of a fully-intact Philadelphia squad.

“There have been too many long passes completed against us this early in the season,” Coughlin said. “We have our work cut out for us [because] we have a short week against an outstanding Eagles team.”

That was about all Coughlin would say about the Eagles, and he certainly wouldn’t take the bait and discuss former Giants’ wideout Steve Smith or the “Matt Dodge Game,” which was the last time the two teams faced each other. And when asked to give a prognostication about Vick’s health, Coughlin wouldn’t go there, either.

“I expect Michael to play,” was all Coughlin would say. “I think that if Michael Vick can play, he will play.”

Regardless of who plays quarterback for the Eagles, if the Giants can’t protect their own signal-caller it won’t matter who starts. The Giants’ new-look offensive line allowed three sacks of Manning and numerous other knockdowns and hurries. Such ineffectiveness isn’t something Big Blue is used to, considering they once set the NFL record for most consecutive games started by the same starting five.

But gone are Rich Seubert and Shaun O’Hara and in steps a new rotation that has yet to make Manning feel comfortable in the pocket.

Coughlin said it’s not a lack of talent that has him troubled because newcomer David Baas is every bit as good as O’Hara and Will Beatty and David Diehl have looked good at times. But rather, it’s the cohesion that has him worried.

“We’ve been concerned since the preseason,” Coughlin said. “We’ve had some protection errors with [receivers] in great position, but we weren’t able to get [the pass] off … you’ve got to learn and got to get better and go forward. There were many mistakes to correct and we’ll do that in practice in a positive way.”

Whatever is hindering the Giants’ ascension, they better figure it out quickly because they don’t have much time to fix their ailments.

Big Blue notes

» The last time these two teams met, DeSean Jackson had just executed a walk-off punt return touchdown. Giants’ punter Matt Dodge is no longer on the team, but Jackson still poses the same problem against a sometimes shaky Big Blue special teams. Coughlin had no desire to discuss that moment, only saying he hopes his team “finishes the game stronger.”

» The Giants caught some flack because of the way they handled the Rams’ hurry-up offense. St. Louis was driving for a touchdown early in the game, but apparently ran into the NFL’s version of flopping as veteran safety Deon Grant and rookie linebacker Jacquian Williams both seemingly feigned injuries as to get an injury timeout. Coughlin dodged the assertions, only saying he wouldn’t have approved of such tactics if they are in fact true: “At that point in time, all I noticed that there were players down … but that wouldn’t be very smart because that would be a penalty and the league is cracking down on that type of stuff.”

»One guy who’s legitimately injured is defensive end Osi Umenyiora. Coughlin said he’s optimistic that Umenyiora may actually participate in practice this week: “We hope to see Osi ready to go and on the practice field … probably by Thursday.”

» Coughlin said he’ll wait and see the battery of tests on injured wideouts Mario Manningham (concussion) and Domenik Hixon (knee) before they start making calls for free agent workouts: “We’ll wait and see to hear what the results are before deciding on whether to bring in other wideouts for workouts … [Hixon] is going to have all the tests but no new information right now.”

As for Manningham: “He was very clear leaving the stadium [Monday] night and much more bright-eyed [Tuesday] morning. He’s going through the battery of tests, but we’ll see. I’m overruled by the medical people. And we are extra careful with that type of thing because there is a fine line.”

Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.

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