Giants head coach Tom Coughlin may have sounded slightly pleased with the team’s opening preseason win last week, but following Sunday night’s sloppy 20-12 loss to the Colts, the coach was back to his pointed ways.
Coughlin said he reviewed the game film almost immediately after and was troubled by the amount of errors his team committed on both sides of the ball.
“I made an incredible number of notes on the side, and not taking anything away from the Colts, but this game was a lot about what we didn’t do, [and] what we weren’t able to accomplish,” said Coughlin. “The main stat in terms of sacks, [is that] they sacked us six times, [and] we only got them once. The one key thing for me was the 10 penalties, which were totally the opposite of what the circumstance was the week before. We were 0-for-4 in the green zone, [and] they were 1-for-1.”
While the game wasn’t a totally negative experience for Coughlin — he mentioned Big Blue held the Colts to 2.7 yards per carry, while they averaged 4.0 yards per carry, and the defense also forced Indianapolis into seven runs of minus yardage — there were still more things that needed correcting than praising.
Coughlin felt as if the defense missed too many chances for takeaways. By his estimation, they should’ve had at least five interceptions.
And when it came to the short-yardage execution — particularly in the red zone — and the lack of pass protection the quarterbacks had, Coughlin was very critical of the offensive line.
“Yeah, we had some issues, no doubt. And some of the opportunities that some of the younger kids got to play caused some issues as well,” he said. “But we’d like it all to come together, obviously, and that’s not the case right now. They have work to do. ... It’s a multitude of things, not just [right tackle] David Diehl.”
When the topic of the red-zone offense came up — an undoubtedly sore topic, considering the team could only muster four field goals and couldn’t even convert a fourth-and-inches in the first quarter – Coughlin gave a terse message to his offense.
“Make a play,” he said. “Somebody make a play.”
Lack of execution wasn’t the only thing on Coughlin’s mind, as the head coach noted a handful of key players might not even get the chance to make a play in next week’s third preseason game against the rival Jets, in what is usually the “dress rehearsal” game around the league, since most teams play their regulars well into the third quarter.
Center David Baas will definitely be out for that game, as he suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL). Baas could be out anywhere from three to six weeks. Wideout Victor Cruz (heel contusion) is likely done for the remainder of the preseason as well, since the Jets game on Saturday night is a quick turnaround and most teams rest their starters in the preseason finale anyway.
Justin Tuck tweaked his left hamstring, although Coughlin didn’t sound too concerned, noting that he thinks his defensive captain will be able to practice this week.
Coughlin was also noncommittal about the availability of safety Antrel Rolle (sprained ankle) and rookie defensive end Damontre Moore (shoulder), although both will likely practice sometime this week. And only then will he make a decision on them.
When asked if playing the antagonistic Jets gives him any more incentive to play key players, Coughlin scoffed, but noted it’s important to play as many regulars as possible.
“It’s our third preseason game. It’s an important game from our standpoint because we need improvement. We need to do something [positive] right away,” Coughlin said. “The Jets are a physical football team. It will be a very good test for us and we need to look at this with the idea of improvement and the continual analysis of personnel and trying to attack some of the areas that we haven’t been good. ... We haven’t scored many points [and] we’re still lacking in the turnover area. There are things that we are definitely trying to accomplish [against the Jets] — putting pressure on the opponent’s quarterback, continuing to stop the run, having a good mix between the run and the pass and having consistency. We’ve got a lot of things to improve on.”
Big Blue notes ...
»Coughlin on Cruz’s availability in practice this week: “We’ll see where he stands with that as the days go by. We’ll take that one as it comes.”
Cruz was seen around the facilities wearing a protective boot.
»Coughlin on Baas’s immediate future, most notably the Sept. 8 regular season opener in Dallas: "It's weekly. That's all I can tell you. Depends on how fast that injury and rehab goes."
»Despite all the trouble Diehl had against the Colts — and now the injury to Baas — Coughlin insisted he has no thoughts about Diehl and rookie first-round pick Justin Pugh moving around the offensive line in case the unit needs reshuffling.
»So far this preseason, the ranking of the Giants’ quarterback ratings looks like this: primary backup David Carr is 78.0, starter Eli Manning is 67.3, backup Curtis Painter is 60.8 and rookie Ryan Nassib is 59.2.
»The rushing attack has been spotty at best, as through two games, Andre Brown and David Wilson have yet to separate themselves in the competition. Brown has 59 yards on 12 carries, while Wilson has 50 yards on 13 carries. Rookie Michael Cox has 37 yards on 11 carries, while fellow backup Ryan Torain has 19 yards on five carries.
»Big Blue’s first-team pass rush has been anemic as its only registered one sack by a starter, defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins's takedown of Ben Roethlisberger in the opener.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.