NFL Wire News

Coughlin feeling good about Giants team chemistry


The Sports Xchange

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — As far as New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is concerned, there’s nothing more important to him on the football field than the total team concept.

After weeks and months of drilling the concept into his players’ heads at every possible opportunity, Coughlin has finally begun to reap what he’s sown.

His Giants players have finally melded together as one and, because of that, they awoke on Monday morning in a position in which they haven’t experienced in quite some time: sole possession of first place in the NFC East.

“Well, the grit, the way in which we play, the energy that is spent, the scrappiness, the will, the ability seemingly to have people miss games and others kind of step up and help us win,” Coughlin said of the differences between this year’s team and those he had in 2013 and 2014 that struggled to play and communicate as cohesively as the 2015 squad has done so far.

Perhaps the biggest difference has been the contributions the Giants have been able to get from the bottom parts of their roster.

For example, in Sunday’s win over the 49ers, the Giants were without their top two linebackers, Devon Kennard and Jon Beason.

Already missing receiver Victor Cruz on offense, they would also lose Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle to hamstring strains late in the game when things started to get tight.

Even special teams felt the pinch in personnel resulting from injury as linebacker Jonathan Casillas (calf) was inactive, return specialist Dwayne Harris was removed from kickoff returns due to his increased workload on the offense, and linebacker Uani ‘Unga from his special teams duty due to his presence being necessary on defense after Beason left the game early with a concussion.

Although the result was what everyone on the Giants hoped for, it wasn’t always pretty. However, no one, least of all Coughlin, expected perfection though what he did expect — and what he got — was contributions.

“Last night, every guy that was dressed had to make a contribution and they did,” he said. “(Receiver Geremy) Davis, look at the catch he made, a 16-yarder on third-and-1. And that was a critical part. (Receiver) Myles (White) is out there running around and gave a good performance and accounted for himself. (Tight end) Will Tye played well. These guys are coming up with some games that are helping us.”

Now that the Giants appear to have mastered the team concept, the next step as they prepare for consecutive games against NFC East opponents — they’ll face the Eagles next Monday night and host the Cowboys the week after — will be to keep the tide flowing in the right direction.

“Keep your head down and keep grinding,” said running back Shane Vereen, who as a former member of the Patriots knows a thing or two about team concept and about making sure the season stays on track. “We still have a long way to go. We really are just getting started, really just getting started in the season. So we still have a lot to improve on, take it week to week.”


–PASSING OFFENSE: A-plus. Quarterback Eli Manning had one of his best nights statistically in ages, completing 75.9 percent of his 54 pass attempts for 441 yards and three touchdowns. What’s even more impressive about Manning’s performance, besides the fact that he spread the ball out to nine different receivers ,is that he was without his top three guns: Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle for all or parts of the game plus his pass protection, which allowed seven hits, was spotty.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: B. The Giants finished with an average of 4.0 yards per carry, but the biggest black mark on this unit is the failure of Andre Williams to convert on a pair of short-yardage situations. The rushing offense also hasn’t been very productive in terms of scoring touchdowns — the Giants have just two rushing scores in five games — as it’s become clear that despite head coach Tom Coughlin’s call for balance, the running game has taken a back seat to the passing game.

–PASS DEFENSE: C. The lack of a pass rush continues to haunt the Giants, who were unable to take advantage of quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s propensity to lock into his first read. The Giants came up with zero interceptions and just two sacks, both of the coverage variety, which is something but still not what defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo likely desires to see from his unit.

–RUN DEFENSE: C. The Giants’ top-ranked run defense allowed 124 total yards on the ground to an opponent for the first time this season. Granted, it was missing linebackers Devon Kennard and Jon Beason, but still, there were far too many running plays getting past the front four and to the second level, something that the Giants had done a good job of stopping in prior weeks.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: A. There wasn’t too much in terms of special teams, though for the fifth straight game, the Giants won the starting field position battle, albeit barely, with their average starting field position being their 23 to San Francisco’s starting on their own 21. Kicker Josh Brown converted on all three field-goal attempts, tying his club record of 17 straight field-goal conversions made in 2013, and punter Brad Wing, who still leads the league in punts dropped inside of the 20, added yet another to his collection.

–COACHING: A-minus. Credit head coach Tom Coughlin for keeping his team focused and with its eye on the prize. This week, Coughlin took the concept of “team” to new heights by talking to his players about tight end Daniel Fells, who remains hospitalized for a MRSA infection, and for uniting them to play for their ailing teammate. Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo still tends to get a little too conservative with his play calls in the red zone, but so long as the Giants win, that hasn’t yet become a problem. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo did a decent job with combing over holes in his unit that resulted from injuries.

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