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Coughlin leads Giants out of early hole

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – At 69 years of age, New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is at a point in his life where most people in his shoes would probably be winding down their careers, kicking their feet up and spending time doing leisurely activities.

Not Coughlin, the energetic leader of the Giants who stood firmly behind his team when it struggled to a 0-2 start, and kept finding a way to push the right buttons to help them realize that they could not only win games, but also be relevant in the NFC East race.

“I think the thing that I love about Coach Coughlin is that he’s consistent,” said linebacker and defensive captain Jon Beason.

“He’s going to preach the same thing no matter what. We have a process, we have goals in mind, and he knows how to get us there. When he’s consistent, we’re reminded of the fact that we can trust in him and the direction that we’re going.”

When the chips were down for Coughlin’s Giants, the head coach placed an even bigger focus on the positives in an attempt to generate confidence in his players.

That tactic is a big reason why the Giants were able to avoid falling into a psychological funk following their disappointing start to the 2015 season.

“You start off 0-2, plenty of good, not quite enough to get the W, but a lot to learn from,” Beason said.

“Knowing that, ‘Hey, look at all of the great things we did do; let’s build on that and don’t forget about those things. The small things that are costing us games, let’s focus on those things and be more complete, and hopefully we can win more football games.'”

Coughlin, whom Beason said does jumping jacks in the meeting room, admitted that sometimes he’s not sure where he’s getting his energy level from, but so long as it’s working to keep the players focus on the prize, then that’s all that matters.

“I do know that it puts a fire in our belly without a doubt to be 0-2 and I didn’t think we were an 0-2 team. We needed to do something about it,” he said. “So we tried to inspire our guys to believe in themselves and come together as a team, to play the four quarters. Forget about the score and play each play as hard as you possibly can and don’t let any of the circumstances get into your head.”

It’s also helped the players to see Coughlin take full accountability when things haven’t gone as planned, even if the misstep wasn’t directly Coughlin’s doing.

“Yeah, I think he’s made a name for himself by being able to motivate people and he definitely did that for us,” center Weston Richburg said. “It’s good to have a leader like that and I think it’s going to be a big part of the success of the team this year.”

REPORT CARD VS. BILLS

PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus. The Giants’ offensive line kept the aggressive Bills pass rush off quarterback Eli Manning’s back, the lone breakdown coming on a safety blitz. Manning made most every one of his 212 passing yards gained on 20 completions (out of 35 attempts) count for something, notably three touchdown receptions. He did, however, have trouble connecting with top receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who caught five out of 12 pass targets with one drop. Manning also threw his first interception of the season on a late-game pass intended from receiver Rueben Randle.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A. The Giants had their best rushing production this season, often finding success despite facing eight or more men in the box. The offensive line was stellar in opening holes between the tackles and credit goes to the trio of Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, and Andre Williams for exploiting those holes as well as accumulating 62 out of their 92 rushing yards after contact.

PASS DEFENSE: C-plus. Other than continuing to have trouble with defending the tight end in the middle of the field, no Bills receiver caught more than five passes for 43 yards, those numbers belonging to receiver Chris Hogan. Otherwise, the Giants again had trouble with defending Bills tight end Charles Clay, who finished with nine receptions for 111 yards. The Giants also weren’t able to get much of a pass rush against Taylor, coming up with just four hits and one sack, the sack coming late in the game. Still, the pass defense held its own against a quarterback that posed a dual threat to burn them with his arm and his legs.

RUSH DEFENSE: A. Neither running back Karlos Williams or quarterback Tyrod Taylor had any answers against the Giants run defense, which held the duo to just 55 yards on 24 carries. The Giants exercised strong gap control on the inside and did a good job with remaining disciplined on the edges, which forced everything inside where defensive tackles Cullen Jenkins and Johnathan Hankins, and the linebackers were right there waiting to make a stop. The Giants are currently No. 1 against the run (69.8 yards per game) with Seattle (100.3) and Detroit (112.0) still to play on Monday Night Football.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus. The Giants won the starting field-position battle for the fourth week in a row thanks to some fine coverage by both the kickoff and punt coverage teams. The kicking and punting wasn’t flawless as kicker Josh Brown missed an extra point, and punter Brad Wing sent a couple of punts down the middle of the field but the shortcomings didn’t affect the outcome of the game.

COACHING: A. After getting the Giants back on track in Week 3, head coach Tom Coughlin and his staff took this team to the next level. Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s game plan which took advantage of running the ball mostly between the tackles and focusing on the short passes took some of the onus off the offensive line, whose starting left tackle, Ereck Flowers, continued to struggle with an ankle ailment. Defensively, coordinator Steve Spagnuolo designed some new pre-snap looks that confused quarterback Tyrod Taylor and which kept him in the pocket.


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