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Players departing voice support for Coughlin

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.Y. — The New York Giants met as a team for one final time on Monday during which head coach Tom Coughlin delivered a simple message to his players.

“It’s never ‘Goodbye; it’s ‘until next time,'” cornerback Prince Amukamara said in summarizing Coughlin’s message.

Coughlin’s words come as no surprise, as the 68-year-old head coach, beloved and respected by his players, is expected to return for a 12th season despite the team’s finishing 6-10, one game worse than their 7-9 season from a year ago.

Although the Giants haven’t issued any formal announcements confirming multiple reports, Coughlin has, in the past, shown a resilience in the face of adversity.

When his team was crumbling around him due to injuries — the Giants placed an unheard-of 22 players on season-ending injured reserve this year — Coughlin urged his younger players to seize the opportunities before them to play for not just their teammates but for themselves.

Kicker Josh Brown, who at 35 years old is the oldest member of the roster, said that once younger players understood that Coughlin’s intent wasn’t to control them but rather help them, things started to click for the younger players.

“I think his intent is asking guys to mature; to understand responsibility, discipline and what’s required to do this job because it’s a rare opportunity,” Brown said.

“If people don’t understand that and what it takes, you can get lost in the other things this job gives you, but the job has to come first.”

Another reason why Coughlin is so beloved by his players is that he doesn’t play favorites.

“He’s consistent. He’s the same with everyone and is a guy you can rely on He’s really in the fight with us,” said linebacker Jon Beason, one of Coughlin’s co-captains this season. “He’s working just as hard and can do everything he possibly can and I think that’s something we can learn from.”

Beason praised Coughlin for keeping the team together during its seven-game losing streak earlier this season when most other clubs might have come apart at the seams.

“You go through a seven-game losing streak like we did and it becomes tough to motivate guys,” he noted. “(Coughlin is) the best motivator I’ve ever been around as a coach. Guys didn’t fold; we kept fighting and we tried to make a bad situation a little bit better.”

With a healthier roster, a few new pieces and Coughlin’s leadership, the future seems extremely bright for the Giants.

“I was sitting down and talking to a few players last night, and we were like don’t be shocked; there’s going to be a run next year, so be prepared,” linebacker Jameel McClain said. “We have all of the dynamics to get where we need to get and we also learned the biggest lesson we could learn (about professionalism), so we definitely have something to build off of.”

–Lost in “Odell Beckham Jr. Mania” is the fact that fellow receiver Rueben Randle, whose career at one point this season was left for dead, enjoyed a late-season surge that bodes well for the Giants’ passing game’s future.

Randle, who was benched in successive weeks earlier in the month, finally committed himself to doing the little things necessary to be a solid NFL receiver.

Randle, who finished with career highs in receptions (71) and receiving yards (938), strung together an impressive two-week performance to end the season, finishing with 12 catches for 290 yards and one touchdown, putting him second on the team overall behind Beckham Jr.

“I just wanted to finish strong and that’s just the main point about it,” Randle said. “I didn’t want to end on a bad note, at least for myself, so I just try to come out and give my all and just leave on a positive note.”

Randle said the biggest difference for him was realizing the opportunity that was before him and taking advantage of it.

“I just want to come out here and make plays, as many plays as possible, and that’s what I tried to do the last couple of weeks.”

While Randle is happy with how he finished the season, when he sits back to reflect on his third year as a pro, he plans to be objective.

“You look at everything, man. The good, the bad, what we can fix just to get better to come back next year and be a better team and get some more wins and hopefully be in the playoffs.”

REPORT CARD VS. EAGLES

PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus — Eli Manning and Co. took to the air a whopping 53 times, completing just 28 of those attempts for 429 yards. The backbreaker in the batch though was the fourth-quarter interception on a ball intended for Rueben Randle, a pass Randle claimed he lost in the lights and a pass that Eagles safety Nate Allen picked off, ending any chances the Giants might have had for a comeback

RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus — The Giants’ rushing game went right back to square one as there was little push by the offensive line and hence little production by the duo of Andre Williams and Rashad Jennings, neither of whom rushed for more than 45 yards for the day.

PASS DEFENSE: D — While the Giants managed to hold QB Mark Sanchez to just 292 yards, they had trouble defending the middle of the field and had a few issues with dropped interceptions. Missed opportunities such as those can often mean the difference between a win and a loss, and on two occasions where the Giants should have come up with an interception, the Eagles went on to finish their drive with points.

RUSH DEFENSE: C — The good news is the Giants did a much better job this time around against the Eagles running game. The bad news is that they still gave up a few long runs to running back LeSean McCoy and Sanchez. They were also caught out of position on Chris Polk’s 17-yard touchdown run.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C — Although the Giants kept the Eagles’ return game under wraps, the “black eye” of the group, the punt coverage unit, allowed pressure up the middle that resulted in a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown. That one play swung the momentum back in the Eagles’ favor for good and doomed the Giants’ chances of avenging the earlier season loss.

COACHING: B — The Giants battled and kept things close, but in the end, the blown opportunities cost them. That’s more on the players. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell started the game in a nickel package only to have the Eagles drive the length of the field for a touchdown that tied the score early in the game. Fewell adjusted, but the fact remains that he had few answers for shoring up the middle of the field.


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