So I had this brilliant idea for an article in which I thought I would go around the locker room and see if the players had any theories about which their continued good weeks of practice weren’t transferring over to the field.
The problem, though, is when I asked the question, I was typically met with blank stares, stuttering and, in some cases, crickets.
Oh sure, players tried to come up with an answer for me out of respect. Quarterback Eli Manning said that this week, they “just got out performed and outplayed.”
Linebacker Mark Herzlich said, “I don’t know. We are having what we feel like are good practices. I think that it’s tough to replicate the physically in practice and that might be something we need to make sure we get our minds right for on Saturday and Sunday morning. It’s got to be energy and fire, and we’re not having that as much as we should and we have to get better at that.”
Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins thought about it for a minute and then offered, “Maybe we’re just a little uptight right now. Maybe we just need to take a deep breath and relax a bit and play like we know we can.”
Safety Ryan Mundy said, “I’m sure if you really sat there and thought about it you could come up with something, but it really just comes down to execution. You need to transfer what you’re doing to the game field.”
And linebacker Spencer Paysinger opined, “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking these past couple of days to see what I can do myself to bring some guys together and pretty much go to the drawing board. Guys are eager. We don’t take this job lightly. We’re eager to come in here and win, come in here and learn, come in here and play hard. You guys are out there, you see us going hard through the dog days and the fact that it doesn’t resonate on the field… something’s missing. We just have to find what’s missing and not wait for it to come. We have to go out and get it.”
So let’s see, we have a small sample of guys who have different ideas about what the problem is and they can’t even get together on the same page on something so basic that’s at the core of their makeup?
Let me take a stab, as an outsider looking in, about what I think the problem is.
When teammates practice together, someone is going to beat the other guy – it always happens. So if I’m an offensive lineman and I’m constantly blocking a defensive end, does that mean I’m awesome and that my competition stinks, or is the truth somewhere in the middle?
Whatever the case might be, I think Manning came closest to hitting the nail on the head in coming up with a solution.
“All we can do is look at ourselves on each play and try to get better,” said Manning.
But wait, haven’t we heard that before?
Talk is cheap; play the game, fellas.
The Giants fans: You guys and gals deserve a heck of a lot better than what this team has been showing. I mean that. And if you were among those who either attended that game, or who watched the entire game, then pat yourself on the back because you deserve a medal for sitting through that horror show.
The entire team. I especially want to toss out a “miss” to the coaching staff, who continues to stubbornly insist on doing things that might have worked years ago with different personnel but which are not working.
For instance, the Giants rushing game is no longer a power game. So why not try to get David Wilson out in space and see if he can’t take a short pass and turn it into something big just to build confidence?
On defense, if I hear one more time about how the opposing quarterback is getting the ball out of his hands quickly as the reason for the drop-off in sacks, I’m probably going to scream. You mean to tell me the Giants are the only team in the NFL whose pass rush is facing that challenge? I highly doubt that, and if other teams can work around that kind of challenge, why can’t the Giants?
This is probably going to sound odd coming from a member of the media, but I’m tired of radio Tuesdays in which members of the team come on the air and vow things are going to change, that last week’s disaster isn’t going to happen again, yadda-yadda-yadda.
They can sit there and say whatever they want – and some of them do have a lot to say. At the end of the day, though, it’s what they say on Sunday that matters the most.
* * *
I understand what Jerry Reese is trying to do most of the time, but he really needs to get rid of that Super Bowl countdown “clock” from the locker room. Again, I get the sense of urgency, but that thing is almost like a ticking time bomb that I believe is subconsciously putting extra pressure on some of the players to where they might be wound a bit too tight.
If there was one thing that the 2007 team learned –and before you say anything, I’m not comparing the 2007 club with the 2013 club – it is if you go out there and have fun and are loose, good things will happen.
But if you’re 0-3 and you see that reminder, I can just imagine the effect it’s having on some of the players, and I’d be willing to bet that there are guys who walk past it every day and don’t give it a second thought.
Maybe a more effective way to get their attention would be to put up a countdown sign until the start of free agency, when talk is really cheap and those looking for pay raises come with their hands out stretched.
As one of my very first supervisors always used to say “Money doesn’t talk; it screams!”
THE FINAL WORD
I wanted to share a letter I received from a longtime subscriber, Richard A., who attended the game in Charlotte with his wife. I think this letter says it better than anything I could write.
In over 75 years of watching the Giants, I have never seen them play more poorly. This includes watching them during the World War II years. The offensive line was so horrible that it is difficult to criticize anyone else on the offense as most plays were blown up before they started.
The pressure on Manning could only be described as overwhelming. To match that, the defense, especially the defensive line and linebackers were also awful. I have not seen the statistics, but I would guess that Cam Newton had a better day against them than Peyton Manning.
As it happened we were sitting in a box on the 45 yard line directly behind the Giants’ bench. What was most disconcerting was the fact that no one in the bench area seemed the slightest bit perturbed as one horrific play after another transpired before us.It all seemed “business as usual” by both the coaches and the players and none of them seemed upset by the quality of their play .
As a fan, I was besides myself watching missed blocks, missed assignments and slovenly play. The actions of the Giant players and coaches seemed to indicate no one was upset by their dreadful performance and what was happening on the field. While I admire great self-control (far better than I would have had under the circumstances) I wonder if this was more indicative of lack of interest than of self-control.
In any event, Charlotte is an impressive city these days and the stadium is beautiful.