New York Giants: 2013 Week 6 NYG at CHI

Terrell Thomas: WR Marshall pushes off

October, 11, 2013
CHICAGO -- It was something of a mild surprise that Terrell Thomas drew a starting outside cornerback assignment for the New York Giants on Thursday night in Chicago. Thomas had played the slot corner position for the first four games of the season and didn't play a single defensive snap Sunday against the Eagles. Trumaine McBride had started that game opposite Prince Amukamara and in place of the injured Corey Webster.

But on Thursday, it was Thomas and Amukamara starting, and that meant Thomas had to match up much of the night with 6-foot-4, 230-pound Bears wideout Brandon Marshall. Thomas was covering Marshall on one of Marshall's touchdown catches and said the big man pushed off.

"Definitely. He does it all the time," Thomas said. "I talked to the refs before the game about it. He's a big, physical guy and they let him get away with it. I had my hands on him, but I couldn't make a play on the ball because I got thrown away."

Thomas was especially upset because he felt a double-standard was being applied when Giants safety Antrel Rolle got called for defensive holding on a Bears third-down play that put the game away with 1:42 left on the clock.

"If you're going to call the game aggressive, call it the whole game," Thomas said. "Don't wait until the last minute and then throw the flag. They were pushing off the whole game and the refs weren't calling it."

Hey, Thomas may be right. But this is one of those things you don't ever seem to hear from the team that won. Just saying.

CHICAGO -- You cannot undo what's been done, and Tom Coughlin isn't the sort of man to waste his time trying something so foolish and futile. The New York Giants are 0-6 for the first time in 37 years. There's no fixing that. There's nothing the head coach or anyone else can do to make it better. In front of Coughlin lies a miserable 10-game expanse of which he and the Giants must make the best. Beyond that, likely, lies a decision about if, at the age of 67, he wants to stick around and be part of a rebuilding project for a franchise he's led to two Super Bowl titles in the last seven years.

How does Coughlin approach all of that, from the vantage point of the first 0-6 start he's ever had as an NFL head coach? The same way he'd approach it if he were 6-0 -- with a laser-like focus on what he can control and what's right in front of him.

"You go back to work," Coughlin said late Thursday night, after the Giants played their best game of the season and still lost 27-21 to the Bears at Soldier Field. "You have to put everything you can into preparation and try and go win a game, just like you'd do under any other normal circumstance. We're all sick of the losing, but we put ourselves in this position. So we keep striving to improve in the areas we need to improve and to come up with ways in which we can be better."

That's what's on Tom Coughlin's mind at 0-6. You want to talk and wonder and speculate about his future? Go right ahead, but please forgive him for declining to join you. That's not who he is or how he operates. And for that reason, he's probably the best coach the Giants could have to manage them through a season that's over three weeks before Halloween. All that's left for these Giants is pride -- the ability to get themselves up for a game every week and put forth a respectable, professional effort. They are not a contender, right now, for anything but the No. 1 pick in next year's draft. The only remaining question of significance is whether they will quit the way you see teams quit every year when it's over, or if they'll play hard until the bitter, meaningless end. You'd better believe that matters to Coughlin, and because it matters to him, it matters to his players.

"We're always confident, and that hasn't changed and it won't change," Giants guard Kevin Boothe said. "This stinks, but we have a lot of proud guys in here that have won championships. That's the culture of this organization and of this team, to never give up."

Coughlin's mission over he final 11 weeks of this season will be to maintain that. He's not getting fired, now or at the end of the season. And he doesn't sound as though he has any interest in firing anyone himself. Asked if the 10 days between this game and the next might allow him to "make changes," he scoffed.

"What changes would we want to make?" he asked. "I don't see it. I'll look at everything. I'll evaluate everything."

But he's not likely to start firing coordinators in-season, because Coughlin doesn't believe in angry firings as the way to fix anything. Blood for blood's sake is a frustrated fan's instinct, and there are surely coaches, owners and general managers in the league who would operate that way if caught in these circumstances. But the Giants' coaches, owners and GM aren't like that. They're going to swallow this, cope with the fact that the team they put together is a terrible one, then go back to work in the offseason and fix it.

Meantime, though, they're not sitting on their hands. GM Jerry Reese has added pieces since the start of the season, and Brandon Jacobs, Jon Beason and John Conner all played very well Thursday night. Reese deserves a lot of blame for this mess, but he's looking for ways to make it more manageable. Coughlin is, too, and the work ethic they're showing in the face of futility filters down to a locker room that's maintaining its pride and professionalism under circumstances that would crush a lot of teams.

"We've just got to keep playing," said Jacobs, who rushed 22 times for 106 yards and two touchdowns. "This is a lot of adversity that's been placed in our path, but the only way we can overcome it is to stay together and keep working to get a win."

It's the only thing Coughlin knows how to do, and you can be certain it's the only thing he's thinking about. What lies beyond December is a complex, murky end of an era. If Coughlin wants to come back and coach the Giants in 2014, he'll know that he's doing it without Justin Tuck, without Hakeem Nicks, without David Diehl. Probably without Chris Snee, his son-in-law, which means without his grandchildren greeting him in the hallway and the locker room after home games. A lot will be changing with these Giants in the next offseason, and when the time comes, Coughlin's going to have to decide whether or not he wants to come back and help put the pieces back together.

But those are thoughts and discussions for another time. As much as people always want to talk about Coughlin's retirement plans, to this point he has none and doesn't want to spend any time contemplating them. That just doesn't make any sense to him. He has work to do and a game to coach next week.

Giants' Brandon Jacobs, reborn

October, 11, 2013
CHICAGO -- Dormant all year, the New York Giants' running game sprang surprisingly to life in Thursday night's 27-21 loss to the Bears. Veteran running back Brandon Jacobs, filling in as the starter for the injured David Wilson, rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. As a team, the Giants had 123 rushing yards in the game, which is 43.3 percent of their league-worst total (284) from their first five games.

With fullback John Conner heavily involved for the first time as a lead blocker, and with the Bears playing with backups in place of injured starters at defensive tackle, Jacobs found room to run the middle of the Chicago defense and took advantage of it.

"I just did what was asked of me," Jacobs said. "I did what they brought me here to do -- go out and play running back for the New York Giants. I felt good out there, even though without a win it doesn't mean anything. But I told the guys before the game started I was going to give them everything I've got on every snap."

Whether or not the performance is repeatable is a complete mystery, of course. The Giants have 10 days off before their next game, a "Monday Night Football" matchup against the Vikings on Oct. 21. Wilson could theoretically be back for that, though it seems unlikely as he's getting his neck looked at by a specialist next week and could have a serious injury that keeps him out for many weeks or even the rest of the season. Running back Da'Rel Scott injured his hamstring late in the game and could be out several weeks as well. So it's likely the Giants will be in the market for a running back of some sort in the coming days. But what Jacobs showed them Thursday, with Conner's help, is that they do have the ability to run the ball -- something the first five games of the season definitely did not reveal.

Locker Room Buzz: New York Giants

October, 11, 2013
CHICAGO -- Observed in the locker room after the New York Giants' 27-21 loss to the Chicago Bears:

Emotional Eli: After his latest three-interception game raised his league-leading total to 15 for the season, Giants quarterback Eli Manning took the blame for the loss. "I feel like I'm not doing my part," he said. "That's the frustrating part. I feel like our guys are fighting hard, and guys are doing their parts, and I need to start doing mine."

Down with the ship: Safety Antrel Rolle said he's sticking to his belief that the Giants can win the rest of their games, even though he said that two weeks ago. "People are counting us out, and I don't blame them," Rolle said. "Outside looking in, I'd probably count us out, too. But we can't. We have to count ourselves in."

Injury update: Running back Da'Rel Scott injured his hamstring late in the game, and after the game wore a protective sleeve on his right leg while he received help getting dressed. He also had crutches propped near his locker. Wouldn't look for him to play again any time soon. The Giants will probably be hunting for a running back again next week.

Rapid Reaction: New York Giants

October, 10, 2013

CHICAGO -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' 27-21 loss to the Chicago Bears:

What it means: The Giants are 0-6 for the first time since 1976, when they started 0-9. They did, however, do a bunch of things in this game they hadn't yet done in this lost season. They ran the ball well, racking up 123 yards on 26 carries. They converted 7 of 11 third downs, after converting only 16 of 61 in their first five games. They got defensive stops when they needed them. They kept penalties to a minimum. They avoided becoming the first team in league history to allow 30 or more points in their first six games. It was the best the Giants have looked this season by far, and they still couldn't come up with their first win.

Stock Watch: Brandon Jacobs and John Conner, UP. The Giants were averaging a league-worst 56.8 rushing yards per game through their first five games, but they rushed for 56 on Thursday night in the first quarter alone. With David Wilson out with a neck injury, Jacobs was named the starter and had a great deal of success all night running behind the blocking of fullback Conner, who saw his first significant action since signing with the team, and against the backups the Bears were using at defensive tackle.

Playing from behind: This was obviously far from the Giants' worst game of this miserable season, but turnovers did hurt them again as they have all year. Eli Manning threw interceptions on each of the Giants' first two possessions. The first didn't end up costing them, since the Bears inexplicably went for it on fourth-and-2 instead of kicking a short field goal, but the second was returned for a touchdown that put the Giants in a 7-0 hole. And the third, which came with two minutes left in the game and the Giants driving in Chicago territory down just six points, iced it for the Bears. The interceptions raised Manning's league-leading total to 15 and the Giants' league-leading turnover total to 23. No other team in the league has more than 12.

What's next: The Giants get 10 days off before their next game, which is Oct. 21 on "Monday Night Football" against the Minnesota Vikings at MetLife Stadium. Because they played the early game in Week 6 and their bye is in Week 9, the Giants will play only two games in the next 30 days.
CHICAGO -- Things started about as poorly as they could have started for the New York Giants against the Chicago Bears here at Soldier Field. Eli Manning threw interceptions on each of the Giants' first two possessions, raising his league-leading total to 14, and the second was run back for a touchdown by Bears cornerback Tim Jennings. That got the Bears out to an early 7-0 lead that could have been worse if Chicago had elected to kick an easy field goal after the first interception instead of going for it on fourth-and-2.

And yes, the Giants trail 24-14 at the half, the Bears get the ball back to start the second half and the strong likelihood is that the Giants leave here with an 0-6 record after becoming the first team in NFL history to allow 30 or more points in each of its first six games.


There have been some encouraging signs. For example, with fullback John Conner paving the way, Brandon Jacobs rushed for 53 yards and a touchdown on eight carries in the first quarter alone. The Giants' first-quarter total of 56 rushing yards nearly equaled the league-worst average of 56.8 they brought into the game. The Bears are banged up at defensive tackle and seemed to be daring the Giants to run the ball, and the Giants have been able to do it. The threat of a running game has also helped Manning and the passing game, as the touchdown pass to Rueben Randle that tied the game at 14-14 came on play-action.

The Giants also are 4-for-6 on third downs, which is significant since the were 16-for-61 on third down for a league-worst percentage of 26.2 through the first five games.

Jon Beason, who got the start at middle linebacker in his second game since coming over from Carolina in a trade, also showed a lot in the early going. He's the kind of physical, athletic presence the Giants' linebacking corps has lacked, and you can see why they wanted to work him in so quickly. He did get caught up on the first of Jay Cutler's touchdown passes to Brandon Marshall, following Alshon Jeffery and leaving Marshall open in the end zone, but that had a lot to do with a well-designed play by the Bears. Beason has looked good overall.

Still, the Giants trail by 10 on the road and have already turned the ball over twice. All is most definitely not well. As much as Manning seems to want to keep throwing to Randle, he appeared to be part of the problem on both of the interceptions. Hakeem Nicks still isn't separating from receivers. And of course, the dormant Giants pass rush is getting nowhere near Cutler. The Giants remain a very bad team with a ton of problems, but they have at least shown some signs of competence in the first half of this game.
CHICAGO -- No real surprises on the New York Giants' list of inactives for Thursday night's game against the Bears. Six of the seven were announced as out Wednesday, and the seventh is No. 3 quarterback Ryan Nassib.

That means defensive end Damontre Moore, who was listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury, is active, as are defensive tackle Linval Joseph and tight end Brandon Myers, who were questionable. It remains to be seen how much those players will play, since the team has to have 46 active players and a week on which so many guys are injured may require a team to keep some active who aren't fully healthy.

The Giants also announced changes to the starting lineup. Newly acquired linebacker Jon Beason, who came over in a trade with the Carolina Panthers six days ago, is the starting middle linebacker. And veteran Terrell Thomas is starting at outside cornerback in place of the injured Corey Webster, which is an interesting decision for a number of reasons. Thomas didn't get a single defensive snap in Sunday's loss to the Eagles, and he said he though it was due to an effort to rest his surgically repaired knee for this game. Turns out he was right. The undersized Trumaine McBride got the start Sunday against the Eagles, but the bigger Thomas gets the nod tonight as the Giants look to match up against big, physical Bears receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.

On the other side, Bears cornerback Charles Tillman is inactive, which could help Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks win his physical matchups in the secondary.