- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- Still disappointed and frustrated, Tom Coughlin told the New York Giants to "grind" and respond, less than 24 hours after they dropped the season opener to the Dallas Cowboys.
“There are 15 [more games] to go,” Coughlin said of his message to the Giants on Thursday. “It is how we respond right now that is the critical factor. Get back to work. Grind! Grind a little bit.
“Forget about all the smoke being blown,” Coughlin continued, referring to the Giants still feeling good about the Super Bowl. “This is a new year, a new team. I’ve got to be careful that every one of my references goes backwards [to last year], too. It is about going forward. There are issues, we have been there before. We lost the opener a year ago. Get it straightened [and turned] around.”
Coughlin said the Giants were somber after losing 24-17 to the Cowboys on Wednesday. The head coach did not mince any words about how he felt about his team’s performance.
Coughlin was not happy to see that the Giants opened the season looking a lot like the team that went 7-7 last year before winning six straight do-or-die games to win the Super Bowl.
“Alarming is probably a good word,” Coughlin said. “Upsetting. That we would make the run that we did [last year] and come back to some of these issues. ... Disappointed. Because the idea of us coming into the regular season full speed ahead with our issues [behind us] is obviously not the case.”
During their first 14 games last season, the Giants struggled to run the ball and stop the run. They had mental breakdowns and gave up too many big plays on defense.
In this season’s opener, the Giants were plagued by many of the same issues. DeMarco Murray busted out for 131 yards rushing. The Giants gave up big plays of 48, 40, 38 and 34 yards to Dallas’ offense. They missed tackles, were beaten in one-on-one matchups and failed to get much push from the offensive line in running the ball.
Coughlin credited the Cowboys for their play and did not make excuses despite playing with a depleted secondary that has several injured cornerbacks.
“We didn’t pass the ball very well, we didn’t catch it very well, we didn’t protect it very well and we didn’t run it very well,” Coughlin said. “Two-hundred-sixty yards of total offense, that is not good. We only had 23 minutes total time of possession, 24 maybe. That is not good enough. Under any circumstances in anybody’s league, that is not good enough.”
Coughlin said two of the three practices leading up to the opener “quite frankly weren’t good enough.” After the loss on Wednesday night, the head coach told his team that it was served a heaping dose of “humble pie.”
“There will be a renewed conviction about preparation and about practice,” the head coach said. “We do know that we have a lot of work to do. I think the players’ eyes are open.”
Linebacker Michael Boley said players arrived at the team facility on Thursday with “a different mentality.”
“A sense of urgency is starting to set in,” Boley said. “We had some high expectations for the game and, team-wise, we didn’t achieve those goals. And so, guys coming today are really starting to refocus.”
Coughlin wants to see his team get more physical. He wants to see his offensive line create a push and his defensive front produce more. About the only thing he was pleased with was special teams.
“We take great pride in hopefully being up front,” Coughlin said. “Well up front has got to get going. Both sides.”
Coughlin’s mantra for the team this season has been to “build a bridge” from the team that won six straight games to hoist the Lombardi trophy and extend that play into this season.
“Nobody said it was easy to build a bridge,” defensive end Justin Tuck tweeted on Thursday. “#backtowork.”
3dDan Graziano and Adam Caplan