Coughlin calls out offensive line

Tom Coughlin hit the Giants’ offensive line with a pretty damning indictment on Thursday when he said they weren’t physical enough against the Packers.

You can call an offensive lineman slow, say he’s out of shape or question his intelligence.

But saying he didn’t match the physical intensity of his opponent is about as insulting as it gets.

“Just be more physical,” was Coughlin’s message to an offensive line that hasn’t produced a 100-yard rusher in two weeks.

“That’s what we need to be. That is supposedly what we are. And for whatever reason it wasn’t that way (against Green Bay),” the coach said. “For us to play the way we are built and the way we are capable of playing, we have to win the line of scrimmage.”

The Giants’ offensive line may be without starting center Shaun O’Hara on Sunday in a must-win game against Washington. O’Hara sat out of practice for the second straight day on Thursday with left ankle and Achillies injuries. If O’Hara can’t suit up on Sunday, look for Rich Seubert to shift over to center. David Diehl says he has been practicing at left guard this week. If he starts there on Sunday, Shawn Andrews could play left tackle.

No matter who is under center, Coughlin made it clear that the Giants need to win the war at the line of scrimmage against Washington, a war they lost decisively last Sunday at Lambeau Field.

“I see us getting knocked back,” Coughlin said of a Giants line that allowed five sacks last Sunday. “You have to penetrate, you have to drive people back off the ball…. You have got to feel like you are in control of the line of scrimmage."

The Giants’ recent struggles on the ground have fueled speculation that they're better off without O’Hara. But the stats say otherwise.

The Giants have averaged 151.7 rushing yards in the six games Seubert started at center, including Week 11 against Washington when they ran for 161 yards. With O’Hara at center, the Giants are averaging 159 yards on the ground. On the season, they are rushing for 141 yards per game, the fifth-highest total in the league.

The Giants will need to mirror those numbers on Sunday, especially if wideout Hakeem Nicks is sidelined with a broken toe. They need a win against the Redskins and a Green Bay loss to earn a playoff berth.

“We need to be able to count on being able to make some yards on the ground,” Coughlin said.

Manning echoed those sentiments earlier this week while noting that the lack of a ground game against Green Bay (90 yards) forced the Giants into many third-and-long situations.

Seven times, the Giants faced a 3rd-and-7 or longer against the Packers. Not surprisingly, they converted first downs on just four of 12 third-down attempts in the 45-17 route.

“We’ve got to stay out of bad situations (on third down),” Manning said.

That starts with the five guys up front opening up holes, something that didn’t happen last Sunday.

“(The Packers) played a better football game than us,” Diehl said. “This is a new week, and we get a chance to do something about it. Last week was last week but this is a time where you have to throw all that stuff out. You have to throw it out and make sure you come Sunday prepared to play.”