Monday, October 3, 2011
Giants have issues, despite win streak
By Ohm Youngmisuk ESPNNewYork.com
Tom Coughlin doesn't use the word "fun" much, but he admitted that he enjoyed watching the final minutes of the New York Giants' improbable comeback against the Arizona Cardinals again on film.
"It was as much fun watching the end of the game on tape today as it was last night," the Giants coach said Monday.
Coughlin may have enjoyed every second of the final five minutes of the Giants' 31-27 victory, in which they erased a 10-point deficit. But he probably did not enjoy watching the previous footage of Beanie Wells running all over his defense.
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Even though the Giants are riding high on a three-game winning streak, and feeling the euphoria of winning in Philadelphia and then stunning the Cardinals in Arizona in dramatic fashion in consecutive weeks, Coughlin is concerned about his team's run defense.
Wells rushed for 138 yards and three touchdowns against the Giants, one week after LeSean McCoy gained 128 yards and one touchdown against them.
So far this season, the Giants are allowing 116.5 yards per game on the ground. The Eagles and Cardinals rushed for a total of 177 and 156 against them, respectively.
"The fact of the matter is that has to stop," Coughlin said during a conference call with reporters. "We talked about that this morning. We talked about it last night. We've got to shore this thing up and deny that part of the game. We're going to have to take some extraordinary means to try to solve that issue."
Because of season-ending injuries to cornerback Terrell Thomas and middle linebacker Jonathan Goff, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has largely played two linebackers and three safeties to put his best personnel on the field and guard against the pass.
Wells exposed the right side of the Giants' defense, running toward that side on all three of his short-yardage touchdowns.
"I am very concerned about it," said linebacker Michael Boley, who has taken on a leadership role by relaying the defensive calls to the huddle in Goff's absence. "It's details ... just not being in the right position to make the play and having all 11 guys thinking the same thing. We gave up some chunks in the run game and for us that is not ordinary. We normally do a pretty good job against the run and we just haven't done so the last couple weeks."
Another thing the Giants aren't doing is establishing their own running game. Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs combined for a total of 57 yards on 21 carries on Sunday. Both running backs did score a touchdown, but the running game has yet to really take off.
So far, Bradshaw -- who also lost a fumble on the first drive against the Cardinals -- is averaging 57 yards rushing per game and has yet to come close to the 100-yard mark. Jacobs has 19 and 18 yards rushing in his last two games, on a total of 16 carries. Coughlin and general manager Jerry Reese had said during the offseason that they wanted to see Jacobs get more carries this year.
Ahmad Bradshaw has not had a particularly good start to the season for the Giants.
Coughlin wants better results from his offensive line, which features new center David Baas and new left tackle Will Beatty. Even though Baas left with a burner injury in the second half, Coughlin said that had little to do with the Giants' inability to run against the Cardinals.
"We didn't block them very well," Coughlin said. "We did not secure. We didn't create. We did at the start of the second half. We made some pretty good plays and then we ended up calling them back by penalties. We didn't block them as well as we're capable of doing. They were good up front and we didn't handle it as well as we should have."
Nevertheless, the Giants have won three straight and return home to start a three-game homestand against Seattle, Buffalo and Miami, with a bye week in between the Bills and Dolphins games.
The Giants have to take advantage of this portion of their schedule before they face the likes of New England, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Green Bay, Dallas and the New York Jets in the second half of the season. Establishing the run and stopping the run likely will be a major emphasis this week.
"Do we have to improve and continue to get better and get more out of a lot of people who need to grow and expand and develop?" Coughlin asked. "Yes."
And that means any fun Coughlin experienced watching the final minutes of Sunday's win was short-lived as he and his coaching staff went back to work.