New York Giants
Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel |
At the start of the 2014 season, New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin had very lofty goals for his team to achieve by its bye week.
"I was hoping we would be 7-0," he said with a straight face.
Instead, the Giants are sitting at 3-4 in third place in the NFC East. They have suffered back-to-back losses to two division rivals, the Eagles and the Cowboys, losing by a combined 58-21 in those two games.
Stats and record aside, perhaps the most unsettling thing about the Giants at this moment is that the team doesn't seem to have a clearly defined identity.
"We are probably somewhere between the kind of night we had in Washington and how we were [against Dallas]," Coughlin said when asked where his team is at the bye.
The Giants, who sandwiched in a three-game winning streak did so against Washington, Houston and Atlanta, three teams that drafted within the top five slots of the 2014 draft, and three teams that currently have losing records.
Coughlin and his staff have been spending the bye week performing some intense self-scouting of the team, trying to identify the areas that need to be prioritized moving forward, while still allowing the team to prepare for its weekly games, including a brutal four-week stretch that begins on Nov. 3 against the Colts at home.
Coughlin, for his part, is optimistic that they will find some answers and get things back on track.
"We have nine games to play. Hopefully we will be able to talk about this team being a lot better than you see it right now," he said.
It won't be easy though, as the Giants are starting to struggle with injuries to key players, some of which have left them thin at certain positions.
On offense, New York has already lost receiver Victor Cruz for the year with a knee injury. They have also been without starting running back Rashad Jennings (knee) and offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz, who has been on the temporary injured reserve list.
On defense, the picture is worse. Middle linebacker Jon Beason can't see to make it through an entire game these days thanks to an on-going toe issue. Star cornerback Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie is nursing a hamstring issue, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins will miss a couple of weeks with a strained calf muscle.
Slot cornerbacks, Walter Thurmond (pectoral) and Trumaine McBride (thumb), have been lost to season-ending injuries.
"You have to maneuver some of the talent around, but I think the talent is there," Coughlin said.
"We have to get the best out of them every time we line up. There isn't any doubt about that. You can't make up for the loss of the players we have, but every team has those issues."
Every team might have injury issues, but at the end of the day, the Giants have yet to show they can stand up to the higher echelon of competition, which is why the upcoming four-game run against the Colts, Seahawks, 49ers and Cowboys could very well be the defining stretch of the Giants' 2014 season.