New York Giants
Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel |
It's only the preseason and the games don't count toward anything. Still, one of the objectives of all teams is to show marked improvement as the days on the calendar inch closer to the regular-season opener.
For the New York Giants, they have had more than their fair share of instances where they have taken a step forward followed by two steps back. In particular, their new defensive scheme, orchestrated by coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, has seen far more valleys than peaks.
The Giants, currently ranked 15th in the league after allowing opponents an average of 324.3 yards per game, have struggled to maintain any kind of consistency.
In their most recent game, against the Jets, the Giants starting defense not only spotted their stadium neighbors 21 first-half points, the Giants simply couldn't stop the Jets' first-team offense.
Gang Green exploited the Giants' soft run defense on the edges to the tune of 136 yards on 30 carries, including 35 yards on five carries by Chris Ivory on the Jets' first scoring drive of the game.
"I think we all have a ways to go," head coach Tom Coughlin said. "I had the feeling they were running the ball and running it with consistency, and they did a good job of that.
"We didn't make as many stops as we wanted to make, and so from that standpoint, we have work to do," he added. "There weren't a lot of points scored, but there was some run yardage out there that you think you could stop."
"I felt like we kept beating ourselves with leverages; when you have to stay inside, stay inside; when you have outside contain for the run, you stay outside, and we just hurt ourselves," cornerback Prince Amukamara added.
The defensive performance also included some communication breakdowns and missed assignments, some of which were back-breakers.
One such example came on a second-quarter 24-yard touchdown catch by Jets running back Zac Stacy. On the play, a screen pass, three Giants defenders linebackers Jameel McClain and Devon Kennard, and safety Jeromy Miles all went to cover the tight end, which left Stacy wide open to run to daylight.
Run to daylight he did, as safety Brandon Meriweather made a feeble attempt to cut Stacy at the ankles, the running back simply stepping over the safety's lame tackle attempt.
"Yeah, it was a mistake," Coughlin said. "Whoever was supposed to be responsible was not there. There was no coverage on the screen."
All new systems take time to jell, but when a unit has had as many injuries necessitating the shuffling of different guys into the lineup, Coughlin admitted that any chance of building continuity to where a team can add to the foundation previously established the week before becomes a challenge.
"Well you don't have a lot of continuity when you have a lot of people missing and you have to change, and you have to create it and it takes a little bit of time to do that," Coughlin said. "Now there's no excuse; we've been practicing long enough but there's no question that when you're constantly changing parts, it's not quite as smooth as you'd like to be."
The hope for Coughlin and the defense, then, is for the players who do have to miss time to be able to reach back into their memory to where if something comes up that they saw before, they can reach back and recreate the scenario, even though they haven't physically practiced it.
"Our game is a game of continuously building on the previous week," Coughlin said. "Over the long haul, you have to build and build and build and allow that what someone experienced two weeks ago if it comes back in a game, and perhaps it's something new that you can reach back into your memory bank to understand why those things take place."
With little choice but to keep on plugging away while they wait for injured players such as middle linebacker Jon Beason, defensive ends Robert Ayers and George Selvie, and others to return to action, about all the Giants can do is hope for the best.
"You know it's preseason and we continue to build, continue to work on what we need to work on and be on the same page as a defense," said safety Landon Collins, who missed practice and game time with a knee injury before returning this past week. "All we can do as a whole and make sure we go on and dominate the next team we play."