It's the first Monday of the regular season and the New York Giants are alone at 0-1 and in the basement of the NFC East. All is lost! The season is over! Pack it in! No … not really. It's only one game, folks.
In three of the four years New York has won the Super Bowl, they have started 0-1. In two of those years, the opening week loss came at the hands of a divisional opponent. All in all, the Giants are in familiar territory and are no worse off than they were a year ago at this time. As the saying goes, one game does not a season make.
Still, head coach Tom Coughlin & Co. have a lot of adjustments that need be made before they take on the surprising 1-0 Tampa Bay Buccaneers this coming Sunday at MetLife Stadium. But before all that, allow us to take a look at the week that was for Big Blue in this edition of Monday Morning Hangover.
Keith Rivers knew he should be freeing himself of Jason Witten, should be discarding the Cowboys tight end as Witten was blocking for his running back, DeMarco Murray, on a draw play.
But Rivers couldn’t do it.
“I probably should have just been able to get rid of Witten faster, I just saw [Murray] and reached out and grabbed him,’’ the new Giants linebacker said.
He grabbed him, all right. While his right arm was tangled up with Witten, Rivers reached out with his left and pile-drove Murray to the turf with the suddenness of one of those you-mean-it’s-all-fake wrestling takedowns. What made this play most significant to Rivers was which arm he used for which maneuver.
He's so outgoing and engaging, teasing reporters, talking about how he's "courting" Eli Manning like a teenage boy woos a girlfriend, and constantly smiling, it's hard to believe that he thinks he's only now coming out of his shell.
"My wife calls me all the time saying ‘You look so happy out there,' Martellus Bennett says. "This is just who I am. Sometimes you try to change who you are to fit in and do things a certain way instead of just being yourself.
"That's one thing out here, everybody is just letting me be myself."
On Thursday, one day after the Giants became the first defending champs since 1999 to lose their season opener, the coach delivered a stern message to his team: Forget looking back on last season. It’s time to focus on what’s to come.
“This is what I told our team: It's how we respond right now that's the critical factor,” Coughlin said, one day after saying his team had gotten a hearty serving of humble pie in its 24-17 loss to the Cowboys.
“Get back to work,” the coach said. “Grind a little bit. Forget about all the smoke being blown. It’s a new year. There’s new issues. Get it straightened around.”
By Nicks' count, he played 53 offensive plays in the season-opening loss to the Cowboys. The Giants played a total of 54 plays on offense, and Nicks said he only came out on the goal line.
Nicks caught four passes for 38 yards on six targets. He said he was in some pain during the game but that did not affect the play-calling, nor was his conditioning an issue. He was usually on the back-side of formations, he added, as he usually is.
"I felt it at times on certain routes but it wasn’t (anything) that prevented me from playing in the game or coming out of the game," Nicks said. "It was maintainable. It wasn’t excruciating pain or it wasn’t extremely bad. I maintained it, fought through it and finished the game."
With the players understanding what they need to correct, there was no sense of panic as their confidence is high that a week from Sunday when they return to the field of play, things will be much different.
“(The running game) is just something that takes time to develop,” Hynoski said. “ We could see on the film that we were so close. Again, I think we made good strides in the second half, and I think we’ll see a turnaround next week.”
“We’re not discouraged,” Baas added. “We have to give credit to he Cowboys, but we know how good we can be. We didn’t perform that way, which is disappointing, but you have to move on. It’s a long season, and you have to constantly get getter, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Photo Credit: Mike Gannon
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