Perspective on 0-3 (replace NYG w/ Pgh, Coughlin w/ Tomlin)
Injuries on the O-line, lack of talent, SB-winning QB getting hammered, SB-winning coach w/ no more tools left in the tool box to fix things with ... it all sounds familiar.
Also an interesting discussion about the Browns trade.
ON PRO FOOTBALL
No Quick-Fix Recipe for the Giants
BOB LEVERONE / ASSOCIATED PRESS
By BILL PENNINGTON
September 23, 2013
Minutes after his team’s 38-0 thumping at the hands of the Carolina Panthers, Giants Coach Tom Coughlin had the look of a man facing a new reality.
The team is 0-3 and has been outscored by 115-54. Coughlin hails from a generation raised to believe that any daunting challenge can be overcome with hard work, determination and planning. Coaches are by necessity people who fix things. If one running back isn’t getting yardage, try another running back. If an offensive lineman can’t block, revise the blocking schemes or revise the personnel on the line.
But the Giants have tried those remedies and are backpedaling fast. The offensive line played the worst of any unit, and Coughlin was asked late Sunday afternoon if he planned to make changes to the starting five up front.
Coughlin offered a halfhearted, “We’ll see.”
Then, in a more forthright response, Coughlin said, “We are what we are.”
It was another way of saying, “You play with the ones you brought.”
In the N.F.L., that is the reality of being 0-3. You are stuck with the team you took half a year to build. It’s like making a meal with every last ingredient in the kitchen cupboard and refrigerator only to discover it’s tasteless and repugnant.
Chew on that for a while. And you can’t reach for the phone to call for takeout.
In the N.F.L., that doesn’t work because no one answers the phone. Yes, the Cleveland Browns traded their star running back, Trent Richardson, last week and won their first game Sunday, over the Minnesota Vikings, but it’s not relevant to any other situation. Check back in five weeks and see if the Browns are any better without Richardson, and besides, the Browns made that trade for a future first-round draft pick — a blatant attempt to improve their situation in two or three years, not now.
Even the team that received Richardson, the Indianapolis Colts, did not show much immediate gain from the transaction despite their 27-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Richardson ran for 35 yards on 13 carries. Interestingly, it was a Giants castoff, Ahmad Bradshaw, who made the difference in that game, with 95 rushing yards on 19 carries, an average of 5 yards a carry.
The Giants — like the Pittsburgh Steelers, another 0-3 team with a Super Bowl-winning quarterback and coach — can only look within for a way out of the mess they are in. They cooked up this rotten soup and they can try stirring the various ingredients, but there’s no magic component they can suddenly add to spice things up.
The Richardson trade was an aberration by a franchise in tumult. Coughlin and the Giants are not going to give up on the season just so they can get an extra draft pick somewhere down the road. And who would they trade anyway? And for what? An offensive lineman?
Pro football isn’t major league baseball. It’s not like acquiring a right fielder and penciling him in as the fifth batter. Playing right field for one team is not much different than playing right field for any other team. Hitting is hitting, especially if the trade is between teams in the same league. Most of all, in baseball, there is no complicated, multifaceted offense to learn and no five-inch-thick playbook to memorize before a player can reasonably be expected to contribute.
Trades are not the magic bullet for an 0-3 N.F.L. team. And except for place-kickers and punters, there aren’t a lot of qualified former players lying around at home waiting to be called so they can ride to the rescue.
About 2,000 of the best football players in the world are signed or linked to a team, which has a 53-man roster and an 8-man practice squad. Every one of those players has been assessed in some team’s training camp and been signed or discarded.
No player theoretically outside the top 2,000 players in the world would be likely to turn an 0-3 team into a winner.
So, as Coughlin said, the Giants are what they are.
With the focus on the offensive line, this is what is known. On Monday, Coughlin said what has been obvious: center David Baas and right guard Chris Snee have injuries.
It’s possible that the former starter at right tackle, David Diehl, may have recovered sufficiently from his thumb operation to play soon. One of the offensive line reserves, like James Brewer, could start. But those are hardly radical moves.
As Coughlin also said, “Your team is your team.”
So that is the reality of being 0-3 in the N.F.L. Will there be trades, benchings or wholesale play-calling changes?
Staring out from behind another news conference rostrum — and doing so for the first time as a 0-3 Giants coach — Coughlin plainly saw his immediate reality. Persistent questioning did not shake his fix on the future.
“You’re not going to put words in my mouth,” he said. “I am saying that the personnel we have here, they have to play better.”
Chew on that for a while.