Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 09-25-15

Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.


By Dave Klein
It is probably not accurate - at any time - to use the word ebullient to describe Tom Coughlin's moods.

But the head coach of the Giants almost reached that euphoric state Friday afternoon during a conference with the media, referencing the team's first victory of the season - a 32-21 success over Washington in which they did not lose a fourth-quarter lead.

"I spent a lot of time congratulating the players after that game," he said, "but I also impressed on them, or tried to, that all the good things we did have to be kept going. We did a lot of good things, but we left some things on the field, too."

He offered praise to several players, many of them new to the lexicon of Giant fans, but in the end the subject moved to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle, who played, and to Victor Cruz, who still hasn't participated.

"When you get Victor back, can all three of them play at the same time?" he was asked.

"Yes," the coach responded quickly, "that would be the hope."

Does that mean a combination of OBJ and Cruz as split ends and Randle in the slot? Does that mean a constant rotation of all three, to the consternation and finally nervous breakdowns of opposing defense? He just smiled, indicating that when you have outstanding players they must be used, not kept on the bench.

Randle, who finally seems to have recognized the playbook, led the team with seven receptions for 116 yards while OBJ, who was followed by half the Washington defense, caught seven more for 79 yards. Each man caught a touchdown, too.

Now, as to Cruz, who was the OBJ of two years ago. He has suffered through a knee injury involving his patella tendon, and more lately a calf injury. But he is still a real and valid game-breaker and to put him on the field with OBJ and Randle might cause some sort of protest from the NFLPA.

"Cruz has shown consistent improvement," Coughlin said, as if twisting the knife in the defense of the Buffalo Bills, the next opponent (isn't that Rex Ryan's crew?). "He's going to run all weekend and we hope he can practice next week."

Coughlin spent some time lavishing praise on other aspects of the game. He was impressed with the offensive line, even without the presence of left tackle Ereck Flowers (sprained ankle) and was pleased with the job that guard Justin Pugh did filling in for him. "He was a first-round pick from Syracuse and we knew he could play guard and tackle," the coach said. "I liked what [free agent tackle] Marshall Newhouse did against an outstanding defensive end (Ryan Kerrigan], too."

More tidbits from a happy coach -- "We held the ball longer than the second-ranked team in the NFL," he said. "We held their running game down [significantly, to 88 yards] and our defensive line did very well against a good offensive line."

Those who came up for praise included George Selvie, Jonathan Hankins, Kerry Wynn and Jay Bromley, and he was almost euphoric at the continuing progress of second round pick Landon Collins, the Alabama safety. "We can see him get better each week," he said. "He communicates with his teammates [in the secondary] and each week he shows something else that indicates progress."

For those who might not have noticed, the Giants allowed Washington to take Beckham "out of the game," so to speak, and concentrated on showing that Randle can do an outstanding job. "We wanted to get him involved," he said, "and now there is another receiver on our team to think about."

Randle appeared duly appreciative of the opportunity. "It's great," he said, "when your coaches show enough confidence in you to give you that much attention."

At the moment, after giving away a pair of 10-point second-half leads, the Giants are 1-2. They travel to Buffalo next weekend (Oct. 4) and by the time this weekend is finished, with Philadelphia playing the surprising Jets and the manpower-starved Cowboys facing Atlanta, the NFC East could be too close to call.

Do you feel a 9-7 record will win it? Most people do.

Check out Dave's website at E-GIANTS where you can subscribe to his newsletters which run much more frequently than what is available here.
- Team Giants

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