It didn't take an expert to see that the New York Giants' first-unit defense struggled to stop the run Saturday night during an 18-13 preseason victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The expert who matters most -- Giants' head coach Tom Coughlin -- was not happy with the run defense. That, of course, is a major issue since improving against the run has been a huge objective for the Giants since the end of last season.
"Our first defense had what we call two wins and seven losses against Pittsburgh’s running game and that’s a big objective for us coming in and we’ve got to shore that up and be able to stop the opponent’s run," Coughlin said during a Sunday conference call.
Coughlin was asked to go more in-depth on what he thought the issues were with the run defense.
"Right off the bat, we were reached. They came out running the outside zone play and we did get in a position where we were reached. We didn't get off the blocks and didn't get to a point where we could reject the front and the ball carriers were able to slash and make yardage and a couple of times cut the ball back," Coughlin said. "I think we'll do a better job once we get a look at this tape and understand our gap responsibilities, but this is going to continue to be an objective for us."
The play of the linebackers is a major concern, and here is what Coughlin had to say about that group on Sunday:
"We’re analyzing the linebacker play the entire preseason so that we can get the right people on the field in the right spots," the coach said. "I think there were flashes. I really do. I think there was flashes and I don’t know if it’s any one particular individual that made enough plays or a whole lot of plays for me to say that, but we were steady. We didn’t give up a touchdown, so somebody was doing a good job in there."
Here are a few more nuggets from Coughlin's conference call.
On the fumble by running back Andre Brown:
"It concerns me. Naturally it concerns me and it concerns Andre too because it was careless. I don't care how much and how long you've played the game. There are certain things that have to happen before you run the ball. You've got to look the ball in. If it's going to be a toss or a pitch or a pass or whatever... first, you've got to catch the darn thing and put it away and cover it up before you can go on to the next objective. ... that idea of looking the ball in, I don't know how that escaped last night."
On playing time for rookie quarterback Ryan Nassib as the preseason moves forward:
"He needs to keep getting his feet wet just like anybody else does. It’s a brand new experience and we’ll keep that in mind as we set the order and the number of snaps as they are to be divided up for the next game."