What is the state of the New York Giants? Well, obviously not good with an 0-2 start. Head coach Tom Coughlin told us Monday what he thinks of his team, and it wasn't all pretty. Now, it's my turn. Here are this week's 'Five things I think I think' about the Giants.
As usual, my apologies to Peter King.
I think I love it when Coughlin is riled up. Coughlin was not trying to be funny at all when he held his weekly day-after-game press conference on Monday. He was trying to be a cheerleader, a ring-leader, a coach challenging his players to stop the nonsense. Coughlin said "I'm a believer" about the 0-2 Giants. He said trainers are "claiming" Odell Beckham Jr. is getting better. Receivers dropping passes? "Catch the ball, that's what you're paid for."
Finally, this quote from Coughlin:
"Our task and our goal is to toughen up. Stop beating ourselves. This is professional football. Make the plays necessary to win and do it on a consistent basis and eliminate these bizarre events which take the heart right out of you."
Coughlin is going to be gone from the Giants sideline one day soon. I know I'm going to miss him, his tirades, his flailing arms, his sometimes incomprehensible sentences, and his steadfast belief that there is always hope of getting things right. I think you many of you will miss the cantankerous coach more than you realize, as well.
I think Weston Richburg is struggling big-time. I also think Richburg is going to be a very good NFL offensive lineman. I think that right now, however, Richburg is over-matched at guard. He was drafted as a center and will probably be a very good one some time soon. From the beginning my concern about the Giants trying to use Richburg at guard is that at "only" 298 pounds the rookie from Colorado State is under-sized for that spot and would get pushed around by bigger defensive tackles.
From what I can see thus far, that has been the case in the Giants first two games.
Richburg has the worst Pro Football Focus grade of any Giants offensive player after two games, a -6.1. He has done OK in pass protection, where he has allowed just one sack and three hits/hurries while compiling a -2.1 score. His -3.4 run-blocking grade, though, is a big part of the reason the Giants are struggling to get any push up the middle.
Richburg, right now, just seems to lack the strength to get get movement in the run game. He also has those young player moments, like Sunday when he got beat for a sack and then gave up on the play, not realizing Eli anning had fumbled and the ball was loose near him. Fortunately for the Giants, the play was wiped out by an Arizona penalty.
Richburg, like Justin Pugh did a season ago, should get better as the season progresses. His lack of bulk might cause the Giants an issue in the run game, however, as long as they are forced to use him at guard.
I think the 'Giants Fan Press Conference' video below is hilarious. Admit it, Giants fans. Most of you can find a little bit of yourself somewhere in here.
I think there are things to be optimistic about. With an 0-2 record, a rash of injuries and the strong possibility this will be the third straight season and fifth time in six years the Giants miss the playoffs, doom and gloom is the order of the day in the Giants fan base. There are, however, some things to feel good about. The offense performed much better on Sunday, a first real sign of progress toward what the Giants hope their offense will eventually look like. The pass rush showed up with four sacks, and at least early in the game Jason Pierre-Paul played like a star. It isn't much consolation because the bottom line is the Giants have now lost two winnable games and you don't get those chances back, but it is something.
I think the Giants were right about Johnathan Hankins. The Giants let talented defensive tackle Linval Joseph leave via free agency in the offseason because they thought 2013 second-round draft pick Johnathan Hankins could take his place. Hankins was a force on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals with six tackles, one for loss, a sack and a hurry. He will anchor the middle of the line for years -- or at least until his rookie contract expires after the 2016 season and the Giants let him leave via free agency and replace him with another young player.