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Tom Coughlin: Giants' effort "a pretty good starting point"

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Coach assesses his first-place team after victory over Dallas

The Giants after stopping James Hanna of Dallas on fourth down late in Sunday's game
The Giants after stopping James Hanna of Dallas on fourth down late in Sunday's game
Al Bello/Getty Images

New York Giants head coach Tom Cough reviewed his 4-3 squad Monday and said that effort is really this team's defining characteristic. Here are five takeaways from Coughlin's Monday afternoon conference call.

What are the Giants?

With the season near its mid-way point, we know the Giants are far from a perfect team. They have holes on defense. The offense hasn't been as explosive as it was expected to be. There was an awful game against the Philadelphia Eagles, and two mystifying melt downs to open the season. So, what are the 4-3 Giants? What is their identity, or what, as Coughlin was asked, can they hang their hats on?

"Play hard," the coach said. "It's not always pretty. "We have a bunch of guys who love the game, like what they're doing and play hard. That's a pretty good starting point."

Coughlin said there "improvement is they" and that "there are many things we need to do a better job of."

What's up with the run defense?

The Giants have gone from first in the league in run defense after three weeks to being 21st after seven weeks. They have given up more than 100 yards three straight weeks, including 233 on 41 carries (5.7 per attempt) Sunday against the Cowboys.

So, what has gone wrong? Pretty much everything, according to Coughlin.

Coughlin gave a thorough, long-winded answer to the question. Here it is:

"We made some mistakes in terms of our responsibilities and how we play certain aspects of the run. There were some things that Dallas did coming off of a bye week, which you knew was going to happen. They introduced a couple of different thoughts in there. By and large, they blocked us and we've got to find a way -- and they're a good offensive team, don't get me wrong -- but we've got to do a better job of holding the point, of being where we're supposed to be from a gap responsibility, of recognizing the style run that's coming. We lost leverage on the corner consistently. One of the reasons was that as much as you want to tell somebody how fast an individual is, McFadden did just run around us a few times. When he hit a couple of plays off-tackle, we were holding our breath there to try to get him down, particularly when he got started through the line of scrimmage.

"It's a number of things -- they blocked very well, we were sometimes out of position, and sometimes not maintaining our leverage and our contain responsibilities. Our tackling at times was shoddy. We didn't get away with block tackles, which you don't like to see anyway, but some of the people in the secondary were trying to implement that and it wasn't successful. There's a bunch of reasons why."

On the running back committee

Orleans Darkwa (eight carries, 48 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown run) made a pretty forceful statement on Sunday that the Giants three-man running back committe is now a four-man committee. Coughlin wouldn't really speculate on how the Giants will use Darkwa, Rasahd Jennings, Shane Vereen and Andre Williams going forward.

"We're fortunate to have four guys that can play," Coughlin said. "Four healthy guys, that's a good thing."

Jason Pierre-Paul isn't in New Jersey

Coughlin said that Pierre-Paul, expected to meet with the Giants on Tuesday, has not arrived. "We'' let you know," Coughlin said, adding that whatever happens with JPP will "start with the medical."

Damontre and the doghouse

Coughlin was asked if Damontre Moore, left inactive Sunday after a critical penalty Monday night against the Eagles, would play next week against the New Orleans Saints. Coughlin would not commit either way.

"If we can include him, we will," Coughlin said.

The coach did not speculate, but that might hinge on the severity of the hamstring injury suffered by Owamagbe Odighizuwa against Dallas.