This week's "Big Blue Chat" podcast with Pat Traina (Bleacher Report/Inside Football) discussed the state of the reeling New York Giants and ended up focusing largely on an interesting topic -- do the Giants have enough leadership in the locker room?
Which players does this Giants team really follow? Name one who truly stands up and holds players accountable, or to whom players know they have to answer if their effort -- in practice or games -- doesn't measure up.
On offense Eli Manning, for all his accomplishments, has never been that guy. Victor Cruz might have developed into that guy. Odell Beckham Jr., might be that guy, but as good as he is he is a second-year player who has never won a title at any level. Justin Pugh? Weston Richburg? Ereck Flowers? Please.
On defense, Jason Pierre-Paul has made it clear he wants to worry about himself and not about leading his teammates, saying "if they follow, they follow." Prince Amukamara isn't that guy. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie? You can't lead when you rarely speak, or join the huddle. Devon Kennard? Maybe someday, if he can manage to stay on the field. Jon Beason could have been the guy, if his body wasn't broken.
Head coach Tom Coughlin clamored recently for players to "extend themselves," to give more time and show more commitment to their livelihoods. Thing is, he shouldn't have to. I don't blame players for wanting to have lives outside of the game, for wanting to do autograph shows or make sure they are home to put their kids to bed. If, however, there are players not giving their best at practice, in the film room or on the field on game day there has to be someone in the room to hold them accountable.
The guys who used to do that -- guys like Chris Snee, David Diehl, Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, Chris Canty, Justin Tuck and Antrel Rolle -- have retired or been shoved out the door. Perhaps their skills have been replaced by younger, less expensive players. The pedigree and presence they brought, the respect they commanded from their peers, and their willingness to say things that needed to be said, has not.
That is part of the reason why the Giants might be headed to a third straight losing season.
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