Rolle Loves Coughlin Now

A year ago, Rolle criticized Tom Coughlin as being uptight and too strict. Now he's changed his tune. Amazing what a playoff berth can do for a guy's demeanor.

A year ago, Antrel Rolle yapped about Tom Coughlin's ways.

He didn't like his travel itinerary. He didn't like Coughlin's disciplined nature. He wasn't real kean on his coach's less-than-colorful personality.

Despite becoming one of the highest-paid safeties in the league, Rolle questioned whether joining the Giants was a mistake. He would have preferred to play under a cooler guy, like Rex Ryan.

Now, we're not saying it's strictly because the fourth-seeded Giants are headed into a 1 p.m. wildcard matchup with an eminently beatable, fifth-seeded Atlanta Falcons squad on Sundya. But Rolle has entirely changed his tune from a year ago.

Everything's hunky-dory with the coach. Doubts about playing for him? All in the past.

"Yeah, I'd be lying if I said I didn't think that," Rolle said when asked if he thought he made a mistake signing with the Giants. "When it's all said and done, as a guy, I've always liked him as a guy. He's probably one of the better men I've ever been around. It's just that his coaching style is different than anything I've ever been a part of, which is fine."

Rolle, who has played a number of positions including safety and nickel cornerback in charge of playing the slot receiver, said he bought into Coughlin's program this year after a season of resistance.

"Eventually you're going to get with his program," Rolle said. "He's the boss man and we're his soldiers, so you have to get with his program, and it works. Obviously I was little stubborn at the time, but we're all on deck. That's coaches and players included."

Coughlin sounded understanding of his initial reluctance to follow his leader last year.

"I would think that it takes a while for someone coming into a program just to figure out what it's all about, who's who," Coughlin said. "Last year we had 10 wins, didn't get in [to the playoffs]. So there was some frustration. There's been some frustration that has been dealt with pretty well this year as well.

"Now we're seeing the result of having some patience and continuing to work, which these guys have done. This team has done that. They've worked through many issues throughout the course of the year and come back stronger yet."

Rolle called himself "not an easy cookie all the time," never stopped his chatter on the radio and often said some outlandish things. But he said he never wavered from Coughlin's philosophies this year, even as his ever-changing role affected his effectiveness.

A talk before the Jets game with fellow safety Deon Grant smoothed that out, though, and Rolle responded with a big interception in Sunday's commanding, 31-14 win over Dallas that clinched the NFC East championship.

"Deon sat me down and we had a long conversation and he was like, 'Bro, I understand what you're trying to do and I appreciate what you're trying to do, but be you. Let your play do the talking for you. That's who you are, that's who we know you as.'

"Honestly I think that's the best advice I could have ever received from any player, and I told him (Sunday) that I felt like I was myself (against Dallas) and against the Jets. And I told him, 'Man, I owe you.'"

Now he can see himself playing for Coughlin forever.

"Hopefully he can be here for my whole time here," Rolle said. "And if not, we're going to send him out with a bang."

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