Great guy, good coach, but his players quit on him. Now, it's Fassel who looks like the smart one. He's the one prepping himself to handpick a head-coaching job this offseason. And Tom Coughlin is left to unsuccessfully try to clean up the utter mess that has once again become the New York Football Giants.
Coughlin came into town blowing plenty of hot air. He all but admitted he agreed with the common perception that Fassel's players laid down like dogs during their eight-game season-ending losing streak.
So what in the world did the Giants look like Sunday? They sure looked like an overmatched, under-prepared club that we're not going to go as far as to say quit, but a club that's probably not going to see another victory this season.
Sure hope all you true blue Giants fans recorded that Halloween smashing of the Vikings; it's going to go down as the final time in 2004 that New York walked off the field victorious. After the Giants head down to Baltimore to be embarrassed in front of their former boss, they have home games against the Steelers and Cowboys sandwiching a Christmas trip to Cincinnati. So, exactly, which one of those games will the Giants win? Exactly. Probably none of them.
They blew a golden opportunity in DC to snap a losing streak, stay in playoff contention and start to be taken seriously again. Instead, they just further established themselves as a laughingstock and looked pathetic as the Redskins, who entered the game with three wins, walked all over them.
Coughlin used the word "whipped" regarding how the Redskins hammered the Giants on both lines of scrimmage. He said the blocked punt New York allowed was "inexcusable." While he said that Eli Manning will remain the starter - "Yeah. Sure. He's gotta learn." - even Coughlin has to be wondering if he pulled the plug on Kurt Warner too soon.
Privately, a lot of veterans questioned Coughlin's move and motives after he inserted Manning, and said that they thought it was a sign that he had given up on the season. Now, those same veterans are the ones that are acting and playing as if the season's already down the tubes.
Everybody said the right things after the game.
"I don't see anybody who's not trying at all," Coughlin said. "I see frustration."
"I don't believe we're laying down by any means," rookie Jamaar Taylor said. "That's not the type of team we have."
Sure looks like it might be.
Luke Petitgout, who has had his struggles this season, was asked if it's starting to remind him of 2003 around these here parts.
"I don't think so," he said. "We're going to stay upbeat."
Only Jeremy Shockey, who has really become the true barometer of the Giants locker room, called out his mates.
"The offensive side has to be tired of being the weak link," he said. "I've never been on a bad offense in my life."
Well, he is now. Manning's growing pains or not, this Giants offense gives you absolutely no reason to be optimistic.
Tiki Barber was held to a season-low 38 yards. Manning completed a dozen passes - twice as many as last week - but for only 113 yards. Ike Hilliard caught three passes for 13 yards, almost a statistical impossibility. The only reason Amani Toomer's numbers (2-59) weren't terrible again were because he caught a garbage time 48-yard bomb from Manning late in the game. Considering Derrick Ward scored New York's only TD of the afternoon on a kickoff return, the Toomer/Hilliard scoreless streak has now reached a full dozen games. Unbelievable.
There's a lot wrong with the Giants team, and give Coughlin credit, if only because he didn't blame it on injuries. "It's not an excuse in this league," he said. "Everybody has injuries."
The Giants players say they're still fighting with all they've got. Watching them play shows quite a different story. Deep down, only the players to a man know the real truth.
However, one thing's for sure as the club readies for it's final four games - it would be shocking if they win another game.
Manning struggles continue
Eli Manning did much better than his previous game, when the Eagles picked him apart. However, he still has a long way to go. We know he gets no help from a porous offensive line and slow-as-molasses receivers, but it's up to Manning to make a play here and there. At some point, his above-average instincts or golden arm has to make something out of nothing. Through three games, we're all still waiting to see it.
He did take a few vicious shots against the Skins, but that's all part of the game.
"It is frustrating," he admitted. "I want to go out there and play well. It takes a while to figure out this game. We just have to figure out a way to move the ball down the field."
Most of his teammates have done a great job of protecting their prized rookie in the press - hoping, if not knowing, that good things are down the road.
But if he doesn't pull some sort of rabbit out of his hat in the next week or so, teammates, fans and media alike are going to start to grow even more restless.
BG needs a hug
Poor Barrett Green. As if things hadn't gone bad enough for the offseason signee, he sprained his knee on a cheap shot by Skins tight end Robert Royal. Green underwent an MRI on Monday and at press time, his status was uncertain. The only thing for sure regarding Green these days is that he can't wait until around midnight on Jan. 2, when his first - and quite possibly last - season in New York mercifully comes to a close.
Cornelius Griffin is too good a person to take pleasure in the failure of his former club. However, when one considers how well Griffin has played for the league's second-ranked defense and how poorly New York's injury-decimated D-line has fared, he wouldn't be human if there wasn't a little extra satisfaction in Sunday's mauling.
Griffin, who should be headed to his first Pro Bowl, finished with four tackles against the Giants.
Summing it up
Defensive end Osi Umenyiora summed up the defense's inability to get off the field all afternoon perfectly: "It was an embarrassing situation."
Giants unlikely to win again in ‘04
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