There were mixed emotions as to the wisdom of coach Tom Coughlin's decision to keep star wide receiver Plaxico Burress out of the first quarter because he was minutes late for two meetings last week.
"When you go out onto the field to start a game," said tight end
Jeremy Shockey, "you want to have all your weapons with you. When you're
trying to win, you'd like to have your best chances to win, you know?"
Then a stricken look suddenly appeared on his face and he quickly
added: "But that happened already. It's over. I don't want to talk about
it any more."
Burress was kept from starting and didn't play a down in the first
quarter, and many have questioned the ultra-rigid stance Coughlin
installed when he took over a year ago. In the opening series of the
game, for instance, the Giants had to "settle" for a field goal from the
San Diego 5-yard line when the coach opted not to try for the touchdown
or at least a first down on fourth-and-1.
Had Burress been in the game, he might have been sent to the back
corner of the end zone and the pass from Eli Manning might have been a
cloud-scraper, allowing Burress to leap for it over one of the short
"We had to come away with points," said Coughlin. "When you go all
the way across the country and get that close, it is discouraging not to
come away with any points at all."
The truth is that to many of the players the ultra-conservative call
was equally discouraging. One veteran with tons of years in his resume
just shook his head.
"I have always though that a hard-line policy like that can often be
a double-edged sword," he said. "He (Coughlin) couldn't do anything else
once he established that rule, but there could have been other ways to
deal with the issue."
In any case, the game was lost. The defense was abysmal and there
were more tackles and assignments missed than in the first two games
Equally puzzling was Coughlin's sudden aversion to using the 6-4,
260-pound running back, rookie Brandon Jacobs. "If you are having
trouble running the ball," said another veteran, "then why not try to
blast your way through?"
Jacobs got exactly one carry - on third-and-1 from the Chargers'
5-yard line the play before the opening series field goal - and he
failed to get it. Could that be why he didn't play again except on
37th meeting. The Rams lead this series 25-11. It is
a series that has been maintained through the Rams' three home cities -
Cleveland, Los Angeles and St. Louis. Perhaps the most memorable meeting
took place in the divisional playoffs of 1989, when in overtime Rams WR
Flipper Anderson caught the winning TD pass and just kept running
downfield, through the end zone and into the tunnel to the locker rooms,
waving at the fans in Giants Stadium.
--Coach Tom Coughlin made a couple of on-the-spot changes Sunday
night, including the bench of SLB Reggie Torbor for Nick Greisen. But it
wasn't just that. Greisen moved to the weak side, forcing the switch
back to the strong side by veteran Carlos Emmons. "It felt good to get
on the field," said Greisen. "I don't know if that's my future (to start
at weak side). That's out of my hands. But you are always competing for
a job, that's what you do on a pro football team, you compete."
--Greisen came to the Giants as a MLB and was the backup there until
moving to the weak side last season, when he filled in for the injured
Barrett Green. It is possible that he will keep the job, at least
temporarily, as Torbor might have proven himself to be somewhat green as
a starter. He is only in his second season.
--Asked whether he planned other lineup changes on the defensive
unit, Coughlin responded: with one of the usual quotes from the Coach's
Handbook: "I am not going to announce anything at this point."
--QB Eli Manning was far less critical of the decision to keep WR
Plaxico Burress off the field in the first quarter for punitive reasons.
"We have got to clean up our behavior off the field, too," he said. "All
of this is the coach's decision. It isn't up to any of the players to
--Manning, despite the heat generated by thousands of fans who will
not forgive him for refusing to play for San Diego when drafted last
year, turned in his finest game to date, completing 24 of 41 passes for
352 yards and two TDs. "It doesn't matter, we didn't win the game," he
--The rumored move Coughlin was said to be contemplating, the
benching of LCB Will Allen for rookie Corey Webster, didn't happen last
week because Webster was sidelined with a strained quad muscle. So will
it happen this week? "Corey will practice and we'll see how much he can
do," said Coughlin, who once again, however, refused to say anything
definitive about the rumor.
--During the telecast on ESPN last Sunday night, you probably saw
broadcaster Joe Theismann interviewing Giants' defensive coordinator Tim Lewis on the air. The assistants aren't allowed to speak to the media,
but apparently it's all right during a game. "You'd think he wouldn't
have wanted to talk," said one defensive guy, "considering how badly we
were making him look, you know?"
BY THE NUMBERS: For a team with a 2-1 record and the most points in
the league, try this number - 31 - and see if it makes any sense. That's
where the Giants rank in total defense in the NFL, 31st.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It wouldn't have been a bad idea to burn the film." -
Giants coach Tom Coughlin, referring to the evidence of the team's 45-23
loss to San Diego.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Rams, this week's Giants' opponent, use a 4-3 defensive front,
and that should be a relief to the offense. Last week it was the San
Diego 3-4 and there was precious little rushing production all night.
The Giants gained only 73 yards rushing (not counting 13 by QB Eli
Manning), not a compatible companion with the 352 yards Manning amassed
in the air.
"If you can't run the ball," said one of the offensive tackles, "then
you should try to use the short sideline passes. That can be just as
effective as a run, and there is almost no danger when you throw those."
This week there might be some lineup changes defensively, although
head coach Tom Coughlin will not make any such announcement. But if he
does make changes, look for the benching of LCB Will Allen (for rookie
Corey Webster), SLB Reggie Torbor (for Nick Greisen) and possibly SS
Gibril Wilson (for Shaun Williams). PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES
--WLB Barrett Green, who hasn't played yet this season, may get "a
few snaps," according to coach Tom Coughlin, if he practices well and
without morning-after soreness. Green had surgery to repair both knee
and ankle injuries during the off-season and subsequently lost his
starting job to Carlos Emmons, who moved over from SLB.
--QB Eli Manning, according to Coughlin, played "an outstanding game"
Sunday night in San Diego. "He stood up to incredible pressure and he
gave the team a great feeling of confidence," he said. "His game was
--TE Jeremy Shockey caught six passes for 102 yards against the
Chargers, giving him 13 for 194 on the season. "I don't deal with
statistics and numbers any more," said the frequently loose cannon. "I
only care about winning."
--RB Tiki Barber, who gained 1,518 yards last season, is well below
that average through three games. He has gained 205 yards (in 50
carries), still a respectable 4.1 per carry average, but the total
represents less than 65 yards per game. He has also caught only four
passes (for 71 yards) through three games and last season had 52 (for
--After three games, the Giants have five interceptions, but no one
has more than one. Moreover, there were no picks vs. the Chargers.
GAME PLAN: The Giants won their first two games by using an announced
plan to stop the other team's running game, and it was certainly tried
last Sunday night in San Diego. The futility of the effort, however,
resulted in 192 yards and three TDs by Chargers' RB LaDainian Tomlinson
- "arguably the best running back in the league," according to Coughlin.
So the formula will be back in effect Sunday vs. the Rams, to stop
their duo of Steven Jackson and Marshall Faulk -- and allow the
hot-handed QB Marc Bulger to beat them? Not likely. Bulger has completed
73 of 113 passes for 870 yards and six TDs, including a whopping 23 for
358 yards and a pair of TDs to WR Torry Holt. "Somewhere in between
stopping the run and the pass," says Coughlin, "means we would like to
keep the ball a longer time and not let that offense get onto the
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
--Giants TE Jeremy Shockey will get to see just how tough St. Louis
SS Adam Archuleta really is. He has caught passes against most defenses,
but few have as physical a SS as the 6-1, 225-pound Archuleta.
--Giants RT Kareem McKenzie, a 335-pound road grader, will get to
play against the quicker St. Louis LDE Leonard Little, a known sack
artist (who doesn't have one yet this season, by the way). But backup
RDE Brandon Green has four sacks and on sure-pass situations he'll get
to find out just how well Giants' OLT Luke Petitgout can fight him off.
--Giants QB Eli Manning vs. the middle of the Rams' defense, notably
RDT Jimmy Kennedy, LDT Ryan Pickett and MLB Chris Claiborne. He wants to
establish a passing game with TE Jeremy Shockey, both to complete those
passes down the middle of the field but to free up WR Plaxico Burress as
well. St. Louis CBs DeJuan Groce and Travis Fisher, each 5-10, will have
a shot at defending the 6-5 Burress.
INJURY IMPACT: RCB Will Peterson (back) did not practice Wednesday
and is listed as questionable. So, too, is CB Corey Webster (quad),
perhaps the replacement at LCB for Will Allen. PR-RB Chad Morton
(hamstring) is also questionable. WLB Barrett Green (knee, ankle) is
questionable and hasn't played yet this season.
Inside Slant, Battles, Quotes, Injuries, Personnel
The Giants Beat Top Stories
Giants offense shaky despite win over RamsEli Manning and company didn't exactly set on the world on fire over London.
The Giants BeatSunday at 5:00 PM
Game Balls and Goats: Giants 17 Rams 10 FinalThe Giants Beat recaps the big winners and losers from a tight battle at Twickenham Stadium.
The Giants BeatSunday at 4:52 PM
Fantasy Slant Week 7: Giants 17 Rams 10The Giants Beat covers the outstanding fantasy performers from a sloppy game overseas.
The Giants BeatSunday at 4:39 PM
Watch: Landon Collins Insane Pick SixCollins looked more like a RB than a safety on that INT.
ScoutSunday at 7:33 AM
Start em, Sit em: Giants vs .RamsFind out who Fantasy owners should play and who they should sit as the Giants make the trek across the pond to play Los Angeles.
The Giants BeatSaturday at 7:45 AM