These Giants Simply not Super

Tom Coughlin likes to say that the season is a marathon, not a sprint. Thank goodness for that. If it were a marathon, the Giants would have dropped out at the five-mile mark. That or they would have been disqualified for committing too many penalties, probably false starts.

Coaches and players will continue to remind us that a ton of season remains. This is one fact we can't dispute.

But some of us have seen enough from the Giants to make one determination:

This is not a Super Bowl team.

The Giants have the look of an 8-8 team. Maybe they will find a way to win nine games, maybe 10 if things break perfectly for them. They are at best a playoff team, at worst a five- or six-win team.

They are not a Super Bowl team.

Some of us said this before the season and some of us have drawn the conclusion after witnessing the team's first three games. The Giants, in many ways, aren't even as good as the Jets.

How dare I draw this conclusion after three games, you ask? So much can happen in 13 games. You are right about that. A lot can happen in 13 games.

The Giants can get worse.

The problem is that the Giants have holes that can't be fixed during the season. They have defensive backs that can't cover anyone. They have interior linemen that don't make plays. They have one really good linebacker, Antonio Pierce, and others that are good on different days.

They commit too many penalties. They have an uncanny knack for making big mistakes in big spots – an interception, a fumble, a dropped pass.

And don't forget injuries. They always have key players hurt. Jeremy Shockey has been bothered by an ankle injury. When did Shockey last play at 100 percent? LaVar Arrington has a knee problem. Carlos Emmons is going to miss some time with a pectoral injury.

So which problems are correctable and which are not correctable? The penalties, you would think, are correctable. But at some point these mistakes slide from correctable to habitual. The Giants committed too many penalties last season. They are committing too many penalties this season. When does it get corrected? When does it turn from aberration to habit?

Defensive coordinator Tim Lewis is working triple time to fix the mistakes on defense. But Lewis can't do anything about Sam Madison constantly losing his man. Lewis can't turn back the clock three years, when Madison was one of the very finest cover men in the league.

Lewis can't make defenders read plays correctly or remain disciplined. He can't make his brilliant defensive ends put pressure on quarterbacks when quarterbacks run quick-drop schemes to keep Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora out of the backfield.

The buzzword around the Giants defense is communication, as in, they aren't communicating enough or the coaches aren't communicating their message well enough to the players. It's a way to cover for a defense that isn't very good.

There is more to it than communication problems. Receivers are open so easily and often that it looks like the Giants are playing with 10 men. Corey Webster has been the team's best cover man by a mile. But even Webster has trouble picking up the ball in the air. Even Webster makes mistakes out of inexperience.

A lack of communication? The only real lack of communication is between assistant coaches and the media, assistants only available for questions once a season.

How about a lack of personnel?

The easy target is to blame Coughlin and his staff. Make no mistake; they haven't done enough to stop the bleeding. How could the Giants look so disheveled against Seattle's four-receiver sets? Why hasn't Arrington been a bigger factor? Is it his knee or Lewis' schemes that have kept Arrington from making a presence?

There are too many questions concerning this team. Too many uncertainties. Too many mysteries.

Many folks are wondering if Coughlin has "lost'' the team. If he has, then that's the team's fault. Any kind of protest would suggest panic and a lack of discipline down the line. This isn't about Coughlin losing the team. It's about the team proving that it's not lost.

The word used by Tiki Barber following the playoff debacle against Carolina keeps returning: outcoached. Barber is the ultimate team guy. He is smart. He is analytical. He wouldn't have said it if he didn't believe it. Barber was right: The Giants were outcoached. But Barber didn't just make a statement. He sent a message to the coaching staff. It's as if Barber were tired of the team always taking the hit from Coughlin when things went wrong.

Now Shockey comes along and says the same thing after the butt-whipping in Seattle. Normally you can chalk up Shockey's rants as an unflattering personality trait. But when it comes three games after Barber popping off, you have the makings for a trend.

Coughlin has won a lot of games in his career. He won 11 games with the Giants last season. But there is a limit to how many games he can win with this team. People only talk about players having chemistry. Players and coaches must have chemistry as well.

Coughlin's shortcomings shouldn't mask the main problem: The Giants have personnel issues. They simply aren't good enough to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Coughlin and his assistants can make all the changes they want. But they can't go out and get a top cover cornerback. They can't prevent guys from getting hurt.

They have limited control over what kind of character their team possesses. The best teams blame themselves, not the coach. The best teams respond to adversity with pride and determination and anger and cohesion. The Giants still must prove they have the proper makeup to separate themselves from the long list of NFL pretenders.

Yes, the season is a marathon. But you can't change the marathoners in mid-race, not in the NFL.

There will be games when the Giants show they can beat anybody. But there will be games when the Giants show they can lose to anybody. That is not a Super Bowl team.

The Giants Beat Top Stories