Tom Coughlin was very blunt in his assessment of how, exactly, the Giants need to improve to break this three-game losing streak. In essence, though, he called up on the stars of the team -- not the rank-and-file guys -- to lead the way.
That's exactly what he was going to tell his leadership council when he met with them today. Basically, he was going to lay the responsibility for rejuvenating this stagnating team on their shoulders.
"Leaders are lifters," Coughlin said. "Leaders are lifters. And normally what has to happen when a team does fight their way out of a problem, your best players have to show the way. They are the ones that show the way.
"The guys that are in the role of a foot soldier, they will play and they will work their tails off. But what ultimately shows is when the guys that are recognized as your quality football players – your better football players – they have to play themselves into a position where they are showing the way."
So, who are these stars and what do they have to do? Let's make a list.
ELI MANNING: The star of stars on this team. For one thing, he's got to start showing again that he's worth that $105 million extension he received in training camp. He was well on his way the first five games, but the last three he's stunk. No more turnovers, better reads, and better throws.
ANTONIO PIERCE: You heard him in the previous entry. Since God isn't going to make him any faster than he is now, which is not very, he's got to play with more fire. When he's called on to blitz, he's got to get home. And he has to be better at stopping the run. If he does those two things, he can be forgiven for not keeping up with the tight ends and running backs that come his way. Almost.
OSI UMENYIORA: He's supposed to be a pass-rush demon, but he's only shown up for about two plays per game lately, and hasn't been visible against the run at all. Can't have Justin Tuck and his sore shoulder trying to carry the whole frontal load, so it would be nice to see this former Pro Bowl DE get after Philip Rivers in a big way.
SHAUN O'HARA: It's never one guy's fault when an offensive line collectively lets down. But the center O'Hara is the guy who's got to prod them into a better performance, especially in run-blocking where the work has been spotty at best. This is where the coaching staff can help, too, by simply committing bigtime to Brandon Jacobs and the pounding, punishing ground game these guys so love to work in.
BRANDON JACOBS: Hit the hole. Hard. Just hit it.
COREY WEBSTER: He's got to keep everybody on the same page from the left corner, since neither of the safeties are in any position to have anybody listen to them. He needs to get in C.C. Brown's ear and stay there. Big responsibility, especially since he usually has his hands full, anyway, with the opposition's No. 1 receiver. That means big-play guy Vincent Jackson this week.
JEFF FEAGLES: Okay, the punter is not a real culprit. But as the leader of the special teams, he's got to get on all the coverage guys and tell them to shape up. No sense in the offense scoring if the coverage is going to give up prime real estate on the ensuing kickoff. And perhaps he can have a word with Lawrence Tynes about the merits of hitting every field goal he tries.
Did I miss anybody? Don't be afraid to offer up your own opinions. Remember, we're talking veteran STARS here, so no fair throwing in a Domenik Hixon or a Bruce Johnson.
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