Friday, December 4, 2009

We'll See

It's Tom Coughlin's favorite fallback when he wants to be vague about a situation, whether positively or negatively. So when he responded "We'll see" to a question regarding Osi Umenyiora's starting status, one can only assume the former Pro Bowler is outskie, for now.

Not a huge stretch there. Umenyiora worked with the second unit today, with Mathias Kiwanuka going with the ones. But will it be stay like that come Sunday?

"We’ll have to see on that," Coughlin said. "We will play everybody. We will get everybody involved. We are trying to do the best we can in maneuvering our personnel according to our team. We preach team defense. So we are going to try to get other guys involved as much as we can and see if we can’t solve some issues."

The ever weakening run defense would be the issue he's addressing right there. But even moreso might be Umenyiora's physical shape. It generally takes a long time to come back from the kind of knee surgery that cost him the 2008 season and, judging by his play this year, he hasn't succeeded fully. Playing the run was never his forte, but Umenyiora has been utterly manhandled this year. As a result, he hasn't been much of a pass rush force, either.

But Coughlin would not use that as an excuse, mainly because Umenyiora has long maintained his knee is no longer an issue.

"I think Osi would tell you 'no' if in fact he is having any problems," Coughlin said. "But if you have been in the game you know that a majority of the time that becomes an issue and can, in fact, be something that the player has to fight he way through – although he never complains about it.

"He would never say that. And I wouldn’t either."

But Coughlin said he could point to others who have had lingering issues as other seasons have progressed. From what we've seen, Umenyiora certainly appears to fall into that category.

One way or another, Coughlin said he needs to find a solution to the problems against the run.

"Run defense has been an issue and we have talked about that from day one. But it is not any one individual, now. It is not one individual. So don’t start to go that way. That is not the case.

"It is team. It is team defense. It is any number of things – from the front to the linebackers to the force players which were not evident in a lot of cases last week. So there are some things that have to be solved there."

There were also some rumblings about LB Brian Kehl going in on the nickel, which would make a lot of sense since he's one of the few linebackers who are healthy and have speed enough to cover Jason Witten on passing downs. That assignment would normally fall to Michael Boley, but it was apparent last week that his coverage ability has eroded in his comeback from a knee scope.

I'll throw this out there, too. I wouldn't be surprised to see second-round LB Clint Sintim get a shot at covering Witten, too, in place of Danny Clark.

At this point, if anybody can run, be physical, and absorb a gameplan, he's Coughlin's man. If this fails, the coach will be taking applications for the Philly game starting Monday.


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