If Steve Smith and Eli Manning had one thing in common as they set off for parts unknown, it was that the Giants need an adjusted attitude if they're to rebound from this hugely disappointing 8-8 season.
"We’ve just got to realize that’s not us," Manning said, referring specifically to the final two games in which they were outscored 85-16. "That can’t be us. We can’t let ourselves think that is the way we play football.
"We know we can perform better. You’ve got to forget about it and erase that from your memory. This whole season, there are a lot of things we can learn and a lot of things we need to improve on. We have to do those things so you don’t forget about those things where you need to make improvement. We also made strides in some areas and you’ve got to think about some of the good things we did. We just have to have a great offseason.
"When it comes to March, April, start on the basics with these guys and make sure by the time spring hits we are kind of back where we need to be and we are making strides to get forward and not just getting back to where we were this year."
That means getting the old confidence of the previous two seasons back. Real confidence. Not the kind the Giants showed during the practice week, when nearly each and every man had an uncanny knack for saying the right thing, only to do the completely wrong thing on Sunday.
A lot of that lies on the defensive side of the ball, but some of that shifted over to the offense, too. Remember, Manning did have his low moments in this, his statistically best, season, as did the running backs and offensive line. You can throw playcaller Kevin Gilbride in there, too.
To Smith, the Giants' first 100-catch receiver, part of the necessary changes involves the realization that they're only as good as the scoreboard says.
"I think we just went out there and didn’t play tough enough,” Smith said. "We just weren’t motivated some games, it seemed like. We had great weeks of practice, but didn’t show it on game day. We need an attitude adjustment.
"Maybe we got too high on ourselves and guys thought we were better than we were. In this league you’ve got to come ready to play each week. We’re embarrassed and we don’t want to feel that feeling anymore."
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