Giants self-destruct with lack of discipline

Posted Sept. 27, 2010 @ 12:13 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

The numbers from the Giants’ 29-10 loss to the Titans were ugly: two missed field goals, a safety that wiped out a huge pass play and 11 penalties, five of them personal fouls. It came a week after Brandon Jacobs was fined $10,000 for tossing his helmet into the stands against the Colts and FS Antrel Rolle questioned the team’s coaching and game plan in Week Two. The Giants must turn things around quickly with the Bears coming to town on Sunday and a Week Five matchup against the Texans.

The PFW spin

Head coach Tom Coughlin praised his team’s preparation leading up to Week Three, saying, “The way in which we approached the game is exactly the way I would want it approached. And then we beat ourselves. So the oldest axiom in football is the first thing you have to do is keep from beating yourself before you can beat the opponent — and we didn’t do that.”

The Giants’ 11 penalties were their highest total since they had 13 in the 2009 season finale at Minnesota. And they had a turnover on each of their first two possessions, the first time they’ve lost the ball that early twice in a game since 2004. There was very little to like about the team’s focus and consistency.

It was reminiscent of the kind of ball the Giants played late last season when things imploded after a 6-2 start. Coughlin came under fire when co-owner John Mara called out his team’s lack of discipline, but Coughlin kept his job.

Now Coughlin must end this trend of poor play — and worse, lack of discipline, which is what he prides himself and his teams on — before he loses his team completely. Coughlin’s stringent style works when his teams are winning, but the militaristic approach can grate on a locker room when things are not going as well.

Some of the mistakes were fluky, such as five of Eli Manning’s six interceptions this season coming off of tipped passes. But even Manning can look in the mirror, as he tried to force a play early in the game by attempting a lefthanded pass in the red zone that was intercepted in the endzone.

Coughlin took responsibility for the lack of discipline, but the players must own up to their end of the bargain too. Rolle and ORT Kareem McKenzie both were guilty of two personal fouls each, and those are preventable mistakes that cost their team dearly. This is not just a coaching issue, as the players must be responsible for not making errors of poor judgment.