Tom Coughlin was asked, twice, how he felt about playing the rest of the season knowing there would be no playoff opportunity at the end. Here’s what he said:
As I’ve tried to say many, many times in the past, we have to deal with reality, too. The truth of the matter is we’ve got to apply ourselves and hope again, I’ve used the word ‘respect,’ that we can gain and earn some of the respect back by virtue of how we play in these last three games and that’s all we can possibly think about right now.
To be honest with you, the pride factor is the key always and your competitiveness never changes. When I tell you that each game week to week is the most important game of the year, I’m honestly telling you the truth from my standpoint, and that’s the way in which I deal with our team and it’s not going to change anything. I was asked last night, I was asked on the plane by just interested people, but to be honest with you, we’ve got a three-game schedule and we’re going to try to play and coach as hard as we can and take these things one at a time and then at the end of this season we’ll reflect, but right now is not the time for me anyway.
So my follow up question is one that Tom Coughlin can’t possible answer. It’s one that the players have to answer on Sunday as they host one of the best teams in the NFL – the Seattle Seahawks. Can the Giants play for pride and be successful?
Last year at the end of another disappointing finish, the Giants crushed the Philadelphia Eagles to end the season. Those teams both had nothing but pride to play for. The Giants offense and defense came out as aggressively as they could and absolutely took it to Philadelphia. Our DL that struggled against the run looked like men possessed, especially Chase Blackburn. Clearly it took 16 weeks of football to get the right game plan and the right execution, right?
Wrong. The Eagles season was lost, their head coach had lost touch with his team despite a successful career, and Andy Reid was let go shortly thereafter. The Eagles literally had nothing left to play for… not even pride. They couldn’t stand the state of the Eagles at that point and it showed on the field. The Giants looked like they played twice as fast, twice as hard, and ultimately beat the Eagles doubly bad than they should have. Did you see last Sunday’s game? You could say the same things about that game and the way the Chargers destroyed the Giants, couldn’t you?
We’re in the exact opposite role as last year. The Eagles are battling for division supremacy and we’re on the bottom. The muck down here gets stinkier each and every week. The walls of the barrel seem to grow a foot taller with every passing game. So do the Giants go out the same way we did last season and head into the offseason largely with the same philosophies, many key players staying the same? Or do we clean house like the Eagles did and potentially come out stronger on the other side?
It’s really up to the players for the last 3 games. Not only are they playing for their own sense of pride, their own personal sense of respect — but for the respect of their coaches, their organization, their fans, and the very fabric of what it means to be a NY Giant. I have no doubt Tom Coughlin has explained as much to the team, what they do with that perspective on Sunday is another test in a litany of opportunities this team as let slip through their collective fingers this season.
I will say this… there’s nothing to lose by letting it all hang out this Sunday. Offensively and Defensively. It’s time to dial up the pressure and come with it Big Blue. What’s left to play safe for? Play with the passion we saw to end last year, and you’ve got fans that will be by your side through thick and thin for years to come. Fold up and mail it in, and the bottom of the barrel becomes a much more woesome place to be.