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Ny Post: Giant Disappointment


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September 14, 2004 -- Mark this down. Anyone who can walk will be on the practice field this week for the 0-1 Giants, who were hammered by the Eagles 31-17 in the season opener and have been issued a warning of sorts by their head coach.

Those who expected fire and brimstone from Tom Coughlin were taken aback or disappointed that his reaction to the overwhelming loss was more nurturing and less maniacal than anticipated. He may be inflexible, but he isn't dim when it comes to knowing what he has to work with and how difficult this season might be.

Coughlin wasn't about to start berating his players and blowing a gasket after the Eagles, possibly the best team in the NFC, performed at their peak in front of their approving home crowd. The Redskins are up next in the home opener at Giants Stadium, so what good would it do to get so crazed so early?

"I don't know from who you heard say he was mellow," cornerback Will Peterson said. "He made appropriate comments about the game, everyone knows what they did wrong, you're a man, you're a player, you've been in the league a long time. There's not too much talking that can be done, some actions need to be done and I think he's waiting to see how guys react."

What is assured is that Coughlin is again trying to lay down his law about getting players on the field. He harped on that theme throughout training camp, often growing increasingly frustrated when an assortment of injuries led to an assortment of players off on the side.

Recently, cornerbacks Will Allen and Peterson, tight end Jeremy Shockey, linebackers Carlos Emmons and Barrett Green all missed time with a variety of ailments. None of those players distinguished themselves in Philly. Book it that anyone hurting at all will feel the heat Coughlin will apply.

"I told our team this right away, the overwhelming evidence that when you do not practice you can fool yourself all you want, but you're not gonna play well," Coughlin said. "It just doesn't work that way. You need to practice, you need your mind to be right, you need your body to be right, you need to be comfortable. I'm not just singling Will [Allen] out. I'm saying a general statement, if you look at the guys who had the majority of time missed and how they played, you can just write it down, it's how it is."

The most alarming sights, Coughlin said, were all the big plays by the Eagles against his defense. Donovan McNabb completed 12 passes of 14 yards or more (including throws of 50 and 53 yards) and Brian Westbrook had a 50-yard run.

"It's a worry any time people are throwing the ball over your head," Coughlin said.

As for Kurt Warner, Coughlin mostly had praise for his starting quarterback and counted three dropped passes by his receivers. The fumbled snap on the Eagles 1-yard line was the main source of aggravation.

"He showed outstanding leadership, there were some opportunities for some plays that were out there that didn't get done, he contributed to one of them," Coughlin said.

Even the offensive line attracted praise. "It's improving, getting better," he said. "There's a lot of yards, not many points, but it's much better than it was a couple of weeks ago."

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