Coughlin says Giants have room for improvement
Albany, N.Y. - Tom Coughlin didn't see a Super Bowl team in the New York Giants preseason opener.
Far from it.
In a conference call Saturday less than 24 hours after a 32-31 preseason loss to Jacksonville, Coughlin said he was upset about losing a game in which New York blew leads of 17 and 10 points.
The 65-year-old who has led the Giants to two titles in the last five seasons was most bothered by seeing his team muff two punts and hand the Jaguars 10 points.
However, there were also 11 penalties, a weak opening series by the defense, some shoddy play on both sides of the ball on third down and losing a game in which the Giants won the turnover battle.
"We have no illusions of the improvement that needs to be made, and I am talking about from the top of our team to the bottom," Coughlin said.
If there was a positive for Coughlin there was no sign that this team was living off its Super Bowl laurels. For the most part, the Giants played hard on a night they just made too many mistakes.
"I thought the guys played hard when they were in the game," Coughlin said. "It wasn't a great performance but we did play hard and we do know where we are at and we do understand what preseason is about."
On the positive side, Coughlin was pleased with his running game, which was ranked last in the NFL in 2011.
First-round draft pick David Wilson was impressive in his first action. He gained 43 yards on seven carries and also returned a kickoff 48 yards to set up a Lawrence Tynes field goal.
Wilson wasn't perfect. He failed to run out of bounds in the closing minutes with the Giants down a point, costing them some time.
Veteran D.J.Ware, who seemingly was forgotten after Wilson was drafted, looked good, gaining 30 yards on five carries, including a 2-yard TD run. He could have had more had it not been for a couple of bad cuts.
The Giants were concerned about their tight ends going into training camp after Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum suffered major knee injuries in the Super Bowl, but Martellus Bennett played well in his first game with the Giants. The former Dallas Cowboys caught a team-high three passes for 27 yards, including a 12-yard TD reception on a pass by David Carr.
"Bennett made a couple of plays; a nice catch on the touchdown that was well done," Coughlin said. "He showed speed down the field. I think he'll be a guy who people have trouble covering."
While the Giants had six sacks, the defense allowed Jacksonville to rush for 156 yards and convert on 9 of 17 third-down plays.
Coughlin also said the Giants probably should have played their base defense on Jacksonville's game-winning 2-point conversion pass.
The Giants will have a hectic month of August. They finished training camp at the University at Albany this week and meet the rival Jets in their annual preseason game at MetLife Stadium on Saturday. They will play their final three preseason game at home, playing Chicago on Aug. 24 and closing out against New England on the 29th.
The NFL season opener will be home on Sept. 5 against the Dallas Cowboys.
"We do have games that are going to come one right after the other and we're going to be really busy, Coughlin said. "We're all trying to improve but we're also trying to realize that we're moving on into preseason games. That's where we are and the position that we choose to take is, hey we've got a lot of things to correct and we're not going to deny any of the issues that were present."
Coughlin did not want to say much about the work of the replacement referees, who might have made a mistake in the closing seconds after Ryan Perriloux was called for throwing a pass beyond the line of scrimmage with roughly two seconds to play.
The officials got the call right but there was some debate whether 10 seconds should have been taken off the game clock, which would have ended the game. Instead they allowed the Giants to run another play.
Coughlin said the officials did their best.
"Taken that these people try and as a matter of fact when I stand on the sideline just watching them work, they're trying as hard as they can to do the best job they can, Coughlin said. "Is it emblematic of a preseason game? Probably. There are certainly mistakes made. There's nobody at this junction, having played one preseason game, coaches included, who haven't made errors. I'm not going to worry too much about that. I can't afford it. We have to get a team ready to play."
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