After enduring a humbling 40-24 loss to Indianapolis on Monday night, New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin had to look forward to a short week of preparation before a cross-country flight to take on the defending Super Bowl champs inside the league’s noisiest stadium.
Oh, and that’s the same Seattle team that skunked his Giants, 23-0, in December.
“All’s fair, huh?” Coughlin commented when he was reminded of this week’s challenge.
No, the NFL isn’t fair, and Coughlin knows that as well as anybody because of his 19 seasons as head coach in the league.
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That’s the way the NFL was designed “by our forefathers,” he joked. Yes, they brought forth a league dedicated to the proposition that all teams are created equal.
As coach of two Super Bowl winners, he understands the challenges the Seahawks face this season, now 5-3 at the midpoint of their attempt at a rare Super Bowl encore.
“The next year, you better be ready to play 16 games against people who are very excited to play you and consider it a great feat to say they defeated the Super Bowl champion,” Coughlin said during a conference call with Seattle media Wednesday. “You see people doing some very, very good things in preparation and in games.”
Coughlin particularly gave a nod to the staff of the St. Louis Rams, who came up with effective trickery in an upset of the Seahawks last month.
Coughlin, then, is another who would consider it a great feat to upset the Seahawks. The Giants have been as unimpressive as their 3-5 record suggests, with their wins coming against Houston, Washington and Atlanta, teams with a cumulative 9-17 record.
Eli Manning and the Giants offense are not the problem this time around, but the defense is ranked 28th overall, giving up just under 400 yards and 26.1 points a game
In the shutout loss last season, Manning threw five interceptions to Seahawks defenders.
Asked what he can learn from the film of that game, Manning pointed out that the Giants are operating a new scheme, so “I don’t have any reason to go back and check it out.”
Uh, OK. New coordinator Ben McAdoo brought in a scheme that resembles that of Green Bay, where he was an assistant for eight seasons.
It calls for getting the ball out quickly with fewer risky throws. And it’s worked for Manning, who had a career-high 27 interceptions last season, but has just five thus far, and is on a streak of 145 passes without a pick.
“It’s an adjustment,” Manning said of the new approach. “Having been in one offense for 10 years, getting the (new) wording down, calling the plays and protections, learning the rules and reads and footwork – it took time. (But) I feel good about my understanding of the offense. We’ve just got to execute it better.”
The Giants have lost receiver Victor Cruz, guard Chris Snee and middle linebacker Jon Beason to injuries. Their defense is second in the league with 11 interceptions, but have lost four defensive backs, most notably Prince Amukamara, who suffered a torn biceps Monday night.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he’s seen the Giants play well this season and also struggle, but had a reminder to those who might scoff at their chances this weekend.
“You’d make a terrible mistake underestimating Coach Coughlin and what he’s able to do with his teams,” Carroll said. “He’s been a world champ for obvious reasons and a terrific factor in their division for years. Eli’s been a great quarterback. They’ve got good running backs back there, and they’ve got guys who can make the catches.”
Carroll has seen only two games in the first half of the season in which the Seahawks enjoyed much of a cushion, so he understands Coughln’s warning about the dangers that lurk when facing a highly motivated opponent every week.
“We’ve seen them at their best … so we know what they’re capable of, and that’s always what we’re counting on, the team that they could be, at the top of their game,” Carroll said. “We know they can be a really good football team. We’re counting on that.”