I’ve covered the New York Giants for 20+ years so I’ve experienced a lot of different locker room swings over that time.
So this week, I was particularly interested to see what the vibe would be after an emotional, hard-fought loss to the Panthers which in many ways was reminiscent of last year’s disappointing loss to the Eagles on a last-second long field goal.
What I came away with is that unlike last year, where that loss pretty much sucked whatever life was left in the Giants season, this year’s loss has supercharged them. by that I mean I senses a quiet, yet steely like calm among the players and a focus that I don’t think I’ve seen from this team in quite some time.
Hall of Fame defensive end Michael Strahan probably said it best when describing what’s been missing from this Giants team but yet what’s been slowly creeping into the picture: cohesiveness.
“It’s a new system, a new everything for everyone there,” Strahan said during a conference call with the Giants beat writers Wednesday. “I think we forget that. We look at the players on the team and go, ‘We should win now.’ In theory, it’s great. But when you have a new coach, new system, new everything, it’s not that easy.”
No it’s not. It’s a process which, as I’ve noted before on the LockedOn Giants podcasts is one that wasn’t exactly aided by the fact that the offensive and defensive units didn’t really play much together in the preseason to build up that cohesiveness.
Lately, there have been signs of that gelling process starting to come along and that unity solidifying. Unfortunately, it had to take a few weeks of the regular season—and with it a few losses—to come together, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the arrow is pointed in the right direction.
As for Thursday’s game, I have no idea if the Giants are going to beat the Eagles Thursday night—I do think they can pull it off and (spoiler alert) I’ve picked the Giants in my BBV weekly staff picks.
I do believe in my heart this team is going to come out swinging not only because it’s the Eagles but because of what’s at stake, not just in terms of making up ground in the division but also in further solidifying the bonds that Pat Shurmur and his staff have laid the foundation for.
I usually don’t like to read too much into things, but I found the following response from head coach Pat Shurmur in his weekly “Shurmur Sez” column done with Giants.com writer Mike Eisen about now former offensive tackle Ereck Flowers, who was waived Tuesday, of interest:
“I’m not frustrated. We came in and the guys that we chose to keep all had a clean slate. We worked with Ereck and we made an effort to help him be better, and it just didn’t quite work out for us here now. Sometimes, a change of scenery is good for a player and we wish Ereck the best. In the short time that I’ve been with him, I’ve gained an appreciation for who he is as a person, and on a personal level, I just hope he goes on and has a good career.”
Based on Shurmur’s words, it sure does sound to me that Flowers resisted the efforts by the coaching staff to help him improve.
I can’t help but wonder if that problem became worse once he was benched in favor of Chad Wheeler and simply checked out mentally.
I say that because last week when Wheeler hurt his hand, one would have thought that Flowers would get ready to step in, yet it looked like Spencer Pulley was instead being readied.
Whatever happened, Flowers becomes one of the most high-profiled examples to clearly not take full advantage of the clean slate that was afforded to all the players. It will be interesting to see if he catches on and finally flourishes elsewhere.
Final word on Odell and Lil Wayne
I’m not about to write a long, drawn-out editorial on why I think Odell Beckham Jr. made a judgement error by having rap star Lil Wayne by his side for his interview with ESPN. I get it that he was looking for support and who better to support you than your good friend,
But part of being a leader is standing up independently and taking a stand. Odell did the second part and while I think parts of what he said should have stayed in house, I still admire him for having the moxie to go on national television to speak his mind.
The first part—standing up independently is what continues to bother me. It wasn’t a good look—and that’s no offense to Lil Wayne. It’s just that if you’re going to own your words, which all good leaders do, do so without the cavalry there to back you up.