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Forget Black Friday, Giants Need to Avoid Black Sunday

Tom Coughlin's running back shuffle underscores gravity of the situation

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Tom Coughlin.

    It should surprise no one to learn that the Giants couldn't even escape Thanksgiving Day unscathed.

    Shawn Andrews spent the night in the hospital thanks to a flare-up with his back injury. The pain must have been intense because Andrews is not a man who would miss a Thanksgiving feast without much persuasion and, more seriously, because he remains in the hospital on Friday. That likely means the Giants offensive line will have to dig deeper into their reserves on Sunday, something that doesn't bode well for an offense already searching for a way forward. 

    That quest will have to succeed without Ahmad Bradshaw for the most part. He's been benched by Tom Coughlin for his insistence on fumbling the football, which means Brandon Jacobs will have to carry the offensive weight if the team is going to get back on track against the Jaguars. Coughlin claims that Bradshaw will still play, but for the coach to go so public about a change in the playing rotation spells a serious chill for number 44. 

    Remember all preseason that Coughlin refused to make any statement about who was first on the depth chart at running back. It didn't matter who went first, or so the story went, because everyone would get carries. Now it's a big public humiliation for Bradshaw, which tells you both that he's out of the picture and that Coughlin knows that a line has to be drawn right here and now.  

    Benching Bradshaw is easy to support. Unless you're Eli Manning, you don't get to keep turning the ball over and keep your job. Still, choosing to dump the one real playmaker left on your offense days before a must-win game lets you know that Coughlin wants to send a larger message to his undisciplined team about what it takes to get the job done.

    If it works, that message will change to one of Coughlin's continued ability to pull his hams out of the fire. If it fails, it might well wind up being the final referendum on Coughlin's inability to find a way to put a team on the field that matches the team he preaches about coaching on a regular basis. That's not the kind of referendum that does good things for your continued employment.

    That's for the future. For now, Coughlin is telling his offense to get out of the way and let the defense win the game. That's probably the best option at home against an inconsistent foe, but it certainly isn't a plan without risk.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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