Earlier this week, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said that he hoped his team would play with pride and honor against the Eagles even though winning isn't enough to get them into the playoffs all by themselves.
He should have made that point to his coaching staff as well because one key member of it seems to be more interested in covering his own rear end than he does in anything having to do with the accountability that one normally associates with pride and honor. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said Thursday that the problems with the defense this year are entirely on the players because his schemes were above criticism.
"We've prepared better than what we’ve played. I think if you look at the tape we’re in position to make plays. We haven’t made plays, " Fewell said. "We’ve been in position. We haven’t made a football play for the last couple of weeks. We’ve been in position to make football plays, but it hasn’t gone our way."
Anyone who watched Fewell run a 4-4-3 alignment out there against the Ravens last week will likely have a nice chuckle at the idea that he's some kind of misunderstood genius being let down by underperforming players. Taking a look at Fewell's full two years as the defensive play caller finds mostly terrible performances redeemed by the pass rush showing up in living color for six weeks at the end of last season.
There wasn't anything particularly exotic about the way they were doing it as the Giants just lined up their front four and turned them loose on offenses every week. Fewell was more than happy to take the credit for that, so he should be a bigger man about taking the blame for this week.
Fewell hasn't been the only Giant trying to cover for his own failures this week. Every where you look, there's a Giant player or coach saying they simply don't know how this season has gone so wrong which makes you wonder if Coughlin should can the five minute early rule for meetings and start using the extra time to actually come up with answers for why the team has produced results well below the talent on hand.
The Giants have to bring everything they have left on Sunday. They need the Bears, Vikings and Cowboys to lose in order to wind up in the postseason, but that only matters if they show up and beat the Eagles.
The issue of not showing up is one of the first ones that needs to be addressed, simply because it has happened far too often over the course of Coughlin's tenure to be treated as some temporary blip during an otherwise consistent run. It would be nice if some of the team's supposed leaders took the reins on that front.
Eli Manning is who he is and, even after this season, the Giants don't need to make any significant changes to their quarterback on the field. We'd love to see something more like what Tom Brady did after last week's victory over the Jaguars off the field, though.
Brady ripped the Pats to shreds in the locker room for their complacency during a 23-16 win over one of the worst teams in the league, something you could never imagine Manning doing since he treats wins and losses of all stripes with the same even keel. Someone needed to light a fire under the Giants this season, though, and it's clear that Coughlin, who normally plays that role, wasn't able to reach this particular team.
Urgency was never something the Giants seemed to feel this season, even as they talked about playing with it when their backs were against the wall. That makes it hard to imagine we're going to see a great performance from them on Sunday.
After four straight years of traveling down pretty much the same road, it's hard to see where next year is significantly different without someone stepping up to try doing things a different way.