Tom Coughlin is not a man who often uses the media to fight his battles.
He likes to spout off that talk is cheap and that players should just play the game, but Coughlin isn't above using the power of the microphone every now and then. Wednesday was one of those times as Coughlin decided that a coaches' breakfast at the league meetings in Phoenix was the perfect time to hammer defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul for being overweight last season.
"He didn’t play as well as the year before. He was big when he came to camp. There’s not a lot of body fat [with Pierre-Paul], yes, but still," Coughlin said.
Let's hope Coughlin stuck with egg whites and oatmeal during the breakfast. It would be a bit of a stretch to crush a guy for being porky with a plate filled with bacon, after all.
It's easy to understand why Coughlin would take this motivational route with Pierre-Paul. He's a player who has gotten to this point on the back of his otherwordly physical skills, but they remain unrefined and the rest of the league will catch up to them before long.
To continue to thrive, JPP has to be in top shape while also adding more nuance to his game. That's about hard work, something the coach made it clear that Pierre-Paul has do more of in the future.
JPP said that the extra weight was muscle, an explanation that Coughlin didn't seem to be buying as he said that it took the end until the second half of the season to get back to his ideal playing weight. We won't argue that Pierre-Paul's play was at the the same level as it was in 2011, but we're not sure that the weight explains everything that went wrong.
Pierre-Paul was the only member of the front seven who made even a handful of memorable plays over the course of the season and the coaching staff never figured out a way to stop teams from exploiting JPP's desire to get up the field as quickly as possible. Perhaps the weight stopped him from chasing down ball carriers all over the field as he had in the Super Bowl year, but, at some point, you have to wonder why the coaches were allowing themselves to get beaten the same exact way every week.
Beyond that, there's the issue of the supporting cast. Osi Umenyiora had one of his lesser years and Justin Tuck was bad for the second straight season, leaving teams free to devote their blockers to Pierre-Paul without feeling any risk of reprisal on the other side of the line.
He'll see more of them in 2013 and he'll need to be able to beat them if he's going to be successful, but the Giants are also going to need to do more to help put him into a position to succeed. After all, putting all the weight on one player is going to make him look heavy when the rest of the defense is allowed to put up an anorexic front.