No, the Giants head coach felt no better about the team's 20-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers in their preseason opener Saturday night. He conceded again the offense was disappointing, which is not a tremendous surprise since it did not score a touchdown.
But as often happens, Coughlin reviewed the tape and found a lot that he liked about the game. He opened a conference call today by listing perhaps two dozen of things he liked, including players who performed well.
"I thought that for the evening, there were a few good things that ought to be noted," Coughlin said.
Here's a sampling of the positives he found:
*The defense: "I thought our defense played well for the entire evening," Coughlin said. "Now we did give up some big play passes and we did end up the night with 100 yards rushing against, but for the most part I still felt we played pretty well."
*The offense's ball security pleased him. "We did not turn the ball over and that has been a major, major theme of ours all throughout the offseason," Coughlin said.
*Domenik Hixon, who returned to the field after missing the entire 2010 season after undergoing knee surgery and caught a team-high four passes for 49 yards.
"I thought that … the return of Domenik Hixon was a very positive thing for our team," Coughlin said. "I thought Dom had a very nice night catching the ball and taking a pounding and re-assuring for himself that he is healthy and will be ready to go."
*Another important returnee was Mathias Kiwanuka, who was limited to three games last season because of a neck injury. He has moved from defensive end to strongside linebacker.
"The return of Mathias to the field and allowing him to get his feet wet a little bit (was good)," Coughlin said. "He hasn't played a whole lot in a long time so it was good to get him out there and get him going and back with the defensive team. It allowed us to see, once he gets his feet wet and comfortable during the game, what we can expect out of him."
*Last year's preseason sensation, Victor Cruz, "made the really big play down on special teams where he made a really nice tackle coming off the gunner position and really did an outstanding job that way as well."
*Jason Pierre-Paul, last year's No. 1 draft choice.
"He was a force with two sacks and he missed another one," Coughlin said. "He made some tackles and was a force against a good left tackle so I was pleased with the way he played."
*Coughlin singled out several reserves who impressed him in the game, including linebacker Greg Jones and Spencer Paysinger, defensive end Ayanga Okpokowuruk and defensive backs Tyler Sash and Brian Witherspoon.
*Coughlin favorably reviewed the play of rookie free agent linebacker Mark Herzlich, who returned to the field last year at Boston College after missing the 2009 season with cancer.
"He did well," Coughlin said. "He was physical. You can obviously see his size as he was covering punts and kickoffs and that type of thing. He's very smart, plays mobile from the linebacker spot for us. Competitive. Outstanding in that respect all the way around. It was a good first game for him."
But while Coughlin could point to a number of positives, it's safe to say he expected more from his team in its first game. He considers the week ahead vital. The Giants don't play again until Monday, Aug. 22 at home vs. Chicago. They resume their training camp practices at the Timex Performance Center tomorrow.
"There is obviously a lot of work that needs to be done," Coughlin said. "This is a critical week for us. We do have five solid practices this week and arguably our only real extensive work and a couple practices before our next two preseason games. This is a very important week for us to ascend and I think that good things take time. The attitude being what it is here, I think the players are going to come in and be hungry to address the issues that we have and to again, solve some of those issues and spend more time with each other under pressure situations. Get offense versus defense in full speed kind of drills where the pressure is on people to perform at the highest level where there isn't a lot of time for people to communicate.
"When I say full speed, you're still not talking about tackling or anything of that nature. But I'm talking about negotiating from the game speed while still being able to practice together. Those are the kind of things I mentioned. You're talking about practice. What we need is more time on the field."
*Will Osi Umenyiora practice tomorrow for the first time in this training camp?
"I don't know anything just yet," Coughlin said. "We certainly expect that, yes. But I don't know that for a fact."
Coughlin said Umenyiora has been cleared to practice by Giants doctors.
*An MRI confirmed that kicker Lawrence Tynes sustained a thigh bruise when he was hit by Sean Ware after his 44-yard field goal attempt was blocked in the fourth quarter.
"I'm not going to predict how long he'll be out," Coughlin said. "He'll be a fulltime participant in the training room, that's for sure."
"It's not my knee, it's my thigh, so that's a good thing," said Tynes, who previously had soreness in his other quad ("They teamed up together," he said.) "The pain initially was right in the center of my quad. He left his facemask in my quad."
Coughlin said the staff hasn't yet discussed bringing in another kicker. Matt Dodge has been kicking off in practice.
"We have one solid option if we decide not to (add a kicker), but if we decide (that) then it will be relatively early in the week, obviously," Coughlin said.
Dodge has the leg strength, but Coughlin seemed reluctant to increase his placekicking workload.
"I don't want to interfere right now with the competition at the punting position (between Dodge and Steve Weatherford)," Coughlin said.
*Tynes said after the game that a flag should have been thrown on the blocked field goal where he was injured. Coughlin is always quick to defend one of his players in such circumstances, but he said the officials were correct in not penalizing the Panther.
"I was looking for the flag," Tynes said. "What happened to the (rule that protects) the defenseless player? I don't care if he tipped the ball or not. You still shouldn't be able to hit a kicker after he's put his plant foot in the ground. I never left my plant, so I don't understand where the rule is. That was the epitome of a defenseless player. I'm sure we'll hear about it and why it wasn't a foul. It's football. It (stinks). But I'll get healthy. I'll get better.
"After a ball is tipped, I guess you can just hit anyone. I'm probably speaking out of turn, but I thought it should have been a penalty."
But Coughlin said the no-call was correct because Ware touched the ball on the field goal attempt.
"(The) ball was blocked," Coughlin said. Asked if that meant Tynes was not a defenseless player, Coughlin said, "Not according to anything that I've read, unless they've added a new category. I would certainly like it to be, but that's a technique mistake by a young player (whom Coughlin would not identify). That's what that is. We're all responsible for that. It just ticks me off that something like that happens. I would certainly hope it doesn't ever happen again, but that's a technical error by a young player."
*Coughlin believes the five starting offensive linemen will improve as a group with more practice time together.
"A lot has been said about the amount of time it takes just for the offensive line to communicate with each other," he said. "(New center) David Baas is going to be a good player for us. There is no doubt in my mind. We do have some growing pains to experience there before we do have that kind of verbal or non-verbal communication that takes place when people have played with each other for a considerable amount of time."
*Coughlin said wide receiver Ramses Barden and offensive lineman Adam Koets seem no closer to coming off the physically unable to perform list.
"That's frustrating for me, but as far as I know, they're not," Coughlin said.
*The Giants offense entered the game not sure what defense it would see. The Panthers have a new head coach in Ron Rivera, a former defensive coordinator in Philadelphia, and a new coordinator in Sean McDermott, who previously held the same position in Philadelphia.
"I think the hardest part about the game was preparing without really having any idea what to expect," backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels said. "Sean McDermott is a Philly guy and Rivera had been a 3-4 (coach) but has also been a Tampa 2 guy. So the most difficult part was trying to figure out what to expect from these guys."
Rosenfels completed 13 of 19 passes for 129 yards, but the Giants scored only three points in his five series.
"It was nice to be out there and get into the rhythm of the game," Rosenfels said. "We moved the ball a lot, but we didn't put points on the board and that's always disappointing. The name of the game is points.
"But it was a good group I was out there with. We did some good things and we need some things that we need to fix. It's a positive that you're moving the ball and guys are making plays. But once you cross the 50, they start blitzing a little bit and get us out of our rhythm. I need to look at myself and I have to look at myself and see some of the things that I missed and work on those this week in practice."
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