EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants assembled here Monday to watch the miserable tape of their 38-0 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. They met, as they do every Monday, to discuss their situation, an alarming 0-3 record and the possibility of the season slipping away in September. Their coach, Tom Coughlin, said he challenged the team's pride.
"We don't try to soft-pedal anything," Coughlin said. "This was a very, very disappointing loss for us. The messages are very strongly presented. I'm concerned that what we talk about here and the response to it are not necessarily one and the same."
It does not sound like it was a lot of fun to be in the Giants' meeting rooms Monday. Which is fair. That should reflect what went on Sunday, and it couldn't have been a lot of fun to play or watch that game as a member of the Giants' organization. Monday misery is fully justified in this case, and Coughlin knows how to deliver it.
"I'm always into Monday being a horrible day anyway," Coughlin said. "Win or lose."
The issue for the Giants is what the rest of the week is like. Right now, they are beaten, embarrassed and confused. But what they don't seem to be -- outwardly, anyway -- is angry. And if they're to get things turned around Sunday on the road against an undefeated Kansas City Chiefs team that will have had 10 days off and whose coach is 8-3 against them over the past five years, they could use a dose of anger.
"This is going to be a great week for us, to see what type of team comes out of this week," linebacker Spencer Paysinger said. "I know it's crazy, but it's kind of exciting to see what we're made of."
Not exactly a hard-edged perspective. From an outsider's perspective, I feel as Paysinger does -- fascinated to see how the Giants react to their predicament and whether they can upset the Chiefs and get people thinking once again that this season can be saved. But for that to be the perspective on the inside is, I believe, alarming. Not that I'm asking for this on a personal or professional level, but part of me expects the Giants to be ornery and nasty to the media this week. Part of me expects the Giants to be ornery and nasty to everyone with whom they come in contact this week. If they were, I believe, I'd feel differently about their chances to win.
Look at the team that just crushed them. The Panthers spent the past week furious about the way they'd lost their Week 2 game to Buffalo. They had the lead and let rookie quarterback EJ Manuel march down the field and throw a game-winning touchdown pass to a wide-open Stevie Johnson in the end zone. It was embarrassing, and as they spent the week answering questions about how they were going to overcome all of the injuries in their secondary, they seethed. They compared themselves to wounded dogs. Their defensive linemen took it upon themselves to make a mess of the Giants' offense -- to take out all of their frustrations by sacking Eli Manning over and over again and making the statement that they didn't like the way it felt to be run over by Buffalo.
When will the Giants play a game like that? This week? Next week? Ever?
"When we lose 38-0, anything you say about us probably deserves to be said," Manning said. "It's something we're not happy about as players. We're embarrassed about it. We've got to fix it. And the only way to get people saying something different is to go out next week and play better than we did last week."
This is the Giants. They're all about the even keel. They had a players-only meeting Monday to discuss all that went wrong, but they have one every Monday, win or lose, and the prevailing message that came out of this one was the one Paysinger articulated -- let's find out what we're made of. That's a nice, grown-up perspective on things, and that kind of cool has served the Giants well for most of the past decade. But it's fair to wonder whether a little dose of anger about the way they've been pushed around might serve them well if mixed in with the scientific curiosity.
Coughlin was asked whether his team had enough talent to turn around its season, and he said, "We're certainly going to find out. We're certainly hoping to be able to find out -- to go to whatever extreme we have to to find out whether we have the people who can help us win."
The answer to the question may well be "no." The Giants may not be good enough on the offensive or defensive lines anymore to be a serious postseason contender. Coughlin wouldn't say that, I don't think, even if he believed it. But we can say it. And if the issue is insufficient talent, then the Giants are going to need something else to push them to respectability. At this point, they might do well to take their cue from their Sunday conquerors and get angry.