Giants' defense has players-only meeting to hash out problems

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Wednesday was apparently a day for meetings at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Not only did coach Ben McAdoo hold a meeting for the entire team that put some of the indiscretions on full display for everybody to see, but the defense also held a players-only session to discuss its problems.

The New York Giants defense has more than its fair share at this point. The Giants have allowed 82 points over the past two weeks, including 31 to the previously winless San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. They've allowed 14 plays of over 20 yards and are ranked 31st in total defense, allowing over 400 yards per game.

Few would have believed it would reach this point, where an emergency players-only meeting would be necessary to stop the bleeding in Week 11 after consecutive efforts that were labeled embarrassing.

This defense was supposed to be a team strength. Instead, after allowing the second-fewest points in the NFL last year, the defense has fallen apart.

The Giants (1-8) season is lost but there are games left, and the players have no choice but to show up for the next seven weeks. The Giants can't keep drifting deeper into this abyss. It has already gotten ugly in East Rutherford, with McAdoo at a full-team meeting showing plays of Janoris Jenkins and others providing half-hearted efforts. The loafs that defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and his coaches track were apparently off the chart in the loss to the 49ers.

The defensive meeting on Wednesday was animated. One player considered it a seven on the scale of 1-10. Effort (or lack thereof) was among the topics discussed by the players in an effort to hold their teammates accountable.

"Honestly, everybody just being held accountable," defensive end Olivier Vernon said. "Guys really just have to hone in and look themselves in the mirror."

There wasn't one primary speaker. A whole bunch of Giants spoke up. Everybody was given the opportunity to express their opinion a week after there were some anonymous players saying the team had quit on McAdoo and then their effort Sunday proved it to be true.

"[The meeting] was a good opportunity to acknowledge why we haven't been playing good ball and what we need to change," linebacker Devon Kennard said.

Among the messages was the Giants need to play smarter and faster. Players indicated they have been blowing assignments at an alarming rate. That can't continue to happen.

Players constructively expressed their points primarily without calling out any individuals.

"It got the point across," safety Nat Berhe said. "It was a group, collective. Everyone kind of had something to say, which I feel is needed. I felt guys were honest and we kind of kept it real."

The vocal leaders of the defense are considered to be captain Jonathan Casillas, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and defensive tackle Damon Harrison, according to veteran cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. They're the ones who fire up the group.

They were among those who spoke at Wednesday's meeting, which wasn't something that's completely unique, although it is believed to be the first time it has happened this season.

"I don't think it was crazy animated," Kennard said. "Nothing out of the ordinary, stuff we have done before. But it was just a regrouping kind of situation. I think we have a really good defense and we haven't been playing like a really good defense the past couple weeks. And we need to regroup and get things back together."

The idea was to get together and put everything on the table, even if it wasn't pleasant. The players at least felt like something was accomplished.

"A well-needed positive day," linebacker B.J. Goodson said.

But this was a Wednesday proceeding. As Kennard noted, they need to take what happens on Wednesday and Thursday -- when they practice and prepare for that week's game -- onto the field on Sundays.

Until that happens, all this talk is just that -- talk. And actions speak louder than words.