The Giants' identity crisis seems to be over.
It spanned the last two seasons and seemed to be continuing this year when the team dropped its first two games of the season in heartbreaking fashion. They seemed to be another squad of Giants players who crumbled in the clutch and just were never good enough to overcome their miscues. Even Tom Coughlin hinted at that problem after the loss to Atlanta when he said the team needed to be almost perfect to win.
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"Look, we can't make mistakes," he said then in one of the most damning statements he's ever made about the Giants. "We can't make mistakes and so we have to count on the other guy [to make them]."
Since then, though, something interesting has happened. The team has come together and developed a personality. It's not one of dominance or high-level play, but rather one that has more to do with its attitude than execution. And since then, the Giants haven't lost.
Coughlin has used the words "gritty" and "scrappy" to describe the team, and they seem to be embracing those adjectives. In an NFL where there are far more teams such as the Bills and 49ers -- opponents that are mediocre at best -- than the Falcons and Cowboys (at least when they had Tony Romo and Dez Bryant), the Giants don't have to be the most talented roster. And it's a good thing because they are not. They just have to have more fight than the other teams.
"I think there is a lot of resiliency, maturation," center Weston Richburg said, embracing the newfound identity. "We're a gritty team. There's guys that go in and want to win and are willing to do whatever it takes. It makes your job easy when you're on a team like that."
Richburg, in only his second season, seems to be one of those guys. He's developed into a leader on the field and has noted the ascension of others on the offense to that role. Justin Pugh, Rashad Jennings. They are all far-from-star players who are giving this Giants team a personality.
"Chemistry," Jennings said. "Having chemistry on the field is huge. It's a word that nobody pays attention to, but it's pivotal to success on the football field. You have to know how the guy beside you plays. It makes a difference in getting those hidden yards, protecting the quarterback a little more, being more precise on routes. That's what we've been able to do."
If they can keep doing it, getting gritty and scrappy wins no matter how unimpressive they may be, the victories will add up. The persona will continue to grow.
"I'm excited for where we are headed," Richburg said. "If we continue to improve, continue to work hard like we've been doing, I think we can definitely do some special things here."