Tom Coughlin is doing jumping jacks.
Asked on Thursday how the mood of the team changed when Washington lost to Dallas on Monday night — creating a three-way tie for first place in the NFC East a day after the Giants’ deflating overtime loss to the Jets — Coughlin used calisthenics instead of words to describe the elation and boost of energy the Giants had.
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With precision and athleticism, the 69-year-old ripped off three perfectly formed exercises and then broke into a grin.
“Jumping jacks for every meeting like that, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s exciting. Let’s face it, it is exciting.”
He’s apparently not kidding about the “every meeting” thing, either. On Wednesday, he snapped off a few of them for the team.
“Very impressive,” Eli Manning said. “I’ve seen the jumping jacks a few times.”
“Especially the way things are going around here and the head coach is still fired up and still having that energy to come out and do that, it lets you know how he feels about the team and he understands where we’re at and where we still can go,” cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. “It’s always good to see that coming from the head man.”
The Giants are 5-7 along with Washington and Philadelphia. Dallas is 4-8. As of today, the Giants are technically in third place because of tiebreakers, but with four games to go, those tiebreaking scenarios will change. Washington and Philadelphia each has two division games remaining.
“One thing we have to our advantage is they still have to play each other, so you know there are going to be some losses somewhere,” Rodgers-Cromartie said.
Of course, the Giants can simplify things by just winning.
“I’ve said it many times before: We have to take care of our own business,” Coughlin said. “But to be in a circumstance where we’re in the hunt is a good and exciting thing, and I think the players realize that.”
It’s been a crazy season in that regard. The Giants have gotten just about every break imaginable when they have needed them in other games, but can’t seem to find any when they are actually playing.
So while they are happy to be in the logjam — “As long as you’re in the race, that’s the most important thing,” Manning said — they’re still a bit disappointed that they have not taken advantage of the ineptitude of the rest of the division. They have lost their last three games, and a win in any of those games would have put the Giants in firm control of the NFC East.
“How many more lives are we going to get here?” cornerback Prince Amukamara asked. “I’m sure there’s been talks among each group, offense, defense and special teams. Guys know we’re out of strikes. We’re out of chances and we need to start playing the ball that we know how.”
“It is about that time,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “It’s crazy how things work out. It seems like nobody can bust down that wall, so that’s our mentality going into the last few weeks. Somebody’s got to bust it down.”
Maybe jumping jacks will turn out to be a good way to start that endeavor.