Tom Coughlin dipped into his admiration of naval history Monday when he described his philosophy for crisis management as "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!'' But he also was reminding his players to lash the lifeboats together because they could be adrift for quite a while.

The skipper of this sinking vessel said he will remain on course and not make any "message'' changes such as firing or reassigning coaches, cutting players, or even benching them.

"Your team is your team,'' he said. "I think you have to deal with reality. The messages are very strongly presented. I don't need that kind of example.''

Coughlin did leave the door open, though.

"If it is something that can make us better, then I have no issue with that, either,'' he said.

Clearly, something will have to change as the Giants try to rebound from their first 0-3 start under Coughlin, a stumble that was punctuated Sunday by the most lopsided loss of his tenure with the team. But before he attempted to fix the football, Coughlin reminded the Giants players that they got into this mess together and that's the only way for them to get out of it.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"I think we just got beat,'' Eli Manning said. "When you lose, 38-0, anything you say about us is probably deserved to be said. It's something we're not happy about as players. You're embarrassed about it. We've got to fix it.

"I think the guys know the only way to make a difference and to start winning games is to stick together and be smart in what we say, how we handle everything and how we prepare and practice and how we play. The only way we're going to win is if we come together as a team and play well as a team.''

There may have already been a crack in that solidarity. After Sunday's game, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks spoke about being targeted only once and having no receptions. "I can't throw it to myself,'' Nicks said.

It's a quote that reads worse than the way it came out of Nicks' mouth, but Coughlin said he would discuss the comments with Nicks. Manning said he saw no reason to address them.

"Any time a receiver doesn't get a reception, it's tough,'' Manning said. "I like for all of my receivers to be happy and to get a lot of catches.''

Coughlin may have quoted Admiral Farragut's brave, steadfast declaration about going head-first into troubled waters -- "be more focused, more driven, and try to transfer those objectives directly to our players,'' he said -- but it was one of his own quotes that perhaps got more to the heart of what's going on.

Coughlin was reminded of 2004, when he took the job with the Giants, and gave a rousing speech about "restoring the pride'' of the organization.

"We must restore our belief in the process by which we will win and we must replace despair with hope and return the energy and passion to New York Giants football,'' he said nearly 10 years ago.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah,'' Coughlin said with a sigh, unimpressed with his own oration.

So have the Giants come full circle on the Coughlin era? Are they back to square one?

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"I hope not,'' he said. "Let's see. I did challenge our pride a little bit today.''

That's something that usually happens much later in seasons, a team playing for pride. Coughlin pulled it out a little early.

Or maybe too late.