Tom Coughlin's final words to the media before Saturday night's preseason game against the Jaguars were simple and to the point. Asked what he hoped to see from the team, he boiled it down to one word.
"Improvement," he said on Thursday. "Improvement."
That shouldn't be too difficult given how disappointing and deflated the Giants -- and their starting units in particular -- looked in last week's opener against the Bengals. The offense was unable to move the ball, the defense was unable to stop the run, and in the handful of snaps they were on the field both sides were dominated. There's nowhere to go but up.
Or, gulp, stay in the same place. A status quo performance would undoubtedly be reason to believe this will be another status woe season.
More so on offense, the Giants need to show life against the Jaguars. They are counting on scoring this season -- Eli Manning has said the aim is 27-30 points per game, not yards, which is about what they accomplished last week -- and carrying a defense with holes and questions. There is reason to believe the Giants will be able to demonstrate some of that firepower on Saturday as they spent the week installing more vertical threats to their offense.
There aren't exact goals for this game. The Giants are looking more for of a definition of their style than a destination for their stats.
"We're not out there to chase numbers, that's not good offense," second-year offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said. "We're out there to execute, put ourselves in position, to take care of the ball and put points on the board."
Manning, who did not complete a pass to a wide receiver against the Bengals, also said he's hoping to come away with a good feeling.
"Put some points on the board and get some drives going, sustain some drives," Manning said. "Hopefully, be able to get out there, set the tempo, play fast with the offense, get some first downs and get into a good rhythm with the offense."
In the second year with the scheme, that should be easier. The excuses of learning a new playbook have been left behind (or maybe lent to the defense under first-year coordinator Steve Spagnuolo). With all of their weapons and more comfort in the plays, the assumption is that they should make a tremendous leap forward from 2014.
That's the assumption, at least.
"I don't see enough right now, to be honest with you," Coughlin said earlier this week. "I don't see enough yet, but I'm looking forward to it."
Perhaps on Saturday he'll get that chance.
"We met a couple times as an offense on this, in the offseason, and now in training camp," McAdoo said of the progress he thinks the group can make in the second year. "We set our expectations very high. We set parameters ... We have high expectations for ourselves. There is one goal in this business and we all know what that goal is, but you can measure the parameters each week as you go to make sure you're on track."
This week is another chance to measure.
"My confidence level is growing," Coughlin said, "but we've got to, again, test ourselves in these preseason games."
Notes and quotes: Coughlin said the starters will play a little bit more than they did against the Bengals. In that game Manning played just 15 snaps, but because of the ineffectiveness of the offense was still on the field in the second quarter ... Newly signed safety Brandon Meriweather will make his Giants debut against the Jaguars, but Coughlin said he will play "a limited amount" ... John Jerry and Marshall Newhouse are expected to start on the right side of the offensive line with Geoff Schwartz coming in at either guard or tackle -- or both.