Justin Tuck entered the Giants’ Ring of Honor Monday night, but what he did the night before might have been more important to the team’s near-term prospects.
The retired defensive end said he spoke to current defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul on Sunday and offered some advice about jump-starting a pass rush that through eight games had been a disappointment, especially given the big-money addition of free-agent end Olivier Vernon.
“I think they need to learn how to play with each other,” Tuck said before the game against the Bengals at MetLife Stadium. “The talent, that’s evident. It took me, Stray [Michael Strahan] and Osi [Umenyiora] a couple of turns to figure out where our strengths were playing with each other.
“We knew our strengths individually, but when you throw that much talent on the field at the same time, you have to figure out how to add those together and not get subtraction. A lot of times, you have bookends. That can be a subtraction, not an addition.”
Entering Monday night’s game, safety Landon Collins led the Giants in sacks with three. That’s not good. Vernon had two and Pierre-Paul 1 1⁄2.
So what, exactly, did Tuck say to Pierre-Paul?
“Just learn how to play with each other. Me and Osi had signs where we didn’t have to say a word. We’d look at each other, and depending what part of my jersey I touched, he knew what I was going to do. That chemistry goes a long way, and hopefully as they continue to play with each other, that whole D-line, the talent is there to duplicate what we did.
“I know Spags [defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo] loves it. I know he wants to unleash that.”
Tuck won two Super Bowl rings in nine seasons as a Giant — during which he compiled 60 1⁄2 sacks — before spending the final two years of his career as a Raider, ending last season.
He said he does not miss playing at all.
“I know people don’t want to hear me say that,” he said. “For me, when I decided to call it quits, I knew it was time for me, so I didn’t have any regrets.
“I definitely miss the camaraderie in the locker room. I definitely miss the guys. But waking up and taking 10 steps and my back isn’t straight yet, I don’t miss that.”
Tuck was joined in the Ring of Honor by the general manager who drafted him, Ernie Accorsi, and his coach, Tom Coughlin.
Coughlin said all 12 of his grandchildren attended the game and that he was enjoying the experience. He acknowledged that he initially had some qualms about returning after he and the Giants parted ways last winter.
“It meant a great deal,” he said. “To be honest, at first, my dauber was down and I didn’t really appreciate it, but as we got into the season and got closer and I began to reflect on it, they were fantastic experiences.”