On Wednesday, Tom Coughlin recalled one of his college coaches, Ben Schwartzwalder, telling him the old adage about throwing the football and how there are only three possible outcomes, two of them bad.
It’s been a long time since Tom Coughlin was in college.
“That’s not the case in this league,” he said.
The NFL is more of a pass-first league than ever these days, and while Coughlin always has had a mandate to establish the run in his offense, when he faces the Jets on Sunday there is a chance he’ll abandon that tenet as others have this season … with success.
The best example is the Patriots, who ran the ball only 9 times in their 30-23 win over the Jets on Oct. 25.
“The Patriots will plan according to what success, obviously, they think they can have,” Coughlin said, recalling a 2012 Pats game against the 49ers in which they threw 65 times. “So they do what they believe they can do and they take good care of the ball while they’re doing it. However you can move the ball, that’s the way to go.”
Is that the case for the Giants, too?
“Well, I’d consider anything,” Coughlin said, “but I would rather play like [the Jets] play, to be honest with you. I’d rather have 29 runs, too. I think we’d be a much better team if we were balanced that way.”
They are not.
The Giants are coming off a game in which they ran for 33 yards — 1 in the second half — against the 30th-ranked run defense and are now facing a Jets team that is first in the NFL in run defense.
They’ll also be doing it with a banged-up offensive line. While Justin Pugh (concussion) and Weston Richburg (ankle) were limited in Wednesday’s practice, starting right tackle Marshall Newhouse missed the workout with a sore back. And they put starting guard Geoff Schwartz on injured reserve this week.
Add to that some potential holes in the Jets’ secondary because of injuries — along with the possible absence of Darrelle Revis — and the Giants may be scheming for a chuck-fest.
While the 69-year-old coach seems willing to accept the new state of pass-happy NFL play-calling, the 34-year-old quarterback is more old-school.
“I think you’ve got to get the run game going,” Eli Manning said. “You’ve got to try to get something, we’ve got to run the ball, we’ve got to get some positive runs. You can’t be stuck throwing it every down versus them. And when you run it, you can’t be going backwards and getting zero gains because then that puts you in bad second and third down possibilities. They’re big and a lot of times, they load the box. They’re not playing a whole lot of two-high safeties. Usually their safeties are down in the box, so there’s always an extra guy down there. We’ve got to do a good job of finding runs and being sound with our discipline and blocking them up.”
Running back Shane Vereen, who spent the past four years with the Patriots, said he’s not sure how the Giants will play it this week.
“I don’t know what Sunday is going to show for us, but it worked for New England and it’s worked for a couple of teams,” he said of abandoning the run. “We’ll see.”
Vereen said as a running back he would not be disappointed if the Giants were to use that strategy.
“Regardless of your position, at the end of the day you have to win the game,” he said. “Whatever you have to do to win, that’s the most important thing… Across the board their defense is stacked, they’re very good. If we can find some type of advantage on one area, I’m sure we’ll do it.”