Giants safety Antrel Rolle said he stood by every criticism he made in a Tuesday interview with a New York radio station, saying the only thing he regretted was that he didn’t take his complaints to coach Tom Coughlin first.
“I said what I said,” Rolle said Wednesday. “I just didn’t think there was enough attitude, anger toward the Colts. That was my problem. That was the issue I had. And if I don’t have it, that’s a problem in my eyes. If there’s no professionalism, I take what I do very seriously.
“There was no passion for the loss. There was no passion going through the game. There was no passion because we lost by such a large margin. I spoke. And I want to nip it in the bud now, as a unit, before things prolong.”
Clearly, after Coughlin sat him down Tuesday night for what was likely an unpleasant chat after he was apprised of Rolle’s opinions, the safety had a far more measured tone Wednesday. So, in a manner, Coughlin managed to stomp out what could have been a major locker room fire.
While Coughlin can take comfort in the fact that even the combination of Rolle and Brandon Jacobs’ helmet throwing incident doesn’t equal the frat house atmosphere Rex “Bluto” Ryan has engendered with his big green gang, Coughlin still must recognize that some cinders continue to smolder.
Some of Rolle’s complaints:
No Leadership: Coughlin said there is indeed leadership, as put forth by team captains Eli Manning, Justin Tuck, and Chase Blackburn. But Rolle isn’t all wrong here. Manning, Tuck, and Blackburn are on the quieter side; leaders by example, but certainly not furniture movers. The Giants may have others who better fit the fiery mold in the locker room, but those people – Keith Bulluck, Rolle, and Deon Grant – are too new to the team. And the team’s most persuasive offensive player besides Manning is C Shaun O’Hara, and he’s busy dealing with a bum Achilles.
Coughlin did away with the 10-player Leadership Council that worked so well in 2007 and ‘08, but that seems incidental. If folks like Antonio Pierce and Michael Strahan and Jeff Feagles aren’t around, anyway, what difference would a bunch of youngsters and newcomers make on a council?
So, Coughlin is leaving things to the captains this year.
“What this year’s captains have done is really done an outstanding job of trying to be good leaders,” Coughlin said. “There’s strength and leadership in all three of our captains, and I count on those guys to be the communicators with our team. I’m sure as the relationships get stronger between the players and new guys that are here and have been here, then I think some of those things can be worked out.”
He’d better hope so. The Giants looked rudderless last week.
So what does Coughlin expect from anybody stepping up to be a leader?
“To do it the right way,” he said. “Yes, we’re always looking for guys who are strong and who will lend to the leadership process. You cannot do it just as a captain. You have to have an outstanding group around you.
“Before you can be a great leader, you have to be a great follower. So, yes, no question about that. However, it all has to be done in a very positive way.”
In other words, don’t spout off on the radio. Even Eli Manning knows that.
“Sometimes you’re going to have a loss, and you can’t start blaming things and making excuses right now,” Manning said. “We have a long season, and we have to get back to just playing football.
“We just say, ‘Hey, we need to stick together and we have to play better football.’ All the talking isn’t going to help anything. Going out there on Sundays and playing your game is the only way to get things back on track.”
He said more about Rolle’s choice of platform, too. Take a look at this video.
DOWNTIME: Rolle criticized Coughlin’s timetable for getting into Indianpolis too early in the day on Saturday, and getting to the locker room too early on gameday. Coughlin all but called that specious, considering these are professionals who should know how to prepare themselves for games.
“I think anyone knows that when you have a game at night there’s a lot of time,” Coughlin said. “There’s a lot of time that you wait to play.”
Coaches are forever trying to figure out the time factor, simply because football players are creatures of habit. Their systems are used to doing things a certain way. By the sounds of it, it doesn’t appear Coughlin will change much for his team’s Oct. 25 Monday night game in Dallas. Not that he didn’t appreciate Rolle’s observations.
CONTROL: Rolle asserted that too much in the Giants’ organization is “controlled,” and that players are not set loose to let out their inner “dog.”
Uh, has he met Tom Coughlin? Has he played under any professional coach? With the possible exception of the other guy – oh, you know, the portly fellow who works his team out in Florham Park – there aren’t a lot of coaches around who aren’t control freaks. Some may be nicer about it than others, but they all try to keep a tight rein on their players.
It’s uncertain whether Rolle will continue chatting up the radio hosts in the manner he did Tuesday. But Rolle left no doubt that, in his own way, he was trying to straighten out some issues, be they real or perceived.
“That’s why I said what I said,” Rolle said. “We need to take care of it now. The talent here is, hands down, some of the best I’ve ever been around. This team is loaded.”
“Sometimes that’s good,” cornerback Terrell Thomas said. “Sometimes a guy does that, it’s what’s needed.”
And sometimes it can create unnecessary unrest. The way they play Tennessee this week could go a long way in determining which way Rolle’s comments will roll.