Safety Says Team Played Hard For Coughlin Throughout Weak Season

NEW YORK (WFAN) — As far as Antrel Rolle is concerned, the Giants’ disappointing 2013 season has not been about messages not getting through, locker room strife or divisiveness, the things the media love to point to first.

He said it has all boiled down to the old standbys — dedication, focus and execution.

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“When you look at certain individuals you see people out there giving their all, busting their butt every single play. Then other times you don’t see that. At the end of the day those players need to look in the mirror and hold themselves accountable,” Rolle said. “And as a team you need everyone to do that. Not just Eli, not just Tuck, not just coach Coughlin, not myself, but everyone. That’s the only time I’ve ever seen us win in this league, when we were all on the same page with the same mentality ready to fight for the brother next to him.”

The Giants (5-9) are playing for pride over the next two weeks, starting Sunday in Detroit. Rolle told WFAN’s Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on Tuesday that the team has struggled all season to get maximum production from all 53 players on the roster.

“We are just very inconsistent. Sometimes we got out there and play good ball and sometimes we go out there and give the game away. We have to find a ground level where we can go out there and no matter what happens, through the ups and the downs, we still go out there and compete like we’ve never competed before,” Rolle said.

The Giants’ safety said the blame being hurled in Manning’s direction is understandable, not because the 10-year veteran actually deserves all the blame for his league-high 25 interceptions, but because he has the biggest of bull’s-eyes on his back and criticism comes with the territory.

“I think we’ve all had moments like that within our career,” Rolle said. “This is a down year for Eli. I think anyone of us who watches football understands that,  but as his teammate and his brother we’re going to continue to encourage him, because this is a guy who we know what he’s capable of. That’s something that’s proven. In my eyes he still is and will remain an elite quarterback.

“Eli is the quarterback. He gets the big bucks. He’s the face of the franchise. Of course, he’s going to take the heat. That’s the reality. That comes with the territory and I think we all understand it,” Rolle added.

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Manning threw five picks in the Giants’ non-competitive 23-0 loss to visiting Seattle on Sunday, a margin of defeat that easily could have been a lot worse. Big Blue enjoyed but chosen few plays from scrimmage on the Seahawks’ side of the 50. Rolle said Big Blue needs to study the Seahawks, because not too long ago the NFC leaders were a lot like the Giants are now, lacking swagger.

“Seattle was not this good three years ago. They developed a mindset,” Rolle said. “Seattle understands we’re gonna play as a group, any way you wanna play. They call a penalty, they call a penalty. It doesn’t matter. We’re just going to try to kick the other team’s ass. This game is about passion, about heart, about desire, it’s about going out there trying to get a win at all cost.”

Rolle said a lot has been made of the Giants’ struggles running the football, which has, in turn, put more strain on Manning to carry the offense. Throw in the facts that Hakeem Nicks has had a terrible season and injuries have taken a toll on both sides of the ball, and it’s easy to see why things have gone the way they have.

“This season is an eye-opener, to everyone. Obviously, some things need to be shaken up and that’s the reality of it,” Rolle said.

Rolle defended Coughlin’s handling of the team, saying nobody has quit on him.

“I don’t think anyone on our team would be that selfish of a player to clock out,” Rolle said. “There was never any division coming out of the locker room. The media is the media. They have their way of writing things and putting a spin on things. As professionals, and as teammates, we have a way of talking and getting points across without ever getting personal. It was never anything personal.

“The funny thing with losing is everyone starts looking to find reasons why. This is the same coach that won in 2007, the same coach that won in 2011. This is the same coach with the same tactics and same approach. To be honest, coach Coughlin is a very, very, very fiery guy, so if players are tuning him out, I really don’t see that happening,” Rolle added.

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