Commentary

Leadership remains concern for Giants

Lack of dominant locker room presence beginning to cast shadow over season

Updated: September 24, 2010, 9:24 AM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- As the New York Giants dispersed off the practice field and into the locker room like kids ready to bolt after the sound of the school bell ringing, three players remained behind to huddle with their head coach.

Captains Eli Manning, Justin Tuck and Chase Blackburn talked to head coach Tom Coughlin for several moments on the field before finally heading into the locker room.

While the meeting was a routine one done once a week, leadership has been a hot-button topic around the Giants this week in light of Antrel Rolle's comments about his concern with a lack of leadership during the Giants' 38-14 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 2.

Going into their game this week against Tennessee, the talk has been more about what's going on inside the Giants' locker room rather than stopping Chris Johnson.

Tuck doesn't have a problem with Rolle expressing any concerns about the Giants' leadership or lack thereof.

But like Coughlin, Tuck just wishes the veteran safety had come to him with any issues rather than mention it on air during a radio interview.

"The only thing I was upset about was that he didn't come to me first," said Tuck, the defensive captain of the team. "We are a team. We will talk. We haven't talked. I will figure out what exactly he meant by what he did. If he got a problem with how I lead, that is fine, that is his opinion. None of us are perfect. I'm not going to sit here and say I am the best leader. When I make a mistake, I own up to it and obviously against the Colts we didn't do a good job of leadership because the score reflected that."

Tuck is still learning how to be a captain and how to handle all the different personalities he must lead on defense.

He isn't in the mold of a Michael Strahan or Antonio Pierce. He isn't fiery or outspoken.

"I look at leadership in a different light," Tuck explained. "Strahan and AP are very talkative. I'm not. I think people misunderstand me when I say that I lead by a different example. Today's generation has gotten so accustomed to hearing themselves speak. I like to go out on the football field and lay my body, heart and soul on the line and I rather lead by example."

During the Colts' loss, Tuck wanted to take a step back and see how his defense reacted and handled adversity. In hindsight, he admits he probably would ask the defense to huddle after the first drive after seeing how the unit came out a little flat. "I don't think there was enough fight, I don't think there was enough being said, I don't think there was enough attitude, enough anger towards getting your butt whooped the way we were getting whooped," Rolle said. "And that was my problem."

"I just felt like there wasn't enough leadership," added Rolle, who joined the team this year after signing a five-year, $37 million deal. "It's going to be fixed. I want to nip it in the bud now before things prolong."

While some players disagreed, others think it was good for Rolle to say something and bring attention to it.

Leadership has been a major concern entering this season with Pierce gone. Coughlin believes he has the right leaders in place to guide the team through troubled times. He even eliminated the leadership council, which consisted of several players. It was started back in 2007 but it ended after last season when Coughlin felt it was largely ineffective during the Giants' 8-8 collapse.

Tuck, Manning and Blackburn are pretty much the leadership council now, although there are still several veterans in the locker room that they will rely on.

"We have a lot of guys in this locker room that have been in a lot of wars and been on other teams and have seen it," Tuck said. "You get new players and they work one way and then, like an old person, they get stuck in their ways. But it is a Giant way, and we are going to do it the Giants way and we are going to figure out a way this year."

"Super Bowl year was one way, we went 11-1 and it was another way. We will figure it out. We will be OK. It's been two games. It is kind of comical to me that we are discussing this right now."

Tuck said he plans on talking to players on the offense, defense and special teams to find ways to improve this team. He also plans to talk to Rolle, who simply was voicing concerns he has about the team before it's too late.

Tuck, though, is not going to panic. He says the Giants' way, Coughlin's way, has worked before and it will work again.

"That is not a fault to Antrel or anybody else," Tuck said. "He won a lot of games in Arizona and they did well out there and they did it a certain way. You can't fault him for believing in a certain way. But the simple fact is this, we won a lot of games here too and it's a Giant way. I think Coach Coughlin did a great job of trying to get everybody on the same page. We went down this road before when this locker room has been divided and we know what happened."

"We came out flat and we didn't have that energy that we did against Carolina," he added. "Maybe we did stay in the locker room too long, as Antrel said. We will start getting it right. I'm not worried. I still believe in Perry Fewell's system and everything we have on this team."

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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