- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Tiki Barber thinks Tom Coughlin is losing his grip on the New York Giants and has a crisis on his hands.
"He is in a crisis because of the perception that he is losing his team," Barber said Thursday morning on a conference call for his induction into the Giants' Ring of Honor on Sunday. "We all know that especially in New York, once the media and the perception becomes a reality, you start fighting against it. And when you are fighting against something that is not necessarily real, you make it real. That is why he is in a crisis."
Barber first said in a video for Yahoo Sports on Wednesday that Coughlin's job is "certainly in jeopardy" because of how the Giants finished last season 3-8 after a 5-0 start. The Giants have lost 10 of their past 14 games dating back to last season.
"He needs to figure out a way to get control of this situation," Barber added on Thursday.
"Whether it is playing better and not making mistakes or whether it is having a group of players like he did in previous years, stand up and take accountability for what is going on, not pushing the blame by saying we should've, we could've, we didn't, saying we played poorly, we need to take responsibility for it."
Barber repeatedly said that he is no longer in the locker room and he doesn't talk as much anymore to current Giants players. But Barber, who has always been forthcoming with his opinion, agreed with former teammate Michael Strahan that the Giants need to have leaders step up in the locker room and help Coughlin.
Like Strahan, Barber didn't always see eye-to-eye with Coughlin over his coaching style and controlling ways. But Barber said Coughlin's coaching is not the issue; it is more about whether the coach has the type of leaders he has had in the past on this current team, which is on a two-game slide and coming off a 29-10 loss to Tennessee after committing 11 penalties, five of which were personal fouls that came after the whistle.
"Tom can get the locker room back by having guys disseminate his message correctly," Barber said. "Tom is a great coach. We all know that. He has been one since his days back at Boston College. Now he has to rely on the troops that he knows to be able get it to the guys, keep it disseminated to the rest of the team and have them believe in it. That is how coaches become successful. It is not so much about X's and O's for a head coach, it is about finding ways to motivate 53 different personalities."
Strahan, one of the 30 former Giants in the Ring of Honor, defended Coughlin and said the Giants' slow start is not his fault and that he needs more help.
The former Pro Bowl defensive end said Coughlin has evolved from a dictator-like coach who rubbed players the wrong way with his strict rules to a head coach who showed more of a human side and developed strong relationships with his players.
"I've never, and I would challenge anyone to this, I have never said that Tom was a bad coach," Barber said. "I think he is a great coach. My issue with him, and he knows what it is because we had plenty of discussions, some civil, some not, is about how you treat people. His biggest evolution is in how he's respected his players and how he's got them to play for him. That is why they won the Super Bowl in 2007. Now, he needs as a team, he needs to find that mutual center of respect and success will come their way."
Coughlin and the Giants have plenty of time to turn things around, Barber said. And there's time for the leaders to develop as they emerge as the team's best players.
"[The Giants] are not losing for lack of talent. They are losing from lack of execution and consistency," Barber said. "They have played two bad games in a row but particularly given what the NFC East is doing right now, save the Eagles, the Giants have as good a chance as anybody."
Barber, who has had his share of controversy during his career, will be in attendance when the Ring of Honor is unveiled at halftime of the Giants' game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday night. The former Pro Bowl running back wonders what kind of reception he will receive.
"I have no idea, I know when I get individual receptions from people on the street, it is always gracious and thankful for the memories that I have provided," Barber said. "I would expect the same but I don't give people grief for their opinion. You guys know I have had plenty of mine. We will see. Time will tell."
19hEric D. Williams