Every week during the season, we’ll scout out the Giants' next opponent. This week, that opponent is the Cleveland Browns.
It's never that hard to remember that Tom Coughlin was once a college head coach.
His rules about meeting start times and fondness for quasi-inspirational quips are hallmarks of the college game, even though he's smoothed out a lot of the rough edges in terms of communication that followed him from Boston College way back when. There was another reminder on Wednesday when Coughlin was given the chance to talk about the 0-4 Cleveland Browns, losers of 10 straight games overall, who visit MetLife Stadium this Sunday.
No one can pump up a weak opponent like a college coach -- "Brandeis has the kind of offense that keeps you up at night" -- and Coughlin did a little tapdancing during his Wednesday press conference.
"Don't be misled by Cleveland's record. They're a good young team. They played tough in all of their games," Coughlin said.
By definition, good teams are not those that play tough in all of their games while also losing them. That is what you call a flawed team that at least tries to make up in effort what they lack in talent.
Even with injuries to Hakeem Nicks and Kenny Phillips, the Browns are the kind of team that the Giants should blow out without much strain this weekend. Cleveland is one of the worst teams in the league by just about any metric you want to use to judge a football team's performance.
This is where the whole Giants making things harder on themselves than they need to comes into play because there's really no reasonable way to argue that the Browns can hang with the Giants on anything other than the Giants' worst days. Those days have come against weak opponents in the past few years, though, and, given the rest of the schedule, it would be a very inopportune time for another one.
If the Browns do pull off the upset, some of the following names will be the reason why. As you'll see, some of them are also the reason why this would be such a monumental flop by the Giants.
Brandon Weeden/Trent Richardson: The first-round rookies have stepped right into the starting lineup and each has flashed ability at moments through the first four games. There have also been a lot of mistakes, though, and the Browns can't rely on Weeden winning them any games by himself just yet. Keeping Richardson in better check than LeSean McCoy will go a long way.
Joe Thomas: With the sale of the team to Jimmy Haslam and another massive shift in front office/coaching on the horizon, it feels more plausible that we'll look back at Thomas' career as a player who got robbed of the chance of playing for a good team. That would be too bad, so, for now, savor the Cleveland left tackle's matchup with the Giants defensive ends.
Pass Rush: The Browns don't have anyone who jumps out at you as an elite pass rusher, but they have 12 sacks through four games this season. That's four more than the Giants and essential to their chances on defense because there's not much chance of the Joe Haden-less secondary hanging with Eli and company.
Perpetual Rebuilding: As mentioned in the Thomas note, this team has just been sold and will likely clean house after the season in hopes of finding the combination that finally works in Cleveland. It's the polar opposite of the way the Giants do business and a pretty perfect explanation as to their different fates over the years.