EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Don’t expect the New York Giants to roll out the red carpet for former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano on his return to New Jersey as Buccaneers coach.
The Super Bowl champions are miffed after a dismal performance in their nationally televised 24-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the kickoff to the NFL season. They need to get back on track against the Bucs (1-0).
Waiting 10 days to play hasn’t helped Tom Coughlin’s team, either. They’re antsy, anxious and ready to hit someone.
“This is how we are after we lose,” running back Ahmad Bradshaw said. “Everybody is out to win. Everybody has something to prove. That’s what we take this week as, and that’s the approach we take going into the next game. Get over the loss and get ready for the next game — be motivated, have a lot of energy and be ready to win.”
Schiano, who took the Scarlet Knights to six bowls in his final seven seasons, got off to a good start with a 16-10 win over Carolina in his NFL head coaching debut.
It was an impressive performance. His offense did not have any turnovers. The defense tied a franchise record by limiting the Panthers to 10 yards rushing, and special teams blocked a punt.
That was at home, though. This will be on the road against a much better team.
“They’re the world champs,” Tampa Bay left tackle Donald Penn said. “After that loss last week, they’re going to be coming back. It’s going to be a tough one. It’s going to be a lot of hitting in the mouth.”
Schiano can’t afford to get too sentimental about his return home, although this will be an emotional game for him. It will be the first time he has coached in MetLife Stadium since Eric LeGrand was paralyzed making a tackle on a kickoff in a game against Army in 2010.
LeGrand, signed by the Bucs after the draft and then retired, also plans to attend.
“It’s just a good New Jersey thing, and a good thing overall for football,” said Schiano, who vividly recalls driving to his grandmother’s home in nearby Rutherford and seeing the now-replaced Giants Stadium being built.
The focal this week is keeping the Giants winless.
New York struggled on both sides of the ball against Dallas. Eli Manning was limited to 213 yards passing and the offense had the ball for roughly 26 minutes. The defense gave up 433 yards and ends Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora failed to get a sack. The Giants’ two sacks were made by defensive tackles Rocky Bernard and Linval Joseph.
“When we have opportunities to make some plays, we’ve got to do that,” Manning said. “It’s just pick up the intensity a little bit, have a great practice, have a great work ethic and know the game plan. When we get out there Sunday, just go play hard and there’s going to be opportunities to make some plays.”
The Bucs will have a little extra help preparing for the Giants this week.
Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan was the Giants’ quarterbacks coach last season and a member of Coughlin’s coaching staff for both Super Bowl wins in the past five seasons. Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan was the team’s linebackers coach in the first Super Bowl win and its defensive coordinator the following season.
Schiano said the flip side is the Giants know what to expect from his coordinators.
Coughlin and his staff have looked for insight on Schiano by watching videotapes of his days at Rutgers. His offenses in college were fairly conservative and looked that way in the opener. Josh Freeman threw 24 times for 138 yards and rookie running back Doug Martin carried 24 times for 95 yards.
Defensively, the Bucs used a plethora of formations and showed a lot of speed.
“That’s what he’s been preaching,” said Ronde Barber, who was moved to safety by Schiano. “You play fast; you get your assignments down. He has a way of making sure every detail is taken care of, and that you’re very prepared. When you have that feeling as a player, you can go out and play fast. We look forward to that every week.”
In the opening week, it allowed Schiano to walk off the field a winner.
“I never really even thought about it,” Schiano said. “It’s just one of those things where you’re doing your job. It was nice after the game to take a deep breath and say: ‘Ok, now let’s get out of the frying pan into the fryer. Super Bowl champs next.’”