Giants downplay frustration on the sideline in loss to Cowboys

ByJordan Raanan ESPN logo
Tuesday, November 14, 2023

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- So this is what 2-8 looks like. The New York Giants are getting blown out by 30-plus points, players are losing their composure and directing their anger at coaches on the sideline, and coach Brian Daboll is conducting his postgame news conference as if there isn't a five-alarm fire.

The Giants lost 49-17 on Sunday to the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. It was their sixth loss this season by two touchdowns or more. "Embarrassed" was a word that was used by more than one player.

"It's definitely tough right now losing like that, getting embarrassed week after week," running back Saquon Barkley said. "But you have to be a man about it. Obviously you can be in your feelings for a short time, but you have to get ready for next week. That's the NFL."

What punctuated the embarrassment -- aside from it being at the hands of the rival Cowboys and Jerry Jones -- were the incidents on their sideline. Barkley had a conversation with Daboll after failing to convert a fourth down in the first quarter. Fox sideline reporter Tom Rinaldi called it "animated."

Barkley wouldn't say after the game exactly what it was about, and he sidestepped a question about whether it was specifically the playcall, but he did admit it was the result of frustration.

"We didn't get the fourth-and-3. Was I frustrated we didn't get it? Yes. So maybe that was a sign of frustration, but there was nothing like [it being animated]. It happens. It's football."

The cameras also showed wide receivers Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard yelling angrily on the sideline. It wasn't at each other. Instead, Slayton admitted afterward he let his emotions get the best of him and expressed his frustration in the direction of wide receivers coach Mike Groh.

This one was termed a "spirited conversation."

"I don't know what the cameras caught," Slayton said. "I'm sure it kind of looked combative to me and [Shepard], but it wasn't in the moment. I was just already worked up. I was just talking emotionally, but at that point, I really don't remember what I was saying. We weren't arguing back and forth. We were talking about the same thing, spiritedly."

And are things OK with Groh and his players?

"We spoke after the fact," Slayton said. "Like I said, it was me that initiated it. I said that I have to control my emotions better in those moments, and we're good."

Daboll and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale had an extended conversation heading into halftime that continued when they came out of the locker room, according to Rinaldi.

Again, Daboll downplayed it after the game.

"Wink, Sunday?" Daboll said. "There is interaction every game. No different. Standard."

This all comes on the heels of safety Xavier McKinney venting his frustration with the coaching staff after last week's 30-6 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. The Giants were blown out by the rival Cowboys for the second time this season, and several veterans on the defense, including McKinney and Dexter Lawrence (both captains), declined to talk after Sunday's game.

These are all bad signs for a core that has gone down this path before (see 2021 for the most recent dysfunction). It's something that needs to be monitored, perhaps rectified before it gets worse.

"Look, I'd say this, we should make no excuses about where we're at," Daboll said Monday. "I own it. So, I've got to do a better job all the way around, and that's what we are going to work towards."

The Giants head into Washington as 10-point underdogs.

"I like it. Obviously everyone is frustrated with losing. I don't think anyone wants to lose," linebacker Bobby Okereke said after the game. "And I think everyone has pride. I think a lot of that frustration comes individually. I know me, guys on defense, guys on offense, everyone knows we can play better to help us win. So when I see that, I think it's just passionate people trying to fix the problem.

"You know we talked about it today: You're either part of the problem or part of the solution. I think we all want to be part of the solution. It's how do we all cohesively get there."