ENGLEWOOD – New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin, usually not a fan of lighthearted comedy, remarked to the New York media that even the coffee in the office tasted better this week after his team broke a four-game losing streak.
Everyone loves winning, of course. But how does a losing streak in the NFL feel? Denver Broncos safety Brian Dawkins compared it to surgery.
The Broncos and Giants, who meet today, have experienced a large dose of winning and losing already this season. New York started 5-0, Denver started 6-0, and then both endured a four-game losing streak. The biggest difference is the Giants have the taste of winning again after an overtime victory against Atlanta last week. The Broncos are still stuck in a losing streak, which is a miserable existence.
“If you’re to talk to family and friends, when things are good, on a six-game winning streak, everybody’s happy, everybody’s talking – it’s chummy,” defensive end Vonnie Holliday said. “When you’re losing, there just has to be a different approach. Nobody wants to be a loser.
“Maybe I’m not returning as many phone calls as I was before, maybe not returning as many texts. I’m really focused on trying to fix the problem.”
The mood is usually more serious in a NFL locker room after a loss. The music is quieter, the jokes are rarer. Giants quarterback Eli Manning said one win can change the entire attitude.
“Everybody is smiling a little bit easier, everybody is excited about the win and how things are going,” Manning said. “When you start losing it’s easy to get down a little bit. Things aren’t as enjoyable. People aren’t laughing as easy. You’re practicing the same, preparing the same, going through the same steps, but it’s not as fun when you’re not winning.”
A staple of a losing streak is a players-only meeting, and the Broncos reached that point Tuesday. Running back Correll Buckhalter said he thought meetings help, because it allows anyone from a captain to a practice-squad player to get up and speak their mind. He said it allows players to speak from the heart, and gets players back on the same page.
Cornerback Champ Bailey didn’t seem to be moved.
"What's going to encourage me more is if we play better,” Bailey said. “It's not really what people say, it's what they do."
Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said the toughest thing about guiding a team during a losing streak is staying the course and not dramatically altering what you believe in.
Dawkins thought the only way a team could get out of a tailspin is with a positive attitude.
“You’ve heard the same thing about people going in for surgery or whatever,” Dawkins said. “Your attitude and what you are thinking about that surgery coming out of it and your healing process and how quick you heal has a lot to do with your attitude in the midst of it. It’s no different here.”
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