Giants Coach Tom Coughlin was one of Tiki Barber's favorite topics in his playing days, and nothing has changed in retirement.
Barber, the Giants' all-time leading rusher, says his former coach is facing a crisis because of the perception that he is losing the team after two straight one-sided losses. Barber, who had his share of blowups with Coughlin before retiring after the 2006 season, noted that once the perception appears in the media, it becomes reality.
"When you're fighting against something that's not necessarily real, you make it real," Barber said Thursday in an interview to publicize his induction into the Giants' new Ring of Honor. "That's why he's at a crisis. He needs to figure out a way to get control of the situation."
The Giants are coming off a 29-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans in which they turned the ball over three times and were called for 11 penalties, including five personal fouls.
Coughlin doesn't buy it.
"We are determined," he said. "We have great resolve."
Defensive captain Justin Tuck, for one, stood up for Coughlin, up to a point. Tuck said he has no problems with Coughlin or his style of coaching that stresses discipline and accountability. He refused to comment about Barber's statement but agreed Coughlin has evolved as a coach.
"When I first got here, he wasn't the coach he is now," Tuck said. "For obvious reasons he has seen some things that he has tried out and been successful and implemented them into his coaching."
Faint praise indeed.
The frustration is starting to build in Cincinnati.
Three lackluster games by the Bengals' offense is starting to bother their reality-show wide receivers and the quarterback cast in the role of ringmaster. The only thing keeping the frustration at a simmer is the team's record: The Bengals have managed to win two games with solid defense and a lot of field goals. Still, the lack of points is getting everyone a little on edge.
"It's one of those things where it's frustrating for myself, but I've got to keep plugging away," said Terrell Owens, who has 14 catches for 152 yards without a touchdown. "I'm not going to gripe. The most important thing, as I've alluded to here, is we're winning. If we were losing, then I would definitely have a lot to say."
It's so bad that Chad Ochocinco has eased off on the taunting.
"I usually start the trash talking, but the offense has been really stagnant so I have to back off of that a little bit," he said.
Good for you.
Surely it's time for Clinton Portis to lodge a complaint. After all, the Redskins running back logged only one carry in the second half of last week's game, and he's got a history of lashing out when he thinks he's getting a raw deal.
Nothing doing. Portis said he doesn't have an answer for his light workload in Sunday's loss to the Rams.
"I come to work, I clock in like you do," Portis said Thursday. "I'm motivated to do my job. . . . I consider myself the feature back, one of the best backs, and I'm going to always feel that way."
Yep. Only a matter of time. Look for him sometime after Sunday's game against the Eagles.
Bills linebacker Aaron Maybin won't dispute he hasn't played to anyone's expectations two seasons into what was supposed to be a promising career. The stats tell it all: One quarterback hit, no sacks or pressures, and limited playing time over 19 games isn't exactly the type of production the Bills were looking for when they took the Penn State product 11th overall in last year's draft.
"I still have some work to do," Maybin said this week as the Bills (0-3) prepare to host the AFC East rival New York Jets (2-1) on Sunday. "I think I'm man enough to admit that I can look myself in the mirror and say that."