Coughlin talks it out with emotional RB Bradshaw

201210211452535701588-p2.jpeg

Coughlin talks it out with emotional RB Bradshaw

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Playing with emotion makes Ahmad Bradshaw one of the NFL's toughest running backs.

Putting them on display Sunday with the running game struggling came close to getting the New York Giants veteran in big trouble with coach Tom Coughlin.

An angry and frustrated Bradshaw slapped Victor Cruz in the back of the helmet after the receiver missed a block on a third-quarter run, and then screamed at his 66-year-old coach minutes later to run the ball more as the offense went on the field following a Redskins' turnover.

A disciplinarian, Coughlin yelled right back at Bradshaw.

The coach addressed the issue Monday with his No. 1 running back, but would not disclose what was said a day after the Giants (5-2) rallied for a 27-23 win over Washington on a 77-yard pass from Eli Manning to Victor Cruz with 1:13 to play.

``There's never been any question about Ahmad Bradshaw's toughness, his intensity level,'' Coughlin said. ``He plays the game hard. You'd like to have everybody play as hard he plays, to be honest with you. He gives it everything he's got. You want people to recognize that fact, but sometimes you do have to control yourself and control your emotions ... and he's working on it.''

Bradshaw said Coughlin's response was as animated as his, but both men felt it was a heat-of-the-moment exchange.

``That is the thing about this team, we all just want to win and anything we can do to help, I think it helps,'' said Bradshaw, who tossed his helmet after sitting on the bench following the incident.

Bradshaw, who had rushed for a combined 316 yards the previous two games, let his emotions get the best of him in the third quarter of a game in which Washington was stuffing New York's run repeatedly. It started after a 15-yard run to the left, his longest run on an afternoon where he gained 43 yards on 12 carries.

The play had the potential for more, but Cruz missed a downfield block on Washington's Madieu Williams and the safety upended Bradshaw. The running back quickly got up, went right at Cruz and screamed at him while slapping him in the back of the helmet.

Cruz laughed when asked if he suffered a concussion from the hard slap. But he also said he wasn't offended, saying Bradshaw wants the best from everyone on the offense.

``We understand what kind of person Ahmad is and we understand he's emotional and he wears his heart on his sleeve,'' Cruz said. ``He's the pulse of the offense sometimes. The way he runs the ball, he wants the ball every chance he gets. And we understand that. The emotions (are) just what he brings to the table. We respect it. Obviously from the outside looking in, it looks a little iffy.

``But all that matters is what we think about him in this locker room, and (on) the coaching staff.''

Manning said the Giants appreciate how Bradshaw works, especially in a week where he was bothered by a foot injury.

``He does a great job in running hard and I think he thought he had a shot to break even a bigger run on that play,'' Manning said. ``So, he's trying to make sure those guys know that he tries to do everything to protect and give them opportunities to make plays. He wants the same in return.''

Teammates had no problem with Bradshaw's actions.

"Hey, if I'm going to a fight, I'm taking Ahmad with me,'' safety Antrel Rolle said. ``I love that guy, I love his passion, I love the attitude he brings to a game. He's a very emotional guy. Nothing he does is meant to be disturbing to anyone else. It may come across like that, it may not. But we all know Ahmad means the world (to us).

``We ride or die with Ahmad.''

Guard Kevin Boothe said football is an emotional game and players yell at times, noting Bradshaw's blowup drew more attention because he is a high-profile player on a champion team.

``He's the starting running back for the New York Giants,'' Boothe said. ``If he's yelling, I think that draws more attention than if I'm yelling. I think if we're both yelling on the sideline, chances are you guys will pick up Ahmad Bradshaw rather than Kevin Boothe.''

Tight end Martellus Bennett said Bradshaw is the same person whether he's on the field, in the locker room or eating lunch.

``That's why we love him,'' Bennett said. ``I don't know a good adjective to describe him, but Ahmad is Ahmad. That's who he is.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Scott Brooks proved a great fit in his first year with the Wizards

Scott Brooks proved a great fit in his first year with the Wizards

If you had doubts about the 2016-17 Wizards once they flumped out to a 2-8 start back in November, you weren't the only one. Head coach Scott Brooks will even admit, that as confident as he and his team remained during that early season tumble, it wasn't easy.

"The thing that I look back at, is that the start was tough. Let's face it," he said. "We were 2-8 and I didn't really know what I was getting into."

What happened after those 10 games might be Brooks' greatest achievement in his first year in charge of the Wizards. Washington went 14-8 to get back to .500 and then never really looked back. From January 6 until the All-Star break, the Wizards won 18 of 21 games and firmly established themselves as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

Brooks recalls those trying times with an appreciation for how his team responded. John Wall was coming off two knee surgeries and limited by a minutes restriction. The Wizards had turned over most of their 15-man roster. And Brooks was installing a new system with the help of a new coaching and training staff.

Yet, they ultimately righted the ship and put in the best season for the Wizards/Bullets franchise since 1978-79.

"The thing that I really appreciated is that our guys really stuck together, kept believing in one another and kept believing in our system and wanted to keep working for each other," Brooks said. "And our fans stayed with us. That's not always easy to do, either."

[RELATED: Scott Brooks knows one area of Wizards' offense that can improve]

A lot can be leanred through difficult times and Wizards players didn't need long to find out what Brooks was about. Through that dreadful start, he remained steady and never panicked. That resolve did not go unnoticed.

"Just to never quit. Even when we were going through tough times, all of us - the coaching staff, video staff and players - we all came together," Wall said. "We all came in and kept working. Never point the finger at anybody. He always gave us courage and told us that we can compete through anything, through adversity.

The adversity didn't end once they recovered from the 2-8 start. There were other times where Brooks had to bring out what Bradley Beal once described as his "dark side." Often, it would come out at halftime and almost always because of his team's defensive effort.

Brooks is gracious and affable to the media and fans, and is easily to get along with for players as well. But he can set players straight when he needs to with intensity and a fire to win.

"He made us a better defensive team when we showed it and when we didn't, he let us know," Wall said.

The best coaches can find a balance between those sides, to have players generally like them but also dread making them angry. Beal summed up Brooks' approach well.

"I think as a team we respect him," Beal explained. "On the outside of coaching, he's a really down-to-earth guy. He has a relationship with everyone on the team. I think everybody loves that. He holds everybody accountable. Me, I loved him. He granted everybody confidence and freedom on both ends of the floor, especially offense. At the same time, he knows when to have fun and when to be serious... I think we did a good job responding to him whenever he got on us about things."

[RELATED: Will John Wall help recruit free agents to Wizards?]

Brooks, 51, signed a five-year contract worth $35 million to coach the Wizards last April. He replaced Randy Wittman, a coach who had led the Wizards twice to the second round of the playoffs, but missed the postseason entirely in his last year before getting fired. Brooks got the Wizards back to the second round, and by losing in Game 7, took them one game further than they had been in decades.

Over and over during his first season, Brooks was effusive in praising his players and the bright future ahead of them. He loves the opportunity to coach young and improving players like Wall, Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and others.

He says working with the players is part of what he missed most in his one year off after the Oklahoma City Thunder fired him following the 2014-15 season.

"I love this game. I missed everything. When you sit out, you enjoy having time spent with your family and you get to do things that you don't normally get to do during an NBA season. I appreciated that year off and I appreciate being with them, but I missed the competition. I missed being around the players. The players, when you have a good group of guys, you love to come to work. You come to work excited and you have enthusiasm for the day. That's one thing that I missed. When you're not on the bus going to a game, that's not a good feeling. It's great when you have a group of guys that are committed to winning every game. That's fun and something that I don't want to be without," he said.

Brooks is back where he belongs coaching an NBA team. And through one year, so far so good.

[RELATED: 10 best games of the Wizards' 2016-17 season]

Quick Links

Redskins Playbook: 3 under-the-radar players that could make big impact

Redskins Playbook: 3 under-the-radar players that could make big impact

Much of the Redskins offseason has been focused on players like Josh Norman and Kirk Cousins, or the addition of guys like Terrelle Pryor and Zach Brown. Further down the roster, however, is where games are won. Here's a look at three players that will have the opportunity to make a big impact in 2017.

  1. Kendall Fuller - Let's be honest: the second-year Hokie had a tough rookie year. He started the season injured, and probably wasn't all the way up to speed when he began playing Week 4. Early on he produced at a good level for a rookie, but quickly, the league saw how to beat him. In a November game against the Vikings, Fuller repeatedly got beat on the inside by Vikings wideout Stefon Diggs. After that, the Redskins coaching staff looked elsewhere for a slot corner. 2017 is a new season, and Fuller will be a full year removed from his knee injury. He still has good vision and hips, an NFL pedigree, and should have the first crack at the slot corner role. If he can produce like many expected from him in 2015 - when he was an assumed first-round pick - Fuller could make a big difference for the Washington defense. Third round draft pick Fabian Moreau might also push for snaps at corner, once he gets healthy. 
  2. Stacy McGee - A new addition to the defense, McGee might be the answer Redskins fans want at nose tackle. Last season was by the far the best of McGee's career, and he emerged as a strong run stopper in Oakland. With his frame, and Jim Tomsula's coaching, McGee might play a big role this fall. His biggest hurdle? Staying healthy. In four seasons in the NFL, McGee has only played 16 games one season. Last year, he was limited to just nine games.
  3. Spencer Long - A free agent at the end of the season, Long comes in to 2017 looking to prove he can be a top tier center in the NFL. He excelled in pass blocking and calling the assignments on the Redskins line, but his run blocking could improve this fall. The literal centerpiece of a strong, young 'Skins line, 2017 will be a big opportunity for Long. Don't forget Washington moved up to draft Chase Roullier from Wyoming in the 6th round, and he played center and guard in college. Life in the NFL always has pressure, and Long will be facing some.

Always something on social: Enjoy the weekend folks.

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back