Can Fassel Fix Giants' Woes?


Despite its inconsistency, Jim Fassel isn't changing the New York Giants' offense and its players, at least for now.

So don't expect to see either the underachieving Tyrone Wheatley take over at halfback or the Giants (2-3) drop their inept running game and switch to a more pass-oriented offense on Sunday night when former coach Dan Reeves returns to Giants Stadium with the Atlanta Falcons (3-1).

"I've just got to continue to play with the Rubik's Cube to figure it out, and I always do that," Fassel said in reviewing the Giants' 20-3 loss to Tampa Bay. "That's just my nature. I don't throw up my hands."

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    Tampa Bay 20, New York 3

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  • Surrendering might have been understandable after the offense's performance against the Bucs on Sunday.

    The unit had 135 total yards, eight first downs and 21:05 in time of possession. Two of Danny Kanell's three interceptions led to 10 early points for Tampa Bay, including a touchdown on Charles Mincy's 22-yard interception return on the third play from scrimmage. The third interception led to the Bucs' last TD.

    Fassel, who calls the plays, planned to spend a late evening with his offensive staff on Monday.

    "We're going to go over everything with a fine-tooth comb," Fassel said. "Everything we're doing, the approach, how we're practicing, how we're presenting it. Somewhere the translation is not being made when the pressure is on us."

    The offensive statistics for five games are pitiful. New York has averaged 233. yards, including 75.6 rushing.

    Other than Gary Brown's 66-yard game against San Diego on Sept. 27, no running back has gained more than 37 yards in a game. Fullback Charles Way, who led the team with 698 yards rushing last year, had one carry for no yards on Sunday. He has 105 yards on 35 carries for the season.

    Wheatley, who was not active for the first two games this season because of a weight problem, did not dress again on Sunday because Fassel wanted an extra back for his banged up secondary. The Giants' first-round pick in 1995 has carried the ball seven times for 23 yards this season.

    While it also might seem a good idea to throw the ball more since the line has allowed only nine sacks, Fassel is reluctant to use the passing game to open up the run.

    "You can say: `I'll try this and I'll try that'," Fassel said. "Sometimes you don't get good at anything. You just keep grasping at straws. If you know your team and you know what they can do and what they can't do, then you just try to keep focusing in on that."

    Fassel, who replaced Reeves as the Giants coach after the 1996 season, said that was the approach he used last year in turning around the Giants after a 1-3 start and leading them to the NFC East title.

    The one bright spot for Fassel was the play of the defense, which didn't give a touchdown until the final minutes.

    "It would be nice to have an offense that could go out and score 35 points in a heartbeat like Denver," All Pro defensive end Michael Strahan said Monday. "We don't have that, so we really have to concentrate and try to make things happen and get our team going."

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