EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Tom Coughlin can still hear Bill Parcells’s voice - puzzled, agitated, and completely OK at the same time.
Coughlin was the Giants wide receivers coach, Bill Belichick coached the secondary, and they always found something to work on, something specific and minuscule.
Something like Red Zone one-on-one drills.
Over and over.
“We worked very well together,’’ Coughlin recalled. “I think that’s the thing that is most important. We cooperated well, our players cooperated well, we did a lot together.’’
Coughlin and Belichick spent two years together in New York, disciples of Parcells. Belichick climbed the ranks via special teams and defense. Coughlin was on the offensive side of the ball.
“It was a good time,’’ Coughlin said. “The whole staff was a good staff.’’
They have both had success as head coaches. Coughlin molded the Jaguars into the most successful expansion franchise the league has seen. In New York, he has guided the Giants to two Super Bowls, beating Belichick’s seemingly unbeatable Patriots in Super Bowl XLII four years ago.
Belichick’s legacy is cemented, with three Super Bowl titles in New England.
Coughlin remembers that Belichick was as meticulous then as he is now. The difference now is that he has his hands in every pot, not just defense.
“Bill is an outstanding football coach who has his finger on everything that goes on there and does an exceptional job planning in his own right,’’ Coughlin said.
Getting a jump
Victor Cruz’s face twisted up when he saw Eli Manning’s name pop up on the phone many months ago.
The players were locked out, the season was in jeopardy, but Manning was looking for a wide receiver to work out with him at Hoboken High.
Manning started organizing the workouts for the offense last May, and Cruz, who had been injured the previous season, jumped on the opportunity.
“I just took advantage of it,’’ Cruz said. “It was huge for me for my confidence just to have him call me.’’
Cruz, a University of Massachusetts product, had a breakout season in 2011, setting a franchise record for receiving yards (1,536), and he thinks the offseason workouts helped jump-start him.
“It was good to hear the terminology, the play-calling, and knocking the dust off your legs getting some route running in,’’ he said. “I think it was productive.
“I think around the third or fourth time out there is when it started getting really intense and we really started getting some good work done. I think it was definitely beneficial for us.’’
Hakeem Nicks, Kevin Boss, and D.J. Ware also turned out for the involuntary workout.
“I think it was productive,’’ Manning said. “I’m not trying to say that was the reason we’ve reached the Super Bowl, but I definitely think we got some work done.’’
Cruz was at every throwing session, and Manning doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that he had the season he did.
“I’d like to think that that work paid off and we got better,’’ said Manning. “We got to talk over some things and decisions. I’d like to think that the work that we did during that time helped guys have a better understanding of our offense.”
Center David Baas (abdomen/neck), linebacker Chase Blackburn (calf), defensive back Will Blackmon (knee), running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), Nicks (shoulder), cornerback Corey Webster (hamstring), and linebacker Jacquian Williams (foot) all missed practice yesterday. Defensive end Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee) was limited and safety Tyler Sash (concussion) participated in full. Coughlin said he wanted to take advantage of the bye week. “We’re trying to be smart and not aggravate something that is there that will be able to be managed in a short amount of time and make sure that there is nothing else that happens,’’ Coughlin said . . . Asked if he were observing any superstitions with the Giants on a five-game winning streak, Coughlin said, “Superstitious? Me? I haven’t changed my so-and-sos in about three or four weeks, but other than that . . .’’Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.