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Giants frustrated but hopeful after 9-7 mark

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Giants frustrated but hopeful after 9-7 mark

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) There is an obvious reason why the New York Giants went from a Super Bowl champion to a frustrated team that missed the playoffs.

It's consistency. Tom Coughlin's team lacked it in 2012 despite finishing with the same 9-7 record as a year ago when a late rush took them to their second title in five seasons.

This year there was no late rush. Just two bad games against Atlanta and Baltimore that cost the Giants control of their playoff destiny and ultimately left them cleaning out their lockers on Monday despite a season-ending 42-7 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

It was a far cry from a year ago when the Giants cleaned out their lockers and then boarded buses for a trip down the Canyon of Heroes in New York City.

``Emotionally it's not an easy day under any circumstances,'' said the 66-year-old Coughlin, who clearly is looking forward to returning next season. ``To not be in the playoffs is not what we expected when the season began.''

It certainly wasn't what the Giants expected after opening the first half of the year with a 6-2 record.

However, the second half was much different. New York started it by blowing a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead against Pittsburgh. They were embarrassed by Cincinnati the following week and later threw in consecutive no-show efforts in a 34-0 loss to Atlanta and a 33-14 debacle in Baltimore.

The team had two very different personalities.

When they played like a Super Bowl contender, the Giants were awesome. They beat San Francisco 26-3 and had wins over Green Bay 38-10, New Orleans 52-27 and Philadelphia 42-7 in the second half, too.

``The bar is set very high here,'' general manager Jerry Reese said. ``We didn't get the job done. I wish I had something clever to give you guys but that's the soup and nuts. We didn't get the job done.''

The Giants have some work to do in the offseason. They have almost two dozen restricted or unrestricted free agents, including several starters on both sides of the ball - tackle Will Beatty, guard Kevin Boothe, tight end Martellus Bennett, receiver Victor Cruz (restricted), linebacker Chase Blackburn, safety Stevie Brown (restricted), safety Kenny Phillips and kicker Lawrence Tynes.

Players said the front office doesn't need to tweak too much, especially with quarterback Eli Manning coming back. He is the lynchpin of an offense that scored 429 points, the second most in franchise history. The offensive line kept Manning clean much of the year and paved the way for Ahmad Bradshaw to have his second 1,000-yard rushing season. Cruz had another big year with 86 catches for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns

The defense seemingly needs more help after finishing near the bottom of the league in the regular season. The pass rush that carried New York last season wasn't there all the time and the run defense was pathetic at times, allowing an average of 129.1 yards.

There are several players who could be on the bubble. Offensive tackle David Diehl could become a salary cap casualty and there is no guarantee that Bradshaw will be back after rookie David Wilson played so well late. New York also has to hope that receiver Hakeem Nicks finally gets over the foot and knee problems that limited him all season, taking away one of Manning's favorite targets.

``Anytime we don't win the Super Bowl it's a disappointing year, so this is a disappointing year,'' defensive captain Justin Tuck said. ``So was the year before the Super Bowl. The thing I understand about the game is you play to win Super Bowls. You don't play the game to get playoffs berths. Yes, we would love to be in the playoffs, don't get me wrong but that's not the end goal. I would rather not make the playoffs than make the Super Bowl final and lose it.''

Tuck, who said he had a bad year, insists the Giants aren't in the same boat as teams that won two games this past season.

``We still have a quality football team, a team that I feel very confident that if we would have gotten in the playoffs, we would have made a run,'' he said. ``It's funny. We got on a run late year and played well those last six games. It seems to me, playing well against a division foe (the Eagles) yesterday, we started a little too late. Hopefully that will be something we can build on in this offseason.''

Manning looked upon the season as a wasted opportunity.

``We had a three-game lead at one point in the division, and down the stretch, we couldn't hold onto it,'' he said. ``It was up to us. We had to win. We had to play our best football, and we couldn't do it. There's no one to blame, or no one to look at except ourselves. That's disappointing.''

And that sums up the season.

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Wizards' John Wall reveals he's about to start jogging in rehab from Achilles injury

Wizards' John Wall reveals he's about to start jogging in rehab from Achilles injury

A couple of weeks ago, John Wall was spotted at a Washington Mystics game with no brace to support his Achilles injury, a sign that his rehab from the injury was moving in the right direction. 

On Monday night at the 2019 NBA Awards, the Wizards point guard gave affirmation that he is indeed continuing to get healthier and stronger.

"I feel great, man," Wall told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller on the red carpet. "I'm doing a great job with my body, taking care of that."

Specifically, Wall has been able to slowly increase what he can do on his legs. The recovery and rehab for an injury as severe as his is a long road, and the point guard is making sure not to speed up the process and risk hindering the progress. However, he's about to reach a pretty big milestone in the journey during the coming weeks.

"I'm about to start jogging in like two weeks. Just riding the bike, I get to do exercises standing up now, so I don't have to sit down. I'm able to move, do ladder steps, doing those types of things," Wall said. "Just taking my time and progressing and letting everything heal the right way so I don't force myself back and get another injury."

As Wall continues to work to get back on the court, he's had plenty of motivational factors pushing him through some grueling months. His recent string of injuries have left some wondering if he'll still be an elite player when he finally.

He's heard those comments and he's using them to his advantage.

"I'm one of those guys that's very driven by all the hate and all the negative talk I'm getting. Keep it going," Wall said.

"Everybody said I can't be myself, I won't be nowhere near as good again. That's all the other stuff that's going to fuel me. I don't get upset about it, you're entitled to your own opinion. Please keep it going."

The haters have given Wall some extra juice, but so has his son Ace. Spending the offseason getting right has allowed Wall to work in another area of life: fatherhood.

The newest addition to his family has taken his desire for greatness to new heights.

"I've always had that drive that I want to be the greatest. To have a son like that, that's watching everything I can do. Even though he doesn't understand what's going on, he's putting memories in his head," Wall said. 

"So that gives me extra, extra motivation to another level I never thought I could. Like I said before, that's the best blessing a man could ever ask for is to have a son."

While Wall's offseason has been a busy one as he juggles rehab and being a dad, he's still been very involved in everything going on inside the franchise.

He's already chatted with first-round draft pick Rui Hachimura, and is excited for what is to come for the Wizards. Wall is also hoping that Hachimura will help improve his Japanese so that he can grow a larger following internationally. 

As the calendar slowly turns to July, both Wall and the Wizards' offseasons will ramp up. It's been an up and down time for both lately, but he's excited about the future.

"I think it's good," Wall said about the Wizards situation. "We added some pieces. See what we do in free agency to add some guys to bring back or we're going to go after somebody new. I think we'll be fine."

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Bradley Beal wins the 2019 NBA Cares Community Assist Award three years after John Wall

Bradley Beal wins the 2019 NBA Cares Community Assist Award three years after John Wall

While he was putting together the best season of his career, Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal was also making a profound impact off the court and those efforts have earned him a significant honor, the NBA's 2018-19 Community Assist Award.

The news was revealed at Monday's NBA Awards in Santa Monica, CA as Beal got the nod over nine other finalists. He is the second Wizards player to win the honor in just the last four years following John Wall in 2015-16.

Beal was involved in a variety of charitable efforts this past season. He has partnered with the Ron Brown College Preparatory High School in Northeast Washington to help underprivileged youth. He visited the school in December and gave out shoes.

During the All-Star break in February, as he made his second appearance in the annual showcase, Beal handed out meals at a food bank alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. This past year he also gave out Christmas presents in the Washington area and took a group of kids on a tour of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

Beal was named a finalist for the Community Assist Award in April along with Jarrett Allen (Nets), Mike Conley (Jazz), Khris Middleton (Bucks), Donovan Mitchell (Jazz), Dwight Powell (Mavs) and Pascal Siakam (Raptors). Part of the criteria was based on fan voting through social media that was held from April 24 through May 25.

Beal, 25, continues to ascend on the court as well. This year he posted career-highs in points (25.6/g), assists (5.5/g) and rebounds (5.0/g). He nearly made All-NBA in late May with the most votes of any guard that was left out.

In Beal and Wall, the Wizards have quite the combination. Both have been All-Stars on the court and now both can say they won the NBA's top honor for charity work as well.

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