Handley and Hostetler at odds


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants coach Ray Handley called a special meeting Monday with quarterback Jeff Hostetler to try to clear the air about some criticisms Handley made about Hostetler's play. But based on Hostetler's comments yesterday, the purification process appears far from complete.

Handley and Hostetler met privately for about 10 minutes to address Hostetler's feelings on a number of issues. The two talked about plays from Sunday's 13-10 win over the Cleveland Browns, and also about some of the concerns Hostetler may have been having about the Giants' stumbling offense, which has produced only 59 points in four games.

But if Handley thought the meeting benefited Hostetler, the coach was wrong. Hostetler, who only eight months ago won the Super Bowl but now may be in danger of losing his starting job, yesterday indicated a simmering resentment about the public criticisms Handley has made. Handley said there were six plays in Sunday's game that Hostetler should have executed better.

Asked if he would prefer Handley to keep his criticisms within the confines of meeting rooms to help alleviate some of the pressure from fans and the media, Hostetler said: "I would prefer that. That's how it should be."

While Hostetler wouldn't get into specifics about the meeting, he admitted he has had some conflicts with the coach.

"There are some things I definitely don't agree with," Hostetler said. "I've said my piece. This is one of those things that you learn as you go. Things come up and you try to handle them the best you can. Hindsight is always the best. You look back at situations and you see there are certain things you could have done better. You just try to handle it the best way and move on."

Hostetler said he has tried to convey his opinions to Handley, and that the two try to accommodate each other's needs. In fact, if Handley hadn't called the meeting, Hostetler said he would have asked for one.

"When we've talked, he's listened," Hostetler said. "He's got things that he feels he wants to accomplish and do, and I'm sure that they aren't all the same that I want to accomplish and do, and we try to incorporate all those things and try to make them work."

Handley said the primary focus of the meeting was a discussion of the questionable plays from Sunday's game. But when told Hostetler said he would prefer Handley to keep his criticism private, the coach said:

"I've talked to Jeff. That's all I have to do."

Handley's predecessor, Bill Parcells, often deflected criticism away from Phil Simms by defending the quarterback and not pointing out specific mistakes.

"First of all, you go into a game and everybody makes mistakes," Hostetler said. "There's not a quarterback in this room that hasn't made a lot of them. Phil will be the first to tell you, [Matt] Cavanaugh will be the second. That's part of the game. There are a lot of things that are kept [within] a team to keep things focused and keep your subversives out of there."

Hostetler stopped short of suggesting that the Giants should revamp the offense to break out of its slump, although he did say he'd prefer to throw downfield more than look off his wide-outs and dump off to his running backs.

Hostetler also said his conflicts with Handley can be solved.

"It's not like we're not talking," Hostetler said. "We have the lines of communication open. I think we're real close to having things fall together. I don't think we should be jumping horses midstream. This is what we've been working on, and that's what we're going to continue to work on."

The bottom line is that Hostetler still believes the offense is capable of becoming dominant. "We've got a good offensive unit; a really good one," he said. "There will be good times ahead."

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