There are not very many topics that members of the New York Giants won't discuss with reporters.
Just don’t ask the players or coaches about that part of the NFL annual calendar that begins the first weekend in January and ends about five weeks later.
The Giants, who play in the unpredictable NFC East, are not quite ready to embrace the fact that if they take care of business these next two weeks against Green Bay and Dallas, they could be sitting atop the division after starting the year 0-6.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time,” said defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
“We are not trying to think three games ahead. We’re just thinking the next game is the Green Bay Packers,” he added.
Still, it’s hard for the players in the Giants' locker room not to have some sense of optimism after putting together a three-game winning streak, even if those wins were against struggling opponents.
“We still are in the hole, but obviously it feels good to have three in a row here and two more games in a row at home,” said defensive end Justin Tuck.
“We’re starting to play with a lot of confidence and that’s something that hopefully we can continue to build on to get back in this race.”
Minnesota 34, Washington 27
Minnesota scored 20 unanswered second-half points to overcome a 27-14 deficit against Washington.
Minnesota forced Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III into throwing three consecutive incompletions at the Vikings’ 4-yard line in the game’s final minute, which helped preserve the Vikings’ victory.
Philadelphia 27, Green Bay 13
Two of those scores came in the third quarter and were sandwiched around a 41-yard field goal by kicker Alex Henery. These points enabled the Eagles to overcome a 10-3 halftime deficit.
New Orleans 49, Dallas 17
New Orleans recorded an NFL-record of 40 first downs that led to 625 yards of offense. They also scored on seven of their 11 drives as they dominated Dallas in front of a nationally televised audience.
After Dallas jumped out to a 3-0 first-quarter lead, it was all New Orleans.
The Giants will host Green Bay. Washington will face Philadelphia in a critical NFC East matchup. Dallas has its bye week.
|Player||Injury||Most Recent Status|
|CB Jayron Hosley||Hamstring||Inactive, Week 10|
|RB Brandon Jacobs||Hamstring/Knee||Inactive, Week 10|
|TE Adrien Robinson||Foot||Inactive, Week 10|
|CB Corey Webster||Groin/Ankle||Inactive, Week 10|
|CB Trumaine McBrde||Groin||Active, Week 10|
|CB Terrell Thomas||Knee||Active, Week 10|
|WR Victor Cruz||Neck||Active, Week 10|
|DE Jason Pierre-Paul||Shoulder||Injured Week 10; X-rays negative|
|K Josh Brown||Shoulder||Unknown|
Source: NY Giants
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul injured his shoulder in the game and had to come out for a few plays for X-rays, which were announced as being negative.
Pierre-Paul, who returned to the game, was sore on Monday, per Coughlin, who didn't sound concerned about Pierre-Paul possibly missing any time.
“He’ll need treatment all week long, but I think he will get better as the week goes on,” Coughlin said.
Although running back Andre Brown was not listed on the injury report, his unusually high number of carries (30) in his first regular-season game in a year raised some eyebrows.
After the game, Brown admitted to being a little sore, and on Monday, Coughlin was asked if the team might have to manage the running back’s practice reps this week.
“I’m sure he wouldn't want it that way and I wouldn't want to, either, but we’ll see,” Coughlin said.
An interesting development regarding the Giants' injury situation involves kicker Josh Brown. Art Stapleton of the Bergen Record provided this observation of the Giants’ place-kicker:
Josh Brown has a huge ice pack on his left shoulder. Did not look comfortable putting on his jacket. #nyg— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) November 11, 2013
Coughlin seemed to be caught off guard when he was asked about Brown.
“Might have been a sympathy wrap or something; I’m not sure,” he said.
Lastly, there’s still no definite word regarding the status of running back Brandon Jacobs, who, in addition to a hamstring strain, is also dealing with swelling in his knee which, per Stapleton, appears to be the more concerning issue.
I'm told situation with Brandon Jacobs injury + doubtful status for Sunday has more to do with his knee than his hamstring #NYG— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) November 8, 2013
Jacobs will likely continue to have his practice reps managed for the foreseeable future.
What Must Improve
There are a lot of things currently wrong with the Giants’ special teams, but one area that makes head coach Tom Coughlin cringe is when the ball is mishandled.
Such was the case on Sunday when Jerrel Jernigan fumbled the opening kickoff, a turnover that set up the Raiders' first scoring drive.
Per NFL Game and Information Statistics and Information System (login required), Jernigan has averaged 22.4 yards per return since taking over the kickoff return duties from David Wilson in Week 2.
That's an average difference of 2.3 yards.
Jernigan has just 157 yards on seven returns while Wilson had 222 yards on nine returns.
Wilson, of course, is on season-ending injured reserve, so if the Giants were to make a switch, it would probably be to rookie running back Michael Cox.
Cox, who handled the kickoff return duties in Week 1, returned his lone opportunity 26 yards, showing a nice burst of speed, good acceleration and vision.
Might a change be forthcoming Week 11?
“We’ll see,” said Coughlin.
Through 10 weeks, quarterback Eli Manning has completed 55.6 percent of his passes (183 of 329). Per Pro Football Reference, that is below Manning’s career average of 58.4 percent.
Part of the problem has been the play of the offensive line. The Giants' current configuration hasn't been consistent with its pass blocking, which means that Manning has been under pressure a lot, per the data shown below:
|Season||Under Pressure / No. Dropbacks||% Under Pressure||Att. / Com.||Com %|
|2013||149 / 355||41.9||123 / 59||48.0|
|2012||169 / 564||29.9||146 / 70||52.9|
|2011||314 / 803||39.1||268 / 149||55.6|
Source: Pro Football Focus (subscription required)
Another problem that appears to be at the heart of Manning’s struggles is the communication with his receivers.
Coughlin, however, believes that the communication issues have mostly resolved themselves.
“I don’t see the misunderstandings," he said. "There was a few of those earlier in the year, but I haven’t seen that recently.”
So then what’s at the root of Manning’s accuracy issues?
“Execution. We haven’t executed as well as we can,” Coughlin said.
That obviously needs to improve if the Giants intend to continue their rise from the ashes of an 0-6 start.
Although the Giants won their last game, the score probably wouldn't have been as close as it was if New York had won the turnover battle.
This season, they are 1-6 in games in which they've failed to win the turnover battle, and they have had at least one turnover in every game this season.