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Five New York Giants Storylines to Watch in Regular Season Week 2

Here is a look at some of the story lines that will be unfolding for the Giants ahead of their Week 2 game at the Washington Football Team.

The Giants don't have much time to catch their breath coming off their 27-13 Week 1 loss to the Denver Broncos.

That can be both a blessing and a curse, a blessing in that there won't be much time to let any bad feeling fester long enough, and a curse because there was so very little time to work on all the fundamental issues that plague the Giants in that game, such as missed tackles (11), dropped passes (3), and, oh yeah, ball security.

The good news is that no matter who has been on the field and the sidelines for the Giants, they've held up well against Washington. Will that trend continue this week? If it doesn't, it's going to be a long week ahead for the Giants and a potentially even longer season on the horizon.

Here is a look at five stories related to this week's game.

Not Just Another Game

The Giants are looking to avoid their fifth straight 0-2 start to a season. While that’s not exactly an insurmountable problem if it should happen (see the 2007 team which overcame an 0-2 start to go on to win a Super Bowl title), if the Giants are going to reach their goal of a winning season and making the playoffs, they have to take care of business in the division first.

They did so last year, finishing with a 4-2 record and barely missing out on the playoffs. That 4-2 division mark, by the way, matched what they did in 2016, which was the last time they qualified for a postseason berth.

Fortunately, they’ve had success against Washington, winning their last five straight (including both of last year’s games) and six out of their last seven. But Washington has been on the rise under new head coach Ron Rivera.

The good news, if you want to call it that, is that the Washington Football team didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard either in their Week 1 20-16 loss to the Chargers. Washington scored 16 points, which is better than the Giants’ 13, but not by much.

The bad news is the Washington defense, which finished sixth in the league in fewest average points allowed, is pretty much intact from last year and is another year older and wiser. As mentioned, Washington's defense allowed just 20 points in the Week 1 opener, a minus 1.2 point difference from last year's average.

Scoring has been hard enough for this Giants team, but it's not about to get any easier Thursday night.

That Washington D

The Washington defense is one of the top units in the league, thanks to its solid defensive front that features edge rushers Montez Sweat and Chase Young.

The thought of those two going against the Giants' offensive tackles is something of a concern.

That said, the Washington defense, which forced two turnovers last week, couldn't get off the field on third down, allowing the Chargers to convert a whopping 73.7 percent (14 out of 19) of their third downs.

A team isn't going to win if it can't get its defense off the field--just ask the Giants about that. And while this probably won't make Giants fans feel any better, last week, one of the things the offense did well against the Broncos defense was convert on third downs, finishing with a 50% conversion rate (six of 12).

But the good news is the Washington front can be slowed down with a little bit of creativity. Tactics such as play-action, boots, and zone reads can potentially factor into slowing down that Washington defense.

New Quarterback

Washington's quarterback situation was on shaky ground when they decided to roll with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick rather than draft or seek another option via trade. Now it's even on shakier ground after Fitzpatrick suffered a hip subluxation which landed him on injured reserve in Week 1.

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But as whispers of "Sign Cam Netwton!" begin to pick up steam, the Football Team is going to roll with backup Taylor Heinicke while the newly signed Kyle Shurmur likely serves as the backup.

Heinicke, who was with Washington head coach Ron Rivera in Carolina, has appeared in ten games (regular- and postseason) and has a 1-9 career record.

Heinicke, who was 26 of 44 for 306 yards with a touchdown and an interception last week, is an athletic quarterback who can also make plays with his legs. Still, against a stout Chargers defense, Washington never could get into a rhythm or sustain drives.

It's probably safe to assume that Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham took extra notes in his review of that game tape as he looks to find a way to fix the defense.

Who's In and Who's Out?

Running back Saquon Barkley, who had 29 snaps in Week 1, came out of Sunday's game against Denver just fine and should be looking at at least the same kind of workload on the short work week.

But the Giants have some other injuries to take note of, namely on their offensive line where left guard Shane Lemieux, who's been dealing with a partially torn patellar tendon, wasn't spotted at Tuesday's practice during the part open to the media. Lemieux was replaced by Ben Bredeson in Sunday's game, but that doesn't mean that Bredeson will get the call if Lemieux can't play Thursday.

The Giants could look to move Nick Gates to guard and insert Billy Price at center. It's not an ideal scenario given that it involves two offensive line moves instead of just one, and one of which involved the center on a short work week.

But remember, the Giants had Nick Gates working at guard toward the latter part of the summer while Lemieux was rehabbing his knee, so that possibility can't be ruled out.

The other Giants injury of note is tight end Evan Engram, who continues to battle his way back from a calf injury suffered in the preseason. Engram missed last week's game, and his chances of playing this week don't look very promising.

For Washington, the big injury is obviously at quarterback. Still, another injury needs to be discussed: wide receiver Curtis Samuel, who is on injured reserve with a groin ailment. Samuel's absence could mean increased opportunities for rookie Dyami Brown and veteran Adam Humphries, and, considering the Giants' struggles last week against opposing tight ends, Logan Thomas. 

Begging for Points

Despite the addition of playmakers Kenny Golladay and Kyle Rudolph and the return of running back Saquon Barkley, the Giants’ scoring offense picked up where it left off last season, managing just 13 points (including a garbage-time touchdown at the end of the game). 

While that production (or is it lack of production) didn’t put them in last place league-wide—that honor went to the Packers, who were only able to muster up three points in their Week 1 season opener—suffice it to say the Giants scoring output is disturbing.

Golladay, the Giants’ top free-agent acquisition this past off-season, saw it coming when he predicted before that game that guys who had missed training camp and the preseason (as he did for most of the summer) were just starting to get their feet back underneath them.

And now Golladay, who was encouraged by what he saw on tape of the offense, thinks the arrow is pointing up.

“I can speak for everyone in we try to go into every game trying to be explosive,” he said when asked if the offense can be explosive. “We want to make those explosive plays. Of course, I’m going to say I want myself and the rest of the guys on the offense to come in with just that mindset and just dominate and have explosive plays.”


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