Some leftover thoughts following the New York Giants' 25-3 win over the Carolina Panthers...
1. I don't profess to be a trainer or a medical expert. But in thinking about this rash of hamstring injuries that have struck the receivers and branched out to the cornerbacks (Sam Beal), I can't help but wonder if the Giants' post-practice conditioning is worth looking into here.
Before I go any further, first, a disclaimer. The Giants don't allow the media to watch the whole practice. We're not allowed back to the patio until the last of the conditioning is done, so I'm basing this opinion on what I saw during training camp. And what I saw was the entire team asked to run post-practice sprints.
On the surface, that's not a big deal because the last thing you want to see is the players dragging late in the game. But lately, I've been wondering if it's wise to ask player groups like the receivers and corners, who do a lot of running as-is during practice, to do extra conditioning.
I use this analogy a lot and will use it again here. It's like taking a rubber band and continuing to stretch it over and over. Eventually, the band is going to weaken and snap if you overuse it.
Again, I'm not a medical or sports science expert, but this is the only logical explanation I can come up with regarding why all of a sudden, the Giants have so many hamstring issues.
2. I have nothing against Sam Beal, but I continue to wonder why the Giants bothered to keep him on the 53-man roster. This guy missed his entire rookie season, half his second season, and opted out of his third season.
All that missed time put him so far behind the eight-ball that it spoke volumes how rookie Rodarius Williams, before his season-ending ACL injury, was getting playing time ahead of Beal.
The only logical explanation I can think of is that someone in the Giants organization still believes in Beal's talent. But that talent remains so raw and underdeveloped that one seriously has to wonder why Beal, drafted in the third round of the 2018 supplemental draft out of Western Michigan, is taking up a roster spot if he's not going to be on the field that much.
3. I'm thrilled to finally be writing about a win. That said, let's try to keep everything in perspective.
The Panthers, with all due respect, are not playing very good football right now. They came into this game with probably more issues than the Giants did on the offensive side of the ball.
That said, I think we can all be pleased that the Giants not only won a game they should have won, but that they also did so convincingly. If this Giants team is to ever start stacking wins against the really good teams on back-to-back weeks, they need to beat the teams they are supposed to beat, like the Panthers, to build confidence and momentum for when they have to face the better teams.
4. There was an interesting note at the start of the FOX broadcast by sideline reporter Shannon Spake. Spake reported that Judge was so fed up with his team's losing ways that he abandoned "load management" for the players and had them go hard at practice this past week.
To that, I say it's about time. I get it that the team is banged up, but this concept of load management for guys not on the injury report has long been a head-scratcher. Football is a hard and physical game where you don't know what your workload is going to be on either side of the ball any given week.
So for a head coach to put his players on a pitch count during practice is kind of silly if you think about it if the players in question have to do a little more than expected in a game only to be gassed by the time the fourth quarter rolls around.
5. Several people have wondered how on earth the Giants are going to evaluate quarterback Daniel Jones when he hasn't had his full supporting staff around him.
I think in having watched Jones's performance this week, Jones made yet another round of convincing arguments that he is indeed worthy of carrying this franchise for the next several years.
Let's face it. Quarterbacks rarely get the perfect environment in which to function. Those who usually have the staying power learn to survive regardless of what things around them look like.
In other words, you rarely, if ever, see Jones have a meltdown if he's batted around behind his offensive line (as he was at times this week) or if his receivers are dropping passes, or if things just aren't clicking.
The good ones stay on even ground when that happens. Similarly, the good ones don't get too caught up in the euphoria of what's happening around them when things are going well.
Thus far, Jones has been almost Eli Manning-like in the face of adversity, which is reassuring for a franchise that has had more downs than ups since he's arrived, but which also hopes for better days ahead.
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But the other thing to like and appreciate about Jones is how his athleticism was deployed by a creative Jason Garrett this week to compensate for the missing talent due to injury.
6. The NFL trade deadline is coming up on November 2, the day after the Giants visit the Kansas City Chiefs. And I got to wondering what would happen if the Giants beat the Panthers and if that would affect any plans to be sellers.
As noted in the current NFC East scene, the Cowboys are firmly atop the division with a 5-1 record, and it's not even close at this point.
Moreover, in terms of the conference standings, only the winless Detroit Lions have a worse record than the Giants at this point.
But it's not how a team starts so much as how it finishes, which raises a two-part question. First, if the Giants have any chance of rising like a phoenix, do they even want to think about being serious sellers before the trade deadline?
And second, if general manager Dave Gettleman's future is shaky, which would still appear to be the case despite the win against the Panthers, does it make sense for him to be trading away players?
The answer to the first question is debatable and depends on how realistic a chance you think this team has to carve out a few more wins against a schedule of four teams with a combined 16-12 record as of this writing.
As for the second question, if head coach Joe Judge, who is not going anywhere after this season unless he chooses to do so, is involved, then I think it won't matter if trades are made or not since Judge probably has a good idea who he wants on the team for the long term.
7. Speaking of the upcoming competition, while it's very way to get lost in the euphoria of the Giants finally getting a win, let's not lose sight of the fact that of the Giants' first six drives in the first half, the offense only came away with three points despite crossing midfield on four of those drives.
There are still issues to be resolved. The offensive line play was all over the place, and the mistakes were enough to make one pull their hair out.
But the good news is that in the second half, on the Giants final seven drives, they crossed midfield on four in a row and came up with two touchdowns sandwiched around two field goals for 20 unanswered points.
8. One of the biggest mysteries of late with this team is why week after week, the Giants weren't able to find touches for fullback Eli Penny on offense, considering when he gets his hands on the ball, nine times out of ten, something good happens.
Okay, maybe it's not that big of a mystery given all the playmakers they have who are higher in the pecking order, but still, it just seems that every time Penny gets his hands on the ball, something good happens.
This week, with Saquon Barkley out, they found him a season-high nine rushing attempts, which he converted for 24 yards. But don't let that total fool you, as tucked in those 24 yards were four big third-down rushing plays, three of which Penny converted into first downs (including the last one, which came with 1:59 left to ice the game for the Giants.
The other third-down rush that Penny had but didn't convert came on a 3rd-and-12, a play in which he picked up four yards. But those were a big four yards, and they shortened what would have been a 48-yard field goal attempt to a 44-yarder.
9. Kudos to Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett for devising a game plan that helped the offense overcome some significant shortcomings, the biggest of which was yet another offensive line combination (and one that had its share of struggles at times).
Garrett tapped into Daniel Jones's athleticism and used that to the team's advantage by dialing up several play-action passes, boots, and rollouts that helped keep the quarterback from becoming a sitting target for Panthers edge rushers Brian Burns and Haason Reddick.
“I thought it was a really good plan going in,” Jones said after the game. “There’s several different things that we practiced throughout the week. Understanding what that defense does well--their aggressiveness, their speed on defense--and then planning according to that. I thought it was a great plan going in and I thought we did a good job executing it.”
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