New York Giants Notebook | (Temporarily) Gone, but Not Forgotten, Lorenzo Carter is Flourishing and More
Even after running back Saquon Barkley went down with a torn ACL in last week's loss to the Chicago Bears, he was still waiting in the tunnel to talk up his teammates.
Barkley won't be in any tunnel this week as he looks to recover from the gruesome injury, as the Giants will have to find other means of injecting Barkley's unique spirit into the locker room and sideline.
But that might not be for too long as Giants head coach Joe Judge said that the Giants would look to keep Barkley around as much as possible and as much as the current protocols allow.
"There’s a lot of protocols and rules this year that we have to look into in terms of how can we give him access to maybe the sideline or a booth or a box or something like that. But as much as we can have him around here, we absolutely want him to," Judge said.
"This guy was elected captain by his teammates for a reason, and he’s an integral part of this program. He’s a very positive guy, he’s a very team-first guy."
In many ways, Barkley, who is determined to come back strong next season, can serve as a reminder to stay positive when things don't look promising.
"The adversity he’s going through right now, he’s going to work as hard as he can," Judge said.
"I can say that with absolute confidence. I’m very anxious to see him on the back end coming out of this thing because I know the aggressiveness he’s preparing with."
Why Lorenzo Carter Has Flourished
The Giants' defense has impressed so far early in the season considering the expectations that shrowded the unit going into 2020.
One player that has flourished so far this season is third-year outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter, who appears to be finally reaching the level of expectations the Giants always believed he was capable of delivering.
In two games so far, Carter has already racked up eight tackles, seven for stops, and a sack on the season.
The former Georgia star credits the open dialogue he has with defensive coordinator Patrick Graham and his teammates regarding how Carter has been deployed on defense as a big reason behind his strong start.
"It’s a pretty open relationship with Coach Graham and the defensive players. We have communication, we talk about what works and what doesn’t work. We just go from there," Carter said.
"We talk about what works, what doesn’t work, what we need to do better. I know I spend a lot of time with [Graham] just talking ball, talking about what we can do better.
"If we feel like we need to do something different, then we can come to him and talk about it. If he feels like we need to do it or there’s a reason we’re doing it, then we have to suck it up and play ball. It’s an open relationship, open communication."
Graham's approach seems to be the opposite of what has been done in the past, where players were matched as closely as possible to the scheme rather than the scheme adjusted to the players' strengths. And so far, Graham's approach appears to be working.
Rules are Rules
The Giants' division rival Dallas Cowboys landed on the right side of a wrong decision by the Atlanta Falcons kick off return team last Sunday.
With the Falcons leading by two late in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys had to go for an onside kick attempt after scoring a touchdown to cut the lead.
The Falcons had their hands team on the field, yet were still unprepared mentally as they appeared to forget the rules of handing an onside kick.
That might be a headscratcher--after all, NFL teams should know the rules of the game before they set foot on the playing field, right?
"You never assume--tou know what they say when you assume, right?" said special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey with a chuckle.
McGaughey is continuously trying to cover every possible scenario with the Giants special teams so that they're not caught asleep at the switch in the heat of the moment.
"We go through those situations all the time. Matter of fact, last Friday we were out going through some hands and onside situations, that very thing came up and we talked about it between Golden Tate and a couple of other guys on the front line."
Giants fans should be able to take solace in knowing that McGaughey is doing what he can to keep those types of mistakes out of the Giants' play.
"Those are things that you are constantly coaching," McGaughey said. "Those are things that you are constantly trying to make sure that you never, ever put yourself in a position where that ‘I’ is not dotted and that ‘T’ is not crossed."
Staying the Course
So far, the Giants' offense has scored just 29 points, making it the lowest-scoring offense in the NFL, which is surprising considering the outlook the unit had going into the season. Injuries have played a part in that outcome.
With Saquon Barkley and wide receiver Sterling Shepard out, the Giants' hopes of getting things going on offense have taken a hit. Still, it is not insurmountable with the other talent at the offense's disposal.
Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett admits there is a sense of urgency for the Giants' offense, and he is also prioritizing flexibility given the injuries the team is currently dealing with.
"You have an offensive system that’s flexible enough to adapt to different situations that you have," Garrett said.
"In Week 1, we didn’t have Golden, so we used more three tight end type sets to try to take advantage of some looks in Pittsburgh. Last week, you try to do some different things against Chicago with the guys you have available to you."
"There is always a sense of urgency obviously. What you’re trying to do with each phase of your team is you’re trying to put yourself in the position to win a game. Some games are going to be more lower-scoring games because of the team you’re playing or the style you want to play. Other games, you might want to open it up a little bit more."