The Giants are coming off a dreadful performance, Monday night, in which they raced out to an early advantage, only to never lead again.
But with the Dallas Cowboys coming to town on Sunday, fresh off a bye and feeling rejuvenated with a new starting quarterback, there’s no time for Big Blue to feel sorry for themselves – especially with a short week of preparation.
Head coach Tom Coughlin noted that his Giants (3-3) have already put the Eagles loss behind them, as they’ve fully immersed themselves in the Cowboys’ gameplan.
“Well, the other night wasn’t our best effort, obviously that holds true. But, we’ve got to pick ourselves up and get back on track,” said Coughlin, who added the Cowboys’ defensive front presents as many problems as a Philadelphia unit that sacked quarterback Eli Manning three times. “We need to recognize the strength of their defensive front, which is a good one with the addition of a couple new players [defensive end Greg Hardy and linebacker Rolando McClain, who recently returned from suspensions]. Hopefully, we’ll get some of this [protection problems] straightened out. We’ve certainly got to do a better job of not getting beat on the edge or even getting pushed back into the quarterback’s face. Even with the three-step drop stuff, you’ve got to have time to get the ball out.”
The Giants’ offensive line was indeed awful, as Manning was harassed, sacked, and battered for most of the game. New York raced out to an impressive 7-0 lead on its opening drive, only to never score again in a 27-7 loss. Most of that failure was placed at the feet of the beleaguered offensive line, which had arguably its worse game of the season.
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Coughlin said they’ll need to improve quickly, because the Cowboys’ defensive rankings aren’t indicative of its play. Dallas (2-3) is ranked ninth against the rush and 19thagainst the pass. Stopping the run, though, won’t be a problem for the Cowboys, considering the Giants’ rushing attack is anemic (fifth-worst in the league). It’s when Manning drops to pass – particularly in obvious passing downs – that Big Blue may garner some worry.
If someone as customarily untouchable as Tom Brady can be harassed by the Cowboys’ underrated pass rush, then Manning should be on high alert, reasoned Coughlin.
“They had five sacks against New England and Tom Brady in their fifth game [two weeks ago]. Greg Hardy had two sacks,” said Coughlin, who lauded Dallas’ defensive talent. “Rolando McClain is back at middle linebacker, Sean Lee at WILL [weakside] linebacker, [safety] Barry Church, [and cornerbacks] Brandon Carr [and] Morris Claiborne—those are their outstanding players on that side of the ball.”
Dallasmay still be without starting quarterback Tony Romo and franchise wideout Dez Bryant, but that doesn’t mean the Giants should take their wounded rivals lightly.
“I think they’re going up. I think they’ve played better, even though they lost to New England by that score [30-6], there’s no question their defensive team played well. It was a very tight game for a long time,” Coughlin noted. “The Cowboys played New England very well, to be honest with you. I thought they lined up and played them man-to-man, nose-to-nose. … It wasn’t until the Patriots made maneuvers late and got some big plays to pull away. Their [Dallas] defense has gained a couple of players and it’s going to make them stronger.”
The Giants’ offensive line was anything but strong in Philadelphia, so it will need to regain its identity quickly. Too many times they were pushed around by an Eagles’ front four that is based on speed, not power. But there were many times in which the pocket collapsed on Manning and they forced early throws or intentional grounding calls.
Dallas’ pass rush is built the same way, so Big Blue’s offensive line should already be well-versed in what’s to come on Sunday.
“There were occasions where people were beat and some occasions where the pressure was coming and we really didn’t have the opportunity to get rid of the ball yet. The timing was off,” said Coughlin. “All you can do is go right back to it. We really have been a group that, when adversity has struck, we’ve battled our way through it. Not sure what happened then, but we’ll go right back to it philosophically and hammer home how this group has identified themselves.”
The coaching staff likes to say that the offensive line is “under construction” and a “work in progress.” But if the Giants want to knock off the Cowboys and remain atop the NFC East, they’ll need to be a finished product by Sunday.
Big Blue notes:
- In all fairness to Big Blue, its offensive line won’t be a finished product until everyone returns healthy. Help could soon be on the way, as tackle Will Beatty has begun the process of getting back on the field, now that he’s eligible to work with the team again. Beatty, who has not played this season because of a pectoral injury he suffered in May, will not be active against the Cowboys, but he has begun working in individual drills in practice this week. That will start the clock on a three-week time period in which the Giants can activate Beatty. If no move is made during that three-week window, the Giants must either activate Beatty or keep on him on the physically unable to perform list (PUP), which would effectively end his season.
- Coughlin said the three weeks will give them plenty of time to decide Beatty’s availability: “Beatty is starting on the clock and he’s going to begin, like I said the other day, very slowly [in] individual work.”
- The Giants injury report was lengthy: Cornerbacks Trumaine McBride (groin), Trevin Wade (concussion), and Prince Amukamara (pectoral); Linebackers Jonathan Casillas (neck), Uani’ Unga (neck), and Devon Kennard (hamstring); Wide Receivers Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring), Rueben Randle (hamstring), and Victor Cruz (calf); and Defensive End Robert Ayers Jr. (hamstring).