The Giants began preparing for their Thursday night tilt with Washington with a renewed spirit and optimism.
And while it’s a shortened week and less time to prepare, this might be what the Giants (0-2) need after blowing consecutive double-digit late-game leads – something that’s never been done in the franchise’s 90 prior seasons.
Getting over the Cowboys and Falcons losses are made much easier since a division rival is coming to town. The Washington Redskins (1-1) have been a surprising outfit this season. They hung tough in their season-opening loss to the Miami Dolphins, and then pummeled the ascending St. Louis Rams last week, behind a strong running game, efficient passing game, and a staunch defense.
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Head coach Tom Coughlin said he’s been impressed with Washington’s physical style of play and added his team has refocused itself on the task at hand.
“Kirk Cousins, their quarterback, his percentage of completions is at 75 percent. They’re the number one rush team in the league [171.5 per game]. Their offensive line is blocking very well. They have two runners who are doing an outstanding job … particularly this young guy, Matt Jones, to back up [Alfred] Morris. Those two have done an outstanding job. They have pounded away with the ball,” said Coughlin, noting he thinks this team has enough talent to get back on the winning side – regardless of what outsiders think. “I don’t read any of that stuff, to be honest with you. I’m concerned with our team. I really do think we should be better than 0-2, and I told them that right away on Monday afternoon. I told them I wasn’t very pleased with the play as such, but I thought we could certainly be, even under these circumstances, be 2-0.”
Linebacker Jon Beason agreed. He also knows how important this game is, which is why he’s done everything he could to get back on the practice field. Missing the previous two games has been tough on him, he noted, so he hopes he did enough rehab work to get back into the lineup.
“It’s a divisional game. Very important. We need to catch up right away in the division. It’s a tough turnaround for anybody, [especially] if you’re coming off an injury,” Beason said. “I want to be available [and] play as much as I can.”
As Coughlin likes to say, the Giants will need all hands on deck against a physical Washington team that likes smashmouth football and hangs its hat on ball control. Washington is near the top of the league in time of possession, as Coughlin noted “the opponent just doesn’t have the ball,” since they average nearly 38 minutes per game – second only to the Cowboys.
The Giants, meanwhile, have allowed their two opponents to hold the ball for almost 35 minutes per game. The defense particularly needs to get off the field quickly to stay fresh down the stretch should the game be as close in the fourth quarter as the previous two contests.
Defensive end Robert Ayers Jr. has adopted Coughlin’s power of positive thinking and feels as if the tide will turn this week for Big Blue.
“We take the positives out of everything. Sometimes it’s not as bad as it seems and it’s not as good as it seems. We did some things well last week and we have to look at those and try to get those even better,” Ayers said. “We just have to understand that and grow as a unit and as a team, so when we get in those tight situations at the end again, we’ll be able to close them out.”
Big Blue notes:
-The Giants released wideout Preston Parker and filled his spot by bringing back defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis. Regarding Parker’s release, Coughlin said his slot position will filled via committee. He added that adding Ellis was a need to bolster the defensive line.
-The Giants had some familiar names back on the practice field, along with Beason, such as tight end Daniel Fells, defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins, and right guard Geoff Schwartz. Rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers (ankle) did not participate, while defensive end Robert Ayers Jr. attended, but did not do any team running drills. Defensive tackle Jay Bromley was limited. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (concussion) is under the concussion protocol and may not even be ready for Thursday’s game.