In the NFL, all games are technically “must win” games.
However, when you’re off to an 0-2 start as the New York Giants are, well, your next game becomes even more of a priority.
The Giants are looking to avoid their first 0-3 start to a season since 2013, when they dropped their first six. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was a member of that team that suffered through the 0-6 start before it bounced back with four straight wins, including the Giants last road win against the Philadelphia Eagles, the team they face this weekend, so he feels the sense of urgency.
“Honestly, it’s a must-win game,” he said Friday. “We know we need this game. It’s a division game. I don’t see us going 0-3. We’ve started 0-6 before. This team – we have good talent on this team. We just all need to come together.”
Head coach Ben McAdoo has spoken before about all three phases of the game—offense, defense and special teams—playing complementary football. The lack of complementary football has hurt the Giants so far, starting with the sluggish and inconsistent performance by an offense that is ranked dead last in rushing and 29th overall in the league (251.5 yards per game).
Pierre-Paul sees the struggles of the offense. He also notes that the league’s 18th-ranked defense which, after finishing as a top-5 run defense against the run last year has given up an average of 133.5 rushing yards per game, fifth-most in the NFL, must do its part.
“We just have to ball and get in and play some great football,” he said.
But can they rebound and play great football across the board? Pierre-Paul can’t help the offense, but he believes the defense will do his part to pick up the pace and stop the losing skid from continuing.
“I don’t see the players that we have are going to allow that,” he said when asked about the potential for another 0-6 start.
“Even with our defense, last year we started off pretty bad and we picked it up. I don’t know how we picked it up, but just communication and coach (Steve Spagnuolo) is giving us a lot of play calls and we find it within ourselves to not put everything on the coaches.
“We have to actually do the work. That’s what we did and we finished on one of the top defenses. Right now, we need to get off the field, third downs, we need to get off the field. That’s basically it.”
Pierre-Paul believes if everyone, offensive and defensive players alike, does the job right, it will make life a lot easier for quarterback Eli Manning, who has come under fire of late for his hand in the mess that has thus far been the 2017 season.
“Eli is a great quarterback,” said Pierre-Paul “I’m just saying that from the bottom of my heart, not just saying this for everybody to hear, but he is. We need to block up front. That’s just the point of the game. When you play football, it starts up front. It starts with the defensive line. It starts with the offensive line. So, we have to play our best on the defensive line. Offensive line has to play their best.
“All this week has been just rushing to the ball because we’re putting an emphasis on it. So, I think they get the picture.”
And what about the defense, a unit that has most of the starters from last year’s top-10 overall effort and which was supposed to be even better this year?
“You haven’t seen it yet,” Pierre-Paul said of a dominating defense. “So, that’s pretty scary.”
Will we see it Sunday?
“We’ll see. That’s how we play football. So, we’ll see.”