The New York Giants are set to return from their extra long weekend break Tuesday. Head coach Ben McAdoo’s hope before dismissing his players for the weekend, was for everyone to take some time away from the game and clear their heads for these upcoming final five games that start this weekend out in Oakland.
Before they get to the Coliseum for the last time, here’s a look at some of the story lines that are likely to play out for the Giants this week.
Playing for the Future
Not that they were every really in the playoff hunt given their inconsistent performance this season that was compounded by injuries, but with the results of yesterday’s games, the Giants are officially and mathematically out of playoff contention, no doubt a big disappointment to McAdoo who a few weeks back went on the record as saying this team had a run in it.
With the playoffs out of reach for this year, what the Giants have left to play for are jobs, even if team ownership decides to shake up the front office and the coaching staff once this season mercifully comes to an end.
And if any of the players on the team think they’re good enough to get a job elsewhere, they best thing again, particularly if they helped contribute to this season’s nightmarish results.
The tape doesn’t lie, and whoever is here shaping the roster and coaching the players will be able to glean a lot from watching the tape even before sitting down with the players. If the players are smart, they’ll continue to bust their backsides even though the playoff are no longer in reach.
Receiver Sterling Shepard has missed two games so far due to migraines, yet as of Friday, McAdoo said that the receiver was not in the league’s concussion protocol.
Head injuries are not something to mess with, and certainly there should be no rush to get Shepard back on the field until they have this condition, which can be caused by other factors besides a concussion, under control.
Besides that Shepard is experiencing the migraines, what’s also concerning is that after two weeks, there seems to be no change in his status, again, as of what McAdoo shared Friday.
Let’s hope that by the time the players report back to work Tuesday, the medical staff has identified what’s causing Shepard’s migraines and they have come up with a treatment plan to help him.
Turning the Corner
With Janoris Jenkins reportedly headed for season-ending surgery and Donte Deayon done for the year with a broken forearm, this weekend’s game will be a big one for second-year cornerback Eli Apple.
Apple has had a rough time of things this year, partly because of his mother’s brain surgery and partly due to his own doing. McAdoo told reporters last week that he decided to bench Apple Thursday night because he had concerns about Apple’s physical and mental state regarding his football assignment.
“He didn’t practice last week, except for Wednesday,” McAdoo said of Apple. “He did not play in the game and didn’t get any speed work this week, that’s why I chose to not dress him.”
With his mother hopefully on the mend and with Apple reportedly having cleared the air with McAdoo after the film critique to clear the air after he was called out for his poor effort in the loss to the 49ers, perhaps Apple will over these last five games get back to playing like the cornerback we saw toward the end of his rookie season.
In addition to finding out the status of Jenkins, the Giants are no doubt hoping to get back some of the guys who have been hurting.
Offensive lineman Justin Pugh (back) indicated last week that he was getting closer to a return, though he also added that he didn’t want to rush himself back before he was ready. With a 6-hour plane ride looming this weekend, it will be interesting to see if Pugh makes the trip and is able to give the Giants anything, even in the role as a reserve.
Meanwhile the Giants could certainly use linebacker B.J. Goodson if his injured ankle is anywhere near being ready. As already noted, the Giants placed linebackers Curtis Grant (knee) and Deontae Skinner (hamstring) to season-ending injuries in addition to offensive lienman D.J. Fluker and cornerback Donte DEayon.
Calvin Munson (quad) missed last week’s game, and Kelvin Sheppard is still dealing with his groin issue.
Curing Evan Engram’s Dropsies
It’s been a tough two games for rookie tight end Evan Engram, who over that period has four receptions for 27 yards and no touchdowns, and who has, per Pro Football Focus, dropped three balls.
There are multiple reasons behind Engram’s struggles. First, given the inconsistency of the receivers, opposing defenses have likely caught on to the fact that Engram is the primary target in the passing game and hence are jamming him off the line of scrimmage.
Because of that, Engram could be pressing to make plays instead of just letting things happen naturally.
McAdoo also noted that Engrams struggles against Washington might have been related to the colder weather, something the rookie isn’t used to playing in.
“He just needs to stick with it and focus on the details and the little things,” McAdoo said, adding that he was confident the rookie would bounce back from his recent struggles.