Ebola is an insidious virus, pictured above, that causes flu-like symptoms, severe bleeding, and carries a 71% mortality rate. A few cases have migrated across the Atlantic from Africa to the United States, and those poor souls have been in the Dallas area, where the Giants play the Cowboys this weekend. Asked if he’s concerned, Tom Coughlin replied, “We’re going down there to play a football game, that’s all I’m concerned about.”
Given the national media attention Ebola has received, the team was briefed about it prior to their planned departure tomorrow. While details of the briefing have not been shared, the risks to the Giants players, coaches, and staff are minimal, but must certainly be on their mind, they would be on mine if I were going there this weekend. Dealing with it ahead of the trip was the right decision by the Giants front office.
Of greater concern is the health of cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who is dealing with a variety of injuries affecting the right side of his body. He did not practice Wednesday or Thursday this week, but was warming up today and will test out his back and hamstring. Coughlin said yesterday that he has “A ways to go” before a decision can be made whether he will be able to play against Dallas. Coughlin did add that Rodgers-Cromartie will be able to play if he practices today and shows that he can contribute. Rodgers-Cromartie is listed as questionable for the game.
In their first game without top wide receiver Victor Cruz, Coughlin will rely on the information the team has had all along on the receiver that will have to step up to take his place. The only receiver that the team is learning about this week is newcomer Kevin Ogletree, who signed on Tuesday. Coughlin said the team is very familiar with the strengths and challenges of the others and will put them in positions to make plays.
DeMarco Murray has been in a position to make plays all season for the Cowboys, but that doesn’t come as a surprise to Coughlin. “He’s been a heck of a football player for all the years I’ve been watching him,” said Coughlin, adding that Murray’s running has given Dallas a much more run oriented offense and opened up play action with greater effectiveness this season.
Jon Beason has been practicing fully, and Coughlin said he was “Obviously rusty” in the game against the Eagles. This week, he is feeling better, has more confidence, and the coaches have more confidence in him. While his enthusiasm hasn’t waned, Coughlin said that his lack of practice and playing time showed up on the field. He expects Beason’s performance to improve this week and he is listed as probable for the game.
Other Giants players on the injury report include Spencer Paysinger (hamstring), who was a limited participant in practice and is questionable for the Cowboys game, Steve Weatherford (ankle), who is listed as probable, and Rashad Jennings, who has already been declared out.
Perry Fewell credits LeSean McCoy’s big game to a combination of his great play and the failure of the Giants defense to “Do some things we thought we’d do.” With Murray up next for the defense, the challenge will be just as great this week. In watching Murray, Fewell believes his vision has improved from previous times the Giants have played him, and that the Cowboys improved offensive line play is complimenting Murray. However, Fewell added that the Giants have practiced well and thinks the Giants will perform well against him.
Refusing to comment on specific schemes regarding the nickel back because, “We have to play the team,” Fewell did say that Jayron Hosley has a great opportunity as the next man up in that position for the Giants. Possessing the talent, Fewell said Hosley needs to “Speed up mentally,” and that “It’s all between the ears for him.” To help Hosley succeed, Fewell will allow him to exclusively focus on the nickel position and not distract him with playing the other cornerback positions for the time being.
In breaking down the team’s defensive break down against Philadelphia, Fewell offered the following, “We tried to take advantage of some opportunities we saw and it happened at high speed.” He added that players went out of the framework of what the defense wanted to do and weren’t able to make the desired play. It’s dangerous in the NFL when players decide to abandon the game plan and freelance. It shows a lack of confidence in the game plan and usually end up with disastrous results, such as what was witnessed on Sunday night.
Although Fewell firmly believes that the bad game is not a necessity to motivate the defense, replying, “No. As a defensive coach, Hell, No,” to that question, he did add that it presents an opportunity to improve. When players have to “Get up, dust off their pants, and go back to work,” they see that there’s more to do, more to study, and ways to better prepare.
The opening questions to Ben McAdoo had to do with how the team will adjust to losing Cruz given that he’s said that it’s “Personnel based” in the past. McAdoo responded that the Giants have been training players in the offense since April 21st and will put the players in position to succeed. He did caution that Odell Beckham has been back at practice for only three weeks and is “Still getting his football legs under him.”
McAdoo doesn’t subscribe to the concept that a slot receiver has to be a “shifty, fast guy,” and stated that you can use different types of guys with different skill sets in that position. Earlier in the season, Larry Donnell, Corey Washington, and Jennings all lined up in the slot, and while Jennings won’t play this week, it’s possible we’ll see the other two players get some snaps from that position.
The media at the press conference seemed to have a preconceived notion that Beckham will be taking over for Cruz in the slot, something that McAdoo refuted, saying, “We teach concepts here. No matter where you line up, you know what the other guy is doing and how it affects you.”
As Beckham is the Giants most potent receiver with Cruz sidelined by injury, it would make sense that the team would move him around to find the most favorable match ups.
Ogletree contributed in Thursday’s practice, and may contribute in the game on Sunday, offered McAdoo. When he came in for the workout on Tuesday, he already spoke the language of the offense, a distinct advantage for the veteran wide receiver and something McAdoo sees as a challenge in bringing in players mid season. “It’s not his first rodeo,” commented McAdoo, seemingly pleased at the signing. It’s a good signing for mid October when there’s not a lot of tip tier talent waiting to be plucked. Ogletree was waived by Detroit in September, and obviously is not a starting caliber wide receiver, but can provide veteran depth and experience for the remainder of the season.
“We took our medicine,” said McAdoo, describing the team’s watching of the game film of the offense’s performance against the Eagles. When you give up eight sacks, and perform the way we did on Sunday, it’s a lot more than one position group or one player, he offered, refusing to pin the issue solely on the offensive line or Justin Pugh. “It starts here,” stated McAdoo, pointing at himself, “I need to do a better job.” He then said that the team has learned from their mistakes, coached from the film, and moved on. Dwelling on the game will lead to more bad performances, something they can’t afford.
“You can second guess every call from last Sunday,” replied McAdoo, when asked about his decision to throw the ball on 3rd and a long 1 on the Giants first drive. It led to the first sack of Eli Manning and started the downward spiral for the offense. He added that it’s not a matter of lacking trust in Andre Williams and that Williams prepares like a professional, runs hard, and will go out and do it again.
Coverage often determined the production the team gets from a position group, and tight end has seen their production drop off since Donnell caught three touchdowns against Washington two weeks ago. McAdoo would like to see it improve, but pointed out that lack of production was a wide spread issue for the team on Sunday night.
Officiating has been a hot topic of conversation on SiriusXM NFL radio and on other NFL themed programming as it’s been more prevalent in games this season. Ross Tucker said on his radio show on SiriusXM and again on his podcast that the biggest issue is not bad calls, but phantom calls, flags thrown when there is no foul evident. Multiple fans called in and said they are loathe to cheer for a defensive stop before scanning the field to ensure that there’s no flag thrown and Bob Papa, the Giants broadcaster who co-hosts with Tucker two mornings a week, added that he’s less enthusiastic about his third down calls due to the number of flags being thrown in 2014. Inconsistent and intrusive officiating is destroying the flow and energy of NFL and the issue is reaching a critical level. Giants360 has been making this point since the preseason and others are joining our voice. The NFL needs to take action to correct this flaw in the game.
Sunday’s Giants/Cowboys game will be officiated by the Jerome Boger crew. They throw an average number of flags per game, 16, but are among the highest of all crews in calling blocking penalties and personal fouls. Point of emphasis penalties are not among their top fouls called, but they do call them, ranking 9th among officiating crews in making throwing these flags. The last word on officiating until after the game – Gary Myers of the New York Daily News put it best when he said, enough with the point of emphasis penalties, we get the point already. Amen.
It’s Friday, which means a Superfan Corner day on Giants360. Today we bring you @scarfsoldiers and their amazing vehicle, the G-Famulance. This converted ambulance, decked out in a New York Football Giants theme, features a 50 inch smart television, two beer taps, and a barbeque mounted to a stretcher. A fixture at Metlife Stadium in it’s first season of service, the Scarf Soldiers will taking the G-Fambulance on the road, planning a visiting Tennessee this December.
Giants360 has been invited to tour this amazing vehicle and we will let you know what it’s like in person. For now, we’ll share these pictures. Rumor has it, former Giants great Brandon Jacobs will be there the same day we will, so stay tuned for that. Thank you to the Scarf Soldiers for sharing their remarkable story.
If you have a Giants story to share and would like to be featured in the Superfan Corner, contact us on Twitter @giants360. We love hearing about Giants fans living in other countries, or in the other teams territories. We share pictures of you, your children, family, or pets dressed up in their Giants attire. You must be following the Giants360 Twitter account to be featured.