The New York Giants and Odell Beckham Jr. have an extra day to reflect on Sunday night’s debacle, but their focus remains solely on the Detroit Lions.
They’re not going to use it to stew over their forgettable debut.
The Giants (0-1) returned to the practice field on late Thursday morning and got back to work as they prepare for a meeting with the Lions on Monday Night Football (8:30 PM, ESPN). Despite looking lifeless in Arlington, the team is not singling out any individual unit for their woes. Rather, they’re preparing to improve and win — as a team.
“Everyone keeps pointing to the offensive line. There was enough (blame) to go around. We have to work this week to improve,” McAdoo said. “No one’s blaming anybody. We have a lot of work to do as an offense. It’s not just the offensive line.”
Even members of the lauded defense, who mostly limited the Dallas damage to Dan Bailey field goals on Sunday night, insisted that they needed to step to ensure victory against the Lions (1-0). Though the unit held the Cowboys to just one touchdown, they were on the field for over two-thirds of the first half, as Dallas ran 47 plays over the first two quarters.
“We know we have to get off the field. We need to get the offense the ball back,” safety Landon Collins said. “We need to get them better field position. That’s our mindset.”
“It all comes to third down,” cornerback Eli Apple added. “Our third down defense wasn’t up to par and it wasn’t up to our standards. That’s something we are definitely trying to fix this week.” To Apple’s point, the Cowboys were 8-for-15 on third down, including 5-for-9 in the first half.
The Giants are facing off against the Lions at home for the second consecutive season, taking last year’s meeting in a 17-6 December triumph. Several Giants, however, noted that this Lions team is very different from the one that showed up at MetLife Stadium nine months ago.
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“I’d say they’re more healthy,” Apple said. “Their running backs are back. (Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick) are great pass catchers and guys who can make people miss. So, we’re going to have to take that into account.” With Abdullah and Riddick out due to injury, the Lions had just 56 yards on 19 carries in last season’s meeting.
Leading the Lions into battle is quarterback Matthew Stafford, he of the $135 million extension that made him the NFL’s highest paid player. The first overall pick of the 2009 draft made yet another fourth quarter comeback last Sunday, his ninth over the past two seasons, tossing four touchdown passes in a 35-23 victory over Arizona.
Stafford, who had an injured finger going into last year’s meeting with the Giants, struggled against New York last season, going 24-for-39 with 273 yards and an interception. Despite the struggles, McAdoo had high praise for the Georgia alum, whom he referred to as “definitely a top-10 quarterback”.
“He’s among the finest QB’s in the league,” McAdoo said. “He doesn’t get a lot of credit for being a quarterback who can move in the pocket and extend plays and I think that’s one of the things that he does best. He takes advantage of matchups. He can make a variety of throws, all the throws from a variety of different body positions.”
The defense also looks forward to the challenge of containing Lions rookie receiver Kenny Golladay. Detroit’s third-round pick out of Northern Illinois, Golladay was the unlikely hero against Arizona, making two highlight reel-worthy touchdown grabs, including the one the gave Detroit the lead for good.
“He went to Northern Illinois and I played against him my last year of college,” explained Apple, an Ohio State alum. “He’s a tall receiver. Great deep threat. So, he’s going to be a great challenge for us.” Golladay had 19 yards on three receptions in that game, a 20-13 Buckeyes win in September 2015.
Detroit leads the all-time series 22-21-1 against the Giants, but New York has won four of the past five meetings. The lone exception was also on Monday Night Football, a 35-14 Lions win at Ford Field that opened the 2014 season. The Lions have not won in East Rutherford since 2004 and are 0-2 at MetLife Stadium.
In injury news, Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle) returned to practice for the Giants, participating in drills for the first time since his departure from the August 21 preseason game against Cleveland. Tackle Bobby Hart (ankle) spent the early part of practice on a stationary bike before going indoors while linebacker Keenan Robinson (concussion) remained a no-show. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins was a full participant in Thursday’s practice, despite leaving Dallas with his hand wrapped, one that was not present on Thursday. Also fully participating were defensive tackle Jay Bromley (knee) and receiver Tavarres King (ankle).