While those outside the organization are fixated on the ‘feud’ between quarterback and coach, the New York Giants are focused on the Philadelphia Eagles.
You should probably never ask anyone involved in an NFL organization whether an upcoming game is a ‘must-win’. You’ll inevitably be told that ‘every game is a must-win’, a mantra members of the 0-2 New York Giants put a spin on following Wednesday afternoon’s jog-through practice.
“I think you look at all games as must-win. Obviously, it’s an important game in the situation,” quarterback Eli Manning said. “But you can’t put more pressure on yourself than what’s needed. So, we’ve got to have a great week of preparation and go out there, play hard on offense, we’ve got to make more plays and play better, score more points.”
The term “must-win” probably shouldn’t be coming out while the MLB regular season is still in progress, but the Giants have only themselves to blame for this predicament. The quest to climb out of the 0-2 hole becomes a little more arduous this Sunday, as the Giants are taking on the Philadelphia Eagles (1 p.m. ET, FOX). While the Eagles (1-1) dropped their Week 2 contest to Kansas City, some have pinned them as the greatest threat to the Dallas Cowboys’ NFC East title defense. Their defense, anchored by defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and safety Malcolm Jenkins, has earned positive reviews in the early going, and sophomore quarterback Carson Wentz has benefitted from the additions of receivers Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith.
Wentz’s improvement and the Eagles’ front line were among the hot topics at the Giants’ headquarters today.
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“It looks like he has eyes in the back of his head right now,” Giants head coach Ben McAdoo said of Wentz. “He’s a dangerous player whether in or out of the pocket and he has some big players around him, some big skill players who can make some plays for him whether it’s [tight end Zach] Ertz or the two new receivers they brought in.”
“They have a great defense,” guard and Holland, PA native Justin Pugh said. “They get after the quarterback. They get after it with their front four. A lot of respect to them. We’ve gone done there the past few times, (and) have not played well. So, we got our work cut out for us this week.”
Perhaps even more discussed in the locker room was talk not of an attack from Philadelphia, but one from inside. After the Giants’ disastrous home opener, a lifeless 24-10 showing against the Detroit Lions, McAdoo had a blunt take on the performance of franchise staple Manning. The second-year coach mentioned “sloppy QB play” in his postgame press conference, which caused an uproar amongst fans, especially as McAdoo continues to defend the offensive line.
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The coach and quarterback, however, addressed the so-called controversy, and it was clear that there’s no Big Blue feud brewing in East Rutherford.
“If Eli has anything he needs to talk to me about, my door is open,” McAdoo said. “We spend a lot of time together during the week.”
“[The criticism is] part of being in the NFL. You can’t be sensitive and I think everyone’s gotten very sensitive…players and everybody,” Manning said. “Coach McAdoo and I have a great relationship. I think he understands that – I told him when he first got here, I enjoy being coached, if I screw something up, let me know. I want to be coached, so we talked about things and there’s some things I’ve got to do that I’ve got to be better at.”
Manning also offered a vote of confidence in the offensive line.
“I’ve got great confidence in these guys. They work their tails off and they’re prepared,” Manning said. “They know they’ve got a great test in front of them. [The] Eagles defensive line [is] one of the best in the league. But I’ve got great confidence in them. They’ll do their job, they’ll give us enough time to make the plays.”
If the Giants are to rise from their 0-2 hole, they’ll have to reverse their mojo against Philadelphia. Though the Giants ended a four-game losing streak against the Eagles in East Rutherford in November last season, they have not won in Philadelphia since 2013.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, speaking via conference call, acknowledged that the Giants will enter Lincoln Financial Field hungry for a win, desperate to keep up in the wild show that is the NFC East. The Giants are the lone winless team in the division, as Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington all stand at 1-1.
“Anytime a team is looking to get on track, it could be a dangerous thing because there is obviously extra motivation there,” Pederson said. “Obviously coming off of the Kansas City loss, it’s just something that can give you a little extra motivation to play well and it’s not like you have to do anything real special outside of just making a few more plays and just give yourself a chance.”
Pederson, likewise in his second year, is looking to build some early season momentum in Philadelphia. The Eagles, who topped the Redskins in their Week 1 match, began last season 3-0, but couldn’t keep the early momentum going, finishing 7-9 and missing the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
“I love the NFC East. I think it is very, very competitive,” the former Eagles quarterback said. “It’s a hard-nosed division. Any one of us could really end up on top. But at the same time, I think each team, too, is just focusing on themselves and taking it one day at a time, one game at a time. Obviously, I know we pay attention to this, coaches and players, you pay attention to your division and you see where teams are and how teams are doing and anybody can beat anybody. We’ve had some great matchups against the Giants in years past and this won’t be any different.”
In injury news, tight end Evan Engram was placed in concussion protocol, though team staff mentioned it was “a precaution”. Engram was listed as limited in practice alongside receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle) and linebacker Keenan Robinson (concussion). Linebackers BJ Goodson (shin), tackle Bobby Hart (ankle), cornerback Janoris Jenkins (ankle) did not participate.