Alex Smith | Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
From A to Z and everything in between
A is for … Alex: If you aren’t applauding the comeback by Alex Smith, and you can’t appreciate what he accomplished by playing football again two years after a gruesome injury and subsequent infection caused doctors to consider amputating his leg, then there is a problem staring back at you in the mirror.
B is for … Bold: The Giants showed a willingness to be bold last week with a fake field goal, a flea flicker and a couple of running plays for tight end Evan Engram. That was good to see. Let’s hope it continues.
“I think you’re always trying to find ways to make plays. Plays like that are typically in game plans week after week and you’re looking for the right opportunity to call those kinds of things. Some weeks you might be more apt to call them based upon where you are or what the defense is doing. Other weeks, you might have them in but a little bit less likely to call them. Sometimes just situations in the game dictate those kinds of things,” Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. “You always want to attack the defense different ways. It starts with run and pass, using tempo, formations, movements. What you try to do to compliment your base stuff. Hopefully in those situations, you call them, and you can execute them.”
C is for … Cam and Carter: With Lorenzo Carter lost for the season and Oshane Ximines out for at least a few more weeks with a shoulder injury, the Giants are likely going to need defensive contributions from rookie linebackers Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin.
Brown, the team’s sixth-round pick, has emerged as quality special teams player. At some point, the Giants are going to need to get him some defensive snaps and see if that success can carry over to that part of the game.
Coughlin might be in a more difficult spot. Drafted as an edge player, Coughlin has been working as an inside linebacker in recent weeks. Now, out of necessity, the Giants may need to move him back outside. The shuffling can’t be a great thing for a rookie’s development.
D is for … Devonta: Devonta Freeman emerged as the Giants’ workhorse running back last week with 17 carries for 60 yards and a pair of pass receptions.
E is for … Engram: Love the fact that the Giants seem to have committed to finding creative ways to get the ball to speedy tight end Evan Engram in the run game. Hate the way they are using him in the pass game, with stick routes and curls rather than using his speed to threaten defenses on vertical and crossing routes. Engram is on pace for only 57.6 catches after being on pace for 88 last season before suffering a foot injury. He is averaging career lows in yards per catch (8.2), yards receiving per game (29.4) and yards per target (4.6). Engram has flaws, but he is one offensive player who can get the Giants the explosive plays they have been lacking. They need to stop making excuses for why those opportunities haven’t arisen, and find ways to get him down the field.
F is for … Fackrell: With Carter and Ximines out, Kyler Fackrell played every defensive snap last week. He ended up with an interception for a touchdown. Fackrell said this week that the increased workload is fine with him.
“I don’t mind it. I would prefer to be on the field,” he said.
G is for … Golden: Through the first four games, Markus Golden was really an afterthought in the Giants’ rotation of edge defenders. He played only 7 snaps Week 4 against the Los Angeles Rams. The team’s 2019 sack leader is now in line for full-time duty with the Giants being this at outside linebacker. Golden is more pure pass rusher than a multi-skilled player who can drop into coverage like the players he will be replacing, but the Giants need him to produce.
H is for … Haskins: Anyone still willing to make the case that the Giants should have drafted Dwayne Haskins instead of Daniel Jones?
I is for … Inconsolable: That seems like a good word to describe the way Giants special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey seemed about the fake field goal touchdown the Giants lost last Sunday due to a penalty.
“It was a few things that went wrong. But ultimately, at the end of the day, we didn’t get it done. That’s the disappointing part of it. When you get a chance to make a play like that, you have to execute the play. That’s really disappointing,” McGaughey said.
“It’s a one and done type of deal. You probably have to put it in the bank for about another year and a half before you can break it out. It is what it is.”
J is for … Jabrill: Safety Jabrill Peppers played only 23 defensive snaps last week as he worked his way back from an ankle injury that kept him out Week 4. The Giants admitted wanting to work him in slowly. His workload will likely increase this week. Will that cost safety Adrian Colbert snaps? Thin on the edge and with a rookie seventh-round pick in Tae Crowder starting at inside linebacker, could the Giants rely on a three-safety look that features a heavy dose of Peppers, Colbert and Logan Ryan?
K is for … Kyle: Washington is turning to Kyle Allen at quarterback. Allen was a mixed bag playing for the Carolina Panthers a season ago, with 17 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions in 13 games and QBR of 39.7 that was second-worst in the NFL to Haskins.
L is for … Landon: Hey, remember Landon Collins?
M is for … McLaurin: If there is a single Washington offensive player the Giants need to worry about on Sunday, that has to be wide receiver Terry McLaurin. James Bradberry, you’re up!
N is for … Nick: There will be concern about Nick Gates’ ability to be a starting NFL center until he plays better than he has thus far and proves he can handle the job. Over the last two seasons we have seen that Spencer Pulley isn’t the answer at that spot. The jury remains out on whether or not Gates can be.
O is for … Odds: Las Vegas oddsmakers have the Giants favored to win this game, the first time that has been the case all season. Can the Giants live up to expectations?
P is for … Pass rush: Or pass protection. Either way. Washington has a lot of good pass rushers. The Giants have been bad at pass protection. If the Giants are going to win Sunday, they need to figure out how to fix that.
Q is for … Quagmire: That seems like a good word to describe the NFC East, the only division in football led by a team with a losing record. That would be the 2-3 Dallas Cowboys.
R is for … Rivera: Would Ron Rivera be the Giants’ coach had he not chosen the Washington job before the Giants even really began to look for a new head coach? Maybe. Regardless, say a prayer for the Washington coach as he battles lymph node cancer.
S is for … Snyder: Dan Snyder still owns the Washington Football Team. That’s always been a bad thing for the Washington Football Team. Still is. Always will be.
T is for … Thomas: Giants’ rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas, the fourth overall pick in the draft, has not lived up to expectations thus far. There’s no way around that. And with Chase Young, the player the Giants missed out on after beating Washington in a late-season game last season, dominating and playing on the other side Sunday this week would be a good time for Thomas to start looking like the “dominating left tackle” offensive line coach Marc Colombo believes he can become.
U is for … Unused: Julian Love, a fourth-round pick a season ago and a player expected to be a big part of the Giants’ defense, did not play a single snap on defense last week against Dallas. It’s clear that the Giants’ new coaching staff prefers not only veteran Logan Ryan, but also Adrian Colbert, to Love.
V is for … Victory: The Giants, obviously, haven’t had one. Players continue to say they are buying in and that they believe they are doing the right things and getting better. They need a victory — probably a handful of victories — over the remaining 11 games to validate that work.
W is for … Winning: Judge was asked multiple times during the week about whether players need to learn to win.
“I’ve heard that a lot lately. Everyone talking about learning how to win, teaching them how to win. This is my belief on that. You don’t win in the 60th minute. There is not some magic formula, there’s not some grand scheme playbook that you come out with that this is how you win games,” Judge said. “The way you win games is playing every play with the best technique, assignment and focus you can, eliminating mistakes and capitalizing on your opponent’s mistakes. That’s really the secret. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. I say that to our team a lot. We just try to keep football for what it is.
“I don’t mean to just generalize that right there, but to me, that’s the way I address it to our team. I have no problem saying that publicly. But the secret to winning is just doing your job for 60 minutes, and that’s what it comes down to.”
X is for … X Factor: I think the X Factor for the Giants is going to be whether or not the Giants can run the ball as well or better on Sunday vs. Washington than they did last Sunday vs. Dallas. Want to slow a pass rush? Run the football successfully and stay out of third-and-long situations that allow pass rushers to tee off.
Y is for … Young: That’s Chase Young, of course. The pass rusher who was the dream target for so many Giants fans in the 2020 draft. Alas, the Giants weren’t bad enough to be able to select him. Now, Andrew Thomas, Cam Fleming, Jason Garrett and Marc Colombo have to deal with him.
Z is for … Montez: I’m cheating, but there is a ‘z’ in his name, and Montez Sweat is really good. As good as Dexter Lawrence is at what he does, it’s fair to wonder why the pass rush deficient Giants didn’t select Sweat rather Lawrence with the 17th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.