Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 11-22-17

Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.


By Aaron Klein

One foot in front of the other, the saying goes. After pulling off an upset Sunday afternoon by beating Kansas City at MetLife Stadium, Giants found themselves with their second victory in 10 tries - and let's be honest, Kansas City didn't look like a playoff-bound team should - and have their eyes on at least saving face by getting a few more wins before the season closes out.


With a short week, they travel to Washington to face the Redskins on Thanksgiving night, a division rival facing a disappointing yet not disastrous season. Both teams are coming off Sunday games and both want to win this one. Heck, the whole one game at a time theory sounds great, but it's designed to keep teams focused on the big prize: getting into the post-season, something neither team should expect this year.


This almost certainly won't happen, but if they win out, the Giants would have an 8-8 record by beating Washington on Thursday, Oakland on the road, Dallas, Philadelphia, Arizona on the road and Washington again. Would 8-8 get them into the playoffs? They'd need tons of help and massive collapses by teams like Dallas, Carolina, Seattle and Atlanta, but they aren't mathematically eliminated.

Crazy talk, I know.

According to the Giants' injury report that was released Tuesday, their only day of practice, the roster is surely banged up and could be missing some contributors again, a list headed up by receiver Sterling Shepard, who is still listed with an illness believed to be symptoms of a migraine. Right guard D.J. Fluker is now battling a toe injury and joined Shepard, linebackers B.J. Goodson (ankle) and Calvin Munson (quad) and guard/tackle Justin Pugh (back) on the sidelines at practice.

The list of those who were limited was even longer: running back Orleans Darkwa(hamstring), defensive tackle Damon Harrison (ankle), defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (knee), linebacker Kelvin Sheppard (groin), defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson (ankle) and defensive end Olivier Vernon (shoulder).

While we could expect most of the "limited" players, losing Fluker and the linebackers would present a problem. Munson filled in for Goodson as the MIKE linebacker and was second in tackles in the win over the Chiefs. If both are out, along with Sheppard being wounded, the linebacker corps will be seriously shorthanded against a Redskins offense that is ninth in the league in offensive yardage per game (359.4) and is 12th in scoring 23.8 points per game despite their 4-6 record.

Injuries have been the theme this season, though no team will use them as an excuse. You've heard the "next man up" cry and it is valid. However, those next men are usually a notch below than the starters on the talent scale, albeit still professionals with special sets of skills. In fact, it might be working in some cases, like that of rookie Chad Wheeler stepping in at right tackle for Pugh, and Roger Lewis Jr. taking advantage of his chances at wide receiver.

Is it fair for the Giants to cry, hands in the air and surrender? Surely, losing receivers Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris for the season? They also had to place center Weston Richburg, tackle Adam Gettis, linebackers Keenan Robinson and J.T. Thomas on injured reserve as well, and plenty of players still active have been nursing a variety of injuries all season... just like players on the other 31 teams in the league. Still, losing a guy like OBJ from the lineup for the season is as impactful and season-altering as any injury situation could be and should not be overlooked. The absence of his offensive contribution is glaring and the loss changed everything the Giants have done on offense since he broke his ankle in Week 5.

Now, while the original offense, when healthy, wasn't exactly on fire, the Giants were at least alive in more than a few of their first six losses, two of which were lost in the closing seconds after relinquishing a late lead, the unit playing today seemed to be gelling in the sense of fewer mistakes and slightly more cohesion despite a low points output. Coming together now screams of too little, too late, but you could also go with better late than never.

Will veteran quarterback Eli Manning have to make another fired-up speech like the one he gave the team before the Kansas City game? Maybe, but he leads more by example and one-on-one talks than by rallying the troops with rants and roars. If you ever wondered about leadership on the Giants this year, you could certainly look to Manning on the offensive side of the ball if not the entire organization. Despite his stats and the numbers, he's been exactly the kind of player the Giants need right now, the kind player they knew he was when he was drafted back in 2004.


The Redskins represent the Giants first NFC East opponent since the Week 3 road loss to Philadelphia. ...

In the event that Fluker can't go on Thursday night, look for free agent Jon Halapio or recently-signed free agent John Greco to get the starting nod. No, Pugh won't be ready yet. If Greco or Halapio start it would create the eighth incarnation of the offensive line since the season began. ...

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins is third in the league in passing yardage (2,796 yards) with a 101.8 passer rating, 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions. Four of his touchdowns passes were caught by running back Chris Thompson, the team's leading receiver. Running back Rob Kelly and Cousins himself each have three rushing touchdowns; Thompson has two. ...

Washington's defense ranks 24th in yards allowed per game (363.6) and is second in points allowed per game (26.6). However, the unit has notched 24 sacks this season and is tied for fifth in the NFL with 11 interceptions. Linebackers Ryan Kerrigan (seven sacks) and Preston Smith (4.5) and Zach Brown (101 tackles) lead the way. ...

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- Team Giants

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Second Half
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The Third Straight Loss
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