SEARCHING FOR FIRST WIN
Big Blue will look to avoid starting 0-4 for the second consecutive season when they travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints.
"I think the DNA of our team is a team that comes back and goes to work," Joe Judge said this week. "Look, no one is going to be happy after a loss, that's the reality of what it is. The element of what we do as professionals (is) we've got to come back and go to work. We've got to watch the tape, we've got key on it and we've got to prepare for a tough opponent coming up next week. In terms of the morale of the team, I trust in the way the guys work, the way I've seen them work on a day in and day out basis and they stick together as a team. That's the biggest part I'm looking for is how they work."
The Giants lead the all-time series against the Saints, 16-14. In the most recent meeting between the two teams, New Orleans made the trip north and defeated the Giants, 33-18, in 2018. The last time the two clubs played in the Superdome was in 2015, when Eli Manning and Drew Brees put together one of the most jaw-dropping QB performances in NFL history. The two future Hall of Famers combined for an NFL-record 13 touchdown passes, to go with their 855 total passing yards, and the 101 combined points finished tied for the fourth-most in league history.
New York Giants:
Out: OL Ben Bredeson (hand), WR Sterling Shepard (hamstring), WR Darius Slayton (hamstring)
Questionable: DB Keion Crossen (elbow), LB Tae Crowder (hamstring), DB Nate Ebner (quad), TE Kaden Smith (knee)
New Orleans Saints:
Out: C Erik McCoy, T Terron Armstead
MORE CHANGES ON O-LINE?
The Giants have used a different starting offensive line every game this season. One of the newcomers to the O-line, center Billy Price, put together his strongest performance as a Giant last week. Price earned a 76.2 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, including a 73.5 pass block grade and 76.4 run block grade, in just his second start with the team.
"I've just been really impressed with those guys," Offensive Coordinantor Jason Garrett said Thursday. "Billy Price comes in, he's the seasoned veteran, he's been here for about three weeks. Bredeson has come in here, he's played a lot of snaps. We'll have some new guys in there. Give (Offensive Line Coach) Rob Sale and the guys on the offensive line a lot of credit, but give those players credit. They've come in here, they've learned, they've spent a lot of extra time. They're working hard in practice and they're carrying that to the game. They're real professionals and we're excited to have them on our team."
Interior lineman Matt Skura is one option to fill in for injured left guard Ben Bredeson. Skura, who joined the team just a few weeks ago, played four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and started 51 of 54 games from 2017-2020. He also was a teammate of Daniel Jones at Duke during the quarterback's redshirt freshman season.
STEPPING UP AT WR
The Giants' receiving corps took a hit last week as Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton suffered hamstring injuries early in the game. So, the Giants will need production from some of the other receivers on the roster this weekend. Kenny Golladay ranks second on the team in receptions and receiving yards, but the 6-foot-4 veteran will likely be seeing a lot of coverage from three-time Pro Bowler Marshon Lattimore.
Kadarius Toney could be one player in line for an uptick in touches in Week 4. After being on the field for a total of 24 offensive snaps in Weeks 1 and 2, the rookie saw 46 offensive snaps (66 percent) in Week 3. Another player who stepped up following last week's injuries was Collin Johnson. After joining the team right before the start of the season, Johnson was active for the first time against the Falcons, finishing the game with five receptions for 51 yards. Additionally, John Ross could make his Giants debut in Week 4 after starting the season on injured reserve.
"I was pleased with the progress I saw from (Wide Receiver Kadarius) Toney and (Wide Receiver) Collin Johnson yesterday at the receiver position," Judge said on Monday. "Obviously, (Wide Receiver) Kenny (Golladay) was making a lot of plays for us. (Wide Receiver) C.J. Board made some nice plays for us. At some point, we're hoping to get (Wide Receiver) John Ross (III) back off IR. We'll see where he's at health-wise in terms of if that's sooner or later. But that, combined with the tight ends and skill players, it's our job to make things work and function with who we have available.
"Obviously, we're without Shep or Slayton. Those are two key parts of our offense that we don't want to be without, two leaders on our team and hard workers, but we have confidence in guys in the locker room and guys on the roster to turn around and use these guys to keep going forward."
PROTECTING THE FOOTBALL
Ball security was one of Daniel Jones' biggest priorities this off-season, and through the first three games, the third-year quarterback has improved greatly in this area. Jones enters Week 4 with zero interceptions and just one fumble lost, and has gone two consecutive games without a turnover. However, Sunday's matchup against the Saints defense will serve as the young quarterback's toughest challenge yet.
The Saints are tied for the second-most turnovers in the NFL with seven through three weeks. Their six interceptions are tied for the league lead, as the unit has registered at least one in every game. So far this season, New Orleans has intercepted Packers QB Aaron Rodgers twice, Panthers QB Sam Darnold once and Patriots QB Mac Jones three times. While their turnover rate has been impressive, the Saints have only picked up five sacks this year.
"You talk about this defense, you start with the secondary on the backend," Judge said about the Saints. "The corners are very, very aggressive, they're very capable of man-matching you, they're very good in their match zones. The safeties are experienced and they have good versatility as blitzers or deep-field cover players. They don't make a lot of mistakes. They put you in a position you really have to execute."
View rare photos from the all-time series between the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints.
AZEEZ'S HOT START
Azeez Ojulari has already entered the franchise record books with the start to his NFL career. The rookie out of Georgia is the first player in Giants history with a sack in each of his first three career games. He is also the first NFL player with at least 1.0 sack in each of his first three career games since Cleveland's Myles Garrett in 2017. His 77.5 pass rush grade ranks 23rd among all edge defenders, tops among edge defenders from the 2021 draft and third among all rookies, while his three sacks leads the rookie class.
"I'm just doing whatever they want me to do," Ojulari told reporters Monday. "Playing my heart (out), playing my best, playing my heart out (out) there. Just whatever comes to me, make the plays that come my way. I'm just trying to do what I've got to do and do my part...
"Everyone in this league is good and athletic. The tackles are bigger, stronger, faster. Everyone is athletic in this league and they can adjust to different things. You basically, really (have) to bring your A-game every single time. Every rep you get, every rush you get, you've got to bring your best out there."
JAMEIS WINSTON HISTORY VS. NYG
Jameis Winston is off to a strong start this season. While he has only thrown for 387 yards in three games, his seven touchdown passes are tied for fifth in the league. Winston is no stranger to the Giants, as Sunday's contest will be the fifth time he faces Big Blue in just seven seasons. The former No. 1 overall pick has gone 1-3 in his first three meetings against the Giants, but has put up some impressive stats. Winston has 1,158 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions in those four games, good for a passer rating of 104.4, while adding another touchdown on the ground.
"He's a big man that is looking to push the ball down the field," Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham said this week. "I think he does a good job of doing that. I think he's making better decisions as of late in terms of the last time I went against him. The thing is, when he's hot, he's hot. He can really torch you. So, we've got to be mindful of that. This guy has a big arm. He's athletic in the pocket. He's not the most – like, he's elusive in the pocket and he can make plays with his feet. I think he's making good decisions in their check-with-me game. You see him make checks into runs. I think he's grown as a player."
SLOWING DOWN ALVIN KAMARA
There is no denying who the focal point of the Saints' offense is - to two-time All-Pro running back Alvin Kamara. Through three weeks, Kamara has already registered 62 touches (52 rush attempts, 10 receptions), including 23+ touches in two of three games. Kamara is explosive with the ball in his hands, evidenced by his over 1,300 total yards from scrimmage in each of his first four seasons and his career average of 4.9 yards per carry. He led the NFL with a whopping 21 touchdowns last season, and presents a difficult challenge for any opposing defense.
"Kamara is a guy you've got to account for," Judge said Wednesday. "This guy is one of the top players in the league. He's a guy that jumps out at you all the time – receiver, runner, screens, whatever it may be. This guy with the ball in his hands is an absolute weapon. We've got to make sure we account for him in everything that we do because of everything that they do with him."
"This guy is pretty good," Graham added. "I've been in the league for 13 years now and he has a unique skill set. He's challenging to prepare for because of the pass game and the run game because even when you think you've got him bottled up, he gets the leaky yards… He's the guy we've got to try to stop. We've got to try to stop him."
Stopping Kamara will be a little tougher this week now that Blake Martinez, a defensive captain and last year's leading tackler, is lost for the season. The Giants will need Tae Crowder, Reggie Ragland and the rest of the linebacker group to step up.
FIRST GAME BACK AT SUPERDOME
Playing at the Superdome is never an easy feat, but this weekend's game will likely be even louder than normal. Sunday will represent the first time the Saints are playing in the Superdome in front of a full home crowd since the 2019 playoffs. Due to Hurricane Ida, the team was forced to play their first home game down in Jacksonville, but recently received approval to return home for Week 4. Coach Judge acknowledged the crowd noise the Giants are going to have to deal with this weekend, and admitted it will present them with a big challenge.
"We expect one of the greatest atmospheres we've ever been in," said the head coach. "For those of us who are kind of historians of the game, you look back on that Katrina game, the first game back in the dome. I would expect this to be very, very similar. That town takes a lot of pride in New Orleans, a lot of pride in their team and the team takes a lot of pride in representing their city, so this is going to be a tough game for us."