With all the things swirling on the outside, Tom Coughlin laid out a few goals for his team this week.
The focus was for the Giants' preparation to be "as good as it's been all yearlong" heading into their 2015 season finale against the Eagles, who this week relieved third-year coach Chip Kelly of his duties. The Giants and Eagles, who are both 6-9, were eliminated from postseason contention last week after the Redskins clinched the NFC East title.
"I'm sure that they'll have, after they settle things down today and midstream adjust, they'll come forth with a good week of practice and be prepared to come here to New York for a divisional game," Coughlin said, "which is a very, very important game for both of our teams, both sitting at the same record."
Here are three things the Giants need to do to end the season on a high note:
1. ALL THREE PHASES
The second goal Coughlin presented to his team was to have the offense, defense and special teams all play together at a high level. That has not been the case very often in a season that featured six losses after the Giants were leading or tied with less than two minutes left in the game. In particular, Coughlin stressed the importance of special teams, where the Eagles are "outstanding" and rank in the top six in kick return, kick coverage and punt coverage.
"It's been rare this year that this happened, and I'm very disappointed in that," Coughlin said. "But all three phases play their best game, and that we not beat ourselves. And that we win the last game of the 2015 season here at home against a divisional foe. If that could happen—beating Philadelphia—then we would have split with all three of our divisional foes."
2. PROTECT ELI
Playmakers on Eagles first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike
Eli Manning was sacked a season-high four times last week by the Vikings, and it's no coincidence that he had a season-low passer rating of 50.7. While the Eagles rank 30th in yards allowed and 28th in points allowed, their front can't be overlooked. Defensive end Fletcher Cox leads the way 9.5 sacks, 4.0 of which came in the last three games. Philadelphia has 35 sacks as a team, tied with Arizona and Seattle for 15th in the NFL.
"It's kind of difficult to understand that regarding the quality of their front," Coughlin said of their overall defensive rankings. "Their front is outstanding."
3. TIME OF POSSESSION
With Kelly out for the final game, Coughlin doesn't expect interim coach Pat Shurmur, who was the team's offensive coordinator, to deviate from their style. The Eagles are second in the NFL in total plays with 1,037, but the tradeoff comes in time of possession, where Philadelphia is last with an average of 25:42. Meanwhile, the Giants are 5-0 when they win the time of possession, the outlier being their Week 7 victory over the Cowboys. In their nine losses, the Giants have an average time of possession of 26:31.
"I think they continue to play the system that they have," Coughlin said. "Why would they change? They practiced yesterday."