CROSS-COUNTRY TRIP BEFORE THE BYE
For the second time in the first half of the season, the Giants will embark on a long flight for this weekend's opponent. Just three weeks after flying to London to take on the Green Bay Packers, the Giants will now fly across the country to face off against the Seahawks in Seattle. However, Brian Daboll and the rest of the coaching staff have made the necessary adjustments to the practice schedule in order to get the players ready for the cross-country trip.
"I would say our sports science, training staff and strength staff do a really good job of making sure we get what we need," Coach Brian Daboll said in his weekly one-on-one interview with Giants.com. "We adjust the schedule weekly. There's a routine, but we're always looking to be better based on what we need. And I think these past, let's call it last four weeks, from the London trip to Baltimore then down to playing in the heat in Jacksonville and Seattle, we've tweaked it kind of each week with that week in mind, but the long four weeks together. So, whether it was fewer reps, not as much conditioning, more conditioning one day, those are all things that we've tinkered with."
The Giants have gotten their season off to a stellar start, winning six of their first seven games. Sunday's matchup in Seattle is the team's final game before their Week 9 bye, where the players and coaches will get some necessary time off to rest before getting ready for the second half of the season. While the team will certainly welcome the bye, Saquon Barkley reiterated that the focus is entirely on the Seahawks and playing in front of their notoriously loud home crowd.
"It's just focusing on Sunday," Barkley told the media Thursday. "You can't get too caught up in the bigger picture. Like I said, Seattle's a really good team. They're playing extremely well right now too, just as we are, so it's going to be a great game. We know we'll get their best effort. Going into a hostile environment and the only mindset that we can have and that we're going to have is that going out there and trying to go out 1-0."
The Week 8 contest will be the 20th all-time meeting between the Giants and Seahawks. The Giants hold the slight edge in the series, going 10-9 in the first 19 games. The last game between the two franchises occurred during the 2020 campaign, when the Giants traveled to Seattle and defeated the then 8-3 Seahawks, 17-12. Defensive lineman Leonard Williams had one of his best games as a Giant that day when he registered 2.5 sacks and five quarterback hits.
Out: TE Daniel Bellinger (eye), OL Ben Bredeson (knee), CB Cor'Dale Flott (calf), WR Kenny Golladay (knee), T Evan Neal (knee), OLB Oshane Ximines (quad)
Questionable: OL Tyre Phillips (toe), S Jason Pinnock (foot), DL Leonard Williams (elbow)
Out: LB Nick Bellore (concussion)
Doubtful: WR Penny Hart (hamstring)
Questionable: WR DK Metcalf (knee), G Phil Haynes (concussion), DE Poona Ford (ankle), OLB Darrell Taylor (groin), G Gabe Jackson (hip/knee), WR Tyler Lockett (hamstring), CB Sidney Jones IV (groin)
NO LEAD IS SAFE VS. GIANTS
The ability of the 2022 Giants to overcome late deficits has truly been impressive. Of the team's six wins, five have been of the comeback variety, including the most recent victory in Jacksonville. Down 17-13 in the fourth quarter, the defense came up with a big stop on 4th-and-1 to force a turnover on downs. The offense then marched on a 10-play, 79-yard scoring drive that took nearly six minutes off the clock and grabbed the lead. After quickly getting the ball back, the offense put together another 61-yard drive to add a field goal and extend the margin to six, which ended up making the difference after the Jaguars got the ball into field goal range at the end of the game.
The Giants are 4-0 when trailing after three quarters this year. From 2017-21, the team went 2-48 in the same situation. They also have a league-high three victories after trailing by 10+ points in the second half. Nearing the midpoint of the season, it has become evident that this Giants team feels confident that they have the ability to come back from any deficit.
"There's just a competitive spirit," Daniel Jones said about the team after Sunday's win. "There's a mental toughness to our group, and regardless of what's happened earlier in the game or regardless of the situation, we've got confidence that we're going to execute and find ways to win. Like I said, there's a lot of points in the game, a lot of plays that we would like to have back, to clean up, and hopefully make a couple more plays so we're not in that situation, but credit to Jacksonville. They're a good team, good defense, and they played well today."
DJ DOING IT ALL
Daniel Jones leads the NFL with five game-winning drives. On each of those drives, Jones has displayed tremendous composure in leading the offense down the field, getting it done with both his arm and his legs. He was acknowledged by the league for his outing against the Jaguars when he was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
"I think those are special awards for any player," the head coach said about Jones winning the weekly honor. "I think that any player would say they're team awards, too. This is such a team sport. But certainly, you say congratulations on the achievement that he had for the week. I thank all the other guys, too, for helping him out. You need everybody else for a quarterback, too."
Jones' passing numbers may not pop off the paper, but the young signal-caller has done whatever is necessary in order to get the victory. He completed 19 of 30 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown against the Jaguars for a passer rating of 94.0. On the season, Jones has completed 66.7 percent of his passes, which would set a career-best for the 25-year-old. More importantly, he has thrown only two interceptions while starting every game, despite dealing with an ankle injury.
"That's what we're trying to do: trying to eliminate turnovers," Daboll said about Jones' low turnover numbers this year. "He touches the ball on every play. There's a wide variety of reasons to turn the ball over, and I think that his decision-making process has been very good. We need to continue to improve on that. He's kept two hands on the ball in the pocket. Again, sometimes, they're just going to make a really good play on defense. I think he's practiced with good habits. It's something you've got to work on each week because each week is a different challenge."
While his abilities as a runner are hardly new, Jones has taken his rushing to the next level this season. He has carried the ball 58 times for 343 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. Meanwhile, his 15 rushes of 10+ yards are tied for the fifth-most in the NFL, while his 5.9 yards per carry are tied with Browns RB Nick Chubb for the sixth-best mark. Heading into Week 8, Jones has the third-most rushing yards among quarterbacks.
NEXT MAN UP
Although the Giants emerged from Jacksonville with a victory last weekend, the win proved to be costly. The offense lost starting right tackle Evan Neal and left guard Ben Bredeson to respective knee injuries which Brian Daboll described as "week-to-week" on Wednesday. Not long after losing the two linemen, starting tight end Daniel Bellinger left the game with an eye injury and was quickly brought to a local hospital for further evaluation.
Daboll said Bellinger will undergo eye surgery and it's "too early to tell" if he will be able to return this season. With the rookie tight end out, the Giants called upon Tanner Hudson and Chris Myarick to play larger roles in the offense. Mike Kafka expressed confidence in tight ends coach Andy Bischoff and the rest of the TE room prior to Bellinger being ruled out for Sunday's game.
"We'll certainly miss him and hope he gets back soon," the offensive coordinator said about the rookie tight end. "We've had a next man up mentality this whole season and the guys that will be stepping into those roles, we'll expect them jump right in and execute at a high level. Coach Bischoff does a great job of getting those guys ready. The rest of those guys will be ready to go."
In regards to the O-line, Tyre Phillips filled in for Neal at tackle while Joshua Ezeudu stepped in for Bredeson at guard. Ezeudu saw some action at the start of the season and now could be looking at a starting role come Sunday.
"He did a great job," Kafka said about the rookie guard's performance last week. "Again, that next man up mentality. He jumped right in there, handled the cadence and some of our silent count stuff. He did a really good job with that communication. There's a lot of things that he had to juggle and he jumped right in and executed it when he needed to. When everyone knew we were going to run the ball, he was one of those guys out in front with great fundamentals and all of the things that we talk about each day. He did a nice job with that."
LATEST ON INJURY FRONT
The Giants got some positive injury news this week. Nick Gates was officially activated off reserve and placed on the active roster. He is now eligible to make his season debut Sunday in Seattle, 410 days after suffering a gruesome leg injury that was thought to potentially be career-ending.
"It's impressive," Daboll said about Gates' comeback. "I mean, so many surgeries and so much rehab. You saw him when I first got here. Just a testament to the young man. It takes a lot of perseverance to go through what he's been through and to be out here. Impressive young man."
In addition to Gates, the Giants also saw three others return to practice Wednesday. Tackle Matt Peart, who is on the PUP list, returned to practice, starting the clock on the 21-day window the Giants have to activate him. Peart tore his ACL in late December. Outside linebacker Elerson Smith and cornerback Rodarius Williams also returned to practice after being placed on injured reserve at the start of the season. Smith suffered a lower leg injury in practice on August 14, while Williams tore his ACL last October.
ROSTER UPDATES; TONEY TRADED
On Thursday, the Giants traded second-year wide receiver Kadarius Toney to the Kansas City Chiefs for a third-round compensatory pick and a sixth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The third-round selection is a compensatory choice the Chiefs received after the Chicago Bears hired Ryan Poles as their general manager. Poles had previously been serving in the role of executive director of player personnel for Kansas City.
"We just thought it was for the best of the team and wish Kadarius well," Daboll said.
Originally the 21st overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Toney appeared in just two games for the Giants this season before dealing with hamstring injuries. He caught two passes for zero yards and added two rush attempts for 23 yards. In 10 games across his rookie campaign, Toney caught 39 passes for 420 yards.
The Giants currently have nine picks in the 2023 NFL Draft following the trade. The team owns all of its own draft pick besides their sixth-round selection, which was traded to the Houston Texans for DB Keion Crossen last August. They now have two third-round picks, the Chiefs' sixth-round pick, and two seventh-round picks. The Giants own the Baltimore Ravens' seventh-round selection, which was acquired in last year's trade for Bredeson.
The Giants also brought back a familiar face to the practice squad this week when they signed tight end Dre Miller. The former wide receiver turned tight end spent training camp and the preseason with the Giants before suffering a wrist injury in late August. Miller was placed on injured reserve and released with an injury settlement soon after.
GENO'S BREAKOUT SEASON
Following the offseason trade of Russell Wilson, many across the NFL landscape expected the Seahawks offense to struggle. That has certainly not been the case. Journeyman quarterback Geno Smith has led Seattle to the No. 5 scoring offense, thanks to an impressive 73.5 completion percentage and an 11-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Smith's 107.7 passer rating ranks third in the NFL, behind only Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes and Buffalo's Josh Allen.
"I think he's playing really good football," Daboll said about the Seahawks QB. "He's playing top level football at the quarterback position. (You) watch him play all these games; he's making great decisions. He's accurate with the football. He's leading the team down to score a bunch of points. He's really done a fantastic job."
"As a football fan and respect for the game, I really respect what he's done with his game. Besides playing against him, it's fun to watch the success that he's had…" defensive coordinator Wink Martindale added on Thursday. "I think he's worked hard. I think he's a really good person, and I just love to see the success that he's having. I just don't want him to have any on Sunday."
SCOUTING SEAHAWKS; WALKER EMERGING
During their two-game winning streak, the Seahawks have also gotten significant contributions from running back Kenneth Walker. Originally the backup behind Rashaad Penny, Walker took over as the starting running back in Week 5 when Penny suffered a broken leg. Late in that game, the rookie busted loose for a 69-yard touchdown run. In his two starts, Walker has totaled 44 rush attempts for 265 yards (6.0 avg.) and three touchdowns while the Seahawks have collected two double-digit victories.
"He's a special, special player," Daboll said. "We looked at him in the draft – really liked him. He was productive, obviously, at Michigan State. (He) has all the qualities you look for in a good (running) back. He's got quickness, he's got good vision, he's got good patience. He can take it the distance. I've been very impressed with him, watching him on tape."
Star wide receiver D.K. Metcalf suffered a knee injury in last week's win, putting his Week 8 status in doubt. Fellow wide receiver Tyler Lockett might be out there Sunday, with the veteran enjoying a strong season. Lockett has 41 receptions for 368 yards this season, both of which lead the Seahawks, and has found the end zone twice. Both Metcalf and Lockett were listed as questionable on the final injury report.
As for the Seattle defense, the unit enters this matchup ranking 28th in points and 29th in yards allowed this year. However, their 12 takeaways puts them tied for the fifth in the league. CB Coby Bryant has four forced fumbles, while LB Darrell Taylor is right behind him with three.
Meanwhile, rookie cornerback Tariq Woolen has gotten his NFL career off to an outstanding start. The fifth-round pick is tied with Bills safety Jordan Poyer for the most interceptions in the NFL with four, one of which he returned for a touchdown. Woolen has also recovered two fumbles while registering a pass breakup in six of seven games.
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