EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Every player on the Giants' roster practiced Thursday, which enabled the team to work on issues that must be improved after winning just one of their first three games. The Giants will return to action after a 10-day break when they host the Seattle Seahawks in MetLife Stadium on Monday night.
A good place to start is – their starts. The Giants have been outscored in the first halves of their games, 63-6, and have yet to score a touchdown in the first two quarters. Their deficit in the second quarter alone is 37-3.
"It's something you talk about, whether it's during the season or the offseason, it is certainly a point of emphasis," coach Brian Daboll said. "We've got to do a good job of putting them in good positions, and we've got to go out there and execute. Whether that's third downs early on, or negative plays on both sides, we have to do a good job of really controlling the game on early downs, so we get some advantage on whether we skip third downs or have shorter third downs."
"I think we've moved the ball well the first couple of drives in two of the games (vs. Dallas and at San Francisco)," quarterback Daniel Jones said. "I think we've got to finish with points, finish in the end zone, and execute all the way down the field, and score a touchdown. It's just about sustaining that execution."
View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 4 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.
The Giants were candid in saying one of their offseason goals was to improve their run defense. In 2022, they ranked 27th in the NFL in yards allowed per game (144.2) and 31st in yards per carry (5.2). They signed free agent linemen Rakeem Nunez-Roches and A'Shawn Robinson and middle linebacker Bobby Okereke, who were expected to be key components in an improved run defense.
But three games into the season, the Giants have allowed an average of 138.0 yards a game. They have cut a full yard off their opponents' per-carry average (it's now 4.2), but their current marks ranks are 29th and 16th, respectively.
Daboll said the two concerns are linked.
"We've got to obviously put a point of emphasis on that, too," he said of stopping the run. "But that's a collective – that's a team thing, too. You've got to be able to start fast and try to control the game as well so that you don't get so far behind and one team can run it on you, or you go away from the run game. That's a collective thing that we all can do better."
The Giants and Las Vegas Raiders are the only teams without a takeaway through the first three weeks. The Giants' minus-5 turnover differential ties them with Cleveland, ahead of only the Raiders and Minnesota Vikings. Last season, the Giants finished plus-3 and had 19 takeaways in 17 games.
"Those are points of emphasis every week of creating some negative plays or getting turnovers," Daboll said. "We've got to continue to work them during the week and ultimately we've got to get them done on Sunday (and) Monday."
Not everyone is as concerned.
"Honestly, I don't think turnovers are too concerning," defensive lineman Leonard Williams said. "I think just playing good defense, stopping the run, limiting passing yards and passer rating and stuff like that is more important to me. Turnovers (are) not the big case in my opinion."
The Giants have also missed an inordinate number of tackles, which is a trend they are determined to end.
"We put an emphasis on it today at practice," Okereke said. "I had a coach always tell me that tackling is all about technique and desire. … We all have a great desire to tackle out there, now it's all about cleaning up the technique. Whether it's chopping down the stiff arm, running our feet, whatever. We're all professionals, we'll get that done."
"Definitely an area we've got to get better at," Daboll said. "We'll continue to work at it every week, but it's something that we've got to do a better job of."
The Giants' defensive players are confident their unit will improve.
"I think we can do a much better job tackling," Williams said. "I think we can do a better job in a lot of areas on defense, but overall, I think that we are on that right track. The way we played against San Fran (last week) and the way we've been continually growing is a good thing for the defense right now. I think we are on the right track."
"Just execution and doing our job, that's pretty much what it boils down to and comes down to," cornerback Adoree' Jackson said. "Just tighten it up in the week of work and just going after, like I said, the smaller pictures of doing your job, executing, alignment, assignment, and technique and just go from there."
The defense will face a significant challenge against a Seahawks team that scored 37 points in each of its last two games, victories at Detroit and against Carolina. Seattle has a veteran quarterback in former Giant Geno Smith, a productive running back combination in Kenneth Walker III (who Tuesday was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week) and rookie Zach Charbonnet, and excellent receivers in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
Pete Carroll is in his 14th season as the Seahawks' head coach. He won a Super Bowl 10 seasons ago and his next victory will be the 175th of his career – including stints with the Jets and Patriots – which will place 15th on the NFL's career list.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for coach Carroll," Daboll said. "He's been a head coach at three different spots in this league. I think he only has four losing seasons in almost 20 years. Six and 10, I believe in '94 with the Jets, didn't have a losing season at the Patriots and just a few with the Seahawks. Then obviously what he did at USC and how his players play. I think he's been at Seattle for quite some time, (14) years I believe. Has a great culture, players play hard, they understand the system, a lot of continuity there. Some of the coordinators, he's had different ones like (Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan) Quinn and those guys. But tremendous leader, does a great job in his organization. His defenses play fast, they're disruptive. He's won a lot of football games, done this a long time, so tremendous amount of respect for him and how he runs his football team."
*Left guard Ben Bredeson, who missed the game against the 49ers with a concussion, practiced fully today. Five players were limited: running back Saquon Barkley (ankle), tight end Daniel Bellinger (neck), tackle Andrew Thomas (hamstring), defensive lineman D.J. Davidson (elbow) and linebacker Azeez Ojulari (hamstring).