The New York Giants (2-10) will look to end an eight-game losing streak, the franchise's longest stretch without a win since 2004, when they hit the road to take on the Philadelphia Eagles (5-7) at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday night. The Week 14 matchup represents the first of two December meetings between the NFC East rivals. The Eagles come to MetLife Stadium to face the Giants in the regular season finale in Week 17.
The Eagles are coming off a tough road loss to Miami, as they fell to the Dolphins, 37-31, handing Miami their third win of the season. Philadelphia has now lost three consecutive games, and prior to Sunday, the Eagles offense had failed to top 10 points in its previous two losses. Despite the recent losing streak, Philadelphia still sits just one game behind the Dallas Cowboys for the lead in the NFC East.
Here are five storylines to follow ahead of Week 14 and the rest of the Giants' season:
Daniel Jones has moderate high ankle sprain; Eli Manning very likely to start on Monday
Daniel Jones is in a walking boot and is not practicing Wednesday. Coach Shurmur says he has a moderate high ankle sprain. Eli Manning very likely to start on Monday in Philadelphia. Stay with Giants.com and Giants App for more updates.
Photos from the career of two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback Eli Manning
Despite record, Giants continue to see progress
No one on the Giants denies the fact that they are incredibly frustrated with the 2019 season. At 2-10 and in last place in the NFC East, this is not where anyone on the team thought they would be at this point. However, despite the poor record, the Giants' coaches and players continue to believe that progress is being made, even though it has yet to show up in the win column.
"We practice like we are 10-2. It's our work ethic, if you were able to come in and watch us in the weight room and the attention to details in meetings, it's all there," Saquon Barkley said after Sunday's loss against the Packers. "Obviously, I have the better point of view to able to see that and say that. It's all there, but for some strange reason, it's just not translating to the game right now. That's what sucks, because when you work hard for something and you are putting in the time and the effort and things aren't going your way, it sucks. It's easy to cry about it, cry and go hide in the corner, but you have to figure it out. That's what we have to do, we have to figure it out."
While it would be easy to point to the team's record to discredit these claims, improvements have been made. As Antoine Bethea said earlier this week, "experience is your best teacher." Thirty-six players on the 53-man roster have been in the NFL for four years or less, and with such a youthful roster, there have been growing pains. While the losing streak has been tough, the experience many of the young players have gained will pay dividends moving forward.
"They fight and they are resilient," coach Pat Shurmur said after the Green Bay game. "That game was in the balance. We had an opportunity within one score and it got away from us. That's where I see it. They fight and some of these young players are very talented and they are learning on the job here."
Giants hopeful Evan Engram returns for Monday Night Football
The Giants have been without at least one of their top offensive playmakers in every game this season. For the last month, that has included tight end Evan Engram, who last suited up against the Cowboys on November 4 when he had six receptions for 48 yards. Despite his month-long absence, the talented tight end leads the team with 44 receptions. Shurmur said on Monday there is a chance the starting tight end returns to the field this week.
"We're hopeful. He's making progress," Shurmur said. "He's feeling a little bit better each week, so we've got actually one more day this week to get him out there, so hopefully he'll be available. Can't say for certain, though."
With Engram sidelined, rookie Kaden Smith has stepped into the starting lineup and recorded his first touchdown against the Bears in Week 12 and led the team with six receptions for 70 yards against the Packers on Sunday.
"I think those guys have stepped up and really played well," Jones said of Smith and Scott Simonson, who has filled in for Rhett Ellison (concussion). "I thought Kaden had a great day (Sunday). He's someone we all have a lot of confidence in, and I think he showed that."
Run defense will be key
The Giants have made stopping the run a top priority on defense, evidenced by the mid-season trade with the Jets for defensive lineman Leonard Williams. In the three games since acquiring Williams, the Giants have limited opponents to 81 rush attempts for 220 yards, or 2.7 yards per carry, against the likes of Le'Veon Bell, Aaron Jones and David Montgomery.
"We've made that an emphasis on the defense," defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence said. "We have to stop the run, then stop the pass kind of deal. Our mindset is stop the run so we can be able to pass rush. It's just one of the emphasis we have made in the room."
Conversely, the pass defense continues to have trouble stopping opposing quarterbacks. Some attribute that to a young secondary. However, Lawrence acknowledged the fact that stopping the pass falls on the shoulders of everyone on defense, including the guys up front.
"That goes with the whole defense," the rookie first-rounder saids. "Up front has to rush well and keep the quarterback contained and put pressure on him, and the back end has to cover well. It's not just one dimensional, it's all of us working well together and trying to get the job done."
In Jabrill Peppers' absence, Julian Love performs well
Since Jabrill Peppers went down with a back injury in Chicago, Julian Love has stepped into the lineup and played very well. One week after picking up his first career interception against the Bears, the rookie fourth-round pick put up another strong performance against Green Bay. Love finished third on the team with 7 tackles (4 solo) and added 0.5 tackles for loss and his first career forced fumble. Love's play earned him an overall grade of 83.7 from Pro Football Focus (PFF), making him the highest-graded Giant in the game, according to PFF. It was Love's second consecutive game with a PFF grade of 80.0 or higher. The 21-year-old safety showed his versatility against the Packers, as he lined up all over the field.
"Playmaker; he's a ball player," veteran Antoine Bethea said of Love. "He's going to be a good one. He tackles well, covers well and goes and gets the ball, so he's definitely going to be a good one."
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