EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants are well-aware of the length of their losing streak and their unsatisfactory record, but they are also steadfast in their belief that they are on the right path to get where they want to be.
Coach Pat Shurmur has said several times he sees progress. The team practices hard and well and the players report for work each day with an upbeat and aggressive attitude. Only 17 players on the 53-man roster have been in the in NFL for more than four years and the young players are gaining valuable experience. That group includes quarterback Daniel Jones, running back Saquon Barkley, guard Will Hernandez, defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and a quartet of defensive backs who debuted this season – DeAndre Baker, Julian Love, Corey Ballentine and Sam Beal.
What they don't yet have is success on gameday. The Giants yesterday lost their eighth consecutive game, 31-13 to the Green Bay Packers in MetLife Stadium, and enter the final quarter of the season with a 2-10 record. But that hasn't shaken their confidence or their belief in how they prepare during the week, nor will it affect them when they face the Eagles in Philadelphia on Monday Night Football.
"We practice like we are 10-2," Barkley said to reporters crowded around his locker after the game yesterday. "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. 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. We have four games left to try to make it into a season that we're proud of. Take it one game at a time and that starts with Philly and try to find a way to get a win and good things will come."
Jones and Shurmur were asked on separate conference calls today why all their hard work during the week hasn't resulted in more success in games.
"I'm not sure," Jones said. "You have to do several things. Adjusting to different things in the game. I think in practice, you're able to anticipate a lot of the looks. I think we need to be better in some of our awareness, realizing things on the fly and figuring stuff out during the game."
"Obviously, we're not getting the final result we're looking for," Shurmur said. "But throughout the game you see a lot of really good plays on both sides of the ball. I think it's fair to say that we did a really good job against their run game on defense. I think their longest run was a (15-yard) scramble by (Aaron) Rodgers. They had one other medium-sized (nine-yard) run. Then we gave up a couple of long passes for touchdowns that you obviously can't do. But then there were a lot of plays that we defended well. Same thing on offense, we ran the ball much better, we did throw the ball with some efficiency, threw a touchdown pass, but then you have three interceptions. So, it's one of those, it probably plays into what Saquon is saying - there are times when things look really good and then we have those mistakes that hurt us. Especially against a good football team."
Shurmur stressed the issue is not lack of emotional commitment.
"I think the guys played hard throughout the game," he said. "They're in it to win it. I don't think that's a problem as far as gauging it. I think they're out there playing every snap to have success and have a positive impact on the game. I don't worry about that."
All the young players getting significant playing time should soon be the nucleus of a successful team.
*Jones injured his ankle in the second quarter but stayed in the game. The players have their customary Tuesday off tomorrow and will return to the practice field on Wednesday.
"I think I'll be able to practice," Jones said. "It's sore, but that's kind of typical the day after a game. I think I'll be good to go."
"He's got some game soreness, but he's fine," said Shurmur, who later added his "expectation" is Jones will practice.
*Jones completed 20 of 37 passes for 240 yards and one touchdown (extending his streak to 10 consecutive games) but tied his season-high by throwing three interceptions, including two in the fourth quarter.
"I think he made some really good throws," Shurmur said. "He competed throughout the game, even after he got his ankle twisted. Obviously, the interceptions are the focus, but he made an excellent throw on the touchdown pass (an 18-yarder to Sterling Shepard on the Giants' second possession) and he made good throws throughout the game. Certainly, we can't make those… the first interception he tried to fit it in and he'd want that one back. The second interception, he tried to throw the inside route on four verticals and he just overthrew Shep. Shep ran a good route. I think certainly a completion there would've kept the drive alive. Then the last one he threw a go ball to (Darius) Slayton. I think he put a good throw on it, Slayton ducked inside the corner late in the down. We've just got to disrupt that. So, those are the ones. Certainly, we can't throw interceptions. Sometimes they happen, but we've got to get it cleaned up."
*After the game, Jones had a brief chat with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who threw four touchdown passes in the game and told him, "Hang in there…learn from these days and the good ones, too."
"I appreciated his encouragement yesterday," Jones said. "It's cool to meet some of these guys and speak to them briefly. He was encouraging. He told me to stick with it and keep working at it, and I certainly appreciate him saying that."
*Ballentine left the game in the second half and is in the NFL concussion protocol.