Five storylines heading into Sunday’s home game against the Chicago Bears:
1. Learning how to win. The Giants created a little buzz with back-to-back wins, but now there is little buzz after falling in Philadelphia. After a 1-7 start, the Giants won their first two games coming out of the bye week to remain alive in the muddled NFC East. A loss to the Eagles, though, dropped them to 0-4 in the division and 3-8 overall. When general manager Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur took over, they set out to change the culture of a team that is now 6-22 since their last playoff appearance.
“It’s huge, because I think we need to learn how to win again here,” Shurmur said the day after the Eagles loss. “The last two weeks, we won one by coming back. A week ago, we won one by playing from the front. This week we got ahead on a team, and didn’t hold the lead, so there’s things to be learned in all three of those as you learn to win a game. We’re doing it with a lot of very young players, and a lot of really backup-type players from our initial roster, so it’s a great opportunity for them to help us win.”
He was asked if he has to guard against players checking out because of the record.
“Guard against? No. Just watch behavior,” he said. “Do your job, be a good teammate, bust your ass, do what you have to do to help win a game. You don’t guard against it, you coach it back.”
View the projected starters for this Sunday's game against the Bears.
2. Eli to start vs. Chicago. The quarterback questions resumed this week, and Shurmur confirmed that Eli Manning will start on Sunday against the 8-3 Chicago Bears. “You go into every week with giving your team the best opportunity to win the football game each week,” Shurmur said. “That’s how you do this thing. This isn’t player tryouts, this is do everything in your power to win the next game.”
Shurmur and Manning faced similar questions at the bye week as people wanted to know if and when fourth-round draft choice Kyle Lauletta, who has not dressed in his rookie season, will see the field.
“Why are you jumping over [Alex] Tanney? There’s my point,” Shurmur said of Manning’s backup for every game day. “What you try to do is win each game and then as we go forward here, you make your decision based on winning the game, and you base your decision on putting a team on the field that gives you the best chance to win the game. I get that, but as a coach, I stay in the moment. We certainly have conversations about what runs parallel, the short-term and the long-term. There’s conversations about that that happen all the time in any organization. You’re a big corporation, your short-term gains and, ‘ok, where the hell are we going?’ I’m not foolish enough to think that doesn’t happen.”
3. Injury notes and roster moves. After getting healthy over the bye week, the Giants have been hit with a few injuries. Tight end Evan Engram injured his hamstring in pregame warmups in Philadelphia and did not play. Linebacker B.J. Goodson suffered a neck injury, and defensive lineman Kerry Wynn missed the game with a concussion. He remains in the protocol but practiced on a limited, non-contact basis on Wednesday. Return specialist Quadree Henderson was placed on injured reserve after fracturing his shoulder in Philadelphia. Rookie tight end Garrett Dickerson, who played in two games earlier this season, was re-signed to replace Henderson on the roster.
Meanwhile, the Giants started the clock on wide receiver Cody Latimer to return from injured reserve. It was already ticking on running back Jonathan Stewart. Under the league rules, teams have a three-week window to activate a player after he is designated to return.
“The way the system works certainly they’ve been on [injured reserve], and then I kind of like the way this works, you can practice them for three weeks, because along the way you may need a player,” Shurmur said. “That’s the benefit of it. We lost Quadree this week with a shoulder, and so you have a player that’s practicing that may need to contribute. That’s really the benefit of it. You never know when you’re going to lose a running back, you never know when you’re going to lose a wide receiver, so to have a couple guys in the system getting them back into it, I think whoever made the rule, I think it’s a good rule.”
4. Mack Attack. Earlier in the year, Patriots coach Bill Belichick, in response to a question, said he wouldn’t put Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack in the same class as Lawrence Taylor, whom he coached as defensive coordinator of the Giants. But just because he’s not L.T. doesn’t mean he is not a feared defender. Traded from the Raiders shortly before the start of the season, Mack has taken a top-10 defense and made it top-five. The Bears are fourth in yards allowed, second against the run, and second in scoring. Mack is on his way to a fourth consecutive season with double-digit sacks and has forced five fumbles, recovered two, and returned an interception 27 yards for a touchdown.
“I never compare anyone,” said left tackle Nate Solder, a former Patriot. “You go out there and you prepare as best you can for that particular opponent. They all have strengths and weaknesses. He’s got strengths up through the roof. He’s incredible and so you do the best you can all week, understanding what they’re all about, how they like to do it and how their defensive coordinator likes to use them and then when it comes to game day, you got to play your best.”
5. Trubisky or Daniel? The Bears won their fifth consecutive game on Thanksgiving Day to pad their lead in the NFC North, and they did so with backup quarterback Chase Daniel, who went 27 of 37 for 230 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. The 10-year veteran started in place of Mitchell Trubisky after the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft injured his shoulder the week before against the Vikings. Under rookie head coach Matt Nagy, who like Shurmur is part of Andy Reid’s coaching tree, Trubisky is completing 65.4 percent of his passes and averaging 247 yards per game with 20 touchdowns to nine interceptions this season. He also has 51 rushing attempts for 363 yards and three touchdowns. Trubisky did not practice on Wednesday and remains day-to-day, according to Nagy.
“I think the offense that they run [with Daniel] is very similar,” Shurmur said. “I’ve coached in the West Coast system where Matt came from with Andy Reid, but he’s also got his offensive coordinator is a guy from the Oregon family that I worked in that system with Chip [Kelly], so I see elements of both. They’ve got into more of a zone read type run game, their run game will be very similar to what we faced against Philadelphia, very similar in a lot of ways because Doug [Pederson], Matt and Andy were all together recently. I recognize the plays they’re running, certainly we’re going to have to defend them, and they’ve done a really good job.
“They’ve got some talented guys they get the ball to. I think the real challenge when you play against a guy like Trubisky is if it’s not there, I think he’s got the most rushing yards of any quarterback, he’ll pull it down and run with it. He’s got a good set of legs that will either keep a drive alive or they can use him in the zone read game. Whether they choose to do it because he’s coming back from the shoulder thing, I don’t know, but we’ll need to prepare for it.”
The Giants first played the Bears in 1925, making this their oldest active series.