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What we learned: Insights from assistant coaches ahead of Week 17 vs. Cowboys


Quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski

* Daniel Jones has improved in numerous areas since Schuplinski got to the Giants, including ball security, coverage reads, coverage recognition, getting the ball out on time, and a better general understanding of the offense. Jones keeps progressing as the season goes on.

* The whole coaching staff and organization has confidence in Jones

* Jones looked and felt a lot better against the Ravens than he did against the Cardinals. He was able to move, get out of the pocket on several occasions, scramble.

* Jones' biggest jump this season has been his anticipation and understanding coverages/reads. In the past, it was easy to see when he might have held onto the ball for too long or tried to force something that wasn't there.

Running backs coach Burton Burns

* The Cowboys have changed since the last time the two teams met – not scheme-wise, but the players have been playing better. The RB room has to re-evaluate what Dallas did in the first game to what they've been doing in recent weeks.

* Every game is its own entity. While you would love to start off a game with a balanced offense, sometimes games dictate the offense's direction. The running backs have to be prepared for anything - they have to be good in pass protection and the passing game in addition to their opportunities to run the ball.

Wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert

* Darius Slayton has to take advantage of the opportunities he gets in the passing game. He needs to fight for the ball, make it happen and finish the play.

* He sees Slayton continuing to figure things out as a second-year player. Tolbert sees less mental mistakes from the young receiver as he continues to grow in this league, especially as defenses start to focus on him in their game plan.

* Dante Pettis played well in his Giants debut last week as he made a tough catch in traffic and ran a good route on a scramble drill, getting his feet in to make a nice sideline catch. Pettis has been ready to go from a mental standpoint, they just had to find a good fit for him in the game plan.

* Sterling Shepard has been the team's most efficient receiver. He has the highest catch percentage of any player on the team and has been the most consistent guy in the room.

* Shepard is a complete receiver. He's able to block in the run game, catch in the passing game and make yards after the catch. He has a unique ability to get in and out of his breaks very quickly, making it difficult for defenders to stay on him.

Offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo

* The OL rotation helps prepare guys in case of an injury at some point during the season. It helps to have as many linemen trained to do as many things as possible for different scenarios.

* The O-line's performance against Baltimore "wasn't good enough," on a group or individual level. When things get tight, the linemen need to put more of an emphasis on fundamentals, not less.

* Matt Peart works very hard during the week. He's been a "pleasant surprise." He does some really good things. He's a good athlete, very large, smart, and has tremendous upside. He must keep his confidence in himself.

* The line needs to sustain run blocks longer, needs to be better on double teams, and needs to continue to develop an impenetrable pocket. While they see this in practice, it hasn't always carried over to game days. The top priority to improve is keeping the quarterback safe.

* Andrew Thomas is a tremendously aware player. He sees things that most rookies don't see. He is smart and has talent, but it always takes time for a rookie, any rookie, to elevate his game to the level of his peers. Thomas will get there.

Defensive line coach Sean Spencer

* B.J. Hill is doing a great job in his role coming off the bench. He's worked hard since the start of training camp to improve in the run game, working on his pad level and his striking.

* Leonard Williams has played at an All-Pro caliber. He's changing the narrative about himself, proving he can finish and reach his potential.

* Williams, Dexter Lawrence and Dalvin Tomlinson are fun to coach. They have a chance to be a special group of defensive linemen. They do a great job against the run and pass, and Spencer loves coaching them.

* Against Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys this weekend, the D-line has to do a great job with gap accountability and finishing tackles.

Inside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer

* With outside linebackers coach Bret Bielema leaving for the head coaching job at the University of Illinois, Sherrer's room has grown as all linebackers are now with him instead of just the inside linebackers. During individual periods at practice, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham typically takes the outside linebackers while Sherrer remains with the inside backers.

* Veteran Kyler Fackrell's potential return would be a big boost to the room from a maturity standpoint. His participation would allow some of the team's younger linebackers who have stepped into larger roles on defense due to injuries (such as Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin) to re-focus on being core special team players who also have specific defensive packages. Fackrell also brings some pass rush ability.

Defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson

* It's easy to see Xavier McKinney's instincts, his passion, and his ability on the field. "He's going to be a very good player in this league." Excited to continue to find McKinney's game as time moves on,

* The DBs knew they would have to tackle well against the Ravens because of Baltimore's style of offense; he was disappointed they didn't execute in this area. They have to go back to the drawing board this week and make sure they correct the mistakes before this weekend's game.

* The DB room is a "really, really good group of guys." They're a unique group because they're all selfless team guys looking to help each other and coach each other and pick each other up. There are no egos in the room, they just want to do things right. Coach Judge creates that sort of environment, and Coach Graham reinforces it.

* The group of safeties (McKinney, Logan Ryan, Jabrill Peppers) each have different gifts and are all versatile. At times, you can use them interchangeably, you can move one down to play in the box.

* Dallas' three wide receivers (Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup) are a problem… they're all really good players who need to be accounted for. Add in Ezekiel Elliott and Andy Dalton and this Cowboys' offense presents a big challenge for the secondary and the defense as a whole. The Cowboys are starting to gain confidence, so the Giants know "we're going to get their best shot."



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