EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Bobby Okereke and Parris Campbell are certain the Las Vegas Raiders can be a much more formidable opponent tomorrow for the Giants than their record, statistics and recent circumstances would suggest.
The Raiders have lost their last two games to fall to 3-5, are 31st in the NFL in yards-per-game and 30th in average points, and this week fired coach Josh McDaniel and replaced him on an interim basis with former Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce.
It's that last fact that prompts Okereke and Campbell to be wary about the Raiders. A year ago – Nov. 7, 2022, to be exact – they were playing for the Indianapolis Colts when coach Frank Reich was dismissed. He was replaced by former center Jeff Saturday, who had never coached above the high school level. Despite that inexperience, six days later, the Colts traveled to – ironically – Las Vegas and defeated the Raiders, 25-20. Although the Colts lost their last seven games, that victory illustrates that an in-season coaching change, like a shot of B-12, can give a team much-needed energy.
"It's a new sheriff in town mentality and the coach gets to come in with a clean slate," Okereke said. "Obviously, it comes with the mindset that what we were doing before, it wasn't working. So, there's a full change to what we are doing now. There's a heightened sense of awareness. Guys are juiced up and, obviously, we just fired a head coach. Really, guys in the building are thinking no one's safe, so it kind of raises everybody's level of play."
Okereke said the Colts played with renewed emotion in Saturday's first game.
"That was because of Jeff and the intensity and energy he brought in practice that week," Okereke said. "It's just tough because through OTAs and off-season, coaches are doing a great job of instilling their principles and their coaching methods all year and it's hard for a coach to instill that in Week 9 of the season."
"I think anytime you have a mid-season change like that when things aren't going necessarily well for you, there's always going to be some renewed energy, renewed juice," Campbell said. "I remember specifically, just us as players, everybody loves Frank, but we knew the way we were performing was part of the reason he got fired. As players, we weren't performing in a way that we knew how to perform, and the result is part of why our coach got fired."
View rare photos of the history between the Giants and Raiders ahead of their Week 9 matchup.
The renewed energy theory is not supported statistically. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, since 2000, teams are 18-26 in their first game with a new coach after an in-season change.
The Giants have fared poorly in such games, whether the coaching change was theirs or their opponents'.
In 2017, Steve Spagnuolo was named interim coach when Ben McAdoo was fired after 12 games. In their first game under Spagnuolo, the Giants were tied with Dallas after three quarters, but surrendered 20 straight points in the fourth and lost, 30-10.
More germane to their current situation is the Giants have lost twice when facing a team coached by an interim coach making his debut.
On Nov. 14, 2010, Jason Garrett made his head coaching debut for Dallas after replacing Wade Phillips and led the Cowboys to a 33-20 triumph in MetLife Stadium.
Before the 2015 season finale, the Philadelphia Eagles fired Chip Kelly and replaced him with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. The following Sunday in MetLife, the Eagles defeated the Giants, 35-30, in Tom Coughlin's final game as the Giants coach.
Garrett (offensive coordinator in 2020-21) and Shurmur (head coach in 2018-19) both later worked for the Giants.
The Raiders have several excellent players on their team, notably Josh Jacobs, the 2022 NFL rushing champion; wide receiver Davante Adams, a first-team All-Pro each of the last three seasons; and defensive end Maxx Crosby, a two-time Pro Bowler labeled by Giants coach Brian Daboll as a "game-wrecker."
"They got great players all over the field," Campbell said. "At the end of the day, as a player and as a team, no matter who's the coach, you've got to realize, whether you look at their record or not, this is a good football team. I'm sure people look at our record and say, 'Oh yeah, they're just the Giants.' We're a good football team. We haven't played like one at times, but we're a good football team. I don't think anybody's going into this game with the mindset, 'They're in this turmoil and they've gone through this.' At the end of the day, you gotta prepare. It's a players' league and the players are going to play; it doesn't matter who the coach is. I think everybody respects that and everybody's professional enough to understand that."
The 2-6 Giants have their own set of pros and cons entering the game. The most significant is the return of quarterback Daniel Jones, who missed the previous three games with a neck injury. Because Tyrod Taylor hurt his rib cage last week vs. the Jets, rookie Tommy DeVito will again be the backup quarterback.
The Giants will have Saquon Barkley and Jones on the field together for the first time since their Week 2 victory in Arizona, where Barkley suffered a sprained ankle that kept him out for three games.
On the debit side, the Giants will be without tight end Darren Waller, who is unable to face the team that traded him in March because of a hamstring injury. Waller leads the Giants with 36 receptions (13 more than runner-up Wan'Dale Robinson) and 384 yards (127 more than No. 2 Darius Slayton).
The Giants will also play with a new kicker after Graham Gano was placed on injured reserve Friday. Gano will undergo knee surgery next week. His replacement will be veteran Randy Bullock or second-year pro Cade York – or maybe both.
The Giants have coaching stability in Brian Daboll and his staff. The fact that the Raiders don't concerns some who have been in their situation.
"It doesn't matter who is the head coach at the end of the day," Campbell said. "Players got to go out there and make plays. We got another test this weekend and hopefully we go out there and play the right way and we can get the dub (win), because winning cures everything. You stack a couple of wins; you start to feel a little bit better about yourself and get things going in the right direction."
Which is exactly what the Giants need to do.
*In their last three games, the Giants allowed a total of 34 points and held Buffalo, Washington and the Jets to less than 300 offensive yards. That is the first time they achieved each of those statistical highlights since Oct 21-Nov 10, 2013, when they defeated Minnesota (23-7), Philadelphia (15-7) and Oakland (24-20) while limiting them to 206, 201 and 213 yards, respectively.
*The Giants are making their first ever trip to Las Vegas and Allegiant Stadium. The Raiders lead the all-time series, 8-6. The teams last met on Nov. 7, 2021, when the Giants rushed for 149 yards and Xavier McKinney intercepted two passes, including one he returned 41 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter to give the Giants a lead they never relinquished in a 23-16 victory. When the Giants last visited the Raiders on Dec. 3, 2017, the game was played in Oakland. The 24-17 loss is perhaps best remembered because Eli Manning didn't play, ending his streak of 210 consecutive regular season starts. This has been a series of streaks – Oakland won the first three games, the Giants the next two, the Raiders won four in a row, and the Giants have won four of their last five meetings.
*One notable series lowlight. The teams first met 50 years ago today. On Nov. 4, 1973, the Giants lost in Oakland, 42-0, the second-worst shutout loss in franchise history.
*This is the first of three consecutive road games that includes stops in Dallas and Washington. It is the Giants' first three-game road trip since Sept. 20-Oct. 4, 2009, when they defeated Dallas, Tampa Bay and Kansas City.
Since 2010, there have been 54 instances of NFL teams playing three road games in three weeks, including Baltimore earlier this season. Tennessee began a three-game trip Thursday night in Pittsburgh.
The records of those 54 road trips:
- 3-0: 6
- 2-1: 19
- 1-2: 18
- 0-3: 11
- Game 1: 24-30
- Game 2: 26-28
- Game 3: 24-30
View photos of every move made by the Giants during the 2023 cycle.