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5 storylines to follow in Giants vs. Dolphins


The Giants travel to Miami in Week 5.

In their last time out, the Giants fell to the Seattle Seahawks, 24-3, on Monday Night Football to drop to 1-3 on the year. The Dolphins (3-1), meanwhile, come off their first taste of defeat, a 48-20 road loss to the Buffalo Bills. The Giants travel to Buffalo in Week 6.

Here are five storylines to follow in the Week 5 matchup.

1. Getting the offense on track

The Giants' struggles continued on Monday. Their three points marked the third time in four weeks that they were held to 12 points or fewer. The Giants allowed 11 sacks and 36 pressures, both of which led the league. The Giants rank 32nd in the league in points scored, while only the Bengals have gained fewer total yards on offense.

"Look, we just need to do a better job overall, collectively," coach Brian Daboll said. "Everyone involved in the offense. Whether it's sacks, pass game, run game. We've got a lot of work to do."

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2. State of the O-line

Left tackle Andrew Thomas missed his third consecutive game on Monday due to the hamstring injury he suffered in Week 1. Thomas went through individual drills in Thursday's practice but was unable to participate the next two days. Daboll did not sound optimistic about the All-Pro's chances of suiting up on Sunday.

"I'd probably say leaning towards no but not ready to make that determination," the head coach said about the left tackle playing in Miami.

Thomas is not the only offensive lineman dealing with an injury. Center John Michael Schmitz suffered a shoulder injury on the first drive of the game against the Seahawks and was unable to return. With the rookie sidelined, Ben Bredeson moved over to center while Shane Lemieux took over at left guard. Lemieux then suffered an abductor injury and missed the remainder of the game, with Mark Glowinski taking over for him. Neither Schmitz nor Lemieux participated in practice Wednesday.

"He's a smart guy, knows all our calls, had a bunch of reps in the summer so that was – it's good to have a guy that plays guard that can play center as well," Daboll said about Bredeson filling in at center.

Right tackle Evan Neal (knee/hand) and right guard Marcus McKethan (knee) were also limited in Wednesday's practice, but Daboll told the media that he thinks "they'll be ready to play."

The Giants brought back a familiar face on Tuesday when they signed veteran offensive lineman Justin Pugh to the practice squad. Pugh was with the Arizona Cardinals for the previous five seasons after spending his first five years with the Giants. The 33-year-old tore his ACL in Week 6 last year, and will need some time to ramp up his workload before he takes the field for the Giants.

"What we'll do with him today, he'll kind of work off to the side and get acclimated to some of the stuff, get ready to practice," Daboll said. "That's where we're at with Justin."

3. Saquon's potential return

On Wednesday, running back Saquon Barkley participated in team drills for the first time since he injured his ankle late in the Week 2 win over the Cardinals. While he practiced in a limited capacity throughout last week, he was listed as doubtful on the final injury report and then ruled out on gameday.

Barkley's big-play ability speaks for itself, but his presence on the field does more for the offense than what meets the eye. In the second half of the Giants' comeback in Arizona, Jones had most of his production while running play-action passes. Jones completed 13 of 19 passes for 229 yards, 12.1 yards per attempt, and a 109.3 passer rating in play-action, all of which occurred when Barkley was on the field.

4. Defensive splash plays

It's difficult to take any positives out of Monday's loss, but one area that did offer some encouragement was on defense. The Giants held the Seahawks to only three third-down conversions on 12 attempts, and also stopped them on both of their tries on fourth down.

"They hung in there good," the head coach said about his defense. "I thought they played with great effort. Again, they had the one 51-yarder at the end of the half there that we should have avoided there, but I thought they competed well, they gave us a chance, made some progress in a number of areas. Had a good third down day, which was a point of emphasis, so we've just got to keep bringing them along."

Despite the improvement, the defense continued its shortage in one area in particular – turnovers. Heading into Week 5, the Giants are the only team in the league that has yet to force one. The Dolphins have given the ball away five times this season, tied for the 13th-fewest. Meanwhile, outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux picked up two sacks in Week 4, but the Giants still rank 31st in the NFL with just four sacks on the season.

Miami has scored a touchdown on 14 of their 18 trips inside the red zone (77.8 percent) this year. That is the second-highest conversion percentage in the NFL. The Giants' defense has allowed a score on nine of 16 trips inside the red zone (56.3 percent), which ranks 17th.

5. Scouting the Dolphins

Miami made history with its hot start to the season. Coach Mike McDaniel's offense ranks No. 1 in the NFL in both points and yards. Not only that, but the Dolphins' 2,044 total yards of offense is the most through four games in NFL history. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa leads the league with 1,306 passing yards. Tagovailoa has thrown nine touchdown passes to just three interceptions, and his 114.4 passer rating is second in the league, trailing San Francisco's Brock Purdy (115.1). His 71.3 completion percentage also ranks in the top five among starting quarterbacks. Daboll is plenty familiar with the Dolphins' quarterback, as the two won a national championship together at Alabama in 2017, with Daboll serving as Tagovailoa's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

"I have a lot of respect for Tua and how he plays that position, some of the stuff he went through early on in his career," Daboll said Wednesday. "He's got great anticipation, he's accurate, he's a leader, and I am not surprised at all with the success he has had. He's bounced back from some tough things injury-wise, but he's a heck of a quarterback."

Tagovailoa's top target is wide receiver Tyreek Hill. The five-time All-Pro receiver has been electric this season, racking up 470 yards (No. 3 in the NFL) through the first four games to go with 28 receptions and four touchdowns. Hill has gone over 150 yards receiving in two of four games. Hill's fellow starting wideout, Jaylen Waddle, returned in Week 4 after missing a game due to a concussion. Waddle has 210 yards on 12 receptions in three games.

Miami's run game has enjoyed as much success as its pass game, as the Dolphins also rank first in the league with 707 rushing yards, 10 rushing touchdowns and an incredible 6.3 yards per carry. Raheem Mostert has registered the most carries this season with 48, which he has taken for 249 yards and six touchdowns. But rookie De'Von Achane has actually topped the veteran with 309 yards on just 27 rush attempts, good for an eye-opening 11.4 yards per carry. The two running backs have also combined for three receiving touchdowns, giving the pair 13 total scores through four weeks.

Miami's defense has not had as much success as its offense, as it ranks 28th in points and 26th in yards allowed on the year. The Dolphins have recorded 10 sacks, with linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel leading the way with three. The team's remaining seven sacks are spread across eight different players.

Cornerback Xavien Howard and defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah have registered Miami's two interceptions, while safety Jevon Holland (two) and defensive end Bradley Chubb (one) have accounted for the defense's three forced fumbles. Howard is also tied with safety DeShon Elliott with a team-high three passes defensed.

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