1. The Giants will continue to roll out all four running backs.
Running back Shane Vereen caught eleven passes in Super Bowl XLIX, and it's that type of pass-catching ability the Giants had in mind when they signed the five-year vet in free agency.
With the emergence of Orleans Darkwa the past month, the Giants are able to roll out four running backs during the course of the game (Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams being the other two). Running backs coach Craig Johnson expects all four of his guys to continue seeing reps after the bye.
"I think all of them have deserved to play," Johnson said of his running back corp. "Rashad has done a lot of good things, Andre probably had the best game of all the backs a week ago, Orleans has been consistent, so what I'm trying to do is give them all some opportunities and then the guys that really seem to be in a rhythm within each game, you try and give them a little bit more reps."
*2. Ryan knew Dwayne Harris was more than just a kick return specialist. *
Other than Vereen, the biggest offseason signing for the Giants was Dwayne Harris, who primarily saw work as a returner his first three years in the league. With the injury to Victor Cruz, Harris has emerged as one of Eli Manning's most reliable targets, hauling in four touchdown passes – second most on the team.
"The more he plays, the more comfortable he gets in the role," wide receivers coach Sean Ryan said.
"Especially inside in the slot, it takes a little bit just kind of seeing things because they happen a little bit quicker for you inside there. The more you play, the more comfortable you get --- I think that is very evident with him."
3. Rookie Ereck Flowers showing flashes.
When the Giants drafted Ereck Flowers with the ninth pick in this year's NFL Draft, they immediately envisioned him anchoring the right tackle position. Due to the offseason injury to Will Beatty, Flowers got moved to the left side, where the rookie has worked well in tandem with Justin Pugh to his inside.
"I really like his attitude, his play strength, he wants to be a tackle in the NFL," offensive line coach Pat Flaherty said. "His technique was something that we knew needed to get better. I think you see flashes of his technique. As a coach, I don't see enough of it yet, but that's coaching more than playing and he's got to learn to trust the NFL technique."
*4. Green zone efficiency a concern. *
The Giants are averaging 27.3 points per game this season, which ranks fourth in the NFL. But Big Blue has had its share of difficulties in the green zone – their 44.4% touchdown conversion rate ranks 28th in the league. Quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan says it's an area that needs to be addressed.
"We're going to spend a lot of time this week as coaches now that the players kind of go their separate ways for the week and really take a hard look at what's gone well, what hasn't gone well, and most importantly, the why," Sullivan said. "The bottom line is we've got to take a look at that and certainly those areas where Eli feels most comfortable and where he's had the most number of practice reps and he can anticipate things and react and adjust."
*5. Eli Manning more comfortable in second year of Ben McAdoo offense. *
With two more against the Patriots, Eli Manning now has 21 touchdowns this season to just six interceptions. He's just the sixth quarterback in NFL history with at least ten season of 20+ touchdown passes. His current 96.9 QB rating would be the highest of his twelve year career. Sullivan sees a more comfortable Eli in year two of the McAdoo system.
"It's his second year in it and with the receivers and with the scheme and so forth, he's healthy and he's still the same tireless worker, the same guy that prepares thoroughly and meticulously and very, very competitive," Sullivan said. "I think it's just a combination of all of his hard work paying off and being able to be very comfortable and kind of anticipating things a little bit faster."
6. Will Tye is making the most of his opportunities.
The Giants went into the season with Larry Donnell, Daniel Fells and Jerome Cunningham at the tight end spot. Donnell, the best pass-catching tight end on the team, has missed the past two games with a neck injury. Fells is on IR as he continues to battle a MRSA infection. Enter Will Tye, a rookie tight end from Stony Brook who signed with the practice squad this summer. Tye has been active since the Giants Week 5 matchup with San Francisco, and had a career high 5 catches for 56 yards against the Patriots, to the delight of tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride.
"I always felt like he had it in him to be a good player, but he's young, he's green, his development is what still needs to take place and it shows it, it shows it in some of the inconsistencies that he has," Gilbride said. "But I'll tell you what, he's made some big plays for us, too, and I think down the stretch, he's going to make a lot more. "
7. Mark Herzlich could see additional reps as the team's emergency tight end.
The Giants sent in the veteran linebacker for a snap against the Patriots last week when they were first-and-goal at the 1 yard line. With depth at the position a concern, Gilbride says there could be more opportunities for Herzlich these last six weeks.
"We got him based on our situation with the guys that have gone down." Gilbride said. "You need to have a contingency plan. So we had him on the goal line and he ran a really good route. If Eli had some time, he probably would've gotten a touchdown."