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5 Things We Learned

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5 Things We Learned: Coordinators speak


The Giants continued their preparations for Monday's game against the Seattle Seahawks on Friday at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Giants coordinators Wink Martindale, Mike Kafka and Thomas McGaughey met with the media for the first time in two weeks.

Here are five things we learned ahead of the Week 4 matchup.

1. Wink focuses on tackling

The Giants amassed 16 missed tackles in Week 3, according to Pro Football Focus. Several led to San Francisco picking up first downs, including a few on third-and-long. The increase in missed tackles led to defensive coordinator Wink Martindale focusing on that area in practice this week.

"San Francisco was our worst tackling game that we've had, and we made it a focal point yesterday," Martindale told the media Friday. "It was different types of tackles. Breaking the stiff arm down, running him out of bounds, wrapping him up, running through a ball carrier and even to the point where you are hitting quarterbacks, gator rolling when you hit them, so you don't land with your body weight on the quarterback because we do have to do a better job of getting off the field on third down. No matter what game it is. That's always been a strength of ours and right now, penalties is one of the biggest reasons why we are not getting off the field on third down. That was the three main (points of) emphasis in the tackling drill that we did."

While the 49ers have one of the most productive offenses in the NFL, the Seahawks are right there with them, as they rank fourth in the league in points this year. In their Week 3 win over Carolina, Seattle recorded a total of 15 missed tackles forced, including seven from running back Kenneth Walker III.

"What it comes down to is they are professional athletes and they've got to have that mindset of taking the right angle, stepping toes on toes, and making tackles," the defensive coordinator said. "Which they have and they are going to do it again. Like I said, the San Francisco game was the biggest game where that came out and then all of the sudden there is a wildfire that we can't tackle. Come out Monday night, chart them."

View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 4 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.

2. Kafka: McKethan 'getting better each week'

The team's unofficial depth chart has not changed much since the start of the season. But one difference between Week 1 and now is up front, where second-year offensive lineman Marcus McKethan has been penciled in as the starting right guard. McKethan, who missed his entire rookie season due to a torn ACL suffered during training camp, was on the field for 100 percent of the team's offensive snaps in Weeks 2 and 3.

"He's done a nice job for a young player," Mike Kafka said. "He's come in and he's played physical. I think he has a nice calm demeanor about him, and he's got some poise and he's a big, strong physical kid. He has all the tools, so as a young player, learning, developing, and growing, I think you're seeing him getting better each and every week."

The Seahawks have recorded five sacks on the season, all of which have come in the last two games. Defensive end Jarran Reed has a team-high 1.5 sacks, in addition to six quarterback hits, while four other players combine for Seattle's remaining 3.5 sacks. Uchenna Nwosu leads the team with eight total pressures, according to PFF, while Mario Edwards Jr. has seven.

3. Gillan's 'done a really nice job'

Lost in the shuffle of last week's defeat was the standout performance from Jamie Gillan. The fifth-year pro punted the ball six times in San Francisco and averaged 52.7 yards per punt. They also had quality airtime, as the 49ers were able to record just 28 total return yards on the six opportunities, good for an average of 48.0 punt net yards for the Scottish-born specialist.

Gillan's performance earned him a spot on the Pro Football Focus Team of the Week.

"Jamie's doing a good job," McGaughey said. "He really is. He's kind of found a rhythm, and we just want to keep him on the same path. Just keep staying in the flow of the game, staying in the moment, and just making sure that he's just executing at a high level. So, we've just got to do our part as a cover unit and a protection unit to help him, and he's just got to do his job as a punter. So, he's done a really nice job."

The 26-year-old has gotten his season off to a good start, as last week's performance was the second time in three weeks that he averaged over 52.0 yards per punt. On his three kicks against the Cowboys in Week 1, Gillan averaged 53.3 yards per punt with a net average just below 48 yards per punt.

4. Wink: Kayvon will be 'just fine'

The Giants picked up their first sack of the season last week when outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux took down 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy on the first drive of the game. While the defense went on to pick up another sack of Purdy later in the game, it's undoubtedly been a quiet beginning of the season for Thibodeaux and the rest of the pass rush. Despite the slow start, Martindale believes the second-year outside linebacker is going to be just fine.

"I think that if you just want to rush four and play coverage the entire game and have me come up here and say this guy didn't play well, this guy didn't play well, that's not me," the defensive coordinator said. "We are a defense that keeps offenses guessing. They won't admit it to you before you play the game, but when you see them at the combine and everything else, I'm talking about offensive coordinators, we know how to attack protections and we are going to it the best way we can do it to affect the quarterback.

"That involves Kayvon, but it involves him sometimes dropping, sometimes rushing. There's guys that have more sacks than Kayvon right now and their team's record is worse than ours. It's three games. What's the old country saying? Don't throw out the baby with the water, or whatever it is. But, I think we are going to be just fine with Kayvon, alright?"

The Seahawks have allowed just five sacks and 35 total pressures of quarterback Geno Smith this season. Smith played without two of his starting offensive linemen last week in tackle Charles Cross (toe) and guard Phil Haynes (calf). Both players sat out practice on Thursday, but head coach Pete Carroll told reporters early in the week that the two linemen have a chance of playing this week.

5. Barkley limited; Thomas DNP Friday

Six Giants were listed on the team's first injury report of the Week Thursday. Guard Ben Bredeson, who suffered a concussion during the Week 2 win in Arizona and missed last week's game, practiced fully on Thursday and Friday.

Running back Saquon Barkley has been a limited participant in practice this week due to the ankle injury he suffered at the end of the Cardinals game. Daboll told the media that Barkley "did good" at Thursday's practice, but the running back's status for Monday night remains up in the air.

Left tackle Andrew Thomas has been sidelined since Week 1 with a hamstring injury. After practicing in a limited capacity on Thursday, the starting left tackle did not participate in Friday's session.

Tight end Daniel Bellinger suffered a neck injury during Thursday's practice, but the second-year player is still expected to play this week, according to Daboll.

Outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari (hamstring) and defensive lineman D.J. Davidson (elbow), both of whom were limited on Thursday and Friday, are the final two players listed on the injury report. It remains to be seen if they will suit up Monday.

View rare photos of the all-time history between the New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks.


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