Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of BigBlueInteractive.com, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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Eli Manning, New York Giants (December 9, 2019)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

DECEMBER 11, 2019 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Right guard Kevin Zeitler (ankle) and cornerback Janoris Jenkins (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday

Quarterback Daniel Jones (ankle), wide receiver Golden Tate (foot), tight end Evan Engram (foot), and tight end Rhett Ellison (concussion/non-contact) were limited in practice.

“(Jones looked) good,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “He’s moving around a little bit. We just have to see how he does by the end of the week. He’s out here. He’s out of the boot, he’s into his regular shoes and he’s out here practicing. Again, we didn’t do much today. We’ll just have to see how he feels by the end of the week to see if he fits into the equation here.”

“I feel good,” said Jones. “I think I’m healing quickly, I just have to keep doing what I’m told to do in the training room and try to get back out there as quick as I can.”

Cornerback Corey Ballentine (concussion) fully practiced.

PUNT SEAN SMITH RE-SIGNED TO PRACTICE SQUAD…
The New York Giants have re-signed left-footed punter Sean Smith to the Practice Squad. Smith was briefly on the team’s Practice Squad from October 31 to November 5. Smith was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Baltimore Ravens after the 2019 NFL Draft, but waived a few days later.

HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR…
The transcript of Pat Shurmur’s press conference on Wednesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Thursday, with the team’s coordinators also addressing the media.

Dec 102019
 
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Dec 102019
 
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New York Giants Defense (December 9, 2019)

New York Giants Defense – © USA TODAY Sports

MONDAY PAT SHURMUR CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants Head Coach Pat Shurmur addressed the media by conference call on Tuesday to discuss the team’s 23-17 (overtime) loss to the Philadelphia Eagles:

Opening Statement: Injury stuff, (Kevin) Zeitler, ankle, he’s being evaluated right now— we don’t know how serious. Just some game soreness other than that, so we’ll just have to see where it takes us. But that would be the only injury. It’s unfortunate we weren’t able to finish that game. I thought we played a solid first half, we didn’t do enough things in the second half good enough to win. Defense battled throughout, and we didn’t stay on the field on offense and convert our third downs and give ourselves a chance to move the ball and score. It’s unfortunate to lose that game that way, but we’re going to keep battling and put our efforts toward playing Miami and beating Miami this week. I’ll take your questions.

Q: There was a report yesterday from NFL Network that Daniel (Jones) is going to be out 2-4 weeks and Eli (Manning) is expected to start on Sunday against the Dolphins. Is that accurate?
A: That’s not accurate. I couldn’t tell you that at this point.

Q: So, you haven’t decided your starting quarterback for Sunday or where does that stand?
A: No. Two things. First, I haven’t been able to see Daniel move around, and then we’ll just see where he’s at to start the week. If Daniel can’t go, the second thing would be that Eli would start.

Q: Where is Daniel at right now in his rehab? Where was he at the end of last week health-wise? We saw he did more at the end of the week. What has he been able to do so far?
A: Well, obviously, he wasn’t able to make it. He was still, pretty much, in the protective boot at the end of last week. He was able to stand on the sideline without the boot. He’s making progress, but it’s hard for me to say exactly where he’s at until we see him move around tomorrow.

Q: Eli said last night that in the second half the Eagles played a lot more zone and made sure to keep everything in front of them, which I would assume is something you guys anticipated after (Darius) Slayton beat them badly in some man stuff in the first half. Why was it impossible to move the ball against that kind of a defense, on the field with a veteran quarterback, veteran receivers, and obviously a veteran head coach and veteran play caller?
A: Well, I think, first off, they did mix in some man stuff. They mixed their coverages. They played zone in the first half as well. They probably played a snap or two more in the second half. It was a smaller sample size, certainly, because we didn’t stay on the field. When you don’t execute third downs, then you don’t get the number of plays that you want. But we certainly anticipated it, we played against zone in the first half as well.

Q: You don’t use a timeout with 40 seconds left. You said that you wanted to see if you could get the ball back, the Eagles punt and all of that. Did you lose confidence in the defense, is that why you didn’t force (Eagles Head Coach Doug) Pederson to make a decision there? 
A: No, I didn’t lose confidence. It was fourth and one. Let’s say they go for it there with 40 seconds left, so what they need to do is execute a fourth and one, and then they would have time remaining to work the ball 15 or 20 yards for a field goal. So, what I wanted to do was make it less intriguing for them to go for it, but still give us an opportunity. Make them punt the ball. Had it been a little longer situation where I would be a little more certain he wouldn’t go for it, then maybe you blow it right at 40 seconds. But that was part of the decision— make them punt the ball on fourth down where anything can happen on the punt, and then if for some reason they did go for it there and didn’t get it, we still would’ve had…we had timeouts, and we would still have just a little bit of time for a play or two to get it into field goal range, which would’ve been a closest scenario for us. What I thought was going to happen happened. They chose to punt the ball. At that point there, it had nothing to do with confidence in the defense, it was just trying to dictate a little bit what they might do.

Q: We talk to you, we talk to the players, we kind of have a sense of the mood. What’s the mood like do you think in the rest of the building? If you talk to ownership, you talk to management, things like that, where is their mindset right now?
A: Well, that’s obviously a question for them. We’re all here, we’ve got the same focus to win a game and then win the next game. (Inaudible) competing for the playoffs, going further, and I think when that’s the situation, you just keep fighting and do the very best you can to win the next game. So, I sense that’s the mood in the building, but if you’re curious about that and how ownership is feeling, that’s obviously a better question for them.

Q: The final play of the game, what do you make of the fact that you have three veterans there, Michael Thomas, (Alec) Ogletree and Deone Bucannon, and it’s obviously some kind of breakdown, right? You don’t guard the best receiver on the other team. How do you sort of explain that?
A: Well, we just dropped coverage on (Zach) Ertz. That’s what happened, that’s how I explain it. There’s no other explanation than that. They were in 13 personnel and we had a big grouping on the field, and obviously, we just dropped coverage.

Q: How disappointing is that though that it’s happening with three veterans there?
A: Well, it’s disappointing when anybody makes a play, and I’ll just leave it at that.

Q: Why did you think it was possible that Doug Pederson would go for it on fourth and one and a half? It was almost closer to two yards. Why would he risk that in that moment?
A: Because he has a reputation for going for it there. That’s all.

Q: Leonard Williams is obviously a big piece of your defense, just curious why he wasn’t on the field for the first six plays of that overtime drive?
A: We had a rotation going and that’s basically it. For whatever it’s worth, I felt like the interior defensive linemen were pretty disruptive, and we liked the rotation we had to keep them fresh throughout.

Q: What’s the disappointment with Nate Solder and kind of the struggles this year, and is there any thought to maybe sitting him down for a game, giving him a chance to clear his head and just trying something different in that spot?
A: Nate’s just like everybody, we’re battling through this. When a tackle has a bad play, it’s glaring. He did a lot of good things last night. I think last night when (Kevin) Zeitler got hurt, we put (Nick) Gates in at guard, and we just feel like we’re going to still try to keep the best five guys out there.

Q: A couple of your players last night acknowledged that it feels like you guys find ways to lose games. How do you take a team that even in a game that you guys play a first half like that, you still find a way to lose and how do you turn that on its head into a team that creates its own opportunities rather than stepping on its own foot?
A: Well, we need to keep playing the games, and then we have to do it. You keep encouraging the players to play each play to the very best, and find a way to make a play by doing that. Once you do it, then you start to build confidence that it can get done.

Q: With all the losing, how do you as a head coach, if you do, remain positive and confident that the play is going to work, that down the stretch your team is going to find a way to win rather than lose?  Do you find any of these doubts creeping into you as game after game this keeps happening?
A: We try as educators to do everything in our power to give the guys the best opportunity to win a game. Each play, you call each play with the idea that it’s going to work. You practice it during the week and you call it during the game, and you trust that the players are going to execute it. Same thing. You try to look at each situation and just try to give the players the best chance to win and stay positive. I’ll continue to say that I see improvement, but it means very little until we start winning games. But you just stay positive and you just keep working with the players. This is what we do as coaches, is we coach. I understand the numbers. I get it. I get all that. But you just try to keep inspiring the players to play.

Q: Do you think it’s a fair assessment to say that the Eagles made significant halftime adjustments, and that you guys weren’t able to appropriately or effectively respond to them on both sides of the ball?
A: No, I don’t think that’s fair. I think we both made adjustments. Plays change throughout the game. They were running very similar type plays in the second half on offense as they did in the first half. We adjusted some of our calls because they were playing some zone. But what happens is, and here’s really what happened in the second half, they were able to stay on the field by gaining first downs, and that extended drives and allowed them to score the points they needed. We did not stay on the field, so some of the things you like to get to, you don’t have the opportunity to do. That’s why it sort of looks the way it does.

Q: If you look at Daniel and you think that obviously he’s not 100%, but if you think he’s ready to play, will you put him back in?
A: Absolutely. When he’s ready to play, he’ll go back in and play.

Q: Is there any thought at all at wanting to get Eli a home start here in these last couple weeks, or at least some playing time regardless?
A: No, I haven’t really thought of that. That’s not something that we discuss.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players return to practice on Wednesday.

Dec 102019
 
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PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 23 – NEW YORK GIANTS 17 (OT)…
The New York Giants are officially a (expletive deleted) train wreck. The Giants lost their franchise-record ninth game in a row, and sixth straight to the the Philadelphia Eagles, falling 23-17 in overtime on Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Giants blew a 17-3 halftime lead, not scoring a single point in the second half of the contest. The Giants are now 2-11 on the season.

It was a game of two halves with the Giants scoring 17 points on three of their six first-half drives. After starting the game with two punts, New York took a 7-0 lead on the first play of the 2nd quarter when quarterback Eli Manning found wide receiver Darius Slayton for a 35-yard catch-and-run on 3rd-and-13. The Eagles cut the score to 7-3 on the ensuing drive with a 34-yard field goal after a 9-play, 59-yard drive. The Giants extended their advantage back to a touchdown on their very next possession with a 34-yard field goal of their own after an identical 9-play, 59-yard drive.

After two punts by the Eagles and one by the Giants, New York got the ball back with 1:46 left before halftime. On 3rd-and-8 from their own 45-yard line with 35 seconds left, Manning hit Slayton deep for a 55-yard touchdown pass.

At the half, the Giants looked very much in control, 17-3. The Eagles had been held to five first downs and 116 total net yards in the first half. Of Philadelphia’s seven first-half possession, five had ended with punts and one with a turnover.

The second half was obviously a disaster for the Giants. Aside from the kneel down on the last play in regulation, the Giants punted all six times they had the ball, gaining only two first downs and 30 yards.

While the defense forced two more Philadelphia punts to start the second half, they eventually wore down, giving up drives of 58 yards (touchdown), 58 yards (missed field goal), and 85 yards (touchdown). The Eagles tied the game at 17-17 with less than two minutes to play. The Giants’ sixth drive of the second half then ended with their sixth punt.

Philadelphia won the overtime toss and predictably and easily drove 75 yards in eight plays for the game-winning touchdown.

Offensively, the Giants only gained 11 first downs and 255 total net yards. The Giants were 2-of-12 (17 percent) on 3rd down. The Giants’ offense only held the ball for 22 minutes. Manning was 15-of-30 for 203 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. His leading receiver was Slayton who caught five passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns, but he did not have a second-half reception. Running back Saquon Barkley had 17 carries for 66 yards.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 27 first downs and 418 total net yards (118 rushing, 300 passing) despite the Eagles suffering a number of game-ending injuries to key personnel. Linebackers Oshane Ximines (twice) and Markus Golden were credited with sacks. Defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson forced a fumble on 4th-and-1 that was recovered by linebacker David Mayo.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVES AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the game were QB Daniel Jones (ankle), TE Evan Engram (foot), TE Rhett Ellison (concussion), CB Corey Ballentine (concussion), RB Wayne Gallman, OT/OG Chad Slade, and OT Eric Smith.

RG Kevin Zeitler left the game with a lower body injury, having to be carted off to the locker room. He was spotted wearing a boot on his right foot with crutches after the game.

GIANTS RE-SIGN RILEY DIXON…
The Giants announced on Sunday that they have re-signed punter Riley Dixon to a 3-year contract extension. Dixon was set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Dixon was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Broncos. He was named to the All-Rookie team. The Giants traded with the Denver Broncos for Dixon in April 2018, giving the Broncos a conditional 7th-round draft pick. He had a solid inaugural year for the Giants, finishing 7th in net punting in the NFL (41.8 yards per punt) and 11th in gross punting (45.4 yards per punt). This year, Dixon is currently 5th in net punting (42.8) and 6th in gross punting (47.0).

POST-GAME REACTION…
Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Pat Shurmur and the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Pat Shurmur (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Dec 092019
 
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Dec 072019
 
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Jabrill Peppers, New York Giants (September 29, 2019)

Jabrill Peppers – © USA TODAY Sports

JABRILL PEPPERS TO IR, KAREEM MARTIN TO 53-MAN ROSTER…
The New York Giants have placed safety Jabrill Peppers (back) and linebacker Chris Peace (knee) on Injured Reserve, effectively ending their seasons. To fill those roster vacancies, the Giants activated linebacker Kareem Martin from Injured Reserve and signed safety Sean Chandler from the Practice Squad.

Peppers was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. He was traded to the Giants as part of the Odell Beckham deal to the Browns in March 2019. Before suffering a transverse process fracture in his back in the game against the Chicago Bears in late November, Peppers started 11 games and was credited with 76 tackles, five pass defenses, one interception that he returned for a touchdown, and three forced fumbles. He also returned one kickoff and four punts.

The Giants claimed Peace off of waivers from the Los Angeles Chargers in September 2019. He played in four games with the Giants before injuring his knee. The 6’2”, 250-pound Peace was signed by the Chargers as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft.

The Giants placed Kareem Martin on Injured Reserve in September 2019 with a knee injury that he suffered in the regular-season opener. The Giants signed Martin as an unrestricted free agent from the Arizona Cardinals in March 2018. Though not a standout in 2018, Martin has his most productive season as a pro, playing in a 16 games with seven starts, and finishing with 48 tackles (twice as much as his previous high), 1.5 sacks, and 2 pass defenses. The 6’6”, 272-pound Martin was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Cardinals as a defensive end. The Cardinals moved him to linebacker after his rookie season.

Chandler was on the 53-man roster in September and October and spent most of November on the Practice Squad. The Giants originally signed Chandler as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. Chandler made the team and played in all 16 games with no starts. He finished 2018 with 18 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 pass defense. Before he was cut in early November, Chandler played in nine games with no starts, accruing just five tackles.

DECEMBER 7, 2019 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Quarterback Daniel Jones (ankle), tight end Evan Engram (foot), tight end Rhett Ellison (concussion), linebacker Chris Peace (knee), and safety Jabrill Peppers (back) did not practice on Saturday. All five players have been officially ruled out of Monday night’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

“(Engram) pushed it as far as he could, but it’s still sore so he can’t go,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur.

“It sucks,” said Engram. “I was really excited about this week. I felt really good at the beginning of the week, felt really good in my rehab prior to the week. As the week went by, I just wasn’t ready. I made some progress but I’m not ready.”

Cornerback Corey Ballentine (concussion/non-contact) was limited in practice. Ballentine has also been officially ruled out of the game.

Wide receiver Golden Tate (concussion) and left tackle Nate Solder (ankle) fully practiced. Both are expected to play on Monday night.

THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the New York Giants on Sunday. The Giants play the Eagles in Philadelphia on Monday night.

Dec 072019
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 15, 2019)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, December 9, 2019

THE STORYLINE

It’s easy to become disillusioned with the New York Giants right now. As fans of a sport with a long offseason, we look forward to each new season with great anticipation. But because each of the last three seasons has been effectively over by October, fans who once anxiously pined for the season to start now can’t wait until it’s over. Strange and sad.

When Eli Manning was benched after Week 2, I wondered if we would ever hear from him in an official capacity as a New York Giant again. With him as the #2 QB, there would be no reason for Pat Hanlon to designate him as one of the players to address the media during the week. There would be no reason to do a post-game interview. And a January presser for a player not retiring and headed towards free agency may not have been likely. In other words, I’m not sure Giants fans fully realized that they may have seen and heard the last of Eli as a member of the team. There would be no official send-off or goodbye.

Regardless of your feelings about the state of team management and the coaching staff, the decision to bench Eli was the correct one. Manning and the Giants were 0-2 at the time. It was quickly becoming clear that the same issues with the defense and on the offense line were not going to allow the team to compete in 2019. Playing Manning, who would not be with the team in 2020, and sitting the #6 player selected in the draft made no sense. With each mounting loss, much fan venom was being targeted at Manning. For once, the Giants didn’t wait too long and expeditiously made the right move. They moved onto Daniel Jones.

Jones won his first two games. The Giants evened their record at 2-2. Giants fans were in a great mood. But the defense continued to remain one of the worst in the league. The offensive line was not opening holes in the ground game and, like Manning, Jones was afforded little time to throw the ball and was getting hit far too much. Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard, and Golden Tate all missed time. The Giants went winless in their next eight games (literally half the season). Almost too predictably, Jones got hurt in the last game. It’s currently unknown if he will play again this season.

Analytically speaking, Jones missing 1-4 of the season’s remaining games is not good. The more he plays, the better prepared he will be for 2020. But in a twist of fate, Giants fans have now been presented with a second chance to fully understand they are really saying good-bye to Eli Manning. Perhaps for just one more game, but no more than four in total. When Eli Manning walked off of the field against the Buffalo Bills on September 15th (game pictured above), none of us knew at the time that was likely his last game as a New York Giant. Now we know.

Regardless of how you feel about Eli Manning, he is the franchise’s greatest quarterback. He holds every major team record. It’s not even close. He’s thrown for 22,000 more yards and 163 more touchdowns than Phil Simms. Charlie Conerly, Kerry Collins, Fran Tarkenton, and Y.A. Tittle pale in comparison. Most importantly, Manning was 8-4 in the playoffs, and responsible for one-quarter of the franchise’s eight NFL titles.

The rub with Eli’s career is if you take away his two 4-0 playoff runs, other than longevity which led to stat accumulation, his career doesn’t seem very impressive. But… but… but… you CAN’T take away those two playoff runs. He played an incredibly efficient game against the #1 defense in the NFL in Tampa Bay with two TDs and a 117.1 QBR rating. His 46-second TD drive before halftime against Dallas completely changed the game around. The greatest game of his career may have been his performance in -23 degree temperatures in the NFC Championship. He drove the Giants to two 4th-quarter, Super Bowl touchdowns against what was regarded as the best team and coach in NFL history and was on the front end of a play that is widely regarded as the greatest play in the history of the game. During the 2007 playoffs, Manning ended up 72-of-119 (60.5 percent) for 854 yards with six touchdowns and one interception. And he was awarded his first Super Bowl MVP trophy. Who wasn’t? Tony Romo, Brett Favre, and Tom Brady.

Fast forward four years. The only reason the Giants were in the playoffs that season was Eli Manning. The Giants had no defense or ground game that year until the playoff run. In his greatest season of his career, six of the team’s nine regular-season wins were 4th-quarter comeback wins. With the season on the line, Manning swept the Cowboys in the last month. Two more 4th-quarter comebacks came in the playoffs. That’s eight of the team’s 13 wins. Against the Falcons, Manning threw three touchdowns and finished with a 129.3 QBR. He then threw three more touchdowns, and had a 114.5 QBR, out-dueling league MVP Aaron Rodgers and the 15-1 Packers. Most quarterbacks would have folded with the beating he took in the NFC Championship Game, and his 17-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-15 to Mario Manningham was one of the greatest throws of his career. Perhaps his greatest throw came in the very next game, again with Manningham being the target. With the Giants trailing the Patriots late in the 4th quarter, Manning threw one of the greatest pinpoint passes in the history of the game in the tensest of situations, moving the ball from their own 12 to midfield. Eli finished the 2011 playoffs 106-of-163 (65 percent) for 1,219 yards with nine touchdowns and one interception. And he was awarded his second Super Bowl MVP trophy. Wearing sad faces were Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith, and Tom Brady again.

If there was a Mount Rushmore of New York Giants, Eli Manning would be on it. And if you told any Giants fan in April 2004 that Manning would go onto win two Super Bowls, they would have danced up and down with glee. Beyond that, he’s been the model teammate and citizen on and off of the field. Whether or not you think he is overrated, or if you believe the franchise botched the second half of his career by not surrounding him with even an average team, do not lose sight of the fact that he is a New York Giants legend.

Win or lose on Monday night, you are about to see him play for the New York Giants for possibly the last time. Appreciate the moment.

THE INJURY REPORT

  • QB Daniel Jones (ankle – out)
  • WR Golden Tate (concussion)
  • TE Evan Engram (foot – out)
  • TE Rhett Ellison (concussion – out)
  • LT Nate Solder (ankle)
  • LB Chris Peace (knee – out/Injured Reserve)
  • CB Corey Ballentine (concussion – out)
  • S Jabrill Peppers (back – out/Injured Reserve)

THE FINAL WORD

Thank you Eli. We’re proud of you.

Dec 072019
 
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