The New York Giants are 3-2 heading into a Week 6 game on the road against the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles. This is the exact same scenario they faced last season, when they took a 27-0 beating at the hands of the Eagles, lost Victor Cruz and began a downward spiral to a 6-10 season.
So, what is different this season, other than the fact that the Giants are leading the NFC East?
"Well, the grit, the way in which we play, the energy that is spent, the scrappiness, the will, the ability seemingly to have people miss games and others kind of step up and help us win. So those would be the things right off the top of my head," said Giants coach Tom Coughlin when asked that question on Monday afternoon. "Last night, every guy that was dressed had to make a contribution and they did. (Geremy) Davis, look at the catch he made, a 16-yarder on third and one. And that was a critical part. Myles (White) is out there running around and gave a good performance and accounted for himself. Will Tye played well. These guys are coming up with some games that are helping us."
Coughlin is right that this year's 3-2 feels much different than last year's 3-2. This is a flawed team with some obvious deficiences, but it feels like there are possibilities for good things down the line. Lat year? I don't recall feeling that way at this point in the season.
Here are some other takeaways from Coughlin's Monday conference call.
On injuries at wide receiver
Coughlin didn't know yet what Odell Beckham Jr. or Rueben Randle, who both suffered hamstring injuries Sunday night, would be able to do this week.
"We're going to have to see. They're going to have to treat. They've got a couple days when they can be treated as Thursday will be a Wednesday. So we do have a couple of days and we'll take full advantage of that," Coughlin said. "I did tell our team that the important thing on a weekly basis, week in and week out, is to play these really tough physical football games and come right back and do it again the next week. We need more of our guys on the practice field, we need some consistency with our weeks. I'm hoping that we can get Odell and Rueben at least on a limited basis for the entire rest of the week. I know that's (optimistic), but I would hope we could do that."
With an extra day to prepare for the Eagles, the Giants don't practice until Thursday.
Coughlin had no new information on the status of Victor Cruz. The coach said "we'll see," when asked if the Giants might need to add a receiver to the roster before next Monday's game.
"I would think if you try to look at the different things that can happen, that certainly would be something that's within the realm of possibility," Coughlin said. "I hope it doesn't, but we've got a little bit of time here to see how that's going to stack up."
The Giants have two wide receivers on their practice squad, Julian Talley and Tavarres King. They also recently worked out Wes Welker and ex-Giant Hakeem Nicks.
On Jon Beason and Jonathan Casillas
Coughlin said Beason, who suffered a concussion Sunday "seemed to be in pretty good spirits and pretty good shape this morning."
Casillas, who has a calf injury, warmed up prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers, but was held out of action.
"Well, the part of the trainers and the medical people and Jon himself, in trying to get ready to go, had limitations. In the final hour, in my opinion, it wasn't something that was worth a calculated risk, so we just dressed a healthier guy," Coughlin said. "And then Cooper Taylor, we got a lot of things done on special teams. Cooper took a lot of special teams snaps last night and did a good job. It was unfortunate that Jon wasn't ready to go, but we did get some good play out of Cooper."
On what adding Shane Vereen has meant
"Well, this is as we go along and get further into the season, we see and develop more in terms of how we can utilize his talents best. Last night was a great example of some of the things that he can do in certain situations when the defense may in fact think they've got you in a position where they have the upper hand. And someone like Shane can determine that might not necessarily be so," Coughlin said. "Have we ever had a player like this, to be able to utilize his talents? Probably not to this degree. So we're just looking forward to continuing to utilize his talent and his ability along with the other players that we have offensively."
On a couple of lineup adjustments
Running back Andre Williams played only eight snaps, while Vereen played 39 and Rashad Jennings 30.
"It was just the way the game unfolded," Coughlin said. "There's an order sometimes, but it became more of a zebra game and that's why you saw it the way it was."
The Giants also replaced Trumaine McBride in the slot with Trevin Wade, who played 12 snaps. Coughlin said that Wade played "Because he's a good football player and we decided to give him an opportunity there."
Translation: McBride got benched.