While the New York Giants needed their bye week to get healthier, address injuries, and for the players to get a break from the grind of an NFL season, they also needed the opportunity for reflection.
The Giants always have an extensive self-scouting period after every season where they evaluate themselves, what went right, what went wrong, what they did poorly, and what they did well.
In addition to hosting a massive workout and signing Hakeem Nicks, the Giants' coaching staff used the bye week as an opportunity to self-scout and not only identify areas where they need to improve, but also identify how they might go about improving those areas.
On the Red/Green Zone
Over the bye week Ed took a look at some of the Giants' woes inside of their opponents' 20 yard lines. As it so happens, that is one of the topics Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo wanted to address over the bye week.
"[We] saw five turnovers. We're number one in the league in turnover ratio, defense and special teams are doing a great job getting us the ball and we're taking care of it fairly well. But half of them, half the giveaways are in the green zone. When you turn the ball over five times down there, you've got problems. Nine penalties, dropped balls, missed throws, and mental errors," McAdoo said. "Our focus needs to increase the longer you drive the ball and that's a major factor. You have five turnovers, you lose five possessions and five opportunities to score right there off the bat. When the field shrinks and you have longer down and distances to go, it makes it a lot harder and a lot easier to call a defense. That's what we need to do, we need to focus on the details, chase the details and not touchdowns."
Running The Ball
Tied to the Giants' struggles in the red zone is their (in)ability to consistently run the ball. The Giants, and especially Tom Coughlin, know how important being able to run the football is to scoring and being successful in December. However, the Giants haven't been able to consistently get production out of their running backs.
"We saw some concepts that we do better than others -- that doesn't mean you get away from things, that means you work at them to improve. You see what individual players, what they do best, and you try to help them where they need help the most. In the run game, we were winning the down at a fairly decent clip," McAdoo said. "We need to eliminate the zero and negative yardage runs that hurt you. The other thing we do is when we get a chance to have a one-on-one, we need to break an arm tackle and take it to the house, that's something we haven't done."
McAdoo, however, refused to put the blame for the inconsistent running game solely on the running backs.
"Well, no. It's everyone's involved in that [inconsistent running game], it's not one group. Believe me, there's enough to go around and I'm included. For the backs, the biggest thing for the backs is they need to be aware of the situation. When there's one yard to go, they need to get that yard on third and one," McAdoo said. "When you get one-on-one with a safety, we expect our backs to beat that safety and take one the distance, and we haven't done that yet and it's a challenge on them to do that. We expect them to do it and we count on them to do it."
However, the Giants have yet to break that arm tackle and get big runs. When asked about it, McAdoo wouldn't, at least publicly, put his finger on which running back was the best at breaking those arm tackles.
"They've each had their moments. They've each had their moments," McAdoo said. "I don't know that one sticks out one way or the other. Andre (Williams) is a big, physical guy and if he gets a body one-on-one in the hole he's pretty good with it. Shane (Vereen) has some wiggle to him. They each have their own skillset. Rashad (Jennings) does a nice job, he's had some nice second half runs in games where he's come out. But we just need to play the way we're capable of there."
Dealing With Injuries
It probably wouldn't be a Giants' pre-game press conference if there weren't updates on how they were dealing with injuries shuffling their personnel. Over the bye week, the Giants surprised many by re-signing former No. 1 receiver Hakeem Nicks. The question is now whether or not Nicks will be active against the Washington Redskins, but McAdoo did compliment his newest receiver.
"He's definitely made some progress. He's got some work on our stuff and in the look team. It looks like he's in good shape, he's catching the ball well, and it's coming along nicely," McAdoo said.
"He's a big, veteran target, has a lot of experience, has made some plays in stretch runs before. It's good to have him here.
"I think Coach said it best when he said he was the best guy out there, and we're fortunate that he was out there. He came in and he's doing a nice job. He's working at it, putting in some extra time learning it, spending some time with Sean (Ryan) and Ryan Roeder, putting the time in after practice and in the evenings. He's had a nice week."
Finally, McAdoo expressed confidence in how the Giants' patchwork offensive line would hold up as Justin Pugh deals with a concussion and Weston Richburg heals a high ankle sprain.
"Very confident, yeah, very confident. We had a good week this week. Dallas (Reynolds) came in, we haven't missed a beat so far up front. He does a nice job directing traffic for us," McAdoo said. "We'll need a big week from those guys this week, Washington does a nice job up front creating some havoc."