The New York Giants find themselves with a 6-3 record, looking to make it 7-3 and secure their first five game winning streak since the 2010 season.
Their latest win was an unlikely one, coming down to the play of a back-up offensive tackle at guard and a gutsy fourth down call. If you told fans before the game that the game could hinge on the play of Marhsall Newhouse, they’d likely as not skip the game altogether.
But where Newhouse’s play might something to be desired, nobody could ask for more effort and professionalism from a player.
“From Marshall, there's a versatility as a guy who'd been, for the most part, a tackle since he's been here at least.” Sullivan said of Newhouse, “Just being able to go in and not miss a beat in terms of assignments. There's an athleticism that he has that translates well, particularly pulling in a gap scheme. I think when you look at someone that was pressed into service, that responded and that's expected all of our players at every position, has to be ready.”
“Marshall is a veteran,” Sullivan added, “he's been around, he knows this scheme. Very pleased with a guy just being able to step in and fill a role that was another one just like Brett Jones the week before. There wasn't a whole lot of preparation and planning in terms of having to be prepared to go to guard, but I think hats off to coach Solari, coach Wells, two guys that work with the offensive line in terms of working fundamentals. Trying to have those, whomever those individuals are that are going to be active, just having the versatility to try and crossover. It's a challenge but we'll have to wait and see how it unfolds, but really pleased with how they responded and whoever is asked to step in there, we're confident that they'll be able to do good job for us.”
Newhouse hadn’t played guard since high school, and had to run through his technique and assignments before every play. But even more impressive, he was playing two positions for the Giants, particularly in their four minute drill — Left guard and tight end. Making things even more difficult, not only did his technique and responsibility change at tight end, he had to remember to declare as an eligible receiver or the team would be penalized.
“Yeah, that was a lot of hats.” Sullivan said, “Again, that's a credit to him and to his preparation. To have the awareness of what was going on and when to report and so on and so forth. You see that from the tight end position inside, but, I think it speaks to what every week we talk about over and over again as coaches is how important it is to prepare and getting mental reps and understanding the big picture. That all sounds good and then all of the sudden you get called upon, there's no hiding from the fact that those players who are prepared when they're called upon and those who aren't prepared. Fortunately for us, the guys that had opportunities Monday night did a good job for us.”
To sum it all up, Newhouse was a true professional Monday night, and whatever else you may think of him, that has to be applauded.
With all the uncertainty around the offensive line, McAdoo probably could have been forgiven if he erred on the side of caution against the Bengals. But he didn’t he went for the touchdown on a fourth and goal where convention — particularly with a patch-work offensive line — demanded they take the field goal.
Instead he showed confidence in the offense to score the go-ahead, and ultimately game winning, touchdown. Later he showed confidence in that patch-work offensive line to close out the game by running the ball in the four minute drill.
Sullivan wouldn’t say whether it was a positive message to the team, but he certainly believes that its something they can build upon.
“I'm not sure that from a message standpoint whether that was a part of the thought process.” Sullivan said, “I think any time that you do that and you come out successful, man, that's great and it put us in a position to win the game. I think we felt very good about the process, about the plan that we had. I think it's one thing when you get any kind of situation when you're thinking about going for it. Whether it's down close to the goal line and talking about points or midfield or whatever the case may be. When you feel really good about what the play calls are and how well they looked in practice and how well things are falling into place, I think it does make it a little bit easier. You look at how the unit should feel, certainly more confidence based upon that. But I think also, as was touched upon earlier with a lot of the questions, to be able to run the ball the way we were able to run the ball, that's been a huge source of disappointment for all of us. And to be able to finish, get the first downs that we needed when they knew we had to run and we were able to do that, hopefully, it's something we can build upon.”
Turning to Sunday’s game, the Bears’ offense has taken a hit with lineman Kyle Long out for the season with an Achilles injury, Bobby Massie working through the concussion protocol, and receiver Alshon Jeffery suspended for a PED violation.
But that isn’t the concern of Sullivan’s. His concern is their defense, and their talented linebackers in particular.
“If you're talking about the outside linebackers that become different defensive ends,obviously they're a very talented defensive front.” Sullivan said, adding, “That's not coach speak. You put the tape on and there aren't too many quarterbacks that are back there that either are not getting hit or they're having to reset and move in the pocket or they're getting sacked. Of course with Floyd, he's a young guy that's really coming into his groove. McPhee is a heck of a player, he's been on a pitch count, if you will, because of his injuries. Hicks, of course, is tremendous and young; that's a great group. You asked about the outside guys, they become defensive ends when we go to our zebra package and so obviously we have to be aware of opportunities that we have and trying to make sure that if we want to push the ball down the field, we account for those guys, trying to help tackles when necessary and do various things because they definitely do present a challenge.”