When head coach Pat Shurmur addressed the media Wednesday in his post-practice availability, he did not talk much about the New York Giants opponent this Sunday – the Detroit Lions – but instead said that the team is focusing on how it can improve.
“Even though we’re playing the Lions, a lot of this comes down to it’s all about us,” Shurmur said. “Making sure we play consistently physical and do all the right things.”
That being said, Shurmur knows that the 2-5 Giants have to prepare for a matchup against the 2-3-1 Lions if they want to break their three-game losing streak.
“I think they’re an outstanding football team,” Shurmur said. “They know how to score points. They have really good, talented players on offense. They’re very physical on defense. They challenge really upfront and in the backend, so we have to do a good job of challenging them and doing what we can to get the ball in the end zone. Then we have to get positive contributions from the special teams, like we have for most of the year, and try to eliminate the bad plays there.”
Here are three other takeaways from Shurmur’s post-practice media availability.
Next man up
Shurmur confirmed that running back Saquon Barkley will be back on the field for the second straight week after missing three games with a high ankle sprain suffered against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Cornerback Corey Ballentine and wide receiver Sterling Shepard are both still in the concussion protocol.
One of the main storylines for the Giants this season has been the “next man up” mentality that every team adopts when it is suffering from injuries. Wide receiver Darius Slayton has become “that man” for the Giants, having played almost every offensive snap last week against the Arizona Cardinals.
“I think he’s doing a good job,” Shurmur said. “He’s getting better. He’s found a way to make some plays. I think Daniel likes throwing to him. He trusts that he’s going to be where he’s supposed to be. Again, he’s another young player that’s out there. He sees things each week that he’s maybe seeing for the first time. The fact that he’s getting a lot of reps will help him get better faster.”
Daniel Jones’ ball security
After recording one interception and three fumbles in Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals, the main concern for rookie quarterback Daniel Jones is his ability to protect the football.
“We have to secure the football,” Shurmur said. “The turnovers are the thing that we obviously have to get a handle on. There were throws in the game, in less than ideal conditions to throw, that he made some really good throws. He made some good reads. There were some things that he missed that he’ll continue to improve on.”
In preparation for this week’s game against the Lions, Shurmur said that Jones will continue to practice different ball security drills. Even with a less successful past three weeks, Shurmur said that Jones maintains the same demeanor throughout and is eager to make improvements where necessary.
“We’re constantly talking about two hands on the ball in the pocket,” Shurmur said. “In all scenarios, it’s always super important to have two hands on the ball when you’re in the pocket because you can’t always count on the fact that they are blocked for a very, very long time. That’s just stuff you work on. It’s part of what a young quarterback goes through. As time goes on, that gets better. But obviously, we want it to get better fast.”
Are DPI challenges worth it? Shurmur says yes.
Shurmur is 0-4 this year on defensive pass interference challenges, with the most recent challenge coming this past weekend on a play involving cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Around the league as a whole, the call on the field is usually upheld. Shurmur still believes in using the challenge, though, if the situation calls for it.
“I trust that the system is in place to help fix errors,” Shurmur said. “I guess there’s the human element involved with what’s egregious. I think as a coach, when it’s a play that’s a big chunk of yardage that could potentially eliminate a score if it’s changed, then you consider it. I think last week, there were four challenges and none of them were overturned. I get the data.”
Shurmur said that even if the percentage that a call will be overturned is low, that small chance might be worth taking in a close game situation.
“But when you’re out there competing, if it’s one in five and it’s a big …,” Shurmur said. “We’ll just have to see how it plays out in the long run. I still think it’s worth it if you feel like you have a chance to get it. Now we do know they’re very unlikely to change it. I understand that.”