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‘Things I think’ as Giants begin second half of 2019 season

Here are some storylines to pay attention to

New York Giants v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Monday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys marks the beginning of the second half of the season for your New York Giants. Here are some of the storylines I’m thinking about for both this Week 9 game and the remainder of the Giants’ 2019 season.

Sterling Shepard needs to be shut down

I think at this point it would be silly for Sterling Shepard to play any more football during the 2019 season. It might even be reckless.

I’m not a doctor, but at this point it certainly seems ill-advised for Shepard to try and play football in the immediate future. After two concussions just five weeks apart and having reported symptoms on Saturday that will keep him out Monday I’m just not sure there is any point in Shepard suiting up this season.

Shepard has a wife. He has a young child with another on the way. His long-term health and his family need to come first.

About Dave Gettleman’s letter to fans

There has been a lot of whining (I’m looking at you, Daryl Slater of NJ Advance Media) about the decision by Giants GM Dave Gettleman to explain the Leonard Williams trade via an interview with the team’s official website rather meeting on the record with writers who cover the team — including yours truly.

Personally, I’m not getting all worked up about it.

Would I like the opportunity to speak with Gettleman? Absolutely. Dave, if you’re reading I will be around all day Tuesday. I can stop by your office any time. Wednesday? Hey, I’d love a reason to cancel that root canal I’m scheduled for.

Seriously, I’d love to ask Gettleman what it was about this player that made him surrender draft capital, something building teams usually don’t do. I would love to ask him if he understands how big a mistake this will look like if the Giants don’t re-sign Williams at the end of this season, and if he understands the Giants will probably have to overpay to ensure they do that.

There are a lot of other questions I would love to ask him. About Daniel Jones. About Pat Shurmur. About whether he’s satisfied with the development of many of the young defensive players. Perhaps Gettleman will speak with media during the upcoming bye week — that is still to be determined.

If he doesn’t, he doesn’t. Sometimes you reap what you sow, and to be honest the way some in the media have harpooned just about everything the GM has said and done for the past two years there is part of me that doesn’t blame Gettleman for avoiding media scrums if he can.

Maybe that’s a double standard on my part. I remember times when I was critical of former GM Jerry Reese for not being accessible enough, so if you want to accuse me of that I guess you can. I specifically remember believing Reese and Giants ownership hung Ben McAdoo out to dry during the Josh Brown situation by remaining silent while trotting the coach out day after day to field questions it was above his pay grade to answer.

In this case, though, I just can’t jump all over the GM.

Judging progress

The Giants are 2-6. Realistically, the rest of this season isn’t about making some sort of magical playoff run. It’s about coming out of this season feeling like they are in a better place than when they started it, whatever the won-loss record ends up being.

Despite the disappointment of the season’s first half, I’m pretty bullish on the idea that they have a good chance of ending up feeling like progress has been made. I think this is a roster that should be better than 2-6, and that there is a solid core in place as the Giants look ahead.

  • The Giants needed a quarterback of the future and they have found one. Daniel Jones has made mistakes, and will continue to do so. Let’s just look for signs of growth over the final eight games. Off what we have seen thus far, it’s hard to argue that Gettleman was wrong to use the No. 6 pick on Jones.
  • Out of this draft class, Dexter Lawrence, DeAndre Baker, Oshane Ximines, Darius Slayton and Ryan Connelly all look like long-term contributors. In addition, of course, to Jones. That’s a pretty good haul.
  • Second- and third-year players like Evan Engram, Will Hernandez, Dalvin Tomlinson and Jabrill Peppers are continuing to grow.

Those things we already know. There are two specific areas where I’m looking for improvement over the final eight games.

  • Defensively, the Giants have to be better. More specifically, in the secondary. The Giants are giving up way too many big passing plays, and not getting off the field often enough on third down. I would like to see improvement in those areas over the final eight games. If we don’t see improvement might the Giants look for someone other than James Bettcher to guide this young defense?
  • Mostly, though, I would like to see the Giants win the games they should win. They lost games they could, and at least in the case of the Arizona Cardinals, should have won against Arizona, the Buffalo Bills and the Detroit Lions. .

Shurmur knows that whatever progress he sees needs to eventually translate into victories. The Giants have games you would really like to see them win against the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins over the final eight games. The Chicago Bears, thought to be a Super Bowl contender, are only 3-5. The Giants play them after the bye week. That might be an opportunity.

Point is, there need to be victories on the field at some point. It’s important for a lot of reasons, including that you don’t want young players conditioned to expect or accept losing.

About tonight

No one on your Big Blue View staff picked the Giants to pull the upset on Monday night, including yours truly. No one using their head instead of their heart should have.

Still, there is a little voice in the back of my head telling me the Giants have a chance for an upset.

Leighton Vander Esch is likely out for Dallas. Giants defenders remember being mocked by the Cowboys in Week 1. Saquon Barkley should be closer to completely healthy, and he’s due for a huge game.

We’ll see what happens, but there are some reasons to think the Giants have a chance here.