A is for ... Again: Washington is the first team the Giants are facing for a second time this season. They are also the only team the 1-7 Giants have beaten. Can they do it again?
B is for ... Bostic: I still can’t believe Washington linebacker Jon Bostic got fined only $12K, roughly the cost of a parking ticket for an NFL player, after nearly separating Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton from his head a couple of weeks ago.
C is for ... Choo-choo: The Giants, bowing to safety precautions necessitated by COVID-19, are taking a three-hour train ride to Maryland for Sunday’s game against Washington.
D is for ... Dissertation: Joe Judge gave one this week when asked by a Washington writer how special teams can help players grow into larger roles. Settle in, it’s going to take a bit to get to ‘E’ in our ABCs.
“I think the kicking game is a key part in getting guys involved. We’ve had experiences with our own guys this year. Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin are two young guys that have made a lot of contributions in the kicking game for us, have quickly transitioned to start building on a defensive role, and they’re kind of getting more and more every week with it.
“If you want to refer back to the past with different players I’ve been around that have been able to come in as kicking game core players and develop offensive or defensive impact roles, two that come to mind, number one is Julian Edelman. Jules, when I got in the league, he was primarily a punt returner. He was a situational offensive player, he covered kicks for us, he was our backup personal protector, did a lot of things. Then in 2013, he really kind of took off and had a breakout year. He’s definitely a guy who kind of came in, he played some offense, he played some defense, contributed in all phases of the kicking game, and his career over time took off.
“The other guy that I’ve had experience with in my career is Rob Ninkovich. Rob actually started his career as a long snapper, going through New Orleans and then Miami, or vice versa on the two. But he ended up in New England and began as a core player in that role, quickly began to escalate with just what he showed on the field defensively.
“A lot of times, it’s you’re at the game anyway. What’s your worth and value to the team at the time where you can make an impact role? It’s covering kicks, it’s playing the return game. OK, well you’re one of a limited number of people at the game, you have to have some kind of value as a backup. Once you demonstrate value offensive or defensively as a backup, you earn more reps. That kind of leads to the overall development of a player. To me, I’ve had experience with a number of players. Those two come to mind immediately, one offensively and one defensively who have had good, long, productive careers. But on top of that, I just think the kicking game in terms of not only having impact within field position and the flow of the game itself, the development of the players and working to build them up and get them acclimated to the speed of the game, the physicality of the game, and also the multiples when they happen within a game situationally is key for really the development of all the players on the roster.”
E is for ... Everybody: The NFL isn’t a youth league, where everybody on a team gets into the games. With rotations at positions all across the roster, though, the Giants seem determined to find roles for as many players as possible each week. That’s part of Joe Judge’s plan to develop the young, inexperienced players on the team.
F is for ... First time: It’s funny the innocent things you find out sometimes when talking to players. Like this week when Giants cornerback James Bradberry was asked about taking a train to this weekend’s game, and we found out this will be his first train ride.
“I’m kind of excited for it,” Bradberry said. “I don’t think it’ll be too different. Well of course it’ll be different as far as physically being in the air versus on the ground. But I’m probably just going to go to sleep on the train.”
G is for ... Graham: There were some raised eyebrows when the Miami Dolphins let Patrick Graham leave his job as their defensive coordinator for the same job with the Giants. If they were willing to let him leave so easily, he couldn’t be very good at the job, right? Well, wrong. Graham has been terrific with the Giants this season. He has been creative. He has been flexible. He has gotten more than could have been expected from a defense that lacks true play makers.
H is for ... Haskins: If you’re disappointed with Daniel Jones, remember that it could be worse. The Giants could have drafted Dwayne Haskins, who is now third-string in Washington and could have been had at the trade deadline for a bucket of footballs if anyone had actually wanted him.
I is for ... Interceptions: If Daniel Jones wants to be the Giants’ quarterback for more than just the next eight games, he needs to stop throwing foolish ones that cost his team chances to win games.
Jones knows he needs to do a better job of simply accepting that sometimes the best play is just making sure you safely get to the next one.
“I need to do a better job understanding when the play is over, when it’s not there and when the best outcome is to throw it away or in some cases to take a sack ... All of us want to make plays and we want to do the right thing. We want to put our team in a position to win. But on those split moment decisions, you have to be able to understand the bigger picture and how each of those plays factor into the game overall. Like I said, the best decision on that play is sometimes to get rid of the ball or minimize the risk of a bad play.”
J is for ... Justin: Assistant athletic trainer Justin Maher is the Giants’ staff member who insisted Logan Ryan make sure his wife went to the hospital when the complained of stomach pains during the week. Ashley Ryan ended up undergoing surgery for an ectopic pregnancy, which could have killed her if undiagnosed. “Kudos” to Maher.
K is for ... Kerrigan: Ryan Kerrigan is in his 10th season with the Washington Football Team. He’s 32, can be a free agent at the end of the season, and you wonder if his time in Washington — and maybe his career — are coming to an end. A four-time Pro Bowler, Kerrigan has accumulated 12.5 of his 94 career sacks vs. the Giants.
L is for ... Logan: He was still a struggling, not very good quarterback when Logan Thomas was on and off the Giants’ practice squad roughly 600 times in 2016. Late that season he landed with the Buffalo Bills and finally committed to a switch to tight end. Four seasons later, Thomas is a 6-foot-6, 250-pound beast of a tight end who has 21 catches for Washington.
M is for ... Maryland: Like the Giants, a New York team that plays in New Jersey, the Washington Football Team does not play in the District of Columbia. FedEx Field is in Landover, Md. Nobody cares, but that’s only a few miles from where I used to live in Lanham, Md. when I attended the University of Maryland.
N is for ... No: That was Joe Judge’s one-word answer to a question about whether he had considered benching Daniel Jones — even just for one game. It is, in my view, absolutely the correct answer. There is no point in benching Jones for Colt McCoy. Only playing will help Jones work through his turnover issues, and only having him on the field will give the franchise the information it needs about the player they hope is their long-term quarterback.
O is for ... Order: As we head to the second half of the season, let’s briefly talk draft order. Right, the 1-7 Giants would have the No. 2 overall pick. There are, though, 11 teams with two or fewer victories and 14 teams with three or fewer. The Giants could end up anywhere in there.
P is for ... Pettis: I thought the Giants’ waiver claim of wide receiver/punt returner Dante Pettis was an excellent move. A 2018 second-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers, things never worked out for Pettis with the 49ers. He doesn’t even have a catch this season. That’s concerning, given how good an offensive coach Kyle Shanahan in. Still, Pettis is just 25 and was a big-time play-maker in college at Washington (24 receiving touchdowns, a record 9 punt return touchdowns). Considering the Giants’ need for young play-making talent at wide receiver giving Pettis a six-game audition carries no risk, but there is a potential reward.
Q is for ... Quiet: The Giants were quiet at the trade deadline. Joe Judge explained why:
“We felt good about where we are,” Judge said. “There are some foundational pieces that we’re definitely looking to build with in this program. We’re happy with the way our players are working right now. We’re happy with the progress they’re making. This was a position right here that we want to keep building with this team right there. We want to keep building with the guys we have. We have a lot of confidence in the guys we have, and their hard work is paying off.”
R is for ... Rotation: The Giants have been using a rotation at offensive tackle, with rookie Matt Peart getting at least a handful of snaps in the last six games in place of either Cam Fleming or Andrew Thomas. Judge is promising that once Will Hernandez returns from the Reserve/COVID-19 list the Giants will implement a similar rotation with Hernandez, Kevin Zeitler and rookie Shane Lemieux. That is certainly a unique way to construct an offensive line.
S is for ... Slayton: Figure out for yourself if you think Darius Slayton is a No. 1 wide receiver. All I know is he is a really, really good football player and the best Day 3 draft pick (Round 5) the Giants have come across in a really long time.
T is for ... Thomas: Andrew Thomas has had a difficult rookie season, but his play has been trending up over the past few weeks. Let’s see if that continues Sunday against a talented group of Washington pass rushers.
U is for ... Unhappy: Golden Tate is apparently unhappy with not getting the ball enough. The reaction from Tate and his wife during and after Monday’s game has made Joe Judge unhappy. If he wants a fight with his coach, Tate is not going to win it. That has been made clear this week as Tate, who may have been trying to force his way into a trade, did not get that, was kept out of practice on Wednesday, worked with the scout team Thursday and Friday and may not dress on Sunday.
V is for ... Victory: The Giants have only one at the halfway point of the season. They need more to help validate Judge’s claim that the team is continuing to improve. Without some victories over the second half of the season, the idea that the team is making progress is going to be a hard sell.
W is for ... Win Streak: The Giants have a four-game win streak against Washington. I don’t even want to think about how ugly things will be in the fan base Sunday night and Monday morning if the Giants don’t make that five on Sunday afternoon.
X is for ... X-Man: Oshane Ximines (shoulder) is eligible to come off injured reserve, but not yet healthy enough to do so.
“He’s making a lot of progress. We’re hoping to see him sooner than later. It won’t be this week for him right now,” Judge said. “I think the biggest balance with those guys is balancing with the trainers at what point can we put him out there and know he can properly defend himself and execute aggressively. He’s been working with the trainers very hard. He’s been getting some work in the weight room done and those have been positives. We’ve got Washington and Philly and a bye week coming up. Somewhere in that window hopefully we get him back.”
Y is for ... Yiadom: Isaac Yiadom started two games at cornerback for the Giants, lost his job to Ryan Lewis, and has now reclaimed it with Lewis on IR. Yiadom was solid against the Buccaneers on Monday.
Z is for ... Zeitler: Kevin Zeitler is a good player and the Giants are better with him than without him. Still, I’m a little bit surprised the veteran guard did not get moved at the trade deadline.