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Giants notebook: Playoffs, Taylor vs. DeVito, Wink Martindale, more

Giants are back to work after their bye, and clinging to their faint playoff hopes

New York Giants v Washington Commanders
Darius Slayton
Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Several New York Giants players discussed the season’s final five games as the team returned from it’s bye week on Monday. Here are some of the takeaways.

Playoffs? Seriously?

The Giants, per most prognostications, have roughly a 1% chance of reaching the playoffs. They have to win out over their final five games to legitimately have a chance. Considering that they are facing the hot Green Bay Packers on Monday and have two games left with the 10-2 Philadelphia Eagles that seems highly unlikely.

Still, because they can and maybe because they need to in a season gone wrong, Giants players are clinging to the notion that they are still playing meaningful December games.

“Everything that we want to accomplish is still out there possible for us,” said wide receiver Darius Slayton. “We just have to do a good job of taking it one week at a time, one game at a time, one opponent at a time and if we’re able to keep stacking wins we’ll end up where we want to be.”

Linebacker Bobby Okereke sounded the same theme.

“When you look at the parity in this league we’re two games out of the playoff hunt,” he said. “Obviously where we are, what the playoff picture’s looking like and how close all these teams and games are in the NFL there’s a lot of opportunity ahead of us.”

“Football starts after Thanksgiving,” said left tackle Andrew Thomas. “We’ve got a lot of NFC opponents. You never know what could happen.

“I think, as a team, you control your own destiny. As long as you go out there and do the things that it takes to win so we’re just focused on getting one win at a time.”

Players play because they can

I have been asked a number of times why Thomas continued to play Week 1 when he knew he had injured his hamstring, and why he had been in the lineup in recent games despite a knee injury that left him at less than his best.

So, given the opportunity during Monday’s Zoom call, I put the question to Thomas. Why does he push himself to play despite how the season has gone?

“You only get 17 guaranteed opportunities every year so if I have the opportunity to play, I’m going to take advantage of that,” Thomas said. “You never know what can happen. The average career is three-and-a-half years. Any time I get the opportunity to play, I’m going to do it. Regardless if we’re 17-0 or we haven’t won a game at all, that’s just the mindset. A lot of guys on the team have that mindset as well.”

Campaigning for Wink

Considering the continued speculation about friction between head coach Brian Daboll and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, it was noteworthy that two veteran Giants defensive players — cornerback Adoree’ Jackson and linebacker Bobby Okereke — basically stumped for Martindale on Monday.

Jackson said it is “exciting” to be a defensive back in Martindale’s aggressive system.

“I want to call his defense an opportunity. It’s the fact that you know what you’re getting, you know what you’re going to have. Everybody knows we pressure; everybody knows that we play man, whatever it may be,” Jackson said. “For us, the opportunity comes from, since they know and you know, alright, now it’s time for you to study and see the areas when you are in those type of defenses where you can make plays and where you can execute that.

“So, I just look at being in his defense as an opportunity not just for you, but your teammates as well. Let’s say you do something well, then that gives your teammates an opportunity to do something. It all goes together. The rush, with the coverage, or how the linebackers play going in there and stopping the run and it helps us in the back end in being able to—as you see, getting a bunch of picks because the up-front seven is causing a lot of pressure. So, just an opportunity defense, and that’s how I would describe it.”

Okereke, who signed a big free agent contract with the Giants in the offseason, said Martindale has helped him grow as a player.

Okereke said “it’s a lot of fun” playing for Martindale.

“Wink does a good job of handing me the keys and letting me lead and letting me lead through my leadership, letting me lead through my play,” he said. “I kind of work side by side with him whether it’s during the week or even in games, whether it’s what calls we’re seeing, what scheme the offense is running, what our checks and balances to that can be.

“It’s been a lot of fun and I think Wink’s done a really good job promoting my growth.”

The QB question

Slayton said that “of course” there are differences between veteran Tyrod Taylor and undrafted rookie free agent Tommy DeVito in the huddle and on the field.

“Tyrod’s been in the league for 12 years, something like that. DeVito’s a rookie,” Slayton said. “There’s a lot of things that Tyrod knows about the game and moreso the way he carries himself. Everybody kind of has to learn how to carry themselves, how you fit into a team as you grow in this league. As a rookie especially the quarterback, a leadership position, you have to find your way. I feel like DeVito’s done a good job of finding his way quickly, but obviously it’s impossible to close a gap of 12 years.”

Does that sound like an endorsement of Taylor returning to the starting lineup? Slayton ran from that idea like he was being chased by a defensive back.

“I think DeVito’s done and obviously Tyrod’s a professional, that’s why he’s been in this league so long. Glad to have both on our team,” Slayton said.

Thomas also gave the politically correct answer.

“Obviously, Tyrod, the veteran presence. He’s been in the league I think it’s 13 years. DeVito brings in energy, juice. He’s still learning the game and that works out for him,” Thomas said. “So they’re different guys, but we trust both of those guys. Whatever the coaches decide, that’s what we’ll go with and we’re going to protect the same and we’re going to block the same regardless of who’s back there.”