The Giants today returned to work after their bye with the same goal they had when they departed – find a way to win a game and end their season on a successful run.
“I think it’s important that we get a win as quickly as possible,” defensive tackle Leonard Williams said. “As important as it is to get a win as quickly as possible, I think it’s important to stack a win as well, like getting two wins back-to-back would be really important and it would be good for the team’s morale and going forward for the rest of the season.”
They can take a first positive step on Sunday, when they face the Bears in Chicago. The Giants haven’t won since beating Washington on Sept. 29 and will carry a six-game losing streak into Soldier Field.
At 2-8, is it best for the Giants to treat the post-bye portion of their schedule as a new season?
“I’ve never been in this situation, so I don’t really know how to answer your question,” said 10-year veteran wide receiver Golden Tate. “But I can just imagine that at the end of the day we all have a job to do. No matter what the circumstances are, we’re supposed to show up to work and be professionals in what we do, and I can’t imagine doing it any other way beside giving it my all and just go 1-0 each week. Besides that, although the record isn’t what we want, there are still jobs that are on the line. I’m going to try to set myself up for next year and the year after that. Just continue to show up to work with a positive attitude. I’m excited to play football and see what happens.”
When a team struggles as the Giants have, the bye provides little respite for some. The players can’t or don’t completely shut off football, because they remain focused on finding a way to win.
“Even when I was back home, I was still studying,” said linebacker Markus Golden, who leads the team with 6.5 sacks. “I was on the plane, I couldn’t even sleep because I was watching film the whole way. When a team isn’t doing too good and you go on the bye week, it’s kind of like, ‘Ah, I want to get back real quick so we can try to fix it.’ But at the same time, you have to have that space and get away a little bit, get with your family. Then come back and be able to rejuvenate and get out there and finish the season strong.”
Although the bye might seem like a sensible time to make extensive personnel or strategic adjustments, coach Pat Shurmur dismissed the feasibility of that notion.
“Let’s think about it for a minute,” Shurmur said. “What does a bye week entail? You come back from your previous game, you clean that up, you have a couple days of practice and then the league mandates that they’re off for four or five days. Then you get ready for your next opponent. The important thing is to go back and look at the things and try to clean up the things that you’re not doing well and keep building on the things that you’re good at. I guess my point is there’s not as much time as everybody thinks to make these wholesale changes that sometimes people think may happen.”
Shurmur was asked for specific areas in which he would like to see the Giants improve.
“Along the way, you’re playing good football and all of a sudden, you give up a third down,” he said. “Or you’re playing good football and you give up a big play. Or all of a sudden, you’re moving the ball and somebody misses a block and you have a sack fumble. Those are the kinds of things you have to clean up. That’s just doing the same, being consistently good throughout. I think those are the things that when you look back on it, you say, ‘Okay, this is the handful of things that created a bad situation for us.’ Then you do what you can to eliminate those.”
That process continued today and the Giants are hopeful it will produce a winning result on Sunday.
*Tight end Evan Engram, who was inactive last week against the Jets with a foot injury, no longer wears a walking boot and believes he has a chance to play against the Bears.
“It’s definitely possible, I feel good,” Engram said. “We’ll see where we’re at (in the) middle to the end of this week. I’m staying locked in in meetings, game plans and stuff like that, that’s very important as well. I think as long as I stay prepared mentally and continue to do what I do with my foot, I could be ready to go.
“I’m feeling really good, progress is going along really well. The trainers are doing a really good job, it’s definitely on the upward trend of getting back soon.”
*Two offensive linemen who did not play vs. the Jets – center Jon Halapio (hamstring) and right tackle Mike Remmers (back) — returned to practice today. Left tackle Nate Solder, who left the Jets game with a concussion, was excused for personal reasons.
*Wide receiver Sterling Shepard practiced fully and cornerback Janoris Jenkins wore a no-contact yellow vest. Both players are in the NFL concussion protocol.
“They’re still going through it, so we’ll see what the week brings,” Shurmur said. “But we’re encouraged that they’ll make it through.”
*Tight end Rhett Ellison, who is also in the protocol, did individual drills.
*Rookie tackle George Asafo-Adjei, who suffered a concussion in training camp and has been on injured reserve all season, returned to the team.
“It’s his first day back,” Shurmur said. “He’s making good progress, but we’ll just have to see. Put him through the paces here and see how he does.”