On Monday, the Eagles made it official when they announced that they had brought back WR Jordan Matthews. The 27-year-old Matthews was originally drafted by the Eagles in 2014. Matthews spent the first three years of his career in Philadelphia before he was traded to Buffalo back in 2017. After being released by the Patriots, he returned to the Eagles last September and played in 14 games for the team. This season, Matthews played one game for the 49ers before getting released by San Francisco back in October.
With WR DeSean Jackson out for the year, the Eagles are hoping that Matthews can help fill the void left at the wide receiver position.
“Oh shoot, we can just pull up his highlights,” Eagles OC Mike Groh said about Matthews. “The guy has made a lot of plays for the Eagles over the years. He has excellent football intelligence. He knows our system. He has familiarity there. I think there’s great comfort with him in the huddle. There’s rapport and chemistry with he and [QB] Carson [Wentz], which is important, so certainly nice to get him back.”
For most of his career, Matthews has been a slot receiver, but according to Groh, expect Matthews to be moved around.
“I think we’ll move him around,” Groh said. “I think he showed the capability to do both.”
Obviously, Matthews won’t be the savior for this offense. Matthews is solid at best, and there was a reason he was available, but as Groh said, you get a guy who is familiar with Wentz and the offense, which should help.
When you are 2-8, you have suffered a lot of bad losses, but Sunday’s loss against the Jets will probably go down as the worst loss of the season for the New York Giants. Behind Sam Darnold and an opportunistic defense, the Jets(2-7) defeated the Giants(2-8) 34-27 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, in the battle of New York. With the loss, the Giants have now lost six straight games.
The Jets led 14-0 in the first quarter, but the Giants would cut the lead to 14-13 at the break. Eventually, the Giants would take a 27-21 lead in the third quarter. However, the Jets would score the final 13 points of the game to get their second win of the season.
“They should be disappointed. Fans should be disappointed,” Giants quarterback Daniel Jones said after the game. We are, too, but we’re going to do what we can, we’re going to work as hard as we can to improve what’s gone wrong and get back into the win column. Obviously, we have a lot of work to do.”
Jones put up some decent numbers on Sunday. The rookie signal-caller threw for 308 yards and four touchdowns, but he struggled with ball security. Jones had three fumbles(1 lost), including one that was returned for a touchdown by the Jets’ Jamal Adams.
“He plays every game heroically, finds a way to get production,” Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said about Jones. “Like every young player, he has mistakes.”
According Giants WR Golden Tate, who caught four passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, the fans have to be patient with the team.
“The only thing I can ask at this point is just be patient and try to trust the process,” Tate said. “Just know the people inside the building, we’re working, we still believe we can, we’ve just got to go out there and do it.
Jones played well enough for the Giants to win, but the Giants’ defense allowed the Jets’ offense, which had struggled this season, to score 27 points. Losing to the Jets is inexcusable for the Giants, but based on what we have seen out of this team in 2019, we really should not be surprised.
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With the Giants standing at 2-7 and his numbers down from his spectacular rookie season, Saquon Barkley today was asked if the 2019 season has been a disappointment to him.
“Disappointment? No,” the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year said. “What’s to be disappointed about? Obviously, yes, am I upset that we’re 2-7? I don’t think anyone’s happy that we’re 2-7. Am I happy that I hurt my ankle and I missed three and a half games this year? No, I’m not happy about that. But, disappointing? No. I get to come in and play the sport that I love and play for an amazing organization, so I’m not disappointed at all. We’ve just got to find a way to get better, find a way to fight through it, and when we do flip the script, there’s definitely going to be great things ahead I believe.”
Barkley is coming off a game in which he rushed for just 28 yards in 14 carries in the Giants’ Monday night loss to Dallas. But his statistics aren’t at all dire. After nine games last year, he had rushed for 586 yards, averaged 4.5 yards a carry and run for five touchdowns. This year, he’s gained 401 yards, averaged 4.6 yards an attempt and scored twice. As he noted, the difference in the total numbers can be attributed to the time missed after spraining his ankle at Tampa Bay on Sept. 22.
“I’m not disappointed in Saquon,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “I think there’s areas where we all can play better. … He had some really good runs the other night, and then if you asked him, there’s probably some runs out there where he left a little meat on the bone.”
On a per-game basis, Barkley’s statistics are very similar to what they were at this juncture in 2018, when he was averaging 65.1 yards a game. That figure is currently 66.8. And if the victory against the Buccaneers – when he had career-low totals of eight carries and 10 yards before leaving in the first half – is eliminated, Barkley is averaging 78.9 yards an attempt, or almost 14 yards more per game than last year.
But in the two games since he returned from his injury, Barkley rushed for 92 yards on 33 carries, a 2.8-yard average. He refuses to point to his ankle as the reason those numbers aren’t bigger.
“I don’t think it’s holding me back,” he said. “It’s obvious I had an ankle injury, but it would be easy for me to sit here and make an excuse of why this and why that, but that’s not what I’m going to do. I’m just going to find a way to get better, find a way to help the team get better, find a way to be more efficient in the run game and help our team win games.”
The big difference in Barkley’s game is as a receiver. Through nine games last year, he averaged 6.9 catches a game and had 62 total. This season, he’s averaging 4.7 and has totaled 28.
“Just got to be better,” Barkley said. “Even if I ran for 200 yards, I’m always going to say there’s somewhere you could be better, you’ve got to find a way to be better. I could be more efficient in the run, better in the pass game, better all around, better leader. I always can improve. Especially, it’s easier to just pick out the little things when you’re losing, but you’ve still got to be the same way when you’re winning games. Then, it’s easy to pick out the things you need to be better on when you’re having bad games, but even when you’re having great games, you’ve still got to be as hard on yourself the same. So, just be better overall.”
Barkley and the Giants believe he can be that, starting Sunday against the 1-7 Jets. The 10th game last year is when Barkley’s rookie season really began to take off. He rushed for 142 yards and scored three total touchdowns in a victory against Tampa Bay. It was the first of four consecutive 100-yard rushing performances and five in the season’s final seven games.
“Our best game is definitely still out there in the run game,” offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. “And when we get that going, I think it’s going to help everybody else in regard to ball security, pass protection, productivity and points.”
If it does get going as Shurmur and Co. hope, the catalyst will certainly be Barkley.
“I don’t think he’s hit his stride yet,” Shula said. “He’s done a lot of good things, and we know he’s a really good back. I think he’s part of that mix in where we’re just not quite everybody in stride. He’s had some really good runs where there hasn’t been a lot there, and there’s been some other times where I think he would probably say ‘I could do a better job, because the line did a good job, I have to do a better job here, there.’ I think he’s getting there. I think just with more carries, and still he’s young, but with more carries and things like that, he’ll continue to get better.”
Barkley concurs. He’s going to continue to put forth his maximum effort and believe he’ll soon be ripping through defenses as he did during his most productive games in 2018.
“When the running game’s not going well, the way I look at it is don’t panic,” he said. “Whether it’s you’re going through a slump, whether it’s a game you’re going through a slump, whether it’s multiple games, the way I believe in myself and believe in the offensive line that we’re going to get it going, we’re going to figure it out.
“As of right now, I’ve just got to give credit to the defenses we’ve been playing. They’ve been doing a really good job within the run game. But we still haven’t been putting ourselves in positions to win games, and no matter whether the run game is doing great or not doing so great, we’ve still got to figure out how to win games. But to fix the run game, as a leader, and as the running back, I’ve got to take responsibility of that and find a way to do it.”
The losing streak is up to five games for the New York Giants(2-7) after losing to the Cowboys at home on Monday night 37-18. Fortunately for the Giants, they have a chance to snap their losing streak when play the Jets(1-7) in the battle of New York on Sunday.
“Yeah, I can only speak for us, but we want to get this thing back on track,” Giants WR Golden Tate said on Wednesday. “Like I said a lot of the last few weeks, I feel like we do have a good team; we have great personnel. I don’t know if you guys can get a sense for this locker room, but we don’t seem down and depressed.
“I don’t feel like we’ve tanked, despite our record. I think we’re still hungry to win and I think we still feel like we have a shot to do something special. We’ve just got to get it going, and it’s going to start with us.”
When healthy, the Giants have decent personnel, especially on the offensive side of the ball, but the defense has struggled at times and rookie quarterback Daniel Jones has struggled with turnovers, and quite frankly, he has played like a rookie.
No one expected the Giants to be very good this season, and therefore, no one would accuse them of tanking. But, they should beat the Jets on Sunday; however, both teams are struggling, so this game could go either way.
The Minnesota Vikings have signed S Andrew Sendejo, the team announced today. Sendejo rejoins the Vikings after spending the first nine weeks of the season with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he appeared in nine games (one start) and made 26 tackles, two passes defensed, 1.0 sack, two tackles for loss and one interception, according to league stats.
The San Antonio, Texas, native had previously spent eight seasons (2011-2018) in Minnesota, appearing in 93 games with 58 starts and totaling 341 tackles, 1.0 sack, six interceptions, and 17 passes defensed. The former Rice Owl originally entered the NFL in 2010 as an undrafted free agent with Dallas, appearing in two games for the Cowboys that season.
To make room for Sendejo, Minnesota waived S Marcus Epps.
The Giants this week will participate in a rivalry game vastly different from the one they just played, but the objective remains the same: improving their performance.
Last night, a one-point game entering the fourth quarter morphed into a 37-18 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants’ fifth consecutive defeat left them at 2-7, including 1-2 against NFC East foes. Dallas swept the season series for the third year in a row.
The Giants have one more game prior to their bye. On Sunday, they will be the visitors in MetLife Stadium when they take on the 1-7 Jets. Although this is a regular-season rivalry that is contested quadrennially, emotions will be high on the field, where two struggling teams will be fighting for a victory, and in the stands, where both sides will be well-represented.
“I haven’t played in this (rivalry) obviously, but I’m well aware that there are a lot of Giants fans and Jets fans that it’s going to be a very competitive weekend from that standpoint,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said on a conference call today. “I’m aware of all that, but we have to do the things to beat the Jets. We have to play better than we did last night. That game was within one score for a great deal of the time, and we were ahead at the beginning of it (taking a 12-3 lead in the second quarter). It got away from us. So, we need to do the things that we have to do to win the game and not let it get away from us. That really doesn’t matter who you’re playing. But I’m certainly aware of the fact that for this region, and for New York and New Jersey and the fans and everybody involved, this is going to be a big deal.”
The Giants can target several areas for improvement during their short work week. Saquon Barkley ran for only 28 yards and averaged 2.0 yards a carry. Daniel Jones threw an interception and lost two fumbles, giveaways that led to 13 Dallas points. Jones was sacked five times and absorbed numerous other hits. The offense scored just one touchdown on five trips inside the Cowboys’ 20-yard line, forcing Aldrick Rosas to kick four field goals of less than 30 yards. The Giants had 16 opportunities to convert on third down and succeeded just five times.
“We’ve got to bounce back,” said wide receiver Golden Tate, whose spectacular one-handed catch set up the Giants’ only touchdown, a one-yard pass from Jones to Cody Latimer. “We’ve got to understand the situational football. We have to be much, much, much better being efficient on third down, penalties. You know when we get in the red zone, we have to get points, especially against an offense like (Dallas’). They have some big-time players.”
The Giants’ defense surrendered 139 rushing yards to Ezekiel Elliott, who averaged 6.0 yards a carry. Dak Prescott threw an interception on the game’s first play, but thereafter completed 22 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns. The Giants committed eight penalties for 71 yards. Dallas converted just four of 11 third-down opportunities, but three of them were in the decisive fourth quarter, including a backbreaking 45-yard touchdown pass to Amari Copper on third-and-12 that pushed its lead to 12 points with 7:56 remaining.
“You definitely can’t let them in the end zone in that situation with the time that was left,” safety Jabrill Peppers said. “You have to get off the field and we had ample opportunities to get off the field.
“As I say every week, you just have to clean up on the little things, you have to execute as a whole team, play complementary football at the end of the day.”
Shurmur hinted there will be no lineup changes. If the Giants are going to reverse course, it will be with the lineup they’ve been fielding.
“I think we play the best players,” Shurmur said. “It just so happens that on our roster, some of our best players are young players, and that’s the reality of it. We put the guys on the field that give us the best chance to win, and they’ve got to play well. If for some reason they’re making mistakes, then we’ve got to clean that up. And the same can be said for us as coaches, we’ve got to clean up the things that keep us from winning games.”
Sunday would be a good time to start.
*There will be at least one change on the roster. The Giants today activated cornerback Sam Beal off injured reserve and he will make his NFL debut Sunday against the Jets. Beal, a third-round selection in the 2018 supplemental draft, missed all of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery and was sidelined this year with a hamstring injury.
To create room for Beal, the Giants waived second-year safety Sean Chandler.
The former Temple star played in all 25 games after making the roster last season as a rookie free agent. But he has played just 26 snaps on defense this season, none in the last two games. He has one special teams tackle.
The Giants also terminated punter Sean Smith from the practice squad.
*After missing two games while in the NFL concussion protocol, rookie Corey Ballentine returned to take over as the slot corner for second-year pro Grant Haley. Ballentine had four tackles (three solo) and knocked away a pass.
“Corey was back healthy, we felt like we wanted to change it up and give him an opportunity,” Shurmur said. “He had worked both outside and inside, he had been dealing with some injuries certainly. Obviously, you all weren’t aware of the week of preparation, but I thought he went out there and battled. He did some good things last night and we just wanted to give him an opportunity. We like where he’s come, and we felt like he did some good things last night.”
*Shurmur said tight end Evan Engram “has a little bit of a sore foot. I don’t have any details on that, we’ll just have to see as the week goes on and how he’ll do.”
*Shurmur is uncertain about the immediate future of wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who returned to the concussion protocol on Sunday after telling the team’s medical staff he didn’t feel well Saturday night. Shepard has missed the last four games, and Saturday he said he expected to play against Dallas.
“This is a serious injury, and in my mind, it requires a serious response,” Shurmur said. “We want to make sure he’s well before he goes back out there.
“I think we have to use good judgement and we need to be very deliberate about guys coming back from injuries such as this. There are signs and there are things, as they go through coming back from concussions, they certainly go through the protocol, but there’s also the activity and how they respond to it and all of that. At some point, we just have to use our gut. … I think as a coach, because there is a certain amount of activity that has to take place, this time of year it’s obviously practice, you watch him. That’s why you watch them practice, you see how they respond to it after and how they handle it the next day. As he went through that process, he wasn’t feeling well, so we made a decision. I just think we have to be smart and be very observant in these situations and try to make good decisions. Player safety is certainly on the front burner for us.”