The Giants’ season may feel like it’s over already to everyone outside of their locker room, but there is a major mental difference between a win and a loss for these hopeful players Sunday.
A win over the visiting Seattle Seahawks would send the Giants into their Week 8 bye at 2 5 on a two game winning streak, with confidence that consecutive wins over two of the NFL’s top defenses could be the start of something historic.
A loss, on the other hand, would kick off another two weeks of Suck for Sam speculation surrounding a 1 6 team that began the season with Super Bowl aspirations but incredibly will have a better chance of drafting a QB such as USC’s Sam Darnold with a top five pick in April.
So here are the Giants’ five keys to coming out of Sunday with a win and keeping their next to none playoff hopes on life support
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1. STICK WITH MIKE SULLIVAN AS PLAY CALLER
Sullivan, the Giants’ offensive coordinator, entered the NFL as Tom Coughlin’s defensive quality control coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2002. Then Coughlin brought Sullivan to New York, where he coached wide receivers for six seasons 2004 09 and Eli Manning for two 2010 11 as quarterbacks coach, winning two Super Bowls.
“Mike is an excellent football coach,” Coughlin told the Daily News via email on Thursday from his new perch as Jaguars executive VP of football operations. “He has tremendous work ethic, he’s very intelligent, and is very good with the players. He’s respectful of the game, and as a West Point graduate, you know what you’re getting. Mike is a good person and a terrific family man. He’s a very good man.”
Mike Sullivan. SETH WENIG/AP
He’s also very good at executing a game plan and sticking to the run, as last week showed when Ben McAdoo finally surrendered play calling duties and Sullivan’s offense helped dictate the tempo of a 23 10 win at Mile High in Denver.
To keep this in perspective, Sullivan’s offense didn’t exactly light it up. They scored 16 points https://www.seahawksseastore.com/austin-davis-jersey-c-4.html, including just one touchdown, so he still has more to prove. But keep in mind how so many injuries to the offense are affecting how the Giants can safely and effectively move the ball.
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Sullivan has led a dynamic offense before. In his first of two seasons as Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator in 2012, he teamed with QB Josh Freeman and RB Doug Martin to set franchise records with 5,820 yards and 389 points. So who knows, his fresh perspective could continue to steer the Giants offense toward its strengths and another win.
2. DON’T LET RUSSELL WILSON RUN
Seattle QB Russell Wilson will Richard Sherman Jersey do more damage through the air than Denver’s Trevor Siemian did last week, but a Giants secondary with renewed swagger and Dominique Rodgers Cromartie back from suspension should be able to contain the Seahawks’ aerial attack on normal drop backs.
The bigger issue could be Wilson’s mobility and elusiveness that extends plays and turns sacks into huge gains, whether it’s Wilson taking off or scrambling to make a big throw.
Orleans Darkwa has capitlized on every opportunity Big Blue has given him this season.
Orleans Darkwa has capitlized on every opportunity Big Blue has given him this season. DUSTIN BRADFORD/GETTY IMAGES
“He’s like Houdini,” free safety Darian Thompson said Thursday. “You might think he’s down. If you don’t hear the whistle blow, you have to continue to cover because at that point, the receivers will change their routes and they know how to get open.”
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3. KEEP FEEDING ORLEANS DARKWA
Darkwa has produced every time the Giants have given him opportunities, which didn’t happen often enough until last Sunday in Denver, when Darkwa took 21 carries for 117 yards and one of the game balls for the Giants’ first win of the year.
He now has led the Giants in rushing in two straight games, including 69 yards and a touchdown on eight carries in a Week 5 loss to the Chargers before coach Ben McAdoo limited him in the second half of the game due to early cramps.
Rookie Wayne Gallman continues to run hard, but with Paul Perkins ribs likely to miss a third straight game and the Giants’ offense undoubtedly staying conservative in their game plan with so many receivers out, Darkwa deserves another heavy workload.
“I feel Darkwa is a very natural runner, and he’s been taking advantage of his opportunities this year,” McAdoo said.
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Sterling Shepard. SETH WENIG/AP
The Giants’ offensive line, of course, needs a second straight strong effort, as well.
4. STOP THE TIGHT ENDS ALREADY
Tight ends have lit up the Giants defense for 36 catches, 425 yards and a stunning seven touchdowns through six weeks, good for an average of six catches, 70.8 yards and 1.16 TDs for opposing TEs each week. That also includes at least one TD by an opposing TE in every game, and now the Giants must contend with one of the best tight ends in the NFL, Seattle’s Jimmy Graham 21 catches, 179 yards , 1 TD . The onus therefore is on the Giant safeties and linebackers to patrol the middle of the field and also to bat down any jump balls headed toward the 6 foot 7 Graham https://www.seahawksseastore.com/blair-walsh-jersey-c-5.html, who will line up out wide, as well.
5. HIGHLIGHT SHEPARD BUT DON’T ABANDON 12 PERSONNEL
Getting WR Sterling Shepard back healthy probably will tempt Ben McAdoo to go back to more three wide receiver sets, but the coach shouldn’t do it and maybe keeping Sullivan as play caller will assure McAdoo does not.
The Giants run the ball better with two tight ends on the field, in strong blocker Rhett Ellison and dynamic rookie Evan Engram, and the formation also has kept defenses off balance against a Giants offense that, with three wide receivers, previously had been predictable and ineffective. Plus the Seahawks’ secondary is arguably their greatest strength, led by Richard Sherman https://www.seahawksseastore.com/russell-wilson-jersey-c-3.html, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas.
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Shepard looked quick in practice this week and is definitely a player the Giants want with the ball in his hands. But while he usually plays the slot, McAdoo should not hesitate to split him out wide opposite Roger Lewis Jr. or Tavarres King while sticking to the two TE alignment.
Winning battles at the line with the physical Seahawks ultimately will define the result.