New York Giants: john conner

Observation Deck: New York Giants

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Five preseason games weren't enough for Eli Manning and the New York Giants' passing game to show anything, and they will go into the regular season still wondering about the state of their offense.

Manning was 1-for-4 in two series in Thursday's 16-13 victory over the Patriots. The Giants finished the preseason 5-0, but Manning finished the preseason 20-for-41 for 188 yards and one touchdown across the five games. The Giants have looked all right at times running the ball this summer, but overall the passing game has looked well out of sync and the new Ben McAdoo offense continues to look like a work in progress.

Here are some other thoughts on the Giants' final preseason game of the year:
  • This game was wide receiver Mario Manningham's last chance to show he belonged on the roster after a disappointing preseason. Unfortunately for Manningham, he played only four plays before injuring his calf muscle. It's hard to imagine him and his creaky legs on the final roster.
  • Henry Hynoski, however, was looking like a good bet to win the fullback job. But he had to leave Thursday's game with a shoulder injury. It's unclear how serious it is at this point, but Hynoski missed the bulk of the 2013 season with a shoulder injury, so it's a legitimate concern. John Conner would be his replacement.
  • Preston Parker looks to be in line for one of those wide receiver spots with Manningham likely out of the picture and Marcus Harris already on injured reserve. Parker is helped by his ability as a return man, especially with Odell Beckham Jr. and Trindon Holliday out with hamstring injuries. Parker was the primary punt returner Thursday and even lined up to return a couple of kickoffs. It didn't help him, though, that he muffed a punt in the fourth quarter.
  • Weston Richburg and John Jerry started at left guard and right guard, respectively, in place of the injured Geoff Schwartz and Brandon Mosley. Both played deep into the second half, long after the starting tackles and center J.D. Walton left the game. It's possible both will have to start the regular-season opener Sept. 8 in Detroit.
  • Early-game defensive standouts included Jason Pierre-Paul, who batted down Jimmy Garoppolo's pass intended for new tight end Tim Wright on the game's first play, Stevie Brown, who tackled running back James White behind the line of scrimmage, and Zack Bowman, who would have had two interceptions if the first hadn't been called back for an illegal contact penalty.
  • Tight end Adrien Robinson fumbled a ball away after a 17-yard reception at the end of the third quarter, underlining the troubling fact that neither he nor anyone else has separated himself from the uninspiring pack at tight end. Kellen Davis started the game Thursday, and Daniel Fells and Larry Donnell each had his moments, but the Giants are going to have to rotate these guys.
Each day this week, and then in the week of July 14, we're taking a position-by-position look at the New York Giants' roster in advance of training camp. Today we look at the running backs group.

Starter: Rashad Jennings

Backup candidates: David Wilson, Peyton Hillis, Andre Williams, Michael Cox, Kendall Gaskins

*Fullback candidates: Henry Hynoski, John Conner

Starting with the halfbacks, Jennings was signed to be the workhorse back and is likely to lead the team in carries if everyone stays healthy. They like him as a between-the-tackles runner and as a receiver out of the backfield, and they will work with him in camp to make sure he can handle the necessary protection responsibilities to play on third downs.

But the wild card is Wilson, the 2012 first-round pick who's coming off neck surgery. Wilson still hasn't been cleared for contact, and while he hopes to receive his clearance July 21, it's no sure thing until it happens. If Wilson can play, he has a chance to become a major factor and challenge Jennings for carries and catches. The Giants believe Wilson offers a home-run threat from the running back position, and if he's healthy they will find a way to get that into their lineup.

Hillis, the veteran, impressed the Giants in a short trial last year as a pass-blocker and a receiver. But at this point in his career, he's a backup who could be beaten out for his roster spot. Williams, the rookie, is a fourth-round pick who led the NCAA in rushing yardage last year at Boston College. He's a work in progress but will get a chance to develop in the new offense as a between-tackles runner. Cox, the 2013 seventh-round pick, was able to stick last year because the Giants needed him on kick returns. This year, he'll have to make the team as a running back, and a healthy Wilson could make that tough. Same with Gaskins, who got a lot of looks in minicamp with Wilson sidelined but is a guy the coaching staff likes.

*As for fullback, this shapes up as a straight one-on-one competition between Hynoski and Connor, who signed last year when Hynoski got hurt. Tough to handicap it at this point, but if he is healthy Hynoski could have the edge as a player the Giants know better and who's shown an ability to contribute something as a receiver out of the backfield. They like them both as blockers, but Hynoski is a bit better on the rare occasions when the fullback has to have the ball in his hands.
Interesting exercise by Pro Football Focus, ranking all 32 NFL rosters Insider in order. It's an Insider post, so you have to pay to read it, but for our purposes here I can tell you that the New York Giants' roster came in at No. 19 in the NFL and No. 3 in the NFC East, behind the No. 5 overall Eagles and right behind the No. 18 overall Cowboys.

Along with the rankings are color-coded charts that rate each team's starters. Of the 22 starters they project for the Giants, only 10 rated above average and only three -- fullback John Conner, guard Geoff Schwartz and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie -- rated "high quality." None rated in the blue "Elite" category. Hence, this part of the evaluation:
There aren't many glaring holes on the Giants' roster anymore, but their problem is more the absence of real difference-makers. Rashad Jennings showed he was a "capable" runner a year ago in Oakland, but he's little more than that, and the receiving corps now expects Victor Cruz to lead the way rather than complement a true No. 1 receiver.

I think it's fair. There's something of a "who-scares-you?" element to the Giants as currently constructed. The Giants think Jennings can be more than just "capable," but neither they nor we know that for sure yet. Quarterback Eli Manning and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul are players who have performed at elite levels in the past, and if they can elevate their games this year they could certainly improve the color-coded rankings on the high end. But given the way the past two seasons have gone for them, it's impossible to rank them as high-end performers right now without seeing them do it again.

You're welcome to like the Giants' roster better than Pro Football Focus does. They are just one set of opinions, after all. But as we've been discussing here for months, the Giants ended 2013 with a long way to go to build their roster back up to championship-contender level. Even with all of the work they've done to improve this offseason, they still have plenty more they could do.
Relentlessly determined to do nothing exciting whatsoever in the early days of free agency, the New York Giants on Thursday agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract with fullback Henry Hynoski.

Yeah, that's right. The Giants, who do not currently have a No. 1 wide receiver, a tight end or a starting center but do have a fullback, brought back Hynoski after he went to Detroit to visit with the Lions. Your guess is as good as mine what the heck the Giants are up to right now.

This is nothing against Hynoski, who's an excellent blocking fullback and, if fully recovered from his shoulder injury, should compete with John Conner for the fullback spot in training camp.

And it's really nothing against the move, which surely costs nothing, since I'm sure Hynoski could be cut without costing them much more than meal money if Conner beats him out.

I'm just kind of at a loss to explain why a team with so many needs seems to be doing so little to address them, while letting key pieces like Linval Joseph and Justin Tuck walk out the door.

The Giants' offseason plan seems to be based on the idea of getting younger (though letting the 25-year-old Joseph walk kind of kicks against that a bit) and building for the long term. And they have tried and failed to sign a number of players, including Tracy Porter, Jacoby Jones, Ted Ginn Jr. and others. But the way the Giants have operated these first three days is perplexing, and a Hynoski post felt like a decent spot to make that point. Carry on.
So in addition to the 23 unrestricted free agents they have, the New York Giants have four restricted free agents. And in advance of Tuesday's start of the free-agent market, the Giants are taking care of some business with regard to at least three of those four.

Per fitness enthusiast Eb Samuel of the New York Daily News, the Giants have decided to put a right-of-first-refusal tender of $1.431 million on linebacker Spencer Paysinger. This allows the Giants to match any offer Paysinger might get on the open market and establishes what they'll pay him if he doesn't get any. The risk is that they forfeit the right to draft-pick compensation if they lose Paysinger to another team (since they'd be making the choice to do so), but Paysinger isn't likely to draw much interest. This basically allows the Giants to budget for a guy they'd be happy to start at one of their outside linebacker spots but aren't averse to replacing if they find better options.

Earlier in the week, the Giants decided not to tender fullback Henry Hynoski or center Jim Cordle. That doesn't mean those guys are gone; simply that they can be free agents if they so choose. The Giants like fullback John Conner, and would bring back Hynoski to compete with him in camp at a very low price, but they've decided they're OK if Hynoski wants to look elsewhere. Likewise, they don't hate Cordle, but as they work on rebuilding the interior of their offensive line, they recognize him as a replaceable backup piece.

The Giants' other restricted free agent is linebacker Mark Herzlich, who likely isn't a huge priority unless they fail to re-sign Jon Beason and can't find any other options on the market at middle linebacker. We all know the Giants don't spend big on linebacker, so if they fail to sign Beason, it's unlikely they'd spend big to replace him. They might decide to give Herzlich another shot and, if he doesn't work out, find someone during the season the way they got Beason for a seventh-round pick in early October last year. But I think they'll sign Beason and it'll be moot.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- He was not listed on the pre-practice injury report, nor was he mentioned when coach Tom Coughlin ran down the list of players not practicing Wednesday due to injury. But during the portion of New York Giants practice that was open to the media Wednesday, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks was not participating. He was off to the side, riding the exercise bikes with the injured players.

It's unclear what, if anything, would keep Nicks from practicing this week, though he did say he banged knees with Green Bay cornerback Tramon Williams during Sunday's game. Williams was called for pass interference on that play, and Nicks sat out a few plays afterward, including the one on which his replacement, Louis Murphy, ran the wrong route on an interception. But Nicks returned to the game and said after that nothing was wrong.

A fresh injury mystery would be another unwelcome twist in a very disappointing season for Nicks, who's eligible for unrestricted free agency after this season. He has not caught a touchdown pass all year and has seen his productivity decline and stagnate since a promising season opener in Dallas. After the play in question Sunday, he appeared to sit and sulk on the sideline until teammates Brandon Jacobs and Andre Brown went over to pick up his spirits. He, other Giants players and Coughlin have declined to explain what that was about. But obviously, if he's going to start missing practice time now, the questions aren't going to stop.

Also missing practice Wednesday were fullback John Conner and cornerback Trumaine McBride with hip flexors, Jacobs with a knee injury, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul with the same shoulder injury that caused him to miss two practices last week, and cornerback Terrell Thomas, who gets a day every week to rest his surgically repaired knee. Coughlin said cornerback Corey Webster, who has missed almost this whole season so far with groin and ankle problems, might do some individual work Wednesday.

In-season reinforcements a Giant help

October, 22, 2013
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Jon Beason couldn't find playing time with the Carolina Panthers because second-year star Luke Kuechly took his old middle linebacker job and former New York Giants Super Bowl hero Chase Blackburn was outplaying him on the outside. But when the Giants went looking for linebacker help, they found Beason available in a trade, and the two games he's played as their starting middle linebacker have been revelatory.

"He's been a godsend for us," Justin Tuck said of Beason after Monday Night's victory over the Vikings. "Just his passion for the game and his knowledge. There are so many times he sees things before they happen. He's getting guys in the right spots and he's very vocal. That leadership is something we needed."

Beason is one of several in-season additions who have made the Giants better. They are still 1-6 and hopelessly out of the playoff hunt before Halloween, but if what you want as a fan is for your team to work to fix its problems, you don't have any complaints to that effect with the Giants since the season started. Beason, fullback John Conner and running backs Brandon Jacobs and Peyton Hillis are four players who weren't on the team in Week 1 but have contributed to the improvements the Giants have made as the season has progressed. And Tom Coughlin thinks that kind of thing has an inspirational effect on the players they already had.

"Yes, sure it does," Coughlin said Tuesday afternoon. "To be able to, in a short amount of time, complement your team and play well and contribute, it's a huge positive. I think it does breed confidence and it does breed the idea that there is something perhaps we didn't have that we now have."

Conner has been a force as a lead blocker in the run game in place of injured fullback Henry Hynoski. Jacobs rushed for 106 yards in the Week 6 loss to Chicago. Hillis, in his fifth day with the team, caught five passes for 45 yards out of the backfield Monday and rushed for more yards than the Vikings' Adrian Peterson did. But the biggest revelation has been Beason, who has brought life to a position the Giants were flat-out ignoring and taken the reins as a leader in the middle of the defense.

"I told these guys before the game, this isn't a stat week," Beason said. "I don't want any solo tackles. Everybody gets an assist. And when you do it like that, when you swarm and you make it a true team effort with everybody racing to the ball, that's how you stop a guy like Peterson."

No offense to Dan Connor or Mark Herzlich, but they just weren't getting their fellow defenders fired up and organized like this. Beason's play points up how deficient the Giants were at the linebacker position going into the season, but it also offers hope that they can put forth a more representative effort going forward.

Drive of the Game: Flash of competence

October, 22, 2013
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Little bit of slim pickings here on this. Monday night's game was horribly played by both teams, as you've no doubt heard. The "drive" on which the New York Giants took control was a two-play, three-yard job in the third quarter after the Vikings fumbled a punt. So for the Drive of the Game, we go back to the second quarter, with the Giants trailing 7-3 having given up their third punt-return touchdown of the year and still wondering if they'd ever get to win and feel good about themselves again.

With 13:07 left in the first half, the Giants got the ball at their own 18-yard line. Eli Manning hit fullback John Conner for a seven-yard pass to start it. Two plays later, a 12-yarder to Victor Cruz converted a third down (something the Giants hadn't done at all in their first five games but have done better in the last two). Manning hit Cruz again on the next play for 11 to get them near midfield, and a couple of so-so run plays set up a third-and five from the Vikings' 47.

Manning then aired one out to struggling wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who could not come down with the ball but did draw a pass interference penalty against Vikings safety Xavier Rhodes. That moved the ball to the 24-yard line, and on the next play Manning threw it toward Rueben Randle in the corner of the end zone.

Now, Randle was "covered" on the play by Vikings cornerback Chris Cook. And the ball was underthrown, to an extent that would have allowed Cook to intercept it or knock it down if he'd seen it. But Randle saw it first, leaped in the air behind Cook and reached down to pluck the ball out from in front of Cook's face. Great play by Randle, saving Manning from an interception and giving the Giants a 10-7 lead they would never relinquish.

Jacobs out, Cox to make first start

October, 21, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eleven days after rushing for 106 yards in a loss to the Bears, New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs is inactive for Monday night's game against the Vikings due to a hamstring injury. That means rookie Michael Cox, who was the second-to-last pick in this year's draft and has not had a carry yet this season, will be the starting running back for the Giants on Monday. Newly signed veteran Peyton Hillis and fullback John Conner are the only other two active running backs for the Giants, who have lost David Wilson, Andre Brown and Da'Rel Scott to injury so far this season and are 31st in the NFL in rushing yards per game.

In other player-eligibility news, cornerback Corey Webster is active for the first time since Week 2. He's been out with a groin injury, and he may not be all the way healthy yet, as the team lists Trumaine McBride as a starting cornerback and Webster as a reserve for this game. Center David Baas is active for the first time since he injured his neck in a Week 3 loss in Carolina, and he is starting at center.

Jacobs missed practice Saturday with the hamstring injury and couldn't recover in time for the game. Cox, who has contributed on special teams but hasn't yet contributed as a running back, was coming along in practice and apparently has shown enough to earn the coaches' trust as the Giants continue to look for their first victory of the season. It remains to be seen how the carries will break down between him and Hillis, and what the Giants will do with their running backs on third downs and in pass-protection situations. But when they list a guy as the starter, he tends to be the one who gets the most work. (Unless he does something crazy like fumble twice in the season opener against the Cowboys.)

Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, who was active for the last two games, is inactive as he was for the first four games of the season. The Giants are deep with veterans at defensive tackle, and when all of the defensive linemen have been fully healthy this year, Hankins has been the odd man out. He played very well against the Eagles in Week 5, a little bit less well against the Bears in Week 6, and while the Giants like him and wouldn't hesitate to use him, they believe guys like Mike Patterson and Shaun Rogers are better bench options for them at that position at this time.

Also inactive for the Giants besides Jacobs, Wilson and Hankins are quarterback Ryan Nassib, tight end Adrien Robinson, safety Cooper Taylor and cornerback Jayron Hosley. Of those, Nassib (who is the third quarterback and has been inactive for every game) is the only one who has not been dealing with an injury of some sort.
The New York Giants signed veteran running back Peyton Hillis last week for depth. But the way they've been losing running backs this season, it's no surprise that Hillis might find himself in position to play a more significant role in Monday night's game against the Minnesota Vikings than initially thought.

Brandon Jacobs, who ran for 106 yards on 22 carries in the 0-6 Giants' most recent loss nine days ago in Chicago, missed practice Saturday with a hamstring injury and is listed as questionable for the game. The "questionable" designation technically means a 50-50 chance to play, but the fact that Jacobs didn't practice represents a setback. When the Giants held him out of practice on Monday, they said it was a precaution, and their plan was to have him practice for the rest of the week. That plan changed, and now we're left to wonder whether Jacobs will play at all and, if so, how much they can expect from him.

Jacobs
Hillis
Hillis
With starter David Wilson out with a neck injury, Andre Brown ineligible to return from his leg injury until Week 10, Da'Rel Scott released thanks to his own hamstring injury and rookie seventh-round pick Michael Cox likely still not ready to contribute much on offense, it's the new guy, Hillis, who could get the ball on early downs if they don't have Jacobs or if they have to limit him.

The Giants would feel at least some level of comfort with Hillis, even though his first practice with them was a mere three days ago. He is a veteran who's had success in the league, rushing for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns as Cleveland's starter just three years ago. He spent time earlier this season in Tampa Bay, where former Giants assistant Mike Sullivan is the offensive coordinator, so they believe he knows their offense and its terminology. He has the size (6-foot-2, 250 pounds) they look for in their running backs, and he's known to have great hands as a receiver out of the backfield. Tom Coughlin specifically mentioned that he caught the ball well in Tuesday's workout for the team.

Add in John Conner, who looked in Chicago like the kind of blocking fullback the Giants need to run their power running game with regular fullback Henry Hynoski also out for the season (man, they've lost a lot of backs!), and the Giants feel they have a recipe to run the ball effectively with Jacobs, Hillis or some combination of the two. The big questions about Hillis over the past couple of years have been about durability, but when we spoke with him last week, he seemed eager for the opportunity. I imagine he'd be able to tough out at least this first game.

The most important part of a Giants running back's job is pass protection, and the extent to which Hillis showed in practice Thursday, Friday and Saturday that he could handle the protection schemes could determine how many carries he gets. If Jacobs is hurt and they don't trust Hillis to pick up blitzes, they have an issue. Conner could be used in blitz pickup in a case like that, but that's an imperfect solution that would lead to an unbalanced, pass-heavy game plan. I don't think that's a bad way to go against the Minnesota secondary. The Vikings have seven interceptions this year, and only two are by a defensive back. And that defensive back, Harrison Smith, was placed on injured reserve last week. The Giants should be able to throw on the Vikings and would be wise to try it -- assuming, of course, that their protection can hold up.

With Jacobs banged up, newcomer Hillis on Monday night could find himself a bigger part of that -- and of the running game itself -- than anyone could have imagined a week ago.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It's hard to believe Peyton Hillis expected the New York Giants to call. When he was sitting around earlier this year wondering who'd give him his next shot, the veteran running back wasn't thinking about a team that had a 2012 first-round pick, David Wilson, as its starter and a guy it liked in Andre Brown listed as Wilson's co-starter. But Hillis says he makes it a point not to be surprised.

"In my career, I've found that anything can happen," Hillis said. "I'm assuming that here they didn't expect to be 0-6 either."

Hillis
Hillis
They are, of course, and running-back injuries have been one of the major storylines in the Giants' lost season. So they signed Hillis on Wednesday to see if he can help. Brandon Jacobs rushed for 106 yards on 22 carries in last week's loss to Chicago, but they're thin at the position and think Hillis can add depth and maybe even contribute as a starter at some point if not right away.

"He's a bigger back. He caught the ball very well in the workout. He's a veteran football player," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "We know he can handle the first-down and second-down stuff, and hopefully he won't be too hard-pressed to pick up the third-down stuff as well."

Coughlin mentioned that Hillis knew the Giants' offense and its terminology because earlier this year he was in Tampa Bay, where former Giants assistant coach Mike Sullivan is the offensive coordinator. But what he said about the "third-down stuff" is likely code for pass protection, an area in which Giants running backs have struggled significantly this season.

Hillis rushed for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2010 as the lead back for the Cleveland Browns. Injuries hampered him the following year, and he signed with the Chiefs for the 2012 season. He said he believes the Chiefs signed him as insurance for a Jamaal Charles injury that never happened, and that being stuck behind Charles last year and the Buccaneers' Doug Martin earlier this season deprived him of an opportunity to show that he can still play. At age 27, he believes he has that opportunity now with the Giants.

"I think that, as soon as I get the playbook down, they'll let me play," Hillis said. "And I'm really looking forward to it, because I think I can help this team."

In the Week 6 loss to the Bears, the Giants got positive contributions from Jacobs, linebacker Jon Beason and fullback John Conner, each of whom is an in-season addition. Conner's presence as a blocking fullback in place of the injured Henry Hynoski should be a benefit to Hillis, Jacobs or whichever back carries the ball for the Giants on Monday.

QB Watch: Giants' Eli Manning

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
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A weekly analysis of the New York Giants' quarterback play.

Manning
Rewind: In his and his fans' worst nightmares, no one could have imagined Eli Manning would throw interceptions on each of the Giants' first two possessions Thursday night against the Bears in Chicago. But after throwing three in a span of nine fourth-quarter throws four days earlier in a loss to the Eagles, Manning did just that, and the second was returned for a touchdown that put the Giants in an early 7-0 hole. Manning settled down a fair bit after that, aided significantly by Brandon Jacobs, John Conner and the running game, and he finished with 239 yards and a touchdown on 14-of-26 passing. But his third interception of the game (and league-leading 15th of the season) came with the Giants driving for the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter, and sealed their sixth straight loss.

Fast-forward: Manning and the Giants face the Minnesota Vikings on "Monday Night Football" at MetLife Stadium. The Vikings are allowing 308 passing yards per game (only the Eagles and the Broncos allow more) and have just 10 sacks this season (only the Bears, Steelers and Giants have fewer). They have intercepted seven passes in five games, which isn't bad, but if there's a silver lining for Manning, it's that the Vikings haven't pressured quarterbacks consistently.

Chasing history: Manning's 15 interceptions through six games put him on pace for 40, which would challenge the league's single-season record of 42, set by George Blanda in 1962. The closest anyone's come to that figure in the last half-century is the 35 interceptions Vinny Testaverde threw for the 1988 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Prediction: I'm not going to go so far as to predict a Giants win, because that just feels silly at this point. But I do think Manning will throw for 300 yards and two touchdowns and only one interception in this game.

Upon Further Review: Giants Week 6

October, 11, 2013
10/11/13
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CHICAGO -- An examination of four hot issues from the New York Giants' 27-21 loss to the Chicago Bears:

Eli Manning and Rueben Randle: The thing with Randle is weird. Of Manning's 15 interceptions this year, six have come on throws targeted for Randle. Their inability to get in sync was part of the problem on each of the first two interceptions Thursday night. On the second, Randle said he thought Bears cornerback Tim Jennings jumped the route, so he kept running. Manning didn't see that, however, and threw short, where he expected Randle to be. Later in the game, Randle could easily have been called for a fumble after he slammed the ball on the ground after falling down and costing himself a touchdown, but the officials ruled that he'd given himself up. He said he believed he'd been touched down. Randle's still a work in progress in his second year, but there's something about him Manning likes. Only Hakeem Nicks (eight ) saw more targets Thursday than Randle, whose five targets tied him with Victor Cruz for second.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Jacobs
Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY SportsBrandon Jacobs was running like it was 2008, rushing for 106 yards and two scores.
Have they a run game? With leading rusher David Wilson out with a neck injury, little was expected of a Giants rushing attack that came in ranked dead last in the league in yards per game. But Brandon Jacobs delivered his first 100-yard game since Dec. 11, 2011, plowing for big chunks of yardage behind blocking fullback John Conner. Some of the success can be attributed to a Chicago defensive line that's missing several starters. And if Wilson continues to miss time, it's tough to imagine Jacobs repeating or sustaining that level of success at this stage of his career. But at least the Giants have some tape now of themselves running the ball effectively. That's got to help somehow.

Uneasy Eli: Manning's problems look pretty extensive to me. Even on some of his more successful throws, his feet are moving and he's staring down receivers, which he never used to do. It's possible the protection issues have resulted in a really uncomfortable quarterback who's off his game. But he's playing like a guy with whom something is seriously wrong. The interceptions are one thing, but where are those deep, pinpoint sideline bullets he used to throw in big spots? Right now, with Manning, you're just hoping he doesn't do something to cost the team the game.

Sack watch: No sacks. Mathias Kiwanuka was credited with two hits on Jay Cutler, and no one else on the Giants defense was credited with even one. The Giants defense has five sacks this year. Only the Steelers, who have played two fewer games, have fewer sacks (four). The Giants have eight sacks in their past 11 games dating back to last November. Jason Pierre-Paul has one sack in his past 13 games. When the Giants don't get sacks, they do not have a good defense.

Giants' Brandon Jacobs, reborn

October, 11, 2013
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CHICAGO -- Dormant all year, the New York Giants' running game sprang surprisingly to life in Thursday night's 27-21 loss to the Bears. Veteran running back Brandon Jacobs, filling in as the starter for the injured David Wilson, rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. As a team, the Giants had 123 rushing yards in the game, which is 43.3 percent of their league-worst total (284) from their first five games.

Jacobs
With fullback John Conner heavily involved for the first time as a lead blocker, and with the Bears playing with backups in place of injured starters at defensive tackle, Jacobs found room to run the middle of the Chicago defense and took advantage of it.

"I just did what was asked of me," Jacobs said. "I did what they brought me here to do -- go out and play running back for the New York Giants. I felt good out there, even though without a win it doesn't mean anything. But I told the guys before the game started I was going to give them everything I've got on every snap."

Whether or not the performance is repeatable is a complete mystery, of course. The Giants have 10 days off before their next game, a "Monday Night Football" matchup against the Vikings on Oct. 21. Wilson could theoretically be back for that, though it seems unlikely as he's getting his neck looked at by a specialist next week and could have a serious injury that keeps him out for many weeks or even the rest of the season. Running back Da'Rel Scott injured his hamstring late in the game and could be out several weeks as well. So it's likely the Giants will be in the market for a running back of some sort in the coming days. But what Jacobs showed them Thursday, with Conner's help, is that they do have the ability to run the ball -- something the first five games of the season definitely did not reveal.

Rapid Reaction: New York Giants

October, 10, 2013
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CHICAGO -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' 27-21 loss to the Chicago Bears:

What it means: The Giants are 0-6 for the first time since 1976, when they started 0-9. They did, however, do a bunch of things in this game they hadn't yet done in this lost season. They ran the ball well, racking up 123 yards on 26 carries. They converted 7 of 11 third downs, after converting only 16 of 61 in their first five games. They got defensive stops when they needed them. They kept penalties to a minimum. They avoided becoming the first team in league history to allow 30 or more points in their first six games. It was the best the Giants have looked this season by far, and they still couldn't come up with their first win.

Stock Watch: Brandon Jacobs and John Conner, UP. The Giants were averaging a league-worst 56.8 rushing yards per game through their first five games, but they rushed for 56 on Thursday night in the first quarter alone. With David Wilson out with a neck injury, Jacobs was named the starter and had a great deal of success all night running behind the blocking of fullback Conner, who saw his first significant action since signing with the team, and against the backups the Bears were using at defensive tackle.

Playing from behind: This was obviously far from the Giants' worst game of this miserable season, but turnovers did hurt them again as they have all year. Eli Manning threw interceptions on each of the Giants' first two possessions. The first didn't end up costing them, since the Bears inexplicably went for it on fourth-and-2 instead of kicking a short field goal, but the second was returned for a touchdown that put the Giants in a 7-0 hole. And the third, which came with two minutes left in the game and the Giants driving in Chicago territory down just six points, iced it for the Bears. The interceptions raised Manning's league-leading total to 15 and the Giants' league-leading turnover total to 23. No other team in the league has more than 12.

What's next: The Giants get 10 days off before their next game, which is Oct. 21 on "Monday Night Football" against the Minnesota Vikings at MetLife Stadium. Because they played the early game in Week 6 and their bye is in Week 9, the Giants will play only two games in the next 30 days.

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