Moeller: Giants Have to Regroup for Stretch Run Starting with Washington

The shock is over and the body has to be revived.

This week, the Giants officially signaled the end to making a run toward the postseason this year, and the rebuilding has begun for the 2019 campaign. The exodus of Eli Apple and Damon Harrison confirmed it.

Now, they have nine games left to gain some respectability.

It begins with an inconspicuous Washington Redskins team Sunday afternoon at Met Life. They are sitting atop the rather inept NFC Least with a 4-2 record.

But don’t take the Redskins lightly.

Running back Adrian Peterson has resurrected his career with 438 yards and quarterback Alex Smith once again has looked strong during the regular season with seven touchdowns, two interceptions, and 1,383 passing yards.

Washington isn’t seriously taken as a contender, but they can further tighten their grip on the division over the Giants. Philadelphia and Dallas still haven’t shed their inconsistencies.

As for the Giants, all is focused on how they will respond. Head coach Pat Shurmur doesn’t want his club to see it as a new beginning.

“It’s not a nine-week tryout,” Shurmur said of the remainder of the season. “We’ve got nine games left, playing one game at a time. Those are all things for people to talk about. We’re moving forward, getting ready to play the Redskins.”

They will ready themselves with the same offensive line alignment as last week with Spencer Pulley at center and John Greco from center to right guard. Quarterback Eli Manning will face a Redskins unit that has 14 and can add to the already 24 he has endured.

Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who has three sacks, has sacked Manning more times than any other play with nine of them.

Odell Beckham Jr. will be locked into another battle with Josh Norman, but Beckham has shown more restraint and should avoid his scuffles of the past with the cornerback.

Beckham realizes that the team has already shifted gears, and it is now up to him to assert himself as a leader of this team. He already had the contract, and now the torch has been passed to him.

He can share the torch with Saquon Barkley, who has been a vocal presence and appears comfortable in the lead role.

For Barkley, though, it is about when the team will turn him into a 20-to-25-carry a game back. That will depend if the offensive line can gain any kind of rhythm with their new alignment.

Both Beckham and Barkley can set the tone for 2019.

Defensively, 2017 second-round pick Dalvin Tomlinson has been thrust into the spotlight along the front, and B.W. Webb, Grant Haley, and Sean Chandler get an opportunity in the secondary.

If Manning has a bad game against Washington, it could get interesting. Get ready for a look at Kyle Lauletta.

The Giants follow with a bye week, and quarterback Blake Bortles is on a short leash in Jacksonville. But the Jaguars have to get their house in order to make a legitimate run.

Eight weeks left after Washington and the Giants will continue the transformation process. Don’t expect cornerback Janoris Jenkins and linebacker Olivier Vernon to be around in late December.

Instead, expect some more cap room and draft picks available to begin post-holiday shopping for 2019.

About the Author

Jeff Moeller

Jeff Moeller has been covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college football and basketball as well as high school sports on a national and local scene for the past 39 years. He has been a Jets and Giants beat reporter for the past 13 years.

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