Packers' next opponent: Backsliding Giants still have some young talent

Jim Owczarski
Packers News
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New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley has not been the same threat since injuring his ankle in September, but remains the focal point of the Giants offense.

After another West Coast debacle, the Green Bay Packers look to get back on the winning track by taking a trip to the East Coast to play the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.

Basics on the Giants

Last week

The Giants didn’t do much against a still-decent Chicago defense but scored late to make it close in a 19-14 loss on the road. Saquon Barkley was held to 59 yards rushing, but rookie quarterback Daniel Jones tossed two touchdowns passes.


Giants head coach Pat Shurmur and offensive coordinator Mike Shula run a West Coast-styled attack, leaning on a talented run game and short passes to take the pressure off a rookie quarterback.

Defensive coordinator James Bettcher runs a 3-4 scheme and cut his teeth learning under respected defensive minds in Chuck Pagano in Indianapolis and Todd Bowles in Arizona. His groups have often been better against the run than the pass.

Key numbers


Total touchdowns by the offense of 30 yards or more. The defense has two.


Net yards per pass attempt for Giants quarterbacks, No. 28 in the league.


Kicks missed (four field goals, three extra points) by Aldrick Rosas.


Percentage of offensive possessions that end in a turnover (most in the league).


Rush yards per game for Barkley.

Players to watch

Saquon Barkley, RB

The second-year running back out of Penn State is not having the sophomore season he expected after going to the Pro Bowl and winning Rookie of the Year last season, averaging just 3.9 yards per carry and 57.6 yards per game. He has been slowed by a high ankle injury since beginning the year strongly. He has remained an outlet in the passing game, however, with 35 catches for 259 yards.

Daniel Jones, QB

The No. 6 overall pick in the draft out of Duke took over for Eli Manning after two games, and after winning two of his first three starts the Giants have lost seven straight. Jones has thrown at least one interception in five games but he has thrown for four touchdowns twice.

Evan Engram, TE

Another big, athletic tight end is on the docket for the Packers as the 25-year-old, third-year pro has developed into Jones’ favorite target. There is some concern about whether he can play against the Packers due to a foot sprain, but in eight games he leads the team in targets (68), receptions (44) and yards (467) while catching three touchdown passes.

Reasons to worry

The Giants are not a good team, so there are only a few ways this game should concern the Packers. One, there is a nasty hangover from the disappointing loss in San Francisco during the week of preparation; as safety Adrian Amos said, they can’t allow the 49ers to beat them twice. Another would be, potentially, any issues with returning from the West Coast early Monday morning and flying to the East Coast the next weekend with a holiday in-between.

New York has been a little more competitive with Jones at QB, losing to Arizona, Detroit, the New York Jets and the Chicago Bears by one possession. And, at least offensively, they have some weapons that typically give the Packers problems (a running back, pass catchers who can work the middle of the field). Defensively, however, the Giants are poor everywhere but linebacker Markus Golden does have 7.5 sacks and 16 hits on the quarterback.

Reasons to relax

The Giants have lost seven straight and they’re not very good, with head coach Pat Shurmur facing seemingly weekly questions about his job status. While Jones has shown flashes to indicate why the Giants drafted him to replace Eli Manning, he is still a rookie who doesn’t push the ball down the field and loses the ball – he has thrown eight interceptions and fumbled an NFL-high 14 times. Barkley must be accounted for, but he has not been the same player since getting hurt at the end of September.

The Packers' offense has looked poor two of the last three weeks, but the Giants actually made Mitch Trubisky look somewhat competent last Sunday. The Giants are No. 27 in total defense and No. 29 overall. They’ve given up 100 yards or more on the ground and 270 yards passing or more six times. They also figure to be without two of their best players in safety Jabrill Peppers, who suffered back fractures against the Bears, and receiver Golden Tate (concussion).

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