Pat Shurmur coaches during first half against New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium.

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Block: Giants' Identity Still Forming Ahead Of Rivalry Game In Dallas

Benjamin Block
September 14, 2018 - 2:40 pm

Two words. “Dallas week.”

That’s how New York Giants rookie head coach Pat Shurmur opened up for questions from the media after turning the page on the Giants’ 20-15 season-opening loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

And in the wake of that unsavory defeat, a few things have started to crystallize for Big Blue.

Ereck Flowers isn’t concerned with what you think of him, Eli Manning has no qualms that the offense will soon jell, and double-digit catches for Odell Beckham Jr. doesn’t usually equate to a Giants victory.

“I don’t really care what a lot of people have to say about this and that,” Flowers told reporters in defense of his uneven play last Sunday.

“I care about what my coach says and the people next to me and that’s all I really care about,” the struggling tackle added.

Shurmur, who is Flowers’ third head coach in four years (Tom Coughlin in 2015, Ben McAdoo in 2016 and 2017), isn’t panicking — yet.

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“Ereck had a lot of really good plays (Sunday), so what we’re going to do is try to help him with some of the technique work that he can improve on, just like every player, to eliminate some of those mistakes,” said Shurmur. 

However, the 24-year-old tackle, who spent the last three years as Manning’s subpar blindside protection, is being afforded more room for error in his new role at right tackle than he likely deserves.

So when Flowers committed two penalties in the first three plays against Jacksonville’s vaunted defensive line, people wanted answers. His response: “It’s part of the game, ups and downs.”

Manning tiptoed around questions suggesting that the offensive line played poorly by offering a carefully worded democratic answer, refusing to take the bait.  

“I think it’s just everybody understanding their assignments just a little bit crisper – just execution,” said Manning, alluding to all the new players, coaches and schemes.

“We’re going to learn how to clean up this offense, how to clean up the mistakes that were made, and we’ll get better,” Manning assured. 

While Odell Beckham Jr. is not exactly a new cog in the Giants offense, he is still adjusting to football activities and game day action.

“I’m not going to lie, I was sore after the game,” Beckham Jr. revealed Thursday. “I felt good to make it out, but I was feeling it,” he added.

Odell Beckham Jr. runs a route against Jalen Ramsey during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium.
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Beckham was targeted 15 times in Sunday's loss, resulting in 11 catches for 111 yards. While it was the 20th time he’s had over 100 yards receiving in a game, he didn’t find the end zone, which raised an interesting stat.

Of the 20 times Beckham Jr. has surpassed 100 yards receiving in a game, Big Blue has only won seven of those contests, prompting Beckham to question his production level from a different angle.

“Maybe I need to do more. It is what it is. You can put together a 100-yard game, even though I feel like a lot of stuff that happens is third downs, or plays to get us going, but if you’re not putting points on the board, then it’s hard to win games,” said Beckham.

Because Dallas sometimes plays a single safety look on defense, as did Jacksonville several times last week, Beckham believes that the Giants’ offensive schemes will continue to improve and evolve.

“Whether it’s third and short, or they’re playing press and they’re playing the sticks, what are they going to do? Eli and Coach Shurmur have a pretty good connection of setting that up and putting us in the right positions,” stated Beckham. 

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Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Shurmur said he doesn’t worry about falling to 0-2, or how teams that historically start the year with that record don’t make the playoffs.

“All that stuff is fun for everybody to talk about, but we don’t worry about that,” said Shurmur, rejecting that premise.

Instead, Shurmur spoke about the Cowboys and the importance of the divisional rival with a poignant — albeit dated — story.

“I remember when I was in Philly, I was putting my trash out one morning early my first year, and we weren’t very good. It was early in the morning, and I was surprised by this person. They said to me, ‘Listen, you can go 2-14 if you beat Dallas twice,’” he recalled. 

Shurmur understands very well the gravity of Sunday.

Beat Dallas.

Follow Ben on Twitter at @benjaminblock21.