EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New coaches, roster changes and even the deletion of a team nickname haven’t changed things on the field for the New York Giants and the Washington Football Club five games into the NFL season.
The long-time rivals are again bringing up the rear in a mediocre NFC East, a division that is wide open with Dallas (2-3) and Philadelphia (1-3-1) struggling.
Washington (1-4) and the Giants (0-5) will meet for the 177th time in a series that dates to 1932 when they play Sunday at MetLife Stadium. New York is looking for its first win under 38-year-old Joe Judge. Washington has lost four straight and changed quarterbacks since giving Ron Rivera a win in the season opener.
With 11 games left in the regular season, Rivera and Judge realize a few wins will get their teams back in the hunt. However, they also know their teams have to stop making mistakes and start playing complete games to win.
“You hear me talk about it; we have not sustained success," Rivera said. “When you watch the things that we do, you see it’ll be first-and-10, second-and-3 and then we’ll do something and end up at third-and-8. That’s the frustration is that we don’t sustain a positive thing. On the defensive side, same thing. We get a team into third-and-long and we’ll allow a first down. That’s the frustration, is that the consistency is not where it needs to be.”
Judge says he has been brutally honest with his young team. After every loss, the videotapes are reviewed and the good and bad discussed, as well as where they are as a team and what needs to improve.
“That ties into obviously tangible results on the field with wins and losses,” he said. “It’s a production business. We’re all very conscious and aware of that. It’s my job to make sure they understand what we need to do better, what we need to clean up. But then it’s also my job to highlight and show them where they’ve made improvements and where we’ve made progress as a team, so they understand what we have really to build with.”
If there is a good piece of news for the Giants, it's they have played well against Washington, winning the last three games. Quarterback Daniel Jones threw for five touchdowns in December, when the team was known as the Redskins.
BANGED UP BACKERS
In the last two games, the Giants have lost young starting outside linebackers Oshane Ximines (shoulder-IR) and Lorenzo Carter (Achilles tendon). Kyler Fackrell, who was signed as a free agent in the off-season , and Markus Golden are expected to replace them.
Fackrell started last week against Dallas and returned an interception for a touchdown, the first of his career. Golden, who led New York with 10 sacks last season, picked up a half a sack after replacing Carter.
Expect rookies Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin to pick up some time. Brown has been impressive on special teams coverage.
ALLEN STARTS AGAIN
Kyle Allen -- not Alex Smith or Dwayne Haskins -- is Washington’s starting quarterback for a second consecutive game. Rivera benched Haskins after three consecutive losses, and Allen started 9 of 13 for 74 yards passing and scored a rushing touchdown against the Rams before injuring his left (non-throwing) arm in the second quarter. Smith took over and played for the first time since severely breaking a leg in two spots in 2018.
Allen is good to go with Smith as his backup. Haskins is third on the depth chart.
New York had expected either running back Saquon Barkley or tight end Evan Engram to be the big-play guy this season. Barkley tore up his knee in Week 2 and Engram has been inconsistent.
Second-year wide receiver Darius Slayton has picked up the slack. He has a team-high 23 catches for 365 yards and two touchdowns. He had his best game of the season last weekend, catching eight passes for 129 yards, and had a touchdown reception negated by a penalty.
Washington’s defence has allowed 30 or more points in all four losses. It struggled again in a loss to the Rams even after No. 2 pick Chase Young returned from a groin injury and continued to wreak havoc from the edge.
Strong safety Landon Collins missed an angle on a 56-yard touchdown pass, but the biggest problem might be free safety, where it’s either inexperienced Troy Apke or special teamer Deshazor Everett.
THE GREAT GANO
If the game comes down to a field goal, the Giants wouldn't mind having Graham Gano taking it. The veteran, who was signed after missing last season with a leg injury, has made 13 of 14 field goal attempts. He has tied a team single-season record with four field goals of 50 or more yards. His only miss was from 57 yards. Against Dallas on Sunday, he hit from 55, 50, 54 and 28 yards.
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Tom Canavan, The Associated Press