By Jeff Moeller, The New York Extra/thenyextra.com
Giants’ defensive coordinator Patrick Graham restarted his practice Thursday.
He was visibly upset about his unit’s performance and rightfully so.
Since they effectively and impressively shut down Seattle’s Russell Wilson in a 17-12 victory a month ago, the Giants’ defense has been subpar at best.
To put it in perspective, the Giants’ defense has allowed 73 points during their three-game losing streak, as opposed to allowing 63 over a four-game winning streak.
The unit has been one — or the — major reason for the team’s resurgence this season.
Gone over the past three weeks have been their prior energized,intensified, and disciplined efforts, major trademarks that helped shape the unit into one of the top 10 in the league.
The Giants (5-10) will need to refocus their effort Sunday afternoon against Dallas at MetLife with the NFC East crown hanging in the balance for both teams.
Dallas (5-9) has regrouped and reeled off three impressive victories, playing more soundly on both sides of the ball.
Graham put everything in its proper perspective Thursday after practice in a video conference.
“We need our best game on Sunday, our most physical game and most sound execution”” he stressed. “We have to start fast. We can’t be worried about anything other than the Cowboys and trying to execute.”
Cowboys’ running back Ezeliel Elliott is 63 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark this season, and he is coming off his most productive game of the season with a 105-yard, four-reception performance in a win over Philadelphia last week.
The Giants gave up 249 yards rushing in their loss at Baltimore last Sunday, but they still remain a top 10 unit against the run.
Giants’ defensive end Leonard Williams once was headed for a Pro Bowl season with 8.5 sacks, but hasn’t registered one in the past three weeks. In fact, the Giants have only two sacks during their losing streak after they registered five against Wilson.
Their lack of pressure has caused issues for the secondary in its zone coverages that has been exploited over the past three weeks in spite of consistent performances from corner James Bradberry and safety Jabrill Peppers.
Those issues could provide plenty of opportunity for Cowboys’ quarterback Andy Dalton, who had a 377-yard, three-touchdown showing against Philadelphia, and he has seven touchdowns and one interception during his team’s streak.
The Giants also forced a minimum of one turnover in each of their first 13 games, netting 17 overall. However, they have recorded just one in the past three weeks.
Whether or not the Giants make the playoffs should be insignificant. Instead, Sunday should be about whether the Giants’ defensive unit has established itself for 2021 with a corralled closure of the Cowboys Sunday.