The Redskins on Thursday play host to the New York Giants in a 'Thursday Night Football' matchup at FedExField. Giants.com senior writer/editor Michael Eisen (@giantseisen) gives us an insider's look at the major storylines for the opposing team heading into the matchup.
Redskins.com:What was the feeling in the Giants' locker room after Sunday's win and what was the atmosphere like at the facility this week after they got that monkey off their back, played very well and got their first victory of the season against the Texans – and was any of that tempered because of the short week?
Eisen: "No, I don't think so. I think, really, after the game, I don't want to say there was relief, I think it was sort of the feeling of "Finally." The players felt they had made progress, they really thought they should have won the Arizona game the week before, it was just a series of bizarre events in the fourth quarter that prevented that. I think they were just happy that all their hard work had kind of paid off. I really think just the opposite, it's not tempered, it's heightened because they get a chance to keep the momentum going quickly and play their first division game. There's a lot of excitement around here."
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Redskins.com: **Eli Manning has won two Super Bowl titles, but this year has obviously been a little bit different for him under a first-year offensive coordinator in Ben McAdoo. How has this transition gone for Manning, and what have been some of the more trying times for him and this offense as they try to get their grasp on that new scheme?
Eisen:"I think the transition has been tough in some respects because he was in the same system for 10 years and the new offensive system, as Coach Coughlin likes to say, a lot of verbiage, a lot of terminology, but he does feel comfortable with it now. It's an offense he likes a lot – he's been energized by the change. He's working well with Ben McAdoo, the new coordinator. Sunday, you saw what the offense can be. He completed 75 percent of his passes, and really the week before he had good stat, and would have had very good stats, but receivers dropped five passes on him. In my weekly sit down with Coach Coughlin last week, I used the word 'thrive' and coach said he uses and expects Eli and this offense to 'excel,' and Eli is really playing well in this offense right now."
Redskins.com:There's been lots of talk about how the Giants' offensive line has had – and will continue to have – its struggles, but let's face it: they did a pretty darn good job on Sunday against J.J. Watt, limited him to a sack and a few hurries. First off, why does the Giants' offensive line get so much flack, and what did they do specifically to plug up Watt?
Eisen:"I think people kind of forget that throughout the offseason, we expected our starting guards to be Chris Snee and Geoff Schwartz and they don't have either of them right now. Snee had to retire and Schwartz is on the short-term IR with a dislocated toe. We're starting two guards we didn't expect to start. Will Beatty spent most of the offseason recovering from a fractured leg which he suffered against you in the season finale. Offensive lines, as you know, take time to come together. We've got a rookie starting at left guard. We've got a second-year player starting at right guard. We have a new comer starting at right tackle. We have newcomers starting at center and right guard. It just takes time to gel. Specifically, what did they do against J.J. Watt, they just made sure they knew where the hell he was every play and had one or two guys on him on every play. The early sack was a mistake by Justin Pugh, but after that they did a good job of keeping him in check. I think the line will continue to improve. This was a group that was thrown together, really, late in the preseason."
Redskins.com: What's been the main storyline of the Giants' defense so far through three games this season? It seems like the first couple weeks, the defense was kind of hindered by penalties and critical mistakes, but then on Sunday, it looked like a completely different unit – getting three interceptions and being a force up front. What is the real identity of this New York defense?
Eisen:"I think it's still emerging. I think the first two games, the negative storyline was that there were no takeaways. I think we were one of only three teams not to have any takeaways in the first two games. Finally, we actually had three interceptions last week and two sacks. That's starting to come around. The big story is Jon Beason. Is he going to play? Is he not going to play? He missed last week's game. He's really the heart and soul in the middle of the defense, so we need him. But without him, Jameel McClain came in and had 11 tackles and a half sack. Hopefully Beason will come back soon, but we played well without him last week."
Redskins.com:The Redskins have had one of the league's best run defenses so far this season, and on Sunday held LeSean McCoy to 22 yards on 19 carries. Rashad Jennings, meanwhile, was absolutely tearing it up against the Texans with 176 yards and a touchdown. Something's gotta give here tomorrow night – how do you see that matchup panning out?
Eisen: "I think the big question is, after he carried the ball 34 times on Sunday, how big a load can Jennings carry on Thursday? He's in great shape. He's a tough guy. He insists he can carry the ball another 34 times if he needs to, but I think the Giants are going to have to watch him during the game and see how he's feeling. He got hit a lot Sunday and it's obviously coming back on a short week, but if the line takes another step forward and Jennings runs like he did the other day, then it should be quite a battle to see between the Giants run offense and the run defense of the Redskins."