EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Justin Pugh concedes the boos that reverberated throughout MetLife Stadium on multiple occasions during Monday night’s loss to the Detroit Lions were somewhat deserved. The New York Giants haven’t put anything on tape this season to prove otherwise.
It doesn’t mean Pugh thinks it's smart for fans to jump ship after two losses, despite the struggles of both the offensive line and the offense as a whole. He believes that would be a premature reaction to one-eighth of the NFL season.
“I know the group of guys we have, and I know the direction we’re headed, and I know the camaraderie that we’re building, and we’re going to keep getting better. And I think I speak for the offensive line when I say we’re going to go out there and keep fighting,” Pugh said, addressing the fan base. “So stick with us. Don’t turn your backs on us just yet. Just give us a chance here.”
The Giants (0-2) are far from throwing in the towel, despite ESPN's FPI saying they have just a 7 percent chance of making the playoffs. They know that Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia is vital and that they can't afford another impotent offensive performance.
Safety Landon Collins has called it a must-win game. Although Pugh wouldn’t go that far, he conceded that it is a “big game for us.” That might be an understatement. Only three NFL teams since 1990 have started a season 0-3 and still reached the playoffs.
The Giants still need to keep it in perspective. They don't want to overemphasize the importance of this week. It would be counterproductive.
“Hey, again, there’s pressure to win every week. That’s part of being in the NFL,” quarterback Eli Manning said. “You want to go out there, and you’ve got to be careful making something bigger than what it is, and I think you always want to be relaxed and be ready.
"But I understand. Hey, it’s a game in the division, and we dug ourselves in a hole. We’ve got to get out of it.”
Three consecutive losses to open the season might dispel coach Ben McAdoo’s belief that this isn't the "first good team to start 0-2." He is still confident, even though outside the walls of the Quest Diagnostics Training Center there are serious doubts.
“A lot of people are counting us out, and so be it,” McAdoo said. “We hold ourselves to a high standard in the building, and we have a great challenge this week, and we’re looking forward to it.”
McAdoo seems to be using this as the Giants’ 2017 rallying cry of sorts. After just two weeks, he has been subjected to using the doubters as motivation. It seems McAdoo wants his players to use that to their advantage.
“It’s good to have an edge,” he said.
It’s not going to be easy. Sunday afternoon is the Eagles’ home opener. Lincoln Financial Field will be a loud, raucous environment for the embattled offensive line and the entire Giants team.
There is nothing behind closed doors that makes McAdoo believe the offense can’t and won't get it together, no matter the venue.
“We have the knowledge and we have the skill sets to produce on offense,” he said. “We need to go out. We need to throw effort at it. We need to get the job done.”
The Giants haven’t come close to doing that in their first two games, when they have scored a total of 13 points and run for fewer than 100 yards. But Pugh and McAdoo seem to think they can and will, regardless of what most of the onlookers seem to think.