The Giants Guys

The Giants spend a week in Detroit to gain unity and cohesiveness

The New York Giants have been in Detroit for several days ahead of tonight’s preseason showdown with the Lions. They practiced all week with against the Lions leading up to tonight’s game at Ford Field.

The Lions’ facility in Allen Park is about 10 miles outside of downtown Detroit where Ford Field is located. Shurmur has a past relationship with Lions’ first-year head coach Matt Patricia, who was formerly the defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots.

“When Matt [Patricia] was the defensive coordinator at New England, I did it twice when I was with Philadelphia,” said Shurmur. “I’ve worked with Matt before. We’ve got a good feel of the tempo and how we want to do it. We kind of set the ground rules ahead of time, and try to get good work.”

The are advantages and disadvantages to taking your team on the road in the preseason. What will be achieved by making this trip?

Shake the monotony

The Giants were like most teams in the NFL. They used to pack up the farm and take the entire organization to places like Oregon, Vermont and, most recently, Albany for the summer. They began holding training camp at their headquarters in East Rutherford in 2013 upon completion of the Timex Performance Center, which is now named after Quest Diagnostics.

When you go to work at the same location at the same time every single day, it can affect your performance. A lethargy sets in and bad habits can form. Another residual effect can be injuries. Sometimes players don’t prepare properly if they get into the wrong mindset.

Shurmur believes the change of scenery could be just what his team needs, especially after their stale performance in the preseason opener versus Cleveland.

“My experience against practicing against one another is both teams need to be smart,” he said. “Both teams need to understand the tempo of every drill. We’re out there competing, but this certainly isn’t the first time teams have practiced against one another.”

New faces across from you

Part of that monotony is that units on both sides of the football will be lining up against each other everyday. The familiarity can also lead to bad habits and not give the players enough diversity going into the season. Sometimes practicing across from some fresh faces make a team more versatile and dynamic.

“Just going against a new defense,” said quarterback Eli Manning when asked what he hoped to accomplish in Michigan this week. “Kind of getting unscripted looks, and you have to adjust, you kind of test their rules. It’s different when you’re going against our defense. Now, we got a feel for what they like to do, and this and that. Going against new guys, new techniques, new style of defense. I think it’s going to be a great learning experience for us. We got to go out there and keep improving. We still got a long way to go before that first real game. So, we got to get better and make strides each and every week.”

Team building and unity

Going away with the whole organization not only adds a change of pace, but many teams believe it makes for a tighter community when you head back home. A road trip or vacation can do that, not to say that an NFL training camp is a respite by any means.

The Giants, unfortunately, live in the world of modern day professional sports and economics and logistics play a large part in corporate decisions. The choice to practice closer to home was a difficult one for the team, who over the years had built up a strong bond with the New York Capital Region community.

But Albany had no field house, so when it rained there was usually no practice. Plus, any injured player would have to be transported back to the city for evaluation and treatment. Not to mention the gargantuan effort it took to move all of the necessary equipment and supplies the team needed for the month. It just became too much.

One summer, there was a problem with the beds and several players developed back ailments. That probably wasn’t the deciding factor to leave Albany but it certainly didn’t help.

Who will benefit?

The units that need the most work, that’s who. The starting offensive line played fairly well against Cleveland, although they were only on the field for 16 snaps.

“The biggest takeaway I think — the chemistry,” said center Jon Halapio. “The chemistry showed up early on in the run game. I think that’s a positive thing that we can build on going on to next week to Detroit.”

Backup quarterback Davis Webb has to show improvement this week against the Lions. He was off-target and out of synch against the Browns.

“The biggest thing right now is going to the film room with coach [Pat] Shurmur and coach [Mike] Shula and kind of learn from my mistakes,” said Webb. “It’s the first preseason game, I’m going to get better from it. This isn’t going to be the last time playing, so I got another opportunity next week in Detroit, go against them everyday in practice and going to be a good opportunity for our team to go against someone new on defense. Looking forward to it.”

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