Giants, Chargers ride rough waters in same 0-4 boat
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Sometimes the game of football, much like life, throws a curveball as a test.
That about sums up the plight of the New York Giants and the Los Angeles Chargers, who are two of four teams in the league still in search of their first win.
They'll try to get that first victory against each other Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
The Chargers, who relocated from San Diego, have a brand-new coaching staff led by Anthony Lynn. They hoped the energy the 48-year-old Lynn brought to the team would rejuvenate a club that has lost nine straight regular-season games since a 21-13 victory over the Houston Texans on Nov. 27.
"This is certainly not where we anticipated being, or expected to be, but here's where we find ourselves," Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said.
"So, as you can imagine, sitting at 0-4, not everybody's in the best mood, but it's a team that -- we're not down and out, in that sense. We're frustrated and aggravated and tired of losing, but the guys are still into it and fired up about having 12 games left and having this road trip, coming to New York and playing these Giants."
The challenge for Lynn, a first-time NFL head coach, is trying to keep his players tuned in to a program that has struggled to produce the results the organization envisioned.
"We are going to cut back a little bit," Lynn said via a conference call with the Giants beat writers Wednesday. "And, try to take our best game plan to New York. I want my guys to do the same thing. I want them to play fast, be physical and execute better and my way of doing that is cutting back a little bit."
Rivers noted that the Chargers have experience they can fall back on when facing adversity.
"In 2008, we were sitting at 4-8 and found our way in the postseason that year. These last two years, we struggled our way to four wins and five wins, which has not been very enjoyable, but we hung in there and fought together and you've never seen the locker room fall apart, or guys quit," he said.
"So while we don't want to be in those situations, it says a lot about the character of the guys who have. So I have no doubt that our character is strong and that we're going to continue to fight like crazy. But we've got 12 more games left.
"I know the odds and the percentages and all that against an 0-4 team making a run and playing in January are super, super slim, but we're not worried about that. We're just trying to win a game right now and then hopefully we can get on a roll."
"There's so much football left," he said. "There are 12 games, 12 weeks left, and it's way too early to mentally check out. If this was midway through the season or on the third quarter of the season, maybe some concern there, but not right now."
That's the same attitude that Giants coach Ben McAdoo and his players are taking as they to search for that first win of 2017. Like the Chargers, no Giants players have thrown in the towel on the season.
"Nobody wants to sit there without a win and if you go back, we haven't had a win. We lost the last five games -- we have to include that Green Bay game," linebacker and defensive captain Jonathan Casillas said.
"We have to correct it. We had a great practice, and I don't know about the dumbing down of the calls because I still feel like we had some calls out there, but we have to be able to handle it."
Giants receiver Odell Buckham Jr. said, "You don't hang your head. For what? OK, you lost a couple games. You're a man. Adversity tests your manhood. So let's see what kind of man you are.
"Are you going to fold, you going to break, you going to give in or you going to keep pushing? I know that we're going to keep pushing. I know that for sure. That's the goal is to get everybody in here to push each and every day."
Like Lynn, McAdoo has also said he will attempt to simplify things for his struggling ballclub in the week of practice leading up to the game.
"Just with the calls and the communication," he said when asked how he planned to simplify things. "It starts with the coaches -- just going back and detailing the fundamentals.
"You don't want to go back into a training camp mode, but you want to get pretty close. Just make it simple. Let players run, hit, tackle, block, catch, do what they do best."
McAdoo is counting on the leaders he has in the locker room to keep the team from falling apart at the seams.
So far, so good in the Giants' locker room, where the players have bought into McAdoo's message.
"I think he's just trying to tell us not to press," Giants offensive lineman Justin Pugh said when asked about McAdoo's approach. "When you get down into a hole at 0-4, you get down in a game, you start pressing. Everyone is trying to make that big play or that big block. Just go do your job. Keep it stupid simple. That's kind of like the old saying and that's what we're going to do."
Updated October 5, 2017