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Giants return from bye week with few changes but high hopes

Giants head coach Pat Shurmur talks on the

Giants head coach Pat Shurmur talks on the sideline against the Jets at MetLife Stadium on Nov. 10. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

It’s been over a week since the Giants played in a game and it will be almost another week before they play in their next one. In the nearly never-ending grind that is an NFL schedule — whether a team is winning or, like these Giants, not — that’s a fairly long respite.

But the idea that the bye week provides teams with an opportunity to overhaul their schemes and systems, to implement personality transplants, or make drastic changes in how they operate, well, that’s a bit of a myth.

So as the Giants returned from their bye on Monday, they took to the practice field somewhat refreshed and gathered again in their meeting rooms a bit refocused. As for drastic changes, though, don’t expect to see a lot of them.

“There’s not as much time as everybody thinks to make these wholesale changes that sometimes people think may happen,” coach Pat Shurmur said on Monday. He noted that between the review of the loss to the Jets early last week and the mandated days off for the players, there hasn’t really been time to alter the essence of the team.

Oh, there will be a few tweaks and probably a couple of personnel shifts. The overarching change that Shurmur wants to institute, though, didn’t really need a week away from football to evaluate and fix.

“Along the way, you’re playing good football and all of a sudden, you give up a third down,” Shurmur said of what has flummoxed the Giants to their 2-8 record. “Or you’re playing good football and you give up a big play. Or all of a sudden, you’re moving the ball and somebody misses a block and you have a sack-fumble. Those are the kinds of things you have to clean up.”

In other words, the Giants don’t have to necessarily play differently.

They just have to play better.

They have six games to show they can do so, starting Sunday against a 4-6 Bears team that is limping into the contest with or without its starting quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky.

Of course, with six straight losses tailing them, the Giants aren’t exactly a daunting opponent either.

 There is no mulligan for the first 10 games, but the Giants did appear to have taken advantage of the restart.

“I think we all needed to just kind of hit the reset button, refocus, kind of evaluate what we all individually can do better,” wide receiver Golden Tate said. “Just try to go on a run.”

For defensive lineman Leonard Williams, this was his second bye of the season. He had one earlier with the Jets before he was traded to the Giants.

“I was impressed with how the guys came out here ready to go for practice,” he said on Monday. “You could tell guys weren’t holding their head down or coming out here lackadaisical or lazy. It seemed like guys were ready to finish the season strong, and they came back with the intention and it showed in practice.”

 Off the field, the Giants’ deep dive into their demise so far this season yielded some predictable results.

“I see what I’ve been talking about all along,” Shurmur said of his self-scouting over the past few days. “There are stretches of games where there’s a lot of really good football that we’re playing, and then there are mistakes that we make and for a team like us, mistakes that cost you to lose games. The challenge is to become more consistent in all areas.

“That’s sort of what I saw.”

What we’ll see the next few weeks won’t be structurally different. The Giants simply hope the results are.

Notes & quotes: TE Evan Engram on Monday was freed from the protective boot he’d been wearing for two weeks since suffering a mid-foot sprain against the Cowboys. Engram said the original prognosis for his injury was two to four weeks and he said he feels he is “a little bit ahead of schedule.” But Engram has yet to run on solid ground (he’s worked in water and on an Alter G machine), so while he hopes to play Sunday against the Bears he might not be cleared in time . . Shurmur said that while WR Sterling Shepard, CB Janoris Jenkins, TE Rhett Ellison and T Nate Solder remain in the concussion protocol, the Giants are “encouraged that they’ll make it through.” . . . Solder was excused from Monday’s practice to handle a personal matter.

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