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Week 4 preview: Giants vs. Bucs

Giants QB Eli Manning employed a quicker release

Giants QB Eli Manning employed a quicker release against the Eagles in Week 3, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Philadelphia. Photo Credit: Giants QB Eli Manning employed a quicker release against the Eagles in Week 3, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Philadelphia.

Tell the Giants that only three teams since 1990 have made the NFL playoffs after starting he season 0-3, and none have done it since 1998, and some of them seem almost happy to hear it.

Landon Collins is one of them. He’s never been in this position before — not in grade school, high school, college or the NFL — but now that he is, he likes the challenge.

“I look at it as we have an opportunity to make history,” the Pro Bowl safety said. “We’re 0-3. To come back from 0-3 is big and that’s what we’re looking forward to doing and being a team that is still to be reckoned with.”

That seems to be the attitude many Giants take with them into Sunday’s game against the Bucs in Tampa. The early season struggles have been met with defiance rather than concession. They’ve heard the odds rattled off and have responded with “Dumb & Dumber” memes: So you’re telling me there’s a chance!

Just because no one has done it this millennium doesn’t mean it can’t be done. But to do it, the Giants need to win Sunday.

“At the end of the day, we’ve got to get it right here first,” Jason Pierre-Paul said. “So, we are going to get it right here and hopefully go on Sunday and win this game.”

It would make them 1-3, but it would change so much.

“It gets that momentum,” cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said of the impact of one victory after three straight losses. “You get to feeling like yourself again. It brings back your swag, your hype, your up, your tempo. I’m an animated guy. When stuff is quiet, I can’t vibe like that.”

Asked what makes him believe that the Giants can salvage this season, wide receiver Brandon Marshall said: “The men in this room. Simple as that.”

“It’s a long season, all kinds of things happen,” Marshall added. “Obviously, it’s not the ideal situation right now, but if you’ve made it to this point, making it to the NFL, then you’re battle tested, you have a lot of mental toughness. This sport is hard, especially at this level with so much going on and so much on our plates. You have to be mentally tough to be able to sustain and continue to perform.”

And believe that instead of having history tell you what will happen, go out and make history yourself.

Once Jets QBs . . . now backups

Together they combined for 57 of 64 starts for the Jets over the previous four seasons, but today Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick are unlikely to see the field. The two former teammates — and one-time combatants for the starting quarterback job with the Jets — are now the backups for the Giants and the Bucs, planted firmly on the sideline behind faces of their franchises.

So far this year Fitzpatrick has thrown one pass, an incompletion. Smith has yet to take the field.

“It’s been amazing,” Bucs starter Jameis Winston said of working with Fitzpatrick. “The enthusiasm that he brings to the quarterback room and the wisdom that he has as a veteran and as a great quarterback to me, he’s amazing. I’m so, so blessed to have someone like him on my side to help me in my development and my whole process of being a strong quarterback in the NFL.”

Smith was in the same type of situation with Fitzpatrick. Sort of. Where Winston is the undisputed starter for the Bucs, Smith was forced to compete with Fitzpatrick. He lost his job to him (thanks, in no small part, to IK Enemkpali). Still, Smith said he is looking forward to the reunion.

“I can’t wait to see Fitz, man,” Smith told Newsday. “It’s been a while since we spoke. It’ll be fun to catch up with him.”

Smith said they’ll likely shake hands before the game.

“A couple of smiles, a little talk,” he said. “’How are the kids?’ All that good stuff.”

Getting rid of it

Eli Manning was not sacked by the Eagles last week, which had more to do with him than any vast improvement on the offensive line. According to Pro Football Focus, Manning got rid of his passes in an average of 1.86 seconds. How fast is that? The next-quickest release time in the NFL in Week 3 was 2.25 seconds.

“We knew what we were facing,” offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said of the Eagles’ defense. “We wanted to make sure that we could get the ball out of his hands with that great pass rush.”

It was probably the biggest change that the Giants made to their offense.

“I mean, we couldn’t keep going down the same road we were going,” Ben McAdoo said of the eight sacks allowed in the first two games. “We had to adjust and we adjusted.”

Don’t expect it to be a permanent fix, though.

“It’s tough to sustain any one style of offensive football throughout the course of the season,” McAdoo said. “Defenses adjust. There are tremendous defenses and defensive coaches in this league, so it is hard to just play one way.”

Said Sullivan: “In that game, in that situation, and where we were, trying to kick-start things, it was effective. But to say that that’s necessarily how we need to go every week wouldn’t be an accurate statement.”

He might have been a Giant

DeSean Jackson has played 16 games against the Giants in his career. The equivalent of a full season. In that span he has caught 63 passes for 1,051 yards, averaged 21.4 yards per punt return, scored nine touchdowns, and single-handedly sunk the 2010 season with his walkoff touchdown. This offseason, though, the Giants may have thought they’d figured out a way to stop him.

According to Jackson, they wanted to sign him.

Jackson was a free agent and he told the Tampa Bay Times this week that the Giants made a last-minute push to lure him to the team. He wound up signing with the Buccaneers, where he’ll now face the Giants in a 17th career game on Sunday. But the thought of being a Giant rather than tormenting them was, Jackson said, intriguing.

“It was crazy to think about,” he told the Times. “New York, Tampa. I’m like, ehhh. No state taxes, weather, New York cold . . . I’m leaning to Tampa.”

Now he’s leading Tampa, too. Quarterback Jameis Winston said he’s going to rely on Jackson to provide a few nuggets of information as he faces the Giants for the first time in his career.

“Just him having a feel playing against that defense his whole career,” Winston said, “I know he’s going to have some ideas and some recommendations.”

A perfect 5-0

That’s Eli Manning’s career record against the Bucs (4-0 in the regular season, 1-0 in the postseason). A win today would give him more wins without a loss against them than he has against any other team. He is 5-0 against the Rams, all in the regular season. Other teams he has never lost to are the Bills, Texans, Dolphins and Raiders, all at 3-0.

Number, please

286: Passing yards needed for Manning (49,039) to pass Hall of Famer Warren Moon (49,325) for seventh-most all-time.

1: Player on the Giants’ roster who has scored a TD against the Bucs in his career. It is CB Janoris Jenkins, who returned an interception against them as rookie for the Rams in 2012.

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