Giants know they must rise to another level vs. rival Eagles

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The question is not: Why is this happening?

The question is this: How did it take this long?

It was lurking behind every corner for the Giants, because they are what they are, and that they were 6-1 after seven games or 7-2 after nine games into Brian Daboll’s first year as a head coach was not going to transform this team into something it is not.

Struggles and losing was going to come, and now that they are here, Daboll and his rebuilding team must confront it, head-on, or succumb to it, wither away and roll over as the holiday season approaches.

The Eagles arrive Sunday at MetLife Stadium, and this is probably not the best time and place to expect the Giants to make a stand. Hanging in with the best team in the NFL will be a chore, and finding a way to beat their longtime NFC East rivals might be too much to ask for Daboll and crew.

Brian Daboll
Bill Kostroun

What comes after this, in Week 15 against the Commanders in Landover, Md., will factor in more keenly with the Giants’ playoff chase. What comes now with the Giants, 1-3-1 in their past five games, is a look into how capable they are of ignoring all the negativity this slide has created in order to put a better football product on the field.

“Well, adversity and criticism come with the territory,” Daboll said. “I’ve been in, not this seat as a head coach, but a coordinator for a long time, and it’s a popular game followed by a lot of people. And I appreciate the support. You also appreciate the negativity or criticism. If you want to be mentally tough and strong, this is the sport to be in, whether you’re a coach, whether you’re a player.

“And really, you can’t focus too much on that. You appreciate it. I think we’re all thankful for the support you get, but you just get back to work. There’s adversity after every loss, sometimes there’s adversity after a win. We’ve talked about that since probably April. There’s going to be ups and downs, and to stay mentally strong and focused on the task at hand, that’s not an easy thing to do all the time. But you need to do it.”

What the Giants (7-4-1) need to do to have any chance to knock off the Eagles (11-1) is locate and implement immediate upgrades in every facet of their performance. What they served up lately is not good enough, especially if they are serious about knocking the high-flying Eagles out of the cruise-control mode they’ve enjoyed all season.

Daboll always heaps praise on the opponent but it sounded as if he laid it on a bit thick this past week, all-but canonizing Eagles general manager Howie Roseman for the job he did putting together a “star-studded roster,” gushing about quarterback Jalen Hurts — Daboll was Hurts’ offensive coordinator for one year at Alabama — and repeatedly identifying the Eagles as the NFL’s best team.

Of course, nothing Daboll said triggers much in the way of argument. Finding Waldo is easier than finding a matchup that favors the Giants.

“They’re a good team … they usually have a good team,” Nick Gates, expected to start again at left guard, told The Post. “Their D-line is always going to be good, I’ll tell you that. They’ve been good the last four years I’ve been here and they’re probably the best they’ve been this year. Their whole room is stacked. They just keep bringing guys in, I don’t know how they’re doing it.

“They have a really good offensive line and a really good defensive line and usually when you have those two combinations you can go pretty far in the league.”

The Eagles could go as far as Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Ariz. They are indisputably the favorite to get out of the NFC. The Giants are in a slide and need a turnaround to maintain their hold on a playoff spot, clinging to the No. 6 seed and needing to stay ahead of the Commanders and Seahawks in the division standings.

Problem is, the Giants are struggling right now.

“No, I wouldn’t say struggling,” Gates said, “we just haven’t played consistent in our last couple of games. We just haven’t played up to our standard and what we can do. We just got to get back on track and back to what we do best.”

The task: Get back to what they do best, against the best.

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