This Giants team had huge expectations this year. All offseason there was talk of this Giants team taking the NFC East title back, this Giants team being a Super Bowl contender. This Giants offense was said to be a powerhouse after adding a few weapons, but without upgrading the most important part of an offense, the O-line. The defense was expected to be top-3, with aspirations of being the best defense in the whole league. This Giants team is now 0-3, and all of the talk of the offseason has meant absolutely nothing.
The loss to Philadelphia was truly a heartbreaker, and sums up the first few weeks of this season. After three quarters of doing squat on offense, Eli and his corps exploded for 24 points in the 4th. After a stale first 11 quarters of the season it appeared the Giants were on the verge of snatching their first victory in what was a crucial divisional game. But, reminiscent of past Giants teams, they did everything they could to somehow manage to lose. Some bone-headed mistakes, penalties, and poor coaching decisions eventually led to rookie Jake Elliott hitting an improbable 61 yard field goal as time expired to win it for the Eagles, 27-24.
Where is this team headed, and does it stand any chance at all of making its way back into the race? The Cowboys, Redskins, and Eagles all won this week; each of the three teams are now 2-1, whereas the Giants are 0-3. The hole New York has dug themselves is a major one, as only five teams have ever started 0-3 and made the playoffs. If we know anything about the NFC East and past Giants teams, though, is that anything can happen. The current look of this team is not good, but a few wins and it is possible to be back in the race. It’ll be tough, but don’t give up hope just yet.
So what is the outlook of this team after the heartbreaker in Philly? Do the New York Giants stand a chance in an upcoming stretch of very tough opponents? A few takeaways from Sunday:
1. Eli Manning is doing everything he possibly can
Think that the O-line performed better on Sunday? That’s probably because Eli didn’t give them enough time to allow a defender to come crashing through; Eli threw the ball, on average, in 1.86 seconds, per Pro Football Focus. That number is much faster than the league average. He released the ball without pressure bearing down on him, so although the O-line may have looked better, most credit should probably be given to the quarterback. Eli finished with 366 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions, and completed 35 of 47 passes. Is this a sufficient way to run an offense, though? It seemed that sometimes the tempo would be too fast, Eli would rush too quickly to throw the ball, and it would result in a mistake or a costly pick. Not to mention that defenses will surely adapt to the quick passes they will see time and time again. The offense came alive late in the game, but for continued success Eli needs to have better and longer protection from his O-line.
2. Odell Beckham Jr, and possibly the whole receiving corps, is back
Odell Beckham would have to be considered the most valuable player on this team; the offense did nothing until he gave them a spark. OBJ finished with nine receptions for 79 yards and two scores. Once he reached the endzone twice, Sterling Shepard then followed when he found a look and exploded for a 77-yard touchdown which, at the time, put the Giants in the lead. Shepard ended with seven receptions for 133 yards and the touchdown, and not included was a touchdown which the refs called back and many will argue was a bad call. Also it’s worth noting, Brandon Marshall had eight receptions for 66 yards. As I’ve said time and time again, he is crucial to getting looks and opening up the offense. There may be a sliver of hope for this offense after seeing Eli utilize his weapons and, even if it was for one quarter, light up the opposing defense.
3. Seriously, what should the Giants do about their running game?
Through three weeks of the season, the Giants have a total of 146 rushing yards. The Kansas City Chiefs (162) and Tennessee Titans (156) average more rushing yards per game than the Giants have had total. Paul Perkins simply can’t find holes in the rare instance the O-line will present him with one, and Orleans Darkwa suffered a back injury, although the coaching staff won’t let him see the field anyway. The Giants rush for an average of 15.7 attempts a game, by far the lowest mark in the NFL. Yes, the offense is centered around the passing attack, but the rushing game badly affects the offense as a whole.
4. The Giants are once again finding ways to lose
During the 4th quarter at Philly, the Giants had a victory in their hands. Much like a couple years ago, though, they found ways to lose. Some terrible mistakes (Shane Vereen going out of bounds, penalties on the O-line, Brad Wing botched punt) led the Eagles to kick the game-winning field goal. The Eagles wouldn’t even have had the chance to kick a game-winner if Ben McAdoo wouldn’t have gone for it on 4th down on a couple occasions early in the game and accepted to take points of his own instead. Lack of discipline, poor play-calling, and poor decisions by coaches and players alike badly hurt the Giants on Sunday. Either they get things straight, or else the season will be over in an instant.
5. What is the true Giants defense?
Through three weeks, the Giants have given up the most rushing yards per game in the league (153.33). The front four made up by Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson/Jay Bromley, and Jason Pierre-Paul was supposedly considered one of the best in the NFL. On the flip side, the secondary has allowed just 181 passing yards per game, sixth best in the league. It is worth mentioning the defense has been on the field for an average of 34:51 per game, the most in the league. Maybe the defense has had its ups and downs, but surely everyone can agree it’s not the main problem with the Giants.
Up next is a date with the Tampa Bay Bucs, who just came off a loss to Minnesota. Expect the Giants secondary to have its biggest test yet against Jameis Winston and his loaded receiving corps, including Mike Evans and old friend Desean Jackson. Matchups with the Broncos, Seahawks, and Chiefs are on the horizon, but to have any hope this team must take the season one game at a time by now. Not all hope is lost… for now.