Oct 012021
 
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THE STORYLINE:
If you read last week’s game preview, I used a post from Osi Osi Osi OyOyOy in my opening statement. He finished with the words, We better win. The Giants didn’t. We all know that their season is in grave danger of slipping away before it seems like it started. Again. This really is starting feel like the movie Groundhog Day, where no matter what the protagonist Bill Murray does, he can’t seem to end a waking nightmare that keeps repeating itself.

This season wasn’t supposed to be like the previous four. We convinced ourselves this was the right head coach, and that he was really now calling the shots over the bumbling general manager. On paper, the team had a strong offseason, addressing a number of need areas, making a decent defense stronger and dramatically upgrading offensive weapons.

There are lots of excuses why the Giants are 0-3 and appear to be perhaps the worst team in the NFL. The Giants gambled on staying relatively pat on the offensive line and lost. Retirements and injuries (particularly Nick Gates and Shane Lemieux) didn’t help. In addition, injuries to many of the newcomers such as Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, John Ross, Adoree’ Jackson, and Elerson Smith sabotaged the expected upgrades. Saquon hasn’t looked like Saquon, and may never regain that form. Evan Engram is hurt (again) and unreliable (again). The expensive, high-priced secondary with tons of free agent and draft capital isn’t playing like we expected. Judge and his coaching staff had made a number of questionable in-game decisions.

Everyone has their own theory on who is most to blame. The owner, the general manager, the coaches. Personally, I’m past the finger-pointing stage. I just want it fixed. No more excuses. Fix it. This isn’t fun anymore and sports is supposed to be fun.

In a nutshell, we all know the issues. The offense doesn’t score enough points. The defense has no mental toughness, and falls apart in the clutch. The special teams have already lost one game too. You can’t win when all three phases of your team suck.

The season is not dead yet, but it is clearly on life support. The Giants have one of the toughest remaining schedules in the league. Injuries are mounting. There is little room for error now. The only way to get out of this mess is to circle the wagons, ignore the outside noise, and just focus on winning that next game. Nothing else matters. One game at a time. But win that first game and go from there.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Saquon Barkley (knee)
  • FB Cullen Gillaspia (ankle)
  • WR Kenny Golladay (hip)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (hamstring – out)
  • WR Darius Slayton (hamstring – out)
  • TE Kaden Smith (knee – questionable)
  • OG Ben Bredeson (hand – out)
  • LB Tae Crowder (hamstring – questionable)
  • CB Keion Crossen (elbow – questionable)
  • S Logan Ryan (hamstring)
  • S Nate Ebner (quad – questionable)
  • LS Casey Kreiter (knee)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
What really killed the Giants last week was the two long first-half drives that only resulted in six points. The Giants did what they were supposed to until they shot themselves in the foot in the red zone. Score touchdowns there instead of field goals and the Giants win that game.

The current state of the offensive line is due to a number of factors including front office/coaching misjudgment (mainly Matt Peart), two unforeseen retirements, and terrible injury luck (Shane Lemieux, Nick Gates, Ben Bredeson). Indeed, the left guard position appears jinxed as the Giants will have their fourth starting left guard in four games. Nate Solder has never played well as a New York Giant. Indeed, I’d rather have Peart out there taking his lumps at this point than wasting snaps on Solder, who won’t be here next year. The good news is that Andrew Thomas is starting to string some nice games together. Will Hernandez has 14 games left to make a case why he should be an NFL starter. Ben Bredeson (when he returns from a hand injury), Wes Martin, Billy Price, and Matt Skura are auditioning for the future as well. It is what it is. The front office has been scouring the trade market, waiver wire, and practice squads for answers.

One could argue that the offensive line disarray is the primary cause for the running game issues. But those watching the games can see the 2021 version of Saquon Barkley is a shadow of his rookie form. Jason Garrett says Barkley is still rounding into form and is getting better and better. I don’t see it yet. What a tragedy it will be if Saquon never consistently plays like he did in 2018, which was one of the most remarkable seasons a running back has ever had in the NFL. Barkley needs to stop dancing around, hit the damn hole, and gain those tough yards. The big plays will come. But they won’t if the team keeps finding itself in 2nd-and-11 and 3rd-and-9 because Barkley didn’t gain those five yards he should have picked up. At the same time, the coaching staff has to put him in better position to gain confidence. Get him more into open spaces. In a nutshell, help him get his mojo back.

The Giants also appeared jinxed at wide receiver. They simply can’t get this unit anywhere near full strength for even one game. All three of their top receivers are now hurt, with two missing this game. Fortunately, the Giants appear to have above average depth at the position. The Giants will now have to rely on Kadarius Toney, even though he is still way behind due to a lost spring and summer. Despite a nagging hip injury, Kenny Golladay appears to be heating up. And Collin Johnson has been a pleasant surprise. C.J. Board and practice squaders Dante Pettis and David Sills may also have to pick up the slack. On a side note, every year I fall for the Sterling Shepard hype. I want to like the guy as a player. But he simply cannot stay healthy. Every year, he gets hurt and misses games.

The tight end position has been a major letdown. Again. I’m just an average fan running a blog. How come I can tell that Evan Engram is a coach killer and this fucking front office and coaching staff (and previous coaching staffs) can’t see it??? They made their own bed. Now they have to sleep in it. Kyle Rudolph has been a big disappointment too. He was supposed to be a major factor in the red zone. To date, he hasn’t.

Which leaves us with Daniel Jones. He’s not playing poorly. But he’s not playing great either. He’s kind of in no-man’s land and in a way, that’s the worst possible outcome for the Giants right now because the Giants still really don’t know what they have in him. Is he the future of this team or no? Most fans don’t think the coaching staff is helping him out with the play calling. And clearly there are continuing personnel issues all around him on the offensive line, at wide receiver, at running back, and at tight end. Turnovers are down. Embarrassingly, but also to his credit, he’s the team’s leading rusher. But does he have “it”?

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
I don’t know why but this defense is simply mentally weak. They did a great job last week until there were 2 minutes left before halftime, then they fell apart in the clutch. Again. Same thing happened in the second half. Again. The struggling offense takes a lead, and the defense can’t hold it. With the game on the line, they collapse every single week at the end of the game. What is going on? It’s almost like they expect to fall apart, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. As fans, we all sense it too. Whatever the reasons, Patrick Graham, his coaches, and players have to figure this out soon. Jobs are on the line.

Losing Blake Martinez for the season is a devastating blow. Tae Crowder, who of course tweaked his hamstring this week in practice, has to pick up the slack. Reggie Ragland can help on running downs, but I think I would go with Carter Coughlin more at this point. While he has limitations to his game, he makes plays. I wouldn’t discount Justin Hilliard either.

The two problem areas on the defense right now are obvious. The secondary isn’t playing up to the level that was expected. This was supposed to be one of the top units in the league and one of the best NYG secondaries ever. And it’s not just one guy but everyone. James Bradberry is not playing at the Pro Bowl level he played at last year. Adoree’ Jackson was supposed to be better than this. Jabrill Peppers remains a frustratingly inconsistent player. Even Logan Ryan made mistakes last week that cost the Giants the game. Xavier McKinney? Darnay Holmes? Make some plays.

The other problem area is the lack of pass rush. Azeez Ojulari is flashing, but he needs to do so more consistently. Oshane Ximines isn’t the answer. Lorenzo Carter flashed in camp, but that has not translated to the regular season. It may be time to start using Quincy Roche a bit more along with Ojulari.

Finally, turnovers are the great equalizer. Games are won and lost with turnovers. Giants defensive players have let far too many potential turnovers slip through their fingers through the first few games. Hold onto the damn ball!

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
I don’t see what the coaching staff sees in Riley Dixon. In the offseason, I would move on from him. It’s also time to use Kadarius Toney in the return game. The Giants need points anyway they can get them.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Joe Judge on teaching a team how to win:You’ve got to cut out the mistakes that keep you from being successful. That’s turnovers, mental errors, penalties. You’ve got to cut those things out. When you eliminate those things that slow your opportunities for having success, all of a sudden you find yourself in the right position… The truth is what’s on tape… Until you get those things corrected as a team, you’re not going to have the opportunities for success that you should have. Close isn’t good enough. We’re not playing horseshoes and hand grenades. We have to have results.

THE FINAL WORD:
This is a winnable game for the Giants. It’s up to them whether they want to dig themselves out of this hole or remain a joke. No one can help them but themselves.

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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of BigBlueInteractive.com, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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