Game Preview: New York Giants at Detroit Lions, October 27, 2019
I miss the old days where BBI game previews used to be about Xs and Os and match-ups against the opponent. Instead, for years now, the previews have become a status report on the current messy state of the once-proud franchise that only a few short years ago had won their eighth NFL Championship. At that time, it looked like Tom Coughlin was ensconced for life as the team’s head coach and Eli Manning was halfway through a sure-fire Hall of Fame career and destined for more post-season glory.
Fast forward to 2019 and the Giants are now back near the 1960s-1970s nadir of the franchise, with a 40-63 record since 2013 and a 10-29 record since 2017. Let me say that again, the Giants have won 10 games in three years.
On paper, the Giants may have two important parts: (1) a potential franchise quarterback and (2) an impact player at running back. However, after a fast start and despite continued flashes of brilliance, Daniel Jones has become a turnover machine. It remains to be seen if he can clean that up. And as we approach the midway point, Saquon Barkley is having a sophomore season to forget.
Two regimes now can’t seem to fix what has been holding this team back: (1) atrocious offensive line play, (2) atrocious defense, and (3) subpar coaching.
With respect to the latter, I wrote last week:
Brewing in the background is growing fan discontent with Pat Shurmur, who continues to make questionable in-game decisions. While it is difficult to see the Giants parting ways with their third coach in five years, especially given his “quarterback whisperer” relationship with Daniel Jones, the franchise must decide if Shurmur is capable of becoming a winning head coach. This is a big game for Pat Shurmur too.
Against an Arizona Cardinals team that had been the NFL’s worst team in 2018 and facing a must-win situation, Shurmur’s 2019 New York Giants were not ready to play, sleep walking through the 1st quarter and quickly finding themselves in a 17-0 hole that they could not recover from. In addition, once again, Shurmur made questionable game-management decisions. His offense only scored 14 points against one of the NFL’s worst defenses. And his defensive coordinator continues to look overmatched, as some no-name back-up running back did what Saquon Barkley should be doing to opposing teams.
I hate being a debbie downer. It sucks. But this team sucks. They have a coaching problem. But barring a complete collapse with multiple blowout losses, it’s pretty easy to predict what will happen this offseason. John Mara will use 2006 as a guide. Like he did with Tom Coughlin, he will force coaching changes on Shurmur, and possibly also take away his play-calling responsibilities. Mara will hope that lightening strikes twice. Coughlin looked like dead man walking after 2006 and turned it around with two Super Bowl wins. I was wrong about Coughlin back in 2006 and I could be wrong about Shurmur now. But I don’t think so. By the end of 2006, Coughlin was a .528 coach whose teams had made the playoffs six times. Shurmur’s .304 winning percentage is below that of Ray Handley and Ben McAdoo. A Shurmur-led team has yet to win more than five games in a season.
The Giants don’t have the luxury of time. I hope a year from now I am not writing the same type of game preview. I said it before and I’ll say it again, welcome to year 8 of the team’s 20-year rebuilding program.
THE INJURY REPORT
- RB Saquon Barkley (ankle)
- WR Sterling Shepard (concussion – out)
- WR Cody Latimer (quad)
- LB Lorenzo Carter (ankle)
- CB Corey Ballentine (concussion – out)
NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE
Last week, I wrote “…as long as the offensive line does a reasonable job, Jones should be able to do some damage against the Arizona Cardinals’ 30th-ranked defense. This will be a nice change for the Giants’ offense after facing the Cowboys (9th), Bills (3rd), Vikings (5th), and Patriots (1st).”
The result? The Giants offense scored 14 points as Daniel Jones was sacked eight times. Against the Arizona Cardinals!
Once again, the offensive line is playing like dog shit. They can’t pass block. They can’t run block. It’s worse than the band-aid line that finished the 2018 season. The Giants should bench both starting tackles and start playing the young guys. Yeah, they may do worse. But Nate Solder and Mike Remmers are not the answer. It’s time to move on.
Daniel Jones continues to make enough “wow” throws to cause fans to be hopeful. However, while interceptions for a rookie quarterback are understandable, the fumbles are getting ridiculous. In five starts, he has six fumbles, losing five. In all, Jones has turned the ball over 12 times (7 interceptions, 5 fumbles), the chief reason why the Giants are leading the league in give-a-ways with 18. You can’t win like that.
Barkley’s 2019 season has been sabotaged by a high-ankle sprain. But I’m not convinced that Pat Shurmur and Mike Shula know how to use him properly either, especially in the passing game.
Tight end Evan Engram remains inconsistent, one week looking like an All-Pro, the next week being invisible and dropping passes.
Sterling Shepard, in the first year of his current 4-year, $41 million contract, is having yet another season to forget. He’s never accrued more than 900 yards in his four NFL seasons. Cody Latimer has 10 catches.
The Lions have the NFL’s 31st-ranked defense. So what? Arizona had the NFL’s 30th-ranked defense. Expect more misery.
NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE
Some guy named Chase Edmonds ran for 126 yards and three touchdowns against the New York Giants last Sunday. So in addition to New York’s superlative pass coverage (sarcasm off), the Giants are now making no-name back-ups household names in the running game.
The Giants can’t stop the run. They can’t stop the pass. And they have only forced eight turnovers all year.
Management keeps importing Arizona Cardinal defenders for James Bettcher. At some point, you have to come to the conclusion that the guy isn’t a very good coach.
The Lions have the NFL’s sixth-ranked passing offense. Expect more misery.
NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS
For the past two seasons, the best part of this team has been the special teams unit. Thomas McGaughey is the best coach on the staff.
FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH
Meh. I’ve started to tune this guy out. The media is starting to get under Pat Shurmur’s skin. Look for him to lose his cool soon.
THE FINAL WORD
One of the most important predictors of team success – perhaps the most important – is turnover differential. The Giants are second-worst in the NFL with a -10 turnover differential. Only the Miami Dolphins are worse at -11.
The Detroit Lions are 2-3-1, the same record as the Cardinals last week. Teams get well playing the New York Giants. Expect more misery.