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"Five things I think I think" about the Giants after Week 2

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You knew it was coming, so here it is.

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We will get to the "Five things I think I think" about the should be 2-0 but are 0-2 New York Giants in a second. First, a warning. If you are going to proceed with reading the contents of this week's Giants-related brain dump you had better settle in. There is a lot to talk about with the Giants, and this is going to take a while.

If you're working, shut the door to your office. Or, make sure the boss isn't in the vicinity. Or, take a looooooong lunch. If you're a college kid, get your homework done first so it's not hanging over your head while you read. Or, treat the homework like Larry Donnell treats blocking and just don't bother with it. Kids interrupting you? Get a sitter, go to Panera or wherever and plug into the Wi-Fi. Point is, you're going to need some time to read and digest everything that is about to be said. Then, you are going to need more time to agree or disagree with it. Then, even more time to argue about it. As we begin, just don't say you weren't given a heads up.

With all of that preamble, let's get to this week's "Five things I think I think" about the should be 2-0 but are 0-2 Giants.

TC will pay, and it's plain to see

Two Super Bowl titles will -- deservedly -- buy you a lot of time, and a lot of good will from the fan base, media and most importantly your bosses. It won't, however, buy you a lifetime hall pass. Even supporters of Tom Coughlin, myself included, understand that Coughlin has almost certainly reached the expiration date on whatever good will, and benefit of the doubt, has kept him in place as Giants' coach. He needs results.

Eli Manning told Mike Francesa on WFAN Monday afternoon that Coughlin told his should be 2-0 but are instead 0-2 players "it's gotta be now" if they are going to make something of the 2015 season. He could easily have added "if you guys want me to be the coach next year," but he probably doesn't have to.

Despite the two awful losses, the whirlwind of criticism and the notion that the Giants have become the butt of jokes by some writers eager to twist the knife, it is foolish to believe this season is already lost. The NFC East is a mediocre mess, and you do remember the last time Coughlin and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo started a season together 0-2, I hope.

That said, the franchise can't keep traveling a road to nowhere. If the season does go south, and the Giants continue their habit of finding mystifying and unprecedented ways to lose games -- which Giants fans know did not start this season -- changes will need to be made.

The roster, the coaching staff and the front office -- at least the scouting and personnel departments -- likely would not be immune. Whether you blame Coughlin or not, losses go on his record and sooner or later the Giants will need to try a new direction.

There are still 14 games to play and, as Giants fans have seen, anything can happen. It is too early -- at least a little bit too early -- to begin the countdown to the end of Coughlin's tenure. It isn't too early, however, to believe that the Fat Lady has begun to warm up.

I think Ben McAdoo needs to remember his own words

The first two games of the 2015 season have not been offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's finest hour. McAdoo successfully installed a new system last season with the Giants and there was -- and still should be -- great excitement over the group's potential this season. In the first two games, though, that has not been realized.

Let me start with this caveat. This is not the offense the Giants envisioned having. The Victor Cruz loss is huge, especially with Rueben Randle looking like a shell of what he was a year ago due to knee tendinitis and -- yes, I am going to go there -- James Jones in Green Bay. There is only one tight end on the roster vaguely familiar with the concept of blocking, and Daniel Fells did not play Sunday due to a foot injury. The offensive line isn't what is was supposed to be with Will Beatty shelved and now, perhaps, Ereck Flowers as well.

So, the personnel isn't what the Giants hoped it would be. And the two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback unfathomable mistakes you would have thought were beneath a player with his pedigree. Those things are out of McAdoo's control, and he shouldn't be blamed for them.

Still, the offensive coordinator has to be better at the things he can control.

The mismanagement at the end of the Week 1 loss to the Dallas Cowboys came thanks to an ill-advised play call by McAdoo, and his admitted failure to remind the quarterback to make sure he took a sack and forced the clock to continue running if the play wasn't there. Many other factors contributed, but the genesis of the breakdown stemmed from that.

McAdoo, like the offense he presides over, had an awful second half Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. In the first half of that game, Odell Beckham was targeted 10 times and caught six passes for 139 yards. Shane Vereen, under-utilized against Dallas, caught seven passes in seven targets in the first half, for 39 yards.

So, what happened in the second half? Beckham was targeted just twice, with one measly five-yard reception. Vereen was also targeted just once, making a 37-yard reception on the Giants' third-quarter scoring drive.

It's no wonder Coughlin said after the game that "I didn't see the offense" after the third quarter fumble by Eli Manning. Because right now Beckham and Vereen ARE the offense, and McAdoo didn't utilize them.

There were also a couple of curious play calls. I generally don't like picking on individual plays calls because any play that fails can be considered a poor play call, and during the Kevin Gilbride era I know that I constantly chastised commenters for singling out and harping on individual plays. Two play calls in Sunday's fourth quarter, though, should be discussed.

On third-and-two from the Atlanta 39-yard line with 8:53 to play and a 20-17 lead the Giants ran an inside handoff to Rashad Jennings out of the shotgun. Didn't work, so of course easy to pick on. The problem? Without Fells, this play required the lead block to come from Donnell. Let's understand that you have to run sometimes, and it's not McAdoo's fault Fells was hurt, but why, on one of the game's most critical plays, would you call a play where a key block has to come from a player not capable of providing it? Donnell appeared to be responsible for defensive end  Koye Biermann on the play. He never got a hand on Biermann, who engulfed Jennings in the backfield.

With 3:27 left, the Giants were still protecting that 20-17 lead. They faced third-and-12 from their own 34 after an unfortunate delay of game penalty and a first down would have gone a long way toward sealing the game. The play call? A five-yard slant to Geremy Davis for his first career catch. That MIGHT have had a chance on third-and-seven, but on third-and-12 it looked like a simple give-up play. And it contributed to the Giants giving up the game.

McAdoo was asked at the end of last season what he had learned as a rookie offensive coordinator. The most interesting thing he said at the time was that offense is about players, not plays. Meaning that you have to forget the play sheet sometimes, get the ball to your best guys no matter how you do it and not ask players to do things they don't do well -- even if the play call looks good on paper. At least on Sunday, you wonder if McAdoo had forgotten his own advice.

I think Daniel Fells' importance to the Giants is pretty amazing

OK, OK, so in many, maybe most, of my preseason 53-man roster projections I consistently had Fells not making the team. What do I know?

Thing is, it's not really a stunner that Fells made the roster. He's a seven-year veteran and a capable player, even though he was out of the league in 2013 before the Giants signed him to a reserve/futures contract in 2014. What is unbelievable is how important the 31-year-old Fells appears to be to the Giants' offense.

In Week 1, the Giants ran the ball pretty well. They averaged 4.1 yards, with 99 yards on 24 carries. In Week 2 they actually averaged 4.2 yards, but take away the 23-yard scramble by Eli Manning and they had 22 carries for 74 yards (3.36 yards per carry), including one 35-yard run by Andre Williams. By my count, they had six running plays that went for negative yardage, and two for no gain.

The biggest difference? Fells did not play due to a foot injury, leaving the Giants to rely too often on Donnell as a lead blocker. Neither Donnell nor the 250-pound Jerome Cunningham are effective blockers and Nikita Whitlock is an inexperienced fullback, making Fells more important to the running game than anyone might have thought a couple of months ago.

I think I need to defend myself

When you have been writing opinion-based newspaper columns and more recently blog posts for more than 35 years, as I have, you develop a thick skin. You understand, especially on the Internet, that if you have an opinion there are many people who will disagree with it. Often vehemently. Sometimes is fashions that make you cringe. You learn to accept that, deal with it and move on. Point is, if you can't take people disagreeing with your opinion, then don't hexpress one.

That said, yours truly pointed the finger of blame at the Giants' offense after Sunday's loss to the Atlanta Falcons, and I many both here in the comments and on the @BigBlueView Twitter timeline have disagreed. I respect and understand your reasons for disagreeing, but I want to see if I can explain my position a bit better.

First and foremost, let me clarify that in no way, shape or form should the fourth-quarter defensive failings of the first two weeks be excused. After Dallas drove for a game-winning touchdown, Coughlin acknowledged afterwards that the game-winning six-play, 76-yard drive by the Cowboys had been too easy. The same could be said for the 12-play, 91-yard and seven-play, 70-yard fourth-quarter drives by the Falcons at the end of Sunday's game.

Coverage breakdowns, receivers free deep or over the middle, not enough pressure on the opposing quarterbacks. All of those things existed. Despite the scheming and exhortations of Spagnuolo, right now this defense is devoid of playmakers. It isn't good enough -- there is too much youth and not enough top-notch talent.

Thing is, we knew this entering the season. The Giants certainly knew it. Especially without Jason Pierre-Paul. It's one of the reasons why they tried to hard to improve their special teams. It's why GM Jerry Reese said before the season that you have to score to win, that the Giants needed 28 points out of their offense to be a winning team. It's why Coughlin went for a first down on fourth-and-two at the Atlanta 15-yard line in the second quarter Sunday, a play they converted but had nullified by an illegal motion penalty on wide receiver Dwayne Harris. He knows the Giants need touchdowns and not field goals.

The Giants fully understand they cannot depend on their defense to win games. It's not a good circumstance, but right now it is reality. Two weeks in a row the Giants have left their defense in a situation at the end of the game where the game was in their hands. More often than not, that is going to be a recipe for disaster.

This is why I put the blame on the offense. Manning and Co. are supposed to be the foundation of this team, its strength. Two weeks in a row -- whether it be through mental errors, physical errors or coaching blunders -- the Giants' offense has failed to do what it had an opportunity to do. That being take pressure off a defense missing key pieces and still trying to find its footing.

Had the Giants gotten to 28 points in either of their first two games -- and they had many opportunities to do just that -- they win both games. I am certainly not excusing the defensive shortcomings, but those had to be expected. The offensive shortcomings thus far were unexpected and have been the truly disappointing part of the first two games.

That is why I put the onus for the first two losses on that side of the ball.

I think the Giants still have a chance

Former Giants Antonio Pierce says "It's going south, and it's going south quickly" for the Giants. There is criticism coming from every direction. Some of it deserved, some if it perhaps over the top. Shoot, there is even a "Cut Preston Parker" petition floating around the Internet (128 people have signed it). There is the fact that only 23 of 204 teams to start the season 0-2 since the playoffs were expanded in 1990 (11.2 percent) have reached the postseason.

The Giants, though, have one extremely fortunate thing going for them. They play in the NFC East, and the NFC East is a hot mess this year.

The Cowboys lead the division with a 2-0 record, but how comfortable can they feel that they will continue winning with Brandon Weeden at quarterback for the next eight weeks or so, and with star wide receiver Dez Bryant probably out even longer than that? The schedule-makers have given the Cowboys the woeful and Drew Brees-less New Orleans Saints as an opponent in two weeks, and also the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before Romo returns. How long, though, before defenses begin crowding the box, sending extra people, pressing the remaining Dallas receivers and making life miserable for the Cowboy offense? Can the Cowboys continue to win when they seemingly will have great difficulty scoring?

The Philadelphia Eagles that Chip Kelly built are 0-2 and look like a mess. Running back DeMarco Murray has 11 yards on 21 carries, averaging 0.5 yards per carry. Sam Bradford has thrown four interceptions already. Linebacker Kiko Alonso, acquired in the LeSean McCoy trade is hurt. Even the folks at Bleedign Green Nation acknowledge that the Eagles "looked downright awful" against Dallas in Week 2.

Maybe the only team NFC East team that feels really good right now is the Washington Redskins. Washington is 1-1 after a Week 2 victory over the St. Louis Rams. The Redskins seem to have moved past the Robert Griffin III era and have some reason to be optimistic. Still, to think that Washington is a real NFC East contender simply because they won one game might be a stretch. Although, hey, this is the NFC East.

Don't jump off that cliff yet, Giants fans! The Giants are hanging precariously on the edge of it themselves, but they haven't fallen over yet.