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Instant analysis: At 2-2, Giants have careened off the track

In midst of difficult stretch of games, can they get back on the right path?

New York Giants v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Sound. Smart. Tough. Discipline. Poise.

Those were the words Ben McAdoo used at his introductory press conference in January to describe his vision for what he wanted the New York Giants to be under his leadership.

For the last two games, the Giants have been lots of things. Those five things McAdoo staked his tenure on? Not part of the description.

  • The Giants had two turnovers Monday that cost them 10 points, a muffed punt by Dwayne Harris and an interception by Eli Manning. They had three turnovers last week and are now -8 for the season in takeaway/giveaway ratio. McAdoo has harped all season ball security and said Monday night that “the message is getting through, I just think we need to take care of the ball.”
  • The Giants committed eight penalties for 69 yards against Minnesota. A week ago they had 11 accepted penalties for 128 yards. “As a team we need to eliminate the penalties,” McAdoo said.
  • For the second straight week there was a distracting emotional outburst from Odell Beckham. Whether he deserved the penalty or not, and I’m of the belief that he did, this kind of stuff has to stop happening.

The optimism that permeated everything the Giants did in the spring and summer, and the hope that was generated by a 2-0 start, seem like a distant memory at the moment. Over the past two weeks, the Giants have looked like anything but a playoff-bound football team.

It was a nice honeymoon for McAdoo through the spring, summer and first two weeks of the season. That honeymoon is now clearly over. The Giants are reeling. They aren’t showing discipline or poise. Too many penalties and another Beckham issue are evidence of that. They aren’t valuing the Duke. Two more turnovers, no takeaways and a -8 takeaway/giveaway ratio tell you that. Smart? They had a first-half clock management snafu that might have cost them four points. Tough? The Vikings entered the game last in the league averaging 53.0 rushing yards per game. They ran for 104.

You often don’t truly find out about people until they are tested by adversity. McAdoo and the Giants are being tested now. They are ravaged by injury. After Minnesota handled their troika of wide receivers, holding Beckham, Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard to 12 carries for just 116 yards, the Giants might need to re-think their passing game. The Vikings clearly had no trouble with it. They might need to re-think the idea that defensive ends Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul are Supermen who should never come off the field to get some some rest. McAdoo might need to re-think the idea that he can run a game and call offensive plays at the same time. Colleague Pat Traina has been screaming about this for weeks, asking how McAdoo can manage the sideline with his face buried in the play card. She has a point.

The Giants have a brutal schedule coming up. Their next five opponents have a combined record of 13-5. That begins with a trip Sunday to face the 2-1 Green Bay Packers. The Giants will be on a short week. The Packers will be coming off a bye.

Clearly, the Giants need some answers and they need them soon. They aren’t playing like the team McAdoo envisioned back on that hopeful January day when he took the reigns. Do they have the players to fulfill McAdoo’s vision? Does McAdoo have the ability to make the adjustments, to change the message, to get the Giants back to playing the way they need to play to win football games? We’re about to find out.

Hall of Fame baseball player Yogi Berra used to say “it gets late early out there.” There is time for the Giants to get this right. To get back on track. Let’s not overreact to a game in Minnesota against a quality team that was always going to be difficult to win. Still, the Giants need to play better — and soon — or it will get late awfully early in the 2016 season for them.