The New York Giants were utterly disappointing in the first half of the season. The first seven games of the season can’t be described as anything other than disappointing, from the offense, defense, and special teams.
The Giants have had failures and mistakes in the front office, on the coaching staff, and on the field. But nowhere have they been more jarring than on the defense, where they are, quite simply, too talented to be playing this poorly.
The bye week presents a break in the season, a chance for the players to step away and put the first half of the season behind them. Can the Giants’ defense come out of that bye week and play to the level of which we know they are capable?
They’ll get the chance to show exactly that against the Los Angeles Rams, who are fielding one of the best offenses in the NFL.
By the numbers
Passing Yards - 127.6 yards per game (6th)
Rushing Yards - 241.6 ypg (13th)
Total Yards - 369.1 ypg (9th)
Points - 30.3 ppg (2nd)
Passing Yards - 120.7 ypg (23rd)
Rushing Yards - 258.7 ypg (27th)
Total Yards - 379.4 ypg (27th)
Points - 22.3 (17th)
Play with pride
We have to start with the suspension of Janoris Jenkins.
We knew he wasn’t at the facility to start the week, but at the time it was said that he was excused for personal reasons and would be back for practice on Wednesday. The next day it came out that his absence wasn’t excused and the team hadn’t heard from him — and he was suspended indefinitely.
This is the third time a starting corner has been disciplined by the coaches. First Eli Apple was benched, then Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie briefly left the team, now it is Janoris Jenkins.
The players have to be frustrated right now. They came in to the season with Super Bowl aspirations, and promptly fell flat on their face, and for all intents and purposes, out of the play-off race by Halloween. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t have anything left to play for.
We will find out Sunday which players show up and play with heart and desire, for personal pride and to not let their teammates down.
This may be a lost season, but whether or not the team can play for themselves and each other will go a long way to determining how much hope there is going forward.
Stop the run
Jared Goff is like a different player compared to his rookie season — what little of it he spent on the field. Part of that is the addition of Andrew Whitworth and offensive weapons to throw to, but he is also helped by the resurgence of Todd Gurley.
The best friend of a young quarterback, any quarterback really, is a strong running game. And in Gurley the Rams have a good young runningback, a complete back who can not only keep the offense on schedule, but be a legitimate playmaker. Gurley is clearly the Rams’ leading rusher, though his 4.3 YPC average isn’t spectacular, he does have five rushing touchdowns. As well, he is their second leading receiver, with 27 catches (tied for first on the team), for 293 yards (third), and three touchdowns (tied for first).
The Giants have historically struggled with receiving threats out of the backfield, and combined with his physical ability exploiting undisciplined tackling, he could pose a real problem for the defense.
Can they get off the field?
This is a question the Giants have repeatedly failed to answer in the affirmative throughout the season. The defense was expected to be dominant, a sturdy crutch upon which the team could lean while Odell Beckham Jr. healed from his pre-season injury, the new pieces were integrated, and the offense gelled. Neither of those things happened.
The offense has yet to really come together, and the defense has only flashed the ability to play up to it’s ability. A big part of that has been an an inability to get off the field. Between untimely penalties, a lack of discipline in tackling, coverage breakdowns, and an inability for the pass rush to get home when it needs to, the defense has consistently allowed offenses chances to stay on the field.
Last game the Giants, led by Jason Pierre-Paul, got consistent pressure on Russell Wilson, but simply could not manage to bring him down, and repeatedly paid for it. As of this writing, they have re-signed defensive end Devon Taylor and promoted Jordan Williams from the practice squad. It remains to be seen whether or not they will be able to generate any pressure on Goff. With the sub-plot of going against Whitworth — whom many were calling for the Giants to sign in the off-season — the pass rush and ability to get off the field takes on even more significance.