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Giants at Cardinals: Can Giants offense have a repeat performance?

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What could happen when the Giants have the ball in Arizona?

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

There are just two games to go for the New York Giants. Just two games for interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan to state the cases for their coaching careers.

The Giants are coming off of, easily, their best offensive performance since the end of the 2015 season. The Giants showed a much more aggressive and wide-open offensive game plan in their second game without Ben McAdoo than in their first. While the Arizona Cardinals’ offense has been ravaged by injury, the Giants’ offense will face another stiff test against Arizona’s defense.

Will they be able to put on a repeat performance after taking the Philadelphia Eagles down to the wire?

Stats at a glance

Giants’ offense

Rushing Yards - 89.0 (28th)

Passing Yards - 222.0 (17th)

Total Yards - 311.0 (24th)

Points - 16.3 (30th)

Cardinals’ defense

Rushing Yards - 92.1 (6th)

Passing Yards - 221.1 (14th)

Total Yards - 313.3 (7th)

Points - 24.1 (24th)

Wayne Gallman

The Giants’ fourth-round rookie isn’t the Giants’ “official” lead back, but with Orleans Darkwa dealing with a hamstring injury, he has stepped up as the de facto top running back.

Fellow rookies Evan Engram and Dalvin Tomlinson have been obvious bright spots in the depressing season. Gallman has also been something of a bright spot as well, though he has been far more quiet about it. He has yet to score a rushing touchdown, but he is proving himself a capable and determined rusher. Pro Football Focus states that he picked up 24 of his 39 rushing yards after contact while also forcing 15 broken or missed tackles in his 86 rushing attempts this season. He is also proving to be a capable receiver, with 28 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown this year.

He has only picked up 369 yards on the season (4.3 yards per carry), but considering the injuries to the Giants offensive line and inconsistencies in run blocking, Gallman is showing intriguing upside.

The Giants will likely find the Cardinals as hard to run on as the Eagles, but perhaps it is time to hand him the ball as the official lead back and see what he can do with more than eight carries.

Rinse and repeat?

If there has been one constant on offense this season for the New York Giants, it is that they have been almost impressively inconsistent on offense.

They have put forward a few promising game plans this season; their warp-speed attack against Philadelphia in Week 3, their ground and pound offense against the Denver Broncos in Week 6, and their innovative (and frankly, fun) attack against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11. But each time, they have gone back into their shell the following week, with a predictable and simplistic offense.

This past week the depleted offense very nearly carried the team to victory, but for two botched special teams plays breaking the 30-point barrier in the process. It would have been the first for both of them since 2015. The fact that they did it on what has been an elite defense makes it all the more impressive.

However, the question remains whether or not the Giants will try to build on that success or go back into their very well-worn shell. The engines that drove the Giants offense against Philly, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, remain on the field. However, Tavarres King, who provided the vertical element that has so often been missing from the Giants’ passing game, is in the concussion protocol.

The Giants showed this past week that they have enough talent on offense that they can play with anyone in the league — even while missing their best player in Odell Beckham Jr. and best offensive linemen. The question is whether they will be put in a position to do so, and so far the answer has been “rarely”. With just two chances left to show the Giants, and the rest of the NFL, that they are worthy of jobs, will Steve Spagnuolo and Mike Sullivan come out swinging, or once again be conservative?

Chandler Jones

In what has been a common occurrence this season, the Giants are playing a defense that boasts a dangerous pass rush. In particular, they need to be worried about one player — Chandler Jones. Thanks to the fact that the Cardinals’ season has been almost as disappointing as New York’s, Jones isn’t getting the national buzz and recognition that he deserves, but he has a legitimate case to be the defensive player of the year.

Jones has gotten at least one sack in each of the last four games, and there have only been two games in which he hasn’t recorded a sack — Week 4 against the San Francsico 49ers, and Week 11 against the Houston Texans.

Most likely remember him as a defensive end, but has converted to outside linebacker once joining the Cardinals, shedding roughly 10 to 15 pounds in the process. The result is a more athletic and explosive rusher, and he leads the league in both sacks (15.0) and tackles for a loss (25).

All things considered, Eli Manning hasn’t gotten sacked much this season. At 27 sacks on the year, he has the same number as Dak Prescott and four fewer than Tom Brady. Much of that is due to a quick passing scheme that gets the ball out before the rush has a chance to get to Manning, such as when the Giants used it to beat the Philadelphia Eagles’ blitzes last Sunday. Even so, the Giants’ young offensive tackles will have their work cut out for them to keep Manning upright and put a third “0” on Jones’ season stat sheet.