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Giants vs. Eagles: 4 things we learned as Giants’ season implodes in blowout loss to Eagles

A couple bright spots, but the Giants’ season is all but over

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

The New York Giants lost 34-13 o the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday. They fell to 1-5, all but ending their season before October is even half over. Each week we have looked for the games to tell us things about the 2018 Giants, and on a short week, against a division rival, with their season on the line, this game was going to be the most instructive yet.

Unfortunately, we didn’t learn much that is positive.

The Giants WANT to play conservative offense

One of the things about football on a short week is that it reveals the kind of football that coaches want to play.

After watching the Giants put forth a good offensive performance against the Houston Texans and the their best, most passionate, performance in years against the Carolina Panthers, there was some thought that the Giants might keep doing what they have done well.

Instead, they reverted to the careful, highly risk averse, check-down heavy offense which was utterly futile against the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints. While it’s true that the offensive line was woefully outclassed by the Eagles’ defensive line, they were outclassed by the Texans’ and Panthers’ fronts as well.

To a large extent, this was the offense the Giants wanted to run, and of the Giants’ first seven drives only two of Eli Manning’s completions went beyond the line of scrimmage. One for about one yard in the air, and another for about two yards in the air.

Gettleman’s offensive line rebuild has failed

Will Hernandez is going to be a very good player. That is the extent of the optimism with respect to the Giants’ offensive line.

Eli Manning was under siege throughout the game and was simply getting destroyed by the fourth quarter. The Giants did get a decent push in the run game, usually as a result of Hernandez’s blocks, and one great block from Sterling Shepard. However, after a mid-game adjustment, the running backs were once again being met in the backfield by Eagles’ defenders. Giants’ fans celebrated when Ereck Flowers was released, wiping away the last holdover of Jerry Reese’s offensive line. However, that also means that THIS offensive line is Dave Gettleman’s, and he bears the responsibility for it.

For all the (deserved) criticism of the Giants’ offensive line in 2017, it is somehow worse now and that is on Gettleman. Unfortunately, it’s a problem the Giants will have to live with for the rest of the year.

Apparently, the “S” stands for Saquon

I have been remarking on Saquon Barkley’s athleticism and ability as a runner and receiver for weeks now, but what he did in this game is something special. It didn’t do much good, but Barkley put his cape on, put the offense on his back and carried it against the Eagles.

The Giants had 401 total yards, 229 of them were generated by Barkley, as were 7 of their 13 points.

Olivier Vernon is a difference maker

The Giants’ defense had some problems through the first five weeks, but the biggest of which was an utter inability to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Olivier Vernon returned and made an instant impact. Working against Jason Peters, Vernon consistently got pressure on Wentz, flushing him out of the pocket and giving other defenders the opportunity to effect the pass — such as Kareem Martin’s two tipped balls. Later in the game, Vernon finally got home for a sack, raising the team’s season total to 7.

He was also a difference maker, consistently setting the edge in the run game, stopping runs around the line of scrimmage even when he didn’t get the tackle. Now he will get extra long week — until Monday night — to recover from his first game back.

That’s good news for a Giants’ team with few positives right now.