I swear I didn’t plan it this way, but when I got done with this week’s Perspectives column, I noticed how every item had something to do with O — either the letter or the number.
So let’s jump right in — and as always, comments, questions and feedback are always appreciated.
I’m not quite ready to push the panic button and declare this Giants season a continuation of last year’s disaster mainly because I really do believe the Giants know where their short comings are, and the coaching staff hasn’t yet exhausted all ideas to get it fixed.
What I am a tad concerned about is how time can run out very quickly in an NFL season. I can remember how last year every week we were told by a player or a coach, “We’re getting close” or “This is correctable” or “We’re not panicking.”
Well, “getting close” is a matter of someone’s opinion that can’t be measured in this instance as you’re either “there” or you’re not. Right now, the Giants are clearly not.
The biggest issue I have is with the “We’re not panicking” line. To me, not panicking means staying the course and doing what you planned to do.
But something that has popped up on offense over the last two weeks which has been maddening to figure out has been the team’s tendency to move away from running the ball too early.
Now I get it that when you’re behind in a game, you have to pass the ball because those plays are quicker, and you can cram a lot more plays into a shorter period of time.
So when I say the Giants have been giving up on running the ball early, I’m talking about with the game still being within reach and with a lot of time left.
The most recent example was last week’s loss to the Cowboys. After two quarters of play, the Cowboys had a 10-0 lead — not a huge deficit at that point, especially since the Giants defense had settled down by then.
Yet oddly enough, the Giants, even with their inconsistent pass protection, ended up running the ball eight times in the first half while passing 20.
Considering Saquon Barkley was averaging 3.5 yards per carry in the first two quarters of play and quarterback Eli Manning was averaging 4.85 yards per pass attempt (that mostly a result of check-down passes), wouldn’t it have made sense to run the ball a little more to maybe given the Cowboys pause about whipping out all their fancy stunts and twists against the Giants pass blocking?
Offensive coordinator Mike Shula was asked if the inconsistency by the offense has affected the play-calling planned for specific scenarios.
“I think at times, yeah,” he admitted. “I think probably anybody on offense or defense, would say yes to that question.”
While it’s easy to appreciate head coach Pat Shurmur’s willingness to constantly evaluate and adjust not just during a season but in games, sometimes if you over evaluate or change too much, that has the opposite effect of what you’re striving for.
When the Giants do their evaluations, maybe they should start with how often they’re tweaking things in-game and, if they are indeed changing things up too soon or too frequently, try to cut back on that.
Pass protection struggles
Having watched the Giants offensive line in two games now, I had a crazy theory about the right side of the offensive line and why it has not been as effective as the left side.
According to Pro Football Focus, the right side of the Giants offensive line has allowed 15 total pressures to the left’s side’s 9 (but to be fair here, the left side has allowed 3 sacks to the right’s side’s 2).
Now in my game observations, there have been more than a few instances where on the right side of the offensive line it looks as though there was a communication issue between guard Patrick Omameh and tackle Ereck Flowers during pass protection.
So that got me wondering if because both players are still becoming acclimated with playing on the right side after years of playing on the left side, are their struggles related to the fact that they’re both kind of feeling their way when they’re out there.
I took that question to offensive coordinator Mike Shula who predictably dismissed it.
“Communication probably is always key to a lot of things — it doesn’t differ with playing football,” he said.
“They just gotta continue to go over it and over it and I think with each rep in practice, they’re going to get a little more experience and they’re going to get better.”
Still, that didn’t address my question regarding things that teams do that don’t necessarily show up on film from that week’s opponent — after all, if it was that simple, then games would probably be low scoring every week because everyone would have a strong idea what the opponent as going to do.
It also didn’t address my question regarding what happens during a game, when the defense gives them a look that maybe they weren’t expecting.
“The other thing is vision,” Shula said. “If they see certain looks, they need to talk to each other and confirm, ‘Hey, this is what we saw on our film study and in practice. so this is what we can expect.’ The improvement of awareness before the ball is snapped is another thing, too.”
While Shula didn’t exactly address the original question, the last thing he said to me about awareness was interesting only because in a past column, I had questions about the quality of the preparation in the classroom.
Well, the preparation also extends to the pre-snap reads, so if — and I’m not saying this is the case — but if someone isn’t aware of what’s taking place before the snap, then then that either falls on his preparation before the ball is snapped or not having someone experienced enough next to him on that side to clarify what’s unfolding before him.
Odell gets it
If you’re still not convinced that receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has seen the light, then I have a locker room story to share.
The first two weeks of the season, Beckham and teammate Jonathan Stewart would be seen sprawled out on the floor of the locker room during the open media period playing cards.
This week, however, they skipped that practice. So when someone from the media quipped to Beckham, “What, no card game today?” he smiled and said, “We’re 0-2, man. No time for cards when you’re 0-2.”