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Five things we learned from the Giants’ soggy loss to Arizona Cardinals

What can we take away from the Giants’ third straight loss?

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at New York Giants Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants fell to the Arizona Cardinals 27-21 in a raw, rainy, sloppy mess of a game on Sunday.

Things started out bad for the Giants in the first quarter, but it looked as thought they might rally and engineer another come-from-behind victory against another young team trying to find its way.

But the game did not go the Giants’ way and a combination of poor play and poor decisions lead to the Giants dropping their third straight game. There were definite positives from the game, but there were some glaring problems that need to be acknowledged and addressed if this team is going to take strides forward.

So, let’s look at what we learned.

Pass protection is a serious issue

Daniel Jones has been under fire since he took over the starting job from Eli Manning, but a combination of quick passes and some scrambling had kept the Giants’ sack total to just 12 in 6 games entering Week 7.

They nearly doubled that total against Arizona as Chandler Jones had his way with the Giants’ tackles and racked up four sacks, with the Cardinals picking up eight sacks total. And even beyond the sacks, the Cardinals had 12 quarterback hits. Even with the relatively low sack total coming into the game, the Giants’ quarterbacks have consistently been under pressure throughout the season.

Jones hasn’t helped his line out any. He is still holding the ball too long, hesitant to give up on a play that isn’t there. It’s also true that the Giants face good pass rushers on a weekly basis this year, and the offensive line has its work cut out for it. But given what the Giants have invested into their offensive line, they are not getting their money’s worth.

Too many turnovers. Again.

Turnovers have been the bane of the Giants’ offense this year. They came into this week with the second-worst turnover differential in the league at -7 through six games. This game they gave the ball away three more times, dropping their turnover differential to -10 on the season, 31st in the league and just ahead of the Miami Dolphins (who have -11).

Ball security has been a problem for Jones since the preseason. Early on he was plagued by fumbles, but those seemed to subside as he settled into his starting role, but he struggled with interceptions and throwing into traffic against the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots. Against Arizona, the Giants gave up the ball three, nearly four times, as Jones threw an interception and fumbled three times.

Jones had his moments during the game and made some nice plays, and a certain amount of slack is due a rookie quarterback thrust into the starting role. However, that these issues continue to plague him is something that has to be acknowledged. Rookies are expected to make mistakes, that’s how they learn, but mistakes become problems when they keep repeating and don’t seem to be getting any better.

The Giants’ ball security (or lack thereof) is getting to the point where it needs to be viewed as a problem and addressed as such.

“Interesting” game management

Greg Olsen was being remarkably polite following the sequence which lead up the two-minute warning. The Giants called a time out with roughly four and a half minutes left, then a draw play on third and 18 to bring up fourth down on their own 30-yard line. That brought up fourth-and-15, and the aforementioned sack-fumble of Jones.

This isn’t the first time Pat Shurmur has made questionable decisions regarding the clock and game management.

Kliff Kingsbury made his own questionable decisions at the end of the game, but at least he is a rookie head coach with a rookie quarterback. Shurmur has a rookie quarterback too, but he was hired to be the experienced coach who has already cut his teeth and gone through these growing pains.

We talk plenty about the decision making of players, but this is something that is on Shurmur alone and something he must improve.

The dropsies reared their Ugly head

Evan Engram had been sure-handed throughout the 2018 season and into the 2019 season, but his problems with drops from his rookie season reappeared against the Cardinals. Saquon Barkley dropped a potentially crucial pass at the end of the game, and Golden Tate tried to body-catch a ball a few plays earlier only to have it knocked away.

Maybe the rain was a problem — the Giants’ receivers had all made the curious decision to ditch their hyper-tacky gloves in favor of bare hands. Handling the ball was likely at least part of the Cardinals’ decision to run the ball almost exclusively in the second half. It was a soggy, sloppy game and the ball had to be slippery and players were covered in the rubber beads which line the field. These conditions were far from ideal and that is going to have an effect on the game.

But still, receivers are, first and foremost, paid to catch the ball. Even in bad conditions, and especially in big moments.

Conditions in the Meadowlands are going to be spotty at best from here on out, and the Giants can’t let them limit their ability to play.

The defensive front needs to carry this defense

Kyler Murray was coming off of a 340-yard game and only had 104 yards passing against the Giants. Ordinarily that would be a huge win for the defense.

The problem is that the defensive front let backup running back Chase Edmonds run for 126 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries — each of his touchdowns going for at least 20 yards.

The Giants need their defensive front, and defensive line in particular, to be the strength of this defense. They need their big guys up front to get pressure on the opposing quarterback, protect their linebackers in the run game, and take pressure off of their secondary. That didn’t happen this game, and the Giants’ defense struggled to get off the field on third down throughout the game.

The Cardinals obviously committed to running the ball in the second half, and the Giants’ ultimately began sitting on their perimeter runs to good effect but the damage was already done by that point. It’s worth noting that the Cardinals’ scheme made diagnosing their play and being in position to make a good stop difficult at best. But even though, the Giants’ best bet on defense was to stop the run and force Kyler Murray to throw in the rain, and they weren’t able to do that consistently.