The New York Giants lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 23-17 on Monday Night Football. This loss not only drops the Giants to 2-11, but also extends their losing streak to nine consecutive games. This marks the third time in franchise history that the Giants have lost nine games in a row. The first time was from Sept. 9, 1976 to Nov. 7 of the same year. The second spanned two seasons, going from Nov. 9 of 2003 to Sept. 12 of 2004. Each time, the respective losing streak cost the Giants’ coach his job.
This time the Giants were in control of the game heading in to half-time, sprinting out to a 17-3 lead over the Eagles after a dominant performance starting in the middle of the first quarter and extending through the second quarter. However, the Giants just couldn’t put the game away, despite the Eagles being down almost their entire receiving corps, as well as their best offensive lineman.
We’ll get to the other things we learned from this game in a moment, but I’ll let Kim Jones sum up the biggest thing the Giants confirmed for us this game:
The Giants can’t have anything nice
You could be forgiven if you didn’t recognize the Giants’ offense going in to the second half. Because, frankly, what we saw from the second half of the first quarter to halftime was almost unrecognizable from the offense we have seen for most of the last two seasons.
Eli Manning was accurate, efficient, in rhythm, and and routinely taking shots downfield.
After the first two quarters of football, we learned a couple things we already knew: First, the Eagles’ secondary is just not good and ripe for exploitation. The second is that Eli Manning is a gun-slinger, and is at his best when he is given opportunities to attack downfield. That was what the Giants were doing from the second half of the first quarter and into half-time. They let Manning get in rhythm, while also allowing him opportunities to attack downfield. They found a fantastic match-up of Darius Slayton against Ronald Darby and Eli was able to exploit it several times for huge gains and a pair of touchdowns. After the first half, Eli was leading the NFL in intended air yards, second in completed air yards, yet was still seventh in time to throw (per NextGenStats for Week 14).
We didn’t see much of that in the second half, and the Giants finished the game with just 23 more yards and no points.
Where did the offensive play calling from the first half go? Why didn’t the Giants go back to Slayton or try to get Saquon Barkley matched up on the Eagles’ suspect linebackers and defensive backs in space? The Giants aren’t a great team, but they also aren’t completely devoid of talent. They have players, they just can’t seem to consistently put them in position to make plays — nor stay with things that work.
Tight ends are uncoverable
The Eagles had all of one wide receiver available by the end of the game — and that receiver was a converted quarterback. It also didn’t matter because they had three tight ends available, as well as a trio of running backs. And the Giants once again proved that when push comes to shove, they can’t cover tight ends.
That was put on clear display as Wentz found Ertz wide-open in the back of the endzone for the game winning touchdown. Three of the Eagles’ four leading pass catchers were tight ends, with Ertz leading the way (9 of 13 for 91 yards and 2 touchdowns), Dallas Goedert coming in third (3 of 6 for 41 yards), and Joshua Perkins trailing just behind with 5 catches on 5 targets for 37 yards.
It’s far too late to say that the Giants need to get their issues with tight ends fixed for this year. But whomever is piecing together the roster and coaching the defense next year needs to take a long look at how tight ends are used, and defended, around the league.
Boston Scott re-exposed the Giants’ issues with tackling
You could be forgiven if, when Boston Scott first touched the ball you asked “Who the deuce is Boston Scott?”
Well, the second-year sixth round pick introduced himself with a terrific 16-touch (10 carries, 6 receptions on 6 targets), 128-yard (59 rushing, 69 receiving), 1 touchdown performance, and did so on the prime time national stage.
But what makes that stat line painful is that on almost every one of those touches, the Giants had the opportunity to limit the damage. Or at least they could have limited the damage if they had consistently tackled well and brought Scott down at first contact. But the Giants made the 5-foot-6, 203-pound 2018 sixth-round pick look like the second coming of Darren Sproles.
The Giants are going to need to work on the fundamentals of tackling over the coming off season, and that goes for the veterans as well as the rookies. There is no excuse for Alec Ogletree’s whiffed attempted-sack of Carson Wentz.
The Giants stay in control of the “Chase for Young”
If there’s a silver lining to the Giants losing a game against the Eagles they were dominating, in Philly, and dropping Eli Manning’s career winning percentage below .500, it is that they retain control of the second overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
That pick should be used to make Heisman contending EDGE Chase Young the next great Giants’ pass rusher. The Giants have struggled to create consistent pressure, and that showed up this game, with Markus Golden’s only sack coming on a play in which he wasn’t blocked, while Oshane Ximines two sacks came against a backup right tackle.
With the Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, and Detroit Lions all losing this weekend, the Giants were in legitimate danger of potentially dropping as low as fifth overall and losing the opportunity to add the dynamic pass rusher their defense so desperately needs. A loss is never a good thing, but in this case it might be better for the franchise in the long run.