Good morning, New York Giants fans!
New York Giants (0-4)
The only winless team in the worst division in football over the past 35 years. The worst team in football since the start of 2017 and the sixth worst since winning its last Super Bowl in 2011. Years of bad drafts, free-agent band-aids and ill-advised coaching decisions have led the Giants to where they are in 2020, but they don't explain their entire story. It would be one thing if they were simply bad. What might be even worse, given what they've invested on offense over the past three years, is that they're boring.
Take Sunday's 17-9 loss to the Rams. The Giants ranked 18th in defensive DVOA heading into Week 4, but against a Rams team that had looked explosive over the prior two weeks, cornerback James Bradberry and the secondary did a really good job. Los Angeles scored 17 points on nine meaningful possessions, and after an early touchdown, coordinator Patrick Graham's defense bunkered down and kept the Rams quiet before Cooper Kupp sealed things with a 55-yard touchdown. Teams that have allowed exactly 17 points in a game are 238-80 (.723) over the past decade. The only organization with a losing record in those games is, of course, the Giants. They're now 3-5.
For the second week in a row, they could not muster up a single touchdown, marking the first time they've gone consecutive weeks without an offensive touchdown since 1998. The Giants have three offensive touchdowns, the fewest in the league; the only other team that doesn't have at least seven offensive scores is the Jets, who might be the one team the Giants are embarrassed to be compared to right now.
The entire division smells. Washington, whose only win is against Philadelphia and is 1-3 on the season, is in second place. Also at 1-3 is Dallas, a team that needed a miraculous comeback win against Atlanta to avoid starting 0-4. Pulling up the rearest of rears is the Giants, who have scored the fewest points in the NFL. Only five teams have turned the ball over more than seven times—four of those are in the NFC East, and the division has been outscored by 125 points already through four games. The AFC East is the only other division to be outscored by even 25.
It’s not on Graham or the defense to shoulder the blame for an offense that is averaging a league-low 11.7 points per game through four weeks and is mired in the midst of a two-plus game drought without scoring a touchdown.
For as much criticism as offensive coordinator Jason Garrett deserves for a quarter of a season’s worth of unimaginative game plans and overseeing Jones’ dramatic regression in his second NFL season, Graham deserves credit for instilling a tenacity in a young defense that entered Sunday ranked 13th in the NFL and allowed the second-fewest points of any team across the league in Week 4.
The Giants already have some foundational centerpieces on defense, such as cornerback James Bradberry, defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence. Graham already has some key young players like linebacker Lorenzo Carter and defensive end Leonard Williams who could ultimately power the Giants when the talent level rises across the rest of the roster, especially on offense.
So much for Garrett padding his résumé for a shot at becoming a head coach again. The former Cowboys coach can’t get his unit on track and can’t produce any explosive plays in a league that is scoring points at a record pace.
The Giants (0-4) came into Sunday averaging 12.7 points per game, second worst behind the New York Jets. That now dips to 11.75 points per game, worst in the NFL through four weeks. Their last touchdown came almost nine quarters ago.
The problems are many. There are no big plays. The Giants didn’t complete a pass of 20 or more yards until Darius Slayton made a big play late in the four quarter. They have just nine pass plays of more than 20 yards this season, among the worst in the league.
They also remain a mess in the red zone, in part because of their league-worst running game. The Giants went 0-for-3 in the red zone against the Rams. They entered Sunday with the second-worst red zone efficiency at 33%, trailing only the Jets.
Garrett’s playcalling has been unimaginative. Even after a week of practicing some trick plays, they were left in the bag on Sunday.
“His biggest flaw is he doesn’t play with his feet in the ground,” NFL Network film analyst Brian Baldinger told The Post. “He’s always hopping, and he’s always on one foot. It’s the same way he played [in college] at Georgia. So it doesn’t matter how big he is or how athletic. It’s actually a curse because he constantly is off-balance.”
In case you missed it
- ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ review of Giants-Rams: Defense up, offense down
- Giants roster moves: Bachman’s back!
- No team discipline expected for Giants’ Golden Tate, Joe Judge says
- Giants head coach Joe Judge defends fourth-down decisions
- Hear it! How Joe Judge, Giants players reacted to Sunday’s loss
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