Well, that stunk.
It’s probably a mark of Big Blue View’s commitment to being a family-friendly place to discuss the New York Giants that I used “stunk”.
The Giants’ 20-9 loss to the Miami Dolphins was just plain bad. Granted, the scoreboard was close for much of the game and the Giants’ defense did yeoman’s work in keeping the offense in the game. But let’s be real here, Mack Hollins’ touchdown just before the half had an air of finality to it. And if that didn’t, Tua Tagovailoa’s fourth-quarter touchdown to Isaiah Ford sure did.
After all, the Giants might be able to come away with one touchdown (particularly with an assist from the defense), but two?
So what can we take away from yet another stinker of a loss?
The offense needs a lot of work
I don't think anyone expected the Giants to field a dynamic offense. But seeing the Giants just spin their wheels and fail to do much of anything consistently was painful.
Late in the broadcast, they aired a graphic showing that the Giants have only scored three offensive touchdowns in the last month. Even with all the Giants’ issues on offense, that’s damning. Yes, injuries are a big issue that make figuring out the actual problems with the offense tough. But issues with execution and play selection seem to persist regardless of the players in the game.
And if we're being honest, the injuries need to be part of the evaluation. Injured players tend to get injured again, and the Giants need to know who they can count on to actually be on the field to help the team.
Getting this offense on track enough to even be competent is going to be more than "one simple trick."
Big changes are going to have to come to the Giants this offseason, and they’re going to have to do a complete, systematic, and above all else HONEST, review of their offense if they want to improve for 2022.
Will Hernandez, again...
Speaking of players the Giants need to step up, Will Hernandez didn't.
It's incredibly frustrating because Hernandez can have reps that make you think he is a long-term answer at guard. He can absolutely pancake defenders with great technique on one play. But then he can have absolutely horrendous reps on the very same drive.
Hernandez had moments where he looked absolutely lost this game. The most offensive play was Jaelen Phillips' first sack, when Hernandez pulled from the right guard to the left edge and was in position. .. When he just stopped his feet and let Phillips race past him for a 13-yard sack.
I don't think it's a reach (and probably something of an understatement) to say Hernandez is playing his way off of the team. That's the opposite of what the Giants need from a guy who was supposed to be the anchor of their interior line. Instead it's one more hole they need to fill.
I think I like Freddie Kitchens’ process
The Giants' injuries make evaluating their offense tough. That said, Freddie Kitchens' has done some things I really like.
For instance, he made up for the Giants' non-existent run blocking by using tempo to get the ball off before the Dolphins' defense was even close to set. That lead to the Giants' two biggest running plays and almost made it look like they were kinda competent running the ball.
Likewise, he added some misdirection and used two running back sets to give the defense some uncertainty as to whether the Giants would run or pass.
Maybe my favorite aspect of Kitchens' take on the Giants' offense was his use of Evan Engram. Not only did he actually make a point of getting the ball to Engram, but he tried to use route combinations to create separation for Engram.
On one play, the Giants got Engram free for a nice game with a well-designed rub route. Had Glennon thrown a bit better ball, Engram might have had a big gain. At the very least, getting the ball to Engram on vertical concepts instead of 3-yard crossing routes.
I can’t give Kitchens a “kudos” when the offense musters just 9 points. Yes, they were beat up and missing their starting quarterback, but that’s still only 4 points less than they scored with their starting QB.
But at the very least the “process” is better than it was three weeks ago, and the Giants almost kinda-sorta look like they’re fielding an offense from this decade.
Just roll with Jake Fromm
Full disclosure, I started writing this before Mike Glennon's concussion was announced. But if I'm being honest, and I always try to be, the injury doesn't really change things.
I think we saw quite enough of Mike Glennon this game, and he is who we thought he was. He was fine when the game was in hand, showing good accuracy and placement on quick passes in the first half. But as soon as the Dolphins got enough of a lead for their defense to start swarming, Glennon fell apart. And that's who he is, and why he isn't a starting quarterback.
If Daniel Jones misses significant time — I’m sure Jones is working to get back on the field, but if the possibility of nerve issues exist, I hope the Giants are cautious. Forget football, I want this young man to be able to lead a full life outside of football — I would much rather see Jake Fromm than more Glennon.
It might just be worth it to see if the Giants have a young backup they can groom.
The Giants can't rely on defensive perfection
As I said last week, the Giants need to make games ugly in order to win. The defense did it's damndest to make this an ugly game, and for a while they almost succeeded. Unfortunately, Tua was just too accurate and was able to do too much in the biggest moments to keep the Dolphins on the field.
But that speaks to a bigger problem with the Giants. They need their defense to be as dominant as Mariano Rivera in his prime in the 9th inning of the 7th game of the World Series. Not only do the Giants need every member of their defense to be excellent, but they need opposing offense to wilt and give them as many chances as possible.
I love defensive football as much as anyone, but that’s just not a sustainable way to play football. The deck is stacked heavily in favor of the offense, and any mistake by the defense or special teams can be exploited by a modern offense. Frankly, a season-long performance like the ‘85 Bears, ‘86 Giants, 2000 Ravens, or ‘02 Buccaneers is basically impossible given the current NFL landscape. The fact of the matter is that offenses win championships, great defenses just make it easier.
The Dolphins were able to stay patient this game — unlike the Raiders game — and that allowed them to do enough to beat the Giants’ defense.
Unfortunately, the Giants are in the position where they need their defense to pitch a perfect game (to mix sports metaphors) to come away with wins. That just isn’t a sustainable way to win