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Giants vs. Dolphins ‘things I think’: This one was hard to watch

Improvement? Without Daniel Jones, the Giants look like they are going backwards

New York Giants v Miami Dolphins
Saquon Barkley and Darius Slayton leave the field on Sunday.
Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

It is simply excruciating to watch the New York Giants try to play offensive football. It is, well, mostly offensive. The Giants’ 20-9 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday was filled with inept offense.

Bad quarterback play, play-makers not making plays, awful offensive line play, embarrassing operational snafus leading to penalties and wasted timeouts, red zone and near-red zone incompetence. overly conservative fourth-down decision-making.

Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Yes, Jason Garrett was justifiably let go as Giants’ offensive coordinator. It is brutally obvious, though, that while Garrett was likely part of the problem, the Giants’ offensive woes run far deeper than that.

Head coach Joe Judge tried the whole we’re showing signs positive spin thing post game.

Among his quotes were:

“There’s a lot of things moving in the right direction” on offense.

“There are a lot of players I saw make a lot of plays” on offense.

I don’t need to re-watch the game to know that Judge is in spin mode, probably cognizant of how bad things are but unwilling to say it out loud. Forget 30 points, which the Giants have not reached yet during Judge’s tenure as head coach. Sunday marked the third consecutive game in which the Giants failed to score more than 13.

Let’s go through some of the issues in a post-game edition of ‘things I think.’

Where are you, Colt McCoy?

Mike Glennon started out 8 for 8. Then, things went sideways. Or maybe high. Maybe low. Maybe too far behind. Too far out in front. A few yards out of bounds. On target, but into double coverage where the ball should never have been thrown. Sometimes, the ball seemed glued to his hands while his feet seemed stuck in concrete as he waited for Jaelen Phillips of Miami to hand him a fresh bruise or two.

This is the thing about Glennon, and it’s something he displayed all spring and all summer. He’s got a big arm, but there’s a reason why he hasn’t been a starter since his rookie season of 2013, and why he keeps getting passed from team to team like a hot potato.

Glennon isn’t very good. He can’t move. He forces too many throws into places where the ball has no business going. For some reason, he has a hard time placing the ball where it needs to be on the simple, short throws.

Glennon went 23 of 44 on Sunday for 187 yards and an interception. I understood the theory of why the Giants jettisoned the perfectly capable Colt McCoy for Glennon in the offseason — they wanted the big arm to theoretically create big plays the soft-tossing McCoy couldn’t deliver.

Do not, though, go look at what McCoy has done this season for the Arizona Cardinals. Skip to the next section if you don’t want to know.

McCoy started three games for Arizona when Kyler Murray was hurt. The Cardinals won two of them. McCoy has passer ratings of 119.4 and 112.9 in those two victories, completing 35 of 44 for 328 yards and two touchdowns.

I think the Giants might wish they had a do-over on that one.

I also think they will be praying that Daniel Jones’ neck injury improves enough for him to be in the lineup next Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. Glennon has a concussion, and that means we could be headed toward the NFL debut of newly-acquired Jake Fromm.

I think that might at least give us something interesting to watch.

“There are a lot of players I saw make a lot of plays”

I think Judge is trying too hard to spin something to feel good about here.

Yes, Evan Engram had a nice day. He deserves credit for that, and Freddie Kitchens deserves credit for remembering that Engram can be a weapon when he’s used like one.

Yes, Kenny Golladay looked like he might have a nice day — until Elandon Roberts swatted the ball away from Golladay out of bounds and slammed into his ribs in the process (why wasn’t that a penalty?).

Yes, Saquon Barkley had a couple of nice runs and Devontae Booker had one.

Still, the Giants scored nine points. Barkley looked bouncier than he has, but dropped two easy throws — something I don’t think I have ever seen him do before. Darius Slayton couldn’t haul in a pass that would have been a first down. Engram got all turned around on a deep ball that should have been a touchdown. Glennon kept putting the ball, and his receivers, in harm’s way.

The Giants failed in their only trip into the red zone. They could only get 16 yards and three points after getting the ball at the Miami 37-yard line.

This would have been a great game for a player like Kadarius Toney to make an impact, but Toney was once again sidelined. Let’s see, he has had COVID-19, a hamstring, an ankle, a thumb and now a combo oblique/quad this year.

This would have been a great game to have a savvy route runner like Sterling Shepard who can make chain-moving plays. Unfortunately, Shepard has spent more time sidelined with injuries (seven games) than on the field (five games).

The last time the Giants got a touchdown from a wide receiver or a running back was in Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers, though they did get scores from Engram and Kyle Rudolph after that. That’s pretty ridiculous.

Reality is, too many of the Giants’ playmakers are not playing. The ones who are simply are not making enough plays.

Offensive line ... again

How bad is bad? As horrid as the run blocking was on Sunday I’m amazed that Barkley and Booker somehow managed back-to-back 23- and 17-yard runs.

Left guard Matt Skura got benched for Ben Bredeson. The first time I noticed Bredeson, he was getting knocked on his back side trying to pass protect.

Will Hernandez? Yikes! Great guy who works really hard. Not a good player. Hernandez basically stood aside and waved Jaelen Phillips through for what turned into a 13-yard sack of Glennon. Hernandez also appeared to miss a stunt that ended up in a sack by Adam Butler.

I think the Giants have one player — Andrew Thomas — on their line who should be part of their plans next season.

Fourth downs ... again

This is an old saw, but I think I once again have to pick on Judge’s conservative thinking on fourth down.

I’m OK with the debatable first-half decisions to punt, one from the Miami 47-yard line and one from the Giants’ 48-yard line. I get the fact that Judge believed in his defense and was playing the field position game, the long game.

At some point, though, you have to stop playing the long game, stop hoping something will happen later, and go try to make something happen. That’s why I think the Giants absolutely had to go for it on fourth-and-2 from the Miami 46-yard line trailing by four points late in the third quarter.

The analytics strongly agree.

The Giants punted.

At some point, I just want to see Judge stop over-thinking these things and just let the Giants shoot their shot. Giving the ball away is never aggressive. Sometimes it is the right thing to do, but it’s not aggressive. In this case, I think it was once again the wrong thing to do.

The dysfunction is embarrassing

Week after week I think we see disorganization that just should not happen on an NFL team.

  • The Giants took a weird timeout with :12 left in the first quarter when it appeared the play clock and game clock were going to expire simultaneously. Cyd Zeigler of SB Nation’s Outsports, referees high school and college football and told me the play clock would not have been running if it wasn’t actually going to expire before the game clock. In that sense, Zeigler said the Giants’ coaching staff “did nothing wrong.” The odd part was that in viewing the game it appeared the Giants thought the game clock would run out and they wouldn’t have to run a play, but that turned out to be incorrect. They were caught without enough time to get a play in.
  • The Giants surrendered a touchdown to Miami with :26 left in the half. That came on a 14-play, 89-yard drive — Miami’s best of the day. The Giants have been outscored an incredible 52-0 in the final two minutes of the first half this season. How that happens I have no idea.
  • At the end of the third quarter, the Giants had a series that went like this: 13-yard sack (thanks, Will Hernandez!), timeout to avoid a delay of game because they couldn’t get their personnel right, 7-yard sack, delay of game penalty that left them with third-and-33 at their own 4-yard line.
  • On both Tua Tagovailoa touchdown passes Sunday, the Giants appeared to blow coverages. As well as the defense played you just cannot have those kinds of breakdowns that give you no chance to prevent touchdowns.

More ‘things I think’

These are a few quick hitters.

  • I think one thing the Giants did right was drafting Azeez Ojulari in Round 2. Ojulari’s sack of Tagovailoa on Sunday gave him 6.5 for the year, the Giants’ rookie franchise record since sacks became an official stat.
  • I think Quincy Roche — a sack, a quarterback hit, 6 tackles — and third-round pick Aaron Robinson are both keepers.
  • Oshane Ximines was inactive again, and has played one snap since his costly Week 8 offside penalty against the Kansas City Chiefs. I think each week it becomes more and more obvious Ximines has no future with the Giants.
  • This is a peek into the upcoming ‘Kudos & Wet Willies,’ but I think it’s sad when your best player is a punt returner you picked up of the NFL scrap heap midseason.
  • The Dolphins keep it as simple as possible for him, but Tagovailoa is better than I thought he was.