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Giants vs. Falcons: 5 storylines for Week 3 meeting of 0-2 teams

Giants can’t afford to miss another opportunity

New York Giants v Washington Football Team Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The New York Giants host the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in a matchup of 0-2 teams. Here are five storylines to watch as the week unfolds.

It’s time to win a game

The Giants re 0-2 for the eighth time in nine years. The narratives are all nasty. The vultures are circling around GM Dave Gettleman. The media, including yours truly, is beginning to question Joe Judge. Many think Daniel Jones’ quality play thus far is a mirage. The offensive line is in flux. The defense has underperformed, with some wondering what happened to Patrick Graham’s magic tough. Even after a 29-point performance that really should have been 40 points or more, no one loves Jason Garrett.

The 0-2 start has come against two teams that had losing records last season, and are teams the Giants were capable of beating. Their own mistakes, a ridiculous number of them in fact, cost them the Washington game.

The Giants need to beat the also 0-2 Falcons, or this season threatens to spiral out of control.

Eli Manning’s jersey retirement ceremony is Sunday. The Giants wouldn’t put up a stinker and screw it up, would they?

Where did the 2020 defense go?

The Giants were ninth in the league in points allowed last season, giving up 22.3 per game. After two games, they are 28th, giving up 28.5 per game. The Giants have not been able to generate stops, especially in end-of-half and end-of-game situations.

The secondary was supposed to be the team’s best position group, and hasn’t performed to that level thus far. There has generally been a gaping hole in the middle of the Giants’ pass defense, which is 28th in the league in completion percentage allowed (75.61 percent). and 25th in passing yards per game allowed (287.5).

The pass rush has also been anemic, 27th in the league in sack percentage (3.53 percent).

“I think we’ve got to relax, and I think we’ve just got to do what we do and establish what we do. We haven’t proved anything yet this year, and I think we’re pretty good on paper,” said safety Logan Ryan. “I think we have some good players, some good coaches, and we know that. We’ve just got to go out there and perform.”

If the Giants are going to have a chance to have a successful season the defense needs to play to preseason expectations. That needs to start Sunday against Atlanta.

“The offense is actually close to being good”

Those words were written by Mark Schofield in a film breakdown he did for Big Blue View on Monday. Really, they were. Don’t believe me? Go read it for yourself.

Through two games, the Giants are 22nd in points, averaging 21.0 per game. That’s up from 17.1 a year ago. Without an iffy penalty and a dropped touchdown pass the Giants would have put up 37 points instead of 29 against a really good Washington defense. Erase a couple of other mistakes and that could have been a 40-point performance.

What we saw Thursday from the offense was encouraging. It can’t, though, be a mirage. The Giants need to continue putting up points. They need to do a better job taking full advantage of opportunities — Graham Gano is great, but five field goals is generally not going to win you games. They need to hope Saquon Barkley really begins to resemble pre-injury Barkley going forward.

The Giants face an Atlanta team on Sunday that has given up 80 points over two games. They have to be able to take advantage of that.

Center of attention

The Giants’ offensive line has, truthfully, been OK through the first two games. The Giants are 22nd in pass-blocking efficiency, per Pro Football Focus. For what it’s worth, despitue struggles running the ball unless Daniel Jones is doing it, they are ranked No. 21 in run blocking.

Andrew Thomas has been much-improved over two games at left tackle. Nate Solder has been what Solder has generally always been, an adeqaute player. Ben Bredeson shows promise of being able to handle the left guard spot. Will Hernandez has been decent at right guard.

With Shane Lemieux and Nick Gates on IR, the problem that has developed is at center. Billy Price started at center against Washington and had a rocky debut, giving up a sack and four hurries. He had an 8.7 pass-blocking grade and a 28.1 overall score.

If Price continues to struggle, the Giants likely won’t hesitate to insert Matt Skura and see if he can do better.

Evan Engram’s debut?

The Giants’ tight end has missed the first two games with a calf injury. I know some in the fan base believe that is a good thing, but it really isn’t. Engram does bring speed and the potential of downfield plays that neither Kyle Rudolph nor Kaden Smith can match.

Engram is “moving in the right direction,” according to head coach Joe Judge. Media members who saw the beginning of Monday’s practice though Engram was moving well.

If Engram makes it through the week OK, perhaps we see him against the Falcons.