Matt Breida scored on an 8-yard run with exactly 10 minutes left in the third quarter of a Week 3 game against the San Francisco 49ers. That is the last time a New York Giants offensive player has scored a touchdown.
That is almost 3½ games ago, exactly 205 minutes. That is an eternity in a league where the rules favor the offense and seven teams are averaging more than 25 points per game.
The Giants have a porous, constantly shuffling offensive line. They have signed three offensive linemen off other team’s practice squads this week, and added one of their own (Justin Pugh) to the 53-man roster. They will likely be using backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor for a second straight week when they face the Washington Commanders on Sunday.
So, what is the solution to the Giants’ seeming allergic reaction to the end zone, and their overall inability to score points? The Giants are averaging a league-worst 11.8 points per game.
“Do whatever we’ve gotta do to try to score,” head coach Brian Daboll said on Thursday.
The Giants’ best offensive lineman, left tackle Andrew Thomas, has not played since Week 1 and there has been no indication he will return from his hamstring injury any time soon. Starting center John Michael Schmitz is heading toward missing a third straight game with a shoulder injury. Backups Joshua Ezeudu and Shane Lemieux are now on IR.
The Giants have yet to start the same offensive line in back-to-back games this season. That streak will continue Sunday when Pugh is likely to make his first start at left tackle in eight seasons. That will make six different starting offensive line combinations in seven games.
Pugh, 33, played five snaps at left tackle in 2021. Prior to that, he had not played left tackle since spending 151 snaps there for the Giants in 2015.
“I am just going to go out there and fight and that’s all I can promise you is I’ll go out there and fight. It’s not always going to be pretty and it’s not how this game is, it’s just I am going to go out there and battle and give it everything I’ve got. That’s all I can ask,” Pugh said. “There are going to be bad plays, there are going to be plays I mess up and there is some story of life in there where it’s like, where you get back up and you fight, you clear that play and that’s something that I think is good for anybody.”
Pugh and his offensive teammates would like to fight their way into the end zone. Somehow.
Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said Thursday that getting into the end zone is “a point of emphasis” and that there is “a sense of urgency” for the Giants to score more points.
“It’s really everything. You look at our fundamentals, our techniques ... what’s stopping us from getting points?,” Kafka said. “Is it penalties, is it execution, is it play-calling.
“You evaluate that. I’m really critical of myself on all of those things, too. We practice it, we talk about it.”
The Giants went 0 for 5 in the red zone last Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. The Giants are 30th in the league in red zone scoring, getting touchdowns on just five of 16 opportunities (31.25%).
“It’s a step in the right direction,” Kafka said. “We got some opportunities, now we’ve got to capitalize on them.”
The offensive line shuffling has to limit what the Giants can do, or even try to do, on offense.
“National Football League,” Daboll said. “We do everything we do to try to be as good as we can.”
Still, when players are shuffling positions and you aren’t certain from week to week who you have or what players can and can’t do well at certain positions, it can’t be easy to game plan or call plays with any confidence.
“When you evaluate the players you try to find their strengths and their weaknesses and then you build a game plan around those things,” Kafka said. “If something happens where one of the guys is out and you have to insert another guy in there, then you have to adjust.
“That’s part of our job as a coaching staff is to adjust and to make sure we have enough stuff in the game plan to get that accomplished.”
Again, though, when you haven’t seen players at certain positions or haven’t seen them work together — which has been the case for the Giants all season — it is difficult to know what you can depend on them to do.
“We’re evaluating everything,” Kafka said. “We’re trying to look at our offense from different points of view, from all the different position groups and figure out how we can fix it and get it right again.”
One thing the Giants did Week 6 against the Bills is stick with the running game more than they had at any time this season. Saquon Barkley carried 24 times for 93 yards, the highest total this season by any Giants’ running back.
Kafka denied that was simply because the Giants had Barkley back in the lineup for the first time since Week 2.
“I have confidence in all our running backs,” Kafka said. “Obviously Saquon’s a big piece of our running game, but I have complete confidence in all the other guys as well.
“Saquon has big-play ability. All our backs have big-play ability.”