Are the Giants too nice?
That is an idea that I have seen come up in a few places recently.
Art Stapleton wrote this recently:
I’ve heard it suggested this summer that the Giants have “so many nice guys,” which isn’t intended to be a knock. But that gets perceived as a roster being “soft,” fairly or unfairly, especially when the fan base starts firing off criticism on social media.
As [Antrel] Rolle used to say, winners need “dawgs,” too.
It is a point worth debating.
I wrote after the loss to the San Francisco 49ers that I felt the Giants had been “bullied” during the game. That was part of the 16 missed tackles — 49ers players just seeming to want the yardage more than Giants’ players wanted the stops. The 49ers also bullied the Giants in other ways. Trent Williams punching A’Shawn Robinson. A 49ers defender grabbing D.J. Davidson and throwing him to the ground after the whistle. Several other times I thought San Francisco players delivered unneeded shots right at, or just after, the whistle.
No response from the Giants. You would at least like to see teammates step to opposing players crossing the line and defend each other.
I thought the Arizona Cardinals, particularly quarterback Josh Dobbs and running back James Conner, bullied the Giants.
I thought the Dallas Cowboys shocked the Giants in jumping to a 16-0 first quarter lead and it felt like the response was resignation rather than resolve.
Toughness, though, is really about how the Giants play. It’s about being the aggressor play after play. It’s about tackling well. It’s about controlling both lines of scrimmage. It’s about responding to adversity. It’s about showing real competitive fire rather than resignation. Aside from the second half against Arizona, the Giants haven’t done those things. That is surprising because those were hallmarks of the 2022 Giants.
There is part of me that wonders if the Giants, confident they had turned a corner and were a contending team, were so shocked by what happened in Dallas that — even though they escaped Arizona with a victory — they haven’t fully recovered.
Right where they were expected to be?
As it turned out, there was a lot of misplaced optimism among Giants fans — and the writers here at Big Blue View — about the Giants’ starting off the season by beating the Cowboys in Week 1.
The Giants are 1-2 after three games. Honestly, that is likely right where most analysts thought they would be at this point. At least record-wise.
The difficulty, of course, is how they arrived at 1-2. They showed no signs against Dallas or San Francisco that they are near joining the upper echelon of NFC teams. They certainly don’t look like the rising Detroit Lions. They were fortunate to beat the Cardinals.
The Giants have played 12 quarters of football. They have played two good quarters of offense and one good quarter of defense. More than their record, that is the concern.
The explosive offense they thought they were building has yet to manifest itself. The defensive improvements they believed they had made have yet to show up.
So, I don’t think it’s the 1-2 record that is upsetting. It is the poor caliber of play en route to that record.
A word about coaching
I have spent a lot of time recently defending the Giants’ coaching staff. I did so in the weekend mailbag. I did so in a podcast. I toured the locker room on Friday and defensive players defended Wink Martindale.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have some concerns about certain things that have been done.
- Getting away from the run too early vs. Dallas, and not getting to it enough in Weeks 2 and 3.
- The curious use of Parris Campbell and not getting Jalin Hyatt involved vs. the 49ers.
- The amount of time Kayvon Thibodeaux is spending going backward instead of forward.
My biggest issue, though, is the way the Giants handled the offensive line throughout the summer. The biggest problems on the offensive line have been the injury to Andrew Thomas and the continued struggles of Evan Neal. You might argue with me in Neal’s case, but in my view coaching is not the issue there.
My problem with the offensive line is that I’m not certain how well prepared several players were — or are — for the roles they have been asked to play.
Coach Brian Daboll has defended the constant shuffling at guard during training camp by pointing to the fact that Mark Glowinski, a long-time right guard who spent some time during the summer at left guard, had to play there in Week 2.
Still, here is what the Giants have done:
- Josh Ezeudu spent all summer working at left and right guard. He spent no time working at either tackle spot, yet he will start his third straight game at left tackle on Monday night. Ezeudu has, to his credit, done an adequate job. Still, the super sub at four positions role is not one the Giants began prepping Ezeudu for until after building their inital 53-man roster.
- Glowinski was awful Week 1 and the Giants made the decision to replace him with Marcus McKethan. McKethan missed all of 2022, including the preseason, and played 20 preseason snaps this year as the Giants were careful with his rehab. He barely participated in any padded practices all summer. Yet, by Week 2 he was a starting right guard. As slowly as the Giants are moving with rookie defensive tackle Jordon Riley, they did the opposite with McKethan. They went from 0-100 in the blink of an eye. I like the kid and believe he has potential, but McKethan’s performance has been uneven thus far — and will probably continue to be that way. I don’t think anyone should be surprised.
- Glowinski did a decent job Week 2 when he had to step in at left guard for the concussed Ben Bredeson. Yet, rather than reward him, the Giants chose to start Shane Lemieux in that spot in Week 3. The same Lemieux who had played two games the past two seasons and spent most of the summer working as the second- or third-team center. Lemieux, as far as I can remember, did not take a single snap with the first-team offensive line all summer. Yet, somehow the Giants thought starting him against the San Francisco 49ers — with one of the best defensive lines in football — was the right move. Predictably, Lemieux did not play well.
In my view, that is how the coaching staff has contributed to the offensive line’s failings thus far.
When will the stars come out?
If the Giants are going to be a good team, they need their best players to play like their best players.
They need more from Jones. Whatever is going on around him, Jones is on an unacceptable 11.3 touchdown passes for the season pace. The Giants need more.
Of course, Jones needs help from the line. He needs more from Darren Waller. He needs from Isaiah Hodgins. If he plays, Jones needs more from Barkley.
On defense, the Giants are getting production — but not difference-making plays — from Dexter Lawrence. They need something from guys like Thibodeaux, Xavier McKinney, Bobby Okereke and Adoree’ Jackson.
Will the Giants’ stars come out on Monday night, or will they suffer yet another national prime time embarrassment?