If you want to take a glass half-full approach, you can look at the New York Giants’ offense and say that it has been twice as good as the defense so far this season. After all, the offense has played two good quarters out of 12, while the defense has played just one.
Jokes aside, everyone knows that two good quarters out of 12 is not nearly good enough.
So, what is going on with the Giants’ offense?
You can look at the situation with the Giants’ offense, pin the issues on two things and call it a day. Those things?
- The injuries to Andrew Thomas, Saquon Barkley and Ben Bredeson.
- The fact that two of the Giants’ three games have been against the dominant defenses of the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers.
It isn’t, though, that simple. Yes, the Cowboys and 49ers have great defenses. The Arizona Cardinals, though, just hung 28 points on Dallas in a 28-16 upset victory. Yes, that defense is now missing star cornerback Trevon Diggs, but they still have Micah Parsons and a dominant front seven.
So, what is going on with the Giants’ offense?
The offensive line
It’s no secret that the Giants’ offensive line has been awful thru three games.
- Quarterback Daniel Jones has been under pressure on 46.7% of his dropbacks. Only Zach Wilson of the New York Jets (51.7%), Justin Field of the Chicago Bears (47.4%) and Bryce Young of the Carolina Panthers (46.9%) has faced pressure more often.
- Jones has been sacked 12 times. Only Sam Howell (19), Fields and Ryan Tannehill (13 apiece) have been sacked more.
- Giants’ quarterbacks have been sacked on 10.71% of dropbacks, 27th in the NFL.
- The Giants are 31st in the NFL with a 34.9 Pro Football Focus pass-blocking grade.
- The Giants’ run-blocking grade (54.4) is better, but still only 21st.
injuries are, of course, part of the reason.
All-Pro left tackle Andrew Thomas played most of the Week 1 game against the Dallas Cowboys hobbled by a hamstring injury. He has missed the last two games.
Left guard Ben Bredeson suffered a concussion Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals and missed Week 3.
Thomas’s injury and an apparent lack of trust in swing tackle Matt Peart meant Joshua Ezeudu, the primary guard backup, had to slide out to left tackle for the last two games.
Bredeson’s injury, Mark Glowinski’s poor play, and Ezeudu being at tackle have left the Giants with a revolving door at guard.
Glowinski and Shane Lemieux have spent time at left guard. Second-year man Marcus McKethan, who missed all of his rookie year with a torn ACL, has played the last two games at right guard.
Right tackle Evan Neal, the 2022 No. 7 overall pick counted on to take a step forward after a poor rookie season, has yet to do so. He has given up a sack, 13 total pressures, has a poor 94.3 pass-blocking efficiency score and an overall Pro Football Focus grade of 40.9. Of 63 qualifying tackles graded by PFF, Neal is 61st.
The result is that the Giants’ offensive line has been a mess.
Things should get better for the offensive line beginning next Monday night against the Seattle Seahawks. There is no official word from the Giants as of yet, but Thomas and Bredeson figure to be back for that game. That should solidify the left side of the line.
The right side, though? That is another story.
Neal’s play has been disappointing. The Giants had hoped he would bookend the line with Thomas for years to come, but he has yet to show he can hold up against NFL pass rushers. I have long advocated for patience with Neal, but could the Giants pull the plug and move Neal to right guard sooner rather than later?
This is one of those long weeks as the Giants are in the midst of an 11-day break between games. If they want to do it, this might be a week where there is time to pull off the switch.
If Neal moves inside, who plays right tackle? The Giants obviously seem to prefer Ezeudu to Peart. It might make sense to give Ezeudu a long run there to see if he can handle that spot, or if it needs to be a 2024 draft priority.
What about right guard if Neal stays at tackle?
The Good Ship Glowinski appears to have sailed. The Giants replaced the veteran with McKethan after Week 1. In Week 3, even though Glowinski had done reasonably well filling in at left guard after Bredeson’s concussion in Week 2, the Giants chose Lemieux as their starter. Glowinski is not owed any guaranteed money after this season, and is likely on borrowed time as a Giant.
Will they stay with McKethan, the promising young guard who seems to be challenged as a pass blocker right now? Play Ezeudu there? Play Bredeson there and let Ezeudu play the left side?
Could the Giants eventually sign Justin Pugh to fill one of the guard spots?
Whatever they do, the Giants need to figure out the right side of that line. Soon.
How much blame for Daniel Jones?
Quarterbacks, the saying goes get too much credit when things go well and too much blame when they go poorly.
How much, if any, blame does the Giants’ quarterback deserve for the struggles over the first three games? When you are the quarterback of a New York (New Jersey?) team and you just signed a four-year, $160 million deal with more than $80 million guaranteed, you are going to get the finger pointed at you.
Jones has a 51.6 PFF grade while passing under pressure, 21st of quarterbacks with at least 56 dropbacks so far this season. His passer rating under pressure is 43.6. That’s not Tannehill’s 10.3, but it’s not great. To his credit, his percentage of turnover-worthy plays is 3.2, 10th-lowest in the league under pressure. Three of Jones’ four interceptions this season are balls that were in the hands of receivers only to bounce or be knocked out. Not his fault.
Jones had little chance to do anything against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1. He was brilliant, even historic, in the second half of Week 2 against Arizona, yet there were missed opportunities in the first half.
Even had Jones been brilliant against San Francisco, it is doubtful the outcome would have changed. The 49ers are superior to the Giants.
Still, there is a bottom line. The Giants paid Jones based not necessarily on what he did a year ago, but on the idea that what he did showed them there was the possibility of him doing even more.
With two touchdown passes in three games, Jones is on a snail’s pace for 11.3 TD passes this season. His passing success rate of 38.9 is the lowest of his five-year career. The Giants have scored six points in the first half over three games. They are 30th in the league in points.
None of that is good enough. No matter how much of the blame he deserves, or doesn’t deserve, Jones will be hit with a lot of it should the situation not improve. How much you assign to him is up to you.
In talking about the defense on Sunday, I questioned some of the usage of players by defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. It is fair to do the same on the offensive side of the ball.
- How much did the seemingly excessive rotation of offensive linemen throughout training camp impact the line’s ability to be ready Week 1 — and beyond?
- Why, with a makeshift offensive line and coming off a 40-0 loss, did the Giants not ride Saquon Barkley and the running game in the first half against Arizona? They ignored Barkley on their first series and he had just seven carries for 24 yards as the Giants dug themselves a 20-0 hole.
- Why has Jalin Hyatt only played 55 snaps in three games? More to the point, why did he play only 16 snaps without a single target against San Francisco? Coach Brian Daboll said the Giants had plays for Hyatt they just didn’t get to. I’m not buying that. In the second half against Arizona, they made it a point to things designed for Hyatt. Daboll and Mike Kafka deserve to be questioned for not making sure Hyatt, their most explosive big-play receiver, was involved in the game.
- What is the deal with Parris Campbell? The Giants always have a well thought out plan for the players they acquire, but I’m not sure Campbell is being used the way he — or the Giants — thought he would. Campbell was timed at 4.31 seconds in the 40-yard dash coming out of college. That is 99th percentile speed. Yet, the Giants don’t seem to be leaning into that speed. Campbell is averaging a miniscule 2.9 yards per target and 4.3 yards per catch so far this season. The longest of his 11 receptions is for 9 yards and the success rate of plays targeting him is just 31.3%. They either need another plan or they need Wan’Dale Robinson to take more of Campbell’s snaps.