New York Giants’ coach Ben McAdoo said during the buildup to Sunday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers that “I think we’re ready to break out” on offense. At some point, the head coach will probably be right. His words, though were anything but prophetic on Sunday.
The offense once again let the Giants down.
Eli Manning completed only 18-of-35 passes for 199 yards and one touchdown. He was sacked three times (Odell Beckham was also sacked on an aborted trick play). Manning was also hit five times. The Giants ran 15 times for 43 yards (2.9 yards per carry). They totaled only 219 yards of offense.
“We need to complete it (the ball),” McAdoo said. “We need to use the pass to set up the run a little bit, but it didn’t work out tonight.”
No, it didn’t.
Manning was off target on several throws Sunday, most notably a ball that went off the fingertips of tight end Will Tye that should have gone for a 61-yard touchdown late in the second quarter. Tye appeared to have a chance for the ball, but reached awkwardly for it.
Part of Manning’s scatter-armed night had to be caused by the fact that he was clearly, and justifiably, not trusting his pass protection. Left tackle Ereck Flowers had an awful night. He appeared to give up two sacks, and whoever he was responsible for trying to block was constantly pressuring Manning. Right tackle Bobby Hart wasn’t much better. It was Hart who beaten by Green Bay’s Kyler Fackrell on a play that turned into a Manning sack/fumble and led to three Packer points.
The Giants at least got Beckham involved in this game quickly. After not having a pass thrown in his direction until midway through the second quarter Monday against the Minnesota Vikings, Beckham caught a 13-yard pass on the Giants’ second offensive play. Beckham ended up being targeted 12 times, catching five passes for 56 yards.
Problem was, while the Giants ere focused on getting Beckham involved, Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz were mostly ignored. Shepard caught two passes in seven targets for 14 yards and Cruz was held without a catch on just two targets.
If Sunday night’s performance was one isolated poor effort in a long season, it could perhaps be forgiven, shrugged off as something bound to happen occasionally during a long season. Thing is, there was nothing isolated about it. The Giants’ offense has yet to play a truly good game this season.
The Giants entered the game 27th in the league in points per game, averaging 18.2. Sunday’s meager 16-point output won’t help. The Giants scored more than 20 points only once this season, 27 against the Washington Redskins.
The Giants have a terrific trio of receivers in Beckham, Shepard and Cruz, but clearly have not been getting maximum production in recent games. In Tye, they have a young pass-catching tight end who showed great promise as a rookie last season. They have a stable of useful running backs.
Defense is what the Giants prioritized in the offseason, spending an extraordinary amount of money and using three of their first four draft picks to help a group that was the worst in the league last season.
Shepard, the second-round pick, and the returning Cruz are the only major offensive additions to a group that was top 10 in the NFL last year, has plenty of talent and should be able to at least match last season’s output.
Are the Giants too predictable? Has Manning simply not played well the past couple of weeks? Is the offensive line the problem? Do the Giants miss Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen that much?
Even after all those resources devoted to defense it is the offense that the Giants expect to be their bread-and-butter, the group that carries them. Right now, though, the offense is letting the Giants down.
It is early in the season, but it isn’t THAT early. If that breakout McAdoo predicted doesn’t come soon, and if the Giants can’t begin to play some consistently productive offense, they won’t have a chance to end their four-year playoff drought.