EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — In his best play call of the night, Giants head coach Ben McAdoo strode into his postgame news conference after the Detroit Lions defense became the latest to maul his offense and said, "I’ll tell you what I told the players — put this game on me."
Well, thanks a lot, Ben.
That’s yanking the ammo out of the chamber. That’s snatching the fangs off the snake. That’s ripping the gloves off the ferocious upper cut.
Because the 77,004 fans on Monday night in MetLife Stadium had already let McAdoo hear it and let the Giants have it over their slumbering 24-10 loss to the Lions. And now here was McAdoo throwing a chop block before he could be peppered by scribes just as flummoxed, just as ravenous. This is where they all wanted to go …
"HEY BEN, WHY IS YOUR OFFENSE SO PUTRID?"
"HEY BEN, WHY HAS YOUR TEAM FAILED TO SCORE AT LEAST 20 POINTS IN ANY OF ITS LAST EIGHT CONSECUTIVE GAMES?"
"HEY BEN, JUST WHEN DID THE WEST COAST OFFENSE BECOME SUCH AN EAST COAST INSULT?”
"I was really surprised when he came in and said that to us," second-year Giants tight end Jerell Adams said. Symptomatic of the Giants foolishness, Adams caught a beautiful 38-yard pass at the Detroit 18-yard line in a mismatch with a linebacker with 7:16 left in the third quarter.
He was never targeted again.
Oh, that was also the drive where the Giants faced a fourth-and-2 at the Detroit 2 — and couldn’t snap the ball in time to avoid a delay of game penalty — and had to settle for a field goal that cut the lead to 17-10 instead of 17-14.
"Sloppy quarterback play," McAdoo said of that delay, zapping Eli Manning, lassoing him in, too, on where the fault for this offensive fiasco lies.
Back to Adams: "We’ve just got to execute better and the players that can make the plays need to make those plays. People sometimes don’t realize how hard it is, how tough these defenses are. They’ve got some freaks of nature out there. You’ve got to play the game to understand. You’ve got to be here to be there — to understand."
No, we don’t understand, not that about the Detroit Lions defense, because come on, nobody thinks the Lions have a top-five NFL defense. The fraught Arizona Cardinals last week popped them for six more offensive points than the Giants managed.
The Lions have a nice pass rush (five sacks, three by wiry and potent defensive end Ziggy Ansah). They have a couple of quality defensive backs (especially resourceful cornerback Darius Slay).
But this was more about Giants dropped passes. Giants ill-advised, ill-timed play calls. A bunch of plays being run that have no correlation. Giants lack of punch in the running game. Giants inconsistent pass protection. A total breakdown of execution in too many critical moments. Not enough riding the hot hand.
Giants lack of offensive fire.
Giants lack of offensive punch.
Odell Beckham, Jr., saw his first action of the season. He has been nursing that tortured ankle. He was on a limited play count.
"We are only going to go where we take it," Beckham said about his sleepwalking team. "So it’s up to us to; it’s in our hands."
Nope. It’s in his hands. Or his ankle. Or whatever, said Detroit receiver Marvin Jones. Jones caught a 27-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter that opened the scoring.
"Odell is the spark for that team," Jones said. "They feed off of him. When he is out there, they are different. When he’s not, well … . I’m sure they were glad to see him back tonight, for however many plays. He really changes the way they play. He ignites them with some of the things he does. And then it becomes contagious."
Maybe Jones is on to something there.
Maybe the Giants offense is and will be listless until Beckham is back and full go. Maybe.
"Maybe so, maybe not," Giants receiver Dwayne Harris said. "I think it comes down to we all know what we have to do and we can talk about it a lot. But at some point we just have to go out and do it. I think we need to be more patient and stop looking for big plays and let them develop, let them come to us. We are getting a little timid out there in just our actions.
“There were some plays made out there by our offense tonight where guys should have been more excited, that should have been more celebrated. Nothing. Football is a game that nearly everyone in here has played their whole lives. I don’t think we’re having enough fun playing the game. You have to loosen up and have some fun in these games."
The moments are big — the stakes huge. The Giants are 0-2. Each team in the NFC East is 1-1. Their offense is strangling them.
In this league, one thing leads to another. Today the Giants say they are 0-2 and it is just 0-2. There are 14 games left, they insist. True. But habits stick. Patterns develop. Trends surface.
Offenses get stuck.
And this Giants offense for some stretch now dating back to last season up to this moment is potholed.
There was little difference in the pass rush pressure Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford experienced and what Manning endured. The stark contrast was that Stafford escaped it, slid around it, ran by it, bought time, created a new pocket.
Adjustments by McAdoo must start with creating a new pocket for Manning, making the most of his fragile offensive line, and using more max protection. Getting Manning on half roll outs. Getting Manning to simply throw the ball quicker and having outlets in place for him to throw it.
"Well, we’ve just got to figure out what’s our best personnel, what’s our best style, how we’re going to be able to move the ball," Manning answered about what ways the offense can be improved, a clear indictment of McAdoo’s plan that uses many hands and many feet and many numbers. Which is nice, in theory, but not working with these Giants.
Get a core, stick with it, ride it.
When a player makes a spectacular play, give him a chance to make another one. Make sure he has the chance to make another one.
Last season the Giants beat the Lions 17-6 in Week 15 here in this same stadium. Afterward, Lions head coach Jim Caldwell marveled at how "big and beefy" the Giants front-line people were on both sides of the ball.
"Well, we have a few beefy guys of our own this time," Caldwell said, smiling, as he exited the stadium.
And a staff that outfoxed the Giants staff this time.
This Giants offense seeks clarity and production next at division rival Philadelphia.
McAdoo was brought here from Green Bay to fix what Giants ownership in recent years described as a "broken offense."
"Just too many issues," said McAdoo, describing this offense, his offense, his team’s lack of complementary football.
"We can’t pull points out of a hat," he added.
No, but his job is to figure out where to find them. How to get his quarterback to raise his level of play. How to get this offensive line to do something, anything at a higher level. How to get his offensive playmakers to make plays.
Oh, and did we mention score points, lots of points, maybe the 30 points a game the Giants thought they would average when they named him head coach? In 17 games last season and two this season, that has yet to happen. How about just getting to 20, please?
That’s all on him.
The GOOD performances of Week 2