It wasn’t too surprising when the New York Giants offense sputtered without Odell Beckham Jr. in Week 1, but Monday night’s 24-10 loss to the Detroit Lions exposed some huge problems that go way deeper than Beckham’s health.
This offense is rotten to the core, and it’s hard to see any quick fixes.
With the Giants now 0-2, a return to the playoffs is looking like a distant proposition. The defense still played well, holding Matthew Stafford to just 122 passing yards, the lowest total of his career. But none of that matters as long as the offense plays limp, lifeless, dull football. It’s been a running trend for a while now — New York hasn’t reached 20 points since Week 12 of the 2016 season, an eight-game streak that continued this week.
Let’s count all the ways in which the Giants’ offense failed Monday night.
No running game
I’m not entirely sure what head coach Ben McAdoo is trying to accomplish with this backfield, but the three-man committee is simply not working. Paul Perkins, Shane Vereen, and Orleans Darkwa combined for 55 yards on 16 carries, averaging a “robust” 3.4 yards per carry. The biggest run of the night was a 12-yard end-around by wide receiver Sterling Shepard.
The Giants haven’t had a 1,000-yard running back since Ahmad Bradshaw in 2012, and it doesn’t look like that will be changing any time soon. Eli Manning has a hard enough time without his backfield being unable to take any pressure off the passing game.
Of course, it’s not like the running game is getting helped by the offensive line, which is giving the Seattle Seahawks a run for the title of “worst line in football.”
Ereck Flowers is not a left tackle
Can we just end this experiment already? The 2015 first-round pick was a raw project coming out of college, and he’s just getting worse by the year. Flowers was an abject disaster on Monday, giving up three sacks to Ezekiel Ansah and getting beat like a drum all night:
Get Flowers off the field before Eli dies. pic.twitter.com/1Dp7Gt4zoe— Ƒunhouse (@BackAftaThis) September 19, 2017
Manning absorbed five sacks in total, and it honestly could’ve been much worse. This line simply makes it impossible for the offense to do anything productive.
But even when Manning gets time, he’s not getting helped by his receivers.
Brandon Marshall probably doesn’t have it anymore
Marshall’s contribution in Week 1: four targets, one catch. His contribution in Week 2: five targets, one catch, and a brutal drop that for all intents and purposes ended the game:
Down 17-10, that third-down drop was the Giants’ best chance at getting into scoring position and making it a game again. Instead, they had to punt, gave up a punt return touchdown, and that’s all she wrote.
The Giants do have some promising weapons in Shepard and rookie tight end Evan Engram, who led the team with 49 yards on four catches. Beckham had a quiet night (four catches, 36 yards), but that was probably expected after he missed almost a month of practice with a sprained ankle.
At 33 years old, Marshall simply doesn’t have much left in the tank. The Giants thought they could have a killer one-two punch with Beckham and Marshall, but Marshall has been more of a liability than an asset.
Speaking of aging veterans who don’t look like they have much left ...
Eli Manning’s decline phase is here
We can’t ignore it anymore, and neither can the Giants. Eli is 36, didn’t look great last season, and has been straight-up bad through two games. He’s a bigger statue than ever in the pocket, compounding the pass protection issues. His throws were scattershot, lacking much zip or accuracy. On Monday, he completed 68.7 percent of his passes (22-of-32), but for only 239 yards — largely dumpoffs or checkdowns. His early connection with Engram has been one of the few bright spots, but otherwise it’s been ugly.
This wouldn’t be the first time a Manning suddenly fell off the cliff — we all saw what happened to Peyton in 2015 — so if Eli is heading into the twilight of his career, the Giants need to be serious about an eventual succession plan. Signing Geno Smith and drafting Davis Webb in the third round won’t cut it.
Now or never to save the season
It’s a popular stat that likes to get passed around on Twitter — only a small percentage of NFL teams start 0-2 and make the playoffs. The exact number changes depending on what parameters you set, but OddsShark tracked recent trends and found that 9 percent of teams since 2007 have made the playoffs after going 0-2.
Is that an overblown narrative? Probably, and the Giants would be the first to tell you. The last time they started 0-2 was in 2007, and that team went on to win the Super Bowl. I doubt many fans even remember that 0-2 start after the fact.
So no doubt there’s time to right the ship, but that time has to start right now. This offense has too many fatal flaws to settle for business as usual, and the defense can’t do it all by itself. It’s on McAdoo, and this staff to figure out a solution before the Giants spin out into a lost season.