Off to a 0-4 start, the Giants have a lot to work on if they want any chance of making the playoffs
After Sunday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the New York Giants have fallen to 0-4 a quarter of the way through the season. Since beginning the season as the NFC East favorite over the 13-3 Cowboys, the Giants have slid to one of four winless teams in the league, with a four percent chance of making the playoffs.
Many still believe the Giants can bounce back, but their rough start has not been a fluke. New York owns the fourth worst point differential, and their closest loss of the season was against a very average Bucs team. Their issues are on both sides of the ball, as the team has not scored more than 24 points in a game and has not allowed fewer than 19 points in a game.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Giants have severely underperformed. The team reloaded on defense during the 2016 offseason, acquiring defensive linemen Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon and cornerback Janoris Jenkins, as well as using their first round draft pick on cornerback Eli Apple.
The offseason spending proved successful last season, as they allowed the second fewest points in the league. This season, however, the defense has looked lost numerous times, and ranks 25th in points allowed.
Here is an example of the defense missing plays in a Week 3 matchup against the Eagles:
Eagles running back Corey Clement takes a 15-yard run to the end zone, breaking two tackles along the way. Had the Eagles been farther away, Clement would have likely burst into open field for a long run.
The star-studded Giants’ secondary has been committing penalties and leaving receivers open in coverage all season long. Against the Eagles, Apple committed two costly pass interference penalties in the second half of the 27-24 loss. On the Eagles’ last drive, Apple misplayed a 19-yard pass to Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffrey that put Philadelphia in position to kick the game-winning field goal.
On offense, the team has been even worse. The Giants have scored the second fewest points of any team through Sunday night. The only team with fewer points is the Miami Dolphins, who have only played three games. The other teams to have played three games as of Sunday night, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Washington Redskins, and the Buccaneers, have all scored more points than the Giants in one fewer game.
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s Week 1 absence proved how valuable he is to the offense. In that game, the team produced a grand total of 255 yards and zero touchdowns, with no receiver gaining more than 55 yards.
This offseason, the Giants acquired six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall in the hopes of taking some pressure off Beckham in the passing game and providing quarterback Eli Manning with another reliable weapon. So far, Marshall has not shown up this season and has fewer than 100 receiving yards and no touchdowns through four games. Part of the explanation could be Marshall’s abysmal catch rate, as he has only caught 10 of the 20 passes thrown to him.
The most disappointing part of the Giants’ offense has been their run game. Second-year running back Paul Perkins was named the starter for this team back in May, but so far has played miserably through four games. Perkins has only 61 yards total on the season with an average of 1.9 yards per carry. After rushing nine times for only 13 yards against the Bucs, Perkins was benched in favor of backup running back Wayne Gallman.
Despite allowing an average of over 100 rush yards per game this season, the Giants have not eclipsed 100 rushing yards in a game yet. Not all of this is the running backs’ fault, though. The Giants’ offensive line has been well below average in run-blocking, ranking 26th in the league in adjusted line yards by Football Outsiders. Right tackle Bobby Hart has been injured, and guard Justin Pugh has had to slide over and make do at the tackle spot. In addition, former ninth overall pick Ereck Flowers has struggled throughout his career at the left tackle spot, displaying poor blocking throughout this season.
At 0-4, the New York Giants are in panic mode. With such high expectations coming into the 2017 season, the Giants have not been able to find a rhythm, and head coach Ben McAdoo finds himself on the hot seat in just his second season at the helm.
The Giants are nowhere near mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but in order to start winning games, the defense needs to cut down on errors, and quarterback Eli Manning must start connecting with his offense.
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