Coming off a painful week two loss against the Detroit Lions, the New York Giants begin their season 0-2 for the fourth time in five years. This is the first time in franchise history the team has lost by 14 or more points in its first two games. After going 11-5 last season, expectations were set high. It’s clear now this team looks a whole lot better on paper than it does on the field. That’s not to say the defense isn’t still one of the best in the league, but with a struggling offense, they’re bound to slip up from being on the field so long. Here’s a look at some week two takeaways from the Monday night matchup.
Offensive Line Struggles
This Giants team undoubtedly has one of the worst, if not the worst, offensive line in the National Football League. Ereck Flowers is atrocious at left tackle and is slowly but surely burning this offense to the ground. Although meant to be a right tackle, the Giants placed him on the left side almost immediately after the draft and has been filling the position for the last two seasons. Not one of those seasons (or this season) has his level of play been any bit impressive. Critics say his technique is the biggest flaw in his work. After facing Lion’s defensive end Ziggy Ansah all night, he was completely exposed and allowed for three of the five sacks on the night.
Although disastrous as a unit, there are still a few gems left on the line, including guard Justin Pugh and center Weston Richburg. Although Richburg can’t be moved from center, it might be time for coaching personnel to consider experimenting with moving Pugh over to left tackle. Flowers is a natural right tackle and this is ultimately where he belongs. With starting right tackle Bobby Hart out with an ankle injury, this could be the time they make the leap, especially after they tried moving Pugh to the right side last night. It’s anyone’s guess as to what happens next, but the Giants can no longer afford to “trust the process” with Flowers at left tackle.
Receiving Corp Needs to Become More Involved
Eli Manning has not been playing up to par in 2017. After leading his offense to a mere 13 points total in the first two games, the Giants are currently ranked 30th in the league in points per game. Some say it’s his age, but with no injuries and 201 consecutive starts, it’s hard to imagine that’s the lone problem. Partial blame can be put on head coach Ben McAdoo for his poor play calling but with as much as experience as Manning has, he must step up his performance if the Giants want to get back into playoff contention. With receivers like Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall, and Sterling Shepard, there are simply no excuses. That’s not even including their most recent addition at tight end, Evan Engram, who’s the only Giant to find the end zone this season.
It’s safe to say the receiving corp is the clear strength on offense. So why hasn’t the team been utilizing them? Marshall has been non-existent these first few games. On perhaps one of the most important plays of the game he dropped a wide-open pass leading to a Detroit punt return for a touchdown. His role with the team is still undefined and without Beckham on the field he’s still unable to become a target for Manning.
Odell Beckham Jr. was sidelined due to an ankle injury he suffered in the preseason with a return timetable of six to eight weeks. After only four weeks of rest, he tried to play as much as he could, but was on a limited snap count and only saw action on third down or need-to-make plays. Even when he got on the field it was clear he was not playing at full speed. In order for the receiving corp to gel, Beckham needs to return fully healthy and bring back the x-factor this team is so desperately missing.
McAdoo’s Sophomore Slump
During his first off-season as head coach, Ben McAdoo received lots of praise for leading the Giants to an 11-5 season in his rookie year. There was some criticism as there is for any coach, but McAdoo proved he didn’t learn much from any of it. One of the biggest issues last year was play calling and it hasn’t gotten any better this season. Whether it’s an inside run on first and ten or a draw on third on long, the plays and formations being called are extremely predictable. Week in and week out it’s the same set of plays that don’t work back to back to back until it’s a three and out and Brad Wing is back in to punt.
Although defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo calls the plays on defense, McAdoo still holds the reins on offense. After all, the Giants had one of the league’s best offenses in 2015 when he was offensive coordinator so it made sense to let him stay in control as he was upgraded to head coach. Time has shown that this is no longer the case. In fact, McAdoo is one of the few coaches left in the league that doubles as a head coach and a play caller. If many of the great teams in the league are following this trend, maybe it’s time for Jerry Reese to step in and give the responsibility to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan sooner rather than later.
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