Some musings at 0-3

September 28, 2021

Another week, another loss. Another week, another frustrating loss as for the second week in a row the Giants lose on a walk-off FG on the final play of the game. That drops the Giants to 0-3, again! What makes the last couple of weeks so frustrating is not so much that you lost, but you walked away from both games feeling that you could just as easily have won both. Of course, without the offside penalty in Washington the Giants actually had that game won, while there were plays to be made at the end of the Falcons’ loss that just weren’t made. And what made the loss on Sunday doubly frustrating was the it was a game the Giants just had to win; it a was at home against a team that they are better than, but yet one never saw a whole lot of urgency in their overall approach which appeared to be more along the lines of ‘let’s not give up any big plays that will beat us, rather than let’s make some big plays ourselves to win the game.’

The fact is that the immediate hours after the game on Sunday were tough. But in the end you have two choices. You can wear your fan’s hat and moan and groan and whine and bitch, in the process calling for the G.M., the head coach, both O and D co-ordinators, not to mention the owner, all to be fired. Or you put your player/coach’s hat back on and get back to work. Because that’s what football people do.

The goal right now for the Giants is to find a way to win a game. I stand by my comments after last week’s loss that the Giants are a lot closer than people are giving them credit. Plus, I feel they are quite capable, especially given a couple of adjustments and maybe a break or two, turning around and winning three in a row.

We’ve talked at some length in earlier reports about how the biggest issue with the Giants this year has been the ability to get pass rush at all going when they rush 4 (which for the record is almost all the time.) The other big problem for the Giants through the first three games is that they just haven’t been able to score touchdowns. In fact, the offense, which ranks 18th overall, has moved the ball pretty much all season. However, they have only been able to convert 5 of 15 trips into the red zone into TDs. That’s 33%, about half the league-wide average.

In fact, we opened the internet on Monday morning wondering if we would be greeted by a headline that OC Jason Garrett HAD been fired after the Giants scored a measly 14 points against a Falcons’ defense that had been giving up 40 PPG thru the first couple of weeks of the schedule. Obviously, though, Garrett is still around, in large part likely to the fact that the Giants are probably reluctant to mess with QB Daniel Jones’ development by switching co-ordinators in mid-season. And we certainly wouldn’t lay all the blame for Sunday’s loss at Garrett’s feet, but there were certainly some questionable uses of personnel.

Let’s start with Saquon Barkley. It’s pretty clear at this time that Saquon is struggling running between the tackles. He’s just doesn’t look at all confident in his ability to make the sharp cuts that are key to his game. On the other hand, it appears that the speed is still there and he’s been much more effective catching the ball out of the backfield. Just a thought but maybe we should be trying to focus on getting him the ball in space, rather than continually banging their heads against the wall trying to establish a run game that right now just isn’t there.

We also had a Kadarius Toney sighting on Sunday. With both Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton sidelined before the end of the 1st quarter with hamstring injuries, Toney made a nice catch over the middle and then an even nicer cut to make the first down. Next play, he caught a little bubble screen type throw and added another 6 useful yards. And then we never seen again.

And speaking of rare sightings, TEs Kyle Rudolph and Kaden Smith played a combined 57 snaps on Sunday and were targeted a combined total of once. It is really frustrating watching other teams, including the Falcons’ on Sunday, regularly picking up decent yardage, by simply leaking a blocking TE out into the flat after the secondary has been run off by the other receivers. Instead, it seems everything the Giants do on offense they really have to work for.

On the other hand, the Giants’ defense played well enough, at least for 50 minutes, holding a reasonably potent Falcons’ offense to under 300 total yards and just 17 points. But with the game on the line they couldn’t hold the lead – for the second straight week – in those final 10 minutes, allowing Atlanta to put together yet another 15-play scoring drive to tie the score and then a second drive in the final two minutes to kick the game-winning FG.

Fact is that when the other team needs to score, the Giants are in trouble because they just can’t get any pressure at all from a traditional 4-man rush. Plus with the secondary playing soft to guard against any big plays, you have almost no chance as NFL passers get to play catch. And its going to be like every week until head coach Joe Judge and DC Patrick Graham find a way to get some pressure from a non-conventional type pass rush which we talked about the previous couple of weeks. Time will tell. Enjoy the week.

Just a couple of points in that regard. Two-man pass rush: probably not a good idea, although the one time the Giants used it they did force an incompletion. And continuing a theme from the offense. SS Jabrill Peppers can be very effective getting into the backfield, while really can’t cover. He really can’t. So you have the opponent in a key third-and-nine. What would you have Peppers doing? Thought so!

For the record: We have not yet posted our first ‘if the draft were held today’ selection order for the 2022 draft, but we can tell you that IF the draft were to be held today, the Giants would have the 5th (their own) and 11th (from Chicago) picks. And in a talent rich draft those two picks would get you some looks at some really good prospects. The problem for the Giants in this context is that they have one of the highest SOS figures in the league. Indeed, their current SOS is third of any team, meaning that they are going to be at or near the bottom of any win grouping when the draft finally does come around. This week, for example, one win would drop the Giants all the way from the 5th pick to #13. There is a similar story for the Bears’ pick in that Chicago also has a relatively strong SOS number, although it is not as strong as the Giants.