For anyone who watched last Sunday’s matchup between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys, it would have appeared so. The Cowboys defensive line played like the ’85 Bears registering 6 sacks and several pressures. Eli Manning couldn’t throw deep to any of his receivers, rendering O’Dell Beckum Jr. (4-51), Sterling Shepard (3-24) and Evan Engram (7-67) largely ineffective… or so it felt. His only option was short passes to Saquon Barkley, who set a Giants record for receptions by a running back (14-80).
Regarding all of the offseason talk of General Manager Dave Gettleman’s offensive line building, the GMEN’s hog mollies looked a lot more like mollies than hogs. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist). At the end of the game, the final score was 20-13. The O-line for the Giants was so dominated by the Dallas defense that the score might have just as well been 48-0.
Kudos to Dallas Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli, who clearly deserved the game ball. Marinelli out coached Giants coach Pat Shurmer and Offensive Line coach Hal Hunter. Simple D-line stunts and cornerback blitzes wreaked havoc on the GMEN’s offense almost the entire game. Eli took so many hits that he was probably rethinking his retirement with this current squad of protectors. It appears that it will be a long season for the GMEN.
The running game was all but entirely negated as well. Saquon Barkely had 11 carries for 28 yards. Any gains he achieved was the result of him making multiple defenders miss tackles. There is no run blocking to be found. Barkley is an exciting rookie with tremendous talent but can’t be expected to do everything himself. The Giants are averaging 0.8 yards before the running back is touched, ranking last in the NFL in this statistic. The NFL average is 2.4 yards before contact. As much as we want Barkley to be the reincarnation of Barry Sanders, we can’t expect this to happen. At least not overnight.
Many are to blame for this monumental Giants collapse. Let’s start with management who continues to back an aging, immobile pocket passer. It is easy for Giants fans to drool when watching Pat Mahomes, Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold play the quarterback position. These stars can evade defenders and still make plays downfield. Eli’s days of finding David Tyree downfield are likely to be long gone. Fans and the analyst community are likely to believe there is cause to reevaluate the Giants decision to pass on a QB with the second pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. While Eli Manning has several tools on his offense that other NFL teams would kill for, the question is whether he will have time to get the ball to them. He also has difficulty beating linebackers who can cover.when he actually has time to find a receiver in the middle of the field.
As for the coaching, let’s not give up on Pat Shurmer and company yet. It is clearly too soon for that. He has not lost the locker room as was the case with the Giants previous coaching mistake, Ben McAdoo. He has simply lost 2 games and looked awful in one of them against a team that many thought the Giants would beat. Offensive line coach is another story. Simple stunts and cornerback blitzes can’t nullify your offense as was the case against the Cowboys. Again, this was NOT the ’85 Chicago Bears defense that was on the field although at times, you wouldn’t have know it. It is time for both Pat Shurmer and offensive line coach Hal Hunter to step-up their game!
Then there was fullback Shane Smith. Or should I say ex-New York Giant full back, Shane Smith. Smith was cut this week after missing 2 key blitz pickups against the Cowboys. A notable statistic from the Giants game…Smith was solely responsible for 1/3 of the Giants 6 sacks. Smith was released on Thursday following his horrendous performance which contributed largely to the Giants offensive collapse.
Still, you can’t blame a loss like this on one player. You have to site management for believing Eli could continue to thrive with this offensive line protecting him. This is naïve or wishful thinking at best.
What Can Be Done Now?
Any team that plays the New York Giants is going to follow Rod Marinelli’s game plan, bringing pressure early and often from several positions. Why would you not? The Giants must fill their holes as quickly as possible. The Giants are going to have to anticipate blitz-happy defenses and find a way to get the ball to their major weapons.
All hope is not lost at 0-2, but one can only hope that we have seen the worse of the New York Giants in 2018. It’s time for a coaches meeting that will not only identify team weaknesses but resolve or make wholesale changes. Players that can be obtained are usually available for a reason. Did I actually hear Will Beatty’s name being bandied about again as an offensive line addition? Didn’t we already give him a second chance last season?
It will be interesting to see what changes are made to this team in Week 3!
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