The New York Giants offense has struggled mightily in the first two weeks of the 2017 NFL season. They have one touchdown on 22 drives against the Cowboys and Lions. The Giants offense has several problems, but none of them will be fixed in time for the Giants to be able to contend in the NFC this season.
The biggest issue, which is one the Giants and general manager Jerry Reese should have addressed in the offseason, is the poor offensive line play. Specifically, the five players on the O-line have taken a major step back in their abilities to pass-protect. Over the course of the entire 2016 season, Eli Manning was sacked only 21 times. However, that low number is partially due to Ben McAdoo’s offense having a lot of quick passes and the fact that Manning threw the ball away on several occasions to avoid sacks. He has already been sacked eight times in the first two games of 2017, which means that he is on pace to be sacked 64 times this season.
The Giants had a chance to improve the offensive line in the offseason, but elected to sign wide receiver Brandon Marshall instead. There were many free agent offensive tackles who would have been substantial upgrades for the Giants. Taking into account their cap situation, it’s clear that the Giants could have done some maneuvering and signed a left tackle such as Andrew Whitworth, Riley Reiff, or Ricky Wagner for around $10 million per year. The Giants would be much better off with an upgrade at one of the tackle spots, especially at left tackle. Manning would not look at the pass rush as much if he didn’t have to worry about pressure coming from his blind side.
Another issue is that the Giants offensive coaching staff is not maximizing the potential of the team. There have been many decisions that the offensive coaches have made that have not made any sense. The worst of the coaches’ decisions was allowing left tackle Ereck Flowers to play one-on-one with Lions star pass rusher Ziggy Ansah for the majority of the game. It was clear from the start that Flowers was overmatched and needed help. The Giants didn’t have a running back or tight end execute a chip block on Ansah until the Giants were trailing by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. It’s unbelievable to think the coaching staff still believes that Flowers can successfully block some of the league’s best pass rushers. Ben McAdoo, who is an offensive-minded coach, should be much better at covering up the weaknesses on the Giants’ struggling offensive line. In short, it’s unlikely the Giants offensive line improves this season.
The Giants run game will not improve throughout the course of the season, either. Through two games, Big Blue has 30 carries for 97 yards, which is good for dead last in the NFL. The Giants haven’t invested much into the running back position since Tiki Barber retired following the 2006 season. They got great production from fourth-round pick Brandon Jacobs and seventh-round pick Ahmad Bradshaw, but since Bradshaw left the team in 2012 the team’s run game has suffered. Recent late-round picks such as Andre Brown, Andre Williams, Michael Cox, and Da’Rel Scott were not nearly as successful as Jacobs and Bradshaw were in the Giants backfield. The Giants backfield currently has many late-round picks and undrafted free agents. Paul Perkins is quick, Orleans Darkwa is versatile, Shane Vereen is a good pass-catcher, and Wayne Gallman has plenty of big-game experience. Unfortunately, none of those players is a complete running back. The Giants running game will not get better until they invest more draft capital into the position. I’m not asking them to spend a high first-round pick on a running back, but I do think they should consider taking a running back with a second- or third-round pick, which they haven’t done since 1999.
The most surprising issue the Giants have is the Brandon Marshall situation. He has one catch in each game so far and has done more harm than good in the Giants lineup. He dropped a crucial pass against the Lions that led to a Giants punt. The subsequent punt was returned for a touchdown, which ended the Giants’ chances of winning the game. Some writers have made excuses for Marshall, saying that he is not a good fit for McAdoo’s offense and that he has not had a lot of time to develop chemistry with Manning. I disagree with these points. If Marshall really wanted to, he could be a productive receiver in McAdoo’s offense. Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard are on the field to take a lot of the attention away from him. There is no excuse for Marshall to have played so poorly in the first two games.
The Giants have many issues on the offensive side of the ball that will not be solved. Their defense will not be able to carry them through the season because they face a brutal schedule. The Giants play road games against the Eagles and Buccaneers and still have four trips to the West Coast this season. They also have matchups with the Seahawks, Chiefs, Cowboys, and Eagles at home. Last season, the Giants made the playoffs because of a six-game winning streak in the middle of the season. All of those wins came against teams that finished at .500 or worse. The Giants do not have a stretch in their schedule like that this year and will be unable to win enough games to make the playoffs.
If you would like to receive an email each time a new New York Giants article is published, fill out our email notification form.