What does the New York Giants ugly start mean?
The New York Giants haven’t looked like Super Bowl contenders two weeks into the 2017 season. Granted, the offense isn’t the same without a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. However, other cogs in the offense haven’t been able to produce. What has stood out is horrendous offensive line play, an obsolete running game and quarterback Eli Manning struggling to make the most with what he has.
What a Potential 0-3 Start Means
The Philadelphia Eagles are 1-1, having defeated the division rival Redskins in the opener and losing a close one to Kansas City in a game that came down to the wire. There is no question, the Eagles are looking to make a statement in their home opener against Eli and company. A Giants loss would make them winless, with two of their losses coming at the hands of NFC East teams. It would be a difficult hole for the Giants to dig themselves out of.
But, a bad start isn’t the death sentence and wouldn’t signal a lost season. The Giants have managed to overcome the impossible many times. In some cases, New York simply couldn’t produce the same magic.
A Decade of Giants
Interestingly enough, the success of the New York Giants was determined by how they finished the season, not how they started. In the past 10 seasons the Giants tended to miss or lose in the playoffs when they started hot. When New York started with their backs against the wall, Manning and company rose to the occasion and made some playoff runs, with the climax of two seasons ending in hoisting the Lombardi trophy.
2007 – Started 0-2, lost to the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers. Won Super Bowl.
2008– Started 4-0, clinched number one seed in NFC, lost four of last five games including first playoff game to Philadelphia.
2009– Started 5-0, lost eight of next 11, finished in third place of the NFC East and missed the playoffs.
2010– Started 1-2, finished 10-6 but were eliminated from playoff contention with Green Bay win in week 17.
2011– Lost opening game to Washington, finished 9-7 to make the postseason, ran the table and defeated the New England Patriots for the second time to win the Super Bowl.
2012– Were 2-2 in the first four weeks with both losses coming to division teams in Philadelphia and Dallas, finished 9-7 but failed to make playoffs.
2013– Started 0-6, finished the season 7-9 and out of playoff contention by week 14.
2014–Started 0-2, finished 6-10 and in third place of the NFC East. No playoffs.
2015–Started 0-2, finished 6-10 having almost an identical season showing as the previous year. Marked the end of the Tom Coughlin era.
2016-Started 2-0, finished 11-5 and second in the NFC East, secured playoff spot but lost to the Packers in the wildcard round.
Giants Poised to Rebound
Beckham is not at full health, Brandon Marshall has looked like a shell of himself and the offensive line is bad. The offensive line was never thought of to be a strength of the team, but not projected it to be this abhorrent. The running backs on the roster have combined for 97 yards on 30 carries in two games. Until the Giants can get production from their running backs, the offense could be doomed.
No running game means a one-dimensional approach. This wouldn’t be a problem if the Giants were at full strength at the receiver position. The truth is a healthy OBJ means a better New York team. If Beckham is making plays, it will open up things in both the passing game and running game. Beckham will draw more attention when he’s 100%, meaning guys like Sterling Shepard, Marshall, and the emerging Evan Engram will have more space to make something happen.
Defensively, the Giants have talent. However, poor offensive play has the defense playing worn down and tired. Once the offense figures it out, the defense will be in good shape. The focus of Manning and the offense needs to be avoiding turnovers and putting the defense in tough spots. Constant three-and-outs and an inability to sustain drives will be detrimental to the Giants success.
If the New York Giants are 0-3 and in last place in the NFC East on Monday morning, they still possess enough talent on the roster to turn the season around.
Stats referenced at NFL.com and ESPN.com