DAL 20 NYG 3

That score is correct. I don’t count 10 garbage time points. 20-13 masks getting outplayed.

We needed 2-3 games to get a sense of what we would have in the NY Giants in 2018.

1 TD (a Barkley 68 yder) in 8 quarters. (I DO NOT COUNT A BLOWN COVERAGE IN GARBAGE TIME AS A TD.)

6 sacks.

No offensive adjustments.

“I’m seeing some body language on the sideline I saw last year,” said LicensePlateGuy.

Where are the Offensive Adjustments? Dallas was rushing 5-6 men consistently, and Shurmur did not respond. He wasted at least a Quarter in not responding with playcalls to punish DAL’s aggressiveness.

No ability to pick up a stunt.

Blocking TE Ellison and blocking FB Smith both got beaten ugly on protecting Eli. That’s their freaking job. Max protect Swiss cheese. With the Giants down 10-0 and first and goal at the 3, Ellison is completely knifed off the snap. He is called for a hold AND gave up a 6 yd loss. Fugly.

Halapio hurt. Apple groin. Barkley was holding his wrist at the end of the game.

Dallas is not a good team. They outcoached Shurmur.

Barkley makes the first player miss on nearly every single play.

The Giants Defense was not awful but this is against a DAL offense that has no real passing threat. They had no pressure unless they blitzed. They could not handle the RPO. And when Jenkins stumbled at the line of scrimmage + Riley took a wrong angle, they gave up an insurmountable 7 point lead.

Watching Shurmur use 3 playcalls in H1 (run Barkley, flare Barkley, slant Beckham) was McAdoo-esque.

Eli Manning looks old when he gets pressured. And he gets pressured a lot. This results in him missing open receivers because he is trying to stay alive back there. No excuses. As Wonder said in his one line season preview: “NYG 6-10. An aging QB who might not be protected is not a recipe for success.”

0-2. Hard to swallow. Not that we are completely surprised given we expected to be underdogs in all 7 games to start the season. But I didn’t expect the Offense to be so anemic, with 1 TD in 8 quarters.

Where is Engram? MIA. He hasn’t been the same (speed/separation) since the concussion. He got a TD because of a missed assignment in garbage time.

I predicted 7-9. That may be too high. That’s because I saw no improvement in the Offense.

Manning + Flowers = Problems

The Ereck Flowers bashing was in full swing this past Sunday. Eli Manning also received his fair share of criticism. This NY Giants blog is less critical of Manning, in part owing to XLII, where the author decided that a Super Bowl title was a debt repaid. When one adds the XLVI effort, where Manning carried the team to a second title, our criticism was muted even further. Any criticism we offer about Eli Manning is qualified by our gratitude for his legacy.

Ereck Flowers has not earned any gratitude. The Giants similarly made a significant investment in the Round 1 Tackle. His 4+ year career has been marred by disappointment.

The table is now set to review a play versus Jacksonville that serves as a guidepost for the Week 1 loss and the balance of success or failure this team will see in 2018.

For those of you who can’t click through to watch what happened, the play says a lot about the complex choreography of football. The Jaguars have good design on the play, where the LB takes a few hard steps in between the LDE and LDT, drawing Flowers’ first steps inside. The LBer quickly flares out to pick up Barkley, who is also flaring out to his right side. The problem is that now the LDE, Ngakoue, has a much better path to the QB and beats Flowers easily. Manning is forced to step up and the LDT (lol, remember him, the one to the right of the LB?!) Abry Jones makes a nice play, batting the ball. The deflection is collected for a pick 6, which generated all of the Offense for the Jags in the second half.

What a metaphor for Manning and Flowers. Should we give credit to Jacksonville for smart scheme? YES. But who did they scheme AGAINST? Hint: Joe Thomas and Aaron Rodgers aren’t going to let that happen. But Manning and Flowers did. Hell, Aaron Rodgers won a football game on Sunday night on ONE FREAKING LEG. This 3+ minute video contains the highlights of how Rodgers brought the Packers back from a 20 point deficit. I watched the comeback live, and all I could think of was that if he pulled it off, it would be Kirk Gibson multiplied by 30 (minutes).

Manning must take responsibility for the football there. Did Flowers get beat, pressuring Manning quickly? Yes. Did Jones make a nice play with his deflection? Yes. But for a veteran QB, Manning has more than enough requisite experience to either take a sack, throw the ball away or just do a better job of getting the ball to Barkley than he did.

What about the Giants scheme? Note how Halapio is helping the Left side of his protection, not the right side. Where is the chip by Barkley on the LDE so that Flowers can get some help there? And let’s also note that Jones got the better of Omameh, offering no help to Manning when the Giants QB was forced to step up. If Halapio was better, he could have quickly pivoted after seeing the Left Side contained and offered help to Omameh on the right side. Frankly, the hope is that in time, Hernandez will be so proficient that Halapio is lending far more help to the right side of the OL, where it is needed more.

Flowers has to be better. Manning has to be better. The entire OL has to be better. The scheme has to be better. Let’s also give ample credit to the Jaguars for making a lot of good moves within that play.

The film is out there. These opposing Defenses study this film all week long in preparation for the next game, looking for tendencies and deficiencies. This is what the next 15 teams will try to do, to stress the Giants OL. Manning has to be better. The Giants OL has to be better. The Giants coaches have to put the players in a position to succeed. This is why we have been consistent in the view that this is a 2019 story, not a 2018 story.

Dallas is next on Sunday night. We’ve been targeting a 2-5 or 3-4 start in the first seven difficult games. The Giants are once again FG underdogs. It is a winnable game, if the Giants can execute better. Is the glass half full or half empty? On the bright side, there were many mistakes in Week 1… implying that if just a few less are made the Giants can easily win. As we noted a long time ago, the Giants rated to be underdogs in all 7 games. It is a good sign that the team was competitive in Week 1, so this team will have opportunities to get wins. That is the half full view. The half empty view? It is Manning and Flowers not taking care of business. The Pick 6 is one of many mistakes that cost the Giants a win. Get better. Make less mistakes. Get a win.

JAC 20 NYG 15

OBJ and Barkley will sell tickets but you win and lose the game at the line of scrimmage. The Giants Defense bent but did not break. They gave up a total of 13 points and none in the second half.

The pick 6 backbreaker was created by Flowers’ protection blowing up. Manning was forced to step up when Ngakoue went right around Flowers. That gave the D-Line a better angle on the pass to block it. Myles Jack collected the deflected duck and ran it back easily for a TD. Eli Manning was not perfect, missing an open OBJ for a TD and underthrowing Shepard on a late drive on 4th down. Eli was not helped by 6 drops. Engram was a disappointment.

Manning is not good enough to overcome an OL that was not good in run blocking or pass protection. Ereck Flowers is a disaster. He cost the team on so many possessions. Two of the first three plays of the game were Flowers penalties that nearly cost the team a Safety. I frankly lost track of all of his transgressions.

Jenkins looked good, with an INT and good coverage. Lorenzo Carter is a playmaker who has a presence on the field. He is going to be a terrific player.

No surprise that Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. are electric. Barkley was hit at or behind the line of scrimmage on many of his runs. His 68 yard TD run was all Barkley, sidestepping four defenders and tightroping it down the sideline. OBJ collected 111 yards on 11 receptions, most of which were underneath throws. He also created two Defensive Pass Interference penalties, so he causes trouble consistently for opposing Defenses. These two guys rack up fantasy points but the Giants team gets the reality loss. I love having these fabulous talents on my team but until the OL blocks it up, it won’t matter.

Solder was okay but had a couple of bad plays including a holding penalty. Hernandez got run over by All Pro Calais Campbell inside on a sack.

I do not like the end-around playcall in the red zone on 3rd down. It is a slow-developing play which is tantamount to a pitchout, and those kinds of plays cannot be used on a very short field. The overall Offensive scheme is better but that (3rd & Goal) is a missed opportunity for 4 more points which effectively is the difference in this game. OBJ and Engram are much better end zone targets than a toss behind the line of scrimmage.

The Jaguars had some success running on the outside. Kareem Martin was singled out by Carl Banks for needing to set the edge better. He believes it is a technique issue, not a talent issue, implying it is fixable.

We noted the 7 players signed this week by the Giants. One of them, Kaelin Clay, muffed the final punt to seal the game for the Jags.

So what is the good news? (1) The Giants went vertical. This means Eli is holding the ball longer. That puts added pressure on the OL to protect better, but at least the OL problems were generated from a wider array of offensive playcalling. Last season, Eli had less time to throw, so while the OL is still a liability, there is marginally some improvement there. (2) The Jaguars are a good team with a very good Defense. Considering the mistakes (the punt muff, the pick 6), let’s take some solace in being competitive. (3) No injuries, other than Gallman. (4) The rookies look good. Other than the one sack by Hernandez, all 4 of the first picks flashed. It will lay the foundation for future success. (5) WR drops can be corrected.

After seeing the Giants play today, it still looks like 2-5 or 3-4 in the first 7 games. This team is going to go as far as the OL will take them. There is plenty of time to improve, but I certainly do not expect Ereck Flowers to improve. He is a continuous liability. The Giants must scheme better to manage the weakness at RT. More screens, chips and TE/OL help are needed. The team is 0-1 but it is such a different feel from last year. Last year was hopelessness on Offense and lack of competitiveness. This year it was mistakes and continued liability on behalf of the OL, but the competitiveness was there against a team that played in (and arguably should have won) the AFC Championship. The Giants rate to pick up some wins in these first 7 games and hopefully they can make a run somewhere in the last 9 games.

2018 NY Giants Season Forecast

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the 2018 NFL Football season. Giants Football is back! Purging the nightmare of a 3-13 record last year begins with hopes anew for a turnaround.

We were struck almost immediately last year with how little had changed in the Offense in Week 1 & Week 2 vs Dallas and Detroit from the fumes of 2016. Why dredge up such unpleasant memories? Because it is a reminder of how little we truly know about what to expect from a coaching staff. McAdoo was a football fraud. The emperor had no clothes. We and everyone else incorrectly assumed that an entire offseason of adjustments would rescue a failing 2016 offense in 2017. There were none. We forecast 10 wins. The Giants won 3. After nailing it in 2014-2016 with a very good sense of what the year would look like, we were blindsided. It’s not to say that we didn’t understand the shortcomings of Flowers and Hart. They were front and center. It was just stunning how a boob coach could fail to do anything about it. We also admit to failing our readership in buying into Paul Dottino’s promises that Hart and Flowers were improving. He’s a completely worthless PR front man whose lack of objectivity is everything we rail against on this NY Giants blog. About the only thing I did correctly was reverse course after Week 1 & 2, sounding the alarm. That was too late, as the implosion was already in motion.

2017 is a sobering reminder of the limitations we are faced with here in forecasting 2018. The nature of preseason, where there is (1) no gameplan (2) extremely reduced first string appearances (3) limited disclosure of scheme (4) no halftime adjustments and (5) no great sense of overall coaching abilities for a new staff, all make handicapping 2018 difficult. I say each year that I’ll get a much better sense of what the team looks like after the first 3 games. That couldn’t be more true this year.

There are so many questions that we will get answers to only after watching 2-3 games. They are:

1) What do we see from the Offensive Line, particularly the right side?

2) Do we see fireworks from finally getting OBJ, Barkley, Engram and Shepard on the field at the same time?

3) Are Shurmur and Shula able to scheme so that liabilities from Flowers and Omameh are minimized?

4) Is Eli, at 37, given a Renaissance or a Rebuke?

5) Special Teams Coordinator McGaughey has cancer. Do we get his reversion to the mean or (demoted) assistant Tom Quinn’s return to ruin?

6) How long does it take for Bettcher’s new 3-4 Defense to gel?

7) How badly does the Giants pass coverage get gashed?

8) How long is Olivier Vernon out, and can players like Barwin and Carter get QB pressure before he returns?

9) Do the rookies (Barkley, Hernandez, Carter and Hill) deliver as quickly as we hope?

10) The Giants have no depth. Shurmur brought in 7 new players from other teams after preseason was over. This means the impact from injuries will be greater than otherwise expected. How healthy are the Giants this season, and can they minimize the damage from a significant lack of depth?

11) Is Shurmur 2.0 in New York a big upgrade from Shurmur 1.0 in Cleveland?

Frankly there are too many known unknowns here to be too optimistic about 2018.

The Bulls will weave a theme where

  • scheme minimizes OL liability
  • we get Offensive explosion from the OBJ wrecking crew
  • Eli pilots a much improved ship
  • Specials are effective
  • we get gashed in coverage but
  • Bettcher’s blitzing generates enough pressure
  • the rookies deliver
  • the team enjoys better health and
  • Shurmur is a better coach

The Bears will bring us back to reality where

  • Flowers is still Flowers
  • Omameh is a journeyman on his 5th team in 5 years
  • Barkley can’t rescue a running game all by himself
  • Eli’s limitations are there
  • Defensive pass coverage is exactly what we feared
  • the rookies are good but need a half season to get it going
  • a normal amount of injuries expose the underbelly and
  • Shurmur is a normal coach (not a savior)

Where is the truth? It is likely somewhere in between. I have said this offseason that if you can tell me how the OL fares, I’ll tell you how this team does. Every year it is this way. It’s the legacy of Reese’s failure with this unit. He was finally held accountable, years too late. Because of Solder’s age, he’s a Gettleman patch. Hernandez is a fix, but he’s only one guy. (For the record, we wanted Gettleman to draft MANY more OLmen than just Hernandez in 2018, although Hernandez alone was a huge start.)

Bulls have one very good argument that I like as a contrarian: last year everyone was making Super Bowl reservations and we stunk. This year we are getting cautiousness, so that will bode well for a better year.

Scheme will be vital. How’s this for scheme… Wonder explains that he’d max protect for Eli by using a lot of a 6 man OL. Keep Eli upright so he gets the ball to those weapons. And then because the Tackle is eligible, he can fan out on a flare to Barkley and not be illegally downfield before the throw. Everyone knows how electric Saquad will be in the open field, so it’s up to scheme to leverage that. We are optimistic that Shurmur’s Offense will empower the skill players. We don’t know to what degree Eli is kept upright. Campbell, Dareus, Bryan and Jack will be a problem for any team, but will present even more problems here.

It’s really difficult to see exactly how this unfolds. Everyone knows how tough the first 7 games will be. 3-4 can get them to 9 wins. 2-5 is likely the rebuilding year we expect. The line in Week 1 is a FG because even the bettors have no idea what the Giants will bring. A win in Week 1 salvages the first 7 games. A loss probably puts 2-5 squarely on the map. I’m hoping for the best but realistically thinking 7-9 is what we get. I cited 11 questions to drill home the volatility in this year’s expectations. If you can answer those questions more decisively than I can, please share your comments and get on record for what the team will be in 2018.

Play the games. Entertain us. Give us fireworks. Stay healthy. Scheme. Surprise us with championship work ethic and mettle. I believe this is a rebuilding year. Let’s see good football and maybe we get more positives than we bargained for. GO GIANTS!