The Giants’ offense wasn’t supposed to look like this.
They have three capable receivers and a two-time Super Bowl winner throwing them the ball. But lately they’ve been completely stifled by opposing defenses, and concern has to be growing that the hype around this passing game may have far surpassed the reality.
Even though Odell Beckham Jr. caught a touchdown to keep the Giants alive against the Packers on Sunday night, he hasn’t had the same impact on games he did in the first two seasons in his career. Sterling Shepard has made impressive strides early but is still a rookie. And Victor Cruz is quite simply not the receiver he once was.
But a bigger issue may be mounting, and that is the poor play of Eli Manning.
“I didn’t play as well as I needed to last week. I missed some throws,” Manning said on Tuesday. “So I need to play better.”
Indeed, he does. With the Giants (2-3) in dead last in the NFC East, they can’t afford for Manning to be as inaccurate as he was against the Packers. In that game, Manning completed 18 of 35 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown, along with a quarterback rating of 78.2. That came following a bad game against a tough Vikings defense and a loss to Washington in which Manning threw two picks.
Those on the outside have to wonder if this is the start of Manning’s decline. He’s 35 years old, and while his older brother lasted longer than that, there’s no way to know when aging will have an effect on the Giants’ QB. Don’t tell him though: because Manning was quick to dismiss that notion on Tuesday.
“No, I don’t think so. I feel good,” he said when asked if his age was becoming a factor.
Manning was also asked how he felt physically because some people had wondered whether the massive hit he took from Chris Baker in the Giants’ loss to Washington in Week 3 was having an effect on him.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning passes against the Packers.
(Benny Sieu/USA Today Sports)
“No, I feel great,” he said.
Maybe it’s more troubling if Manning really does feel fine, and the Giants just are straight up struggling. The defensive scheme that has been stifling them — cover-2 man — is about as basic as it gets. It’s a strategy designed to take away the Giants’ outside receivers, but should leave one-on-one matchups for slot receivers, running backs and tight ends running up the seam, without even mentioning that it ought to create space for the running game. Somehow, it’s still troubling them.
“There is definitely stuff that beats it. We had stuff that should have beaten it, but we didn’t execute well enough,” Manning said. “So it is not that it stopped us, it is just a matter of holding the ball a little longer because it takes away a lot of your slants and it takes away some of your quick game. You should be able to run the ball against it and we had some stuff to get open.”
No matter what the problem is, no one is denying that the offense is in a rut.
“I feel like everybody wants us to just be perfect right off the bat, it’s still early on in the season,” Shepard said. “So, we have plenty of time. This offense is going to pick everything up.”
Manning said he thought the offense hit “a little bump” but didn’t seem overly concerned. With the team on a three-game losing streak, Manning was asked how he stops himself from thinking “here we go again” given that the team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2011.
“That is not an option,” Manning said. “That is not in our thoughts. We are working and we are going to keep grinding and figure out a way to get a win and get back on track.”
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News