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NFL Draft

Who’s To Blame For Giants’ Offensive Struggles?

  • The Draft Network
  • September 15, 2021
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It’s not an encouraging sign for a team that focused on building up its offense in the offseason to still seem completely stagnant on that side of the ball. That is precisely the situation the New York Giants appear to be in after their Week 1 matchup against the Denver Broncos.

Their performance on Sunday isn’t out of character from how the New York offense has looked since former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett took over as offensive coordinator in 2020. Out of the 17 games of Garrett’s tenure with the Giants, they’ve scored fewer than 20 points 10 times and fewer than 10 points four times. They’ve only surpassed the 30-point mark one time in those games, ironically—or perhaps not—against Garrett’s former team.

Now, there are several scapegoats that Garrett could have used for the dismal performances during the 2020 season. The Giants’ lead back, Saquon Barkley, missed all but two games last year after tearing his ACL in Week 2. Quarterback Daniel Jones continued to struggle with turnovers in his second year, finishing 2020 with 10 interceptions and six lost fumbles. New York didn’t have a true lead receiving threat with neither Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, nor Golden Tate fitting the mold of an X receiver.

Those are all fair points for Garrett and those who might defend him from being the person to blame for the utter lack of offensive production since his hiring. The only problem now is that his scapegoats—some of them, at least—are disappearing in front of him.

Barkley is back, albeit in a limited capacity and not yet at 100%. The Giants made a big splash in free agency by signing wide receiver Kenny Golladay to fill that hole at X receiver and drafted Kadarius Toney, another receiving weapon for Jones, in the first round. Least improved is Jones, who through one game in 2021 already has a lost fumble against the Broncos, who forced the fourth-fewest number of turnovers in the league last year.

Despite these improvements, New York lost a game where the offense managed to score just once—not including that garbage-time touchdown to end all garbage-time touchdowns as time expired—against a Broncos team that… let’s just say wasn’t exactly a defensive powerhouse in 2020. The Giants are running out of people to blame who aren’t their offensive coordinator.

On Sunday, Garrett and the Giants kept trying to establish a run game when there wasn’t one. Over and over, their offensive line would get stood up at the line of scrimmage while the still-not-himself Barkley or the newcomer backup Devontae Booker would gain minimal yardage at best. Barkley finished with 10 rushes for 26 yards and Booker tacked on another four rushes for seven yards. Between the two of them, Booker had the longest run of the game with a whole six yards. That’s not exactly a potent rushing offense, yet Garrett wouldn’t switch away from his plan for the game, which clearly didn’t include any draws, pitches, or read options.

Along with the running woes were New York’s issues with passing. As important as it was for the Giants to bring in more weapons for the passing game in Golladay and Toney, they were hardly involved at all on Sunday. The two newcomers combined for eight targets and six receptions for 62 yards, including -2 receiving yards for the rookie. Last year’s main targets—Shepard and Slayton—had nine and seven targets, respectively, while each individually surpassed Golladay and Toney’s combined yardage.

I get it, it takes time to build up chemistry between a quarterback and his new receivers, and Golladay and Toney both missed significant time in the preseason due to injuries, but Garrett’s hesitance to draw up route concepts to see what could work while taking advantage of New York’s newest weapons is a major shortcoming.

Related to the lack of passing range and a solid run game was New York’s trouble on third down. After failing to gain yards—often on the ground or on short passes—on first and second down, there were too many third-and-long plays of passes short of the line to gain, which killed multiple drives along with any Giants momentum.

In fact, the long pass was absent all game. The Giants attempted just two passes over 20 yards against the Broncos, and one of them was on a free play after a defensive lineman jumped offsides. If the run game doesn’t work, and the passing game is doing no more than nickel and diming short throws down the field, New York is going to have a hard time driving and scoring unless something changes.

Unfortunately, Giants fans, I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one. According to Dan Duggan of The Athletic, head coach Joe Judge suggested in a Tuesday press conference that the Giants likely won’t “open it up Thursday” against the Washington Football Team, emphasizing Washington’s ability to prevent explosive plays on defense. It might be a loooooong year for fans of the Big Blue.

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