When you think the Giants have it figured out, they go and throw you for a loop every week.
This week against a very beatable Atlanta Falcons team, and on Eli Manning Day, no less, one would have hoped that the Giants would have won one for the "Man-ing" of the Hour.
Alas, it was not meant to be, as the lost opportunities this team seems to fail to grasp every week are quickly adding up to another lost season.
1. This probably didn't matter in the result, but if I had been the Giants, I would have taken the ball after winning the opening coin toss and tried to capitalize on the energy that was coming from the crowd.
Yes, I get the school of thought that says you defer if you win the opening coin toss because the hope is you score just before the half and on the opening drive. But the Giants haven't done much of that of late, and for a team that needs all the psychological boosts it can get, if I had been making the call, I would have ridden the positive energy generated by the crowd.
Who knows? In the end, it might not have mattered. But for a team that claims to love its crowd so much and feed off its energy, would trying to set the game's tone have hurt in this instance?
2. Joe Judge's team has a long, long way to go before it's the smart, tough, disciplined group he aspires to see.
Right now, I see too much conservatism--not exactly the hallmark of a formidable team. I see way too many mistakes--anyone notice how the Giants lost two time-outs in the second half because they couldn't get their act together?
And I'm seeing far too many mistakes--the dropped interceptions by Logan Ryan and Adoree' Jackson, missed tackles, drops, drive-killing penalties. (Didn't we see dropped interceptions, albeit by different defensive backs against Washington?)
Look, I get it that no team is ever a finished product, but is it too much to ask for these repeated mistakes made by different members to be cleaned up to where progress is evident?
3. I wanted to believe in tight end Evan Engram and that they'd find a way to get him on track finally. I thought the addition of Kyle Rudolph might help, but so far, it's more of the same.
Engram finished with two receptions (out of six pass targets) for 21 yards. He had a fumble that thankfully didn't hurt the team when his defense bailed him out on the next series. He had another ball--admittedly one not thrown well--go off his fingertips. And the biggest problem with him, which didn't show up on the stat sheet but which was most glaring? He struggled to find holes in zone coverage.
I'll always say Engram is a good kid who works as hard as he can. But as a football player, he's just not helping a team that right now is'' good enough to overcome mistakes or shoddy play from its key pieces.
4. When the Giants were collecting playmakers this past off-season, I wondered how they were going to get all that talent they invested involved every week.
So far, they have had a problem figuring that out. Last week, Kadarius Toney had no pass targets. This week, it was tight end Kyle Rudolph, their big red-zone guy (who, by the way, had no red-zone targets in the Week 2 loss either!)
Considering the Giants lost Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton early to hamstring strains, why Rudolph was only sent on eight receiving opportunities (again, the ball coming his way on none of them) is a mystery.
Or maybe it's just a testament to the coaches' inability to make adjustments?
5. The Giants burned two second-half time-outs early when it looked like they couldn't get themselves lined up correctly. While it's hard to say for sure if those wasted time-outs might have made a difference if they had been there later in the game, it was still poor handling by the coaching staff.
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Head coach Joe Judge was asked about those two time-outs. Here's what he had to say:
On one, we had the communication issue with the headset dropping down in terms of the coach-to-player system, so I wanted to make sure we were in the right call. We had a third-down situation – I wanted to make sure that with the system going down briefly that we went ahead, and we handled that the right way.
Obviously, we didn’t convert on that one, and we kept ongoing. In terms of the other ones, talking about the end of the first half time-out, that was by design to go ahead and see what they were doing at that point based on where we were at in the half, what we had come up, so that was by design on that one.
If the headset was malfunctioning, why not use hand signals as other teams have done when technology has failed?
As for the explanation about "trying to see what the Falcons were doing at that point"--is it me or does that sound like the Giants were reacting rather than being proactive in that situation?
6. Let's switch gears a bit and talk about something positive, namely the solid regular-season play so far turned in by left tackle Andrew Thomas. Seriously, this young man, who had a rough preseason finale (it was later disclosed he was sick for that game), has been solid through three games.
This week he mostly went against Dante Fowler and kept him quiet (Fowler had his success against Nate Solder). But in sticking with Thomas, not only has his run blocking been solid, his pass blocking has been on-point.
Per Pro Football Focus, he's allowed five total pressures (all hurries) in 134 pass-block snaps. That's pretty good for a guy who struggled last year and a guy who kept his nose to the grindstone to work at his craft.
7. I keep going back to the Giants' decision to punt the ball on a 4th-and-4 from the Falcons' 39-yard-line in the third quarter with the Falcons up 7-6 at that point, and I think that decision speaks loudly as to what might be going on with this team.
First, it suggests to me a lack of confidence in the offense to get the first down. Otherwise, why not go for it? And considering offensive coordinator Jason Garrett called for a deep pass attempt on the previous play, you can't help but wonder if maybe Garrett was thinking he'd have two chances at converting down there.
The other head-scratching aspect of that decision is why not send Graham Gano out there to attempt a 56-yard field goal in perfect weather conditions? The guy has only been Mr. Automatic so far this season, regardless of the distance.
Why not try the field field goal? Worst case, if you miss it, you hope your defense can stop the Falcons (again, there's that questionable trust issue). Are the Giants really that good to be in a position to get cute rather than take the points?
8. The Giants are 0-3, and they haven't even gotten to the hard part of their schedule yet--that's coming up. But here's the thing. We talk about how these first three games were winnable. And they were winnable opportunities.
I go back to decisions made during training camp and the relatively conservative approach taken by Joe Judge with decisions such as who he played and didn't play in the preseason. At the risk of second-guessing here, did Judge do this team any favors by not putting his starters out there more often than he did?
The result says no, and in retrospect, to hear receiver Kenny Golladay warn that there might be some rust early on in the season at a time when the team should have been ready to play is not only concerning but could be a reason why this team has looked so ill-prepared these first three weeks.
I've said this before, and I'll repeat it. This team isn't good enough to overcome the mistakes it's making. And I can't help but wonder if having the chance to work out some of the bugs we've seen so far this season during the preseason might have made a difference.
9. Giants went all-in on a $200+ million off-season free-agency spending spree that's going to hamstring them for next year. If this team doesn't produce the results, buckle up because this dry spell will not end anytime soon.
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