Giants Can Claim They're Making Progress, but the Numbers Tell Another Story
Before the season, Giants president John Mara was asked a simple question: What does he needs to see to feel good about the direction of the franchise.
“We need to win some games,” he said. “I want to feel like at the end of the season, we’re moving in the right direction. I’m not going to say it has to be a minimum number of games that we have to win, or we have to make the playoffs. I want to feel when I’m walking off the field after the last game of the season, whenever that is, that this franchise is headed in the right direction.”
Whatever it is the Giants have been doing of late, Mara certainly can’t be feeling good about what he’s seen.
The Giants, for the second game in a row, were outwitted by a struggling opponent who suddenly found the cure for their struggles against Mara’s Giants.
Although head coach Pat Shurmur insists they’re getting close, the reality is they’re not as close as they think.
Simply put, the Giants are heading in the wrong direction, and there’s only so much blame that can be placed on the youth movement and the injuries that have been among the main storylines this season.
The Giants, who have now lost seven in a row after the 19-14 defeat to the Bears, currently have two wins on the season with five games remaining —two against the Eagles, one (next week) against the Packers), one against Washington and one against Miami.
That means with a maximum of two more losses, the Giant will match their 2018-win total of five games. After not winning in October or November -- their last victory came Sept. 29 against the Redskins -- there is no reason to believe they are going to win three in December.
Mara probably envisioned the Giants building off their last five games of 2018. Although they were 2-3 during the final stretch last season, the offense averaged 26.4 points per game—an increase of about five points per game from earlier in the season -- and 366.6 yards offense versus the 351.2 yards per game from the first 11 games.
Now? The Giants failed to accumulate 300 net yards in six of their last seven games, including their last three. They’ve averaged 19.7 points and 315 yards offense in their first 11 games.
That’s. Not. Progress
And can we talk about Saquon Barkley? Out of his 17 rushing attempts in Chicago on Sunday, three went for negative yardage, giving him 18 such runs out of 118 attempts, or 15.2%, in which Barkley was stopped for negative yardage this season. In his dynamic rookie season of 2018, he had 34 negative plays out of 261 attempts or 12.1%.
That’s certainly not progress either.
It's the first time in their history -- the Giants have been in business since 1925 -- they have not won a game in October and November, the two months critical to shaping a team’s potential playoff hopes.
Want to talk about defense? Points-wise, the Giants are allowing opponents 28 points per game this year versus the 26 points per game last year. And yards-wise, they’ve averaged 377.4 yards allowed this year versus 371.4 last year—all totals that are still pretty bad any way you slice it.
And what about the coaching staff’s growth? How many more times do we need to see Barkley run straight ahead behind an offensive line that doesn’t get a good push up the middle before we look elsewhere for a reason behind his pedestrian 2019 performance?
How many more times must we see curious in-game decisions that seem to come up at least once a week?
And how many more struggling opponents do we need to see revived courtesy of the Giants, or how many in-game management issues do we need to see that this team right now is stuck in mud?
Are there some good things to come out of this season? Absolutely.
The individual play of quarterback Daniel Jones, receiver Darius Slayton, edge rusher Markus Golden, defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence II, and punter Riley Dixon are bright spots. Add the gunner play of Cody Core and Antonio Hamilton.
But football isn’t about individual performances; it’s about team showings, and not one Giants unit this year has shown itself to be consistent, which is most alarming.
The Giants players and coaches can spin this any way they want. They can say that there are bright spots that convince them they’re headed in the right direction. They can say they’re close, and they are indeed making progress, but the bottom line is they have won only two games.