The Giants fell to 2-6 at the halfway point of the season after suffering their fourth straight loss in a row, this one a 31-26 loss to the Detroit Lions.
While early on in the year the focus of the team became abut getting the youngsters up to speed for the future, perhaps the most alarming thing about how the Giants have played, including this week, is that the defense is stuck int he mud, sowing very few signs of progress.
Passing Offense: B
Daniel Jones had one of his better showings this week, raising his level of compete against a mediocre Lions defense. The rookie also did an excellent job looking off the safety on both of his touchdown throws to Darius Slayton and tossed numerous accurate passes.
On the negative side, Jones looked like he reacted late to an unblocked blitzer on the play in which he tried to find Barkley int he flat only to end up throwing a backward pass, which the Lions scooped and scored to get a 7-0 lead. There were also times when the rookie held the ball too long, but overall, he overcame adversity, kept his cool, and spread the ball around.
Want another positive to come from the passing offense? How about that connection Jones has with Darius Slayton?
After missing most of the summer and the first two games of the year with a hamstring, is there any doubt that Slayton, who is now the team leader among the wide receivers in touchdown catches (3) and who is tied for the overall team lead in this category with tight end Evan Engram, has become one of Jones' favorite targets.
Rushing Offense: C
The Giants finished with 80 yards on 24 carries, but there is good news and bad news from the rushing offense this week. The good news is that Saquon Barkley looked much more like he was at fulls strength than he did last week when it seemed like it was painful for him to plant his leg and cut.
The bad news is that Barkley's game was a bit off in that there were some opportunities for him to pick up more yards that he ended up missing, and not all of that was on the offensive line, either. Barkley had a chance to take one to the house, but the turf got him and slowed him down just enough for a Lions defender to stop him well short of the goal. With a Giants team struggling to outduel the opponent, missed opportunities such as these cannot be a regular staple in anyone's game.
Run Defense: B+
The Giants came through with a much better effort this week, holding the Lions to 59 yards on 25 carries. There were still instances of guys not getting off their blocks or reacting late to inside runs, but overall, credit the run defenders for doing a better job holding their points and defending their gaps a lot better than they did in last week's debacle.
B.J. Hill gets a special mention here. Although he was only credited for one tackle, Hill probably had one of his best games this year. He was very active inside and more often than not won his matchup but anchoring well and fighting his way through traffic.
Pass Defense: D
Week after week, this unit, which was supposed to have been upgraded to be a strength int he off-season, continues to be the worst on the team, and it's not even close. Matthew Stafford threw for 342 yards, completing 25 of 32 pass attempts.
Receiver Kenny Golladay became the sixth receiver this season to log 100+ receiving yards against this defense, and perhaps even more alarming is that the Giants continue to give up the big plays of 20+ yards at an alarming rate.
After allowing two more pass plays of 40+ yards, the Giants are now tied with the Packers for the league lead in big-pass plays of 40+ yards allowed (9) and are tied for second with the Raiders in plays of 20+ yards allowed (35).
Perhaps the most alarming aspect of the pass defense is the repeated communication breakdowns that leave opposing receivers, backs, and tight ends wide open. Part of the problem is the Giants are playing too loose in zone coverage.
Another part is players incorrectly reading their keys. This appears to be what happened when veteran safety Antoine Bethea was beaten on the flea-flicker play to Golladay. Bethea seemed to look back into the backfield and took a step toward the line of scrimmage, which gave Golladay a step against him down the field.
Special Teams: C
Usually a weekly strength, it took five kickoffs for the Giants to realize that the Lions were purposely kicking off to force a return by rookie Darius Slayton, a strategy that worked to perfection. But the biggest disappointment from this unit was Aldrick Rosas, a Pro Bowl kicker last year, not only missing a PAT but sending an onside kick out of bounds.
On offense, we're still waiting for the Giants to take better advantage of Daniel Jones' mobility by calling for a few more RPOs and to et Saquon Barkley out in space more. On the latter point, it's unclear if Barkley's ankle remains a concern to where they don't want him running as much, but then again, if he's on the field, why put any limitations on him when his skill set could help?
Defensively, the Giants didn't blitz Stafford much this week, instead, choosing to put an extra man back in coverage, which, as it turned out, didn't help much at all. So why not shift gears and throw an extra rusher at Stafford to get him off his mark and hope that perhaps he throws an errant ball or two that creates an opportunity for more turnovers?
Lastly, a tick or two has to come off of the usually solid job done weekly by special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey. As noted int he special teams section, it took five tries for the Giants to realize that Slayton's inexperience as a kickoff returner wasn't helping matters against a Lions team determined to make the rookie come out with the ball. Giving the kid experience is nice, but not if it's hurting your chances of winning a game.
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