Many were interested to see what the Giants offense would look like in week three as they began their journey without the services of Saquon Barkley, who is out for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee.
What we saw was a Giants offense that seemed to lack cohesion and explosiveness and which, after three weeks when it should have all started coming together, has raised more questions than it has answered.
Question 1: Where are the sustained drives?
The Giants' first drive was five plays for 33 yards and ended with a Daniel Jones fumble.
The next drive was six plays for 41 yards and resulted in a field goal. The third drive was another six-play drive for 31 yards and resulted in their second field goal of the day.
The fourth and last possession of the first half was two plays, and Jones threw an interception right before halftime, which led to a field goal for the 49ers.
In comparison, San Francisco ran more plays (23) in their first two drives of the game. The Giants were able to muster a 13-play drive to begin the second half of the game, but it only traveled 53 yards and resulted in another field goal, their final points of the day.
If the Giants can’t keep the ball away from offenses to allow the defense a little time to breathe and make adjustments, it becomes more difficult for the defense to get the offense the ball.
The 49ers offense struggled to cash in on drives early, but the increase in possessions allowed them to get into a rhythm, and in the second half, they turned drives that would have previously resulted in field goals into touchdowns.
Question 2: Who’s going to run the ball?
Replacing Barkley is a big task. The Giants signed Devonta Freeman to add to the backfield with Wayne Gallman and Dion Lewis.
However, on Sunday, Jones was the leading rusher for the Giants, which is probably a bad sign for the offense.
He recorded five carries for 49 yards to lead the team in both categories. Freeman ran the ball five times for 10 yards; Gallman received four carries for seven yards, and Lewis’ sole carry gained no yards.
That is a serious lack of commitment to running the ball, and it would be easy to say that the circumstances dictated a lack of carries, but it seemed to be a conscious decision.
What also seemed to be a conscious decision was the limited role Lewis played.
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As a running back who came from Tennessee with the ability to be used as a runner and receiver, it was curious that he only received two touches, the other came on a 10-yard reception.
Not only are we left to wonder who will run the ball, but we're also left to wonder if the run game can and will be a legitimate part of the offense going forward.
Question 3: Is Daniel Jones good enough to win games?
Jones finished the game Sunday 17 of 32 for 179 yards. When you add in his rushing statistics, he accounted for 228 yards.
Those numbers are simply not good enough to win in the NFL, especially when you add in the interception and the fumble.
In three games this season, Jones has turned the ball over six times (four interceptions and two fumbles). Yet there seems to be no rhyme or reason behind the turnovers, which were a problem last year for him as well.
”I think you look at each one of those individually and try to understand what happened and what the mistake was and move on from it,” Jones said.
“I need to do a better job and that’s something I’m focused on. I think those are costly mistakes that I certainly need to correct.”
Jones only completed three passes over 20 yards, and one was in the fourth quarter after the game was out of reach, and the 49ers defense was playing more of a prevent look.
If the Giants can’t establish a run game, Jones will need to be able to take care of the ball, pick up first downs, and put the ball into the end zone, as while three-pointers hold value in basketball, they do not carry near the same amount of weight in football scoring.
The immediate future looks bleak for this offense, a unit that seems to now be void of explosive playmakers. If Jones can not get the ball in the hands of receiver Darius Slayton and tight end Evan Engram (both had only three receptions), it will be challenging to move the ball in large chunks.
The offensive line will need to get better movement on the ball as they seem to be protecting a little better than they were against the Steelers week one.
Head Coach Joe Judge knows that there are no quick fixes, only hard work ahead for the team.
“We have to coach better. We have to raise our level of execution as players and we gotta go ahead and keep pushing forward and improving on a daily basis,” Judge said.
“There’s no magic formula to this, There’s no magic wand, you don’t go out there and just solve every problem today. It’s a day by day process of putting things together.”