Despite names like Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., and Ben McAdoo, the New York Giants offense is now the weakest part of the squad.
Heading into the 2015-16 season, offense was considered a strength for the New York Giants, and rightfully so. After all, the addition Sterling Shepard, the reintroduction of Victor Cruz, and another year of Will Tye, paired with proven offensive studs Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr., suggested that the Giants offense was set for a strong season.
Thus far, that really hasn’t been the case. The Giants have racked up 3,929 yards this season, which ranks 26th among 32 NFL teams. They are also averaging 20.4 points per game, which is tied for 23rd in the NFL.
This trend has also gotten worse:
NYG offense has gone from struggling to atrocious. Since Week 7, NYG have NFL’s 30th total offense. Only CLE & LA worse.
— Kimberly Jones (@KimJonesSports) December 5, 2016
On Sunday, the Giants six game win streak was snapped by the Steelers, who won 24-14 in Pittsburgh. Typically, holding the Steelers, who are blessed with a plethora of offensive weapons, to just 24 points would be enough to at least compete for the victory, but realistically, the Giants were never in it.
Eli Manning and the offense turned the ball over twice in the red zone. They struggled to move the ball on various drives. Victor Cruz received zero targets. The scoreline actually flattered the Giants, who scored at the very end of the game to cut the deficit to ten.
There is no shame in losing on the road at Heinz Field, but the manner in which the Giants lost is very concerning. As good as the defense has been, they certainly aren’t an elite unit, especially now that Jason Pierre-Paul is likely lost for the season. Without arguably their best pass rusher, the defense might struggle to keep the Giants in the win column if the offense keeps floundering.
This graph is a perfect indicator of how much the Giants are struggling compared to the rest of the NFL:
Why has the offense been struggling? For one, the run offense has been putrid. Condemning the Giants run game for its ineffectiveness sounds like a broken record, but there is definitely a valid point to be heard. The Giants, realistically, haven’t had a strong run game since 2008. The offensive line is wildly inconsistent, and has experienced injuries to Justin Pugh, who is probably the units best player. Rashad Jennings and Paul Perkins aren’t exactly striking fear into opposing defenses.
Another reason is the offensive line as a whole. General Manager Jerry Reese doled out the big bucks on the defensive line this summer, resigning Jason Pierre-Paul and splashing the cash on Olivier Vernon and Damon Harrison. However, the offensive line was left untouched, despite the fact that the unit struggled as a whole a year ago. In particular, second year pro Ereck Flowers has really struggled. Flowers was viewed as the franchises left tackle of the future when he was drafted ninth overall in 2015– a selection that an overwhelming amount of draft pundits viewed as a reach.
According to NJ.com, Flowers has had 12 penalties called against him this year, which is joint most in the NFL among offensive lineman. He also has 8 holding penalties, which leads the league. Flowers was also responsible for 8 of the 12 pressures this weekend against Eli Manning, and is ranked 62nd out of 77 tackles for the year by Pro Football Focus.
This is startlingly bad, considering left tackle is the most important position on the offensive line. Flowers is showing an inability to protect Eli’s blind side — that is, if he doesn’t get called for a penalty before the play is even allowed to develop. While Flowers has always been seen as a raw player possessing immense talent, at some point, he needs to start showing tangible progression instead of startling regression.
The Giants are also incredibly predictable — their three wide, one tight end set is almost expected, and despite Eli trying to push the hurry up, no huddle offense, defenses already know what to expect. The Giants rarely take shots down the field, they barely run the football, they can go whole games without targeting their best receivers (no targets for Shepard against Cleveland, no targets for Cruz against Pittsburgh).
Last season, the Giants averaged 26.3 points per game. This year, they haven’t scored over 30 points once, and have scored under 20 points five times this season. Remember, last season they didn’t have Sterling Shepard or Victor Cruz.
At 8-4, New York still stands a great chance at making the postseason. Their shot at the division title is effectively gone, but they can realistically win half of their remaining games and sneak into the playoffs. If results go their way elsewhere, they could even go 1-3 down the stretch and still sneak in at 9-7.
But if they make the playoffs, they will struggle mightily against better offenses and better defenses than what they’ve faced. It’s a harsh fact to get accustomed to, but if the Giants offense doesn’t fix itself soon, another late season collapse could be in the cards.
We’ll see how the Giants offense rebounds against a Dallas team that has won twelve straight and is hungry for revenge against the only team to defeat them all season. Let’s just hope the Boys don’t run the G-Men right off the field.