Sunday afternoon, the New York Giants’ inability to block for its offense was on full display and to a new extent.
The New York Giants have been unable to provide veteran quaterback Eli Manning and their offense with a reliable offensive line. During Sunday afternoon’s 34-29 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, they highlighted and further extended their year-long woes up front, in terms of run blocking and special teams execution.
In a game that appeared to be a lock for the visitor, New York looked doomed from the start, even with Nick Foles starting at quarterback in place of the red-hot Carson Wentz, who tore his ACL in Week 14. Instead, the Giants found themselves leading for the majority of the first half and in a position to win the game late in the fourth quarter.
Thanks to a 434-yard passing performance from Manning, the Giants were able to put 29 points up on the board. To work around the inconsistency of their O-Line, Manning found himself getting rid of the ball very quickly — at times as quick as one-to-three seconds.
Without Odell Beckham Jr and Brandon Marshall on the outside, as well as Weston Richburg, Justin Pugh and D.J. Fluker up front, who are all out for the year with an injury, the Giants’ offense has been decimated by injuries, making the team’s Sunday afternoon passing clinic remarkable.
The flip side of the success they found throwing the ball was that they were unable to develop a running game.
Rushing for 75 yards and averaging just 3.3 yards per carry, offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan’s offense couldn’t pound the rock. Whether it be Wayne Gallman (eight carries for 39 yards), Shane Vereen (five carries for 15 yards), or Orleans Darkwa (nine carries for seven yards), no Giant halfback was able to get it going versus defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s defense.
With an unreliable offensive line in place, consisting of Ereck Flowers, John Jerry, Brett Jones and Bobby Hart, to spitball, it’s been difficult for a running game to consistently present itself and, with the exception of today, a downfield game too. After Sunday, the Giants are now 26th in yards rushed (1,246).
In addition to their struggles towards blocking the run, the Giants were unable to allow special teams to operate with ease versus the Eagles. Yes, the problems spread into special teams.
Sunday afternoon, there were three select plays that significantly hurt the Giants and ruined their momentum.
The first disaster took place in the first quarter. After Darkwa scored from one yard out for the first score of the game, Aldrick Rosas had his point-after-attempt blocked — which put the team in an early hole if and when Philadelphia began to get the ball in the end zone.
Not too long after their opening-drive error, the Giants opted to punt. Then, disaster struck yet again. After the Eagles plowed through the Giants’ line, Kamu Grugier-Hill came in and blocked Brad Wing’s punt. Three plays later, the Eagles scored to make it 21-20.
To top it all off, the Giants sent Rosas in to kick what would’ve been a go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter. Failing to simply hold their own, the Giants allowed Malcolm Jenkins to sneak in and block Rosas’s field goal attempt — preventing them from taking a 32-31 lead.
The Giants were unable to block for Rosas on an extra point and a field goal attempt and also didn’t allow Wing to get a punt off deep in their own territory. It was already established that this team immensely struggles to protect its offense, but Sunday afternoon those struggles reached an all-time high; it’s now a special teams issue too.
Manning and the Giants put up 29 points, which given the injuries they’ve endured over the course of the season, is impressive. In fact, it’s the most points they’ve scored since Week 17 of the 2015 season (30) which, ironically, was against the Eagles. The offense put forth a plausible effort and had their best game of the year versus the bitter rival Eagles. Simultaneously, their inability to block and facilitate any sort of running game, or allow special teams to operate wasted their offense’s effort.
New York allowed a blocked punt, which later resulted in seven points for the Eagles, and was unable to allow Rosas to execute a total four points (extra point, field goal). Put those points that were left on the field together and the Giants could’ve won had those blunders not occurred.
Sterling Shepard finished with 139 yards, Evan Engram reeled in eight passes for 87 yards, Tavarres King had two touchdown receptions, and Manning had his best game, in terms of yards, since a Sunday night matchup versus the San Francisco 49ers back on October 11, 2015. The efforts of their receiving core and that of Manning were wasted by their O-Line’s inability to simply block and stop the Eagles from getting in and blocking kicks/punts.
This team’s woes up front were well-known, but Sunday afternoon the Giants’ struggles highlighted what’s been a disaster of a season and even found a way to reach an all-time low with their inability to block on special teams.