The Giants have dropped to 1-2 after a 30-12 loss to the 49ers on Thursday night. So in the team’s first three games, they’ve been outplayed by two NFC juggernauts in San Francisco and the Cowboys and needed to pull off a franchise-record 21-point comeback to beat the lowly Cardinals. Not great.
Big Blue’s gauntlet of a schedule continues when they face the Seahawks, Dolphins, and Bills over the next three games. Which means their playoff chances could heavily plummet unless they turn the tides against Seattle next Monday night.
What do the Giants need to do to essentially save their season and beat the Seahawks, a team they lost to by 14 last year?
Develop offensive line chemistry. The Giants have not rolled out the same starting offensive line in any of the first three games. Between injuries to left tackle Andrew Thomas (hamstring) and left guard Ben Bredeson (concussion) plus poor play from guard Mark Glowinski, head coach Brian Daboll has needed to make changes.
Regardless of what combination starts against the Seahawks (hopefully it includes Thomas and Bredeson), this unit must develop some sort of chemistry. Quarterback Daniel Jones needs time to find the various weapons the Giants acquired in the offseason and actually develop plays. Jones was flustered various times against the 49ers and was sacked on a two-point conversion attempt in the third quarter when defensive end Nick Bosa badly beat Evan Neal.
In a perfect world, Thomas (left tackle), Bredeson (left guard), John Michael Schmitz (center), Marcus McKethan (right guard), and Neal (right tackle) start against the Seahawks. And they continue to start. Because the team’s best five linemen need to develop chemistry in order to grow.
Find success on the ground. Saquon Barkley missed Thursday’s loss with an ankle injury and it’s unclear if he’ll return against the Seahawks. He’s a quick healer but rushing him back from injury has tended to backfire in the past.
Regardless of who suits up, the run game needs to take some pressure off Jones. The Giants’ rushing attack gained just 29 yards on 11 carries against the 49ers (2.6 yards per carry), with Matt Breida (17 yards on four carries) leading the charge (or lack thereof).
The offense can’t put the game completely in Jones’ hands. Some of the supporting cast needs to step up.
Start faster. The Giants have been awful in the first half this season. They’ve been outscored 63-6 in the opening two quarters (including 46-0 in the first two games) and the offense cannot find a rhythm. The Giants gained under 100 yards in the first half of each of their first three games. The last team to do that was the 2008 Rams, according to the Amazon PRIME broadcast. Who were a 2-14 squad that ended up with the No. 2 overall draft pick the following year.
That’s a bad team with which to be mentioned. The Giants need to hit the ground running from the opening kickoff to avoid playing from behind so often.
Get off the field. Third down was a huge problem for Wink Martindale’s defense on Thursday. And that might be an understatement. The 49ers offense converted nine of 16 tries and actually scored on a third down by way of a 9-yard Brock Purdy touchdown pass in the second quarter. These struggles were a big component in the incredibly lopsided time-of-possession battle, which the 49ers won 39:10 to 20:50.
Luckily, the Giants face a Seahawks team that’s only 20th in the NFL with a 35% third-down conversion rate through two games. So it could be a get-right game for the unit. Nonetheless the defense needs to improve in this area as it proved to be a major issue on Thursday.