By Steve Silverman
It’s not enough to say the New York Giants are a mess.
That was clear several weeks ago, but it’s the number of areas where they have under performed that is truly amazing.
Head coach Pat Shurmur pulled off the latest goof with a mistimed two-point conversion attempt that blunted the team’s momentum as it tried to rally against the Atlanta Falcons Monday night.
The Giants were trailing 20-6 with less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter when Saquon Barkley crashed into the end zone from two yards out for the Giants’ first touchdown. Shurmur decided that was the optimum time to go for two points because it would have put the Giants in a position to win the game if they could get the ball back and score again had Atlanta not put additional points on the board.
Analytically, it makes some sense. But the idea was ridiculous because the Giants had finally done something to gain momentum with 4:52 remaining. Prior to the Barkley touchdown, they had been unable to finish drives against an Atlanta defense that had been among the most generous in the league for the first six weeks of the season.
The Giants are an awful red zone team, but Shurmur wanted to go for two points anyway.
Momentum disappeared the moment Odell Beckham Jr. failed to corral Eli Manning’s pass in the end zone.
Sure enough, the Falcons were able to move the ball on the next possession and extend an eight-point lead to 11 on Giorgio Tavecchio’s 56-yard field goal.
The Falcons didn’t care that the Giants were able to move downfield and score with just a few seconds on the board on a Manning-to-Beckham TD pass. Especially after the Giants ran back-to-back failed quarterback sneaks that did nothing but run valuable time off the clock. The Barkley two-point conversion that followed didn’t matter either, unless you were playing the game for fun and information purposes only. Congratulations if you were.
The Giants are a 1-6 football team and securely at the bottom of the NFC East. The Eagles have looked nothing like the superior team they were a year ago when they won the only Super Bowl in team history. The Cowboys are an up-and-down team that may get better after adding wide receiver Amari Cooper Monday. The Redskins are in first place, but they are an average team.
Dare we say the Giants have as much talent as any of these teams, but they simply don’t know how to execute. The offensive line is not good, but Eli Manning is simply too slow and unable to fight off the pass rush the way stronger and younger quarterbacks can. As a result, the offensive line may be getting even more criticism than is warranted.
This team was 3-13 a year ago, and a 4-12 or 5-11 record is on track for this season. When you have a brilliant rookie in Barkley and one of the most talented receivers in the league in Beckham, it makes the Giants’ record all the more maddening.
The organization that was one of the most respected in the NFL due to the brilliant leadership that Wellington Mara provided for so many years is in a serious downturn, and John Mara simply has no idea how to get the organization to function at an effective level.
He had a talk with Beckham in an effort to get the receiver on the same page as Shurmur and Manning, but what he really wanted was for Beckham to toe the company line. Beckham is likely to keep quiet for another week or two before he pops off again.
Shurmur is not very good at decision making, as he was frustrated by his team’s inability to execute in the red zone. He went for the touchdown on a fourth-and-goal situation in the third quarter, and the strategy failed. A field goal there could have proved vital since the Giants lost the game by three points.
The defense was shredded by Matt Ryan, and it was fairly amazing that Atlanta scored just 23 points. If they had reached 35 points or more it would not have been surprising.
Now they get to come home and play the Redskins, who are fresh off a victory over the Dallas Cowboys. The Redskins are big and bulky, but they don’t necessarily have the speed on either side of the ball to cause a lot of problems. However, they have an efficient leader in Alex Smith who is allergic to turnovers and big mistakes.
That gives them an advantage over the Giants, who are making multiple mistakes every week and find themselves quite at home in the basement of the NFC East.