Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 09-26-17

Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.


By Aaron Klein

If you're on the fence, or over it and on the dark side about the Giants and their 2017 prospects, you're not alone.

The Giants lost by just three points on Sunday in Philadelphia, scoring 24 points in their best output since they scored 27 points in a win over Cleveland on Nov. 27, 2016. With seconds to go, the Giants held a lead, the first time this year, and the defense held, seemingly just enough, following a terribly shanked punt by Brad Wing that sailed just 28 yards to the sidelines.

Still, after two touchdowns by Odell Beckham Jr., lightning-fast releases by quarterback Eli Manning that led to three touchdowns (and two picks), sudden appearances by receivers Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard, and a staunch pass defense that sacked Eagles' quarterback Carson Wentz three times and limited him to 21 completions, 176 yards and one score ...

Still, after the defense faltered three times out of three in the Red Zone and yielded 193 yards of rushing, revealing a serious problem, while the offense, desperate for a spark, put up just a paltry 22:28 of time of possession...

Still, after embarrassing celebrations by OBJ and rookie tight end Evan Engram that cost penalty yards, and a terrible running game that put up just 44 yards, a 30 percent third-down efficiency and 0-for-2 on fourth down...

Still, even after all that, the Giants led, 24-21, with less than a minute to play.

It couldn't be that easy, could it? The Giants just had to score a few touchdowns and a field goal and that would be it, they would get their first win of the season?

Sorry, folks. It's never that easy.

With 0:56 remaining, Philly's Jake Elliott nailed a 46-yard field goal to tie it. With that, the Giants' offense withered and after two penalties on Ereck Flowers for 20 yards negated 24 yards gained, Brad Wing punted from his own 34, shanking it just 28 yards to the sidelines to the Eagles 38.

Talk about difficult. After an incomplete pass from Wentz to Alshon Jeffrey, and just a second remaining on the clock, everyone assumed that overtime would be when the Giants would get their shot. Sure, the Eagles could have thrown the Hail Mary from the 43, but what the heck? Instead, they sent Elliott out for a 61-yard field goal longshot, which he made.

The Giants were defeated, in so many more ways than one.

So what do we make of all this ... the 0-3 record, the mess on the offensive line, the disastrous running game, the weak run defense, the ridiculousness of celebrations in the face of ugliness, the bizarre play calling - like throwing in from the one-inch line, then running it up the middle on fourth down right into the brick wall of failure?

What's that? Eli had a good game, so the line must have played better? No, the Giants schemed around that mess with quick passes, short routes and a fast pace. Remember, the running game was poor, though there were times that it looked like the backs made poor choices, missing out on yardage as a result. They didn't give the Eagles a chance to get to Manning, but that type of operation is tough to maintain over the course of a game, especially with a roster that's not designed for it. As the game wore on, the Giants wore down - the offense couldn't keep up the sprint and the defense was on the field for too long.

However, the passing scheme worked for a good portion of the time, with Manning hitting 35 of 47 passing attempts, his receivers doing the work with six receivers grabbing two or more passes. Shepard held the high hand on Sunday, catching seven passes for 133 yards, one impressive 77-yard touchdown and another a near miss, according to the referees.

Beckham Jr. was both electric and embarrassing. With nine receptions for 79 yards and two scores, one with a wildly impressive catch he made after guiding the ball with a tip, then trapping it against his shoulder pads while getting both feet in the end zone, it was clear that OBJ was back, completely from his high-ankle sprain. He's as exciting a player as there is in the league in a pure football sense. The speed, athleticism and awareness he shows is mind-boggling, just as much as are his silly celebrations - crawling on hands and knees like dog before lifting his leg to mimic canine urination, an act that drew a 15-yard penalty on the kickoff.

While Beckham Jr.'s penalty didn't cost the team too much (Aldrick Rosas' kick was fine, considering the 15-yard back-up), the potential for causing damage to his team as it desperately tries to win a game, let alone the concept of celebrating in such a brash and silly manner with an ugly, 0-2 start staring at he and the team. Last year, defenders got into OBJ's head and he lost his cool way too often. This year, so far, he seems brash and egomaniacal.

Is he flashing and flaunting because he wants to prove something, like he's the best player in the league and deserves the highest contract in history? Maybe. If he can catch nine or 10 balls a game, gain 100 or 150 yards or so and score a few touchdowns - as long as he doesn't cost his team in penalty yards - then he will prove just that. If not, and he becomes as much a liability as a weapon, the Giants won't be in a rush to open the vault.

There are those who still want to point the finger at Manning, and while that's fair to some degree, he did just about everything he could on Sunday to win. He was asked to change his game and he did. He needed a high completion percentage and he got it. They needed touchdowns and he delivered. Yes, he threw two interceptions, but he wasn't the reason the Giants lost.

Some want to blame head coach Ben McAdoo for doing a poor job calling plays. There may be something to that, once in a while, and the series at the goal line that left the Giants with nothing was awful and whoever made those calls deserves the blame.

Mostly, though, it all comes down to execution and, somehow, the ability of the players to minimize penalties and mistakes. On Sunday, the Giants committed 10 penalties for a costly 137 yards. Worse, they pulled out all the stops but showed inherent problems, deep ones, costly ones and ones that may find no answers over the next 13 weeks.

Comments? Questions?
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