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Special Report

Sent: 11-01-18

E-GIANTS
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.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: AS THE SEASON HITS THE MIDWAY POINT,
THE GIANTS MUST LOOK BACK (AND STOP REELING) IN ORDER TO MOVE FORWARD

By Aaron Klein

Welcome to the bye week. We don't need to do one of those cutesy mid-season report cards, do we?

There is plenty to be said, and very little. The Giants are 1-7 and no matter how you paint one part of the picture or the other, they are 1-7 because they can't finish, can't score enough points and can't win the battle at the line of scrimmage.

Here are just a few of the potential headlines that we could use to describe the first half of the year:

The defense has battled to keep the offense in games until it finally breaks. Still, the defense has allowed big plays, over 366 yards per game, 205 points (23rd in the league), 122 yards rushing per game but seven rushing touchdowns in all, a decent 244-yard passing per game and 11 passing touchdowns but just four interceptions and only 10 sacks. The defense has also allowed a 41-percent success rate on third-down conversions and an abysmal 100 percent on five fourth-down conversions.

Manning has been a disaster. He only has nine touchdowns against six interceptions. He can't extend plays or move away from incoming pressure. Obviously, he's gun-shy and hesitant. Oh, and his check-downs are terrible because he can't see open receivers.

But Manning is not the problem. He has suffered seemingly more pressures and hits than anyone in history, let alone the 31 actual sacks. He misses some opportunities but has struggled against coverage sacks and plenty of dropped passes that were on target in key moments.

The offensive line is a disaster. Many are tired of hearing that it takes a while for a new line to gel. Only Cleveland has suffered more sacks. If he continues to start the rest of the year, the easy math tells us that he'll be on pace for 62 on the year.

The rookie class has been strong. At least, it has been better than advertised, despite the apparent struggles of top pick Saquon Barkley (see: the offensive line).

Odell Beckham Jr., who quietly complained about not getting opportunities, has been targeted 91 times with 61 catches; some of those passes were off target, some were drops. He only has two touchdowns, however, and has seemingly been overlooked in the Red Zone.

And on and on.

Last week, the Giants traded cornerback Eli Apple and Damon "Snacks" Harrison, leading many to speculate that the team was holding a garage sale to clear the salary cap for next year, clear the locker room of less-than-desirable personalities and look to the future. Heck, they'd let former first-round pick Ereck Flowers go for free just a few weeks before. Surely, they would deal several more players before the Oct. 30 deadline, right?

They tried, or at least took calls while holding firm to the asking prices for a list of players that might have included cornerback Janoris Jenkins, defensive end Olivier Vernon, safety Landon Collins, wide receiver Sterling Shepard, defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. and maybe even Odell Beckham Jr. himself.

In the end, no deals were made on Tuesday and the team will press on with the guys they have. Trust that the Giants were not silent and general manager Dave Gettleman did not ignore the phone calls. Instead, they held firm, not wanting to give players up for less than they thought was fair.

Remember, they can trade anyone after the season is over and even after the new league year starts in the weeks leading up to the draft. They will, since there are salary cap implications that would be better solved by trading a few contracts and collecting a few more draft choices.

Oh, on Wednesday, the Giants were awarded guard Jamon Brown on waivers after he was let go by the Los Angeles Rams to make room for Dante Fowler, whom they acquired in a trade with Jacksonville. Brown has mostly played guard in the NFL but has some experience at tackle in the pros as well as college. The fact that he was the first one out the door when the Rams needed to make room tells us he may not be able to step in, start and fix all the world's problems.

During the run-up to the bye, there has been plenty of speculation and downright predictions that the Giants and head coach Pat Shurmur would/should bench Manning after the bye and give rookie Kyle Lauletta a shot, to "see what they have."

On Tuesday, Lauletta was arrested and charged with several traffic violations, apparently including reckless driving, as he tried to avoid a construction zone and new traffic patterns on the way to practice. Allegedly, he committed similar acts on Monday but drove off, instead getting his summonses via the mail.

The laws he allegedly broke and the potential points on his license - and even the possibility of a suspension handed down by the league - are relatively meaningless, really. He's 23. He made some mistakes. He didn't try to hurt anyone, there were no drugs or firearms involved and he's not a bad guy.

However, the real problem here is that the incidents allegedly occurred on Monday and Tuesday while he was supposed to be at the team's facility in East Rutherford for practice.

He was late, and for a guy many have talked up as at least having a chance to unseat Manning, being late enough to have to drive like a maniac is a bad sign. We thought the quarterbacks were always at the office at 6:30 in the morning to eat breakfast, study the playbook and watch film with Eli ... or was that just Davis Webb's habit?

On a legal level, this incident won't mean much in the long run. On a football level, we'll see how the team handles things. Don't forget, Manning has another year on his deal and while moving on from him in the off-season would save the team $17 million on the salary cap, keeping him might make for a better transition. Then again, a clean break might be best for everyone ... or not so much.

We'll see.

Send it all over to aklein22@verizon.net and follow me on Twitter @_AaronKlein
Don't forget to follow us on Twitter @E_Giants

Check out Dave's website at E-GIANTS where you can subscribe to his newsletters which run much more frequently than what is available here.
- Team Giants

NOW - Send a request to davesklein@aol.com for a free week's worth of news!

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