By Brad Carroll
From Super Bowl dreaming to simply dreaming of winning a single game, this season for the New York Giants has taken a drastic turn heading into Week 3. After losses to start the year to the Cowboys and Lions, the latter of which came at home, the Giants already are facing a virtual must-win game against the Eagles in Philadelphia Sunday.
With the odds already stacked heavily against any team that begins the season 0-2 making the playoffs, the numbers drop drastically if the mark reaches 0-3. And the Giants are 6.5-point underdogs in Philadelphia, which is a gigantic spread in the NFL.
There is a lot to blame for the horrible start, including an offense that appears to be lost, even with star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. returning from injury, an offensive line that is full of holes, with Ereck Flowers being the biggest offender, to a defense that isn’t making enough plays to make up for the offense’s failures. Even coach Ben McAdoo threw quarterback Eli Manning under the proverbial bus, putting the blame squarely on him for the terrible beginning.
The fact is the Giants have scored just 13 points this season. The Jets, the team which many thought would have the worst offense by far in all of football, has scored 32 points. Nobody would have thought the Jets would have a better offense than the Giants, but that’s exactly how this disaster of a season has played out so far.
But the Giants can’t look back now, as there is nothing from those two games to hold on to. They have to simply look ahead and focus on winning what is the biggest game of the season, in Week 3 no less, and finding a way to get a win. Here are three keys to the Giants getting that win Sunday in Philadelphia.
Eli Manning Must Have Vintage Performance
After two weeks this much is obvious: Manning and his receivers have to play better in order to win. Manning has thrown for just 459 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions this season. Beckham Jr. caught four passes for 36 yards in his debut last week, but also had a drop on fourth down that ended the game. Brandon Marshall has been a complete waste of a signing so far, as he has two catches for 27 yards in two games, even more alarming considering Beckham Jr. didn’t play in Week 1. He also had a key drop that could have changed the complexion of the game against Detroit. Evan Engram, the rookie tight end, leads the team in receiving yards, with 93, and a touchdown. All these numbers add up to two losses. The Giants have to find a way to get Manning going, and Beckham Jr. and Marshall must help him along the way. If the Giants can’t pass the ball efficiently, they will be 0-3 and it will officially be panic time.
Giants Defense Must Create Turnovers
What’s the best thing a defense can do for its offense? Create turnovers. This Giants offense needs them especially, as having a short field to work with would be the best thing to possibly get the team on the scoreboard. The Giants defense has created just one turnover so far, a fumble recovery by Devon Kennard, and that’s not going to cut it when you’re dealing with an offense that’s scored just one touchdown. If the Giants defense can force an early interception in Eagles’ territory, it could be the catalyst for the offense to finally wake up and regain the confidence that appears to have evaporated early on. Turnovers will be key, especially playing in a hostile environment.
Offensive Line Must Protect
We all know the disaster of a lineman that is Ereck Flowers, who allowed three sacks to Ziggy Ansah last week, but the entire offensive line is going to have to protect Manning or the offense will never get going. The Eagles already have 8.5 sacks this season, with two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries to boot. That’s bad news for a bad, and banged-up, offensive line. Winning the line of scrimmage might be tough battle for the Giants, but they have to at least give Manning some time to throw, and open up some running lanes when the Giants do run the ball. The running game has been horrific as well, with the leading rusher being Orleans Darkwa, with 31 yards. Thirty-one yards … in two games. The offensive line has to be a whole lot better than it has been over the first two games, that's for sure.