Welcome to the Bizarro World known as the National Football League. The New York Giants, with whom we have firmly associated hot starts and cool November’s under Tom Coughlin, have come out of the gates lagging and listless. Now, let’s leave the media created mumbo jumbo on the side for a moment and focus on the evidence. If the statistics don’t lie (and they often do), the Jints will need an efficiency boost of seismic proportions to rebound from their first 0-3 start in seventeen years; on both sides of the ball.
Sustaining drives has been an arduous task for the Giants offense. Through three games they are converting on 29.4% of third-down opportunities (29th in the NFL), a steep drop from 47.7% in 2012. A non-existent running game has left them one-dimensional, giving opposing defenses the freedom to bump receivers off the line and tee off on Manning. To complicate the situation further, their -9 turnover margin ranks dead last in the NFC by a sizeable distance.
While offensively the Giants can’t stay on the field, defensively they can’t get off of it. Opponents are converting on third-down at an escalated rate of 47.7% (29th). The quantity of “damage shots” has been limited to seven 20+ yard plays, but the conservative route has also resulted in 68% completions against and prolonged drives. 22 missed tackles haven’t aided matters.
Establishing the Run
Oh, where have you gone Thunder & Lightning? The Giants running game has compiled a total of 133 rush yards at a clip of 2.7 per carry, all the while their opponents chew up 129 per game. Those ground numbers are equivalent to the success FAMU would achieve playing Ohio State three times. The explosive David Wilson has been limited to a long run of 18 yards. Only 17% of hand-offs have resulted in moving the chains (29th, sound familiar?), down from 32% a year ago. Opposing offensive units are picking up 32% of their first-downs via the ground game.
Futile Pass Rush
The Giants calling card pass rush has been M-I-A. The fearsome front-seven has led the way to three team sacks, tied for 31st in the league with (ironically) the Steelers. They’ve gotten just ten hits on the quarterback and 20 hurries. According to Pro Football Focus premium stats, the D has earned a composite pass rush rating of -15.6, ‘led’ by Jason Pierre Paul at -5.5. For some perspective on that rating: the Giants week four opponent, Kansas City, leads the NFL with a 15.2 rating. Only the Packers are worse at -16.8.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, poor offensive line play has frequently resulted in Eli Manning under fire. He’s been sacked 11 times in three games, including seven times last week (and six in the opening 30 minutes) against a Carolina team that had 3 sacks in the opening two weeks. The trio of Justin Pugh, Chris Snee and Will Beatty has been responsible for 32 quarterback hurries. To be fair, however, Manning has posted a 71.5 QB rating and thrown six of his eight picks when under no duress.
Red Zone Productivity
In nine trips into the “green zone” the Giants have crossed the goal line just four times. Conversely, their opponents have punched it in seven times in ten trips. Obviously the sample size is small, but struggling to capitalize on short fields once again highlights two shortcomings: inability to gain even serviceable yards with the run, and reliance on Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks to wreck the game with big plays.
*premium stats provided by profootballfocus.com*