New York Giants: What went wrong versus Dallas Cowboys

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 10: Ezekiel Elliott
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 10: Ezekiel Elliott /
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In terms of starting the season, not much went right for Big Blue on Sunday night.

The New York Giants started slowly, and except for one drive, showed little offense in Texas. The defense was serviceable, but that was not enough as the G-Men dropped their opener 19-3 to the Dallas Cowboys.

The Giants not only lost their opener, but they dropped down in the NFC East right from the jump. It’s not a good scenario for the G-Men heading into their home opener against the Detroit Lions on “Monday Night Football”.  After the Lions contest, the G-Men travel to face the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 24th.

The Detroit game has suddenly become a must-win, against a good opponent.

Offensive guru?

At this point, there should not be any excuses for the offensive woes. The team has been in Ben McAdoo’s system for a while now. And in his second-year as a head coach, McAdoo should know his personnel like the back of his hand. The loss of Odell Beckham. Jr. did affect the offense. But it wasn’t like the team didn’t have enough time to adjust for the loss of their star receiver.

So what gives?

New York Giants running backs had ten total carries. Wrap your head around that. Nothing could scream lack of confidence in the running game louder than abandoning it. Overall the rushing attack lacked quantity and quality, the Giants averaged 2.9 yards per carry, which included a Sterling Shepard end around.

Speaking of the end around, Ereck Flowers whiffed blocking Dallas linebacker Jaylen Smith. If Flowers can even chip Smith, the play becomes a long gainer. It’s one of many nuances that have this offense dying of a 1,000 cuts.

Another case in point was DeMarcus Lawrence’s first sack on Eli Manning. Most of Twitter pointed out the obvious stunt, and blamed guard John Jerry for the sack. But in reviewing the play, it seems like tight end Evan Engram could have chipped Lawrence to at least slow him down. Right tackle Bobby Hart engaged Lawrence, but barely slowed him down. Hart could have been more stout at the point of attack, and the entire play shows a disturbing lack of cohesiveness.

Related Story: Bobby Hart doesn’t care about New York Giants critics

Even NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth keeps pointing out, that the tackles need help. And McAdoo continues to put them on sink-or-swim island.

A team loss

As much as everyone pointed at the offense this week, the entire New York Giants operation did not perform well. This assessment includes the coaching staff. We are fast approaching the time when we have to consider all options.

New York Giants
New York Giants /

New York Giants

In reality, there were some blips on the defensive side of the football too. On the other hand, the unit only gave up 19 points. But it did not create a turnover, or give Eli Manning and company a short field. The field position battle was lost all night. The offense didn’t help the defense, and the defense didn’t help the offense.

For starters, the Giants defensive ends did not get enough pressure on Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott. That shouldn’t be expected every week. A major cause for concern is cornerback Eli Apple, who graded out poorly (37.6) according to Pro Football Focus. Before you rationalize Apple’s play as youthful growing pains, understand this.  The top cornerback this week, according to Pro Football Focus, is Anthony Brown (90.5 grade). He was drafted in the sixth round of the same draft where Apple went 10th.

Overall, the defensive performance was tepid at best.

Long season ahead

The folks who are giving up on the New York Giants season are wrong. Conversely, the confident fans, who believe this will all change, are not right either. Some players have to play better, and the coaches have to improve as well.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – NOVEMBER 14: A New York Giants fan cheers during the first half of the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on November 14, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – NOVEMBER 14: A New York Giants fan cheers during the first half of the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on November 14, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

If improvement occurs, then this ship can be righted. A repeat of the effort in Dallas, however, will not bring many wins to Big Blue. The Giants lost every statistical category out there, except for punting average.

The Giants lost the time of possession battle by almost 10 minutes. The G-Men ran almost 20 less plays than the Cowboys, and they ran the ball 20 less times than the ‘Boys. Stop with the rationalization. Stop with the excuses. The New York Giants were beaten by a superior Dallas Cowboys team.

Once everyone acknowledges that, then the recovery can begin.