Giants offense gets blues in red zone

Giants running back David Wilson (22) runs for

Giants running back David Wilson (22) runs for a touchdown against the Jets at MetLife Stadium. (Aug. 24, 2013) (Credit: Lee S. Weissman )

Home run or strikeout. And a lot of the latter.

That seems to be the personality of the Giants' starting offense through three preseason games as their inability to string successful plays together becomes a source of concern.

It helped that they went yard on the first pitch, a handoff to David Wilson that he took around left end 84 yards for a touchdown and an early 7-0 lead. But that was one of three plays -- together with a 20-yard reception by Jerrel Jernigan and a 34-yard one-handed grab while being held by Hakeem Nicks -- that totaled 138 of the Giants' 181 first-half yards with the starters on the field. It took them 29 plays to accumulate the other 43 yards in Saturday night's 24-21 overtime loss to the Jets.

"Offensively, we're just not clicking the way we need to be clicking," Eli Manning said. "We all know that to get the offense going the way we want it to, it's about execution. For whatever reason, that's just not happening for us right now."

The most glaring example of the deficiency in the Giants' all-or-nothing tendency came late in the first half, which ended with the Giants leading 10-7.

A drive after Manning threw a pass into the end zone for a wide-open Nicks that fell incomplete, Manning threw the long pass to Nicks that he hauled in with Kyle Wilson tugging on his left arm and it brought the Giants to the 4. After that, though, the Giants went four-and-out. Manning threw an incompletion to Jernigan, who couldn't escape the coverage of Calvin Pace, Andre Brown ran up the middle for 2 yards and then no gain, and on fourth-and-goal, Manning tried to hit Nicks on a fade in the left corner. Dawan Landry broke it up.

It was the seventh time in the preseason that the Giants offense reached the red zone, all of them with Manning at the helm of the starting offense. It was the seventh time they failed to score a touchdown, the second time they scored zero points.

"The one thing that's really disappointing to me is where we are offensively," Tom Coughlin said. "No consistency whatsoever. We've got work to do on the offensive side of the ball. Whatever is going on, we've got to solve it and we've got to solve it fast. We don't have much time."

Manning completed just 8 of 20 passes for 83 yards and a passer rating of 52.7, which probably wouldn't have been enough to win the Jets' starting job Saturday night. But not everyone was as frantic about the performance.

"It's preseason, it's good for us to get all that stuff in and get it straight so by the time Dallas comes, we'll be in sync and ready to go," Nicks said. "Once everybody gets back in the lineup and we get to focus on playing a whole game and focus on our game plan, I think everything is going to be in sync the way it's supposed to be."

The only other offensive touchdown scored by the Giants this preseason was, like the Wilson run, a long and quick strike on a 57-yarder from Manning to Victor Cruz against the Steelers two weeks ago. Cruz missed most of last week's game against the Colts after bruising his heel, did not play Saturday night, and is not expected back until the regular-season opener.

While the Giants' offense struggled, the defense kept giving it opportunities, with three interceptions in the first half off rookie Geno Smith. The Giants converted those into three points.

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