Darius Slayton knows it’s been a good long while since the Giants have scored an offensive touchdown, even if he is quick to add that it isn’t something he or his teammates are necessarily dwelling on.
“It’s not at the forefront of your mind,” the receiver said on Thursday. “Obviously we know we haven’t, but you’re not sitting here counting the minutes and days and hours.”
Oh, no? Well, allow us.
It’s been 205 minutes of game play since Matt Breida’s 8-yard run reached the end zone in the game against San Francisco. That’s nearly three and a half full games. By the time the Giants play on Sunday against Washington, more than a month will have passed since that Sept. 21 achievement. The Giants have had 35 possessions since then, eight of which reached the red zone, three of which got inside the opponents’ 10, two of which in one game last week reached the 1 … and scored 21 combined points on seven field goals.
Saquon Barkley had a single-word reaction when confronted by one of those staggering statistics and the sizeable drought that appeared to shock him:
“Two hundred minutes?” he asked. “Dang.”
He should have used much stronger language.
In an age of football when the entire sport is tilted toward scoring, when rules and schemes favor the offense almost exclusively, and for a team that has two of the supposedly sharpest offensive minds in the game at the helm in Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka who came from point factories in Buffalo and Kansas City, going this long without reaching the end zone is beyond confounding.
Throw in the shutout loss to the Cowboys in the opener that doesn’t even figure into the recent streak of ineptitude and there isn’t a single person on the team who has stepped into the end zone with the football in his hands at MetLife Stadium this season. The last touchdown in the building that counted was early in the fourth quarter of the Jan. 1 game against the Colts when Daniel Jones scored on a 10-yard run to clinch a postseason berth and the fans were chanting his name in appreciation.
Point to all the upheaval and poor play on the offensive line all you like. Note that Barkley was sidelined for the majority of that stretch and that Jones seems poised to now miss his second straight game with a neck injury. None of it matters. None of it is a good enough excuse for what has become one of the most shameful displays of football in a recent team history that seems rife with such examples.
“There’s definitely a sense of urgency amongst the group and we’re all working to get that fixed,” Kafka, the offensive coordinator, said rather calmly.
We should hope so!
“I didn’t know it was [over] 200 minutes, but it’s simple,” Barkley said of the root of this regression. “We’re not executing. We’re not doing what we need to do. We get into the red zone and we have self-inflicted wounds whether it’s penalties or [mental errors]. You’ve got to hold yourself accountable. I go back to the game against the Bills and there is a run I slipped on. If I keep my feet it wouldn’t be 200 minutes.”
But he didn’t. So here we are. Two hundred and five minutes.
While the red zone was the issue last Sunday — the Giants were 0-for-5 — they only reached it three total times in the two and a half previous games. They scored three total points on those three efforts. The only touchdown was tallied by the Seahawks.
“It’s definitely something that we have to get better at,” said backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who will likely start a second straight game Sunday. “Eliminate penalties down there and just overall, just better execution in the red zone. We’ve had opportunities. We’ve just got to execute to our standard in that area. That’s something that we are working on, something that we are putting a focus on, and in order to get down there, you have to do the right things to put yourself in that position as well.”
Slayton remained confident the Giants will end this slump … eventually.
“You can’t afford to press,” he said. “You start pressing and making more of it than what it is, that’s how you make mistakes and start doing stuff that ultimately isn’t going to get you the results you want. Definitely be aggressive, have a sense of urgency for sure, but we know that it’ll come as long as we execute.”
Barkley made the point that the Giants don’t have to start posting an outrageous amount of points moving forward.
“I think that’s where a lot of people get confused,” he said. “The main thing is winning. Last year at this point we were 5-1 and a lot of people didn’t like how we were 5-1 because it was more old fashioned, we were running the ball, we weren’t throwing for 3,000 yards or whatever. But we were finding a way to win games. I think a lot of people would much rather be in that scenario than scoring a lot of points and still being 1-5.”
Fair … if the Giants were in fact scoring a lot.
These Giants are 1-5 mostly because they can’t score. Even with some teams having already enjoyed their bye week, the Giants’ 71 points — seven of which came on a defensive touchdown in Miami — ranks lowest in the NFL. The Patriots have scored more points than the Giants. One more, but more.
So now everything is on the table. Gadget plays. Personnel shifts. Creativity and back-to-basics fundamentals.
The weight of this streak is being felt throughout the entire organization, by those who track it and those who don’t.
“Whatever we have to do to try to score,” Daboll said.
Until they figure out that essential aspect of the sport, the humiliation will continue.