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Giants offense at times seems together before falling apart

Giants running back Saquon Barkley runs the ball

Giants running back Saquon Barkley runs the ball against the Saints at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The only thing worse than having a bad offense might be having a bad offense that at times looks functional.

That’s what the Giants are saddled with now. They are a flickering light bulb.

They are able to move the ball down the field with calmness and efficiency at times, providing glimpses of the way things could be. Should be. But just as soon as those fleeting moments of success arrive, they vanish and the team returns to a plodding, uninspired, sloppy group.

The Giants achieve just enough to be considered underachieving and are just good enough to be disappointing. These are the crevices in which frustration festers, not when a team understands and accepts its ineptitude but when it knows it should be better.

Sunday’s 33-18 loss to the Saints was a perfect example. The Giants opened the game with a 10-play, 75-yard drive for a touchdown. In terms of offensive standards, it was a thing of beauty. Every snap gained yardage. Five different players touched the ball on the first five plays.

After that, though, it took the Giants another 36 minutes to score again. It took another 49 minutes to get back to the end zone.

“Why can’t we do that every drive, you know?” rookie guard Will Hernandez said Monday. “We can do that every drive. We’re capable of it. We just have to get it all together and make sure we go out there and do it. It’s one thing to say it, one thing to do it one drive, but in order to keep that up, it takes more effort and more energy, and that’s what we have to be able to do.”

Hernandez was on some awful teams in college at UTEP. They were incapable of moving the ball at times. You can almost feel sorry for those types of teams.

These Giants, though? With Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard? And drives like the one Sunday or the few the week before that illustrate the potential? There’s more impatience than pity for them.

“They’ve had production,” coach Pat Shurmur said Monday. “It’s not enough. I get that. I get it.”

Said Barkley: “It’s not that it hasn’t clicked yet. We showed signs and we have sparks and we have great momentum drives at times.”

But there are more times when they don’t.

“It would be frustrating no matter what when you’re not moving the ball, no matter if you have the skill or don’t have the skill,” Barkley said. “But we know we have the skill and the talent and the leadership on this team. We know it’s there.”

Everyone does because it shows up. And then it disappears.

The younger players seem to believe it is a mindset that is holding the Giants back.

“We lost momentum,” Barkley said of what happened Sunday. “Football is a momentum game and that’s something that we lost. We came out great. Stick with it. Step on the gas. Put your foot on the pedal and finish the game strong.”

“It’s a matter of are you willing to come out the next drive and do it all over again?” Hernandez said. “You have to be able to strain through it and know you’re going to be worn out at the end of games, but if that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes. And that’s what we need to do.”

Whatever the reason, the Giants need to figure out how to keep the offensive light bulb on, or the rest of their season will be played in the dark.

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