It’s a strange dynamic the Giants have going on this season.
Their defense is ranked last in the NFL in yards allowed and next to last in both run and pass defense. Ghastly numbers. They should be the reason for the 2-11 record. And yet it’s the offense that feels the need to continually apologize to them.
At least it has in the past, such as when Eli Manning spoke a few weeks ago about how hard it is when one side of the line of scrimmage isn’t carrying its weight or when Evan Engram profusely put the blame on the team’s inability to score after Sunday’s 30-10 loss to the Cowboys.
“Our defense was playing unreal,” Engram said. “It’s ridiculous how well they played and how good they are. We have to help them out.”
While the offense may not be ranked as low as the defense, it’s pretty clear that the majority of the losses this season have come from a lack of scoring and not a lack of stopping the scoring. There have been only three games in which the Giants allowed 30 or more points. The Giants, as has been well documented, have not scored 30 points in a game since 2015.
“It’d be easy to complain, and to bark at each other and say it’s not fair and that one side’s not doing their part, but we haven’t fallen into that trap,” Manning said. “We just don’t have that firepower to finish these games.”
Consider that Odell Beckham Jr. played in parts of only four games this season and hasn’t been on the field in more than two months. Yet he still is fifth on the team in receptions, tied for third in receiving yards and second in receiving touchdowns. No one has been able to step up and come close to providing the kind of production he brought to the team. His presence on the sideline Sunday against the Cowboys was a reminder of just what this team is missing.
Not that Manning needed his memory jogged.
“We don’t maybe have the guys that can catch a short one and take it 80 yards,” he said Monday regarding his “lack of firepower” comment, “but we have guys that can make plays and do things and we’ve got to stay in good down and distance and just execute the opportunities that we do have.”
They haven’t been able to do that. Roger Lewis Jr. had two key third-down passes come his way in Sunday’s loss. He caught one of them short of the sticks and the Giants punted. He dropped the other.
And so the defense wears down. The Giants have allowed 130 fourth-quarter points this season, the most in the NFL. They have allowed 142 total points in the first halves of their 13 games, ranked a respectable 19th.
“I think you just have to make the plays that are there to be made,” Manning said. “Sometimes we’re doing some good things. We’re not getting many explosive plays, but we’ve got to find ways to make the plays that are there. If we get to third and manageable, we’ve got to make some throws, make some catches, just do some of those things right.”
Until they can, they’ll continue to be the reason the team with the league’s worst statistical defense continues to lose.
Notes & quotes: The Giants added two players off AFC West practice squads, signing WR Hunter Sharp from Denver and OL Damien Mama from Kansas City. They also signed TE Ryan O’Malley and DB Tim Scott to their own practice squad.