When the Giants’ offensive linemen watched the horror film that was Sunday night’s game against the Cowboys, they said they did not see the type of fetid football that many are assigning to the performance. While very few of the plays they ran worked — and there were very few plays, period, because of that — the problem was typically just one missing block, one misstep, one mistake. All from different sources. Ten guys doing the right thing, one not so much, and that 9 percent of the population on the field costing the entire team.
It was the same kind of issues they said they had last year. Not just one player. Not just one unit.
The difference this week, though, when they rewound the footage, was not in what they saw but how they felt. After an offseason spent promising the naysaying world that they would be an improved group not through any roster moves but by sheer determination and individual development, they looked worse than ever. So now they have just a few days to turn that narrative and back up their talk.
“There is more urgency to go out there and do what we have to do,” left tackle Ereck Flowers said Wednesday. “The urgency, man. We’re ready to put out what we know we can put out. I know we can. We get another opportunity this Monday.”
The Giants may be forced to make changes to their starting group. Right tackle Bobby Hart played most of the game with a sprained right ankle he suffered in the first quarter. He was wearing a heavy wrap Wednesday and unsure whether he will be able to practice this week. He’ll try to play, he said, but the Giants may have to start someone else there.
The options are not inspiring. D.J. Fluker played tackle before moving to guard with the Chargers, and he took snaps at both spots throughout the preseason. Undrafted rookie Chad Wheeler is technically the backup tackle, but is he ready to make the jump to starter? Other options include promoting Adam Bisnowaty, the draft pick who did not make the team out of camp, from the practice squad. The Giants also could move Justin Pugh there, uprooting him from left guard, where he has been one of their steadier players.
Hart, at least, had an excuse for his play Sunday.
“I mean, it’s my ankle, bro,” he said when asked how the injury affected him. “You try blocking on one ankle. You’re trying to stop people from pushing you, you’re trying to plant on your ankle and it’s just (not working).”
The others? They’re forced to take their lumps in the court of public perception.
“It’s in our face,” Pugh said of the criticism. “Every time I turn around, somebody is asking us what is wrong with the O-line.”
Blocking that out is as difficult as blocking pass rushers, it seems.
“At the end of the day, the people that are making the decisions are the people that are paid to know football,” Pugh said. “They’re the ones that are putting us out there, right? So, the people that are just going to watch on TV and want to make assumptions, that’s a whole other story. We can’t worry about the outside noise because we have games to win and we have to get ready for Detroit.”
Said Hart: “We’ve got broad backs. It’s New York, there is going to be a lot of criticism when things don’t go right. I’m sure everyone in that room knows that. It’s just a part of it. It’s the lay of the land.”
They also know they are not giving much of a rebuttal on the field. Which is why Monday’s game is so important to them. Why there is urgency.
“There are positives in everything, and there are negatives,” Flowers said. “You try to fix the negatives.”
For those who may have missed them, what were the positives?
“Does it really matter?” Flowers said. “We didn’t get what we wanted. So we’ll go out there next week and get what we want.”