The main fallout from the inability of the Giants’ offense to score is losing.
People giggle when coaches or analysts list a key to victory as “scoring more points” than the other team, but when a team is struggling to reach the end zone — or even scoring range — it’s no laughing matter. Through two games this season, only the Bills and the Cardinals have scored fewer points than the Giants.
An auxiliary fallout — and one that can turn even uglier — comes when those losses are close despite the lack of scoring. Both of the Giants' games have been within reach in the fourth quarter and both have been decided by one score. That can create a dangerous imbalance in the locker room where the defense may grow frustrated by the offense.
While they have nothing to show for it but an 0-2 record, the Giants defense is ranked No. 10 in points allowed (20.0 per game) and No. 6 in yards allowed (301.5). Their scoring stats look even more impressive if you take away the touchdown the Jaguars scored on an interception return. In terms of pure offensive touchdowns, the Giants have allowed three in two games. Only the Rams (1), Dolphins and Vikings (2 each) have allowed fewer.
Damon Harrison, one of the team’s top defenders, insisted that his group will not turn on the offense.
“Giving up 20 points [per game] is not exactly great defense,” he said.
Maybe not. And the Giants do fall short in some other defensive categories such as sacks and takeaways. But certainly the majority of the blame for the 0-2 record falls on the team’s inability to score 20 points, not its allowing of such a modicum standard, right?
Not so, said Harrison.
“The offense puts up three points, it’s our job to go out and pitch a shutout,” the defensive tackle said. “It’s never about what the offense is doing. I know that’s easy to say from the outside looking in, but we feel like we shouldn’t have to give up any touchdowns to give our team the best chance to win.”
Harrison also noted that allowing early scores against the Jaguars and Cowboys did not help either side of the ball.
“When we basically give a team seven or 10 points in the first quarter, we’re putting a burden on our offense as well as our defense,” he said. “So, it’s not anything the offense is doing.”
Or, more to the point, isn’t doing.
The 2018 Giants weren’t designed to have a shutdown defense. Nobody thought they’d be the 2000 Ravens. They were designed to have an offense that could generate a lot of points and a defense that would allow a few less. Just look at where the resources were spent in the offseason: First- and second-round picks on the offense, signing a player who at the time was the highest-paid tackle in the NFL, and then extending their wide receiver whose contract flirts with the $100-million barrier. All of that was invested for one purpose: Points.
It may be too early for a schism to develop. And there may be games coming up when the Giants’ offense comes to life and the defense can’t keep them in a game and they lose. That’s part of being on a team. So far, though, the balance has been out of whack.
Immediately after Sunday night’s loss, safety and defensive captain Landon Collins tweeted: “We will figure this out . . . We are too good of a team and a family.” The hashtag he used? #weareone.
For now, they are. Nothing creates discord in an NFL locker room like one person or one unit not pulling its weight. When guys feel like they are doing enough to win but aren’t, it can fester. Side eyes turn to snide remarks and pretty soon the team is in dysfunction, turning on itself.
The Giants aren’t there yet. But they need to fix their offense and start scoring points, not just for the victories but for harmony’s sake as well.