It's time for Ben McAdoo to go back to the drawing board, because whatever he's doing, it's just not working.
His once-dangerous offense has completely stalled, continuing a trend that really has been evident since the beginning of the season. Eli Manning is off his game. The offensive line is struggling. And on the other side of the ball his pass rush is a disaster and his secondary is falling apart.
On the bright side, it's still early and the Giants are only 2-3. And with a schedule that's not horrible, this doesn't have the same feel of crisis being experienced by the other team in town. But the bad signs are definitely alarming and there are a lot of things McAdoo needs to quickly fix. Many of them are covered below in my 10 takeaways from the Giants' 23-16 loss in Green Bay on Sunday night:
1.) It's hard to describe how awful Manning was in this game. He's definitely not the only one (and I'll get to all the others) but his throws were off-target right from the start. The biggest one came in the second quarter when he overthrew tight end Will Tye on what would've been a 60-yard touchdown. Yeah, Tye got his hands on it and all receivers say they should catch anything they can touch. But the beauty of Manning in his best years was his ability to throw passes in the perfect spots and help out his lesser receivers. This time he didn't, and he followed that up one play later with a fumble on a pass rush that wasn't coming from his blind side. He's just simply got to be better than 18 of 35 for 199 yards. He's got to be better than two touchdown passes in four games. He's got too many weapons around him for him to use anything as an excuse.
2.) He does have one excuse, though: His offensive line was awful. Again. And it was a particularly bad night for left tackle Ereck Flowers, who has really struggled with blocking and with penalties all season long (and given his physical confrontation with a reporter after the game, it's obviously all becoming a little bit too much for him to handle). Manning was under pressure so much that he began to do what he has done far too often in his career -- he started to feel pressure when the pressure wasn't actually there. Giants GM Jerry Reese once described that behavior as "skittish," and that's an apt way to describe how Manning played Sunday night.
3.) Remember when Ben McAdoo was an offensive genius, and when the Giants hired him in large part because of his work with Manning and the offense? Somehow the Giants are now one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league and the last two weeks his offense has been positively dismal. Now, last week in Minnesota the Giants faced one of the NFL's best defenses. But this week? The Packers had one of the league's worst pass defenses and they were missing their top two corners. It's almost impossible to believe the Giants' offense had only 176 passing yards against them and an embarrassing 219 overall.
4.) Odell Beckham, Jr.'s garbage time touchdown catch was dazzling. It was a great route adjustment by him and the way he got his foot down and somehow kept his heel off the end line? That was spectacular. It was also his first touchdown catch of the season, which is just crazy. Beckham, by the way, again had little impact, catching just five of the 12 passes thrown his direction for 56 yards. But unlike last week in Minnesota, this time it looked like it was much more the quarterback's fault.
5.) Give Beckham credit for his behavior, too, since that was something of a big topic last week. The one time where there looked like there might be an incident, where he took a borderline hit on the sidelines, he raised his hands, shook his head and just kept on walking back to the huddle. But the best scene was after his touchdown when he didn't celebrate at all on the field. He ran right to the sidelines where he gave a big hug and kiss to the kicking net -- sort of an apology for when he slammed his helmet into the net two weeks ago. It's a good sign that he still has his sense of humor and can poke a little fun at his situation in the face of some pretty intense media and public scrutiny lately -- and in the middle of a pretty disappointing loss, too.
6.) The Giants' secondary actually did a pretty impressive job against the Packers' dangerous passing offense, all things considered. They began the game without two of their top three safeties (Darian Thompson, Nat Berhe), they lost CB Eli Apple (groin) early and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was pretty limited with a groin injury. It wasn't ideal having rookies CB Michael Hunter and S Andrew Adams logging a ton of time -- and Hunter did get beat on a Davante Adams touchdown down the sidelines -- but they did a good job of containing and covering the Packers. It certainly could've been a lot worse.
7.) Finally, a takeaway as part of my 10 takeaways. Two interceptions by Janoris Jenkins, the Giants' $62.5 million corner. Try to forget for a moment that it's pretty insane that the Giants went four games without a turnover. Jenkins had been close a few times in those games and he very nearly picked off two more against the Pack. He's really been terrific. His ability to cover has been extraordinary. And in a secondary where he gets very little help, that can't be easy.
8.) Speaking of not getting any help: The amount of time Aaron Rodgers had to sit in the pocket and pick apart that Giants' secondary was almost unfair. So no more talk, please, about how Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon are happy with the way the defensive line is playing and that the sacks will come, but sacks aren't everything. At some point they've actually got to get to the quarterback and bring him down. These quarterbacks the Giants are facing are not feeling any pressure at all.
9.) The Giants have gotten some nice work out of Bobby Rainey and Paul Perkins in the two weeks they've played without Shane Vereen. In this game, Rainey ran five times for 22 yards and Perkins rushed twice for nine yards -- not impressive numbers, but not terrible against a defense that had been giving up just 1.8 yards per carry. And Rainey caught six passes for 52 yards while Perkins had one 13-yard catch. That's 14 touches for 97 yards, which isn't bad at all. They actually even got some nice blocking in front of them on a couple of screen passes -- which I mention so you don't think I'm completely negative when it comes to the Giants' terrible offensive line.
10.) Alone in last place, the Giants missed a pretty big opportunity with the Eagles losing 24-23 to the Detroit Lions. It's an opportunity that might not come again soon, either, because there's no denying it now: The Cowboys (4-1) and Eagles (3-1) both may be pretty good. I still think that since both have rookie quarterbacks there will be struggles sooner than later that will bring them back to the pack a bit. But at this point, who knows if the Giants will be in position to take advantage by then?