The Giants are 4-3 after seven games and they know they could easily be 5-2 or 2-5 entering the bye week. They have done some things well, but have huge problems in critical areas that could doom them in a season that is crucial to the well-being of many key executives and players.
What's gone right: well, not too much. The Giants are 20th in total offense and 19th in total defense. Those rankings usually mean you won't be playing deep into January. The Giants have managed to win four close games against teams that are just as discombobulated as they are. That's an improvement over last year, when they gave away six games in the fourth quarter.
Here are five things the Giants need to improve on if they are to get to nine or ten wins, which may or may not put them in the playoff hunt.
1) Open up the offense
I know, they already go three-wide most of the time, but what do they do out of that formation? Not a whole lot. The route tree is horizontal when it should be vertical and they are not taking advantage of their biggest asset - their wide receivers. They need to put pressure on defenses and throw the ball down the field more often. That will clear the box and hopefully give them some room to run the ball and balance out the offense.
2) Sign a fullback
It's obvious Eli Manning is uncomfortable in the pocket. He's hurrying throws and giving up on plays too early. Get him a big, bad bodyguard to watch his back. If he is more comfortable, the offense will flourish. A top-blocking fullback will also benefit the anemic running game. The Giants thought they could get away without one this season after they lost Will Johnson and Nikita Whitlock.
3) Dial up the blitz
The pass rush is there, they are just not getting home. Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon have been getting hurries but not sacks. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has occasionally helped them out by blitzing, but he's short in the secondary and does not want to get burned. It's hard to blame him for that. But with safeties Nat Berhe and Darian Thompson set to return, he will have sufficient personnel to get back to a pressure-based scheme.
4) Shake up the tight ends
As far as I know, this is already in progress. Larry Donnell doesn't appear to be progressing. He has ball security issues, is not a seam breaker and isn't a strong blocker. Will Tye is decent receiver but he also is not known for his blocking. Rookie Jerell Adams may end up being the best all-around option for them. Put him in.
5) Give Paul Perkins the ball
There is no question that Rashad Jennings is a talented back, but as Deion Sanders always says, "you can't help the club from the tub." Jennings can be the 'bell cow' back in a normal setting, but this Giant offense is not normal. They are not winning the battle up front on running plays; therefore a traditional back such as Jennings is not the answer. Rookie Paul Perkins has been likened to Tiki Barber. What's the problem here? Start increasing his touches.
There are certainly more items that could be added to this list, but I'm starting with these five. In order to play better football, the Giants will need to address these areas coming out of the bye week.