EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants defense is a disaster and nothing -- not Saquon Barkley, not a quarterback change, not a miracle -- is going to help them salvage the season if the defense continues to play like this.
For the second straight week, the defense was barely a speed bump on the road to another loss, especially in the first half as the Giants fell into a deep hole. The Buffalo Bills racked up 260 yards in the first half alone and scored on three of their first four possessions, all while second-year quarterback Josh Allen was made to look like Johnny Unitas. It all unraveled in a 28-14 loss to the Bills that could have been -- and probably should have been -- worse.
And it's nothing new either. The pass rush is simply nonexistent. Linebacker Markus Golden, imported from Arizona in the hopes that he could revive his career after an ACL injury, had a sack on the second drive. That was good. That was also one of the few times the Giants' pass rush got anywhere near Allen all game. He had all day long to throw, and when he did leave the pocket, no one could catch him.
And oh, by the way, Allen's numbers (19-of-30, 253 yards) were deflated a bit because in the second quarter he had receiver John Brown wide open, far beyond the Giants' last line of defense, but he overthrew him on what should've been a 52-yard touchdown pass.
The sight of Brown wide open wasn't surprising because everyone gets wide open on this secondary. Cole Beasley -- on nobody's list of the NFL's best receivers -- caught four passes for 83 yards and barely had to work at finding open space. Isaiah McKenzie even befuddled the Giants corners, especially when they were in a zone defense. He had a 26-yard catch in the first quarter that would've been a 48-yard touchdown if he hadn't tripped over his own feet.
In all, the Giants defense gave up three touchdowns on the first five drives of the game. Through two games, they've been on the field for 10 first-half drives and surrendered seven touchdowns.
Yes, things got better in the second half. But still, when the Giants needed a stop in the fourth quarter, they couldn't get one. They came close. They had Allen on the run on a third-and-6, but they couldn't actually reach him and he extended the play until he found Brown for a 17-yard gain and a first down. One play later, running back Devin Singletary ran through the Giants defense for 20 yards.
And then, just as it looked like the Bills would settle for a field goal, rookie defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence draws a personal foul that puts Buffalo's offense back on the field. Of course, they scored. So instead of the Giants getting the ball back with a chance to tie, they were in a 14-point hole with 5:53 to play.
The Giants offense isn't good either. But they have no shot right now of scoring enough to keep up with the breakdowns on the defensive side of the ball.
Here are a few more takeaways from the loss that dropped the Giants to 0-2...
- Give Pat Shurmur credit for getting the message. One week after he was (rightfully) criticized for underutilizing Saquon Barkley, he went the opposite way on the first drive of the game. The Giants ran on their first five plays -- four of them by Barkley -- culminating in a 27-yard touchdown Barkley touchdown run. And while Barkley was excellent on that series (four carries, 55 yards), the Giants' offensive line was phenomenal against a very good Buffalo front. Barkley finished with 18 carries for 107 yards.
- Go ahead and keep blaming Eli Manning for the Giants' offensive failures, but here's a fact: His receivers are just not getting open. Considering they started Bennie Fowler, Cody Latimer and Russell Shepard, that's not a surprise. They're also not dependable. The Giants' second and third drives were killed because of that. He had tried to hit Latimer in open space on third down on the second drive, but Latimer couldn't get out of his break. Then on the next drive, Fowler (five catches for 51 yards, despite being targeted 10 times) dropped a third-down pass. Fowler dropped another one late in the first half when he was wide open down the sidelines, but couldn't hang on as he took a big hit. It's hard to blame the quarterback for that.
- Still, Manning wasn't good. He only went 26-of-45 for 250 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, while having too many passes batted down at the line and overthrew a couple of open receivers. He narrowly avoided a disaster in the fourth quarter when he was trying to hit WR Russell Shepard and Bills LB Tremaine Edmunds cut off the route and got his hands on the ball. He couldn't hold on. If he had, it would've been an easy Pick-6.
- Play calls that don't make sense: In the fourth quarter, the Giants have a third-and-2 from the Bills' 15. Time for Barkley, right? Nope. The Giants line up in the shotgun. TE Evan Engram runs a short route along the line of scrimmage and catches a pass for no gain. I mean, if you're going to throw there, doesn't the receiver have to run beyond the first-down marker?
- Speaking of Engram. He was a total non-factor, catching six passes for 48 yards. Manning only threw to him eight times, and nearly half of those came in the final four minutes of the game. The Bills are good at covering tight ends, but given the state of the Giants' receiving corps, they should have at least tried to involve Engram a lot more.
- The Giants believe they got steal when they traded back into the first round of the NFL Draft and took CB Deandre Baker 30th overall. So far, though, he is having a rough time in the NFL. He's been a liability in coverage, misreading plays in zones, playing too far off receivers in man, and sometimes falling in coverage. He even got shoved aside when Bills RB Devin Singletary ran through him for a second-quarter touchdown run. He's better than Antonio Hamilton, who started the opener. But still...
- Rookie DT Dexter Lawrence showed signs of being the force in the middle that the Giants expect him to be. After a very quiet opener, and a similarly quiet first half against the Bills, he was very disruptive in the second half. That definitely helped the Giants' defense, and will help if he can do that consistently.
- Aldrick Rosas had made 20 straight field goals when he missed a 48-yarder in the second quarter. When it rains, it pours.
- Why did the Giants cut WR T.J. Jones at the end of training camp again? Brought back this week, he had a 60-yard punt return and caught a four-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone where he made an impressive effort to get his feet down in bounds.