EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants offense is just completely non-functional. Nothing is working. It's a total disaster.
They need big changes. They need a big spark. They need something to kick this mess into gear.
And no, a quarterback change isn't the answer.
But it might be time for head coach Pat Shurmur to relinquish calling the plays.
It's almost unfair to suggest that given the complete mess the Giants are on offense right now. It's not Shurmur's fault that their weapons are overrated. It's not his fault that the offensive line gave up seven more sacks in Sunday's 20-13 loss to the Washington Redskins or that it can't open any holes in the run game. It's not his fault that Sterling Shepard dropped a perfectly thrown, wide-open deep pass from Eli Manning in the second quarter, or that tight end Evan Engram let a fourth-quarter, fourth-down pass go right through his hands.
He was dealt a bad hand with this team. But his play calling still is … well, it's strange at times. It's bizarre that on a team with Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley, Shepard and Engram that Bennie Fowler, fresh off the NFL scrap heap, gets relatively equal play. It's a mystery that so many supposedly good receivers can't seem to get open with any regularity.
Yes, his team doesn't help itself or his play calls. The players commit stupid penalties at key times. They run incorrect routes. And yes, Manning, who was 30 for 47 for 316 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, makes poor decisions at times. It all factors in to what has become one of the biggest offensive messes the Giants have ever had.
So maybe it's time for a fresh approach. Let Shurmur take a step back and let offensive coordinator Mike Shula take a stab at it. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes on the play card is enough to create a spark. That would allow Shurmur to focus on game and clock management, which hasn't exactly been a strength so far.
Maybe Shula calling the plays would result in more passes down the field -- not just deep passes, but even mid-range ones. Maybe he'd call more third-down plays that are thrown beyond the first-down marker. Maybe he'd find more creative ways to get Barkley or Beckham open in space. Maybe he wouldn't abandon the run so quickly like Shurmur did Sunday when the Giants ran 54 pass plays and 14 running plays in a game that was within 10 points almost the entire way.
Maybe not. But at this point, isn't it worth a try?
Sure, it's probably too late. The Giants are 1-7 and they're not making a miracle run in the second half. But if they're not just going to surrender the season and tank for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, it's got to be worth a shot.
Oh, and as for those who want the big change to be a change at quarterback, it's hard to see why anyone would think rookie Kyle Lauletta would have more success. The offensive line isn't going to suddenly block better for him. Shepard and Engram can drop his passes just as well as they can drop ones from Manning. The play calls for him aren't going to be any better. And if he doesn't have a running game to help him out either …
Well, if you don't think things could get any worse, you're wrong.
Anyway, here are a few more takeaways from the latest Mess at the Meadowlands …
- Manning's red-zone interception in the first half was a killer, just when the Giants were starting to get some momentum. But while it's easy to blame Manning -- and surely, many will -- that wasn't all his fault. In fact it was a terrific play by Redskins S D.J. Swearinger. The play called for Beckham to make a quick cut in and for Manning to hit him with a quick pass. But as Manning was winding up, Swearinger knocked Beckham off his route and suddenly had position for the interception. It happened so fast, Manning probably didn't have time to go elsewhere, and since Beckham didn't see the shove coming he probably couldn't have done anything to prevent it. Sometimes, guys on the other team just make good plays.
- A few weeks ago everyone was questioning and criticizing Shurmur (and Manning) for not throwing deep more often. At the time, both quarterback and coach insisted it wasn't worth the risk taking shots when receivers were well-covered. I strongly disagreed, and here's why: On a third-and-17 in the second quarter, Beckham was pretty well covered by Redskins CB Greg Stroman. Manning tried to hit him down the sideline anyway. And what happened? Not only did Stroman drag Beckham down, getting the pass interference penalty, but Beckham made the one-handed catch for a 44-yard gain. That's why you throw it: Because good things usually happen when you throw it to Beckham.
- Speaking of (not) throwing it to Beckham. Shurmur really does make some strange decisions in his play calls. On the opening drive, the Giants had a third-and-6 from the 22. Manning throws a quick slant to … Fowler? Yes, and it looked like it was his first read. Never mind that Beckham, Shepard, Barkley and Engram were all on the field. So what happened? Fowler ran a shallow route and fell after catching the ball … a yard short of the first down.
- This wasn't all on the offensive line, but it did surrender seven sacks in this game and have now given up 31 through the first half of the season. Granted, at least three of those were coverage sacks and Manning should have thrown the ball away. But this line just isn't good. And for proof, look at the lack of holes they're creating in the run game too, where Barkley had only 38 yards on 13 carries.
- The Giants defense did about all it could to keep the team close. Just days after trading away CB Eli Apple and DT Damon Harrison, the Giants held the Redskins to 360 yards and played generally well until giving up a 64-yard touchdown run to Adrian Peterson with 3:06 remaining. This defense continually keeps the Giants in it as long as they can, until the strain is just too much and they break in the end.
- Giants CB Janoris Jenkins, who could be an ex-Giant sometime in the next two days, got called for a rare double-double: a defensive holding and a defensive pass interference on the same play. What made it especially special was that Redskins receiver Josh Docston still caught the ball for a 15-yard gain.
- Missed tackles happen, but this is what the Giants are going to have to deal with if they continue selling off defensive assets, especially if key players are hurt, too. On the Redskins' first touchdown, Alex Smith hit Peterson at the 6-yard line, where he was met by Giants LB Nate Stupar. But Stupar just whiffed on the tackle and Peterson turned it into an easy touchdown. Had Stupar, on his seventh NFL team in seven seasons, made that second-down tackle, maybe the Giants could've held them to a field goal.