EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Last week's win in Denver was a nice break from the reality of this miserable Giants season. And from the way they played in their 24-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, it's likely to only get worse.
Because the bottom line for the Giants (1-6) is this: They could barely move the ball this season with Odell Beckham Jr. on their side, and they now can barely move it even a little without him. It's been two games now since the Giants lost Beckham, Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard and Dwayne Harris, and here's their grand total: 443 yards of offense and 23 points.
It doesn't matter who's calling the plays; the Giants aren't going to win many games the rest of the way if this offense continues to produce like that.
And you can pick a problem, any problem, too. The offensive line still keeps Eli Manning under too much pressure and not opening up a lot of holes in the run game. Even when Manning has time, he hasn't been very good lately, missing the target on far too many receivers -- not that he has a lot of receivers open. This current group isn't giving him many options at all.
Help isn't on the way, either, so unless there's a magical talent boost among the players that are left, this season is going to slog its way through the final nine games of the season mostly hoping the defense will bail the offense out. Maybe the Giants will find some brilliant idea to fix it all during their bye week.
But don't count on it.
Meanwhile, here are a few quick observations from the Giants' latest ugly loss:
- The play calling sure looks a lot different when the run game isn't working, doesn't it? That's the key for this Giants team, especially now when it's missing four of its top five receivers. Against Denver a week ago, the Giants had 148 yards on the ground (4.6 per carry). More importantly, they had 83 in the first half (5.9 yards per carry) as they opened up a 17-3 lead. This time, they led at halftime too, but they had just 27 yards on three yards per carry. Because of that, nothing else worked. They had 42 total yards of offense in the first half and one first down (not by penalty). The Seahawks dared them to throw by often having nine players in the "box" by the line of scrimmage, but the Giants don't have the receivers to threaten to throw much. The result was predictable. The Giants finished with a total of 177 yards, including just 46 on the ground. That's not play calling; it's their usual inability to execute even basic runs. And it's not going to magically get better just because someone else is calling the plays.
- He's not getting much help and he's constantly under siege, but Manning (19 for 39, 134 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions) has to be better than this. He's starting to look -- what's the word -- oh yeah: skittish. I don't blame him, but he's throwing too many balls away (some right into the ground) instead of trying to make a play, and he was really off target in this game, even on the few occasions when he had an open receiver. Sure, it would help if he had a healthy receiving corps and they were better at getting open, but it's his job to make the players around him better. So far he's not.
- The Giants' defense really stepped up its game the last two weeks. It again got a huge turnover that led to a crucial touchdown in the first half, this time a forced fumble by rookie defensive end Avery Moss (on Seattle running back Thomas Rawls) that was scooped up and returned 32 yards by Landon Collins. Two plays later, Manning hit Evan Engram for a five-yard touchdown. But the Giants also got terrific pressure on Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. It may not show up much in the box score because he's so elusive, but Wilson was constantly forced to leave the pocket, and the Giants' defense crunched him several times just as he was throwing the ball. That really kept the Seahawks passing game off balance. OK, two huge drops by tight end Jimmy Graham and one by Rawls helped, too, as did Wilson overthrowing Doug Baldwin when he was wide open for what could've been a 64-yard TD in the third quarter. But consider how exhausted the Giants defense must be. Let them have a little help.
- Speaking of defense: Why do teams even bother running on defensive tackle Damon Harrison? He seems to be playing even better this year than he did last year, which is amazing. He'd be getting a lot of attention if the Giants were a little better. As it is, he's in Pro Bowl form. In previous weeks, teams were doing a lot more running to the outside on the Giants to avoid him. The Seahawks didn't and their rushing attack paid the price.
- It's not helping the offense much, since he has no help, but Engram (six catches, 60 yards, one TD) is beginning to show flashes of why the Giants drafted him. He has terrific speed and hands. He even had a huge, 72-yard catch down the sidelines in the third quarter that came back because he stepped out of bounds before the catch. It's too bad he's doing this as, essentially, the Giants' No. 1 receiver. It'll be fun to watch him, and how the Giants use him, when Beckham returns next year.