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Big Blue Mess

(The Verge)– No wins, four losses. The New York Giants will wake up Monday morning and realize they have lost all games they have played up to this point. The whole “season is young” approach, is no longer plausible. One quarter of the season is behind us, and the Giants have more questions than a BAR exam. So, what is the problem with this team?
The answer is complex. There are a multitude of issues on both sides of the ball, coaching staff, and even the front office. The most obvious weakness of the team so far has been the offensive line. Eli Manning was sacked 9 times against Carolina a week ago, and has not looked comfortable in the pocket at any point this season. Left tackle Will Beatty and rookie right tackle Justin Pugh have been solid so far, but the interior linemen have struggled. So, when pressure from opposing defenses overloads the middle, the Giants find themselves overmatched, and see Eli running for his life. Lacking quality offensive linemen also means a lack of a running game. The Giants ground attack has been essentially non-existant this season. When teams know you can’t run, they pressure more, meaning more sacks and pressure on Manning. The offensive line is where battles are won and lost, and the Giants record reflects how their offensive front has performed thus far.
Eli Manning currently leads the NFL with 9 interceptions. David Wilson and Da’rell Scott have had several issues with ball security. Turnovers are one of the more telling stats in the league, and another huge reason why the G-men have struggled so far. The interceptions are viewed by many media figures as Eli’s fault, and he has been widely criticized for his statistics this season. Everyone loves to hate Eli. The picks aren’t entirely his fault, and here’s why: The offensive line has been so poor, it leads to rushed throws and throws that are not on time with the routes the Giant receivers are running. It has been seen many times around the league that if your quarterback is not comfortable, he will make mistakes. Furthermore, when you have essentially no run game, opponents know the pass is coming, making it easier to defend. Lastly, young players like Ruben Randle, who is just in his second season, occasionally run the wrong routes. The picks Eli throws directly to a defender are because a receiver ran the wrong way. Eli has been under the same offensive coordinator for the past 10 years, and these young receivers forget which way to run from time to time. So does Eli make horrendous throws or do his receivers make mental mistakes? After playing in the same system for 10 years, take your best guess as to who knows the playbook better.

Needless to say–a grumpy Tom Coughlin. Image taken from: thegallyblog.com.

Defensively, the Giants have been better than what their statistics indicate. They have allowed over 30 points for 4 weeks in a row, but when the offense gives the ball away, and also frequently goes 3 and out, opponents are given extra opportunities to score. Turnovers also mean opponents are starting drives with shorter fields. Additionally, when the offense keeps going 3 and out, that means the defense plays for longer, and tires out quicker. This defense is certainly no ’85 Bears, but they have enough ability to  keep a solid team in games. They will not get that opportunity if the offense continues to struggle.
Special teams has also been disappointing thus far. Josh Brown has missed a field goal for two weeks in a row, Dexter McCluster returned a punt for a score in their last game, and punter Steve Weatherford has been inconsistent thus far. All 3 phases of the game have been utterly embarrassing.
The biggest problem with this team is their character. The Giants aren’t just losing games; they’re getting their doors blown off. This hasn’t been a case of a strong effort but coming up just a bit short. No one on the team seems to care how much they lose by, or how bad the score line looks. This is usually unheard of from a Tom Coughlin coached team. However, this is the case. It has been years since this team has shown no interest in competing. Where is the heart? Where is the fire that should drive these athletes to put it all on the line for each other? If you were given a guess, you might say somewhere in Siberia. The character of this team is to put it bluntly, a loser. There is a difference between losing and not trying. The 2013 New York Giants apparently do not know the difference.