EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Nobody thought the Giants were a good team. But right now, without so many of their best players, they are complete embarrassment.
That’s the only way to look at their humiliating, 38-11 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. The Giants (1-5) were inept on offense and bumbling on defense — and special teams should be thrown in too after they were fooled by a fake punt that mercifully got wiped out by offsetting penalties. They ruined what should’ve been a happy celebration of their 2011 Super Bowl championship team.
Right now, that big victory in Super Bowl XLVI feels like the last time the Giants won.
Where to start with this one? Daniel Jones was absolutely terrible, completing 29-of-51 passes for 242 yards and throwing three interceptions. Granted it’s hard to completely blame him. He entered the game without receiver Kenny Golladay and running back Saquon Barkley and he lost electric rookie Kadarius Toney on the first series. Also, in what is a familiar sight, his offensive line offered him very little support.
The defense wasn’t any better either. Granted, two of the touchdowns they gave up came off turnovers where they were pinned deep in their own territory – first on a Jones sack/fumble and then on an interception. But after a brief flash of a pass rush, they barely bothered Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford who became the latest to pick apart the Giants’ crumbling secondary. He ended up completing 22-of-28 passes for 251 yards and four touchdowns.
The Giants were down 28-3 at halftime, and if Stafford’s half-ending pass hadn’t bounced off the hands of receiver Cooper Kupp and into the arms of Giants safety Xavier McKinney, it would’ve been even worse.
Of course it got worse in the second half when Jones threw his third interception on the Giants’ first drive. And on the ensuing drive, the Rams marched right down field and Stafford hit Kupp with a 13-yard touchdown pass on a play where it looked like the entire Giants defense just gave up.
At least by then the stadium had started emptying out, so not nearly as many people were still around to see it.
The worst part about all this, though, is it’s really unclear how it’s going to get any better. The Giants will cross their fingers and hope that Golladay and Barkley can return next week, and that Toney isn’t out for very long. And they might get a bit of a break next Sunday with the banged-up Carolina Panthers coming to town with no Christian McCaffrey and a struggling Sam Darnold. But after that they are at Kansas City, home for the Raiders, and at the Buccaneers.
Is there any way that they don’t end that stretch 2-8 or 1-9?
This is a slow-moving train wreck heading to an inevitable conclusion: The firing of GM Dave Gettleman and maybe whole lot more.
And really, the worst part of it all for everyone may be that there are still 11 more games to go.
Some more takeaways from the Giants’ latest – and perhaps worst, so far – disaster …
Toney looked spectacular on the Giants’ opening drive, catching three passes for 36 yards, including a 16-yard catch where he cut back and made Rams rookie CB Robert Rochell look absolutely ridiculous with his fake. That appeared to be where he aggravated his ankle injury. He hobbled off the field and was almost immediately ruled out. It’s a shame, too, because the early returns made it look like his breakout game in Dallas was no fluke. He makes a huge difference when he’s on the field. The Giants just need to make sure he’s fully healthy before they bring him back.
Jones was only sacked four times, but the hits sure looked like they were taking a toll. None of his interceptions were good throws, but the third one – along the sideline towards receiver Dante Pettis – might have been the worst. He stared at Pettis the whole time and then rushed the throw. Safety Taylor Rapp was right there, stepped in front of Pettis and nearly returned it for a touchdown. He needed to look off Pettis, but I’m sure he figured if he took an extra second he was going to get hammered.
Speaking of getting hammered … It was another rough game for right tackle Nate Solder. At this point the only explanation for why he’s still starting is that the Giants must think Matt Peart would be worse (and they may be right … more on that in a minute) so they really have no other options. It’s not only the plays where Solder misses a block and nearly gets Jones killed (though there are a lot of those). It’s that they now constantly have to give him help, either with a tight end or a running back. That takes a potential play-maker out of the play every time. And the Giants’ offense simply can’t afford that.
Wondering if Peart would be much better? Giants LT Andrew Thomas injured his ankle in the second quarter and Peart replaced him. On the first play, LB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo flew right around him, sacked Jones and forced a fumble that the Rams recovered at the Giants’ 12. That, not surprisingly, led to a Rams touchdown.
After a week of justified heavy criticism for his play this season, Leonard Williams got off to a big start in this game with 1 ½ sacks in the first quarter. After that? Crickets. He deserves the criticism for how he’s played this season in the wake of his three-year, $63 million contract with $45 million guaranteed. He has only three sacks in six games, which isn’t good enough no matter how many unseen little things he’s doing. But he’s not alone. The Giants have not been able to generate a pass rush from anywhere else to help him. That’s at least partially on defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.
Things that don’t really matter, but were still bothersome: The Giants had a 4th-and-one from their own 41 late in the first quarter and decided to go for it. It was a gutsy call by Giants coach Joe Judge, but maybe he should’ve punted there instead. The offensive line wasn’t blocking well, they were down to Sterling Shepard and a bunch of castoffs at receiver. It was Devontae Booker at running back instead of Saquon Barkley. But he was feeling it so he called a Jones sneak … that didn’t work. That’s hardly surprising given how good the middle of the Rams’ defensive line is.
The Giants’ starting offensive line was Thomas, LG Matt Skura, C Billy Price, RG Will Hernandez and RT Solder. It was the same lineup they used two weeks ago in New Orleans and it was the first time they’ve repeated an offensive line combinations all season. Before this, they had used five different combos in five games, including four different left guards, two different centers and three different players at each tackle spot. The lone rock: Hernandez has started every game at right guard. A lack of consistency is a huge issue for this line, especially since it didn’t have much talent to begin with.