The Giants have been inconsistent on both sides of the ball this year. Their defense has experienced lapses that have led to big plays that lost games. The offense cannot run the football effectively. The Giants are 3-8 and it's no wonder that execution has been the main culprit.
"It is a variety of things," said OC Ben McAdoo when asked why the running game has struggled. "It is not always the line. The line, it is easy to point fingers at those guys. It is not always the same guy. It is a different position group, whether it is the five guys up front, whether it is the tight ends, whether it is the backs, the fullback position, there is enough blame to go around, receivers are involved in there, too. Eli Manning has to keep us in a great place, it just goes down to consistency and everyone doing their job, not trying to do too much, but being physical and winning their one on one match up, first and foremost."
That comes to the next argument: Do the Giants have enough talent to win a lot of those individual battles? I think we know the answer to that. McAdoo has seen some improvement, but injuries and the influx of new faces have stunted the line's growth as a unit. He hopes to see better results going forward.
"Last week was a long time ago," said McAdoo. "We made some progress; we ran the ball a little better. Protected well at times. I would like to do a little better job there in the two minute areas, whether it is the end of the game or the first half, protecting. It was good to see Geoff Schwartz get through the game."
On defense, the pass rush has been less than acceptable and has had a rippling effect across the entire defense. Assignments are being missed and opponents have been able to exploit them for huge gains and backbreaking scores.
DC Perry Fewell's defensive philosophy is predicated on the front four getting pressure on the passer. Thus far this season the Giants are 27th in the NFL with just 19 sacks. Fewell has studied film, attempting to find the root of the problem, but like McAdoo with the offensive line, he hasn't found the proverbial smoking gun.
"No, not something consistently on film," said Fewell on Friday. "Sometimes we are better than other times, but I think with pressure, and the front four, they get frustrated when the ball comes out quick. Sometimes they rush too high, and that is the thing I see the most. When they rush too high, climb past the quarterback, the quarterback steps up in the pocket, then we don’t have our rush lanes properly filled and when you face a running quarterback, you coach it differently than when you face a quarterback who is strictly a pocket guy. When you face all the varieties of quarterbacks we’ve faced, trying to get that consistency of your rush can be challenging. A (Colin) Kaepernick is different than an Eli Manning."
The initiative by the front office to sure up the trenches began almost three seasons ago. The plan hasn't quite worked. Coaches and personnel have changed but the results have not.
Even with players like DE Jason Pierre-Paul, Robert Ayers and Damontre Moore, the pass rush has struggled. The Giants are trying to find ways to get Moore on the field more than 20 plays a game.
"I think really we just have to do a better job of just managing his snaps," Fewell said of Moore. "He’s a better pass defender than he is a run defender and really that’s the bottom line. Sometimes when you see him in practice, he doesn't always execute his assignments so when you go in, you don’t know exactly what you’re going to get."
As for JPP, he's not the same player he was three years ago, and he knows it. Effort and guile are two things that he's been left to rely on these days.
"I am still trying to get to the quarterback; I am still trying to get to the quarterback," JPP told reporters. "I am playing the run very great, and be a great football player. I still have a lot of football left. That is basically it. Got five more games, we are not laying down. We are going to play it, play these games hard, and try to get a win this week."
And those five games may be the last for him in a Giant uniform, as the Giants try to regain the dominance in the trenches they enjoyed just a few short years ago.