The Giants finally got most of their offensive weapons back.
And somehow, the offense still stinks.
It was like a slow-motion train wreck watching them try to move the ball in their ugly, 30-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night. They had only 215 total yards and got mostly nothing out of their top stars like Saquon Barkley (56 total yards), Kenny Golladay (one 12-yard catch) and Kadarius Toney (7-40).
In fact, they wouldn’t have even scored if Tom Brady hadn’t doinked a pass off the chest of receiver Mike Evans that turned into an interception by cornerback Adoree’ Jackson. That set the Giants up at the 5 and led to a touchdown pass to tackle Andrew Thomas. That would’ve been a nice, fun moment if it wasn’t the only big play the Giants offense had.
Their whole approach was really mindboggling. They were facing a Bucs team with a vulnerable, banged-up secondary and they rarely even tried to attack them, choosing a dink-and-dunk strategy that worked against the Raiders before the bye, but that was when many of the Giants’ best weapons were still hurt.
Barkley, playing his first game in six weeks, was a complete non-factor and was mostly ignored at the start of the game. And the fact that they only targeted Golladay twice? Why did they give him a $72 million contract again?
It was really a disjointed game plan by beleaguered offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who looked like he wasn’t sure how to incorporate all of his offensive toys. And it didn’t help matters that quarterback Daniel Jones looked off, completing 22 of 38 passes for 167 yards, the one touchdown to his tackle and two hideous interceptions.
The worst was one of the worst interceptions of his career – maybe one of the worst any Giants quarterback has ever thrown. In the third quarter, Jones rolled to the right and looked like he was trying to throw back across the field, maybe to Barkley. But under pressure he threw off his back foot and very short. The only players in the area were center Billy Price and Bucs DT Steve McLendon.
McLendon, the ex-Jet, even seemed surprise when the ball landed in his chest.
This has reached the inexcusable point. Injuries were a fair excuse for most of the season, but everyone was back except for receiver Sterling Shepard and this is all this offense can produce? The NFL has turned into an explosive passing league, but right now it looks like it’s just passing the Giants by.
It’s embarrassing. And if this is the best the Giants’ offense can do, even against a soft schedule they’re not going to win many games the rest of the way.
Here are some more takeaways from the loss that probably killed the Giants’ long-shot playoff hopes …
Garrett has really been opening up his playbook in recent weeks and did more of it in the first half with a receiver end-around, a Wildcat pass and even a pass to a tackle. But along the way, he ignored Barkley and Golladay way too much. In the first 21 plays of the game, Barkley had three carries and was targeted once and Golladay was targeted just once. Barkley is a second overall pick and Golladay got a $72 million contract from the Giants. Wouldn’t using them early help the offense get going?
A couple of good offensive notes: The Giants did work Barkley into the passing game (six catches, 31 yards) and Jones threw 12 times to Toney before he left late in the game with a quad contusion. They’re probably the Giants’ two best playmakers so it makes sense to put the ball in their hands. In this game, though, they only combined for 71 receiving yards.
The Giants’ pass rush has been a problem all season long, but the amount of time Brady had in this game was absolutely absurd. There were some plays where it seemed like he had seven seconds to throw. It put a huge strain on the secondary and gave Brady all the time in the world to wait for receivers to come open. Heck, he was even untouched on a 10-yard run up the middle where he hurdled LB Tae Crowder. This is becoming one of the worst pass-rushing teams they’ve ever had.
CB James Bradberry was so good last year and has been so erratic this season. This game was one of his bad ones, particularly when it came to tackling. He slipped off ball-carriers and receivers several times and was beaten too often by the Bucs’ speedy receivers. It wasn’t all his fault. The pass rush didn’t help him much. But even when he did have help, he wasn’t good. He even got posted up for an Evans touchdown in the third quarter.
What a great moment for Thomas in his return from injured reserve, becoming the first Giants’ lineman to catch a touchdown pass since at least the AFL-NFL merger back in 1970. It came when Jones floated a two-yard pass into the end zone – and yes, the 6-5, 315-pound tackle did go airborne to make the catch.
That TD was set up by a huge gift from the Bucs. Brady – who otherwise picked apart the Giants’ secondary for 307 yards (on 30 of 46 passing) — threw a bubble screen pass that hit Evans right in the chest, but it bounced straight up and was picked off by Jackson. It was very nearly a pick-six, but instead he left it to Thomas to finish it off.
Thomas, by the way, is tied for second on the Giants now in touchdown catches this season – one behind tight end Evan Engram and one ahead of receivers Golladay and Toney. When you think about it, that’s really sad.
Rough night for guard Will Hernandez, who had a false start and two holding penalties to go with some bad blocking. Of course, he had plenty of company in that category.
Weird game management at the end of the half for the Giants. They get the ball back at their own 9 with 43 seconds left, knowing they’ll have the ball to start the second half. They start with two short passes and only get to the 20 with nine seconds left. Time to take a knee? Nope. Jones throws deep over the middle to Darius Slayton who catches it … and fumbles it … and the Bucs recover and try to run it back. They don’t, but why even make that dangerous play there? If they were going to be aggressive, why not do it on the first two plays? Very indecisive.
More weird game management: Giants get aggressive and go for it on 4th and 1 from the Bucs 25 in the third quarter. Great decision. But a terrible play call. Jones rolls right and is pressured into a bad throw. Why not a quarterback sneak or a Barkley run? Or how about a quick slant to Golladay or Toney? Actually, they weren’t even on the field. The only receiver on the field was Collin Johnson. Huh?