Column: Big trouble for Big Blue

Detroit Lions free safety Glover Quin (27) and Darius Slay (23) tackle New York Giants' Brandon Marshall (15) during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (Julio Cortez/AP)

The New York Giants look dreadful and there’s no way around it. The Giants have scored just a single touchdown through the first two weeks of the season and are now 0-2 with an intimidating road matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles staring them in the face.

This is the team that had the eighth-best odds to win the Super Bowl entering week one, according to Bovada.

I regrettably bought into the hype. While I expected a slight regression from last year’s breakout 11-win season, I was incredibly optimistic about this team. I saw most of last year’s stellar defense coming back, loaded with potential. I saw the additions of Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram as giving Eli Manning one of the best sets of weapons in the NFL. I saw a below-average offensive line getting another season of development and blocking tight end Rhett Ellison added to the mix for more help.

After week two, their Super Bowl odds sit at 18th-best.

In two primetime games this season, the Giants’ offense has been nothing short of incompetent. The offensive line can’t give Eli Manning more than two seconds to throw, and on the rare occasion that he gets protection, Manning looks like a poor man’s Brock Osweiler. Brandon Marshall has dropped as many passes as he has caught and Paul Perkins has led the rushing attack to an astonishing NFL-low 97 yards through two games.

Odell Beckham’s eventual return to full health will provide some relief for this train wreck of an offense, but a larger solution remains to be seen. The Giants are a young, promising team at most positions but their offensive line has been neglected in the past two drafts.

This year’s top picks of Evan Engram and Dalvin Tomlinson have been fine so far, with Engram leading the team in receiving yards as one of the few bright spots on offense and Tomlinson having an outstanding start to his career on the defensive line. Last year’s picks of Eli Apple, Sterling Shepard, Darian Thompson, B.J. Goodson and Paul Perkins are all currently starters and could blossom into a great draft class.

General manager Jerry Reese is notorious for his bad draft picks, but lately it isn’t the quality of his picks that’s in question. It’s his failure to address the team’s biggest need, the atrocious offensive line that was ranked 28th of 32 by Pro Football Focus prior to the season.

Left guard Justin Pugh and center Weston Richburg are two solid starters, but the other three spots on the line might as well be played by Beckham. Former No. 9 overall pick Ereck Flowers has been absolutely awful for his entire career, but Reese and head coach Ben McAdoo continue to stubbornly stick to him as their starting left tackle. On the right side, John Jerry and Bobby Hart have shown nothing to prove they’re capable of starting for an NFL team.

So the Giants have a roster full of offensive weapons, but they can’t give Manning enough time to find them. Great plan, Jerry.

The rest of the season will undoubtedly get better than the first two games; it’s hard to get worse. The defense will keep the G-Men in a lot of games and they’ll likely get an absurd Odell play or two per game to put some points on the board. But my preseason hopes of a playoff run are dead. Once the Giants run into a team with a good pass rush, they have no chance of winning. The Cowboys might have one of the worst defensive lines in the league and a subpar secondary, but they still held the Giants to three points.

There are not many free agent options to fix the Giants’ offensive line right now, but they had better figure something out quickly, or Eli Manning’s streak of 201 consecutive starts is going to end this year. There’s too much talent on this team for it to suck this bad.


Josh Buser is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joshua.buser@uconn.edu.