Last season, en route to the Super Bowl, the Giants’ offense was snapping in place on all cylinders making the plays they needed to make to win themselves another championship. They were, at times, machine-like.
Last week, that machine was rusty. A few worn parts and a lack of synchronization led to the Giants’ offense to be off by just a hair in the opener vs the Dallas Cowboys. They missed on some big plays and took themselves out of some others.
Hakeem Nicks was not 100%. His routes were not crisp. Victor Cruz was not focused. He dropped passes, turning upfield several times before securing the football. David Wilson lost a fumble. He was benched for the rest of the game. Eli Manning overshot targets. He had Domenik Hixon down the middle inside the ten and led him him too far. The line did not have the burst they had in February. On first and goal from the one, they failed to open holes for the running game.
“There are times where I’m just trying to make the play, trying to make the big play before I catch the football. I’m subject to that at times. I guess that’s just a matter of be trying to be too hyped up for the game, and things like that,” Cruz said today.
This week the Giants will repair and fine-tune their offensive juggernaut of a year ago. They are a big play offense that needs to hit on big plays to win ballgames. Last week, they didn’t get any and only lost by seven. Had they gotten one, they might have won the game or at least bloodied Dallas’ nose. The ten day s between games has given them time to recalibrate their gears.
“Everything that occurred is very correctable and it’s just going to come down to fixing it, making better plays, better decisions during the game and… I think that was a good mentality,” said Eli. “Guys said we can fix this. We’ve got to work a little bit better this next week. Enjoy the weekend off. Came back to work on Monday. Had a good practice and had another good practice today.”
“We had a couple of days off,” said Cruz. “We got to see a lot of football being played this past Sunday. We have to wait another week, so we’re anxious to get back out there. Practice went smoothly today. Guys are really playing hard, and really paying attention to detail. So we’re excited to get out there. We’re excited to get back at it.”
The vertical passing game is the Giants’ bread and butter. They need this facet of their game to click for them to play in the big sandbox. The signs were there last week, so it’s likely to get rectified.
One has to take into account that Nicks was basically hobbled vs Dallas. Half of the problem was he played with pain. The other half was the team limiting his involvement. Cruz did not get behind the defense, which he did so often in 2011. The lack of a consistent third receiver hurts, too. Hixon is coming off two lost seasons to injury and the others are still fighting to get playing time.
The Giants are also dealing with a new TE in Martellus Bennett. He did have four catches, including a leaping TD grab, but you can see that he and Eli are still feeling each other out.
Once they get the passing game back in synch, the running game could be right on it’s heels. Ahmad Bradshaw did have a nice 10-yard TD run and a 33-yard gain, but more often than not, he and Wilson went nowhere. When Wilson fumbled, he created a double-negative. The Giants were driving and the turnover shifted the momentum and erased possible point off the board.
Coach Coughlin has stressed ball security with Wilson for a week now, urging him to hold it “high and tight.” The miscue was the last thing the rookie RB wanted – or needed to – happen in his NFL debut.
“Two carries, four yards, and one fumble. That’ll be something I hope to be able to look back at and laugh,” said Wilson.
Giant fans will be holding back the laughter until Wilson breaks one and takes it to the house.