NFL

New Giants, Same as the old Giants?

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Odell Beckham Jr might have won the battle, but Josh Norman won the war, as the Washington Redskins beat the New York Giants on Sunday, 29-27.

While some will focus on the Beckham-Norman rematch, the real question coming out of this game is what to make of the Giants.

After two weeks of close wins, the Giants reverted back to 2015 form, melting down in a game when they should have run away and hid early, finding ways to beat themselves to save the trouble of the opposition having to do it.

They had center Weston Richburg ejected due to the new “Beckham-Norman” rule that two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties result in getting kicked out of the game. On the same day when both Beckham and Norman were pulled aside pregame and warned that any antics at all would get them kicked out.

It was, of course, not really his fault. Just ask him, he’ll tell you.

“The guy that threw (the second flag) was after me,” Richburg to the media (via Pat Leonard of The Daily News). “But they were probably trying to cut down on things because of what happened with that matchup.”

The Giants had all sorts of ridiculous moments.

They had a blocked punt negated when rookie safety Anthony Adams took a boneheaded unnecessary roughness penalty. They had Eli Manning throwing two interceptions to people other than Beckham, including one to end the game. At the end of the day, they had been flagged for 11 penalties.

Poor clock management, dumb penalties, shoddy execution, awful special teams play and just flat-out bad play were the hallmark of their loss.

This was not the Giants we were used to this season. Or was it?

In some ways it’s hard to tell.

Certainly the defense is improved, despite the collapse on Sunday. Olivier Vernon had a sack and three quarterback hits, but also had a bad roughing the passer penalty. The interior of the defensive front got chopped up on the ground, particularly on the last drive. The secondary gave up some big plays to DeSean Jackson and Jamison Crowder.

You can make the argument, looking at this game and the two previous, that perhaps we overestimated how improved they are. They throttled the Dallas Cowboys, but that was with an inexperienced, fourth round rookie quarterback under center. And while the New Orleans Saints have been putting some points on the board, let’s not mistake the team for anything resembling good.

Now the defense has allowed 403 yards and 29 points to an offense which was a mess the first two weeks of the season.

Offensively, the Giants should also have looked better. You can’t just lock down Beckham and win ball games against New York, not with rookie Sterling Shepard and a newly healthy Victor Cruz in town.

At least, that seemed to be the case early on, but by the end of the game neither player was a factor anymore. It’d be one thing if Manning had been locked into Beckham, but he was throwing to tight end Will Tye and running back Shane Vereen on his two interceptions.

Tye quit on a route for one pick and while Vereen wasn’t responsible for the second, game killing, interception, he did cough the ball up on a run.

The offense, which looked so good in the first half, looked like a dumpster fire during the second half.

Like the defense, though, did they really look so much better in the first two games?

The offense didn’t have a touchdown in the win over the Saints, and while they had three against the Dallas Cowboys, it’s not as though that’s a good defense. The Giants offense didn’t exactly destroy the unit either.

Looking back at the first three games now, we have to be wondering whether we were sold some Fool’s Gold.

We’re about to get a real sense of what this team is capable of, as they face the undefeated Minnesota Vikings and 2-1 Green Bay Packers on the road the next two weeks.

If they can’t hold it together against a desperate Washington team, one has to be concerned about what will happen against one of the top defenses in the league and one of the best quarterbacks to even play the game of football.

It could be that the Giants are still a team that just can’t get the job done when they need to after all.


About Andrew Garda

Andrew Garda is a freelance writer primarily covering NFL football, with frequent side trips to everything else. A member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he is a contributing writer for Sports on Earth and Pro Football Weekly. He also covers fantasy for Footballguys.com. Garda is the host of the At the Whistle podcast and has been credentialed for many NFL drafts, Senior Bowls, pro days and various NFL events.