BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Photo credit: Stu Forster/Getty Images)
In the modern NFL, it’s better to be lucky than good. There’s a reason you hear the cliche of “Any Given Sunday” during the regular season. Anyone can beat each other with good luck. That’s why you see upsets each week in an 18-week season.
The Giants are a product of a mediocre league. They are 5-1 after a 24-20 victory over the Baltimore Ravens Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium. Despite what it appeared they were going to take a loss with seven minutes to go in the game, they got a lucky touchdown to make it a 24-17 game on Daniel Jones’ 8-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Bellinger, a questionable pass interference call that hurt the Ravens and a turnover by Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson to help the Giants seal the deal.
They were also lucky last week in the Giants’ 27-22 loss to the Green Bay Packers in London when they were basically trying to survive by running the ball to kill the clock. It took Aaron Rodgers’ interceptions to have the Giants get by.
5-1 is 5-1, but how legit is 5-1? Let me put this in another context. Do the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys waste their time thinking about the Giants? Do they genuinely respect them?
No one can deny they are better than in the last few years. It couldn’t be any worse. MetLife Stadium was as loud as I heard for the first time since Ben McAdoo’s first season as Giants head coach. The Giants fans rattled Jackson down the stretch as Don Martindale’s defense easily got to him by blitzing him.
The Giants don’t have to apologize for that. Winning is hard in the NFL. It takes a lot of luck to win with the way the league is set up with the salary cap and such.
But it doesn’t mean there have to be questions about it, either. One has to wonder if this is sustainable in a long season. Teams completed their first quarter of the season.
Here’s my question about your New York Giants: Where are the offensive wizardry and situational savvy?
From watching the Giants, it’s just running the football and milking the clock. They clearly don’t trust Giants quarterback Daniel Jones to throw, and it’s hard to blame Giants head coach Brian Daboll and Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka. But isn’t Daboll’s calling card to make something out of nothing with quarterbacks? I haven’t seen it so far with Jones.
Sure, he is winning with Jones, but he has made his quarterback basically a non-entity so far? Even McAdoo was able to get some results out of Eli Manning and Geno Smith under center. He was able to get to use their strengths. From what I see, it seems Daboll simply can’t.
Obviously, Daboll wants his own quarterback that he can get results out of. But while he is waiting, it’s his job to get something out of Jones. So far, he hasn’t. Most of the Giants’ wins have come from inferior competition and defense.
If the Giants are going to make the playoffs and do something in the playoffs, Daboll needs to make Jones more than being a game manager. Most importantly, we need to see his coaching acumen. This needs getting more out of his wide receivers, even if they are not going to remind me anyone of Jerry Rice or Randy Moss. This offense has to be more aesthetically pleasing than say making one barf that you are seeing now.
Also, how much can the Giants draw from the well of resilience and moxie? It’s a great trait to have, but they can’t be doing this all the time. It catches up to them in the end. They need to set the tone by starting better. They are fortunate to be in a league where only a few teams are great and so many are mediocre. This wouldn’t cut it a few years ago.
When the Giants play the Eagles, they have to be better than this. They can’t be falling behind, and they need to get something out of Jones. This is going to be true also in the playoffs if they make it or if they somehow sustain this start. A team can only get by with luck.
Face it, Giants fans: The Giants are the worst 5-1 team ever. This is about what the other team has done more than what they did. The Ravens had no reason to blow this lead. Their quarterback fell apart when it was crunch time, and a bogus pass interference call denied them an interception that could have sealed the win for the Ravens. The same can be said about the Packers beating them last week in London. It was more about Rodgers not coming up big in a big moment.
I get it that 5-1 is relative considering it’s hard to win in the NFL and that the Giants haven’t achieved success since they last made the Super Bowl. But there has to be some perspective to all this, too.
If the Giants feel this is a work in progress and it sure looks like they are, then maybe they know they got work to do and they know they have to be better than they have shown.
If they feel this is the best they can do, then this start is fool’s gold.
This is where Daboll needs to earn his money by getting something out of Jones and his receivers.
This writer can be reached on Twitter at: @LeslieMonteiro6