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Cover 4: Giants look to get on track after extended break


After playing twice on the road in a five-day span, the New York Giants (1-2) have 11 days until their next game. They will host the Seattle Seahawks (2-1) on Monday Night Football in their third primetime outing in the first four weeks of the season.

To kick off the week, the crew looks at how the team moves forward:

John Schmeelk: I'll be Captain Obvious. The Giants need to get healthy. No matter the opponent, and to an extent, no matter how well the rest of the team plays, it is going to be very difficult to win football games with Andrew Thomas, Saquon Barkley, and Azeez Ojulari out with injuries.

Aside from Daniel Jones, who as the quarterback is automatically the most important player on the field, Thomas and Barkley are critical pieces to the offense. While Thomas is the most accomplished offensive lineman on the team, Barkley provides a level of explosiveness that few other players in the league possess. He can turn simple plays into big plays like no other player on the roster.

In two of the Giants' first three games, the lack of pass protection has made it very difficult for the pass offense to move the ball with consistency. Thomas and Ben Bredeson, another starter, will look to get healthy and reverse that trend.

Defensively, the injuries are less of a factor, but that unit has struggled to get off the field. The Giants have forced only nine punts this season, and two have come against the Cowboys and 49ers when those teams were not trying to score. Opposing teams have scored or missed a field goal on 17 of their 25 drives against the Giants when the games were still in doubt. Aside from the team's health, this has to get better if the Giants want to start winning games consistently.

Dan Salomone: In Game 1 of the Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll era, the Giants overcame a 13-0 halftime deficit and won on the road with a gutsy two-point conversion. It sparked a 6-1 start to the season and the team's first postseason victory since Super Bowl XLVI. Both the general manager and head coach, however, stressed all offseason that the 2023 Giants would have to prove themselves all over again.

"I think I said it last year at the same press conference: it takes a few weeks into the regular season to figure out who the team is, how we're going to react when adversity strikes, and how we're going to handle if there's success, or if you're down at halftime," Schoen said in a joint press conference with Daboll on Aug. 31. "I think that showed last year against Tennessee in the second half. I didn't know how the team was going to react coming out of halftime or if you're playing Green Bay in London and you're down in the second quarter, 17-3. We still have a lot to learn about this team."

In that same season-kickoff presser, Schoen and Daboll used the phrase "we'll see" a combined 12 times. They knew that sustaining success is more difficult in the NFL than any other sports league. Less than a month later, the team is 1-2 and has been outscored by 55 points, including a combined first half deficit of 63-6.

That's all the bad news. The good news is the NFL season is long, one that always includes ebbs and flows. The Giants began the season with more of the former, but they can get on track with the latter coming in the form of big plays, which they flashed in the second half of that historic comeback in Arizona. Their next opportunity comes against a Seattle defense that has allowed 49 plays of at least 10 yards, tied with the Chargers for the most in the league heading into tonight's "Monday Night Football" doubleheader.

View photos of the New York Giants' 2023 roster as it currently stands.

Lance Medow: After the first three games of the season, there are several areas that need to improve. But if there's one facet to focus on, it's the defense, which has struggled with missed tackles and allowing a high volume of chunk plays while recording just two sacks and no takeaways. It goes without saying, the Giants needs to score more as they're only averaging 14 points per contest and, keep in mind, 31 of their 43 total points on the season came in the final two quarters of the Cardinals game. One way to help that cause is the defense providing a lift through either field position or a game-changing play. That's what's been missing in the early stages of the season.

In last Thursday's loss, San Francisco scored on six of its nine possessions, converted 56 percent of its third downs, and had 16 plays of 10 or more yards, with 10 of them coming off short and medium passes. The other six were a combination of four run plays and two deep balls. To take it a step further, the Niners converted three third downs for 12 yards or more with two coming on one drive and the other being aided by a roughing the passer penalty. When you look at those trends and you combine that with the inability to stay on the field on the offensive side of the ball, it's hard to win let alone stay competitive. Disruptive plays on defense could go a long way in not only helping its own cause but the offense as well and it starts in the trenches.

Matt Citak: The NFL schedule-makers did the Giants no favors with matchups against the Cowboys and 49ers defenses within the first three weeks of the season, as the offense struggled to do much against these two elite units.

The Giants have allowed 45 pressures through the first three games of the season, according to Next Gen Stats, although 23 of them came in the Week 1 loss to Dallas. Against the 49ers last Thursday, they allowed 12 total pressures, including two sacks of quarterback Daniel Jones. In a game where the Giants dropped back to pass just 35 times, that's a pressure rate of 34.2 percent, and it made a big difference in Jones' numbers. When pressured, Jones completed just five of nine passes for 30 yards. When the 49ers were unable to pressure him, the fifth-year quarterback completed 17 of 23 passes for 107 yards. On the season, Jones has completed 71.2 percent of passes (47 of 66) for 467 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions when not pressured. Those numbers drop down to 16 of 31 passing (51.6 percent) for 95 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions when pressured, resulting in a difference in passer rating of 57.4 points. That is a drastic drop.

Injuries have certainly played a role in the struggles to start the year. Left tackle Andrew Thomas (hamstring) has missed the last two games, while left guard Ben Bredeson (concussion) has been sidelined since the first half of Week 2. Getting both of those starters back this week would certainly provide the line with a boost.

View rare photos of the all-time history between the New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks.


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