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Cover 3: State of the Giants at bye week

The Giants.com crew breaks down the state of the team as it heads into the bye week:

John Schmeelk: As the Giants look back at their first 10 games and figure out why they sit at 2-8, there are a couple obvious flashing red lights. The first is turnover ratio. The second is their pass defense.

In a passing game, the Giants are allowing the second most yards per pass play in the NFL (8.27). Only the winless Bengals are worse. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), the Giants are pressuring opposing quarterbacks on just 32.5% of their dropbacks, which is the sixth-lowest rate in the league. Blitzing has not helped. Opponents have a passer rating of 120.7, fifth-worst in the NFL, when the Giants blitz.

Those failures are especially glaring when it comes to defending big plays. Only two teams have allowed more than the 40 pass plays of 20 or more yards than the Giants have given up. The Giants have allowed 12 pass plays of 40 or more yards, which leads the league. According to PFF, 20.4% of opponent’s passes have gone for 15 or more yards, which is the second highest rate in the league. Opponents have a passer rating of 95.8 on passes that travel 20 or more yards in the air.

The Giants have also been victimized by shorter passes that turn into bigger gains because of yards after the catch. According to PFF, the Giants allow an average of 5.9 yards after the catch per reception, which is the fifth-most in the league.

A team can survive defensively if they are forcing opposing teams to navigate the field on long drives that require a lot of plays. The Giants, however, are allowing too many big plays, which makes it too easy for opposing teams to get into the end zone. Poor execution, tackling and missed assignments are all to blame.

Dan Salomone: On August 13, team president John Mara boiled everything down and set the benchmark of success with the following line: “I want to feel like at the end of the season we’re moving in the right direction. I’m not going to say it has to be a minimum number of games that we have to win, or we have to make the playoffs. I want to feel when I’m walking off the field after the last game of the season, whenever that is, that this franchise is headed in the right direction. That’s, to me, the most important thing.”

At this point, what’s done is done and what can be said about the 2-8 Giants has been said. The only thing that matters is what the top brass thinks on Dec. 29. Barring an incredible run and all the pieces falling their way, that is the date of the Giants’ final game, a home matchup with the rival Eagles. Daniel Jones will then have 14 starts under his belt and likely every franchise record for a rookie quarterback. At the most important position in all of sport, that is a step in the right direction.

Lance Medow: There’s certainly a number of factors you can point to as to why the Giants are 2-8, but one recurring theme is slow starts and disappointing finishes. In five of the last six games, the Giants have fallen behind by double digits before getting on the board. During their current six-game skid, they’ve been outscored 55-3 in the first quarter. They have been able to overcome most of those deficits, but whenever you dig yourself an early hole, the energy and effort to come back takes a toll. The Giants have been outscored 58-17 (-41) in the fourth quarter.

A minus-12 turnover differential is one factor that has contributed to lopsided scores in the first and fourth quarters, and there have been negative plays, penalties and sacks. Case in point, in the first quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Jets, the Giants went three and out on their very first possession with the drive ending with a sack. Skip ahead to later in the game, the Giants recorded just two first downs in their final five possessions and allowed three sacks.  The other pressing issue is opposing explosive plays. The Giants have allowed a league worst 12 pass plays for 40+ yards, four of which have gone for touchdowns in two of the last three games. That spells out some of the issues that have plagued the Giants throughout the first 10 games of the season.

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