*The Giants regroup and look for answers on offense after Thursday's loss to the Redskins: *
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The first three months of the Giants' season did not go according to the players' and coaches' plans and expectations. And it seems the last five weeks will be no different.
A 20-10 loss in Washington last night left the Giants with a 2-9 record, a mark no one on the team could have foreseen after the 2016 team made the playoffs with at 11-5. But reality is harsh, and though the Giants hope to win each of their five remaining games, teams in their predicament normally play out the schedule with an eye toward next year.
But the spate of injuries sustained by the Giants this season long ago tore up the script and accelerated that process.
"I guess the normal procedure would be to start taking a look at more younger players," coach Ben McAdoo said on a conference call today. "But we're doing that, really, already, with the way things have come out injury-wise. We have a lot of young players playing out there. And last night was an example, young players playing on a short week, and they played like it. We need to get more out of the young players on our roster. We took a step backwards there."
The Giants' defense had more positive moments than the offense, sacking Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins six times and limiting the Redskins to 3.9 yards per rushing attempt. The unit even scored the team's only touchdown, on Janoris Jenkins' 53-yard interception return in the third quarter.
But the offense sputtered all night, finishing with only 170 yards, seven first downs, and two third-down conversions in 14 attempts. The Giants averaged just 3.1 yards a play.
The offense, which has scored one touchdown in two games, was reliant on many of the young players McAdoo spoke about. Rookie fourth-round draft choice Wayne Gallman led the Giants with 37 rushing yards. Tight end Evan Engram, this year's first-round selection, tied second-year pro Roger Lewis, Jr. for the team lead with three receptions. The team's other wideouts in uniform were the inexperienced Tavarres King and Travis Rudolph. The right side of the line was manned by guard Jon Halapio, making his first start in his fifth career game, and Chad Wheeler, a rookie free agent making his second start.
The Giants had only three days to prepare after last Sunday's overtime victory against Kansas City. But McAdoo, who also cited punter Brad Wing and kicker Aldrick Rosas, still expected more.
"I was disappointed in the way that our offense looked," McAdoo said. "Really, as a team, we didn't handle the ball well enough to win the game. We didn't throw it well enough, we didn't catch it well enough, we didn't punt it well enough, we didn't kick it well enough, and that was a big part of the ballgame. Last night we had a lot of unforced errors. They were both ways in the game and that's usually how it goes. On a Thursday night game, you're going to have some of that and we just weren't able to overcome it."
"The guys out there want to make plays," quarterback Eli Manning said. "I don't think they're trying to do too much and therefore leading to. I think when you start pressing, that's when mistakes happen and obviously some games we've turned the ball over, but we're not turning the ball over, we're not forcing things, we're not sloppy. Everybody has their part in it. It's not one person, we've had drops, I've missed some throws, we've had some mistakes up front. It's everybody at different times contributing to our lack of success."
Manning was evidence that the problems were not limited to the team's inexperienced players. He overthrew running back Shane Vereen on what would have been a certain touchdown, and underthrew wide receiver Travis Rudolph on what would have been another successful third-down conversion. Manning completed only 13 of 27 passes for 113 yards, and had a season-low passer rating of 44.2.
The 14-year veteran was particularly frustrated because he thought the defense played well enough to give the Giants a chance to win the game.
"It's no fun," Manning said. "It's obviously a team game. All three sides have to do their part to win a football game, but you don't want to be one of the groups that is contributing to the losses, and that's what the offense is right now. We're not doing our part. The defense is getting the stops, they're getting the turnovers, they're getting the fourth down stops, they're getting in good field position. We got to do our part. We got to stay on the field, we can't have three and outs and we got to score more points and build them a lead. If we can get a lead, we can do some things to cause the other team to turn the ball over. We got to do our part."
After a three-day break, the Giants will begin preparing for their next game, Dec. 3 against the Raiders in Oakland. Despite the bleak record, McAdoo has faith the team will end the season with a successful five-game run.
"Everything's correctable, and I'm confident that we're going to get it corrected," he said. "But we need to be better (on offense). The players are going to get a couple days away from it and we need to come back and attack this last month head on."
It's the only way to approach the end of a disappointing season.
*Cornerback Donte Deayon (fractured forearm) and linebacker Curtis Grant (knee) suffered season-ending injuries last night. Linebacker Deontae Skinner has a hamstring injury. And Jenkins hurt his ankle. Asked if Jenkins could be out long-term, McAdoo said, "He's in some pain right now, so there's a possibility."
*Wide receiver Sterling Shepard is still bothered by migraines, which kept him out of the last two games.