*The Giants ' offense aims for an improved performance in the team's home opener against the Lions: *
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – For the Giants' offense, an encore performance is not an option.
Not after scoring on just a field goal in the 19-3 season-opening loss in Dallas last week. Not after rushing for 35 yards and 2.9 yards per carry (on just 12 attempts). Not after only two advances into Cowboys territory – none in the first half – the second time with only 25 seconds remaining in the game.
If the Giants are going to improve to 1-1 when they host the Detroit Lions tomorrow night, the offense must improve. And that comes from the players who panned their opening-night presentation.
"We have no choice but to do better," wide receiver Brandon Marshall said. "That's the goal. If you don't, then it's going to be a long season. It's early on in the season, first week. Didn't perform the way we wanted to, so this is a bounce back game. Monday Night Football. Hopefully we can do the right things, so we will be where we need to be."
"We had a bad game," said receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., whose absence due to an ankle injury certainly contributed to the ineffectiveness. "We had bad games last year. Dallas lost the first game last year and went (13-3). It's one game. I, for sure, am not panicking. I don't think anybody over here is panicking. We did have a bad game. The good thing about that is, there's a lot of film for you to go watch and correct and bring it into next week. It's one game. It's literally one game and now it's like, 'Wow, you lost the game.' Okay, move on."
And they have. The Giants have worked hard all week to correct flaws and prepare for a Lions team that beat Arizona in its opener, 35-23.
"We had a great week of practice," coach Ben McAdoo said. "(Friday) was a tremendous day. Our tempo was good and the energy was good. We had some physicality and we had some things to clean up like we always do after practice. The players and coaches were on point."
One area of focus has been the ground game. The Giants' 35 rushing yards tied them with Pittsburgh for the NFL low in Week 1. Orleans Darkwa's 12-yard run was the only one of their 12 attempts that gained more than six yards.
McAdoo said opportunity was as much of an issue as production.
"We didn't have very many carries last week to begin with, so we need some more rushing attempts," he said.
Paul Perkins ran for 16 yards and Darkwa added 14, leaving both backs dissatisfied with the group's output.
"It definitely left a taste in our mouth and we are definitely trying to get better this week," Perkins said. "We know we can do so much more. We have the guys in the room to definitely be one of the best rushing attacks in the league, so I think we are just taking it head on."
"At the end of the day, you look at the numbers, whatever we averaged yards-per-carry wise, it's not good enough," Darkwa said. "We hold our room high, as far as the standard and setting that standard. Even if there's nothing there, making a hole, breaking it and getting four yards a pop."
"I think as an offense, we didn't play well. That's just what it is and we've got to get better as a group. We're not singling out anybody. We've got to run better. All we can worry about is what we control and as the running backs, we've got to run better."
They would benefit by having more room to run, and for that they need help from the offensive line. Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan was asked why the line didn't play in accordance with his favorable offseason reviews. But he stressed that was one of many factors that contributed to the offense stalling in Dallas.
"There's no question, I think in everyone's eyes," Sullivan said. "The point that I want to make is that it was not just the offensive line. You can point to all the positions. You can point to coaching. There was an awful lot of bad in that first night and so there's enough blame, if you will, to go around and a lot of disappointment.
"But the thing that we really focused on is, it is just one game. Fifteen years of doing this (coaching in the NFL), the one thing I know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that where teams are after the first week of the season, there's no direct correlation to where they are at the end of the regular season, or at the end of the postseason. So a lot of work to do. A lot of errors for improvement across the board, but we've zeroed in more on that rather than, 'Oh, it's a huge disappointment,' despite reviews or a continuation of the things from last year. That's all to the side. We're just rolling our sleeves up and trying to zero in on how we can get better."
Eli Manning is always acutely attuned to the pulse of the offense, and he said it's far too early to form concrete opinions.
"We'll be fine," Manning said. "We just have to slow down, everybody take a breath and just run the plays the way we've been running them all spring and all summer. We just have to execute. Execute a little bit better. Just convert on some third downs, get into a rhythm early, so that'll be the key."
Keep an eye on these players in the Giants' home opener against the Lions