Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan is not making excuses for the lack of offense
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.– Mike Sullivan can offer a number of reasons why the Giants' offense hasn't played up to its capability in the season's first two games. He can also eliminate one. The team's offensive coordinator said today he believes the unit is not struggling because opposing coaches have figured out what the Giants are trying to do.
"I think it goes a lot deeper than that," Sullivan said.
"I think we've certainly looked at the tape and haven't necessarily had the sense of, 'Oh man, they certainly had our playbook right here,' or 'Holy cow, they must have been able to hear what we said on the headsets.' I think you give credit to the opponent.
"We're not making excuses. It's easy to sit up here and talk about obviously the mistakes that we made and the things that we have to overcome, and not give the opponents credit because they did do a good job. I want to make sure I'm clear about that. From the standpoint of being predictable, I don't know how predictable we've been. We haven't been out there long enough to be predictable. I hope we can be predictable, because that means we're sustaining some drives and we're doing some things to get the ball in the end zone. But I don't know if that's quite on point right now."
The numbers are not what Sullivan and Co. expected when the season began. After two weeks, the Giants are 28th in the NFL in total yards (251.5 a game), last in rushing yards (48.5), and in their 0-2 start have scored only one touchdown, on an 18-yard Eli Manning pass to rookie Evan Engram in the Giants' 24-10 loss to Detroit on Monday night.
And Sullivan is correct, the offense hasn't been on the field enough. The Giants' average time of possession is 26:30, placing them ahead of only the San Francisco 49ers.
"I think it's been hard for us to get any level of consistency, and there are a number of reasons why that's the case," Sullivan said. "But when you look at the fact that we've turned the ball over in both games, we've struggled on third down in both games, struggled to get any type of consistency. Obviously, had the one nice (75-yard) drive for the touchdown Monday night. But far too many three-and-outs, and really not able to get in a type of rhythm that we'd like to get in to where we have that balance that we want to have as far as running paths. We're able to get some of those play action shots down the field and able to do some of those things. Then you throw in there some of our penalties and some of the negative plays, whether it's a tackle for loss or a sack that set us back. I think that's the biggest reason, if you will, as far as why we put ourselves in this position."
Sullivan today was asked how much difference a play caller can make in jump-starting the offense.
"I think regardless of the team, regardless of the offense that's run, regardless of any of those variables, it still comes down to players making plays," Sullivan said. "It's about the players and it's about them being able to go out there and perform. And then obviously, no kidding, coach, it's our job to put them in the right spots and try to feature what their strengths are, and try to minimize or mask or reduce what the weaknesses are. I think the most important thing for us right now is making sure that we can start playing better football, more consistent football and that seems like an oversimplification, but a lot of that just comes down to us having more opportunities."
*Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn was asked his perspective on Jamal Agnew's 88-yard punt return touchdown in the fourth quarter Monday night. The score pushed Detroit's lead to 24-10, which was the final score.
"We missed tackles, number one," Quinn said. "And we played with poor leverage. So those two combined, against good returners, not a good combination. Critical time of the game, we had an opportunity to change field position, we had a nice punt by Brad (Wing), nice distance, location. And we just didn't get the job done with coverage. We've got to do a better job."
*The same four players who missed practice yesterday sat out again today: linebackers B.J. Goodson (shin) and J.T. Thomas (groin), tackle Bobby Hart (ankle) and cornerback Janoris Jenkins (ankle). Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. (ankle) and tight end Evan Engram (concussion) were limited. Linebacker Keenan Robinson is no longer in the NFL concussion protocol and practiced fully.
"I feel good," Robinson said. "I've been on the sideline for like five weeks, four weeks, something like that. It feels good."
Robinson, who played all 17 games with seven starts least season, missed the first two games of the new season. He was asked what he can bring to the defense.
"Honestly, I don't know," he said. "Just hope I can just do my part. Whatever my job is, whether it's manning the middle, covering backs, covering tight ends, I just want to do it as well as I can and just do my part on the play."
*Four of the five Eagles who missed practice are defensive backs: cornerback Ronald Darby (ankle), and safeties Corey Graham, Rodney McLeod and Jaylen Watkins, all with hamstring injuries. Defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao (wrist) also sat out.
*The Giants lead the all-time regular-season series with Philadelphia, 82-78-2. But they've lost five of their last six games to the Eagles, and each of the last three meetings in Lincoln Financial Field.
View the best images from Thursday's practice as the team preps for Week 3