EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Having to play two games on the road in less than a week gave the New York Giants three days to look back at their first three games and to consider what's gone wrong.
It's nothing like a season ago when the Giants won their first two games under new coach Brian Daboll and six of their first seven. It carried the team to its first playoff berth since 2016 with a 9-7-1 record.
This season has been much shakier. New York is 1-2. It has been blown out by the Dallas Cowboys (2-1) and San Francisco 49ers (3-0) and it needed to match its greatest comeback in franchise history for a 31-28 win over the Arizona Cardinals (1-2).
The job is not going to get easier with Seattle (2-1), Miami (3-0) and Buffalo (2-1) over the next three weeks, especially with all that is going wrong.
Daniel Jones and the offense are struggling. The defense is missing tackles, not forcing turnovers and failing to get off the field, even on third-and-long situations.
If there has been a common thread on both sides of the ball it's mistakes and slow starts. New York has been outscored 63-6 in the first half.
“I think it’s just locking in from the get-go,” inside linebacker and leading tackler Micah McFadden said Monday. “It’s not as easy as just getting points on the board as quickly as the other team does. We want to do that, we want to get that quick start, but even when we don’t, it’s like what we’ve been talking about, just staying the course and believing in the next play and taking advantage of every opportunity.”
McFadden, who had four tackles for losses against San Francisco, and safety Xavier McKinney said coordinator Wink Martindale has been telling the defense to stay the course.
“Individually, we’ve got to be better, we’ve got to have faster starts, and we’ve got to execute a lot better, we’ve got to be a lot cleaner, be a lot sharper,” McKinney said.
“I think it’s pretty simple. There’s only so much talking you can do about it. We’ve got to go out there and do these things and execute and be able to execute at a high level. So, once we do that, we’ll be fine.”
McKinney surprisingly was not concerned about the numerous missed tackles in the 30-12 loss to the Niners Thursday night. He feels the Giants are a good tackling team and just need to work on their fundamentals to fix it. He said what the defense needs is some turnovers. New York has not forced one.
A turnover or two probably also would help the offense, which many felt would be successful this season.
Jones was coming off a career season, had received a four-year, $160 million contract and some deep options.
Running back Saquon Barkley got to camp on time despite being unhappy about his franchise tag. He eventually signed an adjusted one-year contract.
New York also got tight end Darren Waller in a trade, signed wide out Parris Campbell as a free agent and drafted speedy receiver Jalin Hyatt. Darius Slayton, Isaiah Hodgins, Sterling Shepard and Wan'Dale Robinson also returned.
The problem has been an ineffective offensive line that has been hit by injuries to star left tackle Andrew Thomas and guard Ben Bredeson and struggles on the right side. It's left Jones to face a heavy rush all three games.
“I think there’s obviously still room for improvement,” said Robinson, who returned to the lineup Thursday for his first game since tearing an ACL in November. “I don’t think we’re a finished product or anything like that, we just have to continue to keep working and just keep taking the steps forward and everything will come our way.”
Getting Thomas and Bredeson back this week will help the line. Barkley missed the San Francisco game with a high ankle sprain and his status for the Seattle game next Monday is uncertain.
The defense has to keep working, McFadden said.
“There are no complaints or pointing fingers or worrying about the schedule and what we have to do moving forward,” he said. “I think what it’s going to come down to, is just trusting the process. I think we are excited to be in a week like this.”
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Tom Canavan, The Associated Press