As the Giants move into the final stages of their season, they must know they have a fatal flaw that surfaces week after week.
“Every game is close,’’ tight end Evan Engram said Monday. “It can be 14-13 or it can be 35-34. Every game’s a battle.’’
Which final score would a player who makes his living on offense prefer?
“I’d take the win,’’ Engram.
To even consider the Giants on the right or wrong side of 35-34 is quite a leap of faith. More like gazing into an alternate universe. They are where they are, at 5-9 and grasping at that forever dangling NFC East first-place ring, because of one failing that overshadows all others.
It’s the scoring, stupid.
There is much to discuss and pore over with the Giants but there is one loud and clear, shouting at the top of your lungs reason why this team is not likely to reside in first place again this season in its imminently winnable division.
They do not score enough damn points.
“I’ve done a lot of study on this and in 100 percent of NFL games the team who scores more points wins, so we’re gonna try to do that as much as we can,’’ head coach Joe Judge said, no doubt storing that line up for a while now. “Look, not to be a complete wiseguy to you, at this point in the season we have to know what our strengths and weaknesses are.’’
Weakness: Offensive production.
Sometimes they can control the football environment enough to at least possess the ball and allow their improved defense to limit the damage. If the Giants need to outscore anyone it is Mission Impossible, without the screaming Tom Cruise tirades. They got seven measly points last week with hobbled Daniel Jones in at quarterback and six measly points Sunday night with backup Colt McCoy directing the offensive traffic in a 20-6 loss to the Browns. Think standstill when considering what sort of pileup the Giants are ensnared in here.
In the last four games, the Giants have cobbled together 19, 17, 7 and 6 points and that is not NFL-caliber production. That they won two of those games is lipstick on a pig. Navigating around so few points can work only for a short time; it is not sustainable. There has to be a major evaluation of who the Giants have and what they are doing on offense, as what they have now and what they are doing now is not cutting it.
Three times this season, the Giants could not score a touchdown in a game. The 13 combined points in home games played in consecutive weeks is the fewest from the Giants in more than 44 years. The Giants in 1976 were shut out in back-to-back October home games. They were 3-11 that season. These Giants are not much better, record-wise.
Everything must be on the table. Jones, even when healthy, does not get his team in the end zone often enough. His eight touchdown passes this season should be a misprint. The bar for him cannot be “avoid making mistakes.’’
The entire package installed by offensive coordinator Jason Garrett must be studied to see if it is up to par with the more trendy systems around the league. The line still needs some shaping. Saquon Barkley will be back and he should be a difference-maker, but will he be better than ever? Everyone who gets his hands on the ball must be put under the microscope. There is a glaring need for speed and a bigger, more physical wide receiver who can run.
The metrics say the targets do not get open often enough. Sterling Shepard caught four passes for 51 yards against the Browns and afterward said what he thinks of those who lean on the metrics.
“I don’t know where people are getting that from, to be honest,’’ Shepard said. “Is that what you’re saying? That we’re getting, what, two yards of separation? In the NFL, that’s open. I don’t know what the analytics say, but you can go off that if you want to. I know what I see on film and for those of them who think that way, go look at the film.’’
Nothing on the film can distract from what shows up on the scoreboard. Not enough points means not enough winning.
“We’re absolutely capable of more points,’’ Judge said.
The time is now. Because, as Judge no doubt knows from doing studies on this, scoring seven and then six points is going to get you beat, every time.