It is easy to say that with a 1-3 start to the 2018 season, the New York Football Giants are headed straight for another disaster season. But if you're a Giants fan, there is no reason to hit the panic button yet because the NFC East is still up for grabs.
The Giants started off 0-2 this season after losses against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Dallas Cowboys. A week three win in Houston against the Texans looked promising, but that followed with a loss in week four at home to the New Orleans Saints. With a 1-3 start, it is easy to say that this Giants season has zero reason for hope with a game on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers looming.
The Philadelphia Eagles are 2-2 on the season. They are coming off a brutal overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans. In week one, the Eagles squeezed out a 18-12 win against the Falcons. The following week against Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers won 27-21 as Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 402 yards and 4 touchdowns. Even though Carson Wentz retuned in week three against the Colts, it took a late fourth quarter drive to etch out a 20-16 win. The case could be made that the defending world champions could be 0-4, but it seems inevitable that Carson Wentz will get this team back to where they are expected to be.
The Dallas Cowboys have started the season 2-2, but their offensive woes indicate that this season will be a struggle. Dallas has the 25th ranked offense according to ESPN.com. In week one against the Panthers, it took quarterback Dak Prescot nearly three full quarters to get the football past the midfield point.
The Cowboys defense is ranked sixth in the NFL. They stopped the Giants for 13 points in week two, but could not stop Russel Wilson and the Seahawks the following week. Both the Giants and Seahawks have terrible offensive-lines for Demarcus Lawrence to plow through. Although their defense statistically says they are elite, there are still problems as they are currently allowing teams to convert red zone opportunities at a 65 percent rate.
After projected to finish last in the NFC East, the Washington Redskins sit atop the division at 2-1 after a bye week. They started off 1-1 with a 24-6 win over Arizona, but then a loss to Indianapolis 21-9. In week three the Redskins shocked the football world with a win over Green Bay 31-17. In that game Adrian Peterson looked like his old self rushing for 120 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Could the Redskins be for real? Their defense is ranked first in the NFL, only allowing 834 yards this season. Alex Smith has a total QBR of 61.5 which is good for 14th in the NFL. The Redskins have overachieved this season on both sides of the football. If it was 2015, it would be understandable that a team lead by Alex Smith, Josh Norman, Adrian Peterson, and Vernon Davis could be a contender. Maybe 2018 has one last run for them in a mediocre NFC East, or reality will hit this team sooner then later.
Although the NFC East is still very winnable for the Giants, it is hard to expect that they can improve drastically with their next three games against Carolina, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. All three teams are extremely talented despite their slow starts. The Giants have talent in Odell Beckham Jr. (who has yet to record a touchdown this season), Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram once he returns from injury, but the offensive must gel together.
The Giants offense is ranked 23rd in the NFL. Eli Manning has an average of 2.5 seconds to release the ball, which has limited him passing the ball down field to Beckham and Shepard for big plays. Against New Orleans last week, Manning started the game with ten straight completions for only 81 yards. Manning looked to Barkley six times for 56 yards, while Beckham had 7 receptions for 60 yards. Barkley, the running back, had four less receiving yards than the 90 million dollar Beckham. Manning is not getting the looks down the field to the offensive weapons provided and he forced to give it to Barkley on the Slant, because the offensive line allows him no time to get the looks he needs.
The defense has held its ground this season. Injuries to defensive end Oliver Vernon and defensive back Eli Apple have not helped. However, the Giants have only allowed 1419 yards which is 12th in the NFL. Defensive backs Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins have done exceptionally well controlling the pass defensive. The Vernon injury and suspension of Josh Mauro, who will return against Carolina, have hurt the d-line. This offseason the Giants traded away Jason-Pierre Paul, who has four sacks with Tampa Bay this season. New York is currently tied for last in the NFL with five sacks.
The offense is expected to bring this team back to the playoffs. However, it is the defense so far that has kept this team afloat. The defense will become even better once they are whole and healthy. We can discuss how the Giants mathematically still have a chance this season. They won't be able to turn things around until the offensive gets the ball rolling. The honeymoon phase for this o-line to be as bad as they been has ended, and the Giants must save their season.
The emphasis is still on the NFC East division matchups. A reason for hope is the Giants are one game out of first place and they have yet to play a divisional game. This season will first rely on Sundays game against the Panthers. The defense will have to control Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and running back Christian Mccaffrey. Eli Manning will have to figure out a way to utilize his offensive weapons behind the gruesome offensive line.
A loss will land New York at 1-4, which will seem very similar to the 2017 disaster season. With a Thursday night matchup against Philadelphia up next for New York, this season can spiral out of control fast. A loss this weekend will cause the "yet " in the title of this article to be irrelevant, and the next blog post might be called "The Giants Season is Over."