The Giants came into Sunday night’s prime time matchup versus the Philadelphia Eagles with hopes of overtaking their rivals and moving into second place in the NFC East. By the end of the night, not only were those hopes dashed, but fans were left wondering if their Giants were even fit to compete for the playoffs.
A 27-0 defeat in which quarterback Eli Manning was sacked six times will raise a lot of questions. Was the Giants’ three-game winning streak that preceded this loss a fluke? Are the real Giants the team that blew out Houston and Washington or the one that got crushed by Detroit and Philadelphia?
It’s tough to say right now. The offense was coming along smoothly under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, and the return from injury by rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. only added to the excitement. The Eagles game threw a monkey wrench into the Giants’ plans, though.
The offensive line that was previously so stout in both pass protection and run blocking was overpowered by Philadelphia’s front seven. New York gained just 3.7 yards per rush on the ground while losing 43 yards on eight sacks. There were also costly penalties. An apparent Larry Donnell touchdown reception was called back because of offensive holding in the third quarter. That was one of 10 Giants penalties for the night.
Later in the drive, Victor Cruz went down with a knee injury while trying to catch a touchdown pass on 4th-and-goal. The fact that the wide receiver dropped the ball turned out to be minor, as Cruz went down in serious pain. It was later determined that he had torn his patellar tendon and will not play again this season.
So not only did the offensive line look remarkably worse than in did from Weeks 2 through 5, but Big Blue is now short its most dynamic receiver. Can the team recover in time for a crucial game versus the division-leading Cowboys this Sunday?
That’s up to the players, really. We’ve seen the offensive line perform well before. Where they might have wilted against J.J. Watt and the Texans, they played a terrific game while opening up holes for Rashad Jennings to run through. The unit has allowed Eli Manning to look like a championship quarterback again. That wasn’t the case on Sunday night, but the potential is there.
As for replacing Cruz, we saw that Beckham can be a game-changing player when he caught a huge touchdown pass in his first game with the team. More plays like that will be necessary if New York is going to replace Cruz’s production. It’s not going to be a one-man job. Players like Donnell, who has officially caught just one pass over the past two games, need to make more plays to make up for the absence of a key piece like Cruz.
The Giants are now in third place in the NFC East, but at 3-3, the season is far from over. There’s still plenty of time to right the ship and make a run, but the team needs to become more consistent for that to happen. The next time they see the Eagles, it will be the last game of the season and the Giants must have a plan to protect Manning by then. If they don’t, their season might be over before the game starts.