In the days and hours leading up to Monday's game between the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants, there likely will be a lot made about the 2013 ineptitude of both teams. Elias Sports Bureau told the Pioneer Press the combined .090 winning percentage of the teams makes their Week 7 matchup the worst in 44-year MNF history this late in season.
They have combined to play 11 games and have lost 10 of them. The derision will come with a reason. Two teams that had playoff aspirations are both mired in brutal losing skids.
Vikings fans know why Minnesota is struggling. The defense has been awful and any team that starts three different quarterbacks in the span of four games clearly has problems.
But why are the Giants 0-6? The question of why they aren't winning more has been asked for the last month. In previous years, the Giants have mysteriously been able "flip the switch" and turn a mediocre season into a playoff run, including a pair of Super Bowl wins. But at 0-6 many have long since written off the Giants – and for obvious reasons. They've been the embodiment of Murphy's Law. Anything that can go wrong has gone wrong. Whether it's offense, defense or special teams, the Giants haven't been living large.
If you're going to round up the usual suspects that are at fault for New York's fall from grace, it would be easier to say who has done their jobs well, because there aren't many.
Quarterback Eli Manning has had one of the worst seasons ever for a QB with a Super Bowl ring (much less two). He has completed just 53.7 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and 15 interceptions. His passer rating is 64.0, which is lower than the passer rating that got the Vikings to effectively give up on Christian Ponder (65.9). The one time he was benched, his backup Curtis Painter threw another interception – on just four passes attempted. Two of those 16 interceptions have been returned for touchdowns, turning offense into points for the other team. Any culpability lineup of suspects has to start with Manning.
The last thing any offense wants to do is be one-dimensional by force and few teams have endured that as much as the Giants. Through six games, they have run the ball just 113 times. Five of those were Manning scrambles that began as drop-back passes. Of the 362 offensive snaps the G-Men have taken in six games, 254 of them have been pass plays – more than 70 percent passes. The Giants running game has been as bad as any in the league, which has forced New York to pass as much as consistently being behind in games.
Through six games, the Giants have run for just 407 yards, a hideous average of less than 68 yards a game. Considering that the Giants got 123 of those yards last week against Chicago, things were even worse – heading into Week 6, they were averaging just 57 yards a game. They signed Brandon Jacobs off the street and he is their current leadin rusher with just 154 yards. Injuries and fumbling have been an issue. To go with the 16 interceptions, the Giants have fumbled eight times, losing seven of them. David Wilson was supposed to be the man, but fumbles and injuries have left the Giants searching for anyone who can carry the ball and hold onto it.
The offensive line isn't without blame either. Not only are the Giants averaging just 3.6 yards a carry with a long run of 18 yards, but they have a long run of just 18 yards and have allowed Manning to get sacked 16 times. The O-line is a mess and it hasn't shown a lot of improvement over time.
The biggest stat that exemplifies a defense is points allowed. While the offense and special teams have done their part to pad the total, the Giants have been outscored 209-103 – including 189-83 in the final three quarters. They've been outscored 73-27 in the second quarter and 61-21 in the fourth – times when good teams tend to dominate. Their weekly points-allowed total have been a gaudy 36, 41, 38, 36, 31 and 27. Some of the great offenses in NFL history would have trouble winning when a defense allows point totals like that.
Known for years as one of the league's most dominant defensive fronts, the Giants have just five sacks, while Manning has been sacked 16 times. If a defense can't create pressure on the quarterback and gives him time to throw, the results will be similar to what the Giants have experienced this year.
New York is also historically known for creating turnovers, but this year the Giants have just seven takeaways, while giving the ball away 23 times. The minus-16 turnover ratio is by the worst in the league – four more in the minus column than other teams and only five teams in the league are worse than minus-3 in giveaway/takeaway ratio. At their current pace, the Giants are scheduled to end the season with a giveaway/takeaway rate of minus-43.
The Giants have struggled offensively on third down, converting just 32 percent of their opportunities, a problem made worse with a defense that has allowed 49 percent of third downs to be converted. The result of that is the defense is forced to stay on the field for another set of downs, which has led to the league's worst time of possession disparity the league (7:40 per game).
Opponents have been able to run 192 times for 740 yards on the ground – an average of 32 times a game. With that many rushing attempts, they can work the clock and achieve offensive balance, something that has escaped the Giants offense. But it doesn't stop there. Opposing quarterbacks have completed more than 64 percent of their passes for 1,645 yards with 14 touchdowns, four interceptions and cumulative passer rating of 97.5. Only seven quarterbacks in the league have a passer rating higher than that, which speaks to the deficiency of the New York defense.
The Giants have allowed opposing kickers to score 65 points in six games without a miss – 14 field goals and 23 extra points, including a perfect 9 of 9 from 40 yards and beyond. New York's Josh Brown has scored just 25 points in six games, missing two of six field goals without attempting one from 50 yards and beyond.
Even the return games haven't been immune. Opponents have called just five fair catches, which means that 16 of the 21 punts that were returnable have been returned – and in a big way. Of the 16 punts that have been returned, opponents are averaging 18.1 yards per return with two of them taken back for touchdowns.
The Vikings can make an argument that, with the difference of a couple of last-second drives against Chicago and Cleveland, they could be heading into New York with a 3-2 record and as a prohibitive favorite to win Monday night. The Giants have no such luxury or excuse. They're 0-6 for a reason – a bunch of reasons.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Why are the Giants 0-6? Plenty of reasons
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