It starts with the offensive line, where there hasn’t been one bright spot this season. Left tackle Will Beatty, who came into his own towards the end of 2012, initiating contact with pass rushers aggressively, has become passive in 2013. He’s losing his one-on-one matchups, and when given help has not played to it.
The interior line of left guard Kevin Boothe, center David Baas, and right guard Chris Snee has been completely ineffective. The heavy-footed, waist-bending Booth has not been winning his one-on-ones. Baas has been caught leaning and whiffed on run blocks far too often, and Chris Snee’s foot speed and athleticism have decreased significantly.
Power runs with pulling guards used to be a staple of the Giants running game. Guards Chris Snee and Rich Seubert led the way for one of the best running attacks in the NFL. But with Seubert long gone, and Chris Snee not quite the same, these runs have been dreadful. Both Snee and left guard Kevin Boothe have been too slow when pulling, allowing quick penetration by the defense and negative running plays.
1st-round draft pick Justin Pugh has gotten off to a bad start at right tackle. While his athleticism allows him to stay in front of pass rushers, and his ability to anchor has been decent, he’s been man handled in the running game. Pugh creates no push with his run blocks, and hasn’t been physical enough to stay on his blocks long enough. Not exactly what you’re looking for in a right tackle.
It’s easy to blame David Wilson for the Giants’ lousy rushing attack, but he continues to run hard. The offensive line is the issue, not Wilson. There just aren’t many lanes being created, and with 1st down runs leaving the Giants in 2nd and 12 or 13 situations, it’s tough to stick with the ground game.
The start to Eli Manning’s 2013 season has been downright awful, and a large part of this is due to the men up front. He’s been sacked 11 times in 3 games after being sacked just 19 times all of last season. The lack of trust in his offensive line might be the reason for his inconsistent play. So far this season, Manning has uncharacteristically fled the pocket early on some plays, anticipating pressure that never would have reached him. Other times, he’s dumped the ball off before allowing routes at the intermediate level to develop, missing potentially big plays.
Yet Manning’s struggles can’t be blamed solely on the offensive line or the lack of a run game. His ball placement and accuracy have been erratic. Manning has always had an element of inconsistency to his game. Ten seasons into his career, this is nothing new. But without a run game or a decent defense to bail him out, his issues this season have become magnified.
0-3 is not an ideal start to the season obviously, but this team is too talented to be counted out this early. After all, they’re only 2 games out of first place with 13 left to play. If this was midseason and the Giants were 4-4 and trailing a 6-2 first-place team by just 2 games, no one would count them out of the race. With 13 games left, the same should be true now. But the margin for error is rapidly shrinking.
Whatever deficiencies the G-men do have on offense must be accounted for immediately. They need to get David Wilson the ball in space, involve Hakeem Nicks more, and incorporate a higher dose of play-action and moving pockets into their repertoire to account for a porous offensive line. This Sunday’s game in Kansas City is the time to make these changes, because against the Chiefs’ dangerous pass rush, the same approach won’t work.