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Stagnant offense is getting to look familiar to Giants fans

October 1, 2018
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New York Giants' Odell Beckham reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Saints defeated the Giants 33-18. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — This is getting to look familiar to New York Giants fans. Too familiar.

With Odell Beckham Jr., healthy, rookie Saquon Barkley in the backfield, Sterling Shepard emerging as a complementary target, the Giants’ offense should be far more dangerous than in last season’s debacle.

It sure didn’t look that way Sunday in a 33-18 loss to New Orleans. The Saints didn’t even need Drew Brees to be his usual dominating self because, after New York’s superb opening drive, the offense pretty much went silent until it was too late.

Reminiscent of last year under a different coaching staff that didn’t survive the full schedule and the Giants wound up 3-13.

“It’s a tough question. It seems like it shouldn’t be this hard, but it is,” said Beckham, held to 60 yards on seven receptions. “We got to come with the energy like our game last week (a win at Houston). It’s not one person doing this or one person doing that. It’s got to be everybody. We’ve just got to stick together.

“It’s definitely not the results we want, the outcome. It’s not the way we want to play.”

It’s similar to how they played in 2017, though, and that’s been true throughout September, when they went 1-3 to fall into the NFC East cellar they occupied last season.

Following an impressive 10-play, 75-yard drive on their first series that Shepard capped with a 2-yard scoring catch from Eli Manning, the offensive stagnated. While their defense held New Orleans to four first-half field goals, the Giants were managing two punts and a lost fumble.

Then the Saints got their attack on track and the Giants couldn’t keep up.

“We were going to just have to have some long drives and continue to play that way,” said Manning, whose solid numbers — 31 for 41 for 255 yards and one touchdown — belied the effectiveness of the offense. “There were a few times where they knocked us out of some good down and distance and we weren’t able to sustain some drives.”

When the Giants brought in Pat Shurmur, the NFL’s Assistant Coach of the Year in 2017 while coordinating Minnesota’s offense, then added Barkley as the No. 2 overall draft pick, it wasn’t supposed to be this way. The elements at the skill positions were in place with Beckham back to health and tight end Evan Engram (now out with a sprained knee) rapidly developing.

But Manning needs solid protection, something he rarely gets. Barkley is terrific and picking up yards on his own, but that’s a difficult chore down after down.

So the Giants have scored 73 points in four games, with 27 coming in the win at Houston.

“We need to score more points,” Shurmur said, stating the obvious. “We had a good first drive and we have to do more of it throughout. That’s what I make of it. We need to get better.

“We need to get back to work and play our way through this. You just keep working. You play your way out of it and you coach your way out of it. Period. That’s what you do. That’s the reality of it. That’s what I trust our guys and our coaches will do.”

It won’t be easy with staunch defenses in Carolina and Philadelphia up next.

“I think we have talent,” Manning said. We just have to put it all together.”

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