The Giants never gained less than 200 yards of total offense with a healthy Daniel Jones starting at quarterback prior to this season.
Now it has happened twice in three games.
That’s right: Dave Gettleman, Pat Shurmur, Mike Shula, Joe Judge and Jason Garrett never oversaw an offensive yardage output with a healthy Jones like this season’s Week 1 and 3 losses to the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers.
Brian Daboll’s Giants offense put up a measly 171 yards and zero points against the Cowboys in a 40-0 Week 1 home loss on Sept. 10. Then, after erupting for one half in a 31-28 comeback win in Arizona, they had a sorry 150 yards against the 49ers in Thursday’s 30-12 road defeat.
Their 150 yards against the Niners, actually, was the Giants franchise’s lowest total in a decade since a 38-0 road loss at Carolina on Sept. 22, 2013, with Eli Manning at QB.
The only sub-200-yard Giants game Jones started from 2019-to-2022 was a 159-yard, 26-7 home loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14 of the 2020 season, Judge’s rookie year.
But that was the game when an immobile Jones entered with a hamstring injury, didn’t run once, got sacked eight times, hurt himself again, and got replaced late by Colt McCoy.
Jones was also hurt and out for the season when Jake Fromm (twice) and Mike Glennon started the final three games of Judge’s tenure as the Giants went off the rails with 192, 155 and 177 yards, respectively, and 20 total points against the Eagles, Bears and Washington.
Fast forward to 2023, though, and there is now a viral video of Jones reading the 49ers defense pre-snap on Thursday with a look of apparent concern or confusion on his face.
“Not good enough. Not good enough,” Jones said afterward, admitting Thursday’s game got “frustrating at times.”
Daboll and Mike Kafka are the offensive gurus. They’re the ones who supposedly had unlocked Jones and the offense last season, earning the Giants a playoff victory and Jones a new deal.
GM Joe Schoen has been trying to rebuild this roster. Eight of Thursday’s 11 offensive starters were players that Schoen brought in, including four of the five O-linemen.
So what is going on? How is the offense worse?
“There’s a lot of football we don’t feel is reflective of our best,” tight end Darren Waller said.
That’s putting it nicely. Obviously, the problems start with the line.
Jones has been pressured on 47% of his dropbacks so far this season, according to Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson, or basically on one out of every two throws.
He was under pressure on 12 of 35 dropbacks against the 49ers, including four of the eight passing snaps when the Niners rushed five, per NFL NextGenStats.
“I think they were really giving us a chance to get back there, so we got a lot of opportunities,” 49ers defensive lineman Javon Hargrave said of the Niners’ two sacks, six QB hits and 12 pressures.
There is no consistency and not enough talent up front for the Giants. Daboll has started three different line combinations in three games due to injury and poor play.
It was Andrew Thomas, Ben Bredeson, John Michael Schmitz, Mark Glowinski and Evan Neal, from left to right, against the Dallas Cowboys in the opener.
Then Josh Ezeudu replaced an injured Thomas (hamstring) at left tackle in Arizona, while Marcus McKethan started at right guard for a benched Mark Glowinski.
Then Shane Lemieux started for an injured Bredeson (concussion) in San Francisco, even though Glowinski had replaced Bredeson (concussion) in the second half against the Cardinals.
This is why the Giants worked out Justin Pugh in Arizona during their trip. They paid Jones this offseason, and right now they’re not adequately protecting or helping their investment.
It is up to Schoen and Daboll to correct this, but of course, the line isn’t the only issue. The annual problem of player health is once again holding them back.
Jones, Thomas and Saquon Barkley are the Giants’ three most important offensive players. Two of them weren’t on the field against the 49ers.
Bredeson’s absence meant the left side of the line in Week 3 was completely different from the pair that had started in Week 1.
Barkley’s high right ankle sprain might sideline him for another two games.
Daboll and Kafka unthinkably ran the ball only 11 times on Thursday for a pathetic 29 yards, the Giants’ lowest rushing total since Judge’s 2020 season opener against the Steelers (also 29 yards).
The Niners’ defense has allowed a wild 159 total rushing yards through three games, the third-fewest in Weeks 1-3 by a 49ers defense since 1970.
Still, the Giants didn’t even try to use Jones’ legs. He had two rushes for five yards. That surprised 49ers pass rusher Nick Bosa, who recalled Jones doing damage with the zone-read in a 36-9 Niners win over the Giants in 2020.
“I was a little surprised they didn’t go with the zone read game a little bit, which kind of hurt us in 2020,” Bosa said. “But I guess they figured we emphasized it throughout the week, so maybe they didn’t go to it. But we expected that. We didn’t get that much. He was getting rid of it more than trying to extend plays like we watched the last couple games.”
Niners inside linebacker Fred Warner also thought it was interesting Jones didn’t run more.
“We knew that if he could get the game going with his legs, it was gonna be a long day for us,” Warner said. “So I was surprised they didn’t use more schemed-up quarterback runs on us … I don’t know [why they didn’t], maybe just trying to protect him. You’re obviously giving your quarterback up to get hit if he’s carrying the ball. So they probably saw the [Rams] game from last week against us and tried to get more of that quick game going.”
Penalties have hurt the Giants, too.
Tight end Daniel Bellinger and Ezeudu both killed second-half drives with penalties: Bellinger with a third-quarter false start and Ezeudu with a fourth-quarter facemask.
Meanwhile, Jones and Waller both failed to rise to the occasion in key moments on Thursday.
Waller should have caught a Jones throw on the final drive of the first half, with daylight in front of Waller to run. And Jones overthrew Waller down 11 points on a key third down in the early fourth. Then they combined on a tipped ball for an interception.
“I think it was a little bit high,” Daboll said of the second miss that put the nail in the Giants’ coffin. “It was overthrown.”
Waller gave a “big shoutout to the defense” and said the offense could have changed the game by making those plays and failed. He said neither pass was perfectly on target but he had to make the catch.
Jones said he “missed” multiple throws. “I have to give them a better ball,” he said.
“The way that [the 49ers] apply pressure,” Waller said, “the way they can get you to play behind the sticks sometimes, that puts you at a disadvantage and makes you have to make hero plays.”
The Giants don’t need hero plays right now, though. They need a baseline of competence. At the moment, it’s missing.
A’SHAWN A MAN OF FEW WORDS
An intimidating A’Shawn Robinson tersely answered “I don’t know” to a slew of postgame questions about his altercation with 49ers left tackle Trent Williams at the end of Thursday’s first half.
“I’m just playing for my teammates,” the defensive tackle said eventually.
Robinson and Williams know each other from facing off in the NFC West when Robinson played for the Los Angeles Rams.
Robinson shoved 49ers guard Aaron Banks as the 49ers knelt to run the clock out. Williams pushed Robinson in retaliation. And then Robinson appeared to jab Williams in the neck, chin or chest. That prompted Williams to punch Robinson in the helmet.
The referee flagged both Robinson and Williams for unnecessary roughness penalties and forced both teams back on the sideline for a second Brock Purdy kneel down before the half could be officially over.
NINERS EXTEND LYNCH, SHANAHAN
49ers GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan both received contract extensions after their comprehensive primetime win over the Giants.
The duo joined San Fran in February. 2017 and since have led the organization to three playoff berths, two NFC West titles, three NFC Championship Game berths and one Super Bowl trip.
Their team is 3-0 this season and has scored exactly 30 points in all three wins over the Steelers, Rams and Giants, respectively.
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