The shorthanded Giants can’t protect Daniel Jones in a traditional drop back passing game with this offensive line. Their best playmakers are all hurt, which rips full chapters out of Jason Garrett’s playbook.
And Jones’ decision-making regressed last week when he tried to put the whole team on his right arm.
So there is only one logical way the Giants (1-5) can approach Sunday’s game against the Panthers (3-3) at MetLife Stadium:
Change the offense.
Run Jones. Run the quarterback often. Run him in the Wildcat. Call Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman for tips, well aware they’d only go so far without Lamar Jackson on the roster.
Give Jones frequent read-option opportunities, a choice to hand to the running back or keep it himself. Run Devontae Booker and Eli Penny with Jones under center.
Run them in the outside zone to stretch the Panthers run defense out, a concept that Dallas and Minnesota used with great success on Carolina.
Keep the chains moving, chew up the clock, and avoid the catastrophic turnovers on drop back passes under heavy pressure.
“Running the football certainly helps the protection,” Garrett said this week. “Throwing it quick, moving the quarterback, having extra guys protect and getting guys out to get them open quickly. There’s a variety of things you try to do every week to help your offensive line.”
Judge and Garrett have approached every week keen on limiting the pressure Jones faces in the pocket. But they now have to put all their cards on the table Sunday given the overwhelming injuries and the stakes of this game as 3-point underdogs on their home field.
They won’t have Kadarius Toney, Kenny Golladay, Saquon Barkley or Andrew Thomas. Sterling Shepard, John Ross, Evan Engram and Darius Slayton all are questionable. Ross looks especially iffy to play, and Shepard could be a game-time decision.
The Panthers defense has been prone to downfield shots against max protection, but edge rushers Haason Reddick and Brian Burns will make the Giants pay if they stick with their same old drop back schemes.
Jones admitted Wednesday that he was “forcing things that weren’t there” against the Rams, making “bad decisions that set us back.”
“When it wasn’t going great for us, there might have been a little too much of an ‘I gotta make a play’ mentality, and he knows better than that,” quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski said Thursday.
Jones will have to fight the urge to try and take over with risky throws again Sunday. This game will be about turnovers. The team that loses the turnover battle will lose this game. And old friend Sam Darnold, the former Jet, has been turning the ball over.
Darnold had two turnovers in the Panthers’ first three games and has seven turnovers in the last three. Carolina opened 3-0 and now has lost three straight. Not a coincidence.
This could be a get-right game for the Giants’ defense if it stops the run. Top corner James Bradberry could get a pick on his old team and climb back into good favor after the secondary’s Rams debacle.
Carolina will make the Giants stop their ground game first, though. Even without Christian McCaffrey, head coach Matt Rhule wants offensive coordinator Joe Brady to recommit to the run game.
That’s probably born out of a combination of lack of trust in Darnold’s recent ball security, a need to protect his offensive line, and a desire for his team to re-establish a physical identity.
In other words, the Giants and Panthers enter this game in a similar place, excluding their disparate records.
If the Giants can move the chains with a strong running game, though, maybe they can keep Carolina’s offense off the field, control field position, and put their defense in position to make a couple plays to win the game.
That is how the Giants can win. Why they need to win is a much heavier conversation, perhaps the one John Mara was having Friday at practice not with co-owner Steve Tisch but, uncommonly, with Steve’s brother Jon Tisch, the Giants’ treasurer.
Mara foresaw possible playoff contention in August, and if the Giants lose this game, he will be staring at 1-8 as a strong possibility going into the Week 10 bye after games against the Chiefs and Raiders.
There has been chatter on social media this week from Giants fans so disgusted with the franchise that they want to stay home and show Mara their empty seats to send a message.
The NFL’s trade deadline will hit at 4 p.m. on Nov. 2, the day after the Giants’ Monday Night Football trip to Kansas City. They are already 13-point underdogs at K.C., per BetOnline.ag.
Mara doesn’t throw in the towel on seasons, and Judge isn’t the type, either. But a loss to this Panthers team could test everything about the 2021 Giants, starting with the players’ ability to stay engaged mentally and emotionally.
Judge and his coaches already played the effort card during and after the Rams blowout, challenging their players to finish. If the Giants lose to these Panthers, this could get a lot worse.
If that happens, Mara and Tisch have to understand that their fans will want meaningful action. They are tired of ownership’s silence. They want change.
That doesn’t mean ownership would have to blow up the entire operation from top to bottom. But they could fire GM Dave Gettleman and not let him handle the trade deadline. Or they could put big names almost across the board from their roster on the trade block.
The problem is the Giants don’t have many players teams would pay a lot for, and they’ll need the little top-end talent they do have to put a semi-professional product on the field into January.
All of this is to say there aren’t a lot of reasons to feel optimistic. So with the stakes this high, now is the time for the Giants’ coaches to pull out all the stops, especially on offense.
If now is not the time, there will never be one.
SILLS SIGNED OFF PRACTICE SQUAD
The Giants signed wide receiver David Sills to the active roster off their practice squad on Saturday, with Ross unlikely to play and Shepard an apparent game-time decision. They also called up inside LB Benardrick McKinney and DT David Moa from the practice squad with LB Tae Crowder (thigh) added to the injury report on Saturday and DT Danny Shelton (pec) doubtful to play. They didn’t call up TE Chris Myarick, though, which should be a good sign for Evan Engram (calf), who is questionable.
Source : https://www.denverpost.com/2021/10/26/joe-judge-jason-garrett-must-change-offense-to-protect-daniel-jones-and-ball-vs-panthers/1222