It was just one play. It was a big play, potentially a crucial one, but we’re probably not sitting here dissecting it as if one delay-of-game penalty was responsible for all the Giants’ ills if coach Ben McAdoo hadn’t (deservedly/unusually) put the blame squarely on Eli Manning.
Midway through the third quarter, with the Giants down 10 to the Lions, New York opted to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 2. That was a questionable decision in itself, but they never even got to take a shot. Eli Manning changed the play at the line and couldn’t get it off in time. The delay-of-game flag moved them back and they settled for a field goal, and ultimately never reached the red zone again in a 24-10 loss.
After the game, McAdoo chalked up the penalty to “sloppy quarterback play.” Why didn’t he call a timeout?
“Because we have a veteran quarterback who has played a lot of football and I expect us to get the ball snapped.”
Fair criticism (and Manning agreed, telling reporters, “any time there’s a delay of game, it’s on the quarterback”) but a little jarring to see a coach state so candidly. It’s the sort of thing that rings a little more fraught with meaning when a team is 0-2 and has scored 13 points on the season.
But of course, that doesn’t happen without a group effort, and the Giants have bigger problems than that one play. (A fine microexample is the first-and-goal from the 1 they had on that selfsame drive. It shouldn’t have come down to fourth down.)
Friends, the Giants’ offense is bad. It wasn’t supposed to be this bad, not with the team stocking up in the offseason on another big target in Brandon Marshall and a pair of tight ends, one each specializing in blocking and pass-catching. But all the targets and all the schemes in the world can’t help you when your line is a sieve and your quarterback is old and immobile. Ereck Flowers is a turnstile at left tackle and Justin Pugh wasn’t much better filling in for the injured Bobby Hart at right tackle, and Eli Manning doesn’t have the legs to give himself any more time than what his protection can give him. So Manning couldn’t get that fourth-down play off? Just as crippling is his inability to keep this third-down play alive.
Coming into the season, the Giants were pretty easily diagnosable as a team strong in every aspect of the game but its O-line, with a big question mark at quarterback—based both on how much time Manning would have to work, and how much he has left at age 36. That second one is somewhat inseparable from the first, but it’s a fundamental problem that infects everything else, and I don’t know how or if it’s curable. Everything starts up front, and that’s where the Giants are a disaster. And not just on one play, but on every snap.