The Giants were rolling, having put up 346 yards of offense in the first half against the Eagles—the most yards in a half by any Giants team in 33 years. And then, well ... “It was a tale of two halves,” Connor Barwin said, diplomatically. To put it more honestly, the Giants offense pooped the bed.
The Eagles came back from a 16-point deficit to beat New York 25-22 on a Jake Elliott 43-yard field goal with 22 seconds left in the game, and the story of the second half was that the Giants’ play-calling got conservative. Or scared. After 25 pass attempts in the first half, Eli Manning threw the ball just 12 times in the second half. This despite the Eagles’ banged-up cornerback corps being made up of three guys who weren’t on the active roster a month ago.
Odell Beckham Jr., who caught two passes for 22 yards in the second half, says you should go ask head coach Pat Shurmur what the hell that play-calling was.
“Honestly, that is a question for Coach,” Beckham told reporters. “That is not really my kind of question. I don’t call the plays. I just do what I’m told to do and go out there and execute. Whenever I get an opportunity to do something, I try to make the most of it. If I don’t have that many opportunities all I can do is do what I can when I do have an opportunity. That is more a question for Coach.
“Coming in, knowing that they’ve struggled in the secondary, personally, I would’ve loved to attack them. But it wasn’t in our game plan.”
Shurmur had a response to this line of criticism that, on the face of it, looks logical. “It doesn’t make sense to throw it every down when you’ve got a running back like Saquon,” he said. Sure, fair. Then you look at the box score and see that Saquon Barkley, who had 159 yards at halftime, had just four carries in the second half.
Now at 3-8 after a two-game winning streak that only functionally hurt their draft standing, the Giants are all but officially out of playoff contention and can hopefully stop acting like the franchise isn’t dysfunctional in a fundamental way. Is it progress of a sort that, at least this week, it’s not on Eli Manning? It is not, because even if Manning isn’t back next season, this coaching staff probably will be. That’s not promising, because while it required a team effort for the Giants offense to rack up just 56 yards after halftime, it’s on the play-calling that the two most talented players, Beckham and Barkley, totaled seven touches between them in the second half after combining for 18 in the first.
And after yet another bad loss, Beckham was again at a loss. “I couldn’t tell you the answer to that,” he said after being asked why the Giants’ top weapons were kept largely uninvolved.. “At this point of my career, I’ve been through a lot so nothing really surprises me. Just don’t really know the answer to that.”