During NFL bye weeks, coaches and players do something they term “self scouting. ’ ’
The 1-6 Giants are in the throes of their bye week right now, and the results of their self-scouting as they return to work on Monday surely have been rather sobering.
One of the top-of-the-page results they undoubtedly deduced was this: Their offense cannot live by the run alone.
Unless the Giants are going to trot out Barry Sanders of mid-1990s form, their running game isn ’t going to carry an offense that has produced two offensive touchdowns in the past two games.
More production from the passing game is the ticket for Giants offensive survival, and that means their replacement receivers for the injured Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall have to be better than they ’ve been so far.
The Giants got away with two catches for 22 yards on seven Eli Manning targets to wide receivers in their 23-10 win in Denver three weeks ago because their running game was strong and Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian wasn ’t.
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A week later, in a 24-7 loss to Seattle, when the running game was stopped by the Seahawks ’ defense, the anemic passing game failed to pick up the offense. The wide receivers produced a total of five catches for 45 yards, but most of that production came with the Giants already out of the game.
Travis Rudolph caught three passes for 32 yards — the first three catches of his NFL career. They came on six targets. Roger Lewis produced one reception for 12 yards on six targets. Tavarres King had one catch for one yard.
That ’s a total of seven catches for 67 yards in two games.
The good news for the Giants is it looks like they ’ll get Sterling Shepard back in time for next Sunday ’s home game against the Rams. He suffered an injured ankle in the same game against the Chargers when Beckham and Marshall were injured.
“I will be ready, ’ ’ Shepard vowed earlier this week. “I ’m going [play] this next game no matter how I ’m feeling. I ’m looking forward to going back out there and hoping to help the offense out. ’ ’
The bad news is Shepard isn ’t Jerry Rice. He was the team ’s second/third receiver before he was hurt and cannot be expected to put the team on his back the way Beckham is capable of doing.
Manning called it upon himself to help develop the young, inexperienced receivers.
“You got to find out what guys do well and put them in a position to make plays, throw accurate passes and give them a shot to make plays, ’ ’ Manning said. “We have to make improvements. I have to — not coach them up — but make sure we ’re doing things the right way and everybody is playing at a high level. ’ ’
The Giants replacement receivers have not been playing at a high level, yet Manning refused to place blame on them.
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“It ’s not on the receivers, ’ ’ Manning said. “It ’s not just, ‘Hey, the receivers ran bad routes. That ’s the reason we ’re not having success. ’ I think they ’re doing a good job. We ’ve got to give them an opportunity. We got to give them shots to make plays. So, this isn ’t the receivers ’ fault. They ’re doing some good things. It ’s our job to give them an opportunity to get open. ’ ’
In fairness to both Manning and the young receivers, the past two games have come against two of the toughest defensive backs in the NFL, the Broncos and Seahawks.
“I don ’t think it has anything to do with the DBs, ’ ’ Shepard said. “It ’s the game plan going in. We did a great job running the ball against Denver. We found something that worked for us. I feel like that was kind of the mindset going into Seattle game. ’ ’
Yes, but when the Seahawks stopped the run, the Giants had no answers in the passing game.
“We have to go back to business, ’ ’ Shepard said. “We don ’t have some of the same faces. ’ ’
The Giants hope that after a week off, the new faces at receiver will start helping an offense that ’s starved for more production. More production at receiver should mean more touchdowns, which should lead to more wins.