The way coach Ben McAdoo (and probably everyone who has watched his winless team play) sees it, the New York Giants are not doing much right. The basics -- throwing, catching, kicking, punting and tackling -- are proving to be more difficult than expected.
McAdoo seemed more upset with what he saw on tape after Sunday’s 25-23 loss in Tampa Bay than he was after the first two weeks, when the Giants were blown off the field by the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions.
“We’re 0-4. Our film verifies it,” he said during his Monday conference call. “Lot of problems that are all correctable. It’s starts with blocking, tackling, catching the football, kicking and punting -- and especially in the fourth quarter.”
Basically, the fundamentals of football. The Giants can’t execute, and it’s leading to losses. And their season is all but lost thanks to these early-season struggles.
After watching the game tape, McAdoo saw his players pressing or being hesitant, at times. That will prompt a change in approach as the Giants get set to host the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday in a matchup of the winless at MetLife Stadium.
“We have to go back and simplify,” McAdoo said. “Simplify what we’re doing schematically and let these guys go out and play and showcase their ability.”
It's a drastic change consider there was a belief this summer that the Giants could be more varied with multiple looks on offense after remaining in one personnel package (11 personnel) over 90 percent of the snaps last season. The defense, with nine of 11 starters returning, was supposed to build off last year's success.
Now they seem destined to head back to the basics.
This is similar to the approach that defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo took after the Giants finished 32nd in defense during the 2015 NFL season. He later acknowledged maybe they were trying to do too much, and it didn’t allow the players to play freely.
Spagnuolo made a concerted effort to dial things back last season. It worked as the Giants showed major improvements defensively, allowing the second-fewest points in the league.
McAdoo is going to do the same now with his offense -- and the entire team -- in hopes that they block better, run better, catch the football more effectively, tackle more efficiently and also don't badly shank punts like Brad Wing has done in the fourth quarter during each of the past two weeks.
Maybe allowing them to just play without having to think too much will be the answer. Simple is sometimes better.
“I don’t think things are too complicated,” McAdoo said. “I’m saying what you do at this point is simplify.”
The Giants have reached a point where players of all shapes, sizes and experience are making uncharacteristic mistakes. Cornerback Eli Apple and safety Darian Thompson are experiencing youthful growing pains. Wing, meanwhile, was one of the league’s better punters last season. All of a sudden, he’s struggling.
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was once one of the most sure-handed receivers in the league. Now he’s dropping more passes than any player in the league. Beckham leads the NFL with five dropped passes this season, despite missing the opener and being limited in Week 2.
Veteran Brandon Marshall officially has two dropped passes, but several others were shaky. He admittedly hasn’t played a quality game with his new team. He’s struggled catching the ball, to the point where McAdoo thinks he’s double-catching it seemingly with regularity.
Maybe the overload of information is affecting Marshall and the Giants. McAdoo is hoping the simplification of the scheme and of, well, everything will be the answer. It better be because the Giants have a lot to improve and are running out of time as their season spins violently out of control.
“I think we’re a team,” McAdoo said, “that has a lot of work to do.”
This week it seems to begin with simplification of the schemes and gameplan.