The New York Giants defense made a name for themselves last season by keeping opponents of the end zone, allowing the second fewest points in the NFL. This season is just the opposite.
In consecutive weeks, the Giants allowed 51 points to the Los Angeles Rams and 31 points to the previously winless San Francisco 49ers. Last season, the Giants allowed more than 30 points once: in the Wild Card Game against the Green Bay Packers in which they allowed 38 points.
The Giants defense allowed 284 points last season. This season, they’ve already allowed 238 points with seven games remaining.
Sunday’s loss to San Francisco was particularly brutal. The Giants defense allowed the 49ers and rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard to move up and down the field at will. The 49ers hadn’t scored 30 points in their previous three games combined.
The defensive struggles are not lost on head coach Ben McAdoo.
“The thing that was disappointing that showed up on film is the desire to finish on a consistent basis,” McAdoo said during Monday’s conference call. “It’s something that in (Sunday’s) game, it’s fresh in my head watching the ballgame.
“It’s not one player and it’s not on all plays. It’s something that almost looks like at times we’re waiting for someone else to make a play instead of just pulling the trigger and making the play ourselves.”
McAdoo was careful not to single out any individual player. He even took offense to a reporter using the phrase “lack of effort”. McAdoo might have learned a lesson from earlier in the season when he threw quarterback Eli Manning under the bus after a home-opening loss to the Detroit Lions.
Although the Giants’ defense has struggled collectively all season, the player that best signified what McAdoo was speaking of in Sunday’s game was cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
Jenkins, who was suspended for the Rams loss after returning late after the bye week and not notifying the team, had the game’s most ignominious highlight.
The man known as Jackrabbit was beat (badly) for an 83-yard touchdown on third-and-8 by wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. He was also unable to get a hand on tight end Garrett Celek on a 47-yard touchdown. Jenkins was also beat a few more times in the game, not the performance you’d expect from a Pro Bowl cornerback.
“Like I said, there were some players in the ballgame who need to show a consistent desire to finish better,” McAdoo said. “I think the post ball in the game on third down is a tough play and a tough spot for him to be in against a player with tremendous speed. And they’re going to make some plays on you.
“He had an opportunity on third down where he slipped; he could have came up and had a chance to pick the ball off if he had his footing there. I expect him to make that play and pick the ball off. It was unfortunate there.
“There were some opportunities on some balls on the perimeter where his desire to finish consistently needs to show up and we need to get the guys on the ground. We need to tackle better as a defensive unit, and he was a part of it.”