It’s kind of sad if you think about it. It’s taken the New York Giants a half of season to get it right and get the offense clicking on all cylinders.
But because of their 1-7 start, the club winning four of their last five games, makes it look like garbage time, rather than what could have been. Even betting men in New Jersey don’t know what to make of these Giants these days. They are not going to make the playoffs, but there’s a decent chance Big Blue finishes .500.
“We’re definitely coming together and playing really well as a team, but the reason why we’re doing that is because we’re playing for each other,” said running back Saquon Barkley. “That’s the message that’s been in the locker room and that’s been the message from Coach Shurmur, is coming together and playing for one another, and when you’re playing for your brother, it makes a lot of things easier.”
It’s pretty easy to see Barkley is the reason why the Giants have turned their fortunes around. The rookie running back has developed into one of the best backs in the league and his ability to break off the line of scrimmage has allowed the offense to run through him, rather than have Eli Manning forced to move the ball.
“It starts up front, and I think our guys are doing a better job blocking, which helps the run game,” said coach Pat Shurmur. “It’s much easier as a play caller also to call runs when you’re gaining yards, and when you hand the ball to a runner that can score touchdowns. I thought his touchdown run, I’ve never seen him run that fast, even in college. I think there’s data to tell us that was pretty fast. And everything plays off itself – it helps the play action, it helps the quarterback, his feet are clean because they think it’s a run, so it all plays off itself. If we’re playing right, then we need to be able to run the ball.”
Because of Barkley, Manning may be back next year for one more season. Right now, Eli needs to be a manager of the game rather than a franchise quarterback. It’s a role he can easily handle, especially if the offensive line is giving him time and defenses are looking at Barkley first and then Manning second.
Yesterday’s 40-16 win in Washington may have been the most complete game the Giants have played in years. They dominated all sides of the ball and things only broke down when Manning was pulled for Kyle Lauletta in the fourth quarter.
The Giants have games against Tennessee, Indianapolis and the Dallas. The last game of the year is the most competitive, but Dallas may not need that game and may rest their starters. There’s a very strong possibility the Giants can run the table and finish 8-8. Sure it hurts draft position, but finishing with a .500 record will solidify the team going into next season.
But there’s still that bittersweet feeling, because if Big Blue could have won that game in Carolina or the one in Philly. Or both. They would be in playoff contention this year and things would be looking pretty bright.
And that’s what makes all of this kind of sad.
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