New York Post
Giants failing ‘physical’ tests
BEN McADOO’S mantra, often repeated, is to assemble a team of punishers. “We’re going to be a physical, heavy-handed football team,” he said this summer, repeating the vow he made when he was named head coach, a vow that might as well be printed on his business cards.
Those cards need to be updated, or shredded. No team ranked 31st in the NFL in rushing offense and 28th in run defense can consider itself heavy-handed.
“When other teams play the New York Giants, I don’t think they fear us,’’ Jason Pierre-Paul said Thursday after a practice he did not participate in because of a sprained shoulder. “The only way to change that is to go out and win the game.” No wins means no fear. “Why should they?” Damon “Snacks’’ Harrison said. “They’ve been able to run the ball with some consistency. Until we stop the run, I don’t think anybody will fear us.”
Heavy-headed strikes fear in opponents. The Giants of 2017 bring their feathery touch into Sunday’s lightweight pillow fight with the Chargers, an East Coast 0-4 outfit going against the West Coast version, misery enjoying company at MetLife Stadium.
Heavy- handed on offense means running the ball down their throats, finishing blocks, mauling for a few extra yards, starting fast, with a purposeful punch. Not this: Only the Giants and Bills have yet to score in the first quarter.
For this team, worst is first. The opening possession in each game has set an immediate, dismal tone. The sum totals of the four opening series: Two first downs, 37 yards, three three-and-outs, two sacks of Eli Manning, three Paul Perkins runs of zero or negative yards. McAdoo needs a rewrite of whatever scripts he is using at the start of these games.
“Did I know we haven’t scored any points in the first quarter of any game?’’ asked offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. “Yeah, I’m well aware of it. There’s no doubt we can’t wait until the second quarter or the third quarter or the fourth quarter to get things going. It certainly has been an area of emphasis this week.’’
There is nothing heavy-handed about his offense, once again operating without a true fullback, once again unable to establish any forceful push up-front, once again not employing — or, at least, not featuring — a running back willing or able to knock anyone on his butt.
Not everything can be changed here, but one change McAdoo should make: Start Wayne Gallman, the rookie banger from Clemson.
It is on defense where the “heavy-handed football team’’ decree got lost in translation. Of all the issues facing this team, the decline of the run defense is most egregious.
“Their run defense has been so bad,’’ former Giants quarterback Phil Simms said on CBS Sports Network. “The one thing I took for granted from the Giants this year was that I thought this defense was going to be overwhelming, and if the offense doesn’t carry its weight, they still could get it done. And their run defense, oh my God. That’s impossible to overcome as a football team. Your run defense is bad. Your whole team is in trouble.’’
Defensive tackle Jay Bromley, asked to define “heavy-handed’’ as it relates to defense, said, “Heavyhanded means you’re physical. Not being any kind of pushover.’’
The Giants have been some kind of pushovers. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo alternated using the words “befuddled’’ and “crappy’’ and “disease” to describe various shabby aspects of his unit as he described what he wants to see with a “simplified” approach.
“To me, defensive football, when it’s simplified, is simply running to the football and tackling,’’ Spagnuolo said. “Now, tackling takes a little bit of talent, but running to the football, being 11 getting there, being hungry and aggressive — that doesn’t. That’s just desire.’’
The desire for a heavy-handed team remains unfulfilled. The Giants through four games are between a rock and a hard place because soft teams do not win often, or at all.