The Morning Call (Sunday)

Coaching staff taking heat after horrendous start

- By Greg Johnson

Back when the NFL schedule was reschedule­d in May, fans understand­ably had this game circled on their calendars.

Brian Daboll, the reigning NFL Coach of the Year, taking the Giants to his former team, the Bills, on a Sunday night? Now that is fascinatin­g.

Or so we thought.

The Giants have quickly sunk into a laughingst­ock this season with an offense that cannot score, a defense that cannot tackle, and a bunch of coaches who look like they stumbled into fool’s gold last year and now have no clue what to do.

“You’re always learning as a coach,” Daboll said. “Learned from some really good people, been in a variety of different situations. In 23 years (in the NFL), you’re going to pretty much be in every situation, so be consistent. Go out there, work hard, do everything you can do to put yourself in a good position.”

Look: Some regression with a tougher schedule this season was expected, especially since eight of the Giants’ nine wins came by no more than a touchdown and this was a team that struggled in the second half as opposing teams adjusted to the new coaching staff ’s schemes.

But getting embarrasse­d week in and week out with a league-worst -91 point differenti­al is inexcusabl­e. These coaches deservedly got a ton of praise last year for getting the most out of a roster that was in salary cap hell after the firing of general manager Dave Gettleman, and the same logic applies now.

Coaching matters in the NFL more than any other profession­al league. There’s no reason the

Giants can’t be more competitiv­e than this. Remember: The Seahawks were eventually without four of their Week 1 offensive line starters when they came to MetLife Stadium two weeks ago, and they not only didn’t fall apart but still won by three touchdowns.

The Giants will again be banged up on the offensive line going to Buffalo and now don’t have quarterbac­k Daniel Jones because of a neck injury. So in steps Tyrod Taylor, who ironically was the

Bills’ quarterbac­k from 2015-17 and even played in a playoff game. His mobility is important on an offense that has been painfully inept mostly because of protection issues, and if anything happens to him, undrafted rookie and New Jersey native Tommy DeVito is next in line.

“It’s going to be an electric atmosphere,” Taylor said. “Obviously, their fan base is one of the wilder ones, I guess they’ve been labeled as it. They create a great environmen­t for football. Communicat­ion has got to be at its best when you’re going into an environmen­t like this, but as a player, I think you live for these types of environmen­ts and these types of moments.”

Running back Saquon Barkley might finally return after missing three games with a high-ankle sprain, and that would certainly help. But here is the offense that Taylor is tasked at repairing: Not counting the Giants’ second-half comeback at Arizona in Week 2 (their only win) or end-of-half drives, they have produced one measly touchdown in 44 drives — and that drive started at San Francisco’s 37-yard line.

They have punted 21 times, committed 13 turnovers (five on downs), kicked six field goals, missed three field goals, and had a field goal blocked.

With that level of futility, it’s no surprise that the Giants still lost by 15 points in Miami last week even when they had three takeaways on defense including a 102-yard picksix. But think about how difficult it is to do that, and yet these Giants somehow find a way to trip over their own shoelaces that badly.

Teams always preach a nextman-up mentality, and in the NFL, it’s the truth. All teams deal with injuries, and the massive talent disparitie­s that are prevalent in college football do not exist in the pros. There are no excuses for being — again — this bad.

If Daboll is really as smart as we all thought he was last year, he’ll find a way to get this team to scratch and claw Sunday night. Establish a running game early for play-action. Design creative plays for shifty receiver Wan’Dale Robinson. Roll the quarterbac­k out of the pocket. Throw quick screens to the perimeter. Something — anything — to create a spark.

Outright winning this game is obviously a tall order. Still, no matter the circumstan­ces, a third meltdown in primetime through six weeks of the season would be an awful look for this franchise.

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