Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 10-01-20

Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he was one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls up until last year. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.

By Dave Klein
The Giants will fly off Saturday morning to Los Angeles, play the Rams Sunday and fly back Monday at noon.

They will head west as 12-1/2 point underdogs and when they wing it home they will have probably proven that to be true.

Bill Parcells used to say that the guys who make the point spreads don't play football, so what the hell do they know? He is also the head coach who used to say: 'Don't call yourself a long-suffering fan. Nobody asked you to suffer. Try die-hard instead, makes you look stronger."

While they are airborne, head coach Joe Judge and general manager Dave Gettleman might have thoughts rattling around in their heads only slightly connected to the game. For instance, is Daniel Jones really the right one to be the heir apparent to Eli Manning?

Despite extreme attention given to his penchant for giving up the ball, he's still doing it. He looks the part, and much of the time he plays the part, but franchise quarterbacks don't cough it up repeatedly.

One of the two men involved in the care and feeding of this team might also reflect on the offensive line, which despite new players and new coaches, still doesn't do the job anywhere near an acceptable level.

Losing running back Saquon Barkley didn't help much, but he wasn't getting much blocking from the guys up front either. Now the Triplets who will share the job - Davonte Freeman, Wayne Gallman and Dion Lewis - will have to figure out how they can combine for, say, 80 yards or so, while the offensive line tries to block for Jones so that he can complete more than just a few passes.

In fact, in two of the three games thus far, the leading rusher has been Jones, and you know that's not good enough.

Overall, it's not a satisfactory situation, and Judge knows it.

'The major emphasis on we are trying to teach them," Judge said Thursday, 'is that we have to finish better, and that's something for the whole team. We have given up touchdowns at the end of each half, and that's not acceptable. That can't happen."

So he has thoughts about the defense getting better, too? Well, sure. It isn't exactly stonewalling the opponents, but it has played well enough to win ... well, the Chicago game, anyway ... and if the offense could score some points, gain some yards and establish some of those long, time-consuming tasks, things might just work out.

For instance, the Giants are dead last in the NFL in rushing yardage and average yards per rush, and frankly it doesn't feel as though that figure would be appreciably better if Saquon was around.

Why? No blocking, and even when Judge says, 'I thought the line did better last week," it doesn't show itself on game film or in the statistics, much less the score.

So what does Jason Garrett, the offensive coordinator and previously head coach in Dallas for nine years, feel about this period of non-performance?

It starts with the guys up front," he says, 'but everybody is a part of the running game. The line, the tight ends, the receivers, the backs. And we as coaches have to put them in a great position, calling the right plays at the right time. We just haven't consistently blocked well enough and run well enough across the board. We have to find ways to do that to become a balanced attack, to be able to attack both in the run game and the pass game. We'll continue to work on that as we go forward."

The basic truth is that the Giants' defense is considerably better, or at least more effective, than the offense, and the extra migraine Sunday is that the offensive line is going to have to figure out how to deal with Rams' defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who probably spends his leisure time wrestling down tall buildings.

'He's a great player," Judge says. 'He's big and he's quick and he's strong. He's a challenge."

Since Donald even embarrasses great offensive linemen, your correspondent is reminded of a guard the Giants had back in the late 60's and early 70's.

'I am too slow to play this game," he once said. 'But I found a way to fool ‘em. When those great defensive linemen, you know, the ones who are nine feet tall and weigh 400 pounds and have blinding speed ... well, when they show me their first fake, and I try to react to it, they're so quick they're on their way back while I'm still trying to react. So I'm always there where they don't want me to be."

Charley played seven seasons - as a starter - for the Giants. He played for Allie Sherman and Alex Webster and found some time to become a world class amateur golfer as well.

Maybe that's the answer. Look for strong, slow linemen who just can't keep up with all the speed fakes.

Check out Dave's website at E-GIANTS where you can subscribe to his newsletters which run much more frequently than what is available here.
- Team Giants

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