A team’s first game of the NFL regular season often triggers an overreaction from fans and media. However, the Giants’ loss to the Detroit Lions on the road Monday night, a 35-14 thorough whipping, perhaps was an ominous indicator of what is to come.
It was an extension of the preseason, during which the Giants were, by and large, awful. All three units, offense, defense and special teams, received a failing grade. “No excuses,” lamented Giants head coach Tom Coughlin afterwards. “We played very poorly … couldn’t move the ball, couldn’t stop them, turned the ball over—got into that business again. Got a punt blocked, so you name it. It was a nightmare performance.”
That business Coughlin was referring to was quarterback Eli Manning continuing his disturbing trend of throwing an inordinate amount of interceptions. Last season, Manning led the league with a career high 27. He threw two costly picks Monday to start this season. Manning is ultimately accountable for the miscues, but a critical analysis of both his interceptions a season ago and in Game 1 versus the Lions shows that it is the collective ineptitude of the offense that has led to several of Manning’s hurried and off-target throws.
Manning was an ineffective 18 for 33 for 163 yards. As expected, the Giants’ offensive line, facing a Lions front seven that is one of the most ferocious in the NFL, was clearly overmatched, placing Manning, not the most mobile QB, under duress all night. He was sacked twice and knocked around a bunch of other times.
Not helping matters was a ground game that was, in theory, supposed to be significantly improved from their ranking of 29th in the league last season. It was worse, gaining only 53 yards on 22 carries. Meanwhile, a potentially strong defense was shredded by Lions QB Mathew Stafford and the great wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
The Giants host the Arizona Cardinals at MetLife Stadium Sunday at 1 p.m. The outcome will help clarify if the loss to the Lions was an anomaly or if it will become the norm.