The Giants have designs on being Super Bowl contenders. From the front office to the players, the collective sentiment is they have the necessities to be as good as any team in the NFL. Perhaps they will ultimately coalesce during the regular season and become a formidable challenger for the Vince Lombardi Trophy, awarded to the league champion.
However, as of now, two games into the preseason, the Giants’ offense does not look like a unit equipped to ensure the team will achieve effective equilibrium. Whereas the defense, ranked 10th overall last season and arguably one of the top five when the playoffs began, appears ready to be one of the best again, the Giants’ offense is laboring less than three weeks before their opening regular season game against the Dallas Cowboys Sept. 10.
Facing the Cleveland Browns, who were 1-15 last season, the Giants failed to score a touchdown in a 10-6 defeat, falling to 0-2 with two preseason games remaining. They will meet the Jets this Saturday (7 p.m.) at MetLife Stadium before concluding their schedule next Thursday against the New England Patriots on the road.
To add injury to insult, star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. sustained an ankle injury after a violent hit delivered by Browns cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun in the second quarter. Some of Beckham’s Giants teammates felt the hit was excessive for a preseason game and even dirty, but Beckham didn’t publicly echo their sentiments.
“I don’t know, it’s just football I guess, preseason,” he said. “I’m not really the judge. It’s just football in my opinion.” The level of physicality of both the Browns and Giants defenses was transparently commensurate with a regular season matchup.
But the intensity of play had little to do with the Giants’ stalled offense. “We’ve got to do better,” said quarterback Eli Manning afterward. “We got to throw and catch the ball better, and convert on third downs. We made some plays, did some good things, just did not connect on a few plays that would have been helpful.”
“It’s preseason,” said Giants offensive lineman Justin Pugh. “What can I say? It’s the preseason, but I expect us to be a whole lot better than we were.”
The dress rehearsals are almost over. There’s not much time to correct the problems before Game 1 in Dallas.