The New York Giants Need to Learn How to Be a Playoff Contender

The New York Giants learned a hard lesson in consecutive losses to the Arizona Cardinals and Cleveland Browns. They discovered the distance between being an also-ran to a playoff contender is a lot further than they thought.

In December, proven NFL playoff contenders are running on all cylinders. That means each phase of the game are complimenting one another and allowing the team to play to their full potential.

For the Giants, the defense has been up to the task, but the offense and special teams failed horribly in comparison. The inconsistent play and mental gaffes have limited their path of capturing the NFC East division title.

The New York Giants Must Learn How to Be a Playoff Contender

Offense Non-Existent in December

The Giants offense has been non-existent in December with no sense of aggression towards attacking the opposing defense. Yes, the unit has played shorthanded as their leader, Daniel Jones, has been sidelined with various leg injuries. Still, the Giants playmakers have to step up with their play in his absence. Instead, we have seen dropped passes, missed blocks, and a total lack of execution by the unit.

Even on their best day, the Giants offense must play error-free football to win a contest. Their formula for success is limiting the number of offensive possessions by the opposition. That means having a ball-control attack that grinds the football downfield. Hopefully, the results are some points on the scoreboard.

In their four-game winning streak, the Giants offense was very opportunistic in scoring after gaining ideal field position following a turnover caused by the defense. But the last two weeks have been very frustrating to watch, especially not being able to finish long, extended drives. The offense has scored one touchdown in the last eight quarters, which is unacceptable if you’re trying to capture a division title.

The Giants offense doesn’t have the personnel to overcome a two-score deficit. The passing game isn’t built to score quickly, which has been a problem for too long.

 

Special Teams Slumping at Wrong Time

The Giants special teams have been a strength all season, but over the last three weeks, we have witnessed the unit crumbling right before our eyes. It has been difficult to watch. There is no excuse for the coverage breakdowns (103-yard kickoff return by the Cincinnati Bengals and numerous big punt returns) and lack of execution (key kickoff return fumble by Dion Lewis) by their own specialists.

The Giants need to get back to basics over the next three weeks. That means doing a better job of spacing and staying in your lane coming downfield. Return specialists have to protect the football better because turnovers are devastating game momentum changers at this time of the season.

Giants Must Learn How to Be a Playoff Contender

The Giants aren’t as bad as their performance against the Cardinals, but they aren’t as good as their signature road win over the Seattle Seahawks either. Unfortunately, this young roster needs to learn how to walk before they can run as a playoff contender. It has been a baptism by fire for them this season.

Playing in New York doesn’t allow the luxury for young players to learn on the job. If fans were allowed in MetLife Stadium, you would have heard their displeasure at the disappointing performance by the Giants. A deafening chorus of boos would have served notice to all.

Giants are dangerously close to falling into that trap of being labeled “a perennially losing franchise.” Their brand has taken a significant hit by the poor play over the last three seasons. It’s a moniker that is hard to shake off, especially in New York. Just ask the Knicks, the Mets, and the Jets. Each cannot get out their own way with questionable coaching hires and player trades. The writers, the radio talk show hosts, and the fans love to scrutinize their every move ad nauseam. The skeptics won’t be satisfied until a championship trophy is hoisted over their heads.

It has been fun playing meaningful December games as the Giants are relevant in the NFL once again. But the young players cannot fall back and revert to poor playing habits as they must move their progression forward. Yes, the roster is inexperienced, but the talent level is far better than a year ago.

A divisional title may be out of their reach, but the players cannot use this as an excuse for not finishing the season strong. Together, they must put themselves in a better position to win games.

It is time to learn from your mistakes and execute better on the field. Yes, the rewards have been hard to define of late. But that shouldn’t diminish your goal of becoming a playoff contender.

The Giants must re-gain their confidence and grow together as a team.

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