Beckham’s return fails to spark Giants' struggling offense

Eli Manning gets sacked by the Detroit Lions' defence After only scoring three points in a Week 1 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants could point to injured star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. as the reason for their anemic offense. Now they have no excuse. Beckham made his season debut on Monday, but his return from an ankle injury wasn’t nearly enough to lift New York out of its scoring funk, which now bridges multiple years.

The Giants began to struggle on offense near the end of 2016, when they eked out three wins in their final five regular-season games on the strength of their defense. They only scored 13 points in a blowout loss to the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs, and now have 13 total points after losing to the Cowboys and the Detroit Lions to open this season. Instead of having one weak point that opposing defenses are consistently exposing, the Giants are struggling on all fronts, from playcalling to execution to discipline.

One sequence in Monday’s 24-10 loss to the Lions perfectly illustrated New York’s extraordinary inability to capitalize on its opportunities. Trailing by 10 points in the third quarter, Eli Manning drove the Giants from their own 25-yard line all the way to a 1st and goal on the Lions’ 1-yard line, but a holding penalty knocked them back 10 yards. They spent three downs to gain 9 of those yards back only for Manning to take a delay of game penalty on 4th down while attempting to go for a touchdown, and they had to settle for a field goal.

Head coach Ben McAdoo called Manning’s delay of game penalty “sloppy quarterback play” but New York’s sloppy play on offense extends far beyond the quarterback. Brandon Marshall caught just one of the five passes thrown his way Monday after catching just one of four against Dallas. Offensive tackle Ereck Flowers spent Monday getting manhandled by Detroit’s pass rushers and was a big reason the Lions sacked Manning five times for 31 yards. And New York’s running game has been practically nonexistent.

Even Beckham looked out of sorts in his return, with four receptions for 36 yards. He dropped a catchable ball on the Giants’ final play on offense, and his injured ankle appeared to be hampering his ability to find space in coverage. He should be more healed—and more explosive—in New York’s next game, which is looking like an early must-win divisional contest on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles. A completely healthy Beckham would provide a boost to any offense, but he only fixes one of the many serious problems the Giants are facing if they want to salvage their 2017 campaign.