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Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants film preview: Taking advantage of what’s given

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The Giants are struggling mightily. It’s as good a time as any to get road win.

Seattle Seahawks vs New York Giants Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

The New York Giants cannot catch a break. The team had barely begun preparations for playing the Los Angeles Rams when they announced one of their best defenders, CB Janoris Jenkins, was suspended indefinitely for violating team rules.

Basically, Jenkins didn’t show up at the team facility Monday. But unlike others who were also late or missed Monday, Jenkins never kept in contact with head coach Ben McAdoo.

One less worry for the Rams to worry about when they play in New York on Sunday.

But this is just another week of Giants football. They are 1-6. They have 14 players on Injured Reserve, most notably WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall. QB Eli Manning is their quarterback, a fact that surpassed being worth the risk.

The difference between the 2016 and 2017 New York Giants? To be honest, there isn’t much. The two offenses are below-average. The only difference is that defenses are stopping the Giants more. The 2016 Giants, one that finished the season 11-5 and made the playoffs, put an average of around 19 points-per-game. This year’s unit scores around 16.

It ends up front

As mentioned before, the offensive line is bad. Both sides of the center commit the same mistakes and often times mirror each other’s inability to drive a defensive lineman back or out of the way.

On this play, the Seattle Seahawks have a defensive tackle over the center, a defensive end between the left tackle and left guard, and two linebackers. With the center occupied, it becomes 3-on-2, and the Giants linemen have to pick their poison.

The Rams could easily overpower the Giants o-line. But the most powerful weapon is the one you never have to use. Instead, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips only needs to line up his men in the right spot to create mismatches and confusion, making things a little easier for the pass-rush on Sunday.

The special plays, like screens and double-handoff-sweeps, never works against the Seahawks. It wasn’t because the Seahawks are overly talented (they’re pretty good), but because the Giants line, to put it bluntly, sucks. They’re awful.

During a sweep play, the left guard could be clocked with a sun dial on his pull to block Michael Bennett, who was barely touched. It resulted in an 8-yard loss.

On this screen that ended in negative yards, the miscues could be blamed on everyone. But it starts with the right guard, who blocked the defender for too long. The center lets him pass on a touch, but the center never gets out in front until he sees the guard go. HB Shane Vareen stops behind the guard and decides to turn for the ball. Manning isn’t phased that the defenders are simultaneously in the backfield and in the middle of their play.

Manning

Like the offense in general, Manning himself hasn’t changed all that much. He’s just getting stopped left-and-right, all while making the same mistakes he normally makes, as we saw in one example above.

But he’s been in the league for more than a decade, but he’s making mistakes typical of a young quarterback. For instance, Manning still cuts off his own vision to focus on one side of the field or one receiver in particular.

On this play, Manning has a receiver in the slot who fights off his man on a comeback route. But Manning’s back is turned to that side of the field the entire play. He had a clean enough pocket with time, but instead, he focuses on the right side of the field and chooses to throw deep, on the run, to the Z-receiver who CB Richard Sherman is covering.

Manning has 10 touchdowns and five interceptions through seven games. His relatively low number of interceptions isn’t solely due to him pick-and-choosing the passes well. It’s that, so far, he’s able to thread the needle and get lucky.

This lone touchdown play should have been an incomplete. The Seahawks defender narrowly misses the ball. But Manning made the throw, one that he had to make because there were no other receivers.

Taking advantage of New York

The Rams are red-hot, but the remaining schedule will be a tough stretch, especially with consecutive weeks on the road. They will need to take advantage of every team’s struggle, beginning with New York.

This Sunday, the Rams pass-defense can take advantage of Manning’s situation. His best receivers are both sidelined, and the remaining of the trio, WR Sterling Shepard isn’t a guarantee to go on Sunday. Manning is forced to rely on rookie TE Evan Engram and depth receivers.

The Rams’ defense will have the fortune of not having to focus on Beckham Jr., which could free up defenders for the blitz.

There’s nowhere for the Giants to go but through the air. The running game has been horrible the entire season. Their running back committee has two games where they rushed for more than 100 yards, thanks in part to their offensive line.