It’s Week 11, the Giants are 2-8 and have an undrafted free agent rookie quarterback running the offense, and it appears Brian Daboll has lost the locker room.
The outlook isn’t pretty, but that doesn’t mean the Giants can’t salvage some wins. The Commanders provide a good opportunity for the Giants on Sunday considering they beat Washington, 14-7, earlier this season.
Here are six keys to victory entering the Week 11 game.
Offensive line must hold
The Giants lead the NFL in sacks allowed with 54. Daniel Jones took 30 sacks in six games, Tyrod Taylor was sacked 10 times in seven games and Tommy DeVito has been sacked 13 times in three games. Not all of those sacks fall to the offensive line — some have to do with decision-making by the quarterback.
Still, in order to give the offense the best shot at moving the ball down the field, the offensive line has to protect the quarterback. It’s been a problem all season and until it’s fixed, whoever the Giants have under center is at risk for injury.
Let Saquon go
Saquon Barkley missed three games due to injury earlier this season, but over the seven games he played in, he’s recorded 568 yards, an average of just over 81 yards per game. Aside from the two seasons he missed with injury, he’s on pace to have the second-lowest season totals in his career.
In the absence of a typical Barkley season, the Giants offense has been nearly non-existent. Sure, part of that is subpar quarterback play behind a Swiss cheese offensive line, but the lack of any kind of ground game hasn’t helped.
The Giants must incorporate Barkley on Sunday.
Improve game management
Less than a minute into last Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, the Giants encountered an odd situation. The referees thought the Giants called a timeout, but Daboll didn’t know who called the timeout, then it turned out the challenge flag was thrown on a play that was called correctly and the Giants were charged with a timeout anyway.
It was a bad look for the organization and is a culmination of poor decision-making all season. The way on-field personnel have been handled, when timeouts have been called, miscommunication in play calling, general clock management, and general management of the game is lacking. Daboll has to fix this if he wants to win.
Create turnovers and capitalize on them
The Giants have 16 fumble recoveries (five forced fumbles) and six interceptions this season. Meanwhile, they’ve given away nine interceptions and had 16 fumbles (four lost). This makes their turnover ratio -3, which isn’t the worst in the league but definitely ranks near the bottom.
It’s not just about not turning over the ball, though, it’s about creating turnovers. The more turnovers the Giants create, the better that ratio is and the more likely the Giants are to win a game.
There’s a third piece to this, too, which is the Giants have to capitalize on the turnovers they create. You can only win games if you score points, so it is imperative that any turnovers result in some kind of points.
Get pressure on Sam Howell
When the Giants and Commanders last faced each other, the Giants had 12 QB hits on Sam Howell and sacked him 6.5 times. This forced an interception, several passes defensed, and a fumble. The Giants won that game.
It’s not a coincidence that the Giants won a game where they were able to get to the quarterback and create some turnovers. If they do that again, the path to a win becomes easier.
Stick to what works
Kayvon Thibodeaux leads the team with 8.5 sacks this season. Saquon Barkley leads the team in rushing yards. There are things that work and don’t work on both sides of the ball.
On defense, this could mean utilizing Thibs or Dexter Lawrence in ways that maximize their abilities. The defense knows what its strengths are and has done a decent job showing them the last few weeks.
On offense, what works could mean getting the ball to Barkley. DeVito hasn’t had an opportunity to make a solid connection with a specific receiver, partly due to the lack of time spent together and partly due to the lack of passing plays completed.
Daboll and Mike Kafka need to call plays for various receivers to see who DeVito is going to connect with.
Every quarterback has a favorite receiver, but until they know who it is, the Giants have to stick with what works on both sides of the ball and quit trying to force plays that don’t suit the team on the field. And stop calling plays that limit what the offensive players have an opportunity to do.
The Commanders are very beatable and there’s really no reason the Giants can’t come away with their third win of the season. If they stick to the keys.