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Giant Takeaways: Playoffs? Giants’ Dreams Turn to Dust at Hands of Titans

The New York Giants’ slim hopes for a playoff berth came to a screeching halt on Sunday, as they were shut out by the Tennessee Titans 17-0 at MetLife Stadium.

A rainy afternooon in the Meadowlands created a plodding performance from both teams. Yet, the Titans were able to put points on the board, while the Giants looked as though they were drowning on the field. Despite valiant defensive efforts, New York had little to no chance of winning and as a result, were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

Here are some takeaways from the Giants performance on Sunday:

Offensive Decline

The Giants looked liked a well-oiled machine last week against the Washington Redskins. Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, Russell Shepard, and Bennie Fowler all stepped up big time in the absence of Odell Beckham Jr.

This Sunday against the Titans, New York looked lost on offense. A huge credit goes to Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, who game-planned accordingly. Tennessee’s defense limited Saquon Barkley to just 31 yards on 14 carries in the game. As a result, Pat Shurmur had no choice but to throw the ball in the soggy weather.

Manning sturggled to get anything going against the Titans, as his throws were all over the place. He completed 21 of 44 pass attempts for 229 yards. Not to mention, the velocity of Manning’s throws were slow to reach his intended destination.

However, it was the costly turnovers Manning had in the third quarter that were real eye-openers. The first came on an interception, where Manning got over-aggressive in field goal range. Instead of a safe play call, Manning aimed for Russell Shepard, but the pass floated just long enough for safety Kevin Byard to pick off. The next came about four minutes later on a fumble, where Manning let go of the ball after being sacked by linebacker Kamalei Correa.

Many will point to the less than ideal weather, but you can’t deny that Tennessee was the better team and prepared properly. As for the Giants, it just goes to show that the offense is far from a fix. If Barkley can’t get anything going in the run game, the offense is doomed.

Giants Make Derrick Henry’s Highlight Reel

Well, one of the main keys for the Giants to earn the victory on Sunday was to prevent Titans running back Derrick Henry from taking over the landscape of the game.

New York couldn’t stop the heavyweight runner, as he had a repeat performance similar to that in Week 14 against the Tennessee Titans. Giants defenders were boucning off Henry, as they mistakenly tried to tackle him up high, and it proved to be ineffective. Henry proved to be the entire Titans offense, as he rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries.

Quarterback Marcus Mariota was essentially a non-factor in the game, as he completed just 12 passes for 88 yards throughout the entire game. However, the Giants’ pass rush pulled a disappearing act, as they sacked Mariota just once in the game, after posting five last week against the Redskins.

Just like the Giants learned to utilize Barkley as the bell cow of the offense, the Titans are doing the same with Henry, and they’re reaping the benefits as they make their final playoff push.

Quarterback Remains Huge Question Mark Heading Into Offseason

The performance of Eli Manning was touched upon earlier in this article. Yet, it came at the most ironic time possible.

On Sunday morning, a report surfaced from NFL insider Ian Rapoport, saying that the Giants were planning to keep Manning as their starter in 2019. Then prior to kickoff, rookie Kyle Lauletta was bounced back down to the third-string following his poor performance in garbage time agianst Washington. Once the game reached it’s conclusion, the questions have resurfaced stronger than ever for Dave Gettleman & Co.

Manning struggled with Beckham inactive and Barkley taken out of the equation. As for Lauletta, it appears the Giants have lost confidence in him, by sending him behind Alex Tanney on the depth chart, who Shurmur said gave the team a better chance to win if Manning were no longer in the game.

Now, with the playoff dreams disintegrated into dust, it is entirely possible that Pat Shurmur could give Lauletta a legitimate start in the next two weeks. However, he will likely be spending the coming months evaluating the succession plan for Manning, as this current set-up will not work in the future.

What’s Next?

The Giants will look to play spoiler next week as they face the Indianapolis Colts on the road. Andrew Luck has proven his doubters wrong, as he’s systematically picking apart defenses after returning from a rather serious shoulder injury. Not to mention, they have a pretty solid young team that is firing on all cylinders.

We will know more about the Giants’ plans for the Colts once the week progresses.

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