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Eli Manning, Evan Engram among Giants that need a better second half

Things certainly are not going as intended for this Giants team that currently sits at a lowly 1-7 in their bye week. And as they sit on Sunday to reflect, there are some that need to step it up if they don’t want to continue this trend in the second half. 

Of course, that could be said for the entire team. The Giants rank 27th in scoring (18.8 points per game), and they convert only 40 percent of their red zone trips into touchdowns, which is second-to-last in that category. For the defense, they sit 18th in yards allowed per game (366.4), while allowing 25.6 points per game as well. 

But there are certain Giants that should be performing better that simply haven’t hit the mark. And to change the tides in East Rutherford, the Giants need them to have a better second half…

Eli Manning

When you look on paper, Manning is actually one of the best quarterbacks in the league when it comes to yards and completion percentage. He already has 2,377 yards on a 68.3 completion rate over his eight starts.

However, in this case, the numbers lie. Manning has been checking down a lot this season, and he can thank his playmakers like Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. for picking up those yards. Recently, he has been taking more shots downfield (he can thank Beckham again for making those tough catches), but it has mainly been dump offs and quick throws that generate his high completion percentage.

But his worst quality in the first half was not converting in the red zone. Obviously, this is a team effort. But there have been too many times that Manning has been indecisive or flat out missed an open man to get the six points. That is why he only has eight touchdowns compared to six interceptions. 

The Giants will likely stick with him after the bye week after Kyle Lauletta’s arrest. So, it will be up to Manning to lead the Giants into the end zone much more than they have. 

Evan Engram

His rookie season was tremendous. He stepped up when the Giants receiving corps was depleted, and his chemistry with Manning looked to be spot-on to kick off his career. 

But Engram’s sophomore campaign hasn’t started the way he — and the Giants — would have hoped. After suffering an MCL sprain in Week 3 against the Texans, Engram has been slow to make an impact since his return in Week 7. He caught only two receptions on four targets for 16 yards in Atlanta, and he had a brutal game that included a few drops last week against the Redskins. 

Overall, Engram has totaled 17 receptions on 26 targets for 145 yards and two touchdowns. 

The Giants drafted Engram to be the receiving threat he was last season, and if he can’t produce as that player, he isn’t the best blocking tight end out there. Whether it’s Manning not seeing Engram open or the Ole Miss product isn’t getting open in the first place, No. 88 has to get back to being that versatile tight end/receiver who can rip up opposing defense. He simply hasn’t been that guy in 2018. 

Nate Solder

After missing out on Andrew Norwell, GM Dave Gettleman made an offer Solder couldn’t refuse to become Manning’s new left tackle. The only problem is he hasn’t been the brick wall his $62 million dollar deal deemed him to be. 

Every offensive lineman on the Giants should be held accountable for their poor performance once again this season, but because of Solder’s big deal, even more blame is thrown his way. Over eight games, Solder has allowed six sacks on Manning and has been docked with two holding calls. 

As a comparison, Solder allowed a total of three sacks all of last season with Tom Brady under center for the Patriots. He hasn’t been living up to his deal thus far, and that isn’t something he wants on his back moving forward. A much-better second half could change that. 

Olivier Vernon

Vernon gets some slack here considering he was out to start the season with a nagging ankle injury. He returned in Week 6 on Thursday Night Football against the Eagles and was a problem for Carson Wentz, collecting a sack and two quarterback hits while making him feel uncomfortable all night. 

But he hasn’t recorded a sack since, though he did have three quarterback hits last week against Washington. Vernon, who is in his third year of a massive contract as well, hasn’t had that double-digit sack year the Giants hoped when inking the deal. He had 8.5 sacks in his first year in 2016, and 6.5 sacks last season.

The Giants are almost dead last in the league with only 10 sacks on the season, and with the rest of the defensive line failing to reach the quarterback, there will be tons of pressure on the veteran edge rusher to change that statistic in the second half. 

Pat Shurmur

Shurmur can’t make the plays on the field, but he must be held accountable for the ones he’s calling on the sideline. His offensive scheme was supposed to change from Ben McAdoo’s generic offense, and while they have with trick plays and different personnel looks, the results just don’t show it. 

There have been too many times the Giants are close to the goal line, but have ran play-action or shotgun sets that are not needed when your No. 2 overall pick in Barkley is sitting in the backfield. And then there is the questionable calls like going for two in Atlanta when the Giants are struggling just to reach the end zone in the first place. 

Shurmur deserves blame with the rest of the Giants because, at the end of the day, the head coach’s decisions weigh heavy on how a team performs. And on top of that, he also needs to find a way to boost the team’s morale after this first-half start that reads another lost season all over it. 

Shurmur has his hands full in the second half, and he needs his team to perform better to reassure the Giants he was the right man to lead their team moving forward. Some better play-calling will help that cause. 

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