- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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KANSAS CITY -- The postgame question was not a plant, but it was one for which New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin sure was ready with a multi-layered answer: Where has the offense gone? What do you see as the problem?
"There's no continuity, no rhythm," Coughlin said, following the 31-7 loss to the Chiefs that dropped his Giants to 0-4 for the season. "We don't make any first downs. Playcalling is like throwing a dart at a board. There's no real feel in terms of the ball being moved continuously down the field."
Coughlin isn't going to single out one position group, especially one as injury-ravaged, inexperienced and overmatched as his offensive line is right now. But the issues for the Giants' offense all start there, because the line play doesn't allow anyone to operate comfortably. Coughlin wasn't calling out offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride with the dart-at-a-board comment. He was expressing his (and, surely, Gilbride's) frustration that the state of affairs doesn't allow the playcalling to get into a rhythm.
"No, I'm not saying it's bad playcalling," Coughlin said when asked to explain. "What I'm saying is, when you make first downs and get into a rhythm, it's a lot easier than it is when you always have third down. Let's face it: We're not doing much with third downs. When you don't do that, your first downs are minimal and you've got issues with establishing any kind of drives."
The Giants made 11 first downs Sunday, to the Chiefs' 21. For the season, they have made 70 first downs, which puts them in the bottom third of the league. (Based on the fact that they were tied for 17th entering the game and posted a below-average number). They were 1-for-14 on third down Sunday and are just 11-for-48 (22.9 percent) on third down for the year -- one of the absolute worst figures in the league, if not the worst, pending other Sunday outcomes.
"On first and second downs, our production is bad," quarterback Eli Manning said. "We're going backwards. (Sunday) we lost yards on a pass on the first play. The next play we throw it away and we have third-and-11 right out of the game. So, if you're living in that world... you can convert some, but that's a world you don't want to live in."
It is the Giants' current world, as is their 0-4 record. But what's most alarming, as you assess the long-shot chances for a comeback in a division whose lead is only 2-2, is that they're really not in their games. I mean, they're in their games at halftime, but in the second halves, when real NFL teams make adjustments and put games away, they've been outscored 73-14 in their last three games. They and their opponents spend the first half feeling each other out, then the opponent goes into the locker room and says, "OK, well, they can't do anything, so here's how we win by 25." The Giants are barely even participants in the second halves of their games.
"We've still got the same guys who can still make plays," wide receiver Hakeem Nicks said. "We believe we can fix this."
Maybe they can. But there's a heck of a lot to fix.