- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants aren't buying into the sky-is-falling narrative about how lousy their new offense has looked in the preseason.
They insist it looks better in practice than it has in the games, and they believe it will be in fine shape once they take the field for their regular-season opener three weeks from now in Detroit.
However, they do share the popular opinion that it's about time to see some proof.
"I think there is a little sense of urgency on the inside that we just want to go out and apply what we're learning," Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz said before Monday's practice. "We do some great things on the practice field, and now we just have to translate that over into the games. We can't be doing things faster because it's game speed or feel like we're rushing things. We just have to settle in and play the way we play when we're on the practice field."
The Giants scored 27 points in the fourth quarter Saturday night in Indianapolis to improve to 3-0 in the preseason. But quarterback Eli Manning and the first-team offense have struggled when they have been in the game.
Manning is averaging 3.06 yards per pass attempt this preseason and is 7-for-16 for 49 yards in his three appearances.
The Giants are installing a new offense this year under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, so it would be easy to chalk up the struggles to a learning curve. But the third-team offense with Ryan Nassib playing quarterback was able to execute its plays Saturday, which leaves open the question of why Manning and the first-teamers have not.
"We know that first group, we've got to get better," Manning said. "We've got to perform and start doing our jobs. It's not the system; it's just the execution. There are opportunities there. We've got to make some plays, and we've got to do some other things to give us the opportunity to make some more plays."
Coach Tom Coughlin indicated Sunday that, if he didn't see a better performance from the first-team offense in Friday's preseason game against the New York Jets, he might play his starters in the preseason finale next week against the New England Patriots. That would be unusual, since veterans usually get to take that final preseason game off. But the fact that it has been raised speaks to how poorly the offense has performed so far.
Manning said he's not worried about what comes next week.
"I feel good about what we're understanding in the offense," Manning said. "I think now it's just a matter of kind of taking that next step and knowing, 'Here's the play call. How do you get the better plays? How do you get the better concepts based on what the defense is doing?' So just playing the game faster and thinking everything through.
"I know how things are going in practice and what we're capable of doing. We've got improvements to make, but we've got a little more time and we're going to keep working. I've seen progress over these weeks in practice, and some of these concepts we're getting better at. We're getting a better feel for things."
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7hDan Graziano and Adam Caplan