The New York Giants experienced a bevy of injuries in their third consecutive loss against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon. With Blake Martinez suffering a torn ACL which will keep them out for the remainder of the 2021 season, the offensive side also experienced a few injuries.
Receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton both suffered hamstring injuries, and with their statuses up in the air, the Giants may have to prepare for the New Orleans Saints with the expectation that both won’t be available.
However, there is still hope that Shepard can play next Sunday in New Orleans, the first game of the season after Hurricane Ida forced the Saints to play elsewhere.
I’m hearing Sterling Shepard has a chance to play this week. #Giants
— Ryan Dunleavy (@rydunleavy) September 27, 2021
Shepard was in the midst of a career season prior to the injury, tallying 223 yards and one score over three games. His averages were hurt significantly after leaving in the first half, but in his absence, reserve pass-catcher Collin Johnson stepped up to the plate. Johnson was targeted seven times, hauling in five catches for 51 yards.
Shepard being forced out will significantly alter the Giants’ offensive game plans moving forward, but it would indirectly give Kadarius Toney more action. Toney enjoyed 66% of offensive snaps after Shepard went down in the defeat, bringing in two receptions for 16 yards on three targets.
Getting more creative with Toney in the passing game is essential, as they can use him on screens, short and intermediate routes. Ultimately, scheming him into space and getting the ball in his hands is enough to pick up yardage and move the chains. However, relying on coordinator Jason Garrett to accomplish that is like trying to hit a bulls-eye with blindfolds on.
Oddly, Garrett refrained from using the read option and more RPOs against Atlanta, keeping Daniel Jones in the pocket. After the team scored 29 points against Washington using more creative playcalling, the former Dallas Cowboys head coach ripped that portion of his playbook out of the game plan.
It is quite mind-boggling that Garrett continues to change his playcalling on a weekly basis and make adjustments that simply aren’t benefiting the team. The Giants haven’t thrown a passing touchdown in the red zone since last season, which is completely unacceptable for a team that needs to curate more points and increase their offensive production.
The Giants’ offense is currently ranked 25th in the league in points per game and 15th in yards, once again showcasing a bottom of the barrel unit that is incapable of scoring regularly against bad defenses, notably the Atlanta Falcons, who had given up an average of 40 points per game and were without their top corner in Week 3.