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The Giants’ prime time TV demons are haunting them now

If this seems like piling on, well, the truth sometimes hurts.

When it comes to the Giants and playing games for all the world to see, the truth often induces pain.

Yes, not much has gone right for this team in the first three games of the season. That they are 1-2 after those three games is not terrible, all things considered. The poor quality of their play could have dropped the Giants into the 0-3 pit, along with the Broncos, Vikings, Bears and Panthers. That is not the desired company.

If it feels as if the start to the 2023 season was disjointed, that is because it has been.

Playing at night, in prime time, on national television is not where the Giants do their best work — it is, in fact, where they do their worst work. Two of their first three games were evening affairs.

And, wouldn’t you know it, what comes next — a “Monday Night Football’’ meeting with the Seahawks at MetLife Stadium — is the exact spot where the Giants are bottom-of-the-barrel bad.

A refresher:

The Giants opened their season with a 40-0 loss to the Cowboys that dropped the Giants to 23-32-1 when playing on Sunday night. Before beating the Commanders last Dec. 18, the Giants had not won on “Sunday Night Football” since 2017.

In Week 3, they lost a Thursday night meeting with the 49ers in Santa Clara, 30-12. The Giants are now 3-8 in Thursday night games since 2012.

Week 4 is the third time in four games the Giants will be featured on national TV, a schedule quirk that shows how big of a draw the New York market is, how much of a draw the Giants are and how much expectation was built in 2022 that this is a team on the rise, worth watching.

The Giants have not been worth watching very often when they play on Monday night.  They are 25-46-1 all-time on that night of the week, proving Blue Monday is a real thing when it comes to this franchise.

The Giants go into the game with the Seahawks having lost seven consecutive “Monday Night Football’’ games and nine of their past 10. The last victory? Nov. 12, 2018, at San Francisco.

The Giants’ winning percentage of .347 on “Monday Night Football’’ is the worst of any team in the league, just behind the Falcons (.348). The franchise with the best record on “Monday Night Football’’? That happens to be the next team on the docket for the Giants: the Seahawks (.707). The Steelers (55) and 49ers (52) have the most wins on Monday night, but the Seahawks (29-12) have the top winning percentage.

Are you ready for some prime time football, featuring a team that is almost always not ready for prime time?

The Monday night failures have gone on for so long that the legacy of losing cannot be pinned on this Giants team. Brian Daboll is 0-1 as a head coach on Monday night after last season’s 23-16 loss to the Cowboys.

The only logical reasoning for the extended Monday night blahs is the Giants too often have been mediocre (or less than mediocre) and that the network usually seeks to put together attractive matchups for these national TV games. The Giants, in good times and bad, are always strong in the ratings, but they did not have the mega-appeal of the Cowboys or Patriots (with Tom Brady), so another contending team is often part of the Monday matchup when the Giants are scheduled.

If the Giants are not able to end their prime time and Monday night jinx this time around, they will have additional opportunities later this season. Their Week 6 game is a Sunday nighter in Buffalo and their Week 14 game, coming after their bye week, is another Monday night game, at home against the Packers.

These last two night games are subject to flex scheduling. How badly would the Giants have to sink for the league to flex the Giants out of a night game?

If all of this sounds terribly negative, it is. What other option is there when analyzing the Giants in prime time? The NFL gave them five prime time dates this season — four in the first six weeks. Not ideal.

Want to catch a game? The Giants schedule with links to buy tickets can be found here.

It’s nice to share

Two is better than one.

That is the philosophy Pete Carroll has with running backs.

The Seahawks, up next for the Giants, take a different approach to the position from the way the Giants are built.

In 2022, the Seahawks selected Kenneth Walker out of Michigan State in the second round of the NFL Draft. A year later, the Seahawks took Zach Charbonnet from Michigan in the second round.

Running backs in the second round in consecutive years?

“Over a long time, I’ve just found that sometimes one guy is on and the other guy isn’t, or vice versa,’’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “You don’t know who it’s going to be. If you mix your guys and you feel confident about rotating them some to keep them fresh and to keep them really on their game, sometimes you just see that things go one way or the other. I always thought it was a real positive, and it makes us a little more dynamic in that regard.”

In Sunday’s 37-27 victory over the Panthers, Walker had 18 rushing attempts for 97 yards and two touchdowns. Charbonnet had nine rushes for 46 yards. Walker is unquestionably the lead back, but, given his draft status, the rookie Charbonnet as a rookie is clearly in the picture for a 1-2 punch.

The Giants are a one-back offense, unless Saquon Barkley is not available. In that case, they are a no-back offense, judging from what went down last Thursday night in Santa Clara.

Barkley missed that game with a high right ankle sprain, and the Giants barely tried to run the ball — with a total of just eight rushing attempts for Matt Breida and Gary Brightwell.

This Giants front office regime, led by general manager Joe Schoen, inherited Barkley, and it is highly unlikely they would have made a running back the No. 2 overall pick in any draft, as the Giants did in 2018.

If Barkley is not on the team in 2024, it will be interesting to see how the Giants move forward with their running back position in what is increasingly becoming a share-the-ball league. Schoen previously was the assistant general manager for the Bills, who used a bevy of running backs, rather than one lead back.

Dynamic duo

The best franchises have a tag team calling the shots and running the show.

Do the Giants have that with Schoen and Daboll?

They would like to think so. One year into the regime, the grades were high. The new braintrust was completely in lockstep as the Giants exceeded expectations in 2022, producing a record of 9-7-1 and the first playoff victory since 2011.

The start to Year 2 has been rocky, but anyone thinking clearly understands the process is ongoing and improvement rarely comes without some regression along the way.

The Giants are not there yet. They were schooled on both sides of the ball the last time they took the field, getting beat by 18 points at Levi’s Stadium. The 49ers are a legitimate NFC power and Super Bowl contender, and showed the Giants where they need to get to if they want to be a contender.

The day after the 49ers took care of business against the Giants, the 49ers took care of their leadership duo, announcing multi-year contact extensions for general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan.

They arrived in the Bay Area in 2017 with a plan, and it did not take them long to turn a loser into a winner. They have guided the organization to the postseason three times, including two NFC West titles, advancing to the NFC Championship each time. They made it to Super Bowl LIV following the 2019 season and were back in the NFC title game the past two years. Since 2019, the 49ers’ 45 wins are tied for the fourth-most in the NFL and are the second-most in the NFC.

Can the Giants hope to match this success? Three or four years down the road, will Schoen and Daboll be in line for contract extensions based on the performance and consistency of their team?

Asked and answered

Here are two questions that have come up recently that we will attempt to answer as accurately as possible:

After what felt like a breakout game in Arizona, why was Jalin Hyatt used so sparingly against the 49ers?

The coaching staff did not forget about Hyatt. He was not a big part of the game plan by design. The belief was the offense could not commit to putting three and four wide receivers on the field too often because extra blocking help was needed up front to deal with defensive end Nick Bosa. That is why Hyatt was out there for just 16 snaps.

Daniel Jones threw 32 passes, and Hyatt was not targeted even once. That was not by design. Again, the Giants were not able to control the line of scrimmage and thus Jones did not have the time he needed in the pocket to find Hyatt on intermediate or deeper routes. Hyatt will get his opportunities — as long as there is confidence that Jones can be protected.

With the Giants having 11 days between games, should we expect any major changes for the Week 4 game against the Seahawks?

This is the longest stretch between games for the Giants until their bye, which does not arrive until Week 13, and you can be sure the coaching staff pored over as much tape as possible, hoping to find clues to solve the problems on offense and defense.  Wholesale changes are not forthcoming, but there definitely could be tweaks to the game plans, and possibly the lineup, though the Giants are more limited there, as the best players, by and large, are already starting.

Perhaps newcomer Isaiah Simmons is incorporated more extensively, given the added time he’s had to learn the defensive scheme. Maybe Adoree’ Jackson gets more snaps at a boundary cornerback spot and less time working in the slot. You have to expect Wan’Dale Robinson, with one game under his belt coming off knee surgery, will be a bigger part of the passing game. The Giants will not look altogether different the next time they take the field, but there will be alterations, to be sure.