By Jeff Moeller, the new York Extra/ thenyextra.com
The Giants weren’t on cue in their prime time Sunday night.
They were missing corner James Bradberry and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, but there was more than that.
It became obvious that it would be an askew night when the Giants tried a fake field goal play on their first visit to the red zone.
It began to unravel a series of questions all night long in their dysfunctional 20-6 loss to Cleveland at MetLife.
You do have to admire head coach Joe Judge’s aggressiveness and ingenuity missing a rods from the engine, but this is a team that needed to put points on the board early.
Graham Gano has been nearly perfect all season, and this was a chip shot.
Take the 3-0 lead. They need to post some points after Arizona totally grounded and held their offense to three points last week.
They would have another one and fall short on a Wayne Gallman handoff on a fourth-and-two. Another likely Gano chipshot.
The Giants are ranked 31st in red-zone offense this season. Take the points. It could have been 13-9 at halftime instead of 13-3.
The Giants (5-9) looked more derailed from their NFC East title tussle, while the Browns (10-4) didn’t miss a trestle.
Starting backup quarterback Colt McCoy was the right choice, but the 11-year vet didn’t have enough of his passes, most of them early weren’t in sync with his receivers.
Wayne Gallman and Albert Morris compensated the passing game with strong first-half efforts on the ground, but interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens abandoned the running game throughout the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth.
That left McCoy the task of playing catch-up the second half against a secondary that had Giants’ receivers blanketed.
The real disappointment was the Giants’ defense. This was supposed to be a performance with pressure from the D-line and swarming play from the linebackers, led by potential Pro Bowlers Leonard Williams (8.5 sacks) and linebacker Blake Martinez (sixth in league tackles with 128 stops)
Neither really materialized. The Browns won the game with their long, methodical drives that needed to be shortened.
Browns’ quarterback Baker Mayfield had the luxury of plenty of time to pick apart the Giants’ secondary as he was sacked once on his way to a 27-for-32, 297-yard, two touchdown showing.
This wasn’t a total breakdown of the defense, as they held the recent explosive running tandem of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to a combined 71 yards.
This was about the offense and about the team not having the energy and passion they had during their four-game winning streak.
McCoy took the blame, but it wasn’t his fault.
Over the past two weeks, both Arizona and Cleveland’s defense had the Giants’ number. The once effective pass-run, run-pass options have stalled.
The defense will regain its luster.
Whether it is McCoy or Daniel Jones, the Giants’ offense needs a reset in their final two games.
Whether it means a playoff berth or not, the Giants need to regain their once proud stature they had earlier this season.