EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Saquon Barkley poured out his heart discussing the New York Giants' second straight 0-3 start and his feelings about the team.
For the record, Barkley believes this team is special, despite the winless mark. The offense has more talent than a year ago. Quarterback Daniel Jones is playing his best ball since being drafted in 2019. The defense has shown it can be very good, even though it gave up late winning drives the past two games.
As far as Barkley and many of his teammates are concerned, the ingredients are there for winning football. The problem is Joe Judge's team hasn't clicked yet.
Blowing a seven-point fourth-quarter lead and dropping a 17-14 decision to the previously winless Atlanta Falcons on a last-playfield goal on Sunday was the latest disappointment. It came 10 days after New York was beaten 30-29 by Washington on another last-play kick.
Those were two winnable games. The Giants were not competitive in losing to Denver in the season opener, but they certainly could be 2-1.
Reality check: The so-called easy part of their schedule is over. It just gets tougher.
Over the next five weeks the Giants will play the Saints (2-1) in New Orleans and then take a road trip to Dallas. That will be followed by home games against the Rams and Panthers, both 3-0. Finally, there is a Monday night game in Kansas City against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs (1-2).
Finishing the first half of the season without a win is a possibility.
"I don't think we're a bad team, to be honest," Barkley told reporters. " I know you guys are going to say what you're going to say and write what you want to write, but that's the NFL. There are no bad teams in the NFL."
Barkley said everyone on the Giants is sick of losing.
"We just have to figure it out, and that's the difference," he said
Jones. The third-year quarterback is starting to prove he was worth the sixth pick overall in the '19 draft. He is 68 of 104 for 782 yards and two TDs. He also has 23 carries for a team-high 161 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a 2-point conversion Sunday. He is making the offense go.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Evan Engram. The tight end has talent but can't get out of his own way. He worked hard to come back from a calf injury and play for the first time. However, he lost a fumble late in the first half, and was fooled and missed a tipped pass in the third quarter. Fans cheered when he left the field. Not what he needs in a contract year.
The defense. After giving up an average of 28.5 points in the first two games, the defense looked like last year's unit. The problem was the Falcons scored on their final two series. It was the second straight week Pat Graham's unit gave up a winning score.
The offensive line. After picking up their game against Washington, the O-Line took a step back. Jones was sacked on the opening series in the red zone, forcing New York to settle for the first of two Graham Gano field goals. An illegal lineman downfield wiped out a 20-yard pass to Barkley to the Falcons 36. A sack on a second-and-10 from their 49 on the Giants' final series forced them to give the Falcons a chance for the winning drive.
Inside linebacker and leading tackler Blake Martinez tore an ACL on the first possession and is out for the season, the team said Monday. Wide receivers Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard also left in the first half with hamstring injuries. Their status for this weekend was not updated but it seems unlikely they would play. Compounding things, receiver Kenny Golladay played this past week with a hip injury.
3 — the number of potential interceptions the Giants dropped. Logan Ryan dropped the first two. Adoree Jackson dropped the big one in the end zone with 5:07 left when a pressured Matt Ryan overthrow Kyle Pitts. The Falcons tied the game at 14 less than a minute later and went on to win.
Winning this weekend in the Big Easy is going to be real hard. The Saints will be playing their first home game. Hurricane Ida forced them to relocate until this week. They and their fans are going to be pumped.