By TOM CANAVAN
The Associated Press
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants are off to another slow start and changes may be coming.
For the sixth time in seven years, the Giants are 0-2. They will be heading to Florida this weekend to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) and they are already a 6 1/2 point underdog.
The longer the losing continues, the more likely coach Pat Shurmur is going to replace 38-year-old Giants hero Eli Manning at quarterback with No. 6 overall draft pick Daniel Jones. Shurmur sparked speculation the change might happen this weekend when he refused to commit to Manning as his starter Monday.
Manning knows Jones is the future of the team, but he won’t speculate on what his emotions might be if he is replaced. His focus is on being ready this week.
“Obviously, we wish we would win a game,” Manning said. “We feel like we work hard and we are prepared, we do a lot of good things, just not quite playing well enough as a group to score enough points offensively.”
The Giants are not playing well enough to win.
The offense has scored 31 points. The defense has allowed 63 and given up an average of 441 yards. Even Pro Bowl placekicker Aldrick Rosas missed a field goal attempt Sunday after making 32 of 33 last season.
“When you lose, nobody likes to lose, everybody should be angry that we are losing,” linebacker Alec Ogletree said. “We have an opportunity to continue to work and write our own story. Everybody is pretty much going to write us off after 0-2. We know what we need to do in this locker room, we have to get the job done and it’s up to us to do that.”
— WHAT’S WORKING: Opening drives for the offense. The Giants have looked like the best offense in the NFL starting a game. They had a nine-play, 91-yard drive against the Cowboys that tight end Evan Engram capped with a 1-yard TD catch. Saquon Barkley ran 27 yards for a TD against the Bills, capping a five-play, 75-yard drive entirely on the ground.
— WHAT NEEDS HELP: If you ask cornerback cornerback Janoris Jenkins, it’s the front seven. New York had three sacks against Buffalo after being blanked by Dallas. However, Jenkins complained after the game there were too many times when Josh Allen had way too much time to throw, and nobody can cover a receiver for 10 seconds. He and Shurmur talked about the comments Monday. The coach was not thrilled.
— STOCK UP: Recently signed receiver TJ Jones had a big game in two areas. He had three punt returns for 75 yards, including a 60-yarder late in the first half. He also caught three passes for 38 yards and a touchdown.
— STOCK DOWN: Linebacker Tae Davis and cornerback Antonio Hamilton. Both spent the majority of the offseason and preseason working with the top units. Both started the opener against Dallas. Neither got a play on defense in the loss to Buffalo. Rookie DeAndre Baker started at cornerback and rookie Ryan Connolly played inside linebacker.
— INJURED: Sterling Shepard missed Sunday’s game with a concussion. He is improving. Fellow receiver Cody Latimer was knocked out of the Bills game with a concussion. Guard Kevin Zeitler has been bothered by a shoulder injury. LB Markus Golden, who had a sack, has soreness after being hit in the throat.
— KEY NUMBER: 3 — It’s the third-down statistics. The Giants are 5 of 23 on offense, a paltry 21.7%. Opponents have converted 11 of 23 against the defense, or 47.8%. What makes the defensive number so bad is every conversion has been at least 4 yards and six have gained 6 yards or more.
— NEXT STEPS: The big question will be the quarterback. After spending five months saying Manning was his guy and Jones is getting ready to play, it would seem a little early for Shurmur to pull the plug on Manning. Maybe he is just trying to give the Bucs something extra to consider this weekend. Overall, the Giants have not played well, and it’s not just Manning.