The NFL season officially kicked off with Week 1 this past Sunday and for many New York Giant fans, well, I’m sorry the Giants are still a major disappointment. The G-Men almost fooled us into thinking they were much improved with a 4-0 preseason and their first drive on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. New York’s opening series saw Eli Manning and the Giants offense go 91 yards on seven plays and every Giants fan thought ‘well maybe we will hold our own.’
It quickly became apparent that any momentum the Giants had after their first score, it disappeared without a trace. Dak Prescott came out with the Dallas offense after their first drive stalled, and went on to score 21 unanswered points going into halftime. The Cowboys never looked back and easily cruised to a 35-17 victory over a Giants team that has a lot of questions that need to be answered.
Firstly, Saquon Barkley finished with 120 yards on 11 rushes and four passes for 19 yards. Barkley is arguably the best running back in the league and without a doubt the best player on the Giants, yet he only touched the ball 15 times. For as high of a caliber player Barkley is, there is absolutely no excuse as to why he only touched the ball 15 times.
The most questionable sequence which featured the absence of Barkley came in the third quarter when the Giants were deep in Cowboys territory on a third and two. Instead of Barkley in the back field, head coach Pat Shurmur placed Eli Penny back there and it failed miserably. Penny was handed the ball and only gained one yard putting the Giants in a fourth and one situation.
The New York offense had one more chance to redeem themselves as Shurmur decided to go for it on fourth down but decided not to use Barkley’s talent once again. Instead the Giants went with a play that called for one of the most unmobile quarterbacks in the league in Eli Manning to roll out and find someone in the endzone. On the play, Manning showed why he is a pocket passer as he ended up fumbling thus giving the ball back to Dallas.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist in both of those situations to understand that Saquon Barkley needed to be used to try and convert and keep the ball deep in Cowboy’s territory.
The misuse of Barkley was certainly mind boggling but what was even more atrocious was the play of the Giants defense. Let’s tell it how it is here; the Giants defense was putrid. New York took the field for the first time without Landon Collins and Olivier Vernon and the inexperience of the Giants defense showed.
New York made Dak Prescott look like Joe Montana as the Dallas QB tore apart the Giants secondary. The G-Men defense gave up touchdowns on five consecutive series on drives of 75, 93, 83, 75, and 89 yards which is inexcusable.
What also stood out from Sunday’s brutal loss was the absence of a pass rush. Prescott was rarely touched by the Giants D-Line allowing him to have all day to throw the football. Rookie defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence from Clemson had little impact just recording an assisted tackle. If New York can’t get to the quarterback the secondary is going to suffer.
Granted, the Giants secondary is young, but most of them could not keep up with the veteran receivers of the Cowboys. Rookie DeAndre Baker got smoked on two touchdowns as he and Antonio Hamilton split time on Sunday. The NY secondary is a serious issue and with playing teams such as the Patriots and Packers this year, the Giants better figure it out quick if they want a chance.
If there was a positive to pull out of the Giants defense on Sunday it would be their ability to contain the rushing game for Dallas. With Ezekiel Elliot coming off a major holdout and signing a massive new contract extension, many expected Elliot to go off. However, the Giants defense held the rush to 89 yards and did not give up a run for more than 10 yards.
If you’re a Giants fan it’s important to remember that it’s only week one, but it’s clear this team has problems. The play calling was atrocious, the defense was horrendous, and Eli Manning proved to everyone he could still play quarterback when given the time to throw the ball.
The Giants will head home to face the Buffalo Bills on Sunday September 15th, and hopefully, Pat Shurmur and defensive coordinator James Bettcher can devise a plan to at least make it look like NY is capable of playing football.