Upon re-watching Saturday’s preseason game between the Giants and Panthers, I’m still pretty optimistic about the Giants overall performance.
Of course there were miscues, lackluster periods of time… but they had only 5 practices in pads before they played this game. Not too shabby if you look at it like that. So here is my good bad and ugly for this past week’s Giants game.
• 1st team defense looks dangerous, from the front 4 all the way back to the safeties. I liked the amount of pressure coming off the edges, I like the central push and Canty’s repeated penetration to the running lane, I liked Michael Boley’s awareness to get the INT and score — something the Giants didn’t do at all last season on defense despite leading the league in takeaways. A solid foundation to start from whether or not Osi returns to form this year, and JPP looks like he’s going to be a handful for whoever is opposite him. Can’t wait to see the NASCAR package again with Tuck, Osi, Kiwi, and JPP across the front…. QB killers 2.0 for sure.
• Depth at RB. I thought both Jacobs and Bradshaw had their opportunities for big runs and nipped off a couple with wide running lanes. Ware looked good, he just does not excite me as much as Bradshaw or Jacobs does when they turn the corner. I thought Andre Brown looked quick on his 9 yard run and would love to see more next week in place of Ware. Same goes for Da’Rel Scott, but I have a feeling the #4 and #5 guys will be returning kicks before they get ahead of Ware in the backfield rotation. Still, I’m not in love with Ware for whatever reason, can’t put my finger on it but he’s not my favorite weapon.
• No turnovers. No fumbles, no interceptions — two key things the Giants have harped on all season as their focus. Well, they accomplished it and got some takeaways on defense to boot. I’m amazed just based on that ratio that the Giants ended up losing the game… but we’ll get to that later.
• Punting. Both Dodge and Weatherford looked good, and the Giants average punt was over 48 yards and the net punt average was just over 39 yards… but I have a feeling if coverage improved so would the later number. Still, nice work punting the ball.
• Depth at Cornerback. We know what we can expect from CWebb and TThomas, but Brian Witherspoon just became the legitimate #3 DB in place of Bruce Johnson and ahead of Aaron Ross on the depth chart. In fact, if Terrell Thomas really did want to try out that 3rd safety position, I’d give Witherspoon a crack at starting CB on the #2 receiver without issue. Great awareness, coverage, physicality, speed — he could be the complete package for the Giants in place of Prince Amukamara, or at least until we can see what he brings to the table at the NFL level. I know, it’s only one game and a preseason game at that — but I continue to be impressed by B Spoon.
• Domenik Hixon and Devin Thomas for #3 WR. Two solid games from both these guys. They looked quick, had good hands, made some good plays for first downs which is going to be under the microscope all year without Steve Smith holding it down. I think Hixon and Thomas are clearly the early front runners for that slot position and I look forward to seeing more from each of them this preseason.
Thomas also had a good punt return but he may not be the full time answer there if he’s going to be the token Y receiver for the Giants.
• The offense. How can the Giants only score 3 offensive points over 4 quarters with the amount of weapons they have? With Boss and Smith gone, you’d think the Giants would want to make a statement. Well it looked rough. Really rough. They barely even made it to the red zone, and the one time they did they couldn’t convert. I agree with Coughlin, there really wasn’t a spark when the Giants had a chance to go up by 2 scores, and I’m disappointed in the Giants offense for not putting more points on the board. Hell, they started on the opposing 23 for one drive and came away with nothing. Play calling WAS predictable, but come on. Victor Cruz dropped a perfectly thrown ball on a nice slant. Then predictably, a run that was stopped immediately. Then, a quick wheel route for 2 yards to a man that was already covered. Field goal no good. Jeez. You had a TD gift wrapped and squandered it big time.
• Injuries. Can Ramses Barden and Travis Beckum get on the field please? Obviously the Giants offense needs everything they can get.
Update: Latest report is still a no go from Barden, but Beckum was practicing today and made some nice diving catches.
• Coaching. I was not a fan of the play calling (too predictable) and I was not a fan of the first FG attempt for 57 yards in the rain when everyone knows Lawrence Tynes had been battling a sore plant foot. This isn’t the ice bowl, this is preseason. And Tynes missed the second attempt as well perhaps because of the negative mindset his first kick left him with. Not smart decision making by the Giants… and it was very un-Coughlin like I thought.
• Special Teams coverage. I don’t know what needs to happen here to light a fire under the butts of Tom Quinn and Tom Coughlin, but something has got to be done here. You’re allowing the opposition to have tremendous field position every time they start their drive — that’s a huge hole you dig the defense each and every time they take the field. ENOUGH.
• Aaron Ross. I’m not sure how a player could be so hyped for no good reason. He is not good folks. HE STINKS. Out of position in coverages all night, he can’t tackle, and basically he’ll be targeted every time he’s on the field if this keeps up. He’s a liability, to CC Brown proportions. If he’s relegated to returning punts for the rest of his days in blue, I wouldn’t mind.
• Tackling all around. How many missed tackles were there, 500? Seemed like it. Get to the ball, make your wrap, and make your tackle. Fundamentals people.
• Return game. Speaking of no spark, what are the Giants telling these guys to do when they catch the ball? Run into the first block they see? It’s a combination of no speed, no aggressiveness, and no awareness in the return game. It’s too bad Hixon won’t be returning this year but I’d rather have a healthy playmaking #3 receiver than a banged up up returner/receiver hybrid. Still, a dedicated answer here is needed. (Psst — Aaron Ross won’t be playing safety OR corner if I had my druthers, this might be his only useful role on the team)