Before I go over any observations I made from watching the game, I must stress that very little can be discovered about a team during a preseason game (though I am sure many of you already knew that).
I thought the first team defense looked very strong. Plainly speaking, the Jets are a talented football team. To me, their offensive line is easily top 5 in the entire league. Yet during the game I felt the Giants defensive line controlled the trenches. This is a very good thing. There is little game planning involved in a defensive line player beating an offensive line player. Yes, a team can leave more players back to block, or create a game plan attempting to minimize the impact of one player, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Giants front four played better than the Jets five offensive lineman. I think the best example was the QB sneak on 3rd and inches. It was line against line, and the Giants didn’t budge. To me, that was probably the most impressive part of the night.
Aaron Ross was another impressive player. I was at the game tonight, and I decided early on I was going to try to keep my focus on Ross to see how he did in coverage. Ross was lined up against Burress and Holmes all night, and had pretty solid coverage. In fact there was only one time I thought his man beat him, and lucky for Ross, the Giants pass rush chased Sanchez from the pocket before he could make the throw. So, while I’m still a bit worried about Ross, he has definitely alleviated some of my concerns with his play this preseason.
Side note: It appears in nickel situations Rolle will move up to cover the slot receiver and Grant will take his place at safety. The Giants played this way all night. I was not particularly impressed with Rolle’s coverage, but I believe he will improve on this. Also when Brian Williams entered the game, he primarily covered the slot receiver.
Then there was Michael Boley. I have been waiting for Boley to become a Pro Bowl player for a number of years now. Perhaps it will never happen, but tonight he gave me reason to hope. He looks real fast out in coverage, and should again help us against tight ends. He was stout against the run, filling the holes nicely, and flying over the field to make the tackles. Not only that, but he looks like the best tackler on the team. I’m expecting big things from him this season.
The offense didn’t have as good a night. Let’s stick with the positives though. The offensive line looked better this week. They have been improving each week, and hopefully that continues throughout the season. I thought Bradshaw, Jacobs and Ware all looked great. Jacobs has looked the best, and looks like he returned to the dominating form we saw in 2008. (And now a tangent: Earlier today I saw an ESPN video where Ron Jaworski said the Giants won’t get nine wins this season because they won’t be able to establish a power run game like they want to. He claimed they don’t have the personal, specifically mentioning the poor play at tight end. I couldn’t disagree more. It might be hard to remember, but in 2008 nobody thought Boss was a good blocking tight end. He got thrown off his blocks too many times to remember. 2008 made me realize how good a blocker Shockey was. I mention 2008 because that is the only season under Coughlin that I thought we could be categorized as a power running team. We did it without good tight ends that year. If Jacobs and Bradshaw play well, and the offensive line plays up to its potential. we will be a power running team again)
Individually, I thought Manningham and Nicks ran some nice routes and each had a few nice grabs. Victor Cruz had a nice game as well, and even two tight ends got involved (Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum).
Once the starters left I don’t think there were a ton of positives. David Carr played so poorly, no one really had a chance to excel on offense. Defensively the Giants got pushed around. No one on the line really stood out. In fact, the only player I thought that did stand out was Clint Sintim. He was in on every tackle, and got pressure when he was sent on a blitz. I guess this means the Giants are fairly thin, but I think that was something we already knew.
Now to address Eli and the turnovers. Eli Manning did not have a good game. I don’t want to read too much into this. It was a preseason game, and I have no idea how much they game planned. Still, I thought he failed to get into a rhythm and almost never looked off his first receiver. There were plenty of times I knew the receiver getting the ball before the snap. The rest of the time I figured it out maybe a second after the snap. My point is, it looked like Eli tried to get the ball into the hands of the first option, instead of looking off if the receiver wasn’t open. I thought this was the reason for the first interception, as he tried to force it to Cruz, even though he was barely open. He had to lead him or the trailing corner would’ve picked it off. Since it was such a small window, he led him by a lot, hoping Cruz could run and make the catch. It was too far in front of Cruz, though, and it flew in front of his outstretched hands and into the safety behind him. The second pick wasn’t entirely Eli’s fault. He escaped from the pocket and headed to the left when he spotted Bradshaw streaking down the sideline. Eli threw a back shoulder pass, but Bradshaw didn’t know and kept running, leading to an easy pick for the defense.
The tight ends didn’t have a great game either. The Giants seem reluctant to have Beckum on the line, and had him almost exclusively in the slot. This didn’t cause them to become predictable, as they did run out of the formation, but if Beckum is primarily gonna be a receiver, I wish he had more catches. The Giants have not looked good in the red zone this preseason, and lack of an option at tight end is a big reason for that. It will be interesting to see how the Giants address this issue in the regular season.
Overall a solid game for the Giants.