The Giants, who had previously been 4-0 in Jerry World, set the tone early in their Sunday night opener against the Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately, that tone consisted of sloppy game play and many turnovers. In typical Eli Manning fashion, the team never gave up and fought back, even giving themselves a chance to drive for the lead late in the fourth quarter. However, another late turnover (their 6th!) would eventually prove fatal and lead to a 36-31 game one loss for the GMEN.
This is one game that surely consisted of “Ups & Downs”. Here’s a look at three of each.
- Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, & Rueben Randle
– These three players certainly came to play on Sunday, each recording 5 receptions and over 100 yards receiving (Cruz – 118, Nicks – 114, Randle – 101). Cruz also added three salsa touchdown celebrations to his stats (boy, is he already worth every penny of that 45 million dollar extension!). Randle, in his second season, looked every part of the breakout candidate many, including myself, have predicted. Nicks was moving well after missing most of training camp and the pre-season with injuries. If these three can stay healthy this season, the Giants just might have the most dynamic receiving trio in the NFL.
Ryan Mundy – A lot of Giants’ fans were real nervous about the safety position after Stevie Brown tore his ACL and was lost for the season in week three of the pre-season. However, the veteran Mundy has stepped up to fill Brown’s role and had himself a very solid game on Sunday. Munday recorded 6 total tackles, including two HUGE stops on third down right in front of the marker on Dez Bryant and Jason Witten (two guys that are not easy to bring down) to give the Giants life late in the game. He also had a big interception in the redzone, although he probably should have scored on the return.
Terrell Thomas & Justin Tuck - One guy, Tuck, who is coming off a very disappointing and injury riddled season and another, Thomas, playing in his first real game in two seasons after back-to-back torn ACL injuries, led the defense in tackles. Tuck looked like his old self, recording 8 total tackles, 1/2 sack, 2 QB hits, and 6 QB pressures. Meanwhile, Thomas didn’t show any signs of rust, recording 7 total tackles and 1 pass defensed. If these two players can continue to stay healthy and produce like they did on Sunday, the Giants defense could be in for a big year.
- Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers, turnovers, turnovers, & turnovers – Yep, I had to write it six times to get the point across that if the Giants continue to turn the ball over at the ridiculous rate they were on Sunday they will not win many games this season. It’s pretty shocking that the Giants actually had chances to win this game, despite all the miscues. I’m sure Tom Coughlin, and the rest of the Giants staff, will work all
week to solve the ball security issues. One quick note, if you looked around the league this past weekend you saw a lot of sloppy plays and turnovers, including 4! safeties. I believe this has A LOT to do with the new NFL training camp and practice rules not allowing these guys to be adequately ready for live hitting and live game speed. So, while the six turnovers by the Giants were definitely frustrating to watch, it is something I am hoping can just be attributed to it being early in the season. We shall see.
- David Wilson – On the topic of turnovers, second year man, David Wilson, had two fumbles and a multitude of missed blocks before getting benched for the rest of the game. Wilson is a guy who many, me included, viewed as ready for a breakout season. However, if he does not solve his fumbling and blocking issues Coughlin won’t let him see the field, and rightfully so. Remember, once upon a time Tiki Barber had similar to issues to Wilson and the coaching staff was able to solve them. I am hoping that the coaches can fix Wilson as well because no matter how you slice it, the Giants need Wilson to perform up to his abilities if they want to make the playoffs this season.
Redzone offense – The Giants redzone offense was putrid in the pre-season and once again looked bad early on Sunday in Dallas. Their first trip into the redzone ended in a David Wilson fumble at the 8 yard line. Their second trip had them starting at the one yard line, thanks to a Ryan Mundy interception, yet only resulted in two negative plays and eventually a field goal. As soon as Mundy got tackled at the one I knew they weren’t going to score and tweeted:
HELL YEAH BABY!!!! Giants get one back, but Mundy needed to score on that one. Giants offense will end up settling for 3. Lock it up #NYG
— James (@bigbluebloggers) September 9, 2013
Now, the Giants did end up cashing in on three other redzone trips later in the game (18 yard pass to Cruz, 10 yard pass to Cruz, and 4 yard pass to Brandon Myers), but the Cowboys defense was playing softer. However, I think this could be a blue print for them going forward, in terms of what plays to run in the redzone. They need to open it up more and look for Cruz and the tight end, instead of wasting downs by trying to run the ball when they don’t, at least at the moment, have a power runner on the roster.
Overall, I know many Giants’ fans, including myself are very disappointed in the way the team played so sloppy on Sunday night. However, I think there are some positives that can be taken from the game, like the ones I highlighted above, including how the team continued to fight even though everybody on Twitter had already written them off. The defense, for the most part, performed a lot better than I expected. If the offense can clean up the turnover issues, I think that the Giants might actually be a better team than I even thought they would be going into this season. The offense has the play-makers to be explosive, as long as the offensive line can give Eli time in the pocket. This Sunday, against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, will be a huge test for this team. I am not sure if they will win, but I have a feeling they will actually play better than a lot of people will expect them too.
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