New York Giants: breaking down starters preseason stumble


The moment we had waited for had finally come, Eli Manning and the starting offense (with a few exceptions) ran on to the field to begin their preseason against the Cincinnati Bengals. Manning and company played the entire first quarter, a sign of an unsatisfied Tom Coughlin. Let’s break down what happened in this preseason stumble for the offense.

Related: Takeaways from the Giants Pre-Season loss to the Bengals

The Giants came out in the i-formation on their first snap from scrimmage. Manning took the snap and handed it off to Rashad Jennings for a three yard gain. The offensive line got beat on the play, but Jennings was able to make something out of nothing.

The Giants went to 11 personnel on their second play. Odell Beckham Jr. lined up in the slot on the same side Rueben Randle was out wide. Manning took the shotgun snap and quickly dumped the ball Jennings who got rocked as he received the football behind the line of scrimmage. Marshall Newhouse’s blocking could only be described as laughable on the play.

The Giants faced 3rd and 12. In the same 11 personnel set (with the exception of Vereen being in the game for Jennings) the Giants gave a different look. The Giants put the tight end and slot receiver on the left side of the field. Manning quickly fired towards the sideline to hit Rueben Randle for the first down but with great coverage there the pass went incomplete.

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On the Giants second drive the offense managed to match their putrid performance they started the game with. The Giants probably didn’t envision the offense playing so much in this game. But the starters have to build some sort of confidence to earn their way out of the game.

The starters got great field position in their second possession because of the amazing return of Akeem Hunt, who is an undrafted free agent trying to make the roster. The Giants started the drive at the 35 yard line. The Giants ran to the left, and Geno Atkins blew up the opening stretch play. Vereen managed to make a one yard gain on the play after getting no blocking whatsoever.

Aug 14, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin looks on from the sidelines in the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals in a preseason NFL football game at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

As if the Giants offense was bad enough the next play was a play-action pass in which a pressured Manning had to throw the ball away into the grass. Yes with 9:43 to go in the first quarter the grass had gotten more receptions from Manning than his receivers. So the Giants lined up in the shotgun with three wide receivers and Donnell as options for Manning in the passing game.

The Giants you would think would be desperate just to get something, anything at all going on offense. Manning throws the football out of bounds, clearly there was a misunderstanding on the play. Beckham Jr. ran a deep route and Manning threw it as if he was supposed to break back to the sideline.

So the Giants end up with a Josh Brown field goal attempt after the kick return got them to the 35 yard line. Brown missed this field goal which added humiliation to the Giants disappointment. Now the offense, defense and special teams have all failed to do their job. At least before that kick the special teams was the one positive thing the Giants could point to in their first preseason game.

The Giants brought Manning out for a third drive with 5:20 left in the third quarter. For perspective Andy Dalton was off the field after the first drive and some quarterbacks don’t even play in the first preseason game. The Giants had their franchise quarterback, clearly the most valuable asset they have, play for an entire quarter of the first preseason game. That is your first sign that something was going horribly wrong.

The Giants first play was a quick screen to Rashad Jennings a play that sent the Giants backfield when Ereck Flowers had a facemask penalty. The Bengals defensive end drove Flowers back, because he had leverage. Flowers only resort was the facemask as he was beaten badly off the line. Lining their tight end in the backfield as if to say “Our offensive line can’t really do it’s job” the Giants had a 1st and 20 at their own 10 yard line. Mercifully the Giants had a good play, a slither of light in a dark and miserable preseason game.

It was just the first preseason game so its not like it’s time to panic. That being said the offense is supposed to be the strength of this team and when it plays so putridly it raises concerns. The offensive line was horrendous. The receivers and Manning were not on the same page. It was ugly.

On a draw play, Rashad Jennings got 11 yards. The next play was a dump off to Jennings. Again the Giants went to a check down pass to the running back, it seemed to be the only pass they could complete in their out of sync offense. This set up a 3rd and 3.

The Giants needed to get this first down-mind you they were playing against mostly backups. Manning threw a pass right into the hands of Preston Parker and he dropped it. The Giants punted and we all wondered if the starting offense was just going to have to accept defeat and let the back ups play.

With two minutes left in the first quarter, Manning came back onto the field for more. In the i-formation the Giants tried to start the drive with a run, the key word here is tried. The Giants running back got stuffed in the backfield quicker than a strike of lightning. Weston Richburg got burned right up the middle, the Giants center was helpless to make a block, as the defender shot the gap perfectly.

The Giants finally got a first down on a screen pass to Andre Williams. We knew that the running backs would play a heavy role in the passing game but in this game they were the main feature of it. After a well blocked screen and a good scamper by Williams the Giants offense had some life in them.

The Giants then ran a draw play with Vereen and got four yards. The next play Manning connected with Donnell on a quick out route to set up a third and short. That was the end of the first quarter. The Giants got one first down and only 15 total yards to their stat line.

Shockingly, Manning started the second quarter on the field. The Giants tried to run the football out of the shotgun and got stuffed in the backfield. Vereen had not even a millisecond before getting tackled. It was fourth and one and that was all you would see from Manning. The time had come for Ryan Nassib to walk onto the field.

The good news is that this was a meaningless exhibition game and it was the first of four meaningless exhibition games. The bad news is that while the result doesn’t matter the process very much does. The Giants starters have a long way to go in the coming weeks.

Next: New York Giants: Brandon Meriweather fills a need