Four talking points from the New York Giants’ preseason defeat in Cleveland

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 21: Jason Pierre-Paul
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 21: Jason Pierre-Paul /

Game two in preseason for Big Blue didn’t pass by without producing a number of headline-making talking points.

The New York Giants continued their preparations for the new season on Monday night with a 10-6 defeat to the Cleveland Browns.

A mixed evening saw Odell Beckham, Jr. leave the field with an injury, questions once again raised over an under-pressure offensive line and the return of a familiar problem.

While Saturday’s meeting with the New York Jets promises to be a more accurate insight into where the Giants are, the visit to Cleveland didn’t fail to throw up a number of talking points.

O-dell No!

As ever, Beckham dictated the spotlight, but not quite in the manner he would have hoped for.

Big Blue fans were given a fright early in the second quarter as Beckham was undercut by Browns cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun and subsequently forced to exit the game.

The Giants receiver had hauled in an 18-yard pass from Eli Manning, only to be met with a low blow to his left knee. A hit that was, admittedly, legal but deemed by most as unnecessary for a preseason contest.

CLEVELAND, OH – AUGUST 21: Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the New York Giants walks off the field after suffering an injury in the first half of a preseason game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 21, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images).
CLEVELAND, OH – AUGUST 21: Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the New York Giants walks off the field after suffering an injury in the first half of a preseason game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 21, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images). /

What has since been identified as a suspected high sprained ankle could have been significantly worse had Beckham not lifted his left leg from the turf and, in turn, avoided being hit whilst stationary.

Footage of the Giants star jogging back to the locker room after the game served as welcomed reassurance, although he is now unlikely to feature for the remainder of preseason.

Doubts also loom over his availability for the week one matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, somewhat adding more pressure to a Giants offense expected to make strides in 2017.

A blow for head coach Ben McAdoo’s men, but seemingly one that could have been a whole lot worse.

No Flower Power

A highly-anticipated duel between Giants left tackle Ereck Flowers and defensive end Myles Garrett, the 2017 first overall draft pick, dominated the pre-game build up.

This was another valuable test for Flowers and an opportunity to showcase some kind of progress ahead of a season in which he is expected to make a leap following two lacklustre years in New York.

Much like his training camp, his night can only be described as mixed.

The third-year player was fortunate to avoid being flagged for holding on more than one occasion and, despite Garrett not appearing worryingly impactful on paper, was exposed by the Texas A&M product’s speed.

One notable example came in the second quarter when Flowers’ technique once again let him down as he failed to get out to Garrett quickly enough, forcing Manning to step up into the pocket before throwing an incomplete pass.

That said, several borderline plays could also be perceived as improvement from Flowers, who was wrongly credited for a sack and limited Garrett well at times.

At this moment, the Giants might just take his unspectacular but somewhat adequate display forward with them.

It isn’t just Flowers who finds himself under pressure, with right guard John Jerry also enduring another underwhelming preseason outing.

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Protecting the Duke

McAdoo was left to echo frustrations from 2016 regarding his team’s protection of the ball.

Fumbles and eventual turnovers emerged as key issues for the Giants head coach last season, and once again on Monday night.

The first came in the second quarter when wide receiver Sterling Shepard caught a short pass to the left of Manning, before being stripped of the ball by Browns cornerback Jason McCourty.

Shepard’s error was punished shortly after when quarterback DeShone Kizer scored the game’s only touchdown with a one-yard run.

"When asked for his reaction, McAdoo told “Hold the ball.”"

Rookie running back Wayne Gallman was similarly guilty in the fourth quarter when he fumbled on the play immediately after the Giants had recovered Cody Kessler’s fumble.

A comical passage McAdoo won’t have enjoyed, especially when considering it followed Geno Smith being intercepted at the three-yard line. The second-year head coach was animated in his response.

"“We need to take care of the ball. If we don’t take care of the ball, we give up 10 points and lose the ballgame. That is not good enough. It doesn’t matter what season it is. Regular season, preseason, postseason.”"

It represents a problem McAdoo is striving to stamp out, as evidenced by an incident in training camp when both Smith and Gallman were sent on a lap as punishment for a couple of sloppy exchanges.

Don’t Be Defensive

The Giants defense looks all set to pick up where it left off last term, moulding their trip to Cleveland as yet another warning to the team’s 2017 opponents.

Cleveland is a happy hunting ground for Jason Pierre-Paul.

2016 saw the defensive end named NFC Defensive Player of the Week after recording three sacks and a fumble return for a touchdown in a 27-13 win against the Browns. The 28-year-old followed that display up on Monday night with a first quarter interception.

Across from him, Olivier Vernon was as equally explosive and gave fans good reason to believe this defense is again capable of ranking alongside the very best units in the league.

Linebacker B.J. Goodson turned heads with a sack and seven tackles, whilst safety Landon Collins teased with another performance suggestive that he is already in mid-season form.

Next: Big Blue Breakfast: Browns keep New York Giants winless