How the New York Giants can grasp for optimism


Looking beyond the negative agenda following a week one defeat to the Dallas Cowboys, there are positives for Big Blue to take forward.

Lurking behind the doom and gloom, the diminished playoff aspirations, the outrage and humiliation, are beacons of promise New York Giants fans must grasp onto.

A week one defeat for the Giants against the Dallas Cowboys has evoked an untimely panic. One guilty of veiling the reality that playoff aspirations are not, in fact, decided in Week 1.

Delving into a disjointed and inferior offensive line means delving into a familiar fear, an issue the organisation has failed to amend and one the organization was punished for on Sunday night.

The AT&T Stadium staged an exhibition of the threat it poses to the New York Giants’ season. There is no disguising it, but there is also no harm in hailing the positives that may ultimately make Ben McAdoo’s men a force to be feared.

After all, defense wins championships, right?

Dominant defense

The trip to Dallas saw Steve Spagnuolo’s defensive unit endure the kind of gruelling fitness test capable of spring-boarding yet another leap.

An embarrassing lack of production from the New York Giants offense made for an exhausting first half for their teammates, up against a physically-draining no-huddle Cowboys.

To fare so well, for such long periods, against arguably the NFL’s best offensive line bodes well for the kind of defensive continuity required in New York.

Excelling under such rough circumstances will have the Giants defense believing it can once again take on anything put in their way. McAdoo should take confidence from the fact he has nothing to worry about in that department.

Defensive tackle Damon Harrison established himself as a valuable figure to an even greater extent, staking a claim as one of the New York Giants’ off-the-radar leaders.

The 2016 free agent pickup was in bullish form as he persisted to threaten Dak Prescott and force the second-year quarterback into the direction of his edge rushers.

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His, admittedly, unspectacular figures on paper shouldn’t overshadow what an unrelenting disruption he proved to be.

It could have been a whole lot worse had he not somewhat limited the impressive Ezekiel Elliott’s production.

A Tigers tale

A flying B.J. Goodson also made an early statement as he translated his explosive traits from his time at Clemson into a solid first career start.

The middle linebacker shone as a glaring positive in a position the Giants have been criticized for not properly addressing in recent years.

Goodson maintained an impressive level of physicality as he played 73 out of his side’s 74 snaps, in which he recorded an eye-opening 18 tackles.

A combination of instinct and sheer athleticism saw him combat the Cowboys running game well, not to mention preventing significant gains on several passing plays.

Elsewhere, Janoris Jenkins provided a welcomed reminder of his star role in an “NYPD” that has shown no signs of dropping of lowering its standards.

The cornerback coming out on top in a fiery matchup with Dez Bryant served as confirmation he is ready for yet another big season.

They don’t come much more competitive than Jenkins, whose hunger will be just as crucial as his talent in setting the bar high for his teammates.

As for defensive ends Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul, there were no surprises.

Both look equipped to spearhead another formidable year on defense and ensure their under-performing offense gets the opportunities to put points on the board.

That was offensive

Back to that Giants offense.

An offense led by a regressing quarterback, that can’t function without Odell Beckham Jr, that is suffering from a non-existent running game- or so some may have you believe.

Eli Manning struggled on Sunday. There’s no hiding it. There’s also no hiding the impact his unconvincing and chaotic offensive line had on him.

Rarely did he throw deep, which wouldn’t have been so exposed had several short passes been spotted and made.

Between Manning and his receiving weapons somewhat disappearing, the Giants took added strides towards justifying Beckham Jr’s apparent contract demands.

Nevertheless, a rough week one in Dallas should by no means serve as a reason to right off the two-time Super Bowl winner, who now finds himself under the kind of pressure that has famously seen him thrive in the past.

ARLINGTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 10: Benson Mayowa /

Brandon Marshall was subject to criticism for failing to step up, although it became clear upon reflection that he was open far more often than it appeared on the night.

Three targets and one catch for a man of his calibre isn’t good enough, and makes no sense.

The positive in that respect, is that he surely can’t suffer a repeat of such an unproductive outing- which can also be said for the surprisingly quiet rookie tight end Evan Engram.

Building blocks

A bright start to the second half, though far from emphatic, did hint at aspects for the New York Giants offense to build on.

Tight end Rhett Ellison showed brief signs of being a useful blocking resource when lined up in the fullback position, whilst Orleans Darwka also threatened to push Paul Perkins for a prominent role in the rushing attack.

The fact an unspectacular display from Darwka has boosted his chances sums up the severe lack of progression in the New York Giants running game.

Roger Lewis looked resourceful at moments, as did the versatility of running back Shane Vereen.

A bit of rotation can do McAdoo no harm given the importance of incorporating a touch of unpredictability to his play calling.

An extreme and painful lesson marks the positive. The concerns are real, mutually acknowledged by the entire Giants Nation. The reason for optimism? A team tipped for a Super Bowl run can only improve.

That starts with a must-win “Monday Night Football” clash against the Detroit Lions.