Jones was a bright spot for a young NY Giants offense that had the task of playing arguably the best defense in the NFL. He looked confident, was accurate, showed his athleticism using his legs, and most importantly he didn’t fumble.
Jones’ deep TD pass to Darius Slayton in the second quarter was a beautifully thrown ball and his ability to find holes in Pittsburgh’s zones was widely encouraging after last season’s struggles vs zone defenses.
His two interceptions were the only negatives from Jones last night. A freaky athletic play by TJ Watt and the red zone blunder where his arm was hit by Bud Dupree, both bad plays but not the end of the world. Jones is a baller that looked the part last night and fans should be encouraged by what they saw.
Andrew Thomas: It has been quite some time since we’ve seen a Big Blue quarterback not face constant blindside pressure for an entire game. Andrew Thomas more than held his own vs some of the best pass rushers in the NFL last night. This was a huge game not only for his confidence, but to validate choosing him as the franchise tackle to protect Daniel Jones. Thomas’ performance was extremely encouraging.
Darius Slayton: ‘Big Play Slay’ was at it again last night. After the off-season discussions questioning if he had the talent to be a true No. 1 wideout, Slayton picked up right where he left off in 2019. He recorded 6 catches for 102 yards and 2 scores and looks to be Daniel Jones’ favorite target by a mile. The Jones to Slayton hookup is going to be a problem for a lot of defenses for the foreseeable future.
James Bradberry: One of the main free-agent signings from this off-season was the NY Giants’ best player in the secondary last night. James Bradberry notched 5 solo tackles, 2 pass breakups, and forced a Benny Snell fumble on a great hustle play. He was all over the field and is going to be a key contributor to this year’s secondary.
Blake Martinez: The other main acquisition from this year’s free-agent class also showed up last night. The tackling machine better known as Blake Martinez unsurprisingly led the team in tackles with 12 including one tackle for loss. He was a true sideline-to-sideline player and had a nice tackle on a screen play that was read perfectly. Martinez is the NY Giants’ best linebacker in years and looked the part last night.
Dexter Lawrence & Leonard Williams: The duo that anchors the defensive line proved that they are going to be a lot to handle this season. With Dexter Lawrence coming off a great rookie year and Leonard Williams playing under a new contract, the two combined for 7 solo tackles, 2 sacks, 3 tackles for loss, and 3 QB hits. That type of production from your interior guys is impressive and should help improve the pass rush off the edge as more attention is put on them moving forward.
Special Teams: This shouldn’t be too much of a shocker as Joe Judge is the former Special Teams Coach for New England. It was refreshing to have competent special teams play for an entire game. No dumb penalties, Gano was perfect on his one field goal and extra point attempt, they were able to recover a muffed punt deep in the red zone on the first punt of the game/season, and Jabrill Peppers had 3 punt returns for 39 yards.
The only negative was Ray-Ray McCloud’s 33-yard kick return. Special teams have been such a problem in the last few years. If it continues to look how it did last night, it will undoubtedly help Big Blue win games.
Discipline: All those laps at practice might be paying off after all. Same with special teams, the lack of discipline has been a major problem in recent seasons. Whether it’s a false start on 3rd & 1, a roughing the passer extending opposing team’s drives, personal fouls, you name it, the NY Giants have done it. A lot.
Last night was the complete opposite, as the team only tallied 4 penalties for just 25 yards. It may not seem like a big deal, but again that is the difference between winning and losing games and it’s great to see that problem already improving.