Even though the NY Giants didn’t kick off 2020 the way they may have hoped, the team displayed many positive improvements.
It seems like the NY Giants kick off every season with a loss these days and that didn’t change with a disappointing 26-10 losing effort to the Pittsburgh Steelers this past Monday night.
Despite the loss, the new-look G-men displayed plenty of positives. NY Giants fans have to be sick of moral victories at this point, but it’s important to remember that Big Blue is a rebuilding bunch that was playing against one of the best defenses in all of football.
Without any preseason action, it was a tall order for Giants to get off to a winning start against such an experienced group.
Rookie head coach Joe judge has made it clear that this team will not tolerate mental mistakes that lead to losses, and even though he didn’t get his desired result you can bet the team worked hard in practice this week to correct the mistakes we saw.
First, let’s get the negatives out of the way as there were plenty to discuss. The NY Giants’ offensive line still is going to be problematic, as the unit struggled to protect Daniel Jones all night long.
The right side, in particular, struggled. The big boys up front were tested right out of the gates facing the likes of TJ Watt and Bud Dupree, and although the left side looked competent against the pass the whole unit was dominated in the run game.
Nick Gates was medicore in his first game at center and veteran right tackle Cameron Fleming was straight up awful, as the Steelers ran free into the backfield numerous times leading to the only two negative plays (both interceptions) Jones made all game.
Speaking of interceptions, Daniel Jones’ red zone interception (the first of his career) was a backbreaker and a game-changer that came at the end of an 18-play drive that could have put Big Blue in a position to compete down the stretch. Jason Garrett had his ups and downs calling plays. but it would have been nice to see him figure out a way to get the Steelers’ pass rush off balance instead of running with a full head of steam.
Corey Ballentine appeared to be a major liability in pass coverage and was routinely picked on throughout the night. It’s unlikely he’ll get much more of a leash as the coaching staff is going to have to look somewhere else to find a capable #2 cornerback.
Probably the biggest disappointment was the run game numbers of Saquon Barkley. While you’d like for your #2 overall pick to be able to muster up more than 6 yards on 15 carries, it’s really hard to put much of the blame on Barkley as he was hit behind the line of scrimmage repeatedly.
One thing you can put on Barkley is his pass protection, or lack thereof . Saquon is simply going to have to get better in that area fast or he’s going to run the risk of being taken off the field on some passing downs.
Evan Engram played probably his worst game as a member of the NY Giants as he struggled right out of the gates with a brutal dropped pass, was a liability blocking, and had a major miscommunication with Jones that should have been a touchdown.
Having said all that, there were many positives to take away from the home loss. The pass rush looked much improved and so did the overall energy of the defense
Jabrill Peppers and Blake Martinez were all over the field making tackles as the Giants appear to have found their best off-ball linebacker since Antonio Pierce.
Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams were stout up front and were able to generate pressure consistently.
Rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas impressed in his debut and had a big block on the offense’s first touchdown. The player on the recieving end of that touchdown, Darius Slayton, had another monster night, hauling in two touchdowns including the 41-yard strike from Jones. The second-year pro racked up 6 catches for 102 yards in total.
Far and away, the biggest positive takeaway from this contest was the play of Daniel Jones. While his overall statline doesn’t blow you away at first glance, Jones made numerous dazzling plays and when you consider the quality of opponent he was up against and what he was dealing with up front you have to give the youngster a high mark.
Pro Football Focus has been very critical of Daniel Jones at times during his career but even they gave him a lot of credit for his play last night, grading him out as one of the best QB’s overall in Week 1 play.
Jones went 26 for 41 for 279 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 picks, and had 22 rushing yards on 4 attempts (which sadly led the entire team). Danny Dimes showed off his mobility and he his ability to hang in the pocket and be willing to take a hit to compelte passes downfield.
If this game was any indication, Jones surely worked on his ball security during the offseason as he didn’t fumble once despite being under pressure a league-high 26 times in total.
Again, NY Giants fans are tired of having to take silver linings away from defeats but it was hard not to come away from this loss feeling somewhat good about the overall direction of the team.
Hopefully, the coaching staff was able to make some adjustments in practice this week and the team can play a full sixty minutes of solid football against the Bears this week.