The New York Giants struck excitement into the fanbase with their first possession only to disappoint in the end. There was more bad than good in this game, here are some of the crucial factors against the Cowboys:
1.) Starting with the good, Evan Engram’s workload in week 1 should be encouraging. He caught 11 passes for 116 yards with a touchdown on the first drive. The 3rd-year tight end led the team in receiving yards and looks like the number 1 option in the passing game.
2.) The team started strong with the rushing attack. Saquon Barkley’s 59-yard run helped the team walk down the field for a touchdown on their opening drive. The team at least started off running the ball, although they failed to stick with it.
3.) Ezekiel Elliot was held to 53 rushing yards. He was able to frustrate the New York Giants defense with plenty of runs that kept the Dallas offense on schedule but he never broke loose for big gains. His longest run was a gain of 10 yards.
4.) Pat Shurmur was active with the officials. He had something to say about many plays in this game, as he should. As a coach who calls plays it’s encouraging to see his attention in other areas of the game.
5.) The Giants tried to stretch the field with Cody Latimer. While it was far too late in the game to execute this kind of play, Eli Manning and Cody Latimer connected for 43 yards down the right sideline.
1.) Now, the inexcusable layers to this game. Starting with the failure to establish the running game. The worst part about this is how well it worked on the first drive, gaining over 60 yards on the ground. After that drive, Saquon Barkley split carries with Wayne Gallman and Elijah Penny for the rest of the game. As their best player, this is inexcusable. A consistent running attack would’ve aided the defense as well. If the coaches wanted him with the 2nd overall pick they should plan to consistently feature him in the offense.
2.) Eli Manning looked less scared in the pocket than last year but looked just as scared to throw an interception. Last year Eli cut down on interceptions at the expense of taking fewer shots down the field. He avoided interceptions in this game as well by slowly crawling down the field with plenty of check-downs over the middle. Eli never tried to keep up with Dallas in this game, he finally completed his first deep pass of the game in the 2nd half when they were down 21-10.
3.) James Bettcher left too many players on an island against Amari Cooper. The only cornerback that should’ve drawn one on one matchups against Cooper is Janoris Jenkins. Dak Prescott found him for big plays when has up against Deandre Baker and safeties one on one. The team should’ve double-covered him more often especially with his production early in the game.
4.) Play-calling was an issue. Everyone remembers the 3rd and 1 where the momentum completely slipped away from the Giants. They could’ve called a run, especially since they were prepared to attempt a fourth-down conversion. Instead, the Giants tried a play-action rollout to hit Barkley on a flat route. Eli was called for intentional grounding on the play, ultimately stalling the drive. This was a chance to find their identity as the physical team Shurmur and Gettleman want.
5.) Sterling Shepard wasn’t targeted down the field. Usually, a 6-catch day is something to write home about, not when it’s for 42 yards. It’s not Shepard’s fault he averaged only 7 yards per reception, the coaching staff needs to dial up more plays for him down the field. Shepard had a deflating moment letting the ball bounce off his chest in the endzone but they need to give him more opportunities to make a difference. They just re-signed the playmaker this offseason for over $10 million per season.
While Eli didn’t particularly impress, the coaches set this team up for failure this week. The team didn’t run the ball enough early on to aid their defense. James Bettcher didn’t respect Dallas’ primary pass catchers with additional coverage. The New York Giants will need to solve their issues quickly if they don’t want this season to get out of hand. They get a chance to redeem themselves against the Buffalo Bills next Sunday at 1 pm.