New York Giants: Offensive Stars Need To Improve In Week Two

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants are coming off of a disappointing loss to kick off the season. On Monday Night, New York lost to the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers with a final score of 26-16. Despite this loss, there were plenty of positives to draw from the Giants’ performance. However, there were some glaring negatives to take away from it as well.

In particular, the Giants had a couple of disappointing performances on the offensive side of the ball. Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram, two of the Giants’ most dynamic playmakers, need to improve in Week Two if the Giants want to beat the Chicago Bears.

Saquon Barkley Not An Every-Down Back?

Superstar running back Saquon Barkley has received plenty of criticism from the media and fans after his performance in Week One. Most prominently, former Giants star running back Tiki Barber was very critical of Barkley this week. Tiki was quoted saying:

“Saquon Barkley is a great back, but he might not be an every down back. He cannot pass protect. It’s becoming glaring & could become a liability” – Tiki Barber on Saquon Barkley

What Tiki said does have some substance. Obviously, Saquon is a phenomenal running back and should be on the field as much as possible. He is a mismatch as a receiver and a big-play machine as a runner. And it is hard to criticize Barkley’s Week One rushing performance, given the way his offensive line played on Monday night. But Saquon Barkley’s struggles in pass protection have become a glaring weakness in his game.

Saquon let up more than one sack in pass protection on Monday night. According to Pro Football Focus, Saquon Barkley earned a 27.0 pass-blocking grade in Week One. He was a liability in pass protection for the Giants vs the Steelers. Granted, the Giants were facing arguably the best defense and best pass-rush in the NFL in Week One. It is a long season, so Saquon has plenty of time to improve, but he needs to step up and silence the doubters against the Bears in Week Two.

Evan Engram’s Night To Forget

The uber-versatile tight end Evan Engram had maybe the worst game of his career in Week One. With Jason Garrett serving as the team’s new offensive coordinator, Giants fans heard all season long about how big of a role Evan Engram would have with the Giants moving forward.

While Engram did have a substantial role in the Giants’ game plan versus the Steelers, he put together an extremely disappointing performance in that role. Engram was targeted 7 times on Monday but only hauled in 2 receptions for 9 receiving yards. Evan also dropped 2 passes in this game and committed an offensive pass interference penalty that erased a big gain through the air.

Pro Football Focus’s grading for Engram was pretty harsh, too. They gave Engram the worst grade amongst all tight ends in the league, 30.9 overall. Evan was also a complete liability as a blocker, both in pass protection and in the running game. He earned an 18.2 pass-blocking grade and a 32.9 run-blocking grade, both the lowest marks at the position.

Monday’s game was a night for Engram to forget. He will need to bounce back in a major way on Sunday to quiet the critics. Fans and analysts alike have torn Engram to shreds this week, rightfully so. But, like Barkley, Evan has plenty of time to make things right. A strong performance in Week Two versus the Bears will get Engram back on the right track.

New York Giants: Silver Linings From Week One vs Pittsburgh

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants suffered a disappointing loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last night. After getting off to a good start, the Giants squandered their lead and ultimately lost the game by two possessions. The final score was 26-16.

Despite this loss, there was plenty to like about the Giants’ performance in Week One. Some Solid performances on both sides of the football can encourage Giants fans heading into the second week of the season.

The Silver Linings

Daniel Jones

The Giants’ second-year quarterback, Daniel Jones, played a great game on Monday night. However, he did turn the ball over twice, and it cost the Giants big-time. But outside of those two turnovers, Jones was impressive as can be in Week One.

The Steelers possess one of the best defenses in the NFL. Their run-defense and pass-rush were elite last night. The Steelers held Saquon Barkley to 6 rushing yards and pressured Daniel Jones on 26 of his passing attempts. Jones was pressured 6 times more than any other quarterback in the NFL in Week One.

Despite having pressure in his face constantly, and despite not having a solid run game to rely on, Daniel Jones stood in the pocket and made some of the best throws of his career. Jones totaled 279 yards and 2 touchdown passes on 26 attempts.

Jones was particularly good when targeting the middle of the field. When targeting the middle, Jones completed 13 of his 15 passing attempts for 182 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jones was also superb on third down and carried the Giants’ offense at times. If Jones can continue to play at this level while keeping the turnovers down and receiving more help from his offensive line, 2020 could be the year Jones establishes himself as a franchise quarterback.

The Front Seven

The Giants enjoyed multiple impressive performances in their front seven. No one was more impressive than newly-signed inside linebacker Blake Martinez. Martinez recorded 11 tackles (tied for the most of all linebackers in Week One) en route to an 83.9 overall grade by Pro Football Focus. Blake Martinez played like one of the best linebackers in the NFL in Week One.

Lorenzo Carter also had one of the best games of his career on Monday night. Carter recorded 3 pressures, nearly had a sack, and earned an 81.5 overall PFF grade this week. His 3 pressures were tied for the team lead along with Leonard Williams, another player who had an impressive performance.

Leonard Williams recorded a sack and 3 pressures in Week One. Another interior defensive lineman also recorded a sack, though. Dexter Lawrence, the big hog molly out of Clemson started his second season off on the right track, earning a sack in an impressive performance.

The Giants’ defense was most impressive in Week One. The front seven was excellent, seeing multiple players have some of the best individual performances of their careers. This was especially important as the defensive secondary struggled to contain Ben Roethlisberger and his playmakers. The Giants will want to see their front seven build off of an impressive performance in Week Two, while also hoping to see some improvement from their young and inexperienced secondary.

New York Giants: Golden Tate OUT For Season Opener

New York Giants, Golden Tate

The New York Giants kick off their season at 7:20 p.m. tonight. Wide receiver Golden Tate has been questionable to play in the season opener all week. Now, Golden Tate has officially been ruled out of tonight’s game with a hamstring injury, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.

Second-year quarterback Daniel Jones will be without one of his top wide receivers again to start the season. In 2019, Jones never played a single game with all of his playmakers. Daniel Jones never hit the field with Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard, Saquon Barkley, Darius Slayton, and Golden Tate all healthy last season. The Giants’ skill positions looked different week-to-week last year, and the discontinuity is continuing to begin the 2020 season.

Who’s Next?

Filling in for Golden Tate will likely be Damion Ratley. The Giants claimed Ratley off of the waivers last week. He was listed as the second-string wide receiver behind Golden Tate on the Giants’ first depth chart. Ratley spent the last two seasons with the Cleveland Browns, totaling 25 catches for 344 yards and 1 touchdown.

The New York Giants are facing one of the toughest defenses in the NFL tonight. Being without Golden Tate will be a serious blow to the Giants’ offense. Tate was one of Daniel Jones’s favorite targets last year as he totaled 676 yards and 6 touchdowns in 11 games. There was a strong chance that Tate played tonight, so he should be ready to roll in Week Two despite tonight’s disappointing game-time decision.

New York Giants: Feeding Saquon The Key To Success In Week One

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants are about to face off against arguably the best defense in the NFL on Monday night. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense led the league in forced turnovers last season. The Steelers’ defensive unit features three 2019 First-Team All-Pros and other Pro Bowlers littered throughout.

The Steelers have the best pass-rushing duo in the NFL in TJ Watt and Bud Dupree. The two combined for a total of 26 sacks in 2019 and 12 forced fumbles. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick also totaled 5 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles playing alongside Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden. Throwing against this secondary and pass-rush will be a true test for Daniel Jones entering his second NFL season.

For this reason, the Giants need to rely on their best player more than usual in Week One. Saquon Barkley, arguably the most talented running back in the NFL, is the key to success for the Giants on Monday night.

Feed Saquon

Saquon Barkley had an up and down season in 2019. He spent much of the season either on the sideline, nursing an injury, or on the field playing through that injury. When healthy, Barkley was his dominant self, but the Giants’ offense still struggled to use him in an efficient manner.

Entering 2020, Saquon has a brand new offensive line and coaching staff to help him find success. In Week One, Saquon Barkley needs to be fed the ball abundantly in order for the Giants to win. This is not a defense that teams want to air the ball out on. They have playmakers in the secondary and relentless pass-rushers in the front seven. Daniel Jones should not shoulder the load for New York this week.

If there is a weakness on the Steelers’ defense, it is their run defense. While their run defense is not an actual weakness, it is their weakest link, and Saquon Barkley is the Giants’ strongest link. Pounding the rock with Saquon Barkley will tire down the Steelers’ defense and allow the Giants to control the game pacing and game clock.

While the Steelers’ defense allowed the third-fewest passing yards in the NFL last season, their run defense ranked 14th in the NFL, which is still above average, but not dominant like their pass defense. If the Giants want to take down this suffocating Steelers’ defense, they need to control the clock by pounding the rock with Saquon Barkley.

New York Giants: Positives and Negatives of the Season Opener

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:

Positives

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.

Negatives

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.