Who played well for the New York Giants and who did not in Saturday's 22-12 preseason victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars? Let's review the game in our traditional "Kudos & Wet Willies" style and find out.
Kudos to ...
Josh Brown -- The 36-year-old provided most of the Giants' offense with five fields, including a pair from outside 50 yards (51, 53). Brown did have a miss from 46 yards wiped out by penalty. Anyone still wish the Giants had cut Brown a year ago and kept Brandon McManus?
James Jones -- Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said last week that the veteran wide receiver had "stood out a little bit" during recent practices. Well, the 31-year-old nine-year veteran certainly stood out Saturday night. Bidding for a roster spot, Jones had five receptions for 83 yards. Even more impressive were the types and importance of the catches. Four of Jones' receptions resulted in first downs, and all of them came on drives that ended with the Giants scoring points.
Ryan Nassib -- The overall numbers might be pedestrian, 19-of-35 for 217 yards with one touchdown and a passer rating of 82.7 Nassib played with poise, though, and 19 of the Giants' 22 points were scored with him at quarterback. Nassib directed the Giants' only touchdown drive, an 11-play, 71-yard march that ended with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Harris. Nassib went 6-for-8 on the drive. That gave the Giants a 19-9 lead and provided the eventual winning points.
J.T. Thomas -- If Thomas plays during the regular season the way he did Saturday no one will question the Giants' decision to give him a three-year, $10 million free-agent contract ($4.5 million guaranteed). It seemed like Thomas spent the entire night in the Jacksonville backfield, both in run defense and as a blitzer vs. the pass. In 39 snaps, he had a five tackles, one for loss, and a strip-sack that the Giants recovered and turned into a field goal.
Nikita Whitlock -- I honestly have no idea how the Giants find a roster spot for Whitlock, the backup fullback, but they need to try. The guy is an absolutely dynamo on special teams and made a brilliant solo tackle at the 16-yard line in kickoff coverage Saturday. He also caught a pass. He is not replacing Henry Hynoski at fullback. If, however, the Giants can find a way to keep him he will help the football team.
Ereck Flowers/Justin Pugh -- I have to address these guys as a tandem. Here's a message to those of you still calling for Pugh to be moved back to right tacke. Stop it! Just plain stop it! Pugh and Flowers form what is beginning to look like a potentially dominant tandem on the left side. The Giants are not going to mess with it. Nor should they. All of the Giants' best running plays Saturday came going behind Flowers and Pugh. After the game, Pugh was practically gushing about playing next to the rookie Flowers.
"We're out there and we're just going to keep working, keep getting better, Ereck and me are having a lot of fun," Pugh said. "This has got to be the most fun I've ever had in a season to date."
Flowers had perhaps one breakdown in pass protection late in the first half that resulted in a pressure of quarterback Ryan Nassib. Otherwise, he appeared to be solid. Pugh looks potentially dominant at guard.
Uani Unga -- For the second straight week, the rookie undrafted free agent was constantly around the ball during his opportunity in the second half. Unga had six tackled and a pass defensed. At first glance, there isn't a spot on the 53-man roster for the 27-year-old Unga. He might, however, be in the process of changing that.
Wet Willies to ...
Markus Kuhn -- A few days ago I kiddingly wondered if Kuhn had incriminating pictures of someone that were keeping him on the roster. During his 24 snaps on Saturday night, Kuhn was the weak link in the middle of the Giants' defense for the second consecutive week. He consistently got washed out of running plays, leaving holes for Jacksonville rushers to make positive gains. Second-year man Jay Bromley and veteran Kenrick Ellis are both better players. Both Bromley and Ellis spent some time in the Jacksonville backfield Saturday night, rather than simply going backwards.
Eli Manning/Odell Beckham -- The dynamic duo mis-fired several times during the game. Beckham was targeted five times without making a catch. On at least one occasion he appeared to think better, thankfully, of making a full-out effort for a ball across the middle in traffic. Manning was off target on a couple of throws. Beckham also dropped a low pass from Manning (yes, it can happen) that would have been a 29-yard gain and given the Giants first-and-goal inside the Jacksonville 5-yard line. Manning finished 4-of-14 for 46 yards, just a 29 percent completion rate.