EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants' offense certainly did not look like the juggernaut the team hopes it will eventually be during Saturday's 22-12 preseason victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Giants only scored three points in the four series Eli Manning played, and Manning completed just 4-of-14 passes.
There were, however, encouraging signs. The offensive line played reasonably well as Manning was never sacked and hardly harassed in his 14 drop backs. There were some nice holes for the running backs. Andre Williams had an 11-yard run and Shane Vereen a 10-yard run.
"I think we improved a little bit tonight. Nothing earth shaking, but we did get a little bit better. We're going to have to get a lot better," head coach Tom Coughlin said. "We came out throwing the ball, and obviously we were not as accurate as you'd like. We ended up throwing the ball away too many times, but we did have a lot of plays. A lot of people got experience out there tonight. Nassib kind of fought his way through some tough goings early on and played better towards the end. I felt there were some outstanding individual plays, but again, it's in front of us. It's not all there right now, but to win is a good thing."
Let's assess what we saw on Saturday.
You really have to break this down into two sides, because the left and the right each have their own story. Watch rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers and third-year left guard left guard Justin Pugh play together, with second-year center Weston Richburg next to them, and you understand why the Giants don't want to mess with that.
All of the Giants' best running plays came behind Flowers and Pugh. Aside from one noticeable blip in pass protection Flowers seemed to play well in his half of work.
"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. I'm loving this room, I'm loving this group and I'm excited to see what we're going to do this year."
On the right side, the Giants rotated three different front-line combinations. John Jerry started at right guard with Marshall Newhouse at tackle. Geoff Schwartz,seeing his first action since breaking his ankle last season vs. the Jaguars, rotated in at both spots. In the second half, Schwartz played guard for a series while Jerry kicked out to right tackle.
"It was good to be out there, it's just nice. I feel like I'm back doing what I love to do," Schwartz said. "Game day is what you prepare for all week, and it's good to just be out there with my teammates just trying to get better. Just exciting to finally be able to just do it."
How the Giants will configure the right side of the line going forward remains a mystery. While a complete review of the game might be necessary to make a full determination, all three appeared to hold their own. Newhouse played well aside from surrendering a sack when it appeared Ryan Nassib may have held the ball too long. Neither Schwartz nor Jerry appeared to make any major blunders, though it was clear the Giants had more success going behind Flowers and Pugh.
Wide receivers get their opportunity
Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle didn't play. Neither did Julian Talley. Odell Beckham played only a couple of series. That left plenty of snaps for the group of receivers vying for playing time and roster spots.
"(Geremy) Davis, I thought did okay tonight. (Corey) Washington had an opportunity to do a couple of things. Dwayne Harris made a couple of plays for us. James Jones made a couple of plays," Coughlin said. "So when you look at it that way, knowing what we were coming into in terms of who wasn't going to play and how long Odell was going to play; these guys got a lot of snaps out there tonight. For the most part, I'd say they benefitted by it."
- Jones caught five passes for 83 yards, averaging 16.6 yards per catch.
- Davis had four catches for 43 yards.
- Dwayne Harris caught an 8-yard touchdown pas, and had two receptions for 35 yards.
- Corey Washington had two catches for 17 yards, both on the Giants' fourth-quarter touchdown drive.
If any of those receivers gained an advantage Saturday it might have been Jones. Four of his five catches resulted in first downs, and all of his catches came on drives that resulted in points.
Eli's ugly night
Manning went just 4-of-14 for 46 yards. He misfired on several passes to Odell Beckham Jr. and had a couple of passes knocked down at the line of scrimmage.
"We've got to do a little bit better. Just moving in the pocket, finding lanes, a couple balls batted down. I think we had some opportunities for some big plays that we just missed, a little off," Manning said. "I thought we were close on a couple plays but obviously we've got to get better. We've got to execute better."
A few notes about the reserves.
- Backup quarterback Ryan Nassib completed 19-of-35 passes for 217 yards and one touchdown. The Giants scored 19 of their 22 points with Nassib at the helm.
- Running back Orleans Darkwa had another impressive night, carrying six times for 25 yards. His best run was a 16-yarder.
- Offensive lineman Brett Jones saw time at center and both guard spots.
- Guard Adam Gettis left the game with what was diagnosed as a "stinger," but was quickly cleared to return.
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