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IXI's musings about the Giants: Week 1 edition

Invictus XI is back with more of his "musings" --- thoughts and observations at key points during the 2016 Giants season

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

I'm back. The last time I saw you guys was back during training camp. A lot has changed since then. The New York Giants have gotten through the start of the regular season and for the first time in what seems like an eternity, start 1-0, against the hated Dallas Cowboys, no less. I've been able to re-watch the game and I've got a lot on my mind, so let's get started:

1) The Giants spread the ball around very well. Though Eli Manning only had 28 attempts, eight went to Odell Beckham, four each to Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz, and five to Shane Vereen. That is a great spread.

2) That being said, the Giants offense is far from humming. Vereen had a couple drops. The Giants were terrible when it came to time of possession. I expected quicker releases from Manning since all three of the Giants' WRs (Cruz, Beckham, Shepard) have great releases.

3) I think that's what impresses me the most about Shepard. You can't jam him. He's just way too quick off the line and that puts the defense at a huge disadvantage.


4) Watching the game again, I don't think Marshall Newhouse had as a great a game as everybody makes it out to be. There's no way he let up only one pressure. By my count, he gave up a definite three, and a questionable fourth.

5) This was also a poor game for Justin Pugh. A hit, a holding call, and a couple of pressures. He was decent, but not great, in the run game. He has the ability to be one of the game's elite guards, but he did NOT show that ability in this game.

6) Who is the best offensive lineman in this game, then, IXI? Easy. It was John Jerry by quite a large margin. A lot of the plus plays attributed to Newhouse were in part because Jerry cleaned up on his inside shoulder. Jerry was a wall in pass protection and his ability to block on the move was amazing.

7) Big props to Larry Donnell. He was not an embarrassment when it came to blocking, which is a HUGE upgrade to how he did in the preseason. He is absolutely lethal up the seam and I like how the Giants use both he and Will Tye situationally. In long down and distance, Donnell is a much bigger weapon. Tye has a knack of getting open consistently in the short passing game. I'm confused as to why Eli didn't utilize him more as a chain mover.

8) Ereck Flowers had a "good" day from a production standpoint, but I STILL see technique flaws that make me seethe. He still lunges and he still has this knack for giving the opponent huge bear hugs as opposed to using his grown man strength to punch the opponent. Honestly, he (and Manning) are lucky his opponent was a JAG.

9) Eli's one interception was a dumb throw. Even if Shepard gave up on the route, Brandon Carr had beaten him on that route way before it left Eli's hands. Despite that, I thought Manning had a strong day. He made some very impressive throws, including the throw to Donnell for the TD, the throw to Odell Beckham in the middle of the field on the run to name a few.

10) After watching Rashad Jennings, I can't wait for the Giants to unleash Paul Perkins. Why? Jennings is so successful in this offense because of his vision and patience. Perkins has similar traits whilst being way more agile and flat out faster. It may be awhile, though, because Perkins had ball security and pass protection issues during preseason.

11) I think I love the idea of Brett Jones as a fullback. I don't think he can catch the ball out of the backfield but he provided significant blowback against defenders with a full head of steam. I wonder why more teams don't do this?

12) You've seen plenty of Johnathan Hankins and Damon Harrison videos in run defense. Talk about impressive. Snacks punks two of the best interior linemen in the league like Zack Martin and Travis Frederick pretty routinely, while Hankins is vicious when given 1-on-1 opportunities.

13) I've never seen anybody at Damon Harrison's size move that fluidly in lateral directions. Unless he was chopped, he was completely immovable. What an offseason addition. Tremendous.

14) One of the questions that a lot of people have is why the Giants employ two nose-tackle type defensive tackles inside for their pass rush. Those two don't pierce the pocket, they collapse it. That means when the outside rush comes crashing in, the QB does NOT have the ability to move up. That counts for a lot.

15) Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon both are players that create a ton of pressure but not really many sacks. Not necessarily a bad thing. Their pass rushes are disciplined. They took away any running lanes for Dak Prescott and by hurrying the QB, they allow for more poor passes and an increased chance for a turnover.

16) I saw Romeo Okwara flash in this game. Didn't think he'd actually get any playing time. Good for him.

17) I expected more from Devon Kennard. I thought given the upgrade along the defensive front that he'd be more involved, especially against a run heavy team. Has he regressed after playing injured the last two years? I want more from him.

18) The one player I was most disappointed in was Kelvin Sheppard. He routinely filled the wrong gaps and his assignments were left open. I would be more than okay for Keenan Robinson to take his spot next week (especially against the WCO heavy New Orleans Saints). Better yet, I hope the Giants believe B.J. Goodson will be ready to take over soon.

19) Jonathan Casillas looks like a real, honest-to-goodness linebacker. His tackling technique is impeccable. He didn't embarrass himself in coverage, either. Is he Lavonte David or Thomas Davis? No. But very few are. He's a serviceable, starting caliber LB in this league. That's better than what the Giants have had in a long time.

20) Janoris Jenkins was getting torched by some of the wide receivers in training camp. My hypothesis is that he struggles with speed. He can match up physically (even though he's smaller) with almost anyone. He proved it against Dez Bryant.

21) Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is awesome. That is all. Any thoughts of getting rid of him next year should be banished immediately. He's the best corner the Giants have, and he's the best equipped to handle speed. He's also the most versatile, holding up well in the slot.

22) The slot is where the Giants may need to add some extra help, however. They allowed a total of 102 yards in the slot. Willie Snead had 170+ yards as the Saints' slot receiver this past week. Drew Brees will certainly notice that.

23) The Giants may have the league's best up and coming duo at safety when it comes to Landon Collins and Darian Thompson.

24) Collins is a monster when it comes to the run game but has made significant strides in the pass game. The rookie version of him would not have made this play:


24) Collins is thriving in the Deone Bucannon role. Him moving forward is a thing of beauty. He laughs at this block from Jason Witten


25) Darian Thompson, meanwhile, is a future star. Here's a clip of his range as the single high safety. If Dez Bryant catches that ball, this dude is ready to bring the hammer down.


26) Here's another clip of his range, this time against Witten. He goes from the opposite numbers to make the tackle. In previous years, this is an easy first down for the Cowboys, but despite the knock on Thompson's speed and tackling ability, he looks pretty friggin' good here:


27) Finally, the last clip of Darian Thompson shows off his reaction speed. He makes the tackle and look at where he is pre-snap. Off. The. Charts.


28) The Giants will have their hands full against Drew Brees. But they will not have Markus Kuhn, Kerry Wynn, a rookie Landon Collins, and Brandon Meriweather starting. Neither will they have Rueben Randle or Dwayne Harris starting at WR. They will be ready.