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Cowboys 19, Giants 3: “Kudos & Wet Willies” Review

New York Giants vs Dallas Cowboys
This pretty much sums up the play of the Giants’ offense Sunday night.
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

In the wake of Sunday’s 19-3 loss by the New York Giants to the Dallas Cowboys, this should be a pretty easy “Kudos & Wet Willies” to predict. The “Kudos” will come on the defensive side of the ball. The “Wet Willies” will come on what the Giants loosely referred to as the offensive side of the ball.


Kudos to ...

B.J. Goodson — Purely reciting tackle numbers is no real way to judge a player. But when that number for a single game is 18, wow! That’s more than the 13 defensive snaps Goodson played all of last year.

Landon Collins — Pretty much picked up where he left off in 2016. Wheareas the offense did that and it wasn’t a good thing, this was a very good thing in Collins’ case. He’s a star.

Janoris Jenkins — You knew Dez Bryant would eventually make a play against Jackrabbit, and he did, slipping away from him for a 35-yard catch-and-run. Jenkins held him to two catches for 43 yards, though. He was glued to Bryant all night. What a battle it is between those two.

Damon Harrison — What a player this guy is! He was dominant at the line of scrimmage, especially clearly in the game before the Giants’ offensive ineptitude simply wore the defense out. Credit to Olivier Vernon (an insane 72 snaps) and Jason Pierre-Paul (66). Both played really well. For that matter, rookie defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson was pretty good, too.

Wet Willies to ...

The offense as a whole — This might be the easiest “Wet Willie” ever. Without Odell Beckham Jr. you had to know the Giants would not look like an offensive juggernaut. It was, however, difficult to imagine them looking any worse. Three points is an embarrassing output for any NFL team, let alone one that believes it is a Super Bowl contender.

All of the problems from 2016, when the Giants averaged less than 20 points per game and failed to reach that mark in their last six contests, were still evident.

  • Too often last season the Giants got nothing done on offense unless Beckham did something spectacular. Even with an upgraded receiving corps, that was the case Sunday night. Only Beckham wasn’t there to ride in like a super hero and save the day.
  • The offensive line was a mess in 2016, yet the Giants returned the same group and are banking on continuity and individual improvement. All of their optimistic talk melted into a puddle of mistakes and missed blocks on Sunday night that left them unable to function.
  • Last season, quarterback Eli Manning often seemed as concerned about getting rid of the ball quickly to avoid a beating as he was about running an offense and making plays. Ditto Sunday night. Per Pro Football Focus, Manning completed only four passes targeted more than 10 yards down the field. There were too many short throws on third down that had no hope of getting first downs, and a couple of missed opportunities due to off-target throws when the line did give him a chance.
  • No running game. An average of 2.9 yards per carry, and only 12 attempts for 35 puny yards.

John Jerry and Bobby Hart — Jerry was awful in the preseason, leading to both Brett Jones and D.J. Fluker seeing some time with the first team. He was awful Sunday night, starting in the first drive when he was late to pick up a stunt and gave up a sack. It never got better. After a stellar preseason, Hart struggled all night with Dallas defensive end Demarcus Lawrence. The only reason to cut Hart some slack might be that he was seen by Giants media in attendance headed for an X-ray on his for what appeared to be a right foot issue. You wonder if that affected his mobility throughout the game. Ereck Flowers gave up a sack and had a holding penalty, but the Giants had bigger issues than his play.

Eli Manning — See what I wrote above. He has got to be better. Excuse the veteran quarterback for his desire for self-preservation. Can’t blame him for that. He was off target on a couple of throws when he had a chance, though. He missed a wide open Brandon Marshall. He was high and behind Sterling Shepard on a third-and-four, not giving Shepard a chance to outrun linebacker Sean Lee and get a first down. He threw a bad interception when the Giants still had a slim chance.

Paul Perkins — OK, the blocking wasn’t good. Where, though, is the guy who excited Giants fans last season with his ability to make defenders miss at the line of scrimmage? We didn’t see him in the preseason, and he didn’t exist Sunday night. Orleans Darkwa is at least running with authority.

Brandon Marshall — Yes, Manning missed him on one intermediate throw that had a chance. Marshall, though, was a complete non-factor.

Final Thoughts

You can’t write the season off after one game. So, no bridge-jumping, please. Still, this was obviously not encouraging. The Giants won’t get where they want to go relying on their defense and Beckham to do everything.

Problem is, there are no easy solutions on offense. If the Giants are going to be able to use their impressive array of pass catchers, the offensive line has to do a better job. Scream all you want for Jerry to be replaced, but Brett Jones remains unproven and D.J. Fluker was a flop in four years with the San Diego Chargers. Neither is a guaranteed upgrade.

The Dallas defensive line dominated the Giants. What was really discouraging about that is that, on paper, the Giants will face several teams with better defensive lines than Dallas has.

As for Manning, what you see is what you get after 14 years. If he’s not comfortable with his protection, with where his receivers are going to be, he’s not going to be successful.

Overall, Sunday night was about as bad as it gets for the Giants offense. When Beckham returns, that will obviously help. The Giants, though, put a lot of resources into trying to build an offense that was no longer Beckham or bust. Sunday night, they showed no signs of having succeeded.

NOTE: Check out Dan Berkman’s post-game Facebook Live. Click here is you don’t see the video below.

Big Blue Post-Mortem. I answer some of your questions and talk about what went so wrong

Posted by Big Blue View on Sunday, September 10, 2017