EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — What did we learn Friday night as the New York Giants defeated the New York Jets 22-16 in NFL preseason action? Let’s take a look.
Maybe we should worry about Jonathan Stewart
Three carries for -7 yards. A costly fumble on first-and-goal at the Jets’ 6-yard line. His best run of the night went for a yard. I have been preaching patience with the 11-year veteran, but he now has 10 preseason carries for -9 yards and now I think it might be time to be alarmed. I turned to someone in the press box Friday night and said Stewart looked like a slow-moving glacier. That’s not a good thing for an NFL running back.
Hunter Sharp had a good night ... and a bad one
A week after muffing a punt and fumbling a kickoff, Sharp showed his skills with a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown. The play was beautifully blocked, with the finisher a terrific block from Ray-Ray Armstrong. Sharp sealed the touchdown with a perfectly delivered stiff arm to shed the final Jet defender who had a chance to make a play.
Unfortunately, as a receiver Sharp had a tough night. He dropped two perfect Eli Manning passes, both of which were third-down throws that would have resulted in first downs. He and Manning also appeared to have a miscommunication on a throw in the end zone, with Sharp breaking to the inside and Manning throwing to the outside.
So, a mixed bag. Let’s not put Sharp on the 53-man roster just yet.
First-team offensive line a mixed bag
There were both good and bad signs from the Giants starting offensive line on Friday night.
The good — The pass protection was outstanding. Eli Manning was never sacked in 23 drop backs, was hit only once and was comfortable in the pocket throughout the first half. That’s a big part of why he was able to go 17-of-23 (73.9 percent completion rate) for 188 yards.
The bad — The run-blocking was non-existent. Jonathan Stewart (3 carries, -7 yards) and Wayne Gallman (6 carries, 8 yards) combined for 1 solitary yard in their 9 rushing attempts. Stewart’s problems — and there definitely appear to be some — aside there weren’t any holes and there were too many Jets defenders in the backfield.
Sam Darnold is going to be good
The Jets’ rookie quarterback showed a lot of good things Friday night. He led a game-opening 75-yard touchdown drive, which included a 14-yard run for a first down. He ended his night 8-of-16 for 86 yards and a touchdown, throwing several beautiful touch passes along the way.
If Darnold is their Week 1 starter you can bet the Jets will play things a little tight to the vest, but the 21-year-old showed plenty for Jets fans to be excited about.
It’s still Kerry Wynn’s world
The veteran defensive end, outstanding in the first two preseason games, continued his excellent play. He had a sack, two tackles for loss, a quarterback hit and very nearly made a diving interception of a tipped pass.
Hey, look what good blocking can do
Eli Manning was never sacked. He was hit just once that I can recall. He stood comfortably in the pocket most of the night, not having to move around to find throwing lanes or avoid being pounded.
That had to have a lot to do with Manning going 17-of-23 for 188 yards. Take away the drops by Sharp and Manning’s night looks even that much better. Amazing what Manning’s 37-year-old arm can still accomplish when he has time to do it.
Dave Gettleman must be feeling good
The Giants general manager, currently in remission in a fight with lymphoma, was at Friday’s game. Gettleman wandered through the press box before the game, looking good and talking to a number of people. He also came through the locker room after the game.
Yeah, the Giants hat on his head looked goofy, but it was still good to see that the GM felt good enough deal with the crowds.
Remission or not, we know Gettleman’s fight isn’t over. We continue to wish him the best.