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Giants-Jets “Kudos & Wet Willies” review

Let’s dish out some praise, and some criticism

NFL: New York Giants at New York Jets
Hunter Sharp (15) stiff arms New York Jets linebacker Neville Hewitt (46) before scoring a touchdown on a punt return Friday night.
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

OK, New York Giants fans! The Giants defeated the New York Jets 22-16 in preseason football Friday night, so let’s do what we do the morning after games when we have no regrets, but we do have opinions. It’s “Kudos & Wet Willies” time.

Kudos to ...

First-team OL pass protection Eli Manning was comfortable in the pocket all night. He threw the ball 23 times, was never sacked and was hit just once. If the Giants can give him this kind of protection during the regular season, Manning is going to have a field day finding mismatches and delivering the ball.

Eli Manning — Well, well. Look at this. A well-protected, comfortable Manning completed 17-of-23 passes for 188 yards. There were deep shots of 54 yards to Cody Latimer and 30 yards to Sterling Shepard. The Giants even moved the pocket a few times, asking Manning to throw while moving to both his left and his right.

Jhurell Pressley — This is how you walk in off the street and make a strong first impression! Just signed on Monday because the absences of Saquon Barkley (hamstring), Jalen Simmons (concussion) and Robert Martin (leg) left the Giants with just two healthy running backs, Pressley had a game-high 71 yards rushing on 13 carries while playing the entire second half. The 24-year-old has bounced around the league on practice squads since 2016 and probably doesn’t have a realistic shot at a roster spot, but you never know.

Sterling Shepard — No Barkley. No Odell Beckham Jr. Evan Engram concussed. Shepard had a nice night with 7 receptions in 7 targets for 78 yards. Love the efficiency.

Aldrick Rosas — The second-year placekicker is a preseason phenom. He went 4-for-4 on field goals ranging from 21 to 48 yards on Friday and is now 6-for-6 on field-goal attempts this preseason. Rosas went 8-for-8 last preseason, but followed that up with a not-so-good (18-of-25, 72 percent) regular season.

Kerry Wynn — A sack. Two tackles for loss. A quarterback hit. Three tackles. Almost a spectacular diving interception. Wynn’s outstanding preseason continued Friday night.

Ray-Ray Armstrong — The veteran linebacker impressed again. He threw a huge block on the 55-yard punt return touchdown by Hunter Sharp, then forced a fumble on a Jets kickoff return that led to a Giant field goal.

The return game — Anemic during the first two games, that aspect of the game came alive for the Giants Friday. Sharp had that punt return touchdown and averaged 26.7 yards on three returns. Kalif Raymond averaged 16.3 yards on four returns, including a 35-yard return where he tightrope-walked down the sideline. Cody Latimer, returning kickoffs for the first time as a Giant, had a 23-yard kickoff return. By the way, a little credit to Michael Thomas and Eli Apple on Sharp’s touchdown. They rode the Jets gunner on that side, who tried to go down the middle, all the way to the other side of the field. That left Sharp a clear path he took advantage of.

Wet Willies to ...

Jonathan Stewart — What is there to say? The 31-year-old looked like an aging running back Friday night. He had 3 carries for -7 yards with his longest run going for a yard. He had a critical fumble on first-and-goal at the Jet 6-yard line. His nightmare preseason just got worse, and he now has 10 carries for -9 yards and a fumble. Let’s not overreact in preseason, but it’s fair to begin to wonder if there is any juice left in his legs after 10 season and 1,699 NFL regular-season carries.

Run blocking — While Stewart was a disaster, Wayne Gallman fared only a tiny bit better, gaining 8 yards on 6 carries (1.3 per attempt) with the first-team offensive line in the game. Three of the 11 runs between Stewart and Gallman in the first half went for negative yardage. That’s just not going to cut it, and you could tell from the reactions of Pat Shurmur and the linemen after the game that they know it. By the way, some will single out Patrick Omameh and wonder if his starting job is in jeopardy. I doubt that’s the case, but the veteran guard does need to play better.

Red zone offense — The Giants got into the red zone three times in the first half. They came away with a fumble and two field goals. Six point out of a possible 21 isn’t going to cut it. By the way, the scariest part of Stewart’s fumble. Watching Manning run down the field trying to both influence the return to prevent a touchdown and also not get hit by a horde of potential Jets blockers. Thank goodness the green shirts all chose to leave the veteran quarterback alone.

B.W. Webb — The starting slot corner was beaten badly across the field by Terrelle Pryor on a 12-yard touchdown pass. I don’t want to overreact to one play, but that wasn’t good at all.

Kwillies to ...

Hunter Sharp — Why is Sharp down here after his terrific night returning punts? Well, because as good as he was returning those punts he was equally as bad as a wide receiver.

He knew it, too.

“It’s honestly hard for me even to be happy about the touchdown because I have high expectations for myself,” Sharp said after the game. “Honestly, I just have to bounce back and keep working.”

Sharp had no receptions on three targets. He dropped two third-down passes from Manning that woulda-coulda-shoulda resulted in first downs. With the Giants at the Jets 16-yard line after Armstrong forced a fumble, Sharp and Manning appeared to miscommunicate on a throw to the end zone. Sharp broke to the middle, while Manning threw to the corner. Let’s not put Sharp on the 53-man roster just yet.