Let’s take a look back at some of the plays that tell various parts of the story of the New York Giants’ 22-16 victory over the New York Jets on Friday night in NFL preseason action. They aren’t in any particular order.
Curtis Riley takes a bad angle
Riley, an obscure free agent pickup from the Tennessee Titans, has emerged as the Giants likely starter at free safety. Unless, of course, there is an unexpected roster move that shuffles that position. The play below doesn’t inspire confidence.
This is the 10-yard first-quarter touchdown run by Bilal Powell of the Jets. Riley is lined up at safety near the goal line on the left hash. He reads and reacts to the play beautifully, but can’t make the stop. To my eyes, that’s because he is too eager, too aggressive. He tries to go under slot corner B.W. Webb for the big play and can’t get there. If he goes over, or behind, Webb he probably stops Powell somewhere around the 7-yard line.
The best thing about Riley’s play so far this preseason is that he has barely been noticed. Here, I noticed him in a way that wasn’t positive.
Overall, coach Pat Shurmur thought Riley “did a nice job” vs. the Jets. Shurmur also noted that the hamstring injury suffered by Darian Thompson, Riley’s primary competition at free safety, is “really lingering.”
Hunter Sharp’s 55-yard punt return
There are sooo many good things to talk about on this play it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s start by actually looking at the play again.
The first thing about this play is something the GIF doesn’t actually show. At what would be the bottom of the screen, the direction in which Sharp returned the punt, Michael Thomas and Eli Apple take the Jets gunner out of the play. On film, you see the gunner try to take an inside release. Apple and Thomas go with it, and ride him clear across to the other side of the field. That caves in everything to Sharp’s right, and starts the big play.
Next, at the top of the screen Janoris Jenkins does a great job keeping a Jet off Sharp and an unidentifiable Giant at the bottom niftily avoids a blocking in the back penalty.
Sharp’s teammates plow the road down the right side with Ray-Ray Armstrong (55) leveling a Jet and Russell Shepard driving Jets punter Lachlan Edwards to the turf.
When is the last time the Giants blocked a return this well?
Oh, and Sharp’s stiff-arm is pretty cool, too.
B.W. Webb gives up a score
Webb played the first half and continues to look as though he will be the starting slot cornerback. Here, though, he loses a 1-on-1 matchup with Terrelle Pryor and surrenders a touchdown.
In the slot at the bottom of the screen you can see Webb matched up with Pryor. At the top of Pryor’s shallow crossing route you can see that he gets his hand on Webb and creates separation. Webb is in chase mode immediately and never has a chance. In live action, this looked like a blown coverage by linebacker B.J. Goodson. It wasn’t, though, as the linebacker tried in vain to bail Webb out.
Slot corner continues to be a concern. Donte Deayon played much of the second half in that spot as he returned from injury.
Oh my, Omameh
This play turned into a 5-yard loss for Wayne Gallman.
I might be right here and I might not be, but what I see as the primary problem on this play is a missed block by right guard Patrick Omameh. Jets defensive tackle Leonard Williams is lined up over Giants center Jon Halapio, but on this play Halapio pulls and it appears to be Omameh’s job to get to Williams. He can’t get there quickly enough, allowing Williams to get into the backfield and blow up the play.
There has been some speculation, even amongst writers here at Big Blue View, that Omameh could be playing himself out of a starting job. There has been no indication that is the case, though, when it comes to practice or game reps.
Using Eli’s wheels
Manning, especially at 37, will never be known for his fleet feet. That, however, doesn’t mean the Giants can’t move him around like they do on the play below.
I chose to highlight this as a play worth mentioning because it shows a couple of things that haven’t been used enough in recent years — play action and moving the pocket so Manning isn’t a stationary target. Manning has always excelled at play action, which was a staple of his success back in the Kevin Gilbride era.
“I believe that every quarterback needs to use his legs to some degree. I think if you do enough other things well on offense, and I do believe that you have to move the launch point for the throws which sometimes means the play action game or moving the pocket, so I believe in that and I do believe that any quarterback can do it to some degree,” Shurmur said. “Eli moves around well enough where he can execute some of that stuff.”
This play is also impressive because it is Manning moving left and then re-setting himself and delivering a strike. When is the last time we’ve seen the Giants move Manning in this fashion? Whenever it was, it was too long ago.
This play also allows me to segue into this from Brian Baldinger:
NOTE: Hopefully, we will do more of these when time permits during the season.