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Giants-Cowboys ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ review

Who deserves praise, who deserves criticism after second straight loss?

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

You waited all day for Sunday night, then the New York Giants disappointed you with a 20-13 stinker of a loss to the Dallas Cowboys. You have been waiting all morning for “Kudos & Wet Willies,” and while K&WW is a little later than usual it’s here.

Let’s get to our traditional day after review.


Kudos to ...

Saquon Barkley — Well, if you are going to spend the entire night checking the ball down you might as well set a record while doing it. The 14 passes Barkley caught broke Tiki Barber’s franchise record for receptions in a game, which had been 13. He’s a really nice option when you can’t get the ball down the field, but Barkley can’t be the whole offense.

Riley Dixon — At least the Giants punter had a nice night. He punted six times, surrendered just 14 return yards, had three punts downed inside the 20-yard line and had a 40.0-yards per punt net average.

Damon Harrison — Big ‘Snacks’ just keeps going and going. Dallas did a lot of things on offense Sunday — big plays in the passing game, mesmerizing the Giants with the read option among them. The one thing they did not do was have any success running the ball in Harrison’s direction. ‘Snacks’ had four tackles and quarterback hit.

Cody Latimer — Had the Giants only really big play of the night, making a contested catch of a Manning pass for a 37-yard gain that set up an Aldrick Rosas field goal that got the Giants on the board in the third quarter. Latimer also averaged 28.5 yards on two kickoff returns.

Wet Willies to ...

Offensive line — Here is something I wrote last night: “Stunts. Blitzes. Four-man rushes. The Giants offensive line couldn’t handle any of it.”

Here is something left tackle Nate Solder said: “They blitzed. They ran stunts. They rushed four. They did a number of things and we didn’t pick up any of it.”

I swear, I wrote “Things we learned” before seeing Solder’s quote. Really. Hand on a Bible.

It isn’t, though, like it was hard to see. When Dallas blitzed, it seemed like the Giants had no clue where they were coming from or who was supposed to pick up the blitzer. When the defensive linemen ran basic stunts the Giants — mostly Patrick Omameh and Ereck Flowers on the right side — seemed unable to figure out how to pass guys off.

Eli Manning got sacked six times times, four in the first half when it seemed like a constant jailbreak to the quarterback. The Giants averaged a pitiful 2.1 yards rushing the ball (17 carries, 35 yards) with Saquon Barkley earning much of what the Giants did get on his own.

Maybe it will get better as the revamped offensive line (with a new starting center following the awful injury to Jon Halapio) but the rebuild to this point has been a failure. There really isn’t a single member of that group who should feel good about the way he has played thus far.

The Giants will never be able to run a competent offense and take advantage of the play-making talent they have without blocking that gives them a chance.

Shane Smith — I really like Smith. The young man is a great kid, personable, accommodating. What good to a team, though, is a fullback who doesn’t block? Smith played four snaps on offense Sunday night. On one, he had no idea who to block and a blitzer ran right by him on his way to Manning. On another, he knew who to block. He just got run over trying to do it.

Pass rush — What pass rush? While Manning was getting battered by the Cowboys, Dak Prescott was enjoying a leisurely day at the beach. Prescott was never sacked in 25 pass attempts, and was touched by the Giants just three times. He got hit more when he chose to run the ball on the read option (7 carries, 45 yards), and even that was usually after he had picked up significant chunks of yardage.

Janoris Jenkins/Curtis Riley — I’m not sure if Jackrabbit should get blame for the 64-yard Prescott to Tavon Austin touchdown pass or Riley.

Jackrabbit appeared to miss a jam at the line of scrimmage, then slipped and fell behind in the footrace. Riley, the free safety in the middle of the field, seemed to be late, took a horrid angle and wasn’t really close to keeping Austin out of the end zone. This is the second game in a row the Jenkins/Riley combo has been burned for a deep ball.

Kaelin Clay — The Giants didn’t want to give up on Clay after his misadventures in Week 1, including a muffed punt that cost the Giants an opportunity at a final possession. Sunday night, Clay averaged 5.5 yards on two returns and was fortunate not to turn the ball over one of those when a punt landed in front of him and banged off his shins.

Kwillies to ...

Eli Manning — The 37-year-old took a beating Sunday night, and admirably kept getting back up. He was sacked six times in 50 drop backs, the most times he has been sacked since also being taken down six times by the Philadelphia Eagles Oct. 12, 2014. He was hit eight other times. He ran two quarterback sneaks for fourth-down conversions, with the broadcast saying it was the first time he had run the sneak since 2010. Give him credit for still being able to take the hits and get back up.

Manning, though, orchestrated an offense that didn’t go anywhere. The Giants actually an an 11-play “drive” in the first half that gained 23 yards. How is that even possible? They didn’t cross midfield until the second half.

Manning completed 33-of-44 passes and had a nice passer rating of 98.6. Those completions, though, generated only 279 passing yards. That’s 6.3 per completion. Subtract the six sacks that cost the Giants 59 yards and Manning averaged only 4.4 yards per play on 50 drop backs. That’s not going to get it done.

If my math is right, the Next Gen Stats chart shows that 12 of Manning’s passes (27.2 percent) were thrown behind the line of scrimmage. Seventeen more were thrown within 5 yards of the line. Only seven were down the field beyond 20 yards.

The pass rush was without doubt a major part of the problem. Many of those check downs were because Manning had no choice due to the pressure. At times, though, it looked like the Giants wanted to go down the field and Manning chose not to pull the trigger. Did Manning miss opportunities? Make the right choices because guys were covered? Not trust his protection and sometimes get the ball out too quickly or exactly what happened?

Right now, those questions are hard to answer. Through two games, though, the Giants have scored 28 points. Ten of those came in Sunday’s fourth quarter when it was, realistically, already too late and the Cowboys weren’t applying as much pressure. In those two games, the Giants haven’t gotten a single really big play from Odell Beckham Jr.

The offense — Manning included — is going to have to be better than that or this is going to be another long, wasted season.