For a while there it looked as if the New York Giants were going to pull off the upset over the New England Patriots. But then reality, and the second half, set in and the game got away from the Giants.
When I made my pre-game pick, didn’t pretend that I thought the Giants were going to come away with the win in this game. But I did believe that how they played the game could be a victory (of sorts) for New York. Would they be competitive against the league’s best? Could they hang with the reigning Super Bowl champions?
In short, they did and they were, at least for two and a half quarters.
The Giants might have gotten the drubbing everyone expected, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t things to learn from the game.
Daniel Jones needs to learn when to fold ‘em
There is a long learning curve for a rookie quarterback. It isn’t really fair to expect them to “get it” right out of the gate, but that’s also the position in which the economic realities of the NFL put them in.
Jones has had some impressive flashes throughout pre-season and the regular season, but he has also shown some things on which he needs to work. Ball security is definitely one, but so is knowing when to give up on a play — and that’s a bit of a tough one. A coach never wants to dull a player’s edge and take away their aggressiveness. Eli Manning was one of the most aggressive quarterbacks around for a long time.
However, there is also value in knowing when to just throw the ball away and move on to the next play.
So far we have seen Jones be very hesitant to let plays go, and all too willing to hold on to the ball. It was a tendency the Patriots must have noticed as they played light boxes and heavy coverage all game long, daring Jones to try and find open receivers. The result was Jones scrambling until the last possible second, often taking hits — one of which resulted in an interception.
The Giants’ don’t want to make Jones overly cautious, but hopefully he will get to be more discerning as he matures as a quarterback.
The Giants’ defensive front can let them compete
It’s fitting that if you had to name the strength of the New York Giants it would unquestionably be their defensive front. The tackle trio of B.J. Hill, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Dexter Lawrence are proving to be a handful for for opposing offensive lines, creating pressure and clogging interior running lanes.
Meanwhile, Markus Golden, Lorenzo Carter, and Oshane Ximines are proving to be threats off the edge. Perhaps not as consistent as the Giants would like, but they seem to be improving by the week. Speaking of Carter, he and Alec Ogletree’s return gave the Giants the down-hill speed they need on defense.
It hasn’t been enough to keep offenses from racking up points on them, but it does give them something on which to build going forward.
Giants still struggle against good receivers
All season long the Giants have struggled against top receivers. Amari Cooper, Mike Evans, and Adam Thielen all had huge days against the Giants’ secondary, and even Cole Beasley had 83 yards on just four catches for the Bills. Thursday, Julian Edelman got in on the action with 113 yards on 9 receptions. The positive here is that Edelman was wasn’t terribly efficient, being targeted 15 times, and the Giants didn’t give up a passing touchdown. However, the Giants are going to have a hard time coming through with wins if they can’t slow down opposing passing attacks.
The Giants need to stop giving the ball away
If there has been one recurring problem with the Giants’ offense this season, it has been a propensity to give the ball away. It started on the first play of the season with a fumble by Saquon Barkley and has been a constant in every game since. The Giants came in to Thursday night’s game second in the league with 11 fumbles, six of which they lost. They added another to each the total as rookie RB Jon Hilliman lost the ball for the second week in a row. The Giants came in to the game tied for eighth in interceptions with five, but they jumped up to tie the Buffalo Bills at eight on the season (though with one less game played) after Daniel Jones threw three more interceptions this week.
This is a systemic problem for the Giants, and one they need to start getting fixed yesterday.