For the third season in a row, the New York Giants have started the season with an 0-2 record. This was another sloppy game that gives Giants fans little about which they should feel good.
But even though the game was not a good one, there was still a game played and things to be learned. So while we would rather learn from success, what did we learn from the Giants’ latest loss?
The Giants can’t overcome their defense
The game got off to a good start for the Giants with the team ending Buffalo’s first possession with a quick thee-and-out. Unfortunately, things went downhill from there and the Bills were able to engineer three straight long, efficient scoring drives.
The Giants’ offense got off to a hot start again on offense, but they just aren’t consistent enough to sustain drives and score in shootouts.
Saquon Barkley continues to shine and of the various problems with the Giants and their offense, Barkley is NOT among them.
Barkley eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the second week in a row, this time adding a touchdown to the stat sheet. He once again started the game off with an explosive run, this time for 27 yards on the fifth play of the game. The Bills would make some adjustments and were able to contain him in the second half, but Barkley remains an exciting player who can turn any play into a highlight. But the team needs more than an exciting running back if they want to play winning football.
In a positive sign, the Giants were able to get some pressure on Allen, notching a sack (and having another nullified by penalty) in the first half. They ended the Bill’s opening possession in the second half with a sack and picked up a third in the third quarter. The team also nearly came up with some turnovers, but couldn’t hang on to the ball.
The Giants invested heavily in their defense this past offseason and need the unit to come together.
The Giants should have kept TJ Jones
It came as a surprise when the Giants released wide receiver TJ Jones over the course of final cutdowns. He played well in a variety of roles as a receiver and offered another option in the return game.
He was re-signed following Sterling Shepard’s concussion and got to touch the ball for the first time just before the end of the first half. The result was a spectacular 60-yard punt return. The Giants’ passing game was not impressive, but when the Giants finally looked to Jones as a receiver in the second half, he seemed to play at a different speed than the rest of the Giants’ receivers.
Between what Jones showed as a receiver and his potential with the ball in his hand, the Giants should look for ways to get him involved.
The Giants need more from their receivers
This was not a pretty game for Eli Manning, especially when it comes to the stat sheet. That, in and of itself, is fine — Eli has never been a quarterback who is prone to “pretty games”. But an offense needs to help its quarterback out with play from the other 10 players on the field. In particular, the Giants need more from their wide receiving corprs.
Apart from TJ Jones, the Giants’ receivers aren’t creating much separation, forcing Manning to throw into tight windows all too often.
Obviously, NFL passers should be expected to be able to challenge coverages and attack tight windows, but the best offenses only force their passers to do so on occasion. The Giants try to scheme their receivers open, but (with the exception of Jones) their receivers aren’t doing a good enough job of getting open and giving Eli those windows — as well as hanging on to the ball when they have the opportunity
As well, the Giants receivers need to help their quarterback out on scramble drills. Manning isn’t an athletic quarterback, but he is forced to try and extend the play on occasion. When he does, the receivers need to be aware and do whatever they can to work themselves open and give Manning a target.
Hopefully the eventual returns of Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate (as well as the emergence of Jones) will give the Giants’ passing game the boost it needs.