The New York Giants spent the weeks leading up to Sunday’s season-opening game agains the Dallas Cowboys telling anyone who asked that they believed they were a better football team than the one that began 1-7 in 2018 and ultimately finished 5-11.
Maybe they are. In fact, they probably are. They weren’t, though, anywhere near ready to, or capable of, competing with the defending NFC East champion Cowboys on Sunday.
As a Barometer game we found out What NYG "Arent" (ready to contend with playoff caliber team).. next week we find out more of what they "are"— Carl Banks (@CarlBanksGIII) September 8, 2019
The biggest worry about the Giants heading into not just Sunday but the season in general was how a rebuilt, inexperienced defense would perform. Were they ready for the moment? The answer, on the road against a quality team was absolutely not.
The Giants gave up scores on five consecutive Dallas possessions beginning in the first quarter. None were cheapies. The Cowboys drove 75, 93, 83, 75 and 89 yards for their scores.
The pass rush, which defensive coordinator James Bettcher said during the week was “going to be a group effort” was exactly that. An utterly ineffective group effort.
In 32 dropbacks, the Giants never sacked Dak Prescott. They only laid a glove on him twice as he was carving them up for 405 passing yards and 4 touchdowns.
The pass coverage, even after the Giants spent three draft picks, brought in two new safeties and looked for better coverage linebackers wasn’t good.
Touchdown passes of 28 yards to Blake Jarwin and 25 yards to Randall Cobb looked like busted coverages.
First-round pick DeAndre Baker was victimized for a trio of big plays, including a 62-yard catch by Michael Gallup and a 21-yard touchdown by Amari Cooper.
Cornerback Antonio Hamilton could neither cover nor tackle anyone.
Dexter Lawrence, the 17th overall pick in the draft, was mostly invisible with one assisted tackle.
The offense wasn’t good enough, either. The Giants, after a tremendous opening drive, took advantage of nothing the remainder of the game.
Eli Manning will, of course, catch plenty of blame. Manning wasn’t bad, though, competing 30-of-44 for 306 yards. He, and the offense as a whole, just weren’t good enough to overcome a defense that had no answers for a good Dallas team.
Ir probably would have helped the Giants if Saquon Barkley had more than five first-half carries and if the Giants had bothered to give him the ball on either third-and-2 from the Dallas 8-yard line or fourth-and-1 from the 7-yard line with a chance to get within two scores midway through the third quarter.
All of that aside, what we really learned about the Giants is that they are not ready to play with the big boys just yet.
Which means that after one game, while the Giants are perhaps not at a Defcon 1 crisis level, they are now staring down the barrel of a three-game stretch that will determine whether or not yet another season will spiral out of control before it really has a chance to get started.
The Giants face the Buffalo Bills at home in Week 2, are on the road vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3 and host the Washington Redskins in Week 4. All of those are games against beatable teams.
As Banks tweeted, the Giants have shown us what they aren’t. That being a team with a dependable defense that is ready to challenge the league’s best teams. They will show us what they are over the next three weeks.
Let’s hope it’s better than what we saw on Sunday.