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Giants-Lions ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ review: Jason Pinnock, Tommy DeVito have a night

Who played well, and who did not, in Giants’ loss to Detroit

New York Giants v Detroit Lions
Jason Pinnock returns an interception on the first play of the game against the Detroit Lions on Friday night.
Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

The New York Giants played a football game on Friday night, losing to the Detroit Lions 21-16 in the preseason opener for both teams. That means it is time for the return of our traditional

Kudos to ...

Jason Pinnock — An interception on a wobbly Nate Sudfeld pass on the game’s first play, followed by a tackle for loss and two passes defensed in a brief appearance for Pinnock. There is zero doubt that Pinnock will be a starter next to Xavier McKinney at safety.

Cole Beasley — The 34-year-old Beasley showed that he still has some juice on Friday, with four first-half catches for 33 yards. Provided he stays healthy, I will be surprised if Beasley does not make the 53-man roster.

Tommy DeVito — Don’t blame the Giants’ loss on the undrafted free agent quarterback. Working through some horrid offensive line play, DeVito complete 15 of 24 passes for 155 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He looked like a professional quarterback.

“I thought he operated well. Made some good decisions. Used his legs,” said head coach Brian Daboll. “He was under some pressure sometimes there. Took care of the ball on some of those sacks. So definitely a performance to work off of.”

DeVito said his goal was “just to have fun,” and it certainly looked like he did.

Jordon Riley — Not that long ago, I was wondering what the Giants saw that made them select Riley in the seventh round of the draft when most analysts saw him as an undrafted free agent type player.

Now, I am beginning to see it. Riley had only one tackle Friday night, but he is a mountain of a man at 6-foot-5, 325 pounds who can anchor vs. a double team in the middle of the defensive line and allow the guys around him to make plays.

“He’s taking to the coaching, he’s doing a good job listening to the older players,” Daboll said. “I think he’s made some strides from the beginning of camp to where he is now. We’ll see how it translates on the field here.”

John Michael Schmitz — The second-round pick started at center and played the entire first half. He was easily the Giants’ best offensive lineman Friday night. That isn’t saying a whole lot considering how poorly many of the other linemen played, but it was an encouraging night for Schmitz.

Backup edge players — Tomon Fox (two quarterback hits, one that led to the Pinnock interception), Tashawn Bower (five tackles, a quarterback, and a pass defensed) and Habakkuk Baldonado (three tackles, including one for loss, a sack, and a quarterback hit) all had positive nights. The Giants are still likely to look for upgrades at this spot, but all three made solid impressions.

Graham Gano — The 36-year-old 14-year veteran just keeps on keepin’ on. He made field goals of 48, 47, and 42 yards on Friday night. Gano is so consistent it is stunning when he misses from inside 50 yards.

Tre Hawkins III — The sixth-round pick’s summer continued to be an impressive one. He missed one tackle, but otherwise was in solid position all night. First-round pick Deonte Banks was fine, but Hawkins is the first-year cornerback who is continuing to turn heads.

Wet Willies to ...

Punt coverage — The Giants surrendered a 94-yard punt return touchdown on Friday night. That led to this ‘burn a hole through special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey’ look from Daboll:

Sure, you might forgive the two missed tackles because they came from backup long snapper Cameron Lyons and undrafted cornerback Gemon Green, and neither will make the team. Still, punter Jamie Gillan rocketed the ball 67 yards, which is cool to look at while the ball is in flight, but left no Giants within about 20 yards or so when the ball was fielded. Just an ugly look, and not what you want when punt coverage was not exactly a strength for the Giants a year ago.

Offensive linemen not named John Michael Schmitz — Offensive line play can be ragged in preseason, especially when you get deep into the depth chart. And yes, the Giants were deep in their depth chart even from the beginning on Friday. Still, it wasn’t good.

At tackle, Matt Peart was so-so at best as the starting left tackle. And he was clearly better than Korey Cunningham and Wyatt Davis. Cunningham gave up two sacks, including one where it looked like he didn’t know the snap count, and just didn’t look like an NFL player most of the night. Davis, a guard forced to play tackle due to injuries to Evan Neal, Tyre Phillips and Devery Hamilton, was out of his element. He gave up two sacks and committed two penalties in the second half, and gave up the pressure that led to DeVito’s game-ending interception.

On top of that, to my eyes neither Ben Bredeson nor Joshua Ezeudu, competing to be the starting left guard, played all that well in the first half.

Bryce Ford-Wheaton — The much-ballyhooed undrafted free agent wide receiver had no catches in three targets, and committed an obvious pass interference penalty negating the one ball he did catch. Ford-Wheaton had a clear drop, and couldn’t haul in a deep ball from DeVito that, while it would have been a nice catch, is a play he has to make if he is going to have any chance to make the 53-man roster.