The New York Giants lost to the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-10, in their first preseason game Friday night. What did we learn? Let's take a look.
The starters weren't good
All you needed to know about how Tom Coughlin felt about what he saw can be summed up this way. Quarterback Eli Manning and the first-team offense played four series, playing into the second quarter. The Giants didn't get a first down until that fourth series. Even after Manning was removed from the game in favor of Ryan Nassib the Giants left their starting offensive line in the game.
The Giants did not get a first down until Manning's fourth series. A three-and-out on offense that went for -2 yards and included an ugly swing pass on which the timing was terrible and Marshall Newhouse couldn't get the big block.
Second offensive series was also a three-and-out with a two-yard run and two incompletions. There was a miscommunication between Eli Manning and Odell Beckham and a failed play-action pass with Manning under pressure.
The third drive featured a face mask penalty on Ereck Flowers and a dropped pass by Preston Parker.
In those first three series the Giants ran nine plays, got 15 total yards and no first downs. Manning went 2-for-6 for one yard in those three drives. He finished 4-of-8 for 22 yards.
Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati starting offense played only one series.
Defensively, nothing good for the Giants on the first series. Cincinnati went 52 yards in six plays for an easy score. They got first downs on their first three plays, and victimized the Giants in two areas that have long been concerns. One is run defense, where Markus Kuhn got pushed out of a run play. The other is handling the short pass across the middle. They scored their touchdown on what looked a miscommunication in the inexperienced secondary, allowing Dalton to hit former Rutgers star Mohamed Sanu for a 3-yard run. Some things never change, no matter who is back there.
"It's not time to hit the panic button, but we've gotta play better," linebacker Jon Beason told sideline reporter Bruce Beck during the TV broadcast
Akeem Hunt, Orleans Darkwa want jobs
Yours truly projected the Giants to keep only three running backs on the 53-man roster. Hunt and Darkwa would like to change that. Hunt had a 70-yard kickoff return. Darkwa had nine carries for 52 yards in the first half, including a 20-yard run and a 1-yard touchdown.
.@Giants RB Akeem Hunt fields the kick.. And makes a lot of fast people look slow on this 70-yard return. #NYGvsCIN http://t.co/YiEooFNMkW— NFL (@NFL) August 15, 2015
Giants play, people get hurt
Can the Giants ever catch a break with these injuries? Mykkele Thompson (Achilles), Landon Collins (knee), Trumaine McBride (hamstring) and Jayron Hosley all left Friday's game with injuries. Thompson's injury appeared to be the most serious.
Bennett Jackson looks like a player
Jackson didn't do anything spectacular Friday night, but he didn't do anything dumb, either. Remember that this was his first game action at the safety position. He was around the ball, tackled well and didn't appear to make any major miscues. He also played both safety and slot corner, versatility the Giants could take full advantage of. Jackson had five solo tackles.
Special teams played well
The 70-yard kickoff return was not the only positive from the work by special teams on Friday night. The Giants gave up just 12 yards on five punt returns, an average of just 2.4 yards per return. That is a good sign. Josh Brown did miss a field goal, but it was a 53-yard effort.
Sloppy, but that's to be expected in the first preseason game. The Bengals are a team that has gone to the playoffs four times in five years. The Giants have missed the playoffs three straight times. What we saw is probably what we should have expected. The Giants have work to do to return to playing at a playoff level.