The New York Giants preseason is officially underway, and it sure did not start out pretty. Both the offense and defense struggled for Big Blue throughout Froiday night's 23-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. On offense, the passing game couldn't get going much at all, especially due to the struggles of the offensive line. Let's look at some of the post-game reaction from the Giants' locker room.
"Our tempo, our rhythm have got to be upgraded. Obviously we had some issues with protection," head coach Tom Coughlin said. "We have a lot of information to sort through on film tomorrow. We'll just see where we stand."
But, it wasn't just the linemen who struggled. Quarterback Eli Manning, preparing for a contract year, managed just one first down and 38 yards of total offense in four series.
"We need to be a little sharper," said Manning, who was 4-of-8 for 22 yards. "We definitely have room for improvement. That's what preseason's for, to figure out what you have to improve on and go do it."
The defense also struggled. The Bengals rushed for 225 yards on 5.4 yards per carry.
"I just think we were a step slow and a little hesitant. It almost seemed like we didn't adjust to the live situation as well," said defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins. "You would think that you get in the game, and it's live, and you turn up the speed and turn it up a notch, but it didn't really look like that. It looked like we were just kind of in practice mode defensively. It was frustrating because it felt we should have been eager to get this opportunity. We should have played faster and better."
Rookie defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa had two tackles and one quarterback hit but was also badly fooled on a couple of running plays.
"The things the coaches have been telling the team about the game have all been true," Odighizuwa said. "It's definitely faster (than in college), and guys are better. Guys are a lot stronger. Those are the things I wasn't necessary surprised by, but it was everything and more than what the coaches have been saying. There are a lot of things that took me by surprise that I did right and wrong."
The Giants did not have a lot of things go "the way they envisioned," said Coughlin, but there were a few bright spots. Orleans Darkwa has strengthened his case to be the fourth running back on the roster. Darkwa received some playing time late last season, but had a very solid showing against the Bengals, rushing for 52 yards and one touchdown on nine carries.
"I feel like I did a good job," said Darkwa. "Obviously, there's room for improvement on everything, even the small things that the media might not be able to pick up on. I think I did a good job, but obviously, just got to improve as much as possible.
"I feel like as far as being able to join that (running back) rotation, I feel like I'm capable of doing it and that's what I'm here to show."
Trevin Wade, a cornerback on the roster bubble, also made a nice impression tonight. Wade intercepted a pass deep in the Giants' red zone during the fourth quarter and returned it more than 60 yards into Cincinnati territory. He had three passes deflected and two tackles as well.
"I was real satisfied, but there are two plays I'd like to have back," Wade said. "I just have to watch film and figure out how to correct it."
Landon Collins, one of four injured Giants, didn't think his knee injury was anything major.
"I went for a tackle, and my teammate landed on top of my leg and just turned my leg inside," Collins said. "It's not bad at all. I mean, I can turn it. They checked it, it's fine. Just to be sure, we're going to get the MRI and see what it says, and how we're going to treat it.
"(I think it will be) short-term. I did this before in college one time, so it'll be a short-term thing. I was back from the injury in a week's time."
Akeem Hunt, an undrafted rookie running back out of Purdue, made a huge impact on special teams. Hunt returned a kickoff in the first quarter for 70 yards to the Cincinnati 35 yard line. If he continues to make an impact, the Giants may have to consider carrying five running backs on the 53-man roster.
"He did a lot. Obviously the kickoff return, a couple of nice runs. That's what I was looking for on the kickoff return," Coughlin said. "That was great to see, and I'll have to look and see if he could have gone all the way. It looked like he was going to go for a second."
But overall, the bright spots were few and far in between for the Giants in this contest, with Coughlin summing it up by saying the Giants "have a lot of work to do." Big Blue's next preseason game will be at MetLife Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 22, against the Jacksonville Jaguars.