The New York Giants enter the 2015 season expecting to have a high-powered offense capable of scoring droves of points. Many expect that offense to have to carry a defense devoid of superstars and still developing an identity under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
So, what happened to that high-flying scoring machine in the Giants' first preseason game? Well, the Giants came out against the Cincinnati Bengals with a big thud. Three-and-outs on their first three possessions, one first down in four possessions with Eli Manning in the game. No points from the first group. and a total of 38 yards and one measly first down before Manning exited.
Things didn't get appreciably better the rest of the night, as the Giants totaled only 224 yards of total offense and 13 first downs to 432 and 29 for the Bengals.
Well, you have to start somewhere.
So, what are the Giants looking for from their offense in Saturday's second preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, who is prone to simple, direct answers, said "execution."
"We made some progress this week. We were disappointed in our performance last week. We had two productive days of practice, got to the game, and it seemed like we were a little flat," McAdoo said. "The details, the play speed wasn't there, and we addressed the issue head on and we're working to fix it. You don't fix mistakes overnight, it takes time to do that, and we're working at it every day.
"We're not out there to chase numbers, that's not good offense. We're out there to execute, put ourselves in position, to take care of the ball and put points on the board."
Here are some things to watch Saturday against the Jaguars.
Right side of the offensive line
The right side of the line has been a revolving door all week. John Jerry and Marshall Newhouse will start again at right guard and right tackle, respectively, but the Giants will try to take a long look at Geoff Schwartz at both spots. Brandon Mosley (back) missed Thursday's practice and his status for Saturday is unknown.
"I need to see Geoff play," McAdoo said. "He's coming off of a major injury. He needs to get back out on the field and needs to do it on a consistent basis."
The Giants need to settle that side of the line. To do that, they need to know if Schwartz, coming back from a broken ankle and perhaps still not completely healthy, is going to be able to help them.
Wide receiver competition
Victor Cruz won't play. Neither will Rueben Randle. Odell Beckham will make a cameo, but probably play only a few snaps. That means players Geremy Davis, Corey Washington, James Jones, Preston Parker and Julian Talley, fighting for rosters spots, will have a big opportunity.
"One of the things my coaches used to say in the past, ‘You want to never know that the starting guy is missing,'" Davis said. "So I'm trying to make sure I do that good of a job, that you can't even tell the difference. I'm just trying to fill in the role of some talented wide receivers, and just establish trust from the quarterbacks and just do my part.
"Once someone gets hurt, you're next in line. You never know, that second-string guy, if someone goes down in the first group, that preparation you did with second-string can help you out with first-string as well."
Get the ball down the field
Eli Manning's longest completion against the Bengals was a screen pass to Andre Williams that went for 16 yards. Tom Coughlin wants to see the ball thrown down the field more. Of course, Coughlin would also like to see Manning throwing it to his first-team receivers.
"I'll continue to say what I said yesterday. They have to practice for us to advance in terms of the passing game — the timing, the significance of knowing exactly when people are reacting to coverage and adjusting their routes, etc. That all has to be seen through the eyes of the quarterback, and it's been very rare that we've had the whole group out there to practice with," Coughlin said. "But there are some other guys that are getting a lot of time and will get a lot of time this weekend, and in the long run, it's going to be good for our team."
At least one good drive
The Giants didn't have one while Manning was in the game against Cincinnati. A sustained drive for a touchdown would be a nice step in the right direction.