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B.J. Goodson, New York Giants (August 20, 2016)

B.J. Goodson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Buffalo Bills 21 – New York Giants 0

Overview

There is no reason to panic. Yet. Most teams have games like this every now and then in both the preseason and regular season, where nothing goes right on one side of the ball. In most cases, one can write off or make excuses for such a preseason disappointment. But when you have a new head coach and a new offensive coordinator/play-caller on a team that hasn’t sniffed the playoffs in four years, red flags start getting raised.

Giants on Offense

The New York Giants played a preseason football game on August 20, 2016 and someone forgot to tell the offense. It was bad. Very bad.

  • Seven first downs. Seven.
  • 1-for-11 (9 percent) on third-down conversions.
  • 166 total net yards with 67 of those yards coming on one 4th quarter play.
  • 64 net yards passing.
  • 47 total offensive plays.
  • Four turnovers.
  • 20 minutes time of possession.
  • Zero points. Zero.
Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 20, 2016)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Quarterback

Eli Manning played four offensive series in which the team netted 23 yards and one first down. He finished the game 4-of-9 for 44 yards.

Ryan Nassib continues to be dreadful. He entered the game in the second quarter and played into the fourth quarter. He didn’t complete his first pass until near the end of the third quarter, missing on his first seven attempts. Nassib finished the game 2-of-12 for 25 yards with one lost fumble.

Not to be “out done”, Logan Thomas had a “perfect” completion percentage, connecting twice with Giants and twice with Bills, finishing the game 2-of-4 for 17 yards and two interceptions.

Running Backs

It was difficult to judge this group based on the piss-poor blocking by the offensive line and tight ends. Probably the most interesting item to note is that the coaching staff isn’t giving Orleans Darkwa much of a chance. He had only a handful of snaps and no touches.

Bobby Rainey broke off a 67-yard run in the 4th quarter, where he showed nice patience but not a lot of breakaway speed despite the big gain. Aside from this play, Giants backs gained 32 yards on 14 carries for a terrible 2.3 yards-per-run. Andre Williams fumbled the ball away, but he had an impressive, physical 14-yard run to start the third quarter.

Paul Perkins failed to pick up the blitz on the sack-forced fumble-turnover that set up the Bills final touchdown. “The sack fumble was a protection adjustment that was on Paul Perkins,” said Ben McAdoo. Perkins also dropped a pass and had a false start. Not a good day for the rookie.

Wide Receivers

Victor Cruz (groin) and Geremy Davis (hamstring) did not play.

Giants wide receivers were targeted 19 times, but only five of those passes were completed. So in two preseason games, Giants wide receivers have only caught 10 passes. Ten. In the attempt to find a third receiver in case Cruz is done, thus far no one is impressing.

The “lucky” five who had a reception: Odell Beckham (22 yards), K.J. Maye (17 yards), Kadron Booone (11 yards), Tavarres King (8 yards), and Darius Powe (6 yards). Sterling Shepard was targeted once and shut out. Same with Myles White and Anthony Dable. Roger Lewis was targeted five times with no catches, including one drop.

Tight Ends/Offensive Line

Left guard Justin Pugh (shoulder) and tight end/fullback Will Johnson (burner) did not play.

I’m grouping these two unit together this week as their pathetic blocking up front was the primary reason for the shit show on offense. One of the beautiful elements of football is that a successful play is often the result of all eleven players performing their independent tasks as assigned. At the same time, one of the most frustrating elements is that if one of those 11 players – particularly a blocker – messes up, it can destroy the entire play. On Saturday, someone seemed to screw up on almost every play, be it with penalties, missed blocks by offensive linemen, and missed blocks by tight ends.

The key question is why was everyone so off? This is basically the same unit that was a top 10 offense last year. This offense played against the Bills in Buffalo last year during the regular season. Was it a comfort issue for the guys up front because Pugh was not in the line-up? Was it the play calling? Were the players simply not playing with the same level of intensity and focus as the Bills?

On the Giants first possession, on 2nd-and-11, it appeared that RT Marshall Newhouse simply failed to make contact on the linebacker who nailed the Giants running back for a loss. But Newhouse had words with TE Will Tye after the play, suggesting that Tye, who was playing up-back on the play, failed his assignment. Either way, someone messed up. After picking on the first down on 3rd-and-12, the Giants lost another yard when TE Larry Donnell simply whiffed on his man. Two plays later, RG John Jerry was flagged with a false start.

On the next series, LT Ereck Flowers was flagged for holding sabotaging the drive before it even had a chance to start. He gave up a pressure on Manning two plays later. The third series was also sabotaged when center Weston Richburg was flagged with holding. It’s difficult to overcome 1st-and-20 on back-to-back series. On 3rd-and-16, both tackles and LG Bobby Hart got beat and Manning was sacked. Manning’s fourth and final series ended on 3rd-and-2 when he was pressured as Jerry and Newhouse let one guy shoot between them.

Donnell whiffed on at least three run blocks and had trouble sustaining on others. He also had issues in pass protection on a Ryan Nassib rollout.

The second team offensive line that started the third quarter featured RT Bobby Hart, RG Emmett Cleary, OC Brett Jones, LG Ryan Seymour, and LT Byron Stingily. After a nice 14-yard run, Hart was promptly flagged for illegal formation on the next snap. Hart did a poor job in pass protection on this play as well as the next play. The Giants tried to run the ball with this unit without much success. Again, individual breakdowns led to issues, such as one right-side play that was stopped from the backside when Seymour whiffed on his block. Later, Cleary moved to right tackle, Adam Gettis played left guard, and Dillon Farrell played center. With this new line, Seymour had problems again, allowing his man to nail Andre Williams for a 3-yard loss. On the very next snap, Stingily, Seymour, and Farrell all immediately fell off of their blocks and Williams was surrounded by Bills (Matt LaCosse also had an impossible angle to attempt to block someone on this play). Farrell later couldn’t handle the nose tackle over his head on another botched run. They all struggled in pass protection too. And so it went. If you can’t block, you can’t run successful offensive plays. As far as I can tell, aside from Hart (and the jury is still out on Hart), there isn’t a legitimate NFL-caliber back-up on this roster. They all looked weak and like their feet are stuck in mud. The Bills just ran through or around these guys.

Giants on Defense

I’m not in a giving mood. The defense was OK. Were they put in a difficult situation because of the impotent offense? Yes. The three Bills scoring drives started at the Bills 48-yard line, Giants 49-yard line, and Giants 19-yard line. But the defense did allow three touchdowns on each of those possessions – all in the first half. In addition, the Bills drove 64 yards on another possession that ended with a fumble into the end zone.

Romeo Okwara, New York Giants (August 20, 2016)

Romeo Okwara

Defensive Line

DE Kerry Wynn (groin) did not play.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa lined up at right defensive tackle on 3rd-and-13 on the Bills first drive and immediately pressured the quarterback to disrupt the play and force a three-and-out. Olivier Vernon shot past the left tackle on an inside move to sack the quarterback in the second quarter. On the next snap, Vernon did an excellent job of holding the back to a 1-yard gain on 3rd-and-16.

Damon Harrison recovered a fumble in the end zone. He was a force against the run.

Among the back-ups, Louis Nix smacked the quarterback on one pass play. Jermelle Cudjo made a nice play defeating his man and tackling the running back in pursuit for no gain. Greg Milhouse made a couple of nice plays late when the Bills were running out the clock. Romeo Okwara impressed again. He caused an incompletion with one pressure and QB hit and later had a sack. Okwara also was a factor on Cooper Taylor’s interception. He was good against the run too – the Giants have something there in Okwara.

Linebackers

J.T. Thomas (hamstring) did not play.

Jonathan Casillas (4 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 pass defense) had his second strong game in a row. He demonstrated nice pursuit on an end around in the 1st quarter that lost four yards. Later in the quarter, he nailed the back for no gain on an inside run. Casillas did have issues in coverage with running back LeSean McCoy on back-to-back plays in the second quarter – one 32-yard play overturned because McCoy was out-of-bounds and a 23-yard gain on a 3rd-and-8 check down.

Keenan Robinson lost track of the tight end in coverage on a 3rd-and-9 play that picked up 59 yards. Robinson later made a nice play against the run on the Bills second scoring drive by shooting the gap. He later tackled the back for a 3-yard loss on an outside run. Robinson overran a swing pass however, allowing extra yardage, and then was flagged with a face mask penalty.

Jasper Brinkley and Kelvin Sheppard continue to compete for the starting middle linebacker spot. As expected, Brinkley looked good against the run but had some issues against the pass, biting on a play-fake for a 15-yard gain to the tight end. Brinkley missed a tackle in the backfield on 2nd-and-1 but blew up a screen play on the next snap.

Another quiet game for Devon Kennard who had a chance to knock the ball away or intercept it on a 14-gain gain on the second scoring drive.

B.J. Goodson can hit; when he tackles you, you feel it. But he continues to struggle in coverage as he was lucky a deep ball to the tight end was overthrown on a play where he was beat.

Defensive Backs

Cornerbacks Eli Apple (leg) and Leon McFadden (leg) did not play.

Darian Thompson did a great job of attacking a sweep and nailing the running back for a 7-yard loss on the second offensive snap of the game. Later in the quarter, Landon Collins made two nice plays on the goal line. First, he kept the scrambling quarterback out of the end zone by quickly pursuing towards the sideline. Then Collins forced a fumble that was recovered in the end zone by the Giants. Running back LeSean McCoy caught a 13-yard touchdown pass against Thompson on 3rd-and-11 early in the second quarter. Collins blew up an outside running play that lost three yards on the second scoring drive. Collins was very active against the run.

Cornerback Janoris Jenkins let the quarterback get away from him on a 3rd-and-9 blitz, and the Bills made the Giants pay with a 59-yard completion. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC) knocked away an out-pass late in the first quarter. However, DRC may have knocked away a sure interception by Thompson on an errant deep pass. Jenkins got beat for 12 yards on a 2nd-and-13 slant that set up the second touchdown.

Leon Hall’s defensive holding penalty on a 3rd-and-3 incomplete pass kept the Bills second scoring drive alive. Hall was later flagged with a second holding penalty too on an incomplete 2nd-and-15 pass.

Donte Deayon (who was beat) and Nat Berhe (who was late getting over) were lucky a deep ball was overthrown. Deayon got beat for what looked like a touchdown later on this drive, but he prevented the receiver from completing the act of catching the football as he was forced out-of-bounds. But Deayon got burned for a touchdown on the same play on the next drive after a turnover. Deayon also gave up a 31-yard deep sideline pass in the 4th quarter despite decent coverage.

Trevin Wade was beat on the successful 2-point conversion after the quarterback had a lot of time to survey the field. Wade also got beat for 11 yards on a shallow crossing route on 3rd-and-9 in the 4th quarter.

Justin Currie played more than expected after Mykkele Thompson left with a concussion early. Currie couldn’t make the tackle in the backfield, leading to a 9-yard gain on one play. Currie then failed to get over in time on a 21-yard completion two plays later. Cooper Taylor picked off an errant deep pass in the fourth quarter.

Giants on Special Teams

Brad Wing was the “star” of the game for the Giants with eight punts for 384 yards (48 yards per punt), including two downed inside the 10-yard line. Long snapper Zak DeOssie was flagged with a false start.

Tom Obarski missed a 27-yard field goal, which does not bode well for his roster status.

Bobby Rainey returned three punts for 36 yards, including a 25-yard return. Dwayne Harris returned two punts for 18 yards, including a 14-yard return. Rainey had one kickoff return for 21 yards. He came precariously close to causing a turnover when he didn’t field a short kickoff. Joe Powell was flagged for unnecessary roughness, wiping out a decent Rainey punt return.

Punt coverage was better this week, although the Giants did give up two 11-yard returns. Overall, the Bills returned five punts for 26 yards (5.2 yard average). The Giants (Josh Brown) kicked off once and it resulted in a touchback.

(New York Giants at Buffalo Bills, August 20, 2016)
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Ben McAdoo, New York Giants (August 20, 2016)

Ben McAdoo – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SUNDAY BEN MCADOO CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants Head Coach Ben McAdoo addressed the media by conference call on Sunday to discuss the team’s 21-0 preseason loss to the Buffalo Bills. Coach McAdoo provided an injury update on wide receiver Dwayne Harris (knee) and provided an update on a few injured Giants who missed the game.

McAdoo: Good afternoon, we’ll start out with what we did well in the game. Defensively, I thought the first 15 plays, first quarter or so, there was some tremendous effort and physicality present on tape. Offensively, we improved our pocket integrity. From a special teams perspective, the punt team, our protection was good, releases and coverage patterns were good. We did a nice job pinning them down in their own territory a few times.

What we need to improve defensively, we need to continue building towards playing a full game the first week in Dallas and our sudden change stops. Offensively, we have to do a better job taking care of The Duke, our run blocking unit needs to improve assignments, fundamentals, and physicality. We made some progress with our long-stride, short-stride but we still have some work to do there.

The penalties really put us in bad situations, we had 10 penalties in the ballgame, and it put us behind the chains on offense. It gave them some first downs defensively and negatively changed the field on us on on special teams. Where do we go from here? We’ve got a lot of work to do, so we need to set our jaw and get back to work. We’re going to have plenty of opportunity this week to develop our fundamentals, physicality and building up for the first game. We’ve seen some great things in practice that haven’t carried over to the games yet, but we still have some work to do.

Q: What did you see from your first team offensive line and tight ends?

A: I think, just like I said earlier,  I think it’s time its fundamentals and physicality need to pick up.

Q: What can you do to improve the physicality in practice?

A:  I think there’s some signs in practice, the half-line drill, and the 9-on-8 and 8-on-7, the physicality is there and it shows up. We have to carry that over and we have to keep working on it in practice and carry it over and it’s got to show up on game day. A lot of the things, and a lot of the mistakes that we’re making, we’re not making in practice, we just need to have the confidence to carry those over to game day.

Q: Will there be any immediate personnel changes, in regards to first teams?

A: We’re going to give guys opportunities to compete, but at the same point in time we’re not going to have any knee-jerk reactions, no one’s panicking here. We’re not going to rush to judgement on anything. We’re going to go out there, we’re going to get the pads on and we’re going to get to work.

Q: Is Victor Cruz going to practice tomorrow?

A:  Yes.

Q: What’s the plan with him in general?

A: We’re going to put him back out there. He got some work in today, as he did in the pregame yesterday. We’re going to put him back out there and we’re going to let him work back into it.

Q: Can you describe what tomorrow’s practice is going to entail?

A:  Tomorrow’s practice will be, we’re just bringing them back off of a game, we’ll get some conditioning in early in the practice and get a jump start on the next opponent and the corrections.

Q: Tuesday will be the first real, true football practice?

A:  Yes… we want to take them through a mock game week.

Q: Do you expect Victor Cruz to have limitations?

A:  We’re going to put him out there, we’re going to practice. If we have to limit him, then we’ll limit him. If not, he’s going to go.

Q: Any update on Dwayne Harris?

A: Dwayne Harris had an MRI on his knee. His knee checked out fine. I think he is a little bit sore, so we will take a look at him when he gets here tomorrow. He did have some treatment today.

Q: How about the other guys who traveled but didn’t play? Are Pugh and Apple going to go this week?

A: Yeah, we are going to put – Justin is going to jump back in and Eli will jump back in with individual and we will progress from there.

Q: How much do you think Ryan Nassib’s struggles these past two games have been mental and how much do you think have been physical?

A: It is probably a combination of both. I still have confidence in Ryan. I know he can go out there and play at a high level. We need to run the ball better around him and he needs to make some throws and then we need to make some plays. We can’t be dropping balls out there, and we need to protect him.

Q: Do you intend to bring in any other kickers to compete for the Week 1 job, or are you still giving Tom Obarski every opportunity to get that job?

A: Yeah, you never say never. I haven’t had time to sit down, I just talked about the game with Jerry (Reese), but I haven’t had time to sit down and talk about those things, but you never say never.

Q: Are you any closer to deciding who your middle linebacker is going to be?

A: There is a good competition going on right now. B.J. (Goodson) made a good push yesterday, but Kelvin (Sheppard)  and Jasper (Brinkley) are battling it out.

Q: What did you see from Sheppard and Jasper yesterday?

A: Kelvin, again, he is an instinctive guy and has a good nose for the ball. That showed up again yesterday. He communicates and he gets football. Jasper had a nice play on the screen, they tried to run a ladder screen there versus a pressure and he blew it up and made a nice play. That was a big play for us.

Q: How did you like Tavarres King running with the first team offense?

A: Tavarres did some good things. He ran a nice slant route. I would like to see him leave a little more room on the go on the sideline, but Tavarres has had a nice camp and he is a guy that is earning the trust and confidence of the quarterbacks and it was good to get him out there running early.

Q: What did you think of how Bobby Hart did?

A: Bobby got better. He got better playing inside and playing tackle. Again, we need to see more consistency from him, but he is a guy that stepped up, jumped in when his number was called and he did improve.

Q: Where does Orleans Darkwa stand in the grand scheme of the running backs at the moment?

A: Yeah, Orleans is a guy that has value for us as a back and a special teamer. We wanted to make sure that we are doing our due diligence evaluating the entire roster, so he didn’t get as many snaps yesterday. His work load will have a chance to pick up here shortly.

Q: You had an opportunity to look at the tape. I know you mentioned that Paul Perkins needed to get over there quicker on that blitz pick up. Has anything changed with that?

A: There was an adjustment made. He needs to come over and block the nickel and he had a penalty which there is no excuse for from a back. He had a rough day yesterday. He has got to rebound.

Q: How much of that is just a typical thing for a rookie? Is that usually the hardest thing you consider for a rookie running back to pick up?

A: Yeah, protections are a challenge. No question about it, and especially when you are making adjustments, you are on the road and you are playing a defense that is multiple, it magnifies the issues, but listen, Paul is going to be just fine. He needs to come in, he needs to work at it, he needs to work on his mistakes like everyone else and he needs to improve.

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Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 20, 2016)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

BUFFALO BILLS 21 – NEW YORK GIANTS 0…
The New York Giants were shutout by the Buffalo Bills 21-0 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York on Saturday. The Giants are now 0-2 in the preseason under new Head Coach Ben McAdoo.

The offense was pathetic, accruing only 166 total net yards, 64 net passing yards, and seven first downs. And 67 of those yards came on one run by back-up running back Bobby Rainey in the 4th quarter. In four series, the starting offense gained only 23 net yards and one first down. Both pass and run blocking was terrible and the Giants turned the football over four times. The only time the offense seriously threatened – in the fourth quarter – kick Tom Obarski missed a 27-yard field goal.

The individual offensive stats also tell a horrific story.

Eli Manning completed 4-of-9 passes for 44 yards, Ryan Nassib 2-of-12 passes for 25 yards and one lost fumble, and Logan Thomas 2-of-4 passes for 17 yards and two interceptions. Rainey had 70 yards rushing (with 67 yards coming on one late run). Four other running backs carried the ball 14 times for 29 yards with one lost fumble (by Andre Williams).

The Bills scored all of their points in the first half, with their scoring drives starting from the Bills 48-yard line, Giants 49-yard line, and Giants 19-yard line – the latter coming after Nassib’s fumble with 24 seconds left before halftime. Overall, the Giants defense allowed 343 total net yards (70 rushing and 273 passing) with 216 of those yards coming in the first half.

Safety Landon Collins saved more humiliation when he forced a fumble on 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the first quarter. The ball was recovered by defensive tackle Damon Harrison in the end zone. Cornerback/safety Cooper Taylor also intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins, defensive end Olivier Vernon, and defensive end Romeo Okwara each had sacks.

Video lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
Not playing were WR Victor Cruz (groin), WR Geremy Davis (hamstring – did not make trip), TE Will Johnson (burner – did not make trip), LG Justin Pugh (shoulder), DE Kerry Wynn (groin – did not make trip), LB J.T. Thomas (hamstring – on the PUP – did not make trip), CB Eli Apple (strained leg muscle), and CB Leon McFadden (bruised lower leg – did not make trip).

WR Dwayne Harris (knee, x-rays were negative) and S Mykkele Thompson (concussion) were injured in the game. No word yet on the severity of the injuries or how much time either will miss.

POST-GAME REACTIONS…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Ben McAdoo and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Ben McAdoo (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • RT Marshall Newhouse (Video)
  • OL Bobby Hart (Video)
  • DE Olivier Vernon (Video)
  • S Darian Thompson (Video)

ARTICLES…

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Weston Richburg, New York Giants (August 12 2016)

Weston Richburg – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Game Preview: New York Giants at Buffalo Bills, August 20, 2016

THE STORYLINE:
Normally the two most important preseason games for the starters in terms of regular-season preparation are the third and second preseason games. Minus a number of injured starters, we should get a much better impression of the starting offensive and defensive units this week. In addition, Rex Ryan usually takes preseason games more seriously.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • LB J.T. Thomas (hamstring – on the PUP – did not make trip)
  • WR Victor Cruz (groin)
  • WR Geremy Davis (hamstring – did not make trip)
  • TE Will Johnson (burner – did not make trip)
  • LG Justin Pugh (shoulder)
  • DE Kerry Wynn (groin – did not make trip)
  • CB Eli Apple (strained leg muscle)
  • CB Leon McFadden (bruised lower leg – did not make trip)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
This week the Giants offense will benefit from the addition of its two best players: Eli Manning and Odell Beckham. Unfortunately, the clock is ticking on Victor Cruz and the coaching staff must now operate under the assumption that Cruz will not be a factor for at least the first part of the season and perhaps beyond. Making matters worse is that the favorite to replace Cruz in three-wide receiver sets – Geremy Davis – has been missing valuable practice and now game time with a hamstring injury. Keep in mind that Davis is still pretty darn green.

So the attention really shifts to other green receivers such as Tavarres King, Roger Lewis, and Darius Powe – three who didn’t get much of a chance to impress last week due to crappy quarterbacking from Ryan Nassib. Unless one of these three or Myles White shines and gains the trust of Ben McAdoo and Eli Manning, the third receiver on opening day may remain Dwayne Harris. In this offense, the third receiver is a de facto starter.

On the running back front, it appears Rashad Jennings is 1a and Shane Vereen 1b. Paul Perkins will also make the 53-man roster. Bobby Rainey played earlier than expected last week. He’s vying with Andre Williams and Orleans Darkwa for possibly one roster spot. Personally, I’d like to see a heavy dose of Williams and Darkwa in order to get a better read on those two.

At tight end, Larry Donnell and Will Tye seem to be locks. Matt LaCosse has received a lot of attention from the coaches but he’s battling the ultra versatile Will Johnson (who is out this game) and rookie draft pick Jerell Adams for a roster spot. The Giants may keep four tight ends, but someone has to go other than Ryan Malleck unless the Giants ditch Nikita Whitlock and use Johnson at fullback too.

Justin Pugh (shoulder) made the trip but it is unknown if he will play. If he doesn’t, Bobby Hart will have a busy night, playing with the first-unit at left guard and then the second-unit at right tackle. The starters remain pretty much set. What we don’t know is – other than Hart – who the back-ups will be. There are a bunch of journeymen no-names in this group who have yet to inspire a lot of confidence. Depth on the offensive line is a serious concern.

On a final note, Ryan Nassib simply stunk last week. He’s a lock to make the roster, but he has to play with a lot more confidence and credibility.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The early returns with the starting unit were impressive last week, but that was only one game against a suspect offense. That said, if the Giants defensive line performs as well as it did last week throughout this upcoming season, the Giants are in good shape. The front was tough against the run and able to pressure the passer without bringing extra rushers. That’s huge.

The Giants also appear to have a nice battle brewing at back-up defensive end. Owamagbe Odighizuwa and Romeo Okwara not only flashed as pass rushers, but they showed a great deal of versatility by being able to play defensive tackle in pass-rush situations. Kerry Wynn – who was doing some nice things at camp before getting hurt – has missed a lot of time with a groin injury. Even Stansly Maponga and Mike Rose have flashed some.

Depth at defensive tackle behind Damon Harrison and Johnathan Hankins is more shaky. Jay Bromley is finally back after late offseason ankle surgery. The Giants very much need him to come into his own this year. Greg Milhouse, Jermelle Cudjo, Davon Coleman, Louis Nix, and Montori Hughes are probably battling for one roster spot.

It’s still not known who the Giants middle linebacker and principle defensive front-seven signal-caller will be on opening night. Kelvin Sheppard and Jasper Brinkley are the leading contenders. Jonathan Casillas has taken full advantage of J.T. Thomas’ (hamstring) absence and appears firmly entrenched as a starter and nickel linebacker. Keenan Robinson also has seen a lot of time with the nickel defense. We get our first look at him this week as he missed last week with an injury. Devon Kennard was very quiet in the first preseason game. B.J. Goodson had a mostly positive game and was in on a lot of tackles, but he needs to show more in coverage. This appears to be a deep group, but are there any consistent play makers?

The secondary is shaking up to be a strong unit. Eli Apple (leg) made the trip but it remains to be seen if he plays. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins weren’t even tested in the preseason opener. Ben McAdoo said rookie free safety Darian Thompson was virtually perfect in his assignments. I’d like to see more flash out of Landon Collins. The Giants invested a high #2 in him. The nickel corner spot has been dramatically upgraded with the addition of Leon Hall. With Leon McFadden out, Donte Deayon should see a lot of action, and possibly Bennett Jackson, at corner. I still don’t have a good sense of whether or not the Giants have an NFL-caliber back-up safeties. Nat Berhe, Cooper Taylor, Mykkele Thompson, and Andrew Adams all had their ups and downs last week. This is an important game for them.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
The one-game suspension of Josh Brown and ensuing media controversy about his domestic violence past may be upsetting the apple cart here. Is Tom Obarski the guy you want kicking against the Cowboys with the game on the line in the opener? Will the media storm surrounding Brown die away or force the team’s hand? Often unrecognized by fans is that the Giants have a heck of a punter in Brad Wing now. That was a good trade last year. Team punt coverage last week was very shoddy and needs to improve.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Ben McAdoo on the Second Preseason Game: “It’s good to get the first group out there. A chance to knock the rust off. We played a few snaps in that first game but to get out there with Eli and Odell and get the whole group together and work the instincts. Anticipation is exciting.”

THE FINAL WORD:
The Giants were too sloppy last week. Hopefully that starts getting cleaned up as we progress towards the regular-season opener. Mike Sullivan called the plays. Will that continue? Who will be the middle linebacker? Who is the #3 wide receiver on this team? If Landon Collins or Darian Thompson get hurt, who is the primary back-up at safety?

Aug 192016
 
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