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New York Giants 25 – Cincinnati Bengals 23
The Giant took their show away from MetLife Stadium for the first time in 2019, as they matched up against the Cincinnati Bengals, led by the youngest coach in the NFL, Zac Taylor. The Giants opted to keep RB Saquon Barkley on the sideline as well as WR Sterling Shepard (thumb) and WR Golden Tate (concussion). Defensively they were without LB Alec Ogletree and CB Deandre Baker, among others.
Eli Manning, for the third week in a row, played one series. It was a long, 15 play drive that saw a nice run/pass balance but had some sloppiness to it. Cody Latimer dropped two passes, the second of which would have been a touchdown and the Giants had to settle on a short field goal to get the initial lead, 3-0. Daniel Jones took over the offense with the rest of the night’s first string still in. The two teams traded three-and-outs and then CIN QB Andy Dalton picked up chunk gain after chunk gain. He completed five straight passes, the last of which was a 26-yard touchdown to TE C.J. Uzomah on a perfectly placed ball, beating S Jabrill Peppers.
The sloppiness ensued as the second quarter began, as both sides of the ball were getting flagged too often. Perhaps the two best throws of the night came on the second drive of the quarter with Jones hitting Brittan Golden for 35 yards and Darius Slayton for 27 yards, which got them to the CIN 1-yard line. They were both big time throws respectively and this was on a drive where Jones got absolutely clocked by both CIN edge rushers at the same time. RB Rod Smith soon after burst through the pile for a 1-yard touchdown run, which gave NYG their lead back, 10-7.
The NYG defense remained iffy at best on the next drive with missed tackles and a huge hands-to-the-face by Olsen Pierre which negated a 3rd-down stop. This allowed the 12-play drive to cut out most of the remaining time on the clock in the first half and led to a 50-yard field goal that tied the game up.
The Giant gave the second half to the two QBs who are competing for the the number three job, Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta. The third quarter saw the two teams trade scoreless possessions multiple times. CIN was moving the ball well thanks to poor tackling by the backup NYG defenders, particularly at the second and third levels. Offensively the three standouts were Lauletta, RB Paul Perkins, and WR Brittan Golden.
CIN took a 17-10 lead early in the fourth quarter on a 3-yard pass from Jacob Dolegala to Damian Willis. NYG responded with a touchdown scoring drive of their own ending with a Jon Hilliman 1-yard dash across the goal line that saw him push the pile on the right side of the line. Lauletta was 3-out-of-4 for 66 yards, making passes on all levels of the route tree from both the pocket and on the move. NYG went for 2, because why not, and successfully got the 2 points via a pass to Alonzo Russell, who continued to impress on multiple levels in this game.
Golden, who had his loudest performance of the entire preseason/training camp process, returned a punt for a 68-yard score thanks largely to the aforementioned Russell throwing two outstanding downfield blocks. A strong receiving night and a punt return touchdown was going to possibly put his name in the mix for the last WR spot on the 53-man roster but a muffed punt, which resulted in a turnover, on the next drive put a damper on his night. CIN turned that fumble in to 7 points via another short pass from Dolegala, this time to Justin Hunter.
With a 25-23 lead and under three minutes left, NYG was able to burn the rest of the clock and walk away with their third preseason win in as many chances.
Giants win 25-23.
-Eli Manning played just one drive for the third straight week, going 4/8 for 41 yards. It was a 15-play drive that gained NYG the initial 3-0 lead. Manning continues to look sharp and more decisive than in the past which, as I have stated a few times, stems from the improved OL play in my opinion.
-Daniel Jones played the remainder of the first half, also continuing his superb preseason. He got the most snaps he’s had with the first string and he passed yet another test. He went 9/11 for 141 yards including two downfield passes for gains of 35 and 27 yards. Jones did get sacked, causing a fumble (his third of the preseason) but it did not result in a turnover. The glaring positive that came from that was the fact that on the very next play, he hit fellow rookie Darius Slayton for a 27-yard gain that was 1-yard shy of a touchdown. Jones is proving to be tough and even keel, an absolute must for success at the position in this league.
-The Alex Tanney vs. Kyle Lauletta competition is going to come down to the wire. Lauletta looked better in this one, as he was hitting his targets on all levels of the route tree from both the pocket and on the move. Two of his incompletions were drops by the receivers on nicely-placed balls. Tanney was overthrowing his deep passes and never really got into a flow.
-Saquon Barkley sat out again as it appears his first live action will be week 1 in Dallas. The running game altogether was ugly, as the middle of the NYG offensive line did not get enough movement. Wayne Gallman did show a nice cutback-and-burst run that gained 14 yards. He is the unquestioned backup and won’t need much more work.
-Paul Perkins had a solid night via the passing game, catching 3 balls for 27 yards showing excellent burst and balance on a couple of occasions. Rod Smith had a hard time, gaining 8 yards on 5 attempts. He is a guy who absolutely needs space to work with because he isn’t a quick-acceleration back. Jon Hilliman scored a touchdown in the second half and continues to compete for a final roster spot, although I don’t think it will happen for him.
-With the two top targets out (Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate), the opportunities for roster hopefuls continued to be present from start to finish. Brittan Golden was the one who jumped off the screen with receptions of 35 and 24 yards in addition to a punt return touchdown. His muffed punt that resulted in a turnover left a poor taste on the night overall, however. Not catching the ball is a major no-no.
-Cody Latimer had a night to forget, as he had two drops on balls that hit him square in the chest. The second one would have likely been a touchdown pass on the opening NYG drive and had that been a regular-season game, it would have been a big deal. Those are the kinds of mistakes that really swing the outcome of a game and it cannot happen. He has the opportunity of a lifetime in 2019, especially weeks 1 through 4.
-Reggie White vs. Alonzo Russell is an interesting roster battle. Russell has been here longer and continues to make things happen on special teams. We have noted the vertical speed and size, which is lacking elsewhere in this WR core. However, White keeps popping up during practice and it is carrying over into game action. White seems to have more natural pass catching ability and it was shown on the 36-yard downfield grab he brought in.
-Darius Slayton finally got his first game action with the club. I expect him to get a lot of reps next week because as I said back in the spring when the team drafted him, he is going to factor at some point this season. He is going to need some time but the speed and ball skill he possesses creates a much needed deep threat for this offense. He was 1-yard shy of a touchdown on his 27-yard catch.
-Brittan Golden has never really been a guy who I thought would make this team and even though he had the night of his life against CIN, I still don’t see the 30-year-old journeyman taking a spot away from the guys who are younger and bigger.
-Evan Engram played just 10 snaps, as this team is being more cautious than in the past with their top expected playmakers. Rhett Ellison had 2 catches for 26 yards, including some tough YAC. We know what we have in him.
-Is there more competition for that third TE spot than most are thinking? Scott Simonson had another drop and did not stand out as a blocker. If you are going to consistently drop the ball, you better dominate the trenches. Garrett Dickerson on the other hand caught 2 passes for 30 yards and showed sneaky YAC ability with his power and balance with the ball. He definitely has more play-maker in him. C.J. Conrad also caught his lone target on the night for 11 yards and is a prime candidate for the practice squad.
-The left side of the line had a night to forget, not something we want to see in week 3 of the preseason. Guard Will Hernandez was flagged three times and Nate Solder allowed a sack and pressure. Hernandez is still struggling with the late inside move, something that bit him hard multiple times in 2018. Solder just looks stiff and weak if I am going to be honest. I think the veteran in him can make up for some physical deficiencies but at some point this guy is going to need to anchor himself better. Too much lack of presence when moving laterally as a run blocker in addition to pass protection.
-Solder’s backup, Brian Mihalik, was back in game action and also had a rough night. He allowed a sack and a pressure as well. There isn’t much hope behind Solder, as Mihalik looks like his little brother in terms of stiffness and weakness.
-Kevin Zeitler and Mike Remmers were quiet for the most part. The latter allowed a pressure that would have been a sack had Solder’s man not reached Jones first on the fumble-causing sack.
-I continue to be impressed with the combination of Chad Slade and Nick Gates. I think these two are going to make the team because of the position-versatility they bring to the table.
-A much better night from rookie Dexter Lawrence in this one. He was more disruptive and mobile after initial contact, and he also batted a pass down. He came off on passing downs, which I expect to see more of because if there is one thing I keep on noticing, he isn’t very well conditioned. He tires easily and gets sluggish. He didn’t play much, the same with Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill.
-R.J. McIntosh looked active and disruptive despite not recording any tackles or pressures. He made the offense adjust to him on a couple of occasions, however the stoutness isn’t there yet. John Jenkins and Olsen Pierre, on the other hand, both held their ground and kept the LBs clean. Pierre was flagged for a costly illegal-hands-to-the-face pnealty though.
-Jake Ceresna had a pressure and despite not seeing a ton of time, has been very disruptive every week. I hope they have a spot for him on the practice squad.
-Rookie Oshane Ximines had a mini-breakout game. He recorded 2 sacks, the second of which he was untouched. He played crafty and efficient. The coaches are noting how far along he is with hand techniques and if the pass rush stalls at some point, he could end up being the feature guy – as early as week 1.
-Lorenzo Carter and Markus Golden played sparingly, not making much of an impact. Same with Kareem Martin who seems to be entrenched as the #3 guy, a role that is ideal for him.
-Alec Ogletree remained out with his calf injury, thus Ryan Connelly and Tae Davis got the starting nod again. Davis missed a tackle but also recorded a pressure on a well-timed and schemed blitz. His lack of size equally helps and hurts him, as does the athletic ability as he overshoots angles sometimes.
-Nate Stupar took a major step back in this game. He missed 4, yes 4, tackles. That is a number that is simply unacceptable for a linebacker. IF a decision needs to be made between him and B.J. Goodson, that’s an easy one if you are asking me. Goodson is showing he can, at least, still lay the lumber and be a reliable run defender. Stupar is a solid special teamer which I know the coaches love, but I don’t want him anywhere near the defense.
-Outstanding game for the LB that nobody is talking about, but everyone notices. Josiah Tauaefa led the team with 7 tackles and also recorded a sack. The knock on him coming out of college was a lack of speed but he is showing excellent reaction time and really good pursuit angles. He finishes what he starts too.
-Once again, don’t sleep on Jonathan Anderson. He had 2 tackles, including a TFL. I am thinking practice squad for him, especially if the team isn’t fully confident in Ogletree’s calf heading in to week 1. Those injuries can really linger.
-Corey Ballentine got the starting nod with Deandre Baker and Antonio Hamilton missing the game with respective injuries. He was picked on early and often and also missed 2 tackles. The talent is there and we all know it, but there are some serious growing pains with him. He is late to recognize which is understandable but once teams get deep into scouting this defense, he will be a focal point. I look forward to seeing how he responds. He did stay aggressive all night and finished with 7 tackles and a TFL.
-Ronald Zamort and Terrell Sinkfield both allowed short touchdown passes. The latter was a result of poor footwork and too much concentration on his hands, something he was getting grilled for at practice last Monday. I don’t think either of these guys have a shot at making the team unless the injuries to Baker, Beal, and Hamilton are serious.
-Jabrill Peppers was playing fired up again but that aggression hurt the defense as he bit hard on play-action and didn’t realize until it was too late that the CIN tight end got behind him. Dalton threw a perfect pass and it ended up putting 6 on the board for the bad guys. Other than that, he was solid across the board but those plays can’t happen.
-Kenny Ladler missed a tackle and gave up a long gain in the passing game, but on a play-to-play basis, I have been impressed with him this preseason. I think they have something in him. Sean Chandler recorded a sack and 2 tackles in addition to breaking up a pass. This coaching staff likes him a lot.
-P Johnny Towsend got 3 punts in while Riley Dixon got only one. I wonder if this has been an overlooked intra-team position battle.
-Brittan Golden got his opportunity to show what he has in the return game and he responded with a 68 yard touchdown but also muffed one that ended in a turnover.
-QB Daniel Jones, OL Nick Gates, LB Josiah Tauaefa
-LB Nate Stupar, WR Cody Latimer, OT Nate Solder
3 CLOSING THOUGHTS
-One can easily make the argument that this preseason could not have gone any better for Daniel Jones. I agree that his command of the offense, his accuracy, and his toughness all have checks on the QB list. However, we are now looking at 3 fumbles in 3 games. He has to clean that up.
-Why not another week of Jones vs. Manning debate? Sorry to say it but we are going to hear this non-stop until it happens. Two thoughts I want to leave you with: What does Manning do that Jones cannot? And why does this team have to be losing, or out of the playoff picture, for Jones to take the job? Eli Manning took the job from Kurt Warner in 2004 when Big Blue was 5-4.
-I don’t think I can remember a year where so many rookies are in line to start OR be major pieces to the rotation puzzle on defense. Ryan Connelly, Dexter Lawrence, Deandre Baker, and Oshane Ximines are going to be starting or playing in serious game situations within the first few weeks, if not week 1. Is that an indictment of a lack of talent on the team? Or do we finally have a legit scouting staff running the personnel department?