All it took was 60 minutes of atrocious football to wipe out nearly most of the trust and goodwill created by Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll during the 2022 NFL season. Understandably, fans are now back to questioning everything. Why shouldn’t they? Twelve years of shoddy football and getting embarrassed by division rivals on national television will do that.
Too harsh? Too short-sighted? Have some patience?
You had an entire offseason to prepare for the opening game, against an opponent that was one of your measuring sticks for progress. And the result was 40-0? It doesn’t get worse than that. In the entire 100-year history of the sport, there have been few more embarrassing results than that. The Dallas Cowboys were literally laughing at the Giants on the sidelines. Laughing.
The entire New York Giants franchise has a lot of work to do if they are going to regain any respect and trust.
THE INJURY REPORT:
- WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee – doubtful)
- TE Darren Waller (hamstring – probable)
- LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring – questionable)
- OT Matt Peart (elbow – probable)
- OLB Azeez Ojulari (hamstring – doubtful)
- LB Cam Brown (ankle – probable)
- CB Deonte Banks (calf – probable)
- CB Cor’Dale Flott (hamstring – probable)
- S Gervarrius Owens (hamstring – probable)
- PK Graham Gano (ankle – probable)
NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
In the entire offseason, the Giants made ONE significant addition to the offensive line, the drafting of John Michael Schmitz in the second round. The Giants did not draft another offensive lineman; they didn’t even sign an undrafted offensive lineman. In free agency, the team signed reserve centers J. C. Hassenauer (who is on IR) and Sean Harlow (who is on Dallas’ practice squad). The argument was made they were going to develop the young players they had here. Thus far, that plan has failed miserably. The unit that was considered the weak spot of the entire team just played one of the worst games at the position in franchise history, which is saying something given some of the offensive lines this team has fielded in the past century.
I would argue the final score wasn’t the worst thing that happened on Sunday night. It was the play of Evan Neal. If Neal wasn’t the seventh overall player taken in the draft, he would probably be benched by now. Is it a lack of agility, confidence, technique? The fact that he missed two critical weeks of training camp with a concussion? Who knows? We can only go by what we see and that ain’t pretty. So far, the “sure thing” offensive tackle in the 2022 NFL draft has been a bust. From this game on, he’s fighting to remain in the NFL.
Some legitimate excuses can be made for Neal. Only one can be made for Mark Glowinksi’s atrocious performance. Glowinski was signed in free agency last year not to be a stud, but simply to be a steadying, veteran presence at right guard. In 2022, he was a bit too up and down, not living up to his 3-year, $18 million contract as the first free agent Joe Schoen signed. On Sunday night, he was an utter disaster, playing his worst game in his solid nine-year career. What is going on? I have no idea. It’s not his age. Glowinksi is 31 years old.
The only excuse for all of these guys is just how little they played together in the summer. I think the Giants made a mistake not settling on their starting unit much earlier in camp. I also think they made a mistake not playing them more in the preseason. Let’s hope that is the case because the alternative theories are far worse to contemplate.
OK, this is the offensive preview and I’m on paragraph five and still talking about the offensive line. We all know why. If the offensive line can’t block, nothing else matters. The Giants spent much of their resources this offseason re-signing Daniel Jones and upgrading the weapons around him. The opening night result? 14 first downs. 173 total yards. 63 net passing yards. Again, 63 net passing yards.
Who is playing quarterback and who he is throwing to doesn’t matter a lick if the offensive line can’t pass block for more than one second. It just doesn’t. You can only game plan so much. Talent and execution will win the day.
Offensive Line Coach Bobby Johnson has said over and over that who plays and who doesn’t is based player performance. He repeated that line a few times this offseason. “The players make the choice for us.” It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens here if the right side of the offensive line doesn’t dramatically improve. At the same time, the injury to Andrew Thomas certainly complicates matters.
The Cardinals are not to be taken lightly on the defensive side of the football. On opening day, their defensive gave the Washington Commanders fits with six sacks, six tackles for losses, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries (including one for a defensive touchdown), and one interception. Their head coach, Jonathan Gannon, was the defensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles last year. He knows how to play the Giants.
NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
Wink Martindale and his defensive players are very fortunate that the media and fans are focusing almost exclusively on the Giants’ offensive woes this week. Because the defense laid an egg on Sunday night too. The yardage figures were subdued mainly because Dallas had fewer plays and offensive possessions than the Giants. Nevertheless, the defense allowed five scoring drives, including three rushing touchdowns. Dallas was 6-of-13 (46 percent) on third down and 1-of-2 on fourth down. The Giants had no sacks only hit the quarterback three times. They did not create a turnover.
Being down 16-0 in the first quarter had to take an emotional toll, but good defenses have to rise up. If your opponent makes a play on special teams or on defense, you need to respond in kind. Easier said than done? Sure, but that’s what good defenses do. Where was Bobby Okereke, Azeez Ojulari, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Leonard Williams, etc.? Make a play.
The Cardinals are not good on offense. Career back-up Joshua Dobbs is the starting quarterback. He’s started three games in the NFL, with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Against the Commanders, he did complete 21-of-30 passes, but for only 132 yards and no touchdowns. He was also sacked three times and fumbled three times (losing two). Arizona running backs rushed for 58 yards (receivers had more success on three carries).
In a game where the New York offense may struggle again, the Giants defense needs to dominate this game. Create turnovers and opportunities for the offense. No excuses. At least perform as well as Washington’s defense did in holding Arizona to 210 yards of offense.
NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
At this point, Thomas McGaughey should be coaching for his job. The blocked field goal opened the flood gates and got the Giants’ best offensive player hurt. Graham Gano, the team’s best special teams player, also got his ankle rolled.
It’s time to keep score. McGaughey is 0-1 in 2023. And his press conference with the media on Thursday suggests he knows he’s on the spot.
FROM THE GENERAL MANAGER:
I’m simply going to use the same quote I used last week, as it is even more appropriate this week.
Joe Schoen on the 2023 season: “We haven’t played a game yet. So, we’ll see. Again, we’re going to continue to prepare for Dallas and get ready for the season. I think I said it last year at the same press conference: it takes a few weeks into the regular season to figure out who the team is, how we’re going to react when adversity strikes, and how we’re going to handle if there’s success, or if you’re down at halftime.
“I think that showed last year against Tennessee in the second half. I didn’t know how the team was going to react coming out of halftime or if you’re playing Green Bay in London and you’re down in the second quarter, 17-3. We still have a lot to learn about this team. We’ll see when it comes to Sunday against the Cowboys, how they’re going to come together as a team and gel and how they’re going to react in those situations.”
THE FINAL WORD:
I’ll be honest with you. I never saw 40-0 coming. I doubt Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll did either. As scary it is to think that Dallas may simply be that good, it’s even scarier to think that the Giants may be that bad. I don’t think they are, but if the offensive line does not dramatically improve, the rest of the offense and defense won’t matter. And special teams now is 0-1 with a significant role in the first loss. The Giants absolutely must end this weekend at 1-1 heading into Thursday night’s game against heavily-favored and likely-to-win San Fransisco.
The season could very much be on the line. In week two. Sad, but it is what it is.