New York Giants 30 – Detroit Lions 17
After a few days of practice in Detroit with the Lions, the two teams faced off in week 2 of the preseason. Eli Manning and Odell Beckham were close to full participants in practice, however both stayed on the sidelines during game action. Darian Thompson also missed the game with his hamstring injury along with Saquon Barkley.
Davis Webb got the starting nod and really turned around the overall outlook on him after a rough week 1. He engineered a beautiful 17-play drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Wayne Gallman. Davis converted two 3rd downs and one 4th down on the drive that included a couple high level throws.
The teams traded multiple 3-and-outs back and forth trying to win the field position battle. Aldrick Rosas was given an opportunity at a 55-yard field goal which he drilled through the uprights with ease. NYG entered halftime with a 10-3 lead as the defense seems to be coming together nicely.
Kyle Lauletta started the 2nd half. After a three-and-out on drive one, DET backup Matt Cassel was intercepted off a deflection. Two plays later, Lauletta juked and cutback his way into the end zone via a rollout. A signal caller that isn’t known for his athletic ability got the Giants a 17-3 lead.
Detroit drove the ball downfield but instead of going for their second field goal of the night, they sent LeGarrette Blount up the middle on 4th and 2 and he was stuffed by a dominating inside run defense. The Giants lengthened their lead to 24-3 early in the 4th quarter with another Gallman touchdown. The backup defenses let up quite a bit, as NYG scored another touchdown on the ground, and DET scored two more themselves. It was a sloppy end to an otherwise well played game.
Giants win 30-17.
–Davis Webb: 14/20 – 140 yards – 1 TD/0 INT. Webb got the start in this week 2 matchup, as Eli Manning received the night off after an intense practice week. This game was very much about Webb’s ability to bounce back from a shaky week 1 outing, and that he did. This was a completely different quarterback in contrast to what we saw a week ago. He had multiple high-level throws from the pocket and on the move in multiple directions. He had better touch, better footwork, and seemed more confident in his reads and progressions. He still threw a couple of high balls on urgent throws, however. That is one reoccurring weakness that I see.
–Kyle Lauletta: 2/5 – 27 yards – 0 TD/0 INT. Lauletta added 13 yards and a touchdown on the ground. While he didn’t get a lot of opportunities to throw in this game, he didn’t capitalize on his two downfield throws. His touchdown run showed surprising cutback ability and while he won’t ever be mistaken for Russell Wilson in space, there is a lot of “football player” in him. I am still intrigued by the advanced footwork, release, and decision making.
–Wayne Gallman: 5 att – 26 yards – 1 TD / 2 rec – 9 yards – 1 TD. With Saquon Barkley on the sidelines for this one, Gallman took over the lead role. He ran an outstanding route on his touchdown. This kid really poses as a threat with the ball in his hands and as a route runner. He will be an important piece to this 2018 offense.
–Jonathan Stewart: 4 att – (-1) yard. Very uneventful night for the veteran, who was in for just 11 plays. He didn’t have any room in this contest and obviously didn’t play enough to get into a groove, but one can’t help but notice heavy feet and tight hips. Stewart’s value may be as an extra player-coach type more so than a backup to Barkley, especially with Gallman looking as good as he does.
–Jalen Simmons and Robert Martin both had impressive performances again. Simmons left the game after a perceived concussion, thus Martin got a few extra late looks and he impressed. If he can show some special teams contribution, I think he has a strong chance at making this roster. Fullback Shane Smith played just 14% of the snaps.
-With Odell Beckham on the sidelines again, Sterling Shepard and Cory Latimer got the starts. Shepard brought in an over-the-shoulder catch near the sideline on a great route, while Latimer made high-level reception across the middle where he laid out and extended himself. Both were out of the game early in the second quarter, and most importantly, are healthy.
–Hunter Sharp continues to receive an opportunity to display his ability, leading the group in snaps played. He muffed one of his punt return attempts and dropped a pass. The tools are intriguing but he needs to show a more consistent skill set. Just like I said last week, Russell Shepard is an under-the-radar name to look out for. He made a big time catch on a 50/50 ball downfield from Webb. I think a roster spot is going to come down to Roger Lewis or Kalif Raymond. They are different kinds of players, where Lewis again showed some big play ability with a 31-yard catch but Raymond offers more return ability.
–Evan Engram: 2 rec – 13 yards. It’s hard to believe this, but Engram looks even faster and more explosive than he did a year ago. Because of the position he plays and all of the attention devoted to Beckham and Barkley, he is going to see a ton of 1-on-1 matchups. Nobody will be able to stay with him on crossing routes and he has made a couple of impressive adjustment-catches so far. I think he is going to have a huge year.
–Jerell Adams did have 3 catches for 31 yards, but he struggled again. He was getting beaten off the ball as a blocker and had a couple of mental mistakes. Unreliable is the word that comes to mind here and in year 3, that could lead to him getting cut. Matt Simonson on the other hand does a lot of little things right and makes a difference on special teams.
-Very impressive night by Nate Solder, who was up against one of the best defensive ends in the game in Ezekiel Ansah. He has shown a couple struggles when it comes to getting off the ball quickly, but his balance and technique are very consistent. Ereck Flowers allowed a tackle for loss and 2 pressures early, but bounced back and ended with a solid run. Once again, he doesn’t play the game with his feet enough, being too reliant on hands, which are often inaccurate.
–Chad Wheeler struggled. It was actually one of the worst performances I have seen out of him in his two years here. He is over-committing to his initial read, getting too top heavy and lunging for his man. Nick Becton has been impressive and I think there is a chance he could grab the number three tackle spot. His run blocking as been exceptional.
-There is a very alarming trend occurring with the guys inside. They are letting blitzers through the A/B gaps go untouched. Delayed, not delayed, whichever. Will Hernandez and Jon Halapio both had terrible misses. Late to see, slow to react. It blew up a couple of running plays. At this time last year, I wrote about how poorly the NYG OL was dealing with stunts to the outside and it definitely made its way into regular season play. Let’s hope these guys get this figured out over the next two weeks. Patrick Omameh had a quiet game, not necessarily in a good way. He got beaten off the ball a few times that blew up running plays inside and right side.
-John Greco is the dark horse to win the OC job at some point. He has seen some snaps there in practice, and he was my highest graded backup Friday night. John Jerry and Brett Jones got good movement in the running game as well.
-Good to see Olivier Vernon produce some game results in week 2. He really is a different kind of edge rusher. Not overly big, this guy plays with tremendous knee bend and derives a lot of power from his base. He doesn’t always make it look right, but the late and subtle movements in traffic can get him the proper angles to the QB. He finished with a sack and was very close on another. He beat 3 separate blockers on his sack.
–Kerry Wynn has been one of the most impressive defenders on this team through 2 games. While we have been impressed with him in preseason before just to be let down when the games count, I see a guy that is going to fit like a glove in this scheme. He finished with a sack, two hurries, and a couple athletic looking special teams tackles. He is a great example for guys trying to make a team. Keep the engine on high and contribute in different ways. Same can be said for the gifted Romeo Okwara who also finished with a sack and a hurry. If these two can perform during the season, the outlook for this defense totally changes.
-Once again, the strong point of this team. Damon Harrison could make a “how to” for young DTs when it comes to playing the run. He simply creates a new line of scrimmage routinely. He pushed the DET interior linemen all over the place. B.J. Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson made plays in the backfield. Hill looks very athletic and light footed while Tomlinson has progressed nicely with his hand location. DET averaged 3 yards per carry and these guys were the main reasons why.
–Josh Mauro had a nice game off the bench. He demands the double team consistently and knows how to crowd the running lanes. He also had a hurry and pass deflection. Robert Thomas and A.J. Francis are showing to be on a different level than the counterpart backups. Good signs for a scheme that will likely need to rest Harrison for a few stretches each week.
-The whipping boy of this defense may be the newly signed Alec Ogletree. Two weeks, two times he has been exposed in space, covering man-to-man. Last week he did a poor job against tight end David Njoku but I will say I don’t think there is a LB in football that would have stopped Theo Riddick on his 42-yard reception. He is the best receiving RB in the NFL and as we saw on the Webb-to-Gallman TD, that route is incredibly difficult to defend. He and B.J. Goodson simply haven’t played enough to really lean one way or another.
–Ray Ray Armstrong continues to show he can be a player in this scheme with a couple tackles, a pass break up, and an interception. He is a very cheap version of ARI’s Deone Bucannon. I don’t see him breaking into a starting lineup unless there is an injury, but I do think he can be a piece to the puzzle. He has a very unique skill set and he looks like he really understands this scheme.
–I think a roster spot may come down to Calvin Munson or Mark Herzlich. Both are one dimensional and I think there is room on this roster for one of them, not both. I could be wrong though. Herzlich led the team with 7 tackles and I think he has more range and better instincts. Not to mention he just bring more intensity and presence to the defense when he is out there.
-I can understand the effort to keep Janoris Jenkins healthy by limiting his snaps, but I wish we could have seen more of Eli Apple. He is still very much an unknown. He seems to be struggling with some of the basic, must-have traits to the position in this scheme. Not enough footwork, too late on anticipation and reaction.
–B.W. Webb and Leonard Johnson both lack the desired size but these guys compete hard. Webb did get flagged for a pass interference penalty, but I thought he did a fine job when covering the outside receivers who were much bigger than him. Johnson had one of the most physical hits of the game.
–Grant Haley shows admirable footwork and quickness, but he just can’t handle the physical side of the game yet. He was tossed to the ground by T.J. Jones on a 4th quarter touchdown. He simply looked over-matched on that play and others.
–Landon Collins started along side Curtis Riley in this one. Neither were really tested. Collins still has that tendency to lose his angles on outside running plays and screen passes. He is the least of this team’s concern though. I hope to see Riley tested more often with Darian Thompson injured.
-Impressed with backup Michael Thomas. He had a really nice TFL on a play where he stood a tight end up at the point of attack, shed him, and made a physical tackle behind the line of scrimmage. He also had a near INT in the end zone. Andrew Adams had a couple of physical showings as well. Both guys can handle backup duty to Collins, but neither show the range needed to play next to him.
–Aldrick Rosas: 1/1 (55) – 1/1 XP. Impressive career-long kick for Rosas who put the ball through halfway up from that distance. All this after a bad snap and somewhat delayed approach. Wow.
-Marshall Koehn: 0/0 – 2/3 XP. Missing extra points is a quick way to get the boot.
-Riley Dixon: 3 punts – 43.3 avg – 40.7 net.
-QB Davis Webb, RB Wayne Gallman, DE Kerry Wynn
-OC Jon Halapio, CB Grant Haley, TE Jerell Adams
3 TAKEAWAYS FOR DET
-The make or break for this team will be the offensive line. Stafford is as close to the top tier QBs in this league of anyone that isn’t quite there. The weapons are there. The defense is improving and they have a brilliant mind calling the shots on that side of the ball. But the OL is a concern and it is time some of their recent draft picks pony up.
-Darius Slay might be in the discussion for top CB in the league. It is a tough position to evaluate when comparing teams and schemes. But I might put this kid up there with anyone, if not above everyone, when it comes to playing on an island 1-on-1 with any kind of WR in the league.
-LB and former Giant Devon Kennard appears to be a better fit for the Matt Patricia scheme than what he was with the Giants. Get him rushing the edge over and over will result in more sexy stats for him obviously, but I think his results are more than that. The inside-out versatility wasn’t used often enough during his NYG tenure.
3 CLOSING THOUGHTS
-We discussed last week how looking too deep into one week of preseason performance is foolish. However it happens every year. Those that wrote off Webb after the CLE game look silly now. That was the best we have seen out of him since he was under an NYG contract. Now, can he build off it? His next appearance will be very telling on where he’s at, much more so than the previous 2 weeks.
-I’ve seen all but 5 preseason games from around the league. And you know what? The backup OL here is outperforming most of the league’s backups. They are getting a lot of movement at the point-of-attack and providing more time in pass protection. Preseason football is often ugly late in games because of poor OL play. NYG has had 2 solid weeks in a row in comparison. Is it scheme based? Coaching? I don’t know yet. But it is a good thing, that’s for sure.
-I really do enjoy watching James Bettcher coach. It will take more time to really see the scheme and trends, but I am speaking more along the lines of his emotion and involvement on the sidelines. He is all in with these guys and yes, I do think it makes a difference with the players.