We could boil down the Giants’ 36-31 loss at Dallas Sunday night to the Giants’ six turnovers and be done with it.
No, the Giants aren’t going to win many games if they give the opposition six free possessions. That’s obvious stuff. The causes of those mistakes, however, are the salient issues the Giants will have to address as they prepare for to face the Denver Broncos Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Even in defeat, the Giants still did a lot of good on Sunday night. They racked up 478 yards in a little more than 22 minutes with the ball, and the Cowboys couldn’t rest easy until they recovered an on-sides kick in the final seconds. Such was the strength of the Giants’ passing game on Sunday night.
With the first game in the books, here are five matters to weigh as the Giants try to avoid a 0-2 start.
The Giants’ running back play cost them dearly at Dallas.
Starting running back David Wilson gained just 19 yards on seven carries and lost two fumbles. He was benched for the rest of the game after his third-quarter fumble was returned for a touchdown by Cowboys safety Barry Church.
By the numbers, backup Da’Rel Scott was productive, racking up 74 yards on 10 touches. However, a screen pass deflected off him and into the hands of Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr, who returned it for what would be the game-clinching touchdown for Dallas with less than two minutes left. In Scott’s defense, it didn’t appear to be an easy pass to handle, and the execution of the whole thing looked awkward, really.
Anyways, the biggest question for the Giants is how to proceed at running back. Wilson is too talented to give up on, but can he be counted upon to be a lead back at this point?
Coach Tom Coughlin indicated after the loss that the Giants weren’t giving up on him after a poor game.
“We’ll get him right even if he has to run around the field with two hands on the ball. We need him,” Coughlin said.
From an organizational standpoint, the prudent move is to give Wilson a mulligan and work on his confidence. However, the club couldn’t be blamed for adding to its options at the position this week.
From Wilson’s standpoint, the prudent move will be to double-down on his ball security while putting this game behind him. He can’t dwell on the fumbles, but he needs to learn from them, and quickly.
The Giants’ defense is off to a solid start.
In 74 defensive snaps, the Giants allowed 331 yards, and they surrendered just three plays of 20 yards or more. Also, the Giants did well to get off the field on third downs, with Dallas converting just five in 15 tries.
The Giants’ pass rush notched just two sacks, but it did get a good deal of pressure on Romo. New York also limited Dallas star receiver Dez Bryant to four catches and 22 yards on just eight targets.
The question is, can the Giants fare any better next Sunday against Denver’s offense, which has an even stronger passing game than Dallas?
The Giants’ passing game showed vast potential.
The Giants have the quarterback and the receivers necessary to give opposing secondaries some big problems this season.
Wide receivers Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle all exceeded 100 yards receiving in the season opener, and Cruz hauled in three touchdown passes from Eli Manning, who threw for 450 yards and four scores on just 27 completions.
The Cowboys have a talented group of cornerbacks, and they had a world of trouble with the Giants’ receivers.
If Manning, Cruz, Nicks and Randle stay healthy, this is going to be a fun passing game to watch.
The offensive line held up well enough in a tough spot.
Manning was sacked three times, and the Giants didn’t get much going on the ground. That said, the Giants’ offensive line largely did its job, giving Manning the time he needed.
In Week Two, the line has to cope with a Denver pass rush that sacked Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco four times in Week One even without suspended star outside linebacker Von Miller. The Giants’ line has room to improve off this opening effort — and might well have to do so, what with Denver having nine days to prepare for New York after playing Thursday night.
The Giants’ screen-pass and check-down plays need some work.
For as well as Manning played, he threw three interceptions, and two were passes intended for running backs. The first was a screen to Wilson intercepted by Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, and the second was the pass that hit off Scott’s arm and was returned for a score.
Clearly, the Giants are going to need to get something out of the screen/dump-off game to give opposing defenses something to think about before they simply send their rushers charging up the field after Manning. New York needs to tighten up this part of its offense.