The Giants survived their first preseason game, losing to the Dolphins 27-10 while losing no one valuable in the process. Apparently that was the top priority for new head coach Ben McAdoo, who put Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. on ice in order to find out what backup Ryan Nassib is capable of doing against the Dolphins’ second string.
Miami was minus Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh and Mario Williams, so how much can you take away from Nassib’s effort?
A lot, actually. He was 7 for 15 with two interceptions and a lost fumble – against the backup defensive line of the Miami Dolphins. No bueno.
The offense moved the ball well on its first series, a 74-yard touchdown drive highlighted by Sterling Shepard’s terrific 24-yard catch to set up first and goal at the 8-yard line. Beckham has been touting Shepard’s skills all preseason, and the second-round pick from Oklahoma did not disappoint. He flashed the talents that can put a very good 2015 offense over the top into a championship-contending offense in 2016.
The defense, meanwhile, was trying to do its best impression of the Big Blue Wrecking Crew, shutting down the Dolphins’ offense with a three-and-out on its first three possessions. The newly revamped defensive line had some impressive push up front, in stark contrast to last year’s team that allowed opposing quarterbacks to bring their own Barca loungers onto the field.
No one wants to listen to me when I say this is a Super Bowl-contender. I’m not a Giants homer; they’re not even my team. And that’s what allows me to watch them dispassionately. When they’re stupid, I acknowledge it. When they’re smart or savvy, I give them props.
On the face of it, sitting Manning and Beckham is annoying. Fans haven’t been waiting eight months to see what Ryan Nassib can do. They want to see what a fully operational Death Star can do: they want Manning, Beckham, Jennings, Vereen and Shepard. Heck, they even want to see if Larry Donnell can make a catch without diving head first and fumbling.
But McAdoo already knows what that unit is capable of doing. They’re capable of scoring with the Steelers of the league. Ya know, provided Manning and Beckham remain healthy.
There’s no use getting into the weeds about the team’s opening preseason game. The offensive line looked good; the running lanes were there for Jennings and Vereen. The starting defense looked markedly better than last year’s team, which usually rolled over and asked you to scratch its belly. But the biggest takeaway is how screwed the Giants will be if future Hall of Famer Eli Manning ever goes down with an injury.
Nassib is not terrible, but he’s not Kurt Warner in the event that Trent Green gets hurt, either. It’s fine for McAdoo to give him plenty of playing time, if only as a reminder of what is missing when Eli is not under center.