Monday Morning Manning: Week 1
By: Marco Imperati
After what seemed like the longest offseason in the history of the NFL, the New York Giants kicked off their 2016 season vs the Cowboys. The Giants survived in a 20-19 win. Unlike last year, the Giants were able to leave Dallas in a position with little time, no timeouts, and find a way to get out of Texas with a win. Eli Manning finished the game with a stat line of 19-28, 207 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception.
It was tough at times to get a feel for this offense. Dallas did a great job of controlling the ball on offense and calling an impressive game plan. However, the quick strike assault that fans expected was on display at times. Odell Beckham Jr. and new running mate Sterling Shepard looked to be in midseason form. Odell was gliding all over the field and drew an important holding penalty on Morris Claiborne.
The great story here was the long awaited return of Victor Cruz. Cruz scored his first touchdown in nearly 700 days. Welcome back, Victor! Aside of what type of boost he can give this offense, he’s a player that has never backed down from a challenge. Great to see Cruz back, doing the salsa in the end zone.
I was pleased to see the running game take off, especially in the 4th quarter. Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen combined as a 1-2 punch that was hitting the middle of the Cowboys defense. This should be a huge lift of confidence for the offensive line, that has been much criticized this offseason. By the way, according to Pro Football Focus, Marshall Newhouse was rated as the number one offensive tackle in the NFL through week one.
A few areas I’m interested in seeing evolve over the next few weeks is what the Giants do at the “fullback” position. Nikita Whitlock was lost to injury reserve during training camp. His competition, and a player I was really excited about, Will Johnson, is also on injured reserve. I saw backup center Brett Jones line up as full back for a few plays yesterday. I think that is where we will see Will Beatty when he is ready to go. Not solely as a fullback, but in a variety of roles that serve as a blocker Oline, tight end). I’m also interested in seeing who’s calling the plays. It appeared that Ben Mcadoo, in his first NFL game as head coach, was calling the plays. I’m eager to see how managing double duty as head coach and primary play caller pans out.
Up next: Next Sunday the Giants kick off their home opener vs the New Orleans Saints. Last year, Eli Manning and Drew Brees combined for an offensive game that satisfied fantasy football fans, but really signified what the Giants defense was. Statistically, the 2015 New York Giants defense is one of the worst of all time. Spags and company will be looking for redemption. It began yesterday in Dallas. Slowing down the Brees express at Met Life would be another big step in the right direction.