The season is finally here and while the outcome was not what anyone would have liked, [Steelers 26| Giants 16] Joe Judge’s debut has some good moments and some familiar bad moments.
While the game counts in the box score, it was more like a pre-season game for the players. It’s the first time they have had a chance to go full speed and execute what they have been trying to put together for the last few months.
The O Line – Confused
this unit was by far the worst unit on the field. New line coach Marc Columbo has a lot a work to do with the group. In the first half, Kevin Zeitler was asked numerous times to pull and get out in front of Barkley only to miss every white jersey in the stadium. Zeitler did not have a good day.
I am not exactly sure what the expectation were for the rookie Andrew Thomas; however, he had a long night. Thomas and Hernandez often looked confused on assignments letting Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree have an open shot on Barkley or Jones. He was unblocked on a handful of plays where Thomas just blocked leaving Dupree a clear unblocked path to the backfield.
Gates and Fleming were equally bad. Fleming had the task of holding down TJ Watt which is not easy for any Right Tackle. Watt was disruptive. Fleming often looked like he was catching Watt more than blasting aggressively at the point of attack. Barkley has six yards rushing with 15 attempts. This is unacceptable from this unit. There was no push-up front and zero holes, attitude, nothing. Barkley was tackled in the backfield on half of his attempts. Pulley and Peart may start by week 3. Grade: F
Jones & Slayton – In synch
Quarterback Daniel Jones & Wide Receiver Darius Slayton continue to have very good chemistry. Slayton went for 6 rec | 102 yards | 2 TDS. The 41-yard bomb was a thing of beauty as Slayton took a long post between the safeties and into the endzone. His maturation process is impressive. Grade: A+
Jones & Shepard – In Synch
Sterling Shepard continues to be the guy to make the hard catch over the middle, and the much needed first down. I am not sure if this team would have been much more productive if Tate was on the field. Grade: A
Surprisingly this unit had some life to it. They battled last night and will improve as the season goes on. There is still very little old school pass rush. Look at the Steelers with Dupree and Watt. They are relentless, coming hard play after play. The Giants haven’t had the ability to challenge an offensive with 3 or 4 pass rushers since Strahan, Osi and Tuck left the team.
As Advertised – Blake Martinez
Blake Martinez is exactly what we thought and for some… a little more. The rumors of him being slow are ridiculous. He led the team in tackle last night with 12 tackles | 8 solo | 1 TFL . For years, leading the team in tackles was the mantle for the strong safety. Martinez was around the ball the entire game and made a few plays while shooting a gap showing speed and power. Grade A
As Advertised – James Bradberry
While he gave up one long throw down the sideline that hurt the Giants his overall performance was very good. Again…for players…this is pre-season. Bradberry showed on two plays the ability to carry through with the coverage, knocking the ball loose after the receiver had thier hands around the ball. This style of play is very Janoris Jenkins like. The ability to stay true to the coverage and jar the ball loose AFTER the catch. Grade: B
Zo Carter, Markus Golden, Leonard William, and Dexter Lawrence looked good in thier 2020 debut. Not great…but good. They were active, around the ball and on occasion made some plays. I especially like the quickness displayed by Dexter Lawrence chasing a running back down from behind, before the back had a chance to explode into the open field. Williams looked exceptionally good using his power in the gaps making plays in the backfield. He has 5 Tackles | 4 solo | 1 sack | 2 TFL. Grade: B
Surprisingly, a few players just did not make thier presence felt at all which was disappointing. Love, Fackrell, Tomlinson, Downs and Ximines were flat out missing in action, hopefully the bounce back next week and Graham figures out how to use them differently. There was 8 tackles amongst 5 players. Grade C
Lights to Bright:
It’s just one game…or is it a continuation of his career. Evan Engram had a terrible game under the lights at Metlife Stadium. The 1st round draft pick continues to come up short for the New York Giants.
Engram vs Steelers: 2 rec | 7 targets |9 yards
Engram has a ton of talent…it just does not show up on a game day. In last night’s game he had two critical missed blocks (2 that I saw), two dropped balls and a complete miscue on what would have been a sure touchdown. He seems to be unable to block or make a big catch when needed. He does not command the energy in the room, nor he does demand the defense to game plan for him. Grade D
Offensive game plan:
It’s just game one but the offensive plan will need to become more dynamic as the season goes if the Giants plan to win any games. Where were the slants, reverses, bubble screens, quick tosses. Bottom line: Barkley needed to get going for this team to win. Grade: C