New York Giants: 9 Positives to Take from the Opener
The Giants had an unusual game in a number of respects to open the season. Victor Cruz dropped several passes and seemed out of sync, Jason Pierre-Paul went without a sack, Eli Manning only threw for 213 yards and one touchdown. It was a very uncharacteristic performance.
However, there were nine positives to point to that indicate the Giants have no reason to panic.
1. The defensive line is still getting plenty of pressure. Against a normal quarterback, New York would have had at least five or six sacks. But Tony Romo is a magician when it comes to escaping pressure.
He showed it Wednesday night on numerous occasions, buying more time and allowing his receivers to come free. Three touchdowns and 307 yards, despite his starting center going down at the start of the game, was an amazing performance
2. David Wilson will bounce back, wiser and more careful with the football. His fumble was unfortunate, and it did remind Cris Collinsworth of the fact that Wilson had these problems in college as well, but after a season of good coaching with the Giants, he will eventually improve in this regard.
3. Martellus Bennett proved to be the red-zone threat New York thought he could be. He is still a little off in how he runs his routes and is a bit “raw” for a fourth-year player, according to Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride (h/t New York Times), but he provided the team's only receiving touchdown, so clearly, he was doing something right.
The key will be if he can stay focused throughout the season, something that he struggled with in Dallas, when he was more interested in making YouTube videos.
4. The Giants have a better feel now about where they are on run defense. Dallas came in with a very shaky offensive line, lost its starting center within minutes of the start of the game and still managed to run for 131 yards.
New York will need to spend plenty of time working on this before the next game. It’s a positive that it knows this, and it has extra days to work on it because its run defense was worst when it needed it most. Dallas would have had several more yards, but negated them with penalties along a line that hadn't played a single game together. Ever.
5. Things can’t really get any worse in the secondary, yet New York only lost by a touchdown to one of the top quarterbacks in the league throwing to several dangerous receivers and handing off to a gifted tailback.
You can’t really over-state what a fantastic game Romo had. He was amazing. And Kevin Ogletree caught everyone by surprise.
6. New York won’t face an offense this talented again until September 30, when it travels to Philadelphia. It has some time to figure things out. Although Carolina may not be a picnic either, given that Cam Newton is such a multi-threat QB and he has more weapons to work with this year. We’ll see.
7. Although DeMarco Murray had some very gaudy numbers against New York, running for 133 yards, 6.6 yards a carry and a stunning 93 yards after contact (wow), the Giants were dreadful against the run last year and won the Super Bowl. Also, they won't face a back with that kind of talent again until they play the Eagles.
One thing that Tom Coughlin is sure to emphasize with the team is that Dallas beat it at point of attack in fourth quarter. Although New York is adept at rushing the passer, it is a little light in its Nikes when it comes to stopping the run.
Last year, it was one of the worst run defenses, and this year hasn't started too hot. I'm sure by the time the Buccaneers come to town, they will have a new attitude across that line.
8. Victor Cruz is unlikely to have so many drops in another game this year. After an offseason filled with appearances, endorsement deals and as much exposure as he and his wife could generate for him, he appeared to forget about the basics of playing receiver.
Dallas cornerback Brandon Carr had guaranteed that there wouldn’t be any salsa dancing in the end zone on his watch, but I doubt many Giants fans believed him. Whether Carr deserves credit or not, Cruz specialized in drops, not dancing on Wednesday night.
Pro Football Focus rated him as the worst receiver in the game, giving him a score of negative-4.7. That is unlikely to happen again this year.
9. New York wins games by being physical. This game will be a reminder that it must have that element. When New York went on its big run at the end of the season last year, a big part of that was its physicality. But another point of emphasis for Coughlin will no doubt be that the Cowboys were the more physical team in the opener.
The Giants offensive line was abused on many occasions by the Cowboys defense. The tackles were especially out-matched, giving up nine hurries, two sacks and a quarterback hit. With extra time to review their approach, I'm sure Coughlin will get them back to the basics of physical play.
All in all, it was just one game and it could have been worse. Dallas held itself back a tremendous amount with 13 penalties for 86 yards. It rolled up 433 total yards on the Giants, but it could have been 519 yards!
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