While the defense carried the day (or should I say the night) for Big Blue against the Carolina Panthers, the offense is not to be neglected. There were some positives and clearly areas of improvement needed before opening the season against Washington on September 13th. As Coach Coughlin pointed out in his post game comments this week, he wanted to see some of the newer players in game conditions.
On the positive side, Eli Manning and the first team offense with Brandon Jacobs, Kevin Boss and most of the offensive line were on the field for two series, resulting in a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. The touchdown drive was concise, efficient and featured a checkdown pass to Brandon Jacobs who thundered down the field setting up the touchdown run by Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw was clearly not going to be denied in that run. Nice to see the power he showed in the Super Bowl run of 2007.
Other positives included the appearance of Danny Ware, Ramses Barden, Hakeem Nicks, Travis Beckum, William Beatty and Mario Manningham. Mario had a nice punt return, and a 3rd down catch that was nullified due to a penalty. He ran a nice clean route and connected on a dart thrown by Eli.
The running of Danny Ware and Ahmad Bradshaw, each scoring a touchdown, shows promise, especially with the absence of Derrick Ward. This being the other big offensive question mark going into the season. If they run and catch the ball the way they did, Derrick Ward's absence will not be a concern.
The play of Adam Koets at center was also a nice surprise. After a very shaky first series, he settled down and was consistent on snaps, along with good blocking throughout the game. I was sitting next to an Oregon State fan, who watched him most of the game and he clearly looked more comfortable as the game wore on. Coach Coughlin called him out in his post game comments on Tuesday, along with the play of William Beatty, who also played well in his first action.
On the downside of the action, there were performances that were less than stellar. The play of the offensive line, especially the 2nd and 3rd team, showed some weaknesses. We all know it takes time for an offensive line to gel. The first team offensive line gave Eli time to throw and opened some good running lanes. As the game wore on, and the coaching staff shuttled players in and out, there were holes resulting in sacks and negative yardage, particularly in the 3rd quarter.
The battle for the second QB spot was mostly won by David Carr. Most exciting of which was his leap for a first down. A coach's nightmare seeing your QB flying through the air like that, but that was David in college. Nice to see again. from a fan's perspective.. The play of Woodson who had most of the snaps, and Bomar, was inconsistent at best. Poor protection and poor reads were predominant. One play resulting in a Carolina interception was simply poor selection on the part of Woodson.
None of the receivers really stood out, though the play calling certainly spread it around with no receiver getting more than two catches. As I said, Manningham looked good early, as did the backs. Hixon, Barden, Patrick, Bradhsaw and Jacobs all made nice catches. Lovie Smith of Chicago is known for game planning in pre-season, so I am sure the coaching staff was trying to limit the play selection, staying with the basics.
Looking at the collection of receivers on the field, the lack of a single receiver like Burress, will play to Eli's advantage. The defenses will not be able to stack the line or double a receiver, and Eli will have many more options than he had last year. The work of the receivers in 2009 will open many eyes.
One small note on special teams. Is there any punter in the league better than Jeff Feagles? Can we convince him to play until he is 60?
All in all, it was great to see our G-men in game action on the field once again. The bitterness of last January in the rear view mirror, with the promise of another playoff run in the future. While there are several teams in our way, as long as we take care of ourselves and play the way we are capable of, last team standing in the NFL will be the NY Giants
Now it's on to Chicago and DA'Bears!!