Is it time to start worrying, Giants fans?
Last night, the Giants looked anything but crisp on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. In this, the third exhibition game, the Giants lost to their cross-town rivals, and co-tenants at Giants Stadium, 27-25.
Among the bright spots was the emergence of Hakeem Nicks, who amassed 144 yards and two touchdowns on six catches.
However, for most of the evening, the offense was characterized by drops, turnovers and suspect play-calling: All signs that do not bode well for the upcoming season.
Giants fans must keep telling themselves it is only preseason. However, with two weeks left before the season opener against the Washington Redskins, one has to worry about the psyche of this team starting the season.
The Giants moved the ball effectively on their first drive, highlighted by a couple of hard counts by Eli forcing the Jets offside, a nice catch by Mario Manningham, strong running by Brandon Jacobs, and finally, a nice catch in the end zone by Jacobs.
Things began to turn on their second drive, when Eli threw a deep ball almost sixty yards perfectly to Steve Smith. Steve Smith was five yards behind the defense, and by all accounts was headed to the end zone.
Suddenly, the ball fell harmlessly to the ground and Smith ran back shaking his head. The drop was reminiscent of last year's drop by Domenik Hixon against the Eagles.
Three plays later, Eli was intercepted by Bart Scott deep in Giant territory. It is the type of ball Hixon has to catch in that area of the field. It was this sequence of plays that I believe turned the game for the Giant offense.
Later in the half, with the Giants driving for what should have been a touchdown to extend their lead to 17-7, they inexplicably ran the ball on 3rd and four from the Jets nine.
It was a drive where the Giants moved the ball from their own 36 to the Jets nine in five plays, mostly featuring Bradshaw.
Trying to run the ball into the teeth of the Jets defense, when Manning had several other options down there, was very poor play selection.
Where was Barden? Perfect time to try a fade to the big guy, or even let Nicks or Boss have a shot at it.
After the field goal, the Jets went right down the field in four plays, sparked with a big time play by Sanchez and terrible tackling by the Giants secondary. The Jets went ahead 14-13 on a Sanchez to Stuckey 31 yard touchdown pass, where the rookie from USC eluded the Giants rush and threw on the run to Stuckey, who ran it in for the score.
In the words of John Sterling, "Ball game over."
After that, it was more of a slogging game, back and forth. The Giants created excitement at the end of the game with two big catches by Nicks, especially the one in the corner of the end zone.
Going for two proved to be a mistake, forcing the Giants to go for two again after the second score. Where was the play action on either of those attempts?
Statistically, the Giants first team was beat, and in a manner that raises great concern: Too many drops and poor tackling just could not be overcome.
There were some highlights; the play of Bernard and the defense against the run was effective, and there was pressure on Sanchez most of the game. The Jets were only 1-11 on third down. The kick coverage team kept Leon Washington in check.
The Giants finish the preseason up in Foxboro. Hopefully, the team mixes in Nicks and Barden more with the first team, and the defense regains its health. Many questions remain for this team, and let's hope that Coach Coughlin can help right the ship.