New York Giants vs. New York Jets Preseason Matchup: Seven Observations
The NFL was excited to have a New York showdown between the Giants and Jets on Monday Night Football to celebrate the grand opening of the New Meadowlands Stadium.
Surprisingly enough, the game was pretty entertaining, despite it being preseason. A number of intriguing storylines and questions can be raised during the aftermath of this meeting between two of the Big Apple’s most beloved franchises.
Brandon Jacobs Needs To Get it Together
The talk of the town after this game was the injury to Eli Manning. If you haven't heard, he received a huge gash on his forehead and had to come out of the game and receive 12 stitches.
The play appeared to be a run call, where Eli called an audible in an effort to exploit man coverage on the outside.
Jacobs did not seem to get the memo though, as he bumped shoulders with his quarterback and caused him to get waffled by Jets outside linebacker Calvin Pace.
The contact with Jacobs knocked Manning’s helmet loose, and the hit from Pace completely knocked the helmet off.
Before he could even hit the ground, Eli got clocked by strong safety Jim Leonhard's face mask, which cut open the Giants' starting QB.
Now, to bash Jacobs solely based on this would really not be fair. In all likelihood, no one truly knows what went wrong besides Eli Manning and Brandon Jacobs.
In fact Manning, in a classy move, took all the blame for the incident. He said he plans to learn from it, and also noted that he could have gone back into the action if it was necessary.
Fair enough, but it isn't pretty when you couple this incident with Jacobs' horribly disappointing 2009 season, as well as his output on the field Monday night; four carries for two yards was the best the big guy could come up with.
To be fair, Ahmad Bradshaw had three carries for minus-one yard, but he redeemed himself with two catches for 58 yards.
This certainly drops Jacobs' stock a bit, and it was not exactly in must-buy territory to begin with. If he does not turn it around in the immediate future, expect Bradshaw to be the starting back for Big Blue this season.
The Jets Defense is Still Formidable without Revis
Everyone has a strong opinion one way or another about Rex Ryan, but he certainly backed up at least one of his claims Monday night.
The claim in question is the one where Ryan recently stated that the New York Jets defense is “just fine” without All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis.
The Jets held Eli Manning to just four completions, on eight attempts, for 77 yards and no touchdowns over a bit more than one quarter of play. Manning’s stats would have taken a serious hit if running back Ahmad Bradshaw did not take a pass out of the backfield for 51 yards.
Although the Jets second and third stringers allowed backups Jim Sorgi and Rhett Bomar to embarrass them through the air, the Giants' leading rusher when the smoke cleared was Andre Brown. He finished with a very modest five carries for 26 yards.
Of course, it is very rare to see anyone have a big rushing day in a preseason game. But the fact the Jets kept it that way is certainly a good sign for this unit.
The Giants' Strength and Conditioning Staff Should Be Revamped
How many seasons in a row now have the Giants been injury prone? Giants’ starters that missed Monday’s game included Rich Seubert, Tim Brown, Michael Johnson, Kenny Phillips, Keith Bulluck, Kevin Boss, and 2009 Pro Bowlers Chris Snee and Steve Smith.
Injuries are going to happen in football regardless of how one trains and prepares their body, but this is getting ridiculous.
While Eli Manning’s injury was more of a freak accident than anything else, a team can only attribute so much misfortune to bad luck.
Already paper thin at the linebacker position, the Giants lost Chase Blackburn when he left Monday’s affair with a sprained right knee.
He was carted to the locker room, so missing a regular season game or two would not be out of the question.
Bear in mind that Blackburn has missed only one game in the NFL during a five-year career, so for him to succumb to an injury is particularly unfortunate.
It is exceptionally difficult to pinpoint what the problem really is here, but somehow, someway, the Giants need to get healthy and stay that way if they wish to improve on a very disappointing 2009 season.
Mark Sanchez is Maturing As a Quarterback
While Sanchez may not be ready to start as a fantasy quarterback just yet, Monday’s game is an indicator that he is making big strides as the man leading the charge for his team.
Sanchez was uncharacteristically poised and accurate, at least by last season’s standards, going 13-for-17 for 119 yards and a touchdown.
He also threw an interception in a backfield pass intended for LaDainian Tomlinson; however, LT struggled to find a rhythm with his offensive teammates throughout the game.
This leads to the next point of conversation.
LT is Struggling To Find Comfort in This Jets Offense
Anyone who saw this game should agree that Tomlinson’s performance was shaky at best. The 2006 MVP had eight rushes for a measly 17 yards, and a catch to tack on 14 more.
LT was targeted several times out of the backfield, but only managed to reel in one ball.
While the cause for concern here is moderate, it certainly exists. LT has been with the Jets since March, so it is not like he just joined the squad last week.
Furthermore, questions arise when a third string rookie running back (Joe McKnight) outperforms you (13 carries for 32 yards).
Now, the reality is that this is just one preseason game and the season is still about three weeks away.
But if Tomlinson does not have this offensive system down pat, is three weeks really going to make any difference? Time will tell.
The Best Guy from This Game Does Not Even Have an NFL Contract
A little known rookie wide receiver out of UMass tore apart the Jets defense.
Victor Cruz came out of Monday Night’s ball game with six catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns. To put this into perspective, this contest only saw five touchdowns scored between the two teams.
Up to this point, analysts gave Cruz essentially no hope of even making the practice squad. His performance yesterday certainly could cause critics to reconsider.
His first score was the most memorable. Cruz caught a perfectly thrown deep ball from Jim Sorgi, and with well-timed stiff arm paired with great balance, Cruz was off to the races.
The 23-year-old native of Paterson, New Jersey then caught another long ball from Sorgi for a 34-yard score, and was still not ready to call it a night. He finished off his showcasing his talents with a five-yard touchdown reception from Rhett Bomar.
While there is still no guarantee he makes the roster, he has certainly greatly increased his chances. The most logical move for the Giants would be to put him in with the starters during the next game, and see how he fares against some proven veterans.
Also worth mentioning is that Cruz helped carry backup QB Jim Sorgi to one of, if not the best, stat lines of his career. Sorgi went 8-for-15 for 146 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Sorgi also finished the evening with an impressive 126.7 quarterback rating.
The Jets are Really Going to Miss Santonio Holmes during his Suspension
Santonio Holmes showed that he has not lost a step in making his transition to these Jets quarterbacks.
Holmes led the team in receiving with four catches for 55 yards, and just missed on having a beautiful diving catch go for six in the end zone. Holmes looked crisp running his routes and his hands looked as good as ever.
With Braylon Edwards having a poor performance and no one else in the receiving core stepping up, losing Holmes for four games will seriously hinder the Jets' passing attack.
Luckily for Jets fans, this is a run-first team that prides itself on having a smash-mouth defense.