New York Giants: Complete Report Card Following Preseason Week 2 Win
With 22 seconds left in the first half, Terrell Thomas and Jason Pierre-Paul collided awkwardly in the backfield attempting to sack Jay Cutler—Thomas tore his ACL on the play.
Not only that, the Giants lost Brian Witherspoon to a torn ACL on a punt return, and he will be out for the season.
That puts three cornerbacks out for the season, all of whom were expected to contribute in at least some fashion.
Oh, and to add insult to injury, the team announced 2011 second-round pick Marvin Austin will miss the entire season with a torn pectoral muscle.
People have been saying "when it rains, it pours," but I don't think that tells the whole story.
All that said, they did win the game by a comfortable margin, so let's take a look at grades for each position.
Eli Manning: Eli had a decent game—after two straight three and outs he led the Giants offense to three scoring drives and took a 13-3 lead over the Bears' starters by the middle of the second quarter. He did have a few poor throws, and his stat line for the day was not pretty.
He needs to improve in the final two games if he wants to give fans any confidence.
David Carr: David Carr took over towards the end of the second quarter, but he made his mark in the second half. Though helped by a good running game, he led the second unit on three touchdown drives to put the game away for the Giants.
Tom Coughlin is going to have a tough time deciding who to keep at backup quarterback.
Final Grade: B
Ahmad Bradshaw: It wasn't really his fault, but aside from two decent runs the offensive line couldn't seem to open up holes for Bradshaw all night. His stat line doesn't look good (five carries, 15 yards), but he didn't get much help from the boys up front.
Brandon Jacobs: Jacobs scored the only touchdown for the first unit yesterday and looked like the Jacobs of old. I can't figure it out but it feels like Jacobs just loves playing the Bears, and he had a great game for the limited time he was in.
He finished with six carries for 48 yards and a touchdown.
Everyone else: I'm not going to give everyone their own category, but the back up running backs looked very good last night aside from DJ Ware. Andre Brown is very fluid in his cuts and shows a very good burst of speed, and Da'Rel Scott took his only carry 97 yards to the house, showcasing the speed the Giants expected of him.
Ware and Brown's stats weren't great as they each averaged under four yards per carry, but a lot of that had to do with the blocking, which I'll get to later.
Final Grade: B+
Hakeem Nicks: It wasn't the best game for Nicks, but Eli wasn't doing him any favors either. He had four targets and his only catch went for minus-1 yards.
Mario Manningham: The Bears seemed to be trying to take away Hakeem Nicks, or at least Eli was favoring Eli because he targeted Manningham seven times last night. Super Mario made a couple great catches over the middle, and he and Eli seemed to have solid chemistry.
Although, other than a 20-yard catch most of his passes were short plays that didn't do much for the offense.
Victor Cruz: In a surprise move the Giants put Victor Cruz with the first team offense last night ahead of Domenik Hixon, and Cruz shined under the bright lights of Monday Night Football once again. The highlight of his night was a fourth down leaping grab over a defender that set up the Giants first points of the night.
Everyone Else: I should be giving Devin Thomas his own category, but he'll be praised over in the special teams section. He made a couple plays on offense but the Giants were focused on the run for the entire game, so there wasn't many targets to go around. Thomas and Hixon each had good games with the second unit—Hixon made a great touchdown catch on a fade route from David Carr.
Overall the wide receivers had a solid game, but then again, so did the rest of the offense (hence the 41 points).
Final Grade: B
It was a pretty quiet game from the tight ends in terms of the receiving game. They were called upon to block—and the first unit had their mistakes—but there were a couple surprises sprinkled in. Travis Beckum made a key block on a nine-yard run by Bradshaw, and Daniel Coats was making good blocks all night.
However, Bear Pascoe has a lot of work to do. As good as he was last season, he has fallen off a bit and is not blocking like the Giants hoped he could. He had a play that should have been called holding when he wrapped up a defensive end on a Jacobs run and another play when Julius Peppers embarrassed him while putting pressure on the QB.
The Giants didn't rely on them to catch passes, so you would hope they could get some blocks in.
Final Grade: C
First unit: The Giants first unit had its ups and downs to say the least on Monday night. There were plays when the offense opened holes wide open for Brandon Jacobs, and plays when there were three and four guys in the backfield stuffing Ahmad Bradshaw.
They didn't let Eli Manning get sacked, but they need to be more consistent in the running game. That's the only way they're going to win games.
Second unit: The backups kept David Carr's jersey clean as well, but they had some of the same problems as the first unit. At times Andre Brown would break a decent run, and others he would be getting hit before he even got the ball.
The Giants are a physical team who need to establish the run game to set up play action, and if that's not there, they won't be effective offensively.
Final Grade: B
The defensive line may have not gotten any sacks, but they were putting some pressure on Cutler every now and then. It wasn't as much as we would have liked, but it was enough to keep him rattled.
The highlight of the night was easily Justin Tuck chasing down Matt Forte and making a touchdown saving tackle. That's the reason he's the Giants captain—he never lets up and leads by example.
Where they made their mark was stuffing the run. From the first unit all the way to the backups stuffing Marion Barber on a goal line stand, it was all around dominance, which is a good sign from a unit that lost Barry Cofield.
There is obviously some concern after losing Marvin Austin for the year, but the defensive line is definitely still a strength and has proved it so far in the preseason.
Final Grade: A
Michael Boley and Jonathan Goff played limited minutes with the first group, and were quickly replaced by Spencer Paysinger and Phillip Dillard after a couple of drives. This should be a surprise to most of us considering many thought Greg Jones was a favorite for the backup MLB spot and Clint Sintim or Jacquian Williams would have came in for Boley.
I watched Paysinger specifically on several plays, and he impressed me. I haven't had a chance to see him in camp, but he has been a pleasant surprise for many as an undrafted free agent.
Goff and Boley had good games while they were in—Boley made a play in the backfield on the first drive and Goff was actually really solid in coverage. The unit is shaping up to be better than everyone thought.
Not to mention how great the backups looked all game as well. Of course, there are going to be a couple of mental break downs every now and then from the second unit, but Greg Jones and Mark Herzlich each had solid performances.
Herzlich made what everyone seems to be calling "just a great football play," when he read and intercepted a pass by Caleb Haney in the red zone.
Final Grade: A-
It's not fun writing about this position considering they lost two of their better corners with a torn ACL last night, but the positives from the position were definitely there.
Aaron Ross redeemed himself and then some last night, and with the news of Terrell Thomas coming at halftime, his good play instantly became a huge story.
He's apparently as healthy as he's ever been since his rookie year, and the Giants will obviously have to lean on him now as they named him the starter against the Jets on Saturday.
He made three straight pass breakups on third downs against the Bears including one in the end zone. Hopefully, we get the Ross from last night and not the Panthers game version.
Other than Ross, there were a few break downs in coverage and Kenny Phillips got beat down the sideline on a couple of plays. They definitely have to avoid the big plays that killed them in 2009—that year was atrocious in terms of points allowed, and it had a lot to do with the safety play.
Overall, it wasn't a great game from the secondary, but they did a great job inside the 20 and held the Bears to field goals when they did get close.
Final Grade: B-
All I can say about the special teams was "wow." What an incredible improvement from a week ago when they looked like they couldn't tackle anybody and were consistently out of position.
Matt Dodge was booming punts, Greg Jones blocked a punt and nearly took it to the house, Devin Thomas had a 73-yard kickoff return, and the punt coverage finally decided they could tackle people.
Oh, and did I mention newly acquired kicker Rhys Lloyd was blasting kicks to the back of the end zone? Yea, I'd say he will challenge Tynes for his spot even when he's healthy.
Really, it would take an entire article for me to describe how many great plays there were on special teams. Guys like Michael Clayton go unnoticed, but he had a dominating block on Thomas' big return.
All in all, it was a tremendous effort from the special teams, and one they hope to duplicate once the season starts.
Final Grade: A+