Winners and Losers of New York Giants' Week 1 Performance
After months of waiting for the New York Giants to reappear in an actual game that counted, the team proceeded to lay a big fat goose egg against the Dallas Cowboys in front of a national television audience.
The biggest culprit for the Giants 19-3 loss was their offense, which couldn't get going in any one facet of the game, as head coach Ben McAdoo said after the game.
What the heck happened?
"We didn't convert on third downs very well in the first half," quarterback Eli Manning said after the game.
"It was third and longs, four's and five's and we couldn't convert on those, and it hurt us. It was good to stay on the field in the second half. We got a few drives going, but we just couldn't finish them. We just didn't play well enough all-around to win that game."
Sound familiar, Giants fans? It should because that was pretty much the same song and dance every member of the offense offered last year week after week as the unit struggled to crack 20 points, something it hasn't done in its last seven games, including playoffs.
As McAdoo said, there are 15 games left and a lot of opportunity to improve. So, before we flush this rather ugly loss down the toilet, let's take one last quick look at the winners and losers from Week 1.
Winner: LB B.J. Goodson
There weren't many bright spots for the Giants, but second-year linebacker B.J. Goodson certainly was one of them.
Goodson finished with a team-high 18 tackles (14 solo) including one for a loss. Lest anyone think these were made down the field, the bulk of his tackles were within seven yards of the line of scrimmage.
His lone tackle for a loss came on a Cowboys running back screen play, a play in which Goodson not only diagnosed the play, he also stopped the powerful Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield.
As expected, Goodson also handled all the inactive Keenan Robinson's coverage snaps. Per Pro Football Focus, the 24-year-old allowed six receptions on six pass targets for 63 yards, 55 after the catch. But he wrapped up ball-carriers well, not allowing them to find daylight and score.
Loser: RT Bobby Hart
There's nothing wrong with thinking you are the best at what you do, but before you start sharing your opinion with the rest of the world, you should probably show it with your actions.
That's the lesson starting right tackle Bobby Hart has hopefully learned.
The 23-year-old, who told Dan Duggan of NJ Advance Media that he knows he is "the best right tackle in the league" sure didn't play like one in the Week 1 opener.
According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed three pressures, finishing with a 77.5 overall grade, placing him 16th among offensive tackles for Week 1.
If he really aspires to be the best, he better clean up that issue pronto.
Winner: WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Odell Beckham Jr. wasn't able to play in the Week 1 meltdown on offense, which alone made him a winner. But seriously, the Giants again got a dose of reality of what life could be like without their star receiver, and it wasn't pretty.
One of the many special talents Beckham has that few of the other receivers showed is an ability to take those dink-and-dunk passes and turn them into something big.
Beckham might draw extra attention when he's on the field, but he always seems to find a way to defeat it and make the plays.
So, even though he couldn't do much other than lend moral support, Beckham—who aspired to become the NFL's highest paid player—emerges as a winner after a national television audience saw a supposed upgraded offensive unit struggle again without him.
Loser: RG John Jerry
It's one thing to make a mental mistake in the preseason, but when you make the same mistake in the regular season and you're a veteran, then who can blame anyone for questioning if your head is in the game?
That's what happened with right guard John Jerry, an eight-year NFL veteran who again blew a defensive twist that led to his quarterback taking an unnecessary hit and a scoring drive ending up going nowhere, with the Giants having to punt from their own end zone.
Jerry was also flagged for a hold on the second series and gave up a couple other hits and pressures that made Manning's life miserable.
The question is will McAdoo continue to stick with this struggling veteran or will he try to plug the leak that is becoming larger with each passing week?
Winner: K Aldrick Rosas
Kicker Aldrick Rosas has had quite a year so far.
Not only does he have his first regular-season kicking job in the NFL, his third-quarter field goal helped the Giants avoid being shutout.
If that wasn't enough, Rosas' girlfriend gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter, in California.
Per Jordan Raanan of ESPN, Rosas was scheduled to fly from Dallas to California after the game to be with his expanded family for a couple of days before reporting back to East Rutherford on Wednesday for the start of the new working week.
If that doesn't define winning, then I don't know what does.
Loser: CB Eli Apple
Cornerback Eli Apple had himself a rough night against the Cowboys.
Per Pro Football Focus, the Cowboys targeted the second-year cornerback a team-high 12 times. Apple, who missed a chunk of the preseason due to two ankle sprains and is just now starting to get his feet back under him, finished with a 137.2 NFL rating when targeted, allowing 10 receptions by four different receivers who racked up 123 yards and one touchdown.
Although it wasn't the best effort by Apple, head coach McAdoo isn't worried.
"Eli just needs to play. He needs to take a step," he said. "He missed some time being nicked up in the preseason and he needs to get out there and he needs to play and he'll continue to improve."
Winner: DT Dalvin Tomlinson
Rookie Dalvin Tomlinson, who received the start alongside Damon Harrison, showed his run-stopping prowess with a solid showing against Ezekiel Elliott and company.
Per Pro Football Focus, his 19 run snaps yielded four tackles, three of which were stops for zero or negative yardage. He finished with a 15.8 run-stop percentage, better than Harrison's 4.3 percent.
Tomlinson isn't quite up to snuff as a pass-rusher just yet, but his NFL regular-season debut is something positive he can build on. In an interview with Inside Football, the 23-year-old spoke about his goals for his rookie season and his career:
"I want to go out there and be a dominant defensive lineman, first off by stopping the run and then making big plays and contributing to the defense, and then over time be able to rush the passer and things like that so I can be a 3-down player and be effective anywhere on the defensive line."
So far so good.
Loser: The Front Office
It's been a long time since the Giants had a solid offensive line.
Yet, despite having invested draft picks in four of the five starters—left tackle Ereck Flowers and left guard Justin Pugh (first round), center Weston Richburg (second round) and right tackle Bobby Hart (seventh round)—the line is far from being anywhere close to an "all-world" like that of the Cowboys.
The problem has been a lack of quality depth to push the starters. Flowers, now in his third season, has yet to be challenged for his job. Ditto Richburg and Pugh and, to a degree, Hart.
Meanwhile John Jerry, the only starter of the group who wasn't drafted—he signed as a free agent in 2014—has continued to struggle in reaching consistency as both a run and pass blocker.
But here's the true concern: the lack of depth. The backup guards are Brett Jones, a free agent who signed as a developmental project in 2015, and former Chargers offensive lineman D.J. Fluker, who struggled to earn snaps with the first-team offense.
The backup swing tackle, at least for now, is rookie Chad Wheeler, an undrafted free agent who struggled in the preseason but made the roster ahead of sixth-round pick Adam Bisnowaty (now on the practice squad because Wheeler can play left tackle).
That's not a pretty picture depth-wise, which is probably why McAdoo is reluctant to make any changes to the starting unit.
That blame lies squarely on the front office who while doing an admirable job to make over the skill positions, mysteriously didn’t devote as many resources to improving the most important unit on offense of all.
Patricia Traina covers the New York Giants for Inside Football, the Journal Inquirer and Sports Xchange. All quotes and information were obtained firsthand unless otherwise sourced.