3 Takeaways from Giants' Week 1 Loss
The New York Giants remained in the NFC East running throughout the 2020 season. While New York won just six games, it forged a new identity as a physical defensive team capable of being a playoff threat under head coach Joe Judge.
On Sunday, though, the Giants showed that they are still a work in progress. There are plenty of positives to take away from their 27-13 loss against the Denver Broncos, but a moral victory shouldn't be one of them.
If New York hopes to be a playoff contender in 2021, it will have to be better than it was Sunday. Here's what else we learned during the season opener.
Saquon Barkley Cannot Carry the Offense
Perhaps the biggest positive for New York on Sunday was the fact that Saquon Barkley took the field. The second overall pick in the 2018 draft has shown that he can be special at the NFL level, but he is also making his way back from a torn ACL.
There was uncertainty surrounding his status for Week 1, but Barkley suited up and made his presence felt against Denver.
However, Barkley was not the difference-maker he has been in the past. He averaged just 2.6 yards per carry and did little more than show that he's healthy enough to play.
"Nothing alarmed me," Barkley said, per ESPN's Jordan Raanan. "I guess you can say that is a positive sign."
The Broncos had to respect Barkley, but they never had to fear him. That's likely to be how opponents view the Penn State product until he is back to 100 percent. Seeing Barkley on the field was a plus for the Giants, but they cannot expect him to be their offensive centerpiece anytime soon.
Leaning on the Defense Isn't an Option
Last year, the Giants remained competitive because of a defense that ranked 12th overall and ninth in points allowed. Sunday's game showed that New York will have to be a more balanced team in 2021 if it hopes to be a contender.
The Broncos and new starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had their way with the Giants defense far too often. Bridgewater finished 28-of-36 for 264 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Melvin Gordon III averaged a whopping 9.2 yards per carry en route to a 100-yard rushing outing.
Denver, for the record, finished last season ranked 23rd in total offense and 28th in points scored.
The Giants did not face an offensive powerhouse Sunday, but they were never able to take control defensively. For a team that is expected to win on that side of the ball, that's an alarming takeaway from the opening-day loss.
Daniel Jones Has to Be Better
If the Giants cannot depend on Barkley or their defense to take over games, they are going to have to get more from quarterback Daniel Jones. The third-year signal-caller wasn't an embarrassment against Denver, but he never seemed to be the best quarterback on the field.
Jones finished 22-of-37 for 267 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 27 yards and a score.
The quarterback also fumbled on a run in the red zone with the Giants threatening to make the game close. His lack of ball security is nothing new, as he fumbled 29 times in his first two seasons. But a quarterback in his third season should not be making the mental errors Jones continues to make.
The reality is that the Giants still don't know whether they have a franchise quarterback in Jones. Sunday's inefficient performance did nothing to suggest otherwise.