The New York Football Giants were dreadful! Their arch rival the Dallas Cowboys controlled this game from the beginning and buried the Giants 19-3. The last time a Giants team played so poorly on Opening Day was 1995. On a night when the Giants retired Phil Simms number 11, a piss-poor Giants squad was demolished by the would-be Super Bowl Champion Cowboys 35-0. The 1995 Giants never recovered from that humiliating defeat, subsequently losing their first THREE games and finishing up the season with a thud at 5-11. In order to keep this Super Bowl dream alive, the Giants must get things fixed on offense immediately. Otherwise, the 2017 Giants may mirror the 1995 team.
Before the season began, my colleague Peter Furman raised several salient questions about this Giants team. They are worth reviewing now:
- Can the D dominate again?
- Can Spagnuolo get these guys to be as good or better?
- Will the Eagles, Cowboys and Redskins be better or the same?
- Can Eli, OBJ and the new receivers make the offense better without a running game as Gallman from Clemson did not impress at all?
Despite being on the field for over 34 minutes, Spagnuolo’s defense played well. Holding the Cowboys to 16 points at the half and and 3 points in the second half, the Giants defense kept them from getting blown out. From Pete’s first two questions, the good news is this Giants unit can be better and dominate again. But, hold on. If the Giants offense cannot get out of first gear, the defense will not be as effective because they will be on the field too often.
Although OBJ did not play, the offense was still dysfunctional. Head coach Ben McAdoo on his offense:
The offense was very disappointing. We’re going to go back and look at the film, and see how we can get better,” McAdoo said. “We need to go back and take a look at the film. I know no part of the offense was functional tonight.
As we have examined this team in the offseason, Eli plus the new receivers did not make the offense better. Eli threw for 220 yards with NO touchdowns and ONE interception. WR Brandon Marshall was invisible. One catch for 10 yards. This catch came late in the fourth quarter. First-round draft pick Evan Engram had four catches for 44 yards. In order for this offense to click, Eli and his new receivers have to overcome the shortcomings of the line and the inept running game.
Speaking of the running game or lack of one, the Giants gained a measley 35 yards rushing. To start off the season with an atrocious performance and a carry over from last year’s awful offense, this is troubling. Going back to last year, in the last seven games, which includes the playoff game against the Packers, the Giants are averaging 13.5 points per game. If they continute at this pace, the Giants will have another forgettable season. Therefore, it is imperative McAdoo gets things in order next week versus Detroit.
The first offensive drive of the game was reminicescent of Giants pathetic offenses of yesteryear. Three plays and Wing. Three yards were gained on first and second down. Then on third down, embattled RT Bobby Hart whiffed on his block. Cowboys DE Lawrence sacked Eli Manning for a seven-yard loss. There were so many articles written in the offseason touting the improvement of tackles Bobby Hart and Ereck Flowers. Both guys worked out together to improve on their techniques. After last night, they still have a lot of work to do.
In addition, I hold Giants OL coach Mike Solari accountable, too. We called for McAdoo to make offensive coaching changes. One of the changes was to fire Solari. If one puts stock in Pro Football Focus statistics, Solari did not improve the Giants offensive line from 2015 to 2016. In consecutive years, the Giants line was graded 20th. So, no improvement. As we witnessed against the Cowboys last night, still no improvement.
It is evident Eli Manning’s career is coming to an end. Despite having a crappy offensive line and no running game, Eli’s passes were erratic and he looked uncomfortable in the pocket. In 2014, McAdoo revitalized Manning’s career by going with a short drop and throwing quick short passes. It is my belief, the league has caught up to this strategy. Opposing defenses are flooding the short-passing windows that leave Eli nowhere to throw. It is up to McAdoo to come up with a different approach to attack defenses.
This Giants team did not give up. They were losing 16-0 at the half and only lost 19-3. To be fair, we have to credit McAdoo for having his players continue to fight until the clock expired. This is a positive sign.
Speaking of fighting, the Giants defense deserves tremendous credit for keeping this game close. At halftime, the Cowboys had the ball for 20 minutes. That is correct: 20 minutes. The score was only 16-0. If it was not for the effort of the Giants defense, the score would have been like the 1995 game, 35-0.