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Giant Takeaways: Defense Decimated in Dallas

The New York Giants got their 2019 season started on the losing end, as they lose 35-17 to the NFC East rival Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Sunday.

With plenty of question marks surrounding the Giants offense following the return of Eli Manning and absence of Odell Beckham Jr., it’s safe to say that’s the least of their problems moving forward.

Here are some takeaways from their Week 1 loss to the Cowboys.

Dismal Defense

How general manager Dave Gettleman addressed the defense this past offseason raised some eyebrows of concern. Gone is Landon Collins and enter Jabrill Peppers. With a glaring need of pass rushing help in the 2019 NFL Draft, Gettleman waits until Round 3 to take one.

On Sunday, the Cowboys exposed the Giants defense, who allowed 494 total yards. Quarterback Dak Prescott was surgical in his precision, completing 25-of-32 pass attempts for 405 yards and four touchdowns, while posting a perfect 158.3 passer rating. Four different receivers were recipients of Prescott touchdown passes, while Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup both posted over 100 receiving yards.

Oh, and the Giants still struggle in covering tight ends.

New York’s pass rush was nonexistent, as Prescott stood in the pocket unpressured. As for the coverage, there were plenty of miscommunications in the defensive backfield. Blake Jarwin was essentially wide open in the end zone on Dallas’ first touchdown, and Randall Cobb split between four Giants defenders on his second quarter score.

DeAndre Baker and Antonio Hamilton both struggled as the No. 2 corners. Hamilton struggled to bring the ballcarrier down, while Baker’s inexperience was evident as he trailed the receiver on numerous plays.

If anything will hold back the Giants this season, it’s the defense.

Eli Efficient

Eli Manning has been the talk of the Giants for the better part of the calendar year. After a down 2018, many thought it was time for the organization to move on. Instead, the Giants brought him back for his 16th season, stressing he still had something left in the tank.

On Sunday, Manning had an admirable showing, as he completed 30-of-44 pass attempts for 306 yards and one touchdown.

With the additions of Kevin Zeitler and Mike Remmers, and the return of center Jon Halapio, New York’s offense clicked. That was evidenced on the opening drive, as Manning completed his first pass of the game to running back Saquon Barkley. On the very next play, Barkley took his first carry 59-yards, setting the Giants up in prime scoring territory. Five plays later, Manning found tight end Evan Engram for a one-yard touchdown to put New York up early.

While Manning did check down the ball numerous times, he showed off his arm, throwing a 43-yard pass to receiver Cody Latimer at the start of the third quarter.

Eli Manning’s 16th season got off on a good start, but as mentioned earlier, the defense is a main cause of concern moving forward.

Offense Built Around Engram

With Odell Beckham Jr. gone, many believed the targets would move onto tight end Evan Engram. Reports heading into Week 1 indicated the Giants were preparing for Engram to have “a massive role” in the offense. That proved to be correct in Week 1.

Engram hauled in 11-of-14 targets for 116 yards, which led the entire offense.

Golden Tate is out until Week 5 due to suspension, so there will be targets aplenty for Engram from here on out.

Where’s Saquon?

If there was one issue with the Giants offense, it was their third-down performance. On the day, New York successfully converted on just two of those 11 opportunities.

Those issues were exemplified by the lack of Saquon Barkley on the field. The second-year running back logged just 11 carries for the game, rushing for 120 yards (10.9 yard average). But on pivotal situations in the red zone, Barkley was nowhere to be found. Like in the third quarter on a third-and-two, head coach Pat Shurmur called a fullback run with Eli Penny…which netted a whole yard.

It appeared like the Giants were getting cute with the play-calling, and it cost them. New York simply has to utilize Barkley more in their game plan moving forward.

Daniel Jones Regular Season Debut Marred

Everyone in the NFL world asked one question for the past four months: “when will Daniel Jones see the field in the regular season?”

The answer proved to be Week 1. With 1:46 remaining and the game completely out of reach, Pat Shurmur called upon the sixth overall pick in garbage time. Jones started off the drive completing his first three passes for 17 yards. On play No. 4, Jones threw an incomplete deep pass intended for tight end Rhett Ellison.

Jones’ day would come to an end after scrambling for five yards on third down, but fumbled the ball when tackled by linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. During his stellar preseason, Jones’ main issue was ball security, and it surfaced again in the regular season.

Daniel Jones got the call early, and now the real question will be when the Duke product gets his first official start.

What’s Next?

The New York Giants hold their home opener at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 15 against the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo recently overcame a 16-0 deficit against the New York Jets to win 17-16 on Sunday. Will the Giants earn their first “W” or suffer another dreaded “L?”

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Scott Rogust
General Editor and New York Giants Lead Writer.
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