Giant Takeaways: Manning, Barkley Lead Giants to Victory Over Buccaneers
The New York Giants have their first winning streak in nearly two years, as they defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-35 on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Fanas at the Meaddowlands and viewers at home witnessed something that has been a rarity in recent memory, a fast Giants start. New York would quickly make it 14-0, thanks to back-to-back touchdowns from rookie running back Saquon Barkley. For the Giants, it was a lead they would never relinquish, despite late surges from the Buccaneers.
There were plenty of ups, as well as some downs, so let’s dissect this Giants victory.
Don’t etch his name on the proverbial tombstone just yet. For the second-consecutive week, quarterback Eli Manning looked great, and helped lead New York’s offensive resurgence.
The 15-year veteran was just one completion from perfection, as 17-of-18 passes were successful for 231 yards and two touchdown, as well as notching a 155.8 passer rating. Manning’s rapport with Odell Beckham Jr. is at an all-time high, as the wide receiver hauled in all four of his targets for 74 yards and a touchdown. Not a bad day at the office.
A lot of that success can be attributed to yet another good performance by the guys up front at the line of scrimmage. The addition of Jamon Brown continues to pay dividends, as he has solidified the interior of the offensive line, and has made his teammates play better.
The chatter surrounding Manning in regards to being benched for the rest of the season has been halted. Well, at least for another week.
Operation “Feed Saquon” a Success
Head coach Pat Shurmur finally pulled the trigger on what many were hollering for since Week 1. Instead of going with a pass-heavy approach, they decided to give a heavy dose of carries to rookie running back Saquon Barkley.
Sunday proved to be step one in the new offensive experiment, and it worked.
Barkley was handed the ball 27 times against Tampa Bay’s defense, and he took those for a total of 147 yards and two touchdowns. The second overall pick in this past NFL Draft also hauled in two passes for ten yards and a score.
The rookie found many openings towards the interior of the o-line, as Will Hernandez and Jamon Brown blocked sufficiently enough for Barkley to break through. Barkley showed speed, aggressiveness, and elusiveness, just what you want to see from a running back dubbed as a generational talent.
This is why the Giants took Barkley with their first round draft pick, and now, they are using him as the focal point of the offense, as they should have from the get-go.
A Tale of Two Defenses
Sunday was a case of Jekyll and Hyde when speaking about the play of New York’s defense.
Ryan Fitzpatrick started off the first half of the game for Tampa Bay, and the defense lit him up to a terrible stat line. The man known as “Fitzmagic” was downright “Fitztragic” at MetLife Stadium, as he completed 13 of his 20 pass attempts for 167 yards, while throwing three interceptions. The play that would knock Fitzpatrick out of the game was his intended pass for wide receiver DeSean Jackson. However, cornerback Janoris Jenkins knew what was coming, as he tipped the pass, allowing linebacker Alec Ogletree to grab it off of his torso, and waltz into the end zone for the pick-six.
Fitzpatrick was taken out of the game by head coach Dirk Koetter in favor of Jameis Winston, and that’s when the Giants defense flipped the switch for all the wrong reasons.
Winston would systematically pick apart the Giants secondary, as he went 12-for-16 for 199 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Buccaneers crawl out of the hole Fitzpatrick dug them into. Winston properly utilized Mike Evans, O.J. Howard, and Adam Humphries, and it was like the Giants forgot how to stop them, despite containing them in the beginning of the game.
New York’s defense would surrender 510 yards of offense. 359 of those coming from both Fitzpatrick and Winston, with 151 coming on the ground (106 yards and a touchdown from starter Peyton Barber).
No Pass Rush = Close Games
But the most concerning portion of New York’s defensive squad is the lack of a pass rush.
The Giants had just one sack in the game, and that came from linebacker Kareem Martin in the first quarter. After that, it was all quiet on the Western Front.
Olivier Vernon is supposed to be the difference maker at the line of scrimmage and get to the opposing quarterback. The outside linebacker has just eight total tackles and one sack through five games this season. Could he still be feeling the effects of the high ankle sprain he suffered prior to the regular season opener? Possibly, but it is telling, considering he’s earning an annual salary of $18 million.
It didn’t end there for Vernon, as he was called for three penalties on three consecutive plays, which equated to 25 yards handed over to the Buccaneers.
Yes, there is a bit of a youth movement in the defensive front seven, it is nothing but troubling for New York, if they hope to win out and compete in the winnable NFC East
Corey Coleman Has a Future as a Return Man
The past few months have been tumultuous for Corey Coleman.
He was bounced from the Cleveland Browns after demanding a trade on “Hard Knocks” due to his demotion to second-team. Coleman would be traded to the Buffalo Bills just days later and played out the remainder of the preseason, until becoming one of the team’s final roster cuts. A stint with the New England Patriots was a short one, as he was waived in favor of former teammate Josh Gordon.
Coleman would finally land with the Giants’ practice squad, following the injuries to receivers Cody Latimer and Russell Shepard. He received his first shot on the active roster as the return man last Monday against the San Francisco 49ers, where he performed admirably.
On Sunday versus Tampa, Coleman thrived in his new role. The former 2015 first-round pick out of Baylor took the opening kickoff for 40 yards, to set New York up in great position on the opening drive, leading to a Barkley touchdown reception.
Coleman would finish the day returning five kicks for a total of 134 yards (26.8 yards on average).
While his days as a No. 1 receiver are over, Coleman can extend his NFL career by transitioning to a professional return man, where he has already shown flashes of success.
The Giants look to extend their winning streak to three games, as they face off against the rival Philadelphia Eagles. New York are entering a seemingly favorable matchup, as Philadelphia is coming off a 48-7 drubbing at the hands of the New Orleans Saints, which can be attributed to a depleted Eagles secondary.
Will the Giants be able to pick up ground in the NFC East? Or will Philadelphia continue to thrive in their roles as “Giant Killers?”
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