Giants Fall to Browns 20-10 in Preseason Opener
The New York Giants lost their preseason opener to the Cleveland Browns 20-10 on Thursday night at MetLife Stadium.
While the scores don’t matter in preseason, it is about the performance of each player on the 90-man roster. There were ups, and there were downs. Here are the standouts from the first game of the summer.
Barkley Makes Debut in Style
The wait was over for Giants fans around the nation, as rookie Saquon Barkley stepped on an NFL field for the first time. He started off his career in style, as he took his first carry for a huge 39-yard gain. Barkley showed patience and confidence behind the offensive line, while exuding impressive footwork to work his way to the outside on the run.
“What I saw on that first carry, the offensive line did a great job of creating space and creating a hole,” said Barkley. “I was able to have patience and Evan (Engram) did an unbelievable job of blocking on the backside, and I was able to burst through the hole, make a guy miss and get up field.”
Barkley would finish the night with 43 rushing yards on five carries. A short amount of playing time for the rookie, but it was expected, and he excelled in his debut.
Backup QB Situation a Shaky One
Let’s be honest with this one, the passing game did not perform well on Thursday night.
Once Eli Manning left the game after two drives, Davis Webb entered the game, and he struggled mightily at the start. His passes were all over the field, blocked, and bouncing off receivers hands. Not to mention Webb faced a decent amount of pressure from the defense, who powered their way through the offensive line. Fans and analysts have waited a long time to see Webb take the field, and while it is early on in the preseason, it wasn’t the best performance.
Fourth-round pick Kyle Lauletta entered the game, and there were points where he looked good, including a dime pass to receiver Amba Etta-Tawo. Just like Webb, however, Lauletta was under pressure numerous times as well.
The Giants signal callers finished the night completing 19-of-39 passes for just 144 yards and a 58.1 passer rating.
Not the best performances, but be patient, as the team has three more games to play before the start of the season.
Pass Defense Struggles
The pass defense didn’t get off to the greatest start in New York.
Tyrod Taylor and first overall pick Baker Mayfield shined at MetLife, completely lighting up the defense. Taylor finished the night completing all five of his pass attempts for 99 yards and one touchdown. Mayfield completed 11-of-20 passes for 212 yards and 212 touchdowns.
The defense had trouble containing the quarterbacks. Cornerback Eli Apple was notoriously burned on a route by receiver Rashard Higgins in the first quarter. On the very next play, linebacker Alec Ogletree was beaten in coverage by tight end and Cedar Grove-native David Njoku, who caught 36-yard pass for the touchdown.
Another play in particular was Mayfield poised in the pocket and connecting on a bullet pass to Antonio Callaway. The rookie would reach for the catch past a diving Leonard Johnson and use his speed to rush past Orion Stewart for the 54-yard score.
We’re going to have to give the pass defense some time before we make final judgments.
Run Defense Stuffs Cleveland
While the Giants pass defense struggled, the run stoppers came to play on Thursday night. Out of eight Cleveland rushers, the Giants allowed just 50 yards on 33 rush attempts.
A.J. Francis is a particular standout, as he made his presence felt on every snap he was a part of. One play that sticks out was his pressure on the pass rush against Mayfield, getting to him just as he threw a pass, sending it off target.
Robert Thomas stuck out during the game as well, including his sack on Mayfield on third down, which resulted in Cleveland getting bounced out of field goal range.
Martin and Simmons Shine
While everyone was talking about Barkley’s debut, let’s not forget about Robert Martin and Jalen Simmons. The young rushers both made the most of their carries.
Simmons scored the Giants only touchdown of the game, when he squeaked past the sea of Cleveland defenders for the four-yard score. He finished the game with 38 rushing yards on seven carries.
Martin on the other hand, was very explosive when he was given the rock. The Rutgers product took five carries for 39 yards, including a huge 19-yard gain.
O-Line Growing Pains
The left side of the offensive line is not of the concern here. It is the center and right side of the line of scrimmage.
Center Jon Halapio struggled early on in the game, after he looked completely lost on a blitz from Browns linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who bulldozed his way through the line and past running back Jonathan Stewart for a huge sack on Manning.
As mentioned earlier, the quarterbacks found themselves running for their lives at points during the contest. However, they did shine in the running game. Shurmur is known for being an offensive line guru, so it will just take some patience to get everything flowing this summer, where we should get a better look at what the o-line depth chart will look like come September.
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