The New York Giants fell to 0-1 to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football this week by a score of 26-16. There is a lot to take away from this game, such as the performance of quarterback Daniel Jones, but there is also hope that this season is not another lost one just yet.
Daniel Jones Among Positives in New York Giants Loss
The Negatives, Including Evan Engram
The Giants run blocking was atrocious on Monday night. It was so bad that it felt like the Steelers knew what play the Giants were running every time they chose to hand the ball off. Third-year star running back Saquon Barkley was held to just six yards on 15 carries, getting completely shut down by the Steelers defense.
The Giants offensive line needs to clean up their run blocking, games cannot be won if the run game is completely nonexistent.
Evan Engram most likely had the worst game of his career. Dropped passes, poor blocking and an offensive pass interference call sums up Engram’s first game of 2020, absolutely brutal. Engram is a key part of this offense, staying healthy has been his problem since entering the league. However, he usually produces whenever he is on the field, except for Monday night.
“I definitely want to and need to be better,” Engram said in a conference call Friday. “I definitely hold myself accountable.” Engram needs to fix his mistakes fast if the Giants want any chance of beating the Chicago Bears.
Capitalizing in the Redzone
The Giants had opportunities to score all night, but could not punch it in for six. If the Giants had scored a touchdown rather than settling for a field goal in the first quarter and after their 19-play drive, this could have been a completely different ball game. Daniel Jones’ first redzone interception of his NFL career certainly did not help the Giants case, as that one play killed a drive that lasted almost nine minutes.
While Andrew Thomas held his own in pass protection, especially against tough competition such as Bud Dupree, the rest of the offensive line needs work. This does not only apply to the linemen, but also skill players such as Saquon Barkley.
While we know what Saquon is capable of, his pass protection needs improvement. There is no doubt that Barkley headed into practice the next day and got straight to work, but it needs to show up on the field. Former Giants RB Tiki Barber had some things to say regarding Saquon’s performance on Monday night:
“If you’ve watched him the last couple of years, he just doesn’t wanna block … if you can’t block, you can’t be on the field on third down.” Barkley took the criticism well, saying that he took Barber’s comments as a challenge rather than disrespect.
As for the rest of the offensive line, they have another tough matchup against Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn.
Daniel Jones was pressured on 26 of his 48 drop-backs on Monday night, a whopping 54.2%, which was the most of any quarterback in Week 1. Blocking overall needs to improve, while Jones can use his legs to extend plays, it’s not ideal to have your second-year quarterback running for his life on over half of his drop-backs.
The Positives, Including Daniel Jones
While his two interceptions were bad, including the one where it ended a 19-play drive, Daniel Jones looked great in his first week 1 start. Jones went 26/41 for 279 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and a 63.4% completion percentage against a tough Steelers defense.
Jones looked way more confident in the pocket, slinging the ball all night and re-establishing the connection with fellow second-year player Darius Slayton. Jones also used his legs to extend plays and run for first downs to extend drives. He also had zero fumbles, something that he was heavily criticized for this past off-season.
The former fifth-round draft choice picked up right where he left off. Slayton hauled in six passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns, good for 17 yards per catch.
Slayton’s two touchdowns brings his career total to ten, which makes him the receiver with the most touchdowns since week 5 of last season. Slayton is also tied first for most games with 100+ yards and 2+ touchdowns since 2019, tying with Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin.
If Slayton keeps playing well, this Giants offense is bound to explode.
While they started to show signs of wear near the end of the game, the Giants defense played better than expected against the Steelers offense.
Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence each added a sack and free agent acquisition Blake Martinez racked up 12 tackles, eight of them solo tackles. James Bradberry locked down his side of the field, adding two passes defended. Lorenzo Carter added in three pressures, tying for most on the team alongside Leonard Williams.
The only cause for concern on defense was the CB2 position. Corey Ballentine was getting picked on all night, along with newcomer Isaac Yiadom, who surrendered one touchdown.
The defense played well and they need to keep playing with high energy heading to Chicago. The front seven needs to keep applying pressure and forcing the quarterback to make quick decisions.
The offensive line as a whole played poorly, but rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas played well in his Giants debut. While it was a rough night collectively, Thomas held his own against tough competition. It’s evident, specifically on the 41-yard touchdown to Darius Slayton, that Thomas belongs in this league. He held Bud Dupree on an island on that play, and did well the rest of the night.
There were some miscues, as all rookies have in their first games. However, Thomas was the lone bright spot on a rather disappointing blocking performance.
The Giants need to clean some things up if they want any chance to beat Chicago this week. Limiting turnovers, keep applying pressure, better blocking and containing Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn are just a few keys to the game.
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