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5 things we learned from Giants vs. Dolphins

Posted Aug 12, 2016

Giants.com highlights five takeaways from Friday's preseason loss to the Dolphins: 

On Friday night, Ben McAdoo took the sideline for his first game as head coach of the New York Giants.

“I was excited,” he said following the 27-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins in the first preseason game. “I think everybody in the locker room was excited. It was the first time to get out and go against another team, it always provides some good energy.”

Here are five things we learned from the preseason opener:

1. McADOO ENCOURAGED BY FIRST TEAM

With McAdoo opting to sit Eli Manning and start backup quarterback Ryan Nassib, the Giants marched 74 yards on nine plays for a touchdown on the opening drive. The defense held serve, forcing four punts and grabbing an interception on the Dolphins’ first five possessions. But as the first teams were substituted out, Nassib turned the ball over three times in a row and Miami capitalized, scoring 27 unanswered points to end the game on top.

>> WATCH GIANTS VS. DOLPHINS HIGHLIGHTS

“I think, overall, as an offense, Ryan was right in line with everybody else tonight. It was a sloppy performance,” McAdoo said. “Anytime you have six balls on the ground and two INT’s, it was not what we were looking for.”

Added McAdoo: “I thought the first-team defense took a solid step tonight, coming out and playing with each other for the first time…encouraging.”

2. OC SULLIVAN CALLED PLAYS

Since finalizing his coaching staff in mid-February, McAdoo has been mum on who would handle play-calling duties, something he did the last two seasons for the Giants as offensive coordinator. In the preseason opener, it was current coordinator Mike Sullivan, previously the team’s quarterbacks coach. We’ll see if that’s the case going forward.

>> INSTANT POSTGAME ANALYSIS

“It was fine…we need to execute better,” McAdoo said.

What wasn’t fine was their turnover differential. The Giants put the ball on the ground six times, losing two of them. They also threw two interceptions for four total turnovers to Miami’s one.

“I’m not pleased about any of that,” McAdoo said.

3. PASS RUSH CAME ALIVE

Last season, the Giants finished 30th in the league with 23 sacks, or 1.4 per game. So they went out and signed one of the best pass rushers on the market in defensive end Olivier Vernon. The former Dolphin harassed his old teammate Ryan Tannehill, notching two quarterback hits and limiting him to just eight yards. The Giants finished the night with eight quarterback hits and four sacks, two of which went to defensive end Owa Odighizuwa, who is looking to become the third pass rusher behind Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul.

“It was good to see him get some nice rushes in there,” McAdoo said. “We’ll have to look at a couple of plays in the run game. He was active, and Owa’s a guy…he just has to let it rip. He’s a talented young man, he’s a good looking sucker, and he just has to go out there and let it rip and play fast and play aggressive.”

4. APPLE, SHEPARD NOT CONCERNED; INJURY NOTES

Cornerback Eli Apple and wide receiver Sterling Shepard, the Giants’ top two picks in the draft, dealt with injuries in Friday night’s game, but they don’t appear serious. Apple left with a strained lower leg, while Shepard has been working through a tight groin.

“I kind of just tweaked it a little bit on special teams, punt return,” Apple said. “Just got a little bit off balance and I was trying to like hold up the guy that was blocking and kind of just tweaked it, but I’m feeling fine. It’s just a lower leg strain, it’s going to be fine.”

“I feel good,” Shepard said. “It’s just sore from practice, but it’s all good now.”

Meanwhile, wide receiver Geremy Davis injured his hamstring during the game. “Doesn’t look severe at this point but things can change overnight,” McAdoo said. Fellow wideout Victor Cruz, who did not play Friday night because of a groin issue, could practice Sunday -- “hopefully.”

5. WILLIAMS LED WAY ON THE GROUND

Looking to get back to his rookie numbers in 2014 when he rushed for 721 yards and seven touchdowns, Andre Williams led the team on Friday night with nine carries for 41 yards with a long of 16 yards. As a team, the Giants rushed for 158 yards on 32 carries (4.9-yard average). 

“I thought the first half we came out, we wanted to run the football, wanted to work the outside zone a little bit just to get that going there,” McAdoo said. “They were running some wide-nine techniques in their front that made it challenging early on. We had a bunch of plays, we may have had 44 or so at half, so we felt like we were moving the ball and getting quality reps there from an offensive standpoint, we just didn’t finish the drive. We had the ball on the ground there on the goal line and we have to take care of the ball better and finish drives.”