Three Giants writers give their takeaways from the Giants' Preseason Week 2 loss to the Browns:
The New York Giants hit the road for the first time this year but fell, 10-6, to the Cleveland Browns on Monday night. Our Giants.com writers share their biggest takeaways from the second preseason game.
Here is what they had to say:
What stood out to me was that last night's preseason game looked a lot like the Giants did in 2016. The first-team defense was wonderful. The defensive ends were disruptive. The secondary covered well. A physical and active showing by B.J. Goodson was a nice addition to an already terrific unit.
The offense showed some of the struggles we saw last season. If you take away two draw plays to Shane Vereen in the two-minute drill at the end of the half, the Giants had eight rushes for 13 yards. So much attention has been given to the offensive tackles, but there were more issues inside trying to get running backs downhill. All offseason, the coaches talked about needing to run the ball better and so far it hasn't shown up in games. The other thing the coaches emphasized was cleaning up the turnovers, but the offense still tallied three. In addition to those difficulties, the team's top two playmakers (Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall) left with injuries. The Giants will look to clean things up offensively against the Jets on Saturday night.
If there is one thing a head coach will never get over and just chalk up to the preseason, it's turning the ball over. Whether it's pre-, post- or plain old regular, protecting the "Duke" is the cardinal rule of any season. And the Giants have been breaking it too often. In the span of four plays on Monday night, Geno Smith threw an interception at the goal line, and the Browns then fumbled it to the Giants, only to have rookie running back Wayne Gallman give it right back. Coach Ben McAdoo said he takes it personally, especially because he has a period in practice solely dedicated to ball security. The defense did its job, but the offense came away with two field goals and three turnovers. The Giants tied for the eighth-most giveaways in the NFL last year and were the only playoff team in the top 10. New England and Atlanta, the two Super Bowl participants, were tied for the fewest.
"We can't keep turning the ball over," left guard Justin Pugh said. "That's the number one goal coming into this year -- limit turnovers, especially when we get down there with a chance to score a touchdown. We have to protect the ball and I know Coach is going to get us about that, and Coach (Mike) Sullivan, and rightfully so."
For the second straight preseason game, the first-team defense looked like it was in midseason form. Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon were on the field together in a game for the first time since Week 13 of last season, and they both wreaked plenty of havoc against a revamped Browns offensive line. JPP had an interception off a Vernon deflection and, later in the game, split a sack with Vernon. They both complemented each other nicely, and Vernon even showed a new facet to his game as he dropped back in coverage, deep down the field, and defended a pass to perfection, looking like a defensive back. It wasn't just the veterans that stood out. B.J. Goodson is getting more and more comfortable at middle linebacker by the snap. His keen instincts were on full display as he recorded a sack for the second straight game and was extremely effective stopping the run, especially on a cutback play that he could not have dissected better.
It's more than fair to say that after two preseason games, the defense is clearly ahead of the offense, which has produced six field goals and no touchdowns in eight quarters of play. For the second straight game, the offense struggled to run the ball consistently and put together sustained drives, two points of emphasis heading into this season. Tight end Evan Engram continues to show flashes of his athleticism and ability to stretch the field as he hauled in three passes for 32 yards, highlighted by a 21-yard gain. Lastly, the competition for the starting kicking job doesn't appear to be slowing down. Mike Nugent and Aldrick Rosas each took advantage of their lone field goal attempts, and both are three-for-three in the preseason. This battle will likely go down to the wire.