Three Giants writers give their takeaways following Sunday's loss to the Cowboys:
The New York Giants came out of AT&T Stadium with a season-opening loss to the rival Dallas Cowboys. In this week's Cover 3, our writers talk about what they learned about the team after Week 1.
I will start this answer by quoting the head coach of the New York Giants after the game on Sunday night: "The offense was very disappointing. We are going to go back and look at the film and see how we can get better."
The Giants made some changes in the offseason with their personnel, but there still appears to be a lot of work to be done to get that unit where it needs to be. The one positive is that the team only turned it over once, which is a good number. You would prefer zero, but one turnover per game over the course of the season is a good rate.
Other problems, however, persisted. The team averaged only 2.9 yards per carry on 12 rushing attempts. There were only two passes completed of 20 yards of more and none of 40 yards or more. There was too much pressure on Eli Manning early in the game, which disrupted the flow of the offense. Obviously, Odell Beckham Jr.'s absence was a part of the problems, but as Eli Manning put it last night: "Obviously he is a tremendous player, but we got players. We got to play better than that. We got to do a better job finding completions on third down, converting those third downs and we'll do a better job of that."
I'm just going to use B.J. Goodson as a microcosm of the night. The new middle linebacker and pilot of the defense had 18 tackles, more than double any other player on the field, just like how Dallas doubled up the time of possession in the first half. He had to make that many tackles because the Giants could not get off the field on defense nor stay on the field on offense. That's why you heard the phrase "complementary football" over and over from Ben McAdoo and players in the postgame locker room. While the defense snacked, the offense and special teams brought little to the table. But the good thing – and sometimes the bad thing – about this league is that the next game can erase everything. They don't call it "Overreaction Monday" for nothing.
In 2016, the Giants ranked 29th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (88 yards) and 30th in yards per carry (3.5). They also finished 26th in the league in points per game (19.4). Given the personnel the team added in free agency and the draft, those were areas they were looking to improve upon in 2017, but that didn't translate to the field in Week 1. Once again, the Giants had a hard time running the ball with just 12 carries for 35 yards (technically 11 for 34 because one of them was an Eli Manning kneel down) against the Cowboys and they also struggled to maintain and finish drives as the offense recorded just 13 first downs and one field goal. Manning also had to deal with a lot of pressure throughout the game, which clearly affected his ability to throw the ball down the field and create big plays. Did Odell Beckham Jr.'s absence impact strategy for both the Giants and Cowboys? Very likely. Is every season different and does personnel change? Absolutely, but you can't overlook the fact that Big Blue has scored less than 20 points in each of its last seven games, including the wild card playoff loss to the Packers.
While it's easy to overreact after one game, the production and consistency of the offense will be critical moving forward, especially when you take into consideration that the defense surrendered just 19 points to the Cowboys. The latter unit is clearly just as strong as it was in 2016, and B.J. Goodson already looks like a seasoned pro at middle linebacker. But, like any group, the more it's on the field, the more likely it will wear down and eventually surrender points. That's why the offense has to complement the defense.