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Cover 4

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Cover 4: Takeaways & reaction to Kickoff Weekend


The crew reacts to the 40-point shutout loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1:

John Schmeelk: There are times in every sport when things begin to go wrong and the boulder starts to roll down the mountain. When bad things begin to compound, two things can happen: the boulder can keep gaining momentum with circumstances getting worse and worse, or someone can start pushing it back up the mountain. On Sunday night, the boulder was not stopped. There was no big play to stop all the bad momentum.

The Giants finished with one offensive play that went for 20 yards, and only one other play that went for more than 15. Isaiah Hodgins had a 24-yard catch, but that was quickly negated when he was stripped by Trevon Diggs. On defense, the Giants had no sacks and only three official quarterback hits. They only managed three tackles for loss.

In a game where the Giants were desperate for anyone to make a play above the Xs and Os to change the flow of the game, no one could. That's how you end up with a 40-0 defeat at home on opening night.

One other note that's important for Giants fans to remember: Week 1 is a liar. Weird things happen in Week 1. In 2022, the Bears beat the 49ers, the Steelers beat the Bengals, and the Bucs dominated Dallas 19-3. This year, the Bengals, a perennial Super Bowl favorite with potential MVP Joe Burrow didn't manage 100 passing yards. The Rams beat the Seahawks handily. There will be games in Week 1 that we will all say, "How did that happen?"

Dan Salomone: The Giants started a rookie center (John Michael Schmitz) for the first time in a season-opening game since 1997 and two rookie cornerbacks (Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins III) for the first time since 1980. While not completely uncharted, the Giants knew they would be relying on their draft class right out of the gate. With their "Welcome to the NFL" moment out of the way, Saquon Barkley, the 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, had some advice for them:

"It's the National Football League. You've got to move on. The train is going to keep on moving—hop on. They're talented, like I told them all before, you prepare for this moment your whole life – nothing new, you're going to have bad games, you're going to have bad plays in the NFL. It happens to all of us. I think you go through any locker room, any person that's been in the league long enough, everyone has had a bad play, so continue to move on, learn from it and grow."

View photos from the week 1 matchup between the Giants and Cowboys at MetLife Stadium.

Lance Medow: If there's one area that separated the Giants and Cowboys in 2022, it was play in the trenches on both sides. Dallas set the tone in getting after the quarterback on defense and running the ball effectively on offense. After one meeting this season, it has yet to change. Dallas recorded seven sacks and 12 quarterback hits in Sunday night's win, nearly matching its total from both contests last season. Dan Quinn's defense was relentless as five different players collected at least one sack and seven at least one quarterback hit. Plain and simple, Daniel Jones was under siege for most of the game as the Cowboys' defensive front wreaked havoc and disrupted the Giants from the end of the first drive to the last play of the game.

By winning the battle in the trenches, the Cowboys were able to create three turnovers, highlighted by a Pick-6 and even added a special teams touchdown off a blocked field goal as Juanyeh Thomas jumped over the middle of the line to deny Graham Gano a clean kick. Such plays created a great deal of separation between both teams, and then Dallas' run game sealed the deal. The individual player totals may not jump off the page, but the group as a whole piled up 122 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Of their 30 run plays, just four went for no gain or negative yards. Tony Pollard & Co. methodically moved up and down the field and continued to push the pile forward. New York failed to record a sack against Dallas in two matchups last season, and the same result occurred again here in Week 1 with just three quarterback hits. The play in the trenches made it hard to showcase all the new offensive toys.

Matt Citak: One of the reasons for the Giants' success last season was their ability to protect the football. In the first season under coach Brian Daboll, the Giants turned over the ball just 16 times, the second-fewest in the league. But, as Daboll made clear throughout the summer, one season does not carry over to the next, and that notion was on full display Sunday night.

A year after leading the league with a franchise-record 1.1 interception percentage, Daniel Jones threw two interceptions in the season opener. One was not entirely his fault, as Saquon Barkley was hit hard as he caught the football over the middle, causing it to pop up into the air and into DaRon Bland's arms. Bland returned it 22 yards for a touchdown, extending Dallas' lead to 16-0. However, the same cannot be said about the early second quarter interception by Stephon Gilmore, a play in which the QB scrambled out of the pocket and - at the last second - threw the ball in the direction of Darren Waller. Jones took full responsibility after the game, admitting that the pass was "a poor decision in a situation where I was trying to force something that wasn't there and needed to throw the ball out of bounds and move on to the next play."

In addition to the two interceptions, the Giants also fumbled five times. Only one of the fumbles was lost and, with the consistent rain throughout the game, the conditions on the field were far from ideal. However, it's tough to win a football game when you put the ball on the ground that many times, regardless of the conditions or opponent.

View photos of every move made by the Giants during the 2023 cycle.



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