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Sidelines Notes

Giants vs. Jaguars: Sideline notes and observations

The Giants lost 20-15 to the Jaguars on Sunday afternoon. Here's what I saw after a look at the game film this morning:

• For the offense, this was a game of missed opportunities. Whether it was key drops by receivers, throws that lacked the precision they needed, or pressure that prevented accurate passes to open receivers, the Giants simply didn't make enough of the plays that were presented to them to win the game. A lot of credit should go to the Jacksonville defense, which applied consistent pressure, but the Giants did have some poor execution of their own doing.

• Here's one example of each type of play mentioned above. At the end of the first half, due to great play design, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. had cornerback Jalen Ramsey isolated with an entire half of field to work with in the red zone, but an unblocked rusher made Manning rush and miss the throw that could have been a touchdown. On the Giants first drive of the third quarter, Beckham had separation on a deep post that would have gone for a score, but with a clean pocket, Manning overthrew him. On the team's final drive on a first and 10, wide receiver Sterling Shepard was open over the middle but couldn't catch a Manning pass that was put out in front of him. A clean catch there would have resulted in either a run for a first down or a second and short. The Giants ended up turning the ball over on downs on that series, effectively ending the game. They will try to clean those mistakes up in week number two.

• The Jaguars defense is nicknamed "Sacksonville" for a reason and we saw why on Sunday. Defensive linemen Yannick Ngakoue, Marcell Dareus, Malik Jackson, Calais Campbell and Lerentee McCray all had plays where each disrupted what the Giants were trying to do by getting into the offensive backfield. The issues were not all on one side of the line either. Every Giants offensive lineman had their moments where they struggled to contain the Jaguars defensive front. The Jaguars didn't run many stunts or twists, and a lot of pressure came on pure one-on-one rush moves. It is important to not overreact to a Week One performance, especially against what might be the best defensive front in football.  

• If there were any doubts Odell Beckham Jr. would get all his athleticism back after his ankle injury, those have been dispelled. No one could cover Beckham, and it looked like his speed took the Jaguars defense by surprise a couple of times in the first half, forcing them to commit pass interference penalties to prevent touchdowns. Beckham finished with excellent numbers, 11 caches on 15 targets for 111 yards, but his impact was even greater than that. The way Pat Shurmur and Mike Shula used formations, rub routes, and play design to free him in space or give him true one-on-one opportunities was ingenious.

• No one talks about wide receiver blocking, but Sterling Shepard's block on cornerback A.J. Bouye was a huge reason running back Saquon Barkley was able to run 68 yards for a touchdown. Shep held his block on Bouye long enough to give Barkley the sideline. Barkley broke two tackles on his own (linebacker Myles Jack and safety Ronnie Harrison) before turning on the afterburners and running past safety Tashaun Gipson Sr., who looked like he underestimated Barkley's speed based on the angle he took and the speed he was running as the last line of defense on the play.

• The long run turned the momentum of the game, but I would love to be in the running back room for Monday film review of the two-point conversion rushing attempt on the following play. All the blockers blocked to the right, but Barkley ran it straight behind Evan Engram on the left side of the line, who was trying to block Calais Campbell. He could not power through Campbell for the score. There wasn't a ton of room to the right either, but I wonder where the play was designed to go?

• Both teams were only 4-13 on third down, and the Giants successes' and failures had everything to do with their down and distances. The Giants succeeded on third down conversions of 2, 12, 1 and 5 yards (they also converted a 3rd and 2 due to penalty). They failed on third downs of the following yardages: 23, 8, 16, 16, 16, 7, 10, 20, 5 and 6 yards. The lesson? Your success on third down depends a lot on how you do on first and second down. 

• The Giants' final numbers against the run do not look very good (28 carries, 137 yards, 4.9 avg.) but those totals are skewed by quarterback Blake Bortles' 41-yard naked boot leg in the second half where no one on the Giants defense was aware he had the ball until it was too late. The interior of the defensive line did a good job clogging rushing lanes for much of the game, with the Jaguars doing most of their damage when the Giants failed to set the edge. B.J. Hill had an impressive rookie debut, showing both the strength and athleticism to work down the line to make a couple of plays in the running game. 

• "Cornerbacks have to have short memories" is a cliché for a reason. Janoris Jenkins was beaten deep on the second play from scrimmage by wide receiver Keelan Cole for a 31-yard gain but rebounded on the Jaguars' next possession. Bortles went that way again, trying to hit wide receiver Donte Moncrief on a similar route. Jenkins stuck with him, got his head around and showed good footwork to come down inbounds with the interception. It was a textbook play by Jenkins. On the Jaguars' first drive of the second quarter, Jenkins saved a touchdown, getting his hands on a ball intended for tight end Niles Paul, who bobbled it before the pass fell incomplete. The Jaguars tried to suck everyone in with a play-action fake, with Paul selling his block hard before sprinting down the field. Jenkins was not fooled and nearly had an interception on the play. 

• The Jaguars do not have Blake Bortles do many straight five and seven-step drops, instead using him in play action and putting him on the move. Those schemes limited the Giants' straight pass rush opportunities, but there wasn't nearly enough disruption of Bortles in the pocket. When he was moved off his base in the pocket, he struggled to throw accurately, but that didn't happen nearly enough.

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