In this week's edition of "Cover 3" on Giants.com, we discuss what we learned from the intrasquad scrimmage as the regular season opens in just two weeks.
Lance Medow: If there's been one major question heading into this season, it's been who will emerge for the Giants in the pass rushing department? Based on the scrimmage, it appears Lorenzo Carter is motivated to be that answer. He was extremely active throughout the game and made his presence felt in the backfield by recording several sacks. The former third-round pick is entering his third season in the NFL and he may have provided the team with a glimpse of who could complement Markus Golden in 2020. The same can be said for free-agent addition Kyler Fackrell, who has shown a knack for pressuring the quarterback, especially in 2018 with Green Bay when he posted career-highs in sacks (10.5) and quarterback hits (12). He made a handful of disruptive plays in Friday's scrimmage.
On the offensive side of the ball, the depth at running back was on full display. While Saquon Barkley is a dynamic player, who will get the bulk of the work on the ground this season, the options behind him are just as critical. Wayne Gallman and free-agent addition Dion Lewis both took full advantage of their touches as Gallman found the end zone twice highlighted by a 40-yard rushing score and Lewis demonstrated his ability to make people miss and do damage in open space as a shifty back. Speaking of depth, Corey Coleman's quest to solidify the fourth receiver spot continued with a pair of 20-yard catches. The former first-round pick showed some flashes in the second half of the 2018 season when he joined the team in mid-October and proved to be a vertical threat. After tearing his ACL in the very first training camp practice last year, Coleman seems to be returning to his 2018 form.
Aside from the players that jumped out throughout the scrimmage, it can't be overlooked that the structure of the game provided the coaching staff with a valuable simulation of a gameday experience. Normally, during preseason games, new coaching staffs have opportunities to work out the communication process so that they can make tweaks come the start of the regular season. Unfortunately, without a preseason, that's not an option this year so scrimmages are the next best thing. The coaching staff seemed to take advantage of the setup, even going through the process of challenging a play following a Saquon Barkley run up the sideline. Those small details may seem minor now but will be key once the games count for real.
Dan Salomone: To dovetail what Lance said, the scrimmage was as much for the staff as it was for players. Joe Judge set this thing up to mimic a real game, down to staging his halftime interview. You can't overestimate all things a head coach has on his mind on game day, and this is his first time through it. While preseason games would have been ideal in that regard, Judge has to play the cards he was dealt.
"Everything we did [Friday night] was very intentional in making sure we checked every box for what myself, every other coach and every player would experience as close as we can to when we play our opening night game," Judge said. "Everything from the interviews coming off at halftime, everything to the setup of this press conference right here with how we're doing it … the way we conducted our pregame and halftime adjustments, the challenge which obviously wasn't a critical play. I wanted to make sure we took an opportunity to get used to the challenge operation to the entire team. Then we made sure that we gave the opportunity to manufacture some two-minute drives at the end of the half and the end of the game. These are things we wanted to make sure that we experienced as much as players, as coaches for the communication aspect."
That approach carried over to Monday. Judge shifted the team to a regular season schedule to flow into the Monday night opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which is just two weeks away.
View the best photos from Friday night's Blue-White Scrimmage
John Schmeelk: Below are my notes and observations from the scrimmage.
* Sixth-round draft pick Cameron Brown was excellent on special teams throughout the scrimmage and started with a solo tackle on Corey Coleman near the sideline on the opening kickoff.
* Lorenzo Carter lived in the offense's backfield. On the first play from scrimmage, Carter tried a speed rush outside and was pushed around the quarterback by rookie Andrew Thomas. Carter was not credited for a sack, though Dexter Lawrence knocked down Daniel Jones' pass at the line of scrimmage.
* Veteran Dion Lewis showed the versatility and burst to be an offensive weapon. He created separation against a linebacker and found space on running plays early in the game. He also made a defender miss in space on a short catch and ran for a first down. Lewis could be a big weapon in the passing game on third downs.
* After Lewis helped the Colt McCoy-led second team offense get downfield, Wayne Gallman finished a drive with a 42-yard touchdown. On 3rd-and-1, Gallman ran untouched behind rookies Matt Peart and Shane Lemieux for the score.
* On the next drive, Carter used his length to push the offensive tackle into the quarterback and get credit for the sack. On the very next play, Jones hit Darius Slayton for a 41-yard gain. It was probably Jones' best throw of the game, hitting Slayton in stride and allowing him to run after the catch.
* On the next play, Leonard Williams got into the backfield to force a 1-yard loss. Jones converted a 2nd-and-11 with an accurate pass to C.J. Board. Then, Carter beat the tight end around the edge to sack Jones. After two more snaps, Graham Gano finished the drive with a 47-yard field goal shortly after it began raining.
* Colt McCoy completed two passes to Alex Bachman and David Sills for a first down on the next drive, but Kyler Fackrell stopped a pass play for a loss of six yards. Tae Crowder broke up a short pass over the middle to Lewis to force a third-and-long and an eventual punt.
* On the next drive, Gallman ran for a first down. On 3rd-and-3, Jabrill Peppers forced an incompletion with close coverage on the tight end.
* Saquon Barkley had his biggest play of the night on the next drive, catching a pass and using his quickness to get past the first-down marker. Joe Judge initiated a challenge, contending Barkley stepped out of bounds, but the ruling on the field remained. Judge said he wanted to work on all the mechanics of every situation in the game, including a coach's challenge.
* Jones tried a throw downfield to start the next drive, but James Bradberry was step for step in perfect coverage. On third-and-3, Darnay Holmes got his hand on a pass to force a punt.
* A Markus Golden sack and Grant Haley pass break-up foiled the next drive and forced a three-and-out to give the defense three points. The subsequent punt was muffed, but the receiving team maintained possession when it was recovered by Austin Mack.
* A completion to Sterling Shepard gave the offense a 2nd-and-5 at the 2-minute warning. On the next play, however, Carter won outside and knocked the ball out of the quarterback's hand. On 3rd-and-14, the pass rush collapsed the pocket and Leonard Williams was credited with the sack.
* McCoy drove the offense down on their final drive of the half. The biggest play of the drive was a back-shoulder throw to Corey Coleman for 23 yards. Gano capped the possession with a 40-yard field goal to pull the offense closer at 15-13.
* Linebacker Kyler Fackrell got penetration on a running play and registered a second-down pressure to create a 3rd-and-12. Cooper Rush made his best throw of the game, completing a perfectly thrown deep ball to Board. A Grant Haley pass break-up appeared to end the drive, but a defensive holding penalty kept the offense on the field.
* Gallman earned a first down, catching a short pass that he turned upfield. Board earned another first down on the drive by dropping his shoulder into the defender to power just past the marker. Gallman finished the drive with his second touchdown on a short pass from Rush after he beat the defending safety to the sideline.
* The offense did not score again until their final drive, receiving the ball at their own 8, trailing by two with 3:10 left. The defense forced the offense into a 4th-and-10 after Christian Angulo knocked away a deep pass. Carter Coughlin sacked Alex Tanney on an inside rush that could have ended the game, but a defensive holding penalty extended the drive, which gave Joe Judge's offense another chance to execute a 2-minute drill.
* Tanney took advantage of the second life with consecutive first-down passes to Bachman. The offense used their last timeout with the ball on the defense's 46 with 45 seconds to play. Tanney hit Coleman with a perfect strike for 23 yards to put Gano in field goal range. After an incompletion, Gano connected on his third field goal of the night -- a 41-yard kick to seal a 23-22 win for the offense.