The New York Giants defeated the Chicago Bears, 32-13, on Friday night at MetLife Stadium. They improved to 2-0 in the preseason with a road trip to Cincinnati next on the schedule.
Here are five things we learned from the victory:
1. Eli was perfect. Eli Manning’s first drive of the 2019 preseason lasted less than two minutes and consisted of one pass, two runs, including a penalty, and then a punt. His second, which came Friday against Chicago, began with a 20-yard strike and ended on a touchdown with no incompletions in between.
“It was efficient,” Manning said. “We mixed it up. We had some play action, we had some drop back, we had some bootlegs. A lot of guys were getting catches and running the football well.”
It’s only the preseason, but getting a W is never a bad thing.
“It helps to win, but it helps just to play well, to move the ball,” Manning said. “A lot of receivers are making plays down the field on go-routes and getting open. It makes the competition good in practice. It makes guys hungry to want to get in and make plays. You see the competitiveness. I think that’s good for the team.”
“The joy of winning a game is what you fight for, so they get to experience that,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “It’s easier to build on wins than losses, and I feel like this is step two in this preseason process. I thought our guys handled that pretty well.”
2. Daniel Jones didn’t call his parents in a panic. The rookie quarterback’s first NFL drive last week yielded a touchdown pass and no incompletions. His next three series? Fumble, punt, fumble. That’s how Friday night began for Jones, who was ultimately responsible for both turnovers. He’s didn’t panic, though, and rebounded with two scoring drives – a field goal and a touchdown – before halftime.
“A guy got beat, and it was swatted out of his hands,” Shurmur said. “That’s it. You have to secure it. I don’t think he ever took a snap under center in college. That’s just part of the growing, but he didn’t panic. He dropped the ball a couple times, but he didn’t call his parents. He just went back to work and did a good job at getting us in the end zone.”
What did Shurmur say to him after the turnovers?
“Don’t do that,” he said. “It’s very simple—don’t drop the snap and two hands on the ball in the pocket. It’s never acceptable to drop the ball. He’s smart enough to know that immediately and make corrections. It’s that simple, I don’t have to write him a note—I just tell him.”
3. Shurmur thinks his wide receivers are a bunch of tough guys. The Giants have not been playing household names at the glamor position of wide receiver in the preseason, but there have been four different players with receptions of 25 yards or longer in each of the first two games. TJ Jones, Russell Shepard, Bennie Fowler and Cody Latimer have stepped up at a position that was hit by injuries at the start of training camp. On top of that, Golden Tate will be suspended for the first four games of the season. Nevertheless, everyone in the receiver room has embraced the opportunities, and the results have been positive. All four of the quarterbacks have thrown touchdowns and the offense has scored at least 24 points in each game.
“I have said it all along that it’s going to take a village,” Shurmur said. “To their credit, the veterans may win the day here, these guys who know how to play. They know how to practice, and they know how to play. They are smart. I am fine with drawing them up in the dirt when we see something, and they are smart enough where they can adjust, and some of those things are adjustments. That crew of receivers are all very smart, they are very veteran in a lot of ways and I like them and trust them. Really, the crux of it all, I think they are a bunch of tough guys. They play a fancy position, but I think they are a bunch of tough guys. I think that wins the day, too.”
4. Saquon-less Giants ran the ball better. The Giants managed only 40 yards on 18 carries in the preseason opener while passing 37 times for 374 yards and three touchdowns. It wasn’t the run-pass ratio Shurmur wanted to see. Friday was more like it. Rod Smith, who started as Saquon Barkley sat for the second week in a row, got things going on the first touchdown drive with five carries for 27 yards. The former Cowboy ended with 10 carries for 42 yards, but it was undrafted rookie Jonathan Hilliman who led all rushers with 56 yards and a touchdown on 16 attempts. As a team, the Giants ran the ball 35 times for 161 yards, an average of 4.6 yards per carry.
“I think we had some more favorable box counts, and we had some more fair fight runs that we took advantage of,” Shurmur said. “I thought for the most part it was better and we leaned on the run. The one area where we had an eight-yard run and then it was second-and-two. There was one series there that kind of frosted me. I wanted to run it again to get the first, then there’s a hold, now we’re set back. Those are the areas that we can improve on. Second-and-two, that’s the O-line down. We have to punch it in there and get a first down. Anything fancy that I want to do on a second down, I’ll do on a first down.”
5. The defense was more disruptive. Finding playmakers on defense was near the top of the to-do list this offseason, and all three of the team’s sacks on Friday came from newcomers. Markus Golden and Olsen Pierre, two veterans with prior experience playing for defensive coordinator James Bettcher in Arizona, both got to the quarterback. So did rookie Oshane Ximines, an intriguing third-round draft pick out of Old Dominion.
“We got a little pressure, which was good,” Shurmur said. “I thought it was better. I want to go back and watch it. We were a little more disruptive today, which was good. I’ll have a better assessment tomorrow at 12 p.m. (on the conference call). Save that for tomorrow and I’ll give you a better answer. I felt like we were more disruptive this week than we were last.”