After a great start to the game, the New York Giants quickly fizzled, struggling to produce on either side of the ball against the division rival Dallas Cowboys. The Giants initially started out strong forcing the Cowboys to punt and then producing a long drive that ended in a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Let’s take a look at what we learned about the Giants.
1) Saquon Barkley is the best running back in the league
Barkley only received 11 carries in the game, yet he still totaled 120 rushing yards, averaging 10.9 yards-per-carry. Barkley started the game with a fumble which the Giants managed to recover, then immediately proceeded to answer with a 59-yard rush that nearly went to the house. Barkley chipped in another four receptions for 19 receiving yards, generally receiving all checkdowns. The Giants immediately put Barkley on the back-burner after the first drive, which is why his statistics weren’t more impressive. Moving forward, the Giants need to do a better job staying ahead of the chains, converting third downs, and keeping Barkley as involved as possible. #26 gives the Giants their best chance to win and that’s quite evident.
2) The Giants need to feature tight end Evan Engram
Evan Engram has always teased a ton of talent and potential in the league, never truly being able to string together a healthy season, though 2019 could be different. Engram looked unstoppable on Sunday registering 11 receptions for 116 yards receiving and one touchdown, all on 14 targets. Engram is a slot receiver masquerading around as a tight end and it shows in his receiving ability. The four-game suspension of receiver Golden Tate and the lack of genuine weapons within the offense should lead to Engram being featured and used as much as possible.
3) The defense needs to improve on all three levels, quickly
The Cowboys are one of the more talented teams in the entire league, and the Giants couldn’t stop them past the first drive. The Cowboys totaled 494 yards (405 passing, 151 rushing), averaged 8 yards-per-play, scored 35 points, allowed no takeaways, and didn’t allow quarterback Dak Prescott to get sacked. The Giants need improvements on all three levels of the defense, most particularly in the secondary and the pass rushing units. Prescott was unbothered in the pocket on Sunday, which was probably expected with the lack of talent on the Giants’ defensive line. The secondary on the other hand was rewarded with a first-round draft pick in cornerback Deandre Baker, as well as a trade for safety Jabrill Peppers, making their performance unacceptable.
4) The offensive line was improved
The Giants added right guard Kevin Zeitler (by way of trade) and right tackle Mike Remmers to an offensive line which was among the worst in 2018, and it seems to have paid dividends immediately. The return of a healthy center in Jon Halapio (two games played in 2018) has also helped tremendously. The expectation was for one of the highest paid left tackles in football in Nate Solder to improve his play as well, and on the surface, the unit had a solid performance. Immobile statue quarterback Eli Manning was sacked only once and the rushing attack averaged 8.9 yards-per-carry, totaling 151 rushing yards. The lack of mobility at the quarterback spot is going to make the performance of the offensive line vital, and they started the season off with a strong performance.
The New York Giants will face the Buffalo Bills in their home opener in week two, looking to rebound with a win after a tough week one. The Bills are a more suitable matchup as they struggle offensively, though the defense could give the Giants some trouble.