In the first true iteration of Sunday Night Football, the New York Giants lost to the Dallas Cowboys 19-3. They were outplayed in almost all aspects of the game. Between time of possession and the defense picking up where they left off, here are three Giants takeaways from their opening night.
Week One New York Giants Takeaways
1) The Offensive Line is not good
The offensive line played worse than usual. John Jerry and Bobby Hart were bullied all game long by a mediocre Cowboys defensive line. Time after time, Eli Manning was given very minimal time to throw downfield. The run game was also non-existent due to the fact that there were no running lanes. Paul Perkins was hit behind the line multiple times because the offensive line could not stop any defensive player.
There was one play where a hole opened up in which Orleans Darkwa ran for 12 yards. Besides that one specific play, the offensive line generated no push nor did it create any running room for the backs. Manning looked extremely uncomfortable due to a lack of time, which only made this a very bad night for the Giants. If the offensive line does not improve, this will be an extremely long year for the Giants.
2) Ereck Flowers was the only bright spot
This is one of those positives when there are no true positives. Offensive tackle Ereck Flowers was not necessarily good tonight, but he minimized his mistakes. Last year, Flowers was a holding machine, and seemed to be penalized all the time. Tonight he seemed to stay out of the spotlight. This is a positive for a player who has never seen positive spotlight in his entire career. Flowers spent the entire off-season working extremely hard to become a relevant player in the NFL. This is one game so it does not mean anything at all, but it looks like Flowers could be relied on to be an average left tackle in this league.
3) Defense is starting off where it left off
Yes, the defense did give up 19 points. Yes, they also gave up 392 total yards. However, the defense was on the field for 34 minutes. The defense seemed to never even leave the field. Considering that the Cowboys seemed to always start close the Giants territory as well as the fact that the Giants defense rarely left the field, the defense played well.
They became noticeably weakened as the game went on due to fatigue. It is unreasonable to expect the unit to be able to play at a high level for the duration of the game that they played. This is shown through the first and second half splits. The Giants defense was on the field for close to 20 minutes. They were clearly affected and drained. This led to 16 points, but the second half was different. The offense started running the clock down and the defense only gave up three points. If the Giants want to have any chance of a post season run, they need to get the defense off the field. They did not play at their peak, but they played very well for the situation presented to them. It would be surprising to observe regression at any point during the year.
The Giants have a lot to work on for next week. In his absence, it became overtly clear that wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is the key to the Giants success. If Beckham is healthy next week, the Giants offense will look different.