The New York Giants preseason victory over the Detroit Lions on Friday was the spectacle that fans needed to see that the second team is good enough to keep up with the troops that they’ll be supplementing once regular season hits. Eli Manning didn’t play. Odell Beckham Jr. didn’t play. Saquon Barkley didn’t play. And none of that proved to be a problem as Big Blue found victory at Ford Field. The game was “bad Lions.” But it was also very much “good Giants.”
Preseason Week 2 Review: New York Giants at Detroit Lions
Productive Pass Prevention
After practicing with the Lions all week, Kerry Wynn pulled a fast one on the Lions offense. Having worked his speed rushes in the days leading up to the game, the defensive lineman swapped for power on Friday, pleasing coach Pat Shurmur enough to declare the player a front liner, as he contributed to the Giants smothering defensive play, in addition to special teams. Olivier Vernon had a highly productive night as well and earned the highest grade of the team on Pro Football Focus at 89.7, one of the best in the league from Week 2 of the preseason. Recording three quarterback pressures, one sack, and two hurries, the defensive end turned outside tackle is clearly adapting well to the Giants new 3-4 base defensive scheme, as coached by James Bettcher.
Solid Run Game
Since rookie running back Saquon Barkley tweaked his left hamstring last week, there was fear that the team is at a shortage of talent at the position. Wayne Gallman, however, had a great game on Friday, proving his value at the position amongst a corps of veteran Jonathan Stewart, rookie Rob Martin (who also recorded his first career touchdown), concussed Jalen Simmons, and the preserved Barkley. Shurmur and offensive coordinator Mike Shula may still consider signing an additional halfback to supplement their healthy players.
Webb Woke Up
Quarterback play on Friday was the most noteworthy asset to the Giants game at Detroit. In his first NFL start, Davis Webb did not disappoint after exhibiting some difficulty in the pre-season opener against the Cleveland Browns. Webb completed 14 of 20 passes for 140 yards, passing for one touchdown with no interceptions. He put up a passer rating of 106.2—the highest of his career thus far. Webb shared a ball primarily with Gallman. He considers this particularly meaningful due to their rookie bond from the 2017 draft class. There are also one another’s first roommates. Webb’s game was as strong, if not stronger than a decent backup quarterback should be.
A Double-Duty Rookie
The most exciting performance of the night, however, was that of rookie Kyle Lauletta, who used to his advantage the skills for which he was praised in his draft profile—his speed and agility. The former fifth-year senior from Richmond came onto the field at the half. He proved ready to play football fearlessly with the big boys. In the first five minutes of the third quarter, Lauletta pioneered a drive almost single-handedly. He finished the set with fancy footwork as he manipulated a run into the end zone. It was his first ever NFL career touchdown.
Going into training camp, experts criticized Lauletta’s arm strength, suggesting that be his focus for improvement in his rookie year. There was some improvement in that area against the Browns last week. However, this week was all about quick thought and physical adaptability. He had some accuracy this week, completing two of his five passes. But his most impressive play of the night (his rushing touchdown included) came in the fourth quarter. The athletic quarterback handed off the ball to Gallman and then became his guard as #22 cut the ball into the end zone for a touchdown, Lauletta pushing off the Lions defense in assistance.
Week 3 Preview
With rookie Sam Darnold on track to start for the New York Jets in their home game against the G-Men on Friday, it’s anyone’s game to take. Coach Todd Bowles is still evaluating Darnold, Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater for the role of starter in the regular season. Bridgewater once played on a Shurmur-coached Minnesota Vikings team, and the Giants head coach is convinced that despite his injury-ridden previous two years of his four-season NFL career, Bridgewater is still a force, and has “got it in him” to be a successful quarterback.
Barkley is not expected to play on Friday, as he continues to recover his hamstring injury. As we approach the 11-month mark since Beckham’s presence in an NFL game, it is unclear whether or not he will take the field. We can hope to see more from cornerbacks Curtis Riley and B.W. Webb, and wide receiver Cody Latimer—preferably with Manning, to test the chemistry for the regular season.
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