The New York Jets’ depth chart is still very much in flux, and New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning was set up to be compared to the three potential Jets starters for the regular season in Friday night’s game on the field that the teams share. Still, Manning did not let those pressures affect his performance as the two-time champion we remember him to be from years past. In a game that still held out Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley, and lost to injury Evan Engram (concussion) and Rhett Ellison (eye), the Giants showed that they are capable of solid play with their second- and third-stringers, as they captured their first home field win since last December in the MetLife Bowl.
The New York Giants Started Shifting into Regular Season Mode at the MetLife Bowl
Eli Manning Shines
Manning’s night consisted of a completed 17 of 23 attempted passes for 188 yards, a quarterback rating of 97.7, and no turnovers during his time under center. He outplayed both Teddy Bridgewater, who had a similar percentage of completions but not nearly as many yards; and rookie Sam Darnold, who had a solid outing but will hopefully be kept on the bench until later in the season if the Jets are smart. Manning was more aggressive than we’ve seen in a long time, as he stayed sharp in seeking out open receivers and attacking downfield. Save for a couple underthrown balls, Manning showed little of the hesitation we saw in 2017 in Friday night’s presentation, and we got a good taste of what to expect from the veteran starter as the regular season is visible.
With Beckham and Barkley still on the bench post-injuries, there was another opportunity to witness the action of the B-team receivers and rushers. Sterling Shepard returned to the form of his 2016 season, recording the most receptions of the group (seven) for a combined 78 yards. Evan Engram was targeted several times early in the game and had the ball three times before he was ruled out for the evening with a concussion. We’ve seen little from Cody Latimer in the last several weeks, and the status quo didn’t do much shifting. That said, Latimer is consistently good when he sees action, and had one big beautiful play for 54 yards as he weaseled his way behind the secondary.
The biggest question mark of tonight’s receiving corps was Hunter Sharp, who has played poorly for most of the preseason, and continued that streak versus the Jets, dropping two passes in the game that both killed drives. Sharp did find the ball early on in the evening, returning a punt in an impressive 55-yard run that resulted in the only Giants touchdown of the game—the only allowed by the Jets this preseason thus far. Will that play be enough to earn Sharp a spot on the roster? We’ll certainly find out in the coming weeks.
Wynning, As Usual
Continuing a productive preseason, Kerry Wynn added even more work to his already impressive tape. Playing both defense and special teams, Wynn is competing for a highly coveted defensive role in the starting lineup. His presence is fearsome and felt by both sides of the ball, and on Friday night, he recorded three tackles, one sack, and a quarterback hit. He nearly pulled an interception out of a Darnold pass as well, which might have made for a clean, uninterrupted touchdown run. In a defense that struggled early on against the green guys, Wynn held his own and subsidized the likelihood of a starting job in the regular season opener two weeks away. Other standouts on defense included Olivier Vernon, who definitely provided some pressure on the Jets quarterbacks, and Landon Collins, who did not surprise.
Rosas with the Mostest
Talk about an upgrade from last year’s boots (*cough* Brad Wing, who remains an unsigned free agent after being cut from the Big Blue this past spring *cough*). Aldrick Rosas scored on all four of his field goal assignments at MetLife on Friday, in addition to the extra point following the sole Giants touchdown of the game. After an excellent game in Detroit last week, where Rosas recorded a career-long 55-yard field goal, his performance this week has pretty safely guaranteed him the full-time job, for which he is competing with general manager Dave Gettleman-hired Marshall Koehn.
The Last Word
Despite lacking several key players from the projected starting lineup against the Jets, this week, we started to see the Giants in the form that we can expect come September 9. With Eli under center for most of the game, surrounded by a well-prepared offensive line, we can start to have a clearer idea of the kind of pass protection that will be occurring, even if many of the preseason receivers are essentially body doubles at the moment. While the defense is still taking shape, it is easy to imagine a well-rounded lineup in Pat Shurmur and James Bettcher’s 3-4 scheme. Special teams are looking good (particularly in comparison to those of the teams that we’ve encountered thus far). Overall, what we’re seeing from the Giants is a wild card contender, if not a sensible option to take the NFC East from the Philadelphia Eagles.