Last night, New York’s two NFL franchises met to resume hostilities in their annual preseason battle at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. The New York Giants came away with a 31-22 victory over the Jets in the Snoopy Bowl. But the real star of the night was Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. Jones, the controversial first-round pick, lit up the Jersey sky brighter than the lighting storm that delayed the game for an hour. The Giants’ quarterback finished 5-5 for 67 yards passing and threw his first touchdown in the NFL. It was a perfect debut. But does Jones’ superb play signal the beginning of a Giants quarterback controversy?
Daniel Jones Superb in New York Giants Debut
The first NFL preseason game is typically a mixed bag. Teams run very condensed versions of their playbooks, star players don’t dress, and teams don’t game plan for their opponents. Especially since the Giants and Jets will play each in the regular season.
Giants’ running back Saquon Barkley, tight end Evan Engram, and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (thumb) did not play. For the New York Jets, star free-agent acquisition, running back Le’Veon Bell did not dress for the game. However, Sam Darnold and Eli Manning, the teams’ starting quarterbacks, each got one series apiece.
Questions to answer included could each teams’ revamped offensive lines protect their signal-callers? Which new defense could assert its dominance and lastly, how would Daniel Jones react playing against real competition?
The Jets First Series
The Jets received the ball first and without Bell in the backfield, started former Green Bay Packer running back Ty Montgomery at halfback.
The Giants first-team defense is led by Lorenzo Carter and Kareem Martin at SAM and WILL linebackers. The G-Men are hoping the duo dramatically improves the team’s pass rush. The Giants were second to last in the league in total sacks during 2018. Giants rookie linebacker Oshane Ximines, a pass rusher by reputation, did not play with the ones.
The Giants could have used the X-Man during the Jets first series because they got very little pressure on Darnold and were exposed in pass coverage.
The Giants’ newest safety Jabrill Peppers did not make the best first impression. On a pass intended for Jets’ wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, Peppers let a sure interception slip right through his hands.
Sam Darnold faced a third and long on his first series. He slickly stepped up in the pocket and threw a floater to tight end Chris Herndon for a 33 yard gain. Later in the series, Darnold connected with wide receiver and new Jet Jamison Crowder for a 29 yard gain, putting the Jets in position to get into the end zone.
On a 3rd & 2 from the three-yard line, the Jets ran a pick play and rookie cornerback Julian Love got lost in the wash. Darnold hit Jamison Crowder for his touchdown giving the Jets a 6-0 lead. The Jets were called for a delay of the game penalty during the point after. Kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed the extra point.
Giants Offense Takes The Field
Eli Manning got the start, even though there were rumors on Twitter right before kickoff that he would not play. Oh, those trolls. The Giants were called for a holding penalty and the offense went three and out. This was not a good start. Manning’s final line for the night was 1-1 for three yards.
Jets Second Series
Sam Darnold’s night was complete. Backup quarterback Trevor Siemian entered the game to lead the offense. The Giants defense finally stepped up and made an appearance. Lorenzo Carter and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson stuffed a running play in the backfield for a one-yard loss. The Jets went three and out and punted.
I’m Daniel Jones!
It’s the moment that Giants fans and ownership were waiting for. Jones entered the game, facing a combination of the Jets first and second-team defense. He completed his first pass attempt in the NFL to wide receiver Cody Latimer.
Jones’ second pass was for 11 yards to newly-signed Giants wide receiver Golden Tate. The Giants will most likely be without Tate for the first four games of the regular season. He’s appealing his suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drugs policy. It will be heard on Tuesday, August 13 in New York City, according to Giants coach Pat Shurmur.
Jones’ third completion came off play-action. He found Latimer on the left sideline, who gained some impressive yards after the catch (YAC). Jones then followed up his third completion on a precise out route to wide receiver Bennie Fowler for a first down. The rookie was 4-4 and looking sharp.
The Giants were on the doorstep of the end zone and Jones ended his series with a touch pass to Fowler for a touchdown. Jones completed a 79-yard drive with his first NFL TD to tie the game. The Giants kicked the point after to take the lead 7-6. The sixth pick in the NFL draft’s final line was 5-5 for 67 yards and a touchdown. Daniel Jones’ Giants debut was perfect.
Then Came the Rain
A lightning storm delayed the game for 59 minutes. Props to the fans that stayed through the rain.
News, Notes & Observations
The Giants third-string quarterback Alex Tanney entered the game before the last possession of the first quarter. Tanney threw a perfect slant to wide receiver Russell Shepard for a 51-yard touchdown. With the point after, the Giants took a 14-6 lead. Tanney had a solid night, finishing 14-19 for 190 yards and a touchdown.
The Giants secondary had a busy night. Rookie cornerbacks Julian Love and Corey Ballantine showed some flashes of brilliance. Love broke up a deep pass right before the half but was beaten on the Jets first TD.
Ballantine had an interception in the third quarter against former Giants backup quarterback Davis Webb. But, Ballantine was also called for pass interference after Jets head coach Adam Gase challenged the no-call. It was the debut of the amended replay rule in the off-season. Coaches can now use one of their challenges on pass interference calls.
Webb threw two interceptions during the game, including a pick-six. Giants defensive lineman/linebacker Jake Carlock did the double. He batted a pass intended for running back Elijah McGuire, caught it, and ran it in for a 59-yard touchdown. Carlock also combined for a sack in the fourth quarter.
The Giants final touchdown came on a back-shoulder throw from quarterback Kyle Lauletta to wide receiver T.J Jones.
Shurmur is anticipating fans overreactions to Jones’ perfect debut. He was asked what he thinks about the prospect of a quarterback controversy brewing between Manning and Jones.
“I think, ‘Slow your roll,'” Shurmur said. “This is just his first go around. I think he did a good job. As I mentioned, all along he has done nothing to disappoint us, and certainly when you take the team down the field and score a touchdown, that’s a good start. It’s something good to build on. We have a lot of time left before we start playing games. Nothing at this point has changed.”