Our first game against the New England Patriots has now been and gone. It wasn’t a convincing performance by any means, but there were plenty of talking points. Here are five things that stood out:
Jones vs. Tyrod
Whilst it is unlikely that this will turn into a starting job competition, there is already some intrigue regarding how bad the Giants’ record would have to be before the coaching staff pull Daniel Jones and move forward with Tyrod Taylor. Thursday’s preseason game was a good opportunity for them both to show what they can achieve this season if needed.
Jones took the first two series and had a good but not brilliant showing, completing 6 of 10 passes for 69 yards as well as a 7-yard scramble. He would have likely had a much-needed touchdown too if Kenny Golladay hadn’t dropped a pass that hit him right between the numbers.
On the other hand, Taylor showed exactly what the Giants had been missing the last few years from a backup, which is competency. He completed 13 of 29 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown. Again, like Jones, there were good moments, but against a stronger calibre of player, a few overthrows may have ended up being interceptions.
There was a noticeable buzz from the Giants fanbase before the game, and the majority of that was aimed at the chance to see both Evan Neal and Kayvon Thibodeaux in their first semi-competitive game.
Neal was in from the start and ended up playing 19 offensive snaps and it was an up and down showing from the rookie. In the passing game, he looked unsure but showed much more promise in the running game. It’s no secret that his offensive line teammate Andrew Thomas struggled in his first season but has blossomed into a key piece, so I think we can allow Neal some time to learn.
Thibodeaux also started on the defensive side and played 14 snaps before being removed. Although he wasn’t on the field for long and the stat line doesn’t show much, he had a dominant showing. Kayvon finished the game with an assisted tackle and was responsible for a Patriots offensive false start but is raring to go for the next game. “I thought I was gonna be a little more nervous or a little more uptight,” Thibodeaux said, “but it was really natural, and it was good … this was definitely just a warm-up.”
The Thin Offensive Line
With an offensive line group that is mostly made up of new additions from either the draft or free agency, the Giants needed the line to stay healthy and gel. Unfortunately, on the injury front, that hasn’t been the case. Center Nick Gates and Tackle Matt Peart both remain on the PUP list after starting the preseason there. Matt Gono’s reoccurrence of a career-threatening neck injury has led to his contract being terminated and rookie Marcus McKethan saw his season finish before it started due to an ACL injury.
This trend continued during the game as Guard Shane Lemieux began limping during the opening moments of the first offensive series and, after the drive finished, he headed to the locker room. He was later ruled out with a toe injury and was seen on the sidelines in a walking boot. Backup Jamil Douglas then deepened the crisis as he suffered an ankle injury and didn’t return.
Fighting like Beavers
In a game where most fans will have been keeping a close eye on how the rookies took to NFL action, there was a surprising name that stood out. Enter sixth-round pick from the Cincinnati Bearcats Darrian Beavers.
The Linebacker started in place of Blake Martinez, whose game time is being managed as he returns from his torn ACL and was seen all over the field finishing with three tackles and one tackle for a loss. He was even communicating the plays from Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale as he was given the headset for the second-team defense. High praise indeed from Wink, who coached the position for the Baltimore Ravens from 2012 to 2017.
The Third Running Back
Barring any issues, come game week 1, Saquon Barkley will be the Giants’ starting Running Back and will be backed up by Matt Breida. This means there is likely one more spot behind these two, and by the end of the Patriots game, four of the five Running Backs below them on the depth chart had a chance to show what they could do.
Antonio Williams led the way with nine carries for 61 yards (more than the entire Patriots team), one reception that lost a yard, and a touchdown. Gary Brightwell had seven carries for 40 yards as well as two receptions for 19 yards. Undrafted rookie free agent Jashaun Corbin showed a good burst with six carries for 23 yards as well as five receptions for 28 yards. Finally, the Giants’ international pathway player Sandro Platzgummer, who has been with the team since 2020, had three carries for 21 yards at the end of the game, which contributed to the game-winning field goal.
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