Week 1 of the New York Giants season is officially in the books, and that book closed with an opening day win that hasn't happened in six years. An opening-day win has been a long time coming for the Giants and the fan base; however, that almost didn't happen due to a shaky start. But thanks to a phenomenal performance by Saquon Barkley and some second-half adjustments, the Giants were well on their way to a much-needed win.
The Comeback Kid
All summer, I shouted from the rooftops that Saquon Barkley was back to being the player we all know and love, and I was met with great skepticism for my proclamation. I never wavered in my assessment of Barkley. Barkley's explosiveness, quickness and power running are back. That was evident when I saw him take the field this summer at the Giants training camp. Barkley told us that he was frustrated but not by any outside noise; he was more frustrated with himself and the grueling process of rehabbing. A few weeks ago, when Barkley was at the podium after practice, he let members of the media know that he was in a much happier place, feeling great and was ready for the season to start. Those thoughts should have been quelled on Sunday if you had doubts about Barkley's ability to produce this season.
Barkley carried the Giants on his back and led the team back from a 13-0 halftime deficit by sparking the team with a 68-yard run. Barkley finished the day with 18 carries for 164 yards, one touchdown, and six catches for 30 yards. I know many Barkley fantasy owners were pleased (including myself), and there is much more where that came from.
The Good, The Bad and The Downright Ugly
- Brian Daboll's commitment to trusting in his players and their ability to execute. Daboll's aggressive style is precisely the fresh burst of energy this team needed to feel confident moving forward. Daboll said on his decision to go for two and the win, "Go for the win. We're going to be aggressive."
- The Giants' secondary has been an area of concern all summer and Sunday's game against the Titans highlighted just how much of a problem it is. The unit is very young, and my concern all summer was that they might be in over their heads in a Wink Martindale defensive scheme. Unfortunately, much of that concern appeared accurate as the secondary looked lost and confused for much of the game.
- Why do I have a feeling that the Giants' special teams will be my "ugly" for many weeks to come? It could be due to the fact that special teams have been quite a mess for several years with not much improvement in sight and Sunday was no exception. Giving up a 46-yard punt return, botching a snap that cost them a PAT, missing tackles, a kick return for just 17 yards, and closing the game with an illegal formation penalty were all less than ideal. This unit has a lot of work to do!
Shining Stars of the Game
- Brian Daboll for having the guts to go for the win and go for two. We haven't seen this kind of aggressiveness in a head coach in New York for a long time. It was the right call and was executed perfectly.
- Saquon Barkley for having a monster game, proving his doubters wrong but mostly proving to himself that he is back to being the player he knew he always was
- Sterling Shepard for coming up big when the team needed him. There is a reason why this team praises Shepard's leadership and experience. That's because he makes the team better when he's on the field, an echoed sentiment throughout the entire team.
The Giants proved on Sunday that Brian Daboll's culture is one of respect and trust, which is something Brian Daboll has preached all summer. Seeing it in action helped lead the Giants to their first opening day victory in 6 years. While there are always aspects of the game to improve upon, I think the Giants fan base should savor this win and feel pretty good about what this team can do moving forward.