The final week of preseason is officially in the books. The New York Giants fell to the New England Patriots on Sunday with a final score of 22-20.
I have to say that I was relatively pleased with the team throughout this game. Overall, the starting offense looked improved, and the starting defense played very strongly.
Let's start with the pros of this game:
Daniel Jones' Maturity
Throughout his time playing in the first half, Jones showed much improvement in terms of his decision-making. Yes, I am aware that he threw a fatal interception to Evan Engram. The pass was slightly behind Engram, and he did not have enough time to rotate his body to the right, in order to make the catch. That pick was on Jones.
However, despite that one play, Daniel Jones showed some serious chemistry with his receivers. He went 17/22, 135 yds, 1 INT, and 1 TD.
Jones led the team down the field at the end of the half to score in the final 8 seconds. During this drive, Jones went 7/8 and averaged (not including the 23-yard TD pass to TE, Kaden Smith), 5.1 yards per throw. While that number may not be flashy or appealing to any Giants fan, it actually is a good sign.
The NFL community knows Daniel Jones to be a bundle of potential who has had a terrible habit of finding a way to turn the ball over. What his average yardage-per-throw on that scoring drive shows, is his ability to take advantage of the checkdown. Jones sees no man open downfield, so he throws it off to his running back. The Daniel Jones from last year would have most likely made a senseless error by forcing the ball downfield because for some reason he believes the extra yardage would be worth giving the ball to the opposing team.
This newfound consistency for Jones fits very well into offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett's offense. With the presumed return of Saquon for the beginning of the season, Jones and Garrett will be able to take advantage of his pass-catching ability using the checkdown. If Saquon doesn't return in time for week 1, it looks like Devontae Booker will take the role of his immediate backup. The value of the running back position cannot be understated in this offense. Head coach, Joe Judge, who spent time in the running-back centric offense up in New England, will be the first person to tell you that.
As many Giants fans remember from last season, the team did not excel at the receiver position. The chemistry with Jones was on-and-off, and the injuries to Slayton and Shepard, which took each man out for a few weeks, proved detrimental to the receiving core's production. However, this final preseason game showed a team that's heads and shoulders above last year.
The team had a total of 282 yards receiving during their match vs. New England. Sterling Shepard and Daniel Jones showed off their easy chemistry with Shepard completing five out of his six targets for 42 yards. Shepard was showing signs of becoming a security blanket for Jones.
Another man who once again impressed was David Sills V. Despite his numbers being down this game, one catch for 14 yards, his tape will reflect much better play on his part. Mike Glennon was his quarterback most of the time, and it's fair to say Glennon missed a few key shots downfield to Sills. The coaches may review that tape and find the missed completions to be Sills' doing, but the immediate play-back tells a different story.
The first missed connection between these two that comes to mind happened in the middle of the third quarter. Sills ran what seemed to be a simple go-route down the middle of the field, and he successfully created space between two Patriot DB's. Mike Glennon then throws the ball about five yards too deep, and if he would have hit Sills, it would have at the very least, put the Giants in the red zone. I fully expect David Sills to make this team considering his consistency throughout all of training camp.
One of the Giants' brightest spots, and most wonderful surprises this training camp has been the blossoming of CB Rodarius Williams. There are not enough words to describe just how much Williams improves every snap. He is like a sponge when it comes to new information. Today was no different as he showed great promise throughout the game.
Williams had four total tackles and one pass deflection. He played 32 snaps, the most out of any Giants' DB, and he forced two incompletions out of the three targets that came into his coverage.
An added stat that proves just how well Williams has played this preseason is his total number of tackles. He ended this preseason with 19 total tackles, the most of any player on the team! It's safe to say that the Giants' final draft selection of 2021 surprised everyone, and has made one of, if not the strongest case out of all the rookies to make the final 53-man roster.
Now it's time to shift to a con from Sunday's game. (I'm using the word "con" as a direct opposite to "pro", but I would classify this critique as an area of uncertainty more than anything):
It's beyond numbing to continue to say how the Giants need a better offensive line, and more specifically how they need at least a competent left tackle. The day that I feel confident in the offensive line seems to be far into the future. Specifically the Giants' 2020 first-round pick, LT, Andrew Thomas.
Thomas played 28 snaps. During that time he allowed two sacks, a QB hit, and was beaten multiple times which resulted in lost yardage. Thomas, out of four very promising tackles in his class, was always considered to be the last option going into the draft. He was selected the highest, at pick four of last year's draft, and the Giants were pressed as to why they chose what looked like the least-talented tackle with the highest pick. I'm telling you this just to paint a picture of Thomas' NFL career before he even took a single snap.
Thomas may be someone the Giants want to consider moving off of next season. His time with New York has been nothing short of inconsistent, and honestly, his presence has contributed to the mediocre play coming from the offensive line. One day Thomas will look like his technique has grown, his hands will look strong, and his body placement will be sharp. However, it's just as likely that the next day his technique is all over the place, his hands don't know what they are doing, and he cannot seem to guard anyone for the life of him.
When asked about how he thought he played during the post-game press conference, Thomas said, "I started off a little slow. There are some things I’ve got to improve on; my hand placement, staying wide on my set, and keeping the depth with the pocket."
Trades On The Way For Giants?
Overall, the Giants really need to buff up their offensive line going into week one. They face one of the better pass-rushing teams in the Denver Broncos. I'd expect to see some trades in the coming two weeks as a final effort to create depth to this line before the regular season starts.