Sunday, August 3, 2014
Observation Deck: New York Giants
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
CANTON, Ohio -- It didn't take long to see what's going to be different about the New York Giants' offense this year. They played up-tempo. They went no-huddle. They shuffled tight ends in and out of the game at a dizzying pace. Their first two possessions were disappointing from a results standpoint. (The second ended with a lost fumble on a sack.) But Eli Manning & Co. looked better on their third possession, when they leaned on the run game and went 80 yards on 12 plays for the preseason's first touchdown.
On that first touchdown drive, starting running back Rashad Jennings had five carries for 25 yards and rookie Andre Williams had five carries for 37 yards, including the 21-yarder that set up the touchdown and the three-yard touchdown run itself. Williams is a very good runner -- not just the "power back" his reputation says he is -- and tight end Larry Donnell, wide receiver Rueben Randle and others did a fine job blocking for him. It helped the Giants that the Bills took their starting defensive linemen out for that drive, but it's still interesting that Williams got so much work along with Jennings with the first-team offense.
Backup quarterback Ryan Nassib showed some good and some bad. I thought he looked cool and in command in the second quarter, though his accuracy remains an issue. He looked more rattled in the third, throwing a terrible interception that was called back due to a penalty and then getting called for intentional grounding two plays later. His final pass, though, was a very nice deep ball that 6-foot-4 wide receiver Corey Washington went up over the defender and corralled on his way to a 73-yard touchdown catch.
Tight end Daniel Fells left the game with a sprained knee, but prior to that the tight end hierarchy was clearly: 1. Donnell, 2. Fells. 3. Adrien Robinson, and Donnell's run-blocking shows you why. This offense wants to use the tight end, and will use two or three at a time and line them up almost anywhere.
Defensive end Damontre Moore dominated rookie tackle Cyrus Kouandjio on one series, picking up one sack and coming close to another. I didn't see a lot from starting defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, however. He seemed to get handled one-on-one by Bills offensive linemen and, in one case, by tight end Chris Cragg. Expected more from Pierre-Paul, as the Giants obviously do as well.
Manning was 6-for-7, which is well above that 70 percent completion rate for which his coaches want him shooting. But his yardage total was 43, which is only 6.14 yards per attempt. The Nassib-to-Washington play in the fourth quarter showed that the Giants will try the deep ball at times. But the foundation of this offense is going to be quicker, higher-percentage throws and the run game.