In an unusual evening which began nearly an hour late after the fans were asked to vacate their seats to avoid a torrential thunderstorm and lightning strikes, the Giants opened their preseason against the Miami Dolphins with a rainbow soaring over the horizon beyond the stadium.
Ben McAdoo made his debut as the Giants' head coach and the reviews are still being tallied. The Giants looked good early but, as the starters began to leave the game, McAdoo's team looked like a group that needs work. A lot of work.
They began like a house afire, taking a 10-0 first quarter lead behind their revamped defense, which held the Miami frist team offense to two three-and-outs on their first two possessions and then intercepted QB Ryan Tannehill on the third.
The Giants first team offense was without QB Eli Manning (coach's decision) and their Pro Bowl WR Odell Beckham, Jr., who was scratched by McAdoo after the hour-long delay.
"He came out, we had intentions of playing him in a handful of plays," McAdoo said of Beckham after the game. "We got back in, we had the delay and I decided not to play him."
The Giants' offense opened the game with backup Ryan Nassib under center and second-year WR Geremy Davis in Beckham's spot. Initially, it appeared that McAdoo was calling the plays, but after a quick scan of the sidelines, OC Mike Sullivan was holding the large play card.
Nassib orchestrated a nine-play, 74 yard drive that resulted in a three yard TD run by Rashad Jennings. The drive featured a 24-yard diving catch by rookie WR Sterling Shepard on the Miami 8. Keep in mind, however, that Miami did not dress a good portion of their starting defense on Friday, including DT Ndamakong Suh, Mario Williams, Cameron Wake and Byron Maxwell.
That was the longest drive of the evening for the Giants. They would go three-and-out six times and make just eight first downs the rest of the game. They fumbled six times, losing two and Nassib threw two interceptions. All three of his turnovers led to points for the Dolphins.
"I think overall, as an offense, Ryan was right in line with everybody else tonight," McAdoo said after the game. "It was a sloppy performance. Anytime you have six balls on the ground and two INT's, it was not what we were looking for."
No, it wasn't.
Takeaways....Nassib does not appear to have matured much since last season. Granted he hasn't had many reps in games, but he's looking like he's regressed. The team's top two draft picks both left the field with injuries, but returned to the sidelines. CB Eli Apple injured his knee on special teams and WR Sterling Shepard left with a groin issue...both are expected to be fine according to McAdoo. The starting defense looked exceptional, and the backups played decently even though the offense left them in precarious positions with tunovers.
Observations on offense....The Giants have been working on their third down efficiency all spring and summer. Looks like they'll have to keep working after going 2-12 on third downs....the Giants rushed for 158 yards on Friday, led by RB Andre Williams, who continues to look much sharper than he did last season, rushing for 41 yards on nine carries (4.6 YPC)....rookie RB Paul Perkins had 36 yards on seven carries with a long of 14.....the Giants had nine completed passes the entire game with only one player, Geremy Davis, regsitering more than one catch....he had two....Shepard was targeted four times and had to leave his feet to make his only reception....for all the talk of TEs this summer, the Giants had just one completion to a TE on Friday, a 7-yarder to the rookie, Jerell Adams....the Giants held the football for only 8:57 in the second half after winning the TOP in the first half, 18-12....they were in the red zone only twice, both times in the first quarter, and came away with a TD and a FG.
Observations on defense....the first team provided some pressure with Olivier Vernon getting a QBH on his old teammate Ryan Tannehill early on....the Dolphins had no first downs in the first quarter and were held to just 18 total yards...LB Jonathan Casillas further solidified his starting role with a strong performance with an INT and two passes defensed....LB Mark Herzlich and rookie LB B.J. Goodson led the team with six solo tackles each...Goodson had two tackles for losses, which is his forte....DE Owa Odighizuwa had two sacks... rookie DT Greg Milhouse had a sack as did backup DE Stansly Maponga....
Special teams notes....RB Bobby Rainey served as the primary kick and punt returner and did not have a good debut...he had two kickoff returns of 27 and 9 yards..rookie WR Roger Lewis had a 21-yard return...Rainey ony averaged 5.7 YPA on punt returns, but one was a fumble that was recovered by CB Eli Apple....the Giants coverage teams logged in an average night, allowing 20.3 yards per on three KO returns and 14 yards per on five punt returns....