Observations from a film study of Saturday’s first half
Let’s turn to the film to see what more we can learn about the New York Giants’ performance Saturday in their 21-20 victory over the New York Jets.
A few caveats here. I am not a scout, so these are simply my observations. It’s preseason, so the All-22 version of the games is not yet available from Game Pass. Finally, this week I have only had the opportunity to review the first half. So, there won’t be an assessment of Ryan Nassib, Tavarres King or any of the reserve guys fighting for roster space.
With that out of the way, let’s get to it.
Beautiful route by Victor Cruz
The only time Cruz was targeted in the first half came on a deep ball. Unfortunately, Eli Manning had a defensive lineman at his ankles and underthrew the ball, or it would have been a huge play. We will get to why that happened in a bit.
Cruz, lined up in the slot, ran a fantastic route. He turned Buster Skrine inside out, selling a post route and then cutting to the flag. This had nothing to do with speed and everything to do with precision route-running. It was a great sign, even if it wasn’t a completion.
Bobby Hart really struggled
Apologies for the second week in a row to the Bobby Hart Fan Club, but the 2015 seventh-round pick does not appear ready to be a starting NFL lineman. Replacing Justin Pugh at left guard for a second straight week, Hart appeared overmatched by the Jets much of the time.
On the long ball to Cruz, Hart reacted late to a stunt by the Jets, which is why Manning couldn’t step into his throw. As I reviewed the first half play-by-play, I kept jotting down notes on negative plays by Hart.
On the Giants’ first offensive play of the game he whiffed on a block, allowing linebacker Erin Henderson a free path to stuff Rashad Jennings for no gain. On the third play, Manning tripped over a pulling Hart for a 4-yard loss.
On a second-quarter play where Mo Wilkerson blew up rookie tight end Ryan Malleck, Hart was also beaten by Leonard Williams. With 5:20 left in the half, Manning completed a short pass to Odell Beckham but took a big hit from the lineman Hart failed to block. Hart also had a false-start penalty that turned a third-and-one into a third-and-six.
About Leon Hall
The veteran corner was only on the field for three plays before suffering a concussion. Unfortunately, he was torched for easy completions on two of those plays.
Orleans Darkwa’s tough night
The running back needs to be solid on special teams to make the 53-man roster. He had a tough time Saturday. On the punt the Jets blocked, Darkwa tried to cut Bruce Carter, who easily jumped over him and blocked Brad Wing’s punt. Later, Darkwa ran into punt returner Dwayne Harris, costing him a few yards on a return.
Jonathan Casillas would be missed
The Giants need to hope Jonathan Casillas’ rib injury isn’t serious. He was really active during his short time in the game Saturday, and has pretty much become the closest thing the Giants have to an every-down linebacker.
Ereck Flowers’ pass pro still a problem
Flowers was OK in run-blocking as a rookie, but his pass protection was not nearly good enough. His struggles have continued in the preseason. He didn’t give up any sacks on Saturday, but got bull-rushed into Manning on one play and lost the edge on another, forcing Manning to spin and run.
I’m not a scout, but sometimes Flowers seems to let rushers into his body too easily, negating all his strength. At other times, he just doesn’t seem to react well to the outside speed rush. Maybe someone with a better scouting eye can tell me why.