The preseason is now over and the Giants 53-man roster has been confirmed. We can now (finally) look forward to proper football. But first, let’s take a quick look back at a preseason where certain players stepped up and others took a step back.
Lots of issues from the 2015 season were addressed in the off-season, but one area where there is still clearly a huge issue is at offense line. Throughout the 4 preseason games, Eli Manning and Ryan Nassib were under huge amounts of pressure in the pocket. The need for change on the O-Line was obvious and the Giants re-signed former Tackle Will Beatty shortly before the final preseason game. The patchy O-Line resulted in an inconsistent running game throughout preseason, where the only bright sparks came from Bobby Rainey and Orleans Darkwa, who both beat out Andre Williams to find themselves on the 53-man roster.
Not 1 touchdown came from the arm of Eli Manning or any of the 1st team receivers. This shouldn’t be a concern for Giants fans at all, as Manning and Odell Beckham continued to look in-sync in the limited snaps they played together. Victor Cruz finally got back on the field to play a snap after almost 2 years on the sidelines with injuries. Although he only caught 1 catch, Cruz looked in good shape and his route running was as smooth as ever. The real eye catcher on offense for the Giants in preseason was Wide Receiver Tavarres King, who had 7 receptions for 126 yards and 3 touchdowns. King showed great speed off the line and clearly possesses excellent route running abilities. King showed enough to the Giants coaches to earn a roster spot ahead of 2015 6th round pick Geremy Davis.
Signs of Fight on Defense
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was this week quoted on saying the defense was “Building the bully”, and all the evidence from preseason confirms this is true. A lot of money was spent by the Giants in the off-season on 3 big name players. DE Olivier Vernon (5 years $85million), DT Damon Harrison (5 years $46million) and CB Janoris Jenkins (5 years $62.5million). That’s a lot of money for 3 players, but the Giants are hoping they are worth their weight in gold. So far, the stars are shining, as both Vernon and Harrison had excellent preseasons. Olivier Vernon is touted as one of the best pass rushers in the game and he certainly showed it with consistent QB pressure, hits and sacks, something which the Giants haven’t seen since a fully healthy JPP. “Snacks” Harrison also played a key part on the defense, stuffing the run on a regular basis, but also getting after the QB. A surprise standout on the defense was rookie Romeo Okwara who totalled 3 sacks and a forced fumble, the undrafted free agent did more than enough to make the 53-man roster and could be a huge presence throughout the season. Along with JPP, the Giants are looking to have a ferocious and feared D-line.
Eli Apple showed why he was a 1st round pick with consistent play throughout. His aggressiveness against wide receivers was on show with tight man to man coverage against star players like Julian Edelman. Apple may get flagged more often during the regular season for his aggressive play but his raw talent is clearly a huge upside for the Giants and one that fans should be excited about.
Preseason Grade; C+
The defense looks revitalised, but the offense looks off-pace. Rookies played well throughout and the Giants should be looking for production from Eli Apple and Sterling Shepard. It should be stressed once more that preseason shouldn’t be looked into that much, but defensively the pressure on the QB shown from all 4 games is a huge positive and the defense should look to continue that into the season. Looking ahead for the offense, Eli Manning has been equipped with more weapons this season and I expect his numbers to continue to rise under the guidance of Ben McAdoo. The Run game will once again be unreliable for the Giants so I’m predicting 40 touchdowns for Eli and at least 4,000 yards. Can Odell Beckham Jr catch 20 of them? Nothing that superstar does surprises me anymore.