The game that we got between New York and New Orleans was not the game many of us expected. The over/under was in the ballpark of 53.5, a figure easily eclipsed in each of the last four meetings between these teams. That was not the case this time, not even close. It doesn’t make much more sense to me in hindsight either.
The Saints were hurting at cornerback to begin with, and the awful injury to PJ Williams in the first quarter didn’t help – or so we thought. I figured Eli would be slinging the ball all over one of the worst defenses in football, maybe Drew Brees would match him, but we were for sure going to see some fireworks. Nope. The inability of Big Blue’s offense to put points on the board was the most vexing thing about this game. I’m still a little shook by it.
Eli was great outside of a couple throws and a fumble, and the Giants O was humming along early on. Jennings and Vereen weren’t doing too hot on the ground (Vereen’s fumble in enemy territory was deflating), but McAdoo established and maintained a balanced attack that helped his team win the ball control battle. The three fumbles in the second quarter incrementally shifted my mindset from “be patient, they’re moving slow, but at least they’re moving” to “is this for real? I thought these guys didn’t have a secondary, why the hell are we still running into the line?”
The third quarter saw more of the same, an offense that was able to traverse the middle part of the field with dinks, dunks and rushes for no gain. They set up Josh Brown for two field goal chances: first he missed from 53 yards out, then he hit from 48. The fourth quarter started with the Saints marching into the end zone for a game-tying touchdown, and I started having flashbacks to the nightmare finishes from 2015. I had seen this one before. Brees would find his groove, New York would shoot themselves in the foot, and then I wouldn’t be able to watch SportsCenter for a week.
Thankfully, it didn’t go down like that. Although the Giants defense allowed Willie Snead to score at the start of the quarter, they finished strong and provided the offense with plenty of opportunities to seal the deal. Eventually, they were able to do so through Victor Cruz’s game-clinching grab down the sideline, some impressive quarterbacking, and – you guessed it – a few fruitless handoffs. A gimme field goal as time expired gave Big Blue the victory, but I came away from the contest wanting more. Scoring zero offensive touchdowns against one of the worst defense in the league is not acceptable – especially for this group.
I still have high expectations for them going forward, but I also have some new concerns. Marshall Newhouse left the stadium in a walking boot, which means Bobby Hart (who stepped in after Newhouse went down) or Will Beatty could take over the right tackle spot. The run game wasn’t half as effective as it was in Dallas. Odell Beckham dropped a perfectly-thrown ball immediately before Cruz became the hero, and also, there were a couple times where he was targeted and he looked closer to a regular human than the football deity we have come to expect. But more than all of this, I’m a touch concerned about the approach. I’m not sure if its more of a play-calling thing or an execution thing, but it seemed to me like there were a lot of passing yards left on the table. Sterling Moore and the Saints defense ponied up, and they should get some credit there, but my eyeballs and Eli’s stat line lead me to believe the offense should have pushed the ball down the field more.
Hopefully Week 3’s matchup against Washington brings improved results from a unit that should be finding pay dirt more than they have been in this young season.
I know I’ve only seen them twice, and I need to get to know them better, but I think I’m in love with this defense. They’re definitely my type: they rush the passer, they stop the run, and most of all, they make me feel safe. Hey, maybe not all defenses assembled in free agency are bad.
All of the offseason additions contributed enough that not once did a thought like “good thing they gave Janoris Jenkins
all this money” pop into my head. Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon are half the identity of the line, and the same can be said about Jenkins and Hall in the secondary. The defensive line appears to be the most special thing about this side of the ball, but it also looks like this group of defensive backs might be the best the Giants have had in a while. Drew Brees threw the ball 44 times, completing 29 for 263 and a touchdown – all pretty pedestrian stats for this legend, even when you take into account that he’s outside of his precious dome. New Orleans totaled 41 yards on 13 carries. It was another all-around great performance by Big Blue, and I’m trying not to get too ahead of myself, but the way they kept Brees and friends under wraps while their own offense continued to flounder down the stretch really sold me on this squad.
Like I mentioned, Brees isn’t the same guy on the road. Dallas had two rookies at the helm in Week 1. But those are just about the only things that I can use to hedge my excitement for New York’s defense. Both performances have been thoroughly impressive, even when these two wins don’t seem so cool when they’re older. The same can probably be said for the Washington game coming up next week. I’m already committed to the idea of the this unit being great, but I deem it safe to give them any superlative that tickles your fancy after Week 5, when they will have faced two divisional rivals and three playoff teams from last year (even if they’re not necessarily still good).
They pass the eyeball test, they pass the box score test, and they’re gettin’ money. Life is good on this side of the ball.
– Jim Bearor (@JimBearor)