By Jeff Moeller, The New York Extra/thenyextra.com
It was an unorthodox night to begin with, and the theme didn’t differentiate much.
The Giants intra-squad scrimmage at Met Life Friday night brought the theme social injustice that lingered around the camp recently into the Friday night first-half mist.
The Blue (offense) and White (defense) teams exhibited the strain and dedication that draped the camp as the teams locked arms before the kickoff. In the end, the Blue won 23-22, on new kicker Graham Gano’s 41-yard field goal in the closing seconds, but the final score never really mattered.
As far as the game, it generally mirrored the somber approach between the two teams in which punter Ryan Dixon seemingly kicked all night long.
Still, head coach Joe Judge saw some rising potential, some holes that could be filled, as well as some areas to work on. Sounds like a typical cliché about a game, but playing under the big lights (albeit in an empty stadium) gave it that “dress rehearsal” feel on what would have been their third preseason week.
If there would have been fans, there would have been the share of cheers and catcalls.
Yet, here’s some thoughts.
Linebacker Alonzo Carter recorded all four of his sacks in the first half, but he obviously was emotionally moved afterwards by stating “don’t let fear and division continue to manifest itself in this country” among a series of other similar statements. Carter said it was hard for him to think about football Friday morning.
Joe Judge described Carter as “having a high motor,” and the third-year linebacker has been living up to the billing.
Defensively, the Giants’ first two units had adequate pressure on Daniel Jones and his backups all night, and the secondary played it relatively tight. Overall, the defense outplayed the offense, which is a good sign.
Running back Wayne Gallman, whose Giants’ future looked grim at the end of last season, flashed some of the magic he had as a rookie with a rushing and passing touchdown to spell Saquon Barkley and Dion Lewis,
Speaking of Lewis, he showed his quickness in the backfield and his ability to roll out for a pass. As expected also, Barkley had a relatively quiet night, but he did look crisp.
Backup quarterback Colt McCoy had some moments, and also his share of overthrows, and fellow backup and once –coveted Cowboy’ signal caller Cooper Rush guided the team down the field on an impressive, second-half drive.
As for Jones, he wasn’t as sharp as anticipated with a fumble – yes, another one – but his offensive line needed to do a better job.
Overall, the Giants’ offense was predictable and conservative, as they employed a short-passing game and didn’t throw deep downfield.
First-round pick left tackle Andrew Thomas improved as the game went on and adjusted to defensive coordinator’s Patrick Graham varied 3-4 looks and stunts. Cam Fleming got the start at right tackle and strengthened his case for the job. Fellow draft picks left guard Shane Lemieux and left tackle Matt Pearl meshed well together on the second-team offense.
“Overall as a group, as an offense, we did some good things and moved the ball at times,” said Jones, whose offense had three points at the half. “I don’t think we were consistent enough through the course of the scrimmage and we left some plays out there.”
So, the Giants will go back to the war room and can have a better grasp at some positions on the big board. However, they realize there is still some work to do, and plenty of questions to answer when it comes to depth.
In a little over two weeks, the Giants will begin it for real with the Monday night opener with Pittsburgh. There again won’t be any fans and some of their feelings surely will linger. Focus will be the key.
“I thought we did a good job on what it could look like in two weeks,” added Barkley. “I’m glad we’re not at the point where we need to be, but I do believe there is enough time.”
Unlike last year, time could be on the Giants’ side.