By Jeff Moeller, The New York Extra/thenyextra.com
The Giants 26-16 loss to Pittsburgh Monday night wasn’t surprising on a few fronts.
In others, it is a reminder to be patient. There were positives, but they weren’t consistent enough.
It became quite clear that grizzled Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin had the decisive edge on playcalling on both sides of the ball over novice and new Giants’ boss Joe Judge.
The Giants’ offensive line once again had trouble creating space and holes for Saquon Barkley, who had six (Yes, six) yards on 15 carries. Yes, Pittsburgh did their homework and their swarming and fleet defense certainly had a big part in keeping him harnessed.
Overall, the running game had some pre-Barkley numbers with 29 yards on 20 carries. Not good.
Daniel Jones also felt the Steelers’ onslaught, scrambling around only to generate a short passing game and an ill-advised interception after a methodical, 19-play, third quarter drive that had them in the Steelers’ red zone and on the verge of taking over the game’s momentum.
Jones did throw a beautiful, deep, 41-yard ball to Darius Slayton in the second quarter that put his team up 10-3, and on a 7-for-12, 99-yard tear. From there, Jones went 19-for-29 for 180 yards and later again hooked up with Slayton in the game’s final minutes.
Yet, the deficiencies were evident.
The defensive line didn’t register a sack until the fourth quarter, but at least Leonard Williams recorded half of it.
Their secondary had trouble catching the rabbit-like Steelers’ receivers and free-agent acquisition James Bradberry didn’t have a good night.
Despite the loss, you can easily see this is Judge’s team.
Unlike his predecessor Pat Shurmur, the Giants played hard for Judge from beginning to end. In a true rah-rah fashion, Judge gathered his team for a pre-game huddle. The energy resonated from there.
They did have some dropped balls, but their tackling and other fundamentals were relatively sharp.
They did have a solid night on special team –Judge’s forte in New England – and discovered a new punter returner in Jabrill Peppers.
Judge will go back to his block and brimstone and prepare to make the trip to Chicago to play an energized Bears team Sunday.
He does have a nice combo with Jones and Slayton who have found a connection. Barkley did manage to catch six balls out of the backfield for 60 yards.
The new tackle duo of top pick Andrew Thomas and ex-Cowboy Cameron Fleming had some moments, but they also had their baptism under fire.
Yet, coordinators Jason Garrett and Patrick Graham will need to will have to find to open and close some holes on their respective sides of the ball.
In the words of ex-Jet coach Rex Ryan, it will be a process. However, you can already see the improvement.
And the Giants look like they have the man to get it done.