EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Sunday afternoon, the New York Giants squared off against the Jacksonville Jaguars. This game turned out to be a defensive battle, as both teams struggled to put points on the board. The weather was rainy all afternoon, and may have attributed to the offensive struggles. However the Jaguars were able to outlast New York, 20-15. It was a disappointing loss for the Giants, considering the fact they squandered multiple opportunities. It’s never a good feeling when you feel like you’ve left a win on the table. Here were five of the key takeaways from Sunday’s loss:
Rushing Defense A Concern?
- Jacksonville controlled the tempo of the game through their effective run game. The Giants defense gave up 137 rushing yards to the Jaguars, even after losing Leonoard Fournette (hamstring) in the second quarter. T.J. Yeldon picked up Fournette’s duties, and had 51 yards on 14 carries. The Giants need to focus on stopping the run moving forward, which will help them get better defending the pass. New York’s defense definitely picked up as the game went on, but the consistency needs to be there to start seeing wins.
Rookie As Good As Advertised
- Saquon Barkley looked like a seasoned veteran running the football, and not a rookie in his first NFL game. Barkley showcased his breakaway speed on a 68 yard touchdown run in the second half. This rookie for the Giants is a ferocous runnner, that has energized a running game that was previously non existant. What people underestimate about Barkley is his sheer strength. There were many times were Barkley would break tackles, and get more yardage. Pair that with Barkley’s agility and ability to get the ball to the edge, and you have the Giants back of the future. Barkley finished with 106 yards rushing on 18 carries and 1 TD (22 rec yds). If the offensive line can stay healthy, Barkley will see many more 100+ yard performances.
- New York hurt themselves with crucial second half turnovers. Eli Manning had a pass deflected at the line, and intercepted by Myles Jack. Jack then took the pick to the end zone, which put Jacksonville up 20-9. This deflated MetLife Stadium, as the Giants were gaining momentum after forcing a punt. Then after leaning on the defense one last time inside two minutes, the Giants stood to recieve the ball with no timeouts. However, Kaelin Clay muffed the punt and the Jaguars recovered. This sent Jacksonville into victory formation, and crushed New York’s chances of a comeback. Turning the ball over gets you beat, especially in late game situations. The Giants must take better care of the ball, there’s no other way around it.
OBJ is healthy!
- It was uncertain just how healthy Odell Beckham Jr. was, considering his low volume of usage during preseason. However, Beckham Jr. put all of those concerns aside after torching Jacksonville for 111 yards on 11 catches. Beckham Jr. also recorded six catches for 68 yards while being defended by Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey is arguably one of the league’s best cornerbacks, and was a true test for Beckham Jr. Beckham Jr. was used early and often for New York, which was a great sign. The cuts were sharp and Beckham Jr. showed his speed on several catches crossing the field. New York will need more stellar performances from Beckham Jr., especially considering his record setting new contract. (5 yrs, $130 mil)
Red Zone Inefficiency
- The Giants made it to the red zone two times, and failed to cash in on any touchdowns. Field goals are good, but don’t win you games consistently. You have to be able to take advantage of drives, and this is an issue that has loomed for years with New York. There has to be a sense of urgency and attention to detail, when it comes to red zone opportunities. Too often it seems that the Giants are content with kicking field goals for most of the afternoon.
Barry Holmes is a Senior Writer for PureSportsNY.com. Follow him on Twitter @BHO732
(Featured Photo Credit: Bobby O’Hara/PureSportsNY)