This Loss is on Eli Manning.
The New York Football Giants were thoroughly outclassed and embarrassed by The Dallas Cowboys in the 2017 season opener in Dallas on Sunday night. An offseason had been spent focusing on giving Eli a stable of weapons on the offensive side of the ball. After all, the offense had failed to score 20 points in last season’s final 7 games.
Welcome Brandon Marshall, a multi-time Pro Bowl wide receiver. Welcome Evan Engram, a Jordan Reed-esque tight end. A player worthy of investing a first round draft pick on. Welcome Rhett Ellenson. An H-back who will diversify the offense, and allow us to run something other than a 3-wide receiver set.
Hopes were high for the New York Giants entering the 2017 season. Even after OBJ went down in week 2 of the preseason with a high ankle sprain, Giants fans had a belief that the offense was now set to withstand a temporary OBJ absence. We had added talent and skill to couple with Sterling Shepard and Paul Perkins, allowing Eli to extend his Super Bowl window.
Then Game 1 started, and ended. The Giants lost tonight’s game 19-3.
Eli Manning is a Giants great. Two magical Super Bowl runs. A career filled with clutch plays and performances. A resume of success at Jerrah’s World. Command of a complex offense based on reads and timing. Thank you, Eli. We appreciate the memories. We remember your greatness fondly. I hate what I am about to write. Eli Manning is the reason we lost this game tonight.
All of those weapons on offense? Eli leveraged them for 5.8 yards per completion. We had 49 yards of total offense in the first half. We averaged less than 3 yards per play. We scored 3 points in the entire game. We had 35 yards rushing. Our starting running back, and leading rusher for the game had 16 yards. Thanks, Paul Perkins.
I watched a lot of football today. The Giants played at 8:20 pm ET. One trend in the league that I noticed is that the success of the modern QB hinges on their ability to make plays outside of the pocket. Marcus Mariota, Carson Wentz, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Tyrod Taylor, Matt Ryan, Josh McCown, Cam Newton, Deshaun Watson. I watched all of these players contribute to their offense by displaying a calmness and confidence to not only get outside the pocket, but also to make plays under duress. To put some pressure back on opposing defenses while showing athleticism. It’s not like Dak was a world beater tonight. His x-factor? Composure, along with his innate ability to make plays in space, which in turn neutralized the Giants pass rush that will anchor our defense this season.
Two-time Super Bowl Champion, Eli Manning? Not so much. If the ball is not ready to leave his hand at the top of his drop, he looks afraid. Panicked even. The ball ends up in the ground, or thrown so far off target that his receivers can’t make a play. Seldom was a player hit in stride tonight. Seldom was our QB competent.
There was zero continuity with Brandon Marshall. The two players looked as if they had never shared a field together. The 6’4” Marshall was targeted 4 times in 60 minutes. 4 times. Eli had him open with nothing but green grass down the sideline early in the second half, after the cornerback covering Marshall’s side of the field fell down. Eli avoided some pressure, stepped up in the pocket hastily, and hit Marshall in the outside hand frantically, giving him no shot to catch the ball, much less run with it. Eli also overshot him by 10 yards on a go route down the field in the second 3rd quarter. It’s not like Eli had better success with his other options at wide receiver. Eli finally threw the interception which proved to be the nail in the coffin on a mistimed slant to Roger Lewis halfway through the 4th quarter Way to make the most of your practice time to build chemistry fellas. It’s clear that no one was ready for the big stage in Week 1.
Eli’s lone success tonight came on a 16-play, 68-yard drive (that’s a whopping 4.25 yards per play) to start the second half. The drive took up 9:44 to start the 3rd quarter, and only netted three points. The kiss of death on that drive? Eli laying down on 2nd and goal, when he couldn’t pull the trigger on a fade route to Marshall. Classic Eli.
Eli’s cerebral dissection of opposing defense is always what made up for any lack of athleticism he may suffer from. Tonight, #10 treated us to a host of mental errors. There was the fake reverse to Roger Lewis, turned pitch to Paul Perkins that netted three yards because the ball was snapped after Lewis had already passed Manning as he came in motion down the line of scrimmage. Thanks Eli. There was the 3rd and 4 play early in the first half, that saw Eli hit Shepard on a 2-yard crossing route, where he was immediately tackled by Sean Lee. Throw it past the sticks Elisha. There was the closing seconds of the 3rd quarter, when the Giants were called for 12 men in the formation (not the huddle, the formation). After the penalty, the official wound the clock as per standard NFL procedure. And there’s our QB standing in the shotgun as the quarter expired, visibly befuddled by the clock hitting zero. He either didn’t know the rule, or forgot to check the clock; you decide what’s worse.
The most egregious sin of the evening? A pathetic excuse for a drive with 1:55 to go in the game, down sixteen. The only shot to win? A touchdown and two-point conversion, onside kick recovery, and hail mary. The Giants had one time-out. Admittedly, this is an uphill climb, but we know the game plan, right? Guess again. Eli decides to utilize the checkdown, and pad Shane Vereen’s stats for the evening, while at the same time never even sniff the sideline. The result? The ball at midfield with 23 ticks left as the Giants use their solitary timeout. Way to have an understanding of time, score, and situation. Very cerebral.
After tonight, one thing is clear. The issues that plagued the 2017 Giants will most likely plague the 2018 squad. We’ll go as far as our defense will take us. The offense? Until OBJ can put on his Superman cape, don’t expect much. The only thing worse than Coach Ben McAdoo’s slicked back hairstyle, is his offensive stylings. Forget a run game, much less play-action. On a 3rd and 1 late in the second half, the Giants are back in the shotgun with an empty backfield. Awesome.
I feel bad for our defense. They held their own tonight. They bent, but didn’t break, conceding four field goals, and a sole touchdown. They have no support from their counterparts on offense. Eli Manning used to make good players great. Now he needs great players to carry his unit. The effort was their defensively. BJ Goodson had 18 tackles. Jackrabbit Jenkins battled and contained Dez Bryant most of the evening. Snacks Harrison, JPP, and Olivier Vernon played admirably, specifically in a first half in which the Gmen lost the time of possession battle and overexposed their defense. All the defense’s efforts were for naught.
This one’s on Eli Manning…