ARLINGTON, Texas -- Well, that was ugly. New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo summed up Sunday night's 19-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium appropriately when he explained after the game that “no parts of the offense was functional.”
Not surprisingly, that left plenty of offensive options for today's "down" list. At first glance, without the benefit of film review, here is who impressed and who didn’t:
LB B.J. Goodson -- He was impressive in his first career start and played 73 of 74 defensive snaps. Goodson was all over the field, bringing what we saw on a daily basis this summer to the field in real games. He finished with 18 tackles, including one for a loss. It was hard not to be impressed with his speed and physicality in the run game. Goodson appears to be the sideline-to-sideline linebacker the Giants have been missing.
DT Damon Harrison -- His numbers weren’t overly impressive, but his presence was felt. Harrison was disruptive in the middle of the line. He helped the Giants keep Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott in check. There was one run that went for a 7-yard loss where Harrison forced Elliott to the sideline because of his penetration. Harrison played well, even showing well at times as a pass-rusher. He had five tackles and a batted pass.
RB Orleans Darkwa -- He came into the contest early in the second quarter and immediately rushed for 12 yards. He was on the field for just seven more plays the rest of the game and finished with three carries for 14 yards. The Giants didn’t run the ball well as a team (35 total yards), but they also failed to commit to it at any point. They finished with 10 carries by running backs. Darkwa outperformed Paul Perkins (seven rushes for 16 yards).
Right side of OL -- Tackle Bobby Hart had problems with Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (two sacks), and John Jerry had some costly mistakes. He allowed a sack on a stunt that wasn’t picked up and was flagged for a holding penalty. Overall, there were too many breakdowns on the right side throughout the game. It needs to be fixed in order for the Giants offense to run efficiently and effectively. Hart and Jerry need to play better.
WR Brandon Marshall -- Maybe he was open and quarterback Eli Manning didn’t look at him or didn’t have time to survey the options down the field. Or maybe Marshall didn’t get open enough (which is the initial impression). The results show that in a game where the Giants needed Marshall to be their No. 1 receiver he had one catch for 10 yards on four targets. And that one catch came in the final minute when the game was already over. Marshall failed to create any separation on one deep ball down the sideline, and he and Manning weren’t on the same page on a throw into the flat that hit off Marshall’s outstretched arm. It’s worth noting the two played just a handful of snaps together this preseason. It could take a few games before they’re really on the same page.
QB Eli Manning -- It’s not all his fault. The offensive line didn’t provide ample protection. But you just can’t absolve him from any blame either. Manning is the $100 million quarterback. He needs to make some plays, even when he’s under duress, and not look skittish and rushed. He didn’t on Sunday night, especially in the first half when he threw for 33 yards. Manning was way too content to check the ball down against a Cowboys secondary filled with question marks and that lost its most experienced cornerback in Orlando Scandrick early in the contest. Even when the Giants were trying to salvage something in the final two minutes Manning did nothing but throw to his running backs before time ran out. The Giants ran 11 plays on that final drive (including two negated by penalty) and nine were thrown five yards or less from the line of scrimmage. That’s not good enough. The Giants need their quarterback to occasionally stand in the pocket and make plays with pressure in his face.