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Preseason Week 2: Giants vs. Jaguars Recap

First of all, sorry for getting this to you all so late. Had a really busy weekend, and I just got a chance to watch the game in its entirety today.

The Giants evened up their preseason record at 1-1 with a 22-12 victory of the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday, showing some improvement since last week’s loss to the Bengals. But while the win is nice, there is clearly still work that needs to be done.

Let’s take a look at what worked, and what we hope to see addressed in Saturday’s regular season tune-up against the Jets.


Failure to Launch (Again)

It’s the preseason, so let’s try not to read too much into it, but once again the Giants first-team offense floundered. The only difference between this and the debacle against the Bengals was this was a larger sample size, with the starters playing into the second quarter.

To be fair, there was improvement. The offensive line looked better, including left tackle Ereck Flowers, who had a rough debut in Cincy. Eli Manning was given considerably more time in the pocket, and that ultimately could be the deciding factor of the Giants’ offensive success throughout the year. Ben McAdoo’s offense is designed to be an aerial assault.

Giants running back Andre Williams carries the ball during Saturday's preseason victory over the Jaguars (

Giants running back Andre Williams carries the ball during Saturday’s preseason victory over the Jaguars (Photo:

Which is why it’s a little concerning that Manning and his receivers did not seem to be on the same page for much of the night.

Manning completed just four of 14 passes for 46 yards on the night. Now, it’s worth noting he’s never been much of a preseason stud, but fans were probably hoping to see him and Odell Beckham Jr. develop more of a connection during the exhibition season, especially with Victor Cruz still out.

Manning targeted Beckham five times against Jacksonville, but came up empty each time (although Beckham came close to making a huge catch in the first). You can’t say they aren’t trying, as four of Manning’s throws to Beckham were deep attempts, but Beckham remains without a reception this preseason.

The running game looked better, if not explosive, on Saturday. Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen and Andre Williams all averaged four or more yards per carry. What’s interesting, though, is the distribution of carries.

Jennings got the start, but the Giants did not run the ball on their first possession (although Jennings was targeted on an incomplete pass). In fact, the first carry wouldn’t even go to Jennings, as Williams got the first tote on the Giants’ second possession.

In total, Jennings received just one carry for four yards. Williams and Vereen managed and identical 13 yards on three carries (4.3 YPC). The Giants could be employing a three-back system this year, and it seems Jennings’ stock is on its way down.


Safety Dance (…Again)

Last week rookie safeties Landon Collins and Mykkele Thompson both suffered injuries. Collins’ MCL sprain kept him out of Saturday’s win over Jacksonville, but Thompson’s torn ACL spelled the end of his season.

The Giants entered Saturday’s game already without Collins, Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe.

Saturday was also unkind to Giants safeties. Reserve Justin Currie suffered a fractured ankle while covering a kick, and has been placed on injured reserve, ending his season.

Giants safety Justin Currie grabs his ankle after injuring it in Saturday's preseason win over the Jaguars (Photo: AP).

Giants safety Justin Currie grabs his ankle after injuring it in Saturday’s preseason win over the Jaguars (Photo: AP).

An even bigger blow came when Bennett Jackson went down in a heap with less than four minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Jackson, a second-year safety in contention for a starting job, was carted off and diagnosed with a torn ACL. He is expected to join Currie on season-ending IR soon.

By the end of Saturday’s game, the Giants’ only healthy safeties were Jeromy Miles, Justin Halley, and the newly signed Brandon Meriweather.

Thankfully, reinforcements are on the way, as Collins, Taylor and Berhe are all expected to return to practice this week. But the safety situation is still a huge question mark. Outside of Collins starting at free safety, there’s no clear-cut pecking order. While Miles is currently listed as the starter at strong safety, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Taylor or Berhe to start there Week 1. Something to keep an eye on during the last two preseason games.

Thomas the Tank

Going against his former team, linebacker J.T. Thomas had a great game. Playing for most of the first half, he collected five tackles, including one for a loss. His biggest play came when his second quarter sack of Jags quarterback Chad Henne resulted in a fumble, recovered by the Giants.

I was skeptical when the Giants gave Thomas a three-year, $12 million deal in the offseason, but he has looked really good through two preseason games, and should dominate snaps at weakside linebacker this season.

He’s always been a strong run-stuffer, and has an opportunity to set a new career high in tackles, especially as Thomas and the rest of the linebackers pick up the slack for the injured Jon Beason. If he can improve his pass coverage, he could be on his way to a big year.

Game Balls & the Shame Wall

Offensive Game Ball: Wide receiver James Jones

Jones opened his preseason slow, recording just two catches for 11 yards against the Bengals. But he came alive against the Jaguars, making five catches for 83 yards on nine targets, leading all Giants receivers in each category.

Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle and Dwayne Harris are locked in as the Giants’ top four receivers, but Jones still has a good shot at making the final roster. Big Blue will probably keep two other receivers, which will likely be made of some combination of Jones, Geremy Davis and Corey Washington. Jones can solidify his roster spot with a strong performance Saturday against the Jets.

Defensive Game Ball: Defensive end Damontre Moore 

While Thomas had himself a nice game, Moore continues to show the pass-rushing prowess that has intrigued Giants fans since he was drafted out of Texas A&M. He halted the Jaguars’ opening drive with a third down sack and forced fumble of Blake Bortles. He would cap off his strong night with another sack in the fourth quarter.

Giants defensive end Damontre Moore (Photo: Getty Images).


With JPP still MIA, the Giants don’t have a ton of depth at defensive end. The current depth chart has Robert Ayers and Kerry Wynn starting, but at the very least we should see plenty of Moore in sub packages. He could see starts too if he continues to impress.

Shame Wall: Running back Rashad Jennings 

Like I said last week, it’s really hard to single out a bad performer when most of these guys aren’t playing full games. But it’s becoming clearer that Jennings could be in for a tumble down the depth chart.

Andre Williams is finally starting to fix the issues that plagued his rookie season, making him look more like the Heisman candidate he was at Boston College. Shane Vereen is one of the best passing down backs in the league. Meanwhile, Jennings is 30 years old, injury prone (he missed five games last year) and his 3.8 YPC in 2014 ranked just 31st among qualifying running backs.

In Saturday’s game, as mentioned, he received just one carry.

Don’t get me wrong, Jennings isn’t in line for a complete benching. He’ll probably even be the Week 1 starter. But it seems like he’s in for a reduced workload. Last year he averaged a career-high 15.2 carries per game. With Williams improving and Vereen now in the fold, that number should be much lower as the team incorporates all three backs into the offense.

Big Blue Bits

– Trevin Wade filled in for Prince Amukamara as the starting cornerback opposite Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and he once again led the team in snaps. His six solo tackles were also a team-high. Of course, the Giants didn’t have too many other options at corner, with Amukamara, Chykie Brown, Jayron Hosley and Chandler Fenner all held out of action on Saturday. Wade is buried on the Giants’ official depth chart, but is doing his part to change that. I think he could make the team out of camp.

– As I mentioned, Jon Beason is injured again, as he left Saturday’s game with a knee sprain. He’s week to week, and his availability for Week 1 is in serious question. Jameel McClain will probably take over middle linebacker duties in the meantime.

– Wide receiver Geremy Davis continues to impress the coaching staff, and it would be a real surprise not to see him make the team. The rookie out of UConn tallied 43 yards on four catches in Saturday’s win.

– Orleans Darkwa led the team in carries for the second week in a row, but was less impressive than he was against Cincinnati. He carried the rock six times for 25 yards for a decent 4.2 YPC, but down from last week’s 5.8 YPC. He’s in the lead for the fourth running back spot, if the Giants opt to keep four running backs.

– Just a week after Steve Weatherford and Robert Malone split punting duties, Weatherford handled all three of the Giants’ punts this week, which should put to rest any notions that Malone was a threat to Weatherford’s job.

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