The Giants won their first opener since 2010, Ben McAdoo got a victory in his first game as an NFL head coach, and there was plenty to like about the first real glimpse of the 2016 team.
Now it’s on to Game 2.
At least that was Ben McAdoo’s philosophy when he spoke on a conference call yesterday, the day after a 20-19 win over the Cowboys in Dallas. Winning the first game is nice, and it certainly takes the pressure off a rookie head coach who breaks the ice on his first attempt. But McAdoo said the real story of NFL teams is often told between now and the next game.
“Like every team in this league,” he said, “you are looking to take that jump from Week 1 to Week 2.”
In this case, it’s a jump to his regular-season home debut Sunday against the Saints. That doesn’t really play into it, though. The important aspect is that after a preseason of cloak-and-dagger play-calling and personnel groupings, every team’s identity is not imprinted on the video that the other 31 coaching staffs will be scouring.
“No team is really quite sure what you’re going to get in Week 1,” McAdoo said. “Every team changes each year. There’s a lot of turnover season to season. You have an opportunity to go out and play the game together in a full game. You have the chance to take a big jump in the second week.”
How will the Giants do that?
“We have to go in and make the corrections from the first game,” he said. “Emphasize the positives. Go out, practice and make the corrections. Move forward.”
That was a sentiment in the locker room Sunday evening after the win.
“I think we just took one step in a season of trying to maximize our potential,” right tackle Marshall Newhouse said. “It’s such a long season that the wins and losses have to come one at a time and if you let them be more than what they are, then it won’t work.”
Newhouse, like the rest of his offensive line mates and others at various positions, took heat for unsuccessful preseason performances. On Sunday, most Giants answered their doubters, at least a little bit. Newhouse played well and fellow fan punching bag John Jerry at right guard also had several key blocks on running plays.
The line even accomplished something they rarely did last year: With 3:57 left, they gained two first downs and forced Dallas to use all three of its timeouts before giving the ball back with 1:05 to play. In fact, they very nearly ended the game in a victory formation when Rashad Jennings ran for 11 yards on third-and-12. They came up 1 yard short.
This week’s goal?
“Go back and see what we can do to get that yard,” Newhouse said.
They’ll need a lot of yards to beat the Saints and their high-octane defense Sunday. And a lot of defense, too. More so than Sunday.
That’s the jump McAdoo wants to make.
“We played really well at times and not good enough at times,” Newhouse said of Sunday’s performance. “The fact that we can do that and get out of here with a win where in other seasons we wouldn’t have won says a lot about our group and where we think we are. But there’s a lot we left on the field.
“The NFL, win or lose, there’s somebody up next week waiting for you,” he added.
“It’s a good start, an excellent start to the season. But there’s a lot more left out there.”