The New York Giants gave their fans something to celebrate in Week 1 in a surprise win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. The Giants weren’t perfect in the season opener, but it was a good showing for a team that isn’t expected to have too may wins this season.
Among some of the positives was the outstanding effort by Saquon Barkley, who looked like his old self for the first time in quite a while. The Giants’ offensive line did some good things and some bad things and Daniel Jones also had an alright day in the first game of the year.
Here are three takeaways from the Giants’ first game — and win — of the year.
A look at how aggressive Brian Daboll will be
Now that is one way to make your NFL coaching debut and new Giants coach Brian Daboll gave everyone insight into his style as the man in charge. There was no better example of the aggressive style he brings and the trust he has in his players than the decision to go for the 2-point conversion that led to the Giants winning 21-20 over the Titans.
That was the plan right from the start of the drive and the decision to go for two energized the players. There was little surprise from the players afterward that Daboll made the decision and there had been hints during the preseason that the first-year head coach wouldn’t be afraid to pull out the odd trick or two if the situation called for it.
Sterling Shepard told reporters after the game that Daboll had told them the night before that he was “not going to coach scared.”
“We’re going to be aggressive. That’s what we want to do,” Daboll said “That’s the mindset I want the players to have. If it didn’t work, I could live with it. I thought that was the right decision. You’re an inch away or whatever it was. I trust Saquon. I grabbed a couple of defensive players and busted their tails out there. I went up to some of the offensive guys that weren’t out there too and I said, ‘Hey,’ we got the ball, wherever it was.
“I said, ‘If we score, I’m going for two, you guys good with that?’ And they said, ‘F-yeah.’”
A tail of two offensive lines
It was no secret how important the offensive line was going to be this season. In its first true showing, the effort could best be described as OK.
The Giants’ interior line struggled at times, but seemed to make some corrections as the game went on and the team’s pass blocking could use some work. The Titans were able to get to Jones five times for sacks, however, only one of those came in the second half of the game. The run blocking also looked good for the Giants and gave plenty of room for Barkley to work with.
Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal played well, while rookie Joshua Ezeudu had a good day on the field as well for the offensive line.
There’s plenty of room for improvement, but at the very least seeing the unit find a way to pull themselves up and adjust as the game went on was a good sign.
Special teams issues
The one issue that persisted through the preseason was New York’s special teams and hope that the issue had been resolved dwindled in Week 1. Now that’s not to say that it won’t be fixed before the home opener against the Carolina Panthers.
Still, the Giants gave up a 46-yard punt return that helped to set up the Titan’s first touchdown of the game and later on they early gave up a 56-yard kick return if it wasn’t for a holding call that bailed New York out. Eliminating that issue will be key for the Giants as tey begin their prep for the Panthers.