– by Alexander George
Last Thursday night’s New York Giants 20 – 10 loss against the Cleveland Browns raises a lot of questions as to how prepared the Giants are heading into the 2018 regular season. Despite Davis Webb’s inability to hit his targets thereby questioning his capability of being Eli Manning’s back – up quarterback, it is not the main problem the Giants organization have to deal with. Unless of an injury or a total offensive collapse, Eli Manning will be the starting quarterback this season possibly longer. The major issue the team has to face with right now is the inability to establish an effective pass defense.
During the Giants mini-camp and training camp practices, linebackers and other secondary players have had problems covering opposing receivers and other offensive positions. This became more evident against the Browns in the first pre-season game played. Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5 for 5, 99 yds. 1TD) and Baker Mayfield (11 for 20, 212 yds 2TDs) completely dominated the Giants linebackers and secondary.
The touchdown pass thrown by Tyrod Taylor was a 36 yard catch and run by tight end David Njoku. Njoku blew by the Giants linebacker Alec Ogletree in what seemed to be a basic, circular route. Amazingly, there were no other Giants in the vicinity of the middle of the field as the Browns tight end scored with ease.
The second touchdown play which resulted in a lack of coverage was Baker Mayfield’s 54 yard touchdown pass to Antonio Callaway (3 Rec for 87 yds and 1TD). The play was a down and in cut where Giants cornerback Leonard Johnson failed to provide adequate coverage. After the reception, Callaway was able to scamper past Johnson and safety Orion Stewart for a game clinching touchdown.
Going forward, the Giants must improve their pass defense in the remaining pre-season games. Defensive personnel, such as Alec Ogleetree, back up corner back Lenoard Johnson and Orion Steward, who might find themselves on the team roster due to a thinly noted secondary, have to be their A game this season. (This is especially true considering cornerback’s Janoris Jenkins injury history and safety Darian Thompson’s under achieving performance since drafted in 2016.) The Giants defense this season have opposing, offensive quarterback juggernauts DeShaun Watson (Texans), Drew Brees (Saints), Cam Newton (Panthers), Carson Wentz (Eagles) , Matt Ryan (Falcons) and based on last season’s performance, Alex Smith (Redskins), to contend with in the first half of the regular season. If the Giants are not careful, they can find themselves several games below .500 before their week 9 bye week.