The Giants will be treating their third preseason game as their “dress rehearsal” exhibition matchup, but it won’t be completely revealing.
Ah yes, the “dress rehearsal” preseason game.
In a traditional NFL league year, it was always the third of four exhibition games. Starters would play the first half and some would potentially play into the third quarter.
But now that the preseason has converted to just three weeks, the decision of when to hold the “dress rehearsal” game isn’t as concrete.
While teams could have it in preseason Week 2, the Giants have decided their preseason Week 3 game — this Sunday night against New England — will be when their starters will play a great portion of the contest.
This means for the first time this preseason, we’ll get to see a Daniel Jones-led offense take the field prior to what’s supposed to be a crucial regular season.
Well, not entirely.
We’ll get a glimpse of how the unit may fare. But don’t expect Sunday’s performance to tell the entire story of what could come in 2021.
The rust still needs to come off
Sure, this Jones-led offense has worked together in training camp and against other teams’ defenses — Cleveland and New England’s units — in joint practices.
But this will be the first live game, preseason or regular season, for this group in 2021.
Simply speaking, it won’t all be pretty.
There may be some failed assignments, missed blocks, and maybe a bad throw or two from the young signal-caller himself.
That’s fine: get the kinks out now before the games actually carry meaning on Sept. 12 (when the Giants face Denver in Week 1).
Unless Jones somehow goes 0-for-12 in the first half with a couple of picks, I wouldn’t stress out. Developing chemistry and rhythm should be what he and the offense strive to do against the Pats.
Oh, and if you’re Jason Garrett: be creative. This game should be when you pull any tricks out of your sleeve (if any even exist) and take play-calling-related risks. He’ll be facing a Bill Belichick defense in a preseason game — this should be the perfect opportunity to do so.
Notable bodies still missing
Don’t forget, the projected starting offensive unit won’t be on the field in full.
Running back Saquon Barkley is still rehabbing from his ACL tear while No. 1 wide receiver Kenny Golladay is dealing with a hamstring issue.
Veteran Kyle Rudolph, who’s expected to be the No. 2 tight end behind Evan Engram, won’t participate while he continues to recover from offseason foot surgery.
Not to mention, first-round wide receiver Kadarius Toney is still undergoing a ramp-up period due to a recent injury and additionally may sit.
Here’s what the Giants’ unit of offensive weapons could look like this season: Barkley, Golladay, Toney, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Evan Engram, and Kyle Rudolph.
And here’s what the unit could look like on Sunday: Devontae Booker, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, David Sills, Dante Pettis, Evan Engram, and Kaden Smith.
We all love to talk about the improved slate of weapons Jones has alongside him, but that slate won’t be fully present Sunday night, so we’ll need to wait and see what the entire group can bring to the table. We’ll also need to wait and see how Jones can fare with a fully healthy supporting cast.
Other offensive tidbits to focus on
Despite the absence of some key offensive players, there will be other reasons to watch this unit perform against New England.
Fans will be able to see Devontae Booker further prove why he deserves the No. 2 running back role behind Saquon.
David Sills could also make his final case for a roster spot after catching a touchdown in last Sunday’s loss to the Browns.
This young offensive line — especially tackles Andrew Thomas and Matthew Peart — could impress and provide fans with some clarity as the regular season nears.
And even though he won’t have his entire group of starters with him, the quarterback may be able to answer some noteworthy questions.
Will Daniel Jones look more poised and confident in the pocket? How quick will his release be? Will he go through his progressions? Will he turn the ball over in any way, shape, or form?
It won’t be perfect on the offensive side of the ball for New York, but that certainly shouldn’t prevent you from tuning in Sunday at 6:00 p.m. ET.
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