The Giants entered Glendale, Arizona Sunday looking to avoid their sixth 0-2 start in seven years. The Cardinals were certainly an inferior opponent compared to a Cowboys squad that crushed the Giants 40-0 in last week’s season opener. But even Arizona gave Big Blue fits. Head coach Brian Daboll’s crew needed to overcome a 21-point deficit (the largest in franchise history) and boot a go-ahead field goal in the waning seconds to win 31-28 over what’s supposed to be the worst team in the NFL.
Regardless, a win is a win. And that’s all the Giants needed after last Sunday’s debacle.
Let’s discuss the good and the bad from Sunday, starting with the bad:
The bad: the offensive line. Left tackle Andrew Thomas didn’t suit up after he was listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. You could argue it was the right move given the need for Thomas to play in Thursday night’s matchup against the talented 49ers.
The Giants offensive line already struggled with Thomas, one of the best left tackles in the game, against the Cowboys. Without him in Week 2, it was a sheer disaster.
The unit allowed three sacks and the constant pressure from Arizona’s front prevented quarterback Daniel Jones from maximizing his supporting cast all throughout the first half. And right tackle Evan Neal committed a crucial holding penalty that negated a game-tying Daniel Jones touchdown run with under five minutes in regulation.
Thomas returning for Week 3 should help. But a Josh Ezeudu-manned left tackle role isn’t the only issue. Marcus McKethan started over Mark Glowinski in Week 2 but isn’t much of an upgrade at right guard, Neal still has a lot to prove, and starting left guard Ben Bredeson exited early with a concussion.
This line was a pretty significant question mark entering the season, regardless of Thomas’ pedigree. Now, it’s become a major shortcoming.
The bad: young secondary, pass rush issues. The Giants put way too much trust into a young secondary, with a duo of rookie cornerbacks in Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins on the boundaries. Rolling that duo out was a surprising move considering Hawkins is a sixth-rounder, it moves veteran Adoree’ Jackson to the slot, and most importantly, inexperience is a recipe for disaster in Wink Martindale’s blitz-heavy defense.
And unfortunately through the first two games, it’s clear this secondary has been nothing short of just that: a disaster.
The unit held its own against Dallas but surely took a wrong turn against Arizona, allowing journeyman backup Josh Dobbs to throw for 228 yards and one touchdown on 21-of-30 passing. And the concerns in the secondary will hold the Giants back in the pass-rushing department. Martindale will be hindered in deploying his edge rushers if too much help is needed in the defensive backfield.
The bad: Saquon Barkley’s injury. The star running back rushed for only 63 yards but scored two of the Giants’ four total touchdowns, notching one each on both the ground and through the air. So he had a productive day, but it ended with an apparent ankle injury. Barkley exited the game and was replaced by backup Matt Breida right before Graham Gano’s go-ahead 34-yard field goal with 19 seconds to play.
The sixth-year running back needed a ton of help when limping off the field, so that’s something to monitor with the Giants already playing again this Thursday.
The good: Daniel Jones’ big day. Jones inked a $160 million extension with $82 million guaranteed in the offseason but struggled mightily in Week 1. Jones, moreso than anything, needed a victory in Week 2. But he also just needed a big individual performance to start proving that he was worth the substantial payday.
Against Jonathan Gannon’s Cardinals defense, we saw the dual-threat abilities Jones put on display last season as he picked up 380 total yards and three touchdowns (321 yards, two touchdowns passing; 59 yards, one touchdown rushing). Jones spread the wealth, too. Seven different players caught balls for the Giants in the win. Tight end Darren Waller made his presence felt with six catches and rookie wide receiver Jalin Hyatt recorded the first two catches of his career for 89 yards.
With a weak offensive line, so-so receiving talent, and now an injury to Barkley, a lot will be asked of Jones moving forward. So he’ll need to start stacking strong days.