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New York Giants' Week 2 Takeaways vs Panthers

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

Photo Credit: Giants Wire

Nothing but good feelings after the Giants won their home opener 19-16 against the Carolina Panthers. Graham Gano kicked the 56-yard field goal with under 4 minutes left to play, the defense held their ground and the Giants offense was able to run out the clock. These are the little things that the Giants wouldn't have done last season, as they would have found ways to throw the game away. Under the new regime, the Giants are learning how to win games when falling behind and close out games when ahead. Now the Giants are off to their best start since the 2016 season when they last made the playoffs. So much to break down, let's get it.

Learning how to finish games

Photo Credit: Giants Wire

This is a game that the New York football Giants would have found a way to lose last year. As I mentioned in my opener, a close game always went against the Giants. But a young team needs to learn how to win close games, and Brian Daboll's confident energy is felt throughout the team and stadium. “Fans were great. Just driving over here from the facility looking at all the tailgates and all the beverages and all the games they were playing, they were pretty rocked up,” Daboll said. “They had their jerseys on, some old school ones, new school ones. They were great on third down. They know when to cheer. And that was certainly helpful to have have them out there.”

The defense made the plays to get off the field on 3rd down to end drives. This is a defense that last season just couldn't come up with the big stop. It didn't matter if it was 3rd and short or 3rd and long (the latter proved to be as irritating), the defense just could make a play to get off the field. The defense so far has relied on the schemes of Martindale to disguise blitz or drop back in coverage to confuse the quarterback and create favorable matchups on the line to get pressure.

Photo Credit: Giants Wire

When the Giants got the ball back with 2 minutes and 6 seconds on the clock, it was a recipe for 3 and out. The Panthers had all their timeouts and their defense had stifled the run game most of the day. But the Giants opened holes to get a first down. The big run by Daniel Jones on 3rd down was a play that could've easily gone against the Giants in past years. Jones tucked the ball away on the design rollout, got the first down and iced the game away.

Giants defense rose to the challenge

Photo Credit: Giants Wire

During the week, defensive coordinator Wink Martindale called for the Giants fans to bring the noise. He said we need the stadium to be loud and we'll do the rest. The fans held up their end of the bargain as the stadium was loud all game. From a defensive perspective, the young unit did everything to hold up their end of the bargain as well. The Giants forced a fumble on the opening kickoff and an opening drive fumble on a screen pass. It's clear that the biggest offseason addition was Martindale. His defense has held the Titans and Panthers to 20 points or less without his top two edge rushers, rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari. He also played the second half without Leonard Williams, who left Sunday's game in the third quarter with a knee injury.

The defense was flying all over the field and did a good job of not letting RB Christian McCaffrey get loose outside of a long 4th quarter run. The defense was getting after Baker Mayfield, getting pressure on him, and getting him off his spot. Martindale disguised blitzes to drop back in pressure and confuse the offensive line. DE Oshane Ximines played an excellent game; recording one sack, constantly getting after Baker or dropping back into coverage. His first couple years in New York was spent in the dog house, but under Martindale he's done what he's been asked and has come alive.

Photo Credit: Giants Wire

One play in particular showed how well the defense was playing. On 3rd and 7 inside of 7 minutes in the 3rd quarter, the towel-waving crowd rose to the occasion. Baker had to go up and down the line to get the protection setup. Then with minimal time on the game clock, Baker threw a screen that was quickly swallowed up and forced the punt.

The secondary was under the spotlight all week, as injuries depleted the cornerback position. Martindale went with a three safety look to contain deep plays and have a safety spy McCaffrey. The secondary made plays down field, sure tackles, forced a turnover and kept everything in front.

The defense as a whole did a great job of getting off the field on 3rd down. The defense made plays and none bigger than when safety Julian Love sacked Baker Mayfield to force the Panther to punt with 2:06 to play. At that point the Giants were clinging to the lead and needed a stop to seal the deal.

Jones struggles to be an average quarterback

Photo Credit: Giants Wire

Daniel Jones is a good quarterback. I think it's time to say that's all he'll ever be in this league. Daniel Jones isn't getting much help when it comes to offensive line protection (we'll talk more about this), but Jones fails to make the simple reads during his progression. Jones didn't have an impressive game, he finished 22 for 34 for 176 passing yards and a touchdown. Add in 10 rushes for 21 yards and Jones did all he could to win the game. While Jones didn't throw an interception, it wasn't without trying. To end the half Daniel Jones sat in the pocket, looked off a receiver that was streaking wide open down the middle, or never saw him to begin with, and immediately threw to a safety valve that was heavily covered and should have been a pick-6. Jones constantly throws into a crowd with at least 3 defenders around the receiver. The Panthers played 2-deep to keep everything in front of them, but the passing lanes he's throwing into aren't lanes at all

I noticed in the preseason and in Week 1 that Jones just doesn't see the field or defenses very well. If you give him a one read or an RPO play, he'll do okay. But when he has to scan the field he's either looking down at the pressure or missing open plays down the middle of the field. There were too many times when David or Kadarius Toney were wide open over The Middle and Jones just didn't see it. And it seems like he doesn't even look at Kenny Golladay's way, like he wasn't even on the field (more on that later).

But when Jones needs to make plays, he can make plays. Jones is a rhythm quarterback and then in the second half when the Panthers scored a touchdown, Jones engineered a drive that eventually resulted in a touchdown to TE Daniel Bellringer. The drive was simplified and Daniel Jones just needed to make the right throws.

Offensive line continues to struggle

Photo Credit: Giants Wire

The offensive line had a pretty bad day to day the least. The Giants offensive line struggling with both run and pass blocking on Sunday. Granted they played against a solid Carolina front seven, but there were times that the line just couldn't hold up. The passing attack was largely ineffective in the first half, and one of the big reasons was the lack of protection. While the Panthers only scored 2 sacks, they consistently pressured Jones and he was unsettled in they pocket.

The line allowed 9 QB hits and watched Jones get chased all game. The loss of Shane Lemieux is really starting to show as the interior line gets beat at the pocket of attack all game. Rookie Evan Neal was no match for Panthers Pro Bowl outside linebacker Brian Burns, as he beat him all game. Neal is young and will learn from this, you will see talent across from you every week in the pros. The line as a unit needs time to gel and to get healthy. Eventually they will begin to gain some cohesion and this offense will take off.

The offense also struggled to run the ball, and the interior line was the major reason why. Defensive talked were in the back field almost immediately to get in Saquon Barkley's face. The RBs averaging only 3.1 yards per attempt (33 carries, 103 yards). Saquon Barkley finished the game 72 yards on 21 carries, just 3.4 yards per carry. But in the first half there was no run game to speak of. Carolina has a fast defense and when the coaches switched to a more downhill running style with jet motion, the lanes started to open up. However, the line needs some work before Micah Parsons and the Dallas defense come to town Monday night.

Receiver by committee will be the norm

Photo Credit: Giants Wire

Last week against the Tennessee Titans, Kadarius Toney played only 7 snaps on offense. Daboll did that the receivers would compete on a weekly basis for snaps. “It’s a continual competition at receiver. I’ve said it since when? I’m not being a jerk. I’ve said it since the middle of camp, right? It hasn’t changed. It’s going to be a continual competition,” Daboll said in his post game press conference.

When the 53-man roster was announced, many were surprised that Darius Slayton was still on the roster. It seemed the Giants had way too many receivers. But after a 2021 season of watching their number one pick in Tony barely play and being left with practice squad receivers, it looks like a totally different philosophy in 2022. Toney in particular has only been available in 14 of his first 19 games. Brian Daboll has made a clear message to the receiving corps, you're going to earn your playing time. This time it was Giants' big free agent signing from last year Kenny Golladay who barely played in Week 2. Richie Jones, coming off a really nice day in week 1, earned his playing time and had a second straight 5+ catch day.

Sterling Shepard earned his playing time by playing all around football, whether it's blocking or playing with effort. It's all about the scheme, knowing your assignments and getting open. But more importantly, nothing will be handed to you. There is a new culture that will not allow players to do whatever they want and get rewarded for it. David Stills gets in the right spot, hustles, makes blocks and earns every snap he gets.

There were reports on how Kenny Golladay didn't look like he put his best effort forward in the preseason. It seemed to carry over into the regular season and his playing time has been cut because of it. Reports after the game started that Golladay was not in the locker room after the game and his locker area was empty after the 15 minute cooling off period for the postgame media. However, safety Julian Love refuted this report on Twitter, saying "My locker was cleared out and I was also gone by that time… so were several others." It's clear that Golladay is not happy with his role and Daboll had questions to answer after the game.

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