Here are four takeaways from the Giants’ 10-6 loss at Cleveland Monday night:
QUARTERBACKS: Eli Manning made his first start and he had a respectable showing, completing 10 of 14 passes for 80 yards. Even though he was rushed at times due to the offensive line and suffered a sack, Manning looked like he was ready for the opener.
Geno Smith took over and again didn’t look bad. He completed 11 of 16 passes for 79 yards and had a sack before he had his past haunt him. Driving for the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter, Smith threw an ill-fated interception deep in Cleveland territory as he failed to read a change in coverage.
Josh Johnson got a few minutes and had a miscommunication on a handoff that resulted in a fumble. He completed a pair of short passes for six yards.
It was disappointing not to see rookie Davis Webb get some action. Webb still looms as being the team’s No.3 quarterback and will likely get a good look in the team’s final preseason game. Until then, there will be an interesting battle between Smith and Johnson for the No. 2 spot. At the time, Smith appears to have the upper hand.
OFFENSIVE LINE and OFFENSE: The O-line only allowed two sacks, but they couldn’t provide any push for another anemic running attack. The Giants managed only 65 yards on 20 carries, and they couldn’t find the end zone again. They also had too many negative yardage running plays.
Another issue with the offense is the wide receivers. X-rays on Odell Beckham Jr.’s ankle were negative, but it is likely that he won’t play again until the season opener against Dallas. Brandon Marshall also got rattled and the status on his shoulder is still questionable. Beckham did manage to catch three balls, and the QBs spread to the ball around to 13 different receivers. The team did bring in some fresh bodies, but they can’t afford to lose many more.
On the positive side, top pick Evan Engram had three receptions and showed his speed off the line in the process. But Engram will still need to work on his blocking, especially if the ground game continues to stall.
Rookie running back Wayne Gallman also opened some eyes as he looked sharp on his five carries for team-high 22 yards. He also caught two passes for 20 yards. But he fumbled on a bad exchange from Johnson and also dropped a pass.
DEFENSE: The Giants’ D had another solid showing overall. Jason Pierre-Paul picked off a pass from a deflection and the unit had two sacks while allowing 242 overall yards.
Middle linebacker B. J. Goodson looks like the solution for a long search for a consistent middle linebacker since the days of Harry Carson. Goodson, who has been a steady force, had seven stops –five solo- and a sack. He did a great job stopping the run and covering the pass.
Oliver Vernon and Jonathan Casillas also were in mid-season form. Rookie Dalvin Thompson certainly will get plenty of playing time this season.
Barring any injuries, this will be a fun unit to watch this season.
KICKING GAME: Both kickers again provided the lone points on the scoreboard. Aldrick Rosas booted a 47-yarder and Mike Nugent had a 38-yarder. Whoever wins the battle, the Giants will be fine in this area.