In the end, it was what was basically expected.
The Giants’ 20-15 loss to a talented Jacksonville team at MetLife Stadium during a drizzly, soggy afternoon reassured the team of some constants they could expect for the remainder of the 2018 season, and it also reinforced some doubts that will need to be further addressed.
Odell Beckham Jr. looked crisp and fluid with his 11 catches for 111 yards as well as two pass interferences calls. Beckham gave the Jacksonville secondary fits most of the afternoon and looked mature and confident.
Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram proved they can be a constant, but the overall unit dropped six balls.
Saquon Barkley discovered how good an NFL defense can be in the first half with 12 yards, but he later showed how dominant he could possibly be with an explosive 68-yard run down the sideline to finish over the 100-yard mark, a log that should be a constant.
But then there are the doubts.
Start with the offensive line.
Eli Manning, who finished a respectable 23-for-37 for 224 yards, was harassed most of the afternoon and fell victim to a pack of sacks and an interception. Manning, though, looked like he had a spring in his step and didn’t look like an aged quarterback.
Ereck Flowers was flagged for two penalties on the opening drive, later gave up a sack, and finally allowed a Jacksonville defensive end to blow by him and hurried Manning into throwing a tipped pass that resulted in an interception return for a touchdown that gave them a 20-9 advantage.
Yet, Flowers wasn’t alone as the remainder of the line also struggled. Granted, this is their first game and they were truly tested against Jacksonville. It’s evident that this will be a weekly work in progress.
As a result, Manning had trouble finding receivers down field and resorted to a shorter passing game through play action.
Defensively, the Giants got a solid performance from Eli Apple and Janoris Jenkins on the corners, notably Apple, who looked like a transformed player from last year.
They appeared to be haunted again by tight ends catching touchdown passes, but a score was wiped out by a penalty.
Linebacker Alec Ogletree would have been the victim – as he was during the preseason – but Ogletree and the rest of the linebacking corps had a solid, overall afternoon. Rookie Lorenzo Carter made his presence felt.
Without injured Olivier Vernon, the pass rush was non-existent.
It was an afternoon in which the constants and the doubts were a holdover from the preseason
The Giants easily could have used their transition as an opening –game excuse. Thirty new players are on the current roster.
But that was this week. Next week is a Sunday night game in Dallas against a Cowboys team that looks like a shadow of itself. After that, life doesn’t get any easier with the Texas and Saints to fill out the first four games with the Panthers and Eagles waiting in the wings.
With a somewhat sloppy game that they could have won behind them, the Giants will need to squelch the doubts before they can ride the constants.