Aug 042014
 

Since this is the first “Hits, Misses & Musings” of the new year, I need to take care of a few housecleaning items up front, especially for those of you who are new readers.

First, these are my initial reactions from the game. Obviously I plan to go back and watch the tape as the longer inside Football issue (available to subscribers) will have a write up on just about every Giant who player who took a snap.

Second—and I cannot stress this enough—this is a partial list. So please don’t feel the need to point out that I “forgot” someone.

The goal of this feature, which I do after every game, is to give you a quick snap shot and a few thoughts.

 

HITS

Fullback Henry Hynoski was one of my biggest question marks coming into this summer because of concerns over his left shoulder, the one he fractured last year. Given the Giants’ bad history with fullbacks who suffer shoulder injuries, I thought I had legitimate reason to be concerned.

Not any more though, as Hynoski was sharp with his blocks. He still doesn’t knock guys off the line, but if he can neutralize his man long enough so the running back can get through a hole, that’s all you can ask for.

How good was it to see Hynoski, who’s lead blocking is particularly lethal down by the goal line, lead the way for rookie Andre Williams’ first touchdown run?

I never did understand why the Giants failed to list defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins as the starter on their depth chart. Maybe it was to light a fire underneath him.

Whatever the reason, Hankins came through with some fine ball this week. His numbers don’t show it – he was credited with one assisted tackle—but Hankins was a disruptive force in the middle of the scrum.

In case you didn’t notice, the Giants ran rookie running back Andre Williams after starter Rashad Jennings and the former Boston College star didn’t disappoint.

I’ve written before of his vision and ability to hit the hole so quickly that oftentimes defenders are just starting their pursuit by the time he bursts through the line.

I absolutely love what I’ve been seeing from rookie offensive lineman Weston Richburg and would be stunned if this kid doesn’t crack the starting lineup this year.

He did a brilliant job with rubbing off his blocks and getting to the second level, showing fine mobility that reminded me of a very young Chris Snee. If he keeps this up, I don’t see how the coaches can justify keeping him on the bench.

My final choice for a “hit” is none other than punter Steve Weatherford whose gross average was 46.0 yards. With a little better coverage, his net average of 30.0 could have been much better, but make no mistake, he kicked the stuffing out of that ball, including a gorgeous 58-yarder early in the game.

 

MISSES

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has spoken about being 100 percent, about having a big year, etc.

Well, talk is cheap, even if it’s just a preseason game. Pierre-Paul was shut out on the stat sheet in the tackle and sack column, though he did have one pass breakup.

Fullback John Conner had a very shaky opening game. I’m not sure what’s going on, but he missed blocks that he should have made and he looked like he was hesitant  out there.

He entered this game just behind Hynoski in the fullback battle, but after this performance, he might very well have fallen further behind in the competition.

Cornerback Jayron Hosley, as you know, is to serve a league-imposed four-game suspension at the start of the season. Well, he didn’t exactly help his cause for after that suspension.

Despite finishing second on the team in tackles with four, Hosley missed many more plays than he made, and it seemed as though the Bills went after him repeatedly when he was in the game.

Hosley still has value to the team despite the looming suspension, but not if he continues to play sloppy, uninspired ball like he did this week.

Tight end Larry Donnell came into this game as the No. 1 tight end on the Giants depth chart. He caught one of the two passes sent his way for 13 yards, but what was particularly unsettling was his blocking.

Twice, when working from the backfield, he failed to get low enough on his blocks, the result being the running plays were blown up. Something tells me that the pure fullbacks on this team don’t have to worry about being edged out by a tight end this year.

 

HISSES

(This is a combination of “hits” and “misses.”)

I’ve said all along that I like what Ryan Nassib has shown as far as engineering the offense, and this week was no different. However, what I still don’t like is how flustered he gets when pressured. His illegal forward pass was a jaw-dropper (and not in a good way).

A quarterback has to have control and know where he is at all time. He also threw a pass or two wildly, such as the one where he was in danger of being sacked and he just chucked the ball out there.

You can see that this offense is a better fit for his skills and that he has a comfort level in it. The next step for him is to develop ice in his veins and stand up to the rush and not try to force a throw.

Safety Cooper Taylor might have led the team in tackles with eight (four solo) and had that nice interception, but he was clearly the one napping on the blocked punt.

 

MUSINGS

Although the Giants starting offensive line held up well, I still don’t think the unit has fully gelled. Now I understand that it was missing Will Beatty, but that left side of the line looked a little off, especially in run blocking. I’ll check the tape obviously, but I’m pretty sure there wasn’t much run-game production behind the left side of the line.

I’m still not sold on receiver Jerrel Jernigan making this roster. At this point, I’d go with Corey Washington and Marcus Harris ahead of Jernigan, who seems limited to playing in the slot.

I thought the Giant’s offense would be a little more fast-paced (similar to what I’ve been seeing in practice) than it was this week. The good news though is there wasn’t a “delay of game” penalty called on the offense, which means they got the play off a lot sooner than to let the clock wind down to the nub as was often the case in past years.

 

BY THE NUMBERS

It’s just one game, but in terms of some of the numbers on offense that were worrisome last year, the Giants showed some significant improvement.

Using last year’s preseason stats, here’s a look at how the Giants offense stacked up after one game.

Category 2013 2014
Third Down Conversion 24.6 46.2%
Possession Avg. 30:01 33:37
Avg. Yards/Play 4.1 5.0
Completion % 50.3 60%

 

Again, there are four more preseason games to go, but if the Giants offense can continue to build on these numbers, they’re going to be in really good shape moving forward.

THE FINAL WORD

The heck with this stupid experiment to move the extra point back to the 15-yard line. The NFL needs to do something about kickoffs, which are fast becoming extinct – not one kickoff was returned in this game.

If that’s the goal—and it might very well be for all I know, then why even bother to line up for them? Seriously, either move the kickoffs back five yards, or take them out of the game.

Now that would be an experiment whose results I’d be interested in seeing – not this ridiculous idea of making extra points harder.

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