Are the Giants giving us more of the same this season? It sure seems that way.
The similarities between Game 1 this year against the Denver Broncos and Game 1 in 2020 against the Pittsburgh Steelers are uncanny. And it starts with the lack of a run game.
Daniel Jones as Leading Rusher…Again?
But wait, there’s more similarity. In 2020, the Giants gained a whopping 29 rushing yards on 20 run plays, with Daniel Jones being the leading rusher with 22 of the 29 yards. In 2021, the Giants gained 60 yards on 20 run plays, with Daniel Jones being the lead rusher with 27 of the 60 yards. Okay, yes, the Giants doubled that number from a year ago. Still, 60 yards is a huge disappointment for a team that prides itself on controlling the line of scrimmage and averaged nearly 140 yards per game over the last 12 games of 2020.
It’s going to be a tough road ahead if the quarterback continues to be the team’s leading rusher. In 2020, a then-healthy Saquon Barkley amassed a paltry total of six (6) yards on 15 carries. Against the Broncos on Sunday, Saquon (returning from an ACL injury that cut his season to just 1.5 games last year) gained 26 yards on 10 carries. It’ll be even more challenging if the offensive line doesn’t come together and master their blocking assignments.
Offensive Line Just Coming Together…Again?
Last year’s offensive line was a work in progress with a rookie left tackle, 2nd year left guard, first-time center, veteran right guard, and veteran right tackle. There were no preseason games last year. So, that starting line played their first snaps together in that first game last year. This year, our left tackle and center remain in their positions. But last year’s Game 1 left guard moved over to the right this year. The starting left guard this year is in his 2nd season but new to the Giants for only two weeks.
The team’s starting right tackle is a veteran that played left tackle for all but his rookie season. The Giants also mixed in two of last year’s draft picks at left guard and right tackle. In essence, all but two linemen are playing new positions. This starting group had not played a game snap together in the preseason.
Giants Need to Move the Chains and Eat Some Clock
The lack of a running game leads to too many third and long situations, makes it tough to move the chains, leaves time on the clock, and puts the quarterback under pressure when the balance of plays shifts to a passing game.
For the most part, on Sunday, the Giants pass protection held up. Jones was sacked twice and suffered just two more QB hits. That’s a nice improvement over the three sacks and eight hits he suffered last year in Game 1.
In 2020, it took four games for the Giants’ running game to get going. The o-line needs to grow up quickly and open some holes for Saquon to avoid another disastrous start. Saquon is a downhill, hit the hole, then cut type of running back. That requires opening holes from the linemen and tight ends.
If Saquon has to dance first, the play is over. That was the result last year and again this year.
But Washington is next, and Saquon loves running against that Football Team.
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