It’s remarkable how quickly it can turn sour, all of that unblemished optimism. If you had taken the temperature of Giants fans just a few weeks ago, things were all sunshine and playoff runs: There was a zero in the loss column, and new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and his new gang of skill players were bringing change we could believe in. Now, though, after a second consecutive uninspiring performance — one in which Eli Manning had more sacks (1) than completions (0!) — fans have dreams of Kevin Gilbride dancing through their heads.
If there’s a silver lining to be found amid all the third and so-long-we’re-in-the-next-county’s, it’s the running game. Andre Williams continued to show surprising agility, and Rashad Jennings popped a 73-yard touchdown run right through the heart of Pittsburgh’s defense. Other than that, though, there was a whole lot of nothing — one first down, and just 11 plays run in four series. But while everyone around the team is all too ready to push the panic button, Manning remains his even-keel self.
“I feel very confident in the offense, in our ability,” Manning said. “I think over these next weeks, we’ll start to get a little bit more and be a little bit more aggressive and see if we can make some plays.”
It is worth noting that the Giants starters were immediately put behind the 8-ball — a sack on the second series put them in 2nd-and-long with their backs to their end zone, and two holding calls killed the next possession before it began. The offensive line remains a huge question mark, but Will Beatty has yet to see any time, and second-round pick Weston Richburg is looking like a starter while playing against backups. It’s still early, and it’s safe to say that Charlie Brown doesn't fit into the team’s long-term plans at left tackle.
“We just had limited opportunities, so I think we’ll try to learn from it and understand that it’s the preseason and not everything is going to be perfect,” Manning said. “We still could’ve executed better, but that’s something we’ll look at on the film and learn from that.”
The McAdoo Project was always going to be a slow process, getting adjusted to new timing and decision-making, and we haven’t even seen the entire projected starting 11 play together against a live defense. The learning curve very well might bleed into the regular season, but it's important not to doom the system before it’s had a chance to find its footing.
“The preseason games are so important,” Manning said. “Just because you get a new look, going against a defense that is going to play things differently, or they might bring new blitzes, or they’re going to play different techniques than our defense. Things come up, how are you going to respond to this style or to this defense.”