New York Giants: Zeroes and Heroes of Game 1 at Dallas

Evan Engram, New York Giants. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Evan Engram, New York Giants. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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New York Giants
Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys. Deandre Baker, New York Giants. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Zeroes of the week

Like I mentioned earlier, there is plenty of blame to go around.

Zero Number 3 – Referees

Normally, I don’t criticize referees. I was one, at the high school level and I understand it’s a tough job. Yes, it’s the NFL and there is supposed to be no such thing as home cooking at the professional level. It seemed, however, that the Giants did not get the benefit of the doubt from head referee Walt Anderson’s crew, far from it.

Conversely, Dallas was the beneficiary of some LeBron James driving the lane type officiating, like when guard Zack Martin tackled Giants safety Michal Haley on an Ezekiel Elliott screen. There was also an offensive pass interference call on Cody Latimer for blocking linebacker Jaylon Smith over 15 yards deeper than where the pass was completed to Wayne Gallman in the backfield.

Zero Number 2 – Offensive coordinator, Mike Shula

Mike Shula did not have a good game. It started out fine as the Giants used a combination of Saquon Barkley rushing, and tight end Evan Engram receiving to put up 121 first-quarter yards. Then as the G-Men fell behind, their game plan went out the window.

Shula had his QB, Eli Manning, doing things that were contrary to his strengths, such as trying to throw rollout passes to the right. Everyone knows he won’t run and even if he did, is too slow to get very far. They failed every time. The OC has to know Manning does his best work standing tall in the pocket. Additionally, he stopped putting the ball in Barkley’s hands. There is zero excuses for a playmaker of Barkley’s caliber to only have 15 touches in a game unless he gets injured.

Big Zero of the Week – Giants Defense

Man the New York Giants defense was terrible in Dallas. They made first-time OC Kellen Moore look like the reincarnation of Bill Walsh as a play-caller. The Cowboys had almost 500 yards offense. In particular, quarterback Dak Prescott picked them apart.

He threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns on 25-32 passing. Prescott became the first Dallas QB to have a perfect passer rating since Craig Morton in 1969. Think about that for a second. In that time frame, 50 years, Dallas had Roger Staubach, Danny White, Troy Aikman, and Tony Romo. None of them did in any game what Prescott did to the Giants on Sunday.

As it turned out Dallas didn’t even need Ezekiel Elliott, who they rushed to sign earlier in the week, so he could play opening day. Cowboys receivers were wide open all day. One would expect Amari Cooper to have a good game, which he did, (six catches, 106 yards, 1 TD) because he’s one of the best wide receivers in the league. Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb, however, made the Giants secondary look awful. They combined for 11 receptions, 227 yards, and two touchdowns.

Aside from Janoris Jenkins, no one in the New York Giants could cover man-on-man. When they went to a zone defense, there were more holes in it than a pair of 10-year-old gym socks. Combine the poor secondary with no pass rush, and the problems become exponential.

Going forward, the Giants have to do things differently. The best course of action may be to trade for a cornerback who can cover man, and let 2019 first-round pick DeAndre Baker learn the NFL by defending receivers in the nickel package.