At the behest of my former radio co-host at Marist College, I will be more analytical of the final three pre-season games as opposed to providing game facts and reporting. I feel this is the best route to take given that pre-season games are meaningless with the exception of judging player performance.
The Giants fought admirably without their starting quarterback and 2/5ths of their starting offensive line despite losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-17. It was the first Giants home game in their new Meadowlands stadium.
Third string quarterback Rhett Bomar took every single offensive snap for Big Blue last night. Last year, Bomar was on the practice squad. He is expected to make the 2010 roster. This was the first time Bomar has played a whole game since his 2008 season at Sam Houston State. He was expected to be a star for the Oklahoma Sooners until an off-field issue forced Coach Bob Stoops to kick Bomar off the team. Many believe that he would have been a first or second round pick if he had been groomed by Stoops and his staff at OU.
Bomar performed bravely, yet mostly inadequately, going 13 of 26 in his pass attempts for 167 yards and an interception. He completed a 45 yard fly to Steve Smith, who made a Sports Center Top-Ten-worthy catch. Later in the game, Bomar found Scott Chandler for a 21 yard gain over the middle. These two were probably the only noteworthy plays Bomar made with his arm, as he was very erratic for most of the night. On a positive note, Rhett showed very good pocket presence, as he was only sacked twice, somewhat of an accomplishment considering he played for three quarters behind a reserve offensive line. He also scrambled for 21 yards on three rushes.
Because of Bomar’s inconsistent passing performance, the Giant receivers did not have a chance to display their skills. For those expecting an encore performance from Victor Cruz, they were surely disappointed. Cruz finished with two catches for 30 yards. On one of the catches, Cruz made a slippery move on a Steelers’ D-back, gaining an extra 10 yards. He did however muff a punt on a return attempt inside the 10 yard-line. This certainly won’t help his chances of securing a roster spot.
Brandon Jacobs was a late scratch for the Giants last night with a stiff neck. His backup Ahmad Bradshaw was suspended for the first quarter of the game for being late to a meeting. This allowed D.J Ware to start. The injury prone Ware suffered a concussion in the first quarter and did not return to the game. This provided an opportunity for Andre Brown, who is battling for a roster spot after a disastrous rookie year in which he ruptured his Achilles tendon in one of the first practices. He scored a touchdown from one yard out in the fourth quarter. To me, Brown lacked explosiveness and did not finish his runs all that well. Bradshaw, on the other hand, was his typical self once he was allowed to play. Tough to tackle, always fighting for extra yards, Ahmad scored a touchdown in the second quarter from nine yards out. If I’m Coach Coughlin, I truly need to consider staring Bradshaw, as he has completely outperformed Jacobs for over a year now.
Once again, William Beatty started at left tackle, pushing David Diehl over a spot to play guard. Shaun O’Hara started at his normal center position, Guy Whimper played right guard and Kareem McKenzie played his right tackle spot. I really do not have a good read on what the Giants are trying to do here. I can’t tell whether they are going with this lineup because they are missing their two starting guards (Chris Snee and Rich Seubert) or they truly want to move Diehl to guard and make Beatty the permanent left tackle starter. The Shawn Andrews signing only complicates things further. If they want Beatty to be the permanent left tackle, the Giants have a logjam at the guard position with Diehl, Snee, Seubert, and Andrews. Not to mention, the NFL is a left tackle league and I am not sure that Beatty can be trusted to protect Eli Manning’s blind side just yet. I think the most talented offensive line unit the Giants could go with to start the season is (from left to right) Diehl, Andrews, O’Hara, Snee, McKenzie. This will allow Seubert to fully recover from his broken hand and will also allow Beatty to get more mental reps.
I was very pleased with the Giants first string defense. Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora both made nice plays in the backfield on outside runs. Lord knows I am not the biggest Osi supporter on the planet, but it seems as though he is doing his damnest to prove that he is a not just a one-dimensional D-end. Corey Webster intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass in the first quarter, a nice play during his 2010 debut. Also making their debuts were Keith Bullock and Kenny Phillips. Bullock made a bone-crunching tackle when he entered the game in the second quarter. Phillips went unchallenged for the most part, but expressed his excitement to be back on the field in his post game conference.
The Giants’ starting defense played into the second quarter. Bullock and Phillips were both saved until the start of the second, as Jonathon Goff and Deon Grant got the starts in their spots. The highlight of the night on defense occurred with the Steelers driving late in the second. The Giants stopped Pittsburgh on three consecutive plays inside the 10 yard line, including a run stuffing plunge by fan-least-favorite Rocky Bernard on third down. The half ended before Pittsburgh was able to get their field goal unit onto the field.
In the second half, the second and third string defense were awful. Dennis Dixon, Pittsburgh’s third string quarterback, had a stunning performance, effectively using his legs on scrambles and his arm to dismantle the Giants reserves. Although Dixon has won a regular season game as a starter, Coach Coughlin and Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell have got to be concerned with how some key reserves played, especially Bruce Johnson who was burned on a deep ball from Byron Leftwich to Mike Wallce, and Phillip Dillard, the rookie middle linebacker who was unable to stop the inside runs by the Steelers’ reserve running backs.
Personally, I felt that the Giants were far less sloppy in this game than they were in their preseason debut against the Jets. Perhaps it was because of the additions of Bullock and Phillips to the defense. Perhaps it was the fact that they had to rely on one signal caller the whole game as opposed to worrying about getting multiple quarterbacks repetitions. Perhaps I was being too critical of the Giants after their first preseason game, as I was told by friends and relatives. Regardless, the Giants have to take the good and the bad with this preseason defeat. More importantly, they need to be patient as the leader of their team recovers and prepares himself at his own pace for the start of the season.
- 6th round pick Adrian Tracy, a linebacker out of William and Mary made a few violent tackles in the second half. It seems to me he will make the team.
- Lawrence Tynes nailed a 42 yard field goal. He has looked strong in the preseason. I’ve never understood why Jerry Reese opted to sign him for 5 years after he needed three tries to kick us to the Super Bowl.
- I expect Linval Joseph to be a more visible rookie this year than Jason Pierre-Paul. He looks like a beast to me.
About the Author
Written by Chris Ippolito
Grew up in Holmdel, NJ. Studied at Marist College. Worked as personal intern for hockey analyst and writer Stan Fischler of MSG network. Interned at MSG network for school credit during Fall of 2008. Worked as play by play broadcaster for the Danbury Westerners of the NECBL in summer of 2007. Passionate about baseball, football, basketball, and hockey. I mostly follow New York teams, but I pay attention to what goes on outside the tri-state area very closely. I feel as though I write so that people can both relate to and understand what they are reading. I am honest, but I also try and look at issues from different perspectives. I will do my best to both inform and entertain while contributing to this website.