5 Bright Spots From The Giants Loss To Tampa
It’s hard to find positives after a 0-4 start. Statistically, a season that begins with four straight losses is doomed to fail. Only the 1992 San Diego Chargers were able to overcome such a start and find their way into the postseason. But there were a few positives to be taken from this game and, frankly, I really feel like I need to find some positives in this season. I mean, it’s only October. I can totally write off football season before the baseball playoffs even get rolling.
5. Wayne Gallman, Jr.
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t know who Wayne Gallman, Jr. is. To be honest, I would not have been able to name him as part of the 53-man roster if I had not mentioned him in an earlier piece in training camp. The fourth-round pick out of Clemson didn’t show much in training camp. And he’d been sitting in the third chair to Paul Perkins and Orleans Darkwa, both of whom have been ineffective this year.
When he was inserted into the backfield Sunday afternoon, he didn’t exactly re-write the record books. He ran for 42 yards on 11 carries, which was not exactly game-breaking. But he did carry the ball consistently, show an ability to cut and break tackles. And, maybe most importantly, his ability to execute even basic short yardage runs allowed the Giant offense to find some rhythm for the first time in the game. It’s a good bet he’s taking a few more snaps with the first team this week.
4. The Offensive Line
Okay, this one is a bit of a stretch. We did not exactly see the re-birth of the Bart Oates/Gary Reisenberg days this weekend. But, considering how poorly the offensive line has played all season, this counts as real progress. Eli Manning was not sacked even once. And, okay, they run a quick pass offense that is supposed to protect Eli from turnovers and sacks.
But they not only allowed Eli to stay vertical, but they gave him enough time to find second and even third options against a Tampa secondary that seemed to confuse the offense early on. They also provided him support by allowing his offense to run the ball a little. Although 91 yards on 24 carries isn’t earth-shattering, it did ease some of the pressure on their embattled quarterback and the offense as a whole.
3. Evan Engram
The Giants passed on trying to help re-build their offensive line or find a top running back because they believed their offense needed an elite level pass-catching tight end. And Sunday was more proof that Evan Engram is the real deal.
He was targeted 11 times on Sunday, catching 6 passes for 62 yards. He was sought by Manning in some key third down situations. And he made two sparkling catches, one with one hand while sliding to the ground and the other tip-toeing the sidelines. He did have a pair of questionable drops, but overall he showcased the ability that has New York dreaming big dreams about their prized rookie.
2. Eli Manning
It’s often been hit or miss with Eli over the years. He has good years, bad years, and sometimes good and bad games and good and bad quarters. But he put together a big performance when the Giants needed him to. With the team down 13-0, he rallied his troops and found an offensive rhythm that had eluded them for all but one-quarter in the first three games.
He connected on 30 of 49 passes for 288 yards and two scores. He slid confidently in and out of the pocket to find receivers and gave guys more time to find space. Eli even took off on a 14-yard touchdown run that surprised everyone on both teams because … well … he doesn’t run. He even led his team on a methodical drive to the end zone in the late 4th quarter to give the Giants a 23-22 lead. It’s kind of not his fault that the defense couldn’t hold it.
1. Sam Darnold
Okay, I just got done singing Eli’s praises. But he will be 37 in January, and it wouldn’t hurt the Giants to begin looking for a successor to their two-time Super Bowl hero quarterback. And the consensus is that Sam Darnold might be just the guy most teams might be looking for when it comes to future NFL stardom.
The sophomore from USC is off to a bit of a rough start this year. He’s thrown 8 INTs this year, one fewer than he did in his remarkable freshman season. But he has still had a few eye-popping moments so far for the Trojans. And, even if the Giants aren’t quite ready to hand him the keys to the car, I’m sure they wouldn’t mind having a talented kid to ride shotgun for a while.
And, okay, I know the season is long from over. And I also know that the Giants rarely do worse than 5-11 in any season over the past 40 years. But they did take advantage of a woeful 4-12 campaign in 2003 to swap QB picks with San Diego and take home a certain Ole Miss quarterback who has been under center for them basically ever since.
It’s never too early to plan ahead. This year has been a colossal disappointment for Big Blue to this point. But fortunes can change quickly in the NFL. They could turn it around in a flash. After all, they are playing the Chargers this weekend. But if they can’t, Darnold would be a nice consolation prize for four months of agony in New York.