Andre Williams was a standout in his first game with New York. Credit: Getty Images
The Giants officially kicked off the exhibition season with a 17-13 win over the Bills in the Hall of Fame Game. And while they were able to get a jumpstart on every other team, it also showed Big Blue needs some work.
Atop their checklist is fine-tuning the new-look offense that looked spotty at best. Quarterback Eli Manning went 6-of-7 with 43 yards and a lost fumble on a sack. Although Manning had a quarterback rating over 92 and only missed one target — which was actually a dropped pass by wideout Jerrel Jernigan — the veteran signal-caller spent a lot of time getting guys in the right position before the snap and oversaw a unit that at times suffered through quicker-than-desired series, including a three-and-out on the opening possession and the fumble on the next.
There were naturally some highlights for the Giants, particularly from their younger players, including a solid performance for rookie running back Andre Williams, who had 48 yards and a touchdown on seven carries and rookie wideout Corey Washington, who had the go-ahead touchdown on a 73-yard reception from backup Ryan Nassib.
But ultimately, head coach Tom Coughlin acknowledged his new uptempo offense will need to show him more.
"The quarterback rating was very high and the [completion] percentage was very high, as there was a correlation between that efficiency and the running game," said Coughlin. "But we didn't really throw it many times. When we get a little better with our pass protection, we'll be able to take advantage of the downfield passing more."
The passing game is still a work in progress, but Coughlin did acknowledge the running game was more impressive. The tandem of veteran Rashard Jennings and Williams looked strong, whether they were running between the tackles or accelerating to the edges off-tackle. There were times when the lanes were clogged up, but the duo still managed to grind out positive yards.
Such an effort wasn't lost on the coach — particularly with the neophyte runner.
"He ran with speed and power and seemed to hit the hole well," Coughlin said of Williams.
Overall, the Giants ran for 121 yards, with 71 yards coming from the Jennings-Williams tandem on just 14 total carries. Williams had the the biggest highlight when he raced around left end for 21 yards. The jaunt set up his touchdown.
While Manning and his wideouts will likely steal most of the headlines and accolades during the summer, Coughlin wanted to make sure the revamped running game gets its due, too.
"We've got five guys who can carry the ball and even some fullbacks, too," said Coughlin. "We've been pleased with their efforts and execution so far and expect that to continue [because] like I said, it's very important for us to have a deep and natural rotation at the running back position."
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter@TBone8.