Most people around the NFL expected 2019 to be a long season for the New York Giants. Week 1 only confirmed it.
The Giants were ripped apart by the Cowboys in Dallas, 35-17, as their defense had no answer for Dak Prescott and the passing game.
The fourth-year quarterback went off for 405 yards and four touchdowns, sharing the wealth with receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup; both of whom recorded over 100 yards against the shaky Giants defense.
Prescott became just the second Cowboy in franchise history to record a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3 during a regular-season game.
If there was any thought that a sophomore slump would be waiting for Giants star running Saquon Barkley, it was dispelled rather quickly.
The talismanic rusher was let loose for a 59-yard run on his first carry of the season to set up the Giants’ opening score, a one-yard touchdown reception by Evan Engram from Eli Manning.
Those good feelings, however, ended rather quickly as the offense would not record another touchdown until late in the fourth quarter while the defense under second-year coordinator James Bettcher showed its blatant inexperience, especially in the secondary, and the head coaching of Pat Shurmur limited Barkley once again.
The Cowboys reeled off five-straight touchdowns on consecutive possessions between the first and second half, exposing just how big a problem the Giants defense might be this season.
In the first half alone, Dallas put up over 300 yards of total offense with Dak Prescott passing for 256 of those and all three of the Cowboys’ touchdowns.
Prescott’s fourth touchdown of the day — a 25-yard strike to Randall Cobb — quickly negated any sort of progress made by the Giants after an Aldrick Rosas field goal midway through the third quarter.
In the meantime, Barkley was used sparingly despite the Cowboys showing an inability to stop him. Shurmur only called the superstar’s number 11 times on the ground despite averaging 10.9 yards per carry.
Along with his 120 rushing yards, Barkley added 19 receiving yards on four receptions.
As will be the case all season, however, eyes fell under center as Manning ‘s reps were watched with due diligence as rookie Daniel Jones waits in the wings as the perceived quarterback of the future.
The 38-year-old’s numbers were commendable against a solid Cowboys defense, completing 30-of-44 passes for 306 yards and one touchdown. But Manning’s aerial attack was predicated solely on check-downs and screen passes, which takes out any sort of venom from the offense.
In a blowout game with 1:46 remaining, Jones got the call to run the Giants’ offense during their final drive. After a strong preseason showing, Jones completed two-of-three passes for 17 yards before fumbling on a scramble attempt that gained a first down.
The decision to play Jones was more likely to preserve the veteran Manning rather than bring an end to his 16-year era at the helm of New York’s offense, but expect this to be a weekly conundrum faced by Shurmur all year.