The New York Giants laid an egg in their first game of the season, albeit an expected one against a far-superior Dallas Cowboys team that has divisional-title aspirations in 2019.
It didn’t take long for the Giants’ shortcomings to not only be revealed but exposed on both sides of the ball.
Yes, the Giants put up 470 yards of total offense against a solid Cowboys defense, and there were still glaring issues that need to be addressed.
Here are two big takeaways from the Week 1 beatdown in Dallas:
1) WHERE’S THE DEFENSE?
The national football media is pretty funny.
Yes, Dak Prescott had a monster game where he picked apart the Giants defense for 405 passing yards and four touchdowns.
Yes, he became just the second Cowboys since Don Meredith in 1969 to put up a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in a regular-season game.
Yes, that man deserves his money and a big contract.
Yes, Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore pushed all the right buttons in Big Blue’s dismantling at AT&T Stadium.
Let’s take a break from the Cowboys love-fest, though. The main reason why Prescott and the ‘boys performed as well as they did was because the Giants defense is a hot pile of garbage.
And that might be too nice a term.
Following a season in which he was sacked 56 times, Prescott wasn’t touched by the Giants’ pass rush. In fact, Prescott was only pressured on three of 32 dropbacks on Sunday (9.4-percent). According to ESPN Stats and Info, that was the lowest pressure rate of his career.
All that time in the pocket allowed him to find the open man with ease — although it wasn’t too hard to begin with because the Giants secondary was a complete non-factor.
Rookie Deandre Baker — one of the Giants’ first-round draft picks in 2019 — was torched on multiple occasions by Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.
His counterpart, Antonio Hamilton, got the start on Sunday despite not being featured in a single defensive snap last year.
He was bossed around by Randall Cobb for most of the day, especially on an embarrassing tackle attempt that saw the veteran receiver throw him down on a stiff arm like a sack of potatoes during the second quarter on a 3rd-and-10 in the red zone.
— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) September 8, 2019
To say they need to rebound is an understatement or else the Giants will have the worst pass defense in the NFL this season.
2) THE MISMANAGEMENT OF SAQUON BARKLEY
Opening day of the season in a divisional game against an opponent that is the overwhelming favorite usually means that an underdog is going to lean heavily on their best player.
For the Giants, that best player — without a doubt — is Saquon Barkley.
The second-year running back is going to be the engine that fuels New York’s offense this season, much like he did last year during a sterling rookie campaign.
During their opening drive, head coach Pat Shurmur went to Barkley who proceeded to punch the Cowboys in the mouth. He reeled off a 59-yard run to accentuate a seven-play, 91-yard drive that ended with an Evan Engram touchdown catch.
.@Saquon being Saquon
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— NFL (@NFL) September 8, 2019
Barkley had 74 of those yards on that drive (66 rushing, eight receiving), a clear indication that the Cowboys weren’t going to be able to stop him.
And then Shurmur decided to just abandon Barkley.
For the rest of the game, Barkley had just nine more rushing attempts and three receptions for a grand total of 15 touches on the evening.
On 11 carries, Barkley put up 120 yards (10.9 yards per rush). That’s averaging more than a first down every time Shurmur decided to call a running play.
And yet you only give him the ball 11 times?
I get it, the Giants were playing from behind most of the day, but when it’s a one or two-possession game during the first half, Barkley needs to be the bellcow.
This isn’t anything new though when it comes to Shurmur and his blatant hesitancy of running the Giants offense through Barkley.
The 22-year-old carried the ball at least 20 times on just four occasions last season. The Giants were 3-1 in those games.
They were 2-10 when Barkley had less than 20.
I’m not saying that’s the sole reason why they lost those games, but you have a game-changer in your backfield that isn’t getting the ball enough.