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New York Giants Vs. Buffalo Bills: Hall of Fame Game Analysis

August 5th, 2014 at 3:00 PM
By Dan Benton

Football finally returned on Sunday night as the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills opened the 2014 season with the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game. The pregame festivities were worth writing home about, while the game itself was played much cleaner than you might expect for the first of the season. In the end, Big Blue game out on top 17-13.

"I thought all of that went well. I thought that the plays were coming in, I thought that we did a good job at the line of scrimmage making checks and making calls and getting to the right plays. Everybody was on the same page so I thought that all of those things went well. We’ve got to get better in some areas and improvements but watching the first game film will be great to study and to learn from and make corrections. It’s always at a different speed, a different pace when you get into a real game rather than practice, what we’ve been doing these past few weeks," quarterback Eli Manning said.

Key to Victory: Strong ground game.

From Rashad Jenning to Andre Williams and Peyton Hillis to Michael Cox (despite the numbers), each Giants running back flashed at least some skill on Sunday night. Andre Williams obviously led the way with his impressive performance, but each player had at least one shining moment of their own. Rashad Jennings showed by the Giants targeted him in free agency, while Peyton Hillis and Michael Cox each made the case for themselves on the 53-man roster.

There was power and speed up and down the running back depth chart, but they got an assist courtesy of solid run blocking by both the offensive line and fullbacks — most specifically, Henry Hynoski, who looked like a mauler out there.

"I think we have some talented guys at that spot," head coach Tom Coughlin said last week. "I think Rashad has done well. I think the young kid (Williams) has come along the more we have given him to do. Michael Cox has had his spots.

It's only the first game, of course, but it's a solid start.

GAME POSITIVES:

  • Running back Andre Williams – The rookie made quite an impact on Sunday tonight, displaying the exact skills that led to him leading the NCAA in rushing a season ago. He's a strong North-South running with a little speed. He follows his blocks, hits his gaps and has enough patience to wait as holes open up.
  • Cornerback Zack Bowman – With all the talk about Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond III — who each played well in their own right — Bowman really stood out on Sunday night. He looked good in coverage, appears to be a strong tackler and led the team with two passes defensed.
  • Defensive end Damontre Moore – After getting a pregame prep talk from Michael Strahan, who has been working with him privately, Moore recorded his first NFL sack early in the game. He appeared very active, around the ball and in on a number players. His development and growth will remain key for the Giants. So far, so good.
  • Fullback Henry Hynoski – Hynoski may have had the best game of any player on the team if you were able to weigh performance on a position-by-position basis. He looked comfortable, healthy and like a mauler. He was burying defenders and opening huge holes for all the running backs.
  • Wide receivers Marcus Harris and Corey Washington – Both Harris and Washington really opened eyes on Sunday night. While Harris led the team with four receptions on six targets (impressed with YAC), Washington had the big play with a 73-yard touchdown in which he out-leaped a defender for an under-thrown ball and then took it in for a touchdown. Both make an early case for themselves at WR.
  • Quarterback Ryan Nassib – Nassib received the most snaps of any quarterback and after a slightly shaky start, made each of them worth while. In perhaps his best showing (in either practice or a game) since being drafted a year ago, Nassib completed seven of his 12 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. The West Coast-style offense Ben McAdoo brought with him clearly is a better fit for Nassib.
  • Punter Steve Weatherford – Ignoring the blocked punt as a result of a missed block, Weatherford showed why he has no training camp/preseason competition. He averaged 46.0 yards per punt on the night, pinned two inside the 20 and was one bounce away from pinning a third down there. His first punt of the game was the most impressive, as he handled a bad snap and boomed it 58 yards downfield.

GAME NEGATIVES:

  • Cornerback Jayron Hosley – Already facing a four-game suspension to start the 2014 regular season, Hosley needs a strong camp and preseason in order to justify waiting for. Things did not get off to a strong start on Sunday night, as Hosley struggled in coverage, missed a few tackles and was called for defensive holding twice. Receivers caught four of five passes thrown his way, including one for a touchdown.
  • Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul – JPP was essentially shutout on Sunday night, and was also beaten time and time again by rookie Seantrel Henderson in one-on-one situation. The Giants are going to need a lot more out of him if they want to find success in 2014.
  • Fullback John Conner – Conner seemed out of sorts. He did have one solid run, but he also missed several blocks and looked like a guy who was just out of place. Uncharacteristic of the veterans and perhaps nothing more than an early preseason anomaly.

PLAYER OF THE GAMERB Andre Williams

Williams kicked off his NFL career with an impressive performance against the Bills, gaining 48 yards and a touchdown on sever carried. He led the team in yards rushing, rushing touchdowns, longest run and yards per attempt (excluding John Conner's one seven-yard run).

"I thought he played well. That was encouraging," head coach Tom Coughlin said after the game.

Game Balls:

RB Andre Williams, WR Corey Washington, WR Marcus Harris, CB Zack Bowman, P Steve Weatherford

OVERALL PERFORMANCE GRADE:

All things considered, the Giants looked pretty good on Sunday night. Sure, there were some mistakes, hiccups, a little confusion early on, but all of that was to be expected. With a brand new offense being implemented, the fact that Eli Manning & Co. didn't completely embarrass themselves is a real positive.

Depth on both offense and defense held up, the running game looked powerful, the offensive line appears to be coming together and, overall, there were a lot more positives than there were negatives. Still, there's a lot to be refined — especially on offense. But if Sunday's 17-13 win is any indication — and the team can stay healthy — it's easy to see why so many players are excited about the 2014 season. There's a lot of talent on the Giants' roster.

Grade: C+

Also…

Seeing your team play in the SuperBowl is priceless. Watching the SuperBowl live in the stands for $1 per week is beyond priceless. Find out how at TicketScore.com, the future of Championship Tickets. Tags: Andre Williams, Corey Washington, Damontre Moore, Football, Henry Hynoski, Jason Pierre-Paul, Jayron Hosley, John Conner, Marcus Harris, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Ryan Nassib, Steve Weatherford, Zack Bowman

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21 Responses to “New York Giants Vs. Buffalo Bills: Hall of Fame Game Analysis”

  1.  GOAT56 says:

    Repost:

    I’m at least co-president of the no FB fan club but I think the chances of that went way down when Wilson got injured. The point of no FBs was to keep our RB talent. Without Wilson there’s at most 4 RBs we need to keep which leaves room for a FB. Plus I thought Hillis looked bad and not really worth a roster spot just the way he moved.

    Washington has been flashing from practice reports but because he’s really a nobody (even draft guys never heard of the kid) we didn’t pay full attention until he made the same type of play in the game. Nassib under threw the ball and the kid made a play. He has the size we lack and TC likes his special teams play. He’s at least 50% chance to be on roster to me. And I do get some Victor Cruz flashbacks the way this kid has come out of nowhere.

    •  BigBlueGiant says:

      i’d rather keep one TE, One FB, and keep Washington.

      •  GOAT56 says:

        We can keep 4 RBs, 1 FB, 3 TEs and 6 WRs. I think Washington along with Harris, Parker and maybe even Talley are in competition with Holiday and Manningham for the last 1-2 WR spots. Right now out of that group of players I most want to keep Washington.

        •  BigBlueGiant says:

          Holliday is a goner, IMO.

          No need to keep 3 TE’s i’d rather have the extra secondary and DL.

          •  GOAT56 says:

            If you don’t trust the TEs you need depth. It’s like why we kept 3 QBs. And there are plenty of 2 TE sets. I think we might only carry 8 OL. Or I could see only 3 RBs or 5 LBs.

  2.  michael says:

    Nassib obviously has confidence in Marcus Harris, his most frequent target. You would expect him to look for Manningham a veteran, but maybe do a lack of practice time he doesn’t feel confidence in Mario yet. I would not rule Mario out yet.

  3.  fanfor55years says:

    As someone who didn’t see the game, I have to say “thank you” to Dan for the very good piece.

    It sounds like two young receivers have come out of the woodwork, which will be VERY good news if they keep it up. It also sounds like the offensive line didn’t do badly, especially given the fact that it was the very first game they’ve played together and the starting left tackle was unavailable.

    I’ve been beating the drum for this ground game since they drafted Williams and I continue to believe that it can become the key to the offense. I think defenses will have to bring safeties into the box, and once they do, Eli should be able to kill them with play action and much easier reads than was the case in past seasons under Gilbride. I’m quite confident about this IF the injury bug doesn’t bite and IF the tight ends play “adequately” (by which I mean lower than NFL-average but well enough to be at least useful and force defensive coordinators to account for them and a safety and/or linebacker to be assigned to one of them on most plays, and to be able to make at least a glancing block on their assignment when they run the ball).

    I don’t care if JPP has a single sack in preseason. What I’ll be looking for from him is quickness off the snap and adequate play against the run. If he has both he’ll be just fine this season. He’s not going to go all-out initially and probably figures he should save some moves for when it counts.

    I have heard nothing about how McClain and Williams and Kennard played. After hearing all the hosannas about the rookie I figured he’d play pretty decently against the Bills. And how about Fox and Herzlich? Anything much from them?

    Lastly, how about everyone’s favorite, James Brewer? Did he embarrass himself or did he hold the fort?

    •  BigBlueGiant says:

      the thing about JPP is that he didn’t look quick out of his stance at all. He actually looked to have given up on some plays as well when he couldn’t get past the rookie in Seantral Henderson who was a 7th round pick. Yeah, exactly. JPP couldn’t move back a 7th rounder.

    • Dan BentonDan Benton says:

      Honestly don’t recall noticing Fox. Herzlich looked like Herzlich and Kennard didn’t call attention to himself (nothing too bad, nothing too good) — although I do recall him not quitting on a play and chasing it down deep into the secondary.

      Defense as a whole played well.

  4.  michael says:

    I thought Mike Cox looked good when the line bothered to block for him. He also caught a nice screen pass, something he did very well in last years preseason.
    I betting the real deciding factor in playing time will be who can pass block again. Hillis may be #2 right now, but it looks goal line carries will go to Williams, I guess with Caughlin that’s pretty good for a rookie.

    • Dan BentonDan Benton says:

      Agreed (re: Cox). His stat line looks terrible, but that was through absolutely no fault of his own. At least twice (thrice, even?) he was met by multiple defenders the literal moment he touched the ball.

  5.  LUZZ says:

    55- to answer your earlier question. Washington didn’t really catch the ball high, but the reason was because Nassib under-threw it. But he did go after the ball and catch it with his hands as opposed to letting the ball find him, which I think is what you are trying to figure out. He made a nice play on the ball.

    First post in months, but I’ve been reading all off season, daily. Thanks to Dan for keeping this site around. Thanks to the posters for keeping it interesting.

    •  fanfor55years says:

      Thanks. That’s exactly what I was curious about.

      Sounds like we may have an exciting group of receivers deep on the depth chart.

      I figure Holliday is a goner. Cruz, Randle, Beckham, Jernigan, Manningham (if he fully recovers, otherwise he may wind up on IR again), Washington, and Harris? That’s one too many. Going to be an intense competition all the way to the last cut-down day.

  6.  LUZZ says:

    Quick note to Norm regarding your dad. Bedside care for a loved one, for any extended period of time is agonizing to say the least. It takes a lot, love, patience, humility, resiliency, and most of all courage. It sounds like you showed a lot of guts through those months. I hope you will always be able to look back on those agonizing days and know that you did the right thing for your dad, and I hope that helps to bring you comfort as the years go on.

  7.  turkish says:

    Odell Beckham vs Brandin Cooks. Still think Cooks has the better career. Would have been the better fit IMHO. We shall see.

  8.  fanfor55years says:

    So a defensive backfield of DRC, Prince, Thurmond, Bowman and James or McBride (with Hosley available after Week 4 if needed) at corner and Rolle, Brown, Demps, and Taylor at safety (with Berhe to the practice squad)?

    Can you imagine if that moron Hill was still here? Wow! As it is I just don’t see a better defensive backfield in the league. And it isn’t even close in the Division.

    •  BigBlueGiant says:

      slow the roll… Let’s see how they play against a good passing game. Nothing worse than being paper champs.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      I think Behre makes it. To me he’s this year’s Cooper, he’s worth too much going forward to risk him on PS. He and Cooper are the only safeties under contract for next year. Plus Behre seems like a natural on special teams if he’s active.

  9.  James Stoll says:

    I thought the LBs looked respectable overall with Williams perhaps being the most active. too bad he dropped that easy pick.
    As has been commented upon, the DTs looked pretty strong to a man; the DE’s more pedestrian than superb.

    I did not see anything out of Hillis or Cox that got me excited. Williams, however, was another story. Aside from wearing Bradshaw’s number, he looked like a bigger, faster, stronger Bradshaw with a touch (dare I say it) of Tiki-vision. He was by far the most exciting player on the field.
    I’ll go so far as to say he will supplant Jennings as the No 1 back before the end of the season IF he stays healthy, and IF he doesn’t fumble early on, and IF he doesn’t miss a pass blocking opportunity, and IF Coughlin remembers what Mara said at the close of last season about not moth-balling rookies.

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