CLEVELAND — This was supposed to be the big debut. Eli Manning and his new assortment of offensive toys, all on the field at the same time. Last season’s scoring woes would be vanquished by a flurry of offseason moves.
So how did it work out?
Five offensive series, 24 plays, five first downs and a field goal. And a 10-6 loss to the Browns on Monday night.
In other words, not good. Again.
“A couple of throws we missed that could have been the difference,” Manning said of a deep incompletion to Brandon Marshall and a few passes to Sterling Shepard that resulted in bad things (one dropped in traffic, another caught but fumbled away). “Little things like that where we have to make the plays.”
There seemed to be more to it than that, however. The Giants ran for only 29 yards in the first half, a total that included a 16-yard run by starter Paul Perkins. Perkins had five other carries for minus-6 yards.
The Giants had one good drive in the second half when Geno Smith pushed them 61 yards to the Browns’ 5. They seemed poised to score their first touchdown of the preseason, but Smith threw an interception to give the ball back to Cleveland. It was one of three Giants turnovers.
“The disregard for the ball was disappointing,” Ben McAdoo said. “We need to take care of the ball. If we don’t take care of the ball and we give up 10 points, we lose the ballgame. Let’s not do that. It doesn’t matter what season it is: regular season, preseason, postseason.”
The fact of the matter is it is the preseason. The game plan is bland, the Giants experimented with different blocking schemes that obviously did not work, and the players are just getting used to each other. “I don’t know how many more times I can say that it’s the preseason, but it is the preseason,” guard Justin Pugh said. “I still expected us to be better tonight than we were.”
The starters with Manning will have one more chance to get it together. They’ll play most of Saturday’s game against the Jets, and Manning likely will sit out the fourth preseason game.
“Obviously, the next one is the biggest test,” Pugh said. “It’s a short turnaround, which is probably a good thing. We can flush this one and get ready to go.”