Shurmur hasn’t provided quick fix for Giants offense
By Tom Canavan
AP Sports Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The additions of new coach Pat Shurmur and No. 2 overall draft pick Saquon Barkley didn’t provide a quick fix for the New York Giants’ offense.
The 20-10 loss to the Cleveland Brown in the preseason opener Thursday night at MetLife Stadium was somewhat disappointing, at least based on the statistics.
The offense generated 10 points, with the lone touchdown being set up in the third quarter by a recovery of a fumbled punt at the Browns 14 by Zak DeOssie. Aldrick Rosas’ 42-yard field goal on the opening drive was ignited by a 39-yard run by Barkley on the first play from scrimmage. The drive was kept alive by an unsportsmanlike penalty on Cleveland rookie Denzel Ward after a third-down incompletion.
Despite gaining 310 yards, including 134 rushing, the offense didn’t make enough plays. It was 4 of 17 on third downs. The quarterbacks were 22 of 45 for 193 yards. No drive lasted longer than eight plays.
There are excuses. Coming off ankle surgery, star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. didn’t play. Tight end Evan Engram was not targeted. Eli Manning played two series and Barkley had five carries for 43 yards.
It should get better, but it didn’t look good in the preseason opener. It was much like 2017 when New York scored 246 points, its fewest since 2003.
Shurmur said Friday the quarterbacks need to complete more passes to create more manageable third-downs. He said he was not concerned with most of the runs averaging roughly 2.4 yards because there were explosive plays that gained more than 10 yards.
“We didn’t score enough points,” said Shurmur, who was the offensive coordinator of the Vikings’ high-powered offense last season before being named to replace Ben McAdoo. “That’s always what I would point to, but there are reasons for that in preseason games. Yeah, you want to score more points than your opponent, but you can dive into statistics like you did sometimes, and make it sound like you won.”
The revamped offensive line, led by free agent acquisition Nate Solder at left tackle, was on the field for two series. It opened a hole Barkley’s big run, but there was a communication breakdown on the second series that led to a third-down sack of Manning (4 of 7 for 26 yards).
“There’s always going to be a lot to improve on,” Manning said. “That’s why you play the preseason games. New offense, a lot of new pieces. I think every series, every play is important to learn from. We got to look at the film hard. There’s a lot of places we can improve. Some of it is just making plays, but also just fundamentals, and just make sure we’re doing the little things correctly.”
Backup quarterback Davis Webb struggled, hitting 9 of 22 passes for 70 yards. Many of his passes were just too high.
“I missed far too many, but at the same time I’m going to get better from it,” said last year’s third-round draft pick who didn’t play in a regular season game as a rookie. “I’m not too worried about it. I’m going to learn from it and get better for next week.”
The new 3-4 defense was outstanding against the run, limiting Cleveland to 50 yards on 33 carries. Tyrod Taylor threw a touchdown and No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield had two as the Browns threw for 333 yards.
NOTES: Shurmur said S Darian Thompson sustained a hamstring injury, DL Kristjan Sokoli had an undisclosed knee injury and LB Jordan Williams is in the concussion protocol. … Shurmur said the battle for the safety spot opposite Landon Collins was no clearer.