Giants vs. Cowboys final score, takeaways: Dallas harasses Eli Manning, Giants look headed for another top pick
The Cowboys get their first win of the season while the Giants fall to 0-2
It's easy to just throw up your arms and blame it all on Eli. And he's not without fault. But the reality is that all of the Giants' offseason efforts to fix one of the NFL's worst offensive lines -- signing Nate Solder and Patrick Omameh, moving former top-10 pick Ereck Flowers from left to right tackle, using a second-round pick on guard Will Hernandez -- have failed miserably.
The latest manifestation of that was on full display Sunday night when Eli Manning spent his evening getting blasted in the backfield and short-hopping passes, and the Giants were outclassed by a Cowboys team that came into the game with just as many questions. The final score: 20-13. But this was about a runaway win as you'll see in a one-score game.
Eli or the offensive line is Giants' chicken or egg problem
Here's something you probably didn't know: For as terrible as the Giants were a season ago, and for as much grief as the offensive line took during that forgettable 3-13 campaign, the unit ranked 15th in run blocking and was 10th in pass blocking, according to Football Outsiders' metrics. That's better than replacement-level, something you couldn't say generally about this team in 2017.
But the unit has been a disaster through two weeks, and no one play exemplified that like than the decision to let Cowboys linebacker Damien Wilson run wild through the offensive line untouched on this third-quarter strip-sack:
It got slightly better on the next drive ... before it got immeasurably worse. Giants starting center Jon Halapio left the field on a cart after suffering a leg injury, and on third-and-goal, Manning, perpetually panicked on passing downs, missed a wide open Saquon Barkley in the back of the end zone and a beat later, was rocked by Jaylon Smith:
Manning and the O-line are like that couple you know who are tolerable separately, but as soon as they're together they bring out the worst in each other.
Put another way: It's not clear that Manning will magically be something other than an average quarterback unable to make up for an inconsistent offensive line and take advantage of weapons like Odell Beckham Jr., Evan Engram and Barkley.
There's no easy solution here, either; the Giants passed on Sam Darnold in the draft to take Barkley, who looks like he could be really special. But a team without a franchise quarterback is a team that isn't winning many games. Since 2013, the Giants have one winning season, in 2016 when they lost in the wild-card round.
As for those aforementioned playmakers, Beckham finished with four catches for 51 yards; Barkley had 11 rushes for 28 yards and 14 catches for 79 yards; and Engram managed six catches for 59 yards, including a garbage-time touchdown:
And the offensive line, which gave up two sacks last week against the Jaguars, saw Manning go down six times on Sunday night.
Cowboys' offense starts fast, defense gets after it
We'll be honest, we had no idea what the Cowboys were doing this offseason when they seemed unconcerned about the lack of downfield playmakers. But the team insisted that Allen Hurns and Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley would be able to handle the workload, and oh by the way, former Rams first-round bust Tavon Austin, traded to the Cowboys in April, would finally find his form in Dallas. Austin didn't log a catch in the season opener but Dak Prescott wasted little time getting him involved against the Giants.
This was the third play of the game:
A few things: The Cowboys didn't even attempt a deep pass in last week's game against the Panthers, and of the four Prescott passes that have gone for at least 60 yards in his career, the one to Austin was the first to travel more than seven yards from the line of scrimmage.
And this is where we point out that the Giants' defense is a disaster too. James Bettcher was hired as defensive coordinator this offseason, and his aggressive style was supposed to get this unit back on track. Instead, they were on their heels most of the night, struggling to get to Prescott (he wasn't sacked once) or do anything to slow up the rushing attack, which averaged 5.8 yards per carry (Ezekiel Elliott had 78 yards on 17 carries, Prescott added 46 more on six carries).
Set up this:
Those two plays served as a microcosm of the defense's night as much as Smith plastering Manning was a CliffsNotes version of the offense's ineptitude.
It can't get worse, right?
This is not good:
B.W. Webb's hair might be one of the highlights of the night for the Giants:
And save this because we're guessing you'll need it, probably as soon as next week: The Evergreen Eli Face.
Giants 2019 draft watch
Because you can never look too far ahead with this team.:
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon. If Week 1's performance was any indication, improving the offense around Eli Manning didn't suddenly solve the problem of ... Eli Manning. Granted, New York's offensive line struggled against the Jaguars, but the Giants take the next logical step in the 2019 draft by taking their next franchise quarterback.
After passing on Darnold, it's hard to imagine the Giants don't seriously consider taking a franchise quarterback next offseason. Something else to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
The Giants (0-2) travel to Houston to face the Texans (0-2). This is where we note that in the preseason we picked both teams to win their respective divisions. As it stands, this holds only in The Upside Down. The Cowboys (1-1), meanwhile, travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks (0-1).
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