The Giants start the 2019 season trying to fill many holes on the offensive side of the ball since Big Blue are down two talented receivers Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard.
Earlier in the week the NFL denied Tate’s appeal of his suspension for violating the league’s performance-substance policy, and Sterling Shepard is dealing with a nagging thumb injury, so the receivers core of Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler, and T.J. Jones got extensive playing time in the Giants’ 32-13 win over the Chicago Bears on Friday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Latimer led the way with two receptions for 60 yards. Duke’s Daniel Jones went 3-for-4 on his targets for 32 yards with one touchdown. Fowler caught both passes thrown to him for 25 yards and one touchdown. Jones looked comfortable throwing down the field but needs to adjust to the actual speed of NFL linemen and he will as he gets more reps.
Giants played very well on the defensive of the ball however, the Big Blue know if they want to be contenders in the Eastern Conference, they will have to be better in their gap assignments and be able to apply pressure on the opposing quarterbacks on a consistent basis.
Outside linebacker Markus Golden came up huge in the second quarter, blowing past tight end Bradley Sowell for an 8-yard sack of Chase Daniel. Golden had 12.5 sacks for Arizona in 2016, but a knee injury slowed down his production.
The same quarter, defensive end Olsen Pierre — a player the Giants signed in an offseason acquisition — dropped Daniel for a 12-yard loss. Lorenzo Carter, the outside linebacker for Big Blue is hoping for a breakthrough second season and if he continues playing the way he is now the future looks very bright for the talented linebacker.
Rookie Oshane Ximines joined in on the sack party, getting his first sack of the preseason when he tripped up Daniel for a 5-yard loss.
“We were a little more disruptive, which was good,’’ coach Pat Shurmur said.
With Saquon Barkley sitting out for the preseason schedule and Wayne Gallman nursing an ankle injury, the bulk of the work is left for Paul Perkins, Rod Smith, and hometown favorite Jon Hilliman.
Jon Hilliman an undrafted running back out of Rutgers was the workhorse of the backfield with 16 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown for the Giants. Hilliman looked good for Big Blue slashing up the field for yards after contact.
“It’s kind of surreal, I grew up a Giants fan, so I vividly remember skipping school and going to the Giants parade when they won the Super Bowl and things like that. So, being able to score with the Giants’ logo on my helmet, it hasn’t really hit me yet. I hope it doesn’t hit me so I just continue to build and keep going. But definitely a special moment.” Hilliman said following the game.
Hilliman’s touchdown came in the third quarter, and he got most of the work with 22 yards on the drive. On first-and-goal from the Chicago’ 10, Hilliman plowed through traffic into the end zone for his first NFL preseason touchdown.
“We have a lot of guys who have been working hard, who were here last year and have played well for us,” Eli Manning said at halftime, regarding the various receivers he threw to. “We’ll get Cody, Bennie, Golden and Rhett [Ellison] going. When we get Saquon [Barkley] in there, we’ll have him. We have a lot of guys that we have great confidence in that can get open. We’ll spread it around and just throw it to the open guy.”
From the Giants’ first drive of the game, the offense was clicking by Manning’s accurate pass to Latimer for a 20-yard gain, the Bears were overmatched by Big Blue offense on the drive who started their second-string defense but had some holes. Manning found Fowler for the first touchdown of the night, an 8-yard dart that sought the 28-year-old receiver to display his quickness on his second touchdown of the preseason.
Fowler showed he is a force to reckon with during rookie quarterback Daniel Jones’ first drive of the night, cradling a sharp pass from the 20 for a 17-yard gain. Two plays later, Jones hit Latimer for 40 yards. But a fumble by Jones ended the drive.
The Giants’ second touchdown can be primarily credited to Jones-Jones being in sync, with the rookie quarterback finding the receiver three times for 32 yards on the second-quarter touchdown drive. In back-to-back plays starting at the Bears 23, the rookie quarterback first found T.J. Jones on first-and-10 for 8 yards before hitting him again for 15 yards into the end zone to extend the Giants’ lead to 19-3.
Running back Paul Perkins also caught both of his targets for 30 yards while Tate caught 1-of-2 passes for 5 yards.
“I’ve said it all along, it’s going to take a village. To their credit, the veterans may win the day here, these guys that know how to play. And they’re smart. I like them and trust them, and the crux of it all is I think they’re a bunch of tough guys”. Giants coach Pat Shurmur said.