By Brad Carroll
The New York Giants didn't alleviate any concerns over what was a troubling preseason during their season-opening, 35-14, loss to the Detroit Lions Monday night. In fact, the concerns now include the entire roster, not just what was a severely under-performing offense during the exhibition schedule.
The offense was on the verge of inept, not reaching 200 total yards and turning the ball over twice. But the defense was even worse, allowing 417 total yards, including 346 through the air, despite the Giants having a rebuilt secondary. And, yes, even the special teams was bad.
[Giants put together 'nightmare' performance against Lions]
It all added up to a complete beatdown on national television. Here are the players who deserve to be called out for their terrible play, and even those who might be rewarded for solid work, in our Game Balls and Game Falls feature. We start with the bad.
Eli Manning: It starts and ends with the quarterback. Manning was just as bad as he was in the preseason and he was just as bad as he was last season, when he was a turnover machine. He completed just 18-of-33 passes for 163 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He didn't have great protection from his porous offense line, but Manning has continued to turn the ball over at an alarming rate. He led the league in interceptions last year with 27 and is on his way to doing the same again this year. Manning might not have a talented group of receivers to throw to, but the interceptions are on him.
Offensive Line: The Detroit Lions hit Manning a whopping nine times in the game and sacked him twice, an obvious indictment on the offensive line. The Giants managed just 53 rushing yards on 22 carries, a 2.4 yard per carry average. Simply said, the offensive line needs a ton of work. Will Beatty, who plays the most important position on the line at left tackle, is horrible. Weston Richburg, J.D. Walton, Brandon Mosley and Justin Pugh aren't much better.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: One of the big players added in free agency this offseason, Rodgers-Cromartie was supposed to be a lock-down corner for the Giants. In his debut, Rodgers-Cromartie allowed Calvin Johnson to run wild on offense, catching seven passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson hooked up with Matthew Stafford for a 67-yard touchdown less than three minutes into the game. Rodgers-Cromartie was supposed to cover Megatron all game long. It's not hard to see who won that matchup.
Jason Pierre-Paul: JPP talked a big game about how good the Giants were going to be this season, but all that chirping equaled just four tackles and little impact on the game. Pierre-Paul injured his neck in the first five minutes and left the field to get an X-ray. He returned in the second quarter, but didn't get close to the quarterback.
Rueben Randle: The Giants let Hakeem Nicks leave via free agency for a number of reasons, but the main one was having Randle waiting in the wings to take over his role in the starting lineup. That could have been yet another mistake the Giants have made in building this team. Randle caught two passes for just one yard against Detroit. Nicks had five catches for 36 yards and a touchdown for the Colts Sunday night. It's not a fair comparison, but the facts are the facts.
Larry Donnell: The Giants unknown tight end was one of the very few bright spots in the loss. Donnell had a team-high five catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. He gave Manning a red zone target on a one-yard scoring play that cut the Lions lead at the time to 14-7 early in the second quarter.
Johnathan Hankins: The second-year player had five tackles, four solo, on the defensive line for the Giants. The Giants defensive line as a whole held the Lions to 76 yards rushing on 30 carries, a 2.5 yard per carry average, a positive in a game full of negatives.