Football is finally back people! It’s only preseason but there is just something about watching the helmets and pads cracking on my television that makes me smile. The New York Giants and Buffalo Bills opened the preseason in the Hall of Fame Game with the Giants getting a 17 – 13 win. Both teams struggled last season and are looking to rebound in 2015. So what did we learn from last night’s game and what can we take away from it?
1. Giants’ Offensive Line is Shaky – The Giants’ offensive line, though revamped, still has a lot of work to do. The running game was stuffed early on and QB Eli Manning was hurried and even pressured for a fumble. The Giants are undoubtedly getting used to a new offense under Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo. The starters had a rough go early on but looked to settle down with some good run blocking on a drive that saw rookie Andre Williams squeak in a TD.
It will be interesting to see if the Giants’ offensive line can progressively get better with every preseason game. That will be a true indicator as to how the Giants’ season will go. If they stay at the pace they’re on now it’ll be a long season like 2013.
2. The Bills will go deep – The Bills cemented my assumption that they are going to go try and lengthen the field. Early on their first possession, they tried to go deep to their first round draft pick WR Sammy Watkins. And Watkins had his man and the over the top safety help beat down the sidelines. If QB EJ Manuel and Watkins can get in sync they’re going to be a dangerous deep threat team while opening things up for their running game of CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson.
3. Rookie RB Andre Williams will get touches – The Giants snagged RB Rashad Jennings in the offseason as an insurance policy for RB David Wilson. Now, with Wilson’s career in jeopardy with another neck injury, the Giants look like they made a wise decision in drafting Heisman finalist Andre Williams out of Boston College.
Jennings had a rough go early on against the Bills getting stuffed on almost every play. Williams came in and found some cutback holes, helping the Giants take the lead to end the first quarter. Williams had a really nice cutback that saw a 21 yard scamper to set the Giants up in the redzone; which Williams ultimately scored from 3 yards out.
Jennings is going to be the presumable starter but Williams is certainly going to see touches and opportunities in this offense. He doesn’t have the best hands but his straight-ahead running style is what the Giants like and he could see a lot of goal line opportunities. That might make him a nice value pick in late rounds as a flex option.
4. Bills’ running game still a timeshare – The Bills seem to be taking the same approach at the RB position, alternating series between CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson. I can’t say I blame them either. Both are different styles and the speed(Spiller)/bulldog(Jackson) transition is a nice change of pace. Spiller will get the starts and touches as he is the more versatile back but Jackson will still get 10-15 touches per game as he still shows he can power ahead. Jackson will still be valuable as a flex option as he’ll probably vulture a lot of goal line touches from Spiller.
5. Giants counting on Jernigan at WR – It looks like the Giants are counting on Jerrel Jernigan to step up this season at WR. He was out there with the first team and was targeted three times early by Eli Manning. Jernigan ended up with 2 receptions for 13 yards on 3 targets. I think the Giants want to get Jernigan some confidence and reps with Manning this preseason and are looking to him to take Hakeem Nicks’ spot outside Victor Cruz in the slot. Jernigan could end up being a nice late round pick in your fantasy draft if he can finally show his upside this preseason. Others to keep an eye on for the Giants at WR are Rueben Randle and rookie Odell Beckham Jr.
6. Bills’ passing game should flourish – As we mentioned Sammy Watkins earlier as a deep threat, the Bills look pretty solid at WR with Robert Woods and Mike Williams. QB EJ Manuel has no excuses. He is surrounded by offensive weapons. Woods and Williams should benefit with the deep threat of Sammy Watkins, which they lacked last season. Teams might be inclined to play more zone against the Bills. If that happens, Woods and Williams will find open spots against the zone and less press coverage. Both of these guys could be nice waiver pickups in the early weeks so keep an eye on them.