Tiki Barber was blunt when assessing the Giants’ season opener with Moose and Maggie on Wednesday afternoon.
New York, in a 27-13 loss, showed many of the same problems that plagued them during last year’s six-win campaign, and things will need to be cleaned up in a hurry if the team wants to compete for a playoff spot this year.
“The right side of that line was bad,” Barber said. “Will Hernandez missed a couple easy push blocks, was lunging, and left no room for Saquon [Barkley] or [Devontae] Booker trying to run the football.”
Daniel Jones, criticized for his excessive turnovers over his first two seasons in New York, committed another turnover on Sunday, though Barber doesn’t place that solely on the young quarterback. Rather, it’s a product of the Giants’ bigger issues with the offense as a whole, which had little fluidity or freedom in Week 1.
“It felt like they got conservative,” Barber said. “I know people are gonna focus on Daniel Jones’ fumble…but he was just trying to make a play. I almost don’t fault him for trying to be a catalyst for the offense.”
The fumble for Jones came in the red zone, and was his 30th in 32 career games, a brutal number for a quarterback expected to be the team’s long-term answer. But in addition to Jones and the offensive line’s struggles, two returning narratives from last season, Barber expressed more concern with the defense, a strength of last year’s group that showed some signs of regression against Denver’s passing attack.
“I knew the offense was gonna struggle a little bit…but defensively, I was surprised at how undisciplined…I wouldn’t say bad, but some undisciplined shots,” Barber said. “You see Terry Bridgewater taking seam after seam, and they’re a little bit late in rotating in getting to the right spots. It felt like whatever Teddy wanted to do, he could do.”
Still, the defense figures to be an issue that can be addressed quickly, given its previous success. The offense, the far greater concern heading into the season, is what is likely the more pressing issue, as Sunday’s performance over the course of a season would lead to a very long year, and plenty of questions thrown towards offensive coordinator Jason Garrett’s job security.
“I won’t say it’s a Garrett problem,” Barber said. “I like Jason Garrett, I think he’s got a good mind for offense. I think he feels constrained. Maybe there’s things he wants to be able to do., but they haven’t repped it enough. If you throw things that these guys haven’t repped, the likelihood of success is small…ultimately, it will fall on Jason Garrett, but it’s not Garrett’s fault.”
Of course, it’s still just one game into the season, and there is plenty of time to improve. But Sunday was hardly a source of inspiration that the problems which plagued the team last year have been addressed.
“It’s one game,” Barber said. “They learned what they need to correct, and I’m still optimistic, but I need to see something better on Thursday night.”
Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1