SNY NFL Insider

Ralph Vacchiano

Ralph Vacchiano, award-winning sports reporter and columnist, joined SNY in 2016 as its NFL Insider. Vacchiano will cover the Giants and Jets beats for SNY.tv and be a regular contributor to "Daily News Live" and "GEICO SportsNite." Vacchiano comes to SNY following 15 years as the New York Giants beat writer and columnist for the New York Daily News.

 

Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, Vacchiano graduated from Syracuse University in 1991 and began his professional career covering the Buffalo Bills for the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and later covered the Giants and Jets for the North Jersey Herald & News in Passaic, N.J.. During his 19 years at the Daily News, he also covered the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils (1997-2001), and in 2008 he wrote his first book, Eli Manning: The Making of a Quarterback (Skyhorse Publishing).

 

Vacchiano lives with his wife, Kara, and his daughter, Alexandra, in West Caldwell, N.J.

New York Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa fumbles the ball in the second quarter after a hit by Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard at MetLife Stadium. (Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa fumbles the ball in the second quarter after a hit by Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard at MetLife Stadium. (Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Quincy Enunwa had developed into Sam Darnold's most reliable receiver early in the season. He was the player Darnold threw to the most and turned to when he needed a third-down catch.

So what is Darnold going to do without Enunwa, who suffered a high-ankle sprain and will probably be out for about a month?

Tags: Quincy Enunwa, Sam Darnold, Terrelle Pryor, Ralph Vacchiano
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Sep 30, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) scrambles during the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports (Douglas DeFelice)
Sep 30, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) scrambles during the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports (Douglas DeFelice)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: Six weeks into the season, all four of the rookie quarterbacks taken in the Top 10 of the NFL draft have at least three starts on their resume. They've had a chance to get rid of their first-game jitters, or to catch the NFL by surprise, and they're starting to settle in to their rookie seasons.

It will take years, of course, to determine which of the four is the best. It might even take that long for one of them to lead a team to the playoffs. But now that they've all settled down, it's easy to determine which ones are off to the best start.

Here's a look -- and a ranking -- at how the Fab Four are faring so far...

Tags: Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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Oct 14, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets tight end Chris Herndon (89) catches a pass over Indianapolis Colts cornerback Chris Milton (28) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Oct 14, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets tight end Chris Herndon (89) catches a pass over Indianapolis Colts cornerback Chris Milton (28) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The presence of all those Super Bowl III heroes on Sunday wasn't just a celebration of the Jets' greatest achievement, it was a painful reminder of why it's so hard to believe in this year's team. There have been too many years of heartache, too many seasons of disappointment, too many times the rug was pulled out from under everyone's feet.

So when these Jets beat the Indianapolis Colts 42-34 on Sunday, barely hanging on in the end, there were surely a few skeptics who saw the team's obvious flaws. And when Todd Bowles stepped to the podium and said "We're right back in the thick of these things," it's understandable if everyone rolled his or her eyes.

Tags: Darron Lee, Indianapolis Colts, Leonard Williams, Quincy Enunwa, Sam Darnold, Terrelle Pryor, Ralph Vacchiano
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Jets talk 42-34 victory 00:01:09
Jamal Adams, Sam Darnold, Jermaine Kearse, Chris Herndon and Todd Bowles talk about the positives after a huge win over the Colts, 42-34.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - As the Jets celebrated the 50th anniversary of their last Super Bowl championship team, Sam Darnold gave them even more reason to believe that the next one won't be too far off.

The 21-year-old Darnold, in his first real shootout against a top tier NFL quarterback, out-played Andrew Luck on Sunday afternoon. He completed 24 of 30 passes for 280 yards with two touchdowns and one interception to lead the Jets to a 42-27 win over the Indianapolis Colts.

Luck was pretty good too (23 of 43, 301 yards and 4 touchdowns), except for the fact that he threw three interceptions. He also even nearly engineered a second-half comeback but fell an onside kickoff recovery short. But overall, Darnold was the more impressive quarterback for most of the game, after he shook off a shaky start. He did get help from a Jets defense that forced four turnovers, but the running game wasn't nearly as good as it has been...

Tags: Bilal Powell, Buster Skrine, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants quarterbacks Alex Tanney and quarterback Eli Manning look on from the sidelines late during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Giants quarterbacks Alex Tanney and quarterback Eli Manning look on from the sidelines late during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eli Manning isn't ready to give in to the angry mob that has declared his career over. He took a beating on Thursday night, played a terrible game and watched another season slip away before Halloween, but he still knows what he's capable of doing. He's not budging on that at all.

"My confidence in myself is good," Manning said after the Giants' 34-13 loss to the Eagles. "I know I can play."

Tags: Eli Manning, Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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Giants fall to Eagles 00:01:14
Pat Shurmur, Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. comment on the Giants' 34-13 loss to the Eagles, dropping their record to 1-5 on the season.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - On the Giants' first drive of the second quarter, on a 2nd-and-19 from their own 28, Eli Manning checked down - again - to a short pass to Cody Latimer. It was a terrible decision, a useless play, and it gained only five meaningless yards.

And that's when FOX's cameras caught an exasperated Pat Shurmur mouthing the words, "Throw the ball!"

If it wasn't clear before, it was clear then that Shurmur is growing a little frustrated with his embattled quarterback - and he certainly had reason in this game. Manning was atrocious, giving nothing but fuel to his critics, completing 24 of 43 passes for a very deceptive 281 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.

Tags: Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon, Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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Aug 24, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) during pre game warm up at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Aug 24, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) during pre game warm up at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When the Giants took Saquon Barkley with the second pick in the NFL draft, it wasn't just a declaration that they were all-in on Eli Manning, it was their way of punting their search for Manning's successor into the future. They believed that somehow, some way, they'd find their heir apparent somewhere down the line.

It sounded so easy. Of course, don't try telling that to teams like the Jets.

Now maybe the Giants won't need 50 years to find their next franchise quarterback, but now that they have no choice but to begin the search, the truth is it likely won't be easy at all. They learned that the hard way back when they cut Phil Simms after the 1993 season and suffered through Dave Brown, Kent Graham, Danny Kanell and even Tommy Maddox before they lucked into Kerry Collins in 1999.

Tags: Eli Manning, Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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Oct 7, 2018; Charlotte, NC, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) assists running back Saquon Barkley (26) against the Carolina Panthers during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports  (Jim Dedmon)
Oct 7, 2018; Charlotte, NC, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) assists running back Saquon Barkley (26) against the Carolina Panthers during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports (Jim Dedmon)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - If the Giants played in any other division, their 1-4 record would've been enough to kill their season. But the NFC East is somehow keeping the Giants alive.

That's enough to give them some hope to cling to this week, as they prepare to face the defending Super Bowl-champion Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night. Those Eagles are experiencing a Super Bowl hangover at 2-3. They're tied for second with the offensively-challenged Dallas Cowboys, right behind the Washington Redskins, who came off their bye on Monday night to lose in New Orleans, 43-19.

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Eli talks Odell comments 00:00:43
Eli Manning talks about the team's crushing loss to Carolina, and how they are moving on from the latest drama created by Odell Beckham Jr.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eli Manning insisted he hasn't watched Odell Beckham Jr.'s now infamous interview on ESPN, the one with rapper Lil' Wayne sitting by the receiver's side as he offered his quarterback a startling lack of support. And Manning insisted there's a good reason why he hasn't.

"I don't watch Lil' Wayne much," he said.

Tags: Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Ralph Vacchiano
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Shurmur, Odell on Giants drama 00:01:13
Pat Shurmur gets animated about the drama surrounding Odell Beckham Jr, and Odell says he doesn't regret anything he said about the team.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Odell Beckham Jr. said he doesn't know if the Giants have a problem at quarterback, that it's "tough" to say whether he's happy in New York, that the Giants are being "out-schemed" and that his own personal greatness is being held back.

In other words, so much for the more mature Beckham the Giants were counting on when they signed him to that five-year, $95 million contract with $65 million guaranteed a mere six weeks ago.

Tags: Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Ralph Vacchiano
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Jets beat Broncos, 34-16 00:01:22
Sam Darnold, Todd Bowles, Brian Winters and Robby Anderson talk about a big day for the offense, after the Jets beat the Broncos, 34-16.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The development of Sam Darnold took another big step forward on Sunday when the reins were finally taken off of him and the game plan. They allowed him to throw the ball downfield.

And he threw it pretty well.

Overall Darnold was only 10 for 22 for 198 yards in the Jets' 34-16 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday, but he was outstanding on several of his deep passes -- something that had been missing from his game early in the season. The two best were two absolutely perfect touchdown throws to Robby Anderson -- one for 76 yards and another for 33.

Tags: Denver Broncos, Robby Anderson, Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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Sep 30, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) carries the ball past New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams (43) at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Deutsch)
Sep 30, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) carries the ball past New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams (43) at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Deutsch)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

THE GAME

The Giants (1-3) at the Carolina Panthers (2-1) at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Sunday, Oct. 7, at 1 p.m. ET.

THE WEATHER

It will be warm and muggy with temperatures in the mid-80s, and they better play fast because there's a chance for late-day thunderstorms.

WHAT IT MEANS

The game surely means a lot to Giants GM Dave Gettleman, who built this Panthers team, for the most part, before he was fired. He's still in the early stages of building the Giants, but this is a critical game. Remember, this was supposed to be a win-now team, but they are stuck in a terrible offensive rut and are in great danger of this season slipping away. They're still in the stage of the season where one win can change the mood, because 2-3 will make them feel a heck of a lot better than 1-4. But at 1-4, especially if the offense stinks again, it's going to be hard to make the players believe they have any hope over the last 11 games.

Tags: Carolina Panthers, Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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Sep 30, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) reacts during the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 30, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) reacts during the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Odell Beckham Jr. is going to take a lot of heat for questioning his teammates' "heart" and "passion" and you can be sure there are people in the Giants organization who wish he hadn't done it.

But here's the thing: He's hardly the first player to try to light a fire under a dead team by using those loaded words.

Also, Beckham is right.

Tags: Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. reacts during the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. reacts during the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Odell Beckham Jr. questioned the "heart" and the "energy" of his Giants teammates and took a swipe at their low-risk passing attack in yet another sign that his frustrations are on the verge of bubbling over.

The Giants star receiver, in an interview with ESPN that is scheduled to run on Sunday morning, made it clear that his teammates' lack of "heart," "energy" and "passion" is the biggest problem the Giants have faced during their 1-3 start. Sitting down with reporter Josina Anderson -- alongside rapper Lil' Wayne -- Beckham also put the blame on the Giants' offensive strategy, though it wasn't clear whether it was quarterback Eli Manning or coach Pat Shurmur's game plan that he was singling out.

"How come we can't throw the ball for more than 20 yards?" Beckham asked. "How come we don't attempt or try to throw the ball for more than 20 yards? Those are questions that we have to figure out. But for now I would say it's our heart, it's our energy, it's what we bring when we line up before the game. All of that, it counts."

Tags: Odell Beckham Jr., Ralph Vacchiano
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Sam Darnold making progress 00:00:54
Jets offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates and head coach Todd Bowles tall about the progress they see in Sam Darnold, despite a lack of wins.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | ArchiveOne quarter of the way through his rookie season, Sam Darnold can feel himself on the verge of a breakthrough.

"I feel like I'm just on the edge," Darnold said.

That's exactly the way NFL scouts seem to feel about him, too.

Tags: Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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Sep 9, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur coaches against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 9, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur coaches against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - No matter what you think of the Giants right now -- whether you think Eli Manning is done, whether Odell Beckham Jr. looks slower, whether you believe the offensive line is salvageable, or if you think they made a wrong decision when they chose their new coach -- this is their reality. Reinforcements are not coming. They are what they are.

So what can Pat Shurmur do about it? Can he find any way to spark his offense, salvage the season, and knock the Giants off what sometimes seems like an irreversible course towards another disastrous season? They are 1-3 as they prepare to face the Carolina Panthers this Sunday, so there's some urgency to this question.

Is there any way he can to fix this mess?

Tags: Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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Sep 30, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) reacts during the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 30, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) reacts during the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Two years ago, former Giants coach Ben McAdoo took a lot of heat for an offensive game plan that often seemed to be 'Throw it to Odell Beckham Jr. and hope something good happens.'

It wasn't a brilliant strategy, to be sure. But at least he recognized the star receiver as the best and most explosive player on the field.

If Pat Shurmur sees that too, it hasn't been evident in his play-calling yet. And that's an odd choice as he desperately tries to kick start his offense in what is shaping up as another lost season for the Giants. Beckham, fresh off his five-year, $90 million contract extension, had yet another low-impact game, catching just seven passes for 60 yards in the Giants' 33-18 loss to the Saints.

Tags: Odell Beckham Jr., Ralph Vacchiano
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Shurmur says Giants need to run 00:00:58
Giants coach Pat Shurmur said that he wishes he'd called more runs for Saquon Barkley during Big Blue's loss to the Saints on Sunday.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - There are a lot of things wrong with the Giants' offense right now, but there's only one thing that Pat Shurmur seemed to really regret on Monday morning. When he looked back on the Giants' latest loss he saw how much they leaned on rookie running back Saquon Barkley.

And he wished he had leaned on the kid even more.

"I wish I would've called more runs," Shurmur said. "That's the reality of that, because I think the ball in Saquon's hands is a good thing."

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Sep 30, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur coaches against New Orleans Saints during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 30, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur coaches against New Orleans Saints during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: A week ago they had made so much progress. Then on Sunday, the Giants stepped back into their abyss.

Now, after their disheartening 33-18 loss to the New Orleans Saints, they are 1-3 and looking at the likelihood of yet another lost season.

Here's a look at how their specific position groups played in their Week 4 loss...

Tags: Cody Latimer, Dalvin Tomlinson, Eli Apple, Eli Manning, Evan Engram, Janoris Jenkins, Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon, Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Wayne Gallman, Ralph Vacchiano
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Sep 30, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants linebacker Alec Ogletree on the field before facing the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com via USA TODAY NETWORK (Danielle Parhizkaran)
Sep 30, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants linebacker Alec Ogletree on the field before facing the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com via USA TODAY NETWORK (Danielle Parhizkaran)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Giants did a pretty good job of beating themselves on Sunday. And at least one of them thinks they had a hand from the officials, too.

In fact, Giants linebacker Alec Ogletree is pretty sure he knows why.

Tags: Alec Ogletree, Ralph Vacchiano
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Giants lose to Saints 00:00:32
Following the Giants' loss to the Saints, Pat Shurmur and Odell Beckham Jr share their frustrations and try look forward

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Giants opening drive was absolutely perfect. It was as good as their offense has looked all year long. And coming off their revival win last Sunday in Houston, it seemed like they had finally turned a corner.

Instead, it was all just a mirage.

Tags: Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning warms up before a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. (Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning warms up before a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. (Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

THE GAME

The New Orleans Saints (2-1) at the Giants (1-2) at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 4:25 p.m.

THE WEATHER

A near-perfect day with lots of sun and temperatures in the low 70s. I'm sure as the sun goes down it'll feel a lot more chilly, but everyone should be comfy for a quarter or so.

WHAT IT MEANS

I guess it boils down to this: Are the Giants the offensive mess we saw in Week 1 and 2, or the coherent team we saw in Week 3? Because if they can score enough points to beat a team like the Saints (or, I suppose, stop them on defense) then the Giants will be .500 at the quarter pole of the season and will have a right to consider themselves an actual playoff contender. If they lose and fall to 1-3 … well, things will sure feel a lot worse...

Tags: Eli Manning, New Orleans Saints, Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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Bowles on prep for Jags 00:00:43
Head coach Todd Bowles on the Jets mindset heading into Sunday's match-up with the Jaguars

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

THE GAME

The Jets (1-2) at the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1) at TIAA Bank Field in Florida on Sunday, Sept. 30, at 1 p.m. ET.

THE WEATHER

A few Florida thunderstorms in the morning will yield to a warm and muggy day with temperatures approaching 90 degrees. There could be a little late rain too, I'm guessing.

WHAT IT MEANS

The Jets didn't fair all that poorly for playing three games in 11 days at the start of a rookie quarterback's career. Sure, they're 1-2, but if they were 2-1 people would be throwing parties. I'm no mathematician, but there doesn't seem to be a big difference between those two records. Now, the schedule settles down a bit and we can find out what the Jets really are. The Jaguars are a legitimate contender for the AFC title, so going down there and winning with a 21-year-old quarterback might be a stretch. That said, if they do it, that would certainly make one heck of a statement, wouldn't it? Even playing a close game would be encouraging. And remember, no matter what the wins and losses look like, this is a season that's all about finding encouraging signs.

Tags: Jacksonville Jaguars, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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Sep 16, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) leaves the field after the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports (Tim Heitman)
Sep 16, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) leaves the field after the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports (Tim Heitman)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Giants believe in Eli Manning and they've made that clear. But he's still 37 years old, has only two years left on his contract, and there's still no obvious replacement for him on the roster. They don't seem to have a long-term plan at quarterback.

Unless that plan includes the man who currently holds the job...

Tags: Eli Manning, Evan Engram, Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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Sep 23, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) makes a reception during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports (Troy Taormina)
Sep 23, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) makes a reception during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports (Troy Taormina)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Giants stepped back from the brink of yet another disastrous season with a 22-17 win in Houston on Sunday, as they put together just enough offense to improve their record to 1-2.

Here are grades for each specific position group...

Tags: Alec Ogletree, Damon Harrison, Eli Apple, Eli Manning, Ereck Flowers, Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon, Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Ralph Vacchiano
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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | ArchiveLe'Veon Bell just might be the best running back in the NFL and one of the league's most dangerous offensive weapons. And suddenly he might even be available in a trade.

That sounds like it would be an ideal move for the Jets -- a team flush with salary cap space and building towards a better future. CEO Christopher Johnson vowed his team would be aggressive, and this would certainly be an aggressive move.

It just wouldn't make a lot of sense -- at least not yet.

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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Giants gave the NFL a look at what they can do when they get some good offensive line play on Sunday afternoon. At least they did in the first half.

And that turned out to be enough.

Behind their new-look line -- Chad Wheeler in for benched right tackle Ereck Flowers and John Greco in for injured center Jon Halapio -- Eli Manning had time to throw, Saquon Barkley had room to run, and the Giants' maligned offense managed to score on all four of their first half possessions enroute to a 27-22 win over the Houston Texans. And the blocking absolutely made all the difference.

Tags: Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants offensive tackle Ereck Flowers (74) blocks during an NFL preseason football game against the Cleveland Browns. (AP)
New York Giants offensive tackle Ereck Flowers (74) blocks during an NFL preseason football game against the Cleveland Browns. (AP)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: In a long-awaited, though, possibly dangerous move, the Giants are benching their embattled right tackle Ereck Flowers Sunday in Houston and replacing him with second-year pro Chad Wheeler, according to a team source.

The move is dangerous, considering Wheeler will be staring at all-pro Texans defensive end J.J. Watt for most of the day, but was deemed necessary by the coaches, the source said, confirming the initial report from NFL Network. The 24-year-old Wheeler didn't appear to be much of an upgrade over Flowers during five starts last season, but Flowers' performance and progress have been poor enough that the coaches felt they had to do something.

Wheeler took most, but not all, of the first-team reps during the week, the source said. It's possible the two will split time at right tackle, but that would be unusual. Giants head coach Pat Shurmur apparently didn't make the decision to start Wheeler until late in the week, though coaches had determined that he would play a lot, at the very least.

Tags: Ereck Flowers, Ralph Vacchiano
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Sep 16, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) and quarterback Eli Manning (10) (Tim Heitman)
Sep 16, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) and quarterback Eli Manning (10) (Tim Heitman)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

THE GAME

The Giants (0-2) at the Houston Texans (0-2) at NRG Stadium in Houston on Sunday, Sept. 23, at 1 p.m. ET.

THE WEATHER

The temperatures should be in the upper 80s and will feel much hotter than that, and there is the possibility of thunderstorms. So yeah, they're probably going to close the roof.

Tags: Eli Apple, Eli Manning, Ereck Flowers, Houston Texans, Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon, Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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Todd Bowles isn't going anywhere any time soon. He signed a contract extension just nine months ago, and while that doesn't give him a free pass through the end of the deal in 2020, he certainly gets a pass through these first three games.

How much longer he gets, though, entirely depends on how often the Jets can avoid ugly, sloppy, undisciplined losses like their 21-17 stinker in Cleveland on Thursday night. Because contract extension or not, the feeling around the Jets is still that the 54-year-old Bowles isn't really that safe at all.

Bowles is being watched, evaluated, judged in a way that coaches usually aren't just three games into a new deal. And no one in the organization has ever really come out with a full-throated endorsement of him as the right guy to lead the franchise back. It was interesting, two weeks ago, when Jets CEO Christopher Johnson spoke to the media. He talked of how he'll evaluate Bowles (and GM Mike Maccagnan too), saying he's "looking for the team to advance" and saying in the end whether it does "will be obvious to me."

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Browns top Jets on late TD 00:01:00
Todd Bowles, Sam Darnold, and Jamal Adams comment on the Jets' mistake-riddled 21-17 loss to the Browns on Thursday night.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Sam Darnold did not have his finest game on Thursday night. And it looked a lot worse compared to what Baker Mayfield was doing for the other team.

In the first matchup of the first two quarterbacks taken in the 2018 draft, Mayfield won in a landslide, coming in late in the first half for the injured Tyrod Taylor and sending a jolt of electricity through the Browns' otherwise-dead offense. He completed 17 of 23 passes for 201 yards in the Browns' 21-17 win.

Darnold, meanwhile, slogged through a forgettable performance, completing 15 of 31 passes for 169 yards. He also threw a terrible pass that was intercepted by linebacker Joe Schobert, who was standing right in front of Jets receiver Jermaine Kearse that essentially ended the game with less than two minutes to go.

Tags: Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold warms up before the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. (Tim Fuller/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold warms up before the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. (Tim Fuller/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

THE GAME

The Jets (1-1) at the Cleveland Browns (0-1-1) at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland on Sunday, Sept. 20 at 8:20 p.m. ET.

THE WEATHER

A wet day is expected to turn into a decent night, with clear skies and temperatures in the mid-70s. The wind, though, could be 10-20 miles per hour coming off the lake.

WHAT IT MEANS

This game would be a lot more fun if it were Sam Darnold vs. Baker Mayfield, but the Browns are still rolling with Tyrod Taylor (for now). That makes this more of a test for Darnold and his ability to bounce back from the first disappointment of his young career. It's also his first short week, which is never easy. It'll be very interesting to see how he responds. … As for the Browns, they haven't won since Christmas Eve, 2016 and are 1 for their last 33 games. The Jets certainly want to avoid the embarrassment of being only their second victim in three years.

Tags: Cleveland Browns, Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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Josh Gordon (12) Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports (Scott Galvin)
Josh Gordon (12) Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports (Scott Galvin)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | ArchiveJosh Gordon is a tantalizing prospect. He's a 6-foot-3, 225-pound receiver who once had an incredible, 87-catch, 1,646-yard, nine-touchdown performance in a season in which he played only 14 games. That was supposed to be only a scratch in the surface of his great talent. And he's still only 27 years old.

Now he's headed to the New England Patriots, after the Cleveland Browns struck a deal to send Gordon for a 2019 fifth-round pick. If Gordon is not active for 10 games, a 2019 seventh-round pick will be returned to the Patriots. The Jets, meanwhile, still don't have a true No. 1 receiver to gift-wrap to their young quarterback, Sam Darnold.

They need a player like Gordon. It's just that acquiring Gordon would've been a terrible idea.

Tags: ArDarius Stewart, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Sam Darnold, Terrelle Pryor, Ralph Vacchiano
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Sep 16, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) leaves the field after the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports (Tim Heitman)
Sep 16, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) leaves the field after the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports (Tim Heitman)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Giants' entire offseason plan was built around the premise that Eli Manning had "years" left as a productive, and maybe even an elite, starting quarterback. That's why the Giants went into win-now mode, believing they had the quarterback to lead them on a championship run in the next two years.

Two games later, it sure looks like their plan was flawed -- that they were much farther away from contention than they ever imagined. But Manning doesn't deserve the blame for that...

Tags: Eli Manning, Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Tim Heitman)
(Tim Heitman)

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The Giants are a team in crisis at 0-2 after a miserable, 20-13 loss in Dallas on Sunday night. And they're back to their same old offensive problems.

Here's a look at how their specific position groups played on Sunday night...

Tags: Alec Ogletree, Eli Apple, Eli Manning, Evan Engram, Janoris Jenkins, Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon, Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur coaches from the sidelines in the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. (Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur coaches from the sidelines in the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. (Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Giants were so sure that a healthy Odell Beckham Jr., a rebuilt offensive line and the addition of Saquon Barkley would be enough to wake them out of their years-long offensive nightmare.

Two games into the season, it looks like they may have been wrong. Really wrong.

Their offense was absolutely pathetic on Sunday night in a 20-13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. They barely got anything going either on the ground or in the air. They hardly even threatened to score any points until the game was basically over. And if it weren't for Barkley (14 catches for 80 yards, 11 rushes for 28 yards), they would've spent the game looking like they were standing still.

Tags: Dallas Cowboys, Eli Manning, Ereck Flowers, Evan Engram, Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold throws a pass against the Miami Dolphins during second half at MetLife Stadium. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold throws a pass against the Miami Dolphins during second half at MetLife Stadium. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Miami Dolphins only led by eight points when they got the ball back with 5:56 left in the game. One stop, like maybe on the third-and-19 with 3:36 remaining, and Sam Darnold would've gotten the ball back in his hands with a chance to tie the game.

Everyone in the Meadowlands wanted to see that. And everyone felt confident that the way Darnold was playing, if it actually happened, the Jets would've had a pretty decent shot.

Tags: Miami Dolphins, Quincy Enunwa, Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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Sep 9, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) celebrates his touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. The touchdown was the first of his NFL career. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 9, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) celebrates his touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. The touchdown was the first of his NFL career. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

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THE GAME

The Giants (0-1) at the Dallas Cowboys (0-1) at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex., on Sunday, Sept. 16 at 8:20 p.m. ET.

THE WEATHER

A warm day with temperatures near 90 should cool off into the upper 70s by kickoff. Whether that matters or not depends on whether Jerry Jones has the roof open or closed.

WHAT IT MEANS

Did somebody say "Must win"? OK, I did. Since 1990, there have been 231 teams that have started the season 0-2 and only 28 of them (12 percent) made the playoffs. Those are not good odds for the loser of this game. And yes, yes, the Giants did it in 2007. We all remember that. But that's the exception, not the rule. The reality is that whoever loses this game will be in a suddenly quick hole after opening the season with dreams of competing for the NFC East title. If either the Redskins or Eagles win (they're both 1-0) that hole is going to feel very deep, too.

Tags: Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon, Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold warms up before the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. (Tim Fuller/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold warms up before the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. (Tim Fuller/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

THE GAME

The Jets (1-0) vs. the Miami Dolphins (1-0) at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on Sunday, Sept. 16, at 1 p.m. ET.

THE WEATHER

Sunny and 80 degrees. ... See, even Mother Nature would dare rain on the Jets' parade.

WHAT IT MEANS

It might just be the happiest home opener in years for the Jets. It might even be a sellout. And why not? Who wouldn't want to see Sam Darnold, the future, after what he and the rest of the Jets did to the Lions last Monday night. Darnold playing well wasn't a surprise. The Jets pounding Detroit 48-17 was a pretty big shock, though. Maybe it was a fluke, but don't tell that to the players. If they can do anything close to that again, their bandwagon may be full.

Tags: Miami Dolphins, Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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Vacchiano reports on Jets CEO 00:01:24
SNY's Ralph Vacchiano shares some insight on Jets CEO Christopher Johnson's comments about the team and the National Anthem controversy.

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Christopher Johnson is trying his best to be "Ice Man" in the wake of the Jets' rousing Opening Night win. He believes the Jets can be "a team to be reckoned with" this season. He doesn't think the playoffs are out of reach.

And the truth is he's setting his goals a little higher than that.

Tags: Ereck Flowers, Jamal Adams, Leonard Williams, Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Ereck Flowers had all sorts of problems with defensive end Calais Campbell and the rest of the Jacksonville Jaguars defense on Sunday.

Unfortunately for the Giants and their beleaguered right tackle, it's only going to get worse.

That's because the parade of pass rushers the 24-year-old Flowers will have to face in the coming weeks is frightening. In order, he'll see Dallas' DeMarcus Lawrence, Houston's J.J. Watt, New Orleans' Cameron Jordan, Carolina's Julius Peppers, Philly's Brandon Graham, Atlanta's Vic Beasley and Washington's Ryan Kerrigan.

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Jets fall to Dolphins, 20-12 00:01:00
Todd Bowles, Sam Darnold, and Jamal Adams look back at mistakes, and look ahead to what's next after the Jets fell to the Dolphins, 20-12

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Jets fans filled the Meadowlands on Sunday afternoon, hoping to see for themselves what all the Sam Darnold excitement was about. Instead, they got reminder of the truth about rookie quarterbacks: No matter how good they are, they all struggle and make inexcusable mistakes.

In other words, The Darnold Era hit its first bump in the road.

It's not that Darnold was bad. He wasn't. He 25 of 41 for 334 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, and he had some really terrific throws and moments in the Jets' 20-12 loss to the Miami Dolphins. It's just that he did what he mostly avoided doing in the opener last Monday night. He made some big mistakes in some big spots.

Tags: Bilal Powell, Miami Dolphins, Jordan Jenkins, Leonard Williams, Morris Claiborne, Quincy Enunwa, Sam Darnold, Terrelle Pryor, Ralph Vacchiano
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SNY gives out the Jets grades 00:00:58
Bart Scott, Ray Lucas, and Willie Colon deliver their grades for the Jets in their Week 1 Reports Cards following the big win over Detroit.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Sam Darnold's debut began with the most Jet-like first pass in franchise history. After more than 40 years of waiting for a franchise quarterback, the first thing he does is throw a pick-six?

It's a good thing nobody in New York would ever overreact to one play!

Because after that, the kid was pretty good. And the Jets were even better.

Tags: Bilal Powell, Darron Lee, Detroit Lions, Jamal Adams, Morris Claiborne, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets' Sam Darnold looks on from the sidelines during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
		 (Matt Rourke/AP)
New York Jets' Sam Darnold looks on from the sidelines during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) (Matt Rourke/AP)

THE GAME

The Jets (0-0) at the Detroit Lions (0-0) at Ford Field in Detroit, on Monday, Sept. 10 at 7:10 p.m. ET.

THE WEATHER

Fall-like, with overcast skies and temperatures in the upper 50s. But who cares? The Lions play in a dome. It'll be nice inside.

WHAT IT MEANS

Five years and five months from now, when the Jets are winning Super Bowl LVIII and millions of delirious Jets fans are camping out to welcome Sam Darnold down the Canyon of Heroes, you'll take a moment to think back to this Monday night game, where it all began. It's the dawn of the Darnold Era and the first time the Jets will go into a season with the real hope that they have their franchise quarterback for the first time since Joe Namath left town. The result of this game is almost secondary to how Darnold performs. It's all about him. It's all about hope.

Tags: Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley celebrates his touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley celebrates his touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Saquon Barkley's debut didn't get off to a flying start. On his first two NFL carries, he couldn't even break the line of scrimmage. He did nothing of note in the first half at all.

Yet somehow there was a feeling that something was different. Somehow, watching Barkley, everyone knew.

"I mean, I knew right away," said Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell, who helped tackle Barkley for no gain on the rookie's first run. "The first run and the first couple of times I tackled him, I said, 'This kid has something.'"

Tags: Eli Manning, Evan Engram, Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants offensive tackle Ereck Flowers blocks as Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Robert Ayers rushes during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Giants offensive tackle Ereck Flowers blocks as Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Robert Ayers rushes during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants have a $95 million wide receiver, a running back they took second overall in the NFL draft and a franchise quarterback they believe can still play for "years." They also have a tight end they took in the first round a year ago and another receiver they took in the second round in 2016.

Those are a lot of talented weapons they've invested in heavily.

And once again, it looks like any potential they have is going to be crushed behind a crumbling offensive line.

Tags: Eli Manning, Ereck Flowers, Evan Engram, Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Ralph Vacchiano
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Sep 9, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) drops back to pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 9, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) drops back to pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Giants spent the summer dreaming about what a healthy Odell Beckham could do for their offense when paired with Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard and a revived Eli Manning.

But it looks like the fix to their offensive problems isn't going to be as quick as they hoped.

The Giants' offense was surprisingly ugly in its debut under new coach Pat Shurmur on Sunday.

Tags: Eli Manning, Evan Engram, Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Ralph Vacchiano
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