The Miami Dolphins traveled to the Meadowlands to face the New York Giants in their first preseason game, where the Dolphins won by a score of 27-10. This game was the debut of a lot of new players, like rookies and newly signed free agents, and it was also the debut of the two youngest coaches in the NFL right now. Adam Gase takes over as the 12th head coach of the Dolphins and Ben McAdoo takes over as the 17th head coach of the Giants. Both coaches were looking to see how their players would handle game-time situations and the results were a mixed bag. The Dolphins had some rookies come up with huge plays late in the game, but the starting offensive line did not do their job in the first half. The Giants, on the other hand, had some standout performances from their rookies and some of their newly signed free agents on the defense, but the offense took a nose dive after the first quarter and the second and third string defenses had a tough time controlling the tempo later in the game.
After nearly an hour of weather delay, due to lightning in the area, the teams were finally able to get back on the field. The first quarter started out great for the Giants. On their first possession, back-up quarterback Ryan Nassib led the offense down the field in an emphatic way. The running game for the Giants still has trouble, as the offensive line cannot hold blocks long enough or make holes for the running back to get through, but flashes of potential sparked on a 19-yard Shane Vereen scramble and a three-yard touchdown run by Rashad Jennings. The Giants’ second round draft pick, Sterling Shepard, also showed what he can offer New York down the road, as he made an incredible diving catch for 24-yards, putting the Giants in position to score their only touchdown of the game. He would not see the field again after suffering a groin injury, but Coach McAdoo said it was nothing serious.
The Dolphins had a tough time moving the ball in the first quarter, even with their starting quarterback, Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill only threw for four times before being replaced by Matt Moore, but it was a rough first quarter for him. Tannehill never got sacked, but he was taking plenty of hits after he let the ball go. The offensive line did nothing to protect him or the running backs. Tannehill almost got picked off, as well, but Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas had the tip of his cleat go out of bounds. Matt Moore would throw the first interception of the game to Casillas as Moore felt some pressure coming from the Giants’ pass rush. The Dolphins could not get a single first down in a quarter and a half on play, which is a testament to both the horrible play of the Dolphins offense and the strong play from the Giants defense.
The Giants defense played great in the first quarter, shutting the Dolphins out and not letting them get a first down in the first quarter. Key contributors for the Giants’ starting defense was former Dolphin Olivier Vernon. Even though he was only on the field for two defensive series, he made his former team feel his wrath. Vernon did not get a sack, but he did lead the charge on two of the team’s three quarterback pressures. First round draft pick Eli Apple showed that he wanted to play, as he played both defense and special teams. Apple played well in coverage and made great heads-up plays, like tackling Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills in open space to force a Miami punt and recovering a fumble from fellow teammate Bobby Rainey on a punt return. He would walk off the field because of an injury to his left knee. Damon “Snacks” Harrison plugged up the middle of the offensive line and fought off of his blocks, giving Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi a hard time to find running room. Overall, the Giants starting defense looks promising, and there are three more pre-season games that will showcase this new, and so far improved, defense.
The second half of play was marred by mistakes by the Giants and Miami capitalized on that. New York started to freely substitute players in on both offense and defense, which and Miami subs keyed in on weak players. The defensive line was able to collapse the pocket on Nassib in the second quarter all the way until Logan Thomas replaced him in the fourth quarter. Nassib threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball, which Miami was able to recover. He was also mishandling snaps from the center and missing the hand offs to his running back, which will not instill confidence in Coach McAdoo if he has to substitute Nassib in for any reason. The Giants offense played awful in the second half, but it was the second and third team offenses on the field. Still, McAdoo must not feel confident about how ineffective his second and third teams played on both sides of the ball. The Giants defense gave up 27 straight points to the Dolphins’ second and third team offenses, which is also concerning. Barring any injuries, many defensive players for the Giants will need a lot more practice before they see the field again.
The Dolphins back-ups shined in the later half of the game. Matt Moore threw for 112-yards and an unintended 51-yard touchdown to receiver Matt Hazel. The pass was intended for A.J. Cruz, but it sailed over his head and caught by Hazel. The safety for the Giants played the receiver instead of looking for the ball, which left Hazel wide open and able to run in for the score. From there, Miami would score two more times to bring the game to its end.
Even though the Dolphins beat the Giants on the scoreboard, the real winners of the game would have to be the Giants. The Giant starters shined on both offense and defense while the Dolphin starters struggled the entire time they were on the field. This is only the first game of the pre-season, however, and there is still a lot of football to be played.