1. There’s a difference between having Odell Beckham Jr., and having a fully healthy Odell Beckham Jr. There was much speculation leading up to Monday Night Football about whether or not Beckham would play after sitting out Week 1 with the ankle injury he suffered in the preseason. After a good warm-up, Beckham did indeed play, but he was on a pitch count. He played only nine of 20 snaps in the first half, most of which were on third downs or in the red zone, the gotta-have-it situations. He played more in the second half, when the Giants were scraping to stay in the game and used more hurry-up with less personnel substitutions, but far from his usual presence. (He finished with four catches for 36 yards). Last week, Beckham told reporters that the injury he suffered had a six- to eight-week recovery time. Last night was exactly the four-week mark. A large part of Beckham’s brilliance as a player is his quickness in and out of breaks, and that’s something the Giants won’t be able to take advantage of until he’s fully healthy.
2. The Giants’ offensive line is what we thought it was. Ziggy Ansah had his way with LT Ereck Flowers all night; after the Giants lost Bobby Hart to an ankle injury after just two plays, Justin Pugh also had some struggles sliding over from left guard to Hart’s right tackle position. The result: Eli Manning was sacked five times. That’s not ideal circumstances for any quarterback, but particularly for a 36-year-old with limited mobility. What are the Giants’ options for making the problem better this season? Not many. They don’t have back-ups they think could fare better than Flowers, and Hart’s injury puts even more pressure on the tackle position. There are ways to scheme more help, using a tight end or a running back to chip, but there’s only so much you can do when more than one person up front is struggling. The best hope is for individual players to play better, but when the issues are rooted in technique—as is the case for Flowers—it’s hard to correct during the season, particularly given the restrictions on padded practices.
3. Matthew Stafford, the $135 million man, can win games with more than just fourth-quarter heroics. Monday night, it was his toughness. In the second quarter, he appeared to get poked in the right eye on a strip-sack by Jason Pierre-Paul and came to the sideline squinting in pain. But when the Giants gave the ball back the very next play, on an Eli Manning interception, Stafford trotted back onto the field. He then led the Lions on a quick touchdown drive, capped by a 7-yard TD pass to tight end Eric Ebron that gave the Lions the lead for good. Stafford took his fair share of battering, too, from a Giants defense that at times overwhelmed his own protection, but he did well to use his legs to escape collapsing pockets and extend plays and drives. On the Lions’ first TD drive, for example, a third-and-9 play would have been dead but for Stafford’s scrambling free for a gain of 13 yards.
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