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The New York Giants are 2-0 for the first time since 2016 after beating the Carolina Panthers 19-16. At the end of the day, a win is a win. But before anyone goes making reservations for a room in Glendale next February, there is still a lot of work for this Giants team to accomplish before it can enter the NFL's upper echelon.

Here are a few takeaways from the game.

1. The offense needs to get off to a faster start. A win is a win, but if the Giants are looking to win against the better teams down the road, the offense will have to get off to a faster start.

The Giants' offense came out of the gate slowly for the second week in a row, despite two Panthers turnovers that put them in plus territory. New York netted 60 yards of offense on 26 first-half plays and ZERO net rushing yards, with only six points to show for their efforts.

Saquon Barkley wasn't much of a factor in the first half, rushing five times for three yards. The Giants also had just four first downs in the half and were one of seven on third-down conversion attempts.

Thankfully the offense woke up in the second half but moving forward, the coaches need to figure out a way to get the offense off to a faster start before they come up against an opponent that buries them in the game's first 30 minutes.

2. The pass blocking was once again an issue. Quarterback Daniel Jones was hit nine times this week and sacked three times. Add those numbers into last week's totals, and Jones has now been sacked eight times and hit 17, according to official league stats.

Jones, to his credit, bounced up and showed toughness after each hit, but if the Giants want to have him for this season, they will need to do a much better job of protecting him.

3. The defense was clutch on third down. For the second week in a row, the Giants defense held the opponent to 20 points or less in a winning effort. But not to be overlooked is that the Giants defense has been an absolute beast on third down conversions allowed.

After holding the Titans to 3 of 11 last week, the Giants defense one-upped that by holding the Panthers to 2 of 12 on third-down attempts. That's pretty darn good and almost certain to help the Giants, who after Week 1 ranked sixth in third down conversion attempts allowed, improve their ranking this week.

"I thought the defense throughout the game played well. Again, we gave up that one big one and squirted out there later, but they tightened back up in the red zone," Daboll said.

"They tackled well. We didn’t get hit over the top of their head. I thought they did a good job. They stuck together. Again, it was a good team win. These games are going to be like this most of the time in this league, and I thought our guys showed grit and toughness and heart."

4. Speaking of clutch. Can we talk about the job the defense did after Leonard Williams had to leave the game with a knee injury?

On their last five drives, the Panthers went three-and-out on two, and on the three drives where they didn't, they were held to five-play drives. They punted four times and managed one field goal, the one that tied the game 16-16 at the time.

That's pretty impressive work by a defense missing its best player.

"Leo, that’s our leader," said outside linebacker Oshane Ximines. "We saw what he’s done over the last three years. His game speaks for himself. He’s a big part of this defense. When he went down, we just tried to pick it up even more and just fight because that’s all we have to do to win."

And win they did.

5. Ximines Balls Out Again. I owe Oshane Ximines a public apology, as I was among those convinced he would not be on this team this year. Well, I'm happy to say I was dead wrong. I told Ximines as much after the game and promised I'd write it in an article, so here we are.

Ximines delivered two tackles, including one tackle for a loss and one of the Giants' two sacks, the sack coming when Leonard Williams persuaded Baker Mayfield to step right into Ximines' orbit.

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Sep 18, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) runs with the ball against Carolina Panthers linebacker Frankie Luvu (49) and cornerback Jaycee Horn (8) during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium.

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Ximines also had a pass defensed and a quarterback hit in another strong game.

"I don’t know where he was last year. I just know where he is this year. He’s been a big part of our football team," Daboll said.

"He’s got energy. I think he has talent. I think (defensive coordinator) Wink Martindale is getting talent out of him. He’s a confident player."

Ximines told me after the game that he changed how he trained in the off-season. Whereas he went off and did his own thing in the past, this past spring, he trained in Atlanta with Azeez Ojulari, the Giants' sack leader last year.

Ximines also spent some time training with Jihad Ward, whose locker is next to Ximines's in MetLife Stadium. Ward, who was at his locker when I spoke with Ximines, was like a proud big brother, chiming in about how "Ox" (Ximines's nickname) was his "dawg" and how he made sure to stay on Ximines' (butt) throughout the off-season and season.

6. How 'bout those tight ends? All off-season long, people wondered what kind of a role the Giants' tight ends might play in this offense.

So far, they've been playing a big one. In addition to mostly blocking, two of Jones' three touchdown passes have gone to the position group, one last week to Chris Myarick and one this week to Daniel Bellinger.

"It was a split-zone scheme, usually where I come back around and hit the defensive end," Bellinger said of his first NFL touchdown catch on which he had gobs of space to operate. "It was a good play call where I just flashed the defensive end and got open into the flat, and it was a good play.

7. About the Kenny Golladay situation. I don't have the final snap counts, but I think receiver Kenny Golladay played two snaps the entire game.

After the game, there was some buzz over a report that Golladay left the postgame locker room before reporters were admitted into the room and that Golladay's locker was "empty."

If you are among the people who read into that as Golladay simply packing up his office in anticipation of a showdown, let me shed some light on the situation. The MetLife Stadium lockers are temporary. The players use them for game day, and after a game, they're all cleaned out.

That Golladay's locker was "empty" simply means he showered, changed, and took his belongings with him when he left the locker room before the doors opened to the media.

Was Golladay upset with his lack of playing time? Only he knows for sure, but as head coach Brian Daboll said in his postgame press conference, the receiver room is competitive, and there will be some weeks where different guys get more reps than others.

"It’s a continual competition at receiver," Daboll said. "I’ve said it since the middle of camp, right? It hasn’t changed. It’s going to be a continual competition. Kadarius (Tooney) had opportunities today, and we’ll see what it is next week.

"I think that position, we’re just going to keep on rolling guys and play the guys that week that we think would give us the best chance. And the other guys got to be ready as backups."

As for how Golladay handled the snap count reduction, Daboll praised him for being a pro.

"I told him during the week that we were going to go with (Wide Receiver David) Sills (V). He acted like a pro. I said, ‘Be ready to go.’ Now, does that mean it’s going to be that next week? No, because you see what we did from one week to the next. We’re just evaluating all those guys on a game-by-game basis.

"I think it takes a lot of mental toughness, too. That’s not an easy thing to hear, and I appreciate them being pros." 


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