Sep 302018
 
Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 30, 2018)

The Agony of Defeat – © USA TODAY Sports

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NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 33 – NEW YORK GIANTS 18…
The New York Giants were beaten by the New Orleans Saints 33-18 on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. With the defeat, the Giants fell to 1-3 on the season.

For the bulk of the game, the problem for the Giants was once again an offense. The Giants could not score 20 points, nor gain 300 yards, against what had been the NFL’s worst-ranked defense. And the team’s long play of the day against the Saints was only 28 yards. Running back Saquon Barkley was only given 10 carries and team backs only had a total of 12 carries. Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. only caught seven passes for 60 yards. And while quarterback Eli Manning completed 31-of-41 passes, he only passed for 255 yards with his longest completion being 27 yards late in the game. The Giants also fumbled the ball away twice.

The game actually started off great for New York. The Saints received the ball to start the game, but went three-and-out and were forced to punt. The Giants responded on their first possession with a 10-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a 2-yard touchdown pass from Manning to wide receiver Sterling Shepard. The Giants were up 7-0.

It looked as if the Giants had stopped New Orleans for a second three-and-out on their second possession. But on 4th-and-2 from their own 33-yard line, the Saints bravely ran a fake punt that picked up 10 yards and a first down. The Saints went on to set up a successful 42-yard field goal and cut New York’s lead to 7-3.

The Giants picked one first down on their second series but were forced to punt after an offensive pass interference penalty called on wide receiver Russell Shepard set the team back. The Saints drove the ball 69 yards in nine plays to set up a second field goal, this one from 34 yards out. Things quickly got worse as on the subsequent series running back Wayne Gallman fumbled the ball away after a short completion (some felt it should have been ruled an incompletion). The loose ball was recovered by the Saints and returned 37 yards to the New York 11-yard line. While the Giants’ defense held, the Saints kicked a third field goal to go up 9-7.

The Giants’ fourth possession resulted in a three-and-out with less than three minutes before halftime. That allowed the Saints to extend their lead 12-7 with a 7-play, 40-yard drive that set up their fourth field goal. So after the Giants’ initial offensive drive, the next three series resulted a turnover and two quick punts.

The third quarter did not go much better for the Giants, who picked up one first down and then punted. The Saints then took charge of the game by responding with a 7-play, 80-yard touchdown drive on their initial possession of the half to go up 19-7 (running back Alvin Kamara scored from 9 yards out). The Giants finally got on the scoreboard again with a 10-play, 75-yard effort. But that long drive did not result in a touchdown, but only a 33-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas.

Near the end of the 4th quarter, the Giants’ defense did force a three-and-out. But New York’s momentum quickly fizzled as Barkley lost seven yards on the drive’s first play. The Giants punted three plays later. The dagger came with the Saints’ ensuing possession as they drove 74 yards in 14 plays. Kamara scored from three yards out and the Saints were now up 26-10 with less than seven minutes left to play.

The Giants scored their final points on the following series, but it was too little too late. Barkley scored from one yard out on a 10-play, 75-yard possession. The 2-point conversion attempt also succeeded, but the Giants still trailed by eight points with just under four minutes to play. Any hope of sending the game into overtime with a second score and 2-point conversion quickly disappeared when Kamara ran for his third touchdown of the game, this one from 49 yards out. In garbage time, New York’s final possession ended with a sack and fumble by Manning.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle), cornerback Eli Apple (groin), tight end Evan Engram (knee), wide receiver Cody Latimer (knee), cornerback Antonio Hamilton (groin), quarterback Kyle Lauletta, and center Evan Brown.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Pat Shurmur and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur and select players will address the media on Monday.

Sep 282018
 
Eli Apple, New York Giants (August 7, 2018)

Eli Apple – © USA TODAY Sports

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NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Not practicing on Friday due to injury were tight end Evan Engram (knee), wide receiver Cody Latimer (knee), running back Jonathan Stewart (foot), and linebacker Olivier Vernon (high ankle sprain). All four players have officially been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints. (And Stewart was placed on Injured Reserve – see story below).

Nose tackle Damon Harrison (knee), cornerback Eli Apple (groin), cornerback Antonio Hamilton (groin), and wide receiver Stacy Coley (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis. Apple has been ruled out of Sunday’s game. Hamilton and Coley are “questionable” and Harrison is expected to play.

Linebacker Connor Barwin (knee) fully practiced and is expected to play on Sunday.

GIANTS PLACE JONATHAN STEWART ON INJURED RESERVE…
The New York Giants have placed running back Jonathan Stewart (foot) on Injured Reserve. Stewart, who signed a 2-year, $6.9 million deal with the Giants this offseason, had gained only 17 yards on six rushing attempts through three games.

To fill Stewart’s roster spot, the Giants promoted wide receiver Jawill Davis to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad. The Giants signed Davis as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft.

THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the New York Giants on Saturday. The team plays the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

Sep 282018
 
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (September 23, 2018)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

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Game Preview: New Orleans Saints at New York Giants, September 30, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
So the 2018 version of the New York Football Giants has a little fight in them after all. The short-term importance of last Sunday’s victory over a talented Houston Texans team cannot be understated. Had the Giants lost, their season would have all but officially been over on September 23. It was a gutty and unexpected performance.

But the team is not out of the woods just yet. As I mentioned last week, there is a huge difference between 0-3 and 1-2. Well, there is also a huge difference between 1-3 and 2-2. The Giants can build upon last week’s success or watch it largely flushed down the drain. It’s up to them.

The Giants have had a weird recent history with the Saints filled with some ugly blowouts. But this game is at MetLife. That will help.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Jonathan Stewart (foot – out)
  • WR Cody Latimer (knee – out)
  • WR Stacy Coley (hamstring – questionable)
  • TE Evan Engram (knee – out)
  • NT Damon Harrison (knee – probable)
  • LB Olivier Vernon (ankle – out)
  • LB Connor Barwin (knee – probable)
  • CB Eli Apple (groin – out)
  • CB Antonio Hamilton (groin – questionable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Will this be the week where the Giants finally get the 30-point monkey off their back? It’s the right opponent. Defensively, the Saints are 30th in yards allowed (30th in pass defense, 6th in rush defense). The Saints are also dead last in scoring defense.

All Giants fans know what the game story was last weekend. The team’s offensive line went from “beyond abysmal” to “below average” status. But that somewhat sad improvement was all Eli Manning, Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, and Saquon Barkley needed to do their thing. It was direct proof of where the issues lie. If this line can just be mediocre, this offense can be very dangerous and exciting to watch.

As Sy’56 correctly pointed out, Chad Wheeler is getting a bit too much of the credit. That was an Ereck Flowers-esque performance that fans were willing to ignore out of the satisfaction of seeing that sun flower eating machine standing on the sidelines. I felt the steadying force was the presence of veteran John Greco manning the middle and directing traffic. I mocked the Giants when they re-signed the aging veteran. I couldn’t have been more wrong on that one. Clearly what the team needs is for the offensive line to build upon and improve from last week’s performance, not regress. Give Eli some time. Let Beckham and Shepard do their thing. Give Saquon some room to make a man miss.

Unfortunately for the Giants, Wheeler will be matched up against the Saints’ best pass rusher, defensive end Cameron Jordan, who already has four sacks on the season. The Giants should consider giving Wheeler some help and not let Jordan ruin the game. With Evan Engram out, it would make sense for Scott Simonson or Rhett Ellison to at least chip on him.

With New Orleans’ pass defense being so bad in comparison with their more stingy run defense (allowing only 3 yards per carry), the temptation would be for New York to concentrate on throwing the ball more. I wouldn’t do that. The Saints haven’t seen a back like Saquon. Plus, you do not want the Saints teeing off on Manning. And you want to control the clock. You have to be a bit stubborn and patient when running the football. Give Saquon enough touches and he’s going to burn any defense.

That all said, the Saints’ secondary has not been good. And they lost their nickel corner Patrick Robinson with a broken ankle. The obvious counter-move for the Giants is to exploit the new nickel corner with both Beckham and Shepard. The Giants will miss Evan Engram and the vertical threat he poses, but Rhett Ellison is a reliable, sure-handed receiver who Eli trusts. In the short-term, the Giants may actually do a bit better moving the chains as Ellison is more dependable.

Stating the obvious, the Giants need to score more points than they usually do to win this game. 17, 20, and probably 24 points isn’t going to do it. But don’t look at the big picture and just focus on one play at a time. Run Barkley. Take your shots with Beckham and Shepard. The points will come.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
For better or worse, this will be fascinating to watch. We’re about to get a more complete read on James Bettcher and his troops as the Saints’ offense is a much different animal than what the Giants have faced in the first three games of the season. The Jaguars, Cowboys, and Texans are run-oriented offenses with quarterbacks who could hurt you with their feet. That’s not to say the Saints’ offensive line isn’t physical or the Saints can’t hurt you running the football (19th in yards per rush), it’s just that their passing game is so dynamic. The Giants haven’t seen an offense like this. And it will be a real test for the secondary and linebackers in coverage. And to make matters worse, Eli Apple is out yet another week and Antonio Hamilton is questionable.

Enter Alvin Kamara, a running back who plays like a wide receiver. The good news for the Giants’ defense is they have practiced against this type of back since OTAs in Saquon Barkley. The bad news is the Giants may not have anyone who can match-up with him. Kamara has rushed for 141 yards in three games, but more alarming is he has caught 30 passes for 289 yards during that same time span, averaging almost 10 yards per catch. Brees is smart. When he needs to move the sticks, he checks down to Kamara on option routes. So the question for the Giants is do they put a linebacker like Ray-Ray Armstrong on him, safety Landon Collins, or a reserve corner? Obviously, things will switch up as the Giants move from man to zone coverage, and attempt to disguise their coverages. But it will be interesting to see who has Kamara on most plays. I would not play B.J. Goodson much in this game.

But the threats don’t end with Kamara. Wideout Michael Thomas has caught an unbelievable 38 passes for 398 yards and three touchdowns in just three games. The Saints use Thomas like Beckham. They’ll move him around, including into the slot. Literally two-thirds of Brees’ passes go to Kamara and Thomas.

Giants fans are well aware what happens when the team loses track of the “lesser” players. Receivers like Ted Ginn, who only has 12 passes, have hurt the team before. Tight end Benjamin Watson can also be a thorn. So while the defensive focus must be on the two bigger threats, those covering Ginn and Watson must do their job.

Which brings us to Drew Brees. The guy is a machine. I never thought I’d see the day when a quarterback was completing over 80 percent of his passes. That’s almost unfair. In three games, Brees has thrown for over 1,000 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. His season QB rating is 122.2. He can only go down, right? Let’s hope so. There is no good answer to defend him. If you come after Brees, he’s smart and experienced enough to read it and burn your defense for a long touchdown. If you play back, he can dink and dunk you to death. Again, Bettcher will obviously switch things up. And it’s in Bettcher’s nature to attack. We’re about to find out just how gutsy and fearless Bettcher is. The smart play would probably be to play it safe, rush four, and play back. The good news for the Giants is that Brees is the most immobile QB they have faced. The Giants’ pass rush has actually been better than the stats show as mobile quarterbacks have gotten away from them in all three games. Brees shouldn’t be able to do that.

I’ll tell you who my wild card for this game is: Landon Collins. He hasn’t had a great start to the year. He’s due for a big game. And Landon is the kind of player who be a difference maker as a blitzer and creating turnovers. If Landon plays poorly, the Giants are probably in trouble; if he plays well, the Giants may be able to slow down this offense.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Knock on wood again. One of the biggest and flying under the radar surprises this year has been Aldrick Rosas. On the other hand, the Giants are still having ball security issues with their punt returners. They ditched Kaelin Clay, but Stacy Coley also muffed a punt last week. And Coley’s dealing with a hamstring now. We may see Odell returning a punt in the game out of necessity.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher on the Saints’ offense: “Before the snap some of the things Drew is able to get up and do and change protections, change routes, change formations at the line of scrimmage so it’s going to be a great challenge. The running back is a really special player. A guy that they use in the backfield to carry the ball, heavily in the screen game or they split him out and use him as a slot-type receiver. They’re going to find ways to target him and get him touches and Thomas is another really, really talented receiver on the perimeter. Has really strong hands at the point when balls are up and some of those 50/50 balls he’s a really good player in those scenarios.”

THE FINAL WORD:
When I predict a win, they lose; when I predict loss, they win. Giants get crushed this weekend.

Sep 272018
 
Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 23, 2018)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

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NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Not practicing on Thursday due to injury were tight end Evan Engram (knee), wide receiver Cody Latimer (knee), running back Jonathan Stewart (foot), and nose tackle Damon Harrison (knee).

“I wouldn’t be worried about Snacks,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “He’ll be there.”

Linebacker Olivier Vernon (high ankle sprain), linebacker Connor Barwin (knee), cornerback Eli Apple (groin), cornerback Antonio Hamilton (groin), and wide receiver Stacy Coley (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis.

THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The Giants practice again on Friday in preparation for Sunday’s home game against the New Orleans Saints.

Sep 262018
 
Donte Deayon and Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants (September 23, 2018)

Donte Deayon and Janoris Jenkins – © USA TODAY Sports

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GIANTS SIGN GARRETT DICKERSON TO 53-MAN ROSTER…
With tight end Evan Engram (MCL) ailing, the Giants have signed tight end Garrett Dickerson to the 53-man roster from the team’s practice squad. The Giants originally signed Dickerson in June 2018 as an undrafted rookie free agent and then signed him to the Practice Squad in September. The 6’2”, 244-pound Dickerson is a versatile player who can play a variety of positions including tight end, fullback, and H-Back.

To make room for Dickerson, the Giants waived/injured wide receiver Kaelin Clay (ankle), who the Giants claimed off of waivers from the Buffalo Bills on September 2nd.

To fill Dickerson’s place on the Practice Squad, the Giants re-signed wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo, who the Giants waived before the season started. The 6’1”, 208-pound Etta-Tawo was originally signed as a rookie free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars after the 2017 NFL Draft. He has spent time on the Practice Squads of the Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, and Giants in 2017.

NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Not practicing on Wednesday due to injury were tight end Evan Engram (knee), wide receiver Cody Latimer (knee), running back Jonathan Stewart (foot), nose tackle Damon Harrison (knee), linebacker Connor Barwin (knee), cornerback Eli Apple (groin), and cornerback Antonio Hamilton (groin).

Linebacker Olivier Vernon (high ankle sprain) practiced on a limited basis.

HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR…
The transcript of Pat Shurmur’s press conference on Wednesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The Giants practice on Thursday and Friday in preparation for Sunday’s home against against the New Orleans Saints. The team’s coordinators will address the press on Thursday.

Sep 252018
 
Odell Beckham, New York Giants (September 23, 2018)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports

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New York Giants 27 – Houston Texans 22

QUICK RECAP

On paper, this matchup looked as bad as it could get. On the road against a borderline desperate 0-2 team that had high expectations heading into the season. A pass rush that has shown the ability to wreck havoc on even the best of offensive lines. A young, athletic quarterback that has been lights-out in his short career at home against a defense without their top pass rusher and a starting cornerback. NYG has put out some ugly football over the past year-plus and the 0-2 start sucked out whatever confidence existed that this team would turn things around. Well sometimes when you’re pressed up against the wall, that is when the true colors come out.

Head Coach Pat Shurmur made his first big in-season move with the benching of Ereck Flowers for Chad Wheeler. While the talent and ability difference between the two may be non-existent, it was a sign to the team that everyone’s job will be on the line of the performance isn’t there.

The Giants dominated the first half. They controlled the point of attack on both sides of the ball. HOU couldn’t get a ground game going and shot themselves in the foot with 5 penalties. NYG on the other hand brought a balanced approach, scoring 2 touchdowns. The first being a 15 yard run by rookie Saquon Barkley and the second being a pass up the seam from Eli Manning to Rhett Ellison, who was in for the injured Evan Engram. NYG entered halftime with a commanding 20-6 lead.

HOU finally woke up in the second half, as they aggressively threw the ball downfield and applied more pressure to Manning in the pocket. NYG was simply trying to hold on until the clock read 0:00 at the end of the fourth quarter. HOU brought the score to 20-15 in the fourth quarter and at the time, NYG had earned just three second-half first downs. Momentum was being shifted into the home team’s hands but 2 costly turnovers and more HOU penalties helped the Giants.

Manning hit Sterling Shepard with the dagger that put this game out of reach with just over 2 minutes left. It was 27-15 at the time and even though HOU scored one more touchdown, the game was out of reach as there was just 1 second of game time where the score read 27-22.

NYG wins their first road game since October 15, 2017.

QUARTERBACKS

-Eli Manning: 25/29 – 297 yards – 2 TD / 0 INT. Manning finished with a 132.3 QB rating, the 9th best of his 15 year career. After 2 weeks of almost-no breathing room in the pocket, the offensive live elevated its play just enough for Manning to go through a read or two consistently. The results speak for themselves. Manning was quick to get the ball out, was on fire throughout every tier of the passing tree, and was as intense as we’ve seen him in a long time. As I’ve said since draft-time, Eli Manning is far from done and when the offensive line can play just OK, he can lead this team to wins. Plain and simple, really.

RUNNING BACKS

-Saquon Barkley: 17 att – 82 yards – 1 TD – 5 rec/35 yards. In addition to the offensive line upping their game, Barkley’s presence is slowly changing the opposition’s approach more and more. It was notable how the second and third level of the Texans defense were hesitant to drop into their coverage assignments when #26 was out there. Nobody wants to meet this kid in space, thus everyone has the mindset of keeping him squeezed in the tackle box. That alone has opened up more throwing lanes and gave Manning just 1-2 extra seconds in the pocket consistently. His touchdown run was another thing of beauty, as his contact balance, vision, and strength is a trio of traits that doesn’t exist elsewhere in the NFL. His biggest play of the day may have been in the 4th quarter where he lined up out wide. Manning threw him a 21 yard pass up the sideline on 3rd and 2. A few plays later, Manning hit Sterling Shepard for a touchdown that put the game out of reach. Think about everything Barkley does out of the backfield and in arguably the most crucial point of the second half with HOU momentum gaining steam, Barkley splits out wide and hauls in an athletic, wide receiver-caliber catch. He can do it all.

-Wayne Gallman and Jonathan Stewart combined for 8 carries / 33 yards. They were on the field for 18 plays and it’s smart to not overuse Barkley. This team needs him in the fold each and every week of 2018 with little-to-no drop off. Gallman can create on his own enough to warrant not overusing Barkley early on in the year.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Odell Beckham: 9 rec – 109 yards. Beckham caught 9 of his 10 targets. They kept on peppering the defense with slants via Beckham, and I have to give him credit for the toughness he shows over the middle. That is a dangerous place for receivers and he really shows no hesitation pursuing the ball. HOU had a few moments where momentum was shifting towards their side, but plays by Beckham brought them right back down to earth. He had 3 plays where he beat one on one coverage deep, but Manning didn’t look is way. Nothing to be alarmed about and his time will come.

-Sterling Shepard: 6 rec – 80 yards – 1 TD. You won’t see an overly impressive stat line here, but Shepard played a huge part in the win. Let’s start with the obvious: his touchdown in the 4th quarter. Shepard is such a weapon from the slot when the defense is in zone coverage. He is too smart, too quick, too strong when attacking the ball. The defense stands almost no chance in that situation. He also had 2 key blocks on big gains. If this offense turns around on a consistent basis, Shepard will be a big reason why. That said, the dumb penalties need to stop. Emotion is great, but taunting penalties can really aid a loss.

-Cody Latimer finished with 1 catch for 15 yards. Manning looked his way a few times but Latimer just couldn’t get separation no matter what route it was.

TIGHT ENDS

-Evan Engram went down with a knee injury on a borderline dirty hit by knee-diver Kareem Jackson. On his lone catch of the day, he burst up the sideline showing that elite tight end speed but the hit he took will keep him out 4-6 weeks. Unfortunate blow for this offense.

-Rhett Ellison stepped into a more prominent role and had one of his better games as a Giant. Three catches for 39 yards and the second NYG touchdown of the day. I’ve always said this about Ellison, he is a crafty route runner and pass catcher. There is more to his game than meets the eye and while he doesn’t scare a defense half as much as Engram does, he will make things happen. For what its worth, his blocking grade was sub-par, with 2 pressures and 1 tackle for loss allowed.

-Scott Simonson played a career-high 16 snaps and threw a couple of impressive blocks. That will be his main role in the coming weeks and he has improved since early in the year.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE

-Nate Solder finally saw an uptick in his performance. The highest paid left tackle in the NFL controlled Jadaveon Clowney for most of the game, minus a few hiccups. He did have a holding penalty in addition to one pressure, but Solder threw a couple of key blocks on big gains to the left side. He and Will Hernandez still have some communication issues to fix, but this game was a vast improvement.

-The day finally came. Ereck Flowers was benched, as he stood on the sideline chewing on sunflower seeds for the entire game. Chad Wheeler stepped in for him. As nice as it may have been to see someone other than #74 out there, the result was the same. He allowed 3 sacks, 1 TFL, and 2 pressures. To be honest, if that were Flowers we would be ripping him again. So yes, I’ll say Wheeler was just as bad and that RT spot continues to be a glaring weakness of this offense. However one thing I liked out of him, he consistently hustles downfield to make the extra block. He plays hard, but he was simply outclassed by JJ Watt when left alone against him. And it’s not going to get much easier this week against the Saints’ Cameron Jordan. Curious to see how he, and the blocking game plan, responds.

GUARDS/CENTER

-Best game of the young career for Will Hernandez. As we saw a glimpse of weeks 1 and 2, Hernandez excels when things are in front of him. I think this team is trying to simply get him on an island with a man as much as possible, and he can handle it power wise. There are still struggles with linebackers and stunts, but this was a step in the right direction for the 2nd rounder. Patrick Omameh also played much better than what we’ve seen early in the year. His run blocking was the best of the group and it’s game tapes like this that will get him a job over the next few years. He really was impressive against DL and LB. Another angle to the Flowers benching is that the communication appeared better with Wheeler in the few times HOU tried to stunt and/or delay their blitzes on the right side.

-John Greco, in his first start at OC, was solid. He wasn’t left alone often, but there was talk about how much of a handle he has on blocking schemes and roles with this group. Where this group was last week with communication and assignments compared to this game is night-and-day-different. Much of that could have come from Greco calling the shots.

EDGE

-As much as I think Kareem Martin is still a replacement-level player, he made a few things happen against the struggling HOU offensive line. Only Alec Ogletree played more snaps than Martin among front seven defenders. He had 4 pressures which led the team. It didn’t result in any sacks but he forced Watson into quick decisions a few times. He also broke up a pass.

-Lorenzo Carter finished with 2 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 pressure. His role continues to increase as Olivier Vernon remains sidelined via injury. Carter won’t turn into a savvy or powerful pass rusher this year, but that speed, burst, and pursuit will make things happen throughout the year.

-Connor Barwin has been impressive, especially considering he was signed just a few weeks ago. He added 2 pressures. While he doesn’t make a lot happen for the amount of time he is on the field, I like having him on the team as a backup. The question will be whether or not he stays in front of Carter on the depth chart once Vernon is back.

-Kerry Wynn had, what may have been, his best regular season game as a pro. Last week I called him out, saying his preseason level of play at some point needed to show up in the regular season. He responds with 5 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 pressure, a pass break up, and a forced fumble that was recovered by NYG in the 3rd quarter. He was all over the field and as I said in August, he may be the DL that benefits from this scheme the most. If this guy can play at that level all year, it can’t be said enough how important that can prove to be.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

-Damon Harrison, a nose tackle, led this team with 7 tackles (2 TFL). Damon Harrison played half of the defensive snaps. The Houston Texans ran the ball (via running backs) just 14 times the entire game. Let those 3 facts sit for a minute. Harrison is such a game changer and there isn’t a nose tackle like him in the game. He isn’t a space eater. He gets off blocks and pursues down the line as fast as everyone in that front seven. Enjoy this NYG fans, it doesn’t get better than him.

-Dalvin Tomlinson’s level of play is starting to catch up. It isn’t fair to compare anyone to Harrison, but Tomlinson was just as disruptive in this one. He was in on 4 tackles (1 for loss) and made a huge stop on the HOU attempt for 2 points in the 4th quarter. His consistency still leaves a little to be desired, but no complaints about the second year pro.

-Rookie BJ Hill saw a dip in playing time thanks to the emergence of Kerry Wynn. However he recorded his first sack on a play where his bull rush put fellow rookie Martinas Rankin on his butt. Big time power and push. I wouldn’t be alarmed by a lack of playing time because remember depth is key in the defensive trenches because at some point, someone(s) will go down.

-Mario Edwards saw an uptick in playing time and also recorded his first sack with NYG. It’s too soon to tell how much of an impact he will make here, but you have to be happy with his disruptive he’s been in limited action. Again, another solid scheme fit for the multi-look front.

LINEBACKERS

-Alec Ogletree turned in his best game of the young season as well. He had 5 tackles against an offense that didn’t run the ball much and when they did, they barely got by Harrison. He was stout and physical inside. He also came up with one of the biggest plays of the game, a 4th quarter interception in the end zone on an underthrown Watson pass to Lamar Miller. Much has been said about his struggles in coverage and he still had a couple of warts show up in this game, but that was a huge play from an inside linebacker that this team simply hasn’t gotten from that position in a long time.

-BJ Goodson and Ray-Ray Armstrong continued to split duties next to Ogletree. The combined for 4 tackles and a pass break up. Armstrong was flagged for a facemask penalty on a play where he sacked Watson, so that sack didn’t show up on the stat sheet. His speed to the edge is outstanding.

CORNERBACKS

-Janoris Jenkins was matched up against DeAndre Hopkins for much of the game, and it didn’t go so well. I wouldn’t put a negative grade next to his name, but he got outclassed across the middle three times and was flagged for a hold on a play where Hopkins blew past him vertically. That said, Hopkins is arguably the top WR in the game.

-No Eli Apple meant a game full of snaps for BW Webb, a late-free agency pickup who has played well here. He finished with 3 tackles and a pass break up. He too struggled against some of the lateral routes HOU ran with their speedsters, but he held his own in the couple times he was matched up on an island against deep routes.

-Donte Deayon finished with 4 tackles and a huge fumble recovery. Call it good luck if you want, but this kid gets around the ball often. I wasn’t surprised to see him being the one to land on the loose ball in the 3rd quarter. The kid is a hustler and has a nose for the action.

SAFETIES

-Landon Collins and Curtis Riley played every snap again. Collins had a solid game with 5 tackles, 1 TFL, and an impressive pass break up in the end zone where he showed outstanding awareness and ball skills. Riley, other than a bad missed tackle in the 3rd quarter, was solid in deep range coverage. He read Watson like a book on the few times he looked downfield.

-Michael Thomas saw extended playing time in passing situations. He is a solid presence to have out there because of how physical he can be against ball carriers on draw plays and/or screens.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas 2/2 (Made 44, 30). 3/3 XP. Rosas remains perfect on the young season and is putting them right down the middle.

-P Riley Dixon: 4 punts – 49.5 avg / 38.3 net. Not a great net average there, as he may have not been putting enough under the ball. HOU PR Tyler Ervin had too much space between him and the first defender a few times.

-KR/PR Stacy Coley, newly signed, bobbled but recovered his first punt. Quiet game besides that.

3 STUDS

-QB Eli Manning, DL Kerry Wynn, OG Patrick Omameh

3 DUDS

-WR Cody Latimer, OT Chad Wheeler, P Riley Dixon

3 THOUGHTS ON HOU

-Talk about a team that shoots itself in the foot. That has been the theme for HOU for a couple years now, none more so than what we have seen the past 2 weeks. Left tackle Julie’n Davenport and his THREE false starts + 1 holding penalty. Two bad turnovers in the second half when HOU was moving the ball and gaining momentum. The 0-3 Texans are going to be looking for a new head coach this upcoming offseason if this stuff doesn’t change.

-Calais Campbell in week 1. JJ Watt in week 3. These are two defensive linemen who came out of college who many did not know where to peg position-wise. Tall, long, and near-300 pounds with excellent power, bendability, and foot-quickness. They are now both in hybrid-front schemes where they are moved around and their impact is felt on almost every play. If this NYG scheme sticks around, there really is a lot of value on a defender like that. While the NYG defensive line looks promising for the next few years, this is the kind of player this scheme could use to maximum potential. And I already have a couple of prospects in mind for next spring’s draft.

-I am still holding out on calling Deshaun Watson one of the next big QBs in this league. So many were touting him as exactly that prior to this season based on a handful of solid performances in 2017, but I still see what I saw in college. Too many misfires on simple throws and a lack of awareness of what is going on around him in the pocket.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-As stated above, Chad Wheeler did not play well in this game. If it were Flowers, we would likely see fans outside of the Giants practice facility protesting his job. However the principle that Shurmur was finally the one to bench him is a welcome sign that this regime will quickly remove a player from the lineup who underperforms despite not having a lock to replace him. Now where do you go from here? Wheeler deserves to show if he can bring his play to another level like any young player, but if NYG continues to win and this spot continues to show weakness, it may be time to look into a trade for a veteran on a losing team. Joe Staley from SF is signed through 2019 and if the Niners season takes a nosedive without their starting QB, a phone call should be placed.

-The injury to Evan Engram is unfortunate. However with the way this team is put together, it may not have much of a negative impact. NYG will now have a true blocking TE in there at all times and as much as they are going to rely on the running game, it may actually be a better fit for the trenches. Considering the RT spot is going to need help, having Ellison or Simonson in there makes it easier to keep that extra blocker on that side. Where as when Engram is in there, the coaches have to feel like he needs to be running routes. My point is, his absence won’t be as negative overall as some are making out to be.

-This was one of the best versions of Eli Manning we have seen in a couple years. He played with some extra emotion, extra urgency, extra confidence. Offensive lines around the league rely on chemistry so much and the fact this group communicated much better in HOU was a very positive sign. If they can continue their upswing, this offense is incredibly dangerous.

Sep 242018
 
New York Giants Defense (September 23, 2018)

New York Giants Defense – © USA TODAY Sports

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NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY UPDATE…
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram sprained the MCL in right knee during the team’s win over the Houston Texans on Sunday. Media sources speculate he could be out several weeks.

“Evan Engram has got a knee, we’ll have to just see where he’s at,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “We’ll just have to see how it progresses…We’re just waiting to see how extensive it might be.”

Shurmur was asked about injuries to running back Saquon Barkley (knee) and nose tackle Damon Harrison (unknown). “Just normal wear-and-tear, but I think Snacks is going to be fine and certainly Saquon is sore,” responded Shurmur. “When he has as much activity as he’s going to have, he’s going to have some soreness, but he’s OK.”

MONDAY PAT SHURMUR CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants Head Coach Pat Shurmur addressed the media by conference call on Monday to discuss the team’s 27-22 victory over the Houston Texans:

Opening Remarks: Let me first start with injuries that we know about. Evan Engram has got a knee, we’ll have to just see where he’s at. Just normal kind of post-game stuff, but we saw that he got hurt on that one pass catch down the sideline. That’s the injury of note right there, and then aside from that, just the normal wear-and-tear after a game. We’ll just have to see where everybody is from there. If you’ve got specific questions, I’ll try to (answer) them other than getting into it.

Again, it was a great victory for our guys. I told our team if we just keep focusing on being a team and being tough and being gritty and caring, which means you work to get better, then I think we can build on this. I encouraged them that even though it was more painful to go through the mistake-correcting after two losses, I think it’s equally important to go through it with the same amount of detail after a win. Then we, as a team, will get better.

There were a lot of good things, I thought the good news is early on we were able to score some points. On the first drive, they got a field goal, which was good. Really, the big play there was (Deshaun Watson) getting outside the pocket and kind of hitting a check down on the move that got the ball down the field into field goal range. I thought we did a good job in the red zone on defense, and same thing on offense. We got our scores, we were able to get a lead going into halftime.

I thought in the second half we did not play as well on offense early in the third quarter. On defense, we sort of allowed them to move the ball but the two key plays were certainly the turnovers that kept them out of the end zone, and then at the end of the game we were able to kind of muster a drive there to make it a two score game again, which is super important in this league, because you can see at the end of the game in kind of a two-minute type coverage, teams can find the way down the field. I thought special teams contributed, we obviously don’t want to have that punt that got tipped, and that certainly is one thing we’ve got to clean up. But I thought the special teams contributions was a winning effort. I was just happy for our guys to get it pushed over the top. So, I’ll take your questions.

Q: Evan Engram, there is a report he had a right MCL sprain. I assume he’s going into an MRI today. Is that encouraging news?

A: Yeah, I mean, it’s a knee. I think that’s accurate, but we’ll just have to see how it progresses.

Q: I was just trying to clarify if that was coming off of the MRI today or just on initial diagnosis?

A: No, we’re just waiting to see how extensive it might be. That’s all.

Q: On Damon Harrison (Snacks) and Saquon Barkley’s possible injuries – sometimes the day after, a knee like that can cause you to get sore:

A: Just normal wear-and-tear, but I think Snacks is going to be fine and certainly Saquon is sore. When he has as much activity as he’s going to have, he’s going to have some soreness, but he’s OK.

Q: Did Saquon show you anything by taking that first hit? He limps off but he came back in a couple plays later, finishes that drive himself in the end zone, and the day he had. Does that show you something about a rookie doing that?

A: Yeah, he’s everything that we thought he would be to this point. He shows up on game day. He really, when you see it up close and personal, you see the way he’s into it and how competitive his spirit is, and how he wants to compete and get the ball in his hands. There’s a reason why he’s got a chance to be a really good player for a very long time.

Q: Did you have any problem with the hits on both Engram and Barkley. There have been some questions on whether they were legal hits or not? Did you have any issues with those?

A: No, I think that’s part of playing football. When you’re running with the football, you have to protect yourself and certainly when you’re getting tackled by defensive backs, then we had another low tackle on (Sterling Shepard) on a naked, you’ve just got to be able to protect yourself. Their style of tackling was to go low. Guys running with the ball have to be able to protect themselves.

Q: It looks like you were able to achieve balance on offense — 27 runs, 29 pass attempts. How important was that for you coming into this game, especially after the lopsidedness the first two weeks?

A: Yeah, I think balance is a weekly thing. I think it’s important to call run plays but also when you call them, you have to gain yards. I think that’s important, because ultimately, you want to score points. In some games, it’s 60-40 runs, and some games it’s 60-40 pass, and some games it’s 50-50, and some games you’ve got to throw your way into it if you get behind. The way that game played out, and the way that we were able to get a lead early in the game, and our defense did a nice job of keeping them off the scoreboard for most of the game, then you’re able to continue to run the ball, which I think is important because then all the other play actions – boots and nakeds and all that – are much more meaningful. So, a long-winded answer, that balance was achieved last night, but I think it could be different each game depending on how the game plays out.

Q: John Greco steps in at center and he’s played for you at a couple different spots before. Did his familiarity with you and your offense and the system, did that make a positive difference in a game like yesterday? Did that help your offense operate more efficiently?

A: I think so. I think there’s no substitute for experience, especially as an offensive lineman. The ‘been there, done that before’ idea is hugely important, and that’s why veteran players especially in the offensive line can have an impact, especially if they come in sort of a backup role or filling in for an injured player. Yeah, I think that had something to do with it.

Q: Can you talk about Kerry Wynn’s game? He seemed very disruptive.

A: I thought Kerry was outstanding. He had five tackles, he had one special teams tackle, he had two assists, he forced a fumble, he had a pass breakup, one quarterback hit, and one quarterback pressure. I mentioned that Eli (Manning) had a pretty good day at the office. That’s a pretty darn good day at the office as well. Kerry is long, he’s kind of a relentless player, he’s tough, he’s all the things you’re looking for – he’s tough, he cares, he works, and he finds a way to make plays. That certainly was an outstanding performance on his part.

Q: For all that Eli Manning has done in his career, do you think he needed a day like yesterday?

A: I don’t know. I don’t know that. Listen, I believe in him, and our quarterback needs to know that we believe in him. We know that he’s got that in him, and the thing I like about Eli – and I appreciate this about anybody – at some point in this game, you don’t win all the time, and at some point you take a punch, and Eli can take them and keep playing. I think that’s the thing that even before I knew Eli, as much winning as he was involved with here all those years, I always admired the fact that he just stays the course and keeps playing with the idea that tomorrow is going to be a better day if today isn’t such a good one. I admire that. That’s really the most important thing, toughness and grit. You can be smart, you can be well-dressed, you can be well-spoken, but at the end of the day and it’s absolutely demanded in our sport, is your ability to be tough and gritty. Those are the attributes in people and especially in football players that is an absolute necessity in our business.

Q: Saquon mentioned that before the game yesterday, there was just a different feeling about things, a different vibe, a good energy. Odell said the same thing, he said he didn’t think the guys were playing like “oh no, we’re 0-2, we can’t go 0-3” – they just went out and played ball. What do you attribute to the tone being set in that way? Is that you staying the course, or do you think there are players who set that tone? How did you see that develop in the week in such a big game for you guys?

A: I think it’s an organizational message of just shutting out the noise, and it’s equally important this week. I don’t read it, I don’t listen to it, and if I have to hear it or answer the questions to it, it’s not something that we concern ourselves with. The 0-2 and ‘what does 0-3 mean’, to their credit, they shut all that out and went out and played hard. That needs to be the approach every week. You’ve got to turn your back on the pats on the back, too and just keep moving. Then we’ll add them up at the end.

Q: When you watch the tape, what was (Chad Wheeler’s) performance like? Some good, some bad?

A: Here’s what Wheeler did, he did a really good job, I thought, in the run game against a really unpredictable player. I thought he did a good job, and he finished blocks. When you watch him play, you say there’s a guy who’s finishing blocks and doing those things. I’m going to take responsibility for it, a couple times he got stretched out and just pure one-on-one (pass protection) against (J.J. Watt), and I can’t put him in those positions as many times as I did, but he battled and in my opinion, even though he got beat on a couple of snaps, I thought he had a winning performance.

Q: Any optimism on Olivier Vernon being available this week?

A: Better. I just happened to see him running around outside my window here, so we’ll just have to see. I think we’ll consider him day to day and see how far he can come with it. He’s making progress, he hasn’t had any setbacks, and we just all know that these high ankle sprains take time.

Q: Eli Apple as well?

A: Same. He was out there running around as well. At some point here later this afternoon, (Ronnie Barnes) will come back with some of what he thinks moving forward, but they were both out there working out and kind of getting their normal rehab and running. They were both running, so we’ll just have to see how far along they can come.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts of the conference call media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum:

NOTES…

  • Quarterback Eli Manning completed 25 of 29 passes for 297 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. His 86.2 completion percentage was the second-highest of his career.
  • Manning’s two touchdown passes increased his career total to 342, tying him with Pro Football Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton for seventh on the NFL’s all-time list.
  • Running back Saquon Barkley rushed for 82 yards on 17 carries and caught five passes for 35 yards to give him 117 yards from scrimmage. He is the first player in Giants history with more than 100 scrimmage yards in each of his first three career games.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players are off on Tuesday and return to practice on Wednesday.

Sep 232018
 
Rhett Ellison, New York Giants (September 23, 2018)

Rhett Ellison – © USA TODAY Sports

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NEW YORK GIANTS 27 – HOUSTON TEXANS 22…
The New York Giants may have saved their season on Sunday with a 27-22 victory over the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston. It was the team’s first win on the season and the Giants are now 1-2.

Some drama began before the game was even played as it was revealed that the Giants had benched right tackle Ereck Flowers for Chad Wheeler. The Giants will also have to hold their breath as tight end Evan Engram left the game with a knee injury and he will undergo an MRI on Monday.

Statistically, the game was pretty even. The Texans out-gained the Giants in total net yards 427 to 379 and both teams accrued 21 first downs. But the Giants won the turnover battle 2-0 and were 3-of-4 (75 percent) in red zone opportunities. The Giants also held the ball 10 minutes more than the Texans as the Giants out-gained them in rushing yards 114 to 59.

The Texans received the ball to start the game. They drove the ball 69 yards in 11 plays to set up a 23-yard field goal. To the defense’s credit, they held Houston to three points after they had set up a 1st-and-goal from the 5-yard line.

The Giants responded with a 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 15-yard touchdown run by running back Saquon Barkley. Quarterback Eli Manning kept the possession alive with two 3rd-down conversions to his wideouts. The Giants forced a three-and-out on the Texans’ second possession and the Giants added to their lead with a 44-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas after a 9-play, 58-yard drive. Giants 10 – Texans 3.

The Giants’ defense kept up the pressure on the Texans’ third possession, causing another three-and-out. The Giants then had their third scoring drive in a row by driving 64 yards in 10 plays to set up Rosas from 30 yards out. Big plays on the drive included a 19-yard catch by tight end Evan Engram and a 24-yard run by Saquon Barkley. Houston again went three-and-out and the Giants appeared to take firm control of the game with a 6-play, 71-yard drive that included a 17-yard pass to wide receiver Sterling Shepard, a 30-yard pass to wide receiver Odell Beckham, and a 16-yard touchdown pass to tight end Rhett Ellison. Giants 20 – Texans 3 with the Giants scoring on all four of their first-half possessions.

The Texans did manage to add three points right before halftime by driving the ball 65 yards in nine plays to set up a 28-yard field goal with no time left on the clock.

At the half, the Giants led 20-6.

The game got uncomfortably tight in the second half as the Giants’ offense was shut down for most of the rest of the game. The Giants were held to three first downs and 30 yards on their first four drives of the half, all ending with punts. Houston also cut into the lead again on their first possession in the 3rd quarter with a 54-yard field goal.

New York’s defense kept the game from getting tighter by forcing two turnovers. Defensive end Kerry Wynn forced a fumble that was recovered by cornerback Donte Deayon at the Giants’ 25-yard line. But Houston drove the ball deep again on their subsequent possession, reaching the Giants’ 8-yard line before a penalty and sack by defensive end B.J. Hill pushed the ball back to the 25-yard line. Then inside linebacker Alex Ogletree made an athletic interception in the end zone, resulting in a touchback.

After yet another three-and-out by the Giants, Houston drove 67 yards in seven plays with quarterback Deshaun Watson throwing a 6-yard touchdown pass with under eight minutes to play. The Texans failed on their 2-point conversion and the Giants led 20-15.

At this critical moment in the ball game, the New York offense finally came back to life. Manning threw a 23-yard pass to Shepard, a 17-yard pass to Ellison, and a 21-yard pass to Barkley. Three plays later, on 3rd-and-goal, Manning found Shepard over the middle for a 7-yard touchdown. The Giants now led 27-15 with just over two minutes to play. The Texans did make the game appear tighter than it was late by scoring one final touchdown with one second left.

Offensively, Manning finished the game 25-of-29 for 297 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions for a 132.3 quarterback rating. His top targets were Beckham (9 catches for 109 yards) and Shepard (7 catches for 80 yards and a touchdown). Barkley gained 82 rushing yards and one touchdown on 17 carries and also caught three passes for 35 yards.

Defensively, the Giants held what had been the League’s #1 rushing attack to 59 yards, with Houston running backs only gaining 23 yards on 14 carries (the other 36 yards were by the quarterback). The Giants also picked up three sacks, one each by Hill, linebacker Lorenzo Carter, and defensive lineman Mario Edwards. Wynn had a strong game with five tackles, a tackle for a loss, a pass defense, and a forced fumble.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle), cornerback Eli Apple (groin), wide receiver Kaelin Clay (ankle), quarterback Kyle Lauletta, center Evan Brown, cornerback Michael Jordan, and safety Kamrin Moore.

Tight end Evan Engram left the game with a knee injury and did not return. He was wearing a knee brace after the game will undergo an MRI on his knee on Monday. “We don’t know how bad it is yet,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “We’ll just have to see.”

Running back Saquon Barkley (knee) left the game but returned.

Cornerback Antonio Hamilton injured his groin in warm-ups.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Pat Shurmur and the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Pat Shurmur (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • WR Odell Beckham, Jr. (Video)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (Video)
  • TE Rhett Ellison (Video)
  • LG Will Hernandez (Video)
  • LB Alec Ogletree (Video)
  • S Landon Collins (Video)
Sep 212018
 
Eli Apple, New York Giants (May 21, 2018)

Eli Apple – © USA TODAY Sports

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NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT – ELI APPLE AND OLIVIER VERNON OUT…
Not practicing on Friday due to injury were linebacker Olivier Vernon (high ankle sprain) and cornerback Eli Apple (groin). Both have officially been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans.

Tight end Evan Engram (ankle), wide receiver Kaelin Clay (ankle), and linebacker Connor Barwin (knee) fully practiced. All three are expected to play on Sunday.

THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the New York Giants on Saturday. The team plays the Texans in Houston on Sunday afternoon.

Sep 212018
 
Evan Engram, New York Giants (September 9, 2018)

Evan Engram – © USA TODAY Sports

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Game Preview: New York Giants at Houston Texans, September 23, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
Dramatic mood swings by football pundits, media, and fans are as old as the game itself. One minute the sky is falling; the next “we’re going to the Super Bowl!” So I’m a little wary about making definitive judgments about an 0-2 team with a new general manager, new coaching staff, new offensive and defensive systems, and massive roster turnover. After all, this team was never going to seriously challenge for a title run in 2018. The best that could be expected of a what had been an atrocious 3-13 team is that it improved to the 9-7 range. Expecting more than that was simply unrealistic.

But I’m worried. The first game against the Jaguars was a “respectable loss,” but the second game was a huge red flag. The Cowboys are not a good team. And yet they dominated the Giants. Thus far, this team looks no different than the 3-13 mess from 2017. The Giants not only can’t score 30 points in a game, they can’t score a total of 30 points in two games. And this is on the team with the highest-paid wide receiver in NFL history and the highest-paid rookie running back in NFL history? The Giants have the look of a car with a souped-up engine but rusted-out chassis.

It’s beginning to dawn on fans what some warned about in the offseason: that ownership made a massive strategic mistake in ONCE AGAIN believing this team only needing a bit of tweaking in order to contend. Firing Ben McAdoo, Jerry Reese, and Marc Ross were the right moves, but did the Giants hire the right replacements or simply “yes men” who would not rock the boat and re-evaluate EVERYTHING in how the team was being run? Did John Mara draw the wrong conclusions in not understanding that fans were upset HOW Eli Manning was benched rather than WHY? Did he foolishly bow to fan pressure and decide that Eli was untouchable moving forward?

Let’s take a step back here and look at the big picture. The Giants are not going to the playoffs in 2018. Eli Manning will be entering the last year of his current contract in 2019 at the age of 38. The guy Reese and McAdoo drafted to replace him in the 3rd round of the 2017 draft was cut this month. Unless you have a tremendous amount of confidence and faith in the future Alex Tanny or Kyle Lauletta, the Giants are in deep shit at the quarterback position. Will it surprise anyone if they draft a QB with a top-5 pick in April? I would argue now that it is to be expected. So is 2019 now also going to be a “wasted” season, Eli’s farewell tour, while his 1st-round replacement sits for a year? Shouldn’t that have been done this year?

What I’m trying to get at is that a franchise that “wasted” the last 7-8 years of Eli’s career in New York is now wasting Odell Beckham’s first 7-8 years. And will we be having the same conversation about Saquon Barkley in five years? Where is this franchise going? What’s the plan? I don’t see it.

I hate writing this shit. I hate being 0-2 again. I hate looking at the prospect of the season being over by October again. I’m tired of it. This isn’t fun. If the team were building towards something, it would be more tolerable. But as I posted on the site earlier this week, this has the feel of a movie we’ve seen before. If the team keeps losing, watch the injury list begin to grow.

The Giants desperately need a win. To stop the bleeding. To give the team and its fans some confidence. To inspire some hope and belief that there is some direction and this team can still make some noise in the current season. There is a world of difference between 1-2 and 0-3. The season is on the brink.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Kaelin Clay (ankle – probable)
  • TE Evan Engram (ankle – probable)
  • LB Olivier Vernon (ankle – out)
  • LB Connor Barwin (knee – probable)
  • CB Eli Apple (groin – out)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a team with so many credible weapons be so inept. The Giants are doing the impossible. A team with Odell Beckham, Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepard can only score one touchdown per game. (Even more startling when you consider that the first TD came off one play, and the second was a garbage-time affair). Most of us understood that the offensive line would be the Achilles’ heal of offense again, but not to this extent. These guys look worse than last year’s train wreck. Worse, there is absolutely NOTHING behind the five struggling starters. The cupboard is bare and there are no reinforcements walking around out there on the street. Enter J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus. Yikes.

As is ALWAYS the case when a team struggles, the quarterback has become the lightning rod. That will never change. And it comes with the job description so both the quarterback and his hyper-sensitive supporters need to get over it. I love Eli. He’s the best QB in franchise history. But he’s been a losing QB now for four of the last five years in a league filled with mediocre teams and quarterbacks. His defenders will charge that no quarterback could operate behind this line (and they could be 100 percent correct), while his critics will assert that the Giants have hooked their wagon to a QB who has to have everything perfect in order to succeed. The truth most likely lays somewhere in the middle. What we do know is that outcomes are not pretty and Eli’s career is ending in a very ugly fashion.

There are those who claim it can’t get worse. Imagine Eli being carted off of the field and Alex Tanney hurriedly warming up on the sidelines.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
With some justification, many will say the Giants’ defense hasn’t been a problem. After all, they held the Jaguars to 13 offensive points and the Cowboys to 20. Unlike the offense, the defense has been respectable. But they need to do more. They need to create more game-changing plays: tackles for losses, sacks, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries, interceptions. Create superior field position for a struggling offense. For the second week in a row, we saw some disappointing trends developing: lack of game-changing plays, run defense that hasn’t been as good as expected, and costly breakdowns by their #1 corner. Olivier Vernon is still out. And now Eli Apple is hurt. This team still hasn’t faced a truly dynamic offense yet, one that can seriously test what is likely a weak secondary.

For the third week in a row, the Giants will be challenged by an elite-level running game (averaging almost 160 yards rushing) and a quarterback who can hurt you with his feet. But quarterback Deshaun Watson can also hurt you with his arm. And he has wideout DeAndre Hopkins to throw to. Janoris Jenkins had better get his early-game struggles out of his system because Hopkins can embarrass him. And with Eli Apple out, the match-up of B.W. Webb or Donte Deayon against Will Fuller looks problematic.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Knock on wood for the second week in a row, but the special teams have being holding up their end of the bargain. The next step forward would be to make a game-changing play: a blocked kick, a converted fake, a return for a score.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Pat Shurmur on the offensive struggles: “We just have to make sure we get the ball in the end zone in the first half, that’s just it. We find a way to drive the ball a little bit, get stalled out on third down – we have to make sure we can’t get stopped third and inches, fourth and inches. We have to get the first down, keep the drive alive, and then find a way to get some big plays.”

THE FINAL WORD:
Well, I was as wrong as could be with last week’s prediction. That Dallas loss took the wind out of my sails. Until they prove otherwise, I don’t trust this team. The offense is still a dysfunctional mess. The line can’t run or pass block so Odell and Saquon are literally being wasted. The secondary has the feel of a house of cards that has been protected thus far by the lack of quality of the opposition. If this team goes 0-3, the media and fans will quickly turn on team management.