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New York Giants 41 – Washington Redskins 35 (OT)
After missing two games with an ankle injury, Daniel Jones got his first NFC East road start in Washington against the equally unimpressive 3-11 Redskins. They too were trotting out their 2019 first round quarterback, Dwayne Haskins, who got his first NFL action against the Giants all the way back in week 4. While this game obviously had zero playoff implications, this had been unofficially labeled the “Chase Young Bowl” as the two teams were lined up back-to-back in the 2020 NFL Draft order with the loser grabbing ahold of the #2 spot. More on that later.
For a game that almost nobody outside of the WAS and NYG markets cared about, it was woefully entertaining early on. Jones, on his first drive back from injury, went 3/3 and ended it with a 23-yard pitch-and-catch score to Sterling Shepard. Haskins responded with a 9-play drive of his own that ended with a scramble and short toss to undrafted rookie Steven Sims, Jr. to tie the game.
Saquon Barkley, who we saw run with different life last week in NYG’s win over MIA, took the first carry of the next drive for 8 yards. It was a positive sign considering he had rushed for 33 yards on 2 carries on the Giants’ first possession. What happened next was another feather in the cap for arguably the most talented back in the league despite a rough year. Barkley went right, made two adjustments, broke 2 tackles, and outran the entire WAS defense (in which 2 defenders had the angle) for a 67-yard score. It was the run we had been missing for most of the year. As the 2020 offseason approaches, it is something we can know, with proof, still exists in his game and that the 2019 debacle wasn’t about him.
Haskins and the dead-last ranked WAS offense marched out onto the field and responded with a smooth, simple-looking 12-play drive that ended in another score. This time, Haskins hit undrafted rookie tight end Hale Hentges for the short score. Haskins began the game 8/8 – 72 yards – 2 TD.
As the second quarter began, Jones and the NYG offense showed no signs of slowing down and made it a third straight touchdown scoring drive as he found Barkley running up the seam all by himself for the 33-yard passing score. Barkley, who I have been pounding the table for in regard to getting him out in space as a receiver, was on his way to a career game and it had that feel early on in the 2nd quarter with a lot of football left. The first five series of the game all ended in touchdowns, a first in the history of the NFL.
The game slowed down a tad as the teams traded punts on three straight possessions. The Giants got one last possession in the first half starting at their own 27-yard line with just over 2 minutes left. On 2nd-and-10, Jones was tripped up as he escaped the pocket and fell to the ground. It was a sack, however the refs were late to blow the whistle and WAS linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton launched himself at Jones, who was on a knee, creating the first fracas of the game between the division rivals. After all was sorted out, NYG was given 15 yards and a first down. Former Giant Landon Collins was sought out by Barkley and Shepard for a dirty move in which he pulled down Kaden Smith to the ground from behind.
On the very next play, Jones hit Golden Tate for a 31-yard gain. Two plays later he threw a perfect ball to Cody Latimer in the end zone but it went right through his fingers. Jones, who has shown maturation beyond his years all season, found Latimer two plays later in front of the goal line and the 6-year vet who weighs in at 223 pounds drove his way and defenders into the end zone for the touchdown. NYG took a 28-14 lead into the half.
As has been the case for much of the year, this game was a tale of two halves. On the opening play of the second half, Haskins was sandwiched on a sack between Lorenzo Carter and Markus Golden. He was bent around awkwardly and was soon after carted off. Two plays later, Morgan Moses went down with his own injury and WAS, the most injured team in football over the past three seasons, had the look of a team that simply wanted to throw up the white flag and get out of there. Case Keenum, the week 1 starter for WAS, was back to face off against his former QB coach, Pat Shurmur. Ironically, many say Keenum’s performance in 2017 was the reason why Shurmur eventually got offered the HC job in NY.
On Keenum’s first full drive as the signal caller, WAS drove down the field and put up 7 more points for WAS. It was interesting to see the rookie WAS pass catchers against the rookie NYG defensive backs. Clear advantage went to the offense as they couldn’t seem to contain Sims who caught his second touchdown of the day.
The lone NYG second half touchdown came on an impressive 9-yard toss to rookie tight end Kaden Smith, who has been making a name for himself to say the least. The score was 35-21 at the start of the fourth quarter but WAS kept on hanging around as the NYG offense fluttered while ignoring Barkley with the lead. Riley Dixon had a punt blocked, setting WAS up at the NYG 17-yard line. Two plays later, the ageless Adrian Peterson scored a 1-yard touchdown to put him fourth on the all-time rushing touchdown list.
After another scoreless drive by NYG, WAS began their last drive of regulation from their own 1-yard line. A backup QB, 3 rookie receivers, a non-threat in the backfield, 3 backup offensive linemen, and a 3rd-string tight end on the 32nd-ranked offense in the NFL. That is whom the NYG defense was up against. 14 plays later, WAS crossed the goal line via a 1-yard run by Keenum.
NYG did have 30 seconds left and Pat Shurmur sent Aldrick Rosas out for a 62-yard field goal before changing his mind, having Jones throw a Hail Mary. His toss came up about 7 yards short and the game went into overtime.
NYG won the coin toss, obviously electing to take the ball. It was the Jones-Shepard-Barkley show as only those three touched the ball for the first 10 plays of their drive. Those 10 plays took them to the WAS 3-yard line on 3rd down. Jones then found Smith for his second score of the game and NYG took their second win in as many weeks.
NYG win 41-35.
-Daniel Jones: 28/42 – 352 yards – 5 TD / 0 INT / 132.1 RAT. It was a historic day for Jones. He is only the third rookie QB in NFL history with 3+ games of 4+ TD. He set the NYG rookie passing TD record. He is the first ever rookie to pass for 350+ yards and 5 TD in the same game. He was on the money from the start and to see that after missing two games with an ankle injury puts another feather in the toughness-cap. Jones was on fire within the intermediate route tree and he spread the ball out plenty. His ball is so clean out of his hands and it adds some zip to his passes. Two negatives were (1) on five different occasions, it looked like Jones was late to see and anticipate throwing lanes, and (2) the lack of true downfield arm strength showed up on that Hail Mary attempt. Neither are a big deal but just worth noting. Excellent game for Jones on so many levels and this was a big deal for his QB maturation.
-Saquon Barkley: 22 att / 189 yards / 1 TD – 4 rec / 90 yards / 1 TD. We talked last week about Barkley getting 25+ touches and how much it means to this team winning. While there is more to it than that simple fact, it is amazing what this offense can look like when he is clicking. Barkley’s explosion and speed are fully back and he is back to breaking tackles nearly every time he gets the ball. Now, lets see what he looks like against a very motivated and stingy PHI defense. Career game for #26.
-Golden Tate: 6 rec / 96 yards. Tate led the team with 11 targets. I have to confirm this before stating it as fact but I believe Tate has been targeted more times per game than any NYG pass catcher. I think he can be an important player for this team next year as he and Jones clearly have a connection, notably on 3rd down.
-Sterling Shepard: 6 rec / 76 yards / 1 TD. Strong day for Shepard, as he caught all 6 of his targets and came down with the big TD catch on the opening drive. The underneath-only threat to this point in his career has made a habit of making the tough catch in traffic, which I believe could lengthen his career when his young twitch/explosion starts to decrease over the years.
-Cody Latimer: 5 rec / 44 yards / 1 TD. The 5 catches were a career high for Latimer, who if you remember finished strong in 2018 week 17 vs DAL. I still think Latimer is a good player to have on the back end of a roster. He is a professional who plays strong and tough. He did drop a TD pass just two plays prior to his score.
-Kaden Smith: 6 rec / 35 yards / 2 TD. Smith’s two touchdowns came after halftime and while they were big plays, his biggest impact was in the running game. Smith was a key component to Barkley going off and there is a credible discussion to be had here. Does Smith and his presence in the trenches offer more to an offense built around Barkley than Engram? I don’t lean either way right now but a case can be made for both sides.
-The best grade we have seen from Nate Solder all year. He was excellent in this one against a trio of pass rushers who have made plenty of impact this year and in the past against NYG. Mike Remmers was solid on the other side until he got hurt. In stepped the trustworthy Nick Gates, who is showing excellent versatility and assurance when it comes to NYG building a deep offensive line for 2020. It is amazing what happens to an offense when the OL is stable, particularly outside.
-Kevin Zeitler returned after missing last week and I could tell he really wanted to be out there. There was some extra pep in his step and he made some key impact blocks on the big Barkley runs.
-Will Hernandez had the lowest grade along the OL, but even that wasn’t an awful game. He was pretty average and similar to what he has been all year. He allowed a pressure and a TFL. Center Jon Halapio also allowed a TFL and a pressure. He remains overly stiff and slow out there against lateral pass rushers.
-Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter were up against two low end tackles in the second half (after RT Moses went down) and they clearly took over. Golden finished with a half-sack and 3 pressures to go along with 5 tackles. Man, this guy made some serious money with his play in 2019. Carter had his best game of his young career. He had 4 tackles / 1.5 sacks / 5 pressures / 1 pass break up. He did it from both sides and was all over the place. While I can’t go into the offseason with confidence he can be built around, the fact he is flashing here and there is a positive sign in that he can, at least, be a solid rotational guy with elite tools.
-Leonard Williams, whether you hated or loved the trade, has been making his case to get the long-term deal that is sure to be debated here in the coming weeks. Even though it has mostly been against poor OL, Williams has been making a difference, plain and simple. He finished with 3 tackles and 2 pressures and was outstanding against the run. He was both stout and rangy, cutting off the lanes away from the intended target of the RB so there wouldn’t be any innovation that turned into big plays. You really have to zero in on him to appreciate all that he does right and his physical tools that everybody loved coming out of USC.
-Dalvin Tomlinson finished with 2 tackles, both of which were for a loss, and B.J. Hill had a sack. Dexter Lawrence had 2 tackles / 1 TFL and looks his best when lined up over the center. He is so stout but also athletic enough to reach and cut off the “B” gaps. His consistency snap to snap when it comes to leverage and hand usage still leaves a lot to be desired, though.
-Alec Ogletree tweaked his back before the game began. This opened the door for Deone Bucannon to get a season-high 76% of the snaps. He played well, finishing with 7 tackles, 1 pressure, and I am pretty sure he forced the near-fumble on Keenum at the end of the 4th quarter. Had that been a turnover at that point in the game, he could have easily been labeled the hero. Not sure where he stands on this team down the road, but he has played pretty well in his opportunities.
-David Mayo tied for the team lead in tackles with 10 and was on the field for every defensive snap.
-The young NYG corners got a little beat up in this one. Deandre Baker did have 10 tackles but that was largely a result of him being targeted often and allowing catches. He was also flagged for a pass interference that led WAS to the goal line where they scored on the very next play. He also lost outside contain on a couple occasions which we have seen too many times this year. Confidence wise, I still see Baker playing faster but he clearly isn’t there yet.
-Corey Ballentine was torched in this one. Again, I just can’t see the fit at nickel with him because he is the kind of corner that needs the sideline to use as a boundary. He allowed 2 touchdowns and was flagged on a 4th-and-goal incomplete pass because of a blatant pass interference. If he simply turned his head to locate the ball, it would have been an easy pass breakup. He has been a major weakness in his rookie year and had this been an important game, he would be getting roasted today.
-Sam Beal finished with 6 tackles and, in my opinion, looked the best in coverage all things considered. One thing I see with him too is the attention to detail on his run-defense assignments. He is almost always where he needs to be and he caused a TFL that stemmed from maintaining his outside leverage. He did go down with a neck injury late in the game but returned.
-Antoine Bethea made a couple nice open field tackles but also allowed a touchdown to a 4th-string, blocking tight end and missed 2 tackles on the day.
-Julian Love finished with 7 tackles but whiffed twice and was beat on 3rd down a couple of times.
-K Aldrick Rosas: 5/5 XP – 0/1 FG (Missed 57). Man I wish we could have seen him go for the 62 yarder to win the game.
-P Riley Dixon: 3 Punts / 45.0 avg / 33.8 avg. He had one called back because of a Michael Thomas hold which then turned into his next attempt getting blocked.
-QB Daniel Jones, RB Saquon Barkley, EDGE Lorenzo Carter
-CB Corey Ballentine, OG Will Hernandez, S Antoine Bethea
3 THOUGHTS ON WAS
- The positive side of things for WAS centers around their QB. I’ve seen all of Haskins’ snaps this year. He did start off poorly, there was no questioning it. However ,this first half against NYG and the previous week against a motivated PHI defense was some of the best football we have seen out of a rookie QB in the league this year. He has been on steady incline since October and a lot now comes down to hard he works in the offseason. His biggest issue? Poor footwork. His biggest positive? Accuracy.
- With that said, being as unbiased as I can be, I don’t think WAS is in a better position moving forward than NYG. Especially if they lose Trent Williams long term, which appears to be the case (get on that NYG). They need 2 or 3 OL, they need a RB, they need depth along the DL, and they need a corner or two. Same can be said for the amount of holes on NYG’s team but the talent they have in place is a tier under what NYG has. Plus, Dan Snyder is their owner.
- Landon Collins signed with WAS last offseason. The 6 year / $84 million deal was way beyond what NYG was willing to offer and as much as I liked Collins, he was never worth that. Many NYG fans are conditioned to complain when the team doesn’t sign a homegrown talent in free agency but watching him all year and watching him in this game especially confirmed that it was one of Dave Gettleman’s right decisions in letting him walk. It was fitting that he was the one that allowed the touchdown in overtime to seal the WAS loss.
3 CLOSING THOUGHTS
- I want to address the argument that fans should be cheering for this team to lose. The desire for a higher draft pick is something of fantasy land. This is a stretch of NYG football that has unfortunately left some fans conditioned to losing and reading through mock drafts and checking for future free agents for months. It fills the void that used to be filled by winning football. But I will bring this to my grave: rooting for losses to enhance a draft position is downright foolish and goes against what you want this team to do. Yes, you may get a better player if you are picking higher in the draft but don’t fall into the trap that it will bring this team back to playoff contention. The best teams, year after year, are NOT the ones picking at the top of the draft. The best players in the NFL are NOT the ones taken at the top of the draft. Repeated winning is built on culture, not top draft picks. Culture is built via winning games, even the mislabeled “meaningless” games at the end of the year. That performance by Daniel Jones, the offensive line, the pass rush, Saquon Barkley…etc is a positive step in their respective progressions. If you are still hell-bent on this team NEEDING to pick #2 overall, go take a look at the top 10 picks over the past decade. And see if you can convince yourself that the #2 overall pick was a difference maker over the guys taken in the next 5-6 picks.
- There is going to be a tough decision for NYG in regard to their edge rusher hole once the offseason comes. First of all, what scheme are you playing? Second, as well as Golden played, what if a better option becomes available via free agency? I think Golden is good but I don’t think he is in the first or second tier of edge rushers. The name I keep coming back to is JAC edge rusher Yannick Ngakou. I would rather pay him tier 1 money than Golden tier 2 money, but I know a case can be made either way.
- Are the Giants OK at cornerback? There is young talent and we have seen Baker and Beal flash especially. However, I think there are questions with both and two guys aren’t enough for a strong secondary. I’ve seen the neglect of CB just ruin teams over the years and there will be one, maybe 2 corners in the draft with top 5 grades. You have to understand the importance of a true shutdown corner in this game and I think NYG has a strong shot at one of those guys in April.