Oct 312023
 
Matt Barkley, New York Giants (August 19, 2023)

Matt Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants have made the following six roster moves:

  • Signed QB Tommy DeVito to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad.
  • Terminated contract of WR/Returner Gunner Olszewski from the 53-man roster and re-signed him to the Practice Squad. (two transactions)
  • Signed QB Matt Barkley to the Practice Squad.
  • Signed CB Stantley Thomas-Oliver to the Practice Squad.
  • Terminated the Practice Squad contract of OL Jaylon Thomas.

The 33-year old, 6’2”, 227-pound Barkley was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. The well-travelled Barkley has spent time with the Eagles (2013–2015), Arizona Cardinals (2015-2016, 2017), Chicago Bears (2016), San Francisco 49ers (2017), Cincinnati Bengals (2018), Buffalo Bills (2018-2020, 2022-2023), Tennessee Titans (2021), Carolina Panthers (2021), and Atlanta Falcons (2021). Barkley has played in 19 regular-season games with seven starts, completing 212-of-363 passing attempts for 2,699 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 22 interceptions. He also has 10 career fumbles.

The 25-year old, 6’0”, 190-pound Thomas-Oliver was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers, who cut him in September 2023. In his first three years with the Panthers, Thomas-Oliver played in 25 regular-season games with no starts, accruing 17 tackles.

Oct 312023
 
Kayvon Thibodeaux, New York Giants (October 29, 2023)

Kayvon Thibodeaux – © USA TODAY Sports

QUARTERBACK

-Tyrod Taylor was the starter for the third straight week as Daniel Jones still had not been cleared for contact until shortly before the game because of his neck injury. Taylor, himself, only lasted until about the halfway point of the second quarter. He completed 4/7 for 8 yards and gained 33 yards on 5 carries. He was quick to evade the pocket twice where he had more time to hang in there, and he made a poor throw on a third down that had potential for more. Taylor suffered a rib injury as he fell on the ball when tackled at the tail end of an odd play where the ball slipped out of his hand before re-catching it himself. At the time of this writing, I do not have a full report on his injury but it could very well a punctured lung, which happens on specific rib fractures/displacements. Ironically, this would not be the first punctured lung of his career. He suffered one in 2020 when a team doctor inserted an injection too deeply on the sideline.

The Giants did not have a Justin Herbert on the sidelines. Instead, undrafted rookie and Don Bosco Prep graduate Tommy DeVito ran onto the field for his first taste of NFL regular season action. The talk will center around the decision to keep the training wheels on his game. He threw 7 passes, 2 were completed, and the result was -1 passing yards. He was also sacked twice (losing nine more yards) and threw two-near interceptions. Forgotten by many is the fact DeVito was the lone Giant to score a touchdown in this game. He made an excellent read on the ball fake to Barkley and exploded into the end zone. This was a tough tape and situation to fully evaluate, but DeVito showed his lack of experience on two occasions and did not make the throws that were there. I will touch on this situation more below.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 36 att – 128 yards / 3 rec – 0 yards

With Jones on the sideline and Taylor injured early, this offense hopped on the shoulders of Barkley on this rainy day in the northeast. His 36 carries were a career high. The last time we saw anything close to this took place last year. He carried the ball 35 times in their home win over the Texans in the team’s 9th game of the year. He followed that with his worst game of the season (15 att – 22 yards) and he did not break the 87-yard mark the rest of the way. Barkley was the definition of “workhorse” in this game. He ran into crowded boxes against a physical defense that knew where the ball was going. He found ways to pick up extra yards and first downs as the game plan became bleeding the clock (and nothing else) once they took the 10-7 lead in the third quarter. There was one blunder, however. Barkley’s lack of situational awareness and questionable competitive nature showed up again. On first and ten with 1:26 left in the fourth quarter, Barkley found a cutback lane and darted upfield. He could have easily run past the first down marker, but he instead dove forward. The Jets then stopped the Giants offense on the next two plays. Had Barkley gained that first down, the Giants could have run out the clock with no field goal attempt needed. Barkley made a poor decision, and it overshadowed the gutsy performance he had all afternoon. Not the first time this has happened with him.

-Matt Breida gained 13 yards on 5 carries and added another 4 yards on one catch.

WIDE RECEIVER

-This won’t take long for obvious reasons. Darius Slayton (2) and Wan’Dale Robinson (1) were the only receivers to have the ball thrown their way. The former caught one of his for a loss of one yard. The latter made two plays in the running game with gains of 10 and 7 respectively. Jalin Hyatt played 25 snaps but was not given any opportunities for obvious reasons. Isaiah Hodgins played nearly double the snaps because of his blocking prowess.

-Punt returner Gunner Olszewski was added to the roster after their return game debacle last week. He had 6 returns (averaging 9.3 yards) while fair catching 2.

TIGHT END

-In an offense that, no matter what, was going to be run-heavy, the Giants entered the game with two tight ends. Darren Waller (more WR than TE) was obviously one of them. He left the game early with a hamstring injury just when we thought that was in the rear-view mirror after a few weeks of issues earlier this season. Daniel Bellinger was the backup, a guy who has not yet proven he can be even an average blocker. This situation would fully show where that part of his game has evolved. It was a complete fail. Bellinger allowed 3 TFLs and a sack, and was flagged for a holding penalty that created 1st-and-20 from the NYG 15-yard line instead of 2nd-and-8 from the NYG 27-yard line on the team’s first play in overtime. In that offensive situation, it all but destroyed any shot of them moving the ball past the chains. Bellinger’s lack of impact as blocker is a significant problem on an offense that already has a below average blocker in Waller on the team.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Justin Pugh and Tyre Phillips remained the tackles. In a game where the play-calling was nearly allergic to dropping back to pass, these two escaped potential nightmare scenarios considering their opponent. Even with the limited looks in that department, Pugh allowed 1.5 sacks and Phillips 3 pressures and a TFL. He was also flagged for a false start. When it comes to the running game, Pugh made a couple things happen on the move when the blocking scheme got more creative up front. That gives some hope that he can play left guard once Andrew Thomas is back. Phillips had a hard time getting push with his high pad level.

-Inside we saw Mark Glowinski with another solid game in the run game. Once again, when the blocking scheme had these guys pulling laterally it seemed to catch the NYJ front seven out of position. That is great, but meaningless if the blockers don’t get clean contact. Glowinski was making heavy hits and staying attached at both the second level and point-of-attack. He allowed a half-sack and a pressure in pass protection.

-John Michael Schmitz returned for the first time since Week 4. The rookie excelled in gap blocking and was a key component to a couple of the big NYG runs. He ended up on the ground often, however, and looks heavy footed when matched against pure speed, allowing a TFL and a pressure. That will be an issue for him that I do not see going away, not this season anyway. But there was some good cohesion up front, and I want to believe it was a result of him being back. Ben Bredeson got the nod at left guard and he allowed a TFL and rarely got an upfield push in the running game.

EDGE

-The Kayvon Thibodeaux breakout performance was coming. He was heating up for a few weeks straight and exploded against the Jets tackles. He finished with 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 pressure, and 1.5 TFL. This was a fast, physical performance that saw him empty the tank yet again. He made several hustle plays during his 9-tackle performance, the second most of his career. He was on the field for all but three snaps, once again showing the reliability and gamer mentality. An area of progress I see when it comes to the pass rush comes from his timing of double moves. He’s been late there often. But his footwork and positioning are a notch quicker and it stems from the decision when to make his move. If he gets the corner/edge, he is hard to catch up to. His inside arsenal has always been solid, but it can be used at a higher level now that he seems to be presenting less time for tackles to respond. The offsides penalty on that final drive was an absolute killer, though. It gave NYJ an extra timeout in a situation where NYG was one second away from a win.

-Jihad Ward had another quiet game despite 52 snaps, 37 of which were rushing the passer. He did recover the fumble created by Thibodeaux, but all he did was add one tackle from there on out. While there is some truth to the dirty work he does that will not show up on the stat sheet, he is quite the ineffective player. Boogie Basham played just 5 snaps and added 2 tackles.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-The Jets have had their own share of offensive line injury woes, inside in particular. Three different centers were rotated in because of injuries and their second-round rookie (Joe Tippman) was already out and they lost their top OL (guard Alijah Vera-Tucker) last week to an Achilles injury. No matter who was in front of Dexter Lawrence, it simply did not matter. He was a one-man wrecking crew, finishing with 13 pressures, 3 of which were QB hits, and added a sack. I have not charted a single defensive pass rush performance like this since grading Giants players on game day. He also added 2 tackles and was disrupting the NYJ running game inside and outside. Humans this big and strong never move this fast. He is an anomaly who is doing things we have never, ever seen from a nose tackle.

-Leonard Williams added 5 pressures, a season high. I will touch on the trade below. As for this game, his disruptiveness was not as important and impactful as Lawrence, but the fact he was getting through as well exacerbated the NYJ pass protection to a point they could not function on several occasions. When these two are on like this, they can crush any passing game in the league without too much outside help. He added a tackle and a pass break up.

-A’Shawn Robinson is another player who seems to be heating up weekly and it does soften the blow of losing Williams to Seattle. He had 2 tackles, one for a loss and one being a stop on 3rd-and-1. He also added a pressure for the second straight week, and it looks like his response to more playing time is exactly what this defense needs post-trade.

-Rakeem Nunez-Roches and D.J. Davidson both played under 10 snaps and did not move the needle in either direction.

LINEBACKER

-Similar to Thibodeaux, Bobby Okereke played another excellent game and has been proving to be worth every penny that the Front Office spent on him this past offseason. He finished with a team-high 10 tackles, and 2.5 TFL. He was the one who stopped NYJ quarterback Zack Wilson in the fourth quarter dead in his tracks on a long-winded scramble near midfield just a few yards shy of the first down marker. While we know that did not help much with the outcome of the game, it was an underrated play that we see many defenders screw up around the league. His biggest gaffe, and he was not alone, was the complete whiff on Breece Hall’s touchdown. Okereke had Hall right where he wanted him, but he hesitated and was shook out of his cleats, not even making contact to slow Hall down. That touchdown did not seem as big at the moment, but what a miss it ended up being.

-Micah McFadden is another defender who has grown a lot this season. I seem to be saying that often but then again, this defense has averaged just 11 points allowed per game over the past three weeks. This guy is one of the reasons for the improvement on that side of the ball. He added 4 tackles and a fumble recovery along with 2 pressures. His heavy contact downhill sent shockwaves to NYJ lead blockers. He did miss two tackles, including one on the Hall touchdown as well, adding to his season total of 10 which is 9th most among NFL linebackers.

-Isaiah Simmons saw 26 snaps, all but two of which were at outside linebacker. He had one pressure and one tackle, but also missed one in space.

CORNERBACK

-Garrett Wilson, Terry McLaurin, Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, D.K. Metcalf, and Brandon Aiyuk. Those are receivers rookie Deonte Banks has faced off against over the past six weeks alone. Talk about being thrown into the fire right away and I like how he has responded. This game was not one of his better ones, however. While I do like the athleticism he showed in coverage against Wilson, one of the best at getting open in the NFL, he added 2 more penalties to his state sheet (1 of which was declined). He also missed two tackles. He had a pass break up and added 3 tackles. Banks has been flagged six times this season, tied for third-most among players in coverage.

-Cor’Dale Flott is yet another young, emerging player this team needs to keep feeding opportunities to. He broke up a team-high three passes and appears to be playing up to speed now. He always moved well enough, but the questions were anticipation and instincts. The physical presence on his contact will never be good, but the other traits are coming along and weigh a lot more for corners.

-Adoree’ Jackson was torched in big moments. While he did get thrown at a ton in this game and his overall coverage grade was solid, those key plays are where a guy like him needs to step up. The pass interference penalty that set NYJ up for the game-winning field goal was a result of him being tricked on a route by an undrafted receiver. That cannot happen from that kind of player. Jackson is a solid cover man, but his level of play has been inconsistent and seems to degrade in key moments and against key players. Not ideal from your number one corner.

SAFETY

-The every-snap streak lives on for the Jason Pinnock / Xavier McKinney duo. They combined for 9 tackles and Pinnock added both a QB hit and pass break-up. His missed tackle on the Hall touchdown was by far the worst play of the sequence and one could argue the worst play of the game for NYG. No wrap up attempt and, to honest, a half-ass soft attempt at a player who was running downhill. This surprised me from Pinnock, who plays anything but soft. A play like that in a game against a team that cut you? Major blemish.

-Nick McCloud and Dane Belton saw rotational/sub package duty but neither made an impact.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 1/3 (Made 31, Missed 47, 35). The first game in a Giants uniform Gano has missed two field goal attempts in a game, and first time since a 2017 Week 17 loss at Tampa Bay when he was with Carolina

-P Jamie Gillan: 13 punts (42.2 avg – 40.7 net).

3 STUDS

-DT Dexter Lawrence, EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, CB Cor’Dale Flott

3 DUDS

-K Graham Gano, TE Daniel Bellinger, CB Adoree’ Jackson

3 THOUGHTS ON NYJ

1. Even without Aaron Rodgers, the Jets are one of the most interesting teams in the NFL. Whether they are playing the best or worst the NFL has to offer, they keep it close. This all comes back to their defense and how this team is built. Head Coach Robert Saleh and Defensive Coordinator Jeff Ulbrich came over from SF and the NYJ defense ranked dead last in both yards and points allowed year one. A season later? 4th best. They have wins against BUF and PHI along with a 3-point loss to KC. They then have a loss to NE and a close win against DEN. This is life of a team that is built on defense. I am still old school in thinking that this is the proper way to do it, but I will admit it is more difficult to do than build an offense because of the amount of personnel moves and picks you need to get right.

2. Speaking of getting it right. What a whiff they made at quarterback. Here is an excerpt from my final report on Zack Wilson in 2021 “…There is a bit too much ‘backyard football’ that I’m not sure will work in the NFL…Is he tough enough to handle the New York market?…He hasn’t exactly faced a lot of adversity in his life.” Wilson was a late 1st/early 2nd round grade on my sheet, like Daniel Jones. Just another one of those guys who just did not show enough to warrant the high pick but when you’re against a wall and in need of the quarterback, it is hard to pass on the upside. I fully expect Wilson to be elsewhere following the 2024 season.

3. The Joe Douglas-led front office is going to be in a very tough spot. If Rodgers comes back, and I consider it a big if, he still needs to consider the long-term future of the franchise. That is his job, more than anything. Do you use another pick on a QB? This class is going to be a deep one at the position. But will Captain Rodgers approve of using a premium pick on a guy that plays his position? That is what I can’t wait to see. The Jets coaches and players were almost embarrassingly giddy every time Rodgers threw a nice ball in practice. It is a poor way to act because of how sensitive older players can be physically. More cheerleader than coach. Does Douglas have the decision-making power to use a premium asset on a win-now player? AKA not a quarterback. I can’t wait to see.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

1. There are two “Monday Morning Quarterback” components to the offensive situation that led to this loss. One, did Daboll/Kafka pull back the reins too much for a quarterback who as in this system for months? Two, should the team have signed another quarterback with veteran experience? I can understand not having three quarterbacks on game day ready to run the (almost) full offense. Most teams in the league would say the same. But Jones was still on the sideline and NYG knows they’re one play away from the next man up coming in under center. If DeVito, the low-graded rookie undrafted free agent could not run the offense to anything near full capacity, how is he logically the number one backup at the most important position in the game?

2. Building off that point, the question can be asked about the mentality and overall ethos of this coaching staff. Have they gotten to the point where they are afraid to lose more than they are trying to win? I have seen this over the years, notably in year 2/3 of coaching regimes. The honeymoon phase is over, expectations grow, adversity hits, and the pressure changes everything about the way a team played that made them originally competitive. If Barkley runs for the first down or Gano hits the field goal or Thibodeaux does not get called for offsides – if any of those happen – perhaps we are calling this a coaching masterpiece and a gritty win that alters the direction of a season that felt loss. But here is the truth. They won the turnover battle for the third time in four weeks, and they won the penalty yardage battle for the third time in four weeks. That combination will net wins in over 85% of games in the NFL. They won 25% of them. The truth is, despite the injury bug, this team has been in position to win games. But they lost some identity. Culture is not created during good, easy times. It is created when adversity hits and the response is conditioned. This coaching staff needs to be better. Daboll in particular.

3. The trade deadline is at 4PM on Halloween. I was going to write up the three names who I feel have value around the league and what they could net for NYG. I am not including Saquon Barkley, as I just do not see ownership signing off on giving away the one high-ticket player on this team, and one who had some public turmoil against the franchise recently. The first name was Leonard Williams, but I thought at the most he would net a 3rd rounder. NYG getting a 2nd and future 5th for him is a huge win and it opens the door for more playing time for both Jordon Riley and D.J. Davidson. A’Shawn Robinson playing well helps soften the blow. Next up is Adoree’ Jackson, a credible corner (with limited upside) who is almost sure to be gone in 2024. Like the defensive line, it fully opens the experience door for Tre Hawkins and Cor’Dale Flott. Jackson would likely net a 5th or 6th rounder for a defense that needs a number three/four corner. Lastly, and this may not be popular, is Xavier McKinney. A free agent in 2024 on a team that will need to make some difficult money decisions on guys like this, McKinney would likely draw some mid-round interest from teams that need to upgrade the position. While his career to this point has not been anything special, McKinney is a solid player who could start on 20+ teams in the league.

Oct 302023
 
Tyrod Taylor, New York Giants (October 29, 2023)

Tyrod Taylor – © USA TODAY Sports

LEONARD WILLIAMS TRADED TO SEAHAWKS…
In advance of Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline, the New York Giants have traded defensive lineman Leonard Williams to the Seattle Seahawks. In return, the Giants will receive 2nd-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft and a 5th-round picks in the 2025 NFL Draft. According to multiple media reports, the Giants will still be responsible for most of the remaining $10 million prorated portion of his 2023 salary. Williams was set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

Williams was the sixth player taken overall in the 2015 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. The Giants acquired Williams by trade from the New York Jets in late October 2019 in exchange for 3rd- and 5th-round draft picks. His best NFL season was with the Giants in 2020 when he finished with 57 tackles, 14 tackles for losses, 11.5 sacks, and 30 quarterback hits. Williams missed four regular-season games in 2022 due to knee (3 games) and neck/stinger (1 game) injuries. The neck issue nagged him for most of the second half of the season and also caused him to exit a few games early. Williams finished with his least productive season since joining the Giants in 2019, being credited with 45 tackles, five tackles for losses, 2.5 sacks, 12 quarterback hits, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries. Through eight games this year, Williams had 21 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

DANIEL JONES CLEARED FOR CONTACT…
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has been cleared for contact by doctors. Jones has missed three consecutive games with a neck injury that he suffered in Week 5 against the Miami Dolphins. Jones will practice fully on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, back-up quarterback Tyrod Taylor spent Sunday night, being evaluated for a rib injury that knocked him out of the game against the New York Jets. Hew was released this afternoon and ESPN is reporting that he is “week-to-week” in terms of when he will be able to play again.

OCTOBER 30, 2023 BRIAN DABOLL PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Brian Daboll addressed the media on Monday (VIDEO):

Q: Do you have any update on (quarterback) Tyrod (Taylor) to get out of the hospital or anything like that?

A: He’s still there and he has ribs. He’s pretty sore today.

Q: Are the ribs broken? Or why are they keeping him there, I guess? Just to keep him stabilized.

A: Yeah, I’m not going to get into – he’s got ribs. I’m not going to get into what they are. He’s pretty sore right now so assuming he’ll be out here – I can’t tell you when, but he’s got sore ribs right now.

Q: It sounds like it’s just a matter of discomfort, he’s not in any danger or anything.

A: No, no, no. He’s okay in that regard, yeah.

Q: Can you take us through the timeline with (quarterback) Daniel (Jones) here? It sounds like he’s been cleared for contact.

A: He met with the doctor pregame, so he did his tests. The week before he did it on Friday, so he did his tests and they told me he’d be ready to go next week.

Q: So that means that Daniel will be on the practice field and should be good to go full on Wednesday. Is that correct?

A: Correct.

Q: Did you think about in overtime – obviously, most of the time in overtime the team that wins the toss wants the ball in overtime but given the strange nature of this game and the way you were leaning on defense and special teams and field position, was that a debate? Was that something you were thinking about?

A: Yeah, it was discussed. It was definitely discussed but decided to take it.

Q: What was the main reason to decide to take it there?

A: I mean, they’d driven down there in (regulation), had some stuff that we liked so decided to take it and try to go down there and score.

Q: Just a followup, so why the appointment on Sunday morning? Like why couldn’t it have been Saturday because conceivably he could’ve played yesterday.

A: That’s when it was so those guys told me after – actually, they told me after the game so that’s when it was.

Q: What do you mean? Like scheduling purposes? I think it’s —

A: No, no, no. That’s when it was. He was in the training room before the game and they told me about it after.

Q: Yesterday you said it was going to be a run heavy game plan regardless, so just curious why seven wide receivers and only two tight ends? Because obviously losing (tight end) Darren (Waller) impacted what you could do there.

A: Again, we had a back up plan and I’d say the weather, I mean, we were going to run the ball, too, the weather played – you never know what the weather’s going to be, we figured it’d be rainy, played an important part of it. But we had a back up tackle ready to go in that regard that we felt – was (guard Marcus) McKethan in the blocking aspect of it.

Q: Obviously, you ran the ball a ton there in the second half. Why not just more creativity? You didn’t do any two running back sets, you only had one wildcat snap, you didn’t get (wide receiver) Parris (Campbell) involved in end arounds. Whatever it may have been, it seemed like it was pretty vanilla.

A: I mean, got (wide receiver) Wan’Dale (Robinson) involved. The schemes, not sure if you looked at the schemes, the schemes were a variety of schemes that we had. Different types of traps, tackle traps, guard traps, toss cracks, speed sweeps, inside zones, zone reads, a wildcat play, I wouldn’t just say it was one run. I’d say it was, schematically, a variety of runs.

Q: With Tyrod, are you hopeful that he’s going to get released today? Or is he going to have to stay there a little while in the hospital?

A: I don’t know that yet. I’m hopeful it’ll be here soon but it’s sore ribs, so.

Q: With Daniel, I know you said that’s just when the appointment was but why was he not a possibility then to at least be the backup?

A: I told you when they told me he was going to be out. They told me he was out, so he was out, and they told me after the game that they looked at him he’d be ready to go.

Q: And you had an opportunity to go back, I’m sure you watched the game at this point, the whole way the end of the game unfolded, kicking the field goal, the offsides, the spotting of the ball, getting the ball to start overtime, is there anything that you look back on and you were unsure about now that you had more time? What did you think when you went back and watched that last five minutes of game action?

A: We had some chances there. We had some chances to – probably about a handful of plays that if we make one of them, probably get a different result. You look at a lot, obviously, but going for the field goal, I’m secure with what we did there.

Q: What about the (running back) Saquon (Barkley) play? The first down. It was almost like – did he think that you didn’t want to score? Did he think they were letting him score? Did you talk to him about that?

A: Yeah, I did. No, he made a cut and he kind of bounced it back, then he was so conscious of the ball, he was squeezing on the ball, he slipped a little bit.

Q: So, you didn’t tell Saquon to get down in that situation?

A: No.

Q: On Daniel, why was he listed questionable last week for Washington but ruled out for the Jets game?

A: He got looked at on Friday, so I was waiting until – it was Friday at 3:30, I believe, his appointment to see where he was at. That was the – whatever it was two Friday’s ago and then he didn’t have one this week. So, like I said, when they told me he was out, that’s when I told you guys he was out.

Q: As far as his actual injury and being cleared, apparently, it’s a disk issue and he had a disk issue two years ago. What does the training staff tell you about why he’s safe enough to handle contact? Because that’s obviously a very serious thing and a serious part of the body.

A: I’d say that he met with the spine surgeon, the doctor, and the doctor cleared him. I sat down with them, that’s what they’ve told me, so he’s cleared from that doctor.

Q: Why on Friday did you kind of go out of your way to almost lead us to believe that Daniel would be awhile or perhaps even if we wanted to extrapolate, which we shouldn’t I guess, but maybe that he even had a setback?

A: All I said was he’s getting better, and we’ll see what happens next week. I think I said it a few times. Which he’s getting better, and we’ll see where we’re at next week. That’s what they told me.

Q: You’re getting a lot of questions about Daniel and perhaps being active on Sunday. Can you just clarify the rule on that? Once you list him out on Friday, can you change that on Sunday morning?

A: No, he’s out.

Q: So, there was no possibility even if you would have known Sunday morning?

A: Again, I go by the doctors. When they tell me he’s out, he’s out.

Q: Considering Tyrod’s situation, do you guys need to work out quarterbacks and look at adding a quarterback this week?

A: Yeah, (Senior Vice President/General Manager) Joe (Schoen) and I will – I’ll go back upstairs, and I’ll have a meeting here with Joe shortly.

Q: Anything on (kicker) Graham (Gano)? You said yesterday he’s fine but is there any concern about his health at all?

A: No, he’ll be okay.

Q: A lot has been made about the gameplan in the second half and running the football and going through Saquon. How much of that was the gameplan and how much of it was (quarterback Tommy) DeVito being in there? There’s this feeling that you guys didn’t trust DeVito to throw the football and if that was the case then why would he be your backup quarterback on gameday?

A: I think there’s always adjustments but the way our defense was playing, we were going to make sure we took care of the ball, end every drive with a kick, have good ball security and again, a few plays here and there, we make one of them, we probably get a different result. That was the plan going in after halftime.

Q: Was it a statement about DeVito?

A: I think there’s a lot of things that played into it. The weather, it’s a heck of a defense, making sure we’re doing what we need to do in terms of staying on track and if we have to punt, we have to punt. The way our defense was playing against their offense, felt good about that. Try to play a field position game and that’s what we were going to try to do.

Q: Just curious, do you guys need to bring in a quarterback given Tyrod’s situation this week?

A: Yeah, somebody asked that.

Q: Sorry. Got cut off for a second.

A: No, that’s okay. I’m going to go back up there and meet with Joe here, so we’ll talk about that. It’s definitely a possibility.

Q: There’s obviously a lot of questions about the timing of these appointments or these checkups. Are you at all frustrated by them or confused about the timing of them? If he’d been cleared sooner, there could’ve been some adjustments made.

A: I’d say whenever they tell me he’s ready, that’s when he’s ready. So, when they tell me he’s not ready, he’s not ready. When they did, he’s ready, so whenever they give me the information.

Q: Just the big picture. What does it mean to a team to get its quarterback back?

A: Yeah, it’s good. Again, whether it’s the quarterback, the left tackle, the right tackle, the running back – I mean, any time you can get good players, it certainly helps.

Q: The left tackle and right tackle are probably making progress too towards Sunday?

A: Making progress, but we’ll see where we’re at Wednesday here.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players are off on Tuesday and there is no media availability to the team. The players return to practice on Wednesday.

Oct 292023
 
Graham Gano, New York Giants (October 29, 2023)

Graham Gano reacts to missed 35-yard field goal – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK JETS 13 – NEW YORK GIANTS 10 (OT)…
In an incredibly ugly football game, the New York Giants snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, losing 10-7 in overtime to the New York Jets. The Giants also lost another quarterback with Tyrod Taylor leaving the game with a rib injury that required him to go to the hospital. At 2-6, any playoff aspirations are all but officially over.

A combination of a very strong New York Jets’ defense, bad weather, and the Giants having to play an undrafted rookie at quarterback for most of the game led to a horrific Giants’ offensive performance. Even before Taylor left the game, however, the offense was dreadful. The Giants were held to 70 total yards of offense, including -9 passing yards. Five of the team’s 12 first downs were due to penalties on the Jets. The Giants had 17 offensive possessions. Thirteen of them resulted in punts. Two resulted in missed field goals, which was the difference in the game.

The Giants’ only points in the first half were completely set up by the defense. On the Jets’ first possession, outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaxu sacked quarterback Zach Wilson on 3rd-and-5. Wilson fumbled and the loose ball was recovered by outside linebacker Jihad Ward. The Giants had the ball at the Jets’ 19-yard line, but were forced to settle for a 31-yard field goal and an early 3-0 lead.

Meanwhile, the Giants’ defense was playing very well in the elements against a beat-up Jets’ offensive line and the shaky Wilson. The Jets had 10 first-half possessions, seven ending with punts and two ending with fumbles. The Jets were held to five first downs and were 0-of-8 on third-down conversion attempts. However, there was one very costly breakdown when running back Breece Hall caught a short pass and weaved his way for a 50-yard touchdown after some terrible tackling attempts.

There were also two missed opportunities for the Giants’ offense in the second quarter. Place kicker Graham Gano missed a 47-yard field goal early in the quarter after Head Coach Brian Daboll passed on going for it on 4th-and-1. Then with 2:28 left before halftime, inside linebacker Micah McFadden recovered a fumble at the Jets’ 41-yard line. Despite gaining six yards on first down, the Giants ended up losing four yards on this possession and punting.

At the half, the Jets led 7-3. Combined, the Giants and Jets were 0-of-18 on third down with 15 punts.

Aided by two unnecessary roughness penalties by the Jets’ defense, the Giants took the lead on their first drive of the third quarter. Running back Saquon Barkley picked up 40 yards on his first two carries of the drive. The Jets were flagged with one of the roughness penalties after a 2nd-and-10 incompletion by Tommy DeVito. Barkley picked up six yards on 3rd-and-6. Then came the other penalty which kept the drive alive after the Giants were stopped on 3rd-and-10. Three plays later, DeVito ran for a 6-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-goal.

Most of the rest of the second half was the Jets struggling to generate any offense against the Giants’ defense and the Giants’ coaching staff not putting DeVito in position to lose the game. The Jets punted the ball four consecutive times, gaining just two first downs. The Giants also punted the ball four consecutive times after the touchdown, gaining four first downs.

Then came the pivotal moments that would decide the game. With 2:19 left in the game, Thibodeaux sacked Wilson for a 10-yard loss. Three plays later, on 4th-and-10, Thibodeaux got to Wilson again, this time for a 15-yard loss. With 1:26 left in the game, the Giants had the ball at the Jets’ 26-yard line. Barkley gained nine yards on three plays, moving the ball to the 17-yard line. On 4th-and-1, Daboll decided to have Graham kick the 35-yard field goal. He missed.

Nevertheless, the Giants were still up 10-7. The Jets had the ball at their own 25-yard line with just 24 seconds left. The defense could not hold. Wilson completed back-to-back 29-yard passes. He spiked the ball with one second left. The 35-yard field goal was good with no time left on the clock.

In overtime, the Giants won the toss and received the ball first. Predictably, the Giants went three-and-out, actually losing 11 yards. The Jets began their first drive of overtime at their own 39-yard line. They gained 46 yards in six plays, converting on 3rd-and-10 with an 11-yard completion. The real killer came on 3rd-and-5. Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson was flagged for a 30-yard pass interference penalty down to the 15-yard line. The Jets immediately kicked the game-winning 33-yard field goal. Despite being tipped by defensive lineman Leonard Williams, the kick was good.

Taylor was 4-of-7 for eight yards, being sacked twice. DeVito was 2-of-7 for -1 yard, also being sacked twice. The leading receiver was Barkley who caught three passes for zero yards. No other player had more than one catch or four yards. Barkley carried the ball 36 times for 128 yards.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 12 first downs and 251 yards of offense. They held the Jets to 2-of-15 on 3rd down and 0-of-1 on 4th down. The defense recovered two fumbles and was credited with four sacks, one by nose tackle Dexter Lawrence and three by Thibodeaux. However, the three long pass plays, including the two in overtime, dampened the performance.

On special teams, the usually very reliable Gano cost the Giants the game with his two missed field goals.

GAME VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS are available on YouTube.

ROSTER MOVES, PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
On Saturday, the Giants placed RB Gary Brightwell (hamstring) on Injured Reserve and signed WR/Returner Gunner Olszewski to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad. The Giants also activated (standard elevation) QB Tommy DeVito and OLB Oshane Ximines from the Practice Squad.

Inactive for the game were QB Daniel Jones (neck), LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring), RT Evan Neal (ankle), RB Deon Jackson, DL Jordon Riley, S Bobby McCain, and S Gervarrius Owens.

QB Tyrod Taylor (ribs) and TE Darren Waller (hamstring) left the game in the first half and did not return. Taylor was taken to the hospital and will remain overnight for further observation.

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Brian Daboll will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Oct 272023
 
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (September 10, 2023)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

OCTOBER 27, 2023 GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
The only player who did not practice on Friday was RB Gary Brightwell (hamstring). He’s officially been ruled out of the game against the New York Jets on Sunday.

The following eight players were limited in practice:

  • QB Daniel Jones (neck – ruled out of Jets game)
  • WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee – probable for game)
  • TE Darren Waller (hamstring – questionable for game)
  • LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring – doubtful for game)
  • RT Evan Neal (ankle – questionable for game)
  • OC John Michael Schmitz (shoulder – questionable for game)
  • OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee – questionable for game)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (neck – questionable for game)

“(Jones is) throwing,” said Head Coach Brian Daboll who ruled Jones out of the game. “He feels better every day. He’s done a good job here with the things that he can do out here on the practice field. Take it one day at a time, but he’s getting closer… All I’ll tell you is I meet with the trainers and the doctors and what they tell me he can do, that’s what we do.”

When asked if he thinks Jones will play again this year, Daboll responded, “He’s getting better, and we’ll see where he is next week. I don’t have a crystal ball with injuries, but he is getting better, and we’ll see where he is next week.”

RB Saquon Barkley (elbow) and PK Graham Gano (knee) fully practiced and are expected to play.

THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube:

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

Oct 272023
 
Victor Cruz, New York Giants (December 24, 2011)

Better Times – © USA TODAY Sports

THE STORYLINE:
In last week’s preview, I said the Giants-Commanders game would give us an indication of just how deep the abyss for the 2023 New York Giants would be. The good news is not only did the Giants win, but despite significant number of important players still missing due to injury, they dominated the game. The bad news is they almost handed the contest to the Commanders with key mistakes on offense, defense, and special teams.

Stating the obvious, at 2-5, the Giants remain in desperate straits. There is no margin for error if the Giants want to get back into playoff contention. After the “home” game against the Jets, the Giants face three consecutive road games, one against the Cowboys who already crushed the team 40-0. This is as close to a “must game” as there is, with the difference between 3-5 or 2-6.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • QB Daniel Jones (neck – out)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (elbow – probable)
  • RB Gary Brightwell (hamstring – out)
  • WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee – probable)
  • TE Darren Waller (hamstring – questionable)
  • LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring – doubtful)
  • RT Evan Neal (ankle – questionable)
  • OC John Michael Schmitz (shoulder)
  • OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee – questionable)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (neck – questionable)
  • PK Graham Gano (knee – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
There is a lot going on here, with implications for 2023 and beyond. Before getting into longer-term issues, let’s address the immediate concern of the game against a very good New York Jets defense.

On paper, this side of the ball looks like a clear mismatch. Despite all of their issues on offense, the Jets are still only allowing under 20 points per game. Meanwhile, the Giants are scoring a league-low 12 points per game (somewhat inflated by a defensive score). And the strength of the Jets is a strong (and deep) defensive front against a patchwork NYG Giants offensive line. The Giants’ OL was an utter disaster for first five weeks of the season. It has been a little less so for the last two weeks. As I talked about last week, the improvement has been mainly due to fewer mental breakdowns because of the veteran presence of Mark Glowinski, Ben Bredeson, and Justin Pugh rather than the greenhorns who had been out there previously. It looks like Justin Pugh will start at left tackle again, where he has struggled. Tyre Phillips may start over Evan Neal one more game. Expect issues on the outside. John Michael Schmitz may be back, which likely will cause Ben Bredeson to shift back to guard with Mark Glowinski.

Given the Jets’ own offensive issues, the game has the feeling of the classic mantra “the team that makes the fewest mistakes will win.” Both offenses don’t put a lot of points on the board (Jets averaging just under 20 points per game). The Jets’ defense has also thrived off of turnovers (4th in the NFL will 13 takeaways). This will probably be one of those games that the better part of valor may simply not to take too many risks and punt the ball. Field position will be important, suggesting it might not be wise to take a lot of 4th-down chances. Don’t pass up sure points either when in field goal range.

Oddly, the Jets (135.2 yards per game allowed) have only been slightly better in run defense than the Giants (137.3). It suggests the team should stick with Saquon Barkley running the ball with an occasional chance for Tyrod Taylor (the risk with the latter is if Taylor gets hurt, the Giants are screwed). Continued use of the quick, short passing game with an occasional deep shot to Jalin Hyatt and Darius Slayton should also continue. The Hyatt-Sauce Gardner match-up was a fun one in the preseason.

Let’s turn to the elephant in the room. Regardless of what Brian Daboll says publicly, there is a quarterback controversy. Sometimes quarterback controversies involve two good quarterbacks (see the Phil Simms/Jeff Hostetler knockdown fights by fans in 1991 and 1992). Most of the time when there is a quarterback controversy, it’s an indication that the team really doesn’t have a quarterback. Last week I talked about Jones only having 10 games left to change public (and perhaps organizational) opinion on him. With Jones out again, we’re down to nine games and counting. And as I wrote last week, “Tyrod Taylor is one good performance away from sealing Jones’ fate.” Taylor may not be lighting it up, but there has been no noticeable downturn in quarterback production with him playing. In fact, some have argued the opposite. Throw in a $40 million contract and questions about a potentially career-affecting neck injury and we’re in a far different place than we were just two months ago.

There are three sides to the quarterback situation. Apologists for Daniel Jones. Those who think Daniel Jones kills puppies. And those still sitting on the fence. Regardless of your particular category, one cannot ignore the reality of the situation. The Giants cannot go into 2024 assuming Jones can be the quarterback for this team. The neck injury and any further games missed only exacerbate the situation. If Taylor can get this team to start scoring more points, support for Jones will dwindle, perhaps even in the locker room. You might not like it, but that’s where we’re at. The problem long term is Taylor is an undersized, injury-prone, 34-year old quarterback. Unless we’re looking at another Geno Smith situation, the Giants are going to have to draft quarterback in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

The Jets game is huge, but there are bigger issues now at play from an organizational perspective.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The defense continues to trend in the right direction. Much of this is due to young players gaining experience as well as improved tackling by the linebackers and defensive backs. It also helps when the quality of your opponent decreases. Regardless, the glaring hole that can’t be fixed until the offseason is another edge rusher, a task made more difficult now by the team needing another quarterback.

Look, you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to break down this game. The Jets would be a serious Super Bowl contender if it were not for three things: (1) they don’t have a quarterback, (2) their offensive line stinks, and (3) questions about the maturity level of the head coach. Assuming the NYG offense is going to struggle gain, particularly against the NYJ defense, it is obvious that the pressure will be on the NYG defense to respond in kind against a suspect NYJ offense. The ability or inability to create turnovers will also prove decisive.

When you have a suspect quarterback and offensive line, a good running back, and are facing a team that has struggled to defend the run, the game plan for both sides becomes obvious. The Jets will want to run the ball; the Giants will want to stop the run. Whichever side prevails will most likely win the ball game. The Giants want to get Zach Wilson into long down-and-distance situations and attempt to confuse him like they did with Sam Howell last week. The Jets will want to keep Wilson and their offensive line out of these situations.

The two main threats are wide receiver Garrett Wilson and running back Breece Hall. Big time match-up here for Deonte Banks against Wilson.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Sy’56 pointed this out in his game review, but Jamie Gillan is quietly becoming one of the better punters in the NFL. He’s currently third in the NFL in net average (45.3 yards).  Meanwhile, Graham Gano, who has been battling a knee issue, missed a 42 yarder last week. They need a strong game from him.

All eyes will be on the punt returner. Eric Gray is on IR. Sterling Shepard muffed a return last week that could have cost the game. Newcomer Gunner Olszewski may be elevated from the Practice Squad. However, he has eight career fumbles on punt and kickoff returns.

FROM THE COACHES:
Wink Martindale on the Jets: “The biggest challenge that we’re going to have is that running back (Breece Hall) because he’s special.”

THE FINAL WORD:
The Giants have painted themselves into a corner. Three of the next four games are “must win” games or the season is likely over. While the team is playing better, critical players are still out with injury or affected by injury. This includes Thomas, Schmitz, Barkley, and Waller. Opinions vary on the losses of Jones, Neal, and Ojulari. There is a big difference between 2-6 and 3-5, especially when you consider the latter would mean a 2-game winning streak. Tell me who wins the turnover battle and I can make a pretty good prediction on who wins this game.

Oct 262023
 
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (October 22, 2023)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

OCTOBER 26, 2023 GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
The following two players did not practice on Thursday:

  • RB Gary Brightwell (hamstring)
  • DL Dexter Lawrence (rest day)

The following nine players were limited in practice:

  • QB Daniel Jones (neck)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (elbow)
  • WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee)
  • TE Darren Waller (hamstring)
  • LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring)
  • RT Evan Neal (ankle)
  • OC John Michael Schmitz (shoulder)
  • OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (neck)

PK Graham Gano (left knee) fully practiced.

THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube:

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The team practices again on Friday. Head Coach Brian Daboll, the position coaches, and select players will also address the media.

Oct 252023
 
Leonard Williams, New York Giants (October 22, 2023)

Leonard Williams – © USA TODAY Sports

OCTOBER 25, 2023 GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
The following two players did not practice on Wednesday:

  • RB Gary Brightwell (hamstring)
  • DL Leonard Williams (rest day)

The following nine players were limited in practice:

  • QB Daniel Jones (neck)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (elbow)
  • TE Darren Waller (hamstring)
  • LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring)
  • RT Evan Neal (ankle)
  • OC John Michael Schmitz (shoulder)
  • OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (neck)
  • PK Graham Gano (left knee)

When asked about Daniel Jones, Head Coach Brian Daboll replied, “Same as he was last week. He’ll do stuff at practice, non-contact. Getting better, but same… no team reps (in practice).”

“There’s a number of tests that they’re looking to see improvement,” said Jones. “I can do pretty much everything. I can throw, I can run, I can lift. It’s just a contact thing… I think there are still some symptoms there.”

As for Thomas, he told the press after practice, “Not too bad today. First time I’ve put on a helmet in a while, so that was a good feeling being out there with my teammates again. More than I’ve been doing by myself with the trainers and stuff like that. Just continue to stress it and see how it responds… I think I’m just following the plans of the trainers like I think they just want me to kind of mimic what I would do if I was at practice, but they also want to limit and not just cut me loose because there is a chance you can make it worse with soft tissue, so that’s the plan I’m trying to follow.”

HEAD COACH BRIAN DABOLL…
The transcript of Brian Daboll’s press conference on Wednesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available on YouTube.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The Giants practice again on Thursday afternoon. The coordinators and select players will also address the media.

Oct 242023
 
Jashaun Corbin, New York Giants (August 11, 2022)

Jashaun Corbin – © USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants made five roster moves on Tuesday:

  • RB Eric Gray (calf) and OT Matt Peart (shoulder) were placed on Injured Reserve.
  • RB Deon Jackson was claimed off of waivers from the Cleveland Browns.
  • RB Jashaun Corbin was signed off of the Practice Squad of the Carolina Panthers.
  • OLB Justin Hollins was signed to the Practice Squad.

The 24-year old, 6’0”, 218-pound Jackson originally signed with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2021 NFL Draft. The Colts waived him in September 2023 and he was immediately signed to the Practice Squad of the Browns. The Browns signed him to their 53-man roster last Saturday and waived him Monday. Jackson has played in 26 regular-season games with three starts, carrying the ball 94 times for 281 yards and two touchdowns. He also has caught 35 passes for 223 yards and one touchdown.

The Giants originally signed Corbin as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2022 NFL Draft. He spent his rookie season on the team’s Practice Squad. The Giants waived Corbin in late August 2023 and he was then signed to the Practice Squad of the Carolina Panthers.

The 27-year old, 6’5”, 248-pound Hollins was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. Hollins has spent time with the Broncos (2019-2020), Los Angeles Rams (2020-2022), and Green Bay Packers (2022-2023). The Packers released him on Saturday. Hollins has played in 59 regular-season games with seven starts, accruing 115 tackles, 9.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.

Oct 242023
 
Tyrod Taylor, New York Giants (October 22, 2023)

Tyrod Taylor – © USA TODAY Sports

QUARTERBACK

-Tyrod Taylor: 18/29 – 279 yards / 2 TD – 0 INT / 116.9 RAT / 25 rushing yards

Taylor started for the second straight week as Daniel Jones remains out with a neck injury. Once again, he was playing behind an offensive line missing multiple starters, with Justin Pugh playing left tackle, and another starter who was signed off someone else’s practice squad just days prior (Tyre Phillips). The line was overmatched by the Washington defensive line that features four first round picks, all of which have met expectations over the years of someone drafted that high. On paper, this did not look good. Taylor responded with the best game of his career since 2017, a 26-16 win over Trevor Siemian-led Denver in Week 3.

Taylor has a couple of standout traits in his game as a 34-year old, 13th-year veteran. His release is lightning quick. Some quarterbacks have it, some do not. Taylor can make his decision and get it out in such a sudden kind of way. The second trait I like centers around decision making. While the offensive line has stabilized a bit, do not make the mistake of thinking that group has turned things around. Taylor getting the ball out in a hurry hid some major matchup losses up front. Watching from the All-22 angle shows how often he threw guys open. He was not waiting for them to get open, he knew the coverage, where the leverage was, and got that ball out with great anticipation. There were several high-level throws that made me go back and watch them again. I am impressed with Taylor. He is 1-1, and about 2 inches away from 2-0.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 21 att – 77 yards / 3 rec – 41 yards – 1 TD

Barkley’s stat line is solid, but nothing special. But this was one of the most impressive and influential performances we have seen out of him over the last dozen games. Barkley hyperextend his elbow in the first quarter. That is not a serious injury, but it does impede strength. The pulling muscles (bicep/forearm) are compromised. Not an ideal situation for a running back and it did end up leading to a lost fumble in the fourth quarter. But Barkley toughed this one out. He was constantly lowering his shoulder, constantly picking up some extra yards, and constantly breaking tackles. The touchdown followed a short pass in which he created most of the yards himself. Barkley, playing for a contract, pushed through a lot of discomfort, ran behind a bad offensive line, and was a key reason to this win even though he almost fumbled it away.

-Matt Breida played just 11 snaps, gaining just 9 yards on 4 touches. Rookie Eric Gray saw an early exit after muffing another punt and getting bent backward on his ankle as he got hit. More on that below but here is a hint. That experiment needs a new answer.

WIDE RECEIVER

-We have been discussing this for weeks. Here is a blurb from my Week 2 review in Arizona, the other win this year. “Hyatt is the key, here. A lot to be put on a third rounder but the way he moves and the way he is tracking the ball and how fast he can easily get over the top can change how defenses work the short to intermediate routes. Hyatt looks ready for more.” After that comment, Hyatt had a total of two passes thrown his way in three games (all losses with one offensive touchdown combined). Then? A near-upset win in Buffalo and this win against Washington which included 9 targets, totaling 96 yards. Hyatt is not just important; he is vital to NYG’s offensive success. Whomever plays quarterback needs to lean on that, hard. A 42-yard catch and a 33-yard catch. Both led to scoring opportunities (Gano missed a field goal / Barkley fumbled). He changes this team the more he gets involved.

-The rest of the receiver group combined for 60 yards on 5 catches. Isaiah Hodgins, Wan’Dale Robinson, Darius Slayton, and Sterling Shepard. The ball was properly spread out (only Hodgins had more than one catch), and there were no drops. I will touch on Shepard and his attempts at returning punts below, but it was ugly.

TIGHT END

-Darren Waller: 7 rec – 98 yards – 1 TD

Waller led the team in targets, catches, and yards. He is turning a corner after a slow start that centered around a sore hamstring. He had two grabs, one of which was his first touchdown as a Giant, where he displayed elite receiver-caliber ball skills. Do not underestimate how rare it for a player this size to turn his body in the air and pluck the ball with strong, accurate hands. He did this in traffic and in high-pressure situations. The blocking impact was a negative in standout fashion again, however.

-Speaking of poor blocking, Daniel Bellinger was abused up front. Having him help on a few select passing plays did help (although he did allow a sack), but he got messed up in the running game. Multiple times his missed assignment or sheer loss prevented Barkley from bursting through the initial traffic. His impact as a receiver is going to be limited with Waller on the roster, plain and simple. He needs to improve up front if this offense is going to work, plain and simple.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Justin Pugh returned to tackle. Remember, that was his college and early pro career position, but not recently. He was matched up against Chase Young and took a beating in pass protection. He allowed 4 pressures and 2 sacks (1 of which was called off by a WAS penalty) and was also flagged for a hold. Pugh was a factor, however, as a run blocker. They moved him around often on outside zone runs where he pulled across the line and found work. He had key blocks on multiple positive runs. Tyre Phillips, signed off the PHI practice squad, manned the right tackle spot. He was the beneficiary of Taylor getting the ball out in a hurry a few times. He allowed a sack and a pressure, but the sack could easily be written off by the coaching staff if I saw it correctly. The blocking scheme on that play was clearly about cutting off the inside rush lane and simply stiff-arming the edge defender outside because the pass was supposed to be out quickly. Sterling Shepard fell, causing Taylor to hold onto the ball, and Phillips’ man went in for the easy sack. Overall, Phillips played arguably the best right tackle we have seen to this point all season but no, there is no controversy if Neal is healthy enough to play next week.

-Inside we saw the ship steadied, most notably in the passing game. Positive grades for both Ben Bredeson at center and Mark Glowinski at right guard were heavily engineered by their pass protection performances. Glowinski allowed just 1 pressure and Bredeson was clean.

-Markus McKethan saw a position change. He played left guard for the first time of his career. He did not play there even in college. I am curious to hear more about that decision but even though he finished with a negative grade overall, he played better than previous weeks. Young players take time to develop and there is at least some optimism that the shift to the left side (which likely had more to do with Glowinski playing his more natural right guard spot) will show us a different version of him. He allowed a TFL and 2 pressures on plays where he lost initially. Whiffs, oversetting, and inaccurate hands get him into positions where he just cannot athletically recover.

EDGE

-Kayvon Thibodeaux made an impact in two different ways, one of which obvious and the other not so much. He split three different sacks (1.5 total for him individually) and added 2 other pressures. He had a tackle and was credited for a pass break up (a gift-wrapped ball he should have caught and returned for a touchdown). A solid, productive game on a day where the Giants held to their opponent to just 7 points. The other impressive component here was the fact he played all but one snap. The injury to Azeez Ojulari and lack of options they have beyond him put this on the 2022 fifth overall pick. The 68 snaps were the third most of his career and watching the one-on-one wins against Washington left tackle Charles Leno, Jr. changed how they ran their passing game and protections up front. This defense and team needed Thibodeaux to step up, and he did.

-Jihad Ward saw another uptick in playing time for the third straight week. He added one tackle and one pressure. He and backup Boogie Basham did not stand out in any way, but they both set the edge for the entire game against the run. Physical and consistent. That helped funnel things inside where the defensive tackles and linebackers were dominating.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Dexter Lawrence did it again. Please do not overlook how good these performances are simply because of how often he is doing it. This is what an All-Pro looks like. Former Giant and fan favorite Nick Gates was taken to school by Lawrence. He had 6 tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 pressures. More impressive than that was what he did on the Leonard Williams sack in the first quarter. They stunted the two and three guys tried to block Lawrence, two of which ended up on their backs, and Williams ended with the 3rd-down sack, forcing a punt.

-Speaking of Williams, as I mentioned, he had a 3rd-down sack and 2 pressures in addition to 2 tackles. Solid game up front for a guy who has been a tad quiet this season. His biggest play, however, was a blocked field goal early in the 4th quarter in a 14-7 game. Had he not gotten his hand on that, the entire tone of that last quarter would have been different. Huge play in an unlikely moment by the team’s most expensive player.

-Rakeem Nunez-Roches and A’Shawn Robinson were the two most-used backups inside. They both added a pressure and Robinson had 3 tackles. I’ve said this before, but I like the options this depth chart gives them to prevent too much of a workload for Lawrence and Williams.

LINEBACKER

-A game after one of the best single-game performances I have seen from a Giants linebacker, Bobby Okereke led the team with 11 tackles and a pass break up. Micah McFadden added a half-sack and a pressure along with 5 tackles. Between the two of them, they rushed the passer 17 times. Individually, they both blitzed the same number of times. I was surprised to see Washington not attack these two in coverage when the opportunities were there.

-Isaiah Simmons brings versatility to the table. In this game we saw him line up at outside linebacker a season-high 24 times, as snaps were needed for the injured Ojulari. In all games combined prior to this one, he lined up at outside linebacker 22 times. So, he more than doubled that alignment position. He added one pressure (a key play in the fourth quarter) and 3 tackles. A QB spy/hybrid pass rusher is the best spot for him.

CORNERBACK

-The Deonte Banks surge continues. The rookie intercepted the first pass of his career in the second quarter. Two plays later, Barkley scored the second touchdown and New York took a 14-0 lead. A turnover and an explosive play and a touchdown all within three snaps? It seemed like for six weeks the Giants couldn’t squeeze out any of those over the course of an entire game. The Banks play spurred everything. Banks got into it with Terry McLaurin early on and it may have come back to bite him a little in the second half. He was also flagged for a hold. But Banks made a big play and it can hide other issues. The other thing that I liked was how well he prevented yards after the catch. It means he is close, it means he can recover. Those are two basic, but must-have traits for the position.

-Adoree’ Jackson missed the game with a neck injury. This opened the door back up for rookie Tre Hawkins, who played a career-high 59 snaps. He and nickel Cor’Dale Flott both played a solid game against Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel. The two averaged about 7 yards per catch. Like Banks, these two did an excellent job at minimizing what happened after the catch. They combined for 10 tackles and Hawkins came up with a 3rd-down pass break-up.

SAFETY

-Yet another week, yet another game with both Xavier McKinney and Jason Pinnock on the field for every snap. Pinnock was a bit more active, finishing with 8 tackles, 1 TFL, and 1 sack where he went untouched. His play speed stands out. McKinney added 4 tackles. More importantly, the two of them did not miss a single tackle for the fourth-straight week. They combined for 9 missed tackles over the first three weeks. Since then? Zero. McKinney was flagged for a bogus penalty that I did not dock him for. It was a poor judgement call by the ref.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 0/1 (missed 42)
-P Jamie Gillan: 8 punts / 49.4 avg – 45.3 net

Gillan is quietly having a strong year. He leads the league in fair catches and is third in net average.

3 STUDS

-DT Dexter Lawrence, DT Leonard Williams, OG Mark Glowinski

3 DUDS

-TE Daniel Bellinger, OT Justin Pugh, WR Sterling Shepard

3 THOUGHTS ON WAS

1. It is hard to be a believer in Sam Howell. From my 2021 scouting report summary: “He had very little integrity and feel in the pocket…He also played in a very simple offense even for college standards…Howell does not look like a pro to me…” Now, I will say this kid deserves more time to develop, as he’s started just 8 games to this point. But when looking at the college evaluation and watching his tape over those 8 starts, the optimism cannot be high. He is making this offensive line look worse than it is, he is not fully maximizing the weapons at his disposal. Washington not pursuing a different route at quarterback this past offseason puzzled me then and it puzzles me now.

2. Terry McLaurin is a very good receiver, and I would assume most people agree. But do we have any idea how good he is? Here are the quarterbacks he has caught passes from: Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, Colt McCoy, Alex Smith (post injury), Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke, Garrett Gilbert, Ryan Fitzpatrick (1 quarter), Carson Wentz, Sam Howell. Talk about a rough lineup that never gets over the hump. McLaurin is just another example of a guy we often see in sports over the years. Someone who has the ceiling of being elite but never gets even close because of the situation around him. He really can’t be cut or traded because of cap reasons until after 2024 and at that point he will be entering his age-30 season.

3. Chase Young or Montez Sweat? Who are you taking? Both of the Washington defensive ends are free agents next spring. Both are former first rounders. Young has the better pedigree. Remember when many fans were upset in 2019 when NYG won two of their final three games, pushing them out of reach for Young in the following draft? Unfortunately, NYG had to choose eventual All-Pro Andrew Thomas that year while Young has missed 24 out of 57 games. Example #1,000 why getting too happy or too upset draft weekend can make one look foolish. Sweat, on the other hand, has missed just 7 out of 73 games and is a top-10 edge defender in the NFL who very few talk about. Young’s upside was and probably still is higher. He is playing some of the best football of his career right now, but that injury history needs to be considered when paying someone a long and expensive second contract.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

1. A team that needs to scrape by to win games must ensure their special teams are on point. It can undoubtedly be the difference in multiple close matchups. Kicker Graham Gano is trustworthy, and Jamie Gillan is quietly having the best season of his career. Kick returners simply do not matter much. However, the punt returner can still be incredibly influential in either direction. New York has dropped the ball here, literally, and figuratively. The Eric Gray experiment is odd. He did not do it once in 2022 with Oklahoma and had minimal experience in that role at Tennessee. Shepard had never returned a punt (college or NFL) prior to this past Sunday. The blunder with Adoree’ Jackson last year still stands out. This needs to be figured out even if it means another off-the-couch signing. They got lucky their issues there did not cost them the game.

2. Winning this game was important. The first reason being obvious. They were 1-5 and they’ve created a minuscule margin for error from here on out. Two, the easier stretch of their schedule is here with a bunch of teams hovering around .500 coming up. A couple more games like this and yes, they’re back in the playoff hunt. Don’t believe me? Go look for yourself. They’re still in it and the reinforcements are coming.

3. This was a clean game by NYG. There were fewer missed tackles. There were fewer miscommunications along the offensive line. There were no drops. There were fewer penalties. They were dominant defensively on third down. They averaged just under 10 yards per pass attempt. Football is complex on many levels, but the results are usually rather simple. Avoid mistakes and you win almost every time. There will never be a mistake free player or team or game, but this team can compete like they did last year if those avoidable issues (listed above) are in the rear-view mirror. Whatever changes the coaches made in their preparation last week worked.