David Syvertsen

David Syvertsen, aka Sy'56, has worked for Ourlads Scouting LLC since 2013, starting off as a college depth chart manager and now a lead scout for one the most-sold NFL draft guides year-in, year-out. He has been scouting for over 10 years and will compile anywhere from 400-600 scouting reports per season, with that number increasing year by year. He watches and studies game films 20-25 hours per week throughout the entire year with his main focus being NFL Draft prospects.

Jan 032018
 
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Steve Spagnuolo and Eli Manning, New York Giants (December 31, 2017)

Steve Spagnuolo and Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 18 – Washington Redskins 10

RECAP

The best part about turning the calendar to 2018 is the fact that the Giants 2017 season is officially done with. I have never been so wrong when it came to forecasting a Giants season and it seemed like forever ago when we were at training camp labeling this team a Super Bowl contender. And here we are, week 17 and the duo of John Jerry and Eli Manning were the only 2 offensive starters left on the field against the Redskins.

In front of a half-empty stadium, the Giants and Redskins played through a painful game to watch. An early touchdown by the Giants was the peak of the action as both teams seemed more interested in getting out alive than trying to win a game. The small sense of urgency by NYG stemming from a new General Manager aided the team towards their 18-10 bleeder and 3rd win of the season.

QUARTERBACKS

  • Eli Manning: 10/28 – 132 yards – 1 TD/1 INT. If this were a game full of meaning, the outlook on Manning might be a little lesser. But considering he was playing behind, and throwing the ball to, players who see the majority of their time in the 4th quarter of preseason games, he gets a slight pass. Manning had a season high 8 passes dropped in this one, lengthening his lead among all NFL quarterbacks in that category. Was this Manning’s last game with NYG? My gut says no, he will be back for at least one more year. Whether anyone thinks he still has it or not, there is no denying the fact evaluating his 2017 without acknowledging the fact he had the worst situation to deal with across the board in the NFL this year is not fair. Manning didn’t play well, I will say that. But I’m not sure who would have in this mess of a season.

RUNNING BACKS

  • Orleans Darkwa: 20 att/154 yards – 1 TD. On the game’s second play, Darkwa ran right and cut back inside thanks to two pre-snap audibles by Eli Manning at the line of scrimmage. It was the longest run of his career and 5th TD of the season. Darkwa averaged 4.1 yards per carry throughout the rest of the game and, as usual, dropped a pass. Where the team goes with him from here is very much up in the air, but I respect how hard he runs. This was a breakout year for Darkwa, as prior to this game, his career SEASON high was 153 yards, 1 less than he gained in this game alone.
  • Wayne Gallman: 15 att/89 yards – The explosive, quick accelerator had his share of big runs and outstanding adjustments to the defense. Gallman’s speed and elusiveness were one of the best surprises of 2017 and he needs to be factored into what this team plans on doing in 2018. If they bring in a back, it should be someone who excels in the play-to-play pounding and short-yardage situations. Gallman should have the change-of-pace spot locked up for a couple years, at least. Two things he absolutely needs to clean up, however, both occurred in this game. He had a drop and a fumble. Time to get in the weight room, too.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • Hunter Sharp: 3 rec/29 yards – 1 TD. Overall a very solid game for the second-year pro who was signed just 3 weeks prior. He brought in his first career touchdown pass on the second drive of the game. He showed quality routes throughout but also suffered two drops on consecutive plays later.
  • Travis Rudolph: 1 rec/29 yards. I was hoping to see more opportunities for one of the training camp studs who has been inching his way towards more and more playing time. His one play was an excellent catch and turn up field for a 29 yard gain, the biggest passing gain of the day.

TIGHT ENDS

  • Rhett Ellison: 5 rec/63 yards. A career-high 5 catches for Ellison, a guy the Giants underused all year. He was making catches and plays most are unaware he can make. This guy is much more than a blocking tight end who works hard and the next play caller needs to understand he can be a valuable weapon next year.
  • Jerrell Adams: 0 rec/0 yards. Adams looks the part and will occasionally make the catch in practice that can get you excited. But he had two opportunities, one of which was for a touchdown, and he dropped both. Two years in and looks like he won’t ever be anything more than a quality blocker. That is fine, but it won’t give him a ton of long-term security here.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Tackles: The two long-haired rookies who I got mixed up a few times during training camp were the starters for this game. A rookie 6th round pick on the right side and an UDFA on the left side – that is who was in charge of protecting the immobile Giants quarterback. As run blockers, they both graded out above average. Bisnowaty had a bad game elsewhere. He allowed 2 sacks and 2 pressures in addition to 2 holding penalties. It was the second-worse RT performance of the year only to former Giant Bobby Hart. And boy does it sound good to say former Giant there. Wheeler didn’t play as badly on the left side, but still was shaky with a slightly below average performance. He exceeded what almost every UDFA did in the NFL this year, thus nobody can look down on him. I do think he is in the picture for RT next year.
  • Interior: After a few bad weeks by OC Brett Jones, he put together a very solid performance. He was borderline dominant in the run game and didn’t have any mishaps as a pass blocker. John Greco subbed for John Jerry (concussion) at LG and I’ll tell you what, he played well. The 32-year old had 66 starts to his name prior to this game and he graded out right there with Jones. Right Guard Jon Halapio finished right below the average mark. He allowed 2 pressures and led the line in allowed tackles. Overall a solid year but he won’t be more than a backup moving forward.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Ends: Very solid game from the ends for the second week in a row. Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul combined for 2 sacks and 4 pressures. They were up against backup tackles and provided good gap integrity against the run as well. Neither had a good year or came even close to earning their high cap numbers. With this team being locked into those contracts for at least another year, they are going to be the 2018 starters.
  • Tackles: Damon Harrison ended his second straight season of dominance with NYG. He has been the best player on this team since the beginning of 2016 and will be a building block for next year. If this team runs a 4-3 or a 3-4, he will be the guy in the middle who makes other players better no matter what. Rookie Dalvin Tomlinson had his second best game of the season, totaling 4 tackles and 2 pressures. He had arguably the best year of all the rookie DTs in the league and will be a reliable starter on this team for a long time, no matter the scheme.

LINEBACKERS

  • Kelvin Sheppard intercepted 2 passes and finished with 6 tackles. For a guy who was a street free agent during the beginning of the season, he had a very solid year with the Giants. He probably won’t be a guy that sticks to the roster moving forward, but he had a very respectable year here. Solid inside defender who brings a physical presence to the defense.
  • Devon Kennard recorded his 4th sack of the season and broke up a pass. The versatility this kid has shown all year needs to be factored into his place on this team moving forward. He made a big impact as a pass rusher but is very limited in coverage. If this defense needs an edge presence who can fill LB roles here and there, Kennard will be a keeper.
  • Ray-Ray Armstrong and Calvin Munson are opposite linebackers. Armstrong is a plus athlete who lacks instincts and discipline while Munson is a step slow but has mightily improved his movement post-snap via reads and awareness from the beginning of the season. Neither are guys you make future personnel decisions around, but they do have a shot to stick around.

CORNERBACKS

  • In all honesty with no bias, Ross Cockrell may have played the CB position better than anyone in the NFL over the past 4 weeks. While he hasn’t been overly tested when it comes to quality of his opponent, Cockrell has been dominant. He broke up 4 passes and intercepted another one. He is in the running for a starting job next year and it would be a help when it comes to their approach in FA and the draft if they know he is gonna be the guy.
  • Brandon Dixon and Darryl Morris played the majority of the snaps at CB otherwise, as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie played just about a third of the snaps. Cromartie has a valuable role on this defense, but if his playing is going to hover around 50% or less of the plays, he may not be worth keeping considering his cap number. Dixon earned a right to fight for a roster spot next year with his impressive size, speed, and aggression. He doesn’t have the feel though, as every week I noticed him getting beat by double routes and lacking the balance and body control as he turned.

SAFETIES

  • With Landon Collins out, Andrew Adams took his place. Adams is impressive when the action is in front of him. Other than him missing a tackle, he finished with an impact across the board. He had 6 tackles, one TFL, and a pass breakup. Adams also added a pressure. His coverage is solid underneath, but his stiffness and lack of speed makes him a liability against WRs on an island and in deep coverage. Darian Thompson finished with 7 tackles and no misses. He has been solid in his first season as the starter, but the upside with him is limited. He doesn’t make an impact as a tackler and the deep coverage responsibilities are somewhat hampered by a lack of long speed and acceleration. He would be a very good third safety, but merely an average starter.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • K Aldrick Rosas: 2/2 (Made 23,28). Rosas had yet another extra point blocked early in the game. Hard to say if it his fault or the guys up front blocking. Rosas did not have a good year, too many misses. Kicker might need to be a priority this offseason if a reliable veteran shakes free.
  • P Brad Wing: 9 Punts – 40.3 avg / 33.0 net. A quiet game from Wing with a couple ducks. This was a bad year for Wing overall, especially the stretch early in the year where his late-game mishaps heavily contributed to multiple NYG losses. He should be put on notice.

3 STUDS

  • CB Ross Cockrell, LB Kelvin Sheppard, RB Orleans Darkwa

3 DUDS

  • OT Adam Bisnowaty, TE Jerell Adams, OG Jon Halapio

3 THOUGHTS ON WAS

  • Kirk Cousins had a very poor game. While the surrounding cast can be somewhat blamed, it is games like this that lead some to believe he just cant be the guy a team spend $20+ million on per year.
  • WAS has been in the middle of the pack for 3 straight years. Their progress has been halted and they always seem to be the team that is merely solid, but not scary. It looks like Gruden will get another year, but what is going to change? This is a team that is very well put together in the trenches but there isn’t enough star power at the playmaking positions. At some point Gruden needs to push for an aggressive move personnel wise.
  • Ryan Kerrigan has 47 sacks over the past 4 years and has never missed a game in his career. In 14 career NFC East games, he has 29 sacks which is over 2 per game. If there was one edge rusher in the league who I would call overlooked, it is him. I think he is one of the best players in the NFL. WAS has him locked up through 2020.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  • Initially I was indifferent about the Dave Gettleman hiring but the more I study his tenure in CAR and hear him speak, I think he is exactly what the team needs. Back to “old school”, no-nonsense type approaches on both sides of the ball and in the locker room. He is a guy huge on team culture and laser focus on the big picture. Get the bad apples out, the guys that don’t want to work, and slowly but surely increase the quality of people and players. Odell Beckham will be the most interesting case here. He will definitely will be here in 2018 but if the antics worsen, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him playing elsewhere in 2019. For the record, I want ODB here long term if he can mature at least a little bit.
  • The #2 pick discussion is now the main focus of NYG talk. This has the potential to be a monumental pick for the franchise. It will somewhat be based on what the team does in FA leading up to it. This is my thought, though a lot of us will over-think it and over-complicate it. This is a simple situation, really. Get the best player and I don’t care what position it is. RB, QB, WR, OT, DE…etc. If  a QB meets the grade, it will likely be the best decision for the future of this team over the other spots. If one doesn’t meet the grade, all bets are off. Get a special player and don’t look back.
  • Let’s not overlook that NYG is potentially heading into the offseason without any starting caliber OTs. Flowers had a solid year, but does he want to be here? Is he going to work hard for 365 days? Is he better suited at RG or RT? Wheeler, is he a 3rd tackle or a starter? Remember this, Gettleman values the trenches as much as anyone. With this current group in shambles, he may put a ton of resources into it via FA and the draft before he tries to plug other holes.
Dec 292017
 
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Sam Darnold, USC Trojans (December 1, 2017)

Sam Darnold – © USA TODAY Sports

2018 NFL Draft Prospects: December 29, 2017 Bowl Games

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

WAKE FOREST

#85 TE Cam Serigne – 6’3/240

5th year senior. Leaves WF and the ACC as the all time leader in receiving yards and catches among TEs. He isn’t a very dynamic athlete, but he catches everything thrown his way. Has a knack for finding extra yards after contact via awareness and toughness. Blue collar guy that will stick somewhere, albeit with a limited upside. 5th/6th rounder.

#53 DE Duke Ejiofor – 6’4/275

5th year senior. 2nd Team All ACC. Top tier run defender, plays the inside gap of the tackle really well. May want to bulk up and play a 3-4 DE type role, he can excel there. Crafty, excellent technique, nose for the ball. Some teams will have a 3rd round grade on him, not a pure edge guy though.

Other Notables:

#10 QB John Wolford – 6’1/200
#14 DE Wendell Dunn – 6’3/250
#6 LB Jaboree Williams – 6’0/245
#50 LB Grant Dawson – 6’1/225

TEXAS A& M

#92 DT Zaycovern Henderson – 6’2/300 (WIL NOT PLAY – Suspended)

*#3 WR Christian Kirk – 5’11/200

Junior that hasn’t declared yet, many expect him to. Was one of the top playmakers in the country from beginning of 2015 through end of 2016. As a returner and receiver, he was as electric as it got. 7 return TDs over his career.Led the SEC with 83 catches in 2016. There is some Odell Beckham in him when it comes to the explosion he has in and out of his breaks and the toughness he plays with. Production saw a dip in 2017 with such poor QB and OL play. But when looking at this kid move with the ball, he has 1st round talent written all over him.

#7 RB Keith Ford – 5’11/215

5th year senior, began career at Oklahoma but transferred when he saw he wasn’t going to be the guy. Effective downhill, short yardage back. Consistently breaks through initial contact but a limited athlete that won’t create on his own. Late rounder.

#4 WR Damion Ratley – 6’3/190

Fourth year senior that had a hard time seeing action in his first three years. Entered 2017 with 17 career catches, finished 2017 with 26-603-6. Legit deep speed, has always been a guy that would get people excited in training camp. Maybe someone gets a late rounder that is about to blossom?

#23 Armani Watts – 5’11/200

Four year starter, one of my favorite players in the draft. Likely will finish as my #1 or #2 safety in the class. I want to see how he tests athletically, if he is truly a 4.4 guy, I am putting him in my top 10 overall. This kid is all over the field, plenty of TFL, INTs, PDs, blocked kicks…etc. Just an incredibly smart player that tackles well. Not a big thumper, but he gets the man down. Would be an ideal fit next to Landon Collins in all likelihood.

#40 DE Jarrett Johnson – 6’3/260

Fourth year senior, played behind Daeshon Hall and Myles Garrett, got to show what he has in 2017. Looks like a pass rusher-only, but with upside. Love the body and pad level, has some natural tools that can be worked with. Just didn’t get a ton of playing time in college. Late rounder, maybe UDFA that is worth taking a chance on.

Other Notables:

#24 CB Priest Willis – 6’2/205
#9 DE Qualen Cunningham – 6’3/245

________________________________________________________

NC STATE

*#15 QB Ryan Finley – 6’4/210

Fourth year junior. Hasn’t declared yet, I am leaning towards him going back to school. He doesn’t have 1st round talent and in a somewhat crowded QB class, he could be the guy that gets bumped down to round 3-4. Finley is a pro style passer, excellent footwork and release. Very accurate, poised, consistent. Doesn’t have the live arm that some of these other guys do and his athletic ability is average at best. That said, I think he can be very solid in the NFL. Alex Smith type passer.

#1 WR/RB Jaylen Samuels – 5’11/236

In all honesty, one of my favorite players in the class. This guy may be as versatile as any offensive sklll position player I have ever scouted. He averaged 6+ yards per carry with 2017 being majority short yardage and goal line attempts, caught 195 passes, and scored 47 touchdowns over his 4 years. I’ve seen him 11 times over the past 2 years, and I think he can play both WR and RB in the NFL, a la Ty Montgomery. Samuels plays as hard as anyone, loves the game, total team player. He is a gamer that understands situational football very well. I think he is a 2nd rounder and it will be on the coaches to find the proper ways to use him.

*#7 Nyheim Hines – 5’9/197

Undeclared junior, guys that grade out round 3 or better are usually pushed to go to the NFL, legs only have so many mileage. Hines has already been banged up and with a strong 2017 where he had flashes of big play ability inside and out, he could definitely come out. He is really quick and explosive, runs physical. I think he has a better career in the NFL that he did in college.

#50 OG Tony Adams – 6’2/300

Four year starter. Powerfully built, specializes in run blocking with his initial punch and low center of gravity. Good straight line mover that equally struggles to move laterally with balance and quickness. Smart guy, leader of the line, makes the calls. Needs work on sustaining blocks. 4th/5th rounder.

#9 DE Bradley Chubb – 6’4/260

Fourth year senior that was very solid leading up to 2017, then broke out in a big way. Chubb was 2nd in the nation with 25 TFL. An equally dominant player against the run and pass, does all the little things right. Excellent hands, feet, and leverage. Mean dude, wants to obliterate his opponent. This can be a guy that changes the entire outlook of a defense. May not be the explosive edge guy some want, but he is a big time player with a probable top 10 overall grade.

#98 DT BJ Hill – 6’4/300

Fourth year senior with a lot of experience, started games every year of his career. Coaches say he is one of the most important players on that team, gets overlooked a lot. Really good at holding his ground, massive lower body power. Showed some penetration skills in 2017, he is a safe player to draft and put in to action right away.

#35 DE Kentavius Street – 6’2/290

Fourth year senior, little underwhelming career wise. Has experience at DT and DE, I think he may be best suited for DT at the next level, maybe a 3-4 DE role. Freakish athletic ability for a 290 pounder, will blow up the combine. He shows glimpses, he is more than an athlete. 4th rounder somewhat based on good workout numbers.

#27 DT Justin Jones – 6’2/312

Big guy with speed and hustles. Makes a lot of plays via secondary movement and pursuit, which I always like to see. Doesn’t do much at the point of attack, needs to work on initial positioning and hand placement. But guys this big that make as many tackles as he does (62 over past 2 years, 15 of which went for loss) are always worth looking at Day 3.

Other Notables:

#4 LB Jerod Fernandez – 6’0/227
#24 CB Shawn Boone – 5’10/206
#58 LB Airius Moore – 6’0/235

ARIZONA STATE

#7 RB Kalen Ballage – 6’3/230

4th year senior, was a goal line back early in his career and evolved in to more of an every down guy. Rare combination of size and speed, might see a big boost in his stock when the workouts happen. Has shown flashes of dominance, but consistency isn’t there. Doesn’t run with a feel, lacks vision and reaction ability. Limited in terms of what you can do with him scheme wise, 4th rounder.

#4 RB Demario Richard – 5’10/219

4th year senior. Gets overlooked because Ballage is the more sexy prospect based on tools, but Richard might be better suited for the NFL. He is quicker, just as hard to bring down, and has more vision and easy-ness to him. Creates more on his own. Has had some issues with drops and ball security, blocking is sub-par. 4th/5th rounder.

#3 LB DJ Calhoun – 6’0/236

4th year senior that was in and out of the starting lineup early in his career, had some discipline issues assignment wise. Cleaned things up in 2017, played very well. Led the team with 22.5 TFL over past two years. Physical and rangy wrap up tackler that is all over the field. Struggles in traffic. 4th/5th rounder.

Other Notables:

#44 LB Alani Latu – 6’2/248
#90 DT Tashon Smalwood – 6’0/279
#17 S J’Marcus Rhodes – 6’1/214
#65 OC AJ McCollum – 6’2/311

_________________________________________________________

KENTUCKY

*#41 OLB Josh Allen – 6’5/230

Junior that hasn’t declared yet, seems like he is coming out though. Really, just a 1 year starter/contributor that has really good tools. Explosive and fast, easy bender, that can both rush the passer an factor in coverage. Seems like a natural at both and his best days are ahead of him. He doesn’t make a physical impact on contact, not a powerful guy. Another year in school could make him a 1st rounder, while right now I see a 5th rounder.

Other Notables:

#9 WR Garrett Johnson – 5’11/175
#73 OT Kyle Meadows – 6’5/303
#68 OG Nick Haynes – 6’3/308
#70 OT Jordan Swindle – 6’7/313
#51 LB Courtney Love – 6’2/242

NORTHWESTERN

#9 TE Garrett Dickerson – 6’3/248

4th year senior, saw a spike in production in 2016. Has had a knack for making plays downfield and after the catch. Really interesting athlete that can sneak by guys. Foot speed and body control are a plus, but ball skills and hands have been inconsistent. 6th rounder.

#21 RB Justin Jackson – 5’11/193

4th year senior, has had a very productive career. Burst on to the scene as a freshman in 2014. 4 straight years of 1,000+ yards, but also 1,000+ career carries. I see a quality back with vision and instincts being his strengths but an inability to run through tacklers and break tackles Poor blocker. Just don’t see the presence of an NFL back, but I bet he makes a team with his plus-receiving ability 7th rounder. He will be at the Senior Bowl.

#1 DT Tyler Lancaster – 6’4/315

5th year senior. A ton of experience, team captain that coaches and teammates rave about. If you like enormous, long armed, big handed, country strong players this is your guy. He is going to put on a show at the combine with his bench press. He is functionally powerful as well, a major force inside. Can eat up space and make some plays at the point of attack. Not really a pass rusher but a reliable 2 down defender that will factor right away. 4th rounder, safe pick.

#16 S Godwin Igwebuike – 6’0/212

Fifth year senior, 3 year starter. Has been among the team’s leaders in tackles and interceptions since 2015. Some guys view him as a top tier, maybe top overall, safety in the class. I don’t see it because he has a hard time seeing things transpire before they do. Doesn’t forecast well. Fooled by playaction a lot, double routes kill him. He tackles well and shows excellent agility, but a safety needs the 6th sense. I say 4th/5th rounder.

#21 S Kyle Queiro – 6’2/221

Fifth year senior. Missed some time earlier in his career with an injury. Broke out in a big way in 2017, leading the team with 4 INTs. Has more upside than Igwebuike considering his frame and versatility. He can match up in man coverage against slot corners, has a better feel for the game. Right now I have him in round 5, but I am going to se more of him in the coming months and he has top 100 potential.

Other Notables:

#69 OC Brad North – 6’2/290
#15 WR Macan Wilson – 6’0/185

_____________________________________________________

USC

*#14 QB Sam Darnold – 6’4/225

Third year junior. Broke out in 2016, more in particular in the Rose Bowl against Penn State. Entered the year as the top prospect in the nation, everyone assumed he would be the guy the #1 overall team would take. That isn’t as clear now. Darnold had a rough year and if I am going to be honest, a really rough year. We already knew the arm strength, body, toughness, athletic ability…all of that was there. Darnold turned the ball over way too many times and looked terrible in the pocket for the majority of the year. Just a young kid trying to do too much. Trying to fit balls in to windows that didn’t exist, didn’t protect the ball with defenders around him. The chatter of his OL being poor is a weak argument. Darnold played poorly and there isn’t any way around it. There is a ways to go with him and maybe this ends up being a good thing for him, maybe it doesn’t. But I know this right now, I am nervous about drafting him that high.

*#25 RB Ronald Jones – 6’0/200

A few months ago I was under the impression there was no shot anyone would over take Saquon Barkley as the class’ top running back. Well, I still have him up there but Ronald Jones is making things difficult. Jones might be the most explosive, best moving back I’ve scouted in years. The former USC track athlete has the forward lean and top tier balance that make him a threat to reach his elite top speed in a blink. He leaves school as one of the top rushers in program history and is a 1st rounder in my book, maybe a top 10 talent.

*#80 WR Deontay Burnett – 6’0/175

Junior that hasn’t declared. If Darnold comes out, Burnett probably will too. His stock isn’t anything special right now, but his QB play will likely drop next year and he may not want to risk playing a year with lesser talent around him. He is very slight-framed, doesn’t have a ton of deep speed. He does move very well underneath, showing excellent slot potential. But can a guy under 180 pounds hack it physically? I prefer more strength potential. 3rd/4th rounder.

*#94 DT Rasheem Green – 6’4/275

Junior that hasn’t declared yet, I think he will. He stood out to me from week 1, a guy that looks like an NFL player on a college field. Just massive everywhere, has pro-caliber technique and movement. His ideal fit is 3-4 DE and I think he can be one of the best in the league. This is a guy that PIT or NE drafts and goes on to a stable and consistent 10 year career. Safe pick with big upside.

#42 OLB Uchenna Nwosu – 6’2/240

Fourth year senior, 2 year starter. Very active 3-4 OLB type that checks all the technique boxes. Excellent with his hands and leverage, wins a lot of 1 on 1 battles that way. He is a step too slow when it comes to pure edge rushing speed and doesn’t carry a ton of presence physically. I think 4th/5th rounder.

#98 DT Josh Fatu – 6’2/315

Senior that started off at junior college. Broke out in 2017, carries tremendous power and short area quickness. He can be a factor between the tackles. Actually had 6.5 sacks this year, didn’t see that coming but he is so good off the ball and after initial contact. I think he can be a 4th rounder that contributes early.

Other Notables:

#4 WR Steven Mitchell – 5’10/195
#74 OC Nico Falah – 6’4/285
#4 S Chris Hawkins – 5’11/190

OHIO STATE

#74 OT Jamarco Jones – 6’5/310

Senior, 2 year starter. He is the one guy I am targeting right now that can likely be had in round 2 that I think is a week 1 starter at LT in the NFL. If NYG doesn’t want to move forward with Flowers at that spot, Jones is interesting to me. Excellent footwork and hand placement, stays under control. Has some trouble sustaining in space and will be slow out of his stance at times. I like him.

#54 OC Billy Price – 6’4/312

Fifth year senior. Leader of the line, All American. Widely considered the best OC in the draft, maybe the top interior guy in the class behind Quenton Nelson. Coaches love this kid, as hard a worker as you will find and always gets the job done. Has plenty of experience at OG and OC. Gets a little sluggish in there, feet will get stuck. I would be a little worried with him at guard, but at OC I think he is plug and play.

*#21 WR Paris Campbell – 6’1/208

Undeclared junior. Raw but exciting player that would likely be a 1st rounder next year. Right now he is viewed more as a gamble, just hasn’t gotten a lot of looks. 52 career catches. Can really shoot out of a cannon and he tracks the ball exceptionally well.

#16 QB JT Barrett – 6’2/230

A lot of people like to overlook this kid. He isn’t among the top QBs in the class, not close, but as a late round shot in the dark he might be one of my favorite QBs. Has a ton of experience in big situations, has responded really well in the majority of them. Has a lot of work to do on his footwork but he reads the defense well, has mightily improved his throwing, and has shown to be very innovative. Barrett doesn’t project as a starter in the NFL right now, but he is very coachable, tough, and talented. For a day 3 pick, what more can you want?

*#12 CB Denzel Ward – 5’10/191

Undeclared junior. May have been the team’s 2nd best CB last year behind Lattimore, but a little overlooked because of tools-rich Gareon Conley. Ward is very good at playing the ball. A lot of PDs despite teams rarely throwing his way. Excellent slot defender, a growing role in the NFL. Doesn’t tackle well, but does make an impact on special teams as well.

#7 S Damon Webb – 5’11/195

Senior that has played CB and S. I am looking forward to studying him more. I often discuss the need for a safety to have the 6th sense, Webb has it. He is very smart and quick to react. Has true, legit sideline range from the CF spot. Size is a little bit of a worry for the position, doesn’t impact the game much as a tackler. When I talk about what the Giants need next to Landon Collins, Webb is it.

*#86 DT Dre’Mont Jones – 6’3/295

Third year sophomore. Scouts love this guy, upside through the roof. Hasn’t really put everything together yet but I bet if he comes out, he ends up being a top 45 pick. Has the NFL body right now and when he turns it on, rare athletic ability. A gamble because he hasn’t produced consistently yet.

#59 DE Tyuan Lewis – 6’4/266

5th year senior, a lot of experience. Powerful, has had NFL calibe strength and power for 2 years now. Led the team with 8 sacks in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Doesn’t have the initial explosion off the edge, but he can make up for it somewhat with what he does post engagement. Strong hands, aggressive nature, pursues hard. Projects as a starter or #3 guy that plays a lot.

*#6 DE Sam Hubbard – 6’5/265

Undeclared fourth year junior. Was tabbed as the next Joey Bosa, probably unfairly. He hasn’t reached anywhere near that level but the tools still excite me. Big and nimble, bends well, can play the hands game very well. The quick twitch and explosion are average though. I think he is a solid rotational guy in the NFL, safe pick, but a limited player.

#11 DE Jalyn Holmes – 6’5/274

Overlooked senior. Nick Bosa has made it tough for Holmes to get on the field a lot, but don’t take that as Holmes not being good. I think his potential is just as high as Hubbard and Lewis. Has the frame, has the moves, has the quick feet. He may be the most attractive DL on this team when it comes to long term progression.

#35 LB Chris Worley – 6’2/230

Senior with 2 years of starting experience. I’m not wild about him, kind of average across the board. Has played with more talent in front of him than maybe any LB in the country but still struggles to produce a lot. Weak contact as a tackler, speed is OK. Coverage OK.

Other Notables:

#85 TE Marcus Baugh – 6’5/250
#93 DT Tracy Sprinkle – 6’3/293

Dec 272017
 
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Olivier Vernon, New York Giants (December 24, 2017)

Olivier Vernon – © USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Cardinals 23 – New York Giants 0

QUARTERBACKS

  • Eli Manning: 27/45 – 263 yards – 0 TD/2 INT. Manning also lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. It was a rough day for Manning, as his 57.9 QB rating was his second lowest of the year. Manning’s footwork and release points were just simply off for the majority of the game. The NFL’s best defense over the past 2 months appeared to be in his head more than it should have been, as he was sidestepping pressure that wasn’t always there and rushing throws that he didn’t need to. His accuracy was an issue for almost the entire game.

RUNNING BACKS

  • Wayne Gallman: 10 att/18 yards – 6 rec/44 yards. There weren’t enough opportunities for Gallman to find his groove. They were playing from behind for the majority of the game and the fast, physical defensive front was too much for the Giants OL to handle. Seeing him take big hits week after week and getting right back up is a good sign. He has plenty of toughness and with another couple of years of NFL weight training, he can be our guy. His movement and vision are very good.
  • Orleans Darkwa: 6 att/10 yards. Darkwa didn’t have any luck against this defensive front, either. Darkwa has really disappeared in the second half of the season. He hasn’t averaged over 3 yards per carry since November 19 against the Chiefs. Bad hands, bad vision, won’t create much on his own.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • Sterling Shepard: 5 rec/45 yards. Also had a drop on a poorly thrown, but catchable 3rd-down pass from Manning. After a career game last week, Shepard didn’t factor much before aggravating a neck injury that forced him to miss most of the 4th quarter. They tried sending him deep on a couple of occasions, but him and Manning just couldn’t connect. And Shepard isn’t a deep separation guy, doesn’t have that next gear.
  • Roger Lewis: 4 rec/40 yards. Lewis was the most targeted receiver of the day, getting 11 looks from Manning. He responded with his worst performance of the season. He had 3 drops and ran poor routes, struggling to gain separation on simple routes. Lewis is catching the ball with his body too often and has proven that despite more opportunity in 2017, he is a #5 WR at best. He did not take a jump up that totem pole this season.

TIGHT ENDS

  • Rhett Ellison: 4 rec/60 yards. With Engram going down early with a rib injury, Ellison saw a spike in playing time and targets. In my end of year review, I will discuss Ellison as one of the most underused players on this team. He responds well to his targets percentage wise as much as any pass catcher on this team and he has a way of always finding extra yards.
  • Jerrell Adams: 4 rec/31 yards. Adams also saw a spike in playing time and caught all of his targets. Adams is a slow-twitch athlete who doesn’t dominate as a blocker the way he should, but he has done well in his limited opportunities as well. The tight end position appears to be set for the next few years.
  • Evan Engram: 1 rec/12 yards. Went down with a rib injury early, sat out the rest of the game and will likely sit next week. Capped an outstanding rookie season.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Tackles: Ereck Flowers went backwards, especially in the 2nd half. He had a terrible series, allowing 1 pressure and 2 holds within one drive. He had 2 other pressures in addition, struggling to stick with stunts and late movement. His game seemed off in comparison to what we have seen over the past 3 months. He needs to finish strong, because that LT spot is far from securely his. Bobby Hart allowed 2 pressures and a sack. Not much needs to be said here; he is not a starting caliber OL in this league and I’m not sure he backup caliber, either.
  • Interior: Brett Jones had another below average performance, as did Jon Halapio. They were unable to hold the point-of-attack or lock on to their respective defenders. John Jerry allowed a TFL and 1 pressure, but graded out as the top OL in this game with a mark right at the average point. He isn’t a guy who played bad enough to lose his job but he also isn’t a guy who played well enough to keep it heading in to the 2018 offseason.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Tackles: Damon Harrison continued his All-Pro caliber play. I don’t spend much time even looking at the Pro Bowl rosters, but I will say it again, there is not a better DT in the NFL. He had 2 TFL, 2 pressures, and continued to make plays sideline to sideline. His impact within the tackle box is as dominant as any player in the league at their respective position. Dalvin Tomlinson was quiet, but also effective at controlling the inside gaps. Jay Bromley did record a TFL, but he led the DL in negative plays mainly from him getting pushed back 2+ yards multiple times.
  • Ends: A very solid performance from the starting duo. One thing that can be tough to do is take the previous disappointments and not let them impact the current evaluation. Jason Pierre-Paul has been the most underperforming player on this 2017 team, but he was very disruptive in this game. Blowing up tight ends and tackles at the point-of-attack and finishing with 4 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 pressures. Olivier Vernon added a sack/fumble of his own along with a pressure and 3 tackles.

LINEBACKERS

  • Kelvin Sheppard led the team with 9 tackles. More of the same with him, solid play between the tackles with a lot of physical presence behind his hits, but anything in to space and he gets exposed badly.
  • This was the first extended look I got at the newly signed Ray-Ray Armstrong. He played 40% of the team’s snaps and flashed some of the athleticism and power this LB corps has lacked for a long time. He still doesn’t look like a natural linebacker out there, showing hesitation on his reads and too many recovery steps.

CORNERBACKS

  • Ross Cockrell continues to show he deserves a long term spot on this team, meaning he needs to be on this team in 2018. He brought in 2 interceptions, both of which he showed excellent body control and ball skills, 1 of which was in the end zone. This will be one of the major positives that comes out of the 2017 season; he has played exceptionally well and has steadily improved with the more playing time he got.
  • Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has impressed me. Not necessarily in that his level of play has been what it used to, although he has been more than solid, but in his constant hustle, leadership and effort. After his suspension earlier in the year, I thought this was going to end ugly in NY for him, but he plays as hard as anyone on this team.
  • Brandon Dixon went through some growing pains in this one, being outclassed by Larry Fitzgerald on multiple occasions. Outclassed to the point that on double routes, Dixon couldn’t stay within 4-5 yards of him. He allowed a touchdown to Fitzgerald and John Brown.

SAFETIES

  • After one of his most physical tackles of the year, Landon Collins went down with a broken arm which will end his season. He had a good, but far from great, season. Collins needs to be used carefully, because there is a lot he simply cannot do in coverage.
  • Andrew Adams received more playing time via the Collins injury, and he did not respond well. The sixth sense I talk about when looking at safeties is something he just doesn’t have. Far too many times he is dropping into zone coverage unaware of who and what is around him. He also missed 2 tackles. Darian Thompson had 4 tackles and picked up deep routes well, although he wasn’t challenged much.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Aldrick Rosas: 0/1. Rosas missed his lone opportunity of the day, a 33-yard attempt that sailed wide left.
  • Brad Wing: 6 Punts – 43.8 avg – 39.0 net. Wing suffered an ankle injury on an uncalled roughing the kicker penalty.

3 STUDS

  • DT Damon Harrison, CB Ross Cockrell, DE Jason Pierre-Paul

3 DUDS

  • OC Brett Jones, WR Roger Lewis, OG Jon Halapio

3 THOUGHTS ON ARI

  • This team is built to win a lot of games right now, if only they had an accomplished QB who can stay on the field and throw the ball down field with success. Yes, Eli Manning would be an ideal fit for that team while they groom a long-term answer. The defense is top 5 in the NFL and is loaded with young talent who will be around for the next few years. If Manning doesn’t shake free, this would be an ideal landing spot for Kirk Cousins.
  • Larry Fitzgerald is not a veteran WR who should hang it up. He is one of the top WRs in the game and I place him right under the Jones/Brown/Beckham tier. How he runs routes, catches the ball with his hands, and controls his body is something every young WR should study. He does everything at a high level and continues to work hard to improve, not just sustain, his skill set. He has multiple years left, no doubt.
  • Bruce Arians has always been one of my favorite coaches since his days as an OC in Pittsburgh. He has a sense of realness to him, but still a guy who grown men playing in the NFL will fear. He is a guy who I would take in NY right now if he were to ever get out of ARI. He gets the most out of his players, especially QBs.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  • These games are painful and there are certain players you can’t get a fair evaluation on. Manning played poorly, made some mistakes a veteran like him should not make. But can we consider who he is throwing the ball to? And the line that is blocking in front of him? I wouldn’t call them excuses, but it has to be considered when trying to figure out if he should still be the guy moving forward. I am on record as saying that I think this team can still win with Manning but that doesn’t mean I would look past QB at #2 overall.
  • The Landon Collins/Eli Apple saga is going too far now. Collins shouldn’t be saying what he is saying to the media, the whole cancer comment was a bit too much. At this point, with how public the team’s distaste for Apple is, the trade value couldn’t be lower. So with that said, they may be forced in to keeping him another year and hoping he grows up and/or gets stimulated with the new coaching staff.
  • At this point, there is still a possibility 1 or 2 OT’s can be in the running for the #2 overall pick. Has Ereck Flowers proven he deserves to be the guy there? Or do you take his skill set and move it to RT and draft Connor Williams (Texas) or Brian O’Neill (Pittsburgh)? If Manning is going to play out this contract, the OL may have to become priority A and B this offseason and if a new shiny rookie can hack it at LT, Pugh comes back strong, and Flowers sustains this level of play at RT, we have something to work with – something much better than what we have seen in recent years. At this point, anything is and should be considered possible.
Dec 202017
 
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Olivier Vernon, New York Giants (December 17, 2017)

Olivier Vernon – © USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles 34 – New York Giants 29

RECAP

With each week comes a gap that is that much shorter before this horrendous 2017 season is over for the bottom-feeder Giants, the second worst team in the NFL. What was destined to be a blowout-type projection with the Eagles aiming at a first round bye in the playoffs behind their MVP candidate QB Carson Wentz quickly became a closer-to-even match-up as Wentz tore his ACL last week. Nick Foles, former Eagles backup, was back in the saddle after a few unsuccessful seasons with the Rams and Chiefs, respectively.

The Giants’ 31st-ranked scoring offense came out, surprisingly, on fire. Eli Manning was spreading the ball out, hitting his targets on the numbers, and looking confident. They opened with a 13 play drive that ended with an Orleans Darkwa 1-yard touchdown run, the first time NYG scored 6 on their first drive of the game all season. Aldrick Rosas had his PAT blocked, leaving the score at 6-0. PHI responded with a touchdown drive of their own, with the biggest play being at the hands of a missed sack by Jason Pierre-Paul and a 32-yard pass interference penalty on Darian Thompson. Two plays later, Foles found the newly-signed long-term receiver Alshon Jeffrey for 6, his ninth TD catch of the year. There isn’t a single 3-WR combination on the Giants that have 9 TDs on the year.

Manning was out to prove that first drive wasn’t a fluke, as he engineered another touchdown via 10 plays. The Giants’ no-huddle offense sent the PHI defense scrambling, as the pass rush substitutes weren’t able to get on the field and the PHI defensive backs looked lost. Tavarres King brought in his 2nd TD catch of the year.

After a quick PHI possession, it took NYG 3 plays to get in the end zone again, this time a short pitch to Sterling Shepard and a 63 yard-after-catch scamper down the sideline aided by good downfield blocking and porous tackling by the PHI secondary. It was early in the 2nd quarter and NYG held a commanding 20-7 lead with the Eagles looking lost with a backup QB leading the charge. They had to stop the bleeding first, then figure how they were going to dig out of this deep hole on the road.

All within the last 6 minutes of the first half, a Manning interception to Ronald Darby led to a quick touchdown pass from Foles to Zach Ertz (a tight end scoring a TD, surprise, surprise) and then a blocked punt in NYG territory led to a touchdown pass from Foles to Trey Burton (a tight end scoring a TD, surprise, surprise). In 2:30 of game clock, the score went from 20-7 NYG to 21-20 PHI. The nightmares of 2017 continue. NYG did put together a quick and efficient 11 play drive at the end of the half capped by a 28-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas to take a 23-21 lead at halftime, however.

PHI took the lead back on the first possession of the second half via a field goal by Jake Elliot, a likely Pro Bowler. Foles was inconsistent, as he was for the rest of the half, but he made key throws and/or the NYG defense failed to step up in key situations. The second PHI possession of the second half yielded more points, this time a touchdown from Foles to Nelson Agholor after newly-acquired Jay Ajayi picked up a combined 54 yards on 2 straight plays, the second of which was another low-ball effort by Eli Apple. It was 31-23 just like that.

PHI offered a couple of mistakes themselves with an offsides on a NYG punt that led to a re-birth of a drive and a missed tackle by Darby that enabled King to scamper into the end zone for his second touchdown of the day, bringing NYG back with 2 of the Eagles towards the end of the 3rd quarter. NYG lined up for a 48-yard field goal attempt at the beginning of the fourth, but for the 3rd time a NYG kick was blocked. This time Malcolm Jenkins snuck around the outside and got just enough of it. The 4th quarter woes appeared to be following this team yet again.

PHI marched down the field, ate up 7:30 of game clock, and hit a short field goal to extend their lead to 5. It was now touchdown or bust for the 2-11 Giants. Manning, yet again, led this offense down the field and was looking like his old, clutch self. With replacement-level receivers, he was spreading the ball out, escaping pressure, and making several changes at the point-of-attack in their solid no-huddle offense. It was 4th-and-goal from the 6-yard line and…right tackle Bobby Hart proved it again. The worst right tackle in the league was flagged for a false start, pushing NYG back to the 11-yard line, a major difference. Manning was forced to throw the ball before he wanted to and it was out of the reach of Engram. Game over, Giants fall to 2-12.

QUARTERBACKS

  • Eli Manning: 37/57 – 434 yards – 3 TD/1 INT. In 2 games this year, Manning has passed for 700 yards and 6 touchdowns against PHI. His 434 in this game were the most he has had in one game since week 4 of 2015. The play-calling called for more downfield passing than we have seen all year and it begs the question, why wasn’t this approach earlier in the year? Manning’s greatest strength has always been downfield passing and this was the first week we saw him do it consistently.

RUNNING BACKS

  • Wayne Gallman: 8 att/39 yards – 6 rec/40 yards. More of the same from the 4th-round rookie. Gallman has a burst and change of direction that continues to create on its own that the other NYG backs don’t have, plain and simple. He is running hard and tough, in addition. His play, his improvement, and his approach each week is a good sign for the future.
  • Orleans Darkwa: 9 att/7 yards – 1 TD – 1 rec/9 yards. Rightfully so, Darkwa is being slightly phased out of the offense as this team needs to see what Gallman can present. We know what we have in Darkwa. An average between-the-tackles rusher who can break tackles, which is important, but can’t do anything else at a high level.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • Sterling Shepard: 11 rec/139 yards – 1 TD. Shepard was targeted early and often, 16 times. That is the most Manning has targeted any pass catcher all year. Shepard did have another drop, however. This kid is a tough player who is starting to show he is more than a 3rd-and-5 slot receiver. He can make some things happen and excels at getting himself open. He is a keeper, but won’t ever be more than a #3 on a good passing offense.
  • Roger Lewis: 4 rec – 74 yards. Lewis was targeted 10 times and is developing in a positive way before our eyes. I’m not ready to say he needs to be a part of the 2018 group, but he is closer than he was since Beckham and Marshall were injured. Lewis is showing more body control and speed as a route runner and when he is attacking a 50/50 ball. Good signs.
  • Tavarres King: 2 rec – 70 yards – 2 TD. King made the most of his day, getting in the end zone twice despite only having a couple catches and leaving the game early via injury. His body control is upper tier, but elsewhere is game is very limited. Plus with that frame, not sure he will ever be durable.

TIGHT ENDS

  • Evan Engram: 8 rec/87 yards. The second-most targeted pass catcher on the day is on a mini hot streak. He did have another drop, but this kid is just getting more and more confident each week. It is enabling him to play faster, which is hard to believe because he was already the most impressive athlete in the NFL at TE. He was manhandled by DE Vinny Curry twice, so there is still a blocking deficiency there but he has done better than most thought this year.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Tackles: With Manning dropping back deeper in the pocket and holding onto the ball longer, it put more on the OL’s shoulders. For the most part, they responded well against a pass rush that has been more than solid this year. Ereck Flowers had a another below average game, allowing 2 sacks (1 of which was on a 2 pt conversion), 2 pressures, and recorded a holding penalty. He saved himself with some quality run blocking, however. Bobby Hart is still in the starting lineup for some reason. He allowed 2 pressures and 2 TFL while recording an atrocious false start penalty at the end of the game. Chad Wheeler deserves playing time over these next 2 weeks.
  • Interior: Pleasantly surprised by this group. They didn’t do a good job run blocking, but they held up well against an interior pass rush that has been among the best in football this year. You could see the frustration boiling in Timmy Jernigan late in the game. John Jerry had his second-best game of the year and third game where he was above average. Brett Jones and Jon Halapio were right at the slightly above average mark.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Ends: Another woefully quiet game by Jason Pierre-Paul. He was over-matched by Lane Johnson, arguably the top RT in the league. He had a free sack put in front of him in the first quarter but Nick Foles, not known for his movement ability at all, pump faked and juked him badly which led to Thompson’s 32-yard pass interference penalty. Olivier Vernon was disruptive, as he was up against the backup left tackle for PHI. He recorded a sack-fumble and a season high 6 pressures. It was his best game of the year.
  • Tackles: Damon Harrison played a season high 75% of the team’s snaps, good to see a guy like him who has been banged up almost all year continue to play his heart out. His grades have been sky high all season. Dalvin Tomlinson recorded 3 tackles and continues to improve his hand techniques. This DT unit is going to be a major strength moving forward, among the best in the league. Jay Bromley recorded a TFL in limited action and he has been a pleasant surprise over the past 5-6 games.

LINEBACKERS

  • B.J. Goodson was back in the lineup, but ended up leaving the game with another injury. He has had a very hard time staying on the field and whether it is luck or not, it will have to be considered when evaluating how to approach the LBs this offseason. He did have 7 tackles, 1 of which was for a loss. His speed and range looks limited, as he just doesn’t carry any sort of fluidity unless he is attacking downhill. That can be a problem.
  • Kelvin Sheppard is an older, slightly less athletic version of Goodson. Not dismissing him, as he does make an impact between the tackles and plays with a physical brand. However he, Calvin Munson, and Devon Kennard simply take away from the speed of the defense. Kennard gets a pass because of his pass rush versatility, but this team needs more speed in this unit. No doubt. And you know who is a free agent this upcoming offseason? Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham.

CORNERBACKS

  • Another solid game by Ross Cockrell. I am curious to see the numbers on him over the past 5-6 weeks when it comes to QB rating on balls thrown his way. He had another solid PD and looked excellent on the All-22. Coverage strengths against all levels of the passing tree.
  • Eli Apple was back in action and showed a few flashes of his talent, which is certainly first-round caliber. He was involved in some very physical plays and after that, his hustle and intensity dwindled. When I see things like that, I just think this kid isn’t a football player. Very poor effort on the Jay Ajayi screen play that went for a big gain. Maybe the new coaching staff will give him the reboot he needs, but I’m not optimistic there.
  • Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie made an aggressive mistake that led to an Eagles touchdown. He jumped the wrong route and left his man sitting in the end zone all alone. Mistake? Yes. But if he guessed right and came away with a pick 6, he would have been praised for it. I don’t mind things like that happening to be honest.

SAFETIES

  • Darian Thompson finished with 9 tackles and a PD. He didn’t make a lot of mistakes but the two that he did make were game-changing. He had a deep pass interference call that put PHI inside the 5-yard line and a horrid missed tackle on Zach Ertz. The situations exaggerated the mistakes a tad, but that is the name of the game. Those two mistakes led to 10 points for PHI.
  • Landon Collins only played about a quarter of the team’s snaps. Andrew Adams was his replacement and finished with 6 tackles, but also missed 2 others. After a surprising rookie season in 2016, he appears to have gone backwards. He can be beat by quickness too often and that is simply the name of the game in the NFL now. Not sure he deserves to be here long term.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • K Aldrick Rosas: 1/2 (Made 28, 48 blocked). Rosas had an extra point blocked as well as a 48-yard attempt late in the game. Looking back, it looks like he was a hair slow getting to the ball and the blocking was poor on the field goal. Rough year for this kid.
  • P Brad Wing: 2 Punts – 37.0 avg. Quiet day for the most used punter in the league this season.

3 STUDS

  • QB Eli Manning, WR Sterling Shepard, DE Olivier Vernon

3 DUDS

  • DE Jason Pierre-Paul, OT Bobby Hart, FS Darian Thompson

3 THOUGHTS ON PHI

  • I said this before the Wentz injury, but this PHI secondary is going to hold this team back in the postseason. If and when they get matched up against a quality air attack, they’re finished. I’ve heard some commentators speak highly of Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby…etc. These guys are not good at all.
  • Unfortunate for PHI fans that they won’t be able to see what their young franchise QB can do in the playoffs. It is a huge part of whether or not they have “The One”. Postseason play is huge in terms of evaluating QB play and they are going to have to wait now.
  • The PHI pass rush has the makings of something that can be special. Rookie Derek Barnett, the underrated Brandon Graham, and interior forces of Timmy Jernigan and Fletcher Cox may be one of the best 3rd-down rushing groups in the league. And they are all going to be there for at least another few seasons. Another reason to stock up on OL talent for NYG.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  • Touching on this again…but why wasn’t the passing offense approached like this all year? Throw the ball downfield. Let Eli take his chances, even if it means more INTs. I think this game proves he has plenty left in the tank and he should be the guy next year. But it also proves that when McAdoo was here, the approach was very flawed. It was extremely easy to predict and defend against. This was the best the passing game looked in 2 years and Manning had Roger Lewis, Tavarres King, and Kalif Raymond running routes!
  • I still have a thought of considering Saquon Barkley, RB out of Penn State, with the NYG first pick. I see a lot of “special” in him. Yes, if the next franchise QB is there grade-wise you take him, but what if he isn’t? You can’t force that pick and you could get a guy that helps this team win games next year. I can see a combination of Barkley and Wayne Gallman just running wild. Objective A, B, and C after that is building the OL. I think it is a good plan for the last year or two of Manning’s career here.
  • Is the defense that bad? I don’t think so. I think there are legit worries at two spots. One, the edge rushing. This team needs a new, young fresh force at DE or pass rushing OLB. Two, the depth at CB is going to look thin if Rodgers-Cromartie isn’t back. He has another year left I think, but he is frail and behind him, there is next to nothing. CBs are very hard to find. Cockrell is a keeper, Jenkins can be very good if his head is on straight, Apple is such a wildcard. That isn’t a spot you want to struggle at. But if they can bring in one more feasible talent and build the edge rush, I think this defense can quickly be back in the top-10 discussion.
Dec 132017
 
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Rhett Ellison, New York Giants (December 10, 2017)

Rhett Ellison – © USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys 30 – New York Giants 10

RECAP

A 2-10 team could not have had more attention than what the Giants had coming into their home, week 14 match-up against the middle-of-the-pack Dallas Cowboys. Eli Manning made his first start back after a one-week hiatus for the first time since 2004. This was the result after ownership opted to fire Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese which was inevitable but possibly accelerated because of how they handled the Manning benching. With the NYG throwback uniforms being worn and a crowd that was fully behind Manning at the start, the game had an intense feel to it for the first time in months.

There was an odd, uncommon start to the game. Both teams put together marathon drives, 16 plays for DAL and 17 for NYG. They both resulted in 3 points respectively and before we knew it, the game was into the 2nd quarter. Dallas was shooting themselves in the foot with multiple offsides penalties by their defensive line and failure to capitalize on two NYG fumbles.

Spurred by a 35-yard pass to Evan Engram, NYG marched down to the goal line on their 3rd drive of the game. In true calm, cool, and almost relaxed fashion, Manning hit Rhett Ellison for a 1-yard touchdown on a play-action rollout to the right. NYG led 10-3 against a Cowboys team that has been mightily struggling to find their offensive identity without their suspended running back Ezekiel Elliot.

The sparse NYG crowd came to life but it was short lived. Dak Prescott hit Dez Bryant on a short slant and an aggressive mistake by cornerback Brandon Dixon, who went all in on trying to deflect the pass, led to Bryant spinning free post-reception with nothing but green in front of him. It was a 50-yard touchdown that evened the game at 10 with under 2 minutes left in the half and that ended up being the score at halftime.

The 3rd quarter saw DAL and NYG trade possessions a few times, with Damon Harrison dominating the Cowboys offensive line and Sean Lee impacting the game on every possible level against the Giants’ offense. The most accurate kicker in NFL history, Dan Bailey, missed his second in three chances as the end of the quarter came to a close. On 3rd-and-2 near midfield on the ensuing NYG possession, Sterling Shepard dropped a pass (adding the NYG first place ranking in that category). After forcing a 3 and out, NYG had 3rd-and-2 again approaching midfield and this time it was Roger Lewis who came up with the drop. The NYG receivers helped to set up what ended up being one of the ugliest quarters of the 2017 season.

Prescott hit Giants killer Jason Witten for a 20-yard touchdown up the – you guessed – middle of the defense with 7:45 left. All was not lost and NYG was still very much in it. Poor play calling and execution led to an NYG punt despite being in DAL territory. DAL faced a 3rd-and-3 and even though their thought process was to get the clock to 0:00, they went with an empty backfield approach. One quick slant later to RB Rod Smith and the NYG defense was trying to catch him from behind but to no avail. DAL took the commanding 23-10 lead (failed extra point).

As if that wasn’t enough, Manning threw his first of two interceptions into the waiting arms of Sean Lee. DAL was able to put the ball in the end zone one more time, shoving the knife a little deeper, via a 15-yard run by Smith. DAL keeps their playoff hopes alive and NYG falls to 2-11.

QUARTERBACKS

  • Eli Manning: 31/46 – 228 yards – 1 TD/2 INT. The two interceptions at the end of the game have an asterisk next to them. It was desperation time and he had to force things. The drops by Shepard and Lewis were killers and, at this point, both inexcusable but expected, ironically. Manning didn’t have a lot of “minus” throws and he just doesn’t have time to go through a lot of reads. This truly has become the worst situation in the league for any QB to work with from what I have seen.

RUNNING BACKS

  • Wayne Gallman: 12 att/59 yards, 7 rec/40 yards. Career high in rushing attempts, rushing yards, catches, and receiving yards for the rookie. I think he needs to be the feature backfield presence on this team from here on out. His vision and decision-making, combined with his athletic ability, make him a big-play threat this backfield hasn’t had in years. He did fumble early but it was luckily recovered by the offense.
  • Orleans Darkwa: 10 att/29 yards – 2 rec/15 yards. Darkwa had 2 poorly graded blocks and also fumbled early in the game, with his teammates falling on it. His presence as a tough inside runner was still there and he didn’t drop any passes, so good for him there.
  • Shane Vereen: 6 att/23 yards – 3 rec/24 yards. A lot of Vereen’s production comes in garbage time and/or on rushing plays when the NYG offense is facing 3rd and 10+. It is clear he won’t be a part of the picture after 2017.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • Roger Lewis: 7 rec/46 yards. I knew Lewis was going to get more and more opportunities from Manning after their big play a few weeks ago. He led the team with 11 targets, the next leading target count among WRs was 3. His drop was a big one and he continues to show what I talked about in August, solid tools but minimal skills.
  • Sterling Shepard: 2 rec/16 yards. His impact on the game was never really felt, as he was only targeted 3 times. Shepard had a huge drop on 3rd down that took the wind out of the NYG sails.It was really disappointing to see him have trouble getting open against single coverage. He has not capitalized or risen to the occasion since Beckham and Marshall have been injured.

TIGHT ENDS

  • Evan Engram: 4 rec/54 yards. Watching the all 22 tape, this was the most double coverage Engram has seen all year. They were often bracketing him, a move I am surprised defenses didn’t do earlier in the season. He had the biggest play of the day for NYG, a 35-yard reception where DAL completely forgot about him in deep coverage. Engram added a drop and is among the league leaders in that category.
  • Rhett Ellison: 4 rec/20 yards – 1 TD. Ellison continues to be Mr. Reliable when targeted, as he has been all year. His 1-yard touchdown catch was actually pretty high-difficulty and impressive.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Tackles: Ereck Flowers righted the ship after a rough game last week in Oakland. He was the highest graded NYG blocker, well above the average mark. One encouraging sign other than simply not getting beat as often in pass protection, is he has really limited the penalties. His technique is still very shaky but it doesn’t always have to look pretty. Bobby Hart was back in the stating lineup, as Chad Wheeler was out with a concussion. He received a lot of help against Demarcus Lawrence. I wouldn’t call this a good game for Hart, but he only allowed 1 pressure and didn’t make any major mistakes that we were used to seeing.
  • Interior: Brett Jones and Jon Halapio both took a step back against the very average Cowboys DTs. Jones mightily struggled in pass protection when left alone for the second straight week, and Halapio allowed 3 pressures and was flagged for a hold. John Jerry didn’t get a lot of push in the run, and was inaccurate on trap blocks, missing his target twice. He hasn’t been good at making adjustments on the fly all year and that is a part of the job that is becoming more and more essential in the NFL.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Tackles: The glaring positive of this entire team over the course of the year is Damon Harrison. We are getting a treat in watching this guy play – the top DT in the game. His dominance against the inside run is almost assumed now but what stood out Sunday were the hustle plays he made near the sideline and down the field. You simply don’t see the big guys like him with that much range. Having him around is absolutely huge for the future of this team. Dalvin Tomlinson and Jay Bromley split duties next to him and both had quietly effective games.
  • Ends: Jason Pierre Paul had 5 tackles and a pressure. His impact on the game remains woefully inconsistent and near non-existent on 3rd downs. Olivier Vernon was outclassed by Tyron Smith, the top OT in the game. He finished with 1 tackle and a foolish roughing-the-passer penalty. When he can’t out-quick the blocker, his hand game just isn’t good enough to give a guy like Smith a problem.

LINEBACKERS

  • Kelvin Shepard and Calvin Munson were #1 and #2 in tackles on the day (10 and 9) but both had really bad beats on multiple occasions. Shepard is a between-the-tackles run defender only, as seen when he was assigned to cover RB Rod Smith in the 4th quarter on 3rd down and couldn’t stay within 3 yards of him on a quick slant. Munson has been improving as the year goes, but he hasn’t been getting off blocks at all. He really struggles there. Both of them and Devon Kennard had negative grades in coverage, with the glaring mishaps coming from Shepard (mentioned above) and Devon Kennard on Witten’s touchdown.

CORNERBACKS

  • Ross Cockrell and Brandon Dixon continue to dominate the playing time, as both were in for every snap. Cockrell continues to look better and better each week. I think this guy needs to be in the long-term picture. He had two very high-level PDs. Dixon added 2 PDs of his own, showing physical and aggressive play. He got a little too aggressive on the 50-yard TD pass to Bryant, however.
  • Darryl Morris and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were each on the field less than half the plays but were very solid when they were in.
  • Eli Apple remained inactive, and his hole is being dug deeper and deeper.

SAFETIES

  • Landon Collins and Darian Thompson both graded out as average. Collins had a nice impact on the running game, notching a TFL and forcing the DAL ball carriers to re-direct. His feel through traffic is outstanding, excellent instincts. Thompson missed 2 tackles, neither of which were overly complicated. His lack of long speed was put on display a couple times as well.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • K Aldrick Rosas: 1/1 – Made 39. Rosas only had one shot in this game, and he came through. He really hasn’t had a full dose of action to give NYG a real idea if he should be here long term or not.
  • P Brad Wing: 8 Punts – 43.4 avg/33.9 net. Wing wasn’t sailing the ball high enough and it gave DAL a few clean returns. He leads the NFL in punts this year and has appeared to take a step down in terms of quality.

3 STUDS

  • DT Damon Harrison, CB Ross Cockrell, RB Wayne Gallman

3 DUDS

  • OC Brett Jones, OG Jon Halapio, DE Olivier Vernon

3 THOUGHTS ON DAL

  • I said something similar after the week 1 matchup, but the impact a LB like Sean Lee has on the game week in, week out is as strong as any top-tier defender in the league, and I mean that. This guy impacts the game in so many ways, in so many situations. And the thing about having a LB like this is that it is incredibly hard for an offense to avoid him. He is everywhere. Take notes and apply, new front office.
  • This was a major confidence booster for the DAL offense. Their numbers without Ezekiel Elliot vs. their numbers with him have been atrocious but Rod Smith has been getting discussed for awhile now. It looks like he has things figured out and the talent is taking over. This team has the capability of getting hot from here on out and doing damage if they can sneak into the playoffs.
  • I was very high on the DAL draft this past year and two main reasons for that were CBs Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie. Those guys can ball. Their impact on the game will be very strong for the next few years.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  • I am working on a list of coaches who I think NYG will be looking hard at. One common thing I am looking for is a guy who players really respond to, get behind, and will bleed for. I think that has been a major missing link with this team in recent years. Look at how PIT players play for Tomlin among other things. Vikings for Zimmer, Seahawks for Caroll…etc.
  • Get the ball to Gallman as much as possible over these next 3 weeks. I think it is important to get as much information on him as a player as possible. Saquon Barkley is going to be available when NYG is on the clock and unless you fall in love with a QB in the process, he has to be in the picture at least. If Gallman can be the guy, then that idea lessens. But you need to know.
  • I really do think NYG has something in Cockrell. I have watched every one of his snaps from the All-22 tape over the past few games and he’s been steady and impressive on all levels. There is a lot he does well, very little that he doesn’t do well.
Dec 062017
 
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Evan Engram, New York Giants (December 3, 2017)

Evan Engram – © USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Raiders 24 – New York Giants 17

RECAP

In what may have been the most controversial week in NYG history after the benching of legendary quarterback Eli Manning for Geno Smith, Big Blue headed to the Black Hole to take on the 1st-place-pursuing Raiders. They were missing their own two star receivers as the Giants continued to compete with a roster full of replacement-level players.

The Giants started off with the ball and were 3-and-out, a result that was repeated over their first three drives. The Raiders, on the flip side, scored a touchdown on their first drive. Marshawn Lynch dashed through the middle with the Giants linebackers getting lost in traffic and 51 yards later crossed the goal line for the game’s first score.

On the Giants fourth drive, they finally found some flow. Smith had a nice stretch, going 4/5 for 54 yards, including a 29-yard pitch, catch, and run to Evan Engram. Orleans Darkwa finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run up the middle to eve the score at 7 a piece.

After a 4th-and-1 stuff, the Giants got the ball back near midfield and 2 plays later, they were already in field goal range. Smith stayed hot until he fumbled on a sack by the untouched Bruce Irvin. Raiders took the ball back put together a 12-play drive that resulted in a 39-yard field goal. Raiders led 10-7 with less than 4 minutes left in the first half.

With under 1 minute left I the half, the Giants forced a punt from deep in Raiders territory, but a well executed block attempt resulted in OAK punter Marquette King tucking the ball rather than kicking, giving the Giants the ball on the OAK 9-yard line. The opportunity for a major momentum shift heading in to halftime was there for the taking. After an offsides penalty brought NYG to the 4, Smith dropped back on 2nd down and once again was sacked, lost the football, and turned it back over to OAK. Giants went in to halftime trailing 10-7.

Quality defense, or poor offense depending on the way you look at it, dominated the 3rd quarter. Neither team could really get a drive going and it ended with a Landon Collins fumble recovery created by cornerback Brandon Dixon in his first game with the team. The NYG offense failed to capitalize with another 3-and-out, giving OAK the ball back at the start of the 4th quarter.

The short passing game was able to pick up big chunks of yardage, getting OAK to the NYG 9-yard line and on first down, Deandre Washington rushed into the end zone with Landon Collins badly missing a tackle on the play. NYG then responded with a touchdown drive of their own, with Smith hitting Engram in the end zone after he ran an outstanding route. The score was 17-14 but the all-of-the-sudden hot OAK offense put together another short touchdown drive, this time ending with a pass from Carr to Johnny Holton from 9 yards out.

NYG was down 10 with 3:19 left. They got up into field goal range with OAK playing a prevent defense and because they were down 2 scores, they attempted and made a 52 yard field goal. After an unsuccessful onsides attempt, OAK rushed for a first down and NYG had to watch the clock disappear as they lost their 10th game of the year.

QUARTERBACKS

  • Geno Smith: 21/34 – 212 yards – 1 TD/0 INT. Smith also fumbled twice, turning the ball over both times. In the first NYG game where Eli Manning did not start in 210 games, Smith did a fine job of staying focused and playing within himself. He avoided the bad decisions and made some really strong armed throws into tight windows. The accuracy wavered back and forth a bit, but Smith did not lower the level of this offense by any means. He played a decent game.

RUNNING BACKS

  • Orleans Darkwa: 14 att/32 yards – 1 TD. There wasn’t a lot of running room for Darkwa, as the middle of the OAK defensive line dominated the point-of-attack from start to finish. Darkwa, in addition, didn’t break tackles at the rate he has been all year. He isn’t a guy who will create much on his own.
  • Paul Perkins: 3 att/12 yards – Perkins wasn’t on the field much, but that shiftiness and ability to miss contact when he gets just a little bit of space jumped off the screen in his three carries. He is a guy whot got a raw, raw deal in 2017.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • Sterling Shepard: 3 rec/56 yards. Shepard goes unappreciated by some because he won’t ever be a number one guy and won’t ever be a deep threat. But this kid, a second-year WR, is as tough as they come and shows some of the best ball skills you will find in the league.
  • Tavarres King: 4 rec/23 yards: King led the team with 9 targets, as Smith was looking his way several times on short routes near the sideline. He does a nice job of getting open, but beyond that he is just a limited player. He also had a drop late in the game.

TIGHT ENDS

  • Evan Engram: 7 rec/99 yards – 1 TD. After a really tough 3-week stretch, Engram has come on strong two straight weeks, with this OAK game being arguably the best we have seen this year. He made an amazing one-handed grab over the middle with a defender draped all over him, ran an amazing route on his touchdown catch that tricked fellow rookie safety Karl Joseph badly, and had one amazing run after a catch that reminded all of us that this kid is a wide receiver-caliber athlete. He has some “special” in him and the fact he has responded very well to his mid-season adversity is a very good sign.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Tackles: After a tough game last week, Chad Wheeler was entering Oakland with a huge test on his hands. Prior to suffering a concussion in the 2nd half, Wheeler had allowed a sack and 2 pressures. Not bad, but certainly not good, either. Wheeler has outperformed Bobby Hart (whom came in for the injured Wheeler) but he still has a long ways to go in terms of earning a future job here. Ereck Flowers graded out below average for the 5th time this year. He also allowed a sack and 2 pressures, appearing to struggle with any sort of different look the Raiders threw at him. Stunts, blitzes, zone blitzes – he just doesn’t see that stuff.
  • Interior: Center Brett Jones had his worst game of the year, and just like a lot of young centers in the league, has seem to worsen over time. The league has started to figure him out, especially trying to get him on an island as a pass blocker where he is a low-level player. John Jerry had a quiet game, no major mistakes but he rarely got movement off the line of scrimmage as a run blocker. Jon Halapio actually graded out as the best Giants OL of the day, right at the point where I call it “above average”. He won almost all of his 1-on-1 battles and the sack he allowed was more due to Geno Smith than anything.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Ends: Olivier Vernon finished with 4 tackles, 1 of which was for a loss. His impact went far beyond the stat sheet, as he was very disruptive. He was consistently getting penetration outside, setting the edge against the run which is a crucial role. He had a hard time getting by Donald Penn in the passing game, but when Penn went down with an injury, he absolutely abused rookie David Sharpe. Jason Pierre-Paul had a quiet game – 3 tackles, also 1 of which was for a loss. There has been talk about a lack of effort with him and while I do think his engine is a little hot/cold, I’ve always noted that his conditioning worsens as the year goes on. That is something I have had on him for the past few years. He just tires out too fast.
  • Tackles: Because we see it each week, the appreciation for Damon Harrison may get overlooked here and there. But he had another incredible game, tossing blockers aside with ease and making tackles. There isn’t a DT in the game like him. Dalvin Tomlinson was up and down. His movement ability and initial pop can make plays, but there are still stretches where he gets blown back 3-4 yards in short-yardage situations. The one weakness to his game is that he isn’t overly stout against power plays. Jay Bromley played just under 40% of the snaps, and struggles to make any impact. He is kind of just there. He isn’t hurting the defense, but doesn’t do anything to stand out.

LINEBACKERS

  • B.J. Goodson was back, but went down with another injury. He is very effective when he’s in there but the question deserves to be asked, is this guy going to be able to hold up in the NFL with his physical play? This LB situation may be priority A for the new regime when it comes to the defense and as much as I like Goodson, I’m not sure he is someone who can be relied on.
  • Kelvin Sheppard led the team with 8 tackles and even though he isn’t a starting-caliber player in this league, he does bring  physical presence and attitude to the defense. He is a guy worth having around. Calvin Munson looked good in space and recorded NYG’s lone sack. It’s been a solid year for the UDFA. Devon Kennard split time between LB and DE again, but didn’t do much to stand out.

CORNERBACKS

  • With Janoris Jenkins on IR, opportunity arose for practice squad CB Brandon Dixon. And I’ll say this about him, I look forward to watching what he can do the rest of the year. He competed really hard and seemed to have the reaction speed I look for. While the OAK receivers were missing their top 2 guys, Dixon had some serious speed to defend against. He broke up 2 passes and forced a fumble that was recovered by Landon Collins. He did, however, drop an easy interception.
  • Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had 2 hustle plays that I was more than happy to track. He had a little stretch earlier in the year where I wondered if he was checking out, but he has been playing his butt off these past few weeks.
  • Don’t look now, but Ross Cockrell might be the second-best CB on this team behind Jenkins. He has been getting better each week and the All-22 tape is very complimentary of him. I think he is a piece worth holding onto hard this offseason.

SAFETIES

  • Landon Collins had another solid game. It seems like the scheme is keeping him close to the line of scrimmage more often than what we saw earlier in the year, which is a good thing. He is a dominant downhill player with sideline-to-sideline range against the run, but he just isn’t a quick-twitch cover man. He also struggles on angles against speed, the missed tackle of Deandre Washington on his TD run was another example of that.
  • Darian Thompson did an excellent job in deep coverage. Raiders QB Derek Carr was looking to throw deep four times but Thompson’s quick reads and movement got him in position to prevent the attempts. His play has really elevated in the past 4-5 weeks.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • K Aldrick Rosas: 1/1 – Made 52 yds. Rosas got one shot late in the game to make it a one score game, and he booted a 52 yarder that hit halfway up the net. When this kid lines it all up, he has as strong a kick as anyone in the NFL.
  • Brad Wing: 7 Punts – 48.4 avg. His 45.1 net is an outstanding, top-tier performance. Sometimes we forget how much easier it is for kickers in weather like that.

3 STUDS

  • TE Evan Engram, DT Damon Harrison, CB Ross Cockrell

3 DUDS

  • OC Brett Jones, Jason Pierre-Paul, OT Chad Wheeler

3 THOUGHTS ON OAK

  • All of the sudden this team is in a 3-way tie for 1st place in the AFC West. They are potentially on track for a home playoff game. Keep that in mind when you remember this team started off 2-4 while the Chiefs were surging to a 5-0 start. Every year there are examples of overreactions to stretches in a season and people needing to simply let things play out. A lot can and does happen in 17 weeks.
  • WR Johnny Holton is going to be a big name within the next year or two. He is one of the fastest players I have seen all year and his route running has improved by leaps and bounds from preseason. With Crabtree and Cooper out, he got to display his ability and I liked what I saw.
  • OAK has one of, if not the, highest-paid offensive lines in football. And they have graded out to be a top 10-unit, but that’s about it. Buyer beware when throwing huge money at players on the OL.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  • The Eli Manning benching for Geno Smith topic has been discussed over and over and I am sure we are all sick of it. My thought from the beginning has been this and I won’t say much else on the matter: Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese knew their time was coming to and end unless a late-season surge (wins) occurred. I think an underlying thought was to try to catch lightning in a bottle a la Case Keenum in MIN, and see if Geno could win a few games via good performance so that McAdoo/Reese could make a plea to ownership stating it was Manning’s fault, not theirs, for the horrid 2017.
  • Who’s up next for NYG as GM and coach? We can throw the usual names around that always pop up: Saban, Shaw, McDaniels, Gruden, etc. I think NYG is going to be patient on this to see if any current coach shakes free from a firing of their own. I think they want someone IN the game to coach, not someone that has been on the outside. Two names who I think are on their own respective hot seat who owners will like: Marvin Lewis from CIN and John Fox from CHI.
  • As for the team that still has 4 games to play, I think the energy will be high now that the coach is out and Eli is back in the saddle. We see things like that happen often. And I think NYG wins this week against DAL.
Nov 292017
 
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Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants (November 23, 2017)

Janoris Jenkins – © USA TODAY Sports

Washington Redskins 20 – New York Giants 10

RECAP

Following a hard-fought, borderline even emotional, win at home against the Kansas City Chiefs just four days prior to the Giants-Redskins Thanksgiving night match-up gave off the notion there was still plenty of grit left in this team. On the other side, Washington came limping in with a 4-6 record and following a horrific 4th-quarter loss in New Orleans. Their playoff hopes are alive but dwindling. Both teams were missing multiple key starters and we knew these factors, combined with a short week of preparation, would turn this into an old-school street fight between the two bottom feeders of the 2017 NFC East.

Eli Manning made his 210th consecutive start; this one being behind a line that was missing 3 starters (Pugh-Richburg-Fluker) and still without all 3 of his top wide receivers (Beckham-Marshall-Shepard).

The teams traded 3-and-outs to open up the game, with Evan Engram dropping a 3rd-and-4 pass. This was the first of three on the night for the rookie, the NFL’s leader in drops. On the game’s 6th possession, an offense finally ran more than 5 plays, as Washington got the ball across midfield. On 4th-and-1 from the NYG 41-yard line, a Cousins pass was broken up by Darian Thompson. NYG was in business with their best field position of the night as the end of the first quarter approached.

On 3rd-and-7 from the WAS 33-yard line after a few quality plays, Manning was sacked by Washington’s sack leader Ryan Kerrigan at the hands of Chad Wheeler for the second time. The 3rd down opportunity turned into a punt, again.

Following another 3-and-out by WAS where Landon Collins showed signs of all-over-the-field dominance; NYG started their 5th drive of the night on their own 28-yard line. Sixteen plays and 8:29 of game clock later, the Giants were up 3-0 via a 30-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas. The drive was smooth and steady with physical running by Orleans Darkwa, who excelled when running to the right side, and two 19 yard passes, one to Roger Lewis and one to Tavarres King. The lowlight, however, was a terrible misfire by Manning to Shane Vereen on a screen pass that had big play and potentially a touchdown written all over it.

With 1:04 remaining in the half Cousins went deep to Josh Doctson. The pass fell incomplete but Ross Cockrell was flagged for pass interference, a spot foul. That mistake by Cockrell was a 37-yard gain for WAS, putting them in easy field goal range and they were able to tie it at 3 heading into the half.

On the second WAS possession of the 3rd quarter, slot receiver Jamison Crowder provided the two biggest plays. First, a 33-yard reception, most of which was after the catch, and second, a 15-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-goal from the 15-yard line. Cousins ability to evade pressure with eyes downfield was a weapon the Giants defense could not handle.

The Giants offense was stalling and with a 10-3 lead past the halfway point of the 3rd quarter, WAS had the personnel and approach to bleed out the clock. The Redskins, thanks to a couple penalties, were forced into a 3rd-and-18 situation that led to Cousins making an errant throw off the hands of his receiver and into the waiting arms of Janoris Jenkins, who returned the interception for the lone Giants touchdown of the night. Jenkins leads the NFL in pick-sixes since 2011 and despite the negative attention he has gathered in recent weeks, stepped up to make a play that shifted the momentum in a big way.

The end of the 3rd quarter saw a development that beat the Giants up the rest of the way, and that was rookie running back Samaje Perine having his way with the Big Blue front seven. On six carries, he rushed for 50 yards. WAS ended up punting on that drive as the 4th quarter began, but it was a foreshadow of what the Giants would be struggling with on that side of the ball.

Offensively, NYG just couldn’t get anything going. They had four possessions in the 4th quarter, all of which resulted in a combined 12 plays, 44 net yards, one first down and a game-sealing interception with 1:08 left on the clock. Redskins win, 20-10.

QUARTERBACKS

  • Eli Manning: 13/27 – 113 yards – 0 TD/1 INT. The 113 yards and 4.3 yards per attempt were the lowest we have seen out of Manning since 2007. The situation he is in just doesn’t get worse, Cleveland included. The Giants pass catchers lead the league in drops and the offensive line took a step back in comparison to what they have shown in recent weeks. Manning, in addition, misfired on a few occasions and continues his streak of games with more than four negative throws.

RUNNING BACKS

  • Wayne Gallman: 9 att/37 yards. 2 rec/6 yards. More of the same from the 4th round rookie. Gallman is an excellent change-of-pace back who is explosive through traffic with great vision and agility. One of these upcoming games, he is going to break off a long TD. He is due.
  • Orleans Darkwa: 11 att/30 yards. 1 rec/9 yards. Darwka had a nice stretch on NYG’s fifth drive of the game, but that was about it. There was minimal room for him to work with and he isn’t exactly a quick-reaction type back, thus he was being hit before he really got going. Darkwa won’t ever be a guy that can create on his own.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • Roger Lewis: 3 rec/26 yards. With Sterling Shepard still out, I said this would be the opportunity for Lewis to show the organization what he has. After last week’s big performance in the 4th quarter, Lewis did end up getting the most targets among the group. He had a big reception on 3rd down early, but after that he was a non-factor. He continues to struggle gaining any sort of separation against man coverage.
  • Tavarres King: 2 rec/36 yards. King has turned into the one receiver on this team who can create on his own via movement. Whether he is running routes or making high-level receptions, there is some play-maker in him. On two occasions, however, it looked like he ran the wrong route from what I am guessing via the all-22 tape.

TIGHT ENDS

  • Evan Engram: 3 rec/18 yards. Engram is officially in a slump, a rather significant one. He is leading the NFL in drops after adding three more to his season total. It has gotten into his head at this point and it will be up to him to force himself out of this mess. Rookie? Yes. But he needs to get this fixed sooner rather than later. His blocking received an above-average grade for the first time in three weeks, and overall on the year, he has been better than expected in that area.
  • Rhett Ellison: 1 rec/9 yards. From week one, I’ve stated this guy needs to be on the field more than he is and he deserves more targets. He just isn’t in their playbook, it seems. But I don’t think it is a coincidence that the NYG rushing game took a step back this week along with the fact Ellison’s playing time dipped back below the 50% mark.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Tackles: After a very impressive performance on the NYG home turf, undrafted rookie Chad Wheeler came back down to earth in his first road start. He allowed 2 sacks and 4 pressures, as Ryan Kerrigan beat him up inside and out. Ereck Flowers had his worst game in 6 weeks, being called for 2 penalties, allowing 1 pressure, and allowing 1 sack. This was the worst combo-grade we have seen from the tackles since early in the year.
  • Interior: The lack of run-blocking presence was felt without D.J. Fluker in the mix. Jon Halapio made his first career start since being drafted in 2014. As he performed at training camp, he looked stiff and unable to block anything in space and/or after lateral movement. He confirmed that he doesn’t belong on the field with a grade well below average. John Jerry hit the point he has been hitting most of the year on the grading sheet, a few inches below average. He did get some quality movement early, but too often he whiffs and ends up chasing after his man. Brett Jones struggled mightily in pass protection when left alone. He appears over-matched when he is asked to do so. All three interior blockers finished below average on the grading sheet.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Ends: It took 11 weeks, but the Giants finally got plus performances from both of their ends. Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon both played over 85% of the snaps, a feat in and of itself considering the nagging injuries they’ve been dealing with. They combined for 3.5 sacks and 10 tackles. They were active, hustling, and consistent from start to finish. Kerry Wynn played a few snaps but failed to make an impact.
  • Tackles: The three-man rotation of Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Jay Bromley were over-matched by the interior blockers of WAS. Re-watching the tape, it was stunning to see how many times they were being blown off the ball 2-3 yards. It resulted in rookie Samaje Perine netting 100 yards for the second straight week, 97 of which came in the second half alone. Robert Thomas was also very poor in controlling the point-of-attack when he was in. As a group, it was their worst performance to date. Dalvin Tomlinson did record his first career sack.

LINEBACKERS

  • The most decimated unit on the team via injuries seems to he adding a new street free agent each week. Kelvin Sheppard, one of those recent signings, led the group with 7 tackles, as Jonathan Casillas added 6 of his own. Neither are stuffing the running lanes, however. They are struggling to impact the game with speed or power and neither are doing well in coverage, as the middle of the field continues to be the weakness of the NYG pass defense.
  • Devon Kennard has been, and continues to be, one of the season’s bright spots. He recorded another sack via the interior pass rush. His versatility, especially on 3rd downs, is a weapon worth keeping around.
  • Curtis Grant suffered a season-ending injury early in the game.

CORNERBACKS

  • The Giants lone touchdown of the night came from a pick six by Janoris Jenkins, his second of the year. Jenkins played an outstanding game in coverage and after watching the all-22 tape, his effort was not a problem at all. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had a quiet game in a good way, rarely being targeted.
  • With Eli Apple out via a coach’s decision, Ross Cockrell got the start and played every defensive snap. He played a physical game and did a nice job in coverage, allowing under 50% of the balls thrown his way to be completed. Cockrell has been a very solid player considering what NYG had to give up for him. I think he is a keeper as a backup.
  • Unfortunate injury for Donte Deayon, who was going to get the opportunity to show his worth to this team for the future. He broke his arm on a tackle attempt of Jamison Crowder, who had his way with Deayon prior to on a few occasions.

SAFETIES

  • Landon Collins and Darian Thompson shined again. Collins led the team with 14 tackles, 1 of which was for a loss. He was all over the field and did an outstanding job of anticipating plays and snaps. When you have a safety like this, the lack of ability at linebacker isn’t nearly as big of a deal. When this guy is playing a roaming role, especially against the run, he really is top notch. Thompson has improved in coverage mightily since the beginning of the year, being more assertive and quicker to react. He had two very nice, high-level pass break-ups.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • K Aldrick Rosas: 1/1 – Made 30 yds. Quiet night for the rookie kicker. McAdoo could have given him a 38-yard attempt, but opted to go for it on 4th-and-1.
  • P Brad Wing: 9 punts – 41.2 avg. His net average was just 2 yards under his average, a solid number. He pinned WAS inside the 5 once.
  • Return: Kalif Raymond returned 2 punts for a total of 8 yards.

3 STUDS

  • DE Jason Pierre Paul, DE Janoris Jenkins, S Landon Collins

3 DUDS

  • OT Chad Wheeler, DT Jay Bromley, QB Eli Manning

3 THOUGHTS ON WAS

  • Samaje Perine is going to be a factor in this division for a long time. He specializes in short yardage but he will prove to be much more than that. He doesn’t go down on initial contact, always running through arm tackles and grinding out a defense. The combination of him and Chris Thompson in the future will be a tough, tough duo to play against.
  • The Redskins have backed themselves into a corner with Kirk Cousins. They could have locked him up for a solid deal the past two years, but the mishandling is now going to cost them an extra few million per year. At this point, you just can’t let him walk via FA. There is no long term plan in place for WAS behind him and they won’t be picking high enough to select a franchise guy.
  • The WAS offensive line is just, if not more, beat up than the NYG OL. However their backups come in and still played at a solid level. They’ve done a nice job building that group from top to bottom and it is something NYG should look at. Both how they did it and if one of them can be had via FA.

3 THOUGHTS ON NYG

  • I can’t stress this enough: the situation Eli Manning has had to work with is the worst, or second worst to CLE, in the NFL. Everything about this offense when it comes to support of the QB is simply over-matched. Does it mean it is unfair to evaluate his play? Not exactly. There are still things he is doing wrong and/or at a low level each week. However, I’m not sure any QB in the league could succeed in this situation and I mean that.
  • Are we seeing what this defense should have been all year? Collins is all over the field and appears to be in on every play. The ends are disruptive. The cornerbacks have played lock-down coverage the past 2 weeks. What could have been this year….what could have been. They woke up a little too late.
  • Another issue I have had with this front office for years, and I know not everyone agrees, is the lack of resources devoted to the linebacker position. I am just sick and tired of signing street free agents of bottom-feeder type players to fill a role that impacts the run and pass so much. It is a direct relation to why the Giants have been absolutely killed by tight ends and slot receivers over the middle and the run defense has been so inconsistent. One of these years some money and/or a high pick needs to be used on a linebacker or two.
Nov 222017
 
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Aldrick Rosas and Brad Wing, New York Giants (November 19, 2017)

Aldrick Rosas and Brad Wing – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 12 – Kansas City Chiefs 9

RECAP

To this point of the 2017 season, there have been stretches where the Kansas City Chiefs appeared to be one of the top teams in the league with the Giants being one of the bottom feeders. However, KC has been faltering as of late, coming to East Rutherford with just 1 win since October 9. The winds were gusting and Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid knows that can help bring any match-up closer together.

With Eli Apple inactive due to a coach’s decision, Ross Cockrell and Janoris Jenkins were the starters at cornerback. In addition, B.J. Goodson missed another game and the undrafted rookie Calvin Munson started in his place. The first quarter flew by, as both teams were keeping the clock moving via the run game and short passing. The Giants, in unorthodox fashion, showed aggression via trick plays on their first drive, one of which didn’t work out. They successfully ran a fake punt with Nat Berhe taking the direct snap and running up the middle. A few plays later, Shane Vereen took a toss to the outside that ended up being a halfback option pass. He had Evan Engram open, but the throw was a tad late and Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen shot over for the interception near the end zone.

On the next possession, KC was starting to piece together another drive before a shovel pass to tight end Travis Kelce, a play that has been working well for them all year, brought Kelce right into the target of Jason Pierre Paul. An explosive hit and all of the sudden the ball popped into the air right into the waiting arms of Damon Harrison. Yes, 355-pound Damon Harrison. The Giants marched into the end zone just 7 plays later via an Orleans Darkwa 1-yard run, NYG’s 3rd rushing touchdown of the year. Kicker Aldrick Rosas missed the ensuing extra point thanks to one of the infamous gusts of wind the Meadowlands will occasionally provide.

KC then put together a 15-play drive that swallowed over 9 minutes of game clock. It resulted in a 31-yard field goal by Harrison Butker. The rest of the first half was uneventful, as we saw a combined three 3-and-outs. It was 6-3 as the third quarter began despite NYG having only totaled 93 total net yards to that point.

After the teams traded punts again, NYG put together a couple of nice plays and were knocking on the door for more points. On 3rd-and-7 from the KC 31-yard line, a Manning to Evan Engram pass that landed them at the 3-yard line was called back because of an offensive pass interference. Because of the wind, two plays later NYG had to go for it on 4th-and-9 from the 33, but the infamous short pass play that would have left Engram with no chance of reaching the first down marker fell to the ground and KC took over.

In a blink, at the beginning of the 4th quarter, KC was on the NYG 16-yard line with 1st-and-10 to go. They could only gain 3 more yards and had to settle for another 31-yard field goal, courtesy of Butker. The score was now tied at 6 with the NYG offense still sputtering.

After trading another pair of 3-and-outs again, NYG took a drive that started on their own 4-yard line and approached midfield with 1st down. A 9-yard gain was called back due to a holding penalty by Engram and a couple plays later John Jerry pushed them back even further with an unnecessary roughness penalty. The Giants were forced to punt the ball back to KC and the momentum was shifting.

On 1st-and-10 from their own 40, Andy Reid went into his own bag of tricks. Travis Kelce, one of the best overall athletes in the game and a former quarterback, received the ball and instead of darting downfield, launched a deep pass to Demarcus Robinson. The hesitation he initially showed gave Landon Collins enough time to reach his point and he came down with the ball on the NYG 14-yard line.

The Giants eventually punted the ball back to KC, but for the second straight possession, NYG intercepted KC, this time it was Alex Smith who threw the ball and Janoris Jenkins who came down with it. His 17-yard return set NYG up 1st-and-10 on the KC 23-yard line. The Giants did take one shot at the end zone, but they were forced into taking the simple 3 points via a 26-yard field goal by Rosas. Giants led 9-6 with under 2 minutes left.

The Giants appeared to have the game in the bag after Jenkins’s second interception in as many drives, but a pass interference penalty called it off. Alex Smith then took over the game, marching the Chiefs down the field with big-time throws and scrambling ability. His last-ditch effort to end the game via a rushng TD was cancelled by a physical downhill tackle by Landon Collins. KC tied the game with a second remaining, overtime was next.

KC put together a couple of quality plays, but a holding penalty set them back and they had to punt the ball to Eli Manning and the Giants. They put together a solid drive mixed with the run and the pass. On 4th-and-5 from the 36-yard line, Ben McAdoo had a tough decision to make. Let the strong-legged kicker Rosas go for the game-winner from 53? Or try to get a first down in a situation that has been beating them up all year, badly. He opted to put the ball in Manning’s hands and it resulted in a 34-yard gain down the left sideline. There, Roger Lewis made the catch of the year for NYG. After being interfered with by KC corner Phillip Gaines, he was laying on the ground but still managed to bring the ball in. The pass interference was declined and two plays later Rosas hit the first game-winner of his career from 23 yards. Giants win, 12-9.

QUARTERBACKS

  • Eli Manning: 19/35 – 205 yards. 0 TD/0 INT. While Alex Smith has had the better season statistically, the difference was apparent between him and Manning when it came to dealing with the wind. Smith looked very uncomfortable for the majority of the game while Manning’s experience in these situations rose to the occasion. He was the victim of 6 drops in this game, as well. Manning had 148 yards in the second half.

RUNNING BACKS

  • Orleans Darkwa: 20 att/74 yards – 1 TD – 2 rec/14 yards. Darkwa and this running game continue to improve each and every week. He isn’t a sexy back, but his constant ability to push the pile and fall forward doesn’t go unnoticed. His glaring issues that have been hurting this team over and over, however, are the drops. He had 2 more in this game.
  • Wayne Gallman: 6 att/19 yards – 1 rec 3 yards. Gallman had a drop of his own on a play that could have netted a lot of yards. He is the unofficial change of pace back who brings a different level of speed and explosion. One of these weeks he is going to break off a long touchdown, but he has to get and hold onto that ball.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • Roger Lewis: 3 rec/55 yards. Lewis was relatively quiet until late in the game, but he responded with the catch of the year for NYG. The opportunity he has right now may never come again, and it will be interesting to see how he responds to late-game heroics. Was it a fluke? Right place, right time? There were a lot of teams drawn to this kid as an UDFA out of Bowling Green a couple years ago. The ball skills were a + park on everyone’s scouting report and his route running has improved mightily. I would be surprised if we didn’t see a slight uptick in his targets, which is hovering around 3 per game.
  • Tavarres King: 3 rec/48 yards. King has the veteran experience, intelligence, and toughness that Manning likes to work with. My college scouting report on him raved about his route running and it is something I see with him today. Very smooth, efficient mover and he can make the tough catch. His lack of physical presence and strength does limit him against certain coverages and situations, however.
  • Travis Rudolph: 3 rec/34 yards: The most targeted receiver Sunday, Rudolph played a career-high 27 snaps. He displayed what we already know about him – reliable hands, ball skills, and route running. But he really struggles to get himself open against quality man coverage.

TIGHT ENDS

  • Evan Engram: 1 rec/9 yards. Engram is the feature pass catcher in this offense. He was targeted 6 times but only came down with the ball once. He dropped 2 passes and also was responsible for 2 penalties. As a blocker, he graded out at the “average” mark. However, he got a lot of movement on Darkwa’s touchdown run.
  • Rhett Ellison: 1 rec/7 yards. Ellison has really helped this running game buckle down and control the point-of-attack. His impact is quiet in the box score, but don’t overlook his importance.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Tackles: I won’t overreact to one start, especially at home, but the performance Chad Wheeler put together in his first NFL start at right tackle was enough to excite anyone. He was borderline flawless and put together one of the top 5 grades overall of all the OLs on this team in 2017. It was the best RT grade I have on the year, including the ones Justin Pugh started. One game isn’t enough to make any strong statements, but he did everything right. His confidence and decision-making were on a different level from what we saw in preseason and his limited regular-season snaps. He got plenty of movement on guys much bigger and stronger than him with almost perfect technique and timing. Ereck Flowers had another quiet game, in a good way. He stayed on the hottest streak of his career and is proving some doubters wrong. If this were a winning team, he would be getting a ton of positive attention. There are still significant holes here, but he has improved.
  • Interior: D.J. Fluker, if you really zero in on him, has to be someone everyone admires. The guy plays his tail off and brings the blue collar, overly physical approach to the line that we all want to see here. Once he started at right guard, this OL as a whole started to perform better in the run game. His presence and ability to move defenders has been very impactful. John Jerry and Brett Jones shared the lowest grades along the OL this week, but even they still graded out on the average mark. Their pass blocking leaves a lot to be desired, especially on blitzes.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Ends: Jason Pierre-Paul had arguably the most physical hit of the day that jarred the ball loose out of Travis Kelce’s hands and into the arms of Damon Harrison. From a dead stop position, he launched himself into Kelce and sent the 260-pounder parallel to the ground. It was a hit that maybe 5 players in the NFL could make. I see plays like those and a few others where he tracks the ball carrier down on the back side and wonder why we don’t see him just dominate, flat out dominate. He had a very quiet game as a pass rusher. Olivier Vernon had one of his more disruptive games of the year, finishing with 3 QB pressures despite only playing 83% of the snaps due to a minor shoulder injury.
  • Tackles: It was good to see Damon Harrison out there after being carted off the field a week ago, although his snaps were a tad limited. He continues to be the best player on this defense, with both visible and hidden benefits. After a quiet game in San Francisco, Dalvin Tomlinson responded with an active game, finishing with 6 tackles. He certainly isn’t playing like a rookie. NYG has a good one here.

LINEBACKERS

  • With B.J. Goodson out again, Calvin Munson got the start. The undrafted rookie out of San Diego State finished with a career-high 12 tackles. He showed a good first step and good angles towards the action. The biggest plus with him, zero missed tackles.
  • Devon Kennard recorded another sack, his 2nd of the season. His versatility shines every week and I think he is one of the most underrated weapons on this defense who can really fit into any scheme. He has limitations, but he gets the job done. Jonathan Casillas wasn’t very active, as he is still struggling to find the consistency snap to snap when it comes to making quick reads and reactions. He is often late to the party.

CORNERBACKS

  • After being suspended 2 weeks ago, and one of the worst performances of his career last week in San Francisco, Janoris Jenkins came out and showed why he can rightfully be considered a top-10, maybe even top-5 CB in this league. He had a pass break up and a clutch interception that set the Giants up to take a 4th-quarter lead. His second interception was called back because of a penalty, but even that had to be admired because of the ball skills he displayed.
  • With Eli Apple sitting out because of a coach’s decision, Ross Cockrell got the start. The 4th-year veteran seems to be getting more comfortable in the system and his tools are something I always look for in NFL cornerbacks. He has size, he plays physical, and his hips can turn with ease. The confidence in his game has been taken to another level and I expect to see more and more improvement from here on out.

SAFETIES

  • Landon Collins led the team with 14 tackles. He has several big hits and a few third down stops that helped the Giants maintain field position in this low-scoring affair. Collins played his heart out with plus hustle grades throughout the entire game. His interception on the Kelce option-pass was a great reaction and even better read. He wasn’t fooled one bit. Solid game for Darian Thompson but the note that keeps popping up next to his name is a lack of presence and a lack of range. Watching the all-22 tape, it is apparent to me that his lack of range is a big  part of the reason why this defense struggles defending the pass in the middle of the field.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Aldrick Rosas: 2/2 – made 26 and 23. Missed 1 extra point. Rosas has made a habit of missing field goal attempts. His two this week went through the uprights, albeit they were very short. They were in clutch situations though. His missed extra point was a result of a gust of wind that would have knocked anyone’s kick flat.
  • Brad Wing: 6 Punts – 45.3 avg. It was a busy day for Wing and his 42.5 net was a season high. Very good game for him punting to one of the most dangerous PRs in the league.

3 STUDS

  • RT Chad Wheeler, S Landon Collins, WR Roger Lewis

3 DUDS

  • OG John Jerry, TE Evan Engram, LB Jonathan Casillas

3 THOUGHTS ON KC

  • This is why you don’t crown a team early in the year. After a 5-0 start including wins over NE and PHI, the Chiefs looked unstoppable on both sides of the ball. Some in the media start using the word Super Bowl but since then, they are 1-4. What happened? This is the NFL, that’s what happened. This happens every year and the overreactions regarding early wins and losses make several people look silly by season’s end. The Chiefs are not as bad as what they have showed recently, and I still expect them to be one of 3-4 teams in the AFC Championship run.
  • Travis Kelce is the best athlete in the NFL, all things considered. I have never seen a tight end that big and strong move that fast and quick. His ball skills are improving, as are his routes and blocking. I think it is safe to say he is the best tight end in the game. And I am scouting a tight end from a small school right now that reminds me exactly of him.
  • What does this team need to right the ship? Early in the year they were controlling the point-of-attack and running the ball down the defense’s throat. They stuck with the run time and time again. Andy Reid has done this in the past…and that is rely on the pass too much when a team is down. The instant Hunt’s carries went into the single digits, this team’s tailspin began. Easy solution if you ask me. Get Hunt the ball more often, then everything else will open up.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  • As I have been saying, the discussion of McAdoo’s job is the easy conversation to bring up. But it doesn’t need to be a weekly thing. Let this thing play out the rest of the year, talk about all the stuff in January. Until then I know it can be tough to watch a losing team, but there are several players to watch and evaluate for next year. Top one being Chad Wheeler.
  • Tip of the cap to Janoris Jenkins and the intensity he played with. Either he looked in the mirror and decided to man up, or someone got in his ear. Jenkins was flying around putting his body on the line like we saw in the first three weeks. Maybe that team meeting where they watched the low-effort plays stuck it to him and if that is the case, good job by McAdoo. There have been a handful of players that have showed notable differences in effort-output, hopefully Eli Apple is next.
  • The two starting defensive ends on this team showed so much promise before the season and even though they flash here and there, they simply aren’t good enough. The 4-man pass rush is almost vital to defensive success in the NFL now, and the production coming from these two spots needs to be better. Both are on the fragile side, both are on the inconsistent side. It is a bad combination for the long term future and if they don’t flash more, DE may be at or near the top of their draft needs in the spring.
Nov 152017
 
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Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (November 12, 2017)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers 31 – New York Giants 21

RECAP

Nine weeks into the season, two of the three worst teams in the NFL took the field in San Francisco. The Niners were expected to be in this position, as they are building their defense year by year via the draft and recently-acquired QB Jimmy Garoppolo to be the leader of their offense moving forward. While he is still learning the playbook, the Niners are relying on 2017 3rd rounder C.J. Beathard to move the chains and score points. On the other side is future Hall of Famer in Eli Manning but both support systems are hurting big time. The combined list of players on injured reserve is massive and the talent on the field for this game was one of the lowest we have seen, and will see, all season.

The two teams traded field goals on their respective opening possessions and after a 4th-and-1 stop by Olivier Vernon and the newly signed Kelvin Sheppard, the Giants took advantage of the good field position and Aldrick Rosas put another 40+ yard field goal through the uprights to make it 6-3.

The Giants were in position to take full control of the first half when Niners fullback Kyle Juszczyk fumbled the ball as he was falling to the ground near midfield. Three plays later, the Giants were approaching the red zone but pressure from the San Francisco front forced Manning into a rookie-caliber mistake. Instead of tucking the ball and taking a sack, he tried to shovel the ball forward with no target in sight and it ended up resulting in a silly 2nd-down fumble.

What Beathard did three plays later is what the Giants were attempting to do. He took the momentum swing and turned it into a San Francisco score, connecting with speedster Marquise Goodwin who easily beat Janoris Jenkins downfield. It was an 83-yard score, the longest of the season for SF.

The Giants responded with a touchdown of their own, Manning to Engram, taking the lead back at 13-10. With just over 2 minutes remaining the their possession beginning on their own 24-yard line, signs were pointing towards the Giants going into halftime with a lead. However, with ease, Beathard once again drove his team down the field and connected for another touchdown, this time to TE Garrett Celek. The tackling and pursuit angles of the defense were downright pathetic. Tight ends have scored touchdowns in 10 straight games against the Giants and the theme of the coaching regime continues, same mistakes and shortcomings week after week.

NYG took 5 minutes off the clock to open the 3rd quarter, highlighted by explosive runs by Wayne Gallman and arguably the Giants’ catch of the year by Sterling Shepard. Rosas, however, pushed a 34-yard field goal attempt wide right keeping the score stuck at 17-13 Niners. The Niners put together a drive of their own but it was halted by an Olivier Vernon interception. Once again, the momentum was there for the taking but the Giants simply couldn’t step up, once again.

The Niners continued to creep their way up the field and ended up getting in the end zone on the first play of the 4th quarter via a Beathard 11-yard scamper into the end zone. On 3rd-and-2, Jason Pierre Paul was running away from the rolling out quarterback and cornerback Eli Apple made the decision to not try and prevent him from reaching the end zone. It was as pathetic of a play and overall effort I’ve seen all year, nail in the coffin. Within another 3 minutes of game clock, SF scored another touchdown via a Matt Breida 33-yard run and the Giants were down 31-13 to the 0-9 Niners.

The Giants did score a garbage touchdown at the end of the game on a pass to Roger Lewis from Manning, but the game was over as there was only 1:07 left. A failed onside kick attempt later, Giants lose 31-21.

QUARTERBACKS

  • Eli Manning: 28/37 – 273 yds – 2 TD/0 INT. Add a fumble to the evaluation of Manning – one of his worst we’ve seen. Manning’s deep throws (20+ yards) were more accurate than we’ve seen in recent weeks. His presence and confidence in the pocket have gone up now that Flowers has really stabilized his play on the left side. Manning made some solid throws into tight windows, showing zip and accuracy. He has never been an athletic mover when scrambling or rolling out, but he seems to be losing a step when he tries to evade pass rushers.

RUNNING BACKS

  • Orleans Darkwa: 14 att/70 yards – 2 rec/18 yards. Darwka also ran for a 2-point conversion late in the game. Darkwa has proven that when he gets moving downhill with some space to work with, he can be a consistent tackle breaker who picks up plenty of yards after contact. When the team gets an extra tight end on the field, his success is much greater. He won’t create much on his own via movement, but he is a more than solid bruiser.
  • Wayne Gallman: 3 att/22 yards. Snaps were limited for Gallman, only being on the field for 15% of offensive plays. What I’m seeing with him though is an outstanding job of being efficient with his footwork and decision making. He is very assertive and quick to react.
  • Shane Vereen: 5 att/11 yards, 4 rec/27 yards. Vereen actually led the RB group in plays for the first time this season. He has proven to be the top pass catcher and blocker among the group. Vereen has been underused all year but at this point, youth is going to have to win out.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • Sterling Shepard: 11 rec/142 yards. Both were career highs for the second-year receiver. He and Evan Engram are the feature players in this offense and the fact they are so young is a good thing. The rest of the season will be huge for their progression as players in this league. Shepard started to see more double teams towards the end of the game, which is something he has rarely seen to this point in his career. He made one of the toughest catches we’ve seen all season in the 2nd quarter and has proven to be a tough, blue-collar gamer. Shepard fits well with the slot position.
  • Roger Lewis: 3 rec/33 yards – 1 TD. Lewis still struggles to consistently run himself open via quickness and route running, but he showed some toughness in traffic. He got after it and made a nice ball-skill catch TD late in the fourth quarter.
  • Tavarres King: 2 rec/22 yards, 1 rush att/11 yards. King had an impressive run on his reverse during the first drive. He is playing fast and hungry, but there simply isn’t a lot to work with talent wise.

TIGHT ENDS

  • Evan Engram: 6 rec/31 yards – 1 TD. Engram saw a lot of attention from the SF defense, something I expect most if not all teams to do from here on out. Again, it will be good for his long term progression. The route he ran on his touchdown catch was a thing of beauty. Eric Reid is a very good cover safety against tight ends, but Engram made him shift his weight with a fake out-cut before darting up the short seam and locating the ball right away and bringing it in as he approached the back of the end zone. His footwork as a route runner is top notch. Engram, however, had his second worst blocking grade of the season as he just couldn’t handle the physical SF edge defenders which resulted in a few runs being stopped short.
  • Rhett Ellison and Jerell Adams: Both were mainly in there to block, Ellison more so than Adams. They both graded out very high and are proving their value despite not being featured in the passing game often. This running game has reached another level since their playing time has increased.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Tackles: Ereck Flowers continues his hot play. This is by far the best stretch we have seen out of him in his young career. It will be interesting to see how he finishes up with some better pass rushers coming his way. The hand accuracy, footwork, and effort have all been solid. The one thing I see him consistently struggling with however is reaching guys to his inside shoulder on running plays. Not an easy task, but it resulted in a TFL in this game and a no-gain run stop on another. Justin Pugh went down, again, with an injury. The question now has to be asked when trying to decide whether or not to sign him to a long term deal this upcoming offseason, is he too injury prone? He allowed a sack prior to getting hurt. His replacement, Bobby Hart, gave up another horrific sack where he didn’t touch the defender and actually fell to the ground trying to do so. His days have got to be numbered.
  • Interior: John Jerry and D.J. Fluker were inconsistent early on. Fluker was late to recognize lateral movement and Jerry misfired his hands three times in the first quarter. However as the game went on, they both evened out and graded out with positive performances. Brett Jones had a solid, yet unspectacular game at center. His pass blocking, especially on deep drop backs, was below average.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Ends: We can discuss a quality run defense game by Jason Pierre-Paul with his 5 tackles, 2 of which were for a loss. However his lack of impact on the passing game is frightening. I only counted 5 double teams/chip blocks, which means the average-level SF tackles had no issues with him. Olivier Vernon had a solid game. He had a TFL, 2 QB pressures, and a tipped pass that resulted by an interception by himself. His pass rush impact is inconsistent at best, as well.
  • Tackles: Damon Harrison was having another solid game, breaking through the line and affecting the SF running game by himself. He is virtually unblockable and the coaching staff has done a nice job watching his snaps to maintain effectiveness. He went down with an injury and left the field on a cart, however. Dalvin Tomlinson and Jay Bromley both had quiet games, but they did a lot of dirty work. Their glaring negative was almost no pressure on passing plays besides one time each.

LINEBACKERS

  • With B.J. Goodson out, Calvin Munson got another start and he finished with 6 tackles, 1 of which was for a loss. He is getting overwhelmed on inside running plays but has shown range and good angles when moving laterally. Jonathan Casillas struggled, missing 3 tackles and just being burned on a couple others. He looks out of shape and stiff. His 6 tackles make it appear that he had a better game than he really had. Kelvin Sheppard surprisingly had solid presence inside. The newly-signed inside linebacker who is familiar with the team and its defense made quality reads and physical hits. If nothing else, it is good to see a hustler out there who will still lay the wood.

CORNERBACKS

  • One of the reasons many Rams fans and teammates were not upset to see Janoris Jenkins leave in free agency last year was…well…exactly what we saw Sunday. Jenkins, for the most part, has been an outstanding CB for NYG since signing in 2016. However a suspension handed down by Ben McAdoo last week and a horrid 2017 season for the Giants have taken the wind out of his sails and it showed up in San Francisco. Jenkins was torched deep, intermediate, and short all afternoon. He missed three tackles, two of which were I would say a result of less than 30% effort. It was an embarrassment and he should have been benched mid-game.
  • Eli Apple continues to show the lack of “want-to” in his game, as noted above. The lack of effort he showed on the touchdown run by Brethard has become the new norm with him. He did make a couple physical hits earlier, but this stuff is simply inexcusable. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had a quiet game, as his assignments were usually covered up or Beathard wasn’t looking their way. On the long touchdown to Goodwin, Cromartie may have blown his deep coverage assignment but I’m not positive what coverage they were in. I’ve watched it a few times from the all-22 and I am 50/50 on what his role was there.

SAFETIES

  • Landon Collins and Darian Thompson played every defensive snap. After Collins put out his worst performance of the season last week, the defensive play calling had him closer to the point-of-attack where he does his best work. He led the team with 7 tackles but is still showing poor angles towards the ball. The further into space he gets, the worse he looks. And he can’t use the age factor as a reason. It is an alarming trend that we have seen this year considering he is a safety. Darian Thompson finished with 6 tackles, 1 of which was for a loss. He has been playing a very physical brand but his range in coverage doesn’t give this defense a ton of stability on the back end. Andrew Adams played in certain packages and had an impact early, but was quiet in the second half.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • K Aldrick Rosas: 2/3 – Made 47, 42, Missed 34. Rosas has been very inconsistent this season and his long-term status as the Giants kicker is up in the air.
  • P Brad Wing: 3 punts – 41.3 avg.

3 STUDS

  • WR Sterling Shepard, DE Olivier Vernon, QB Eli Manning

3 DUDS

  • CB Janoris Jenkins, RT Bobby Hart, LB Jonathan Casillas

3 THOUGHTS ON SF

  • Another team that is doing it right when it comes to rebuilding their roster with a new, fresh head coach. They have some important pieces in place already and much of their fate will be on the shoulders of Garoppolo moving forward. But I like what they have in their front seven defensively and a couple of the pieces they have at the skill positions offensively. If their secondary and OL can be shored up, I think they can compete as soon as next year.
  • There were a few people I got to talk to during the pre-draft process who were very high on C.J. Beathard. His situation at Iowa was as bad as anyone’s when it came to scheme/offensive line/receivers, thus he was overlooked by many. He does have some of the essentials you need in an NFL QB. He is mature beyond his years, composed under pressure, and tough as nails. The way he took over the game at times with his legs made me think of former SF quarterback Alex Smith.
  • Keep an eye on this Matthew Breida kid, the running back that scored a 33-yard touchdown. While Carlos Hyde has the #1 job locked up for at least another year, there is a through the roof upside with Breida. His speed and burst to that speed are as good as I’ve seen in the entire league and he runs so much bigger than 200 pounds. When he gets some strength added to his game, he has the makings of a big-play back who you can’t keep off the field.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  • Typically in the NFL, a coach who has had the season McAdoo has had in 2017 would not have made it home with a job after losing to an 0-9 team by 10 points. But it is simply not the Giants way to fire a coach like this in-season. It’s not going to happen.
  • A case could be made that Weston Richburg and Justin Pugh are the two most reliable OL on the team. They are both free agents this upcoming offseason and if this OL is going to need most of the attention in terms of building for 2018, what do you do with these guys? Those spots might be hard to fill via free agency, and the Giants can’t afford to use two of their first three picks on the OL. The issue is both of these guys have had a very hard time staying healthy and their price demands may make it tough to bring them back. The whole situation of building the 2018 OL is going to be very tricky.
  • Creating a culture of winning, hard-working, team-first attitudes would be a top priority of mine if I were ever building a team. Getting a team full of guys who love the game and want to win at all costs. They are out there and it can carry weight into the scouting process. I’m not sure the Giants’ front office has done a good job of this. There are too many guys who don’t get after it, don’t play hard, don’t put the team first. Long term, they shouldn’t be here. That would be priority number one for me this offseason.
Nov 082017
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (November 5, 2017)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams 51 – New York Giants 17

RECAP

Two teams heading in completely opposite directions. Two teams with completely different approaches to game day. The Los Angeles Rams, armed with their new, young, hot shot head coach and a second-year quarterback who was selected #1 overall in 2016 marched into East Rutherford with the limping, aging, broken Giants organization approaching a near-low point in its history. This game had “ugly” written all over it during warm-ups.

Initially, the Giants we saw in Denver 3 weeks ago appeared to be back. They were aggressively and consistently running the ball up the middle with plenty of success. Orleans Darkwa gained 35 yards on 3 running plays, moving the Giants across midfield. However, a 3rd-and-4 that turned in a 3rd-and-9 thanks to a D.J. Fluker false start. Aaron Donald then sacked and forced Eli Manning into a fumble for the first of three NYG turnovers on the day. Spurred by a 36-yard run by Todd Gurley, it took LAR just 4 plays to score via a Jared Goff-to-Tyler Higbee 8-yard pass.

NYG was not deterred, initially anyway. They put together a quality 14-play drive that resulted in a Manning-to-Tavarres King touchdown. It was 7-7 at the end of the first quarter before the wheels started to fall off, hard.

Landon Collins, who had arguably his worst game as a pro, had his first blunder of the day after the Giants forced the Rams into 3rd-and-7. His unnecessary roughness penalty put the Rams near midfield and even though the Rams were shooting themselves in the foot via penalties, a 2nd-and-18 deep pass down the right sideline to a rookie tight end burned Collins badly, putting them at the 8-yard line. The Giants defense was able to hold them to a field goal, however.

Wayne Gallman gave the ball right back on the next drive on a 1st-and-10 run near midfield. Two Rams penalties ended up pushing the Rams back behind midfield with 3rd-and-33 staring them in the face. Then, we saw one of the most pitiful, downright disgusting plays in Giants history. A wide receiver screen to Robert Woods resulted not only in a first down, but 52-yard touchdown. The angles and effort showed by the Giants defense was that out of a JV vs…..actually Freshman team vs. Varsity practice film. This was the turning point that abruptly reminded everyone watching that that Giants 2017 season will go down as one of the most disappointing in franchise history.

The air was sucked out of the team, the fans, and the stadium. Another 3-and-out by the Giants gave the ball back to LAR on their own 29-yard line and on the second play, Goff launched a deep ball to Sammy Watkins for a 67-yard touchdown. Landon Collins, who this Rams team was obviously targeting from the beginning, was burned yet again.

The Giants went into halftime down 27-10, but might as well stayed in the locker room instead of coming out for the second half. With the stadium already emptying, the Rams made it 48-10 within the first 12 minutes of the third quarter. Watching the minutes go by was truly more difficult than watching paint dry. The Giants did score one more touchdown on a Manning-to-Engram pass but the game ended with Geno Smith at quarterback and a 51 spot put up by the surging Rams. The most points NYG has allowed at home since 1964 and it had the feel of something we will likely see again this year. Giants lose, 51-17.

QUARTERBACKS

  • Eli Manning: 20/36 – 220 yards – 2 TD/1 INT – 80.8 QBR. When it comes to the 2017 season, it was just about an average performance for the 14th year veteran. With the pass blocking a tad better than what it has been, Manning was able to drop back, read the defense, and throw the ball downfield. He overshot several receivers who were open and just hasn’t had the accuracy on that deep ball. His interception thrown to Trumaine Johnson was a hair late and behind his target.

RUNNING BACKS

  • Orleans Darkwa: 17 att/71 yards – 2 rec/8 yards. Darkwa started off on fire, surging hard through the middle of the Rams defense. The Giants were controlling the clock early thanks to his aggressive, assertive running style that was consistently breaking tackles. His usage diminished as the game wore on because of the score and once again, he dropped another pass.
  • Wayne Gallman – 9 att/41 yards. The one play that stands out from Gallman’s OK day was a 2nd quarter fumble that eventually led to a Rams touchdown. With the rain coming down hard, the ball had some slickness to it and Gallman simply didn’t keep the ball tight to his body when engaged with tacklers. Otherwise he continued to show elusiveness and vision in his limited action.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • Sterling Shepard: 5 rec/70 yards. In his first game back from an ankle injury suffered a month ago, Shepard led the team in catches and was second on the team in targets. He continues to show value over the middle with his ability to quickly get open. He looked rusty, however, with 2 drops.
  • Tavarres King: 3 rec/33 yards – 1 TD. About 6 weeks ago, King was unemployed but because of the slew of injuries to the position, the smooth fifth year veteran is back and able to get plenty of snaps. He scored the Giants first touchdown of the day on their second drive and could have had another if it weren’t for an overthrow by Manning. He has always been an efficient route runner with the ability to get open in short areas. He isn’t overly dynamic or explosive, but he should get plenty of looks at the season wears on. This will be a huge opportunity for his career moving forward.
  • Roger Lewis: 1 rec/4 yards. Lewis has been facing some of the league’s best cornerbacks. Aqib Talib, Richard Sherman, Trumaine Johnson. A 3-week run doesn’t get much tougher than that for an NFL receiver. With that said, Lewis hasn’t been able to get even close to open and his physical presence at the point-of-attack has been very poor.

TIGHT ENDS

  • Evan Engram: 4 rec/70 yards – 1 TD. If I had to choose one bright spot from the entire team, it’s Engram. We already knew about his talent from what he has shown all throughout training camp and the regular season. But know we are seeing this guy is a competitor in every sense. He plays hard all the time and a guy with his physical gifts combined with that approach can do big things in this league. His long speed was too much for cornerbacks to handle and he was ripping through tackle efforts by safeties. There is a ton to get excited about with him.
  • Rhett Ellison: 2 rec/21 yards. Ellison played about 60% of the team’s plays, most of which were earlier in the game when the Giants were dominating the ground game. A player like him simply won’t make a huge impact when a team is playing catch up football. However his value as a fullback and tight end should be something that sticks to this team long term.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Tackles: Ereck Flowers continues his above average performance on the year overall. He allowed one TFL and was responsible for 1 pressure, even though it wasn’t an obvious 1-on-1 beat. His pass blocking actually graded out higher than his run blocking, which is rare for him. Bobby Hart continued his 2017 campaign to let the league know he can’t be a starting tackle in this league. His reaction, coordination, and hand strength is just so low-level that I’m not sure he should even be a backup in this league. He allowed a sack to Connor Barwin where he literally didn’t touch Barwin. A simple inside move was all it took and Hart couldn’t even get a hand on him. The unfortunate part about it is that as long as Justin Pugh remains sidelined with an injury, there isn’t anyone that can replace Hart. Chad Wheeler simply isn’t ready.
  • Guards/Center: The last time John Jerry faced off against Aaron Donald, Donald was a rookie and Jerry dominated from start to finish. This time, the result was the complete opposite. Jerry’s 2.47 grade was among the lowest the Giants have had this year on the OL. There were two separate plays where Donald lined up across from Jerry and went untouched into the backfield despite Jerry’s efforts to block him. It was a combination of Donald being the best in the game and Jerry simply not being in the same league. Jerry was responsible for a sack, a TFL, and 2 pressures. Brett Jones and D.J. Fluker had positive grades, as they were paving lanes and moving defenders with ease early in the game. While both are limited in the pass game, they held it together for the most part.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Ends: Rookie Avery Moss got the start with the injuries to Vernon, Okwara, and Wynn. The 5th-round rookie out of Youngstown State who has struggled to play against the strength of the power of the NFL to this point put in an exceptional effort. He was an impact player against the run, finishing with 6 tackles. He added 2 pressures and a pass deflection. While there is still a great need for more power and strength here, he is showing the grit, hustle, and on-field awareness that you can really work with. Jason Pierre-Paul finished with 3 tackles, 1 of which was for a loss. He didn’t make much of an impact against Andrew Whitworth in the passing game.
  • Tackles: The most consistent performers week-to-week on the team reside along the interior of the defensive line. Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Jay Bromley finished with a combined 14 tackles – a very high number for the position. Tomlinson is showing more and more presence each week. His athletic ability that stems from top tier balance, body control, and agility combined with his man-strength can make him a weapon for this defense. He is one guy I enjoy watching week in, week out. He is a keeper. Damon Harrison continues to bring it each week and my hope is some of these young guys take in what he is putting out there. The immovable object is very active and fully capable of changing a game by himself. Having him here for Tomlinson is huge.

LINEBACKERS

  • Another unit that is becoming depleted by injuries. Jonathan Casillas and B.J. Goodson were both out, opening the door for Curtis Grant and Calvin Munson. I’ll tell you what, when it comes to Grant, he belongs. I’m not sure I see a guy who should be starting, but his size, speed, and physical brand is a welcomed sight for this stagnant team. He still does and probably always will struggle with quick-twitch change of directions and reactions, but he played hard on Sunday. He and Munson both finished with 6 tackles a piece. Munson struggled mightily to get off blocks; they take so much out of him and the recovery speed isn’t half of what it needs to be.

CORNERBACKS

  • Janoris Jenkins was suspended for the game for missing practice on Monday, the second veteran of this position group to be suspended by the team this season. The first, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, was in uniform and played a good game. His effort was top notch and he made two of the more physical tackles on the day in addition to sticking to his coverage assignments all over the field. He still has plenty in tank. Eli Apple, once again, looks the part and showed some quality coverage. However, lapses in concentration and an overall lack of effort were apparent and it’s getting really old, really fast. You don’t win with guys that have this kind of approach. He has become one of the players on this team who I think needs to go – as in trade or cut this offseason.

SAFETIES

  • I am trying to recall a game where Landon Collins was beat this many times. As of now, I am still drawing a blank. Collins lack of long speed and overall athletic ability in coverage and in space was attacked all afternoon. His bone-headed penalty followed by being beat deep by tight ends, wide receivers, and players after the catch was about as bad as I’ve seen out of a position that the Giants have had a lot of bad performances over the past decade. Collins has earned the right to have a bad game here and there, but he needs to bounce back. And the defensive scheme needs to make sure they aren’t making him drop into deep coverage responsibilities too often. Darian Thompson and Andrew Adams played solid games respectively. Thompson is moving well in coverage with fluid hips and light feet, less hesitation. Adams could use more playing time, as he is making an impact as a tackler and force over the middle.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • K Aldrick Rosas: 1-2 FG (made 50, missed 45). His 50 yarder had about 8-10 yards left on it, but he pushed his next attempt wide right. The rest of this season will be a tryout for him.
  • P Brad Wing: 4 Punts – 53.3 avg. Wing had a punt blocked, but it wasn’t his fault. The Rams special teams outplayed NYG in every phase from execution/spacing to hustle.
  • Return: Ed Eagen and Shane Vereen made minimal to no impact.

3 STUDS

  • TE Evan Engram, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, DE Avery Moss

3 DUDS

  • LB Calvin Munson, S Landon Collins, OG John Jerry

3 THOUGHTS ON LAR

  • What a turnaround this team has made. They have always had solid personnel on defense, but a few acquisitions via free agency, trades, and the draft, along with the maturation of Jared Goff, all of the the sudden this offense is leading the league in scoring and their defense still has some dominant traits. Watch out NFC…for a long time.
  • Aaron Donald was my choice for the NYG first round pick in 2015. NYG still struck gold with Odell Beckham but there is still an interesting debate that can be had. Who would you rather have? Beckham has more impact on games when he is fully on, but is it enough to make up for some of the issues he potentially brings with the “diva-ness”? Donald has had several games where he just absolutely wrecks games, ruins them, for opposing offenses. The contract holdout was a red flag, however.
  • Are there many, if any CBs, that have the size of Trumaine Johnson in the league? There are plenty of guys with height and length, sure. But this kid looks like a safety that can shut down almost any WR in the league by himself. As LAR becomes an NFL spotlight team, expect the rest of the media and fans to catch onto him as one of the best, if not the best.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  • What the Rams have done to turnaround their franchise keeps the glass half full for NYG fans. Draft a new young quarterback for the future; hire a fresh, young voice who keeps players motivated and hungry; fix the OL with a veteran signing even if the price tag is steep; and perform well with your first few picks in the draft. The Giants can do all of this in the next year or two, no doubt. But ownership needs to be bold; they’ve been loyal enough. They need to get a new regime in here to run the show.
  • Perhaps the biggest question that needs answering is how to handle the Eli Manning situation. I think it would be in his best interest to allow a trade to a team like JAC in the offseason. Play with a defense that is among the best in the league, hand the ball off to a strong rushing attack, and make a few plays per game himself. I don’t think Manning is done entirely, much like Peyton wasn’t done when he left IND. But if things don’t look up the rest of the way, he and NYG both may be best suited with a break up.
  • The defense has been just as, if not more, disappointing in 2017. The approach for the rest of the year should be a tryout. A key eye on Apple, Casillas, Goodson, Cromartie, Thompson. All of these guys have not met expectations and while some of it is injury based, this team needs to know who these guys are and how hard they push though tough times. They need to go into the offseason knowing that these guys will always put forth top notch effort. If not, goodbye.