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 242023
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (January 21, 2023)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

Thank You to Eric and thank you to BBI for giving me the opportunity to put my thoughts here on this team weekly. I’ve been doing these reviews since the start of 2017, Evan Engram’s rookie season. This was the most fun I’ve had since then.


-Daniel Jones: 15/27 – 135 yards / 0 TD – 1 INT / 53.8 RAT … 6 att / 24 yards

A week after what I considered to be the most big-time performance of his career, Jones entered Lincoln Financial Field looking for his first ever road win against the Eagles. David vs. Goliath. The odds were stacked against him no matter what angle you looked at it. Jones was tasked with elevating the team around him to create something larger than the sum of its parts. Overmatched in the trenches. Overmatched in coverage. Overmatched on the other side of the ball. All of this against a team coming off an extra week of rest. I did not have sky high expectations here. I did want to see him elevate, however. Do things that outsiders did not think he can do. NYG was one loss away from, what I consider to be, the biggest decision of their offseason and something that strongly impacts the trajectory of the franchise.

Jones folded. He did not elevate the team. He sunk. He did not derive a larger sum, it went below zero. He threw an interception in PHI territory. He fumbled in the fourth quarter after holding onto the ball too long. He did not get into the end zone. Now, none of that gets pinned on Jones alone. But the turnover down 14-0, the under throw to Darius Slayton in the third quarter on his deepest pass of the day, the wild pass to Richie James on the very next play (a third-down conversion attempt), and the inaccurate ball on 3rd-and-6 to Slayton when NYG had a little taste of momentum in the fourth quarter were lost opportunities. Were they make or breaks for his future? No. Were they even make or breaks of this game? Probably not. But the point still resonates – he had a chance to step up, he instead fell down.


-Saquon Barkley: 9 att – 61 yards / 2 att – 21 yards

-39 of Barkley’s 61 yards came on a run in the third quarter. That ended up being the drive where NYG put seven points on the board. 11 touches for the team’s best player simply were not enough. The one negative of being reliant on a running game to get your best player involved was exactly this. NYG was down 14 points before anyone took their first pee break and no matter what coaches say, it does impact the offensive approach. Barkley subtly played a solid game. 7+ yards per touch is a good number against a defense like this. He played physically, he took what the defense gave him on those inside runs, he didn’t dance around. The game got away from NYG and the PHI defense put some serious attention on him in coverage. When he can’t be, or isn’t a big part of the offense, NYG is even more limited.

-Matt Breida carried the ball four times and gained 23 yards; he also added a 19-yard catch. He scored the team’s lone touchdown. If this game ended with a different result, we would be talking highly about Breida. I liked what he brought to the table this season and I think there is more in the tank for a team can get out of him.


-I am going to start with Darius Slayton and Richie James, both soon-to-be-free agents. Slayton had one catch for four yards. He was targeted five times and was the victim of multiple bad throws by Jones. Put me in the camp of people that is simply disappointed by this guy. The talent is there, and we know he can make things happen. He’s done it. But at some point, this guy needs to be the one who steps up and makes a play. The one that picks up Jones. He hasn’t done it and remains among league-leaders in drops. Speaking of drops, James let one bounce off his hands on a play that would have been a touchdown. He ended up leading the team with 7 receptions and 51 yards, four of which went for first downs. I thought these two were going to need to step up for this offense to put up sufficient points. Neither did.

-The reason I thought Slayton and James needed to get more on the stat sheet was PHI’s plan against Isaiah Hodgins. It was obvious they would put an extra defender on him because Jones has been looking his way in key moments for a month. The problem with that, Hodgins is not the kind of athlete who can overcome it. To make it worse, Jones did not or could not get much going with anyone else. Hodgins finished with 1 catch for 3 yards.


-Lawrence Cager had a first-quarter catch for 16 yards and Daniel Bellinger caught his only pass in the fourth quarter for 3 yards. I said prior to the postseason that I thought Bellinger could have been a sneaky-strong component to the passing game. He responded in the playoffs with 3 catches for 20 yards and a touchdown. I was hoping for more, but the looks were not there. The question with him will revolve around speed and ability to get open. I like his ball skills and he is sneaky-effective after the catch. But whether this front office and coaching staff believes he can run himself open will dictate a lot about what they do at tight end this offseason. I like Bellinger, but I think there is something missing from the position group.


-Really tough assignment for this group that did seem to solidify themselves over the past few weeks. But matched up against the deepest and best overall pass rush on long rest on the road? The interior was solid enough in pass protection. Nick Gates, Jon Feliciano, and Mark Glowinski allowed 1 pressure each. My negative on them, notably Gates and Feliciano, was the lack of movement they got off the ball in the running game. Again, it was a small sample size, so I won’t come down on them too hard. But watching the contrast in these two interior OLs was eye opening to me. The gap between the NYG line and PHI line is bigger than most think.

-Outside we saw the continued trend that has been there all year. Andrew Thomas was almost lights out, Evan Neal struggled mightily. Thomas allowed 1 sack technically, but I did not record it. It was an end-around sack and Jones held on to the ball forever. Can’t use that one against him. Neal was the turnstile again. He allowed 2 sacks and 4 pressures. There is a ton of ground to make up here for the #7 overall selection in last year’s draft. I will not sugar coat it. Yes, Andrew Thomas struggled in 2020. But if you want to play the comparison game (which is not necessary), the structure of Neal’s issues looks closer to Ereck Flowers than Thomas.


-The NYG pass rush was abysmal and I initially looked at the edge defenders for that cause. It is true that neither Kayvon Thibodeaux nor Azeez Ojulari even sniffed Jalen Hurts. They were overmatched by the PHI tackles and that is the shortcoming in both of their games. They lack a power rush component and I think it is a team-issue that needs to be addressed. But I want to give a tip of the cap to Thibodeaux. In a game where they allowed 38 points and simply got owned as a group, he had 8 tackles and several of them were high level plays. His straight-line burst combined with sheer effort in pursuit was a difference maker. Ojulari, on the other hand, had just 1 tackle and lost the edge on multiple occasions. Defending a running game like PHI is so much about getting and keeping a hard edge and I thought Ojulari did poor job there. He also did not look 100%.

-Jihad Ward gave an admirable effort. He had 2 tackles and 1 TFL, but also did a lot of the necessary dirty work. If others stepped up and the defense itself did not miss so many tackles as a group, we would be singing more of Ward’s praises. I’ve said this a few times, sorry if it is repetitive. Ward’s role in the Martindale scheme is very important and not easy to fill. I do see some options in the draft, but in all reality, I’m not sure they can play as stout as Ward does against the run. On a day where I was disappointed by several of the front seven defenders against the run, Ward was a guy who kept showing up. Also, a great locker room guy. If the market ignores him like they did last offseason, I will welcome him back while they groom a rookie behind him.


-I noted before the game how much the pass rush can throw Hurts off. It was a vital component to the defensive execution, more than usual. Whether or not Martindale built off his league-high blitz rate, we needed to see a big-time performance out of both Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams. They did not rise to the occasion. Williams had one pressure and was put on ice skates against the run, finishing with two tackles. Lawrence did not get any pressure at all and while he did have 6 tackles, only two of them were near the point-of-attack. The PHI line had their way with these two.

-Ryder Anderson and Justin Ellis saw rotational snaps and will likely wind up on the PHI offensive line highlight reel. They were getting 4-5 yards of movement on these guys in all directions consistently. This defensive line is incredibly thin and will need serious attention this offseason.


-This was a two-man show. Jaylon Smith and Jarrad Davis both played 90% of the snaps. Smith led the team with 14 tackles and Davis had 5, one for a loss. Both missed one tackle each and Davis was flagged for an unfortunate personal-foul penalty that could have gone either way. Both play a very tight game. What I mean by that is they may look impressive with their straight-line speed and power, and it does make an impact when they guess correctly. But in a game full of subtle adjustments and quickness, they just don’t have it. A running game like this exposes that. They’re late and they can’t adjust. NYG enters the offseason in need of not one, but two starters at linebacker.


-Adoree’ Jackson did not look like he was at full strength. I went back and watched a half of a game from earlier in the season to confirm that. The movement out of his breaks looked less explosive and needed an extra step. He also had no power when fighting blocks. He did finish with 7 tackles, 1 for a loss. He missed a tackle and was beat for a couple of third-down conversions. The long speed was there though, as he was able to stick to A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith on deep routes. NYG can go into the offseason knowing they have a good starter here at a solid price.

-Behind him? One could make a case it is the second biggest need on the team. Nick McCloud was not tested much but when he was, he allowed a touchdown to Smith. The lack of recovery speed was apparent there. He had the angle on him and just got beat in a short window into the end zone. McCloud was also another victim of getting owned by PHI receivers when they blocked. Promising young player though who I would like to see on the depth chart next season.

-Darnay Holmes added one tackle and missed two of them. Defending the run against a team like PHI puts pressure on the nickel to fill hard and make tackles. He failed there. He was targeted three times and allowed three catches. Holmes is a little perplexing to me. He has all the talent and I think he plays with the necessary energy and physical nature. But he is the cornerback version of Jabrill Peppers to me. There just isn’t enough feel and instincts in his game and a good offense can eat that up whenever they want. Nickel corner is way down the list of team needs and Holmes is back on the final year of his rookie deal in 2023, but it is a spot worth looking into at some point this offseason for the sake of 2024.

-Fabian Moreau was not tested much in coverage and he added 2 tackles. What they do with him will dictate some of how they approach corner in the draft. On one side, you can’t trust him to cover good receivers consistently. On the other, the 28-year old is better than what a lot of other teams are using and his contract is small.


-I’ve noted and praised Julian Love all season for how versatile and impactful he has been for this defense. To keep this real, however, I have to say he had the most disappointing performance of the night. Coming into the game, he had 6 missed tackles all year (one of the best rates in the league, all positions). In this game alone, Love missed 5 tackles and allowed the biggest play of the day on the game’s opening drive. Compared to what he offered all season, Love let this defense down in a big way.

-On the flip side, Xavier McKinney made a couple of flash plays. He had 8 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and a pass deflection at the line. I was excited for this kid at the start of the year and I know the coaches were too. The ATV accident was an unfortunate accident that reminded us this is all a part of life. It happens. Hopefully he learned his lesson because he may be one of the most important 3 players on this defense next year.

-Tony Jefferson and Jason Pinnock played just 7 snaps a piece. Pinnock should very much be a part of this team’s future. I think they have something here and at the very least, he is a stud special teamer. Jefferson was brought in because of the familiarity to Martindale’s system. Very common practice when coaches change locations. I expect that backup box safety role to be filled by a rookie next year.


-K Graham Gano: 1/1 XP
-P Jamie Gillan: 5 punts / 43.2 avg – 43.2 net


-S Xavier McKinney, RB Matt Breida, EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux


-QB Daniel Jones, S Julian Love, OT Evan Neal


(1) Three games against the Eagles in under one month. On December 11, I wrote in the review that PHI would be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl. Fast forward to right now, I think they should be a heavy favorite over SF. And I like SF a lot. The gap between PHI and the rest of the conference has been a mile wide all season and even though SF has forgotten what it is like to lose a game, PHI matches up well and is simply better across the board.

(2) The PHI offensive line is the part of their team I am most impressed by. I think it is the best way to build a sustainable winning team. A good offensive line can make other players look better. A great offensive line can make other players look great. I am under the notion that no matter where you stand, the offensive line needs to be fed via the draft and/or free agency year after year. It is not one position. It is five. Used two first rounders on the line in recent memory? Cool. That isn’t enough if the other three spots are below average or average. Three? Not enough. Four? Maybe enough. But if you find five guys that can be considered near the top of their respective positions, your offense is going to be elite. On the Ourlads All-Pro team, PHI has the 1st-team center (Kelce), and the 2nd-team LG (Dickerson) and RT (Johnson). The other two starters are probably considered top-7 in the league at their positions. This line is one of the best I have ever seen. Their starters were brought in via the draft, every single one. 2011, 2013, 2016, 2018, 2021. Their backups? 2019, 2021, 2022, 2022. All in the draft or undrafted free agency. Feed the trenches. Draft better linemen. Then draft their backups. It will work.

(3) Now, on this loaded roster of theirs, someone has to shake free in free agency right? That is correct. DTs Hargrave and Cox are going to be FAs. DEs Graham and Quinn are going to be free agents. OC Kelce and CB Bradberry are going to be free agents. LBs White and Edwards are going to be free agents. The one guy I want NYG to take a long look at? OG Isaac Seumalo. Starting experience at both OG spots. Known for his pass protection skills. Constant movement as an inside run blocker. Would Joe Schoen bring him in even though they signed Glowinski last offseason? It could be a tall ask, but he is a rock-solid player who strengthens the starting lineup AND depth, as it would leave the revolving door they had at left guard in positions to fight for backup snaps.


(1) How do you wrap up a season’s worth of reviews? I could go on and on. My simple statement here, though, is that this needs to be considered a wildly successful season for this franchise. More wins than anyone thought they would get, even those in the building I bet. The first playoff win in a decade. A coaching staff that seems to finally be right there with some of the best in the game. A forward-thinking front office that, all things considered, touched all the right buttons with limited resources and flexibility. NYG is back on the map and even though they’re still far away from the level of PHI and SF, they’ve at least entered the church and are walking toward the front pew.

(2) The 2022 rookie class officially has their first season in the rear-view mirror. Let’s take a very quick look and assess how it turned out to this point (but remember, a draft class can only be evaluated after 3 years). I consider a successful draft one in that over 50% of the players taken contribute and meet their expectation. More specifically, over 22% of day 3 picks. Over 65% of day 2 picks. Over 85% of day one picks. I still have some digging to do on that data there, but the success rate league wide for successful picks is around those ranges. When looking only at their rookie seasons: Thibodeaux and Neal are split as it simply was not a good year for the tackle. Robinson and Ezeudu saw enough time and I would consider them hits, as they both contributed and saw starting-caliber snaps and played well enough. I think both are competing for starting jobs next season. Flott is a hit. He will be a starter or heavy rotational player in 2023. Bellinger is a hit, no question. Belton and McFadden are both hits, both day three picks that saw starting caliber snaps at points and provided solid play. Davidson, McKethan, and Beavers are N/A because of injuries. This was a home-run draft class to this point for the front office and one of the reasons I feel optimistic moving forward. I’m not sure how many people understand just how good it was.

(3) Where do we go from here? The talks start with what this team needs the most in order to get them on the next level. Their top five needs, not necessarily in any sort of strict order are:

WR: At least one, preferably two starting-caliber guys who can play the outside and provide explosive plays. They need speed, one of them needs size.

Pass Rusher: Preferably one DL, one OLB. They can’t rely on the four-man nucleus for an entire year. They need depth in case one goes down but also, they need a couple guys who can give a credible 8-12 snaps per game, at least.

Offensive Line: A starting caliber OC or OG needs to be signed or drafted. That will improve the starting group but also give them a sense of plus-depth when injuries arise.

Linebacker: Two new starters. Maybe Beavers comes back strong and takes a spot. Maybe McFadden evolves into one. But, maybe not. At least one needs to be signed or drafted with the intention of starting.

Cornerback: Jackson is a good player and good value at a position that is hard to find both. Holmes and McCloud can offer solid competition and depth at nickel. I would love to see this team draft a young outside corner with the kind of upside they view as a team’s CB1 in the near future. I’ve only started to begin deep dives on the defensive side of the draft class, but I can see this corner group is one of the deeper ones I have seen in a long, long time.


The next order of business on this team will revolve around what to do with their money. Yes, NYG does have a lot of cap space this offseason AND even more slated for next offseason (depending on what they do in the next 2 months). But QB Jones, RB Barkley, OT Thomas, and DT Lawrence are going to swallow up a ton of those funds if all are re-signed. If you had to choose one to let walk, who would it be? Not an easy decision at all but positional value will lead to the notion that Barkley is the first on the list they let out the door. Franchise tags are always possible, but they always present issues to the team environment. This will be an interesting situation to watch. Of all 32 teams, NYG is set to have one of the most fascinating offseasons in the league.

Jan 172023
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (January 15, 2023)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports


-Daniel Jones: 24/35 – 301 yards / 2 TD – 0 INT / 114.1 RAT / 17 att – 78 yards

Jones started 53 games prior to this matchup in MIN. That is three-plus seasons worth. This one, the first ever in the post-season, needs to be considered one of the best of his career to this point, if not the best when considering the magnitude. What made this one so impressive? He essentially did everything a big-time quarterback does all wrapped into four quarters in a road post-season matchup. Jones’ throws were tremendous, plain and simple. They were accurate to all angles of the tree, from the pocket and on the move. His running attempts were no-nonsense and explosive. Chunk gain after chunk gain with his legs. His pocket presence and decision-making looked so sharp and sure. He responded exceptionally to pressure. He scored 2 touchdowns and did not turn the ball over. He took big hits (a lot of them) and got back up. The list goes on. Proving all of this in one game, a first-ever playoff game for the player and many around him, is worthy of being talked about in Giants history.

Does this kind of performance catapult Jones into a higher level? You know, I hate the talk this time of year about where guys rank in the league. One, it does not matter. Two, save that chatter for the offseason where it holds at least some value. I do wonder if this game in Jones’ own head gives him the last bit of confidence to go out there and play like this week in, week out no matter the opponent. That is what the upper tier quarterbacks do. MIN does not have a good defense. They have solid pieces here and there, but they were bottom 5 in the NFL. But Jones is elevating to arguably the top dual threat in the league. He has 3 interceptions over his last 14 games. THREE. He can’t throw with the likes of Burrow and Mahomes, but they can’t move the way he does. The final component to Jones getting to his own ceiling is between his ears now that he has the right coaching staff. This is the kind of game that can awaken that monster. Next up, a rested defense that allowed the second-fewest yards in football.


-Saquon Barkley: 9 att – 53 yards – 2 TD / 5 rec – 56 yards

#26 look possessed. We have, I have, been critical of Barkley’s back-and-forth hesitation style over the past few years. We have seen a different version of him in this offense, but what we saw here was next level. The sudden burst looked like he was playing in fast forward. The violence he showed on multiple touches left MIN defenders fixing their chin straps after the play. He had two big-time blocks in pass protection. Barkley, like Jones, elevated his game on the biggest stage. The fact he touched the ball just 14 times (and rested during week 18) makes me feel good about his ceiling in PHI next Saturday night. While you can’t just force him into 30 carries because of game situations and tempo, Barkley is set up for the night of his career in the NFC Divisional round against the number one seed.

-Matt Breida had just 3 carries for 8 yards. While the impact wasn’t frequent, he did come up with one of the biggest effort plays of the game. On a 3rd-and-1 jet sweep that was doomed from the beginning, Breida broke three tackles and inched his way over the first down marker. It did not lead to a score or anything big, but the energy it produced for the team and the wind it took out of MIN sails kept the momentum in NYG’s favor.


-Isaiah Hodgins: 8 rec – 105 yards / 1 TD

NYG may not have their own Justin Jefferson, but they do have a version of a go-to receiver who they consider a number one guy. In his last three games including this playoff win, he has 20 catches on just 24 targets for 236 yards and 3 touchdowns. The plays he is making are not layups, either. Precise, sharp routes with elite hand coordination and strength are the standout traits I am seeing. He had four first downs in addition to the score. His catch in the fourth quarter of a tie game on 2nd-and-10 near the sideline was as good as you are going to find. The play was equally impressive and created by Jones. If that were Mahomes and Kelce, it would be played on repeat across all networks. Do not underestimate how hard that was across the board. An in-season waiver pick up. Just amazing.

-Darius Slayton was a big part of the offensive success. He had 88 yards on 4 catches, by far the biggest play-threat in the passing game. He nearly came down with a touchdown in the fourth quarter as well. The play that everyone remembers, however, is the fourth quarter drop that would have likely resulted in a first down and all but sealed the win. Instead, MIN got another possession and forced the defense to come up with the stop. This was Slayton’s second drop of the day, his eighth of the year. His drop percentage is the highest in the NFL. As unfair as it may seem, this is anything but dependable, where the potential ramifications from the result are enormous.

-Richie James caught 4 passes for 31 yards. And Kenny Golladay saw a few snaps (4), but made a huge block on the edge in the fourth quarter that contributed. Good to see that kind of hustle and aggression considering the circumstances. It is plays like that, effort like that, from all 46 active game-day players that win games.


-Daniel Bellinger caught 2 passes for 17 yards. He was chewed out by Daboll for moving early on a play that ended in Jones rushing for an apparent touchdown. He was flagged for an illegal shift and NYG ended up settling for a field goal. While it did not impact the result of the game, those were four points NYG left on the board because of a mental mistake. Remember, Bellinger also had a red-zone lost fumble last time NYG was in MIN. But credit to the fourth-round rookie from San Diego State. He came up big on the opening drive of the third quarter, catching Jones’ second touchdown pass. It was a play-action bootleg design that needed Bellinger to sell the block and peel out at the exact right moment. He checked the boxes, caught the ball, and got into the end zone.

-Nick Vannett and Lawrence Cager saw the backup snaps, the latter seeing more and catching a ball for 4 yards. Cager also had a 3rd-and-goal target, but he slipped out of his break and gave the MIN defender a clear shot at batting the ball away.


-The tackles were on the opposite side of the spectrum, as has been the case all year. Andrew Thomas allowed one pressure and was lights out the rest of the way. He played fast and powerful in the running game both in-line and in space. They pulled him outside as a lead blocker on a couple of occasions and he did serious damage. He had one of the key blocks on the first Barkley touchdown run and it only happens because of how fast he can get out of his stance. He looked fully healthy. Evan Neal, in a matchup I absolutely hated on paper prior to the game, had a rough game. He allowed 4 pressures, a sack, and a TFL. The feet keep stopping on initial contact and the edge defenders are just continuing their climb up the edge until they’re free. Too much catch-up needed for a guy who does not have catch up speed. The NYG win and Jones’ performance hid just how bad Neal was in this game.

-Hats off to veterans Jon Feliciano and Mark Glowinski. They were not perfect, but they were effective. Both of their contributions were especially felt in the running game. Glowinski stayed attached and kept the line moving upfield. Feliciano, who allowed 1 pressure, was most effective on the move. His speed when he pulls out laterally is an underrated component to their outside power-run game. Not all centers can get out there fast enough. It is refreshing to see these two gritty linemen raise their games to the next level in this environment.

-Nick Gates got the start at left guard but saw less than half the snaps Ben Bredeson did there. Gates was flagged for a hold early on. Bredeson did not fare much better. He lost a lot of one-on-one battles against the likes of former Giant Dalvin Tomlinson and Harrison Phillips.


-It was good to see the starters back together. Azeez Ojulari and Kayvon Thibodeaux on the outside with the two monsters in the middle creates such a dangerous four-man rush. Some of that shows up in obvious fashion; other ways are hidden to the naked eye but equally beneficial to the defense. These two did not do much against the pass. Thibodeaux had 2 pressures but added 5 tackles and was great in pursuit once again. Ojulari had a half-TFL and one pressure. He left the game early with a quad injury, yet another soft tissue blow to the lower body. These have piled up and I now worry about his long-term prospects.

-Jihad Ward was on the field for just half of the snaps. He is an early-down defender who they tried to keep off the field on most passing downs. He is best suited for that role. He finished with one tackle.

-Oshane Ximines saw most of the snaps after Ojulari went out; Tomon Fox had a handful. Neither made an impact. Overall, a pretty quiet day from the outside guys when it came to the pass rush, but they did well setting the edge in the running game.


-I said earlier that Jones put this team on his shoulders and led the team to victory. A strong argument can be made it was in fact the two-headed monster of Dexter Lawrence + Leonard Williams on defense. These two are special to watch when they’re healthy and on top of their games. They combined for 10 tackles (Lawrence 6 / Williams 4), 11 pressures (Lawrence 6 / Williams 5), and 1 TFL (Lawrence). The second-team, All-Pro Lawrence especially took the game over down the stretch. He was unblockable and MIN center Garrett Bradbury is going to be seeing him in his nightmares all offseason. The power and lockout by himself were unbeatable. Williams missed two tackles and was not as disruptive in the second half; he got put on ice skates a couple times against the run. But nonetheless, big time and game-changing performances by these two.

-Lawrence and Williams were on the field for all but six plays, an uptick from what we saw over the final month of the season. The magnitude of the game and lack of quality depth behind them dictated that. Ryder Anderson and Justin Ellis saw a few snaps and it did not go well. I know Lawrence + Williams cannot stay on the field every single snap, but it is hard to get these two off of the field and not experience a drastic decline in impact up front.


-In a move that surprised me, Micah McFadden was a healthy scratch in favor of Jarrad Davis, who was signed on December 28. Davis played over half of the snaps. He and Jaylon Smith are both very similar profiles. Former highly-touted prospects, former starters in the middle for other teams, overall disappointments who did not reach the ceiling many projected. But they still have three traits that nobody can deny. They’re fast, big, and physical. One of the standout traits to this defense overall is how sudden they are in pursuit. They truly fly after the football with a mob mentality. Davis and Smith both had some issues against the inside run, but they picked it up as the game went on and remained aggressive. Smith had 7 tackles and a TFL while Davis had 3 tackles and a pressure. He also allowed a touchdown in zone coverage against a receiver, not a battle anyone would expect him to win. It was a great play design and I thought safety Xavier McKinney should have made a better read on the play.

-Landon Collins played just 11 snaps and made 1 tackle. Davis really did shoot up this depth chart in a hurry. It has Martindale written all over it. There is a specific way he wanted to work against this offense, and he went after the size + speed + physicality traits. It could be completely different at PHI. He wants you to be confused, he relishes in that fact.


-Adoree’ Jackson was back for the first time in seven weeks after spraining his knee on a punt return. As expected, he looked a bit rusty early on and MIN attacked him. He later allowed a touchdown in zone coverage to TE Irv Smith. While it wasn’t the best game for Jackson, I would still take this version of him over what they had out there during his injury. Add in the fact he looked more confident later, I feel good about his status against PHI and A.J. Brown/DeVonta Smith.

-Darnay Holmes was handed a tough assignment. He drew T.J. Hockenson often in man coverage and got roasted. He allowed 7 catches on 7 targets. Many of them were underneath though and he quickly made the tackle afterward. With that in mind, he was dynamite against the MIN screen game. He sniffed two out in a hurry, reacted fast, and recorded 2 TFL. His physical play is a weapon in these nickel/dime looks, almost like an extra linebacker.

-Fabian Moreau was on the field for almost the entire game and we rarely heard his name called. That is a good sign and upon looking at the All-22, his coverage matched the perception. Martindale showed more zone coverage than we are used to seeing in this game and I believe Moreau shined in that role. He seems much more comfortable than Jackson did.

-Cor’Dale Flott played just 3 snaps, but he had the best play on the ball we saw all game from NYG defenders on a 3rd-down pass on the final drive of the game. Excellent recovery speed, steady eyes, and an accurate extension for a nice, clean break-up. Nick McCloud saw 16 snaps and was not much of a factor, good or bad.


-The two unsung heroes in a game of full of easily noticeable stars were Xavier McKinney and Julian Love. They were a joy to watch over the top, as they took turns on doubling/bracketing Justin Jefferson. McKinney led the team with 8 tackles and added a deep ball pass break-up. Love added 4 tackles. One of the biggest wins this defense had was limiting yards after catch to the MIN wide receivers. Adam Thielen had 4 yards on 3 catches (1.3 avg vs. 2.3 on the year). Justin Jefferson had 7 yards on 7 catches (1.0 avg vs 4.7 on the year). K.J. Osborn had 4 yards on 2 catches (2.0 avg vs 4.9 on the year). You may not think that is a lot, but it adds up if you do the math. Much of this had to do with McKinney being there right away and good tackling by the rest of the defensive backs.

-All three backups saw time. Tony Jefferson led the way with 22 snaps, Dane Belton played 10 snaps, and Jason Pinnock was on the field for 7 snaps before being carted off with a serious abdomen injury that required a trip to the hospital. The mix in personnel packages helps the Martindale ethos. Cause confusion, create your own match-up advantages. Jefferson had 4 tackles and a pressure. Belton added 2 tackles and provided quality coverage down the stretch. I know the staff may not fully trust the day-three rookie, but Belton’s range and movement are excellent.


-K Graham Gano: 1/1 (Made 25)
-P Jamie Gillan: 2 punts / 45.0 avg – 45.0 net


-QB Daniel Jones, DT Dexter Lawrence, WR Isaiah Hodgins


-OT Evan Neal, WR Darius Slayton, EDGE Oshane Ximines


(1) We need to go into this offseason knowing that, despite winning 13 games, the Vikings simply were not a good team. Yes, from the basic (and maybe more important to some) level, wins are wins. Nevertheless, the Vikings are middle tier in the league when it comes to point differential and turnover differential. They ranked number one in the league in fumble luck. They won 11 out of 12 games decided by one score, which almost always regresses from a mark like that in the next season. MIN is in a division that provided almost no competition and that helped inflate what they really were.

(2) All of this and the team ranks 10th worst in cap space for 2023. We are about to see a lot of changes to that roster; guys who have been mainstays on the team that has made the playoffs three times since 2017 but has ranked bottom-five in yards allowed each of the last three seasons. Adam Thielen carries a $19+ million cap hit, way too high. Harrison Smith is in the same exact boat. They both carry hurtful dead money amounts if cut, however. Za’Darius Smith and Dalvin Cook do not. They are due to make a combined $30 million in 2023, but they can both be let go for roughly $6 million in dead cap combined. Those are just a few examples and there a couple others, but the point is we are going to see players with something left to give shake free from this team that can help NYG moving forward at a cheaper price.

(3) Not sure if everyone remembers or even knows what MIN did this past offseason in their front office. They hired Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as general manager, a former Wall Streeter with very limited football background compared to most in that position. A New Jersey kid who went to Princeton and played college basketball, Mensah was initially hired by the Niners in the analytics/research department. Ten years later, he is a GM. Year two is where I really pay close attention to a new general manager and his tactics. I’ll be interested to see what he does this offseason. His trade value chart for the draft was way different than anything that has been used in the past, based on his value of draft picks in the 35-60 range. I am also curious to see where he spends his future money that will eventually become available from this offseason’s expected cuts. This could be the way of the future, or this could be an experiment that folds in a hurry.


(1) Is the NYG coaching staff playing chess while the rest of us are playing checkers? The decision to play for the tie vs. WAS Week 13. The decline in usage of Dexter Lawrence down the stretch in important games. The rotations they have used along the OL all season. The back-and-forth safety depth chart. The progression of Daniel Jones. The aggressive nature vs. the conservative style at the end of halves and games. I could go on with a few others, but there were a few head-scratchers this year, a few decisions by the coaching staff that simply left me confused. Was this a part of their long-term vision? Are they really that detailed with what they have mapped out for the future in a league full of weekly surprises? Coaching staffs and front offices often talk about a long-term plan, but on game day and with certain roster moves, it appears to be BS. Their vision seems to be a step ahead of everyone else. I can count on one hand how many teams challenge us intellectually. I’m now thinking NYG is one of them.

(2) “My mission is to confuse the quarterback.” A quote from Wink Martindale that stood out to me soon after he was hired. This is a guy who led the NFL in blitzing by a wide margin in 2022. Nobody was even close. We have to think with a banged up MIN offensive line, and facing a healthy group of NYG pass rushers, more of the same right? Martindale essentially cut his blitz rate in half, utilized more zone coverage than he did all season, and made a surprising personnel change at inside linebacker that nobody saw coming. I thought one of the keys to the game was NYG causing disruption with four pass rushers and dropping seven into coverage. It went against what Martindale did all year, but that is what he did and it worked. The lack of explosive plays generated at receiver by MIN were a catalyst to the win, and a result derived from NYG dropping seven and still getting enough pressure. Whatever PHI thinks they will see Saturday, expect the opposite? What do you think Martindale will do?

(3) The Divisional Playoffs in Philadelphia on a Saturday night against the number-one seed. You want to talk about a franchise-changing opportunity? We all know the ship is heading in the right direction a few knots faster than anticipated. This game, however, is a different level of complexity and potential trajectory. A team that has been at the top of the NFC all season. A division rival. Arguably the deepest roster in the league, many of their players battle-tested in the post-season. NYG is the team that comes in with nothing to lose, though. This is the kind of matchup we saw back in 2008, the season after NYG won Eli Manning’s first Super Bowl. They went 12-4 (#1 seed), got a first-round bye, and faced off against the 9-6-1 Eagles coming off a Wild Card win at…you guessed it…Minnesota. I went back and took at look at Eric’s game review from that game 14 years ago, and I suggest you do too. Here is an excerpt you need to keep in mind when thinking about this game that will be played in a few days:

“In football, nothing is given.  It is earned.  Every playoff game is a season in itself and if you do not out-play your opponent on that given day, you go home.  It hurts, but that is the reality of post-season football.  #1 seeds fall all the time in the playoffs.  It’s not a rare event.”

Jan 102023
Lawrence Cager, New York Giants (January 8, 2023)

Lawrence Cager – © USA TODAY Sports


-Davis Webb: 23/40 – 168 yards / 1 TD- 0 INT / 75.8 RAT / 6 att – 41 yards / 1 TD

Such a feel-good story here for a kid drafted in the third round by NYG near the end of the Eli Manning era. The future coach has been waived five times since 2018, never started an NFL game, and had never thrown a pass in a regular-season game. That all changed as he took on the #1 seed Eagles in a game NYG was resting the majority of the entire offensive line and starting skill position players matched up against a defense that was throwing the entire starting lineup on the field. Talk about a tall order!

Webb earned the respect of everybody in this one. He was under pressure for most of the game but responded with zero turnovers and avoided taking one sack. His internal clock and escapability were the top two traits I saw out of him. Nobody is going to mistake Webb for the athlete Jones is, but he has such a good feel for when to take off and run. This game was a prime example for young QBs to see just how valuable it is to get the ball out in a hurry when an offense is overmatched. Webb took what the PHI defense gave and ended up scoring two touchdowns, one on the ground and one in the air. He may never get this opportunity again and I’m glad this lone career start went the way it did.


-Saquon Barkley stayed in sweats on the sideline, an easy decision for the staff. I don’t believe there was any debate with that one. Gary Brightwell was the biggest beneficiary, seeing a career-high 60 yards on 11 carries. He was impressive with how many tackle attempts he ripped through, gaining most of his yards after contact (47). The overall sample size is still pretty small, but this kid has shown he belongs. The burst, power, and passion he displays can be a difference maker. He has broken a tackle once every 5 touches this year. Incredibly low data, I know. But just for reference, Barkley broke one every 8 touches.

-Matt Breida gained 28 yards on 4 carries and added 7 catches for 12 yards. His explosion and speed in the open field is the best on the team and quite frankly near the best in the NFL at the position. If I had to choose one off-the-radar guy who I think can create a huge play against MIN next Sunday, it is Breida. This guy can fly.


-Kenny Golladay signed a 4-year, $72 million in 2021. It will go down as one of the worst contracts in league history when looking at dollars spent, and production posted. In the 26th game of his tenure with NYG, Golladay scored his first touchdown. It was a remarkable play that brought back the memories of his career in Detroit where he made several high-caliber, highlight-reel catches. He finished what I expect to be his final regular-season game here with 2 receptions for 30 yards.

-Isaiah Hodgins did not see the field. Darius Slayton only was in the game for three snaps. Richie James only saw snaps on special teams. That opened the door for Marcus Johnson, who led the position group with 36 yards and 3 catches. Webb missed him downfield on a broken play where PHI simply forgot about him. It would have been a 40+ yard gain, at least.


-Daniel Bellinger was a healthy inactive for this one, a sign of how much they value the rookie fourth rounder. This opened the door for Lawrence Cager, an overlooked in-season pick up who I wish had more opportunities when Bellinger was out. His receiving skillset is obvious. He led the team with 8 catches for 69 yards, showing elite ball skills on passes away from his body. There is a different level of twitch to the former wide receiver’s post-catch movement. It was his effort and power that converted a short pass on 4th-and-1 for a first down on the first NYG touchdown drive.

-Nick Vannett saw a season-high 55 snaps. He added 2 catches for 18 yards and some quality blocking on the edge.


-Evan Neal got the start at right tackle and played about half the snaps before Matt Peart relieved him. It was an ugly game for the rookie, who has piled up those performances this season. He allowed three pressures and was flagged for two false starts. I don’t want to keep repeating myself, but I want to reiterate that Neal is one of the most vital players on this team next week. His bad-caliber games can put such a restriction on the passing attack. He just does not have it right now. The losses on an island are the same every week. Big test for him.

-Tyre Phillips got the start at left tackle, while Andrew Thomas was inactive. He allowed four pressures, and all things considered, was not bad. I will not label it a victory for the third-year veteran, but his run-blocking performance did help his overall grade a bit. Matt Peart got some playing time at right tackle and appears to have the same shortcomings we have seen in the past. He was flagged for a false start and allowed a pressure. He does not even look comfortable in his stance, let alone on an island against the most underrated edge defender in the league, Haason Reddick.

-Inside we saw a mix of players, but Ben Bredeson and Jack Anderson were the two who played every snap. Their match-ups against the PHI interior defensive line is about as hard as it gets in the NFL. Both allowed two pressures and Bredeson allowed a TFL. There isn’t much to say beyond the fact there is such a big gap in talent between the PHI line and Bredeson/Anderson. Considering that, we got what we expected there, and I hate saying stuff like this, but it could have been much worse.

-Wyatt Davis got his feet wet with 26 snaps down the stretch when Nick Gates (who played well) went out, and Bredeson moved to OC. Remember, Davis was a recent third -round pick (2021). The 26 snaps were by far a career-high (he never saw more than 2 snaps in a game prior to this) and I liked his initial pop/power. He allowed 1 pressure and got movement in the running game. Definitely a guy I want to keep around.


-Azeez Ojulari, Kayvon Thibodeaux, and Jihad Ward sat the game out. It was the right call in my eyes. That also opened the door for Tomon Fox and Oshane Ximines to get a full plate of playing time. They both played all 73 defensive snaps. Fox played a better game, finishing with 4 tackles and 2 pressures, one of which led to a sack. Ximines added 2 tackles and an untouched pressure.

-There is one thing I’ve noticed in recent weeks. Ward’s role (mix of OLB + DE + DT) does not have a true backup. It is not a big deal because you can fill his role with other guys based on the situation, but I think his spot is something NYG will be attacking in the draft. I have a list of at least five guys who can do it in the upcoming class.


-So much of this defense is on the shoulders of the DT duo of Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence. I was glad to see them both inactive for this one. Ryder Anderson and Justin Ellis saw an uptick in playing time and it wasn’t pretty. Anderson did pressure Hurts twice, but he was on ice skates against the run. He was easily driven back 3-4 yards multiple times. Ellis, a much bigger body, was not driven back as much but he wasn’t stout either. Tough day for these two.

-Henry Mondeaux and Jack Heflin held their ground better. The former added 2 tackles.


-Jarrad Davis made his debut with the Giants. The former first-round pick has bounced between practice squads and backup roles on the 53-man rosters of DET and NYJ since 2017. This guy plays the high-risk, high-speed, violent brand of football that Martindale loves to use. He finished with 10 tackles, a half-sack, and a pressure. He is very linear. Meaning he can shoot downhill and make an impact, but the issue of lack of twitchy lateral adjustment is still there. Simply a guy who plays fast and strong, but not quick if that makes sense. No, I don’t think he will be a factor next week at all. I doubt he has a strong grasp of the playbook. But a fun tape to watch and maybe he turns into the next version of Jaylon Smith this upcoming offseason.

-Micah McFadden played his best game of the season on 35 snaps. He had 7 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL, and the most physical hits of the afternoon on both sides. He has always been instinctive and solid between the tackles, but he appeared to have extra juice in this one. Perhaps a sign he is clicking mentally? McFadden needs to be kept out of specific space situations but his impact between the tackles can be a difference against Dalvin Cook next week.

-Landon Collins didn’t play a ton but I liked seeing him in coverage against PHI tight ends and backs. He also had some QB spy roles on Hurts which did help contain him on a couple of scrambles. Should NYG find their way to PHI again in a couple weeks, he will be an important player.

-Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown played just three snaps on defense.


-Adoree’ Jackson will return from his injury in the playoffs. He joined Fabian Moreau and Darnay Holmes on the sideline for this one.

-That left second year pros Rodarius Williams and Nick McCloud along with rookie Cor’Dale Flott. I’ll start with Flott. He finished with 3 tackles and 1 PD. He missed a tackle and continues to be just a hair late on throws that head his way. I am still pleased with his movement, but I am still worried about the lack of staying power in contested situations.

-McCloud had an active game. Martindale went blitz-heavy and McCloud was one of the main weapons. Because of that, he seemed to be around the action often. He had 1.5 sacks, a pass break up at the line, and 5 tackles. He was also flagged for a dumb roughing-the-passer penalty that could have been a major blow in a playoff game. I have wondered if he is a safer bet than Holmes at nickel. Less coverage penalties, similar coverage traits. I think Martindale loves Holmes, though.

-Williams led the team with 10 tackles, largely because Hurts was throwing in his direction all night. He allowed 8 catches on a whopping 12 targets for 101 yards. It has been 6 weeks since he’s seen action, and all of the sudden, he’s covering A.J. Brown. Tough situation for him.


-Julian Love and Xavier McKinney did not play. That opened the door for Jason Pinnock, Dane Belton, and Tony Jefferson.

-Belton had the best game of the trio. He finished with 6 tackles and an end-zone interception, his second of the year. He nearly had another one that went right through his hands. This was a solid rookie season for Belton, who fought through multiple clavicle injuries and was up and down on the field. I can see the traits in Belton that lead to optimism. The physical goods are there.

-Pinnock had 4 tackles and missed one on the Boston Scott touchdown while Jefferson added 2 tackles. Pinnock just needs more experience before we really know what we have. His game gets a little out of control, but I love the speed and physical nature he brings.


-K Graham Gano: 1/1 (Made 24)
-P Jamie Gillan: 6 punts / 44.0 avg – 39.0 net


-QB Davis Webb, TE Lawrence Cager, LB Micah McFadden


-OT Evan Neal, CB Rodarius Williams, DT Justin Ellis


Not sure I am heading into the bye week with a ton of confidence right now if I am PHI. If Lane Johnson comes back from his torn adductor injury (VERY painful), he won’t be 100% or even close. Jalen Hurts looked rusty and is now heading toward another week away from football. He will start the divisional game after playing in just one game over the course of 4 weeks and he hasn’t thrown a touchdown since December 11. But has thrown three interceptions since then. The roster is stacked, no question. But I don’t view them in the same light as I have previous #1 seeds. They’ve lost a lot of steam.

Most quarterbacks are better when kept clean than when up against pressure. Obvious, I know. But the gap between a clean pocket vs. pressure is something I like to track. The margin between clean vs. pressure for Hurts is wide. Very wide. The notion was strengthened when I re-watched this tape, and it was against the backups. This may be the biggest focal point to track for PHI in the postseason.

Does Nick Sirianni deserve to be the Coach of the Year? Absolutely not. He should not even be one of the top 3 considered. This team made the playoffs last year, their schedule difficulty was average at best. Their roster is absolutely stacked on both sides of the ball. If there is anyone in that organization who deserves a league award, it is GM Howie Roseman. What he has done to engineer this squad has been remarkable from every angle.


What better week than to take an extra deep look at…NYG kicker Graham Gano. A credible statement can be made that the most underrated player on this team is the 35-year-old kicker. Who are the best 5 kickers in the game right now? Like relief pitchers, it is a moving target. But let me take a crack at it. Justin Tucker (BAL), Daniel Carlson (LV), Matt Gay (LAR), Brett Maher (DAL), and Jake Elliott (PHI). How does Gano stack up since 2020 when he joined NYG? Third in FG percentage (91.8%). Second in percentage from 50+ (80%). First in percentage from 40-49 yards (96%). Gano enters a playoff game that is projected to be a 3-point contest as one of the best kickers in the NFL over the last three years. One of the subtle reasons why I like NYG in the match-up.

I don’t feel like getting too deep into the debate surrounding the decision to sit their key players. It does not have an objective resolution and a strong case can be made for both sides. I felt they did exactly what they should have, though. The depth is not good enough to lose someone to a silly injury (see Mike Williams, LAC). Some are already banged up. And NYG has a real shot at going to MIN and winning that game. This is the first playoff game that many of these guys have ever experienced. I don’t fear rust or extra rest hurting at all for these guys. They will be as amped up as we have seen any Giants team over the past decade.

My regular-season predication for NYG was 6-11. Let’s take a quick look at why I was so wrong by 3 games. The red-zone success (7th best) was a gigantic leap from 2021 (32nd). This was Daboll’s specialty in BUF and I did not think it would be enough to make such a difference right away on this team. I was wrong. Second, I questioned just how high a level Barkley could reach after looking like a shadow of his former self against contact. His three biggest red flags from 2021 were improved. Yards after contact, touches per missed tackle, and drop percentage. That and his 18 runs of 15+ yards were the most since his rookie season (20) and more than the previous three seasons combined (15). Lastly, I was wrong about how much Martindale could do with this defensive front. NYG ranked #5 in pressure percentage, #4 in knockdown percentage, and #1 in blitz percentage. They ranked 30th, 29th, and 18th in those respective categories just a year ago. What a difference he made!

On to the playoffs! A first for me as the writer for game reviews.

Jan 032023
Richie James, New York Giants (January 1, 2023)

Richie James – © USA TODAY Sports


-Daniel Jones: 19/24 – 177 yards/ 2 TD – 0 INT / 125.2 RAT

Jones added a game-high 91 yards on 11 carries, including another 2 touchdowns. This was the first time he was responsible for more than 2 touchdowns in a game since December 22, 2019 (his rookie season). That blew me away when I first looked into it. Considering the magnitude of this game and the fact his supporting cast is still well below average, I am labeling this the best performance of his career. While we have seen more production in previous games and more downfield/complex passing, the combination of his running and the fact he put this team on his back as they approached this win-and-in contest speaks volumes. Absolute enormous volumes. While IND is a bad team, they do not have a bad defense. Jones rose to the occasion and got the most out of himself and the players around him. He rallied this team together via action, not words. He was the first to pick up Slayton after the fumble. He put his body on the line numerous times. He never lost his mojo, it only strengthened. Dumb this down to the basics and that is exactly what a team needs out of a franchise quarterback.

Recency bias will put him onto the pedestal in this week’s episode of “Should NYG lock Jones up long term?” debate, a series that has seen more twists and turns than Ozark. Like always, I will remain on the outside of what I think NYG should do until everything is over. But a takeaway I have that nobody can dispute? Jones and Daboll have a good thing going and it is only ascending. All of this with, once again, a supporting cast that I still think ranks bottom third in the NFL. The next step in the evaluation will be how he responds to playoff football on the road. A different level of intensity, a different level of pressure.


-Saquon Barkley: 12 att – 58 yards / 2 rec -5 yards

Another sign this offense has come a long way: Barkley’s 53 total yards were the fourth lowest of the year. The other three games he was held below 55? Loss to DET where they scored 18 points. Loss to DAL where they scored 20 points. Loss to PHI where they scored 22 points. This team is getting better in games where Barkley gets contained; to the point where they scored 38 points (the most since 12/22/2019) in a winning effort. If there is one negative on the lack of production, those four games under 55 yards have all come in the last 7 games.

The one catch here is Barkley had just 12 carries (he averages 18 per game). His usage has dropped a lot since the first half of the season and there are multiple variables behind that. It is a good thing. He looked fresh and explosive again. Not many backs can say that in Week 17 and it is good to know that, if necessary, he is able to touch the ball 35 times in the playoff game. I would like to see him on the sidelines next week against PHI.

-Matt Breida added 59 yards on 9 carries and 8 yards on 1 catch. Explosive day for him and someone I think we forget about. He is a dangerous player if he reaches the open field. Always has been. Gary Brightwell had 9 yards on 5 carries.


-Richie James and Isaiah Hodgins came up big once again. This is why they play the games. Who would have predicted back in August that these two would be the 1-2 punch for the playoff-bound Giants down the stretch? Not only the 1-2 punch, but a formidable one. James caught all 7 targets for 76 yards and a touchdown. Hodgins caught 4 passes for 42 yards and a touchdown. 4 touchdowns over his last 5 games for the waiver claim from BUF and James has caught 26 of his last 30 targets. Tough, dependable, and smart.

-Last week I said Darius Slayton was going to score a big touchdown soon. If you told me NYG was going to put up nearly 40 points, I would have been positive Slayton was going to be a big part of it. I was wrong. He finished with 2 catches for 14 yards and was responsible for the biggest offensive gaffe of the day. Poor ball security after a catch led to a fumble on the first play of the third quarter.

-NYG is playing with a razor-thin receiver group. An injury to any one of these guys changes the offense immensely.


-Daniel Bellinger got more involved in the passing game, catching all 3 targets for 42 yards. He has now caught 30 of 33 passes this year. There are 44 tight ends with 29+ targets this season. Bellinger’s 91% catch-percentage ranks number one. This is a guy who will not get a lot of attention from opposing defenses in the postseason, I guarantee it. If he can get open, I expect him to be a focal point in key spots. He has passed test after test as a receiver. The bigger positive, in my eyes, was the quality blocking grade he earned. He did allow a pressure in the passing game, but I thought his pop and violence made a difference on trap blocks. His mechanics are all there and I think the baseline power presence is enough to build upon. He is going to be a quality blocker over his career.

-Nick Vannett allowed a TFL and Chris Myrick barely played. Neither were targeted. NYG has taken a sharp turn away from extra tight end usage.


-This was the best overall performance we have seen from the offensive line all season. Just 4 pressures was a season-low besides the CHI game where Jones dropped back 17 times. There were also zero sacks allowed. The second time in three weeks we can say that. It looks like the group is coming together just at the right time.

-Andrew Thomas bounced back after a rough game against MIN. He pitched a shutout in pass protection. I still see some loss of power and I have no idea if the ankle/foot is acting up or weakening, but it is worth keeping an eye on. Rookie Evan Neal bounced back well after a terrible game last week. Just 2 pressures against an ascending Kwity Paye and more dominant looks as a run blocker. While it may be an unfair comment, Neal is going to be one of the most important players on this team come playoff time. The spectrum between his good and bad is massive and can dictate a lot when it comes to the offense’s consistency and big-play potential.

-Inside is where I noticed the most improvement when it came to consistency. While we saw a couple of negative plays, it was nothing game-changing or overly hurtful. Nick Gates was flagged for tripping. Jon Feliciano allowed a pressure. Ben Bredeson played a clean game. Mark Glowinski allowed just one pressure despite several one-on-one matchups against Grover Stewart and DeForest Buckner, one of the better inside duos in the league. He got away with a block in the back on the Jones rushing touchdown in the early third quarter. He is a savvy player and even though some of the tightness in his hips creates issues here and there, he does a lot of little things with his hands and angles that make a positive difference.


-Azeez Ojulari was questionable all week and he barely played. I think that was partially a result of the point margin getting so high, so quickly. I bet he would have played more had the game been tighter. I expect him to sit out next week so he can be fresh for the playoffs.

-Kayvon Thibodeaux continues his red-hot play. It is good to see him do it without Ojulari on the field. While this fearsome foursome (one of you creative people needs to come up with a nickname for them) feeds off each other, seeing them do it individually means a lot. Man am I excited to see what they can do in the next few years. Thibodeaux finished with 5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL, and a pass break up. The sack was unblocked but that was the kind of explosion and lack of hesitation that we did not see early in the year. That and his power against the run are the two biggest gains throughout the season and it has turned into production. The snow angel next to an injured Foles is a complete non-story.

-Tomon Fox added 2 tackles and some physical, stout run defense along with Jihad Ward, who added 4 tackles. Oshane Ximines played 31 snaps and came on the field in passing situations. He did not pressure the quarterback once and he missed a tackle. After a solid start this season, his impact on the defense has been non-existent over the past 1-2 months.


-Maybe the two biggest winners of the blowout margin were Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams. They played just 67% and 53% of the snaps respectively. Keeping these guys fresh and healthy is absolutely vital. The lower-than-normal snap share did not result in a lack of impact. Lawrence strengthened his All-Pro candidacy with 5 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 pressures. His sack came on an island against Quenton Nelson, the best guard in football. No double moves. No fancy hand-work. He simply bull-rushed Nelson 4-5 yards backward and finished the play. Even though Nelson has taken a step back in 2022, I still think he is the stoutest pass protector against the bull rush in the league. Lawrence tossed him around. Williams added 2 tackles and 2 pressures.

-The trio of rotational linemen, Ryder Anderson-Justin Ellis-Henry Mondeaux, seems to be set in stone. Expectation for these guys is not high, but I will reiterate the importance of Lawrence and Williams being on the field for 85+ snaps in the playoffs. The other guys are solid space eaters, but not much else. After making a few plays in the backfield in consecutive weeks, the undrafted rookie Anderson was completely ineffective and moved off his point easily.


-Nice bounce back game for Jaylon Smith. Someone must have gotten into his ear about attacking his gaps downhill faster. He led the team with 9 tackles and added 2 pressures. He missed 1 tackle. Rookie Micah McFadden added 4 tackles, one of which was on special teams. He dropped back into coverage just 6 times, the lowest number we have seen since Week 8 at Seattle. Even though NYG cannot control that fully, it is a smart move to keep him out of that role as much as possible.

-Landon Collins, you’re up. He dropped into coverage 20 times and saw 30+ snaps for the second week in a row. He contributed 4 tackles and the biggest play of the game. He intercepted a Nick Foles pass in the second quarter just five plays after NYG went up 14-3. The play itself was impressive, but the timing is what put this game out of reach for IND. Sure, it was still early and “you never know.” But I thought this game was sealed after this play against a team that hasn’t won since November 13 and has scored over 21 offensive points just one time since October 16. Collins is another in-season find who deserves a ton of credit. His role in this defense is ideal and I’ll tell you what, this guy can still move. There is still some high-risk / high reward to him, but that sums up the defense as a whole. Collins is going to be a very important player against whomever NYG plays in two weeks.


-Darnay Holmes now ranks second in NFL in penalties. He was flagged for a hold on a 3rd-down stop in the first quarter. These are the kinds of plays that overshadow the fact that he is a solid player. He added 3 tackles and 1 TFL. He did a great job at limiting yards after the catch. He is one of the top pure athletes on this defense. But teams know in high-leverage situations, he is the one to attack. He can be a maddening player to work with but then again, there isn’t much to do about it. Nobody behind him brings the talent to the table he does.

-Fabian Moreau and Nick McCloud continued to fill most of the meaningful snaps on the outside. Moreau allowed a touchdown after losing his balance and falling to the ground. It was his third touchdown allowed over the last 5 games. He has been given, by far, the most difficult coverage assignments on this team. While he won’t ever be mistaken for Champ Bailey, I like what his coverage looks like from the All-22. Not the most athletic cover man, but he anticipates and knows what’s often coming. I like that about him.

-Nick McCloud added 2 tackles, some physical play, and a pass break up. Another guy who is simply showing great anticipation in coverage. Zyon Gilbert saw some action late in mop up duty. He is still learning route combos and footwork techniques. Not much to report here, though. Cor’Dale Flott played a lot (35 snaps) but was not targeted and didn’t make any plays against the run. Quiet day, but not a bad day.


-Xavier McKinney was a surprise activation for this game. He badly injured his hand during the bye week in early November and hasn’t played since. He played 83% of the snaps and because of the nature of his injury and recovery, I believe it is important to get him on the field as much as possible including next week against PHI. Get the rust out. He added 7 tackles and a pass break-up. He did get beat early on a jump ball against Paris Campbell. Overall, he was in the right position, moved well, and tackled well. The defense is better with him on the field.

-Julian Love finished with 4 tackles and 1 missed tackle. Otherwise, uneventful game for him, but he did cover well deep. His alignments have been all over the place and it is a valuable weapon for the defense. Getting McKinney back and up to speed should make that even more unpredictable for the opposing offense.

-Tony Jefferson and Jason Pinnock saw most of their playing time late in the game when it was out of reach.


-K Graham Gano: 1/1 (Made 36)
-P Jamie Gillan: 1 punt / 47 yards – 27 net


-QB Daniel Jones, WR Richie James, LB Landon Collins


-WR Darius Slayton, CB Darnay Holmes, EDGE Oshane Ximines


1. The team I was most wrong about when looking at my preseason predictions? The Colts. The team I was probably second or third most wrong about? The Giants. I said IND would get to 13 wins, NYG would finish at 6 wins. Man, I could not have been more wrong. What happened here with IND? I don’t blame the coaching (Reich is going to get hired again). The former general manager did a fine job with his draft picks. But how they handled quarterback once Andrew Luck surprisingly retired could not have been worse. Philip Rivers in his final year. A trade for Carson Wentz. A trade for Matt Ryan. A 1st-round pick, two 3rd-round picks, and just under $90 million over the course of three seasons was the overall price for what IND spent at the position. A major mishandle of the most important position in the game. While we can point to a few different components as well, this was the downfall of IND. They will be picking top 7 this April and it is time they go that route for their signal caller.

2. I am working on a Free Agent List to put out there in February. It is for use wider than just NYG followers, but if I have time, I will create a custom portion of it for you guys like how I do the draft prospects. Two of the top 20 guys play for IND and positions NYG will be looking at. In 2019, I had Bobby Okereke as a borderline 1st-2nd rounder (he was drafted toward the end of round 3). He has been a consistent run defender with speed and range, but there are questions about him in coverage. I’m not so sure NYG will be pursuing a high-priced linebacker, but if they do want to throw some money into the ring, he would be a nice option considering what Martindale wants from that spot. The other is a receiver who did not play because of a concussion. Ashton Dulin was the guy I wanted NYG to use a 7th round pick on in 2019. He started off as a key gunner on special teams but has been making plays in limited looks in the passing game his entire career. 6’1/215 with plus size and speed, Dulin will come with a cheap price tag and give the team a credible deep threat they lack. Think Darius Slayton but more physical, versatile, and with better hands. Keep an eye out for those two.

3. Who ends up coaching IND? I’m sure they will make the rounds in interviews. The hottest name is going to be Sean Payton but remember, you need to trade for him if you want him on the sidelines in 2023. I think they’re opening the door and wallet for another big name. Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. Bruce Feldman, a journalist I know and trust fully, is fairly confident he will come back to the NFL for the right job. I only see Harbaugh coming back for a job to a historic franchise. IND fits that bill and Jim played for them in the 1990s. My one question is whether or not he wants to be a part of the rebuild for a team. The Niners had a solid core of talent in 2011 when Harbaugh went there and they had a quarterback (Alex Smith). Does Harbaugh want a higher starting point? Or would he want to pick his own new quarterback (Will Levis?) to mold and develop?


1. It looks like NYG will play MIN again in the opening round of the playoffs. Despite it being a road game, it is the best possible match-up for them. We will get more into that next week, but this lined up very well. There is a scenario where they end up going to SF, but that will require ARI winning a game against the Niners. I don’t see it. They’re on quarterback number four and they’re shutting some of their players down already. By the way, MIN just lost their top offensive lineman, right tackle Brian O’Neill, to a calf injury. They are already without starting center Garrett Bradbury (although he may back for playoffs). We saw this is a very beatable team and remember, they are -19 in point differential right now. That ranks 20th in the NFL. NYG is flat in differential (0), which ranks 14th.

2. How should NYG approach resting players in week 18 against PHI? It is ironic that PHI needs to play everyone to ensure they win and gain the bye + Home Field advantage while NYG cannot gain or lose anything with a win or loss. While I am a firm believer in keeping guys on routines and continuing the momentum-build, there are a few players I would like to see in sweatpants next Sunday. Anyone questionable or with a list of nagging injuries, you’re out. And if there are inactive spots left to use, I put the key players who are likely in for a huge workload in the playoffs on the sideline. Barkley, Lawrence, Ojulari, and Williams should be kept off of the field. Then, I would limit the snaps of guys where the depth just isn’t there. Hodgins, James, Bellinger, Thomas, and most importantly Jones. Let this be a high-snap game for the likes of Ryder Anderson, Tomon Fox, Henry Mondeaux, Justin Ellis, Oshane Ximines, Tyrod Taylor, Kenny Golladay, Nick Vannett, Matt Peart, and Dane Belton.

3. What do you do with Adoree’ Jackson if he is ready to play? Sounds like he was close this past week to getting on the field. Is he experienced enough to simply just be kept on the sidelines and throw him back into the fire against MIN? He is vital to the gameplan against that passing game. I feel Xavier McKinney needs more snaps to get the feel back and I am less concerned with re-injury / soft tissue with him. This is a tough call, but I think we should see Jackson on the field (if fully ready) for 15-20 snaps. Let him get a feel. Let him make a hit or two. Let the confidence build. But let’s maybe keep him away from returning punts this time!

Dec 272022
Isaiah Hodgins, New York Giants (December 24, 2022)

Isaiah Hodgins – © USA TODAY Sports


-Daniel Jones: 30/42 – 334 yards / 1 TD – 1 INT / 92.8 RAT

Jones added 34 yards on the ground and a successful two-point conversion attempt in a do-or-die situation in the fourth quarter, down two points. From a big picture perspective, this was the best I have seen Jones play all year. The 42 attempts were tied for the fourth-most of his career, second-most of the season. He had a stretch where he completed 22-of-24 passes. He gained a season-high 17 first downs via the air and added two more on the ground. On paper, this was a very good game by Jones. When I took a deeper look, I came away with the same impression.

Jones’ movement in the pocket was brilliant. His clock was spot on, his footwork while keeping his eyes downfield was clean, accuracy was a plus, and decision making was near-perfect. The one blemish was, of course, the fourth-quarter interception on the drive following MIN’s go-ahead touchdown. The ball was intercepted in the red zone, and it was a misplaced ball. Jones had two other bad throws. Nobody can demand perfection out of him, but when you see his stat line and add in the fact Saquon Barkley had another strong day, settling on just 20 points is a loss for the offense overall. While there were other issues stemming from the line, the Bellinger fumble, and the drop by Richie James, the interception was a big-time miss in a big-time situation. He also fumbled earlier in the game (did not result in a turnover) where his ball security technique was the main culprit. This game causes more confliction. For almost the entire game I was ready to say this was the best we have seen out of Jones all year when breaking all elements down. Then, the ill-timed interception. I see vast improvement across multiple components to the position, but once again he left me wanting more.


-Saquon Barkley: 14 att – 84 yards – 1 TD / 8 rec – 49 yards

Another explosive game by Barkley. Elite movement across multiple forms. One of his best yard-after-contact games of the year and a clutch touchdown that stemmed from good vision and aggression. Barkley is trusting the play designs and I cannot stress enough how big of a difference that is. Even the runs that end up not being there, the 1-3 yard gains make such a difference over the 1-3 yard losses in an offense that is working with such a small margin. 26 touches for #26 is right where this team needs to be down the stretch, at least. One thing I want to see more is him getting the ball on screens or splitting him out wide and moving him on cross-routes.

-Matt Breida and Gary Brightwell barely saw the field. Breida gained 9 yards on 2 carries and Brightwell lost a yard on his lone touch. The 91% snap share that Barkley had in this game was the most we have seen since Week 4. All chips are being used now and there is no more pacing the race. I expect to see this again against IND.


-Isaiah Hodgins: 8 rec / 89 yards / 1 TD

Hodgins came up with several underneath receptions that displayed his ideal blend of quality route-running and contact-strength. He then added the best catch we have seen all year out of a NYG receiver up the sideline for 29 yards. When you want to see if a receiver is capable of extending himself to the limit while moving at his top rate of speed, this is the kind of tape you use as the barometer. Hodgins has never been and will never be a deep threat. He simply is not fast enough. But the ball skills are there in every sense of the term. Hands, concentration, timing, and coordination. He is playing his way into a 2023 roster spot and has elevated the entire passing game. What a good find!

-Richie James, a week after I discussed how reliable his hands have been this season (top 10 in NFL), had one of the biggest gaffes of the game. A third-down drop where no defender was near him on a simple, short, slant route and pass. He did catch 8 balls for a team-high 90 yards including a season-high 33 yarder. I was curious how he would respond following the big drop. He dropped another ball two drives later. These are the facts that will come up when the decision makers decide his fate with NYG in a few months, especially considering he is a slot-only target.

-Darius Slayton had a drop early (a difficult catch, I will say) but responded with a couple of big plays later on. He had 4 catches for 79 yards, continuing to be the team’s top playmaker at the position. On a scaled version, this receiver room is put together in a balanced manner. Slayton is the big play guy, James is the slot, and Hodgins is the possession/underneath safety blanket. If this passing game is going to stay at the level we saw in this game, Slayton needs to continue his solid play. 478 yards / 28 catches (17.1 per, way above his career average) since Week 10. Just one touchdown over that span and just two on the year. I think we are right on the brink of seeing a big score on a big play here. He is 41 yards away from a career-high for a single season.


-Daniel Bellinger caught both of his targets and they totaled 27 yards. The glaring issue was the fumble in the red zone at the start of the second quarter that would have resulted in a first down had he held onto it. While any turnover hurts, this one had a little extra bite to it. Like Jones, NYG was heading toward a score and this mistake took the wind out of the sails. Bellinger continues his steady performance as a blocker. That is not necessarily a complement as I am still seeing too many losses. But he has not regressed, and he is showing enough quality there to maintain the positive long-term outlook I have on him.

-Nick Vannett saw just five snaps as NYG spent almost the entire game in 11 personnel (3 WR + 1 RB + 1 TE).


-The MIN pass rush is one of the best seven in football over the last 5-6 weeks. As Danielle Hunter heats up (I think he is a top 5 edge defender when healthy), the group overall is brought to an even higher level. Hunter got the best out of Evan Neal for most of the game. The rookie right tackle allowed 4 pressures and 1.5 sacks. The half-sack was hard to peg on him because of the movement in the pocket. The lone-sack and a couple of his pressures were almost as bad as you are going to find when it comes to one-on-one pass rushing. I try not to compare him to Andrew Thomas too much, but I know some have asked about looking at Neal’s rookie year and putting it next to Thomas’ rookie year. To me, they both struggled, but it isn’t close. Thomas had more hand-placement and timing issues. Neal’s footwork is a complete mess, his balance isn’t getting any better, and I don’t see the “learn from mistakes” progress. It is early and nobody can write him off or bring up the “move to OG” talk yet. But in relation to NYG and their 2022 season, his play is mightily hurting this passing game. His saving grace is the above-average run blocking he provides. All in-line roles have been quality. I still see issues in space, though.

-Andrew Thomas allowed a pressure that led to an eventual sack and then a half-sack himself. Safe to say his play has fallen off over the past month. Still a very good left tackle in a league that does not have many of them but no, not an All-Pro. Not yet.

-Mark Glowinski allowed two pressures and a TFL to former NYG second rounder Dalvin Tomlinson. That is a guy I miss seeing in blue, but it was likely the right call to let him walk. Anyway, Glowinski played better after a rough start but the lack of explosion off the ball prevents him from winning at the point- of-attack when lined up across from a strong and fast defender. If he can get some space to build up his movement and power, he does well. We saw that on the combo blocks and then when he peeled off to the second level. He had a couple key blocks on big runs.

-Ben Bredeson and Nick Gates continue to split snaps. Hard to tell who the better player is, to be honest. Bredeson got walked back by the bull rush a couple times, but he does a better job of staying on his man. Gates has been struggling there a bit. Bredeson did allow a sack and a pressure. Gates was flagged for a huge false start on 2nd-and-6, which killed the drive. He was also flagged for a hold but upon second look, I believe the ref got the wrong number. It was center Jon Feliciano. The center played a poor game. Three pressures from a center are too many. MIN went with a stunt-heavy approach and his tracking + body control was all over the place. That said, like Glowinski, he came up with a couple key blocks in the running game including Barkley’s touchdown.


-Azeez Ojulari went down again with an injury. He had a sack in the first half, and they could have used him in those big moments of the second half. The lower body injuries with this kid are piling up and it does concern me. Rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux, coming off NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors, had 2 pressures and 6 tackles. Another good pursuit-game for him but he did get caught out of position on the screen pass to Justin Jefferson that set up MIN for the game-winning field goal. Over-committing is the glaring issue in his game right now.

-Jihad Ward had 4 tackles, 2 pressures, and a pass break up. Solid game for him as they kept him out of space-situations for nearly the entire game. Oshane Ximines saw his playing time tick up in the second half after the Ojulari injury, but he did not impact the game much. He was almost in on a sack, but Leonard Williams got there first a second before.


-Dexter Lawrence returned to his dominant ways despite playing just 75% of the snaps. Three straight weeks he is at that percentage or lower. He led the team with 5 pressures, one of which caused a sack. Lawrence is also showing outstanding awareness against middle screens. He sniffed two of them out and immediately broke on the play. Amazing to see a player this big move this fast.

-Leonard Williams aggravated a neck/shoulder injury on a missed tackle in the third quarter. He was having a disruptive game up until then with 4 tackles, 1 sack, a half-TFL, and 1 pressure. This defense is going to be dependent on this front four taking over against the porous IND offensive line next week. The question will be, if he plays, how much do you play him? 50% of the snaps getting the most out of him? Or 80+% of the snaps and risk injury in addition to a scaled back version of him. Tough call.

-Rookie Ryder Anderson can help answer the question. He had 2 tackles and a half-TFL. This marks the third-straight week the undrafted free agent has made a play behind the line of scrimmage. While he still plays like a weak link against the power-run game, it is an encouraging sign to see him make plays like this.

-Justin Ellis and Henry Mondeaux did not see the field much, and when they did, they weren’t very effective.


-MIN went pass-heavy on offense, but the inside running game gashed the NYG defense a few times. While I am not in the meeting rooms, these big running plays appear to be on the shoulders of linebackers Micah McFadden and Jaylon Smith. They are dancing with the blockers 4-5 yards from the line of scrimmage and a back like Dalvin Cook can toy with those creases all day. They did combine for 18 tackles, and both made plays at or behind the line of scrimmage. It was not a complete washout for them, but quality running games are going to eat these two up. In coverage, McFadden was abused on the first T.J. Hockenson touchdown. He simply cannot be relied on in space when dropping back. No feel, no length, no downfield speed.

-Landon Collins is becoming a more consistent presence on the defense. He had 4 tackles, 1 sack, and a third down pass break up as he played more than 25 snaps for the second week in a row. There are issues that come from him playing more and more, but I do think he is the lesser of two evils when looking at him and McFadden.


-Justin Jefferson is the best wide receiver in football. It is hard to look down on Fabian Moreau for getting torched by him, but it is the truth. You can see these two are not even in the same class when it comes to movement traits. He allowed almost all of the 10 targets thrown his way to be completed and was penalized for pass interference on a play where he intercepted a pass at the end of the second half.

-Cor’Dale Flott is improving every week. This is a good sign and exactly what many were hopeful for down the stretch of his rookie season. His 41 snaps tied a career high, and he added 2 tackles along with a pass break-up. That break-up was originally ruled an interception, but after reviewing it was clear the ball hit the ground. His movement traits are a step ahead of everyone else in this corner group.

-Nick McCloud and Darnay Holmes both walk away with positive grades for different reasons. McCloud’s was more coverage-based. While Adam Thielen has lost a step, McCloud blanketed him for most of the game. Excellent anticipation and feel. Holmes was beat multiple times, but his physical play made a difference in key moments down the stretch. Late in the game, he had a high-level third-down tackle and then a fourth-down pass break up on the next play. This was in the fourth quarter right before the NYG drive where Richie James dropped the third-down conversion pass, but NYG still put up three points to pull within one. As I said last week, teams are attacking him in key moments. The success rate overall is still low, but Holmes has the play-making potential, and he remains aggressive. That will end up making a positive difference at times.


-Julian Love and Jason Pinnock both played every snap. Both played a solid game, but between the two they did not make any game-changing plays. The defense could have used something here. Tall ask, I know. But in the league right now, we are seeing safeties make outcome-altering, or at least momentum-altering, plays at some point. While these two are more-than solid, that will need to be the next step for both. We need to see turnovers and/or plays behind the line of scrimmage at some point. Love allowed a touchdown on a play where tight end T.J. Hockenson made a catch that could not be defended. A brilliant play by him. That play also shows something you will hear me talk about often come draft time. Length matters, a lot. If his radius was just another 2-3 inches, I bet that pass is broken up. But he stands under 5’11” and his arms are under 32”. That brings us to 3 inches below average for league safeties when it comes to overall reach.

-Dane Belton played just one snap and Tony Jefferson had 1 tackle and 1 miss.


-K Graham Gano: 3/3 (Made 44, 44, 55)
-P Jamie Gillian: 3 punts / 43.0 avg; 30.5 net (1 punt blocked)


-WR Isaiah Hodgins, DT Dexter Lawrence, K Graham Gano


-LB Micah McFadden, OT Evan Neal, TE Daniel Bellinger


(1) MIN is now 11-0 in one-score games. There are two ways of looking at this. One, they aren’t head-and-shoulders above most teams they play against. They’re just +5 points in scoring differential. For comparison sake, the other first place teams in the league are: +157, +85, +22, +`106, +137, -38 (TB), and +145. Two, it means they are battle-tested in tight situations. They have more experience in tight-margin contests. And I do believe it helps in the playoffs. What is the conclusion here? This team is very beatable if NYG cross paths with them again. Very.

(2) Does anyone see how the MIN template relates to NYG? Especially on offense. A highly-paid quarterback who nobody is going to mistake for a top tier guy, but he is “good enough.” A high-quality running back who they locked into a long-term deal. Multiple first round picks along the offensive line. What is next for NYG if you are viewing this as the route to go? Drafting a first-round wide receiver (remember Jefferson was a #22 overall pick), quality depth behind him (veterans and picks), and constant day 1-2 draft picks used on the line. MIN’s entire offensive line is homegrown. They’re all 1st or 2nd rounders. And they’ve all been taken in the past five drafts.

(3) In the same breath, all of those resources put into the offense caused a lack of resources put into the defensive backfield. They’re overly reliant on Patrick Peterson and mid-to-late round picks in the secondary. If/when this team runs into a quality passing attack, it will do them in. It is not a coincidence the NYG passing game looked good against them.


(1) Win and in. NYG is right where a lot of teams want to be. Fortunately because of losses by WAS, DET, and SEA, they are in the best possible spot heading into a match-up against IND. I watched every snap of the IND game last night against LAC and I don’t think there are any teams in the NFL worse than IND. Things could not be lined up better for their final home game of the year. They have not won there since November 13 (vs HOU). Get the crowd in it, play clean football, and win the damn game. All hands on desk, you can rest Week 18. No questions asked. No excuses allowed.

(2) Watching Justin Jefferson run routes, track the ball, and create after the catch is such a bar setter. He is the top WR in football when looking at the combination of his traits. It also shows how far the gap is between what NYG has at corner and what exists out there at receiver. We will have plenty of time to discuss this once the season is over, but trying to up the quality at corner is a must-get for this team. Whether you believe in Adoree’ Jackson or not is irrelevant. NYG needs such a boost in quality at corner. Trust me, I know, it is a hard position to accurately project. That said, the 2022 rookie class at corner is having an enormous impact on the league right now.

(3) What does NYG have a tight end? I may have anticipated too much from Daniel Bellinger when he came back from the eye injury. At the end of the day, he is a rookie fourth-rounder who I knew would not provide above-average play right away. That is a tall ask for someone at that position. Because of how little depth they had at tight end when he went down, I simply thought we would see more. The blocking has been below average, but he did add an element to the passing game prior to the injury. We haven’t seen it come back yet. It is a subtle but important element to the offense.

Dec 202022
Azeez Ojulari, New York Giants (December 18, 2022)

Azeez Ojulari – © USA TODAY Sports


-Daniel Jones: 21/32 – 160 yards / 0 TD – 0 INT / 77.6 RAT

Jones added 35 yards on 10 carries. He led the NYG offense to 13 points and one touchdown. It was far from an impressive group-performance on tape, but the key here is what he did when it mattered most. Jones made several key plays in big moments that led to the win. NYG’s best drive of the year took place in the second quarter. They were up 7-3 and started on their own three-yard line. 18 plays and 97 yards later, Barkley scored a touchdown to give them a commanding 11-point lead which they carried into halftime. On this drive alone, Jones went 10/12 for 91 yards. Almost half of his completions and over 55% of his yards from the game took place here. He came up with a big-time throw on 3rd-and-9 and then another one on 4th-and-9. Both of which went to Richie James.

The other major positive in this game was the fact Jones did not turn the ball over. In a game like this, the turnover battle means as much as any component to the game. This is the ninth game Jones has not turned it over. This was the major red flag in Jones’ game early on, but undoubtedly the biggest improvement we have seen out of him. It is a good sign to see the player show he can make objective improvements that are vital to team success. While I would not say Jones put the team on his shoulders and led them through the fire, this was more of what I wanted to see. I care less about touchdowns and yards per attempt (5 yards per is VERY low) because of the handicap he is playing with at receiver. I do care about making the big throws in big moments. I do care about him protecting the ball. I do care about him creating opportunities on his own. Jones did all of the above. The quickness in getting the ball out made all the difference and it is amazing how much better the result is when he does so. It took him an average of 2.55 seconds to throw. It was the best of the year and I believe there is a correlation between that time and the offensive efficiency. The quality pass protection helped a lot, too.


-Saquon Barkley: 18 att – 87 yards – 1 TD / 5 rec – 33 yards

Now this is what we all want and what NYG needs out of Barkley. The funny part is, I knew after his first carry that we were going to be watching the best version of him. It was immediate energy. It was a lack of hesitation. It was the immediate acceleration and sharp cuts. Barkley did not blow the box score up, but on a day where the team gained 288 net yards, his 120 total were a big deal. The true value of having an elite back like this shows up in the second half. What were his second half numbers? 11 att / 74 yards – 2 rec / 14 yards. Jones carried NYG on the game’s most important drive in the second quarter, as noted above. It was Barkley that took it over on the second most important drive of the game which took place in the fourth quarter. With a five-point lead and 6:06 left, WAS had all three timeouts remaining. This is where having the elite back is near vital. Barkley (and the NYG offensive line) responded with four straight running plays. Gains of 12, 15, and 14 yards began the drive. The runs were some of the best I have ever seen out of Barkley including his long highlight-reel touchdowns. He pressed the hole, made subtle adjustments, showed spin moves while moving at a full rate of speed, and he fell forward.

I will touch on this below, but the contrast between the best version of Barkley and the worst is enormous. Why is that? Can it actually be solved with a better group of blockers? Because I’ll tell you what. The NYG offensive line had one of their best games of the year in this game. If they play at this level week to week (with the same bodies or new additions), does Barkley become a guy gaining 5-6 yards per carry every week and playing the role of closer? Does that change the long-term outlook? Watching him in the fourth quarter is what makes many hold onto the hope of what #26 could be here. And it is real. It is not just a fantasy. And the number one factor why it may be overlooked by most.

-Matt Breida added 12 total yards (6 rushing / 6 receiving). Not a major impact but he brought a physical brand to the game.


-Richie James continues to be one of the key players to this team who is stepping up when it matters. This time it was in a winning effort. He ended the game with 4 rec / 42 yards and returned two punts for 23 and 9 yards. Once again, we are not talking about taking over the box score, but he deserves the credit for shining in big moments. He caught all but one target. Three of his catches went for a first down. He was the recipient on 3rd-and-9 and 4th-and-9 conversions. He added 19 yards after the catch.

There are 51 NFL receivers who have caught 42 passes this season. James is 1 of 10 who have dropped 1 or zero balls. As I said last week, he is the one guy who I trust the most to get himself open and now he is proving he can be the go-to guy on conversion attempts.

-Isaiah Hodgins continues to impress and build his rapport with Jones. Four targets, four catches. The classic possession receiver is a tough and hard-nosed dude with plus-route running ability. That works in this league. The big play potential may not be there, but he is going to help move the chains. He’s done so 9 times over the last three games and Jones passer rating is 133.3 when throwing his way.

-Darius Slayton had 5 catches for 23 yards. He did not get any real looks downfield. NYG tried to kill the WAS pass defense with a thousand paper cuts. I would have liked to see one or two deep balls to Slayton. But the game plan was evidently short, quick passes and feeding Barkley.


-Daniel Bellinger played a career-high 98% of the snaps while Nick Vannett and Chris Myarick only saw 16% and 10%, respectively. Bellinger was targeted 3 times, bringing in just 1 of them for 4 yards. He dropped a ball at the end of the third quarter that was a result of him simply not getting his head around fast enough. He has good, strong hands but the timing was simply off by a second there. Vannett’s catch went for 15 yards.

The group did a nice job on the edge in the running game. NYG’s run-success was between the tackles so these guys did not factor much, but they both had successful wham blocks on successful plays.


-Andrew Thomas allowed just one pressure on a play where the rusher used an inside move at the same time Jones had to step up into the pocket. Otherwise, a very good pass blocking game for the left tackle. But I thought he left some on the table in the running game. There was a little too much upper-lean to his game. Evan Neal got off to a rough start, but I thought he stabilized as the game went on. He also performed well in key spots. That said, he allowed 3 pressures and was flagged for a false start. Being matched up against Montez Sweat is no small task (second in NFL In QB hits) and he allowed Sweat to hit Jones just once without much help. He was also a force in the running game.

-Nick Gates (21 snaps) and Ben Bredeson (42 snaps) split time at left guard. They were both excellent. This was Bredeson’s first action since Week 7 in Jacksonville. I would love to know the plan here because I have a strong opinion that Bredeson at guard and Gates at center would give this offense their best line. I don’t think it will sway it too much, though. And one can make the case that the rotation will help keep these guys fresh. It appeared to help in the fourth quarter in this game, when the OL really took over.

-Nice work by Mark Glowinski. Two weeks ago, in his first matchup against WAS and Daron Payne, he ended up on the “Dud” list. This is one of the values to an experienced player who shows the blue-collar style of play at the absence of pure ability. Get beat, study film, go to a different part of the tool box, and try again. It worked. He threw multiple key blocks on their successful running plays and allowed just one pressure. Center Jon Feliciano allowed a TFL (5 yards) and was flagged for holding. He was excellent in pass protection when it came to help and staying home on stunts.


-NYG does not win this game without Kayvon Thibodeaux. Plain and simple. You draft edge defenders high with the expectation they take games over. Not every week, not even every other week. But multiple times throughout the year they simply take over. 12 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 pressure, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 touchdown. The grand slam (sack + FF + FR + TD) changed the game. It was one of the most athletic plays I have seen league-wide this year from a pass rusher. Thibodeaux, like Barkley, is playing with an increased sense of speed and twitch. It is turning into power, he is playing with great pad level, and opposing blockers are having a really hard time with it. The icing on the cake is the hustle he is showing. This dude emptied the tank, he gave the team everything he had. We saw him hustling downfield over and over. When the best players are the hardest working players, it is amazing what happens to the culture.

The one negative on his sheet will be the multiple times he got beat on the edge as a run defender. Like Wink Martindale, there is a wide spectrum of results with the way he plays the run. We saw the good (making plays behind line of scrimmage), but there were four separate times where he either got sucked in by a fake or took the wrong angle against the blocker. And they all resulted in big gains. Coaches will see that on tape.

-Azeez Ojulari added 4 tackles, 2 pressures, a half-sack, and a half-TFL. Solid, disruptive game and his mere presence on the other side has helped Thibodeaux put together a strong consecutive set of games. I like how he seems to increase his impact in the second half of games.

-Jihad Ward played a season-low 26 snaps and was not involved in much action. The lack of speed in pursuit almost allowed Taylor Heinicke to get into the end zone on the final drive but Thibodeaux saved the day. Tomon Fox and Oshane Ximines saw a little bit of playing time and did not make an impact. In games like this, it really comes down to the main two guys on the outside.


-Leonard Williams was back. While he didn’t play his best football, his presence is a difference maker. Having the front four of Williams-Lawrence-Ojulari-Thibodeaux is so crucial. It is a quartet that complements each other so well. Williams recovered a fumble and added a pressure in the fourth quarter. He stepped up when it mattered most.

-Dexter Lawrence continued his quality play. It was the second straight week we saw him under 75% of the defensive snaps, but he still ended with 3 tackles, a half-TFL, 3 pressures, and a forced fumble that NYG recovered. Like Williams, I thought his best football was played in the biggest moments.

-Henry Mondeaux, Justin Ellis, and undrafted rookie Ryder Anderson all played 12 snaps each. Anderson made the standout play, a sack (second in as many weeks) and continues to show what I saw over summer. There is something this team can work with here. The ceiling is high and he has a game similar to a young Leonard Williams (scaled back of course). Mondeaux and Ellis were run plugs and not much more. The run defense issues have more to do with the second level, and these guys are doing a good job of eating blockers and holding their ground, but neither are getting off blocks and making any plays. I would like to see one or two from each.


-When it comes to quickly filling running lanes, creating less space to work with is key to a downhill, early-down rushing attack WAS uses. Jaylon Smith mightily struggled here in the first half when the WAS running game was really moving. He did pick it up in the second half and he had 9 tackles, but he also allowed 3 catches on 3 targets for 35 yards. This has become a focal point to pick on by opposing offenses.

-Rookie Micah McFadden was better at getting into the inside running lanes quickly, but the lack of lateral range caught up to him. A good run defense needs that backside pursuit to be there, and I am not sure he has it. Landon Collins saw some real playing time in the second half and made two impressive tackles at the line of scrimmage. I like what Collins brings to the table and I think he is going to be a big part of the defense moving forward.


-Fabian Moreau was put on shadow-duty against Terry McLaurin once again. It resulted in 5 catches for 66 yards on 5 targets. The help over the top on vertical routes from Julian Love was a factor in McLaurin never having the explosive play.

-Cor’Dale Flott was tested multiple times downfield. While he did not break up anything up, I liked the movement traits once again. He needs to eventually progress with the ball skills and making plays, but the ability to play sticky is most important. He has that down on multiple levels of the route tree. There are major concerns with him as an outside run defender, however. He is getting overmatched physically.

-Nick McCloud and Darnay Holmes were the weak points of the defense in the secondary. McCloud allowed a touchdown and dropped an interception. While it goes down as a pass breakup, that is a play that simply needs to be made. While I am careful to put him down at all considering he was added via waivers and has exceeded expectations, I cannot look past the blown opportunity at game-changing plays. Holmes was penalized for the 8th time this year, second most in the NFL. And he got away with a blatant pass interference on the final WAS offensive play of the game. On that same drive, he allowed a huge play in coverage. Defenses know who to pick on in big spots.


-I like what we are seeing on a week-to-week basis from Jason Pinnock. He has run away with the starting safety job from Dane Belton while McKinney is out. He had 5 tackles, a forced fumble, and 2 pass breakups in addition to an untouched pressure. Pinnock’s closing speed is such a factor on outside runs. He is also limiting yards after the catch with quick, sure tackling.

-Julian Love added 7 tackles and missed one, while Tony Jefferson provided extra physical play with 2 tackles himself. NYG has been getting torched in the front seven against the run, but these safeties have stopped the bleeding.


-K Graham Gano: 2/2 (Made 50, 50)
-P Jamie Gillan: 5 punts / 42.6 avg – 41.8 net


-EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, WR Richie James, K Graham Gano


-CB Darnay Holmes, OT Evan Neal, CB Nick McCloud


(1) As the broadcast did a nice job noting, this loss makes the playoff odds for WAS take a nosedive. While they’re not out of it, they pretty much have to win two of their last three to have a shot. They are playing at a motivated SF next week, a game I can’t see them winning. Then two home games against CLE and DAL. Their hope may need to be that DAL would be resting starters in that game. SEA has games against NYJ and LAR remaining. DET has games against CHI, CAR, and GB remaining.

(2) Brian Robinson’s story is one of my favorite of the year. Getting shot, coming back much sooner than expected, and then taking the number one job in the backfield all within months of each other tells us a lot about the character of the man. That and his running style are going to cause problems for the Giants for years. The ideal blend of power, aggression, and quick speed.

(3) During the broadcast, color commentator Chris Collinsworth noted how vital it is for a team to have that third receiver in the passing game. Not sure if he is thinking Curtis Samuel is a real number two guy or not (I don’t), but I think he is one short. A real passing game that strikes fear into a defense needs four targets. Without the amount of nickel and dime being played and how quickly pass rushers are disrupting the timing now, I think the number is four. Three of them need to be receivers, and the fourth can be a tight end or a running back. Goes to show how far away NYG currently is from that kind of potential and how long it can and will take.


(1) Why do we see a difference in movement traits with Barkley throughout the year? As I noted above, the first five steps of his first carry were all it took for me to note we were going to see the best version of him. Speed, burst, agility, stop and go. All of it. I did a quick look at games of his on grass in 2022 vs. games on turf. On grass, he averages 6 yards per touch and just 4 yards on turf (73 carries – 431 yards / 18 rec – 124 yards on grass and 196 carries – 739 yards / 29 rec – 170 yards on turf). All of this talk when it comes to the non-contact injuries on the turf could certainly be a block between Barkley and his ability. Something to think about and track.

(2) While we can all agree NYG is still early in the process of building a Super Bowl contending roster, I will say something about where they currently sit. This is the kind of team you get a little scared to play against in the playoffs. They have the tools to be very competitive if/when they get a lead. A running game that is capable (albeit inconsistent) of taking over late in games. A pass rush that now has four credible weapons if they stay healthy. There is more to it than that, I know. But those two pieces, when clicking, can do a ton of damage in cold weather games.

(3) Yes, when it comes to projected odds, NYG has a 90+% chance of making the playoffs. In my opinion, that means next to nothing. They need to get at least another win. 9 is the number you feel good about and they’re simply not there yet. MIN is a tough matchup. PHI Week 18 could still be a high-effort game for the Eagles because of home field advantage. And yes, the IND game looks easy on paper, but I still don’t think NYG is the kind of team that can look past anyone in that kind of situation. This win in WAS had some deeper meaning than just the micro-level result. I can’t help but continue to think down the road here and how much this game against MIN can mean for the culture-build. Emotional wins like this, league-wide, tend to lead to a letdown. I want to see the same effort against the Vikes. That will mean something beyond the result.

Dec 142022
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (December 11, 2022)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports


-Daniel Jones: 18/27 – 169 yards / 1 TD – 0 INT / 96.1 RAT

Jones added 26 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Brian Daboll pulled him in the fourth quarter as the game simply got out of reach and he was taking so many hits. Jones saw the typical and expected amount of pressure and he was working against the typical number of mismatches all afternoon. He did not turn the ball over. He had an impressive string of passes in the second half. He made plays with his legs that most quarterbacks in the league did not. All of these were positives in a situation where everything about this matchup was simply lopsided in PHI’s favor.

The deeper part of my assessment is not as friendly. Jones had multiple opportunities to show progress in the area where he has come up short on multiple occasions. He did not come through. Besides the quick-fire, one-read throws, Jones struggled to work his eyes and hips to the open target. On 3rd-and-10 from midfield in the second quarter, Kafka called a crossing route concept. Darius Slayton going from left to right and Daniel Bellinger from right to left. They intersected right in the middle of the defense where linebacker T.J. Edwards was in coverage. Jones did not make the read, Edwards read Jones like a book, and the pass ended up being a near-interception by two different players. Meanwhile Slayton ends up wide-open for a potential first down. These are the plays that Jones needs to be making by now. They may not mean much to some, but they’re some of the most important make-or-break plays in NFL games week-to-week. You can’t have them all, but the good ones get most of them. Jones does not make half of them.

-Tyrod Taylor came in late for the final two drives. The first one ended in a lost fumble and the second one ended in a touchdown pass to Richie James. The highlight of that drive was a 32-yard run on 4th-and-15. There is not much to evaluate here, as he was playing behind the second-string offensive line and the game was nearly over.


-Saquon Barkley: 9 att – 28 yards / 2 rec – 20 yards

Barkley was close to not playing, as he suffered a neck injury that made him a game-time decision. His 20 snaps were by far a season low. This was the most overmatched I have seen NYG at the point-of-attack this year. Combine that with the early 21-0 deficit and Barkley’s injury, it seemed everything was set up for him to be a non-factor in this game. I think the low-snap count had more to do with the game situation than his injury. I fully expect him to be back to a normal snap count in their do-or-die match-up next week.

Since his 32-carry game against HOU, Barkley has run the ball 53 times for 152 yards and caught 13 passes for 64 yards over four games. That is an average of 13 carries / 38 yards and 3 catches / 16 yards per game. He is nursing shoulder and neck injuries. He is not hitting the hole hard; he is not getting through tackles. Barkley is breaking down over the course of the second half of the season for the second straight year, had an ACL injury that forced him to miss 13 games, one year after missing four games with an ankle injury. Economically, he is making less and less sense even though he is the most talented offensive player on the team.

-Gary Brightwell was the most impressive runner on the team with 23 yards on 5 carries and 18 yards on 2 catches. He had runs of 13 and 4 yards on his first two carries. Those carries and one in the fourth quarter were the hardest, most physical we saw a back run in this game. I think there is something in him that NYG can use more of. In limited playing time, he is averaging over 5 yards per carry and while we cannot overreact to that lone stat, NYG should be able to gravitate toward him a bit more. Matt Breida added 15 total yards and a drop.


-Richie James led the team across the board with 7 catches for 61 yards. He brought in a touchdown late despite taking a nasty hit to the head immediately afterward. Watching the All-22 made something blatantly obvious to me. James is on a different level among the other targets on this team when it comes to simply getting open. While it is a strength of his game, the margin between him and the others in separation is enormous. Easy to see why he is targeted more than the others and easy to see that is the one trait this receiver room needs to add in the offseason. I will touch on this below, but James was destroyed on blocking attempts near the line of scrimmage, and it had a bad impact on the running game.

-Isaiah Hodgins had 4 catches for 38 yards and a touchdown. Nice work by him on the score where he quickly recognized Jones in the scramble drill. He got and kept leverage on the PHI defender and used his body correctly to shield him off as the ball approached. Hodgins is a nice underneath threat, but the lack of long speed showed up early in the game when Jones took a deep shot to him. There is no final gear there to get over the top.

-Darius Slayton had just 2 catches but one went for a 37-yard gain, the biggest play of the day for NYG. He added his 6th drop of the year, the third straight season he has reached that number. Jones missed him open a couple times on what I think would have resulted in 10+ yard gains.


-Daniel Bellinger and Nick Vannett split the tight end snaps for the most part while Chris Myarick was on the field for just 4 plays. It was an uneventful day for the group. Bellinger caught 3 passes for 19 yards and Vannett brought 1 in for 9 yards. The PHI front is such a strong, stout group against tight ends on the edge. This was one match-up I knew would go against NYG and it certainly did. Neither are going to fare well in situations like that.


-This was a match-up nightmare for the NYG offensive line. Not just from a macro-perspective (PHI DL simply being better than NYG OL), but also from a micro-perspective. The holes in the games of the NYG line – player by player – were exploited greatly by the skillset of the individuals along the PHI defensive line.

-Andrew Thomas allowed a sack and was getting beat initially off the ball more than what we are used to seeing. Really though, it was a solid game minus the sack for Thomas. He showed good recovery tactics, his footwork looked lighter and faster, and he got push in the running game. Rookie Evan Neal, however, had maybe the worst game of his young career. He allowed 5 pressures and 2 sacks. Week after week, we are seeing him wind up on the ground over and over. You can’t block if you’re laying down on the ground. He is not bringing his feet with him when he moves laterally. Way too much reaching, way too much bending at the waist. His power is a difference maker, as seen with a few quality run blocks. But we only see this when his feet are in the right spot which, right now, is not often enough.

-Inside, Nick Gates allowed a TFL, a sack, and 2 pressures. He was beat off the ball by Milton Williams, one of the quicker DTs in the NFL, a few times and it was ugly. Gates biggest weapon, however, is the grit he shows in recovery mode. He plays through the whistle and plays with a lot of desire. That eventually makes a big difference. Gates also made a couple key blocks on bigger NYG gains.

-Mark Glowinski allowed a TFL and Jon Feliciano allowed a sack. Glowinski has looked completely overmatched for a couple straight weeks. I do not think taking him out will be in the cards, but his play has significantly declined. Having that kind of player next to Neal, a rookie who simply does not look ready, makes for some really tough sledding on the right side.


-Azeez Ojulari and Kayvon Thibodeaux played another strong game. Ojulari had 2 sacks and 4 tackles. This kid is an all-out hustler, all of the time. I love that about him, and it will create plays for the defense over time. Not all pass rushers keep their foot on the gas if they lose with their first and second moves. Ojulari has that T.J. Watt relentlessness to him that creates production. Thibodeaux did not fare well against the run, but he was disruptive again as a pass rusher. He had 3 pressures, one of which caused a sack, another caused a hold, and he could have been given credit for a half-sack on the one where Jalen Hurts was taken down near the goal line. The PHI tackles are top-notch players who play with tremendous power. Thibodeaux got under their pads and pushed the pocket well and also showed his outside burst. I am seeing more versatility out of his repertoire, and it is good to see him get stronger as the season goes on. Can’t say that for many players on this team.

-Jihad Ward did not play well as an edge setter. He was getting sucked inside by play fakes and his lack of speed/burst got exposed when the ball ended up going outside. He finished with just 1 tackle and did not break through as a pass rusher once.

-Tomon Fox and Oshane Ximines saw about a quarter of the snaps and neither showed up. No impact.


-Last week I spoke about the crazy amount of snaps Dexter Lawrence was seeing. With Leonard Williams out with a neck injury, I was intrigued to see what they were going to do with his workload. He played 72% of the snaps, his second lowest of the year and his lowest since Week 1. With the game out of hand the way it was, it was a good decision. We may see another 90+% day for him next Sunday. He finished with 1 tackle and 1 pressure, as he was doubled almost all afternoon.

-The trio of Ryder Anderson, Henry Mondeaux, and Justin Ellis played a significant number of snaps. Season highs for all three respectively, as a matter of fact. Anderson got off to a rough start, but I liked how he competed. He had 2 tackles and recorded his first career sack. Mondeaux and Ellis both finished with 1 tackle. They were simply overmatched and just could not beat blockers one-on-one. They lack the twitch, especially Ellis, to peel off their man and take out a ball carrier.


-Jaylon Smith tied for team-high 9 tackles, but it was a poor game by the veteran leader of the group. The PHI running game is a beautiful mix of scheme and execution. It is very tough to read and defend. Smith’s greatest weaknesses, anticipation and reaction time, were exposed in a big way. He is too slow to recognize, and the blockers got the angles on him. He was torched in the running game.

-Micah McFadden had 5 tackles and 1 TFL playing under half the snaps. I like the progress he is showing, and he continues to be a weapon between the tackles. Tae Crowder saw some action and missed a tackle and was owned by PHI center Jason Kelce on the Hurts rushing touchdown. Again, simply overmatched.


-The trio of Darnay Holmes, Fabian Moreau, and Nick McCloud got outclassed by the PHI passing game. While it was not a big day in the air because of how much the run game dominated, all three were beat in big moments. McCloud and Holmes were both beat for explosive touchdowns (20+ yards) and Moreau got flagged for illegal use of hands on a third-down stop. Another area where PHI is capable of just owning one-on-one matchups is at receiver. A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith are elite-level route runners. They can sell their double moves as well as anyone and both McCloud and Holmes are known for taking the bait. Those were easy wins in man coverage for PHI. I still think the biggest injury this team has suffered all year is Adoree’ Jackson. On a damn punt return.

One positive I see out of Holmes is the quick recognition of screen passes and underneath route concepts. When he is looking downhill at the action, he is at his best. Add in the aggressive nature and excellent play-strength for his size, he has some safety in him. I’ve thought of this before but never expanded much on it. While it is too late to make this kind of move for 2022, I will be curious to see if NYG or any team that eventually signs him would consider the move.

Cor’Dale Flott is showing quality coverage and foot speed. He is near the action and does not look overmatched in any kind of matchup despite the size shortcomings. That said, he is not forcing many incompletions. He is close, but I want to see him take that extra step toward actually breaking up a pass. There is still that slight hitch in his reaction to routes and it is forcing him just short of being in the right position at the catch point.

-Zyon Gilbert saw just 8 snaps but finished with a sack.


-Really solid efforts and performances from both Julian Love and Jason Pinnock. Because of the inability of the front seven and their run defense, both were given a ton of opportunities to make tackles. They combined for 18 (9 each) and didn’t miss a single one. Love strengthened his case for being considered the best tackling safety in the NFL and Pinnock’s play speed continues to improve. That tells me things are clicking mentally and when you see that with a lack of mistakes, good things are coming. He has put two solid games back-to-back now.

-Tony Jefferson was the third safety again. He made 3 tackles and added a pressure.


-K Graham Gano: 2/2 XP
-P Jamie Gillan: 6 Punts / 40.2 avg – 35.3 net


-EDGE Azeez Ojulari, S Jason Pinnock, WR Richie James


-OT Evan Neal, LB Jaylon Smith, EDGE Jihad Ward


(1) If I am taking one team to make the Super Bowl from the NFC, my answer is without hesitation the Eagles. This roster has been engineered so well by General Manager Howie Roseman, and the coaching staff has the players executing at such an elite level on both sides of the ball. I have seen All-22 tape of PHI 5 or 6 times this year and it is a true joy to watch. This is what top-shelf execution looks like on both sides of the ball. All angles, all situations, their timing and accuracy is precise. That along with the depth and fortunate injury situation has left them in the driver’s seat of this conference.

(2) Are there any lessons learned from how this roster was constructed that NYG can try to apply to their roster rebuild? I have a few. The top one being a dual threat quarterback who was not a first rounder. Remember that in a few months. The next one being a trade for a proven star receiver who became available at the right time. It was a pull-of-the-trigger that I think added the dynamic element to this offense that makes them truly elite, or at least capable of that level. Lastly, they add to their offensive / defensive lines every single year through the draft, free agency, and waivers. The depth they have and the value they’re paying for quality players in the trenches in the best in the NFL. Let’s hope Brandon Brown, the assistant general manager of the Giants from the Roseman tree, will bring in a similar approach and result.

(3) Haason Reddick is one of the best defensive players in the NFL. I mean that. If I had to create a list of the top 4 outside linebackers league wide, he is on it. I really wanted NYG to pursue him prior to signing a 1-year deal with CAR a couple years ago. Who knows where he would be now if they did, but they let him slip through the cracks. The size profile throws some people off but there is a player (maybe 2) in this upcoming draft class that reminds me a lot of Reddick. The size, speed, burst, and ability to move around a bit. This dude has always been a pure edge guy and the off-ball LB experiment did not work and almost pushed him out of the league. Now he is a potential All-Pro. Remember, always take what a guy does well and put him in that position. It is crazy how many NFL coaches do not do that with special talents.


(1) This game had a certain vibe to it. The same vibe NYG fans have gotten used to seeing in December. Complete domination on both sides of the ball. Getting toyed with by the opponent. A double-digit deficit before your first bathroom break-type vibe. Did we really get fooled that badly? Is NYG back in the cellar already? Injuries have piled up a bit but most of the nucleus to this roster is still out there. They have Barkley, they have their starting quarterback, they have most of their starting lines. And they were outclassed from start to finish. The more things change, the more they stay the same. This is what I and some others meant when we said this team is still far away from real contention.

(2) I have a serious concern with some of the run-game design. I am always hesitant to question play-calling and even more hesitant to question design. There is too much information I do not have access to. But I would love to get an answer why, three or four times, they had Richie James motion to the tight end’s spot behind the line of scrimmage (which brought another PHI defender into the box) and then ran a play right off of his shoulder. James got tossed out of the way like he was a fly, and the PHI defenders were in the backfield within a moment. Every time. And they kept calling this design over and over. It would be one thing if they did it with a receiver that had size (Hodgins?) – but they actually took the smallest player on the field and asked him to be a fullback/tight end hybrid. Watching the designs of these two running games was like watching the Lawrence Taylor getting blocked by a running back. A completely different league.

(3) The upcoming national spotlight game has a unique feel to it. While I am never in the camp where one game means so much more than every other, this match-up is close. They are up against one of the hottest teams in the NFL, on the road. They just played each other two weeks ago and WAS is coming off a bye. They’re getting healthier while NYG is losing more bodies. NYG has won just 1 game since the week before Halloween. Long term question marks surrounding the status of their QB and RB are creeping into more and more conversations because those decisions are right around the corner. They are still in playoff contention but make no mistake, they need to win this game. No excuses. No empathy pain. None of that. Win, or else. Perform, or else.

Dec 062022
Jihad Ward, New York Giants (December 4, 2022)

Jihad Ward – © USA TODAY Sports


Daniel Jones: 25/31 – 200 yards / 1 TD – 0 INT / 104.3 RAT

Jones also led the team in rushing with 71 yards on 12 carries. He lost a fumble in the first quarter. Besides a spike toward the end of the first half to stop the clock, he completed his first 16 passes and had two more taken off the board because of penalties. Jones’ first true incomplete pass came in the fourth quarter with 1:45 left. That one was a drop by Darius Slayton on what may have been considered a poorly thrown ball, but more than good enough for Slayton to come down with. Jones went 8/8 (and one more spike to stop the clock) for 64 yards in overtime.

Because of the conservative decision making by Brian Daboll, we do not know if Jones could have led this team to a win. Did he leave much out there? No, not really. Jones got what he could have out of this JV-caliber group of pass catchers. The biggest question surrounding him and his long-term outlook revolve around can he shoulder the entire offense in key moments? Can he do it? NYG could have used this game to help answer that question and they cowardly walked in the other direction. Starting off 16/16 (minus the spike) and starting 8/8 in overtime (minus the spike). Having a deep ball dropped by Slayton that, had he come down with it, could have led to a game-winning field goal. The quick decisions and play-making ability he created with his legs. After watching the All-22, Jones played a good game, even keeping the first quarter fumble in mind. The lack of confidence Daboll showed on the 4th-and-3 was unwarranted from my perspective and may be more telling than some want to think. They do not believe in him. How many head coaches who are confident in their quarterback make that decision? Almost NONE.


Saquon Barkley: 18 att – 63 yards – 1 TD / 5 rec – 18 yards

60 of Barkley’s rushing yards came in the first half. So yes, between the third quarter, fourth quarter, and overtime Barkley carried the ball 7 times for 3 yards. NYG had the lead from the 11:40 point in the third quarter until 1:53 left in the fourth quarter. They ran ten offensive plays over that span and Barkley ran the ball three times for -1 yard. This is where I feel there is yet another disconnect between what the team is and what they said they would be. They have the bell-cow back. They have the second half lead. They have a terrible passing game. And Barkley gets one yard on three carries while WAS works their way back to a tie? Part of this can be play-calling, but the other part is, at least in my eyes, a lack of trust in Barkley.

There is no denying he is failing to put his shoulder down, break tackles, and show some blue collar in his game. He took a pass in overtime, looked at a defender about to meet him just beyond the line of scrimmage, and used his 225+ frame and tree trunk legs to drive the defender back multiple yards. NYG picked up seven on the play. He is clearly capable of playing the power game. He clearly does not do so on a consistent basis. A 225+ pound back with elite movement traits is averaging 2.75 yards after contact per carry. That ranks 28th in the NFL among backs with over 100 carries. Behind the likes of Devin Singletary, Isaiah Pacheco, Raheem Mosert, D’Onta Foreman, Tyler Allgeier, and Khalil Herbert to name a few. Multiple things needed to be better when it comes to this running game, but it starts with #26.


-Darius Slayton remains WR1 on this team across the board. He had a team high 6 catches and 90 yards, including a 55-yard catch where he made a great play on the ball. As usual, however, Slayton had arguably the biggest whiff of the day. He dropped another deep ball with 1:40 left in the fourth quarter of a tie game that would have put NYG into near-field goal position. He mistimed his jump for the ball, increasing the difficulty of the actual catch. He lost it when he hit the ground. A true #1 threat in the passing game who brings a consistent skill set to the table is by far the biggest need on this roster.

-Isaiah Hodgins has my attention and the attention of many others as well. He caught 5 passes for 44 yards including a touchdown. The two standout traits in his game that can make him stick here are the toughness after the catch and reliable route tempo. There are sharp, quick route runners but they do not always get open. Then you have guys who understand tempo, patience, and macro-level play sets. That is Hodgins. He also came up with two key first downs that completely stemmed from his strength and toughness. Hodgins is at least 215 pounds, and he brings some fire behind those pads when he has the ball. I feel good when it is thrown his way and he brings a couple elements to the table that others do not.

-Richie James added 3 catches for 20 yards and 12 punt return yards. James has caught 11 of his last 12 targets. I give him a lot of credit for bouncing back from the Seattle fumble issue.


-Welcome back Daniel Bellinger. His first game back after the eye injury sustained October 23. He caught all 5 targets for 25 yards. There is a better blend of talent when it comes to size and speed when comparing him to the revolving door of replacements NYG went with while he was out. He was beat routinely as a blocker, however. He allowed 2 pressures in pass protection and was flagged for a hold.

-Nick Vannett was the TE2 for this game, out-snapping Chris Myarick 30 to 8. Neither caught a pass and both allowed a pressure. Overall, a really poor game by the NYG tight ends.


-I was encouraged by the play of the two tackles. This was rookie Evan Neal’s first game back since injuring his knee October 23 in Jacksonville. I put the microscope on him early and it wasn’t pretty. He wound up on the ground four times in the first quarter. Huge red flag. But he responded well and picked it up as the game went on. He pitched a shutout in pass protection. Andrew Thomas allowed 1 pressure. There was a sack that some will put on him, but I did not. There were multiple communication issues on the offensive line throughout the game and it is hard to peg who that is on. When it comes to actual blocking, Thomas had a very good game.

-The interior of this line was a disaster. The WAS group is outstanding between the tackles. I have discussed them multiple times over the years and while the team has not been very good over that span, the interior DL is more than solid. I have also discussed the NYG interior OL shortcomings since my first in-person look at them in camp. It is a bad, bad group. Mark Glowinski allowed 2 sacks and a TFL, but he did throw a key block on the Barkley touchdown run. He was getting out-reached by Daron Payne over and over. Combine that with no anchor and you just have no shot in that scenario. Nick Gates got abused by Jonathan Allen athletically. He allowed 3 pressures and a TFL. Center Jon Feliciano was solid, showing quality movement to the outside. His taunting penalty was a questionable call but that was at least partially derived from his reputation. Feliciano is widely known as a guy who goes overboard with that kind of stuff. Whether the flex was meant for Slayton or not, it could have been easily avoided. And yet another sign that the numerous scuffles one gets involved in throughout their career will come back and bite you at some point.


-Azeez Ojulari played 30 snaps in Week 3 against Dallas. He played 30 snaps in Week 4 against Chicago. Entering this game, that was it. Finally back, he broke out with one of the best games of his young career. He was on the field for 49 plays and ended with a sack, a forced fumble that he recovered, and a team-high 5 pressures. The movement traits and power game were what I was most impressed by. Ojulari obviously put in work this past offseason on adding bulk and power (take notes Kayvon), but this was the first time we really got to see it in action. He was getting under the pads of blockers with tremendous knee + ankle flexion while maintaining an upright torso with balance. That all stems from lower body strength. If he stays on the field, he changes this defense.

-Rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux was second on the team with 4 pressures and he added a sack to go along with 5 tackles. He also penetrated on a running play that led to a TFL. While there is still some hesitation in his game that is leaving production on the table, we have now seen two big time performances in back-to-back weeks.

-Jihad Ward had 3 tackles, 1 pressure, and 1.5 sacks. On his second sack, Ward forced a fumble that was recovered by WAS. One of the most important players on the defense who nobody ever talks about, Ward will now get used more economically with Ojulari back. His inside-out versatility is a big deal for this scheme and one I am focusing on in scouting prospects should he leave town in free agency. It can be a hard spot to fill.

-Oshane Ximines added 2 tackles, including 1 TFL. He lost the edge again on a 15-yard run. This has been the biggest issue in his game from the beginning.


-Dexter Lawrence is turning into an ironman at the position. Yet another game at over 91% of the snaps. Check this out. In 2019, Lawrence played over 80% of a game’s snaps one time. 2020? Zero times. 2021? One time. This season Lawrence has played 81%, 94%, 90%, 97%, 86%, 91%, 88%, 84%, and 91% of snaps in individual games. It is one thing to do that at Aaron Donald’s size. It is almost unheard of for a player this size to play this many snaps. His dominant play continues, finishing with 9 tackles, 1 sack, and 3 pressures. He is a tone setter for the defense in that he is the guy who is 14 yards downfield near the sideline making a tackle. It means a lot when your best players are also the best-effort players.

-Leonard Williams played just 35 snaps, the second lowest of the year. He is battling a neck injury. He still finished with 3 tackles and a pressure that led to a sack. The NYG run defense did suffer a bit without him in there.

-The trio of Justin Ellis, Henry Mondeaux, and Vernon Butler had their fair share of snaps. Ellis got credited with a sack, although I have him down for a half-sack. Fun fact. Ellis has played in 112 games including 53 starts dating back to 2014. That was his first ever full-sack on the official stat sheet. Mondeaux finished with 2 tackles and Butler flashed a bit with 4 tackles. Remember this is a former 1st round pick who had 6 sacks in 2019.


-This is now a two-man show at linebacker and it works well enough. Jaylon Smith is the straight-line, explosive guy who brings some emotional leadership to the mix. He finished with 5 tackles. Micah McFadden is the more physical inside-gap filler with better instincts and initial movement. He finished with 9 tackles and a forced fumble that ended up falling out of bounds. Both are solid in their respective roles, but the issue here is they both struggle on lateral running plays. They were eaten up by blockers in the running game because they just don’t get to their points fast enough.


-Be careful what you wish for when hoping Fabian Moreau gets back. The former Redskin missed the week 12 game against Dallas but was back for this one. He got absolutely roasted. He missed an open field tackle that led to a touchdown in the first quarter and that was just the beginning. He was beat on 3rd down multiple times and was also flagged for holding on a 3rd-down stop.

-Zyon Gilbert saw the first regular season action of his career as Darnay Holmes was out with an injury. He flashed some quality aggressive play but was often successfully targeted and beaten by WAS down the stretch. He also missed a tackle on the game-tying score. Gilbert did finish with a TFL and a PD that was a near-interception on a well-read play.

-Nick McCloud has made the most of his opportunity here. He played all 85 snaps and finished with 8 tackles and 2 pass break ups. While I like the physical nature he plays with, his missed tackle on the game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter is textbook for what a defender cannot do in that situation. He made zero effort to tackle Dotson; he simply just lowered his shoulder, looked away, and threw an elbow. Poor play at a crucial time and it overshadowed his otherwise solid game.

-Rookie Cor’Dale Flott played about a quarter of the snaps. He came up with a key tackle on a 3rd down stop where he quickly read the play and undercut the blocker. Flott’s movement traits both in pursuit and coverage are impressive.


-Julian Love had one of the best efforts of the day. He was all over the field, leading the team with 12 tackles, one of which was for a loss. He fills running lanes like an inside linebacker. His tackle rate is currently one of the best in the NFL at all positions among full-time players and the absolute best among safeties. He did get beat in coverage a handful of times but considering everything that he is doing for this defense week to week, he is proving to be one the best sheer values on the team.

-Dane Belton appears to be passed on the depth chart by Jason Pinnock. Belton didn’t see a snap and Pinnock saw 79 of them. He finished with 3 tackles and 2 pressures and a big PD in the fourth quarter.

-Tony Jefferson was back and finished with 4 tackles as he saw his first action in nearly 2 months. The 28 snaps were over twice as many as any game he has played this season.


-K Graham Gano: 2/3 (Made 48, 27 / Missed 58)
-P Jamie Gillan: 7 Punts / 46.3 avg – 42.6 net


-EDGE Azeez Ojulari, WR Isaiah Hodgins, DT Dexter Lawrence


-OG Nick Gates, OG Mark Glowinski, CB Fabian Moreau


(1) The move from Carson Wentz to Taylor Heinicke reinvigorated this entire team. They’ve lost one game since Week 5 after starting 1-4. While the schedule has done them a few favors (like the rest of the division) it is hard to argue against their results. WAS has rotated through multiple different quarterbacks since Heinicke was brought to town in 2020. Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Garrett Gilbert, and Wentz. Heinicke does not check all the boxes when evaluating quarterbacks in the draft. He is small and he doesn’t have a power arm. But watching the throws this kid makes purely from innovation and reaction is impressive. The 4th-and-4 throw he made to Curtis Samuel for 20 yards in the 4th-quarter, game-tying drive was a top-5 throw in the league this season. I really mean that. He is getting better and better and I bet if the kid was 6’3” everyone would be behind him as a franchise guy.

(2) One of the more interesting contract situations to follow league wide will be what WAS decides to do with Daron Payne. He is playing on his fifth-year option deal (what Lawrence will be playing on next season) and the predominant thought around the league is he will be elsewhere in 2023. However, if they team stays with the cap-friendly Heinicke, it can open the door for Payne sticking around. Some believe they will pursue a high-priced corner, however. If that is the case, I don’t see them also signing Payne.

(3) Just how good is WAS? Besides having the best record in the NFL since Week 6, are they a credible NFC contender? If I had to make a tier system in the league, they are a notch above NYG right now only because of the injury situation. WAS has been relatively healthy all year. They also have immense strength in the trenches, a top-notch playmaker at WR, and an active back seven on defense especially in the middle. If I am an opponent, I don’t want to play these guys in the playoffs especially if Chase Young comes back strong from injury. They have game-wreckers, guys who can take over a game. And yes, the QB is underrated.


(1) What happened to Brian Daboll’s aggressive approach that he spoke of after their Week 1 win in Tennessee? “We’re going to be aggressive. That’s what we want to do. That’s the mindset I want the players to have. If it didn’t work, I could live with it,” Daboll exclaimed after that W. Multiple times over the past 6-7 weeks, I’ve seen his stance soften. Whether it be at the end of a first half in a close game or on 4th-and-under-5 in enemy territory. Ignoring the 4th-and-3 opportunity from the WAS 45-yard line right as the offense was clicking for the first time since the third quarter was mind-boggling. They needed 3 yards. 6 of the 7 previous plays gained 7, 5, 10, 12, 4, and 3 yards. Have things changed that much since Week 1? What exactly has? The playoff-bubble all of the sudden makes them scared to try and go for a win? This was Daboll’s biggest gaffe of the year and if you don’t think that decision changes the “mindset” (his words) of players moving forward, you are dead wrong. To me, it is no coincidence that Daboll is all of the sudden afraid to keep his foot on the gas is occurring at the same time as we are all seeing a drop off in aggression from Barkley. Good coaches dictate culture and confidence.

(2) The long-term outlook of this franchise is in question. As I have said multiple times, they appear to be in much better hands when it comes to the decision makers creating and sticking to a vision. The most important part, however, is seeing who produces on the field and letting that steer the direction of the ship. The NYG defense has holes, as do most pro defenses, but we are seeing the creation of its core. Ojulari, Thibodeaux, Lawrence, Williams, and Love will make up nearly half of the defense. Throw in supplements like McKinney and Jackson, add another year or two of personnel acquisition, and the defense has a nice trajectory that could end up being a top-shelf unit. Getting that homegrown core is vital to the process and NYG is very much getting there.

(3) A matchup against the Eagles and then another one against the Commanders who will be coming off a bye. Creating the NFL schedule is a MUCH more complex process than many believe. I’ve done some research on that and I know someone who was with the league office in the 2008-2015 timeframe. Learning about the nuances and algorithms that go into it was eye opening. With that said, having a team play the same opponent two games in a row (with a bye in between) should be a major no-no. That one is easily avoidable and I am shocked to see the NFL let that happen.

Nov 262022
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (November 24, 2022)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports


One of the metrics I use in coach evaluation is how well a team plays the second time around. These are almost always divisional foes but when post-season match-ups come into play, I look at them as well. While Brian Daboll was not the Head Coach in BUF, I did take a look at how their team (and offense) fared in their respective repeat matchups year-to-year:

2018 (on a 6-10 team): 1-2 and +13 in points
2019 (on a 10-6 team): 1-2 and +2 in points
2020 (on a 13-3 team): 3-1 and +29 in points
2021 (on a 11-6 team): 4-1 and +8 in points

The Thanksgiving Day match-up in DAL marked the first time in Daboll’s Head Coach tenure they would face off against a repeat opponent. They lost to the Cooper Rush-led Cowboys Week 3 by a score of 23-16. A game where NYG had a lead in the second half, but had it taken out of their grasp because the defense did not step up when they were needed.

The initial NYG drive stalled at midfield before opting to punt on 4th-and-3 from the DAL 48-yard line. The initial DAL drive stalled on their own 40-yard line, but they kept their offense on the field on 4th-and-2. Ezekiel Elliott was stuffed by a group of defenders led by Jaylon Smith, the Cowboys 2016 second rounder who was starting against his former team for the first time. NYG was primed to strike first blood. Daniel Jones hit Isaiah Hodgins for a 24-yard touchdown, but it was called back after right tackle Tyre Phillips was flagged for illegally blocking downfield. Jones then threw two incomplete passes, the second of which was flagged for intentional grounding, pushing NYG way back into deep field goal range. Fortunately, Graham Gano sent the 57-yarder through the uprights to give NYG the initial lead.

Dak Prescott, coming off his best game of the season in Minnesota, gave NYG the ball back with an interception that landed in the hands of Rodarius Williams. The NYG offense responded with a three-and-out as the DAL defensive front, a top-five group league-wide, was easily controlling the point-of-attack. Seven of DAL’s next eleven snaps were running plays and it landed them in the end zone via an Elliott 6-yard run on the first play of the second quarter. NYG then borrowed a page from that book, running the ball on seven-of-nine plays which also ended in a touchdown, this one by Saquon Barkley on a one-yarder. NYG had the lead at 10-7.

After trading three-and-outs, DAL put together a lengthy drive that was heading toward the red zone. Prescott tried to fit one in to CeeDee Lamb but a deflection by Darnay Holmes ended up in Julian Love’s hands for the second interception of the half, matching their 2022 season total coming into this game. A sloppy final two minutes, including two penalties by DAL and one by NYG and an interception that was nullified by one of those DAL penalties eventually led to a 47-yard field goal by Gano to lengthen their lead to 6 as halftime approached.

The DAL offense was a different animal in the second half. They started off with a 14-play drive that consisted of four third-down conversions. One of them was with a lot of help from the refs on a phantom defensive holding called on Holmes. The fourth conversion was a 3rd-and-15 touchdown pass to tight end Dalton Schultz. It put DAL up by one and wiped out over half of the third quarter clock.

The NYG offense stalled near midfield again. This time it was 4th-and-1 from their own 45-yard line. Daboll pushed the urgency, with 4:11 left in the third quarter, and kept the offense on the field. Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka called a great play, giving Jones an open look at Saquon Barkley who was all alone in the flat. A catch would have resulted in a first down and much more. Jones misfired, the ball fell to the ground, and Prescott took over on the NYG side of the field. Six plays later, Prescott connected with Schultz for another touchdown and DAL was up by eight.

Midfield continued to be a black hole for the NYG offense. They just could not get past it. Barkley couldn’t get going, the entire NYG offensive line (including Andrew Thomas) was taking turns getting beat, and the DAL train was heating up. For the third straight drive, DAL put a touchdown on the board, this time via a 2-yard run by tight end Peyton Hendershot. They were up 28-13 with under 9 minutes remaining. NYG down, by two touchdowns plus a two-point conversion, with an offense that had been averaging 18 points per game since their win in Jacksonville October 23rd.

They did end up getting into DAL territory on their next drive. There were two problems, however. They never quite went into hurry-up mode (11 plays netted 38 yards and took off 5:41 of game clock) and the final sequence went 10-yard sack, false start penalty, 16-yard gain, incomplete pass. DAL took the ball back and ran the ball over and over to get NYG to rid themselves of their timeouts. NYG did end up scoring a garbage-time touchdown with just :08 remaining on a pass from Jones to Richie James. At the very least, NYG bettors left the game happy. The onsides kick did not work and NYG dropped their 11th game to the Cowboys in their last 12 attempts.


-Daniel Jones: 21/35 – 228 yards / 1 TD – 0 INT / 88.8 RAT

The mistakes Jones made in this do not show up on the stat sheet. It was a poor start where he held onto the ball on plays where they left specific pass rushers unblocked. The illegal shift + intentional grounding that nearly pushed them out of field goal range were avoidable. The 4th-and-1 miss to Barkley was the turning point of the game. He was fortunate to not have an interception on his stat line at the end of the first half on penalty that had nothing to do with the play. And lastly, I felt he did not tuck and run on two instances where he should have. Both resulted in stops for the DAL defense. This game won’t be put on Jones but there is no denying just a couple of better plays by him would have easily altered the trajectory of the game. And the looks were there, he simply did not come through.


-Saquon Barkley: 11 att – 39 yards / 4 rec – 13 yards

For the second straight week, Barkley was contained, and it was a mix of quality defense and a scaled back version of Barkley. Is he hurt? I don’t know. If I had to money on it, I would say he is not hurt. He was not coming off the field dramatically in pain like we have seen him do in the past. He was not grimacing after hits. Mentally, Barkley looks hesitant. NYG missed out on two likely third-down conversions because of that hesitancy. On an offense like this and considering the player he is, that is a huge deal.

-The best running back play we saw in this game was from Gary Brightwell. He gained 31 yards on 5 carries and added another 18 yards on 2 catches. This was the most we have seen him touch the ball over his two seasons in the league and the results were excellent. He’s earned more touches in this offense that is searching everywhere for production. Matt Breida added 15 yards on 3 touches, 1 catch and 2 carries.


-Darius Slayton came up with the offensive play of the day. A game-long 44-yard catch that set NYG up for their first touchdown that put them up early. He was targeted 5 other times, catching 2 of them for 19 yards. Earlier in the game I made a negative note on his ball skills when it came to fighting through contact while maintaining body control down the field. In fairness, his 44-yarder was a big-time play on the ball. It is the up-and-down play by Slayton that causes evaluators to pull their hair out. The good is there, the consistency is not.

-Richie James had 5 catches for 41 yards and a touchdown. Almost all of that came in the second half. Isaiah Hodgins caught 3 passes for 31 yards and had a touchdown taken off the board by an offensive line penalty. Kenny Golladay did not get thrown to at all, nor did Marcus Johnson. They saw a combined 26 snaps.


-A better game from this group as a whole than what they put out there last week. Lawrence Cager, Chris Myarick, and Tanner Hudson all caught one pass each (for 23-20-10 yards respectively). Cager and Myarick were responsible for 2 of the 3 biggest plays in the passing game. Hudson did not see any blocking snaps, but both Cager and Myarick held their own against the physical DAL front.


-On paper, this had the potential to be an ugly game for the Giants offensive line. DAL came into this one leading the NFL in sacks and top-three in every important pass rush metric. NYG was missing their starting right tackle and were on a fourth-string left guard. To make matters worse, left tackle Andrew Thomas was battling illness and appeared to be limping a bit on that bad foot of his. He paid the price against All Pro linebacker Micah Parsons, allowing 2 sacks, 1 pressure, and 0.5 TFL. Jack Anderson, the fourth-stringer noted above, allowed 2 pressures and a sack and was flagged for a false start.

-Center Nick Gates graded out as the top lineman, which isn’t saying much. His hands were heavy and accurate. I don’t see a ton of movement off the line against defensive tackles and he did struggle to get his hips in the hole a few times. I chalk that up to the lower body still working its way back.

-The right side was responsible for four pressures (2 each by Mark Glowinski and Tyre Phillips). Glowinksi also allowed a 0.5 TFL and Phillips was called for a crucial penalty that came from him aimlessly working his way downfield for no reason on a passing play. I liked what I saw out of him as a run blocker though and I wonder if there is any thought on him returning to guard when Neal comes back. Not as a starter, but as an immediate backup if needed.


-The top individual pass rush performances of this season previously belonged to Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams. Those performances now sit behind rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux’s dominance he put on display in this game. 9 pressures, 1 caused hold, 1 caused TFL. This was the best combination of get off, pad level, and power we have seen out of him. He absolutely abused fellow rookie Tyler Smith on the left side all game and proved to be a menace both the inside as a blitzing linebacker and on the left side the defensive line. He did miss 2 tackles, one of which was a sack, but this is exactly what we want to see from Thibodeaux at this point. The most impressive part of his stat line is the fact he did so on just 26 pass rush snaps. In another year or two, after he continues to figure his craft out at the professional level and improve his power game, a few of those will turn into sacks.

-Jihad Ward finished with 2 pressures and 1 TFL. I like him so much more when he is in the tight spaces. His power game and feel for blockers is top notch.

-Oshane Ximines lost the edge twice on big runs in the first quarter. He also missed a tackle and did not impact the game as a pass rusher.


-Leonard Williams was back to his dominant ways. He had 6 tackles, 3 TFL, and 1 pressure. His closing speed on lateral runs is such an overlooked component to his game. He reaches guys that 95% of the league’s interior linemen cannot. The negative in his game, which has been around for years, showed up a few times in this one. He does not anchor well against runs right at him. He also missed 2 tackles.

-Dexter Lawrence had 5 tackles and a pressure. He seemed to be off his game in this one. Nothing drastic, but I caught him walking gingerly and grimacing a few times throughout and he looked out of gas on a few others. Henry Mondeaux added 3 tackles and a pressure. He offers much more than Justin Ellis, who finished with 1 tackle, when it comes to playing sudden and showing some range once off the initial contact of a blocker.


-Jaylon Smith was playing some spirited football in his first start against the team that drafted and signed him to a long-term deal. He led the team with 10 tackles, adding 1 TFL and a big 4th-down stop early in the game. His downhill explosion is still there and even though the lateness + lateral movement issues hurt from time to time, he has been a quality player for this defense.

-Micah McFadden was on the field for a career-high 48 snaps. After a poor game last week against DET, I saw more urgency with his reads, and he finished better. He had 4 tackles and 2 TFL with 1 missed tackle. The movement in coverage looked much better when looking at the All-22. He was rarely targeted, but he did his job when working the intermediate level of the route tree.


-We had a little bit of a coming out party for Rodarius Williams. I discussed him a bit after the DET game noting how often he was getting beat in his first action of the season. He responded with 2 pass break-ups and an interception, the first of his career. He did not allow a reception either (although he was flagged for a pass interference). There were quite a few people excited about Williams after the 2021 preseason, remember. Now that he is in the mix, he looks the part.

-Nick McCloud had 8 tackles without any misses. I like him in the middle of the field. He is a physical player and gets the ball carrier down at a near-perfect rate. He allowed a touchdown in coverage. Rookie Cor’Dale Flott allowed 3 completions on all 3 times he was targeted. His lack of power presence is a concern against a receiver with any kind of size. Michael Gallup tossed him around a couple times. His play speed is excellent, though.

-Darnay Holmes was flagged three times, one of which was a poor call. The issue here is Holmes has the reputation of being too grabby in coverage. He built that as a rookie in 2020 and it hasn’t gotten anything but worse. He now has 7 penalties on the year and teams know it. He also allowed 3 catches for 58 yards, being outclassed by Lamb. He did deflect a pass that ended up being an interception.


-Julian Love tied for the team lead with 10 tackles. He added two impact plays as well, a TFL and an interception. This is exactly what this team needs from Love. Be the safety net on the back end who makes tackles in space and create big plays for the defense. He did both.

-Jason Pinnock played every snap. This is valuable experience for him. He had 8 tackles, but he also missed one and allowed a touchdown in coverage. More up-and-down play for him.


-K Graham Gano: 2/2 (Made 57, 47)
-P Jamie Gillan: 4 Punts / 48.3 avg – 38.3 avg


-CB Rodarius Williams, EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, S Julian Love


-CB Darnay Holmes, OT Andrew Thomas, RB Saquon Barkley


After the Week 3 loss in September, I asked how far do I see this version of Dallas going? “We have every reason to believe they will contend not only for the division, but for the conference. The defense has the upside of being special and if that offense can elevate their game just one or two levels, they have the “goods.” Here we are at the end of November, and I only feel stronger about that notion. DAL is one of three teams I can see going to the Super Bowl. The difference between this team and the previous few years is the defense. They can be lights out against anyone.

There is a good chance that was Ezekiel Elliott’s final game against NYG in a Cowboys uniform. DAL has made a habit out of restructuring his contract in recent offseasons, pushing money into future years. They did not do so this past offseason. To me, that, and the emergence of Tony Pollard who is simply a better player right now, will pave the way for them cutting him loose in a few months. 12 games, 1108 total yards, 10 TDs vs NYG.

I will be intrigued to see where Tyler Smith, their 2022 first round pick, ends up on the offensive line. He was going to be the left guard until Tyron Smith went down but shifted over and has played at a solid level for most of the year. He’s allowed 4 sacks and is second in the league with 10 penalties. This was a major issue at Tulsa as well. I think Smith’s run blocking is already on the elite level but I don’t see the upside in pass protection. I think he ends up at OG in the future.


Two losses in five days can sting a bit more and the injuries on both sides of the ball were accelerated by the Thursday game. The positive is now schedule-based. NYG gets 10 days of rest prior to a home match-up against the Commanders, who play Sunday against ATL. With multiple players on the brink of returning (OT Evan Neal, TE Daniel Bellinger, OL Ben Bredeson), the timing of this mini-bye week is crucial. Especially considering WAS will be one of the teams NYG is contending with for a playoff spot.

The Barkley tape is the elephant in the room that everyone can see. He is not running as hard. He is showing hesitancy. And this is an offense that did not have any margin to work with. Barkley is the most important player on this offense and probably the team. If he does not play to his ability (whether it is physical or mental) – the entire scope changes. Look what happened when Brightwell came in and ran hard. I discussed this a few times last year. There was not, and is not, a bigger Barkley guy out there than me. But if the hardness in his game is back and forth, it will make for an easy decision this upcoming offseason.

One of the questions people will ask about Daniel Jones and his future with NYG will revolve around upside. Just how good can he actually be? Best case scenario, what is he? We just watched Dak Prescott throw two interceptions in the first half. He was hit just as much if not more than Jones was throughout the game. Nothing mattered. He comes out in the second half and played some of the best QB I have seen all year from around the league. The numbers did not pop off the page, but it was the complexity of his throws and how precise they were. I do not see that in Jones. Both right now and in the future.

Nov 222022
Julian Love, New York Giants (November 20, 2022)

Julian Love – © USA TODAY Sports


Lions Head Coach Dan Campbell was drafted by NYG in the third round of the 1999 NFL Draft. He started 34 games for them, 28 of which came over his final two seasons before he signed with DAL (and later DET) in free agency. A year-plus after his career ended, he became an intern-offensive coach for MIA. Working his way up, including a stretch where he was interim Head Coach for MIA and an Assistant Head Coach for NO, Campbell landed the top job for DET in 2021. In a time where owners are often chasing after specialty minds (offense/defense), DET did it different. They went after a culture guy. Campbell is leader of men. He wants to chew glass, get into fights, and give off the tough-guy persona to a league full of tough guys. His staff is filled with former players with similar backgrounds and mindsets. DET personifies “Blue Collar” as much as any team in the league. To be determined if this approach can work and DET. If you have not followed the team, DET has had some of the worst losses in the league since Campbell’s tenure began when it comes to blown leads and aggressive mistakes.

DET came into this one with the last-ranked defense in the NFL when looking at both yards and points allowed, respectively. What surprises many, however, is the fact they came into the league with a top-10 offense in both categories. They do not have star power on that side of the ball. They have a quarterback who would not start on 20 teams in the league. How are they doing this? NYG got a front row seat in their Week 11 matchup at windy MetLife Stadium. It is that time of year.

NYG began the game with the ball. Left Guard Shane Lemieux was on the field for the first time, giving the team 4 of their 5 starters up front on the field. Evan Neal remained inactive with a knee injury. Two of the first three plays resulted in losses. They went three-and-out and DET responded with three points via a field goal by Michael Badgley. A week after Saquon Barkley’s 30+ touch performance and four days prior to their next game against DAL, backup running back Matt Breida made his mark early. He converted a 4th-and-1 rushing attempt before a 16-yard gain on a 3rd-and-7 a few plays later. This set them up for their first touchdown of the game, a 3-yard run by Daniel Jones.

The game stayed at 6-3 (the extra point was blocked), NYG up, for the next three possessions as the two ground-and-pound offenses were playing the field position battle. DET punter Jack Fox, a 2020 All-Pro, had consecutive punts of 57 and 63 yards. NYG’s #1 corner and fill-in punt returner, Adoree’ Jackson, was injured on the 57-yarder. He did not return and will be out a month. Jones threw an interception on a zone blitz that he did not recognize, throwing it directly to DET defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, the second overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. With the DET offense starting their drive in the red zone, it took just four plays for them to score on a Jamaal Williams four-yard run.

Thanks to an illegal block in the back by Nick McCloud on the ensuing kickoff, NYG started their drive on their own 6-yard line. They had gains of 19, 13, and 4 yards. Because of the penalty, that only got them to their own 42-yard line. They were forced to punt again as the NYG offensive line, with four starters in, continued to get abused. Punter Jamie Gillian then shanked one 25 yards. DET needed just three plays before they were in the red zone again and with under a minute remaining in the half, Williams scored a 1-yard touchdown to make the game 17-6. Poor clock management by Jones ended the half with the NYG offense near midfield.

DET opened the second half with another touchdown-scoring drive on the back of Williams yet again, his third score of the day. There was urgency in the NYG offensive huddle on the next drive. Down 18, at home, but up against the worst defense in the league. Barkley had just 18 yards on 10 first half carries, and they were approaching the point in the game where they needed points, and fast. The way to do that in the NFL? Throw the ball. On 4th-and-5 from the DET 40, Jones threw his second interception on a poorly placed ball. Rookie Kerby Joseph brought it in, his third of the season as he has emerged as the league’s top rookie safety so far.

DET did not convert this into points. They went three and out two possessions in a row, but NYG’s offense remained stagnant themselves. However, as the game turned to the fourth quarter, their fortune started to change even though they lost their most targeted receiver, rookie Wan’Dale Robinson, to a knee injury. He did not return and will be out the rest of the year. Breida did end up scoring NYG’s next touchdown on a 3-yard run but kicker Graham Gano missed the extra point. 24-12 DET.

NYG got the ball back with under 9:00. This was it, they needed to score a touchdown on this drive and who better than DET to do it against, a team that has made a living on blowing fourth quarter leads since the start of the Campbell-era. Jones threw two incomplete passes, center Nick Gates forgot to snap the ball on 3rd-and-10, and the anemic passing game needed a huge play. Jones delivered a strike to recently picked up receiver Isaiah Hodgins for a 20-yard gain. First down. But on the next play, right before he went down, Hodgins fumbled, and it was recovered by Hutchinson who was all over the field. DET needed four plays before D’Andre Swift got his turn at crossing the goal line on a 4-yard touchdown run.

NYG did end up getting that touchdown, a drive and turnover too late, on the next drive. Jones hit Richie James on a 9-yard crossing route. They were down 13 points with under 5:00 left in need of a successful two-point conversion to make it a TD + 2-point conversion + FG margin. Tight End Lawrence Cager dropped the pass from Jones, NYG remained down 13, and DET recovered the ensuing onsides kick. NYG would not touch the ball again. DET’s offensive line paved the way for two first downs via run-only in run-only situations and sucked the remaining NYG timeouts out of Brian Daboll’s hands.

NYG loses, 31-18.


-Daniel Jones: 27/44 – 341 yards / 1 TD – 2 INT / 74.1 RAT

Jones also added a team-high 50 yards on 7 carries including a touchdown. The 341 yards were the third-highest of his career and the 44 attempts were the second-highest. The DET defense, again the worst in the league because of how poor they perform against the pass, sold out on stuffing Barkley and the NYG running game. This will be what see week in, week out for the rest of year. Extra beef up front, defensive backs in the box, and sheer number advantages. Jones did make big throws. He did a fine job getting the ball out when receivers were open. He took what was there. He was productive (391 yards total). Checks in all of those boxes. But the interceptions were both on him. He did not read the zone blitz on the first one and he air-mailed the second one. While we can continue to pound the OL + pass catcher drum and rightfully so, this one will go in the negative bucket for Jones. He did not rise above.


-Saquon Barkley: 15 att – 22 yards / 2 rec – 13 yards

Barkley looked like a guy who carried the team a week earlier. He had less pop and speed than what we have seen this season. After reviewing the All-22, I also noted three runs where Barkley’s lack of aggression caused no gain or a loss. All three were plays that had a strong likelihood of going for 5+ yards, one of which could have been much bigger. Daboll has done a fine job with Barkley and this running game when it comes to putting the head down and getting those 2-3-4 yard gains. But we saw the version of Barkley who had too much tip-toeing, lack of desire, and overall slowness. That margin in between in this league is enormous. A poor game for Barkley but he was strong pass protection. He has turned that around in a big way.

-Matt Breida: 3 att – 13 yards – 1 TD / 1 rec – 16 yards

We did not see a lot of Breida in this one and I wish we saw more. He brought more energy to the offense than Barkley did, and it was obvious on the early drive where he converted a 4th- and 3rd-down conversion, respectively. While it is hard to keep #26 off the field, this was something obvious to see early on. With where NYG’s receivers are, I think more looks with both guys on the field should be a priority.


-The position group caught 22 passes for 292 yards, by far a season-high. Wan’Dale Robinson led the group with a line of 9/100 but suffered a torn ACL on the first play of the fourth quarter. Such an unfortunate blow for multiple reasons. One, it looked like Robinson’s role was starting to click here. He was the guy Jones could get the ball to on 3rd/4th down. He was the one who created the most on his own after the catch. Two, because of the nature of the injury and timing, this is something that could linger into 2023. My hope is he will be on the field Week 2 or 3.

-Darius Slayton came up with a few big plays. His 17.2 yards per catch in a game that he had 5 or more receptions were the most since Week 10 of 2020. The negative with Slayton continues to be drops. He added 2 more to his season total and double caught two others – meaning a slight bobble before bringing it in. On a team that lacks talent at WR – he is clearly the number one guy especially with Robinson out. He can make big plays in an offense that is begging for such in the passing game. But it is hard to rely on a guy with his caliber of hands and ball skills. He did come up with a key block on the Jones touchdown run early in the game.

-Maybe the loudest ovation of the day, whether it was genuine or sarcastic, came on the first Kenny Golladay reception. He had 2 catches on the day, both body-balls that he let come in to his numbers rather than attack it with his hands, for 29 yards. By default, Golladay will see more and more looks now.

-Richie James appeared out of the doghouse once Robinson went down. He responded with 3 catches for 48 yards and a touchdown, all coming in the fourth quarter. Isaiah Hodgins came up with 29 yards on 3 catches but lost a fumble that DET turned into a fourth quarter touchdown.


-Another lackluster day for the group overall. It is one thing to see a lack of impact on the game, but when the negative plays start to pop up, it becomes frustrating to watch. Tight end was mishandled this past offseason and even in-season. Lawrence Cager allowed a TFL, was flagged for offensive pass interference, and dropped a big 2-point conversion attempt with the team down 13. He did have 2 catches for 20 yards, but that was it for the group as a whole.


-I have long discussed the issues the interior of this line would present as the year went on. It was one of the first things I saw at camp back in August. They’ve played better than I anticipated but that doesn’t mean much. It has still been a well-below average group that was somewhat overshadowed by the smoke and mirrors offensive scheme. With Shane Lemiuex on the field for the first time this season, I had some optimism. That ended quickly. He allowed 3 pressures and a sack before being benched in the second half for rookie Josh Ezeudu, who allowed a pressure himself. Mark Glowinski was man-handled by Alim McNeill repeatedly. He allowed 2 pressures and was flagged for illegally blocking downfield on a drive that had NYG approaching field goal range and ended with a punt. His penalty was the turning point of the drive.

-Center Jon Feliciano left the game with a neck injury. He allowed a TFL and one pressure before heading out. Nick Gates started off as a blocking tight end but then took over at center for Feliciano. He was flagged twice, one of which was declined. As I said a few weeks ago, Gates is the guy that should be at center. He sustains contact better than Feliciano and gets more push.

-Andrew Thomas allowed 1 TFL but was otherwise lights out again. On the other side, Tyre Phillips had to be relieved by Matt Peart because of a neck injury. Phillips allowed a pressure before departing and Peart struggled with 2 pressures and a TFL. His hands were all over the place and it threw off his body control. Peart clearly has not clicked yet. The tools were there, and it was worth the gamble, but he simply cannot pass block consistently.


-Oshane Ximines had a solid game, pressuring Jared Goff 3 times and registering 1 tackle. He was flagged for a roughing penalty, however, on a 3rd-and-8 stop that gave DET an automatic first down on a 3-point scoring drive.

-Rookies Kayvon Thibodeaux added 2 tackles and 1 pressure and Tomon Fox had 1 tackle. Quiet and overall ineffective game for the two on limited looks, as Goff only threw 26 passes.

-Jihad Ward had 4 tackles, 1 pressure, and a pass break up. Martindale put him into coverage on a couple of occasions via the zone blitz and it hurt the defense. Ward moves more like a defensive tackle than a linebacker. Stiff and slow.


-Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams continue to play a ton of snaps. Lawrence had 3 pressures and a team-high 7 tackles while Williams added 1 pressure and 4 tackles. The DET interior is one of the best in football and these two won several matchups. The success DET had on the ground had very little to do with them.

-Henry Mondeaux remains ahead of the immobile Justin Ellis on the depth chart. He played 32 snaps while Ellis only saw 17. Both of them struggled against that OL.


-Rough day for the group. Rookie Micah McFadden got the start next to veteran Jaylon Smith and both were manhandled against the DET running game. McFadden is a step too slow especially in coverage. It keeps popping up and DET took advantage of it on the play-action crossing routes. He was also flagged for a pass interference. Smith had 6 tackles but 5 of them were assists. He was late to the running lanes and slow to fill. The lateral adjustments are worrisome, as he looks so stiff and rigid when he needs to adjust. He added 1 pressure.

-Tae Crowder saw an uptick in playing time late in the game and finished with 3 tackles and a TFL.


-Adoree’ Jackson missed most of the game because he was injured on a 3-yard punt return. He was recently put in that role because of the two Richie James fumbles in Seattle a few weeks ago. More on that below. Jackson will be out for a month, if not longer. I’ve said this a few times; Jackson is the one guy this defense could not afford to lose. Huge blow for the defense that has almost no margin left.

-Fabian Moreau suffered an oblique injury and may be out Thursday at DAL. That leaves the secondary with Darnay Holmes at nickel and a mixture of Nick McCloud, Rodarius Williams, and Cordale Flott on the outside as NYG is approaching a difficult slate of opposing offenses in the near future. Holmes and McCloud both had a TFL and were solid in coverage. They fit the aggressive scheme well and I feel good about them. The concerns are with Williams and Flott. Williams was beat in coverage multiple times in his first action of the season and Flott, a rookie who has played 22 snaps since Week 3, is raw. He dropped an interception but did force a fumble. These next few weeks will be huge for Flott when it comes to experience and learning from mistakes. It may be painful right now, but it could end up being beneficial to his future.


-Julian Love was the lone defender to play all of the snaps. Nobody else played 90% of the snaps. He tied for the team lead 7 tackles and added a TFL. He did miss a tackle on a 3rd-and-long conversion though and missed out on an interception late in the game, but it did end in a pass break up.

-Jason Pinnock was in and out of the game with a jaw/neck injury. He is very much an all-or-nothing type player on defense. He had a TFL and 3 tackles but added a missed tackle. I like the aggressive style and length he brings to the table. I hope he can stay on the field because NYG may have something in him.

-Rookie Dane Belton had 2 tackles but was ridden out of multiple plays by wide receiver and tight end blocks. That is a weakness in his game I’ve seen repeated a few times this season. He also allowed receptions on the two times he was targeted.


-K Graham Gano: 0/0 (One extra point blocked and he missed another)
-P Jamie Gillan: 4 punts / 38.3 avg – 38.3 net


-DT Dexter Lawrence, WR Wan’Dale Robinson, RB Matt Breida


-OG Shane Lemieux, LB Micah McFadden, RB Saquon Barkley


The Lions have passed their 2021-win total (3) with 7 games left on the schedule. They’re currently the 2nd place team in the NFC North. They have contests against JAC, NYJ, CAR, CHI, and GB remaining. Say what you want about the defensive and late-game struggles, but this team is on the rise. I believe in culture-building and I believe the resources DET has put into it will pay off. What is truly missing? They’re going to be limited with Jared Goff under center, that is the simple truth. The statistics are a bit misleading, as a lot of their production has come late in games against prevent-style coverages. But if their 2022 first rounder Jameson Williams, who may be back in December and was my second-ranked receiver behind Garrett Wilson last April, is a dude who checks every box. With next year being the vital third season of the Campbell-era, I can see them making THE aggressive move in the offseason for a quarterback. That can go in a few directions, but it is something I see happening one way or another.

The DET offensive line has been well built. Left tackle Taylor Decker, 1st round 2016. Left guard Jonah Jackson, 3rd round 2020. Center Frank Ragnow, 1st round 2018. Right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai, free agent signing in 2020 (currently on IR). Right tackle Penei Sewell, 1st round 2021. When I look at this offense that is top 10 in yards and scoring without a true number one receiver (or tight end now that they’ve traded T.J. Hockenson), Jared Goff at quarterback, and an overrated number one back in D’Andre Swift, it is impossible to not give most of the credit to their O-Line. It creates a strong notion in my head that adding yet another high pick to the group along the interior will very much be in the discussion next April.

The Dan Campbell experiment seems to be working. Now, the Colts seem to be re-energized by Jeff Saturday. Neither situation can be considered a full-blown win yet, but if they turn in to successes you can bet your bottom dollar other teams will follow suit. Coaching hires that have less to do with scheme, more to do with culture.


Two losses in their last three games. One win since October 24. Is NYG simply regressing toward the mean? Meaning is this what they truly are? A thin roster that cannot handle the multitude of injuries. A team that was winning a bunch of one-score games, but the law of average has arrived? I think NYG has some “dark” days ahead, meaning more and more losses, but let’s not get it twisted. This team has already exceeded expectations in 2022. They are still very early in this new regime and way of doing things. They’re playing with house money and, as we have been saying since August, they are looking for things that will build this roster and the future. They need some answers, and they need their young guys to get the experience of ups and downs. Anything else that comes, which includes a very-possible postseason birth, is icing on the cake.

If NYG wanted to put a premium playmaker in the return game, why not put Saquon Barkley back there? Because you don’t want him getting hurt. Then why put Adoree’ Jackson, who in my opinion was the most important player on defense, in that role? This coaching staff has been amazing from the start and Daboll is in the running for Coach of the Year. But that was the wrong move and they’re going to pay for it. I understand some of the decision-making revolved around feeling safe with Jackson (catching the ball) but losing him is going to be a potential season-changer for this defense and team.

Injuries aside, I’m glad NYG has a short week against a team that just absolutely crushed the 8-1 Vikings on the road 40-3. One team riding a high. One team riding a low. Both teams have seen their fair share of peaks and valleys this season. It is a divisional matchup. This is the first time this new regime is playing a repeat-opponent. I think NYG will be in this game on Thursday as crazy as it sounds. It’s the way the NFL works more often than not.