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.

Nov 282023
Jalin Hyatt, New York Giants (November 26, 2023)

Jalin Hyatt – © USA TODAY Sports


-Tommy DeVito: 17/25 – 191 yards / 1 TD – 0 INT / 103.9 RAT

Add another level to DeVito’s ascending performances this season. Add another level to DeVito’s comfort and responsibility within this offense. And add another level of trust that DeVito has earned in the eyes of both coaches and fans. The fun ride continues and it feels like he (and the team) have found the exit inside a dark tunnel. That light is still far away but it has at least been located and the team is inching toward it. Without getting too ahead of ourselves, I just want to break down a few elements of his game that credibly mean something. One, his ability and confidence to progress through reads as he reads the coverage. His internal clock is improving with each week. Two, his release and accuracy on downfield passing are notable. He is comfortable and confident as he throws the deep ball. He hit Jalin Hyatt near the sideline for gains of 41, 29, and 22 yards. Zero hesitation, pinpoint placement, and repeatability. And last, footwork and ball fakes. DeVito’s mechanics for the position look outstanding. It does not mean everything, but it means something. Everything he is doing right now looks clean. An undrafted rookie who looks like this on a team that has been losing like this? Hard to remember seeing anything that resembles what he is doing in the league.


-Saquon Barkley: 12 att – 46 yards / 1 rec – 6 yards

40 of Barkley’s yards came in the first half on 8 carries. Two of those runs came in the first quarter that gained 33 yards. Overall, it was a quiet game for him with a congested point-of-attack and inconsistent run blocking inside. The big runs were to the right side where the crease was big enough and there long enough for him to burst through. Barkley had two negatives on the day – an allowed sack and a drop. Those show up too often.

-Matt Breida added 6 yards on 2 carries and a 10-yard gain in the passing game. He was on the field for just 10 snaps.


-One of the best traits DeVito has shown is the ability to spread the ball out to his pass catchers. He knows what his guys are good at, and he knows where to use them the most. Enter Jalin Hyatt. A career-game for the rookie who has been frustrating to watch for no reason other than lack of usage. He caught 5 passes for 109 yards. Three of them were explosive plays (20+ yards) and all three were high-level plays. I have been saying it since the beginning of the season, Hyatt has a few special traits that are hard to find together. We can see the speed and acceleration. But the plays on the ball he made near the boundary with the combination of coordination and footwork can make him a lethal weapon. And I mean, absolutely lethal. The move he put on J.C. Jackson after the catch was not something I expected to see either, as the short area change of direction and hip fluidity were a bit of an unknown with the ball in his hands.

-Wan’Dale Robinson was used underneath over and over, totaling 26 yards on 4 catches with one drop. The average depth of target was just 2.8 yards. That will often be the case. His usage (and frame) are similar to Zay Flowers from Baltimore (Flowers is a tier or two higher with what he can do downfield) in that you will often see games like this, an average-per-catch that looks like what you see out of a running back who had a good game on the ground. The explosive plays will come, though. Just wait.

-Isaiah Hodgins scored the lone touchdown of the game for NYG on a 12-yard pitch and catch where he used his pure strength on a stiff arm to finish off the play into the end zone. Sterling Shepard had a catch for 6 yards and a drop, and Parris Campbell caught one ball that resulted in a 2-yard loss.


-Daniel Bellinger played the majority of the snaps with Lawrence Cager occasionally showing up on the field. Mike Kafka used 11 personnel for most of the game. Bellinger caught his one target for 8 yards and performed as usual in blocking roles. He was solid in the trenches, but he struggled to get across the face of his man when he needed to cut off the backside. It caused a TFL on one play and a stop at the line of scrimmage on another.


-Left tackle Andrew Thomas is human after all. He allowed 1.5 sacks on plays where he lost the initial angle and was unable to recover. He usually shows enough lower body adjustment to put himself back into the right position to make a save, but it appears his anchor is not 100%. Even though it was not his best day, those truly were his only losses of the day.

-Tyre Phillips and Ben Bredeson were the ones who paved the way on the best running gains we saw on the afternoon. Bredeson also did a fine job as a pass blocker, albeit against a low-level group of interior pass rushers. This is where Phillips struggled. He allowed 1.5 sacks and 3 hurries. His lockout game is a difference maker as a run blocker because of his length and heaviness. But in pass protection, where swifter footwork is necessary and the ability to react is more important, this is where he struggles. He did receive help from the tight end on occasion and it made a big difference. Considering Bellinger is not much of a threat in the passing game, I do feel that this is a better role for him. Help out then run a short-delayed route for dump-offs.

-Rookie center John Michael Schmitz allowed a pressure and a TFL. I am seeing a repeated problem with his outside zone blocking. He gives a bit too much ground (in an effort to get more downhill momentum) but the guy he is assigned to beats him to the spot and out-leverages him, creating more lost ground. Combine the two and the running back is multiple yards behind the line of scrimmage when he has to make his first adjustment. Schmitz gets the job done when he does not need to move far from the starting point, but he continues to struggle when he gets further away from it.

-Justin Pugh allowed 2 pressures and a TFL as well. He was the one getting pushed around when NYG tried to run left and did not have success. He is the one getting displaced and even though he can recover well, the point still remains. He is not getting enough movement at the point-of-attack.


-As I have said in previous reviews, there are always things to keep an eye on when it comes to the team and future. This was the first game Kayvon Thibodeaux has been on the field without Dexter Lawrence. Leonard Williams was traded weeks ago. So how did Thibodeaux respond to being the one guy on this front who needed to be schemed against? He finished with 5 tackles, 2 TFL, a half-sack, and a forced fumble. I thought it was some of the best run defense we have seen out of him and the reaction speed to screens (which NE ran a ton of) was excellent. Combine that with what I read about his preparation + leadership shown during the week, and I would say that is nearly as good as you can expect for Thibodeaux without Lawrence on the field.

-Jihad Ward and Azeez Ojulari essentially split reps. While they don’t exactly play the same role and alignments, Ward was on the field for 40 snaps, Ojulari 38. Ward is the one who played the better of the two and it was by a sizable margin. He finished with 5 tackles and 1.5 sacks. One of those came on a 3rd down in the fourth quarter, a big play in a big moment. It is the first time Ward has had more than 1 sack in a game over his 8-year career. Ojulari had a QB hit early on, but was shut down the rest of the game again.

-Benton Whitley, just recently signed off the Vikings practice squad, played three snaps and made an impressive play on a pass break up. He’s bounced around a few different practice squads since 2021. He is a heavy-handed, vertical threat with the straight-line burst to put some pressure on a tackle. He will also factor on special teams.


-A’Shawn Robinson and Rakeem Nunez-Roches were the starting interior defenders with Dexter Lawrence sitting out with a hamstring injury. Nothing against these two but what a difference it was to not have #97 in there. Robinson can hold his own and he plays an active game. He finished with 5 tackles and Nunez-Roches added one pressure.

-D.J. Davidson and Jordon Riley rotated in, and while they struggled to get off blocks in the passing game, I thought their stoutness against the run was solid. Where they currently struggle is shedding the blocks and making plays on the ball carrier. Riley missed two tackles.


-Bobby Okereke had another high-impact game. He had 8 tackles and added 3 pressures. He missed a tackle on a play that would have resulted in a sack. Mac Jones threw an interception right to him. He took possession of the ball inside the red zone and returned it 55 yards giving NYG the ball on the NE 26-yard line. This is the drive they ended up scoring the lone touchdown, further strengthening how big of a play it was.

-Micah McFadden added 6 tackles (with one miss), including one TFL on a play where he read the screen in a blink of an eye and broke on the receiver instantly.

-Isaiah Simmons had 2 tackles and a miss on a third down that resulted in a first down. His untouched pressure led to the Okereke interception. When McFadden missed a few snaps with a hand injury suffered by friendly fire, Simmons played the inside linebacker role. I noticed there and other alignments as well that he is simply late. That is the way to describe his game. Big-time athlete who can do a lot – but he is almost always late. Late to recognize, late to see, late to react.


-Adoree’ Jackson returned and remained outside with Deonte Banks on the other side and Cor’Dale Flott in the slot. I’ve always felt this has needed to be their trio of starters at the position. Jackson did miss two tackles, but he was steady in downfield coverage. Banks intercepted a pass in the first quarter near the sideline. Nice catch, good awareness and read. Banks has cleaned up some of his footwork in zone coverage and it is encouraging to see him advance throughout his rookie year. He had to offer a public apology for, you guessed it, a social media mistake. That really isn’t worth addressing here but I am glad he came out and played a solid game with a big play in a defensive battle. Banks does need to shore up some of his run-defense habits. They are borderline atrocious.


-Xavier McKinney is on a hot streak and it hit the climax on one of the better interceptions you are going to see a safety make in this league. It was a thing of beauty – the way he tricked Mac Jones into thinking he was dropping deep, knowing the route concept, breaking back down at the exact right moment so Jones had no idea, and then finishing the play off by coming down with the ball. Oh, and he led the team with 10 tackles and broke up another pass. While he was not perfect in coverage, he kept things in front of him and showed a good feel for what the Patriots were doing.

-Jason Pinnock played all 68 snaps and added 6 tackles, 1 of which went for a loss. With the number of screens and quick passes New England used, Pinnock did a nice job of getting to the action and disrupting. That quick trigger means a lot for this defense and even though he finds himself on the wrong side of blocks at times, he is getting the job done.


-K Randy Bullock: 1/1 (Made 42)
-P Jamie Gillan: 8 Punts / 45.4 avg – 40.3 net


-S Xavier McKinney, EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, WR Jalin Hyatt


-OT Tyre Phillips, EDGE Azeez Ojulari, RB Saquon Barkley


(1) Mac Jones is up there with the worst starting quarterbacks in the league. While the situation around him leaves much to be desired, it is hard to see where the future is. From my summary in 2021: “The upside is where I lose it a bit with him. He will be solid, but I don’t ever see him being great”. Remember this was after an all-time season with Alabama and there were rumors San Francisco was going to take him #3 overall (they opted for Trey Lance). He’s been yanked multiple times, he has gone backwards after a solid rookie season, and there simply isn’t anything to his game that stands out in a league where you need to have a trait or two that stand out.

(2) There is smoke surrounding Head Coach Bill Belichick. He’s been there since 2000 (the year Kerry Collins led NYG to the Super Bowl, Ron Dayne’s rookie season). He is 264-117 as the Head Coach for NE and he’s won 6 Super Bowls and 9 AFC Championships. But this team has gone 27-34 since Tom Brady left town. He has made several odd, head-scratching decisions involving the offense,  including operating without a true offensive coordinator in 2022, cutting Bailey Zappe in the preseason, and playing games with Jones’ status as the starter. Add in some odd draft decisions on that side of the ball that would have been harshly lambasted in any other city and it appears to be time. Would that be the end? Or does the 71-year old get another crack with a win-now team? Looking at you, Chargers.

(3) There is a good chance New England winds up with the first or second pick of the draft. Because they currently have no hope at quarterback and a pretty awful roster (especially on offense), one has to think they will press the restart button and draft one of the top 3 quarterbacks: Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, or Jayden Daniels. Does Robert Kraft bring back someone he loves in Josh McDaniels (for a third time)? Or does he go after the hottest name in the league in Bobby Johnson from Detroit? NYG fans should want that because you don’t want him calling the shots in Washington.


(1) The Giants head to their bye week with a 4-8 record (somewhat still in playoff contention by the way) before the final five games on the schedule. They have two matchups against the Eagles and three games against 5-6 teams (Packers, Saints, Rams). Three of the five are at home. Take away your desire for a high draft pick for a moment. What do you want to see out of this team? What can they use over those five games to help build the future? First of all, it is DeVito or bust the rest of the way. Each game that comes is another opportunity to answer a key question for the 2024 season. Who is the backup quarterback moving forward? Tyrod Taylor can come back to be second string, a nice security blanket. But DeVito has played better. He simply presents more upside and carries some unknowns with him. We know what Taylor is. That is the component that needs to be figured out.

(2) I’m not sure if “turnaround” is the right word for where the Giants are right now since their November 12th 49-17 loss in Dallas. But they have won two in a row and are +13 in turnover margin since week five. By the way, that ranks NUMBER ONE in the NFL. It is the BIGGEST margin of any 8-game span in the league all year. Yes, since October 8, NYG leads the NFL in turnover margin, one of the most sure-fire stats to impact wins and losses. Criticize the coaching staff all you want, but the truth is, they have steadied the ship. On both sides of the ball.

(3) The offensive line cannot be considered a strength, but like the team overall, it has become a reliable-at-times unit. Andrew Thomas being on the field means a ton. It cannot be understated. But watching them on tape, the unit simply looks cleaner. The first half of the season was full of defenders getting free runs to the backfield. We had blockers running into each other. And we had whiff after whiff. It is clear NYG will need to add a body or two in the offseason, that fact will not change. But can any of these guys be brought back to provide depth? Possibly even a starter spot? Chemistry means a lot and we cannot just assume they can fill these spots with a rookie or journeyman free agent. I do not believe spending big will be in their budget plans.

Nov 212023
Tommy DeVito, New York Giants (November 19, 2023)

Tommy DeVito – © USA TODAY Sports


-Tommy DeVito: 18/26 – 246 yards / 3 TD – 0 INT / 137.7 RAT

The ascent continues. DeVito went from a guy who the coaches did everything within their power to prevent from throwing a pass in a close game to producing the highest QB rating a Giants quarterback has had since September 23, 2018 (among games with 20+ passing attempts). In addition, the three touchdowns were the most by a Giants quarterback since Week 16 of 2019 (also a game against Washington). Say whatever you want about the future of the Giants quarterback situation, but what DeVito has done in a short time is nothing short of impressive. He did all of this on a day where he was sacked nine times. There were a few instances of mental mistakes, mainly holding onto the ball too long when the pass rushers outnumbered the blockers, but it was a clean game for the undrafted rookie. He sprayed the ball all over the field and came up with three high level balls while avoiding turnovers. I look forward to seeing if he can continue the climb.


-Saquon Barkley: 14 att – 83 yards / 4 rec – 57 yards – 2 TD

For the third straight week, Barkley averaged over five yards per carry. The last time he did that was in 2018, his rookie season. While he was fully contained on the ground in the first half (-2 yards on 6 carries), he made two elite catches, one being the first of two touchdown receptions. His explosive plays were vital to the team’s offensive success. He rattled off two 30+ yard runs and was responsible for 4 of the 7 largest gains for the offense. Barkley’s one dent was the fact he allowed two sacks. Running backs are not expected to sustain blocks for a long time, but he barely even made an impact on these two whiffs. This is an area of his game that has never solidified. All in all, the team does not win this game without this performance by Barkley.


-Despite missing the second half with a hand/wrist injury, Darius Slayton led the team with 82 yards on 4 catches, including a touchdown, his first of the season. On that play, we saw an impressive burst to the end zone after a subtle stutter-step that froze the WAS defender just enough to create that lane to the end zone. That kind of athleticism is part of what creates the optimism around his game. A drop on third down is what creates the frustration around his game. The up and down element to his game lives on.

-Wan’Dale Robinson had 3 catches for 35 yards, including an explosive play that gained 21 yards. That gain was essentially all him after the catch. We have seen the flashes over the last month that strengthen the notion he will be an important building block next season and beyond. I also noted a couple of high-effort blocks he made.

-Rookie Jalin Hyatt was thrown to twice and he caught one of them for seven yards. While it is disappointing that they seem to struggle getting him consistent targets, I am optimistic DeVito will throw the ball downfield to him in the coming weeks. The training wheels are coming off. One question I would like the answer to is how well does Hyatt know the playbook? While watching the game from the All-22, there were a couple plays where there appears to be miscommunication between the two. It is hard to tell who that’s on, but that could be a reason for the disconnect between what I think Hyatt can do and what opportunities he gets.

-Isaiah Hodgins added 22 yards on 2 catches and Sterling Shepard had 1 catch for 7 yards. The latter was targeted in the end zone as well.


-It was another full day for Daniel Bellinger. He had 38 yards on 3 catches and played most of the snaps. His 26-yard gain that ended just shy of a touchdown was his longest of the day. As Waller sits out, I am interested to see if the second-year pro from San Diego State gets some of his swagger back. Some players need a lot of reps to get and stay fresh. Bellinger did allow a TFL on a play where he lined up at fullback, but his blocking was better in this game than previous weeks.

-Tyree Jackson and Lawrence Cager shared spot duty and both were manhandled by the physical Washington front a few times. Neither were thrown to.


-On paper, the offensive line was torched. But on tape, it was not nearly as bad as the 9 sacks make it look and they had stretches of solid pass protection. While the OL still is a significant weakness that holds the offense back, they have now gone up a step on the ladder from dysfunctional to inconsistent. Having Andrew Thomas back is such a difference maker, and it is an easy example to point to when discussing the sheer value of a high-quality left tackle. He allowed one pressure and created good push it the running game.

-Tyre Phillips is a hit or miss blocker. Because he has lower body movement limitations, he needs to get the initial win. When he doesn’t, the odds of him coming out on top are slim when there are deeper drop backs. He allowed 2 pressures and 1.5 sacks in addition to being flagged for illegally blocking downfield. Justin Pugh allowed a sack and was poor in the run game. His initial punch does not displace or stand anyone up. Therefore, he needs to be incredibly precise and when he is off by just a little bit, the operation blows up. Jonathan Allen ate his lunch a few times.

-Ben Bredeson allowed two pressures and a half-sack and rookie center John Michael Schmitz had his worst game of the season. The latter allowed 2 TFL and a sack. I’ve highlighted his movement issues recently and it appears the league has caught onto them as well. The lateral speed and adjustments are a notch too slow, and it’s lessened his power impact. He was put on ice skates a few times and it disrupted the zone running game.


-Kayvon Thibodeaux shined once again as he lined up across from Washington left tackle Charles Leno. If you do not watch much outside of the Giants games, you may not know that Leno is probably one of the ten best pass-blocking left tackles in the game. About a month after Thibodeaux recorded 1.5 sacks vs. Washington in New York, he added 2 sacks, 3 pressures, 1 QB hit, and 5 tackles to his season total. He now has 10.5 sacks and is the first player in a Wink Martindale defense to reach double digits in that department. There are six games left. He won inside, he won outside, he won with burst, he won with power.

-Jihad Ward recorded a sack very much because of a pressure from Thibodeaux that made Sam Howell run right into his arms. He and Boogie Basham excel at controlling a gap but when it comes to lateral speed and adjustments, they’re awfully slow and lethargic. Brian Robinson ran for 73 yards, the second most of the year, and a lot of it stemmed from that lack of speed on the outside.

-Azeez Ojulari was nowhere to be found following a pressure he had early in the game. On 49 snaps, he had zero tackles and nothing outside that first pressure.


-Dexter Lawrence should pay rent for the amount of time he spent in the Washington backfield over their two matchups this season. He had 4 pressures, 2 TFL, and a sack. Double teams, single teams, and even triple teams do not stop the eventual All-Pro.

-A’Shawn Robinson played just over a third of the snaps but he came up big in big spots. He ended with 4 tackles, one of which was a big third-down stop, and added 2 pressures. That snap count works well for him because while I do not think he has the engine to play a full snap load, he can still be effective in flashes.

-Rakeem Nunez-Roches and D.J. Davidson spelled Robinson a lot through the second half. The former had a pressure and a tackle and the latter added one tackle. Nunez-Roches is a hustler, too. He was 20-30 yards downfield chasing guys down. That kind of effort matters, especially from a backup.


-Another active and productive game for the linebacker duo of Bobby Okereke and Micah McFadden. Okereke led the team with 14 tackles and forced two fumbles. McFadden added 8 tackles, one of which was for a loss, and recovered a fumble in addition to a pass break up. They both missed tackles, one of three by McFadden’s led to a touchdown. The two seem to feed off each other, displaying chemistry. Watch some of the top linebacker pairs in the league and you will see that often. They move off each other well and can control an extra gap. These two have been fun to watch.

-Isaiah Simmons made an impact play for the first time since being acquired via trade from Arizona 12 weeks ago. He intercepted Sam Howell (the team’s sixth forced turnover of the day) and returned it 54 yards for the pick-six. He added 3 tackles on the day and missed one. This could be the turning moment for Simmons that he needed.


-It was an active game for the young group. Rookie Deonte Banks allowed a touchdown but was otherwise very solid in coverage down the field. Cor’Dale Flott continued his ascent with a forced fumble and two tackles. These two have been positives we will look back on after the season when projecting the potential of this defense moving forward. Their movement traits are both outstanding, but looking at them from the All-22 is encouraging as well. Their feel and route recognition are notably better.

-Nick McCloud intercepted his first pass of his career in the first quarter to set the defensive tone. It was an outstanding play on a deep ball where he displayed speed, ball tracking, and hands on a diving, over-the-shoulder grab. McCloud is a nice player who was a key part to their secondary in 2022 who we have not seen much of this season. He also added a team-high two special teams tackles. He is a guy who wears multiple hats for this team that all good defenses have.

-Also picking off a pass was Darnay Holmes, who has done just enough to stick around over his four-year career. If he does shake free in the offseason, you can bet your bottom dollar he will get signed. It was his second pick of the year. Tre Hawkins struggled, leading the defensive backs in yards allowed, and he was flagged for illegal contact (a questionable call). A big part of the remaining balance of this season will be getting the young guys more and more snaps, Hawkins included. The tough question will be how much and at what expense? McCloud does more for this defense right now.


-Xavier McKinney and Jason Pinnock were on the field for 100% of the snaps yet again. McKinney deserves the mention, as he seems to be in the crosshairs of some because of comments to the media and a lack of playmaking overall. He was outstanding. He finished with 12 tackles, 1 TFL, and a fumble recovery. While he did get beat in coverage a few times, he did a nice job of containing and keeping the action in front of him. He was all over the field and played with a ton of grit and hustle.

-Dane Belton had 5 tackles and continues to add a needed physical element to the defense.

-Welcome to the playmaker’s list rookie Gervarrius Owens. He made a tackle and recovered a fumble on special teams. The safety room is crowded but this kind of experience will be good for the 7th rounder who opened eyes throughout preseason.


K Randy Bullock: 1/1 (Made 36)
P Jamie Gillan: 7 punts / 45.4 avg – 42.6 net


-EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, DT Dexter Lawrence, QB Tommy DeVito


-EDGE Azeez Ojulari, OC John Michael Schmitz, CB Tre Hawkins III


1. It’s safe to say the Giants have the Commanders number similar to what Dallas has done to the Giants in recent years. Different regimes, different quarterbacks, different personnel. No matter the case, NYG over WAS has become a near-given as of late. The one thing I sense about the Commanders, especially offensively, is the fact they have nobody on offense who truly scares you. Terry McLaurin is a solid player, but he won’t keep anyone up at night when preparing for them. They have plenty of quality wins against good opponents over this span of NYG dominance, but the fact they do not have any elite playmakers (and haven’t for a long time) is a key reason why they have not gotten over the hump.

2. With that in mind, this thought crossed my mind in relation to roster building. Would you rather have a couple of elite pieces you can build around but a lesser support system around them, or a solid supporting cast with volume of quality players but missing the elite pieces that are the cornerstones? Washington has a lot of usable pieces, but they no longer have the defining players. The Giants have a few elite players, but they’re missing the much-needed depth. Something to chew on.

3. Washington traded not one, but both, of their defensive ends who were heading toward free agency this upcoming March. They received a second-round pick from Chicago (likely a top 35 pick) and a third rounder from San Francisco (likely a top 96 pick). The writing was on the wall, as Washington already locked up the interior guys Jonathan Allen and DaRon Payne and the resources have to be spread out when it comes to the larger contracts. Sweat and Young will both be getting monster deals this offseason. It is a new era coming in Washington and the next move will be the firing of Ron Rivera. I cannot see him making it to 2024.


1. This is an awkward time of year for fans. They have their eyes firmly set on the NFL Draft. Any and every win lessens their chance of getting the top pick and the player they feel will change things around. I do understand it, but I’ve always felt it was a meaningless approach and a waste of time. Texans Head Coach Lovie Smith was crushed by the fans and media for a meaningless win last year at the end of the season. It pushed them out of the number one overall pick. Here they are a year later with the second quarterback taken and will end up as the comeback team of the season. It looks like they may have the next big thing at quarterback. We see examples of this all the time. Giants fans were upset they did not get Chase Young and had to settle for Andrew Thomas. The team needs to find the pieces on this roster who are worth building around. They need to find guys who are good at football and who can be relied upon. That is the goal. If they find them, it will lead to wins, period. This would be a net-positive even though it may mess with your mock drafts and fantasies.

2. Turnovers change everything. It took seven games for the Giants to reach six turnovers for the season. They took the ball away six times in this game alone. I can recall discussing the lack of turnovers early in the year (zero through 4 games) as being the defensive catalyst to poor play. The Giants are now +3 in turnovers on the year, an encouraging sign because that ratio is tied to win-loss as much as any stat in football. For me, it has been the pass rush that has led to increased number of turnovers. It is more effective, and it now has a true inside-out force. Add another piece (or two) and watch how much this will change the outcomes of games. The offense needs personnel improvements, yes. But the pass rush is close to being something that makes a true difference.

3. I am interested in seeing how this coaching staff handles the workload of Saquon Barkley moving forward. He is on pace for the most touches per game in a season over his entire career. We all know about the contract situation, and we all know there is nothing behind him who comes even close to matching what he can produce. There is a lot of football left and Barkley has proven to be a team-first guy, but if they do not slow down his usage, we could see him suffer another breakdown. Yes, “it is part of the game” but I do wonder if there will be a point where they pull him back a bit, especially if they plan to keep him around in 2024.

Nov 142023
Tyre Phillips, New York Giants (November 12, 2023)

Tyre Phillips – © USA TODAY Sports


-Tommy DeVito: 14-27 / 86 yards / 2 TD – 1 INT

The first career start for Tommy DeVito was his third game with extensive playing time. Even though the numbers look ugly, I can say there is progress with each one of these games. And this is the first time he prepared all week as the starter. Early on, as expected, there appeared to be a lack of rhythm and feel. He missed a couple of easy throws to the flat (equivalent to a layup in basketball or a routine ground ball for a shortstop in baseball) and then evaded non-existent pressure in the pocket, which in turn created pressure. DeVito got to show off his arm a few times and while there was an underthrow deep to Jalin Hyatt that resulted in an interception, he proved he can sling it well to the outside. DeVito can make the throws, he can create with his legs, and there is a toughness about him. With that said, it is glaringly obvious he is in over his head now and offers little chance at leading this team to a win against a quality opponent. It is worth noting that both of his touchdown passes, the second one specifically, were well-placed balls with tempo and touch. Remember, a win here would be DeVito cementing himself as a capable backup for the future.


-Saquon Barkley: 13 att – 66 yards / 1 rec – -5 yards

Another gutsy performance by Barkley who had minimal-to-no space to run through for most of the game. For the second straight week, he averaged over 5 yards per carry. That is the first time we have seen that since weeks 16/17 of 2019. They took him off the field late in the game as it got out of hand and there was no point in exposing him to more injury. Barkley was the victim of a couple poor throws by DeVito as well.

-Matt Breida and Jashaun Corbin got a couple looks late in the game but there was not anything noteworthy. Corbin did catch all three of his targets for 12 yards.


-Darius Slayton led the receiver group with 3 catches and 21 yards. There appeared to be some drama with him on the sideline and at the time of this writing, I’m not sure what happened. There is not much worth commenting on. But after a game where I simply don’t have much for you from an evaluation and analysis perspective, let me say this, the players are frustrated too. This does not even seem like competitive football at times. The offense can barely function and at any given point, it is understandable and even acceptable to see a player lose his cool on the sidelines. This happens more often than people think (on every sideline) but media coverage can sway viewers into thinking a certain way as they look for intra-game storylines in a matchup that offers very little to watch between the lines. That’s all.

-Sterling Shepard caught one pass for a two-yard touchdown. We do not know when he will catch his final touchdown in a Giants uniform and this could have easily been it.

-Wan’Dale Robinson had two catches for 6 yards and Paris Campbell had one catch for 6 yards. They also handed the ball off to Robinson once and even though it ended as a no-gain, it left me wanting to see more of him in this kind of offense. Robinson can be a key part to the team moving forward but we need to see the scheme force-feed him a bit more. Get his experience level up, let him show which plays he can make and which he cannot, and allow the coaches to gain chemistry with the skill set.

-Speaking of breeding experience for the sake of potential future gains, Jalin Hyatt had just one target again. It is the fifth time he has had 1 or less targets in a game. He is being thrown to, on average, once every 21 pass plays. He was underthrown, again. Hyatt almost seems too fast for the NYG quarterbacks no matter who is back there. The effortless burst and always-available next gear is fun to watch but there is much more to chew off here than what we have seen.


-Darren Waller was placed on Injured Reserve after suffering a hamstring injury before facing his former team last week. Daniel Bellinger and Lawrence Cager will see an uptick in playing time and snaps. Even though we have not seen much improvement in year two for Bellinger as a blocker, this set up will likely result in some increased effectiveness in the trenches. He led the team with 34 yards on 2 catches and Cager scored the first NYG touchdown on a 10-yard pitch and catch. His burst and agility showed up and reminded us what he can do in open space. A definite weapon for the Giants to try and use in the coming weeks.

-Tyree Jackson, a former quarterback, saw his first snaps with the Giants and was primarily in there to block.


-Andrew Thomas started at left tackle in consecutive games for the first time since the playoff loss in Philadelphia last January. He pitched a shutout, albeit on 32 out of 57 snaps because of an injured ankle. The positive is that he came back in after the injury and did not look too different than pre-injury. Signs point to him coming back and that means we do not need to watch more of Justin Pugh at left tackle. Thomas also made a couple of key blocks on running plays when they got him moving laterally.

-Pugh essentially split his snaps between left guard and tackle. He allowed 3 pressures and a QB hit and got tossed around in the running game. Pugh and rookie center John Michael Schmitz were displaced by Dallas defenders for most of the game, lacking anchor and balance. Schmitz spends too much time on the ground and the reaction speed looks labored. There are some Evan Neal traits here (no, I am not comparing the level of play to Neal) in that his ability to recover his body control when initially lost is concerning. It will be high up on the list of skills he needs to work on.

-The right side consisted of Ben Bredeson and Tyre Phillips. They both allowed 4 pressures and the latter allowed two sacks, the former allowing one. Bredeson was the bigger disappointment here and it caused issues with DeVito, who already seemed jittery in the pocket early on, as his pressures were right in the face of the undrafted rookie. Phillips at least made a positive impact as a run blocker on some of Barkley’s better runs while Bredeson just did not seem to compete.


-Kayvon Thibodeaux played just 40 snaps before leaving the game with a concussion. On those 40 snaps he did not register a single tackle or pressure. In three out of four games against Dallas, Thibodeaux has one pressure. One of the best performances of his career also came in a matchup against DAL in November of 2022 where he had 9 pressures as he abused Tyler Smith as a rookie (now their left guard).

-Azeez Ojulari returned from his ankle injury he suffered Week 5 in Miami. He played just 17 snaps but did show up a few times. He came up with a big 4th-and-1 stop and had 2 pressures. One of the few positives to keep an eye on in the coming weeks will be when he and Thibodeaux play together. We have not seen it much over the past year and a half.

-Boogie Basham saw an uptick in playing time and Jihad Ward continued his presence as the stout edge setter. Both missed a tackle and Ward added a QB hit, Basham added 4 tackles. For guys who are going to be near non-factors against the pass, I think they need better run game prowess than what they offer.


-Dexter Lawrence had one hurry and one QB hit as a pass rusher. This is the first time we have seen two consecutive “quiet” games out of the sure-thing All Pro. I thought his run defense was exceptional on two fronts, however. He created a logjam inside on multiple occasions that resulted in stops (wins for the defense) and made yet another impressive tackle on the move near the sideline. Do not underestimate how special that ability is from the A-Gap.

-I thought D.J. Davidson flashed late in the game where his snaps saw an uptick. He had 2 pressures and 2 tackles. He has shown a knack for getting to the passer via a strong bull rush. A’Shawn Robinson added 2 pressures and 2 tackles. He gets turned too often in the running game and it hurt the Giants in short-yardage situations. The high pad level has something to do with that. I also see a conditioning shortcoming when he is on the field for longer spurts. He had this issue in Los Angeles as well.

-Rakeem Nunez-Roches played 35 snaps for the second straight week. He made 3 tackles but was a non-factor on 17 pass rush attempts.


-Bobby Okereke and Micah McFadden were solid for most of the afternoon despite DAL averaging over 5 yards per carry. Okereke finished with 11 tackles and a QB hit. McFadden added 6 tackles, 1 TFL, and 1 pressure. Both are seeing the game well, much better than early in the year. I am going to mark them as a positive to this team moving forward which is important. Not having Leonard Williams up front is a problem, however, especially for McFadden. He is getting out-angled by offensive linemen and that is a result of the downgrade up front.

-Isaiah Simmons is a third-down defender and special teamer who remains more athlete than football player. NYG did not give up much for him but I would be lying if I said I was not disappointed by the lack of impact.


-Deonte Banks is inching toward the league lead in flags. He needs to learn to play with and trust his feet. The movement traits are all there. He knows it and we know it. It is easy to see. But when a player gets this grabby it is a sign he lacks the confidence in his ability to make the right reads. That is where he resides right now and good receivers/quarterbacks know how to take advantage of it with lots of double routes and late breaks. This will be the approach with him until he proves he can be better.

-Cor’Dale Flott and Darnay Holmes both picked off Prescott. Flott left the game early with a shoulder injury, opening the door for a lot of different players to try and slow down the Dallas secondary. Simply put, they were burned badly. CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks combined for 20 catches / 324 yards / 2 TDs.

-Nick McCloud allowed 5 catches on 6 targets, Tre Hawkins allowed a 41-yard touchdown where he struggled to locate the ball, Holmes gave up 128 yards on 8 targets. No matter who the Giants threw out there, it was ugly. And the Dallas first stringers did not even play the entire game.


-With the instability at corner (and Adoree’ Jackson being out to begin with) we saw more multiple safety packages. Xavier McKinney and Jason Pinnock were still the mainstays, combining for 19 tackles. McKinney performed better in coverage and Pinnock missed two tackles.

-Dane Belton and Bobby McCain saw most of their snaps in the second half. McCain allowed a touchdown but also broke up a pass while Belton allowed a 28-yard reception on the one pass he was targeted on. He also added a pressure. McCain has surprisingly seen very little action this year, as I thought he would take on the hybrid Julian Love role. Belton is still the guy I want to see more of down the stretch because I want to have a better grasp of what he is. There is talent here but he does not show the proper feel. That could simply be an experience thing.


-K Randy Bullock: 1/1 (Made 40)
-P Jamie Gillan: 7 punts / 50.0 avg – 45.9 net


-OT Andrew Thomas, DT Dexter Lawrence, CB Cor’Dale Flott


-OG Ben Bredeson, CB Darnay Holmes, Nick McCloud


1. Is Dallas as good as some want to believe? I have leaned on point differential when looking at season-long success and evaluation. It is not the only marker, but it does break ties in my head. Dallas is +104 nine games into the season. That is third best in the NFL. But look at these wins they have. 40-point win over NYG, 20 point win over NYJ, 35 point win over NE, 3 point win over LAC, 23 point win over LAR, 32 point win over NYG. Their losses? 12-point loss vs. ARI. 32-point loss vs. SF, 5-point loss vs. PHI. It does not take much analysis to realize they’re head and shoulders above the worst teams in the NFL, but I still have a hard time accepting they are in the same tier with the best the NFL has to offer.

2. DeMarcus Lawrence is playing some of the best football of his career. The 31-year-old is turning into another Cameron Jordan-type player on the back half of his career. Early on he evolved into a double-digit sack guy and league leader in pressures. While his pure pass-rush effectiveness might be a tad less, it is still well above average, and his run defense has turned into an elite trait for an edge defender. This is something all young edge guys should be watching, Thibodeaux included. His power, strength, and techniques have constantly improved, and he is now an every-down threat, one who can line up all over the defensive line.

3. The one area this offense needs to improve the most is in the red zone. This is where they miss Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore and running back Ezekiel Elliot the most. Their offensive line is more than good enough, and their weapons are too. The play calling and execution are not. If they want to win multiple games in January, those hidden points are going to be the deciding factor.


1. Something to keep an eye on I the coming two months of football. How much does Dexter Lawrence and Kayvon Thibodeaux need another big defensive line performer to do their jobs at a high level effectively? Lawrence is playing at better defensive tackle than everyone in the NFL now. Nine weeks in, I can say that with confidence. Thibodeaux is up and down, understandably so with what has been going on around him and the skill set he currently possesses. But since the trade of Williams to Seattle, we can make the case they have been a bit quiet in the passing game compared to where they were. I like Jordon Riley and I like D.J. Davidson, but I am not sold they are the kind of player who will line up next to Lawrence rather than behind him. If we see a quiet Lawrence + Williams duo the rest of the way, another inside pass rusher needs to be a priority in the offseason.

2. At some point we need to start seeing more of Tre Hawkins and Jordon Riley. If/when Gervarrius Owens is up to speed and fully healthy, he needs to be in that group as well. While the Giants offense needs to be the primary focus next offseason, we cannot overlook a defense that has allowed the 4th-most points in the league, 2nd-most yards per attempt in the passing game, and 4th-most yards per rush. I think many are overlooking how bad this defense really is simply because they were solid against the Jets, Commanders, and Bills. And NYG needs a strong grasp on what these guys are.

3. I’ll honest and transparent here. This game review was hard to do. Re-watching that twice from different angles was hard to do. It feels like I am not breaking down professional football right now. But when it comes down to what I am supposed to do for Eric and BBI, I suck it up and do the job the best I can. There is still a lot of football to break down and there are certain players to keep an extra close eye on regarding the future. What disappoints me now is watching how some (not all) members of the media and some (not all) members of the NYG organization cannot seem to maintain integrity and respect for the people that provide the money that allow them to work in football for a living. Made up stories. Trashing a player for spending time with his family. Lame attempts late on a Monday night to act in a condescending manner to fans on X. Yes, all are signs of a losing franchise (an all-time losing team and run of losing teams) but the character of some of these guys can be tough to look past. Break the game down, agree of disagree respectfully, keep the other stuff out. You know who you are, too.

Nov 072023
Deon Jackson, Justin Pugh, Evan Neal; New York Giants (November 5, 2023)

Dejection – © USA TODAY Sports


-After missing three games with a neck injury (his second in three years), Daniel Jones was back under center for NYG. He looked rusty, air mailing a simple throw to Saquon Barkley in the flat, misfiring to Darius Slayton which should have been intercepted, and overthrowing Jalin Hyatt on a deep route by four yards on a route where he had three steps on the corner. To rub salt in the wound of what has been just a torturous 2023 season for him and the Giants, he went down with a non-contact knee injury in the second quarter. Jones walked off the field on his own but as of the time of this writing, the likely result is a ligament tear that will need season-ending surgery.

-Tommy DeVito came in for the second straight game as Tyrod Taylor was placed on IR. The undrafted rookie led the offense last week with training wheels, a life jacket, and bubble wrap surrounding his body. This time around, the Giants coaches let him play football. The results were what one would expect out of someone who nobody in the league wanted to draft last April. He did end up completing 15 of 20 passes for 175 yards including his first career touchdown pass. He, too, underthrew Hyatt on a potential touchdown and it resulted in his first of two interceptions (the second one was not his fault). He ran himself into a couple sacks as well but considering all the circumstances, DeVito competed. He showed the offense can be run through him well enough to at least use the entire playbook. This is who the Giants will be using for at least the next three weeks, and I look forward to seeing the opportunity for growth out of the local kid. The glass half-full approach with him is the fact he will compete hard and brings an element of toughness and athleticism to the field. We are not watching Jake Fromm or Mike Glennon.


-Saquon Barkley: 16 att – 90 yards / 3 rec – 23 yards

A week after carrying the ball more than any NFL running back since 2017, Barkley played another solid game when looking at his per-touch average (5.9). This is a positive considering we have seen poor games out of him following big usage in the past. Barkley took a nasty blow to the ribs/throat that caused him to miss a few snaps. He was in obvious discomfort throughout the rest of the game but continued to gut out physical, hard-nosed runs. He had a couple plays where the elite movement traits showed up. Barkley moves like very few guys at his size can and it is nice to see he still has it along with a team-first mentality within this dumpster fire of a season. One must wonder how much he truly will want to push through pain over the second half of the season.

-Matt Breida added 11 yards on 3 touches, one of them being a catch and Deon Jackson got a carry late in the game when it was out of hand.


-Wan’Dale Robinson caught the lone touchdown of the game added 35 yards on 4 receptions. He is not even a year removed from his 2022 ACL injury and while timelines have quickened when it comes to recovery, getting back to a full 100% does take a year-plus. I see his movement traits improving as the year goes on and the best is still ahead for the second-year pro.

-Darius Slayton led the team with 59 yards on 4 catches but also had a ball bounce off his hands and ending in an interception. I was impressed with his blocking on the edge on a couple of the big Barkley runs.

-Jalin Hyatt beat the LV secondary on three occasions in which the ball was thrown his way. On all three plays, the quarterback misfired. Hyatt still came down with an amazing, body-twisting grab on the first one, but Jones put it a bit too close to the sideline and Hyatt came down out of bounds. Then there was an overthrow, then there was an underthrow. This kid can make things happen and he did his job, but the quarterbacks did not. Hyatt did catch two balls underneath for 19 yards and fumbled (which was recovered by NYG).

-Parris Campbell caught 2 passes for 15 yards and Isaiah Hodgins dropped the one target thrown his way.


-Darren Waller was put on IR with a hamstring injury, opening the door again for Daniel Bellinger who has had a rough go this season. He caught 3 passes for 43 yards and while I did see a slight improvement as a blocker, the overall performance in that department still fell below average. His initial contact was clean and physical, but the lack of latch showed up with both him and Lawrence Cager. Bellinger was also flagged for a false start prior to a 4th-and-inches conversion attempt.


-Left Tackle Andrew Thomas finally returned from a hamstring injury suffered Week One after Graham Gano’s field goal attempt was blocked on that rainy night in early September. It is amazing how long ago that seems and what has transpired since that game. While Thomas’ did seem to lose his body control at times (likely a result of not being in game shape), it was the best left tackle play this team has had all season by a country mile. He allowed a pressure and a half-sack but showed some highlight-reel caliber blocks in the running game. If you do not watch much outside of NYG football or focus much on offensive line play, do yourself a favor and watch Thomas. This is how the job is supposed to be done and it is a great barometer to use for evaluating other linemen. It is then easy and obvious to see just how far away the rest of this line is, unfortunately. Nonetheless, it was great to see Thomas out there and I expect his conditioning to improve in time.

-After missing three games with an ankle injury, Evan Neal injured his other ankle on a play where Maxx Crosby put the second-year pro on his butt. I want to say this is some bad luck for Neal, but I cannot get past this at least partially being the result of poor footwork and insecure movement traits. Neal just looks further and further away from a pro athlete the more I study him. He has a hard time picking up those feet and staying centered. I can see the oversetting, the lack of reaction speed, and the lack of mental anticipation leading to the ankles/feet not being where they need to be. Throw that on a 325+ pounder and things like this happen. Neal also reached for his oblique after a play, showing obvious pain. As for his game, he allowed 1.5 sacks and a pressure in addition to the 4th-and-1 false start on the first drive that drew the ire of Daboll. It was not all bad and ugly for Neal, as he did have a few wins against Crosby and his run blocking was a positive difference maker.

-The interior was the best trio we have seen this season. Justin Pugh moved back to his more natural position (left guard) and while he did allow 3 pressures, his game was mistake free mentally. That has been a significant cause of line problems this year and he communicated and reacted well along with center John Michael Schmitz, who allowed just one pressure. The versatile Ben Bredeson shifted over to right guard and finished with the lowest grade on the line. He allowed 1.5 sacks (one could be argued was not his fault), 1 pressure, and 1 TFL. All three were solid in the running game and I would sign up for this caliber of performance out of them for the rest of the year right now.


-Following on the best game of Kayvon Thibodeaux’s season was one of his worst. He was shut out as a pass rusher and his run defense, especially in the first half, was terrible. He was dancing around blockers rather than taking them on which created creases for Josh Jacobs to burst through. He showed no feel for the misdirection plays, played too much catch up, and he missed two tackles. He did pick it up a bit in the second half when things were more predictable but it was a game to forget for him.

-Jihad Ward was stouter and played his best game of the season, finishing with 3 tackles and a TFL. This matchup was more up his alley with a smash-mouth running game and scaled back version of a passing game.


-Leonard Williams spent Sunday afternoon in Baltimore playing for the Seahawks. A’Shawn Robinson got the start in place of him and played an excellent game. He had 6 tackles, including one for a loss, and caused another TFL via penetration. He played half the team’s defensive snaps for the first time since last November while playing with the Rams. Rakeem Nunez-Roches played five more snaps in his backup role, making one tackle.

-Dexter Lawrence was game-planned around and run away from. He saw a ton of double/triple teams but still finished with three tackles and had multiple “teach tape” plays against the run. He has such a unique ability to play big and wide but with tremendous pad level and leverage. There is a lot to be unhappy about in Giants land right now, but Lawrence (and Andrew Thomas) are among the best the game has at their positions right now and maybe the best ever NYG has had at their respective positions in franchise history.


-Micah McFadden is getting better every week. He does something very few linebackers can do. Immediately, post-snap, he runs to a spot and beats the blocker by a mile and will even beat the ball carrier there. That is something that made Luke Kuechly the game’s best linebacker for a few years. He finished with 6 tackles and 2 TFL. Bobby Okereke had 7 tackles and a TFL of his own. These two lead the NFL off-ball linebacker duos in tackles for loss.

-Isaiah Simmons added 3 tackles on 13 snaps.


-Deonte Banks was put in a blender off the line in this one. Jakobi Meyers and Davante Adams, both top-shelf route runners, had their way with him. Rookie Tre Tucker also torched him for a long completion. He needs a better plan in press coverage, and he seemed a bit too lackadaisical, not being set pre-snap. He has not earned that right, yet. He did have a nice pass break-up and 7 tackles, along with 1 missed tackle.

-Adoree’ Jackson missed half of the game with an injury to nobody’s surprise. Versatile defensive back Nick McCloud stepped in and did not have to do much. Cor’Dale Flott manned the slot for most of the game again. Nobody in the defensive backfield had a strong game but I am happy to see Flott becoming more aggressive because it means he is becoming more confident.


-Jason Pinnock and Xavier McKinney were active, as the LV running game had several runs that went through the second level of the defense. Pinnock had 3 tackles and a pass break-up as he fought through a lower body injury. McKinney led the team with 10 tackles and had a pressure, one of just three on the day for the defense.

-Dane Belton played 18 snaps, the second most of the season, and added 3 tackles with some physical play. This guy has some of the heaviest and most violent contact on the defense. If his mental game catches up to the physical talent, this defense has something.


-K: N/A
-P Jamie Gillan: 4 punts / 42.3 avg – 40.8 net


-WR Wan’Dale Robinson, LB Micah McFadden, RB Saquon Barkley


-CB Deonte Banks, ED Kayvon Thibodeaux, OG Ben Bredeson


1. Head Coach Josh McDaniels was fired just days before this matchup. He made it through just 25 games. The Raiders have not had the same head coach for more than four consecutive seasons since Art Shell in the early 90’s. Where do they go next? I am very curious to see how Antonio Pierce handles the back half the season here. The former Giants linebacker was made for coaching and when I saw him get linked up with Arizona State in 2018, I had a feeling he would end up in this exact role. Will he go elsewhere like Dan Campbell did after being an interim head coach in 2015 with Miami? Or will Las Vegas hold onto him? This organization loves to go after the headline names, but I think Pierce, like Campbell, will be the proper fit to form a real culture.

2. Next up? The quarterback. Nobody truly believes Jimmy Garoppolo is the long-term answer. Even though I have talked to people I respect when it comes to quarterback play who say Aidan O’Connell can start in this league, I cannot get behind him on a win-now team. The trade for Adams last year and the extension of left tackle Kolton Miller and Maxx Crosby makes them win-now. Add in the type of ownership they have and the fact they will not be within striking distance of a top quarterback in the draft makes me think they could be the team that pursues a quarterback via trade next offseason. Who could that be? Kyler Murray, Justin Fields, and the crazy one that I think could have some legs to it is Dak Prescott.

3. Maxx Crosby is one of the top three edge defenders in the NFL. Myles Garrett must be number one and then it gets cloudy. Bosa and Watt are there but when I watch Crosby, I just see a guy who makes more impact snap to snap. Because he is on a bad team, he may not have the respect he deserves. This guy has played 98% of the team’s snaps this year, 96% in 2022. Bosa? 79% / 74%. Watt? 83% / 83%. Garrett? 79% / 79%. Crosby – the league leader in pressures, sacks, and TFL – is a 4th rounder from Eastern Michigan and an absolute rock in the locker room. He is only 26-years old.


1. The season is over for Daniel Jones. While there will be several discussions surrounding his status with the team from now up until Draft weekend, this will be the last time I address him in game reviews. First, I don’t believe Jones is going anywhere. He will not be traded, he will not be released. The contract is structured in a way where they can’t really do anything with him unless they want to absorb a record-type dead cap hit. Even if they go after a quarterback in the draft, it would be wise to keep him around for 2024 (see Kansas City following the Mahomes selection). In the same breath, Jones did not do anything to cement his status with the team beyond 2024. Whether you think he had a fair shot or not is irrelevant. If NYG is in position to take a guy they think can be a big-time quarterback, they absolutely must go in that direction. But they must make sure it is the right guy. See you in the offseason.

2. Sticking with the quarterback position. What happens when Tyrod Taylor returns? All accounts point toward him being available in a few weeks. He is the (well-paid) backup. He gives this team the best shot to win. I know many fans want the losses to pile up for the sake of the 2024 Draft, but you know the coaches and players will not sign up for that. Taylor is going to be the quarterback and he should be. The only way that changes is if DeVito comes back and plays lights out. Anything is possible and I do like a few things about him. I would like to see if he can continue to progress on some of these downfield throws. Even if he can solidify the QB2 role on this team, that is a big deal moving forward based on economics.

3. Through 8 weeks of the season, the Raiders did not score 20 points once. In this matchup against the Giants defense that was relatively healthy, they scored 24 points in the first half with a Day Three rookie at quarterback. While I understand much of the talk will center around Jones, the injury, and the lack of scoring (rightfully so), this defense was such a letdown in a game where they could have kept it close. As we are learning, such is life when having your defense run by Wink Martindale. Peaks and valleys. More valleys than peaks.

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

Kayvon Thibodeaux – © USA TODAY Sports


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Tyrod Taylor – © USA TODAY Sports


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Oct 172023
Bobby Okereke, New York Giants (October 15, 2023)

Bobby Okereke – © USA TODAY Sports


-Tyrod Taylor: 24/36 – 200 yards / 0 TD – 0 INT / 80.8 RAT

Taylor added 24 yards on 5 carries. The 180th pick (round 6) from Virginia Tech was drafted by the Ravens in 2011. He was later signed by Buffalo in 2015. At the time, Buffalo was ready to give up on 2013 first rounder E.J. Manuel and they had traded for New England backup Matt Cassel to add more intra-squad competition. Taylor won the job in preseason, earned a Pro Bowl nod, and was re-signed to a 5-year deal the following offseason. He was their guy. Taylor had an up-and-down three-year stint with team, but did lead them to 22-20 record over three seasons as the starter, including a playoff birth in 2017 before being let go as new management settled in.

This was Taylor’s first game back in Buffalo as the starter. The 34-year-old arrived as a Giant playing behind the league’s worst offensive line against a team that was top five defensively up front. A 15.5-point underdog. All these chips stacked against him, and I admire how well he played. He did not turn it over, he got it out on time, he knew where to go with the ball and when, and he took some shots downfield. The bar was not set high for Taylor, a guy I have always thought deserved another shot at a starting job. But there is no question his mental gaffe of checking to a run with :14 left and no timeouts from the BUF-1 yard line was a game-altering mistake. Experience or no experience, starter or backup, that was a juvenile error. I walked away with a positive vibe when it comes to Taylor, and Daniel Jones should learn a thing or two from him, but that mistake left a cloud over his performance.


-Saquon Barkley: 24 att – 93 yards / 4 rec – 5 yards

After missing weeks three through five games with an ankle injury, Barkley was back on the field after a week of uncertainty. I expected him to be eased back in, but as I said last week, this offense absolutely needs to be run-heavy. Even more run-heavy than you think. He was not eased back in. Barkley played 60 out of 77 snaps, which comes out to 78% and that is right where his career average is on a per game basis. He had 24 out of the team’s 29 rushing attempts from the backfield. He’s touched that number in one game just five times over his pro career. Barkley ran hard, put his head down, stayed decisive, and create a lot on his own. This was the hungry version of 26 that we have seen sporadically, and it makes everything else better. Without looking too far into the future and getting ahead of ourselves, this is the version of Barkley this team needs to be competitive. The one negative was an allowed sack in pass protection.

-Matt Breida and Eric Gray added 15 yards on 5 carries and nothing in the passing game.


-Subtly, this has been a tough group to study and write about over the first third of the season. The offense is broken, making it tough for them to get consistent looks. The most talented player, Jalin Hyatt, is rarely even looked at in the passing game; the offensive minds spent too much time force feeding Parris Campbell; and Daniel Jones has struggled to get them clean looks when the rare opportunities were there. In this game, their top three of Darius Slayton, Wan’Dale Robinson, and Hyatt combined for 18 targets, 15 catches, and 152 yards.

-Hyatt being involved (and the play-calling going run-heavy) made this offense feel different. While his box score stats do not jump off the screen, just the mere fact they were trying to go his way and he did come down with a 43-yard gain (called back by a bogus penalty on Evan Neal) changed how Buffalo played the receivers. Add in a 31-yard gain to Slayton and another shot downfield to him later (that he dropped), we now have proof this offense can make explosive plays happen in the passing game. Hopefully Jones took that in.

-Robinson is picking up steam. He was targeted 8 times, catching all 8. In fact, he has caught 22 of 25 targets this season. Out of the 95 receivers in the NFL with 14+ targets, Robinson has the highest catch percentage. While it is not anything to go crazy about (his 3.4 average depth of target ranks 93rd), I like how reliable he is becoming for an offense that will need a guy to be a 3rd-and-manageable weapon to keep moving the chains. His game is getting cleaner weekly.


-Darren Waller caught 5 passes for 42 yards, 3 of which went for a first down. He was targeted on the final two plays of the game. The original plan of this offense was going to be very much about Waller and the impact he had on the passing game in the red zone. I liked the play call, I liked the ball placement, I liked the effort to go up and get it. He was clearly held by BUF nickel Taron Johnson and it prevented him from another few inches on his leap toward the ball. That could have and should have been his first touchdown of the season. Waller had a positive impact on the passing game but was a huge liability in the running game. He allowed 2 TFL and was constantly blown up by linebackers and defensive linemen. This is a tricky situation if NYG stays run-heavy. While I have seen worse from some of the receiving threats at the position in the trenches, Waller will be a major speed bump to the offensive progress if he is asked to block often.

-Daniel Bellinger played 41 snaps and was not looked at in the passing game. He was average as a run blocker, but they did use him for pass blocking support, and he did well in that role.


-In a comedy of errors, the offensive line hits kept on coming soon after the start of the game. Justin Pugh, “signed off the couch” as he put it, was the starting left guard and Josh Ezeudu started another game at left tackle as Andrew Thomas remains out with a hamstring injury. On the tenth offensive play of the game for NYG, Ezeudu went out with a toe injury and Pugh was now playing left tackle against future Hall of Famer Von Miller. He allowed 2 sacks and was flagged for 2 false starts. In a normal situation, Pugh would be on a fast track to the Dud List. But considering the circumstances, I’m not going to come down on a guy who likely was not supposed to see the field for another week or two, and certainly not left tackle (a spot he played 5 snaps at in 2021, and zero between then and 2015). It was fun watching the Giants’ 2013 first round pick. Physically, it is easy to tell he is a shell of what he was (an average offensive lineman). However, the know-how and quickness in his feet combined with accurate hands show what the basics can do for an offensive lineman. Hold the horses on considering him a savior to the offensive line; he is still going to see his fair share of losses up front. But tip of the cap to him and he feels safer than a Jalen Mayfield, Markus McKethan-type.

-The team helped Evan Neal out by rolling away from him, getting the ball out fast, and providing help. While he did have a few wins on an island, there are still too many whiffs and too many instances of poor footwork. He allowed 3 TFL on plays where he needed to be faster laterally and/or to the second level. His best snaps were straight ahead run blocking where spacing was not as hard to manage. Overall, still a negative game grade and this is not including the phantom illegal blocking downfield penalty he was called for.

-Mark Glowinski ended positive, as he played both guard spots. Ben Bredeson finished with an average grade. They each allowed one TFL and one pressure. The negatives for them occurred on second-level blocks. They were both slow off the defensive lineman to peel up to the second level and BUF linebacker Terrel Bernard ran right by them multiple times. In relation to what we have seen this season, however, they were not bad.

-Markus McKethan lost his starting job to Pugh. However, following the injury to Ezeudu, he played nearly every snap. NYG did have more success running right than left and McKethan was a part of that. Like Neal, he is effective when run blocking because he can move guys off the ball and create some space. He allowed 2 pressures and graded out below average overall.


-Kayvon Thibodeaux finished with 4 pressures, which led the team, and just 1 tackle. He had a missed tackle, which would have been a sack. Nearly all his pass rush wins were initial victories that stem from his get off and outside rushing ability. Once stonewalled, he had a hard time breaking free from contact.

-Jihad Ward played 41 snaps, second most of this season, as Azeez Ojulari was out with an ankle injury. He had 2 tackles and 1 pressure. Fellow ex-Buffalo Bill Boogie Basham had another quiet, ineffective night on 9 snaps.


-The Dexter Lawrence / Leonard Williams duo has not yet been what we saw last season, but both played 80+% of the defensive snaps for the first time in 2023. Williams was more active against the run, finishing with 6 tackles while Lawrence played more into the block-eater and pass rusher roles. He had 3 pressures. Both were flagged for personal fouls on a fight in the third quarter that I will discuss below.

-The backup trio Rakeem Nunez-Roches, A’Shawn Robinson, and rookie Jordon Riley saw limited snaps and we did not see much other than assists from any of them. Nunez-Roches saw the most snaps and had two plays where he was stout and slippery against the BUF double team. His upside is not high, but I do like the energy and attitude he brings.


-Bobby Okereke is on a hot streak. He has been on a steady ascent for three weeks with his best performance as a Giant coming in this game. He led the team with 11 tackles, 2 TFL, and 2 PD. He also forced a fumble that Micah McFadden recovered and tipped a pass that McFadden intercepted. He is making high-difficulty tackles in space and he also delivered a violent downhill blow to BUF running back Damien Harris that sent him to the hospital with a neck injury. I never, ever want to see a player taken off the field on a stretcher and I am glad to report it looks like everything checked out. But the impact Okereke made in this game was all over the field and as elite as you are going to find in this game. McFadden finished second with 7 tackles and added 2 pressures in addition to the two turnovers. Excellent and impactful game by these two.

-Isaiah Simmons saw his playing time regress to the mean (11 snaps vs. 54 a week ago). He spied Josh Allen, one of the best scrambling quarterbacks in the game, a couple of times and added 1 tackle, 1 pressure.


-Rookie first rounder Deonte Banks is an ascending player. I track all rookies for Ourlads and he is playing the best among rookies at the position over the past two weeks (now that Christian Gonzalez is on IR). His coverage against Stefon Diggs showed elite movement and improved feel. He still gets a little grabby, as he was flagged for illegal contact (it was declined), but the route anticipation and trust in his speed has come a long way. He looks like best corner on this team already.

-Another young corner who is showing encouraging signs is Cor’Dale Flott. There were a couple of negative plays but when looking at him from snap to snap from the slot, he gives this team the best shot to defend passes. His movement is clean and crisp, but he is late to find the ball at times and he is good for a missed tackle each week (he had one in the game). Nevertheless, the combination of him and Banks looks positive when projecting long term.

-Adoree’ Jackson was also flagged (yes, all three corners were) and missed some time with a neck injury. He did come back on the field though. His reliability in coverage seems to be dropping. He allowed all 4 targets thrown his way to be completed for 63 yards and he missed a tackle. He is trending in the wrong direction.


-Jason Pinnock and Xavier McKinney played every snap once again. If nothing else, these two are consistent and available this season when it comes to staying on the field. It is rare to see a starting safety duo six games into a season not miss a single snap, which they have done. They combined for 10 tackles (more importantly zero misses), 1 pressure, and just one reception allowed. McKinney was close on a couple of errant Allen passes. I smell a big play from him coming.

-Dane Belton played 14 snaps and left the game early with an injury. He allowed 2 of 3 targets in his direction to be completed and he finished with 2 tackles. He was mistake-free against the run in contrast to his multiple blunders last week in Miami.


-K Graham Gano: 3/3 (Made 29, 43, 29)
-P Jamie Gillan: 4 punts / 50.2 avg – 49.8 net


-LB Bobby Okereke, CB Deonte Banks, WR Wan’Dale Robinson


-CB Adoree’ Jackson, DL Jihad Ward, TE Darren Waller


1. The Bills are an extremely volatile team. It should not surprise anyone because their quarterback is an extremely volatile player. He near single-handedly lost them the game in Week 1 against the Jets and we have seen this several time before out of him. In such a jam-packed AFC, they can beat anyone any given Sunday, but it seems so unlikely they will be able to string a bunch of positive performances together. Last year, they barely beat a Dolphins team in the postseason (by 3 points) with rookie 7th rounder Skylar Thompson playing quarterback. Allen turned the ball over three times in that game. They lost a week later by 17 at home to CIN in Allen’s lowest QB rating game of his career. Their defense had one of the most epic collapses in NFL history the year prior at Kansas City that ended their season. Buffalo is a good squad, but I do not trust them or their quarterback.

2. Defensive Tackle Ed Oliver is one of the most volatile players in the league. The ninth overall pick from the 2019 Draft flashes dominant performances every year. But when looking at the week-to-week, season-to-season contribution, he is very up-and-down. My scouting report on him coming out of Houston in 2019 read “…one of the more polarizing prospects in the class…I have never seen a DT move like him…won’t be able to handle NFL linemen…needs to improve his staying power and stay at home defense…” The Bills signed him to a big, 4-year extension this past offseason and I thought it was a terrible move considering they’re no longer in the cheap-quarterback tier. This team will need to spend on the offensive and defensive lines soon, but the money tied up into Oliver is going to make that a struggle. There is a reason why BUF can be run on up the middle. It’s him.

3. What is the barometer for coaching success in today’s NFL? Consistent production? Or a Super Bowl win? Or a Super Bowl appearance? How long does one get? Giants fans would likely sign on for a Sean McDermott run. He took over in 2017. Since then, they’ve won 70 games (third best), made the playoffs five times (missed once), and finished first place in the division three times. They’re extremely balanced offensively / defensively and they’re dominant at home (40-16). All of that and yet I do not see a team that can rise above their volatile play. Would BUF ever consider a move at head coach? It seems wild and I know the grass is not always greener on the other side, but their window is going to shrink yearly now that they’re paying a quarterback. I do think it is a fair question. Is McDermott the guy who will bring a Lombardi Trophy to Buffalo? Does it matter? I think it does.


1. Daniel Jones had a front row seat to Taylor’s return to Buffalo. What did I see that Jones can try and learn from? Two things stand out. Taylor was MUCH better at getting the ball out. There was no hesitation, no fear in his game. Jones, on multiple occasions since that win in ARI, failed to do this consistently. Taylor was playing against a top-tier pass rush matched up against horrid offensive line, too. The OL did play a notch better than in previous weeks, but they were still getting beat almost every snap. We did not hear about it nearly as much and that was a result of who was playing quarterback. Two, Taylor keeping eyes downfield and throwing it deep (even on broken plays) changed the perception of the offensive threats. It did create explosive plays. It did soften the safeties against the run. It did keep some aggression by the defense at bay. Jones is the starter and should be the starter. But Taylor did a couple things better than what I have seen from Jones this season. Time to step up.

2. On one play, Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, and Kayvon Thibodeaux all received personal fouls for their involvement in a fight against a trio of Buffalo offensive players. All penalties were offset, thus no negative result ensued. I think there is a time and place for actions like this. I also think certain players have more allowance for actions like this. Last year I spoke about the nucleus of this defense being those three (and Ojulari). And I’ll tell you what, I applaud all three for their action in that situation. They chose the right time and place, it was a result of Thibodeaux taking a late hit. BUF scored two plays later, though. They also scored on their next offensive drive. NYG held this team to 0 points through three quarters. The fight happened, BUF then scored 14 points in just over 10 minutes of game clock. I am all about a personal foul to show you have a teammate’s back. But the next step is to prevent the other team from getting the last laugh and stuffing it back in their face with a real game-altering result. Another sign this defense just isn’t there.

3. The rough patch of this schedule is over. Seven of their next eight games are against teams either .500 or worse. While that looks easier (as of now) on paper than what they’ve been up against over the first 6 weeks, it is no cake walk. And these are playoff contenders that view their matchup against NYG as an “easy” win. NYG put themselves in a tough spot by going 1-5 and this next stretch needs to produce at least five wins for them to enter the end of the year with a shot at contention. I’m not in the “fold your cards, start trading everyone” mode right now. But this start has made the middle third of their schedule a stretch where they have no margin for error. And it starts at home against the team Daniel Jones has had a ton of success against, if he plays.

Oct 102023
Jason Pinnock, New York Giants (October 8, 2023)

Jason Pinnock – © USA TODAY Sports


-Daniel Jones: 14/20 – 119 yards / 0 TD – 0 INT / 85.2 RAT

Jones added 24 yards on 4 carries, including the team’s biggest gain on the ground of 11. He was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter on a brutal blind side hit by Andrew Van Ginkel. The neck is an injury that needs to be closely monitored. In 2021, Jones suffered a neck injury that was “almost” serious. I will avoid getting ahead of myself here, but fingers are crossed for Jones that this will not be the same injury, but multiplied in severity. If it is, worst case scenario is on the table.

As for his play, Jones took another beating. Between the amount of pressure and hits he took in the pocket, he also took three big hits as a runner. And I know the QB-sneak is the new craze in the NFL right now, but watch Jones’ helmet on these plays and his neck takes a beating there too. During the Seattle game, I said to the people I was with, Jones is never going to last taking all these hits. Here we are, a week later and staring at another injury to the fifth-year pro. Beyond the beating, Jones started and ended with similar poor throws: third-down passes to the right flat to a speedy Wan’Dale Robinson that, if placed correctly, would have resulted in a first down. Both throws were poor (they were easy passes to make), both resulted in a punt instead of a fresh new set of downs. Jones is still hesitant post-snap on hot reads and there is a disconnect between him and the offensive line calls. Who’s fault is that? I’m not sure. But he is showing up to the fire with a can of gasoline, not a water hose.

-Tyrod Taylor played the majority of the fourth quarter. He completed 9 of 12 passes for 86 yards and added 14 yards on the ground. Pressure was in his face repeatedly as well. There is no debate on who the starter is and should be, but I will be intrigued to see how different this offense looks with him under center. He has better footwork/quickness and a faster release to physically get through a play faster than Jones. He is not built to take the hits Jones does. But if he can get the ball out faster like some of the surging quarterbacks in the NFL can, it may hide some issues and help Jones out in the long run. If Jones is out Sunday night, Taylor goes back to Buffalo to take on a franchise he led to the playoffs in 2017.


-Eric Gray: 12 att – 25 yards / 1 rec – 1 yard

With Saquon Barkley still sidelined with an ankle injury, Eric Gray got his first real running back action. His initial contributions have come on special teams as a punt returner, a role he has not yet appeared comfortable with. He got off to a nice start early on, showing contact balance and late movement to get off arm tackles. His best run of the day was called back by a holding penalty. Gray also missed a crease in the third quarter and tried to bounce it outside. He was taken out and took an earful from the coach. Gray is quick, but he is not quick enough to forego sure yards to bounce it out for more. He needs to get downhill, stay downhill. He also fumbled and fortunately for him, it did not result in a turnover.

-Matt Breida added 21 yards on 9 carries. The slasher had two nice runs up the middle and keeps proving that if things can get initially blocked at the point-of-attack, his burst and aggression will make things happen. Breida began his career with San Francisco for three seasons, the first three seasons Mike McDaniel was the team’s run game coordinator. It is not a coincidence that was the best stretch of Breida’s career.


-The group combined for 12 catches / 108 yards. Wan’Dale Robinson is still the focal point, leading them with 6 targets but the two misfires from Jones kept his production line to just 18 yards on 5 catches. Darius Slayton had the longest gain of the day, 20 yards, during garbage time. He was also a victim of a poor Jones throw on a ball he came down with downfield, but was out of bounds.

-The veterans Isaiah Hodgins, Parris Campbell, and Sterling Shepard were targeted 6 times. Jalin Hyatt? Zero. Since his big game in Arizona, the rookie has been on the field for 72 passing plays. He has been thrown to twice.


-Darren Waller: 8 rec – 86 yards

I appreciate the grit and hustle from Waller, one of the oldest and most established players on the team. This was the most involved and productive we have seen him to this point. Jones threw two downfield passes to him, both on the money, both hitting his hands, neither ending up complete. I did not dock him with a drop, but those two plays could have changed the momentum of this game. Very few players could have come down with it, the best would have. Waller also got beat up in the running game as a blocker and allowed a pressure.


-It is always hard to know where to start. Nobody played well, multiple injuries and an in-game benching occurred, and we saw multiple plays where blockers were not even competitive. There are plays where the result would be the same had the blocker stayed in his stance. We have seen poor OL play for years. This is rock bottom.

-Evan Neal allowed 5 pressures and had a sack called off by a MIA illegal contact penalty. He fell apart in the second half. Plain and simple he looked tired, out of shape, and unathletic. After a rough week in which he insulted NYG fans, the people who provide the money for him to play a game (poorly), he only added to the notion that he cannot handle the speed of this league. Joshua Ezeudu was benched after allowing the sack that took Jones out. He did not even get hands on Van Ginkel, a major no-no for a blind side protector. Ezeudu was flagged three times on one drive, including two false starts on consecutive plays. The holding penalty was declined, but it was a bad look for a guy who is clearly on the ropes with this coaching staff. It is safe to say this experiment is over, but I still want to see looks at guard. I broke down every play as I normally do, and he had the most positives in the group as much as that may be hard to believe. His negatives were just, loud.

-Ben Bredeson had his worst game as a pro. He was abused by the power and speed of Miami’s interior. He allowed 2 sacks, a TFL, 2 pressures, and was flagged for a hold on a big play. The amount of complete whiffs at the point-of-attack concerns me. The book is out on him. He cannot adjust, he is not agile, and he cannot recover. He ends up on the ground too often and just seem overmatched. Mark Glowinski allowed a sack late but for the most part, played well enough. His 2 pressures had more to do with crisscross traffic caused by stunts and twists up front. The main issue I had, which prevented a positive grade, was the lack of push he got in the running game. It disrupted at least two plays where everything else was lined up.

-Guard Jalen Mayfield, tackle Matt Peart, and center Jaylon Thomas all saw action from backup roles. Mayfield saw the most playing time, just under half of the team’s offensive snaps and he struggled mightily. He allowed 3 pressures and was flagged for holding twice. Markus McKethan, who left the game after tweaking his knee, allowed 3 pressures. I’ll touch on the guard play below. Thomas was in at center for just three plays and allowed a TFL. Lastly, Peart saw 24 snaps, allowed 2 pressures, and was flagged for a false start.


-Kayvon Thibodeaux made two big plays on a defense that has been starving for them. He recovered a fumble and recorded a sack, a nice win to the inside shoulder of backup Miami tackle Kendall Lamm. He added 2 pressures, one of which he was untouched. Thibodeaux was part of the problem, albeit not a glaring one, when examining why the defense allowed 9.7 yards per carry on the ground. It is almost assumed he will not come off the blocker and make a tackle. He does make hustle plays and I respect that, but I can count on one hand how many times he has made a stout play against the run over his career to this point.

-Azeez Ojulari is injured again, this time his ankle. Yet another lower body ding to a guy who has a game completely build on burst. He had zero impact over his 23 snaps.

-Jihad Ward and Boogie Basham are the two edge defenders Miami loves to play against. Get them moving sideways and they have no shot at impacting anything. Neither pressured the quarterback, both had multiple run game losses.


-The best players on the defense, Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams, combined for one pressure and 2 tackles. Miami got so horizontal, making them chase action to the sideline and hiding their upfield prowess. Tua Tagovailoa was also getting the ball out on average 2.15 seconds, an incredibly quick number. Add those two together and it is easy to see why these two were nearly unheard of in this game.

-The backups A’Shawn Robinson, D.J. Davidson, and Rakeem Nunez-Roches are cut from similar cloths. Big and strong, but slow and ineffective in space. None of them came in and made an impact. The latter did have one pressure early in the game.


-Isaiah Simmons played a season-high 54 snaps because of the injury to Micah McFadden. It was clear to see why he cannot be an every-down inside guy. He is late to fill lanes, which creates creases and space for the fastest offense in football. He also gets crushed against linemen who get a clear shot at him. Multiple times he was airlifted and pushed backward by blockers on some of Miami’s big runs. He did have 9 tackles, but also missed 2.

-Bobby Okereke had another solid game, as he was a part of the two biggest plays of the game by the defense. He tipped a pass at the goal line that Jason Pinnock intercepted and returned for a touchdown. He then intercepted one himself that gave NYG the ball at the MIA 23-yard line. He led the team with 10 tackles, including one for a loss. The run defense has several issues, he is not one of them. And the fact he is making plays against the pass is a huge positive.


-I will start off with the positive in a young season that has so few. Rookie Deonte Banks has evolved in a short time. The All-22 angle is encouraging. He had several cover-wins against Jaylen Waddle and while it did not matter much from a game perspective, his route anticipation and reaction are meshing well. He broke up a pass in the end zone and made a great tackle on a 3rd-and-1 complete pass with no margin for error on an island. Miami punted because of it.

-Cor’Dale Flott had a nice cover win and pass defended against Tyreek Hill. The acceleration, his best trait, was tested and he passed. I trust him in man coverage as much as anyone on this team.

-Adoree’ Jackson and Tre Hawkins both allowed 100% completion rate. Hawkins got burned by Hill on a play where there might be two or three corners who could have prevented the play. He had pre-snap confusion, lining up on the wrong side. He got to Hill late, Tua knew, and it was over before it started. Such is life with young corners in this league.


-Once again, Xavier McKinney and Jason Pinnock played every snap. In a game where so much of the action went through the first two levels of the defense without any speed bumps, much was put on these two. McKinney stood out with 8 tackles, a pass break up in the end zone, and a forced fumble that NYG recovered. His sheer hustle was notable on several plays as well. Pinnock caught the deflection off Okereke and returned it for a touchdown, the only one of the game for NYG. He added 5 tackles, but also allowed a touchdown on a broken play while trying to shadow Waddle.

-Dane Belton played 21 snaps over 4 games prior to the matchup in Miami. He played 39 in this game. He plays fast and aggressively, but he is such a hit or miss defender. Two times he exploded downhill as the Miami running play was getting horizontal. He overshot the lane and was the culprit on big gains. He finished with 4 tackles, 2 missed tackles, and allowed completions on all four passes thrown his way.


-K Graham Gano: 3/4 (Made 49, 37, 51 / Missed 55)
-P Jamie Gillan: 4 Punts / 40.3 avg – 40.3 net


-LB Bobby Okereke, S Xavier McKinney, CB Deonte Banks


-LB Isaiah Simmons, OC Ben Bredeson, OG Markus McKethan


1. Prior to the season, I picked two teams to finish with 14 wins. One, Philadelphia. Two, Miami. The combination of the fastest and most dangerous offense in football paired with Vic Fangio calling the defense (without their best player, Jalen Ramsey), is going to get a ton of wins on the board. Why did not I not pick them to win the Super Bowl? Or even reach the AFC Championship? We do not know how well this offense can operate in cold/poor weather and there are a lot of questions surrounding the durability and take-over ability of their quarterback. We also know that postseason football experience is worth something, which they have very little of.

2. Speed kills. We know. Copycat league. We know. The game now favors offense. We know. Miami’s team speed is unlike anything I have seen before. Mostert, Achane, and Hill have been measured as the fastest players in the league this season. They’re all on the same team and they’re all football players, not just track stars. It is a formula that appears to be working but it only happens when the engineer at the top (McDaniel) knows how to use it. And that he does. Teams will try to replicate this, but they’ll need the right coach.

3. Christian Wilkins may be thrown into the discussion when listing the best interior defensive linemen in the league. It was not a quick, smooth ride. Here is the final note I have from my report on him in 2019: “Wilkins can be a stud. Top notch kid and a culture-builder.” We can discuss several positions that need to be upgraded and guys who need to be let go, but I think the key is to find more Wilkins’ type players. They do not grow on trees, I know. But what I mean is getting your best football players to also be the most influential leaders and culture pillars. Also, a fun note. Quinnen Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Jeffrey Simmons, and Wilkins all come from the same draft class. Those are 4 of the best 5 or 6 DTs in the league.


1. In 2021, Miami rated dead last in the league in pass block win rate. In 2022? 24th. So far in 2023? 16th. Is there anything NYG can do (this season) to help hide the mismatches they are working with in the trenches every play? Besides Andrew Thomas getting back on the field, the only applicable takeaway I have in relation to Miami is running the ball more. Basic, I know. But when Jones drops back, the risk/reward is heavily tilted to the negative. NYG can run the ball with success on a more consistent basis. The likelihood of penalties is less and so are the 3-4-5+ yard losses that just kill the drive. I think Daboll and Kafka need to go Arthur Smith (Atlanta) style and run the ball 30-40 times next week in Buffalo.

2. So the Giants are now hoping for the best with linemen signed off the street. Jalen Mayfield, Jaylon Thomas, Justin Pugh. It is more likely we continue to see the major communication and assignment mishaps. That aside, what kind of blocker needs to be on the field? Mayfield was hard to watch, yes. But seeing how many times McKethan can’t get hands on his opponent and watching Bredeson allow pressures under 1.5 seconds leads me to the notion they have to put the best athletes out there if they are going to remain pass-heavy. If you can’t move your feet, you cannot block.

3. The Giants had no answers for the MIA speed. Their players are big and slow up front. Their pass rushers are not quick enough to impact the passer. They have confusion on the back end. Is Wink Martindale stuck in the past? We are seeing younger, fresher, more modern minds taking over coaching staffs and front offices league wide. I am looking around the league and seeing similar trends to other “old school” coaches (check out what is going on in NE). Martindale appears to be a step below the guys he is up against. Harbaugh saw it in 2022 when he parted ways with him.

Oct 042023
Brian Daboll and Daniel Jones, New York Giants (October 2, 2023)

Brian Daboll and Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports


-Daniel Jones: 27/34 – 203 yards / 0 TD – 2 NT / 67.0 RAT

Jones was also the leading rusher with 66 yards on 10 carries. The Giants seemed to protect him against San Francisco ten days ago with very few designed runs and an incredibly quick passing game by design. That approach changed against Seattle. With Saquon Barkley still on the sideline and an offensive line that continues to be a constant unobstructed funnel to the quarterback, Jones took more hits in one game than he’s ever had. He will not last much longer if this continues to be the case. However, on the other hand, him running is by far the most efficient and consistent form of offense this team has.

Jones put this team on his back for most of the game. He did not have time to throw the ball deep. Not once. He took over 20 hits and was one sack away from tying an NFL record. The lack of reliability up front has undoubtedly shaken up his confidence and ability to progress through reads. The receivers had a tough time getting off the line and through initial coverage in a hurry. The offense appears predictable (more on that below) and defenses are not being fooled any longer. All the above are true. And so is the fact Jones appears to have taken a step down the ladder. His interception from the five-yard line that ended in a pick six by a rookie cornerback was the nail in the coffin for both him and this team in their Week 4 matchup. As that rookie cornerback said after the game, he knew where Jones was going to go with the pass before Jones threw it. The play design had created space for the number one acquisition of the offseason for this team, Darren Waller, as he ran toward the back corner of the end zone with enough room. Jones panicked and was responsible for sucking the life out of the comeback effort. The second interception left the coaching staff disgusted. And before both of those, there was a lost fumble that landed SEA inside the NYG ten-yard line and set them up for their first touchdown. Again, a tough play for a quarterback to make but those excuses are no longer valid. Jones, in a rainstorm that was quickly flooding the basement, forgot to turn the pump on. Instead of two inches of standing water that required a quick clean up, the project now started with two feet of standing water.


-Matt Breida stepped in for the injured Barkley again. While he gained just 30 yards on 14 carries, he did lead the team with 5 catches and 48 yards. The 22-yard gain on a broken play, a pass from a scrambling Jones, was the longest gain by the offense. Breida also stuck his nose in there as a pass blocker against the blitz multiple times, allowing zero pressures on 11 pass blocking opportunities.

-Gary Brightwell saw about a quarter of the snaps at running back, gaining just 9 yards on 4 carries. He was flagged twice on special teams, one of which held up. That one was a killer, a personal foul that pushed the putrid offense back to their own 10-yard line to start a drive. Unfortunately, on a team like this in a situation like this, a dumb mental mistake like that feels even bigger.


-Seven receivers saw the field for NYG. There was a slight shift in playing time toward the youngest and most explosive playmakers, the two guys who were drafted by this regime on day two (one in ’22, one in ’23). Wan’Dale Robinson and Jalin Hyatt were on the field for 48 and 45 snaps, respectively. Darius Slayton is still the number one guy when it comes to playing time, but I sense a shift toward the young guns coming.

-Robinson was the one consistent positive on this offense. I know the bar is set low there, but he did play a big game. He had 5 catches for 40 yards and had a rush for another 7 yards. So, 6 touches, just under 8 yards per on average, and five first downs. Robinson’s skill set is unique. Even though the size will limit him in some situations, this is the kind of role player who can move the chains and make the offense more versatile. One of the smallest players in the NFL broke two tackles and gained 30 yards after the catch total. The stutter step quickness and natural vision can be lethal combinations if the scheme can direct attention to other players. He can crush one-on-one coverage and win against lone open field tacklers.

-Isaiah Hodgins had 24 yards on 3 catches (3 targets), Slayton added 23 yards on 2 catches, Hyatt was thrown at twice underneath for 10 yards on two catches, Parris Campbell had 15 yards on 3 catches, and Sterling Shepard had one catch for 6 yards. Combined from all receivers? 20 targets, 16 catches, 118 yards (longest of which went for 12 yards). The lack of production here has much more to do with the offensive line and Jones, but the shift toward younger players and speed is coming if it is not already here.


-The most dominant player of the NYG training camp, Darren Waller, can’t seem to get off the ground in this offense. The thoughts of Mike Kafka turning him into the NYG version of Travis Kelce floated in the air throughout August. Perhaps it was a bit too lofty. Through four games, we are still waiting for an impactful game. He was targeted three times and he ended with 21 yards on 3 catches. Again, I put blame on the situation more than the player here (many keep repeating that line over and over by the way), but at some point, that will not be good enough. Waller is the guy I want to see this passing game revolve around early in games. Lastly, I credit Waller for his downfield blocking and sheer effort. This is a good example of a guy who does not have the tool or skill set to make an impact as a blocker, but effort can win a lot of battles.

-Daniel Bellinger left the game early with an injury after adding 1 catch for 6 yards. He was hurt on the failed QB sneak.


-The offensive line has been a reminder for the game and for life that, “Things could always be worse.” The line, especially without left tackle Andrew Thomas, has been the kryptonite to this offense through four games. The dosage of that kryptonite compounded against the Seahawks in a game where they sacked Jones 11 times, one shy of tying an all-time NFL record.

-Joshua Ezeudu got off to a solid start, but the second half brought his demise into the light. 4 sacks and 2 pressures for the former guard who many were holding out hope for. Evan Neal continues to look overmatched in pass protection. He allowed 5 pressures, one of which was a QB hit. We are seeing whiffs, awful footwork (which is getting worse), and poor balance. Next to him is Markus McKethan (3 pressures, 2 sacks) and it is hard to watch. Neither of these guys can recover, which is an essential component to offensive line evaluation. You cannot expect these guys to win off the ball every time, nobody does. But recovery tactics are a huge part of the margin between good and bad linemen. The two guys on the right side of this line look completely overmatched and incapable in their current state.

-Rookie center John Michael-Schmitz tweaked his ankle on the first play of the game and then suffered a shoulder injury on the failed 4th-and-1 QB sneak attempt. His injury created two problems on the line. Ben Bredeson struggled at center as his replacement. He allowed 2 pressures, a TFL, and was flagged for a hold. He was responsible for a couple of poor shotgun snaps and proved to be incapable of getting across a fast upfield three-tech. The other problem that arose after the Schmitz injury was the fact Shane Lemieux had to step in at guard. He got rag-dolled in the running game by Mario Edwards, creating a stop for the defense and was completely missing the Seattle linebackers in space. He, too, suffered an injury which brought Mark Glowinski in for 25 snaps. Those 25 snaps, by the way, were positive for the group’s most experienced veteran.


-For just the fourth time since Kayvon Thibodeaux was drafted, both he and Azeez Ojulari played 40+ snaps in the same game. And right on cue, they combined to have an impactful performance this defense desperately needed. They pressured the quarterback a combined 6 times and Thibodeaux ended the game with 2 sacks. They were both matched up against backups, as starters Charles Cross (toe) and Abraham Lucas (knee) were out with injuries. The glaring positive within their impact was the fact they were beating one-on-one blocking, forcing penalties, and creating opportunities for their teammates. The main defensive takeaway from this game was the fact these two play a full load of snaps and made an impact from start to finish.

-With the emergence of those two, Jihad Ward play just 19 snaps, the lowest in a game since signing with the Giants prior to 2022. This was a must, and it still is. Ward’s lack of athleticism in space and mere average ability against the run this season should keep him in a backup role. I would not even mind seeing him as an interior pass rusher in certain looks but even in this game where we saw him in space against a banged-up Geno Smith on a bootleg, it is obvious his movement traits are going to hurt this defense more than help it.


-Chalk up yet another big day for the All-Pro Dexter Lawrence who appears to be on that same track yet again. He had 2 pressures and a QB hit, one of which forced a hold. He is top three league wide in pressures and hits from the inside and just like 2022, he is the only one near the top in the league lining up in the A-gap. In fact, Lawrence has 130 snaps from that alignment so far this season. The next highest? 89. The sixth highest? 79. That is easily the most overlooked variable to Lawrence’s performance, and it makes him even more impressive. Leonard Williams added 2 pressures and 2 tackles, but was flagged for a personal foul after getting into a scuffle with a rookie SEA lineman following a SEA touchdown on a play he was clearly beat.

-A’Shawn Robinson, D.J. Davidson and Rakeem Nunez-Roches all impressed in their backup duties. Robinson’s penetration caused tackles for loss on two separate occasions, and it is important to see him clicking now after he barely saw live action in August. Davidson was the overlooked stud of the game. On just 19 snaps, he finished with a TFL and 2 pass break ups. His feel for the play and sheer power were difference makers.


-If you look at the stat sheet, Bobby Okereke had a monster game. 10 tackles, 3 TFL, a pass break up, and a pressure. Collectively, it was his best game as a Giant to this point. However, two missed tackles, one of which was a horrific display on the 51-yard Noah Fant catch and run, are the plays that stand out the most. As I have said about other players on this team (and it generates an odd feeling of responsibility to defend for some), players who are paid to be the best and most impactful are held to a higher standard. That was a whiff by Okereke that cannot happen, plain and simple. On a defense that is undoubtedly struggling to tackle, Okereke needs to step up and stop adding to the problem. I do like the fact he made multiple stops that were indeed big plays in the second half, but they need a complete clean game from him.

-Micah McFadden and Isaiah Simmons added 4 solo tackles apiece, one of which went for a loss by Simmons. He seems to be getting more comfortable in the scheme and it is allowing for faster football.


-Adoree’ Jackson was back outside for the demoted Tre Hawkins after a couple of tough games for the rookie. Jackson was not much better. He missed two tackles and was flagged for a pass interference. Rookie Deonte Banks was beat by D.K. Metcalf for a first down on a couple of occasions, but the physicality and aggression he showed are the traits we want to see consistently at this stage. The one area I want to see improvement is the ball location. Geno Smith hit Metcalf for a touchdown on a broken play where Banks did cover well initially, but completely lost his spacial and play awareness. The ball was thrown his way and completed to the receiver he was covering without Banks ever knowing the play was filtering in his direction.

-Cor’Dale Flott saw his first action of the season at nickel. The difficult tackle in space he made against Jaxon Smith-Njigba was exactly what this team needs from that spot that Jackson did not bring. After just one game, I feel much better about this corner combination than what they opted to roll out there weeks 1-3.


-Jason Pinnock and Xavier McKinney played the majority of the snaps again. Both were quiet, combining for 5 tackles (one missed by Pinnock) and neither we challenged much in coverage. The SEA passing game attacked the outside and they did not need to look in the direction of these two enough to note.


-K Graham Gano: 1/1 (Made 55)
-P Jamie Gillan: 5 punts / 53.6 avg – 45.0 net


-WR Wan’Dale Robinson, DT D.J. Davidson, EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux


-OT Joshua Ezeudu, OT Evan Neal, CB Adoree’ Jackson


1. Seattle was without 4 of their 5 starters along the offensive line. While their backups did not exactly play well, it was rather easy to see the difference between “good enough” and “non-competitive.” Are their backups that much better? I think the result had more to do with scheme and situational awareness. Their play-calling was hard to predict. They had a quarterback who understood the situation he was in. And their cohesion appeared to be cleaner.

2. Pete Carroll has my respect as much as any Head Coach in the game. You may not love his style (you would if he were coaching NYG), but the fact he is doing what he is with the ingredients he has without getting away from his principles has been impressive. Sustaining competitiveness like this is incredibly rare. He became the Head Coach in 2010. That was the year Tom Coughlin coached the Giants to a 10-6 season, Ahmad Bradshaw led the team in rushing, Hakeem Nicks broke 1,000 yards receiving for the first time, Terrell Thomas led the team in passes defended, and Matt Dodge accidentally punted to DeSean Jackson which resulted in a game winning touchdown in the fourth quarter of a Week 15 game in year one of the New Giants Stadium (not yet called MetLife). A lot has happened since then, hasn’t it? Carroll has been there ever since with 10 playoff appearances.

3. No team has used more draft picks on running backs since 2016 than SEA (9). They have quietly accepted the idea that investing in young backs (a lot of them) is the way to build the backfield. While they have lacked consistent star power, there is a revolving door of production stemming from the backfield and it is a template I bet many teams wish they used since that time. Their current backfield is, in my opinion, the best they’ve had when it comes to ceiling and potential production.


1. Bill Parcells once said the quickest way to improve a football team (and win 1-2 more games per year) is on special teams. It moves the needle more than the general fan and media understand. On the flip side, a poor special teams unit can swing the needle downward in a hurry. Hidden yards, penalties, points. They all add up. NYG is set at kicker, and punter Jamie Gillan is playing much better as well. But the number of mistakes we are seeing from this unit is utterly pitiful. I will not pretend to know how the schematics are impacting the result, but Special Teams Coach Thomas McGaughey needs to be put on notice. What his group is doing is simply unacceptable. Through all the NYG coaching turmoil since 2018, he remains. Makes one think.

2. The multiple instances of Brian Daboll’s disdain for Daniel Jones on national TV were telling. The re-watch of the tape was telling. With things falling apart all around him, the starting quarterback is only throwing fuel on the dumpster fire. He is not bringing a hose full of water. He is increasing the size of the early season disaster that is historically bad. The interceptions were on him. At least three of the sacks were on him. And multiple missed opportunities were on him. It can no longer be hidden by the excuses. We know the situation around him is dire. We know he is fighting uphill. But even the Head Coach is fed up with what Jones is, and is not, doing. There is no debate here. Jones is not raising his play to a higher level. Case closed, chapter over. Fortunately for him, the book still has another 21+ games left where he can turn it around. The physical ability is there, but the mental game needs to catch up or this will go down as one of the biggest disappointments in franchise history. That is the magnitude of the situation.

3. Does NYG need to make big changes? Like what? Fire coaches? Cut players? Make trades? Unfortunately, I do not think any of the above will help. What they need is Andrew Thomas and Saquon Barkley. Their two best offensive players can create at least some stability and playmaking. But the downfall of this team is a lack of depth. It did not get tested like this a year ago and with the schedule that is much tougher, it is getting exposed on a much deeper level than expected. Roll with the punches will be the only avenue to take. The coaches are the ones who need to adjust, as the league has appeared to adjust to them. The most vital stage and the margin between bad coaching and good coaching is response to adversity. The season is still young, but so far that ingredient is a major failure by this staff. If they cannot respond to adversity, we will soon be scouring the league for the next “big time assistant”.

Sep 232023
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (September 21, 2023)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports


-Daniel Jones: 22/32 – 137 yards / 0 TD – 2 INT / 64.2 RAT

Jones added 5 yards on the ground. This was a matchup nightmare on paper. The Niners ability to put “quick pressure” on the passer, the makeshift offensive line, and not having their two best offensive players on the field made the margin for error miniscule. Jones had to play perfect and everyone around him had to play bigger than the sum of their respective parts for this to be competitive. The game-plan was full of dinks and dunks and I estimate about 50% usage of the full playbook even being an option. There were not a lot of positives to take away from this game when it comes to Jones. The few times where the team needed a play (and he had things working around him), he did not come through. The 3rd-and-11 miss to Waller in the fourth quarter with the score at 23-12 was the standout negative. Waller does not escape his share of the blame (I will discuss this in the tight end analysis), but that is an easy throw that needs to be made 99 out of 100 times. We’ve heard and saw all summer just how big and long Waller is, how he towers above everyone else. Jones had that target wide open (NFL standards) for a first down and he air-mailed it above his outstretched hands.

The positives remain the same. He stood tall in the face of pressure in a situation that had ‘loss’ written all over it. He went through progressions, he did not abandon mechanics, and he was accurate on almost all throws. While I will not call him Joe Montana when it comes to ball placement, he threw strikes most of the night on the quick-release throws. For the second time in three weeks, he was fighting uphill in mud, nothing to gain traction on and slowly having the ground slip from underneath him. He is now 1-11 in primetime games and while that is more of a correlation between the quality of opponents + the poor state of the NYG roster than the time of day that present his struggles, it is hard to get past the notion he is not rising to a better version of himself in situations like this. Daniel Jones just….is.


-With Saquon Barkley out again with another lower body joint injury (the story of his career so far unfortunately), the NYG backfield barely moved the needle. Matt Breida did score the lone NYG touchdown of the night on an impressive, aggressive downhill run of 8 yards. He had just 4 total carries for 17 yards and 3 catches for 1 yard. Gary Brightwell added 5 yards on 4 carries and had the team’s biggest gain of the night (18 yards) on a dump-off pass, but also dropped a pass. His sample size was small, but his overall impact was positive economically, just like in previous games where he has contributed.


-Wan’Dale Robinson was back on the field for the first time since tearing his ACL 10 months ago. That is an impressive turnaround from the second-year gadget receiver from Kentucky. He had 4 catches for 21 yards while fellow slot receiver Parris Campbell led the team with 6 catches, netting just 24 yards. The limitations of the offense overall made them key focal points underneath because their skill sets can get them open in a hurry and both are supposed to be effective after the catch. They struggled to break tackles, though. Neither made an impact there, neither stepped up to make plays on their own, which was a vital ingredient to any potential success they were hoping to have.

-Darius Slayton appears to be the number one receiver on this team. He is the guy who has the most experience with Jones, he is the guy with the most contractual commitment to the team, and he is the only player who is being targeted more than 9 yards downfield on average (minimum 4 targets). He ended with 3 catches for 32 yards and had a couple of open looks deep that did not come to fruition because of poor blocking. He is playing hard and confident right now, and with his speed, that matters.

-I am disappointed we, A) barely saw Jalin Hyatt (16 out of 50 snaps) and B) he did not get a single target. I know we should temper expectations from the rookie receiver, as I even said myself last spring following the draft his impact in 2023 would likely be minimal. Even with that in mind, not one target? The one guy on this team (with Barkley out) who can strike fear into the defense? The guy who made two the biggest non-touchdown plays in their historic comeback last week? If he truly is more than just a vertical threat, then the argument that Jones simply not having enough time is not good enough for me. He should have been given at least two or three looks.


-Darren Waller led the team with 7 targets, but he caught just 3 of them for 20 yards. He added a drop that led to an interception. After a summer full of optimism and beat reporters salivating when discussing how much of a threat he appeared to be, three games in and I am down on what his upside can be here. Sure, the underneath threat and security blanket component to his game are there and it will be all season. But there is a significant difference in his movement from what I saw from 2019-2021. Jones misfired on two throws in his direction, they were more on the passer. However, Waller’s attempt at what I call “late movement,” a reaction-based attempt to the ball looked like it belonged to a 275-pound blocking tight end. No abrupt, explosive leap to go up and get it. No sudden change of direction to snare the ball that hit his hands. Effort is not the issue from what I see, just a simple lack of ability. Perhaps the hamstring is a tighter constraint than I initially thought. My true fear is the 31-year-old does not, and will not, have the special athletic traits that made him a household name and we are simply looking at an average underneath threat. Not a bad thing, but not what some believed it would be.

-Daniel Bellinger played 30 snaps and seems to be having trouble finding his role within this team. One of the biggest surprises from the 2023 Rookie Class has taken a back seat to Waller for obvious reasons. He had 1 catch for 8 yards. He has seen 2 passes thrown his way in 3 games. His value is a guy who splits a blocker/receiver role, but because of Waller’s presence he has been way more biased toward the former and he simply is not good enough there. He allowed a sack, a hold, and was flagged for a false start. This two tight end package has been one of the more subtle disappointments for the offense through three games.


-A few days ago, I warned everyone to temper the enthusiasm regarding former Tar Heels Joshua Ezeudu at left tackle and Markus McKethan at right guard. Performing well against Arizona did carry some weight, but the truth is that defensive line can make a case to be the worst in football. I wanted to see what the line, and these two in particular, would bring to the table against one of the best fronts in football. Just a solid game against them would go a long way. It did not turn out well. Ezeudu allowed 5 pressures and was flagged for a face-mask penalty. He was clearly overmatched when he faced off against Nick Bosa. They offered help a few times from Bellinger, but big picture, Ezeudu cannot compete against the best in the league. McKethan struggled even more. He was charged with 4 pressures and a sack in addition to a holding penalty. His size and length appear to be weapons that can win a lot of battles, but it is a complete hit or miss due to a lower half that does not have enough shiftiness to it. Growing pains are allowed and we will need to see if these guys can improve with consistent snaps week to week.

-Despite a couple of ugly losses to Javon Hargrave, I ended with a positive grade on rookie center John Michael Schmitz. He allowed one pressure was driven back badly on an outside zone run (again) that caused a TFL. Besides that, I thought he moved well to the second level, provided quality help in pass protection, and anchored well. From my perspective re-watching the game, there appeared to be minimal communication issues up front. I credit that to Schmitz. Execution has not been good, we know, but the assignments have seemed cleaner than I remember over the past two-three years.

-A lot of eyes are on Evan Neal, and rightfully so. The 2022 seventh overall pick has not been good through 18 games. He allowed a sack on the two-point conversion attempt and two pressures. The bar has been set low, but I do believe this was an overall positive performance compared to what Neal has been putting out there. While it is not good enough and I still want to see substantial improvement, I did not walk out of this game lowering his status even further. Hopefully he can use this as a springboard to better play, more consistently. After all, that is what this comes down to.

-Shane Lemieux got the start over Mark Glowinski, something I did not see coming. He allowed 3 pressures and a sack, and the disheartening note I have from the live game was: “Not even competitive.” No anchor, minimal range in the running game, and inability to recover when beat.


-Kayvon Thibodeaux was on the field for 72 snaps. He finished with 3 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 hurries. Overall, it was a game that lacked impact. He was flagged for a questionable illegal contact penalty which I did not mark against him, as I thought it was within five yards from the line of scrimmage. The issue was a lack of feel, lack of flow to the action, and slight hesitation. That and the obvious fact he is not winning one-on-one battles. I am not comparing him to Bosa by any means, but the difference I see in those two off the ball is completely night and day. Bosa has tunnel vision. Thibodeaux has hesitation. Does he play scared? Does he lack situational awareness? I see both. And no, I am not seeing improvement (at all) despite a couple positives in the traditional box score. I will say it again. He needs to play better, period.

-Jihad Ward, Oshane Ximines, and Boogie Basham were the other rotational edge defenders. None within the trio has stepped up with Azeez Ojulari out. Ward can set the edge against the run, but the next time he comes off a blocker to make a big stop will be the first. Basham has been unimpressive in action since the trade from BUF, as he looks like the JV version of Ward. And we know what Ximines is. He did add a pressure with 2 tackles. I think it is time we see Tomon Fox on the field.


-Dexter Lawrence had another Dexter Lawrence game, finishing with 7 tackles, 3 pressures, and a TFL. Leonard Williams came to play as well, at least more so than the previous two weeks, and finished with a half-sack, 6 tackles, and 2 QB hits. He was flagged for a roughing penalty that was correct when looking at the rulebook, but it is the one I just do not support. I am all about protecting quarterbacks but expecting a guy to fall a certain way while moving at full speed is a garbage way of making life impossible for defenders.

-D.J. Davidson got the look over rookie Jordon Riley again, and he showed why. On just 19 snaps (9 run / 10 pass) he finished with a half-sack, 2 pressures, and a pass break up at the line. He was injured on a dirty play by Jake Brendel, a play he should be fined for. Davidson was pushing the interior SF linemen around every time he got on the field. The injury to the elbow appeared to be fairly serious.

-A’Shawn Robinson and Rakeem Nunez-Roches are, at least, playing physical and prideful. They are getting beat initially at the point-of-attack and they do not have the recovery quicks to make up for it. They are clearly frustrated because of the part they are playing in the defense getting beat up front against the run. Robinson did end up with 5 tackles and pursues the action with a lot of hustle. I am still holding onto hope the line can turn things around. The size, power, and effort are all there from all of the guys.


-Micah McFadden had a game. He led the team with 10 tackles, including 4 for a loss. He missed a tackle early on and I thought “here we go again”. But he made several tackles on plays away from the ball. He read the screen game exceptionally well and I guarantee other teams will be using his performance on film as “teach tape” throughout the season. He remains an easy target in the passing game but if he gets this kind of results downhill, they can deal with him being weak in backwards coverage.

-Bobby Okereke does not seem fully comfortable in the scheme. I say that because when he fills downhill hard, he is an absolute menace. But there still seems to be a lack of consistency to that part of his game and it is causing significant issues against the run. If I had to come up with a single catalyst to the issues the defense has there, it is him. He did finish with 9 tackles and 2 pressures (both untouched) but 3 missed tackles are way too many for a leader of the defense, the green dot.

-Isaiah Simmons saw a slight uptick in playing time, finishing with 4 tackles. His lack of feel for angles and blocking on a 3rd-and-13 conversion was an absolute killer. The speed and range are great assets but only valuable if he knows that to do. Very poor situational awareness by him on that play.


-Another rough night for the rookie corners. Deonte Banks suffered an arm injury and at the time of this writing, we do not have the MRI results. Tre Hawkins missed 2 (of his 3 on the night) tackles on the same play, something you could go an entire season never seeing. He got flagged for holding and allowed every target in his direction to be completed. He looked lost, unsure, and tight. He may not be the best fit for the number of snaps he is seeing and after three weeks (and as many penalties), it may be worth moving someone else into his starting spot.

-Adoree’ Jackson saw most of his snaps outside again, the spot I think he simply works best. He did allow a long touchdown pass to Deebo Samuel late in the game but I thought his coverage was solid most of the night. He broke up a pass over the middle on a great corner play.

-Darnay Holmes moved into the slot when Jackson went outside. He finished with two impact plays, a pass break up and a TFL on a screen, but he was also flagged for a hold on a third down stop. The issue we have seen since his rookie season continues to be his kryptonite and what simply makes him unreliable.


-Xavier McKinney and Jason Pinnock both played every snap again. They combined for 12 tackles and 3 missed tackles. They were targeted often, especially with SF tight end George Kittle. Pinnock made the biggest blunder of the night on the 3rd-and-14 conversion where they had everything lined up, he simply needed to make the tackle. He did not come close. He turned it up a bit in the second half with 2 pressures. McKinney seemed a bit lost. He was not anticipating routes and the precision of the SF passing game kept exposing it.


-K Graham Gano: 2/2 (Made 44, 57). The 57-yarder ties his career-long with NYG.
-Jamie Gillan: 6 punts / 52.7 avg – 49.0 net


-LB Micah McFadden, DT Leonard Williams, K Graham Gano


-CB Tre Hawkins, OG Markus McKethan, S Xavier McKinney


1. The best coach in football is Kyle Shanahan. That’s where I stand with him, and I know I’m not alone. What he has done over the years despite such injury turmoil (especially at QB) is something most (if not all) coaches would crumble under. He is a magician and trend setter when it comes to finding ways to play efficient football. Early down passing, motion pre-snap, versatile personnel packaging, etc. The scheme itself is fun to watch no matter who they play. Since 2017, they have been the 10th, 4th, 6th, 1st, 3rd, and 9th most injured team in the league, respectively. They made the NFC Championship despite zero games with their QB1, RB1, TE1, WR1, WR2 all healthy at the same time last season. How many teams could pull that off? I don’t think any. Coaching made the difference.

2. SF had 196 yards after the catch in this game alone. The Giants total net yards were 150. The thing is, SF is always among the league’s best in yards after the catch. They’re also near the top in explosive run plays. How come? Scheme is one, but also the kind of players they go after. They’re all strong and powerful relative to their positions and maybe the most overlooked component to their success is how hard they block downfield for each other. It is such a difference maker.

3. SF is one of the two or three best teams in the NFC. How did they get there? You may be surprised to see their early draft results in recent years. Since John Lynch took over in 2017, here are their first-round picks: DT Solomon Thomas (#3), OT Mike McGlinchey (#9), DE Nick Bosa (#2), DT Javon Kinlaw (#14), QB Trey Lance (#3). To be blunt, that is a terrible looking list outside of Bosa (the highest paid defender in the NFL). Only Kinlaw remains on the team. How is Lynch considered one of the top GMs in football and what can NYG learn from it? If you go back to 2017 and start going through their day 2/3 picks, you’re going to be wowed. TE George Kittle, DT D.J. Jones, CB D.J. Reed, LB Fred Warner, LB Dre Greenlaw, WR Jauan Jennings, OT Colton McKivitz, RB Elijah Mitchell, S Talanoa Hufanga, QB Brock Purdy, OG Spencer Burford. These guys in combination with the aggressive trades for OT Trent Williams and RB Christian McCaffrey are the catalysts to this being such a well-balanced team. Keep this in mind in the coming years with the NYG regime led by Joe Schoen. Even when you miss in the first, the doors are open later on to build the nucleus. You must find the right guys there.


1. So let’s not beat the dead horses. Is Daniel Jones worth the money? Are the #5 and #7 picks from the 2022 draft going to step up? Save it for another time, I’m sure history will repeat itself. Let’s turn the attention to Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale. It is hard to fully diagnose what is going on, but the results are scary. 98 points allowed in 3 games (let’s take off 14 for the special teams + defensive TDs from week 1). So, 84 points allowed. Sixth worst in yards per play allowed. Last in turnovers. Fourth most in yards per pass allowed. 14th most yards per rush allowed. Second worst in pressure percentage. Sixth most missed tackles. Seventh worst on third down. The personnel was upgraded. There are 7 returning starters. And everything has gone backwards. Has the league figured out Martindale? It is something that needs to be considered.

2. I’m not a fan of the “must win” label some put on games unless is mathematically eliminates someone from contention. So, no, Week 4 against Seattle is not a must win. But getting a 3-day rest advantage over a 1-1 team that is flying from the West Coast is one of the easier set ups they have and not taking advantage of it would be such a major blow to the vibe of this team.

3. The one time NYG scored a touchdown came on a drive where they had the biggest gain of the day. A 22-yard pass interference call on a deep ball to Waller. Getting the ball more vertical like this creates so many more opportunities for the offense. You can get that cheap penalty, which when it comes to results end up being the same as a long completion. It puts things on tape and in memories of defenders that needs to be accounted for, opening space up underneath. And it can change the entire mojo of a team. NYG needs to find ways to push the ball downfield at least a handful of times week in, week out. They have the speed.