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.

Apr 062022
 
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Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (September 5, 2021)

Kyle Hamilton – © USA TODAY Sports

SAFETIES

90+ All Pro Projection

85+: Pro Bowl Projection

81-84: 1st rounder – Should be able to play right away

79-80: 2nd rounder – Should be able to rotate right away – Year 2 starter

77-78: 3rd rounder – Should be able to rotate by end of rookie year – Year 2/3 starter

74-76: Early Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup/possible starter

71-73: Mid Day 3 – Special Teams – Future backup / gamble starter

68-70: Late Day 3 – Back end of roster / Practice Squad / Development guy

65-67: Preferred UDFA

60-64: Undrafted FA

1: Kyle Hamilton – Notre Dame – 6’4/220

Grade: 85

Summary: Junior entry from Atlanta, Georgia. Two-year starter that earned 2nd Team All American honors in 2020, 3rd team in 2021. Despite playing in just 7 games because of a knee injury that did not require surgery, Hamilton was a finalist for the Bednarik Award. The tall, long, and fast-reaction defensive weapon was manufactured in a factory that specializes in creating products to defend the offense-dominant NFL. His impact on the game can be felt in so many situations from so many different places. He is the queen-chess piece to a defense. Start him anywhere, move him anywhere, have him perform any role, and he will produce. The length and speed can match up against some of the best the league has to offer at both wide receiver and tight end. The intelligence and reaction time can be put into centerfield with credible sideline-to-sideline range. Hamilton is not a very stout or powerful defender; thus he shouldn’t be put in the box often, but he can still perform well as an outside blitzer. The awareness and play-speed will get him involved in the action often, and he is a well-proven finisher. Hamilton is a lock to be a versatile, playmaking defensive weapon.

*The good thing? There really isn’t a safety in the league quite like him. The bad thing? There really isn’t a safety in the league quite like him. The opinions on Hamilton when it comes to his value at #5 and/or #7 will be all over the place. Simply put: Yes, he is worth one of those spots. The new defensive scheme will use him effectively and whatever his ceiling is, he will get there. The problem that some have (his 40 time) is a credible concern. He may be more of a weapon against tight ends than he is against receivers in man coverage. All the talk about his speed is overblown, however. If he was a corner, it would be more worrisome. But you rarely hear the naysayers discuss how big this kid is. You rarely hear them discuss how smart and instinctive he is. Those two attributes, along with the superb ball skills, more-than make up for a forty time that you wish was 0.2 seconds faster. He is in play for 5 and 7.

2: Daxton Hill – Michigan – 6’0/192

Grade: 82

Summary: Junior entry from Tulsa, OK. Three-year starter that earned 1st Team All Big 10 honors in 2021. The brother of Ravens running back Justice, Daxton was a 5-star recruit that evolved into one of the most versatile defenders on the Michigan squad. He played several roles and could realistically project to multiple positions in the NFL. He excels in zone coverage where he gets to look downhill at the action and trust his instincts and closing speed. For a defense that wants multiple looks on a constant basis on the back end, Hill can be viewed as a key component. The play speed and ball skills can make up for a slight frame, but there are certain roles he needs to be kept out of. He lacks power presence and can struggle against smaller, quicker slot receivers in man coverage.

*Hill is a more athletic version of what NYG has in Julian Love. Julian Love is a cheaper and younger version of Logan Ryan. College defensive backs that played more cornerback than safety, but are ideal fits for nickel packages. Teams play nickel and dime more and more, but it is always nice to have a guy that can wear multiple hats. Hill is a little smaller than you want out of a pure safety, but there might not be a better short-area mover than in the draft than him. The quickness to explosion is one of the best I’ve seen. If he is there in round 2 and NYG wants to prep a Love-replacement (FA in 2023), Hill is a guy worth remembering.

3: Jaquan Brisker – Penn State – 6’1/199

Grade: 79

Summary: Fifth year senior from Pittsburgh, PA. After a two-year stint in junior college, Brisker transferred to Penn State and started for three seasons. Two time All-Big 10 selection, first team in 2021, and a first team All-American in 2021. Brisker has the ideal blend of speed and toughness that promote an incredibly versatile contribution to the defense. He can line up all over the secondary as well as creep up into the box for extra support. Brisker’s ability to cover man to man could even open some eyes as a potential nickel corner at the next level, a growing role of importance against the league’s pass-happy attacks. His quick and agile footwork combined with elite-level speed will show up in several ways. Brisker is a little slight-framed for the way he plays, and it would be ideal to see him add some muscle mass in time. His growing knowledge and ability to read the offense will help him position himself better and combined with the tools he has should create big plays and multiple options for the defense. A do-it-all safety with the kind of elite level speed and toughness respectively to factor all over the field in any situation.

*Brisker still figuring some things out. When he does truly play to his speed, stemming from confident decisions and quality instincts, he is a pretty close player to Hill. Why the significant gap? There is a shoulder issue here that I think will be an issue with how violent he plays. I also see some lateral tightness in coverage. Not nearly as natural – but I do think the physical upside warrants top of round 2 discussion.

4: Lewis Cine – Georgia – 6’2/199

Grade: 79

Summary: Junior entry from Cedar Hill, TX. Two-year starter that earned first team All-SEC honors in 2021, playing his best football of his career down the stretch for one of the best defenses in program history. Cine, the Bulldogs’ leading tackler, shoots downhill toward the action like a missile with a finisher’s mentality. Unlike many safeties with this play style, he brings reliable form tackling to the contact point and rarely misses. He is the kind of kind of guy you want in there as the last line of defense. While Cine does not show some of the more natural skills in coverage, he is no slouch in that department. He plays fast and showed the extra gear when needed. There is value to an adrenaline-stick on the back end like this as long as the defense does not put him in too big of a coverage responsibility. If he continues on the progression curve he put himself on down the stretch in 2021, watch out.

*If NYG Is looking for more attitude and physical play for the complementary role next to their potential budding star in McKinney, keep Cine on your short list. This may actually be the best day two fit AND best overall safety fit for the guy in this defense. It would allow Love to bounce around in sub packages while providing extra run support and defense against tight ends. Cine does not always know what he’s doing in coverage, but he is an excellent see-ball, get-ball defender that won’t miss tackles.

5: Jalen Pitre – Baylor – 5’11/198

Grade: 78

Summary: Fifth year senior from Stafford, TX. Four-year starter that finished off his career earning first team All-Big 12 and All-American honors respectively in addition to winning the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Award. Pitre has played all over the Baylor defense throughout the course of his career. He has seen as much time at linebacker as he has defensive back. His frame will undoubtedly move him to a hybrid nickel/safety role in the NFL. Pitre’s lack of size almost never shows up when it comes to physical impact and presence. He plays strong, aggressive, and physical far beyond what his body suggests. Pitre also shows the mental capacity to handle multiple roles in a defense if a role can be carved out for him. Where his lack of size shows up is when he is left on an island against tight ends. He can be overshadowed easily, and it turns into him either getting beat or too grabby with his hands. There are a few injury concerns from Pitre’s past that will need to be considered and investigated prior to drafting him. In the right role, he can be a valuable nickel defender that will impact the game in multiple ways but there are some situations he will need to be protected from.

*There seems to be a lot more interest in this kid than what I thought there would be. I always had a round 3/4 outlook on him, but some of the guys I’ve read and spoken with say he is going day 2. Just watching the Baylor defense the past two years, I thought a lot of the production came from the role he was put into. Meaning, anyone would have had it. End of the day he is small when it comes to the reach/radius game and there isn’t a ton of feel in coverage. I could see the round 3 fit, but round 2 is really rich. I don’t see the high ceiling and there are some durability concerns.

6: Bryan Cook – Cincinnati – 6’1/206

Grade: 77

Fifth year senior from Cincinnati, OH. One-year starter for the Bearcats after transferring from Howard University where he spent his first two collegiate seasons. Earned first team All-AAC honors in 2021. Cook had to wait his turn, as he sat behind two safeties that were draft picks in 2020. He took advantage of the opportunity, proving that his skill set caught up to his ideal blend of tools for the position. If safeties were made in a factory, they would come out looking like Cook. He is athletically thick, shows elite burst and acceleration, and is equally impactful as a cover man and tackler. Cook’s versatility was on full display in 2021, as the former cornerback lined up all over the secondary and seemed both comfortable and able across the board. His upside is as high as any safety in the class if he can continue the path he took from the start of 2020 to his current state. He just needs to prove he can play fast in deep coverage and forecast more naturally.

*Cook’s draft prep has been impacted by a shoulder surgery he underwent in January. He did not workout at the combine or the Cincinnati Pro Day. Something to consider even though all signs point to full recovery and him being ready by summer. Cook has limited tape, thus the grade is on the risky side. I project him to start based on tools and versatility. I think the very least you get out of him is a really good special teamer.

7: Nick Cross – Maryland – 6’0 – 212

Grade: 77

Summary: Junior entry from Bowie, MD. Three-year starter that earned Honorable Mention All-Big 10 honors all three seasons. Cross is a do-it-all safety with a slight bias toward downhill run defense. He has the power presence and thickness to support his style that can give the defense extra support in the box. He anticipates and reacts with suddenness and explosion. Cross then has the final gear to play noticeably faster than the opponent. He has excellent catch-up speed in coverage and has proven himself in deep zone to reach the sideline from a Cover 2 role. Cross needs to be kept away from man coverage against receivers as often as possible but his versatility, short area burst, and instincts will create plays for the defense as a starting safety.

*He picked up some steam late in the process with a solid final four games (probably his best stretch over his career) and a really impressive combine workout. Cross size and speed pair well with his play style to create the label of “enforcer” of a defensive backfield. For the teams that want a safety to impact the running game like a linebacker, this is your guy. He is a weapon as a lateral pursuit guy. I have a hard time seeing him as a difference maker in coverage, thus some teams will see day three here. The range in which I see him going is really wide. Again, a nice complement to what NYG has at safety right now and a Wink-fit.

8: Kerby Joseph – Illinois – 6’1/203

Grade: 74

Summary: Senior entry from Orlando, FL. One year starter that made the most out of that one season, earning first team All-Big 10 honors. Joseph was a bit of a late bloomer, as he did not lock down a starting gig until his fourth year. He then went on to be the only player in the nation with five interceptions and three fumble recoveries in 2021. The playmaker brings a near-ideal blend of tools to the table that will work best in a scheme that shows a lot of two-high looks. His easy-moving hips, length, and ability to high-point the football will create for the defense. While he will not offer much as a run defending power presence, he is a solid form tackler and plays aggressive enough. He projects to an eventual starter at the next level.

*I always get a little hesitant about one-year starters unless they come from big time programs and/or they had NFL players in front of them during their non-starting seasons. Neither is the case here for Joseph. That said, Joseph was pretty highly praised by a couple Big 10 coaches that I’ve spoken with and he had a nice education from Lovie Smith. Based on his tape alone, Joseph can play. You may have to be patient with him, more so than others, but there is a lot to like here.

9: Verone McKinley III – Oregon – 5’10/198

Grade: 74

Fourth year junior entry from Carrollton, TX. Three-year starter that ended his career with first team All-Pac 12 and All-American honors. McKinley tied for the national lead in interceptions just two years after leading the Pac-12 in that department as a redshirt freshman. He is a proven playmaker in the secondary that has seen himself lineup all over the defense. His production and tape are solid to say the least, but there are some shortcomings when it comes to speed and size. He falls below the desired height, weight, and length parameters for the position, and it shows up as a tackler. McKinley plays hard and aggressive, but the number of whiffs is alarming. He also struggled against big targets in contested situations. McKinley projects to a nickel role (he arrived at Oregon as a cornerback) that needs to be schemed around to maximize his potential impact.

*Some will look at the turnover numbers and boost him up a bit. He does have a good sense where to go and when to make the breaks in that direction, but we are talking about a guy that isn’t fast or big and he can’t tackle. I don’t want that at safety. Maybe he can find a role as a nickel (former CB, remember) – but the speed concerns could be even bigger there. I think he can be a sub-package guy though. I just don’t see the development into a starter.

10: Yusuf Corker – Kentucky – 6’0/203

Grade: 73

Fifth year senior from McDonough, GA. Three-year starter and two-time team captain that has a lot of experience under his belt. Corker can impact the game in a variety of ways because of a dependable, ever-present feel for the game and situations. His eyes and instincts consistently put him in the right position within short to intermediate areas. The lack of top end speed and agility can be a liability in serious coverage roles, however. He does not turn naturally and will not show enough range in deep spaces. Corker’s size and inconsistent tackling may keep him in a backup role, but he can be an asset in sub packages and special teams. He is a player that will give you exactly what you expect but be sure you know what to expect.

*Corker has the look and style of a guy that coaches trust. He knows his role, gets to his points in a hurry, and rarely looks confused. He is a kid that belongs, plain and simple. The tools, though, may not be quite good enough and the missed tackles at this position always cause a downgrade on my sheet. Maybe a special teamer and solid backup – but I wouldn’t expect much more.

11: Juanyeh Thomas – Georgia Tech – 6’1/212

Grade: 72

Summary: Senior entry from Niceville, FL. Three-year starter that earned honorable mention All-ACC honors in 2021. Thomas burst on to the scene as a big time a special teamer in 2018. He led the team in special teams tackles and returned two kicks for touchdowns. He also returned an interception for a score in spot duty. Thomas had a lot of hype surrounding him after that point, but he never quite met the expectations. His tools are easy to see. He is big, fast, and physical. The acceleration and pursuit are difference making traits. Beyond the surface level, however, Thomas appears to be a liability in most coverage roles. There is too much tightness in his hips and he shows minimal feel for route concepts and combinations. Thomas is easily fooled by misdirection as well. He should factor on special teams early on, but his only potential role will be a box-safety and one that needs to avoid wide receivers.

*Thomas may get a little overhyped by some. His tools are impressive, and he makes the highlight reel often. He is a fun player to watch, but also very frustrating. I don’t see NYG looking here unless they want to groom him for a special teams-only type role. I even think there is a shot he moves to linebacker where you can almost guarantee he won’t be depended upon to cover receivers. Simplify his role and he may be able to make an impact. There aren’t many safeties better than him in pursuit.

12: Quentin Lake – UCLA – 6’1 – 201

Grade: 71

Summary: Fifth year senior from Irvine, CA. Four-year starter that earned second team All-Pac 12 honors in 2021. Father, Carnell, was an All-Pro linebacker for the Steelers. Quentin plays the game like you would think a former player and coach’s son would. The flow to the action is there weekly. Lake plays the game a step ahead mentally and while it does somewhat make up for some of the athleticism shortcomings, he may not be the guy you want as your last line of defense. He has some issues with his footwork and the top end speed will not catch guys from behind. Lake projects as a backup and potential high-end special teamer.

*NFL lineage means something more for some teams. They love the idea that these kids coming into the league knowing to expect. Lake’s father has some coaching experience too and it is an easy assumption after watching his tape that he will be a quick-learn in the league. That is important for safeties and it could easily boost the outlook in come draft rooms.

13: JT Woods – Baylor – 6’2/195

Grade: 71

Senior entry from San Antonio, TX. Three-year starter that earned Honorable Mention All-Big 12 honors twice. Woods, a former member of the Baylor track team and top-shelf sprinter, will attract teams for two reasons. One, he brings incredible speed and burst to the back end that he does not completely know how to use yet. Two, he has a knack for making a big play in big moments. His nine interceptions since the start of the shortened 2020 season should give a solid glimpse into what he can bring to the table once the ball is in the air. He is a gambler on the back end, but he plays fast and will react in a blink. Woods has some work to do on the mental side and he does not have a stoutness to his game, but this kind of speed and playmaking ability is worth taking a chance on.

*Elite speed and one of the top defensive playmakers in the class when looking at turnovers. That combination alone could easily get him drafted a round or two earlier than this. Woods produced at a high level he still has the look of someone that is still trying to figure things out. He does not see route concepts or combinations well. He does not tackle well. But the talent here is worth the gamble, it is just a matter of when.

14: Smoke Monday – Auburn – 6’2/207

Grade: 71

Summary: Senior entry from Atlanta, GA. Two-year starter that earned second team All-SEC honors in 2020. Monday was used all over the Auburn defense as a queen chess piece that could move in all directions, align anywhere, and do anything. He skill set fits tremendously for teams that like to interchange their two safeties into different roles. Monday can credibly creep up to the line and defend the run, although he needs to clean up his consistency as tackler. He can drop back into deep coverage, although he needs to improve his turn and run stability. Monday may not have starter potential, but he can provide solid depth and special teams play early on.

*The idea of Monday may be a bit rich compared to what I think he will actually bring to the field. This is a nice safety net (no pun intended) to have behind a pair of starting safeties or a set of guys that rotate in. I do think he can be special teams force too. He sticks his nose into traffic with as much toughness as anyone at the position. The high hips and tight movement in coverage would worry me if he were out there every snap.

15: Tycen Anderson – Toledo – 6’2/209

Grade: 71

Summary: Fifth year senior from Toledo, OH. Three-year starter that earned All-MAC honors twice, first team in 2021. Anderson has been a mainstay within the Toledo secondary since 2018. He has lined up in a variety of spots thanks to a versatile skill set and excellent measurables. He may not have a specific spot to fit in right away, but a creative defensive coordinator should be able to carve out a role for him in sub packages. His size, speed, and closing ability can factor near the line of scrimmage and against tight ends in coverage. He is a chess piece that has not shown natural flow and instincts for an every down role yet, but there is something to work with here. Checks all the boxes when it comes to measurables.

*Anderson will be drafted higher than where I have him. The tools are attractive, and he is a tough kid. This is a guy I think NYG could be looking at to add to the back end of the depth chart. Baltimore has had a few players with this profile and if Wink has the pull I think he is going to, Anderson could easily but the day 3 add. I just don’t want it to be too early. I question the ability in coverage beyond covering a tight end.

BEST OF THE REST

16: Kolby Harvell-Peel – Oklahoma State – 6’0/213: 71
17: Leon O’Neal – Texas A& M – 6’0/204: 71
18: Delarrin Turner-Yell – Oklahoma – 5’10/197: 70
19: Sterling Weatherford – Miami (OH) – 6’4/215: 69
20: Bubba Bolden – Miami – 6’2/209: 69
21: Percy Butler – Louisiana – 6’0/194: 68
22: Dane Belton – Iowa – 6’1/205: 68
23: Tre Sterling – Oklahoma State – 5’11/206: 68
24: Qwynnterrio Cole – Louisville – 6’0/206: 68
25: Greg Eisworth – Iowa State – 5’11/204: 67
26: Markquese Bell – Florida A& M – 6’2/212: 67
27: Daniel Wright – Alabama – 6’0/197: 67
28: Brad Hawkins – Michigan – 6’0/210: 67
29: Nolan Turner – Clemson: 6’1/202: 66
30: D’Anthony Bell – West Florida – 6’1/211: 66

NYG APPROACH

When I look at what NYG has at safety and where I think the direction of this defense is heading, I see spot for a new guy that can come from this draft class. What kind of player are we looking at? I think it will be a guy that leans more toward the safety-linebacker hybrid more so than the safety-corner hybrid. McKinney and Love can handle the coverage responsibilities but I’m not sure either one of them brings what Martindale wants in the run game. In addition, I think both have shortcomings when it comes to defending tight ends in coverage. The trend around the league right now is to make sure you have at least one guy that is designated to that kind of coverage. He does not need to be an every down defender, but you need to have that guy. Because I don’t see that guy on the Giants depth chart right now (which can change via a signing, I know), that role can be added at ANY point in the draft. As high as the top 10 with Kyle Hamilton or Lewis Cine day 2, as low as late day three with a guy like Sterling Weatherford, Tycen Anderson, or Smoke Monday. I would put the odds of a safety being picked very high, more than 80%.

Jan 112022
 
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Jake Fromm, New York Giants (January 9, 2022)

Jake Fromm – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

In a year where the NFL opted to add a week to the regular season and one more game to every team’s schedule, NYG just happened to go through arguably the worst season of its long history. What has seemed like a painfully-long 4+ months finally had an end in sight, as NYG matched up against division-rival Washington in front of a home crowd that appeared smaller and less interested than a preseason game. Washington, entering the game 6-10 in Year 2 of the Ron Rivera regime, had lost 4 straight and was without several key defenders. It was one of a handful of games around the league that had zero impact on the playoff picture but could move the needle a bit when it came to the 2022 NFL Draft order.

The opening drive resulted in an easy 3 points for WAS as they marched right down the field with minimal resistance from the NYG defense. Quarterback Jake Fromm marched out under center, receiving another shot at the job after Mike Glennon missed the game with a wrist injury. The opening NYG offensive drive resulted in a couple first downs as they approached field goal range. Rather than taking the points via the foot of Graham Gano, they opted for a jet sweep to Alex Bachman on 4th-and-1. He was tackled for a 3-yard loss as somebody forgot to block the one defender who had the first shot at blowing up the play. Turnover on downs.

The rest of the first half included four 3-and-outs by the NYG offense and uneventful drives by WAS. The standout play, however, was an ideal summary to what this NYG offense and team overall have become. NYG was backed up inside their own 5-yard line with 5:42 left in the half. Fromm missed fullback Elijhaa Penny with a poor throw before Penny was flagged for a false start. They were now on their own 2-yard line, 2nd-and-11. Judge made the call to QB sneak it two straight plays. It was an obvious decision as well, as the formation told everyone with half a brain what was coming. I have never seen this before especially for a team that had nothing to lose.

WAS added 3 more points as they maintained a solid grip on the field position battle and were up 6-0 at halftime. NYG had 48 yards on 22 plays against a bottom-third defense that was missing half of its starting lineup.

NYG began the second half with the ball and gained a first down on a Devontae Booker run. Perhaps they figured something out during the break? Booker was then tackled for a 2-yard loss before 2 straight incompletions by Fromm. Another punt. After forcing a stop once WAS was approaching field goal range, NYG got the ball back on their own 14-yard line, still down 6. The drive was over on the fourth play, as Fromm was intercepted by cornerback Bobby McCain who returned it 30 yards for the game’s first touchdown. The 2-point conversion attempt failed, and the WAS lead was at 12.

The 3rd quarter came to a close as the NYG drive stretched to 14 plays and included two conversions on 4th down, two on 3rd. All stemmed from the arm or legs of Jake Fromm. On 3rd-and-7 from the WAS 22-yard line, he hit Darius Slayton (yes he is still on the team) for a touchdown. They were within 5 against an offense that had yet to put the ball in the end zone themselves. That lasted one drive, as Antonio Gibson who rushed for a career-high 146 yards on the day, ran one in for a 1-yard touchdown.

Fromm was sacked on the very first play of the ensuing drive and lost a fumble, putting WAS in superb field position yet again. That resulted in a 23-yard field goal to put the game at 22-7 as every NYG fan, what was left of them, watched the clock waiting for it to read 0:00 with more intent than Times Square on New Year’s Eve waiting for the ball to drop.

The two teams traded uneventful possessions as NYG had the ball for the final time of this dismal season. Fromm, right on cue, ended that drive with an interception into the hands of McCain for the second time.

NYG loses 22-7.

QUARTERBACK

-Jake Fromm: 15/31 – 103 yards / 1 TD – 2 INT / 40.1 RAT

Over the team’s final 4 games, Fromm’s 40.1 RAT was the best out of a starting quarterback on this team. Yes, you read that right. He did add 53 yards on the ground, which was more than the Barkley-Booker duo. His accuracy on the easy underneath throws was poor and his arm talent simply isn’t good enough for anything downfield on a consistent basis. The question will eventually be asked, should Fromm be in the fold for a backup job next year? Personally, I saw enough. He isn’t a pro quarterback. There is no physical upside. Unless he is a top-notch presence in meetings and on the practice field, I’ll pass.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley ran for 30 yards on 11 carries and caught 3 of 4 targets for 19 yards. He finishes the season with 856 total yards (4.2 per touch), 4 touchdowns, and 2 fumbles in 13 games (12, really). Such a far cry from his 2,028 yards (5.8 per), 15 touchdown, 0-fumble rookie season in 2018. Is there anything positive to take from this season regarding Barkley coming from someone that wanted him back in 2018? To be short, no. His best rushing performances did come on the back of the season, but I still see far too much hesitation and a lack of consistent burst out of his cuts. I don’t see a real trade market for him, thus we will see #26 in 2022 if I had to guess right now. We won’t ever know what he is until the group up front gets fixed and even if the team uses top the 10 picks on linemen, there is no guarantee it will make a major difference right away. Rookie offensive linemen are generally very inconsistent.

-Devontae Booker ran for 14 yards on 8 carries and caught both of his targets for 12 yards. If nothing else, the 6-year veteran was always there for this team. He didn’t miss a game and was the back who made the most of his opportunities. He didn’t fumble once on 185 touches, something we would be very happy about had this team been a contender. His 861 yards were the highest of his career since his rookie season where he started 6 games (played in all 16) for DEN. Booker’s cap hit is $3 million in 2022. Should he be brought back or should NYG take the $1 million cap hit and cut him loose? I think Barkley will not be in the long-term vision of the new regime, thus I would love for them to use a mid-round pick on a new back with fresh legs. Let him and Barkley man the backfield in 2022, cut Booker loose and use the money elsewhere.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Kenny Golladay’s horrid season after signing his $72 million deal isn’t getting enough attention. There are bigger issues with this franchise, but this is a contract that may rival the Nate Solder one that was signed in 2018. Currently he has one of the biggest 7 contracts in the league at wide receiver and is coming off a year with 0 touchdowns, just over 2 catches per game, and a career low 14.1 yards per catch. His speed and suddenness look half of what it was in DET and I can’t say he inspired me with a ton of hope for the future. His cap hit for the next 3 years are all $21 million respectively. NYG will be feeling that one for a while.

-Darius Slayton caught 2 passes, one of which was the lone NYG score of the day. It was his second touchdown of the season, the first coming against WAS as well on September 16. The 10.3% drop percentage and lack of progress across the board since his strong rookie season should kick him to the curb this offseason and be replaced with a rookie.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram caught a pass for 4 yards and Kyle Rudolph led team with 4 catches, totaling 17 yards. This is another position where NYG may need to wipe the slate clean and start over. As my draft grades are becoming more and more clear each week, I see several potential picks here that are worth drafting as early as round 2. Engram proved he does more harm than good, and the Rudolph signing was a good idea on paper but he has a whopping $7.4 cap hit in 2022. The team could save $5 million (using it elsewhere such as the OL? DL?) by cutting him. That is a no brainer to me.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Andrew Thomas pitched a shutout and capped off an incredibly-successful sophomore season in the NFL. There are a few players on this team who can be a part of the long-term future and Thomas may be the lead guy. Not a bad place to start considering the position he plays. He is reliable on an island, made strides with his consistency, plays through pain, and shows up to work every day.

-NYG was torched inside and even though I think NYG will likely go OT with one of their first 3 picks, I think the biggest issue are the 2 guard spots and center. They can’t get a push at all, they’re terrible in pass protection, and there is no hope for the future with anyone on the roster. Ben Bredeson relieved Will Hernandez, who went down with an ankle injury. He received the lowest grade on the line, allowing 3 pressures and a half-sack. He was also flagged for a hold, but it was declined. Matt Skura moved back to guard, as Billy Price returned. Price allowed 2.5 sacks, Skura allowed a TFL, and both allowed 1 pressure.

-Nate Solder played what was likely his final game in the NFL, most certainly last as a Giant. He was flagged for illegally being downfield but was pretty quiet otherwise. He finished with an above average grade for just the 3rd time this season.

-Korey Cunningham and Wes Martin saw time as extra blockers in this high school-caliber offense. We even saw Cunningham running routes asking for the ball like we saw kids in recess do back in the day.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Dexter Lawrence summed up his season perfectly in this game. He finished with 5 tackles, 1 TFL, and 2 pressures when looking at the positives. The negatives don’t show up on the traditional stat sheet. He was the guiltiest culprit, or at least tied with Jaylon Smith, for WAS running back Antonio Gibson going crazy on the ground. Several runs went right by him, as he was late to reach his points and didn’t disengage well enough. He is such an up-and-down presence who struggles to play the lateral game.

-Leonard Williams had a sack and a pressure. Again, credit to him for finishing the year while playing with what I have heard is a very painful elbow injury. This kid is here for the long term and remains one of the top-5 defensive tackles in the game. I do wish he offered more against the run, however. Because of his lack of stoutness, the players around him need to specialize in that department. Another reason why I’m not confident Lawrence is the right fit here.

LINEBACKER

-Lorenzo Carter finished the season on a hot streak that began toward the beginning of December. He was all over the field, finishing with 10 tackles (a career high) and a sack. I recorded it as a split sack with Azeez Ojulari, who finished with 3 tackles and 2 pressures, but the official scorekeeping gave it to Carter by himself. That gave him 5 sacks on the year, all of which came in the final 4 games. Carter’s margin in his movement from now to the start of the year, Defensive Coordinator’s Patrick Graham’s affirmation of respect for him, and the way he ended the year will likely get him a spot on this roster next year. The speed bump and potential roadblock there, however, is whether or not there will be a market for him in free agency. 14.5 sacks in 49 games (32 starts) doesn’t exactly spell big contract, but there is no denying his tool set and this league has a way of surprising when it comes to the pursuit of pass rushers.

-Tae Crowder led the team with 12 tackles (1 TFL) and finished the year with 130 on the year. 17 starts and ranking 15th in the league in tackles is quite impressive for a 7th round pick in his second year. Make no mistake about it, Crowder is a solid player who many teams would love to have as an inside backup. But as we have seen for most of the year, he had too many negative plays that led to the big rushing day WAS had. Moving forward, Crowder can be an accessory piece to this defense but you can’t keep his spot in the starting lineup etched in stone.

-Jaylon Smith ended with 5 tackles and a pass break up. From the broadcast angle and to the casual fan, Smith looks like a player. Part of the reason is the fact he makes a dramatic scene every time he makes a play. Focusing in on his play-to-play impact led me to a lower outlook though. He has terrible gap integrity and washes himself out of so many running plays. There is also a hitch in his step that I don’t recall seeing when he was at the top of his game.

CORNERBACK

-Adoree’ Jackson and James Bradberry both played the entire game. They were torched early on as Terry McLaurin made them look silly via route running and playing the ball in the air. They settled down a bit with WAS leading for nearly the entire game, they weren’t challenged much. These 2 will almost certainly be back for the 2022 season. Not a bad duo, but a very expensive one.

-Rookie Aaron Robinson saw just 8 snaps and didn’t impact the game much. Unfortunate rookie year for him, as he missed much of the year but there was enough for me to remain optimistic in this scheme.

SAFETY

-Logan Ryan remained one of the main contributors and leaders of the defense, playing hard through the end. He had 7 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 pressure.

-Xavier McKinney finished with 8 tackles and a pass break up, a ball he nearly intercepted but didn’t fully control when he went to the ground. His midfield-to-sideline speed shows up and the anticipation he shows is a weapon. Really impressive year for him, a season after he missed 10 games.

-Julian Love finished with 2 tackles, playing about two-thirds of the snaps. His playing time has been so back and forth this season, but he still has another year on his rookie deal, and I expect to see the same out of him next year. He brings a lot of value to the table with his versatility.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 1/1 XP.
-P Riley Dixon: 6 punts / 51.0 avg – 47.2 net

3 STUDS

-OT Andrew Thomas, OLB Lorenzo Carter, S Logan Ryan

3 DUDS

-OC Billy Price, OG Ben Bredeson, QB Jake Fromm

3 THOUGHTS ON WAS

(1) Year Two of the Ron Rivera regime looked awfully like year one. 7 wins in 2020, 7 wins 2021. The defense went backward, they’re in no-man’s land at quarterback, and they’re too far down the draft list to go after a top target in Round 1. They are strong in the trenches, but that talent pool won’t be together too much longer because of finances. Next season will be a big one for Rivera and you must think he is going to bang the table hard to be one of the teams in the QB trade market this offseason. They’re ready for it.

(2) Jamin Davis, their 1st round pick last April, opened a lot of eyes as the season progressed. We all knew about the elite tool set but at the start of the year, he looked lost mentally. His back half of the season looked completely different, and I think they can go into the offseason very confident in yet another component on their defense.

(3) Right guard Brandon Scherff is the highlight free agent of this current WAS squad. The 30-year-old is one of the top 5 or 6 guards in the league, but will he shake free? Because WAS won’t have much money wrapped into the quarterback spot, he could very easily be brought back on a long deal. They could also franchise him. If he does hit the market, expect him to be the highest paid guard in football.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

(1) It is really hard for me to sum up this season without sounding like a jerk. I’ll try my best by focusing in on the building blocks NYG has on the roster. They appear to be set at 2 positions that are VERY hard to find. Andrew Thomas is a keeper at left tackle if that foot holds up. Hate to see such big guys deal with lower joint issues early in their career. Xavier McKinney looks to be a true centerfield threat in the middle of the defense. These guys are incredibly hard to find, there are only a few good ones in the league. And he still doesn’t have a lot of game experience yet. Lastly, Azeez Ojulari finished 4th in the league among rookies in QB hits (13) and 3rd in sacks (8). I’ve highlighted several times how much he disappeared between those big plays, but there is no denying the strong start to his career. A pass rusher, a left tackle, and a ball hawking free safety all under rookie deals for the next few years is a solid base to stand on as this rebuild moves on.

(2) NYG will have 5 of the first 80 picks in the draft, including 2 in the top 10. We have countless discussions in our future about what they should, and should not, do. I look forward to them if they remain respectful and humble. There is A LOT that will happen between now and then. I suggest everyone stay very open-minded at this moment. Anything and everything are on the table and I likely won’t marry myself to an idea or prospect until April when my final grades are dished out. I will say this to get it all started: I don’t see a QB worth pursuing in the top 10. I think it will be an interesting idea on Day 2. Nonetheless, I am under the assumption Daniel Jones will be the QB without any intra-team competition. This is barring the neck injury keeping him out for good which is still a possibility.

(3) Dave Gettleman is gone. Joe Judge appears to be safe for now. I will go on record now that the season is over saying there is no point in keeping Judge around. This team likely won’t be ready to compete until 2023 at the very earliest. He didn’t earn a thing. I would rather have the new head coach in ASAP, pair him with the new GM, and get this all-time losing culture out of the basement. Keeping Judge around may make the ownership feel loyal, warm, and fuzzy but barring an unlikely miracle of epic proportions, Judge will be out at this time next season. Why delay the inevitable? Why not let the new GM start from scratch rather than move backwards after a year? Ownership needs to do a better job of forecasting than they have over the past decade. Start with the obvious, go from there. The only scenario where I see it making sense is the ideal HC candidate simply not being there yet or NYG ownership not being prepared, which would not be a surprise to anybody. The timing on this is sensitive and there is a very small margin for error.

***Thank you for reading the reviews. See you in April when the draft previews come out.

Jan 052022
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (January 2, 2022)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

On the opening night of the 2021 NFL Draft, NYG and CHI paired together for one of the biggest trades of the weekend. CHI traded up, offering their own first rounder, a fifth rounder, and 2022 1st and 4th round picks. It was quite the haul on paper for NYG, and CHI finally got their hands on a big time QB prospect, Ohio State’s Justin Fields. Fast forward to week 17 of the 2021 season. The two teams were a combined 9-21, they were both bottom-5 in offensive yards per play, and their 1st round picks (Fields and Kadarius Toney) were both on the sidelines with respective injuries. The two have played in just a combined 17 out of 32 possible games. The futures are looking bleak for the two storied franchises, cornerstones of the NFL in two of the biggest markets in the country. Both general managers are unlikely to be back and both head coaches are on the hot seat. Bears vs. Giants, one of the most irrelevant games of the NFL season.

The struggles of the NYG offensive line have been beaten into our minds over and over for close a decade now. I know it gets old reading about it and, trust me, it has gotten even older to write about it. On the first play of the game, Mike Glennon was sacked by Trevis Gipson, forcing a fumble that was scooped up by Bilal Nichols and returned to the NYG 2-yard line. CHI running back David Montgomery scored a play later to give CHI the 7-0 lead before 19 seconds ticked off of the game clock. NYG gained 20 yards on 4 rushing plays on their next drive before they tried to drop back and throw the ball again. Glennon then proceeded to throw an interception to Tashaun Gipson. CHI turned that into another 7 points, this time a pass from Andy Dalton to Darnell Mooney. The 5-10 Bears were up 14-0 less than 7 minutes after the game began. It was the first-time all-season CHI scored more than 7 points in the opening quarter.

The next NYG drive ended with NYG trying to throw again. Glennon was sacked. Drive over. The two horrid offenses traded a few scoreless drives. NYG was actually having some per-play success on the ground which shouldn’t have caught anyone off guard. CHI’s run defense came in having allowed the 24th-most rushing yards in the league (3rd least against the pass). NYG did all they could in regard to the offensive game plan to maximize the disparity. Extra linemen, Saquon Barkley in the wildcat, and a 21:4 run/pass ratio on their first 25 plays. The issue was an immediate 14-0 deficit. A 38-yard field goal brought the sore to 14-3, but a 21-yard field goal by CHI quickly restored the lead back to two touchdowns.

With 1:00 left in the first half, a blunder on the kick return by Pharoh put NYG on their own 5-yard line. Devontae Booker lost 3 yards on the first play, Derrick Kelly was flagged for a false start on the next play, and all the sudden the NYG offense that had a front line less sturdy than water trying to simply get the clock to run out in desperation to avoid a safety. It did not work. Booker was tackled for a loss, giving CHI another 2 points via the safety :46 left. It ended up being enough time for CHI to move the ball into field goal range, getting CHI yet another 3 points via a 44-yard kick through the uprights. 22-3 at the halfway point.

CHI started the second half with the ball and scored via David Montgomery’s second touchdown of the day. That would be it for the scoring. Glennon and Dalton both threw interceptions. Glennon lost another fumble on another sack. NYG turned the ball over on downs. CHI running back Montgomery threw an interception, yes you read that right. This turned into as close to an unwatchable game as it gets in today’s NFL. It almost seemed like we weren’t even watching professional football.

NYG loses 29-3.

QUARTERBACK

-Mike Glennon: 4/11 – 24 yards / 0 TD – 2 INT / 5.3 RAT

Add in the four fumbles (2 lost), and we are talking about worst quarterback and overall passing-performance in the NFL this season and right up there with the worst we have ever seen within this franchise. That will be a theme of this review. Worst, ever. Glennon once again was overmatched by a defense that is one of the best in the league against the pass. Partially because he doesn’t belong on the field, partially because the support system around him is at a near all-time low. I don’t want to give Glennon a pass. On multiple occasions, he held on to the ball too long, made errant throws, and did not find the open man.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 21 att – 102 yards

For the first time since 12/22/19, Barkley rushed for over 100 yards. He hit that mark 7 times as a rookie in 2018. This game against CHI was only the 9th time since. The poor CHI run defense helped the cause here. One more observation I will share in regard to Barkley’s current skill set: hHis burst and straight-line acceleration are there. I expect them to be even better next season. What seems to be missing is the agility-speed. He is losing too much momentum and needing too much time to change direction and alter his path. When it comes to athleticism, that is most important for a back.

WIDE RECEIVER

-David Sills was the only receiver to walk away from this game with a catch. Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse than what we saw a week ago against PHI, this happens. I wish I had more for you guys regarding this position, but I don’t. Kenny Golladay was thrown to once, Pharaoh Cooper twice, and Sills once. When an offense looks like this top to bottom, the receivers are the ones you just can’t truly evaluate.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram tied for the team-lead in receiving on his 1 catch, which was 12 yards. The coaching staff opted to bring in help via extra linemen on running plays. Engram’s performance there has always been poor, and they seem to have phased him out of that role for the most part. Kyle Rudolph performed better in the trenches, as expected.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Tackles Andrew Thomas and Nate Solder both played every snap. Thomas allowed 1 sack late in the game, but otherwise was very solid. He seemed to get out of his stance late and just couldn’t make up that time to the edge. Solder allowed 2 sacks and looked overmatched. I cannot wait until the day I know longer have to study his tape and write his name. He’s been done for a long time now.

-Matt Skura played center for Billy Price. Please do not mistake me for a Price apologist, I don’t think he is a starting-caliber player. However, you can easily see the gap between him and a guy like Skura who was downright awful. He allowed 3 TFL and a pressure. CHI is really strong along the interior defensive line, and they give plenty of players a handful, but Skura did not belong on the field with them. What a rough end of year for him!

-Will Hernandez allowed a TFL and a sack. Both of those negative plays were textbook for what you tell an offensive lineman NOT to do. He was actually very good on the gap-blocking when he could get on his man straight ahead and try to bulldoze. Wherever he ends up in 2022, and it better not be here, he will need to be employed in a more gap-blocking than zone scheme. But even then, he just can’t pass block.

-Wes Martin, Derrick Kelly, and Ben Bredeson rotated at left guard. None of them stood out in any positive manner. Martin was the worst, allowing 2 TFL. Bredeson is the only one I would want on this roster moving forward.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-I continue to be impressed with the hustle and grit we are seeing from Leonard Williams. He led the team with 8 tackles and 2 pressures while playing with an injured elbow. He has become a barometer for the versatile DL prospects I scout. I usually use 2-3 guys from around the league from every position as the ceiling and Williams is one of them. Austin Johnson added 5 tackles, building off his solid season (maybe the best of his career).

-Because Dexter Lawrence and Danny Shelton were out with Covid, we saw an uptick in playing time for David Moa. The second-year undrafted free agent was overwhelmed at the point-of-attack. CHI was running over him with a lot of success.

-We didn’t see much from Raymond Johnson III or Woodrow Hamilton. They didn’t play much, and when they did, there wasn’t much to note in either a positive or negative way.

LINEBACKER

-If this team was in contention, we would be celebrating the signing of Jaylon Smith a bit more. He’s brought the needed combination of speed and power to the front. He had 7 tackles and a sack. I will say this: I can see where teams like GB and DAL didn’t see the scheme-fit. He is very much a freelancer who evades gaps and kind of does his own thing. When it works, he makes plays. When it doesn’t, the defense can get torched. It will be interesting to see what happens in free agency. Get him in the right scheme and I think it can work out in a big way.

-Tae Crowder had 6 tackles and missed 2. He also had a garbage-time interception.

-Lorenzo Carter, yet again, continued his late-season surge. He had 6 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, and a PD to earn the team’s highest grade. Even some things that do not show up in the box score were impressive. His backside pursuit and angles were outstanding. Carter is playing with a ton of hustle and is finishing his hits with power. This will be one of the more interesting guys to watch this offseason because he is now playing very well, and the coaching staff loves him.

-The trio of rookie Azeez Ojulari, Quincy Roche, and Elerson Smith did not have a lot to look back on. Ojulari had a TFL and a PD but was shut down as a pass rusher. Roche added 5 tackles but had several negatives on my scoring sheet when it came to run defense. He also didn’t pressure the quarterback. Smith played about a third of the snaps and finished with 1 pressure where, once again, his technique and bend were on display. He just isn’t stout enough for quality run defense especially when he is inside the tackle or head up.

CORNERBACK

-James Bradberry had a solid game in a tough matchup against Allen Robinson. He had an interception and broke up 2 passes. Adoree’ Jackson lined up as the starter on the other side and finished with 4 tackles. He gave up a lot on crossing routes.

-Rookie Aaron Robinson was beat for a touchdown and was lucky to not be beaten for a second one. He had a hard time playing sticky to the quicker Mooney who has quietly become one of the more underrated receivers in football. Robinson, like almost all young corners, has shown a lot of back and forth to this point. I think he is going to be a solid player though; I like how he responds to getting beat.

SAFETY

-Logan Ryan was all over the field. He had 5 tackles and 2 pass break ups. He dropped 2 interceptions. He was consistently at the right place, right time but he didn’t seal the deal on those 2 occasions.

-Xavier McKinney added 6 tackles and an impressive pass break up down the field where he came from midfield and showed the range we have seen several times. That is hard to find in this league and McKinney has it.

-Julian Love didn’t play much. I am interested to find out what the deal is with their usage of him. He has been all over the place this season with his snap counts even though I think he can be an incredibly valuable player in the secondary with his versatility.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 1/1 (Made 38)
-P Riley Dixon: 4 punts / 39.0 avg – 38.8 net

3 STUDS

-OLB Lorenzo Carter, RB Saquon Barkley, S Logan Ryan

3 DUDS

-QB Mike Glennon, OC Matt Skura, OG Wes Martin

3 THOUGHTS ON CHI

(1) There are some similarities between CHI and NYG. Their roots come from strong defensive football and the running game. Their cold-weather setting, hot/cold fan base, and place in NFL history still mean something. However, their inconsistent management and poor front-office performances have made the teams lose touch with what made them such a big deal in this league. CHI Ryan Pace has dropped the ball on so many occasions, but his track record far exceeds what NYG has dealt with. I do believe they are on the track toward contention but Pace, like Gettleman, needs to go. He was hired in 2015 and the team has gone 48-64 since and their salary cap is in poor condition.

(2) CHI is second in the NFL in sacks and that is with their premier rusher Khalil Mack playing in just 7 games. Robert Quinn is the main catalyst here, leading the league with 18 sacks. But what else has created one of the better pass defenses? Their second level (linebackers and box-safeties) have been superb. The NFL is such a quick-strike league and that part of the field needs to be better than just OK at coverage. They need to be fast, they need to be smart, and they need to react quickly. When looking at what NYG needs to elevate their defense, it can’t only be about the pass rush. It should start there, but I will be tapping on the door in the coming months reminding how much this team needs another inside linebacker and possibly a box safety.

(3) How close are the Bears? I think they are VERY close. Their record does not indicate where I think they currently sit. Not having a 1st rounder in 2022 will hurt a bit, but this will all come down to Fields taking the step up and the team finding more OL help. They won’t have the money to go out and get someone, but with how deep this OL class is coming up, I think they can find a legit starter on the outside in round 2. Fix that, get some more help next to Roquan Smith at LB, get Mack back in the fold, and this team can be a 9+ win team in a hurry.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

(1) The worst 2 games of Glennon’s 9-year career have come in the last 3 weeks. He has been on some bad, bad teams including the Jaguars last year. We are currently hearing a lot of talk about how Judge should be given a pass based on how rough the NYG roster and injury situations are. I go the other way. NYG wasn’t dealt a good deck of cards, I agree. Some bad luck and some really bad front office decisions. But how is anyone going to tell me this coaching staff is adjusting game plans to maximize the potential of the team? Nobody is winning 9 games with this roster, that isn’t the point. This is a team that cannot even compete with anyone in the league. Good coaching staffs will find a way to be competitive for at least part of the game. Instead, we are watching Matt Skura pull from his OC position and attempts to block a blitzing OLB? We are watching deep drop backs in the passing game? We are rotating the left guard, but not Will Hernandez? We still use play-action and pre-snap motion at near-bottom rates?

(2) One more game to watch, and then it is finally the offseason for NYG. I love football and I have an appreciation for NYG because they were the team I followed growing up. I now watch them as much as I watch everyone else in the league, but I still find myself pulling for them as do many of you. I get paid to do what I do, and I have aspirations to take this further. All that said, these games are actually hard to watch. I feel like I’m not even watching football. It looks like a high school game…one of those high school games where one team is playing with not one kid who will play in college against a team loaded with Division 1 recruits. That is the only comparison I can think of.

(3) Seeing all of the off-the-field talk brewing like a bad summer thunderstorm overhead is disheartening. Pat Hanlon losing control and flexing on Twitter, former scout Steve Verderosa finding ways to trash the organization publicly (he may be writing a behind-the-scenes book too), and a few other media outlets giving some damning information on ownership has made this organization look like an even bigger league-wide joke. Perhaps this is what we need, however, to get things truly shaken up beyond just a new coach. These are dark days, we all already know that. History as a way of repeating itself for those who choose to ignore it.

Dec 282021
 
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Jake Fromm, New York Giants (December 26, 2021)

Jake Fromm – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

“The most wonderful time of the year” had a different feel to it in 2021. The surge in Covid-19 cases continues to explode both within the league and in society itself. The impact it has had on everyday life over the past couple of weeks for many reminded us just how fragile the situation itself is. Sports have become an important escape for many. A time period, whether it be a 3-hour game or a full afternoon, to mentally escape the stresses created from this seemingly never-ending pandemic was what many had to look forward to. A classic NFC East matchup between the Giants and Eagles was on tap. Philadelphia was on the playoff bubble, sitting with a 7-7 record and winners of 4 of their last 5. The only loss within that stretch? November 28 vs. NYG. The Giants were all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, coming in at 4-10 with their last road win being October 3 at New Orleans. This game only added to the stress of life.

Jake Fromm got the nod at starting quarterback for the first time in the NFL. The hope was that a new face under center could help create a spark in what many consider to be the worst offense in the NFL. It certainly couldn’t be any worse, right? The first quarter was marred with poor offensive football. Both offenses gained one total first down each on the game’s first 6 combined possessions. Fromm last took on PHI starting quarterback Jalen Hurts in the 2018 National Championship. Boy have things changed for those two when it comes to their status regarding football.

NYG broke the scoreless tie via a 54-yard field goal by Graham Gano. Most of the offensive production on the drive came from running backs Saquon Barkley and Devontae Booker in addition to receiver Kadarius Toney, who saw the field for the first time since November 22. PHI kicker Jake Elliott missed a 41-yard attempt on the ensuing drive but did hit a 22-yarder after NYG went 3-and-out. The game was tied at 3 as the we headed into halftime with the two offenses combined for 225 yards, two thirds of which belonged to PHI.

Fromm was intercepted on the second play of the second half and that play spurred one of the ugliest in-game stretches of football this franchise has ever seen in an era of Giants football that is arguably the worst this franchise has ever seen. Boston Scott scored on a 3-yard touchdown run because a NYG vs PHI matchup doesn’t exist without him crossing the goal line. It was his 12th career touchdown, 8th against Big Blue in 3 years.

Fromm and NYG went 3-and-out again before PHI padded the lead with a 37-yard field goal by Elliott. Head Coach Joe Judge then opted to return Fromm to the bench to re-insert Mike Glennon. That confirmed that NYG did not have the next Tony Romo in Fromm. So close. Glennon went on to lead yet another 3-and-out drive before PHI scored yet another touchdown on a pass from Hurts to rookie Devonta Smith to bring the score to 20-3 as the game entered the 4th quarter. The first two possessions of that 4th quarter resulted in two more PHI touchdowns. One was a pass from Hurts to right tackle Lane Johnson right before a pick-6 that Glennon threw to PHI linebacker Alex Singleton. 34-3 with 10:19 left after NYG went up 3-0 in the 2nd quarter.

NYG then went on a meaningless 17-play drive that consisted of two third-down conversions and two fourth-down conversions. It ended with a touchdown pass from Glennon to Evan Engram. Perhaps it wasn’t so meaningless for those in their fantasy football playoffs but then again if you were relying on any Giants for your fantasy football matchups, you likely didn’t make the playoffs. The two teams traded scoreless possessions from there and this game couldn’t end soon enough. This season can’t end soon enough.

NYG loses 34-10.

QUARTERBACKS

-Jake Fromm: 6/17 – 25 yards / 0 TD – 1 INT / 19.5 RAT

-“Not ideal” for Fromm’s first career NFL start according to him. That is putting it kindly. To be blunt, Fromm looked like he didn’t belong on the field. For a quarterback who does not have tremendous arm talent, everything else needs to be near-flawless. Fromm’s accuracy was poor, the blocking in front of him was poor, and his ability to process the defense was poor. There was nothing positive to take from his performance.

-Mike Glennon essentially played the second half and went 17/27 for 93 yards and 1 TD / 1 INT. The one contrast I see between the two is arm strength and overall zip on the ball. Neither were particularly accurate, but Glennon throws a much better ball than Fromm and it isn’t close.

RUNNING BACKS

-Saquon Barkley was outproduced by Devontae Booker again. Barkley gained 28 yards on 16 touches, Booker 46 yards on 10 touches. The offensive line didn’t do them any favors as both, Barkley more so, was being contacted by defenders behind the line of scrimmage. Just an ugly overall game for the backfield that didn’t move the needle in either direction regarding the team’s future vision here.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-9 receptions for 62 yards. No, not by one player. That is the stat line for the entire wide receiver group. DeVonta Smith, a rookie for PHI, had 5 receptions for 80 yards.

-Kadarius Toney was back on the field and saw about half of the snaps. He ended with 4 catches and 28 yards. His balance wasn’t keeping up with his agility, as he looked rusty. On the PHI defensive touchdown, he didn’t finish his route and it gave Singleton that window to get his hands on the ball. The one issue with a receiver that is so intent on what he does after the catch is exactly what happened. He needs to remember: Get the ball first then make your move(s).

-Kenny Golladay didn’t bring in any catches until Glennon came in. With a quarterback like Fromm, one that is so limited when it comes to arm power and likely hesitant to throw into traffic, expecting Golladay to get looks was unlikely. He didn’t get to make many plays on the ball.

-Darius Slayton and David Sills each had 1 catch for a total of 12 yards.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram’s production also ticked upward after Glennon came back in. He had 3 catches from him for 19 yards including the team’s lone touchdown. Engram also added a drop to his season’s total.

-Kyle Rudolph was only on the field for a season-low 17 snaps. Interesting approach here for a team that couldn’t get the ball to receivers and on a team with an offensive line that was clearly overmatched.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-The PHI front is not a good matchup for NYG porous offensive line. In all honesty, we can say that about most lines NYG faces off against, but I didn’t think the NYG offense had a shot in this game for that reason.

-Nobody finished with a positive grade. Andrew Thomas was the closest. He allowed a pressure, a TFL, and was flagged for a false start. Derek Barnett, a free agent this upcoming offseason, won the 1 on 1 battle between the 2 over and over.

-Matt Peart suffered what appeared to be a serious knee injury on the third drive. He had allowed 2 pressures on the first 2 drives, clearly overmatched by Josh Sweat. His movement and stiffness were so poor. Korey Cunningham came in and played 88% of the snaps and it was clear to me he is the better player than Peart. I don’t want to beat a guy while he’s down, but that may be the last time we see Peart starting a game for NYG. His improvement and development have been non-existent since being drafted. If anything, he’s gone backward.

-Inside was a mess. Matt Skura allowed 4 pressures and a TFL while Billy Price and Will Hernandez allowed a pressure and TFL each. The running game was overwhelmed by how crowded it got between the tackles. Not only do they lack push, but they were being driven back 1-2 yards at least on inside runs. You just cannot move the ball in that scenario. Wes Martin relieved Skura in the second half and offered more of the same, except he held his ground against the bull rush a bit better.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Another week where I felt the defensive line got trounced in the running game. Dexter Lawrence continues to be an enigma to me. He finished with 3 pressures but was poor against the run. More on him below.

-Leonard Williams finished with 5 tackles, 1 pressure, and 1 PD. I am curious what this franchise plans on doing with him. Obviously, he is here long term, and I am more than fine with it. He is a unique player who can take over games, one of the top 5 DTs in the game. However, there are certain roles he just doesn’t excel in and one of them is 2-gapping the running game. Good blockers simply take him where he wants to go, and it opens massive running lanes. It is discouraging to say the least.

-The trio of Austin Johnson, Raymond Johnson, and David Moa did not offer much against the pass. They combined for 4 tackles and 0 pressures. Moa shows some grit inside but both he and Johnson were overwhelmed by the power run blocking of PHI.

LINEBACKERS

-Another impressive day for Lorenzo Carter, who is making a late season surge. He finished with 3 tackles, 1 sack, and 3 pressures. He also forced a fumble that PHI ended up recovering. He has that twitch and explosion back. Can one make the argument that he is now far enough removed from his Achilles’ injury to show what he truly is athletically? Yes. How much does that weigh regarding his future? That will be the point of interesting and hopefully respectful debate.

-Rookie outside linebackers Azeez Ojulari and Elerson Smith also flashed. Encouraging signs from a longtime sore spot on this defense. Ojulari finished with 3 tackles, 1 TFL, and 1 pressure. He made a couple of nice inside moves that I hadn’t seen yet. One of the focal points I have down for him heading into the offseason is more variety with his inside game. Good to see progress from him in this area right now. Smith only saw 13 snaps, but I saw exactly what I wanted to see on the play he got a pressure. Inside move with late bend and a tight-angled turn.

-Tae Crowder hasn’t been getting the best reviews from me this season and rightfully so. But what I like is just how hard he plays, start to finish. He is one physical dude but one who I hope is a backup next season, not a starter. He and Jaylon Smith were the main reasons why we see the NYG defensive backs making so many tackles. Just too late and not effective enough filling the gaps.

CORNERBACKS

-James Bradberry and Jarren Williams handled nearly all of the snaps at outside corner. They excelled early on showing tight coverage, but it wavered in the second half. They were getting burned up and down, left, and right. Bradberry was inches away from an interception.

SAFETY

-The trio of Julian Love, Logan Ryan, and Xavier McKinney was very busy. In fact, they were the 3 leading tacklers, combining for 15 of them. Love missed 2, McKinney missed 1. These guys are all over the field and when watching the All-22, it’s hard not to be impressed amidst such an unimpressive team overall. The general feel of this team is so poor, but I strongly believe they are a couple pass rushers and perhaps a linebacker away from being a very good group overall. Not an easy order but at the same time, not an impossible task. This safety trio is one of the best 5 in the NFL and I mean it. They can be built around and where NYG sits in the draft should be able to net one of those pieces.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 1/1 (Made 54)
-P Riley Dixon: 8 Punts / 36.8 avg – 28.0 net

3 STUDS

-OLB Lorenzo Carter, S Logan Ryan, OLB Azeez Ojulari

3 DUDS

-QB Jake Fromm, OG Matt Skura, WR Kadarius Toney

3 THOUGHTS ON PHI

(1) Can PHI be the random wildcard team that gets hot at the right time and surges through the playoffs? When I think about Jalen Hurts being the QB, my initial answer is no. But when I think about how important offensive/defensive line play can impact the game, I think yes. The trench-combination this team has could be one of the best 3 or 4 in the NFL right now. Some of their young players are peaking at the right time and Fletcher Cox is one of the best 5 DTs in the game. After all, they are the number one rushing team in the league.

(2) PHI rookie DT Milton Williams is a name to watch in the future. The 3rd round pick came in a little undersized for inside play (6’3/284) but PHI has found a nice role for him, and he has been contributing since Week 1. I think my grade (mid- to late-day 3) was way off. We are going to hear his name more and more in the coming years. That kind of body type is always hard to project because they are very scheme and role dependent. There are a handful of these guys in the 2022 class who I think can be difference makers in a similar way. I hope NYG can get their hands on one of them in the middle rounds.

(3) Wide receiver DeVonta Smith was a very sought-after prospect by many of us heading into the 2021 Draft, myself included. PHI leap-frogged NYG in a trade with DAL and took him. I remember having that pit-in-the-stomach feeling knowing we would see him twice a year for a long time. How has his rookie year been? He hasn’t missed a game. He’s played 86% of the snaps. He is by far the team’s #1 WR across every metric. Only Jaylen Waddle and Ja’Marr Chase are ahead of him among rookies. The team hasn’t used his strengths consistently enough when it comes to deep routes but when they do, he has shined. He has the look of a Justin Jefferson type weapon if the QB play gets elevated.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

(1) Dexter Lawrence, as noted above, is a tough player to truly figure out. Remember when he came into the league it was all about his size, presence, and sneaky athletic ability that we liked. A Linval Joseph-type with the upside of a Haloti Ngata. Simply put, he hasn’t gotten over the hump. Nice player? Sure. His pass rush is the one thing that has made somewhat of a difference here. However, the lack of consistent run stuffing has been a frustrating watch. Part of it is how he is used but I question him even if they move him to a true NT role. If there is one player on this roster who is marketable in an offseason trade, it is Lawrence. If he can be used to help build the OL or pass rush in any way, I pull that trigger.

(2) I just got done watching Miami play against New Orleans on Monday Night Football. While I think they are still a year away from credible AFC contention, I try to take some things away from the Dolphins in regard to building from the basement of the NFL in a competitive market. I’ve discussed their OL approach (it worked but it took years of patience with developing rookies). I’ve discussed their spending on defense with a quarterback on a rookie deal. But what can NYG do at WR when looking at MIA? I have a feeling that this won’t be taken well, but with one of those top 10 picks I think NYG should look hard at WR. I’m not sure the value will be there, but if it is, WR needs to be a consideration in addition to the OL. NYG needs to score more points and I’m not confident their skill position guys have the horses to do so despite how many resources that the team has already spent on the position.

(3) I am 36 years old. I began following this team in the mid-90’s and started to really follow this team closely in the early 2000’s. Then I got into professional scouting about a decade later, amping it up around 2014-2015. Not as long as some of you, I know. That said, this is by far the lowest of the low my eyes have seen. Forget about the record (which is horrific) since that Odell Beckham boat picture. I am talking about the simple quality of football and ability to compete. This is the lowest of the low. Completing passes to the flat seems like a chore. Blocking defenders at the point-of-attack seems impossible. Putting a consistent pass rush on the opposing quarterback never happens. We see as many drops and miscues and missed assignments as any team in the league. What exactly are we looking for from a head coach when evaluating him? Forget the pressers after games, almost all of them are worthless. I am talking about on-field evaluation. What are we actually looking for? A coach needs to be a problem solver and culture builder. Almost 2 years in, tell me what problems have been solved and which culture has been built? I’ll be waiting for that answer.

Dec 202021
 
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Lorenzo Carter, New York Giants (December 19, 2021)

Lorenzo Carter – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

As the holiday season approaches, Covid-19 is taking over the NFL and its rosters in ways we have not yet seen over the past two seasons. Several teams are missing multiple starters and the NFL even moved multiple games back a couple days in an effort to take control of this thing. NYG, a roster than had already been impacted by injuries, was now without multiple defensive backs and a couple wide receivers because of either positive tests and/or close contacts. DAL on the other hand was barely impacted by Covid-19 and as a matter of fact, their roster came into this Week 15 matchup as one of the healthiest in the league.

Mike Glennon started his third straight game for the Giants as Daniel Jones remained sidelined with a neck injury that still lacks clarity. Following a defensive stop, Big Blue had the ball starting inside their own 10-yard line. On 3rd-and-5, Glennon was hit as he threw the ball, causing an errant ball that ended up in the hands of DAL corner Jourdan Lewis. He returned the ball to the NYG 13 and two plays later, Ezekiel Elliott rampaged up the middle for a 13-yard touchdown. DAL had the early lead, 6-0.

NYG responded with a scoring drive much thanks to the running game. They began the drive with 6 straight rushing attempts and 8 out of 10 plays overall, with Saquon Barkley and Devontae Booker combining for 56 yards. The drive halted once they got inside the DAL 20-yard line, as the worst red-zone offense in the league padded their lead in that department by settling for a 35-yard field goal by Graham Gano.

DAL re-lengthened their lead with 3 more points of their own, a 26-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein. Their running game was getting what they wanted when they wanted. After a quick NYG possession, DAL used 6:37 of game clock on their next drive as they inched their way down field using 16 plays, reaching a 3rd down just three times. NYG did hold them to a field goal, however, as the young pass-rushing duo of Azeez Ojulari and Quincy Roche sacked Dak Prescott on 3rd down from inside the red zone.

With just under 2 minutes left in the half, NYG had a shot to put some points on the board themselves. This is the time period where they have been ranked worst in the league (62 point differential). After reaching their own 40-yard line, Barkley had the ball jarred loose by DAL defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and it was recovered by defensive tackle Carlos Watkins. DAL began with the ball in NYG territory with just :41 left but that is all they needed. They added 3 more points via a 27-yard field goal to make it 15-3 at the half.

NYG added 3 points on the first possession of the 2nd half via a 42-yarder by Gano. The score then stayed at 15-6 for most of the 3rd quarter. After Glennon was stuffed on a 4th-and-1 QB sneak attempt from their own 29-yard line, DAL used the field position to lead them to another touchdown. This, a one 1-yard pass from Prescott to tight end Dalton Schultz.

The 4th quarter was equally ugly for both offenses. The game saw three turnovers in a matter of 7 minutes. Two interceptions by Glennon, both being horrific throws, and a fumble by Prescott. That would be it for Glennon, as Jake Fromm came into the game with just under 4 minutes left. He moved the ball well as DAL softened their defense as a whole. They did reach the red zone but, as expected, the drive faltered and the NYG offense walked off the field after turning the ball over on downs. The league leader in fewest touchdowns scored (formerly tied with HOU) now sits atop the throne by themselves. DAL got the ball back and took a knee to end it, as they have now won 9 of the last 10 in the matchup.

NYG Loses 21-6

QUARTERBACK

-Mike Glennon: 13/24 – 99 yards / 0 TD – 3 INT / 24.8 RAT

This may very well be the last time we see Glennon throwing passes for NYG. On the year, he has thrown 129 times. 3 of them have been touchdowns, 7 have been interceptions. He is completed under 54% of those attempts and offers nothing as a runner. Glennon had his shot to prove he can at least function on the field, and he failed. I will touch on this down below, but there is no point in having him take snaps under center anymore. He throws a good, accurate ball on one out of every 3-4 passes and severely limits any potential this already-broken offense trots out onto the field.

-Jake Fromm came on to the field for a drive and looked OK. There is no point in evaluating his performance in either direction because of how soft the DAL defense was playing and the game-situation itself. However, he proved he can function in the offense well enough to warrant starts moving forward if Jones remains out.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 15 att – 50 yards / 4 rec – 24 yards

For the second week in a row, I am encouraged by the progress I have seen with Barkley and his overall footwork and urgency. He is taking the sure yards when they are there and seeming to be more confident with putting his foot in the ground and bursting north. 74 yards on 19 touches is far from impressive, and he isn’t gaining much after contact nor is he breaking many tackles. The fumble was a huge black eye on his game as well.

-Devontae Booker was one the offensive “stars” of the game for NYG. 74 yards on 8 carries and another 8 yards on 2 catches. He is best used in a complimentary role and always has been. Now that Barkley is back taking on the majority of the snaps, Booker is able to come in with fresh legs and take advantage of situational football. Two of NYG’s biggest plays were Booker runs (31 and 28 yards).

WIDE RECEIVER

-All but Kadarius Toney were on the field. This is a group of pass catchers that several have said would be a dangerous set of weapons. Collectively and individually, they’ve been anything but. Kenny Golladay caught 3 passes for 53 yards. 2 of those catches and 46 of those yards were in garbage time against the soft DAL defense.

-Sterling Shepard caught 2 passes, both on that final garbage-time drive, and tore his Achilles on one of the final plays. He will be out for the rest of the year and odds are this will keep him out of all if not most of the team offseason activities. It is very possible NYG has seen the last of him in a Giants uniform. His cap hit is $12.5 million in 2022.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram brought in 4 catches for 33 yards. He also dropped a pass and showed low football IQ after the catch. There isn’t much that needs to be said about Engram anymore. He is a fantastic athlete who has not developed into a quality football player. One can make the argument he has gone backwards within his skill set. His 15 drops over his past 28 games and 170 targets along with his bonehead decisions and poor blocking should easily be a one-way ticket to the exit door following this season.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Andrew Thomas pitched a shutout. The one negative play on his sheet (a pressure) came from Glennon evading pressure from the other side and into the arms of the DAL defender Thomas was responsible for. He was not docked on my scoring table. His comfort level and overall repeatability looks top notch right now and I believe he is only going to get better. He was nicked up late and it would be a shame to see him miss more time.

-As good a Thomas was, Will Hernandez was equally as bad. He allowed a sack, 2 pressures (1 of which led to a sack) and 1 TFL. He was also the one blown up on the failed 4th-and-inches conversion attempt.

-Guard Matt Skura and Billy Price both allowed a pressure, while the latter also allowed a TFL. They were solid in the straight-ahead running game but when asked to move laterally and/or adjust to the active DAL front, they just couldn’t hold onto their defenders. That was the biggest gap between the NYG line and DAL. The guys in blue couldn’t maintain their positions on their assignments at all.

-We saw another 50/50 split between Nate Solder and Matt Peart. It does look like this coaching staff knows they need to see Peart on the field, but he hasn’t earned full time duties. Peart was flagged for a false start on 4th-and-short which made NYG ultimately end up punting. I was told he received quite the earful when he came off of the field from multiple coaches.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Leonard Williams fought through a rather significant triceps injury and played 65% of the snaps. I give him credit to play through that on a team that is 4-9 in mid-December. He was flying around the field too, showing plenty of hustle and grit. He finished with 3 tackles and a pressure.

-Dexter Lawrence finished with 3 tackles and a pressure as well but was getting moved way too much in the running game. He didn’t two-gap well at all and the reaction speed is too slow to play on the end in their hybrid 3-4 fronts.

-Veterans Austin Johnson and Danny Shelton each added 2 tackles, and both were mixing it up with the DAL offensive line for most of the game. It was a frustrating game for those two as they just couldn’t get off blocks and DAL was running right by them. I think the extra-fluff post-whistle stemmed from the frustration those 2 had in matching up against the effective DAL interior linemen.

LINEBACKER

-One of the best games we have seen out of Lorenzo Carter. He started the game on fire, and it carried through the rest of the game. He finished with 4 tackles, 2 sacks, a forced fumble, a pass break up, and 2 pressures. That was the best individual pass rush performance we have seen from the edge in a couple years.

-Azeez Ojulari and Quincy Roche, both rookies remember, combined for a sack and added 7 tackles combined. They along with another rookie, Elerson Smith, give this defense some promising hope down the road. Smith seems a few steps behind, as he just hasn’t been on the field much, but his straight-ahead movement off the ball and hand work looks solid. I’m not sure any of them are the marquee pass rusher a defense wants, but they are at least appearing to be solid accessory pieces.

-Inside, Tae Crowder led the team with 12 tackles. He was active and fast, things we already know. However, when blockers get a clean shot at him, he is near-helpless. Veterans Jaylon Smith and Bernardrick McKinney are better examples of linebackers who take proper angles and have some power to them to get off blocks in a hurry.

-Reggie Ragland has seen his role diminish significantly and that is a good thing. His speed is a major flaw when it comes to defending outside runs and flats in the passing game.

CORNERBACK

-This position group was beat up a bit by the Covid situation. That said, it was an admirable effort overall and I came away impressed. CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup combined for just 90 yards on 11 catches. James Bradberry was on his game, breaking up 2 passes and showing quality deep coverage.

-Jarren Williams has been impressive in flashes through limited playing time. For the first time, he was an every down player and he thrived. Does NYG have something here? Still way too early to tell but his 5 tackle / 1 pass break up performance caught my eye. His hips and feet were in full sync, and he looked very confident in his reads against some of the best route runners in the league.

-Keion Crossen saw a season-high 15 snaps on defense. He does have plenty of defensive experience from previous years, but he has been almost exclusively used on special teams this year. He saw a lot of action at nickel and appeared to fulfill his role well.

SAFETY

-I give a ton of credit to Logan Ryan and Julian Love. I’ve noted this before and I don’t want to harp on it too much, but their versatility on the back end is a big deal. We may just not appreciate it a lot because of how bad this team is. They both ended with 20 tackles and more importantly, 0 misses.

-Xavier McKinney added 3 tackles and missed 2. He wasn’t tested much in deep coverage.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 2/2 (Made 35, 42)
-P Riley Dixon: 2 punts / 50.5 avg – 50.5 net

3 STUDS

-LB Lorenzo Carter, OT Andrew Thomas, RB Devontae Booker

3 DUDS

-OG Will Hernandez, QB Mike Glennon, TE Evan Engram

3 THOUGHTS ON DAL

(1) Like nearly everyone else, I saw DAL as a legit big-time contender by the end of October. They were 6-1, averaging over 30 points per game, and their defense was forcing a ton of turnovers. Since then, they’re 4-3 and their offensive production has gone down a bit. While I still think they have a shot at making some noise, they are too many issues I see on a weekly basis from them, and I think the quality opponents are picking up on them.

(2) Over their current 3 game winning streak, the DAL defense has forced an amazing 12 turnovers. There are 4 teams that haven’t forced more than that over the entire season. When I see teams go on runs like this where turnovers are the driving force to their wins, especially at this kind of rate, it worries me. Good teams (playoff teams) usually don’t turn the ball over much. All 3 teams DAL has beat over that span are not playoff teams. Mike Glennon, Taylor Heinicke, and Taysom Hill were the starting quarterbacks. Again, buyer beware.

(3) DAL has been one of the best drafting teams in the league for quite some time now. Can NYG use their template, or at least a part of it? In 2020 they used a 2nd-round pick on corner Trevon Diggs and a 3rd-round pick on defensive tackle Neville Gallimore (trust me you will hear his name more and more now). In 2021, they drafted linebacker Micah Parsons and defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa. Along with some development of other players and low-key free agent signings, this defense now ranks 7th in points allowed vs/ 28th a year ago. NYG needs to turn things around on offense, but I don’t think it needs to take as long as some believe as long as they have the right mind running their draft. Things can turn around in a hurry.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

(1) We do not need to see Mike Glennon under center anymore. I can understand why holding back Jake Fromm initially was needed. Learning an offense from top to bottom, left to right is needed to protect players. Now that we saw him engineer a drive and look just fine while doing it, he needs to be the guy from here on out. No, I don’t see a situation where he can be a part of the QB solution even if he plays well. But it could create a path toward him being a cheap backup. NYG will need to find several ways to manipulate the cap in the coming 2 years. Some of them will be big, a lot of them will be small. A backup QB is a spot they could save some money if Fromm can be the guy. Let’s see what he has in that regard.

(2) How much weight do we put into these late season performances when it comes to contract decisions this offseason? Lorenzo Carter torched the DAL offensive line (mostly the 2nd- and 3rd-string left tackles) and his situation will be one of the key ones to follow this offseason. He has always been an upside-based player. Tools rich, versatile, high intangibles, coaches love him. If he turns it up these next few games, does he earn a long-term deal? In my eyes? No. He has 11.5 sacks in 46 games (30 starts) at a position where pressure on the quarterback is job number one.

(3) I have been harsh on Barkley over the past year, rightfully so. I was also one that wanted Barkley chosen in 2018 for a team that I believed had one more run left with Eli Manning. Not a good call. So, I have been on both sides of the fence here and I still don’t see the answer in relation to what NYG should do with him in these upcoming offseasons. I am sure I will go over this in more detail soon, but I am liking what I see out of his movement in recent weeks. He is one guy who could leave a lasting impression in these next few games if he turns it up another notch.

Dec 142021
 
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Eli Penny, New York Giants (December 12, 2021)

Eli Penny – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

The wheels are coming off the Giants 2021 season. The 4-8 squad traveled across the country to Los Angeles to take on the 7-5 Chargers. Daniel Jones remained on the sideline as he and the organization try to diagnose the the severity of his neck injury and timeline for possible return, while the 2020 NFL Rookie of the Year, record-setting Justin Herbert, marched onto the field making his 28th consecutive start.

NYG began with the ball, led by backup Mike Glennon for the second straight week. Sterling Shepard was back on the field, leaving only first round rookie Kadarius Toney as the only other skill position player left on the injured list other than Jones. This offense has scored the fewest touchdowns in the league (tied with HOU) and at least a part of that reason revolves around the injuries. The game started with 3 straight scoreless possessions between the 2 teams. LAC seemed to find their flow early on, however.

On their second drive, they never saw a 3rd down over the course of 9 plays, picking up chunk after chunk. They ran the ball down NYG’s throat and ended it with a 1-yard touchdown by Austin Ekeler. NYG’s response was important. Much thanks to a 60-yard gain on a 3rd-and-10 pass from Glennon to Kyle Rudolph, NYG tied the game up via a play-action pass to fullback Elijhaa Penny. The game entered the second quarter locked up at 7 a piece.

NYG’s defense, an improving unit over the past couple of months, couldn’t come up with a stop to reverse the momentum. Herbert hit rookie receiver Josh Palmer for a 12-yard touchdown at the end of a 9-play drive to re-lengthen to lead to 14-7. This is where the LAC dominance began. NYG followed with a 3-and-out, then LAC made it a 10-point game thanks to a 27-yard field goal. NYG proceeded to another two three-and-out drives, giving LAC the ball back with 40 seconds left in the first half. On a 3rd-and-11 with 25 seconds left, Herbert threw an absolute bomb as he was being hit by Lorenzo Carter that traveled 70 yards in the air and into the hands of Jalen Guyton for the 59-yard score. Just like that, in a matter of 12 minutes of game clock, LAC went to 24-7 after being tied up at 7.

To add insult to injury, LAC began the second half with the ball, adding 3 more points via a 28-yard field goal. Make it 20 unanswered points. Head Coach and special team guru Joe Judge went into his bag of tricks on the following drive. NYG was set to punt from their own 38 but to the surprise of everyone other than the Chargers, it was a fake. Riley Dixon attempted a pass that came nowhere close to his target, cornerback Keion Crossen. LAC took the field position and turned that into 3 points. 23 unanswered points.

This game seemed all but over, with the Chargers up 30-7 lead entering the 4th quarter, but they weren’t done. Herbert hit veteran Jared Cook for a 1-yard touchdown. 30 unanswered points. The rest of the 4th quarter saw the LAC backups get a few snaps and NYG score two garbage touchdowns against a prevent defense. Glennon hit Barkley for on a 18-yard score and the quarterback ran another one in after nearly tripping over his own feet. Glennon ended his 17/36 day with an interception before the white flag was raised.

NYG loses 37-21.

QUARTERBACK

Mike Glennon: 17/36 – 191 yards / 2 TD – 1 INT / 70.5 RAT

Glennon also scored on a 7-yard touchdown run in garbage time after the Chargers called the dogs off. Not that the numbers are overly impressive, don’t let any of them mislead you. Glennon was awful for most of the afternoon. He went 9/19 in the first half and missed multiple easy throws. He had targets open but missed them. He had targets open but did not see them. There isn’t a huge benefit to seeing Glennon out there if Daniel Jones remains out. If and when Jake Fromm learns enough of the offense, Glennon needs to go back to his 2nd-string role.

RUNNING BACK

Saquon Barkley: 16 att – 64 yards / 3 rec – 31 yards – 1 TD

For his 5th straight game, Barkley rushed for more yards than the previous. His 95 total yards were the second-highest of the season (win vs. NO being the highest). To be fair, as I have been very critical of him all season, he looked better in this game than what we have seen most of the year. A little less dancing, a little more lowering of the shoulder, and extra yards after contact. He was only on the field for 55% of the snaps too. I would love to see him play these last few games hard and fast. We need to know he can still do it.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Another poor day from this group when it came to involvement and production. Much of that is due to the poor play of Glennon, however. He was misfiring left and right, north and south. Golladay saw 8 targets and caught just 2 of them for 15 yards. John Ross and Pharaoh Cooper each caught 1 pass for a combined 13 yards.

-Sterling Shepard came back for the first time since November 1st. I wasn’t sure how much they would limit his snaps, but he actually on the field for 56 plays (81%). He saw just 4 targets, catching 2 of them for 27 yards.

-Darius Slayton was targeted 3 times and didn’t catch 1 of them. He added a drop to his total on the year. His 10.6% drop number is one of the worst in the league.

TIGHT END

-Kyle Rudolph came up with the biggest play of the day on a 60-yard catch-and-run (mostly run) when the game was still tight. He also graded out very well in the running game.

-Evan Engram had 1 catch for 8 yards and a drop. Glennon missed him multiple times. Unfortunate to not see Engram build off his solid performance a week ago. Chris Myarick also added a drop.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Compared to what we’ve seen this season, the offensive line as a whole played a solid game. They got more vertical push in the running game than we have seen all year and the pass protection was above average across the board.

-Andrew Thomas allowed 1 pressure on a play where he lost his footing. Besides that, he was near flawless. He built on his very solid season. Nate Solder allowed 2 pressures and a sack while splitting snaps with Matt Peart. We all want to see more out of Peart, but one can easily make the case he is a lesser pass blocker than Solder. His footwork looks horrific, and it carries over to his hands and torso.

-Inside, center Billy Price and guard Will Hernandez finished with above average grades. The latter allowed 1 pressure but adjusted well on stunts and both were powerful in the running game. Matt Skura allowed a sack and a TFL – two negative plays that you can’t have but he was solid everywhere else. Ben Bredeson saw 10 snaps and didn’t have any standout plays in either direction.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Leonard Williams injured his elbow early and at the time of this writing (Tuesday AM), my guess is he will be done for the year. This should open the door for rookies Elerson Smith and Raymond Johnson to see more snaps. Neither stood out in their limited action against LAC.

-Dexter Lawrence had one of his best days as a Giant. 7 tackles, 1 sack, and a career high 4 pressures. What I liked most here was the fact that he amped up the intensity after Williams went out. I would like to think that was him consciously making the effort to be the guy in there, the one to take over. Now, if only we could get him to play with that intensity weekly.

-Austin Johnson and Danny Shelton combined for 10 tackles but were obliterated in the running game. Shelton especially doesn’t have the juice to get off the blocks quick enough. He is such a heavy, slow mover.

LINEBACKERS

-Tae Crowder added 8 tackles to his team-lead in that department. He and Reggie Ragland were the guilty culprits when it came to LAC’s running game success. They couldn’t avoid blocks, they couldn’t get off them. Benardrick McKinney added 5 tackles and played a nasty, physical brand. He made his presence known a few times.

-Lorenzo Carter had an active game. He got the best of star rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater a few times, recording 4 tackles and 2 pressures. He was close on a sack as well. Azeez Ojulari added sack and now has a team-high 7.5.

-Elerson Smith and Quincy Roche were both quiet. NYG now has a rotation of 3 players on rookie deals to work with on the outside. I want to see more of Smith and Ojulari with Carter and Roche taking a back seat. We need to see the upside-guys get the action and let others fill in during breaks.

CORNERBACKS

-Aaron Robinson played all but 3 snaps. He led the team with 9 tackles and allowed a little too much separation on underneath / intermediate routes. That is where he needs to prove himself in this league. He won’t be a tall, long, speedy downfield cover guy. He isn’t going to beat a ton of guys up at the line. His physical movement skills are there, but the anticipation isn’t there yet.

-James Bradberry wasn’t targeted often. He had 1 tackle and 1 pass break up.

-Jarren Williams saw a third of the snaps and LAC went after him pretty hard. He allowed a touchdown and was flagged for a hold on special teams. He has the look of a typical young and inexperienced corner in that he can’t seem to use his athletic ability just yet. He is tripping over his own feet and isn’t seeing things yet. I like his talent, though. Just need to see him bounce back a bit.

SAFETY

-The one thing I like the most about this defense is the amount of versatility these safeties bring to the scheme overall. With the injuries and inexperience at corner, the likes of Logan Ryan and Julian Love with their respective history at cornerback can help a ton. With that said, these three got roasted by the LAC passing game that was missing their best receiver. McKinney was beat on the long touchdown, Ryan was flagged for an illegal hands to face, and Love was fooled on a touchdown along with missing 2 tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: No FG attempts
-P Riley Dixon: 5 punts / 45.6 avg – 41.6 net

3 STUDS

-DT Dexter Lawrence, OT Andrew Thomas, RB Saquon Barkley

3 DUDS

-DT Danny Shelton, CB Jarren Williams, QB Mike Glennon

3 THOUGHTS ON LAC

(1) Within the scouting community, the Chargers front office, and in particular the college scouts, is highly respected around the league. These guys are thorough, they stick to their template for that year, and hit on a lot of picks. What I like the most about them is their ability to evolve their process year by year. Unlike many teams, they will change their approach when the market and team situation dictate as much. They’re going to be competitive for a very long time.

(2) What is it that this team is missing? Their offensive line has been very up and down. They had a stretch of 3 games where they rivaled the level of lowness we see from NYG. Their right tackle Storm Norton is one of the worst 5 starters in the NFL at that position and right guard Michael Schofield can’t handle power. They have gotten a bit better, but I think it will be their undoing in the postseason.

(3) The NFL has been taken over more than ever by more analytics-based minds both on coaching staffs and front offices. Time will tell if the approach is going to work (I think some teams way overvalue it). LAC uses a lot of it to make in-game decisions, notably on 4th downs and field goal situations. According to my count, it has hurt them more than helped. When factoring this in against teams that can really capitalize on mistakes, I think it will further hurt them if they make the playoffs.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

(1) If Daniel Jones is going to be out the rest of the season with the neck injury, these last few games got even more difficult to watch. He was the biggest gray area in my mind who needed more clarity. I want to see him play with a full slate of skill-position players behind a line that is fully healthy, or close-to it. No, I don’t have any hope in Fromm coming out of nowhere even though I would rather see him play than Glennon.

(2) Has Joe Judge proven he can’t get the most out of his team? It is at least a conversation worth having at the end of the year. The coach and QB especially are the ones who need to get the most out of others. Judge hasn’t taken a step forward as a head coach. I don’t get caught up in the post-game press conferences, those are what they are. I read and listen to a lot of them, and only about 7-8 coaches in the league are worth listening to in that situation. I am more concerned with the lack of identity this team has. The lack of self-scouting. The poor game management with timeouts and situational football.

(3) Barring a surprise, NYG will have 2 selections in the top 10. 3 in the top 40. 5 in the top 80. With the gray cloud over the quarterback situation and a strong offensive line/pass rusher group coming respectively, one can easily make the argument this is the biggest pre-draft process in decades for this franchise. Who will be in charge? That is THE question for me. NYG needs to go outside the box, they need to go unorthodox. Their inability and unwillingness to do so is a catalyst for why NYG is where they are right now.

Dec 072021
 
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Billy Price, New York Giants (December 5, 2021)

Billy Price – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

Week 13 brought NYG down to Miami to face off against the Dolphins, a team that started off 1-7. Their defense had taken a huge step back after leading the NFL in turnovers in 2020, their young offensive line was getting torched on a weekly basis, and their quarterback situation was messy because of injuries. However, they came into this one winner of 4 straight and inching their way back into AFC playoff contention. NYG on the other hand was without starting quarterback Daniel Jones thanks to a neck injury and still without 2 of their top 3 receivers, Sterling Shepard and Kadarius Toney. Two former Bill Belichick disciples from a coaching tree that has had very little success trying to lead their respective teams out of the bottom third of the league and into the top half.

Mike Glennon was under center at the start of the game for the first time with NYG. It was his 28th career start over his 8-year career. He completed his first 8 passes but the biggest play of the 1st quarter came on a deep shot to Darius Slayton into double coverage. One of those 2 defenders was cornerback Xavien Howard, a physical 6’1”/203, sixth-year veteran who leads the NFL in interceptions since 2018. He was the one that came down with the ball. But after review, his long return past midfield was erased. MIA had to start their drive inside their own 5-yard line. MIA went 3-and-out, giving NYG the ball back at the MIA 37-yard line thanks to a 15-yard punt return by Pharoh Cooper.

After reaching the 21, NYG went 3 straight plays without gaining a yard. Kicker Graham Gano then booted one through the uprights for field goal, giving NYG the initial lead. MIA responded with a field goal of their own to tie it up. NYG could not respond with anything of note, and with Kenny Golladay off the field with an injury to his ribs, they were simply trying to play a field position battle.

MIA got the ball back with just over 4 minutes left in the half. They were in a somewhat-hurry up offense heavily consisting of a quick, short passing game. Tua Tagovailoa completed 9 of his first 10 passes, spreading the ball out effectively. He then completed 2 more to end the drive, the second one being a 5-yard touchdown to Mack Hollins with under 30 seconds left in the half. NYG opted to let the clock run out once they got the ball back and MIA went into the half with a 10-3 lead and getting the ball back to start the 3rd quarter.

After a MIA 3-and-out, NYG put together their best drive of the day. Thanks to a pass to Evan Engram and a run by each Saquon Barkley and Devontae Booker, NYG gained 57 yards on 3 plays. They got into the red zone with a 1st-and-10, but the worst red zone offense in the NFL gained 1 yard on 3 plays, forcing another field goal attempt. Gano nailed it from 34 yards, making it 10-6.

The two offenses then traded 6 straight punts, with four 3-and-outs. The NYG drive that ended the 3rd quarter was about as ugly as one can create after gaining some momentum. After converting a 3rd-and-7 with a run by Barkley, the wheels fell off and we were quickly reminded what this Giants franchise has become. NYG “earned” a 2nd-and-23 thanks to a sack by rookie Jaelan Phillips; they used a timeout to avoid a delay-of-game penalty, and then Phillips record yet another sack. The final kick between the legs came on a delay-of-game penalty. 3rd and 33. NYG ended up punting by the way.

There was blood in the water and winning teams take advantage of it. Is MIA a winning team? They’re approaching that tier, and even though September + October was a complete nightmare for them, this was the point in the game where NYG seemed most vulnerable. The MIA response would say at least something about them. Tagovailoa went 5/5 on the drive, spreading the ball out to 5 different pass catchers. The final one was a 2-yard touchdown to Isaiah Ford and gave the home team a 17-6 lead.

In today’s NFL, an 11-point lead with over 11:00 left is not near-secure. Unless, of course, the losing team has scored the least number of touchdowns in the NFL and is being led by a backup quarterback with multiple injuries to the skill positions. Glennon was misfiring left and right and the NYG pass protection had a hard time with the blitz-heavy defensive scheme deployed by MIA. They did add 3 points via a 51-yard field goal by Gano to get within 8. However, MIA responded with another 3 points of their own.

This game was all but over as NYG got the ball back with 1:11 left. They got the ball across midfield as MIA softened up the defense. Gano was sent out on a 2nd down to try and get the team within 1 score so they could try an onsides kick + Hail Mary attempt. Gano missed the 56-yarder and MIA then took a knee to end it.

NYG loses 20-9.

QUARTERBACK

-Mike Glennon: 23/44 – 187 yards / 0 TD – 1 INT / 53.9 RAT

Expectations cannot be high for a backup, especially one who has been in the league for 8 years and won’t take anyone by surprise. Especially one who cannot move in space with any sort of fluidity or speed. And especially one who is playing in this kind of offense surrounded by such a poor supporting cast. I said before the game I would be surprised to see this offense put-up double-digit points. Glennon fought an uphill battle but the blame still needs to be put on him. He was downright terrible. He lost track of his timing in the pocket, he missed open receivers, and he was throwing the ball into double coverage. He started off 8-for-8, then went 15-for-36 from there. He is also being evaluated for a concussion.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 11 att – 55 yards / 6 rec – 19 yards

Barkley’s per-touch production was better than what we’ve seen pretty much all year minus the win at New Orleans. The positive mark is that he had multiple solid plays rather than just a lone run that padded the stats. He showed a little more toughness between the tackles, pushing piles and falling forward. However, Barkley still ended with a negative grade here. He dropped 2 passes and allowed 2 pressures. There is so much more to playing running back than breaking off the big play here and there. Barkley appears to fear contact and lack natural skill/fluidity.

-Devontae Booker added 54 yards on 10 touches. He continues to bring the same, if not better, level of play to the offense as Barkley. Something to keep in mind this offseason when looking at the team’s economics.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Kenny Golladay had 3 catches for 37 yards, all of which came in the first half. He was forced off the field for a while because of a minor rib injury, but he insisted on coming back into the game. Admirable effort, but he didn’t do a thing from that moment-on.

-Darius Slayton added 2 drops to his season. He is approaching a 10% drop percentage, one of the worst in the NFL among receivers (3rd in the NFL). Poor against contact, inconsistent hands, and a fragile frame.

-John Ross played under a third of the snaps and received 1 target, a poorly placed ball by Glennon. It may be time for him and Slayton to switch roles.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram had a solid game. His 61 yards were a season high, and he came up with 3 first downs. The one negative was on a deep ball downfield where he turned in the wrong direction while tracking the ball, leading to an incomplete pass on what should have been the biggest offensive gain of the day.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-The offensive line was attacked with a blitz heavy game plan by MIA. A lot of extra bodies, a lot of stunts and twists. They, and the backs/tight ends in charge of providing aid, did not respond well. There weren’t any bright spots on the line besides backup Ben Bredeson, who filled in at left guard during the 3rd quarter. He played 30 snaps (just under half) and performed well. I would like to see him more in there. Starter Matt Skura allowed 2 TFL and a pressure during his half of the snaps and offers no upside.

-Nate Solder allowed another 4 pressures and was getting manhandled at the point-of-attack in the running game. Zero push or sustainability led to many of the no-gain rushing attempts. On the other side, Andrew Thomas allowed 1 pressure and 1 sack. A case can be made that Glennon held on to the ball too long on that sack, but Thomas was beat on the play by the rookie Phillips.

-Will Hernandez allowed 2 sacks, both a result of him simply not moving his feet when engaged. We are 57 games into his career, and he still shows zero comprehension of staying home against stunts. Other teams know and exploit it weekly. Billy Price allowed 2 pressures and mightily struggled in the run game.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-It was a quiet day from this group overall. I was expecting more because of how much the young MIA offensive line has struggled all year. Even though they have played better over the past month, Leonard Williams and Austin Johnson especially didn’t make their presence known very often. Yes, the quick passing game hurt NYG’s chances of making a difference up front, but the opportunities that did come their way were not exploited.

-Dexter Lawrence led the group in snaps. That hasn’t happened often and I’m not completely sure why that was the case.

LINEBACKER

-Tae Crowder led the team with 9 tackles and added an untouched pressure. He played solidly in this game; I would say one of the better performances we have seen in his two years. The speed and twitch are a nice add-on to a defense that has the slower guys Reggie Ragland and Benardrick McKinney playing alongside of him.

-Azeez Ojulari and Quincy Roche were the 2 bright spots on defense. They both recorded a sack while Ojulari added a pressure and pass break up. I liked what I saw out of them in run defense as well. They set the edge, got off blocks, and finished plays.

-Throw in the 21 snaps we saw out of Elerson Smith, and this was the best takeaway from the game for me. Smith didn’t produce anything, but I want to see him out there more and more and he did show off some fancy technique work. The movement, suddenness, and pad level further proved in my mind that this guy has a good shot at being a good player. Now we just need to see him on the field instead of Lorenzo Carter.

CORNERBACK

-Rookie Aaron Robinson played every snap. That was nice to see, as it would be a big deal to have a strong idea what NYG has here heading into the offseason. He had 7 tackles and a pass break up. While there were some negatives when it came to his ball skills in general, Robinson is proving he can be what he needs to be. His reaction speed is excellent.

-James Bradberry was beat on two 3rd downs and allowed a touchdown while in zone coverage. He added 2 tackles, one of which was a nice play and big hit. Teams seem to be attacking him more and more underneath and intermediate.

-Jarren Willams saw his first action of the year and performed well. Good lower body movement and burst.

SAFETY

-Logan Ryan was back on the field after missing a couple games wit Covid-19. He made 8 tackles and was solid in coverage. Ryan and Julian Love, who added a pass break up and 2 tackles, are such key assets to a defense that remains playing at a solid level. They just don’t get the attention from most because of how bad this team is.

-Xavier McKinney recorded 6 tackles and a TFL. He allowed a touchdown and was beat on 3rd down once. Not a bad game for him, but he was tricked by Tagovailoa’s eyes a few times. It almost looked like the two knew each other from college or something.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 3/4 (Made 39, 34, 51 / Missed 56)
-P Riley Dixon: 6 punts / 41.3 avg – 36.8 net

3 STUDS

-OLB Azeez Ojulari, OLB Quincy Roche, K Graham Gano

3 DUDS

-OT Nate Solder, OG Will Hernandez, QB Mike Glennon

3 THOUGHTS ON MIA

(1) Can MIA really bounce back from 1-7 and into the playoffs? This is something all fan bases should keep in mind. Sure, a rough start creates very low odds of moving on to the postseason, but these things happen. As short as a football season seems in contrast to other sports, a lot can and does change after October. Miami went 10-6 last year and is now 6-7 in the middle of a 5-game winning streak. They have a bye followed by a game against the Jets (3-9) and Saints (5-game losing streak). An easy slate of games along with confidence that they know how to win games combine for something very noteworthy to say the least.

(2) What can we make of Tua Tagovailoa? His first 2 years have been cloudy partially because of injuries and a coaching staff that yanked him back and forth for a bit. When breaking him down, there doesn’t appear to be a “wow” factor with his arm. He is an average athlete at best. He isn’t very big. But what I like here is the accuracy he has short and intermediate. He shows tremendous touch, he throws catchable balls. I wouldn’t call him a sure thing yet, but I feel safe with Tagovailoa at the helm. He has created the most from a poor overall offensive situation in Miami.

(3) What is the key to the Miami turnaround? Two things in my opinion. Their defense is forcing turnovers like they did in 2020. They have forced 11 of them over their last 5 weeks. They had forced just 9 in the previous 8 games. Second, their young offensive line is maturing. Right tackle Jesse Davis was signed to the Practice Squad in 2016. Besides that, all 4 starters were drafted in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd rounds over the past 3 years. It hasn’t been all positive, however. Their line was atrocious early in the year, similar to what NYG has been showing. Patience and development paid off, however, and they are clicking at the right time for a cheap price.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

(1) Is there anything to take away from MIA that can apply to NYG and their short-term future? Their head coach is from the Belichick family. They’re under .500 since the transition. They have a quarterback under a rookie contract. They’ve used multiple offensive coordinators. Their offensive line has been awful. They’ve had a hard time scoring points. There are a few deeper, more detailed analytic-type similarities between the two, but I will stop there. The point is the gap between these 2 teams is minuscule at the same time as it is enormous. Much discussion in the coming months will center on how NYG can improve the team. This will come down to the draft. Over the past 4 drafts, MIA has derived big time results. I would subjectively say they have hit on 22 out of 36 picks. More importantly, they’ve hit on all 16 selections from rounds 1-3. Success rates above 66% in that tier is considered good. Regardless of who leads the Giants next year, the emphasis must be on improved drafting. It can turn around fast if that is the case. Organic growth.

(2) I write this just a few hours after the Patriots won in Buffalo using 3, yes 3, total passes in the entire game. The weather dictated the approach, obviously. But NE went into a hostile environment against a top 5-defense, a top 5-run defense in particular. They ran it 46 times. I watched this game and naturally reflected further on NYG. Even though the game has changed a lot even within my lifetime (I’m only 35), the ability to pound the ball with the running game is still the most economic and safest way to play football. NYG won’t ever run the ball without 3, maybe even 4 new starters on this offensive line. I already have some thoughts in relation to how this organization needs to build for 2022 and beyond, but I will let the rest of the year play out first. However, I will say this right now: if this team wants to succeed and get on track, their draft resources noted above need to be thrown into this position group. Over and over.

(3) Looking forward, NYG has games against 4 teams with credible playoff chances. They’ll be underdogs in all of them (not including the game vs Chicago). These teams will be hungry and much of football revolves around collective effort and desire. NYG will be overmatched on paper, but I am looking for who will be playing hard and who hustles for all 60 minutes. I am old fashioned in that regard. It means something to me and it should mean something to whomever builds this team’s future. Between that and the young guys, there is a ton to watch and look for. The guys I am most excited to watch are Elerson Smith, Aaron Robinson, Xavier McKinney, Andrew Thomas, Azeez Ojulari, and Kadarius Toney. They can be a huge part of the turnaround but the on-field play and passion for the game need to be demonstrated at a high level.

Nov 302021
 
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Tae Crowder, New York Giants (November 28, 2021)

Tae Crowder – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

The 5-5 PHI Eagles, winners of 3 of their past 4, traveled up the turnpike to take on a 3-7 Giants team that hadn’t won since November 7. The division foes split their matchups against one another in 2020, both have a very unsure quarterback situation, and both can’t seem to get over the hump into credible NFC playoff contention. PHI and NYG are both removed from the basement tier of the NFL, but they also both have had a hard time putting together consistent performances on either sides of the ball. PHI entered the game on the NFC playoff bubble, while NYG was on a downward slope on a short week after getting dismantled by Tampa Bay the previous Monday night.

Without receivers Kadarius Toney and Sterling Shepard in addition to tight end Kyle Rudolph, the NYG offense yet again came out less than full strength. It began with a 3-and-out, but PHI responded with the same. NYG’s second drive with new play caller Freddie Kitchens (who took over after the Jason Garrett firing) resulted in 3 points. In just two short drives, one could easily notice a key difference in the Giants’ offense. They were using more pre-snap motion, a common and well-known shortcoming in the Garrett-era. Graham Gano ended the drive with a 35-yard field goal.

PHI got into NYG territory on their next drive. On the first play in the red zone, a 3rd-and-5 from the NYG 20, Jalen Hurts threw an interception over the middle to Darnay Holmes. 11 games into the 2021 season and NYG has forced at least one turnover in all of them. It was Holmes’ second interception of his young career. NYG was not able to convert the turnover into points, as Gano missed a 51-yard field goal attempt. Hurts followed that with 2 more incomplete passes, leading to another PHI 3-and-out.

Saquon Barkley opened the next NYG drive with a 32-yard run. The passing game gained 23 yards combined on the following 2 plays and NYG’s momentum was in full swing. After a Devontae Booker 6-yard run, NYG was 1st-and-10 from the PHI 26. But the ugliness of this offense reared its head yet again. A 1-yard loss on a Barkley run, a holding penalty on Andrew Thomas, a 3-yard loss on a Barkley run, and an incomplete pass to Evan Engram brought out the NYG punt unit. Another scoring opportunity down the drain.

PHI started with the ball on their own 7-yard line. They used 14 plays, just one of which was a 3rd down, to reach the NYG 1 yard line. With :08 left in the half, Hurts threw his second red-zone interception of the half into the hands of linebacker Tae Crowder. That, along with 2 holding penalties by center Nate Herbig (in for the injured Jason Kelce) put NYG on the other side of end-of-half debacles for a change. PHI went into the half scoreless much thanks to their own doing.

The PHI running game began the second half with 35 yards on 3 carries. From there, Hurts threw two poor incomplete passes with PHI just needing 2 yards for a first down. They turned it over on downs, giving NYG their first possession of the second half just 9 yards away from midfield. Jones looked crisp and sure on the drive and for the first time, NYG got inside the PHI 10-yard line. The last-ranked red zone offense in the league has been, in my opinion, the biggest issue with this offense. More than the leaky offensive line, more than the banged-up skill positions, more than the up-and-down quarterback performances. Playoff teams put points on the board when they get inside the 20. Super Bowl contenders score touchdowns the majority of their red-zone trips. NYG hasn’t been doing either at an even above average rate since 2014. That was Odell Beckham’s rookie year (arguably his best season of his career).

Thanks to a 3rd-down pass interference penalty on PHI corner Steven Nelson, NYG had a fresh set of downs from the PHI 1. 1st down play-action has been a huge benefit for this offense and that is where they turned to here. Tight end Chris Myarick, who was cut by Miami in August and signed to the NYG practice squad in September, caught a pass in the end zone after nearly dropping it to the turf. The ball missed the ground by mere inches but nonetheless, NYG had the 10-0 lead.

On the second play of the next PHI drive, Hurts tried to throw the ball downfield to Jalen Reagor. Budding star safety Xavier McKinney broke on the ball, clearly had the best track to it from the beginning, and intercepted his 5th pass of the season. He is tied for third in the NFL and for the most by a safety in that department. The PHI offense looked helpless. NYG could not capitalize, however, as their initial offensive play after the turnover was a whopping 13-yard loss on a reverse rushing attempt by Darius Slayton.

With Hurts unable to get anything going with his arm, PHI almost exclusively went with the running game. As the contest entered the 4th quarter, PHI gained all 66 yards of their drive on the ground. Hurts threw the ball once, the opening play of the drive which fell incomplete. Boston Scott ran it in for a 1-yard touchdown. Scott now has 11 career touchdowns, 7 of which have come against NYG.

The lead was just 3 points. NYG went 3-and-out and PHI had the ball back. If it wasn’t known already, this one was going to come down to NYG’s defensive performance. They had to play all 4 quarters here, not just a half. Their lone sack of the day came at the right time on a 3rd-and-4 from midfield. PHI opted to punt, giving NYG the ball back at their own 9-yard line with just over 10 minutes left.

NYG’s best drive of the game ensued. 12 plays, 7:22 of game clock, and 3 points via a 39-yard field goal by Gano was the end result. Jones completed all 6 of his initial passes on this drive, using 4 different receivers and showing precise accuracy. These were key moments, some of these throws were into tight windows, and it was when the plays counted most. Jones did throw an incomplete on the final 3rd-and-7 prior to the field goal.

PHI got the ball back twice in the closing three minutes. That first drive ended in a Scott fumble, caused by Dexter Lawrence and recovered by Julian Love. The final drive did bring them within striking distance of a game-winning touchdown. Two plays resulted in drops by 2020 first rounder Jalen Reagor, the second one being on 4th-and-10 which led to an NYG kneel down the play after.

NYG wins 13-7.

QUARTERBACK

Daniel Jones: 19/30 – 202 yards / 1 TD – 0 INT / 94.0 RAT

Jones also added 30 yards on 9 rushing attempts. Make no mistake about it, this was another horrid offensive day for the Giants when taking a step back and looking at the big picture. 264 yards of offense, 4.6 yards per play are bottom of the barrel. There were a few things that went wrong, but I think Jones was one of the main reasons this team won. Was it a standout performance? No. But he went 11/16 in the 2nd half and a near-essential 6/7 on the final drive that resulted in points to put NYG up by more than a field goal. He made a few tough throws and stood in the pocket strong, showing awareness and toughness with quality footwork.

RUNNING BACK

Saquon Barkley: 13 att – 40 yards / 4 rec – 13 yards

32 of Barkley’s 40 rushing yards came on one play. That one play is similar to why bad golfers always keep going back for another round. That one play, that one drive off the tee, somehow makes it easy to forget that pretty much every other play (or swing) was a disaster. I stand strong on the observation that his running style has changed, he has more stiffness in his lower half than I’ve ever seen since 2018, and there is too much mental hesitation that causes a lack of vision. That said, he was contacted behind the line of scrimmage on 6 of his 13 carries, 3 of which were untouched by a blocker. You can’t succeed in that environment. We still don’t know what #26 is.

WIDE RECEIVER

-No Shepard, no Toney yet again. Shepard has missed six games this year; Toney has missed two (and two of Toney’s other nine games included less than six  snaps in each). Combined, they have played under half of the team’s offensive snaps.

-Kenny Golladay led the team with 7 targets. He ended the day with 50 yards on 3 catches, all of which resulted in a 1st down. The team took 2 shots into the zone at him. Both were low-success rate, fade-type passes. I would love for NYG to get more creative with him in the red zone. Simply lofting the ball in the air and hoping he can end up on the right end of a 50/50 ball rarely works. Inside the 5, it is actually one of the lowest-success rate plays, historically speaking.

-John Ross and Darius Slayton, the two deep threats, combined for 5 catches / 68 yards. Just over 13 yards per clip which is not considered deep, at all. The issue here is the offensive line cannot be trusted to have these two run deep routes. That part of the route tree takes time to progress to and because of that, we aren’t seeing what these guys can actually offer with their skill sets.

TIGHT END

-Chris Myarick had one career target coming into this game. He doubled that number, catching both on similar play-action plays where he had to sell the idea he was staying in to block. Both receptions were huge plays and one resulted in a touchdown. They combined for just 11 yards, but both were huge plays.

-Evan Engram had 3 catches for 37 yards and a drop. Both tight ends allowed a TFL in the running game when they were matched up against defensive ends.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Excellent bounce back performance by Will Hernandez, a game after the worst performance of his career in Tampa Bay. It was quietly a dominant grade, as I had zero negative notes on him. Not one.

-Matt Skura and Billy Price were beat up inside. Both are poor athletes and the PHI front seven exposed their limitations. Skura allowed 2 pressures, Price allowed one. The biggest red flag was their lack of push in the running game. They were stood up and/or driven back in the power game and they (Price especially) could not reach their gap assignments on outside zone runs. It is such a deterrent to the running game.

-Andrew Thomas allowed a pressure and was flagged for a hold. He did allow a sack late, but I did not dock him on my personal bookkeeping because it was a play where Jones opted to take that sack to keep the clock moving. Another positive game grade for the second-year tackle.

-Nate Solder had the worst grade of the group. He allowed 2 pressures and 2 TFL. More on this below but to sum it up, I don’t think anybody thinks Solder can play anymore. And that is a bigger indictment on Peart than it is Solder.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Leonard Williams led the way with 4 tackles and 4 pressures. An active game for him even though he couldn’t seal the deal as a pass rusher. He hasn’t had a sack since 11/1 vs KC.

-Dexter Lawrence may be one of the more volatile players on the team. He needs to get to, and stay at, nose tackle. His lack of range showed up against the PHI outside zone running game. He also wasn’t much of a presence as a pass rusher. Lawrence did record 1 pressure and his forced fumble was an enormous play. But one can make the case that the bad is outweighing the good this season and I think at least a part of it is the fact he is out of position.

-Austin Johnson added 4 tackles and split the lone sack on the day with Julian Love. Danny Shelton was on the field for just 9 snaps and didn’t do much. He was out of position on the Darnay Holmes interception return, which led to the cornerback taking a huge hit that could have been avoided. Not a smart player and I am pretty sure that is why Bill Belichick got rid of him.

LINEBACKER

-Again, the biggest culprit in PHI’s running game success revolved around this group. They averaged 6.3 yards per carry and the success was spread out among pretty much everyone who carried the ball. In fact, if I am a PHI fan, I am most perturbed by PHI not running it even more than they did, and their ratio was basically a 50/50 split! That doesn’t happen much anymore.

-Tae Crowder had 6 tackles and an interception and Reggie Ragland had 5 tackles with a TFL. Doesn’t look like a bad day in the box score but the All-22 tape says otherwise.

-Lorenzo Carter was back on the field after missing a few games. He split duties with Quincy Roche but saw slightly more playing time. Had 1 tackle and 1 pressure. His presence when it came to setting the edge was much better than Roche, who really struggled in that department and made no impact as a pass rusher. Azeez Ojulari added 5 tackles and was active in pursuit. Things are clicking a bit better with him mentally and even though the pass-rush impact hasn’t been there in a few weeks, I am seeing encouraging signs there. I bet he has a big game soon.

CORNERBACK

-Adoree’ Jackson was lost early in the 2nd quarter with a quad injury. The story here is that it opened the door for more playing time for rookie Aaron Robinson. In my opinion, playing corner as a rookie in the NFL is one of the most difficult tasks in football. Robinson responded in a big way. He had 6 tackles, 2 PD (1 of which on 4th down), and added a pressure. He was all over the field and looked sticky short and intermediate. Now, he was the beneficiary of poor WR play from PHI on 2 occasions and he did get beat on 3rd down twice, but this was a highly-encouraging performance for a corner that, remember, NYG traded up for.

-Darnay Holmes stepped up as well. He had an interception in the red zone and provided quality deep coverage against both Devonta Smith and Jalen Reagor, both credible deep threats. I like how he showed he can play the outside and even though there are, and likely always will be, slight skill-set issues in coverage, I continue to admire the way he plays when it comes to his aggression and physical nature.

-James Bradberry had a quiet game. 3 tackles and was rarely targeted, allowing just 2 short completions.

SAFETY

-Xavier McKinney is the budding star, not just on this team, but in the entire league at the safety position. Watching the All-22 tape further confirmed my notion on him. He is making reads earlier than most, he is baiting quarterbacks already, and the burst to the ball is something to see. Get excited about him, NYG fans. This is real.

-Logan Ryan was out with Covid again, and Julian Love stepped in without letting the defense skip a beat. While the talent level may not be overly noteworthy, this kid is savvy and smart. When you want to teach how important gap-assignment football is, Love’s tape can be used as an example. He is where he needs to be at all times and he creates plays from it. He had 4 tackles, a half-sack, a PD, and a fumble recovery. His versatility is such a key part to the defense as a whole.

-J.R. Reed had 5 tackles and looked more comfortable in his second sizable chunk of action with NYG. He made a key stop at the goal line.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 2/3 (Made 35, 39; missed 51)
-P Riley Dixon: 5 punts / 39.2 avg – 35.6 net. Terrible game for him.

3 STUDS

-S Xavier McKinney, DT Leonard Williams, OG Will Hernandez

3 DUDS

-OT Nate Solder, OG Matt Skura, LB Reggie Ragland

3 THOUGHTS ON PHI

(1) I labeled Jalen Hurts a career backup when he came out. He is a dangerous player because of how much he can do with his legs and there is indeed arm talent, but my notes on him centered around a lack of true feel in the pocket and very inconsistent accuracy. Hurts has only started 16 games and what he had to work with down the stretch last season was as bad as it gets. The jury is still out. Even though there are flashes, and he does have talent, I don’t see him being a guy to build around in a passing league. Ideal backup who can still win games if the #1 guy goes down, but nothing more. Carson Wentz looks good in Indy, by the way.

(2) Another draft blunder by Eagles GM Howie Roseman? Wide receiver Jalen Reagor was drafted 1 slot ahead of Justin Jefferson. How on earth did that happen? They weren’t close in my eyes. I had Jefferson stacked at #5 on the position stack and even that was probably too low. I had Reagor at #13. What a whiff that was! Reagor impressed during workouts with speed and jumping, but his tape was pretty poor all things considered when looking at 1st-round grades. His 2 drops were awful, yes. But his routes and ball tracking were even worse. This was on tape at TCU for all to see, too.

(3) Let’s not count these guys out. We’ve seen the song and dance before. They do have a couple of quality wins as of late (@ DEN, NO) and an attractive schedule coming up. But the one thing that makes me hesitate to nail their coffin shut is how effective they are on both sides of the ball when it comes to the running game. They’re 2nd in yards-per-carry and they’re 6th in yards-per-carry allowed. That fares well in December/January. I also think their pass rush can take over games when they’re clicking.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

(1) How is Matt Peart not playing? He clearly presents more upside than Nate Solder. I say that because there is no upside with Solder. He cannot beat NFL defenders on any sort of consistent basis, and this is known across the entire league. I have a different angle here. I don’t think it is on the coaching staff, I think it is solely on Peart. He hasn’t proven enough in practice, he may not know assignments, and I don’t think he has the edge that the staff wants. I have some background on Peart and I will just say that he doesn’t have a burning desire to go in there and compete. That shows up eventually, it cannot be hidden. I think that is why we are seeing Solder instead.

(2) Let’s collectively tip our cap to the defense for getting right. PHI averaged 34.5 points over the previous 4 games. They scored 44 at DET, 24 vs LAC, 40 vs NO, and 30 @DEN. Holding a team under 10 points in the NFL is incredibly rare and to do it against an offense that came in red hot is even more impressive. Starting with the win vs CAR on October 24, NYG is averaging 15.2 points allowed per game. The best defense in the NFL allows 15.8 per game on the year. Imagine what could be if this team gets a credible pass rusher or two!

(3) NYG has another game coming up against a team that is hot. Miami started off 1-7, much thanks to a defense that wasn’t forcing turnovers at the rate they were in 2020 and a quarterback injury situation that caused a ton of disruption to the offensive flow. Lastly, they have the worst OL in football. However, they have now won 4 in a row. They have plenty of momentum, and Tua Tagovailoa is playing smart, efficient quarterback. 3 of the 4 wins in a row were against HOU, NYJ, and CAR. While that is almost as easy as it gets, they’re playing with more confidence. But NYG needs to separate themselves from teams like this. MIA is not bottom of the barrel, but they aren’t a good team either. The NYG defense won’t have any excuse here. They need to keep them under 17 points, no question. And time for these NYG skill players to get on the field and step up.

Nov 242021
 
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Andrew Thomas, New York Giants (November 22, 2021)

Andrew Thomas – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

The Giants faced the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a Monday night in November for the second year in a row, a rather odd schedule repeat. In 2020, NYG was 1-7 and TB was 5-2 at the time of the match-up. This year? NYG came in at 3-6, TB 6-3. Even though NYG was now the away team, they were coming off a 15+ day rest as TB had lost 2 straight including a double-digit loss to the Washington Football Team. Some of the best memories in NYG history have come at the expense of Brady. However, those glory days seem to be centuries behind us.

TB opened the game without a part of their three-headed monster at wide receiver. Antonio Brown was out with an ankle injury, but the rest of their core was in place. Their drive was as easy and smooth as a knife through melted butter. NYG played a soft, 2-high look and Brady methodically took advantage of the space underneath and intermediate areas. Their first 6 plays each netted 7 or more yards and the drive ended with a 13-yard pitch, catch, and run from Brady to Chris Godwin.

NYG responded with a quality drive, their final quality drive of the game. It lasted 13 plays and spread the ball around well. They were 1st-and-10 from the TB 15-yard line. Most teams view this position as a position of opportunity. NYG, however, is the worst red-zone offense in the NFL and quarterback Daniel Jones entered the game completing a league-low 41% of his passes inside it. From there, Jones threw an incomplete pass, Jones rushed for a 1-yard gain, Will Hernandez was flagged for a false start, and Jones threw another incomplete pass. Graham Gano then nailed a 37-yard field goal to get NYG within 4.

TB marched down the field yet again. In fact, of their first 15 plays, not one of them was a 3rd down. They used 18-total plays on this drive as the game entered the 2nd quarter. The pass rush was non-existent but with 7-8 defenders in coverage, NYG was able to stop the bleeding a bit and hold them to a field goal. NYG went 3-and-out on their next drive.

TB had the ball at their own 15-yard line. On the first play, there was a miscommunication on the play where both receivers to the left side stayed home for the screen pass. It was likely the mistake of Tyler Johnson, a second-year receiver from Minnesota who averages 3 targets per week. Mike Evans had the pass bounce off his chest and into the arms of cornerback Adoree’ Jackson. He returned it to the TB 5-yard line and NYG was just 15 feet away from tying it up. A creative play call had Jones toss the ball to the eligible Andrew Thomas, a play nobody saw coming. Thomas made a leaping grab up and away from his body and, no sarcasm here, this may have been one of the best 5 catches we have seen from a Giant in 2021. Thomas’ first career touchdown puts him tied for 2nd on the team in that department. Sadly, he ranks ahead of both $72 million receiver Kenny Golladay and 1st round receiver Kadarius Toney as of Week 11.

TB responded with yet another easy, low-to-no pressure drive that ended with a 10-yard touchdown by running back Ronald Jones on a play where Jackson, the hero from the previous drive, seemed to forget about the concept of outside contain. NYG did force an incomplete pass on the drive however, yes one. The tape should give Head Coach Joe Judge some quality things to speak of during his next press conference.

The two offenses traded scoreless possessions and thanks to a Tristan Wirfs holding call on their next drive, TB was forced out of field goal range and gave NYG the ball back with :43 left and 2 timeouts. Play to win? Or play not to lose? NYG had a decision to make. It appeared they would run the clock out unfortunately, as their first play was a low-key, low-success dump pass to Saquon Barkley. They let 20 seconds come off the clock. Jones to Barkley then netted 11 yards and brought the ball to the NYG 20-yard line with 9 seconds left. That is when Joe Judge opted to use the first of his 2 remaining timeouts.

NYG did not know what they wanted to do. NYG then got the ball near midfield with 3 seconds left, but Darius Slayton fumbled the ball. Fortunately, the clock ran out and NYG entered the half only down by 7.

It was a 7-point game with TB out-playing NYG in a big way. That 7-point lead quickly became a 17-point lead as Brady hit Mike Evans for a touchdown and Ryan Succop nailed a 40-yard field goal following an absolutely terrible interception by Jones. The NYG line was falling apart, the TB offense continued to go where they wanted when they wanted, and Jones looked like a deer in the headlights. He threw another interception in the 4th quarter, a play where he did not see even half the field. Succop turned that into another 3 points.

The score represented what we had been watching all night, a 30-10 lead by the Bucs. TB soon pulled their starters, the Giants offensive line turned in their worst half of the season (which is hard to do, as TB was missing their top DL), and Barkley was found limping on the sideline while Toney talked to trainers with no gloves while riding a bike.

At least Blaine Gabbert didn’t score a touchdown. Another positive that I am sure we will hear about from the front office at some point in condescending fashion.

“We may have a little more confidence in our offensive line than you guys.” – Dave Gettleman – May 2021.

Giants lose, 30-10.

QUARTERBACK

-Daniel Jones: 23/38 – 167 yards / 1 TD – 2 INT / 57.7 RAT

Jones also added 10 yards on 3 carries. It was a major step back for Jones in multiple ways. He looked like a young quarterback who regressed. He did not look like a quarterback who was going to make other players better. Both interceptions were solely on him with an extra emphasis on the first one. While the offensive line did him no favors and the talent around him, despite being praised by the media as a “high-ceiling group,” under-performed yet again, Jones was the culprit in such a poor offensive performance. He continues to struggle seeing the entire field and the actual throws themselves are consistently average at best. His time is running out.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 6 att – 25 yards / 6 rec – 31 yards

With the NYG offensive line clearly overmatched and NYG playing from behind most of the game, Barkley didn’t have consistent opportunities on the ground. While his touches didn’t do much for the offense and game overall, the numbers don’t look bad on a per-touch basis. However, I still have a negative grade on Barkley, and it is becoming overly tiresome to see the same issues game after game. He is a poor blocker who shows minimal effort; he continues to trip over his own feet (followed by slamming the ball on the ground as if he was surprised); and he stops his momentum way too soon on inside runs into traffic. There are dozens (plural) of backs who show more than he does on a weekly basis.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Kadarius Toney: 7 rec / 40 yards

Toney also threw a deep pass (which was the nicest deep ball we have seen in long time). He was targeted a season-high 12 times and it created 40 yards of offense (3.4 yards per play). 3.4 yards per target is, for those don’t track stats like that often, good for about 165th in the NFL. That tier is almost always reserved for running backs and fullbacks. Toney had a couple impressive yards after the catch gains based on his elusiveness and agility, but he also had a drop and a double catch. There are several ways to use this kind of talent, but NYG hasn’t been consistent with him yet.

-Kenny Golladay played 44 snaps and received 2 targets. He caught 1 of them for 12 yards. When I watch the All-22 tape, the one consistent thing I see with him is a lack of separation. While he does do well in traffic, one has to consider this aspect of his game. He doesn’t get open on his own and he has caught just 58% of his targets over his career. Players who catch 58% of their targets rank 175th in the NFL in that department. We need to see more out Golladay, plain and simple. I will not call it a “bad signing” in free agency (yet), but you can’t pay a guy what they paid him and throw him the ball 34 times in the 7 games he played in on an offense that is desperate for points. There is little to no cohesion within this organization. No plan.

-Darius Slayton added 4 catches for 37 yards. He was flagged for an illegal block in the back and got tripped up on the downfield Toney pass that was nearly a big play. His contact presence and balance remain the biggest issues of his game.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram had a poor night in the trenches. He allowed a TFL and 2 pressures. He caught 2 passes for 12 yards and is now averaging 8.4 yards per reception on the season.

-Kyle Rudolph had the biggest play of the night with a 28-yard grab, and run and that was about it from him. Rudolph now leads the group with 8.6 yards per reception on the season.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-The one positive from the offense was Andrew Thomas. While he did fall victim to a late sack in the 4th quarter, he shut down Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul in almost all of their 1-on-1 matchups. He did whiff on a running play in the second quarter but made up for it a snap later when he made an acrobatic touchdown catch on a surprise play. Good to see him back on the field and playing at a high level. If there is one player on this team who can be part of the future core that turns things around, I think he’s it.

-The interior of this line was abysmal. I would love to see what the film review is like in their room. Will Hernandez, especially. This was the worst performance of his career and I’ve been told here at BBI that I have it out for him. I do not have it out for him. I just never saw him as a starting-caliber player and the fact he continues to get starts says something about the decision makers. He allowed 4 pressures, he was flagged for 2 holding penalties (one was declined), and he was flagged for a false start. I was most disappointed by the fact that he appeared to just give up late in the game. Matt Skura allowed 4 pressures and Billy Price allowed 2. 10 pressures allowed from the interior spots. Nobody is performing well.

-Nate Solder oddly got the start over Matt Peart. Peart has not been good, but the margin between him and Solder is thin (if it exists). In a situation like that on team like this, go with the youth over the contract. NYG does it in reverse.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Really poor game from the trio of starters. They were tossed around by the Bucs OL all night. In their defense, I would put TB top 2 or 3 in the NFL along the offensive line. That said, the reason why Patrick Graham went ultra-soft on the back end of the defense was the confidence in the line and they failed to step up.

-Dexter Lawrence had 2 pressures and a pass break up, but he was too often handled by lone blockers. Leonard Williams added 1 pressure, but was too often driven multiple yards in the wrong direction as he tried to anchor against the run. Austin Johnson led the group with 5 tackles and added a pass break up.

-Danny Shelton added a TFL in garbage time and Raymond Johnson III added a sack late when it did not matter.

LINEBACKER

-If you remember back to the game against the Raiders prior to the bye, Quincy Roche and Azeez Ojulari both had solid performances and it created some hope. This was a tall task to take on but even with the extra rest, they were absolutely shut down all night. Ojulari and fellow rookie Elerson Smith (who got his first defensive snaps) added one pressure each. I am excited to see the team use Smith more in this role, he certainly looks the part.

-Tae Crowder and Reggie Ragland combined for 9 tackles with Ragland adding one for a loss. Crowder react too slowly mentally, and Ragland is a poor athlete. In some cases, around the league, the linebackers between the tackles complement each other to the point of hiding one another’s weaknesses. These two aren’t clicking and are easy to beat. Benardrick McKinney is the best of this trio and should take over the majority of snaps. He added 5 tackles but played under a third of the snaps. He brings more to the table.

CORNERBACK

-The James Bradberry vs. Mike Evans battle has always been a fun-watch dating back to the cornerback’s days in CAR. They split success and fails down the middle but, on this night, Evans got the win. Bradberry allowed a touchdown, a 3rd-down conversion, missed 2 tackles, and was nearly beat on a separate touchdown by Breshad Perriman but a drop helped out NYG’s top corner who is due to make over 12% of the team’s salary cap next season.

-Adoree’ Jackson intercepted a deflection off Evans’ chest, which set up the lone NYG touchdown of the night. He then allowed a touchdown on his lack of ability to set the edge on a Ronald Jones outside run. Darnay Holmes added 4 tackles and was solid most of the night against Chris Godwin.

-Rookie Aaron Robinson, who I am also excited to see more of, saw 22 snaps. He was caught out of position a couple times, but I like the way he competes and moves. There wasn’t much to take away from the All-22, but I do think we will have a decent idea what he can do by the end of this season.

SAFETY

-With Logan Ryan out because of Covid, Julian Love stepped up in a big way. He had 6 tackles and broke up 2 passes, both very nice plays on the ball. He was all over the field and when NYG did step up a few times, he was at the center of it. He did miss a tackle on the first TB touchdown because of a poor angle, but it was a quality performance.

-Xavier McKinney led the team with 7 tackles and showed quality range in deep coverage from the All-22 angle. Brady was hung up a few times and from my perspective, I believe it was McKinney who took away the reads. He has been on a very solid run these past 5-6 weeks.

-J.R. Reed, brought up from the Practice Squad to take the 53-man roster spot of Ryan, saw a considerable amount of time. He added 4 tackles but missed 2 others and appeared to have weak contact presence. That was the red flag (along with his knee) coming out of Georgia.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 1/1 (Made 37)
-P Riley Dixon: 4 Punts / 48.3 avg – 46.0 net

3 STUDS

-OT Andrew Thomas, S Julian Love, S Xavier McKinney

3 DUDS

-OG Will Hernandez, QB Daniel Jones, CB James Bradberry

3 THOUGHTS ON TB

(1) TB is the class of the NFC and when I look around at the competitors within the conference, I don’t see anyone close. Sure, ARI looks good on paper and DAL can go toe to toe if everything clicks correctly. Any given Sunday, I get it. But what TB has that those 2 and others have not shown in the postseason yet is the innate ability to finding ways to win. TB and Brady in particular have the intangibles that I always speak of. They’re vital. Learning how to win games is a skill that needs to be developed over the years and they truly have it.

(2) The TB offensive line entered Week 11 as the only starting 5 to have begun each game on the field together. At this point in the season, that is extremely rare. That is a key reason why this team and this group in particular is playing so well. Another reason? They’re drafted the OL as well, if not better, than everybody. They have 2 first-round picks on the outside and, amazingly, three starters inside who all played lower than Division I football. I’m not sure I have ever seen that before. OC Ryan Jensen is the best center in football and the Alex Cappa + Ali Marpet duo at guard is the best duo at the position in the league. The unproven question mark is depth. Marpet went out with an injury and in comes Aaron Stinnie. He was very good and easily remained the second-best guard in this game. Perhaps that isn’t saying much, though. Offensive Line Coach Joe Gilbert is a name worth keeping in the back of your head.

(3) A thought to consider. Please do not take this as what I want or what I think NYG should do. I am not going there yet. But with the possibility of Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, and Aaron Rodgers all being available via trade this upcoming offseason, could this team look at the turnaround we saw in TB once Brady arrived as a template to follow? Starting in 2011, TB had 8 losing seasons in 9 years. Their record over those 9 years was 49-95. They had multiple 1st-round busts at quarterback. They had 4 failed head coaches. Their offense and defense were both routinely bottom-third in this league. Then bam, all of the sudden it changes the second an elite quarterback comes into town. The difference would be the fact that NYG would likely have to give up multiple 1st round picks and possibly a quality player to obtain that QB. That said, the aura of a team changes when a guy like that puts on the uniform. Intangibles can be contagious. Even though there are holes on this team left and right, this needs to be a possible option for a team that has proven to be terrible at building a winner via the draft. Do the Maras have the guts to do this?

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

(1) I have watched this defensive scheme over and over, multiple times from multiple angles ever since Patrick Graham was hired. While I know they are an “amoeba” front (one that often changes shape/alignment), I am having a hard time truly understanding what their plan is. Yes, I know the response is they “change it week to week and base it on matchups.” I think this is part of the big picture problem though. There is no identity, they are putting guys in spots they don’t belong, and it makes building depth very difficult. I am putting daily work into the 2022 Draft reports and stacks now and there just isn’t a flow to where NYG needs to infuse new talent. Whatever they’re doing or trying to do isn’t working and I don’t see long-term promise. I think they need to get more rigid with a 3-4 or 4-3 and build from there.

(2) The Jason Garrett firing will hopefully bring improvement and/or clarity to the current NYG offensive personnel. Freddie Kitchens has had success in this league, but it was short-lived as a play-caller. The league figured him out in a hurry, and he struggled to adjust. Are there similarities here to what CLE had when Kitchens took over the play-calling from Todd Haley in 2018? After all, from week 9-on, CLE led the NFL in yards per play and yards per pass attempt with a rookie quarterback and running back. NYG arguably has more talent than CLE did back then, but the offensive line will make things difficult for any play-caller. I think the biggest jump we can expect is where NYG currently resides in red zone success, which is the absolute basement in the NFL. This is equally big for Kitchens as it is Jones and company.

(3) For the fourth straight week, NYG has seen a decline in total yards. Was Garrett really THE culprit? Or is he more the scapegoat of a bigger problem that those who remain are scrambling to try and cover for? The NYG organization has been all about saving face and public perception. The press conferences try to convince those who listen that things are under control and there is a plan in place. It is clear to me that this team does not have a plan beyond basic football. They don’t know how to draft, they don’t know how to manage the cap, they don’t know how to play 2-minute offense and defense, they don’t know what to do in the red zone, they don’t know how to manage timeouts. You can preach fundamentals all you want, and you can say one-liners about being a teaching-based coaching staff. Sounds very Belichick-y. That helps during the spring and summer months where results are subjective. However, the mismanagement always rears its ugly head during the fall and this is the problem that starts from the top.

Nov 092021
 
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Quincy Roche, New York Giants (November 7, 2021)

Quincy Roche – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

Throughout the course of a football season, every franchise hits adversity. Some of it is injury-based, some of it is off-field-based. The 1st-place Las Vegas Raiders, off to their best start in 5 years, have hit as much adversity off of the field as any team in the league. Team President Marc Badain shockingly resigned in July without warning, Head Coach Jon Gruden “resigned” in October amid turmoil that stemmed from emails sent a decade ago, and 2020 1st-round pick Henry Ruggs III was just released days ago after hitting and killing a 23-year-old woman and her dog while driving intoxicated. The Raiders have been put through the wringer, but to this point, they had proven to be able to rise above and win games, plain and simple.

The Giants’ final game prior to their bye week came on short rest against a team that had come off 13 days of rest. It was near, but not quite at, the tail end of a really difficult stretch of opponents that were all .500 or better in the win column. They were still without running back Saquon Barkley and left tackle Andrew Thomas in addition to slot receiver Sterling Shepard. Their offense has rarely operated at full strength this year, but it certainly did not look that way at the start of the game.

I have been vocal about how effective 1st-down play-action has been for Jones and the Giants offense. It forces him into simpler and more timely reads, but most importantly, it aids the offensive line. NYG opened the game with a 9-yard completion using 1st-down play-action. After 5 solid gains, 3 of which were positive running plays using Devontae Booker, NYG found themselves at the LV 30. 2nd-down play-action was the call again and Daniel Jones hit Evan Engram up the right sideline for a touchdown. NYG had the 7-0 lead just over 4 minutes into the contest. This was the final NYG offensive touchdown of the day.

The lead didn’t last long. LV has a first-round running back of their own, Josh Jacobs, who had been off to a tough start to the season. He appeared to be getting his game back on track on the first drive, gaining 39 of the team’s 73 yards as they marched down the field in just over 5 minutes, capping it off with a touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Hunter Renfrow. The teams traded scoreless possessions and then NYG made their first two big mistakes of the day.

Special teamer Keion Crossen was flagged for a personal foul after seeking out punter Andy Lee and laying him out about 15-20 yards away from the play. Instead of 1st-and-10 from the 49, NYG began with the ball from the 34. On the very first play, left tackle Matt Peart was beat by Yannick Ngakoue, who sacked Jones and forced a fumble which was recovered by LV. The NYG defense was able to plug the hole, keeping LV to a field goal. LV was up 10-7 as the second quarter was under way.

NYG was moving the chains via Booker and the short passing game. As they reached midfield again, they had a string of three plays that not only halted the drive but also pushed them back nearly 20 yards. A hold on guard Matt Skura, a 7-yard loss on a screen to Elijhaa Penny, and a 6-yard loss on a failed double-pass attempt using Kadarius Toney. NYG did then force a 3-and-out to get the ball back to Jones and the offense.

Booker continued to impress in addition to a solid pickup on a pass to Kenny Golladay to lead NYG back toward field-goal position. Jones started off 8-for-8 on the day. Another sack by Ngakoue killed the momentum, however, and NYG settled on a 35-yard field goal to tie the game. The first half ended with LV putting another 3 points on the board via a 32-yard field goal by Daniel Carlson, his 39th in a row from 40 or less yards. They had the lead, 13-10, at the break.

The NYG offense had gained 75 yards on their first 7 plays (10.7 per) of the game. Since then? 82 yards on 22 plays (3.7 per). The defense came out knowing they would have to create on their own if they had any shot in this one. They did so right away. Safety Xavier McKinney, an emerging player on this defense, took an interception into the end zone on the third play of the second half to give NYG a 17-13 lead.

The following LV possession was the longest of the day. A 15-play, 85-yard drive included just three third downs. Their offense was clicking and spreading the ball around as the NYG pass rush yet again struggled to get consistent pressure on deep drop backs. The defense did come up with another red-zone stop, however, holding LV to another field goal to get the visiting team within one. NYG marched into the red zone themselves and had a 1st down from the LV 20, but they too had to settle on a field goal. They increased the lead back to 4 as the 4th quarter was under way.

LV gained 67 yards on their first three plays. They were 1st-and-10 from the NYG 14 but the defense stepped up when it mattered most again, forcing LV into another short field goal attempt. This one from 25 yards. Carlson’s streak ended there, however, as he hooked it and saw the ball turn outside the uprights. NYG did not add any more points, but they did take over 3 minutes off of the clock before punting it back to Carr and the LV offense. This is the moment the NYG defense had been failing, but not today.

McKinney, the emerging player who had made the biggest play of the game to this point, came up with his second interception of the half. It was exactly what many of the NYG faithful had been wanting from the position for so long. Instincts, intelligence, reaction, closing speed, and ball skills. This gave NYG the ball back and they kept the clock moving to the point where LV had to burn their timeouts. The automatic Graham Gano hit his third field goal of the day to give NYG a 7-point lead with just over 3 minutes left.

The game did not end without drama, however. LV moved the ball rather easily. They traveled 52 yards and had a 1st-and-10 from the NYG 13-yard line with just under 1 minute remaining. On 2nd-and-10, an unexpected hero arose from the blind side. Quincy Roche, a 2021 5th round draft pick who was scooped off of waivers from PIT, sacked Carr and forced a fumble. Leonard Williams finished it off by hopping on the loose ball and that was it.

NYG wins 23-16.

See you in 2 weeks.

QUARTERBACK

-Daniel Jones: 15/20 – 110 yards / 1 TD – 0 INT / 104.2 RAT

Jones also added 17 yards on 4 carries. It is rare to see a quarterback throw the ball just 20 times in a game unless weather or time of possession was a major factor. Neither were true in this game. NYG was having success on the ground and there were too many mismatches in the trenches for Garrett to go pass-heavy. Jones had a few high-level throws in this one, but couldn’t get the ball downfield often. His fumble was a result of poor ball-handling in traffic (although the pressure came from the blind side). He took what the defense gave him, didn’t make any poor decisions, and came up with a handful of clutch throws. All of this with very little support up front. A solid, yet unspectacular game for Jones.

RUNNING BACK

-Devontae Booker: 21 att – 99 yards / 3 rec – 23 yards

Second week in a row for Booker where he could make a strong case for being the best offensive player of the game. Booker’s production was solid (4.7 yards per carry / 7.7 yards per catch), but it wasn’t a performance that took over the game. That isn’t the point. Booker was netting positive play after positive play. He was moving the ball forward time and time again with the occasional big gain. That means so much to an offense in more ways than one, and it is something Barkley should take note of moving forward. More on that below.

-Elijhaa Penny deserves mention. He gained 35 yards on 5 carries. The 2 biggest carries of the game were on the final drive where NYG’s main task was to bleed the clock. He had consecutive carries that gained 11 and 12 yards, respectively. Two plays later was his top play of the game, in my opinion. He took a pass and lost a yard, but made a quick decision to anchor himself in the ground near the sideline to keep the clock moving. It was an extremely intelligent football play.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Very quiet day from this group. They, as an entire position group, saw just 4 targets. I cannot remember a game where the receivers saw just 4 targets. Kenny Golladay caught both of his for 28 yards, Kadarius Toney caught his for a 9-yard gain to convert a 3rd-down, and Darius Slayton’s target was uncatchable.

-I can’t really comment much on the group overall, but I am disappointed that on a day where the offense mightily struggled, Toney was on the field for only 31 snaps. He was thrown to once, he was given one carry, and he was given one pass “attempt” (which resulted in a sack). There is a time to take what the defense gives you, but the best offensive minds find ways to get their best play-makers involved and in advantageous situations. Garrett dropped the ball here.

TIGHT END

-The tight end group received twice as many targets as the receiver group, another number I cannot recall ever seeing from this franchise. Kyle Rudolph caught a 9-yard pass on the first play of the game before bringing in another 11 combined yards on 3 more catches.

-Evan Engram caught his second touchdown in as many weeks on the longest NYG gain of the game. His 30-yard score included an impressive play on the ball right before the goal line. His two other receptions combined for just 8 yards.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-It appears that the mismatch in the trenches dictated a huge portion of the NYG play-calling. They, as a group, could not handle the LV pass rush, in particular on the outside. Matt Peart received the lowest grade on the line, allowing 2 sacks and 2 pressures. He was very good in the running game, however. He is a mauler who has natural power and good straight-line movement. His ability to come down on the defensive tackles and wash them out was on display multiple times. The skill set for pass protection, however, isn’t there yet. Nate Solder allowed 2 pressures.

-Matt Skura and Billy Price were both poor as well. Skura allowed a TFL and 2 pressures in addition to being flagged for a holding penalty. Price allowed a pressure and 2 TFL. For an offense that had a solid running game performance, these two did not contribute to it the way you would think. They both were getting pushed backward but were bailed out by the adjustment speed of Booker and Penny both.

-Will Hernandez had one of the best games we have seen out of him this season and one of the top-5 performances of his career according to my grading sheet. He, along with Peart, moved defenders off of the ball, locked on to his opponent, and finished blocks. I was really pleased with him although he struggled in space. The lateral quickness and reaction aren’t his thing and NYG needs to keep him out of those situations as much as possible.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Leonard Williams remains on fire, adding 5 more tackles, 3 more pressures, 1 PD, and fumble recovery to his season stat-line that is top-5 in the NFL at the position. There aren’t many defensive tackles who play 90% of the snaps and that is right where he was. My one negative on him was the three different plays where he was completely blown off the ball by 3-4 yards on LV running plays. He is a bit of a risk taker inside and that style of play fits the scheme well, but there will always be a few big plays in the other direction that come from it

-Dexter Lawrence is picking up steam. He added 6 tackles, 1 TFL, and 1 pressure as he played just over half of the snaps. His anchor against the double-team has improved over the past 3 weeks and his athleticism shows up at some opportune times.

-Unfortunately, Danny Shelton was back on the field after missing a couple games. He was on the field for 10 snaps, and he was dominated (pushed back 3-4 yards) three times. It was a bad look for him and I think I’ve seen enough to say he looks like he is finished.

LINEBACKERS

-With Lorenzo Carter injured and Oshane Ximines a healthy scratch, rookies Azeez Ojulari and Quincy Roche manned the outside spots. Have both flashed enough to warrant the idea that these two should be the feature guys after the bye week? Permanently? Absolutely not. However, I don’t want to see Carter and Ximines receiving the majority number of snaps simply because they entered the season as the starters. We already know what we are getting from them. Ojulari seems entrenched at one spot and rightfully so. Roche deserves his shot on other side. He came up with the sack-fumble to end the game along with 4 tackles and a pressure. Ojulari with 2 tackles, 1 PD, and 1 pressure.

-Tae Crowder bounced back after a poor game at KC. He had 9 tackles and 2 PD. He was playing twitchy and fast. He was the victim of a few poor defensive line plays where he had blockers at his feet in an instant, but when it came to his role playing, he performed well.

-Reggie Ragland is out-snapping Benardrick McKinney. They combined for 8 tackles, and I do see more on-field intelligence from Ragland. However, McKinney is notably faster to the outside and I think he plays more physically as well. I am fine with these two rotating, but eventually McKinney should be the guy to see more snaps. He has more upside.

CORNERBACK

-It was an interesting game from both James Bradberry and Adoree’ Jackson. Like a relief pitcher in baseball, this is a position that we see a lot of back-and-forth on week-to-week basis. In this game, we saw a lot of back-and-forth from series-to-series.

-Jackson made a physical tackle early on in the game but was notably shaken after that. He didn’t come out, but he did play soft rest of the way. He missed 3 tackles from that point, and they all seemed like your classic business decisions. However, he was very good in deep coverage and was the main reason why Bryan Edwards was shut out.

-Bradberry had a couple of key stops on 3rd down, but he was also beat for a touchdown on the opening drive and was luckily not exposed in the box score on two2 others. Carr overthrew Darren Waller on a play where Bradberry was 5+ yards behind the tight end up the seam. Bradberry was also beat later on by Zay Jones badly, but Carr pulled the ball down and scrambled too early to see it. Bradberry was also flagged for illegal contact and missed a tackle. Poor game for him.

-Where Jackson and Bradberry fell short, Darnay Holmes stepped up. He is such a fun player to watch with how borderline-reckless he plays. He did get beat badly by Renfrow on 3rd down but added two pressures as a blitzer. His speed and burst are weapons within the NYG blitz package.

SAFETY

-Xavier McKinney came up with his second multi-interception performance of the year. Both picks in this game were high-level plays on the ball that showcased intelligence, skill, and talent. His role and versatility within this defense are growing and he appears to be the kind of difference maker this defense desperately needs.

-Logan Ryan led the team with 9 tackles including one of the overlooked but vital plays of the game. With the game deep into the 4th quarter and NYG up by 4, Ryan made a key 3rd-down tackle on Josh Jacobs at the 7-yard line. Ryan is among league-leaders in tackles by defensive backs, but his 2 missed tackles added to a total in that department that is alarmingly high. I appreciate everything Ryan is doing for this team on the field and off of it, but the missed tackles are a weekly issue. Remember, he has spent more time at corner than safety in the NFL and he was a college corner. Tackling from a safety is an asset or a liability. Ryan is on the wrong side of that right now.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 3/3 (Made 35, 32, 38)
-P Riley Dixon: 3 punts / 48.7 avg – 47.0 net

3 STUDS

-S Xavier McKinney, OG Will Hernandez, DT Leonard Williams

3 DUDS

-OT Matt Peart, OG Matt Skura, CB James Bradberry

3 THOUGHTS ON LV

(1) The Raiders are in a rare 4-way tie for 1st place in the AFC West theoretically. They are one of four teams that currently have 5 wins. Prior to the year, everyone worth listening to had KC or LAC at the top of this division and here we are, at or near the halfway point and this team has as many reasons to believe they are the class of the division as everyone else. Despite the adversity, their leadership is there in key spots. In addition, anyone who has followed sports for long enough understands that adversity, in some cases, is what binds a team together and brings on a result greater than the sum of its parts. I see LV being that team.

(2) Two of the most important players on this team are recovering alcoholics/addicts. Tight End Darren Waller (5th among TEs in receiving) and Defensive End Maxx Crosby (NFL leader in QB knockdowns) had their own respective careers nearly ruined by drugs and/or alcohol. It is refreshing to see, especially with the turmoil surrounding this team, that there are young men who do turn things around. We should always remember that there are players worth taking calculated risks on, especially prior to joining the NFL. Some of the backgrounds these kids have coming out of college are beyond what many can even comprehend. Sure, there are cases where entering the league and making that kind of money will worsen their habits but the potential for value (from a football perspective) is part of the equation. The 2021 cap hit of these 2 players COMBINED is $7.4 million. $2 million less than Nate Solder alone.

(3) How is the Mike Mayock experiment panning out? The long time NFL Draft analyst took over the General Manager job prior to the 2019 NFL Draft. They won 7 games in 2019, 8 in 2020, and are on track to win 10+ in year 3. His drafts have been very good. 7 out of 9 players from the 2019 Draft are starters or key contributors, 2 out of 7 players from the 2020 draft are key contributors, and early returns on the 2021 class are solid. The biggest black eye comes from the 2020 class, as both 1st rounders were used on players who were cut in the past week. Ruggs, and just-released cornerback Damon Arnette for his own off-field trouble. Now that Gruden is out and knowing Mayock a little bit personally, I can see their key focus moving forward revolving around character even more so. Vegas is not the ideal town for young kids with big money and lack of character.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

(1) This was a very poor offensive game by NYG. How poor? They averaged 4.5 yards per play. The worst offense in the league entering week 9, the Chicago Bears, average 4.4 yards per play. The Miami Dolphins were the next worst at 4.7 yards per play. NYG did this against a defense that is middle of the road in perfect weather conditions at home. While they are still missing Barkley and Thomas, 2 key players, their absence wasn’t enough to warrant this kind of performance. The culprit remains mainly personnel (offensive line) but what I find inexcusable is the lack of effort to get a player like Toney more involved.

(2) Speaking of Barkley being out and, in this game, it not impacting the game a lot, I did some digging on this team’s success with and without Barkley. With #26 on the field at the start of the game, NYG is 9-27 (.250 winning percentage). In games he did not play in at all, NYG is 9-12 (.429 winning percentage). Football sample sizes are often not large enough to come up with objective statements compared to analytics in other sports, however this is worth noting. No, the discussion of whether Barkley is more talented than guys like Booker or Wayne Gallman isn’t even a discussion (although Barkley can learn a thing or two from Booker). We know the answer there. The question has more to do with his future with NYG. Coming from someone who wanted Barkley at #2 overall, there are several things to think about regarding what NYG should do with him over the next 12-18 months. I look forward to those discussions and assume most can be mature and respectful about it. It is going to be an interesting situation to follow.

(3) 3-6 is not a good place to be in this league. With that said, I am a mathematics guy and if there is a fighting statistical chance for post-season play, I always like to think about possibilities. Based on the top-heavy feel of the NFC (the top 4 are in their own tier), the wildcard spots will likely come down to an 8- or 9-win team making the postseason. Can NYG go 5-3 from this point on? 5 of their 8 games remaining are against teams with losing records. Their toughest opponent left (TB) will come with the Giants having a huge rest advantage and with the team having their key missing pieces back in play. I’ll say it because it is true. NYG is in the hunt. Not because they are a very good team, but because they are a team approaching the middle tier and there are a lot of holes in the NFC. The middle tier in this conference is rather bad, to be blunt.