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Game Preview: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, October 22, 2020

THE STORYLINE

Yes, the stupid competitor in me says there is still a chance. Unbelievably, at 1-5, the New York Giants are only one game behind the division “leading” 2-4 Dallas Cowboys (who also currently own the head-to-head advantage too). Indeed, had the Giants not lost a very winnable game against the Cowboys, one where they led both early and late, New York would be in first place right now with a chance to go 3-0 in the division on Thursday night. That’s crazy.

But this is fool’s gold. The Giants are not a good team. The offense has scored more than 16 points in a game only once. They are 31st in yards and scoring. (Thank you Jets!) While the defense is more respectable, they have continued an excessively annoying inability to stop the other team late in the 2nd and 4th quarters. As expected, fan ire has turned on the usual scapegoats, the quarterback and the coaching staff. Despite the attempts of myself and others to repeatedly warn others about the shocking lack of talent on the offensive side of the ball (especially after the loss of Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard), many fans simply refuse to accept reality. They don’t seem to recognize that defenses stacked the box against Barkley and put a linebacker and safety on him on passing plays, opening things up for everyone else.

I told my wife this week, “If you put the skill position players from all 32 teams in a field and had the teams pick players one at a time from that group, you’d have a bunch of New York Giants left there at the end.” Yes, it is that bad. But we now have fans complaining that Jason Garrett doesn’t know how to use a tight end! (Actually, think about that statement for a moment). Or Daniel Jones is a bust because he’s not putting up 30 points a game with a washed up Golden Tate and undrafted rookie Austin Mack playing wide receiver. The team’s leading rusher isn’t a running back. And the Giants are still playing musical chairs on the offensive line. Dave Brown had much better offensive talent around him in the 1990s, and that’s saying something.

One of the craziest posts I saw this week is the suggestion that the Giants trade for a wide receiver. This is a 1-5 team that is probably going to win about 3-4 games this year and one that has already traded away two of its seven 2021 draft picks (we have five picks left). Even if by some miracle the Giants were able to win the NFC East with a 5-11 or 6-10 record, so what? You can’t rebuild a ball club by trading away picks, even low ones. How far away are the Giants from being a serious contender? Look no farther than the Junior Varsity 49ers beating the Giants 36-9 last month.

OK, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s look to the 1-4-1 Philadelphia Eagles. They are obviously struggling too. And like the Giants, they come into this game with a lot of injury issues. Statistically, the Eagles are better on offense than the Giants but worse on defense. On paper, this looks like a toss-up. But there’s that ugly, little sticking point: the Eagles own the Giants. They have won 12 of the last 13 games. And until proven otherwise, the Giants will continue to be their little bitches. It sucks. One of my son’s best friends is an Eagles’ fan. Do you think he wants to hear it from his friend again?

THE INJURY REPORT

  • RB Dion Lewis (hand – probable)
  • WR Darius Slayton (foot – probable)
  • WR C.J. Board (concussion – out)
  • LB Tae Crowder (hamstring – out – on Injured Reserve)
  • CB Darnay Holmes (neck – questionable)
  • S Adrian Colbert (shoulder – out)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE

    The curious decision by Joe Judge to carry four wide receivers is starting to impact the Giants. At one point last Sunday, the team was down to two healthy wideouts: the washed up Golden Tate (19 catches for 156 yards and no touchdowns) and undrafted rookie free agent Austin Mack who was playing in his first game (Mack finished with one catch for one yard). With below average journeyman C.J. Board out and Darius Slayton still battling a nagging foot injury, the Giants are on shaky ground here. Unless they activate Sterling Shepard from IR, they obviously need to bring up another body from the Practice Squad such as Binjimen Victor, Alex Bachman, or Derrick Dillon. Needless to say, even a mediocre Eagles defense is not trembling in their sneakers.

    As I expected and predicted last week, the Giants featured the ground game as New York ran the ball more than they passed. This includes Daniel Jones, who has now become a viable weapons with his feet. Opponent game plans are obvious, don’t let Slayton or Evan Engram beat you. Once again, I would think the Giants go into this game on Thursday with a heavy emphasis on the ground attack. Not only has it been easier to run on the Eagles than throwing (just like the Redskins), but by doing so, the coaching staff protects the weapon-deprived Daniel Jones and the still-evolving offensive line. It’s boring. It is isn’t conducive to scoring a lot of points (see last Sunday). But in a game that will probably be decided by the turnover margin (again, like the game against the Redskins), it’s probably the smart choice.

    Say what you will about the Eagles’ defense (12th against the pass, 21st against the run), they are still well-coached and are filled with players who are simply used to owning the New York Giants, especially up front at the line of scrimmage. If Joe Judge and Jason Garrett are going to turn this “rivalry” around, then it must come up front. Judge says the Giants will continue to rotate at offensive tackle, with Andrew Thomas, Matt Peart, and Cam Fleming all receiving playing time. The Giants need a strong game from the interior trio against old nemesis Fletcher Cox and company.

    Run the football. Keep down-and-distance situations manageable. Don’t do anything stupid.  In a low-scoring game, punting and winning the field position battle are often the right choice.

    NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

    Patrick Graham is doing a darn good job given the issues the Giants have at edge rusher and in the secondary. The one glaring exception to that is the continued inability to play respectable defense at the end of both halves of each game. That has bitten the team in the ass repeatedly this year, costing them games and almost costing them their first win. They have to clean that up. It’s becoming a mental thing.

    The problem that Graham is facing now is that the linebacking position has taken a big hit. In a matter of a couple of weeks, they have lost Lorenzo Carter (starter who was playing better), Oshane Ximines (who was starting over Markus Golden), and Tae Crowder (a new starter who won the game last week). Yes, the Giants are still getting good linebacker play out of Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell, but to lose three starters at one position is a hit that even good teams can ill-afford. The loss of Crowder stands out in this contest as he is the type of mobile, athletic linebacker the Giants have lacked in their match-up with Eagles’ tight ends and running backs in coverage.

    Darnay Holmes also dealing with a neck injury has also complicated matters. Last week, the Giants were forced to shift Logan Ryan inside to corner and play Julian Love, who had been benched, at safety. The good news is that Ryan Lewis appears to have settled down the corner spot opposite of James Bradberry somewhat. Still, this is a very shallow group that simply cannot afford another injury.

    The Eagles are really beat up on the offensive side of the football. Some of their key injured players will play, but some important ones who have killed the Giants in the past such as tight end Zach Ertz and running back Miles Sanders will not. Nevertheless, it always seems like some no-name player on the Eagles makes a name for himself on national television against the Giants. Again, if Judge wants to turn this “rivalry” around, that shit has to stop.

    The Eagles are 27th in offense (26th in passing, 13th in rushing). Stating the obvious, stop the run. Make Carson Wentz and his injured receiving corps beat you. Control the line of scrimmage against an offensive line that has also been dealing with injury issues and struggling. This is the time for the big boys up front to earn their paychecks. Most importantly, with the game on the line late in the halves, stop the other team!

    One final note, I hope the defense keeps an eye on quarterback Jalen Hurts. He can be used in a variety of ways on trick plays.

    NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

    If the Giants are going to win this game, I think they have to win the turnover battle and I think they have to make an impact play on special teams. And this would be typical of a Giants-Eagles game. Now would be an opportune time for a blocked kick.

    FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

    Head Coach Joe Judge on Carson Wentz and the Eagles’ offense: “It all goes through No. 11 for them right there. He’s a big armed quarterback, can make any throw he needs to on the field, so you have to defend the entire field. What that does is that opens up the deep balls with guys like (DeSean) Jackson coming back this week and Alshon (Jeffery – late note: Jefferey won’t play). It also opens up the tight ends underneath and the running backs. They’re great catch-and-run running backs. You can create a screen or a check down for these guys… I think Carson’s doing a really good job. I think when he runs the ball, he’s a big, physical, tough guy. He can extend plays. You can’t just tackle this guy like any quarterback. You have to treat him like a running back in the open space. You have to wrap him up and get him on the ground. This guy runs physical. You watch that run against Baltimore last week, he’s not looking to get out of bounds. He’s looking to extend it vertically and gain as many yards as he can. This guy is a good quarterback.”

    THE FINAL WORD

    The Eagles may be struggling, but if you watched them against the Ravens last week, you see there is no quit in that team. They are one of the very best coached teams in the game on offense, defense, and special teams. And probably most importantly, they expect to beat the Giants. Why wouldn’t they?

    I wrote this last week: “If the Giants beat Washington and go on to win several more game this year, that will be a positive step in the right direction. But if this is another case of a meaningless, temporary feel-good win against a bad Washington team followed by loss-loss-loss-loss, then it won’t mean much.”

    What will it be New York?

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    James Bradberry, New York Giants (October 18, 2020)

    James Bradberry – © USA TODAY Sports

    New York Giants 20 – Washington Football Team 19

    QUICK RECAP

    Since the 2017 season, the Washington Football Team and New York Giants have hung out together at the bottom of the NFC East standings. They’ve both undergone coaching and front office regime changes, they both drafted a new first-round quarterback in 2019, and they both rank in the bottom 3 among all offenses in the league. The similarities go on, but the point is these two historic franchises have been the bottom feeders of the NFC East for quite some time now and 2020 appears to be no different.

    Kyle Allen, who played under Head Coach Ron Rivera and Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner in 2019 in Carolina, started under center for the second week in a row. Dwayne Haskins was benched, as rumors are now surfacing he has not been putting in the time to learn the scheme on his own. Since he was demoted, Haskins has apparently been coping with a non-Covid 19 sickness, keeping him away from the team at all costs. Now there are trade rumors circulating among people I trust.

    On to the game, though. Allen led WAS on a 12-play drive that put them in field goal range. Kicker Dustin Hopkins, whom has never missed a field goal attempt against NYG in his 14 tries dating back to 2015, missed the 47-yarder. This gave NYG the initial field position advantage and it took them just one play to pass midfield. They gained 50 combined yards on their first 5 plays, putting them in the red zone. From there, two of their next three plays combined for -7 yards and it made the home team settle on a Graham Gano 33-yard field goal.

    Momentum remained on the NYG side, as Allen threw an interception to James Bradberry on the second play of the next drive, giving NYG the ball at the WAS 27-yard line. Three plays later Daniel Jones hit Darius Slayton on a beautifully-thrown ball in the end zone for the game’s first touchdown. NYG was up 10-0 as the first quarter expired. It was the second game in a row NYG had a double-digit lead in the first quarter.

    Both WAS and NYG got into the red zone on their next respective drives but couldn’t punch it in. They traded field goals to make the score 13-3. WAS then went on its second longest drive of the day, 13 plays, that netted 70 total yards. NYG had them stopped but a running into the kicker penalty on their punt from midfield encouraged River Boat Ron to opt for a 4th-and-4 attempt. They converted and 5 plays later Allen found tight end and former Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas for a 5-yard touchdown. That was the end of the half and NYG held a 13-10 lead. This was the first lead NYG had at halftime since they faced WAS on December 22, 2019. Teams that have a lead at halftime win 80% of the time.

    The two teams traded scoreless possessions to begin the 3rd quarter. On the Giants second drive, their offense was really clicking. They made it 73 yards via 14 plays, 9 of which were handoffs to Devonta Freeman. They were spreading the ball out, using misdirection, and the offensive line was controlling a very solid WAS defensive front. On 1st-and-goal from the WAS 7-yard line, Jones was pressured by 2020 #2 overall pick Chase Young. He couldn’t step into his throw as he tried to get it out and beyond the end zone on a throw-away attempt. Kendall Fuller intercepted the pass. Rather than NYG putting 7 more points on the board, they came away with 0. Three possessions in the red zone and they had just 6 points to show for it.

    WAS began the fourth quarter with another long drive, this one being 14 plays long. The bend-don’t-break NYG defense allowed them to march down the field little by little and all the way to the 10-yard line. But they were able to stop them on third down, a rarity in this game, to hold them to 3 points. It was tied up at 13 and NYG and was searching for a big play. Their offense just wasn’t able to put things together well enough after their quick 10 points to start off the game. Jones had a couple of bad throws that led to a punt and all of the sudden WAS had the ball in their hands with the game tied.

    As they breached midfield, the Giants defense sent an aggressive blitz on 3rd-and-9. Kyler Fackrell got to Allen and jarred the ball loose. Rookie linebacker Tae Crowder scooped it up and scampered into the end zone. The big play this team was in desperate need of came from the unlikeliest of sources and NYG had the commanding 7-point lead with just over 3 minutes left.

    WAS then took the ball and continued to chip away at the Giants defense steadily but with assurance. They gained yards on 6 straight plays, which put them at the NYG 22-yard line with 0:46 on the clock. Allen then hit Cam Sims on a nicely thrown ball up the left sideline over the hands of Logan Ryan for the touchdown. They were an extra point away from a tie with 0:36 left. River Boat Ron quickly decided to use their momentum and go for 2. All or nothing. Win or lose. No ties, no overtime. Allen took the snap and too-quickly evaded the pocket, cutting the field in half for the NYG defense. His targets were vastly outnumbered and with an angry Dexter Lawrence closing in, he aimlessly chucked it into the end zone with nobody near it. NYG took the ball back after the onside kick recovery by Ryan and that was it.

    NYG wins 20-19.

    QUARTERBACK

    -Daniel Jones: 12-19 / 112 yards / 1 TD – 1 INT

    Jones also added 74 yards on the ground via 7 carries, including a long of 49 on a designed run. It is a rarity to see a team run the ball more than pass, but that is exactly what happened in this one. His 19 attempts were the fewest of his career over his 18 starts. In fact, he had never attempted less than 31 passes in a game prior to this. The last time NYG threw the ball under 20 times was 2018 in a 38-35 win over TB. Jones started the game off nice and clean. He was 11-for-13 but after Darius Slayton went down, he finished 1-for-6 and an interception. The interception was a costly one. Had NYG not won, this would have been the focal point. You can’t throw an interception on 1st-and-goal from the 7-yard line in a tight game. One can make the argument it “wasn’t his fault” yet again because he got pressured, but from my eyes, he needs to be quicker with the decision when you know the blocking scheme is going to put a tight end on Chase Young. Jones played well enough to win, he looked outstanding on the ground, and he played tough.

    RUNNING BACK

    -Devonta Freeman: 18 att / 61 yards and 1 rec / -4 yards

    No other running back carried the ball so it is safe to say Freeman is now the “Bell-Cow” on this team for the rest of the year unless someone trades for him. Freeman is showing his old-school, aggressive downhill style that we saw when he was with Atlanta. He gets north in a hurry and can show the occasional jump cut that makes defenders miss. His blocking has also been very good. Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman were on the field for a combined 13 plays and they touched the ball a combined one time.

    WIDE RECEIVER

    -Darius Slayton: 2 rec / 41 yards / 1 TD

    -Good to see Slayton make a couple of big plays, the standout being a 23-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He aggravated an ankle injury on that play but was able to jog off the field. Later on, he went down again and didn’t get back up until the NYG medical staff came out to assist him. At the time of this writing, my guess is he may miss some time. It is pretty easy to see this offense without him out there, in particular the passing game, really struggles. No other wide receiver scares the opposition half as much as he does.

    -Golden Tate had a catch for 11 yards and C.J. Board brought one in for 8 yards. Austin Mack caught his first career ball for 1 yard, and that was it for the NYG receivers. One cannot expect a lot of production in a game where they throw the ball 19 times but the issue remains, this group of receivers may be one of the worst 5 in the league. And that is being kind. Sterling Shepard likely won’t return until November.

    *Board was taken off the field on a stretcher with a concussion and was released from the hospital Monday.

    TIGHT END

    -Evan Engram was targeted just 3 times. He caught 2 of them for 30 yards. He was covered pretty well by the WAS defense. From my perspective, it looked like he was the focal point of their pass defense. He saw a lot of bracket coverage. I expect teams to replicate that coming up. The Giants seemed to keep him off the field on running plays more than what we have seen this year.

    -Kaden Smith led the team with 3 catches. They combined for just 15 yards. Smith was brought here for his blocking prowess and he really has done a poor job there. He allowed a pressure that led to the WAS interception and he allowed a TFL.

    OFFENSIVE LINE

    -The story of the day was Andrew Thomas being benched for being late to a team meeting. A one-time occurrence isn’t anything to freak out about. All signs have pointed toward Thomas being a good kid who has maturity beyond his years. With that said, extra eyes are on him now. He allowed 1 TFL and 1 pressure. Overall his performance on the field, which was about 50% of the snaps, was average. He got good push in the run game and he was really hustling down the field. His pass protection sets still look inconsistent, however.

    -As much as that may have frustrated some, the good news is that rookie 3rd ounder Matt Peart stepped in as the starter at left tackle. He played about half of the game and looked really solid. More on the comparison between Thomas and him below in my closing thoughts but tp be blunt, he proved he should be starting on this line. I predicted mid-season would be that starting point. It may be sooner.

    -Cameron Fleming allowed a TFL, sack, and pressure. He was the weak point in this one and continues to be someone we would much rather see as the swing tackle, not a starter. He doesn’t adjust well, he doesn’t recover well.

    -Kevin Zeitler and Will Hernandez were up and down. Zeitler allowed 2 TFLs and Hernandez allowed 1 in addition to a pressure. I’ve said this a few times but as long as I keep seeing it, it will keep showing up in the review. Apologies if it seems repetitive: Zeitler looks close to being done. No knee bend, no sustaining with his hands, too many recovery steps to keep himself upright.

    -Nick Gates at center is growing on me. He is the one offensive lineman who is getting better each week and that is really important. Do I think he is the answer long term? Not yet. But when you have a guy who proves himself at multiple positions over multiple years, that is huge for the long-term planning and spending. His growth has been a big reason why this NYG running game actually looks pro-caliber after a few nightmarish weeks.

    EDGE

    -The first game without Lorenzo Carter went as expected. Nobody stepped up. Markus Golden was on the field for 24 plays. He broke up a pass and hit the quarterback one time. He was single-teamed on nearly every one of his pass rush attempts and didn’t make a sound.

    -Rookies Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin were on the field for 5 and 3 plays, respectively. It is hard to get a true evaluation with so little action but Brown’s tool set, as expected, stands out. I think we are going to see a lot of him over the second half of the season.

    DEFENSIVE TACKLE

    -Because NYG is so deep at this spot, they can somewhat afford to get away with keeping pure edge guys out of the game plan. Dalvin Tomlinson was all over the field. He finished with 8 tackles, 1 TFL, and a pressure. It isn’t common to see a guy in the middle get involved in so much action, especially one who sees so many double teams against the run. Really solid gamer for him.

    -Leonard Williams also had an impressive game with a little but more visible impact. He had 5 tackles, a sack, and 1 pressure. There is some hit-and-miss in his game against the run, which is something I have noticed frequently this year. That may be scheme based, as they send him on a lot of slants post-snap. It can cause him to get ridden out into space, creating big lanes that NYG doesn’t have the linebackers to fill outside of Blake Martinez.

    -Dexter Lawrence had 3 tackles and a pressure. Not much to say about him besides the fact he is continuing to show reliability against the run and an occasional flash of athleticism as a pass rusher. B.J. Hill added a pressure and seems to be getting more and more playing time. That may be part of their plan to help offset the pass rush woes coming from the outside.

    LINEBACKER

    -Kyler Fackrell is really hitting his stride with the club. He was on the field for every snap, moving all over the place schematically. He had 3 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble that led to a touchdown, and 3 pressures. He was their top pass rusher, as they sent him from all angles. He is a physical, hard-nosed enforcer. That mentality did net a personal foul penalty on a blow to the head of Logan Thomas, but I like what he brings to the table.

    -Blake Martinez led the team with 14 tackles while adding a pressure. It looks like the spot next to him may be filled for good. Tae Crowder added 10 tackles and a fumble recovery that he brought all the way back for a touchdown. David Mayo returned from IR and Crowder out-snapped him 62-11. He brings a different level of speed and twitch and he should evolve into a better player in the coming weeks. This is his job for the taking and if he keeps playing like this while cleaning up space-tackling issues (2 misses), Mayo will be the backup.

    -This is the best LB core we have had in awhile. Props to the front office, gotta give Gettleman credit where it is due.

    CORNERBACK

    -James Bradberry and Ryan Lewis played a fantastic duo game at cornerback. Each had 3 tackles with Bradberry bringing in an interception. He nearly had a second one, but he landed out of bounds with the ball. Lewis added a nice pass break up and was excellent in downfield coverage. These two really controlled the outside passing lanes.

    -Logan Ryan had a really up and down game. He had a bad missed tackle, a really big-time pass break up in the end zone, and then gave up the WAS touchdown that nearly tied it up. Overall, he remains a key cog and leader of this defense but there are occasional plays that leave me wondering if there were concentration and discipline issues that led to him not being signed in free agency until really late. His versatility does help a lot, however. When a safety goes down, he steps in. When a corner goes down, he steps in. He had 8 tackles and a sack in addition.

    -Darnay Holmes only played 3 snaps before injuring his shoulder/neck area. At the time of this writing, his status is unknown.

    SAFETY

    -Jabrill Peppers was back to a full-time snap load, as was Julian Love. Love is the one who may have saw a boost in playing time as a result of the Holmes injury. Peppers had 6 tackles including a couple of nice range-plays against the run. Love had 3 tackles and a missed tackle.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    -K Graham Gano: 2/2 (Made 33, 20). His elite season continues.

    -P Riley Dixon: 2 Punts – 35.0 avg / 34.0 net

    3 STUDS

    -LB Kyler Fackrell, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, CB James Bradberry

    3 DUDS

    -OG Kevin Zeitler, WR Golden Tate, EDGE Markus Golden

    3 THOUGHTS ON WAS

    1. Funny how things work in today’s NFL both with the media and fans. After WAS beat PHI week 1, everyone and their mother claimed that WAS had arrived and they were the favorite in the division. This happens every year and it is simply laughable at this point. How come there is such a strong desire to make definitive statements about things that lack definitive information? Just a month later, WAS has benched their 2019 1st-round quarterback, they haven’t won another game, and their young up-and-coming talent is no longer up-and-coming. This WAS football stinks, plain and simple.
    1. The Giants need more talent on the defensive edge. That is no secret or new information, I know. One would assume that more draft resources need to be put there, but no real issue is simply solved with personnel alone. Washington has more 1st round talent along their DL than any team in the league. Chase Young (#2 overall), Montez Sweat (#26 overall), Ryan Kerrigan (#16 overall), Jonathan Allen (#17 overall), and Da’Ron Payne (#13 overall). All that talent and WAS is dead last in the league in QB knockdowns and 20th in pressure percentage. Those are all quality players, too. Not one of them can be considered a bust. It takes so much to get these NYG pass rush woes moving in the right direction, they need to get it going. One positive is that the blitzing schemes seem to be working well.
    1. Where does WAS stand now? 2020 will be a wash in my opinion but this NFC East will leave a lot of doors open. Is Dwayne Haskins (a product of the previous regime) really done there? What are they going to do at receiver/tight end? It seems they have an OK young guy in Terry McLaurin but continue to falter with middle/late round picks behind him. I think WAS is heading toward a 3-4 win season and will be heavily in the QB/WR market in the 2021 draft.

    3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

    1. In regard to the two young tackles on this offense, I’m not concerned like some are. I don’t see Thomas being another Flowers; meaning he won’t falter here because of immaturity. I am actually on the other side of the boat. The play of Matt Peart further strengthened the notion I had at the start of the season. Thomas/Peart are likely the long-term future at the tackle spots and that will be a very good thing. The difference between the two was obvious. Thomas has more power, twitch, and sheer ability. Peart does a much better job at staying within himself and trusting his technique. Both are big and powerful but playing tackle in this league is so hard. They will need this season to take their lumps, but I feel good about what they have here in regard to the long-term future. And the tackle positions, economically, are very expensive. If they can get away with quality play with these guys on a rookie deal while their QB is on a rookie deal, watch out in free agency in the coming year or two or three.
    1. I am really looking forward to the game against PHI coming up. It is going to be a very telling game for a couple reasons. One, how does the Joe Judge regime of NYG football respond to a win? The best teams become hungrier. They got the taste of a win and it makes them want it more. They lost 5 games and that can weigh on you throughout a week. All of the sudden, with a win, the energy in the building is different. Confidence in sports means more than most people understand. The second thing I am looking forward to is watching this regime on short rest. NYG has struggled in that department for years and I strongly believe this is where coaching means a ton. The best teams in the league have done well on short rest. Huge test for Judge in a very winnable game.
    1. Did anyone catch how happy the NYG players were for Joe Judge when Daniel Jones gave him the ball in the locker room after his first win? That wasn’t fake. These players love Judge and respect him and play hard for him. I don’t think I’ve seen this much spirited play since Tom Coughlin was here. And the genuine excitement these guys had for Judge was telling. They talked about culture change, as does pretty much every head coach when at the introductory press conference, but very few put that into practice.
    Oct 162020
     
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    Kaden Smith, New York Giants (December 22, 2019)

    Kaden Smith – © USA TODAY Sports

    Game Preview: Washington Football Team at New York Giants, October 18, 2020

    THE STORYLINE

    My formative years as a New York Giants fan was during the Bill Parcells-Joe Gibbs era during the 1980s. Big Blue Wrecking Crew versus the Hogs. Three hours of punch-you-in-the-face war between two physical teams who respected but despised each other. I was a nervous wreck before each game because each game between these two teams was immensely meaningful. Many of these games became legendary.

    Fast forward to October 2020. The 0-5 Giants host 1-4 Washington on Sunday. And I feel nothing. I’m rooting for the Giants to win, but I’m not even sure what’s best for the team in the long term at this point. Sy’56 and I are almost always on the same page, but we were not last year when the Giants and Washington played each other on December 22, 2019 in the “Chase Young Bowl.” Sy felt it was important for the Giants to start develop a winning culture. I wanted Chase Young. On Sunday, we’ll be constantly reminded of that “what might have been” scenario with both Young and Andrew Thomas on the field together.

    If Joe Judge is survive and thrive as head coach of the New York Giants, he has to start winning games. This is what Sy was talking about last year when he was addressing developing a winning culture. If the Giants beat Washington and go on to win several more game this year, that will be a positive step in the right direction. But if this is another case of a meaningless, temporary feel-good win against a bad Washington team followed by loss-loss-loss-loss, then it won’t mean much.

    THE INJURY REPORT

    • WR Darius Slayton (foot – questionable)
    • DL Dexter Lawrence (knee – questionable)
    • LB Kyler Fackrell (ankle – probable)
    • S Jabrill Peppers (ankle – probable)
    • S Adrian Colbert (shoulder – questionable)

    NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE

      As I predicted in last week’s game preview, the bad Giants offense performed better against the bad Cowboys defense, but it was not productive enough. The defense scored one touchdown and set up another inside the 20-yard line. And the offense handed the Cowboys one defensive score and could not move the ball with the game tied late in the game.

      The good news that came out of that game is the running game showed some life, as did Darius Slayton. The bad news was continued issues with Daniel Jones, both tackles, Evan Engram, and the lack of any production from the other wide receivers. Other than the team not winning, my problem with watching the Giants offense right now is I know that many of the players we are watching won’t be on the team in 2020. Evan Engram is due for a monster game, but so what? He’s not the answer for this team. I can’t imagine Golden Tate being back. Or Devonta Freeman. Again, if they look good, so what? They’ll be on other teams next year.

      As I wrote about last week, all of my attention is on Daniel Jones, Darius Slayton, and the offensive line. You can also now add Austin Mack to this list (for at least this week). But the lack of complementary talent is negatively impacting these players. And I now feel it’s just a matter of time before Matt Peart replaces Cam Fleming at right tackle and Shane Lemieux replaces Kevin Zeitler at right guard. Will this happen before or after the bye? The sooner this is done, the better. Endure the pain this year, minimize it next year.

      Washington isn’t a good football team, but they can present problems with their defense. Joe Judge provided a good scouting report:

      It really starts up front with the edge players and the interior. They have a number of first round draft picks on their line… That, complemented by their corners and their play-making safeties, really gives them fits for opposing offenses. They do a good job producing pressure up front and capitalizing on the opportunities produced from up front. This is a team that can get after you with just the front four. They can bring pressure, they do a really good job with their movement schemes, and they change up throughout the game. (Defensive Coordinator Jack) Del Rio does a really good job with (Head Coach) Ron (Rivera) as far as scheming for the opponent, changing up. The other thing they do is they really keep it simple for their players to play fast and play ahead.

      Andrew Thomas has had two rough outings in a row. Offensive Line Coach Marc Colombo sounded sincerely confident in Thomas’ future this week. This will be another good test for him. But the entire offensive line will be under the gun. First-round picks Montez Sweat (3 sacks) and Chase Young (2.5 sacks) are disruptive and can get after the quarterback. Both starting defensive tackles – Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne – were also drafted in the first round. How deep are they? Former 1st-round pick and Giants-killer Ryan Kerrigan is now a back-up. Middle linebacker Jon Bostic is once again leading the team in tackles (42).

      Nevertheless, Washington has surprisingly been better against the pass (7th in the NFL) than the run (23rd in the NFL). This, combined with the Giants’ lack of play-makers and issues in pass protection, would suggest the Giants more heavily focus on the ground game in this contest. Personally, I would keep it boring and run a lot, sprinkling in passes to the backs and tight ends. Minimize the chances for turnovers. When throwing the football, former Giant safety Landon Collins can be exposed in coverage.

      NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

      While the Giants defense directly contributed to points on the scoreboard against Dallas, they also came up small again in the crunch. This has been an ongoing problem for the Giants under multiple head coaches and defensive coordinators for years. The defense can’t seem to hold late in the 2nd and 4th quarters. Obviously, this is tied to long-standing pass rush and pass coverage problems. Personally, I was expecting the Giants defense to give an injury-ravaged Cowboys offensive line more problems (though to be fair, Dallas has been the top offense despite offensive line issues all year). If this defense is going to reach the next level, Dalvin Tomlinson, Dexter Lawrence, and Leonard Williams have to become more than “solid” and make game-changing plays.

      The defense and long-term planning took another hit when Lorenzo Carter suffered a ruptured Achilles’ tendon last weekend. Carter was never going to become a difference-maker, but it was possible for him to develop into a complementary piece. Now his future is up in the air. With Oshane Ximines also now on IR, the Giants will be giving playing time to another guy who probably won’t be with the team next year, Markus Golden. Personally, I’m hoping we’ll see the young guys such as Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin (if activated) steal some snaps. Again, my focus is more on 2021 at this point than beating Washington. Kyler Fackrell will undoubtedly receive more snaps outside, though he is dealing with an ankle issue.

      Ryan Lewis is not the answer at corner, but he settled down the position last week. Madre Harper still lurks in the wings at cornerback too. More troubling, as Sy pointed out, is that Julian Love seems to have fallen out of favor (the Giants need to start hitting on these draft picks or they will never get better… so much for the three defensive backs drafted in 2019). In addition, Jabrill Peppers is still hampered by injury and not making much of an impact. Adrian Colbert hurt the team last week. The loss of Xavier McKinney really looms large (even if he returns, he’ll have a ton of rust on him). To cut to the chase, safety was supposed to be a strength but has become a weakness again.

      Like the Giants, Washington has struggled mightily on offense. They are dead last in yards per game and 30th in scoring. Washington is a bit of a mess at quarterback. Dwayne Haskins was benched. Kyle Allen, who was with Ron Rivera in Carolina, started last week but left the game with an injury. He’s expected to return to the line-up this week. Wideout Terry McLaurin is the only real threat Washington has and I would suggest the Giants keep James Bradberry on him. Other than that, Washington throws more to their backs (Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic). As Joe Judge pointed out this week, they are very good at the screen game.

      Washington can’t run the football (31st in the NFL… ironically, the Giants are 32nd). There is no excuse for the defensive front of NYG to not shut down the running game. When Washington is in obvious passing situations, I would put my more athletic linebackers on the field to deal with the passes to the running backs. This could be an important game for rookies Tae Crowder and Cam Brown.

      NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

      I called it. The Giants knew they would have to score points last week and ran a fake field goal for what should have been a touchdown. I am pretty darn sure we’ll see a fake punt soon. Graham Gano has been fantastic. What we need now too is a big return.

      FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

      Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham on defensive breakdowns at the end of the first half and the end of the game: “I have to get better. I have to call it better, I have to put the guys in a better spot. Is it keeping me up at night? Yeah, it keeps me up a night, I have to figure it out. It’s Week 5 going to Week 6, I have to figure it out.”

      THE FINAL WORD

      Two bad football teams with two bottom tier offenses that lack talent. This will likely be a low scoring game with the team making fewer turnovers and more plays on special teams wins the game. It will be one of those ugly games where even winning won’t feel particularly good.

      Oct 132020
       
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      Daniel Jones, New York Giants (October 11, 2020)

      Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

      Dallas Cowboys 37 – New York Giants 34

      QUICK RECAP

      Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was back in Dallas facing off against his former employer of 13 years, 9 of which were spent as the Head Coach. The Cowboys offense came into the game leading the NFL in points scored. The Giants offense came into the game ranked 30th in points scored. As bad the NYG season has looked to this point, they were still very much alive in the divisional race. Not one team in it had more than a win and all three rivals had significant roster issues.

      The Giants jumped out to an early 7-3 lead on an Evan Engram reverse that looked broken at the start. Remember, NYG tried a similar play two weeks ago against the Niners that resulted in a turnover. This time, Daniel Jones’ pitch was accurate, Engram evaded an Everson Griffen tackle, and dashed downhill into the end zone. This was the first touchdown in 21 offensive drives and it was the first time NYG had a lead since the first half against Pittsburgh on September 13. On the third play of the ensuing drive, Dak Prescott threw an interception to Kyler Fackrell. Fackrell came out of Utah State in 2016 known for his plus-athletic ability combined with a 6’5” / 245 pound frame. A player at that position doesn’t always get a chance to put on display his long speed plus agility with the ball in his hands but Fackrell took full advantage of the opportunity. He scampered his way to a 46-yard touchdown looking like a tight end who may have been playing his pro career on the wrong side of the ball. Not really, but it was an overly impressive play by Fackrell that put NYG up 14-3.

      The Giants defense forced a three-and-out and took the ball back downfield via a balanced offensive attack. The running game found a constant positive flow for the first time of the 2020 season as they attacked a porous DAL defensive front. Graham Gano nailed a 55-yard field goal through the upright and it was 17-3 with most of the second quarter left to play. DAL then put together a 14-play, 75-yard drive that ended in an Ezekiel Elliott 1-yard touchdown. The Giants were still up by 7 and their offense was finding a flow. This was yet another test for Jones and this young NYG team. The response? On the fourth play of the drive, rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas allowed a sack to Demarcus Lawrence that jarred the ball loose out of Jones’ hands. DAL cornerback Anthony Brown scooped it up and scored a touchdown to tie the game up at 17-17. Jones’ 22nd fumble in in his 17th game. His record-setting rate continues to lengthen.

      NYG responded with a march down the field on a drive that lasted 9 plays. Head Coach Joe Judge, who has a special teams background, had some tricks up his sleeve. As the NYG field goal unit marched onto the field, Engram stopped his retreat to the sideline by just a few yards. The DAL defense did not see him out there and holder Riley Dixon took notice. He rushed the snap, threw it up to Engram, and NYG had another touchdown on the board. Unfortunately, the flag came out as a result of an illegal shift penalty, as Cameron Fleming was not set in his stance. Had Dixon waited one more second to call for the snap, NYG would have went up by 7. Instead, Gano was forced into another 50-yard attempt in which he nailed through the uprights. DAL had just 51 seconds left but they only needed 35 of them. Two chunk pass plays from Prescott to rookie CeeDee Lamb and a trick play of their own resulted in the third DAL touchdown of the quarter. This one was a “Philly Special” as wide receiver Cedrick Wilson threw a perfect pass to Prescott for the 11-yard score. DAL was up 24-20 at halftime.

      NYG opened the second half with a quality drive, but the frustration only grew. After two successful third down conversions, Jones hit Darius Slayton on a 3rd-and-6 deep ball that resulted in a touchdown. However, a questionable offensive pass interference was called on Damion Ratley at the line of scrimmage. Instead of the touchdown, NYG was moved back to the DAL 41-yard line and their 3rd-and-16 attempt failed. They were forced to punt, but DAL left 12 men on the field which moved NYG up 5 yards, enough to put Gano on the field for yet another 50+ yard attempt. He nailed it making him the first NYG kicker ever to hit three 50+ yarders in the same game. NYG was down by 1.

      The DAL offense marched down the field again, but this drive came with a price. Prescott was tackled by Logan Ryan in a way that ended up causing a compound fracture to his right ankle. It was as gruesome as it sounded. Prescott was taken off on the cart in tears, not knowing if that would be the last time he would wear the DAL uniform. He was playing under the franchise tag and the debate surrounding whether or not he would be given a long term deal has been discussed for years now. Andy Dalton, the 9-year starter signed from Cincinnati came into the game to try and finish off the drive. DAL still scored a touchdown, this one a 12-yard run by Elliott. The home team went up 31-23.

      The two offenses traded three-and-outs as the third quarter came to an end. NYG’s opening play of the fourth quarter was a 39-yard gain on a pass from Jones to Slayton. However, their losing tendencies appeared on the next play as they were forced to use their second timeout. They were late out of the huddle in addition to an alignment miscommunication between Jones and Golden Tate. They ended up putting another 3 points on the board via another field goal by Gano, this one from 28 yards, to make the score 31-26.

      On the first play of the next DAL drive, rookie center Tyler Biadasz and the second-string quarterback Dalton mishandled the snap and it was recovered by Blake Martinez. NYG began their drive on the DAL 17-yard line and it took just 5 plays to get in the end zone via a Devonta Freeman 4-yard power run. Jones then found tackle Andrew Thomas in the end zone on a trick two-point conversion play. NYG now had a 34-31 lead against an offense that was missing three starting offensive linemen and their starting quarterback.

      DAL rode on the backs of Elliott and backup Tony Pollard with help from a 15-yard facemask penalty by Markus Golden and a badly missed tackle by rookie cornerback Darnay Holmes to get into field goal range. Greg Zuerlein hit a 40-yarder to tie the game up. Jones and the Giants offense had their shot to win this game.

      They gained 15 yards on 5 plays including a near-interception and were forced to punt and the Cowboys got the ball back with 52 seconds left. Those 52 seconds were all DAL needed, an offense playing with an offensive line that was mostly made up of backups. Consecutive completions to Michael Gallup that highlighted his top-tier ball skills and playmaking potential both warranted reviews. Both catches that combined for 57 yards were upheld, putting DAL in easy field goal range. Zuerlein barely put one through the uprights from 34 yards as time expired.

      NYG loses, 37-34.

      QUARTERBACK

      Daniel Jones: 20-33 / 222 yards / 0 TD-0 INT / 80.6 RAT

      Start number 17 for Jones. Loss number 15. Fumble number 22. I sound like a broken record with my talk about the turnovers, fumbles in particular, but this cannot go on at this rate. We are giving Jones this season to trek through the peaks and valleys, but we need to see progression, not regression. It is that simple. Right now, Jones is not progressing, and he is turning the ball over at a record rate. There isn’t much else to say about this game. He did make a couple of nice throws, but he continues to show too much hesitation especially when he steps up in the pocket.

      RUNNING BACK

      Devonta Freeman: 17 att-60 yards / 1 TD / 2 rec-27 yards

      -In Freeman’s third week with the team, in fact his third week on any NFL team without any preseason action, we saw a glimpse of some of his former pop in Atlanta. We knew it would take a few games for him to catch up to speed, and here we are. Freeman only averaged 3.5 yards per carry but I thought he ran really well. He showed two jump cuts in traffic that we hadn’t seen yet and that is a sign to me that his legs are under him and the confidence is back. I think it is possible we see a small trade market for him in the coming weeks if a contender loses their top back.

      -Wayne Gallman rushed for 24 yards on 5 carries, averaging a team high 4.8 yards per. He broke tackles on 4 of his carries and continues to show consistent ability as a complimentary back. I think his upside is tapped out but he can get the job done in this role and seems to always be close to breaking a long one.

      WIDE RECEIVER

      -Darius Slayton: 8 rec / 129 yards

      Slayton also had a 31-yard touchdown taken away by a questionable offensive pass interference call on Damion Ratley. It was a strong day for the Giants most talented receiver after a few poor games. His greatest trait, dating back to his days at Auburn, is found downfield when he tracks the deep ball. We need to see more deep shots to him. Slayton isn’t a guy who will strongly impact the game via slants and yards after catch. Send him downfield more often and see what happens.

      -Golden Tate was the only other wide receiver to catch a pass. He brought in 4 passes for 42 yards on 5 targets. The lack of receiver depth on this team is scary-bad in an era where dozens of quality receivers enter the league via the draft each year. The draft presents so much every year at this spot, yet NYG is starving for more talent there. I get the national scouting list every August for the upcoming draft database. Which position has the most talent? Wide receiver. The supply is more than the demand but NYG can’t find guys to make things happen when injuries arise.

      TIGHT END

      -Evan Engram was targeted 2 times and had 2 carries. It is hard to imagine what NYG has planned for him. I watch the Steelers rookie wide receiver (Chase Claypool) score 4 touchdowns and simply wonder “What if?” I bring that up because I brought up Engram’s name all over Claypool’s scouting report, as they had so many similarities in college when it came to their skillset and tools respectively. Claypool is a wide receiver who some were labeling a tight end during the pre-draft process. Engram is a tight end who some continue to label a wide receiver. We know Engram can’t routinely block in-line well enough, but any time he touches the ball, it’s hard not to imagine the possibilities he brings to the table. No matter where you stand with him, he can’t be targeted just twice in a high scoring game where you throw the ball 33 times.

      OFFENSIVE LINE

      -The rough stretch for rookie Andrew Thomas continues. He allowed 2 pressures and 2 sacks. He is now approaching the league lead in sacks allowed with incredibly difficult tests coming up against Washington and Philadelphia. It seems like Thomas has a tough test each week. You know what it is? Most teams have high quality pass rushers and if you want to succeed at tackle in this league, you have to be really, really good. Thomas is not that right now. He is overextending, he isn’t sustaining hand contact, and he losing the width of his base. It’s ugly.

      -Cameron Fleming was a disaster on the right side, allowing 3 pressures and a TFL. His clock is ticking as the starter.

      -Inside, the trio of Will Hernandez, Nick Gates, and Kevin Zeitler had their best game as a group. In the running game, they got more push than we’ve seen in any contest this year, albeit against a poor Dallas defensive front. Gates was flagged twice (one for a hold and once for a block in back) while Zeitler and Hernandez both allowed 1 pressure each. There seemed to be more lateral pulling of the guards which worked out well for the rushing attack. I expect to see more of that in coming games.

      EDGE

      -Lorenzo Carter suffered a season-ending Achilles’ injury on the initial drive. In what was perhaps a career-defining season, this was very unfortunate.

      -Markus Golden woke up for the first time in 2020. He had 3 tackles, a half-sack, and 2 pressures on a season-high 57 snaps. He will now be the feature edge guy with both Carter and Oshane Ximines out (Ximines may return from IR at some point). It is possible we start to see some Carter Coughlin on the edge and/or Cam Brown inside if they opt to move Fackrell to full-time starter outside.

      DEFENSIVE TACKLE

      -As stout as this defensive line can be at times, I was disappointed with their performance against a beat up DAL offensive line. Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams both lacked difference-making plays and came up short in key situations. Neither got any pressure on the passer either.

      -Dalvin Tomlinson was solid. He had 6 tackles, 2 TFL, and 1 sack. He really is a fine player who would be getting a lot more attention if this team was winning games. He lines up in multiple spots, has a lot of contact presence, and makes plays away from the ball often.

      LINEBACKER

      -Kyler Fackrell was the highlight of the defense in this one. He finished with 3 tackles, 1 TFL, and an interception that he returned for a touchdown. The athletic ability he showed on that play was big time and it made me think if he had some potential as a tight end back in the day. Obviously that isn’t a move you make now, but his speed and agility combined with that power and his frame just gave me that impression. Solid game for him that and he has the tool set to make a full time move to the spot vacated by Carter.

      -Blake Martinez has been lights out since signing with NYG. You can’t expect a good game every single week, thus this was his first negative grade. He finished with 7 tackles and did recover as fumble, but elsewhere he just gave up too much in the running game. He was also targeted in the middle of the field multiple times. DAL had a lot of success throwing at him.

      -Tae Crowder got the start and finished with 5 tackles, playing 74% of the snaps. With Carter out, I think we are going to see more of him as Fackrell will see more snaps at OLB. I expect to see some Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin as well. The only thing that could get in their way is the return of David Mayo, which is still up in the air.

      CORNERBACK

      -James Bradberry shut down Amari Cooper (2 rec / 23 yards) as well as anyone we’ve seen since Cooper was acquired via trade in 2018. Really good game by him when watching the All-22 angle. He was never fooled or off balance.

      -Darnay Holmes continues to play fast and physical. He had 3 tackles, 2 pass break ups, and a half-sack. As aggressive as he plays, he is still missing tackles that really hurts this defense. He needs to clean that up.

      -Ryan Lewis had an up and down game. He was beat by Michael Gallup late, which led to the DAL game-winning field goal, but he did an OK job in coverage. He simply got beat by a perfect throw and outstanding play on the ball by Gallup. Lewis was beat by Lamb a couple times but overall it was a solid game. He just seemed to get beat when it mattered most.

      SAFETY

      -Jabrill Peppers was back on the field after missing a game early with an ankle injury. His snaps were limited, playing just over a third of them. He ended with 5 tackles including 1 TFL. He was really active and explosive against the run and made some plays late to keep DAL from making gains outside.

      -Logan Ryan is a player you really appreciate if your team is winning. He does so many little things that other defensive backs do not. He led the team with 9 tackles and came up with a few really tough solo tackles on Elliott. He is smart, instinctive, and versatile.

      -Adrian Colbert started for Julian Love, but continued to give NYG lackluster play at that position, notably in coverage. He also added 2 personal foul penalties. Love appears to have fallen out of favor with this coaching staff rather quickly.

      SPECIAL TEAMS

      -K Graham Gano: 4/4 (Made 55, 50, 54, 28). Gano is now 13 for 14 on the year.

      -P Riley Dixon: 2 punts / 52.0 avg / 50.5 net

      3 STUDS

      -WR Darius Slayton, LB Kyler Fackrell, K Graham Gano

      3 DUDS

      -OT Andrew Thomas, OT Cameron Fleming, WR Damion Ratley

      3 THOUGHTS ON DALLAS

      1. It was really tough to see Dak Prescott to go down the way he did. Competitive advantage aside, you hate to see a guy like that in a year where he has had some documented off-field issues, go down the way he did. The question will be asked in the coming months: Is that the last time we see him in a Cowboys uniform? Initially my thought is he will be back on a one-year prove-it deal, but when you look at how big the QB market may be this upcoming offseason, someone may still offer him a multi-year deal.
      1. There may not be a team that has been bit by the injury bug harder than DAL. Three starting offensive linemen, a starting tight end, their best linebacker, a starting corner, a rotational LB, and both starting defensive tackles. Now they lose their starting quarterback? Ouch. Mike McCarthy will get a pass for whatever happens this season in his first year as their head coach. If they still end up winning some games, he will look like a genius.
      1. I’ve always been a fan of having a legit, quality backup quarterback behind the starter. As much as it hurts to lose Prescott, Dalton is going to keep this team on a similar level. Watch. He has 72 career wins (with CIN) including a 41-26 career record at home. Dalton never really regressed over his career. He simply just couldn’t seem to take the next step up to elevate players around him. However, he was never a guy who just couldn’t get it done. DAL will shift their offensive focus and overall plan a bit, but that side of the ball is still loaded with weapons.

      3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

      1. Let’s not give the Giants offense credit for putting up 34 points. 7 of them came from Kyler Fackrell’s interception and another touchdown scoring drive started at the DAL 17-yard line. This team still averaged 3.3 yards per carry (the worst rushing team in the NFL averages 3.5 per game). This team still averaged 6.7 yards per passing attempt (the 10th worst passing offense in the NFL averages 6.8 per game). This kind of production against a banged-up defense that had allowed the most points in the NFL is just awful.
      1. I will give the Giants coaching staff some credit for at least trying to get a little innovative, trying to create points from outside of the normal game plan. The flea flicker, the fake field goal attempt, the reverses to Engram, etc. It did not help them win but I do like the idea that these coaches will think outside the box. Remember, Joe Judge is 38 years old and has never been a head coach. This is a growing experience for him as well.
      1. The trade deadline is coming really fast and everyone knows how strongly I feel about the draft and doing it right. If there is a way to get extra picks (even if they are day three), this is the way to get them without selling your competitive integrity. There are three guys I would strongly consider trading who I also believe will have a market for their services. First is Engram. During the game, I again thought “if a real offensive mind got their hands on Engram he could be a monster.” (BUF?/ARI?/SF?) I feel strongly about that and if someone offers a 3rd- or 4th-round pick, I say pull the trigger. Second is Peppers. He is locked in for another year at a decent cap rate. If a defense can find a run-and-chase role for Peppers (BAL?/IND?/NE?), he can be an important role player. He isn’t someone you build a defense around or give too much to assignment wise, but he is a guy who brings energy and will make things happen on talent alone. You can hide his issues if you have a good defense around him. Lastly, I do think there is a market for Tomlinson. The question remains, however, if you want him here long term to build around. He won’t be a game-changer, but he is a really solid and reliable player. I bet someone offers a middle round pick for him. If NYG thinks they don’t want to add more money resources to the DL spot with Williams and Lawrence already here, I think a contender with DL issues could take him (KC?/LV?/DAL?).
      Oct 092020
       
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      Daniel Jones, New York Giants (September 8, 2019)

      Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

      Game Preview: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, October 11, 2020

      THE STORYLINE

      In terms of overall talent and emotional mindset, the Dallas Cowboys are better positioned to win this game. But this is a winnable game for the Giants. While New York is 0-4 on the season, the Cowboys are only 1-3. Both have new coaching staffs and Dallas may have actually regressed in the coaching department (I think the loss of Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli was huge).

      We have two very interesting match-ups on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Dallas is #1 in yards per game (510) and #3 in scoring (31.5). All of this despite some serious injury issues on Dallas’ offensive line. Defensively, the Giants are #5 in yards allowed (328) and #13 in scoring defense (24).

      On the flip side, offensively, New York is dead last in yards per game (278) and scoring (11.8). Defensively, Dallas is 30th in yards allowed (431) and dead last in scoring defense (36.5).

      In other words, something has to give on both sides of the ball for both teams. In all likelihood, the Giants offense will look better in this game while the defense looks worse. Whether or not that translates into a win remains to be seen. The Cowboys are huge favorites in this game.

      THE INJURY REPORT

      • LB Oshane Ximines (shoulder – out)
      • LB Kyler Fackrell (neck – questionable)
      • S Jabrill Peppers (ankle – questionable)
      • S Adrian Colbert (neck – questionable)

      NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE

        Sy’56 wrote at the end of his Giants-Rams game review that fans should focus more on player development this year than wins and losses. That’s a sad state of affairs, but from a mental health perspective for Giants fans, probably wise advice. My fear is that this team has gotten far too comfortable and used to losing. Anyone who has played competitive sports on a bad team knows what I mean. While the roster keeps churning each year, the core group that has been here for the last few years just simply doesn’t know how to, or expect to, win. The front office execs, the coaches, and the players all say the right things during the week, but the team loses every Sunday and everyone says, “We need to execute better.” Frustrated fans begin to look for quick and easy scapegoats. We used to laugh at teams like the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins who fell into these never-ending negative cycles. The Giants have officially become one of those teams.

        But this week I’m going to take Sy’56’s advice and provide my overall thoughts on the state of each position group and who I think the team can count on moving into 2021 and beyond.

        Quarterback: To state the obvious, Daniel Jones is not playing as well as hoped or expected. This has started the inevitable conversation that if the Giants are once again in the position to draft a “franchise” quarterback, do they do so? Right or wrong, I’m more optimistic about Jones because I think he has the mental and physical tools to succeed and I think the rest of the team is dragging him down right now. Others would argue he is not elevating the play of those around him. They could be right. Needless to say, the remaining 12 games is crucial in terms of understanding where we are at with respect to the quarterback position. What is frustrating is that Jones makes enough plays with his arm and feet to tease, but mistakes have marred his performance and contributed to losses. What I find equally frustrating is the lack of patience with quarterback development among today’s fans. I would like to remind everyone that the bulk of NYG fans were ready to run Eli Manning out of town as late as November 2007 (his fourth season). Nevertheless, this team is scoring less than 12 points per game. That’s beyond pathetic. And until that dramatically changes, Jones will be blamed for it. Guy to watch: Daniel Jones.

        Running Back: I still don’t think many fans understand the catastrophic impact the loss of Saquon Barkley is having on this offense. I’ve argued since he got hurt that his loss changes everything for the worse. He was the ONLY guy on this team who scared opponents both as a runner and receiver. Saquon was so much better than everyone else on the Giants that I would equate his loss with that of a pro basketball team losing their superstar scorer. He is being replaced by three players (Devonta Freeman, Wayne Gallman, Dion Lewis) whose contracts expire this offseason and I would not be surprised if all of them are not re-signed. That’s how barren the cabinet is at this position. With Barkley out of the picture, is there a worse group of running backs in the NFL? Guy to watch: Wayne Gallman (most likely to be re-signed even though Freeman will likely get more snaps).

        Wide Receivers: This position has turned into a disaster. Teams have either figured out Darius Slayton or he is going through a sophomore slump. The injury-prone Sterling Shepard is hurt once again and one must wonder if its not just best to move on. Golden Tate is nearing the end. Oddly, the Giants decided to keep only four receivers, two of whom now are waiver-wire pick-ups. There is a good chance that the ONLY player who will be back next year who is currently on the 53-man roster is Slayton. As we move into November and December, I would expect the coaching staff to consider promoting Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack, or Derrick Dillon to the active roster to receive a few looks. Again, is there a worse group of wide receivers in the NFL? Maybe one or two teams are in the conversation, but that’s it. Guy to watch: Darius Slayton.

        Tight Ends: Evan Engram is proving that he is another 1st-round disappointment and one wonders if he is long for the team. I would say trade him before the deadline, but would there even be a market for him? The other guys on this team are complementary pieces.  This is a very weak unit and again may be one of the worst in the NFL. Guy to watch: Kaden Smith.

        Offensive Line: Andrew Thomas is taking his lumps and is coming off of his worst performance. He needs to rebound this week. The Giants desperately need him to develop into a Pro Bowl-type tackle in a year or two. The Giants can get by with Will Hernandez, but they need more than that from him as well. As Sy’56 has pointed out, his problems have revolved around lateral agility. I don’t know how Nick Gates is going to pan out, but you can see why the coaches like him. To get into with Aaron Donald like he did last week was an eye-opener. Gates is still green as grass at the position so expect continued growing pains. The major head-scratcher is the continuing decline of 30-year old Kevin Zeitler. I think we’re all at a loss explaining that. If that continues, I would not be surprised to see Shane Lemieux start stealing some snaps like Matt Peart is doing now at right tackle. Speaking of Peart, it’s pretty clear that the coaching staff is grooming him to move in at right tackle soon. Peart is being provided with the luxury that Thomas wasn’t given, and that is to more slowly transition him into a starting spot. Personally, I’m still optimistic about this group. I expected and wrote about the growing pains we are all seeing. Playing a string of really good defenses hasn’t helped. I think the unit will continue to improve as the year progresses. Keep in mind however that with the limitations the Giants have at running back, tight end, and wide receiver, I’m not sure how much this will translate to improved productivity on the field. Guys to watch: Andrew Thomas, Will Hernandez, Nick Gates, Kevin Zeitler, Matt Peart.

        NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

        Defensive Line: I think the defensive line started off a bit more slowly than hoped against the run but has been improving. As Sy’56 has pointed out, if the Giants had better pass-rushing edge rushers, the unit would look even better. Dexter Lawrence is coming off a strong game and Leonard Williams has played well. Dalvin Tomlinson is another big body and Austin Johnson was a real difference maker against the Rams. Guys to watch: Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson (Giants have contract decisions to make on both).

        Linebackers: I told you guys that Blake Martinez was the victim of bad press. He’s arguably been the team MVP. I think many of us expect to see Tae Crowder start stealing snaps from Devante Downs. Outside, the new coaching staff obviously has favored Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines over Markus Golden. (Ximines is hurt so we’ll probably see more of Golden this week). While Carter has improved, no one is scaring the other team in the pass rush department and this is hurting the entire defense. I would not be shocked if we start seeing Cam Brown receive more snaps. Kyler Fackrell has a role on this defense as a situational player. Stating the obvious, on a team with many, many needs, pass-rushing edge rusher remains an offseason priority. Guys to watch: Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, Tae Crowder.

        Defensive Backs: If Blake Martinez hasn’t been the MVP, then it’s been the other priority free agent the team signed in the offseason, James Bradberry. Nevertheless, the Giants continue to be haunted by the unexpected disaster that was Deandre Baker and Sam Beal sitting out due to COVID. That has left the team scrambling at the other outside cornerback position where Corey Ballentine and Isaac Yiadom have struggled. The team appears to be holding auditions at the spot now with Ryan Lewis and Madre Harper next on call. Darnay Holmes is learning on the job at slot corner. Inside, the loss of Xavier McKinney was another unexpected disappointment. Jabrill Peppers is proving he is more athlete than player. Does he have a future on this team? Julian Love appears to be the classic ‘tweener who may not have a true home at either corner or safety. Logan Ryan provides veteran leadership. Will he want to re-sign here next year? Guys to watch: Darnay Holmes, Madre Harper, Julian Love.

        NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

        If the Giants continue to struggle this much on offense, do not be surprised to see some fake punts and/or field goals soon.

        FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

        Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett on playing young quarterbacks: “Quarterbacks play best when they’re in a really good environment. That’s younger quarterbacks and that’s older quarterbacks. What everyone’s trying to do in an organization is create a good environment for their quarterback and give them a good supporting cast. Typically, it’s a strong offensive line, it’s playmakers outside, it’s a good run game. I think those things help that quarterback transition more smoothly. If he’s in a situation where he’s carrying too much of a burden early on because the team is young and in their rebuilding stage, sometimes it’s a little bit harder for that guy to transition. I think that’s probably a common denominator for a lot of guys. Sometimes quarterbacks have to take their lumps because they’re really in the ground floor of the rebuilding process. The best ones I’ve been around have come out the other end of those experiences. Sometimes the transition happens smoother because the team is further along in their cycle of rebuilding, and that quarterback comes into that environment and is that much better.”

        THE FINAL WORD

        I don’t expect the Giants to win this game, but they can. What will be fascinating to watch is Cowboys weakness (defense) versus Giants weakness (offense) and Cowboys strength (offense) against Giants strength (defense). Throw in Jason Garrett’s knowledge of his former team and this one could get a bit crazy.

        One final note on Jones, I keep seeing comments such as “Jones was playing better last year than he is this year!” Again, I don’t think fans understand what the loss of Saquon Barkley did to this team. His loss means the surrounding talent around Jones is much, much worse than it was last year (even factoring in Barkley’s injury last year). This offense is now incapable of getting big chunks of yardage on a consistent basis. Everything comes in small chunks now because the surrounding skill position players can’t provide more than that. The closest similarity I can point to is the Giants offense in the mid-1990s when the team’s best offensive player was fullback Charles Way.

        Oct 062020
         
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        Leonard Williams and James Bradberry, New York Giants (October 4, 2020)

        Leonard Williams and James Bradberry – © USA TODAY Sports

        Los Angeles Rams 17 – New York Giants 9

        QUICK RECAP

        After being embarrassed by the Niners JV team at home in Week 3, the 0-3 Giants were back on the road, flying across country to play in the brand new, stunning stadium that hosts both the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers. Their opponent was the former coming in after a 2-1 start where they averaged 30 points per game. The Giants, on the other hand, came in with the last-ranked offense in the league and having not won an out-of-division road game since mid-November of 2018.

        This one began right where the abysmal performance last week ended. NYG began with the ball and ran three plays: a drop, a sack, and passing play that lost 7 yards. The Rams then nickel-and-dimed their way up the field via a 12-play drive with little-to-no resistance from the Giants defense. Tight end Gerald Everett scored on a 2-yard touchdown run and the Rams had the quick lead that they never let go of.

        The NYG offensive line got absolutely pummeled on the next drive, with Andrew Thomas and Kevin Zeitler being the main culprits. They punted following a 3rd-and-27 play that netted 8 yards. On the very first play of the Rams ensuing drive, Everett caught a short pass over the middle and had the ball jarred loose by the pursuing defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, which was recovered by cornerback James Bradberry. NYG began the drive on the LAR 34-yard line. They did get into the red zone but a 2-yard loss on a passing play followed by a Zeitler false start put them in 3rd-and-long on their final play of the drive for the third time in as many drives. Fortunately, because of the starting field position, NYG was still able to put 3 points on the board via a 35-yard field goal by Graham Gano.

        The Rams went three-and-out on their next drive, but then so did NYG. The Giants line continued to look overmatched, allowing two straight sacks. The Rams then went on another long drive, this one 15 plays, to put up another 3 points on the board. Their running game started to take over a bit but a theme we saw from the NYG defense for the rest of the afternoon arose on this drive. The Rams got to 1st-and-goal from the 4-yard line but the following three plays netted -10 yards. They settled for a 32-yard field goal to make it 10-3. The Giants then ended the half with a quality, clock-efficient drive that saw them convert 3-out-of-3 third-down conversions. Gano put a 37 yarder through the uprights and they were down just 4 points at halftime despite gaining just 67 net yards in the first half.

        As ugly as it has been this season and as much as I have a personal belief into not putting a lot of credit on moral victories, we saw something positive happen early in the second half. As NYG stopped the Rams and on their first offensive drive, a fight broke out between center Nick Gates and LAR star defensive tackle (and arguably the top defensive player in the NFL) Aaron Donald. It wasn’t a push and a shove. It wasn’t just trash talk. These two were going at it pretty aggressively. Gates, a third-year undrafted free agent who wouldn’t start on nearly any team in the league against Donald, a perennial All Pro and Defensive Player of the Year candidate. It struck some extra life into the Giants on both sides of the ball. No, there wasn’t a dramatic touchdown at the end of this drive (NYG made it to the LAR 43 and punted) but there was a different feel to both sides of the ball after that scuffle.

        Two drives later, NYG made their way into the red zone but a string of positive plays was cancelled out by an illegal formation and false start penalty, respectively. They had to settle for another field goal, this one from 27, to make it a one-point game. NYG had all of the momentum and this one appeared it would come down to the field position game and which offense could come up with the big play. NYG then forced another 3-and-out but came up short on their own next offensive drive even though Wayne Gallman’s longest run of his career (26 yards) got them to midfield.

        The Rams began their next drive with just under 10 minutes left, and on 3rd-and-3 from their own 45-yard line, the solid Giants defense had a break in coverage. Cooper Kupp made his way up the seam with nobody covering the deep middle. Goff found him and Kupp made his way into the end zone thanks to the miscommunication and a badly missed tackle by Bradberry. This was the big play I talked about someone needing. It was 17-9 with about 7 minutes left.

        The Giants had two possessions left. They made it into LAR territory both times, but two inaccurate Jones’ throws ended both drives. The first one was on a 4th-and-11 where he air-mailed one to Golden Tate. The second one was a forced 2nd-and-5 pass with one minute left that ended up in the arms of LAR corner Darious Williams. Jones had an easy first down run in front of him but he made the wrong decision and it cost them a shot at tying it up.

        NYG loses, 17-9.

        QUARTERBACK

        Daniel Jones: 23-36 / 190 yards / 0 TD-1 INT / 65.7 RAT

        Jones was once again the team leader in rushing with 45 yards (Gallman also added 45 yards). It was a brave effort for Jones, notably in the second half. He made some big plays with his legs and had NYG won this game, it would be discussed more. After a full career of watching an immobile quarterback in Eli Manning, this is a new way to gain yards for this team. Is it better? Or will it end up being better? Jones is still very late to see things and he wasn’t doing the offensive line any favors in the first half with how long he was holding onto the ball. 177 of Jones’ total yards came in the second half but we still aren’t seeing him make much happen with his arm in relation to downfield and/or big-time throws. He scrambled his way to his biggest plays which in a simple world means just as much as making plays through the air. But how sustainable is that? Quarterbacks need to be throwers first and second, and a runner third (unless your name is Lamar Jackson). Right now, Jones is overly reliant on scrambling and this team needs to hope that doesn’t become the crutch he constantly relies upon.

        RUNNING BACK

        -Devonta Freeman and Wayne Gallman appear to be the ideal 1-2 punch this team needs to move forward with. They combined for 78 yards on 17 carries. There isn’t anything spectacular about that but Gallman had the biggest run of the day (also the second longest gain for NYG) and Freeman earned some tough yards. Freeman ran with more confidence in this game and as I said last week, I expect him to hit full stride after another game. He started to show some extra bounce and pop in the second half. I am excited to see how far he can take it.

        -Dion Lewis was on the field for more snaps than Gallman but I think that has more to do with this coaching staff trusting him more in pass protection. He did have a nice 10-yard gain for a first down to convert a 3rd-and-10. In terms of upside and this team actually scoring touchdowns, however, Gallman gives them more hope.

        WIDE RECEIVER

        -Golden Tate caught four passes for only 20 yards. Jones missed him badly on two occasions. Darius Slayton led the team with 48 yards but caught just 3 balls. 33 of those yards came on one play, the vast majority of which were after the catch. He was a non-factor most of the afternoon and was clearly overmatched by the LAR outside corners, Troy Hill and Jalen Ramsey. Damion Ratley added 34 yards on 3 catches and C.J. Board dropped his lone target.

        -This offense is starving for more talent at wide receiver. Tate is an underneath threat only who will occasionally make a play with his feet after the catch, and Slayton has been badly exposed over the past 3 weeks.

        TIGHT END

        -Evan Engram opened the game with a drop. He ended up with 35 yards on 6 catches, leading the team with 10 targets. It seems to me that every week we see Engram’s elite physical tool flash just to be disappointed by the fact that he simply he isn’t a very good football player. Perhaps he can thrive in the right scheme and situation, but it has been a maddening to follow him throughout his rookie contract. Engram also allowed a half-sack and was the reason for another TFL, even though it wasn’t his man who made the actual tackle.

        -Kaden Smith added a catch for 10 yards, playing about a third of the snaps. He was flagged for a false start in the first half as well. Is Smith a better TE than Engram simply because you know what you’re getting and he will be much cheaper against the cap? He runs like has cement blocks attaches to his feet, however, and his blocking isn’t dominant or anything close to it. This really has evolved into a position of weakness.

        OFFENSIVE LINE

        -The first half may have been the worst offensive line showing we have seen in years, and that is really saying something. This group got pummeled and rookie Andrew Thomas was a main culprit. Thomas tied for the worst grade I’ve given to the position since I started charting the NYG offensive line. He allowed 2.5 sacks, 2 pressures, and allowed a TFL. The most alarming truth about it? It was different guys who kept beating him. Sometimes a pass rusher simply has a specific blocker’s number. Not this time. Thomas was getting beat by multiple guys as if they were taking turns against him, knowing that was the easy access point. He did play better in the second half but there is no denying the fact he just isn’t sustaining good contact.

        -Sticking with the negatives, Kevin Zeitler had a negative grade. He allowed a TFL, 1 pressure, and was flagged for a false start. Four weeks in and I will go on record now saying he is now a shell of what he used to be and the end may be closer than we thought for him. He just doesn’t get the knee bend and he just doesn’t shift laterally like he used to.

        -As for the positives, Nick Gates and Will Hernandez did a fine job containing Aaron Donald when they faced off against him. I’ve been vocal about Gates and his poor play that has led to the inside running game woes. I will say this, however: his level of play has improved weekly. At the end of the day, that is all you want to see from a young player who is playing a new position. Is he the answer long term? My guess is no. However, I do think he can be valuable as a versatile backup. Hernandez and right tackle Cam Fleming each allowed a pressure but were graded above average as run blockers. They also seemed to turn it up a notch after the Gates-Donald fight.

        EDGE

        -It was a really quiet day by the edge group, the biggest weakness on this team by far. Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, and Markus Golden were on the field for a combined 72 plays. They combined for 1 pressure, 1 tackle, and 2 assists. Ouch.

        DEFENSIVE TACKLE

        -The Giants held the Rams to a season low 240 total yards and 58 rushing yards. In fact, only three teams have held the Rams that low since the start of Sean McVay’s tenure as Head Coach in 2017. The 2019 Ravens (4th-ranked NFL defense), the 2019 Niners (2nd-ranked NFL defense), and the 2018 Bears (1st-ranked NFL defense). It really was an admirable effort and it was led by Dexter Lawrence. LAR averaged 2.5 yards per carry largely because of how well he played. He had 6 tackles, 2 TFL, and a QB hit. Re-watching the game, it was clear just how dominant he was.

        -Leonard Williams was active against the run, finishing with 5 tackles and he has Lawrence to thank for a few of them. Williams was neutralized as a pass rusher, however. He gave NYG nothing there in this one.

        -Anthony Johnson made a big impact on the game despite only playing 13 snaps (23%). He had a sack and a forced fumble on a good hustle play that was recovered by NYG and led to their first 3 points of the day. Dalvin Tomlinson had 2 tackles, 1 TFL, and a pass deflection.

        LINEBACKER

        -Best game of the year so far for Kyler Fackrell. Remember, this guy had 10 sacks just two years ago. He had 4 tackles, 2 TFL, and 1 sack. He really is an ideal fit for the BUCK linebacker position, a spot that can be used as an edge defender as well as an extra inside linebacker. Really hard player to find and he fits that role like a glove. He came up with a big game after coming up short last week against SF.

        -Blake Martinez continues to fly around and pile up the tackles. You know he is good when making 13 tackles, 1 for a loss, simply seems routine. Martinez made the right decision to get on a defense that has this kind of presence along the defensive line. He goes untouched often, knows when to pounce, and he is a true finisher. Watching him play just reinforces the notion that the team has been lacking at linebacker for far too long.

        -Tae Crowder saw the first action of his NFL career. After Devante Downs, who has struggled, missed a tackle on the first drive, Crowder came on the field and it was easy to see how much faster he is. He had 2 tackles and was mere inches away from an interception. He out-snapped Downs 33-3. I think it is safe to say we have a new, young linebacker to watch in the coming months.

        CORNERBACK

        -James Bradberry had a good game in coverage and he did recover a first quarter fumble that led to 3 points for NYG. However, he missed a tackle on the 4th quarter Cooper Kupp touchdown that made it an 8-point game. In addition, he did a poor job setting the edge against the run on a couple of occasions.

        -Corey Ballentine didn’t see one snap at cornerback. Ryan Lewis stepped in as the main man on the outside opposite of Bradberry and had a solid game. Like Isaac Yiadom, he gives a ton of cushion which LAR took advantage of on 3rd down a couple times. Darnay Holmes remained at nickel and had an uneventful day, but he did struggle to set the edge on 2 runs.

        SAFETY

        -Logan Ryan and Adrian Colbert played the majority of the snaps at safety. They did a nice job defending the deep ball, as Goff wanted to go downfield a few times but they locked things up right away.

        -Julian Love saw a decrease in snaps and he was the likely guilty culprit on the Kupp touchdown where it was clear there was a coverage breakdown. I can’t say for sure but looking at what everyone else was doing on the defense, I think it was Love who guessed wrong.

        SPECIAL TEAMS

        -K Graham Gano: 3/3 (Made 35, 37, 27)

        -P Riley Dixon: 5 punts / 43.2 avg / 40.0 net

        3 STUDS

        -DT Dexter Lawrence, LB Kyler Fackrell, LB Blake Martinez

        3 DUDS

        -OT Andrew Thomas, OG Kevin Zeitler, S Julian Love

        3 THOUGHTS ON LAR

        1. When you really break down the LAR offense, it is amazing how simple the concepts are. They really don’t do much to try and trick you and there are elements to it that are woefully predictable. It is refreshing to watch, really. It comes down to simple execution and the offensive line doing their job.
        1. If there is one weakness to this team that is going to prevent them from getting back to their 2018 form, it is that offensive line. It is an under-manned group full of average players but lacking a guy who can consistently win one on one. Even Andrew Whitworth, a likely Hall of Famer, has lost some of his juice. They’ve put a lot of mid-round draft resources into the group and they are “good enough” to get the job done and they have quality depth. However, I think they need one more stud there and it will be tough to acquire because of how much money they have tied up elsewhere.
        1. LAR has gone against the grain a bit in terms of how they are building their roster. Jared Goff has the 3rd-highest QB cap number, Aaron Donald has highest DT cap number, Jalen Ramsey has the highest CB cap number. It is great to be able to hold onto all of them but that is going to put a ton of pressure on their drafting in the coming years. That will make or break the success of this team in the next 5 years.

        3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

        1. We are 16 games into Daniel Jones career. You can’t call it “one season” because he has had 2 offseason programs with the team. If the Giants keep losing and he keeps turning the ball over, the ongoing discussion will be whether or not you give up on a quarterback if Trevor Lawrence is there for the taking. I think it is too soon to go down that path but let’s take a look at how he and Eli Manning stack up after 16 games. It may shed some light on the need for understanding patience and realizing the turmoil of this team over the past 3-4 seasons may be unfairly dampening your view on Jones himself. Remember, just wait until the end of the year to even think about what NYG will do at the position.
          • Jones: 375- 608 (61.7%) / 3,916 yds (6.4 y/a) / 26 TD – 17 INT / 21 fumbles / 82.9 RAT
          • Manning: 251-503 (50%) / 3,145 yds (6.2 y/a) / 21 TD – 18 INT / 3 fumbles / 68.7 RAT
        1. In this weeks version of, “We still have a chance…” I steer the bus down the divisional road. This is where the season really starts for NYG. I don’t think it is any secret that 7-8 wins for any team in this division will be good enough to create meaningful football in November and December. The division games are always more important but when you know nobody is going to run away with it, they are even more so. DAL has 1 win. WAS has 1 win. PHI has 1 win. Five of NYG’s next six games are against the NFC East. This is THE stretch of the season.
        1. Every year I wait four weeks before I start to put significant labels on teams. I always feel the NFL media and fans are way too knee-jerk with their reactions. Humans tend to lack confidence in expressing their own opinions, therefore causing people to exaggerate in the hopes that others will listen to them. Through four weeks, I think you can really gain a pulse on the teams and put together a credible forecast. My feeling for NYG is a young team that will give different players and different groupings a shot each week with the idea that a few will show they belong here in the coming years. Are they trying to win? Sure. However, I think Judge cares much more about this team’s long-term plans. He wants to know who can help this team in 2021. I say this because, I don’t think fans should be stressing about wins and losses as much as they have during the final years of Manning’s career. Yes, it is hard to watch at times and the “you never know” mantra lives on, but I would challenge some of you to watch the game through the different light. Look for things that will help next year (example from this game being DT Lawrence / LB Crowder / LB Martinez).
        Oct 022020
         
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        John Mara, New York Giants (September 8, 2019)

        John Mara – © USA TODAY Sports

        Game Preview: New York Giants at Los Angeles Rams, October 4, 2020

        THE STORYLINE

        John Mara is running out of scapegoats. Contrary to those who have insisted that “blind loyalty” has gotten in the way of the Giants improving the product on the field, he has actually been pretty quick to pull the trigger in recent years. Since 2016, the Giants have fired Tom Coughlin, Jerry Reese, Marc Ross, Ben McAdoo, Pat Shurmur, and a host of coordinators, assistant coaches, and scouts. It is expected that Dave Gettleman will be “retired” by season’s end. If anything, the New York Giants have now become the NFL’s model of instability.

        Being educated does not make someone smart. I had an aunt and uncle who worked in the university system and they were among the last people you would want to make real-world decisions. John Mara holds degrees from Boston College and Fordham University. He was raised by a father who lived, breathed, and died Giants football and I have no doubt he does the same. But there is mounting evidence that John simply does not know how to run a successful NFL franchise. Consider the following:

        • When Mara decided to make a change after the 2015 NFL season, he came to the conclusion that Tom Coughlin was the sole problem. He not only retained Jerry Reese and Marc Ross, the men largely responsible for the rapidly deteriorating roster, but he too quickly promoted Ben McAdoo from offensive coordinator to head coach and retained much of Tom Coughlin’s coaching staff. There are some who say the Eagles actually goaded Mara into hiring McAdoo quickly because he feared they would poach him. Fast forward two years and it was clear that Mara had made the wrong decisions on Reese, Ross, and McAdoo. Two years wasted.
        • Mara did not even wait until the end of the 2017 before firing McAdoo and Reese. Fine. But his first inclination was to hire former team general manager Ernie Accorsi to serve as his primary consultant in the team’s general manager search. It was Accorsi who strongly recommended that Mara promote Reese to the position in 2007, beating out Dave Gettleman, who eventually left for the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers fired Gettleman in July 2017. It was no surprise to anyone that before 2017 ended, Gettleman was already hired by Mara to be the team’s next general manager. There was no real “search” for a general manager. It was probably the easiest money Accorsi ever made. In effect, Mara had hired Accorsi’s 2007 runner-up ten years later. It was also somewhat unusual that the team was picking a 66-year old man to oversee what looked to be a long-term rebuilding project. Gettleman fired Ross the very next day.
        • After interviewing a handful of extremely unimpressive coaching candidates, Mara and Gettleman decided to hire Pat Shurmur away from the Minnesota Vikings. Fast forward two years and it was clear they had made the wrong decision. Shurmur was fired at the end of December 2017. Two more years wasted.
        • All during this time period from 2016 to 2019, the Giants kept insisting that the team needed more “tweaking” than rebuilding. That in itself was alarming to many on the outside who thought otherwise.

        As troubling as the developments above are, what bothered me the most is what came next. While John Mara decided that the team needed to hire its third new head coach in five years, he also felt that the now 68-year old Gettleman should be intimately involved in that decision. It made no sense. And I said so at the time. An old, soon-to-be retired general manager should not be hiring the man who his successor will be forced to work with. Especially when you consider the fact that Gettleman’s efforts to rebuild the team to that point, including the hiring of Shurmur, had been a failure.

        Joe Judge may or may not be a good hire. The jury is still out. He talks a good game, but we haven’t seen any early improvement. The bigger problem right now is that when Gettleman is let go in a few months, the new general manager will be saddled with a head coach he didn’t pick. UNLESS, John Mara has already decided that Assistant General Manager Kevin Abrams is the man to replace Gettleman. That is troubling in itself as Abrams must share in the responsibility in the demise of this once-proud franchise since he’s been with the team for the last two decades. In other words, Mara has painted himself into a corner. He either has to promote Abrams or hire a new general manager who did not have role in hiring the head coach. And this could have all been avoided had Mara simply let Gettleman gracefully “retire” a year ago instead of not stupidly postponing it one year.

        Let’s be blunt. Mara has made one blunder after another. These have not been little mistakes either. Keeping Reese and Ross two extra years was a mistake. Hiring McAdoo was a mistake. Hiring Accorsi as a “consultant” was a mistake. Hiring 66-year old, once second-choice Gettleman as the team’s new GM was a mistake. Hiring Shurmur was a mistake. Not “retiring” Gettleman after 2019 was a mistake. Now he has also painted himself into a corner. Tell me what the man has done right in the last decade? I’ll wait.

        THE INJURY REPORT

        • S Jabrill Peppers (ankle – out)
        • S Julian Love (knee/ankle – questionable)
        • S Adrian Colbert (quad – probable)

        THE FINAL WORD

        Barring something exceptionally bizarre, the Giants are going to fall to 0-4 on Sunday. They are double-digit underdogs to the Rams. Then we will see if they have any fight in them as they face three extremely unimpressive NFC East teams in a row.

        A final note. In reading The Corner Forum, I still see that many fans simply don’t understand how bad the team’s personnel, especially on offense, is right now. Saquon Barkley was the only guy who scared other teams. Overnight, the Giants running attack went from feared (despite the state of the OL) to a joke. He was also the most dangerous receiving weapon the team had. His loss was catastrophic. Losing Sterling Shepard was also a huge blow to a now very unimpressive receiving corps. Evan Engram is just a tease. As I said last week, Daniel Jones is in a terrible position. He has very little surrounding talent and a fan base looking for scapegoats. Joe Judge and his coaching staff are also in a terrible position. They’ll be the next targets of fan ire.

        Sep 292020
         
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        Leonard Williams, New York Giants (September 27, 2020)

        Leonard Williams – © USA TODAY Sports

        San Francisco 49ers 36 – New York Giants 9

        QUICK RECAP

        After a dominant win at MetLife Stadium over the New York Jets in Week 2, the San Francisco 49ers made the East Coast their home as they prepped for their Week 3 contest against NYG at the same place, same time, a week later. The 0-2 Giants would normally have little-to-no shot against the defending NFC Champions but thanks to a Niners’ injury report that looked like a starting roster, there was some hope they could get a number in the win column by sneaking their way to a victory.

        Nick Mullens, a former undrafted free agent with a career record of 3-5 (0-3 on the road), was under center as starting quarterback as Jimmy Garoppolo was out with an ankle injury. Mullens made his second career start at home against NYG in 2018, a game he and the Niners lost 27-23.

        He led the 1-1 Niners to an opening drive that put up 3 points on the board via a 52-yard field goal by the ageless Robbie Gould. On the ensuing drive, Daniel Jones was charged with a lost fumble on the Giants opening drive for the second time in as many weeks. This one was on a failed “trick” play where he simply misplaced his pitch to Evan Engram who was coming across the line for a reverse. SF began the drive on the NYG 42-yard line and traveled 28 yards on 12 plays, a theme of the day I will discuss later, and put 3 more points on the board via a 32-yard field goal on a play where NYG safety Jabrill Peppers was injured (he did not return).

        Down 6-0, Jones and the offense came back on the field and the first quarter was over after two plays. There were 28 snaps in the first quarter, just 8 of them belonged to NYG. Jones, the NYG leading rusher by a landslide on the day, gained 19 yards, putting them into SF territory for the first time. The offense stalled there after newest Giant Devonta Freeman got his first touches in NYG blue, but Graham Gano nailed a 52-yard field goal to make it a 3-point game. Gould missed a 55-yard attempt on the next drive, giving NYG good field position in which they took advantage of. Gano nailed another long field goal attempt, this one from 42 yards, to tie it up at 6.

        The Giants defense was needed here. They needed to make a play, sack the quarterback, or both. Leonard Williams came up with the sack to force a 3rd-and-22 from the SF 44-yard line. The Giants were about to get the ball back with the score tied, as Mullens found tight end Jordan reed for a 7 yard dump off against the NYG prevent defense. However, arguably the most painful mistake of the game gave SF a fresh set of downs rather than a punt. Rookie Darnay Holmes, whom certainly had a game to forget, was flagged for an illegal contact. The Niners got to start over at midfield. Five plays later, Jerick McKinnon was trotting into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown. Instead of NYG having the ball tied at 6, they were down 13-6. Then, the bleeding just got worse.

        On the second play of the next drive, Jones threw it behind Evan Engram (another theme of the day) and right into the arms of Niners linebacker Fred Warner. This turned into another 3 points for SF via a 26-yard field goal by Gould. This ended the first half, 16-6 San Francisco.

        The first possession of the second half when you’re losing is often vital. NYG has shown at least some ability to adjust during halftime and this one started no different. Jones gained 23 yards and 7 yards on two running plays, they converted a 4th-and-2 from midfield, and put themselves into the red zone for the first time via yet another big Jones run, this one for 17 yards. However, that one was nullified by a Darius Slayton hold. NYG shot themselves in the foot, just as a bad team always seems to do. They settled for a 47-yard field goal by Gano which, at least, made it a one score game.

        The Niners, also a team that makes adjustments well at halftime, came out with their own tone-setting possession and one-upped NYG. They scored a touchdown on a 19-yard reverse by rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk. It was 23-9 and SF had completely owned the time of possession battle, they had all of the momentum, and NYG was staring 0-3 right in the face. They were faced with a 4th-and-1 from their own 30-yard line. They opted to go for it on a QB sneak that looked bleak to say the least, as SF jammed four defensive linemen as close to each other as possible as if they knew what was coming. The attempt came up just inches short, giving SF the ball just 30 yards away from the end zone. It took just four plays for SF to turn that field position into a touchdown on a 19-yard screen pass to the SF fourth string running back, Jeff Wilson. The SF lead grew to 20 as the game was now entering the 4th quarter.

        Following three straight incomplete passes by Jones, SF forced another punt before putting together another marathon drive, this one 15 plays long, that ended with Wilson crossing the goal line again on a 2-yard run. 36-9 with under 4 minutes to play.

        The final NYG drive of the day ended in a Darius Slayton fumble, the third NYG turnover of the day. Mullens then went onto take three knees to solidify their JV win over the opposing varsity.

        Giants lose 36-9

        QUARTERBACK

        Daniel Jones: 17-32 / 179 yards / 0 TD – 1 INT

        Jones’ brightest impact on the day came on the ground. He gained 49 yards on just 5 carries, the most on the team. Through 3 weeks, Jones has 92 yards on the ground. Not only is he the leading rusher on NYG but he has 14 more yards than EVERY other ball carrier on the team COMBINED. Abysmal. In the air, Jones had a pretty poor day throwing the ball. He was behind his target four times and the most glaring weakness I noted in my scouting report in 2019 is showing up too often. He is late to see things and that half-second hesitation in combination with slightly inaccurate throws is leading to problems. Add in the fact he added two more turnovers to his resume, we are looking at a near-bottom level to his career at this point. It is still early and I look forward to seeing how he bounces back, but he needs to better. There isn’t enough help around him, we all know that. But “keep it simple, stupid”…he needs to be better.

        RUNNING BACK

        This was a really ugly day for the Giants running back committee. Wayne Gallman had 7 yards on 4 carries and 7 yards on 2 catches. Dion Lewis had 1 catch for 10 yards and a carry that netted nothing. The newly-signed Devonta Freeman tied for the team lead 5 carries and ended up with 10 yards. As I said last week, I wouldn’t expect much out of him for the first 2-3 weeks but I do think NYG is going to get something out of him. He showed some juice on his 3rd-and-1 running attempt and he is a guy who will play with a lot to prove. Make no mistake, he will be the NYG feature back within a month and in a year where it looks like it will be hard to watch, I look forward to that.

        WIDE RECEIVER

        -Golden Tate: 5 rec / 36 yards

        Tate was one of two players who was targeted 7 times. 18 of his 36 yards came on his first catch, meaning his next 4 catches averaged under 5 yards per. He really needs to be in a more efficient offensive scheme where the timing is better. He can initially get open but defensive backs close the gap on him in a hurry. Combine that with Jones just being a little late to see things, Tate really is close to useless unless this scheme and Jones improve. I wonder if there will be a trade market for him.

        -Darius Slayton: 3 rec / 53 yards.

        Slayton lost a fumble on the Giants final play. It didn’t impact the game at all but it still goes down in the books as a turnover. I’ll be honest, after a strong Week 1 against Pittsburgh, Slayton hasn’t impressed over the past 2 games. He is still struggling off the line and his playing strength is an issue. He will be the team’s number one guy, but I’ m not sure he is a true number one guy. Add that to the team-needs list.

        -Damion Ratley and C.J. Board saw more snaps this week but each saw just 2 targets. Ratley brought in the biggest gain of the day of 29 yards, albeit on the final drive where few-to-nobody cared.

        TIGHT END

        -Evan Engram: 3 rec / 22 yards

        Engram came up with two key first down conversions, one of which came on 4th down. He also dropped a pass. Otherwise, a fairly quiet day for him. They haven’t been sending him up the seam much, something I think negates what his true talent is, that is, straight-line burst and speed. I want to see him going downfield more often.

        -Kaden Smith had 13 yards on his lone catch. He was on the field for a third of the snaps as NYG continues to be one of the league leaders in multiple-tight end personnel usages. I do think it would be a beneficial idea if these tight ends were better at sustaining blocks in the running game. We know Engram isn’t going to be a factor there, but Smith’s struggles this season, and on Sunday in particular, on the edge have been a key weakness in the team’s running game. Smith allowed a TFL in this one.

        OFFENSIVE LINE

        -Rookie Andrew Thomas came away with the worst grade of the group. He has weakened as the quality of his opponents have lessened, which is odd. Life as a rookie in the NFL, I suppose as teams get more and more tape to analyze and pick apart. He allowed 3 pressures, 1 sack, and 1 TFL in addition to being flagged for a false start. I tried to really pinpoint where his losses were coming from and my best guess revolves around the coordination, or lack thereof, between his feet and hands. They were not working in unison with one another and it led to some ugly beats. He took a direct helmet hit to his shin late and came off the field, but I don’t think that turns into anything serious. He will be fine. Fellow rookie Matt Peart got his feet wet with a couple uneventful snaps.

        -Right Tackle Cameron Fleming allowed 2 pressures, 1 sack, and was beat badly on a running play that led to a TFL. Fleming graded poorly for the third week in a row but as I said prior to the year, expectations for him couldn’t be high. He is a career swing guy and won’t ever be more than that. I am sticking to my belief that Peart will be starting over there by midseason.

        -Inside, once again, was a less than admirable performance. Will Hernandez allowed 3 pressures, way too many for a guard. Two of them were created by stunts/twists where he just can’t seem to move well enough laterally to catch up. This has been an issue for him since Week 1 of 2018. Nick Gates and Kevin Zeitler stayed off of the stat sheet but neither even reached an average grade. Gates gave up too much ground and was found touching nobody on far too many plays. Zeitler, for the third week, looks overly slow and stiff. He can’t get across guys and that is a major reason why this running game just can’t seem to get going. The backside pursuit is always there because Zeitler can’t cut anyone off. I’m alarmed by this.

        EDGE

        -Lorenzo Carter appears to be one of the very few bright spots on the team. By no means is he filling up the stat sheet but for three straight games he is making an impact. He had a pass break up, a TFL, and a pressure to go along with his 2 tackles. There is still a ways to go here, but one positive gain I’ve seen with him is what I call contact presence. He is making his presence felt when he comes in contact with ball carriers and blockers alike.

        -Oshane Ximines seems to be ahead of Markus Golden on the depth chart for good. He finished with 5 tackles but also missed 1. He was uneventful as a pass rusher but there was a play where he, literally, sent Niners tackle Mike McGlinchey airborne and onto the ground. That was a really nice display of power by him. Golden looks worse than we have seen him throughout his NYG tenure. He lacks juice, doesn’t have secondary moves, and gets swallowed by blockers in the running game.

        DEFENSIVE TACKLE

        -Leonard Williams put in a really solid effort from start to finish.  Say what you want about the trade (something that can’t be held against Williams), he is constantly on of the highest-effort players on the defense. In addition, he ended with 5 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL, and 1 pressure. When this kid gets single-teamed, he almost always wins.  This defense needs to find a way to get him on an island against blockers more often.

        -Dalvin Tomlinson finished with a positive grade as well. He had 5 tackles, 2 TFL, and 2 pressures. His north/south game has looked outstanding. He gets out of his stance in a hurry with powerful movement and punch. He still looks too stiff when adjusting and reacting laterally but you can’t ask for too much here. Really solid player that does a ton of dirty work but now he is consistently stepping up to make impact plays.

        -Dexter Lawrence had a rough game. When SF began to run the ball well, Lawrence was often the culprit. He usually holds his ground well but he got shifted side to side too often, opening up running lanes.

        LINEBACKER

        -If there is one MVP to the season so far, it is unequivocally Blake Martinez. He finished with 9 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL, and 1 pressure. He fits the defensive front seven like a glove. A guy who reads the initial action so well, scrapes over the top, and knows when to fill. His best trait we’ve seen on display, besides intelligence, is how good of a finisher he is. When he gets there, the play is over.

        -Kyler Fackrell and Devante Downs may not play the same exact position or role, but no matter where you want to label them, both struggled in this one. Downs was torched in coverage several times. He just has no feel in that department. Fackrell added 4 tackles and physical play but also missed 2. He had zero success as a pass rusher.

        CORNERBACK

        -James Bradberry, the other free agent signing who has paid early dividends to this Giants team, finished with 3 tackles and 3 pass break ups. His length and timing have been superb. He looks like a keeper. Logan Ryan had an up-and-down game with 2 pass break ups, a QB hit, and 7 tackles. He is a physical guy. However, he missed 2 tackles and got caught in no-man’s land in coverage on more than one occasion.

        -The rest of the cornerback group was maddening to watch. Darnay Holmes had an awful day. He was targeted multiple times on 3rd down and SF was a near-100% success rate when throwing at him. He doesn’t have the speed to react physically and I don’t see him making any quality reads.

        -Isaac Yiadom really hurt this defense in the second half. After a nice pass break up in the end zone early, he was allowing so much separation underneath and SF just nickel-and-dimed their way up the field because of it. They didn’t attempt one deep ball the entire game, yet Yiadom was playing like he was scared to get beat deep. He had a 3rd-and-2 assignment where he allowed 9 yards between him and the line of scrimmage post-snap with no underneath help. The result? Easy first down. He did this twice. Unacceptable from a veteran.

        SAFETY

        -While Julian Love did lead the team with 11 tackles, I thought he played poorly. Safeties need to take the right angles when pursuing to the outside. He didn’t. One of them resulted in a McKinnon touchdown. He lacks presence as a tackler and he doesn’t seem to get to where he needs to be in coverage. Time for him to grow up. If he is going to play the run like that, he needs to make up for it by making plays in coverage.

        -Jabrill Peppers left the game early with an ankle injury.

        SPECIAL TEAMS

        -K Graham Gano: 3/3 (Made 52, 42, 47)

        -P Riley Dixon: 1 punt / 54.0 avg / 54.0 net

        3 STUDS

        -LB Blake Martinez, DT Leonard Williams, K Graham Gano

        3 DUDS

        -OT Andrew Thomas, LB Devante Downs, CB Darnay Holmes

        3 THOUGHTS ON SF

        1. I can’t give enough credit to this organization as a whole, notable their Head Coach and General Manager. There is something to those two guys (Shanahan and Lynch) starting their tenure with the team at the same time. Success can be, and has been, had in different ways when it comes to the General Manager/Head Coach relationship, but I think the ideal way to set this up is to have them start the new vision at the same moment. These guys are on the same line of the same page every week of every year. Respect.
        1. When you have such a deep roster filled with elite level talents (Kittle/Bosa/Warner/Williams to name a few) and they are backed up by quality players you draft in all rounds, it opens the door for risk taking on oft-injured players. Some teams do it and hope to get lucky that these guys come in and revert to their former every-down ways. Not elite personnel decision makers. The Niners took injury related risks on TE Jordan Reed, CB Jason Verrett, RB Jerick McKinnon, and OT Trent Williams. If they pan out, their team has an overly-stacked feel to it. If they don’t pan out, their fall back plans are just fine.
        1. Can SF be one of the rare teams that has playoff success following a Super Bowl loss? More often than not, a team that loses the Super Bowl regresses a lot. This team lost a few big parts from their NFC Championship team, but I think these guys are heading toward 11-12 wins at least. Their personnel is good and deep and their coaching is, literally, top shelf.

        3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

        1. I thought about this for a while and confirmed it in my own mind. In my opinion, this is the worst loss I’ve seen NYG have in over a decade. Now, I know this NYG team has low expectations but they were up against a team that was missing or lost their #1 QB, #1 and #2 RB, #1 and #2 TE, #1 WR, #1 OC, # 1 and #3 EDGE, #1 DT, #2 LB, and #1, #2 CB, and #3 CB. To put that into perspective, lets act like the Giants were playing without Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Dion Lewis, Evan Engram, Kaden Smith, Sterling Shepard, Nick Gates, Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, Leonard Williams, Devante Downs (maybe not a bad thing), James Bradberry, Logan Ryan, and Corey Ballentine. Imagine having none of those guys. Then going across the country and beating a team 36-9. SF didn’t punt the ball once. Last time they did that, Steve Young was their QB and Jerry Rice was their top wideout. They had drives of 10, 12, 12, and 15. They were successful on 67% of their 3rd downs. The drives they didn’t reach 10+ plays were simply because they scored or they ran out of time. It doesn’t get much worse than that in my book.
        1. If the Giants continue on this path (heading toward one of the league’s worst records) and Daniel Jones remains a turnover machine, you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be banging the table for one of the likely elite QB prospects coming out. In today’s NFL, having a true stud back there is near-vital to sustained success. While one could make the argument that NYG isn’t ready for a “start-over” at that position, I lean the other way. There are pieces in place (OT, RB, LB, CB) and they will have plenty of money to spend. The draft is a long ways off but it hard to neglect the mere thought.
        1. Now, back to some reassuring talk. We knew this season was likely a long shot for NYG. A first time head coach. A young roster that we knew had several holes. A quarterback who had yet to start 16 games. We want this season to show eventual signs of progress by the time January rolls around. We want to see some young players step up who they can use to build around for the future. Look at the Dolphins a year ago, who started a new tenure with a young, former Patriots assistant as well. They began 0-3 with a deficit of 133-16 (NYG is currently at 79-38) . It didn’t get much better until the second half of the season. By no means are they a contender yet but they are building pieces and finding talent to use down the road. They went on a spending spree this past offseason and should have their shiny new QB ready to rock next season around a solid roster. My comparison is this: NYG fans are going to have to accept poor football this year in all likelihood. Maybe the NFC East being down can keep things interesting, but the point remains, they are 1-2 years away unless they are miraculously lucky. That is simply the truth and the way it is. Everybody is sick of hearing “be patient”…but when Judge was brought in, that was the number one thought that came to mind. We are in the process. Look for the small positives that this team can feed off of in the coming years.
        Sep 252020
         
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        Game Preview: San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants, September 27, 2020

        THE STORYLINE

        Besides being mismanaged for the past decade, I think we’re all coming to the conclusion that the New York Giants are jinxed. Perhaps its payment for the two miracle Super Bowl runs in 2007 and 2011, but if I’m John Mara, I’m hiring some sort of exorcist or witch doctor at this point to get good karma back on my side.

        If Dave Gettleman’s rebuilding plan was to work, two things had to happen:

        1. Saquon Barkley being the best player in the 2018 NFL Draft and not suffering a potential career-altering injury.
        2. Daniel Jones being a franchise quarterback and also not suffering a potential career-altering injury.

        I’ve seen many Giants fans try to minimize the ACL tear/partial meniscus tear to Barkley’s right knee, but there is no positive way to spin this. The injury is a disaster. There is a reasonable chance that Barkley, whose game is built on agility and speed, will never quite be the same player again. Yes, medical procedures have come a long way, but for every example a fan can provide of a success story, there is an example of a player never who regains his old form. At best, Barkley’s shelf life just took a big hit and the Giants will have to strongly consider whether it is worth the risk to re-sign him to a mega-contract when his rookie deal expires. Many of us felt Barkley was the right pick in 2018, provided he did not suffer a serious injury early in his pro career. Well, he just did. If Barkley is not on this roster in 2023, 2024, 2025 and an All-Pro, then they blew the #2 pick in the draft.

        Bill Parcells famously said you are what your record says you are. If you accept that metric, in the last 50 regular-season games, there is no worse team in the NFL than the New York Giants. And now the Giants have just lost their best player. They also just placed another one of their better players, Sterling Shepard, on Injured Reserve. Bad teams usually can’t take hits like that and get better. Unless the Giants have some tricks up their sleeves, we’re looking at yet another season being over by October.

        THE INJURY REPORT

        • LB Carter Coughlin (hamstring – probable)
        • CB Brandon Williams (groin – questionable)
        • S Adrian Colbert (quad – doubtful)

        NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE

        It’s usually unwise to use team stats when teams have only played a couple of games. This is especially true in the case of the Giants given that they have faced two of the toughest defenses in the NFL. Nevertheless, even the most casual fan recognizes that the Giants simply are not generating enough yardage and points. The Giants currently rank 29th in yards and 32nd (dead last) in points. The Giants have scored three touchdowns in two games, and one of those came in garbage time. Now the Giants are without Barkley and Shepard. Yikes.

        The loss of these two is significant. Overnight, the Giants running back situation turned from a team strength into perhaps one of the worst units in the NFL. Devonta Freeman may end up being a very good signing, but he is way behind and not in game shape. Because of the latter, don’t be surprised if he gets hurt. Dion Lewis is more of a 3rd-down back the past two coaching staffs have thought enough of Wayne Gallman to not even activate him on game day.

        Many fans argued that the team’s wide receiver corps wasn’t good enough before the season started. Those who argued the opposite (including me) said that Darius Slayton, Golden Tate, and Sterling Shepard were good enough PROVIDED they stayed healthy. Tate has already missed one game and Shepard will be out at least three. Now the Giants will have to rely on waiver-wire pick-ups such as C.J. Board, Damion Ratley, and practice squad players. Is this now the worst group in the NFL?

        Everyone keeps telling us we haven’t seen the real Evan Engram. And that Engram will make up for any deficiencies at wide receiver. Engram is in his 4th season. He keeps disappearing for long stretches. It’s now or never, but I think most of us are not holding our breath. Personally, I’d like to see more of Kaden Smith.

        I do think the Giants have the horses up front on the offensive line to EVENTUALLY become a good unit, PROVIDED Nick Gates develops at center. I think most of us are thus far pleased with Andrew Thomas and Will Hernandez on the left side. They will get better as they grow together. The right side should start looking stronger once the Giants move past the killer defenses on their current schedule (including the 49ers). And as I said last week, long-term solutions such as Shane Lemieux and Matt Peart are on the roster. But the Giants need Gates to improve or this really won’t be getting “fixed” until another offseason.

        This brings us to Daniel Jones. So much depends on him right now. And unfortunately he is saddled with perhaps the worst running back and wide receiving corps in the NFL, a feature tight end who disappears for long stretches, and an offensive line that is a long way from being a cohesive unit. To put this in perspective, consider the surrounding talent Eli Manning had around him in 2004-2006. There is no comparison. And yet there is a group of fans just waiting for his next turnover so they can say, “I told you so!” The calls for drafting another quarterback will increase, especially as the team’s record worsens. Not an enviable position.

        So what can we look forward to? My focus on the next 14 games is going to be on Jones, the offensive line, and Slayton. But the “to do” list keeps expanding. The Giants have to draft a running back next year. Probably a tight end. Definitely more receivers. Maybe a center. It doesn’t feel like progress is being made.

        NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

        The irony is that before the season, fans felt that Patrick Graham was more of a question mark than Jason Garrett. Again, it’s early and opinions can still rapidly change, but statistically, the Giants defense has improved from 25th in yardage and 30th in points in 2019 to 4th in yardage and 11th in points, respectively. Yes, small sample size. But a promising start, especially when one considers the short comings at edge rusher and in the secondary.

        Let’s get the negative out of the way first. Graham’s style is unconventional and that doesn’t sit well with some. No down linemen and/or three-man rush on 3rd-down isn’t a good look when it doesn’t work. The much-maligned Bears’ offense was over 50 percent on 3rd down conversions last week. The Giants are 25th in run defense (not acceptable). Corner play opposite of James Bradberry is an issue. Jabrill Peppers still looks like a better athlete than player. The Markus Golden of 2019 has yet to show up. Why was Devante Downs kept over Ryan Connelly again?

        The good news is (thus far) the team looks like it made the right decisions on its two high-priced free agent acquisitions, Blake Martinez and Jame Bradberry. Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill, and Austin Johnson are a strong group of 3-4 defensive linemen. Lorenzo Carter and Kyler Fackrell have flashed. I expect Logan Ryan and Darnay Holmes to make some noise soon. There are young linebackers waiting in the wings. The point is there is a base to build around, to add pieces to. Adding an edge rusher and cornerback (damn the Deandre Baker fiasco) in the offseason would do wonders, provided now the Giants don’t have to spend those assets on offense!

        Moving forward, what we want to see is (1) improved run defense, (2) improved 3rd-down pass defense, and (3) more turnovers. The Giants did not generate any turnovers in Week 1 but did create two in Week 2. More of that is needed given the issues on the offensive side of the football.

        NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

        Old Giants fans will remember a time when the offense was so bad that any chance at a win came from the defense and special teams play. The Giants may have stunk for years in the 1970s-early 1980s, but their special teams units were often top notch. It feels a bit like old times to right now. I have complete confidence in our special teams and it’s the one part of the team where I think we can consistently out-play the opponent. I look forward to some game-changing plays soon. They are getting close.

        FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

        Head Coach Joe Judge on the 49ers defense: “They know all the coverage beaters you’re going to try to run on them. They know how you’re going to try to go ahead and get at their front in terms of scheming up the run game. They’re a very good penetrating front. Really, it all starts up front with these guys. They’re very disruptive. This is a turnover team, this is a penetration team, this is a pressure-on-your-quarterback team. It gives opportunities to the secondary and the backend. The linebackers are extremely fast. These guys can really move and flow behind that front in front of them. They’re very good in the pass game, they’re very effective in the run game. They don’t give up explosive plays. That’s the biggest thing. This team makes you commit to being a disciplined team and execute down the field, play after play after play. You watch them, they do a great job of just sitting back, letting you check the ball down and then tackling the ball in front of them. This is a tough opponent. You really watch their identity, I’d say their identity is how they fly around on tape and how they stand out at you with the physicality they play with.”

        THE FINAL WORD

        “The 49ers are really beat up. Their starting their back-up quarterback. Many of their best players are out!” Yadda, yadda, yadda. An injury-depleted 49ers team beat the crap out of the Jets last week. The Giants are not clearly better than the Jets. The 49ers have a very deep team with a proven coaching staff. They shouldn’t have much of an issue shutting down the NYG offense. And San Francisco is licking their chops over New York’s 25th-ranked rushing defense. Giants only steal one here if they win the turnover battle and/or making dramatic plays on specials.

        Sep 212020
         
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        James Bradberry, New York Giants (September 20, 2020)

        James Bradberry – © USA TODAY Sports

        Chicago Bears 17 – New York  Giants 13

        QUICK RECAP

        Less than 6 days after the Giants Week 1 loss, they had to travel to Chicago on short rest to face off against the 1-0 Bears. The two historic franchises have split their contests over the past two seasons, with CHI taking the 2019 match-up 19-14. The Bears came in riding high after a huge 4th quarter comeback in Detroit Week 1 as they aimed to sit atop the NFC North after this one. Also a team that has been trying to gain their true identity over the past few seasons under Head Coach Matt Nagy, the Bears have a lot of pieces in place when comparing them to the Giants on the field.

        The theme of the day, notably in the first half, for the NYG defense was a clear inability to make stops on third down. It began right away, as CHI went 4-for-4 on the opening drive. The fourth conversion resulted in points after David Montgomery took a 3rd-and-7 catch from the sideline to midfield after a lateral cut that fooled nearly half the NYG defense. CHI took the early lead and then NYG, on their first 3rd down conversion attempt, turned the ball over as the newly-signed Robert Quinn forced a Daniel Jones fumble, giving CHI the ball back just 20 yards away from the end zone. Fortunately, Anthony Miller, one of the heroes from their Week 1 victory, dropped a touchdown catch and CHI had to settle for 3 points. 10 Minutes into the game, NYG was down 10.

        The ensuing Giants drive was a three-and-out but the NYG defense did stop CHI their next possession. Then, one of the most demeaning drives of the year began. Saquon Barkley fell awkwardly on his arm after a nice 18-yard run. He missed just one play but on the opening drive of the second quarter something in his right knee gave out. After a 6-yard gain, he stayed on the ground at the CHI sideline clutching his knee, slamming the ground, with his helmet off. Watch just enough football and it was easy to tell, this was bad. He was carried off the field and 4 plays later Jones threw an interception to CHI safety Deon Bush. NYG was down 10-0. Barkley had a serious injury. Jones had turned the ball over twice in three drives.

        They traded event-less possessions a few times before CHI put together an eleven-play drive toward the end of the half. On 3rd-and-7 from the NYG 15-yard line, Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham tried to get creative with an amoeba front to rush the passer. It consisted of Lorenzo Carter, Blake Martinez, Nate Ebner, and Oshane XImines. That four-man rush resulted in Trubisky having all day to throw and making it nearly impossible for the defenders in coverage to stick to their assignments. This resulted in a throw into the end zone and into the waiting arms of rookie receiver Darnell Mooney. It was 17-0 at the half.

        This is the kind of start that, against a good team and quarterback, you could write the “L” in the win/loss column already. Fortunately, the Giants were up against Trubisky and an inconsistent CHI squad.

        To create an even further uphill climb, Sterling Shepard re-aggravated a foot/toe injury on the first play of the 3rd quarter that he initially tweaked at the end of the first half. This team was desperate for a game-changing play. Trubisky, yes Trubisky, responded. He threw an interception on his first pass to Julian Love via a tipped ball by cornerback James Bradberry. Love returned it to the CHI 25-yard line. A drop by Darius Slayton on 3rd down, which would have netted an easy first down, made NYG settle for a 39-yard field goal. NYG was on the board, down two touchdowns.

        After a defensive stop where the questionable CHI play-calling started to appear, NYG began their next drive on their own 5-yard line. They traveled 95 yards on 11 plays. During that span, they had three straight plays with gains of 20, 12, and 12 aided by a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty by CHI linebacker Roquan Smith. After their inside-5 yard line offensive woes week 1, NYG failed to punch it in on two straight attempts from there. It was 4th-and-1, down 17-3, at the beginning of the 4th quarter. This was a must-score situation. Dion Lewis took the ball and snuck his way through traffic behind the inside-right side of the offensive line. NYG was now down 17-10.

        As stated above, the opposition is always in it when Trubisky is taking snaps on the other side. Case in point, on the fifth play he lofted the ball up the right sideline on 3rd-and-4 when he had two underneath targets open for an easy conversion. This resulted in a miraculous interception by Bradberry and NYG had all of the momentum. It was time to tie this game back up.

        Jones had a pick six nullified by an Eddie Jackson pass interference. It was a very close, but correct, call by the refs. Instead of CHI being up 24-10, NYG got the ball to the CHI 33-yard line on the very next play down by 7. Three straight incomplete passes, however, once NYG got into the red zone made them go for a field goal that Gano nailed through the uprights. It was 17—13 Chicago. With 7:43 left in the game, CHI tried to run the clock out with some initial success.

        A potential nail in the coffin came from the most unlikely of plays that I can’t recall ever seeing before on 4th down. Once again, with CHI trying to move the clock and Trubisky at quarterback, they passed the ball two straight times on 3rd-and-2 / 4th-and-2, respectively. The 3rd down attempt fell incomplete and the 4th down attempt was broken up but somehow ended up in the hands of right tackle Bobby Massie. He fell into the first down and enabled CHI to get more clock-eating plays while chewing into the NYG timeouts. Kicker Cairo Santos failed a 50-yard field goal attempt and NYG was now down 17-13 with 2:02 remaining at their own 40. They had a shot and were in the middle of a 13-0 run.

        Without any timeouts, NYG inched their way up the field in a touchdown-or-lose situation. Some will argue that they didn’t take enough shots downfield, but the point of a drive like this (where you are likely going to have spike the ball and lose opportunities) is to get credible shots at the end zone at least two or three times. CHI was playing a very safe-defense, putting multiple defensive backs deep making it near impossible to send the ball downfield. After all, NYG did have three plays from inside the CHI 20 (one being a 4th-and-1) and one from the CHI 10. Jones was late to see an open Golden Tate, a trend I will speak about below, and the final play of the game was a pass broken up by Eddie Jackson.

        NYG loses 17-13.

        QUARTERBACK

        -Daniel Jones: 25-40 / 241 yards / 0 TD – 1 INT / 68.9 RAT

        Jones also lost a fumble on the very first drive of the game. He added 21 yards on 3 carries. It was a first half to forget, as he turned the ball over twice and his team was down by 17. One thing we know about Jones and I know we keep saying it. This is important, though. Jones is incredibly tough and has a short-memory. Things were looking about as bleak as it gets after the first three possessions. A turnover, a 3-and-out, another turnover, and a bad injury to the team’s best player in addition to the 17-point deficit. They inched their way back to the point of having a credible shot at the end zone to win the game in the fourth quarter. That is where the positives end, however. Jones was late to see the whole picture in this one. He was very hesitant, and he held onto the ball way too long, including the final play of the game. He doesn’t do the offensive line any favors with the way he second guesses his reads. A couple of the sacks were on him and his fumble was on him as well. If he isn’t throwing the ball, he needs to keep two hands on it. No debate. As stated at the end of last year, Jones won’t stick around for long if these turnover numbers remain as high as they are right now.

        RUNNING BACK

        -Saquon Barkley: 4 att – 28 yards

        The second quarter injury to Barkley is a season-changer for NYG. I don’t want to say season-ender, however. NFL offenses can work around less talent at running back much easier than other positions (one of the cases against drafting running backs high and/or paying them big money, a debate that is sure to come up again). The Giants offense looked fine without Barkley and even though you always want him out there, they can move the ball with different strategies. This is where having Jason Garrett calling plays can be a huge help. As for Barkley, I have a few in depth concerns about the ramifications of this that I will speak about at the bottom in “3 Closing Thoughts”. The one positive here is that, with where ACL/PCL recoveries are now, he will be fully back by training camp, no doubt.

        -Dion Lewis: 10 att – 20 yards – 1 TD / 4 rec – 36 yards

        Credit to Lewis for stepping right in and taking every running back snap post-injury to Barkley. He isn’t, and never has been, an every down back. Even though his production wasn’t through the roof, he played well and came up with a couple of key conversions. He also scored his first touchdown in a Giants uniform on a hard-earned 1-yard run up the middle. He did drop a pass late and missed a block in protection. We are going to see a ton of him from here on out, whether NYG hits the free agency market or not.

        WIDE RECEIVER

        -Golden Tate: 5 rec – 47 yards

        It was Tate’s first action of the season after missing Week 1 with an injury. He caught all 5 of his targets and he was open on the final play of the game. We know Tate is never going to scare anyone deep and we know he isn’t going to win a lot of battles for the ball with his size. However, the guy knows how to get open underneath and he is tougher than nails. With the NYG offense being forced into change and a possible injury to Sterling Shepard, they need to feature him as much as possible when those tough yards are needed. He is limited, but dependable.

        -Sterling Shepard: 2 rec – 29 yards / 1 att – 6 yards

        Shepard essentially played one half of the game because of yet another injury. He tweaked it at the end of the first half and ran one route in the second half before hobbling off. He had missed 11 games from 2017-2019 and it appears he is moving toward increasing that number here in 2020.

        -Darius Slayton: 3 rec – 33 yards

        Slayton had a huge drop in the third quarter. Otherwise, he had a very uneventful game. Upon my further review, I saw something I really didn’t like in this game from the second-year receiver. After the 2019 season, I said Slayton needs to get stronger and more aggressive off the line. After watching this game a second time, it was easy to see this remains an issue. To be blunt, Slayton looked scared when CHI was pressing at the point-of-attack. He took steps back, he took too long to run around, or he was just man-handled. That can really throw off the timing of a play. This is the thing about second-year players in this league. When coaches get enough film on a guy, the book is out on how to stop them. It is then up to the player to make the necessary changes. If Slayton is going to be a thing in this league for this team, he needs to be better there.

        -I am looking forward to seeing C.J. Board get an opportunity for more snaps if Shepard misses time. He played just 11 snaps, was targeted 3 times, and caught 3 passes for 32 yards. I like how he moves after the catch and he seems to play with some extra fire.

        TIGHT END

        -Evan Engram: 6 rec – 65 yards.

        Engram was targeted a team-high 8 times and led the team in catches and yards respectively. He had a couple of key plays in the team’s comeback effort. His blocking was less of an issue than what we saw Week 1, mainly because they didn’t run his way often. If Shepard is out for a while and with Barkley out all year, Engram is going to get a ton of looks.

        The Giants had three tight ends on the field for a third of their plays week one, by far the most in the league. It didn’t help. That number was cut in half in week 2 and this is where I expect it to settle. Kaden Smith and Levin Toilolo were better in-line than in week 1, but neither factored much in the passing game.

        OFFENSIVE LINE

        -Andrew Thomas had the worst grade along the line. Looking strictly at numbers, he allowed 3 sacks and 2 pressures. However, two of the sacks can credibly be argued weren’t his fault. Jones ran into one and another was an assignment where, to be honest, I’m not sure what his responsibility was. Nonetheless, he did allow the sack-fumble on the first drive and the two pressures were definitely on him.

        -Cameron Fleming tied for the top grade on the line, an above average performance, but one where we still saw him getting walked back a bit and struggling to maintain good contact with his man. He was more impressive in the run game.

        -Inside, the trio of Will Hernandez, Nick Gates, and Kevin Zeitler looked much better than what we saw in Week 1, in particular during the second half. Hernandez allowed a sack on a late stunt but besides that, he was solid. Zeitler allowed a TFL in the first half but was fine otherwise. He still looks overly stiff out there. Gates was better than Week 1 as well, but that isn’t saying much. I still want to see more movement off the ball but in key moments, he got the job done.

        EDGE

        -Lorenzo Carter had 4 tackles and a sack. He disengaged from his man better than what we have seen since his career began here. The biggest thing we need to see from him is week-to-week consistency. After 2 games, I am very encouraged by his play in multiple levels.

        -Markus Golden was on the field for 15 plays (23%). I know they may be bringing him along slowly and perhaps he isn’t quite ready, but the lack of pass rush is an issue. He looks very lethargic off the line, hopefully he just needs a few games to get his groove back. But his missed tackle on Trubisky, which led to a first down run, making him look like a guy who doesn’t belong. Oshane Ximines out-snapped him by 4 plays and recorded a TFL. Otherwise he has been non-factor. NYG doesn’t have anybody on the edge who scares you.

        DT

        -Dexter Lawrence and Dalvin Tomlinson were a solid 1-2 punch for most of the day. They combined for 9 tackles, a pressure, and a broken up pass. When they get to stay at home, they both swallow up double teams and keep linebackers clean. They are both powerful enough to shed and tackle as well. Tomlinson’s issues, and it happened on two of CHI’s bigger runs, is a lack of lateral speed and quickness. He was getting reached easily by tackles coming across his face and it cut him off from making the back-side pursuit plays.

        -Leonard Williams was quiet in the box score (2 tackles / 1 pressure). He struggled as a pass rusher, as he was double-teamed more than anyone on the Giants front. This is where having a more dangerous threat on the outside could really benefit this defense. If you single team Williams, he is going to make a big difference. In addition, I was impressed with his lateral movement against the run. He stays square to the ball carrier while moving left/right and engaged with blockers. That is a tough trait and ability to find.

        -Austin Johnson and B.J. Hill each played just under a third of the defensive snaps. They both played well, as Hill recorded his first sack of the season and Johnson took up blockers inside. This really is a deep group of quality interior linemen.

        LB

        -Blake Martinez led the team in tackles, something we are going to see all year if he stays healthy. He also recorded a sack and 2 pressures. His speed to the sidelines has been a visible difference these first two weeks and he is rarely fooled. The contrast between him and Alec Ogletree is enormous.

        -The spot next to Martinez is concerning and one will begin to wonder about the surprising release of Ryan Connelly. You can’t expect Martinez to get to everything, somebody else is going to need to step up. Devante Downs was only on the field for 11 plays but he did damage (against NYG) multiple times.

        -Kyler Fackrell had a great game. He doesn’t play next to Martinez much, as his role is one of the more versatile ones on the roster. You can’t just keep him inside, as he does have legitimate pass rush ability. He finished with 6 tackles, 2 TFL, and 1 sack. He did have a bad whiff late in the game. Fackrell showed really good lateral range on a couple of occasions but he just can’t be a guy who drops into coverage much. If he does and the offense knows, he will get exposed. The defensive coaches will need to be very calculated with his role, but if done correctly, he can be a difference maker.

        CB

        -James Bradberry excelled. He wasn’t matched up against CHI’s number one threat Allen Robinson the entire game but he was a huge part into keeping him in check. Robinson had 3 catches, just one was against Bradberry. The free agent signing from Carolina broke up 4 passes (one of which led to an interception) and then brought in an interception of his own on an amazing, savvy play on the ball. He is a really solid player, especially against bigger outside receivers.

        -Corey Ballentine allowed a touchdown on a broken play. You can’t expect him to cover a receiver for 7+ seconds but on that play, he was late to locate the ball. There continues to be traits that he just doesn’t seem to have that revolve around game situational awareness and skill. Still a young player though.

        -Logan Ryan had 6 tackles and a forced fumble (that was recovered by CHI). He is a very hybrid-player. If this defense can turn things around, he will be a big part of it.

        SAFETY

        -Jabrill Peppers, after a poor first game, really hurt this team in Week 2. His lack of quality pursuit angles and special awareness when attacking the ball carrier is something he should be past by now. For such a good athlete, the game appears to be too fast for him at times. He is such an explosive straight-line athlete. But when he needs to react and shift laterally, he looks heavy and stiff. That won’t work unless he plays more of a linebacker-type role.

        -Julian Love came up with an interception on a tipped ball that led to NYG finally getting on the board with a field goal. He is a right-place, right-time defender who can really benefit from being around Ryan. They are very similar players but we need to see Love get stronger against contact. It is still a weakness in his game that gets exposed.

        SPECIAL TEAMS

        -K Graham Gano: 2/3 (Made 39, 37 / Missed 57)

        -P Riley Dixon: 3 Punts – 58.0 avg / 44.7 net

        3 STUDS

        -CB James Bradberry, LB Kyler Fackrell, RB Dion Lewis

        3 DUDS

        -S Jabrill Peppers, EDGE Markus Golden, OT Andrew Thomas

        3 THOUGHTS ON CHI

        1. See where the Bears are right now? They have doubled down on a quarterback (Trubisky) in just his fourth year with just Nick Foles as the fallback option. This creates the question that NYG may eventually be forced to answer. That is, is your first round QB the answer? I like the concept of using three seasons of being a starter to know whether or not you are moving forward. If you aren’t sure about him, then it can be argued you pursue other options at the most important position in sports. Your worst-case scenario becomes having too much talent at the most important position in sports that will create intra-squad competition, which I fully support. No, this isn’t a knock on Jones, he has plenty of time to prove his worth. This goes back to Trubisky and the Bears. He is in year 4 and they just have to know by now, he isn’t THE guy.
        1. Roy Robertson-Harris / #95 / DL. In the 2017 preseason, I started writing notes down on this undrafted free agent from UTEP. Since then, every time I’ve seen that defense play, he just simply stands out to me. In scouting, this happens sometimes where you just can’t take your eyes off a guy who fits the mold you want in a specific position. Robertson-Harris is going to be a free agent this offseason and I do think he will hit the market, as CHI has so much money tied up. He does so much snap to snap that doesn’t show up in the box score and I think he can be a feature guy in the right scheme. Depending on what happens with Tomlinson/Williams in free agency, he is going to be on the list based on what I think he can be had for.
        1. CHI is 2-0. They beat a bad DET team and a bad NYG team. Looking at every 2-0 team in the league, they are by far the worst of the unbeatens. When looking at their roster and knowing my disdain for Trubisky, I don’t see a winning team. However, their schedule is filled with several games against teams that I project to finish under .500. They are going to be in the playoff hunt in 2020.

        3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

        1. The elephant in the room. Saquon Barkley and where to go from here. There is no way around it, this absolutely stinks for NYG and Barkley and the fans. You never know what to expect from running backs after this kind of knee injury, especially ones who like to dance and cut the way Barkley does. Another angle to consider how much this hurts when it comes to the big picture is this team gets one less year of Barkley on his rookie contract. Could this damper the value of his next deal? Sure. But a huge part of winning in today’s NFL is getting max vale from rookie deals. Another ramification I am worried about? Will Barkley be hesitant when he comes back? I could be wrong here and I don’t want to dive into psychology because I am not qualified so take it for what its worth. Barkley runs a little timid already. He isn’t soft by any means, but he tried to avoid hits to the point where I think it makes him play slower than he is, especially in traffic. I hope this pop to his knee doesn’t further than issue.
        1. What does NYG do at running back? I have one suggestion: Sign Devonta Freeman. Let’s not go down the path of giving up on 2020 just yet. The division looks weak and if NYG can get to 8-8 or 9-7, they have a shot at a home playoff game. Don’t forget that. Freeman would be a solid compliment to Lewis and Gallman. He runs hard between the tackles and will break tackles. We can’t really say that about the other two. Now, he isn’t close to what he was from 2015-2018 but there isn’t anything available on the market who is. Freeman can still run quick and hard with good vision and strong ball security. In addition, Freeman has always been a plus-receiver.
        1. The Giants have two really tough NFC West match-ups over the next two weeks before they take a run against all three divisional opponents. Based on what the NFC East looks like to this point, I think NYG needs to go into these next 2 weeks hoping for a split against the Niners and Rams. Yes, expectations have been lowered here but hear me out. If NYG can go into that 3-week run at 1-3, they can control their early destiny when it comes to the division. If they do enter that stretch at 1-3, and then go 2-1 against the divisional foes, they are sitting at 3-4 with a winning record in the division. I know this is getting way ahead of ourselves but my point is, there is no sense in giving up right now. The Giants are far from legit contention and there are holes all over the roster, but the goal here is to stay within striking distance of the division at the very least. PHI is 0-2. WAS is 1-1. DAL is 1-1. Let that be the focus for now.