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

Jake Fromm – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYG loses 22-7.

QUARTERBACK

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

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

RUNNING BACK

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

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

WIDE RECEIVER

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

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

TIGHT END

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

OFFENSIVE LINE

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

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

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

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

DEFENSIVE LINE

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

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

LINEBACKER

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

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

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

CORNERBACK

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

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

SAFETY

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

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

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

SPECIAL TEAMS

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

3 STUDS

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

3 DUDS

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

3 THOUGHTS ON WAS

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

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

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

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

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

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

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

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

Jan 072022
 
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Joe Judge

THE STORYLINE:
Unless I’m reading the tea leaves incorrectly, the New York Giants appear to be screwed. While rumors run rampant from anonymous sources that “nothing has been decided” by ownership with respect to the general manager and head coaching positions, those who cover the team for a living unanimously believe that Joe Judge will return as head coach of the franchise.

Why?

I have nothing personal against the man. I want him to succeed. But he’s clearly bamboozled John Mara into believing he’s something that is not: a competent NFL head coach.

With a modicum of truth, his advocates will allege that he has been sabotaged by a poor personnel department, injuries, and Covid-related absences. “It’s not his fault! He’s not to blame!”

Bullshit. Joe Judge’s handprints have been all over this team for two years. He has been intimately involved in personnel decisions, perhaps the driving force behind many. Other teams in the NFL have had major injury and Covid-related issues to deal with but they can at least field a competitive, even playoff-caliber, product.

The Giants are averaging 15.7 points per game. More telling is that they have gotten markedly worse as the season has progressed. Since the bye week, the Giants are averaging 10.3 points per game. In the last contest, they scored three points against one of the worst teams in the NFL. In the last two years, a Joe Judge-coached football team has scored 30 points or more only once, and that was in a loss to the Cowboys where the NYG defense scored.

Last year, it was a challenge for New York to score 20 points in a game. Now, it’s a challenge to score 10. This isn’t 1931, it’s 2021. Things are not getting better. They are getting markedly worse.

All of this despite the offseason emphasis being on adding “weapons” such as WR Kenny Golladay (4-years, $72 million), TE Kyle Rudolph (2-years, $12 million), and WR Kadarius Toney (1st round). The result? These three players have ONE touchdown between them! One!

The top passing target on this team is a tight end who everyone wants gone. He “leads” the Giants with just 45 catches and three touchdowns. No wide receiver on this roster has more than one touchdown catch, in other words, the same amount of TD catches as left tackle Andrew Thomas.

Dave Gettleman may be the GM, but Joe Judge has been irrevocable in his support of Daniel Jones as the starting quarterback. He was OK with Mike Glennon as the back-up. He was OK with the state of the offensive line entering training camp. When he decided to fire Jason Garrett, he hand-picked replacement was Freddie Kitchens, who has actually been worse than Garrett. And don’t forget all of the changes he made to the offensive coaching staff in the offseason (Kitchens to senior offensive assistant, Derek Dooley coaching the TEs, two new offensive line coaches, and three more quality control coaches).

While the defensive side of the football has not been as bad, it did not get better in 2021 despite a number of free agent and draft additions that were expected to improve the unit. The Giants have fallen from 12th in yards allowed in 2020 to 20th. More damning is they have fallen from 10th in points allowed to 23rd. The failures at the end of the first half have been well documented. The pass rush has gotten worse (40 sacks in 2020 to 31 this year).

And have the special teams been noticeably different at all with special teams “guru” Joe Judge at the helm?

Joe Judge is what he is: a 10-22 head coach. His .312 winning percentage is better than Pat Shurmur’s (.281) and worse than Ben McAdoo (.464). Ray Handley won more games in two years.

So all we read now is that John Mara thinks Joe Judge is a good coach and should remain with the team another year. Some have reported what many of us have feared, that is, accepting Joe Judge as head coach of the team is a prerequisite for becoming the new general manager. Why? Where is this faith in Joe Judge coming from? It makes no sense. Nothing has gotten better and is clearly getting worse. Judge should have no political capital with this team. None.

Adding to this hot mess is that Joe Judge is beginning to go on long-winded rants defending his teetering regime. The Monday press conference after the 37-21 loss to the Chargers and the post-game press conference after the 29-3 loss to the Chicago Bears were extremely bizarre, overly-defensive, and long-winded affairs that just went on and on and on. Personally, I’ve never seen anything like it. It was almost as if Judge was trying to convince himself that he knew what he was doing. Worse, in some truly pot-calling-the-kettle-black hypocrisy, Judge took shots at Pat Shurmur and his his upcoming opponent Ron Rivera. The latter now has all the incentive in the world to humiliate Judge on Sunday.

We can see the train wreck coming, but we are helpless to prevent it. John Mara is going to keep Judge, hire a new GM mainly based on his ability to work with Judge, but then fire Judge at the end of the 2022 NFL season after the Giants finish dead last in the division again. And the Giants will be stuck with a GM who they may not have gone with had Judge not been the head coach. If John Mara can’t see this, we’re all doomed as fans of this team.

I pray that I’m wrong.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • QB Mike Glennon (wrist – out)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (ankle)
  • FB Cullen Gillaspia (knee – questionable)
  • WR Kadarius Toney (shoulder – out)
  • WR Darius Slayton (shoulder/COVID ramp up)
  • WR John Ross (knee – out)
  • WR Collin Johnson (hamstring – questionable)
  • TE Kyle Rudolph (ankle)
  • OT Andrew Thomas (shoulder)
  • OT Korey Cunningham (COVID ramp up)
  • OG Will Hernandez (ankle – questionable)
  • DL Dexter Lawrence (personal/COVID ramp up)
  • NT Austin Johnson (foot)
  • NT Danny Shelton (COVID ramp up)
  • LB Lorenzo Carter (illness)
Jan 052022
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (January 2, 2022)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

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

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

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

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

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

NYG loses 29-3.

QUARTERBACK

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

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

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 21 att – 102 yards

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

WIDE RECEIVER

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

TIGHT END

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

OFFENSIVE LINE

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

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

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

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

DEFENSIVE LINE

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

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

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

LINEBACKER

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

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

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

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

CORNERBACK

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

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

SAFETY

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

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

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

SPECIAL TEAMS

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

3 STUDS

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

3 DUDS

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

3 THOUGHTS ON CHI

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

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

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

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

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

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

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

Dec 312021
 
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Michael Strahan, John Mara, and Steve Tisch; New York Giants (November 28, 2021)

Michael Strahan, John Mara, and Steve Tisch – © USA TODAY Sports

THE STORYLINE:
An open letter to ownership of the New York Football Giants:

Dear Mara and Tisch families,

If you are even aware of my website, I’m sure you don’t place much value in my opinion or the opinions of the many fans of your franchise who post on it. Aside from the harsh criticism your families have received from us, you probably hold the same views so famously espoused by Jim Mora in 1989:

You guys really don’t know when it’s good or bad, when it comes right down to it… And I’m promising you right now, you don’t know whether it’s good or bad. You really don’t know, because you don’t know what we’re trying to do, you guys don’t look at the films, you don’t know what happened, you really don’t know. You think you know, but you DON’T KNOW, and you never WILL, okay?

And you would be right. We don’t know what really is going on inside your franchise. And we never will know the full story. Yet while we may never know what lurks below the surface, we do see what rests on the waves. And it isn’t pretty.

Furthermore, while we may not see the full picture, you run significant risks of (1) group think, and (2) not being able to see the forest for the trees.

The fan base believes the following: NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle had to intervene in the ownership dispute between Wellington and Tim Mara in 1979, which led to the hiring of George Young who built the front office structural foundation that continues to this day. I was personally raised in an era of Giants’ football when George Young’s philosophy was “owners own, managers manage, and coaches coach.” Right or wrong, I still believe in that overall philosophy when it comes to running a sports franchise. And we all witnessed the fruits of this structure with the team appearing in five Super Bowls, winning four of them.

I don’t think most fans are suggesting ownership moves away from this philosophy. But as with any private- or public-sector organization, the success or failure of the enterprise depends on the quality of the people operating within it. You may have surrounded yourself with people you have personally become attached to, but that does not mean they are good at their jobs. Some people burn out. Others can’t adapt to changing times. Some were never really good at their jobs in the first place and don’t deserve the reputation you think they have.

We fans may not know much, but what we know is this…your franchise is broken. You have spent almost a decade spinning your wheels trying to improve the team. You are about to change general managers for the third time. You are currently on your fourth head coach. This has become a very unstable team and the rest of the league must know it too. Because George Young was the paragon of stability, this has to gnaw at you. But don’t let your fear of further instability prevent you from doing what is necessary to structurally fix this mess once and for all.

Let’s cut to the chase and be brutally honest here. You messed up. It’s OK. We’re all human. It happens. Ernie Accorsi’s two GM recommendations did not work out. Dave Gettleman told you what you wanted to hear, that is, you didn’t need to completely rebuild the team, you still have time to win with Eli Manning. That was a huge error. Now the fear is you will likely be swayed by GM and possibly HC candidates who tell you what you want to hear, that is, we can still win with Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. The alternative is almost too painful to contemplate, the team blew the #2 and #6 picks in the draft. Don’t fall into that trap again. If mistakes were made, no matter how catastrophic, move on. Or you will remain in the same position you are in right now. Purgatory.

I have three unsolicited recommendations for you:

(1) Use non-team-related surrogates you trust to ask around the NFL what others think of your team, including ownership, front office, and player personnel. Actually listen to what others are saying. You won’t like what you hear, but you need to hear the truth, not what people know you want to hear.

(2) For Christ’s sake, get your family members out of the personnel department. Even if they are good at their jobs, which is a matter open for debate, this is a terrible look for you and your franchise. The negatives far outweigh the positives. And those family members who are involved in the day-to-day, front office positions should fully recognize this themselves. Do what is right for the organization.

(3) Don’t be afraid to blow this up again. You may like Joe Judge, but he has not earned any political capital to influence what you do moving forward. Any QUALITY prospective GM must feel as if he can hire the coach he wants to work with. Get your GM-HC hires in sync with each other. Fans are OK with the short-term instability if they see a long-term plan. Right now, no one sees any plan. Nothing is getting better. It’s only getting worse. Your moves should not be reactive, based appeasing the angry masses, but simply putting the team on the right path. The added benefit is the fans will eventually come along when the product improves.

On a final note, you do run a significant risk here if the team remains a bottom feeder. This isn’t the 1970’s anymore where young people will blindly follow a losing franchise because their parents did. Worse, you are not only losing young fans but long-time ones who are tuning the team out. The team often isn’t even competitive when losing. My interest has waned. My teenage kids want to like the team, but now they just kind of laugh at the franchise, preferring to spend their free time on more enjoyable activities. They have more to choose from than kids in the 1970s. So do the adults.

We may all sound like unappreciative, hyper-critical assholes to you. But we’re the ones still here and watching. We’re pissed because we care. The moment you stop hearing from us is when you should really start to panic. And that time is rapidly approaching.

Go Giants!

THE INJURY REPORT:
Of those on Reserve/Covid-19 List, only Julian Love and possibly Danny Shelton are likely to play.

  • RB Saquon Barkley (ankle – probable)
  • FB Cullen Gillaspia (shin – probable)
  • WR Darius Slayton (Reserve/Covid-19 List)
  • WR Kadarius Toney (shoulder – out)
  • WR John Ross (knee/COVID ramp up – out)
  • WR Collin Johnson (hamstring – out)
  • TE Kyle Rudolph (ankle – probable)
  • TE Chris Myarick (hip – questionable)
  • OL Billy Price (personal – doubtful)
  • OT Nate Solder (COVID ramp up – questionable)
  • OL Ben Bredeson (ankle – probable)
  • OL Korey Cunningham (Reserve/Covid-19 List)
  • NT Austin Johnson (foot – questionable)
  • NT Danny Shelton (Reserve/Covid-19 List)
  • DE Dexter Lawrence (Reserve/Covid-19 List)
  • DL Raymond Johnson (illness – probable)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (quad/COVID ramp up – questionable)
  • CB Keion Crossen (COVID ramp up – probable)
  • S Julian Love (Reserve/Covid-19 List)
  • PK Graham Gano (illness – probable)
Dec 282021
 
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Jake Fromm, New York Giants (December 26, 2021)

Jake Fromm – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYG loses 34-10.

QUARTERBACKS

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

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

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

RUNNING BACKS

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

WIDE RECEIVERS

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

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

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

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

TIGHT END

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

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

OFFENSIVE LINE

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

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

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

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

DEFENSIVE LINE

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

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

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

LINEBACKERS

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

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

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

CORNERBACKS

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

SAFETY

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

SPECIAL TEAMS

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

3 STUDS

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

3 DUDS

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

3 THOUGHTS ON PHI

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

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

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

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

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

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

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

Dec 242021
 
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THE STORYLINE:
It feels like everyone is piling on the New York Football Giants right now. They are, and deservedly so. The team is a mess and no one except those fans blinded by an absurdly high level of team loyalty refuses to accept this fact. What it boils down to is this: despite multiple coaching and dramatic personnel changes, the team simply is not getting better. You have to be blind, stupid, or have an agenda in order to not see it.

Enter the Philadelphia Eagles, the team that was supposed to be pulling up the rear in the NFC East in 2021. The Eagles are not good, as indicated by the fact that they are one of the few teams the Giants beat this season. They started off 2-5. But since then, the team has gone an impressive 5-2 and is now 7-7 and all-alone in second place in the division. That is where the Giants were supposed to be this year. Getting better. Offering hope for the future. That didn’t happen.

The Eagles are 12th in offensive yards gained. The Giants are 27th. The Eagles are averaging 26 points a game. The Giants are averaging 17. The Eagles are 10th in defense. The Giants are 25th. The Eagles are experiencing all of this with a rookie head coach (Nick Sirianni) and a 2nd-round quarterback drafted last year (Jalen Hurts).

But it’s not just the Eagles, Dallas is clearly the class of the division and looks like they will remain very competitive for the foreseeable future because of how well they have been drafting. The Washington Football team is well-coached and remains a tough team because it is strong up front on both sides of the ball.

The Giants are not closing the gap on these teams. Worse, they seem to be falling further behind. And don’t blame the injuries or COVID or any other pathetic excuse. As New York enters the 2022 offseason, it appears there are very few areas where the team has to be satisfied with, and that includes ownership, management, and coaching.

I want to finish by addressing the coaching issue since I’m already on record about the incompetence of ownership and management. I would’t be sounding so pessimistic if I came out of this season feeling good about the coaching staff. I did last year at this time, but I don’t anymore. I can’t recall one game in 2021 where I thought we clearly out-coached our opponent. At the top, Joe Judge’s in-game management has been questionable at best. You’d be hard-pressed to find any Giants fan who thinks the offensive side of coaching staff is innovative (plus the Giants have already fired one offensive coordinator this year). The defense started the season poorly, got better, but has been-and-down for the most part. Most troubling is the way this staff gets out-coached in the last two minutes of the first half of EVERY game. The Giants have achieved what should be impossible, being out-scored 65-0 in these situations. Indeed, a couple of times in recent weeks, the Giants’ offense has had the ball in plus territory with 90 seconds left on the clock. And not only does the offense not score, but the opponent still manages to put points on the board. And again, the Giants hired a special teams coordinator to be their head coach, but the special teams never really stands out either. WTF? The thing that is also making me feel queasy are that Judge’s press conferences are becoming long-winded messes. You would think he would have learned from Bill Belichick in this area.

In the Super Bowl era, the two greatest head coaches the Giants have had were Bill Parcells and Tom Coughlin. But even these two were under heavy criticism before they won NFL Championships. (Coughlin was also heavily attacked after 2011). The Giants also had coaches such as Ray Perkins, Dan Reeves, and Jim Fassel who were far less loved. But there were moments where their NYG teams really shined and fans felt optimistic about the future. Perkins and Reeves surprisingly took teams to the playoffs. Jim Fassel had three playoff teams, including one that went to the Super Bowl. Hell, Fassel’s teams used to own the Eagles, winning nine in a row at one point (more on that below). There were many games where fans felt that we had out-coached the opponent (just ask Redskins fans how Dan Reeves used to torment them with the halfback pass from Dave Meggett).

Let’s hope the coaching staff finishes up on a high note. The Eagles, Bears, and WFT are not world-beaters. These last three games will be very telling.

THE INJURY REPORT:
*It is not likely that any of the Reserve/COVID-19 List players will play on Sunday.

  • RB Saquon Barkley (ankle)
  • RB Gary Brightwell (neck – out)
  • FB Cullen Gillaspia (shin)
  • *WR John Ross (Reserve/COVID-19)
  • WR Kadarius Toney (oblique/COVID ramp up – questionable)
  • WR Collins Johnson (hamstring – out)
  • TE Kyle Rudolph (ankle)
  • OT Andrew Thomas (ankle)
  • OG Ben Bredeson (ankle – out)
  • NT Austin Johnson (foot – questionable)
  • DL Leonard Williams (triceps)
  • *LB Cam Brown (Reserve/COVID-19)
  • LB Oshane Ximines (COVID ramp up – questionable)
  • *CB Adoree’ Jackson (Reserve/COVID-19)
  • * Aaron Robinson (Reserve/COVID-19)
  • *CB Keion Crossen (Reserve/COVID-19)
  • S J.R. Reed (COVID ramp up – questionable)

THE FINAL WORD:
Given that it is Christmas, I wanted to end on a positive note and remind Giants fans that there was a time when this team played meaningful football games against the Philadelphia Eagles in December and January. If anything, just watch the first couple of minutes of the following…

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

Lorenzo Carter – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYG Loses 21-6

QUARTERBACK

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

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

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

RUNNING BACK

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

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

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

WIDE RECEIVER

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

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

TIGHT END

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

OFFENSIVE LINE

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

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

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

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

DEFENSIVE LINE

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

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

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

LINEBACKER

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

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

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

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

CORNERBACK

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

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

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

SAFETY

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

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

SPECIAL TEAMS

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

3 STUDS

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

3 DUDS

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

3 THOUGHTS ON DAL

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

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

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

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

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

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

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

Dec 172021
 
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THE STORYLINE:
As a franchise, the New York Football Giants have collectively buried their heads in the sand for almost a decade. While there have been many humiliating moments, games, and even seasons since 2011, the utter and complete incompetency seems to be coming to a head. Ownership, management, et al. seem to be living in denial. A reckoning is in store on Sunday.

Reap what you sow.

THE INJURY REPORT:
Except for Xavier McKinney, who is a “close contact” negative, it is not expected that any of the COVID players will play on Sunday.

  • QB Daniel Jones (neck – out)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (ankle)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (calf – questionable)
  • WR Kadarius Toney (COVID)
  • WR John Ross (COVID)
  • TE Kyle Rudolph (ankle)
  • LT Andrew Thomas (ankle)
  • OG Ben Bredeson (ankle – doubtful)
  • DE Leonard Williams (triceps – questionable)
  • NT Austin Johnson (foot – questionable)
  • NT Danny Shelton (calf)
  • LB Benardrick McKinney (illness)
  • LB Reggie Ragland (illness)
  • LB Elerson Smith (illness)
  • LB Cam Brown (COVID)
  • LB Oshane Ximines (COVID)
  • CB Aaron Robinson (COVID)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (COVID/quad)
  • CB Jarren Williams (illness)
  • S Xavier McKinney (COVID)
  • S J.R. Reed (COVID)
  • S Steven Parker (illness)
  • PK Graham Gano (illness)

THE FINAL WORD:
The beatdown is likely to be utterly embarrassing. The stadium is likely to be filled with mocking Cowboys fans. Jerry Jones will likely be laughing his ass off. And Dallas will likely win its 15th game against the Giants in the last 19 games between these two teams.

Pathetically, team surrogates will continue to address the public, blaming fans for not understanding what is going on behind the scenes and insisting that things are actually getting better.

But hey, ownership appreciates you. They are giving PSL/season-ticket holders a free medium soft drink if you attend the game. Drink up lads!

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

Eli Penny – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYG loses 37-21.

QUARTERBACK

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

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

RUNNING BACK

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

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

WIDE RECEIVER

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

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

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

TIGHT END

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

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

OFFENSIVE LINE

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

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

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

DEFENSIVE LINE

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

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

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

LINEBACKERS

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

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

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

CORNERBACKS

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

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

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

SAFETY

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

SPECIAL TEAMS

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

3 STUDS

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

3 DUDS

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

3 THOUGHTS ON LAC

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

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

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

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

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

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

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

Dec 102021
 
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John Mara, New York Giants (July 29, 2021)

John Mara – © USA TODAY Sports

THE STORYLINE:
For fans of the New York Giants, we’ve officially entered that all-too-familiar part of the season where we are just waiting for it to end. And that’s with five games left! Unfortunately, this has become commonplace for the once-proud franchise. Fans eagerly wait six months for players to report to training camp and by mid-season, the team is out of contention.

I said to my wife yesterday, “I have no idea what to write in my game preview this week.” She responded, “Just say they suck.”

This season has been a disaster for the franchise, not just for what occurred this year, but moving forward. Let’s review:

Entering the season, most NYG fans felt good about the coaching staff with the exception of offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. Joe Judge obviously had or developed the same reservations about Garrett and fired him last month. However, a significant percentage of the fan base now doubts Judge and the rest of the coaching staff he has assembled. It has gotten so bad that I’ve actually seen posts from readers saying Ben McAdoo and/or Pat Shurmur were better. The person with the most to lose over the course of the last five games may be Joe Judge. It’s not inconceivable that his job may be on the line.

Since fans assumed the coaching staff was largely set, the #1 issue entering the 2021 season was Daniel Jones. After a promising rookie season and a disappointing sophomore season, 2021 was supposed to be the tiebreaker. Was Daniel Jones the future or not? The team loaded up on offensive weapons to help his cause. Many pundits claimed in the offseason that the Giants were “loaded” on the offensive side of the ball and Jones was out of excuses. Unfortunately for Jones, the team’s decision to largely stand pat on the offensive line was a disastrous mistake. Worse, all of the “weapons” have missed significant time and/or are extremely limited by injuries when they do play. While Jones has only thrown seven interceptions this year (3 in one game), he has only also inexcusably thrown 10 touchdowns. While Jones’ lost fumbles have dramatically decreased from 11 in 2019 to 6 in 2020 to 3 in 2021, his overall QB rating has plateaued at 84.8. Long story short, he has not gotten better. And while this was no sin for a 3rd-year quarterback in 1980, 1990, and 2000, it apparently is in 2021. Worse, Jones has suffered some mysterious structural neck injury that may prevent him from redeeming himself in the last few games. Jones was the #6 pick in the entire 2019 NFL Draft. Instead of being a difference-maker, he’s been a major disappointment.

Saquon Barkley was the #2 pick in the entire 2018 NFL Draft. He had one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history, accruing over 2,000 total yards despite a terrible supporting cast. It’s been all downhill ever since. Barkley has become an injury-prone back who, while still fast, appears to have lost his explosive lateral agility. Despite what he publicly says, his confidence has waned. Worse, he appears to fear contact, the death-knell for any football player, especially a running back. 2021 was supposed to be Barkley’s redemption tour. Instead, right now there are many fans who argue he isn’t even the best running back on the team. Taken together, the selections of Barkley and Jones, two top-6 picks in back-to-back drafts, looks like an unmitigated catastrophe.

A renewed Barkley was supposed to jump start the offense. But so were the additions of high-priced free agent Kenny Golladay and surprise 1st-round draft pick Kadarius Toney. It was hoped that injury-prone, perennial teases Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram would finally put together complete, consistent seasons. Darius Slayton was supposed to rebound from a sophomore slump. Kyle Rudolph was supposed to help in the red zone. None of these things happened. All of these guys have been in and out of the line-up with injuries. Golladay has 26 catches and, unbelievably, no touchdowns. Toney has barely made an impact, playing in less than half of all offensive snaps. He also has yet to reach the end zone. Shepard has missed half the season. Engram only has 35 catches for 334 yards; Slayton 21 catches for 280 yards. Rudolph only has 19 catches and one touchdown.

Entering 2021, reinforced by significant additions at linebacker and in the secondary, it was anticipated that the defense would pick up where it left off in 2020. That didn’t happen as the defense mightily struggled during a 1-5 start to the season. While the defense has significantly tightened up during the course of the last six games, directly responsible for an “improved” 3-3 record during this time frame, it has developed some serious physical and mental toughness issues. New York is 25th against the run, one of the main reasons why it is only 23rd overall (a drop from its 12th-place finish in 2020). But perhaps more troubling, Giants’ defenders and coaches are unable to stop opposing offenses in the last few minutes of the first half. In practically every single game this year, the Giants have surrendered a long touchdown drive right before halftime. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be comical. The team lacks both physical (run defense) and mental (belief in oneself) toughness. And it was the defense that was expected to carry the team this year while the offense came together.

Dave Gettleman’s legacy has been determined. He’s been a colossal failure as GM of the New York Football Giants. He spent a #2 overall pick on a 1-year wonder running back who is now afraid of getting hit. He spent a #6 overall pick on a “franchise” quarterback who isn’t. Perhaps almost as equally damning is that through four NFL draft classes and four NFL free agency periods, the offensive line that he vowed to fix is still a complete mess.

John Mara appears to be the new Dan Snyder of the division. Every decision he makes is wrong. He picks the wrong general managers and coaches. He spends hundreds of millions of dollars on players who aren’t very good. Offseason moves that look good on paper in March and April rapidly become a joke when the games count in September.

To sum up, nothing has gone right in 2021. Coaching, franchise quarterback, franchise running back, receiving targets, defense, management, and ownership all look like a mess. The optimists hoped and believed that the coaching staff was set, Daniel Jones would have a break out season, Saquon Barkley would regain his rookie form, Jones would have a plethora of dangerous weapons to throw to, the defense would be even better than it was in 2020, and that Dave Gettleman would ride off into retirement with the team clearly moving in the right direction. None of that happened. It appears the franchise is no further along than it was in 2014-2015 (12-20 under Tom Coughlin), 2016-2017 (14-18 under Ben McAdoo), 2018-2019 (9-23 under Pat Shurmur). The Giants are 10-18 under Joe Judge. They may not win another game this year. A decade of really, really bad football.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • QB Daniel Jones (neck – out)
  • QB Mike Glennon (concussion – probable)
  • WR Kenny Golladay (rib – questionable)
  • WR Kadarius Toney (oblique – out)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (ankle – probable)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (quad – questionable)
  • NT Danny Shelton (calf- questionable)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (quad – out)

THE FINAL WORD:
The Giants are going to lose on Sunday. We all know it. Worse, the team knows it. The only question is will the Giants keep the final score respectable or not.