Washington Redskins 20 – New York Giants 10
Following a hard-fought, borderline even emotional, win at home against the Kansas City Chiefs just four days prior to the Giants-Redskins Thanksgiving night match-up gave off the notion there was still plenty of grit left in this team. On the other side, Washington came limping in with a 4-6 record and following a horrific 4th-quarter loss in New Orleans. Their playoff hopes are alive but dwindling. Both teams were missing multiple key starters and we knew these factors, combined with a short week of preparation, would turn this into an old-school street fight between the two bottom feeders of the 2017 NFC East.
Eli Manning made his 210th consecutive start; this one being behind a line that was missing 3 starters (Pugh-Richburg-Fluker) and still without all 3 of his top wide receivers (Beckham-Marshall-Shepard).
The teams traded 3-and-outs to open up the game, with Evan Engram dropping a 3rd-and-4 pass. This was the first of three on the night for the rookie, the NFL’s leader in drops. On the game’s 6th possession, an offense finally ran more than 5 plays, as Washington got the ball across midfield. On 4th-and-1 from the NYG 41-yard line, a Cousins pass was broken up by Darian Thompson. NYG was in business with their best field position of the night as the end of the first quarter approached.
On 3rd-and-7 from the WAS 33-yard line after a few quality plays, Manning was sacked by Washington’s sack leader Ryan Kerrigan at the hands of Chad Wheeler for the second time. The 3rd down opportunity turned into a punt, again.
Following another 3-and-out by WAS where Landon Collins showed signs of all-over-the-field dominance; NYG started their 5th drive of the night on their own 28-yard line. Sixteen plays and 8:29 of game clock later, the Giants were up 3-0 via a 30-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas. The drive was smooth and steady with physical running by Orleans Darkwa, who excelled when running to the right side, and two 19 yard passes, one to Roger Lewis and one to Tavarres King. The lowlight, however, was a terrible misfire by Manning to Shane Vereen on a screen pass that had big play and potentially a touchdown written all over it.
With 1:04 remaining in the half Cousins went deep to Josh Doctson. The pass fell incomplete but Ross Cockrell was flagged for pass interference, a spot foul. That mistake by Cockrell was a 37-yard gain for WAS, putting them in easy field goal range and they were able to tie it at 3 heading into the half.
On the second WAS possession of the 3rd quarter, slot receiver Jamison Crowder provided the two biggest plays. First, a 33-yard reception, most of which was after the catch, and second, a 15-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-goal from the 15-yard line. Cousins ability to evade pressure with eyes downfield was a weapon the Giants defense could not handle.
The Giants offense was stalling and with a 10-3 lead past the halfway point of the 3rd quarter, WAS had the personnel and approach to bleed out the clock. The Redskins, thanks to a couple penalties, were forced into a 3rd-and-18 situation that led to Cousins making an errant throw off the hands of his receiver and into the waiting arms of Janoris Jenkins, who returned the interception for the lone Giants touchdown of the night. Jenkins leads the NFL in pick-sixes since 2011 and despite the negative attention he has gathered in recent weeks, stepped up to make a play that shifted the momentum in a big way.
The end of the 3rd quarter saw a development that beat the Giants up the rest of the way, and that was rookie running back Samaje Perine having his way with the Big Blue front seven. On six carries, he rushed for 50 yards. WAS ended up punting on that drive as the 4th quarter began, but it was a foreshadow of what the Giants would be struggling with on that side of the ball.
Offensively, NYG just couldn’t get anything going. They had four possessions in the 4th quarter, all of which resulted in a combined 12 plays, 44 net yards, one first down and a game-sealing interception with 1:08 left on the clock. Redskins win, 20-10.
- Eli Manning: 13/27 – 113 yards – 0 TD/1 INT. The 113 yards and 4.3 yards per attempt were the lowest we have seen out of Manning since 2007. The situation he is in just doesn’t get worse, Cleveland included. The Giants pass catchers lead the league in drops and the offensive line took a step back in comparison to what they have shown in recent weeks. Manning, in addition, misfired on a few occasions and continues his streak of games with more than four negative throws.
- Wayne Gallman: 9 att/37 yards. 2 rec/6 yards. More of the same from the 4th round rookie. Gallman is an excellent change-of-pace back who is explosive through traffic with great vision and agility. One of these upcoming games, he is going to break off a long TD. He is due.
- Orleans Darkwa: 11 att/30 yards. 1 rec/9 yards. Darwka had a nice stretch on NYG’s fifth drive of the game, but that was about it. There was minimal room for him to work with and he isn’t exactly a quick-reaction type back, thus he was being hit before he really got going. Darkwa won’t ever be a guy that can create on his own.
- Roger Lewis: 3 rec/26 yards. With Sterling Shepard still out, I said this would be the opportunity for Lewis to show the organization what he has. After last week’s big performance in the 4th quarter, Lewis did end up getting the most targets among the group. He had a big reception on 3rd down early, but after that he was a non-factor. He continues to struggle gaining any sort of separation against man coverage.
- Tavarres King: 2 rec/36 yards. King has turned into the one receiver on this team who can create on his own via movement. Whether he is running routes or making high-level receptions, there is some play-maker in him. On two occasions, however, it looked like he ran the wrong route from what I am guessing via the all-22 tape.
- Evan Engram: 3 rec/18 yards. Engram is officially in a slump, a rather significant one. He is leading the NFL in drops after adding three more to his season total. It has gotten into his head at this point and it will be up to him to force himself out of this mess. Rookie? Yes. But he needs to get this fixed sooner rather than later. His blocking received an above-average grade for the first time in three weeks, and overall on the year, he has been better than expected in that area.
- Rhett Ellison: 1 rec/9 yards. From week one, I’ve stated this guy needs to be on the field more than he is and he deserves more targets. He just isn’t in their playbook, it seems. But I don’t think it is a coincidence that the NYG rushing game took a step back this week along with the fact Ellison’s playing time dipped back below the 50% mark.
- Tackles: After a very impressive performance on the NYG home turf, undrafted rookie Chad Wheeler came back down to earth in his first road start. He allowed 2 sacks and 4 pressures, as Ryan Kerrigan beat him up inside and out. Ereck Flowers had his worst game in 6 weeks, being called for 2 penalties, allowing 1 pressure, and allowing 1 sack. This was the worst combo-grade we have seen from the tackles since early in the year.
- Interior: The lack of run-blocking presence was felt without D.J. Fluker in the mix. Jon Halapio made his first career start since being drafted in 2014. As he performed at training camp, he looked stiff and unable to block anything in space and/or after lateral movement. He confirmed that he doesn’t belong on the field with a grade well below average. John Jerry hit the point he has been hitting most of the year on the grading sheet, a few inches below average. He did get some quality movement early, but too often he whiffs and ends up chasing after his man. Brett Jones struggled mightily in pass protection when left alone. He appears over-matched when he is asked to do so. All three interior blockers finished below average on the grading sheet.
- Ends: It took 11 weeks, but the Giants finally got plus performances from both of their ends. Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon both played over 85% of the snaps, a feat in and of itself considering the nagging injuries they’ve been dealing with. They combined for 3.5 sacks and 10 tackles. They were active, hustling, and consistent from start to finish. Kerry Wynn played a few snaps but failed to make an impact.
- Tackles: The three-man rotation of Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Jay Bromley were over-matched by the interior blockers of WAS. Re-watching the tape, it was stunning to see how many times they were being blown off the ball 2-3 yards. It resulted in rookie Samaje Perine netting 100 yards for the second straight week, 97 of which came in the second half alone. Robert Thomas was also very poor in controlling the point-of-attack when he was in. As a group, it was their worst performance to date. Dalvin Tomlinson did record his first career sack.
- The most decimated unit on the team via injuries seems to he adding a new street free agent each week. Kelvin Sheppard, one of those recent signings, led the group with 7 tackles, as Jonathan Casillas added 6 of his own. Neither are stuffing the running lanes, however. They are struggling to impact the game with speed or power and neither are doing well in coverage, as the middle of the field continues to be the weakness of the NYG pass defense.
- Devon Kennard has been, and continues to be, one of the season’s bright spots. He recorded another sack via the interior pass rush. His versatility, especially on 3rd downs, is a weapon worth keeping around.
- Curtis Grant suffered a season-ending injury early in the game.
- The Giants lone touchdown of the night came from a pick six by Janoris Jenkins, his second of the year. Jenkins played an outstanding game in coverage and after watching the all-22 tape, his effort was not a problem at all. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had a quiet game in a good way, rarely being targeted.
- With Eli Apple out via a coach’s decision, Ross Cockrell got the start and played every defensive snap. He played a physical game and did a nice job in coverage, allowing under 50% of the balls thrown his way to be completed. Cockrell has been a very solid player considering what NYG had to give up for him. I think he is a keeper as a backup.
- Unfortunate injury for Donte Deayon, who was going to get the opportunity to show his worth to this team for the future. He broke his arm on a tackle attempt of Jamison Crowder, who had his way with Deayon prior to on a few occasions.
- Landon Collins and Darian Thompson shined again. Collins led the team with 14 tackles, 1 of which was for a loss. He was all over the field and did an outstanding job of anticipating plays and snaps. When you have a safety like this, the lack of ability at linebacker isn’t nearly as big of a deal. When this guy is playing a roaming role, especially against the run, he really is top notch. Thompson has improved in coverage mightily since the beginning of the year, being more assertive and quicker to react. He had two very nice, high-level pass break-ups.
- K Aldrick Rosas: 1/1 – Made 30 yds. Quiet night for the rookie kicker. McAdoo could have given him a 38-yard attempt, but opted to go for it on 4th-and-1.
- P Brad Wing: 9 punts – 41.2 avg. His net average was just 2 yards under his average, a solid number. He pinned WAS inside the 5 once.
- Return: Kalif Raymond returned 2 punts for a total of 8 yards.
- DE Jason Pierre Paul, DE Janoris Jenkins, S Landon Collins
- OT Chad Wheeler, DT Jay Bromley, QB Eli Manning
3 THOUGHTS ON WAS
- Samaje Perine is going to be a factor in this division for a long time. He specializes in short yardage but he will prove to be much more than that. He doesn’t go down on initial contact, always running through arm tackles and grinding out a defense. The combination of him and Chris Thompson in the future will be a tough, tough duo to play against.
- The Redskins have backed themselves into a corner with Kirk Cousins. They could have locked him up for a solid deal the past two years, but the mishandling is now going to cost them an extra few million per year. At this point, you just can’t let him walk via FA. There is no long term plan in place for WAS behind him and they won’t be picking high enough to select a franchise guy.
- The WAS offensive line is just, if not more, beat up than the NYG OL. However their backups come in and still played at a solid level. They’ve done a nice job building that group from top to bottom and it is something NYG should look at. Both how they did it and if one of them can be had via FA.
3 THOUGHTS ON NYG
- I can’t stress this enough: the situation Eli Manning has had to work with is the worst, or second worst to CLE, in the NFL. Everything about this offense when it comes to support of the QB is simply over-matched. Does it mean it is unfair to evaluate his play? Not exactly. There are still things he is doing wrong and/or at a low level each week. However, I’m not sure any QB in the league could succeed in this situation and I mean that.
- Are we seeing what this defense should have been all year? Collins is all over the field and appears to be in on every play. The ends are disruptive. The cornerbacks have played lock-down coverage the past 2 weeks. What could have been this year….what could have been. They woke up a little too late.
- Another issue I have had with this front office for years, and I know not everyone agrees, is the lack of resources devoted to the linebacker position. I am just sick and tired of signing street free agents of bottom-feeder type players to fill a role that impacts the run and pass so much. It is a direct relation to why the Giants have been absolutely killed by tight ends and slot receivers over the middle and the run defense has been so inconsistent. One of these years some money and/or a high pick needs to be used on a linebacker or two.