Sep 272015
 
Share Button

princess_bride_280

New York Giants 32 – Washington Redskins 21

Confusing Intro

Two 4th quarter leads blown, 0-2 and playing without your starting LT, best cover corner and best DL against a suddenly revitalized Washington Redskins (161 and 182 yards on the ground to open the year against two of the best defensive fronts in the league in St. Louis and Miami) team that vows to “Break the man in front of you”, were the Giants already dead in week three?  Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your team here is only MOSTLY dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there’s usually only one thing you can do.

It turns out the Giants did learn from their first two weeks, not taking their collective feet off the gas in a 32-21 win over the Washington Redskins. Staked to an early 9-0 bulge thanks to a Prince Amukamara INT and Rashad Jennings blocked punt for a safety, the Giants were never really threatened in this one despite a 101-yard kickoff return in the 4th quarter that cut a 32-14 lead to 32-21 and had to make some Giant fans wonder, are we going to cough up the lead again? Never fear, Kirk Cousins is here, and the former Spartan was again generous throwing 2 costly INTs, one inside his own 20 and another when it appeared the Skins were finally gaining some footing on offense. Questions will be raised about Tom Coughlin’s sanity again though, because with under 2 minutes left in the game he inexplicably chose to throw the ball on a 3rd-and-10, essentially gifting his opponent about 40 seconds of clock time late in the game for the second time in three weeks. Fortunately this was Kirk Cousins and not Matt Ryan or Tony Romo and the Skins final effort was an 8-play, 64-yard clunker that ended on a 26-yard garbage time run as time expired. The Giants are not quite dead, which means we can’t yet go through their pockets and look for loose change but we just might get a miracle if the teams in the NFC East keep losing players and we start to get some back next week against the Buffalo Bills.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 24, 2015)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Quarterbacks

My name is Eli Manning, you killed my first two games, prepare to die. Eli Manning started the game 8-of-8, looking sharp and decisive with the ball, seeming to involve Rueben Randle early to get the 4th-year pro in a groove to help this offense. Manning found Odell Beckham on a 4th-and-1 conversion on a simply perfect pass low and outside where only his WR could make the catch and again Beckham was on the receiving end of a perfectly-placed toss into the end zone to the high post. Despite the first two games and non-stop criticism, Eli stepped onto the big stage and did what Eli does, he played to win the game and he did just that. That is the Eli we want, that is the Eli we expect and with another makeshift OL, no real slot WR and a frustrating TE situation the Big E came up huge when he had to. Up 25 to 14, instead of going into a shell, Eli and company fired the dagger with a back shoulder pass to Rueben Randle that DB Bashaud Breeland (can someone name a kid Bill or Ted or something, ffs this is getting out of control) tipped, but Randle gathered it and went in for the score. Manning finished the day with 279 yards, 2 TDs and again no interceptions.

Running Backs

Andre Williams gets the first nod for his bruising TD run over left guard following a Prince Amukamara INT to stake the G-men to a 9-0 lead. Late in the 3rd quarter, Williams did his best Brandon Jacobs, in trucking FS Trenton Robinson on a 5-yard run that had to make Skins fans shudder at the memory of old #27 obliterating S LaRon Landry. Other than that, a pretty poor night for the backs again, with a paltry 2.7 ypc average with 11 yards as the long run of the night. This mix and match zone runs and power runs has the OL and backs tied up and simply not performing well at all. It may be time to see what Orleans Darkwa can do because this running game is dead in the water. FB Nikita Whitlock didn’t play many snaps on offense. RB Shane Vereen was held catchless and only touched the ball 6 times but his alert onside recovery saved what could have turned into another late game meltdown.

Rueben Randle, New York Giants (September 24, 2015)

Rueben Randle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Wide Receivers

Someone must have threatened to put Rueben Randle’s hand in warm water the next time he falls asleep if he didn’t show up this week, because the 4th-year former Bayou Bengal came out punching and didn’t let up. Randle ran a great DIG route on a 3rd-and-8 early in the 3rd to pick up a key conversion. To top things off, Randle pulled in a 3rd-and-10 with the Giants up 11 and only 3:33 left, and raced home for the game-clinching TD. Great night for Randle who finished with 116 yards on 7 grabs and the game-clinching TD. Superlatives simply don’t work anymore when discussing Odell Beckham Jr. He finished with a pedestrian (for him) 79 yards on 7 catches but his 4th-and-1 snag of a low slider from Eli and his effortless grab of a post in the end zone that was high and near a defender just shows how composed he is with the ball in the air and how much his QB trusts him.

Tight Ends

Washington-killer TE Larry Donnell killed a Giants drive midway through the 2nd quarter. An easy 3rd-and-7 conversion fell right through the 6’6” Donnell’s hands killing a drive that ended in a FG. The head scratcher? Donnell seemed to somersault just because he can on a 22-yard catch from Manning as the 4th quarter opened. I mean he didn’t fumble so that’s great but the non-induced gymnastics need to go. Every time he plays, Daniel Fells seems to have a big catch down the seam. Manning found Fells on a seam route on a Giants scoring drive midway through the second quarter. Fells deked LB Keenan Robinson with a jab step outside, got inside leverage and ran a perfect seam route for a 23-yard gain. He’s not flashy, but Fells is as fundamentally sound a TE as this team has had for some time.

Offensive Line

Without starting LT Ereck Flowers, things appeared to be grim against a Washington front that gave the Dolphins and Rams fits. Overall, not a bad job really, though at times RT Marshall Newhouse tried out his new skates when Ryan Kerrigan lined up over him. Newhouse did gave up some pressures, but kept a clean sheet and against a player of Kerrigan’s caliber that’s worth a pat on the backside. Not from me of course, that would be weird. The signal caller was kept clean all game and with few exceptions the pocket was fairly well-formed and stable most of the night. There was definitely pressure at times, but credit C Weston Richburg for keeping slight pressures from becoming drive-killing sacks by helping and switching to double team when needed. LT Justin Pugh acquitted himself well in rookie tough guy Flowers’ absence, and dare I say it, LG John Jerry played a pretty solid game, using his considerable backside to anchor well against a very big and very physical Washington front 7. Against bigger, physical lines, the 680 lb guard tandem of Geoff Schwartz and Jerry will actually be a big plus. C Weston Richburg largely goes unnoticed but ask Eli how much he appreciates room to step up into the pocket and the ability to dump off a screen pass and have his agile pivot man get out in front of the play and actually give it a shot. Another unsung improvement who won’t be on Sports Center or make the Daily News’ goofy headlines, but rest assured our 2nd year center is becoming exactly what this offense needs, a steady sturdy leader who can captain this young and now promising OL.

New York Giants Defense (September 24, 2015)

New York Giants Defense – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Defensive Line

Kerry Wynn made his mark early, knifing through on a 3rd down to drop Matt Jones for a loss and force punt #2. Wynn finished with 8 stops and a QB hit, and in case that doesn’t tell the story clearly, that would be a 128-tackle season for a DL. As a point of reference, Hall of Famer Michael Strahan’s best year was 2005 when he finished with 81 stops. Am I inducting Kerry Wynn into the Hall of Fame because he went to school in Virginia? Yes, yes I am. Wynn likely won’t ever make a Pro Bowl or spit pieces of a PBJ on a reporter, but make no mistake, #72 was a difference-maker all night against what was a vaunted Washington running game. Consistent backside tackles and an ability to hold the edge made Wynn a force all night. His linemates didn’t fill up the stat sheet, but play after play, the Giants DL played with outstanding technique, not allowing cut-back lanes, shutting off the edge and forcing bruising RBs Matt Jones and Alfred Morris to churn out yards inside. The G-Men held the W’s to 88 yards, 26 of it on a last-second run that can easily be tossed out to show how dominant this group was all night. Cool moment of the night: FB/DT Nikita Whitlock had an impressive 360 spin to get in Cousins face from the NT spot and force an incompletion. With the Skins down 19 entering the 4th quarter, it was pin your ears back time and the Giants DL didn’t get much in the way of sacks, though Kerry Wynn and Jay Bromley each chipped in with a couple of QB hurries. That lack of pressure may come back to bite this group eventually but we’ll take this one week at a time and worry about that when and if it happens.

Linebackers

OLB Devon Kennard just keeps making play after play. The 2nd-year former Trojan LOVES contact and it shows. Kennard’s ability to shock with his hands is something this team hasn’t seen since Carl Banks roamed the Meadowlands. What made Banks such a dynamic run and edge defender was his ability to stay square and “shock” or jolt the man blocking him violently with his hands, holding the vaunted edge and controlling the running game. Kennard does the same thing when asked in 3-4 sets, and he gets better every week at it. It’s not glamorous, it’s not cool but key on #59 a few times and watch how violent his hands are and how aggressively he defeats blocks of 300lb lineman with ease. It’s a beautiful thing. LB Jonathan Casillas may have had the whiff of the game when he was handed a perfect blitz and clean shot at Kirk Cousins and he ran right past the QB. It was coincidentally the same fake-blitz-that-becomes-a-blitz that LB Kawika Mitchell executed in Super Bowl 42 to hurry a Tom Brady throw. At the snap, Casillas takes a drop step into his zone, then zips inside a lane created by the DL, only to miss a chance at a sack. Casillas was almost victimized by TE Jordan Reed who had flown past the LB into the end zone but Kirk Cousined it and the Skins were forced to kick the oblong pigskin for points. LB Jon Beason returned from his latest injury room vacation but didn’t register a tackle or have really any impact in limited action. He did avoid a season-ending injury so let’s call that a win. Beason’s understudy (hoping to make the journey from Milan to Minsk) Uani’ Unga picked off a Cousins’ pass with the Skins driving and the G-Men up 12. And with the Giants scoring on the ensuing possession, that INT turned out to be a huge moment in the game. It was of course tipped by Devon Kennard who had perfect coverage on the play and batted the ball into the air, so just get used to 59 making things happen seemingly all over the field. Unga could be blamed on Chris Thompson’s TD catch late in the 4th quarter as the old-young rookie failed to get sufficient depth in his drop, opening a small window for the Cousins pass.

Landon Collins, New York Giants (September 24, 2015)

Landon Collins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Defensive Backs

Prince Amukamara, victimized by Julio Jones and the Falcons game-winning drive, redeemed himself instantly with an INT inside Washington territory that led to an early and easy TD. The Prince batted away a pass to a seemingly-open Pierre Garcon. S Landon Collins looks like he’s rounding into form, making a key breakup early in the 2nd quarter against athletic TE Jordan Reed. Collins had Reed in man coverage all the way and Collins looked to be beaten but he closed down quickly, read Reed’s eyes and turned to find the ball and knock it away at the last second. The ball could have been thrown a bit better, but credit Collins with one of those little smart football things (watching a WRs eyes when running with him to find the ball) that don’t get enough credit. Heady play by the rookie. I bemoaned the signing of S Brandon Meriweather, but thus far #22 has been a solidifying force in the secondary. His strong effort around the line of scrimmage and ability to support the run game have been critical in this defense’s ability to limit ground yardage. Everyone’s favorite punching bag now that Markus Kuhn is on the pine, is undoubtedly CB Jayron Hosley, but the former weird giant turkey mascot school product was solid save for a pass interference call in what was probably his best game as a Giant in coverage.

Special Teams

Finally, finally something special! Rashad Jennings of all people, called for a running into the kicker play that was wiped out by offsetting penalties, came back on the re-do and blocked P Tress Way’s offering into the end zone for an early safety and a silly looking 2-0 lead. I’ll be honest, I really wanted the game to end 2-0. Rueben Randle tried his best to be Chris Calloway as the Redskins last ditch onside kick glanced off the WR’s..well his everything, but Shave Vereen corralled the ball and finally put the team at ease that a victory was within reach, almost. After Rueben Randle’s TD put the G-men up 32-14, disaster struck again as a 101-yard kickoff return for a TD put the game AGAIN on edge but the ensuing onside kick flashed through Randle’s hands, not making contact and the Giants could finally breathe easy.

Coaching

Two simply head scratching calls on 3rd downs from Ben McAdoo. One was an out to TE Daniel Fells, not even close to the first down. And the other was the EXACT same play late in the 3rd that tied up Larry Donnell like a young Bruce Wayne finding all those bats in that hole. Swatting, panicking, falling, Donnell looked awful, but even if caught, he’s 5 yards short. With the best WR in…I would say NFL, most would call me nuts so let’s go best WR in the stadium…and a 6’2” slot WR at your disposal, you decide that slow, sessile TEs should get the ball 5 yards shy of the first down marker because they are so very fast? Mind numbing play calls. That said, McAdoo kept at the run despite it not working to keep the defense honest and eventually it broke the game open as the G-Men erupted for 32 points against a thus far stingy Washington defense that had held the Dolphins and Rams in check.

Nobody gets ‘em ready like old Tommy C. Think about this for a moment. 0-2, he’s too old, his eyes seem more beady than usual (according to me only but seriously they are way beadier now), no Ereck Flowers, no Victor Cruz, no DRC, no Robert Ayers, on short rest against a confident and physical Washington team. The Giants came out and again fought from whistle to whistle, scrapping on defense, specials and offense wire to wire. It’s too early to know what this season will hold, but give Tom an A+++ for game preparation this week with an undermanned squad and tons of pressure, his charges came out swinging. That said, the throw on 3rd down with Washington out of time outs was another late-game head scratcher. My guess is he wanted to be aggressive and get the first down and ice the game since being conservative has led to blowing two 10-point 4th-quarter leads. Not the worst idea given that Randle scored on a similar play a drive earlier, but you have to bleed the clock in that situation, take the extra 40 seconds off and don’t risk stopping the clock there.

By now you all know how I feel about Spags. I love the way he attacks and I love the confidence and speed his teams play with. He has a rookie and a has-been at safety who have had rough patches but overall have acquitted themselves well. He has LBs who can’t cover and LBs who can’t play the run and he actually uses them according to their strengths. This is a team devoid of difference makers on defense. But the speed and aggression they play proves that the whole is better than the sum of its parts and team defense can keep you in games if everyone believes. And this group does.

Inside the Game 

So how are the Giants thus far throttling teams on the ground with the same cast of characters that former DC Perry Fewell led to a 30th-place finish in rushing yards allowed with a whopping 135.1 yards per game against, and dead last in yards-per-attempt at 4.9 yards per carry? FOUR POINT NINE yards per carry, let that sink in for a moment; it means if you run the ball twice you’re looking at 3rd and 7.2 inches to go on average. Through three games, admittedly a small sample size, Steve Spagnuolo’s group is 2nd in yards, giving up 74.7 yards per game and tied for 4th in yards per attempt at 3.4 yards per carry. So what’s been the one big difference? It’s been discussed before, but here it is: the 4-3 shift to a Base 50 or Oklahoma 5-2 front utilizing OLB Devon Kennard as the edge setting run weapon and utilizing 320lb DT Jonathan Hankins as a true nose tackle who can alter the game from that spot. (Captions below pics).

4-3

Notice in this frame, the Skins come out with 3 WRs, 1 TE and one RB, and motion the WR across the formation to get the Giants to shift to the backside of the play, presumably to open up a hole outside the TE and up the field on the right. The Skins had drummed the vaunted Rams front to the tune of 182 rushing yards with similar plays that hemmed in the Rams DEs and neutralized speedy and disruptive DT Aaron Donald.

5-2

As the WR goes in motion, so too does LB Devon Kennard, who shifts to his OLB role, creating what is now a 5-2 front. This shift to get Kennard up to the LOS had worked well in weeks 1 and 2, but the Skins are ready and are running AWAY from Kennard on the play.

OH

DE George Selvie gets hooked initially and a big lane opens up. But the shift by the Redskins – designed to get safety Brandon Meriweather to slide inside as a true FS as safety Landon Collins is forced to follow the WR in motion and play in the slot, and isolate CB Jayron Hosley on the edge – play side doesn’t work. A big hole develops as you can see above. RB Alfred Morris now has a huge lane to run in, but S Brandon Meriweather, instead of shifting inside to safety to cover for S Landon Colllins, moved up to play CB and take on the block of the WR, as CB Jayron Hosley sat back to put a body in the hole and allow his teammates to “screw down” or move their blockers down the LOS to collapse a running lane. Had Hosley moved to the WR and Meriweather slid back to FS, this play could potentially go for a score or at least a very long gain but Spagnuolo’s trust (or gamble) in leaving CB Prince Amukamara and S Landon Collins in man coverage on the backside means the priority is stifling the ground game.

ch

Hosley’s presence and Meriweather’s physicality in fighting off the WR’s block cause Morris to stutter step in the hole and cost himself the advantage his TE and RT had initially created. The play goes for 6 yards, a win for the offense usually, but this was a home run-type of running play a year ago. But because the focus on stopping the ground game is clearly a priority, Spags was ready with a smart non-backside play shift that kept a bigger more physical safety to take on a wide receiver’s block and two DEs outside of the NT to help screw down and close the hole after Morris was forced to hesitate. That hesitation cost Morris a huge gain and showed precisely how this team is more prepared and willing to sell out to stop the run. The Skins shift does get Kennard up on the line and moves him away from the play, but it does NOT get Meriweather to slide inside, which would have left Hosley on an island. Chalk one up to the Giants on that one for seeing a tendency, seeming to play into it but having a plan to counter on the backside.

Cram it in your Cramhole Award

It has to go to the Washington team for having the unmitigated gall to hire Perry Fewell. I still have sleepless nights thinking about the Seahawks running for 875 yards against us (dramatization, may have been fewer) and they not only hire the dolt but SHOW HIM ON TV! OK, technically it’s CBS’ fault for showing him but I firmly believe that I speak for all Giant fans, DO NOT SHOW PERRY FEWELL ON TV. Not now…not ever. Just don’t do it. Thankfully Fewell learned nothing in his time here and was totally unable to slow down a passing offense he saw in person every single day. Don’t ever change Perry, you stink and we love you for it…now that you’re gone of course.

(Washington Redskins at New York Giants, September 24, 2015)
Sep 232015
 
Share Button
Tuffy Leemans, New York Giants (October 1, 1939)

Tuffy Leemans with ball, New York Giants at Washington Redskins (October 1, 1939)

Washington Redskins at New York Giants, September 24, 2015

THE STORYLINE:
Who are the 2015 New York Giants? On paper, they are a young team led by the oldest and most experienced head coach in the NFL and a 34-year old, two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback. They currently only have one offensive weapon – Odell Beckham – who really scares the opposition in the passing game. The running game remains too unproductive and inconsistent. Defensively, the Giants appear to be a spunky group that lacks any impact player. They can’t rush the passer and they can’t close the deal in the 4th quarter. And once again, it’s a team that simply can’t stay healthy (8 players on Injured Reserve, 13 on the injury report).

The Giants should have stolen the game from the Cowboys, and not the other way around. They had the Falcons on the ropes until another 4th quarter meltdown. Is it a lack of talent? Bad coaching decisions at the wrong moments? Lack of confidence and expecting the worst to happen? Probably a combination of all of the above.

The issue now is that for the third season in a row, the Giants find themselves in a very bad 0-2 hole and risk making themselves irrelevant once again before November. Their saving grace is the state of the rest of the NFC East. It’s almost as if they’ve been given one final second chance. Don’t blow it Giants.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Victor Cruz (calf – out)
  • OT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP and will not play)
  • TE Daniel Fells (foot – probable)
  • TE Jerome Cunningham (knee – out)
  • LT Ereck Flowers (ankle – doubtful)
  • RG Geoff Schwartz (illness – probable)
  • DE Robert Ayers (hamstring – questionable)
  • DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot – out)
  • DE/DT Cullen Jenkins (hamstring – probable)
  • DT Markus Kuhn (knee – out)
  • DT Jay Bromley (knee – probable)
  • LB Jon Beason (knee – probable)
  • CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromarties (concussion – out)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Through two games, the Washington Redskins have the NFL’s #1 defense. It is #4 against the run and #2 against the pass. Part of that is due to having faced two offensively-challenged teams in the Miami Dolphins and St. Louis Rams. But the Redskins also shut down a Rams team that had just beaten the NFC Champions.

The Redskins operate a 3-4 defense under new defensive coordinator Joe Barry. The defensive line was largely rebuilt in free agency with the additions of nose tackle Terrance Knighton and left defensive end Stephen Paea. Ex-Cowboy Jason Hatcher still mans the right defensive end position. Their job is to keep the Redskins talented and active linebackers free. Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan is an aggressive, physical football player who can rush the passer. The other outside linebacker – Trent Murphy – is similar in style and a former 2nd round pick. Inside linebackers Keenan Robinson and Perry Riley make a lot of tackles. (Riley has been bothered by a calf injury).

Despite Washington’s #2 ranking against the pass, the Redskins could still be vulnerable in the secondary. They imported cornerback Chris Culliver and safety Dashon Goldson in the offseason from the 49ers and Buccaneers, respectively, to go along with cornerback DeAngelo Hall and safety Trenton Robinson. They really haven’t been tested yet by a serious passing game.

The Giants did the right thing in cutting Preston Parker. Unless he gets his head out of his ass quickly, I would be tempted to do the same with Rueben Randle. I’d rather take my chances with no-names like Geremy Davis and Julian Talley who at least look like they are giving an effort.

The Giants need to get the God-damn running game going. No excuses. You have four backs who you have invested a lot of resources in. Use them. Put Daniel Fells in at tight end and Nikita Whitlock at fullback and run the football. When throwing the football, look to Odell Beckham and Shane Vereen. Perhaps the site of Burgundy and Gold will inspire Larry Donnell to re-visit his three-TD game against the Redskins from last season.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The game plan is simple. Stop the run. Make the Redskins one dimensional and force Kirk Cousins to beat you. It’s easier said than done as ex-Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan appears to be doing marvelous job with a group that really struggled in the preseason. The Redskins are the #1 rushing team in the NFL despite facing two teams with very talented defensive lines. Trent Williams is one of the more talented (but sometimes inconsistent) left tackles in the NFL and the Redskins have high draft picks – Brandon Scherff at guard and Morgan Moses at tackle – manning the reinvigorated right side of the line. The two-head monster at tailback is Alfred Morris and rookie Matt Jones – both big, physical backs. This is old school football. The Redskins are going to attempt to pound the Giants right at the point-of-attack. Washington will challenge the toughness and manhood of Big Blue.

The good news for the Giants is that WR DeSean Jackson (hamstring) will not play. The two main threats in the passing game are WR Pierre Garcon and TE Jordan Reed (who is more of a dynamic H-Back). These are Kirk Cousins’ two go-to guys. Cousins is an up-and-down quarterback. Right now he is incredibly completing 76 percent of his passes but he will make the bone-headed turnover.

This is a game where the Giants front seven and secondary will have to play very tough, physical football for a full 60 minutes against the run. Defending the ground attack will be more important than rushing the passer in this game. The Giants will have to play their big boys up front. Do that and cover Garcon and Reed.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
The Giants are much better on special teams than the Redskins. This is an opponent where the team’s offseason additions could finally have a game-altering impact.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Tom Coughlin on the Washington Redskins: “Kirk Cousins, their quarterback, his percentage of completions is at 75 percent. They’re the number one rush team in the league, they’re the number two time of possession team in the league – almost 38 minutes a game. The opponent just doesn’t have the ball. Defensively, they’re number one in the league, fourth against the rush, second against the pass.”

THE FINAL WORD:
Through two games, the Redskins have proven to be a very fundamentally-sound football team. They are the #1 rushing team and the #1 defense in the NFL. The big worry here is stopping the Redskins ground game. That’s the key to the game.

For the last few years, we’ve heard the coaches and players say, “There’s still time to turn this around.” For the last few years, they’ve been dead wrong. It’s put up or shut up time right now. Or the empty seats will start appearing at MetLife in October, and that’s just plain sad. Play the run. Hit. Tackle. Run the football. Get the ball to Beckham and Vereen in the passing game. Make plays on special teams.

Most importantly, to paraphrase Ulysses S. Grant, stop worrying about what other teams are going to do to you and make them worry about what you are going to do to them!

This game has some deja vu qualities to it to 2007. That 0-2 Giants team, with a new defensive coordinator named Steve Spagnuolo, won a nail-biter against the Redskins in week three. It was a win that propelled the Giants to a 6-game winning streak and much more significant results. It doesn’t have to be pretty. Just win. Then get Victor Cruz back and start making some hay.

Sep 212015
 
Share Button

quint-jaws

Atlanta Falcons 24 – New York Giants 20

Gruesome Introduction

Y’all know me. Know how I earn a livin’. I’ll write this review for you, but it ain’t gonna be easy. Bad team. Not like going down the playoffs chasin’ Packers and Patriots. This season, swallow you whole. Little shakin’, little tenderizin’, an’ down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that’ll bring back your fans, put all your businesses on a payin’ basis. But it’s not gonna be pleasant. I value my neck a lot more than 2 Super Bowls in 9 years, chief. I’ll write it for free, but I’ll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you’ve gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then read up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don’t want no volunteers, I don’t want no mates, there’s just too many coaches on this team. $10,000 for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing.

Game Overview

Just like Quint, old Tommy Coughlin has no fear. He faces the doubters and the beat writers just as he does every week but just like our foul mouthed hero from the 1975 film classic Jaws, he may be eaten before the final credits roll. His half-assed astronaut Eli Manning needs to clean up and clean up fast. On the heels of an $84 million dollar extension, the 34-year old signal caller has blown two games all by himself. Blame the defense, blame the secondary, and blame inexperienced kids Uani’ Unga and Landon Collins if you want to, but with the game in his hands for the second week in a row, Eli just coughed up the game. Up 20-10 and driving deep into Falcons territory to put the game on ice, Easy E held and held and held the ball just long enough to cough it up and let the Falcons take possession and march to a 20-17 deficit. Driving midway through the fourth, Eli fumbled the ball forward only to have TE Larry Donnell save him with a miracle 1st down recovery. Fast forward to the undermanned defense coming up with a Robert Ayers sack, Landon Collins shot on WR Julio Jones and Brandon Merriweather of all people breaking up a 3rd and 3. Giants ball, time to ice the game and on 3rd and 7, Manning and his $84 million fail to get a snap off in time, turning a 3rd and 7 into an impossible 3rd and 12 and a Giant punt. Eli had one more chance to rescue the day, with 1:14 left and one of the most dynamic players in the NFL at his disposal, and he failed again. A big overthrow to a wide open, jumping and 6’6” Larry Donnell was followed by a sloppy pass to the inexplicably utilized WR Preston Parker and a 4th and 10 became an underthrow, a drop and another 4th quarter 10 point collapse.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 20, 2015)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Quarterbacks

Show me the way to go home, Eli’s tired and he wants to go to bed. At this point, it’s all on Eli. No Victor Cruz, a hobbled and disinterested Rueben Randle, a useless Preston Parker and only one decent target in Odell Beckham Jr. and this offense is squarely on the shoulders of the “franchise” QB and he has failed two weeks in a row. Give him credit I suppose for staking the team to a 20-10 lead, but the boneheaded sack and fumble, near disastrous forward fumble, overthrow to Donnell, delay of game on 3rd down and just flat out awful pass due to…shocking…poor mechanics on a 4th and 10 and yes, Eli Manning gets the goat horns for week #2. Eli’s 292 yards, two TDs and no INTs all went for naught because when the game was on the line, he flat out failed his team, his franchise and his Quint, who will likely be eaten whole in about 15 weeks. Put the blame on Eli too for WR Dwayne Harris’ false start that negated a 4th down conversion deep in Falcons territory. Manning waited too long to get the team to the line, motioned too late and put Harris in an impossible position. Twelve years in, you know what you have, brilliant one minute, head shakingly stupid the next.

Running Backs

Earth, Wind and Fire have returned! Rashad Jennings moves like the Earth (mud, specifically, old dried up mud, not at the 1,000 mph that our beloved blue planet zips around the sun), Andre Williams is as unpredictable as fire and well I guess Shane Vereen can be wind when it’s not whipping tiny rocks at your face. Williams led the Giants backs with a whopping 43 yards on 6 carries (35 of it on one impressive run) and again looked hesitant and confused at times toting the rock. I’ve been a believer in his talent but in year 2 of this offense, Williams still looks wildly inconsistent and unsure of himself. Rashad Jennings had a couple of early runs that looked solid, but he seemed to slow down in the second half, could be something injury wise that bears watching. That said, Jennings’ and his 12 yards on 9 carries would be stellar if he played for Chip Kelly, but #23 looked slow, tentative and just plain bad after halftime on Sunday. Weapon X appears to be Shane Vereen, who nabbed 8 balls for 76 yards receiving but did little to nothing on the ground with 57 on 6 carries. Yes feet. It looks much more impressive and with this horror movie offense that leaves you screaming to watch out for the blitzer behind the door, we need something positive. Vereen gives the team a horizontal dimension that is absolutely critical for the West Coast Offense to operate effectively. If LBs and DBs have to stay wide and contain Vereen out the backfield, that’s less deep help to apply to #13 and company.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (September 20, 2015)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Wide Receivers

Odell Beckham Jr., is still pretty good. Beckham took a slant from Manning in the 2nd quarter and sprinted 67 yards to pay dirt to tie the game at 10, showing why this team will have a chance as long as #13 is vertical. Beckham had another spectacular-but-looks-routine catch on the Giants first scoring drive, he’s simply that good and ended the day with 7 grabs for 146 yards and a touchdown. Mr. Parker…zero point zero. Wide open drop on an out route with the first half winding down and a 4th and 10 miss to seal the loss. If I’m Tom Coughlin, I suddenly wonder why I’m so old and how my hair grew back and what am I doing with all this money? Then I cut Preston Parker. Rueben Randle, at age 24 simply doesn’t seem to care, get it or he’s in danger of losing a leg which on this team is entirely possible. We’ll drink to his legs..for now. One catch for 5 yards and a sloppy drop do nothing to provide any confidence that #82 is a part of this team’s future. Randle did have an outstanding down field block on Vereen’s 37 yard scamper early in the 3rd quarter. I thought it was a jaunt, maybe a dash, but upon further review, definitely a scamper.

Tight Ends

Larry Donnell absolutely blew a block on a key 3rd down play, not even knowing who to block and ending a drive but Donnell did redeem himself on a well-run DIG route that ended in a 10 yard scoring pass from his blockhead QB. Donnell set up the DB with a subtle head fake, worked inside and used his body to keep the defender at bay. That type of play shows just how far the former Grambling QB has come as a receiver, but he’s still light years away from being more than a liability as a blocker.

Offensive Line

Decent effort by the move ‘em out…or in this case, kind of try to shove them back a little gang. LT Ereck Flowers had a rocky day, picking up an early false start on the Giants opening drive and looking like he was fighting off Vic  Beasley on several occasions but the big rookie held his own on a bum ankle. Big Flowers is another cog that will be a key piece for this team to build on. Flowers did not return for long after halftime, with LG Justin Pugh sliding out to LT and BBI punching bag John Jerry in at LG. No terrifying moments really, 97 yards rushing and 2 sacks in a way tell the story. Not so bad, but just not good enough yet with so many other units making game crushing mistakes. The OL is however not a disaster, and appears to be on the way up assuming Flowers’ ankle injury isn’t season long. The biggest difference from a year ago, is that C Weston Richburg isn’t being tossed crash test dummy style into Eli’s lap about 5 times a game as his predecessor was prone to doing. A clean pocket will be essential to building this team as the year unfolds and so far Richburg and LG Justin Pugh are holding serve. RG Geoff Schwartz was solid, with the exception of a run play that he was absolutely blown past by DT Jonathan Babineaux.

Defensive Line

John Lynch’s awkward man crush on Robert Ayers Jr. aside, #91 was the best defender on the field, swatting down 3 passes from the DT spot on key 3rd downs. Ayers is not being asked to play the run as much by Steve Spagnuolo and it’s having a big impact on Ayers’ ability to be fresh to rush the passer. I’ve been critical of Ayers because his run fits give me fits, but credit where it’s due, Ayers played one hell of a game on Sunday. The rest of DL was strong against the run, often using pure 3-4 looks with Robert Ayers and Devon Kennard as the OLBs. It’s a one-gapping 3-4 or Base 50, or shaded Oklahoma 5-2 (that all depends on how old you are) that refuses to give up the edge and uses penetration in an A gap to force runs wide and shut off the backside cut lanes. DT Cullen Jenkins had what appeared to be a key sack, an Jonathan Hankins was a handful inside for the Falcons, fighting off double teams on nearly every play.

Linebackers

Another year, another blah group of LBs who just can’t seem to find anyone when in pass coverage. As least Uani’ Unga seems to have something (all of his fingers and two working knees) that most key Giant defenders who are missing lack. Unga gets turned around way too easily in coverage and loses his place on the field leading to way too many pass catchers wide open down the seams of this defense. BUT, he’s a gamer, he plays with effort and again, he’s not in a full body cast so I’m encouraged that Unga can grow into a serviceable MLB if he doesn’t lose a limb in practice or some bizarre holiday accident. In fact, I’m going on the record here, I want ZERO Giant defenders carving Jack-O-Lanterns, slicing turkey, trying to break a wish bone or putting an angel on a tree as we embark on Holiday season. No exterior illumination efforts, no champagne uncorking, and for God’s sake no shoveling or de-icing. The bright spot for this LB corps (yes corps, like the Marine Corps, it’s a group) is 2nd year LB Devon Kennard who led the team with 9 stops and was a force against the run and while pass rushing. Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is using Kennard all over the field and most importantly not asking him to do much coverage wise, instead opting for speedy LB Jonathan Casillas on obvious passing downs. J.T. Thomas had 7 stops, but I honestly can’t recall one, too much drag down tackling and not enough attacking thus far for the former Mountaineer.

Defensive Backs

S Landon Collins is having his rookie moments, but as will be a theme this year, watch him grow and play full speed and by the end of this campaign we should have a core (Yes core as in apple, center of it, not corps like Marine Corps. Learn the difference or I will..well I’ll do nothing but it’s annoying that the two are so often flubbed) DB to count on. DRC plays, he gets hurt every time he does anything but unlike some firework happy players who shall remain namelessjpp, DRC comes with it on every play. Rodgers-Cromartie hurt his shoulder and his brain making high effort tackles against the screen happy and quite frankly annoying Falcons offense. It’s good to see the referees throw in the towel when DRC got up wobblier than Apollo Creed on the heels of Ivan Drago’s murderpunch. CB Prince Amukamara gave up the game’s biggest play, but this defense is going to gamble and the CBs have to hold up. Prince played well but with the game on the line he simply got beat by Julio Jones and there’s not a ton to say about that. Give DB coach David Merritt credit, he has been destroyed by injuries to an already so-so safety group and he has 32-year old S Brandon Merriweather playing solid football. It may not last all season, but Merriweather has been a pleasant plus with a little bit of force at S with no real big mistakes.

Special Teams

Butthead said it best while watching a lackluster video with his good pal Beavis “These effects aren’t very special” and neither are these teams but it’s Tom Quinn and his envelope full of nudes vs. other competent ST coaches and as usual we did nothing special. Despite tossing $17 million at Dwayne Harris and his festive hairdo, the Giants apparently can’t find shoes that can grip their turf, with Harris wiping out on nearly every return that showed promise. Brad Wing is a punter, he punted, and I don’t care. He didn’t Dodge anything up and that’s enough for me.

Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (September 20, 2015)

Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Coaching Staff

Too many mistakes to give Quint a lot of credit this week. Give the headman some due, he took the blame, got his team ready and had a 20-10 lead in the 4th quarter until it all fell apart like anything made in Detroit in the mid-1980s. Back-to-back false starts by Odell Beckham and Ereck Flowers, an inexcusable false start by a WR on a converted 4th down, along with dropped passes and more Manning brain toots mean TC may have to be more Grumpy Old Men then Grandpa Simpson if he wants to right this ship.

Ben McAdoo better get his synapses firing and find a way to utilize more than 2 people or this team may not win a game. Beckham hauls in ONE pass after half time, that’s not good enough no matter what coverage is rolled his way. McAdoo is doing a solid job, but he has to be more creative. McAdoo did something I did like a great deal on two occasions. On TE Larry Donnell’s TD in the 3rd quarter, McAdoo ran the same play two times in a row because it was open. The first attempt Donnell was held and it wasn’t called; the very next play he did it again and it resulted in a 20-10 lead. McAdoo did the same thing in the 4th quarter on Rueben Randle’s lone grab a play after Randle just dropped the exact same ball. McAdoo isn’t shying away from what works and he’ll keep going to the well if something works.

The Fire Zone Explained

FZ1

Why do I love Steve Spagnuolo? He loves the fire zone and the fire zone loves him. On the line you see a modified “Bear” front with a true NT (Hankins), a 3-technique (Cullen Jenkins), two 5s (Selvie and Ayers), a LB in a shaded 4 (Unga) and two wide 9s (Kennard and Thomas). Throw in Landon Collins playing the Elephant or Flex (the key to the old Double Eagle Flex of U of Arizona’s Desert Swarm fame) and you have 8 people who have to be accounted for by 5 OL and one TE.

FZ2

On the snap, Hankins games right, taking the OC and LG with him. Ayers hesitates, to keep the LT in outside leverage, unable to help the LG, and DT Cullen Jenkins knifes in easily in the gap to sack Matt Ryan. No Strahan, no Osi, No Tuck, no Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle hand and Spags finds a way to get heat with scheme and technique.

Cram it in your Cramhole Award

Yes it’s back, the CIIYCA because I still love Dodgeball. This week it should go to Eli Manning but in a surprise twist, it goes to Kyle Shanahan who will eventually get Julio Jones killed. Granted Jones won the game with his 4th quarter catch against Prince Akeem from Zamunda, but 135 yards on 13 catches and more bubble screens than an elite WR should be forced to endure is just not the best of use this amazing talent. Jones took a shot or laid out every time he touched the ball because Shanahan loves to wear out unique talents (Obertray Riffingay) with way too much punishment. Jones got whacked by Brandon Merriweather, dragged down violently by S Landon Collins and blasted again by Collins. Atlanta’s best player won’t last the season if he’s being beaten up 10-15 times a game.

(Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants, September 20, 2015)
Sep 182015
 
Share Button
Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (October 5, 2014)

Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants, September 20, 2015

THE STORYLINE:
The Atlanta Falcons are an odd football team. At times, they can look like world beaters. At other times, they look terrible. They have a new regime under former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and they won their home opener in an impressive performance against the Philadelphia Eagles. Historically speaking, the Falcons don’t play as well on the road as they do at home.

But this game is more about how the Giants respond to their devastating loss to the Cowboys. Have they mentally put that game past them? Can they harness their anger and focus it against the Falcons? Because if they can’t do those things, the match-ups and game plans won’t really matter. The Giants need to win this football game. They need to even their record at 1-1.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Victor Cruz (calf – out)
  • OT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP and will not play)
  • TE Daniel Fells (foot – out)
  • LT Ereck Flowers (ankle – probable)
  • DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot – out)
  • DT Markus Kuhn (knee – out)
  • LB Jon Beason (knee – doubtful)
  • LB Uani’ Unga (knee – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Somewhat lost in the drama of this past week is the fact that the highly-touted passing offense of the New York Giants laid a huge egg in Dallas. Eli Manning passed for less than 200 yards and the wide receiving corps had fewer than 100 yards. If that doesn’t change – and fast – the Giants are going to be terrible this year.

Based on what coaches and players are telling us, the opposition is playing a lot of two deep coverage, doubling Odell Beckham, and daring the Giants to beat them by running the football or targeting other receivers. Wouldn’t you? This is the type of defensive game plan the Giants are going to face all year until (1) Victor Cruz comes back and proves he can still play at a high level, and/or (2) the Giants can demonstrate they can consistently run the football.

Picture any opposing defensive coordinator repeating, “We’re not going to let Beckham beat us deep!”

So what should the Giants do? First, I’m a firm believer of coaches putting their best players in position to make plays and win football games. It’s hard to double Beckham if you keep moving him around. Put him in motion. Have him play out of the slot, the backfield, split out wide. Force the defense to adjust. Keep in mind this is a new defensive system for the Falcons too and they may be prone to mental mistakes.

Second, if you were facing the Giants, aside from Beckham, who would scare you the most? Probably not Larry Donnell. Certainly not Preston Parker. “Make them throw to Donnell and Parker to beat us!”  I would get the ball into the hands of my running backs more, both running the football behind Ereck Flowers and Justin Pugh, as well as Shane Vereen in space in the passing game.

Which brings us to Rueben Randle, who exploded in his last two games of 2014 but was practically a non-factor on Sunday night. The Giants need him to be a viable #2 receiver right now – a guy who can put up 100 yards receiving and not just 20 or 30. His game is the vertical game and making big plays down the field, particularly on post routes where he can use his size and athleticism.

As for the Atlanta defense, based on a limited sample size of just one game, they are much more physical and aggressive than they were just a year ago. Their new head coach has brought Seahawks’ defensive scheme with him. Quinn doesn’t have Richard Sherman at cornerback but he does have Desmond Trufant, who is one of the best in the business. Trufant will be looking to make headlines by taking Beckham out of the game. Odell has to elevate his game, like he did against Sherman last year. The other Atlanta corners are not as good or are inexperienced. If Randle and Parker can’t make plays against Robert Alford, it’s time to worry. The Falcons use big safety Will Moore near the line of scrimmage, almost like an extra linebacker. He’s a big hitter and can be a problem in the run game. Fellow safety Ricardo Allen is tiny, but good in coverage. They will likely use him to help out on Beckham.

The Falcons have good defensive line depth. Rookie 1st rounder Vic Beasley is very small, but exceptionally quick and fast. The Falcons like to move him around. Beasley could be a serious match-up problem for the tackles in pass protection. Want to take the edge off of him? Have Flowers maul the shit out him in the run game. The two starting defensive tackles (Ra’Shede Hageman and Paul Soliai) and other starting end (Tyson Jackson) are big and tough against the run. Reserve Jonathan Babineaux is disruptive. The linebackers are probably the weak spot on the defense although O’Brien Schofield can rush the passer.

My game plan would be to run the football, especially to the left. I would try to match-up Shane Vereen and reserve tight end Jerome Cunningham against the linebackers as receivers. Move Beckham around and try to prevent the opposition from doubling him. Take a few deep shots to Randle against the lesser corners. The Giants need their offensive line to have a strong game against an underrated defensive line.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The Falcons obviously have some dangerous weapons on offense, headlined by all-world Julio Jones who will be looking to outshine national media darling Odell Beckham. The deal with the Falcons really is this: you don’t know what version of Matt Ryan you’re going to get. Sometimes he looks like one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL; at other times, he looks very ordinary and makes some terrible decisions.

Jones can certainly take over a game, but I like the Giants corners against him provided there is some semblance of a pass rush. Jones has also been dealing with a sore hamstring. The other starting receiver, Roddy White, is super-productive but he has been declining in recent years. Still, you can’t sleep on him. White always seems to get his yardage and keep the chains moving. Ex-Redskin Leonard Hankerson can make plays down the field as well.

Listening to Tom Coughlin this week, it’s pretty apparent that he mostly fears Atlanta’s play-action passing game. Steve Spagnuolo has probably been drilling into the heads of Landon Collins and Brandon Meriweather all week not to come up too quickly against the run and expose the defense to the big play. Of course the best way to defeat the play-action threat is make it moot by stuffing the run. Rookie Tevin Coleman (who BBI Draft expert Sy’56 really likes) is a physical north-south runner with good speed. The Giants need to bottle him up.

The Falcons will throw the ball to reserve running back Devonta Freeman and undersized journeyman tight end Jacob Tamme as ex-Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan does incorporate has a West Coast Offense background. The Falcons may take note of how linebacker Unai’ Unga struggled in coverage last week.

The good news for the Giants is the Atlanta offensive line isn’t the Dallas offensive line. The Giants did alright against the Cowboys ground game, but as Steve Spagnuolo pointed out this week, Dallas still had the advantage of too many very manageable down-and-distance situations because of 4- and 5-yard gains. Stop the run first. Then get after the passer. And we’ll start finding out how good or bad the Giants’ pass rush is this weekend. Tony Romo was barely touched. If the Giants can’t get to Matt Ryan, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season. I would like to see the Giants blitz a lot to put the rookie running back on the spot in terms of pass protection.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Except for the return game, the Giants played well against a very good Dallas special teams unit on Sunday night. They had no chance on kickoff returns (all touchbacks). Getting the punt and kickoff return game going this week will be tough as punter Matt Bosher is one of the best punters (both distance and direction) in the business as well as a very good kickoff specialist (seven touchbacks against the Eagles). Former Giant Matt Bryant is very consistent and rarely misses under 50 yards. Devin Hester has been battling a toe injury. If he plays, we all know how dangerous he can be as both a kickoff and punt returner. (Late note, Hester will not play).

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Ben McAdoo on Atlanta’s defense: “Versus Philadelphia, every snap was single-high (coverage), but that was the way they chose to play Philadelphia. I imagine that they’re going to roll some things at us, some different shells, some different coverage types and probably have a plan for Odell that way. We’ll have to take a look at it and adjust as the game goes on.”

THE FINAL WORD:
This is very, very close to a “must” game. The Giants are a young team and that was an extremely tough loss last weekend. Their confidence could be teetering. It will be interesting to see how the team responds and how mentally tough they are. With the game on the line, players on offense, defense, and special teams need to make plays in the 4th quarter. Not wilt under pressure. The Giants need Eli Manning to regain his mojo.

Sep 142015
 
Share Button

lloyd_bridges_airplane_looks_like_i_picked_the_wrong_week_to_quit_sniffing_glue_mccroskey

Dallas Cowboys 27 – New York Giants 26

Game Overview

In 20 years of writing or editing game reviews, I’ve noted that Giants fans don’t have much patience or desire to read lengthy reviews after a painful loss, so I will keep this one short and sweet.

Giants fans (and the coaches and players) need to get over this “woe is me” crap right now. Every week in the NFL you see a game that another team screws up badly, and fans will gather around the water cooler on Monday morning and say, “Did you see that game? Man, did that team blow it or what?” Well, Giants fans, this week it was unfortunately our team. It happens. Get over it. Move on. The Giants are only 0-1, losing a close game that most didn’t give them a chance to win. That’s all. They didn’t get knocked out of the playoffs.

But before we totally close the books on this one, let’s look at this game in a broader context instead of discussing the painful final two minutes.

In many ways, the Giants were lucky to be in this game. Consider the following:

  • If you told me before the game that the Cowboys would out-gain the Giants in first downs 27 to 18, total net yards 436 to 289, and net passing yards 356 to 193, I would have told you that the Giants got badly beaten.
  • If you told me that Dallas would dominate the time of possession 37:10 to 22:50, New York must have gotten killed.
  • The Giants were 25 percent (1-of-4) in the red zone while the Cowboys were 60 percent (3-of-5). Sayonara.
  • The Cowboys were 6-of-11 (55 percent) on third down. Must have been a blowout.
  • Tony Romo wasn’t sacked only once and only officially hit once? Yikes.
  • If you told me that Eli Manning passed for less than 200 yards, Odell Beckham only caught 44 yards, and the offense never really had a touchdown drive, then the Giants must have lost by 30.

This game was only close because of three Cowboys turnovers that directly resulted in 17 of New York’s 26 points. The Giants did not have one turnover. That said, the Giants offense really only generated nine points off of three of their ten possessions. The Cowboys all but handed this game to the Giants. New York refused to take it. Too bad. But the better team on this night ultimately won. Now it’s time to move on and get better.

Quarterback

Eli was not helped by dropped passes, but he was clearly out-played by Tony Romo who is now the comeback king in this rivalry. Obviously, Manning should have taken a sack on the final play. Another bone-headed decision from a veteran quarterback who should know better. I love ya Eli, but c’mon.

Running Backs

The Giants only had 33 rushing yards by halftime but finished with 99 yards (80 from the running backs). One third of those 80 yards came on a 27-yard run by Rashad Jennings on the final field goal drive. The Giants obviously need more consistent productivity out their run game. Andre Williams continues to under-perform and the Giants may want to consider promoting Orleans Darkwa in his place.

If true, the real gut-wrenching issue was supposedly Jennings was told not to score on at least 1st-and-goal from the 4-yard line in order to run more time off of the clock. “As a running back, it’s really tough when they tell you not to score,” Jennings said. (Late note: Manning said he was confused about the timeout situation and that he mistaken told Jennings not to score).

Wide Receivers

A major disappointment. “Superstar” Odell Beckham caught five passes for 44 yards (8.8 yards per catch). That’s not going to get it done. Neither is Preston Parker (2 catches for 26 yards) dropping three passes on third down or Rueben Randle only catching three passes for 23 yards. Dwayne Harris wasn’t even targeted. The wide receivers were a major reason why the team lost the game. Want some optimism moving forward? My guess is that this is the worst game this group will play all season.

Tight Ends

Larry Donnell and Daniel Fells caught six passes for 54 yards. The Giants would have won the game had the officials called the beyond obvious holding penalty on Fells on 3rd-and-goal. Shame on the NFL.

Offensive Line

Not bad, but not great. More optimism? This is a unit that should continue to grow and improve with more playing time. The Giants rushed for nearly 100 yards but need greater consistency in the ground game. Eli Manning was sacked once and officially hit only four times.

Defensive Line

The Giants did a better job of stopping Darren McFadden (6 carries for 16 yards) than they did Joseph Randle (16 carries for 65 yards). The ends still need to hold their ground better. But the Giants did a reasonable job of defending a very good run-blocking offensive line by holding the Cowboys to 81 rushing yards. The pass rush was virtually non-existent except for a few pressures by Robert Ayers. Cullen Jenkins may improve the run defense at end, but he can’t rush the passer from that position.

Linebackers

The problem was pass coverage. 22 of Tony Romo’s 36 completions went to running backs and tight ends for 199 yards. Unai’ Unga was put in a tough situation given his inexperience. I would have preferred Jonathan Casillas and J.T. Thomas – both supposedly strong in coverage – being on the field together on the final two drives. Strange decision by the defensive staff.

Defensive Backs

While the secondary deserves some of the blame for the productive night of the Dallas tight ends (i.e., Landon Collins on Jason Witten) and backs, the defensive backs played fairly well. Dallas’ longest pass of the night to a wideout was only 21 yards and Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley were held to 14 catches and 157 yards total. More importantly, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Trumaine McBride, and Brandon Meriweather were responsible for 14 of the Giants 26 points. The pass interference penalty on DRC on 3rd-and-4 was bullshit.

Special Teams

This was supposed to be a big advantage for the Cowboys but the Giants held their own. New punter Brad Wing punted well, averaging 45.5 net yards per punt. The coverage teams were solid. The Giants never had a chance to return six kickoffs (all touchbacks). Dwayne Harris only gained three yards on two punt returns. Josh Brown was 4-for-4 on field goal attempts and 2-for-2 on extra points.

Coaching Staff

Obviously there were some questionable decisions made, particularly late in the game on both sides of the football. Contrary to most, I don’t fault the staff for kicking the field goal on 4th down. Dallas has a great kicker and a field goal still could have sent the game into overtime. But passing the ball on 3rd down backfired. Uani’ Unga was put in a really tough spot.

(New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, September 13, 2015)
Sep 112015
 
Share Button
New York Giants Game Program (December 16, 1962)

New York Giants Game Program (December 16, 1962)

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, September 13, 2015

THE STORYLINE:
If you want to know why the Giants have failed to make the playoffs the last three seasons, look no farther than their struggles to defeat their two most bitter division rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys. In the last three years, the Giants are 2-4 against the Eagles and 1-5 against the Cowboys. Indeed, the Giants are a Dez Bryant finger tip away from being 0-6 against the Cowboys in the last three seasons. Beat the Eagles and Cowboys and 9-7 in 2012, 7-9 in 2013, and 6-10 in 2014 turn into 11-5, 10-6, and 10-6 and three division championships for the New York Giants.

To be blunt, while the games have all been very competitive, the Cowboys have owned the Giants in the last three seasons. The Giants have started off poorly in some games and had to play catch-up. But the biggest problem has been the Giants have not made the plays on offense and defense in the 4th quarter to win the games.

Most pundits do not give the Giants much of chance in this game. And there are good reasons to support that belief. The Giants may have a lot of talent on offense but they will be missing Victor Cruz and have big question marks at both offensive tackle positions. Most anticipate the no-name New York defensive line will be mauled by arguably the best offensive line in football. Jon Beason is hurting once again. And a combination of very inexperienced and veteran castoffs will try to man the middle of the secondary against one of the NFL’s most dangerous quarterbacks.

But this is Giants-Cowboys. The odds are the game will be closer than most believe. And the team that makes the fewest mistakes and makes the most plays in the 4th quarter is likely to win the contest.

THE INJURY REPORT: (Late note – Victor Cruz and Jon Beason will not play.)

  • WR Victor Cruz (calf – will not play)
  • OT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP and will not play)
  • DE Cullen Jenkins (hamstring – probable)
  • DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot – probable)
  • LB Jon Beason (knee – will not play)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas (neck – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
On paper, the defense of the Dallas Cowboys looks underwhelming. The secondary is weak and missing their best defensive back, Orlando Scandrick, who is gone for the season. The Cowboys will also be missing two of their most important front-seven players due to suspensions (DE Greg Hardy and LB Rolando McClain). In fact, there are no real headliners on the defensive line.

But the Cowboys should not be underestimated on defense. They are extremely well-coached under Rod Marinelli’s more conservative bend-but-don’t-break 4-3 defense. The Cowboys force a lot of turnovers (2nd in the NFL with 31 in 2014). The Dallas linebackers such as the very talented but injury-prone Sean Lee get most of the media attention, but its their defensive line that causes more problems than one might expect.

“(The Cowboys) rely on the stunt game rather than pressure,” said Tom Coughlin. “They’re not a high-percentage pressure (blitzing) team. But they’re going to move that front all over the place, they’re not big. They’re penetrators, and they’re powerful. And then seeing (Tyrone) Crawford, he’ll knock the living daylights out of you. Ereck Flowers has this (Jeremy) Mincey guy. I hope he prepares himself, because he’s a powerful man for not a big man.”

Coach Coughlin hit the nail on the head. The physically underwhelming (6’4”, 285lbs) Crawford has given teams – especially the Giants – fits in the middle of the offensive line. It’s probably one of the reasons why the Giants have beefed up the middle of their offensive line with Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, and Geoff Schwartz. Mincey is not a top pass rusher, but he was the most consistent one for Dallas last season. And the Cowboys hope the undersized but athletic second-year end DeMarcus Lawrence gives Marshall Newhouse problems. Dallas has a number of young and athletic reserves, including rookie DE Randy Gregory, and they want to attack the Giants offensive line in waves.

But the Dallas defensive line is not big. In fact, outside of Mincey, it’s downright small. And because of that, they have to play twists and stunts up front to compensate. If the Giants offensive line can handle these defensive line games, then the Giants should be able to maul these guys. But that’s a big if. The Giants have not handled opposing defensive line movement well in recent years. There have been too many mental (not just physical) breakdowns.

The question for Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo is what is the best way to attack the Cowboys? Marinelli expects to give up yardage, but he’s counting on the Giants to make the mistake (turnover, penalty, inability to convert on 3rd down) to stall a drive. Do the Giants use the typical West Coast philosophy and mix up what has been an inconsistent running game with dink-and-dunk passes (especially to Shane Vereen) to attempt to matriculate the ball down the field on long drives? That puts the onus on the Giants being able to run the ball, plus not making the mistake. But it has to be a very attractive option too given the size disparity between the two lines. Or do the Giants put heavy pressure on their offensive tackles, take those 5- and 7-step drops, and throw deep to Odell Beckham and Rueben Randle? Obviously, there will be some mixture of both approaches, but it will be interesting to see where the emphasis is placed.

The Giants need a big game from Eli. He usually plays well against Dallas, especially in Dallas. The Giants may need some 4th quarter heroics from him. After leading the NFL with eight 4th quarter comebacks in 2011, Manning had three in 2012, two in 2013, and only one in 2014. That’s not all on him, but New York needs more from their $100 million man. They also need Odell to be Odell. Like in all sports, winners need their stars to make the big play in big moments. Beckham has the ability to single-handily take over this game if he doesn’t get too hyped.

Regardless of the tactical and strategic approach, probably the biggest key in this game for the Giants is to avoid turnovers. Too many Giants-Dallas games in recent years have been decided by killer turnovers that have resulted in defensive scores.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
Except for when the Giants were playing against second- and third-team back-ups in the preseason finale, the starting Giants’ defense did not play well in the preseason. They could not stop the run. They could not rush the passer. They could not cover. They didn’t force turnovers. They have a completely new defensive scheme that they are still learning. The leader of the defense is a gimpy linebacker who seems to be held together with duct tape. The safety situation is a combination of youthful inexperience and veteran castoffs. And the team’s only defensive star sits at home after blowing off his finger. Not a pretty picture for a unit that now must face one of the NFL’s very best rushing and passing attacks.

The hope here is that the defensive wrinkles Steve Spagnuolo kept quiet during the preseason will cause the Cowboys mental rather than physical issues. Perhaps the offensive line is confused by different formations, techniques (where the defenders line up), and blitzes. However, it’s hard to imagine that the experienced Tony Romo will be confused by shifts in a secondary manned by a couple of green safeties however.

There are two clear apparent mismatches that work against the Giants: (1) Dallas’ excellent offensive line versus New York’s no-name and underwhelming defensive line, and (2) the Dallas passing game against the middle of New York’s secondary.

Dallas has three of the NFL’s best offensive linemen at left tackle, center, and right guard. It’s one of the reasons why Dallas was second in the NFL in rushing the football in 2014. DeMarco Murray may be in Philadelphia now, but the Cowboys can muscle and maul even good defensive lines. Their Achilles’ heel? Last season the Washington Redskins demonstrated that the young Cowboys line can still be confused with movement and blitzes. That’s hopefully where Steve Spagnuolo’s schemes come in. I would expect the Giants to blitz a lot, especially with Devon Kennard, J.T. Thomas, and Landon Collins. If Tony Romo has all day to throw throughout the contest, the Giants won’t win this game. But when when you live by the blitz, you often die by the blitz. The pressure will not only be on the blitzers to get to Romo and bring down the elusive quarterback, but to cover on the back end of the defense, especially against Dez Bryant. The good news for the Giants is that Prince Amukamara has done a good job on Bryant. They need more of the same from him as well as an outstanding game from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

More than the receivers outside, it’s the insider receivers who worry me. Tight end Jason Witten has been a Giant-killer over the years. And the reserve tight ends have also given the Giants problems in recent games. Throw in slot receiver Cole Beasley against Trevin Wade or Trumaine McBride or whomever is covering him and these look like problem areas. If I’m Dallas, I attack the middle of the defense over and over again. The key guy here for New York could be nickel linebacker Jonathan Casillas.

Much of this is moot however if the Giants can’t stop the run. You could hear that concern from Spagnuolo this week. “The bullets in the pass rush. Well, we’ve got enough there,” said Spagnuolo. “We’ve got to get them in those situations. I think that’s really important. Then we’ll let them go, see what happens.”

Can Johnathan Hankins, Markus Kuhn, Jay Bromley, Robert Ayers, Cullen Jenkins, Kerry Wynn, George Selvie, Damontre Moore, and Owamgabe Odighizuwa hold up at the point-of-attack and allow the linebackers and defensive backs to run to the ball carrier? The game is still usually decided in the trenches.

One final note. Just like I mentioned on the offensive side, on the defensive side turnovers are often the great equalizer. If the Giants can force some turnovers and win the turnover battle, they have a great shot to win this game.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Dallas is really, really good on special teams. Their place kicker is the best in the game and virtually perfect, including from long distance. Most of his kickoffs result in touchbacks and are not returned. The punter is very solid. And the Cowboys are very fast and aggressive on their coverage units. We’re going to find out very quickly if the $17 million the Giants spent to rip Dwayne Harris away from the Cowboys was money well spent. It will also be our first look at punter Brad Wing. How well he works as a holder with kicker Josh Brown on extra point and field goal attempts could be an issue.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Tom Coughlin on Dallas’ offense: “What they’ve done is they’ve taken the pressure off (of Tony Romo). The quarterback had a great year. They’re going to run, they’re going to run, they’re going to run, and hopefully we can do something about the run. The offensive line hasn’t changed.”

THE FINAL WORD:
Both teams are pretty equal at quarterback and receiver. Dallas has better tight ends but the Giants probably have better running backs. The Giants’ top two corners on defense are much better than Dallas’ corners and there isn’t all that much difference on the defensive side of the ball. The bigger issue on defense is New York is a year behind the learning curve with their new scheme (too bad they waited a year on Spagnuolo).

Where are these two teams different? The offensive line. New York may be catching up with the recent additions of Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, and Geoff Schwartz but they are not there yet. But this unit could make quite a statement and win the game for their team if they somehow managed to out-perform their much touted Dallas counterparts. The odds are, however, that Ereck Flowers will look like a struggling rookie. And there is a big concern about how Marshall Newhouse will do at right tackle.

This is a good time for the Giants to catch Dallas. They had a lot of nagging injuries in camp that prevented them from practicing and playing together. Two of their best players are suspended. Dallas played like crap in their opener last year. The Giants have a good chance here to pull off the upset. Win the turnover battle and they’ll do it.

Sep 052015
 
Share Button
Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (September 3, 2015)

Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 12 – New England Patriots 9

Game Overview

With the Patriots sitting their starters and playing their third-string quarterback, and the Giants sitting Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, this game was really nothing more than a glorified scrimmage. And it was almost as painful to watch unless you really get into watching how the individual players perform. I do and that’s how I’ll approach this review.

Offensive Overview

Without the team’s two best offensive players – Manning and Beckham – and with Victor Cruz still sitting out due to a calf injury, the Giants offense sputtered with Ryan Nassib at the helm. The Giants only managed to put 12 points up on the board with drives of 44 (10 plays, aided by 20 penalty yards), 80 (10 plays, aided by 15 penalty yards),  57 yards (11 plays), and 55 yards (9 plays). Overall, the Giants accrued only 16 first downs, 107 yards rushing, and 193 yards passing.

The only real offensive “highlights” were the 40-yard pass to wide receiver Geremy Davis and the 33-yard pass to tight end Jerome Cunningham.

Ryan Nassib, New York Giants (September 3, 2015)

Ryan Nassib – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Quarterbacks

Ryan Nassib (16-of-32 for 193 yards, 0 touchdowns, 0 interceptions) had his moments, but he did not play as well as he should have against Patriots back-ups. It was a somewhat disappointing effort after his stronger performances in the previous two preseason games. Nassib seemed a bit jumpy in the pocket even when afforded solid pass protection. He looked intent on getting out of the pocket a bit too often and had some accuracy issues when throwing from the pocket.

Running Backs

Rashad Jennings (1 carry for 2 yards) and Shane Vereen (1 carry for 3 yards) barely played. Andre Williams saw his most action of the preseason and had 28 yards on eight carries (3.5 yards per carry). Orleans Darkwa (10 carries for 39 yards) and Kenneth Harper (10 carries for 36 yards) saw the bulk of the action.

One of the neat stories of the game was fullback Nikita Whitlock, who logged about 60 snaps total at fullback, on defense at defensive tackle, and on special teams. He flashed in all of these areas, including as a lead blocker. Whitlock carried the ball once for two yards on 3rd-and-2 on the game-winning field goal drive.

Wide Receivers

Odell Beckham (healthy scratch), Victor Cruz (calf), and Corey Washington (shoulder) did not play. The only receivers to catch more than one pass were were James Jones (4 catches for 39 yards) and Geremy Davis (3 catches for 65 yards). Julian Talley had one catch for 19 yards, Dwayne Harris one catch for eight yards, and Rueben Randle on catch for eight yards. Preston Parker was targeted three times but had no receptions.

Aside from the 40-yard reception, Davis had a nice catch on a low 3rd-and-5 throw from Nassib. He also had an 18-yard reception on the third field goal drive. Talley’s 19-yard reception came on 3rd-and-5 on the same drive.

Tight Ends

I miss the days when Giants tight ends could block.

Larry Donnell was targeted once but had no catches. He still has issues as a blocker. For example, he whiffed on his man on the first offensive play for the Giants.

Daniel Fells sat out most of the game with a shoulder injury; he was targeted twice and had one catch for one yard. Fells was flagged with a holding call, wiping out a 6-yard run by Andre Williams.

Adrien Robinson was targeted three times. He had one catch for four yards and dropped a touchdown pass. Robinson simply doesn’t look like an athlete, and worse, despite his size, he is not a good blocker. He often gets stood up and/or pushed back and sometimes it simply looks like he isn’t trying very hard.

Jerome Cunningham only caught one of three passes thrown his way, but it was an impressive, twisting deep sideline catch for 33 yards despite tight coverage. However, he does not create any movement either when blocking from the down tight end position.

Offensive Line

While the first- and second-team lines were not bad, they had some rough moments and it would have been nice to see more consistent run blocking against New England back-ups.

Geoff Schwartz started at right guard, but again split time with John Jerry at the position. Schwartz also saw some time at right tackle, where he got promptly flagged for holding. Both Schwartz and Jerry saw extended snaps as the coaching staff likely wants to evaluate both and get Schwartz back into game shape. Schwartz appears to be the slightly better option at this point. For a big guy, he hasn’t been playing with much power, but Jerry continued to have issues in the ground game, even against back-ups playing in the second half.

The play of Ereck Flowers this preseason has been mostly positive but he did have some issues on Thursday. He didn’t get much movement on one left-side run and then a few plays later, he got beat to the outside, panicked, and grabbed the facemask of his opponent (he did this earlier in the preseason too). The penalty sabotaged the promising first drive.

One guy who looks undersized but has done a decent job all preseason is Adam Gettis at left guard. He seems to be pretty reliable, but he just may not be naturally big and strong enough. Dallas Reynolds continued to do a solid job as the back-up center. Bobby Hart struggled in pass protection at right tackle in the second half, as did Emmett Cleary when he shifted from left tackle to right guard. Hart also got beat on a run block late in the game when the Giants were trying to run out the clock.

Defensive Overview

This was the best the defense has looked by far this preseason, but that comes with the major caveat that they were playing against back-ups and a third-string quarterback. So it’s probably unwise to read too much into this performance.

The Giants were missing nine defensive players due to injury in this game.

The Patriots were held to 61 yards rushing as the Giants accrued four sacks and two turnovers. On the downside, the mediocre Ryan Lindley did pass for 253 yards and the Patriots were 7-of-18 (nearly 40 percent) on third-down conversion attempts.

In terms of X’s and O’s, check out Joey in VA’s observations on the game in The Corner Forum.

Defensive Line

DE/DT Cullen Jenkins (hamstring) and DE Robert Ayers (ankle) did not play. Because of that, the youngsters at defensive end received extended playing time and impressed against back-ups for the most part. Kerry Wynn (2 tackles for a loss and 2 QB hits) had his best game of the preseason, as he played outside in the base defense and inside at tackle in pass rush packages.

Damontre Moore had a rough night in the penalty department. He was flagged with two roughing-the-passer and one unnecessary roughness penalties (the latter one was borderline as he was pushed in the back). Those are the types of mental errors that have gotten him in trouble with the coaching staff in the past. That said, on the Patriots’ first field goal drive, Moore was repeatedly giving the Patriots’ reserve left tackle problems in pass protection. He even flashed in run defense in this game at times. His biggest play was his strip sack to end the game.

George Selvie had a big game with four tackles and two sacks. He did well against the run too. Owamagbe Odighizuwa (2 tackles) continues to look good at the point-of-attack in run defense.

Inside, Jay Bromley flashed a couple of times with his run defense and pass rush, including one sack. Markus Kuhn played stouter at the point-of-attack this week, including combining with Moore to tackle the back for a 1-yard loss late in the third quarter.

Linebackers

Jon Beason (knee) and Jonathan Casillas (neck) did not play again.

J.T. Thomas quickly penetrated the line and hit the running back deep in the backfield on the second play, but did not make the tackle (Kerry Wynn cleaned up). He did a nice job of filling the hole and getting to the ball carrier on the next possession. Thomas had good coverage and deflected the ball away on two pass attempts, including a 3rd-and-8.

Jameel McClain and J.T. Thomas, New York Giants (September 3, 2015)

Jameel McClain and J.T. Thomas – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Devon Kennard pressured the passer on the very first defensive snap. Jameel McClain had a chance at an early sack but missed. He got good pressure on another inside blitz and tackled a running back for a loss on an outside run.

Mark Herzlich was stout against the run from the outside linebacker spot. Cole Farrand gave up a 26-yard completion to TE Asante Cleveland and badly missed a tackle after a short throw. Unai’ Unga stumbled when pursuing to the ball after a short completion, leading to a 16-yard gain. He also could not make a play on the ball on a 17-yard reception over the middle on 3rd-and-14. Unga did knock down one pass late in the game.

Ashlee Palmer made a couple of nice tackles late in the game after short pass completions, including one screen pass.

Defensive Backs

CB Trevin Wade (back), CB Chyke Brown (knee), CB Chandler Fenner (hamstring), S Jeromy Miles, and S Nat Berhe (calf) did not play.

This was the best performance we’ve seen from Landon Collins so far. He did a nice job of recovering and knocking away a 3rd-and-1 sideline pass on the second drive. Later, he almost came down with an interception on a deep post pattern to the end zone. Collins also flashed in run support.

Cooper Taylor started alongside Collins and did a nice job of coming up and making a sure tackle after short completion.

Brandon Meriweather had a chance to put a kill shot on the 26-yard pass to TE Asante Cleveland but seemed to misjudge the path of the ball. Three plays later, he missed a tackle on the running back.

Stevie Brown possibly saved a game-winning touchdown late in the game with a sure tackle on the running back who had broken past the line of scrimmage. He later ended the Patriots’ drive with an interception off of a deflected pass.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie appeared to be going through the motions with his coverage and tackling. He gave up an 18-yard reception on 3rd-and-1 to WR Reggie Wayne. Prince Amukamara, who has missed much of the preseason, played surprisingly late into the second quarter. He didn’t get tested much.

Jayron Hosley came close to picking off a pass in the second quarter when covering WR Reggie Wayne. But later on the drive, he was flagged with a bad defensive holding call on a poorly-thrown 4th-and-4 incomplete pass. Despite decent coverage, Hosley was still giving up completions late in the 4th quarter too such as the 8-yard slant on 3rd-and-2. And then he immediately got beat on the next play for a 19-yard gain; Hosley didn’t even turn around to make a play on the ball.

Trumaine McBride gave up a 24-yard completion on 3rd-and-12 in the second quarter.

I suspect the Giants will be scanning the waiver wire for cornerbacks.

Special Teams Overview

Placekicker Chris Boswell filled in for the injured Josh Brown (leg) and made all four of his field goal attempts from 34, 29, 33, and 41 yards out.

Punter Steve Weatherford punted six times, averaging 45.5 yards (41 net) per punt, but the Giants remained unhappy with his directional skills and cut him the day after the game. The Patriots returned five punts for 27 yards with a long of 16 yards.

Kickoff coverage was solid as the Patriots had three returns for 25, 20, and 9 yards.

Zak DeOssie was active on the coverage units. Ashlee Palmer had two special teams tackles and Nikita Whitlock was in on two more. Orleans Darkwa made a nice tackle after Weatherford’s best punt of the night.

Dwayne Harris was held out of the return game as Preston Parker returned two punts for seven yards and Jayron Hosley returned one for nine yards. He was lucky that an early punt that he did not field and appeared to touch another Giant did not result in a turnover. Meanwhile, the Giants continue to do a piss-poor job of blocking opposing gunners (good luck Harris!). Mark Herzlich (holding), Nikita Whitlock (illegal block in the back), and Brandon Meriweather were all flagged with penalties on punt returns.

Kenneth Harper returned one kickoff for 22 yards.

(New York Giants at New England Patriots, September 3, 2015)
Sep 022015
 
Share Button
Odell Beckham and Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (August 29, 2015)

Odell Beckham and Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants at New England Patriots, September 3, 2015

THE STORYLINE:
Except for the undetermined starters on the defensive line and safety, most of the Giants first-line players will sit after two series. The Patriots rarely play their starters in this final game so the Giants offense and defense should look better early. This game is more about determining (1) who will start on opening day at defensive end, (2) the defensive tackle position next to Johnathan Hankins, (3) who will start on opening day at safety, and (4) who will make the final 53-man roster.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Victor Cruz (calf – will not play)
  • WR Corey Washington (shoulder – will not play)
  • LT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP and will not play)
  • DE Robert Ayers (ankle – will not play)
  • DE/DT Cullen Jenkins (hamstring – will not play)
  • LB Jon Beason (knee – will not play)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas (neck – will not play)
  • CB Trevin Wade (back – will not play)
  • CB Chykie Brown (knee – will not play)
  • CB Chandler Fenner (hamstring – will not play)
  • S Jeromy Miles (groin – will not play)
  • S Nat Berhe (calf – will not play)
  • PK Josh Brown (leg – will not play)

FOUR DOWNS:

First Down
Who should start at defensive tackle next to Johnathan Hankins?
Despite what Head Coach Tom Coughlin says, Markus Kuhn, who has started at defensive tackle all spring and summer, has not impressed. Will he be the opening day starter or will the Giants move Cullen Jenkins back inside or start Kenrick Ellis or Jay Bromley at the position? Right now, it appears that Kuhn is the favorite to win the job.

Second Down
Who will start at defensive end?
Jason Pierre-Paul is not coming to the rescue. Meanwhile, Robert Ayers is out at least this game with an ankle injury. If he is healthy on opening day, it’s largely assumed he will start. Cullen Jenkins, who probably won’t play in this game due a hamstring injury, has been starting at end this summer. This game represents a good opportunity for George Selvie (who had been out with a knee injury), Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Kerry Wynn, and Damontre Moore to make their case.

Third Down
Who will start at safety?
Coach Coughlin was impressed with the performance by Landon Collins and Cooper Taylor against the Jets. The two formed the first-team safety combination in practice this week. They will be pressed by Brandon Meriweather and recently re-signed Stevie Brown. Jeromy Miles may be falling out of the picture due to his lackluster preseason performance and now groin injury.

Fourth Down
Who will the final two wide receivers be?
It’s largely assumed that the top four receivers to make the squad will be Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, and Dwayne Harris. That probably leaves two roster spots for Preston Parker, James Jones, Geremy Davis, Corey Washington, and Julian Talley. It’s hard to see the Giants parting ways with Davis who has impressed this summer. The final roster spot may come down to Parker versus Jones with Parker – based on his early preseason playing time – being the favorite.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Cooper Taylor
Is Taylor a viable starter? Can he stay healthy? Here is his last big chance to make an impression before the games count.

Uani Unga
It would be tough for the Giants to keep seven linebackers. So the undersized but instinctive Unga will likely have to beat out Jameel McClain or Coughlin-favorite Mark Herzlich for a roster spot.

Any defensive end who can rush the passer
The Giants have not been able to get any consistent pass press on the quarterback this preseason from their defensive ends. Is there anyone on this roster at end who scares the opposition?

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Tom Coughlin: “I feel better with (Landon) Collins getting some kind of routine going. He practiced, he played, and I feel good about that. And, to be honest with you, Cooper Taylor played well the other night. So I’m excited about seeing him this weekend, too. Some of these people that are starters are still going to play a little more. They’re going to play more. Some will continue to play in the game for X amount of plays, others will come out. That’s going to give us a chance to see a little bit what they can do.”

THE FINAL WORD:
It would be unwise to read too much into this final game as historically Bill Belichick shows no interest in this game and Tom Coughlin only wants to get a couple of series out of his starters. This is more about making final roster decisions and making final determinations on starting jobs. In other words, the games within the game are more important. Probably the most important aspect to keep an eye on is the play of the safeties.

Aug 302015
 
Share Button
Odell Beckham, New York Giants (August 29, 2015)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Jets 28 – New York Giants 18

Game Overview

Preseason results are often meaningless. But coming off of back-to-back 7-9 and 6-10 seasons, coaches, players, media, and fans are looking for reasons to be hopeful in 2015. With only one preseason game left to play and the starters unlikely to play more than two series in New England, there are ominous storm clouds on the horizon with the New York Giants.

The basic problem for the Giants is this: the defense looks awful. If the team has any shot at the playoffs, the offense is going to have to carry this team by being one of the best in the NFL. However, the starting offense has looked pedestrian as best. Worse, despite another supposed infusion of talent in the offseason, special teams remains a weakness.

Right now, based on what we’ve seen on the playing field, the Giants appear to be one of the league’s worst teams. And an injury-plagued one with little depth at that. The odds are that Tom Coughlin and his staff will be fired at the end of the season, but Jerry Reese and his college and pro personnel talent evaluators will get a pass.

Offensive Overview

The Giants still have issues consistently running the football. Offensive line instability due to injuries to Weston Richburg and Geoff Schwartz has been a factor as well as playing against some strong and physical defensive fronts in the preseason. But the bigger issue is that Eli Manning and his receivers have not played particularly well. The Giants starting offense has had one really good drive this preseason and that was aided by three Jets penalties and the officials missing an incomplete 3rd-down pass.

Other than this 14-play, 85-yard effort, the first-team offense had two first downs and 32 yards on their other four possessions against the Jets. Worse, they handed the Jets a defensive score. If the Giants offense doesn’t become a scoring machine this season, the Giants are in deep trouble. Right now, they look far from elite status.

Quarterbacks

The expectation is that 2015 will be one of Eli Manning’s very best seasons, that he would once again approach his 2011 level of play. The early returns have been disappointing. Yes, Eli was 12-of-16 against a very good Jets defense. But he personally caused a 14-point swing in the game. He badly missed a wide open Odell Beckham on what should have been a 70-yard touchdown. Worse, he made an incredibly stupid decision to throw the ball short in the middle of the field with less than 20 seconds left and no timeouts. Even had James Jones come back to catch the ball at the Jets 41-yard line, there was not enough time to run another play to get into field goal range. There was nothing to gain from that throw. Stupid, inexcusable play by a quarterback who wants to be one of the top paid in the NFL. Also keep in mind that Manning hasn’t thrown a pass over 19 yards this preseason.

Ryan Nassib has out-played Eli Manning. Yup, I said it. And Nassib has done it with far shakier pass protection, demonstrating less fear of the pass rush. If I’m the Giants, I’m not sure I sign Eli Manning to a long-term contract right now. I let him play out the 2015 season and let the new coaching staff decide whether they want him or not. The Giants have the cap room to Franchise him. The new regime can then decide whether to trade him or extend his contract. The Giants won’t do this, but Eli is still making too many idiotic decisions in his 12th season for me to hand over $100 million without him playing better.

I’m a big fan of Manning. I think he’s the best quarterback to ever play for the franchise. But if the Giants give him $100 million and he’s no more than a middle-of-the-pack quarterback at age 34, they will be stuck with him for better or worse because salary cap ramifications will make it impossible to trade or cut him.

As for Nassib, he had his second strong performance in a row and would have had an even bigger night had his receivers helped him out more. That said, he does need work on his deep passing. He was off on three deep throws.

Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (August 29, 2015)

Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Running Backs

It’s been a weird preseason for the running backs. The headliners Rashad Jennings (12 carries in three games, 9 of which came against the Jets for 28 yards), Shane Vereen (8 carries, 4 receptions in three games), Andre Williams (7 carries in three games) have not received many touches. So it’s been hard for them to get into a rhythm or for us to get a good feel for their play. Each has flashed at times. Jennings had a 12-yard run where he could done more damage had he been able to keep his feet. Vereen looked very good on a swing pass that picked up 19 yards. It will be interesting to see how Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo use Jennings and Williams. I hope they allow one of these two to get into a rhythm in games and not constantly rotate them.

Meanwhile, Orleans Darkwa (20 carries in three games) has been receiving the most action. He looks like a legitimate NFL player who can make something out of nothing when carrying the ball. Could he actually be the best back on the team? Akeem Hunt has flashed enough (including a 15-yard run against the Jets) to ensure a place on the Practice Squad.

Wide Receivers

The good news is that Odell Beckham finally got his first catches of the preseason. But his five receptions went for a paltry 31 yards (6.2 yards per catch). He would have had a much bigger night had he been able to keep his feet in-bounds on another superb one-handed effort and had Eli Manning not badly missed him on what should have been a 70-yard touchdown reception against Darrelle Revis. Beckham’s 8-yard reception on 3rd-and-3 on the TD drive hit the ground.

The bad news is Victor Cruz has yet to play this preseason. We still don’t know if he will be ready for the opener. Rueben Randle has had an awful preseason. He only played three snaps in the first game, was held out the second game, and had one catch for seven yards against the Jets. Not good, especially since we still don’t know how much his knee tendinitis will affect him the rest of the year.

Preston Parker continues to see a lot of game-day action with little to show for it (1 catch for 5 yards and one false start penalty). James Jones had four catches for 54 yards but was involved in both team turnovers (first, he didn’t come back for the ball on Eli’s pick 6; second, he fumbled the ball away after a 15-yard reception to the Jets’ 19-yard line).

Geremy Davis was targeted six times, coming down with three catches for only 19 yards. His best play was his 15-yard reception on 3rd-and-10 on the last TD drive. Dwayne Harris has caught one pass for seven yards, but also had a bad drop. After an explosive preseason last year, Corey Washington only has three catches for 25 yards in three games despite playing a lot. Julian Talley made a superb, diving effort on the 2-point conversion.

Adrien Robinson, New York Giants (August 29, 2015)

Adrien Robinson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Tight Ends

Larry Donnell has not done much this preseason (4 catches for 34 yards, 1 catch for 5 yards against the Jets). He did not block well as an up back in this game. Despite more targets in the passing game, Adrien Robinson (4 catches for 19 yards in three games) still looks like a cumbersome athlete, but he did draw a 9-yard pass interference penalty on 3rd-and-8 on the first TD drive. That said, Robinson really didn’t help his cause with his lackluster run and pass blocking.

The two sharpest guys seem to have been Jerome Cunningham (3 catches for 58 yards, two defensive pass interference penalties in three games) and Daniel Fells (1 catch for 21 yards against the Jets). Cunningham needs to improve as a blocker. Had he stayed with his assignment on Jennings’ 12-yard run, Jennings probably would not have been tripped up. But he made a very athletic play on his 24-yard reception up the seam on the final TD drive of the game. He then capped that off that drive with a 6-yard touchdown catch. Fells remains the most consistent blocker at tight end.

Offensive Line

John Jerry started at right guard but Jerry and Geoff Schwartz switched off at the position all night. It’s pretty obvious that the Giants are trying to work Schwartz back into the starting line up at that position if his surgically-repaired ankle holds up. Though he was a bit shaky early, Schwartz was in the game during the team’s best drive of the preseason. The line seems steadier with him in the game, although for a big man he sometimes has issues with power. The problem with Jerry in the ground game is he simply does not sustain his run blocks, this was an issue even on Akeem Hunt’s 15-yard run in the 4th quarter.

Left tackle Ereck Flowers continues to improve each week. He is everything as advertised in the run game. There were too many mistakes from left guard Justin Pugh, who gave up a sack and two penalties. The first penalty (illegal use of hands) and sack helped to stall the second drive; the second penalty (false start) pushed the Giants back on the pick-6 possession at the end of the first half. Pugh also missed a block on a screen pass to Vereen.

Dallas Reynolds started at center in place of the injured Weston Richburg and performed adequately against a tough opponent. He is playing much better than he did during his first two years with the Giants. Marshall Newhouse has been just adequate at right tackle. He’s not a good run blocker despite his size.

The second-team line featured Emmett Cleary at left tackle, Adam Gettis at left guard, Brett Jones at center, Schwartz/Jerry at right guard, and Bobby Hart/Sean Donnelly at right tackle. Hart left the game late in the third quarter with an injury and was replaced by Donnelly. This group did a reasonable job although Gettis did give up a sack to first-team DE Sheldon Richardson and Donnelly had some issues in pass protection on the team’s last TD drive. Cleary had one false start and gave up a pressure late too.

Defensive Overview

Fans are going to have to accept that this is a bad defense. They can’t stop the run, they can’t rush the passer, and they can’t cover. It’s a group that lacks toughness, physicality, leadership, confidence, and swagger. Against the Jets, the Giants only had one sack (unblocked safety blitz), two quarterback hits, and no forced turnovers. The Jets rushed for 136 yards and journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 64 percent of his passes against the starting defense.

When one considers how the defense has struggled to stop Andy Dalton, Blake Bortles, and Ryan Fitzpatrick, let alone any running game, and you have to think other teams are licking their chops to face the once proud New York Giants defense.

Defensive Line

The run defense remains a huge concern, but the Giants are also not getting any pass pressure.

Jerry Reese says that even without Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants have five quality defensive ends. So far, I don’t see it. George Selvie has been out with a knee injury. We still don’t know when he will return. In a continuing trend for the Giants to find new and interesting ways to hurt themselves, Robert Ayers somehow injured himself in game warm-ups. Damontre Moore started at left defensive end. He didn’t have a tackle, remains a liability against the run, and has not flashed enough as a pass rusher against NFL starters. Kerry Wynn (1 tackle) has been disappointing. He has to set the edge better against the run. He was a non-factor as a pass rusher. The Giants have been forced to start an aging, fading defensive tackle (Cullen Jenkins) at defensive end and he is clearly not well suited to the 4-3 end position.

The guy with the most upside is Owamagbe Odighizuwa. He should be starting. Odighizuwa doesn’t appear to have any pass rush moves, but he can occasionally get close the quarterback. More importantly, he’s the only defensive end on this team that appears capable of setting the edge against outside tackle rushing attempts.

Inside, Johnathan Hankins played a bit better this week, but the decision to start Markus Kuhn remains a curious one. At least Kenrick Ellis and Jay Bromley received playing time against the Jets starting offensive line. Both still seem to be better options than Kuhn. The Giants were much more stout against the run on the Jets third offensive possession when Kuhn sat and Bromley and Ellis played. Both did have issues on one 13-yard run up the gut on the Jets’ second TD drive (Damontre Moore was held on this play, causing it to be nullified). However, Ellis was flagged with a stupid unnecessary roughness penalty with a late hit on the next snap. Late in the first half, both Bromley and Jenkins (now playing DT) looked good against the run.

Linebackers

Jon Beason (knee), Jonathan Casillas (neck), and Mark Herzlich (concussion) did not play.

Devon Kennard is the best linebacker on the team. He, along with Odighizuwa and Hankins, appear to be one of the very few building blocks this team has in the front seven. But Kennard, Jameel McClain, and safety Jeromy Miles were badly confused by a simple head fake on the 24-yard screen pass for a touchdown.

As an illustration on how teams simply scheme the Giants defense, on the Jets first offensive play, the Jets ran play-action bootleg that both Damontre Moore and McClain bit on, leading to an uncontested 10-yard completion to start the game.

McClain and Kennard ran well to the football when the defensive line set the edge or wasn’t shoved back into their faces. McClain, Kennard, and safety Landon Collins also did a very good job of reading an end-around for a 1-yard loss. However, McClain couldn’t stop the running back on a 2-point conversion attempt despite having a clean shot at the ball carrier.

The Giants spent $10 million on a linebacker (J.T. Thomas) who struggles at the point-of-attack and apparently doesn’t know how to wrap up when he tackles. It’s nice that he played well against his former team last week, but he is being paid to show up for every game.

Unai’ Unga led the team in tackles with eight and played as early as the team’s first defensive series. His lack of size showed up in this game as he was carried by the ball carrier on a couple of late rushing attempts. Victor Butler didn’t help his cause by missing a tackle in the backfield.

Defensive Backs

The Giants are just dreadful at covering the middle of the field. This is on both the linebackers and safeties. Opposing quarterbacks are going to have a field day passing in the middle all year.

The good news is that Landon Collins (3 tackles, 1 penalty for illegal use of hands) and Cooper Taylor (3 tackles, 1 sack) finally got back on the field. Cooper flashed on his sack and sure tackle off a bootleg pass to the tight end.

Jeromy Miles isn’t playing well. He struggled against the run and, along with Jayron Hosley, got beat badly on the 18-yard touchdown pass in the 1st quarter. On the play before the TD, he got beat badly by WR Brandon Marshall for an 11-yard gain on 3rd-and-5 (though admittedly that’s a tough match-up for any safety).

Brandon Meriweather can hit and tackle, but he’s not real smooth in space. He awkwardly fell to the ground on a 24-yard completion over the middle in the 4th quarter.

Trumaine McBride, New York Giants (August 29, 2015)

Trumaine McBride – © USA TODAY Sports Images

This was the second game in a row where opposing quarterbacks have tested Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie deep multiple times without success. Prince Amukamara played in his first game this preseason. He got beat by Brandon Marshall for 16 yards on 2nd-and-11. Amukamara had good deep coverage on the very next play, but two plays later, he got badly turned around by Marshall again on a play that should have resulted in a first-down had not it been for a bad throw.

Hosley not only got beat for a touchdown, but he also lost contain on 12-yard run earlier on the first TD drive. He did follow that up with a good run force. Both Trumaine McBride and Trevin Wade played nickel corner. McBride missed a tackle near the line of scrimmage on a run that picked up seven yards at the end of the 1st quarter. Not sure who was responsible for the easy 25-yard completion to WR Eric Decker on the Jets second TD drive, but it appears to have been Wade.

Special Teams Overview

The Giants keep signing/drafting special teams studs, but the special teams continue to help the Giants lose games. That’s got to be on the coaching. The Giants may be scanning the waiver wire for a punter because they clearly are losing faith in Steve Weatherford or trying to send him a message. Robert Malone punted twice in this game and also served as a holder. While Malone got off a 67-yarder, he also punted straight down the middle of the field, something that was a big contributing factor on the 54-yard punt return for a touchdown.

The Giants spent $17 million on Dwayne Harris as a returner, but they apparently don’t know how to block for him. The Giants gave up 76 yards on two kickoff returns, including returns of 44 and and 32 yards. Not good.

Right now, Josh Brown is the only redeeming aspect on special teams. He hit another long field goal (48 yards).

(New York Jets at New York Giants, August 29, 2015)
Aug 282015
 
Share Button
Odell Beckham, New York Giants (August 14, 2015)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Jets at New York Giants, August 29, 2015

THE STORYLINE:
New York Giants fans are in a generally pissy mood. While a number of teams have already been hit hard on the injury front, the Giants have seen over 20 percent of their 90-man roster on the injury report and have already lost four safeties for the season. Throw in the uncertain injury status of important cogs such as Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Weston Richburg, and Jon Beason, and Giants fans fear that medical issues will once again sabotage the season. And we have yet to even play the third preseason game!

The third preseason game is the most important dress rehearsal for the regular season. It’s the game where the starters play the longest – usually at least the first half. And it’s the preseason game where coaches want to see positive performances and consistency. Yet as a fan, at this point, I just find myself not caring about that and just praying no one else gets hurt.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Victor Cruz (calf – will not play)
  • WR Rueben Randle (knee – expected to play)
  • RT Marshall Newhouse (ankle – expected to play)
  • OC Weston Richburg (knee – will not play)
  • RT/RG Brandon Mosley (back – will not play)
  • LT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP and will not play)
  • DE George Selvie (knee – will not play)
  • LB Jon Beason (knee – will not play)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas (neck – will not play)
  • LB Mark Herzlich (concussion – will not play)
  • CB Chykie Brown (knee – will not play)
  • CB Jayron Hosley (concussion – expected to play)
  • CB Chandler Fenner (hamstring – will not play)
  • S Landon Collins (knee – expected to play)
  • S Nat Berhe (calf – underwent surgery on Friday and will not play)

FOUR DOWNS: No, I’m not lazy… the main questions this team faces remain the same for the third week in a row.

First Down
How will the offensive line perform?
The New York Jets are very talented up front. They are big and physical and this will be a great test for the Giants. Unfortunately, Weston Richburg continues to be bothered by knee tendinitis and did not practice all week. Dallas Reynolds may be starting in his place on Saturday. The Giants have yet to officially move Geoff Schwartz back into the starting line-up at right guard or right tackle either. With the start of the regular season only two weeks away, the offensive line still seems far too unsettled.

Second Down
Can the defense stop the run?
For whatever reason, the coaching staff seems determined to start Cullen Jenkins at defensive end and Markus Kuhn at defensive tackle despite the fact that these two have struggled in holding up at the point-of-attack in the first two preseason games. Fellow starters defensive end Robert Ayers and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins did not play well against the run against the Jaguars either. If the Jets are able to generate decent yardage totals on the ground on Saturday against the starting group, the alarm bells will start to sound. On the other hand, since the starters for both teams will play the entire first half, we may finally get a better gauge on Jay Bromley, Kenrick Ellis, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Kerry Wynn, and Damontre Moore if they are allowed some quality reps against the Jets starting offensive line in the first half.

Third Down
Who will do well or poorly at cornerback?
For the first time this preseason, Prince Amukamara will be on the field alongside Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. That’s the good news. The bad news is we still don’t know who the main nickel corner is, as well as who are the primary back-ups at corner in case a starter gets hurt. The under-the-radar injury that has hurt the Giants is the knee injury suffered by Chykie Brown early in training camp. He should return soon, but he has missed valuable practice time. Jayron Hosley returns this week after missing most of the first preseason game and all of the second with a concussion. Hosley is competing for playing time and a roster spot along with Trevin Wade, Trumaine McBride, Mike Harris, Josh Gordy, and Chandler Fenner. Wade seems to the favorite right now among an uninspiring group.

Fourth Down
How will the new safeties perform?
The football gods must be playing a bad joke on the G-Men. Considered by many the weakest position on the team heading into training camp, the Giants have now lost three players who had a legitimate chance to start in Nat Berhe, Bennett Jackson, and Mykkele Thompson. Worse is that two others – Landon Collins and Cooper Taylor – have missed valuable practice time due to injury. Now the penciled-in starters are veteran journeymen Jeromy Miles (who has yet to flash this preseason) and Brandon Meriweather (who was just picked off the NFL scrap heap). Both lack range. The only other two safeties on the roster are rookie free agents who were only signed because of all of the injuries (Justin Halley and C.J. Conway).

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Brandon Meriweather
The Giants desperately need some good fortunate at safety. What they need is for Brandon Meriweather to demonstrate that he can be a viable NFL starter.

Markus Kuhn
Kuhn has been starting at defensive tackle since the May/June OTA’s, but he has yet to demonstrate why. Unless he shows greater stoutness against the run, the decision-making process of the coaching staff will come into question. Jay Bromley and Kenrick Ellis have played better in the preseason.

Johnathan Hankins
For as much grief as Kuhn has received from fans, Johnathan Hankins hasn’t been making much of an impact against the run either yet this preseason. It’s time for him to start rounding his game into form.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Tom Coughlin on what he wants to see from his offensive football team against the Jets: “It is continued improvement for me. The timing of the passing game is not there yet, and it’s got to happen. I thought our protection did a nice job early on (against the Jaguars). We’ll be tested this week, the Jets have an outstanding pressure package – they also have an outstanding front, a big front, so we are going to be tested with regards to that, too. That brings up the idea of some kind of consistency with your run game. We have got to have that. We had it at times the other night (against the Jaguars); we need it more often but we are going up against a very good front, so those would be the ways, you mentioned offense, where we would be looking to see us make progress.”

THE FINAL WORD:
I hate to admit it, but the injuries are sapping my enthusiasm. The team can’t catch a break. Things could still work out if Landon Collins is as good as advertised, but rookie safeties who miss half the preseason usually don’t excel. The Giants also need Brandon Meriweather to experience an unlikely career renaissance. Can this team stop the run? Can it rush the passer? Can they cover?

Offensively, the injury issues to Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle are not ideal. The top three targets have yet to play in a game together. And the Giants still have not set on what their final offensive line heading into the season will look like. The clock is ticking. The season starts in two weeks.

I feel like the Giants are an Eli Manning or Odell Beckham injury away from a true disaster.