Sep 302023
Leonard Williams, New York Giants (September 15, 2023)

Leonard Williams – © USA TODAY Sports

It’s clear the start of the 2023 NFL season has not gone the way New York Giants fans had hoped. The 1-2 start, including two losses by a combined 70-12 score, has readjusted perceptions about the team. 2022 may have unfairly raised expectations and it is becoming clear that this version of the Giants still is not close to competing with the big boys.

Progress is not always linear. Teams on the right track don’t always improve in the W-L column each season. There have been some rumblings among fans that the jury is still out on Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll. Of course it is. The jury is out on every executive and head coach every season. Jim Fassel took a team that probably had no business being in the game to a Super Bowl, and yet he was fired three years later. Tom Coughlin won two Super Bowls and was fired four years later. No one is safe.

However, the Giants will never improve unless there is some stability within the organization. I’ve been warning fans for years that once you start over, any progress made by the previous regime is gone. I can tell many, if not most, fans still haven’t accepted this reality. “How long does it take to rebuild this team? This offensive line? This defense? It’s been 12 years!!!” No, the Giants reset in 2022. It’s been one year for THIS regime, not 12. If you fire the general manger and head coach, the counter goes back to zero. And the odds you are going to do better than Schoen and Daboll are not good, especially with this ownership and their hiring history. My point here is to cut the crap. Stop reacting emotionally to every setback and start using your head. Spoiler alert, the Giants are not going to the Super Bowl in 2023. The last thing this team needs is another regime change.

Many of us warned that the 2023 Giants may be a better team but end the season with a worse record because of the murderous schedule. What’s bothering everyone is how uncompetitive the team was in Week 1 and Week 3. It’s not shocking that the Giants are 1-2, but it is more than a bit surprising how badly they were beaten in their two losses. Regardless of the W-L record moving forward, we need to see a more competitive team, a team making progress and heading in the right direction.

Big picture overview. If you told Giants fans that the team would be 1-2 at this point, most would not be shocked and most would have not preached doom and gloom. It’s still all in front of this team. As Wink Martindale said this week, the Giants can still shape their own destiny. The period between San Fransisco 49ers on September 21 and the Seattle Seahawks on October 2 was a de facto bye week. Hopefully the team reset and got its mind right.


  • RB Saquon Barkley (ankle – doubtful)
  • TE Daniel Bellinger (neck – probable)
  • LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring – out)
  • OG Ben Bredeson (concussion – probable)
  • DL D.J. Davidson (elbow – probable)
  • OLB Azeez Ojulari (hamstring – probable)

Speaking of reacting emotionally, the constant search for one or two scapegoats is as tiring as it is misleading. The 1-2 start is not due to the offense or defense as a whole.  And it’s not due to Daniel Jones or Evan Neal. It’s not a copout to say everyone has had a role in this; it’s simply reality. When the offense is not performing, it will affect the defense. When the defense is not performing, it will affect the offense. Special teams can have an impact on both too. So does coaching.

Big picture again. The 31-point second-half explosion against the Cardinals counts. Through three games, Arizona has been a far more competitive team than anticipated, including soundly defeating a Dallas Cowboys team that whooped the Giants. Nevertheless, the Giants’ offense has been a big disappointment through three games. The Giants only had 14 first downs and 171 yards of total offense against Dallas and 10 first downs and 150 yards against the 49ers. Zero and 12 points. You can’t win with those numbers.

What has been the problem? A big portion of the “blame” lies with the fact that the Cowboys and 49ers are two of the very best defenses in the entire league (though the loss of Trevon Diggs is huge). Probably the biggest problem for New York has been the state of the offensive line. The special teams breakdown on the blocked field goal in Week 1 not only changed the complexion of the game, but it led to Andrew Thomas’ hamstring injury that is likely to now nag him all season. It was a disastrous result and bad omen for this team. The best offensive player on this team is not Saquon Barkley or Daniel Jones. It is Andrew Thomas.

Without Thomas, the Giants have the the youngest and most inexperienced offensive line in the NFL. Joshua Ezeudu has started four games since being draft, two at left tackle. Ben Bredeson has started 11 games in his four seasons. John Michael Schmitz has started three games as a rookie. Marcus McKethan has started two games after missing all of his rookie season. Evan Neal has started 16 games in two years. There probably have been times in the long history of the NFL where this happened before, but it can’t be often. And yet we have fans scratching their heads why this unit had issues against Nick Bosa and the 49ers defensive front. Those asking how long will it take to fix the offensive line seem to be completely ignoring that this current unit has collectively 36 total starts. That’s as green as it gets. They have literally started over.

There are those who say Daniel Jones has been a problem this year. Perhaps. I don’t really see it. Could he play better? Sure. But he also demonstrated against Arizona what he can do if the defense forces three-and-outs, the running game presents any sort of a threat, the offensive line can give him even a little time, and his receivers get open and don’t drop the ball. None of that happened against the 49ers. Let’s see how Daniel performs when he has help. No, he doesn’t have to have everything “perfect” to succeed. But the defense has to force the other team to punt. And the running backs have to gain more than 22 yards in a game. Jones also can’t be under pressure literally almost 50 percent of his drop backs.

Which brings us to Saquon, who is doubtful for the game. No one on BBI will accuse me of being a Barkley apologist. After all, I was advocating the team shopping him before the trade deadline last year. But this team and this offense is a different animal with Saquon in the lineup. Don’t believe me. Look at how other teams defend the Giants when he is or isn’t on the field. It’s one of the reasons why I shake my head at those who claim running backs no longer matter in the NFL. Of course they do. And they will always matter. Whether Barkley plays and how effective he plays on his ankle sprain moving forward will be a huge factor in how productive this offense will be. If teams have to focus on Barkley, it opens things up for the receiving targets. And visa versa.

The Seahawks. While Pete Carroll (defensive coach) is one of those guys you love to hate, you have to admire his ability and consistency as a coach as well as multiple rebuilding efforts. Seattle is a young and rising team. They were a surprising 9-8 playoff team last year and have already beaten the Detroit Lions this year. Don’t forget, last year the Giants were 6-1 when the Seahawks soundly beat New York by two touchdowns.

A lot has changed since that day. Marcus Johnson started at wide receiver. The tight ends were Chris Myarick, Lawrence Cager, and Tanner Hudson. Tyre Phillips started at right tackle and struggled. Jon Feliciano was the center, Mark Glowinksi the right guard, and Josh Ezeudu started his first NFL game at left guard.

Seattle is currently ranked 30th in defense in terms of yards allowed and 29th in points allowed. They are 31st against the pass and 6th against the run. Last season, the stats were similar with run and pass rankings flipped. The point here is while Seattle has talent, this isn’t the Cowboys or 49ers. If the Giants are going to finally get it going on offense, now is a good time to do it. Provided the young offensive line can somewhat do their job.

The problem for the New York offense last year had reared its ugly head again this season. The Giants have to get something going early in the game. It was a problem against Seattle too in 2022, as the Giants were scoreless in the first quarter and only had seven points by halftime. Move the ball early, get some first downs, get a lead for your defense.

Despite continued offensive woes, the focal point of fan ire shifted dramatically to Wink Martindale’s defense this past week. The Giants still don’t have a turnover. The pass rush has been a big disappointment. New York is 24th in yards allowed, including 28th in run defense. Missed tackles against the 49ers were a huge problem. Wink’s defense in 2022 was excellent on third down and in the red zone, but so far have disappointed this year, particularly on third down.

Again, each unit affects the other. One of the ways for the offense to become more productive is for the defense to get the opposing offense off of the field. Turnovers also lead to favorable field position and easy scoring drives. It’s all interconnected.

The problem for the Giants is Seattle is averaging almost 30 points per game (4th in the NFL) despite being middle-of-the-pack in both rushing and throwing the football. They also have a number of dangerous players including Kenneth Walker, one of the more dangerous running backs in the NFL. The receivers are very good and compliment each other extremely well, including D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Seattle also has a trio of tight ends they will employ as both blockers and receivers. All of these weapons make it easier for resurgent Geno Smith to perform. Smith threw for 30 touchdowns in 2022 and has done a decent job of protecting the football.

The weak spot right now is a banged up offensive line with injury issues at left tackle, center, and right guard. The time is now for Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Kavyon Thibodeaux, and the returning Azeez Ojulari to make a difference. For the Giants to have a chance in this game and hold Seattle to 20 points or less, the front seven must win their individual matchups. The linebackers and secondary will have their hands full with the receiving targets. First and foremost, the Giants absolutely must get their run defense issues resolved. In all three games thus far, the defense has allowed opposing offenses to do far too much damage on the ground. If Walker gets going, the team will be in for a long night.

Many things have changed in football over the years. But one thing has not and I doubt will ever change. You stop the run and make the other team one-dimensional. Then you can get after the quarterback. It’s always been that simple. Martindale did this in Baltimore. For some reason, it has not translated to New York. If you stop the run, you are the more physical team. By making the other team one dimensional, that will lead to sacks, hits on the quarterback, mistakes and turnovers on their part. The crowd also feeds off of this.

Speaking of physical, I don’t want to see anymore standing around on defense while the ball carrier is still alive. Swarm to the ball. Gang tackle. If you put on the NY helmet, you have responsibility to live up to a defensive legacy that is bigger than you.

Despite the final score (27-13), the game against the Seahawks in Seattle was close into the 4th quarter. Indeed, it can be argued that the game really was primarily influenced by two fumbled punt returns by Richie James. Seattle’s special teams are coached by Larry Izzo, who was an assistant special teams coach with the Giants under Tom Coughlin from 2011-2015.

Mike Kafka on the offense: “We obviously want to start a lot faster.”

Wink Martindale on the defense: “We still control the narrative.”

We all know this is a big game. 1-3 can become 1-5 very easily. At that point, we will all be looking at the NFL Draft again in October. On paper, Seattle is arguably the better team. They certainly have played better and been coached better than the Giants thus far this year. But this is a winnable game.

On offense, get the ball to Jalin Hyatt and Darren Waller. I also think Daniel Bellinger has been underutilized as a receiving threat in two tight end packages. Defensively, stop the run. Then your big four pass rushers (Lawrence, Williams, Thibodeaux, and Ojulari) need to get to Geno Smith.

If the Giants can win this game, and somehow steal a win against the Dolphins or Bills, they will be in respectable shape at 3-3. But it must start with Seattle on Monday night.

Sep 232023
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (September 21, 2023)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports


-Daniel Jones: 22/32 – 137 yards / 0 TD – 2 INT / 64.2 RAT

Jones added 5 yards on the ground. This was a matchup nightmare on paper. The Niners ability to put “quick pressure” on the passer, the makeshift offensive line, and not having their two best offensive players on the field made the margin for error miniscule. Jones had to play perfect and everyone around him had to play bigger than the sum of their respective parts for this to be competitive. The game-plan was full of dinks and dunks and I estimate about 50% usage of the full playbook even being an option. There were not a lot of positives to take away from this game when it comes to Jones. The few times where the team needed a play (and he had things working around him), he did not come through. The 3rd-and-11 miss to Waller in the fourth quarter with the score at 23-12 was the standout negative. Waller does not escape his share of the blame (I will discuss this in the tight end analysis), but that is an easy throw that needs to be made 99 out of 100 times. We’ve heard and saw all summer just how big and long Waller is, how he towers above everyone else. Jones had that target wide open (NFL standards) for a first down and he air-mailed it above his outstretched hands.

The positives remain the same. He stood tall in the face of pressure in a situation that had ‘loss’ written all over it. He went through progressions, he did not abandon mechanics, and he was accurate on almost all throws. While I will not call him Joe Montana when it comes to ball placement, he threw strikes most of the night on the quick-release throws. For the second time in three weeks, he was fighting uphill in mud, nothing to gain traction on and slowly having the ground slip from underneath him. He is now 1-11 in primetime games and while that is more of a correlation between the quality of opponents + the poor state of the NYG roster than the time of day that present his struggles, it is hard to get past the notion he is not rising to a better version of himself in situations like this. Daniel Jones just….is.


-With Saquon Barkley out again with another lower body joint injury (the story of his career so far unfortunately), the NYG backfield barely moved the needle. Matt Breida did score the lone NYG touchdown of the night on an impressive, aggressive downhill run of 8 yards. He had just 4 total carries for 17 yards and 3 catches for 1 yard. Gary Brightwell added 5 yards on 4 carries and had the team’s biggest gain of the night (18 yards) on a dump-off pass, but also dropped a pass. His sample size was small, but his overall impact was positive economically, just like in previous games where he has contributed.


-Wan’Dale Robinson was back on the field for the first time since tearing his ACL 10 months ago. That is an impressive turnaround from the second-year gadget receiver from Kentucky. He had 4 catches for 21 yards while fellow slot receiver Parris Campbell led the team with 6 catches, netting just 24 yards. The limitations of the offense overall made them key focal points underneath because their skill sets can get them open in a hurry and both are supposed to be effective after the catch. They struggled to break tackles, though. Neither made an impact there, neither stepped up to make plays on their own, which was a vital ingredient to any potential success they were hoping to have.

-Darius Slayton appears to be the number one receiver on this team. He is the guy who has the most experience with Jones, he is the guy with the most contractual commitment to the team, and he is the only player who is being targeted more than 9 yards downfield on average (minimum 4 targets). He ended with 3 catches for 32 yards and had a couple of open looks deep that did not come to fruition because of poor blocking. He is playing hard and confident right now, and with his speed, that matters.

-I am disappointed we, A) barely saw Jalin Hyatt (16 out of 50 snaps) and B) he did not get a single target. I know we should temper expectations from the rookie receiver, as I even said myself last spring following the draft his impact in 2023 would likely be minimal. Even with that in mind, not one target? The one guy on this team (with Barkley out) who can strike fear into the defense? The guy who made two the biggest non-touchdown plays in their historic comeback last week? If he truly is more than just a vertical threat, then the argument that Jones simply not having enough time is not good enough for me. He should have been given at least two or three looks.


-Darren Waller led the team with 7 targets, but he caught just 3 of them for 20 yards. He added a drop that led to an interception. After a summer full of optimism and beat reporters salivating when discussing how much of a threat he appeared to be, three games in and I am down on what his upside can be here. Sure, the underneath threat and security blanket component to his game are there and it will be all season. But there is a significant difference in his movement from what I saw from 2019-2021. Jones misfired on two throws in his direction, they were more on the passer. However, Waller’s attempt at what I call “late movement,” a reaction-based attempt to the ball looked like it belonged to a 275-pound blocking tight end. No abrupt, explosive leap to go up and get it. No sudden change of direction to snare the ball that hit his hands. Effort is not the issue from what I see, just a simple lack of ability. Perhaps the hamstring is a tighter constraint than I initially thought. My true fear is the 31-year-old does not, and will not, have the special athletic traits that made him a household name and we are simply looking at an average underneath threat. Not a bad thing, but not what some believed it would be.

-Daniel Bellinger played 30 snaps and seems to be having trouble finding his role within this team. One of the biggest surprises from the 2023 Rookie Class has taken a back seat to Waller for obvious reasons. He had 1 catch for 8 yards. He has seen 2 passes thrown his way in 3 games. His value is a guy who splits a blocker/receiver role, but because of Waller’s presence he has been way more biased toward the former and he simply is not good enough there. He allowed a sack, a hold, and was flagged for a false start. This two tight end package has been one of the more subtle disappointments for the offense through three games.


-A few days ago, I warned everyone to temper the enthusiasm regarding former Tar Heels Joshua Ezeudu at left tackle and Markus McKethan at right guard. Performing well against Arizona did carry some weight, but the truth is that defensive line can make a case to be the worst in football. I wanted to see what the line, and these two in particular, would bring to the table against one of the best fronts in football. Just a solid game against them would go a long way. It did not turn out well. Ezeudu allowed 5 pressures and was flagged for a face-mask penalty. He was clearly overmatched when he faced off against Nick Bosa. They offered help a few times from Bellinger, but big picture, Ezeudu cannot compete against the best in the league. McKethan struggled even more. He was charged with 4 pressures and a sack in addition to a holding penalty. His size and length appear to be weapons that can win a lot of battles, but it is a complete hit or miss due to a lower half that does not have enough shiftiness to it. Growing pains are allowed and we will need to see if these guys can improve with consistent snaps week to week.

-Despite a couple of ugly losses to Javon Hargrave, I ended with a positive grade on rookie center John Michael Schmitz. He allowed one pressure was driven back badly on an outside zone run (again) that caused a TFL. Besides that, I thought he moved well to the second level, provided quality help in pass protection, and anchored well. From my perspective re-watching the game, there appeared to be minimal communication issues up front. I credit that to Schmitz. Execution has not been good, we know, but the assignments have seemed cleaner than I remember over the past two-three years.

-A lot of eyes are on Evan Neal, and rightfully so. The 2022 seventh overall pick has not been good through 18 games. He allowed a sack on the two-point conversion attempt and two pressures. The bar has been set low, but I do believe this was an overall positive performance compared to what Neal has been putting out there. While it is not good enough and I still want to see substantial improvement, I did not walk out of this game lowering his status even further. Hopefully he can use this as a springboard to better play, more consistently. After all, that is what this comes down to.

-Shane Lemieux got the start over Mark Glowinski, something I did not see coming. He allowed 3 pressures and a sack, and the disheartening note I have from the live game was: “Not even competitive.” No anchor, minimal range in the running game, and inability to recover when beat.


-Kayvon Thibodeaux was on the field for 72 snaps. He finished with 3 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 hurries. Overall, it was a game that lacked impact. He was flagged for a questionable illegal contact penalty which I did not mark against him, as I thought it was within five yards from the line of scrimmage. The issue was a lack of feel, lack of flow to the action, and slight hesitation. That and the obvious fact he is not winning one-on-one battles. I am not comparing him to Bosa by any means, but the difference I see in those two off the ball is completely night and day. Bosa has tunnel vision. Thibodeaux has hesitation. Does he play scared? Does he lack situational awareness? I see both. And no, I am not seeing improvement (at all) despite a couple positives in the traditional box score. I will say it again. He needs to play better, period.

-Jihad Ward, Oshane Ximines, and Boogie Basham were the other rotational edge defenders. None within the trio has stepped up with Azeez Ojulari out. Ward can set the edge against the run, but the next time he comes off a blocker to make a big stop will be the first. Basham has been unimpressive in action since the trade from BUF, as he looks like the JV version of Ward. And we know what Ximines is. He did add a pressure with 2 tackles. I think it is time we see Tomon Fox on the field.


-Dexter Lawrence had another Dexter Lawrence game, finishing with 7 tackles, 3 pressures, and a TFL. Leonard Williams came to play as well, at least more so than the previous two weeks, and finished with a half-sack, 6 tackles, and 2 QB hits. He was flagged for a roughing penalty that was correct when looking at the rulebook, but it is the one I just do not support. I am all about protecting quarterbacks but expecting a guy to fall a certain way while moving at full speed is a garbage way of making life impossible for defenders.

-D.J. Davidson got the look over rookie Jordon Riley again, and he showed why. On just 19 snaps (9 run / 10 pass) he finished with a half-sack, 2 pressures, and a pass break up at the line. He was injured on a dirty play by Jake Brendel, a play he should be fined for. Davidson was pushing the interior SF linemen around every time he got on the field. The injury to the elbow appeared to be fairly serious.

-A’Shawn Robinson and Rakeem Nunez-Roches are, at least, playing physical and prideful. They are getting beat initially at the point-of-attack and they do not have the recovery quicks to make up for it. They are clearly frustrated because of the part they are playing in the defense getting beat up front against the run. Robinson did end up with 5 tackles and pursues the action with a lot of hustle. I am still holding onto hope the line can turn things around. The size, power, and effort are all there from all of the guys.


-Micah McFadden had a game. He led the team with 10 tackles, including 4 for a loss. He missed a tackle early on and I thought “here we go again”. But he made several tackles on plays away from the ball. He read the screen game exceptionally well and I guarantee other teams will be using his performance on film as “teach tape” throughout the season. He remains an easy target in the passing game but if he gets this kind of results downhill, they can deal with him being weak in backwards coverage.

-Bobby Okereke does not seem fully comfortable in the scheme. I say that because when he fills downhill hard, he is an absolute menace. But there still seems to be a lack of consistency to that part of his game and it is causing significant issues against the run. If I had to come up with a single catalyst to the issues the defense has there, it is him. He did finish with 9 tackles and 2 pressures (both untouched) but 3 missed tackles are way too many for a leader of the defense, the green dot.

-Isaiah Simmons saw a slight uptick in playing time, finishing with 4 tackles. His lack of feel for angles and blocking on a 3rd-and-13 conversion was an absolute killer. The speed and range are great assets but only valuable if he knows that to do. Very poor situational awareness by him on that play.


-Another rough night for the rookie corners. Deonte Banks suffered an arm injury and at the time of this writing, we do not have the MRI results. Tre Hawkins missed 2 (of his 3 on the night) tackles on the same play, something you could go an entire season never seeing. He got flagged for holding and allowed every target in his direction to be completed. He looked lost, unsure, and tight. He may not be the best fit for the number of snaps he is seeing and after three weeks (and as many penalties), it may be worth moving someone else into his starting spot.

-Adoree’ Jackson saw most of his snaps outside again, the spot I think he simply works best. He did allow a long touchdown pass to Deebo Samuel late in the game but I thought his coverage was solid most of the night. He broke up a pass over the middle on a great corner play.

-Darnay Holmes moved into the slot when Jackson went outside. He finished with two impact plays, a pass break up and a TFL on a screen, but he was also flagged for a hold on a third down stop. The issue we have seen since his rookie season continues to be his kryptonite and what simply makes him unreliable.


-Xavier McKinney and Jason Pinnock both played every snap again. They combined for 12 tackles and 3 missed tackles. They were targeted often, especially with SF tight end George Kittle. Pinnock made the biggest blunder of the night on the 3rd-and-14 conversion where they had everything lined up, he simply needed to make the tackle. He did not come close. He turned it up a bit in the second half with 2 pressures. McKinney seemed a bit lost. He was not anticipating routes and the precision of the SF passing game kept exposing it.


-K Graham Gano: 2/2 (Made 44, 57). The 57-yarder ties his career-long with NYG.
-Jamie Gillan: 6 punts / 52.7 avg – 49.0 net


-LB Micah McFadden, DT Leonard Williams, K Graham Gano


-CB Tre Hawkins, OG Markus McKethan, S Xavier McKinney


1. The best coach in football is Kyle Shanahan. That’s where I stand with him, and I know I’m not alone. What he has done over the years despite such injury turmoil (especially at QB) is something most (if not all) coaches would crumble under. He is a magician and trend setter when it comes to finding ways to play efficient football. Early down passing, motion pre-snap, versatile personnel packaging, etc. The scheme itself is fun to watch no matter who they play. Since 2017, they have been the 10th, 4th, 6th, 1st, 3rd, and 9th most injured team in the league, respectively. They made the NFC Championship despite zero games with their QB1, RB1, TE1, WR1, WR2 all healthy at the same time last season. How many teams could pull that off? I don’t think any. Coaching made the difference.

2. SF had 196 yards after the catch in this game alone. The Giants total net yards were 150. The thing is, SF is always among the league’s best in yards after the catch. They’re also near the top in explosive run plays. How come? Scheme is one, but also the kind of players they go after. They’re all strong and powerful relative to their positions and maybe the most overlooked component to their success is how hard they block downfield for each other. It is such a difference maker.

3. SF is one of the two or three best teams in the NFC. How did they get there? You may be surprised to see their early draft results in recent years. Since John Lynch took over in 2017, here are their first-round picks: DT Solomon Thomas (#3), OT Mike McGlinchey (#9), DE Nick Bosa (#2), DT Javon Kinlaw (#14), QB Trey Lance (#3). To be blunt, that is a terrible looking list outside of Bosa (the highest paid defender in the NFL). Only Kinlaw remains on the team. How is Lynch considered one of the top GMs in football and what can NYG learn from it? If you go back to 2017 and start going through their day 2/3 picks, you’re going to be wowed. TE George Kittle, DT D.J. Jones, CB D.J. Reed, LB Fred Warner, LB Dre Greenlaw, WR Jauan Jennings, OT Colton McKivitz, RB Elijah Mitchell, S Talanoa Hufanga, QB Brock Purdy, OG Spencer Burford. These guys in combination with the aggressive trades for OT Trent Williams and RB Christian McCaffrey are the catalysts to this being such a well-balanced team. Keep this in mind in the coming years with the NYG regime led by Joe Schoen. Even when you miss in the first, the doors are open later on to build the nucleus. You must find the right guys there.


1. So let’s not beat the dead horses. Is Daniel Jones worth the money? Are the #5 and #7 picks from the 2022 draft going to step up? Save it for another time, I’m sure history will repeat itself. Let’s turn the attention to Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale. It is hard to fully diagnose what is going on, but the results are scary. 98 points allowed in 3 games (let’s take off 14 for the special teams + defensive TDs from week 1). So, 84 points allowed. Sixth worst in yards per play allowed. Last in turnovers. Fourth most in yards per pass allowed. 14th most yards per rush allowed. Second worst in pressure percentage. Sixth most missed tackles. Seventh worst on third down. The personnel was upgraded. There are 7 returning starters. And everything has gone backwards. Has the league figured out Martindale? It is something that needs to be considered.

2. I’m not a fan of the “must win” label some put on games unless is mathematically eliminates someone from contention. So, no, Week 4 against Seattle is not a must win. But getting a 3-day rest advantage over a 1-1 team that is flying from the West Coast is one of the easier set ups they have and not taking advantage of it would be such a major blow to the vibe of this team.

3. The one time NYG scored a touchdown came on a drive where they had the biggest gain of the day. A 22-yard pass interference call on a deep ball to Waller. Getting the ball more vertical like this creates so many more opportunities for the offense. You can get that cheap penalty, which when it comes to results end up being the same as a long completion. It puts things on tape and in memories of defenders that needs to be accounted for, opening space up underneath. And it can change the entire mojo of a team. NYG needs to find ways to push the ball downfield at least a handful of times week in, week out. They have the speed.

Sep 222023
Brian Daboll, New York Giants (September 21, 2023)

Brian Daboll – © USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants kept it close for a while, but they were soundly defeated 30-12 on Thursday night by a clearly better San Francisco 49ers team at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The Giants are now 1-2 on the season.

Statistically, the game was not close. The 49ers dramatically out-gained the Giants in offensive snaps (78 to 46), first downs (26 to 10), total net yards (441 to 150), net yards rushing (141 to 29), net yards passing (300 to 121), and time of possession (39:10 to 20:50). The 49ers were also 9-of-16 on 3rd down (56 percent) while the Giants were only 3-of-12 (25 percent).

Most of the 1st quarter was taken up by each team’s opening possession. The 49ers received the football to start the game, driving 64 yards in 15 plays. However, the New York defense stiffened at their own 11-yard line with three straight incompletions by quarterback Brock Purdy. The 49ers settled for a 28-yard field goal.

The Giants’ first drive gained 49 yards on 12 plays. Place kicker Graham Gano converted on his 44-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3 with 3:18 left in the quarter. San Fransisco picked up one first down and then punted the ball away on their second possession. The Giants then went three-and-out.

It was in the 2nd quarter where the 49ers began to pull away. San Fransisco’s third offensive possession was an 11-play, 72-yard drive resulted in a 9-yard touchdown pass. After a second consecutive three-and-out by the Giants, the 49ers put together a virtually identical scoring drive, this one traveling 73 yards in 11 plays with running back Christian McCaffrey scoring from four yards out. The 49ers were now up 17-3 with 1:40 left in the half.

On New York’s fourth and final possession of the first half, the team did manage to put another field goal on the board after picking up 37 yards on eight plays. Gano’s 57-yard field goal cut the score to 17-6 at the break.

The two teams exchanged punts early in the 3rd quarter. The 49ers were flagged with a 15-yard fair catch interference penalty, setting up the Giants on the San Fransisco 37-yard line to start their second possession of the half. After a 7-yard pass, the 49ers were also flagged with a 22-yard pass interference penalty at the 8-yard line. On the very next snap, running back Matt Breida scored from eight yards out, cutting the score to 17-12. The 2-point conversion failed.

The 49ers responded with another 11-play drive that gained 72 yards. The New York defense stiffened again the red zone, holding the 49ers to a 21-yard field goal. San Fransisco extended their lead to 20-12.

The Giants went three-and-out and punted the ball away. The 49ers then drove 51 yards in eight plays to set up a 36-yard field goal that made the score 23-12 early in the 4th quarter. Down by 11 points with 12:47 to play, New York needed to make something happen. But the result was another three-and-out. The 49ers then put the game to bed with an 8-play, 70-yard drive that ended with a 27-yard touchdown throw. With just under six minutes to play, the 49ers had a commanding 30-12 advantage.

The Giants gained two of their 10 first downs on the ensuing drive. But this ended with an interception after quarterback Daniel Jones’ pass went off the hands of tight end Darren Waller with 3:39 left in the game. The last few minutes were uneventful as the game had already been decided.

Jones completed 22-of-32 passes for 137 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. He was sacked twice and only gained five rushing yards on two carries. His leading receiver was Parris Campbell with six catches for just 24 yards. The team’s leading ground gainer was Breida with just 17 yards on four carries.

Defensively, for the third game, the Giants did not force a turnover. They did accrue their first two sacks of the season, one by linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux and half sacks by defensive linemen Leonard Williams and D.J. Davidson. Linebacker Micah McFadden lead the team with 10 tackles, including four for losses. However, the defense did give up 441 offensive yards and six scoring drives.

GAME VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS are available on YouTube.

The Giants activated (standard elevation) OL Jaylon Thomas and OLB Oshane Ximines from the Practice Squad to the 53-man roster.

Inactive for the game were RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring), OG Ben Bredeson (concussion), OLB Azeez Ojulari (hamstring), DL Jordon Riley, CB Cor’Dale Flott, and S Gervarrius Owens.

CB Deonte Banks (arm) and DL D.J. Davidson (elbow) left the game with injuries. X-rays on Banks’ arm were negative, but he will undergo an MRI on Friday. RT Evan Neal appeared to injure his ankle late in the game but said he was OK.

Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Brian Daboll and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at

  • Head Coach Brian Daboll (Video)
  • QB Daniel Jones (Video)
  • WR Wan’Dale Robinson (Video)
  • DL Dexter Lawrence (Video)
  • OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux (Video)
  • ILB Bobby Okereke (Video)

Head Coach Brian Daboll will address the media by conference call on Friday.

Sep 202023
Kayvon Thibodeaux, New York Giants (September 17, 2023)

Kayvon Thibodeaux – © USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants came as close to falling off the tight rope as one can get last Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. They may have regained their balance with one of the most memorable games in franchise history, but they are still clearly shaky with some strong wind gusts about to hit them in the face.

Let’s get the bad out of the way first. Perhaps the Giants were still reeling from their 40-0 drubbing by the Cowboys. Perhaps the frontline players are still trying to knock the rust off after having hardly played in the preseason. Perhaps the Giants simply are not that good. But getting dominated by the Joshua Dobbs-led Arizona Cardinals in the first half in a must-win game may have been the low point of my NYG fandom. And I’ve seen a lot of horrific moments in the past 40 years. I’ve never been more confused and disappointed as a fan as I was at halftime. How could this be happening? What is going on? To be honest, I still don’t know. And the fact that actually did happen is a huge red flag.

The good is obvious. 31 second half points. Not giving up at 20-0, or probably even more tellingly, at 28-7. Keeping their poise and executing when every single possession had to result in a long scoring drive. That is the type of game that can change the trajectory of an entire season. It was also another indication that maybe, just maybe, Daniel Jones is actually a pretty darn good quarterback.

There is just one “little” problem on the horizon. Having to play a West Coast road game on Thursday night is incredibly tough enough, but to have that team be the San Fransisco 49ers, the most physical team in football, is an almost impossible mountain to climb. Indeed, this couldn’t be a worse opponent for the Giants coming off an emotional win on a short week. Like the Cowboys and Eagles, the 49ers are another team that wins because they are exceptionally strong up front on both sides of the football. The Giants have proven over and over again they can’t compete with those types of teams. Not yet.

And after Thursday, it hardly gets any easier. Long story short, the Giants are going to have to pull off a major upset or two within the next month or they are going to be 1-5 heading into the October 22nd game against the Commanders. The next four opponents? 49ers, Seahawks, Dolphins, and Bills. That’s why 20-0 at halftime against the Cardinals is so alarming.


  • RB Saquon Barkley (ankle – out)
  • WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee – questionable)
  • LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring – out)
  • OG Ben Bredeson (concussion – out)
  • ILB Micah McFadden (neck – questionable)
  • OLB Azeez Ojulari (hamstring – out)

By all accounts, the Giants’ offense had its best training camp in years. That was backed up by the second day of practices against the Detroit Lions and the impressive first offensive series against the Panthers. Then came that absolute disaster against the Dallas Cowboys where the team could do nothing right and only generated 63 passing yards. “But that was the Cowboys, the Giants will get right against the Cardinals!” At halftime in Glendale, the Giants had five first downs and were scoreless for six straight quarters. It was an incomprehensible result given the offseason additions.

Whatever the reasons, the Giants dramatically came out of their mental slump after halftime. The team scored on every offensive possession, including drives of 75, 75, 80, 64, and 56 yards. Daniel Jones and his weapons were a machine. I’m not sure there has ever been such shocking turnaround over the span of eight quarters… historic, embarrassing ineptitude for six quarters immediately followed by near flawless execution.

Why? Obviously the players executed better. Look no further than the play of Daniel Jones. He was on a different level in the second half. The line also gave him more time and Saquon Barkley started to play like Saquon Barkley. But there was more to it than that too. Jalin Hyatt did something that he did all throughout training camp: he blew past both the corner and deep safety for a 58-yard catch that really probably should have been a 75-yard touchdown. That one play put the fear of God into Arizona’s defense. It changed everything. Up until that point, the Cardinals had not really respected the deep threats (even though they were lucky that Jones missed Darius Slayton deep in the first half). The offensive line also enabled Jones to take the shot to Hyatt. Had that been against Dallas, the play would have resulted in a sack.

The offense employed by Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka is all about spacing, both vertically and horizontally. The Hyatt deep shot put the horizontal back into play. Note how players were getting open far easier after that down-the-field completion. Arizona was also still being heavily influenced by the play fakes to Saquon Barkley. In my opinion, the Arizona game plan was to not let Barkley beat them. Jones reached a new level, his receivers now had room to operate, and Arizona paid the ultimate price. Touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, game-winning field goal. It doesn’t get any better than that.

So the Giants got out their funk. Finally. They are ready to rock and roll now. Normally, I’d say yes and be very hopeful and excited. However, there are three big problems: (1) the offensive line is still unsettled given the injury situation to Andrew Thomas and now Ben Bredeson, (2) Saquon Barkley is going to be out at least one game, and most importantly (3) the San Fransisco 49er defense. The schedule makers did the Giants no favors with this one.

Yes, the New York offensive line performed surprisingly well with Joshua Ezeudu playing at left tackle and Marcus McKethan playing at right guard. But that was against an Arizona Cardinals defense that was missing two starters in the front seven. The 49ers are on a completely different level. This is a team that went into Pittsburgh and made the Steelers look soft, holding them to seven points. Josh Ezeudu, who has barely played at left tackle in the pros, now faces right end Nick Bosa, the defensive player of the year who had 18.5 sacks in 2022. Evan Neal, who is still having his issues in pass pro, will face Drake Jackson who already has three sacks this year. The interior defensive linemen – Arik Armstead and Javon Hargrave – are two of the best two-way defensive tackles in football. Hargrave had 11 sacks with the Eagles in 2022. They are also deep at the position. Mark Glowinski will have to fill in for Bredeson.

It may start with the defensive line, but it doesn’t end there, aside from Bosa, the 49ers had two more All Pros on defense, linebacker Fred Warner and safety Talanoa Hufanga. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw is an underrated tackling machine. The secondary is solid at corner and very strong at safety. On paper, this is a complete mismatch against the team with the top rated defense in all of football in 2022 (both in terms of yards and points).

To win, the Giants will have to hit some big plays in the passing game. They won’t be able to run ball consistently against this defense, with possible exception of Daniel Jones, who will likely come out of this game pretty battered. They also need to prevent turnovers. The guy who needs to play more is Hyatt. He can help loosen up any defense. Whether the offensive line can give Jones the time he needs to get him the ball is a different matter entirely.

I’m a big fan of Wink Martindale. But I wrote before the opener, “The pressure is on Martindale to elevate New York’s 25th ranked defense that was also 27th against the run. To be blunt, the Giants had the worst defense in the NFC East. He knows how to do it. His defenses in Baltimore were always top notch in run defense. And Joe Schoen gave him a lot of new toys to play with.”

Last week, I wrote, “Wink Martindale and his defensive players are very fortunate that the media and fans are focusing almost exclusively on the Giants’ offensive woes this week. Because the defense laid an egg on Sunday night too. The yardage figures were subdued mainly because Dallas had fewer plays and offensive possessions than the Giants. Nevertheless, the defense allowed five scoring drives, including three rushing touchdowns. Dallas was 6-of-13 (46 percent) on third down and 1-of-2 on fourth down. The Giants had no sacks only hit the quarterback three times. They did not create a turnover.”

Well, with fans now at least temporarily mollified by the 31-point second-half against the Cardinals, Wink is very much in the spotlight this week. The Giants allowed five consecutive scoring drives against Arizona (it could have been six except for a missed field goal). The Giants are the only team in the NFL without a sack or turnover. Somewhat surprisingly, they are a respectable 15th overall in yards allowed, but the run defense is still bottom tier, allowing over 136 yards per game.

Want a key stat? The 49ers have the NFL’s #1 defense against the run in terms of yards per carry (3.4). The Giants are tied for 31st with 5.2. So we have a match-up where the league’s most innovative and third-most productive running team (173.5 yards per game) will face one of the NFL’s worst-rank run defenses for the past two years. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to see where this is going.

Fans will understandably focus on the glamor positions and talk about Cinderella story quarterback Brock Purdy, two-way threat Christian McCaffrey, one of the best tight ends in football in George Kittle, and dynamic receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk for good reason. Say what you want about Purdy, but the rest of those guys are studs. However, to me, the face of this offensive football team is left tackle Trent Williams, a mountain of a man who just obliterates his opponents. On paper, the rest of the line isn’t overly impressive, but they play well together as a unit and are very physical in the running game. They are also helped by the innovative running schemes employed by Shanahan.

The challenge with playing the 49ers is this: you have to stop the run. They won’t abandon it. At the same time, the 49ers have enough explosive weapons at running back, tight end, and wide receiver to make big plays in the passing game. It makes them very tough to defend.

The only shot the Giants have in this game is to do something they haven’t been able to do in years with multiple general managers, head coaches, and defensive coordinators, and that is stop a very good and very physical ground game. The Giants have good depth on the defensive line now. The Giants should play four defensive tackles much of the game up front and keep rotating them. Wink is also going to have to take chances with the young players in the secondary and allow them to sink or swim. Easy touchdowns could be the result. But it’s pick your poison and I don’t want to see the 49ers run for 250 yards against the Giants.

There are a number of players on this defensive roster who have been missing in action. Kayvon Thibodeaux has received the bulk of the criticism for understandable reasons. But there are others including Leonard Williams, Azeez Ojulari (who is hurt again), Bobby Okereke (who was THE big free agent acquisition in the offseason), and Rakeem Nunez-Roches (who was signed to stop the run). Someone has to get to the quarterback. Someone has to force and recover a fumble. Someone needs to make a pick. And based on last Sunday’s performance, everyone, and I mean everyone, needs to tackle. The 49ers saw the film. They have to be licking their chops.

I said I was going to keep score on Thomas McGaughey. While the Giants didn’t do anything special on special teams, they didn’t lose the game. Eric Gray made some nice plays fielding punts and Graham Gano kicked the game winner. Let’s be generous and tie Tom’s record up at 1-1.

Note that 49ers returner Ray-Ray McCloud has 13 career fumbles.

Brian Daboll on Kyle Shanahan: “He’s done this for a long time. He has a ton of experience. He has, I’d say, a number of plays that he’s run throughout his past and he’s always evolving. That’s what I appreciate about Kyle. He’s a heck of a football coach. He creates, I’d say, a lot of issues, whether that’s run force issues, whether that’s making plays look exactly the same and setting things up. He’s a timely play caller. He’s an excellent coach.”

Daboll on the Giants defense: “Run defense is really team defense. It’s controlling the line of scrimmage, it’s making sure we have good run fits and run support. It takes all 11 guys… I’d say we play a lot of fronts. Wink has pretty much every front you can have… Obviously, we want to create some negative plays, whether that’s negative run plays or pass plays. We got to do a good job of getting them to those pass situations, controlling first down so they can’t play the game on their terms.”

Fans will think I’m being too pessimistic about this contest, but I go with what I see. Based on last season and the first two games of this season, the 49ers are one of the best teams in the NFL. And much of that success is predicated on the play of their lines. That’s exactly the type of team that gives the Giants trouble. And on top of that, this is a Thursday night road game coming off an emotional win? C’mon.

If this were a normal Sunday game against a different team, I would like the Giants chances. Not in this one.

Sep 192023
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (September 17, 2023)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports


Daniel Jones: 26/37 – 321 yards / 2 TD – 1 INT / 103.5 RAT

Check this out. With 1:09 left in the 2nd quarter, Jones was 6/12 – 43 yards / 0 TD – 1 INT. Now go take another look at the final stat line. From that moment he went 20/25 – 278 yards / 2 TD – 0 INT. Jones also had 59 yards on the ground with a rushing touchdown. You want a real-life look at a quarterback who has put a team on his shoulders to lead the best comeback this franchise has had in the modern era? This was it. We have seen the toughness Jones exudes since his rookie year. We have seen him make big time throws in the second half to all three levels. We have seen him make plays with his legs that, maybe, five other starting quarterbacks in the NFL can make. But we have never seen it all together in one half throughout a three-score comeback. This goes in the top five list of Jones’ best performances. What was so different in the second half? Three things came to mind after the two re-watches.

One, his targets stopped dropping balls. More support from the surrounding cast, which he had very little of in the first six quarters of the season, will always open the door to better potential results. The Waller/Barkley drops in the first half especially were killers. Two, Jones looked much more decisive and brave in the pocket. He abandoned the play too soon three times in the first half rather than stepping up and keeping his eyes downfield. Once he had some momentum build upon the third quarter (the long Hyatt completion was so key for that), he maneuvered the pocket with more precision and/or opted to tuck and run north. His time-to-decision was evidently faster. Three, his accuracy and timing were near-perfect. The underneath-to-intermediate throws were on the money, properly setting up his targets to allow them to move upfield right away after the completion. Jones made over a handful of big-time throws, the kind of throws everyone in the media would be pointing out if it were Joe Burrow (0-2) or Justin Herbert (0-2). Jones had the look of a winner in this one. Whatever it takes, whatever the situation. A lot went against him, and he rose up and led this team to a huge win.


-Saquon Barkley: 17 att – 63 yards – 1 TD / 6 rec – 29 yards – 1 TD

Unfortunately, Barkley on the second to last play of the game got caught between a pile of linemen and a defender coming in from the side, trapping his foot underneath a lineman while being twisted in the other direction. He will miss time, possibly a month.

As for his performance in this game, he was Robin to Jones’ Batman. A duo who came up with the big plays in key moments, the plays you pay these guys to make. The 3rd-and-9 touchdown pass was execution by both at the highest level we see in the sport. That was Mahomes-Kelce caliber, a score that very few pass catchers could make in this league. Barkley’s performance did come with a few warts. For the second straight week, he dropped a ball he should have held onto that resulted in an interception. For the second straight week, I have multiple runs where he danced/stutter stepped in the backfield while a crease was there (or about to be there) for the taking. 2nd-and-1 he turns sideways/runs backwards. These things cannot happen, and more situational awareness and better vision are needed. I’ll touch more on his replacement while injured at the bottom.

-Matt Breida had one carry for 5 yards, the play before Graham Gano’s winning-field goal. Eric Gray deserves credit for a 14-yard punt return in the fourth quarter to start the NYG possession that ended up tying the game at 28 in the fourth quarter. Both will be in for big roles just two days from now.


-I discussed how much this offense needs to generate more explosive plays from the passing game. It is near-essential for the team to take the next step. Enter Darius Slayton and Jalin Hyatt. Slayton had 3 catches for 62 yards. His completions were 29, 18, and 15 yards. Hyatt had just 2 catches, both resulting in explosive plays (one for 58 yards, one for 31 yards) and were the two longest plays of the afternoon. Slayton also had a catch in the fourth quarter where he (barely) landed out of bounds that would have been an all-time highlight had the field been a few inches wider. Jones also underthrew him in the first half on a play where he had 2-3 steps on the corner. Hyatt is the key, here. A lot to be put on a third rounder but the way he moves and way he is tracking the ball and how fast he can easily get over the top can change how defenses work the short to intermediate routes. Hyatt looks ready for more.

-Isaiah Hodgins did not contribute much from a volume perspective, but he did come down with the game-tying touchdown on a brilliant catch that was very high-difficulty. I did charge him with a drop in the third quarter on a fade pass from Jones, but I will admit it could have gone either way. Regardless, Hodgins is going to benefit the most if teams have to start respecting the deep passing game.

-Parris Campbell added a drop and was flagged for a false start on a potentially controversial two-point conversion attempt, which valid arguments could be made both for and against. After the penalty, Daboll opted to simply go for the extra point to make it 28-21 rather than the conversion in an effort to make it 28-22. Maybe it was one of those good mistakes. Sterling Shepard had 1 catch for 4 yards. He played just 10 snaps.


-We saw some of the biggest value Waller brings to the table in the second half. He finished with 6 catches for 76 yards (5/64 were in quarters three-four). Four of those went for a first down, which led the team and tied for the league-high among tight ends in Week 2. Watching the All-22 angle and everything makes simple sense. More vertical pressure on the secondary because of Slayton + Hyatt combined with linebackers who cannot hang with Waller creates separation and space. He seems to already have a strong chemistry with Jones and I expect it to further improve in time. The two negatives were a first quarter drop (knocked out by a defender) and the fact he does seem to struggle with stride length. The hamstring/nerve issue is real, and it may inhibit some of what I thought he could offer as a seam pusher up the field.

-Uneventful game for Daniel Bellinger, who played under half the snaps as the team was very heavy on 11 personnel usage (3 WR). He had two losses as a blocker that were a result of poor initial footwork, but he did throw a key block on Barkley’s touchdown run as he lined up in the backfield.


-Here is a good sign. The days and hours leading up to the game, Joshua Ezeudu and Markus McKethan were the main talking points. With Andrew Thomas being declared out with a hamstring injury early on, Ezeudu was placed into the left tackle spot over Matt Peart. He played 508 snaps in college there, but none in the NFL and almost zero practice time. McKethan, who was Ezeudu’s teammate at North Carolina, missed all of 2022 (his rookie season) after tearing his ACL during a scrimmage in training camp last August and would be taking his first pro snaps for the benched Mark Glowinski. The best part? All that pre-game chatter about the changes and it was the last time we heard anything about them.

How did they play? Ezeudu was flagged for a false start prior to the first play and allowed a one-yard sack on the second drive that was not a bad beat. From there? Nearly flawless. McKethan allowed a half-sack and 2 pressures. He struggled with two separate blitz pickups and getting to the linebackers at the second level. But what impressed me was how he never abandoned techniques. This guy is very big and long for a guard. His 35.5” arms and 85.5”wingspan are top five in the history of the position. Seeing him long-arm guys (even with his feet in the wrong spot) got him a few extra wins. Excellent firsts for both former Tar Heels and I will touch on the OL more below.

-Center John Michael Schmitz was rock solid all game. I still see him losing too much ground on these aggressive outside zone runs but he isn’t getting beat and that is what’s most important. I also saw him make a couple instinctive moves that I only see a handful of centers make in the league. Combine that with the perfect grade in pass protection and two QB sneak successes, his grade was very good.

-Ben Bredeson took a nasty blow to the head and was quickly diagnosed with a concussion. He allowed a TFL before exiting. Mark Glowinski came off the bench to play left guard, a spot he hadn’t played since 2017 with Seattle. After allowing a TFL right away, he also provided above average play.

-Evan Neal did look better than he did in week one but was still the one guy with a negative grade up front. He allowed 2 pressures, was flagged for a hold (that wiped out a touchdown), a false start, and received a ton of help throughout the game. I did note how important that help would be for the offense, but I still can’t get behind him as a player yet. Remember, I was very high on him as a prospect, and I still believe he can be a good player. But taking my bias out, Neal still struggles in pass protection way too much.


-Kayvon Thibodeaux has a lot of eyes on him, rightfully so. He was the 5th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. He is 0-for-2 this season on hitting just the minimum standard for what is expected of him. He had 1 pressure which resulted in a QB hit and even that was on a stunt where ARI left him unblocked up the middle. I was also disappointed on the lack of backside pursuit on the ARI outside zone runs. Two blockers in front of him pulling to the opposite side and he did not react fast enough. Now, it is possible he was playing assignment football and I do not question his effort. Thibodeaux plays hard. He simply does not always have the quick and natural football sense against the run on complex running plays. The conclusion here is that he has been a no-show through two weeks to start off the year.

-Azeez Ojulari missed the game with a soft tissue injury again (hamstring). He has now missed 11 of his last 18 games and that does not include playing under 20% of the snaps in their two playoff games last year.

-Oshane Ximines was activated and had a QB hit and a half-TFL on a play he went unblocked. He had one tackle and a missed tackle. Boogie Basham played a very quiet 13 snaps. The depth looks poor, the starters look poor. Nothing is set in stone, but that is the cold hard truth with the first 10% of the season now in the rear view mirror.


-Another week of solid rotations. Another week of solid Dexter Lawrence play. Another week of overall underwhelming group performance. Lawrence did end up shining and came up big when the team needed him the most. 4 tackles, one TFL (two separate half-TFL plays), and 3 pressures. Just another day at the office for the All-Pro. His impact on stuffing the run, even the outside runs, has been near make or break. When he gets doubled and neutralized, bad things are likely to happen. When ARI tried to single-man him, his push shrunk the creases to near-nonexistent.

-Leonard Williams added 2 pressures but finished with no tackles. I expect more out of him, to be blunt. He is getting moved too easily in the running game and he has not been getting off blocks like he did last year. He needs to find his groove after playing just 12 snaps in preseason. Lawrence is doing his part, Williams needs to step up and do his. It will impact multiple facets of the defense.

-The trio of accessories all had stretches of solid play, but they’re all limited. Hence why they are backups, I suppose. A’Shawn Robinson finished with three tackles and a half-TFL. D.J .Davidson was active in place of Jordon Riley, which I like because these two will be competing for snaps all season and that will bring the best out them respectively. He added one tackle. Rakeem Nunez-Roches struggled to make any sort of impact besides giving Williams the occasional breather. He was overwhelmed by double teams on running plays. These three guys combined for 31 pass rush snaps, and they did not accrue a single pressure. On a team that is struggling to get to the passer, it is a bigger deal in my eyes than it admittedly probably should be. Somebody needs to step up there. And it’s not like they’re doing well against the run. They’re averaging 6th-most yards per carry allowed among the 28 teams that have played two games so far.


-Add Bobby Okereke to the list of guys who looked like completely different players in the second half than the first. Almost as if the real one showed up at halftime and put on the #58 jersey before they came back out of the tunnel. He finished with 8 tackles, one for a loss. Early on, Okereke was not filling his gap hard or fast enough. But when the team needed big stops, he rose to the occasion especially in the third quarter. On the flip side, he was flagged for a pass interference that called off an interception, he was flagged for a personal foul for hitting the quarterback’s helmet, and he abandoned his gap on the Dobbs rushing touchdown. Too many killer plays for one guy, the green dot guy. But he was a big factor in the second half and it took him off the dud list.

-Micah McFadden got on that list early as well but stayed on it, unfortunately. He had four missed tackles. One of them resulted in a touchdown, one of them would have been a take down for a short loss, and another one would have resulted in a major loss. We know what he is at this point. He is effective in traffic because he is quick, low to the ground, and powerful. He is not even half as good in space and/or while moving laterally. The missed tackles need to stop, it changes drives.

-Isaiah Simmons played 13 snaps, again as expected, nine of which he dropped into coverage. He finished with 2 tackles and a pressure on a scramble. The speed showed up and made a difference in two occasions. Do I expect him to play more? Not yet. Do I expect him to take over for McFadden? Absolutely not. That isn’t his position.


-Rookie Deonte Banks played all 64 snaps, a positive considering he left Week One early with cramps. He is a work in progress, which is stating the obvious. He flashes excellent sheer talent and ability. He is physical and his coverage is borderline too grabby. He was flagged for illegal contact for the second straight week. His biggest negatives came against the run. While it is not priority A or B for a corner, Banks needs to stop missing tackles (2) and losing track of his edge responsibilities. The game is too fast to make up for a bad initial read.

-Adoree’ Jackson also missed a tackle, playing every snap. He finished with 5 tackles and allowed 4 catches on 6 targets. Most of those passes were incredibly tough assignments on quick strikes but he did come up with two big pass breakups. He looks more comfortable in coverage, but as I said a few weeks ago, his lack of presence in tackling from nickel will be an issue this defense needs to cope with.

-Rookie Tre Hawkins was not involved much on his 40 snaps. He came up with an impressive deep ball pass break up where he stayed on top of the assignment and was inches away from the interception. He, too, missed a tackle and he also made a bad read on the Marquis Brown short touchdown catch. He looked hesitant and unsure, and like Banks, the game is too fast for that. He was taken off the field on their two-corner looks, where Jackson went back to the outside.


-Xavier McKinney played all 64 snaps and Jason Pinnock missed just one play while he had a contact lens replaced. The former had 7 tackles and a pass break up. He missed a tackle and was a flagged for a questionable personal foul in the first half. It was a solid game for a guy who may be the best blitzer on the team. Pinnock led the team with 10 tackles, but also missed 3. He plays so fast that at times it is too fast for his own good. I’ll take the fast mistakes though; you can live with those. He had an interception that was called back, he had 1.5 TFL, and easily looks like the fastest reactive player on the defense. This unit is not creating turnovers but if/when they do, the two safeties will be involved. I still think they miss Julian Love (off to a tough start in SEA), but the group overall is not even close to one of the concerns defensively.

-Bobby McCain and Dane Belton combined for just 8 snaps and made no impact.


K Graham Gano: 1/1 (made 34 and a long extra point)
P Jamie Gillan: 3 punts / 37.0 avg – 37.0 net


-QB Daniel Jones, OT Joshua Ezeudu, DT Dexter Lawrence


-LB Micah McFadden, ED Kayvon Thibodeux, OT Evan Neal


1. The talk surrounding ARI, for months, has centered around tanking for the 2024 NFL Draft. This franchise has their own pick (expected to be top 5) and the Texans pick (acquired in a draft-day trade, also expected to be top 5). That is realistically going to probably land them two top 5 picks. You can even set a solid market on them being two of the top three picks. They traded away a solid OL depth / starting guard in Josh Jones right before the season (again to HOU) and they traded Simmons to NYG. They cut DeAndre Hopkins. They traded for their starting quarterback in the final week of August. Who knows what they are doing with Kyler Murray? All of this in a year where the next big thing at quarterback is likely to declare for the 2024 Draft AND there is a generational wide receiver likely to be there as well. No, I do not think this team cares about the loss yesterday.

2. About 14 months ago, quarterback Kyler Murray signed a 5-year/$230 million extension with the club. $160 million guaranteed. Can they actually move on from this deal without crippling the team’s ability to spend? In short, yes. They could move him next offseason and absorb $46.2 million in dead money. Yes, a lot of money but we have seen worse. Atlanta recently did something in that tier with Matt Ryan. They could wait until after June 1 to trade him and absorb $13 million dead cap in 2023, $33.3 million in 2025. Considering what I know about General Manager Monti Ossenfort, I think they will make the move as soon as possible. The interesting debate is how much he plays in 2023. They may not want to fall into accidental wins (Murray can still take over a game backyard football style), but they do want to increase his value to QB-hungry teams that are ready to win. This will be incredibly interesting to follow.

3. Prior to 2023, here is the list of the first draft picks this team has made since 2014: TE Trey McBride, LB Zaven Collins, LB Isaiah Simmons, QB Kyler Murray, QB Josh Rosen (I was very wrong on him too), Haason Reddick, Robert Nkemdiche, D.J. Humphries, Deone Bucannon. There is more to a draft class than the first rounder, NYG fans know that. But that many misses in that short span of a time (including 5 picks in the front half of round 1) is the quickest way to getting fired. To be frank, I am surprised some guys in that front office have held onto their jobs for that long. But with some of the things I know about the management within that organization behind the scenes, I can’t say I am surprised. Not everyone in the NFL has a job because they truly deserve it. Previous ARI front offices (and even some coaches) are prime examples of that. Better days ahead.


1. The Saquon Barkley injury is, unfortunately, something we have grown somewhat used to over the years on a season-to-season basis. The multiple serious injuries (those that cause multiple consecutive games missed) suffered to the lower body are such a killer for a back who has a game built on shiftiness and burst. Instead of harping on him and running back contracts, the better discussion centers around how to replace the production. Nobody on this roster is replacing Barkley. But the Moneyball approach is where to go in discussion; how do they replace his yards and touchdowns? It needs to be a team effort, one that is so much more doable than the previous times this has happened because of better depth. Sure, Matt Breida and Eric Gray and Gary Brightwell will get the carries, but nobody needs to be the guy. Maybe Jones gets more designed (but safe) carries. Maybe we see more dump offs to Campbell and (eventually) Wan’Dale Robinson. Maybe Gray excels where Barkley struggles (vision, feel, decision making). Maybe they get more aggressive downhill burst from Breida/Brightwell. The options are plenty and it should not crush the offense.

2. Million dollar question. What is the ideal offensive line configuration now? Let’s discuss this from the perspective that Andrew Thomas is back, and Ben Bredeson is healthy. Both may be out Thursday, though. When they’re ready to go, I think they roll with Thomas-Ezeudu-Schmitz-McKethan-Neal for the time being. Glowinski and Bredeson off the bench are above average when considering depth around the league. Peart is the gameday swing tackle, but Ezeudu is the number one backup outside. I am not going down the path of replacing Neal with Ezeudu, it’s not even a thought. I am not considering Neal to guard, it’s not even a thought. The question I have is about Ezeudu. His snaps at guard have not been very good so far, but he was great at left tackle in his pro debut. As pleased as I was with his game, let’s not forget the Arizona group of pass rushers is a strong contender for worst in the NFL. We will have a clearer picture after the game Thursday night.

3. This defense just looks terrible. While they did step up in the second half, I am considering the entire game within my evaluation. They’re one of four teams that have played 2 games as of this writing that has not forced a turnover (Dallas has forced 7 and Philadelphia has forced 6). They are the ONLY team in the league without a single sack. They’re second to last in pressure rate. What is the solution? It seems Martindale is hesitant to blitz. His rate is middle of the league right now (after leading the NFL in 2022). The blitzes on pass plays resulted in 50% completion rate against ARI. Is he afraid of leaving the young corners on a true island play to play? Is he trying to play the game of deception when everyone plans for more blitzing? The front can’t get home with four pass rushers. The results can’t be too much worse than they are right now. I suggest Martindale go back to his roots and force things to happen.

4. A 38-7 loss against the Eagles in the Divisional Playoffs. A 40-0 loss to the Cowboys week one. A 20-0 deficit to one of the worst teams in the NFL after two quarters of football. That is a 10-quarter span where this team was being outscored 98-7. That is historically bad. Not just bad; historic. This brought back a memory that many have chosen to forget. In year one of the Ben McAdoo era, NYG went 11-5 and lost a closer playoff game to the Packers. Eli Manning threw for 4,000+ yards, Landon Collins and Damon Harrison both made the All-Pro Team, and Odell Beckham finished third in the NFL in both catches and yards. Things were looking better than they had in 5 years. Fast forward to the very next season (2017), NYG started off 0-5, 1-8, and 2-13. McAdoo was fired in early December. The results on the field here in 2023 were appearing like something we have seen. Building momentum under a new Head Coach just to see it fall off a cliff. But as I, and many others, have said, this regime is different. Simply, different. I hate the “must win” label a game has in Week 2, but I will say I think this win will have a spillover impact very much like Week 1 in Tennessee did last season when NYG went for 2 instead of tying it up with an extra point. But there is more to be done, more to prove. The Giants have played some of the worst football league wide in 6 of 8 quarters. And this coaching staff called consecutive timeouts in the 4th quarter (resulting in a penalty). The short week is a big test.

Sep 172023
Graham Gano, New York Giants (September 17, 2023)

Giants celebrate game-winning field goal – © USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants at least temporarily saved their season with one of the most memorable comebacks in team history on Sunday, defeating the Arizona Cardinals 31-28 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Giants trailed the Cardinals 20-0 at halftime and 28-7 in the third quarter. Twenty-four unanswered points propelled them to the franchise’s largest comeback since the 1940s. However, the victory may have come at a price with running back Saquon Barkley suffering a potentially significant injury to his right ankle late in the game.

Following up on their 40-0 embarrassing performance against the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday night, the Giants continued to look dreadful in the first half against the Cardinals on both offense and defense.

How bad was it?

New York’s five first-half possessions resulted in five first downs, 81 total yards, three punts, one interception, and the half ending with a sack of quarterback Daniel Jones. Meanwhile, Arizona’s five offensive possessions resulted in 16 first downs, 241 total yards, a missed field goal, two touchdowns, and two field goals. At the break, the lifeless Giants were all-but-dead, trailing 20-0.

The Giants received the football to start the second half. After a touchback on the kickoff, all it took was three plays for New York to finally get on the scoreboard for the first time this season. Jones completed a 58-yard pass to wide receiver Jalin Hyatt down to the Arizona 17-yard line. Two plays later, Jones ran around left end for a 14-yard touchdown. Cardinals 20 – Giants 7.

That momentum was short lived as four minutes later, the Cardinals extended their lead 28-7 after an 8-play, 75-yard drive ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Joshua Dobbs and then a 2-point conversion. It was Arizona’s fifth consecutive scoring drive of the game.

Back came the Giants with a 75-yard drive of their own, this one taking 12 plays and ending with a 1-yard touchdown run by Barkley. On this possession, Jones completed a 29-yard pass to wide receiver Darius Slayton and ran for 13 yards on 3rd-and-12. Cardinals 28 – Giants 14.

The New York defense started off a bit shaky again late in the third quarter, giving up two first downs, including a 16-yard pass play on 3rd-and-11. But the defense stiffened at the New York 44-yard line and the Cardinals punted early in the fourth quarter.

The Giants drove for their third consecutive touchdown on the next series, which travelled 80 yards in 13 plays. Jones connected with Slayton for 15 yards and tight end Darren Waller for 25 on the first two plays. Jones also gained two yards on 4th-and-1. The drive ended with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Barkley on third-and-goal to make the score 28-21.

The Giants’ defense forced their first three-and-out on Arizona’s next possession and the New York offense started their fourth drive of the second half at their own 36-yard line with 7:31 to play. Jones scrambled for 15 yards on the first snap and then followed that up with a 31-yard pass to Hyatt to the Arizona 18-yard line. On 2nd-and-11, Jones connected with Waller for 13 yards to the 6-yard line. However, a touchdown run by Jones was nullified due to an offensive holding penalty on right tackle Evan Neal. After a 5-yard run by Barkley, Jones threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins on 2nd-and-goal. The game was now tied at 28-28 with 4:25 to play.

Aided by two false start penalties on the Cardinals, the Giants’ defense forced another three-and-out and the Giants got the ball back at their own 28-yard line with 2:31 left in the game. Barkley gained 18 yards on back-to-back passing and rushing plays. Jones then hit Slayton for 18 yards and Barkley gained 16 yards on a run. The Giants were now on the Arizona 20-yard line. Barkley lost three yards and then gained two on a play where he was hurt. Running back Matt Breida picked up five yards on 3rd-and-11 to set up place kicker Graham Gano’s game-winning 34-yard field with 19 seconds left.

The Cardinals did gain 19 yards on the first play of their final possession. But they were at their own 39-yard line with nine seconds left on the clock. The game ended after two more deep incompletions.

Jones finished the game 26-of-37 for 321 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception (which was off of the hands of Barkley). He also ran the ball nine times for 59 yards. Waller caught six passes for 76 yards. Slayton had 62 yards on three catches and Hyatt 89 yards on two catches. Barkley carried the ball 17 times for 63 yards and one touchdown.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 379 yards, including 151 yards rushing. For the second game in a row, the defense had no sacks or turnovers.

GAME VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS are available on YouTube.

On Saturday, the Giants activated (standard elevation) RB Taiwan Jones and OLB Oshane Ximines from the Practice Squad to the 53-man roster.

Inactive for the game were LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring), WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee), OLB Azeez Ojulari (hamstring), TE Lawrence Cager, DL Jordon Riley, CB Darnay Holmes, and S Gervarrius Owens.

OG Ben Bredeson (concussion) left the game in the second half. RB Saquon Barkley potentially seriously injured his right ankle late in the game. Tellingly, Barkley did not address the media after game. X-rays were reportedly negative.

Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Brian Daboll and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at

Head Coach Brian Daboll will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Sep 152023
Dexter Lawrence, New York Giants (September 10, 2023)

Dexter Lawrence – © USA TODAY Sports

All it took was 60 minutes of atrocious football to wipe out nearly most of the trust and goodwill created by Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll during the 2022 NFL season. Understandably, fans are now back to questioning everything. Why shouldn’t they? Twelve years of shoddy football and getting embarrassed by division rivals on national television will do that.

Too harsh? Too short-sighted? Have some patience?

Fuck off.

You had an entire offseason to prepare for the opening game, against an opponent that was one of your measuring sticks for progress. And the result was 40-0? It doesn’t get worse than that. In the entire 100-year history of the sport, there have been few more embarrassing results than that. The Dallas Cowboys were literally laughing at the Giants on the sidelines. Laughing.

The entire New York Giants franchise has a lot of work to do if they are going to regain any respect and trust.


  • WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee – doubtful)
  • TE Darren Waller (hamstring – probable)
  • LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring – questionable)
  • OT Matt Peart (elbow – probable)
  • OLB Azeez Ojulari (hamstring – doubtful)
  • LB Cam Brown (ankle – probable)
  • CB Deonte Banks (calf – probable)
  • CB Cor’Dale Flott (hamstring – probable)
  • S Gervarrius Owens (hamstring – probable)
  • PK Graham Gano (ankle – probable)

In the entire offseason, the Giants made ONE significant addition to the offensive line, the drafting of John Michael Schmitz in the second round. The Giants did not draft another offensive lineman; they didn’t even sign an undrafted offensive lineman. In free agency, the team signed reserve centers J. C. Hassenauer (who is on IR) and Sean Harlow (who is on Dallas’ practice squad). The argument was made they were going to develop the young players they had here. Thus far, that plan has failed miserably. The unit that was considered the weak spot of the entire team just played one of the worst games at the position in franchise history, which is saying something given some of the offensive lines this team has fielded in the past century.

I would argue the final score wasn’t the worst thing that happened on Sunday night. It was the play of Evan Neal. If Neal wasn’t the seventh overall player taken in the draft, he would probably be benched by now. Is it a lack of agility, confidence, technique? The fact that he missed two critical weeks of training camp with a concussion? Who knows? We can only go by what we see and that ain’t pretty. So far, the “sure thing” offensive tackle in the 2022 NFL draft has been a bust. From this game on, he’s fighting to remain in the NFL.

Some legitimate excuses can be made for Neal. Only one can be made for Mark Glowinksi’s atrocious performance. Glowinski was signed in free agency last year not to be a stud, but simply to be a steadying, veteran presence at right guard. In 2022, he was a bit too up and down, not living up to his 3-year, $18 million contract as the first free agent Joe Schoen signed. On Sunday night, he was an utter disaster, playing his worst game in his solid nine-year career. What is going on? I have no idea. It’s not his age. Glowinksi is 31 years old.

The only excuse for all of these guys is just how little they played together in the summer. I think the Giants made a mistake not settling on their starting unit much earlier in camp. I also think they made a mistake not playing them more in the preseason. Let’s hope that is the case because the alternative theories are far worse to contemplate.

OK, this is the offensive preview and I’m on paragraph five and still talking about the offensive line. We all know why. If the offensive line can’t block, nothing else matters. The Giants spent much of their resources this offseason re-signing Daniel Jones and upgrading the weapons around him. The opening night result? 14 first downs. 173 total yards. 63 net passing yards. Again, 63 net passing yards.

Who is playing quarterback and who he is throwing to doesn’t matter a lick if the offensive line can’t pass block for more than one second. It just doesn’t. You can only game plan so much. Talent and execution will win the day.

Offensive Line Coach Bobby Johnson has said over and over that who plays and who doesn’t is based player performance. He repeated that line a few times this offseason. “The players make the choice for us.” It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens here if the right side of the offensive line doesn’t dramatically improve. At the same time, the injury to Andrew Thomas certainly complicates matters.

The Cardinals are not to be taken lightly on the defensive side of the football. On opening day, their defensive gave the Washington Commanders fits with six sacks, six tackles for losses, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries (including one for a defensive touchdown), and one interception. Their head coach, Jonathan Gannon, was the defensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles last year. He knows how to play the Giants.

Wink Martindale and his defensive players are very fortunate that the media and fans are focusing almost exclusively on the Giants’ offensive woes this week. Because the defense laid an egg on Sunday night too. The yardage figures were subdued mainly because Dallas had fewer plays and offensive possessions than the Giants. Nevertheless, the defense allowed five scoring drives, including three rushing touchdowns. Dallas was 6-of-13 (46 percent) on third down and 1-of-2 on fourth down. The Giants had no sacks only hit the quarterback three times. They did not create a turnover.

Being down 16-0 in the first quarter had to take an emotional toll, but good defenses have to rise up. If your opponent makes a play on special teams or on defense, you need to respond in kind. Easier said than done? Sure, but that’s what good defenses do. Where was Bobby Okereke, Azeez Ojulari, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Leonard Williams, etc.? Make a play.

The Cardinals are not good on offense. Career back-up Joshua Dobbs is the starting quarterback. He’s started three games in the NFL, with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Against the Commanders, he did complete 21-of-30 passes, but for only 132 yards and no touchdowns. He was also sacked three times and fumbled three times (losing two). Arizona running backs rushed for 58 yards (receivers had more success on three carries).

In a game where the New York offense may struggle again, the Giants defense needs to dominate this game. Create turnovers and opportunities for the offense. No excuses. At least perform as well as Washington’s defense did in holding Arizona to 210 yards of offense.

At this point, Thomas McGaughey should be coaching for his job. The blocked field goal opened the flood gates and got the Giants’ best offensive player hurt. Graham Gano, the team’s best special teams player, also got his ankle rolled.

It’s time to keep score. McGaughey is 0-1 in 2023. And his press conference with the media on Thursday suggests he knows he’s on the spot.

I’m simply going to use the same quote I used last week, as it is even more appropriate this week.

Joe Schoen on the 2023 season: “We haven’t played a game yet. So, we’ll see. Again, we’re going to continue to prepare for Dallas and get ready for the season. I think I said it last year at the same press conference: it takes a few weeks into the regular season to figure out who the team is, how we’re going to react when adversity strikes, and how we’re going to handle if there’s success, or if you’re down at halftime.

“I think that showed last year against Tennessee in the second half. I didn’t know how the team was going to react coming out of halftime or if you’re playing Green Bay in London and you’re down in the second quarter, 17-3. We still have a lot to learn about this team. We’ll see when it comes to Sunday against the Cowboys, how they’re going to come together as a team and gel and how they’re going to react in those situations.”

I’ll be honest with you. I never saw 40-0 coming. I doubt Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll did either. As scary it is to think that Dallas may simply be that good, it’s even scarier to think that the Giants may be that bad. I don’t think they are, but if the offensive line does not dramatically improve, the rest of the offense and defense won’t matter. And special teams now is 0-1 with a significant role in the first loss. The Giants absolutely must end this weekend at 1-1 heading into Thursday night’s game against heavily-favored and likely-to-win San Fransisco.

The season could very much be on the line. In week two. Sad, but it is what it is.

Sep 122023
New York Giants (September 10, 2023)

© USA TODAY Sports


Daniel Jones: 15/28 – 104 yards / 0 TD – 2 INT / 32.4 RAT

Jones also ran the ball 13 times and gained 43 yards on the ground. He fumbled twice, neither of which were recovered by DAL. It was a night to forget for too many reasons to count. Part of the expectation after signing the 4 year / $160 Million contract this offseason includes him playing better and creating more with what he is given. Jones was under pressure the entire night, he dealt with poor snaps in the shotgun that threw off timing and ball security, and it was wet. Add that to the fact he played against one of the top defenses in football and it all adds up to facing a wall. How did Jones respond to that wall? Did he scale it? Did he at least put a dent in it? No, he did not. The first interception was not on him, as Saquon Barkley should have held on to that ball. The second interception? The near-third? All on Jones and the play where he was running out of bounds and threw it back into traffic where more DAL defenders than NYG targets were, on first down, was about as bad as it gets. We saw Bryce Young and CJ Stroud and Anthony Richardson make those mistakes in their rookie debuts. Jones, a fifth year-veteran and $40 million quarterback absolutely cannot make that mistake.

A shutout cannot be solely placed on Jones’ shoulders. There are multiple components that led to one of the worst Week 1 losses the NFL has ever seen. But 0 points? Missed throws? Bad decisions? The same bad decisions he needs to be past by now? There are lot of people in this organization that need to look themselves in the mirror. Jones is, without question, one of them. Poor performance and not halfway up to par for a $40 million QB.


Saquon Barkley: 12 att – 51 yards / 3 rec – 12 yards

Barkley was charged with a drop (that turned into a Jones interception / pick six for the defense). It could have been charged a fumble. Either way, a major blow to the offense and team overall as it put seven points on the board for Dallas. Beyond that, Barkley looked solid early on pushing piles and putting his shoulder down. The issue I have is what he left on the field. I watched the game from the end zone and he had three different runs where the cutback lane was there, and he did not take it. The best-vision backs can anticipate those lanes, the good-vision backs can react to those lanes. The poor-vision backs never see it. Barkley went 0-for-3 there.

-Matt Breida added 9 yards on 2 carries and Gary Brightwell saw time late when things were out of hand, gaining 5 yards on his lone carry.


-It was a tough game to evaluate the wide receiver play between the weather and the time available in the passing game. Most of the Jones drop backs did not even allow the receivers to get into their routes. Darius Slayton had 3 rec / 15 yards, Paris Campbell had one catch for 2 yards and a drop, and Isaiah Hodgins had 1 catch for 24 yards that resulted in a lost fumble. Those were the receivers who played the most. As much as we discuss better targets in the arsenal for Jones and the offense, it still looks like an underwhelming group, does it not?

-Jalin Hyatt had one target in his debut, a poor throw by Jones but it should have been brought in by the rookie. He dropped a ball that hit both his hands and that was the last we saw of him. The league is already fearful of the speed. DAL corner Trevon Diggs was providing a lot of space underneath on routes when he was on Hyatt to protect from getting beat over the top. Unfortunately, Hyatt’s true impact will only be felt when the line does its job.


-Darren Waller: 3 rec – 36 yards

-Waller led the team in yards and targets, playing just over half the snaps. He was on a pitch count because of an aggravated hamstring, something to monitor. This is not the first time. He made two nice hand-grabs on balls away from his body. On the opening drive, Waller was going to be targeted on the 3rd-and-2 false start by Andrew Thomas. It was set up well for an easy touchdown. They are doing a lot to get him open underneath and over the middle. The few times he lined up with his hand in the dirt and was asked to block did not go well. He was the reason NYG failed a 3rd-and-2 conversion attempt on a Jones outside run. That isn’t why he is here, but for this offense to remain efficient with two tight ends on the field in the running game, he needs to show more there.

-Daniel Bellinger played almost two-thirds of the team’s offensive snaps, most on the team for the position. He did not receive a single target and graded poorly as a blocker. He allowed a sack to Demarcus Lawrence on a play where he was tossed to the ground as if he were a 180-pound receiver, a complete non-factor. There was talk about his strength gains among many in the media because they saw a picture with his shirt sleeve rolled up and his bicep looked big. It does not work that way. Bellinger’s power in the trenches was a problem. He did not look effective in that role at all.

-Lawrence Cager got a few snaps toward the end of the game and brought in 2 catches for 17 yards.


-Tough to figure out where to start. The newly signed Andrew Thomas pulled his hamstring early (on the blocked field goal) and gutted out 53 snaps the rest of the game. He was clearly playing through a lot of pain and at the time of this writing, we are waiting on MRI results. Regarding the game itself, Thomas was not the reliable force that he was in 2022. The 3rd-and-2 false start was one of the biggest plays of the night. He was also flagged for hold that got declined and he allowed 3 pressures, one of which caused a sack, and a half-TFL. I applaud and respect the effort, but the performance itself was not up to par. Unfortunately, 65% of Thomas is better than 100% of anyone else they can put in at left tackle.

-Ben Bredeson and rookie John Michael Schmitz both played all 70 snaps, and both graded out well below average. Bredeson allowed a pressure and a TFL. He was also flagged for a holding penalty. While he is the top left guard on this team, he has too many snaps where he looks like he is better suited for the interior backup role. The lack of bend and adjustment speed are issues against a fast defense like this. He looks the part in the running game, and he gets movement off the ball, but I am concerned about any potential progress he can make as a pass blocker. Schmitz is a step behind the power component to pro tackles. He wound up getting pushed back 3-4 yards on plays he needed to get lateral. It completely threw off the vital timing variables to the outside zone NYG likes to use. He, too, was better in the power game going downhill.

-Now, we move on the right side. The combination of Mark Glowinski and Evan Neal in this game was the worst one-side performances I have seen, possibly ever, in my personal history of watching the Giants. Glowinski allowed 3 sacks (and had another called off by a penalty) and 4 pressures. The 31-year old was signed last year to give the team a solid, yet unspectacular, veteran presence who at least had a high floor. There is a hole in the floor. His knee bend was not there, and he is not a very big, powerful guy. He can’t afford to play with poor bend. Another game like that and he should be put on the bench. Absolutely atrocious game and clearly unacceptable.

-As for Evan Neal. I’ve been vocal about him being the most important player on offense not named Daniel Jones. NYG was dead last in the league in explosive passing plays in 2022. Chicago was better. Houston was better. Improved pieces are in place but if Evan Neal cannot be trusted to maintain pass protection for 3 seconds, maybe even 4, they will be near or at the bottom again. Week 1 was a nightmare result of the biggest variable in this discussion. 5 pressures, 2 sacks, and 1 TFL for the 7th overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. No injuries to lean on for an excuse. No new positions. No new schemes. No new coaching. Just bad football by a player who will run out of excuses by November if he keeps this up. Don’t ask about a move to guard right now. The question is how long he can hold on to a starting role if he does not improve. Year 2, you’re on notice.

-We saw backups Matt Peart and Joshua Ezeudu get on the field late. Peart played 4 snaps before getting injured and Ezeudu saw 14 snaps at left tackle, a position he played in college. Ezeudu’s biggest gaffe was the missed block that led to the blocked field goal. The ONE thing you cannot do as the outside blocker is allow an untouched defender go through inside. That’s exactly what he did, and the result was, well you know.


-Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari combined for 74 snaps, 36 of which were rushing the passer. There was not one pressure accrued from them. Thibodeaux added 4 tackles and played some solid run defense, but Ojulari did not factor there. The concern I have with the 5th overall pick from the 2022 NFL Draft, Thibodeaux, is the lack of power in his game. I discussed this during training camp last summer, I brought it up again during the season, and it is still worry number one. His anchor and sheer strength are a notch below average. You have almost no chance at being a big-time pass rusher without a power element to your game. Look around the league and you will see what I mean.

-Newly acquired Boogie Basham saw most of his snaps late in the game. He, too, did not apply any pressure and added just one tackle. He and Jihad Ward, the one edge defender who did get a pressure (literally one), are the same player. Stout and strong, but slow and limited.


-Dexter Lawrence began his year where he left off in January. The best player on this defense was a bright spot, finishing with 4 tackles and 4 pressures, 2 of which were QB hits. Leonard Williams added a pressure and 2 tackles. Something to keep an eye on is the snap share. Lawrence played 64% of the snaps, Williams 55%. While this game is not the best gauge for what to expect, I do foresee this being closer to the norm than what we saw in 2022 where they were playing 80-90% of the snaps week in, week out.

-The rotational pieces all showed what they can do, albeit lacking some consistency against the run. Jordon Riley had a TFL on an impressive play usually reserved for Lawrence. I continue to be impressed with his play at his size. Veterans Rakeem Nunez-Roches and A’Shawn Robinson both gathered 3 tackles. Robinson looked rustier than anything after not playing a single snap in preseason. Although it is hard to be optimistic about anything right now, the Giants defensive front can still be viewed as a strong unit, and they showed enough against DAL.


-During preseason, I discussed how big of a difference I felt Bobby Okereke can make for the Martindale scheme. While he was not close to the biggest issue in this loss, like what I said about expectations that are now on Daniel Jones because of the contract, a similar argument can be made about Okereke. He found himself on the wrong side of the blocks way too often. He had 5 tackles, and he did force a fumble on a downfield play (recovered by DAL), but re-watching the tape showed late movement and awareness. We can chalk it up to a new scheme and new surroundings, but he cannot have many more performances like that.

-Micah McFadden, on the other hand, came to play. He had 10 tackles, the team lead, one of which went for a loss and one coming on special teams. The inside linebacker spot next to Okereke has been a topic of discussion and McFadden tightened his choke hold on it.

-Potential difference maker Isaiah Simmons played exactly the amount I have projected he would. I said 15-20 snaps per game, he played 15 snaps. He rushed the passer on 6, he dropped into coverage on 5, and defended the run on 4. He finished with 1 tackle and looked good in coverage. He covers a ton of ground in a hurry.


-For the first time since 2008, a team opened week one with two rookies starting at outside corner. How did Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins fare in their debuts? They were the two players on the defense that were flagged. Hawkins twice, one of which was a pass interference on a 3rd-and-12 stop that resulted in a 37-yard gain for the Dallas offense. He did finish with 7 tackles and showed a physical brand, which will be a difference maker, but his coverage looked grabby and unsure. Banks looked crisper and more confident with his technique and ability to read routes, but left the game early with cramps.

-Adoree’ Jackson’s debut as a starting nickel had mixed results. He was the biggest culprit on the longest play of the game, a 49-yard gain on a play where Jackson did not feel the unofficial pick coming and ended on the ground in man coverage against the Cowboys best receiver, a place you never want to be. Jackson’s ability is a solid, not great, fit for nickel. However, there are elements you have to deal with, such as traffic like he saw on that play, that he does not have a ton of experience with.

-Nick McCloud saw some action after Banks went down and Darnay Holmes played just 4 snaps. Neither made anything notable happen.


-Another bright spot can be the play of Xavier McKinney. He was on the field for all 58 snaps with 4 tackles and 2 pass breakups. He also showed some very smart play with chips on receivers that were crossing his face while he was moving downhill. I don’t see that often when watching safeties. It stems from incredible on-field IQ and fast reaction times. Jason Pinnock also played all 58 snaps, finishing with 5 tackles and a missed tackle.

-Dane Belton was the only other safety to play, and he was on the field for just 6 plays. He lost the edge on Tony Pollard’s second touchdown creating a walk-in.


-K Graham Gano: 0/1 (Missed 36)
-P Jamie Gillan: 3 Punts / 53.3 avg – 47.7 net


-S Xavier McKinney, LB Micah McFadden, DT Dexter Lawrence


-OG Mark Glowinski, OT Evan Neal, OLB Azeez Ojulari


1. What made this Dallas defense so dominant? It is never one answer, it is never one player. But if you want the start of something that is too long-winded to write here, here you go. The speed and power of their front seven with Micah Parsons looking like he is on a different level than a year ago (which is potentially very bad news) is where I start. They did not do anything overly complex up front. Some stunts and twists, some blitzing, some alignment changes for #11. But it was not anything extreme, it was something we see often across multiple defenses. They simply beat NYG blockers to spots over and over. And the few times those blockers engaged resulted in physical beat downs. Tough to compete with a defense that is both faster and stronger than you, plain and simple.

2. Part of my reason for my Dallas skepticism has centered around how reliant their defense and team overall has been on the turnover margin. They are +25 over the past two seasons. The second highest league wide? +15. Fifth highest? +9. A three-year run at this pace of 10+ per year would be historic. One game in, they’re +4. If they are indeed this level of elite, my 8-9 projection will likely be one of my biggest misses. And I hate to say it, but their speed and the fact they have the game’s top defensive player opens the door to that turnover number.

3. Where is the Achilles’ heel on this offense? We know the defense will be very good. In the NFC, the door is open to the point if you are dominant in one element, you can be merely average in the other and you’re in the postseason. Dak Prescott is what he is (and that is good enough). CeeDee Lamb now has a credible number two in Brandin Cooks. Tony Pollard is a potential star. I see the offensive line and Mike McCarthy holding the keys. Tyron Smith is still good, but he missed 15 games in 2020, 6 in 2021, and 16 in 2022. Their depth is an unknown. With Kellen Moore in Los Angeles now, McCarthy needs to prove he can avoid silly game management mistakes and not run Pollard into the ground, a guy who has never been an every down player.


1. My yearly reminder: Week 1 does not matter as much as you think it does. I would say the same thing if the Giants were on the opposite side of this debacle. The objective value of a week one loss is the same as a week 18 loss that prevents a team from making the playoffs, yes. But to change the perceived trajectory of a team based on one game, especially so early in the year, is foolish. Cincinnati isn’t doing it. Kansas City isn’t doing it. Different tiers of teams, I know. But the point remains that this 40-point loss counts the same as an overtime loss. I would rather see this week one than in week eight. Plus, I think this opens the door to learning what this entire roster and coaching staff have under the hood deep inside when they take the field in Arizona next week.

2. We can sit here and talk badly about the players, deservedly so. They got trounced all three phases from start to finish in embarrassing fashion. They will need to acknowledge and own it until they are on the field against the Cardinals. But what about the coaching staff? I am always hesitant to point the finger at coaching unless I know the facts of what is going on inside the building. Even with that, it is hard to walk away from this without putting at least some of the blame on the coaches. Daboll, Kafka, Martindale, McGaughey were disassembled on national TV. They were THE difference last year. But this is the NFL and innovation only lasts so long. Dallas had the response and speed ready for the bootlegs. They knew how to keep Prescott clean blitz or no blitz, and they simply had their players ready. Coaches, step it up. Success last year means absolutely nothing. Your last two games were against division rivals Philadelphia and Dallas. The combined score was 78-7.

3. The biggest issue, once again, is the offensive line. Captain Obvious. Do you make a move right away? What is the move? The answer partially resides in the Andrew Thomas MRI report. If he is out, are they relying on Matt Peart? Is he even healthy? What is plan C? Joshua Ezeudu? What if he needs to step in at right guard for Glowinski? The constants appear to be Neal at RT (you are not moving him this year), Schmitz at OC, and Bredeson at LG. If a move is coming, it will be Bredeson to RG and Ezeudu inserted into left guard after an underwhelming preseason. But as I said above, we will find an objective answer what is inside these players and I want Glowinski to be a part of that. No knee jerk reactions from me. I want the same five out there (pending the Thomas injury) to see what these guys are all about. They play the San Francisco front in 10 days, too.

Sep 112023
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (September 10, 2023)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants were completely and utterly embarrassed by the Dallas Cowboys 40-0 on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium. The Giants begin the season 0-1 and in last place in the NFC East.

The scoreboard was telling, but so were the overall game stats. Despite running 66 offensive plays, the Giants were held to 14 first downs and 171 total net yards, including only 63 net yards passing.

The Giants received the football to start the game and had their best offensive possession of the night, moving from their own 25-yard line to the Dallas 8-yard. However, on 3rd-and-2, a false start on left tackle Andrew Thomas and a bad snap by center John Michael Schmitz pushed New York back to the 21-yard line. Place kicker Graham Gano’s 45-yard field goal attempt was blocked and returned for a touchdown. The Cowboys missed the extra point. It was all downhill for the Giants after that.

After the Giants went three-and-out on their second possession, the Cowboys responded with a 9-play, 72-yard drive that resulted in a 21-yard field goal to make the score 9-0. On the third play of New York’s third possession, a pass from quarterback Daniel Jones went off of the hands of running back Saquon Barkley after contact from a defender. It was intercepted and returned 22 yards for a defensive score. The Cowboys were now up 16-0.

The Giants went three-and-out again near the end of the first quarter. Dallas responded with another field goal drive, this time moving 60 yards in 11 plays to make it 19-0.  On the very next offensive snap by the Giants, Jones was intercepted at the New York 38-yard line. Five plays later, the Cowboys pretty much ended the game with a 2-yard rushing touchdown that made the score 26-0.

The Giants gained 57 yards on their sixth possession of the half, but the drive ended with a missed 36-yard field goal. After a three-and-out by the Cowboys, the half ended appropriately with Daniel Jones being sacked.

If the 26-0 halftime deficit wasn’t dreary enough, Dallas made it worse by marching down the field (10 plays, 75 yards) for a touchdown on their opening drive of the third quarter. 33-0. The Giants gained one first down before Jones was sacked twice more and the team was forced to punt. After a Dallas punt, the Giants gained 30 yards and then turned the football over on downs at midfield as the third quarter ended.

The Cowboys opened the fourth quarter with their final touchdown drive of the night, an 8-play, 50-yard affair that resulted with another rushing score. On New York’s very next offensive snap, wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins fumbled the ball away after a 24-yard catch. Dallas mercifully went three-and-out. Then came a ridiculous 10-play drive by the Giants that picked up three first downs but only netted 19 yards due to penalties and sacks. The Giants turned turned over the ball on downs again. The game ended with a whimper three minutes later.

The Giants’ 12 offensive possessions resulted in:

  • a blocked field goal for a touchdown
  • two interceptions, one resulting in a touchdown
  • a fumble
  • two turnovers on downs
  • a missed field goal
  • three punts
  • the end of the half and the end of the game

Jones, who was harassed much of the night, finished the game 15-of-28 for 104 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions. He was sacked seven times, losing 47 yards, and hit 12 times. No Giant had more than three catches or 36 receiving yards. Barkley rushed 12 times for 51 yards and Jones rushed 13 times for 43 yards.

The defense allowed five scoring drives, including three rushing touchdowns. Dallas was 6-of-13 (46 percent) on third down and 1-of-2 on fourth down. The Giants had no sacks only hit the quarterback three times. They did not create a turnover.

GAME VIDEO LOWLIGHTS are available on YouTube.

On Saturday, the Giants activated (standard elevation) RB Taiwan Jones from the Practice Squad to the 53-man roster.

Inactive for the game were WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee), DL D.J. Davidson (knee), LB Cam Brown (ankle), CB Cor’Dale Flott (hamstring), S Gervarrius Owens (hamstring), and OL Shane Lemieux.

CB Deonte Banks left the game with cramps. LT Andrew Thomas injured his hamstring on the blocked field goal and eventually departed the contest. He will have an MRI to determine the severity of the injury. PK Graham Gano took a cleat to his calf and underwent x-rays after the game.

Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Brian Daboll and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at

ESPN is reported on Saturday that the Giants have re-structured the contracts of defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence and inside linebacker Bobby Okereke. Both moves converted 2023 base salary into signing bonuses, creating a total of $1.55 million in additional cap space.

Head Coach Brian Daboll will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Sep 082023
Kayvon Thibodeaux, New York Giants (September 26, 2022)

Kayvon Thibodeaux – © USA TODAY Sports

There are a number of different and somewhat competing storylines to this game, and to be honest, to this season. Last season, the New York Giants shocked everyone by finishing the regular-season 9-7-1. At the same time, they somewhat predictably finished 1-4-1 in the NFC East. Even the Washington Commanders did something the Giants could not do, that is, beat the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys.

Everyone knows the deal. The Eagles and Cowboys have absolutely owned the Giants for the past decade. It’s beyond embarrassing at this point. And it’s the primary reason that most pundits don’t expect the Giants to be serious contenders in 2023. Teams that don’t have a winning record in their own division have a hard time competing for a playoff spot. If you go back through my game previews for the past 10 years, they probably pretty much say the same thing. To be honest, I’m bored and tired of writing about it.


On paper, the 2023 New York Giants are a vastly different team than the superbly-coached, talent-starved, injury-riddled, over-achieving squad of 2022. And not many pundits seem to be grasping that reality. Yes, every team experiences change each and every season in today’s NFL. But the year-over-year changes are startling for a team that won a playoff game in January. In Week 3, the Cooper Rush led Cowboys embarrassingly defeated the Giants at MetLife 23-16. On offense that day, aside from Sterling Shepard (who tore his ACL in the game), the other starting receivers were David Sills and Richie James. Rookie Daniel Bellinger was the starting tight end. Two months later on Thanksgiving, in the second game that Dallas also won (28-20), Lawrence Cager was starting at tight end with Bellinger out with an eye injury. The offensive line was also a mess with Tyre Phillips starting at right tackle, 4th-string Jack Anderson starting at left guard, starting center Jon Feliciano out, and Andrew Thomas playing sick and with a bad foot.

Fast forward to Week 1 of this season, on opening night, Daniel Jones will now be surrounded by Saquon Barkley, Darren Waller, Daniel Bellinger, Parris Campbell, Isaiah Hodgins, Darius Slayton, Jalin Hyatt, and Sterling Shepard at the skill positions. Aside from the obvious qualitative and quantitative upgrade in overall talent, the one noticeable factor is the offensive team is much faster.

The changes on defense are even more obvious. Injuries ravaged all three levels of a defensive team that already had talent issues. In Week 3, Leonard Williams was out. Both Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee) and Azeez Ojulari (calf) were playing hurt. Justin Ellis and Nick Williams started on the defensive line. Austin Calitro and Tae Crowder were the inside linebackers. Starting corner Aaron Robinson was out with an appendicitis and Cor’Dale Flott started outside. On Thanksgiving, both starting cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson and Fabian Moreau were out, as was safety Xavier McKinney. Jaylon Smith started at inside linebacker, with Oshane Ximines playing outside. Flott started again outside along with Nick McCloud.

Fast forward to Sunday night. Finally, Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, Adoree’ Jackson, and Xavier McKinney will all be on the field together healthy. More than that, they will now be joined by A’Shawn Robinson, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Bobby Okereke, Isaiah Simmons, Deonte Banks, Tre Hawkins, and emerging Jason Pinnock and Daniel Belton. Quality, quantity, and speed.

But here’s the crux…

While there is a core of returning building blocks, this team has vastly changed. And on paper, it has done so for the better. But there are so many new and important component parts that we don’t know they will react TOGETHER under the crucible of NFC East warfare. The Cowboys know who they are. The Giants don’t. And since the starters rarely played in the preseason, we simply don’t know what the final product will look like. And how it looks in September will likely be much different than what it looks like in November and December as the new component parts cohesively come together. This is a very young football team (second youngest in the NFL according to Joe Schoen). And we must remember they are still trying to catch up with the Cowboys and Eagles.

If you’ve noticed, Joe Schoen, Brian Daboll, and the coordinators have talked about how this is a new season and the past doesn’t matter. I think this is more than coach speak. There is quiet confidence about the 2023 New York Giants. But there is also the fear of the great unknown. We’re all about to discover what this team is made of.


  • RB Gary Brightwell (knee – probable)
  • TE Darren Waller (hamstring – questionable)
  • WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee – doubtful)
  • TE Lawrence Cager (ankle – probable)
  • DL D.J. Davidson (knee – questionable)
  • LB Cam Brown (ankle – questionable)
  • CB Cor’Dale Flott (hamstring – doubtful)
  • S Gervarrius Owens (hamstring – doubtful)

There are so many storylines here… too many to adequately elaborate on without frightening the reader away due to article length. But here are some of my more pressing thoughts:

  • Daniel Jones seems like a different guy this offseason. Confident and sure of himself. He’s in the second year of this offense, a rarity for him. He has the faith of a franchise that gave him $160 million in the offseason. He is surrounded with the most talented team he has had in his life, most notably the ultimate security blanket in Darren Waller. While he dramatically cut down on turnovers in 2022 and became a serious threat as a rusher, Jones must start making more plays down the field and throwing more touchdown passes.
  • It is undeniable that the quality and quantity of receiving weapons has dramatically improved since last season. Darren Waller is one of the top tight ends in football. Daniel Bellinger will be even better than his surprising rookie season. Along with Waller, Parris Campbell and Jalin Hyatt significantly make this a faster team. They can go the distance anytime they touch the football. So can Saquon Barkley and Darius Slayton. This is a big deal for a team that was dead last in passing plays 20 yards or over with just 28. However, we as fans don’t know how this will all flesh out. “I’d say each week’s going to get a little bit different,” said Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka. “This week’s kind of in that same boat, kind of mix in our guys and make sure we’re giving them the stuff that they’re good at and then we’ll try to maximize on their strengths as much as we possibly can.”
  • While the obvious choice for the biggest beneficiary of this talent upgrade is Daniel Jones, a close second has to be Saquon Barkley, who has been somewhat of the forgotten man this summer. Indeed, much respect for Saquon for being the team player and not raising a big stink this summer by avoiding the holdout and keeping his head down and just doing his job. That’s what you want in a player and teammate. That all said, Saquon must have a burning passion inside of him right now. He feels disrespected. Combine that desire with the inability of teams now to focus completely on stopping Barkley as a runner and receiver. They now have to contend with Waller, Campbell, Hyatt, etc. Barkley in space is a dangerous thing. And the spaces should be there in 2023.
  • Finally, the elephant in the room is the state of the offensive line. For 10 years, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Washington has been better up front. Andrew Thomas is a stud. There will be growing pains with John Michael Schmitz, but he looks to have the goods. The other three spots are still question marks. And this division is loaded with some of the best defensive fronts in the game.

Enter a very talented and well-coached Dallas Cowboys defensive team. I believe I saw it stated that no team in the NFL faces a tougher schedule in terms of the defenses it faces than the Giants. Last season, the Cowboys were 12th in yards allowed and 5th in points allowed. They were 8th against the pass and 22nd against the run. Dallas’ pass defense got even stingier with the offseason acquisition of cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Their defensive coordinator has been in high demand as a head-coaching prospect the past couple of seasons, including interest from the Giants.

If you look back at the two games against Dallas last season, the one stat that sticks out is this: the Cowboys sacked Daniel Jones eight times. Equally damning is they officially hit Jones 19 times. The Giants were far more successful running the football in the earlier game, gaining 167 yards with both Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones doing the bulk of the damage. However, on Thanksgiving, Barkley and Jones were held to a paltry 53 yards on the ground. Tellingly, in both games, the Giants were only 3-of-11 on 3rd down. Turnovers were not an issue as the only one came at the very end of the second game. In the passing game, in Week 3, starting wideouts David Sills and Richie James combined for six catches for 56 yards. Shepard had 49 yards on five catches before he collapsed with an ACL injury. Jones didn’t throw a touchdown pass in the game. In Week 12, Darius Slayton demonstrated his frustrating inconsistency. He came down with a superb 44-yard catch but only caught two more passes on five other targets. James was the “leading” receiver with five catches for 41 yards.

I review all of that to identify the difficulties as well as present the new opportunities. Yes, the Cowboys are loaded with defensive talent at all three levels. They controlled the line of scrimmage against the Giants and never felt threatened by the New York’s passing game. However, the Giants protected the football and stayed in both games. Now Dallas has to contend with both Darren Waller and Daniel Bellinger at tight end; Saquon Barkley at running back; and Parris Campbell, Isaiah Hodgins, Darius Slayton, Jalin Hyatt, and Sterling Shepard at wide receiver.

It’s time to take the training wheels off of Daniel Jones. Recent history suggests the Giants should run more than they should pass against this Dallas defense, especially given their fierce pass rush and excellent defensive backfield. However, I think this Giants team has been built to take what the opposing defense gives them. If Dallas loads up against Barkley, throw the football. If they back off, run the football. Daboll and Kafka will keep Dallas guessing with play-action, misdirection, RPOs, gadget plays, etc. I would not call for many deep drops, not with their rush against our offensive line. Move Jones around. Quick passes to the tight ends, Barkley, and the wideouts. Bing, bing, bing. Similar to how we saw the Giants’ first team offense play on their one drive in the preseason. Don’t let them breathe. Stay out of 3rd-and-long. There are different ways to create space and big plays without throwing bombs. My spidey sense says the deep shots to Hyatt against the Jets was a feint, but hey, if they want to play with fire and crowd the line against him, good luck.

Up front, this issue is not just physical, but mental. The Cowboys love to run stunts and games to confuse offensive lines. This has been the Achilles’ heel for the New York offensive line. Evan Neal’s lone bad snap in the preseason came on a stunt. And inside, the constant experimentation at both guard spots obviously came at the expense of developing OL cohesion and chemistry. Dallas knows this.

I do hope Andrew Thomas remembers Micah Parsons taunting him on Twitter after the game last season. I do hope Neal remembers how DeMarcus Lawrence humiliated him for three sacks. I hope the guys up front have pride and are looking for some payback.

I still suspect the majority of the Giants’ fanbase doesn’t recognize the many issues Wink Martindale had to deal with last year. Injuries on the defensive line, at edge, at inside linebacker, at corner, and at safety ravaged his defense. He only had one corner who he could fully trust, Adoree’ Jackson, and he was lost for much of the second half of the season. Same with his best safety, Xavier McKinney. His best outside pass rusher, Azeez Ojulari, hardly played at all. Kayvon Thibodeaux was slowed by a preseason knee injury. Leonard Williams was hurt much of the year and it showed. There were revolving doors at corner and inside linebacker all season. The point here is the defense was never a fully intact unit and Martindale had the feel of a guy trying to plug multiple leaks in a decaying dam.

That all said, the pressure is on Martindale to elevate New York’s 25th ranked defense that was also 27th against the run. To be blunt, the Giants had the worst defense in the NFC East. He knows how to do it. His defenses in Baltimore were always top notch in run defense. And Joe Schoen gave him a lot of new toys to play with, including Bobby Okereke, Isaiah Simmons, Boogie Basham, A’Shawn Robinson, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Jordon Riley, Deonte Banks, Tre Hawkins, Bobby McCain, and Gervarrius Owens. Combine these newcomers with now healthy Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, Adoree’ Jackson, Xavier McKinney, and Jason Pinnock.

“I like where we are at defensively and I am excited where we are going,” said Martindale this week. “It’s going to be fun to watch… I think that the biggest thing you will see is the difference in our speed and as soon as we can catch the execution up with the speed, like I said, it’s going to be fun for you guys to watch and for our city to watch.”

Their opponent has a lot of familiar faces, but the style may be changing in a noticeable fashion. Gone is offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, who was made a scapegoat despite Dallas’ #1 ranked offense two years ago (and 11th last in 2022). Head Coach Mike McCarthy now takes over play-calling duties. If history is any guide, the Cowboys are about to become more pass happy with a West Coast offensive feel. That could be good news for a Giants’ defense that gave up roughly 170 yards on the ground in both games (345 total) to Dallas last season.

In the offensive review above, I highlighted how the Giants allowed eight sacks and 19 quarterback hits on Daniel Jones. On the flips side, the Giants did not sack either Cooper Rush or Dak Prescott once. Rush was only hit twice while Prescott was hit nine times. The main target for both quarterbacks was CeeDee Lamb, who caught a total of 14 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown. In the first game, Adoree’ Jackson had issues covering him, and it’s likely that the Jackson-Lamb match-up will continue with both playing in the slot much of the game (Lamb also plays outside). Tony Pollard rushed for 8.1 yards per carry in the first game with Ezekiel Elliott (who is now with the Patriots) leading the way in the second game, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Those are simply embarrassing numbers.

Weird stat… Giants only had six interceptions as a team in 2022. However, they got two of them in one game on Thanksgiving against Prescott. Cowboys’ tight ends continued to haunt the Giants as Dalton Schultz had two touchdowns on Thanksgiving. He’s now with the Houston Texans.

Why have the Cowboys owned the Giants for a decade? Same reason the Eagles have. Both teams have owned the trenches. To turn that around, Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, A’Shawn Robinson, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, Bobby Okereke, and Micah McFadden/Isaiah Simmons have to live up to expectations. Getting no sacks and allowing 170 rushing yards per game won’t get it done. Possibly helping New York is that left guard Tyler Smith (hamstring) and left tackle Tyron Smith (ankle) are both dealing with injuries.

With McCarthy calling the plays now, don’t automatically assume Dallas will begin the game running the football. Any head coach will want to test a rookie cornerback. And the Giants have two starting. Look for both to be tested early and often. Wink loves both Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins but even he admits, “You know there is going to be hiccups, we all know. That’s being a rookie.” So look for Dak to take some shots with Lamb, Michael Gallup, and Brandin Cooks (offseason addition) early. How well the rookies weather the storm could determine the fate of the game.

To help them out, the Giants’ pass rush has to be better than it was against the Cowboys last season. Thibodeaux did have a big game on Thanksgiving, abusing Tyler Smith with nine pressures and forcing him to hold. Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams need to translate their strong summer into the the real games. The two new inside linebackers – Bobby Okereke and Isaiah Simmons – need to be factors against the run and the pass. Both should do better in coverage against those pesky Dallas tight ends.

Wink feels like he has his guys now. He freely admits that they will better down the road with more experience playing together. They have to survive the early hiccups, but Wink is still going to bring it. “Pressure breaks pipes.” Hopefully guys like Xavier McKinney and Jason Pinnock can be the beneficiaries of that pressure. Six interceptions in one season is pathetic. It’s time to rectify that.

The fanbase doesn’t have a lot of faith in New York’s special teams. Part of the reason has been the absolute refusal of a number of coaching staffs to acquire a dedicated punt and kickoff returner. “Coach of the Year” Brian Daboll’s lone blemish was his curious decision to have his best corner return punts last year, and it cost the team. Now a rookie who only returned nine punts in college, Eric Gray, has unofficially been designated as the primary punt and kickoff returner. Will this end up hurting the franchise once again?

Joe Schoen on the 2023 season: “We haven’t played a game yet. So, we’ll see. Again, we’re going to continue to prepare for Dallas and get ready for the season. I think I said it last year at the same press conference: it takes a few weeks into the regular season to figure out who the team is, how we’re going to react when adversity strikes, and how we’re going to handle if there’s success, or if you’re down at halftime.

“I think that showed last year against Tennessee in the second half. I didn’t know how the team was going to react coming out of halftime or if you’re playing Green Bay in London and you’re down in the second quarter, 17-3. We still have a lot to learn about this team. We’ll see when it comes to Sunday against the Cowboys, how they’re going to come together as a team and gel and how they’re going to react in those situations.”

Mike Kafka’s media sessions are usually pretty boring. But he did drop one nugget this week that I think was spot on. “There’s things that you look at on tape that they did last year and not really 100% sure of what they’re going to this year so you put in your base rules, and you put in your schemes you think you’re going to attack, then at the end of the day, it’s how fast can we adjust when they present it.” (Emphasis mine).

I’ve harped on this for years. There are only so many drives per game. Often times, there are games where teams will only have four possessions per half. Mike McCarthy and Dan Quinn are going to present things to surprise the Giants. Brian Daboll, Mike Kafka, and Wink Martindale are going do the same. How well and how quickly each coaching staff adjusts will be decisive. I have a ton of respect for Dan Quinn. Not so much for McCarthy. I like our coaches in this situation. I’m also not sure if Dallas truly recognizes how much faster the Giants got on offense and defense this offseason. The Giants are a far different animal.