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

Lorenzo Carter – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYG Loses 21-6

QUARTERBACK

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

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

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

RUNNING BACK

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

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

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

WIDE RECEIVER

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

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

TIGHT END

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

OFFENSIVE LINE

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

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

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

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

DEFENSIVE LINE

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

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

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

LINEBACKER

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

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

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

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

CORNERBACK

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

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

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

SAFETY

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

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

SPECIAL TEAMS

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

3 STUDS

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

3 DUDS

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

3 THOUGHTS ON DAL

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

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

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

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

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

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

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

Dec 192021
 
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DALLAS COWBOYS 21 – NEW YORK GIANTS 6…
The Dallas Cowboys did not bring their “A” game and the contest was not as one-sided as expected by many, but the New York Giants were soundly defeated 21-6 on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants fell to 4-10 on the season and have lost nine of their last 10 games against the Cowboys. The Giants have guaranteed themselves their fifth double-digit loss season in a row, and their seventh in eight years.

Adding injury to insult, the Giants also lost wide receiver Sterling Shepard at the end of the game with a torn Achilles’ tendon.

The overall team statistics were surprisingly close in a few areas. Dallas only held slight advantages in total offensive plays (70 to 61), total net yards (328 to 302), net yards rushing (125 to 124), and net yards passing (203 to 178). However, the Cowboys dominated the all-important turnover battle (4 to 1). The passing yards were also more than a bit misleading in that a net 79 of them came in garbage time with quarterback Jake Fromm playing.

In a nutshell, an undermanned New York defense kept the Giants in the game, but the team’s offense was simply dreadful.

The Giants had 10 total offensive possessions. They resulted in four turnovers, two turnovers on downs, two punts, and two field goals. Nine of Dallas’ 15 first-half points came off of New York turnovers, with the Cowboys beginning a touchdown “drive” at the Giants’ 13-yard line after an interception thrown by quarterback Mike Glennon. Running back Ezekiel Elliot scored from 13 yards out (the extra point failed). The Cowboys also began their last field goal drive of the first half after running back Saquon Barkley fumbled the ball away at the New York 46-yard line with 41 seconds left before halftime.

New York’s other two first half drives were an 11-play, 58-yard affair that ended with a 35-yard field goal by place kicker Graham Gano and a four-play drive that ended with a punt. Dallas’ first possession ended with a punt after gaining 45 yards on 10 plays. They also had two other long drives that ended with field goals, one gaining 58 yards on 10 plays and the other 68 yards on 16 plays.

Glennon finished the first half 6-of-9 for just 45 yards, with one pass being completed to a wide receiver, and an interception. At the break, the Cowboys led 15-3.

The Giants cut the score to 15-6 on their first possession of the second half by driving 51 yards in eight plays to set up a 42-yard field goal by Gano. Unfortunately, that would be New York’s last points of the day. Glennon’s next four possessions resulted in a turnover on downs (failed 4th-and-1 quarterback sneak that gave Dallas the ball at the New York 29-yard line), a punt, and two interceptions. The turnover on downs led to a Dallas touchdown five plays later, making the score 21-6 (extra point failed again) near the end of the 3rd quarter.

Neither team scored in the 4th quarter. This is when Glennon tossed interceptions #2 and #3 before being benched by Fromm with under four minutes to play. The Cowboys punted twice more and turned the ball over when linebacker Lorenzo Carter sacked quarterback Dak Prescott and forced a fumble that nose tackle Austin Johnson recovered. Carter finished the game with 4 tackles, 3 quarterback hits, 2 sacks, a forced fumble, and a pass defense.

Glennon finished the game an abysmal 13-of-24 for 99 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions. His quarterback rating was 24.8. Running back Devontae Booker carried the ball eight times for 74 yards. Barkley chipped in with 50 yards on 15 carries, but also fumbled the ball away.

Video lowlights are available at Giants.com.

ROSTER MOVES, PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
On Saturday, the Giants activated S Xavier McKinney from the Reserve/COVID-19 List. They also re-signed CB Sam Beal to the Practice Squad. In addition, the team activated WR Alex Bachman, LB Jaylon Smith, and CB Jarren Williams from the Practice Squad as COVID-19 replacements.

Missing the game due to COVID-19 were WR Kadarius Toney, WR John Ross, LB Cam Brown, LB Oshane Ximines, CB Aaron Robinson, CB Adoree’ Jackson, and S J.R. Reed.

Inactive for the game were QB Daniel Jones (neck) and OG Ben Bredeson (ankle).

RB Gary Brightwell suffered a neck injury in the first half and did not return. WR Sterling Shepard left the game late with a torn Achilles’ tendon in his left leg. His season, and possibly his career with the Giants, may be over.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Joe Judge and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will address the media by conference call on Monday.

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

Reap what you sow.

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

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

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

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

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

Oct 112021
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (October 10, 2021)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

After riding high following their emotional Week 4 win against the Saints, the Giants went on the road for the second straight week to take on the NFC East favorite Dallas Cowboys. A division rivalry that has been anything but in recent years would be an opportunity for NYG to make a statement. A statement that they could contend for the division crown. A statement that they were on the way up with Joe Judge at the helm. A statement that their dynamic, come-from-behind win in New Orleans was no fluke, but the new norm. They would have to do so without their left tackle Andrew Thomas, who was active but did not play. They would have to do so without their top wide receiver in Sterling Shepard and defensive general, Blake Martinez. Dallas, winners of 3 straight, was pretty much fully healthy with a quarterback in Dak Prescott who has found himself in the early MVP discussion. If NYG wanted to truly turn this ship around, this would be the game they had to win.

NYG had the initial momentum, forcing an interception on a 4th-down pass from Prescott to running back Ezekiel Elliott by Lorenzo Carter. After a 3rd-down drop by rookie Kadarius Toney, Graham Gano lined up for a 54-yard field goal attempt. It went wide right, leaving the game tied at 0-0 and giving DAL excellent field position. DAL shot themselves in the foot again, this time being a Dalton Schultz drop in the end zone that made them settle on a 31-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein. DAL had the initial lead.

NYG went 3-and-out on the next drive but the biggest negative was a Saquon Barkley sprained ankle on a freak accident where he stepped on DAL cornerback Jourdan Lewis’ foot. For those who have ever sprained their ankle in that fashion, you know it doesn’t take much for it to get ruined. The odds of it happening were slim-to-none, but what is done is done. Barkley’s ankle blew up on the sideline within just a few minutes and we knew in that moment, he was done for the day and likely longer.

DAL drove down the field with ease again. And for the third time in as many drives, their final play was a major mishap that prevented points. Prescott mishandled a shotgun snap and the ball rolled into the hands of NYG linebacker Reggie Ragland. NYG proceeded to go 3- and-out again on the ensuing drive, but the score was still 3-0 as they dug into the second quarter. On 3rd-and-8, DAL put up the first touchdown of the game. A deep pass to CeeDee Lamb over James Bradberry finally put a score on the board that indicated what was really occurring on the field.

Thanks to a 38-yard gain on a 3rd-and-10 pass to Toney, NYG was back in field goal range. The offense stalled and settled on another long field goal attempt; this was from 51 yards. Gano nailed this one through the uprights and put NYG within a touchdown. They had the ball back after a 3-and-out by the DAL offense and found some of their mojo we saw last week in New Orleans. They got inside the DAL 5-yard line and after two straight failed rushing attempts by Devontae Booker, offensive coordinator and former Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett called a designed run for Jones after a faked handoff. Jones came up a few inches short but was badly concussed on a hit by DAL linebacker Jabril Cox. He needed assistance walking off the field and that was as clear a sign as anyone needed, he too was done for the day. NYG ended up scoring a touchdown to tie it up via a Booker run but it was hard to be optimistic knowing Barkley, Jones, Shepard, and Thomas were out.

DAL put up a touchdown to end the half on a Prescott pass to Amari Cooper. It was the 5th time in as many weeks where NYG allowed a touchdown in the final 2 minutes of the first half. NYG was down 17-10.

The Giants came out of the half, being led by Mike Glennon (7-28 career in games he played), without Barkley, Shepard, Jones, Thomas, Nick Gates, and now receiver Kenny Golladay who injured his knee in the first half. They were up against the best team in the division being led by a QB that had beat NYG 8 times in a row. Tall order.

Their initial drive netted 3 points, making it a 4-point margin. DAL then took over. They scored touchdown on the ensuing drive via a pass to Elliott, intercepted a Glennon pass on the first play of NYG’s next drive, then put up another 3 points on a 38-yard field goal by Zuerlein. They were up 27-13 as the game entered the 4th quarter.

The Toney-show was NYG’s last hope at making this a game as the final 15 minutes of game clock dwindled down. He picked up 26 yards to get the ball across midfield. From there, he was the target or ball carrier on 4 of the next 6 plays. They were inside the DAL 10, but the 4th-and-goal pass to him toward the sideline on a play where he lost his footing fell incomplete. DAL began the ensuing drive from their own 2, and needed just 9 plays to travel 98 yards. Elliott scored his second touchdown of the day on a 13-yard run. It was 34-13 with 7:34 left.

Glennon had a solid drive, engineering 11 plays and fighting through further adversity that stemmed from an on-field fight that saw Toney get ejected for throwing a punch. Yet another playmaker not on the field. Glennon found Booker for a 3-yard touchdown to make it 34-20. After a failed onsides kick attempt, DAL put up 3 more points on a 31-yard field goal by Zuerlein. This game was all but over with under 2 minutes left, but the football gods added further insult to injury with a pick-6 by DAL corner Anthony Brown. The score was now more indicative of how big the gap was between these two teams on this day.

NYG loses, 44-20.

QUARTERBACK

-Mike Glennon: 16/25 – 196 yards – 1 TD – 2 INT / 68.1 RAT

Glennon essentially played the second half under a deficit without 3 starting offensive linemen, his starting running back, and 3 of his top 4 receivers. On the road. Knowing that, I think Glennon deserves some credit. He made a few quality throws and commanded the offense well all things considered. Nobody will mistake him for a starting caliber quarterback, but he has been around, has started games, and can do the minimums. That said, I wouldn’t expect anything more from him on a consistent basis if Jones ends up being out.

-Daniel Jones: 5/13 – 98 yards – 0 TD – 0 INT / 65.5 RAT

Jones added 9 yards on the ground. Before his concussion, he was erratic. He overthrew John Ross down the field twice and air mailed one over Barkley’s head on a short pass. It was a poor performance, and it is hard to diagnose why. Was the new offensive line in his head? Was he too amped up? Or is this just the inconsistency from Jones that is going to create debate in the upcoming months in regard to this team’s long-term future with him? Remember, he won’t be earning a rookie salary in just a couple years. Economics is a part of the evaluation.

RUNNING BACK

-Devontae Booker: 16 att – 42 yards – 1 TD / 3 rec – 16 yards – 1 TD

Booker isn’t a feature back and nobody should expect that from him. However, like Glennon, he made the most out of the situation he was in. He dropped a pass and allowed a pressure, but otherwise he was mistake free. I’ve said this before on him and I will say it again. Booker is a difference maker as a blocker and as a pass catcher. He has 128 career receptions with a 75% catch rate. If Barkley is out for extended time, I think he is the automatic 3rd down back and he can be spelled on early downs with Eli Penny and Gary Brightwell.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Kadarius Toney: 10 rec – 189 yards / 1 att – 7 yards

Toney was the star of the game for NYG, and nobody was even close. After his drop on the first drive, he caught 10 of 12 targets and just made so much happen by himself. The quickness and agility, which show up with the ball and while running routes, is rare. There aren’t many players in the league who can move like him. The temper issue at the end of the game? I don’t want to make too much of it because the answer is generic. It was a dumb decision in the heat of the moment against a dirty player (Tyron Kazee) who has a reputation. The only move to make is preventing himself from doing that again. He was pulled back by coaches last week after a NO defender hit Jones near the sideline. His toughness and attitude are part of what make him a good player, but he needs to show he can control it. We’ve been here before, hopefully this one turns out better.

-After his big-time performance last week, John Ross had 1 catch for 13 yards and had a touchdown pulled off the board by a review because he didn’t get his second foot down in time. He had a step on DAL corners multiple times downfield and Jones overshot him twice. Glennon didn’t see him on another one.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram: 4 rec / 55 yards
Engram caught all 4 of his targets and two of them were high-level hand catches. If Glennon gets the nod with Jones being out, look for Engram to see an uptick in production. Glennon has a history of throwing to the tight end often.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Andrew Thomas was active but did not play. Thus, the staff moved Nate Solder back over to left tackle and inserted Matt Peart on the right side. Solder allowed 3 pressures and was flagged for a hold. Peart was excellent on the right side. He neutralized that side of the line from start to finish while the coaching staff sent over a lot of help to Solder’s side. Peart should be the starting RT by midseason. He needs to get his game experience up and he just showed there isn’t much of a drop off, if at all, from him to Solder when Thomas returns back at left tackle.

-Left Guard Matt Skura had an awful game and was benched for recently signed Wes Martin. He was on the field for just 29 plays (15 passes) but allowed 3 pressures. Martin didn’t fare much better, but he did get a better push in the running game.

-Will Hernandez had a solid game. He was effective at the second level and was left alone on an island in the passing game often. He neutralized the DAL interior pass rushers, most of which are power based. Hernandez does have his struggles against speed, but he is as good as you will find when it comes to blocking against size and power.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-DAL averaged 5.2 yards per carry and while some of that will be put on the defensive line, most of the blame should be placed on the guys in the next position group. Leonard Williams had 6 tackles, a half-sack, and a pressure. He had a dumb personal foul penalty late in the game where he couldn’t hide his frustration. Dexter Lawrence was hot and cold. He finished with 3 tackles. The glaring negative I have was the result of him facing off against DAL right guard Zack Martin. Martin, one of the best in the game still, abused Lawrence when they were on an island. That is a red flag for me. Lawrence did get him on one pass rush but otherwise, he looked overmatched.

-Danny Shelton was terrible against NO and because DAL had a lot of success on the ground, many will assume was terrible against DAL. That would be incorrect. He was much more active, finishing with 6 tackles and a half-sack. He missed 1 tackle and didn’t offer anything as a pass rusher, but he was better at holding the point of attack than a week ago.

-Austin Johnson had 4 tackles and a sack, continuing his solid play. He offers a lot of what B.J. Hill did prior to the trade with CIN.

LINEBACKER

-This was the position group that hurt the defense the most in my opinion. They were roasted against the pass all afternoon, showing no range. The outside ‘backers failed to set the edge over and over. Lorenzo Carter made a huge play on the tip + interception early on, but he was getting crushed in the running game all afternoon. Azeez Ojulari had 3 tackles and 1 TFL, his 5th play behind the line of scrimmage in as many weeks but got pushed inward routinely on the DAL outside zone runs. And Oshane Ximines continues to show no feel for run defense. He did add 1 pressure, though. Poor game by this crew.

-Tae Crowder and Reggie Ragland were late to the outside over and over. Their mental reactions are a hair slow, and they just couldn’t make up the gap with movement, more notably Ragland. Ragland’s box score reads well (7 tackles, 1 FR, 1 PD, 1 TFL), but he was the catalyst in NYG’s poor run defense for most of the afternoon. The speed isn’t good enough. Crowder has more juice, but it won’t matter much if he can’t diagnose quicker.

CORNERBACK

-There are certain receivers James Bradberry can excel against. The quicker, more change-of-direction based pass catchers are simply not a good matchup for him. Lamb is one of those guys. He torched Bradberry for a long touchdown and forced a pass interference on a 3rd-and-3 near the end zone later in the game. Bradberry also dropped an interception. A poor game for him that added to his poor overall start for the season.

-Adoree’ Jackson and rookie Rodarius Williams were both beat on 3rd down multiple times. They are quality athletes but like Crowder, they don’t forecast well. Their reactions are just a tad too behind and against a quality passing game, that margin just can’t be erased especially with a poor pass rush.

SAFETY

-There wasn’t a lot of positive coming from a defense that allowed over 500 yards. Julian Love, upon re-watching the 2 tapes, played a good game. They moved him around often. He had 2 pressures and 5 tackles. Love is an effective blitzer who times his breaks well to coincide with the snap and he takes good angles. His glaring negative, however, was being late to the outside on the long Lamb touchdown. He also took a poor angle on the play.

-Logan Ryan led the team with 8 tackles. He missed 1, but it was a tough play where he was caught out of position. Xavier McKinney had 6 tackles and looked better in coverage than a week ago in NO, but he was still getting beat by tight ends. He needs to improve over the middle of the field because in all honesty, his impact elsewhere isn’t good enough to make up for poor coverage.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 2/3 (Made 51, 51, Missed 54).
-P Riley Dixon: 2 punts / 45.0 avg / 36.5 net. Dixon is having a poor year and ranks bottom 7 in the most important metrics.

3 STUDS

-WR Kadarius Toney, OT Matt Peart, S Julian Love

3 DUDS

-OG Matt Skura, LB Oshane Ximines, CB James Bradberry

3 THOUGHTS ON DAL

(1) I projected DAL to win 10 games and win the NFC East prior to the season. I stand by it now and could see them approaching 12 wins if they remain healthy. Their offense is loaded and will end up top-5 in points scored. We knew that. But what is the difference maker? Their defense looks credible and deep, finally. Even with the release of linebacker Jaylon Smith, this defense is so well put together top to bottom, left to right. The emergence of cornerback Trevon Diggs could potentially shut down one side of the field the way Jalen Ramsey does for LAR. He is doing things only a couple corners in the league can do.

(2) It’s hard not to root for a guy like Dak Prescott. His personal story and issues with depression, the bounce back from a horrific injury, and the fact he was a FOURTH round pick (many forget that) should give a lot of teams and fans alike hope. I graded him as a 2nd rounder and stacked him right under Carson Wentz in 2016 and saw Donovan McNabb in him. Now? I think he is the best QB from that class by far (Goff/Wentz/Lynch/Jones) and will end up with a far better career than McNabb.

(3) NYG had a shot at Micah Parsons. He was one of the top 10 players on my overall board and was an ideal fit for a scheme that gave multiple looks. He has 10 QB hits, 3 TFL 2 PD, and 25 tackles. All of that and he still doesn’t even know what he’s doing yet. He is making all of that happen with sheer talent alone. If his head stays on straight, and from everything I’ve been told he has been an “A+ student” with the coaches, DAL may have yet another elite-level player for the back seven to pair with Diggs. Say what you want about Jerry Jones, but those guys have drafted very well over the years.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

(1) This won’t matter much in the NYG locker room but when it comes to us, the outsiders, it certainly does. NYG is missing nearly two-thirds of their offense and their 5 most important players. How long will Jones, Barkley, Thomas, Shepard, and Golladay be out? My guess is not long. But because of the poor 1-4 start, their margin for error was small. They are now staring down the barrel of a schedule that is the hardest in the NFL. 16-9 is the combined record of their upcoming 5 opponents and the team with the worst record? Kansas City. It’s hard to have even an ounce of optimism as opposed to last year because DAL is already running away with the division crown.

(2) Matt Peart was behind Nate Solder on the depth chart for the first 4 games. Kadarius Toney barely saw the ball over the first 3 games (all losses). They get forced into action week 5 and they end up playing at a really high level? Proper patience? Or over-coaching? Should these two have played a larger part in the offense weeks 1-3? I think it is a question worth asking.

(3) NYG now ranks bottom 3 in pressure percentage. When examining and breaking down defenses from around the league, it is one of the most important metrics I personally use. They are 2nd worst in QB knockdown percentage. Simply put, we will never know how good this secondary is without a true pass rush presence. There is a lot of talk, and there will be a lot of talk, why NYG is where it is right now. The lack of pass rush is where I start the conversation and then I move over to the OL. Remember when NYG used a 1st round pick on defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka from Boston College in 2006 despite the fact they already had a top tier group of pass rushers? They were already 3-deep with 3 All-Pro caliber players and had other roster weaknesses. Those were the days and always remember, “You can never have enough pass rushers.” Draft talent more than you draft need. It works.

Oct 102021
 
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Mike Glennon, New York Giants (October 10, 2021)

Mike Glennon – © USA TODAY Sports

DALLAS COWBOYS 44 – NEW YORK GIANTS 20…
The New York Giants were soundly defeated by the Dallas Cowboys 44-20 on Sunday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. With the loss, the Giants fall to 1-4 on the season.

Already missing wide receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, as well as left tackle Andrew Thomas and left guard Ben Bredeson, the Giants were quickly handicapped further in this game by losing quarterback Daniel Jones (concussion) in the 2nd quarter and running back Saquon Barkley (ankle sprain) in the 1st quarter. In addition, WR Kenny Golladay hyperextended his knee in the 1st quarter and was forced to leave the game at the half.

Dallas out-gained the Giants in first downs (26 to 20), total net yards (515 to 367), net yards rushing (201 to 73), net yards passing (324 to 294), and time of possession (32:12 to 27:48). The Cowboys converted on 8-of-14 3rd-down conversion attempts (57 percent).

The Cowboys received the ball to start the game, picked up one first down, but then turned the ball over when linebacker Lorenzo Carter picked off a 4th-and-2 pass intended for running back Ezekiel Elliott near midfield. The Giants were able to pick up one first down and reach the Dallas 36-yard line, but the possession ended with a 54-yard field goal miss by place kicker Graham Gano. The miss enabled Dallas to begin their second drive at their own 44-yard line. They moved the ball 44 yards in 10 plays, but were forced to settle for a 31-yard field goal. Cowboys led 3-0.

Barkley was hurt on New York’s ensuing drive, their second possession of the game, and did not return. The Giants promptly went three-and-out. The Cowboys returned the punt 17 yards to the New York 49-yard line. It took them eight plays to reach the New York 5-yard line. But on 2nd-and-goal, Dallas fumbled the ball away on an aborted snap with linebacker Reggie Ragland recovering. The Giants had dodged a bullet, albeit only temporarily. The Giants went three-and-out again on their third possession and the Cowboys quickly went up 10-0, needing only four plays to travel 65 yards with Prescott throwing a 49-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver CeeDee Lamb.

The Giants responded with their first scoring drive of the game. The Giants gained 42 yards in seven plays to set up a successful 51-yard field goal by Gano. After Dallas went three-and-out, momentum continued to grow as New York put together a 12-play, 88-yard possession that resulted in a 1-yard touchdown by running back Devontae Booker on 4th-and-goal. However, on the preceding play, Jones was knocked out of the game with a concussion after a bad helmet-to-helmet hit.

Worse for the Giants, despite the game being tied 10-10 with 2:51 left before halftime, for the fifth game in a row, the New York defense collapsed right before halftime. Dallas drove 75 yards in eight plays to take a 17-10 halftime advantage when Prescott threw a 24-yard touchdown to wide receiver Amari Cooper with 36 seconds left.

The Giants received the ball to start the second half and immediately cut Dallas’ lead to 17-13 after a 7-play, 42-yard drive resulted in another 51-yard field goal by Gano. However, momentum quickly swung back to the Cowboys with a 10-play, 75 yard drive that ended with Prescott’s third touchdown pass of the game, this one a 4-yarder to Elliott. Dallas was now up 24-13 midway through the 3rd quarter.

Matters got worse when quarterback Mike Glennon’s first pass of the ensuing drive was intercepted and returned to the Cowboys’ 41-yard line. Dallas gained 39 yards in eight plays to set up a 38-yard field goal that gave them a 27-13 advantage near the end of the 3rd quarter. The Giants did respond with a 10-play, 73-yard drive, but came up with no points when Glennon’s 4th-and-goal pass at the 2-yard line fell incomplete with 12:22 left to play.

The Cowboys went up by three touchdowns on their ensuing possession, driving an embarrassing 98 yards in nine plays, and Elliott scoring from 13 yards out to take a 34-13 lead. Glennon and New York responded with yet another long drive (11 plays, 75 yards), this one ending with a touchdown pass to Booker on 4th-and-goal. Cowboys 34 – Giants 20.

Dallas recovered the ensuing onsides kick with 3:16 left to play. They gained 33 yards in eight plays to set up a 31-yard field goal. The final humiliation occurred when cornerback Anthony Brown intercepted Glennon with a minute and a half remaining and returned the pick 45 yards for a touchdown.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
The Giants elevated OT Korey Cunningham to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad.

Inactive for the game were S Jabrill Peppers (hamstring), WR Sterling Shepard (hamstring), WR Darius Slayton (hamstring), OG Ben Bredeson (hand), CB Sam Beal, and CB Josh Jackson.

On Saturday, the Giants announced that OC Jonotthan Harrison, who was on the Practice Squad, has suffered an Achilles’ injury. According to press reports, Harrison got hurt during Thursday’s practice and that he may need season-ending surgery.

QB Daniel Jones (concussion), RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), WR Kenny Golladay (knee), and CB Rodarius Williams (knee) all left the game with injuries and did not return. According to press reports, Barkley’s injury is believed to be a low-ankle sprain. Golladay said he hyperextended his knee in the 1st quarter.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Joe Judge and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

POST-GAME NOTES…
The Giants have lost eight of their last nine games to the Cowboys.

Dallas gained 515 total yards, the highest total allowed by the Giants since New Orleans gained 608 yards in a 52-49 victory on November 1, 2015 and is tied for the ninth-highest total ever given up by the Giants.

The Giants’ offense did not allow a sack for the second straight game.

WR Kadarius Toney’s 189 receiving yards is a Giants rookie record, breaking the mark of 185 yards set by Odell Beckham, Jr. vs. Philadelphia on December 28, 2014. It was also the highest total by a Giants receiver since Beckham had 222 yards against Baltimore on December 16, 2016.

Toney was ejected from the game with 6:06 remaining after punching safety Damontae Kazee.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Oct 082021
 
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Kadarius Toney, New York Giants (October 3, 2021)

Kadarius Toney – © USA TODAY Sports

THE STORYLINE:
Giants fans should have celebrated last Sunday. God knows that wins have been few and far between the last few years. But there is a difference between celebrating ONE win as a fan and losing complete perspective. All last Sunday’s upset win (over a beat-up Saints team with a questionable quarterback) did was stop the bleeding. That’s it. In order for it to be more than that, the Giants are going to have to pull off a number of upsets in upcoming weeks. Can they do that? Sure. But the oddsmakers say no, and if they are correct, fans contending that the team has “turned the corner” are going to look pretty stupid in a couple of weeks.

I said it last week, and I’ll say it again now, and again next week: the only way to get out of this mess is to circle the wagons, ignore the outside noise, and just focus on winning that next game. Nothing else matters. One game at a time.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Saquon Barkley (knee – probable)
  • WR Kenny Golladay (groin – probable)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (hamstring – out)
  • WR Darius Slayton (hamstring – out)
  • WR C.J. Board (clavicle – probable)
  • TE Kaden Smith (knee – probable)
  • LT Andrew Thomas (foot – questionable)
  • OG Ben Bredeson (hand – out)
  • DE Leonard Williams (knee – probable)
  • S Logan Ryan (hip – probable)
  • S Jabrill Peppers (hamstring – out)
  • S Nate Ebner (quad – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Many fans believe the Giants performed better on offense last Sunday because Joe Judge and Jason Garrett changed their offensive approach. Garrett and Daniel Jones said this week that simply was not true, that the team simply executed better. What we do know is that the offensive line played at a much higher level than normal. The starting five gave Jones time to throw, and Jones responded with one of his best games. Funny how that works!

To me, more vague is the overall impact of John Ross and Kadarius Toney. Did those two make a bigger impact than Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard because they are better players? Or was it the result of the offensive line giving Jones more time to deliver the ball, and Jones responding with a top-tier performance? That remains to be seen, but it will be interesting to watch moving forward.

For all of the giddiness many of us are feeling, keep this in mind: with seven minutes left in the Saints game, the Giants had only scored 10 points. This is still a team averaging only 20 points per game. That’s not good enough. In my mind, the next step towards improving that number is getting the running game going. Last week, I talked about the offensive braintrust getting Saquon Barkley into space in order to get his mojo back. We saw that with a few plays last week, most notably Saquon’s long touchdown catch-and-run and the key screen pass in overtime. That seemed to spark Saquon who finally ran a tough, instinctive, between-the-tackles touchdown in the red zone for the win. Build upon that. Continue the plays in space. Get his confidence up. And start feeding him the ball. He will break the big runs.

Dallas’ defense was atrocious last year. They fired their defensive coordinator and the overall impression is that they have improved, although the yards allowed on a per-game basis is even worse this year.  (Dallas is giving up 396 yards per game…for comparison sake, the struggling Giants’ defense is giving up 382 yards per game). Why Dallas is perceived to be doing better is they are creating turnovers. Turnovers have saved the day for the Cowboys in a couple of games. If Dallas doesn’t create turnovers, they are in trouble.

As Joe Judge pointed out in his Wednesday press conference, the Cowboys run a lot of stunts up front, trying to confuse the offensive line into making mental mistakes that lead to negative plays. This is the type of pass rush that has given the Giants problems in the past, particularly guys like Will Hernandez. We saw it last week, give Daniel Jones time, and he can get the ball to his play-makers, who seem to be coming on. Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Saquon Barkley are showing signs of being difference makers. If Evan Engram could get in on the act, this offense could become really dangerous. The fly in the ointment here is that Andrew Thomas, who is coming off a very good game, is clearly struggling with a foot injury. If he plays, that will affect his performance.

The expectation heading into this game is that the Giants are going to have to score a lot of points. The team’s defense is surprisingly struggling and Dallas is a top-5 offense in both yards and points. Can the Giants reach that magical 30-point mark for once?

Final point. I’ve seen a lot of posts this week about so-and-so (Gettleman, Judge, Jones, Barkley, Toney, Thomas, etc.) because of ONE game. Don’t lose perspective. It was one game. You may be singing a different tune in a week or two. In order to really “turn the corner,” Judge, Jones, Barkley, Toney, Thomas, etc. have to string together more positive performances and win more games. Nothing has been settled yet. There are still 13 more games to go.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
I’ve talked about it for a few weeks now, for some reason this defense has gotten mentally weak at the end of halves. Osi Osi Osi OyOyOy is going to hate me for stealing his work again, but he just made the same point about the defense collapsing at the end of the first half in EVERY game the team has played this year (Finishing the 1st Half Strong). Some say it’s the pass rush. It’s more than that. It’s as if they expect to give up points now. They have to fix this or they are going to lose more games.

But that may not have been the most troubling element of last week’s game. Against the Saints, the Giants allowed 170 rushing yards. This was against a New York Giants defense whose #1 main goal is to stop the run. Patrick Graham talks about it each and every week. Enter Dallas, who is #2 in the NFL in rushing, averaging almost 170 yards per game as well. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where this game is going to be won or lost.

You can talk about Dak Prescott (who owns the Giants), WR Amari Cooper, WR CeeDee Lamb, TE Dalton Schultz, etc. all you want, but the Giants need to stop running backs Ezekiel Elliott (5.3 yards per carry) and Tony Pollard (6.8 yards per carry) to win this game. When a team is able to run the ball, you wear down your opponent, control the clock, keep down-and-distance situations manageable, slow down the pass rush, and make the passing game much easier. Want to get Dallas out of their comfort zone? Stop the run. Easier said than done.

The entire 11 out on the field on defense have a role in stopping the run. But a clear weak spot last week was the nose tackle position. The Giants are missing Dalvin Tomlinson. Austin Johnson and Danny Shelton were too easily controlled last week. Missing Blake Martinez doesn’t help matters either. This may be a game where we could see Reggie Ragland’s snaps increase, even though he is weaker in pass coverage. With Jabrill Peppers out, run defense will probably be weaker as well as his replacements won’t be as big or physical. The Giants need Xavier McKinney and Julian Love to make a difference this week.

That all said, New York obviously can’t sleep on Dallas’ dangerous passing game. Prescott is completing over 75 percent of his passes right now. He has a 10-to-2 TD-to-INT ratio and his QBR is an unbelievable 117. He can hurt teams with his feet still when necessary and has dangerous targets to throw to. The obvious targets are the ones we mentioned, but don’t sleep on the back-up WRs and TE too (New York has a history of making heroes out of Dallas’ back-up tight ends, including Blake Jarwin, who has five career TDs against the Giants). Coach Judge has emphasized how Dallas does well with the short passing game, and they will take their shots down the field.

Long story short, for the Giants to win this game, the defense has to play its best game of the season thus far. And they need to do a better job of creating turnovers. The Giants have generated four turnovers all year (the Cowboys have generated 10). Patrick Graham is going to have to take some chances in the secondary in order to stop the run. It’s time for James Bradberry, Adoree’ Jackson, and Ryan Logan to earn their big, fat paychecks. Play more man coverage and load up against the run. And for the love of God, hold the line at the end of the 2nd and 4th quarters!

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
I’m still waiting for that “wow” special teams game from Joe Judge and Thomas McGaughey. This could be the week where we see Kadarius Toney get special teams return touches. Dallas always seems to have good special teams.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Joe Judge on the Dallas defense:It’s a turnover-driven defense.

THE FINAL WORD:
There is a big difference between 2-3 and 1-4. Win the turnover battle and win the damn game.

Jan 052021
 
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Dante Pettis, New York Giants (January 3, 2021)

Dante Pettis – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

There was an odd feel to the days and moments leading up to the week 17 battle with the Dallas Cowboys. After all, it was the first time in years that Big Blue was playing a meaningful game in January. However, it was largely a result of how bad the NFC East was as a whole, more than the Giants earning the right. If NYG could win this 1 PM game against DAL, all they would need would be an 8:20 PM Eagles win over the Washington Football Team. If those two things happened, they would be hosting a playoff game in under a week. NYG would be the first double-digit loss team in the postseason in league history. DAL was playing for the same exact thing in this do-or-die match-up. As they always say, all bets are off when you’re in the tournament, though.

NYG has been horrid in the first half since the start of December. In their previous 4 games combined, they scored a total of 6 points and did not get into the end zone once in the first 2 quarters. They began this week 17 match-up against league’s 26th-ranked (and last-ranked run) defense. Questions were looming over their second-year quarterback. Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett has already been rumored by the media to be gone after this season. The opening drive on this game meant something and they responded. It took just 6 plays to drive 78 yards, ending with a Sterling Shepard reverse that saw him carry it 23 yards into the end zone.

Backup quarterback Andy Dalton, who took over the job the last time these two teams met on October 11 when Dak Prescott suffered a severe leg/ankle injury, had a really rough first half. He threw an interception on the opening DAL drive to rookie Xavier McKinney but it was cancelled due to a holding penalty on fellow rookie defensive back Darnay Holmes. DAL did end up punting a few plays later, however.

NYG was playing a really physical brand early on. There was a lot of emotion and some extra contact post-whistle on most plays. They were trying hard to establish the run with Wayne Gallman (who gained 18 yards on 2 carries on the opening drive) in contrast to them ignoring him in their previous 3 games, all losses. On the third play of the NYG second drive, there was a fumble on the Jones-Gallman exchange, which DAL recovered. Thus, the Cowboys began their own second drive on the NYG 27-yard line. They did breach the red zone but the NYG defense held them to 3 points.

The two offenses then traded 6 scoreless possessions. Both quarterbacks were struggling to make the needed throws that would extend drives and the game became more and more physical. The Jones-to-Shepard connection continued to blossom with New York’s sixth drive ending with a 10-yard touchdown in which Shepard trucked over DAL rookie corner Trevon Diggs into the end zone. Graham Gano made the PAT after missing the first one following the opening drive to make it 13-6.

Dalton then started to click and the NYG defense started missing tackles left and right. Their drive was thwarted by a Dalvin Tomlinson sack, however. DAL settled on a field goal, this one from 46 yards. The NYG two-minute offense clicked on the next drive. This time, they needed just 4 plays to gain 75 yards, ending with a 33-yard touchdown to Dante Pettis. NYG had 20 points on the board for the first time since November 15. Those 20 points came in the first half. They scored 16 points in the first halves of the previous 5 games combined.

The NYG defense was not able to keep DAL from driving down the field again enough, however. They got past midfield with chunk gains in the passing game. Zuerlein then hit a 57-yard field goal to make it 20-9 going into the half.

After going 1-for-7 on 3rd down in the first half, DAL then went 3-and-out on the opening drive of the second half. The oh-so-important first drive of that second half for NYG then resulted in a turnover thanks to another drop by Evan Engram. The ball went right through his hands and into the arms of DAL safety Damien Wilson. DAL turned that into 7 points on a 1-yard touchdown by Ezekiel Elliott. All of the sudden, they were within 4 points with an offense that was starting to click.

The NYG offense continued to shoot themselves in the foot with an illegal crackback block by Shepard and another drop by Engram killing the drive. DAL had the ball back. Their 13-play drive ended with a 36-yard field goal to cut the lead down to 1 point as the 4th quarter began. The stalling NYG offense then went 3-and-out following a sack. Now DAL, who had at this point scored 13 unanswered points, had the ball back. Fortunately, the NYG defense forced a 3-and-out.

At this time, it is important for an offense to have an identity. They had stalled, the opponent was coming back and within 1, and the end of the game was near. In these moments, they need to have something or someone to lean on and that has been where this offense has been putrid in 2020. Nobody could be consistently relied on. However, Jones stepped up and it was interesting to see who he went after the most. On three of the next four plays, Jones threw to Shepard. All three connected and it gained a total of 43 yards. They were approaching field goal range, which was important because it would force DAL to have to pursue a touchdown rather than a field goal. Damien Wilson came up with another big play by sacking Jones for a 10-yard loss. On 3rd-and-16, Jones threw a pass slightly behind Pettis, who was forced to dive backward. He made the catch but the replay showed the ball bounced off of the ground before he demonstrated full control. DAL Head Coach Mike McCarthy did not challenge, Gano then hit a 50-yard field goal, and NYG had a 4-point lead with under 7 minutes left. A huge gaffe by the DAL Head Coach who had more than his fair share of big mistakes in 2020.

DAL kept their offense rolling, putting together a marathon 17-play drive. They did indeed reach field goal range but the 4-point lead now loomed large. What an awful mistake by McCarthy! DAL converted three 3rd downs and a 4th down on this drive. They made it all the way to the NYG 7-yard line. After a crucial sack by Leonard Williams, Dalton desperately heaved a pass into the end zone which was intercepted by McKinney. This time the interception stood. NYG just had to get a first down on offense and it would all be over.

Wayne Gallman, on 2nd-and-5, broke through the line and crossed the first down marker. Without a DAL defender within 5 yards of him any direction, all he had to do was fall onto the ground. Instead, he dropped the ball. An enormous pile of blue and white jerseys then trounced on top of one another. The refs initially signaled DAL football in one of the most 2020-moments of the year. It was almost unbelievable. After conferring with each other, the refs changed it to NYG possession because Gallman clearly had the ball at the bottom of the pile. After a lengthy booth review, NYG still had the ball and game number 16 ended in the victory formation.

NYG wins, 23-19.

QUARTERBACK

-Daniel Jones: 17-25 / 229 yards / 2 TD – 1 INT / 106.9 RAT

Jones did seem a little hesitant with his legs, but he did run the ball 9 times for 17 yards, including a couple of designed runs. The interception was a complete gaffe by Engram. Jones played a solid game and threw a few really nice intermediate balls. He did show a lack of arm talent on two throws that NFL quarterbacks need to make. One was on a deep pass to Slayton where he had a few steps on corner Trevon Diggs. The other was on an out throw to Shepard on 3rd down from the opposite hash. His poor accuracy was bailed out on a few throws by his receivers. Overall, it was a solid game, he simply just missed on a few throws. By the way, the interception that was on Engram marked the first time Jones had thrown one in a current league-high 178 straight attempts. He was charged with the lost fumble on the exchange with Gallman, but I think it was more on the running back.

RUNNING BACK

-Wayne Gallman: 11 att / 65 yards

Gallman had a bunch of quality inside runs. After all, they were up against the last-ranked rushing defense in the league and the NYG offensive line was getting a great push early. When you have a back averaging 6 yards per carry and a passing game that struggles across the board, I just don’t see why you steer away from that running game. Gallman should have gotten the ball more, once again.

-Alfred Morris added 12 yards on 5 carries and Dion Lewis had 1 carry for 7 yards. All three of these backs are unrestricted free agents this offseason. This could be a very different looking running back room with Barkley coming back in 2021.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Sterling Shepard: 8 rec / 112 yards / 1 TD and 2 att / 24 yards / 1 TD

Shepard put out his best performance we have seen in a long time, possibly the best game of his career. It was a strong finish to the year for a guy who just hasn’t made a ton of big plays for this offense that has been starving for a pass catcher to step up. Shepard played a really physical game, trucking over DAL defenders and making an impact as a blocker. He was flagged for a crackback block, however. One thing I love about this kid, he rarely drops the ball. Really sure-handed receiver.

-Dante Pettis definitely earned the right to be a part of the wide receiver mix next year. He had 2 catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. Both grabs were high-skill (even if the second one did indeed hit the ground). They were both big plays and on a team that is absolutely starving for WR talent, he needs to be at least considered.

-Austin Mack had a catch for 9 yards and allowed a TFL while Darius Slayton added 2 catches for 22 yards. Slayton made a really nice grab on a poorly thrown pass and was also mistargeted by Jones on a deep route. It wasn’t a great year for Slayton but there is no denying the upside if the offense around him improves.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram dropped two more passes. Both went right through his hands and one of them resulted in an interception that DAL turned into a touchdown. The debate really doesn’t exist anymore. Engram is super-talented and blessed with rare movement tools for the position, but he can’t be a focal point here. NYG has him here for one more year on a fair price, but I think his days here should be over. More on that below.

-Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo each had a catch on their lone respective targets. Smith allowed a sack but also threw a key block on the Shepard rushing touchdown.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-The top two grades went to the top 2 offensive linemen on the year, Nick Gates and Andrew Thomas. They were both flawless in pass protection and both got tremendous push in the running game. Thomas had a roller coaster season but his second half was better than his first half. He has some positive momentum going into his first offseason. Gates started off poorly but evolved into the top OL on this team. He really did play at a top-10 level in the league at the center position. The physical brand of football is coming back and I think this kid is at the forefront.

-Kevin Zeitler allowed a sack, TFL, and a pressure. He did throw some weight around in the running game but he and Cameron Fleming, who also allowed a pressure, may be the focal point of this offense that needs to be fixed first. That right side has been poor all year and even though Matt Peart did show some signs of potential, NYG can’t go into 2021 with these holes. If it means big money to someone, so be it. If it means another high draft pick, so be it. They need to get dominant up front or else this offense will continue to stink.

-Shane Lemieux played every snap at left guard and allowed 1 pressure. He, too, was solid in the running game. I think he showed enough to deserve a starting spot in 2021 or at the very least be in competition for a starting spot. He simply needs strength and power development. There was a lot he did right this year and NYG should be pleased with him considering where they got him in the draft.

EDGE

-Kyler Fackrell was back after missing 4 games with a calf injury. It was interesting to see NYG try and fill his hybrid ILB/OLB “BUCK” role in this scheme. Nobody realty could. It is a really unique position. He had 3 tackles and a sack. Fackrell is a free agent this year and I think NYG should prioritize bringing him back. He isn’t special, but he is unique.

-Jabaal Sheard had 1 tackle and a 1 pressure. He was a solid player for a one-year rental, but I doubt he is in the picture next year.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

-The career-year by Leonard Williams ended with a bang. He finished with 7 tackles, 3 sacks, a pass break-up, and 2 pressures. No need to bring up whether or not the trade was worth it anymore, as previously stated. The question is now is what should NYG offer him to stick around for the long term? The 26-year old is one of the more unique defensive linemen in the game and you could make the argument he is the most versatile defensive lineman in the game. He is not as good as J.J. Watt, but they are the two guys who can credibly play both the inside and outside gaps in whatever scheme a coach draws up. For a defense that truly wants to change their face weekly, that is invaluable. But hey, everyone has a limit.

-Dalvin Tomlinson had 2 tackles and a sack while Dexter Lawrence added 2 tackles, 1 TFL, and 1 pressure. Even though NYG still has a ways to go, these three guys up front along with quality backups B.J. Hill and Austin Johnson were a consistent bright spot all year. This group made this defense more consistent than it has been in a very long time. They made this defense have a standout trait and even though there are other pieces needed, I do hope they find a way to keep these guys together another few years. That could be something special.

LINEBACKER

-Tae Crowder and Blake Martinez both had 11 tackles. Crowder added 2 TFL and Martinez added a sack. This was fun to watch. We have gotten used to how reliable Martinez has been, notably against the run between the tackles. We also saw flashes of Crowder and his play-making ability that stems from plus twitch and speed. They were both on their game in this one and matched with a very solid defensive line, they could be major forces combined as a pair in 2021. Crowder did miss 2 tackles and that is a red flag we have seen a few times.

-David Mayo had 4 tackles, 2 of which were on special teams, and Devante Downs added 1 tackle. These are two guys I wouldn’t mind seeing replaced in 2021. They just don’t seem to have enough speed to be relied on. It has shown up several times this year, as it did in this match-up.

CORNERBACK

-Pro Bowler James Bradberry had 4 tackles and a pass break up. He dropped an interception that he should have brought in. Opposing defenses really didn’t throw at him that much this season. NYG got a good one. Now they need to find another.

-Logan Ryan played more corner in this one than the previous few weeks. He nearly had an interception as well while adding 3 tackles. He had another missed tackle. He led the team in that department this season.

-Darnay Holmes was back after missing time with an injury. He was on the field for under a third of the snaps. On multiple occasions, he has shown the knack for being flagged at very inopportune times. This game was no different. He was flagged for a hold on Xavier McKinney’s interception in the first half. He was beat on a couple 3rd-down conversions as well.

SAFETY

-Speaking of McKinney, we saw a real glimpse of just how good this kid can be down the road. He was all over the field and this scheme has him wearing a lot of hats. He finished with 8 tackles, 1 TFL, and an interception. He also has a second interception that was cancelled by a penalty on Darnay Holmes. McKinney quickly sniffed out a screen pass on two occasions and also sniffed out a reverse that led to a no gain. He really seemed to get more and more comfortable these past 3 weeks. I think NYG should be excited about what he brings to the table. They have been starving for talent at safety for a long time and they now have 2-3 guys who can really get it done.

-Jabrill Peppers was roasted by the DAL passing game in this one. They attacked him over and over and he just always seemed to be a step slow. He did a nice job of making tackles in space and minimizing damage, but he did miss a tackle and was flagged for a holding penalty.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 1/1 (Made 50). Gano hit his 29 consecutive field goal, a franchise record. He missed an extra point.

-P Riley Dixon 5 Punts / 45.2 avg / 37.6 net

3 STUDS

-WR Sterling Shepard, DT Leonard Williams, S Xavier McKInney

3 DUDS

-OG Kevin Zeitler, TE Evan Engram, S Jabrill Peppers

3 THOUGHTS ON DAL

6-10 in a season where they lost their starting quarterback in Week 5. DAL had games started by quarterbacks Ben DiNucci and Garrett Gilbert. They lost both of their starting defensive tackles. They lost both starting offensive tackles and had health issues at center and one of the guard spots. I actually give this team credit for finishing where they did.

What does DAL need the most? Their defense is atrocious on multiple levels. They lack discipline, they lack consistency, and they couldn’t stop the run all year. DAL is going to need to invest money and early picks on their defense, the DTs and safeties in particular. This is where the issues arise when you opt to put so much money into the Prescott/Elliott/Cooper trio and then spend a 1st rounder on a WR. I’ve been vocal about DAL not spreading their funds and picks out well enough and now they are in a very tricky spot with a QB who is going to fight an uphill battle to return from a serious injury. This offseason is going to be huge for them, huge.

DAL got by with a dominant offensive line for a few years. It was one of a few examples in the league that showed just how good a team can be overall when the OL is dominant. However, left tackler Tyron Smith hasn’t played a full year since 2015 and missed 14 games this season. Right Tackle La’el Collins missed the entire year and there are some whispers from people I trust that some in the organization want him at guard. Yes, DAL missing Prescott was the catalyst in their offense going backwards but that OL taking a few steps back was a close second.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

NYG finishes 6-10. It was the most wins they’ve had since 2016. While nobody is actually giving them credit for playing “meaningful games in December,” it was refreshing to walk away from week 17 thinking the arrow was finally pointing up. This was the first time since 2016 that NYG finished with a defense ranked top-half in the NFL and just the 3rd time since 2010. They finished even in the turnover battle a year after they tied for a league-worst -17. They were flagged the 6th-least amount of times just 2 years after getting flagged the 9th-most. They are clearly playing with more grit, hustle, and intelligence. Their coaching decisions are showing more innovation and creativity. There are still things to be done here, but this is the first time in a long time where I feel this team is on the right track.

The most polarizing personnel decision this offseason, in my opinion, is not at quarterback or wide receiver or outside linebacker or defensive tackle. It revolves around Evan Engram. He is locked into another year before his free agency hits in 2022. I’ll go on record now; I think they need to try and trade him if they can get a day 2 pick from someone. I do think he can thrive in a certain role in a certain offense and there is no denying his talent. However, this passing game just doesn’t have the margin of error to deal with his drop issues. We may be singing a different tune about this season if he didn’t drop the ball so much. I think NYG needs to get the “old school” tight end whether it be in the draft or in free agency. This offense will be built on the running game and short/intermediate passes. Engram doesn’t fit and his drops just kill the flow and upside. He isn’t worth the risk.

Where does NYG go this offseason? I will put together a more detailed approach in the coming weeks. But to be short and to the point, they need players on offense who scare the defense. With Barkley out, nobody scares the defense. Look at the top offenses, they all have multiple guys who scare you. You can use the #11 pick on getting the #1- or #2-graded receiver or you can go after one of the top free agents at the position. I lean toward the former. I also think the building of this offensive line isn’t close to being over. They need a new right side and they need to build more depth at tackle. They likely need another starter at outside corner or at least a guy who can rotate in. Lastly, they need a pure pass rusher on the edge who can help them break through the line while rushing just 4 guys while keeping 7 in coverage. Considering they need to figure out allocation of funds to Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson, all of this is a really tall order. If I had to, right now in this moment, rank where I think they need to apply resources, I am saying: OL, WR, EDGE, TE, CB. Those are the top 5 needs.

Thanks for discussing NYG football with me this year, everybody. Just think… about 5 months ago, we didn’t know if football would happen. And within the past 5 months, we had several chirping about the idea that the league should be put on hold. Football is more important to the well being of this country than most want to admit. We were fortunate that the league pulled off a full 256-game schedule. God Bless everyone. I will be around here and there, but during the next 3-4 months, I will be hunkered down writing my reports for the draft. Position previews will be out in April.

Jan 032021
 
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Leonard Williams, New York Giants (January 3, 2021)

Leonard Williams – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 23 – DALLAS COWBOYS 19…
The New York Giants defeated the Dallas Cowboys 23-19 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday afternoon. The Giants finished the 2020 regular-season with a 6-10 record (4-2 in the NFC East). If the Philadelphia Eagles defeat the Washington Football Team on Sunday night, the Giants will win the NFC East and will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the playoffs.

Leading 20-9 at the half, the Giants almost let this game slip away, including some gut-wrench moments late in the 4th quarter. But defensive lineman Leonard Williams dominated with 7 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 quarterback hits, 3 tackles for a loss, and one pass defense.

The Giants received the ball to start the game and impressively drove 78 yards in six plays to take a quick 6-0 lead (the extra point was missed). A mixture of passes from quarterback Daniel Jones and runs by running back Wayne Gallman set up a 23-yard end around by wide receiver Sterling Shepard that went for the score.

Dallas picked up two first downs on their initial drive and then were forced to punt after a 3rd-down sack by linebacker Blake Martinez. However, the Giants gave the ball right back when Gallman botched a handoff from Jones. The Cowboys recovered at the New York 27-yard line. The Giants defense held when Williams sacked quarterback Andy Dalton on 3rd-and-8 from the 14-yard line. Dallas kicked the 38-yard field goal to cut the score to 6-3.

For the next six consecutive drives (three by each team), the Giants and Cowboys struggled to move the ball. New York picked up three first downs and Dallas could not pick up one. All six of these possessions ended with punts.

Midway through the 2nd quarter, the Giants’ offense began to click into gear again. New York drove 65 yards in six plays with Jones finding Shepard for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Shepard also caught a 21-yard pass earlier on this possession. Giants 13 – Cowboys 3.

The Cowboys finally began to move the ball themselves, driving 44 yards in 10 plays to set up a 46-yard field goal. Giants 13 – Cowboys 6.

With 2:13 left on the clock before halftime, New York decided to remain aggressive. It took just four plays for the Giants to drive 75 yards, the two big gains being an 18-yard pass to Shepard, followed by a 38-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Dante Pettis. The Giants now led 20-6 with under a minute to play. Unfortunately, the defense allowed Dallas to gain 35 yards in 45 seconds, setting up a successful 57-yard field goal as time expired.

At the half, the Giants led 20-9.

The Giants’ defense forced a three-and-out by the Cowboys to start the 3rd quarter. However, two plays later, on 2nd-and-10, a pass from Jones intended for tight Evan Engram bounced off of his hands and was intercepted at the Dallas 38-yard line. Worse, Cowboys’ momentum continued to surge as Dallas drove 62 yards in 10 plays to cut the score to 20-16. Running back Ezekiel Elliott scored from one yard out.

The Giants gained two first downs before an illegal crackback penalty called on Shepard pushed the Giants back, leading to a punt. The Cowboys then began a long, 13-play, 62-yard drive that was finally stopped by linebacker Kyler Fackrell’s 8-yard sack on 3rd-and-9 from the Giants’ 10-yard line. Nevertheless, the 36-yard field goal cut the score to the slimmest of margins early in the 4th quarter. Giants 20 – Cowboys 19.

After both teams exchanged punts, with another sack by Williams, the Giants put together a key 8-play, 48-yard possession that ended with a clutch 50-yard field goal by place kicker Graham Gano. Shepard caught another 21-yard pass from Jones on this drive. Giants 23 – Cowboys 19 with six and a half minutes left to play.

Starting at their own 25-yard line, the Cowboys began a potential game-winning, marathon, 17-play possession that took over five minutes off of the clock. All looked lost when Dallas was able to set up a 1st-and-goal from the 7-yard line. But Williams sacked Dalton for a 10-yard loss. Then on 3rd-and-goal from the 17-yard line, safety Xavier McKinney intercepted Dalton in the end zone with 1:15 left to play.

However, the game was not over and Gallman gave New York fans a huge scare when he fumbled on an 8-yard gain on 2nd-and-5. Gallman recovered the loose ball at the New York 39-yard line. The Giants then knelt on the ball to run out the clock.

Daniel Jones finished the game 17-of-25 for 229 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. His leading receiver was Shepard, who caught 8 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown (he also ran for a 23-yard touchdown). No other Giants had more than two catches. Gallman carried the ball 11 times for 65 yards.

Defensively, the Giants sacked Dalton six times: Williams (3), Martinez (1), Fackrell (1), and defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson (1). The defense was also credited with nine tackles for losses and six pass defenses. Linebackers Martinez and Tae Crowder were each credited with 11 tackles.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
P Ryan Santoso was activated from the Practice Squad for this game.

Inactive for the game were WR Golden Tate (calf), OT Jackson Barton, OL Kyle Murphy, DE R.J. McIntosh, CB Madre Harper, and P Ryan Santoso.

The Giants reported no injuries from the game.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Joe Judge and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

POST-GAME NOTES…
If the finish in first place, they will be the first six-win playoff team in NFL history.

The Giants ended a seven-game losing streak to Dallas. They had last defeated the Cowboys in December 2016.

The Giants won despite finishing 0-for-7 on 3rd-down conversion attempts. This is the first time the Giants won a game without converting a third down since the 1970 merger.

This was the fifth game this season in which the Giants did not allow a first half touchdown.

This was the first time in wide receiver Sterling Shepard’s 5-year pro career that he scored two times in a game.

The Giants finished the season with 40 sacks, their highest total since they had 47 in 2014. Leonard Williams led the team with 11.5 sacks, the most by a Giants’ player since Jason Pierre-Paul’s 14.5 in 2014.

Defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson became the first Giants defensive player to begin his career with the Giants and start each of his first 64 games in the league since the NFL went to 16 games in 1978.

Kicker Graham Gano’s 50-yard field goal with 6:27 remaining in the 4th quarter was his 30th consecutive successful attempt, a franchise record. Gano made 31-of-32 attempts this season, a .9687 percentage that is the second highest in Giants history. In 2018, Aldrick Rosas made 32-of-33 attempts, a success rate of .9696. Gano kicked his fifth field goal this season of 50 or more yards, including four against the Cowboys. That is a franchise single-season record.

ROSTER MOVES…
On Saturday, the Giants activated linebacker Kyler Fackrell and cornerback Madre Harper from Injured Reserve. To make room for these two, the team placed fullback Eli Penny (illness) on Injured Reserve and cut quarterback Joe Webb.

The Giants placed Fackrell on Injured Reserve in early December 2020 with a calf injury. Up until that point, he had played in all 11 games, starting eight, and accruing 30 tackles, three sacks, and one interception that he returned for a touchdown. Fackrell was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. The Giants signed Fackrell an unrestricted free agent from the Packers in March 2020.

Harper was placed on Injured Reserve in mid-December with a knee injury after playing in nine games with no starts. He was signed by the Las Vegas Raiders as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft. The Giants signed Harper off of the Practice Squad of the Raiders in late September 2020.

The sole fullback on the team for the past three seasons, Penny played in 14 games in 2020, rushing the ball six times for 15 yards (2.5 yards per carry) and catching two passes for 20 yards. The 6’2”, 234-pound Penny was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Cardinals after the 2016 NFL Draft. The Giants signed Penny off of the Practice Squad of the Arizona Cardinals in September 2018. He has played in 44 regular-season games for the Giants with four starts.

The Giants signed Joe Webb to the Practice Squad and then the 53-man roster in December 2020. Webb was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. He has spent time with the Vikings (2010-2013), Carolina Panthers (2014-2016), Buffalo Bills (2017), Houston Texans (2018-2019), and Detroit Lions (2020).

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Joe Judge will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Jan 012021
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (September 22, 2019)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

THE STORYLINE

The New York Giants are in a very strange position. A 10-loss team, the Giants face scenarios in the NFL’s final regular-season weekend where they could make the playoffs by winning the atrocious NFC East or secure a top 10 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

For the Giants to make the playoffs, they have to beat the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon and pray the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Washington Football team on Sunday night. Neither is impossible and there is a good chance the Giants can pull this off. If they do, the Giants will likely lose in the first round of the playoffs to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Los Angeles Rams. And Giants fans will be left with the opportunity to purchase the tragically comical “6-10 New York Giants 2020 NFC East Champions” t-shirt.

So should we REALLY be rooting for New York to win this game? Wouldn’t it be best for the long-term interests of this team to secure a much higher draft pick? There is merit to that argument. But there is also merit to the argument that if the Giants are ever to become a truly competitive team again, they need to re-develop a winning mindset and culture. Joe Judge also needs to know which of the players on his current roster will perform well in the crucible of playoff-type football. Over a decade ago, Tom Coughlin learned that players such as Eli Manning, Brandon Jacobs, Plaxico Burress, Michael Strahan, Antonio Pierce, and Corey Webster could be counted on in pressure-packed situations with an entire season on the line. In 2016, Ben McAdoo discovered Odell Beckham could not.

This game, and the potential playoff game, are hugely important tests for Daniel Jones, Wayne Gallman, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, the offensive and defensive line, the three rookie linebackers, and many of the players in the secondary. Do they elevate their game? Remain inconsistent? Fold under the pressure? Joe Judge will be watching.

THE INJURY REPORT

  • QB Daniel Jones (hamstring – probable)
  • FB Eli Penny (illness – out)
  • WR Golden Tate (calf – doubtful)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (ribs – probable)
  • TE Evan Engram (calf – probable)
  • LB Cam Brown (illness – questionable)
  • S Jabrill Peppers (ankle – probable)
  • CB Darnay Holmes (knee – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE

The Dallas Cowboys are 26th in yards allowed and 30th in points allowed. The Giants are 31st in both yards gained and points scored. Something has to give. The Giants offense never hit any sort of stride in 2020. The most points the team scored in a single game was against Dallas on October 11th in a 37-34 loss (seven NYG points were from a defensive score). Since beating the Philadelphia Eagles 27-17 on November 15th right before the bye week, the Giants haven’t scored more than 20 points in a game. During the last five games after the bye, the team has embarrassingly only averaged 12.4 points. It’s a minor miracle the Giants won two of those five games.

I’ve pointed out ad nauseam how the personnel limitations on offense have hampered this team all year. It is what it is. The offensive line is a work in progress. It got dramatically better during a 4-game winning streak and got dramatically worse during the current 3-game losing streak. There is a direct correlation between how this offensive line plays and the overall competency of the offense, leading to more or less rushing yards and more or fewer negative plays in the passing game. Throw in the ill-timed injuries to Daniel Jones and the utter lack of fear-inducing targets to throw to and it’s pretty easy to see why the team has struggled to score points.

As always, rightfully or wrongly, the lightening rods/scapegoats are the coaches and quarterback. Many fans say if we just get rid of Jason Garrett (they are not prepared to go after Joe Judge – yet) and the quarterback, all will be right in the world. This is just a lazy and stupid reaction. It’s much more complicated than that. And New York fans should know better, especially since we literally just went through this three other coaching staffs and Eli Manning. The talent (or lack thereof) on the offensive line, at running back, at tight end, at wide receiver matters. Hell, the play of the defense has an impact the offense (turnovers, field position, keeping the score within reach, time of possession, number of drives, etc.).

Fans may forget, but Eli’s rookie season was largely a disaster. He actually finished one game against the Baltimore Ravens with a 0.0 quarterback rating, only completing four passes for 27 yards. Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger was tearing it up on the 15-1 Pittsburgh Steelers. Most Giants fans were absolutely convinced the Giants had drafted the wrong quarterback. Eli lost his first six starts. All was doom-and-gloom until he beat the 6-9 Dallas Cowboys in the season-finale, throwing three touchdowns and leading the team from behind in a dramatic last-second victory. Even with playoff appearances in 2005 and 2006, as late as December 2007, many if not most fans were convinced Eli would never take them to the promised land.

Minus the surrounding offensive and defensive talent that Eli Manning had, Daniel Jones had a far, far superior rookie season in 2019. Indeed, had it not been for the ridiculous number of fumbles, fans would have been raving about him all offseason. And he had two watershed games that year with dramatic come-from-behind wins against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins, throwing five touchdowns in the latter during a season where he threw 24 touchdowns in 12 starts.

Where am I going with this? Daniel Jones can do it. We’ve seen it. He can throw a lot of touchdown passes. He can run for touchdowns. He can lead his team from behind. I remain firmly convinced that if you surround him with legitimate NFL talent, he can perform. That all said, this game against the Dallas Cowboys is a huge, huge test for him. Yes, he is not completely healthy. Yes, his offensive line remains inconsistent. Yes, his pass targets suck. But this is a playoff game. Jones needs to elevate his play and carry his team as much as he can without doing something really stupid. In short, score points. Is he a winner?

One way or the other, this is likely to be the game that everyone remembers from Jones heading into the offseason.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

The good news for the Giants’ defense is they are not facing the Cardinals, Browns, or Ravens this week. But Dallas isn’t chopped liver. They lost Dak Prescott for the season against the Giants in October, but Andy Dalton is a legit NFL starter with a 2-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio. Dallas is 12th in offense (7th in passing yards and 17th in rushing yards).

To be blunt, the New York defense hit its high point against the Seattle Seahawks on December 6th and has been playing like shit during the current 3-game losing streak. The 73 points given up in the last three games has not been indicative of the poor play. They haven’t been good against the run or the pass. This has to change on Sunday or the Giants have no chance. And Andy Dalton has already led the Cowboys to a come-from-behind victory against the Giants and Patrick Graham this year. That was a game the Giants should not have let slip away.

Despite the fact that he is having a down season, the focal point must remain Ezekiel Elliott, who has rushed for “just” 937 yards and five touchdowns this year. Much of that is a reflection of a diminished offensive line that simply is missing parts and not playing as well. Nevertheless, Elliott is still quite capable of wearing down a defense and taking over a game. The Ravens ran all of the Giants last week to the tune of 250 yards. The Cowboys are going to test them.

That all said, the absolute strength of the current Dallas offensive team are their passing game targets, headlined by wide receivers Amari Cooper (86 catches, 1,073 yards, 5 touchdowns), CeeDee Lamb (69 catches, 892 yards, 5 touchdowns), and Michael Gallup (55 catches, 794 yards, 5 touchdowns). Throw in tight end Dalton Schultz (56 catches, 545 yards, 4 touchdowns) and Elliott (49 catches, 319 yards, 2 touchdowns). If Daniel Jones had targets like these, he would be lighting it up. (As a team, the Giants only have 10 touchdown receptions this year).

The problem for Patrick Graham is this: he doesn’t have the cornerbacks to match up with Dallas. James Bradberry can cover one of these studs, but Isaac Yiadom will have to take another and rookie Darnay Holmes (still dealing with a knee issue) will have take yet another. The linebackers and safeties can’t help out too much without leaving Schultz or Elliott all alone. This is what I mean when I say the surrounding talent matters. These guys make Andy Dalton look good.

Graham can only do so much game-planning here. Dalton is a veteran. The Giants can’t focus too much on the run or the pass because Dallas is balanced. This game will come down to individual match-ups… who is better and who wants it more. To win, the Giants will most likely have to win the turn over battle.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

The Cowboys always seem to have very good special teams. As noted, the Giants special teams played well most of this year but have faded down the stretch. They definitely have been a factor in the 3-game losing streak as well. The offense could use some help with a big return in the return game to set up quality field position.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

Head Coach Joe Judge on whether the 2020 season can be considered a success for his team, regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s game: “Yeah, I think there are a lot of things in terms of what we set out to accomplish this year that no one game is going to go ahead and define the season. I’m proud of the culture and the foundation we’ve laid and the work ethic and urgency we’ve instilled in these players going forward. That being said, there are a lot of things we need to do better as an organization across the board going forward. We have to keep building this thing in the right direction. But I know there’s a vision going forward and there are a lot of people pointing in the right direction right now. So yeah, absolutely. But that being said, look, our job is to go out and win on Sunday. We’re doing everything we can right now to go out there and win a football game.”

THE FINAL WORD

The Giants went on a 4-game winning streak that included three wins against the terrible NFC East. They upset the Seahawks but showed their true colors against real play caliber teams (Arizona, Cleveland, Baltimore). The Cowboys are a bad team in a bad division. The Giants can win this game.

I love the Giants and hate the Cowboys. So you know my rooting interests. That said, there is a weird dynamic with this game in that it could mean the difference in sliding as possibly as many 15 spots in the draft order. What do I want more than anything? To be left with a really positive impression of Daniel Jones heading into the offseason.

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

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys 37 – New York Giants 34

QUICK RECAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYG loses, 37-34.

QUARTERBACK

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

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

RUNNING BACK

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

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

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

WIDE RECEIVER

-Darius Slayton: 8 rec / 129 yards

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

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

TIGHT END

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

OFFENSIVE LINE

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

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

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

EDGE

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

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

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

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

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

LINEBACKER

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

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

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

CORNERBACK

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

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

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

SAFETY

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

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

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

SPECIAL TEAMS

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

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

3 STUDS

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

3 DUDS

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

3 THOUGHTS ON DALLAS

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

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

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