Sep 282022
 
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Kayvon Thibodeaux, New York Giants (September 26, 2022)

Kayvon Thibodeaux – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

The Giants entered Week 3 undefeated for the first time since 2016. To provide context, that’s when they faced off against Kirk Cousins and the Redskins with leading rusher Matt Jones (retired 4 years ago) and top receivers DeSean Jackson (currently a FA) and Pierre Garçon (retired 3 years ago). Point is, this was a lifetime ago and the NYG faithful showed up to the stadium in team’s first ever “white out” amped and ready to rock as their team, in throwback all-whites, took on the 1-1 Dallas Cowboys in their road-blues that still, after all these years, just never look right.

Dallas came into the game with one of the most banged up offenses in football. They were without starting quarterback Dak Prescott, starting left tackle Tyron Smith, starting left guard Connor McGovern, starting receivers James Washington and Michael Gallup, and starting tight end Dalton Schultz. NYG came into this one relatively healthy, as outside linebackers Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari were on the field for the first time this season but without Leonard Williams. Advantage NYG.

Thanks to a holding penalty by third string left guard Matt Farniok, the DAL opening drive stalled near midfield. Once again, NYG was aided by a DAL penalty, this one defensive holding by linebacker Anthony Barr on third down which gave the NYG offense new life. A drive loaded with play-action and creative play design landed them in field goal range. Graham Gano came onto the field for a 47-yarder, but it was blocked by Dorance Armstrong who found a hole on the right side in the middle of the line, a theme of the night.

DAL put up the first three points of the game via a 26-yard field goal despite two more of their own penalties. NYG responded with three points as the game was now in the second quarter. Tony Pollard, the game’s leading rusher, broke off a 46-yard run on the next drive, landing them inside the NYG 20. The NYG defense held them to three points, however. That was where the score stayed for the rest of the first half. NYG did gain momentum on their two-minute drive at the end of the second quarter but another questionable offensive pass interference (this one called on Sterling Shepard) cancelled a play that would have landed NYG in field goal range. For the third straight week, NYG went into the half with under seven points.

The offensive line clearly did not come out of the locker room with a solution to getting absolutely man-handled by the DAL front. Had it not been for a questionable illegal contact penalty on corner Jourdan Lewis, NYG would have been three-and-out. Instead, the offensive line and offense overall got a second chance. The pass rush pressure remained constant, but Daniel Jones accrued 30 yards on two separate scrambles. Nevertheless, he was sacked twice and center Jon Feliciano was flagged for being illegally downfield on a 14-yard screen pass to Saquon Barkley. They settled on a 51-yard field goal attempt that Gano nailed through the uprights.

For the first time of the night, the Martindale defense forced a three-and-out against the DAL offense that was missing their starting quarterback, left tackle, left guard, two receivers, and tight end. More Jones scrambling and more creative play design landed NYG in DAL territory. Desperately in need of an explosive play, Barkley broke off an incredible 36-yard run that gave NYG their first and only touchdown of the night. It also gave NYG their first and only lead of the night.

It was time for Martindale and the NYG defense to contribute their side of winning football. They had played solidly to this point with minor hiccups here and there. Here we were in the back half of the third quarter and DAL had just 6 points and hadn’t scored a touchdown. DAL faced almost no resistance as they put together a nine-play drive, all of which gained yards. Ezekiel Elliott scored a one-yard touchdown (his 10th in 11 games vs NYG) to tie the game up at 13 as the fourth quarter began. NYG’s next drive stalled at midfield and DAL scored their second touchdown in as many drives via a one-handed catch by CeeDee Lamb. In a matter of nine minutes of game clock, the game went from 13-6 NYG to 20-13 DAL.

DAL padded their lead to ten via a 44-yard field goal with just over six minutes remaining. NYG was forced into pass-only situations as they needed chunk gains to have a shot at tying it up before the end of regulation. Jones faced more pressure than ever before in his career, and that is saying a lot. Somehow, they managed to get into field-goal range (with the help of a facemask penalty called on corner Kelvin Joseph) and Gano came through again on a 51-yarder.

Down seven, NYG was now in the phase of the game where they had to get a stop and call a timeout. Thankfully a bonehead play by the DAL offense, a failed third-down conversion that ended with tight end Jake Ferguson going out of bounds, stopped the clock at 1:52 as NYG was without a timeout. NYG had one more shot, albeit starting from their own 9-yard line. On the fourth play, after an Evan Neal false start, Jones was intercepted by 2021 All-Pro corner Trevon Diggs (who dropped an earlier INT) after David Sills fell out of his break. To add insult to injury, Sterling Shepard went down with a non-contact lower body injury and was carted off the field.

NYG loses, 23-16.

QUARTERBACK

-Daniel Jones: 20/37 – 196 yards / 0 TD – 1 INT / 57.9 RAT

Jones also added 79 yards on just 9 carries (8.8 per). He was under duress the entire night against a formidable DAL pass rush and behind a leaky offensive line, especially the right side. It can be very hard to accurately evaluate a performance like this one. Listen to any quarterback talk about Jones and they will tell you it is almost impossible to play a normal version of the position in that kind of environment. If anything, I actually put this game in the “positive pile” when thinking about where his status will reside in January. Jones made a few tough throws, he had receivers drop multiple balls, and the DAL secondary was on point. Jones’ scrambling was 90% of the Giants offensive success. His accuracy was there, the juice on the ball was there, and his decision-making was there. Unfortunately, he is throwing to JV receivers behind a freshman-team offensive line.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 14 att – 81 yards – 1 TD / 4 rec – 45 yards

18 touches for the team’s best player by a country mile, in a tight game where NYG had a second-half lead and where the passing game simply was not working. More on that awful note down below. Barkley’s touchdown run was about as nice a play as you are going to see in this league. The vision, the quick adjustment, the jump cut, and the breakaway speed can be such a downright lethal combination. If NYG wants their best shot at winning games, his touches need to be north of 20 at a bare minimum week in, week out and probably closer to 30. There is no debating it. He is ready and he is the one guy who changes the feeling of the entire offense when he gets the ball.

-Matt Breida has one carry for 3 yards on a 3rd-and-1 conversion. He did not see a ton of action but did allow 2 pressures in the fourth quarter in a pass protection role. The coaching staff needs to keep that weakness in his game in mind moving forward when Barkley comes off the field.

WIDE RECEIVER

-I am going to start it off with Sterling Shepard. The 7th-year veteran led the team with 5 catches and 49 yards in what I expect to be his final game in a Giants uniform. He tore his ACL simply jogging up the field on the final offensive play of the game. Not sure if I have ever seen anything like that before. No cutting. No contact. No sudden burst. Just a light jog and he went down. I don’t want to kick the 29-year old while he’s down, but it was a poor night for a guy who is viewed as a leader on the ship that is being turned around. He had two drops and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct that led to a 15-yard swing in field position in the second half of a tie game. Fortunately for him, Barkley worked his magic and scored the team’s lone touchdown a few plays later. It was a bonehead mistake by a player that knows better. I like what Shepard had brought to the field and locker room over the years and I loved him out of Oklahoma in 2016. But he never quite got over the hump we were hoping he would. Sad to see him go out that way.

-Richie James and David Sills, starting receivers on an NFL football team, combined for 6 receptions for 56 yards. James also gained 4 yards on a carry. I don’t have much to report here. They were man-handled in coverage. The DAL secondary is better than most people know and these two just had no business trying to separate from them.

-Earlier in the week, Kenny Golladay (the highest paid player on the team) said, “I should be playing regardless.” I thought to myself and tweeted out, “Regardless of what?” Regardless of not being able to get open? Regardless of running routes like he has cinderblocks tied to his ankles? Regardless of last being a factor in this league three years ago? He had two shots at coming up with a big play in this game. He got his hands on the ball both times and both times the ball hit the ground. The second time, a fourth-quarter blatant drop was about as bad as you are going to see at the worst possible time. Regardless of anything, Golladay should continue to be forced to prove he deserves playing time. Nothing is free, go earn it.

TIGHT END

-Daniel Bellinger caught 4 passes for 40 yards. He was a key focal point early in the game, going 3 rec / 34 yards in the first half. I was encouraged by his ball skills and quickness turning up the field. He has a sudden element to his game with the ball in his hands. Paired with his size and we are looking at someone who can turn into a focal point of the passing game soon. His blocking is still a work in progress. He gets in position, but the staying power isn’t there yet. Another thing he absolutely needs to improve is his chip blocking. He whiffed or made minimal impact several times and it hurt the pass protection in a big way.

-Chris Myarick allowed a sack and 2 pressures. He was brought into the game to help with pass protection, but did the opposite. Very poor showing for a guy who makes zero impact as a playmaker.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Evan Neal had a rookie performance similar to what we saw out of Andrew Thomas on October 22, 2020 (Thomas’ rookie year). Neal ended this one with 3 sacks, 3 pressures, 1 false start, and a half-TFL. He was overmatched, plain and simple. The game looks a bit too fast for Neal right now. He was getting beat to his outside over and over, as that right foot just wasn’t getting off the ground and up the edge. He had a productive night in the running game and there were some solid recovery plays, but there is no disputing the fact he got crushed. These are called growing pains. And the thing I will be looking for will be his response in the coming weeks.

-Speaking of Thomas, he was near-perfect again. I noted just one pressure and that is hard to believe considering how much Jones was running away from blue jerseys all night. His run blocking was dominant as well. Just tremendous movement off the ball. The combination of twitch and power he plays with reminds me a lot of a young Tyron Smith.

-The interior was torched all night. Again, Jones just had no pocket to step up into, and because of that, he needed to evade laterally. When that happens, all hell breaks loose in pass protection. The lack of stability up front compounds the issue. Mark Glowinksi allowed 4 pressures. Ben Bredeson allowed 1 pressure and had a holding penalty cancelled by an intentional-grounding throw by Jones. He was also on the losing end of many battles in the running game. And Jon Feliciano allowed a TFL, a pressure, and was flagged for illegally blocking downfield on a 14-yard gain by Barkley. He also had a sack cancelled by a DAL penalty in the defensive backfield. Awful performance by this trio, just awful. Bredeson also was at fault for the blocked field goal in the first quarter.

EDGE

-The much anticipated return and debut of #5 overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux was a bit scaled back as they restricted his playing time due to the knee. It was an underwhelming performance. He had 1 pass break up and a pressure (unblocked). He also lost the edge on two DAL runs to the outside. Thibodeaux looked hesitant. He didn’t have a power game on contact and the get off rivaled what we see out of Oshane Ximines.

-Azeez Ojulari made his 2022 debut a well. He was just as quiet, finishing with just 1 tackle and was shut out as a pass rusher in his 30 snaps. Ximines had 2 pressures (1 from the outside and 1 from the inside) while Jihad Ward had 6 tackles along with a pass break up.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Leonard Williams missing a game due to injury for the first time in his career was deeply felt along the front. NYG allowed 178 yards on 28 carries to the Dallas dual-threat backfield and there was just one pressure by the group that included a lineman actually beating a blocker. That was by Dexter Lawrence, who also added 5 tackles and was a force inside. The likes of Nick Williams, Justin Ellis, and Henry Mondeaux lacked gap integrity for most of the night. They failed to come up big in key short yardage situations and the linebackers behind them just could not make up for it.

-D.J. Davidson played 12 snaps, one of which he jumped offsides on a 3rd-and-1.

LINEBACKER

-We saw a little more linebacker action against the run-heavy attack. Micah McFadden and Austin Calitro saw 30 and 13 snaps, respectively. The former, McFadden, had 3 tackles and 2 pressures, one of which he was untouched. He missed one tackle. McFadden has some all-or-nothing to his game. He is a bit of a risk taker and while I think that fits in well with this defense, I’m not sure his pure athleticism and recovery speed can handle that style play.

-Tae Crowder had 5 tackles and led the team with 4 missed tackles, a horrible number for a number one inside linebacker in a game where the defense was trounced in the running game. He showed poor effort on the Elliot touchdown where he didn’t even ponder trying to wrap up one of the best tackle-breakers in the league. He just ran into him and hoped it would work. Poor game by him.

CORNERBACK

-After an impressive first 2 weeks, we saw the ugly in Adoree’ Jackson. He was beat several times, including once for a touchdown that, in all honesty, he couldn’t do anything about as it was a brilliant throw and catch. But besides that, he was beat downfield by Lamb, allowed 7 catches total, and missed a tackle.

-Cor’Dale Flott did get the starting nod but I don’t think the staff trusts him yet, not for 60 minutes anyway. Fabian Moreau out-snapped him 39 to 19. Flott had a bad missed tackle and I saw more contact-based issues in coverage. He doesn’t look ready for the strength and power of the NFL game. His contact is light and easy to get by.

-Darnay Holmes had a quiet game. He wasn’t challenged much and had just one tackle. He was beat twice in the running game where he had outside responsibility. He also got away with two separate, blatant defensive-holding penalties as he continues to play too dependently on his hands.

SAFETY

-Xavier McKinney was the one star of the game defensively. He had impressive back-to-back plays where he recorded a TFL (the only one of the game for NYG) and then broke up a deep ball to CeeDee Lamb where he ran with him step for step and tracked the pass exceptionally well.

-Julian Love led the team with 14 tackles and added a pressure. The jack-of-all-trades didn’t miss one tackle and was often the last line of defense against an offense that could have easily had a few more explosive plays. Dane Belton saw just 11 snaps and looked overwhelmed in coverage a couple times. The game is moving a bit too fast for him right now.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano 3/4 (Made 42, 51, 51, had one blocked)
-P Jamie Gillian: 3 punts / 45.0 avg – 35.7 net

3 STUDS

-S Xavier McKinney, OT Andrew Thomas, RB Saquon Barkley

3 DUDS

-OT Evan Neal, WR Sterling Shepard, LB Tae Crowder

3 THOUGHTS ON DAL

1. Say what you want about a division rival and the shortcomings of Mike McCarthy and the Super Bowl drought. This team deserves a ton of respect for how well they’ve played without their starting quarterback, multiple pieces along the OL after losing 2 starters to free agency, and three main targets in the passing game. This is a sign of a winning team. They find ways to win, even though they’re missing a chunk of strong personnel, rather than just making a ton of excuses and complaints.

2. How far can DAL go? Let’s assume they eventually get their OL back together later in the year when Smith is ready. Let’s assume they get the likes of Michael Gallup, James Washington, and Dalton Schultz back in the next month. And let’s assume they get full-strength Dak Prescott back before Halloween. We have every reason to believe they will contend not only for the division, but the conference. Their defense has the upside of being special and if that offense can elevate their game just one or two levels, they have the goods.

3. How did DAL get here? Did you see the graphic that ESPN put up? They lead the NFL in players on the current roster that they drafted. I noticed this when maintaining their depth chart for Ourlads. While the number can be fluid based on practice squad / IR spots – I have 37 out of 53 players taken in the draft by this team. You can add in a few undrafted free agents as well. For reference, 24 of the currents Giants 53 were drafted (8 of those were from this past year alone). Jerry Jones is on the wrong end of jokes sometimes (he got fleeced in the Amari Cooper trade) but there is no disputing the fact this team knows how to draft. I’ve felt this way since I started really tracking the draft deeply in 2004.

NYG THOUGHTS

1. I took this game as a reminder. A reminder that the team itself is not very good and they’re not ready for a long winning streak. They are competitive and I do think they’re heading in the right direction. I don’t say that with a moral victory kind of tone. I firmly believe it is the truth. The change can be felt and they’re on the move upward. But bad teams find ways to lose games. In the fourth quarter, NYG was down 20-13. On 2nd-and-8, Shepard drops a ball that would have been a deep completion. Then they get flagged for a delay-of-game penalty. Then Golladay drops a perfectly placed ball on 3rd-and-13 that had a shot at gaining the first down. That is the kind of drive at the most important point of game that losing teams put together. It’s not completely out of their system yet.

2. We can continue to harp on the shortcomings of the offense. That is fair. But I am more concerned with the defense. After keeping DAL down for most of the game with some help from the refs, Martindale’s defense allowed 17 points on just over 9 minutes of game clock on three straight drives when the team needed them most. 10 guys were on the field for the Elliott touchdown (inexcusable by both players and coaches). They didn’t record one sack. They barely even touched Rush against a beat-up OL. They were tossed around in the running game. They forced zero turnovers. And DAL gained more yards in this game than the previous two respectively. You may not see it by looking at points allowed, but this was a horrific defensive performance as a result of being outplayed and out-coached.

3. What can we hope to see from this team moving forward? They have a third-straight home game coming up and it is against the Bears, a team I projected to finish with one of the worst three records in football. Both of their wins were unimpressive and their loss in Green Bay Week 2 was about as ugly as you will see in today’s NFL. This is a bad football team and especially bad on offense. The offensive line, the quarterback, the pass catchers. I am looking forward to how this regime bounces back from a loss, something we haven’t seen yet. I hope this offensive coaching staff realizes that tight games need to center around Barkley. He is way too good, and the rest of the skill positions are way too bad for him not be fed the ball over and over. I also believe this OL can perform better with that approach as well.

Sep 272022
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (September 26, 2022)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

DALLAS COWBOYS 23 – NEW YORK GIANTS 16…
The New York Giants lost their first game of the 2022 season by falling 23-16 to the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants are now 2-1. The Cowboys have defeated the Giants 10 times in the last 11 meetings between these two teams.

The overall team stats were not lopsided. Dallas held advantages in firsts downs (23 to 22), total net yards (391 to 336), net yards rushing (176 to 167), net yards passing (215 to 169), and time of possession (32:42 to 27:18). There was only one turnover in the game and it came on New York’s final possession. Both teams struggled on 3rd down, but the Cowboys converted on a key 4th-down conversion attempt in the 4th quarter.

The bulk of the 1st quarter was taken up by two Dallas drives and one by New York. The Cowboys ran five plays and punted on their initial possession. The Giants responded with an 11-play, 54-yard drive, but had a 47-yard field goal attempt blocked by Dallas. The Cowboys then drove 55 yards in 10 plays to set up a successful 26-yard field goal that gave them a 3-0 lead with just over two minutes left in the quarter.

New York tied the game up 3-3 on their second possession of the game, another time-consuming drive that picked up 51 yards in 14 plays and set up place kicker Graham Gano for a successful 42-yard field goal. Unfortunately for the Giants, running back Tony Pollard broke off a 46-yard run on the first play of the ensuing Cowboys’ possession. The defense held inside the red zone to force another field goal. Cowboys 6 – Giants 3.

Neither team scored for the remainder of the first half. The Giants could not pick up a first down and punted. The Cowboys picked up two first downs and punted. The Giants gained 33 yards, but turned the ball over on downs on 4th-and-10 at the Cowboys’ 47-yard line with eight seconds left. Dallas then attempted a 59-yard field that was no good.

The Giants received the ball to start the second half and proceeded to immediately tie the game up at 6-6 after driving 42 yards in 10 plays. Gano kicked a 51-yard field goal. After a three-and-out by the Cowboys, the Giants maintained momentum with their only touchdown drive of the night. On the sixth play of the 77-yard possession, running back Saquon Barkley broke off a 36-yard cutback run that gave New York a 13-6 advantage with 5:31 left in the 3rd quarter.

The Cowboys immediately responded with their first touchdown drive of the night, marching 75 yards in 9 plays with running back Ezekiel Elliott scoring from one yard out on 3rd-and-goal. The game was now tied at 13-13 near the end of the quarter.

New York reached midfield but was forced to punt. Starting at their own 11-yard line, Dallas began an 11-play, 89-yard drive that put them ahead for good. The key play was a 4-yard pass completion on 4th-and-4 from the Giants’ 41-yard line. Three plays later, quarterback Cooper Rush found wide receiver CeeDee Lamb for the 1-yard score and a 20-13 advantage.

The Giants could not gain a first down and punted again. The Cowboys returned the kick 28 yards to the New York 35-yard line. They only needed nine yards to set up a successful 44-yard field goal. With just under six minutes to play, the Cowboys were up by 10 points, 23-13.

Aided by a face-mask penalty on the Cowboys, the Giants reached the Dallas 22-yard line before an intentional grounding penalty pushed New York back. Gano kicked a 51-yard field goal with 3:37 left, making the score 23-16.

The Cowboys gained one first down and punted. The Giants had the ball with 1:45 left on the clock, but they were starting from their own 9-yard line with no timeouts. On 2nd-and-15 from the 16-yard line, quarterback Daniel Jones’ pass for wide receiver David Sills was intercepted when Sills fell down. Making matters worse is that wide receiver Sterling Shepard appeared to suffer a serious, non-contact knee injury on this play. He had to be carted off the field. Rush then knelt on the ball to end the game.

Jones finished the night 2o-of-37 for 196 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. Jones was sacked five times, officially hit 12 times, and was victimized by a number of dropped passes. No Giants’ player had more than 49 yards receiving. Barkley carried the ball 14 times for 81 yards and one score that gained almost half of his yardage total.

New York’s defense did not accrue a sack or turnover. The Dallas quarterback was only hit twice and the Giants only were credited with one tackle for a loss.

Video highlights are available on NFL.com.

ROSTER MOVES, PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
On Monday, the Giants activated DL Henry Mondeaux and CB Fabian Moreau from the Practice Squad to the 53-man roster.

Inactive for the game were WR Kadarius Toney (hamstring), WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee), DL Leonard Williams (knee), CAaron Robinson (appendix), CB Nick McCloud (hamstring), CB Justin Layne (concussion), and OLB Tomon Fox.

WR Sterling Shepard injured his left knee on last offensive play of the night for the Giants. He had to be carted off of the field.

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Brian Daboll will address the media by conference call on Tuesday.

Sep 242022
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (September 18, 2022)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

THE STORYLINE:
There has never been a so consistently over-hyped NFL team as the Dallas Cowboys. Year after year, the Cowboys receive an inordinate amount of media attention. It’s really quite comical. In the last quarter century, the Cowboys have won only three playoff games. Even the times when the team has excelled in the regular season (2007 and 2016 for example), they were one-and-done in the playoffs. 2021 was likely another tease for their fan base. The Cowboys don’t have the feel of a legitimate contender and are heading towards their third decade of futility.

That’s what makes the New York Giants’ recent impotence against the Cowboys (and Eagles, but that’s for a later preview) so frustrating. The Cowboys undoubtedly were a better team in recent years, but the Giants have been getting bitch-slapped by an overrated team in what has been a mediocre division for years. Want to know why the Giants keep firing general managers and head coaches? It’s because they haven’t been competitive in their own division. I hate to keep bringing it up, but the Cowboys have won nine of the last 10 games against the Giants. That’s not a rivalry; it’s a joke.

Nothing will really change with this team until it starts beating the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee – out)
  • WR Kadarius Toney (hamstring – doubtful)
  • OC Jon Feliciano (shin – probable)
  • DL Leonard Williams (knee – doubtful)
  • OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee – questionable)
  • OLB Azeez Ojulari (calf – questionable)
  • CB Aaron Robinson (appendix – out)
  • CB Nick McCloud (hamstring – out)
  • CB Justin Layne (concussion – out)
  • Dane Belton (clavicle – probable)
  • S Jason Pinnock (shoulder – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
I hate to deal in hyperbole, but to date, this may be the most important game Daniel Jones will play in Giants’ uniform. For one, as we all know, this is THE make-or-break season for Jones. His contract is up after this year and the team may simply let him walk. But specific to this game, what if Dallas Cowboys’ back-up quarterback Cooper Rush out-plays Jones on a super-hyped Monday night game on the team’s home turf? See where I’m going with this? This game may very well come down to quarterback play and the quarterback who performs better. If the Giants (and Jones) get embarrassed by the Cowboys again, I’m not sure Jones will ever get the fan base back on his side.

Is this fair to Jones? Yes and no. Yes, because Jones clearly still has significant warts to his game. Aside from a couple of games early in his career, there has been no “wow” factor with him. More than ever, it’s a quarterback-driven league and it’s hard to see Jones ever carrying a team to the promised land. On the other hand, it’s not completely fair because Jones is on his third head coach and fourth offensive coordinator since being drafted. That’s absurd. Whether fans want to admit it or not, there is a dramatic learning curve every time you change offensive system. Sterling Shepard admitted this week that receivers are still making too many mistakes in their routes. That happens to every team that changes coaches. It’s why teams with established coaching staffs and systems have an inherent advantage over opponents who do not.

To state the obvious, the New York offense hasn’t lit the world on fire the first two weeks. The offensive line has been up and down. Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney have been still missing in action, and while Jones has been good enough to help pull out two close victories, he has also been fortunate that mistakes didn’t turn those games into painful losses. The Giants now will be facing their third tough defense in a row, a defense that presented problems for Tom Brady and Joe Burrow.

The Cowboys’ defense is the strength of their team and is coached by Dan Quinn, who the Giants interviewed as a head coaching candidate. They are led by all-world linebacker Micah Parsons, who is beating his opponent on pass rush opportunities more than 50 percent of the time. That’s rare territory folks. Quinn lines Parsons (who is listed as “questionable” with an illness) up all over the field and he can beat opponents with power, quickness, and technique. DeMarcus Lawrence is off to a slow start, but he has given the Giants issues in recent years. Both young offensive tackles will be challenged by Parsons and Lawrence on the edge, plus the struggling interior of the New York offensive line will have to deal with Parsons coming up the middle. Edge rusher Dorance Armstrong also has two sacks in two games. In obvious pass-rushing situations, the Cowboys will use multiple edge rushers in special pass-rush packages (similar to what Steve Spagnuolo used to do with his “Nascar” defense). 

The Dallas secondary is led by interception-magnet cornerback Trevon Diggs (2 interceptions against the Giants in 2021). His fellow corner is Anthony Brown (1 interception against the Giants returned for a touchdown in 2021). The 2021 Dallas defense thrived off of take-aways. They only have one so far this year, but obviously a key for Jones and the rest of the New York offense is not to turn the ball over against this group. Dallas prefers to have their opponents drive the field in small chunks rather than give up the big play. They count on their opponent to make the stupid mistake such as a turnover, sack, or penalty.

Until the New York offensive line settles down more in pass protection, the strategy is obvious. Run the ball with your best player. If the Giants want to keep Parsons and company off of Daniel Jones’ back, and prevent those killer mistakes such as turnovers and sacks, run the ball. This proved harder last week against the Panthers than it did in Week 1 against the Titans. But New York needs to keep plugging away. Be the more physical team. Wear down a more undersized defensive front. It won’t be conducive to scoring a lot of points, but it will keep mistakes to a minimum and pay greater dividends later in the contest.

I will also throw this out there. Brian Daboll embarrassed Kenny Golladay last week. If Golladay has any pride, plus any talent left in the tank, it should show up this week. I would not be surprised if we saw a big game from Kenny.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The beauty of Wink Martindale is the opponent never really knows what they are going to get. He changes things up each week, sometimes out of necessity (injuries), but mostly because that is who he is as a defensive coordinator. If you choose to listen, Martindale keeps telling you, “It’s a position-less defense… And you’ve already seen two different defenses… We got to reap the rewards on Sunday because we gave Carolina a different look than what they’ve seen.”

The issue for the Giants in this game is the injury situation. Yes, edge rushers Azeez Ojulari and Kayvon Thibodeaux will likely play. But both have missed most of the summer with injuries and will be rusty. The missed time has to affect the rookie Thibodeaux in particular. Starting corner Aaron Robinson is out, and that’s not ideal given that the Cowboys could be getting back wide receiver Michael Gallup this week (he’s listed as “questionable”). Worse, arguably the team’s best defensive player, Leonard Williams, is out. That will affect both the run defense and pass rush.

The Cowboys’ offensive line isn’t the team strength it used to be. Right guard Zack Martin is still one of the best in the business. The left tackle is rookie Tyler Smith and right tackle Terrence Steele is more of swingman that ideal starter. Expect both to be tested by the Giants’ edge players. The issue is inside. Dexter Lawrence is off to hot start. But with Williams out, the team will have to rely on reserves and possibly undersized Jihad Ward to stop a two-headed running game in Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. You can’t rush the passer if you don’t stop the run, and Wink is going to have to scheme his best to control the Dallas ground game. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with, more linebackers like he played in Week 1 or more defensive backs like he did in Week 2. The former seems more obvious, but Wink isn’t always obvious.

Which brings us to back-up Cooper Rush, who is subbing for the injured Dak Prescott, and the passing game. Personally, I didn’t see a huge drop-off from Prescott to Rush. And we know the NYG history against back-up quarterbacks. The Giants had better not take Rush too lightly. As mentioned, Gallup may return this week from an ACL injury. The big dog right now is CeeDee Lamb, who can play outside or in the slot and present match-up issues. Noah Brown is a bigger receiver who is surprisingly leading Dallas in receptions as teams pay more attention to Lamb. Gallup could take pressure off of Lamb, however. Tight end Dalton Schultz is dealing with a knee injury and might not play (he’s listed as “questionable”). If he doesn’t, the Cowboys will have to rely on inexperienced back-ups. That said, Dallas tight ends have a history of tormenting the Giants.

The game plan is fairly obvious on this side of the ball as well. Even when Prescott is in the line-up, the Cowboys are more of a run-first team. This is especially true now with the back-up playing. Stop the run. Get the Cowboys in uncomfortable long yardage situations and test the tackles on the pass rush. Focus your coverage on Lamb and make Rush beat you.

I’ll finish on this note… the Giants are due for some picks.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
The Giants’ special teams are coming off a strong game. The team will need more of the same in what is likely to be a tight defensive game. The diminutive KaVontae Turpin is very dangerous on returns. He scored on a kickoff and punt return in the same preseason game. Thomas McGaughey admitted this week that while he loves Jamie Gillan’s leg strength, he is still working on his control. The Giants need to be careful here.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale on QB Cooper Rush:I see a guy that’s a starting quarterback in this league. Honestly, I do… He’s got two career starts, but he’s also 2-0 with those career starts. So, this guy’s a proven winner… He’s a smooth operator back there, and he doesn’t get rattled.

THE FINAL WORD:
Both teams play good defense. Both teams will want to run the ball. Usually in these types of contests, quarterback play, special teams, and which team makes the fewest mistakes will be the deciding factors. This is a really big moment for Jones. The entire country will be watching.

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.