Nov 052017

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The New York Giants were obliterated by the Los Angels Rams on Sunday, losing 51 to 17 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With the loss, the Giants fell to 1-7 on the season.

“The team didn’t quit today,” said Head Coach Ben McAdoo after the game. “They were playing hard.”

The game represented the Giants’ worst home defeat since losing by 34 points to the Green Bay Packers in 1998. The 51 points allowed were also the most points the Giants have allowed at home since 1964.

The game started off on a rocky note for the Giants. New York received the ball to start the game, drove into Los Angeles territory, but on 3rd-and-9 from the Rams’ 45-yard line, quarterback Eli Manning was sacked and he fumbled the ball away to the Rams. Running back Todd Gurley then gained 36 yards on his first carry and nine yards on his second carry down to the Giants 7-yard line. On 3rd-and-2, quarterback Jared Goff found tight end Tyler Higbee for an 8-yard score.

To New York’s credit, the offense immediately responded with an impressive 14-play, 67-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Manning to wide receiver Tavarres King. The Giants were 4-of-4 on 3rd-down conversion attempts on this drive.

After that 1st-quarter possession, however, the roof collapsed.

The Rams responded to the Giants’ sole touchdown drive of the game with a 9-play, 66-yard effort that ended with a 27-yard field goal as the Rams regained the lead 10-7. Four plays later, the Giants turned the football over again when running back Wayne Gallman fumbled the ball away at midfield. The back-breaker came next. Facing 3rd-and-33, the Rams scored off a short screen pass that went for 52 yards and the touchdown. The Rams were now up 17-7. After a three-and-out by the Giants, the Rams took control of the game with a 67-yard deep strike from Goff to wideout Sammy Watkins. Rams 24 – Giants -7.

The Giants did chip into that lead on their following possession by picking up 44 yards in eight plays to set up a successful 50-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas. And the Giants’ defense finally forced the Rams to punt on their ensuing drive. But the Giants turned the ball over again when Manning’s pass intended for wide receiver Roger Lewis was intercepted at the Giants’ 30-yard line. The Rams did not pick up a first down but extended their lead with a 46-yard field goal. The Giants had a chance to regain those points right before halftime, but Rosas missed a 45-yard field goal as time expired.

At the half, the Rams led 27-10. When asked what he said to the team at halftime, McAdoo responded, “Um.”

If the first half was bad for the Giants, the second half was worse. The Rams scored touchdowns on their first three possessions of the second half, including drives of 75, 45, and 18 yards. On the latter two drives, the Rams benefited from short fields due to a 30-yard punt return and a blocked punt. The Giants’ defense only forced one other punt in the game and also allowed another field goal drive.

Meanwhile the Giants offense in the second half consisted of three punts, the blocked punt, and a garbage-time touchdown drive in the 4th quarter when the Giants were trailing 48-10.

Offensively, the Giants generated 111 net rushing yards and 208 net passing yards. Manning, who was pulled late in the game for Geno Smith, finished 20-of-36 for 220 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. He also fumbled the ball away once. His leading targets were wide receiver Sterling Shepard (5 catches for 70 yards) and tight end Evan Engram (4 catches for 70 yards and a touchdown). Running back Orleans Darkwa was the leading rusher with 16 carries for 71 yards.

Defensively, the Giants only forced two punts, did not sack the quarterback, created no turnovers, and allowed 473 total net yards and six touchdowns.

Video lowlights are available at

Inactive for the game were offensive lineman Justin Pugh (back), defensive end Olivier Vernon (ankle), defensive end Kerry Wynn (knee), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (neck), linebacker B.J. Goodson (ankle), cornerback Donte Deayon (ankle), and quarterback Davis Webb.

Linebacker Keenan Robinson suffered a quad injury during the game.

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

The Giants fell to 1-7 overall and 0-4 at home, the first time they have had each of those records since 1980.

A 37-yard completion to Sterling Shepard with just over 10 minutes remaining lifted Manning over the 50,000-yard mark for his career. He is the seventh player in NFL history to throw for more than 50,000 yards. The others are Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Dan Marino and John Elway. Manning finished the game with 50,034 yards. He is 1,441 yards behind Elway, who is sixth on the NFL’s career list.

Head Coach Ben McAdoo will address the media by conference call Monday afternoon.

Nov 032017
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, New York Giants (October 23, 2016)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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Game Preview: Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants, November 5, 2017

While my last preview was well received by some, others correctly pointed to the fact that it really wasn’t a “game preview” about the upcoming opponent. To be honest, given the abyss the Giants find themselves in, I don’t really see the point of doing traditional game previews other than the impulse to routinely go through the motions. So right or wrong, I intend to use this spot to provide a weekly “state of the Giants” article as we move closer and closer to incredibly important January decisions to be made by the Mara and Tisch families.

The sense of “blah-ness” among New York Giants fans (1-6 record) and the NFL in general (empty stadiums, declining ratings, injured stars) is palpable. I’ve never seen anything like this. There have been periods in recent years where the NYG fan base felt the Giants were on the wrong track and far away from a championship, including ironically, a couple of times before the Giants last two Super Bowl wins. But even during these dark periods, the fans cared. They screamed, hollered, bitched. Something has changed and I can’t really put my finger on it yet.

Unfortunately, the Giants too appear to simply be going through the motions. No one seems particularly angry or upset… owners, team management, coaches, players. I don’t really know what I want them to do, but Jerry Reese’s press conference seemed more-of-the-same bullshit as does McAdoo’s repeated claims that “we are practicing well” and “we are playing hard.” Again, this isn’t a roster filled with Dave Browns and Jeremy Lincolns. The 2017 New York Giants are not supposed to be 1-6. They were supposed to be a contender. And regardless of what others are claiming, players don’t appear to be afraid of Coach McAdoo, with two Pro Bowl corners simply not showing up to work. And as I predicted, the injury list is growing and players don’t appear to be returning very quickly. We’ve seen this before (see Jim Fassel’s last year).

When things don’t go well, the immediate fan reaction is to call for change. Sometimes that is a mistake. And I’ve been guilty of that as well. I remember saying the Giants were going nowhere with Tom Coughlin in 2006. Imagine if the Giants had fired him then? Same with Bill Parcells after his disastrous 1983 season. On the other hand, the Giants clearly stayed with Dan Reeves a year too long. My point? How much of a problem is Ben McAdoo and his staff? Is it premature to fire him? Or is sticking with him for another year, while making cosmetic changes to the assistant staff, doubling down on a bad decision to promote him to head coach in the first place?

Then there is Jerry Reese. Right now, Reese and his staff are entering the final stages of scouting 2018 NFL Draft prospects. Reports are being written and analyzed. Do you fire Reese in January when the bowl games are wrapping up? Same with the scouts? Do the Giants find a sacrificial lamb (Marc Ross)? Who replaces them and what material do they use to make draft-day decisions a few months later? But again, is doing nothing doubling down on a structure that isn’t working?

Complicated business. Monumental decisions.


  • RB Paul Perkins (ribs – probable)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (ankle – probable)
  • OC Weston Richburg (concussion – out)
  • OL Justin Pugh (back – out)
  • DE Olivier Vernon (ankle – out)
  • DE Kerry Wynn (knee – out)
  • DT Robert Thomas (calf – probable)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas (neck – out)
  • LB B.J. Goodson (ankle – out)
  • LB Calvin Munson (quad – probable)
  • CB Donte Deayon (ankle – questionable)
  • S Nat Berhe (calf – probable)

Sometimes we lose sight of the forest through the trees. When Tom Coughlin hired Ben McAdoo as offensive coordinator in 2014, I was intrigued to see the New York Giants employ the West Coast Offense and join the ranks those teams that had high-powered passing offenses. Plus, it was becoming obvious that Eli Manning was suffering in a 5- and 7-step drop passing offense behind an offensive line that could not protect him. When Kevin Gilbride was “fired”, the overwhelming reaction on BBI was one of relief. And McAdoo’s early impact on Manning was very positive. Manning enjoyed a career renaissance as he approached his mid-30s.

Now for my side tangent. With my son entering high school and playing in the marching band, I have been attending quite a few Friday night high school games this year. Our local team started off 5-0, using a pistol-type, pass-heavy offense with a variety of formations and personnel groupings. The coach is very unconventional, taking chances I cringe at (i.e., going for it on 4th-and-5 on their side of the field with a 6-point lead). “Maybe this is the direction the league really is going,” I thought. “More like the Arena League and less traditional.” That all changed in Week 6 and our team’s home-coming game. My folks were in town and I said, “Wait to you see how good our 5-0 team is!”

The first thing I noticed was how big the linemen were on the opposing team. “Holy crap, those guys look like college players.” (When I got home that night, I checked their roster, and yup, their linemen were all in the 6’3”, 260lb-range). They just abused our 5-0 team up front. It was smash-mouth personified. They ran, ran, ran and our team couldn’t stop it. And it got worse as the game went on. They hung 50 points on us and had they not called off the dogs in the 4th quarter, it could have been 70. On the other side of the ball, we couldn’t run and became completely one dimensional. Our only points came on a kick return. The other team was just bigger, tougher, more physical, and nastier. We never had a chance.

My point is we sometimes get caught up in the jazzier aspects of the game… the one-handed catches, the 8-yard slant pass that goes for a 70-yard touchdown. But no matter how much the game changes, the game really is still won or lost in the trenches. Yes, you need a good quarterback. Yes, you need to be able to pass the ball in 2017. But if you can’t run the football, you are a finesse team. And the Giants have been a finesse team for far too long. That’s where the offensive inconsistency, including short-yardage and red-zone issues come from. Nothing is really going to change with the Giants until they become a physical offensive football team again.

As for this week’s game, Justin Pugh being out complicates issues on the offensive line. Bobby Hart, who has struggled mightily this year, will regain his starting job at right tackle. John Jerry and D.J. Fluker will be the guards. Weston Richburg has now been absent for over a month. And Pugh is hurt yet another year. The Giants offensive line is even more of a mess than it was a year ago. How is that possible?

It will also be interesting to see how effective or ineffective Sterling Shepard will be with no Odell Beckham on the field.

I know I’ve sounded very critical of the defense this year. Yes, I hold them to a higher standard than the offense because a greater investment has been recently spent on that side of the ball. Coming into 2017, we all knew the Giants still had issues on the offensive line and potentially at running back. But most of us figured the defense would pick up where they left off. They didn’t. Worse, the minor mutinies have been on that side of the ball. Ben McAdoo is receiving a lot of justified criticism for players not respecting him, but what about Steve Spagnuolo? What does it say about him that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins felt they could just walk out like that? And very troubling was this line from ESPN writer Jordan Raanan earlier this week:

“Players who spoke to ESPN about the situation have offered up explanations ranging from some players not caring anymore now that the season is lost to a lack of overall respect for McAdoo and some of his coaching staff, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.”

Is it merely a coincidence that the suspensions involved two Pro Bowl players in the defensive backfield? Perhaps. But something smells fishy. And this bears watching – especially by those who think Steve Spagnuolo might be a viable candidate to replace McAdoo.

What I will be looking at moving forward is how many defensive players are skipping games with injuries and how hard are these guys still playing in the 4th quarter of games, regardless of the score. Note that Olivier Vernon – who had never missed a game before this year – has now been out for over a month. His replacement – Kerry Wynn – is now out too. So are two of the starting linebackers. It’s disconcerting that B.J. Goodson keeps getting hurt. If you can’t rely on your middle linebacker to be there every week, you need a new middle linebacker.

Regardless of what transpires in January, Tom Quinn must go.

Head Coach Ben McAdoo on if a good week of practice should translate to good football during games: “Absolutely.”

Coach McAdoo on why that has not happened: “That’s what we’re trying to figure out.”

The Giants should be 1-7 by 4:15PM on Sunday.

Oct 252016
Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants (October 23, 2016)

Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants 17 – Los Angeles Rams 10


This was a dangerous game for the New York Giants given the distraction and fatigue of traveling to London combined with the media frenzy surrounding Josh Brown. Stating the obvious, this was not a “fun” week for the entire franchise.

The good news is the Giants won a game that they desperately needed to win. By improving their record to 4-3, New York remains very much in the hunt for a playoff spot. And the team now has two weeks to get healthy and concentrate on fixing those areas where it is struggling. The defense is finally starting to create turnovers and accrue sacks.

The bad news is the offense seems stuck in neutral and if this isn’t rectified quickly, the Giants will be sitting home again come playoff time.

Giants on Offense

Simply pathetic. New York was held to 13 first downs, 232 total net yards, 196 net yards passing, and 36 net yards rushing. The Giants were only 4-of-13 (31 percent) on 3rd down conversion attempts and only held the ball for just under 25 minutes. In 11 offensive possessions, the Giants longest drive was 71 yards (which resulted in a short field goal). The next longest drive was 37 yards. Ouch.

I’ll sound like a broken record but the same problems remain. The Giants can’t run the football. Teams are focusing on taking Odell Beckham out of the game and when Eli Manning and Odell Beckham can’t click on the big play, this offense becomes one of the worst in the NFL as the Giants can’t otherwise sustain drives. The longest offensive play for the Giants on Sunday was 25 yards.

The Giants have only scored more than 20 points twice this year. In this game, the defense scored once and set up the offense’s only touchdown drive at the opponent’s 35-yard line.

The Giants only ran 57 offensive plays: 37 passes, 18 runs, and 2 kneel-downs by Eli Manning. They were hampered by terrible starting field position (backed up to the goal line) three times in the second half. The Giants were not penalized once on offense.


The Giants literally passed twice as much as they ran the ball. Eli Manning was 24-of-37 for 196 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. For the second week in a row, he spread the ball around, connecting with 10 different targets. But the average gain per pass play was only 5.3 yards. Manning is receiving absolutely no help from his running game. But he certainly is not playing at a very high level. He needs to get his ass in gear.

Running Backs

Once again, the running game was a non factor. Giants backs carried the ball 18 times for 38 yards (2.1 yards per carry). The “leading” rusher was Rashad Jennings with 13 carries for 25 yards (1.9 yards per carry). His longest run was five yards! Paul Perkins had four carries for 12 yards with the team’s longest run of 10 yards. Most of the runs come out of the shot-gun formation and it is not working very well. It’s interesting to note that Perkins’ playing time increased this week.

Jennings caught 2-of-3 passes thrown in his direction. One went for no yards while the other picked up an impressive 24 yards. Perkins caught one pass for four yards while Bobby Rainey caught one pass for -2 yards.

Wide Receivers

I’ve contended for this offense to click, the top targets have to be the receivers. On Sunday, Eli’s top targets were Victor Cruz (5-of-8 for 55 yards), Odell Beckham (5-of-9 for 49 yards), and Sterling Shepard (5-of-7 for 32 yards). The problem was that these three receivers only averaged nine yards per catch. It is no coincidence that Cruz’s longest reception (25 yards) and Beckham’s longest reception (22 yards) led to the only offensive points of the day. Beckham’s 22-yard reception on 3rd-and-3 on the game-winning drive despite heavy contact against double-team coverage was the offensive play of the game. Cruz dropped a pass in the 1st quarter that killed a drive. The blocking by Cruz and Shepard on the flare to Beckham out of the backfield that lost six yards was pathetic. Beckham could have made a better effort on a 3rd-and-1 sideline pass that fell incomplete in the 3rd quarter.

Tight Ends

Stating the obvious, the Giants are not getting any help from their tight ends. Just like the previous game against the Ravens, the offense put the team in a hole by turning the ball over on the first possession of the contest as Larry Donnell fumbled the ball away. This turnover set up the Rams only touchdown. Donnell was targeted two other times but did not catch another pass. Will Tye caught two passes for a grand total of 14 yards. He’s been a major disappointment this year after a surprise rookie season. Rookie Jerell Adams caught one pass for five yards.

Offensive Line

The story line here remains the same. Decent pass protection and terrible run blocking. Eli Manning was not sacked. He was hit officially five times. That said, Eli isn’t holding the ball very long either. Many of the pass plays are short, quick throws – which makes the offensive line look better in pass protection than it really is. RT Bobby Hart gave up a couple of hits on Manning. The Giants only ran the ball 18 times, but when they did, they also only generated 38 yards or just over two yards per carry. The good news was there were no penalties.

Giants on Defense

This was the Giants best defensive game of the season to date. Not only did the defense do a good job of stopping the run (74 yards on 20 carries), but it picked off four passes, defensed 12 passes overall, and accrued three sacks and seven QB hits. Most importantly, the defense held the Rams to 10 points and scored on defense. The Rams were shutout in the the final three quarters of the game. The defense was only penalized three times (one offsetting). The biggest negatives were allowing first downs late in the game on 3rd-and-22 and 4th-and-10.

Defensive Line

It’s interesting to note that Jason Pierre-Paul is back at right defensive end, with Oliver Vernon now at left defensive end. The defensive line was fairly stout against the run and applied a decent amount of pass pressure. The Rams stuck with the run throughout the game but only averaged 3.7 yards per carry. Their longest run by a running back was only eight yards. Damon Harrrison (1), Jay Bromley (1), Jason Pierre-Paul (0.5), and Kerry Wynn (0.5) all registered sacks. Although Olivier Vernon did not sack the quarterback, he was a factor in pressuring the pocket throughout the game and caused a holding penalty that wiped out a big gain. This was the best pass-rush game for both JPP and Vernon so far this season. The inside guys got some good pressure too. Bromley was flagged with defensive holding.


Keenan Robinson (8 tackles, 2 pass defenses) had another strong game. His 4th quarter deflection of a Case Keenum pass caused an interception that set up the Giants game-winning touchdown. And Robinson’s sure open-field tackle of the ever-dangerous Tavon Austin off a bubble screen may have saved a touchdown. Jonathan Casillas was only in on three tackles, but also tipped a pass that was almost intercepted. Devon Kennard had two tackles and a QB hit. Only one tackle for Kelvin Sheppard.

Defensive Backs

Led by Landon Collins (2 interceptions, 2 pass defenses, 8 tackles) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (2 interceptions, 3 pass defenses, 4 tackles), the Giants secondary had a phenomenal day. Collins was the beneficiary of two deflections, but his 44-yard return for a score not only changed the complexion of the game, it will go down as one of the most memorable in Giants history. And while DRC’s second, game-deciding interception was a gift, the first was a fantastic play that stopped a 4th-quarter scoring threat. He also almost came down with a third interception off of a flea flicker. Janoris Jenkins gave up the longest play of the game – a 48-yard reception to wideout Brian Quick (Jenkins was also guilty of illegal contact on the play). That said, Jenkins defensed three passes and had a solid game overall. Eli Apple was flagged with a 13-yard pass interference penalty on 3rd-and-7. Safety Andrew Adams gave up the 10-yard score on 3rd-and-6 in the 1st quarter. Aside from his turnovers, Collins was laying the lumber with a couple of big hits. Collins messed up on one deep shot and was lucky the QB couldn’t connect on what should have been an 81-yard score to start the second half. The biggest negatives were allowing the Rams to convert on 3rd-and-22 and 4th-and-10 late in the game.

Giants on Special Teams

Robbie Gould replaced Josh Brown. He made his only FG attempt (29 yards). Only 1-of-4 of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. Kickoff coverage was solid as the Rams longest return was 25 yards. Brad Wing punted eight times! He averaged 49.8 yards per punt (43.8 yard net) with one touchback and two punts downed inside the 20. Tavon Austin returned three punts and the Giants did give up a 19-yard punt return. Roger Lewis forced a fumble, but the Rams recovered the loose ball.

Dwayne Harris returned three punts for only 11 yards. Odell Beckham returned one punt for zero yards. Coty Sensabaugh was flagged with holding on one return. For the second week in a row, the Giants were unable to return a kickoff with all opponent kickoffs resulting in touchbacks.

(New York Giants at Los Angeles Rams, October 23, 2016)
Oct 232016
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, New York Giants (October 23, 2016)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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The New York Giants defeated the Los Angeles Rams 17-10 in a defensive struggle in London, England on Sunday. With the victory, the Giants improved their overall record to 4-3 heading into their bye week.

The Giants offense was dreadful as New York was held to 13 first downs, 232 total net yards, 196 net yards passing, and 36 net yards rushing. The Giants were only 4-of-13 (31 percent) on 3rd down conversion attempts and only held the ball for just under 25 minutes.

The Giants defense won the day, intercepting four passes (including one for a touchdown), sacking Rams quarterback Case Keenum three times, and holding Los Angeles to only 10 points.

Like last week, the game started off very poorly for the Giants as New York quickly fell behind 10-0 in the first quarter. On the Giants second offensive snap, tight end Larry Donnell fumbled the ball away at the New York 35-yard line. Seven plays later, Keenum threw a 10-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-6. The Giants punted the ball away after picking up one first down on their second drive. Los Angeles then gained 62 yards in eight plays to set up a successful 36-yard field goal. These were the last points the Rams would score on the day.

After both teams exchanged punts, the Giants offense managed to put together its longest drive of the game, marching 71 yards in 14 plays to set up a 29-yard field goal by place kicker Robbie Gould. No other Giants drive on Sunday would gain more than 37 yards.

The Giants tied the game on the ensuing Rams possession. Keenum’s pass was deflected off of the hands of wide receiver Tavon Austin. Safety Landon Collins intercepted the pass and scored from 44 yards out on a spectacular interception return. Mid-way through the second quarter, the game was tied at 10-10. Neither team would score for the rest of the half as the Rams punted the ball away three more times and the Giants twice.

Both teams continued to struggle on offense in the second half. The Rams and Giants each punted the ball away on their first three drives after intermission. The big break came in the 4th quarter when Keenum threw his second interception of the game. Linebacker Keenan Robinson deflected a pass that Landon Collins intercepted and returned to the Los Angeles 35-yard line. Facing a 3rd-and-3, quarterback Eli Manning found wide receiver Odell Beckham for a 22-yard gain down to the Rams 6-yard line. Three plays later, on 3rd-and-goal, running back Rashad Jennings scored from a yard out to give the Giants a 17-10 lead.

The Rams drove to the Giants 37-yard line on their ensuing possession, converting on a 3rd-and-22. But with just over four minutes to play, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted Keenum in the end zone for a touchback. The Giants went three-and-out on offense, giving the Rams one more chance with three minutes left in the game. After converting on a 4th-and-10, Los Angeles reached the Giants 15-yard line, but on 3rd-and-10, Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted Keenum in the end zone again to preserve the win.

Offensively, Eli Manning was 24-of-37 for 196 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. His leading receiving targets were wide receivers Victor Cruz (5 catches for 55 yards), Odell Beckham (5 catches for 49 yards), and Sterling Shepard (5 catches for 32 yards). Running backs Rashad Jennings was the team’s leading rusher with 13 carries for only 25 yards.

Defensively, both Landon Collins and and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie each had two interceptions. Defensive tackles Damon Harrison and Jay Bromley each had sacks, and defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Kerry Wynn split a sack.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at

Inactive for the game were safety Darian Thompson (foot), safety Nat Berhe (concussion), offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse (calf), wide receiver Tavarres King, defensive tackle Robert Thomas, linebacker Deontae Skinner, and quarterback Josh Johnson.

In the game, wide receiver/returner Dwayne Harris injured his lower back but returned.

Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Ben McAdoo and the following players are available at

  • Head Coach Ben McAdoo (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • WR Victor Cruz (Video)
  • DE Jason Pierre-Paul (Video)
  • DE Olivier Vernon (Video)


Oct 212016
Eli Manning, New York Giants (December 21, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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Game Preview: New York Giants at Los Angeles Rams, October 23, 2016

Unless the Cowboys collapse, this is a “must” game for the Giants if they want to keep any division title hopes alive. This is a dangerous game for the Giants against an opponent that is very much capable of beating them, with the added distractions of playing in London and now the Josh Brown affair. Just find a way to win this game and heal up during the bye for the second-half push.


  • WR Odell Beckham, Jr. (hip) – probable
  • RB Rashad Jennings (thumb) – probable
  • RT Marshall Newhouse (calf) – out
  • DE Olivier Vernon (wrist) – probable
  • LB Keenan Robinson (knee) – probable
  • CB Eli Apple (groin) – probable
  • CB Trevin Wade (ankle) – probable
  • FS Darian Thompson (foot) – out
  • SS Nat Berhe (concussion) – out
  • LS Zak DeOssie (ankle) – questionable

Statistically, the Rams are a middle-of-the-pack defense (17th overall, 23rd against the run, 17th against the pass). But they remain a typical Jeff Fisher defensive team – physical, aggressive, and borderline dirty. They try to get under your skin and thrive off of turnovers. The heart of the Rams defense is their defense line, which has been banged up but is unfortunately getting a bit healthier just in time for the game against the Giants. Their two best players are DT Aaron Donald and RDE Robert Quinn. Donald has three sacks, but he is leading the NFL with QB hits and pressures. Quinn has missed two games with a shoulder injury but is expected to play. Last season, John Jerry actually did a good job on Donald. Jerry and his his interior line mates will be on the spot again as will Ereck Flowers. In the back seven, the Rams utilize more run-and-hit tweeners at linebacker and safety that enhances their overall defensive athleticism and speed. In fact, their defensive depth chart lists only one starting linebacker and six defensive backs.

What we’ve seen from the Giants on offense is this: continued issues running the ball, continued issues in the red zone, and an inability to sustain drives without the big play. Like a true West Coast Offense, the Giants often use the short passing game in lieu of the run – hence the very pass-centric nature of the offense.

After last year’s game where Odell Beckham torched the Rams defense and after witnessing last week’s Ravens game, you can guarantee that Jeff Fisher is going to double- and possibly triple-team Beckham in this game. The Giants “broke out” offensively last week ONLY because of the return of the Manning-to-Beckham long-distance connection. Now if Beckham is able to still be a major factor, the Rams are toast. But more likely others are going to have to pick up the slack – especially Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz. The Giants can’t always count on Beckham to put up 150+ yards and two touchdowns per game. That’s just not realistic. And it’s time for the big boys up front – Flowers, Pugh, Richburg, Jerry, and Hart – to start moving people off the line and for the backs to gain yards. The Rams are 23rd overall against the run and 19th in yards-per-rush. If there was an opponent to finally get the ground game going, this is it.

The Rams looked like a train wreck offensively early on in the season but have been playing better of late because their quarterback is playing much better. Ben McAdoo provided a good overview himself of the Rams offense: “Their offense is ascending. They’re getting better. (QB Case) Keenum has found his groove a little bit here over the last three weeks or so. He’s completing a high percentage of balls. Big body receivers who can catch the ball everywhere. They have great range that can come up with the catches. Their tight end is playing well, (TE Lance) Kendricks, he’s a good player and a complete player, which is tough to find in today’s game. Of course, (RB Todd) Gurley. He really has a chance to make everything go for them. We really have to stop him and commit to stopping him.”

Gurley has struggled against defenses geared up stop him, only averaging 2.9 yards per carry. But he is certainly capable of taking over a game and the Giants primary defensive task must be to keep him in check. Keenum has actually done a good job of spreading the ball around to WR Kenny Britt (30 catches, 2 TDs), WR Tavon Austin (26 catches, 1 TD), Kendricks (18 catches, 1 TD), WR Brian Quick (16 catches, 3 TDs), and Gurley (15 catches). And Keenum completed a remarkable 84 percent of his passes against the Lions last Sunday. While Britt and Quick are the bigger receivers McAdoo references, Austin is the smaller, quick-as-hiccup dynamo who can break open a game.

Game plan is simple. Stop Gurley. Make the Rams one dimensional and get after Keenum – a journeyman quarterback coming off a strong game but who someone the Giants should be able to rattle if they can pressure on him. It’s well past time for Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon to have a breakout game. With Darian Thompson and Nat Berhe out again, Andrew Adams once against will be under the microscope. He’s performed reasonably well given the circumstances – just don’t give up the big play. The return of Eli Apple should help – provided he is reasonably healthy and not too rusty.

Of course the big PR nightmare this week is the Josh Brown story. Statistically, Brown has proven to be one of the best place kickers in all of Giants history. Now he may not return. Robbie Gould will kick against the Rams. The game may come down to him. Benny Cunningham has six career returns over 40 yards. Tavon Austin is very dangerous on punt returns. And the Rams will use trick plays on special teams, especially out of the punt formation.

Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan on DT Aaron Donald: “He is a fantastic football player. I don’t know if there’s another defensive tackle that’s playing at such a high level. Just the disruption that he causes in both the run and the pass, and the number of quarterback hits he has and in terms of the pass game. Then also, he’s behind the line of scrimmage in the run game as well. When you talked about someone we have to be aware of and know that we take into account from a protection standpoint, from a double team standpoint in the run game, he’s at the forefront of our mind. He’s a heck of a player and we’re going to have our hands full for sure.”

There are a number of Giants who I keep expecting to have breakout games, including JPP, Vernon, Shepard, and to a smaller extent, Will Tye. The Giants defense is too talented to have this few sacks and turnovers. Something has to give soon. If the Giants win the turnover battle, they win this game.