-Daniel Jones: 14/20 – 119 yards / 0 TD – 0 INT / 85.2 RAT
Jones added 24 yards on 4 carries, including the team’s biggest gain on the ground of 11. He was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter on a brutal blind side hit by Andrew Van Ginkel. The neck is an injury that needs to be closely monitored. In 2021, Jones suffered a neck injury that was “almost” serious. I will avoid getting ahead of myself here, but fingers are crossed for Jones that this will not be the same injury, but multiplied in severity. If it is, worst case scenario is on the table.
As for his play, Jones took another beating. Between the amount of pressure and hits he took in the pocket, he also took three big hits as a runner. And I know the QB-sneak is the new craze in the NFL right now, but watch Jones’ helmet on these plays and his neck takes a beating there too. During the Seattle game, I said to the people I was with, Jones is never going to last taking all these hits. Here we are, a week later and staring at another injury to the fifth-year pro. Beyond the beating, Jones started and ended with similar poor throws: third-down passes to the right flat to a speedy Wan’Dale Robinson that, if placed correctly, would have resulted in a first down. Both throws were poor (they were easy passes to make), both resulted in a punt instead of a fresh new set of downs. Jones is still hesitant post-snap on hot reads and there is a disconnect between him and the offensive line calls. Who’s fault is that? I’m not sure. But he is showing up to the fire with a can of gasoline, not a water hose.
-Tyrod Taylor played the majority of the fourth quarter. He completed 9 of 12 passes for 86 yards and added 14 yards on the ground. Pressure was in his face repeatedly as well. There is no debate on who the starter is and should be, but I will be intrigued to see how different this offense looks with him under center. He has better footwork/quickness and a faster release to physically get through a play faster than Jones. He is not built to take the hits Jones does. But if he can get the ball out faster like some of the surging quarterbacks in the NFL can, it may hide some issues and help Jones out in the long run. If Jones is out Sunday night, Taylor goes back to Buffalo to take on a franchise he led to the playoffs in 2017.
-Eric Gray: 12 att – 25 yards / 1 rec – 1 yard
With Saquon Barkley still sidelined with an ankle injury, Eric Gray got his first real running back action. His initial contributions have come on special teams as a punt returner, a role he has not yet appeared comfortable with. He got off to a nice start early on, showing contact balance and late movement to get off arm tackles. His best run of the day was called back by a holding penalty. Gray also missed a crease in the third quarter and tried to bounce it outside. He was taken out and took an earful from the coach. Gray is quick, but he is not quick enough to forego sure yards to bounce it out for more. He needs to get downhill, stay downhill. He also fumbled and fortunately for him, it did not result in a turnover.
-Matt Breida added 21 yards on 9 carries. The slasher had two nice runs up the middle and keeps proving that if things can get initially blocked at the point-of-attack, his burst and aggression will make things happen. Breida began his career with San Francisco for three seasons, the first three seasons Mike McDaniel was the team’s run game coordinator. It is not a coincidence that was the best stretch of Breida’s career.
-The group combined for 12 catches / 108 yards. Wan’Dale Robinson is still the focal point, leading them with 6 targets but the two misfires from Jones kept his production line to just 18 yards on 5 catches. Darius Slayton had the longest gain of the day, 20 yards, during garbage time. He was also a victim of a poor Jones throw on a ball he came down with downfield, but was out of bounds.
-The veterans Isaiah Hodgins, Parris Campbell, and Sterling Shepard were targeted 6 times. Jalin Hyatt? Zero. Since his big game in Arizona, the rookie has been on the field for 72 passing plays. He has been thrown to twice.
-Darren Waller: 8 rec – 86 yards
I appreciate the grit and hustle from Waller, one of the oldest and most established players on the team. This was the most involved and productive we have seen him to this point. Jones threw two downfield passes to him, both on the money, both hitting his hands, neither ending up complete. I did not dock him with a drop, but those two plays could have changed the momentum of this game. Very few players could have come down with it, the best would have. Waller also got beat up in the running game as a blocker and allowed a pressure.
-It is always hard to know where to start. Nobody played well, multiple injuries and an in-game benching occurred, and we saw multiple plays where blockers were not even competitive. There are plays where the result would be the same had the blocker stayed in his stance. We have seen poor OL play for years. This is rock bottom.
-Evan Neal allowed 5 pressures and had a sack called off by a MIA illegal contact penalty. He fell apart in the second half. Plain and simple he looked tired, out of shape, and unathletic. After a rough week in which he insulted NYG fans, the people who provide the money for him to play a game (poorly), he only added to the notion that he cannot handle the speed of this league. Joshua Ezeudu was benched after allowing the sack that took Jones out. He did not even get hands on Van Ginkel, a major no-no for a blind side protector. Ezeudu was flagged three times on one drive, including two false starts on consecutive plays. The holding penalty was declined, but it was a bad look for a guy who is clearly on the ropes with this coaching staff. It is safe to say this experiment is over, but I still want to see looks at guard. I broke down every play as I normally do, and he had the most positives in the group as much as that may be hard to believe. His negatives were just, loud.
-Ben Bredeson had his worst game as a pro. He was abused by the power and speed of Miami’s interior. He allowed 2 sacks, a TFL, 2 pressures, and was flagged for a hold on a big play. The amount of complete whiffs at the point-of-attack concerns me. The book is out on him. He cannot adjust, he is not agile, and he cannot recover. He ends up on the ground too often and just seem overmatched. Mark Glowinski allowed a sack late but for the most part, played well enough. His 2 pressures had more to do with crisscross traffic caused by stunts and twists up front. The main issue I had, which prevented a positive grade, was the lack of push he got in the running game. It disrupted at least two plays where everything else was lined up.
-Guard Jalen Mayfield, tackle Matt Peart, and center Jaylon Thomas all saw action from backup roles. Mayfield saw the most playing time, just under half of the team’s offensive snaps and he struggled mightily. He allowed 3 pressures and was flagged for holding twice. Markus McKethan, who left the game after tweaking his knee, allowed 3 pressures. I’ll touch on the guard play below. Thomas was in at center for just three plays and allowed a TFL. Lastly, Peart saw 24 snaps, allowed 2 pressures, and was flagged for a false start.
-Kayvon Thibodeaux made two big plays on a defense that has been starving for them. He recovered a fumble and recorded a sack, a nice win to the inside shoulder of backup Miami tackle Kendall Lamm. He added 2 pressures, one of which he was untouched. Thibodeaux was part of the problem, albeit not a glaring one, when examining why the defense allowed 9.7 yards per carry on the ground. It is almost assumed he will not come off the blocker and make a tackle. He does make hustle plays and I respect that, but I can count on one hand how many times he has made a stout play against the run over his career to this point.
-Azeez Ojulari is injured again, this time his ankle. Yet another lower body ding to a guy who has a game completely build on burst. He had zero impact over his 23 snaps.
-Jihad Ward and Boogie Basham are the two edge defenders Miami loves to play against. Get them moving sideways and they have no shot at impacting anything. Neither pressured the quarterback, both had multiple run game losses.
-The best players on the defense, Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams, combined for one pressure and 2 tackles. Miami got so horizontal, making them chase action to the sideline and hiding their upfield prowess. Tua Tagovailoa was also getting the ball out on average 2.15 seconds, an incredibly quick number. Add those two together and it is easy to see why these two were nearly unheard of in this game.
-The backups A’Shawn Robinson, D.J. Davidson, and Rakeem Nunez-Roches are cut from similar cloths. Big and strong, but slow and ineffective in space. None of them came in and made an impact. The latter did have one pressure early in the game.
-Isaiah Simmons played a season-high 54 snaps because of the injury to Micah McFadden. It was clear to see why he cannot be an every-down inside guy. He is late to fill lanes, which creates creases and space for the fastest offense in football. He also gets crushed against linemen who get a clear shot at him. Multiple times he was airlifted and pushed backward by blockers on some of Miami’s big runs. He did have 9 tackles, but also missed 2.
-Bobby Okereke had another solid game, as he was a part of the two biggest plays of the game by the defense. He tipped a pass at the goal line that Jason Pinnock intercepted and returned for a touchdown. He then intercepted one himself that gave NYG the ball at the MIA 23-yard line. He led the team with 10 tackles, including one for a loss. The run defense has several issues, he is not one of them. And the fact he is making plays against the pass is a huge positive.
-I will start off with the positive in a young season that has so few. Rookie Deonte Banks has evolved in a short time. The All-22 angle is encouraging. He had several cover-wins against Jaylen Waddle and while it did not matter much from a game perspective, his route anticipation and reaction are meshing well. He broke up a pass in the end zone and made a great tackle on a 3rd-and-1 complete pass with no margin for error on an island. Miami punted because of it.
-Cor’Dale Flott had a nice cover win and pass defended against Tyreek Hill. The acceleration, his best trait, was tested and he passed. I trust him in man coverage as much as anyone on this team.
-Adoree’ Jackson and Tre Hawkins both allowed 100% completion rate. Hawkins got burned by Hill on a play where there might be two or three corners who could have prevented the play. He had pre-snap confusion, lining up on the wrong side. He got to Hill late, Tua knew, and it was over before it started. Such is life with young corners in this league.
-Once again, Xavier McKinney and Jason Pinnock played every snap. In a game where so much of the action went through the first two levels of the defense without any speed bumps, much was put on these two. McKinney stood out with 8 tackles, a pass break up in the end zone, and a forced fumble that NYG recovered. His sheer hustle was notable on several plays as well. Pinnock caught the deflection off Okereke and returned it for a touchdown, the only one of the game for NYG. He added 5 tackles, but also allowed a touchdown on a broken play while trying to shadow Waddle.
-Dane Belton played 21 snaps over 4 games prior to the matchup in Miami. He played 39 in this game. He plays fast and aggressively, but he is such a hit or miss defender. Two times he exploded downhill as the Miami running play was getting horizontal. He overshot the lane and was the culprit on big gains. He finished with 4 tackles, 2 missed tackles, and allowed completions on all four passes thrown his way.
-K Graham Gano: 3/4 (Made 49, 37, 51 / Missed 55)
-P Jamie Gillan: 4 Punts / 40.3 avg – 40.3 net
-LB Bobby Okereke, S Xavier McKinney, CB Deonte Banks
-LB Isaiah Simmons, OC Ben Bredeson, OG Markus McKethan
3 THOUGHTS ON MIA
1. Prior to the season, I picked two teams to finish with 14 wins. One, Philadelphia. Two, Miami. The combination of the fastest and most dangerous offense in football paired with Vic Fangio calling the defense (without their best player, Jalen Ramsey), is going to get a ton of wins on the board. Why did not I not pick them to win the Super Bowl? Or even reach the AFC Championship? We do not know how well this offense can operate in cold/poor weather and there are a lot of questions surrounding the durability and take-over ability of their quarterback. We also know that postseason football experience is worth something, which they have very little of.
2. Speed kills. We know. Copycat league. We know. The game now favors offense. We know. Miami’s team speed is unlike anything I have seen before. Mostert, Achane, and Hill have been measured as the fastest players in the league this season. They’re all on the same team and they’re all football players, not just track stars. It is a formula that appears to be working but it only happens when the engineer at the top (McDaniel) knows how to use it. And that he does. Teams will try to replicate this, but they’ll need the right coach.
3. Christian Wilkins may be thrown into the discussion when listing the best interior defensive linemen in the league. It was not a quick, smooth ride. Here is the final note I have from my report on him in 2019: “Wilkins can be a stud. Top notch kid and a culture-builder.” We can discuss several positions that need to be upgraded and guys who need to be let go, but I think the key is to find more Wilkins’ type players. They do not grow on trees, I know. But what I mean is getting your best football players to also be the most influential leaders and culture pillars. Also, a fun note. Quinnen Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Jeffrey Simmons, and Wilkins all come from the same draft class. Those are 4 of the best 5 or 6 DTs in the league.
3 CLOSING THOUGHTS
1. In 2021, Miami rated dead last in the league in pass block win rate. In 2022? 24th. So far in 2023? 16th. Is there anything NYG can do (this season) to help hide the mismatches they are working with in the trenches every play? Besides Andrew Thomas getting back on the field, the only applicable takeaway I have in relation to Miami is running the ball more. Basic, I know. But when Jones drops back, the risk/reward is heavily tilted to the negative. NYG can run the ball with success on a more consistent basis. The likelihood of penalties is less and so are the 3-4-5+ yard losses that just kill the drive. I think Daboll and Kafka need to go Arthur Smith (Atlanta) style and run the ball 30-40 times next week in Buffalo.
2. So the Giants are now hoping for the best with linemen signed off the street. Jalen Mayfield, Jaylon Thomas, Justin Pugh. It is more likely we continue to see the major communication and assignment mishaps. That aside, what kind of blocker needs to be on the field? Mayfield was hard to watch, yes. But seeing how many times McKethan can’t get hands on his opponent and watching Bredeson allow pressures under 1.5 seconds leads me to the notion they have to put the best athletes out there if they are going to remain pass-heavy. If you can’t move your feet, you cannot block.
3. The Giants had no answers for the MIA speed. Their players are big and slow up front. Their pass rushers are not quick enough to impact the passer. They have confusion on the back end. Is Wink Martindale stuck in the past? We are seeing younger, fresher, more modern minds taking over coaching staffs and front offices league wide. I am looking around the league and seeing similar trends to other “old school” coaches (check out what is going on in NE). Martindale appears to be a step below the guys he is up against. Harbaugh saw it in 2022 when he parted ways with him.