Sep 142015
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Dallas Cowboys 27 – New York Giants 26

Game Overview

In 20 years of writing or editing game reviews, I’ve noted that Giants fans don’t have much patience or desire to read lengthy reviews after a painful loss, so I will keep this one short and sweet.

Giants fans (and the coaches and players) need to get over this “woe is me” crap right now. Every week in the NFL you see a game that another team screws up badly, and fans will gather around the water cooler on Monday morning and say, “Did you see that game? Man, did that team blow it or what?” Well, Giants fans, this week it was unfortunately our team. It happens. Get over it. Move on. The Giants are only 0-1, losing a close game that most didn’t give them a chance to win. That’s all. They didn’t get knocked out of the playoffs.

But before we totally close the books on this one, let’s look at this game in a broader context instead of discussing the painful final two minutes.

In many ways, the Giants were lucky to be in this game. Consider the following:

  • If you told me before the game that the Cowboys would out-gain the Giants in first downs 27 to 18, total net yards 436 to 289, and net passing yards 356 to 193, I would have told you that the Giants got badly beaten.
  • If you told me that Dallas would dominate the time of possession 37:10 to 22:50, New York must have gotten killed.
  • The Giants were 25 percent (1-of-4) in the red zone while the Cowboys were 60 percent (3-of-5). Sayonara.
  • The Cowboys were 6-of-11 (55 percent) on third down. Must have been a blowout.
  • Tony Romo wasn’t sacked only once and only officially hit once? Yikes.
  • If you told me that Eli Manning passed for less than 200 yards, Odell Beckham only caught 44 yards, and the offense never really had a touchdown drive, then the Giants must have lost by 30.

This game was only close because of three Cowboys turnovers that directly resulted in 17 of New York’s 26 points. The Giants did not have one turnover. That said, the Giants offense really only generated nine points off of three of their ten possessions. The Cowboys all but handed this game to the Giants. New York refused to take it. Too bad. But the better team on this night ultimately won. Now it’s time to move on and get better.


Eli was not helped by dropped passes, but he was clearly out-played by Tony Romo who is now the comeback king in this rivalry. Obviously, Manning should have taken a sack on the final play. Another bone-headed decision from a veteran quarterback who should know better. I love ya Eli, but c’mon.

Running Backs

The Giants only had 33 rushing yards by halftime but finished with 99 yards (80 from the running backs). One third of those 80 yards came on a 27-yard run by Rashad Jennings on the final field goal drive. The Giants obviously need more consistent productivity out their run game. Andre Williams continues to under-perform and the Giants may want to consider promoting Orleans Darkwa in his place.

If true, the real gut-wrenching issue was supposedly Jennings was told not to score on at least 1st-and-goal from the 4-yard line in order to run more time off of the clock. “As a running back, it’s really tough when they tell you not to score,” Jennings said. (Late note: Manning said he was confused about the timeout situation and that he mistaken told Jennings not to score).

Wide Receivers

A major disappointment. “Superstar” Odell Beckham caught five passes for 44 yards (8.8 yards per catch). That’s not going to get it done. Neither is Preston Parker (2 catches for 26 yards) dropping three passes on third down or Rueben Randle only catching three passes for 23 yards. Dwayne Harris wasn’t even targeted. The wide receivers were a major reason why the team lost the game. Want some optimism moving forward? My guess is that this is the worst game this group will play all season.

Tight Ends

Larry Donnell and Daniel Fells caught six passes for 54 yards. The Giants would have won the game had the officials called the beyond obvious holding penalty on Fells on 3rd-and-goal. Shame on the NFL.

Offensive Line

Not bad, but not great. More optimism? This is a unit that should continue to grow and improve with more playing time. The Giants rushed for nearly 100 yards but need greater consistency in the ground game. Eli Manning was sacked once and officially hit only four times.

Defensive Line

The Giants did a better job of stopping Darren McFadden (6 carries for 16 yards) than they did Joseph Randle (16 carries for 65 yards). The ends still need to hold their ground better. But the Giants did a reasonable job of defending a very good run-blocking offensive line by holding the Cowboys to 81 rushing yards. The pass rush was virtually non-existent except for a few pressures by Robert Ayers. Cullen Jenkins may improve the run defense at end, but he can’t rush the passer from that position.


The problem was pass coverage. 22 of Tony Romo’s 36 completions went to running backs and tight ends for 199 yards. Unai’ Unga was put in a tough situation given his inexperience. I would have preferred Jonathan Casillas and J.T. Thomas – both supposedly strong in coverage – being on the field together on the final two drives. Strange decision by the defensive staff.

Defensive Backs

While the secondary deserves some of the blame for the productive night of the Dallas tight ends (i.e., Landon Collins on Jason Witten) and backs, the defensive backs played fairly well. Dallas’ longest pass of the night to a wideout was only 21 yards and Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley were held to 14 catches and 157 yards total. More importantly, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Trumaine McBride, and Brandon Meriweather were responsible for 14 of the Giants 26 points. The pass interference penalty on DRC on 3rd-and-4 was bullshit.

Special Teams

This was supposed to be a big advantage for the Cowboys but the Giants held their own. New punter Brad Wing punted well, averaging 45.5 net yards per punt. The coverage teams were solid. The Giants never had a chance to return six kickoffs (all touchbacks). Dwayne Harris only gained three yards on two punt returns. Josh Brown was 4-for-4 on field goal attempts and 2-for-2 on extra points.

Coaching Staff

Obviously there were some questionable decisions made, particularly late in the game on both sides of the football. Contrary to most, I don’t fault the staff for kicking the field goal on 4th down. Dallas has a great kicker and a field goal still could have sent the game into overtime. But passing the ball on 3rd down backfired. Uani’ Unga was put in a really tough spot.

(New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, September 13, 2015)
Sep 142015
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Uani' Unga, New York Giants (September 13, 2015)

Jason Witten Scores Game-Winning TD – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The New York Giants had the Dallas Cowboys on the ropes but they let the game slip away in the final seconds as Dallas quarterback Tony Romo hit tight end Jason Witten for an 11-yard touchdown with seven seconds in the game to win 27-26. The touchdown catch culminated a far-too-easy 6-play, 72-yard drive in 87 seconds.

Making matters worse was the Giants had a chance to put the game away before the drive. Leading 23-20, the Giants had successfully driven from their own 20-yard line to the Dallas 4-yard line with 1:54 to play. After two runs by running back Rashad Jennings had picked up three yards and caused the Cowboys to spend their last timeouts, the Giants faced 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line. The Giants chose not to run the ball. Quarterback Eli Manning threw the ball away instead of taking a sack, causing the clock to stop. Declining to go for it on 4th-and-goal, Head Coach Tom Coughlin called for the field goal and the Giants only went up by six points.

Now a young Giants team will have to quickly recover emotionally from a devastating loss as the team will face the potentially dangerous Atlanta Falcons next Sunday at home.

In a game where the Giants defense was supposed to struggle and the offense was supposed to excel, the roles were reversed until the end of the contest. Not only did New York’s defense hold the Cowboys to only six first-half points, but the defense scored a touchdown after cornerback Trumaine McBride forced wide receiver Cole Beasley to fumble and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie returned the loose ball 57 yards for a touchdown. On the ensuing drive, linebacker Uani’ Unga intercepted Romo at the Dallas 22-yard line, setting up a 40-yard field goal right before halftime.

Meanwhile, the Giants offense puttered for most of the first half, accruing only six first downs and 86 total yards (33 rushing and 53 passing). At the half, the Giants led 13-6.

The Giants received the ball to start the second half and went up 16-6 after a 12-play, 68-yard drive set up a 30-yard field goal. However, the Cowboys responded with a 9-play, 80-yard effort that resulted in a 2-yard touchdown pass to cut the New York advantage to 16-13. This drive was aided by a very questionable Rodgers-Cromartie pass interference penalty on a 3rd-and-4 incomplete pass.

The score stayed that way until midway through the fourth quarter. Safety Brandon Meriweather’s hard hit on a receiver caused an interception that was returned by McBride to the Cowboys 1-yard line. One play later, Jennings scored and the Giants had a 10-point lead with just over eight minutes to play.

But alas it was not to be as New York’s defense collapsed late. The Cowboys drove 76 yards in six plays to cut the score to 23-20 with five minutes to play. Then came the long drive by the Giants that almost sealed the deal until the red zone failure.

The Cowboys out-gained the Giants in first downs (27-18), total net yards (436 to 289), and net passing yards (356 to 190). The Giants slightly out-gained the Cowboys in rushing yards (99 to 80). The equalizer was the Cowboys turned the football over three times while the Giants did not turn it over at all.

Manning finished the game 20-of-36 for 193 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Wide receiver Odell Beckham only caught five passes for 44 yards. Running back Shane Vereen caught four passes for 46 yards. The leading rusher was Jennings who had 52 yards on 13 carries with a 27-yarder on New York’s last field goal drive.

While the New York defense did force three turnovers, they rarely touched Romo who was not sacked and only officially hit once.

Video highlights/lowlights of the game are available at

DT Markus Kuhn left the game in the second half with a knee sprain and did not return. LT Ereck Flowers injured his ankle but returned to the game.

Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Tom Coughlin and various players are available at

  • Head Coach Tom Coughlin (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • WR Rueben Randle (Video)
  • LB J.T. Thomas (Video)
  • CB Trumaine McBride (Video)
  • S Landon Collins (Video)

Inactive for the Giants were WR Victor Cruz (calf), LB Jon Beason (knee), DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot), S Cooper Taylor, TE Jerome Cunningham, OT Bobby Hart, and DT Louis Nix.

The Cowboys are 8-0 against the Giants in season openers.

The Cowboys have won five games in a row over the Giants.

According to FOX Sports, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has damage to three of the fingers on his right hand and Pierre-Paul had another skin graft procedure performed recently. In addition, because Pierre-Paul has not been able to lift weights, he has lost significant muscle mass. The Giants reportedly have told Pierre-Paul that they will re-evaluate his physical condition in six weeks.


Sep 112015
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New York Giants Game Program (December 16, 1962)

New York Giants Game Program (December 16, 1962)

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, September 13, 2015

If you want to know why the Giants have failed to make the playoffs the last three seasons, look no farther than their struggles to defeat their two most bitter division rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys. In the last three years, the Giants are 2-4 against the Eagles and 1-5 against the Cowboys. Indeed, the Giants are a Dez Bryant finger tip away from being 0-6 against the Cowboys in the last three seasons. Beat the Eagles and Cowboys and 9-7 in 2012, 7-9 in 2013, and 6-10 in 2014 turn into 11-5, 10-6, and 10-6 and three division championships for the New York Giants.

To be blunt, while the games have all been very competitive, the Cowboys have owned the Giants in the last three seasons. The Giants have started off poorly in some games and had to play catch-up. But the biggest problem has been the Giants have not made the plays on offense and defense in the 4th quarter to win the games.

Most pundits do not give the Giants much of chance in this game. And there are good reasons to support that belief. The Giants may have a lot of talent on offense but they will be missing Victor Cruz and have big question marks at both offensive tackle positions. Most anticipate the no-name New York defensive line will be mauled by arguably the best offensive line in football. Jon Beason is hurting once again. And a combination of very inexperienced and veteran castoffs will try to man the middle of the secondary against one of the NFL’s most dangerous quarterbacks.

But this is Giants-Cowboys. The odds are the game will be closer than most believe. And the team that makes the fewest mistakes and makes the most plays in the 4th quarter is likely to win the contest.

THE INJURY REPORT: (Late note – Victor Cruz and Jon Beason will not play.)

  • WR Victor Cruz (calf – will not play)
  • OT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP and will not play)
  • DE Cullen Jenkins (hamstring – probable)
  • DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot – probable)
  • LB Jon Beason (knee – will not play)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas (neck – probable)

On paper, the defense of the Dallas Cowboys looks underwhelming. The secondary is weak and missing their best defensive back, Orlando Scandrick, who is gone for the season. The Cowboys will also be missing two of their most important front-seven players due to suspensions (DE Greg Hardy and LB Rolando McClain). In fact, there are no real headliners on the defensive line.

But the Cowboys should not be underestimated on defense. They are extremely well-coached under Rod Marinelli’s more conservative bend-but-don’t-break 4-3 defense. The Cowboys force a lot of turnovers (2nd in the NFL with 31 in 2014). The Dallas linebackers such as the very talented but injury-prone Sean Lee get most of the media attention, but its their defensive line that causes more problems than one might expect.

“(The Cowboys) rely on the stunt game rather than pressure,” said Tom Coughlin. “They’re not a high-percentage pressure (blitzing) team. But they’re going to move that front all over the place, they’re not big. They’re penetrators, and they’re powerful. And then seeing (Tyrone) Crawford, he’ll knock the living daylights out of you. Ereck Flowers has this (Jeremy) Mincey guy. I hope he prepares himself, because he’s a powerful man for not a big man.”

Coach Coughlin hit the nail on the head. The physically underwhelming (6’4”, 285lbs) Crawford has given teams – especially the Giants – fits in the middle of the offensive line. It’s probably one of the reasons why the Giants have beefed up the middle of their offensive line with Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, and Geoff Schwartz. Mincey is not a top pass rusher, but he was the most consistent one for Dallas last season. And the Cowboys hope the undersized but athletic second-year end DeMarcus Lawrence gives Marshall Newhouse problems. Dallas has a number of young and athletic reserves, including rookie DE Randy Gregory, and they want to attack the Giants offensive line in waves.

But the Dallas defensive line is not big. In fact, outside of Mincey, it’s downright small. And because of that, they have to play twists and stunts up front to compensate. If the Giants offensive line can handle these defensive line games, then the Giants should be able to maul these guys. But that’s a big if. The Giants have not handled opposing defensive line movement well in recent years. There have been too many mental (not just physical) breakdowns.

The question for Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo is what is the best way to attack the Cowboys? Marinelli expects to give up yardage, but he’s counting on the Giants to make the mistake (turnover, penalty, inability to convert on 3rd down) to stall a drive. Do the Giants use the typical West Coast philosophy and mix up what has been an inconsistent running game with dink-and-dunk passes (especially to Shane Vereen) to attempt to matriculate the ball down the field on long drives? That puts the onus on the Giants being able to run the ball, plus not making the mistake. But it has to be a very attractive option too given the size disparity between the two lines. Or do the Giants put heavy pressure on their offensive tackles, take those 5- and 7-step drops, and throw deep to Odell Beckham and Rueben Randle? Obviously, there will be some mixture of both approaches, but it will be interesting to see where the emphasis is placed.

The Giants need a big game from Eli. He usually plays well against Dallas, especially in Dallas. The Giants may need some 4th quarter heroics from him. After leading the NFL with eight 4th quarter comebacks in 2011, Manning had three in 2012, two in 2013, and only one in 2014. That’s not all on him, but New York needs more from their $100 million man. They also need Odell to be Odell. Like in all sports, winners need their stars to make the big play in big moments. Beckham has the ability to single-handily take over this game if he doesn’t get too hyped.

Regardless of the tactical and strategic approach, probably the biggest key in this game for the Giants is to avoid turnovers. Too many Giants-Dallas games in recent years have been decided by killer turnovers that have resulted in defensive scores.

Except for when the Giants were playing against second- and third-team back-ups in the preseason finale, the starting Giants’ defense did not play well in the preseason. They could not stop the run. They could not rush the passer. They could not cover. They didn’t force turnovers. They have a completely new defensive scheme that they are still learning. The leader of the defense is a gimpy linebacker who seems to be held together with duct tape. The safety situation is a combination of youthful inexperience and veteran castoffs. And the team’s only defensive star sits at home after blowing off his finger. Not a pretty picture for a unit that now must face one of the NFL’s very best rushing and passing attacks.

The hope here is that the defensive wrinkles Steve Spagnuolo kept quiet during the preseason will cause the Cowboys mental rather than physical issues. Perhaps the offensive line is confused by different formations, techniques (where the defenders line up), and blitzes. However, it’s hard to imagine that the experienced Tony Romo will be confused by shifts in a secondary manned by a couple of green safeties however.

There are two clear apparent mismatches that work against the Giants: (1) Dallas’ excellent offensive line versus New York’s no-name and underwhelming defensive line, and (2) the Dallas passing game against the middle of New York’s secondary.

Dallas has three of the NFL’s best offensive linemen at left tackle, center, and right guard. It’s one of the reasons why Dallas was second in the NFL in rushing the football in 2014. DeMarco Murray may be in Philadelphia now, but the Cowboys can muscle and maul even good defensive lines. Their Achilles’ heel? Last season the Washington Redskins demonstrated that the young Cowboys line can still be confused with movement and blitzes. That’s hopefully where Steve Spagnuolo’s schemes come in. I would expect the Giants to blitz a lot, especially with Devon Kennard, J.T. Thomas, and Landon Collins. If Tony Romo has all day to throw throughout the contest, the Giants won’t win this game. But when when you live by the blitz, you often die by the blitz. The pressure will not only be on the blitzers to get to Romo and bring down the elusive quarterback, but to cover on the back end of the defense, especially against Dez Bryant. The good news for the Giants is that Prince Amukamara has done a good job on Bryant. They need more of the same from him as well as an outstanding game from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

More than the receivers outside, it’s the insider receivers who worry me. Tight end Jason Witten has been a Giant-killer over the years. And the reserve tight ends have also given the Giants problems in recent games. Throw in slot receiver Cole Beasley against Trevin Wade or Trumaine McBride or whomever is covering him and these look like problem areas. If I’m Dallas, I attack the middle of the defense over and over again. The key guy here for New York could be nickel linebacker Jonathan Casillas.

Much of this is moot however if the Giants can’t stop the run. You could hear that concern from Spagnuolo this week. “The bullets in the pass rush. Well, we’ve got enough there,” said Spagnuolo. “We’ve got to get them in those situations. I think that’s really important. Then we’ll let them go, see what happens.”

Can Johnathan Hankins, Markus Kuhn, Jay Bromley, Robert Ayers, Cullen Jenkins, Kerry Wynn, George Selvie, Damontre Moore, and Owamgabe Odighizuwa hold up at the point-of-attack and allow the linebackers and defensive backs to run to the ball carrier? The game is still usually decided in the trenches.

One final note. Just like I mentioned on the offensive side, on the defensive side turnovers are often the great equalizer. If the Giants can force some turnovers and win the turnover battle, they have a great shot to win this game.

Dallas is really, really good on special teams. Their place kicker is the best in the game and virtually perfect, including from long distance. Most of his kickoffs result in touchbacks and are not returned. The punter is very solid. And the Cowboys are very fast and aggressive on their coverage units. We’re going to find out very quickly if the $17 million the Giants spent to rip Dwayne Harris away from the Cowboys was money well spent. It will also be our first look at punter Brad Wing. How well he works as a holder with kicker Josh Brown on extra point and field goal attempts could be an issue.

Tom Coughlin on Dallas’ offense: “What they’ve done is they’ve taken the pressure off (of Tony Romo). The quarterback had a great year. They’re going to run, they’re going to run, they’re going to run, and hopefully we can do something about the run. The offensive line hasn’t changed.”

Both teams are pretty equal at quarterback and receiver. Dallas has better tight ends but the Giants probably have better running backs. The Giants’ top two corners on defense are much better than Dallas’ corners and there isn’t all that much difference on the defensive side of the ball. The bigger issue on defense is New York is a year behind the learning curve with their new scheme (too bad they waited a year on Spagnuolo).

Where are these two teams different? The offensive line. New York may be catching up with the recent additions of Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, and Geoff Schwartz but they are not there yet. But this unit could make quite a statement and win the game for their team if they somehow managed to out-perform their much touted Dallas counterparts. The odds are, however, that Ereck Flowers will look like a struggling rookie. And there is a big concern about how Marshall Newhouse will do at right tackle.

This is a good time for the Giants to catch Dallas. They had a lot of nagging injuries in camp that prevented them from practicing and playing together. Two of their best players are suspended. Dallas played like crap in their opener last year. The Giants have a good chance here to pull off the upset. Win the turnover battle and they’ll do it.

Sep 052015
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Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (September 3, 2015)

Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 12 – New England Patriots 9

Game Overview

With the Patriots sitting their starters and playing their third-string quarterback, and the Giants sitting Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, this game was really nothing more than a glorified scrimmage. And it was almost as painful to watch unless you really get into watching how the individual players perform. I do and that’s how I’ll approach this review.

Offensive Overview

Without the team’s two best offensive players – Manning and Beckham – and with Victor Cruz still sitting out due to a calf injury, the Giants offense sputtered with Ryan Nassib at the helm. The Giants only managed to put 12 points up on the board with drives of 44 (10 plays, aided by 20 penalty yards), 80 (10 plays, aided by 15 penalty yards),  57 yards (11 plays), and 55 yards (9 plays). Overall, the Giants accrued only 16 first downs, 107 yards rushing, and 193 yards passing.

The only real offensive “highlights” were the 40-yard pass to wide receiver Geremy Davis and the 33-yard pass to tight end Jerome Cunningham.

Ryan Nassib, New York Giants (September 3, 2015)

Ryan Nassib – © USA TODAY Sports Images


Ryan Nassib (16-of-32 for 193 yards, 0 touchdowns, 0 interceptions) had his moments, but he did not play as well as he should have against Patriots back-ups. It was a somewhat disappointing effort after his stronger performances in the previous two preseason games. Nassib seemed a bit jumpy in the pocket even when afforded solid pass protection. He looked intent on getting out of the pocket a bit too often and had some accuracy issues when throwing from the pocket.

Running Backs

Rashad Jennings (1 carry for 2 yards) and Shane Vereen (1 carry for 3 yards) barely played. Andre Williams saw his most action of the preseason and had 28 yards on eight carries (3.5 yards per carry). Orleans Darkwa (10 carries for 39 yards) and Kenneth Harper (10 carries for 36 yards) saw the bulk of the action.

One of the neat stories of the game was fullback Nikita Whitlock, who logged about 60 snaps total at fullback, on defense at defensive tackle, and on special teams. He flashed in all of these areas, including as a lead blocker. Whitlock carried the ball once for two yards on 3rd-and-2 on the game-winning field goal drive.

Wide Receivers

Odell Beckham (healthy scratch), Victor Cruz (calf), and Corey Washington (shoulder) did not play. The only receivers to catch more than one pass were were James Jones (4 catches for 39 yards) and Geremy Davis (3 catches for 65 yards). Julian Talley had one catch for 19 yards, Dwayne Harris one catch for eight yards, and Rueben Randle on catch for eight yards. Preston Parker was targeted three times but had no receptions.

Aside from the 40-yard reception, Davis had a nice catch on a low 3rd-and-5 throw from Nassib. He also had an 18-yard reception on the third field goal drive. Talley’s 19-yard reception came on 3rd-and-5 on the same drive.

Tight Ends

I miss the days when Giants tight ends could block.

Larry Donnell was targeted once but had no catches. He still has issues as a blocker. For example, he whiffed on his man on the first offensive play for the Giants.

Daniel Fells sat out most of the game with a shoulder injury; he was targeted twice and had one catch for one yard. Fells was flagged with a holding call, wiping out a 6-yard run by Andre Williams.

Adrien Robinson was targeted three times. He had one catch for four yards and dropped a touchdown pass. Robinson simply doesn’t look like an athlete, and worse, despite his size, he is not a good blocker. He often gets stood up and/or pushed back and sometimes it simply looks like he isn’t trying very hard.

Jerome Cunningham only caught one of three passes thrown his way, but it was an impressive, twisting deep sideline catch for 33 yards despite tight coverage. However, he does not create any movement either when blocking from the down tight end position.

Offensive Line

While the first- and second-team lines were not bad, they had some rough moments and it would have been nice to see more consistent run blocking against New England back-ups.

Geoff Schwartz started at right guard, but again split time with John Jerry at the position. Schwartz also saw some time at right tackle, where he got promptly flagged for holding. Both Schwartz and Jerry saw extended snaps as the coaching staff likely wants to evaluate both and get Schwartz back into game shape. Schwartz appears to be the slightly better option at this point. For a big guy, he hasn’t been playing with much power, but Jerry continued to have issues in the ground game, even against back-ups playing in the second half.

The play of Ereck Flowers this preseason has been mostly positive but he did have some issues on Thursday. He didn’t get much movement on one left-side run and then a few plays later, he got beat to the outside, panicked, and grabbed the facemask of his opponent (he did this earlier in the preseason too). The penalty sabotaged the promising first drive.

One guy who looks undersized but has done a decent job all preseason is Adam Gettis at left guard. He seems to be pretty reliable, but he just may not be naturally big and strong enough. Dallas Reynolds continued to do a solid job as the back-up center. Bobby Hart struggled in pass protection at right tackle in the second half, as did Emmett Cleary when he shifted from left tackle to right guard. Hart also got beat on a run block late in the game when the Giants were trying to run out the clock.

Defensive Overview

This was the best the defense has looked by far this preseason, but that comes with the major caveat that they were playing against back-ups and a third-string quarterback. So it’s probably unwise to read too much into this performance.

The Giants were missing nine defensive players due to injury in this game.

The Patriots were held to 61 yards rushing as the Giants accrued four sacks and two turnovers. On the downside, the mediocre Ryan Lindley did pass for 253 yards and the Patriots were 7-of-18 (nearly 40 percent) on third-down conversion attempts.

In terms of X’s and O’s, check out Joey in VA’s observations on the game in The Corner Forum.

Defensive Line

DE/DT Cullen Jenkins (hamstring) and DE Robert Ayers (ankle) did not play. Because of that, the youngsters at defensive end received extended playing time and impressed against back-ups for the most part. Kerry Wynn (2 tackles for a loss and 2 QB hits) had his best game of the preseason, as he played outside in the base defense and inside at tackle in pass rush packages.

Damontre Moore had a rough night in the penalty department. He was flagged with two roughing-the-passer and one unnecessary roughness penalties (the latter one was borderline as he was pushed in the back). Those are the types of mental errors that have gotten him in trouble with the coaching staff in the past. That said, on the Patriots’ first field goal drive, Moore was repeatedly giving the Patriots’ reserve left tackle problems in pass protection. He even flashed in run defense in this game at times. His biggest play was his strip sack to end the game.

George Selvie had a big game with four tackles and two sacks. He did well against the run too. Owamagbe Odighizuwa (2 tackles) continues to look good at the point-of-attack in run defense.

Inside, Jay Bromley flashed a couple of times with his run defense and pass rush, including one sack. Markus Kuhn played stouter at the point-of-attack this week, including combining with Moore to tackle the back for a 1-yard loss late in the third quarter.


Jon Beason (knee) and Jonathan Casillas (neck) did not play again.

J.T. Thomas quickly penetrated the line and hit the running back deep in the backfield on the second play, but did not make the tackle (Kerry Wynn cleaned up). He did a nice job of filling the hole and getting to the ball carrier on the next possession. Thomas had good coverage and deflected the ball away on two pass attempts, including a 3rd-and-8.

Jameel McClain and J.T. Thomas, New York Giants (September 3, 2015)

Jameel McClain and J.T. Thomas – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Devon Kennard pressured the passer on the very first defensive snap. Jameel McClain had a chance at an early sack but missed. He got good pressure on another inside blitz and tackled a running back for a loss on an outside run.

Mark Herzlich was stout against the run from the outside linebacker spot. Cole Farrand gave up a 26-yard completion to TE Asante Cleveland and badly missed a tackle after a short throw. Unai’ Unga stumbled when pursuing to the ball after a short completion, leading to a 16-yard gain. He also could not make a play on the ball on a 17-yard reception over the middle on 3rd-and-14. Unga did knock down one pass late in the game.

Ashlee Palmer made a couple of nice tackles late in the game after short pass completions, including one screen pass.

Defensive Backs

CB Trevin Wade (back), CB Chyke Brown (knee), CB Chandler Fenner (hamstring), S Jeromy Miles, and S Nat Berhe (calf) did not play.

This was the best performance we’ve seen from Landon Collins so far. He did a nice job of recovering and knocking away a 3rd-and-1 sideline pass on the second drive. Later, he almost came down with an interception on a deep post pattern to the end zone. Collins also flashed in run support.

Cooper Taylor started alongside Collins and did a nice job of coming up and making a sure tackle after short completion.

Brandon Meriweather had a chance to put a kill shot on the 26-yard pass to TE Asante Cleveland but seemed to misjudge the path of the ball. Three plays later, he missed a tackle on the running back.

Stevie Brown possibly saved a game-winning touchdown late in the game with a sure tackle on the running back who had broken past the line of scrimmage. He later ended the Patriots’ drive with an interception off of a deflected pass.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie appeared to be going through the motions with his coverage and tackling. He gave up an 18-yard reception on 3rd-and-1 to WR Reggie Wayne. Prince Amukamara, who has missed much of the preseason, played surprisingly late into the second quarter. He didn’t get tested much.

Jayron Hosley came close to picking off a pass in the second quarter when covering WR Reggie Wayne. But later on the drive, he was flagged with a bad defensive holding call on a poorly-thrown 4th-and-4 incomplete pass. Despite decent coverage, Hosley was still giving up completions late in the 4th quarter too such as the 8-yard slant on 3rd-and-2. And then he immediately got beat on the next play for a 19-yard gain; Hosley didn’t even turn around to make a play on the ball.

Trumaine McBride gave up a 24-yard completion on 3rd-and-12 in the second quarter.

I suspect the Giants will be scanning the waiver wire for cornerbacks.

Special Teams Overview

Placekicker Chris Boswell filled in for the injured Josh Brown (leg) and made all four of his field goal attempts from 34, 29, 33, and 41 yards out.

Punter Steve Weatherford punted six times, averaging 45.5 yards (41 net) per punt, but the Giants remained unhappy with his directional skills and cut him the day after the game. The Patriots returned five punts for 27 yards with a long of 16 yards.

Kickoff coverage was solid as the Patriots had three returns for 25, 20, and 9 yards.

Zak DeOssie was active on the coverage units. Ashlee Palmer had two special teams tackles and Nikita Whitlock was in on two more. Orleans Darkwa made a nice tackle after Weatherford’s best punt of the night.

Dwayne Harris was held out of the return game as Preston Parker returned two punts for seven yards and Jayron Hosley returned one for nine yards. He was lucky that an early punt that he did not field and appeared to touch another Giant did not result in a turnover. Meanwhile, the Giants continue to do a piss-poor job of blocking opposing gunners (good luck Harris!). Mark Herzlich (holding), Nikita Whitlock (illegal block in the back), and Brandon Meriweather were all flagged with penalties on punt returns.

Kenneth Harper returned one kickoff for 22 yards.

(New York Giants at New England Patriots, September 3, 2015)
Sep 032015
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Geremy Davis, New York Giants (September 3, 2015)

Geremy Davis – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 12 – New England Patriots 9: The New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots 12-9 on Thursday Night at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts in their final preseason game. The Giants finished the preseason with a record of 2-2.

With the Patriots sitting their starters and the Giants choosing not to play quarterback Eli Manning and wide receiver Odell Beckham, the contest was nothing more than a glorified scrimmage.

The Giants defense had little trouble with the Patriots back-ups as third-team quarterback Ryan Lindley played the entire game for New England. The Patriots went three-and-out on their first two possessions of the game and were forced to punt on their first four possessions. Aided by penalties, the Patriots did squeeze out two late first-half field goals after drives of 64 yards (on 14 plays) and 51 yards (on eight plays).

Meanwhile, the Giants passing and rushing attacks sputtered for much of the game. The team’s best drive was a 10-play, 80-yard possession in the second quarter that resulted in a field goal. The Giants also had a 10-play, 44-yard drive in the first quarter that also ended with a field goal.

At the half, the game was tied 6-6.

In the second half, the Patriots five offensive possessions resulted in two punts, two turnovers, and a field goal. The Giants had two field goal drives, the first being an 11-play, 57-yard affair followed by a 9-play, 55-yard effort.

Quarterback Ryan Nassib finished the game 16-of-32 passes for 193 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. He had three passes of over 20 yards, including a 40-yard deep strike to wideout Geremy Davis, a 33-yard deep throw to tight end Jerome Cunningham, and a 21-yard pass to wide receiver James Jones. The leading rushers for the Giants were running backs Orleans Darkwa (10 carries for 39 yards), Kenneth Harper (10 carries for 36 yards), and Andre Williams (8 carries for 28 yards).

Defensively, the Giants held the Patriots to 61 yards rushing, accrued four sacks, and forced two turnovers. Defensive end Damontre Moore had a rough night with two roughing-the-passer penalties and one unnecessary roughness penalty but he closed out the game with a strip sack that fullback/defensive tackle Nikita Whitlock recovered. Defensive George Selvie had two sacks and defensive tackle Jay Bromley chipped in with another. Safety Stevie Brown intercepted a deflected pass. Meanwhile, rookie safety Landon Collins impressed with his hitting, tackling, and coverage. Defensive end Kerry Wynn also had a solid all-round game.

Place kicker Chris Boswell, filling in for the injured Josh Brown, made all four of his field goal attempts from 34, 29, 33, and 41 yards out.

Injury Report: TE Daniel Fells left the game with a shoulder injury but returned late in the contest. Center Brett Jones left the game with a knee sprain and did not return.

Post-Game Notes: Not playing due to injuries were WR Victor Cruz (calf), WR Corey Washington (shoulder), LT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP), DE Robert Ayers (ankle), DE/DT Cullen Jenkins (hamstring), LB Jon Beason (knee), LB Jonathan Casillas (neck), CB Trevin Wade (back), CB Chykie Brown (knee), CB Chandler Fenner (hamstring), S Geromy Miles (groin), S Nat Berhe (calf), and PK Josh Brown (leg).

QB Eli Manning and WR Odell Beckham dressed but did not play.

Sep 022015
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Odell Beckham and Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (August 29, 2015)

Odell Beckham and Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants at New England Patriots, September 3, 2015

Except for the undetermined starters on the defensive line and safety, most of the Giants first-line players will sit after two series. The Patriots rarely play their starters in this final game so the Giants offense and defense should look better early. This game is more about determining (1) who will start on opening day at defensive end, (2) the defensive tackle position next to Johnathan Hankins, (3) who will start on opening day at safety, and (4) who will make the final 53-man roster.


  • WR Victor Cruz (calf – will not play)
  • WR Corey Washington (shoulder – will not play)
  • LT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP and will not play)
  • DE Robert Ayers (ankle – will not play)
  • DE/DT Cullen Jenkins (hamstring – will not play)
  • LB Jon Beason (knee – will not play)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas (neck – will not play)
  • CB Trevin Wade (back – will not play)
  • CB Chykie Brown (knee – will not play)
  • CB Chandler Fenner (hamstring – will not play)
  • S Jeromy Miles (groin – will not play)
  • S Nat Berhe (calf – will not play)
  • PK Josh Brown (leg – will not play)


First Down
Who should start at defensive tackle next to Johnathan Hankins?
Despite what Head Coach Tom Coughlin says, Markus Kuhn, who has started at defensive tackle all spring and summer, has not impressed. Will he be the opening day starter or will the Giants move Cullen Jenkins back inside or start Kenrick Ellis or Jay Bromley at the position? Right now, it appears that Kuhn is the favorite to win the job.

Second Down
Who will start at defensive end?
Jason Pierre-Paul is not coming to the rescue. Meanwhile, Robert Ayers is out at least this game with an ankle injury. If he is healthy on opening day, it’s largely assumed he will start. Cullen Jenkins, who probably won’t play in this game due a hamstring injury, has been starting at end this summer. This game represents a good opportunity for George Selvie (who had been out with a knee injury), Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Kerry Wynn, and Damontre Moore to make their case.

Third Down
Who will start at safety?
Coach Coughlin was impressed with the performance by Landon Collins and Cooper Taylor against the Jets. The two formed the first-team safety combination in practice this week. They will be pressed by Brandon Meriweather and recently re-signed Stevie Brown. Jeromy Miles may be falling out of the picture due to his lackluster preseason performance and now groin injury.

Fourth Down
Who will the final two wide receivers be?
It’s largely assumed that the top four receivers to make the squad will be Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, and Dwayne Harris. That probably leaves two roster spots for Preston Parker, James Jones, Geremy Davis, Corey Washington, and Julian Talley. It’s hard to see the Giants parting ways with Davis who has impressed this summer. The final roster spot may come down to Parker versus Jones with Parker – based on his early preseason playing time – being the favorite.

Cooper Taylor
Is Taylor a viable starter? Can he stay healthy? Here is his last big chance to make an impression before the games count.

Uani Unga
It would be tough for the Giants to keep seven linebackers. So the undersized but instinctive Unga will likely have to beat out Jameel McClain or Coughlin-favorite Mark Herzlich for a roster spot.

Any defensive end who can rush the passer
The Giants have not been able to get any consistent pass press on the quarterback this preseason from their defensive ends. Is there anyone on this roster at end who scares the opposition?

Tom Coughlin: “I feel better with (Landon) Collins getting some kind of routine going. He practiced, he played, and I feel good about that. And, to be honest with you, Cooper Taylor played well the other night. So I’m excited about seeing him this weekend, too. Some of these people that are starters are still going to play a little more. They’re going to play more. Some will continue to play in the game for X amount of plays, others will come out. That’s going to give us a chance to see a little bit what they can do.”

It would be unwise to read too much into this final game as historically Bill Belichick shows no interest in this game and Tom Coughlin only wants to get a couple of series out of his starters. This is more about making final roster decisions and making final determinations on starting jobs. In other words, the games within the game are more important. Probably the most important aspect to keep an eye on is the play of the safeties.

Aug 302015
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (August 29, 2015)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Jets 28 – New York Giants 18

Game Overview

Preseason results are often meaningless. But coming off of back-to-back 7-9 and 6-10 seasons, coaches, players, media, and fans are looking for reasons to be hopeful in 2015. With only one preseason game left to play and the starters unlikely to play more than two series in New England, there are ominous storm clouds on the horizon with the New York Giants.

The basic problem for the Giants is this: the defense looks awful. If the team has any shot at the playoffs, the offense is going to have to carry this team by being one of the best in the NFL. However, the starting offense has looked pedestrian as best. Worse, despite another supposed infusion of talent in the offseason, special teams remains a weakness.

Right now, based on what we’ve seen on the playing field, the Giants appear to be one of the league’s worst teams. And an injury-plagued one with little depth at that. The odds are that Tom Coughlin and his staff will be fired at the end of the season, but Jerry Reese and his college and pro personnel talent evaluators will get a pass.

Offensive Overview

The Giants still have issues consistently running the football. Offensive line instability due to injuries to Weston Richburg and Geoff Schwartz has been a factor as well as playing against some strong and physical defensive fronts in the preseason. But the bigger issue is that Eli Manning and his receivers have not played particularly well. The Giants starting offense has had one really good drive this preseason and that was aided by three Jets penalties and the officials missing an incomplete 3rd-down pass.

Other than this 14-play, 85-yard effort, the first-team offense had two first downs and 32 yards on their other four possessions against the Jets. Worse, they handed the Jets a defensive score. If the Giants offense doesn’t become a scoring machine this season, the Giants are in deep trouble. Right now, they look far from elite status.


The expectation is that 2015 will be one of Eli Manning’s very best seasons, that he would once again approach his 2011 level of play. The early returns have been disappointing. Yes, Eli was 12-of-16 against a very good Jets defense. But he personally caused a 14-point swing in the game. He badly missed a wide open Odell Beckham on what should have been a 70-yard touchdown. Worse, he made an incredibly stupid decision to throw the ball short in the middle of the field with less than 20 seconds left and no timeouts. Even had James Jones come back to catch the ball at the Jets 41-yard line, there was not enough time to run another play to get into field goal range. There was nothing to gain from that throw. Stupid, inexcusable play by a quarterback who wants to be one of the top paid in the NFL. Also keep in mind that Manning hasn’t thrown a pass over 19 yards this preseason.

Ryan Nassib has out-played Eli Manning. Yup, I said it. And Nassib has done it with far shakier pass protection, demonstrating less fear of the pass rush. If I’m the Giants, I’m not sure I sign Eli Manning to a long-term contract right now. I let him play out the 2015 season and let the new coaching staff decide whether they want him or not. The Giants have the cap room to Franchise him. The new regime can then decide whether to trade him or extend his contract. The Giants won’t do this, but Eli is still making too many idiotic decisions in his 12th season for me to hand over $100 million without him playing better.

I’m a big fan of Manning. I think he’s the best quarterback to ever play for the franchise. But if the Giants give him $100 million and he’s no more than a middle-of-the-pack quarterback at age 34, they will be stuck with him for better or worse because salary cap ramifications will make it impossible to trade or cut him.

As for Nassib, he had his second strong performance in a row and would have had an even bigger night had his receivers helped him out more. That said, he does need work on his deep passing. He was off on three deep throws.

Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (August 29, 2015)

Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Running Backs

It’s been a weird preseason for the running backs. The headliners Rashad Jennings (12 carries in three games, 9 of which came against the Jets for 28 yards), Shane Vereen (8 carries, 4 receptions in three games), Andre Williams (7 carries in three games) have not received many touches. So it’s been hard for them to get into a rhythm or for us to get a good feel for their play. Each has flashed at times. Jennings had a 12-yard run where he could done more damage had he been able to keep his feet. Vereen looked very good on a swing pass that picked up 19 yards. It will be interesting to see how Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo use Jennings and Williams. I hope they allow one of these two to get into a rhythm in games and not constantly rotate them.

Meanwhile, Orleans Darkwa (20 carries in three games) has been receiving the most action. He looks like a legitimate NFL player who can make something out of nothing when carrying the ball. Could he actually be the best back on the team? Akeem Hunt has flashed enough (including a 15-yard run against the Jets) to ensure a place on the Practice Squad.

Wide Receivers

The good news is that Odell Beckham finally got his first catches of the preseason. But his five receptions went for a paltry 31 yards (6.2 yards per catch). He would have had a much bigger night had he been able to keep his feet in-bounds on another superb one-handed effort and had Eli Manning not badly missed him on what should have been a 70-yard touchdown reception against Darrelle Revis. Beckham’s 8-yard reception on 3rd-and-3 on the TD drive hit the ground.

The bad news is Victor Cruz has yet to play this preseason. We still don’t know if he will be ready for the opener. Rueben Randle has had an awful preseason. He only played three snaps in the first game, was held out the second game, and had one catch for seven yards against the Jets. Not good, especially since we still don’t know how much his knee tendinitis will affect him the rest of the year.

Preston Parker continues to see a lot of game-day action with little to show for it (1 catch for 5 yards and one false start penalty). James Jones had four catches for 54 yards but was involved in both team turnovers (first, he didn’t come back for the ball on Eli’s pick 6; second, he fumbled the ball away after a 15-yard reception to the Jets’ 19-yard line).

Geremy Davis was targeted six times, coming down with three catches for only 19 yards. His best play was his 15-yard reception on 3rd-and-10 on the last TD drive. Dwayne Harris has caught one pass for seven yards, but also had a bad drop. After an explosive preseason last year, Corey Washington only has three catches for 25 yards in three games despite playing a lot. Julian Talley made a superb, diving effort on the 2-point conversion.

Adrien Robinson, New York Giants (August 29, 2015)

Adrien Robinson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Tight Ends

Larry Donnell has not done much this preseason (4 catches for 34 yards, 1 catch for 5 yards against the Jets). He did not block well as an up back in this game. Despite more targets in the passing game, Adrien Robinson (4 catches for 19 yards in three games) still looks like a cumbersome athlete, but he did draw a 9-yard pass interference penalty on 3rd-and-8 on the first TD drive. That said, Robinson really didn’t help his cause with his lackluster run and pass blocking.

The two sharpest guys seem to have been Jerome Cunningham (3 catches for 58 yards, two defensive pass interference penalties in three games) and Daniel Fells (1 catch for 21 yards against the Jets). Cunningham needs to improve as a blocker. Had he stayed with his assignment on Jennings’ 12-yard run, Jennings probably would not have been tripped up. But he made a very athletic play on his 24-yard reception up the seam on the final TD drive of the game. He then capped that off that drive with a 6-yard touchdown catch. Fells remains the most consistent blocker at tight end.

Offensive Line

John Jerry started at right guard but Jerry and Geoff Schwartz switched off at the position all night. It’s pretty obvious that the Giants are trying to work Schwartz back into the starting line up at that position if his surgically-repaired ankle holds up. Though he was a bit shaky early, Schwartz was in the game during the team’s best drive of the preseason. The line seems steadier with him in the game, although for a big man he sometimes has issues with power. The problem with Jerry in the ground game is he simply does not sustain his run blocks, this was an issue even on Akeem Hunt’s 15-yard run in the 4th quarter.

Left tackle Ereck Flowers continues to improve each week. He is everything as advertised in the run game. There were too many mistakes from left guard Justin Pugh, who gave up a sack and two penalties. The first penalty (illegal use of hands) and sack helped to stall the second drive; the second penalty (false start) pushed the Giants back on the pick-6 possession at the end of the first half. Pugh also missed a block on a screen pass to Vereen.

Dallas Reynolds started at center in place of the injured Weston Richburg and performed adequately against a tough opponent. He is playing much better than he did during his first two years with the Giants. Marshall Newhouse has been just adequate at right tackle. He’s not a good run blocker despite his size.

The second-team line featured Emmett Cleary at left tackle, Adam Gettis at left guard, Brett Jones at center, Schwartz/Jerry at right guard, and Bobby Hart/Sean Donnelly at right tackle. Hart left the game late in the third quarter with an injury and was replaced by Donnelly. This group did a reasonable job although Gettis did give up a sack to first-team DE Sheldon Richardson and Donnelly had some issues in pass protection on the team’s last TD drive. Cleary had one false start and gave up a pressure late too.

Defensive Overview

Fans are going to have to accept that this is a bad defense. They can’t stop the run, they can’t rush the passer, and they can’t cover. It’s a group that lacks toughness, physicality, leadership, confidence, and swagger. Against the Jets, the Giants only had one sack (unblocked safety blitz), two quarterback hits, and no forced turnovers. The Jets rushed for 136 yards and journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 64 percent of his passes against the starting defense.

When one considers how the defense has struggled to stop Andy Dalton, Blake Bortles, and Ryan Fitzpatrick, let alone any running game, and you have to think other teams are licking their chops to face the once proud New York Giants defense.

Defensive Line

The run defense remains a huge concern, but the Giants are also not getting any pass pressure.

Jerry Reese says that even without Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants have five quality defensive ends. So far, I don’t see it. George Selvie has been out with a knee injury. We still don’t know when he will return. In a continuing trend for the Giants to find new and interesting ways to hurt themselves, Robert Ayers somehow injured himself in game warm-ups. Damontre Moore started at left defensive end. He didn’t have a tackle, remains a liability against the run, and has not flashed enough as a pass rusher against NFL starters. Kerry Wynn (1 tackle) has been disappointing. He has to set the edge better against the run. He was a non-factor as a pass rusher. The Giants have been forced to start an aging, fading defensive tackle (Cullen Jenkins) at defensive end and he is clearly not well suited to the 4-3 end position.

The guy with the most upside is Owamagbe Odighizuwa. He should be starting. Odighizuwa doesn’t appear to have any pass rush moves, but he can occasionally get close the quarterback. More importantly, he’s the only defensive end on this team that appears capable of setting the edge against outside tackle rushing attempts.

Inside, Johnathan Hankins played a bit better this week, but the decision to start Markus Kuhn remains a curious one. At least Kenrick Ellis and Jay Bromley received playing time against the Jets starting offensive line. Both still seem to be better options than Kuhn. The Giants were much more stout against the run on the Jets third offensive possession when Kuhn sat and Bromley and Ellis played. Both did have issues on one 13-yard run up the gut on the Jets’ second TD drive (Damontre Moore was held on this play, causing it to be nullified). However, Ellis was flagged with a stupid unnecessary roughness penalty with a late hit on the next snap. Late in the first half, both Bromley and Jenkins (now playing DT) looked good against the run.


Jon Beason (knee), Jonathan Casillas (neck), and Mark Herzlich (concussion) did not play.

Devon Kennard is the best linebacker on the team. He, along with Odighizuwa and Hankins, appear to be one of the very few building blocks this team has in the front seven. But Kennard, Jameel McClain, and safety Jeromy Miles were badly confused by a simple head fake on the 24-yard screen pass for a touchdown.

As an illustration on how teams simply scheme the Giants defense, on the Jets first offensive play, the Jets ran play-action bootleg that both Damontre Moore and McClain bit on, leading to an uncontested 10-yard completion to start the game.

McClain and Kennard ran well to the football when the defensive line set the edge or wasn’t shoved back into their faces. McClain, Kennard, and safety Landon Collins also did a very good job of reading an end-around for a 1-yard loss. However, McClain couldn’t stop the running back on a 2-point conversion attempt despite having a clean shot at the ball carrier.

The Giants spent $10 million on a linebacker (J.T. Thomas) who struggles at the point-of-attack and apparently doesn’t know how to wrap up when he tackles. It’s nice that he played well against his former team last week, but he is being paid to show up for every game.

Unai’ Unga led the team in tackles with eight and played as early as the team’s first defensive series. His lack of size showed up in this game as he was carried by the ball carrier on a couple of late rushing attempts. Victor Butler didn’t help his cause by missing a tackle in the backfield.

Defensive Backs

The Giants are just dreadful at covering the middle of the field. This is on both the linebackers and safeties. Opposing quarterbacks are going to have a field day passing in the middle all year.

The good news is that Landon Collins (3 tackles, 1 penalty for illegal use of hands) and Cooper Taylor (3 tackles, 1 sack) finally got back on the field. Cooper flashed on his sack and sure tackle off a bootleg pass to the tight end.

Jeromy Miles isn’t playing well. He struggled against the run and, along with Jayron Hosley, got beat badly on the 18-yard touchdown pass in the 1st quarter. On the play before the TD, he got beat badly by WR Brandon Marshall for an 11-yard gain on 3rd-and-5 (though admittedly that’s a tough match-up for any safety).

Brandon Meriweather can hit and tackle, but he’s not real smooth in space. He awkwardly fell to the ground on a 24-yard completion over the middle in the 4th quarter.

Trumaine McBride, New York Giants (August 29, 2015)

Trumaine McBride – © USA TODAY Sports Images

This was the second game in a row where opposing quarterbacks have tested Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie deep multiple times without success. Prince Amukamara played in his first game this preseason. He got beat by Brandon Marshall for 16 yards on 2nd-and-11. Amukamara had good deep coverage on the very next play, but two plays later, he got badly turned around by Marshall again on a play that should have resulted in a first-down had not it been for a bad throw.

Hosley not only got beat for a touchdown, but he also lost contain on 12-yard run earlier on the first TD drive. He did follow that up with a good run force. Both Trumaine McBride and Trevin Wade played nickel corner. McBride missed a tackle near the line of scrimmage on a run that picked up seven yards at the end of the 1st quarter. Not sure who was responsible for the easy 25-yard completion to WR Eric Decker on the Jets second TD drive, but it appears to have been Wade.

Special Teams Overview

The Giants keep signing/drafting special teams studs, but the special teams continue to help the Giants lose games. That’s got to be on the coaching. The Giants may be scanning the waiver wire for a punter because they clearly are losing faith in Steve Weatherford or trying to send him a message. Robert Malone punted twice in this game and also served as a holder. While Malone got off a 67-yarder, he also punted straight down the middle of the field, something that was a big contributing factor on the 54-yard punt return for a touchdown.

The Giants spent $17 million on Dwayne Harris as a returner, but they apparently don’t know how to block for him. The Giants gave up 76 yards on two kickoff returns, including returns of 44 and and 32 yards. Not good.

Right now, Josh Brown is the only redeeming aspect on special teams. He hit another long field goal (48 yards).

(New York Jets at New York Giants, August 29, 2015)
Aug 292015
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 29, 2015)

Bad Decision by Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Jets 28 – New York Giants 18: The New York Giants fell to the New York Jets 28-18 on Saturday night at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With the loss, the Giants preseason record fell to 1-2.

The Giants first-team offense played the entire first half and only had one good drive, their best of the preseason. It came in the second quarter on their third possession as the Giants drove 85 yards in 14 plays, culminating with a 1-yard touchdown run by running back Rashad Jennings. The Giants were in the no-huddle for most of the drive and having success both running and passing the football.

But other than that possession, the first-team offense sputtered. The team only picked up two first downs and 32 yards on their other four first-half possessions. Worse, quarterback Eli Manning, who otherwise had a good night, finished the first half with an interception that was returned for a defensive touchdown with only seconds to play before halftime.

Meanwhile, the first-team defense continued to struggle, having issues defending the run, rushing the passer, and covering receivers. The Jets scored touchdowns on two of their first-half possessions, including a 7-play, 64-yard drive and a 6-play, 73-yard drive.

The Jets led 21-7 at the half.

With most of the starters on the bench, the Giants received the ball to start the second half and cut the score to 21-10 as quarterback Ryan Nassib led the Giants on an 11-play, 54 yard drive that resulted in a 48-yard field goal by place kicker Josh Brown. But after stopping the Jets on offense, the Giants were forced to punt from their own 2-yard line. Robert Malone’s punt was returned 54 yards for a touchdown by the Jets as they went up 28-10.

Nassib and the Giants moved the ball well on their last possession of the third quarter, but after a 15-yard reception, wide receiver James Jones fumbled the ball away at the Jets 19-yard line. Midway through the fourth quarter, Nassib orchestrated a 10-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in a 6-yard touchdown throw to tight end Jerome Cunningham and a 2-point conversion on a pass to wide receiver Julian Talley. The score was cut to 28-10.

However, the Jets successfully ran out the clock in the last 7:31 of the game, driving from their own 20-yard line to the Giants 24-yard line.

Offensively, Manning finished the game 12-of-16 for 91 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. Nassib was 11-of-18 for 122 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. The Giants rushed for 106 yards, but 30 of those yards came from Nassib. The leading running back was Rashad Jennings with 28 yards on nine carries. Wide receiver Odell Beckham caught five passes for 31 yards, while wideout James Jones had four catches for 54 yards.

Defensively, the Giants did very little. They gave up 136 yards rushing, had only one sack (by safety Cooper Taylor), and forced no turnovers.

Injury Report: DE Robert Ayers suffered an ankle and/or Achilles’ tendon injury in pre-game warm-ups and did not play. RT Bobby Hart injured his knee in the third quarter and had to be helped off of the field. Cornerback Josh Gordy left the game in the second half after suffering a hip injury.

Post-Game Notes: Not playing due to injuries were WR Victor Cruz (calf), OC Weston Richburg (knee), RT/RG Brandon Mosley (back), LT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP), DE Robert Ayers (ankle), DE George Selvie (knee), LB Jon Beason (knee), LB Jonathan Casillas (neck), LB Mark Herzlich (concussion), CB Chykie Brown (knee), CB Chandler Fenner (hamstring), and S Nat Berhe (calf).

QB Ricky Stanzi and TE Will Tye were dressed but did not play.

Aug 282015
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (August 14, 2015)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Jets at New York Giants, August 29, 2015

New York Giants fans are in a generally pissy mood. While a number of teams have already been hit hard on the injury front, the Giants have seen over 20 percent of their 90-man roster on the injury report and have already lost four safeties for the season. Throw in the uncertain injury status of important cogs such as Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Weston Richburg, and Jon Beason, and Giants fans fear that medical issues will once again sabotage the season. And we have yet to even play the third preseason game!

The third preseason game is the most important dress rehearsal for the regular season. It’s the game where the starters play the longest – usually at least the first half. And it’s the preseason game where coaches want to see positive performances and consistency. Yet as a fan, at this point, I just find myself not caring about that and just praying no one else gets hurt.


  • WR Victor Cruz (calf – will not play)
  • WR Rueben Randle (knee – expected to play)
  • RT Marshall Newhouse (ankle – expected to play)
  • OC Weston Richburg (knee – will not play)
  • RT/RG Brandon Mosley (back – will not play)
  • LT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP and will not play)
  • DE George Selvie (knee – will not play)
  • LB Jon Beason (knee – will not play)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas (neck – will not play)
  • LB Mark Herzlich (concussion – will not play)
  • CB Chykie Brown (knee – will not play)
  • CB Jayron Hosley (concussion – expected to play)
  • CB Chandler Fenner (hamstring – will not play)
  • S Landon Collins (knee – expected to play)
  • S Nat Berhe (calf – underwent surgery on Friday and will not play)

FOUR DOWNS: No, I’m not lazy… the main questions this team faces remain the same for the third week in a row.

First Down
How will the offensive line perform?
The New York Jets are very talented up front. They are big and physical and this will be a great test for the Giants. Unfortunately, Weston Richburg continues to be bothered by knee tendinitis and did not practice all week. Dallas Reynolds may be starting in his place on Saturday. The Giants have yet to officially move Geoff Schwartz back into the starting line-up at right guard or right tackle either. With the start of the regular season only two weeks away, the offensive line still seems far too unsettled.

Second Down
Can the defense stop the run?
For whatever reason, the coaching staff seems determined to start Cullen Jenkins at defensive end and Markus Kuhn at defensive tackle despite the fact that these two have struggled in holding up at the point-of-attack in the first two preseason games. Fellow starters defensive end Robert Ayers and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins did not play well against the run against the Jaguars either. If the Jets are able to generate decent yardage totals on the ground on Saturday against the starting group, the alarm bells will start to sound. On the other hand, since the starters for both teams will play the entire first half, we may finally get a better gauge on Jay Bromley, Kenrick Ellis, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Kerry Wynn, and Damontre Moore if they are allowed some quality reps against the Jets starting offensive line in the first half.

Third Down
Who will do well or poorly at cornerback?
For the first time this preseason, Prince Amukamara will be on the field alongside Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. That’s the good news. The bad news is we still don’t know who the main nickel corner is, as well as who are the primary back-ups at corner in case a starter gets hurt. The under-the-radar injury that has hurt the Giants is the knee injury suffered by Chykie Brown early in training camp. He should return soon, but he has missed valuable practice time. Jayron Hosley returns this week after missing most of the first preseason game and all of the second with a concussion. Hosley is competing for playing time and a roster spot along with Trevin Wade, Trumaine McBride, Mike Harris, Josh Gordy, and Chandler Fenner. Wade seems to the favorite right now among an uninspiring group.

Fourth Down
How will the new safeties perform?
The football gods must be playing a bad joke on the G-Men. Considered by many the weakest position on the team heading into training camp, the Giants have now lost three players who had a legitimate chance to start in Nat Berhe, Bennett Jackson, and Mykkele Thompson. Worse is that two others – Landon Collins and Cooper Taylor – have missed valuable practice time due to injury. Now the penciled-in starters are veteran journeymen Jeromy Miles (who has yet to flash this preseason) and Brandon Meriweather (who was just picked off the NFL scrap heap). Both lack range. The only other two safeties on the roster are rookie free agents who were only signed because of all of the injuries (Justin Halley and C.J. Conway).

Brandon Meriweather
The Giants desperately need some good fortunate at safety. What they need is for Brandon Meriweather to demonstrate that he can be a viable NFL starter.

Markus Kuhn
Kuhn has been starting at defensive tackle since the May/June OTA’s, but he has yet to demonstrate why. Unless he shows greater stoutness against the run, the decision-making process of the coaching staff will come into question. Jay Bromley and Kenrick Ellis have played better in the preseason.

Johnathan Hankins
For as much grief as Kuhn has received from fans, Johnathan Hankins hasn’t been making much of an impact against the run either yet this preseason. It’s time for him to start rounding his game into form.

Tom Coughlin on what he wants to see from his offensive football team against the Jets: “It is continued improvement for me. The timing of the passing game is not there yet, and it’s got to happen. I thought our protection did a nice job early on (against the Jaguars). We’ll be tested this week, the Jets have an outstanding pressure package – they also have an outstanding front, a big front, so we are going to be tested with regards to that, too. That brings up the idea of some kind of consistency with your run game. We have got to have that. We had it at times the other night (against the Jaguars); we need it more often but we are going up against a very good front, so those would be the ways, you mentioned offense, where we would be looking to see us make progress.”

I hate to admit it, but the injuries are sapping my enthusiasm. The team can’t catch a break. Things could still work out if Landon Collins is as good as advertised, but rookie safeties who miss half the preseason usually don’t excel. The Giants also need Brandon Meriweather to experience an unlikely career renaissance. Can this team stop the run? Can it rush the passer? Can they cover?

Offensively, the injury issues to Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle are not ideal. The top three targets have yet to play in a game together. And the Giants still have not set on what their final offensive line heading into the season will look like. The clock is ticking. The season starts in two weeks.

I feel like the Giants are an Eli Manning or Odell Beckham injury away from a true disaster.