Aug 172021
 
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Sandro Platzgummer, New York Giants (August 14, 2021)

Sandro Platzgummer – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

For the first time since August of 2019, the Giants played a preseason game to remind everybody just how ugly football is when the lower-level players get involved. If anyone doesn’t understand the gap between NFL players that make a 53-man roster and those that just miss out, tell them to watch preseason Week 1. Games this time of year are not very entertaining, nor do they need to be watched very closely by the public. Nothing about them means very much and the reactions to them are often misguided and, to be honest, just flat out asinine. With that said, there are things to look for and note for future reference and that is exactly what this review will be mostly about.

The Giants sat the majority of their starters on both sides of the ball. The offensive line, however, marched out their top group to start the game off protecting backup quarterback Mike Glennon and paving paths for backup running back (and potential week 1 starter) Devontae Booker. They were outclassed to start off the game as the offense went three-and-out, the third play being a sack allowed by second-year tackle Matt Peart.

The Jets marched out their shiny new toy, quarterback Zack Wilson. He, along with a productive running game, marched down the field with some aid from missed tackles by the Giants’ defense. Wilson looked sharp and confident with their timed-based throws against the vanilla Giants defense that didn’t show much complexity. Cornerback Isaac Yiadom came up with a 3rd-and-3 stop on a pass attempt to the newly-signed Corey Davis. The Jets settled for a 30-yard field goal by rookie kicker Chris Naggar. That 3-0 lead would stick until the last 3 minutes of the 3rd quarter.

The Giants’ offense did wake up a bit on the next two drives in the first half, as they crossed midfield on both possessions. Andrew Thomas and Will Hernandez made key blocks on big Corey Clement rushing attempts that gained solid yards multiple times. Clement, however, fumbled on a 1st-and-goal from inside the 5-yard line. It was a major blow that, had this been a regular season game, would have been a major black-eye for the offense.

On the positive side, the Giants’ defense did perform consistently following the first drive. A 4th-and-1 stop by Danny Shelton, a 3rd-and-1 stop by Reggie Ragland, and another 3rd-and-1 stop by Austin Johnson were high points early on. If the Giants are going to be a credible contender in the still-weak NFC East, it will ride on the back of the defense. And with the way injuries mount up in the NFL these days, the defense will at least somewhat ride on the back of the ability of second/third stringers filling in when their respective numbers are called. Shelton and Ragland were very good.

Speaking of backups, the second-, third-, and fourth-stringers were on tap from the midway point of the second quarter-on. Roster hopefuls were hoping to get their opportunities on both sides of the ball. David Sills came down with a 37-yard catch inside the 2-minute warning, sparking some hope that the Giants would get rid of the zero on the scoreboard. The following three plays were incomplete pass, sack, incomplete pass. The second half yielded similar results early on.

The Giants offense went three-and-out on their first two possessions of the second half while the Jets added their first touchdown via a four-yard run by La’Mical Perine. That was three plays after a 3rd-and-18 conversion in which second-year receiver Denzel Mims broke three tackles on his way to the first down that put them inside the 10-yard line. It was an ugly display of tackling, a theme that this defensive staff must be sure to end before Week 1.

The fourth quarter began with the Giants starting an offensive possession near midfield. Thanks to a pass interference by former Big Blue corner Corey Ballentine, they were 1st-and-10 in Jets territory. Thorson missed an open Damion Willis downfield that could have been an easy score before two more incomplete passes that weren’t even close.

The Giants’ defense held on and even created a scoring opportunity themselves, as rookie cornerback Rodarius Williams picked up a fumble and returned it 29 yards to the NYJ 17-yard line. Three plays later, Thorson hit a wide-open Willis this time, beating Ballentine, on a broken down play. The sore was 10-7, Jets up, with 7 minutes remaining.

The Jets bled the clock down a to under 2 minutes, but they pinned Thorson and the Giants offense down inside the 10-yard line for the second time of the half. On the first play, Thorson was rocked by a hard hit in the end zone, resulting in a safety that put the Jets up 12-7. The Jets then took a knee when they got the ball back and the game was over.

Giants lose, 12-7.

QUARTERBACK

-It is crystal clear that Mike Glennon is going to be the backup to Daniel Jones this year. He played 38% of the snaps, while Thorson picked up the remaining. Glennon is an extremely lethargic mover, as there may not be a signal caller in the league with feet as heavy as him. That always makes me nervous when it comes to a backup quarterback. A guy who can’t move without a superior arm doesn’t inspire confidence should the team ever have to turn to him.

-Thorson was really poor. We can’t make a huge deal about a third-string quarterback, but there is no denying his poor performance. He went 5/16 for 72 yards. The touchdown to Willis on a broken down play makes the stat line look much better than it really is. He did make a great throw to David Sills in the first half, though. He was inaccurate on all levels and the timing throws were too late. Late in the game, Thorson was rocked on a sack and needed to be helped off the field.

RUNNING BACK

-Giants fans need to prepare for Saquon Barkley being on the sideline for the first couple weeks potentially. Even if he is back for live action, he will probably have a pitch count he needs to stay under. It will likely come down to newly-signed veterans Devontae Booker and Corey Clement to pick up the slack early on. They combined for 44 yards on 8 carries. Clement was more impressive, as he is known for a no-nonsense style between the tackles. That is the kind of back who will work best to complement a fully-healthy Barkley down the road. The issue with him? It popped up in the 2nd quarter when he fumbled inside the NYJ 5-yard line. The one black eye on his game centers around that, as he has fumbled 6 times in under 100 carries since the start of 2018.

-Sandro Platzgummer rattled off the biggest play of the night for the NYG offense, a 48-yard run up the sideline from the NYG 1-yard line.

-The best blocker of the bunch appears to be Booker and I would include Barkley in that discussion based on what we have seen the past two years. Booker is stout but more importantly, his footwork and sustainability look natural and easy. That is going to be a plus-factor this year.

WIDE RECEIVER

-David Sills has been having a strong camp and it appears the coaching staff wanted to give him as many snaps as possible to make his case for the final WR spot on the roster. He led the group in snaps, catches (3), and yards (49). Those 49 yards were more than the rest of the pass catchers combined. Sills has excellent ball skills, he always has. The issue with him is a lack of top-gear speed. His release looked really good, however. If he wants any shot at making the roster, he needs to prove he can get open on all levels of the route tree. If he can, he can make it happen.

-C.J. Board got the ball a lot. He had a carry on a jet sweep that resulted in a 12-yard gain and 4 returns (2 punt / 2 kick). He dropped a pass, however. Board’s route to making this team will revolve around special teams but if the receiving skill set isn’t there, he will have a hard time fighting off some of the other options.

-Damion Willis is an interesting name. He started a couple games in 2019 with CIN and they were excited about him. He has good size (6’3/209) and a wide catch radius with a bendy frame. He came down with a touchdown and could have had another one if Thorson had thrown the ball inbounds.

-Dante Pettis, another roster-bubble name, had three targets but didn’t come away with any catches. He still looks like the best combination of skills + talent among these back-end guys.

TIGHT END

-Kaden Smith got the start with Kyle Rudolph out. More of the same from him with quality blocking in the trenches and limited separation as a route runner. He will be the unquestioned number 2 guy here until Kyle Rudolph is ready.

-Cole Hikutini had a solid game as a run blocker. He sustained an injury in the 3rd quarter to his hip, so we didn’t get to see a lot of him. They are already thin at the position, as Levine Toilolo is out for the year with an Achilles injury.

-Rysen John added 3 catches. He is someone worth keeping an eye on from a Practice Squad-perspective. He is obviously lacking in traditional body-type and overall power when it comes to the traditional Y-Tight End the Giants use, but there is something about the way he goes after the ball with loose and athletic limbs that could be useable down the road if NYG needs more options in the passing game. He has twitch that the other guys at this spot don’t.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-The starting offensive line (minus guard Shane Lemieux) was on the field for three drives. Andrew Thomas and Will Hernandez both played well in the limited time. If those two take a big step up, this entire offense is going to benefit in a big way. Hernandez looks slimmer and more comfortable moving as a lateral run blocker. He wasn’t tested as much in pass protection from an adjustment perspective, the other glaring hole we have seen over the past three years. Thomas did a nice job against NYJ ‘s newest pass rusher Carl Lawson, who has been tearing it up at camp.

-Matt Peart, the third component to this offensive line that is needed for this offense to operate smoothly, didn’t play well. Nothing about this needs to be analyzed too deeply yet, as this was the first real live action for him and others in a long time. He allowed a sack and a pressure in 18 snaps.

-Kenny Wiggins got the start at left guard and came back in the game following the injury to third-stringer Kyle Murphy. He had a poor game. He allowed 2 pressures, 1 TFL, and 1 sack as he played a team-high 41 offensive snaps.

-The backup group as a whole had an up and down night, very inconsistent. They did sustain pass protection for above-average time on multiple occasions, but they were leaky at times and didn’t get a push in the running game. Center Brett Heggie look overmatched athletically and Chad Slade continues to play with poor balance. The only one who I would have had a positive grade on would have been Jake Burton. I liked his hand violence and footwork.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Nose tackle Danny Shelton is going to be a factor here. He had several dominant snaps where he took on multiple blockers and still impacted the play. He had a TFL on a 4th-and-1 and factored on another 3rd-down stop. Depth along the defensive line is key, and Shelton will be a big part of that. B.J. Hill and Austin Johnson were solid as well.

-Look out for Willie Henry as a potential roster surprise. He is really active and quick in pursuit and may have played with the most violence of all the linemen. He finished with 4 tackles, 1 TFL, and 1 pressure while playing just over a third of the snaps.

-Rookie Raymond Johnson III is another guy I think will be a factor in 2021. Maybe not right away but when injuries pop up, his versatility and explosive first step are traits that transition well in the NFL. He finished with 2 pressures.

LINEBACKER

-Watch out for Carter Coughlin. As stated above, I am very careful to not overreact in either direction early in preseason. That said, Coughlin had a few eye-opening moments in 2020 and he has picked right up where he left off. He was the “defensive player of the game” in my eyes, finishing with 5 tackles and a sack. The college-edge defender is the ultra-hybrid front-seven Swiss army knife who look both comfortable and capable in multiple roles.

-Reggie Ragland played under half the snaps and there is some tightness in his hips as a pass defender, but I liked what he brought to the table. He had a big hit that jarred a ball loose on a 3rd-and-1 conversion attempt. He will be the top ILB backup, something I think we should be happy about because it is a substantial upgrade over what NYG has had in that role lately.

-Tae Crowder missed 2 tackles and Devante Downs had 1. They both pressured the quarterback once each. That spot next to Blake Martinez is going to be very interesting to watch in the coming weeks.

-I liked what I saw out of the edge defenders. Lorenzo Carter didn’t play, but 2nd round rookie Azeez Ojulari did, and he flashed. His pass rush repertoire lacked variety, but the juice out of his stance is noteworthy. That is going to be a factor this year. His run stuff where he got off the big/bad/overrated (and overrated) Mekhi Becton proved this guy is going to be more than a pass rusher as much as that can be proven Week 1 of preseason.

-Niko Lalos and Ifeadi Odenigbo had standout efforts. Lalos was disruptive and active, a true hustler. Odenigbo is a hidden gem, I think. Not a starter, but the ever-important rotational pass rusher who makes his name know later in the year. His footwork and twitch looked very good. Remember, he had 7.5 sacks in 2019.

CORNERBACK

-With James Bradberry and Adoree Jackson out, it was a good opportunity to get looks at Isaac Yiadom and rookie Rodarius Williams. Yiadom showed good coverage on Corey Davis. We know what we have in him, a solid but limited veteran who can get the job done for the most part. If he is the team’s number three or four corner, they’re in a good spot. Williams got beat multiple times early on, giving up two 3rd down conversions on the first 2 drives. He played nickel, something I don’t see being an ideal fit for him, but it is possible they just wanted to see him in live action. He bounced back well after a rough start. I liked what I saw out of him.

-Madre Harper led the defense in snaps. He missed 3 tackles on the night and appears to be a few steps behind mentally. I didn’t see it with him last year and still don’t. He was flagged for a pass interference and was roasted in coverage throughout the second half.

SAFETY

-The top three safeties didn’t play (Ryan, McKinney, Peppers). Julian Love and Quincy Wilson are both hybrid defensive backs who saw time in this one. The latter finished with 7 tackles and a couple big hits.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Ryan Santoso: 1/1 XP.

-P Riley Dixon: 6 punts / 43.3 avg / 41.0 net

3 STUDS

-OG Will Hernandez, WR David Sills, LB Carter Coughlin

3 DUDS

-QB Clayton Thorson, OG Kenny Wiggins, DB Madre Harper

3 THOUGHTS ON NYJ

1) I liked what I saw out of Zach Wilson under center. Look, anything you watch in Week 2 preseason needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but there are still things that can show you the arrow is pointing up. Wilson showed a really nice release, he was quick to get the ball out, and he was accurate. That is a good place to start.

2) The Jets have a similar edge-rusher anxiety to NYG. The best player on either team, at that position, may be a 2020 undrafted free agent. Bryce Huff flashed last year in limited time and there have been whispers growing louder and louder from people I respect from that organization that this kid is going to break out. He looked excellent at multiple levels. He finished with 3 tackles / 2 sacks / 1 pressure.

3) I really do like the direction NYJ is heading in. It is mostly about the leadership and support staff they have in place, both on the coaching staff and in the front office. They have extra picks, they’re emphasizing the right things when it comes to personnel, and they have plenty of available money. They are gonna have a solid 4-5 year window coming up. I think they finish at or near .500 this season.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

1) I’ve hinted at this a few times, but wanted to get it out here as well. If there is ONE game that fans need to remain seated with their mouth shut afterward, it is Week 1 of preseason. That is both for positive and negative reviews. The game plans are vanilla, the players are rusty, and the goals this coaching staff have within these games is too deep for many to understand. Don’t get worked up about anything you saw in this one.

2) Should Daniel Jones be playing? My opinion is yes. Year 3 is THE year for a young quarterback. Sure, the fear of injury is alive and well in preseason but it is important he continues to gain experience with the scheme and timing in live action. I think he should be playing at least 4 drives in each of the next 2 games.

3) I have a really good feeling about the NYG defense. Not because of what I saw in this game, but because of what I saw last year and who was added to the unit. Also add in continuity and the fact I think they will be much deeper than a year ago, I think we are finally going to see a top 7-8 defense in the league.

Aug 152021
 
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Reggie Ragland, New York Giants (August 14, 2021)

Reggie Ragland – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK JETS 12 – NEW YORK GIANTS 7…
In a game that the New York Giants treated more like a gloried scrimmage, the New York Jets won 12-7 in the preseason opener for both franchises on Saturday evening at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Aside from the offensive line, the Giants sat most of their starters and the bulk of the game was played by third teamers.

The Giants back-ups on defense did a decent job against the Jets’ first-team offense, which played into the beginning of the second quarter. While the Jets out-gained the Giants in first-half yardage 177 to 101, the Jets only led 3-0 at the half.  Those points came on the Jets’ first offense possession of the game, as they drove 52 yards in 12 plays to set up a 30-yard field goal.

The defensive highlight for the Giants in the first half was defensive linemen Danny Shelton and B.J. Hill stuffing the Jets on 4th-and-1 at the Giants’ 42-yard line early in the second quarter. The Giants’ biggest offensive play of the first half was a 37-yard pass from quarterback Clayton Thorson to wide receiver David Sills. The Giants also had one first-half drive end inside the 10-yard line when running back Corey Clement fumbled the ball away at the Jets’ 3-yard line. Nevertheless, the Giants were held to only eight first downs in the first half, gaining 58 yards on the ground and only 43 through the air.

The Jets went up 10-0 on their second drive in the 3rd quarter, moving the ball 68 yards in 11 plays, culminating with a 4-yard touchdown run. The two offensive highlights for the Giants in the second half were a 48-yard run by running back Sandro Platzgummer and a 21-yard touchdown pass from Thorson to wide receiver Damion Willis, cutting the score to 10-7. The later was set up by a fumble forced by linebacker T.J. Brunson and recovered by cornerback Rodarius Williams.

But any notion of a late-game comeback was snuffed out when Thorson was sacked in the end zone for a safety with less than two minutes to play.

Quarterback Mike Glennon only completed 3-of-7 passes for 20 yards with Thorson completing 5-of-16 passes for 72 yards. The Giants did rush for 105 yards, with Platzgummer and Clement accruing 83 of those yards on nine carries. The leading receiver was Sills (3 catches for 49 yards).

Defensively, linebacker Carter Coughlin had the team’s only sack. Brunson forced a fumble that Rodarius Williams recovered.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT AND HEALTHY SCRATCHES…
RB Saquon Barkley (knee), RB Gary Brightwell (unknown), WR Kenny Golladay (hamstring), WR Kadarius Toney (unknown), WR John Ross (hamstring?), WR Austin Mack (hamstring), TE Kyle Rudolph (PUP – foot), OG Shane Lemieux (knee), OC Jonotthan Harrison (unknown), LB Lorenzo Carter (calf), LB Elerson Smith (hamstring), CB Aaron Robinson (PUP – core muscle), CB Sam Beal (unknown), CB Jarren Williams (unknown), and S Chris Milton (unknown) did not play.

Regarding Toney, Head Coach Joe Judge said after the game, “I’m not gonna disclose any person’s individual injury at this moment, but we hope to get him out there this week… You know, he’s been dealing with it for a little bit. Something was aggravated in practice towards the tail end of this week, so he was unable to play tonight.”

OG Kyle Murphy left the game late in the first half with an ankle injury and did not return. TE Cole Hikutini left the game in the second half with a hip injury and did not return. LB T.J. Brunson injured his knee late in the game and did not return. QB Clayton Thorson was injured on the play where he was sacked for a safety late in the game.

Others who did not play include QB Daniel Jones, WR Sterling Shepard, TE Evan Engram, OT Nate Solder, OL Ted Larsen, DE Leonard Williams, DE Dexter Lawrence, LB Blake Martinez, LB Oshane Ximines, LB Ryan Anderson, CB James Bradberry, CB Adoree’ Jackson, S Jabrill Peppers, S Logan Ryan, S Xavier McKinney, S Montre Hartage, and PK Graham Gano,

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will address the media on Sunday.

Aug 132021
 
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THE STORYLINE:
Perhaps I’m reading too much into the few clips I saw of the “Fan Fest” at the Meadowlands on Wednesday, but from the players to Head Coach Joe Judge, there seemed to be genuine joy at finally being able to play football in front of a live crowd again. Players danced around like little kids and Coach Judge couldn’t hide his huge grin. Remember, Judge and the players (many of them new Giants added to the team in the last 18 months) were cheated out of a regular, normal season last year. We fans were subjected to the NFL’s version of the “laugh track” as fake fan noise was pumped over TV broadcasts to hide the fact that 22 players were eerily smashing into each without anyone watching in person. The NFL and networks tried to make it seem normal, but we all knew it wasn’t.

Fast forward to August 2021. There are still oddities such as the Giants not allowing fans to attend training camp in person, but then permitting 30,000 fans to intimately congregate in the lower deck of MetLife. But we’ll take what we can get. After all, the NFL knows there are $$$ at stake. It’s why the League decided to add a 17th regular-season game. In order to appease the corrupt NFLPA, they threw the players a bone an eliminated one preseason game. Player development takes yet another hit. And so much the concern for “player safety.” Again, $$$.

But enough with the negative waves. Football is back. In front of actual fans. The Giants are perceived by many as an up-and-coming team in a division filled with question marks. Many fans feel Joe Judge is the right man to bring the team out of its longest dark age period since the 1970s. It’s a time for optimism.

THE INJURY REPORT:
Filling out this section without an actual official injury report is an exercise in futility. Right or wrong, Coach Judge and his medical staff appear excessively cautious in playing anyone with a boo boo. Fans have had to be accustomed to new injury list terminology such as “workload maintenance.” Athletes are now electronically tracked and decisions are made to sit players when the data tells them to do so. Welcome to 2021.

I will mention a few injuries that are at least a bit disheartening. Something seems to be going on with Kadarius Toney that the team is not telling us. Despite being the first player to be activated off of the COVID List, Toney is the one guy who still seems to be very limited in camp. Could COVID be affecting him differently than the other COVID players who have since come off the list? Sure. But Toney was oddly limited throughout the OTA period too. Something reeks of another underlying injury issue. Pure speculation on my part.

Also, TE Kyle Rudolph is still on the PUP and doesn’t appear close to returning. OLB Elerson Smith has missed almost all of camp with a hamstring injury. CB Aaron Robinson (core muscle) hasn’t practiced and is far behind because of offseason surgery. WRs Kenny Golloday (hamstring) and John Ross (hamstring) are both hurt (again) and that’s got to be at least somewhat worrisome to management. WR Austin Mack’s hamstring injury has probably knocked him out of contention for a roster spot.  After a promising early return by OLB Lorenzo Carter (Achilles), he has missed a lot of time with a calf injury. While he is back now, LG Shane Lemieux lost valuable practice time with a knee injury. RB Gary Brightwell has also missed time with an unknown ailment.

That all said, the team is pretty darn healthy at this point. The only serious injury of note was losing 3rd-string TE Levine Toilolo for the season.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Joe Judge made the odd decision to not play Daniel Jones. He said he is going to treat this first preseason game as teams used to play the final preseason game. If true, that means a lot of starters won’t play. However, Judge also later indicated that expected most players to play. So who the heck knows who will play and for how long? Without the starting quarterback, RB Saquon Barkley, WR Kenny Golladay, and TE Kyle Rudolph playing, combined with the fact that the first preseason games are almost always ugly, don’t expect to come out of the first game feeling good about the offense.

So what to watch? Obviously the offensive line. All eyes will be on Andrew Thomas, Shane Lemieux, Nick Gates, Will Hernandez, and Matt Peart. If they play. The Giants could still sit Lemieux and the others may not play much. The Giants are still where they planned to be at tackle. Thomas and Peart starting with Nate Solder backing up both (and Solder has had a good camp according to Judge). But inside depth took a huge hit with the retirements of Zach Fulton (the Giants were counting on him for insurance for Hernandez) and Joe Looney (quality depth behind Gates). If Lemieux and/or Hernandez struggle, the Giants don’t have a lot of fallback options on the roster. Kenny Wiggins has been playing with the first team with Lemieux out, so keep your eye on him. The rest of the second-team OL has really struggled in camp. There really isn’t a decent #4 tackle or guard on the team right now. Expect the Jets to run around these guys with ease. Another reason why Saturday night may be ugly.

What else to watch? The battle behind Saquon Barkley for the #2 running back spot. Devontae Booker has received most of the reps, but Corey Clement has been pressing him. At receiver, the Giants will likely go with Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, and Kadarius Toney, but a whole slew of players are vying for the #5 and #6 spots, including John Ross, David Sills, C.J. Board, and Dante Pettis. This is a very big game for these guys. TE Cole Hikutini has a chance to make the team now with Toilolo done for the year. Lastly, the performance of Mike Glennon is more important than many realize. Daniel Jones has yet to complete a full season without getting hurt.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
Most of the defense seems settled except for the all-important outside linebacker spots. Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence will lead the defensive line up front. The big question here is can Austin Johnson and Danny Shelton adequately replace Dalvin Tomlinson at nose tackle? Depth is provided by B.J. Hill but Raymond Johnson and David Moa have been making some noise at camp. Keep an eye on them.

At inside linebacker, I would expect Blake Martinez and Tae Crowder to start with Reggie Ragland and Carter Coughlin (who can also play outside) providing depth. Outside is more of a mess because of the injury question marks with Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, and Elerson Smith. Is Smith now at risk for being redshirted this year? The good news is that Azeez Ojulari has received a ton of first-team reps and seems primed to take a starting spot sooner than later. But with so many other guys missing, Ifeadi Odenigbo has become more important than expected and some guys who we assumed were not long for the team (Niko Lalos and Trent Harris) remain in the picture. The one guy who I am very curious to watch is Cam Brown. It seems like he is making a play in every practice. There are a lot of bodies here and not many roster spots.

The secondary appears deep and talented. I love the situation at safety with Jabrill Peppers (admittedly an up-and-down player), Logan Ryan, Xavier McKinney, and Julian Love. The studs at cornerback are James Bradberry and Adoree’ Jackson. An underreported absence has been CB Aaron Robinson. Perceived by many as a 1st-round talent, his loss has been ameliorated by the play of CB Rodarius Williams. Still, this team will be much better when Robinson is available and forces Isaac Yiadom and Madre Harper further down on the depth chart. (Though I am curious to see what the Giants have in Harper). CB Darnay Holmes appeared to have a rough start to camp but has been making a lot of plays lately. He’s in a battle with Love for playing time at nickel corner.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Kickers are set even though Ryan Santoso has impressed to the point where the Giants may want to showcase him in the preseason for a possible late-round draft pick. The questions remain in the return game. The Giants unofficial depth chart has John Ross and Jabrill Peppers as the primary kickoff returners and Peppers and Adoree’ Jackson as the primary punt returners. Kadarius Toney is listed #3 in both spots. I wouldn’t want to see the Giants use Peppers or Jackson in the preseason.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Joe Judge on the first preseason game: “So right now we haven’t talked to players about who will be in the game, won’t be in the game and the amount of plays, so I’m not going to go into specifics on each player. We expect the majority of our players to play. There are a couple guys we’ve decided for one reason or another, all different reasons, they won’t play in this game, but we’ll talk to the players later today and make sure they know.

THE FINAL WORD:
I say this every year, but don’t make too much out of the first preseason game. Also, the Jets always take this game much more seriously than the Giants. It’s a weird pride thing for them.

I will say this, the depth situation on the interior of the offensive line is a cause for concern. If Fulton and Looney were there, it would be better. But they aren’t. Guys who will be receiving major playing time up front include Brett Heggie, Chad Slade, Kyle Murphy, Jake Burton, and Jackson Barton. Who? What? Oh boy.

Nov 122019
 
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Darius Slayton, New York Giants (November 10, 2019)

Darius Slayton – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Jets 34 – New York Giants 27

QUICK RECAP

This “battle for New York” had a lot less to do with bragging rights, a lot less to do with potential playoff spots, and more to do with where these two bottom feeders were going to land in the 2020 NFL Draft order. When this game was scheduled, this one had the look of a lot of potential. Two young QBs. The number 2 and number 3 pick from the 2018 NFL Draft, I could go on. But let’s call this for what it really was: a game that had about as much excitement surrounding it as their annual preseason match-up, a game that meant nothing for either team when it came to the 2019 playoffs.

The Giants were without Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram in addition to two starting offensive linemen, Mike Remmers and Jon Halapio. Even with that, they were the “road” favorite against a Jets team that has some of the worst football on tape in the NFL this season. They have a QB who had 10 turnovers in 5 games. They have a head coach who seems in way over his head. They have a depleted secondary and one of the worst group of pass rushers you can find. This was slated to be a win, right? Ha, come on now, these are the 2019 New York Giants you are talking about.

NYJ began the game with a 13-play, 75-yard drive touchdown scoring drive after they converted a 3rd-and-11 and also a 3rd-and-1 via an offsides penalty by Markus Golden. The Giants responded with a 3-and-out on their initial drive, with the last play being a sack allowed by Saquon Barkley (his third of the season) and fumble by Jones that did not end up as a turnover.

The Jets then scored a second touchdown in as many drives, this time making veteran leaders Alec Ogletree and Antoine Bethea appear to be stuck in mud as Jamison Crowder ran right by them and into the end zone. It is a hard sell to convince anyone they were actually stuck in mud however, because well, they were playing on turf and it hadn’t rained in a few days. No, they weren’t stuck in mud, they were simply outclassed. NYJ took a 14-0 lead in the first 13 minutes of the game. NYJ came into this game averaging 12 points PER GAME and ranked dead last in offensive yards. This was the third time in four weeks that NYG allowed two touchdowns in the 1st quarter. To be honest, that is hard to do.

Even though it was still considered early in the game, NYG had a sense of urgency on the next drive. Thanks to poor defensive back play and a couple of NYJ penalties, NYG was able to push the ball and score their first touchdown of the game, a pass from Daniel Jones to Darius Slayton. After a statement-drive on defense, NYG had the ball back at their own 39-yard line. Left tackle Nate Solder left the game with a concussion, making it now the majority of the offensive line on the sidelines. NYG was faced with a 4th-and-4 and this was a turning point in the game. Jones found Slayton on a quick slant where he showed elite-level footwork that actually caused the cornerback to fall similar to what Allen Iverson did to defenders with his crossover in the hardwood. Slayton caught the uncontested pass and then used his 4.4 speed in combination with poor pursuit angles by NYJ to make his way to the end zone for a 39-yard score. A poor snap caused the PAT attempt to turn into punter Riley Dixon chucking it into the end zone, thus the Giants remained down 1.

The half ended on a NYJ missed 54-yard field goal attempt and then Daniel Jones getting sacked on 3rd-and-4 from midfield. It was a back-and-forth half between two bad teams and the margin was a one-point deficit for NYG.

The opening drive of the second half, the drive that many coaches say is the most important of the game, lasted three plays. On 3rd-and-1, Jones was sacked by Jamal Adams at the hands of Barkley yet again but this time Adams stripped the ball and returned it for a touchdown. Another lost fumble for Jones, his league leading 10th of the year. Another allowed sack for Barkley, his fourth of the year which also leads the league for backs.

The Giants were able to take advantage of poor NYJ secondary play yet again, as they turned a wide receiver screen to Golden Tate into a 61-yard score on 3rd-and-9. If we didn’t know any better, it almost appeared both teams were putting in their best effort to lose. That notion was strengthened after the score, as Tate was called for pass interference on the 2-point attempt which forced NYG into going for the extra point. That extra point attempt was missed by Aldrick Rosas, his third miss of the year, a season after he missed just one FIELD GOAL last year.

The NYG offense stayed hot, as they put another touchdown on the board via a 15-yard pitch-and-catch to Tate. The Giants offense was hot and the momentum was clearly on their side. They lengthened their lead to 27-21 on a successful 2-point attempt to Bennie Fowler from Jones. The momentum didn’t last long, however.

The Jets put 3 points on the board on their next drive and forced NYG into a 3-and-out as the battle in the trenches was becoming more and more laughable. The Jets then got to the 1-yard line thanks to a Deandre Baker 33-yard pass interference, his second penalty of the day. Le’Veon Bell powered his way into the end zone and just like that, the lead turned into a 4-point deficit.

The NYG offense continued to sputter, punting the ball back to the 32nd-ranked offense in the league, just to see that 32nd-ranked offense in the league march downfield and put another 3 points on the board. It was 34-27 with just over 7 minutes left. The Giants offense couldn’t even think about being aggressive, as the offensive line completely fell apart and Jones could barely reach the end of his drop back before having to evade pressure. The defense did get the ball back twice via stout run defense but it didn’t matter.

Giants lose, 34-27.

QUARTERBACK

-Daniel Jones: 26/40 – 308 yards – 4 TD/0 INT – 121.7 QBR. Jones added 20 yards on 3 carries. When looking at the passing numbers, one could argue this was the top performance have seen out of Jones this season. He, however, did fumble 2 more times, losing one. The lost fumble resulted in a NYJ defensive score. Jones is hard to truly evaluate right now because the offensive line is so poor and the running game is non-existent. He is making all of the simple throws, and I am not undermining that. He is doing so consistently, rarely does he miss, and I would peg “simple throws” at about 80% of the NFL’s passing plays and there are QBs that struggle with them more than you think. Jones’ toughness on his 3rd-and-10 run and in the pocket against the NYJ physical front 5 stood out. A nice game for him but man, those damn fumbles.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 13 att / 1 yard – 5 rec / 20 yards. That isn’t a typo, by the way. Barkley, the supposed foundation of this offense, the 2018 Draft’s 2nd overall pick, the 2018 Rookie of the Year, accrued 1 yard on 13 carries. He had defenders at his feet the instant he touched the ball on almost every carry, he was hesitant when was able to reach the line of scrimmage, and he couldn’t break any tackles. This running game is a complete mess on every level and they tried to throw the ball in space for him one time. The result? A 22-yard gain. Barkley allowed two more sacks and a pressure. We can now rightfully say he is a liability in pass protection. Just terrible.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Darius Slayton: 10 rec / 121 yards / 2 TD. If there is one bright spot of the 2019 season, it is the Jones-to-Slayton connection. Slayton looked like a complete player out there and it is fun to see his fast-track progression. His route running made a cornerback fall on two occasions and he forced two penalties with his explosion out of his breaks. He also showed strength and presence when attacking the ball with a defender on his back twice. Excellent game from him and he looks like a keeper at this point.

-Golden Tate: 4 rec / 95 yards / 2 TD. The more I see Tate, the more I want him around. I know, easy to say after a 2-touchdown game and there are limitations to his game. But I think it is important to have a guy who can make adjustments and quick decisions on the fly. He knows the game exceptionally well, just a really good situational player who plays and thinks fast. He should never be a number one or even a number two target for a team in the passing game, but if he is your three or four, he can be big time.

TIGHT END

-Rhett Ellison: 3 Rec / 42 yards. A quiet game for Ellison, but he did have a 31-yard reception. I also wanted to note he had a few key blocks that resulted in big plays and/or touchdowns. He is really effective in space as a blocker, but not so much in the trenches.

-Kaden Smith, an UDFA who was signed off the SF practice squad, was on the field for 41 snaps to help with the blocking, but he didn’t perform well there. He allowed a TFL and a pressure. Smith graded out as one of the top run blocking TEs in the draft last year and it goes to show the jump in levels it takes to handle NFL defenders from college kids.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-I want to start with the undrafted right tackle Nick Gates, who was in for the injured Mike Remmers. If you have been reading my reports, you know that I have been down on Remmers and don’t think he belongs on the field as a starter even on a bad team. Gates, grade wise, wasn’t any worse. He is notably more athletic with more twitch and initial pop. He did allow a sack and a pressure and got pushed around as a bit in the running game, but it wasn’t anything different that what we have seen from Remmers. Let the kid play there the rest of the season.

-Nate Solder went down early with a concussion. He was replaced with Eric Smith, formerly of the Jets practice squad. He never played a snap at left tackle in practice. Smith has been here since early September and he entered the game as the backup left tackle. I repeat, this coaching staff hasn’t given him one snap at the position in any of the practices. Not one. And he was in charge of protecting the blind side of their rookie QB. Smith allowed 3 sacks, 1 TFL, and 1 pressure. Awful game and yes, he is worse than Solder.

-Inside was a mess too. Spencer Pulley, who Pat Shurmur has called a “starting center in this league” multiple times over the past two years, played awful. If there was one culprit for Barkley gaining 1 yard in this game, it was Pulley. I had a hard time believing what I was seeing when it came to how hard it was for him to maintain blocks. He allowed a TFL, a pressure, and a sack. He also forced Barkley into changing his direction in the backfield upon getting the ball multiple times. He doesn’t belong in the league.

-Guards Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler, the two best lineman on this team, didn’t have their best games. Hernandez is not progressing. He hasn’t gotten any better from his rookie season. He allowed 2 TFL and had a sack wiped off his stat sheet because of a questionable Jets holding call in the secondary. Zeitler was the only player on this line who was above average grade wise, but even he wasn’t getting a push in the running game. Too much give.

EDGE

-Solid game for Markus Golden besides his bonehead offsides penalty and one missed tackle. He finished with 4 tackles / 2 TFL / 1 sack / 2 pressures. This has been another bright spot considering what they got him for contract wise. But every sack he gets will make him more expensive to bring back.

-Youngsters Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines were quiet, finishing with a combined 6 tackles but also 1 pressure and 0 plays behind the line of scrimmage. Ximines has made a few mental mistakes against the run this year but he was more disciplined and active this week.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

-Dalvin Tomlinson seems to have more urgency and desire in his play. Maybe the Leonard Williams trade put him on notice that if he wants a long term deal from this team, he better step up. Step up he did. Tomlinson led the team with 9 tackles while adding a sack. He was all over the field, making hustle plays downfield while also being stout in short-yardage situations. This may have been the best game of his three-year career.

-Speaking of Williams, he was really disruptive. He had 3 tackles, and 5 pressures. That is the most pressures of any NYG defender in one game over the past 3 years. Now, some can say that is a good thing but a pro personnel scout I talk to on a regular basis sent me this text after the game, “Always finds a way to get there, never finds a way to finish. Been a step too slow since day one.” He is going to be a tough guy to figure out over these next 2 months because the narrative is that he oozes talent, but doesn’t seal the deal. We saw more of that in this one.

-Dexter Lawrence can be a maddening player at times. He is definitely making an impact beyond the naked eye and we are seeing more pass rush from him than anyone thought he could bring to the table, but I saw him in a couple different key short-yardage moments just get drilled off the ball. I am hoping he shows more consistency over the second half.

LINEBACKER

-Alec Ogletree had 7 tackles and a pass break up. He really looks thick and choppy out there. I’m not sure if he’s still hurt or his athletic days are simply behind him. The lack of speed and agility at LB has hurt this team more times than I can count. The game is changing and these inside guys just can’t hack it anymore. Davis Mayo added 4 tackles but remains an issue on filling lanes and reaching sidelines.

CORNERBACK

-Deandre Baker’s up-and-down, but more down, season continues. He was flagged twice, one of which was a 33-yard pass interference that put NYJ on the 1-yard line. He had a few plays where he was sticky in coverage, but I was most annoyed on a big play where he showed no urgency in pursuing the soon-to-be 32-year old Demaryius Thomas after the catch. It resulted in a big play and it was inexcusable from a kid whot has hurt this team more than helped.

-Janoris Jenkins quietly had a really good cover game and added 4 tackles.

-Good to see Sam Beal and Corey Ballentine out there. Beal only got in for 10 plays but it was the first time we’ve seen him since NYG took him in the Supplemental Draft two summers ago. Ballentine was targeted early on third down and even though the quicker slot matchups aren’t ideal for him, he didn’t allow a lot of separation and I liked how fast he reacted to the ball once in the air and after the catch.

SAFETY

-Jabrill Peppers is looking better and better each week. There may not be a guy on this team who competes as hard as him play to play, week to week. He finished with 6 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PD, and 2 pressures. He has been a terror when they use him downhill and if this defense can get another 1 or 2 guys like him at LB, the difference would be enormous overall.

-Antoine Bethea finished with 5 tackles and a pass breakup. He also missed 2 tackles, he leads the team in that category, and was outclassed on the Crowder touchdown athletically. I just don’t see a guy with enough reaction speed and I think the game is simply too fast for him.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: No FG attempts. Rosas missed an extra point and is now 19/22 on the year. He is one of 3 kickers in the league with 3 missed extra point attempts.

-P Riley Dixon: 6 Punts / 53.5 avg / 45.5 net

3 STUDS

-QB Daniel Jones, WR Darius Slayton, S Jabrill Peppers

3 DUDS

-OC Spencer Pulley, OT Eric Smith, CB Deandre Baker

3 THOUGHTS ON NYJ

  1. I’ve seen a lot of Jets football in recent years because of the fact they are a local team and a lot of my cross-scouting coincidentally has had me get their game tapes as well. They, as of right now, are so close to the situation that NYG is in that it is almost scary. Young QB on a rookie deal. A piss-poor offensive line. Average at best pass catchers. A really good running back who can’t display even 50% of his potential. Minimal pass rush with no real difference maker there. A do-it-all safety. A young TE who has a high ceiling but has a hard time staying on field. A coach who is hard to trust. Tons of money to spend but a lack of assurance that it will be economically spent. All that and I bet these two will be picking near each other in the draft and will be targeting the same guys.
  1. The Sam Darnold vs. Saquon Barkley debate will be there for as long as those two are in the league. Giants nation was split down the middle whether or not they should take Darnold, widely considered the top QB of the 2018 class and he was available. Well here we are about a year and a half into Darnold’s career and we can agree that he has not been good. Sure, he had a solid stretch in December in no-pressure situations but he has started 19 games and has 27 turnovers. Not much more needs to be said because if he keeps that up he won’t be a starter a few years from now.
  1. I am intrigued to see what General Manager Joe Douglas does this offseason when it comes to building their roster from a pro personnel perspective. It was confirmed that, if he was going to trade star safety Jamal Adams, that DAL was going to have to give one of their top OL Zack Martin or Tyron Smith in return. I liked hearing that, as I still believe no matter what that a team absolutely has to avoid poor offensive line play and it needs to be priority A if the group ever falters. They are going to buy a free agent or two in the offseason, no question. And I think that is the best possible approach.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  1. You know when your own wife, who doesn’t know too much about the details of the game, makes a comment about the QB never making passes on the move unless he is scrambling for his life, that the offense may be too predictable and easy to defend. Jones has proven to be an athletic threat and he has proven he can throw on the move. Why, with this offensive line, do you constantly have Jones sitting in the pocket? It doesn’t work. And while we’re at it, why aren’t you making every effort to give Barkley the ball in space? Traffic runs aren’t working with this offense. Stubborn and lack of innovation and adjustments.
  1. The question with this defensive line is, is there enough room to keep both Tomlinson and Williams long term? Williams will likely demand a much bigger contract because even though the stats aren’t overly impressive, the analytics crowd likes him and they are becoming more and more prominent within personnel circles. I think Tomlinson has value though. I know it is easy to say after what may have been the best game of his career, but there is a lot he can do within different schemes. He is a professional. Works hard, always tries to get better. We want more guys like this around. If I had to choose one because of economics, I am going with Tomlinson.
  1. Would it make sense at some point to shut Barkley down for the rest of the year? He limps off the field every week since he has been back from the ankle injury, he now has a bum shoulder, and it looks like this situation is actually making him a worse running back? I’m not opposed to it if we see more of the same the for another 2-3 weeks.
Nov 102019
 
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The Giants found their destiny.

NEW YORK JETS 34 – NEW YORK GIANTS 27…
In a crapfest game to determine which team is the worst in New Jersey, the New York Giants earned that “honor” by falling to the New York Jets 34-27 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The Giants have lost six games in a row and are now 2-8 on the season.

The Giants quickly fell behind 14-0 in the 1st quarter. The Jets drove the ball the length of the field on their opening drive, going 75 yards in 13 plays and finishing with a 2-yard touchdown run by quarterback Sam Darnold. After a three-and-out by the Giants, the Jets marched 50 yards in nine plays with Darnold throwing a 23-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jamison Crowder.

The Giants got back into the game in the 2nd quarter. The team drove 75 yards in eight plays on their second drive of the game, aided by a 15-yard pass interference penalty on 3rd-and-10. The possession ended with a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Daniel Jones to wide receiver Darius Slayton. After forcing a punt by the Jets, the Giants scored again. On 4th-and-4 from the Jets’ 39-yard line, Jones hit Slayton over the middle on play that went the distance for a touchdown. Unfortunately, the extra point attempt was botched. Jets 14 – Giants 13.

Neither team scored the rest of the half. The Jets went three-and-out. At the 2-minute warning, Pat Shurmur decided to go for it on 4th-and-1 from his own 39-yard line. Jones was stuffed, turning the ball over on downs. However, the Jets could not take advantage of the Giants’ futility as they failed to pick up a first down and then missed the 54-yard field goal attempt. The Giants then went three-and-out and the half ended.

The Giants received the ball to start the 3rd quarter, but that ended with disaster when on the third play, safety Jamal Adams ripped the ball out of Daniel Jones’ hands and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown. Jets 21 – Giants 13.

The Giants quickly cut into that lead. On 3rd-and-9, Jones threw a screen pass to wide receiver Golden Tate who broke the play for a 61-yard touchdown. The 2-point conversion was called back due to an offensive pass interference penalty on Tate. Place kicker Aldrick Rosas then missed the extra point. Jets 21 – Giants 19.

For a brief moment, it looked like the Giants may pull the game out. The defense forced a three-and-out. The offense then drove 64 yards in nine plays, with Jones throwing his fourth touchdown of the game, this one from 15 yards out to Tate on 3rd-and-3. The 2-point conversion attempt to wide receiver Bennie Fowler succeeded and the Giants were up for the first time on the day, 27-21.

The Giants’ defense started to falter again, first giving up a 9-play, 46-yard drive that ended with a 53-yard field goal. The Giants now led 27-24. Not to be outdone, the Giants’ offense now came up small, going three-and-out. It only took the Jets three plays to travel 70 yards, the big play being a 33-yard pass interference penalty called against cornerback Deandre Baker. On the next play, running back Le’Veon Bell scored from one yard out. The Jets were back up for good, 31-27.

The Giants picked up one first down and then punted on 4th-and-2 from their own 44-yard line. Aided by a 47-pass play, the Jets got into field goal range and extended their lead to 34-27 on a 35-yard field goal with about seven and a half minutes remaining in the game.

Again, the Giants picked up one first down but were forced to punt. The Jets went three-and-out and the Giants got the ball back at their 12-yard line with 4:17 left to go. Pass protection was eroding and the Giants went three-and-out, punting on 4th-and-19 from their own 3-yard line. The Jets did not pick up a first down, but by the time the Giants got the ball back, there was only 18 seconds left in the game. The game ended with a fumble by Tate.

Offensively, Jones was 26-of-40 for 308 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. He was also the team’s leading rusher with just 20 yards. Jones’ fumble led to a defensive touchdown and he was sacked SIX times and hit 10 times. Running back Saquon Barkley was held to ONE yard rushing on 13 carries as the Giants only rushed for 23 yards as a team. Jones’ leading target was Slayton, who caught 10 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

The defense allowed 27 points (three touchdowns, two interceptions) to a team that had struggled to score most of the season. The Jets rushed for 76 net yards and passed for 218 net yards. Nose tackle Dalvin Tomlinson and linebacker Markus Golden picked up sacks. But the defense did not force a turnover.

On special teams, the Giants failed on two extra point attempts.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVES AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the Giants were WR Sterling Shepard (concussion), tight end Evan Engram (foot), center Jon Halapio (hamstring), right tackle Mike Remmers (back), QB Alex Tanney, OT/OG Chad Slade, and LB Chris Peace.

Left tackle Nate Solder and cornerback Janoris Jenkins both left the game with concussions.

EVAN BROWN ADDED TO 53-MAN ROSTER, OLSEN PIERRE WAIVED…
On Saturday, the New York Giants signed center Evan Brown from the team’s Practice Squad. To make room for Brown on the 53-man roster, the team waived defensive end Olsen Pierre.

The Giants originally signed Brown as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. While he made the team, Brown was never on the active, game-day roster in 2018. Brown has experience at guard and center.

The Giants signed Pierre as an unrestricted free agent from the Arizona Cardinals in March 2019. The 6’5”, 293-pound Pierre originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Chicago Bears after the 2015 NFL Draft. The Bears cut him in August 2015 and he then signed with the Cardinals. In three seasons with the Cardinals, Pierre has played in 24 games with eight starts, accruing 42 tackles and 5.5 sacks. This year, Olsen played in nine games with the Giants with no starts, being credited with eight tackles and two sacks.

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur will address the media by conference call on Monday. Select players will be available to the media on Tuesday.

Nov 082019
 
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Game Preview: New York Giants at New York Jets, November 10, 2019

THE STORYLINE

In the 1981 so-bad-it’s-a-classic movie “Clash of the Titans”, Zeus told his bastard son Perseus “Find and fulfill your destiny!”

In football, we often talk about measuring sticks or litmus test games against quality opponents. In a perverted, ass-backwards sense, the Giants will face a different kind of litmus test against three of their last seven opponents. The 1-7 Jets, 1-7 Dolphins, and the 1-8 Redskins. I am firmly convinced there is a element of the New York Giants fan base who are refusing to accept just how bad their beloved team has become. More importantly, I am especially convinced that New York Giants ownership and management can’t or won’t see it.

These three “Clash of the Titans” games, starting with the Jets on Sunday, could be quite shocking to these people. To use another movie analogy (“Planet of the Apes”), “Don’t look for (your destiny)… You may not like what you’ll find.”

THE INJURY REPORT

  • WR Sterling Shepard (concussion – out)
  • TE Evan Engram (foot – out)
  • OC Jon Halapio (hamstring – out)
  • RT Mike Remmers (back – doubtful)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE

The Giants just never could get the band all together in 2019. Golden Tate was suspended the first four games. When he came back, Sterling Shepard was lost due to two concussions, missing all but four games. Saquon Barkley suffered a high-ankle sprain, missed three games, and hasn’t looked right since he’s been back. Now Evan Engram is hurt again. He already missed a game earlier this season and will be out this Sunday and possibly longer. Those four ARE the team’s best play-makers. The team’s starting running back and best player, the team’s top two wide receivers, and the team’s top tight end. All missing extended time and never being on the field together as one unit. Pathetic and sad.

In hindsight, the 5-year, $43 million contract given to Shepard this past offseason was a big mistake. So was not trading the injury-prone, poor-blocking Evan Engram before the trading deadline despite reports that the Giants has seriously good offers for his services. But these are the types of mistakes that poorly-managed teams keep making. And the Giants have been an atrociously-managed team for years now.

It’s also become apparent that John Mara hired the wrong coaches to lead this team. Again. Pat Shurmur doesn’t appear to be an offensive guru, lacking any sort of imagination about getting Saquon Barkley in space in the passing game. His game management skills are pathetic as well. Shurmur is now 17-41 (.293). That would be a good batting average, but you can’t do much worse in terms of a W-L percentage. Reports of players-only meetings and Shurmur telling his team this week that it is “make-or-break time” just highlights his futility. And don’t get me started on James “let’s play only two defensive linemen against the Cowboys” Bettcher.

The Giants offense is going to suck again on Sunday, struggling to score even 20 points. (The team is averaging 19.5 points per game). I will be curious to see if Spencer Pulley and Nick Gates cause an uptick in performance on the offensive line, though Gates obviously will go through a lot of rough moments due to his inexperience.

What would I consider a win on Sunday? If Daniel Jones doesn’t fumble. This is what we’ve come to.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

James Bettcher has them fooled. He looks and sounds the part. And the defenses associated with his name performed well in Arizona. But the guy is a clown. He has press corners playing off in coverage. He doesn’t use the high-value assets the Giants have given him up front to his defense’s advantage. The Giants have now allowed 27 points or more in all but one of their games this year. Five times, they have allowed 30 points or more.

I keep repeating myself: the Giants can’t stop the run, they can’t stop the pass, and they don’t force turnovers.

Sam Darnold has looked like dog shit for the Jets the last few games. But expect him to get well against the New York Giants. They all do.

(And oh by the way, Dave Gettleman should have traded Janoris Jenkins before the trade deadline too.)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

Aldrick Rosas has now missed two extra points. Time to start worrying.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

Head Coach Pat Shurmur on his job security: “I’m built for this.”

THE FINAL WORD

The 2-7 Giants versus the 1-7 Jets in the nation’s largest media market! “Clash of the Titans” indeed.

The Giants score less than 20 points per game. Their opponents score about 30 points per game. The Giants lead the league in turnovers with 22. They have only forced 12. Do the math.

The sad question is this: is it better or worse for the Giants to win this game?

Good times.

Aug 112019
 
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Russell Shepard, New York Giants (August 8, 2019)

Russell Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 31 – New York Jets 22

QUICK RECAP

After a busy offseason filled with drama stemming from the trade of star receiver Odell Beckham and the selection of a quarterback at number 6 overall, it was finally time to get down to the important, objective things. Real football against another team. The Giants began their live action against their November 10th opponent, the cross-town rival New York Jets. With several players sitting out because of either protection or injuries or both, this game had a very “backup” feel to it. However these games are the most important part of the evaluation process when it comes to roster decisions. No matter who is on the field or what is going on, there are always multiple players and situations to keep a keen eye on.

The Jets started with the ball and, quite easily, marched down the field for the game’s first score. A Sam Darnold pass to his brand new toy, slot receiver Jamison Crowder, on the drive’s seventh play put Gang Green up 6-0, missing the extra point because of an errant kick by Chandler Catanzaro, his first of two on the night. Eli Manning got one whole drive with the first team offense; a drive that lasted three plays and 4 total yards. The night was clearly planned for the rookie Daniel Jones and his inauguration to NFL game action, and he didn’t disappoint. The first completion of his (preseason) career landed in the hands of Cody Latimer, a simple 5-yard slant to the right side. He then proceeded to fire near-perfect throw after near-perfect throw four more times, the last of which ended up in the hands of Bennie Fowler in the end zone for 6. The night could not have gone better for Jones, albeit in limited action. The storm clouds rolled in and put the game on delay for about an hour, and Head Coach Pat Shurmur decided that Jones had enough for the night.

Alex Tanney came out of the rain delay and hit Russell Shepard on a quick slant to the right and he took it from there. A broken tackle and a foot race, which he won with ease, resulted in a 51-ard touchdown that put the Giants up 14-6. The Jets answered with a touchdown drive of their own, with a Deandre Baker 26-yard pass interference on third down being a key play. Trevor Siemian hit running back Elijah McGuire in the right flat for the score. The two teams traded field goals to end the half and Big Blue led 17-15.

After a shortened halftime (5 minutes), the two teams went scoreless on their first drives respectively. Former Giants 3rd round pick Davis Webb came out for the Jets and threw an interception to, as Pat Shurmur puts it, “the fan favorite within the team” Jake Carlock. Carlock returned it for a 59-yard score and the team absolutely erupted on the sideline like we haven’t seen in quite some time. Webb came back on the next drive and, you guessed it, threw another pick. This time it landed in the arms of Corey Ballentine, the late round draft pick who was shot the same weekend he heard his name called by the Giants. This kid is going to be one of the better stories in the NFL before long, not everyone knows it just yet.

The Giants led 24-15 heading in to the fourth quarter and Kyle Lauletta was now getting his shot to prove he should be the number three guy on the depth chart. He, along with several backup quarterbacks around the league on opening night, put together a solid performance of his own. His highlight of the night was a 31-yard, back-shoulder throw to T.J. Jones for a touchdown. NYG had a commanding 31-15 lead with just over 7:30 left on the clock. Luke Falk, who Adam Gase signed after his former team (MIA) claimed him off waivers last fall, led the longest drive of the night. A 15-play, 7:17 series that ended with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Greg Dortch, one of the hot names coming out of Jets camp. This, too, was a toss and catch to the right flat (the third one of the night, more on that later).

Giants knelt on the ball with just a few seconds left and walked away with victory number one on the season.

Giants win 31-22.

QUARTERBACKS

-Daniel Jones: 5/5 – 67 yards – 1 TD – 0 INT. This all transpired in one drive and while you won’t hear me overreacting to anything in preseason, it couldn’t have started better. Two key things I see with him on the positive side were accurate ball placement and the athletic/quick release. I am not going to get in to comparing him and Manning just yet, but simply there are things a young, quick-twitched thrower can do that a 15-year veteran cannot.

-Alex Tanney: 14/19 – 190 yards – 1 TD – 0 INT. Tanney played over 50% of the team’s offensive snaps. Shurmur has been touting this kid every opportunity he gets and from the two times I have seen him in practice in combination with tonight’s game, there is something to be happy about. Crisp release and a tight ball, Tanney made a couple big time throws. He can really put some zip on it when he needs to.

-Kyle Lauletta: 9/12 – 116 yards – 1 TD – 0 INT. Gun to my head, Lauletta will be the odd man out when all is said and done after the preseason but he isn’t going to make the decision easy. He kept himself in the conversation with a couple of nicely placed balls, showing accuracy short, intermediate, and long. Job well done for him.

RUNNING BACKS

-Wayne Gallman: 5 att – 13 yards. Personally I don’t think there is any intra-team competition going on for the backup job behind Barkley (who didn’t play). Gallman was on the field for under 20% of the snaps and didn’t really have an opportunity to get going.

-Paul Perkins: 4 att – 9 yards / 2 rec – 8 yards / 1 fumble lost. After missing all of 2018 with a pec injury, the forgotten man (who was this team’s number one back at the start of 2017) had a rough first night back. He continued to show a lack of ability to break tackles, he dropped a pass and most importantly, fumbled the ball that eventually resulted in 3 points for the Jets. The one positive was effective pass protection.

-Rod Smith: 6 att – 12 yards. Nothing stood out from Smith in the game. He is a load and can push the pile, but he looks stiff and lethargic in traffic.

-Jon Hilliman: 2 rec – 16 yards. Hilliman took a nasty helmet-to-knee hit that ended his night early. He didn’t get a ton of time but the coaches have touted him after practice a couple times and I have always liked his north-south mentality. He doesn’t waste time and there is some pop behind his pads. I think there is a chance he can win the number three job.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-The competition for the backup spots will really be something to watch. Alonzo Russell (1 rec – 39 yards) looks like he is the best of the bunch. The sizable, long-strider got behind the defense a couple times but keeps on double-catching the ball. A possession receiver needs to have reliable hands and I am not sold on that aspect of his game yet. Local kid Reggie White, Jr. caught all 4 of his targets for 60 yards, including the best catch of the night where he dove near the sidelines and fully extended for the ball. He has my attention.

-Coaches love veterans because of how reliable they are when it comes to decision-making. Russell Shepard is a step below when it comes to talent compared to some of the younger guys, but his routes are crisp and he rarely drops the ball. His 59-yard touchdown was all him, as he broke up field the instant he grabbed the ball which gave him the angle advantage to burst upfield and outrun the Jets secondary. Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler also offer the veteran presence this team may need at some point. They combined for 4 catches – 56 yards – 1 TD.

-However the name that is continuing to appear on the positive side of the reports is T.J. Jones. He was targeted 6 times and ended with 6 catches for 72 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown pass where he made a great adjustment to the back shoulder with 2 defenders bearing down on him. Jones is playing hungry. The fact he handled all 3 punt returns for NYG strengthens the notion he is a likely candidate to make this team.

TIGHT ENDS

-With Evan Engram on the sideline, Scott Simonson and Rhett Ellison ran with the first and second string. Simonson made solid contact as a blocker. I can tell he added some power to the arsenal. Ellison continued his important, but quiet role with the team. He knows what he is doing out there and plays good assignment football.

-I am interested to see this C.J. Conrad vs. Garrett Dickerson competition should NYG want to keep a fourth tight end. Conrad caught a couple short passes, continuing his “easy hands” outlook and Dickerson caught one himself. There is more speed and twitch to his game.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Nate Solder and Mike Remmers started on the outside with Will Hernandez, Jon Halapio, and Kevin Zeitler manning the inside. That will be the starting five week 1 and it is going to be the best group they have had in a long time. They were on the field for just 11 plays. Solder got pushed around by NYJ linemen Quinnen Williams and Nate Shepherd on a couple of occasions, but other than that I don’t have anything negative to say. I look forward to seeing their snaps increase in the coming weeks.

-Backup tackles Nick Gates and Victor Salako got a lot of playing time, as the second stringers (Chad Wheeler and Brian Mihalik) were sideline with minor injuries.. Gates had a rough night, as he allowed 1 pressure, 1 TFL, and was penalized two times. He is a hustler downfield and plays with a violent style though, but I think he is best suited inside. Salako’s length is a weapon he continues to learn how to use, notably in pass protection. The footwork and balance looks choppy but he had a quiet night, in a good way.

-The interior backups struggled to get a push in the running game. Center Spencer Pulley allowed a TFL, 2 pressures, and was constantly making the backs adjust their initial rushing plans. I don’t think there is a competition for the OC job, Halapio is head and shoulders better. Evan Brown and Chad Slade stood out in pass protection when it came to their anchor in the ground and sticking with their assignments on deep drop backs.

EDGE

-Lorenzo Carter seems to have jumped over Kareem Martin on the depth chart. He and Markus Golden were on the field for 13 snaps. Carter’s offseason of bulk addition while maintaining his speed and explosion is something I discussed last week and I think he is the one guy that could bring this pass rush to the next level. He recorded a TFL. I will be looking for some improvement on post-engagement work from Golden next week.

-Jake Carlock, this year’s energizer bunny, intercepted a pass a returned it for a touchdown. He also recorded 2 tackles and a sack in just 13 plays. He is fighting an uphill battle to make this team but I’ll say this, multiple coaches are going out of their way to praise him, the teammates visibly feed off his energy, and now he is making plays. The pass-rush skill set still has a ways to go when it comes to his technique, but keep on eye on him.

-Oshane Ximines is going to be a part of the edge-rushing arsenal as a rookie, no question. I question the power and pure burst to the edge, but he knows what to do. He can get off contact and his ability to play low while turning the edge can give some blockers a handful. I don’t see big production coming right away, but he can hang.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Dexter Lawrence started off as an inside defender. On two occasions he was washed out by a blocker coming from his outside shoulder. In college he was big and powerful enough to take those unexpected hits and still hold his ground. Not up here. He will need to work on play-reading and awareness. However, in his limited action, it is easy to see how much space he is going to free up for others. Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill saw a handful of snaps and got into the backfield a couple times. Tomlinson looked quick and assertive, I think we are going to see more attacking-style football from him.

-John Jenkins had a solid game. His pad level gets sloppy but he makes plays and disrupts action at the point-of-attack. He batted a pass down and recorded a TFL.

-Roster hopefuls Terrence Fede and R.J. McIntosh were athletic and aggressive. Fede recorded a sack and McIntosh was pursuing in space like an oversized defensive end. 2018 was a washout for him because of medical reasons. I am glad to see him out there and able to work on the skill set because his tools are there.

-7th rounder Chris Slayton is going to be a factor in 2019. The crowded DL will make it tough for him to get on the field initially, but I think his ability to penetrate and locate the action is a weapon. He recorded a TFL.

LINEBACKERS

-Alec Ogletree started with Tae Davis. Davis is never going to win a lot of battles with the OL, but his speed and quickness created a lot in this game. He recorded 5 tackles, including 1 TFL where he snuck through a window and cut the angle of the back to the line beautifully.

-The most competition he has for snaps inside? Rookie Ryan Connelly, who may have had the most impressive night of all the team’s defenders. He finished with 5 tackles and was solid in coverage. When you look for quality LB play, most of it comes from instincts and being around the action. That is what I saw out of Connelly all night. Nothing seemed too fast for him. Looking forward to seeing more.

-B.J. Goodson was in with the 3rd stringers. Him and Jonathan Anderson are stout and physical. The question stems from ability in coverage and the ability to stay healthy. They combined for 7 tackles with Anderson also forcing a fumble. Goodson lost a match-up with slot WR Greg Dortch near the end zone which resulted in a touchdown.

CORNERBACKS

-Rookie Deandre Baker started along with Janoris Jenkins. Baker looks like a pro right now, as I think the learning curve with him is going to be minimal. Shurmur uses the word “gamer” when describing him and I couldn’t agree more, as I used that same description in his college scouting report. He was flagged for a deep pass interference, however.

-The main focus of the position was Corey Ballentine. After seeing him in practice a few times and just being impressed by the tool set, I wanted to see what carried over in to the game. While he did get flagged for a downfield pass interference, the ability is still jumping off the screen. He had a wide receiver-caliber interception at the hands of Davis Webb. He attacked the ball with his hands and came down with it. Really impressive play.

SAFETIES

-Jabrill Peppers dropped an interception on the first drive of the game. It was a great defensive play with a solid read and the catch would have been highlight-reel caliber.

-Julian Love started and ranked 3rd on the team in snaps played. He is playing a hybrid nickel/safety role it looks like. He finished with 3 tackles and a pass break up. He lost leverage on the first NYJ touchdown and one could make the argument that the result was on him.

-Kenny Ladler is making his presence felt with a physical presence coming downfield. He made three really nice hits that jarred the ball carrier backward. That is one barometer I look for in a tackler when determining how physical they are; can they knock them back? Ladler passed that test multiple times.

-I watched the All-22, the view from the end zone, and the safeties were solid in deep coverage all night.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-Aldrick Rosas hit a chip shot 23 yard field goal. Punters Riley Dixon and Ryan Anderson shared punting duties.

-Ballentine returned a kick for 40 yards, yet another avenue to get this kid on the active game day roster. T.J. Jones handled 3 punts and totaled 6 yards in return.

3 STUDS

-QB Daniel Jones, OLB Jake Carlock, WR T.J. Jones

3 DUDS

-OC Spencer Pulley, OT Nick Gates, RB Paul Perkins

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-One of the most common plays teams around the league will use when near the end zone is stacking multiple receivers on one side, use an unofficial pick-play, and quickly throw the ball in to the flat. Very hard play to defend. Misdirection combined with quick releases can make it look impossible for defenses to communicate quickly enough. NYJ scored all three of their touchdowns on similar patterns. With the inexperience at CB with Baker and S with Love, you can bet that will be noted by future opponents.

-Obviously coaches need to be guarded with what they say to the media. But I do find it odd that Shurmur will not openly commit to Manning being the number one guy when it comes to regular season play. This guy’s livelihood is on the line and there is a part of me that thinks Jones can be in the mix for week 1 more than some think. Odds are Eli is the guy, I know. But I don’t think the 100% commitment has been made yet.

-I was hoping to see more out of Nate Solder. He got a bit of a pass with me in 2018 because of the ongoing neck issue that quietly hampered him. However he doesn’t play nearly as powerful as he looks. It almost looks like the natural leverage disadvantage he has with his height is enabling him to get pushed around. The OL looks to be much improved, but we’ve seen around the league that if the LT is a weak link, it can destroy a passing game.

Aug 082019
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (August 8, 2019)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 31 – NEW YORK JETS 22…
The New York Giants soundly defeated the New York Jets 31-22 in the first preseason game of the year for both teams. The game was elongated by a 60-minute, first-half storm delay. But the three back-up quarterbacks on the Giants shined, cumulatively completing 28-of-36 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Evan Engram were healthy scratches from the contest.

The game started off poorly for the Giants with the Jets’ first-team offense easily driving the length of the field, going 75 yards in seven plays for a touchdown (the extra point was missed). Safety Jabrill Peppers had a chance to stop the drive early but a potential interception sailed through his hands. The Giants’ offense followed that up with a disappointing three-and-out by the starting offense, led by quarterback Eli Manning.

The game began to turn after those first two series. The Giants’ defense forced a three-and-out against back-up quarterback Trevor Siemian of the Jets. On the Giants’ second offensive possession, quarterback Daniel Jones took over and impressively drove the Giants for a touchdown with pinpoint passing, going 5-of-5 for 67 yards. The drive culminated with a 12-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Bennie Fowler. Giants 7 – Jets 6.

The Giants’ defense then forced another three-and-out. But before Jones could come back on the field, the game was delayed 60 minutes due to the weather. When the teams finally returned to the field, both teams sat their starters and important reserves because of the delay. Jones was done for the night.

Alex Tanney took over at quarterback for the Giants and promptly led the team to its second scoring drive. Tanney threw a 14-yard completion to wide receiver T.J. Jones on 3rd-and-10. Two plays later, he connected with wide receiver Russell Shepard on a 51-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. Giants 14 – Jets 6.

The Jets responded with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard touchdown pass on 4th-and-1 to cut the score to 14-12 (the extra point was missed again). After both teams exchanged punts, running back Paul Perkins fumbled the ball away at the Giants’ 16-yard line after a short completion. The Jets converted this turnover into a 34-yard field goal and a 15-14 lead.

With 1:41 left before halftime, Tanney led the Giants on an 8-play, 70-yard drive to set up a 23-yard field goal. At the half, the Giants led 17-15.

Much of the 3rd quarter was taken up by two Giants’ and one Jets’ drive that did not result in points. With about 4:30 left in the quarter, linebacker Jake Carlock batted a pass from ex-Giants’ quarterback Davis Webb, intercepted his own deflection, and returned the pick for a 59-yard touchdown. Giants 24 – Jets 15.

Cornerback Corey Ballentine made an excellent leaping interception on the next series. After an exchange of punts, quarterback Kyle Lauletta led the Giants on a 10-play, 86-yard drive in the 4th quarter that ended with a 31-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver T.J. Jones. Lauletta made two crucial 3rd-down completions on this drive before the touchdown on 3rd-and-7. Giants 31 – Jets 15.

The final Jets’ score came in garbage time, with the Jets driving 75 yards in 15 plays.

On offense, Manning finished 1-of-1 for 3 yards, Jones 5-of-5 for 67 yards and a touchdown, Tanney 14-of-19 for 190 yards and a touchdown, and Lauletta 9-of-12 for 116 yards and a touchdown. The leading receivers were T.J. Jones with 6 catches for 72 yards and Reggie White, Jr. with 4 catches for 60 yards. Giants’ running backs only rushed for 24 yards.

Defensively, the Giants picked off two passes. They also had two sacks but had issues rushing the passer.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
WR Sterling Shepard (thumb), WR Darius Slayton (hamstring), WR Brittan Golden (groin), WR Amba Etta-Tawo (hamstring), OT Chad Wheeler (back), OT Brian Mihalik (burner), OT George Asafo-Adjei (concussion), LB Avery Moss (hip flexor), CB Grant Haley (shoulder), CB Antonio Hamilton (groin), and CB Sam Beal (hamstring) did not play.

RB Jon Hilliman left the game with a concussion.

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur will address the media by conference call on Friday. The players are off on Saturday and return to training camp practice on Sunday.

ARTICLES…

Aug 072019
 
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Evan Engram, New York Giants (December 30, 2018)

Evan Engram – © USA TODAY Sports

Preseason Game Preview: New York Jets at New York Giants, August 8, 2019

THE STORYLINE:
A year ago, it was just becoming more transparent that Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur intended to completely overturn the roster. But the level of roster gutting and transformation in just a year and a half has been truly startling. Even “foundation” draft picks such as Odell Beckham, Jr., Landon Collins, Eli Apple, and Ereck Flowers are gone as well as expensive free agent acquisitions Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon. Hardly anyone is left from just two seasons ago.

What’s clear is that Gettleman and Shurmur didn’t like the way the old team was put together, both in terms of talent (or lack thereof) and personality. On paper, the Giants have gotten bigger and more physical up front on both sides of the ball. For the first time in almost a decade, there is an air of competency on the offensive line with the veteran additions of Nate Solder, Kevin Zeitler, and Mike Remmers, plus the drafting of Will Hernandez. While there remain concerns about the pass rush, few teams can field an imposing trio on the defensive line such as B.J. Hill, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Dexter Lawrence. Aside from B.J. Goodson and Janoris Jenkins, the linebacking corps and secondary has been completely replaced.

The Giants are going old school. They will run the football and stop the run. The passing game is likely to focus on play-action and the short- to intermediate-game. The defense will be young and will have to grow up quickly for the team to surprise.

We all know what the last element to the complete transition will be: the handing off of the reins to Daniel Jones. As long as the Giants remain in the playoff hunt, Eli Manning is likely to remain the starter. But if this team falls out of contention again by October or November, it won’t make much sense to prolong the inevitable.

THE INJURY REPORT:
The following players are not likely to play on Thursday night:

  • WR Sterling Shepard (thumb)
  • WR Darius Slayton (hamstring)
  • WR Brittan Golden (groin)
  • OT Chad Wheeler (back)
  • OT Brian Mihalik (burner)
  • OT George Asafo-Adjei (concussion)
  • LB Avery Moss (unknown)
  • CB Grant Haley (shoulder)
  • CB Sam Beal (hamstring)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
I say the same thing every year: the first preseason game is usually nothing more than a glorified scrimmage. Don’t place too much emphasis – either bad or good – on the outcome. Some starters will not play, and those that do won’t play long. Personally, I wouldn’t even dress Saquon Barkley. And this team is a much different animal without Saquon in the lineup. The Giants have been easing both offensive tackles, Nate Solder and Mike Remmers, into service since both are coming off of offseason surgery. The bad news for the entire back-up offense is that the top two-back tackles – Brian Mihalik and Chad Wheeler – are out. So is George Asafo-Adjei, who is probably the next best guy. The Jets should feast on third teamers much of the night. I’d be shocked if the offense looks sharp. Daniel Jones will probably have flashbacks to his University of Duke days, running for his life. New York Jets’ Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams tends treat the preseason like the playoffs and will probably be gunning for bear.

All eyes will be on Jones. I hope the back-up line can give him something of a ground game and buy him some time, but I doubt it. The Giants will be forced to play some second- and third-string guards at tackle. What I will be looking at is his presence, poise, and arm strength, particularly on throws outside the hashmarks. If it is a constant jailbreak up front, it will be difficult to get a good read on him. Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta may be in the same boat. I will tell you this… I’d be tempted to sit Eli Manning in the first game just so Daniel Jones can have his initial reps behind the starting unit. Eli doesn’t really need to play in this game.

Giants’ fans know the top two wide receivers will be Sterling Shepard (broken thumb) and Golden Tate (possible 4-game suspension). It is assumed by most that Bennie Fowler, Cody Latimer, Russell Shepard, Alonzo Russell, T.J. Jones, and Da’Mari Scott are journeymen and castoffs on one of the worst wide-receiving units in the NFL. They may be right. At the same time, each of these guys has flashed during practices. Could a guy like Fowler or Jones surprise everyone? Rookie Darius Slayton won’t play, but Reggie White, Jr. has flashed at times.

The Giants need Evan Engram to stay healthy and produce this year like he did late last season. Behind him, Rhett Ellison is steady but unspectacular. Much of my focus will be on Scott Simonson and C.J. Conrad since both may be better suited as true tight ends in a run-first offense. I still think the Giants will carry four tight ends this year.

Given the state of the back-up offensive line, the back-up running backs will probably suffer a similar fate as the back-up quarterbacks in this game. That said, there is a good battle brewing behind Saquon Barkley between Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins, and Rod Smith. All three are not guaranteed to make the roster and all are fighting to be the primary back-up.

On the line, I’m not sure what the Giants will do after the starters leave the game. Undrafted rookie Paul Adams may see the bulk of the action at left tackle. With three other back-up tackles out, no-name guards will have to be shifted outside. Giants fans will be saying to themselves, “Who the heck are Victor Salako, Evan Brown, Nick Gates, and Chad Slade?!?”

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
For good reason, the Giants’ hierarchy has blown up the team’s defense. Not only did the team shift to a completely different 3-4 scheme in 2018, but almost all of the pre-2018 players are gone. All three levels of the defense have been almost completely revamped. The main challenge here is the learning curve. This is a very young defense with many new component parts. Cohesion and chemistry will be lacking. In a league where one mental mistake can easily lead to a long touchdown, the Giants will need the youth to grow up quickly.

On the defensive line, it was assumed that Dexter Lawrence would be the team’s new nose tackle. While Lawrence may see snaps at that spot, it appears James Bettcher would prefer to have B.J. Hill and Lawrence outside in the 3- and 5-technique spots with Dalvin Tomlinson playing the nose. Teams should have trouble running on these three as long as the linebackers and defensive backs maintain their gap responsibilities. Hill surprised with his pass rush last year and if he can build upon that, that would be huge in terms of addressing pass rush concerns. What will be fascinating to see is if Dexter Lawrence can provide any sort of pass-rush presence. He’s probably the only 340-pound “defensive end” in the League. There is not much depth behind these three with only six other players on the current training camp roster. I will be focusing much attention on back-ups R.J. McIntosh and Olsen Pierre. The Giants also need to decide if John Jenkins or Chris Slayton is the better back-up nose tackle candidate. Overall, my hope is that Lawrence-Tomlinson-Hill provide more inside bull-rush/quickness pressure than most teams are accustomed to and press the pocket up the gut and/or free others to take advantage of the chaos they cause.

All eyes will be focused on the outside edge rushers, particularly Lorenzo Carter, Markus Golden, and Oshane Ximines. If the Giants can’t get a pass rush out of two or three of these guys, they will likely be in trouble. Golden has done it before, but has to prove he is past his torn ACL. Carter has earned good reviews in camp, but he has to prove it when the games count. Ximines is the wild card. Inside, it appears that Bettcher has officially delineated between a typical “inside linebacker” and “money backer” – with both being formally identified on the team’s depth chart. The starting insider linebacker is Alec Ogletree with B.J. Goodson backing him up. Bettcher wants more of a linebacker/safety hybrid at the other spot, hence Tae Davis appears to have the starting nod with rookie Ryan Connelly backing him up. Whatever they decide to do, the Giants have been unable to cover tight ends down the middle for almost a decade now. And that’s scary considering Philadelphia is still in the division. Enough is enough.

Wow, did the Giants change the secondary in the offseason! Last year, it was Janoris Jenkins, Landon Collins, and a host of journeymen no-names. Enter Deandre Baker, Julian Love, Corey Ballentine, Jabrill Peppers, and Antoine Bethea. Also factor in Sam Beal, who spent his rookie season on IR. Now the Giants have three new starters, including both safeties. One gets the sense that Bettcher wants Peppers to be the centerpiece of his defense. The coaches quickly gave Baker the starting job in the spring. Love has been spending time both at back-up nickel corner and safety. One of the stars of training camp is Ballentine, who may press for serious playing time. This unit has mix of veterans (Jenkins, Bethea, and Thomas) and green-as-grass youth. It will be interesting to see them develop. Potentially, the Giants could be set in the secondary for many years. But 2019 will likely be a year of growing pains.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
We’ve heard virtually nothing about how Pro Bowl kicker Aldrick Rosas has done in training camp. Let’s hope that 2018 was the start of a wonderful career and not a fluke. Riley Dixon is facing competition from Ryan Anderson. Is it serious?

Losing Corey Coleman for the year was a big blow to the return game. Right now, Cody Latimer, T.J. Jones, and Corey Ballentine are listed as the kickoff returners. Ballentine had success in college returning kickoffs.

In two NFL seasons, Jabrill Peppers has returned 55 punts with seven fumbles (a fumble every eight times he touches the ball). He had better clean that up if Shurmur really wants him to be the primary punt returner. In addition, while his 7.3 yards per return is respectable, I’m not sure it justifies the risk of having him return punts unless he starts breaking more. Golden Tate and T.J. Jones are also both listed as punt returners. Jones has averaged 9.2 yards per punt return in four seasons. Tate really hasn’t done much punt returning since 2015.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Pat Shurmur on the first preseason game: “The guys that are playing in this game, we want to see them block, tackle, run, throw, catch, all of the things. It’s going to be less about match-ups and more about execution from that standpoint… There are some healthy guys that have been practicing that you may not see Thursday. ”

THE FINAL WORD:
I think this team will be more fun to watch this year. I just don’t think we’ll see it on Thursday night.

Aug 282018
 
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Ray-Ray Armstrong, New York Giants (August 24, 2018)

Ray-Ray Armstrong – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 22 – New York Jets 16

QUICK RECAP

Week 3 of the preseason is usually perceived to be the closest thing to a real game as we will see before kickoff weekend. Eli Manning was back on the field and played preseason-high 34 snaps, but his star playmakers Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley remained on the sidelines. The Jets on the other hand, sent out their shiny new toy, rookie Sam Darnold, as the starting quarterback as the team tries to figure out what to do at the position week 1.

The Jets took control of the game early, using an 11-play drive to put up their first 7 points of the night via a Bilal Powell touchdown run. After a back and forth exchange that left with NYG winning the field position battle, Hunter Sharp returned a punt for a 55 yard touchdown. It was a precursor for how poorly the Jets’ special teams would play the rest of the night, an ongoing problem for the team so far this preseason.

The Jets then took the lead back early in the second quarter on a Darnold pass to newly signed Terrelle Pryor. This was after a red zone fumble by NYG veteran Jonathan Stewart, whom has had a nightmare-ish start to his career with Big Blue. NYG then settled down and scored on their next four drives, all field goals off the foot of Aldrick Rosas, the clear front-runner for the job. The Jets continued to shoot themselves in the foot with penalties and mental mistakes. NYG took a 19-13 lead into halftime.

Backups dominated the playing time from there on out, as the two teams struggled to string together long drives. It wasn’t until halfway through the fourth quarter where the Jets had a 7+ play drive, as Teddy Bridgewater continued to impress. They were able to get it within 6, but the Giants held off their cross-town rivals 22-16 for the win.

QUARTERBACKS

Eli Manning: 17/23 – 188 yards – 0 TD/0 INT. After sitting out last week in Detroit, Manning was back on the field for what is likely to be his last full dress rehearsal. It was the best version of Manning we have seen in quite some time. Comfortable and confident in the pocket, accurate on all levels, and able to spread it around. The lack of Jets pass rush ability helped, but Manning made some big throws that gave me assurance for this year. He still has it. He did under throw the deep balls a tad, but nothing to be alarmed about. He really does remind me of his brother, Peyton, late in his career with DEN. He may not be able to adjust quickly on the move and he won’t drive the ball downfield like he used to, but he is more than capable of getting the job done.

Davis Webb: 5/11 – 73 yards – 0 TD/0 INT. Webb was in for about a third of the offensive plays. He did get some action against the first team Jets defense. He didn’t do anything to hurt or help himself too much. Very nice touch throw to Russell Shepard on a 3rd and 12 but he also held onto the ball too long in the pocket which resulted in a sack. When Webb has everything lined up, he really is an attractive thrower. It could be much worse when it comes to the backup QBs in this league.

RUNNING BACKS

Jonathan Stewart: 3 att – -7 yards – 0 TD. That isn’t a typo, Stewart finished with negative seven yards. He also fumbled inside the NYJ 10-yard line that Leonard Williams almost returned for a touchdown. I don’t want to write him off after poor preseason performances (10 carries for -5 yards) but he is moving like he has cinderblocks attached to his feet. Lethargic and unable.

Wayne Gallman: 11 att – 23 yards / 4 rec – 19 yards. Gallman continues to impress with his quickness, vision, and explosion. He also had a couple nice blitz pickups in pass protection. There was a stretch in the 3rd quarter where he touched the ball 7 out of 8 plays. He really does have the versatility to be a factor in any kind of situation. Some backup RBs in the league are valuable in only specific situations, but Gallman can bring a lot of options to this offense in any situation.

Juhrell Pressley – 13 att / 71 yards. Signed earlier in the week, Pressley stepped on the field in a NYG uniform for the first time and impressed. I think there is one, maybe even two, spots on the depth chart available at RB. Pressley runs bigger than his size and showed impressive vision and decision making in his debut. I expect him to get a lot of touches in week 4.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Sterling Shepard: 7 rec / 78 yards. I’ll say this right now. If Shepard stays healthy this year, he is going to produce, big time. The attention to detail he shows as a route runner combined with his top-tier quick twitch and stop/go explosion is as dangerous as any slot receiver in the NFL. And yes, I mean that. He made a couple of high-level catches, showing improved ball skills and ability in traffic.

-Cody Latimer: 1 Rec / 54 yards. Latimer hasn’t been used much in preseason, but he took in the longest play of the night via a deep ball from Manning. He really blew by Morris Claiborne and if Eli put that just a little further downfield, it would have been a TD.

-I am still holding onto the idea that Russell Shepard is going to make this team as the number four or five receiver. His experience in the slot and outside gives him the needed versatility and he is a factor on special teams as gunner. In addition, he made another tough catch for a first down in the 3rd quarter that I simply don’t think the other potential backups could have made. Hunter Sharp continues to struggle with drops and despite impressive athletic and return ability; he may be playing his way out of a job. He did return a punt for a touchdown though. Alonzo Russell brought in a 47 yard catch, displaying size and strength. Roger Lewis continues to show why he is near the bottom of the depth chart.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram: 3 rec / 23 yards. His night was short, as on the 5th drive he was sandwiched between two Jets defenders and was popped in the head. He left the game with a concussion for the second year in a row. Like Shepard, Engram is going to be as tough a matchup as there is at the position on 3rd downs. Losing him for any time would be devastating.

-Rhett Ellison also left the game early with migraine issues, opening the door for Jerell Adams and Scott Simonson. Adams was the second most targeted receiver on the night, finishing with 3 catches and 12 yards. Simonson’s avenue to make this team is via blocking, but he didn’t grade out well in this one. He allowed a sack and two tackles. Adams may get this number three spot by default unless someone shakes free during cut down period around the league.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Great night for the left side of the line, especially in pass protection. Nate Solder neutralized everything that was sent his way. Will Hernandez had quiet night (other than a holding penalty) in a good way and looks more comfortable than he did the previous two weeks. With a rookie that is likely to start week 1, that is all you can ask for.

-Ereck Flowers wasn’t matched up against any plus-pass rushers but he did a fine job. He allowed 1 pressure. Patrick Omameh continues to struggle, he just seems heavy and delayed off the snap. He struggled moving to his left, allowing 2 pressures and a tackle for loss. I haven’t seen anything that makes me think he deserves the starting job hands down other than a lack of intra-team competition.

-Another position that may need further examining is center. Brett Jones outplayed Jon Halapio, more notably in the run game. We know that Jones struggles in pass protection and he isn’t one of the new regime’s “guys”, but I trust him more than Halapio. Better movement off the ball and a more consistent level of play. (Note: This was written PRIOR to the trade).

-Chad Wheeler has not taken a step forward this year. His footwork is very poor even though he carries plus-athleticism. He is playing way too off balanced and top heavy. Nick Becton, on the other hand, continues to progress.

EDGE

-Kerry Wynn continues to be the MVP of preseason football. He recorded another sack, a tackle for loss, and 2 QB pressures. He is bringing the heat from all angles against different kinds of blockers. The versatility he brings is huge.

-Olivier Vernon and Kareem Martin both had quiet nights despite playing half the snaps. Martin needs to be a rotational player and if he ends up being one of the feature guys, this pass rush is in trouble. He doesn’t jump the snap and his adjustments take too long.

-Lorenzo Carter doesn’t seem ready for impact play, but I do like how disciplined he is with his techniques and the mental side of the game. It’s important players follow the progression of learning the scheme, consistently do things right, then catch up to the speed of the game. His athleticism is there, but it is going to take time for him to play fast and strong. He finished with a half-sack and 2 assisted tackles.

-Are Avery Moss and Romeo Okwara competing for a last edge spot on this team? If so, I think Okwara wins because he has more inside-outside versatility and brings more upside to the table as an athlete. Moss moved well post-snap, but he doesn’t adjust to blockers with enough power. Weak hands and gets pushed back against the run too easily.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

-Damon Harrison pushed the Jets’ interior blockers where he wanted. He has been shutting down the opposing running games each week and I expect to see more of the same. Not only does he have superior physical presence, but he plays smart. His first step post-snap are almost always productive in that he reads the action instantly.

-Fellow starters Dalvin Tomlinson and rookie B.J. Hill had solid nights as well. More of the same from these two. Tomlinson was a little more active, finishing with a TFL and knockdown. If he is going to be more than a solid player, his pass rush repertoire needs to lengthen. Not looking down on him at all here; he is going to be a part of a very stout run defense. But what he does against the pass right now is limited.

-Josh Mauro had an active night. He has looked better and better each week and it will be adding fuel to the fire on this defensive line when he comes back after his suspension. He finished with 4 tackles, a half sack, and a knockdown. I can’t say this enough, he along with fellow backup Robert Thomas are going to make this defensive front one of the best run defending groups in the league.

LINEBACKERS

-Alec Ogletree finished with 3 tackles, 1 for a loss. He wasn’t tested in coverage much. B.J. Goodson was, however, and he just can’t hang in space with receivers that are crossing the field. I don’t expect him to run with those guys, but he hasn’t showed the anticipation that is needed.

-This brings me to a thought I have had for a couple weeks. After another impressive showing by Ray-Ray Armstrong, is there a chance he takes a hold of that starting spot at some point? He is a much better athlete and his progress as a run defender continues to stand out. He has been making good reads and working his way through traffic, two things he struggled with last year. I think there is more flexibility with Armstrong than there is with Goodson. Something to look for.

-Mark Herzlich and Tae Davis got a lot of action in the second half. Herzlich has been quietly effective. He does a lot of dirty work but he has also been covering a lot of ground in coverage. He was excellent in zone defense.

CORNERBACKS

-Eli Apple saw a lot of playing time, leading the team in snaps. He had an up and down night, recording a pass break up but also getting flagged for holding. The handsy-corner has been showing more of the same. Impressive ability and interesting potential but he just can’t seem to put together a quality game from start to finish. B.W. Webb allowed the Jets touchdown pass on a crossing route to Terrelle Pryor. Just late to read and couldn’t catch up.

-Donte Deayon saw his first action of the preseason. He finished with 4 tackles but also missed one in space. I like the heart he plays with, but he just gets pushed around too much and I think he will be a liability as a tackler. In an aggressive scheme where you will see a lot of 1-on-1 matchups with the corners, that worries me.

SAFETIES

-Landon Collins is playing with great lateral range. Think of this run defense clogging the middle with their line then Collins going unblocked to the sidelines. Just another reason why I think this defense will be elite against the run which will be important in this division.

-Curtis Riley appears to have the spot locked up next to Collins. The hamstring injury to Darian Thompson continues to keep him off the field and Andrew Adams doesn’t appear to be in the running. Michael Thomas is a fine rotational player who will be a factor on special teams. He is tough and productive in the box. Do any of these guys make plays against deep passing? That is another fear I have with this defense that lacks a superior pass rush.

SPECIALISTS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 4/4 (Made 48, 40, 27, 21). Rosas has been getting the opportunities and passing with flying colors. If he can maintain his consistency, I bet he ends up being one of the highest scoring kickers in the league.

-K Marshall Koehn: 1/1 (Made 44). Nice security blanket to have but as long as Rosas is kicking them straight, Koehn won’t be here in a couple weeks.

-P Riley Dixon: 5 punts – 41.0 avg / 33.3 net. Had a few opportunities to pin them tight but he put 2 in the end zone.

3 STUDS

-WR Sterling Shepard, DE Kerry Wynn, K Aldrick Rosas

3 DUDS

-OG Patrick Omameh, OLB Kareem Martin, RB Jonathan Stewart

3 THOUGHTS ON NYJ

-The commentators said this a couple time on Friday and I am sure a few more will repeat it during the season. The Darnold vs. Barkley debate is going to be a thing for their entire careers respectively. I hate that, personally. Two different systems and situations. Two different positions. Regardless, Darnold has gotten a lot of playing time in these first 3 weeks of preseason and nothing has made me think he would have been a better pick than Barkley.

-The Jets may be historically bad when it comes to the pass rush. I’m not only judging their preseason performance here, either. Their personnel, or lack thereof, really stands out. Combine that with a scheme that is overly reliant on blitzing to bring 5+ defenders to the passer, it is just a recipe for a disaster.

-When QB Teddy Bridgewater was coming out of Louisville, I didn’t have the franchise QB grade on him. Good college player and a great intangibles kid, but I didn’t see it. To me, the glaring weakness was a lack of physical presence and a body type that screamed injuries. I still feel that way even though he has had a few nice preseason performances against backups. I think he is an easy kid to root for, thus it sways the overall view on him as a QB.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-Speaking of the poor NYJ pass rush, I was really pleased with the pocket Eli Manning had to work with. When his confidence and assurance is there, he looks like he has more than enough left in the tank. Give him this Shurmur offense that can take advantage of Manning’s mental capacity and pass-versatility, I think this is going to be the best NYG offense we have seen in a long time.

-Three weeks of preseason football and I still think the OC/RG situation has a ways to go in terms of being figured out. The trading of Brett Jones to MIN has all but handed the job to Halapio with John Greco as the primary backup, but as previously mentioned I think that job should still be very much up in the air. And we may have to go back to John Jerry at RG if Omameh doesn’t step it up.

-The next biggest worry of this team resides in the defensive backfield. If the pass rush doesn’t generate a lot of pressure to a point where the QB needs to rush through progressions, I’m just not confident this team can cover. The LBs have been getting torched in the middle of the field, Eli Apple appears to the same thing we have watched in recent years, and the group of below average cover men behind him won’t scare anyone.