Jan 032018
 
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Steve Spagnuolo and Eli Manning, New York Giants (December 31, 2017)

Steve Spagnuolo and Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 18 – Washington Redskins 10

RECAP

The best part about turning the calendar to 2018 is the fact that the Giants 2017 season is officially done with. I have never been so wrong when it came to forecasting a Giants season and it seemed like forever ago when we were at training camp labeling this team a Super Bowl contender. And here we are, week 17 and the duo of John Jerry and Eli Manning were the only 2 offensive starters left on the field against the Redskins.

In front of a half-empty stadium, the Giants and Redskins played through a painful game to watch. An early touchdown by the Giants was the peak of the action as both teams seemed more interested in getting out alive than trying to win a game. The small sense of urgency by NYG stemming from a new General Manager aided the team towards their 18-10 bleeder and 3rd win of the season.

QUARTERBACKS

  • Eli Manning: 10/28 – 132 yards – 1 TD/1 INT. If this were a game full of meaning, the outlook on Manning might be a little lesser. But considering he was playing behind, and throwing the ball to, players who see the majority of their time in the 4th quarter of preseason games, he gets a slight pass. Manning had a season high 8 passes dropped in this one, lengthening his lead among all NFL quarterbacks in that category. Was this Manning’s last game with NYG? My gut says no, he will be back for at least one more year. Whether anyone thinks he still has it or not, there is no denying the fact evaluating his 2017 without acknowledging the fact he had the worst situation to deal with across the board in the NFL this year is not fair. Manning didn’t play well, I will say that. But I’m not sure who would have in this mess of a season.

RUNNING BACKS

  • Orleans Darkwa: 20 att/154 yards – 1 TD. On the game’s second play, Darkwa ran right and cut back inside thanks to two pre-snap audibles by Eli Manning at the line of scrimmage. It was the longest run of his career and 5th TD of the season. Darkwa averaged 4.1 yards per carry throughout the rest of the game and, as usual, dropped a pass. Where the team goes with him from here is very much up in the air, but I respect how hard he runs. This was a breakout year for Darkwa, as prior to this game, his career SEASON high was 153 yards, 1 less than he gained in this game alone.
  • Wayne Gallman: 15 att/89 yards – The explosive, quick accelerator had his share of big runs and outstanding adjustments to the defense. Gallman’s speed and elusiveness were one of the best surprises of 2017 and he needs to be factored into what this team plans on doing in 2018. If they bring in a back, it should be someone who excels in the play-to-play pounding and short-yardage situations. Gallman should have the change-of-pace spot locked up for a couple years, at least. Two things he absolutely needs to clean up, however, both occurred in this game. He had a drop and a fumble. Time to get in the weight room, too.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • Hunter Sharp: 3 rec/29 yards – 1 TD. Overall a very solid game for the second-year pro who was signed just 3 weeks prior. He brought in his first career touchdown pass on the second drive of the game. He showed quality routes throughout but also suffered two drops on consecutive plays later.
  • Travis Rudolph: 1 rec/29 yards. I was hoping to see more opportunities for one of the training camp studs who has been inching his way towards more and more playing time. His one play was an excellent catch and turn up field for a 29 yard gain, the biggest passing gain of the day.

TIGHT ENDS

  • Rhett Ellison: 5 rec/63 yards. A career-high 5 catches for Ellison, a guy the Giants underused all year. He was making catches and plays most are unaware he can make. This guy is much more than a blocking tight end who works hard and the next play caller needs to understand he can be a valuable weapon next year.
  • Jerrell Adams: 0 rec/0 yards. Adams looks the part and will occasionally make the catch in practice that can get you excited. But he had two opportunities, one of which was for a touchdown, and he dropped both. Two years in and looks like he won’t ever be anything more than a quality blocker. That is fine, but it won’t give him a ton of long-term security here.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Tackles: The two long-haired rookies who I got mixed up a few times during training camp were the starters for this game. A rookie 6th round pick on the right side and an UDFA on the left side – that is who was in charge of protecting the immobile Giants quarterback. As run blockers, they both graded out above average. Bisnowaty had a bad game elsewhere. He allowed 2 sacks and 2 pressures in addition to 2 holding penalties. It was the second-worse RT performance of the year only to former Giant Bobby Hart. And boy does it sound good to say former Giant there. Wheeler didn’t play as badly on the left side, but still was shaky with a slightly below average performance. He exceeded what almost every UDFA did in the NFL this year, thus nobody can look down on him. I do think he is in the picture for RT next year.
  • Interior: After a few bad weeks by OC Brett Jones, he put together a very solid performance. He was borderline dominant in the run game and didn’t have any mishaps as a pass blocker. John Greco subbed for John Jerry (concussion) at LG and I’ll tell you what, he played well. The 32-year old had 66 starts to his name prior to this game and he graded out right there with Jones. Right Guard Jon Halapio finished right below the average mark. He allowed 2 pressures and led the line in allowed tackles. Overall a solid year but he won’t be more than a backup moving forward.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Ends: Very solid game from the ends for the second week in a row. Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul combined for 2 sacks and 4 pressures. They were up against backup tackles and provided good gap integrity against the run as well. Neither had a good year or came even close to earning their high cap numbers. With this team being locked into those contracts for at least another year, they are going to be the 2018 starters.
  • Tackles: Damon Harrison ended his second straight season of dominance with NYG. He has been the best player on this team since the beginning of 2016 and will be a building block for next year. If this team runs a 4-3 or a 3-4, he will be the guy in the middle who makes other players better no matter what. Rookie Dalvin Tomlinson had his second best game of the season, totaling 4 tackles and 2 pressures. He had arguably the best year of all the rookie DTs in the league and will be a reliable starter on this team for a long time, no matter the scheme.

LINEBACKERS

  • Kelvin Sheppard intercepted 2 passes and finished with 6 tackles. For a guy who was a street free agent during the beginning of the season, he had a very solid year with the Giants. He probably won’t be a guy that sticks to the roster moving forward, but he had a very respectable year here. Solid inside defender who brings a physical presence to the defense.
  • Devon Kennard recorded his 4th sack of the season and broke up a pass. The versatility this kid has shown all year needs to be factored into his place on this team moving forward. He made a big impact as a pass rusher but is very limited in coverage. If this defense needs an edge presence who can fill LB roles here and there, Kennard will be a keeper.
  • Ray-Ray Armstrong and Calvin Munson are opposite linebackers. Armstrong is a plus athlete who lacks instincts and discipline while Munson is a step slow but has mightily improved his movement post-snap via reads and awareness from the beginning of the season. Neither are guys you make future personnel decisions around, but they do have a shot to stick around.

CORNERBACKS

  • In all honesty with no bias, Ross Cockrell may have played the CB position better than anyone in the NFL over the past 4 weeks. While he hasn’t been overly tested when it comes to quality of his opponent, Cockrell has been dominant. He broke up 4 passes and intercepted another one. He is in the running for a starting job next year and it would be a help when it comes to their approach in FA and the draft if they know he is gonna be the guy.
  • Brandon Dixon and Darryl Morris played the majority of the snaps at CB otherwise, as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie played just about a third of the snaps. Cromartie has a valuable role on this defense, but if his playing is going to hover around 50% or less of the plays, he may not be worth keeping considering his cap number. Dixon earned a right to fight for a roster spot next year with his impressive size, speed, and aggression. He doesn’t have the feel though, as every week I noticed him getting beat by double routes and lacking the balance and body control as he turned.

SAFETIES

  • With Landon Collins out, Andrew Adams took his place. Adams is impressive when the action is in front of him. Other than him missing a tackle, he finished with an impact across the board. He had 6 tackles, one TFL, and a pass breakup. Adams also added a pressure. His coverage is solid underneath, but his stiffness and lack of speed makes him a liability against WRs on an island and in deep coverage. Darian Thompson finished with 7 tackles and no misses. He has been solid in his first season as the starter, but the upside with him is limited. He doesn’t make an impact as a tackler and the deep coverage responsibilities are somewhat hampered by a lack of long speed and acceleration. He would be a very good third safety, but merely an average starter.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • K Aldrick Rosas: 2/2 (Made 23,28). Rosas had yet another extra point blocked early in the game. Hard to say if it his fault or the guys up front blocking. Rosas did not have a good year, too many misses. Kicker might need to be a priority this offseason if a reliable veteran shakes free.
  • P Brad Wing: 9 Punts – 40.3 avg / 33.0 net. A quiet game from Wing with a couple ducks. This was a bad year for Wing overall, especially the stretch early in the year where his late-game mishaps heavily contributed to multiple NYG losses. He should be put on notice.

3 STUDS

  • CB Ross Cockrell, LB Kelvin Sheppard, RB Orleans Darkwa

3 DUDS

  • OT Adam Bisnowaty, TE Jerell Adams, OG Jon Halapio

3 THOUGHTS ON WAS

  • Kirk Cousins had a very poor game. While the surrounding cast can be somewhat blamed, it is games like this that lead some to believe he just cant be the guy a team spend $20+ million on per year.
  • WAS has been in the middle of the pack for 3 straight years. Their progress has been halted and they always seem to be the team that is merely solid, but not scary. It looks like Gruden will get another year, but what is going to change? This is a team that is very well put together in the trenches but there isn’t enough star power at the playmaking positions. At some point Gruden needs to push for an aggressive move personnel wise.
  • Ryan Kerrigan has 47 sacks over the past 4 years and has never missed a game in his career. In 14 career NFC East games, he has 29 sacks which is over 2 per game. If there was one edge rusher in the league who I would call overlooked, it is him. I think he is one of the best players in the NFL. WAS has him locked up through 2020.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  • Initially I was indifferent about the Dave Gettleman hiring but the more I study his tenure in CAR and hear him speak, I think he is exactly what the team needs. Back to “old school”, no-nonsense type approaches on both sides of the ball and in the locker room. He is a guy huge on team culture and laser focus on the big picture. Get the bad apples out, the guys that don’t want to work, and slowly but surely increase the quality of people and players. Odell Beckham will be the most interesting case here. He will definitely will be here in 2018 but if the antics worsen, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him playing elsewhere in 2019. For the record, I want ODB here long term if he can mature at least a little bit.
  • The #2 pick discussion is now the main focus of NYG talk. This has the potential to be a monumental pick for the franchise. It will somewhat be based on what the team does in FA leading up to it. This is my thought, though a lot of us will over-think it and over-complicate it. This is a simple situation, really. Get the best player and I don’t care what position it is. RB, QB, WR, OT, DE…etc. If  a QB meets the grade, it will likely be the best decision for the future of this team over the other spots. If one doesn’t meet the grade, all bets are off. Get a special player and don’t look back.
  • Let’s not overlook that NYG is potentially heading into the offseason without any starting caliber OTs. Flowers had a solid year, but does he want to be here? Is he going to work hard for 365 days? Is he better suited at RG or RT? Wheeler, is he a 3rd tackle or a starter? Remember this, Gettleman values the trenches as much as anyone. With this current group in shambles, he may put a ton of resources into it via FA and the draft before he tries to plug other holes.
Dec 312017
 
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Jim Schwartz, Philadelphia Eagles (November 19, 2017)

Jim Schwartz – © USA TODAY Sports

REPORT: GIANTS INTERESTED IN JIM SCHWARTZ…
ESPN is reporting that Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz is one of the front runners – and may be the favorite – for the New York Giants’ head coaching vacancy. Schwartz is expected to interview with the Giants next week.

The 51-year old Schwartz has served as the defensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans (2001-2008), head coach of the Detroit Lions (2009-2013), defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills (2014), and defensive coordinator of the Eagles (2016-2017) in recent years. He was 29–51 (.363) in the regular season and 0-1 in the post-season as Detroit’s head coach.

Meanwhile, The Daily News is reporting that the Giants top head coaching candidates, in order of preference, are Josh McDaniels (New England Patriots offensive coordinator), Matt Patricia (New England Patriots defensive coordinator), Bill O’Brien (head coach of the Houston Texans), Pat Shurmur (Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator), and Schwartz.

REPORT: DAVE GETTLEMAN WILL RUN THE DRAFT…
The Daily News is reporting that New York Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman will not immediately replace recently-fired Vice President of Player Evaluation Marc Ross and that Gettleman will run the 2018 NFL Draft for the Giants instead. Ross had run the team’s drafts under recently-fired General Manager Jerry Reese since 2007.

The Daily News is also reporting that Gettleman is not currently planning any other changes to the front office structure of the Giants. That would suggest that Assistant General Manager Kevin Abrams, who had served as interim general manager after Reese was fired, will be retained as the team’s salary cap expert.

GIANTS WILL PICK SECOND IN THE 2018 NFL DRAFT…
Even though the New York Giants won on Sunday, they will still pick second in the 2018 NFL Draft due to the Indianapolis Colts defeating the Houston Texans 22-13. The Cleveland Browns currently have the first pick.

NEW YORK GIANTS 18 – WASHINGTON REDSKINS 10…
The New York Giants ended their historically-dreadful 2017 season with a rare win, defeating the Washington Redskins 18-10. With the victory, the Giants finished the season 3-13. It was also Steve Spagnuolo’s first victory as interim head coach.

With a hodgepodge offensive line of right tackle Adam Bisnowaty, right guard Jon Halapio, center Brett Jones, left guard John Jerry, and left tackle Chad Wheeler, the Giants rushed for 260 yards against the Redskins. Jerry suffered a concussion in the 1st quarter and was replaced early by John Greco.

The Giants out-gained the Redskins in first downs (17 to 10), total net yards (381 to 197), and net yards rushing (260 to 61). Neither team passed for over 140 net yards. The Giants also won the critical turnover battle 3-to-1.

Most of the game’s excitement came within the first seven minutes. On the second offensive snap of the game, running back Orleans Darkwa broke off a 75-yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked. Then on Washington’s third offensive snap, linebacker Kelvin Sheppard intercepted quarterback Kirk Cousins at the Redskins 31-yard line and returned the ball 12 yards to the 19-yard line. Two plays later, quarterback Eli Manning hit wide receiver Hunter Sharp for a 16-yard score. The two-point conversion attempt failed and the Giants were up 12-0.

Washington went three-and-out on their second possession, but the Giants gave the ball right back when Manning’s pass intended for running back Wayne Gallman was intercepted and returned to the NYG 20-yard line. Two plays later, Cousins scrambled into the end zone from 12 yards out to cut the score to 12-7 midway through the 1st quarter. Neither team would reach the end zone again.

The Giants responded with a 9-play, 70-yard drive that set up a successful 23-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas. The Giants now led 15-7. The only points generated in the 2nd quarter came late when Brad Wing’s punt was returned 29 yards to the Giants’ 31-yard line with four seconds to go before halftime. On the half’s final play, Washington kicked a 49-yard field goal to make the score Giants 15 – Redskins 10.

Counting the four punts in the 2nd quarter and three in the 3rd quarter, the Giants punted the ball away seven times in a row in the game. The Giants finally extended their lead to 18-10 after a 10-play, 52-yard drive resulted in a 29-yard field goal early in the 4th quarter.

Meanwhile, the even more anemic Redskins had their seven second-half possessions result in a missed field goal, four punts, and two interceptions – one by cornerback Ross Cockrell and a second by Sheppard late that salted the game away.

Manning finished the game 10-of-28 for 132 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. His leading receiver was tight end Rhett Ellison, who had five catches for 63 yards. Darkwa rushed for 154 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Gallman chipped in with 89 yards on 15 carries.

Defensively, Sheppard (two) and Cockrell (one) had all three of the Giants turnovers on interceptions. Cockrell was also credited with four pass defenses. The Giants also had three sacks with defensive end Olivier Vernon (1.5), defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (0.5), and linebacker Devon Kennard (1.0) all getting to the quarterback.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.

GIANTS 2018 OPPONENTS SET…
The New York Giants will play the following teams during the 2018 NFL regular season:

Home:

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Washington Redskins
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Tennessee Titans
  • Chicago Bears

Away:

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Washington Redskins
  • Carolina Panthers
  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Houston Texans
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • San Francisco 49ers

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the game were wide receiver Sterling Shepard (neck), tight end Evan Engram (rib), offensive tackle Ereck Flowers (groin), defensive end Avery Moss (hip), quarterback Geno Smith, offensive guard Damien Mama, and linebacker Akeem Ayers.

Offensive guard John Jerry (concussion) and defensive tackle Jay Bromley (ankle) left the game and did not return.

Wide receiver Roger Lewis told reporters after the game that he will be having ankle surgery.

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

POST-GAME NOTES…
The New York Giants’ 13 losses are a franchise record. The three victories are the team’s fewest since 1983.

The Giants finished 2-6 in MetLife Stadium, their fewest home victories since they were 1-7 in 2003.

The Giants finished 1-5 in NFC East games and 1-11 in games vs. NFC opponents.

The Giants scored 246 points, their lowest total since they scored 243 in 2003.

Running back Orleans Darkwa’s 75-yard touchdown run was the Giants’ longest run from scrimmage since November 16, 2008, when Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 77 yards vs. Baltimore (but did not score) and Darkwa’s score was the Giants’ longest touchdown run since Bradshaw’s 88-yarder in Buffalo on December 23, 2007.

Darkwa averaged 7.7 yards per carry in the game. The last Giants’ back to average at least that many yards on at least 20 carries was Tiki Barber on December 30, 2006.

The Giants scored two touchdowns in the first 2:42 of a game for the first time since the 1970 merger.

Wide receiver Hunter Sharp is the 50th different receiver to catch a regular-season touchdown pass from quarterback Eli Manning.

Manning played in his 216th regular-season game. He shares the franchise record with Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Strahan.

Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson is the first Giants’ rookie defensive lineman to start 16 games since Barry Cofield in 2006.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Interim Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo and select players will address the media on Monday.

Dec 292017
 
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John Mara, New York Giants (December 29, 2017)

John Mara – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Washington Redskins at New York Giants, December 31, 2017

THE STORYLINE:
The most disappointing season in the 93-year old history of the New York Giants finally ends on Sunday. 2017 was an utter disaster on every level, causing the conservative franchise to take steps it rarely has done such as firing a general manager and firing a head coach in-season.

And while many fans want to forget 2017 and focus on the future, it is important to understand the magnitude of the organization’s ineptness. Ownership failed. Team management failed. The coaching staff failed. The public relations staff failed. The training staff failed. Offense, defense, special teams failed. The players behaved like immature assholes from Odell Beckham to Eli Apple to Landon Collins.

The organization failed, from top to bottom. And that does not bode well moving forward. Don’t think so? Keep this in mind:

  • Ownership picked and Ernie Accorsi lobbied for Jerry Reese over Dave Gettleman as the team’s next GM in early 2007. Fast forward a decade later and Accorsi lobbied Mara and Tisch for Gettleman. Oh the irony.
  • In early 2016, ownership decided Tom Coughlin, and not Jerry Reese, was the problem. Ouch.
  • Ownership rushed to hire Ben McAdoo, a man who was clearly over his head, fearing the Philadelphia Eagles would snag him. In hindsight, the Eagles may have successfully goaded the Giants into making a disastrous coaching move. On top of that, McAdoo’s assistant coaching staff was virtually identical to Coughlin’s. Did ownership meddle and mandate the retention of coaches like Steve Spagnuolo, Mike Sullivan, and Tom Quinn?
  • Ownership/management were convinced the 2017 New York Giants were a Super Bowl contender. Instead, no team in Giants’ history has lost more games in one season. If the Giants and Browns played on Sunday, the Browns would probably win. One would hope that the leaders of the franchise would have a better capability for self-analysis.
  • Ben McAdoo was made the scapegoat for the Eli Manning benching, a move that both ownership and management signed off on, but then hid from. The disastrous PR handling of this move caused the Giants to backtrack on a decision that actually had merit, resulting the worst possible outcome. Eli Manning saw his consecutive game streak end and felt pissed on, yet the team still didn’t get a read on Davis Webb. What a waste!

Dave Gettleman has been hired as the team’s next general manager. He may be the perfect selection, the worst, or something in between. Only time will tell. What we do know is the GM search was a farce. Three of the four candidates interviewed were intimately connected to the Giants’ organization and existing culture. Marc Ross was a courtesy and Rooney Rule interviewee. Louis Riddick has been out of the NFL since 2013. Kevin Abrams may have been the only other serious candidate considered, and that’s not a given. Right or wrong, ownership decided to not even seriously consider other options.

  • Pros: No surprises. Gettleman worked for the Giants from 1998 to 2012. He knows the team’s culture from the owners down to the secretaries and janitors. Gettleman is experienced and knows how to evaluate talent. He’s been a GM in the league and knows how to do the job. He was the safe pick. If Gettleman was the pick all along, delaying the inevitable through a dog-and-pony show would have been a waste of time and could have cost the Giants an opportunity to hire a head coach of their choosing.
  • Cons: While he may tweak things here and there, Gettleman is a product, and therefore a representative, of the current team culture. It is highly unlikely there will be many – if any – structural changes in the way the Giants conduct their business. This was clear to many as soon as it was announced that Accorsi would be consulting ownership. It is somewhat disturbing that no outside candidates/approaches were even seriously considered. Mara should not insult our intelligence in claiming that all options were on the table. While Gettleman was the safe choice, he may not have been the best. And at 66, his age is a factor and he will likely only be a short-term solution, which in itself could influence the way he approaches his job.

An interesting indicator to watch will be Marc Ross, the team’s Vice President of Player Evaluation (really Director of College Scouting). If he stays, be worried.

Let’s be clear about one thing: other than ownership, nothing matters more than the general manager. If the Giants have picked the right general manager, they will be OK. If they have picked the wrong guy, the Giants may be entering the 1970s again. But the risks don’t stop there. Gettleman has to pick the right coaching staff and make the right decision at quarterback, including with what to do with either the #2 or #3 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Making the wrong decisions with the coaches or quarterback could set this team back years. And in 2022 or so, we may be going through all of this again as the Giants remain a laughing stock. This is the most critical phase the Giants have gone through since 1979. That year, Pete Rozelle forced George Young on the Giants, which led to Ray Perkins and then Bill Parcells, and Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor.

So as of late December 2017, here’s where we are at in terms of the big picture:

  1. General Manager: Dave Gettleman
  2. Head Coach: ???
  3. Quarterback: ???

The success of those three selections will ultimately determine the fate of the team possibly for the next decade.

Nov 292017
 
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Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants (November 23, 2017)

Janoris Jenkins – © USA TODAY Sports

Washington Redskins 20 – New York Giants 10

RECAP

Following a hard-fought, borderline even emotional, win at home against the Kansas City Chiefs just four days prior to the Giants-Redskins Thanksgiving night match-up gave off the notion there was still plenty of grit left in this team. On the other side, Washington came limping in with a 4-6 record and following a horrific 4th-quarter loss in New Orleans. Their playoff hopes are alive but dwindling. Both teams were missing multiple key starters and we knew these factors, combined with a short week of preparation, would turn this into an old-school street fight between the two bottom feeders of the 2017 NFC East.

Eli Manning made his 210th consecutive start; this one being behind a line that was missing 3 starters (Pugh-Richburg-Fluker) and still without all 3 of his top wide receivers (Beckham-Marshall-Shepard).

The teams traded 3-and-outs to open up the game, with Evan Engram dropping a 3rd-and-4 pass. This was the first of three on the night for the rookie, the NFL’s leader in drops. On the game’s 6th possession, an offense finally ran more than 5 plays, as Washington got the ball across midfield. On 4th-and-1 from the NYG 41-yard line, a Cousins pass was broken up by Darian Thompson. NYG was in business with their best field position of the night as the end of the first quarter approached.

On 3rd-and-7 from the WAS 33-yard line after a few quality plays, Manning was sacked by Washington’s sack leader Ryan Kerrigan at the hands of Chad Wheeler for the second time. The 3rd down opportunity turned into a punt, again.

Following another 3-and-out by WAS where Landon Collins showed signs of all-over-the-field dominance; NYG started their 5th drive of the night on their own 28-yard line. Sixteen plays and 8:29 of game clock later, the Giants were up 3-0 via a 30-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas. The drive was smooth and steady with physical running by Orleans Darkwa, who excelled when running to the right side, and two 19 yard passes, one to Roger Lewis and one to Tavarres King. The lowlight, however, was a terrible misfire by Manning to Shane Vereen on a screen pass that had big play and potentially a touchdown written all over it.

With 1:04 remaining in the half Cousins went deep to Josh Doctson. The pass fell incomplete but Ross Cockrell was flagged for pass interference, a spot foul. That mistake by Cockrell was a 37-yard gain for WAS, putting them in easy field goal range and they were able to tie it at 3 heading into the half.

On the second WAS possession of the 3rd quarter, slot receiver Jamison Crowder provided the two biggest plays. First, a 33-yard reception, most of which was after the catch, and second, a 15-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-goal from the 15-yard line. Cousins ability to evade pressure with eyes downfield was a weapon the Giants defense could not handle.

The Giants offense was stalling and with a 10-3 lead past the halfway point of the 3rd quarter, WAS had the personnel and approach to bleed out the clock. The Redskins, thanks to a couple penalties, were forced into a 3rd-and-18 situation that led to Cousins making an errant throw off the hands of his receiver and into the waiting arms of Janoris Jenkins, who returned the interception for the lone Giants touchdown of the night. Jenkins leads the NFL in pick-sixes since 2011 and despite the negative attention he has gathered in recent weeks, stepped up to make a play that shifted the momentum in a big way.

The end of the 3rd quarter saw a development that beat the Giants up the rest of the way, and that was rookie running back Samaje Perine having his way with the Big Blue front seven. On six carries, he rushed for 50 yards. WAS ended up punting on that drive as the 4th quarter began, but it was a foreshadow of what the Giants would be struggling with on that side of the ball.

Offensively, NYG just couldn’t get anything going. They had four possessions in the 4th quarter, all of which resulted in a combined 12 plays, 44 net yards, one first down and a game-sealing interception with 1:08 left on the clock. Redskins win, 20-10.

QUARTERBACKS

  • Eli Manning: 13/27 – 113 yards – 0 TD/1 INT. The 113 yards and 4.3 yards per attempt were the lowest we have seen out of Manning since 2007. The situation he is in just doesn’t get worse, Cleveland included. The Giants pass catchers lead the league in drops and the offensive line took a step back in comparison to what they have shown in recent weeks. Manning, in addition, misfired on a few occasions and continues his streak of games with more than four negative throws.

RUNNING BACKS

  • Wayne Gallman: 9 att/37 yards. 2 rec/6 yards. More of the same from the 4th round rookie. Gallman is an excellent change-of-pace back who is explosive through traffic with great vision and agility. One of these upcoming games, he is going to break off a long TD. He is due.
  • Orleans Darkwa: 11 att/30 yards. 1 rec/9 yards. Darwka had a nice stretch on NYG’s fifth drive of the game, but that was about it. There was minimal room for him to work with and he isn’t exactly a quick-reaction type back, thus he was being hit before he really got going. Darkwa won’t ever be a guy that can create on his own.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • Roger Lewis: 3 rec/26 yards. With Sterling Shepard still out, I said this would be the opportunity for Lewis to show the organization what he has. After last week’s big performance in the 4th quarter, Lewis did end up getting the most targets among the group. He had a big reception on 3rd down early, but after that he was a non-factor. He continues to struggle gaining any sort of separation against man coverage.
  • Tavarres King: 2 rec/36 yards. King has turned into the one receiver on this team who can create on his own via movement. Whether he is running routes or making high-level receptions, there is some play-maker in him. On two occasions, however, it looked like he ran the wrong route from what I am guessing via the all-22 tape.

TIGHT ENDS

  • Evan Engram: 3 rec/18 yards. Engram is officially in a slump, a rather significant one. He is leading the NFL in drops after adding three more to his season total. It has gotten into his head at this point and it will be up to him to force himself out of this mess. Rookie? Yes. But he needs to get this fixed sooner rather than later. His blocking received an above-average grade for the first time in three weeks, and overall on the year, he has been better than expected in that area.
  • Rhett Ellison: 1 rec/9 yards. From week one, I’ve stated this guy needs to be on the field more than he is and he deserves more targets. He just isn’t in their playbook, it seems. But I don’t think it is a coincidence that the NYG rushing game took a step back this week along with the fact Ellison’s playing time dipped back below the 50% mark.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Tackles: After a very impressive performance on the NYG home turf, undrafted rookie Chad Wheeler came back down to earth in his first road start. He allowed 2 sacks and 4 pressures, as Ryan Kerrigan beat him up inside and out. Ereck Flowers had his worst game in 6 weeks, being called for 2 penalties, allowing 1 pressure, and allowing 1 sack. This was the worst combo-grade we have seen from the tackles since early in the year.
  • Interior: The lack of run-blocking presence was felt without D.J. Fluker in the mix. Jon Halapio made his first career start since being drafted in 2014. As he performed at training camp, he looked stiff and unable to block anything in space and/or after lateral movement. He confirmed that he doesn’t belong on the field with a grade well below average. John Jerry hit the point he has been hitting most of the year on the grading sheet, a few inches below average. He did get some quality movement early, but too often he whiffs and ends up chasing after his man. Brett Jones struggled mightily in pass protection when left alone. He appears over-matched when he is asked to do so. All three interior blockers finished below average on the grading sheet.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Ends: It took 11 weeks, but the Giants finally got plus performances from both of their ends. Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon both played over 85% of the snaps, a feat in and of itself considering the nagging injuries they’ve been dealing with. They combined for 3.5 sacks and 10 tackles. They were active, hustling, and consistent from start to finish. Kerry Wynn played a few snaps but failed to make an impact.
  • Tackles: The three-man rotation of Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Jay Bromley were over-matched by the interior blockers of WAS. Re-watching the tape, it was stunning to see how many times they were being blown off the ball 2-3 yards. It resulted in rookie Samaje Perine netting 100 yards for the second straight week, 97 of which came in the second half alone. Robert Thomas was also very poor in controlling the point-of-attack when he was in. As a group, it was their worst performance to date. Dalvin Tomlinson did record his first career sack.

LINEBACKERS

  • The most decimated unit on the team via injuries seems to he adding a new street free agent each week. Kelvin Sheppard, one of those recent signings, led the group with 7 tackles, as Jonathan Casillas added 6 of his own. Neither are stuffing the running lanes, however. They are struggling to impact the game with speed or power and neither are doing well in coverage, as the middle of the field continues to be the weakness of the NYG pass defense.
  • Devon Kennard has been, and continues to be, one of the season’s bright spots. He recorded another sack via the interior pass rush. His versatility, especially on 3rd downs, is a weapon worth keeping around.
  • Curtis Grant suffered a season-ending injury early in the game.

CORNERBACKS

  • The Giants lone touchdown of the night came from a pick six by Janoris Jenkins, his second of the year. Jenkins played an outstanding game in coverage and after watching the all-22 tape, his effort was not a problem at all. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had a quiet game in a good way, rarely being targeted.
  • With Eli Apple out via a coach’s decision, Ross Cockrell got the start and played every defensive snap. He played a physical game and did a nice job in coverage, allowing under 50% of the balls thrown his way to be completed. Cockrell has been a very solid player considering what NYG had to give up for him. I think he is a keeper as a backup.
  • Unfortunate injury for Donte Deayon, who was going to get the opportunity to show his worth to this team for the future. He broke his arm on a tackle attempt of Jamison Crowder, who had his way with Deayon prior to on a few occasions.

SAFETIES

  • Landon Collins and Darian Thompson shined again. Collins led the team with 14 tackles, 1 of which was for a loss. He was all over the field and did an outstanding job of anticipating plays and snaps. When you have a safety like this, the lack of ability at linebacker isn’t nearly as big of a deal. When this guy is playing a roaming role, especially against the run, he really is top notch. Thompson has improved in coverage mightily since the beginning of the year, being more assertive and quicker to react. He had two very nice, high-level pass break-ups.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • K Aldrick Rosas: 1/1 – Made 30 yds. Quiet night for the rookie kicker. McAdoo could have given him a 38-yard attempt, but opted to go for it on 4th-and-1.
  • P Brad Wing: 9 punts – 41.2 avg. His net average was just 2 yards under his average, a solid number. He pinned WAS inside the 5 once.
  • Return: Kalif Raymond returned 2 punts for a total of 8 yards.

3 STUDS

  • DE Jason Pierre Paul, DE Janoris Jenkins, S Landon Collins

3 DUDS

  • OT Chad Wheeler, DT Jay Bromley, QB Eli Manning

3 THOUGHTS ON WAS

  • Samaje Perine is going to be a factor in this division for a long time. He specializes in short yardage but he will prove to be much more than that. He doesn’t go down on initial contact, always running through arm tackles and grinding out a defense. The combination of him and Chris Thompson in the future will be a tough, tough duo to play against.
  • The Redskins have backed themselves into a corner with Kirk Cousins. They could have locked him up for a solid deal the past two years, but the mishandling is now going to cost them an extra few million per year. At this point, you just can’t let him walk via FA. There is no long term plan in place for WAS behind him and they won’t be picking high enough to select a franchise guy.
  • The WAS offensive line is just, if not more, beat up than the NYG OL. However their backups come in and still played at a solid level. They’ve done a nice job building that group from top to bottom and it is something NYG should look at. Both how they did it and if one of them can be had via FA.

3 THOUGHTS ON NYG

  • I can’t stress this enough: the situation Eli Manning has had to work with is the worst, or second worst to CLE, in the NFL. Everything about this offense when it comes to support of the QB is simply over-matched. Does it mean it is unfair to evaluate his play? Not exactly. There are still things he is doing wrong and/or at a low level each week. However, I’m not sure any QB in the league could succeed in this situation and I mean that.
  • Are we seeing what this defense should have been all year? Collins is all over the field and appears to be in on every play. The ends are disruptive. The cornerbacks have played lock-down coverage the past 2 weeks. What could have been this year….what could have been. They woke up a little too late.
  • Another issue I have had with this front office for years, and I know not everyone agrees, is the lack of resources devoted to the linebacker position. I am just sick and tired of signing street free agents of bottom-feeder type players to fill a role that impacts the run and pass so much. It is a direct relation to why the Giants have been absolutely killed by tight ends and slot receivers over the middle and the run defense has been so inconsistent. One of these years some money and/or a high pick needs to be used on a linebacker or two.
Nov 242017
 
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Thanksgiving Day Disaster

WASHINGTON REDSKINS 20 – NEW YORK GIANTS 10…
Two terrible teams played a terrible football game on Thanksgiving night, with the more pathetic New York Giants falling to the Washington Redskins 17-10 at FedExField in Landover, Maryland. With the loss, the Giants fell to 2-9 on the season.

New York’s offense was a train wreck against one of the NFL’s worst defenses. The Giants accrued only three offensive points, seven first downs, and 170 total net yards (84 yards rushing, 86 net yards passing). Given those statistics, predictably, the Redskins dominated the time of possession by almost 10 minutes.

Despite the impotent offense, the game was tied 3-3 at the half and 10-10 in the 4th quarter because the defense kept the Giants in the game, including a 53-yard, pick-6 interception return by cornerback Janoris Jenkins.

Not counting the kneel down before halftime, the Giants had 12 offensive possessions in the game. These 12 possessions resulted in nine punts, a turnover on downs, an interception, and a field goal. Quarterback Eli Manning was a shadow of his former self, completing just 13-of-27 passes for 113 yards, being sacked four times. Giants’ wide receivers only caught five passes with Roger Lewis “leading” the pack with three catches for 26 yards. Running backs Wayne Gallman and Orleans Darkwa combined for 67 yards on 20 carries.

The Giants only had one drive all night that gained more than one first down. That was their 4-first down, 10-play, 60-yard possession in the second quarter that set up their only offensive points – a 30-yard field goal. The Giants had only three other first downs on their 11 other possessions, with eight of their possessions not making one first down.

To the credit of the New York defense, they kept the Giants in the game until late in the fourth quarter. The Redskins punted four times in the first half, turned over the ball once, and scored their only points of the half off a 4-play, 38-yard drive that resulted in a 28-yard field goal right before halftime.

In the second half, after forcing another punt, the Giants allowed a 6-play, 50-yard drive that was highlighted by two passes from quarterback Kirk Cousins to wide receiver Jamison Crowder, the first for 33 yards and the second a 15-yard touchdown strike on 3rd-and-goal. But after another New York three-and-out on offense, the defense tied the game at 10-10 on Jenkins’ 53-yard interception return.

The game remained tied midway through the fourth quarter, but the Redskins then embarked on their 8-play, 60-yard, game-winning drive that was aided by a questionable defensive holding call on cornerback Ross Cockrell, wiping out a 3rd-and-3 sack. After a 17-yard gain from another Cousins-to-Crowder pass, Cousins threw a 14-yard strike to wide receiver Josh Doctson for the touchdown two plays later with 3:31 left in the game. The Giants turned the football over on downs at their own 19-yard line after Manning was sacked. The Redskins kicked a 33-yard field goal with less than two minutes to play. The game all but ended with a Manning interception.

The Redskins were held to 17 first downs and 323 total net yards. The Giants came into the game with a league-low 14 sacks. The Giants sacked Cousins six times with defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul (2) and Olivier Vernon (1.5) leading the way. Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson (1), defensive tackle Damon Harrison (0.5), and linebacker Devon Kennard (1) also were involved in sacking the quarterback.

Video highlights are available at NFL.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the game were wide receiver Sterling Shepard (illness), guard D.J. Fluker (toe), guard/tackle Justin Pugh (back), linebacker B.J. Goodson (ankle), linebacker Calvin Munson (quad), cornerback Eli Apple, and quarterback Davis Webb.

Linebacker Curtis Grant (knee), linebacker Deontae Skinner (hamstring), and cornerback Donte Deayon (jaw/forearm) all left the game with injuries and did not return. The Bergen Record is reporting that Deayon broke his right forearm.

Cornerback Janoris Jenkins injured his ankle but returned. Jenkins was in a walking boot after the game.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Ben McAdoo and the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Ben McAdoo (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)

LANDON COLLINS NAMED NFC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK…
New York Giants safety Landon Collins was named “NFC Defensive Player of the Week” for his 14-tackle, 1-interception performance against the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday. This is Collins’ third “Defensive Player of the Week Award” in the last two seasons.

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Ben McAdoo and select players will address the media by conference call on Friday.

Nov 222017
 
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Tavarres King, New York Giants (January 1, 2017)

Tavarres King – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Game Preview: New York Giants at Washington Redskins, November 23, 2017

THE STORYLINE:
When Roger Lewis, Jr. came down with that miracle catch in overtime against the Kansas City Chiefs last weekend, I jumped up and yelled, “YES!!!!!!” Two plays later, when place kick Aldrick Rosas kicked the game-winning field goal, I was not sure how I felt. Did the Giants just hurt themselves in the draft? Does the win impact how ownership views the long-term effectiveness of how the team is being run?

To those who say positioning at the top of the draft does not matter, I remind everyone of the nightmare of the 1996 NFL Draft. Drafting 5th, everyone assumed that the Giants would have a shot at Simeon Rice or Jonathan Ogden. But when those two players – along with Keyshawn Johnson and Kevin Hardy – surprisingly went before the NYG pick, the Giants were screwed. The Giants did not need or want Lawrence Phillips. Nobody wanted to trade with the Giants, and they were “forced” to picked a half-blind defensive end from the University of Oklahoma. The lesson of this story? Falling a spot or two at the top of the draft can make all of the difference in the world.

Then there is the management/ownership issue. We all know that the Giants would prefer to not make any changes. It’s not in the team’s DNA. That conservative nature has been a tremendous asset at times, but it has also been a liability too. What we do know is this: a defense that had largely quit the previous two games, including the anemic San Francisco 49ers, decided to show up against the Chiefs. That’s exceptionally maddening. And nothing has changed in terms of evaluating Jerry Reese’s decision-making in the draft and free agency at a number of positions, including both lines and the linebacker position.

So where does this leave us? Two beat-up teams with very little to play for playing on a very short week and a national holiday in front of what is anticipated to be yet another small crowd. Given those circumstances, the Giants can win this game. Moreover, looking at the schedule, the Giants could actually win a few more games before this is over. Again, this leaves me with mixed emotions.

Side Note: Someone asked me this past week why I am not doing my usual game previews that focus on match-ups against the upcoming opponent. The two-fold answer is (1) since the team was done in October, I see these more like preseason game previews, and (2) as we’ve seen in just the past two weeks, match-ups don’t count right now, effort does.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Orleans Darkwa (hamstring – probable)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (illness – questionable)
  • OL Justin Pugh (back – out)
  • OL D.J. Fluker (toe – out)
  • DE Jason Pierre-Paul (knee – probable)
  • DE Olivier Vernon (shoulder – questionable)
  • DT Damon Harrison (ankle/elbow – questionable)
  • DT Dalvin Tomlinson (ankle – probable)
  • LB B.J. Goodson (ankle – out)
  • LB Calvin Munson (quad – doubtful)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas (neck – questionable)
  • LB Kelvin Sheppard (groin – questionable)
  • LS Zak DeOssie (trap – questionable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
One game does not make a trend. Heck, one season does not make a trend (innumerable examples such as RGIII). But have the Giants gotten lucky again with an other undrafted free agent? Chad Wheeler’s first start was beyond encouraging. I’m sure there will be rough moments to come, but if he is a viable NFL starter and Ereck Flowers continues to settle down, then there is at least somewhat of a foundation to work with. Then you factor the emergence of D.J. Fluker, who won’t play this week and will be a free agent, and there are some encouraging signs. Unfortunately and ironically, Justin Pugh (1st round) and Weston Richburg (2nd round) were supposed to be part of the solution, and now they are just question marks who may sign with other teams in the offseason. If Pugh and Richburg are off the team in 2018, those are two more wasted premium picks and holes to fill. Had they panned out, a line of Flowers-Pugh-Richburg-Fluker-Wheeler may have been a solid one.

As for this particular game, with Pugh and Fluker out, it looks like either Jon Halapio or recently-signed journeyman John Greco will start at guard. I’d prefer to see the 26-year old Halapio over the 32-year old Greco at this point. Regardless, the emerging running game will likely take a hit without the physical Fluker in there.

The latest red flag is the Sterling Shepard situation. At first it was supposed to be a migraine, now Ben McAdoo said they are not sure what is going on. Hopefully this isn’t a long-term concussion concern. As Sy’56 addressed in his KC game review, how will Roger Lewis build upon his game-winning catch? Or was this his flash-in-the-pan moment? Moving forward, the Giants have Odell Beckham and Shepard, and not much else in the wide receiving department.

Given the state of the various, makeshift component parts, the Giants offense will continue to struggle for the remainder of the season. The best the Giants can hope for is a 20-point-type “offensive explosion” from this group, and as we saw last Sunday, even that may be pressing it.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
Want to see how much effort is a determining factor in a football game? Watch the exact same Giants defense against the 49ers and the Chiefs. How will the defense perform against the Redskins? Tell me how hard they are going to try first. The Giants held the Chiefs to nine points because defenders such as Janoris Jenkins and Landon Collins decided to play up to their ability. Those two are difference makers when they are on their game.

On the other hand, I would like to single out Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson for continuing to play hard despite their respective injuries. They are not using the 2-8 record as an excuse to sulk or miss time. Harrison comes to work every game even though it is clear that ankle injury is hurting him. Harrison is the type of guy I want on my football team. Give credit to Jerry Reese for spending $$$ on him. But the JPP re-signing still looks like a mistake. And I’m not sure how the Giants will address this in the offseason given the cap hit involved with moving him. These last six games are important for Pierre-Paul’s status.

I was skeptical of the Ross Cockrell trade… Steelers fans were overjoyed when Pittsburgh ditched him. But Cockrell has played at a respectable level. Again, the talent is there in the Giants secondary. Collins, Jenkins, DRC, Cockrell. That’s why the performance of the defense this year is so thoroughly revolting. Give me a couple of stud DTs and a strong secondary, and 9 times out of 10, I show you a very respectable defense. Opinions will vary on the reasons but effort, coaching, outside pass rush, and linebacker play are all contributing factors in the defense’s demise. (Speaking of the pass rush, do you realize the Giants only have 14 sacks?! And as much as we knock JPP, he has 4.5 of those – or 1/3 of the team’s total. No other defender on this team has more than two sacks after 10 games.)

Which brings us to Eli Apple. His development (or lack thereof) in the final six games is probably the top issue to watch on defense during this final stretch. The effort just hasn’t been there. Is that because of his mom’s health situation? Or is the game simply not that important to him? Is he a winning or losing football player? With DRC getting up there in age, if Apple is a 1st-round bust, then the Giants have yet another glaring hole to fill.

Lastly, what a mess at linebacker! B.J. Goodson – who has had injury issues all season – must have a high-ankle sprain to be out this long. Calvin Munson and Jonathan Casillas are still hurting. Even the recently-re-signed Kelvin Sheppard immediately got hurt. The Giants’ linebacking corps will be a patchwork mess on Thursday. Look for the Giants to employ more three-safety looks, hoping not to become too vulnerable against the run.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Aldrick Rosas is going through a shaky period here. He needs a perfect game soon. How bad has the Giants’ return game been this year? The team’s longest kickoff return is 30 yards and longest punt return 20 yards. The Giants are currently 23rd in kickoff returns (20.4 yards per return) and 25th in punt returns (5.8 yards per return). Tom Quinn – meet door.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Ben McAdoo on Roger Lewis, Jr.: “Lewis is a guy that’s been around, he’s a young player, had a big role on special teams, and really grew into his role on offense. You see how important it is to him to develop chemistry with the quarterback. He’s been outspoken on it, and he works hard on it every day in practice. He’s one of our work dogs out there, he really works hard at practice, and it shows up when you look at the numbers each and every day on the GPS, and also the targets as well.”

THE FINAL WORD
It’s always tough for the road team to win on Thursday night. Throw in the 2-8 record and playing on Thanksgiving and it is easy to see the Giants losing this one. That said, the Redskins lost a heart-breaker last week and are extremely banged up. The franchise is practically giving away tickets for free right now so the crowd may be sparse and demoralizing to a team that had been in the playoff hunt. What I expect is a very ugly football game between two bad and beat-up teams. It may be one of those games where you question which team wants to lose it more. Effort and turnovers will most likely be determinative.

Jan 022017
 
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Devon Kennard, New York Giants (January 1, 2017)

Devon Kennard – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 19 – Washington Redskins 10

Overview

This was a strange but encouraging game for the New York Giants. The Washington Redskins had everything to play for – win and they were going to the playoffs; lose and they were staying home. The game really meant nothing for the Giants other than staying sharp and avoiding injuries.

The Giants dominated the first half, sat two of their best players in the second half (Odell Beckham and Janoris Jenkins), allowed the Redskins to tie the game midway through the 4th quarter, and then calmly put the game away late. It was either a testament to a good Giants team peaking at the right time or an immense choke job by the Redskins. Most likely, it was a bit of both.

Regardless, give Ben McAdoo credit. He took a risk taking this game as seriously as he did. And he was rewarded by not only giving his team some momentum going into the playoffs, but he ended the post-season hopes of a hated division rival. In short, the Giants were ready to play a game in which they were at a natural emotional disadvantage.

Giants on Offense

I speculated in my game preview: “My guess is will see a heavy dose of the ground game – both to continue to prime that aspect of the offense for the post-season run, but also to protect Eli.” This is essentially what the Giants appeared to do. The run-to-pass ratio was a startling 40 to 28. The Giants played it VERY conservatively, which did indeed give them a chance to work on their anemic but improving ground attack and protect Eli Manning. At times, the offense had the feel of treating this contest as a preseason game.

The good news is the Giants ran for a season-high 161 yards and dominated the time of possession (35:52 to 24:08). The Giants did not turn the football over. That has happened four times this year, and it is no coincidence that the Giants won all four of those games.

The worries remain however. The Giants have not broken the 20-point mark for five games in row. The offense only scored 13 points against the Redskins, totaling just 17 first downs, 332 total net yards, and 171 net yards passing. The Giants were 6-of-17 (35 percent) on 3rd down, 0-of-1 on 4th down, and 1-of-3 (33 percent) in the red zone. Eight of their 12 possessions (67 percent) resulted in punts. Half of their possessions (six) resulted in three-and-outs, including five in the second half of the game.

Quarterback

In some ways, it has been a good season for Eli Manning, who topped the 4,000-yard mark for the sixth time of his career, and who just about tied his career-high completion percentage figure (63.1 percent). But Manning’s TD-to-INT figures (26-to-16) were disappointing as was his yards-per-pass attempt figure (6.7). To be blunt, the offense took a major step backwards in 2016, as the passing game fell from 7th in 2015 (271.4 yards per game) to 17th in 2016 (242.4 yards per game). Manning threw nine fewer touchdown passes and two more interceptions than he did in 2015.

Against the Redskins, the Giants only generated 13 points on offense. Only four drives gained more than one first down despite a season-high 161 yards rushing and allowing only one sack and two quarterback hits. To be fair to Eli, the Giants played it very conservatively on offense, and Ben McAdoo sat the team’s best offensive weapon for the bulk of the second half. Manning did complete 63 percent of his throws (17-of-27). But those 27 throws only generated 180 yards of offense with 24 percent of that production coming on one pass play for 44 yards. Only one other pass play gained more than 20 yards. Manning’s internal clock is off. He seems to feel pressure when it’s not really there. He misses seeing some open receivers and has been too inaccurate. Manning has also been lucky that some passes have not been picked off, including an early pick-6 chance by Josh Norman in this game.

Running Backs

As I’ve talked about for several weeks, Ben McAdoo and his offensive staff have made a conscious effort to get the ground game going, come hell or high water. The Giants ran the ball 40 times in 68 offensive snaps. The big news was that Paul Perkins was given his first official start and the rookie responded with 102 yards on 21 carries (4.9 yards per carry). This was the first time a Giants running back gained 100 yards during the 2016 season. Perkins had runs of 22 and 14 yards. But there were also key shorter runs like his tough 4-yard gain on 3rd-and-3 on the first scoring drive. Perkins is quicker and more instinctive than Rashad Jennings. There are similarities between Perkins’ late-season emergence and that of Ahmad Bradshaw during his rookie year in 2007. Perkins was targeted twice in the passing game, but both those attempts fell incomplete.

Rashad Jennings still got his touches, carrying the ball 18 times for 52 yards (2.9 yards per carry) and one touchdown. The problem with Jennings is that he simply isn’t producing. He’s averaged only 3.3 yards per run all season. If Perkins is the new Bradshaw, Jennings certainly is not Brandon Jacobs. Jennings caught one pass for five yards.

Wide Receivers

Despite sitting most of the second half, Odell Beckham, Jr. still finished the game as the team’s leading receiver with five catches for 44 yards, three of which came on the lone touchdown drive. Perhaps the most memorable aspect of Beckham’s game was what he didn’t do, that is, retaliate against asshole corner Josh Norman, who was clearly trying to get under his skin.

With only 180 passing yards, the other receivers were fairly quiet. Sterling Shepard caught three passes for 30 yards and gained nine yards on an end-around. Victor Cruz had two catches for just seven yards.

The offensive play of the game was Eli Manning’s perfectly-thrown 44-yard deep pass to Tavarres King (18 snaps) after the Redskins had tied the game 10-10. This play put the Giants in field goal range and enabled the team to regain the lead late in the 4th quarter. Rogers Lewis (16 snaps) and Dwayne Harris (8 snaps at wide receiver) were not targeted.

Tight Ends

Jerell Adams (shoulder) did not play. Larry Donnell (25 snaps) played but was not targeted in the passing game. Will Tye caught four of five passes thrown in his direction and had a team-high 47 receiving yards, including a 24-yarder. The blocking by Tye and Donnell was decent – both were often sent in motion as lead blockers. However, Donnell was flagged with a holding penalty.

Offensive Line

Marshall Newhouse started at right tackle for Bobby Hart (forearm). The offensive line had a solid game. Against a Redskins team that had 37 sacks coming into the game, the line allowed one sack and only two quarterback hits. New York also rushed for a season-high 161 yards. Ereck Flowers was flagged for holding and Newhouse for illegal use of hands, the latter wiping out a 16-yard gain on 3rd-and-8 and leading to a punt. Left guard Justin Pugh gave up the only sack on a spin move by former Giants defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins in the 4th quarter.

Giants on Defense

Coming into this game, the Redskins were 3rd in offense in the NFL, averaging 411 yards and almost 26 points per game. They were 14th in rushing, averaging 4.6 yards per rush, and 2nd in passing. A very aggressive Giants defense – missing Jason Pierre-Paul and sitting Janoris Jenkins in the second half – did the following to Washington:

  • 10 points (0 in the first half)
  • 16 first downs (4 in the first half)
  • 284 net yards (83 in the first half)
  • 38 net yards rushing (10 in the first half)
  • 246 net yards passing (73 in the first half)
  • 3 turnovers
  • 1 defensive score

Washington only had two drives longer than 34 yards. One was an 11-play, 76 yard drive that ended with a touchdown. The other was a 4-play, 57-yard drive that ended with an interception. Washington’s 13 drives resulted in two scores for 10 points, a missed 57-yard field goal, three turnovers, and seven punts. The Redskins came into the game with the FEWEST three-and-outs in the NFL with just 20. New York forced FIVE three-and-outs on Sunday.

Defensive Line

The Washington Redskins have a very good offensive line, yet New York largely controlled the line of scrimmage, holding the NFL’s 14th-ranked rushing attack to a measly 38 yards and 2.5 yards per carry. As expected, given the absence of Jason Pierre-Paul, most of the pass rush came from blitzes as defensive backs had three of New York’s four sacks. The only linemen to register hits on QB Kirk Cousins were Damon Harrison (25 snaps, 4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for a loss) and Olivier Vernon (2 tackles). Harrison’s 10-yard statement sack knocked the Skins back to their own 4-yard line on their second drive. He also broke up a screen pass in the 4th quarter. Romeo Okwara (41 snaps), Owamagbe Odighizuwa (31 snaps), and Kerry Wynn (12 snaps) were shut out in the stat department. Johnathan Hankins (27 snaps), Jay Bromley (8 snaps), and Robert Thomas (6 snaps) were each credited with one tackle.

Linebackers

Keenan Robinson (47 snaps, 7 tackles) and Jonathan Casillas (38 snaps, 6 tackles, 2 pass defenses) were very active, combining for a total of 13 tackles. Devon Kennard (30 snaps, 2 tackles) continues to be employed both at linebacker and defensive end in pass rushing situations. His pass pressure was a factor on Kirk Cousins’ second game-deciding interception. Kelvin Sheppard (10 snaps) only had one tackle, but it was a tone-setting 3rd-and-1 stuff on the Redskins opening possession. Thirteen of Cousins’ 22 completions and 126 of his 287 passing yards went to RB Chris Thompson (6 catches for 37 yards), TE Jordan Reed (5 catches for 40 yards), and TE Vernon Davis (2 catches for 49 yards) – but much of that tight end yardage came against the defensive backs.

Defensive Backs

Janoris Jenkins (23 snaps, 1 tackle, 1 pass defense) sat out the second half with a sore back. He shut out his opponents. Coty Sensabaugh (ankle) and Nat Berhe (concussion) did not play. Redskins wide receivers were held to just nine catches for 161 yards, with 49 yards coming on one pass play to Pierre Garcon, who had four of the nine receptions. Giants killer DeSean Jackson was limited to two catches for 34 yards, and dangerous slot receiver Jamison Crowder only had two catches for 16 yards.

The star of the game was undoubtedly Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC) who had two interceptions, one sack (on 3rd-and-8), and one tackle for a loss. His first interception stopped a scoring threat in the 3rd quarter and his second all but ended the contest when Washington was threatening to tie or win the game. DRC dominated his match-ups. So did Eli Apple (4 tackles) except for the Redskins lone TD drive. Apple first gave up back-to-back plays that gained 33 yards. He then got beaten by TE Jordan Reed for the 1-yard touchdown slant. Apple was very aggressive against the run, helping to blow up two running plays.

Landon Collins led the team with eight tackles and two tackles for losses. He also had a 12-yard sack on 3rd-and-14, as did corner/safety Leon Hall (31 snaps, 4 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss) on 3rd-and-10. Collins did give up a 31-yard completion to TE Vernon Davis on the Redskins field goal drive. He also was flagged with a late hit penalty. Hall saw more playing time at safety at the expense of Andrew Adams (31 snaps, 1 tackle). On Pierre Garcon’s 49-yard catch-and-run, Adams not only got beat in coverage, but he failed to make the tackle after the catch.

Trevin Wade (41 snaps, 4 tackles) ended the game by recovering a fumbled lateral for a touchdown. He did give up an 11-yard completion on 3rd-and-6 on the TD drive when he fell down on the play.

Giants on Special Teams

Robbie Gould made both of his field goals (22 and 40 yards out). He has not missed since coming to New York (10 straight kicks). All four of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks and the Redskins had no kickoff return yardage.

Brad Wing punted eight times, averaging 45.4 yards per punt (but only 37.9 yard net). One of his punts resulted in a touchback. Dangerous punt return Jamison Crowder returned five punts for 40 yards, including a 19-yard return that was factor in setting up Washington’s first score of the game.

The Giants did not return a kickoff. Dwayne Harris returned six punts for 46 yards (7.7 yards per return) with a long of 12 yards.

(New York Giants at Washington Redskins, January 1, 2017)
Jan 022017
 
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Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, New York Giants (January 1, 2017)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

NEW YORK GIANTS 19 – WASHINGTON REDSKINS 10…
In a game that did not mean much to the New York Giants, they played the role of spoiler on Sunday by defeating the Washington Redskins 19-10 in a game Washington had to win in order to make the playoffs. The Giants finished the 2016 regular season with an 11-5 record and 4-2 in the NFC East.

The Giants will face the Green Bay Packers in Wisconsin in the first round of the NFC playoffs on Sunday at 4:40PM ET.

The story of the game was a New York Giants defense that shut down what had been the NFL’s 3rd-ranked offense. Washington was held to 16 first downs, 284 total net yards, and 38 net yards rushing. The defense totaled four sacks, two interceptions, and recovered a late lateral for a touchdown.

The Giants played the game fairly conservatively on offense, calling 40 rushing plays to 28 passing plays. New York accrued a season-high 161-yards rushing, while quarterback Eli Manning completed 17-of-27 passes (with one sack) for just 180 yards. But the Giants dominated time of possession (35:52 to 24:08) and did not turn the football over. The red zone continued to be an issue as the Giants were 1-of-3 (33 percent) in such opportunities.

The Redskins had six first-half possessions, with the first five resulting in punts and the last with a missed 57-yard field goal as time expired. At the half, the Redskins only had four first downs, 73 yards passing, and 10 yards rushing.

After a three-and-out on their first offensive drive, the Giants scored a total of 10 points on their next two possessions. First came a 13-play, 56 yard drive that ended with a 22-yard field goal when the possession stalled at the 4-yard line. Then came an 11-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a 2-yard touchdown run by running back Rashad Jennings. New York’s final two possessions of the first half resulted in punts.

The Giants had a chance to extend their 10-0 lead at the beginning of the 3rd quarter after driving 59 yards in eight plays to the Washington 16-yard line. But instead of kicking the field goal, Head Coach Ben McAdoo decided to go for it on 4th-and-2. Manning’s pass to wide receiver Odell Beckham was incomplete and the Giants turned the football over on downs.

After both teams exchanged punts, the Redskins threatened after quarterback Kirk Cousins completed a 49-yard pass to wide receiver Pierre Garcon. But cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie ended this threat with an interception at the Giants 5-yard line. The Giants went three-and-out and Washington finally got on the board late in the 3rd quarter with a 32-yard field goal after a 19-yard punt return and a 5-play, 33-yard drive.

Momentum clearly shifted in the 4th quarter after another three-and-out by the Giants and then an 11-play, 76 yard drive by Washington that ended with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to tight end Jordan Reed to tie the game at 10-10 with 8:13 left to play. After both teams went three-and-out, the Giants regained the advantage after an 8-play, 58-yard drive set up a 40-yard field goal by place kicker Robbie Gould. The big play on this drive was a 44-yard pass from Manning to wide receiver Tavarres King. The Giants now led 13-10 with 2:12 left to play.

Washington quickly moved the ball to the Giants 43-yard line. But Rodgers-Cromartie all but officially sealed the game with his second interception at the Giants 25-yard line, which he returned 28 yards. The Giants then went three-and-out for the fifth time of the second half, but there was only six seconds left on the clock when the Redskins got the ball back. On Washington’s final play, cornerback Trevin Wade picked up a fumbled lateral and returned it 11 yards for a touchdown. The Giants took a knee on the 2-point conversion attempt.

Running back Paul Perkins rushed for 102 yards on 21 carries, while Jennings chipped in 52 more yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Beckham was pulled from the game in the third quarter, but had five catches for 44 yards.

Rodgers-Cromartie finished the game with two interceptions, one sack, and one tackle for a loss. Defensive tackle Damon Harrison, safety Landon Collins, and cornerback Leon Hall each had sacks as well.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the game were right tackle Bobby Hart (forearm), tight end Jerell Adams (shoulder), defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (core muscle), cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (ankle), safety Nat Berhe (concussion), linebacker Ishaq Williams, and running back George Winn.

Right guard John Jerry (burner) and wide receiver/returner Dwayne Harris (knee) both were injured in the game against the Washington Redskins but later returned to the game.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Ben McAdoo and the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Ben McAdoo (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • WR Odell Beckham, Jr. (Video)
  • WR Victor Cruz (Video)
  • WR Tavarres King (Video)
  • LG Justin Pugh (Video)
  • CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Video)
  • S Landon Collins (Video)

ARTICLES…

Dec 302016
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 25, 2016)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Game Preview: New York Giants at Washington Redskins, January 1, 2017

THE STORYLINE:
This is effectively a playoff game for the Washington Redskins. For the New York Giants, it’s a tune-up for the playoffs and a chance to hurt their long-time division rival. There is not a lot of playoff experience on the Giants roster and this game will provide a preview of the type of intensity the Giants will face next weekend. The stadium will be rocking. The Redskins will be desperate.

Ben McAdoo has said his starters will play the entire game. That remains to be seen. While keeping sharp and building momentum are important, so is not suffering injuries to key players in a relatively meaningless game.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • TE Will Tye (illness) – probable
  • TE Jerell Adams (shoulder) – questionable
  • RT Bobby Hart (forearm) – probable
  • DE Jason Pierre-Paul (core muscle) – out
  • LB B.J. Goodson (concussion) – questionable
  • CB Janoris Jenkins (back) – questionable
  • CB Coty Sensabaugh (ankle) – questionable
  • S Nat Berhe (concussion) – out

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
The good news is that the Giants running game is finally showing some signs of life. The bad news is that Eli Manning simply is not having the type of season hoped for and expected. The naysayers are pointing to his age and saying this is the beginning of the inevitable deterioration. Since Eli’s 400-yard game against the Ravens on October 16, he only has ONE 300+ yard game to his credit, and that came in his last game when he threw three killer interceptions against the Eagles. Back in September, Manning also threw two killer interceptions in a 29-27 loss to the Redskins. Proponents will point to “playoff Eli” (8-3 post-season record). The next two games will be very telling about how worried the Giants should be about the quarterback position heading into the new year.

Unless he dramatically ups his game in the playoffs, we probably are witnessing the end of Victor Cruz in a Giants uniform. Cruz simply isn’t producing. He has 37 catches and one touchdown this year, and that score came in the season opener. The last time Cruz was a consistent scoring threat was 2012. It would be nice for Cruz to finish up his Giants career on a high note, but that probably is not in the cards. The good news is that Cruz did have eight catches in the Philly game. Let’s see if he can build off of that.

What will be fascinating to see is if there is a “playoff” version of Odell Beckham, Jr.? Every sport has its superstars. But the real legends make their mark in the post-season.

As for the Redskins, they are a bit of an odd team defensively. They are 29th overall on defense (22nd in scoring defense). They are 25th in run defense and 28th in pass defense. But the Redskins can get after the quarterback and have two quality corners. Washington has 37 sacks on the year with a trio of pass-rushing threats at linebacker in their 3-4 scheme, including Ryan Kerrigan (11 sacks), Trent Murphy (9 sacks), and Preston Smith (4.5 sacks). Right defensive end Chris Baker is a solid player and Giants fans are very familiar with cornerback Josh Norman. He and fellow corner Bashaud Breeland are both coming off of 2-interception games against the Bears.

To the point, this is the weakest defense the Giants will see from here on out. Teams can run, pass, and score on the Redskins. But Washington can present problems for Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart. Eli Manning will be at some risk in this game. I would not be shocked to see him bail on some plays if he is about to get clobbered. Much attention will be given to the Beckham-Norman head-to-head match-up. My guess is will see a heavy dose of the ground game – both to continue to prime that aspect of the offense for the post-season run, but also to protect Eli.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The Giants defense really struggled in the September game against Washington. The defense allowed 400 yards of offense, did not force a turnover, forced only two punts, gave up three leads, and allowed six plays of 20 yards or more.

Remarkably, the Redskins are 3rd in offense in the NFL, averaging 411 yards and almost 26 points per game. They are 14th in rushing, averaging 4.6 yards per rush, and 2nd in passing. While Washington’s skill positions get a lot of attention, the Redskins field one of the biggest and best offensive lines in the NFL. Left tackle Trent Williams and right guard Brandon Scherff are Pro Bowl players. The Redskins will count on Williams to erase New York’s best pass rusher, DE Olivier Vernon.

QB Kirk Cousins is within striking distance of a 5,000-yard season despite throwing the same number of passes as Eli Manning. His 24-to-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio is not as impressive. Cousins has a bit of Jekyll and Hyde in him. If you want to bring out the worst in Cousins, you have to take away his running game, which is easier said than done with that big offensive line and running backs Robert Kelley and Chris Thompson. Kelley is the pounder while Thompson provides the flash and catches the football out of the backfield (43 receptions).

Where the Redskins really hurt you is the big play. They are second in the NFL in plays over 20 yards with 74. While Cousins can do damage down the field with the vertical game, especially with WR DeSean Jackson (18.0 yards per catch), many of the big plays come from receivers doing damage after a short reception. Both Jackson and slot WR Jamison Crowder are very adept at this as well, as demonstrated by their punt return backgrounds. That said, Washington can threaten defenses in the passing game in all three levels. Jordan Reed is one of the most dangerous pass-receiving tight ends in football. TE Vernon Davis is nearing the end, but he is still a viable target with over 40 receptions. And then there is WR Pierre Garcon who leads the team with 75 catches.

The Giants must limit the damage Washington does on the ground or it will be a long day. So much of Washington’s offense is based off of play-action and the threat of the run. New York is not likely to get much heat on Cousins without blitzing.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Jamison Crowder is tied for first in the NFL averaging 13.1 yards per punt return, with one 85-yard touchdown return. He had a 50-yard return in the September game against the Giants. In that game, the Redskins also ran a fake punt that picked up 31 yards. The Giants blocked a punt against Washington (erased due to an unrelated unnecessary roughness penalty).

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Ben McAdoo on Washington’s offense: “Offensively, Kirk’s playing at a high level. He’s seeing the field, moving in the pocket well, we know he can make all the throws. Their offensive line has gelled together nicely. Robert Kelley and Chris Thompson provide a strong one-two punch at the running back position and they’re loaded on the perimeter with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder. Crowder is really playing well for them.”

THE FINAL WORD:
It’s strength on strength (Giants defense versus Redskins offense) and weakness on weakness (Giants offense versus Redskins defense) in this game. But it’s hard to see the Giants matching the Redskins intensity and sense of urgency since this is a de facto playoff game for Washington. We saw against Philadelphia (first half-quarter of the game) what happens when the other team plays with more of both.

Sep 262016
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 25, 2016)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Washington Redskins 29 – New York Giants 27

Overview

Stating the obvious, this was a bad loss. Every team in the reinvigorated NFC East won on Sunday except for the Giants. The 2015 version of this team reared its ugly head as breakdowns on offense, defense, and special teams all contributed to a very close, heart-breaking defeat.

We’ll address the more specific factors why the team lost below, but the best indicator of success and failure in the NFL is the turnover differential. And for the third game in a row, the Giants turned the ball over more than their opponent. Through three games, the Giants have turned the ball over seven times (4 fumbles, 3 interceptions) and only have one take-a-way (which was a gimme muffed punt). You can’t keep losing the turnover battle and win. It will catch up to you and it did on Sunday.

Another factor was penalties. Coming into the game, the Giants had only committed seven (accepted) infractions on the season. On Sunday, the Giants were penalized 11 times for 128 yards. And a few of these penalties came at the worst time on offense, defense, and special teams.

Giants on Offense

Despite accruing 457 total net yards (337 passing, 120 rushing) and 28 first downs, and being a respectable 44 percent on 3rd down conversions, the Giants offense was a major factor in the loss. Significant negatives included:

  • Three turnovers (2 interceptions and 1 fumble). The RB Shane Vereen fumble occurred on the Washington 34-yard line late in the first half, possibly eliminating at least a field goal opportunity. The QB Eli Manning first interception occurred in the end zone, erasing certain points. The last interception was devastating as the Giants were attempting to set up a game-winning field goal attempt.
  • For the second game in a row, red zone offense was an issue. New York was 2-of-5 (40 percent) in red zone chances and had to settle for field goals of 29 and 30 yards. As mentioned, they also turned the football over in the red zone.
  • Killer (and dumb) penalty on center Weston Richburg for unsportsmanlike conduct. This occurred on play where Eli Manning hit Odell Beckham for a 24-yard gain down to the Washington 5-yard line. Instead, the Giants were moved back to the 20-yard line. Two plays later, Manning was intercepted in the end zone.
  • The top PRODUCTIVE receiving targets remain Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, and Victor Cruz. However, the other tight ends and backs are not making plays. The top three wide receivers caught 15-of-21 passes thrown their way for 264 yards and one touchdown. Manning was 10-of-17 on his other throws to tight ends and backs for 86 yards and two interceptions.

Overall, the Giants scored touchdowns on half of their six first-half possessions with two punts and a turnover. In the second half, the Giants scored only two field goals on five possessions with one punt and two turnovers.

Interesting note: the Giants did not run the football in the 4th quarter despite the game being close.

Giants on Defense

Losing corners Eli Apple and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie hurt, but the overall defense took a major step backwards on Sunday. Not only did the Giants give up 403 total net yards (313 passing, 90 rushing) but they had a number of other issues:

  • For the third game in a row, the defense did not force a turnover.
  • The Redskins scored on 4-of-5 first-half possessions and would have been a perfect 5-of-5 for not the boneheaded play by Kirk Cousins to not throw the ball away on the last play of the first half.
  • The defense allowed drives of 60 (11 plays), 75 (2 plays), 56 (8 plays), 50 (3 plays), 68 (15 plays), and 56 (10 plays) yards in the game. This allowed Washington to hold a sizeable time-of-possession advantage (33:26 to 26:34). The Redskins were only forced to punt twice all day.
  • The Giants had the lead three times in the second half. The defense could not hold that lead.
  • Coming into the game, the Giants defense had only allowed three plays of over 20 yards with the longest being 23 yards. On Sunday, the Skins had six plays of 20 yards or more, including 55 yards (touchdown), 44 yards (touchdown), and 31 yards. The most-damning play was the 55-yard touchdown allowed on a WR-screen on 3rd-and-15. But the two-play, 75-yard drive after the Giants had gone up 21-9 late in the first half also hurt. The Giants defense actually held the Redskins to 0-for-4 in the red zone and 0-for-2 in goal-to-go situations. But half of the Skins points came on two plays that covered 99 yards.
  • The 15-yard roughing-the-pass penalty called on DE Olivier Vernon on an incomplete 2nd-and-14 pass on the game-winning drive may have saved the day for Washington.

Giants on Special Teams

Special teams were a major reason why the Giants lost this game:

  • The Giants gave up a 50-yard punt return early in the second quarter. The Skins only netted nine yards after the return, but it was enough to set up a successful 45-yard field goal.
  • The Redskins were able to regain the lead 26-24 after they successfully executed a fake punt that picked up 31 yards.
  • Andrew Adams’ unnecessary roughness penalty in the 4th quarter erased a blocked punt by DE Romeo Okwara that would have given the Giants the ball inside the Redskins 20-yard line.

Overall, this defeat was a team effort from the starting quarterback down to the man who was signed to the 53-man roster on Saturday. A play here or there, and the Giants would have won this game. Those words sound hauntingly reminiscent of 2015.

(Washington Redskins at New York Giants, September 25, 2016)