Seattle Seahawks 24 – New York Giants 7
After the Giants put a number in the win column last week against Denver, there was at least some sense of optimism surrounding the team. It would be short-lived, as the match-up with Seattle on paper was an ugly one for New York.
Seattle has had its own issues with the offensive line and penalties, both of which reared their ugly heads in the first half. Defensively, the Giants were fighting hard early including a stand where they stopped Seattle 10 straight times inside the NYG 10-yard line. A Thomas Rawls fumbled picked up by Landon Collins set the Giants up in the red zone and it took them just two plays to score, a 5- yard pass to the surging rookie tight end Evan Engram.
The rest of the first half was an ugly offensive display. Penalties, minimal protection from the offensive line, and failed conversions. This had the look of a defensive dogfight heading into halftime. It was a first half that saw the Giants gain 42 total yards, but they somehow still led 7-3.
Seattle got much more aggressive in the second half, throwing the ball downfield and taking advantage of the Giants’ defense defending the middle of the route tree. Doug Baldwin, who finished with 9 catches for 92 yards, caught his lone touchdown of the day after juking Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie out of his shoes with his release off the line. With no safety help over the top, it was an easy pitch-and-catch. Seattle led 10-7 halfway through the 3rd quarter with the NYG offense still mightily struggling.
With momentum on the SEA side fully, the Seahawks continued to move the ball consistently via the air game. Missed tackles and NYG penalties helped their cause as the cream eventually rose to the top. Wilson threw two more touchdowns and the Seattle coverage was strangling the second-rate NYG receivers. The Giants’ offense may have hit a low point, as they gained just 177 total net yards while converting 17% of their third down conversions.
Giants lose, 24-7.
- Eli Manning: 19/39 – 134 yards – 1 TD/0 INT: In his second full week with replacement-level wide receivers, Manning looked lost and uncomfortable for the majority of the game. If it weren’t for Engram, he would have had a hard time breaking the 100-yard mark. I’m not sure if it is Manning or the design of the offense, but the amount of times they are throwing the ball 4+ yards shy of the first-down marker on third downs is alarming. It’s been happening since week 1 and all but assures this team will not be marching downfield. Manning can’t be looked down upon, as the situation he is in is among the worst in football.
- Orleans Darkwa: 9 att/35 yards – 3 rec/13 yards: After his impressive performance in Denver, Darkwa came back down to earth. A 3.9 average can be considered a positive for the Giants, as Darkwa continued to break through contact between the tackles with his aggressive running style. His pass blocking left a lot to be desired, missing multiple blitzers up the middle.
- Wayne Gallman: 5 att/15 yards – 2 rec/14 yards: Gallman’s presence wasn’t felt much. It was a good experience for the young slasher to see the difference in speed and physicality between the Seattle defense and what he’s been matched up against prior.
- Travis Rudolph: 3 rec/32 yards: In his first substantial playing time of his career, Rudolph saw some ups and downs. He had a hard time getting off the jam a few times. His biggest weakness is a lack of size and strength. The quickness and hands can be used from the slot, but the inability to power his way through press coverage and fighting for the ball in traffic may end up being what holds him back. There is still a lot to learn with the playbook including a hot read he failed to make which ended up with a Manning pass hitting him in the back.
- Roger Lewis: 1 rec/12 yards: Prior to the game, I put Lewis down as a guy that would be tested. This was a big day for him…being matched up against a strong secondary without anyone taking pressure off him. He didn’t pass. He was targeted 6 times and simply seemed overwhelmed. He didn’t sell his double route opportunities and got pushed around in traffic.
- Evan Engram: 6 rec/60 yards – 1 TD: Engram is going to be the feature player on this offense for the rest of the season. He has passed every test so far this year and I think it will end up being huge for his career. I thought this fast, big, and physical back seven would be able to shut him down but Engram seemed more than comfortable and proved to be capable of handling the NFL’s best. This game was, however, his first negative blocking grade of the year. He had a hard time sustaining his blocks and got very little movement on the Seattle front seven.
- Rhett Ellison/Matt LaCosse/Jerrell Adams: Ellison played about half of the team’s snaps and is still being underused. He dropped the one target thrown his way and his impact as a blocker was up and down. LaCosse saw a season high 17 snaps. One of the stars of training camp didn’t see any official targets, but he was a primary receiver on one play where Manning was scrambling and had to throw it away over his had. LaCosse was open and was visibly upset he didn’t get the opportunity to do his thing. Adams was barely on the field.
- Tackles: Ereck Flowers continues to be the bright spot of the offensive line over the past 4 weeks. This is the best stretch we have seen out of him in his career. Justin Pugh was hurt in the first half and did not return, forcing the shaky-at-best Bobby Hart into action. Hart struggled to finish his blocks and is proving to be nothing more than an average backup in this league. His balance, hand placement, and confidence in his assignments simply aren’t there.
- Guards/Center: John Jerry and Brett Jones appeared to have one of their worst performances of the year, respectively. Without re-watching the tape (time constraints this week), it looked like the pressure coming up the middle all afternoon was stemming from a lack of adjustment to late blitzes and twists/stunts. This is something these guys have been struggling with since training camp and I expect to see a non-stop effort by opposing defenses to do this the rest of the year. Jones is starting to look a little over-matched in there. D.J. Fluker had a positive game, showing flashes of dominance as a run blocker. Mentally, just as I saw with with the Chargers, he is a step behind often and doesn’t have the foot speed to catch up. He missed two blitzes inside that forced Manning into early throws.
- Ends: With the injuries mounting at the position, Jason Pierre-Paul played 96% of the team’s snaps. The fatigue hampered his play a bit, but overall it was a gutsy performance if nothing else. He applied two pressures to Wilson, including one knockdown. He failed to rise to the new bar he set after a 3 sack performance in Denver and continues to be one of the biggest 2017 disappointments for NYG. The bright spot of the day was the play of rookie Avery Moss, who played less than half of the team’s snaps but led them with 4 pressures. He also forced the Rawls fumble after good backside pursuit. Moss is still way behind when it comes to strength and power, but he is making the most of what he has and is getting the job done. This will be an important stretch in terms of him maturing into an NFL pass rusher.
- Tackles: Once again, the Giants’ interior dominated. It’s like clockwork now when it comes to Damon Harrison beating single and double teams alike with his pop off the snap, top tier strength when engaged, and almost-shocking quickness to free himself and take down ball carriers. He recorded 7 tackles including 1 or a loss. Rookie Dalvin Tomlinson and veterans Jay Bromley and Robert Thomas were impact players against the run. Thomas recorded a season high 3 tackles and showed some of the quickness we saw in training camp. Those two veterans are fighting for 2018 roster spots now.
- B.J. Goodson’s impact on a game where the ball is thrown a lot is minimal at best. So far in his young career (and I know we still have to wait and see), Goodson is proving to be a 2-down player. He is over-matched when it comes to defending those 3rd-and-5 passes over the middle – late to recognize and he is a straight-line athlete, not a quick adjuster. Keenan Robinson led the team with 9 tackles and appears to be on the uptick after a rough start to the year.
- Curtis Grant saw a season high 34 plays. His straight-line speed and presence stand out. He is excellent in pursuit but again, the quick twitch in coverage isn’t there. He had a hard time sticking to his assignment after his opponents made their cuts.
- Devon Kennard is quietly having a very good year for NYG. The versatility he has shown from the SAM linebacker spot is what this team has been looking for. He applied pressure, hit Wilson a couple times, and was stout against the run. Used correctly, Kennard can be one of those quiet-but-essential difference makers
- Janoris Jenkins is the little engine that could. I noticed this about him when he faced off against Brandon Marshall in training camp and it has shown up a few times this year. Up against the 6’6”-Jimmy Graham with no help, Wilson threw a fade into the end zone and Jenkins easily contested the pass. He is a fighter and a quality cornerback.
- In his first game back from suspension, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie struggled. He was outclassed by the quickness of Doug Baldwin on a couple of occasions. He was only on the field for 16 plays and one has to think he may be one of the first guys who checks out mentally. I really do wonder if there is a trade market out there for him so NYG can get the pick back they sent to PIT for Ross Cockrell. Speaking of Cockrell, he has quietly been a solid addition. Reliable but unspectacular, he is rarely caught out of position or out of control – two things I had in his college scouting report out of Duke. Curious to see if he can earn a future roster spot here because so far, so good.
- Eli Apple was back in his starting role, playing 97% of the team’s snaps. He had some good plays, but overall it was a negative performance again. He suffered another defensive holding on a play where he was fooled by a double route and allowed a touchdown late in the game to Graham. What was most maddening were the amount of times he lost his outside contain assignment against the run. It’s a simple role and almost inexcusable to miss it multiple times in one game.
- Landon Collins made the highlight reel a couple of times, with his body-slam tackle of Tyler Lockett and fumble recovery that set up the lone Giants’ touchdown. However his performance in deep coverage was downright awful. He was outclassed speed-wise and showed that he shouldn’t be handling any single-high duties. He also had a bad missed tackle on Jimmy Graham that gave SEA about 20 more yards on one of their touchdown scoring drives.
- Darian Thompson had a quiet game in a good way, sticking to his assignments and applied pressure as a blitzer twice. Nat Berhe recorded a sack but was only on the field for 4 plays.
- K Aldrick Rosas: 0/1 – Miss from 47. With the Giants down 10-7 early in the 4th quarter, Rosas pushed his game tying attempt wide right.
- P Brad Wing: 7 att/38.4 net avg. Wing had one of his blocks partially blocked but otherwise had a good day.
- Return: Ed Eagan handled punt return duties but was a non factor.
- TE Evan Engram, DT Damon Harrison, DE Avery Moss
- OG John Jerry, OC Brett Jones, S Landon Collins
3 THOUGHTS ON SEA
- Russell Wilson has had one of the more impressive starts to his career when considering his production and win total. That said, he makes a lot of rookie-caliber mistakes when it comes to holding onto the ball way too long and being erratic with his decision making. I would say over the past 20+ games his arrow has flat-lined a bit.
- The SEA offensive line is just as bad, if not worse, than what NYG is working with. It may be what ends up holding them back from serious contention because they day they are matched up with a quality pass rushing team, they are in major trouble.
- The Seattle linebackers for a few years now have proven what an athletic, physical group can do for a defense. Those guys can cover almost anything thrown their way, they can knock the helmets off blockers, and they don’t miss a lot of tackles. They have set the bar for 4-3 defenses and those that run a similar front need to take notes.
3 CLOSING THOUGHTS
- As I said before, I looked at this match-up on paper prior to the game and came away with the thought that NYG had no shot in this one. I have seen every SEA game so far this year and if there was a defensive personnel/scheme combination that the NYG offense wouldn’t be able to move the ball against, it would be this one. I don’t think the rest of the season will be this ugly, but that was a blueprint other teams can try to replicate to keep NYG under 10 points.
- I am going to get a lot of disagreements about this, but Eli Manning should get a pass for the rest of the year. The situation he is in simply doesn’t get worse. The offensive line has a new leak each week, the scheme and play calling appear to be outclassed by the opposition, and he has replacement-level wide receivers all around him. I’m not going to get into what the NYG QB approach should be next year and forward, but Davis Webb isn’t even a thought this season.
- I try to steer clear of being overly-critical of play-calling and schemes. I simply don’t have the access to the information that is needed to have a fully credible opinion on the subject. That said, I watch 8-10 NFL games per week and there isn’t an offense in the league that is more predictable and repeatable that what I see with NYG. The same mistakes and shortcomings arise each week. The injury situation and the OL may hamper them a bit, but how many times are we going to see a pass to a receiver darting towards the sideline 4 yards short on 3rd down? Or a quick dump off to a running back with 4 defenders between him and the first down marker? When do we see Evan Engram run up the seam? The rest of the season is as much a tryout for next year for the coaching staff as it is the players.