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Darius Slayton, New York Giants (December 9, 2019)

Darius Slayton – © USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles 23 – New York Giants 17 (OT)

QUICK RECAP

The NFC East has been abysmal in 2019 and it is surely a fair statement to label it the worst division in football. As week 14 was just one game on the NFL schedule away from being complete, not one team in the division had a winning record. DAL was in first place with a 6-7 record and PHI, with a win over the 2-10 NYG, would get to the same point. They would have to do so against Eli Manning, in for the rookie Daniel Jones because of a high ankle sprain. That fact alone actually created some hype for this game as NYG fans needed something to stimulate them after watching such poor football week after week for what seems to be the 100th year in a row. Manning confirmed in interviews leading up to the game he had no interest in being a backup and even less interest in being a coach. This was his best shot at a true showcase of his current abilities, making this his Super Bowl on a Monday Night. And we all know how he has played in those situations.

The night started off quietly for both offenses, as a total of 0 points were produced over the first five drives that took up the entire first quarter. PHI entered the game with just three wide receivers on the active game-day roster and their main leading rusher, Jordan Howard, was sidelined with a shoulder injury. NYG opened the 2nd quarter with a 3rd-and-13 from the PHI 35-yard line. Manning hit rookie Darius Slayton on a quick slant that was short of the first down marker, but a broken tackle and burst that outran the rest of the PHI secondary resulted in the first score of the night.

PHI, now without Alshon Jeffery because of a non-contact foot injury, started to finally create their own offense on the next drive. Even though Carson Wentz continued to look sloppy as he has all year, he was able to take advantage of broken NYG coverages to connect with tight end Zach Ertz for a combined 54 yards on two plays. NYG escaped a PHI touchdown on the next play thanks to a phantom holding call on PHI right guard Brandon Brooks and held them to a field goal.

The NYG offense was starting to click consistently and in multiple ways. Manning hit Slayton with an on-the-money deep ball for a 42-yard gain and Saquon Barkley was running as hard and efficiently as we have seen all season. While they shot themselves in the foot with a fumbled snap (that Barkley recovered), Aldrick Rosas re-lengthened their lead to 10-3 with a 34-yard field goal. Three straight 3-and-outs by both offenses put the ball back in NYG’s hands with under 2 minutes left starting at their own 16-yard line.

These next few plays would be the highlight of the night and maybe one of the top moments of the season for NYG. Barkley gained 15 yards on 2 carries and then Manning hit Slayton for 12 yards to bring the ball near midfield. On 3rd-and-8, Manning dropped back and lofted up one of his infamous deep balls to the young speedster Slayton, who got behind the PHI secondary. The throw was on the money yet again and it resulted in a simple, easy looking 55-yard touchdown to give the Giants a 17-3 lead as halftime was a short moment away. Manning, whose first NFL action was in this stadium back in 2004, was running downfield pumping his fists and enjoying successful football. Nothing on this night could hide the fact this team is an NFL bottom feeder over the past 5 years and this may be the worst NYG team ever. Nevertheless, it was a pleasant distraction to see Eli, host of a 10-20 record against PHI lifetime, celebrate on their turf while the Eagles were losing a game by 14 at home in a game they absolutely had to have.

NYG started the second half with the ball after nearly doubling PHI in total yards and winning the turnover battle. It was almost, quite literally, the complete opposite of what we have seen all year. We forgot what this actually felt like but something in the air suggested this wouldn’t last more than 2 quarters and that instinct was about to be proven right.

The two offenses traded short, 3-4 play drives, 5 times combined to be exact. PHI was dealing with a depleted receiver corps and NYG’s former high flying and efficient offense literally just stopped. The offensive line started to fall apart and they couldn’t get the ball to Barkley in space or Slayton, anywhere. PHI running back Miles Sanders had to leave the game with cramps and in walked Boston Scott, a 5’6”, 203-pound, 2nd-year, undrafted back with 94 career rushing yards along with 1 career catch. He was a key cog on the first PHI touchdown scoring drive that rounded out the 3rd quarter as he dashed into the end zone on a 2-yard run. NYG led 17-10 as the 4th quarter began, but after a quick possession, the ball was back in PHI’s hands.

Thanks to another 38 yards on four touches, Scott helped the PHI offense enter NYG territory. The Giants were missing tackles, blowing assignments on tight ends in coverage, and just not getting it done when rushing the passer. Thanks to a drop in the end zone by Greg Ward, PHI lined up for a 47-yard field goal but Jake Elliot pulled it left. Always nice to see him miss a field goal against NYG because that 61-yard game winner from 2017 still stings.

This was the kind of a game where having a top tier NFL running back should make winning borderline easy, if not completely so. The Giants had a touchdown-lead in the fourth quarter with under 10 minutes to play. NYG opted to call three straight pass plays. The first resulted was a sack, the second resulted in a 7-yard completion, the third resulted in an attempted flea flicker that had potential downfield. But Nate Solder couldn’t hold his block for more than 2 seconds, which forced Eli to quickly give the ball back to Barkley, who had just took the handoff and tossed it back to Manning. Play that out in your head. The play resulted in a 1-yard loss and NYG punted the ball back after taking a whopping 1:30 came off of the game clock. Pathetic.

The Eagles, not so coincidentally, went on to a 6+ minute, 14-play drive. Cornerback Sam Beal was flagged twice on 3rd down. PHI lost yet another wide receiver leaving them with just one and NYG couldn’t cover Ertz. This resulted in a game-tying touchdown pass to him, making it 17-17 with under 2 minutes. If this wasn’t a set up for one last Eli Manning career highlight, I’m not sure what was.

The Giants then went 3-and-out.

This was their 6th possession of the second half. It was their fourth 3rd-and-out and the other possessions resulted in 4 plays each, one first down each. It was a disgraceful second half performance.

PHI opted to try and use the last 1:25 of the game to go for the win. After all, they had completely dominated NYG after their adjustments were filed at halftime. They were left 1 yard short of the first down at their own 36-yard line with 45 seconds left. There was a moment of indecision: would PHI risk going for it or just punt it back to NYG and hope for overtime? Pat Shurmur didn’t realize the game was in is hands at this point. He stood there, waiting to see what PHI would do. He was unsure, unprepared, unable. 30 precious seconds ticked off and then he opted to use a timeout with 19 seconds on the clock. What a complete waste and clear sign of ineptitude.

The game went into overtime and there wasn’t a person in the stadium or at home who believed NYG would win this. After all, it had been over 30 minutes of game clock since NYG was remotely competitive. PHI needed just two plays, mainly thanks to a 25-yard run by the Darren Sproles clone with the first name Boston playing against New York. PHI slowly but surely inched their way up to the NYG 2-yard line. They were still without all but one undrafted wide receiver, but Wentz dropped back and found Ertz, the number one target, wide open and all alone in the back of the end zone for the game winning touchdown.

Giants lose 23-17.

QUARTERBACK

-Eli Manning: 15/30 – 203 yards – 2 TD / 0 INT / 94.2 QBR. Take a look at those stats and also take in that in the first half, Manning was 11/19 – 179 yards – 2 TD / 0 INT / 124.7 QBR. So for those who don’t want to do the math, he was 4/11 – 24 yards – 0 TD in the second half despite having 6 possessions. The way this game started was exactly what I was expecting to see. Manning coming out hot and on fire with a couple of lethal downfield “dimes”. Manning has a lot of pride, but it is not unreasonable to suggest that he has been a casualty of a disastrous organization the past 8 seasons. While his performance was far from flawless, he played a solid game. However, once the offensive line fell apart, it was more of the same that he has dealt with in the past. Do I think Manning can win with a good offensive line and strong supporting cast? Absolutely. He can still make the throws and he knows the game as well as anyone mentally.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 17 att / 66 yards – 3 rec / 1 yard. For such an unimpressive stat line, I came away from this game as encouraged as I have all year about Barkley. This was the hardest we have seen him run all year (despite being taken down for a 3-yard loss on his first carry). It was just a slight sigh of relief to see him live up to his abilities again. Barkley looked healthy and strong. Not calling any plays designed for him on two straight fourth quarter drives was just maddening because he was clearly playing better, and remember, YOU USED THE SECOND PICK OF THE DRAFT ON HIM!

WIDE RECEIVER

-Darius Slayton: 5 rec / 154 yards / 2 TD. All of that production was in the first half. This kid continues to make big, big plays despite the fact that the PHI secondary was bracketing him. His first touchdown was the result of a broken tackle in space, something we have seen several times now. The second was pure speed and excellent ball tracking, something we discussed about him around draft time. Slayton is really showing something this season and if I had to pick one bright spot in regard to the young players on this team, it is him. If he can shore up some little things, which I think he will, we could be looking at not just a good, but a VERY good WR. His production when considering playing time and targets is right up there with the best rookies in the class.

-Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate combined for 5 rec / 39 yards. Very underwhelming performance from two guys who this team really needed in their dismal second half.

TIGHT END

-Kaden Smith had 2 catches for 9 yards but also dropped 2 passes and allowed a TFL. He took a step backwards in this one after opening some eyes at how well he stepped in for Rhett Ellison. Scott Simonson was a non-factor and was flagged for a false start.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-In the past two years, Nate Solder has been responsible for more losses than any other player on this team. In the ultimate team game maybe that doesn’t mean much, but it does to me. What a weakness he has truly become to this entire team! He was decent in the first half (and NYG dominated) but then his true form came out in the second half where he allowed 2 sacks and 3 pressures. The Giants only threw the ball 11 times! Almost one half of the passes were impacted by his poor play. If he could have held on to his man 2 seconds longer on the flea flicker, that would have likely been a score. Just an awful, awful performance and it’s getting old writing about his poor play.

-Mike Remmers, Will Hernandez, and Kevin Zeitler all graded out above average. Remmers allowed 1 pressure. Zeitler went down with a foot injury late and it will be interesting to see if the team trots him out there in the coming weeks.

-Based on the subpar standard he sets, Jon Halapio played an OK game. However, “OK” still grades out as below average. He allowed a pressure and was flagged for a holding penalty on Barkley’s longest run of the night.

EDGE

-Really solid game from Markus Golden, maybe his best of the year. He had 4 pressures and a sack to go with 2 tackles. His run defense left a bit to be desired but this was a very solid performance for the pending free agent.

-Oshane Ximines had 2 sacks. Those were the only 2 impacts he made all night but it was a good job by him taking advantage of his limited opportunities, as he played under a third of the snaps. His lack of ability to defend the run appeared twice when he was washed out by blockers coming down from his outside shoulder, which we have seen a few times this year. However, he may have passed Lorenzo Carter on the depth chart. Carter finished with just tackle and at this point, simply just looks like a run-and-chase kind of player.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

-Dalvin Tomlinson is playing the best football of his 3-year career, during the same timeframe the Giants added Leonard Williams. More on that later. He had 5 tackles, 4 pressures, and a forced fumble. This PHI interior offensive line is one of the best in football and he was winning one-on-one match-ups repeatedly.

-Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams were both impactful in very different ways. Williams started the game on fire and finished with 5 tackles, 1 TFL, and 2 pressures. He had a bonehead personal-foul penalty on a late, dirty hit to Wentz’s sternum after a pass. Lawrence had 3 tackles, 1 PD, and 1 pressure but was more disruptive than that when it came to eating blockers and taking up space.

LINEBACKERS

-Alec Ogletree finished with 9 tackles and a pressure while David Mayo added 5 tackles and recovered the fumble on Wentz’s failed 4th-and-1 QB sneak in the first half. They did a fine job overall but they had a hard time locating and filling the lanes when Boston Scott got involved.

CORNERBACK

-Have to be happy about the play of Deandre Baker albeit against a depleted wide receiver group for PHI in a game where Wentz was fleeing pressure for most of the night. He had 3 pass break ups and seemed to be very comfortable in his assignments on all levels of the defense.

-Sam Beal was this weeks whipping boy in the secondary. Corey Ballentine a few weeks ago, Grant Haley last week, Beal this week. He wasn’t targeted a lot but when he was, twice on 3rd down, he was flagged. He simply didn’t trust his footwork and recovery speed, thus got way too grabby. I am surprised they didn’t attack him more often when the game clock was dwindling. How Beal responds will be important for his future on this team.

-Janoris Jenkins played some physical football in this one. He finished with 6 tackles and a pass break up. He really stuck his head in there a few times. Props to him for adjusting his style as the players he had to cover were tight ends more so than receivers.

SAFETY

-Antoine Bethea played solid football for the second week in a row. He led the team with 13 tackles, including 1 for a loss and also broke up a pass. Fortunately for him, Greg Ward dropped a touchdown pass that would have been on him, but overall Bethea deserves credit. He stepped up hard and made two impressive tackles against a downhill running back. Nice job for a guy who lacks size.

-Julian Love continues to flash but he missed two tackles and they both stood out. He finished with an impressive 6 tackles and 1 for a loss and also showed impressive coverage. He has impressive footwork and you can see signs of his former cornerback skills.

-Michael Thomas, who played just under a third of the defensive snaps, was roasted in coverage on a couple of occasions. The standout play was the final one of the game where a miscommunication appeared to be culprit but Thomas looked to be at fault. He let the one guy you think PHI would target in key moments roam free in the end zone.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 1/1 (Made 34)

-P Riley Dixon: 9 Punts / 46.1 avg / 43.6 net. That is a REALLY good game for Dixon.

3 STUDS

-WR Darius Slayton, EDGE Markus Golden, DT Dalvin Tomlinson

3 DUDS

-OT Nate Solder, CB Sam Beal, EDGE Lorenzo Carter

3 THOUGHTS ON PHI

  1. If I am PHI, I’m not getting very excited about this win and/or this team. They aren’t good, they haven’t been good all year, and the injuries are really starting to pile up. They may sneak in to the playoffs but they aren’t going anywhere. A good offense can march up and down the field with ease against them and their pass catchers are among the worst in football.
  1. What is Carson Wentz? We are in year 4 now and he looks even worse than what he showed as a rookie in 2016 after two strong seasons in between. I have to think the issues here are correctable because he has shown too many positives in the past. But it goes to show you that it is amazing how bad a QB can look when the pass catchers aren’t there and the offensive line takes a step back.
  1. Doug Pederson embarrassed the NYG coaching staff on Monday night and I am kind of glad it happened on national TV. His back and forth “punt or go for it” took advantage of Pat Shurmur and his usage of useful timeouts was just the start. The entire second half, NYG looked like they had no idea how to adjust their plan once PHI altered their approach. This is a partial dig at Shurmur, but I respect Pederson a lot and his awareness of game situations on a weekly basis is what every team needs, but most do not have.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  1. The Giants seemed all but locked into the #2 spot in the draft, potentially #1 or #3. I think the need for a pass rusher, a true difference maker on defense, paired with the belief that DE Chase Young is going to be there makes this approach to the offseason rather simple from a big picture perspective. The Giants need to improve in the trenches, and Young seems like the obvious choice if NYG can find a new left tackle in free agency. And I don’t care how much it costs. My early favorite: Trent Williams.
  1. The emergence of Dalvin Tomlinson over the past month-plus needs to be talked about. He has another year on his rookie deal. But how the NYG approach his situation should be impacted by whether or not they will re-sign Leonard Williams,who could cost $12+ million per year. Big picture, Tomlinson will be cheaper. But the question needs to be asked, is he playing this well because Williams is next to him or did the light go on for Tomlinson? A lot of film analysis will have to go into that but my initial thought is Tomlinson is a guy you want to keep around no matter what scheme you implement.
  1. I am indifferent on whether or not I want to see Eli Manning play the rest of the year. It doesn’t seem like Jones’ ankle injury is serious enough to shelf him for the rest of the year but there is no point in pushing him through any kind of injury. We have enough to work with moving forward and his platform is set. If Manning does play in front of the NYG crowd, I think, out of whoever actually shows up, the NYG fans need to show respect and keep the booing to a minimum.
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David Syvertsen

David Syvertsen, aka Sy'56, has worked for Ourlads Scouting LLC since 2013, starting off as a college depth chart manager and now a lead scout for one the most-sold NFL draft guides year-in, year-out. He has been scouting for over 10 years and will compile anywhere from 400-600 scouting reports per season, with that number increasing year by year. He watches and studies game films 20-25 hours per week throughout the entire year with his main focus being NFL Draft prospects.

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