Dec 312020
 
Dion Lewis, New York Giants (December 27, 2020)

Dion Lewis – © USA TODAY Sports

DECEMBER 31, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY UPDATE…
FB Eli Penny (illness) and WR Golden Tate (calf) did not practice on Thursday.

WR Sterling Shepard (ribs), TE Evan Engram (calf), and S Jabrill Peppers (ankle) were limited in practice.

QB Daniel Jones (hamstring) and CB Darnay Holmes (knee) fully practiced.

THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Friday (11:40AM-1:00PM). Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will also address the media.

Dec 302020
 
Evan Engram, New York Giants (December 27, 2020)

Evan Engram – © USA TODAY Sports

DECEMBER 30, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
FB Eli Penny (illness) and WR Golden Tate (calf) did not practice on Wednesday.

WR Sterling Shepard (ribs), TE Evan Engram (calf), and S Jabrill Peppers (ankle) were limited in practice.

QB Daniel Jones (hamstring) and CB Darnay Holmes (knee) fully practiced.

CB Madre Harper, who has been on Injured Reserve since December 12th with a knee injury, returned to practice. He is eligible to be activated at any time.

WR David Sills, who has been on Injured Reserve all season with a foot injury, has been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Wednesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

NEW YORK GIANTS ASSISTANT COACHES ADDRESS THE MEDIA…
A video clip compilation of the media sessions with the following New York Giants assistant coaches on Tuesday is available at Giants.com:

  • Quarterback Coach Jerry Schuplinski
  • Running Backs Coach Burton Burns
  • Wide Receivers Coach Tyke Tolbert
  • Offensive Line Coach Dave DeGuglielmo
  • Defensive Line Coach Sean Spencer
  • Linebackers Coach Coach Kevin Sherrer
  • Defensive Backs Coach Jerome Henderson

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Thursday afternoon (12:00-1:45PM). Head Coach Joe Judge, the team’s coordinators, and select players will also address the media.

Dec 292020
 
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (December 27, 2020)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

The NFL season is full of streaks both hot and cold, for every respective team in the league. The ones that trek through the peaks and valleys the best while minimizing the down times and maximizing the good times are the teams standing tall at the end. The best can still turn those low points into wins while the bottom feeders just can’t seem to hide their issues well enough. The Baltimore Ravens entered the week 16 matchup winners of 3 straight averaging a league high 40 points per game over that span behind the surging Lamar Jackson, who caught fire over that period (10 touchdowns). The Giants entered the game going in the complete opposite direction. They had lost two straight and scored a combined 30 points over the previous 3 weeks, 10 less than what BAL was averaging per game. In the putrid NFC East, however, they were still alive.

The BAL offense continued their impressive, machine-type offensive work early on. They scored touchdowns on both of their first two drives while chewing up the majority of the first quarter-clock. They held onto the ball for 13:17 while NYG possessed it for 1:43 and got flagged for two false starts while accruing 18 total yards. BAL added 3 more points on a 20-yard field goal by All-Pro kicker Justin Tucker, following another long drive, this one 13 plays. With 5 minutes left in the first half, BAL had run 36 plays and NYG just 10.

NYG’s offense did start moving the ball on their final possession of the half, as they had to start eating away at the 17-point deficit. They found themselves in the red zone with 1:25 left and this is where I felt they mismanaged the clock. Following a 4 yard completion to Sterling Shepard on a 1st and 10, BAL called a timeout. They knew there would be enough time to potentially get the ball back. NYG then proceeded to call two high-difficulty pass plays to undrafted rookie Austin Mack. Both fell incomplete and BAL did indeed get the ball back with 2 timeouts and over 1 minute on the clock following Graham Gano’s 31-yard field goal.

BAL then ran another 10 plays that brought them all the way to the NYG 10-yard line, but they were finally stopped by a quality pass rush which made them settle on another field goal, this one from 28 yards, that Tucker nailed through the uprights to give BAL a commanding 20-3 lead at the half. BAL out-gained NYG 282-95 yards and won the time of possession battle 22:38 to 7:22 in the first two quarters. Complete domination.

NYG began the second half with a three-and-out, but the defense did stop BAL for the first time soon after. The NYG offense then started to wake up with chunk gains from Wayne Gallman, Dante Pettis, and C.J. Board. They got into the red zone with a 1st-and-10, but the first two plays from there were a 5-yard loss on a screen to Sterling Shepard and then a 7-yard loss on a sack. They had to settle on a field goal which Gano nailed from 42 yards. This was his 29th straight successful attempt, tying an all-time NYG record.

BAL ended the 3rd quarter with another touchdown-scoring drive spurred by a 25-yard run by rookie running back J.K. Dobbins. Jackson ended the drive by finding a wide open Dez Bryant in the end zone. Yes, the same Dez Bryant who was playing in his 5th game since the start of the 2018 season and formerly of the division-rival Dallas Cowboys. The 32-year old was surrounded by open turf as the NYG secondary had a miscommunication in coverage.

NYG then began the 4th quarter with their own marathon, clock-eating drive that was 15 plays long. This was very much aided by BAL mistakes, however. After a set of plays that saw Jones sacked on three-straight drop backs, BAL running back Justice Hill was flagged for a roughing-the-punter penalty which gave NYG a fresh start from their own 37. BAL was flagged 3 more times on that drive and even though the NYG offense still seemed lethargic and sloppy, they were able to score a touchdown on a 3-yard pass from Jones to Shepard. NYG had narrowed the gap to 14 points with just under 9 minutes remaining. A three-and-out by the BAL offense gave NYG the ball back but NYG was never able to breach midfield. After a 12-yard completion to Shepard, NYG went incomplete-incomplete-sack-incomplete on the following four passing plays. Yet another pathetic display of offense.

BAL drove the ball all the way down to the NYG 1-yard line after starting at the 35. A fumble on the exchange between Jackson and running back Gus Edwards was recovered by the newly-extended Logan Ryan for the lone ball-turnover of the game. NYG had under 2 minutes left and no timeouts. One of the worst two offenses in football could not even reach midfield, yet again, despite BAL playing a soft defense and aiding them with a 10-yard pass interference. The game ended with the final four NYG offensive plays netting 3 total yards on a scramble by Jones before turning it over on downs and back to BAL for the victory formation kneel-down.

NYG loses 27-13.

QUARTERBACK

-Daniel Jones: 24-41 / 252 yards / 1 TD – 0 INT / 84.6 RAT

The stat line actually made Jones’ performance look better than he played. It wasn’t a good game for the sophomore, as he missed on multiple throws that, simply put, he needs to make. He was short on a couple deep balls to Slayton, he was high on a couple of open slants where he had pressure coming right at him, and he did not process information quickly enough when BAL sent the house in their blitz packages. While the offensive line didn’t do him any favors and we just don’t see these receivers ever running with space around them, his performance did not help this team. Was he rusty after a few weeks of being in and out of practice and games? Was he overwhelmed by the aggressive BAL defense? Did he not respond well to not really being able to use his legs? Or is he just not that good? I’ll discuss further in the closing comments.

RUNNING BACKS

-I really don’t get why NYG hasn’t been using Wayne Gallman more in the first half these past few weeks. He carried the ball 6 times for 27 yards and caught 2 passes for 26 yards. In the first half, he touched the ball 3 times. Granted, BAL dominated time of possession and NYG only ran 18 play,s but I still think Gallman has been productive enough to warrant more consistent touches in the first half where a team can dictate play calls more than the game situation. The same can’t be said in the second half.

-Dion Lewis had 15 yards on his lone carry and Alfred Morris had a 9 yard catch and gained 4 yards on 3 carries, including a key 3rd-and-1 conversion.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Sterling Shepard had a season high 9 catches and 77 yards with a touchdown, just his second of the year. It’s been over two months since he last scored. Shepard played a really tough, competitive game from the slot and outside positions. He came up with a big 3rd-down conversion on the lone NYG touchdown scoring drive.

-Darius Slayton caught 2 passes for 26 yards and dropped another one, although it was a tough grab due to an off-throw by Jones. He still needs to start showing the ability to make these tough catches and be more physical against contact. If he wants to be a guy who can run in a straight line and catch passes with nobody on him, fine. But if he is going to be more than the occasional deep threat, he needs to more consistently make the tough plays.

-C.J. Board caught a pass for 16 yards and Dante Pettis caught 2 passes for 33 yards in his first game-action with the team. Remember, San Francisco was very excited about this kid not so long ago. Talent is there, but he has had durability and mental-capacity issues.

-Austin Mack saw more playing time than he has seen in a while. He was targeted three times and didn’t come away with anything. He had a really bad drop on a 3rd-and-4 would-be conversion. He was also flagged for a holding penalty on a kick return.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram had 7 catches for 63 yards. The “big play threat” is now averaging a career-low 10.4 yards per catch. Three of the four Giants leading pass catchers are averaging 11 yards per catch or less. Engram does provide spark and twitch but he just doesn’t create enough big plays for a guy who everyone says is dripping with talent. He graded out average as a blocker.

-Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo were quiet in their respective backup roles. Smith did provide a couple of quality run blocks.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-It was a horrid day for this group, especially in the second half. They just did not come to play across the board. Center Nick Gates was the only one who graded at the average point; everyone else was below the desired mark.

-Rookie Matt Peart allowed 2.5 sacks despite being on the field for just 17 plays. He looked confused and it made him move awkwardly with very little power presence. Cameron Fleming outplayed him by a long shot, allowing just 1 pressure but was also flagged for a false start on a 3rd down. Killer.

-Shane Lemieux continues to struggle when it comes to maintain quality presence and contact as a pass blocker. He allowed 2 pressures and a sack. This coaching staff really seems to favor him over Will Hernandez, who played just 10 snaps, but I think it may be time to let the latter back in this upcoming week. Lemieux just can’t get it done as a pass blocker on an island and opponents now know this. They will keep isolating him.

-Kevin Zeitler was flagged for a false start and allowed 1 pressure and a half-sack. Rookie Andrew Thomas was also flagged for a false start and he allowed 2 pressures. Both got good push in the running game, however. It didn’t help much though.

EDGE

-On a day where the NYG defense could neither rush the passer nor stop the outside run, one can only shake their head. That is exactly what happened. Jabaal Sheard had 2 tackles and Cam Brown finished with three. They both missed a tackle and neither got a pressure. They were facing the backup tackle tandem on an offense that has been mightily struggling with pass blocking. Brown did make an impressive play where he ran down wide receiver Devin Duvernay, possibly one of the 20 fastest players in football. He is interesting, but that is all I will say about him for now. Still a long ways to go.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

-This was supposed to be a huge game for these guys. The BAL rushing offense came into this game ranked number one in the NFL. There is no secret to stopping this offense. You have to stuff the run and make Jackson throw. NYG failed, miserably. I have been vocal about the NYG defensive tackles being a key cog to the defensive improvements we have seen this season. With that said, they were outmatched for the majority of the game.

-Dexter Lawrence was the one guy who could have passed as a good player at times in this game. He finished with 5 tackles and a pressure. He remained active throughout the game and made a few plays away from the ball.

-Leonard Williams finished with 1 tackle and 1 pressure in his worst game of the year. Dalvin Tomlinson added 4 tackles and a pressure, but was over-matched in the first half when BAL jumped out to that early lead.

-B.J. Hill added 3 tackles and a pressure.

LINEBACKER

-Blake Martinez was hot and cold. I still don’t think he is 100% based on how he is moving in pursuit. He did play with some decent power and strength, finishing with 12 tackles. He had a big-time fill and stuff on a 3rd-and-2 failed attempt in the second half when NYG still had some life.

-Tae Crowder struggled. The best athlete in this group did show some speed and twitch as usual, but he missed a team high 3 tackles and was flagged for a block in the back on a kick return. He finished with 8 tackles, but it was his worst game of the year and it was against the stiffest competition he has been up against.

-David Mayo was on the field for 44 plays and somehow did not record a single tackle. He missed 2 of them. He was outclassed when it came to speed and agility.

CORNERBACK

-James Bradberry was back on the field after missing a game. BAL barely even looked his way. He did finish with 3 tackles.

-Part of the reason why Bradberry didn’t get tested was Isaac Yiadom. It was his worst game of the year. He missed 2 tackles, lost outside contain on a 3rd-down conversion, and allowed a touchdown to Marquise Brown.

-Logan Ryan saw a lot of time at nickel. He did finish with 8 tackles and a fumble recovery, but missed 2 tackles. Both of his misses were big and it appears he allowed a touchdown on a misread in zone coverage. Ryan does give NYG a lot of hot and cold. By no means was the extension a bad decision, but there are reasons why nobody in the league wanted him at a significant contract price this past offseason. He needs to clean the mistakes up, especially the ones that revolve around tackling.

SAFETY

-Julian Love saw less playing time. It looks like Xavier McKinney has passed him on the depth chart and it didn’t go well in BAL. McKinney was beat by tight end Mark Andrews multiple times. He also missed 2 tackles. The one thing I will say that I did like was his playing speed. He gets from point A to point B faster than anyone else on the defense.

-Jabrill Peppers had 6 tackles and a TFL. Nothing stood out, good or bad.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 2/2 (Made 31, 42).
-P Riley Dixon: 3 Punts / 47.0 avg / 35.0 net

3 STUDS

-WR Sterling Shepard, LB Blake Martinez, OC Nick Gates

3 DUDS

-DT Leonard Williams, CB Isaac Yiadom, EDGE Jabaal Sheard

3 THOUGHTS ON BAL

This is one team I just wouldn’t want to play in the postseason. Sure, they haven’t done much there since Jackson has been in the fold. Sure, their passing game isn’t dangerous. Sure, their offensive line isn’t quite what it was a year ago. However, when this team is hot, they show dominance that is as high as anyone. You know what they’re doing, and you just can’t stop it.

Want to know the sign of as really good coaching staff? One that can adjust. One that is not stubborn and set in their ways. Look no further than BAL. They took in Jackson (after trading up for him with the last pick of the 2018 Draft) and morphed their scheme and surrounding cast in a blink of the eye when they put him into the starting role. They stocked up on tight ends. They stocked up on physical downhill running backs. They stocked up on big offensive linemen. BAL has, by far, been the top rushing team in the NFL since the start of 2019. Next up, they have to get it done in the playoffs.

Talk about a homegrown defense and just a team overall that drafts well. Over 75% of their starters / heavy rotation guys were drafted by BAL over the past 8-10 years. Dating all the way back to 2013 (!)…BAL has drafted one current big-time contributor to their defense OR had a big-time defensive player sign elsewhere because of cap economics.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

Some of you need to read this. I try to avoid talking like this within the reviews but not this time. It is OK if you believe Jones is not the answer. It is OK if you think Jones is the answer. Nobody can objectively determine that right now. One thing we all can and should agree on: you don’t know. I don’t know. He doesn’t know. She doesn’t know. The kid has played TWENTY-FIVE games behind a bottom-5 offensive line, the worst set of receivers in football, a tight end who is among league leaders in drops, and a star running back who has missed 14 of 25 games in which Jones started. He needs to be better and I have been vocal about that. You can even argue NYG should start over at QB in the upcoming draft. But to say Jones and NYG should be better because he was the #6 pick (means almost nothing, do some research), or that Jones is a definitive bust, you just sound foolish. This kid has shown more in 25 games than SO MANY quality quarterbacks. That is a fact.

The most disappointing part of this NYG loss was the defensive line. I had high hopes that they would rise to the occasion and put this team back on track. They failed miserably. This is the issue with building a defense on big-and-physical but slow-and- limited athletes who do most of their work between the tackles. Football is a game of space and speed, and NYG just doesn’t have enough up front. They aren’t dynamic enough within the pass rush unless it is schemed.

Here we are entering Week 17 with what I consider a realistic shot at making the playoffs. Not because NYG has played well, but because this division is historically bad. No matter the case, I think rooting for a loss so they can pick higher in the draft is just wrong. If WAS loses to a motivated PHI (which I think will happen), the Giants will have an opportunity to play in a playoff game. Playoff experience is huge for so many young ball clubs. This is the biggest game NYG has had late in the year in a very long time and if they come out firing on all cylinders after such a poor 3-week stretch, it is a great sign for the future. Whether they make the playoffs or not, that is a fact. If they come out and lay an egg and continue their bottom-level offensive football against a horrid defense like DAL, then it is a huge negative sign for the future in my eyes. From that perspective, I think it is pretty easy to decide what you are rooting for. I hope you understand that.

Dec 282020
 
Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (December 27, 2020)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

DECEMBER 28, 2020 JOE JUDGE PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Monday to discuss his team’s 27-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens (the video is also available at Giants.com):

Q: I’ll start where I think everyone wants to start, which is the playoffs. Did you watch those two games yesterday? Obviously, you got the help you needed. With no fear of looking ahead, there’s nothing after Week 17, will you change the approach about discussing the playoffs with your team this week?

A: No. I actually met with the team last night when we got back to make sure we were set on what the plan for the week was. Our focus still needs to remain on the Cowboys. That’s the priority this week. We remain focused on improving as a team. We have a division rival coming up ahead, it’s a big game for us. Obviously, there are implications. As I’ve said all along, those games right now don’t exist. Until I can talk about any kind of opponent coming up beyond who we’re playing, there’s not a conversation to be had. Our focus remains on the Cowboys.

Q: I’ve been doing some studying of the numbers, it looks like in your last three games, when you come out in the second half, the scores have been a little bit closer, perhaps indicating a quicker start. I’m just wondering what’s been the difference with getting started up a little quicker in the second half versus getting started in the first half?

A: I think our coaches have made good adjustments at halftime. We’ve come out, obviously, schematically, to change a few things and use our personnel just a little bit differently. Nothing drastic, but just something to go ahead and change up something that may have been an issue in the first half. Again, we have to be able to adjust on the fly. That’s within the game. We can’t wait until halftime to make adjustments. But that’s an opportunity to get the entire unit together to discuss some schematic things or maybe how we treat a person on the other side. On both sides of the ball, including the kicking game as well, we try to use halftime as effectively as we can.

Q: I don’t believe Will Hernandez had ever missed a snap in his career until he went on the COVID list. Now his playing time has really reduced. I’m just curious what’s gone into that? Why is he playing so much less now?

A: We’re continuing to roll our linemen throughout the game. There hasn’t been a designated snap count on any player going in. Look, I’ve let Guge (Dave DeGuglielmo) have some autonomy in terms of as the game gets going, the flow goes, to put in what we think is best for the schemes that we’re running. We check in and we talk continuously throughout the week. The plan is to play all of our guys at the game. It’s always been our plan and to use guys continuously. You saw Matt (Peart) play as well last night. We’ll continue to use Will, and we’ll rotate all three guards going forward.

Q: You say you don’t have starters, but Shane (Lemieux) is playing significantly more snaps. That can’t happen by accident. He plays usually the first two series, then Will comes in. Did Will lose his job by going on the COVID list? He wasn’t rotating, he was a starter and he played every snap.

A: Look, we base everything here on production, so in terms of who’s playing on what snaps, we may have different guys in different schemes. There are different times we want to use different guys throughout the game. We put priority on keeping all of our guys fresh, and we’re looking to really develop as many guys as we can. I’d say all three guards, Kevin (Zeitler), Shane and Will, have played well at times. There have been things we want to improve on with our entire unit going across the board. But we’re going to continue to rotate those guys going forward.

Q: Didn’t get a chance to ask you yesterday about Evan (Engram). He got banged up at the end of the game. Just curious what his status is, how he was feeling today? I know you probably won’t get a true sense until Wednesday, but to add some insight as to what went on there.

A: I’ll tell you what, he’s actually going to meet with the doctors a little bit later tonight. He’s already seen our training staff and met with the doctors after the game. That’s all kind of standard procedure. Look, we’re optimistic about where he’s going to be. That being said, this will definitely be a deal where we have to see how he moves around on Wednesday in practice. From the feedback we got from the doctors, for them, it’s a lot of wait and see and watch to see how he responds. But we are optimistic. I have not spoken directly to Evan today myself. I checked in with him yesterday after the game, obviously, and talked with him a little bit when we got back, but nothing extensively.

Q: Just one on Daniel (Jones). Did he come out physically well enough to the point where today you don’t feel like there’s anything new that you have to deal with this week?

A: No, I think this is the first week in a while as far as Daniel goes where we can just turn around and say, ‘hey, we’re going to let him go out there and let him play.’ Obviously, we had to see him move around a little bit throughout the week coming up to it. The one good thing about Daniel is our training staff and him have done a really good job of working together and prepping him for game action. We’ve seen continued improvement health wise with him. He hasn’t come out of any game he’s played in worse off than when he was beforehand. I’d say the ankle is getting better. I don’t think it’s anything he really talks about or you see hindering his performance out there, and the hamstring has continued to heal as well. Physically, he’s definitely moving in the right direction.

Q: This is a little bit looking back a bit. I know you don’t like to look forward too much or back too much, but this team suffered a significant injury with Saquon Barkley. How do you think, looking forward, of the way this offense has played, you have been able to make up for that with such a key player being gone?

A: I think with any person you have available, you have to use it to their strengths. We want to have all of our players out there, it’s no secret. I would have loved to have been able to coach Saquon for 16 or 16-plus games this year. Absolutely. He’s a fun guy to coach, he works really, really hard, he’s doing everything he can right now to get better and progress. I don’t think it’s really fair to turn around and say what our offense would or would not have looked like with him in there. I think some of our scheme would have probably evolved into what it’s doing right now anyway based on how the offensive line plays and what their strengths are as a unit. But there may have been some different wrinkles we could throw in. That being said, all of the backs we’ve used this year have done a good job adjusting their games as well. These are different schemes than they’ve run in the past. Wayne’s (Gallman) done a nice job, Alfred (Morris), Devonta (Freeman), Dion (Lewis), all these guys are running really hard for us right now. We try to use them all similar enough that every time they’re in, it’s not a red flag of what’s going to happen in the game. At the same time, they all have a little bit of difference to them. Look, Saquon is his own player as well. We definitely would have had some things dialed up for his skillset, like we do for Wayne, Alfred, Devonta and Dion as well. It’s not really fair to turn around and tell the entire offense what it may or may not have looked like. I don’t think that’s really fair to anybody. But obviously, he’s a weapon you want to have out there. I will say this, what you don’t see really behind the scenes is how he’s working right now. This guy is in here every day. He’s very active in the training room, in the weight room, getting better. You see this guy around the locker room as much as he can in terms of really encouraging his teammates, staying involved, staying engaged. Look, this guy was elected a captain by his teammates for a reason. The leadership off the field has definitely come through since he’s been hurt and been away from the team on the field.

Q: How connected were you on the way home last night with what was going on with the rest of the division and those games that ultimately kept you alive in this race for the division title?

A: Being on the train, actually, we had the game streaming in the background. I sat, we had kind of a little conference room in the front car that I was in. Me and Pat Graham sat in there. We went through the defensive tape together and watched like we do, we did the same thing coming back from Washington and talked some ball. We were kind of checking scores throughout the league with a lot of games going. That’s kind of normal custom right there. Everyone’s kind of checking scores around the league. Last night was no different. Obviously, there were some division games going on that we were conscious of. We checked those, we streamed those and watched the end of those games.

Q: What was the reaction of the team when the results of those games came in in your favor?

A: To be honest with you, I was actually separate from the rest of the players. They had us very spaced out in the cars. The front car was kind of more coaches than it was players. I saw the players on the backend when we got back to the facility. I called a quick meeting in the bubble just to address how we’re going to handle the week going forward and kind of clear up any questions that may have come up. To be honest with you, look, the questions about the playoffs, these are things the players obviously have as well. We’re going to keep our focus on Dallas. We’re not getting focused on the playoffs. I truly believe what I said earlier, this is a hypothetical game. The only thing we can control is what we do against Dallas. At the same time, there’s a human nature that they’re very conscious of what’s going on around the league. It would be naïve or ignorant to pretend that they’re not paying attention as well. When we got back, I grabbed the team and just kind of let them know what the situation is, but really, reaffirm the importance of staying focused on Dallas. That’s all we can control.

Q: Coming off this game, obviously, the Ravens blitz a ton and they’re a tough defense. But what are your coaching points to clean up how the offensive line handled or did not handle some of the pressures they threw at you guys? Kind of connected to that, how much patience do you have when your two most veteran offensive linemen false start back to back on the first drive and really set you guys back?

A: We’re not going to accept any penalties from any player at any time. We have to coach that better, we have to make sure that we drill every technique at practice and every situation the right way, and we have to execute when we get on the field. That’s just our responsibility as coaches and players. That being said, in terms of the offensive line, look, there were a lot of positives. Obviously, it wasn’t perfect. We have to clean up a lot of things, and there’s going to be a lot of things that we’ll tie over and apply to the Dallas game this week. We saw a lot of moving schemes yesterday. We’re going to see movement against Dallas. There were some blitz packages yesterday, we’re going to see probably some copycat and similar things against Dallas. The tape is relevant in terms of what Dallas might copycat and what we have to prepare for. I’d say the situation we have to keep ourselves out of is when you get behind and you’re in that pass-only mentality, well, now the defense can pin their ears back and really get you. If you kind of look at our past few games, when the issues have come up, it’s really been in those situations. That’s against Arizona, Cleveland and then again yesterday. When you get into that pass heavy zone where you’re behind, that’s when the defense can finally pin their ears back. But when you can stay balanced early on, whether it’s run or pass, is it a draw screen situation, what may come up, that keeps the defense a little bit more honest. That’s when our offensive line has really played its best. When you’re getting blitz zero three out of four plays, eventually, someone’s going to come free.

We have to make sure we avoid the hits on the quarterback. But there are times you’re protecting with just five and they’re bringing six or seven, and Daniel did a very good job yesterday of really controlling it and operating it and getting the ball out. You look at yesterday, there are a lot of situations where Daniel knew there were going to be free runners. You just know it by scheme. That’s part of how you design getting the ball out. We had some hot reads, some sight adjustments, and just some plays schemed for a quick gain. I really like the way Daniel handled it yesterday. You kind of talk about what level of improvement have we seen throughout the year, I think there are a lot of things that show up on the tape yesterday with number eight. You watch him from the start of the year to through yesterday and how he handled a lot of the situations with the pressure, the ball security and the decision-making. He did a lot of things that demonstrate a lot of growth. There are a lot of things you guys ask me all the time. What are you really looking at with this team as you go forward?

Well, I’ll start with a key piece right there with Daniel. You always want to know about is Daniel our guy? Are we going forward with Daniel? The answer is absolutely. What gives us that confidence is even in games like yesterday where it didn’t come out perfectly, you can turn the tape on and you can say, ‘hey listen, in games one through whatever, that wasn’t the guy we were looking at.’ You watch the tape yesterday and you see that guy in there operating, executing, understanding the pressure and not just standing in there with courage like he’s done all along and taken a hit but understanding how to take the hit and deliver an accurate pass and move the sticks down the field. These are things that as he grows in this league and develops in his craft, he’s going to be able to do. As we get going and we build more into this scheme, he’ll be able to handle it different ways as well and take some hits off himself. You see a lot of growth in these guys. I thought Daniel yesterday played well. There are some plays I’m sure he’d like to have back, some plays we’d like to do differently. That’s natural in any game. We’re going to coach it to eliminate those plays on the front end. But at the same time, there was a lot of growth that I saw with Daniel that’s really showed up in terms of how he had to play the game yesterday and what he’s able to do.

Q: I know you really don’t want to talk about the playoffs and stuff, but what do you think about the opportunity that’s been presented to you guys? We know what it is at this point. In most seasons, you’re 5-10, you wouldn’t have this opportunity. But the reality is it’s sitting right there in front of you.

A: Look, I think the goal is always, somebody asked this question I think it was a few weeks ago, about playing relevant games in football. I think you want every game you ever play to be relevant. That being said, this same situation in front of us, the same opportunity that’s in front of us is the same opportunity that was in front of us in Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and so on. We have to make sure we take care of our business every week along the way and improve as a team. At the end of the year, it’s the collective record that matters. Right now, the emphasis has to be on the Cowboys. We have to play our best game. This is a good team. This is a much different football team than we played early in the season. We’re a different team, too. We have to re-learn the Cowboys and really study them and get ahead on it. Our players have to understand the opportunity that’s really sitting in front of us is the opportunity to play a division rival and play the last game of the season with our best football. That’s the opportunity that we have to take advantage of.

Q: Does the collective record really matter though if you win the division at 6-10?

A: To me, everything that’s collective matters. How you improve as a team collectively throughout the year, to me, that’s the ultimate measurement of what you’re trying to do. I’ve never talked about our record as far as being the goal of any situation that I’ve been in as an assistant or now as a head coach. You talk throughout training camp in terms of being the best team you can be. You go out there every day with the mentality of we’re going to do everything we can to improve today individually and then collectively as a team. To me, what I’m looking to see is growth as a team, improved level of football this week on the field, and top execution and coaching on Sunday. That’s really my goal for this week. We have to control that. If we control that, the other stuff will take care of itself.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The team’s assistant coaches will address the media on Tuesday. The players return to practice on Wednesday.

Dec 272020
 
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (December 27, 2020)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

BALTIMORE RAVENS 27 – NEW YORK GIANTS 13…
The New York Giants were soundly defeated 27-13 by the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. It was the team’s third loss in a row, dropping their overall record to 5-10. But because both the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Football Team both lost, the Giants are still alive for the NFC East title.

The game was not even as close as the two touchdown differential would suggest. The Ravens out-rushed the Giants 249 yards to 54 yards. In total, Baltimore held a 432 to 269 yard advantage over New York and dominated time of possession 35:09 to 24:51.

Baltimore never punted in the first half, scoring on all four of their offensive possessions. Every one of these methodical drives was 10 plays or more and 60 yards or more:

  • 13 plays, 82 yards, 6-yard touchdown pass
  • 10 plays, 65 yards, 2-yard touchdown run touchdown
  • 13 plays, 60 yards, 20-yard field goal
  • 10 plays, 65 yards, 28-yard field goal

Meanwhile, the Giants only had three offensive possessions in the first half:

  • 3 plays, 3 yards, punt
  • 5 plays, 23 yards, punt
  • 11 plays, 64 yards, 31-yard field goal

At the half, Baltimore held a commanding 20-3 lead, but it felt even worse with the Ravens out-gaining the Giants 282 yards to 95 as the Ravens ran 44 offensive plays to the Giants 18. In fact, the Giants only ran three offensive plays in the entire 1st quarter, not including two false start penalties.

Both teams exchanged punts to start the 3rd quarter. The Giants then drove 66 yards in 13 plays to set up a 42-yard field goal and cut the score to 20-6. However, the Ravens put the game to rest on the ensuing possession with a 7-play, 59-yard drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the 4th quarter. Baltimore now led 27-6.

Aided by a roughing-the-kicker penalty on 4th-and-23 and three defensive penalties, the Giants drove 76 yards in 15 plays to cut the score to 27-13 on quarterback Daniel Jones’ 3-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Unbelievably, this was Jones’ first touchdown pass since Week 9 against Washington. However, the drive took over six minutes to complete with the 4th quarter about half over.

The New York defense finally forced a three-and-out, but the Giants could not convert on 4th-and-19, turning the ball over on downs at their own 35-yard line with less than five minutes to play. The Ravens reached the New York 1-yard line but fumbled the ball away at the 2-minute warning. The Giants finished the game by turning the football over one downs again on an incomplete 4th-and-7 pass at their own 44-yard line.

Daniel Jones completed 24-of-41 passes for 252 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. He was sacked six times and officially hit 11 times. He did not fumble the ball. His leading targets were Shepard (9 catches for 77 yards and a touchdown) and tight end Evan Engram (7 catches for 65 yards). The Giants were held to a measly 54 yards on 12 carries, with running back Wayne Gallman carrying the ball six times for 27 yards. The Giants were 1-of-10 on 3rd down conversions.

The defense recovered one fumble, but that turnover was not created by a forced fumble. The Giants did not sack the quarterback and only hit him three times. The Giants also did not defend a single pass or make a tackle for a loss during the entire game. The Ravens averaged 6.2 yards per rush on 40 carries. There were a lot of missed tackles. The Ravens were also 8-of-11 (73 percent) on 3rd down conversions.

The special teams allowed an 17-yard and 19-yard punt returns and a 23-yard kickoff return to the 41-yard line.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVES AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the game were WR Golden Tate (calf), FB Eli Penny (illness), OT Jackson Barton, OL Kyle Murphy, and DE R.J. McIntosh.

The Giants reported no injuries but TE Evan Engram looked dinged up at the end of the game.

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

POST-GAME NOTES…
The Giants have lost 10 or more games for the fourth consecutive season.

The Giants lost their third consecutive game and each defeat was by at least 14 points.

The Giants trailed at halftime, 20-3, the fourth consecutive game they scored three or fewer points in the first 30 minutes.

The Giants have scored only two touchdowns in the three-game losing streak and they have not scored more than 20 points in five consecutive games.

The Giants ran just three offensive plays in the first quarter. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is their lowest total in an opening quarter in at least the last 40 years.

Place kicker Graham Gano has succeeded on 29 consecutive attempts, a streak that is both a career best and ties the Giants’ record with Josh Brown, who succeeded on 29 straight attempts in 2014-2015.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Dec 252020
 
Logan Ryan, New York Giants (November 29, 2020)

Logan Ryan – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS RE-SIGN LOGAN RYAN…
The New York Giants have re-signed safety/cornerback Logan Ryan to a 3-year, $31 million contract that includes $20 million in guaranteed money. Ryan was set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He is now signed through the 2023 season.

“I feel super grateful,” said Ryan in the team’s press release. “Thankful to the Mara family, the Tisch family, (General Manager) Dave Gettleman, (Assistant General Manager) Kevin Abrams, the coaching staff, (Head Coach) Joe Judge, (Defensive Coordinator) Pat Graham. I really took a bet on myself waiting as long as I did and signing a one-year deal. I just wanted to prove to the fan base, the coaching staff and my teammates what type of player and leader I can be. And I honestly think I was proving it to myself as well. This year has been about a lot of belief. I always believed in myself and held my head high and worked out for me in the end and it worked out for the team in the end. I think it was a perfect fit from the beginning.

“I love the culture, the history, the passion, the fan base and the expectations to win here. I love being in the NFC East and the history of it. I believe the future is bright here. I’ve won championships. I know what good teams look like and we have a good team here. And I’m going to do everything in my power to bring championships to the organization and to be a good leader on and off the field. I do a lot of good work off the field that is equally important in my opinion, if not more important. And to have the platform and the spotlight that being a New York Giant brings me allows me to do everything I want to do off the field in the right light.

“I’m the true fact of a kid born and raised in Jersey, to come on home and make his career be complete by coming back and being a part of a great team here like the New York Giants.”

The 29-year old Ryan was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He has spent time with the Patriots (2013-2016) and Titans (2017-2019). The Giants signed Ryan in late August 2020.

This year, Ryan has played in all 14 games with 13 starts. He has accrued 79 tackles, one sack, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, nine pass defenses, and one interception. He is regarded a team leader.

DECEMBER 25, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
WR Golden Tate (calf) did not practice on Friday. He has officially be ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens.

QB Daniel Jones (hamstring/ankle), LB Blake Martinez (ankle), and CB Darnay Holmes (knee) were limited. All three are “questionable” for the game.

TE Evan Engram (calf) and OT Matt Peart (ankle) fully practiced and are expected to play on Sunday.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the Giants on Saturday. The team plays the Ravens in Baltimore on Sunday afternoon.

Dec 252020
 
Joe Judge, New York Giants (January 9, 2020)

Joe Judge – © USA TODAY Sports

THE STORYLINE

2020 has been a very strange year and that strangeness has extended to the NFL and the New York Giants. In a shocking move, the Giants hired a relatively unknown, 38-year old special teams coordinator as the franchise’s new head coach  in January. Although he had no head coaching experience at any level, Joe Judge immediately began to win over skeptical fans during his fiery, introductory press conference. More so than any Giants head coach in memory, Judge took his own sweet time in methodically putting together what appeared to a strong coaching staff. Fans were largely unimpressed with the slew of players added in free agency, headlined by high-priced acquisitions James Bradberry and Blake Martinez. Most of the anticipation and focus centered on the 2020 NFL Draft, with the Giants holding the fourth overall selection.

Then COVID-19 hit.

“15 days to stop the spread” morphed into something far darker. One of the minor casualties appeared to be the 2020 NFL season. From a purely parochial, pro sports viewpoint, it appeared that Joe Judge’s inaugural season was irrevocably sabotaged. Teams were not able to meet with players before the draft. No rookie mini-camp, no OTAs, no veteran mini-camp, zoom calls instead of face-to-face interaction, abbreviated and restricted training camp, no preseason. Would a full season even be possible?

All of this for a team that had won just 12 total games in 2017, 2018, and 2019 and was now on its fourth head coach and second general manager since 2015. There was a sense that the Giants were in perpetual rebuilding mode, merely spinning their wheels. The last thing the franchise and Joe Judge needed was the COVID albatross.

Among fans, the doom-and-gloomers initially ended up being right. The young team with a new coach missed a preseason that it desperately needed. The early schedule was a bitch. And disaster struck when the Giants lost their best player, Saquon Barkley, early in Week 2. The Giants quickly found themselves 0-5. Yet another season appeared over by October. The Giants got embarrassed by a 49er JV team and let two leads against the Cowboys disappear. Fans turned on turnover-machine Daniel Jones and there was talk that the Giants may own the first pick in the 2021 Draft and select Trevor Lawrence.

Then something unexpected happened. The Giants started playing better. The Giants won their annual “feel good” game against Washington. New York lost two heart-breakers against the Eagles and Buccaneers, games in which the Giants held 4th-quarter leads. The Giants then went on a 4-game winning streaking, beating Washington, the Eagles (finally!), the Bengals, and the Seahawks (holy crap!). Unbelievably, the Giants were tied for first place in December. And had they made a play here or there against the Cowboys and Bucs, they could have been in the midst of a 7-game winning streak and a commanding NFC East lead.

What happened? Daniel Jones stopped turning the ball over. And the entire defense and offensive line were coming on. The former under Patrick Graham, who had only just become a defensive coordinator in 2019 in Miami. The latter despite offensive line coach Marc Colombo unexpectedly being fired during the surge.

Giants fans who had become accustomed to losing football were now giddy in December! That all changed when the Cardinals bitch-slapped the Giants 26-7 in mid-December. An offense that had struggled to score all season and already missing Barkley could not also deal with an obviously hobbled Daniel Jones. Worse, the schedule was clearly getting tougher again. The Giants (not unexpectedly) fell to 5-9, one game behind Washington with two games left to play. That’s where we are right now.

Why the recap? Because I think many Giants fans have lost their freaking minds.

Giants fans before the Browns game: “We have no chance! We’re going to get killed!”

Giants fans after the Browns game: “We suck! How could we lose to the Browns?!”

Many (not all, but many) Giants fans are still living in denial. They don’t seem to REALLY understand that this team has won just 17 games in four years. The fact that the Giants are one game out of first place in arguably the worst division in NFL history doesn’t change that fact. The Giants STILL have significant talent issues on offense and defense. The Cardinals and Browns beat the Giants because they are the better teams. The Giants are improving but they have a long way to go.

Now to the good stuff. The Giants can still make the playoffs. The Baltimore Ravens should win this game, but the Giants are certainly capable of pulling off the upset if a few things break their way. Despite all of the shit that has happened this year, the Giants are still only one game out with two games left to play. Not ideal. But if you painted this picture in September, many Giants fans would have been thrilled to be in this position.

THE INJURY REPORT

  • QB Daniel Jones (hamstring/ankle – questionable)
  • WR Golden Tate (calf – out)
  • TE Evan Engram (calf – probable)
  • OT Matt Peart (ankle – probable)
  • LB Blake Martinez (ankle – questionable)
  • CB Darnay Holmes (knee – questionable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE

I love you guys, but you are driving me crazy. Since September, I’ve pointed out the personnel limitations on this side of the ball. I told you all how catastrophic the loss of Saquon Barkley would be to this talent-deprived unit. Where I was wrong is I didn’t fully realize how inept our receiving targets were going to be this year. I foolishly expected more out of Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Golden Tate, and Evan Engram. These “big four” have just SEVEN touchdown receptions in 14 games. As a team, the Giants only have nine touchdown passes. That’s beyond dreadful.

Jason Garrett has a long history of coaching top-10 offenses in this league. That’s just a fact. “But look at his talent in Dallas!” That’s my point. The New York backfield last week included Colt McCoy (8-22 starting QB) and Alfred Morris (32-year old RB who had one carry in 2019). Shit, that was the Redskins backfield in 2014 (a team that finished 4-12). “Garrett should be able to do the same with McCoy, Morris, and Tate as Cleveland does with Mayfield, Chubb, and Landry!” (See how stupid this sounds?)

I still haven’t given up on Daniel Jones. I may be dead wrong, but I feel he has been sabotaged with poor surrounding talent. He played much better as a rookie, but Barkley only missed three games last year. When a defense focuses all of their attention on Barkley, it opens everything up everyone else. This year, when his protection got better, Jones stopped turning the ball over. The hamstring and ankle injuries obviously affected his play against the Cardinals. It remains to be seen how much they will hinder him against the Ravens and Cowboys. Keep this in mind: Daniel Jones started 12 games in 2019 and 12 games thus far in 2020. He threw 24 touchdown passes last year. He has eight this year. You can draw your own conclusions as you best see fit.

Big picture, here is where the Giants are at: This year, the Giants can be respectable on offense when the offensive line is having one of its “good games” and Daniel Jones is relatively healthy. This is NOT a team that can count on its wide receivers and tight ends to make plays in the passing game. There is no depth at these positions either; none of the young players pushing the non-productive starters (Austin Mack is not going to save the day). Even Wayne Gallman has seen his carries decline from 24 to 16 to 12 to 9 in the past four games. As a group, many if not most of the wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs currently on the roster will not be on this team in 2021 (and a few won’t be in the NFL). The Giants are a bad offensive football team because they have bad offensive personnel at the skill positions. Read that last sentence again.

What about the future? The building blocks on the offensive line appear to be in place. They just have to continue to grow together and gain cohesion and chemistry. Sy’56 strongly argues to add additional pieces to the line in order to turn this into a real strength. He argues a very good offensive line can cover up a multitude of sins. Assuming the Giants move ahead with Daniel Jones, the offensive offseason priorities have to be centered around upgrading the wide receivers and tight ends. No one here scares other teams. Also pray that Saquon Barkley can return near full strength. Long story short, in many ways, this team doesn’t even have major component parts on the roster yet. The rebuild continues.

As for the game against the Ravens, for the Giants to have a chance, they have to play like they did against Seattle. Run, run, run behind a big and physical offensive line that will hopefully be “on”… because if they aren’t, the Giants are toast. Unfortunately, Baltimore has the NFL’s 9th-ranked defense (10th against the run, 14th against the pass, 4th in scoring defense).

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

Like the injuries to Daniel Jones, the loss of James Bradberry due to a COVID precaution came at a bad time. His absence, along with nickel corner Darnay Holmes (a de facto starter), was keenly felt against the Browns. The loss of these two players had a trickle-down effect throughout the entire pass defense. It also demonstrated just how thin the Giants are at the corner position thanks to botching the Deandre Baker and Sam Beal picks.

Assuming Holmes plays, the Giants will be near full-strength on defense (late note: LB Blake Martinez was a late addition to the injury report). For the third week in a row, the Giants will be playing a top-four rushing attack. The Cardinals are #4 and the Browns are #3. This weekend, the Giants play the #1 rushing team in the NFL as the Ravens average almost 173 yards per game, or one yard less in what they average throwing the football (31st in the NFL). Usually, run-centric teams can have issues scoring, but that isn’t true for the Cardinals, Browns, and Ravens. Baltimore is 6th in the NFL in scoring, averaging 29 points per game (the Giants have dropped to an embarrassing 17 points per game).

Even more so than the Cardinals, the focal point of the Ravens’ rushing attack is their quarterback, Lamar Jackson (828 yards rushing, 6.1 yards per rush, 7 touchdowns). Running backs Gus Edwards (578 yards, 4.9 yards per rush, 6 touchdowns) and J.K. Dobbins (568 yards, 5.2 yards per carry, 6 touchdowns) contribute another 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns. As a team, the Ravens have 21 rushing touchdowns.

Lamar Jackson has thrown for one yard less than Daniel Jones this year. But while Jones has eight touchdown passes and nine interceptions, Jackson has thrown for 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions on 50 fewer attempts. The efficiency of his game is why he has a QBR 20 points higher than Jones. Only three Ravens have more than 17 receptions on the season: WR Marquise Brown (49 catches, 703 yards, 5 touchdowns), TE Mark Andrews (48 catches, 598 yards, 7 touchdowns), and WR Willie Snead (31 catches, 408 yards, 3 touchdowns).

When Jackson is “on,” he’s truly a difference maker who can dominate a game with his arm and feet. But when he is “off,” the Ravens suffer and can be beaten. The Giants clearly need to focus on defending the run, especially the more “gimmicky” designed QB runs. Kyler Murray was good practice for the Giants. But also keep in mind the Cardinals soundly crushed the Giants 26-7 just two weeks ago.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

The game within a game this week is two former special teams coordinators turned head coaches matching off against each other. New York’s late-season downward spiral on special teams continued last weekend with the odd fake field goal attempt against Cleveland. The Ravens have returned one kickoff for a touchdown this season and their punt returner is averaging a respectable 8.6 yards per punt return. They also have superb kickers.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

Head Coach Joe Judge on the 2020 Baltimore Ravens: “You talk about them as a team, they obviously went through that three-week stretch where they played on kind of not normal weeks. Short schedules, long schedules, guys being pulled out for COVID, whatever the reason is. Obviously, they’re getting guys back now healthy. They’re really hitting their stride. This is a very good team. It’s going to take everything we have to prepare for them. We have to have our best on Sunday.”

THE FINAL WORD

The Baltimore Ravens are arguably the best team the Giants have faced this year. They have top units on offense, defense, and special teams. As Judge pointed out, they had to deal with unbelievable COVID issues, but are now hitting their stride. On paper, this is one of the worst teams for the Giants to be facing in a must-win situation. But it is what it is. The Giants put themselves in this position by losing earlier games to the Cowboys and Eagles. For all intents and purposes, this is a playoff game.

My head says “no way” but my heart says “Go Giants!”

Dec 242020
 
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (August 6, 2020)

Daniel Jones – Courtesy of New York Giants

DECEMBER 24, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
WR Golden Tate (calf) did not practice on Thursday.

QB Daniel Jones (hamstring/ankle) and CB Darnay Holmes (knee) were limited.

“I thought (Jones) had a good day yesterday,” said Head Coach Joe Judge before Thursday’s practice. “He went out there, we put him through everything. Today will be a more intensive day. Today will be a higher volume day for him. It will be interesting to see how he responds. We’ll see him out there moving around throughout all the team periods. He’ll jump right into his normal role and go forward with it. The intention is if he’s able to play, we intend to play him.

“I was encouraged with how he moved yesterday. I was really encouraged. I think some of the moves we made last week with him, although it was kind of hard for him to kind of sit out on it with the double injuries, but I think that helped resolved some of those issues. All the feedback we’ve gotten medically is that he’s continued to improve and he’s at lesser risk of being injured, and that’s really the things we’re looking for right there as far as positive news. But he moved around nice yesterday. We’ll put him through more today. I can’t give you a percentage or any kind of a gauge on that. But I would say we came through yesterday’s practice feeling like we’re on the right track.”

TE Evan Engram (calf) and OT Matt Peart (ankle) fully practiced.

THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the Giants on Friday and Saturday. The team plays the Ravens in Baltimore on Sunday afternoon.

Dec 232020
 
Wayne Gallman, New York Giants (December 20, 2020)

Wayne Gallman – © USA TODAY Sports

DECEMBER 23, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
QB Daniel Jones (hamstring/ankle), WR Golden Tate (calf), TE Evan Engram (calf), OT Matt Peart (ankle), and CB Darnay Holmes (knee) were limited in practice on Wednesday.

The Giants designated outside LB Kyler Fackrell for return to practice from Injured Reserve. Fackrell hurt his calf against the Cincinnati Bengals and has missed the last three games. Fackrell is now eligible to play Sunday in Baltimore. Before he was hurt, Fackrell had played in all 11 games, starting eight, and accruing 30 tackles, three sacks, and one interception that he returned for a touchdown.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Wednesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Thursday afternoon (12:00-1:45PM). Head Coach Joe Judge, the team’s coordinators, and select players will also address the media.

Dec 222020
 
Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (December 20, 2020)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

While the modern-day rivalry between the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants isn’t very historical or dramatic, as they only play once every four years and don’t have any championship games against one another, there was some extra spice to this late-season match-up. First, the 2019 CLE Head Coach Freddie Kitchens took over play calling duties for NYG for Jason Garrett, who missed the game because of Covid-19. Second, former CLE starting QB Colt McCoy was starting for the injured Daniel Jones. And third, these two teams traded players and picks with each other two offseasons ago, creating a “revenge” feel for many. Beyond that, the national TV, flexed game was a big one for NYG. Because of a WAS loss earlier in the day, NYG would be back in 1st place if they were able to pull off the upset against CLE, winner of 4 of their last 5.

Following a 48-yard return on the opening kick to midfield by Dion Lewis, NYG was set up nicely to start the game. Thanks to a 22-yard pass from McCoy to Sterling Shepard, NYG quickly had the ball in the red zone. After a failed touchdown pass attempt to Evan Engram, the NYG field goal unit came on for a 25-yard field goal attempt. The trickster in Joe Judge has been getting more and more aggressive, but this next decision took the cake. NYG rushed into an odd formation with everyone split out besides three down linemen. Center Nick Gates, an eligible receiver, snapped the ball then ran into the end zone. Punter Riley Dixon took the snap, dropped back like a quarterback similar to that time he did it in recess a couple decades ago, and lofted a pass to Gates who was surrounded by 3 CLE defenders. The ball fell incomplete, turnover on downs.

CLE then turned the ball over on downs near midfield, giving NYG another strong starting field position. This time, they turned it into 3 points. McCoy hit Darius Slayton for 35 yards on this drive and even though everyone knew points would be tough to come by, it was a good sign this team got into the red zone on both of their first two possessions. They were only up 3-0, however. Baker Mayfield, the #1 pick from the 2018 Draft, looked smooth, confident, and decisive. CLE used that to go up by a score of 7-3 via a 2-yard pass to tight end Austin Hooper.

Once again, NYG drove the ball down the field and breached the red zone. They were faced with a 4th-and-2 from the 6-yard line, enabling Judge to stay aggressive. A rush attempt failed to convert the first down and instead of points, it was a turnover on downs for the second time. NYG has an All-Pro contender at kicker, they have a hard time scoring points, and they now were down 7-3 instead of up 9-7. The seemingly automatic Mayfield continued to complete pass after pass on the next drive. They near-seamlessly put another touchdown on the board on a 2-yard pass to Jarvis Landry. Landry was flagged for taunting, however, pushing the CLE extra point attempt back 15 yards. Kicker Cody Parkey ended up hitting the upright on the PAT attempt, keeping the score at 13-3 as halftime approached. NYG has scored a combined 3 first half points over the previous 3 games.

CLE had the momentum and started the second half with the ball. If NYG wanted any shot at a comeback win, these opening second-half possessions were vital. Dexter Lawrence sacked Mayfield for an 11-yard loss on a 2nd-and-11. This was the play that was supposed to change the flow of the game. However, on the ensuing NYG drive, and after two first downs that brought NYG to midfield, Wayne Gallman was tackled for a 3-yard loss due to a failed attempted block by Engram, a wide receiver who sometimes lines up where a tight end is supposed to. This created a 3rd-and-12, which NYG did not convert.

CLE then went on a 14-play, 8+ minute drive that ended in a 1-yard touchdown by Nick Chubb. It was 20-3 and the NYG offense just couldn’t get anything going from sources like Colt McCoy, Alfred Morris, and a group pass catchers who are among the least-intimidating in football. NYG was able to put 3 more points on the board a couple possessions later to make it 20-6 (rather than 20-12) with 4 minutes left. CLE was done scoring but they did force NYG to burn their timeouts before getting the ball back with a minute left. A few pointless and meaningless gains later, the clock read 0:00 and NYG remained in 2nd place as they lost their second straight.

NYG loses, 20-6.

QUARTERBACK

-Colt McCoy: 19-31 / 221 yards / 0 TD – 0 INT / 82.9 RAT

For the second time in 3 weeks, McCoy got the start for an injured Daniel Jones. Expectations for a 34-yard old career backup are never high and whatever they may be, McCoy met them. He made a couple of really nice throws in the first quarter that led NYG to the red zone, but he couldn’t seal the deal on a couple of opportunities in the end zone. McCoy just didn’t put the ball where he needed to on a few occasions and that is often the difference between good and mediocre at this level. NYG went over 15 years without having to deal with a backup starting the game. We’ve now seen it twice in three weeks. It really is such a limiting factor.

RUNNING BACK

-Alfred Morris led the way with 39 yards on 7 carries while Wayne Gallman added 29 yards on 7 carries. Dion Lewis caught 2 passes for 14 yards and had a 48 yard kick return to start off the game but fumbled later in the game as a returner for the second week in a row. It wasn’t a bad day for the NYG backs, but it lacked impact and Gallman getting stuffed on a 4th-and-2 where he just didn’t have the sheer power to push the pile forward was a killer.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Darius Slayton led the way with 74 yards on 4 catches. He had an awful drop that would have converted a 3rd-and-10 (even if he did, there was a penalty on the offensive line that cancelled the play altogether). Still a really ugly look for Slayton. Those 74 yards were 29 yards more than what he accrued in the previous 3 games combined. However, 2 of those catches and 18 of those yards came in the final minute of the game where pretty much nobody cared.

-Sterling Shepard added 51 yards on 4 catches and Golden Tate caught 2 passes for 13 yards. That is a combined 6 catches for 64 yards. Just over 10 yards per catch, yet again from these two. The more games I see this offense play, the stronger the notion is that this team is starving for playmakers on the outside that scare a defense.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram had a bad game. He did catch 4 passes for 46 yards but he added another drop to the list and his blocking was poor. He just isn’t a guy that can handle the rigors of blocking in-line. He allowed a TFL and caused both Morris and Gallman alike to alter the running lane on one occasion each. There was a near-touchdown that can’t be called a drop, however both of his hands were on the ball first and it was jarred out by CLE safety Karl Joseph.

-Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo both deserve a positive write up. Smith was a key blocker on a couple of NYG’s longer runs. They used him as a trap blocker a couple times and he did some serious damage on contact. Toilolo added a catch for 14 yards and recovered the Dion Lewis fumble.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE

-After a horrific match-up against Haason Reddick a week ago, Andrew Thomas bounced back against Myles Garrett. Garrett didn’t look like his old self at points, but I like how Thomas played him. He was really aggressive with his hands and he kept his balance post-contact. He did allow a half-sack late in the game but besides that, he didn’t give anything. 0 Pressures, 0 TFL, 0 penalties.

-Cameron Fleming and Shane Lemieux were poor. Fleming just doesn’t have it snap to snap; he is pretty much always going to get beat eventually within a sustained drive. He allowed 2 pressures, got flagged for a hold, and allowed a half sack. Lemieux allowed 2 pressures and was flagged for a hands-to-the-face penalty which ended up being declined. His issues have more to do with the fact he just isn’t powerful enough yet. I think that will come with time. His twitch, balance, and technique look good.

-Kevin Zeitler allowed a TFL and Nick Gates was pretty quiet. He didn’t get left alone much but still produced quality run blocking with his ability to move guys laterally.

EDGE

-It was a quiet day overall for the group, but Carter Coughlin was the stand out. He had 4 tackles and a pressure. He did get beat badly in coverage by Austin Hooper twice, one of which was for a first down. He isn’t natural in that role because remember, he was purely an edge guy in college. I can remember writing in his scouting report that he had the skill set and intelligence to play a role inside down the road. With the BUCK role being an edge role that can fill in next to the MIKE inside at times in this defense, Coughlin is making a strong case to be considered for that role next year. He just needs to figure out coverage more than anything.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

-NYG held the CLE rushing attack (top 5 in the NFL) to a quiet day on the ground. The 106 yards were the lowest since November 1. The two catalysts? Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams. They were excellent off the line and showed range. They both had 6 tackles and a TFL, Lawrence also had a sack and pass deflection on 3rd down. Williams added 2 pressures and made rookie left tackle Jedrick Wills look like a child in the running game.

-B.J. Hill, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Austin Johnson all continued to rotate and provide solid run defense. None offered much against the pass. Johnson had a TFL.

LINEBACKER

-Blake Martinez looked, moved, and hit better than he did last week when he seemed to be recovering from his back injury. He was back to the level we had gotten so used to all year and it was a great combination with what NYG was working with up front. He had 10 tackles and 2 TFL. Not many guys can stone Kareem Hunt, but Martinez did. He played smart, instinctive, and physical. He is one of the best LBs in the league when it comes to noticing and reacting to the screen.

-Tae Crowder added 6 tackles and a TFL. Devante Downs and David Mayo rotated in but it is as clear as anything that Crowder is the guy there. Downs and Mayo both badly missed tackles in space. Those two need to play less and Crowder needs to be the only inside guy on the field next to Martinez.

CORNERBACK

-With both James Bradberry and Darnay Holmes out, NYG had to get a little creative at cornerback with Julian Love and Logan Ryan, both collegiate corners. Both of them played well in their roles, respectively. Ryan had 9 tackles and Love finished with 6. They both were beat by Jarvis Landry on separate 3rd down conversions and both missed a tackle.

-Isaac Yiadom was expected to step up in this one, and he did not. CLE clearly wanted to go after him and they ended up having a lot of success there. He allowed a touchdown to Landry and allowed two downfield completions to Rashard Higgins. He didn’t have a lot of help in this one and he just did not come through.

SAFETY

-In his first game back against the team that made him a 1st round pick in 2017, Jabrill Peppers was as quiet as we have seen this year. He had 3 tackles and just didn’t seem to make a physical presence known against the strong CLE rushing attack. He got caught over-pursuing two outside runs that I did not count as missed tackles, but it did create more yards for them.

-Rookie Xavier McKinney saw a slight uptick in playing time because of the vacancies at corner. He made 4 tackles and was often playing a preventative deep role in coverage. He didn’t really have an opportunity to display much against the pass.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 2/2 (Made 39 and 37)
-P Riley Dixon: 2 Punts / 34.5 avg / 31.5 net

3 STUDS

-DT Dexter Lawrence, DT Leonard Williams, OT Andrew Thomas

3 DUDS

-OT Cameron Fleming, CB Isaac Yiadom, TE Evan Engram

3 THOUGHTS ON CLE

CLE went a combined 1-31 in 2016/2017. Their last winning season was 2007 (the first Eli Manning Super Bowl). They are now 10-4 and heading toward the playoffs with a big arrow pointing upward. How did they turn it around? Three things. One, they’ve crushed the early draft picks. DE Myles Garrett in 2017, Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward in 2018, Jedrick Wills in 2020. Two, their Head Coach Kevin Stefanski has created a system on offense that fits his personnel perfectly and he sticks to it. Three, they have created one of the best offensive lines in football.

More on that offensive line because it deserves its own write up. Baker Mayfield has been sacked just 18 times this year. In 2019, he was sacked 41 times. Kudos to this Front Office for double-dipping at the OT spots by signing Jack Conklin in free agency and then using their 1st-round pick on Jedrick Wills. Those two, in combination with what I consider to be the top trio of interior offensive linemen in the league has instilled so much confidence in Mayfield in addition to paving the way for a top-5 rushing attack.

The CLE offense is better without Odell Beckham. I mean that 100% and I say it without hesitation. This is not a knock on Beckham at all. This has more to do with my thoughts on NYG and whether or not they should pursue a top WR in free agency. They need an uptick in talent there, but you need to tread carefully. An offense works best, in most cases, when the ball is being spread around. Mayfield was forcing the ball to Beckham and it was making him a less effective quarterback, plain and simple.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

There may not be a less effective offense in the NFL than what NYG is working with. Granted, they are working with a backup QB and they are missing the focal point of their offense in Barkley. But 30 points over 3 games (including 13 over the last 2) against three defenses that do not include any top 10 units is just embarrassing. The silver lining here is I would rather go into the offseason trying to fix a bad offense than a bad defense.

How does the 31st ranked offense get fixed? This offensive line needs to become dominant. Not good, they need to be dominant. I think NYG can go into next year with Thomas and Peart at tackle but both of those guys aren’t dominant players. Nick Gates is a keeper at center. The question and opportunity for upgrade will be at the guard spots. Whether it is a high priced free agent (Joe Thuney/NE?) or a 2nd round pick (there are a few), or both, NYG needs to go in that direction. It isn’t sexy, but I feel it is the most efficient and reliable way to go about it.

Two games left and yes, NYG still has a shot at this division crown. The biggest issue? They are matched up against a hot BAL team that, when all things are clicking, can be as hard to stop as anyone. While I am confident in NYG’s ability to stuff a traditional rushing attack like CLE, BAL is simply a different animal. Think about the way ARI was able to pick up chunk gains with Kyler Murray. This will be on the NYG defensive line, yes. But we really need to see that second level (LBs and safeties) step up.