Nov 202021
 
Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (December 20, 2020)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

NOVEMBER 20, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
The New York Giants practiced on Saturday at Quest Diagnostics Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Not practicing were WR Sterling Shepard (quad), LB Lorenzo Carter (illness/ankle), S Logan Ryan (COVID protocols), and S Nate Ebner (knee). Ryan was officially placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List on Saturday. All four players have officially been ruled out of Monday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Oddly, although the Giants have officially ruled Ryan out, the team’s press release says there is a chance Ryan could still play. “I’d say when you’re on that (COVID list), obviously you can’t play,” Head Coach Joe Judge said. “Is there a small chance that he could still test out and be available? There is. We’re preparing for all the situations of him not being available, as well as if he turns around for the last minute and he is. We’ll prepare for that, as well… So, if he clears as late as Monday morning, we’ll get him down there and have him ready to play.”

Ryan needs two consecutive negative tests within a span of 24 hours apart to be eligible to play.

Limited in practice were RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), RB Devontae Booker (hip), FB Cullen Gillaspia (calf), and TE Kaden Smith (knee). All four players are officially listed as “questionable” for the game.

Judge also revealed that WR Dante Pettis, who is currently on Injured Reserve, underwent shoulder surgery and will most likely miss the rest of the 2021 season.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Saturday 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…
There is no media availability to the Giants on Sunday. The team plays the Buccaneers in Tampa on Monday night.

Nov 202021
 

THE STORYLINE:
The 2021 New York Giants may be on life support, but they are not dead yet. If the playoffs were to start today, the 5-4 New Orleans Saints (who the Giants have already beaten) and the 5-5 Carolina Panthers (who the Giants have also already beaten) would make the tournament. The Giants stand at 3-6 with eight games left to play. For them to realistically make the playoffs, they will probably have to finish the season 5-3 or 6-2. On paper, the most difficult remaining two games for the Giants appear to be Monday’s game against the 6-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the December 19th game against the Dallas Cowboys.

The problem for the Giants is that no game is a sure win. All of this speculation could amount to pissing into the wind if the team loses to the Eagles, Dolphins, Bears, etc. But right now, there is still hope. The team is getting healthier as it comes off its bye and the defense has been playing much better. The Giants are still playing hard for Coach Judge.

If New York can somehow manage to pull off an upset against an angry Tampa Bay team coming off an embarrassing loss to Washington, things could get interesting.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Saquon Barkley (ankle – questionable)
  • RB Devontae Booker (hip – questionable)
  • FB Cullen Gillaspia (calf – questionable)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (quad – out)
  • TE Kaden Smith (knee – questionable)
  • LB Lorenzo Carter (illness/ankle – out)
  • S Logan Ryan (Reserve/COVID-19 – out)
  • S Nate Ebner (knee – out)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
There was a long period of time during the 1990s when no New York Giants quarterback could reach the 300-yard passing mark in a game. In a league that had become increasingly reliant on the passing game, it was an embarrassing non-accomplishment that was finally broken when Kerry Collins became the starting quarterback. The new mark of futility for the Giants is the team’s inability to score 30 points in a game. The team is averaging less than 20 points per contest this year. I keep talking about it, but scoring points is kind of an important indicator of victory. (sarcasm off)

Everyone has their own reason. The coaching sucks. The quarterback sucks. The offensive line sucks. Injuries to the skill players. Many people want to point to one reason, but there is probably a degree of truth in all of these reasons. Regardless, the Giants are not going to consistently win unless they can increase their average point total, and do so quite dramatically.  Scoring 19 points per game just isn’t going to cut it in 2021.

The good news is that the bye week came at a fortunate time for the team. Knock on wood, but it appears the Giants are going to get some important cogs back such as Saquon Barkley and possibly Andrew Thomas (still on IR, but may be activated). Others who have been nursing injuries such as Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney will be healthier. Unfortunately, the entire band won’t be back together with Sterling Shepard still out. Still, this is the strongest the offensive unit has been since they upset the Saints in New Orleans.

On paper, Tampa Bay’s defense is tough. It ranks 9th in yards allowed. It falls to 18th in points allowed, however. And in multiple key moments during last week’s loss to the unimpressive Washington offense, the Bucs failed to make a defensive stop. They also lost defensive tackle Vita Vea late in the game. Their confidence must be a bit rattled. Tampa has been far more difficult to run against (2nd in the NFL, allowing less than 80 yards per game) than pass on (22nd in the NFL). That would seem to suggest that the coaching staff should take a more pass-oriented approach against the Buccaneers, particularly earlier in the game. Keep in mind too that Saquon Barkley is still rusty as hell (he never really knocked off all of the rust from not practicing in camp or playing in the preseason before he got hurt again). I would tend to use Barkley more in the passing game at this point, and use the run more later in the game if the Giants are still within striking distance, or better yet, ahead in the contest.

The Bucs are a middle-of-the road team in the pass rush department, accruing 22 in nine games. Only one player, linebacker Shaquil Barrett, has more than three sacks this year (he has five). For comparison’s sake, the Giants have 19 sacks in nine games. So while Tampa Bay has players who can be disruptive, like former Giant Jason Pierre-Paul (who has been dealing with injuries), this isn’t a front that New York line should be scared of (and Washington certainly handled them pretty easily up front). It’s one of the main reasons why the Buccaneers blitz so much. They have issues generating pressure with only their defensive line.

If I’m Judge and Garrett, I have Daniel Jones target the play makers early and often: Barkley, Toney, and Golladay. You have a lot invested in these guys; it’s time for them to pay dividends. The Tampa defense tends to play more conservatively in the secondary, attempting to protect against the big play, so Jones will most likely have to be patient and find open targets underneath. In short yardage, hand the ball to Eli Penny to keep the chains moving. I would continue to go to these guys in the red zone, with the possible addition of the tight ends.

Lastly, what Jones and his offensive teammates need to do (besides score points) is protect the football. Tampa is tied for seventh in the NFL in takeaways, with 15.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
You guys know I like to look at the big picture stats first. On paper, the Tampa Bay offense is daunting, but there are some oddities that suggest the strengths and weaknesses of the unit. The Bucs are third in the NFL in yards gained per game (over 400). They are the #1 passing team in the NFL, averaging over 315 yards per game. They are only 27th in the NFL in rushing (90 yards per game). Most importantly, they are third in the NFL in scoring, averaging 31 points per game. (In other words, they AVERAGE more points than the Giants have been able to score in any one single game this year).

Obviously, the centerpiece of the offense is arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game: 44-year old Tom Brady. You are not going to fool Brady. He’s seen it all. He reads defenses exceptionally well and gets rid of the ball quickly. One of the reasons why Tampa’s offense performs so well is that it doesn’t make a lot of negative plays. Negative plays are drive killers. Brady keeps the Bucs out of those situations.

I have not watched all of the Tampa Bay games this year. But in the games that I have watched, what sticks out to me is the dink-and-dunk nature of their passing attack. At one point last week in the Tampa Bay-Washington game, Brady went a long stretch without throwing the ball more than 10 yards down the field. But when you look at their team stats, the Buccaneers have over 40 passing plays that have gained more than 20 yards. From what I can tell, much of this comes from yards after the catch, combined with Brady lulling defenses into the belief that he won’t go deep. At one point late in the Washington game, the left corner let WR Mike Evans run right by him for an easy deep touchdown catch (the safety was late getting over too). So in other words, while Brady may not be heavily reliant on the deep (or even intermediate) passing game, he will still burn you if you fall asleep on it.

The other important element to consider is that Brady gets rid of the ball so quickly (combination of the short passing schemes and his ability to read defenses so well) that teams rarely get to him on the pass rush. Brady has only been sacked 12 times this year and is getting rid of the ball on average in 2.38 seconds. That’s an ominous sign for a Giants team that only has accrued 19 sacks this year.

How did Washington beat Tampa? They never seriously felt threatened by Tampa’s ground game even though they averaged over 4 yards per carry in that contest. Washington only allowed two completions down the field (the aforementioned 40-yarder to Evans and a 29-yarder in the first half). The only other play that gained more than 15 yards was a short pass where Evans gained yards after the catch and the defender yanked on his face mask. What Washington did differently is they tackled well on short completions in front of the sticks.

If I’m Patrick Graham, I use a similar game plan. Focus on the pass, not the run. The Bucs really use the short-passing game on 1st down as an extension of their ground game anyways. Don’t bother blitzing Brady all that much. You’re not going to get there. Rely on Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Austin Johnson, and one of the outside pass rushers to generate inconsistent pass pressure. Perhaps send someone up the A gap occasionally to get in his face immediately (he’s not mobile). But I would focus on coverage, especially underneath. Trust James Bradberry and Adoree’ Jackson to take the outside receivers with some help from the free safety. Bradberry has a lot of experience against Evans. The key here is to play tight, aggressive coverage on the underneath targets, and most importantly, gang tackle after the catch. The bad news for the Giants is that Brady’s long-time security blanket, Rob Gronkowski, is expected back for this game.

Brady’s top target is slot receiver Chris Godwin, who has 57 catches and four touchdowns. He does a lot of damage after the catch. Evans is the big play guy. He has nine of Brady’s League-leading 27 touchdown passes (19 more than Daniel Jones). Brady also throws a lot to running backs Leonard Fournette and Giovani Bernard (59 catches between the two of them). A key will be if wide receiver Antonio Brown, who has been dealing with ankle issues, plays.

On the surface, we appear to have a match-up between an offense that likes to dink-and-dunk its way down the field and a defense that bends but doesn’t like to break (at least in recent weeks). That would seem to suggest Brady moving the ball well and the Giants hoping they can stop him in the red zone. I don’t like that scenario. I think Graham has to take more chances, not so much with blitzing, but with playing more aggressive underneath coverage and taking chances deeper in the secondary. Get off of the field before the red zone. The fly in the ointment here is that the traffic controller in the secondary, Logan Ryan, will miss the game. Xavier McKinney and Julian Love will both really be on the spot.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
I assume Pharoh Cooper will be elevated to the game-day roster again this week. The Giants desperately need to break one in their return game.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett on having more of his component parts last available against the Saints in Week 4:Yeah, certainly that was a game where we were most healthy, and our guys played really well in a tough environment against a good team. So that’s something you certainly want to build on, but each game is unique.

THE FINAL WORD:
The bye came at the right moment for the Giants. But this is not the best match-up for the Giants coming out of the bye, facing the NFL Champions on Monday night, coming off an embarrassing loss. Most expect the Giants to lose to the Bucs and fall to 3-7. If that happens, the Giants won’t be dead yet, but their margin for error gets uncomfortably small.

That all said, this Bucs team is not unbeatable. Washington proved that. The Giants are getting some important pieces back too. It comes down to how rusty the Giants will be coming off of the bye (and how rusty those keys players who missed time with injuries will be) combined with how angry the Bucs team they will be facing will be. Historically speaking, the Giants usually play well in Tampa.

Nov 192021
 
Logan Ryan, New York Giants (October 24, 2021)

Logan Ryan – © USA TODAY Sports

NOVEMBER 19, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
The New York Giants practiced on Friday at Quest Diagnostics Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Not practicing were WR Sterling Shepard (quad), LB Lorenzo Carter (illness/ankle), S Logan Ryan (COVID protocols), and S Nate Ebner (knee).

According to press reports, the asymptomatic Ryan tested negative for COVID on Thursday, but tested positive on Friday. He will be tested again in order to determine if today’s test was a false positive.

“(Ryan) wouldn’t be completely ruled out at this point for the game,” Head Coach Joe Judge said. “We’ve got to wait and see in terms of the test results coming up… There’s still another test, we’re waiting on the results coming back.”

Limited in practice were RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), RB Devontae Booker (hip), FB Cullen Gillaspia (calf), and TE Kaden Smith (knee).

Feel pretty good,” Barkley said after practice. “Getting better every day. Just continue to get acclimated and take it one day at a time, listen to the training staff, listen to the coaches.”

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Friday 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 Giants practice again on Saturday. Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will also address the media.

Nov 182021
 
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (October 3, 2021)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

NOVEMBER 18, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
The New York Giants practiced on Thursday at Quest Diagnostics Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Not practicing were WR Sterling Shepard (quad), TE Kaden Smith (knee), LB Lorenzo Carter (illness/ankle), and S Nate Ebner (knee).

Limited in practice were RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), RB Devontae Booker (hip), and FB Cullen Gillaspia (calf).

LT Andrew Thomas (ankle), who is currently on Injured Reserve but designated for return, practiced at least on a limited basis.

ROSTER MOVES…
The Giants have signed LB Benardrick McKinney to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad. McKinney has already been temporarily elevated to the game-day roster three times this season.

The Giants also signed RB Jonathan Williams to the Practice Squad. The 27-year old, 6’0”, 217-pound Williams was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. He has spent time with the Bills (2016-2017), Denver Broncos (2017), New Orleans Saints (2017–2018), Indianapolis Colts (2018–2019), Detroit Lions (2020), and Washington Football Team (2020-2021). Overall, Williams has played in 28 regular-season games with one start. He has rushed the ball 80 times for 334 yards and two touchdowns.

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 Giants practice again on Friday. Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will also address the media.

Nov 172021
 
Joe Judge, New York Giants (November 7, 2021)

Joe Judge – © USA TODAY Sports

NOVEMBER 17, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
The New York Giants held a light, walk-thru practice on Wednesday at Quest Diagnostics Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. However, since the team does not play until next Monday, the Giants are not required to issue an injury report until Thursday.

Absent from practice, working on the side with trainers, or appearing limited to stretching activities were RB Devontae Booker (hip), WR Sterling Shepard (quad), TE Kaden Smith (knee), LT Andrew Thomas (foot/ankle), OLB Lorenzo Carter (ankle/illness), S Nate Ebner (ankle), and PK Graham Gano (illness).

Gano will not be in the building today,” said Head Coach Joe Judge before practice. “Him and Lorenzo Carter have a stomach bug type of thing, so we kept them out of the building to keep it away from everybody else.”

Thomas was officially designated to return to practice from Injured Reserve, initiating the three-week window where he will either have to be activated to the 53-man roster or remain on Injured Reserve.

RB Saquon Barkley (ankle) participated in today’s walk-thru practice.

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 Giants practice again on Thursday. The coordinators, position coaches, and select players will also address the media.

Nov 152021
 
Leonard Williams, New York Giants (November 7, 2021)

Leonard Williams – © USA TODAY Sports

NOVEMBER 15, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
The New York Giants held a light practice on Monday at Quest Diagnostics Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. However, since the team does not play until next Monday, the Giants are not required to issue an injury report until Thursday.

“Returning off the bye, today’s focus will continue to remain on us,” said Head Coach Joe Judge before practice. “Today will be a lighter day in terms of getting out there and getting the guys’ bodies moving. Lot of fundamentals, couple different things we’ll work as a team in terms of leading into some schematics going through the back-end stretch of the season, we’ll kind of introduce today. Other than that, biggest thing right now is getting the guys back and moving, back out of vacation mode and back into football.”

Working with trainers on the side were WR Sterling Shepard (quad), LT Andrew Thomas (foot/ankle), OLB Lorenzo Carter (ankle), and S Nate Ebner (ankle).

“Andrew (Thomas) will move around a little bit with the trainers today,” said Head Coach Joe Judge before practice. “We’ll kind of see him over the next couple of days in terms of progress he’s making. It’s been moving in the right direction. In terms of Saquon (Barkley), he’ll be out here today doing some stuff with us and we’ll see how that kind of builds in throughout the rest of the week. He lost a lot last week not having the availability with the COVID stuff. That set him back a little bit – I wouldn’t say set him back physically, but in terms of his timetable and not having him ready for that game. But, optimistic we’ll have him out there today and see how he moves.”

Excused for personal reasons were RB Devontae Booker, FB Eli Penny, and PK Graham Gano.

RB Gary Brightwell was activated off of the Reserve/COVID-19 List.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Monday 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 players are off on Tuesday and return to practice on Wednesday.

Nov 142021
 
Sam Huff, New York Giants (November 18, 1962)

Sam Huff (1962)

Robert Lee Huff, popularly known as “Sam,” an All-Pro and Pro Football Hall of Fame member who helped popularize professional football during its ascendancy in the late 1950s, and the first recognizable personality who played only defense, passed away at the age of 87 on Saturday.

Huff joined the New York Football Giants in 1956, the first year the team called Yankee Stadium its home. He was an offensive and defensive guard in college at West Virginia who struggled in his first professional camp and nearly walked away before being talked out of quitting by assistant coach Vince Lombardi. Huff would quickly become a star as the Giants would win their first NFL championship in 17 years in 1956 on the strength of defensive coach Tom Landry’s new 4-3 defense. Huff was the first true middle linebacker and his #70 became recognizable on the field and TV screens across the country as the New York fans chanted “DEE-FENSE” and “HUFF, HUFF, HUFF.”

Landry said, “Sam was a very disciplined player. The thing that made him so good was that he would listen, and he would do what was necessary to operate our defense. The effectiveness of the 4-3 depends on the defensive team recognizing a formation, knowing what plays can be run from that formation, and then recognizing keys that tell them the likely play or plays to expect.”

Huff said, “It was really simple when you think about it. We’d have the ‘Inside 4-3,’ where the defensive tackle would shut off the middle and the linebackers would pursue to the outside, or we’d go to the ‘Outside 4-3,’ where the tackle would angle outside and I would come up the middle and make a play in there, or catch the play from behind. All the years we played, that’s all I ever did. We got so good at it, it became almost second nature to everyone on the unit.”

Sam Huff, New York Giants (1959)Madison Avenue took notice. After the 1958 season and the “Greatest Game Ever Played,” Huff began appearing in advertisements, which previously had been exclusive to offensive stars. In 1959, Huff graced the cover of Time Magazine, the first professional football player to receive that level of recognition.

The Giants and Cleveland Browns were the NFL’s marquee rivalry during this era. Sam Huff and Cleveland back Jim Brown had a rivalry of their own, as they were the centerpieces of their respective teams units. Typically, whichever player had the better game would have his team on the winning side of the final score. Landry said, “Our defense was not designed specifically for Sam Huff to stop Jim Brown, our defense was designed to stop the offense we were working against. Our defense was based on coordination. Sam was just one of the 11 people who were coordinated. Specifically, the front seven was coordinated against the run. He was just one element in that group. But he got great recognition, which he deserved, because in this particular defense he was stopping Jim Brown, who is almost unstoppable.”

Less than a year later, in October 1960, Huff was the subject of a 30-minute CBS television special hosted by Walter Cronkite, titled “The Violent World of Sam Huff.” The show was groundbreaking as Huff was fitted with a microphone and transmitter in his shoulder pads. The program was a hit and Huff became a sensation.

Sam Huff, New York Giants (December 17, 1961)

Sam Huff (1961)

Despite Huff’s individual success (five Pro Bowls; All-Pro in 1958 and 1959) and widespread popularity, he was shockingly traded to Washington following the 1963 season, ending his eight-year run as the centerpiece of the Giants’ defense. The controversial transaction created a legendary grudge between Huff and then Giants head coach Allie Sherman, who masterminded the move.

Huff exacted his revenge in a 1966 game at Washington. Near the end of the game, with the Redskins leading 69-41 and having possession of the ball on New York’s side of the field, Huff called a time out, unbeknownst to Redskins’ Head Coach Otto Graham, and sent out the field goal team. Charlie Gogolak’s kick extended Washington’s lead to 72-41 and broke two records: most total points scored in a game with 114, and the Redskins’ 72 as the most scored by one team. All of which was intended to humiliate Sherman.

Huff recalled: “While Otto was talking to (quarterback) Sonny (Jurgensen), I took it upon myself to yell for the field goal team to get out there. After the game, Otto took a lot of heat for kicking the field goal and rubbing it in. But that wasn’t Otto’s decision, it was all mine. The 72 points we scored were for a lot of people: me, Mo (Dick Modzeleski), (Cliff) Livingston, Rosey (Grier), and all the old Giants. That was a day of judgment, and in my mind, justice was finally done.”

Huff retired as a player following the 1967 season, but was talked into returning to Washington as a player-coach in 1969 by Lombardi for one final season.

Sam Huff, New York Giants (1957)

Sam Huff (1957)

Ultimately, Huff reconciled with the Giants’ organization and spent three years as their color commentator of radio broadcasts from 1972 through 1974.

Huff played 102 games in a Giants uniform. His 18 career interceptions still rank him tied for 15th in franchise history, two of those were returned for touchdowns. He also recovered 11 fumbles and scored twice on those recoveries. Huff’s nose for the end zone was also apparent on special teams as he scored a touchdown on a blocked punt recovery at Green Bay in 1957.

Huff was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982, was named to the 1950s All-Decade Team, and commemorated into the Giants Ring of Honor in 2010. He is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and had his number #75 retired by the Virginia Mountaineers.

Nov 102021
 
Xavier McKinney, New York Giants (November 7, 2021)

Xavier McKinney – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS HOLD FINAL PRACTICE BEFORE BYE WEEK…
The New York Giants held a light practice on Wednesday at Quest Diagnostics Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. This was their final practice for the rest of the week as the team is on its bye week.

XAVIER McKINNEY NAMED “NFC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK”…
New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney has been named “NFC Defensive Player of the Week” for his performance against the Las Vegas Raiders last Sunday. In that game, McKinney intercepted two passes, including one that he returned 41 yards for a defensive touchdown in the 23-16 victory. McKinney was also credited with seven tackles in the game.

McKinney now joins quarterback Daniel Graham and place kicker Graham Gano as Giants players who have won “Player of the Week” honors in 2021.

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…
There is no scheduled availability to the team until next Monday.

Nov 092021
 
Devontae Booker, New York Giants (November 7, 2021)

Devontae Booker – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS HOLD LIGHT PRACTICES BEFORE BYE WEEK…
The New York Giants held a light practice on Tuesday at Quest Diagnostics Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The team will hold another light practice on Wednesday before breaking until next week. The Giants have a bye this weekend.

The Giants split their roster into two groups on Tuesday. Veterans and player with a lot of snaps on the season went with the strength and conditioning staff. The remaining players went with the coaches for on-field drills.

Bye week-wise, we got the guys in today, reviewed the game tape, talked through a few self-scout things,” said Head Coach Joe Judge before practice. “We’re going to get the guys on the field today. We’re going to split the team based a little bit on where some of the guys’ bodies are at, so we’re going to have the majority of the older guys who played a lot of volume in last week’s game, they’re going to work a lot with the trainers, the strength staff after our walk-through today. We’ll keep a lot of the younger guys out for some developmental work and we’ll do something very similar tomorrow, as well. So, we’ll be on the field a little bit over an hour today total with different plans and then we’ll regroup on the backend for some meetings, continue some self-scout and build in some things going into future opponents.”

RB Devontae Booker (hip), RB Gary Brightwell (COVID-19), WR Sterling Shepard (quad), and TE Kaden Smith (knee) did not practice. Smith did not suffer a concussion as feared in Sunday’s game; he has officially passed the concussion protocol.

RB Saquon Barkley (ankle) and LT Andrew Thomas (foot/ankle) both did very light work with trainers.

GIANTS CUT SAM BEAL…
The Giants have waived CB Sam Beal. The Giants selected Beal in the 3rd round of the Supplemental Draft in July 2018. He missed all of his rookie season when he was placed on Injured Reserve in July 2018 with a shoulder injury that required surgery. The Giants placed Beal on Injured Reserve again in September 2019 with hamstring and groin injuries, but added him to the 53-man roster in early November. He played in six games with three starts that season. Beal opted out of the 2020 NFL season due to the COVID-19 issue. He played in three games this year, but only played a couple of defensive snaps. Overall, Beal only played in nine games as a Giant.

The team also terminated the Practice Squad contract of RB Dexter Williams, who was signed by the team last week.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Tuesday 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 Giants practice again on Wednesday. Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will also address the media.

Nov 092021
 
Quincy Roche, New York Giants (November 7, 2021)

Quincy Roche – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

Throughout the course of a football season, every franchise hits adversity. Some of it is injury-based, some of it is off-field-based. The 1st-place Las Vegas Raiders, off to their best start in 5 years, have hit as much adversity off of the field as any team in the league. Team President Marc Badain shockingly resigned in July without warning, Head Coach Jon Gruden “resigned” in October amid turmoil that stemmed from emails sent a decade ago, and 2020 1st-round pick Henry Ruggs III was just released days ago after hitting and killing a 23-year-old woman and her dog while driving intoxicated. The Raiders have been put through the wringer, but to this point, they had proven to be able to rise above and win games, plain and simple.

The Giants’ final game prior to their bye week came on short rest against a team that had come off 13 days of rest. It was near, but not quite at, the tail end of a really difficult stretch of opponents that were all .500 or better in the win column. They were still without running back Saquon Barkley and left tackle Andrew Thomas in addition to slot receiver Sterling Shepard. Their offense has rarely operated at full strength this year, but it certainly did not look that way at the start of the game.

I have been vocal about how effective 1st-down play-action has been for Jones and the Giants offense. It forces him into simpler and more timely reads, but most importantly, it aids the offensive line. NYG opened the game with a 9-yard completion using 1st-down play-action. After 5 solid gains, 3 of which were positive running plays using Devontae Booker, NYG found themselves at the LV 30. 2nd-down play-action was the call again and Daniel Jones hit Evan Engram up the right sideline for a touchdown. NYG had the 7-0 lead just over 4 minutes into the contest. This was the final NYG offensive touchdown of the day.

The lead didn’t last long. LV has a first-round running back of their own, Josh Jacobs, who had been off to a tough start to the season. He appeared to be getting his game back on track on the first drive, gaining 39 of the team’s 73 yards as they marched down the field in just over 5 minutes, capping it off with a touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Hunter Renfrow. The teams traded scoreless possessions and then NYG made their first two big mistakes of the day.

Special teamer Keion Crossen was flagged for a personal foul after seeking out punter Andy Lee and laying him out about 15-20 yards away from the play. Instead of 1st-and-10 from the 49, NYG began with the ball from the 34. On the very first play, left tackle Matt Peart was beat by Yannick Ngakoue, who sacked Jones and forced a fumble which was recovered by LV. The NYG defense was able to plug the hole, keeping LV to a field goal. LV was up 10-7 as the second quarter was under way.

NYG was moving the chains via Booker and the short passing game. As they reached midfield again, they had a string of three plays that not only halted the drive but also pushed them back nearly 20 yards. A hold on guard Matt Skura, a 7-yard loss on a screen to Elijhaa Penny, and a 6-yard loss on a failed double-pass attempt using Kadarius Toney. NYG did then force a 3-and-out to get the ball back to Jones and the offense.

Booker continued to impress in addition to a solid pickup on a pass to Kenny Golladay to lead NYG back toward field-goal position. Jones started off 8-for-8 on the day. Another sack by Ngakoue killed the momentum, however, and NYG settled on a 35-yard field goal to tie the game. The first half ended with LV putting another 3 points on the board via a 32-yard field goal by Daniel Carlson, his 39th in a row from 40 or less yards. They had the lead, 13-10, at the break.

The NYG offense had gained 75 yards on their first 7 plays (10.7 per) of the game. Since then? 82 yards on 22 plays (3.7 per). The defense came out knowing they would have to create on their own if they had any shot in this one. They did so right away. Safety Xavier McKinney, an emerging player on this defense, took an interception into the end zone on the third play of the second half to give NYG a 17-13 lead.

The following LV possession was the longest of the day. A 15-play, 85-yard drive included just three third downs. Their offense was clicking and spreading the ball around as the NYG pass rush yet again struggled to get consistent pressure on deep drop backs. The defense did come up with another red-zone stop, however, holding LV to another field goal to get the visiting team within one. NYG marched into the red zone themselves and had a 1st down from the LV 20, but they too had to settle on a field goal. They increased the lead back to 4 as the 4th quarter was under way.

LV gained 67 yards on their first three plays. They were 1st-and-10 from the NYG 14 but the defense stepped up when it mattered most again, forcing LV into another short field goal attempt. This one from 25 yards. Carlson’s streak ended there, however, as he hooked it and saw the ball turn outside the uprights. NYG did not add any more points, but they did take over 3 minutes off of the clock before punting it back to Carr and the LV offense. This is the moment the NYG defense had been failing, but not today.

McKinney, the emerging player who had made the biggest play of the game to this point, came up with his second interception of the half. It was exactly what many of the NYG faithful had been wanting from the position for so long. Instincts, intelligence, reaction, closing speed, and ball skills. This gave NYG the ball back and they kept the clock moving to the point where LV had to burn their timeouts. The automatic Graham Gano hit his third field goal of the day to give NYG a 7-point lead with just over 3 minutes left.

The game did not end without drama, however. LV moved the ball rather easily. They traveled 52 yards and had a 1st-and-10 from the NYG 13-yard line with just under 1 minute remaining. On 2nd-and-10, an unexpected hero arose from the blind side. Quincy Roche, a 2021 5th round draft pick who was scooped off of waivers from PIT, sacked Carr and forced a fumble. Leonard Williams finished it off by hopping on the loose ball and that was it.

NYG wins 23-16.

See you in 2 weeks.

QUARTERBACK

-Daniel Jones: 15/20 – 110 yards / 1 TD – 0 INT / 104.2 RAT

Jones also added 17 yards on 4 carries. It is rare to see a quarterback throw the ball just 20 times in a game unless weather or time of possession was a major factor. Neither were true in this game. NYG was having success on the ground and there were too many mismatches in the trenches for Garrett to go pass-heavy. Jones had a few high-level throws in this one, but couldn’t get the ball downfield often. His fumble was a result of poor ball-handling in traffic (although the pressure came from the blind side). He took what the defense gave him, didn’t make any poor decisions, and came up with a handful of clutch throws. All of this with very little support up front. A solid, yet unspectacular game for Jones.

RUNNING BACK

-Devontae Booker: 21 att – 99 yards / 3 rec – 23 yards

Second week in a row for Booker where he could make a strong case for being the best offensive player of the game. Booker’s production was solid (4.7 yards per carry / 7.7 yards per catch), but it wasn’t a performance that took over the game. That isn’t the point. Booker was netting positive play after positive play. He was moving the ball forward time and time again with the occasional big gain. That means so much to an offense in more ways than one, and it is something Barkley should take note of moving forward. More on that below.

-Elijhaa Penny deserves mention. He gained 35 yards on 5 carries. The 2 biggest carries of the game were on the final drive where NYG’s main task was to bleed the clock. He had consecutive carries that gained 11 and 12 yards, respectively. Two plays later was his top play of the game, in my opinion. He took a pass and lost a yard, but made a quick decision to anchor himself in the ground near the sideline to keep the clock moving. It was an extremely intelligent football play.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Very quiet day from this group. They, as an entire position group, saw just 4 targets. I cannot remember a game where the receivers saw just 4 targets. Kenny Golladay caught both of his for 28 yards, Kadarius Toney caught his for a 9-yard gain to convert a 3rd-down, and Darius Slayton’s target was uncatchable.

-I can’t really comment much on the group overall, but I am disappointed that on a day where the offense mightily struggled, Toney was on the field for only 31 snaps. He was thrown to once, he was given one carry, and he was given one pass “attempt” (which resulted in a sack). There is a time to take what the defense gives you, but the best offensive minds find ways to get their best play-makers involved and in advantageous situations. Garrett dropped the ball here.

TIGHT END

-The tight end group received twice as many targets as the receiver group, another number I cannot recall ever seeing from this franchise. Kyle Rudolph caught a 9-yard pass on the first play of the game before bringing in another 11 combined yards on 3 more catches.

-Evan Engram caught his second touchdown in as many weeks on the longest NYG gain of the game. His 30-yard score included an impressive play on the ball right before the goal line. His two other receptions combined for just 8 yards.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-It appears that the mismatch in the trenches dictated a huge portion of the NYG play-calling. They, as a group, could not handle the LV pass rush, in particular on the outside. Matt Peart received the lowest grade on the line, allowing 2 sacks and 2 pressures. He was very good in the running game, however. He is a mauler who has natural power and good straight-line movement. His ability to come down on the defensive tackles and wash them out was on display multiple times. The skill set for pass protection, however, isn’t there yet. Nate Solder allowed 2 pressures.

-Matt Skura and Billy Price were both poor as well. Skura allowed a TFL and 2 pressures in addition to being flagged for a holding penalty. Price allowed a pressure and 2 TFL. For an offense that had a solid running game performance, these two did not contribute to it the way you would think. They both were getting pushed backward but were bailed out by the adjustment speed of Booker and Penny both.

-Will Hernandez had one of the best games we have seen out of him this season and one of the top-5 performances of his career according to my grading sheet. He, along with Peart, moved defenders off of the ball, locked on to his opponent, and finished blocks. I was really pleased with him although he struggled in space. The lateral quickness and reaction aren’t his thing and NYG needs to keep him out of those situations as much as possible.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Leonard Williams remains on fire, adding 5 more tackles, 3 more pressures, 1 PD, and fumble recovery to his season stat-line that is top-5 in the NFL at the position. There aren’t many defensive tackles who play 90% of the snaps and that is right where he was. My one negative on him was the three different plays where he was completely blown off the ball by 3-4 yards on LV running plays. He is a bit of a risk taker inside and that style of play fits the scheme well, but there will always be a few big plays in the other direction that come from it

-Dexter Lawrence is picking up steam. He added 6 tackles, 1 TFL, and 1 pressure as he played just over half of the snaps. His anchor against the double-team has improved over the past 3 weeks and his athleticism shows up at some opportune times.

-Unfortunately, Danny Shelton was back on the field after missing a couple games. He was on the field for 10 snaps, and he was dominated (pushed back 3-4 yards) three times. It was a bad look for him and I think I’ve seen enough to say he looks like he is finished.

LINEBACKERS

-With Lorenzo Carter injured and Oshane Ximines a healthy scratch, rookies Azeez Ojulari and Quincy Roche manned the outside spots. Have both flashed enough to warrant the idea that these two should be the feature guys after the bye week? Permanently? Absolutely not. However, I don’t want to see Carter and Ximines receiving the majority number of snaps simply because they entered the season as the starters. We already know what we are getting from them. Ojulari seems entrenched at one spot and rightfully so. Roche deserves his shot on other side. He came up with the sack-fumble to end the game along with 4 tackles and a pressure. Ojulari with 2 tackles, 1 PD, and 1 pressure.

-Tae Crowder bounced back after a poor game at KC. He had 9 tackles and 2 PD. He was playing twitchy and fast. He was the victim of a few poor defensive line plays where he had blockers at his feet in an instant, but when it came to his role playing, he performed well.

-Reggie Ragland is out-snapping Benardrick McKinney. They combined for 8 tackles, and I do see more on-field intelligence from Ragland. However, McKinney is notably faster to the outside and I think he plays more physically as well. I am fine with these two rotating, but eventually McKinney should be the guy to see more snaps. He has more upside.

CORNERBACK

-It was an interesting game from both James Bradberry and Adoree’ Jackson. Like a relief pitcher in baseball, this is a position that we see a lot of back-and-forth on week-to-week basis. In this game, we saw a lot of back-and-forth from series-to-series.

-Jackson made a physical tackle early on in the game but was notably shaken after that. He didn’t come out, but he did play soft rest of the way. He missed 3 tackles from that point, and they all seemed like your classic business decisions. However, he was very good in deep coverage and was the main reason why Bryan Edwards was shut out.

-Bradberry had a couple of key stops on 3rd down, but he was also beat for a touchdown on the opening drive and was luckily not exposed in the box score on two2 others. Carr overthrew Darren Waller on a play where Bradberry was 5+ yards behind the tight end up the seam. Bradberry was also beat later on by Zay Jones badly, but Carr pulled the ball down and scrambled too early to see it. Bradberry was also flagged for illegal contact and missed a tackle. Poor game for him.

-Where Jackson and Bradberry fell short, Darnay Holmes stepped up. He is such a fun player to watch with how borderline-reckless he plays. He did get beat badly by Renfrow on 3rd down but added two pressures as a blitzer. His speed and burst are weapons within the NYG blitz package.

SAFETY

-Xavier McKinney came up with his second multi-interception performance of the year. Both picks in this game were high-level plays on the ball that showcased intelligence, skill, and talent. His role and versatility within this defense are growing and he appears to be the kind of difference maker this defense desperately needs.

-Logan Ryan led the team with 9 tackles including one of the overlooked but vital plays of the game. With the game deep into the 4th quarter and NYG up by 4, Ryan made a key 3rd-down tackle on Josh Jacobs at the 7-yard line. Ryan is among league-leaders in tackles by defensive backs, but his 2 missed tackles added to a total in that department that is alarmingly high. I appreciate everything Ryan is doing for this team on the field and off of it, but the missed tackles are a weekly issue. Remember, he has spent more time at corner than safety in the NFL and he was a college corner. Tackling from a safety is an asset or a liability. Ryan is on the wrong side of that right now.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 3/3 (Made 35, 32, 38)
-P Riley Dixon: 3 punts / 48.7 avg – 47.0 net

3 STUDS

-S Xavier McKinney, OG Will Hernandez, DT Leonard Williams

3 DUDS

-OT Matt Peart, OG Matt Skura, CB James Bradberry

3 THOUGHTS ON LV

(1) The Raiders are in a rare 4-way tie for 1st place in the AFC West theoretically. They are one of four teams that currently have 5 wins. Prior to the year, everyone worth listening to had KC or LAC at the top of this division and here we are, at or near the halfway point and this team has as many reasons to believe they are the class of the division as everyone else. Despite the adversity, their leadership is there in key spots. In addition, anyone who has followed sports for long enough understands that adversity, in some cases, is what binds a team together and brings on a result greater than the sum of its parts. I see LV being that team.

(2) Two of the most important players on this team are recovering alcoholics/addicts. Tight End Darren Waller (5th among TEs in receiving) and Defensive End Maxx Crosby (NFL leader in QB knockdowns) had their own respective careers nearly ruined by drugs and/or alcohol. It is refreshing to see, especially with the turmoil surrounding this team, that there are young men who do turn things around. We should always remember that there are players worth taking calculated risks on, especially prior to joining the NFL. Some of the backgrounds these kids have coming out of college are beyond what many can even comprehend. Sure, there are cases where entering the league and making that kind of money will worsen their habits but the potential for value (from a football perspective) is part of the equation. The 2021 cap hit of these 2 players COMBINED is $7.4 million. $2 million less than Nate Solder alone.

(3) How is the Mike Mayock experiment panning out? The long time NFL Draft analyst took over the General Manager job prior to the 2019 NFL Draft. They won 7 games in 2019, 8 in 2020, and are on track to win 10+ in year 3. His drafts have been very good. 7 out of 9 players from the 2019 Draft are starters or key contributors, 2 out of 7 players from the 2020 draft are key contributors, and early returns on the 2021 class are solid. The biggest black eye comes from the 2020 class, as both 1st rounders were used on players who were cut in the past week. Ruggs, and just-released cornerback Damon Arnette for his own off-field trouble. Now that Gruden is out and knowing Mayock a little bit personally, I can see their key focus moving forward revolving around character even more so. Vegas is not the ideal town for young kids with big money and lack of character.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

(1) This was a very poor offensive game by NYG. How poor? They averaged 4.5 yards per play. The worst offense in the league entering week 9, the Chicago Bears, average 4.4 yards per play. The Miami Dolphins were the next worst at 4.7 yards per play. NYG did this against a defense that is middle of the road in perfect weather conditions at home. While they are still missing Barkley and Thomas, 2 key players, their absence wasn’t enough to warrant this kind of performance. The culprit remains mainly personnel (offensive line) but what I find inexcusable is the lack of effort to get a player like Toney more involved.

(2) Speaking of Barkley being out and, in this game, it not impacting the game a lot, I did some digging on this team’s success with and without Barkley. With #26 on the field at the start of the game, NYG is 9-27 (.250 winning percentage). In games he did not play in at all, NYG is 9-12 (.429 winning percentage). Football sample sizes are often not large enough to come up with objective statements compared to analytics in other sports, however this is worth noting. No, the discussion of whether Barkley is more talented than guys like Booker or Wayne Gallman isn’t even a discussion (although Barkley can learn a thing or two from Booker). We know the answer there. The question has more to do with his future with NYG. Coming from someone who wanted Barkley at #2 overall, there are several things to think about regarding what NYG should do with him over the next 12-18 months. I look forward to those discussions and assume most can be mature and respectful about it. It is going to be an interesting situation to follow.

(3) 3-6 is not a good place to be in this league. With that said, I am a mathematics guy and if there is a fighting statistical chance for post-season play, I always like to think about possibilities. Based on the top-heavy feel of the NFC (the top 4 are in their own tier), the wildcard spots will likely come down to an 8- or 9-win team making the postseason. Can NYG go 5-3 from this point on? 5 of their 8 games remaining are against teams with losing records. Their toughest opponent left (TB) will come with the Giants having a huge rest advantage and with the team having their key missing pieces back in play. I’ll say it because it is true. NYG is in the hunt. Not because they are a very good team, but because they are a team approaching the middle tier and there are a lot of holes in the NFC. The middle tier in this conference is rather bad, to be blunt.