Austin Calitro – © USA TODAY Sports
The NFL’s decision to knock the four-game preseason schedule down to three a year ago is easily one of the best they’ve made under Roger Goodell. The next time we watch NYG football, we will be in the regular season. The fact they get the extra week of preparation and recovery time is another feather in the cap. Before NYG moved onto TEN, they first had to face off against the cross-town rival New York Jets just three days following their joint practice together. Most of the NYG starters did not step on the field after the team warm-up period and Jets Coach Robert Saleh opted to give his ones some snaps in the first half. To each their own.
The Jets, led by their likely Week 1 starter, 37-year-old Joe Flacco, put together a solid drive to start off the game. On a 3rd-and-10 short pass to running back Michael Carter, the second-year back made it to the sticks, but rookie linebacker Micah McFadden knocked the ball loose, which was recovered by fellow linebacker Austin Calitro. NYG responded with a 3-and-out, but at least it allowed the field position battle to go back into NYG’s favor somewhat. The two offenses traded scoreless possessions before Greg Zuerlein nailed a 49-yard field goal through the uprights to make it 3-0.
Ryan Santoso, signed as Graham Gano recovers from a concussion, hit a 36-yard field goal on the ensuing drive as the second quarter got under way. Calitro then took part in his second takeaway of the game, this time an interception from Flacco, and turned it into six points as he made his way into the end zone. Talk about an ascent from camp body / special teamer to a guy that who proven he should be a part of the ILB rotation.
Backup QB Mike White came in for NYJ and engineered a touchdown-scoring drive that ended on a pass to Braxton Berrios, a big part of the NYJ offense and special teams. After two scoreless drives by NYG, White led the offense on a 2-minute drill with just 1:06 remaining from their own 35-yard line. It took just under :40 of game clock to get another touchdown on the board, this time a pass to Calvin Jackson on a 19-yard play. NYJ went into the half with a 17-10 lead after scoring 14 straight points.
Up until the start of the second half, NYG felt a little overmatched in terms of who they were putting on the field vs. what NYJ’s approach was. Once the third quarter began, however, the teams were playing on an even playing field. 2nd, 3rd, 4th stringers hoping for a spot on the roster, practice squad, and/or another team. Davis Webb, who came in the game earlier than expected because of a Tyrod Taylor injury, led the team on a beautiful drive to start it off. 12 plays, 75 yards, two third-down conversions, and one on fourth down eventually led to a 1-yard touchdown run by Jashaun Corbin.
Then on the opening play of the fourth quarter, Webb found rookie tight end Austin Allen for an 18-yard score and NYG was back on top by seven. The two teams traded 3-and-outs before Chris Streveler, who has been the catalyst to some highlight-reel late game plays for the Jets in the preseason, threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Denzel Mims. Mims, a 2020 second-round pick who has recently requested a trade, went off in what may have been his final action in a Jets uniform.
With the game tied up at 24, Santoso came back on the field and hit a 49-yard field goal just over 2:00 remaining. Streveler engineered yet another fourth-quarter drive that resulted in a touchdown, this one on a pass Calvin Jackson again (his second of the day). NYG was down four with under :30 left. Webb did have a shot at the end zone on a late Hail Mary pass, but it fell to the ground. Preseason over.
NYG loses, 31-27.
-Tyrod Taylor was injured on the 9th play of the game. He took a brutal hit from rookie freight train Michael Clemons. He was on the sideline afterward. My guess, without seeing an update at the time of this writing, was a back injury that will not be serious.
-Davis Webb: 30/38 – 202 yards / 1 TD – 0 INT / 97.6 RAT
Webb essentially played the entire game with Taylor coming out early on. He capped off an incredible preseason. Tell you what, if this was a rookie that had been putting him these kinds of numbers, the excitement generated would have broken the NYG internet. Even though most of his action has been against backups and players who will be cut, he did what he was supposed to do. Webb got the ball out fast, he knew where to go with the ball, and he set up his receivers well for after-catch yardage. The funny thing? I think he should be cut and signed to the practice squad. How come? I don’t want to use a 53-man roster spot on him, and I don’t think an opposing team will scoop him up for their own active roster. I am impressed with Webb this time around, much more so than his first time with the Giants. His arm angles are changing, he is throwing better balls, and he appears to be comfortable with the speed and urgency one needs at QB.
-Jashaun Corbin was the most used back. He carried the ball 6 times for 23 yards and a touchdown in addition to catching all 5 targets for 33 yards, most of which came after the catch. Corbin showed enough for a practice squad spot. His best trait stems from balance, body control, and lower body strength which created several missed tackles.
-Gary Brightwell, Antonio Williams, Matt Breida, and Sandro Platzgummer split the remaining snaps. Williams fumbled but it was recovered by NYG. Platzgummer had a 15-yard catch. This position group will not carry a fullback as of right now, so it could enable the team to keep five running backs. This will be interesting to watch. I lean toward keeping four on the 53-man roster with both Corbin and Platzgummer on the PS. If they need an extra PS spot, the latter gets the boot.
-It was interesting to me that David Sills, Darius Slayton, and Richie James all played under 15 snaps. From the outside, it looks like this position group is very much up in the air and this game could have been the final piece of information needed for the tough decisions. Slayton is likely to be traded, thus it made sense to keep him off of the field. But seeing Sills and James stay on the sideline tells me those two are definites for the 53.
-Alex Bachman, an easy guy to root for but may not have a spot open for the roles he fills on an offense, led the team with 6 catches for just 27 yards.
-Wan’Dale Robinson had a catch for 4 yards and a carry on a reverse that gained 11 yards. Three preseason games and we finally got to see a successful gadget play for the rookie who I do think will be a big part of the offense. Jaylon Moore had a drop and will likely join Keelan Doss and Travis Toivonen on the cut-list by the time this is published. Impressive one-handed catch by Toivonen, but he was only brought in to take up snaps, not compete for a job.
-Rookies Daniel Bellinger and Austin Allen both caught all of their targets for a combined 77 yards (7 rec). Allen had his best game the preseason, hauling in a 18-yard touchdown, showing excellent ball skills near the sideline. The height really is something, there aren’t many who measure in like him and he does have accurate hands + timing.
-I still believe this will be the position group that adds someone who shakes free over the next 24-48 hours. There are plenty of teams with over-crowded tight end rooms. BAL, BUF, DEN to name a few that I have been keeping my eye on. Bellinger is the only one who I feel has a very secure hold on a roster spot.
-Daboll smartly held most of the starters out of this one despite NYJ marching out their starting group of talented defensive linemen. It did produce some muddy action early on, but it was good to see who could hold their own. Devery Hamilton did allow a TFL but otherwise played a very solid game. His lack of a power game got him walked back a bit but he stays connected to the defender and he can move his feet in a hurry. He is going to be an important 6th-7th lineman this season.
-The two worst grades of the day were Will Holden and Eric Smith. Both were added after training camp began and I had positive remarks about both from separate practices. They were roasted in this game. Smith allowed 3 pressures and was abused by Bryce Huff (an EDGE who I like a lot). Holden was flagged for a false start and allowed 2 pressures. Both get good initial contact, but the reaction time and sustainability were poor. I suspect both will be gone.
-Jamil Douglas and Max Garcia are veterans with starting experience. There is some value in that, but don’t overreact to it. I think there is a shot Daboll keeps both for the 53-man roster if Lemieux is out for extended time. If I had to choose between the two, I would go with Douglas. He did allow a sack and a pressure in this one but graded out much higher than Garcia in the running game.
-Josh Rivas allowed 2 pressures but was effective in the running game. He is not ready for pro ball but he is worth a PS spot.
-Jihad Ward is an interesting guy. Just about 10% of his 1-year deal is guaranteed. The team could save $1 million by cutting him loose. Not that they are going to be in need of the money, I struggle to see the role for him here. The multi-front scheme and Martindale’s experience with him should land him a spot, but I do think this defense will not need him at edge. I also think keeping Ryder Anderson is essential. Looking at the numbers along this DL, Ward would be my choice to cut loose. He played 16 snaps and besides setting the edge, he does not offer much.
-Oshane Ximines will likely keep his spot unless Kayvon Thibodeaux, Elerson Smith, and Azeez Ojulari all come back healthy and ready for Week 1. Will be interesting to watch. We have seen him play a lot of football here and his performance against NYJ was more of the same. Some physical play against the inside run, but inconsistent setting the edge, feeling blocks, and rushing the passer despite seeing 39 snaps.
-Quincy Roche and Tomon Fox both had quiet games even though they saw a lot of time. The pass rush was very poor in this one with neither of these guys stepping up. Fox is destined for the PS and Roche is the one I would keep around over the two names mentioned above. Martindale may not see enough size, however.
-David Moa and rookie D.J. Davidson both played a solid game, finishing with 4 tackles and stuffing inside running lanes. This regime just brought in Davidson; they did not bring in Moa. Those are the two strong reasons why I think the former will stick around with Justin Ellis and Dexter Lawrence inside. Ellis played some in the first half, making 2 tackles including one on a screen that brought him all the way outside the numbers. Impressive short area burst.
-Ryder Anderson made a tackle at the line of scrimmage and missed a TFL by inches. His tool set, combined with nifty hand work to get off blocks, is impressive. He needs to finish on the 53-man roster if you’re asking me. I would keep him over Jalyn Holmes, Jihad Ward, and Nick Williams without hesitation if it were up to me.
-Blake Martinez and Tae Crowder saw some action early. They are the unquestioned leaders for starting positions in this defense.
-Micah McFadden and Austin Calitro saw most of the snaps otherwise. They were all over the field and combined for 8 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FF, 1 FR, and 1 INT. If you don’t have the time to watch other teams trust me on this: Martindale creates production from linebackers as well as any defensive coordinator in the league. 1st rounders, UDFAs, veterans who have been cut. They all do well under him, and he knows how to find the right fit. Calitro and McFadden do tend to get burned to the sideline and may not impact the opposing passing game, but these two are tacklers. They excelled between the tackles, and they blitz well. This is a solid quartet of inside linebackers.
-With that said, I think Carter Coughlin’s spot is in jeopardy as Cam Brown will be kept around for special teams. Coughlin did add a pressure in this game, but the past regime drafted him, he was hurt for most of camp, and there isn’t much he does better than any of the others to put it simply.
-Maybe the most hectic position on the team in terms of who is sticking around and where they fall on the depth chart. Again, this is a VERY important position in the Martindale scheme. Zyon Gilbert and Olaijah Griffin missed tackles and were beat in coverage multiple times. Khalil Dorsey was flagged for a pass interference that led to a NYJ touchdown late in the game and Harrison Hand allowed a touchdown. It was a rough day for the roster hopefuls.
-Adoree’ Jackson, Darnay Holmes, and Aaron Robinson are the top three, no question. The former two did not play and Robinson finished with 3 tackles and a PD to go along with a missed tackle. Cor’Dale Flott was just drafted, and Rodarius Williams is a second-year player who fits the scheme well. I believe it will be Darren Evans who sticks while the others are cut loose or put on the PS. Remember, Julian Love can play the nickel if needed.
-Nate Meadors was the only defender to play every snap. He led the team with 12 tackles and had an interception negated by a Griffin pass interference. He may have played his way into a PS spot, but I don’t see room for him on the 53-man roster even with rookie Dane Belton recovering from a collar bone injury. Trenton Thompson, however, continued to flash against the run. He pursues well and tackles well in space. He had 4 tackles total and will be a key special teamer.
-Yusuf Corker was cut while I started writing this. He will end up on the PS unless another team wants to bring him onto their 53, which is possible. He was very sought after following the NFL Draft. He finished with 5 tackles, but missed 2 others. That was a problem for him in college.
-K Ryan Santoso: 2/2 (made 36, 49)
-P Jamie Gillian: 5 punts / 55.6 avg – 44.8 net
-LB Austin Calitro, QB Davis Webb, RB Jashaun Corbin
-OT Will Holden, OT Eric Smith, CB Olajiah Griffin
3 THOUGHTS ON NYJ
1. I admire General Manager Joe Douglas from afar as much as any GM in the league. While his regime may fully rest on the shoulders of Zach Wilson, his approach to building a roster from the trenches is a breath of fresh air. I think this team will be competitive this season, right around .500, and playing meaningful football in December. The biggest reason is what they have along the OL and DL. Free agent signings, draft picks, waiver adds, and financial commitments have been spot on here. I think they are going to get multiple trade offers for their DL.
2. Rookie Michael Clemons (the one that hurt Taylor) is a guy you can’t help but stare at both in person and on film. He is massive, he plays angry and powerful, and he has first round-caliber plays here and there. There are some character issues here but if this coaching staff keeps him dialed in, he will be an impact player on this team. He wins with hustle and power more than quickness and burst, but this scheme can use that better than others.
3. Is there a template NYG can take from NYJ when it comes to roster building? The one thing I take is very macro-level. And it is the fact that the GM and Head Coach speak the same language, they have the same vision, and they want to build the roster a specific way. Time will tell if Daboll and Schoen are on the same page, but many signs point toward that being the case. That alone is a major positive this franchise has seemed to miss out on since the Coughlin-era.
3 THOUGHTS ON NYG
1. The more we see this offense operate under Kafka/Daboll, the more I am confident they will get the ball out faster than we have seen possibly ever. While the best offenses can do both, this will help cancel many of the negative plays. Even the urgency Daboll wants from his running backs will add to this positive difference. Step one to fixing that side of the ball is getting rid of plays where the chains go backward. I am very confident we will see that in 2022.
2. Speaking of the offense and Kafka/Daboll, I am curious who they will choose to call plays. Daboll was the play-caller in BUF and he does not need to manage much (if anything) defensively. I would feel better about him calling the plays this season. Allow Kafka to take in more from a game-planning and observation role to pick up any differences / similarities to what he saw in KC with Andy Reid, the best offensive mind in football.
3. NYG was put through the wringer with injuries throughout the first half of camp and preseason. It does seem they are in a good enough spot for the start of the season though. The OL injuries appear very minor, Thibodeaux should be ready by Week 3 at the absolute latest, the best defensive players are a full-go, and the receivers + Barkley are ready to rock. All in all, things appear just fine on the injury front.
Below is my 53-man roster projection with a TE waiver claim. This is SO fluid with cuts from other teams and the injury situations (couple of these guys could be put in IR and come back in October), but based on my time watching the game films and multiple practices, here it is:
Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor
Saquon Barkley, Matt Breida, Antonio Williams, Gary Brightwell
Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Sterling Shepard, Wan’Dale Robinson, David Sills V, Richie James
Daniel Bellinger, Chris Myarick, Waiver Pick-Up*
Andrew Thomas, Shane Lemieux, Jon Feliciano, Mark Glowinski, Evan Neal, Devery Hamilton, Joshua Ezeudu, Ben Bredeson, Jamil Douglas, Max Garcia
Jihad Ward, Azeez Ojulari, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Elerson Smith, Quincy Roche
Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Justin Ellis, Ryder Anderson, DJ Davidson
Blake Martinez, Tae Crowder, Micah McFadden, Austin Calitro, Cam Brown
Adoree’ Jackson, Darnay Holmes, Aaron Robinson, Cor’Dale Flott, Rodarius Williams, Darren Evans
Xavier McKinney, Julian Love, Trenton Thompson, Dane Belton
-Graham Gano, Jamie Gillian, Casey Kreiter