-Davis Webb: 23/40 – 168 yards / 1 TD- 0 INT / 75.8 RAT / 6 att – 41 yards / 1 TD
Such a feel-good story here for a kid drafted in the third round by NYG near the end of the Eli Manning era. The future coach has been waived five times since 2018, never started an NFL game, and had never thrown a pass in a regular-season game. That all changed as he took on the #1 seed Eagles in a game NYG was resting the majority of the entire offensive line and starting skill position players matched up against a defense that was throwing the entire starting lineup on the field. Talk about a tall order!
Webb earned the respect of everybody in this one. He was under pressure for most of the game but responded with zero turnovers and avoided taking one sack. His internal clock and escapability were the top two traits I saw out of him. Nobody is going to mistake Webb for the athlete Jones is, but he has such a good feel for when to take off and run. This game was a prime example for young QBs to see just how valuable it is to get the ball out in a hurry when an offense is overmatched. Webb took what the PHI defense gave and ended up scoring two touchdowns, one on the ground and one in the air. He may never get this opportunity again and I’m glad this lone career start went the way it did.
-Saquon Barkley stayed in sweats on the sideline, an easy decision for the staff. I don’t believe there was any debate with that one. Gary Brightwell was the biggest beneficiary, seeing a career-high 60 yards on 11 carries. He was impressive with how many tackle attempts he ripped through, gaining most of his yards after contact (47). The overall sample size is still pretty small, but this kid has shown he belongs. The burst, power, and passion he displays can be a difference maker. He has broken a tackle once every 5 touches this year. Incredibly low data, I know. But just for reference, Barkley broke one every 8 touches.
-Matt Breida gained 28 yards on 4 carries and added 7 catches for 12 yards. His explosion and speed in the open field is the best on the team and quite frankly near the best in the NFL at the position. If I had to choose one off-the-radar guy who I think can create a huge play against MIN next Sunday, it is Breida. This guy can fly.
-Kenny Golladay signed a 4-year, $72 million in 2021. It will go down as one of the worst contracts in league history when looking at dollars spent, and production posted. In the 26th game of his tenure with NYG, Golladay scored his first touchdown. It was a remarkable play that brought back the memories of his career in Detroit where he made several high-caliber, highlight-reel catches. He finished what I expect to be his final regular-season game here with 2 receptions for 30 yards.
-Isaiah Hodgins did not see the field. Darius Slayton only was in the game for three snaps. Richie James only saw snaps on special teams. That opened the door for Marcus Johnson, who led the position group with 36 yards and 3 catches. Webb missed him downfield on a broken play where PHI simply forgot about him. It would have been a 40+ yard gain, at least.
-Daniel Bellinger was a healthy inactive for this one, a sign of how much they value the rookie fourth rounder. This opened the door for Lawrence Cager, an overlooked in-season pick up who I wish had more opportunities when Bellinger was out. His receiving skillset is obvious. He led the team with 8 catches for 69 yards, showing elite ball skills on passes away from his body. There is a different level of twitch to the former wide receiver’s post-catch movement. It was his effort and power that converted a short pass on 4th-and-1 for a first down on the first NYG touchdown drive.
-Nick Vannett saw a season-high 55 snaps. He added 2 catches for 18 yards and some quality blocking on the edge.
-Evan Neal got the start at right tackle and played about half the snaps before Matt Peart relieved him. It was an ugly game for the rookie, who has piled up those performances this season. He allowed three pressures and was flagged for two false starts. I don’t want to keep repeating myself, but I want to reiterate that Neal is one of the most vital players on this team next week. His bad-caliber games can put such a restriction on the passing attack. He just does not have it right now. The losses on an island are the same every week. Big test for him.
-Tyre Phillips got the start at left tackle, while Andrew Thomas was inactive. He allowed four pressures, and all things considered, was not bad. I will not label it a victory for the third-year veteran, but his run-blocking performance did help his overall grade a bit. Matt Peart got some playing time at right tackle and appears to have the same shortcomings we have seen in the past. He was flagged for a false start and allowed a pressure. He does not even look comfortable in his stance, let alone on an island against the most underrated edge defender in the league, Haason Reddick.
-Inside we saw a mix of players, but Ben Bredeson and Jack Anderson were the two who played every snap. Their match-ups against the PHI interior defensive line is about as hard as it gets in the NFL. Both allowed two pressures and Bredeson allowed a TFL. There isn’t much to say beyond the fact there is such a big gap in talent between the PHI line and Bredeson/Anderson. Considering that, we got what we expected there, and I hate saying stuff like this, but it could have been much worse.
-Wyatt Davis got his feet wet with 26 snaps down the stretch when Nick Gates (who played well) went out, and Bredeson moved to OC. Remember, Davis was a recent third -round pick (2021). The 26 snaps were by far a career-high (he never saw more than 2 snaps in a game prior to this) and I liked his initial pop/power. He allowed 1 pressure and got movement in the running game. Definitely a guy I want to keep around.
-Azeez Ojulari, Kayvon Thibodeaux, and Jihad Ward sat the game out. It was the right call in my eyes. That also opened the door for Tomon Fox and Oshane Ximines to get a full plate of playing time. They both played all 73 defensive snaps. Fox played a better game, finishing with 4 tackles and 2 pressures, one of which led to a sack. Ximines added 2 tackles and an untouched pressure.
-There is one thing I’ve noticed in recent weeks. Ward’s role (mix of OLB + DE + DT) does not have a true backup. It is not a big deal because you can fill his role with other guys based on the situation, but I think his spot is something NYG will be attacking in the draft. I have a list of at least five guys who can do it in the upcoming class.
-So much of this defense is on the shoulders of the DT duo of Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence. I was glad to see them both inactive for this one. Ryder Anderson and Justin Ellis saw an uptick in playing time and it wasn’t pretty. Anderson did pressure Hurts twice, but he was on ice skates against the run. He was easily driven back 3-4 yards multiple times. Ellis, a much bigger body, was not driven back as much but he wasn’t stout either. Tough day for these two.
-Henry Mondeaux and Jack Heflin held their ground better. The former added 2 tackles.
-Jarrad Davis made his debut with the Giants. The former first-round pick has bounced between practice squads and backup roles on the 53-man rosters of DET and NYJ since 2017. This guy plays the high-risk, high-speed, violent brand of football that Martindale loves to use. He finished with 10 tackles, a half-sack, and a pressure. He is very linear. Meaning he can shoot downhill and make an impact, but the issue of lack of twitchy lateral adjustment is still there. Simply a guy who plays fast and strong, but not quick if that makes sense. No, I don’t think he will be a factor next week at all. I doubt he has a strong grasp of the playbook. But a fun tape to watch and maybe he turns into the next version of Jaylon Smith this upcoming offseason.
-Micah McFadden played his best game of the season on 35 snaps. He had 7 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL, and the most physical hits of the afternoon on both sides. He has always been instinctive and solid between the tackles, but he appeared to have extra juice in this one. Perhaps a sign he is clicking mentally? McFadden needs to be kept out of specific space situations but his impact between the tackles can be a difference against Dalvin Cook next week.
-Landon Collins didn’t play a ton but I liked seeing him in coverage against PHI tight ends and backs. He also had some QB spy roles on Hurts which did help contain him on a couple of scrambles. Should NYG find their way to PHI again in a couple weeks, he will be an important player.
-Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown played just three snaps on defense.
-Adoree’ Jackson will return from his injury in the playoffs. He joined Fabian Moreau and Darnay Holmes on the sideline for this one.
-That left second year pros Rodarius Williams and Nick McCloud along with rookie Cor’Dale Flott. I’ll start with Flott. He finished with 3 tackles and 1 PD. He missed a tackle and continues to be just a hair late on throws that head his way. I am still pleased with his movement, but I am still worried about the lack of staying power in contested situations.
-McCloud had an active game. Martindale went blitz-heavy and McCloud was one of the main weapons. Because of that, he seemed to be around the action often. He had 1.5 sacks, a pass break up at the line, and 5 tackles. He was also flagged for a dumb roughing-the-passer penalty that could have been a major blow in a playoff game. I have wondered if he is a safer bet than Holmes at nickel. Less coverage penalties, similar coverage traits. I think Martindale loves Holmes, though.
-Williams led the team with 10 tackles, largely because Hurts was throwing in his direction all night. He allowed 8 catches on a whopping 12 targets for 101 yards. It has been 6 weeks since he’s seen action, and all of the sudden, he’s covering A.J. Brown. Tough situation for him.
-Julian Love and Xavier McKinney did not play. That opened the door for Jason Pinnock, Dane Belton, and Tony Jefferson.
-Belton had the best game of the trio. He finished with 6 tackles and an end-zone interception, his second of the year. He nearly had another one that went right through his hands. This was a solid rookie season for Belton, who fought through multiple clavicle injuries and was up and down on the field. I can see the traits in Belton that lead to optimism. The physical goods are there.
-Pinnock had 4 tackles and missed one on the Boston Scott touchdown while Jefferson added 2 tackles. Pinnock just needs more experience before we really know what we have. His game gets a little out of control, but I love the speed and physical nature he brings.
-K Graham Gano: 1/1 (Made 24)
-P Jamie Gillan: 6 punts / 44.0 avg – 39.0 net
-QB Davis Webb, TE Lawrence Cager, LB Micah McFadden
-OT Evan Neal, CB Rodarius Williams, DT Justin Ellis
3 THOUGHTS ON PHI
Not sure I am heading into the bye week with a ton of confidence right now if I am PHI. If Lane Johnson comes back from his torn adductor injury (VERY painful), he won’t be 100% or even close. Jalen Hurts looked rusty and is now heading toward another week away from football. He will start the divisional game after playing in just one game over the course of 4 weeks and he hasn’t thrown a touchdown since December 11. But has thrown three interceptions since then. The roster is stacked, no question. But I don’t view them in the same light as I have previous #1 seeds. They’ve lost a lot of steam.
Most quarterbacks are better when kept clean than when up against pressure. Obvious, I know. But the gap between a clean pocket vs. pressure is something I like to track. The margin between clean vs. pressure for Hurts is wide. Very wide. The notion was strengthened when I re-watched this tape, and it was against the backups. This may be the biggest focal point to track for PHI in the postseason.
Does Nick Sirianni deserve to be the Coach of the Year? Absolutely not. He should not even be one of the top 3 considered. This team made the playoffs last year, their schedule difficulty was average at best. Their roster is absolutely stacked on both sides of the ball. If there is anyone in that organization who deserves a league award, it is GM Howie Roseman. What he has done to engineer this squad has been remarkable from every angle.
3 CLOSING THOUGHTS
What better week than to take an extra deep look at…NYG kicker Graham Gano. A credible statement can be made that the most underrated player on this team is the 35-year-old kicker. Who are the best 5 kickers in the game right now? Like relief pitchers, it is a moving target. But let me take a crack at it. Justin Tucker (BAL), Daniel Carlson (LV), Matt Gay (LAR), Brett Maher (DAL), and Jake Elliott (PHI). How does Gano stack up since 2020 when he joined NYG? Third in FG percentage (91.8%). Second in percentage from 50+ (80%). First in percentage from 40-49 yards (96%). Gano enters a playoff game that is projected to be a 3-point contest as one of the best kickers in the NFL over the last three years. One of the subtle reasons why I like NYG in the match-up.
I don’t feel like getting too deep into the debate surrounding the decision to sit their key players. It does not have an objective resolution and a strong case can be made for both sides. I felt they did exactly what they should have, though. The depth is not good enough to lose someone to a silly injury (see Mike Williams, LAC). Some are already banged up. And NYG has a real shot at going to MIN and winning that game. This is the first playoff game that many of these guys have ever experienced. I don’t fear rust or extra rest hurting at all for these guys. They will be as amped up as we have seen any Giants team over the past decade.
My regular-season predication for NYG was 6-11. Let’s take a quick look at why I was so wrong by 3 games. The red-zone success (7th best) was a gigantic leap from 2021 (32nd). This was Daboll’s specialty in BUF and I did not think it would be enough to make such a difference right away on this team. I was wrong. Second, I questioned just how high a level Barkley could reach after looking like a shadow of his former self against contact. His three biggest red flags from 2021 were improved. Yards after contact, touches per missed tackle, and drop percentage. That and his 18 runs of 15+ yards were the most since his rookie season (20) and more than the previous three seasons combined (15). Lastly, I was wrong about how much Martindale could do with this defensive front. NYG ranked #5 in pressure percentage, #4 in knockdown percentage, and #1 in blitz percentage. They ranked 30th, 29th, and 18th in those respective categories just a year ago. What a difference he made!
On to the playoffs! A first for me as the writer for game reviews.