Sep 302023
 
Azeez Ojulari, New York Giants (August 21, 2022)

Azeez Ojulari – © USA TODAY Sports

SEPTEMBER 30, 2023 GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring) did not practice on Saturday and has been ruled out of Monday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks. “He practiced a little bit in individual two days ago, just wasn’t feeling right, didn’t practice him yesterday,” said Head Coach Brian Daboll. “He won’t make the game… He went through a few little drills (on Thursday), didn’t feel right, we took him out right away and just want to make sure the player’s ready to go and do the necessary rehab and stuff. So, I’d say it’s week to week. Whether he’ll be ready next week, I’m not sure. Really week to week.”

RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), TE Daniel Bellinger (neck), DL D.J. Davidson (elbow), and OLB Azeez Ojulari (hamstring) were limited in practice. OL Ben Bredeson (concussion) fully practiced. Barkley has officially been ruled “doubtful” for the game while the other four players are expected to be available.

“Saquon will practice, do a little bit more,” said Daboll before Saturday’s practice. “We’ll see where he’s at and take it right up to game time.”

“Yeah, it’s a high ankle sprain,” Barkley said after practice.

“(Ojulari) had a good week,” said Daboll. “He had good practice yesterday. Feels good, practiced well. So, unless something happens today, counting on him being there.”

THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube:

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Their is no media availability to the Giants on Sunday. The team plays the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium on Monday night.

Sep 302023
 
Leonard Williams, New York Giants (September 15, 2023)

Leonard Williams – © USA TODAY Sports

THE STORYLINE:
It’s clear the start of the 2023 NFL season has not gone the way New York Giants fans had hoped. The 1-2 start, including two losses by a combined 70-12 score, has readjusted perceptions about the team. 2022 may have unfairly raised expectations and it is becoming clear that this version of the Giants still is not close to competing with the big boys.

Progress is not always linear. Teams on the right track don’t always improve in the W-L column each season. There have been some rumblings among fans that the jury is still out on Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll. Of course it is. The jury is out on every executive and head coach every season. Jim Fassel took a team that probably had no business being in the game to a Super Bowl, and yet he was fired three years later. Tom Coughlin won two Super Bowls and was fired four years later. No one is safe.

However, the Giants will never improve unless there is some stability within the organization. I’ve been warning fans for years that once you start over, any progress made by the previous regime is gone. I can tell many, if not most, fans still haven’t accepted this reality. “How long does it take to rebuild this team? This offensive line? This defense? It’s been 12 years!!!” No, the Giants reset in 2022. It’s been one year for THIS regime, not 12. If you fire the general manger and head coach, the counter goes back to zero. And the odds you are going to do better than Schoen and Daboll are not good, especially with this ownership and their hiring history. My point here is to cut the crap. Stop reacting emotionally to every setback and start using your head. Spoiler alert, the Giants are not going to the Super Bowl in 2023. The last thing this team needs is another regime change.

Many of us warned that the 2023 Giants may be a better team but end the season with a worse record because of the murderous schedule. What’s bothering everyone is how uncompetitive the team was in Week 1 and Week 3. It’s not shocking that the Giants are 1-2, but it is more than a bit surprising how badly they were beaten in their two losses. Regardless of the W-L record moving forward, we need to see a more competitive team, a team making progress and heading in the right direction.

Big picture overview. If you told Giants fans that the team would be 1-2 at this point, most would not be shocked and most would have not preached doom and gloom. It’s still all in front of this team. As Wink Martindale said this week, the Giants can still shape their own destiny. The period between San Fransisco 49ers on September 21 and the Seattle Seahawks on October 2 was a de facto bye week. Hopefully the team reset and got its mind right.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Saquon Barkley (ankle – doubtful)
  • TE Daniel Bellinger (neck – probable)
  • LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring – out)
  • OG Ben Bredeson (concussion – probable)
  • DL D.J. Davidson (elbow – probable)
  • OLB Azeez Ojulari (hamstring – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Speaking of reacting emotionally, the constant search for one or two scapegoats is as tiring as it is misleading. The 1-2 start is not due to the offense or defense as a whole.  And it’s not due to Daniel Jones or Evan Neal. It’s not a copout to say everyone has had a role in this; it’s simply reality. When the offense is not performing, it will affect the defense. When the defense is not performing, it will affect the offense. Special teams can have an impact on both too. So does coaching.

Big picture again. The 31-point second-half explosion against the Cardinals counts. Through three games, Arizona has been a far more competitive team than anticipated, including soundly defeating a Dallas Cowboys team that whooped the Giants. Nevertheless, the Giants’ offense has been a big disappointment through three games. The Giants only had 14 first downs and 171 yards of total offense against Dallas and 10 first downs and 150 yards against the 49ers. Zero and 12 points. You can’t win with those numbers.

What has been the problem? A big portion of the “blame” lies with the fact that the Cowboys and 49ers are two of the very best defenses in the entire league (though the loss of Trevon Diggs is huge). Probably the biggest problem for New York has been the state of the offensive line. The special teams breakdown on the blocked field goal in Week 1 not only changed the complexion of the game, but it led to Andrew Thomas’ hamstring injury that is likely to now nag him all season. It was a disastrous result and bad omen for this team. The best offensive player on this team is not Saquon Barkley or Daniel Jones. It is Andrew Thomas.

Without Thomas, the Giants have the the youngest and most inexperienced offensive line in the NFL. Joshua Ezeudu has started four games since being draft, two at left tackle. Ben Bredeson has started 11 games in his four seasons. John Michael Schmitz has started three games as a rookie. Marcus McKethan has started two games after missing all of his rookie season. Evan Neal has started 16 games in two years. There probably have been times in the long history of the NFL where this happened before, but it can’t be often. And yet we have fans scratching their heads why this unit had issues against Nick Bosa and the 49ers defensive front. Those asking how long will it take to fix the offensive line seem to be completely ignoring that this current unit has collectively 36 total starts. That’s as green as it gets. They have literally started over.

There are those who say Daniel Jones has been a problem this year. Perhaps. I don’t really see it. Could he play better? Sure. But he also demonstrated against Arizona what he can do if the defense forces three-and-outs, the running game presents any sort of a threat, the offensive line can give him even a little time, and his receivers get open and don’t drop the ball. None of that happened against the 49ers. Let’s see how Daniel performs when he has help. No, he doesn’t have to have everything “perfect” to succeed. But the defense has to force the other team to punt. And the running backs have to gain more than 22 yards in a game. Jones also can’t be under pressure literally almost 50 percent of his drop backs.

Which brings us to Saquon, who is doubtful for the game. No one on BBI will accuse me of being a Barkley apologist. After all, I was advocating the team shopping him before the trade deadline last year. But this team and this offense is a different animal with Saquon in the lineup. Don’t believe me. Look at how other teams defend the Giants when he is or isn’t on the field. It’s one of the reasons why I shake my head at those who claim running backs no longer matter in the NFL. Of course they do. And they will always matter. Whether Barkley plays and how effective he plays on his ankle sprain moving forward will be a huge factor in how productive this offense will be. If teams have to focus on Barkley, it opens things up for the receiving targets. And visa versa.

The Seahawks. While Pete Carroll (defensive coach) is one of those guys you love to hate, you have to admire his ability and consistency as a coach as well as multiple rebuilding efforts. Seattle is a young and rising team. They were a surprising 9-8 playoff team last year and have already beaten the Detroit Lions this year. Don’t forget, last year the Giants were 6-1 when the Seahawks soundly beat New York by two touchdowns.

A lot has changed since that day. Marcus Johnson started at wide receiver. The tight ends were Chris Myarick, Lawrence Cager, and Tanner Hudson. Tyre Phillips started at right tackle and struggled. Jon Feliciano was the center, Mark Glowinksi the right guard, and Josh Ezeudu started his first NFL game at left guard.

Seattle is currently ranked 30th in defense in terms of yards allowed and 29th in points allowed. They are 31st against the pass and 6th against the run. Last season, the stats were similar with run and pass rankings flipped. The point here is while Seattle has talent, this isn’t the Cowboys or 49ers. If the Giants are going to finally get it going on offense, now is a good time to do it. Provided the young offensive line can somewhat do their job.

The problem for the New York offense last year had reared its ugly head again this season. The Giants have to get something going early in the game. It was a problem against Seattle too in 2022, as the Giants were scoreless in the first quarter and only had seven points by halftime. Move the ball early, get some first downs, get a lead for your defense.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
Despite continued offensive woes, the focal point of fan ire shifted dramatically to Wink Martindale’s defense this past week. The Giants still don’t have a turnover. The pass rush has been a big disappointment. New York is 24th in yards allowed, including 28th in run defense. Missed tackles against the 49ers were a huge problem. Wink’s defense in 2022 was excellent on third down and in the red zone, but so far have disappointed this year, particularly on third down.

Again, each unit affects the other. One of the ways for the offense to become more productive is for the defense to get the opposing offense off of the field. Turnovers also lead to favorable field position and easy scoring drives. It’s all interconnected.

The problem for the Giants is Seattle is averaging almost 30 points per game (4th in the NFL) despite being middle-of-the-pack in both rushing and throwing the football. They also have a number of dangerous players including Kenneth Walker, one of the more dangerous running backs in the NFL. The receivers are very good and compliment each other extremely well, including D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Seattle also has a trio of tight ends they will employ as both blockers and receivers. All of these weapons make it easier for resurgent Geno Smith to perform. Smith threw for 30 touchdowns in 2022 and has done a decent job of protecting the football.

The weak spot right now is a banged up offensive line with injury issues at left tackle, center, and right guard. The time is now for Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Kavyon Thibodeaux, and the returning Azeez Ojulari to make a difference. For the Giants to have a chance in this game and hold Seattle to 20 points or less, the front seven must win their individual matchups. The linebackers and secondary will have their hands full with the receiving targets. First and foremost, the Giants absolutely must get their run defense issues resolved. In all three games thus far, the defense has allowed opposing offenses to do far too much damage on the ground. If Walker gets going, the team will be in for a long night.

Many things have changed in football over the years. But one thing has not and I doubt will ever change. You stop the run and make the other team one-dimensional. Then you can get after the quarterback. It’s always been that simple. Martindale did this in Baltimore. For some reason, it has not translated to New York. If you stop the run, you are the more physical team. By making the other team one dimensional, that will lead to sacks, hits on the quarterback, mistakes and turnovers on their part. The crowd also feeds off of this.

Speaking of physical, I don’t want to see anymore standing around on defense while the ball carrier is still alive. Swarm to the ball. Gang tackle. If you put on the NY helmet, you have responsibility to live up to a defensive legacy that is bigger than you.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Despite the final score (27-13), the game against the Seahawks in Seattle was close into the 4th quarter. Indeed, it can be argued that the game really was primarily influenced by two fumbled punt returns by Richie James. Seattle’s special teams are coached by Larry Izzo, who was an assistant special teams coach with the Giants under Tom Coughlin from 2011-2015.

FROM THE COACHES:
Mike Kafka on the offense: “We obviously want to start a lot faster.”

Wink Martindale on the defense: “We still control the narrative.”

THE FINAL WORD:
We all know this is a big game. 1-3 can become 1-5 very easily. At that point, we will all be looking at the NFL Draft again in October. On paper, Seattle is arguably the better team. They certainly have played better and been coached better than the Giants thus far this year. But this is a winnable game.

On offense, get the ball to Jalin Hyatt and Darren Waller. I also think Daniel Bellinger has been underutilized as a receiving threat in two tight end packages. Defensively, stop the run. Then your big four pass rushers (Lawrence, Williams, Thibodeaux, and Ojulari) need to get to Geno Smith.

If the Giants can win this game, and somehow steal a win against the Dolphins or Bills, they will be in respectable shape at 3-3. But it must start with Seattle on Monday night.

Sep 292023
 
Daniel Bellinger, New York Giants (September 21, 2023)

Daniel Bellinger – © USA TODAY Sports

SEPTEMBER 29, 2023 GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring) did not practice on Friday after practicing on Thursday. Head Coach Brian Daboll said “Let’s give it a couple of days before making a decision.”

RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), TE Daniel Bellinger (neck), DL D.J. Davidson (elbow), and OLB Azeez Ojulari (hamstring) were limited in practice. OL Ben Bredeson (concussion) fully practiced.

THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The team practices again on Saturday (11:45AM-1:15PM). Head Coach Brian Daboll, the position coaches, and select players will also address the media.

Sep 282023
 
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (September 17, 2023)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

SEPTEMBER 28, 2023 GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Everyone on the 53-man roster practiced on Thursday.

RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), TE Daniel Bellinger (neck), LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring), DL D.J. Davidson (elbow), and OLB Azeez Ojulari (hamstring) were limited in practice. OL Ben Bredeson (concussion) fully practiced.

“So, everybody will practice today,” said Head Coach Brian Daboll. “Some in a limited role, but we’ll see where they go from individual, team, but they’re all practicing today.”

When specifically asked about Barkley, Daboll responded, “Going to put him out here, go through some individual stuff, let him run around and see how he does. But again, making progress. I think this is a good evaluation today in pads to see where he’s at.”

HEAD COACH BRIAN DABOLL…
The transcript of Brian Daboll’s press conference on Thursday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available on YouTube.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The team practices again on Friday afternoon (12:45-2:45PM). The coordinators and select players will also address the media.

Sep 262023
 
Brian Daboll and Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (July 26, 2023)

Brian Daboll and Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

SEPTEMBER 26, 2023 BRIAN DABOLL PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Brian Daboll addressed the media on Tuesday (VIDEO):

Q: Injury updates?

A: Injury. Yeah, that’s okay. That’ll come out on Thursday. I’ll just say everybody has been rehabbing, they’re getting better. I’ll give you an update on Thursday but we’re making progress with everybody who has been on that report or missed, we’re making progress.

Q: Is (guard Ben) Bredeson in protocol still?

A: No, he’ll be good to go. Ben will be good to go.

Q: What is (running back) Saquon (Barkley) able to do today?

A: Well, we’re doing kind of a jog through, so I don’t think he’ll do much today. But he’s really now, I’d say, in the day-to-day category. Feels a lot better today but we’ll kind of take that all the way throughout the week and see how he improves.

Q: (Tackle) Andrew (Thomas) a lot better?

A: He’s better, yep. Again, we’ll get here Thursday, get out here and give them a couple more days but I’d say all of them are making progress.

Q: Nothing from the game is long term?

A: No. Nope.

Q: If Andrew returns, do you have some decisions to make about offensive line and how you want to configure it? I think you’ve had three different configurations in three games.

A: Yeah, I’d say if those guys are back, it’ll look like it looked when Ben and Andrew were out – when they were back playing. But again, we’ll see where they’re at. I don’t want to make a decision right now. We’ll see where we’re at Thursday.

Q: Does that mean you’ll stick with (offensive lineman Marcus) McKethan at that other guard spot?

A: Yeah. Yep.

Q: What has he shown you?

A: I think he’s done a good job. Again, he’s only played a couple games, he was out all last season. Improving. Big body, moves well, so again, the experience that he’s played in the first couple of games will help him.

Q: You guys were, I know it’s a different year but very effective as a running team last year, especially early in the season and it helped you guys a lot. Is there part of you that wants to get back to that this year and obviously it’s difficult to do against a team like Seattle, who is very good at stopping the run.

A: I’d say again, each week we’ll look at the team, we’ll do what we need to do. We really need to improve in every area so that’s certainly one of them.

Q: How do you feel about the way the cornerback configuration has worked out after three games? Moving (cornerback) Adoree’ (Jackson), getting (cornerback) Tre (Hawkins III) in there?

A: I’d say again, much like the run game, everything’s a work in progress. We’ve got to get better in a lot of areas and that’s what we’re going to try to do.

Q: But you’re comfortable with it? Nothing you would change.

A: Yeah. Look, each week we’ll go into it and we’ll look at how guys are doing. They’ve been competing but there are a lot of improvements that need to be made.

Q: When you come back after a little longer break, do you treat it in terms of with the players as a reset a little bit?

A: Not really. They’ve had a couple of days off, been grinding on some things as a coaching staff. Again, this week is its own week, like every NFL week, and we’ve got to do everything we can to get ready to play a really good team that’s won the last two games, scored 37 points in each game, and continue to work on our process, refine things that we need to refine, improve things we need to improve and have a good week.

Q: You obviously embrace the process every week, process over results, but there is also urgency I’d imagine. I know you attack every week with urgency but the next time you take the field for a game, it’s in October already. The season flies by very quickly. How do you in your communication with the team express that on the daily basis?

A: You have to live in the moment in our profession and you have to address the things that need to be addressed each week. Every year is different, every week is different. It’s a week-to-week league so stay in the moment, focus on the things we need to improve on, all of us, and that’s what we try to do every week. There’s urgency every week. This is a one-game season – every game is a one-game season. You just focus on doing the best you can do each week, prepare the right way, and then ultimately go out there and perform the right way.

Q: Seven days between when you’re playing, and you said you’re doing a walkthrough today —

A: Yeah, so we’re going to make it a normal week leading up. We’re going to get an extra day here with our mental reps. The guys have been in working in the weight room, doing their conditioning stuff. We’ve been working on Seattle, so this is a really good day to go ahead and implement the game plan, the first and second down stuff. Come out here and have a good mental day and then we’ll treat it (like) the normal week. So tomorrow will be like a Tuesday and Thursday will be like a Wednesday.

Q: After the game some of the 49er’s players said “yeah, we knew that they were going to blitz, and they were going to keep blitzing.” (49ers quarterback Brock) Purdy ended up saying something like “it’s a four-quarter game” meaning that they were able to adjust. Do you have any concerns about the level of blitzing or the fact that when it doesn’t get home what happens?

A: I think each week you go into a gameplan with the things you need to do and throughout the game you’re always adjusting. So, it’s not just the first quarter, second quarter, maybe it’s a different blitz, maybe it’s not a blitz. Focus on the things we can improve on and keep improving.

Q: Does the CBA allow you to have a practice today or are you only allowed to have like three practices?

A: The way we set this up was come back, have this right here, have this walkthrough/jog through, have some good meetings. Take tomorrow to go ahead and as a coaching staff, kind of adjust things that we’ve talked about and then just have a normal week. That’s the way we’ve planned it out.

Q: Obviously, the tackling has been a problem, right? The missed tackles in the games. What can you do during the season, how much can get guys in pads, how much do you believe in getting guys in pads and working on that throughout the season?

A: Yeah, we’ll be in pads Thursday. And again, you are always focusing on your fundamentals, so we do that every practice, whether that’s press coverage, tackling, ball disruption, shedding blocks. Those are things that you work on. Same thing with the offense, double teams, pass protection, games, pass protection for the backs, press releases, those are things that you constantly evaluate. Leading up to a week and getting ready for, in this case Seattle, you always adjust practice and things individual wise or maybe team wise of things that you are really putting an emphasis on.

Q: So, you plan to do more practicing tackling wise with what you can?

A: We normally, like during the early part of the year, we normally practice once a week in pads and that’s an important day for us.

Q: (Defensive lineman) Leonard Williams said last week before the game, so that with context, but the idea of if you don’t have sacks defensively and you don’t have takeaways, sometimes you chase that and was very conscious of saying we can’t do that. Do you see that a little bit defensively that maybe guys are starting to chase things, that you kind of have to reel them back in again and focus on what you need to focus on?

A: Yeah, I think it’s important that we all do our job. And again, those are points of emphasis every week of creating some negative plays or getting turnovers and we’ve got to continue to work them during the week and ultimately we’ve got to get them done on Sunday. Monday.

Q: Do you think too much pressure can cause a quarterback to see it when it’s not there because it’s just so often happening that they have to get sped up in the process.

A: In the pocket?

Q: Yeah.

A: I think there is always an element to that. When you can affect the quarterback, I think it speeds up things. Again, there is always when you are game planning, shorter routes, get it out quicker, less of the protection. You want to run deep routes, you have some more protection in. So, definitely an area that we’ve got to improve is making sure that we give our quarterback a clean pocket and it’s not just always the line. There is backs involved, there is timing in the passing the game, there is receivers getting open, so it’s really a collective thing when it comes to that.

Q: Is there anything you can glean from last year’s game against Seattle or is it two completely different teams?

A: No, you certainly look at it. They have the same coordinators. That’s something that you go back, like you are playing a team that’s right there in your division. They are in our conference, we played them at their place, hard place to play at, obviously with some noise and things like that, but certainly some matchups and things that they’ve done. (Seahawks head coach) Pete’s (Carroll) done a heck of a job; he’s been there for a long time. Some of the same players, obviously some different players, but yeah that’s definitely a game you watch and evaluate.

Q: Is there anything you can do as a coach to get your team to start faster? I think the number is 77 to 6 or something like that.

A: Yeah, not very good. So, we are working on it, yeah, we are working on it.

Q: Can you open up like in a no-huddle offense or just things to put an offense …

A: Yeah, you can do a lot of different things. Something we need to do better collectively and something that will be, it’s always a point of emphasis, hasn’t shown up, understand that. No excuses for it, so we are working on that.

Q: With Saquon how much do you factor or how much have you talked to him about, he’s had ankle injuries before, right? He’s had that before, he’s come back, hasn’t played at the level that he’s like and then in retrospect has basically said I might’ve come back too early, so how much have you talked to him about that and how much do you factor that in?

A: Yeah, again, to me I think every injury is different, even though it’s the same body part. Let him rehab, let him get with the trainers, get a feel for where he’s at. Let’s talk to the trainers and see where they are at with his injury and then make the decision when it comes time to make the decision, but he’s getting better. We’ll see how it goes.

Q: Do you see (offensive lineman) Josh Ezeudu now as a swing tackle or is he still a reserve guard or a reserve tackle?

A: I think he can play four spots for us. So, both tackle spots and then he can also go inside and play, having done that some, so I think he’s done a good job of filling in, but he has, I’d say, four-position flex for us.

Q: Is there as much value or maybe even more value in Ezeudu playing that role than it is to, you know what we’ve got to get him to as one of our five guys. I mean I know you would play him if he was one of your five, but the value of having a guy like that, that you know if someone goes down you can plug him in four or five spots, I would imagine that’s pretty high in this day and age.

A: That’s why we move guys around a bunch during the preseason and training camp months because you can. If you’re not starting five, you better have some position flexibility to play multiple spots, so certainly an important aspect for us.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the team on Wednesday as the players have the day off. The Giants practice on Thursday afternoon (12:45-2:45PM) with Head Coach Brian Daboll and select players also addressing the media.

Sep 232023
 
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (September 21, 2023)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

QUARTERBACK

-Daniel Jones: 22/32 – 137 yards / 0 TD – 2 INT / 64.2 RAT

Jones added 5 yards on the ground. This was a matchup nightmare on paper. The Niners ability to put “quick pressure” on the passer, the makeshift offensive line, and not having their two best offensive players on the field made the margin for error miniscule. Jones had to play perfect and everyone around him had to play bigger than the sum of their respective parts for this to be competitive. The game-plan was full of dinks and dunks and I estimate about 50% usage of the full playbook even being an option. There were not a lot of positives to take away from this game when it comes to Jones. The few times where the team needed a play (and he had things working around him), he did not come through. The 3rd-and-11 miss to Waller in the fourth quarter with the score at 23-12 was the standout negative. Waller does not escape his share of the blame (I will discuss this in the tight end analysis), but that is an easy throw that needs to be made 99 out of 100 times. We’ve heard and saw all summer just how big and long Waller is, how he towers above everyone else. Jones had that target wide open (NFL standards) for a first down and he air-mailed it above his outstretched hands.

The positives remain the same. He stood tall in the face of pressure in a situation that had ‘loss’ written all over it. He went through progressions, he did not abandon mechanics, and he was accurate on almost all throws. While I will not call him Joe Montana when it comes to ball placement, he threw strikes most of the night on the quick-release throws. For the second time in three weeks, he was fighting uphill in mud, nothing to gain traction on and slowly having the ground slip from underneath him. He is now 1-11 in primetime games and while that is more of a correlation between the quality of opponents + the poor state of the NYG roster than the time of day that present his struggles, it is hard to get past the notion he is not rising to a better version of himself in situations like this. Daniel Jones just….is.

RUNNING BACK

-With Saquon Barkley out again with another lower body joint injury (the story of his career so far unfortunately), the NYG backfield barely moved the needle. Matt Breida did score the lone NYG touchdown of the night on an impressive, aggressive downhill run of 8 yards. He had just 4 total carries for 17 yards and 3 catches for 1 yard. Gary Brightwell added 5 yards on 4 carries and had the team’s biggest gain of the night (18 yards) on a dump-off pass, but also dropped a pass. His sample size was small, but his overall impact was positive economically, just like in previous games where he has contributed.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Wan’Dale Robinson was back on the field for the first time since tearing his ACL 10 months ago. That is an impressive turnaround from the second-year gadget receiver from Kentucky. He had 4 catches for 21 yards while fellow slot receiver Parris Campbell led the team with 6 catches, netting just 24 yards. The limitations of the offense overall made them key focal points underneath because their skill sets can get them open in a hurry and both are supposed to be effective after the catch. They struggled to break tackles, though. Neither made an impact there, neither stepped up to make plays on their own, which was a vital ingredient to any potential success they were hoping to have.

-Darius Slayton appears to be the number one receiver on this team. He is the guy who has the most experience with Jones, he is the guy with the most contractual commitment to the team, and he is the only player who is being targeted more than 9 yards downfield on average (minimum 4 targets). He ended with 3 catches for 32 yards and had a couple of open looks deep that did not come to fruition because of poor blocking. He is playing hard and confident right now, and with his speed, that matters.

-I am disappointed we, A) barely saw Jalin Hyatt (16 out of 50 snaps) and B) he did not get a single target. I know we should temper expectations from the rookie receiver, as I even said myself last spring following the draft his impact in 2023 would likely be minimal. Even with that in mind, not one target? The one guy on this team (with Barkley out) who can strike fear into the defense? The guy who made two the biggest non-touchdown plays in their historic comeback last week? If he truly is more than just a vertical threat, then the argument that Jones simply not having enough time is not good enough for me. He should have been given at least two or three looks.

TIGHT END

-Darren Waller led the team with 7 targets, but he caught just 3 of them for 20 yards. He added a drop that led to an interception. After a summer full of optimism and beat reporters salivating when discussing how much of a threat he appeared to be, three games in and I am down on what his upside can be here. Sure, the underneath threat and security blanket component to his game are there and it will be all season. But there is a significant difference in his movement from what I saw from 2019-2021. Jones misfired on two throws in his direction, they were more on the passer. However, Waller’s attempt at what I call “late movement,” a reaction-based attempt to the ball looked like it belonged to a 275-pound blocking tight end. No abrupt, explosive leap to go up and get it. No sudden change of direction to snare the ball that hit his hands. Effort is not the issue from what I see, just a simple lack of ability. Perhaps the hamstring is a tighter constraint than I initially thought. My true fear is the 31-year-old does not, and will not, have the special athletic traits that made him a household name and we are simply looking at an average underneath threat. Not a bad thing, but not what some believed it would be.

-Daniel Bellinger played 30 snaps and seems to be having trouble finding his role within this team. One of the biggest surprises from the 2023 Rookie Class has taken a back seat to Waller for obvious reasons. He had 1 catch for 8 yards. He has seen 2 passes thrown his way in 3 games. His value is a guy who splits a blocker/receiver role, but because of Waller’s presence he has been way more biased toward the former and he simply is not good enough there. He allowed a sack, a hold, and was flagged for a false start. This two tight end package has been one of the more subtle disappointments for the offense through three games.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-A few days ago, I warned everyone to temper the enthusiasm regarding former Tar Heels Joshua Ezeudu at left tackle and Markus McKethan at right guard. Performing well against Arizona did carry some weight, but the truth is that defensive line can make a case to be the worst in football. I wanted to see what the line, and these two in particular, would bring to the table against one of the best fronts in football. Just a solid game against them would go a long way. It did not turn out well. Ezeudu allowed 5 pressures and was flagged for a face-mask penalty. He was clearly overmatched when he faced off against Nick Bosa. They offered help a few times from Bellinger, but big picture, Ezeudu cannot compete against the best in the league. McKethan struggled even more. He was charged with 4 pressures and a sack in addition to a holding penalty. His size and length appear to be weapons that can win a lot of battles, but it is a complete hit or miss due to a lower half that does not have enough shiftiness to it. Growing pains are allowed and we will need to see if these guys can improve with consistent snaps week to week.

-Despite a couple of ugly losses to Javon Hargrave, I ended with a positive grade on rookie center John Michael Schmitz. He allowed one pressure was driven back badly on an outside zone run (again) that caused a TFL. Besides that, I thought he moved well to the second level, provided quality help in pass protection, and anchored well. From my perspective re-watching the game, there appeared to be minimal communication issues up front. I credit that to Schmitz. Execution has not been good, we know, but the assignments have seemed cleaner than I remember over the past two-three years.

-A lot of eyes are on Evan Neal, and rightfully so. The 2022 seventh overall pick has not been good through 18 games. He allowed a sack on the two-point conversion attempt and two pressures. The bar has been set low, but I do believe this was an overall positive performance compared to what Neal has been putting out there. While it is not good enough and I still want to see substantial improvement, I did not walk out of this game lowering his status even further. Hopefully he can use this as a springboard to better play, more consistently. After all, that is what this comes down to.

-Shane Lemieux got the start over Mark Glowinski, something I did not see coming. He allowed 3 pressures and a sack, and the disheartening note I have from the live game was: “Not even competitive.” No anchor, minimal range in the running game, and inability to recover when beat.

EDGE

-Kayvon Thibodeaux was on the field for 72 snaps. He finished with 3 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 hurries. Overall, it was a game that lacked impact. He was flagged for a questionable illegal contact penalty which I did not mark against him, as I thought it was within five yards from the line of scrimmage. The issue was a lack of feel, lack of flow to the action, and slight hesitation. That and the obvious fact he is not winning one-on-one battles. I am not comparing him to Bosa by any means, but the difference I see in those two off the ball is completely night and day. Bosa has tunnel vision. Thibodeaux has hesitation. Does he play scared? Does he lack situational awareness? I see both. And no, I am not seeing improvement (at all) despite a couple positives in the traditional box score. I will say it again. He needs to play better, period.

-Jihad Ward, Oshane Ximines, and Boogie Basham were the other rotational edge defenders. None within the trio has stepped up with Azeez Ojulari out. Ward can set the edge against the run, but the next time he comes off a blocker to make a big stop will be the first. Basham has been unimpressive in action since the trade from BUF, as he looks like the JV version of Ward. And we know what Ximines is. He did add a pressure with 2 tackles. I think it is time we see Tomon Fox on the field.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Dexter Lawrence had another Dexter Lawrence game, finishing with 7 tackles, 3 pressures, and a TFL. Leonard Williams came to play as well, at least more so than the previous two weeks, and finished with a half-sack, 6 tackles, and 2 QB hits. He was flagged for a roughing penalty that was correct when looking at the rulebook, but it is the one I just do not support. I am all about protecting quarterbacks but expecting a guy to fall a certain way while moving at full speed is a garbage way of making life impossible for defenders.

-D.J. Davidson got the look over rookie Jordon Riley again, and he showed why. On just 19 snaps (9 run / 10 pass) he finished with a half-sack, 2 pressures, and a pass break up at the line. He was injured on a dirty play by Jake Brendel, a play he should be fined for. Davidson was pushing the interior SF linemen around every time he got on the field. The injury to the elbow appeared to be fairly serious.

-A’Shawn Robinson and Rakeem Nunez-Roches are, at least, playing physical and prideful. They are getting beat initially at the point-of-attack and they do not have the recovery quicks to make up for it. They are clearly frustrated because of the part they are playing in the defense getting beat up front against the run. Robinson did end up with 5 tackles and pursues the action with a lot of hustle. I am still holding onto hope the line can turn things around. The size, power, and effort are all there from all of the guys.

LINEBACKER

-Micah McFadden had a game. He led the team with 10 tackles, including 4 for a loss. He missed a tackle early on and I thought “here we go again”. But he made several tackles on plays away from the ball. He read the screen game exceptionally well and I guarantee other teams will be using his performance on film as “teach tape” throughout the season. He remains an easy target in the passing game but if he gets this kind of results downhill, they can deal with him being weak in backwards coverage.

-Bobby Okereke does not seem fully comfortable in the scheme. I say that because when he fills downhill hard, he is an absolute menace. But there still seems to be a lack of consistency to that part of his game and it is causing significant issues against the run. If I had to come up with a single catalyst to the issues the defense has there, it is him. He did finish with 9 tackles and 2 pressures (both untouched) but 3 missed tackles are way too many for a leader of the defense, the green dot.

-Isaiah Simmons saw a slight uptick in playing time, finishing with 4 tackles. His lack of feel for angles and blocking on a 3rd-and-13 conversion was an absolute killer. The speed and range are great assets but only valuable if he knows that to do. Very poor situational awareness by him on that play.

CORNERBACK

-Another rough night for the rookie corners. Deonte Banks suffered an arm injury and at the time of this writing, we do not have the MRI results. Tre Hawkins missed 2 (of his 3 on the night) tackles on the same play, something you could go an entire season never seeing. He got flagged for holding and allowed every target in his direction to be completed. He looked lost, unsure, and tight. He may not be the best fit for the number of snaps he is seeing and after three weeks (and as many penalties), it may be worth moving someone else into his starting spot.

-Adoree’ Jackson saw most of his snaps outside again, the spot I think he simply works best. He did allow a long touchdown pass to Deebo Samuel late in the game but I thought his coverage was solid most of the night. He broke up a pass over the middle on a great corner play.

-Darnay Holmes moved into the slot when Jackson went outside. He finished with two impact plays, a pass break up and a TFL on a screen, but he was also flagged for a hold on a third down stop. The issue we have seen since his rookie season continues to be his kryptonite and what simply makes him unreliable.

SAFETY

-Xavier McKinney and Jason Pinnock both played every snap again. They combined for 12 tackles and 3 missed tackles. They were targeted often, especially with SF tight end George Kittle. Pinnock made the biggest blunder of the night on the 3rd-and-14 conversion where they had everything lined up, he simply needed to make the tackle. He did not come close. He turned it up a bit in the second half with 2 pressures. McKinney seemed a bit lost. He was not anticipating routes and the precision of the SF passing game kept exposing it.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 2/2 (Made 44, 57). The 57-yarder ties his career-long with NYG.
-Jamie Gillan: 6 punts / 52.7 avg – 49.0 net

3 STUDS

-LB Micah McFadden, DT Leonard Williams, K Graham Gano

3 DUDS

-CB Tre Hawkins, OG Markus McKethan, S Xavier McKinney

3 THOUGHTS ON SF

1. The best coach in football is Kyle Shanahan. That’s where I stand with him, and I know I’m not alone. What he has done over the years despite such injury turmoil (especially at QB) is something most (if not all) coaches would crumble under. He is a magician and trend setter when it comes to finding ways to play efficient football. Early down passing, motion pre-snap, versatile personnel packaging, etc. The scheme itself is fun to watch no matter who they play. Since 2017, they have been the 10th, 4th, 6th, 1st, 3rd, and 9th most injured team in the league, respectively. They made the NFC Championship despite zero games with their QB1, RB1, TE1, WR1, WR2 all healthy at the same time last season. How many teams could pull that off? I don’t think any. Coaching made the difference.

2. SF had 196 yards after the catch in this game alone. The Giants total net yards were 150. The thing is, SF is always among the league’s best in yards after the catch. They’re also near the top in explosive run plays. How come? Scheme is one, but also the kind of players they go after. They’re all strong and powerful relative to their positions and maybe the most overlooked component to their success is how hard they block downfield for each other. It is such a difference maker.

3. SF is one of the two or three best teams in the NFC. How did they get there? You may be surprised to see their early draft results in recent years. Since John Lynch took over in 2017, here are their first-round picks: DT Solomon Thomas (#3), OT Mike McGlinchey (#9), DE Nick Bosa (#2), DT Javon Kinlaw (#14), QB Trey Lance (#3). To be blunt, that is a terrible looking list outside of Bosa (the highest paid defender in the NFL). Only Kinlaw remains on the team. How is Lynch considered one of the top GMs in football and what can NYG learn from it? If you go back to 2017 and start going through their day 2/3 picks, you’re going to be wowed. TE George Kittle, DT D.J. Jones, CB D.J. Reed, LB Fred Warner, LB Dre Greenlaw, WR Jauan Jennings, OT Colton McKivitz, RB Elijah Mitchell, S Talanoa Hufanga, QB Brock Purdy, OG Spencer Burford. These guys in combination with the aggressive trades for OT Trent Williams and RB Christian McCaffrey are the catalysts to this being such a well-balanced team. Keep this in mind in the coming years with the NYG regime led by Joe Schoen. Even when you miss in the first, the doors are open later on to build the nucleus. You must find the right guys there.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

1. So let’s not beat the dead horses. Is Daniel Jones worth the money? Are the #5 and #7 picks from the 2022 draft going to step up? Save it for another time, I’m sure history will repeat itself. Let’s turn the attention to Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale. It is hard to fully diagnose what is going on, but the results are scary. 98 points allowed in 3 games (let’s take off 14 for the special teams + defensive TDs from week 1). So, 84 points allowed. Sixth worst in yards per play allowed. Last in turnovers. Fourth most in yards per pass allowed. 14th most yards per rush allowed. Second worst in pressure percentage. Sixth most missed tackles. Seventh worst on third down. The personnel was upgraded. There are 7 returning starters. And everything has gone backwards. Has the league figured out Martindale? It is something that needs to be considered.

2. I’m not a fan of the “must win” label some put on games unless is mathematically eliminates someone from contention. So, no, Week 4 against Seattle is not a must win. But getting a 3-day rest advantage over a 1-1 team that is flying from the West Coast is one of the easier set ups they have and not taking advantage of it would be such a major blow to the vibe of this team.

3. The one time NYG scored a touchdown came on a drive where they had the biggest gain of the day. A 22-yard pass interference call on a deep ball to Waller. Getting the ball more vertical like this creates so many more opportunities for the offense. You can get that cheap penalty, which when it comes to results end up being the same as a long completion. It puts things on tape and in memories of defenders that needs to be accounted for, opening space up underneath. And it can change the entire mojo of a team. NYG needs to find ways to push the ball downfield at least a handful of times week in, week out. They have the speed.

Sep 222023
 

Kayvon Thibodeaux and Isaiah Simmons – © USA TODAY Sports

SEPTEMBER 22, 2023 BRIAN DABOLL PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Brian Daboll addressed the media on Friday to discuss his team’s 30-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers:

Q: What’s gone on with the tackling? Why do you think it’s been so poor this season, particularly last night?

A: Yeah, definitely an area we’ve got to get better at. We’ll continue to work at it every week, but it’s something that we’ve got to do a better job of.

Q: Do you see an issue? A lot of times guys are either going high or going for strips. Is that something you see? Is it a technique issue? What do you see?

A: Yeah, I’d say it’s just overall not where we need to be. So, we’ll continue to work at it. That’s an area that’s got to get better.

Q: As far as (wide receiver) Jalin (Hyatt), he played 16 snaps last night. What does he need to do or show to get more playing time?

A: I don’t think we had very many snaps on offense in general. I think we had 45 or 46. So, there’s a plan for Jalin, a plan for all the guys, and based on personnel that we choose to use on a given play, it could be more, it could be about the same. So, we’ll keep on giving him reps and hopefully we have more than 45 plays in a game.

Q: You’re saying that there was a plan for Hyatt to have a bigger role that you guys didn’t get to due to the game? Is that what you’re saying?

A: No. What I’m saying is on the call sheet you have however many plays and they’re tagged with different personnel groups and those are the plays that we called and the personnel groups we used.

Q: What accounts for not rushing the ball a lot in this game particularly with (quarterback) Daniel (Jones)? We’ve seen you utilize his running skills frequently and just didn’t seem like he ever got going running the ball. What was the reason for that you think?

A: We had a few of them in the game plan, didn’t get to them. That’s the reason.

Q: I remember (Defensive Coordinator) Wink (Martindale) saying whereas on your offensive side you guys were adding a bunch of new pieces this year, Wink was really excited in training camp about year two of the system with so many guys back taking a natural step forward. Why do you think that hasn’t happened for your defense? Because it certainly seems like guys are more out of position and it doesn’t seem like they’ve all taken the step that Wink was expecting.

A: I’d say really in all three phases, we’ve got to do a better job, everybody.

Q: How much of a concern would you it is? Obviously, teams expect their highest paid players or their biggest investments to step up and when you guys played the Eagles in the playoffs, Dallas, or the 49ers, these teams with really good lines, it seems like (outside linebacker Kayvon) Thibodeaux, (defensive lineman) Dexter (Lawrence) and (defensive lineman) Leonard (Williams), the guys you’re really invested in, have been quiet in those games. I know you’re one of those guys who believes it starts up front, so is more needed out of those three guys?

A: Yeah, I’d just say we need more from everybody. Coaching, playing, everybody.

Q: You are one of those guys, right? One of those it starts up front guys.

A: Yeah, the game is a line of scrimmage game at the start of it, but we need more from everybody.

Q: We’re at kind of a natural breaking point of the schedule, I know it’s still early. Do you have a sense yet of what the identity of this team is going to be moving forward?

A: I’d say we have a lot of improvement to do and that’s what we’re going to do. Try to improve.

Q: I know there was a lot of after the whistle stuff last night. Did you have a problem with how (defensive lineman) D.J. Davidson got hurt? Seemed like he was long away from the ball after the whistle.

A: It was a physical game. A lot of emotions, so hopefully he’ll be okay.

Q: What is your day like today? Have you gone to sleep at all, or would you just say it’s a regular day?

A: No, I didn’t get back until about 8-8:30. Not too much sleep so a lot of things that need to be done. Talk with the coaches later. Such as the case on long trips.

Q. When you play teams like the Cowboys and the 49ers and you get the score you get and the results you get and obviously you were depleted last night, but how far do you feel like you are from being an elite team and what do you think you have to do to get there?

A: Yeah, I mean my focus right now is just improving here. There is a lot of stuff we can improve on and that’s what we are going to try and do.

Q. You mentioned, obviously you’ve got to get better at tackling, how do you do that at this stage of the season? You’re through training camp, you don’t hit a lot during the season, I mean during practice, so how do you go about that during the season?

A: I mean you work different tackling drills every week. You do that as a defense every week. We’ll continue to find ways to help these guys be better at their craft in terms of bringing people down and wrapping up. Something we’ve got to work on.

Q. You guys had mostly walk through practices last week. During a week like that, it seemed like (guard Mark) Glowinski played a pretty good game filling in at left guard against the Cardinals. How do you come to the conclusion to start (guard) Shane (Lemieux) over him, given those circumstances?

A: Yeah, we just put him in at left and Mark was going to be right or the backup guy. That’s what we did.

Q. How does that work in a week like that?

A: Well, you have a body of work, you have discussions, you have discussions with the offensive staff. I have input and we just made that decision. Both teams had walkthrough practices, but that’s the decision we made.

Q. Going back to Jalin real quick, is there a bit of a learning curve for somebody who obviously just played three games and is there just that big of a learning curve which is why maybe he hasn’t been targeted as much because he has to kind of figure out a little bit?

A: No, I mean we put him in plays to try and target him. We will continue to do that, we’ll continue to work, and we rolled all our guys in there last night.

Q. I was just wondering if you saw the NFL’s explanation on the (49ers tackle) Trent Williams punch, that they didn’t see anything definitive and if that’s hard to reconcile?

A: Yeah, I heard that, but again those guys have got a tough job to do out there and that’s really all I’ve got to say on that.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the Giants on Saturday and Sunday with the players off. Select players will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Sep 222023
 
Brian Daboll, New York Giants (September 21, 2023)

Brian Daboll – © USA TODAY Sports

SAN FRANCISCO 49ers 30 – NEW YORK GIANTS 12…
The New York Giants kept it close for a while, but they were soundly defeated 30-12 on Thursday night by a clearly better San Francisco 49ers team at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The Giants are now 1-2 on the season.

Statistically, the game was not close. The 49ers dramatically out-gained the Giants in offensive snaps (78 to 46), first downs (26 to 10), total net yards (441 to 150), net yards rushing (141 to 29), net yards passing (300 to 121), and time of possession (39:10 to 20:50). The 49ers were also 9-of-16 on 3rd down (56 percent) while the Giants were only 3-of-12 (25 percent).

Most of the 1st quarter was taken up by each team’s opening possession. The 49ers received the football to start the game, driving 64 yards in 15 plays. However, the New York defense stiffened at their own 11-yard line with three straight incompletions by quarterback Brock Purdy. The 49ers settled for a 28-yard field goal.

The Giants’ first drive gained 49 yards on 12 plays. Place kicker Graham Gano converted on his 44-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3 with 3:18 left in the quarter. San Fransisco picked up one first down and then punted the ball away on their second possession. The Giants then went three-and-out.

It was in the 2nd quarter where the 49ers began to pull away. San Fransisco’s third offensive possession was an 11-play, 72-yard drive resulted in a 9-yard touchdown pass. After a second consecutive three-and-out by the Giants, the 49ers put together a virtually identical scoring drive, this one traveling 73 yards in 11 plays with running back Christian McCaffrey scoring from four yards out. The 49ers were now up 17-3 with 1:40 left in the half.

On New York’s fourth and final possession of the first half, the team did manage to put another field goal on the board after picking up 37 yards on eight plays. Gano’s 57-yard field goal cut the score to 17-6 at the break.

The two teams exchanged punts early in the 3rd quarter. The 49ers were flagged with a 15-yard fair catch interference penalty, setting up the Giants on the San Fransisco 37-yard line to start their second possession of the half. After a 7-yard pass, the 49ers were also flagged with a 22-yard pass interference penalty at the 8-yard line. On the very next snap, running back Matt Breida scored from eight yards out, cutting the score to 17-12. The 2-point conversion failed.

The 49ers responded with another 11-play drive that gained 72 yards. The New York defense stiffened again the red zone, holding the 49ers to a 21-yard field goal. San Fransisco extended their lead to 20-12.

The Giants went three-and-out and punted the ball away. The 49ers then drove 51 yards in eight plays to set up a 36-yard field goal that made the score 23-12 early in the 4th quarter. Down by 11 points with 12:47 to play, New York needed to make something happen. But the result was another three-and-out. The 49ers then put the game to bed with an 8-play, 70-yard drive that ended with a 27-yard touchdown throw. With just under six minutes to play, the 49ers had a commanding 30-12 advantage.

The Giants gained two of their 10 first downs on the ensuing drive. But this ended with an interception after quarterback Daniel Jones’ pass went off the hands of tight end Darren Waller with 3:39 left in the game. The last few minutes were uneventful as the game had already been decided.

Jones completed 22-of-32 passes for 137 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. He was sacked twice and only gained five rushing yards on two carries. His leading receiver was Parris Campbell with six catches for just 24 yards. The team’s leading ground gainer was Breida with just 17 yards on four carries.

Defensively, for the third game, the Giants did not force a turnover. They did accrue their first two sacks of the season, one by linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux and half sacks by defensive linemen Leonard Williams and D.J. Davidson. Linebacker Micah McFadden lead the team with 10 tackles, including four for losses. However, the defense did give up 441 offensive yards and six scoring drives.

GAME VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS are available on YouTube.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
The Giants activated (standard elevation) OL Jaylon Thomas and OLB Oshane Ximines from the Practice Squad to the 53-man roster.

Inactive for the game were RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring), OG Ben Bredeson (concussion), OLB Azeez Ojulari (hamstring), DL Jordon Riley, CB Cor’Dale Flott, and S Gervarrius Owens.

CB Deonte Banks (arm) and DL D.J. Davidson (elbow) left the game with injuries. X-rays on Banks’ arm were negative, but he will undergo an MRI on Friday. RT Evan Neal appeared to injure his ankle late in the game but said he was OK.

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

  • Head Coach Brian Daboll (Video)
  • QB Daniel Jones (Video)
  • WR Wan’Dale Robinson (Video)
  • DL Dexter Lawrence (Video)
  • OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux (Video)
  • ILB Bobby Okereke (Video)

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Brian Daboll will address the media by conference call on Friday.

Sep 202023
 
Kayvon Thibodeaux, New York Giants (September 17, 2023)

Kayvon Thibodeaux – © USA TODAY Sports

THE STORYLINE:
The New York Giants came as close to falling off the tight rope as one can get last Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. They may have regained their balance with one of the most memorable games in franchise history, but they are still clearly shaky with some strong wind gusts about to hit them in the face.

Let’s get the bad out of the way first. Perhaps the Giants were still reeling from their 40-0 drubbing by the Cowboys. Perhaps the frontline players are still trying to knock the rust off after having hardly played in the preseason. Perhaps the Giants simply are not that good. But getting dominated by the Joshua Dobbs-led Arizona Cardinals in the first half in a must-win game may have been the low point of my NYG fandom. And I’ve seen a lot of horrific moments in the past 40 years. I’ve never been more confused and disappointed as a fan as I was at halftime. How could this be happening? What is going on? To be honest, I still don’t know. And the fact that actually did happen is a huge red flag.

The good is obvious. 31 second half points. Not giving up at 20-0, or probably even more tellingly, at 28-7. Keeping their poise and executing when every single possession had to result in a long scoring drive. That is the type of game that can change the trajectory of an entire season. It was also another indication that maybe, just maybe, Daniel Jones is actually a pretty darn good quarterback.

There is just one “little” problem on the horizon. Having to play a West Coast road game on Thursday night is incredibly tough enough, but to have that team be the San Fransisco 49ers, the most physical team in football, is an almost impossible mountain to climb. Indeed, this couldn’t be a worse opponent for the Giants coming off an emotional win on a short week. Like the Cowboys and Eagles, the 49ers are another team that wins because they are exceptionally strong up front on both sides of the football. The Giants have proven over and over again they can’t compete with those types of teams. Not yet.

And after Thursday, it hardly gets any easier. Long story short, the Giants are going to have to pull off a major upset or two within the next month or they are going to be 1-5 heading into the October 22nd game against the Commanders. The next four opponents? 49ers, Seahawks, Dolphins, and Bills. That’s why 20-0 at halftime against the Cardinals is so alarming.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Saquon Barkley (ankle – out)
  • WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee – questionable)
  • LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring – out)
  • OG Ben Bredeson (concussion – out)
  • ILB Micah McFadden (neck – questionable)
  • OLB Azeez Ojulari (hamstring – out)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
By all accounts, the Giants’ offense had its best training camp in years. That was backed up by the second day of practices against the Detroit Lions and the impressive first offensive series against the Panthers. Then came that absolute disaster against the Dallas Cowboys where the team could do nothing right and only generated 63 passing yards. “But that was the Cowboys, the Giants will get right against the Cardinals!” At halftime in Glendale, the Giants had five first downs and were scoreless for six straight quarters. It was an incomprehensible result given the offseason additions.

Whatever the reasons, the Giants dramatically came out of their mental slump after halftime. The team scored on every offensive possession, including drives of 75, 75, 80, 64, and 56 yards. Daniel Jones and his weapons were a machine. I’m not sure there has ever been such shocking turnaround over the span of eight quarters… historic, embarrassing ineptitude for six quarters immediately followed by near flawless execution.

Why? Obviously the players executed better. Look no further than the play of Daniel Jones. He was on a different level in the second half. The line also gave him more time and Saquon Barkley started to play like Saquon Barkley. But there was more to it than that too. Jalin Hyatt did something that he did all throughout training camp: he blew past both the corner and deep safety for a 58-yard catch that really probably should have been a 75-yard touchdown. That one play put the fear of God into Arizona’s defense. It changed everything. Up until that point, the Cardinals had not really respected the deep threats (even though they were lucky that Jones missed Darius Slayton deep in the first half). The offensive line also enabled Jones to take the shot to Hyatt. Had that been against Dallas, the play would have resulted in a sack.

The offense employed by Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka is all about spacing, both vertically and horizontally. The Hyatt deep shot put the horizontal back into play. Note how players were getting open far easier after that down-the-field completion. Arizona was also still being heavily influenced by the play fakes to Saquon Barkley. In my opinion, the Arizona game plan was to not let Barkley beat them. Jones reached a new level, his receivers now had room to operate, and Arizona paid the ultimate price. Touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, game-winning field goal. It doesn’t get any better than that.

So the Giants got out their funk. Finally. They are ready to rock and roll now. Normally, I’d say yes and be very hopeful and excited. However, there are three big problems: (1) the offensive line is still unsettled given the injury situation to Andrew Thomas and now Ben Bredeson, (2) Saquon Barkley is going to be out at least one game, and most importantly (3) the San Fransisco 49er defense. The schedule makers did the Giants no favors with this one.

Yes, the New York offensive line performed surprisingly well with Joshua Ezeudu playing at left tackle and Marcus McKethan playing at right guard. But that was against an Arizona Cardinals defense that was missing two starters in the front seven. The 49ers are on a completely different level. This is a team that went into Pittsburgh and made the Steelers look soft, holding them to seven points. Josh Ezeudu, who has barely played at left tackle in the pros, now faces right end Nick Bosa, the defensive player of the year who had 18.5 sacks in 2022. Evan Neal, who is still having his issues in pass pro, will face Drake Jackson who already has three sacks this year. The interior defensive linemen – Arik Armstead and Javon Hargrave – are two of the best two-way defensive tackles in football. Hargrave had 11 sacks with the Eagles in 2022. They are also deep at the position. Mark Glowinski will have to fill in for Bredeson.

It may start with the defensive line, but it doesn’t end there, aside from Bosa, the 49ers had two more All Pros on defense, linebacker Fred Warner and safety Talanoa Hufanga. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw is an underrated tackling machine. The secondary is solid at corner and very strong at safety. On paper, this is a complete mismatch against the team with the top rated defense in all of football in 2022 (both in terms of yards and points).

To win, the Giants will have to hit some big plays in the passing game. They won’t be able to run ball consistently against this defense, with possible exception of Daniel Jones, who will likely come out of this game pretty battered. They also need to prevent turnovers. The guy who needs to play more is Hyatt. He can help loosen up any defense. Whether the offensive line can give Jones the time he needs to get him the ball is a different matter entirely.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
I’m a big fan of Wink Martindale. But I wrote before the opener, “The pressure is on Martindale to elevate New York’s 25th ranked defense that was also 27th against the run. To be blunt, the Giants had the worst defense in the NFC East. He knows how to do it. His defenses in Baltimore were always top notch in run defense. And Joe Schoen gave him a lot of new toys to play with.”

Last week, I wrote, “Wink Martindale and his defensive players are very fortunate that the media and fans are focusing almost exclusively on the Giants’ offensive woes this week. Because the defense laid an egg on Sunday night too. The yardage figures were subdued mainly because Dallas had fewer plays and offensive possessions than the Giants. Nevertheless, the defense allowed five scoring drives, including three rushing touchdowns. Dallas was 6-of-13 (46 percent) on third down and 1-of-2 on fourth down. The Giants had no sacks only hit the quarterback three times. They did not create a turnover.”

Well, with fans now at least temporarily mollified by the 31-point second-half against the Cardinals, Wink is very much in the spotlight this week. The Giants allowed five consecutive scoring drives against Arizona (it could have been six except for a missed field goal). The Giants are the only team in the NFL without a sack or turnover. Somewhat surprisingly, they are a respectable 15th overall in yards allowed, but the run defense is still bottom tier, allowing over 136 yards per game.

Want a key stat? The 49ers have the NFL’s #1 defense against the run in terms of yards per carry (3.4). The Giants are tied for 31st with 5.2. So we have a match-up where the league’s most innovative and third-most productive running team (173.5 yards per game) will face one of the NFL’s worst-rank run defenses for the past two years. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to see where this is going.

Fans will understandably focus on the glamor positions and talk about Cinderella story quarterback Brock Purdy, two-way threat Christian McCaffrey, one of the best tight ends in football in George Kittle, and dynamic receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk for good reason. Say what you want about Purdy, but the rest of those guys are studs. However, to me, the face of this offensive football team is left tackle Trent Williams, a mountain of a man who just obliterates his opponents. On paper, the rest of the line isn’t overly impressive, but they play well together as a unit and are very physical in the running game. They are also helped by the innovative running schemes employed by Shanahan.

The challenge with playing the 49ers is this: you have to stop the run. They won’t abandon it. At the same time, the 49ers have enough explosive weapons at running back, tight end, and wide receiver to make big plays in the passing game. It makes them very tough to defend.

The only shot the Giants have in this game is to do something they haven’t been able to do in years with multiple general managers, head coaches, and defensive coordinators, and that is stop a very good and very physical ground game. The Giants have good depth on the defensive line now. The Giants should play four defensive tackles much of the game up front and keep rotating them. Wink is also going to have to take chances with the young players in the secondary and allow them to sink or swim. Easy touchdowns could be the result. But it’s pick your poison and I don’t want to see the 49ers run for 250 yards against the Giants.

There are a number of players on this defensive roster who have been missing in action. Kayvon Thibodeaux has received the bulk of the criticism for understandable reasons. But there are others including Leonard Williams, Azeez Ojulari (who is hurt again), Bobby Okereke (who was THE big free agent acquisition in the offseason), and Rakeem Nunez-Roches (who was signed to stop the run). Someone has to get to the quarterback. Someone has to force and recover a fumble. Someone needs to make a pick. And based on last Sunday’s performance, everyone, and I mean everyone, needs to tackle. The 49ers saw the film. They have to be licking their chops.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
I said I was going to keep score on Thomas McGaughey. While the Giants didn’t do anything special on special teams, they didn’t lose the game. Eric Gray made some nice plays fielding punts and Graham Gano kicked the game winner. Let’s be generous and tie Tom’s record up at 1-1.

Note that 49ers returner Ray-Ray McCloud has 13 career fumbles.

FROM THE COACHES:
Brian Daboll on Kyle Shanahan: “He’s done this for a long time. He has a ton of experience. He has, I’d say, a number of plays that he’s run throughout his past and he’s always evolving. That’s what I appreciate about Kyle. He’s a heck of a football coach. He creates, I’d say, a lot of issues, whether that’s run force issues, whether that’s making plays look exactly the same and setting things up. He’s a timely play caller. He’s an excellent coach.”

Daboll on the Giants defense: “Run defense is really team defense. It’s controlling the line of scrimmage, it’s making sure we have good run fits and run support. It takes all 11 guys… I’d say we play a lot of fronts. Wink has pretty much every front you can have… Obviously, we want to create some negative plays, whether that’s negative run plays or pass plays. We got to do a good job of getting them to those pass situations, controlling first down so they can’t play the game on their terms.”

THE FINAL WORD:
Fans will think I’m being too pessimistic about this contest, but I go with what I see. Based on last season and the first two games of this season, the 49ers are one of the best teams in the NFL. And much of that success is predicated on the play of their lines. That’s exactly the type of team that gives the Giants trouble. And on top of that, this is a Thursday night road game coming off an emotional win? C’mon.

If this were a normal Sunday game against a different team, I would like the Giants chances. Not in this one.

Sep 192023
 
Ben Bredeson, New York Giants (September 17, 2023)

Ben Bredeson – © USA TODAY Sports

SEPTEMBER 19, 2023 GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
With the Giants playing on Thursday night, the team will only be able to have a couple of walkthrough practices before the next game. The Giants did issue the following injury report as a projection on Tuesday:

RB Saquon Barkley (ankle) and OG Ben Bredeson (concussion) did not practice in Tuesday’s walkthrough.

LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring), WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee), ILB Micah McFadden (neck), and OLB Azeez Ojulari (hamstring) were limited in practice.

Head Coach Brian Daboll would not rule out Barkley from playing on Thursday against the 49ers. “I wouldn’t count on that, not just yet,” said Daboll. “I’m not saying that he’s out yet. He’s a quick healer. I’m not saying he’s in, he’s out. We are going to take it all the way up with him to Thursday, but he feels a lot better today. I just talked to him. So, we will see where we are at.

“(McFadden) should be ready to go…. I would say Azeez and (Thomas) are kind of in the Saquon deal. We’ll take that right up all the way to Thursday. And Ben, I don’t think Ben will pass protocol in this short amount of time. So, I’d say he’s leaning more towards out.”

SEPTEMBER 19, 2023 BRIAN DABOLL PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Brian Daboll addressed the media on Monday (VIDEO):

Q: In a week like this, it’s all walkthroughs, right? I guess you’re outside for the walkthroughs, right?

A: No, we go inside. We go in the indoor at Arizona State.

Q: It’s not going to be 100 degrees in San Francsico so it’s no reason to do that I guess is the reasoning?

A: Yeah, it’s 100 degrees outside so we go inside for the walkthrough.

Q: What do you look to see in those things because they’re walkthroughs? You can’t do anything physical with these guys, obviously a day or two after the game. What is it all about preparing for a Thursday night game?

A: You start out with special teams walkthrough and go through all the phases of that. It’s really mental because it is such a short week. It’s hard on these guys, obviously, they’re taking care of their bodies. Then we go to offense and defense and spend I’d say quite a bit of time on going through our game plan and some of the looks that we’ll see, albeit a slowed down tempo pace but it’s really a mental week of practice to get ready for a Thursday night game. On top of that, they’re in the training room, they’re doing their prehab, they’re doing all the things that they need to do to prepare their bodies to play in a short time frame.

Q: Do you feel as a coaching staff that you can put everything into a Thursday night game that you can as a Sunday game? As far as “we’ve got to stick to this.” Do you think you can unload it all in that much time?

A: Well, you plan – you know when you’re playing and you plan accordingly throughout the offseason, towards the end of the offseason, through training camp and you put things in that you know you’re probably going to use in a short timeframe. Done that kind of everywhere I’ve been. The plays, it’s not like you’re adding 1000 new plays, you don’t do that to the players. You want them to play fast and make sure they know what to do. But certainly, there’s always a game plan element to it and the coaches, there hasn’t been a lot of sleep but that’s the way it goes on these types of games. Make sure you can put together something that those guys can go out there and execute, know what to do, play fast with and then for them to take care of their bodies and do what they need to do to get ready to play in a short time frame.

Q: I wanted to ask you about the run defense. It looked like last week in particular against the Cardinals that guys were not just winning at the point of attack. When you look at it, what are you seeing and assuming that my observation is correct, where does that rank in priority to fix it?

A: We’re going to try to improve really every area of our football team where we’re at but again, run defense is really team defense. It’s controlling the line of scrimmage, it’s making sure we have good run fits and run support. It takes all 11 guys. Just like really every play whether it’s run defense, the pass offense, the screen game, whatever it may be, it just comes down to executing your responsibility for the collective part of the unit.

Q: I know you’ve been playing a lot of two-man defensive line fronts. Would you consider changing that up a little bit? Especially going up against (49ers running back Christian) McCaffrey?

A: I’d say we play a lot of fronts. (Defensive Coordinator) Wink (Martindale) has pretty much every front you can have. Again, each week we sit down, we talk about the things we need to improve on and put together a plan we think will work for that game and then we’ve got to go out there and execute it.

Q: What makes (49ers Head Coach) Kyle Shanahan’s offense so challenging?

A: He’s done this for a long time. He has a ton of experience. He has, I’d say, a number of plays that he’s run throughout his past and he’s always evolving. That’s what I appreciate about Kyle. He’s a heck of a football coach. He creates, I’d say, a lot of issues, whether that’s run force issues, whether that’s making plays look exactly the same and setting things up. He’s a timely play caller. He’s an excellent coach.

Q: As far as (running back) Saquon (Barkley), I don’t know if you care to share anything on his timeline, but obviously he’s going to be out for at least some time.

A: I wouldn’t count on that, not just yet.

Q: Okay, safe to say he will be out on Thursday night?

A: I’m not saying that he’s out yet. He’s a quick healer. I’m not saying he’s in, he’s out. We are going to take it all the way up with him to Thursday, but he feels a lot better today. I just talked to him. So, we will see where we are at.

Q: If he wasn’t ready, how comfortable are you with (running back) Eric Gray particularly in pass protection? I know that’s always a big thing for rookie running backs.

A: I’d say the three guys that we have behind Saquon, they are all here for a reason. We are comfortable with all those guys. Whether that’s run or pass. Certainly things that we could all improve on, but they are all here for a reason and if he’s out there, we have confidence in him.

Q: Especially given the personnel that you have up front, does your lack of sacks surprise you and what can you guys do to try to get more pressure and get a few sacks moving forward?

A: Obviously, we want to create some negative plays, whether that’s negative run plays or pass plays. We got to do a good job of getting them to those pass situations, controlling first down so they can’t play the game on their terms.

Q: I was wondering if you would address the challenges that are Christian McCaffrey and also (49ers defensive lineman Nick) Bosa on the other side of the ball, obviously.

A: Yeah, well I’d say just on both sides, those two guys are heck of a players, they’ve got a lot of good players on their team. A team full of Pro Bowlers or All-Pros, whether it’s McCaffrey, (49ers wide receiver) Deebo Samuel, (49ers wide receiver Brandon) Aiyuk, Bosa, (49ers defensive lineman Javon) Hargrave, (49ers linebacker Fred) Warner, I mean the list goes on and on. I’d say their team is well constructed. (49ers General Manager) John Lynch has done a great job along with Kyle and there is a lot of challenges with this team in a number of areas.

Q: With (running back Matt) Breida, I understand what you just said about Saquon, I assume at some point we will still see Breida Thursday night, likely, possibly. What do you like about his game? You had him in Buffalo, you now have him here, clearly you like the player.

A: Yeah, I mean he’s a pro. He knows what to do, he knows how to do it, he’s done it for a while. He’s got speed, he’s got some quickness about him. He’s had some productive years as a runner, he was at San Francisco. He’s just a pro and he knows our system well and we have confidence in him.

Q: I’m curious if Saquon was unable to go, how much more does that put on (quarterback) Daniel’s (Jones) shoulders? Obviously, Saquon is a big part of this offensive scheme, you’ve run a lot through him in the past, does that change much, what you need from Daniel in that case?

A: Look, Daniel has got his job to do, just like the running backs have their job, the receivers, the offensive line. It’s individually taking care of your responsibility, whatever that maybe and doing your job at a high level.

Q: I know you didn’t want to rule Saquon out. Does the fact that you have 11 days between the games, how much does that factor into how you guys handle him?

A: I think it all factors in, but ultimately I go back to the player and see where he’s at. He’s made considerable progress, just in a day and a half or however many days we’ve been out here. Again, we will go all the way up there to the start on Thursday and see where we are at.

Q: I just wanted to ask about (inside linebacker) Micah (McFadden), he was added to the injury report yesterday with a neck injury, what happened and how’s he doing?

A: He’s good, he will be fine.

Q: Will he be available for Thursday then?

A: Yeah, he should be. He should be ready to go.

Q: Did anybody ask you why you lined up for two down eight before the penalty on (wide receiver) Parris (Campbell)?

A: No, they didn’t.

Q: I know that’s an analytical thing. What’s the math or thinking behind that? Is it that you get two-point conversions more than one out of every two times, so if you don’t get it, you have a second chance to get it? What’s the math and the thinking behind going for two down eight?

A: You answered it.

Q: It’s really that? One out of two is better than 50 percent?

A: Yeah, if you get the two, then you win it with an extra point. If you don’t, you still have another opportunity to go for two again and tie it up.

Q: And math suggests that you’re going to be successful at least one out of two times?

A: Yeah, I mean, that’s something that I talk with (Director of Football Data and Innovation) Ty (Siam) and (Offensive Assistant/Game Manager) Cade (Knox) about. We actually go through that situation quite a bit each week. And this week, where we were in the game, how the game was going, we felt comfortable with that decision.

Q: Is it relative to time in the game too?

A: I’d say all that plays into it. All that plays into it.

Q: I guess this is probably a good problem to have, but if you have seven healthy receivers, can you have all those guys active? Or does somebody end up as an odd man out if (wide receiver) Wan’Dale (Robinson) is able to play?

A: No, we can have them all active.

Q: In terms of the week, we know how challenging it is for you guys to put things in to get ready for San Francisco and obviously physically for the players, and mentally. But the flip side of that is you guys are spending all this time together out here on the road. Is there any part of this trip that as challenging as it is may galvanize his team a little bit and bring you guys closer? You kind of had that last year when you went to London. I’m just curious for something out of the ordinary, do you like seeing things from your team that you may not see when you’re home?

A: They spend a lot of time together obviously when you’re on the road, but a lot of that is meetings and we go from 7:30 to late afternoon, call it, early evening. I’m sure they spend time getting a meal together, but it’s really dialed in right here. You have such a short timeframe to do all your preparations. It’s kind of like it is back home, if you will, relative to the meetings, we do the walkthrough, kind of like we do the walkthrough, maybe a little bit more extended, come back, have position meetings, and then instead of those guys going home, they spend some time together in the hotel or out to dinner.

Q: Any knowledge yet on whether (tackle) Andrew Thomas is going to go, or (outside linebacker) Azeez Ojulari, (guard) Ben Bredeson, those guys?

A: I would say Azeez and AT (tackle Andrew Thomas) are kind of in the Saquon deal. We’ll take that right up all the way to Thursday. And Ben, I don’t think Ben will pass protocol in this short amount of time. So, I’d say he’s leaning more towards out, if you will.

Q: Just clarify on Saquon. There were some reports that he was going to be out three weeks, two to three weeks. Are you saying that those timelines are not accurate?

A: I just think with every injury, until you’re with the player, you see the player… I don’t know, you might heal a little bit different than I heal, I might heal a little bit different than another player heals. So, again, Saquon is, I’d say he’s a lot better than maybe I thought he would be, or some other people thought he would be today. So again, he might heal a little bit different than another player, if you will. So, we’ll just take it day-to-day with him and if he can make it, great. If he can’t, we’ll see if he can get better by the following week, and we’ll just take it one day at a time.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the Giants on Wednesday as the team travels to California from Arizona. The Giants play the 49ers on Thursday night.