-Tyrod Taylor: 18/29 – 279 yards / 2 TD – 0 INT / 116.9 RAT / 25 rushing yards

Taylor started for the second straight week as Daniel Jones remains out with a neck injury. Once again, he was playing behind an offensive line missing multiple starters, with Justin Pugh playing left tackle, and another starter who was signed off someone else’s practice squad just days prior (Tyre Phillips). The line was overmatched by the Washington defensive line that features four first round picks, all of which have met expectations over the years of someone drafted that high. On paper, this did not look good. Taylor responded with the best game of his career since 2017, a 26-16 win over Trevor Siemian-led Denver in Week 3.

Taylor has a couple of standout traits in his game as a 34-year old, 13th-year veteran. His release is lightning quick. Some quarterbacks have it, some do not. Taylor can make his decision and get it out in such a sudden kind of way. The second trait I like centers around decision making. While the offensive line has stabilized a bit, do not make the mistake of thinking that group has turned things around. Taylor getting the ball out in a hurry hid some major matchup losses up front. Watching from the All-22 angle shows how often he threw guys open. He was not waiting for them to get open, he knew the coverage, where the leverage was, and got that ball out with great anticipation. There were several high-level throws that made me go back and watch them again. I am impressed with Taylor. He is 1-1, and about 2 inches away from 2-0.


-Saquon Barkley: 21 att – 77 yards / 3 rec – 41 yards – 1 TD

Barkley’s stat line is solid, but nothing special. But this was one of the most impressive and influential performances we have seen out of him over the last dozen games. Barkley hyperextend his elbow in the first quarter. That is not a serious injury, but it does impede strength. The pulling muscles (bicep/forearm) are compromised. Not an ideal situation for a running back and it did end up leading to a lost fumble in the fourth quarter. But Barkley toughed this one out. He was constantly lowering his shoulder, constantly picking up some extra yards, and constantly breaking tackles. The touchdown followed a short pass in which he created most of the yards himself. Barkley, playing for a contract, pushed through a lot of discomfort, ran behind a bad offensive line, and was a key reason to this win even though he almost fumbled it away.

-Matt Breida played just 11 snaps, gaining just 9 yards on 4 touches. Rookie Eric Gray saw an early exit after muffing another punt and getting bent backward on his ankle as he got hit. More on that below but here is a hint. That experiment needs a new answer.


-We have been discussing this for weeks. Here is a blurb from my Week 2 review in Arizona, the other win this year. “Hyatt is the key, here. A lot to be put on a third rounder but the way he moves and the way he is tracking the ball and how fast he can easily get over the top can change how defenses work the short to intermediate routes. Hyatt looks ready for more.” After that comment, Hyatt had a total of two passes thrown his way in three games (all losses with one offensive touchdown combined). Then? A near-upset win in Buffalo and this win against Washington which included 9 targets, totaling 96 yards. Hyatt is not just important; he is vital to NYG’s offensive success. Whomever plays quarterback needs to lean on that, hard. A 42-yard catch and a 33-yard catch. Both led to scoring opportunities (Gano missed a field goal / Barkley fumbled). He changes this team the more he gets involved.

-The rest of the receiver group combined for 60 yards on 5 catches. Isaiah Hodgins, Wan’Dale Robinson, Darius Slayton, and Sterling Shepard. The ball was properly spread out (only Hodgins had more than one catch), and there were no drops. I will touch on Shepard and his attempts at returning punts below, but it was ugly.


-Darren Waller: 7 rec – 98 yards – 1 TD

Waller led the team in targets, catches, and yards. He is turning a corner after a slow start that centered around a sore hamstring. He had two grabs, one of which was his first touchdown as a Giant, where he displayed elite receiver-caliber ball skills. Do not underestimate how rare it for a player this size to turn his body in the air and pluck the ball with strong, accurate hands. He did this in traffic and in high-pressure situations. The blocking impact was a negative in standout fashion again, however.

-Speaking of poor blocking, Daniel Bellinger was abused up front. Having him help on a few select passing plays did help (although he did allow a sack), but he got messed up in the running game. Multiple times his missed assignment or sheer loss prevented Barkley from bursting through the initial traffic. His impact as a receiver is going to be limited with Waller on the roster, plain and simple. He needs to improve up front if this offense is going to work, plain and simple.


-Justin Pugh returned to tackle. Remember, that was his college and early pro career position, but not recently. He was matched up against Chase Young and took a beating in pass protection. He allowed 4 pressures and 2 sacks (1 of which was called off by a WAS penalty) and was also flagged for a hold. Pugh was a factor, however, as a run blocker. They moved him around often on outside zone runs where he pulled across the line and found work. He had key blocks on multiple positive runs. Tyre Phillips, signed off the PHI practice squad, manned the right tackle spot. He was the beneficiary of Taylor getting the ball out in a hurry a few times. He allowed a sack and a pressure, but the sack could easily be written off by the coaching staff if I saw it correctly. The blocking scheme on that play was clearly about cutting off the inside rush lane and simply stiff-arming the edge defender outside because the pass was supposed to be out quickly. Sterling Shepard fell, causing Taylor to hold onto the ball, and Phillips’ man went in for the easy sack. Overall, Phillips played arguably the best right tackle we have seen to this point all season but no, there is no controversy if Neal is healthy enough to play next week.

-Inside we saw the ship steadied, most notably in the passing game. Positive grades for both Ben Bredeson at center and Mark Glowinski at right guard were heavily engineered by their pass protection performances. Glowinski allowed just 1 pressure and Bredeson was clean.

-Markus McKethan saw a position change. He played left guard for the first time of his career. He did not play there even in college. I am curious to hear more about that decision but even though he finished with a negative grade overall, he played better than previous weeks. Young players take time to develop and there is at least some optimism that the shift to the left side (which likely had more to do with Glowinski playing his more natural right guard spot) will show us a different version of him. He allowed a TFL and 2 pressures on plays where he lost initially. Whiffs, oversetting, and inaccurate hands get him into positions where he just cannot athletically recover.


-Kayvon Thibodeaux made an impact in two different ways, one of which obvious and the other not so much. He split three different sacks (1.5 total for him individually) and added 2 other pressures. He had a tackle and was credited for a pass break up (a gift-wrapped ball he should have caught and returned for a touchdown). A solid, productive game on a day where the Giants held to their opponent to just 7 points. The other impressive component here was the fact he played all but one snap. The injury to Azeez Ojulari and lack of options they have beyond him put this on the 2022 fifth overall pick. The 68 snaps were the third most of his career and watching the one-on-one wins against Washington left tackle Charles Leno, Jr. changed how they ran their passing game and protections up front. This defense and team needed Thibodeaux to step up, and he did.

-Jihad Ward saw another uptick in playing time for the third straight week. He added one tackle and one pressure. He and backup Boogie Basham did not stand out in any way, but they both set the edge for the entire game against the run. Physical and consistent. That helped funnel things inside where the defensive tackles and linebackers were dominating.


-Dexter Lawrence did it again. Please do not overlook how good these performances are simply because of how often he is doing it. This is what an All-Pro looks like. Former Giant and fan favorite Nick Gates was taken to school by Lawrence. He had 6 tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 pressures. More impressive than that was what he did on the Leonard Williams sack in the first quarter. They stunted the two and three guys tried to block Lawrence, two of which ended up on their backs, and Williams ended with the 3rd-down sack, forcing a punt.

-Speaking of Williams, as I mentioned, he had a 3rd-down sack and 2 pressures in addition to 2 tackles. Solid game up front for a guy who has been a tad quiet this season. His biggest play, however, was a blocked field goal early in the 4th quarter in a 14-7 game. Had he not gotten his hand on that, the entire tone of that last quarter would have been different. Huge play in an unlikely moment by the team’s most expensive player.

-Rakeem Nunez-Roches and A’Shawn Robinson were the two most-used backups inside. They both added a pressure and Robinson had 3 tackles. I’ve said this before, but I like the options this depth chart gives them to prevent too much of a workload for Lawrence and Williams.


-A game after one of the best single-game performances I have seen from a Giants linebacker, Bobby Okereke led the team with 11 tackles and a pass break up. Micah McFadden added a half-sack and a pressure along with 5 tackles. Between the two of them, they rushed the passer 17 times. Individually, they both blitzed the same number of times. I was surprised to see Washington not attack these two in coverage when the opportunities were there.

-Isaiah Simmons brings versatility to the table. In this game we saw him line up at outside linebacker a season-high 24 times, as snaps were needed for the injured Ojulari. In all games combined prior to this one, he lined up at outside linebacker 22 times. So, he more than doubled that alignment position. He added one pressure (a key play in the fourth quarter) and 3 tackles. A QB spy/hybrid pass rusher is the best spot for him.


-The Deonte Banks surge continues. The rookie intercepted the first pass of his career in the second quarter. Two plays later, Barkley scored the second touchdown and New York took a 14-0 lead. A turnover and an explosive play and a touchdown all within three snaps? It seemed like for six weeks the Giants couldn’t squeeze out any of those over the course of an entire game. The Banks play spurred everything. Banks got into it with Terry McLaurin early on and it may have come back to bite him a little in the second half. He was also flagged for a hold. But Banks made a big play and it can hide other issues. The other thing that I liked was how well he prevented yards after the catch. It means he is close, it means he can recover. Those are two basic, but must-have traits for the position.

-Adoree’ Jackson missed the game with a neck injury. This opened the door back up for rookie Tre Hawkins, who played a career-high 59 snaps. He and nickel Cor’Dale Flott both played a solid game against Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel. The two averaged about 7 yards per catch. Like Banks, these two did an excellent job at minimizing what happened after the catch. They combined for 10 tackles and Hawkins came up with a 3rd-down pass break-up.


-Yet another week, yet another game with both Xavier McKinney and Jason Pinnock on the field for every snap. Pinnock was a bit more active, finishing with 8 tackles, 1 TFL, and 1 sack where he went untouched. His play speed stands out. McKinney added 4 tackles. More importantly, the two of them did not miss a single tackle for the fourth-straight week. They combined for 9 missed tackles over the first three weeks. Since then? Zero. McKinney was flagged for a bogus penalty that I did not dock him for. It was a poor judgement call by the ref.


-K Graham Gano: 0/1 (missed 42)
-P Jamie Gillan: 8 punts / 49.4 avg – 45.3 net

Gillan is quietly having a strong year. He leads the league in fair catches and is third in net average.


-DT Dexter Lawrence, DT Leonard Williams, OG Mark Glowinski


-TE Daniel Bellinger, OT Justin Pugh, WR Sterling Shepard


1. It is hard to be a believer in Sam Howell. From my 2021 scouting report summary: “He had very little integrity and feel in the pocket…He also played in a very simple offense even for college standards…Howell does not look like a pro to me…” Now, I will say this kid deserves more time to develop, as he’s started just 8 games to this point. But when looking at the college evaluation and watching his tape over those 8 starts, the optimism cannot be high. He is making this offensive line look worse than it is, he is not fully maximizing the weapons at his disposal. Washington not pursuing a different route at quarterback this past offseason puzzled me then and it puzzles me now.

2. Terry McLaurin is a very good receiver, and I would assume most people agree. But do we have any idea how good he is? Here are the quarterbacks he has caught passes from: Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, Colt McCoy, Alex Smith (post injury), Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke, Garrett Gilbert, Ryan Fitzpatrick (1 quarter), Carson Wentz, Sam Howell. Talk about a rough lineup that never gets over the hump. McLaurin is just another example of a guy we often see in sports over the years. Someone who has the ceiling of being elite but never gets even close because of the situation around him. He really can’t be cut or traded because of cap reasons until after 2024 and at that point he will be entering his age-30 season.

3. Chase Young or Montez Sweat? Who are you taking? Both of the Washington defensive ends are free agents next spring. Both are former first rounders. Young has the better pedigree. Remember when many fans were upset in 2019 when NYG won two of their final three games, pushing them out of reach for Young in the following draft? Unfortunately, NYG had to choose eventual All-Pro Andrew Thomas that year while Young has missed 24 out of 57 games. Example #1,000 why getting too happy or too upset draft weekend can make one look foolish. Sweat, on the other hand, has missed just 7 out of 73 games and is a top-10 edge defender in the NFL who very few talk about. Young’s upside was and probably still is higher. He is playing some of the best football of his career right now, but that injury history needs to be considered when paying someone a long and expensive second contract.


1. A team that needs to scrape by to win games must ensure their special teams are on point. It can undoubtedly be the difference in multiple close matchups. Kicker Graham Gano is trustworthy, and Jamie Gillan is quietly having the best season of his career. Kick returners simply do not matter much. However, the punt returner can still be incredibly influential in either direction. New York has dropped the ball here, literally, and figuratively. The Eric Gray experiment is odd. He did not do it once in 2022 with Oklahoma and had minimal experience in that role at Tennessee. Shepard had never returned a punt (college or NFL) prior to this past Sunday. The blunder with Adoree’ Jackson last year still stands out. This needs to be figured out even if it means another off-the-couch signing. They got lucky their issues there did not cost them the game.

2. Winning this game was important. The first reason being obvious. They were 1-5 and they’ve created a minuscule margin for error from here on out. Two, the easier stretch of their schedule is here with a bunch of teams hovering around .500 coming up. A couple more games like this and yes, they’re back in the playoff hunt. Don’t believe me? Go look for yourself. They’re still in it and the reinforcements are coming.

3. This was a clean game by NYG. There were fewer missed tackles. There were fewer miscommunications along the offensive line. There were no drops. There were fewer penalties. They were dominant defensively on third down. They averaged just under 10 yards per pass attempt. Football is complex on many levels, but the results are usually rather simple. Avoid mistakes and you win almost every time. There will never be a mistake free player or team or game, but this team can compete like they did last year if those avoidable issues (listed above) are in the rear-view mirror. Whatever changes the coaches made in their preparation last week worked.