In last week’s preview, I said the Giants-Commanders game would give us an indication of just how deep the abyss for the 2023 New York Giants would be. The good news is not only did the Giants win, but despite significant number of important players still missing due to injury, they dominated the game. The bad news is they almost handed the contest to the Commanders with key mistakes on offense, defense, and special teams.

Stating the obvious, at 2-5, the Giants remain in desperate straits. There is no margin for error if the Giants want to get back into playoff contention. After the “home” game against the Jets, the Giants face three consecutive road games, one against the Cowboys who already crushed the team 40-0. This is as close to a “must game” as there is, with the difference between 3-5 or 2-6.


  • QB Daniel Jones (neck – out)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (elbow – probable)
  • RB Gary Brightwell (hamstring – out)
  • WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee – probable)
  • TE Darren Waller (hamstring – questionable)
  • LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring – doubtful)
  • RT Evan Neal (ankle – questionable)
  • OC John Michael Schmitz (shoulder)
  • OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee – questionable)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (neck – questionable)
  • PK Graham Gano (knee – probable)

There is a lot going on here, with implications for 2023 and beyond. Before getting into longer-term issues, let’s address the immediate concern of the game against a very good New York Jets defense.

On paper, this side of the ball looks like a clear mismatch. Despite all of their issues on offense, the Jets are still only allowing under 20 points per game. Meanwhile, the Giants are scoring a league-low 12 points per game (somewhat inflated by a defensive score). And the strength of the Jets is a strong (and deep) defensive front against a patchwork NYG Giants offensive line. The Giants’ OL was an utter disaster for first five weeks of the season. It has been a little less so for the last two weeks. As I talked about last week, the improvement has been mainly due to fewer mental breakdowns because of the veteran presence of Mark Glowinski, Ben Bredeson, and Justin Pugh rather than the greenhorns who had been out there previously. It looks like Justin Pugh will start at left tackle again, where he has struggled. Tyre Phillips may start over Evan Neal one more game. Expect issues on the outside. John Michael Schmitz may be back, which likely will cause Ben Bredeson to shift back to guard with Mark Glowinski.

Given the Jets’ own offensive issues, the game has the feeling of the classic mantra “the team that makes the fewest mistakes will win.” Both offenses don’t put a lot of points on the board (Jets averaging just under 20 points per game). The Jets’ defense has also thrived off of turnovers (4th in the NFL will 13 takeaways). This will probably be one of those games that the better part of valor may simply not to take too many risks and punt the ball. Field position will be important, suggesting it might not be wise to take a lot of 4th-down chances. Don’t pass up sure points either when in field goal range.

Oddly, the Jets (135.2 yards per game allowed) have only been slightly better in run defense than the Giants (137.3). It suggests the team should stick with Saquon Barkley running the ball with an occasional chance for Tyrod Taylor (the risk with the latter is if Taylor gets hurt, the Giants are screwed). Continued use of the quick, short passing game with an occasional deep shot to Jalin Hyatt and Darius Slayton should also continue. The Hyatt-Sauce Gardner match-up was a fun one in the preseason.

Let’s turn to the elephant in the room. Regardless of what Brian Daboll says publicly, there is a quarterback controversy. Sometimes quarterback controversies involve two good quarterbacks (see the Phil Simms/Jeff Hostetler knockdown fights by fans in 1991 and 1992). Most of the time when there is a quarterback controversy, it’s an indication that the team really doesn’t have a quarterback. Last week I talked about Jones only having 10 games left to change public (and perhaps organizational) opinion on him. With Jones out again, we’re down to nine games and counting. And as I wrote last week, “Tyrod Taylor is one good performance away from sealing Jones’ fate.” Taylor may not be lighting it up, but there has been no noticeable downturn in quarterback production with him playing. In fact, some have argued the opposite. Throw in a $40 million contract and questions about a potentially career-affecting neck injury and we’re in a far different place than we were just two months ago.

There are three sides to the quarterback situation. Apologists for Daniel Jones. Those who think Daniel Jones kills puppies. And those still sitting on the fence. Regardless of your particular category, one cannot ignore the reality of the situation. The Giants cannot go into 2024 assuming Jones can be the quarterback for this team. The neck injury and any further games missed only exacerbate the situation. If Taylor can get this team to start scoring more points, support for Jones will dwindle, perhaps even in the locker room. You might not like it, but that’s where we’re at. The problem long term is Taylor is an undersized, injury-prone, 34-year old quarterback. Unless we’re looking at another Geno Smith situation, the Giants are going to have to draft quarterback in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

The Jets game is huge, but there are bigger issues now at play from an organizational perspective.

The defense continues to trend in the right direction. Much of this is due to young players gaining experience as well as improved tackling by the linebackers and defensive backs. It also helps when the quality of your opponent decreases. Regardless, the glaring hole that can’t be fixed until the offseason is another edge rusher, a task made more difficult now by the team needing another quarterback.

Look, you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to break down this game. The Jets would be a serious Super Bowl contender if it were not for three things: (1) they don’t have a quarterback, (2) their offensive line stinks, and (3) questions about the maturity level of the head coach. Assuming the NYG offense is going to struggle gain, particularly against the NYJ defense, it is obvious that the pressure will be on the NYG defense to respond in kind against a suspect NYJ offense. The ability or inability to create turnovers will also prove decisive.

When you have a suspect quarterback and offensive line, a good running back, and are facing a team that has struggled to defend the run, the game plan for both sides becomes obvious. The Jets will want to run the ball; the Giants will want to stop the run. Whichever side prevails will most likely win the ball game. The Giants want to get Zach Wilson into long down-and-distance situations and attempt to confuse him like they did with Sam Howell last week. The Jets will want to keep Wilson and their offensive line out of these situations.

The two main threats are wide receiver Garrett Wilson and running back Breece Hall. Big time match-up here for Deonte Banks against Wilson.

Sy’56 pointed this out in his game review, but Jamie Gillan is quietly becoming one of the better punters in the NFL. He’s currently third in the NFL in net average (45.3 yards).  Meanwhile, Graham Gano, who has been battling a knee issue, missed a 42 yarder last week. They need a strong game from him.

All eyes will be on the punt returner. Eric Gray is on IR. Sterling Shepard muffed a return last week that could have cost the game. Newcomer Gunner Olszewski may be elevated from the Practice Squad. However, he has eight career fumbles on punt and kickoff returns.

Wink Martindale on the Jets: “The biggest challenge that we’re going to have is that running back (Breece Hall) because he’s special.”

The Giants have painted themselves into a corner. Three of the next four games are “must win” games or the season is likely over. While the team is playing better, critical players are still out with injury or affected by injury. This includes Thomas, Schmitz, Barkley, and Waller. Opinions vary on the losses of Jones, Neal, and Ojulari. There is a big difference between 2-6 and 3-5, especially when you consider the latter would mean a 2-game winning streak. Tell me who wins the turnover battle and I can make a pretty good prediction on who wins this game.