Nov 302023
 
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (September 10, 2023)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 NFL season could not have gone worse for Daniel Jones. Now the New York Giants find themselves at yet another crossroads with the controversial quarterback, a decision that very well could impact the fate of team management, the coaching staff, and the future competitiveness of the team.

THE HISTORY

The Giants first bet on Jones by selecting him sixth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. Jones was the second quarterback taken in that draft, behind Kyler Murray, who was selected first overall by the Arizona Cardinals. The only other quarterback drafted in the first round that year was Dwayne Haskins by the Washington Football Team with the 15th overall selection. While both Murray and Jones have flashed, both have been disappointments given where they were drafted. Haskins not only flopped in Washington, but he was killed last year. Needless to say, it was not a good draft for quarterbacks.

Jones’ initial season was promising. He started 12 games, threw for over 3,000 yards, and completed 24 touchdown passes on team largely devoid of surrounding offensive talent. His biggest negative was a ridiculous number of fumbles. Eleven of his 18 fumbles were recovered by opposing teams, and combined with 12 interceptions, Jones was personally responsible for 23 turnovers. The other issue, which would grow with time, was that Jones missed two games due to an ankle injury. The Giants finished 4-12 on the season with Jones being 3-9 in games that he started.

Daniel Jones, New York Giants (April 25, 2019)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

2020 was a huge disappointment for Jones. Head Coach Pat Shurmur was fired in January and replaced by Joe Judge. The new offensive coordinator was Jason Garrett. The team marginally improved its record to 6-10. But Jones missed two more games due to injury (hamstring and ankle). Worse, despite starting more games (14), Jones threw for fewer yards and far fewer (11) touchdowns. And turnovers remained an issue with 11 fumbles (6 lost) and 10 interceptions. Rather than building on his rookie season, Jones got worse.

2021 was train wreck for the entire franchise. Garrett was fired in November. Judge began to melt down in post-game press conferences and was fired after the season. General Manager Dave Gettleman, who drafted Jones, was “retired.” The team finished 4-13, losing its final six games in progressively more embarrassing fashion. As for Jones, he missed those final six games with a neck injury that landed him on Injured Reserve, fueling speculation at the time that his career might be in jeopardy. In the 11 games that he did start, he threw for just 2,400 yards and 10 touchdowns. His turnovers fell to 10 (seven interceptions and three lost fumbles). Rumors circulated that Judge had everyone playing scared, including Jones, who seemed to stop taking chances down the field.

January 2022 was the first low point for Daniel Jones. The promise of his rookie season had been wiped out due to his poor 2020 and 2021 seasons. He had yet to stay healthy in any of his three seasons, and there was concern about his future due to the neck issue. The national media had never accepted him as a legitimate quarterback and unprofessionally openly mocked him. The New York fanbase had now turned on him as well. It was widely believed that new General Manager Joe Schoen and Head Coach Brian Daboll would not exercise the 5th-year option on Jones’ contract. In a vote of no-confidence, they did not, rejecting the option on the first day of the 2022 NFL Draft.

So Jones entered 2022 in the fourth and final year of his rookie contract. While the team had not selected his replacement in the draft, it was expected by many that Jones would leave in free agency after the season. Some even speculated that newly-signed Tyrod Taylor would likely supplant Jones during the year either due to poor play or injury. Most believed his replacement would be drafted in April 2023 as the team was entering yet another complete rebuilding cycle and had shed $40 million against the salary cap.

This is where things started to turn around for Jones. Doctors said his neck was structurally sound enough to return to the playing field. Daboll and new Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka were clearly an upgrade over Judge and Garrett when it came to handling Jones. The offense still had its issues. The line was shaky. The starting tight end was a rookie. And the four wideouts who were supposed to form the heart of the receiving corps – Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Sterling Shepard, Wan’Dale Robinson – either flamed out or got hurt. The coaches continually had to adjust on the fly, finally finding a run-centric RPO style that seemed to suit Jones well and make reads simpler for him.

The team started off surprisingly strong, winning nail-biter after nail-biter against favored teams, en route to a 7-2 start. The Giants were not scoring a lot of points, but they were keeping games close and finding a way to win in the 4th quarter. As injuries mounted on both offense and defense, the team fell back to earth, losing four games in a row. The season was saved with a defensive struggle in Washington followed by a 38-10 beatdown of the lowly Indianapolis Colts two weeks later, securing a playoff spot. Since the last game was now meaningless, the starters did not play in Week 17.

Daniel Jones, New York Giants (January 15, 2023)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 regular-season was arguably Jones’ best. He had improved his completion percentage to over 67 percent. He had reached a career-high QBR of 92.5. He had a career low in turnovers with eight (5 interceptions and three fumbles). For the first time in his pro career, he did not miss a game due to injury. Most importantly, he was 9-6-1 as a starter and the Giants were headed to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. The downside? His career high 3,205 passing yards was pedestrian and his 15 passing touchdowns were very low by contemporary standards. That was partially offset, however, by 708 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns (single-season franchise records).

The high point for Jones came on January 15, 2023 against the 13-4 Minnesota Vikings. Jones was spectacular in that game, completing 24-of-35 passes for 301 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions (114.1 quarterback rating). He also ran  the ball 17 times for 78 yards, including two 4th-and-1 conversions. New York’s Cinderella ride ended against the Philadelphia Eagles the following week, as the Giants were hammered 38-7. Jones barely completed half his passes for just 135 yards and threw a pick.

THE CONTRACT

The Daniel Jones’ redemption story in 2022 was a complete surprise. Jones went from an object of mockery and derision to a hero receiving a standing ovation exiting a late-season game at MetLife. Fans who once wanted him gone were now complaining that the team had not exercised the 5th-year option. Very few were now calling for the Giants to move on. The questions became what was his true upside, and therefore, how much valuable salary cap space should the Giants use in an attempt to retain him as an upcoming unrestricted free agent?

As free agency approached in early March, the team had three options: (1) designate him a Franchise player (1-year, $29.7 million contract), (2) sign him to a long-term extension, or (3) let him test the free agent waters. No one was arguing for option #3 as there were a number of quarterback-hungry teams that might break the bank for Jones. Complicating matters was the team was having a hard time re-signing running back Saquon Barkley, who was seeking a bigger and possibly longer contract than the team was willing to give him. The Giants could only use the Franchise tag on one player and the clock was ticking. Right before the deadline, the Giants and Jones agreed to a new deal. The team then slapped the tag on Barkley, who was not happy about this turn of events.

The initial numbers surprised many. It wasn’t the the length of contract, four years, but the overall value, $160 million. $81 million of that contract was initially fully guaranteed. (It is largely forgotten that the contract was tweaked in September in an effort to create more salary cap space for the team, with an additional $8.42 million in salary converted into signing bonus).

What pundits and fans noticed was that the contract made it virtually impossible to part ways with Jones in 2023 and 2024 with $81.5 million and $69.3 million in dead money, respectively. However, it would be easier to cut or trade him in 2025 ($22.2 million) and 2026 ($11.1 million). “It’s really just a 2-year deal,” was the rose-colored glasses argument. “He’s an ascending player and this contract will look like a bargain in a couple of years.”

By all accounts, the 2023 training camp was Jones’ best. He played one series in the preseason and the starting offense looked like a well-oiled machine on that single drive. While the Eagles still might be too good to unseat, the Giants were ready to challenge the Cowboys for second-place in the NFC East.

THE 2023 DISASTER

The 2023 NFL season could not have gone worse for Daniel Jones. And it is easy to pick the exact moment that it all fell apart. On the initial drive of the home opener against the Cowboys, the Giants reached the 8-yard line. On 3rd-and-2, Andrew Thomas was penalized for a false start. A bad snap led to a fumble that lost 14 yards. Graham Gano’s 45-yard field goal was blocked for a touchdown, with Thomas suffering a pulled hamstring that would cause him to miss seven games. The Giants and Jones never really recovered.

Daniel Jones, New York Giants (October 8, 2023)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

Jones would start the first five games of the season. He was forced to leave the game early in the 4th quarter of the Week 5 contest against the Miami Dolphins with yet another neck injury. Understandably, the alarm bells started going off again with this being his second neck injury in three years, the first having ended his season. The “good news” was that he only missed the next three games. But that was short-lived with Jones tearing the ACL of his right knee on the last play of the 1st quarter in his first game back. Season over.

The final numbers for Jones in 2023? 1-5 record as a starter. Two touchdown passes and one rushing touchdown. All three scores came in the second half of his only win. He didn’t score in the other five losses. Six interceptions and one fumble. 909 passing yards and 206 rushing yards. Sacked 30 times. Career-low 70.6 QBR. The team never scored an offensive touchdown in the first half of any game that Daniel Jones started.

THE BACKUPS

When Jones went down with the neck injury, Tyrod Taylor filled in until he suffered a rib injury in the first half of the Week 8 game against the New York Jets. Then undrafted rookie free agent Tommy DeVito was pressed into service. Taylor went 1-2 as a starter, with two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 92.1 QBR. DeVito has gone 2-1 as a starter, with seven touchdowns, three interceptions, and a 92.4 QBR.

With the schedule softening, the Giants improved their overall record from the 1-5 start to 4-8, with two games they should have also won against the Bills and Jets. Shockingly, the Giants were “this close” to being 6-6. Nevertheless, a 30-6 loss to the Raiders and 49-17 loss to the Cowboys were still rude doses of reality. Aside from a 24-point offensive “explosion” against the Commanders, the Giants are still struggling to score more than a touchdown per game.

THE NEVER-ENDING DEBATE

In the 28 years of this website, no subject has been debated more than Daniel Jones. When you consider the individual teams and personalities associated with this franchise since 1995, that’s quite an accomplishment. There are those who made up their mind on Daniel Jones from the moment he was drafted and will never like him. There are those who will make every excuse in the book for why he hasn’t been more than a losing quarterback. And there are those who hope for the best, root for the guy, but are still waiting for him to deliver the goods. Many remain on the fence, but after five years, their patience is running out.

“We’ve done everything possible to screw this kid up since he’s been here.” Let’s call this the John Mara defense. It is without question that the New York Giants have been a mess since Daniel Jones was drafted in April 2019. Since that time, they’ve changed general managers twice, head coaches three times, and offensive coordinators four times. Jones has never enjoyed even an average offensive line, having been sacked an astounding 179 times. He’s had starting receivers who were barely worthy of being practice squad-caliber. Jones hasn’t benefitted from being on a team with strong defensive or special teams units either, compounding the pressure placed on talent-deficient offenses. Jones proved in the Minnesota playoff game and others that he can get the job done when provided with enough support. Don’t just look at what he brings to the field as a passer, but also as a runner. Jones has the right “Eli Manning” personality for the city.

“He just stinks.” Let’s call this the Go Terps critique. It’s been five years. If you are still trying to decide if your quarterback is good after 61 starts, then he’s not. Jones is 23-37-1 (regular and post-season). Since his rookie season when he threw 24 touchdown passes, he has thrown just 38 touchdown passes in four seasons (less than 10 per year). He does not elevate the team around him. He has no special traits. Jones was at his best when running a remedial offense in 2022, but teams who are disciplined enough to guard against the backside quarterback run have shut that down and Jones has been unable to adapt. He doesn’t challenge defenses enough vertically down the field. He’s at his best when running, but now he is now coming off two neck injuries and an ACL. Three of his five seasons have just been awful. Perhaps most damning of all, there was no noticeable difference in the offense when Taylor and DeVito played, providing a direct, in-season comparison.

HINDSIGHT

Barring some miraculous Daniel Jones renaissance in 2024, it’s clear the team screwed up in offering Jones the 4-year, $160 million deal. “But, but, but…” No buts. Don’t give me this “it’s only a 2-year deal” crap. It’s not. It gets easier to cut him after two years but we’re still talking about $22 million in dead cap space in 2025. It would have been better to franchise him for 1-year, $30 million and re-visit the contract this offseason. The situation with Barkley? You either give him what he wanted or let him test free agency. You can’t let Barkley force your hand with Jones.

The issue here is Daniel Jones was not some unknown commodity to Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll. They had Jones up close and personal for more than a year before they signed him to the new deal. They should have known his strengths and limitations, especially given the way they constantly had to fiddle with the offensive schemes in 2022. The offense the Giants ran at the end of that season was not the one they intended to operate in September.

There are a number of possibilities here, but none of them are a good look for the team. Schoen and Daboll could have decided, based on the way Jones played in the simplified scheme, he could handle more responsibility and complexity in 2023. They may have felt if teams wanted to take away the RPO, Jones can be just as effective as a drop back passer. Did they overrate the Minnesota playoff game while underrating the Philadelphia playoff game? Some claim it’s “conspiracy theory’ but it is not out of the question that ownership exerted pressure to keep Jones. They love the kid.

TRIPLING DOWN ON JONES?

Entering his sixth year with the team, the endless debate continues. The ACL should take 8-10 months to recover from, meaning Jones would be cleared for contact sometime in July, August, or September 2024. Some players recover sooner, some take longer. No one can claim that timeline is ideal. Jones will likely miss OTAs and mini-camps. He may start training camp on the PUP and miss most or all of the summer practices and preseason. Even Schoen publicly admits Jones may not be able to play early in the regular season.

Daniel Jones, New York Giants (August 11, 2022)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

Relatedly, Jones’ injury history is worrisome. In his five seasons, he has only been able to stay healthy once. He has suffered two neck injuries, one serious enough to end his season. He has now suffered a serious knee tear, with the team refusing to state whether or not it is more involved than just the ACL. “I’m not getting into specifics of the surgery,” said Schoen when asked. None of this is good for a quarterback who is at his best when running the football. Washington’s Robert Griffin III, another running quarterback, was never the same after his tore his ACL.

Beyond the injuries, is he good enough? Is he the guy you envision going into Philadelphia on Sunday night and outshining Jalen Hurts? Can he beat Pat Mahomes in a Super Bowl and hoist the Lombardi Trophy? With the game on the line, with everything at stake, will he raise the play of those around him and get the job done?

Lurking in the background is the opportunity to simply move on. The Giants are likely to be picking in the top 10 once again, perhaps in the top 5, in a draft with at least three possible franchise quarterbacks. The Giants also have an extra 2nd-round pick if they choose to move up in either the top or bottom of the 1st round.

So do the Giants triple down on Jones? They drafted him. They re-signed him. Do they pass on the franchise quarterback and stick with him for yet another go around? It’s not hyperbole to state that the fate of the franchise for the next five years hangs in the balance.

SCHOEN’S PRESS CONFERENCE

Predictably, the press conference did not provide conclusive evidence of the team’s thinking. Schoen was never going to throw Jones under the bus. And he obviously chose his words carefully. Most likely, fans heard what they wanted to hear. However, there was enough to make both sides be happy or worry.

Evidence they are sticking with Jones: “The expectation is when Daniel’s healthy that he will be our starting quarterback… that’s the expectation moving forward… The quarterback position is important, but it’s ultimately a team game and it’s not all on Daniel by any means.”

Evidence they may be moving on: “It doesn’t (mean we won’t draft a quarterback). I think we’re going to have to do something on the quarterback, whether it’s free agency or the Draft… We’re still going to have to address the position at some point because there’s no guarantee he’s going to be back Week 1.”

The most notable and possibly troublesome quotes (depending on your view of Jones) were these:

If the team would use a #1 pick on quarterback: “We’ll take the best player available. If the best player available for our team is at a certain position, we’ll take it. I mean, we won’t shy away from it.”

If the team still believes in Jones: “I mean, I’ve seen it. You guys all saw last season. The guy won 10 games. He won a road playoff game for the Giants. You guys saw the preseason. I just think we got punched in the nose early on and we dug ourselves a hole and we weren’t able to get out of it. We’re trying to right now, but we still believe in Daniel and the person… Who can we bring in that can maybe help us win a couple of games while Daniel gets healthy, or maybe Daniel will be ready Week 1.”

On one hand, it seems pretty clear Schoen is saying that Jones is still their guy. On the other hand, no team would even consider drafting a quarterback in the first round if they are happy with their starter and that guy is still in his prime. And the general manager did not close the door on that possibility. One can argue that Schoen is simply providing the usual best-player-available talking point and we should not read too much into it? Perhaps. At the same time, do you expect a team in the Giants situation to state before the draft that they are moving on from their starter and are definitely in the market for a quarterback in the first round? I don’t. That is not only an unnecessary insult to Jones at this time, but it doesn’t help the team hide their intentions. Furthermore, the team’s “intention” to have Jones start the 2024 season does not necessarily mean they won’t draft his replacement. Kurt Warner went 5-4 for the Giants before Eli Manning finished 2004 by going 1-6.

Would Schoen parse his words like a lawyer? I don’t know. As I said, fans will read into the press conference what they want to read. Only time will tell.

WRAPPING THIS UP… THE RISK

Did you make it this far? Thanks for sticking with me.

Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll are fools if they don’t recognize the risk here. John Mara will react to empty seats. He did so in 2016, 2018, 2020, and 2022. When fans stop showing up, he starts firing people. He’s done it over and over again. Those claiming otherwise are not living in the real world. Twelve years of mostly shitty football has taken its toll on this fanbase. America of the 2020’s is not America of the 1960’s-1970’s. Demographics, entertainment options, attention spans, and patience levels are vastly different. I think I have a a decent feel for the pulse of the fanbase. They are tired. This isn’t fun anymore. It’s one thing to lose for a decade, but it’s another to constantly get embarrassed, especially by the Cowboys and Eagles.

Daniel Jones, New York Giants (December 18, 2022)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

I made this claim in The Forum and I’ll make it again here, I’m not sure the fanbase will accept heading into 2024 with Daniel Jones as the projected year-long starter at quarterback. If the team somehow starts off 3-1, opinions and support levels can change rapidly, but the odds on that happening are not great. It’s far more likely that the League schedules a Giants-Cowboys Sunday or Monday night game to start the season, with a rusty Jones getting shellacked 35-10. You could see the bottom drop out in Week 1 or 2. And would anyone be shocked to hear these words in Week 6? “Daniel Jones is questionable to return with a neck injury.”

Whether they know it or not, Schoen and Daboll will be on thin ice in 2024. Unless something strange happens to all three teams, the Eagles and Cowboys will still be vastly superior to the Giants next year. I’m not sure Schoen and Daboll can survive another 5-12 type season with no hope at quarterback. The stands will be empty. On the other hand, some young exciting player at the position buys them time because the fans have hope. They will come out to watch a losing product if they have hope in the future and there is someone entertaining to watch, be that Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, or Jayden Daniels.

There is also the possibility the team trades up into the late first round, and take one of the lesser regarded prospects. Jones then serves as the bridge quarterback until this guy is ready. The risk there is this, do the Giants want to look back on 2024 as they year they passed up on Williams, May, or Daniels for someone like Bo Nix, J.J. McCarthy, or Michael Penix?

So do Schoen and Daboll want to continue to tie their fate to Jones? There is no guarantee that even if the Giants fix the offensive line and add more weapons that Jones will win. His injury history suggests he will have trouble even finishing the season healthy. But won’t Schoen and Daboll also be tying their fate to the new quarterback? Yes. But maybe they would feel better sinking or swimming with the guy they drafted, who isn’t already damaged goods.

Meanwhile, there are those still clinging to the belief that Jones’ injuries won’t be an issue. That if you just give him an offensive line and a #1 receiver, everything will be fine and Jones can lead the Giants past the Eagles and Cowboys. Jones will triple his TD throw average of the past four years. It’s not impossible. It would be a really nice story for the young man. But it’s starting to sound more like a prayer than accepting reality at this point.

If ownership did not have any deciding role in retaining Daniel Jones, they should be asking uncomfortable questions as to why they were asked to write a $160 million check for someone who the team is already possibly seeking to replace. On the other hand, if ownership did have a role in bringing back Jones because of some emotional connection, this is further evidence they should keep out of personnel matters. This is a time for tough decisions, not misplaced loyalty.

Your move Joe and Brian.

Nov 282023
 
Jalin Hyatt, New York Giants (November 26, 2023)

Jalin Hyatt – © USA TODAY Sports

QUARTERBACK

-Tommy DeVito: 17/25 – 191 yards / 1 TD – 0 INT / 103.9 RAT

Add another level to DeVito’s ascending performances this season. Add another level to DeVito’s comfort and responsibility within this offense. And add another level of trust that DeVito has earned in the eyes of both coaches and fans. The fun ride continues and it feels like he (and the team) have found the exit inside a dark tunnel. That light is still far away but it has at least been located and the team is inching toward it. Without getting too ahead of ourselves, I just want to break down a few elements of his game that credibly mean something. One, his ability and confidence to progress through reads as he reads the coverage. His internal clock is improving with each week. Two, his release and accuracy on downfield passing are notable. He is comfortable and confident as he throws the deep ball. He hit Jalin Hyatt near the sideline for gains of 41, 29, and 22 yards. Zero hesitation, pinpoint placement, and repeatability. And last, footwork and ball fakes. DeVito’s mechanics for the position look outstanding. It does not mean everything, but it means something. Everything he is doing right now looks clean. An undrafted rookie who looks like this on a team that has been losing like this? Hard to remember seeing anything that resembles what he is doing in the league.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 12 att – 46 yards / 1 rec – 6 yards

40 of Barkley’s yards came in the first half on 8 carries. Two of those runs came in the first quarter that gained 33 yards. Overall, it was a quiet game for him with a congested point-of-attack and inconsistent run blocking inside. The big runs were to the right side where the crease was big enough and there long enough for him to burst through. Barkley had two negatives on the day – an allowed sack and a drop. Those show up too often.

-Matt Breida added 6 yards on 2 carries and a 10-yard gain in the passing game. He was on the field for just 10 snaps.

WIDE RECEIVER

-One of the best traits DeVito has shown is the ability to spread the ball out to his pass catchers. He knows what his guys are good at, and he knows where to use them the most. Enter Jalin Hyatt. A career-game for the rookie who has been frustrating to watch for no reason other than lack of usage. He caught 5 passes for 109 yards. Three of them were explosive plays (20+ yards) and all three were high-level plays. I have been saying it since the beginning of the season, Hyatt has a few special traits that are hard to find together. We can see the speed and acceleration. But the plays on the ball he made near the boundary with the combination of coordination and footwork can make him a lethal weapon. And I mean, absolutely lethal. The move he put on J.C. Jackson after the catch was not something I expected to see either, as the short area change of direction and hip fluidity were a bit of an unknown with the ball in his hands.

-Wan’Dale Robinson was used underneath over and over, totaling 26 yards on 4 catches with one drop. The average depth of target was just 2.8 yards. That will often be the case. His usage (and frame) are similar to Zay Flowers from Baltimore (Flowers is a tier or two higher with what he can do downfield) in that you will often see games like this, an average-per-catch that looks like what you see out of a running back who had a good game on the ground. The explosive plays will come, though. Just wait.

-Isaiah Hodgins scored the lone touchdown of the game for NYG on a 12-yard pitch and catch where he used his pure strength on a stiff arm to finish off the play into the end zone. Sterling Shepard had a catch for 6 yards and a drop, and Parris Campbell caught one ball that resulted in a 2-yard loss.

TIGHT END

-Daniel Bellinger played the majority of the snaps with Lawrence Cager occasionally showing up on the field. Mike Kafka used 11 personnel for most of the game. Bellinger caught his one target for 8 yards and performed as usual in blocking roles. He was solid in the trenches, but he struggled to get across the face of his man when he needed to cut off the backside. It caused a TFL on one play and a stop at the line of scrimmage on another.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Left tackle Andrew Thomas is human after all. He allowed 1.5 sacks on plays where he lost the initial angle and was unable to recover. He usually shows enough lower body adjustment to put himself back into the right position to make a save, but it appears his anchor is not 100%. Even though it was not his best day, those truly were his only losses of the day.

-Tyre Phillips and Ben Bredeson were the ones who paved the way on the best running gains we saw on the afternoon. Bredeson also did a fine job as a pass blocker, albeit against a low-level group of interior pass rushers. This is where Phillips struggled. He allowed 1.5 sacks and 3 hurries. His lockout game is a difference maker as a run blocker because of his length and heaviness. But in pass protection, where swifter footwork is necessary and the ability to react is more important, this is where he struggles. He did receive help from the tight end on occasion and it made a big difference. Considering Bellinger is not much of a threat in the passing game, I do feel that this is a better role for him. Help out then run a short-delayed route for dump-offs.

-Rookie center John Michael Schmitz allowed a pressure and a TFL. I am seeing a repeated problem with his outside zone blocking. He gives a bit too much ground (in an effort to get more downhill momentum) but the guy he is assigned to beats him to the spot and out-leverages him, creating more lost ground. Combine the two and the running back is multiple yards behind the line of scrimmage when he has to make his first adjustment. Schmitz gets the job done when he does not need to move far from the starting point, but he continues to struggle when he gets further away from it.

-Justin Pugh allowed 2 pressures and a TFL as well. He was the one getting pushed around when NYG tried to run left and did not have success. He is the one getting displaced and even though he can recover well, the point still remains. He is not getting enough movement at the point-of-attack.

EDGE

-As I have said in previous reviews, there are always things to keep an eye on when it comes to the team and future. This was the first game Kayvon Thibodeaux has been on the field without Dexter Lawrence. Leonard Williams was traded weeks ago. So how did Thibodeaux respond to being the one guy on this front who needed to be schemed against? He finished with 5 tackles, 2 TFL, a half-sack, and a forced fumble. I thought it was some of the best run defense we have seen out of him and the reaction speed to screens (which NE ran a ton of) was excellent. Combine that with what I read about his preparation + leadership shown during the week, and I would say that is nearly as good as you can expect for Thibodeaux without Lawrence on the field.

-Jihad Ward and Azeez Ojulari essentially split reps. While they don’t exactly play the same role and alignments, Ward was on the field for 40 snaps, Ojulari 38. Ward is the one who played the better of the two and it was by a sizable margin. He finished with 5 tackles and 1.5 sacks. One of those came on a 3rd down in the fourth quarter, a big play in a big moment. It is the first time Ward has had more than 1 sack in a game over his 8-year career. Ojulari had a QB hit early on, but was shut down the rest of the game again.

-Benton Whitley, just recently signed off the Vikings practice squad, played three snaps and made an impressive play on a pass break up. He’s bounced around a few different practice squads since 2021. He is a heavy-handed, vertical threat with the straight-line burst to put some pressure on a tackle. He will also factor on special teams.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-A’Shawn Robinson and Rakeem Nunez-Roches were the starting interior defenders with Dexter Lawrence sitting out with a hamstring injury. Nothing against these two but what a difference it was to not have #97 in there. Robinson can hold his own and he plays an active game. He finished with 5 tackles and Nunez-Roches added one pressure.

-D.J. Davidson and Jordon Riley rotated in, and while they struggled to get off blocks in the passing game, I thought their stoutness against the run was solid. Where they currently struggle is shedding the blocks and making plays on the ball carrier. Riley missed two tackles.

LINEBACKER

-Bobby Okereke had another high-impact game. He had 8 tackles and added 3 pressures. He missed a tackle on a play that would have resulted in a sack. Mac Jones threw an interception right to him. He took possession of the ball inside the red zone and returned it 55 yards giving NYG the ball on the NE 26-yard line. This is the drive they ended up scoring the lone touchdown, further strengthening how big of a play it was.

-Micah McFadden added 6 tackles (with one miss), including one TFL on a play where he read the screen in a blink of an eye and broke on the receiver instantly.

-Isaiah Simmons had 2 tackles and a miss on a third down that resulted in a first down. His untouched pressure led to the Okereke interception. When McFadden missed a few snaps with a hand injury suffered by friendly fire, Simmons played the inside linebacker role. I noticed there and other alignments as well that he is simply late. That is the way to describe his game. Big-time athlete who can do a lot – but he is almost always late. Late to recognize, late to see, late to react.

CORNERBACK

-Adoree’ Jackson returned and remained outside with Deonte Banks on the other side and Cor’Dale Flott in the slot. I’ve always felt this has needed to be their trio of starters at the position. Jackson did miss two tackles, but he was steady in downfield coverage. Banks intercepted a pass in the first quarter near the sideline. Nice catch, good awareness and read. Banks has cleaned up some of his footwork in zone coverage and it is encouraging to see him advance throughout his rookie year. He had to offer a public apology for, you guessed it, a social media mistake. That really isn’t worth addressing here but I am glad he came out and played a solid game with a big play in a defensive battle. Banks does need to shore up some of his run-defense habits. They are borderline atrocious.

SAFETY

-Xavier McKinney is on a hot streak and it hit the climax on one of the better interceptions you are going to see a safety make in this league. It was a thing of beauty – the way he tricked Mac Jones into thinking he was dropping deep, knowing the route concept, breaking back down at the exact right moment so Jones had no idea, and then finishing the play off by coming down with the ball. Oh, and he led the team with 10 tackles and broke up another pass. While he was not perfect in coverage, he kept things in front of him and showed a good feel for what the Patriots were doing.

-Jason Pinnock played all 68 snaps and added 6 tackles, 1 of which went for a loss. With the number of screens and quick passes New England used, Pinnock did a nice job of getting to the action and disrupting. That quick trigger means a lot for this defense and even though he finds himself on the wrong side of blocks at times, he is getting the job done.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Randy Bullock: 1/1 (Made 42)
-P Jamie Gillan: 8 Punts / 45.4 avg – 40.3 net

3 STUDS

-S Xavier McKinney, EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, WR Jalin Hyatt

3 DUDS

-OT Tyre Phillips, EDGE Azeez Ojulari, RB Saquon Barkley

3 THOUGHTS ON NE

(1) Mac Jones is up there with the worst starting quarterbacks in the league. While the situation around him leaves much to be desired, it is hard to see where the future is. From my summary in 2021: “The upside is where I lose it a bit with him. He will be solid, but I don’t ever see him being great”. Remember this was after an all-time season with Alabama and there were rumors San Francisco was going to take him #3 overall (they opted for Trey Lance). He’s been yanked multiple times, he has gone backwards after a solid rookie season, and there simply isn’t anything to his game that stands out in a league where you need to have a trait or two that stand out.

(2) There is smoke surrounding Head Coach Bill Belichick. He’s been there since 2000 (the year Kerry Collins led NYG to the Super Bowl, Ron Dayne’s rookie season). He is 264-117 as the Head Coach for NE and he’s won 6 Super Bowls and 9 AFC Championships. But this team has gone 27-34 since Tom Brady left town. He has made several odd, head-scratching decisions involving the offense,  including operating without a true offensive coordinator in 2022, cutting Bailey Zappe in the preseason, and playing games with Jones’ status as the starter. Add in some odd draft decisions on that side of the ball that would have been harshly lambasted in any other city and it appears to be time. Would that be the end? Or does the 71-year old get another crack with a win-now team? Looking at you, Chargers.

(3) There is a good chance New England winds up with the first or second pick of the draft. Because they currently have no hope at quarterback and a pretty awful roster (especially on offense), one has to think they will press the restart button and draft one of the top 3 quarterbacks: Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, or Jayden Daniels. Does Robert Kraft bring back someone he loves in Josh McDaniels (for a third time)? Or does he go after the hottest name in the league in Bobby Johnson from Detroit? NYG fans should want that because you don’t want him calling the shots in Washington.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

(1) The Giants head to their bye week with a 4-8 record (somewhat still in playoff contention by the way) before the final five games on the schedule. They have two matchups against the Eagles and three games against 5-6 teams (Packers, Saints, Rams). Three of the five are at home. Take away your desire for a high draft pick for a moment. What do you want to see out of this team? What can they use over those five games to help build the future? First of all, it is DeVito or bust the rest of the way. Each game that comes is another opportunity to answer a key question for the 2024 season. Who is the backup quarterback moving forward? Tyrod Taylor can come back to be second string, a nice security blanket. But DeVito has played better. He simply presents more upside and carries some unknowns with him. We know what Taylor is. That is the component that needs to be figured out.

(2) I’m not sure if “turnaround” is the right word for where the Giants are right now since their November 12th 49-17 loss in Dallas. But they have won two in a row and are +13 in turnover margin since week five. By the way, that ranks NUMBER ONE in the NFL. It is the BIGGEST margin of any 8-game span in the league all year. Yes, since October 8, NYG leads the NFL in turnover margin, one of the most sure-fire stats to impact wins and losses. Criticize the coaching staff all you want, but the truth is, they have steadied the ship. On both sides of the ball.

(3) The offensive line cannot be considered a strength, but like the team overall, it has become a reliable-at-times unit. Andrew Thomas being on the field means a ton. It cannot be understated. But watching them on tape, the unit simply looks cleaner. The first half of the season was full of defenders getting free runs to the backfield. We had blockers running into each other. And we had whiff after whiff. It is clear NYG will need to add a body or two in the offseason, that fact will not change. But can any of these guys be brought back to provide depth? Possibly even a starter spot? Chemistry means a lot and we cannot just assume they can fill these spots with a rookie or journeyman free agent. I do not believe spending big will be in their budget plans.

Nov 272023
 
John Mara, Joe Schoen, and Brian Daboll; New York Giants (November 26, 2023)

John Mara, Joe Schoen, and Brian Daboll – © USA TODAY Sports

NOVEMBER 27, 2023 JOE SCHOEN PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants General Manager Joe Schoen addressed the media on Monday (VIDEO):

Good morning, everybody. Hope everybody had a good Thanksgiving. We decided to do this on Monday as well so you guys could enjoy the bye week as well.

So, obviously, not where we want to be right now at 4-8, but I am proud of the guys and the way they’ve continued to battle and compete over the last few weeks. When things are bad, they can go one of two ways, and I’m really proud of the way the guys have continued to come in and compete. We’ve seen some progress over the last couple weeks and the results to show. We’ve got five games left against NFC teams, against four different teams, and we’re not out of it.

With that being said, I know you guys are going to have some questions in terms of upcoming free agents. I’m not going to talk about any of those guys today. That’ll be postseason conversations, whether it’s (running back) Saquon (Barkley), (safety) Xavier (McKinney), all of the guys that are UFAs. We’ll leave that for after the season, those conversations.

Then, with (quarterback) Daniel (Jones), he’s five days off of surgery. He’s in there rehabbing right now. He’s going to attack it. You guys all know Daniel and his work ethic; probably a guy we’re going to have to pull back. But the expectation is when Daniel’s healthy that he will be our starting quarterback. Again, we don’t have a crystal ball in terms of how the rehab’s going to go; different patients respond differently to these surgeries, and then whether there’s going to be swelling in the knee or any setbacks. Nobody has a crystal ball on this, but that’s the expectation moving forward.

With that, I’ll open it up to any questions you guys may have.

Q: You said this obviously is not where you want to be, but when you look at it, what are the biggest factors that have led this season to kind of go in this direction?

A: I would think early on, we had a difficult schedule right off the bat. Three games in 11 days, and two of those teams being atop of the NFC right now, or near the top of the NFC. We started off, very good drive against Dallas there to open the season, we get a false start, a bad snap, a blocked field goal for a touchdown, and it kind of snowballed from there.

Don’t want to make any excuses. We’ve had some injuries. We’ve just got to continue to build the depth and we’ve got to continue to build the team all around so when injuries do occur, we can overcome those and still be competitive when injuries happen. It’s going to happen every year. It happens. It’s football; it’s a contact sport. There’s going to be injuries, and we’ve got to be able to overcome any type of adversity that presents itself.

Q: When you say Daniel will be your starter, does that mean you won’t draft a quarterback next year?

A: No, it doesn’t. I think we’re going to have to do something on the quarterback, whether it’s free agency or the Draft. I mean, just where we are, (quarterback) Tyrod (Taylor)’s contract is up,

(quarterback Tommy) DeVito is obviously under contract, and Daniel, we don’t know when he’s going to be ready. So, just from an offseason program standpoint, I think that’ll be a position that we’ll have to look at. There’re different avenues – free agency or the Draft – but we’ll have to address it at some point.

Q: When you look back, and I know hindsight is 20-20, do you feel the way you constructed the roster benefited the team with depth? I know you went heavy on receivers, maybe a little light on outside linebackers – it could have been because the guys that you wanted weren’t there – but when you look back on that, do you have any regrets on how the roster was constructed?

A: That’s a great question. You’re only afforded so many resources to build the roster. We’ve been here for, I think it’s 22 months and a day. So, you have to decide how you’re going to build it as you build it with the big picture in mind. You can’t do it overnight. What does it cost to go get more pass rushers, financially or draft capital, based on all the needs that you have, and where you are financially or in the Draft?

So, no regrets. Again, we’ll continue to evaluate our process. Were there other players available, other players you could have taken, did you miss on something? We’ll evaluate the entire process at the end of the season, but you can’t do it overnight. Instead of getting a (inside linebacker) Bobby O(kereke), who has been a very good player for us that we brought in in the offseason, do you use that money elsewhere in terms of allocation of resources? I like a lot of the guys that we brought in in the offseason, and we knew this wasn’t going to happen overnight, and it takes time to build it the right way.

Q: Regarding injuries, you mentioned that’s been a problem. I know you guys looked at that in the offseason. What takeaways did you have, are there still things that you can do, and have you identified things that maybe you can do? It might be too late now, but have you kind of said, ‘Hey, we’ve got to change this up for next year?’

A: We’re going to continue to evaluate that. I wish it was one specific injury. It just hasn’t been a consistent. If you could look and say, ‘Man, we have seven guys that have the same injury,’ you could really do a deep dive on what do we need to do to improve what we’re doing in that area, but there hasn’t been a consistent, other than we’ve been injured often. I have a lot of confidence in our training staff and (Head Athletic Trainer) Ronnie Barnes and our strength staff with (Director of Strength and Conditioning Craig) Fitz(gerald).

We’re going to continue to look under every rock for any competitive advantage we can get from sports science, training, strength and conditioning, whatever it may be because it is, it’s hard to go in and compete week in and week out if you don’t have your best players. One of the guys was telling me the other day, going into the season, if you told me (tight end Darren) Waller, (tackle) Andrew Thomas, Saquon and Daniel would play less than 40 plays together, I wouldn’t have been real excited about that, and that’s the reality of how it played out.

Q: What is your evaluation of one, (tackle) Evan Neal, and two, Tommy DeVito?

A: I’ll start with Tommy. Tommy has done a good job as an undrafted free agent. He’s come a long way since he arrived here in May as an undrafted guy. That’s a testament to his work ethic and buying into to the process and (Quarterbacks Coach) Shea (Tierney) and (Offensive Coordinator Mike) Kafka and what they’re teaching him. He’s taken care of the football the last couple of weeks, and he’s done a good job. He’s got some swagger and some presence about him that the players like and they follow him.

Evan got off to a really good camp, had a concussion, missed a couple of weeks, came back, and needs to play better. Evan needs to play better. He knows that. Look forward to getting him back here when he’s healthy, but I think he’d admit there’s some things that he can do better, and we look forward to him continuing to improve.

Q: A couple of things on Daniel: how do you assess how he played at the start of the season, those first five starts, and is there a worry that he has not been able to stay healthy? He’s had some major injuries, obviously. Moving forward with him, how much of an issue is that?

A: Any of these guys coming off the knees, it takes them time. (Wide receiver) Wan’Dale (Robinson), (defensive lineman) D.J. Davidson, (inside linebacker Darrian) Beavers, some of the guys that had them last year for us, it does take time to come back from that injury. Some are able to respond quicker than others; it depends on the patient.

Daniel, early on, again, we got off to that rough start. We had three games in 11 days, there were some injuries after Week 2. On a short week, you’re going to play San Francisco without your starting left tackle, starting guard and Saquon. I mean, that’s a tough task for anybody. You guys have probably seen San Francisco enough this season to know that’s a really good defense. I think does Daniel wish he could have some throws back or some games back or do some things differently? Probably, but it’s a team game. There’s 11 guys out there and everybody’s got to be on the same page and do their job. So, we’ve got to continue to build the team. The quarterback position is important, but it’s ultimately a team game and it’s not all on Daniel by any means.

Q: With Daniel, how realistic do you think it is for him to be back for training camp and for the season, and also, was it just the ACL? Was there anything else that went along with that?

A: I’m not getting into specifics of the surgery. It went well, and then the recovery, like I said, it depends. I’ve seen guys come back in eight months; I’ve seen guys—we’ve got some that still aren’t back that had them a year ago. We’re probably going have to pull this kid back. He’s a hard worker. He’s already in there. I saw him walking across the parking lot this morning holding his crutches in his hands rather than using them. That’s the type of kid he is. He’s going to work very hard. We’ve just got to protect him from himself and make sure he’s doing things the right way and not overtraining. It’s really hard to say, to be honest with you, being in this for as long as I’ve been in it.

Q: How do you plan for it then, not knowing?

A: Kind of what I said earlier. We’re still going to have to address the position at some point because there’s no guarantee he’s going to be back Week 1, and Tyrod, his contract’s up. So, we’ve got to figure out—those will be offseason decisions. As we go through the offseason, we’ll have a little bit better idea of his return to play as he continues the rehab.

Q: There’s addressing the position and there’s using a possible first-round pick on that position. Where are you on that spectrum? If there’s a player that you like there that’s a quarterback in the first round, would you make that choice?

A: We’ll take the best player available. If the best player available for our team is at a certain position, we’ll take it. I mean, we won’t shy away from it. That’s a ways away; the Draft is in April. So, we’re still working through all that and the offseason progress. We have to come up with a plan, like I said, just for the offseason right now. Tommy’s the only one – I almost said Danny DeVito – that’s under under contract. So, we’ll look at all different avenues there.

Q: Why do you still believe in Daniel? How would you answer that?

A: I mean, I’ve seen it. You guys all saw last season. The guy won 10 games. He won a road playoff game for the Giants. You guys saw the preseason. I just think we got punched in the nose early on and we dug ourselves a hole and we weren’t able to get out of it. We’re trying to right now, but we still believe in Daniel and the person.

Q: When you look at your evaluation process, you have your plan, you guys set your plan up in college scouting, when you look through the season and the games you’re going to go to on the weekend. When things happen with the current roster, does that change your process at all? Where you may go, what prospects you may scout, or do you kind of stick to your plan throughout and then assess after the season?

A: You have to be able to adjust. That’s not necessarily our roster. It may be, ‘Hey, this kid at school X, we had really low and he’s playing really well,’ or, ‘This kid was a sophomore, and now he’s a junior, we didn’t know about him, and now, he may come out for the Draft, agents are saying he’s going to come out.’ So, you always have flexibility in your schedule.

I typically make my schedule in August based around where we may play geographically, where it’s easy to get me back up with the team. So, you kind of have an initial top 100, how many of those can you go see, and my staff does a very good job. They kind of give me a 20 must-see, 25 must-see, and I try to see those schools. Starting in August, I’ll map it out.

Q: How much work have you done on the top quarterbacks in this class?

A: I’ve done a lot of work on the entire draft. I’m further ahead this year than last year. Last year kind of being the first in-season as general manager, different schedule than what I’ve had in the past as an assistant GM or director of player personnel. So, I tweaked my process a little bit this year so I can stay up on all positions.

Q: How do you look at Saquon’s season both pre-injury and still being your most productive offensive player? There were some national reports that you still see him as part of your future. Can you address that?

A: Like I said, the UFAs, we’ll talk about after the season. We tried long and hard to get something done with him, and we’ll see what happens in the offseason.

Saquon, I mean, he’s a captain. He comes to work every day. I know there were some questions a couple of weeks ago about still coming to work and the longevity and the tread on the tires and all that stuff. He comes to work every day. He does everything we ask. He’s a great teammate. He’s a captain. Big reason, as you’re going through adversity, I think he’s a big part of keeping the locker room together. I respect Saquon a lot and the way he’s handled himself through this entire process, and I have a lot of respect for Saquon.

Q. Why did you make the (defensive lineman) Leonard Williams trade when you did? Obviously, the deadline, but why did you make it then?

A: Yeah, I think the draft compensation. When Seattle called and offered a second-round pick for a 29-year-old player that was on an expiring contract, we had nine games left. It just made the most sense long-term, in terms of the build.

Q. I just wanted to follow up on Evan Neal, you said he needs to play better, but are you at a point at the end of his second year where you need to think about whether he’s a tackle or he’s a guard?

A: No, I don’t think so. I went back and watched the Alabama stuff; the kid can play. We just got to get him to be more consistent. Like I’ve got a lot of confidence in Evan, he’s a hard worker, it’s killing him right now to be out there. He’s missing some valuable reps in year two, but as soon as he’s healthy, he’s scratching and clawing to get back. We are looking forward to getting him back there, but he knows there is some things he can do better and that’s what we expect from him.

Q. Why did you Saquon unavailable at the trade deadline? Seems kind of a counter to how you operate.

A: Why didn’t I make Saquon? I wasn’t going to move him. We had a conversation about it, it wasn’t even a – I think some of you guys asked a question about that maybe a couple weeks before the trade deadline or the week of and just to eliminate distraction. I think we just said he’s one of our most productive offensive players right now. To move that guy, it just didn’t make any sense and we didn’t take any calls or receive any calls on him.

Q. Where do you think the construction of the offensive line went wrong this year?

A: Andrew Thomas getting hurt the first series of the game of the season. That doesn’t help when you lose an All-Pro left tackle. I think through 11 weeks, we had nine different starting o-line combinations, which is the second-most in 15 years. We have 21 different o-line combinations, which is the fourth-most in 15 years. So, we were down to our fifth and sixth offensive tackles. It’s hard to prepare for that when you have eight or nine on the roster. When you go to camp you are talking about your fifth and sixth offensive tackles being in the fourth quarter of the third preseason game, in reality that’s what you are talking about, so you know we won 10 games with the same offensive line last year, with the exception of (center) John Michael Schmitz (Jr.). We inserted him. (Nick) Gates went on to Washington. I know you had asked about him. And (offensive lineman Jon) Feliciano went on to San Francisco, so we ran it back with the same guys. We thought John Michael would be an upgrade in there, which he’s done a good job for us. And again, as you are building this, was it more weapons for Daniel, was it outside backers, was it corner? We are trying to build this thing, as much as we want instant gratification and instant results, there is an element of patience as you build it and try to build it the right way and you just can’t address everything overnight, and we are going to continue to work on it and I do believe in building it up front and offensive line is important. Probably didn’t play as well as we needed to early on and it’s not all on the offensive line, sometimes it’s 11 guys on the same page, receiver doesn’t run the right route, the quarterback doesn’t get the read or doesn’t pull the trigger. I mean there is several different reasons and then the continuity amongst those five is very important. Whether you’re passing off stunts in games, the communication up there and when it’s a revolving door, it’s hard for the continuity and those guys to gel consistently. I know that’s a long-winded answer, but there is various reasons to some of the issues upfront that we have seen this year, but we’ll continue to address it.

Q. Given the lack of continuity at the line and injuries and stuff, how do you evaluate that and decide what you want to do with it moving forward?

A: Yeah, we have some guys that are up this year, that have started some games for us. Those will be postseason conversations on where we need to address, who do we want to bring back, what does it look like if we do bring some of those guys back and then the landscape of free agency and the draft, so those will be postseason conversations.

Q. How much would you say your voice is heard in terms of the depth chart and who plays and I’m asking that because there is theory out there that (running back) Eric Gray was kind of forced into the punt returner job because the front office used a draft pick on him and didn’t want to see him wasted.

A: I understand where you are going with that. That’s on me. To be honest with you, that’s another – we tried to address the punt returner. We knew it was an issue. In the draft some of the guys we liked went probably higher than where we deemed you would take a guy. Eric had done it at Tennessee, and he had done it at Oklahoma and the coaches were comfortable, we were comfortable going into the regular season based off what we were seeing. I know (wide receiver Jamison) Crowder is having success in Washington, you bring him up – we kept seven receivers; we couldn’t keep eight. Do the math, who do you move on from, from the group if you kept Crowder? So, there was some moving parts in there and that’s me being candid with you and that’s on me, the returner. I’m glad we got (wide receiver) Gunner (Olszewski) here, though. He’s done a really good job for us. And Eric’s got a bright future and we probably put him in a spot that wasn’t most comfortable for him either, but he went out there, didn’t flinch an eye, didn’t bat an eye and did what he could, but again that’s on me, early on. We couldn’t do everything overnight and as much as we wanted to and that was a position we continued to look for and Pittsburgh let Gunner go and we were able to get him.

Q. Is there a part of you that’s – I know you are not focusing on unrestricted free agency yet, but the overall financial health of the team going into this offseason and what you can potentially accomplish in terms of talent infusion because of where you guys are with the books?

A: Yeah, for sure and I think free agency is hard. Obviously, I’d like to draft and develop and sign our own, which we did some of those guys that had been here in the offseason, retained some of the guys that were here previously and we got some good foundational pieces in some of the draft picks that are here, but to hit on a guy like Bobby O, who fits everything that we are talking about – smart, tough, dependable, and a good player. When you are divvying up those type of financial resources outside the building, you got to really make sure you are bringing in the right type of people as well. Their work ethic, the ability to learn the scheme. So, there is some risk in free agency, but we’ll do our homework, and we are in a relatively healthy cap situation, and we can move some things around if we need to open up more, but I think we’ll be judicious in our process in terms of the free agency market.

Q. Do you expect any changes to the coaching staff and what would your involvement be in any decision like that?

A: Yeah, those are all – I know you guys just asked Dabs (head coach Brian Daboll) about that, so those are all postseason conversations and I’ll lean on Dabs on that.

Q. Last year you won 10 games and made the playoffs, do you look at this team as that is what we are or is it more a 4-8 team is what you are right now?

A: Yeah, you are what your record says you are. We are 4-8 right now, unfortunately. There was some close games. Yeah, there were a couple games we wish we could have back recently, but we are 4-8 and we are having some adversity this year, but I’ve got a lot of confidence in the coaching staff. I think we have some young pieces on the roster to build around. I think we are the second youngest team in the league, so some guys are getting some valuable playing time. Again, it just takes time, it takes a couple off-seasons, it takes a few drafts to build it the right way. Trust me, it hurts when you lose and you’re 4-8 and it’s not fun, but you don’t want to lose sight of the big picture and the proper way to build the roster and that’s what we’ve got to stay focused on.

Q. That report said there was a chance (defensive coordinator Wink) Martindale might not finish the season with you guys. Is that something you have to look into? What’s your role in figuring out or getting to the bottom of it?

A: What was the report, I didn’t see – what was the report?

Q. You didn’t see the report?

A: That Wink’s not going to make it through the season?

Q. Jay Glazer from FOX reported that there is a chance that Martindale might not make it through the season and that he probably wouldn’t be back after the year. It was yesterday during FOX’s national broadcast.

A: I didn’t realize he said that he wasn’t going to make through the year. Yeah, I don’t know, I think Dabs just addressed that.

Q. Do you have a comment on it potentially?

A: Listen, there is always going to be noise. There is a lot of noise in this market. It is what it is. I know what we think inside those four walls and that’s what matters. I’ve got a great relationship with Wink, I don’t know where some of this stuff comes from. I’ll yield to Dabs on what he said on that.

Q. What have you seen from the relationship between Wink and Dabs?

A: In the twenty-two months we’ve been here, it hasn’t changed.

Q. You said that you had a lot of faith in the coaching staff, what are your thoughts on how Dabs has handled the adversity compared to last year? Must’ve been easy compared to coaching this year.

A: Yeah, it’s easy to lead when you’re winning and you’re out front and you’re running out front, it’s easy to lead. I think as we continue to build this, it’s year two, going through adversity, you find out a lot about people and it’s been challenging for everybody in the building, including myself and Dabs, and how you lead when things aren’t going well, I think, is important. And I think Dabs has done a good job. We are starting an undrafted free agent the last two games and we’ve won two games. It’s not easy to keep everybody together, but there is a lot of those guys in the locker room that are under contract for past this season and understand there is a – we are still in it, it’s 2023 and we’re focused on the Packers, but the big picture as well. To go up in front of that team when things aren’t going well or there’s injuries, or whatever it may be, it’s not easy or you trade a veteran player who is a leader in the locker room, that’s not easy. It’s not easy to do, so myself and Dabs as leaders within the organization are still learning as well, but through trying times I think we’ve found out a lot about the people in the building, the players on the roster and that’ll benefit us going forward.

Q: When Leonard talked in Seattle after the trade, he kind of made comments that when he met with you, the way he framed it, it was almost that you gave him a choice as to whether or not he’d be traded to Seattle. Is that how that played out? What was that conversation like?

A: I understand the question. I’ll keep our conversation between Leo and I. Paul (Schwartz), I think it was you that talked to (agent) Brandon Parker. I think he did a wonderful job articulating and mapping out exactly what happened. I’ve got a lot of respect for Leonard. Again, I’ll keep our conversation between us, and I think Brandon did a good job of walking through that process and how that went down.

Q: So, if Leonard said he didn’t want to go to Seattle, you wouldn’t have made that trade?

A: It’s a hypothetical. I’m not going to get into it.

Q: It’s just counterintuitive to how you really carried your first season, not in the relationship aspect of it, but the idea that the team came to you with a second-round pick. With a draft asset like that, the fact that you would put it in a player’s hand, at least that’s how it was portrayed through the agent and through the player.

A: Yeah, and that won’t happen for everybody. It was just Leo and where we were. These aren’t just—as much as you’d like it to be transactional and fantasy football, like, just drop a player, add a player, drop a player, add a player, there’s a human element to it, there’s a locker room element that you’ve got to think about, the ripple effect. Still a lot of games left, so, that was a very difficult decision on many fronts. Just as many pros as cons.

I’ll just keep Leo and I’s conversations between us, but that’s the human element of this job. What makes sense for this franchise moving forward versus relationships, locker room perception, you’ve got to take all that into account.

Q: Going back to something you said earlier about that you learn about people during adversity and whatnot, what have you learned about yourself and what do you feel you can do better moving forward as you approach these last few games and the upcoming offseason?

A: What have I learned about myself? You’ve got to have a good poker face, because as bad as it eats you up inside when things aren’t going well, people are looking to you for confidence and hope that things are going to get better. I know that because I’ve been on the other side of it. My second year in Buffalo, I think we actually were 6-10 and at this point in Buffalo, we had the exact same record that we have here.

You’re always looking to the leaders. Whether it’s my scouts, the coaches, the assistant coaches, that things are going to get better and they’re going to be okay. You’ve got to go through the building on a weekly basis and, ‘Listen, trust the process, trust the plan, we’re going to get this thing going.’ I’ve got a lot of talented people in the building, whether the personnel staff or the coaching staff. You’re going to go through adverse times in the NFL and you’ve got to understand that things are going to be better and trust the process and it takes time. I believe that the staff in there has stuck together and been strong and they understand where we’re going and what the big picture is, and that’s what I’m looking forward to.

Q: Specifically with the quarterback position, with Daniel, I imagine you know what you have in him. That you know what you believe his potential is or what you see, basically what you’ve evaluated him on the last couple of years and throughout his career before you came here. How do you balance the known with the possibility of acquiring an unknown with a different ceiling with something like that?

A: I’m trying to figure out—so, the known of Daniel? I would say—

Q: Like acquiring another player through the Draft or something like that when you don’t necessarily know what his ceiling is because he hasn’t played in the league.

A: There’s always risk. Look at the past however many years of top 10 quarterbacks. I just went through the 2018 Draft and how many of those guys are starters, how many are with different teams? Some are out of the league that were taken in the first round from that draft. It’s not a position you can just evaluate on film, I don’t believe. You’ve got to get with these kids, you’ve got to meet with them, you’ve got to get around them, you’ve got to put them on the board. Can they learn? Can they process information? You’ve got to talk to the people, especially in this market. Bringing a quarterback into this market, I mean, it’s not for everybody. Not everybody can handle it.

But again, it could be a free agent, whatever, we’re going to have to address it at some point. We have a UFA here that we could always sign back. There’re different ways that we could address the position, but there’s no guarantees, as of right now, that Daniel will be ready Week 1. So, that’s how you’ve got to approach it. Who can we bring in that can maybe help us win a couple of games while Daniel gets healthy, or maybe Daniel will be ready Week 1. There’re just some unknowns right now, and we’ll know as we get closer to free agency where he is in his rehab and how we need to approach the offseason.

Q: You talked about your focus on the bigger picture, and everybody still believes in that. From your conversations with ownership, are they still believing in your vision and Brian’s vision and what you guys are going for even though the season hasn’t been what you wanted?

A: Yeah, absolutely. We have constant communication with the Mara family, the Tisch family, and articulate the plan. They’re on board with it. As much as it hurts to go through this, there are a lot of young players that are getting valuable experience. Another offseason, another draft, we will continue to build it. The communication is very helpful. The fact that (President and Chief Executive Officer) John Mara is here on a daily basis, we can explain the ‘why’, why we’re doing things, how we’re going to do them. They’re in the loop and they’re on board.

NOVEMBER 27, 2023 BRIAN DABOLL PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Brian Daboll addressed the media on Monday (VIDEO):

Q: The players are off all week now, is that correct?

A: Yeah. In here for treatment if they need it. Similar schedule to last year.

Q: What considerations will you give over the next week or 10 days to who’s your next game starting quarterback?

A: We’re just getting started here, we’re just finishing up. Still got a little bit to go, finishing up with the coaches on this game and will work as a coaching staff and discuss a lot of things, look at a lot of things and try to fix some things. That’ll be something, obviously, we talk about as well.

Q: Is it as simple as who gives you the best chance to win or are there other things to consider?

A: I’d say we’re just getting started on that process now. We’ll have plenty of meetings here tonight and tomorrow.

Q: In your mind, do you have a list of things that you prioritize that you want to address in the coming week, and do you have enough time to address them?

A: Yeah, yep. I’ve been working on that for the past couple of weeks here as we get going. Once I get done with this, get back up with the coaches – I looked at the game last night and still have a few more things to do with that, then we’ll get on to some of the self-scout and maybe looking at a couple of other things around the league.

Q: I was just going to ask with the quarterback situation, how much do you factor some continuity and sticking with Tommy versus experience?

A: Yeah, that’s something we’ll talk about. We’ll talk about it all.

Q: What about you personally?

A: I’d say we’ll have all discussions collectively about it and make a decision.

Q: What about an update on the health of (quarterback) Tyrod (Taylor) and also (tight end) Darren Waller? What are your expectations for those two guys? Do you expect to see them this year?

A: I’d say they’re getting better. We’ll see where they’re at. I haven’t talked to the medical guys yet, but they’ve been getting better.

Q: Do they have a chance of returning after the bye week?

A: We’ll see. Yeah, we’ll see.

Q: There are so many quarterbacks that are drafted in the first round, second round, third round. In their first year, they can’t even operate in the NFL, and you have (quarterback) Tommy (DeVito), I know it’s not perfect, but he’s functioning. What characteristics did he have that have either

developed underneath you or coming out of school where you’re like, ‘this guy might have something’?

A: It’s an important position to try to develop. It’s a hard position. This guy, like I said, since OTAs he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. I thought he’s had two good mentors in there in terms of players. I think (quarterback coach) Shea (Tierney) does an excellent job with him, (offensive coordinator Mike) Kaf(ka) does a great job with him. Him and I meet once a week. We have since OTAs and discussed a lot of different things. I actually just met with him just now right before I came down here. So, he’s got the right mindset, a lot of work to do. He’s a young, young player, but he’s made some progress and he’s done a good job for us.

Q: One thing with him is he doesn’t hesitate to let it rip downfield. How important is that for a quarterback and just for an offense to be able to get those plays?

A: Yeah. See it, let it go. Trust your eyes. I’d say, be intelligently aggressive. I think he had a little fade adjust to go route and they were playing cover two to (wide receiver Jalin) Hyatt on the left-hand side, high level throw. We were just talking about it upstairs. Exactly what he saw and why he went there. He’s got good field vision. Usually when he comes off the sideline, he can articulate what he sees, which is not always the easiest thing, whether it’s for a young quarterback, even older quarterbacks, but ‘hey, I put it here because I saw this guy move, the safety didn’t open his shoulders, he stayed square, he was at 12 yards. I figured I had a chance to get it in there.’ Most of the time, he sees it the way it is after you’re watching on tape, which is always a hard thing to do or you can come off to the sideline and say, ‘hey, this is why I didn’t do this’ or ‘man, I screwed this up. I should have let this one go or got it out a little quicker.’ I think all the reps that he has had the last couple of weeks has helped him. We’ve just got to try to keep improving them.

Q: When you set out your developmental plan you saw Tommy as a developmental prospect, you couldn’t have foreseen what happened ahead of him at the position. Does it hurt that process or has this acceleration almost helped him come along faster because of what you’ve had to do?

A: I think every situation is different. It was different when I had (Bills quarterback) Josh (Allen), it’s different with Tommy. I think the third guy that doesn’t get a ton of reps out there other than he goes over and maybe throws one-on-ones with the tight ends and running backs at times or he goes over there with (Assistant Quarterback Coach Christian Jones) CJ on a separate time and goes through some of the plays in his head. The meetings that I had – I do that because you got to spend so much time with these other quarterbacks to get them ready. It’s a demanding position and it takes a lot to prepare for a game, so you’re devoting everything you got to the first guy, the second guy and you never want the third guy to feel left out at all. So, I think those meetings that we have have been important. I got to know him a little bit. He gets to know me and now when he’s in there, he’s in there with Shea and Kafka all the time, but we still do our stuff. Again, he’s played only a few games and has a long way to go, but he’s got the right mindset. He’s done a good job.

Q: When you saw the schedule come out, I’m sure you look at where things are and where the bye week is, and you saw how late it was. Did you kind of look at it and say, alright, where are we going to be at that point? I know you look at it the first game, but where do you think you are right now even after the two wins at the bye? This is sort of a reset with the 4-8 record.

A: I just say we take a week to week. Look at the stuff we got to look at this week and get ready to play Green Bay.

Q: Is this a reset do you think for you and the team?

A: It’s a bye, so you do the things you do normally during a bye, get healthy, as healthy as you can, and make sure you evaluate some stuff, try to fix certain things and then come back ready to go and get ready for a Monday night game.

Q: Can you talk about the young players that have developed and really been a bright spot for you? The Hyatts, the (cornerback Deonte) Banks, the DeVitos, the (wide receiver) Wan’Dale’s (Robinson) and so forth.

A: Sure, yeah. I mean, look, those guys – it’s a long season. I think from – even guys like (inside linebacker) Micah (McFadden) and (outside linebacker Kayvon) Thibodeaux, that have played quite a bit of football for us. That’s the objective is to get players in your system that you think have a good skillset, the right mindset and play them and get them to improve and those guys have done a good job. (Tight end Daniel) Bellinger, guys who have played behind. (Tight end Darren) Waller’s out, now Bellinger’s in, so those guys have got the right mindset. I think the coaches work hard with them; they work hard to improve but we still need them to keep improving.

Q: I know you said you haven’t met with medical staff yet but how did you come out health wise?

A: Honestly, right now, I don’t know. I’ll meet with those guys later, I’m sure, after you guys are done with (Senior Vice President/General Manager) Joe (Schoen).

Q: I know you downplayed any friction with (Defensive Coordinator) Wink (Martindale) yesterday but just in your experience, you’ve been in the league a long time, do coaches have to get along? I’m sure there’s times where there’s different personalities and there’s conflict.

A: Look, you’re in a competitive industry so the people you work with, you’ve got a lot of respect for. Everybody’s trying to get the same thing.

Q: One of the finer points of that report, can you assure that Wink will be here?

A: I addressed what I said last night and I’m going to leave it at what I said last night.

Q: Have you had a conversation with Wink about it within the last 24 hours? Between after the game and today.

A: I’m done with that.

Yeah, I just met with Wink a little while ago. We had donuts.

Q: What prompted you giving him the game ball? I’ve never seen you do that.

A: I’ve done that before.

Q: To a coach?

A: Yeah.

Q: Well, why did you give one to Wink yesterday?

A: Because we had another game of three turnovers and held them to seven points.

Q: I’m not sure if you answered the question. Can you say for sure he’ll be the DC for the rest of the season?

A: Guys, I talked (and said) what I said last night. We’re moving on here. Getting ready to for the bye week.

Q: Do you know if (tackle) Evan Neal is going to play again this season?

A: Do I know? Not for certain but I think he’s getting better so I’m hopeful.

Q: If he’s ready to play, will he return to the lineup?

A: This is stuff we’ll all talk about when he’s ready to play. I don’t think he’s ready to play quite yet but he’s getting there.

Q: What do you look to get accomplished over the last 5-6 games of the season?

A: I’m just focused on these next couple of days and looking at our stuff, things we can improve on, and start some Green Bay prep.

Q: Back to the question about the timing of the bye week, do you have to do different things this bye week as opposed to last year when it was earlier? Because it’s so late in the year.

A: I mean, you have more to look at, but you still look at some of the things that you know you want to place an emphasis on improving. So, it’ll probably be about 10-12 tapes that I’ve set up for the defense and offense to watch and four or five for the special teams that those guys will get started on here shortly. We’ll have a normal Monday, we’ll work pretty late tonight, same thing tomorrow. We’ll see what we can get done and get on to Green Bay.

Q: With the increase of Thursday night games, the extra game that you guys are now playing with Week 18, it seems like this year, more so than others, there have been a significant amount of injuries to quarterbacks and to positions all over. Would you be a proponent of a second bye? Do you believe that could potentially help long term?

A: Never thought of it. Yeah, never thought of it.

Q: Answer on the fly.

A: Never thought of it, doesn’t cross my mind. Whatever you can do to minimize injuries.

Q: Are you going to have Tommy do more work this week even though it’s the bye?

A: Yeah, he’ll have his weekend off and stuff like that but I’m sure he’ll be – I know he’ll be doing stuff, we just talked about it. Again, young player, lot to develop in terms of that position, which is important, and I know he’ll work at it.

Q: Like what? What kind of stuff can he do during that time?

A: Watch tape, get ahead on Green Bay, look at his past two games, talk about plays that he really likes, maybe plays he didn’t like during a game, those are some of the main things.

Q: Players will be back Monday? Next Monday.

A: Yeah, yep.

Q: And you’ll shift the schedule probably because of the Monday night game?

A: Yeah, so right now, tentatively it’ll be – and this is kind of a ramp up too with the training staff. I’ve still got to meet with the medical staff, but this is tentatively. Monday, we’ll kind of get back in, we’ll do a little bit of a walkthrough. Tuesday will be similar to a Wednesday but an additional walkthrough with it. Wednesday will be a Wednesday. Thursday will be a Tuesday so that will be the players day off like we’ve done in the past. Friday will be a Thursday; Saturday will be a Friday. Got all that?

That’s tentatively. I want to meet with (Head Athletic Trainer) Ronnie (Barnes) and the rest of the trainers and make sure and the sports science people but that’s kind of what we have mapped out, starting last weekend to now.

Q: One thing that happened today was (Former Panthers Head Coach) Frank Reich was fired. I was wondering is less than a year –

A: Frank was?

Q: Yeah, is less than a year a fair amount of time for any coach?

A: You’re asking the wrong guy; I’m just trying to do the best job I can. Never like to see that with any of the guys you know.

Q: Is it too late to change anything? Moving forward on how your processes or your practice schedule or anything like that to get the guys through the rest of the year?

A: No, we do that every week. Yeah, every week.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
With the Giants in their bye week, there is no availability to the team from November 28 to December 3.

Nov 262023
 
Jason Pinnock, New York Giants (November 26, 2023)

Jason Pinnock celebrates – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 10 – NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 7
In an ugly football game played by two bad football teams, the New York Giants prevailed 10-7 against the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With the win, the Giants improved their overall record to 4-8.

Like last week’s game against the Washington Commanders, the Giants came up on top because of turnovers. New York won the turnover battle three to one, with two interceptions setting up both scores by the Giants. The game was secured when the Patriots missed a 35-yard field goal with three seconds left that would have sent the game into overtime.

Overall, New England out-gained the Giants in first downs (18 to 10), total net yards (283 to 220), net yards rushing (147 to 58), and time of possession (34:06 to 25:54). The Giants did pass for more net yards (162 to 136).

The Giants and Patriots each had seven first-half possessions. The results:

  • Giants: Fumble, punt, punt, punt, punt, touchdown, punt.
  • Patriots: Punt, punt, interception, punt, interception, punt, end of half.

The Giants actually drove deep into Patriots’ territory on their first possession, with quarterback Tommy DeVito throwing a 29-yard deep pass to wide receiver Jalin Hyatt. But two plays later, New York fumbled the ball away at the New England 26-yard line. After four consecutive punts, cornerback Deonte Banks intercepted a deep pass from quarterback Mac Jones at the New York 43-yard line near the end of the 1st quarter. However, following a 19-yard run by running back Saquon Barkley, the Giants were halted again and punted.

After the Patriots and Giants exchanged two more punts, inside linebacker Bobby Okereke intercepted Jones at the New York 19-yard line and returned the interception 55 yards to the New England 26-yard line. DeVito threw a 12-yard pass to Hyatt on 3rd-and-8 to the 12-yard line. Then on 3rd-and-10, DeVito found wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins for the 12-yard catch-and-run for the score.

Both teams exchanged punts again in the final two minutes of the first half. At the break, the Giants led 7-0.

The Patriots benched Mac Jones at halftime with Bailey Zappe now playing at quarterback to start the 3rd quarter. New England proceeded to tie the game on their first possession of the second half, driving 60 yards in 11 plays, including a 4th-and-1 conversion. Running back Rhamondre Stevenson scored from seven yards out.

In the first half, the New York offense generated eight first downs and 155 yards of offense. In the second half, the Giants only managed two more first downs and 65 more yards, with 20 of those wiped out due to penalties. Not counting the final kneel down, the Giants had four possessions with three ending in punts. The second and last “scoring drive” was a 7-play, 8-yard possession that resulted in a 42-yard field goal by kicker Randy Bullock after an interception by safety Xavier McKinney. The Giants went ahead 10-7 with just over eight minutes to play.

Both the Patriots and Giants exchanged punts before the Patriots had one final chance to tie or win the game. Starting at midfield, New England kept the drive alive by converting on 4th-and-4. Then a 13-yard run by Stevenson reached the New York 22-yard line. The Patriots gained five more yards on the next three plays, setting up a game-tying, 35-yard field goal attempt. However, kicker Chad Ryland missed wide left with three seconds to play. Giants win.

DeVito completed 17-of-25 passes for 191 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. He was sacked six times. His leading target was Hyatt who caught five passes for 109 yards. Barkley was held to 46 yards on 12 carries.

Playing without nose tackle Dexter Lawrence, the defense held the Patriots to just 283 yards, but surrendered another 147 yards on the ground. The Giants intercepted three passes and generated two sacks (1.5 by linebacker Jihad Ward and 0.5 by linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux). McKinney was credited with 10 tackles, two pass defenses, and one interception. Okereke had eight tackles, two passes defenses, and an interception.

GAME VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS are available on YouTube.

ROSTER MOVES, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
On Saturday, the Giants activated RB Eric Gray off of Injured Reserve. Gray was placed on IR last month with a calf injury.

Inactive for the game were RT Evan Neal (ankle), NT Dexter Lawrence (hamstring), RB Jashaun Corbin, OLB Boogie Basham, and S Gervarrius Owens.

DL Jordon Riley (finer) and ILB Carter Coughlin (hip) left the game with injuries.

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:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
General Manager Joe Schoen, Head Coach Brian Daboll, and select players will address the media on Monday.

Nov 242023
 
Dexter Lawrence, New York Giants (November 19, 2023)

Dexter Lawrence – © USA TODAY Sports

GIANTS SIGN RANDY BULLOCK TO 53-MAN ROSTER…
The New York Giants have signed place kicker Randy Bullock to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad. Bullock has kicked for the Giants for the past three games as a standard elevation from the Practice Squad. The Giants also re-signed Cade York to the Practice Squad. York was waived from the 53-man roster on Wednesday. He was signed by the Giants off of the Practice Squad of the Tennessee Titans almost three weeks ago.

NOVEMBER 24, 2023 GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
RT Evan Neal (ankle) and NT Dexter Lawrence (hamstring) did not practice on Friday. Neal has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots; Lawrence is “doubtful” for the game.

WR Darius Slayton (neck), OL Sean Harlow (knee), DL A’Shawn Robinson (back), ILB Bobby Okereke (hip/rib), and CB Tre Hawkins (shoulder) practiced on a limited basis. Slayton is “doubtful” for the game; the other four players are expected to play.

RB Eric Gray (ankle), WR Sterling Shepard (hip), OC John Michael Schmitz (finger), LT Andrew Thomas (knee), OT Tyre Phillips (knee), CB Adoree’ Jackson (concussion), and S Bobby McCain (illness) fully practiced. Gray is “questionable” for the game; the other six players are expected to be available to play.

“We’ll take (Lawrence and Slayton) right up to game time,” said Head Coach Brian Daboll before practice. “We’ll let them go through today, get treatment, tomorrow, get treatment, and then we’ll talk about it Sunday morning.”

TOMMY DeVITO EARNS “ROOKIE OF THE WEEK” HONORS…
Quarterback Tommy DeVito has been named “Rookie of the Week” for his performance against the Washington Commanders last Sunday. In that game, DeVito completed 18 of 26 passes for 246 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions for a 137.7 passer rating.

HEAD COACH BRIAN DABOLL…
The transcript of Brian Daboll’s press conference on Friday 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…
There is no media availability to the Giants on Saturday. The team plays the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

Nov 242023
 
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (November 19, 2023)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

THE STORYLINE:
As addressed previously, we’re in a weird dynamic right now where the games are a distant secondary to the upcoming offseason. This has pretty much been the case ever since the Giants lost heartbreakers to the Bills and Jets in Weeks 6 and 8, respectively. So now the Giants stand at 3-8, with two of the team’s three wins coming against the Washington Commanders. What makes matters even more depressing is that the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys continue to demonstrate on a weekly basis the huge gap that lies between them and the New York Giants. The Cowboys have already swept the Giants by a combined score of 89-17. The annual bitch-slapping by the Eagles will occur in Weeks 16 and 18.

Giants vs. Patriots? It used to have a special meaning. But those days are long gone.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Eric Gray (ankle – questionable)
  • WR Darius Slayton (neck – doubtful)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (hip – probable)
  • OC John Michael Schmitz (finger – probable)
  • LT Andrew Thomas (knee – probable)
  • RT Evan Neal (ankle – out)
  • OT Tyre Phillips (knee – probable)
  • NT Dexter Lawrence (hamstring – doubtful)
  • DL A’Shawn Robinson (back – probable)
  • ILB Bobby Okereke (hip/rib – probable)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (concussion – probable)
  • CB Tre Hawkins (shoulder – probable)
  • S Bobby McCain (illness – probable)

GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Despite the team’s record, these remaining games are important for many players, and one of those guys is Tommy DeVito. Midnight may be approaching for the Cinderella story, undrafted rookie free agent who won “Rookie of the Week” honors for his performance against Washington. Instead of throwing three touchdowns this weekend, he is just as likely to throw three interceptions. But the Jersey kid seems to be having fun and making the most out of his opportunity. Despite being sacked nine times last week, DeVito did something Daniel Jones has not been able to do in four years, that is, throw three touchdown passes in one game. Now he has six touchdowns on the season. Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor have combined for four. What if DeVito has another strong performance? Do the Giants stick with him after the upcoming bye week, or does Daboll turn back to Taylor, if the latter is healthy? DeVito could make the decision easy or difficult for Daboll based on how he plays against the Patriots.

DeVito and the offense had a 24-point “explosion” against the 29th-ranked defense last weekend. The 16th-ranked Patriots will be a tougher test, especially given their top-10 run defense. Bill Belichick has a knack for taking away the opposing team’s best offensive threat so I anticipate him focusing the defense’s complete attention on Saquon Barkley as a runner and receiver (Barkley is coming off an impact game as a receiver). I also expect him to do a better job of confusing the rookie quarterback by more effectively disguising his coverages. Can DeVito and the coaching staff adjust? Complicating matters is that another favorite target for DeVito, Darius Slayton, appears to be battling a stinger injury.

The book on DeVito coming out of school was a tendency to hold onto the ball too long. His emphasis on looking for bigger chunk plays down the field paid off against Washington and stood in stark contrast to Daniel Jones, but it also led to nine sacks. Another day like that and DeVito has a good chance of getting hurt with Matt Barkley entering the game. While I am dying to see DeVito take a couple of deep shots to Jalin Hyatt, he also needs to use the short passing game more when coverage and/or the pass rush dictates that response.

Speaking of pass rush, the Giants’ offensive line continues to disappoint. While not all of the nine sacks were on them, it’s astounding that a team that was winning the turnover battle 5-0 had to rely on the sixth turnover to seal the victory. The nine sacks and shoddy first-half run blocking were a big reason why. Andrew Thomas, despite playing injured, is still clearly the best OL on the team. John Michael Schmitz is battling injuries and still learning on the job. Justin Pugh, Ben Bredeson, and Tyre Phillips are not playing well and likely are not NFL-calibre starting material. I find the decision to start Pugh over Glowinski more than a tad curious. I also wonder if Schmitz wasn’t so green that we might be seeing more of Marcus McKethan, but the coaches have already alluded to the benefits of Schmitz being flanked by two veterans. Regardless, the offensive line ONCE AGAIN needs massive work in the offseason. Evan Neal’s wasted year has been devastating.

Assuming the Patriots take Barkley out of the game, someone else needs to step up. Wan’Dale Robinson? Daniel Bellinger? Jalin Hyatt? Will anyone answer the bell?

One last item to note. With the bye coming up after this game, the Giants may be getting some reinforcements back in December such as Tyrod Taylor, Darren Waller, and Evan Neal.

GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The defense’s six turnovers won the game for the Giants last week. But that was clearly an anomaly. What is absolutely driving me nuts is Wink Martindale’s horrific run defense. I don’t get it. With the Ravens, in a very tough division, his run defenses were ranked 4th, 5th, 8th, and 1st the four years he was defensive coordinator. With the Giants? 27th and 28th. 2022 made more sense given the lack of quality and injury issues on the defensive line and inside linebacker. What’s the excuse this season? Wink’s defense is allowing 135 rushing yards per game. It just gave up 174 rushing yards to the Commanders. You can’t win consistently allowing these kind of numbers, and this is happening with arguably the best nose tackle in the game and an inside linebacker who is near the league-lead in tackles. It doesn’t make sense. I’d prefer the Giants to not change defensive coordinators this upcoming offseason, but Wink has a lot of explaining to do.

On the flip side, I was impressed at how well the Giants rushed the passer last week. I’ve harped on this for a couple of weeks, but the departure of Leonard Williams really hurt the team’s ability to get after the quarterback. The Giants’ two best pass rushers right now are Kayvon Thibodeaux and Dexter Lawrence. Opposing teams know it and concentrate the blocking on these two as no one else is picking up the slack. Azeez Ojulari has returned from injury, but thus far, he has been a complete non-factor. Don’t be shocked when the pass rush completely disappears against better offensive lines. The Giants don’t have the numbers to make other teams really sweat. It’s why as much as the Giants need to address quarterback and the offensive line in the offseason, pass rush is right up there too.

As for the Patriots, they are struggling this year because their quarterback play has been awful. It’s not clear who will even start against the Giants and we may see multiple quarterbacks play in the game. The Patriots are also not rushing the ball well, being limited to less than 95 yards per game. However, if Dexter Lawrence does not play or is limited, things could get really ugly in terms of the run defense and pass rush.

GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
I do think the Giants signing developmental prospect Cade York off of Tennessee’s Practice Squad a few weeks ago was a bit of a red flag. While York was waived this week and re-signed to the Practice Squad, his presence in addition to the signing of Randy Bullock makes me wonder if Graham Gano’s knee injury has the Giants concerned beyond 2023. That would be bad news, not only because Gano is one of the NFL’s best, but because the Giants had just re-signed him to a 3-year, $16.5 million contract. This is something to note moving forward.

The special teams finally contributed on the field last week with a forced fumble that was recovered by the Giants. This is the type of play I talked about last week that was missing. Good job.

THE FINAL WORD:
I find myself rooting for the Giants but worrying about losing draft position. I can’t help it. I know we still need that quarterback. The Patriots do too. So you can see where my mind is going here. Is a win really a win? Is a loss really a loss?

Nov 222023
 
Micah McFadden, New York Giants (November 19, 2023)

Micah McFadden – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS CUT CADE YORK…
The New York Giants have waived place kicker Cade York from the 53-man roster. York was signed by the Giants off of the Practice Squad of the Tennessee Titans almost three weeks ago. He did not play in a game for the Giants.

NOVEMBER 22, 2023 GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
RB Saquon Barkley (rest day), WR Darius Slayton (neck), RT Evan Neal (ankle), NT Dexter Lawrence (hamstring), and ILB Bobby Okereke (hip/rib) did not practice on Wednesday.

RB Eric Gray (ankle), WR Sterling Shepard (hip), LT Andrew Thomas (knee), OT Tyre Phillips (knee), and CB Adoree’ Jackson (concussion) practiced on a limited basis.

OC John Michael Schmitz (finger) fully practiced.

Gray, who was placed on Injured Reserve in October with a calf injury, has been designated for return. The Giants now have 21 days to either activate him to the 53-man roster or keep him on IR for the rest of the season.

QB Daniel Jones underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair the torn ACL in his right knee.

HEAD COACH BRIAN DABOLL…
The transcript of Brian Daboll’s press conference on Wednesday 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 will practice on Thursday, but there will be no media availability to the team on Thanksgiving. Head Coach Brian Daboll and select players will address the media on Friday.

Nov 212023
 
New York Giants Helmet (December 12, 2021)

© USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants have signed outside linebacker Benton Whitley to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad of the Minnesota Vikings. The 24-year old, 6’4”, 260-pound Whitley was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Los Angeles Rams after the 2022 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Rams (2022), Kansas City Chiefs (2022), and Vikings (2022-2023). Whitley has played in one regular season game, this season for the Vikings.

On Monday, the Giants waived running back Deon Jackson and offensive lineman Joshua Miles from the 53-man roster. However, both were re-signed to the Practice Squad on Tuesday. The Giants claimed Jackson off of waivers from the Cleveland Browns and signed Miles to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad of the Atlanta Falcons in October 2023.

On Tuesday, the Giants also terminated the Practice Squad contract of running back Hassan Hall, who was signed earlier this month.

Nov 212023
 
Tommy DeVito, New York Giants (November 19, 2023)

Tommy DeVito – © USA TODAY Sports

QUARTERBACK

-Tommy DeVito: 18/26 – 246 yards / 3 TD – 0 INT / 137.7 RAT

The ascent continues. DeVito went from a guy who the coaches did everything within their power to prevent from throwing a pass in a close game to producing the highest QB rating a Giants quarterback has had since September 23, 2018 (among games with 20+ passing attempts). In addition, the three touchdowns were the most by a Giants quarterback since Week 16 of 2019 (also a game against Washington). Say whatever you want about the future of the Giants quarterback situation, but what DeVito has done in a short time is nothing short of impressive. He did all of this on a day where he was sacked nine times. There were a few instances of mental mistakes, mainly holding onto the ball too long when the pass rushers outnumbered the blockers, but it was a clean game for the undrafted rookie. He sprayed the ball all over the field and came up with three high level balls while avoiding turnovers. I look forward to seeing if he can continue the climb.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 14 att – 83 yards / 4 rec – 57 yards – 2 TD

For the third straight week, Barkley averaged over five yards per carry. The last time he did that was in 2018, his rookie season. While he was fully contained on the ground in the first half (-2 yards on 6 carries), he made two elite catches, one being the first of two touchdown receptions. His explosive plays were vital to the team’s offensive success. He rattled off two 30+ yard runs and was responsible for 4 of the 7 largest gains for the offense. Barkley’s one dent was the fact he allowed two sacks. Running backs are not expected to sustain blocks for a long time, but he barely even made an impact on these two whiffs. This is an area of his game that has never solidified. All in all, the team does not win this game without this performance by Barkley.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Despite missing the second half with a hand/wrist injury, Darius Slayton led the team with 82 yards on 4 catches, including a touchdown, his first of the season. On that play, we saw an impressive burst to the end zone after a subtle stutter-step that froze the WAS defender just enough to create that lane to the end zone. That kind of athleticism is part of what creates the optimism around his game. A drop on third down is what creates the frustration around his game. The up and down element to his game lives on.

-Wan’Dale Robinson had 3 catches for 35 yards, including an explosive play that gained 21 yards. That gain was essentially all him after the catch. We have seen the flashes over the last month that strengthen the notion he will be an important building block next season and beyond. I also noted a couple of high-effort blocks he made.

-Rookie Jalin Hyatt was thrown to twice and he caught one of them for seven yards. While it is disappointing that they seem to struggle getting him consistent targets, I am optimistic DeVito will throw the ball downfield to him in the coming weeks. The training wheels are coming off. One question I would like the answer to is how well does Hyatt know the playbook? While watching the game from the All-22, there were a couple plays where there appears to be miscommunication between the two. It is hard to tell who that’s on, but that could be a reason for the disconnect between what I think Hyatt can do and what opportunities he gets.

-Isaiah Hodgins added 22 yards on 2 catches and Sterling Shepard had 1 catch for 7 yards. The latter was targeted in the end zone as well.

TIGHT END

-It was another full day for Daniel Bellinger. He had 38 yards on 3 catches and played most of the snaps. His 26-yard gain that ended just shy of a touchdown was his longest of the day. As Waller sits out, I am interested to see if the second-year pro from San Diego State gets some of his swagger back. Some players need a lot of reps to get and stay fresh. Bellinger did allow a TFL on a play where he lined up at fullback, but his blocking was better in this game than previous weeks.

-Tyree Jackson and Lawrence Cager shared spot duty and both were manhandled by the physical Washington front a few times. Neither were thrown to.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-On paper, the offensive line was torched. But on tape, it was not nearly as bad as the 9 sacks make it look and they had stretches of solid pass protection. While the OL still is a significant weakness that holds the offense back, they have now gone up a step on the ladder from dysfunctional to inconsistent. Having Andrew Thomas back is such a difference maker, and it is an easy example to point to when discussing the sheer value of a high-quality left tackle. He allowed one pressure and created good push it the running game.

-Tyre Phillips is a hit or miss blocker. Because he has lower body movement limitations, he needs to get the initial win. When he doesn’t, the odds of him coming out on top are slim when there are deeper drop backs. He allowed 2 pressures and 1.5 sacks in addition to being flagged for illegally blocking downfield. Justin Pugh allowed a sack and was poor in the run game. His initial punch does not displace or stand anyone up. Therefore, he needs to be incredibly precise and when he is off by just a little bit, the operation blows up. Jonathan Allen ate his lunch a few times.

-Ben Bredeson allowed two pressures and a half-sack and rookie center John Michael Schmitz had his worst game of the season. The latter allowed 2 TFL and a sack. I’ve highlighted his movement issues recently and it appears the league has caught onto them as well. The lateral speed and adjustments are a notch too slow, and it’s lessened his power impact. He was put on ice skates a few times and it disrupted the zone running game.

EDGE

-Kayvon Thibodeaux shined once again as he lined up across from Washington left tackle Charles Leno. If you do not watch much outside of the Giants games, you may not know that Leno is probably one of the ten best pass-blocking left tackles in the game. About a month after Thibodeaux recorded 1.5 sacks vs. Washington in New York, he added 2 sacks, 3 pressures, 1 QB hit, and 5 tackles to his season total. He now has 10.5 sacks and is the first player in a Wink Martindale defense to reach double digits in that department. There are six games left. He won inside, he won outside, he won with burst, he won with power.

-Jihad Ward recorded a sack very much because of a pressure from Thibodeaux that made Sam Howell run right into his arms. He and Boogie Basham excel at controlling a gap but when it comes to lateral speed and adjustments, they’re awfully slow and lethargic. Brian Robinson ran for 73 yards, the second most of the year, and a lot of it stemmed from that lack of speed on the outside.

-Azeez Ojulari was nowhere to be found following a pressure he had early in the game. On 49 snaps, he had zero tackles and nothing outside that first pressure.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

-Dexter Lawrence should pay rent for the amount of time he spent in the Washington backfield over their two matchups this season. He had 4 pressures, 2 TFL, and a sack. Double teams, single teams, and even triple teams do not stop the eventual All-Pro.

-A’Shawn Robinson played just over a third of the snaps but he came up big in big spots. He ended with 4 tackles, one of which was a big third-down stop, and added 2 pressures. That snap count works well for him because while I do not think he has the engine to play a full snap load, he can still be effective in flashes.

-Rakeem Nunez-Roches and D.J. Davidson spelled Robinson a lot through the second half. The former had a pressure and a tackle and the latter added one tackle. Nunez-Roches is a hustler, too. He was 20-30 yards downfield chasing guys down. That kind of effort matters, especially from a backup.

LINEBACKER

-Another active and productive game for the linebacker duo of Bobby Okereke and Micah McFadden. Okereke led the team with 14 tackles and forced two fumbles. McFadden added 8 tackles, one of which was for a loss, and recovered a fumble in addition to a pass break up. They both missed tackles, one of three by McFadden’s led to a touchdown. The two seem to feed off each other, displaying chemistry. Watch some of the top linebacker pairs in the league and you will see that often. They move off each other well and can control an extra gap. These two have been fun to watch.

-Isaiah Simmons made an impact play for the first time since being acquired via trade from Arizona 12 weeks ago. He intercepted Sam Howell (the team’s sixth forced turnover of the day) and returned it 54 yards for the pick-six. He added 3 tackles on the day and missed one. This could be the turning moment for Simmons that he needed.

CORNERBACK

-It was an active game for the young group. Rookie Deonte Banks allowed a touchdown but was otherwise very solid in coverage down the field. Cor’Dale Flott continued his ascent with a forced fumble and two tackles. These two have been positives we will look back on after the season when projecting the potential of this defense moving forward. Their movement traits are both outstanding, but looking at them from the All-22 is encouraging as well. Their feel and route recognition are notably better.

-Nick McCloud intercepted his first pass of his career in the first quarter to set the defensive tone. It was an outstanding play on a deep ball where he displayed speed, ball tracking, and hands on a diving, over-the-shoulder grab. McCloud is a nice player who was a key part to their secondary in 2022 who we have not seen much of this season. He also added a team-high two special teams tackles. He is a guy who wears multiple hats for this team that all good defenses have.

-Also picking off a pass was Darnay Holmes, who has done just enough to stick around over his four-year career. If he does shake free in the offseason, you can bet your bottom dollar he will get signed. It was his second pick of the year. Tre Hawkins struggled, leading the defensive backs in yards allowed, and he was flagged for illegal contact (a questionable call). A big part of the remaining balance of this season will be getting the young guys more and more snaps, Hawkins included. The tough question will be how much and at what expense? McCloud does more for this defense right now.

SAFETY

-Xavier McKinney and Jason Pinnock were on the field for 100% of the snaps yet again. McKinney deserves the mention, as he seems to be in the crosshairs of some because of comments to the media and a lack of playmaking overall. He was outstanding. He finished with 12 tackles, 1 TFL, and a fumble recovery. While he did get beat in coverage a few times, he did a nice job of containing and keeping the action in front of him. He was all over the field and played with a ton of grit and hustle.

-Dane Belton had 5 tackles and continues to add a needed physical element to the defense.

-Welcome to the playmaker’s list rookie Gervarrius Owens. He made a tackle and recovered a fumble on special teams. The safety room is crowded but this kind of experience will be good for the 7th rounder who opened eyes throughout preseason.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K Randy Bullock: 1/1 (Made 36)
P Jamie Gillan: 7 punts / 45.4 avg – 42.6 net

3 STUDS

-EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, DT Dexter Lawrence, QB Tommy DeVito

3 DUDS

-EDGE Azeez Ojulari, OC John Michael Schmitz, CB Tre Hawkins III

3 THOUGHTS ON WAS

1. It’s safe to say the Giants have the Commanders number similar to what Dallas has done to the Giants in recent years. Different regimes, different quarterbacks, different personnel. No matter the case, NYG over WAS has become a near-given as of late. The one thing I sense about the Commanders, especially offensively, is the fact they have nobody on offense who truly scares you. Terry McLaurin is a solid player, but he won’t keep anyone up at night when preparing for them. They have plenty of quality wins against good opponents over this span of NYG dominance, but the fact they do not have any elite playmakers (and haven’t for a long time) is a key reason why they have not gotten over the hump.

2. With that in mind, this thought crossed my mind in relation to roster building. Would you rather have a couple of elite pieces you can build around but a lesser support system around them, or a solid supporting cast with volume of quality players but missing the elite pieces that are the cornerstones? Washington has a lot of usable pieces, but they no longer have the defining players. The Giants have a few elite players, but they’re missing the much-needed depth. Something to chew on.

3. Washington traded not one, but both, of their defensive ends who were heading toward free agency this upcoming March. They received a second-round pick from Chicago (likely a top 35 pick) and a third rounder from San Francisco (likely a top 96 pick). The writing was on the wall, as Washington already locked up the interior guys Jonathan Allen and DaRon Payne and the resources have to be spread out when it comes to the larger contracts. Sweat and Young will both be getting monster deals this offseason. It is a new era coming in Washington and the next move will be the firing of Ron Rivera. I cannot see him making it to 2024.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

1. This is an awkward time of year for fans. They have their eyes firmly set on the NFL Draft. Any and every win lessens their chance of getting the top pick and the player they feel will change things around. I do understand it, but I’ve always felt it was a meaningless approach and a waste of time. Texans Head Coach Lovie Smith was crushed by the fans and media for a meaningless win last year at the end of the season. It pushed them out of the number one overall pick. Here they are a year later with the second quarterback taken and will end up as the comeback team of the season. It looks like they may have the next big thing at quarterback. We see examples of this all the time. Giants fans were upset they did not get Chase Young and had to settle for Andrew Thomas. The team needs to find the pieces on this roster who are worth building around. They need to find guys who are good at football and who can be relied upon. That is the goal. If they find them, it will lead to wins, period. This would be a net-positive even though it may mess with your mock drafts and fantasies.

2. Turnovers change everything. It took seven games for the Giants to reach six turnovers for the season. They took the ball away six times in this game alone. I can recall discussing the lack of turnovers early in the year (zero through 4 games) as being the defensive catalyst to poor play. The Giants are now +3 in turnovers on the year, an encouraging sign because that ratio is tied to win-loss as much as any stat in football. For me, it has been the pass rush that has led to increased number of turnovers. It is more effective, and it now has a true inside-out force. Add another piece (or two) and watch how much this will change the outcomes of games. The offense needs personnel improvements, yes. But the pass rush is close to being something that makes a true difference.

3. I am interested in seeing how this coaching staff handles the workload of Saquon Barkley moving forward. He is on pace for the most touches per game in a season over his entire career. We all know about the contract situation, and we all know there is nothing behind him who comes even close to matching what he can produce. There is a lot of football left and Barkley has proven to be a team-first guy, but if they do not slow down his usage, we could see him suffer another breakdown. Yes, “it is part of the game” but I do wonder if there will be a point where they pull him back a bit, especially if they plan to keep him around in 2024.

Nov 202023
 
Bobby Okereke, New York Giants (November 19, 2023)

Bobby Okereke – © USA TODAY Sports

NOVEMBER 20, 2023 BRIAN DABOLL PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Brian Daboll addressed the media on Monday (VIDEO):

Q: In your long time working with quarterbacks over the years, is there a difference when you get handed a top pick or an undrafted free agent? Are there special challenges and different ways to go about it depending on what kind of quarterback you are handed?

A: I wouldn’t necessarily (say) it is based on the round. It’s definitely – you look at the skillset of each player and each player is a little bit different and you try to develop that skillset. It’s a little bit harder when it’s the third guy rather than the first or the second guy but we’ve got a big staff, and we work with a bunch of those guys. I’d say (Assistant Quarterbacks Coach) Christian Jones has worked with those, kind of three quarterbacks, if you will, the assistant quarterback coach when (Offensive Coordinator Mike) Kafka and (Quarterbacks Coach) Shea (Tierney) are dealing with the first two guys. I talk to (quarterback Tommy) DeVito once a week, that goes back to training camp but again, each player, each quarterback is different, has a different skillset. But there’s a part of the developmental process that goes along with every position but particularly that one’s pretty important because they don’t maybe get as many reps as some as the other guys get at different positions that you can roll in there, so it doesn’t really matter the round. It’s more focused on the player and then what does that player do well and again, it’s a little bit harder than some other positions because they don’t get as many reps. They get the show team reps and things like that, but he’s done a good job of working with the coaches and trying to improve on a day-to-day basis.

Q: You said you talked to him once a week back when training camp got started. Anybody in that position as the number three quarterback, that’s what you would do?

A: Yeah, he’s a rookie player so we talk about a lot of different things. We meet every Thursday in the morning before everybody gets here and we go through a variety of different things. Situational stuff, basic offensive terminology, different quarterbacks around the league, different types of tapes that show up whether it’s turnover tapes, or big play tapes, or redzone tapes or decision-making tapes. Just a way to get to know the quarterback who’s really the third guy. As a head coach, I think that’s important.

Q: I asked you about Tommy DeVito before the first preseason game and while many had doubts you said, ‘give him a chance, let’s see.’ What qualities did he possess that made you believe that he could succeed if given the chance?

A: Well, he did a good job of picking up our offense. I think he operates well in the pocket, he’s got quick feet, he throws with anticipation and timing and he’s instinctive. He does a good job of seeing defenders and feeling defenses. I don’t think he’s an overprocessor, an overthinker. He can make a variety of the throws and he was a good young player to try to work with and develop and hopefully that we spend a year with him and he gets a little bit better so that maybe he can have something the following year, but things have sped up for him. I know he’s had this opportunity and look, there’s plenty of things that he knows he needs to work on, and we need to work on with him that we can help him, but he’s got the right mindset, the right approach. He’s done a good job since he’s been here.

Q: How does a quarterback develop pocket presence or pocket awareness?

A: Great question. It’s tough. You do a variety of drills with them but until you’re actually in the line of fire where you can take those shots from 310, 330 (pound players), or edge rushers, blitzers, I don’t think you have a great feel. You evaluate it on college tape but the good ones that I’ve been around have a unique way of dealing with – call it the congestion that happens in the pocket. In the different drills, you work on those on a daily basis, but I think it’s something innate that they have that they are able to keep their eyes down the field, stay in the pocket, move a little bit, maybe get out when they have to, an instinctive feel that the good ones that I’ve been around have done a good job with that. I’d say that he’s got some good pocket presence. Obviously, we’ve got some stuff to work on but for a young player, he’s willing to stand in there. He has pretty quiet feet. Quick feet but quiet feet when he has to. The line knows where he’s going to be most of the time, and he gets the ball out like he does throw with some good anticipation and timing. So again, he’s only played two games, so another tough challenge this week and a lot of things we need to work on.

Q: (Kicker) Randy’s (Bullock) got through his three elevations so what’s the kicker plan this week?

A: I’ll meet with (Senior Vice President/General Manager) Joe (Schoen) after this. Me, Joe, the doctors and the rest of the crew and come up with a plan as to how we’re going to go forward here.

Q: What does it mean that he has “quiet feet”?

A: When he gets back in the pocket he doesn’t move around a whole bunch. He stays in that pocket, if you will, and he doesn’t move too far to one side or the other side. He’s where he needs to be most of the time and when he’s not there, it’s usually for a reason – when he’s moving, these first couple games he’s played. It’ll be a challenge going forward, it is always for young quarterbacks, particularly in this league that are getting hit and rushed and things like that from some really good players, but he’s done a nice job.

Q: The play I wanted to ask you about was the 36-yard run by (running back) Saquon (Barkley). I’m just curious what he did right in that play because it felt like – looking back at it, I didn’t notice this in real time, but it looked like it had almost layers to it. Layers to the play so what did Saquon do right and maybe as importantly or more importantly, what did those offensive linemen, I think it might have been (center) John Michael (Schmitz Jr.) and I’m not sure if the other was (guard Justin) Pugh.

A: It was really five. The play got started because of (tight end Daniel) Bellinger and (wide receiver Sterling) Shep(ard). They had a pressure that went inside but they sealed the edge and prevented the penetration off the pressure. Then, (wide receiver) Wan’Dale (Robinson) really did a great job of blocking the edge guy, then we got two linemen out in front, which was a clean look for Saquon. And then once Saquon got out into the open field, he didn’t get touched for a little bit, then he made elusive plays, made a guy miss and ran with power and strength. It was a timely play call by Mike (Kafka), we hit it into a good look. The guys did a good job of getting the play started and then Saquon in space, it’s always a good thing when he’s in space.

Q: Do you think a play like that can demoralize a defense?

A: I mean, it was a good play. I’d say you just get ready to play the next play. They did a heck of a job of stopping our running game, so I don’t want to speak for them, but they were doing a dang good job of stopping our running game and controlling the line of scrimmage, so it was good to get that one. Obviously, gave us a little bit of a spark.

Q: Just real quick, do you have a (wide receiver Darius) Slayton update?

A: I don’t, no. I will on Wednesday, but I haven’t met with those guys yet.

Q: If you could take me beyond the Giants focus for a sec, I’d appreciate it. Last year, 66 different quarterbacks started games. This year, it’s already been 48 different quarterbacks have started games. Is grooming a viable backup quarterback more important than ever now in today’s NFL? You’ve been in the league 20-plus years and why do you think that is?

A: Well, I think it’s always been important because you’re one play away from having a player have to go in there and compete and play and keep the ship sailing, so to speak. So, I don’t know that there has ever been a de-emphasis on it. I think it’s always been important. Guys that have played a little bit and have experience in that role, but if you can find a young player that you can develop and groom into that role, I think that’s helpful. It’s a tough position, obviously. It’s demanding, it’s taxing, it’s the most difficult position to play. Whether it’s mentally, physically, there’s just so many things that go on. It’s so much preparation that each player has to do to be able to play that role. I would say that having a backup quarterback, you need a guy to be able to go in there four to five games and be able to keep it going if something happens in that kind of timeframe, if you will.

Q: Why do you think that we’re seeing so many different quarterbacks? Like I said, 66 was the record last year, going to get challenged this year. Is it because of more attention to injuries? Less patience in coaches with their quarterbacks? Like why do you think the last couple of years we’ve seen more than ever before?

A: I don’t know, that’s a great question. I can only speak for us right now. We’re on our third one and both of them have been the result of injuries. I’m sure there’s a lot of – I couldn’t give you probably the answer that you’re looking for. I’ve been in the league quite some time and there’s been years that I’ve had three or four play in a season and then times where just one has played. Usually, when you only have one play, there something going right, something going good. When you have two, three or four, then there’s different challenges that come up with that. It’s a hard position. It’s a hard position to play. That’s why it’s so important to develop these young players that you have on your roster, whether they’re on the practice squad or maybe less experienced. I think that’s a very important aspect of coaching offense and football and particularly quarterbacks.

Q: I’m sure you haven’t done your deep dive or not ready to give it to us yet on the Patriots but in general, what’s it like coaching up against (Patriots Head Coach) Bill (Belichick)? And what does it mean for you? You’ve done it a couple of times as a play caller, I guess. What is it like to go up against him as an offensive coach?

A: I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect, for one, that organization. (Patriots Chairman & CEO Robert) Mr. Kraft, (President) Jonathan (Kraft), Dan, Josh, all those guys – obviously, Bill, who gave me my first opportunity in the NFL. I think – I don’t know, this might be 17 or 18, somewhere around there, of times that games that we’ve played, that I’ve coached, obviously not as a head coach, but as offensive coordinator or a position coach. Got a ton of respect for that team, for that organization and just really getting started right now on preparation for them. Does that answer your question?

Q: What does he normally do that makes him so challenging to go up against, when you were a play caller against his defense?

A: Well, they’re well prepared. He’s going to have whatever he wants to have in, relative to changes from week-to-week. That’s the approach that they’ve had there for a long time. Again, not having been back there, maybe that’s changed a little bit, maybe it’s not, I don’t want to speak for them, but they’re always well prepared. They have good coaches, good players, the usual stuff.

Q: Yesterday was the first time you had the same line together in consecutive games all season. There were times when you look at it, they seemed to struggle with communication. Is it too much to expect these guys only playing together two games in a row to have that?

A: They didn’t struggle with communication.

Q: Was it just missed blocks then or what?

A: Yeah, there was a couple plays. Again, give Washington credit. They’ve got two good interior players that do that to a lot of teams. There was, I’d say, very few mental errors. Some physical things we can shore up on, but those guys are good communicators, work well together – again, this is their second time but they’re true pros. Again, those interior guys are pretty good players. Our guys battled, competed, wasn’t always perfect, not at any position on the team. Whether it was offensive line, quarterback, defensive line, d-backs, all of us. But those guys care, they work extremely hard and they’re good guys to have.

Q: Along the lines of the line, since John Michael has gotten back from his injury and has kind of settled in again, is there anything you can point to in his game that you can see now that you weren’t really seeing earlier in the year and that kind of speaks to his development and growth as a player?

A: I’d just say there’s been steady improvement, really in every area. Are there plays that he wishes (he could have) back? Sure, everybody has those plays. Particularly the guys who play inside there, but I think it’s been good for him to have (guard Ben) Bredeson next to him as a good communicator, Pugh. Those guys are continuing to work on fundamental things that help them, but he’s got the right approach. I’d say each game he plays, he gets more experience, there’s different things that he sees that maybe he didn’t see at the college level. Different powers, different sets, different rushes, different looks that he has to communicate, but I’d say his communication has been steadily improved. He’s a smart, young player.

Q: I know you were asked about Slayton but were there any other injuries coming out of yesterday?

A: No, I think we were pretty clean. Just a bunch – a couple knicks and bruises. I’ll meet with those guys after this, but I think we’re pretty clean.

Q: Obviously, a game like yesterday it has to be a big boost for the confidence of Tommy DeVito but what about his teammates moving forward? When they see – here’s this young guy getting his break and he can have a game like that. What does it do for his teammates’ confidence to say ‘hey, you know what? Maybe we’re not spinning our wheels here. Maybe we can ascend and do a lot better than what people are giving us credit for or being able to do.’

A: I’d say that – again, I think Tommy has got a good personality and I think he draws a lot of people with him. Even the games that wasn’t the result that we wanted, we’re out on the practice field and he’s making a few throws here and there then you see three d-lineman run on the field and high-five him. He just has a good personality about him that he knows how to interact with people. I think those guys have confidence in him but it’s good for them to see him have some success because I think – again, the last few weeks that he’s been practicing, he’s brought an energy to the team, I think. Not just the offensive guys, the defensive guys that are jumping around and he’s out there singing songs, dancing in the huddle and doing some things. And I want him to be himself, everybody’s a little bit different. I think those guys were really more happy for him of kind of how he played and they know the type of commitment he’s made to them and to our team to be as good as he can be for them.

Q: In regards to Saquon in the passing game, how much of his involvement or increased involvement was gameplan wise for that specific game? And why do you think he hasn’t been a bigger factor throughout this year? You mentioned that play that he scored a touchdown on, you guys did it all summer, he’s been asking for it to be called.

A: Again, it was a timely call by Mike (Kafka). We got the exact right look that we had practiced against for the last few weeks. The first 3rd-and-10, he made a nice play on a loose scramble. Then down in the redzone, he’s run that a fair amount. It’s just a little cross, kind of flare type route. So again, they were doing a good job of – two ways you can get him involved, one in the pass game, one in the run game, so we try to use him the best we can. They were doing a good job of preventing some of these runs breaking out. Thought it would help to get him the ball in a couple different spots in the pass game.

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 players are off on Tuesday and there is no media availability to the team. The players return to practice on Wednesday.