-Tommy DeVito: 14-27 / 86 yards / 2 TD – 1 INT
The first career start for Tommy DeVito was his third game with extensive playing time. Even though the numbers look ugly, I can say there is progress with each one of these games. And this is the first time he prepared all week as the starter. Early on, as expected, there appeared to be a lack of rhythm and feel. He missed a couple of easy throws to the flat (equivalent to a layup in basketball or a routine ground ball for a shortstop in baseball) and then evaded non-existent pressure in the pocket, which in turn created pressure. DeVito got to show off his arm a few times and while there was an underthrow deep to Jalin Hyatt that resulted in an interception, he proved he can sling it well to the outside. DeVito can make the throws, he can create with his legs, and there is a toughness about him. With that said, it is glaringly obvious he is in over his head now and offers little chance at leading this team to a win against a quality opponent. It is worth noting that both of his touchdown passes, the second one specifically, were well-placed balls with tempo and touch. Remember, a win here would be DeVito cementing himself as a capable backup for the future.
-Saquon Barkley: 13 att – 66 yards / 1 rec – -5 yards
Another gutsy performance by Barkley who had minimal-to-no space to run through for most of the game. For the second straight week, he averaged over 5 yards per carry. That is the first time we have seen that since weeks 16/17 of 2019. They took him off the field late in the game as it got out of hand and there was no point in exposing him to more injury. Barkley was the victim of a couple poor throws by DeVito as well.
-Matt Breida and Jashaun Corbin got a couple looks late in the game but there was not anything noteworthy. Corbin did catch all three of his targets for 12 yards.
-Darius Slayton led the receiver group with 3 catches and 21 yards. There appeared to be some drama with him on the sideline and at the time of this writing, I’m not sure what happened. There is not much worth commenting on. But after a game where I simply don’t have much for you from an evaluation and analysis perspective, let me say this, the players are frustrated too. This does not even seem like competitive football at times. The offense can barely function and at any given point, it is understandable and even acceptable to see a player lose his cool on the sidelines. This happens more often than people think (on every sideline) but media coverage can sway viewers into thinking a certain way as they look for intra-game storylines in a matchup that offers very little to watch between the lines. That’s all.
-Sterling Shepard caught one pass for a two-yard touchdown. We do not know when he will catch his final touchdown in a Giants uniform and this could have easily been it.
-Wan’Dale Robinson had two catches for 6 yards and Paris Campbell had one catch for 6 yards. They also handed the ball off to Robinson once and even though it ended as a no-gain, it left me wanting to see more of him in this kind of offense. Robinson can be a key part to the team moving forward but we need to see the scheme force-feed him a bit more. Get his experience level up, let him show which plays he can make and which he cannot, and allow the coaches to gain chemistry with the skill set.
-Speaking of breeding experience for the sake of potential future gains, Jalin Hyatt had just one target again. It is the fifth time he has had 1 or less targets in a game. He is being thrown to, on average, once every 21 pass plays. He was underthrown, again. Hyatt almost seems too fast for the NYG quarterbacks no matter who is back there. The effortless burst and always-available next gear is fun to watch but there is much more to chew off here than what we have seen.
-Darren Waller was placed on Injured Reserve after suffering a hamstring injury before facing his former team last week. Daniel Bellinger and Lawrence Cager will see an uptick in playing time and snaps. Even though we have not seen much improvement in year two for Bellinger as a blocker, this set up will likely result in some increased effectiveness in the trenches. He led the team with 34 yards on 2 catches and Cager scored the first NYG touchdown on a 10-yard pitch and catch. His burst and agility showed up and reminded us what he can do in open space. A definite weapon for the Giants to try and use in the coming weeks.
-Tyree Jackson, a former quarterback, saw his first snaps with the Giants and was primarily in there to block.
-Andrew Thomas started at left tackle in consecutive games for the first time since the playoff loss in Philadelphia last January. He pitched a shutout, albeit on 32 out of 57 snaps because of an injured ankle. The positive is that he came back in after the injury and did not look too different than pre-injury. Signs point to him coming back and that means we do not need to watch more of Justin Pugh at left tackle. Thomas also made a couple of key blocks on running plays when they got him moving laterally.
-Pugh essentially split his snaps between left guard and tackle. He allowed 3 pressures and a QB hit and got tossed around in the running game. Pugh and rookie center John Michael Schmitz were displaced by Dallas defenders for most of the game, lacking anchor and balance. Schmitz spends too much time on the ground and the reaction speed looks labored. There are some Evan Neal traits here (no, I am not comparing the level of play to Neal) in that his ability to recover his body control when initially lost is concerning. It will be high up on the list of skills he needs to work on.
-The right side consisted of Ben Bredeson and Tyre Phillips. They both allowed 4 pressures and the latter allowed two sacks, the former allowing one. Bredeson was the bigger disappointment here and it caused issues with DeVito, who already seemed jittery in the pocket early on, as his pressures were right in the face of the undrafted rookie. Phillips at least made a positive impact as a run blocker on some of Barkley’s better runs while Bredeson just did not seem to compete.
-Kayvon Thibodeaux played just 40 snaps before leaving the game with a concussion. On those 40 snaps he did not register a single tackle or pressure. In three out of four games against Dallas, Thibodeaux has one pressure. One of the best performances of his career also came in a matchup against DAL in November of 2022 where he had 9 pressures as he abused Tyler Smith as a rookie (now their left guard).
-Azeez Ojulari returned from his ankle injury he suffered Week 5 in Miami. He played just 17 snaps but did show up a few times. He came up with a big 4th-and-1 stop and had 2 pressures. One of the few positives to keep an eye on in the coming weeks will be when he and Thibodeaux play together. We have not seen it much over the past year and a half.
-Boogie Basham saw an uptick in playing time and Jihad Ward continued his presence as the stout edge setter. Both missed a tackle and Ward added a QB hit, Basham added 4 tackles. For guys who are going to be near non-factors against the pass, I think they need better run game prowess than what they offer.
-Dexter Lawrence had one hurry and one QB hit as a pass rusher. This is the first time we have seen two consecutive “quiet” games out of the sure-thing All Pro. I thought his run defense was exceptional on two fronts, however. He created a logjam inside on multiple occasions that resulted in stops (wins for the defense) and made yet another impressive tackle on the move near the sideline. Do not underestimate how special that ability is from the A-Gap.
-I thought D.J. Davidson flashed late in the game where his snaps saw an uptick. He had 2 pressures and 2 tackles. He has shown a knack for getting to the passer via a strong bull rush. A’Shawn Robinson added 2 pressures and 2 tackles. He gets turned too often in the running game and it hurt the Giants in short-yardage situations. The high pad level has something to do with that. I also see a conditioning shortcoming when he is on the field for longer spurts. He had this issue in Los Angeles as well.
-Rakeem Nunez-Roches played 35 snaps for the second straight week. He made 3 tackles but was a non-factor on 17 pass rush attempts.
-Bobby Okereke and Micah McFadden were solid for most of the afternoon despite DAL averaging over 5 yards per carry. Okereke finished with 11 tackles and a QB hit. McFadden added 6 tackles, 1 TFL, and 1 pressure. Both are seeing the game well, much better than early in the year. I am going to mark them as a positive to this team moving forward which is important. Not having Leonard Williams up front is a problem, however, especially for McFadden. He is getting out-angled by offensive linemen and that is a result of the downgrade up front.
-Isaiah Simmons is a third-down defender and special teamer who remains more athlete than football player. NYG did not give up much for him but I would be lying if I said I was not disappointed by the lack of impact.
-Deonte Banks is inching toward the league lead in flags. He needs to learn to play with and trust his feet. The movement traits are all there. He knows it and we know it. It is easy to see. But when a player gets this grabby it is a sign he lacks the confidence in his ability to make the right reads. That is where he resides right now and good receivers/quarterbacks know how to take advantage of it with lots of double routes and late breaks. This will be the approach with him until he proves he can be better.
-Cor’Dale Flott and Darnay Holmes both picked off Prescott. Flott left the game early with a shoulder injury, opening the door for a lot of different players to try and slow down the Dallas secondary. Simply put, they were burned badly. CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks combined for 20 catches / 324 yards / 2 TDs.
-Nick McCloud allowed 5 catches on 6 targets, Tre Hawkins allowed a 41-yard touchdown where he struggled to locate the ball, Holmes gave up 128 yards on 8 targets. No matter who the Giants threw out there, it was ugly. And the Dallas first stringers did not even play the entire game.
-With the instability at corner (and Adoree’ Jackson being out to begin with) we saw more multiple safety packages. Xavier McKinney and Jason Pinnock were still the mainstays, combining for 19 tackles. McKinney performed better in coverage and Pinnock missed two tackles.
-Dane Belton and Bobby McCain saw most of their snaps in the second half. McCain allowed a touchdown but also broke up a pass while Belton allowed a 28-yard reception on the one pass he was targeted on. He also added a pressure. McCain has surprisingly seen very little action this year, as I thought he would take on the hybrid Julian Love role. Belton is still the guy I want to see more of down the stretch because I want to have a better grasp of what he is. There is talent here but he does not show the proper feel. That could simply be an experience thing.
-K Randy Bullock: 1/1 (Made 40)
-P Jamie Gillan: 7 punts / 50.0 avg – 45.9 net
-OT Andrew Thomas, DT Dexter Lawrence, CB Cor’Dale Flott
-OG Ben Bredeson, CB Darnay Holmes, Nick McCloud
3 THOUGHTS ON DAL
1. Is Dallas as good as some want to believe? I have leaned on point differential when looking at season-long success and evaluation. It is not the only marker, but it does break ties in my head. Dallas is +104 nine games into the season. That is third best in the NFL. But look at these wins they have. 40-point win over NYG, 20 point win over NYJ, 35 point win over NE, 3 point win over LAC, 23 point win over LAR, 32 point win over NYG. Their losses? 12-point loss vs. ARI. 32-point loss vs. SF, 5-point loss vs. PHI. It does not take much analysis to realize they’re head and shoulders above the worst teams in the NFL, but I still have a hard time accepting they are in the same tier with the best the NFL has to offer.
2. DeMarcus Lawrence is playing some of the best football of his career. The 31-year-old is turning into another Cameron Jordan-type player on the back half of his career. Early on he evolved into a double-digit sack guy and league leader in pressures. While his pure pass-rush effectiveness might be a tad less, it is still well above average, and his run defense has turned into an elite trait for an edge defender. This is something all young edge guys should be watching, Thibodeaux included. His power, strength, and techniques have constantly improved, and he is now an every-down threat, one who can line up all over the defensive line.
3. The one area this offense needs to improve the most is in the red zone. This is where they miss Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore and running back Ezekiel Elliot the most. Their offensive line is more than good enough, and their weapons are too. The play calling and execution are not. If they want to win multiple games in January, those hidden points are going to be the deciding factor.
3 CLOSING THOUGHTS
1. Something to keep an eye on I the coming two months of football. How much does Dexter Lawrence and Kayvon Thibodeaux need another big defensive line performer to do their jobs at a high level effectively? Lawrence is playing at better defensive tackle than everyone in the NFL now. Nine weeks in, I can say that with confidence. Thibodeaux is up and down, understandably so with what has been going on around him and the skill set he currently possesses. But since the trade of Williams to Seattle, we can make the case they have been a bit quiet in the passing game compared to where they were. I like Jordon Riley and I like D.J. Davidson, but I am not sold they are the kind of player who will line up next to Lawrence rather than behind him. If we see a quiet Lawrence + Williams duo the rest of the way, another inside pass rusher needs to be a priority in the offseason.
2. At some point we need to start seeing more of Tre Hawkins and Jordon Riley. If/when Gervarrius Owens is up to speed and fully healthy, he needs to be in that group as well. While the Giants offense needs to be the primary focus next offseason, we cannot overlook a defense that has allowed the 4th-most points in the league, 2nd-most yards per attempt in the passing game, and 4th-most yards per rush. I think many are overlooking how bad this defense really is simply because they were solid against the Jets, Commanders, and Bills. And NYG needs a strong grasp on what these guys are.
3. I’ll honest and transparent here. This game review was hard to do. Re-watching that twice from different angles was hard to do. It feels like I am not breaking down professional football right now. But when it comes down to what I am supposed to do for Eric and BBI, I suck it up and do the job the best I can. There is still a lot of football to break down and there are certain players to keep an extra close eye on regarding the future. What disappoints me now is watching how some (not all) members of the media and some (not all) members of the NYG organization cannot seem to maintain integrity and respect for the people that provide the money that allow them to work in football for a living. Made up stories. Trashing a player for spending time with his family. Lame attempts late on a Monday night to act in a condescending manner to fans on X. Yes, all are signs of a losing franchise (an all-time losing team and run of losing teams) but the character of some of these guys can be tough to look past. Break the game down, agree of disagree respectfully, keep the other stuff out. You know who you are, too.