David Syvertsen

David Syvertsen, aka Sy'56, has worked for Ourlads Scouting LLC since 2013, starting off as a college depth chart manager and now a lead scout for one the most-sold NFL draft guides year-in, year-out. He has been scouting for over 10 years and will compile anywhere from 400-600 scouting reports per season, with that number increasing year by year. He watches and studies game films 20-25 hours per week throughout the entire year with his main focus being NFL Draft prospects.

Oct 312018
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Evan Engram, New York Giants (October 28, 2018)

Evan Engram – © USA TODAY Sports

Washington Redskins 20 – New York Giants 13


Just a few days after the Giants shipped off two defensive starters via the trade market in addition to their starting MIKE linebacker being on the sideline, the last-place Giants took on the first-place Redskins and their high-performing defense coupled with an efficient offense. The disparity between these two teams when it comes to the trenches gave this match-up a very bleak outlook from the beginning.

After trading opening possessions, WAS drove down the field via a nice run/pass balance and ended it with a touchdown pass from Alex Smith to the ageless Adrian Peterson. The short pitch, catch, and run into the end zone was aided by a horrible missed tackle by Nate Stupar. Once again, NYG found themselves playing from behind, something they have become very used to, as no team in the NFL has trailed more this season than Big Blue.

NYG broke into WAS territory on consecutive drives but it netted a total of zero points. The biggest negative the first time around was a sack by Matt Ioannidis, 1 of his 2.5 on the day. On the second drive, Eli Manning was intercepted by DJ Swearinger, his first of 2 on the day, on a pass intended for Odell Beckham. The boo-birds started to come out in full effect after that one.

The NYG defense held strong, as they did for most of the day. They forced WAS into attempting a 41-yard field goal which was no-good right away off the foot of Dustin Hopkins, who had made 8 straight prior to that.

Manning came out firing on the next drive, dropping a perfectly-thrown deep ball into the hands of Sterling Shepard but the third year pro couldn’t hold onto it. However, the air game picked up 41 yards on the next three plays as the 2-minute warning approached. 1st and 10 from the WAS 25-yard line and Pat Shurmur, who has vowed to commit this offense to a run-heavy attack, passed the ball three straight times. It resulted in 7 yards and NYG had to settle for a 37-yard field goal. Three straight possessions with a 1st down in WAS territory resulted in a meager 3 points. These are the 2018 New York Giants.

The second half opened with WAS up by a score of 7-3. The first two NYG offensive drives both ended in sacks. A lot of pressure was being put on the Big Blue defense and they did a fine job keeping it within one score for the majority of the game. Hopkins nailed a 53-yard field goal and Manning’s offense came onto the field knowing it just couldn’t get going. They needed to force something and hope for the best. On 3rd and 18, thanks to yet another sack, Manning basically shut his eyes and chucked it downfield with no awareness of where the defense stood. The result was Swearinger coming down with his second interception and the offense walking off the field looking hopeless, again.

This offense wasn’t going to make anything happen, thus the defense had to make a play if there was any hope in this game turning around. Right on queue, Landon Collins forced a Peterson fumble that was recovered by Olivier Vernon and run back for 43 yards. NYG had a 1st and 10 on the WAS 39-yard line. It had a now-or-never feel to it even though there was a minute left in the 3rd quarter and it was only a 10-3 lead for WAS.

On 4th and 3, Manning dropped back and saw pressure coming, making him go to his hot read which was Evan Engram, who led the team in drops last year. The ball went, literally, between his two hands and fell to the ground. Turnover on downs. Momentum gone. Fans packing up. It was an ugly scene.

WAS drove down the field and netted another 3 points via a 39-yard field goal. The next NYG drive included another sack, the 4th of the half. After trading a couple more possessions with the NYG defense holding on for dear life and the offense responding with more poor play, the WAS defense gave NYG a gift. A 46-yard pass interference penalty on a deep ball to Saquon Barkley followed by a 32-yard pickup via a pitch-catch-run to and by Beckham put NYG inside the 5 yard line.

And here we are, back to Shurmur not standing behind his words. NYG had 3 shots at the end zone, and gave the ball to Barkley just one time. Instead of throwing a lob pass to Bennie Fowler, who would be on the street right now if NYG didn’t sign him a few weeks ago, why not hammer it 3 times with the best player on the field? NYG settled on a short field goal to make it 13-6.

After a strong performance for most of the day, the NYG defense finally broke. Peterson shot through a gap and thanks to a poor angle by safety Curtis Riley, he had an easy 64-yard path to the end zone. The score was 20-6 with 3 minutes left in the game.

NYG ended up driving down the field against a prevent defense and scored a late touchdown to, ironically, Engram. It was a 16-play drive that left 20 seconds on the clock. Rosas attempted an onsides kick which was recovered by WAS. Game over.

NYG loses 20-13.


-Eli Manning: 30/47 – 316 yards – 1 TD / 2 INT. It was another frustrating day for the passing game. Manning’s early interception was an absolute killer. His blind heave downfield that resulted in another interception was inexcusable in a one score game. Manning was sacked another 7 times, bringing the season’s number up to 31, the total amount of times he was sacked in 2017 and just 8 short of his career high. The Giants are halfway through the season. It’s hard to see Manning go through this but the case remains that he is not without blame. His entire game looks awfully slow. His mental reactions, his release, his footwork, and his arm. There isn’t any juice there.


-Saquon Barkley: 13 att / 38 yards – 9 rec / 72 yards. The rookie had a tall task, as WAS entered the game with the league’s #3 run defense having already shut down Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliot, and Alvin Kamara, respectively. While he did break the 100-total yards mark for the 6th time this season, the WAS defense kept him in check. I was hoping Shurmur would have given him more carries because even though this offensive line was over-matched at the point of attack, we’ve seen Barkley create on his own.


-Odell Beckham: 8 rec / 136 yards. Respect to Beckham for playing a spirited, high-effort game. He came up with a couple of highlight-reel catches in addition to displaying his after-catch impact. It’s hard not to get down about the fact that this team has two talents on this offense that could be considered the best ever in franchise history at their respective positions, but the brokenness of this roster prevents that from leading to wins. Also, credit to Beckham for keeping his head as the WAS defense made a few off-camera cheap shots on him him and were running their mouths all afternoon.

-Sterling Shepard: 4 rec / 34 yards. Shepard’s most notable play of the day was a drop on a deep ball that would have resulted in 40+ yards. He got both hands on the ball but rookie cornerback Greg Stroman jabbed it loose before they went to the ground. He also had another drop later in the game. Otherwise it was a quiet day for the 3rd year pro.

-Bennie Fowler III got 7 targets on the day, catching 4 balls for 48 yards. 2 catches / 34 yards of which were on the final drive against the WAS prevent defense. Fowler was on the field for 70% of the plays, and was targeted on a key red zone passing play. I think this guy is getting way too much action for who he is. His route running has been low-caliber and he doesn’t make tough plays on the ball. More on this later.


-Evan Engram: 5 rec / 25 yards / 1 TD. Not that this is an overly impressive stat line, but these numbers make his day look a lot better than what it was. The second year pro added 2 drops to a resume that already has plenty of them, one of which was a key moment in the game on 4th down. Engram was also mangled in the running game, often getting pushed back multiple yards by the WAS front-seven defenders and failing to properly locate second-level defenders. Engram still has plenty of time to prove what he can be for this team, but I think the approach to how he is used may need to change. More on that below.

-Rhett Ellison played 40% of the snaps and was targeted once in the passing game. His blocking grade was average, as they have been with him for the majority of his career with NYG.


-Nate Solder can no longer be considered in a slump. We can no longer say he is having a hard time getting acclimated to a new system with new surroundings. Nate Solder is a really bad left tackle. He allowed another sack and 2 more pressures. I compared his grades to Ereck Flowers last year and, believe it or not, Flowers was grading out higher. He is getting bullied, pushed around, and failing to sustain blocks no matter who he is up against. It is a major surprise to me and it’s hard to accept that he is at the very beginning of a long-term contract.

-Chad Wheeler left the game in the second half with an ankle injury, but not before allowing a sack and a TFL. While I still think we can use the “developing” label on him, Wheeler really hasn’t shown improvement throughout the 8 games this season. Brian Mihalik saw his first action in the NYG uniform. He had 2 false start penalties and wasn’t really challenged much as the WAS pass rush was very vanilla. Initially, I don’t see anything worth being optimistic about.


-There must be something in the water at the right guard position because whomever mans that spot has been a weak link among a weak group all season. John Greco now possesses the lowest game grade of the year among all OL. 3 pressures, 2 sacks, and 1 TFL along with a false start penalty made us long for the days of John Jerry. Greco has been getting worse and worse since being put in to the lineup week 2 and has proven why he was a street free agent at this time last year.

-Spencer Pulley also had a poor game at OC. He was getting beat off the ball repeatedly, decreasing the size of the pocket in the passing game and making Barkley redirect his path in the running game. He allowed 1 sack on the day. Will Hernandez had another slightly above average game grade but when you compare him to the rest of this offensive line, he looks like a Hall of Famer. He was late to see a blitz on a play where Manning was sacked, although it looked like it was Barkley’s responsibility. Those lateral-movement blocks appear to still be a problem for him.


-Olivier Vernon had one of his most disruptive games since putting on the NYG uniform. Too bad this isn’t a winning football team because if it were, more would be talking about how well he has been playing since returning from injury. Against one of the top left tackles in the NFL for the majority of the game, Vernon finished with 4 pressures, 1 TFL, and a fumble recovery.

-As expected, Lorenzo Carter is seeing an increase in snaps at the expense of Kareem Martin. That is a very good thing, as Carter already brings more to the table. The quick speed and range in pursuit shows up every week. He had 3 tackles and a pressure. These next 8 games will be very big for his maturation as a player.

-Kerry Wynn added 2 tackles but struggled to impact the game as a pass rusher. His playing time remains too light in my opinion. He needs to be on the field for more than 50% of the snaps each week, and he was around 40% against WAS.


-Just a few days after the trade of Damon Harrison to DET, BJ Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson held down the inside running game for the most part. Hill was active, often breaking into the backfield. He finished with 6 tackles, 1 TFL, and a pass break up. However he was flagged 3 times on the day. Tomlinson added 3 tackles but did lot of the dirty work that goes unnoticed when watching the game casually. He is going to be a very solid NT now that he will be in that role full time.

-Notable effort by Mario Edwards. He was only on the field for 31% of the snaps but he made a few hustle plays. He is really active and has the potential to be the third starter before the year is over.


-Really active day for BJ Goodson, who saw an uptick in playing time with Alec Ogletree out. He led the team with 8 tackles, 1 of which was for a loss. WAS seemed to target him a lot in the passing game, as the book is out on him being a liability in coverage. However, I had several check marks next to Goodson’s name when it came to hustle, physical play, and simply being at the right place at the right time.

-Nate Stupar and Tae Davis basically split the snaps next to Goodson, with Davis getting the edge late in the game. Stupar had 3 missed tackles, one of which was really ugly and led to Peterson’s first touchdown. Davis’ speed and aggression was a plus to see. We know he is going to struggle in traffic because of how small he is, but the undrafted rookie finished with 6 tackles, most of which were outside the tackle box. He has a lot of range and broke up a pass while being matched up against a wide receiver. His one glaring negative was a running-into-the-kicker penalty that gave WAS a fresh set of downs. He will likely see a lot of playing time during these last 8 games.


-With trade rumors swirling around Janoris Jenkins, the 30-year old, 7th-year pro had a solid game in coverage outside of one pass interference penalty. Jenkins really is a solid cover corner, and sometimes you just can’t see it unless you watch the all-22 angle. CB is a really tough position to find and lock down for any team and the fact they didn’t trade him is not necessarily a negative.

-BW Webb started and played the entire game on the other side. While I do think he is better suited in a nickel role, he competed hard. He finished with 4 tackles but also had a 43-yard pass interference penalty. That has been a trend his entire career. Grant Haley got a lot of playing time as the team’s nickel back and I liked what I saw. He finished with 4 tackles and showed good movement, very assertive. His lack of size showed up on 3rd down a few times and that will be a learning experience for him over the second half of the season. There is a lot to like about him.


-Landon Collins has been a nice streak of quality play lately, hence why a few teams were offering a 3rd-round pick for the free agent-to-be. He finished with 5 tackles, 1 TFL, and a key forced fumble that could have really turned this game around.

-Curtis Riley continues to start next to Collins not because of impact or quality play, but by default. He did have a solid play in coverage early on, but Riley took a really poor angle on Peterson’s long 4th quarter touchdown run. As the last line of defense, it was an inexcusable mistake that we are seeing too often with him. That is a big reason why I just don’t see Riley as a starting-caliber FS.


-K Aldrick Rosas: 2/2 (Made 37, 22). Fairly easy and simple day. Rosas has now hit 95% of his attempts on the year.

-P Riley Dixon: 5 Punts / 44.0 avg / 44.0 net. This was Dixon’s best game of the year, nailing 1 inside the 2-yard line and didn’t allow WAS to return any. His best hang time to date kept that net average high.

-KR/PR Quandree Henderson: 2 solid returns on the day. A PR that went for 19 yards and a KR that went for 30. There is definitely some talent there, and this kid makes things happen when he gets the ball in his hands.


-DE Olivier Vernon, LB BJ Goodson, WR Odell Beckham


-TE Evan Engram, OG John Greco, OT Nate Solder


-I picked WAS to finish 9-7 this year and compete for a Wild Card playoff spot. I am still sticking with that and I actually think they have a strong chance at winning the division. Crazy to think with the amount of age they have at RB and QB that they can get to this level. But you know why there are up there? Their OL and DL are among the best in football. How did they get there? Two 1st-round picks and one 3rd-rounder on the OL, three 1st-round picks and one 2nd-rounder on the DL. Take notes NYG, because that is how this thing is going to get turned around.

-Ironic that I was going to write that the one glaring hole I have seen on this defense has been the safety play next to DJ Swearinger. Then they trade for HaHa Clinton-Dix from GB and all of the sudden this defense looks as balanced and stacked as any in the league. He is a great fit next to the physical Swearinger, who is having the year of his life right now.

-The one thing that can hold this offense back (other than injury) is the lack of a go-to pass catcher when this team needs a big play in the air attack. Josh Doctson and Paul Richardson aren’t going to scare anyone and Jordan Reed just hasn’t taken the next step in his career. I hope Evan Engram doesn’t run into that problem, a guy who looks promising but never gets over the hump.


-The trade deadline has come and gone, and it looks like the only real offers were coming in for Collins and Jenkins. NYG opted to pass and that tells me they are going to keep Collins moving forward. Which ultimately means they are ready to pay him top SS dollar which can rightfully be debated on either side. One thing that he offers, other than solid but unspectacular play, is the kind of locker room presence this team needs moving forward. Hard worker, stays clean off the field, and can wear a few hats. Money aside, it is going to take more guys like this to get this thing back on track.

-I don’t think Evan Engram’s days are numbered. Not even close. His drops are a major issue, yes. His blocking presence is a weakness to an offense that will be relying on the run more and more in the coming years, yes. However the talent this kid has is still among the top in the league at the TE position. My thought, and I know it won’t be a popular one is, to experiment with him as a WR the rest of the season. His athletic ability out there may seem much worse than where we see it at TE, but I still think he can be a weapon out there. And to be honest, do we really need to watch Bennie Fowler run routes? Put Shepard/Beckham/Engram at WR and let Ellison see full time snaps at TE. I bet this ends up vastly improving the running game both on inside and outside intentions and the passing game won’t take a hit at all.

-When should NYG decide to sit Manning? Should they sit him at all? The only reason I say yes is to get Kyle Lauletta on the field. However he can’t be rushed on to the field with this OL playing the way it is. It can be a detriment to his progression. With his recent arrest, which I don’t believe is a big deal, I think the likelihood of this happening is very good right now. But the post-bye week would have been perfect to do something like this if everyone was confident he knew this offense well enough.

Oct 242018
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Odell Beckham, Jr., New York Giants (October 22, 2018)

Odell Beckham, Jr. – © USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons 23 – New York Giants 20


Yet another national television game for the worst team in the NFL; Big Blue headed to Atlanta to face off against the equally disappointing Falcons.

The emotions and effort by NYG early on were high. Odell Beckham, coming off a week where Owner John Mara essentially told him to ‘shut up’, got involved in the first quarter for what seemed to be the first time in a long time. The Giants pass rush was getting to Ryan, and Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher was hitting on his all-or-nothing blitz approach. However, the Giants OL prevented the NYG offense from getting into a groove, which should surprise nobody. Manning was sacked twice and pressured 2 more times on their first 2 drives.

The 2nd quarter began at 0-0 and after a couple more back forth drives that included another ATL sack, Ryan connected with seldom-used WR Marvin Hall for a 47 yard touchdown. It was a perfect play call and a perfect pass that left no margin for error by Janoris Jenkins who was left on an island to defend the Falcons fastest pass catcher. A slight misstep forced on the double route by Hall and it was an easy score.

Manning used two big passing gains, one to Beckham and one to Shepard, to get this offense into the red zone. NYG entered as the 5th worst offense in that situation but ATL ranked 2nd worst in defending it. Something was about to give. 1st and 10 from the 13 yard line and, to nobody surprise, NYG threw the ball 3 times. One of the incomplete passes was an easy score but Manning an Beckham weren’t on the same page with the timing. The final attempt resulted in the 4th sack of the half and Saquon Barkley didn’t touch the ball once. So much for committing to the run.

Aldrick Rosas hit a 31 yard field goal but left enough time (:50 seconds), for Matt Ryan to march down into field goal position, thanks very much to a 38 yard pass interference on Michael Thomas. Newly signed Giorgio Tavecchio nailed a 40 yard field goal to put the lead back 7 going into halftime, 10-3.

The second half began with a drive where the momentum was in the hands of NYG. They were sitting 1st and 10 on the ATL 10 yard line much thanks to a 53 pitch, catch, and run to Sterling Shepard. Two plays on the ATL 1 yard line and instead of using Barkley in a downhill fashion, they attempted a jet sweep with him that everyone and their grandma saw coming. Fail. Next up, a nice play-action design that gave Beckham enough room for Manning to get the ball to in the end zone but the 37 year old quarterback, who is showing the reaction speed of a senior citizen, didn’t get the ball out, resulting in an incomplete attempt to 3rd string tight end Scott Simonson in the end zone for the second straight week. Repeated mistakes week after week, a key sign to diagnosing a losing team.

After a lengthy 6 minute drive, ATL was heading towards another score but Jenkins stripped Julio Jones after a catch, causing a fumble that was recovered by Eli Apple.

NYG’s first play following the turnover was a 51 yard deep ball to Beckham. This catch put Beckham over 5,000 career yards, the quickest any WR has ever gotten to that mark since the merger. It also put him over 100 yards for the game, the 23rd time he has surpassed that mark, a new franchise record. Manning was within striking distance with momentum but two miscommunications between Manning and Shepard and Evan Engram resulted in NYG having to settle for another field goal attempt. Manning was visibly upset with those two and he let them hear it. The frustration was boiling over even for a guy that has made a career of not letting the emotional roller coaster of the game impact him.

The 4 point lead didn’t last long, as ATL put another field goal on the board at the start of the 4th quarter. After a 3 and out by NYG, ATL marched down the field as Matt Ryan was in the midst of connecting on his last 18 throws. ATL running back Tevin Coleman scored on a 30 yard touchdown run and NYG was in the familiar 2 score deficit towards the end of the game.

Only then did this offense start to show some life. ATL called off the blitz and stunt dogs, giving Manning some more time to work and it resulted in a strong finish. He was able to spread the ball out, chunk after chunk, which led to NYG’s first touchdown of the night with under 5 minutes left, a Barkley 2 yard run up the gut. Because of the analytics, Pat Shurmur went for 2. The nerds vs. old-school fans can debate this all day but in my opinion there was no right answer there. At the end of the day, this 1-5 team had nothing to lose. The play call was off because in that situation, it is Barkley or bust. Instead Shurmur put the ball into the passing game’s hands and Beckham dropped a ball in the end zone.

ATL had the ball with a 7 point lead and Ryan continued to torch the NYG defense. However not one, but two false start penalties aided a NYG stop near midfield with 2 minutes left. Instead of playing it safe and knowing kickers have superhuman powers against Big Blue, Tavecchio came out with a 56 yard field goal and he nailed it. ATL had a 10 point lead, NYG had no timeouts, and the 2 minute warning was in the rear view mirror.

It didn’t take long for NYG to get downfield via a perfect deep ball to Shepard for 58 yards. Even though a win was a long shot, NYG handled the final minute poorly. With a running clock, 1st down, and on the ATL 1 yard line, NYG tried 2 QB sneaks in a row. Both failed and with 10+ big men in a pile trying (or not trying) to get off each other, 40 valuable seconds came off the clock. Manning finally audibled and threw a desperation throw to Beckham in the end zone and he made an amazing catch which likely receives no credit because there were only 5 seconds left.

NYG failed to recover the onsides kick.

NYG loses 23-20.


-Eli Manning: 27/38 – 399 yards – 1 TD / 0 INT. A new season high in yards for Manning. On paper, it looks like Manning had a quality game. The pressure got into his head a few times, as the line continues to be leaky. However Manning missed an open Odell Beckham for a touchdown on a crucial 4th and goal play in the 3rd quarter. This is where the game almost appears too fast for Manning right now. He isn’t always mentally in it and for a QB that is heavy footed and slow to react, that could be a nail-in-the-coffin note. If he can’t win games with his head, the talent isn’t nearly good enough to make up for it. Manning made several big throws and he did get more aggressive as the game went on, so he clearly isn’t done yet as a thrower. But his reactions need to be more assertive. One extra note here; it seems like Manning is starting to get after his players more often. He went after Shepard, he went after Engram, and he was visibly frustrated by the delay in Beckham’s high-low concept route where he danced around too much when he should have darted for the rear pylon.


-Saquon Barkley: 14 att / 43 yards / 1 TD. 9 rec / 51 yards. Barkley also rushed for a successful 2 point conversion. The running game just couldn’t get off the ground. The offensive line was being pushed back repeatedly and the backside blockers couldn’t cut off their assigned defenders. There were three occasions where Barkley tried to bounce a run outside where he likely should have put his head down and kept going north. That is one part to his game that we will have to accept at times because of how dangerous he can be in space. That said, the decision when to do so needs to be more calculated.


-Odell Beckham: 8 rec / 143 yards / 1 TD. Last week I spoke about Beckham as a route runner where he was dancing around contact too much. Monday night was a different story. Beckham was assertive, full of energy, and back to his play-making ways. A very impressive statistical night, Beckham should have had 2 more touchdowns. One, he mistimed his break and didn’t reach Manning’s pass in time. Two, Manning didn’t trust or react quickly enough on an exceptional goal line route. Beckham played hard, really hard. And when a couple things line up, this is who he can be every week. He did drop a ball on a 2 point conversion late in the game but otherwise it was a very clean performance.

-Sterling Shepard: 5 rec / 167 yards. By far a new career high for Shepard in total yards and yards per catch. He made plays on a long ball and a crossing route with plenty of yards after catch. Is it a coincidence that he has arguably his best game ever on a night where Beckham breaks out? No. The production from these two is correlated and it is something to keep in mind over the next 2 years, as both will be around.

-Newly acquired Bennie Fowler was quietly on the field for 55% of the plays. He hauled in one catch for 11 yards late in the game but he is going to get a shot to be what Latimer was supposed to be.


-Evan Engram: 2 rec / 16 yards – 1 att / 10 yards. It was the first game back for Engram since his MCL injury that forced him to miss 3+ games. He wasn’t a focal point of the offense, as he was only thrown the ball 4 times. For what it’s worth, he looked like he didn’t lose a step and I do expect him to get more looks in the coming weeks.

-Scott Simonson and Rhett Ellison played 11 and 32 snaps, respectively. Simonson got a look in the end zone on 4th and goal. Yes the third string tight end, but the ball was slightly deflected by ATL safety Demontae Kazee. Ellison brought in a couple catches and provided solid run blocking.


-Nate Solder continues to be one of the worst signings not only by NYG, but of the entire 2018 NFL’s offseason. All teams. He allowed 2 pressures and 1 sack in addition to get tossed around like a rag doll in the running game. As I said last week, Solder has been hovering around the same game-by-game grade mark we saw out of Ereck Flowers last year. Yes, that Ereck Flowers. Not nearly what you want out of the highest paid left tackle in the NFL. Chad Wheeler, who also struggled, was at least more consistent. He has some plays where he looks like the undrafted free agent followed by a solid stretch where he looks like he can be the guy at RT if they need a bargain somewhere. He allowed 2 pressures.


-NYG made a move to get OG Patrick Omameh out of the starting lineup which was necessary. Center John Greco moved to RG and Spencer Pulley was put at OC. It didn’t work out very well because these two were most responsible for the lack of push in the running game. Both were exposed as poor lateral blockers and you can be sure WAS paid close attention to that. And they have one of the best DLs in the league.

-Rookie Will Hernandez mightily struggled in this one. The lack of lateral adjustment speed was exposed by Grady Jarrett a couple times, once resulting in a sack. He allowed another sack against Jack Crawford where he was late to see his outside shoulder action. Hernandez was getting jostled around as it looked like ATL zeroed in on trying to confuse him. Hopefully a learning experience for a rookie who has been solid this year.


-In his second game back, Olivier Vernon was quiet statistically with just 2 tackles and 1 pressure but he was near the action on a few occasions when the NYG pass rush broke through. His presence has been a solid addition to the defense. Fellow starter Kareem Martin had an impactful first drive with 1 TFL and 1 pressure but was quiet afterward.

-Kerry Wynn played just a third of the snaps among the deep DL group. He did have a sack though. Lorenzo Carter recorded his 2nd sack of the season. I like what I am seeing out of him progression wise. For a guy who is speed-based, he has done a nice job of not only relying on that. A lot of times you will see young edge rushers simply run up the edge and a good tackle just ride them out of the pocket. Carter stayed low, engaged, and cut inside on his sack. A very nice play out of the 3rd round rookie.


-Solid night out of the two young starters, Dalvin Tomlinson and BJ Hill. Hill recorded a TFL along with a season high 4 tackles, while Tomlinson added 4 of his own. Both were active in pursuit.

-Damon Harrison played under half of the team’s snaps against the pass-happy Falcons. He was solid as usual, but didn’t make any impact plays. If NYG truly is in sell-mode, I expect Harrison to garner attention from a handful of contenders struggling against the run.

-Josh Mauro and Mario Edwards saw a decent amount of action in their respective backup roles. Mauro finished with 1 TFL and Edwards had a sack nullified by an Eli Apple hold. Edwards has been impressive with his violent hands and ability to free himself of the blocker as a pass rusher. It will be interesting to see what he does with the rest of this year.


-Alec Ogletree played a physical game and helped set the tone for a defense that, minus Tevin Coleman’s 4th quarter 30 yard touchdown run, shut down the run game. But the case continues to be repeated where he and his fellow linebackers could not defend the passing game in the middle of the field. There were several plays where they didn’t reach their depth and others where the reaction to underneath routes was a bit too late.

-The rest of the linebacker snaps were split between BJ Goodson, who continues to be overly-one dimensional, Nate Stupar, who is a favorite of the coaching staff but hasn’t made a noteworthy play yet, and rookie Tae Davis. Davis is interesting to me, as he stood out during preseason multiple times. He is young and fast, albeit slightly undersized. He made a couple of backside pursuit tackles that nobody else on this team at linebacker can make. With Ray-Ray Armstrong on IR (since waived), the rest of this year will be a nice tryout for Davis and his future.


-Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple both had the opportunity to perform against Julio Jones, one of the handful of top tier receivers in the NFL. As expected, they had their ups and downs, but neither left the game leaving the NYG faithful feeling good. The one positive is Jones didn’t beat either one of them over the top. In addition, Jenkins forced a Jones fumble that was recovered by Apple in the 3rd quarter. On the flip side, Jenkins was burned for a 47 yard touchdown and Apple was flagged on a key 3rd down sack in the 3rd quarter. Apple was traded the next day to NO for a 4th round pick in 2019 and a 7th round pick in 2020.

-BW Webb, for a free agent that was signed to a cheap 1 year deal in March, has been a very solid nickel corner. He recorded a sack and was solid in underneath coverage.


-We have discussed Landon Collins’ all-or-nothing approach a few times this year as his free agency looms closer and closer. Monday night was one of his better games we have seen. He made a few key tackles, showing great downhill speed and reaction. He also got into Matt Ryan’s face a couple times and recorded a TFL.

-The speedy, physical Curtis Riley continues to hurt and help this team play to play. He did make a key 3rd down stop late in the game, but the ATL passing game attacked him a few times in key situations and it worked out for them. Riley takes poor angles to the action and it is something opposing offenses are taking advantage of. Michael Thomas, who is known for special teams prowess, had one notable play. It was getting pump faked by Matt Ryan and Julio Jones which forced him into a deep pass interference. Even he knows he is over-matched in situations where he is matched up alone against quality WRs.


-K Aldrick Rosas: 2/2 (Made 31, 36).

-P Riley Dixon: 4 Punts / 40.8 avg / 40.8 net. He pinned ATL down inside the 5 early in the game and limited them to no returns throughout all four attempts.

-KR/PR Quandree Henderson impressed in his debut, averaging a NYG season high 14.5 yards on 2 punt returns.


-WR Odell Beckham, WR Sterling Shepard, S Landon Collins


-OT Nate Solder, OG Will Hernandez, CB Eli Apple


-It’s hard to believe this team is 3-4 going into their bye week. There may not be a better WR core in the NFL, and pairing that with an established, top 10 QB in the NFL in this era of football should equate to more wins. Is their defense that bad? Personnel wise I don’t think so. But no team has blown more 4th quarter leads over the past year and a half and I think that Super Bowl let down a couple years ago is still lingering. If you don’t believe in a culture impacting wins and losses, I think you’re nuts. This team doesn’t know how to close games. They find ways to lose. This is why I wouldn’t root against a team simply for a higher draft pick. That stuff is hard to get over.

-Matt Ryan had a 3-4 year stretch where he was the most sacked QB in the NFL. 2013 was the low point. During that run, ATL drafted just 1 offensive lineman per year. Only one of those was in the first 3 rounds (LT Jake Matthews). Ryan’s sack and pressure numbers have gone down a lot. How else did they do it? Their running game improved via two draft picks (Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman) in addition to a solid WR core and an offensive system that asked less of the big boys up front. While I am all about getting new OL talent in for NYG, this team has several holes and it may not simply be that simple. This organization needs to think outside the box, something they have never done.

-One of my favorite players in the NFL who nobody talks about is DT Grady Jarrett. I remember scouting him in 2014 and wanting to put a high grade on him. The size numbers and inconsistent senior season bumped him down. But the talent I saw and he has made a big difference so far. He’s fought injuries but hasn’t missed a lot of games, so his production on paper looks average. The 2019 free agent is a guy I would look real hard at if I am looking for more interior pass rush.


-Last week I spoke about the possibility of trading off some of the few assets this roster has. Well, here we are and NYG is now down 2 starters via the market. CB Eli Apple was sent to NO for a 2019 4th round pick and a 2020 7th. DT Damon Harrison was sent to DET for a 2019 5th rounder. Keep in mind that expecting anything more was foolish. Harrison is a run defender in a passing league who is on the wrong side of 30 with just a year and a half left on his deal. Nobody liked him as a player more than me, but at this point you can’t expect more than that. Not everyone is Jerry Jones when it comes to trading picks. I like both trades because the only way this thing is getting back on track for the long term is via the draft. Get as many picks as possible especially if it means clearing up cap room and getting rid of players who won’t be here a two years from now.

-We are entering the part of the season where we will be watching young players “try out” for their future roster spots. Guys like LB Tae Davis, CB Grant Haley, OT Chad Wheeler, WR Jawill Davis, OC Evan Brown, OT Brian Mihalik…etc. While it will get ugly at times, these will be valuable film sessions to see if there is a diamond in the rough. Turning this thing around is not only about high draft picks and free agent signings… every good team has a few of these overlooked players who came from nothing and turned into something. Keep an eye on these players – it may peak some more interest than usual.

-Another thing to keep laser focus on is the coaching staff. While I know “1 and done” wouldn’t be typical of Mara and his handling of a coach, there is more blame and overall negativity surrounding ownership right now than possibly ever. It could force his hand into literally gutting the entire franchise. If Shurmur continues to under achieve, and I believe he has to this point, him getting the boot can certainly happen.

Oct 152018
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (October 11, 2018)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles 34 – New York Giants 13


The Giants were put on the national spotlight at home against the defending World Champion Philadelphia Eagles. Both teams entered this game feeling they had been underachieving throughout the first third of the season. One of them was right, one of them was wrong.

This had a do-or-die feel to it for NYG. Win this game and they are in the thick of things for the NFC East title. Lose and what many have perceived to be the inevitable “season was over before halfway” would come true. NYG had its destiny in their own hands.

With that said, on the second play from scrimmage, Eli Manning threw an interception on a pass into traffic intended for Scott Simonson. PHI began their first possession in the red zone and it took them just 3 plays to put 7 points on the board via a Carson Wentz-to-Alshon Jeffery touchdown pass on a broken play.

NYG took the punch in stride, putting together a 7-play drive tha resulted in a 33 yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas. NYG gained 60 yards on those 7 plays, 57 of which were by Saquon Barkley in what would prove to be the rookie’s most impressive game of the young season. The division rivals then traded possessions before the Eagles began another possession in NYG territory. Six plays later, Corey Clement punched his way into the end zone to make it a 14-3 lead for the road team.

The score remained 14-3 for the first half of the second quarter, as NYG continued to perform like a bottom tier offense on third down. For an offensive system that talks all week about establishing and sticking to the run, NYG sure had a hard time sticking to the plan in this one yet again. The prime example of this misnomer Pat Shurmur has created was when NYG had a 1st and goal from the 4 yard line. They gave one rush to Barkley before throwing, something they continue to struggle to do, two times in a row. The second of which was a pass intended for the third string tight end Simonson. NYG did get 3 points on the board to make it 14-6, but it was an opportunity that was badly missed by this staff.

It took under 1:30 of game clock for PHI to put more points on the board, many thanks to Eli Apple losing track of Nelson Agholor, who gained 58 yards. Wentz then hit Zach Ertz for a 10 yard touchdown on the next play. After another 3 and out by the NYG offense, PHI padded their lead to 24-6 and NYG entered halftime down 18 at home, a place they had won just 2 of their last 10 games.

PHI came out hot in the second half, looking like their 2017 selves. It was 31-6 before the NYG offense got the ball back via another touchdown pass from Wentz to Jeffery. There was one more shot of energy put into the Giants, however. Barkley took a handoff 50 yards to pay dirt, showing a burst through the PHI defense that you just don’t see often in this league. Even if it was false hope, it was a positive to see. PHI put together a 13-play drive that netted another 3 points. With at least some energy in the stadium, Wentz hit Jordan Matthews for a first down on 3rd and 14 on a simple slant. It was a subtle but powerful reminder how bad this team is when something big is needed.

The score was 34-13 towards the beginning of the 4th quarter and the look on everyone’s faces said it all. This season is over just 6 weeks in. The offense is broken on all levels. There is no leadership or accountability in the organization. There is no identity on either side of the ball. And lastly, one of the most storied franchises in the NFL is now in some of the darkest times of its history.

Eagles win 34-13.


-Eli Manning: 24/43 – 281 yards – 0 TD/1 INT. In arguably the biggest game of the year to date, Manning had his worst performance of the season. Starting the night off with a terrible interception was such a blow to the stomach. It really took the wind out of the sails initially and even though he has always made a habit out of bouncing back, there was a strong feeling it was going to be one of those nights literally just seconds into the first quarter. Manning’s downfield passing was off all night, his footwork in the pocket was horrid, and he is showing that even though the situation around him is less than ideal, he isn’t making things happen on his own.


-Saquon Barkley: 13 att / 130 yards – 1 TD – 9 rec / 99 yards. The start to Barkley’s career just keeps getting better and better. He is already in rare territory for a rookie and when it comes to production-per-touch, he is scratching the surface of league leader-territory. He was responsible for all three of NYG’s longest plays (55, 50, 46 yards) where the vision, balance, reaction, and burst were all on display. What I like to see the most here is Barkley does lower his shoulder and get the dirty yards when needed. I can still see some slight hesitation to his game but for a kid who is literally just 6 games into his career, things couldn’t be off to a better start.

-Wayne Gallman saw 17 snaps, 26% of the offensive plays. He gained 42 total yards on 6 touches with an impressive 3rd and long conversion on a play where he gained most of the yards after the catch. This is, and will be, Barkley’s backfield but having the right compliment behind him is important. Gallman has the burst and versatile skill set to be that guy for a long time and the rest of the season will be a long term tryout for him.


-Odell Beckham: 6 rec / 44 yards. After a slightly discouraging PR week for Beckham, whom has been fined by the team for comments made to the media and was forced to apologize to teammates in a team meeting, a big game paired with a win could have made that situation disappear but the complete opposite happened. Beckham never got into the flow, was missed deep a couple times, and only impacted the game via the short passing game a few times. Something I noticed about Beckham from the All-22 is a lack of separation as a route runner. I don’t think anything is physically wrong, as the elite burst is still there. However Beckham is doing way too much dancing at the point of attack. He is taking way too long to get into his actual route, and time is something Manning doesn’t have when he drops back. The timing of these two is completely off. There is a very uneasy feeling with Beckham right now when it comes to his relationship with the team.

-Cody Latimer made his first real impact of the season, catching 3 passes for 52 yards, including one that went for 39. The newly signed veteran who was supposed to be a balancing act to the Beckham/Shepard duo only played half the snaps, as he appeared to still be a little banged up. Latimer was thrown a deep ball into the end zone where he didn’t track it well and mightily slowed down as the ball had a touchdown written all over it. Not sure what happened there but NYG can’t afford those mistakes.

-Sterling Shepard was held to 37 yards on 3 catches. He was the victim of a couple missed penalties that could have resulted in big plays.


With both Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison out, Scott Simonson got the start. He was in for all but 2 offensive snaps and performed well as a blocker. He did allow 1 pressure, but he was a difference maker on a few of the positive runs NYG had. He is a very limited athlete, as seen on a couple of the throws that went his way. He doesn’t adjust well to the ball and his reactions are delayed. He is a third stringer for a reason.


-It’s been 6 weeks since Nate Solder has taken over the starting left tackle job and it is fair to say he has been one of the more eye opening disappointments of the season. He allowed a sack that nearly resulted in a safety on a play where he barely even touched Michael Bennett. In addition, he allowed 2 pressures and failed to make an impact as a run blocker. His man was often leaking into the backfield and when it comes to grades, Solder hasn’t been much better than Flowers was last year. That’s pretty scary.

-Chad Wheeler allowed 3 pressures, more of the same from him. A young kid who competes hard and will make plenty of hustle-blocks, but the separation in talent between him and a good DE is significant.


-Patrick Omameh took a big step back and I am seeing more and more similarities between him and John Jerry when it comes to the inconsistency. He was overmatched by Fletcher Cox on multiple occasions, allowing 2 pressures and a sack all in the second half. His lack of urgency off the snap often puts him at a point of initial disadvantage position-wise.

-Will Hernandez allowed a sack as well, along with a pressure. However he had some of the most key blocks on Barkley’s big plays. He has improved as an adjustment-blocker, meaning he is putting less movement into initial reads and showing more balance and patience when reacting to the defense. This is exactly what you want to see out of a rookie lineman.

-John Greco continues to worsen each week. He was being pushed back on a routine basis and missing blocks at the second level. He also had an inexcusable false start penalty in the 2nd quarter when NYG started to gain momentum.


-Olivier Vernon finally returned from injury was one of the bright spots for NYG in this game. The pass rush has been bottom tier all season, but Vernon came back and recorded a sack in addition to 2 pressures. He made All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters look silly at times. He didn’t impact the run game at all, however. He has been a very all-or-nothing type player since signing with NYG but he does help this defense a lot when he is on the field.

-Kerry Wynn had another solid game with 6 tackles, 2 of which for a loss, along with a pressure.

-The trio of Lorenzo Carter, Kareem Martin, and Connor Barwin was near non-existent for most of the game. Martin got to Wentz a couple times early to impact his throws, but for the most part these three were completely neutralized.


The starting trio of Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, and BJ Hill continued to play solid football. PH averaged just over 3 yards per carry, which can strongly be attributed to these three. Something of note here is that Harrison played less than 50% of the defensive snaps despite PHI running the ball so much. There seemed to be less pop in his game at the point of attack. With Tomlinson clearly showing he is not nearly on the same level as a nose tackle, this could present a major problem.

-Josh Mauro and Mario Edwards played sparingly and failed to make an impact.


-Alec Ogletree had an active game, recording 8 tackles, 1 of which was for a loss. He also had a pressure and a personal foul penalty when the game started to get out of hand. He did miss 2 tackles on the night and allowed 2 catches over the middle.

-Ray-Ray Armstrong, whom has won the starting gig next to Ogletree, was injured in the second half. BJ Goodson stepped in and actually had a really strong showing. He had 6 tackles, a few of which were impressive combinations of rangy and physical, to go with 2 pressures. Goodson has always been known for his ability to blitz, and I expect to see more of it if Armstrong is out for any time.


-Eli Apple is in the midst of his best stretch of football since being drafted in 2016. He had another productive night, breaking up 3 passes. However the mental lapses that we have grown used to with him reappeared on a couple of occasions. His situational awareness is still a weakness when it comes to plays that are breaking down and on third down. The talent is there and it shows up on tape, but he doesn’t show the feel that good corners have. He also missed 2 tackles on the night.

-Janoris Jenkins was challenged downfield often. He did a fine job other than a pass interference penalty, but there seems to be something missing from his game. He isn’t forecasting well like he usually has in the past, and there isn’t as much aggression to his game underneath. BW Webb continues to be a bend-don’t break type slot corner.


-Landon Collins led the team with 10 tackles, no surprise there. But the trend continues with him. He is an important player who can make things happen, but he simply gets beat too often. He missed 2 tackles and was responsible for at least one of the touchdown passes thrown by Wentz. Nobody can expect perfection out of him or anyone, but I feel there are just too many plays allowed by Collins weekly. Something to think about as his FA days are coming.

-Curtis Riley made 6 tackles with 1 miss. This actually was one of his better games. He cut off a few deep routes that it appeared Wentz was looking for. He also made two really physical tackles. Riley is one of just a few defenders that I never see take a play off.


-K Aldrick Rosas: 2/3 (Made 33,21 and Missed 52). Rosas had been perfect until that long miss, where he came up just a few yards short. It looked like the quad injury limited him on that a tad.

-P Riley Dixon: 5 Punts – 50.6 avg / 41.1 net. There have been a handful of big punt returns this year by the opposition. Dixon can be partially to blame, as the hang time falls into the bottom-half-tier in the NFL.


-RB Saquon Barkley, EDGE Olivier Vernon, EDGE Kerry Wynn


-QB Eli Manning, OT Nate Solder, OG Patrick Omameh


-Prior to the season, I projected 11-12 wins for the defending Super Bowl champs no matter how long Wentz was going to be out. After a rough start, I expect that projection to live on and play out. This team is loaded on both sides of the ball and Wentz looks like he is hitting the stride that he couldn’t grasp because of how long he was out during preseason.

-The PHI defensive line is as deep as any in the league. Fletcher Cox is the star of the group, but you could really see how important it was to have fresh bodies in there running around in the second half. The strategy of building as much depth within the DL as possible has always been a solid, winning strategy. PHI has 3 of their own drafted first rounders and signed 2 former 1st rounders in free agency. Something to think about as this hole-filled NYG franchise rebuilds.

-The one Achilles heel to this PHI team resides on the health of their offensive tackles. 36 year old Jason Peters looks like a shell of his former self and Lane Johnson seems to be limping off the field weekly. If one or both of these guys does down, it is going to really hurt this offense that is reliant on lengthy pass protections.


-Now that the season appears to be all but over, the end-of-month trade deadline looms. There is talent on this team that can help a winner, but should NYG be shopping any of their players for future draft picks? I am all about going into the draft with a surplus of selections, as it is the best way to build a long-term winner. Two names I would be throwing out there? Landon Collins and Sterling Shepard. Two popular names, but two players who I think can be replaced quickly and net the Giants an extra day 2 pick.

-One of the worst parts to this roster situation overall is the lack of assurance that someone on the bench could come in and out-perform some of the current underachievers. While I would love to see a new OC/RG combination at some point, nobody is good enough to give even a little hope of improvement. Same can be said at safety. It’s gonna be a tough thing to watch for 10 more weeks.

-When will Eli Manning be benched in favor Kyle Lauletta? If this team is mathematically out of it with 4-5 weeks left, you have to think it will happen at some point. I’m not sure it will make a heavy impact ton how NYG approaches the draft, but you never know. This regime drafted Lauletta and they likely want to see him in NFL game action at least a few times so they can throw that into the decision process next spring.

Oct 092018
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (October 7, 2018)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers 33 – New York Giants 31


Coming off a bye week, the 2-1 Panthers played host to the 1-3 Giants. It was a sunny, hot and humid day to the point where it had an impact on several players towards the end of the game.

For the third straight week, NYG put points on the board first, this time via a 42-yard field goal by the so-far perfect Aldrick Rosas. That lead didn’t last long, however, as the Panthers took advantage of poor tackling on multiple occasions including a 25 yard wide receiver screen to Curtis Samuel where Alec Ogletree, Landon Collins, Janoris Jenkins, and BW Webb all had a shot at bringing down the second year pro but failed prior to him reaching pay dirt.

Manning and the offense put together a solid drive, marching back into CAR territory but were met with a 4th and 3 on the 39 yard line. Rather than trying a long field goal, Manning hit Beckham in the hands but the ball fell to the ground. Momentum started to shift and that hit the overdrive button when CAR later punted just to have Beckham make another mistake, letting the live ball hit him in the foot while he tried to take out a gunner to prevent him from downing the ball. After a failed attempt to pick up the ball by Janoris Jenkins, CAR recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. That put them up 14-3.

The Giants followed that with a 3 and out and CAR took their lead to 14 points via the first of four Graham Gano field goals. The NYG sideline looked quiet and dejected with the common “Here we go again” type feel that we have grown used to.

NYG pulled a trick out of the bag to get this team woken up. A double pass from Eli-to-Beckham-to-Barkley resulted in a 57 yard touchdown. We all know the amount of talent on this offense is more than it has ever been and to see the two young playmakers who will be here for years come out with a play like this shot energy into the entire team. Still down 7 points, it was at this point you knew NYG was going to fight back.

CAR and NYG traded field goals to end the half and the halftime score was 20-13. NYG forced a 3 and out and after a 13-play drive that included a big Barkley run, missed penalties by the refs, and a 4th and 1 conversion, Rosas kicked his third and final FG of the day through the uprights to get NYG within 4. The action then began to pick up.

Newton threw an interception on what appeared to be a wrong route by rookie TE Ian Thomas. The momentum was there for the taking but Manning gave it right back just 4 plays later, his first of two interceptions on the day. CAR took advantage of a horrific, ill-timed miscall by the refs on a 3rd down stop by the NYG defense. Landon Collins was called for a helmet-to-helmet personal foul on a play where he and Funchess were both clearly diving for the ball. CAR scored a touchdown via catch and run by Christian McCaffrey 4 plays later. The Giants secondary suffered a major miscommunication on this one. If NYG was going to make a move, they had to move fast at this point, as it was a 2 possession, 11 point game.

Manning then threw his second interception of the day and the wind was out of the sails. The game looked over. In typical Cam Newton fashion, the 8th year pro rushed himself into a pointless, poor throw right into the arms of Janoris Jenkins. He added 29 yards to the return and gave NYG a ray of hope once again.

Two plays later, Manning found Beckham for a 33-yard touchdown, which was followed by a successful 2 point conversion attempt, getting NYG within 3. CAR then took nearly 6 minutes off the clock via the Newton show. He was gaining valuable yards on the ground and hitting receivers in stride to get CAR within field goal range. CAR added 3 more points and left just 2:16 on the clock for NYG, who was out of timeouts.

Once again, Manning and the NYG offense didn’t need long to put the ball in the end zone. This time it took just 4 plays which was highlighted by a 40-yard downfield connection to Russell Shepard, immediately followed by a 15 yard dump off to Barkley who leapt 16+ feet in the air into the end zone.

NYG took a 1-point lead, their first lead since the 7:30 mark in the first quarter.

After a couple of chink plays by the CAR offense, the reffing controversy continued, as Christian McCaffrey was given a questionable first down on a 3rd and 1 rushing attempt. With the clock ticking down from 30 seconds and no timeouts left, the quick trigger first down gave Newton an opportunity to spike the ball. From the NYG 45 yard line, Gano lined up for a 63 yard field goal attempt. And for the second year in a row, NYG loses on a 60+ yard field goal in the closing seconds to lose the game.

Panthers win 33-31.


-Eli Manning: 22/36 – 326 yards – 2 TD / 2 INT. We saw the best 2018 version of Manning late in the game after his second interception of the day. Down 27-16 with just under 9 minutes left, it only took Manning 6 plays from scrimmage to lead this team to a 1-point lead with under 2 minutes left. It was the typical roller-coaster ride for him, as he made a couple of bonehead throws that resulted in turnovers (and 1 that was luckily batted away by Odell Beckham) just to see him come back late and nearly lead the team to another 4th quarter win via a clutch performance. There was more room in the pocket and he seemed to be a bit more comfortable moving within it. A solid game for the 15th year pro.


-Saquon Barkley: 15 att / 48 yards – 4 rec / 81 yards – 2 TD. For the fifth consecutive game to start off his career, Barkley totaled over 100 yards from scrimmage, just the 3rd time that has happened in NFL history. Barkley was getting misdirected at the point of attack several times thanks to the middle of the line getting beat off the ball consistently. He was, however, able to rattle off a couple of big runs via bouncing it to the outside. Barkley’s 2 touchdowns via the air just further exemplified his overall impact on the game. NYG fans shouldn’t take for granted how sure his hands are and what he is capable of doing after the catch. Barkley’s two biggest runs were a part of 2 separate scoring drives, respectively. When this kid makes a play, this team scores points. Plain and simple.


-Odell Beckham: 8 rec / 131 yards – 1 TD. Beckham also threw a 57 yard touchdown pass to Barkley on a double pass. Watching those two change the scope of the game goes to show just how good things can happen here if the accessory components improve. Beckham did have a couple of big plays, but there were three negatives that have to be discussed as well. He had 2 drops in this one. First one was a 4th and 3 pass that would have resulted in a first down. The next was a 50/50 ball in the end zone that Odell had both hands around but had it knocked out on the way down by CAR corner James Bradberry. Some will say it wasn’t a drop, but when you have both hands on the ball as you come down to the ground, the best will hold on. Lastly, arguably the worst play of the day, was the result of Beckham being unaware of where a punt was coming down, as it hit his leg while he was trying to block a gunner from downing the ball, which rolled around and ended up resulting in a CAR touchdown. It’s an inexcusable mistake and it really cost the Giants.

-Sterling Shepard: 4 rec / 75 yards. NYG has to be happy with the 3rd year pro who is really coming into his own. He is proving to be more than a slot receiver who can get open underneath. Shepard is gaining separation from corners on all levels of the defense and a standout attribute to his game is how fast he explodes downfield after the catch. Best days are ahead for him.

-Russell Shepard saw a season-high 4 targets with 3 rec / 42 yards. It’s funny how this guy who isn’t blessed with noteworthy size or speed always seems to work his way into a healthy dose of targets no matter who he plays for. Manning looked his way in key moments, a good sign because it will make defenses stay away from zeroing in on Beckham and Barkley so much. Jawill Davis also added 2 catches for 27 yards, including a 22 yarder. It looks like these two may have passed Cody Latimer on the depth chart.


-Rhett Ellison played all but 1 snap in this one. He added 2 catches for 17 yards but also caught the key 2 point conversion on the first of two 4th quarter touchdowns to put them within a field goal. Ellison continues to be very up and down as a blocker. He allowed 2 TFL, as he seems to be struggling to block to his outside shoulder. In the same breath, he does a nice job blocking inside gaps.

-Scott Simonson continues to be an extra blocking presence and he is improving weekly. He offers little-to-nothing as a receiver.


-Overall a solid game for both Nate Solder and Chad Wheeler. They didn’t have to deal with a lot of stunts and/or blitzes, which helped. Solder got turned around badly a few times, and it looks like he just got caught guessing wrong a few times. It’s a little alarming but he does a nice job in recovery mode, for what it’s worth. Wheeler allowed a TFL but held his own against Julius Peppers, who still has plenty left in the tank. Wheeler is still struggling against quickness to his inside shoulder, something to keep an eye on.


-Rookie Will Hernandez continues to be the best of this trio. He may even grade out to be the top OL on this team by year’s end. He was fortunate on two occasions that the ball was out really quick on plays he got beat off the ball badly. He still has a tendency to rely too much on his reach/punch rather than move himself into proper position via footwork. That said, he is on a nice run right now. He allowed 1 pressure on the day.

-Center John Greco and right guard Patrick Omameh really struggled in this one. Greco allowed 2 pressures and was being pushed back all afternoon. It’s hard to run the ball inside when the point of attack is consistently being pushed back 1-2 yards. Omameh was getting beat off the ball as well, more so because he was slow. He was in recovery mode often, allowing 2 TFL.


-Kareem Martin led the edge defenders in snaps played, yet he made the least amount of impact. That is a continuing trend for the for the 5th year pro who has never recorded 2 sacks in a season. Martin had a terrible offsides penalty on a CAR punt that led to CAR opting to go for it on 4th down and successfully converting. When we talk about a front seven that just doesn’t make anything happen, he is front and center.

-Kerry Wynn had another solid game. He had 2 tackles, 1 of which was for a loss, and a pressure. He was flagged for a horrendous roughing the QB penalty that I will not fault him for, as he literally pushed Newton’s chest right after he threw the ball.

-Lorenzo Carter played just under half of the team’s snaps. They tried to move him around more than normal, sending him on delayed inside blitzes and a couple QB-spy type roles. He finished with a TFL but failed to make an impact as a pass rusher. Even with a head of steam, his impact on blockers was minimal all afternoon, as there isn’t enough variety to his game. Connor Barwin had 2 tackles and a sack. I’ll say it again, this guy has been a very solid depth-addition for this front seven. His best days are behind him but there is plenty of juice left in those legs along with a relentless approach.


-Dalvin Tomlinson and Damon Harrison both played just over half the team’s snaps. I think that may be a trend we see with Harrison especially. He finished with 4 tackles and 2 TFL, clearly outclassing one of the best OC’s in the game Ryan Khalil.

-Josh Mauro saw his first action as a Giant, as he returned from his 4 game suspension. He didn’t stand out but he adds another capable body against the run. He and Mario Edwards each had a tackle along with some under the radar space-eating that was valuable for the solid run defense.

-BJ Hill had a very up and down game. The Giants leading sack-artist had 5 tackles, making things happen at the point of attack. However he had 3 occasions where he was blown off the ball from the side, which led to solid CAR running gains.


-Alec Ogletree had 6 tackles on the day in an otherwise nondescript performance. He was a key defender in stopping a Cam Newton QB sneak attempt. Ray-Ray Armstrong, the former safety who has been steadily taking snaps away from BJ Goodson, has struggled the past 2 weeks. Goodson got some snaps back but I thought Armstrong stepped it up a notch. He finished with 4 tackles and a TFL. Goodson added 4 tackles as well.


-Eli Apple returned to action, only allowing a couple catches. His technique in and out of his backpedal, and the body control he shows after making his reads, have been outstanding. Sure would be nice to see him further his development into a quality cornerback. He did miss 1 tackle on the day.

-Janoris Jenkins continues to be an up and down corner, as are a lot of quality players at this position. He broke up a pass and intercepted another. What impresses me a lot about Jenkins is even though he lacks ideal size against a WR like CAR’s Devin Funchess, he can always play big. I noticed that about him at training camp in 2017 and it is a consistent positive attribute to his game.

-BW Webb continues to dominate the nickel snaps over Donte Deayon. He was flagged for a holding penalty which he strongly disagreed with and then bumped into the ref while arguing. That lack of self-control led to another 15 yard penalty. Thankfully Newton threw an interception soon after. While I hate to see stupid penalties like that, this team is showing more emotion that we’ve seen in recent years. Webb played spirited football after that penalty, including a pressure and a tackle for loss.


-Landon Collins had another active game, leading the team with 8 tackles while adding a pass break up and a pressure. His pressure forced Newton into an early throw on the Jenkins interception. Once again, however, he was in the middle of a couple miscommunications in coverage. Hard to say who’s at fault, especially on the McCaffrey touchdown reception, but this is where leadership needs to take over. He also missed 2 tackles, a major no-no from safeties in my book.

-Curtis Riley did have an interception. You can call it “easy” if you want, but he was in the right place at the right time and this defense has been begging for someone to make a play for weeks. He did exactly that. His tackling remains an issue, however. He had 2 more misses.


-K Aldrick Rosas: 3/3 (Made 42, 53, 36). Rosas is still perfect on the year, a noteworthy fact to the season that could be a major part of this team turning things around. The 53 yarder is a new career-long. That said, Rosas booted a kickoff out of bounds in the 2nd quarter, setting up CAR in good field position on a drive that led to 3 points.

-P Curtis Riley: 2 punts / 49.5 avg / 51.0 net. Quiet day for Dixon and a rare day of a longer net average than punt average.

-PR Odell Beckham had the biggest bonehead play of the day, allowing a live ball to hit him in the foot which resulted in 7 points for CAR. He did add a 15 yard return later.


-CB Janoris Jenkins, RB Saquon Barkley, OG Will Hernandez


-OC John Greco, OG Patrick Omameh, EDGE Kareem Martin


-It’s interesting to see how this CAR team develops, as current NYG General Manager Dave Gettleman laid the groundwork. A lot of attention has been put on the offensive and defensive lines with successful draft picks. That is the biggest difference between NYG and CAR when it comes to roster building in recent years. CAR has some holes to fill, as do most teams, but they are reliable in the trenches for the most part. That can win games as much as anything.

-Another topic of debate that is often discussed here is the value of linebackers in today’s NFL. CAR spent 1st round picks on both Luke Kuechly (2012), Shaq Thompson (2015) along with Thomas Davis (2005) whom returns from suspension this upcoming week. When I watch the second level of a defense like CAR, DAL, JAC, etc., the notion only grows stronger that spending 1st and 2nd round picks on the position is a good idea.

-When CAR let go of Josh Norman, many in CAR were unhappy. They viewed him as a top tier corner and CAR had very little behind him. James Bradberry, however, in his third season as a 2nd round pick, is becoming one of the more underrated at the position in the league. He is really physical and savvy.


-The Giants scored 2 touchdowns in 6 plays during the 4th quarter. What was the theme we saw on those two “drives” that we don’t see elsewhere? Downfield throws. Maybe Beckham is onto something when he says this offense hasn’t been doing enough of that.

-With that said, I don’t have major issues with Beckham going to the media discussing his negative thoughts on how NYG is playing. Losing breeds this kind of stuff, plain and simple. But one thing I didn’t see? Beckham hasn’t stated that his shortcomings are part of the problem. And he has a few things to clean up. He had 2 awful mistakes in this loss alone, and a third mistake that the best do not make. If he wants to be touted as a world class player, he can’t make those mistakes. Take some ownership Odell.

-The lack of pass rush on this team is downright scary. It doesn’t get discussed enough because there is such an unhealthy obsession to discuss Eli and his future replacements, etc. The NYG pass rush might be bottom 3 in the league from what I observe. And yes I know everyone wants a shiny new toy at QB in the next draft, but there are going to be 2 or 3 top tier pass rushers in this upcoming class. And you better believe I am going to be leaning in that direction at times especially if no QB overly stands out.

Oct 022018
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 30, 2018)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints 33 – New York Giants 18


Two of the 5 longest tenured quarterbacks in the NFL went head to head at MetLife Stadium as the 2-1 Saints and their dangerous offense came to take on the 1-2 Giants who gained some momentum last week in Houston.

NYG kept that momentum rolling with an early 7-0 lead on a short Eli Manning pass to Sterling Shepard. It was a drive full of chunk-yards acquired in a variety of ways. The Giants offense was “rolling” if you want to call it that as a continuation from last week. The Giants defense forced a 3 and out, or so they thought. In typical aggressive Sean Payton fashion, NO executed a fake punt from their own territory. 11 plays later NO got on the scoreboard with a 42 yard field goal.

The Giants began with second quarter a shot to their own foot, an offensive pass interference on Russell Shepard that pushed them into a very unfavorable 1st and 20. The conservative NYG offense paired with a defense that had this scheme pegged correctly all afternoon made that a near-impossible hill to climb. Once again the NO offense drove up the field with little-to-no issues presented by the NYG defense. They were also aided by a phantom horse collar tackle called on Janoris Jenkins. NO got within one, as kicker Will Lutz knocked through his second field goal.

This was the point where NYG needed to show their offense was actually on the right track. However on 1st and 10 at midfield, backup running back Wayne Gallman fumbled on initial contact and it was scooped up by CB Marshon Lattimore who brought it back to the NYG 11 yard line. The NYG defense continued their bend-don’t-break theme, holding the elite offense to their third field goal in as many drives.

NYG then started to revert to their weeks 1 and 2 ways, meaning a 3 and out and a lack of flow. Manning misfires, no time in the pocket, and being put into very unfavorable 3rd down situations. Brees brought the Saints offense into the red zone via a 25 yard gain on a screen pass to star running back Alvin Kamara and all of the sudden they were back in the red zone. Once again, the NYG defense did a solid job of holding them to yet another field goal for the fourth drive in a row. This brought the half to an end, NYG was down 12-7 but it could have been so much worse.

The Giants lack of commitment to the run game was as evident as ever in their first possession of the second half. Barkley gained 5 yards on their first play and from there on out, NYG threw the ball 6 straight times and even though yards were gained, the dink and dunk approach eventually led to a sack that once gain put them in an insurmountable 3rd down position. They returned the ball to NO and the sleeping giant, the Saints’ offense, scored their first touchdown of the day on a 9 yard run by Kamara.

NYG did respond with a field goal largely thanks to their biggest gain of the day, a 28 yard run by Barkley. The score was 19-10 and the NYG hope was hanging on by a thread. Someone on this defense needed to step up and make a play. A turnover, a sack, something.

The 4th quarter began with a 14 play, 6:39 drive that resulted in the Saints second touchdown of the day, a physical 3 yard run by Kamara. Down 16 with under 7 minutes remaining, NYG put together a touchdown drive against a prevent defense. It was capped by an impressive Barkley touchdown where he jumped over everyone on the field. After a successful 2 point conversion, it was a 1 possession game with just under 4 minutes remaining.

Confidence wasn’t high until the NO kick returner Ted Ginn muffed the kickoff, struggled to regain control of the ball, and ended up being tackled on the NO 2 yard line. The crowd once again had juice. And then the worst of 4 badly missed calls by the refs took place. Dalvin Tomlinson jumped the snap and was about to hit Brees before he hit the back of his drop back in their own end zone, but center Max Unger got away with a tripping penalty and a few seconds later Brees threw the ball downfield on the move and connected with tight end Josh Hill for a 21 yard gain.

NO then, piece by piece, like watching a slow death, made their way to midfield. The two final kicks to the NYG chances were a 3rd down pass interference call on Donte Deayon and one final touchdown run by Kamara, a 49 yard dash up the middle.

Saints win 33-16.


Eli Manning: 31/41 – 255 yards – 1 TD / 0 INT. After a step forward in Houston last week, Manning and the offense took another two steps back against a defense that had given up an average of 34 points per game over the first three weeks. Manning was getting the ball out in under 2.0-2.5 seconds for the vast majority of the day. Think about how much a play can truly develop in that amount of time. Manning looked a little gun shy, a little shaky and hoppy in the pocket. Most of the time, it was warranted. The pocket was small (especially in contrast to what Drew Brees had to work with) and the Saints secondary was defending against the deep ball from the beginning. Through 4 games, Manning is completing 74.2% of his passes. That mark, in his 15th season, is the highest it has ever been throughout the first 4 games of any season. He’s been sacked 15 times already, fourth most in the NFL. With all of that said, Manning missed three throws that I would consider on the easy/simple side and is letting the situation around him make him worse, to be blunt. As hard as it may be, he is a $22+ million quarterback that needs to play better if this team is going to turn it around.


-Saquon Barkley: 10 att / 44 yards / 1 TD – 6 rec / 56 yards. It wasn’t a very impactful day for the rookie. However when 100 total yards on just 16 touches is considered a quiet day, we have to keep things in perspective. When Barkley did hit a little groove, it is easy to notice how his presence impacts the defense. As a blocker, this was the first time he graded out negatively. He is never going to get a ton of action in that department, but he needs to be better than he was Sunday. He allowed 2 pressures.

-Wayne Gallman: 2 att / 6 yards – 3 rec / 17 yards. Gallman’s biggest play of the day was a negative. He fumbled after a first down catch, which Saints CB Marshon Lattimore returned to the NYG 11 yard line. It turned into 3 points for the Saints, which took the lead from NYG.


-Sterling Shepard: 10 rec / 77 yards / 1 TD. Shepard made a few difficult catches on the day. Eli really trusts him in 50/50 situations despite the lack of size. The touchdown reception was both an excellent route and snag with both his hands, as was the catch late in the game the brought NYG near the goal line.

-Odell Beckham: 7 rec / 60 yards. Beckham led the way with 11 targets, 2 of which were very bad misfires from Manning. Beckham had a hard time getting behind the Saints secondary, or even close to it. They shaded a safety in his direction nearly every time he ran vertical. Combine that with Manning getting the ball out so quickly, he didn’t have any big play opportunities. The longest NYG passing gain was to Beckham, 27 yards, most of which were gained after the catch. It seemed to be a frustrating day for league’s highest paid receiver. He is a competitor that wants to win, wants to make the big impact and it just hasn’t happened yet. His time will come.


-Rhett Ellison: 3 rec / 29 yards. With Evan Engram out with a knee injury, we knew we would see an uptick in Ellison’s playing time. He earned a solid, slightly above average grade as a blocker and came up with few solid grabs over the middle. He is a consistent “fall-forward” type who carries defenders on his back old school style. He had a chance at a touchdown pass for the second straight week in the 3rd quarter, but NO safety Vonn Bell made an outstanding late play on the ball to jar it loose.

-Scott Simonson saw a decent amount of time as well. Much of his duty revolved around chip blocks on NO DE Cameron Jordan. He did a fine job there and came up with a key block on Barkley’s 28 yard run.


-Nate Solder was solid for most of the game, but didn’t stay consistent from start to finish. He had a rough stretch towards the end of the 3rd quarter into the beginning of the 4th where he allowed a tackle for loss and a sack. He also allowed 1 pressure in the game.

-Admirable effort by Chad Wheeler. Although he was receiving help for most of the day on NO star edge rusher Cameron Jordan, he competed hard and won most of his 1 on 1 battles with the multi-time Pro Bowler. He still has episodes of being physically overmatched, but there is a lot of “want-to” in his game. He improved from last week and that is all you can as for at this point.


Lowest grade on the OL goes to Center John Greco, who received some praise a week ago. He allowed 1 sack, 1 pressure, and was called for a holding penalty. Can’t expect much out of him at this point, but communication along the OL does seem better minus the occasional hiccup here and there.

-Will Hernandez has now put 2 solid weeks in a row together. He was the highest graded NYG OL in this one and the sack he allowed late can’t be held against him. His hands looked strong and accurate and he was able to anchor against some solid bull-rushing DTs.

-Patrick Omameh was solid in the first half, not so much in the second half. He allowed 1 pressure and struggled to adjust to defenders in space. His reactions are very delayed. Spencer Pulley actually got in as a 6th OL four times. An interesting personnel decision now that Engram is out. If you need an extra blocker, might as well bring a guy in that gets paid to do it for a living.


-Connor Barwin and Kareem Martin took most of the snaps and neither had much of an impact. Much of the NYG pass rush-woes can be blamed on these two. There isn’t anything dynamic in either of their skill sets and repertoires. Both were dominated at times in the running game, as neither have quick twitch reactions or show the ability to break off blocks.

-Lorenzo Carter played less than both Martin and Barwin, but finished with 1 more tackle and played good assignment football. Even though I still think he is a year or two away from being a real impact player, it may be time to shift more snaps in his favor.

-Kerry Wynn didn’t record anything on the stat sheet, as he only played about a third of the defensive snaps. Puzzling why he is on the sideline so much after such a strong game in HOU, maybe there was an undisclosed injury. He still led the team with 2 pressures.


-Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson recorded 2 tackles each, with one of Harrison’s being a TFL. The main 2 rushers for NO led the way with over 7 yards per carry and while that did have more to do with the edge defenders, these two were neutralized in a few key moments. Tomlinson shared the team lead with 2 pressures, one of which may have resulted in a safety had he not been tripped by NO center Max Unger. The tripping penalty was not called.

-BJ Hill’s playing is still limited, but he did record a sack for the second week in a row and is now the team leader in that department through the first quarter of the season.


-Ray-Ray Armstrong is without-a-doubt viewed as the better option alongside Alec Ogletree. He dominated the snaps 4:1 between him and BJ Goodson. While the size, speed, and hustle are attractive to the naked eye, Armstrong was outclassed in coverage and against the quickness of Alvin Kamara. And please, stop celebrating after a tackle on a 8 yard gain by the opponent.

-Alec Ogletree had a solid run defending game. He had 12 tackles and 2 TFL. Ogletree is proving to be an excellent reader of the opposition. Sort of like Antonio Pierce used to be, moving towards the action before the play is headed there, sniffing out misdirection, and finishing when he gets there. The middle of the field in coverage continues to be a problem. The reasons for that include Ogletree, but they do not center around him.


-A very tall task for Janoris Jenkins, who faced off against the record setting Michael Thomas. For the most part, his performance was admirable but unspectacular. He was beat in a few key moments in the second half. One play I was very unhappy about was a 3rd and 1 rush to the left side, Jenkins totally side-stepped a downhill-moving Kamara and missed the tackle. The play resulted in a first down and NO later scored 3 points.

-BW Webb was attacked most of the day and he had his fair share of ups and downs. He had an impressive pass break up near the end zone but was also flagged for illegal hands to the face away from the ball on a 3rd down stop. On the very next play, NO scored a touchdown. Huge momentum shift.

-Donte Deayon’s playing time continues to see an upward boost with Eli Apple out. He made two impressive plays on the ball, showing his elite-foot speed and reaction. That can really go a long way but it doesn’t come without a price. Deayon’s lack of size is a factor that shows up often. He is easily blocked by receivers and ball carriers too often break through his contact. In addition, he was flagged on a 3rd down stop for pass interference while trying to recover after being beat off the ball by Cameron Meredith. There is a lot of give and take with a player like Deayon. However on a defense that lacks a playmaker on any level, he may be the one I trust the most to eventually force a turnover as crazy as that sounds.


-A dominant version of Landon Collins was on display in this one. A team leading 14 tackles, a pressure, and an elite-level pass break up that prevented a touchdown. This was the most we’ve seen him near the line of scrimmage this year and it worked out well. He was the one defender that was consistently getting Kamara on the ground by himself.

-Curtis Riley on the other hand had arguably his worst game as a Giant thus far. He had 2 missed tackles that resulted in absolute daggers to the defense. It may be considered unfair, but so be it. The last line of defense, the safety, has to be one of if not the best tacklers on the team. Riley is not that. In addition, there in no playmaker in him as a pass defender.


-Aldrick Rosas: 1/1 (Made 33). Rosas remains perfect on the year.

-P Riley Dixon: 4 Punts – 51.0 avg / 42.3 avg. He still had a couple hang time shortcomings, but overall a decent day.

-PR/KR Jawill Davis: Quiet day for Davis, who was active for the first time. He had one questionable decision to take it out from 6 yards deep on a kickoff, but this team needs a spark and I don’t mind the chance.


-S Landon Collins, WR Sterling Shepard, OG Will Hernandez


-EDGE Kareem Martin, S Curtis Riley, OC John Greco


-There is a lot to be said for Drew Brees and Sean Payton working together for what is now their 13th season. 13 years, one system. Several running backs, receivers, linemen, and tight ends. But one scheme that these two grew together from the start. I don’t want to put excuse on the table for Manning (this is his fifth offensive coordinator and third head coach), but there is countless value in the continuity and chemistry between this long of a QB/system relationship. Something to think about if NYG does end up going for a QB in the 2019 NFL Draft – is Shurmur the guy you want to tie to your young QB? If not, is it plausible for him to be a 1 and done?

-How can you not discuss Alvin Kamara when talking about the Saints. The 2017 3rd rounder who had some minor character concerns coming out is one of the most unique running backs I have ever seen. His contact balance, agility, and multiple levels of burst are all rare and he carries all of them. NO needs to make sure they don’t run this kid into the ground which should be easier now that Mark Ingram is past his suspension. He has MVP written all over him.

-The Saints were my preseason pick for the NFC Championship winner. Like most, I am not completely sold on their defense, however I think it can be “good enough” if they can get home field advantage. Their offense is capable of putting up 35+ against anyone if needed, and I mean that. And their 2017 draft may be one of the best of all time. That class turned around the fortune of this franchise at the snap of a finger. It CAN happen that fast.


-The first quarter of the season is over. NYG is on pace for 4 wins and even though this team looks like they are light years away from being a legit contender, the worst part of their schedule is over in my opinion. While coming out of this at 2-2 was the goal, I’m not sure it was very realistic. These 2 games coming up against what I consider to be middle-of-the-pack NFC teams is an opportunity to get this team back to even. I know everyone wants to obsess with labeling this season contention or a bust right now, but you have to let this play out and take it one week at a time. Instead of thinking about final record, the focus is now on a very beatable CAR team.

-The theme of this game, personally, was the desire for someone on this defense to make something happen. We know the offense is sputtering and there are a few reasons for that. We know there should have been more commitment to the running game. We know the combination of a shaky QB and a porous, unreliable offensive line is a recipe for disaster. But this defense really has nothing that can change a game. No pass rush. No safety making plays. Just a bend-don’t break group that can’t hang with the league’s top offenses. That, to me, is just as frustrating and detrimental to this team overall as anything.

-Olivier Vernon, when he returns, really needs to show something. Well, more than just something. He has a cap number of $20 million each of the next two years. While youth on his side, injury history and on-field production are not. Loyalty to big contracts is one thing, but being strapped down on a team with so many holes is another. Getting him off the books and Manning likely off the books in 2-3 years from now presents a huge load of cap space that can be dispersed elsewhere. And with that in mind, the edge rusher might be THE spot this team can focus on this offseason in addition to QB.

Sep 252018
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (September 23, 2018)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 27 – Houston Texans 22


On paper, this matchup looked as bad as it could get. On the road against a borderline desperate 0-2 team that had high expectations heading into the season. A pass rush that has shown the ability to wreck havoc on even the best of offensive lines. A young, athletic quarterback that has been lights-out in his short career at home against a defense without their top pass rusher and a starting cornerback. NYG has put out some ugly football over the past year-plus and the 0-2 start sucked out whatever confidence existed that this team would turn things around. Well sometimes when you’re pressed up against the wall, that is when the true colors come out.

Head Coach Pat Shurmur made his first big in-season move with the benching of Ereck Flowers for Chad Wheeler. While the talent and ability difference between the two may be non-existent, it was a sign to the team that everyone’s job will be on the line of the performance isn’t there.

The Giants dominated the first half. They controlled the point of attack on both sides of the ball. HOU couldn’t get a ground game going and shot themselves in the foot with 5 penalties. NYG on the other hand brought a balanced approach, scoring 2 touchdowns. The first being a 15 yard run by rookie Saquon Barkley and the second being a pass up the seam from Eli Manning to Rhett Ellison, who was in for the injured Evan Engram. NYG entered halftime with a commanding 20-6 lead.

HOU finally woke up in the second half, as they aggressively threw the ball downfield and applied more pressure to Manning in the pocket. NYG was simply trying to hold on until the clock read 0:00 at the end of the fourth quarter. HOU brought the score to 20-15 in the fourth quarter and at the time, NYG had earned just three second-half first downs. Momentum was being shifted into the home team’s hands but 2 costly turnovers and more HOU penalties helped the Giants.

Manning hit Sterling Shepard with the dagger that put this game out of reach with just over 2 minutes left. It was 27-15 at the time and even though HOU scored one more touchdown, the game was out of reach as there was just 1 second of game time where the score read 27-22.

NYG wins their first road game since October 15, 2017.


-Eli Manning: 25/29 – 297 yards – 2 TD / 0 INT. Manning finished with a 132.3 QB rating, the 9th best of his 15 year career. After 2 weeks of almost-no breathing room in the pocket, the offensive live elevated its play just enough for Manning to go through a read or two consistently. The results speak for themselves. Manning was quick to get the ball out, was on fire throughout every tier of the passing tree, and was as intense as we’ve seen him in a long time. As I’ve said since draft-time, Eli Manning is far from done and when the offensive line can play just OK, he can lead this team to wins. Plain and simple, really.


-Saquon Barkley: 17 att – 82 yards – 1 TD – 5 rec/35 yards. In addition to the offensive line upping their game, Barkley’s presence is slowly changing the opposition’s approach more and more. It was notable how the second and third level of the Texans defense were hesitant to drop into their coverage assignments when #26 was out there. Nobody wants to meet this kid in space, thus everyone has the mindset of keeping him squeezed in the tackle box. That alone has opened up more throwing lanes and gave Manning just 1-2 extra seconds in the pocket consistently. His touchdown run was another thing of beauty, as his contact balance, vision, and strength is a trio of traits that doesn’t exist elsewhere in the NFL. His biggest play of the day may have been in the 4th quarter where he lined up out wide. Manning threw him a 21 yard pass up the sideline on 3rd and 2. A few plays later, Manning hit Sterling Shepard for a touchdown that put the game out of reach. Think about everything Barkley does out of the backfield and in arguably the most crucial point of the second half with HOU momentum gaining steam, Barkley splits out wide and hauls in an athletic, wide receiver-caliber catch. He can do it all.

-Wayne Gallman and Jonathan Stewart combined for 8 carries / 33 yards. They were on the field for 18 plays and it’s smart to not overuse Barkley. This team needs him in the fold each and every week of 2018 with little-to-no drop off. Gallman can create on his own enough to warrant not overusing Barkley early on in the year.


-Odell Beckham: 9 rec – 109 yards. Beckham caught 9 of his 10 targets. They kept on peppering the defense with slants via Beckham, and I have to give him credit for the toughness he shows over the middle. That is a dangerous place for receivers and he really shows no hesitation pursuing the ball. HOU had a few moments where momentum was shifting towards their side, but plays by Beckham brought them right back down to earth. He had 3 plays where he beat one on one coverage deep, but Manning didn’t look is way. Nothing to be alarmed about and his time will come.

-Sterling Shepard: 6 rec – 80 yards – 1 TD. You won’t see an overly impressive stat line here, but Shepard played a huge part in the win. Let’s start with the obvious: his touchdown in the 4th quarter. Shepard is such a weapon from the slot when the defense is in zone coverage. He is too smart, too quick, too strong when attacking the ball. The defense stands almost no chance in that situation. He also had 2 key blocks on big gains. If this offense turns around on a consistent basis, Shepard will be a big reason why. That said, the dumb penalties need to stop. Emotion is great, but taunting penalties can really aid a loss.

-Cody Latimer finished with 1 catch for 15 yards. Manning looked his way a few times but Latimer just couldn’t get separation no matter what route it was.


-Evan Engram went down with a knee injury on a borderline dirty hit by knee-diver Kareem Jackson. On his lone catch of the day, he burst up the sideline showing that elite tight end speed but the hit he took will keep him out 4-6 weeks. Unfortunate blow for this offense.

-Rhett Ellison stepped into a more prominent role and had one of his better games as a Giant. Three catches for 39 yards and the second NYG touchdown of the day. I’ve always said this about Ellison, he is a crafty route runner and pass catcher. There is more to his game than meets the eye and while he doesn’t scare a defense half as much as Engram does, he will make things happen. For what its worth, his blocking grade was sub-par, with 2 pressures and 1 tackle for loss allowed.

-Scott Simonson played a career-high 16 snaps and threw a couple of impressive blocks. That will be his main role in the coming weeks and he has improved since early in the year.


-Nate Solder finally saw an uptick in his performance. The highest paid left tackle in the NFL controlled Jadaveon Clowney for most of the game, minus a few hiccups. He did have a holding penalty in addition to one pressure, but Solder threw a couple of key blocks on big gains to the left side. He and Will Hernandez still have some communication issues to fix, but this game was a vast improvement.

-The day finally came. Ereck Flowers was benched, as he stood on the sideline chewing on sunflower seeds for the entire game. Chad Wheeler stepped in for him. As nice as it may have been to see someone other than #74 out there, the result was the same. He allowed 3 sacks, 1 TFL, and 2 pressures. To be honest, if that were Flowers we would be ripping him again. So yes, I’ll say Wheeler was just as bad and that RT spot continues to be a glaring weakness of this offense. However one thing I liked out of him, he consistently hustles downfield to make the extra block. He plays hard, but he was simply outclassed by JJ Watt when left alone against him. And it’s not going to get much easier this week against the Saints’ Cameron Jordan. Curious to see how he, and the blocking game plan, responds.


-Best game of the young career for Will Hernandez. As we saw a glimpse of weeks 1 and 2, Hernandez excels when things are in front of him. I think this team is trying to simply get him on an island with a man as much as possible, and he can handle it power wise. There are still struggles with linebackers and stunts, but this was a step in the right direction for the 2nd rounder. Patrick Omameh also played much better than what we’ve seen early in the year. His run blocking was the best of the group and it’s game tapes like this that will get him a job over the next few years. He really was impressive against DL and LB. Another angle to the Flowers benching is that the communication appeared better with Wheeler in the few times HOU tried to stunt and/or delay their blitzes on the right side.

-John Greco, in his first start at OC, was solid. He wasn’t left alone often, but there was talk about how much of a handle he has on blocking schemes and roles with this group. Where this group was last week with communication and assignments compared to this game is night-and-day-different. Much of that could have come from Greco calling the shots.


-As much as I think Kareem Martin is still a replacement-level player, he made a few things happen against the struggling HOU offensive line. Only Alec Ogletree played more snaps than Martin among front seven defenders. He had 4 pressures which led the team. It didn’t result in any sacks but he forced Watson into quick decisions a few times. He also broke up a pass.

-Lorenzo Carter finished with 2 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 pressure. His role continues to increase as Olivier Vernon remains sidelined via injury. Carter won’t turn into a savvy or powerful pass rusher this year, but that speed, burst, and pursuit will make things happen throughout the year.

-Connor Barwin has been impressive, especially considering he was signed just a few weeks ago. He added 2 pressures. While he doesn’t make a lot happen for the amount of time he is on the field, I like having him on the team as a backup. The question will be whether or not he stays in front of Carter on the depth chart once Vernon is back.

-Kerry Wynn had, what may have been, his best regular season game as a pro. Last week I called him out, saying his preseason level of play at some point needed to show up in the regular season. He responds with 5 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 pressure, a pass break up, and a forced fumble that was recovered by NYG in the 3rd quarter. He was all over the field and as I said in August, he may be the DL that benefits from this scheme the most. If this guy can play at that level all year, it can’t be said enough how important that can prove to be.


-Damon Harrison, a nose tackle, led this team with 7 tackles (2 TFL). Damon Harrison played half of the defensive snaps. The Houston Texans ran the ball (via running backs) just 14 times the entire game. Let those 3 facts sit for a minute. Harrison is such a game changer and there isn’t a nose tackle like him in the game. He isn’t a space eater. He gets off blocks and pursues down the line as fast as everyone in that front seven. Enjoy this NYG fans, it doesn’t get better than him.

-Dalvin Tomlinson’s level of play is starting to catch up. It isn’t fair to compare anyone to Harrison, but Tomlinson was just as disruptive in this one. He was in on 4 tackles (1 for loss) and made a huge stop on the HOU attempt for 2 points in the 4th quarter. His consistency still leaves a little to be desired, but no complaints about the second year pro.

-Rookie BJ Hill saw a dip in playing time thanks to the emergence of Kerry Wynn. However he recorded his first sack on a play where his bull rush put fellow rookie Martinas Rankin on his butt. Big time power and push. I wouldn’t be alarmed by a lack of playing time because remember depth is key in the defensive trenches because at some point, someone(s) will go down.

-Mario Edwards saw an uptick in playing time and also recorded his first sack with NYG. It’s too soon to tell how much of an impact he will make here, but you have to be happy with his disruptive he’s been in limited action. Again, another solid scheme fit for the multi-look front.


-Alec Ogletree turned in his best game of the young season as well. He had 5 tackles against an offense that didn’t run the ball much and when they did, they barely got by Harrison. He was stout and physical inside. He also came up with one of the biggest plays of the game, a 4th quarter interception in the end zone on an underthrown Watson pass to Lamar Miller. Much has been said about his struggles in coverage and he still had a couple of warts show up in this game, but that was a huge play from an inside linebacker that this team simply hasn’t gotten from that position in a long time.

-BJ Goodson and Ray-Ray Armstrong continued to split duties next to Ogletree. The combined for 4 tackles and a pass break up. Armstrong was flagged for a facemask penalty on a play where he sacked Watson, so that sack didn’t show up on the stat sheet. His speed to the edge is outstanding.


-Janoris Jenkins was matched up against DeAndre Hopkins for much of the game, and it didn’t go so well. I wouldn’t put a negative grade next to his name, but he got outclassed across the middle three times and was flagged for a hold on a play where Hopkins blew past him vertically. That said, Hopkins is arguably the top WR in the game.

-No Eli Apple meant a game full of snaps for BW Webb, a late-free agency pickup who has played well here. He finished with 3 tackles and a pass break up. He too struggled against some of the lateral routes HOU ran with their speedsters, but he held his own in the couple times he was matched up on an island against deep routes.

-Donte Deayon finished with 4 tackles and a huge fumble recovery. Call it good luck if you want, but this kid gets around the ball often. I wasn’t surprised to see him being the one to land on the loose ball in the 3rd quarter. The kid is a hustler and has a nose for the action.


-Landon Collins and Curtis Riley played every snap again. Collins had a solid game with 5 tackles, 1 TFL, and an impressive pass break up in the end zone where he showed outstanding awareness and ball skills. Riley, other than a bad missed tackle in the 3rd quarter, was solid in deep range coverage. He read Watson like a book on the few times he looked downfield.

-Michael Thomas saw extended playing time in passing situations. He is a solid presence to have out there because of how physical he can be against ball carriers on draw plays and/or screens.


-K Aldrick Rosas 2/2 (Made 44, 30). 3/3 XP. Rosas remains perfect on the young season and is putting them right down the middle.

-P Riley Dixon: 4 punts – 49.5 avg / 38.3 net. Not a great net average there, as he may have not been putting enough under the ball. HOU PR Tyler Ervin had too much space between him and the first defender a few times.

-KR/PR Stacy Coley, newly signed, bobbled but recovered his first punt. Quiet game besides that.


-QB Eli Manning, DL Kerry Wynn, OG Patrick Omameh


-WR Cody Latimer, OT Chad Wheeler, P Riley Dixon


-Talk about a team that shoots itself in the foot. That has been the theme for HOU for a couple years now, none more so than what we have seen the past 2 weeks. Left tackle Julie’n Davenport and his THREE false starts + 1 holding penalty. Two bad turnovers in the second half when HOU was moving the ball and gaining momentum. The 0-3 Texans are going to be looking for a new head coach this upcoming offseason if this stuff doesn’t change.

-Calais Campbell in week 1. JJ Watt in week 3. These are two defensive linemen who came out of college who many did not know where to peg position-wise. Tall, long, and near-300 pounds with excellent power, bendability, and foot-quickness. They are now both in hybrid-front schemes where they are moved around and their impact is felt on almost every play. If this NYG scheme sticks around, there really is a lot of value on a defender like that. While the NYG defensive line looks promising for the next few years, this is the kind of player this scheme could use to maximum potential. And I already have a couple of prospects in mind for next spring’s draft.

-I am still holding out on calling Deshaun Watson one of the next big QBs in this league. So many were touting him as exactly that prior to this season based on a handful of solid performances in 2017, but I still see what I saw in college. Too many misfires on simple throws and a lack of awareness of what is going on around him in the pocket.


-As stated above, Chad Wheeler did not play well in this game. If it were Flowers, we would likely see fans outside of the Giants practice facility protesting his job. However the principle that Shurmur was finally the one to bench him is a welcome sign that this regime will quickly remove a player from the lineup who underperforms despite not having a lock to replace him. Now where do you go from here? Wheeler deserves to show if he can bring his play to another level like any young player, but if NYG continues to win and this spot continues to show weakness, it may be time to look into a trade for a veteran on a losing team. Joe Staley from SF is signed through 2019 and if the Niners season takes a nosedive without their starting QB, a phone call should be placed.

-The injury to Evan Engram is unfortunate. However with the way this team is put together, it may not have much of a negative impact. NYG will now have a true blocking TE in there at all times and as much as they are going to rely on the running game, it may actually be a better fit for the trenches. Considering the RT spot is going to need help, having Ellison or Simonson in there makes it easier to keep that extra blocker on that side. Where as when Engram is in there, the coaches have to feel like he needs to be running routes. My point is, his absence won’t be as negative overall as some are making out to be.

-This was one of the best versions of Eli Manning we have seen in a couple years. He played with some extra emotion, extra urgency, extra confidence. Offensive lines around the league rely on chemistry so much and the fact this group communicated much better in HOU was a very positive sign. If they can continue their upswing, this offense is incredibly dangerous.

Sep 182018
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 16, 2018)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys 20 – New York Giants 13


Two 0-1 teams entered Sunday night on the same day where the two other NFC East teams lost to even their records at 1-1. Whomever left AT&T Stadium would have a share of 1st place early in this 2018 season.

With top edge rusher Oliver Vernon still injured, Kerry Wynn started on the NYG 4 man front. DAL didn’t waste time as Dak Prescott connected with Tavon Austin for a 64 yard touchdown pass up the sideline on a blown coverage by Janoris Jenkins and Curtis Riley. After a 6 play drive, DAL had the ball back in their possession and gained 12-19-15-15 yards on their first 4 plays. This set them up for another 3 points and NYG was down 10-0 before the rhythm of the game even started.

The two sub-par offenses traded possessions a few times without gaining much of a field position advantage. NYG was force feeding the ball to Saquon Barkley who, if nothing else, was breaking tackles left and right every time he touched the ball. Manning was getting the ball out quickly because of the porous offensive line yet again and the DAL secondary was adamant about not letting Odell Beckham wreck the game.

One interesting observation from the early NYG offensive drives. When they were down 7-0, Pat Shurmur did not want to go for it on 4th and inches at midfield. For an offense that struggles to put together drives, an offense that struggles to even reach midfield, it was a puzzling decision. However when NYG was down 10-0, Shurmur opted to go for it on 4th and inches two times in a row despite being at a lesser field position. Not a big deal but it just screams lack of identity to me. 4th and inches at midfield for this offense needs to almost-always be a go-for-it situation.

With that said, NYG didn’t have one play on the DAL side of the field in the first half. They went in to halftime down 10-0.

On the fourth play of the second half, Manning was sacked for the 5th time by untouched blitzing linebacker Damien Wilson, forcing a fumble that was recovered by DAL. This was a trend that started early and continued on for the entire game. Stunts and blitzes, both basic and complex, confused the anemic offensive line. Lack of talent, lack of chemistry, and a lack of adjustment made this a painful game to watch.

DAL turned the turnover in to 3 points, giving them a 13-0 lead which probably felt like a 30-0 lead knowing who was on the other sideline.

Just when you thought NYG was completely out, in typical Eli Manning-era fashion, they showed life right after their darkest moment. Barkley continued to show elite-level yards after contact ability, Manning hit Cody Latimer for a game-high 37 yard gain, and Barkley gained 18 yards on a dump off pass that included moves I don’t see any RB in the NFL making. They were 1st and goal at the 3 yard line just to be brought back by a holding penalty and two consecutive pass plays where pressure was on Manning before he could make two reads. Also on this drive, NYG lost center Jon Halapio to a broken ankle and leg; he is done for the year. NYG did get on the board, making it 13-3.

The DAL offense started to create some hope too, as they just couldn’t move the ball, guilty of 2 straight holding penalties, and quickly putting the ball back in to NYG’s hands. There was a slight momentum shift at this point late in the 3rd quarter. NYG then responded with a 3 and out that was capped off by the 6th DAL sack of the night. Opportunity missed.

DAL then responded with a 14 play, 8+ minute, touchdown-scoring drive. Prescott controlled the drive, going 5/6 for 35 yards and rushing for 19 yards on 3 attempts. The score was by Ezekiel Elliott who barreled in to the end zone breaking though Kareem Martin for a 6 yard touchdown. DAL led 20-3 with under 6 minutes remaining in the game.

Manning and the NYG offense took advantage of a less-aggressive DAL defense, scoring their lone touchdown of the night on an 11 play drive capped off by a wide-open pass to Evan Engram in the end zone. NYG then recovered an onsides kick, recovered by Michael Thomas. They quickly gained another 27 yards and opted to kick a field goal to make it a one-possession game. It was their only hope. Rosas hit the field goal, making a 20-13 score but they failed to convert the second onsides kick.

Dallas wins, 20-13.


Eli Manning: 33/44 – 279 yards – 1 TD / 0 INT. Manning also added 3 rushing attempts for a total of 4 yards, two of which were successful 4th and 1 QB sneak conversions. Once again, Manning saw either the worst, or one of the worst amounts of protection from the OL in the league. There is going to be a weekly debate regarding whether or not Manning is done or not. My stance remains the same. The most athletic QB in the league wouldn’t be able to deal with this amount of pressure and lack of assurance from this OL group. Manning can’t step up in the pocket. He can barely even step into throws. 3 step, 5 step, 7 step drops….it doesn’t matter. Manning does deserve some blame, however. The limited shots he is getting downfield, he hasn’t capitalized on enough. In addition, his hoppy-footwork and occasional too-quick of a release has contributed to the poor offensive play. Call me stubborn, but I watch almost every NFL game every week, and nobody is dealing with this outside of Russell Wilson in SEA.


Saquon Barkley: 11 att / 28 yards – 14 rec / 80 yards. The run blocking was no better. I haven’t seen an NFL offense yet where the RB is getting hit earlier than what NYG is dealing with. Barkley was running into traffic and untouched defenders repeatedly. But because of his superior receiving skills, his impact on the game was strong. He set a franchise record with his 14 catches, most of which were dump offs, and he broke more tackles than any NYG running back has in a game since it’s been recorded. What he was able to do with the ball in his hands was just a glimpse of what we are going to see. Imagine he was playing behind a good group of blockers. The options and upside with him are endless.

-Wayne Gallman and Jonathan Stewart played a combine 13% of the snaps and gained a combined 4 yards. You can tell this coaching staff really wanted this win and they wanted no part in taking Barkley out.

-Really poor game by Shane Smith. He allowed 2 sacks against the blitz-happy Dallas defense. He was on the field for 4 plays. He allowed 2 sacks. If he can’t block, there is no point in him being on this team.


-Odell Beckham: 4 rec / 51 yards. Beckham recorded his second catch with 6 minutes left in the first quarter. His next catch wasn’t until the 4:22 mark in the fourth quarter. He wasn’t a factor for the majority of the game. They gave him two credible downfield shots, both were overthrown by Manning. I watched the All-22 and assumed he was being double teamed non stop, but that wasn’t the case. On the plays he had one on one coverage deep, the pass protection simply wasn’t there. Manning was forced to get rid of the ball before Beckham made his move. Timed well by the DAL defense.

-Sterling Shepard and Cody Latimer caught 2 passes each. Shepard also dropped one in the second quarter. Latimer’s first catch as a Giant was a nicely thrown deep ball where Latimer had minimal to no separation, but the lengthy and strong receiver showed nice ball skills to come down with it. One thing I see a lot with him is a lack of separation, as there isn’t a ton of twitch to his game, but he does have some long stride speed if Manning can ever get enough time.


Evan Engram: 7 rec / 67 yards – 1 TD. Engram caught all of the passes thrown in his direction. I think it may be time for Manning to look his way more often, especially with the need for such quick releases. He gets open consistently and he is so dangerous after the catch with his rare combination of size and speed. He had two clean looks at the end zone that Manning didn’t see. Safeties cannot cover him. One thing he hasn’t consistently done well yet is find the windows/lanes against zone coverage. The best receiving tight ends make an art of that; he isn’t close yet. As a blocker, he had another sub-par game. He allowed a tackle for loss and a sack in addition to getting drilled backwards a few times, making Barkley alter his path.

-Rhett Ellison saw 35% of the snaps and disappointed as a blocker. For a guy that has a role to aid the poor OL play, he sure hasn’t done it these first 2 weeks. He, too, was getting pushed backwards, creating a new point of attack.


-Nate Solder, the highest paid left tackle in the game, was physically overmatched in this one for the second week in a row. He allowed one tackle for loss and was flagged for a hold (which was declined) in addition to 2 pressures.. The one thing Solder does well compared to the rest of the OL is, even when he is beat, he stays on his man. The balance and athleticism helps him there. I also think he is a small victim of playing next to the rookie Hernandez, who is having a very hard time picking up this blocking scheme.

-Ereck Flowers had another below average performance. He allowed 3 pressures, struggled at the second level as a run blocker, and appears to have no clue what he is doing on stunts. He did have 4 “plus” pass blocks one on one against Demarcus Lawrence if you are looking for any glimpse of positive.


-The two guards were nightmares, it was the worst combined grade from the guards I have seen in 2+ years. Patrick Omameh was responsible for 2 pressures and 1 sack. He wasn’t able to sustain blocks. He has a decent punch at the line, but his man is off free within 1-2 seconds almost every time. Will Hernandez looks lost mentally. Again, the base-level athleticism is there, but it doesn’t show up because he is too slow to react. He allowed 1 pressure and 2 sacks. The first of which was about as bad as it gets. Hernandez was also completely whiffing at the second level as a run blocker. He continues to get a pass here and there for being a rookie, but there were moments where he didn’t even look competitive.

-Center Jon Halapio was having a decent game, but he broke both his ankle and leg during the 3rd quarter. John Greco came in to replace him. He allowed a pressure in his limited duty. He is likely to be the starting OC from here on out and I have been impressed with him in his short tenure with NYG. I don’t think this will have any negative impact on NYG.


-With Olivier Vernon out again, Kareem Martin and Connor Barwin dominated the snaps. They are both journeymen caliber players. Barwin did have a solid game, as his short area pop is still there and he is feisty. He had a pressure and pass break up. Martin looks like a complete non factor. His contact balance is poor, he can’t get off blocks as a pass rusher, and the speed off the edge is non-existent. He had 3 missed tackles and finished with 1 pressure.

-Lorenzo Carter’s speed and athleticism showed up. He had 2 pressures on the same drive. When he sees a consistent stretch of plays, his level of play improves. As the year progresses, we should see him on the field more. He missed outside contain twice but his speed to the sideline made up for one of them. He really does have rare athleticism. Kerry Wynn had 2 tackles, one of which was for a loss. Hate to see him not make much of an impact as a pass rusher after a strong preseason yet again. This team needs him to step up.


-Damon Harrison controlled the two inside gaps like he always does. DAL had a lot of success on the ground, but it wasn’t any fault of Harrison’s. It’s amazing how, when he is single teamed against a running play between the tackles, he is always in on the tackle. Every time. He also recorded a pressure.

-Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill received average grades. Hill was quiet but pursued well and held his ground. One thing they both struggled with was getting off blocks in time at running plays in their direction. They were just a step too slow a few times. Hill was also taken off the field in passing situations.


-Really poor game by Alec Ogletree. Yes, he led the team with 6 tackles and a couple of them were an impressive blend of speed and power. He missed 2 tackles and was really late to recognize on a few others. When that happens, the blocker gets the angle and makes it nearly impossible to fill the lane in time. B.J. Goodson recorded 1 tackle despite playing more than 50% of the snaps. He, too, missed a tackle. If it’s not between the tackles, Goodson has looked very pedestrian so far.

-Ray Ray Armstrong didn’t impact the running game, but he excelled in coverage. On three occasions he completely took out Prescott’s intended target with perfect coverage. He adds an element none of the other LBs do.


-For the second week in a row, Janoris Jenkins was beat on a vertical route early. This time, it resulted in an early touchdown by Tavon Austin. He completely whiffed at the point of attack and couldn’t catch up. The question may need to be asked at some point, are his off-field struggles impacting his play? He was solid from there on out, as he wasn’t tested much.

-Eli Apple with another excellent game. What I have always wanted to see with him, dating back to his college days, is more play with his feet and less with his hands in coverage. 2 weeks in o 2018, he appears to be clicking there. His All-22 tape was the best of the DB group.

-B.W. Webb was tested often. He was on the field for 77% of the snaps. He was flagged once and allowed a few catches but overall he was solid. Donte Deayon didn’t play much, but almost came up with a red zone interception in the 4th quarter.


-Landon Collins has been very hit or miss since his All-Pro 2016 season and that trend continued Sunday night, with more lean towards the miss-side. He missed two tackles and was fooled badly twice on run plays. The misdirection has been giving him a lot of trouble and when he isn’t on, big gains are created.

-Curtis Riley had a bad night. He was late and took a bad angle on the Austin TD in the first quarter and had a bad missed tackle that led to a big gain by Ezekiel Elliot.


-K Aldrick Rosas: 2/2 (Made 28,38). Rosas remains perfect on the season. He also created a successful onsides kick in the 4th quarter.

-P Riley Dixon – 6 Punts – 43.3 avg / 40.0 net. Solid margin there and he landed 3 inside the 20.

-KR/PR: Cody Latimer had two impressive kick returns; he is fast in space and runs through initial contact consistently. Kaelin Clay had another near turnover as a PR.


-RB Saquon Barkley, CB Eli Apple, DT Damon Harrison


-OG Will Hernandez, OG Patrick Omameh, LB Alec Ogletree


-I’ve seen every snap of DAL over the first 2 weeks and I still don’t think this will be a .500 team. The offense is abysmal. Overly reliant on the running game with an OL that is not nearly as dominant as it was 2 years ago. Prescott threw for 96 yards on 23 attempts beyond the TD pass to Austin where Jenkins had a rare whiff at the line of scrimmage.

-Get to know the name Chidobe Awuzie. DAL second year CB is going to be considered one of the best in the game within a year or two. He matched Beckham step for step several times in coverage on all levels, both laterally and vertically. He is great at making adjustments to the ball and he is one of the most physical tacklers in the league at the position.

-Jaylon Smith, now another year removed from his scary knee injury, now may be the best LB on this team. His 10 tackles and 1 for loss were impressive, as he fills the lane with no hesitation and lets you know he is there. And his most impressive play of the night? Deep coverage against….Odell Beckham.


-Losing a tight game to JAC was one thing, but this loss to an average-at-best DAL team has created a strong thought that this will be a 5-6 win season at best. We discussed throughout the offseason that filling all these holes in just a few months was borderline impossible. You can’t say its over yet, but the issues on this roster are awfully high in volume.

-What can be done with this OL? They are going to be a poor unit all year, but is there anything that can be done that can give the offense at least some hope consistently? The one hope is that Hernandez, a rookie that didn’t play against NFL prospects in college, improves on a normal rookie scale. Also, this line is playing together for the first time so one could say chemistry will be developed in time. If those two things don’t happen, I really don’t see any hope here and that’s a shame because this group of playmakers is among the best in the NFL.

-Just how good is Landon Collins? I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but he is probably next up on long term contract talks. He is an unrestricted free agent next year and I have a hard time accepting he deserves top tier safety money. His 2016 season (which was All-Pro caliber) may be impacting everyone’s view on him too much. I do think he is good, he is 24 years old, and he does play hard. But 2017 was underwhelming and he has been bad these first 2 weeks. Missed tackles, fooled badly, and minimal impact on passing plays. He needs to play better and there is no way around it. This defense sorely needs a playmaker.

Sep 102018
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Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants (September 9, 2018)

Janoris Jenkins – © USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars 20 – New York Giants 15


Week 1 of the 2018 season brought in an up-and-coming team that was partially constructed by former NYG Head Coach Tom Coughlin. The Jacksonville Jaguars, in their first game since losing to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship, entered MetLife Stadium ready to wreck havoc on a shoddy offensive line.

That they did on the first drive of the game that resulted in a near-safety on two separate occasions. It was a sign of things to come, as the JAC front seven controlled the game and heavily impacted the NYG approach on offense.

The JAC offense is very dependent on Leonard Fournette and their power rushing attack. They hit a groove early on paired with some solid gains on play-action and bootleg passing plays. The misdirection seemed to take advantage of the over-aggressive, new NYG defensive scheme. The two teams traded field goals but JAC took a couple steps forward in the 2nd quarter, scoring 10 straight points which got them a 13-3 lead. However thanks to the grabby-defensive backfield and the fear Odell Beckham strikes in to the opposition, 45 yards worth of penalties put NYG in prime field goal position to net them another 3 points, ending the half down 13-6 but with possession at the start of the second half and JAC without Fournette because of a hamstring strain.

NYG began the third quarter with a back and forth approach. Saquon Barkley, after a quiet first half, started to show why this team made him the 2nd pick of the draft. But mental mistakes by Evan Engram and poor play in the trenches kept on pulling the offense back just enough to make them settle on a field goal. The rest of the 3rd quarter was a back and forth affair that played exactly into what JAC wants: a moving clock paired with a field position battle while in the lead.

The action picked up in the 4th quarter. Manning started to feel some extra urgency and made a throw he shouldn’t have while under pressure. This resulted in a interception by Myles Jack which he easily returned for a touchdown. NYG was down 20-6 with 11 minutes left. The team needed a spark, badly. Enter in Barkley. A couple broken tackles and a sprint down the sideline netted NYG their first touchdown of the year, a 68-yard score by the rookie. They came up 1 foot short on the 2 point conversion, however, leaving them in a touchdown-or bust situation.

The energy was back in the stands and after a 3-and-out by JAC. However, NYG responded with a 3-and out of their own. Their next possession put them into JAC territory after 2 passes to Odell Beckham. But the right side of the offensive line disrupted Manning just enough to misfire on two occasions paired with a drop by Sterling Shepard. They turned the ball over on downs but stopped JAC 3 straight times while burning their final timeouts, leaving them with under 1 minute to score a touchdown from their own territory.

But the effort was never made, as PR Kaelin Clay muffed the punt and JAC recovered.

NYG loses, 20-15.


Eli Manning: 23/37 – 224 yards – 0 TD/1 INT. Manning started off 11 for 11 despite having the Jacksonville pass rush in his face nearly every time he reached the end of his drop back. Manning delivered a lot of throws under duress. I watched 6 NFL games from yesterday and only Russell Wilson saw more consistent pressure. And Manning’s disadvantage there is that he doesn’t move well anymore in space. Good footwork in the pocket, but he just isn’t a very good athlete. Manning also had two overthrows on potential touchdowns in addition to a poor decision to throw a ball under pressure that ended up being tipped and returned for a pick 6 in the 4th quarter.


Saquon Barkley: 18 att / 106 yards – 1 TD – 2 rec / 22 yards. A lot can be said about Barkley’s first game against arguably the best front seven in the NFL. His game started off slow, as he was forced into re-routing prior to reaching the line of scrimmage 6 of his first 8 attempts. But once the second half rolled around, he found a groove and we started to see the physical ability shine bright. He looked more confident and decisive. In the second half, Barkley ran the ball 10 times for 94 yards including a 68-yard touchdown that brought the team back to life. That run included 2 broken tackles and an all out sprint to the end zone (thanks to a key block by Sterling Shepard) that outran the entire JAC defense. There aren’t many backs in the league that could have pulled that one off. There were two negatives in his debut and they both centered around Barkley not taking what this defense gave him. Against a front seven like JAC, there needs to be more north-south thought process on runs between the guards.

-Jonathan Stewart and Wayne Gallman spelled Barkley a few times. After a tortoise-like preseason, Stewart actually had a couple of solid 4-yard runs. Nothing to get excited about but after what we saw in August, it is a step in the right direction. This team is going to cap how many touches Barkley gets weekly, especially early in the year, so Stewart needs to give NYG more of those 4-yard runs. Gallman left the game with a knee injury that isn’t expected to be serious. Shane Smith saw limited snaps but he was a factor. With this OL and Engram struggling to get movement at the point of attack, Smith may need to be in the game more often.


-Odell Beckham: 11 rec – 111 yards. I won’t say I forgot how much Beckham changed the outlook of this offense, but it was a refreshing sight to see #13 out there getting open on all levels whenever he wanted to and wrecking havoc on the Jaguars defensive backfield. He also forced 45 yards worth of pass interference penalties that stemmed from him running great routes. He took a couple of big hits in this one and he fired himself right back up and seemed to enjoy it. That is what this offense needs out of him. If Manning had made a better throw, he would have had 33 yard touchdown in the 3rd quarter as he got behind the secondary in a blink.

-Sterling Shepard: 5 rec – 48 yards. Shepard had a drop in the 4th quarter that really hurt the team’s attempt at pulling off a major fourth quarter comeback. Otherwise he ran excellent routes and showed the usual toughness in traffic. His downfield block on the Barkley touchdown was vital. He is going to be an important piece because of how consistently he can run himself open underneath. I would like to see more after the catch, however.

-Cory Latimer didn’t receive any targets. For a “starting” wide receiver, many will be disappointed. But on this team, he is the #5 receiving option at best when everyone is healthy. Don’t expect big impact plays on any sort of consistent basis.


-Evan Engram: 2 rec – 18 yards. Really rough outing for the second year pass catcher who missed some time with a concussion during the preseason. Engram has somewhat struggled with drops in his young career, and he only added to that in this one. He had 2 drops, a pass interference penalty, and allowed a tackle for loss. Engram was mauled at the point of attack against the JAC defensive linemen. His overall blocking grade was the worst he’s had since being a Giant. While I don’t want to bash him considering what he is to this team and who he was matched up against, he simply needs to be better. For a team that will rely on the running game and a team that may need to help the RT up front, Engram can’t just be a receiver. Effort was there, impact was not.

-Rhett Ellison was in to run block and I can’t say he made a major difference. He caught one pass against a prevent defense. Scott Simonson was in for 4 offensive plays and allowed a pressure.


-Nate Solder had a rough first game in blue. While he provides more confidence and security than what NYG has had in recent years, he was outclassed by the JAC defensive line. He allowed 1 TFL, 2 pressures, and committed a holding penalty. He also struggled to get movement as a run blocker. This is the kind of defense that has always given him some trouble, power and size based.

-Ereck Flowers took a step back towards one of the worst grades of his career. 2 penalties, 1 TFL, 3 pressures, and 1 sack. Flowers also failed to reach his assignment on 3 separate down blocks. This would be a damning game for a rookie. The shift to right tackle didn’t hide is ongoing issues of poor footwork and even worse hand placement. The one positive was a very solid block on the Barkley touchdown. It is going to be a long year on the right edge.

-Chad Wheeler saw some action as a blocking tight end. I think we will see more and more of that, although he didn’t perform well. He was in for 3 plays and he too allowed a TFL. And no, he is not a suitable replacement for Flowers.


-Will Hernandez had a couple of “Welcome to the NFL, kid” moments. He allowed a TFL to Malik Jackson on the first drive and sack to Calais Campbell on the fourth drive. He had the most positive grades in the game among the OL, most notably for his ability to move guys at the point of attack. He does a nice job when it is straightforward run blocking but he will need to learn to adjust to the quickness of NFL defensive tackles. Can’t expect much better from him, but you just want to see progress as the year progresses. And I don’t think he will have many, if any, tougher assignments than what JAC presented.

-Patrick Omameh and Jon Halapio didn’t stand out in a negative way. They both allowed 1 pressure each but weren’t on the radar much other than that. The issue was just a lack of difference making movement. The interior of the JAC defense went where they wanted to. It’s pretty bad that these two had the best grades of the OL, because by no means were they above average or even close to it.


-With Olivier Vernon out, it meant Connor Barwin and Kareem Martin were going to see the majority snaps. Martin finished with a half-sack and 3 tackles while Barwin had 1 pressure and a big pass deflection in the 4th quarter. But when it came to the situations where a pass rush was really needed, they didn’t come through.

-Kerry Wynn and Lorenzo Carter rotated in and both had a similar impact to the starters in less playing time. Carter had a pressure and pass deflection while Wynn recorded a half-sack. I think this pass rush is better with these two in the fold, as their ability just has more potential. Martin and Barwin will scare nobody on 3rd down.


-Damon Harrison played 71% of the snaps, more than I was anticipating. He went down with a minor knee injury in the second half but it didn’t keep him out long. He dominated the inside gaps, finishing with a TFL and 6 tackles. He was in on sure-passing downs more than I expected to see and I like it, his bull rush is as good as anyone’s and it helps the complex blitzing schemes.

-The young sidekicks, B.J. Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson were solid but unspectacular. The combined for a solid 9 tackles and showed good pursuit and effort. But JAC was running the ball with ease in the first half, as they struggled to hold ground on lateral runs. These two are very solid and will be good, but it was notable to see the difference between them and the JAC defensive line. Different class.

-Newly signed Mario Edwards and Jordan Jenkins played sparingly without much impact. Edwards did record 2 tackles on just 6 snaps, however. He looks athletic and rangy for his size.


-New defensive captain Alec Ogletree tied for the team lead 7 tackles. He was solid between the tackles and better in coverage than what we saw in preseason. The middle of the field, however, is still a weakness against the pass and he is a part of it. He allowed a touchdown that was negated by a JAC penalty.

-B.J. Goodson started, but he and Ray-Ray Armstrong split snaps. Goodson struggled to scrape over the top, often late to recognize and putting the blocker in a position to wash him out. Armstrong is a much better athlete and reacts with more speed. Both were fooled by all of the misdirection JAC threw their way, however.


-One of the best overall games we have seen out of Eli Apple in his 3rd-year career. 3 tackles and 2 pass break ups along with some very good deep coverage. While it wasn’t the best air attack he will be matched up against this season, Apple did his job. We haven’t been able to say that in awhile and if this talent-rich first rounder can show consistency, the outlook of this defense is very different.

-Janoris Jenkins was up and down. The playmaker came up with a 1st quarter interception and a very high-level pass break up in the 2nd quarter. He allowed 2 of the 3 biggest gains in the passing game that JAC had. He also had 7 tackles, tied for the team lead.

-B.W. Webb was the nickel back, playing in just over 50% of the snaps. He looked afraid of getting beat deep and allowed too much underneath. He allowed 2 catches for first down on situations where he needed to be up on the receiver more.


-Landon Collins had an up and down game. I was interested to see his role in this new defense and it actually wasn’t very different than last year. He roams a lot and they trust him to make the right decisions. He had 5 tackles and a high-level pass break up but got lost in traffic on the T.J. Yeldon 15 yard run that brought JAC to the 1-yard line. Collins was also the guilty culprit on Blake Bortles career long 41 yard run on a naked bootleg. That was a designed run and JAC knew Collins would react that way. Not a good sign. That was one of a few situations where his eye discipline was non-existent. He is a high-risk, high-reward player.

-Curtis Riley was solid in his debut after winning the job in camp. He had 5 tackles, 1 of which on special teams, and a couple of fast and physical downhill hits. He also fulfilled his deep coverage responsibilities on two plays where Bortles wanted to go downfield but chose not to. Michael Thomas played sparingly, allowing a catch for first down but also pressuring Bortles and making a big hit on 3rd down that caused a near-fumble.


K Aldrick Rosas: 3/3 (Made 27-31-44). Very solid day for Rosas in both departments.

P Curtis Riley: 5 punts – 49.4 avg / 43.4 net. Solid numbers but his worst punt of the day started off the lone JAC offensive touchdown.

PR Kaelin Clay had a quiet game until the very end, in a bad way. He misjudged the depth of a punt and muffed it, turning the ball over to JAC with under a minute left leaving NYG without a chance at one last attempt to win the game.


-CB Eli Apple, RB Saquon Barkley, WR Odell Beckham


-OT Ereck Flowers, OT Nate Solder, TE Evan Engram


-LB Myles Jack was my top graded player in the 2016 NFL Draft. The knee issues bumped him down just a tad, but now that he is in his third year, I think we are looking a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate. There may not be a faster LB in the game, as he covers WRs in space and ran with Barkley stride for stride on the long touchdown. But at the same time this guy is a terror to deal with between the tackles. His game-leading 10 tackles and pick six don’t even tell the story of how much he impacted this game.

-The JAC defensive line might be the best in football when considering the depth. Only LAR can hang with these guys. It is a good thing knowing NYG won’t be faced off against anything like that again. But guys, when building a team you truly can never have enough talent in the trenches. They change everything. They hide issues elsewhere. And they are more reliable to be there and impacting the game in all weather conditions. That team is built to win from start to finish and it starts right here.

-Is Blake Bortles good enough? You know what? I think he is. I have never seen what so many people hate about this kid. He won’t ever be mistaken for Aaron Rodgers but then again, neither will Eli Manning. He makes a couple head scratching throws each week, but then again so does Eli Manning. I have always liked his moxie and I see improvement each year. The QB of that team needs to be just good enough, and I think he is.


-Because NFL fans are the way they are, Saquon Barkley and the fact NYG has made him the highest drafted running back since 2006 will be over-analyzed each week. The baseless theory that RBs cannot be taken that high and the fact some potential franchise QB’s were available when NYG was on the clock only adds to the notion. I spoke about him earlier but what I liked the most, he adjusted his approach during halftime. He looked just a hair-too-hesitant early on but you can tell he took it on himself to change this offense in the second half. He was the one player getting the team fired up prior to the start of the 4th quarter. Usually you want rookies to improve their approach week to week, year 1 to year 2. He did it at halftime and made a big difference in the second half against the best/fastest/most physical defense in the NFL.

-This defense showed a lot of exotic looks and it created stress for the JAC offense in the second half especially. However when all is said and done, they recorded 1 sack and 1 tackle for loss. They need to produce more than that, plain and simple.

-I liked how Shurmur adjusted his pass protection in the second half. Adjustments are a huge part of coaching during games, and he did just that. It still wasn’t pretty, but the NYG offensive line was overmatched badly. There isn’t much you can do there but this offense did catch a flow in the second half much thanks to the blocking scheme being slightly altered.

Sep 012018
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Donte Deayon, New York Giants (August 30, 2018)

Donte Deayon – © USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots 17 – New York Giants 12


This game was very little about winning or losing and more about giving the roster bubble guys one last shot to showcase the potential. The coaching staff kept pretty much every starter on the bench for this one.

Kyle Lauletta got the start and showed that he has a ways to go when it comes to developing his NFL passing ability. He was comfortable on simple read throws underneath, but struggled to get the ball downfield accurately. It led to 2 interceptions.

NYG forced three turnovers themselves, hopefully a sign of things to come, but they also allowed an 86 yard touchdown late that put the game out of reach after a back-and-forth defensive battle. NYG lost the game 17-12 and paved the way for the roster cut down. Major injuries were avoided for the 4th week in a row. Bring on Week 1.


Kyle Lauletta: 8/19 – 118 yards – 1 TD/2 INT. With both Eli Manning and Davis Webb on the sideline for this one, we got our first extended look at the 4th round rookie. Two things I have liked about his game showed up again in this one, his release and footwork. He is further along than some of the QBs that were taken ahead of him in this 2018 class. He made a few aggressive throws downfield and failed to connect on all of them. He just under threw most of them and the lack of arm power that was discussed in his scouting report definitely showed up. His targets had a step or two in their defenders but the ball just didn’t get there. Both of his interceptions were poor downfield passes. Overall, it was a rough night for the rookie and now it will be back to holding the clipboard while trying to learn the game as much as one can from the sidelines.

Alex Tanney: 13/23 – 92 yards – 1 TD/0 INT. Tanney took over toward the beginning of the 3rd quarter. He never really had a shot at making this roster barring injury, but they still gave him a decent amount of playing time as Lauletta struggled and also started to get banged around by the Patriots pass rush. His final drive resulted in the second NYG touchdown of the night thanks to three NE penalties (one of which nullified a pick 6).


-This was one of the roster competitions to keep an eye on. If NYG ends up keeping a fourth RB on the team, it will come down to one of Jalen Simmons, Robert Martin, and Jhurell Pressley. Simmons seems to have the inside track, as he saw the most playing time and carries. His footwork and vision seem to be a notch or two higher than the others. He works his way through traffic with a low pad level and showed enough burst. Pressley and Martin have had their moments here, but now that Simmons is healthy again, I think he won the role if they do keep a fourth RB.


-Just like the RB position, it seems there may be one more WR spot up for grabs. Kalif Raymond was featured a few times, finishing with a team high 7 targets but only brought in 1 reception. He was the victim of a couple bad deep balls from Lauletta despite impressive releases off the line. Amba Etta-Tawo had the play of the night with a 41 yard touchdown that was 37 yards after the catch. His impressive burst and long stride speed jumped off the screen in a game full of backups. His hot start to training camp simmered down but he finished with a bang. He did drop a ball later in the game, however.

-Travis Rudolph, a popular player at this time last year, caught all 3 targets that were thrown his way. I am surprised he hasn’t been given more looks with this regime. He, along with Roger Lewis (who had another quiet night), seem to be heading elsewhere this season. Alonzo Russell is an interesting guy. He flashed a couple times in games and at 6’4/210, that kind of size might be something to work with on the practice squad.


-No Evan Engram or Rhett Ellison in this one. Jerell Adams, Garrett Dickerson, and Scott Simonson saw the majority of the snaps. As much as Adams has been up and down this preseason, I think he gets the nod for the number three role. He added a couple more catches and actually had a very solid night blocking the edge. Simonson brings similar presence to the trenches but he just doesn’t have the catch radius that Adams does.


-Sticking with the theme of the night, it was a night full of backups. John Greco and Chad Wheeler both allowed sacks but it appears both are going to be primary backups for at least the start of 2018. What I don’t like about Wheeler is the lack of progress he has made with technique. There was a play where he was pass blocking while facing the quarterback trying to box the defender out. He gets turned around and caught off balance way too often. Greco offers the versatility inside you want on game day. He can play OC and both OG spots. His strong preseason play combined with his strong finish in 2017 provides security.

-John Jerry may be an expensive backup and he too has some awful looking technique at times, but he can still get plenty of movement in the run game as a straight ahead blocker. He had some nice pops at he point of attack. Perhaps the most impressive young lineman on this team is Chris Scott. He, too, provides versatile depth inside and he graded out in a positive manner for the fourth week in a row, the only linemen on the team to do so.


-This was a night for Lorenzo Carter to show what he’s got, and he shined. The rookie recorded 2 pressures and a sack in just 18 snaps played. With the status of Olivier Vernon up in the air, Carter’s role is going to be an important one whether he is ready or not. He showed excellent hand usage, easy leverage, and the well-known speed in space. Avery Moss finished with 5 tackles but failed to make a difference in the pass game. He has continued to struggle to show any sort of physical progression in year two.


-The most crowded/deep position group on this roster. Robert Thomas appears to be entrenched as the primary backup at NT. He recorded a sack and 3 tackles. Thomas is going to benefit greatly from this scheme because it allows him to do what he does best, attack up field. He carries a lot of power when he moves north and consistently creates a new line of scrimmage.

-A.J. Francis led the group in snaps but was inconsistent. The one glaring hole in his game and this dates back to college, is the pad level. He gets too upright and will get easily moved. Izaah Lunsford had a pressure and flashed some nice athletic ability, but he is a sloppy player.


-One of the more interesting position battles on this roster may have very well came down to this game. Calvin Munson was a feel good story at this time last year, but he really hasn’t burst into the top 3 or 4 inside linebacker rotation. He doesn’t have the speed or coverage ability for this scheme and his presence between the tackles seems to get lost. Tae Davis, while undersized, has been displaying the opposite. He finished with 6 tackles and factors more on special teams with his speed. He plays bigger than his size but he has had at least 1 missed tackle in each game, including this one.

-Ray-Ray Armstrong has developed more and more with each week. He has picked up this scheme as well as anyone on the team and matched with his skill set, he is going to be a factor. The former safety covered well up the seam and also laid the wood on a QB hit early, probably the hardest hit of the night.


-A lot of competition in this group. I wouldn’t say it is a strong group of corners. They are competing for the spots on the bottom of the depth chart. With that said, Donte Deayon had his breakout performance with 2 interceptions and 2 pass breakups. His size is always going to limit him in certain situations, but he has the knack for the ball that you want to see in a CB. Great reaction time and the anticipation is improving.

-Chris Lewis-Harris had a solid night with 2 pass break ups. He did a nice job of keeping himself in the right position. I think he has shown enough to make the roster but he may get caught on the wrong side of the numbers game. I like his ability to cover moreso than William Gay, but Gay’s experience and versatility may get him the nod. Leonard Johnson is still a guy I would like to keep around as well. He had a couple of physical tackles and he plays with the short memory and aggression I want.


-Andrew Adams, starter of 17 games over the past 2 seasons, got plenty of time to show his worth. He had a couple of nice tackles, one of which was for a loss, where he showed the needed range and physicality. But similar to what we have seen out of him in the past, he missed 2 tackles and was way too late on deep coverage responsibilities. He just doesn’t show the instincts you need back there. Michael Thomas, a guy this staff may want to keep around for locker room reasons, finished with 5 tackles and played like a hard-nosed linebacker at times. He plays big and may be the ideal backup to Landon Collins.

-Sean Chandler got playing time late and showed quality movement in coverage, but he is too much of a non factor against the run.


K Marshall Koehn: 0/0 and 0/1 XP. Koehn missed his lone extra point attempt. He really has no shot at making this roster anyway.

P Riley Dixon: 6 Punts – 45.2 avg / 43.5 net. Very good net average there. 4 of his 6 punts were pinned inside the 20.


-CB Donte Deayon, LB Lorenzo Carter, DT Robert Thomas


-OT Chad Wheeler, QB Kyle Lauletta, S Andrew Adams


-The Patriots know what they are doing when it comes to scouting and developing QBs. That’s why I am still scratching my head with their selection of Danny Etling. He is a plus athlete with a strong arm, but he is very erratic from a release and overall accuracy standpoint. I can’t imagine he is their long term plan at QB for the post-Brady era.

-Another spot NE has done overly well with when it comes to the draft is linebacker. I’m sure some of it is scheme based, but I would keep a close eye on whoever they cut there. They have a surplus of young talent that produce on multiple fronts.

-The Achilles’ heal of this team is going to be the OL. I don’t think they were upset about losing Nate Solder for the contract he got, but this group is very thin on the edges. Brady can overcome it to an extent, but their floor at the position has been getting lower and lower each year.


-The biggest victory for NYG this preseason is the fact they enter the year with no major injuries. No, Darian Thompson’s hamstring injury is not major and I’m not sold he will make the team anyway.

-If Donte Deayon proves to be a capable playmaker as the #3 or #4 corner on this team, he could prove to be the unsung hero of this defense. NYG has had issues creating turnovers over the years and we know this scheme can force QBs into throwing balls that they don’t want to. That is where the playmakers need to rise up and make things happen.

-As we enter the one week away window, the three biggest concerns on this team are: lack of balance and stability on the OL, minimal pass rush without over-blitzing, and no playmaker at free safety.

Aug 282018
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Ray-Ray Armstrong, New York Giants (August 24, 2018)

Ray-Ray Armstrong – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 22 – New York Jets 16


Week 3 of the preseason is usually perceived to be the closest thing to a real game as we will see before kickoff weekend. Eli Manning was back on the field and played preseason-high 34 snaps, but his star playmakers Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley remained on the sidelines. The Jets on the other hand, sent out their shiny new toy, rookie Sam Darnold, as the starting quarterback as the team tries to figure out what to do at the position week 1.

The Jets took control of the game early, using an 11-play drive to put up their first 7 points of the night via a Bilal Powell touchdown run. After a back and forth exchange that left with NYG winning the field position battle, Hunter Sharp returned a punt for a 55 yard touchdown. It was a precursor for how poorly the Jets’ special teams would play the rest of the night, an ongoing problem for the team so far this preseason.

The Jets then took the lead back early in the second quarter on a Darnold pass to newly signed Terrelle Pryor. This was after a red zone fumble by NYG veteran Jonathan Stewart, whom has had a nightmare-ish start to his career with Big Blue. NYG then settled down and scored on their next four drives, all field goals off the foot of Aldrick Rosas, the clear front-runner for the job. The Jets continued to shoot themselves in the foot with penalties and mental mistakes. NYG took a 19-13 lead into halftime.

Backups dominated the playing time from there on out, as the two teams struggled to string together long drives. It wasn’t until halfway through the fourth quarter where the Jets had a 7+ play drive, as Teddy Bridgewater continued to impress. They were able to get it within 6, but the Giants held off their cross-town rivals 22-16 for the win.


Eli Manning: 17/23 – 188 yards – 0 TD/0 INT. After sitting out last week in Detroit, Manning was back on the field for what is likely to be his last full dress rehearsal. It was the best version of Manning we have seen in quite some time. Comfortable and confident in the pocket, accurate on all levels, and able to spread it around. The lack of Jets pass rush ability helped, but Manning made some big throws that gave me assurance for this year. He still has it. He did under throw the deep balls a tad, but nothing to be alarmed about. He really does remind me of his brother, Peyton, late in his career with DEN. He may not be able to adjust quickly on the move and he won’t drive the ball downfield like he used to, but he is more than capable of getting the job done.

Davis Webb: 5/11 – 73 yards – 0 TD/0 INT. Webb was in for about a third of the offensive plays. He did get some action against the first team Jets defense. He didn’t do anything to hurt or help himself too much. Very nice touch throw to Russell Shepard on a 3rd and 12 but he also held onto the ball too long in the pocket which resulted in a sack. When Webb has everything lined up, he really is an attractive thrower. It could be much worse when it comes to the backup QBs in this league.


Jonathan Stewart: 3 att – -7 yards – 0 TD. That isn’t a typo, Stewart finished with negative seven yards. He also fumbled inside the NYJ 10-yard line that Leonard Williams almost returned for a touchdown. I don’t want to write him off after poor preseason performances (10 carries for -5 yards) but he is moving like he has cinderblocks attached to his feet. Lethargic and unable.

Wayne Gallman: 11 att – 23 yards / 4 rec – 19 yards. Gallman continues to impress with his quickness, vision, and explosion. He also had a couple nice blitz pickups in pass protection. There was a stretch in the 3rd quarter where he touched the ball 7 out of 8 plays. He really does have the versatility to be a factor in any kind of situation. Some backup RBs in the league are valuable in only specific situations, but Gallman can bring a lot of options to this offense in any situation.

Juhrell Pressley – 13 att / 71 yards. Signed earlier in the week, Pressley stepped on the field in a NYG uniform for the first time and impressed. I think there is one, maybe even two, spots on the depth chart available at RB. Pressley runs bigger than his size and showed impressive vision and decision making in his debut. I expect him to get a lot of touches in week 4.


-Sterling Shepard: 7 rec / 78 yards. I’ll say this right now. If Shepard stays healthy this year, he is going to produce, big time. The attention to detail he shows as a route runner combined with his top-tier quick twitch and stop/go explosion is as dangerous as any slot receiver in the NFL. And yes, I mean that. He made a couple of high-level catches, showing improved ball skills and ability in traffic.

-Cody Latimer: 1 Rec / 54 yards. Latimer hasn’t been used much in preseason, but he took in the longest play of the night via a deep ball from Manning. He really blew by Morris Claiborne and if Eli put that just a little further downfield, it would have been a TD.

-I am still holding onto the idea that Russell Shepard is going to make this team as the number four or five receiver. His experience in the slot and outside gives him the needed versatility and he is a factor on special teams as gunner. In addition, he made another tough catch for a first down in the 3rd quarter that I simply don’t think the other potential backups could have made. Hunter Sharp continues to struggle with drops and despite impressive athletic and return ability; he may be playing his way out of a job. He did return a punt for a touchdown though. Alonzo Russell brought in a 47 yard catch, displaying size and strength. Roger Lewis continues to show why he is near the bottom of the depth chart.


-Evan Engram: 3 rec / 23 yards. His night was short, as on the 5th drive he was sandwiched between two Jets defenders and was popped in the head. He left the game with a concussion for the second year in a row. Like Shepard, Engram is going to be as tough a matchup as there is at the position on 3rd downs. Losing him for any time would be devastating.

-Rhett Ellison also left the game early with migraine issues, opening the door for Jerell Adams and Scott Simonson. Adams was the second most targeted receiver on the night, finishing with 3 catches and 12 yards. Simonson’s avenue to make this team is via blocking, but he didn’t grade out well in this one. He allowed a sack and two tackles. Adams may get this number three spot by default unless someone shakes free during cut down period around the league.


-Great night for the left side of the line, especially in pass protection. Nate Solder neutralized everything that was sent his way. Will Hernandez had quiet night (other than a holding penalty) in a good way and looks more comfortable than he did the previous two weeks. With a rookie that is likely to start week 1, that is all you can ask for.

-Ereck Flowers wasn’t matched up against any plus-pass rushers but he did a fine job. He allowed 1 pressure. Patrick Omameh continues to struggle, he just seems heavy and delayed off the snap. He struggled moving to his left, allowing 2 pressures and a tackle for loss. I haven’t seen anything that makes me think he deserves the starting job hands down other than a lack of intra-team competition.

-Another position that may need further examining is center. Brett Jones outplayed Jon Halapio, more notably in the run game. We know that Jones struggles in pass protection and he isn’t one of the new regime’s “guys”, but I trust him more than Halapio. Better movement off the ball and a more consistent level of play. (Note: This was written PRIOR to the trade).

-Chad Wheeler has not taken a step forward this year. His footwork is very poor even though he carries plus-athleticism. He is playing way too off balanced and top heavy. Nick Becton, on the other hand, continues to progress.


-Kerry Wynn continues to be the MVP of preseason football. He recorded another sack, a tackle for loss, and 2 QB pressures. He is bringing the heat from all angles against different kinds of blockers. The versatility he brings is huge.

-Olivier Vernon and Kareem Martin both had quiet nights despite playing half the snaps. Martin needs to be a rotational player and if he ends up being one of the feature guys, this pass rush is in trouble. He doesn’t jump the snap and his adjustments take too long.

-Lorenzo Carter doesn’t seem ready for impact play, but I do like how disciplined he is with his techniques and the mental side of the game. It’s important players follow the progression of learning the scheme, consistently do things right, then catch up to the speed of the game. His athleticism is there, but it is going to take time for him to play fast and strong. He finished with a half-sack and 2 assisted tackles.

-Are Avery Moss and Romeo Okwara competing for a last edge spot on this team? If so, I think Okwara wins because he has more inside-outside versatility and brings more upside to the table as an athlete. Moss moved well post-snap, but he doesn’t adjust to blockers with enough power. Weak hands and gets pushed back against the run too easily.


-Damon Harrison pushed the Jets’ interior blockers where he wanted. He has been shutting down the opposing running games each week and I expect to see more of the same. Not only does he have superior physical presence, but he plays smart. His first step post-snap are almost always productive in that he reads the action instantly.

-Fellow starters Dalvin Tomlinson and rookie B.J. Hill had solid nights as well. More of the same from these two. Tomlinson was a little more active, finishing with a TFL and knockdown. If he is going to be more than a solid player, his pass rush repertoire needs to lengthen. Not looking down on him at all here; he is going to be a part of a very stout run defense. But what he does against the pass right now is limited.

-Josh Mauro had an active night. He has looked better and better each week and it will be adding fuel to the fire on this defensive line when he comes back after his suspension. He finished with 4 tackles, a half sack, and a knockdown. I can’t say this enough, he along with fellow backup Robert Thomas are going to make this defensive front one of the best run defending groups in the league.


-Alec Ogletree finished with 3 tackles, 1 for a loss. He wasn’t tested in coverage much. B.J. Goodson was, however, and he just can’t hang in space with receivers that are crossing the field. I don’t expect him to run with those guys, but he hasn’t showed the anticipation that is needed.

-This brings me to a thought I have had for a couple weeks. After another impressive showing by Ray-Ray Armstrong, is there a chance he takes a hold of that starting spot at some point? He is a much better athlete and his progress as a run defender continues to stand out. He has been making good reads and working his way through traffic, two things he struggled with last year. I think there is more flexibility with Armstrong than there is with Goodson. Something to look for.

-Mark Herzlich and Tae Davis got a lot of action in the second half. Herzlich has been quietly effective. He does a lot of dirty work but he has also been covering a lot of ground in coverage. He was excellent in zone defense.


-Eli Apple saw a lot of playing time, leading the team in snaps. He had an up and down night, recording a pass break up but also getting flagged for holding. The handsy-corner has been showing more of the same. Impressive ability and interesting potential but he just can’t seem to put together a quality game from start to finish. B.W. Webb allowed the Jets touchdown pass on a crossing route to Terrelle Pryor. Just late to read and couldn’t catch up.

-Donte Deayon saw his first action of the preseason. He finished with 4 tackles but also missed one in space. I like the heart he plays with, but he just gets pushed around too much and I think he will be a liability as a tackler. In an aggressive scheme where you will see a lot of 1-on-1 matchups with the corners, that worries me.


-Landon Collins is playing with great lateral range. Think of this run defense clogging the middle with their line then Collins going unblocked to the sidelines. Just another reason why I think this defense will be elite against the run which will be important in this division.

-Curtis Riley appears to have the spot locked up next to Collins. The hamstring injury to Darian Thompson continues to keep him off the field and Andrew Adams doesn’t appear to be in the running. Michael Thomas is a fine rotational player who will be a factor on special teams. He is tough and productive in the box. Do any of these guys make plays against deep passing? That is another fear I have with this defense that lacks a superior pass rush.


-K Aldrick Rosas: 4/4 (Made 48, 40, 27, 21). Rosas has been getting the opportunities and passing with flying colors. If he can maintain his consistency, I bet he ends up being one of the highest scoring kickers in the league.

-K Marshall Koehn: 1/1 (Made 44). Nice security blanket to have but as long as Rosas is kicking them straight, Koehn won’t be here in a couple weeks.

-P Riley Dixon: 5 punts – 41.0 avg / 33.3 net. Had a few opportunities to pin them tight but he put 2 in the end zone.


-WR Sterling Shepard, DE Kerry Wynn, K Aldrick Rosas


-OG Patrick Omameh, OLB Kareem Martin, RB Jonathan Stewart


-The commentators said this a couple time on Friday and I am sure a few more will repeat it during the season. The Darnold vs. Barkley debate is going to be a thing for their entire careers respectively. I hate that, personally. Two different systems and situations. Two different positions. Regardless, Darnold has gotten a lot of playing time in these first 3 weeks of preseason and nothing has made me think he would have been a better pick than Barkley.

-The Jets may be historically bad when it comes to the pass rush. I’m not only judging their preseason performance here, either. Their personnel, or lack thereof, really stands out. Combine that with a scheme that is overly reliant on blitzing to bring 5+ defenders to the passer, it is just a recipe for a disaster.

-When QB Teddy Bridgewater was coming out of Louisville, I didn’t have the franchise QB grade on him. Good college player and a great intangibles kid, but I didn’t see it. To me, the glaring weakness was a lack of physical presence and a body type that screamed injuries. I still feel that way even though he has had a few nice preseason performances against backups. I think he is an easy kid to root for, thus it sways the overall view on him as a QB.


-Speaking of the poor NYJ pass rush, I was really pleased with the pocket Eli Manning had to work with. When his confidence and assurance is there, he looks like he has more than enough left in the tank. Give him this Shurmur offense that can take advantage of Manning’s mental capacity and pass-versatility, I think this is going to be the best NYG offense we have seen in a long time.

-Three weeks of preseason football and I still think the OC/RG situation has a ways to go in terms of being figured out. The trading of Brett Jones to MIN has all but handed the job to Halapio with John Greco as the primary backup, but as previously mentioned I think that job should still be very much up in the air. And we may have to go back to John Jerry at RG if Omameh doesn’t step it up.

-The next biggest worry of this team resides in the defensive backfield. If the pass rush doesn’t generate a lot of pressure to a point where the QB needs to rush through progressions, I’m just not confident this team can cover. The LBs have been getting torched in the middle of the field, Eli Apple appears to the same thing we have watched in recent years, and the group of below average cover men behind him won’t scare anyone.