Jan 092024
Wan'Dale Robinson, New York Giants (January 7, 2024)

Wan’Dale Robinson – © USA TODAY Sports


-Tyrod Taylor: 23/33 – 297 yards / 1 TD – 1 INT / 98.0 RAT

Taylor added 38 rushing yards on 8 carries. It was an eventful night for the 34-year-old backup who is just months away from free agency. It was an odd game for him with his typical ups and downs that we are accustomed to watching. He made some explosive plays down the field, he threw an awful interception in the red zone, he made some Houdini escapes from pressure, he had to be peeled off the ground multiple times with short-term injuries (even to the point Tommy DeVito had to come in). One thing is for certain, whenever Taylor is on the field for extended snaps, you are going to see it all in both good and bad ways. He played a good (not great) game overall, but the standout trait I see in him (after watching him dropping back the most times he’s had in a season since 2017) is how fast he can get the ball out and set his playmakers up for success. While the ball placement is inconsistent, there is a feel to the game he shows that young quarterbacks can learn a lot from. I enjoyed watching him play this year and he will undoubtedly get another backup job in 2024 if he wants it. NYG should consider keeping him around no matter what they end up doing in the draft. I’ve seen a lot of backup QB play in 2024, Taylor is one of the top five or six in that role league-wide.


-Saquon Barkley: 18 att – 46 yards – 2 TD / 2 rec – 51 yards

Much will be made about Barkley’s future with the team as we dive into offseason mode. I will lightly touch on that at the bottom of this article. Barkley’s two touchdowns gave him his first ever back-to-back double-digit score season of his career. They got him the ball in space on both those scores and as I’ve been pounding the table for years, the results are great when he gets put in that situation. While he has never been a productive/effective bruiser even though he is 225+ pounds, he does do damage on guys when he gets some momentum in the open field. He can make them miss, but he can also pick up hidden yards after contact. I applaud the way he finished this one out and how professional he has remained since the awkward contract situation last offseason. Again, more on him below.

-Eric Gray rushed for 19 yards on 3 carries and added 9 more yards on a catch. One thing I saw in this game and all year from him on VERY limited touches was the lack of ability to make things happen after contact. There was not enough to label it an actual negative on his scouting report, but Gray played small in the few opportunities he had this year.


-Wan’Dale Robinson: 5 rec – 85 yards

What an exciting talent this kid is. All of his production came in the first half. I have to believe the effort in getting all the looks to Sterling Shepard in the second half impeded Robinson from getting his first game of over 100 yards in the passing game. He plays faster than everyone on that offense. You can show me forty times and maybe vertical routes, but Robinson plays the game so quick and explosive. Very strong end to the year for him and he is a key focal point in 2024 no matter what.

-Darius Slayton ended with 5 catches for 62 yards and a touchdown with a drop. It was his third straight game with a score, the first time we have seen that out of him since being drafted. He, too, finished the season on a high note and it looked like Tyrod Taylor got the most out of him. His game builds off the fact he can be a vertical threat. His drop rate in 2023 was a career low and he caught 66% of his targets, a career high. Now, if they can get him to be stronger in contested situations, I could see him being a viable number two.

-Sterling Shepard’s career with NYG (and maybe overall) ended with 18 yards on 3 catches along with a 6-yard run. If you get into the sentimental stuff, it was good to see the team try so hard to get him looks and one final score. He is and always has been a beloved teammate. As for the performance itself, it was a microcosm of what we know. He simply lost that explosive gear in short areas to make any substantial difference. He couldn’t do much on his own. Solid career for him, but one that did not reach the level we thought it would after a 69-catch, 8-touchdown rookie season in 2016.


-Darren Waller fought through a stinger (shoulder) but came back out and played through it. He finished with 5 catches for 45 yards. This is going to be a debatable situation among fans, but I would expect him back in 2024. This regime traded a day two pick for him and even though it was a lackluster season (his third in a row), much of it will be blamed on the situation and I bet they run it back. I understand what he can do on occasion, but I don’t see it with the 31-year-old with an alarming injury history. He lost a step or two and he hinders the running game.

-Daniel Bellinger saw some extra playing time and I thought it was one of his better blocking performances, although he did not get a single target in the passing game. If you put truth serum in this front office and coaching staff, I think they would admit to being somewhat disappointed in his year two. He did not take a step forward, and in some regards, he went backward. He will be back in 2024 without question, but I would rather it be in a depth role.


-Matt Peart got the start at right tackle. His lone start of the season was something I kept a close eye on the free agent to-be. While he did appear to tire out in the fourth quarter (understandable, he had played 60+ snaps just once since November 2021), I thought he played just fine. He allowed a pressure and was flagged for a hold. The footwork was really good, and remember, his size is a big factor. This is an interesting situation to follow, and I guarantee a new OL coach will want to work with him. He has the traits.

-The interior did not include John Michael Schmitz, who was out with a shin injury. Ben Bredeson shifted over to center played well. He allowed one pressure and a TFL. “Well” is a relative term. Bredeson has been the worst or second-worst lineman on this team and I have seen enough to say he can’t be here next season. I would rather take my chance on a day three rookie as a versatile interior backup. Mark Glowinski allowed 3 pressures and Justin Pugh added two. The coaching staff has opted to go put others in front of Glowinski throughout the year and I expect him gone next season along with Pugh. “Off the couch” was a cool story for a few weeks and I do think he helped solidify the line to a point, but he can’t hang in a starting role. Guard is a major, major need.

-Andrew Thomas was near-automatic, allowing just one pressure on a play Taylor held onto the ball too long. I walk away from 2023 believing even more so that this is a true, elite left tackle who makes the other four guys better. The OL never became “good” but when he came back, it became much more functional.


-Kayvon Thibodeaux ended the year on a high note with 3 pressures, one of which was a hit. He added 3 tackles and broke a pass up as well. There is no question he hit a wall down the stretch, but the first double-digit sack guy in a Martindale scheme ever after a quiet start to the season gives plenty of promise moving forward. The question is, can he be THE guy outside, or does NYG need to invest more there? I have not seen enough to label him as something more than I did when he came out – and that is a Harold Landry type (TEN).

-Azeez Ojulari had one of his most productive games of the season. One last shot at putting some quality stuff on tape before this Front Office makes personnel decisions. His 2 sacks were the first multi-sack game out of him since last December, and the third of his career in three years. He added 2 pressures (1 hit) and recovered a fumble. The blitz-heavy package used (especially against Hurts) freed him up a bit. There is something missing with his movement traits. The sudden re-direct seems tight and off-balanced, not what I saw in 2021, not even close.

-Jihad Ward added a sack to his career-high on the year and 4 pressures. Known for his run defense, he was a part of the crew that benefitted from all of the extra bodies Martindale sent at the PHI passers. This coaching staff likes Ward a ton but with a new scheme coming, there is a good chance he is gone.


-While it may not lead to an All-Pro spot (I can make a strong argument it should), Lawrence’s season ended strong. He had 3 pressures, 1 QB hit, and a tackle. The hamstring kept his workload down again and there were a couple plays to the outside where he did not get to that he did earlier in the year.

-Veterans A’Shawn Robinson and Rakeem Nunez-Roches both added a pressure and a tackle, Robinson’s going for a loss. Even though NYG has some interesting young talent in backup roles along the line, Robinson is a guy I would like to see back for the right price. He may wait like he did last year, but he added some stability and versatile impact that is hard to find.

-D.J. Davidson and Jordon Riley played a handful of snaps in spot duty once again, not really making much of an impact. Riley has no variety to his pass rush plans.


-Bobby Okereke and Micah McFadden both finished with 8 tackles. Okereke, who did not miss a snap all season (and played the fourth most in football), added a sack. Depending on the new scheme, I can see this duo coming back as the starting pair next season. Okereke is obviously a no-brainer, but McFadden did make a tremendous jump from year one to year two. While there are limitations in his game and he missed a ton of tackles, this is pair who complements each other well.

-Slight late season emergence for Isaiah Simmons as he finished with 2 pressures and 2 tackles, one of which was for a loss. To echo what I said last week, this season was by far the biggest percentage of snaps Simmons played on the edge and I think this is where he needs to be. I’m not sure where it will be, but there was enough on tape this season to prove he can play in a rotational role.


-Adoree’ Jackson finished with 7 tackles and allowed 6 completions on 8 targets. He allowed a higher completion percentage and more yards per catch than any full season prior to 2023. What to do with him is debatable because while he is overpaid, quality corners are hard to find. NYG doesn’t have much beyond Deonte Banks to work with.

-Tre Hawkins is in that discussion. He allowed a touchdown on a route concept he was way too late to recognize. That was the most glaring issue I saw out of the rookie from Old Dominion, understandably so. The tools are good enough, but the mind has not caught up yet. He did play physical against the run, and I think that is a sneaky-strong ingredient to his game.

-Cor’Dale Flott and Nick McCloud both played well albeit against second stringers for the majority of the second half. McCloud did force a fumble that NYG recovered and added 3 tackles. He brings value to the table with how versatile and physical he is.


-In his final game before heading toward free agency, Xavier McKinney had what may have been his best career game. 6 tackles, 2 interceptions (on consecutive plays), and a pass break-up. We have seen multi-INT games from him in the past, but both of these plays were elite-level. One showed his range from the middle of the field with a high-point catch, and the other was an immediate post-snap read ending with an explosive burst downhill. A case can be made that McKinney is the biggest personnel question mark on this current roster, Barkley included. While the franchise tag is always an option, his market is going to be high. A lot of teams need safety help, and he may be the top one available.

-Dane Belton, a week after his own 2-interception game, was back to making impact plays for the defense. He had 6 tackles, including a sack and a TFL, in addition to a pressure. He was a free rusher on both of his impact plays as a blitzer, but the burst is where I see him as a weapon. He plays fast, but possibly too fast for his own good. He added 2 missed tackles to his season total (8).


-K Mason Crosby: 2/2 (Made 24, 21)
-Jamie Gillan: 5 Punts / 45.6 avg – 44.0 net


-S Xavier McKinney, WR Wan’Dale Robinson, OT Andrew Thomas


-OG Justin Pugh, CB Adoree’ Jackson, DT Jordon Riley


(1) If you are a believer in momentum heading into the playoffs, you have to think PHI is going to see a quick exit. The wheels have fallen off, they now have multiple injuries to deal with, and they are on the road (1-4 as away team since October 9). There is nothing attractive about the Eagles right now and the Bucs defense has allowed the 7th fewest points in the NFL.

(2) What about the future of this team? If they lose this upcoming weekend, could we see a coaching change? I would be surprised but we have to remember Nick Sirianni does not seem to be fully endorsed by the players. He is a volatile personality who was very dependent on the coordinators he lost last offseason.

(3) Wide Receiver Quez Watkins is an off-radar free agent who I am sure this team will let walk after the season. He turns 26 in June and has played four years for the team. His playing time and involvement has been sporadic with the additions of A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith who came in after he did. This is an explosive threat with elite hands and a route tree that can work all over the field. If NYG wants to add both a speed threat and potential value grab at receiver (who can play outside and slot), Watkins is a guy to look for. I always like his tape.


(1) Here we are, the end of the season. Another long one that left us wanting more after high expectations. I write this on a Monday night hours after NYG fired multiple assistant coaches including the guys that ran the defense and special teams respectively. The biggest news, in my opinion, was seeing Offensive Line Coach Bobby Johnson being shown the door. It was an absolute must after seeing a lack of development in the young guys and poor cohesion overall from a line that allowed the second most sacks in the history of the game and the most since 1986. This tells me that Brian Daboll will be on notice in 2024. New coordinators, a few new positions coaches, and a lot of new personnel needs to bring in a different result. The honeymoon of 2023 is officially over. Now let’s see what he can do in a high-pressure New York environment.

(2) I’ve opted to keep Daniel Jones out of the game reviews since his ACL injury. If I am taking my own personal bias and opinion out of it, I strongly believe this organization is going to roll with him in 2024. Just based on the history of ownership and the fact you rarely (if ever) see a contract given like the one Joe Schoen inked him to last offseason swept under the rug just six games into it, I think they’re going to use that sixth overall pick on another tool. A receiver, a pass rusher, possibly even an offensive lineman is where I think they end up going. Again, not what I think they should do, but rather what I think they will do. A day two quarterback is something I could see though.

(3) Did we just watch Saquon Barkley’s final game in a Giants uniform? I still believe he is their best player, and I don’t think his contract demands are a deal breaker. But we’ve seen the average, good, and very good versions of him and I just don’t believe it puts wins on the board. I banged the table hard for him to be drafted in 2018 and there isn’t a bigger fan of the person he is than me. I like everything about him. But keeping emotion out of this, I would rather have topflight guard come to NYG via free agency than see Barkley back on the field. It sounds harsh, but this team needs too many pieces before it spends big resources on a running back who is barely better than average with a growing list of lower body injuries.

***Thank you to Eric and the BBI Community for reading and discussing the NYG reviews. As the years go by, I’m not sure how much longer I will be able to do these. I do not take it for granted and I do know there are some others who could probably do a better job than me.

I look forward to the offseason – I will be here on occasion, but this starts a very intense 3-4 month period of draft prep. Talk soon, everybody.

Jan 052024
John Mara, Joe Schoen, and Brian Daboll; New York Giants (November 26, 2023)

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

The end has finally come. Given preseason hopes and expectations, 2023 will likely go down as one of the most disappointing in New York Giants franchise history. The coaching staff, the quarterback, the offensive line, the weapons, the run defense, the pass rush, and special teams all came up short. In hindsight, a number of poor and odd personnel decisions were made including re-signing Daniel Jones to a long-term deal, the trade for Darren Waller, the retention of Sterling Shepard at the expense of the return game, and the entire handling of the offensive line. And once again, the injury monster that has plagued this team for more than a decade reared its ugly head.

Of all of those aforementioned issues, the most alarming was the rapid demise of the reputations of Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll. Last year at this time, Schoen was being lauded for taking tough but necessary steps to clean up the team’s salary cap mess. Daboll was receiving “Coach of the Year” honors with his entire staff being recognized for doing more with less than every other team in the NFL. Fast forward to January 2024 and the decision by Schoen and Daboll to make Daniel Jones one of the highest paid quarterbacks looks horrific and has erased the salary-cap freedom the team had created.

That is not to say there haven’t been good moves. The re-signing of Dexter Lawrence and Andrew Thomas ahead of either hitting free agency was smart. The decision to defer on Xavier McKinney and Adoree’ Jackson was wise. Same with trading away Leonard Williams for a good return and not spending wildly on outside free agents other than Bobby Okereke, who has panned out in a major way. But the Daniel Jones’ contract overshadows much of this, and he will continue to be the major point of contention on this team.

I could go on and on, but to cut to the chase, after appearing to make real progress in 2022, the teams seems to have returned to its clusterfuck ways. That makes the 2024 offseason perhaps one of the most important in team history. Are Schoen and Daboll going to turn this around? Can they at least provide a glimmer of hope again that things might be getting better? The alternative is too painful to contemplate right now.

Enter the Philadelphia Eagles, arguably Big Blue’s #1 antagonist for the past 16 years. To have a division rival own you to the tune of 26-7 since 2008 is simply pathetic. And the current regime is 0-4 against the Eagles, including a 38-7 playoff trouncing.

At the end of November, the defending NFC Champions, were once again soaring high and fielding an impressive 10-1 record. However, they have since plummeted to earth, losing four of their last five games. Their only victory during this time frame? Yup, against the New York Football Giants two weeks ago. The lowly Cardinals can beat the Eagles, but the Giants can’t.

So the Giants enter this game with fans having conflicting emotions. The Giants currently have the #5 overall pick. Their 12th loss keeps them at that spot and possibly higher, an important consideration if they indeed want to draft another quarterback. However, for all of us who hate those dirty birds, sending them into the playoffs with another embarrassing defeat would be sweet and bring a fleeting smile to our faces.


  • QB Tyrod Taylor (back – probable)
  • OC John Michael Schmitz (shin – questionable)
  • ILB Carter Coughlin (shoulder – probable)
  • CB Deonte Banks (shoulder – doubtful)
  • CB Darnay Holmes (foot – probable)
  • S Jason Pinnock (toe – out)

Some quick, general thoughts on the state of the team as we enter the offseason:

Quarterback: Point blank – the Giants have no viable starting quarterback on the roster.

I have moved from fully supporting Daniel Jones (2019-2020), to straddling the fence (2021-2022), to it’s time to move on (2023). He’s an injury-prone (one healthy season in five) quarterback who has problems throwing touchdown passes. At his best as a two-way threat in 2022, he now has two neck injuries and a torn ACL already despite being only 26 years old. In hindsight, perhaps the worst thing for this team was Daniel Jones’ performance in the playoff game against a bad Vikings defense. Too much was made of that game, and it was probably a significant factor in the franchise re-signing Jones to a $160 million deal. The playoff loss to the Eagles should have received more attention. The excuses are beyond tiresome at this point. He’s 22-36-1 as a starter. Now also factor into the equation that the ACL may prevent him from practicing in the spring and much of the summer, and if he gets hurt again, the team gets hit with another huge cap hit in 2025.

I’ve said it multiple times, I would find it incredibly foolish for this team to bank on Daniel Jones in 2024. If he’s pencilled in as the starter, I expect another losing season, more poor offense, another significant injury for Jones, and for Daboll to be fired. The alternatives? Since franchise-altering quarterbacks rarely hit free agency, the team will have to draft Jones’ replacement in April. Then Jones or some other quarterback on the roster can also serve as the bridge if the rookie isn’t ready. The financial risk to the team is if Jones gets injured. Would they be bold enough to bench him? Would the NFLPA get involved at that point? If the bridge is not Jones, then the Giants would likely sign a veteran to compete with Tommy DeVito, who may or may not have an NFL future. Could Tyrod Taylor, who will be an unrestricted free agent, re-sign with the team? Possible. But the team benched him once for DeVito already, he also can’t seem to stay healthy, and just demonstrated against the Rams the Jekyll-and-Hyde nature of his game.

But Eric, even if the Giants draft a quarterback with the first pick, the team is likely to lose and struggle offensively. Correct. But at least there will be hope. There is none with Jones at this point. If he’s named the starter, we may see empty seats at home games in September, something the team probably hasn’t experienced since the 1950s. The other option is to simply sign a veteran to compete with Jones, passing the buck until the 2025 NFL Draft. Not ideal.

Running Back: Saquon Barkley is the face of this team. Is that a good thing? I’m not so sure. During the six years he’s been with the Giants, the team has gone 33-64-1. Barkley has missed many of those games due to injury, but that has also been part of the problem. Despite being one of the team’s better talents, a case can be made that it might be better to turn the page and move on. Barkley will never be the same player as his tremendous rookie season, and for someone counting $10 million against the cap, his overall productivity isn’t eye-popping (916 rushing yards, 4.0 yards per rush average, 4 rushing touchdowns). The sixth-year veteran also continues to make questionable late-game mistakes (fumbling, dropped passes, mental lapses). Part of me says “no way” the Giants let him go; but part of me feels this is the end for Barkley with the Giants. We shall see. Regardless, here comes Round 2 of “will the Giants franchise Barkley or not?” and “is Barkley pissed?” I’ve been saying for two years now, the Giants should have traded him when his value was higher. It would have been better for Barkley too.

Wide Receiver: My current feeling is that Jalin Hyatt, Wan’Dale Robinson, and some 2024 offseason acquisition will be the starting trio in 2024. That offseason acquisition could be an expensive free agent or even a top-10 draft pick. Darius Slayton is under contract for one more season and Isaiah Hodgins will be a restricted free agent if the team tenders him. I don’t expect Parris Campbell (UFA) to be retained. The decision to keep Sterling Shepard over Jamison Crowder was mind-boggling. Sterling’s career likely ends on Sunday. Look for the team to get him at least one catch.

Tight End: My worst prediction for this team was me saying the Giants would have one of the best tight end groups in the NFL in 2023. Darren Waller was uncoverable in training camp, but when the real games counted, the old hamstring issues appeared, the big plays and touchdowns disappeared, and he missed five games. Worse, pleasant rookie surprise Daniel Bellinger took a major step back in his sophomore season. Rather than a strength, it would not be shocking to see the team completely reset at this position in the offseason. The Giants need to at least a credible blocking tight end, something Bellinger did well in college but has not done at the pro level. Lawrence Cager only caught four passes.

Offensive Line: The decade+ Achilles’ heel of the New York Football Giants. The #1 reason why the second half of Eli Manning’s career was a colossal disappointment, a strong argument can be made that it also catastrophically sabotaged the careers of Saquon Barkley (#2 pick in the draft) and Daniel Jones (#6 pick in the draft). Without a doubt, it is also a huge reason why this team has struggled not only to field a competent offense under multiple head coaches and offensive coordinators, but can’t seem to beat the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. Despite high-level free agency and NFL Draft investments over the course of multiple regimes, the unit is still a mess. The coaching staff has not developed Evan Neal, Joshua Ezeudu, and John Michael Schmitz as hoped. Mark Glowinski was a disappointing signing; he has one year left on his contract but he makes too much money and no longer starts. Ben Bredeson is best suited as a back-up; he could depart in free agency. Shane Lemieux and Matt Peart are still here for some reason and should not be retained. A desperate in-season signing, Justin Pugh should not be re-signed. Tyree Phillips just tore his quad tendon, an injury that could take a year to recover from. A new quarterback makes the most sense for this team, but nothing will really change until the team improves the offensive line. It’s beyond ridiculous at this point. The Giants have allowed a whopping 83 sacks in 2023, with one more game left to play. The next team (Jets) have given up 63.

Offensive Coaches: In what will be a common theme with the coaching staff, a promising start by Mike Kafka in 2022 went off the rails in 2023. Last season, Kafka was forced to adapt to talent-starved roster that got worse with injuries. The team completely shifted to an RPO style that fit the strengths of Daniel Jones’ game and caught opposing defenses off guard. There was also some innovation in the play-calling. The play of the quarterbacks and offensive line may have unfairly sabotaged Kafka in 2023, but it feels like he didn’t rise to the occasion. Is he on the way out? Is Brian Daboll eyeing Ken Dorsey, who was fired by the Bills in November? Nevertheless, keep one thing in mind, this is Brian Daboll’s team and Brian Daboll’s offense. Everything goes through him.

For no other reason than an attempt to salvage Evan Neal, the team also may fire OL Coach Bobby Johnson. It was announced this week that RB Coach Jeff Nixon has left for Syracuse. TE Coach Andy Bischoff’s unit did not distinguish itself.

Defensive Coaches: I’m starting here because everything that follows ultimately depends on who is coaching the defense in 2024 and what defensive style the team employs. Rumors abound that Daboll and Wink Martindale are parting ways. If true, then the defense could radically change unless Daboll decides to promote someone on Wink’s current staff. Regardless, while the defense was clearly the team’s strongest unit, it did not live up to expectations. Other than turnovers, the overall defensive team stats remained disappointing in terms of total yards allowed, rushing yards allowed, and points allowed. Even in games where the defense played well, there were key lapses that significantly contributed to defeats.

The stars of the defensive coaching unit seem to be DL Coach Andre Patterson and DB Coach Jerome Henderson. Hopefully both stick around.

Defensive Line: Dexter Lawrence is the heart and soul of the defense. Pray he stays healthy. The team will have to adjust to life without Leonard Williams. While the team has some decent veterans and young pups at the position, none of these guys are really pass rushers. Ideally the Giants find a way to retain A’Shawn Robinson, who really played well in the second half of the season. Rakeem Nunez-Roches remains under contract and Jordon Riley and D.J. Davidson flash ability.

Inside Linebackers: In a bad season, Bobby Okereke was one of the few bright spots. He started off slow but turned into a real and consistent difference-maker for the bulk of the season. Micah McFadden grabbed ahold of the other inside spot, played well for much of the season, but his missed tackles became more of an issue as the year progressed. Starter or back-up? The Giants gave up a late pick for Isaiah Simmons right before the season started. Simmons is at his best in coverage and attacking the quarterback; he’s at his worst when trying to read-and-react, play off blocks, and play the run. Does the team re-sign him? Darrian Beavers was signed to the 53-man roster last week. He is now more than a full year removed from his ACL injury.

Outside Linebackers: Kayvon Thibodeaux was making a real impact until the calendar turned to December. For whatever reason, his sacks (11.5) have slowed since then. Still, it’s been a mostly positive second year for Thibodeaux. The real problem is Azeez Ojulari’s one-promising career has completely fizzled out. He has one more year remaining on his contract and could be retained for depth, but the Giants desperately need another pass-rush threat opposite of Thibodeaux. It’s easily one of the top needs on the team and another position worthy of high-level investment. There is no depth here either with Jihad Ward, Boogie Basham, Benton Whitley, and Tomon Fox. Help!

Cornerbacks: Another bright spot is that it appears Deonte Banks is the real deal. There was the expected learning curve but his future is bright. Fellow rookie Tre Hawkins earned three starts early in the season before he was benched in favor of Adoree’ Jackson. Wink said this week the team is still very high on him. Whether or not he turns out to be a quality player significantly impacts the way this position is viewed. There is a good chance the team simply lets Adoree’ Jackson walk in free agency. He didn’t live up to his contract and was too inconsistent. Cor’Dale Flott was too up-and-down but he does flash ability. The Giants will have to make free agent decisions on Nick McCloud (RFA) and Darnay Holmes (UFA). My guess is the latter walks.

Safety: While not spectacular (except for Pinnock’s interception against Miami), the starting duo of Xavier McKinney and Jason Pinnock was steady and reliable. The big question here is can the Giants re-sign McKinney to a reasonable contract. It would not be shocking to see another team willing to spend more than the Giants. (Also keep in mind that Wink Martindale was deeply hurt by McKinney’s public criticism of the coaching staff in early November). Dane Belton has not played a lot since he was drafted two years ago, but when he plays, he seems to find the ball. He needs to become more reliable and consistent when tackling and covering however. Gervarrius Owens hardly played this year, but flashed in the summer.

Coaching Staff: Thomas McGaughey has served as assistant special teams coordinator under Tom Coughlin. He served as the primary ST coordinator under Pat Shurmur, Joe Judge, and now Brian Daboll. But his unit mostly disappointed again in 2023, highlighted by the blocked field goal in the opener that seemed to spiral everything out of control. Could Daboll be moving on from ALL three coordinators? The last time something like that happened was when Tom Coughlin replaced both his offensive and defensive coordinators in 2007.

Kickers: Graham Gano had arguably been the team’s best player from 2020-2022. But he and the coaching staff decided to allow him to play with an injured knee, which led to him missing a game-winning 35-yard field goal against the Jets, effectively ending any playoff hopes. He was then placed on IR, needing surgery. There is no word yet on his future. Comically, the Giants then went through a series of kickers, including Randy Bullock, Cade York, and Mason Crosby due to injuries hitting the position. Punter Jamie Gillan was having a strong second season until groin and knee injuries hampered him in December. The real question here is can Gano come back as effective as ever? Or do the Giants take their chance with someone like York?

Returners: The Giants once had a dedicated return specialist named Dwayne Harris (2015-2017). He scored on both punt and kickoff returns. Then the team stopped using dedicated return specialists. The touchdowns disappeared and the mistakes multiplied. The Giants signed dedicated return specialist Gunner Olszewski in early November 2023. And the Giants returned a punt for a touchdown the first time since Dwayne Harris was here. Fancy that. It’s not rocket science.

No quotes this week, but in listening to all three coordinators, it’s clear none of them are guaranteed to return.

Last week, I wrote that stealing a win would hurt the team more. But my visceral hatred of the Eagles causes me to rethink this policy.

Jan 022024
Dane Belton, New York Giants (December 31, 2023)

Dane Belton – © USA TODAY Sports


-Tyrod Taylor: 27/41 – 317 yards / 1 TD – 1 INT / 87.3 RAT

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly was the theme of this game and it all stemmed from the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of one of its quarterbacks. Taylor’s highlight reel from this game alone is enough to make his supporters create the case he can be the guy. His lowlights from this game alone are enough to prove why he’s destined for backup duty for the remainder of his career. Taylor has a confident and quick trigger to launch the ball downfield and his success there is real. Here is a fun fact you can use at the bar with your friends next time. Taylor’s first full season as a starter, 2015, he ranked 3rd in the NFL in passer rating on throws 20+ yards downfield (109.5). Who was first? Eli Manning (114.3).

His explosive plays (4 – one of which was on the ground) and the 47-yarder called back by the Daniel Bellinger hold were clear, easy-to-see differences in this offense as a whole. At the same time, the layup-misses were on full display, one of which would have given the Giants a one-point lead on the two-point conversion attempt to Saquon Barkley. Then you have to add in the the interception and fumble on 4th-and-1 (not technically a turnover, but LAR scored a touchdown three minutes later) and there you have the Jekyll & Hyde style of play Taylor brings to the table. Acceptable for a rookie or second-year player, not a veteran (unless of course you’re nothing more than a back-up).


-Saquon Barkley: 12 att – 39 yards / 3 rec – 19 yards

A very uneventful game for Barkley. He did get six targets in the passing game in addition to the failed two-point conversion attempt. He never got it going besides a 13-yard gain. His drop on a 3rd-and-9 that had a shot at moving the chains is something we have seen too often over his career. The head-scratching gaffes in the passing game are, in my opinion, one of the glaring deficiencies in his game when comparing him to a Christian McCaffrey-type. He just never got over that hump after catching 91(!) balls as a rookie in 2018.

-Barkley went into the blue tent to get his shoulder checked. Rookie Eric Gray carried the ball once for two yards and Matt Breida saw a few uneventful snaps besides allowing a pressure.


-For the second time in as many weeks, Darius Slayton caught a long touchdown on a well-thrown deep ball. This one went for 80 yards. He added 26 more yards on 3 more catches. This marks three straight weeks of 60+ yards for Slayton, just the second time of his career where we have seen a stretch like this. He hit that mark in every game from week 8-12 last year but other than that, this is the most consistent stretch of his career. The significance of his ability to win vertically (and someone actually getting it to him) is such a vital component to the health of this offense.

-Wan’Dale Robinson led the team with 6 catches, finishing second with 55 yards. Forty-four of those yards came on two plays where he created after the catch. He took these little dump off passes over the middle and immediately accelerated to fast forward, moving faster than everyone on the field. Robinson also scored on a 24-yard end-around. Combine that with the toughness he showed and the development I see in his route running and NYG can head into 2024 knowing his he is a formidable weapon.

-Jalin Hyatt caught 3 passes for 25 yards. He was targeted four times officially, not including the 47-yard grab he had that was negated by a Bellinger holding penalty. He also dropped a downfield pass. After not seeing one ball thrown his way in Week 16, at least we saw him included in the game plan. Hyatt already gives off the sense of a credible, dangerous threat to the defense because of both his speed and ability to finish. I do see that extra step or two as an underneath route runner that hinders the separation, and his presence against contact is flimsy at best.

-Gunner Olszewski returned a 94 yarder for a touchdown, the first for NYG since Dwayne Harris did so in 2015. NYG never seems to get the return game figured out consistently, but this fifth-year pro formerly of the Steelers and Patriots has something. The vision and quick burst combined with the tough-dude mentality are worth keeping around at least through next summer. He’s never been a consistent part of a pro passing game but when the opportunities have come his way, he’s done well.

-Sterling Shepard dropped his second pass in his last four targets. Tough to watch a guy fall off the cliff like this.


-The tight ends were efficient in the passing game, combining for 9 catches and 90 yards on just 11 targets. Taylor missed a wide-open Waller on the one incompletion thrown in his direction. The blocking continues to be the glaring red flag for both the veteran and second-year player. Bellinger was actually flagged for holding twice, one of which took a 47-yard gain off the board. The struggles continue across the board for him.


-The duo of John Michael Schmitz and Ben Bredeson continues to worsen. The rookie center has hit the proverbial wall that many first-year players do at this point in the season. While he did make a key block in space on the Robinson touchdown, this was about as bad as a game from a center as you will find. He allowed 6 pressures, a sack, and was penalized two times. You may think it was All-Pro Aaron Donald who undressed him all afternoon, but it was third-round rookie Kobie Turner.

-Tyre Phillips played another solid game in pass protection prior to injuring his right knee/quad area. That looked like a serious one that is almost sure to keep him out of the start of 2024. Andrew Thomas played a mostly-clean game minus one pressure and a half-sack. He threw a key block on Robinson’s touchdown where he was about 25 yards away from his starting point. Good hustle and body control. The offensive line still stinks, but what a turn it made when he came back.

-Matt Peart came in for Phillips for 23 snaps, 20 of which were pass plays. For what we have seen out of him in recent years, he played well. I look forward to watching him against PHI for a full game; it is his last shot. This could determine a huge chunk of his future with NYG and the league.

-Justin Pugh allowed 2 pressures and a half-sack in addition to a tackle for loss. He is holding on for dear life at this point.


-Matthew Stafford excels at getting the ball out in a hurry. He is calculated and smart when it comes to deciding when to hang on for that extra second or two. His 2.13 seconds average time to throw was by far the quickest of the season, as a matter of fact the quickest since Week 3 of 2015. I bring that up because Kayvon Thibodeaux had just one pressure, making just three over the last three games. He has quieted down a lot. Azeez Ojulari had 2 QB hits on heavy-blitz packages where he was either left free or with minimal blocking across from him. I still think this is a top-three need on this roster.

-Jihad Ward, the veteran of the group, appears to be getting stronger as the season winds down. He recorded a sack and added 3 tackles. His 4.5 sacks are now tied with Dexter Lawrence and builds on his career high.


-Dexter Lawrence was back near a full snap load while playing on a beat-up hamstring. He had 2 tackles, one for a loss, and 2 pressures. Stafford’s quick throws kept some of the production down. He was winning off the line for most of the game, but they slowed him down just enough.

-The veteran accessories, A’Shawn Robinson and Rakeem Nunez-Roches, contributed with impact plays. The former ended with 5 tackles (as he continues his red-hot second half) and the latter recorded his first sack of the season. D.J. Davidson and Jordon Riley played uneventful snaps (about a dozen each) in back-up roles.


-Another big game from Bobby Okereke, the ironman. A team-high 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks. While it was not the best start of the season for him, Okereke was a home-run free agent signing. He has added a certain level of stability to the defense and there appears to be less mistakes made than when the likes of Tae Crowder was the main guy inside.

-Micah McFadden and Isaiah Simmons could not be more different when looking at their tools. One is short but physical, instinctive, and savvy against blockers. The other is tall, long, fast and explosive but lacking the IQ you want out of an inside linebacker. We saw a healthy mix of the two in this game with Simmons recording his first sack of the season and 3 tackles. More on this duo below.


-Adoree’ Jackson was the defensive version of the Tyrod Taylor roller coaster. He finished with 7 tackles, a pass break-up, and a forced fumble that NYG recovered, turning into three points. He missed 2 tackles, one of which was one of the more pathetic attempts a pro defender can put on tape. It resulted in an 80-yard gain for rookie receiver Puka Nacua. LAR scored a touchdown on the next play. The Rams went after him 11 times, making this the second time in as many weeks that the opponent threw at him over ten times. With Deonte Banks out, Jackson was the top corner on the field. But despite the expensive contract, he does not give the consistent level of play to be considered anything close to a number one.

-Nick McCloud played a season-high 62 snaps for the injured Banks. His physical brand continues to factor every time he is on the field, but he is an easy guy to beat for savvy route runners. The lack of anticipation makes him an easy target on third down and near the end zone. He allowed a touchdown and 80 percent of the passes thrown his way were completed.

-Cor’Dale Flott has had a rough second half of the season, but there are still flashes in coverage that I like. His movement was very clean. Nevertheless, the lack of presence against contact and his impact as a run defender hurt the defense in this one. He was flagged for defensive holding in the fourth quarter a play before the Rams final touchdown of the game.


-Jason Pinnock has played nearly as much as anyone this year with a fast and violent brand at safety. He injured his foot in the first half and missed the rest of the game. My guess is that will be it for him in 2023. Dane Belton came in relief and had the game of his life: 2 tackles, 2 interceptions, and a fumble recovery. The big plays somewhat overshadow the 2 missed tackles. Whether or not he can fill the Xavier McKinney role (if he leaves in FA) will be at least somewhat dependent on him avoiding those mistakes.

-McKinney finished with 7 tackles (0 misses) and allowed just one completion thrown his way. He has cleaned up his game a lot after a rough first half of the season. This is probably the biggest free agency decision the front office will make. I have been back and forth on him. Because so many teams in the NFL are looking for safety help, I have a feeling NYG will get priced out. I like McKinney. He does things on tape that do not show up in the box score weekly, but his value is not worth what he will likely get in the market.


-K Mason Crosby: 2/3 (Made 31, 32 / Missed 54 / Missed 1 XP)
-P Jamie Gillan: 5 punts / 44.4 avg – 44.4 net


-WR Darius Slayton, S Dane Belton, LB Bobby Okereke


-C John Michael Schmitz, CB Nick McCloud, OG Ben Bredeson


(1) Perhaps it is because we are used to the Rams being good. But what this team is doing with a roster that has more rookies than anyone in the NFL on their 53-man roster at the start of the year is simply stunning. I remember doing their pre- and post-draft team reports for Ourlads and couldn’t believe it. This coaching staff (not just McVay, but Raheem Morris as well) should be put on a pedestal for what they’ve done. Playoff-bound for the fifth time in seven years.

(2) Puka Nacua is arguably having the best rookie season we have ever seen when it comes to the production and where he was drafted. The FIFTH-round pick is FOURTH in the NFL in yards. Not among rookies, fourth among everyone. He is fifth in first downs. He is eighth in receptions. He is fourth in yards after catch. Stunning production for a guy everyone had a late day three / priority free agent grade on.

(3) Would you want to play the Rams in the post-season? Against a championship caliber quarterback who can still sling it, an All-Pro caliber receiver and record-setting rookie to complement him, and a pass rush that does not look great statistically, but Aaron Donald is still there and they have two rookies (Byron Young + Kobie Turner) who are blossoming fast. These guys are 4-3 on the road with wins at Seattle, Indianapolis, and a near-win at Baltimore that needed an absolutely crazy ending. In the NFC, there are only 2 teams I would hate to play against more than these guys.


(1) Can Evan Neal learn something from Tyre Phillips? I think he can. Phillips is a poor athlete and always has been. His Combine workout was one of the worst I’ve seen and Neal, while he won’t set any records athletically, is a much better mover. Phillips grades out better in pass protection though. What gives? Neal abandons his technique way too early, way too often. I think it is more of a confidence issue than anything and I hope he can watch Phillips and pick up the fact that if you do what you’re supposed to do with your feet and hands, you will not bottom out the way he does.

(2) Weeks before Isaiah Simmons was drafted, I said I would love to see him as an outside linebacker-only at some point. What he did at Clemson (which was everything) and all of the projecting we did ended up not being realistic. I’m still not sold even Martindale knows what to do with him. This is truth. He is at his best in attack mode. He is 6’4” with plus-length, and he is incredibly explosive. I don’t think he has every-down ability at a Thibodeaux-type spot, but I would love to see him be a designated pass rusher. He’s been there for just about 20 percent of his career snaps and he pressures the passer at a higher than 10 percent rate, a solid number. That is his calling card. McFadden is the kind of number two linebacker who should be getting a 30-40 percent snap share and taken off of the field in obvious passing situations. Neither should be THE guy unless they clean up the deficiencies, McFadden’s being the missed tackles (2nd most in the NFL).

(3) Here we are. The final game of the 2023 season before we go headfirst into offseason mode, arguably more active and undoubtedly more interesting than the regular season. NYG is up against a team that is falling off the track hard and fast. Even though everyone wants the better draft position (they’re top 8 no matter what), this is a game I believe could help them get over one of the roadblocks in their way, and that is beating Philly. Does it mean anything for 2024? Mathematically, nope. But this team needs to find ways to get past these guys in head-to-head matchups. Confidence is bigger in sports than many realize, and I view this as a huge game for the future of this nucleus.

Dec 292023
New York Giants fan (October 2, 2023)

© USA TODAY Sports

In last week’s game review, I wrote “There is a big difference between the Giants losing this game 40-6 and 20-13. I can more easily accept the latter. But another one-sided drubbing by a divisional opponent is a really tough pill to swallow.”

At halftime, the Giants were trailing 20-3, exactly on pace for a 40-6 drubbing. But a handful of plays made a statistically one-sided game close, including a fumble on a kickoff return, a pick 6, and a 69-yard touchdown pass. Despite some bad officiating, the Giants seriously threatened to send the game into overtime. In terms of the big picture, one could argue this was a good outcome. It was a competitive game, but the Giants improved their draft position.

Yet the gnawing feeling remains that there is a serious talent gap between these two teams. The Giants kept it close because of three plays, but the Eagles still proved to be the better team when taking into account every single snap. We’ll get a better read in two weeks when both these teams face each other again, with Tyrod Taylor likely playing the full game as starter.

In between, the Giants face the red-hot Los Angeles Rams. The Rams’ overall record of 8-7 is misleading. The team has won five of their last six games, with the only defeat being in overtime to the Ravens in Baltimore. One can argue that the Rams have gotten fat playing against bad teams, but they have averaged over 32 points per game in their last five games. The Giants are averaging 14 points per game.

So unless something bizarre occurs, the Giants will fall to 5-11 against a surging team fighting for a playoff spot with a quarterback playing at an elite level. The Giants’ 2023 season was over by Halloween. It’s just taking forever to officially wrap this up before one of the most important offseasons in franchise history.


  • RB Saquon Barkley (elbow – probable)
  • WR Wan’Dale Robinson (quad – questionable)
  • TE Darren Waller (knee – probable)
  • TE Lawrence Cager (groin – doubtful)
  • OC John Michael Schmitz (shoulder – probable)
  • OG Ben Bredeson (quad – probable)
  • OG Justin Pugh (elbow – probable)
  • DL Dexter Lawrence (hamstring – probable)
  • DL A’Shawn Robinson (back – probable)
  • DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches (knee – probable)
  • CB Deonte Banks (shoulder – questionable)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (ankle – probable)
  • P Jamie Gillan (groin/knee – probable)

Overall, the defense of the Rams is not overly impressive. They are middle-of-the pack in yards allowed and scoring defense. However, they still have defensive tackle Aaron Donald and they like to stunt and blitz up front, the exact type of scheme that has given New York’s blockers fits. The ability of the Giants to move the ball and put points on the board will largely depend on the offensive line. That’s not encouraging.

Let’s turn to the big picture and the upcoming offseason. That’s the more interesting subject matter.

Two things appear to separate the consistently good offenses and the bad ones: quarterback and offensive line.

If you don’t have a quarterback, you’re not likely to seriously challenge for a division title, let alone a Super Bowl trophy. The Giants have invested five years and two big contracts into Daniel Jones with little to show for it. On top of that, he can’t stay healthy. Undrafted rookie Tommy DeVito’s 15-minutes may be up. He’s under contract for another year and certainly will get a chance to compete in the summer, but whether he has an NFL future in any capacity remains in question. The problem for him is he doesn’t have the longer leash provided to a draft pick. It may not be fair, but it’s the way the world works.

This brings us to Tyrod Taylor. In 2022, many felt his 2-year, $11 million contract was an indication that Taylor would be the bridge quarterback between Jones, who was on thin ice at the time, and the anticipated 1st-round quarterback taken by the team in April 2023. However, under the new coaching staff, Jones played better than expected and was rewarded with a 4-year, $160 million deal. That decision has blown up in the team’s face. The Giants now find themselves in the awkward position of perhaps having to sit a player with a $47 million cap value out of fear he may hurt himself again and lock the team into future cap trouble. Long story short, much depends on how Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll privately feel about Jones.

If Jones is on the outs, theoretically Taylor could once again become that bridge quarterback. But there are two problems. (1) Taylor’s contract is expiring and he may not even be open to returning to a team that already benched him for an undrafted rookie, and (2) Taylor simply has not been able to stay healthy in the NFL himself. It’s not impossible that the Giants and Taylor could agree to a new deal, but I would not bet on it. That all said, these last two games could change hearts and minds. Familiarity is also working in favor of a possible reunion. So these games may be more important to Taylor than anyone else on the team. He not only needs to play well, but he can’t afford to get dinged up again.

We’ve all had it with the state of the offensive line. Enough is enough. Fix the fucking line. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to see that teams that can protect their quarterback and run the football are automatically good offenses. The reverse is also obvious. The Giants have had first hand experience with this brutal reality for 12 years. A good offensive line can make an average quarterback look good. Bad ones ruined the entire second half of Eli Manning’s career.

Evan Neal’s 2023 season was a disaster. Neal suffered a concussion in training camp that caused him to miss two valuable weeks of practice. A right ankle injury nagged him for all of October, causing him to also miss two games. When he returned in early November, he broke his left ankle, an injury which requires surgery. Neal only started seven games, missing 10, and again struggled with his balance and footwork in pass protection when he did play. Schoen says they still view him as a tackle and believe he can play. If so, they had better hire new offensive line coaches and have a legitimate fallback option.

Neal has become the bogeyman for fans, but the guard situation is just as dire. Justin Pugh is clearly not answer and should not be retained. Ben Bredeson is not an NFL starter, and is best suited for a back-up role. The lack of development of 2022 3rd-round pick Josh Ezeudu, who was forced to start five games at left tackle before missing the remaining 12 games with an injury, has been an issue as well. The regime also gambled an lost on Shane Lemieux (again) and Marcus McKethan did not develop. The situation with Mark Glowinski is just weird and he is likely done here. On top of all of this, the blocking schemes don’t appear to play to John Michael Schmitz’s strengths.

Moving forward, the Giants will have Andrew Thomas and hopefully Schmitz becomes what they hoped for when they drafted him. They can’t count on Neal, Bredeson, Ezeudu, and McKethan to be starters. They must part ways with Glowinski, Pugh, Lemieux, and Matt Peart. They cut Tyre Phillips once so it will be interesting to see if they even attempt to re-sign him. In other words, the Giants haven’t improved their OL situation at all in two seasons. Once again, they have to go back to the drawing board. It’s beyond ridiculous. Fix it.

Full disclosure, I was a hugely supportive of the Giants hiring Wink Martindale. I was a big fan of what his defenses did in Baltimore and I like his aggressive approach in an era of bend-but-don’t break schemes. I also was impressed with the smoke-and-mirrors job he did in 2022 with an undermanned and injury-riddled unit. Opponents continue to say how difficult his system is to prepare for. That all said, I am left underwhelmed this year. The Giants’ defense allowed 144 rushing yards per game in 2022. They are giving up 134 yards per game this year, which is 29th in the NFL. Perhaps I’m too locked into the past, but I was brought up in an era where if you can’t stop the run, you can’t play quality defense, and therefore you can’t win. What’s Wink’s excuse? They traded away Leonard Williams? That doesn’t explain the problems before he was traded and it’s not sufficient enough an excuse for just how bad the run defense has been.

You want to beat the Cowboys and Eagles? You have to stop the run. Period.

I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the reports, but according to my sources, Wink is indeed on the way out. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Wink did have a down year in 2023, but so did this entire coaching staff. We’ll have to pray this all works out.

What type of defense needs this team will have largely depends on who defensive coordinator will be. Will the Giants stick with a 3-4 hybrid? Will they be more of a pure 3-4? Will they consider shifting back to a 4-3? Does doing the latter even make sense with Kayvon Thibodeaux being more of a pure 3-4 outside linebacker? Whatever scheme they employ, one thing is clear, the Giants need more pass rushers. It’s the glaring talent weakness on this defense.

As for the Rams, this one could get ugly. Fans keep asking where has Thibodeaux been, but as I’ve warned for weeks now, he’s a marked man. The team has gotten one decent game from Azeez Ojulari and that’s it. Now Dexter Lawrence has been limited to half the defensive snaps due to a hamstring situation. Meanwhile, as mentioned above, the Rams are averaging 32 points per game in their past five contests. Los Angeles has the 7th-best offense in the NFL, higher than the Eagles and Chiefs. They can throw the ball and they can run it. Matthew Stafford is playing as well as anyone at quarterback and he has two studs to throw to, including Cooper Kupp and surprising rookie Puka Nacua. Deonte Banks being questionable with a shoulder injury does not help.

I’ve never seen a season where the Giants have had three kickers and a punter get hurt, but here we are. Jamie Gillan is playing hurt and that would be more of a concern if the team was still alive for a playoff spot. Meanwhile, two poor punts + big returns led directly to 14 points last week. That proved decisive in a one-score game. Thomas McGaughey should be on thin ice.

Wink Martindale on the Rams’ offense: “I think that Stafford is playing at a Hall of Fame-type level and they have gelled offensively. He’s making throws that you just sit there and go, ‘wow.’ From all different kind of arm angles, no looks, all those things you’ve heard about, you’re seeing him do it and they’re playing at a very high level. I think that the thing that (Head Coach) Sean (McVay) has done is that they’ve made a commitment to the run game and changing their offensive line this year. Now, it’s a two-headed monster that you have to deal with. So, they put you in a bind of what you want to try to do and how you’re going try to do it, but Stafford is playing unreal. I mean, he’s a great football player, but I think that he and (Ravens quarterback) Lamar (Jackson) should be up for the MVP candidate. That’s the kind of year he’s having, and they’ve scored over 30 points a game.”

In a decade plus of forgettable games and forgettable players, we find ourselves in the final stages of another season that was over by Halloween and which took forever to end. That’s a terrible place to be, but it is what it is. At this point, stealing a win would hurt the team more than it helps. If that makes me a bad fan, so be it. I hope they keep it close, but I don’t want to fall down the draft board. No one will ever remember if they upset the Rams.

Dec 272023
Darius Slayton, New York Giants (December 25, 2023)

Darius Slayton – © USA TODAY Sports


-Tommy DeVito: 9/16 – 55 yards / 0 TD – 0 INT / 63.3. RAT

Is the ride already over? DeVito was pulled at halftime after the team was in serious need of a new spark. There is an intimidation factor the Eagles defense plays with and for a young, inexperienced quarterback like DeVito, it works in a big way. His footwork and timing were off, he did not look like he knew where to go with the ball, and the offense looked broken. There was less swagger than what we were used to seeing and it looked like the reality of this particular quarterback situation came crashing back down to earth. Should we see him again? More on that below.

-Tyrod Taylor: 7/16 – 133 yards / 1 TD – 1 INT / 68.0 RAT

Trusty Tyrod has been a forgotten man since the undrafted local hero took over under center. How quickly this offense changed the second he was back on the field was a stark reminder what Taylor has been his entire career. A more-than capable backup who can rightfully make one wonder “what if” had he gotten an opportunity like Geno Smith did in Seattle. He made multiple tight throws including a beautifully arched deep ball to Darius Slayton for a 69-yard touchdown. The most notable differences with Taylor in the game were yards per play (6.8 vs. 3.0) and third down conversion rate (50% vs 12.5%). Those numbers are obvious, but it was the fluidity and smoothness against a defense that was constantly dropping 7+ defenders into coverage. The debate will be rampant this week, who should start in weeks 17-18?


-Saquon Barkley: 23 att – 80 yards – 1 TD / 3 rec – 4 yards

Full load for Barkley, as he played 89% of the team’s offensive snaps. A different running back (Matt Breida) was on the field for just 5 plays. We saw some gutsy power-running by the sixth-year pro who is just 19 touches shy of 1,500. Yes, 1,500 touches and we are still seeing some of the vision problems that have plagued him since 2019. Call it a lack of natural feel or a back who has been tarnished by such poor offensive line play (likely a combination of both), but Barkley left some yards on the field in this one. Watching him and a player like Christian McCaffrey in the following game strengthened the notion that it is the star back’s biggest and most defining weaknesses in his game. On the positive side, the successful 2-point conversion was solely on him and his leg drive that pushed the pile into the end zone. It was very…Jalen Hurts-like. As he enters the back nine of his career, I feel this needs to be a bigger part of his game. Use that massive lower body to push crowds, fall forward, and create success in short yardage situations.


-Darius Slayton and Wan’Dale Robinson were the only two from the group who caught passes. Slayton brought in all three targets for 90 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown where we saw that vertical speed and big-play threat that has shown up occasionally over his career. I see plays like that one and he reminds me of Marquez Valdes-Scantling (KC, formerly GB). The kind of receiver everyone wants because of flash plays and upside, but never quite gets to the level that the fantasies created. The glimpses that sporadically show up, like this one, continue to kick the can down the road rather than shutting the door and moving on. Slayton has the talent, we know. Can it be a week-in, week-out reliable source of offensive production? NYG will run it back again in 2024 but it better not prevent them from making a serious move at receiver.

-Robinson added just 16 yards on 3 catches, continuing his role of underneath, running back-receiver mixture when it comes to play calls and impact. He was thrown to 7 times including multiple times in big moments. The diminutive radius shows up in these high-traffic situations where the passer must be near-perfect with ball placement in order for Robinson to have a realistic shot at bringing it in. The few times they did throw downfield in his direction presented very little hope.

-Isaiah Hodgins and Jalin Hyatt were on the field for a combined 62 snaps but did not receive a single target.


-Darren Waller and Daniel Bellinger both played 40 snaps. Waller had 32 yards on 2 catches with a drop and Bellinger led the team with 4 catches, totaling 43 yards. Taylor underthrew Waller on a play that could have easily resulted in a touchdown, and it was solely on the shoulders of the quarterback (one of two big misses by him). That said, I have seen enough instances to label this a shortcoming on Waller when looking at the future. There are certain movement patterns where he truly shows his age. That ability to re-direct, especially coming back to the ball, is slow and tight. It has shown up multiple times where that fast-twitch athletic ability that is needed for unplanned movement will limit his ability in the future passing game. It is the biggest difference between the All-Pro version of him and what NYG has/will have. What to do with him in regard to the future is a rather easy decision in my opinion, but it won’t be the popular one.

-Bellinger continues to struggle across the board as a blocker. His lack of fast twitch was an issue against the PHI speedy linebackers and he is the one being stood up and displaced when matched up against power. The construction of this tight end group needs to change, it does not make sense for the kind of offense they’re running.


-Guard Ben Bredeson is in a freefall over the final third of the season. He allowed 5 pressures, one of which resulted in a QB hit. While he did throw key blocks on a couple of NYG’s big plays (including the Barkley touchdown run), this was a matchup nightmare with what PHI marches out there along the interior. His pressures early on clearly played a part in DeVito’s mental block in the pocket in the first half. Justin Pugh also allowed 3 pressures, one of which resulting in a hit. I’ve already noted that it appears he’s run out of steam and the advanced scouting reports in the league have caught up. I will give him credit for getting downfield to look for work. He does hustle and he has situational awareness.

-Andrew Thomas allowed a QB hit, and Tyre Phillips played clean in pass protection (with some help). The majority of the issues the line had with this matchup came from the inside, but after watching the tape again, it appeared the outside defenders gave the two tackles headaches in the running game. Quick and subtle change of direction, built low to the ground, and physical. Those are the forms of defenders who Thomas can be defeated by, and he has not yet figured out the way to combat them. Trent Williams used to be in the same boat, but he’s made big strides there. Hopefully, Thomas can do the same.

-Rookie center John Michael Schmitz was coming off arguably his worst game and I zeroed in on his performance against what most consider to be a top-five defensive line. I did not count the garbage penalty against him called toward the end of the game. Even with that, he finished with the second lowest grade on the line. He allowed a TFL and 2 pressures with too many losses as a run blocker. I do like how he competes, and I’ve been told by someone I fully trust in regard to NYG personnel that he has been a key part to the communication improvements the line has seen since the front half of the season. That is encouraging because of the position but I still reserve some worry long-term about his ability to play against speed.


-For my money, the PHI offensive tackles are the best pair in the NFL at the position. I did not expect much from Kayvon Thibodeaux or Azeez Ojulari, but I will say I still came away slightly disappointed with the lack of one-on-one wins. Thibodeaux did add a QB hit and 2 hurries to his season total and Ojulari had two hurries as well. The blitz-heavy packages aided them on those plays. Both were very ineffective against the run as well, losing control of their gaps and getting too far displaced.

-Jihad Ward split the lone sack of the day and added 2 tackles, while Tomon Fox got on the field for the first time this season. Fox rushed the passer 13 times while Thibodeaux was being moved around a bit, but did not walk away with any wins. He did set the edge against the run a couple times, something he’s always been good at.


-Dexter Lawrence played just 38 snaps, about half of the defensive snaps. For such a quiet workload compared to what are used to seeing, he had a loud game. He had 4 tackles, 2 of which went for a loss, along with a pressure. A’Shawn Robinson added 3 tackles and a pass break-up but was shutout as a pass rusher.

-Good to see Jordon Riley on the field for a season-high 35 snaps. His previous high was about half of that. He had a tackle near the line of scrimmage where he looked like a the rookie version of Lawrence. I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves with this evaluation, but the way he abused All-Pro Center Jason Kelce on the play is something we see happen to Kelce maybe a handful of times in an entire season. Heavy hands, fast bench press, excellent pad level, dense presence, and a strong finish. These flashes are very encouraging for the future of the defensive line.

-D.J. Davidson added two tackles in relief and newcomer Timmy Horne (from ATL) got his feet wet with 7 snaps. I wouldn’t mind seeing some more of him, the initial look was promising.


-Bobby Okereke led the team with 10 tackles and added both a pressure and a pass break-up. I did not count the awful delay-of-game penalty called against him at the end of the first half. That alone put three points on the board for PHI and it changed the flow of the game for the rest of the contest. Besides that, I thought he played yet another solid game and continues to be incredibly durable and reliable.

-Micah McFadden had 5 tackles and 3 misses. The last couple of weeks have not been good for him when looking at the season as a whole. I feel good about his future next to Okereke if, and only if, he can clean up the misses. Of the 52 linebackers who have played over 600 snaps this season, he leads the NFL in missed-tackle percentage. I have applauded his progress (across multiple facets) but the whiffs are hurting the defense in key moments. There are positives weekly, don’t get me wrong. He beat Kelce underneath and he accrued 2 pressures. There is growth in his game, we just need to see it be more mistake-free.

-Isaiah Simmons was active in coverage, breaking up a pass playing fast in man schemes. He made a major mental gaffe on the 3rd-and-20 conversion where he was in zone and completely lost the needed awareness of what was going on around him on a broken, long-winded play. That lack of football sense shows up the more he plays and it further explains what he has turned into after being a top ten pick.


-Deonte Banks was shadowing A.J. Brown for the first half and the All-Pro receiver caught just 1 of 3 targets for 7 yards. Banks injured a shoulder and played just over half the team’s defensive snaps. Once he was out, Brown 5 catches for 73 yards. The obvious gap between Banks and the next best corner on this team was known coming into this game, but really highlighted the second he left this matchup.

-Adoree’ Jackson came up with the defensive play of the game (and the best we’ve seen all year) with a pick six. It was the first of his career and the first interception since 2021. He made a great play on the ball with help from PHI tight end Dallas Goedert tripping over his own feet out of his break.

-We saw some extra Cor’Dale Flott and Nick McCloud following the injury to Banks and both were roasted. The gap between them and the PHI receivers is huge. Crossing routes, double routes, and simple execution within these one-on-one matchups (notably in man coverage) is a big enough gap to keep this defense from being able to compete against an offense like PHI (which even has taken a step back in 2023 compared to 2022). Flott has abruptly hit a wall this final third of the season.


-Xavier McKinney played every snap (again) and ended with 9 tackles, zero misses and a half-sack. Jason Pinnock played all but one snap and ended with 6 tackles, 3 misses. He ranks 10th among NFL safeties in missed tackles but the number is a tad overrated because of how many snaps he’s played this season. The future of these two is one of the most interesting low-key debates over the next few months. Economics are a part of this, but when looking at what they do (and what they can do in a better situation), there is a level of uniqueness and dependability most teams do not have league-wide and it changes how the defense plays.

-Dane Belton saw the field for 27 snaps, the second most of the season. When Banks went down, we saw some more of him in nickel/dime packages. He added 2 tackles and missed one. His deep coverage traits looked good on a couple of occasions where PHI went vertical with their route combos.


-K Mason Crosby: 1/1 (Made 52)
-P Jamie Gillan: 4 punts / 39.5 avg – 23.0 net


-WR Darius Slayton, S Xavier McKinney, CB Deonte Banks


-CB Cor’Dale Flott, OG Ben Bredeson, OG Justin Pugh


(1) This is not the Philadelphia of 2022. They are still head and shoulders above NYG and that is not a part of this discussion. Over the summer, I picked them to go 14-3. I overlooked (even after acknowledging) just how easy their schedule of opposing defenses was in 2022, in addition to losing an offensive coordinator who was a HUGE part of the Jalen Hurts ascent. Things are not as fluid as they were, but guess what? They’re top ten in yards per play, top ten in point, first in first downs, first in fourth-down conversion rate, second in third-down conversion rate. Not bad for an off year. I still would not want tp face them in the postseason, period.

(2) What is the kryptonite of this team? Simply put, their defense. More specifically, their corners. Not an area you want to be weak at when San Francisco and Dallas are standing in your way (at their home stadiums). NYG fans know first hand what a pass rush can do to hide slight deficiencies in the secondary. But you still need to be at a minimum on the outside and they’re not.

(3) Is it the city of Philadelphia or does it seem like an implosion is coming? Head Coach Nick Siriani does not annoy me the way he does some people, but he does seem like the kind of guy a town will turn on in a hurry and he seems like the kind of guy who flips the bird walking off the field to a flock of boo-birds. Time will tell but I don’t like what I see when adversity hits that team.


(1) This is not the first time we have talked about the DeVito vs. Taylor debate. With two games remaining, this QB controversy is as interesting as it gets for a team that has twice as many losses as they do wins. Yet, here we are. Taylor is the better and more established player, there is no denying it. DeVito makes more economic sense when looking at the future spending of this team and the resources already being pumped into the position. I’ll call out a BS on those who are just now saying this “DeVito thing was never real” after a poor half against the Eagles in Philadelphia with their backs pressed up against the wall. I’m surprised some are even trying that line right now. It is bizarre and embarrassing. I understand Taylor probably gives this team the best option to win games right now in a business of winning games, but this is about 2024 and beyond now. At least get DeVito the starts, at least give him a half of football in both games. Life will be easier paying a minimum backup salary if he can get himself to a trusted, consistent level and there is only one way to find out if he can do it. He needs to play.

(2) Now that they are mathematically eliminated from contention, we need to keep severe limits on the snaps of their key pieces who are banged up. Lawrence and Thomas are the foundations of where I want this team to build this offseason. The offensive and defensive lines need to be upgraded but if these two get dinged up over these next two weeks, the can is simply being kicked even further down the road. Not having Thomas out there is a riskier strategy because their backup OL has been so poor and it breaks the offense when he isn’t out there. But keeping Lawrence on the sideline for over half the snaps is a move worth considering.

(3) Had this been a situation where NYG was vying for a playoff spot, everyone revolving around NYG would have every right to be furious about the refs and their ineptitude. I am very slow to turn on refs and put a loss on their shoulders (and I am not putting this loss on them), but there is a difference between messing up a holding penalty or a pass interference and seeing what we saw with the Schmitz false start and/or the Okereke delay of game. Human error is part of the game and in an oddly changing world that is becoming more and more reliant on robots and AI, I believe there is value in humans making mistakes. I do not have the popular opinion on this and I am aware of that, but the last thing I want are more game stoppages and review processes. Maybe an extra set of eyes on the field or different training protocols. I agree a change is needed.

Dec 232023

Do the New York Giants want to remain the Washington Generals? Or do they want to become gladiators?

For the past 10 years or so, the once-proud Giants have been the punching bags of the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. Their respective fan bases have correctly pencilled in two automatic wins, their annual highlight videos peppered with big offensive and defensive plays against Big Blue. And with respect to Philadelphia, the Giants have proven to be the “get right” opponent when their season has occasionally been on the brink. The 10-4 Eagles may have lost three games in a row, but they remain tied for first place in the NFC East and are counting on two wins against the Giants to get them over the finish line.

The Washington Generals are supposed to lose every time they play the Harlem Globetrotters. It’s not even supposed to be close, with everyone laughing at the Generals along the way. In the 2000 films Gladiator, a ragtag group of slaves was supposed to serve the same purpose in the Coliseum for the Roman Emperor Commodus in a re-enactment of the Battle of Carthage. The slaves were supposed to die, to be the punching bags against opponents that were to slaughter them. In the film, the opposite occurred.

No one expects the Giants, playing with a third-string undrafted rookie quarterback, to beat the Eagles in Philadelphia on Christmas Day. But we want to see some fight. We’re tired of being humiliated by two teams in our own division. Giants’ lore is filled with bad teams playing their hearts out against top teams. But in the 100-year history of the team, those kind of games have been noticeably absent in the past decade. We don’t expect you to be victorious, but we expect you to give us a game, not something we turn off at halftime.

Entertain us. Be gladiators. For once.


  • RB Matt Breida (hamstring – probable)
  • RB Gary Brightwell (hamstring – questionable)
  • TE Darren Waller (hamstring – probable)
  • TE Lawrence Cager (groin – questionable)
  • OG Justin Pugh (calf/neck – probable)
  • RT Evan Neal (ankle – out)
  • OT Matt Peart (shoulder – probable)
  • DL Dexter Lawrence (hamstring – questionable)
  • DL A’Shawn Robinson (back – questionable)
  • DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches (knee – out)
  • ILB Carter Coughlin (neck – probable)
  • S Xavier McKinney (illness – probable)
  • P Jamie Gillan (groin – probable)

Pundits, media, and fans fall for the same trap every year. How a team plays at the beginning and middle of a season does not guarantee the same in the all-important months of December and January. Hot teams cool down. Mediocre teams start to heat up. We see it every year. At the end of November, the Eagles were 10-1 and widely considered an automatic participant in the conference championship game. Three losses in a row has shaken their confidence and the confidence others had in them only a few weeks ago. At the heart of their struggles has been a defense that has allowed 341 points this year, three more than the New York Giants. After allowing 109 points in three straight games (one win and two losses), the Eagles replaced defensive coordinator Sean Desai with Matt Patricia. The Eagles gave up fewer points (20) in their last game, but still lost.

So the Giants should have an easier time of it against Philadelphia? Not so fast. The 109 points were against three of the better offenses in the NFL – Bills, 49ers, and Cowboys. Meanwhile, after a 24-point “explosion” against the Packers, the Giants are back to having problems scoring 7 points per game. Indeed, through 14 games, the Giants only have 189 points (which includes two defensive touchdowns and field goals set up by the defense). The Giants are battling the Patriots for worst-scoring team in the NFL.

It’s no coincidence that the Giants’ offensive productivity seems intimately tied to the performance of the offensive line. When the OL plays better, everyone on offense looks better. When the OL falls apart, the offense looks putrid. The latter happened against the Saints and the team only managed six points. Say what you want about Philadelphia, but their defensive line has abused the Giants for a decade. And it’s reason #1 why Philadelphia is 25-7 against New York since 2008. Every preview I’ve written about these two teams for 10 years has said the same thing.

The Giants don’t have a quarterback. However, until this franchise successfully addresses the offensive line, nothing much is going to change. Spending high draft picks and big free agent money means nothing if you don’t bring in actual good players who you can coach up properly.

In last week’s preview, I wrote “The problem with turnovers is that you can’t count on them. They come and go, being at the whim of the football gods. My point here is we will have to see how the defense performs when the turnovers cease.” Well, we found out and the results were not pretty. After holding New Orleans to seven points in the first half, the defense was a significant factor in the game getting out of hand by allowing three straight scoring drives to start the second half. What made this worse was this was against an opponent who was missing their top wide receiver and starting right tackle. The inconsistent Derek Carr finished with a 134.8 quarterback rating, throwing only five incompletions.

My point here is that the quality defensive performances are being offset against bad ones. Regardless of what Wink Martindale says publicly, the defense doesn’t seem to be trending upwards. It’s still up and down, up and down. Like much of the entire coaching staff, Martindale has lost a lot of his luster this season. And he is 0-4 against the Cowboys and 0-3 against the Eagles since last year, with two more anticipated losses to Philadelphia on the horizon. 0-9 against your two top rivals?!

As much as Philadelphia’s defense has been under fire, their offense has slowed noticeably in December as well. Through 11 games, the Eagles were averaging 28 points per game. That’s winning football. During the 3-game losing streak, they have averaged 16 points per game. That’s losing football. (Giants average 13 points per game).

So the challenge here for Wink and his defensive players is can they play on par with the 49ers, Cowboys, and Seahawks, and keep the Eagles under 20 points? Or will the defense come up small against a better opponent once again? Yeah, I get it, New York’s offense is not helping. But sometimes you have to rise the occasion and make up for the other side of the ball. Jalen Hurts has not been playing at an MVP level in recent weeks. Stop the run and you have a chance.

The fly in the ointment is the injury situation on the defensive line. The top three linemen, Dexter Lawrence, A’Shawn Robinson, and Rakeem Nunez-Roches are all ailing. This is not a good opponent to be missing guys up front against.

Three place kickers on IR? LOL.

“Moral victories are for losers.” Probably. But in my mind, there is a big difference between the Giants losing this game 40-6 and 20-13. I can more easily accept the latter. But another one-sided drubbing by a divisional opponent is a really tough pill to swallow. The coaching staff is not inspiring right now. They look and sound defeated. I hope their public face is not the same behind closed doors.

In a nutshell, I’m not sure where this team is headed. The way the team lost to the Saints didn’t sit well with me. I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and that’s troubling.

Dec 192023
Tommy DeVito, New York Giants (December 17, 2023)

Tommy DeVito – © USA TODAY Sports


Tommy DeVito: 20/34 – 177 yards / 0 TD – 0 INT / 72.8 RAT

DeVito added 36 yards on 4 carries, making it the fourth straight game he gained over 195 total yards. That is a first for Giants quarterbacks this season and a first since December 4th of 2022. He was under constant pressure from start to finish, taking 7 sacks on the day with multiple big shots. He also took a hit on a rushing attempt that put him into an in-game concussion check. As for his performance, we saw more negatives than positives. His deep vertical passing was short, he was flagged for intentional grounding, and he made some poor pocket-movement decisions against pressure. The high he and his agent have been on over the past few weeks was due to come crashing down, and that it did. DeVito did flash with both his arm and legs at times. He showed toughness, he made a few nice throws over the middle to crowded spots, and he went another full game without turning it over. The quarterback debate still does not exist in my eyes. Keep the DeVito show going through the balance of the season with Tyrod Taylor, who did see a few snaps at the end of the first half, in the backup role.


Saquon Barkley: 9 att – 14 yards / 2 rec – 23 yards

Barkley’s 14 yards were the lowest since Week 5 of 2021. He never got going against a run defense that came into the game ranked sixth worst in the NFL on a per-rush basis. The offensive line was beat off the ball the entire afternoon. His 17-yard catch on the first drive was the team’s fifth longest play of the day but by far the most impressive. It was a one-handed catch with a defender draped all over him near the boundary. It was the biggest play of the drive that led to their first points and only lead of the day.

-Matt Breida gained 21 yards on 5 touches and dropped a pass. Eric Gray got back on the field and gained 6 yards on 3 catches. It will be interesting to watch how this team distributes the carries between Breida and Gray if they want to start shelving Barkley a bit. I would like to see more of the latter.


-Darius Slayton led the team with 63 yards on 4 catches but 3 of those catches and 58 of those yards came on the final drive of the game with under five minutes left and the Saints playing prevent defense. He was a non-factor most of the afternoon.

-Wan’Dale Robinson also had 4 catches, gaining just 25 yards. He has caught 4 or more passes in 8 of 11 games this season. I’ve discussed his role and the importance to the offense in the future, as there is a level of sudden quickness and pop he brings to the table that nobody else has. Over the last four games, he has 17 catches, 9 of which have gone for a first down. He also has 3 carries, one of which went for a first down. Looking at this offensive personnel and overall situation and I am coming away with the notion that Robinson is the best “third down threat” this team has. I do not care about touchdowns or explosive plays from him as much as I do about moving the chains through his skill set. That is where they need to build and even further strengthen his role.

-Jalin Hyatt was thrown to three times, and he finished without a catch. He dropped one and had a hard time playing through contact twice. That will be the number one factor he needs to try and fix in the offseason. Some physical strength gains will help but he needs to become better at getting off press coverage. He is not slippery enough. If not, he will be an all or nothing contributor-type week to week.


-Darren Waller was back in uniform after missing a few games with a nagging hamstring injury. He added 40 yards on 4 catches, 29 of which came on one play where he made a tough grab and broke a tackle into the open field. He got mauled as a blocker against the physical NO front, but he has a different level of movement and ball skills from the slot. I do not think his 2024 roster spot is locked in because of the economics, but when he is on, Waller is the top threat in this passing game on a team starving for more threats.

-Daniel Bellinger still saw most of the snaps at tight end. He finished with 2 catches for 13 yards and allowed a pressure in pass protection. The glaring negative I have on him as a receiver is how lethargic he is post-catch. He never has been overly nimble or lethargic but the evaluator in me needs to see more urgency and fluidity upfield post-catch. His lack of ability to do so prevented an extra yard from being gained on a 3rd-and-9 pass, forcing NYG to punt. It was a notable shortcoming on his end that a quality starting tight end needs to overcome, even if he is not the best athlete. Those hidden yards I have discussed in the past add up. And some tight ends do this at such a high level. If you don’t, you better be a big-time blocker and he is not.


-The tackles both had above average games considering what their expectations are. Andrew Thomas allowed just one pressure, one that had more to do with DeVito than Thomas. Tyre Phillips was solid for most of the game but started to fall apart in the second half, mainly in the fourth quarter. He allowed two separate half-sacks and a pressure, in addition to finishing with a below average grade as a run blocker.

-Inside, Ben Bredeson allowed 2 pressures and a TFL. Another week of him getting almost no push in the in the running game, too. Unfortunately, he was the best interior blocker this team had against NO.

-Justin Pugh was overmatched from start to finish and he is up there with one of the worst performances we have seen from an NYG offensive lineman this season, and that is saying something. He allowed 2 sacks, 2 half-sacks, 2 pressures, and he was flagged for a false start. While he did help steady the ship and there truly are no better options on this roster (maybe Glowinski?), he looks like his tank is on “E”. No anchor, no displacing defenders with his hands, and no adjustment speed on stunts. Speaking of massive struggle with stunts, we saw the ugly side of rookie center John Michael Schmitz. The game got off to a rough start with two bad run game stuffs on the first two drives, one of which is the recurring problem with him getting pushed back on the outside zone runs. He allowed a sack and two half-sacks as NO Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods played games with the NYG interior all afternoon. Stunts, twists, delayed blitzes…etc. He threw the entire toolbox at Schmitz and it worked. Hopefully this is a learning experience for the rookie that he can build from because the athletic shortcomings won’t see a ton of improvement.


-Earlier in the week I commented in a thread in The Corner Forum about what NYG should be looking at with their likely top-10 draft slot. Quarterback is an option and most important – but another pass rusher is desperately needed. Kayvon Thibodeaux, who is very quickly becoming a known weapon around the league, was invisible. It is hard to blame him with the number of double teams and chip blocks he dealt with. Azeez Ojulari had one pressure on the day, and it was on a play he went unblocked. Both were ok, but not great, against the run.

-Jihad Ward and Benton Whitley were nearly non-existent. Ward did his usual gap controlling with an inability to shed his man and Whitley overshot his angle a couple times. Overall, the four NYG edge rushers had 62 shots at getting to the passer and Ojulari’s one (untouched) is the only pressure that made Carr think twice.


-Dexter Lawrence was held without a pressure for just the second time since the start of 2022. While the looks weren’t as plentiful (17 pass rushes vs. his average of 25 per game), he was double teamed on nearly every snap. Derek Carr got it out in a hurry as well.

-A’Shawn Robinson benefitted from the attention on the two main NYG front defenders. He finished with 8 tackles for the second straight week as he continues his outstanding play. Robinson has put together a lot of solid tape to warrant a contract from someone in 2024. He too did not register a single pressure.

-The Jordon Riley vs. DJ Davidson “battle” (if you will) is interesting to watch. They fill the same role and give similar results, but the route in which they get there is very different. Riley looked better in this matchup, finishing with 2 tackles away from the starting point. He shows better movement traits and just-as heavy contact as Davidson. Rakeem Nunez-Roches finished with 3 tackles and two misses.


-Bobby Okereke and Micah McFadden did not make any standout plays, something that happened during the three-game winning streak. Whether it was a tackle for a loss, turnover, or QB pressure (Okereke had one which he went untouched), neither made any of those happen in big moments. McFadden added to his too-high missed tackles number with another two in this game and was fooled badly on a play-action pass that resulted in a touchdown.

-Isaiah Simmons had one pressure on 6 pass rush attempts as they are trying to get him to the passer from a couple of different angles. He added 2 tackles.


-Very poor game by Adoree’ Jackson, who allowed all 4 targets to be completed for 74 yards (a perfect 158.3 rating for Carr when throwing his way) and was penalized for a holding penalty on a third down stop.

-In my eyes, Deonte Banks is firmly the best corner on this team. He did allow one big play and he added a missed tackle, but his coverage is looking cleaner by the week.

-The same cannot be said for Cor’Dale Flott. He allowed a touchdown on a missed assignment in zone coverage, an area of weakness he has shown in the limited time we have seen him. He has hit a little snag in his progression as the team’s future nickel, which is a spot I think will need to be addressed at some point this offseason, preferably in the draft.


-Jason Pinnock had a game of peaks and valleys. He was disruptive in multiple forms, registering the lone sack of the day, making multiple run stuffs with speed and power, and had an incredibly athletic pass break-up. He was also flagged for a pass interference in the end zone on a bad decision that lacked situational awareness. NO scored six on the next play. He also missed a tackle and overshot his pursuit angle twice. I like Pinnock a lot and when it comes to economics, he is one of the most efficient contracts on the roster, but it comes with some extra ups and downs to his game.

-Xavier McKinney did not make much happen from a big-play perspective but he did finish with 4 tackles and good coverage. Dane Belton and Nick McCould saw a few snaps in relief / spot duty.


-K Randy Bullock: 1/1 (made 56) and was injured on the ensuing kickoff
-P Jamie Gillan: 5 punts / 47.6 avg – 40.6 net) and made a 40 yard field goal


-DT A’Shawn Robinson, TE Darren Waller, OT Andrew Thomas


-OG Justin Pugh, OC John Michael Schmitz, CB Adoree’ Jackson


(1) NYG needs to avoid a mistake that the NO front office made this past offseason. They did not do a deep-enough dive on the running back they wanted to sign to pair with Alvin Kamara. Jamaal Williams led the NFL (by a wide margin) in rushing touchdowns with 17 in 2022. He had 13 over his 5-year career prior to that. The team already had the highest or second-highest contract on the books at the position in the league. They were playing a risky game at wide receiver and along the offensive live, respectively. And Derek Carr limited the ceiling of this offense to begin with. While Williams did not break the bank and Kamara began the season suspended, it looks like a wasted resource as he is producing less than he ever has. All because he was in the most favorable RB situation in the NFL last season with a dynamite OL.

(2) Trevor Penning was the team’s second first-round pick in 2022 (#19 overall) and this is going to be a very interesting case study. He has 6 starts on his resume and every one of his snaps have been at left tackle. The original plan was for him to take over for Terron Armstead after he left for Miami. A couple of injuries and some slow development has kept him out of the starting lineup despite multiple injuries to both tackle spots. Andrus Peat, their starting left guard who formerly failed at tackle, was moved back outside. Landon Young, a 2021 sixth rounder who has never put together a good stretch of football was inserted on the right side. Penning will see some blocking tight end duties along with special teams. The team, however, is insisting he is the left tackle of the future. He is a top 1% athlete (size, power, athletic ability) for the position, and he has the mentality. But waiting until year 3 on a five-year rookie deal to use him at an extremely important position while also taking their left guard out of the picture? Does not seem right. Time will tell next summer.

(3) The NFC South is a dumpster fire yet again. NO is the best team but the margin between them and the Bucs is very small. Even Atlanta can hang (they have beaten both ATL and NO). What the Saints have is a defense, and defense travels in December-January. If you’re asking me which team can pull off a crazy upset, especially at home, it is these guys. Their offense is still top-half overall despite no namers all over the place and shaky quarterback play.


(1) It was fun while it lasted. Just kidding, kinda. NYG put together three wins and played some exciting football. Maybe some were wondering “…what if.” No fault of your own if you did. It has been a long decade-plus and any sense of exciting football can get you feeling like our little ones do about the upcoming holiday. Fantasy or real. These final three games are all about evaluation. Do we really know what DeVito is? Can he lock in the cheap-backup QB option? Does he deserve to be more? How does Schmitz respond to such a poor game and has the league found the hole in his armor? Will Banks continue to improve weekly? And where does the NYG receiver group stand heading into the offseason with Robinson and Hyatt? If they can be a plus-2/3 duo, NYG can pull an aggressive trigger.

(2) When I reflect on this roster and the future, I will catch myself in a problem I think some General Managers get twisted in. You look at team and convince yourself the bones of the structure are there. The franchise left tackle. The dominant defensive lineman with a hopefully-ascending star to complement. A corner who appears to have the goods and an offensive playmaker who is still feared around the league. But then, BAM – a game like this. A reminder how many pieces it truly takes to build a credible contender that will be competitive year after year. Complacency with good but not good enough is a major issue around the league. I encourage everyone to try and watch teams like BAL, SF, DAL, PHI, even KC still. The level of “better than good” on both sides of the ball, and notably in the trenches, is head and shoulders above NYG. To some, I am stating the obvious and I know that. And I haven’t even brought up the quarterback. But as many get into draft and free agency talk – remember you should view this as another two offseasons of building the roster before NYG is even in the discussion. Don’t only look at right now. Don’t only look at 2024.

(3) Two of the these next three games are against the Eagles. The offense is what it is, and I expect many changes to that side of the ball between now and the start of 2024. But defensively? This is the group. This is the nucleus. While we will see a few new faces and perhaps a starter or two elsewhere, the majority of this defense will be tasked with slowing down Jalen Hurts and the 2024 Eagles offense. I want to see Wink Martindale try some concepts and strategy that he can carry over into the future. I believe he will (and should) be back. This team needs to figure out the division rival Eagles. They put up 108 points in 3 games against Martindale last year. When I break things down to its simplest form when it comes to where NYG needs to go from here, it starts with beating the teams in the NFC East. These two games coming up, starting with Christmas afternoon, are enormous opportunities for Martindale especially to try and figure the puzzle out. Take some risks, let’s see what happens.

Dec 152023
Tommy DeVito, New York Giants (December 11, 2023)

Life is often stranger than fiction

We have officially entered some bizarre, surreal, Twilight Zone territory. Almost overnight, the Tommy DeVito story has turned into what seems a real-life Hollywood production. You may love it. You may hate it. But at least for a small moment, it has made the New York Football Giants fun and interesting again.

Before we dive into the very meaningful short-term ramifications of Monday night’s huge (and it was huge) upset of the Green Bay Packers, we need to address the elephant in the room. Most of us are so very tired of talking about it, but the impact of DeVito-mania on Daniel Jones must be recognized.

I’ve long said to fans on the site, “It can always get worse.” Well, I broke my own mantra a few weeks back when I erroneously claimed that the 2023 season could not have gone worse for Daniel Jones. It just did. Not only did Jones only win one game in 2023, injure his neck again, and tear his ACL, but now an underdog local kid has captured the hearts and minds of much of the fan base. At this point, Jones has to be wondering what he did to deserve all of this.

The odds that Tommy DeVito ends up being the real deal are not good. It’s much more likely his name will the answer to some obscure trivia question years from now. The NFL graveyard is littered with quarterbacks who flashed early, were proclaimed the savior by the fanbase, and then unceremoniously disappeared into oblivion once opposing defensive coordinators figured them out. Two upcoming games against the Philadelphia Eagles are also likely to be an ugly wake-up call.

However… what if Tommy DeVito continues to flash? Even if the Giants don’t come out victorious, what if DeVito throws touchdown passes while minimizing mistakes? What if he truly is the best quarterback on the current roster? That’s not such an absurd statement anymore. Give Sy’56 credit. For several weeks he has been saying there is something more here than meets the eye with DeVito. You can’t ignore three straight games with a QBR over 100. No Giants quarterback has done that since Eli Manning almost 10 years ago. And Manning was an 11-year veteran at the time with two Super Bowl rings. Most importantly, DeVito is winning. He’s 3-1 as a starter.

Which brings us to the complications. I’m not going to get into the losing for a draft pick vs. winning for culture debate, but simply point out there is a legitimate downside at play here. If you had your mind set on drafting a new “franchise” quarterback in April, that’s starting to look more problematic. A lot of teams need new quarterbacks and the Giants are now falling down the draft board with each win. So that raises a number of new questions. Do the Giants still draft one of the second-tier quarterbacks early in the draft? Do the Giants risk going into training camp with just Jones, DeVito, and some free agent veteran? By signing or not signing a free agent veteran in March, aren’t the Giants telegraphing what they may do in the draft in April? Will Jones be designated the incumbent before camp even starts or will there be an open competition? Life didn’t just get strange for the Giants, it may have gotten a lot more complicated for Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll.

Somewhat lost in DeVito mania is the Giants won a game on Monday night that no one expected them to win. While the Packers may have only been 6-6, they had won three games in a row, including over the Super Bowl contending Lions and Chiefs. This was a must game for them. The Giants had nothing to play for except pride. Just as significantly, the Giants were 0-8 in their last eight Monday night games. The Giants had become the NFL’s version of the Washington Generals in primetime. The win not only (barely) put the Giants back into the playoff picture, but it arguably was one of the team’s most memorable wins in recent memory. And it happened after it appeared that the Giants had once again embarrassingly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with the Saquon Barkley fumble. There was nothing fluky about the win. It was legitimately earned.

So in the short term, the upset win has changed the entire meaning of Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints. The Giants are miraculously still alive and they can stay alive with another upset in the bayou. Of the four regular-season games remaining, this is the game the Giants are most likely to win. Af the very least, the Giants have changed the narrative from when I prematurely wrote last week, “The offseason can’t get here fast enough.”


  • WR Wan’Dale Robinson (quad – probable)
  • WR Parris Campbell (knee – probable)
  • TE Darren Waller (hamstring – questionable)
  • RT Evan Neal (ankle – doubtful)
  • OG Justin Pugh (calf – questionable)
  • DL Dexter Lawrence (hamstring – questionable)
  • DL A’Shawn Robinson (hamstring/finger – probable)
  • ILB Isaiah Simmons (ankle – probable)
  • ILB Cam Brown (hamstring – probable)
  • OLB Azeez Ojulari (shoulder – probable)
  • CB Cor’Dale Flott (shoulder – probable)

“Let’s pump the brakes on DeVito. It’s only been four games.” No shit. We know this. We also know that the clock may strike midnight for Cinderella at any time. Moreover, as I said last week, quarterback development is not linear. Even veterans have good and bad games in their prime.

However, as mentioned above, DeVito has QBRs of 137.7, 103.9, and 113.9 in his last three games with a 5-0 TD-to-INT ratio. That’s not supposed to happen for a rookie, let alone an undrafted player. Not only is he not making killer mistakes, but he is making plays with his arm and feet to win games.

So what is going on? For one, somehow the moment doesn’t seem too big for him. “It’s just a game.” What will be interesting to see if the off-the-field hype and interest starts to impact his play. Can DeVito shut out the exterior noise and continue to remain sharp? Most people can’t do that. The pressure gets to be too much. Secondly, to date, he’s not making the mistakes you expect a rookie to make, especially someone with a still shaky offensive line (don’t let the zero sacks on Monday fool you; and he has been sacked 28 times). Thirdly, his pocket presence on Monday was noticeably better. In previous games, including going back to his collegiate days, DeVito had a tendency to hold onto the ball too long and take unnecessary sacks. Was Monday night an anomaly or is he responding to coaching? Remains to be seen. Fourth, he’s been aggressive throwing the ball down the field and allowing his receivers to make plays. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, DeVito has done a good job of reading opposing defenses and throwing to the open receiver. This sounds simpler than it really is. And rookie quarterbacks are supposed to struggle with this. Some have argued that he is processing information faster than Daniel Jones. It sounds good and it makes sense, but I don’t know if it true. Only the coaches would really know. If true, that is very surprising for both the 5th-year veteran Jones and the rookie DeVito.

So I will repeat what I wrote last week: “Can he keep this up?” The odds say no. But what if he does?

There has been a lot of discussion about the play of the offensive line, especially by those who claim DeVito is only doing better than Jones because of improved OL play. This is only partially true. The loss of Andrew Thomas for seven weeks was huge and had a domino effect on the entire line. The injury bug was also impacting the position to the point where there was a new line combination every single game. At one point, the Giants fielded the greenest OL in football. The return of Thomas and the presence of veterans Ben Bredeson and Justin Pugh helped to settle things down, but the line still has not been good. The Giants continue to have issues run and pass blocking. While many Giants fans have turned Evan Neal into a bogeyman, the team needs him to get back on the field again, even if his ankle injury and rustiness leads to more problems. Neal is still part of the team’s future and he needs the work, even if the results are ugly. Tyre Phillips is not the future.

The improved play at quarterback has made the receivers more productive. Jalin Hyatt won “Rookie of the Week.” We’re seeing flashes of what Isaiah Hodgins did last season. Most notably, Wan’Dale Robinson has been improving each game. Don’t underestimate what this means for the team moving forward. For a player whose game is based on quickness, the ACL injury he suffered last year could have been career-impacting.

If the Giants are going to defy all of the odds and make a mini-run here, then I will go out on a limb and say that Darren Waller is going to have to be a big part of that. Despite the fact that Waller has been nagged by hamstring issues all season, and despite the fact that he has missed five games, Waller is still the team’s second-leading receiver with the 36 catches he caught in the first eight weeks. If he is anywhere near full-go, Waller is a match-up problem. He will open things up for Saquon Barkley and the other receivers.

What about the Saints, a 6-7 team in a bad division? Who have they beaten? Titans, Bears, Panthers (twice), Pats, Colts. Not exactly a murderer’s row. That said, statistically they have a respectable defense, 13th overall in yards allowed and 10th in points allowed (20 per game). Pass defense has been top-10, but run defense has been bottom tier, very similar to the Green Bay Packers. We may see a heavy dose of Barkley on Sunday.

In the first six games of the season, during the team’s 1-5 start, the Giants were -3 in turnover differential. In the next seven games, during the 4-3 rebound, the Giants were +9 in turnover differential. Sy’56 and others have correctly pointed out that turnover differential is one of the most important predictors of team success. The problem with turnovers is that you can’t count on them. They come and go, being at the whim of the football gods. My point here is we will have to see how the defense performs when the turnovers cease.

One of the most important developments from Monday’s game was the mini-breakout of Azeez Ojulari. He not only was a factor rushing the passer (sack and three pressures) but he actually did a nice job in run defense. Like with Waller on offense, if the team is going to make a mini-run here, Ojulari probably is going to be key on the defensive side of the football. The questions remain with him, however. Can he stay healthy? Can he be consistent both rushing the passer and playing the run?

There have also been a number of random points I’ve wanted to raise in recent weeks, but failed to do so. These are issues Schoen, Daboll, and Martindale will need to consider moving forward. While not spectacular, Xavier McKinney and Jason Pinnock have been a very reliable and consistent safety duo this season. They play every snap and there are few games where you point to them being an issue. To date, Deonte Banks has had a very strong rookie season. Even on plays where he is “beat,” he’s been right with the receiver. Early in the season, it appeared Adoree’ Jackson would be relegated to nickel corner with Tre Hawkins possibly also starting. However, Jackson has largely regained his outside starting spot. It will be interesting to see how the team now handles the cornerback spot opposite Banks moving forward. One also gets the sense that the team wants Cor’Dale Flott to nail down the nickel spot. While he has flashed and played well at times, he keeps getting nicked up and has struggled too.

Isaiah Simmons did make a game-winning interception against the Commanders, but the late round fliers Schoen spent on him and Boogie Basham have not worked out. Since both Schoen and Daboll saw Basham up close and personal in Buffalo, the latter deal is even more of a head-scratcher. Basham was a healthy scratch last week.

Oddly, one of the most underreported/underappreciated developments this year has been the play of Kayvon Thibodeaux. Only a couple of months ago, many fans were lamenting his selection with the #5 overall pick. Through 13 games, Thibodeaux has 11.5 sacks despite not having a complementary outside threat opposite of him. While some offensive coordinators have taken advantage of his aggressiveness (see the Packers’ end arounds), his run defense at the point-of-attack has been much better this year too. In other words, he is developing into the player originally hoped for.

As for the Saints, the guy to worry about is running back Alvin Kamara, both as runner and receiver. Kamara leads the team with five rushing touchdowns and is second on the team with 63 receptions. This despite missing the first three games of the season. This is real test for Bobby Okereke, who has been a very good free agent addition for the Giants. But Kamara may be too quick for him. The Giants may have also caught a break with leading receiver Chris Olave being gimpy with an ankle injury. “Quarterback” but jack-of-all-trades, gadget player  Taysom Hill is a threat running and catching the ball too.

Overall, the Saints are 13th in offensive yards, being middle-of-the-pack both passing and running the football. Ex-Raider Derek Carr is the quarterback. He’s been what he has been throughout his a career, a guy who plays well one week and doesn’t the next. Much depends on which version of him you get on Sunday.

Returner Rashid Shaheed, who has been battling a thigh injury, has a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown this season. He also returns kickoffs.

Wink Martindale on Kayvon Thibodeaux: “I said that the guy has no ceiling. You remember me saying that before. The reason why he doesn’t have a ceiling is because he doesn’t allow himself to have a ceiling. He’s in here working every day. He and (Outside Linebackers Coach) Drew (Wilkins) are in there watching tape from everything from A to Z because that’s what he does. He’s dropping in coverage, and they handle all that. So, I can’t say enough about his work ethic, and he has that knack. To me, he’s a finisher at the football, whether it’s a sack, a strip sack, or the play you saw on Monday night when we had (Jordan) Love held up and he dug the ball out. He’s leading the defense. I mean, he’s a vocal leader out there. Like I already said, it’s crazy, because the guy is only 22 years old. He’s becoming that football savant in the NFL where he sees things before they happen. He knows what’s coming. That’s a testament to, like I said, he and Drew Wilkins, and how hard they study the game. It’s fun to watch.”

According to one statistical analysis, the Giants have less than a 1 percent chance to make the playoffs. So the odds are atrocious. Still, from fan and team-building perspective, it would be fascinating to see Tommy DeVito play at Lincoln Financial Field with something on the line for both teams on Christmas Day. To get to that point, the Giants must win a winnable game against the Saints first. Can the Giants win four in a row and reach 6-8?

Dec 122023
Wan'Dale Robinson, New York Giants (December 11, 2023)

Wan’Dale Robinson – © USA TODAY Sports


Tommy DeVito: 17/21 – 158 yards / 1 TD – 0 INT

DeVito also added 71 yards on 10 carries, including a 26-yard run that fell a yard shy of a touchdown. Saquon Barkley scored on the next play to give the Giants a 14-10 third quarter lead. The story continues on from the undrafted rookie even though Tyrod Taylor was off Injured Reserve. It was the right decision for this team to ride the hot hand. DeVito’s play overall, the fact he is a rookie with more unknown margin, and his ascending momentum made the call a near no-brainer. This offense, this team, and this fan base are all responding to this kid being under center.

Early on, DeVito missed multiple throws. I counted three wide misses (AKA awful accuracy throws), two of which were on third down. He steadied the ship and went 10/11 for 110 yards and a score after halftime, in addition to 45 yards rushing. He made clutch throws both from the pocket and on the move. He was precise, but also showed off excellent arm strength. The key trait I see in him that is keeping the hope alive that NYG may actually have something here is the combination of anticipation and a sudden release. DeVito is not a manufactured robot. He can feel the defense and can alter/adjust his approach at the final moment before delivering a clean, accurate ball. That ability makes it a lot tougher to pressure him. He is, on the fly, figuring out how to beat coverage even when the defense wins early on in a play. That is a special trait.


Saquon Barkley: 20 att – 86 yards – 2 TD / 3 rec – 15 yards

-Barkley had a 100+ total yard and 2-TD game for the second time over their last three contests. He was used to grind out the Packers defense without much room for most of the night. But things began to open up for him in the second half, rushing for 68 yards on 11 carries. Toward the end of the fourth quarter, with NYG trying to close out the game, Barkley ripped off his biggest gain of the night (34 yards). He was tripped up, regained his footing, then tripped over the turf himself. The weird-looking play ended with him falling to the ground untouched and the ball popped out as he hit the ground. That is a fumble, and it gave Green Bay the ball back, down 5. They scored a touchdown and took the lead with under 2:00 left. We have seen Barkley make colossal mistakes at the end of games before and this would have been the worst. Situational awareness and smoothness will not be what he is remembered for.


Wan’Dale Robinson: 6 rec – 79 yards / 2 att – 36 yards

Without Robinson’s big plays, NYG does not win this game. On their first scoring drive, Robinson had a 32-yard run. On their second scoring drive, Robinson caught a 4-yard pass. On their third scoring drive, Robinson caught a 25-yard pass. On their fourth (and final) scoring drive, Robinson caught passes of 5 and 32 yards, respectively. Three of the team’s four biggest plays went to Robinson. Call him whatever you want, but now that he is a year-plus removed from his ACL surgery we are seeing how much he can impact the game across multiple roles. Simply put, he is a unique playmaker who is starting to see things clearly and quickly. He alone will make this offense better in ways nobody else can.

-Isaiah Hodgins caught 2 passes for 22 yards and a touchdown. While we have not seen him build off the impressive and surprising 2022 campaign, Hodgins still breeds confidence in big situations. The routes and ball skills at his size and power presence are very usable in the right role. I would not call him a number one, two, or three. But similar to what Jauan Jennings does for San Francisco, he can be that reliable back-of-group guy who in specific situations when a short- to intermediate-play is needed.

-Jalin Hyatt and Darius Slayton each caught two passes without any explosive plays. Hyatt dropped a ball on the first drive.


-Daniel Bellinger caught 2 passes for 15 yards. He was very slow and awkward post-catch. He has not gotten into a groove this year, as things seem to look too fast for him at times. That is fine for a number two guy who can block well, but he is not blocking well. NYG was stuffed on 4th-and-1 when they tried to hand it to Barkley with Bellinger leading the way as a blocker. Bellinger made contact with linebacker Eric Wilson but failed to get movement and even worse, failed to maintain contact. Wilson made the tackle and forced a turnover on downs.


-Packers outside linebacker Rashan Gary is one of the best edge defenders in the NFL. The NJ product has been among league leaders in pressure rate four straight years (and is coming off a torn ACL). He was shut down by Andrew Thomas in this match-up. The All-Pro caliber tackle allowed one pressure on the night and paved the way on Barkley’s first touchdown run. The twitchy control he plays with is incredible.

-Ben Bredeson was the main weak point to an offensive line that, as a whole, played well. He allowed three pressures. Justin Pugh allowed two while Tyre Phillips and John Michael Schmitz each allowed one.

-Schmitz continues to be a polarizing player from an evaluation standpoint. The rookie is (by far) the best option they have at center. He is an outstanding gap blocker and blocks well when moving downhill. He gets clean, productive contact at the point-of-attack before climbing to the second level and finishes off linebackers consistently. The issue that keeps popping up that causes tackles for loss is the wide zone blocking assignments. He is giving up way too much ground and loses a lot of power and balance when moving laterally. It shows up in pass protection as well. Correctable issue? Yes. But it will be vital to correct in time.


-Kayvon Thibodeaux continued his steady play as a pass rusher. He finished with a sack and 3 pressures. His biggest play of the night was a forced fumble that Xavier McKinney recovered. While it did not turn into points for NYG, the play did take place within field goal range in a game that ended with a two-point victory. The blemish on Thibodeaux’s grade sheet was the outside contain against the run. Green Bay went after him due to the fact he crashes down so hard on blocking schemes that are going away from him. He got fooled three times and did not recover well.

-Azeez Ojulari tied his season high with 49 snaps and played his most impactful game of the year with a half-sack, 3 pressures, and 3 tackles. The pass rush will get most of the attention, but I thought his run defense was equally effective and impactful. He shined brightest in the second half, which is a sneaky-positive because of the issues that surround his durability.

-Jihad Ward is seeing his playing time decrease and struggled to make any impact at all.


-Dexter Lawrence was on a pitch count, but he still found a way to impact the game in a big way. On just 43% of the snaps (he is normally over 70%), he had 2 tackles, a half-sack, and 3 pressures. A’Shawn Robinson stepped up big in his place. He finished with 8 tackles (the most he’s had in a game since November 2021), a tackle for loss, and a pass break up. He was controlling multiple gaps and shedding blockers with ease. Big-time effort and performance from him.

-Rakeem Nunez-Roches added 2 tackles while backups D.J. Davidson and Jordon Riley saw a few snaps. Davidson was flagged for a false start early and missed a tackle, while Riley made a nice run stop where he showed good stack-and-shed with an explosive finish.


-Another week, another 100% snap total for Bobby Okereke, who has not missed a single snap all season. He finished with 6 tackles. While he did allow 5 completions on 5 targets, everything was underneath and kept in front of him. The exposure I saw in his game arrived on the outside runs to GB receiver Jayden Reed. He did not reach the outside gate quickly enough.

-Micah McFadden had 5 tackles but also missed two. A.J. Dillon delivered a stiff arm to him that showed the lack of length McFadden has. In some situations that is a real issue. Isaiah Simmons rotated in a few times and also missed a tackle. His contact on the ball carrier is so weak and soft when it comes to straight ahead run defense. Any time a quality downhill rushing attack sees him on the field, they start salivating. He dances around blocks or struggles to play stout. Rarely do I see him coming out of an inside run play with a positive grade.


-Deonte Banks was targeted often by the Packers passing game. Banks was thrown at 10 times; no one else was targeted 6 times. He did allow a touchdown and 5 catches, but he also broke up a pass and finished with a team-high 12 tackles. He was close to the action post-catch, limiting extra yards and he did not miss any. One of his tackles went for loss and he had a stop on fourth down that was incorrectly called a first down by the refs. His 3rd-and-10 pass deflection on a vertical route in the end zone showed outstanding ball-tracking and speed. To sum up, Banks was all over the field and has firmly proven he is a capable pro starting corner who is very early on the progression curve. He has exciting talent.

-Adoree’ Jackson and Cor’Dale Flott played the majority of the other corner snaps. Jackson was quietly effective in coverage, but Flott had a rough go. He allowed multiple first downs and was flagged for a pass interference on a third down stop. It was a panic move by him that could have easily been avoided.


-Both safeties came up with big plays as they once again played every snap. Jason Pinnock picked off a pass on a bad underthrow by Jordan Love, and Xavier McKinney recovered a fumble. Turnovers have been the main catalyst to NYG turning things around and it is good to see these two joining the party. It is primary component to safety play I look for in evaluation. They both finished with 4 tackles and 1 missed tackle.

-Dane Belton played 6 snaps, ending with a pressure, and Bobby McCain was hit by the ball on a punt return, giving GB the ball back in NYG territory in the third quarter. It resulted in three points for GB.


-OT Andrew Thomas, WR Wan’Dale Robinson, EDGE Azeez Ojulari


-DT D.J. Davidson, LB Isaiah Simmons, TE Daniel Bellinger


(1) The Jordan Love situation will be one to watch this offseason. He is playing on a one-year, prove-it deal and the only thing he has proven is that we still have no idea if he can be the guy. But without a current Plan B, what are they supposed to do? If he hits the market, there will undoubtedly be a team that signs him to mid-tier starter money. If they keep him, it likely has to be another short deal that swallows a lot of cap room. At his best, Love has the talent to be special. But the inconsistencies (we saw it last night) are too frequent to assume he can play at a high-level year after year.

(2) Head Coach Matt LaFleur is from the Shanahan tree that is all over the league now. Early success (three straight 13-win seasons) was a nice start, but as Rodgers came down to earth and then got traded, along with a defense that worsened, a credible question can be asked about his future. He has a good shot at finishing under .500 for the second straight year, and it doesn’t look like he has developed Love as well as one would expect for a first rounder. Firing him this offseason would be premature, but as I said with Love above, what can they do here? Starting over is on the table.

(3) The areas of this roster (the youngest in the NFL at the start of the season) that I feel good about are at receiver and tight end. Rookie WR Jayden Reed is a player who could easily be another D.J. Moore. Second-year WR Romeo Doubs and another rookie wide receiver, Dontayvion Wicks, look like ideal complements who can be Amani Toomer-types. Tight ends Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft would start as rookies on over half the teams in the NFL and both have top-10 upside. And lastly, Christian Watson has as much talent as Tee Higgins, but health is a major concern. If I am a veteran QB looking to sign somewhere or force a trade, Green Bay would be on my short list.


(1) There is a lot to both like and be entertained by when it comes to DeVito. But what I am looking at from evaluation standpoint that weighs the most is how he handled the 2-minute and pass rush situations. He went 4/4 – 53 yards on a drive that began on the NYG 25-yard line. He took what the defense gave and got it out clean + crisp. It summed up his game perfectly and checked another box for one of the most unlikely stories of the year in the NFL.

(2) This is what I wanted to see out of the Giants offense this year. We saw more efficiency in 2022 than the prior nightmares we called seasons. But NYG was still so down the list in explosive plays. The best offensive success they had stemmed from the Daniel Jones runs, but we know that is hard (and dangerous) to sustain. Now? We still see efficiency that grows from protecting the ball, but there are also the explosives that keep showing up. The versatility they are showing on these plays (pass, RB run, WR run, QB run, yards after catch, deep balls) will be the future of this offense. It is good to see the plan can work. Next up, consistency.

(3) Yes, NYG is still in the playoff hunt. The odds are incredibly small, but with how the NFC is shaping up and the rate of injuries we see league-wide, don’t sleep on the idea. The biggest road block will be the two match-ups against PHI. While I won’t be betting on NYG in those games, don’t overlook how hard PHI is crashing down to earth. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. New Orleans is a team on the bubble and a head-to-head win there could make things very interesting if a couple of other chips fall into place. This is a low-key, very big game. NYG is a team that has absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Dec 092023
Tommy DeVito, New York Giants (November 26, 2023)

Tommy DeVito – © USA TODAY Sports

When the NFL schedule was released in May, New York Giants fans noted the late bye. The hope and expectation was the team would hover around .500 or above during the first 12 games, regroup at the bye, and make a final push for a playoff spot in the last five games. The defense had been strengthened in the offseason with notable additions on the defensive line, at linebacker, and at cornerback. Quarterback Daniel Jones was having his best camp in late July and August, with Darren Waller and Parris Campbell being his favorite targets. Right tackle Evan Neal was supposed to make a big jump.

Nobody saw the 2-8 start coming, made a little more respectable by the recent 2-game winning streak. The season has pretty much been all but officially over since October. Some fans cling to the notion that the team was “this” close to being 6-6, but that’s always a dangerous game. The Giants are also “this” close to being 0-12. We’re talking about a team that at the macro level is still dead last in offense, 31st in scoring with 13.3 points per game, and 28th in defense. These are worst-team-in-the-league type numbers.

At 4-8, most fans know the real drama unfortunately will not come during a late-season push in December, but in the offseason in January, February, March, and April. Which coaches stay and which go? Which free agents will be allowed to leave? Who will be signed and re-signed? Who will be drafted? These are monumental questions that include uncertainty with all three coordinators, not to mention who quarterbacks this team moving forward.

As for the final five games, just a few weeks ago, it appeared that three of them might actually be winnable for the Giants. Three weeks ago, the Packers and Rams were 3-6. Both are now two of the NFL’s hottest teams, each having won three games in a row, and now standing at 6-6 in a largely terrible conference. Both are playing much better than the Giants right now, and both actually are very much in the playoff hunt. The Giants also still face the Eagles twice and a 5-7 Saints team that has lost three games in a row. It’s hard to see the Giants winning more than one more game at best. Not with a team that struggles to score 10 points per game.

The offseason can’t get here fast enough.


  • QB Tyrod Taylor (ribs – probable)
  • WR Parris Campbell (knee – questionable)
  • TE Daniel Bellinger (illness – questionable)
  • RT Evan Neal (ankle – out)
  • DL Dexter Lawrence (hamstring – questionable)
  • DL A’Shawn Robinson (hamstring – questionable)
  • ILB Isaiah Simmons (ankle – questionable)
  • ILB Carter Coughlin (hip – probable)

The Daniel Jones situation has been discussed to death, including my recent article (The Risks of Tripling Down on Daniel Jones). The most interesting thing that occurred at the position this past week was Brian Daboll deciding to stick with Tommy DeVito as the starter over Tyrod Taylor, who is now healthy enough to play again. I did not expect this. Regardless of how you feel about Taylor, he is still a 13-year veteran who has started 56 games in this league (winning half of them). He’s also far more mobile than DeVito, which helps behind this offensive line. Point blank, Taylor gives the Giants the best chance to pull off an upset or two in the final five weeks.  The coaches know it. The players know it.

What’s so fascinating is that Daboll (most likely in consultation with Joe Schoen) feels comfortable enough with his status to continue to evaluate the undrafted rookie free agent. This isn’t best for the short-term, but it is for the long-term. There is a very good chance that the injury-prone Taylor won’t be re-signed, especially after his has just been semi-snubbed by Daboll (Taylor took the high road this week, but he was not happy with the decision). The Giants need to get a good read on DeVito heading into the offseason. Is he capable of being an adequate back-up in this league? Is there a chance he can be even more than that? Regardless, every play matters. He may not have a long leash. “I’d just say let’s get ready to go this game and then we’ll, like we do every week, revisit things,” said Daboll on Tuesday.

So the pressure is on DeVito to perform if he wants to keep playing. This is good. Let’s see what he’s made of. While the Giants are not scoring a lot of points, DeVito has had a QBR of over 100 in his last two starts. That’s really impressive. As Daboll said, he’s earned the right to keep playing. Can he keep this up? Quarterback development is not linear. At some point, the rookie is going to make a really bad play. How he responds to that will be telling.

The problem for DeVito and the Giants is they face yet another defense that is stingy giving up points. The Packers are 9th in scoring defense, allowing an average of 20 points per game. Green Bay has also quietly become one of the league’s more effective pass rushing teams, one of the reasons they are top-10 in pass defense. However, their run defense is actually worse than the Giants, suggesting a heavy dose of Saquon Barkley. Green Bay knows this, which makes the cat-and-mouse game between Daboll/Kafka and defensive coordinator Joe Barry interesting. Do the Giants come out throwing with the rookie? Or do they run Barkley into the teeth of a defense looking to stop the run first and foremost?

With the expectation that Green Bay is likely to win this game, why should Giants fans watch? Aside from DeVito, my eyes will be focused on important players moving forward such as Jalin Hyatt, Wan’Dale Robinson, and John Michael Schmitz. We also still need to get a more thorough evaluation on guys like Ben Bredeson, Daniel Bellinger, and Isaiah Hodgins.

This has been a weird year for the team’s defense. With offseason additions such as Bobby Okereke, A’Shawn Robinson, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Isaiah Simmons, and Deonte Banks, more was expected than the 28th overall defense through 12 games. Football is indeed complementary so some of that is on the offense. And there have been noticeable upticks in performance where the defense has looked very good, most notably in games against the Bills, Commanders, Jets, and Patriots. While one could say the defense is trending in the right direction, there were really disappointing setbacks too in recent contests against the Raiders and Cowboys. The Giants also began the season allergic to turnovers and now they are coming in droves. The head-scratcher remains why Wink’s defense was so good in Baltimore but continues to be bottom-tier in New York.

I really think these last five games are more important for the defense. The offense has some structural issues at quarterback and on the line that can’t be addressed until the offseason. While the defense obviously needs more help at edge, especially with the pass rush, it has fewer excuses. What kind of effort and results can we expect from the defense against the Packers, Saints, Rams, and Eagles? Will the defense be trending upwards or downwards against teams far stronger on offense than Commanders, Jets, and Patriots?

Adding unnecessary drama to the mix is the question about the relationship between Daboll and Wink Martindale. It’s been widely reported there is tension between both of these strong personalities and there may be a parting of the ways after the season. The way both Daboll and Martindale have responded to these allegations has been somewhat guarded, as beat reporter Dan Duggan pointed out:

Martindale did an adept job of straddling the line of neither confirming nor denying the report. He said his relationship is “fine” and the “same as last year.” Joe Schoen made the same reference to the relationship not changing from last year. I think that’s because there’s always been an element of friction, but they’ve been able to work through it. As Martindale said, these types of reports happen when you’re 4-8 instead of 8-4. Martindale said he wants to stay here, but said he doesn’t know what will happen. He tried to keep the focus on the players. Sounded like a parent trying to work things out for the kids.

Make no mistake, changing defensive coordinators would be a step back in the rebuilding process. Wink has had a say in who the team has acquired the past two seasons. Furthermore, players could have to learn an entire new system and terminology with a new defensive coordinator unless it is an in-house promotion. At the same time, while the defense has played better than the offense this year, it hasn’t been good enough. The net effect of all of this is January will be very interesting. I suspect there is a good chance that Martindale is let go despite what all parties are claiming right now.

Enter the red hot Green Bay Packers, who are playing their best football of the season with wins over the 5-7 Chargers, 9-3 Lions, and 8-4 Chiefs. Much of that has to do with an offense that has scored 26 points per game in its last three contests and the improved play of quarterback Jordan Love. His QBR in the last three games has been 108.5, 125.5, and 118.6 while throwing eight touchdowns and no interceptions. That’s elite level.

As I’ve harped on in recent weeks, the team’s pass rush will remain a problem for the remainder of the season unless Azeez Ojulari somehow plays light’s out for the final games. Leonard Williams is gone. Dexter Lawrence missed the last game with a hamstring injury that could remain an issue. Kayvon Thibodeaux is now a marked man. What I want to see is the run defense improve. Personally, I can’t stand how many yards this team gives up on the ground. I want to see dramatic improvement there.

We finally saw some kick-ass special teams tackles in the last game, notably from Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown. More of that please. Those type of plays are tone-setters.

Saquon Barkley on the remaining schedule: “We’re in this motherfucker, to be honest. I’m going to keep it real. We’re not looking too far, we’re not looking in on the hunt or the playoff pictures, but we take care of what we’ve got to take care of, everyone can say what they want about the season, but it’s week whatever and everything we want is still there. So, we don’t need any extra motivation. Every game is a critical game no matter what, but especially now.”

The Packers beating the Lions and Chiefs in the past two weeks is a real eye-opener. They need this game too. Staying close for the Giants with DeVito at quarterback would be a moral victory. In the end, the Giants will likely finish 2023 going 0-5 in prime time games. Ouch.