Oct 252020
 
Share Button
Wayne Gallman, New York Giants (October 22, 2020)

Wayne Gallman – © USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles 22 – New York Giants 21

QUICK RECAP

Over the past decade, there haven’t been many team-to-team match-ups that are as one-sided as NYG vs PHI. To say the Eagles have had the Giants’ number would be an understatement worthy of laughter. No matter who the quarterbacks are, no matter who the head coaches are, NYG has been seeing PHI in their nightmares. In fact, the last time the Giants beat the Donovan McNabb-led Eagles in consecutive match-ups was 2008. Brandon Jacobs led the team in rushing, Kevin Boss led the team in receiving, Antonio Pierce led the team in tackles, Corey Webster led the team in pass break ups, and Eli Manning was 27 years old. A lifetime ago. Despite that history and the fact that NYG came into this Thursday Night game with a 1-5 record, there was some hope and extra energy. The NFC East was crumbling, and the Giants were coming off a win against Washington. Had they won this one, they had a credible shot at being tied for first place in the division by the end of week 7. This had a “big-game” feel to it and the Eagles entered the night as arguably the most banged-up team in the NFL.

The aggressive Eagles’ offense had their downfield weapon and Giants killer, DeSean Jackson, back in the lineup. They went to him on the first two plays of the game as they marched down the field. They converted a 4th-and-1 attempt en route, as PHI leads the league in 4th-down attempts since Doug Pederson became their head coach in 2016. Carson Wentz powered his way into the end zone on a 1-yard run to put the home team up early.

The first blunder of the night occurred as the NYG punt team came onto the field following their initial offensive drive. They kept the offense on the field for 4th-and-3 before making the switch to punt at the last moment. PHI was scrambling as they tried to hurry and get their punt return team on the field as the defense darted off. They left the NYG gunner, Corey Ballentine, uncovered. He was, literally, all by himself with nobody between him and the first down marker. Punter Riley Dixon noticed, somehow Ballentine didn’t. The ball was snapped, and Dixon had no choice but to boot the ball back to PHI. An enormous missed opportunity! Winning teams capitalize on mistakes made by opponents. It is one of the simplest, basic, and everlasting components to the game. NYG isn’t there yet.

PHI went 3-and-out on the next drive and thanks to a 14-yard punt return, NYG began with the ball at the PHI 39. If you have paid attention to Jason Garrett’s tendencies while with DAL, this is a part of the field he loves to get aggressive on first down. On the first play, Jones threw a dime just over the head of the Eagles’ defender into the hands of Golden Tate, who made a strong catch and broke the tackle to easily jog into the end zone. NYG tied it up. The lead didn’t last long, as PHI used an inch-by-inch, foot-by-foot approach with the screen game being featured numerous times to put up another 3 points via a 31-yard field goal by Jake Elliott.

Daniel Jones got the Giants to midfield on the next drive, as the game plan was clearly heavy on getting the ball to Evan Engram. They were handing the ball off to him and they were throwing to him often in the passing game. On this 8-play drive, Engram was targeted four times, possibly one too many. PHI showed an aggressive double inside gap blitz on 3rd-and-7 and Jones took the shotgun snap and wanted to get rid of it in a hurry. He rifled the ball to Engram, with maybe too much juice on it, and Engram was slow to get his head around and just couldn’t grab the ball in time. It deflected off his hands and was intercepted by Jalen Mills. Turnover number 9 on the year for the second-year quarterback.

PHI failed to take advantage of the interception, as Carson Wentz threw one back to NYG on an ill-timed decision. James Bradberry came down with his third interception of the season and his second in as many games. Only two players in the league have more interceptions than Bradberry, a fantastic free agent signing for this team and maybe one of the best in the NFL this past offseason.

The two offenses traded possessions before NYG had one more shot with just under a minute left in the first half starting at their own 35. On Dion Lewis’ first touch of the game, he fumbled and gave PHI the ball at the 42. The third turnover in 5 drives reminded everyone watching what exactly the NFC East was in 2020. PHI got the ball close enough to take three shots at the end zone but had to settle on a 29-yard field goal attempt. Elliott lined up and missed it. An ugly second quarter was over with PHI up 10-7.

The two teams traded 4 straight three-and-outs to start the second half. NYG then started to take over. Daniel Jones dashed 80 yards before getting tripped by the turf. He was heading toward the end zone but lost his balance and fell. They ended up scoring a touchdown on a 1-yard Wayne Gallman run so this can now be laughed at. Even the best athletes in the world have the occasional slip up but NYG needed 4 plays and a PHI pass interference to get the 8 yards needed for the score. Had they not punched it in, this would have been the poster-play that sums up current state of the Giants organization.

NYG stopped PHI two more times as the Eagles offense was stalling. Already up 4, NYG put together a 15-play drive that began at the PHI 3-yard line after PHI failed on a 4th-and-goal attempt. PHI helped out with a 3rd-down pass interference and a too-late challenge by Pederson that would have went in their favor. Jones ended up hitting Sterling Shepard on a zip-line 2-yard pass to put NYG up 21-10 with just over 6 minutes left against an offense that looked completely broken. They were without multiple receivers, their starting running back, multiple offensive linemen, and their top two tight ends. It then took just over 1:30 for PHI to score a touchdown, a 3-yard pass to Greg Ward. A failed two-point conversion attempt maintained the NYG lead at 21-16, however. PHI would need a defensive stop and a touchdown in the final 5 minutes to win this one.

NYG gained 27 yards on their first three plays, all Gallman runs. On 3rd-and-7, Jones dropped back and threw one downfield to Engram. Many have been banging the table for more downfield passes to the gifted Engram, one of the top athletes in the NFL at the position and the most-targeted pass catcher of the night. They had the match-up and space they wanted. The throw was on the money. Engram reached out his arms and hands but dropped it. The clock stopped, it was 4th down, and NYG had to punt.

PHI needed 71 yards with just over 2:00 left. They got 53 of those yards on three plays using their third string tight end and backup running back. They were inside the NYG 10-yard line just like that. A face mask penalty pushed PHI back to the 18-yard line which may have ended up hurting the NYG defense more because they struggled to defend space. On the next play, Wentz hit Boston Scott on a top shelf throw just over the hands of Jabrill Peppers. PHI was up 22-21. They failed the two-point conversion attempt again, as NYG continued to defend short spaces well, and there was 40 seconds left but NYG didn’t have a timeout.

NYG got the ball to their own 32 on the first play but Will Hernandez was called for a hold. Instead of 2nd-and-3 from the 32, it was 1st-and-25 from the 15 and they had used 6 seconds. Two plays later Jones was sacked for the third time on the night and fumbled, giving the ball back to PHI. His third lost fumble of the season and 10th turnover.

NYG loses 22-21.

QUARTERBACK

-Daniel Jones: 20-30 / 187 yards / 2 TD-1 INT / 91.9 RAT

Jones added 92 yards on 4 carries, including 80 of them on one run that will be on blooper reels for years to come. He also added a lost fumble on the final NYG offensive play. Another game, another performance where we saw some really good things and some really bad things. The Jones apologists will say that Engram should have caught the pass that was intercepted and the fumble at the end of the game didn’t matter because there was little to no chance of them advancing the ball far enough for a game-winning field goal attempt. The haters will simply add them to his massive career turnover total. This is the deal; the pass on that interception had too much on it because Jones thought pressure was coming before it was actually coming. I do think Engram could have turned his head sooner but very few, if any, players are catching that ball. I keep saying we need to see Jones make improvements with his ball security. The fumble at the end of the game, albeit it did not directly lose NYG the game, further strengthens this is an enormous problem that can prevent NYG from winning when the roster is better. He made a few nice throws, he made some athletic plays, but he isn’t putting it all together yet.

RUNNING BACK

-Wayne Gallman: 10 att / 34 yards / 1 TD and 5 rec / 20 yards

Devonta Freeman suffered an ankle injury and Gallman was the one who took over in the backfield. All 10 of his carries were from the 3rd quarter on. Gallman’s stat line isn’t overly impressive but he was a big part of the NYG offensive “surge.” He ran the ball really well and gained several yards after contact. He has been a better back than advertised despite limited opportunities and unfortunate team circumstances. With Dion Lewis’ fumble and overall lack of impact here, I expect Gallman to get more and more touches in future games.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Sterling Shepard: 6 rec / 59 yards / 1 TD

It was Shepard’s first game back since Week 2 on September 20th. He looked quick and shifty from the slot and came up with a few key grabs, including a 2-yard touchdown in the 4th quarter that put NYG up by 11. It is easy to forget the gap between Shepard and his replacements until you see him back out on the field after missing a few games. He is a really explosive short-route runner who can consistently gain separation. While he is limited and can now be labeled an injury prone player, he is a key piece to this offense moving forward.

-Golden Tate had just 1 catch, which was a 39-yard touchdown. It was an impressive play on the ball but don’t let it cloud the fact he went the rest of the game without an impact. Not what you want from a starting outside receiver who has the third-highest cap number on the team. Speaking of no impact, Darius Slayton finished with 2 catches for 23 yards on 4 targets. PHI corner Darius Slay handled him well for the majority of the night.

TIGHT END

Evan Engram: 6 rec / 46 yards and 2 att / 3 yards

It was clear that Jason Garrett wanted to make Engram the key focus of this game. He led the team with 9 targets and the Giants continue to try to get him the ball in space via outside runs. It is hard to ignore Engram’s potential impact with his size/speed/explosion combination that very few have. However, his greatest weakness in the passing game from day one has been his inconsistent hands. He had 7 drops as a rookie and it appears to have become a mental block. This was not an issue in college, I scouted him thoroughly. He has 5 drops this year, and it is near a point where you almost have to give up on him because of it. Pass catchers can be slower than ideal, you can work around it. Pass catchers can be shorter than ideal, you can work around it. However, if you don’t catch the ball consistently you cannot be focal point in a good offense. End of discussion.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-We have seen some shaky performances from Andrew Thomas and this one may have been the worst. We can only hope that this is the low point of his rookie year. He allowed 2 sacks, 3 pressures, and a TFL. The league is attacking his inside shoulder on a weekly basis, and he needs to clean that up right now. The quickest route to the QB from the edge position is through the inside shoulder of the tackle. You have to protect that first, then protect the edge. He is over setting and playing too top heavy. He has a lot of work to do on his pass protection.

-Will Hernandez had a tough game against a really tough match-up. He allowed a TFL and a pressure and was also flagged for a hold on the final drive that really stung because of how ill-timed it was. Lateral movement just doesn’t come natural for him. Kevin Zeitler finished with his top grade of the season, which isn’t saying much. However, it was encouraging to see him play well on short rest against a tough opponent. He did allow a TFL, though.

-Cameron Fleming allowed a TFL and a sack. Not much to say here other than I still think his days are numbered as a starter. I do wonder if there is a trade market for him out there. There are a few contenders that are really thin at tackle and I did hear there was a long list of suitors who wanted him as their swing tackle prior to signing with NYG.

-Center Nick Gates was really good in this game. He has been evolving weekly and may be the best lineman on this team at the current moment. This was against a really tough PHI interior defensive line. He is the one guy who is constantly chasing the action downfield looking for a defender to pick off. Love the hustle and love the production he had in this one.

EDGE

-Kyler Fackrell is now in this position group as opposed to the linebackers. It looks like he has made the full time move to the outside. He had 3 tackles and 2 pressures to go along with 1 missed tackle. His ability to move inside and out is really special and rare, to be honest. There really aren’t many players in the league who can handle that kind of back-and-forth move. While we aren’t talking about an elite talent, his role is really important and hard to find. When looking at the draft prospects, I am constantly trying to find a credible skill set comparable to this and it doesn’t come around often.

-Markus Golden had a 1 sack and 1 pressure and was promptly traded to ARI the day after. Even though NYG could not afford to lose any more EDGE talent, Golden wasn’t an ideal fit and he won’t be a long-term fix. I am actually impressed that NYG netted a 6th round pick for him. The Cardinals really needed talent at that spot with the loss of Chandler Jones, though.

-Cam Brown played a career high 12 snaps and didn’t make an impact but his movement and size stand out. With the Golden trade now in the rear-view mirror, expect him to start seeing more and more snaps. That will be fun to watch.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

-One thing that has bothered me is how often this group gets blown up. I think Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham is sending them on a lot of designed slants, and depending on what the play call is, they get completely washed out. The Eagles offensive line was playing multiple practice squad-caliber guys and they still held their own against a NYG line that is supposed to be the strong point of this team. The match-up just didn’t swing in the Giants’ direction the way I was expecting.

-Leonard Williams finished with the top grade among the DL with 2 pressures and 1 tackle. He caused a lot of re-directing in the PHI running game. Dalvin Tomlinson had 3 tackles and a pressure in addition to a pass break up. He had a bad missed tackle however and was completely pushed down the field twice that opened up big running lanes. Dexter Lawrence had a tackle, a sack, and a pressure. B.J. Hill had 3 tackles and a sack that was negated by a NYG penalty. Lastly, Austin Johnson had 1 pressure and 1 tackle.

LINEBACKER

-Mr. Reliable Blake Martinez led the team in tackles yet again, this time with 9. He also added 2 pressures and a pass break up. Don’t take his play for granted simply because it happens every week. He is playing at such a high level.

-Devante Downs got the start even though David Mayo was back. He finished with 5 tackles and a pressure that led to an intentional grounding penalty early in the game. For a guy who has struggled so far this year, it was his best performance. Mayo was on the field for just 10% of the defensive snaps and finished with 2 tackles, 1 of which was on special teams. I think this job will belong to Downs for the time being.

CORNERBACK

-This group struggled overall. James Bradberry did haul in his 3rd interception of the season on a nicely played ball in the end zone. I was actually curious to see if he could handle DeSean Jackson because of the shifty speed he brings to the table. Bradberry excels against bigger receivers who don’t get in and out of breaks as well. Jackson did catch passes of 12 and 9 yards on the first drive of the game, but was held pretty quiet after that until injured. Bradberry did miss a tackle and was flagged for a pass interference on the PHI game winning drive.

-For the second week in a row, Ryan Lewis was torched down the field late in the game. He also got flagged for an illegal contact penalty. Teams will now test him more and more down the field.

-Corey Ballentine allowed a 3rd-and-10 conversion early on. He played under 20% of the snaps and I think he needs to start getting phased out of this defense. He just isn’t playing well and he doesn’t seem to mentally grasp the speed of this game. Speaking of mental gaffes, the mistake of not realizing he was uncovered on the NYG punt was an enormous missed opportunity that could have really changed the complexion of this game. Ballentine was also responsible for a 15-yard illegal hit penalty on the punt before the game-winning drive by PHI.

-Madre Harper, an undrafted rookie from the Raiders, saw a lot of playing time late and was promptly torched by the PHI passing game. In addition, he was flagged twice.

SAFETY

-Logan Ryan had a really solid game, as it looks like he played more safety than corner in this one. He had 2 pressures and a pass break up in the end zone. His biggest mistake, however, was a holding penalty on 3rd-and-goal from the 5-yard line on the final PHI drive. It gave them new life and two plays later they scored the game-winning touchdown. Awful timing on what was really his lone glaring mistake.

-Jabrill Peppers has minimal football sense. First of all, he fair caught two punts where he had 10+ yards of open space in front of him. Secondly, his man coverage of Boston Scott on the game- winning touchdown throw was atrocious. He came too hard downhill, knowing he didn’t have any help behind him against a back who accelerates quickly in a situation where you knew PHI was going to take a shot at the end zone. Talent at safety is useless if you don’t fully understand game situations. He did have 6 tackles and a sack.

-Julian Love had 7 tackles and a pass break up. Solid game for him where he read the action well and flowed in the right direction consistently.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano didn’t attempt a field goal. He apparently strained a quad on a kickoff, and it would have been a struggle for him to go for a long game-winning field goal had NYG gotten far enough up the field on their final drive.

-P Riley Dixon: 6 punts / 44.2 avg / 42.0 net

3 STUDS

-LB Blake Martinez, OC Nick Gates, RB Wayne Gallman

3 DUDS

-OT Andrew Thomas, TE Evan Engram, CB Corey Ballentine

3 THOUGHTS ON PHI

  1. Carson Wentz has become a completely different QB over these past two seasons, not in a good way. One can understand his happy feet in the pocket because of the poor OL play and lack of receiver-talent, but his poor decision-making should be alarming. He is trying to do too much and making throws that can’t be excused even by his biggest supporters. He leads the NFL in turnovers. They’re stuck with him for a while and they better pray this is a short-term speed bump.
  1. I respect the PHI coaching staff as much as any in the league. Their awful 2-point conversions play calls aside, these guys adjust to the game situation as well as anyone. They have been ravaged on offense with injuries two straight seasons. They don’t make it look pretty, but they get the job done.
  1. PHI is now the front runner of the division, no doubt. As they start to get some guys back on offense, I think they will be set up nicely to get to the 8-9 win mark, which we know won’t be touched by anyone else in the NFC Least. I wouldn’t want to play them in the playoffs, either. Their pass rush is top 3 in the league and they have a lot of guys who know how to win.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  1. Speaking of “knowing how to win,” that is the biggest component this young NYG team needs to acquire in the coming months. I think it is an overused line by the media at times, but when a team is making the most amount of mistakes late in the game (drops, penalties, allowed sacks, etc.), that is a sign of pressing and getting mentally defeated by the moment. Eli Manning played his best football late in games. Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan came up big late in games. While the team needs to continue to add better personnel, these players need to step up when the game is on the line consistently. They won’t go anywhere worth getting excited about until that happens.
  1. Last week, I discussed how this would be a big test for this team in regard to the future. A short week, a big game that meant a lot to the divisional standings, and response to coming off a win. It went so well for 3 and two-thirds of a quarter. Their defense was coming up big, notably in the second half, and their offense was adjusting well and turning opportunities into touchdowns. Ultimately, they failed the tests. Is this something we will keep on seeing? Or will they adjust and grow from the experience and end up being on the other side of this next time?
  1. Joe Judge emphasized getting smart, sound players during his initial interviews after being hired. He did this moreso than most coaches and their cliché lines. After 7 games, I can see what he means more than ever. If Corey Ballentine, Cameron Fleming, and Jabrill Peppers had higher on field IQ, this team may have 3 wins. If Evan Engram had mental toughness, this team may have another win. If this offensive line handled stunts and twists more naturally, this team may have another win. I know the “if” department doesn’t get anyone anywhere. However, when scouting players for the upcoming draft, that is something I am really going to key in on. NYG will be placing more value on it than ever.
Oct 212020
 
Share Button
Game Preview: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, October 22, 2020

THE STORYLINE

Yes, the stupid competitor in me says there is still a chance. Unbelievably, at 1-5, the New York Giants are only one game behind the division “leading” 2-4 Dallas Cowboys (who also currently own the head-to-head advantage too). Indeed, had the Giants not lost a very winnable game against the Cowboys, one where they led both early and late, New York would be in first place right now with a chance to go 3-0 in the division on Thursday night. That’s crazy.

But this is fool’s gold. The Giants are not a good team. The offense has scored more than 16 points in a game only once. They are 31st in yards and scoring. (Thank you Jets!) While the defense is more respectable, they have continued an excessively annoying inability to stop the other team late in the 2nd and 4th quarters. As expected, fan ire has turned on the usual scapegoats, the quarterback and the coaching staff. Despite the attempts of myself and others to repeatedly warn others about the shocking lack of talent on the offensive side of the ball (especially after the loss of Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard), many fans simply refuse to accept reality. They don’t seem to recognize that defenses stacked the box against Barkley and put a linebacker and safety on him on passing plays, opening things up for everyone else.

I told my wife this week, “If you put the skill position players from all 32 teams in a field and had the teams pick players one at a time from that group, you’d have a bunch of New York Giants left there at the end.” Yes, it is that bad. But we now have fans complaining that Jason Garrett doesn’t know how to use a tight end! (Actually, think about that statement for a moment). Or Daniel Jones is a bust because he’s not putting up 30 points a game with a washed up Golden Tate and undrafted rookie Austin Mack playing wide receiver. The team’s leading rusher isn’t a running back. And the Giants are still playing musical chairs on the offensive line. Dave Brown had much better offensive talent around him in the 1990s, and that’s saying something.

One of the craziest posts I saw this week is the suggestion that the Giants trade for a wide receiver. This is a 1-5 team that is probably going to win about 3-4 games this year and one that has already traded away two of its seven 2021 draft picks (we have five picks left). Even if by some miracle the Giants were able to win the NFC East with a 5-11 or 6-10 record, so what? You can’t rebuild a ball club by trading away picks, even low ones. How far away are the Giants from being a serious contender? Look no farther than the Junior Varsity 49ers beating the Giants 36-9 last month.

OK, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s look to the 1-4-1 Philadelphia Eagles. They are obviously struggling too. And like the Giants, they come into this game with a lot of injury issues. Statistically, the Eagles are better on offense than the Giants but worse on defense. On paper, this looks like a toss-up. But there’s that ugly, little sticking point: the Eagles own the Giants. They have won 12 of the last 13 games. And until proven otherwise, the Giants will continue to be their little bitches. It sucks. One of my son’s best friends is an Eagles’ fan. Do you think he wants to hear it from his friend again?

THE INJURY REPORT

  • RB Dion Lewis (hand – probable)
  • WR Darius Slayton (foot – probable)
  • WR C.J. Board (concussion – out)
  • LB Tae Crowder (hamstring – out – on Injured Reserve)
  • CB Darnay Holmes (neck – questionable)
  • S Adrian Colbert (shoulder – out)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE

    The curious decision by Joe Judge to carry four wide receivers is starting to impact the Giants. At one point last Sunday, the team was down to two healthy wideouts: the washed up Golden Tate (19 catches for 156 yards and no touchdowns) and undrafted rookie free agent Austin Mack who was playing in his first game (Mack finished with one catch for one yard). With below average journeyman C.J. Board out and Darius Slayton still battling a nagging foot injury, the Giants are on shaky ground here. Unless they activate Sterling Shepard from IR, they obviously need to bring up another body from the Practice Squad such as Binjimen Victor, Alex Bachman, or Derrick Dillon. Needless to say, even a mediocre Eagles defense is not trembling in their sneakers.

    As I expected and predicted last week, the Giants featured the ground game as New York ran the ball more than they passed. This includes Daniel Jones, who has now become a viable weapons with his feet. Opponent game plans are obvious, don’t let Slayton or Evan Engram beat you. Once again, I would think the Giants go into this game on Thursday with a heavy emphasis on the ground attack. Not only has it been easier to run on the Eagles than throwing (just like the Redskins), but by doing so, the coaching staff protects the weapon-deprived Daniel Jones and the still-evolving offensive line. It’s boring. It is isn’t conducive to scoring a lot of points (see last Sunday). But in a game that will probably be decided by the turnover margin (again, like the game against the Redskins), it’s probably the smart choice.

    Say what you will about the Eagles’ defense (12th against the pass, 21st against the run), they are still well-coached and are filled with players who are simply used to owning the New York Giants, especially up front at the line of scrimmage. If Joe Judge and Jason Garrett are going to turn this “rivalry” around, then it must come up front. Judge says the Giants will continue to rotate at offensive tackle, with Andrew Thomas, Matt Peart, and Cam Fleming all receiving playing time. The Giants need a strong game from the interior trio against old nemesis Fletcher Cox and company.

    Run the football. Keep down-and-distance situations manageable. Don’t do anything stupid.  In a low-scoring game, punting and winning the field position battle are often the right choice.

    NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

    Patrick Graham is doing a darn good job given the issues the Giants have at edge rusher and in the secondary. The one glaring exception to that is the continued inability to play respectable defense at the end of both halves of each game. That has bitten the team in the ass repeatedly this year, costing them games and almost costing them their first win. They have to clean that up. It’s becoming a mental thing.

    The problem that Graham is facing now is that the linebacking position has taken a big hit. In a matter of a couple of weeks, they have lost Lorenzo Carter (starter who was playing better), Oshane Ximines (who was starting over Markus Golden), and Tae Crowder (a new starter who won the game last week). Yes, the Giants are still getting good linebacker play out of Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell, but to lose three starters at one position is a hit that even good teams can ill-afford. The loss of Crowder stands out in this contest as he is the type of mobile, athletic linebacker the Giants have lacked in their match-up with Eagles’ tight ends and running backs in coverage.

    Darnay Holmes also dealing with a neck injury has also complicated matters. Last week, the Giants were forced to shift Logan Ryan inside to corner and play Julian Love, who had been benched, at safety. The good news is that Ryan Lewis appears to have settled down the corner spot opposite of James Bradberry somewhat. Still, this is a very shallow group that simply cannot afford another injury.

    The Eagles are really beat up on the offensive side of the football. Some of their key injured players will play, but some important ones who have killed the Giants in the past such as tight end Zach Ertz and running back Miles Sanders will not. Nevertheless, it always seems like some no-name player on the Eagles makes a name for himself on national television against the Giants. Again, if Judge wants to turn this “rivalry” around, that shit has to stop.

    The Eagles are 27th in offense (26th in passing, 13th in rushing). Stating the obvious, stop the run. Make Carson Wentz and his injured receiving corps beat you. Control the line of scrimmage against an offensive line that has also been dealing with injury issues and struggling. This is the time for the big boys up front to earn their paychecks. Most importantly, with the game on the line late in the halves, stop the other team!

    One final note, I hope the defense keeps an eye on quarterback Jalen Hurts. He can be used in a variety of ways on trick plays.

    NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

    If the Giants are going to win this game, I think they have to win the turnover battle and I think they have to make an impact play on special teams. And this would be typical of a Giants-Eagles game. Now would be an opportune time for a blocked kick.

    FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

    Head Coach Joe Judge on Carson Wentz and the Eagles’ offense: “It all goes through No. 11 for them right there. He’s a big armed quarterback, can make any throw he needs to on the field, so you have to defend the entire field. What that does is that opens up the deep balls with guys like (DeSean) Jackson coming back this week and Alshon (Jeffery – late note: Jefferey won’t play). It also opens up the tight ends underneath and the running backs. They’re great catch-and-run running backs. You can create a screen or a check down for these guys… I think Carson’s doing a really good job. I think when he runs the ball, he’s a big, physical, tough guy. He can extend plays. You can’t just tackle this guy like any quarterback. You have to treat him like a running back in the open space. You have to wrap him up and get him on the ground. This guy runs physical. You watch that run against Baltimore last week, he’s not looking to get out of bounds. He’s looking to extend it vertically and gain as many yards as he can. This guy is a good quarterback.”

    THE FINAL WORD

    The Eagles may be struggling, but if you watched them against the Ravens last week, you see there is no quit in that team. They are one of the very best coached teams in the game on offense, defense, and special teams. And probably most importantly, they expect to beat the Giants. Why wouldn’t they?

    I wrote this last week: “If the Giants beat Washington and go on to win several more game this year, that will be a positive step in the right direction. But if this is another case of a meaningless, temporary feel-good win against a bad Washington team followed by loss-loss-loss-loss, then it won’t mean much.”

    What will it be New York?

    Oct 202020
     
    Share Button
    James Bradberry, New York Giants (October 18, 2020)

    James Bradberry – © USA TODAY Sports

    New York Giants 20 – Washington Football Team 19

    QUICK RECAP

    Since the 2017 season, the Washington Football Team and New York Giants have hung out together at the bottom of the NFC East standings. They’ve both undergone coaching and front office regime changes, they both drafted a new first-round quarterback in 2019, and they both rank in the bottom 3 among all offenses in the league. The similarities go on, but the point is these two historic franchises have been the bottom feeders of the NFC East for quite some time now and 2020 appears to be no different.

    Kyle Allen, who played under Head Coach Ron Rivera and Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner in 2019 in Carolina, started under center for the second week in a row. Dwayne Haskins was benched, as rumors are now surfacing he has not been putting in the time to learn the scheme on his own. Since he was demoted, Haskins has apparently been coping with a non-Covid 19 sickness, keeping him away from the team at all costs. Now there are trade rumors circulating among people I trust.

    On to the game, though. Allen led WAS on a 12-play drive that put them in field goal range. Kicker Dustin Hopkins, whom has never missed a field goal attempt against NYG in his 14 tries dating back to 2015, missed the 47-yarder. This gave NYG the initial field position advantage and it took them just one play to pass midfield. They gained 50 combined yards on their first 5 plays, putting them in the red zone. From there, two of their next three plays combined for -7 yards and it made the home team settle on a Graham Gano 33-yard field goal.

    Momentum remained on the NYG side, as Allen threw an interception to James Bradberry on the second play of the next drive, giving NYG the ball at the WAS 27-yard line. Three plays later Daniel Jones hit Darius Slayton on a beautifully-thrown ball in the end zone for the game’s first touchdown. NYG was up 10-0 as the first quarter expired. It was the second game in a row NYG had a double-digit lead in the first quarter.

    Both WAS and NYG got into the red zone on their next respective drives but couldn’t punch it in. They traded field goals to make the score 13-3. WAS then went on its second longest drive of the day, 13 plays, that netted 70 total yards. NYG had them stopped but a running into the kicker penalty on their punt from midfield encouraged River Boat Ron to opt for a 4th-and-4 attempt. They converted and 5 plays later Allen found tight end and former Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas for a 5-yard touchdown. That was the end of the half and NYG held a 13-10 lead. This was the first lead NYG had at halftime since they faced WAS on December 22, 2019. Teams that have a lead at halftime win 80% of the time.

    The two teams traded scoreless possessions to begin the 3rd quarter. On the Giants second drive, their offense was really clicking. They made it 73 yards via 14 plays, 9 of which were handoffs to Devonta Freeman. They were spreading the ball out, using misdirection, and the offensive line was controlling a very solid WAS defensive front. On 1st-and-goal from the WAS 7-yard line, Jones was pressured by 2020 #2 overall pick Chase Young. He couldn’t step into his throw as he tried to get it out and beyond the end zone on a throw-away attempt. Kendall Fuller intercepted the pass. Rather than NYG putting 7 more points on the board, they came away with 0. Three possessions in the red zone and they had just 6 points to show for it.

    WAS began the fourth quarter with another long drive, this one being 14 plays long. The bend-don’t-break NYG defense allowed them to march down the field little by little and all the way to the 10-yard line. But they were able to stop them on third down, a rarity in this game, to hold them to 3 points. It was tied up at 13 and NYG and was searching for a big play. Their offense just wasn’t able to put things together well enough after their quick 10 points to start off the game. Jones had a couple of bad throws that led to a punt and all of the sudden WAS had the ball in their hands with the game tied.

    As they breached midfield, the Giants defense sent an aggressive blitz on 3rd-and-9. Kyler Fackrell got to Allen and jarred the ball loose. Rookie linebacker Tae Crowder scooped it up and scampered into the end zone. The big play this team was in desperate need of came from the unlikeliest of sources and NYG had the commanding 7-point lead with just over 3 minutes left.

    WAS then took the ball and continued to chip away at the Giants defense steadily but with assurance. They gained yards on 6 straight plays, which put them at the NYG 22-yard line with 0:46 on the clock. Allen then hit Cam Sims on a nicely thrown ball up the left sideline over the hands of Logan Ryan for the touchdown. They were an extra point away from a tie with 0:36 left. River Boat Ron quickly decided to use their momentum and go for 2. All or nothing. Win or lose. No ties, no overtime. Allen took the snap and too-quickly evaded the pocket, cutting the field in half for the NYG defense. His targets were vastly outnumbered and with an angry Dexter Lawrence closing in, he aimlessly chucked it into the end zone with nobody near it. NYG took the ball back after the onside kick recovery by Ryan and that was it.

    NYG wins 20-19.

    QUARTERBACK

    -Daniel Jones: 12-19 / 112 yards / 1 TD – 1 INT

    Jones also added 74 yards on the ground via 7 carries, including a long of 49 on a designed run. It is a rarity to see a team run the ball more than pass, but that is exactly what happened in this one. His 19 attempts were the fewest of his career over his 18 starts. In fact, he had never attempted less than 31 passes in a game prior to this. The last time NYG threw the ball under 20 times was 2018 in a 38-35 win over TB. Jones started the game off nice and clean. He was 11-for-13 but after Darius Slayton went down, he finished 1-for-6 and an interception. The interception was a costly one. Had NYG not won, this would have been the focal point. You can’t throw an interception on 1st-and-goal from the 7-yard line in a tight game. One can make the argument it “wasn’t his fault” yet again because he got pressured, but from my eyes, he needs to be quicker with the decision when you know the blocking scheme is going to put a tight end on Chase Young. Jones played well enough to win, he looked outstanding on the ground, and he played tough.

    RUNNING BACK

    -Devonta Freeman: 18 att / 61 yards and 1 rec / -4 yards

    No other running back carried the ball so it is safe to say Freeman is now the “Bell-Cow” on this team for the rest of the year unless someone trades for him. Freeman is showing his old-school, aggressive downhill style that we saw when he was with Atlanta. He gets north in a hurry and can show the occasional jump cut that makes defenders miss. His blocking has also been very good. Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman were on the field for a combined 13 plays and they touched the ball a combined one time.

    WIDE RECEIVER

    -Darius Slayton: 2 rec / 41 yards / 1 TD

    -Good to see Slayton make a couple of big plays, the standout being a 23-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He aggravated an ankle injury on that play but was able to jog off the field. Later on, he went down again and didn’t get back up until the NYG medical staff came out to assist him. At the time of this writing, my guess is he may miss some time. It is pretty easy to see this offense without him out there, in particular the passing game, really struggles. No other wide receiver scares the opposition half as much as he does.

    -Golden Tate had a catch for 11 yards and C.J. Board brought one in for 8 yards. Austin Mack caught his first career ball for 1 yard, and that was it for the NYG receivers. One cannot expect a lot of production in a game where they throw the ball 19 times but the issue remains, this group of receivers may be one of the worst 5 in the league. And that is being kind. Sterling Shepard likely won’t return until November.

    *Board was taken off the field on a stretcher with a concussion and was released from the hospital Monday.

    TIGHT END

    -Evan Engram was targeted just 3 times. He caught 2 of them for 30 yards. He was covered pretty well by the WAS defense. From my perspective, it looked like he was the focal point of their pass defense. He saw a lot of bracket coverage. I expect teams to replicate that coming up. The Giants seemed to keep him off the field on running plays more than what we have seen this year.

    -Kaden Smith led the team with 3 catches. They combined for just 15 yards. Smith was brought here for his blocking prowess and he really has done a poor job there. He allowed a pressure that led to the WAS interception and he allowed a TFL.

    OFFENSIVE LINE

    -The story of the day was Andrew Thomas being benched for being late to a team meeting. A one-time occurrence isn’t anything to freak out about. All signs have pointed toward Thomas being a good kid who has maturity beyond his years. With that said, extra eyes are on him now. He allowed 1 TFL and 1 pressure. Overall his performance on the field, which was about 50% of the snaps, was average. He got good push in the run game and he was really hustling down the field. His pass protection sets still look inconsistent, however.

    -As much as that may have frustrated some, the good news is that rookie 3rd ounder Matt Peart stepped in as the starter at left tackle. He played about half of the game and looked really solid. More on the comparison between Thomas and him below in my closing thoughts but tp be blunt, he proved he should be starting on this line. I predicted mid-season would be that starting point. It may be sooner.

    -Cameron Fleming allowed a TFL, sack, and pressure. He was the weak point in this one and continues to be someone we would much rather see as the swing tackle, not a starter. He doesn’t adjust well, he doesn’t recover well.

    -Kevin Zeitler and Will Hernandez were up and down. Zeitler allowed 2 TFLs and Hernandez allowed 1 in addition to a pressure. I’ve said this a few times but as long as I keep seeing it, it will keep showing up in the review. Apologies if it seems repetitive: Zeitler looks close to being done. No knee bend, no sustaining with his hands, too many recovery steps to keep himself upright.

    -Nick Gates at center is growing on me. He is the one offensive lineman who is getting better each week and that is really important. Do I think he is the answer long term? Not yet. But when you have a guy who proves himself at multiple positions over multiple years, that is huge for the long-term planning and spending. His growth has been a big reason why this NYG running game actually looks pro-caliber after a few nightmarish weeks.

    EDGE

    -The first game without Lorenzo Carter went as expected. Nobody stepped up. Markus Golden was on the field for 24 plays. He broke up a pass and hit the quarterback one time. He was single-teamed on nearly every one of his pass rush attempts and didn’t make a sound.

    -Rookies Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin were on the field for 5 and 3 plays, respectively. It is hard to get a true evaluation with so little action but Brown’s tool set, as expected, stands out. I think we are going to see a lot of him over the second half of the season.

    DEFENSIVE TACKLE

    -Because NYG is so deep at this spot, they can somewhat afford to get away with keeping pure edge guys out of the game plan. Dalvin Tomlinson was all over the field. He finished with 8 tackles, 1 TFL, and a pressure. It isn’t common to see a guy in the middle get involved in so much action, especially one who sees so many double teams against the run. Really solid gamer for him.

    -Leonard Williams also had an impressive game with a little but more visible impact. He had 5 tackles, a sack, and 1 pressure. There is some hit-and-miss in his game against the run, which is something I have noticed frequently this year. That may be scheme based, as they send him on a lot of slants post-snap. It can cause him to get ridden out into space, creating big lanes that NYG doesn’t have the linebackers to fill outside of Blake Martinez.

    -Dexter Lawrence had 3 tackles and a pressure. Not much to say about him besides the fact he is continuing to show reliability against the run and an occasional flash of athleticism as a pass rusher. B.J. Hill added a pressure and seems to be getting more and more playing time. That may be part of their plan to help offset the pass rush woes coming from the outside.

    LINEBACKER

    -Kyler Fackrell is really hitting his stride with the club. He was on the field for every snap, moving all over the place schematically. He had 3 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble that led to a touchdown, and 3 pressures. He was their top pass rusher, as they sent him from all angles. He is a physical, hard-nosed enforcer. That mentality did net a personal foul penalty on a blow to the head of Logan Thomas, but I like what he brings to the table.

    -Blake Martinez led the team with 14 tackles while adding a pressure. It looks like the spot next to him may be filled for good. Tae Crowder added 10 tackles and a fumble recovery that he brought all the way back for a touchdown. David Mayo returned from IR and Crowder out-snapped him 62-11. He brings a different level of speed and twitch and he should evolve into a better player in the coming weeks. This is his job for the taking and if he keeps playing like this while cleaning up space-tackling issues (2 misses), Mayo will be the backup.

    -This is the best LB core we have had in awhile. Props to the front office, gotta give Gettleman credit where it is due.

    CORNERBACK

    -James Bradberry and Ryan Lewis played a fantastic duo game at cornerback. Each had 3 tackles with Bradberry bringing in an interception. He nearly had a second one, but he landed out of bounds with the ball. Lewis added a nice pass break up and was excellent in downfield coverage. These two really controlled the outside passing lanes.

    -Logan Ryan had a really up and down game. He had a bad missed tackle, a really big-time pass break up in the end zone, and then gave up the WAS touchdown that nearly tied it up. Overall, he remains a key cog and leader of this defense but there are occasional plays that leave me wondering if there were concentration and discipline issues that led to him not being signed in free agency until really late. His versatility does help a lot, however. When a safety goes down, he steps in. When a corner goes down, he steps in. He had 8 tackles and a sack in addition.

    -Darnay Holmes only played 3 snaps before injuring his shoulder/neck area. At the time of this writing, his status is unknown.

    SAFETY

    -Jabrill Peppers was back to a full-time snap load, as was Julian Love. Love is the one who may have saw a boost in playing time as a result of the Holmes injury. Peppers had 6 tackles including a couple of nice range-plays against the run. Love had 3 tackles and a missed tackle.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    -K Graham Gano: 2/2 (Made 33, 20). His elite season continues.

    -P Riley Dixon: 2 Punts – 35.0 avg / 34.0 net

    3 STUDS

    -LB Kyler Fackrell, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, CB James Bradberry

    3 DUDS

    -OG Kevin Zeitler, WR Golden Tate, EDGE Markus Golden

    3 THOUGHTS ON WAS

    1. Funny how things work in today’s NFL both with the media and fans. After WAS beat PHI week 1, everyone and their mother claimed that WAS had arrived and they were the favorite in the division. This happens every year and it is simply laughable at this point. How come there is such a strong desire to make definitive statements about things that lack definitive information? Just a month later, WAS has benched their 2019 1st-round quarterback, they haven’t won another game, and their young up-and-coming talent is no longer up-and-coming. This WAS football stinks, plain and simple.
    1. The Giants need more talent on the defensive edge. That is no secret or new information, I know. One would assume that more draft resources need to be put there, but no real issue is simply solved with personnel alone. Washington has more 1st round talent along their DL than any team in the league. Chase Young (#2 overall), Montez Sweat (#26 overall), Ryan Kerrigan (#16 overall), Jonathan Allen (#17 overall), and Da’Ron Payne (#13 overall). All that talent and WAS is dead last in the league in QB knockdowns and 20th in pressure percentage. Those are all quality players, too. Not one of them can be considered a bust. It takes so much to get these NYG pass rush woes moving in the right direction, they need to get it going. One positive is that the blitzing schemes seem to be working well.
    1. Where does WAS stand now? 2020 will be a wash in my opinion but this NFC East will leave a lot of doors open. Is Dwayne Haskins (a product of the previous regime) really done there? What are they going to do at receiver/tight end? It seems they have an OK young guy in Terry McLaurin but continue to falter with middle/late round picks behind him. I think WAS is heading toward a 3-4 win season and will be heavily in the QB/WR market in the 2021 draft.

    3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

    1. In regard to the two young tackles on this offense, I’m not concerned like some are. I don’t see Thomas being another Flowers; meaning he won’t falter here because of immaturity. I am actually on the other side of the boat. The play of Matt Peart further strengthened the notion I had at the start of the season. Thomas/Peart are likely the long-term future at the tackle spots and that will be a very good thing. The difference between the two was obvious. Thomas has more power, twitch, and sheer ability. Peart does a much better job at staying within himself and trusting his technique. Both are big and powerful but playing tackle in this league is so hard. They will need this season to take their lumps, but I feel good about what they have here in regard to the long-term future. And the tackle positions, economically, are very expensive. If they can get away with quality play with these guys on a rookie deal while their QB is on a rookie deal, watch out in free agency in the coming year or two or three.
    1. I am really looking forward to the game against PHI coming up. It is going to be a very telling game for a couple reasons. One, how does the Joe Judge regime of NYG football respond to a win? The best teams become hungrier. They got the taste of a win and it makes them want it more. They lost 5 games and that can weigh on you throughout a week. All of the sudden, with a win, the energy in the building is different. Confidence in sports means more than most people understand. The second thing I am looking forward to is watching this regime on short rest. NYG has struggled in that department for years and I strongly believe this is where coaching means a ton. The best teams in the league have done well on short rest. Huge test for Judge in a very winnable game.
    1. Did anyone catch how happy the NYG players were for Joe Judge when Daniel Jones gave him the ball in the locker room after his first win? That wasn’t fake. These players love Judge and respect him and play hard for him. I don’t think I’ve seen this much spirited play since Tom Coughlin was here. And the genuine excitement these guys had for Judge was telling. They talked about culture change, as does pretty much every head coach when at the introductory press conference, but very few put that into practice.
    Oct 162020
     
    Share Button
    Kaden Smith, New York Giants (December 22, 2019)

    Kaden Smith – © USA TODAY Sports

    Game Preview: Washington Football Team at New York Giants, October 18, 2020

    THE STORYLINE

    My formative years as a New York Giants fan was during the Bill Parcells-Joe Gibbs era during the 1980s. Big Blue Wrecking Crew versus the Hogs. Three hours of punch-you-in-the-face war between two physical teams who respected but despised each other. I was a nervous wreck before each game because each game between these two teams was immensely meaningful. Many of these games became legendary.

    Fast forward to October 2020. The 0-5 Giants host 1-4 Washington on Sunday. And I feel nothing. I’m rooting for the Giants to win, but I’m not even sure what’s best for the team in the long term at this point. Sy’56 and I are almost always on the same page, but we were not last year when the Giants and Washington played each other on December 22, 2019 in the “Chase Young Bowl.” Sy felt it was important for the Giants to start develop a winning culture. I wanted Chase Young. On Sunday, we’ll be constantly reminded of that “what might have been” scenario with both Young and Andrew Thomas on the field together.

    If Joe Judge is survive and thrive as head coach of the New York Giants, he has to start winning games. This is what Sy was talking about last year when he was addressing developing a winning culture. If the Giants beat Washington and go on to win several more game this year, that will be a positive step in the right direction. But if this is another case of a meaningless, temporary feel-good win against a bad Washington team followed by loss-loss-loss-loss, then it won’t mean much.

    THE INJURY REPORT

    • WR Darius Slayton (foot – questionable)
    • DL Dexter Lawrence (knee – questionable)
    • LB Kyler Fackrell (ankle – probable)
    • S Jabrill Peppers (ankle – probable)
    • S Adrian Colbert (shoulder – questionable)

    NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE

      As I predicted in last week’s game preview, the bad Giants offense performed better against the bad Cowboys defense, but it was not productive enough. The defense scored one touchdown and set up another inside the 20-yard line. And the offense handed the Cowboys one defensive score and could not move the ball with the game tied late in the game.

      The good news that came out of that game is the running game showed some life, as did Darius Slayton. The bad news was continued issues with Daniel Jones, both tackles, Evan Engram, and the lack of any production from the other wide receivers. Other than the team not winning, my problem with watching the Giants offense right now is I know that many of the players we are watching won’t be on the team in 2020. Evan Engram is due for a monster game, but so what? He’s not the answer for this team. I can’t imagine Golden Tate being back. Or Devonta Freeman. Again, if they look good, so what? They’ll be on other teams next year.

      As I wrote about last week, all of my attention is on Daniel Jones, Darius Slayton, and the offensive line. You can also now add Austin Mack to this list (for at least this week). But the lack of complementary talent is negatively impacting these players. And I now feel it’s just a matter of time before Matt Peart replaces Cam Fleming at right tackle and Shane Lemieux replaces Kevin Zeitler at right guard. Will this happen before or after the bye? The sooner this is done, the better. Endure the pain this year, minimize it next year.

      Washington isn’t a good football team, but they can present problems with their defense. Joe Judge provided a good scouting report:

      It really starts up front with the edge players and the interior. They have a number of first round draft picks on their line… That, complemented by their corners and their play-making safeties, really gives them fits for opposing offenses. They do a good job producing pressure up front and capitalizing on the opportunities produced from up front. This is a team that can get after you with just the front four. They can bring pressure, they do a really good job with their movement schemes, and they change up throughout the game. (Defensive Coordinator Jack) Del Rio does a really good job with (Head Coach) Ron (Rivera) as far as scheming for the opponent, changing up. The other thing they do is they really keep it simple for their players to play fast and play ahead.

      Andrew Thomas has had two rough outings in a row. Offensive Line Coach Marc Colombo sounded sincerely confident in Thomas’ future this week. This will be another good test for him. But the entire offensive line will be under the gun. First-round picks Montez Sweat (3 sacks) and Chase Young (2.5 sacks) are disruptive and can get after the quarterback. Both starting defensive tackles – Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne – were also drafted in the first round. How deep are they? Former 1st-round pick and Giants-killer Ryan Kerrigan is now a back-up. Middle linebacker Jon Bostic is once again leading the team in tackles (42).

      Nevertheless, Washington has surprisingly been better against the pass (7th in the NFL) than the run (23rd in the NFL). This, combined with the Giants’ lack of play-makers and issues in pass protection, would suggest the Giants more heavily focus on the ground game in this contest. Personally, I would keep it boring and run a lot, sprinkling in passes to the backs and tight ends. Minimize the chances for turnovers. When throwing the football, former Giant safety Landon Collins can be exposed in coverage.

      NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

      While the Giants defense directly contributed to points on the scoreboard against Dallas, they also came up small again in the crunch. This has been an ongoing problem for the Giants under multiple head coaches and defensive coordinators for years. The defense can’t seem to hold late in the 2nd and 4th quarters. Obviously, this is tied to long-standing pass rush and pass coverage problems. Personally, I was expecting the Giants defense to give an injury-ravaged Cowboys offensive line more problems (though to be fair, Dallas has been the top offense despite offensive line issues all year). If this defense is going to reach the next level, Dalvin Tomlinson, Dexter Lawrence, and Leonard Williams have to become more than “solid” and make game-changing plays.

      The defense and long-term planning took another hit when Lorenzo Carter suffered a ruptured Achilles’ tendon last weekend. Carter was never going to become a difference-maker, but it was possible for him to develop into a complementary piece. Now his future is up in the air. With Oshane Ximines also now on IR, the Giants will be giving playing time to another guy who probably won’t be with the team next year, Markus Golden. Personally, I’m hoping we’ll see the young guys such as Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin (if activated) steal some snaps. Again, my focus is more on 2021 at this point than beating Washington. Kyler Fackrell will undoubtedly receive more snaps outside, though he is dealing with an ankle issue.

      Ryan Lewis is not the answer at corner, but he settled down the position last week. Madre Harper still lurks in the wings at cornerback too. More troubling, as Sy pointed out, is that Julian Love seems to have fallen out of favor (the Giants need to start hitting on these draft picks or they will never get better… so much for the three defensive backs drafted in 2019). In addition, Jabrill Peppers is still hampered by injury and not making much of an impact. Adrian Colbert hurt the team last week. The loss of Xavier McKinney really looms large (even if he returns, he’ll have a ton of rust on him). To cut to the chase, safety was supposed to be a strength but has become a weakness again.

      Like the Giants, Washington has struggled mightily on offense. They are dead last in yards per game and 30th in scoring. Washington is a bit of a mess at quarterback. Dwayne Haskins was benched. Kyle Allen, who was with Ron Rivera in Carolina, started last week but left the game with an injury. He’s expected to return to the line-up this week. Wideout Terry McLaurin is the only real threat Washington has and I would suggest the Giants keep James Bradberry on him. Other than that, Washington throws more to their backs (Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic). As Joe Judge pointed out this week, they are very good at the screen game.

      Washington can’t run the football (31st in the NFL… ironically, the Giants are 32nd). There is no excuse for the defensive front of NYG to not shut down the running game. When Washington is in obvious passing situations, I would put my more athletic linebackers on the field to deal with the passes to the running backs. This could be an important game for rookies Tae Crowder and Cam Brown.

      NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

      I called it. The Giants knew they would have to score points last week and ran a fake field goal for what should have been a touchdown. I am pretty darn sure we’ll see a fake punt soon. Graham Gano has been fantastic. What we need now too is a big return.

      FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

      Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham on defensive breakdowns at the end of the first half and the end of the game: “I have to get better. I have to call it better, I have to put the guys in a better spot. Is it keeping me up at night? Yeah, it keeps me up a night, I have to figure it out. It’s Week 5 going to Week 6, I have to figure it out.”

      THE FINAL WORD

      Two bad football teams with two bottom tier offenses that lack talent. This will likely be a low scoring game with the team making fewer turnovers and more plays on special teams wins the game. It will be one of those ugly games where even winning won’t feel particularly good.

      Oct 132020
       
      Share Button
      Daniel Jones, New York Giants (October 11, 2020)

      Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

      Dallas Cowboys 37 – New York Giants 34

      QUICK RECAP

      Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was back in Dallas facing off against his former employer of 13 years, 9 of which were spent as the Head Coach. The Cowboys offense came into the game leading the NFL in points scored. The Giants offense came into the game ranked 30th in points scored. As bad the NYG season has looked to this point, they were still very much alive in the divisional race. Not one team in it had more than a win and all three rivals had significant roster issues.

      The Giants jumped out to an early 7-3 lead on an Evan Engram reverse that looked broken at the start. Remember, NYG tried a similar play two weeks ago against the Niners that resulted in a turnover. This time, Daniel Jones’ pitch was accurate, Engram evaded an Everson Griffen tackle, and dashed downhill into the end zone. This was the first touchdown in 21 offensive drives and it was the first time NYG had a lead since the first half against Pittsburgh on September 13. On the third play of the ensuing drive, Dak Prescott threw an interception to Kyler Fackrell. Fackrell came out of Utah State in 2016 known for his plus-athletic ability combined with a 6’5” / 245 pound frame. A player at that position doesn’t always get a chance to put on display his long speed plus agility with the ball in his hands but Fackrell took full advantage of the opportunity. He scampered his way to a 46-yard touchdown looking like a tight end who may have been playing his pro career on the wrong side of the ball. Not really, but it was an overly impressive play by Fackrell that put NYG up 14-3.

      The Giants defense forced a three-and-out and took the ball back downfield via a balanced offensive attack. The running game found a constant positive flow for the first time of the 2020 season as they attacked a porous DAL defensive front. Graham Gano nailed a 55-yard field goal through the upright and it was 17-3 with most of the second quarter left to play. DAL then put together a 14-play, 75-yard drive that ended in an Ezekiel Elliott 1-yard touchdown. The Giants were still up by 7 and their offense was finding a flow. This was yet another test for Jones and this young NYG team. The response? On the fourth play of the drive, rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas allowed a sack to Demarcus Lawrence that jarred the ball loose out of Jones’ hands. DAL cornerback Anthony Brown scooped it up and scored a touchdown to tie the game up at 17-17. Jones’ 22nd fumble in in his 17th game. His record-setting rate continues to lengthen.

      NYG responded with a march down the field on a drive that lasted 9 plays. Head Coach Joe Judge, who has a special teams background, had some tricks up his sleeve. As the NYG field goal unit marched onto the field, Engram stopped his retreat to the sideline by just a few yards. The DAL defense did not see him out there and holder Riley Dixon took notice. He rushed the snap, threw it up to Engram, and NYG had another touchdown on the board. Unfortunately, the flag came out as a result of an illegal shift penalty, as Cameron Fleming was not set in his stance. Had Dixon waited one more second to call for the snap, NYG would have went up by 7. Instead, Gano was forced into another 50-yard attempt in which he nailed through the uprights. DAL had just 51 seconds left but they only needed 35 of them. Two chunk pass plays from Prescott to rookie CeeDee Lamb and a trick play of their own resulted in the third DAL touchdown of the quarter. This one was a “Philly Special” as wide receiver Cedrick Wilson threw a perfect pass to Prescott for the 11-yard score. DAL was up 24-20 at halftime.

      NYG opened the second half with a quality drive, but the frustration only grew. After two successful third down conversions, Jones hit Darius Slayton on a 3rd-and-6 deep ball that resulted in a touchdown. However, a questionable offensive pass interference was called on Damion Ratley at the line of scrimmage. Instead of the touchdown, NYG was moved back to the DAL 41-yard line and their 3rd-and-16 attempt failed. They were forced to punt, but DAL left 12 men on the field which moved NYG up 5 yards, enough to put Gano on the field for yet another 50+ yard attempt. He nailed it making him the first NYG kicker ever to hit three 50+ yarders in the same game. NYG was down by 1.

      The DAL offense marched down the field again, but this drive came with a price. Prescott was tackled by Logan Ryan in a way that ended up causing a compound fracture to his right ankle. It was as gruesome as it sounded. Prescott was taken off on the cart in tears, not knowing if that would be the last time he would wear the DAL uniform. He was playing under the franchise tag and the debate surrounding whether or not he would be given a long term deal has been discussed for years now. Andy Dalton, the 9-year starter signed from Cincinnati came into the game to try and finish off the drive. DAL still scored a touchdown, this one a 12-yard run by Elliott. The home team went up 31-23.

      The two offenses traded three-and-outs as the third quarter came to an end. NYG’s opening play of the fourth quarter was a 39-yard gain on a pass from Jones to Slayton. However, their losing tendencies appeared on the next play as they were forced to use their second timeout. They were late out of the huddle in addition to an alignment miscommunication between Jones and Golden Tate. They ended up putting another 3 points on the board via another field goal by Gano, this one from 28 yards, to make the score 31-26.

      On the first play of the next DAL drive, rookie center Tyler Biadasz and the second-string quarterback Dalton mishandled the snap and it was recovered by Blake Martinez. NYG began their drive on the DAL 17-yard line and it took just 5 plays to get in the end zone via a Devonta Freeman 4-yard power run. Jones then found tackle Andrew Thomas in the end zone on a trick two-point conversion play. NYG now had a 34-31 lead against an offense that was missing three starting offensive linemen and their starting quarterback.

      DAL rode on the backs of Elliott and backup Tony Pollard with help from a 15-yard facemask penalty by Markus Golden and a badly missed tackle by rookie cornerback Darnay Holmes to get into field goal range. Greg Zuerlein hit a 40-yarder to tie the game up. Jones and the Giants offense had their shot to win this game.

      They gained 15 yards on 5 plays including a near-interception and were forced to punt and the Cowboys got the ball back with 52 seconds left. Those 52 seconds were all DAL needed, an offense playing with an offensive line that was mostly made up of backups. Consecutive completions to Michael Gallup that highlighted his top-tier ball skills and playmaking potential both warranted reviews. Both catches that combined for 57 yards were upheld, putting DAL in easy field goal range. Zuerlein barely put one through the uprights from 34 yards as time expired.

      NYG loses, 37-34.

      QUARTERBACK

      Daniel Jones: 20-33 / 222 yards / 0 TD-0 INT / 80.6 RAT

      Start number 17 for Jones. Loss number 15. Fumble number 22. I sound like a broken record with my talk about the turnovers, fumbles in particular, but this cannot go on at this rate. We are giving Jones this season to trek through the peaks and valleys, but we need to see progression, not regression. It is that simple. Right now, Jones is not progressing, and he is turning the ball over at a record rate. There isn’t much else to say about this game. He did make a couple of nice throws, but he continues to show too much hesitation especially when he steps up in the pocket.

      RUNNING BACK

      Devonta Freeman: 17 att-60 yards / 1 TD / 2 rec-27 yards

      -In Freeman’s third week with the team, in fact his third week on any NFL team without any preseason action, we saw a glimpse of some of his former pop in Atlanta. We knew it would take a few games for him to catch up to speed, and here we are. Freeman only averaged 3.5 yards per carry but I thought he ran really well. He showed two jump cuts in traffic that we hadn’t seen yet and that is a sign to me that his legs are under him and the confidence is back. I think it is possible we see a small trade market for him in the coming weeks if a contender loses their top back.

      -Wayne Gallman rushed for 24 yards on 5 carries, averaging a team high 4.8 yards per. He broke tackles on 4 of his carries and continues to show consistent ability as a complimentary back. I think his upside is tapped out but he can get the job done in this role and seems to always be close to breaking a long one.

      WIDE RECEIVER

      -Darius Slayton: 8 rec / 129 yards

      Slayton also had a 31-yard touchdown taken away by a questionable offensive pass interference call on Damion Ratley. It was a strong day for the Giants most talented receiver after a few poor games. His greatest trait, dating back to his days at Auburn, is found downfield when he tracks the deep ball. We need to see more deep shots to him. Slayton isn’t a guy who will strongly impact the game via slants and yards after catch. Send him downfield more often and see what happens.

      -Golden Tate was the only other wide receiver to catch a pass. He brought in 4 passes for 42 yards on 5 targets. The lack of receiver depth on this team is scary-bad in an era where dozens of quality receivers enter the league via the draft each year. The draft presents so much every year at this spot, yet NYG is starving for more talent there. I get the national scouting list every August for the upcoming draft database. Which position has the most talent? Wide receiver. The supply is more than the demand but NYG can’t find guys to make things happen when injuries arise.

      TIGHT END

      -Evan Engram was targeted 2 times and had 2 carries. It is hard to imagine what NYG has planned for him. I watch the Steelers rookie wide receiver (Chase Claypool) score 4 touchdowns and simply wonder “What if?” I bring that up because I brought up Engram’s name all over Claypool’s scouting report, as they had so many similarities in college when it came to their skillset and tools respectively. Claypool is a wide receiver who some were labeling a tight end during the pre-draft process. Engram is a tight end who some continue to label a wide receiver. We know Engram can’t routinely block in-line well enough, but any time he touches the ball, it’s hard not to imagine the possibilities he brings to the table. No matter where you stand with him, he can’t be targeted just twice in a high scoring game where you throw the ball 33 times.

      OFFENSIVE LINE

      -The rough stretch for rookie Andrew Thomas continues. He allowed 2 pressures and 2 sacks. He is now approaching the league lead in sacks allowed with incredibly difficult tests coming up against Washington and Philadelphia. It seems like Thomas has a tough test each week. You know what it is? Most teams have high quality pass rushers and if you want to succeed at tackle in this league, you have to be really, really good. Thomas is not that right now. He is overextending, he isn’t sustaining hand contact, and he losing the width of his base. It’s ugly.

      -Cameron Fleming was a disaster on the right side, allowing 3 pressures and a TFL. His clock is ticking as the starter.

      -Inside, the trio of Will Hernandez, Nick Gates, and Kevin Zeitler had their best game as a group. In the running game, they got more push than we’ve seen in any contest this year, albeit against a poor Dallas defensive front. Gates was flagged twice (one for a hold and once for a block in back) while Zeitler and Hernandez both allowed 1 pressure each. There seemed to be more lateral pulling of the guards which worked out well for the rushing attack. I expect to see more of that in coming games.

      EDGE

      -Lorenzo Carter suffered a season-ending Achilles’ injury on the initial drive. In what was perhaps a career-defining season, this was very unfortunate.

      -Markus Golden woke up for the first time in 2020. He had 3 tackles, a half-sack, and 2 pressures on a season-high 57 snaps. He will now be the feature edge guy with both Carter and Oshane Ximines out (Ximines may return from IR at some point). It is possible we start to see some Carter Coughlin on the edge and/or Cam Brown inside if they opt to move Fackrell to full-time starter outside.

      DEFENSIVE TACKLE

      -As stout as this defensive line can be at times, I was disappointed with their performance against a beat up DAL offensive line. Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams both lacked difference-making plays and came up short in key situations. Neither got any pressure on the passer either.

      -Dalvin Tomlinson was solid. He had 6 tackles, 2 TFL, and 1 sack. He really is a fine player who would be getting a lot more attention if this team was winning games. He lines up in multiple spots, has a lot of contact presence, and makes plays away from the ball often.

      LINEBACKER

      -Kyler Fackrell was the highlight of the defense in this one. He finished with 3 tackles, 1 TFL, and an interception that he returned for a touchdown. The athletic ability he showed on that play was big time and it made me think if he had some potential as a tight end back in the day. Obviously that isn’t a move you make now, but his speed and agility combined with that power and his frame just gave me that impression. Solid game for him that and he has the tool set to make a full time move to the spot vacated by Carter.

      -Blake Martinez has been lights out since signing with NYG. You can’t expect a good game every single week, thus this was his first negative grade. He finished with 7 tackles and did recover as fumble, but elsewhere he just gave up too much in the running game. He was also targeted in the middle of the field multiple times. DAL had a lot of success throwing at him.

      -Tae Crowder got the start and finished with 5 tackles, playing 74% of the snaps. With Carter out, I think we are going to see more of him as Fackrell will see more snaps at OLB. I expect to see some Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin as well. The only thing that could get in their way is the return of David Mayo, which is still up in the air.

      CORNERBACK

      -James Bradberry shut down Amari Cooper (2 rec / 23 yards) as well as anyone we’ve seen since Cooper was acquired via trade in 2018. Really good game by him when watching the All-22 angle. He was never fooled or off balance.

      -Darnay Holmes continues to play fast and physical. He had 3 tackles, 2 pass break ups, and a half-sack. As aggressive as he plays, he is still missing tackles that really hurts this defense. He needs to clean that up.

      -Ryan Lewis had an up and down game. He was beat by Michael Gallup late, which led to the DAL game-winning field goal, but he did an OK job in coverage. He simply got beat by a perfect throw and outstanding play on the ball by Gallup. Lewis was beat by Lamb a couple times but overall it was a solid game. He just seemed to get beat when it mattered most.

      SAFETY

      -Jabrill Peppers was back on the field after missing a game early with an ankle injury. His snaps were limited, playing just over a third of them. He ended with 5 tackles including 1 TFL. He was really active and explosive against the run and made some plays late to keep DAL from making gains outside.

      -Logan Ryan is a player you really appreciate if your team is winning. He does so many little things that other defensive backs do not. He led the team with 9 tackles and came up with a few really tough solo tackles on Elliott. He is smart, instinctive, and versatile.

      -Adrian Colbert started for Julian Love, but continued to give NYG lackluster play at that position, notably in coverage. He also added 2 personal foul penalties. Love appears to have fallen out of favor with this coaching staff rather quickly.

      SPECIAL TEAMS

      -K Graham Gano: 4/4 (Made 55, 50, 54, 28). Gano is now 13 for 14 on the year.

      -P Riley Dixon: 2 punts / 52.0 avg / 50.5 net

      3 STUDS

      -WR Darius Slayton, LB Kyler Fackrell, K Graham Gano

      3 DUDS

      -OT Andrew Thomas, OT Cameron Fleming, WR Damion Ratley

      3 THOUGHTS ON DALLAS

      1. It was really tough to see Dak Prescott to go down the way he did. Competitive advantage aside, you hate to see a guy like that in a year where he has had some documented off-field issues, go down the way he did. The question will be asked in the coming months: Is that the last time we see him in a Cowboys uniform? Initially my thought is he will be back on a one-year prove-it deal, but when you look at how big the QB market may be this upcoming offseason, someone may still offer him a multi-year deal.
      1. There may not be a team that has been bit by the injury bug harder than DAL. Three starting offensive linemen, a starting tight end, their best linebacker, a starting corner, a rotational LB, and both starting defensive tackles. Now they lose their starting quarterback? Ouch. Mike McCarthy will get a pass for whatever happens this season in his first year as their head coach. If they still end up winning some games, he will look like a genius.
      1. I’ve always been a fan of having a legit, quality backup quarterback behind the starter. As much as it hurts to lose Prescott, Dalton is going to keep this team on a similar level. Watch. He has 72 career wins (with CIN) including a 41-26 career record at home. Dalton never really regressed over his career. He simply just couldn’t seem to take the next step up to elevate players around him. However, he was never a guy who just couldn’t get it done. DAL will shift their offensive focus and overall plan a bit, but that side of the ball is still loaded with weapons.

      3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

      1. Let’s not give the Giants offense credit for putting up 34 points. 7 of them came from Kyler Fackrell’s interception and another touchdown scoring drive started at the DAL 17-yard line. This team still averaged 3.3 yards per carry (the worst rushing team in the NFL averages 3.5 per game). This team still averaged 6.7 yards per passing attempt (the 10th worst passing offense in the NFL averages 6.8 per game). This kind of production against a banged-up defense that had allowed the most points in the NFL is just awful.
      1. I will give the Giants coaching staff some credit for at least trying to get a little innovative, trying to create points from outside of the normal game plan. The flea flicker, the fake field goal attempt, the reverses to Engram, etc. It did not help them win but I do like the idea that these coaches will think outside the box. Remember, Joe Judge is 38 years old and has never been a head coach. This is a growing experience for him as well.
      1. The trade deadline is coming really fast and everyone knows how strongly I feel about the draft and doing it right. If there is a way to get extra picks (even if they are day three), this is the way to get them without selling your competitive integrity. There are three guys I would strongly consider trading who I also believe will have a market for their services. First is Engram. During the game, I again thought “if a real offensive mind got their hands on Engram he could be a monster.” (BUF?/ARI?/SF?) I feel strongly about that and if someone offers a 3rd- or 4th-round pick, I say pull the trigger. Second is Peppers. He is locked in for another year at a decent cap rate. If a defense can find a run-and-chase role for Peppers (BAL?/IND?/NE?), he can be an important role player. He isn’t someone you build a defense around or give too much to assignment wise, but he is a guy who brings energy and will make things happen on talent alone. You can hide his issues if you have a good defense around him. Lastly, I do think there is a market for Tomlinson. The question remains, however, if you want him here long term to build around. He won’t be a game-changer, but he is a really solid and reliable player. I bet someone offers a middle round pick for him. If NYG thinks they don’t want to add more money resources to the DL spot with Williams and Lawrence already here, I think a contender with DL issues could take him (KC?/LV?/DAL?).
      Oct 092020
       
      Share Button
      Daniel Jones, New York Giants (September 8, 2019)

      Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

      Game Preview: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, October 11, 2020

      THE STORYLINE

      In terms of overall talent and emotional mindset, the Dallas Cowboys are better positioned to win this game. But this is a winnable game for the Giants. While New York is 0-4 on the season, the Cowboys are only 1-3. Both have new coaching staffs and Dallas may have actually regressed in the coaching department (I think the loss of Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli was huge).

      We have two very interesting match-ups on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Dallas is #1 in yards per game (510) and #3 in scoring (31.5). All of this despite some serious injury issues on Dallas’ offensive line. Defensively, the Giants are #5 in yards allowed (328) and #13 in scoring defense (24).

      On the flip side, offensively, New York is dead last in yards per game (278) and scoring (11.8). Defensively, Dallas is 30th in yards allowed (431) and dead last in scoring defense (36.5).

      In other words, something has to give on both sides of the ball for both teams. In all likelihood, the Giants offense will look better in this game while the defense looks worse. Whether or not that translates into a win remains to be seen. The Cowboys are huge favorites in this game.

      THE INJURY REPORT

      • LB Oshane Ximines (shoulder – out)
      • LB Kyler Fackrell (neck – questionable)
      • S Jabrill Peppers (ankle – questionable)
      • S Adrian Colbert (neck – questionable)

      NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE

        Sy’56 wrote at the end of his Giants-Rams game review that fans should focus more on player development this year than wins and losses. That’s a sad state of affairs, but from a mental health perspective for Giants fans, probably wise advice. My fear is that this team has gotten far too comfortable and used to losing. Anyone who has played competitive sports on a bad team knows what I mean. While the roster keeps churning each year, the core group that has been here for the last few years just simply doesn’t know how to, or expect to, win. The front office execs, the coaches, and the players all say the right things during the week, but the team loses every Sunday and everyone says, “We need to execute better.” Frustrated fans begin to look for quick and easy scapegoats. We used to laugh at teams like the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins who fell into these never-ending negative cycles. The Giants have officially become one of those teams.

        But this week I’m going to take Sy’56’s advice and provide my overall thoughts on the state of each position group and who I think the team can count on moving into 2021 and beyond.

        Quarterback: To state the obvious, Daniel Jones is not playing as well as hoped or expected. This has started the inevitable conversation that if the Giants are once again in the position to draft a “franchise” quarterback, do they do so? Right or wrong, I’m more optimistic about Jones because I think he has the mental and physical tools to succeed and I think the rest of the team is dragging him down right now. Others would argue he is not elevating the play of those around him. They could be right. Needless to say, the remaining 12 games is crucial in terms of understanding where we are at with respect to the quarterback position. What is frustrating is that Jones makes enough plays with his arm and feet to tease, but mistakes have marred his performance and contributed to losses. What I find equally frustrating is the lack of patience with quarterback development among today’s fans. I would like to remind everyone that the bulk of NYG fans were ready to run Eli Manning out of town as late as November 2007 (his fourth season). Nevertheless, this team is scoring less than 12 points per game. That’s beyond pathetic. And until that dramatically changes, Jones will be blamed for it. Guy to watch: Daniel Jones.

        Running Back: I still don’t think many fans understand the catastrophic impact the loss of Saquon Barkley is having on this offense. I’ve argued since he got hurt that his loss changes everything for the worse. He was the ONLY guy on this team who scared opponents both as a runner and receiver. Saquon was so much better than everyone else on the Giants that I would equate his loss with that of a pro basketball team losing their superstar scorer. He is being replaced by three players (Devonta Freeman, Wayne Gallman, Dion Lewis) whose contracts expire this offseason and I would not be surprised if all of them are not re-signed. That’s how barren the cabinet is at this position. With Barkley out of the picture, is there a worse group of running backs in the NFL? Guy to watch: Wayne Gallman (most likely to be re-signed even though Freeman will likely get more snaps).

        Wide Receivers: This position has turned into a disaster. Teams have either figured out Darius Slayton or he is going through a sophomore slump. The injury-prone Sterling Shepard is hurt once again and one must wonder if its not just best to move on. Golden Tate is nearing the end. Oddly, the Giants decided to keep only four receivers, two of whom now are waiver-wire pick-ups. There is a good chance that the ONLY player who will be back next year who is currently on the 53-man roster is Slayton. As we move into November and December, I would expect the coaching staff to consider promoting Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack, or Derrick Dillon to the active roster to receive a few looks. Again, is there a worse group of wide receivers in the NFL? Maybe one or two teams are in the conversation, but that’s it. Guy to watch: Darius Slayton.

        Tight Ends: Evan Engram is proving that he is another 1st-round disappointment and one wonders if he is long for the team. I would say trade him before the deadline, but would there even be a market for him? The other guys on this team are complementary pieces.  This is a very weak unit and again may be one of the worst in the NFL. Guy to watch: Kaden Smith.

        Offensive Line: Andrew Thomas is taking his lumps and is coming off of his worst performance. He needs to rebound this week. The Giants desperately need him to develop into a Pro Bowl-type tackle in a year or two. The Giants can get by with Will Hernandez, but they need more than that from him as well. As Sy’56 has pointed out, his problems have revolved around lateral agility. I don’t know how Nick Gates is going to pan out, but you can see why the coaches like him. To get into with Aaron Donald like he did last week was an eye-opener. Gates is still green as grass at the position so expect continued growing pains. The major head-scratcher is the continuing decline of 30-year old Kevin Zeitler. I think we’re all at a loss explaining that. If that continues, I would not be surprised to see Shane Lemieux start stealing some snaps like Matt Peart is doing now at right tackle. Speaking of Peart, it’s pretty clear that the coaching staff is grooming him to move in at right tackle soon. Peart is being provided with the luxury that Thomas wasn’t given, and that is to more slowly transition him into a starting spot. Personally, I’m still optimistic about this group. I expected and wrote about the growing pains we are all seeing. Playing a string of really good defenses hasn’t helped. I think the unit will continue to improve as the year progresses. Keep in mind however that with the limitations the Giants have at running back, tight end, and wide receiver, I’m not sure how much this will translate to improved productivity on the field. Guys to watch: Andrew Thomas, Will Hernandez, Nick Gates, Kevin Zeitler, Matt Peart.

        NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

        Defensive Line: I think the defensive line started off a bit more slowly than hoped against the run but has been improving. As Sy’56 has pointed out, if the Giants had better pass-rushing edge rushers, the unit would look even better. Dexter Lawrence is coming off a strong game and Leonard Williams has played well. Dalvin Tomlinson is another big body and Austin Johnson was a real difference maker against the Rams. Guys to watch: Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson (Giants have contract decisions to make on both).

        Linebackers: I told you guys that Blake Martinez was the victim of bad press. He’s arguably been the team MVP. I think many of us expect to see Tae Crowder start stealing snaps from Devante Downs. Outside, the new coaching staff obviously has favored Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines over Markus Golden. (Ximines is hurt so we’ll probably see more of Golden this week). While Carter has improved, no one is scaring the other team in the pass rush department and this is hurting the entire defense. I would not be shocked if we start seeing Cam Brown receive more snaps. Kyler Fackrell has a role on this defense as a situational player. Stating the obvious, on a team with many, many needs, pass-rushing edge rusher remains an offseason priority. Guys to watch: Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, Tae Crowder.

        Defensive Backs: If Blake Martinez hasn’t been the MVP, then it’s been the other priority free agent the team signed in the offseason, James Bradberry. Nevertheless, the Giants continue to be haunted by the unexpected disaster that was Deandre Baker and Sam Beal sitting out due to COVID. That has left the team scrambling at the other outside cornerback position where Corey Ballentine and Isaac Yiadom have struggled. The team appears to be holding auditions at the spot now with Ryan Lewis and Madre Harper next on call. Darnay Holmes is learning on the job at slot corner. Inside, the loss of Xavier McKinney was another unexpected disappointment. Jabrill Peppers is proving he is more athlete than player. Does he have a future on this team? Julian Love appears to be the classic ‘tweener who may not have a true home at either corner or safety. Logan Ryan provides veteran leadership. Will he want to re-sign here next year? Guys to watch: Darnay Holmes, Madre Harper, Julian Love.

        NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

        If the Giants continue to struggle this much on offense, do not be surprised to see some fake punts and/or field goals soon.

        FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

        Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett on playing young quarterbacks: “Quarterbacks play best when they’re in a really good environment. That’s younger quarterbacks and that’s older quarterbacks. What everyone’s trying to do in an organization is create a good environment for their quarterback and give them a good supporting cast. Typically, it’s a strong offensive line, it’s playmakers outside, it’s a good run game. I think those things help that quarterback transition more smoothly. If he’s in a situation where he’s carrying too much of a burden early on because the team is young and in their rebuilding stage, sometimes it’s a little bit harder for that guy to transition. I think that’s probably a common denominator for a lot of guys. Sometimes quarterbacks have to take their lumps because they’re really in the ground floor of the rebuilding process. The best ones I’ve been around have come out the other end of those experiences. Sometimes the transition happens smoother because the team is further along in their cycle of rebuilding, and that quarterback comes into that environment and is that much better.”

        THE FINAL WORD

        I don’t expect the Giants to win this game, but they can. What will be fascinating to watch is Cowboys weakness (defense) versus Giants weakness (offense) and Cowboys strength (offense) against Giants strength (defense). Throw in Jason Garrett’s knowledge of his former team and this one could get a bit crazy.

        One final note on Jones, I keep seeing comments such as “Jones was playing better last year than he is this year!” Again, I don’t think fans understand what the loss of Saquon Barkley did to this team. His loss means the surrounding talent around Jones is much, much worse than it was last year (even factoring in Barkley’s injury last year). This offense is now incapable of getting big chunks of yardage on a consistent basis. Everything comes in small chunks now because the surrounding skill position players can’t provide more than that. The closest similarity I can point to is the Giants offense in the mid-1990s when the team’s best offensive player was fullback Charles Way.

        Oct 062020
         
        Share Button
        Leonard Williams and James Bradberry, New York Giants (October 4, 2020)

        Leonard Williams and James Bradberry – © USA TODAY Sports

        Los Angeles Rams 17 – New York Giants 9

        QUICK RECAP

        After being embarrassed by the Niners JV team at home in Week 3, the 0-3 Giants were back on the road, flying across country to play in the brand new, stunning stadium that hosts both the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers. Their opponent was the former coming in after a 2-1 start where they averaged 30 points per game. The Giants, on the other hand, came in with the last-ranked offense in the league and having not won an out-of-division road game since mid-November of 2018.

        This one began right where the abysmal performance last week ended. NYG began with the ball and ran three plays: a drop, a sack, and passing play that lost 7 yards. The Rams then nickel-and-dimed their way up the field via a 12-play drive with little-to-no resistance from the Giants defense. Tight end Gerald Everett scored on a 2-yard touchdown run and the Rams had the quick lead that they never let go of.

        The NYG offensive line got absolutely pummeled on the next drive, with Andrew Thomas and Kevin Zeitler being the main culprits. They punted following a 3rd-and-27 play that netted 8 yards. On the very first play of the Rams ensuing drive, Everett caught a short pass over the middle and had the ball jarred loose by the pursuing defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, which was recovered by cornerback James Bradberry. NYG began the drive on the LAR 34-yard line. They did get into the red zone but a 2-yard loss on a passing play followed by a Zeitler false start put them in 3rd-and-long on their final play of the drive for the third time in as many drives. Fortunately, because of the starting field position, NYG was still able to put 3 points on the board via a 35-yard field goal by Graham Gano.

        The Rams went three-and-out on their next drive, but then so did NYG. The Giants line continued to look overmatched, allowing two straight sacks. The Rams then went on another long drive, this one 15 plays, to put up another 3 points on the board. Their running game started to take over a bit but a theme we saw from the NYG defense for the rest of the afternoon arose on this drive. The Rams got to 1st-and-goal from the 4-yard line but the following three plays netted -10 yards. They settled for a 32-yard field goal to make it 10-3. The Giants then ended the half with a quality, clock-efficient drive that saw them convert 3-out-of-3 third-down conversions. Gano put a 37 yarder through the uprights and they were down just 4 points at halftime despite gaining just 67 net yards in the first half.

        As ugly as it has been this season and as much as I have a personal belief into not putting a lot of credit on moral victories, we saw something positive happen early in the second half. As NYG stopped the Rams and on their first offensive drive, a fight broke out between center Nick Gates and LAR star defensive tackle (and arguably the top defensive player in the NFL) Aaron Donald. It wasn’t a push and a shove. It wasn’t just trash talk. These two were going at it pretty aggressively. Gates, a third-year undrafted free agent who wouldn’t start on nearly any team in the league against Donald, a perennial All Pro and Defensive Player of the Year candidate. It struck some extra life into the Giants on both sides of the ball. No, there wasn’t a dramatic touchdown at the end of this drive (NYG made it to the LAR 43 and punted) but there was a different feel to both sides of the ball after that scuffle.

        Two drives later, NYG made their way into the red zone but a string of positive plays was cancelled out by an illegal formation and false start penalty, respectively. They had to settle for another field goal, this one from 27, to make it a one-point game. NYG had all of the momentum and this one appeared it would come down to the field position game and which offense could come up with the big play. NYG then forced another 3-and-out but came up short on their own next offensive drive even though Wayne Gallman’s longest run of his career (26 yards) got them to midfield.

        The Rams began their next drive with just under 10 minutes left, and on 3rd-and-3 from their own 45-yard line, the solid Giants defense had a break in coverage. Cooper Kupp made his way up the seam with nobody covering the deep middle. Goff found him and Kupp made his way into the end zone thanks to the miscommunication and a badly missed tackle by Bradberry. This was the big play I talked about someone needing. It was 17-9 with about 7 minutes left.

        The Giants had two possessions left. They made it into LAR territory both times, but two inaccurate Jones’ throws ended both drives. The first one was on a 4th-and-11 where he air-mailed one to Golden Tate. The second one was a forced 2nd-and-5 pass with one minute left that ended up in the arms of LAR corner Darious Williams. Jones had an easy first down run in front of him but he made the wrong decision and it cost them a shot at tying it up.

        NYG loses, 17-9.

        QUARTERBACK

        Daniel Jones: 23-36 / 190 yards / 0 TD-1 INT / 65.7 RAT

        Jones was once again the team leader in rushing with 45 yards (Gallman also added 45 yards). It was a brave effort for Jones, notably in the second half. He made some big plays with his legs and had NYG won this game, it would be discussed more. After a full career of watching an immobile quarterback in Eli Manning, this is a new way to gain yards for this team. Is it better? Or will it end up being better? Jones is still very late to see things and he wasn’t doing the offensive line any favors in the first half with how long he was holding onto the ball. 177 of Jones’ total yards came in the second half but we still aren’t seeing him make much happen with his arm in relation to downfield and/or big-time throws. He scrambled his way to his biggest plays which in a simple world means just as much as making plays through the air. But how sustainable is that? Quarterbacks need to be throwers first and second, and a runner third (unless your name is Lamar Jackson). Right now, Jones is overly reliant on scrambling and this team needs to hope that doesn’t become the crutch he constantly relies upon.

        RUNNING BACK

        -Devonta Freeman and Wayne Gallman appear to be the ideal 1-2 punch this team needs to move forward with. They combined for 78 yards on 17 carries. There isn’t anything spectacular about that but Gallman had the biggest run of the day (also the second longest gain for NYG) and Freeman earned some tough yards. Freeman ran with more confidence in this game and as I said last week, I expect him to hit full stride after another game. He started to show some extra bounce and pop in the second half. I am excited to see how far he can take it.

        -Dion Lewis was on the field for more snaps than Gallman but I think that has more to do with this coaching staff trusting him more in pass protection. He did have a nice 10-yard gain for a first down to convert a 3rd-and-10. In terms of upside and this team actually scoring touchdowns, however, Gallman gives them more hope.

        WIDE RECEIVER

        -Golden Tate caught four passes for only 20 yards. Jones missed him badly on two occasions. Darius Slayton led the team with 48 yards but caught just 3 balls. 33 of those yards came on one play, the vast majority of which were after the catch. He was a non-factor most of the afternoon and was clearly overmatched by the LAR outside corners, Troy Hill and Jalen Ramsey. Damion Ratley added 34 yards on 3 catches and C.J. Board dropped his lone target.

        -This offense is starving for more talent at wide receiver. Tate is an underneath threat only who will occasionally make a play with his feet after the catch, and Slayton has been badly exposed over the past 3 weeks.

        TIGHT END

        -Evan Engram opened the game with a drop. He ended up with 35 yards on 6 catches, leading the team with 10 targets. It seems to me that every week we see Engram’s elite physical tool flash just to be disappointed by the fact that he simply he isn’t a very good football player. Perhaps he can thrive in the right scheme and situation, but it has been a maddening to follow him throughout his rookie contract. Engram also allowed a half-sack and was the reason for another TFL, even though it wasn’t his man who made the actual tackle.

        -Kaden Smith added a catch for 10 yards, playing about a third of the snaps. He was flagged for a false start in the first half as well. Is Smith a better TE than Engram simply because you know what you’re getting and he will be much cheaper against the cap? He runs like has cement blocks attaches to his feet, however, and his blocking isn’t dominant or anything close to it. This really has evolved into a position of weakness.

        OFFENSIVE LINE

        -The first half may have been the worst offensive line showing we have seen in years, and that is really saying something. This group got pummeled and rookie Andrew Thomas was a main culprit. Thomas tied for the worst grade I’ve given to the position since I started charting the NYG offensive line. He allowed 2.5 sacks, 2 pressures, and allowed a TFL. The most alarming truth about it? It was different guys who kept beating him. Sometimes a pass rusher simply has a specific blocker’s number. Not this time. Thomas was getting beat by multiple guys as if they were taking turns against him, knowing that was the easy access point. He did play better in the second half but there is no denying the fact he just isn’t sustaining good contact.

        -Sticking with the negatives, Kevin Zeitler had a negative grade. He allowed a TFL, 1 pressure, and was flagged for a false start. Four weeks in and I will go on record now saying he is now a shell of what he used to be and the end may be closer than we thought for him. He just doesn’t get the knee bend and he just doesn’t shift laterally like he used to.

        -As for the positives, Nick Gates and Will Hernandez did a fine job containing Aaron Donald when they faced off against him. I’ve been vocal about Gates and his poor play that has led to the inside running game woes. I will say this, however: his level of play has improved weekly. At the end of the day, that is all you want to see from a young player who is playing a new position. Is he the answer long term? My guess is no. However, I do think he can be valuable as a versatile backup. Hernandez and right tackle Cam Fleming each allowed a pressure but were graded above average as run blockers. They also seemed to turn it up a notch after the Gates-Donald fight.

        EDGE

        -It was a really quiet day by the edge group, the biggest weakness on this team by far. Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, and Markus Golden were on the field for a combined 72 plays. They combined for 1 pressure, 1 tackle, and 2 assists. Ouch.

        DEFENSIVE TACKLE

        -The Giants held the Rams to a season low 240 total yards and 58 rushing yards. In fact, only three teams have held the Rams that low since the start of Sean McVay’s tenure as Head Coach in 2017. The 2019 Ravens (4th-ranked NFL defense), the 2019 Niners (2nd-ranked NFL defense), and the 2018 Bears (1st-ranked NFL defense). It really was an admirable effort and it was led by Dexter Lawrence. LAR averaged 2.5 yards per carry largely because of how well he played. He had 6 tackles, 2 TFL, and a QB hit. Re-watching the game, it was clear just how dominant he was.

        -Leonard Williams was active against the run, finishing with 5 tackles and he has Lawrence to thank for a few of them. Williams was neutralized as a pass rusher, however. He gave NYG nothing there in this one.

        -Anthony Johnson made a big impact on the game despite only playing 13 snaps (23%). He had a sack and a forced fumble on a good hustle play that was recovered by NYG and led to their first 3 points of the day. Dalvin Tomlinson had 2 tackles, 1 TFL, and a pass deflection.

        LINEBACKER

        -Best game of the year so far for Kyler Fackrell. Remember, this guy had 10 sacks just two years ago. He had 4 tackles, 2 TFL, and 1 sack. He really is an ideal fit for the BUCK linebacker position, a spot that can be used as an edge defender as well as an extra inside linebacker. Really hard player to find and he fits that role like a glove. He came up with a big game after coming up short last week against SF.

        -Blake Martinez continues to fly around and pile up the tackles. You know he is good when making 13 tackles, 1 for a loss, simply seems routine. Martinez made the right decision to get on a defense that has this kind of presence along the defensive line. He goes untouched often, knows when to pounce, and he is a true finisher. Watching him play just reinforces the notion that the team has been lacking at linebacker for far too long.

        -Tae Crowder saw the first action of his NFL career. After Devante Downs, who has struggled, missed a tackle on the first drive, Crowder came on the field and it was easy to see how much faster he is. He had 2 tackles and was mere inches away from an interception. He out-snapped Downs 33-3. I think it is safe to say we have a new, young linebacker to watch in the coming months.

        CORNERBACK

        -James Bradberry had a good game in coverage and he did recover a first quarter fumble that led to 3 points for NYG. However, he missed a tackle on the 4th quarter Cooper Kupp touchdown that made it an 8-point game. In addition, he did a poor job setting the edge against the run on a couple of occasions.

        -Corey Ballentine didn’t see one snap at cornerback. Ryan Lewis stepped in as the main man on the outside opposite of Bradberry and had a solid game. Like Isaac Yiadom, he gives a ton of cushion which LAR took advantage of on 3rd down a couple times. Darnay Holmes remained at nickel and had an uneventful day, but he did struggle to set the edge on 2 runs.

        SAFETY

        -Logan Ryan and Adrian Colbert played the majority of the snaps at safety. They did a nice job defending the deep ball, as Goff wanted to go downfield a few times but they locked things up right away.

        -Julian Love saw a decrease in snaps and he was the likely guilty culprit on the Kupp touchdown where it was clear there was a coverage breakdown. I can’t say for sure but looking at what everyone else was doing on the defense, I think it was Love who guessed wrong.

        SPECIAL TEAMS

        -K Graham Gano: 3/3 (Made 35, 37, 27)

        -P Riley Dixon: 5 punts / 43.2 avg / 40.0 net

        3 STUDS

        -DT Dexter Lawrence, LB Kyler Fackrell, LB Blake Martinez

        3 DUDS

        -OT Andrew Thomas, OG Kevin Zeitler, S Julian Love

        3 THOUGHTS ON LAR

        1. When you really break down the LAR offense, it is amazing how simple the concepts are. They really don’t do much to try and trick you and there are elements to it that are woefully predictable. It is refreshing to watch, really. It comes down to simple execution and the offensive line doing their job.
        1. If there is one weakness to this team that is going to prevent them from getting back to their 2018 form, it is that offensive line. It is an under-manned group full of average players but lacking a guy who can consistently win one on one. Even Andrew Whitworth, a likely Hall of Famer, has lost some of his juice. They’ve put a lot of mid-round draft resources into the group and they are “good enough” to get the job done and they have quality depth. However, I think they need one more stud there and it will be tough to acquire because of how much money they have tied up elsewhere.
        1. LAR has gone against the grain a bit in terms of how they are building their roster. Jared Goff has the 3rd-highest QB cap number, Aaron Donald has highest DT cap number, Jalen Ramsey has the highest CB cap number. It is great to be able to hold onto all of them but that is going to put a ton of pressure on their drafting in the coming years. That will make or break the success of this team in the next 5 years.

        3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

        1. We are 16 games into Daniel Jones career. You can’t call it “one season” because he has had 2 offseason programs with the team. If the Giants keep losing and he keeps turning the ball over, the ongoing discussion will be whether or not you give up on a quarterback if Trevor Lawrence is there for the taking. I think it is too soon to go down that path but let’s take a look at how he and Eli Manning stack up after 16 games. It may shed some light on the need for understanding patience and realizing the turmoil of this team over the past 3-4 seasons may be unfairly dampening your view on Jones himself. Remember, just wait until the end of the year to even think about what NYG will do at the position.
          • Jones: 375- 608 (61.7%) / 3,916 yds (6.4 y/a) / 26 TD – 17 INT / 21 fumbles / 82.9 RAT
          • Manning: 251-503 (50%) / 3,145 yds (6.2 y/a) / 21 TD – 18 INT / 3 fumbles / 68.7 RAT
        1. In this weeks version of, “We still have a chance…” I steer the bus down the divisional road. This is where the season really starts for NYG. I don’t think it is any secret that 7-8 wins for any team in this division will be good enough to create meaningful football in November and December. The division games are always more important but when you know nobody is going to run away with it, they are even more so. DAL has 1 win. WAS has 1 win. PHI has 1 win. Five of NYG’s next six games are against the NFC East. This is THE stretch of the season.
        1. Every year I wait four weeks before I start to put significant labels on teams. I always feel the NFL media and fans are way too knee-jerk with their reactions. Humans tend to lack confidence in expressing their own opinions, therefore causing people to exaggerate in the hopes that others will listen to them. Through four weeks, I think you can really gain a pulse on the teams and put together a credible forecast. My feeling for NYG is a young team that will give different players and different groupings a shot each week with the idea that a few will show they belong here in the coming years. Are they trying to win? Sure. However, I think Judge cares much more about this team’s long-term plans. He wants to know who can help this team in 2021. I say this because, I don’t think fans should be stressing about wins and losses as much as they have during the final years of Manning’s career. Yes, it is hard to watch at times and the “you never know” mantra lives on, but I would challenge some of you to watch the game through the different light. Look for things that will help next year (example from this game being DT Lawrence / LB Crowder / LB Martinez).
        Oct 022020
         
        Share Button
        John Mara, New York Giants (September 8, 2019)

        John Mara – © USA TODAY Sports

        Game Preview: New York Giants at Los Angeles Rams, October 4, 2020

        THE STORYLINE

        John Mara is running out of scapegoats. Contrary to those who have insisted that “blind loyalty” has gotten in the way of the Giants improving the product on the field, he has actually been pretty quick to pull the trigger in recent years. Since 2016, the Giants have fired Tom Coughlin, Jerry Reese, Marc Ross, Ben McAdoo, Pat Shurmur, and a host of coordinators, assistant coaches, and scouts. It is expected that Dave Gettleman will be “retired” by season’s end. If anything, the New York Giants have now become the NFL’s model of instability.

        Being educated does not make someone smart. I had an aunt and uncle who worked in the university system and they were among the last people you would want to make real-world decisions. John Mara holds degrees from Boston College and Fordham University. He was raised by a father who lived, breathed, and died Giants football and I have no doubt he does the same. But there is mounting evidence that John simply does not know how to run a successful NFL franchise. Consider the following:

        • When Mara decided to make a change after the 2015 NFL season, he came to the conclusion that Tom Coughlin was the sole problem. He not only retained Jerry Reese and Marc Ross, the men largely responsible for the rapidly deteriorating roster, but he too quickly promoted Ben McAdoo from offensive coordinator to head coach and retained much of Tom Coughlin’s coaching staff. There are some who say the Eagles actually goaded Mara into hiring McAdoo quickly because he feared they would poach him. Fast forward two years and it was clear that Mara had made the wrong decisions on Reese, Ross, and McAdoo. Two years wasted.
        • Mara did not even wait until the end of the 2017 before firing McAdoo and Reese. Fine. But his first inclination was to hire former team general manager Ernie Accorsi to serve as his primary consultant in the team’s general manager search. It was Accorsi who strongly recommended that Mara promote Reese to the position in 2007, beating out Dave Gettleman, who eventually left for the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers fired Gettleman in July 2017. It was no surprise to anyone that before 2017 ended, Gettleman was already hired by Mara to be the team’s next general manager. There was no real “search” for a general manager. It was probably the easiest money Accorsi ever made. In effect, Mara had hired Accorsi’s 2007 runner-up ten years later. It was also somewhat unusual that the team was picking a 66-year old man to oversee what looked to be a long-term rebuilding project. Gettleman fired Ross the very next day.
        • After interviewing a handful of extremely unimpressive coaching candidates, Mara and Gettleman decided to hire Pat Shurmur away from the Minnesota Vikings. Fast forward two years and it was clear they had made the wrong decision. Shurmur was fired at the end of December 2017. Two more years wasted.
        • All during this time period from 2016 to 2019, the Giants kept insisting that the team needed more “tweaking” than rebuilding. That in itself was alarming to many on the outside who thought otherwise.

        As troubling as the developments above are, what bothered me the most is what came next. While John Mara decided that the team needed to hire its third new head coach in five years, he also felt that the now 68-year old Gettleman should be intimately involved in that decision. It made no sense. And I said so at the time. An old, soon-to-be retired general manager should not be hiring the man who his successor will be forced to work with. Especially when you consider the fact that Gettleman’s efforts to rebuild the team to that point, including the hiring of Shurmur, had been a failure.

        Joe Judge may or may not be a good hire. The jury is still out. He talks a good game, but we haven’t seen any early improvement. The bigger problem right now is that when Gettleman is let go in a few months, the new general manager will be saddled with a head coach he didn’t pick. UNLESS, John Mara has already decided that Assistant General Manager Kevin Abrams is the man to replace Gettleman. That is troubling in itself as Abrams must share in the responsibility in the demise of this once-proud franchise since he’s been with the team for the last two decades. In other words, Mara has painted himself into a corner. He either has to promote Abrams or hire a new general manager who did not have role in hiring the head coach. And this could have all been avoided had Mara simply let Gettleman gracefully “retire” a year ago instead of not stupidly postponing it one year.

        Let’s be blunt. Mara has made one blunder after another. These have not been little mistakes either. Keeping Reese and Ross two extra years was a mistake. Hiring McAdoo was a mistake. Hiring Accorsi as a “consultant” was a mistake. Hiring 66-year old, once second-choice Gettleman as the team’s new GM was a mistake. Hiring Shurmur was a mistake. Not “retiring” Gettleman after 2019 was a mistake. Now he has also painted himself into a corner. Tell me what the man has done right in the last decade? I’ll wait.

        THE INJURY REPORT

        • S Jabrill Peppers (ankle – out)
        • S Julian Love (knee/ankle – questionable)
        • S Adrian Colbert (quad – probable)

        THE FINAL WORD

        Barring something exceptionally bizarre, the Giants are going to fall to 0-4 on Sunday. They are double-digit underdogs to the Rams. Then we will see if they have any fight in them as they face three extremely unimpressive NFC East teams in a row.

        A final note. In reading The Corner Forum, I still see that many fans simply don’t understand how bad the team’s personnel, especially on offense, is right now. Saquon Barkley was the only guy who scared other teams. Overnight, the Giants running attack went from feared (despite the state of the OL) to a joke. He was also the most dangerous receiving weapon the team had. His loss was catastrophic. Losing Sterling Shepard was also a huge blow to a now very unimpressive receiving corps. Evan Engram is just a tease. As I said last week, Daniel Jones is in a terrible position. He has very little surrounding talent and a fan base looking for scapegoats. Joe Judge and his coaching staff are also in a terrible position. They’ll be the next targets of fan ire.

        Sep 292020
         
        Share Button
        Leonard Williams, New York Giants (September 27, 2020)

        Leonard Williams – © USA TODAY Sports

        San Francisco 49ers 36 – New York Giants 9

        QUICK RECAP

        After a dominant win at MetLife Stadium over the New York Jets in Week 2, the San Francisco 49ers made the East Coast their home as they prepped for their Week 3 contest against NYG at the same place, same time, a week later. The 0-2 Giants would normally have little-to-no shot against the defending NFC Champions but thanks to a Niners’ injury report that looked like a starting roster, there was some hope they could get a number in the win column by sneaking their way to a victory.

        Nick Mullens, a former undrafted free agent with a career record of 3-5 (0-3 on the road), was under center as starting quarterback as Jimmy Garoppolo was out with an ankle injury. Mullens made his second career start at home against NYG in 2018, a game he and the Niners lost 27-23.

        He led the 1-1 Niners to an opening drive that put up 3 points on the board via a 52-yard field goal by the ageless Robbie Gould. On the ensuing drive, Daniel Jones was charged with a lost fumble on the Giants opening drive for the second time in as many weeks. This one was on a failed “trick” play where he simply misplaced his pitch to Evan Engram who was coming across the line for a reverse. SF began the drive on the NYG 42-yard line and traveled 28 yards on 12 plays, a theme of the day I will discuss later, and put 3 more points on the board via a 32-yard field goal on a play where NYG safety Jabrill Peppers was injured (he did not return).

        Down 6-0, Jones and the offense came back on the field and the first quarter was over after two plays. There were 28 snaps in the first quarter, just 8 of them belonged to NYG. Jones, the NYG leading rusher by a landslide on the day, gained 19 yards, putting them into SF territory for the first time. The offense stalled there after newest Giant Devonta Freeman got his first touches in NYG blue, but Graham Gano nailed a 52-yard field goal to make it a 3-point game. Gould missed a 55-yard attempt on the next drive, giving NYG good field position in which they took advantage of. Gano nailed another long field goal attempt, this one from 42 yards, to tie it up at 6.

        The Giants defense was needed here. They needed to make a play, sack the quarterback, or both. Leonard Williams came up with the sack to force a 3rd-and-22 from the SF 44-yard line. The Giants were about to get the ball back with the score tied, as Mullens found tight end Jordan reed for a 7 yard dump off against the NYG prevent defense. However, arguably the most painful mistake of the game gave SF a fresh set of downs rather than a punt. Rookie Darnay Holmes, whom certainly had a game to forget, was flagged for an illegal contact. The Niners got to start over at midfield. Five plays later, Jerick McKinnon was trotting into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown. Instead of NYG having the ball tied at 6, they were down 13-6. Then, the bleeding just got worse.

        On the second play of the next drive, Jones threw it behind Evan Engram (another theme of the day) and right into the arms of Niners linebacker Fred Warner. This turned into another 3 points for SF via a 26-yard field goal by Gould. This ended the first half, 16-6 San Francisco.

        The first possession of the second half when you’re losing is often vital. NYG has shown at least some ability to adjust during halftime and this one started no different. Jones gained 23 yards and 7 yards on two running plays, they converted a 4th-and-2 from midfield, and put themselves into the red zone for the first time via yet another big Jones run, this one for 17 yards. However, that one was nullified by a Darius Slayton hold. NYG shot themselves in the foot, just as a bad team always seems to do. They settled for a 47-yard field goal by Gano which, at least, made it a one score game.

        The Niners, also a team that makes adjustments well at halftime, came out with their own tone-setting possession and one-upped NYG. They scored a touchdown on a 19-yard reverse by rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk. It was 23-9 and SF had completely owned the time of possession battle, they had all of the momentum, and NYG was staring 0-3 right in the face. They were faced with a 4th-and-1 from their own 30-yard line. They opted to go for it on a QB sneak that looked bleak to say the least, as SF jammed four defensive linemen as close to each other as possible as if they knew what was coming. The attempt came up just inches short, giving SF the ball just 30 yards away from the end zone. It took just four plays for SF to turn that field position into a touchdown on a 19-yard screen pass to the SF fourth string running back, Jeff Wilson. The SF lead grew to 20 as the game was now entering the 4th quarter.

        Following three straight incomplete passes by Jones, SF forced another punt before putting together another marathon drive, this one 15 plays long, that ended with Wilson crossing the goal line again on a 2-yard run. 36-9 with under 4 minutes to play.

        The final NYG drive of the day ended in a Darius Slayton fumble, the third NYG turnover of the day. Mullens then went onto take three knees to solidify their JV win over the opposing varsity.

        Giants lose 36-9

        QUARTERBACK

        Daniel Jones: 17-32 / 179 yards / 0 TD – 1 INT

        Jones’ brightest impact on the day came on the ground. He gained 49 yards on just 5 carries, the most on the team. Through 3 weeks, Jones has 92 yards on the ground. Not only is he the leading rusher on NYG but he has 14 more yards than EVERY other ball carrier on the team COMBINED. Abysmal. In the air, Jones had a pretty poor day throwing the ball. He was behind his target four times and the most glaring weakness I noted in my scouting report in 2019 is showing up too often. He is late to see things and that half-second hesitation in combination with slightly inaccurate throws is leading to problems. Add in the fact he added two more turnovers to his resume, we are looking at a near-bottom level to his career at this point. It is still early and I look forward to seeing how he bounces back, but he needs to better. There isn’t enough help around him, we all know that. But “keep it simple, stupid”…he needs to be better.

        RUNNING BACK

        This was a really ugly day for the Giants running back committee. Wayne Gallman had 7 yards on 4 carries and 7 yards on 2 catches. Dion Lewis had 1 catch for 10 yards and a carry that netted nothing. The newly-signed Devonta Freeman tied for the team lead 5 carries and ended up with 10 yards. As I said last week, I wouldn’t expect much out of him for the first 2-3 weeks but I do think NYG is going to get something out of him. He showed some juice on his 3rd-and-1 running attempt and he is a guy who will play with a lot to prove. Make no mistake, he will be the NYG feature back within a month and in a year where it looks like it will be hard to watch, I look forward to that.

        WIDE RECEIVER

        -Golden Tate: 5 rec / 36 yards

        Tate was one of two players who was targeted 7 times. 18 of his 36 yards came on his first catch, meaning his next 4 catches averaged under 5 yards per. He really needs to be in a more efficient offensive scheme where the timing is better. He can initially get open but defensive backs close the gap on him in a hurry. Combine that with Jones just being a little late to see things, Tate really is close to useless unless this scheme and Jones improve. I wonder if there will be a trade market for him.

        -Darius Slayton: 3 rec / 53 yards.

        Slayton lost a fumble on the Giants final play. It didn’t impact the game at all but it still goes down in the books as a turnover. I’ll be honest, after a strong Week 1 against Pittsburgh, Slayton hasn’t impressed over the past 2 games. He is still struggling off the line and his playing strength is an issue. He will be the team’s number one guy, but I’ m not sure he is a true number one guy. Add that to the team-needs list.

        -Damion Ratley and C.J. Board saw more snaps this week but each saw just 2 targets. Ratley brought in the biggest gain of the day of 29 yards, albeit on the final drive where few-to-nobody cared.

        TIGHT END

        -Evan Engram: 3 rec / 22 yards

        Engram came up with two key first down conversions, one of which came on 4th down. He also dropped a pass. Otherwise, a fairly quiet day for him. They haven’t been sending him up the seam much, something I think negates what his true talent is, that is, straight-line burst and speed. I want to see him going downfield more often.

        -Kaden Smith had 13 yards on his lone catch. He was on the field for a third of the snaps as NYG continues to be one of the league leaders in multiple-tight end personnel usages. I do think it would be a beneficial idea if these tight ends were better at sustaining blocks in the running game. We know Engram isn’t going to be a factor there, but Smith’s struggles this season, and on Sunday in particular, on the edge have been a key weakness in the team’s running game. Smith allowed a TFL in this one.

        OFFENSIVE LINE

        -Rookie Andrew Thomas came away with the worst grade of the group. He has weakened as the quality of his opponents have lessened, which is odd. Life as a rookie in the NFL, I suppose as teams get more and more tape to analyze and pick apart. He allowed 3 pressures, 1 sack, and 1 TFL in addition to being flagged for a false start. I tried to really pinpoint where his losses were coming from and my best guess revolves around the coordination, or lack thereof, between his feet and hands. They were not working in unison with one another and it led to some ugly beats. He took a direct helmet hit to his shin late and came off the field, but I don’t think that turns into anything serious. He will be fine. Fellow rookie Matt Peart got his feet wet with a couple uneventful snaps.

        -Right Tackle Cameron Fleming allowed 2 pressures, 1 sack, and was beat badly on a running play that led to a TFL. Fleming graded poorly for the third week in a row but as I said prior to the year, expectations for him couldn’t be high. He is a career swing guy and won’t ever be more than that. I am sticking to my belief that Peart will be starting over there by midseason.

        -Inside, once again, was a less than admirable performance. Will Hernandez allowed 3 pressures, way too many for a guard. Two of them were created by stunts/twists where he just can’t seem to move well enough laterally to catch up. This has been an issue for him since Week 1 of 2018. Nick Gates and Kevin Zeitler stayed off of the stat sheet but neither even reached an average grade. Gates gave up too much ground and was found touching nobody on far too many plays. Zeitler, for the third week, looks overly slow and stiff. He can’t get across guys and that is a major reason why this running game just can’t seem to get going. The backside pursuit is always there because Zeitler can’t cut anyone off. I’m alarmed by this.

        EDGE

        -Lorenzo Carter appears to be one of the very few bright spots on the team. By no means is he filling up the stat sheet but for three straight games he is making an impact. He had a pass break up, a TFL, and a pressure to go along with his 2 tackles. There is still a ways to go here, but one positive gain I’ve seen with him is what I call contact presence. He is making his presence felt when he comes in contact with ball carriers and blockers alike.

        -Oshane Ximines seems to be ahead of Markus Golden on the depth chart for good. He finished with 5 tackles but also missed 1. He was uneventful as a pass rusher but there was a play where he, literally, sent Niners tackle Mike McGlinchey airborne and onto the ground. That was a really nice display of power by him. Golden looks worse than we have seen him throughout his NYG tenure. He lacks juice, doesn’t have secondary moves, and gets swallowed by blockers in the running game.

        DEFENSIVE TACKLE

        -Leonard Williams put in a really solid effort from start to finish.  Say what you want about the trade (something that can’t be held against Williams), he is constantly on of the highest-effort players on the defense. In addition, he ended with 5 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL, and 1 pressure. When this kid gets single-teamed, he almost always wins.  This defense needs to find a way to get him on an island against blockers more often.

        -Dalvin Tomlinson finished with a positive grade as well. He had 5 tackles, 2 TFL, and 2 pressures. His north/south game has looked outstanding. He gets out of his stance in a hurry with powerful movement and punch. He still looks too stiff when adjusting and reacting laterally but you can’t ask for too much here. Really solid player that does a ton of dirty work but now he is consistently stepping up to make impact plays.

        -Dexter Lawrence had a rough game. When SF began to run the ball well, Lawrence was often the culprit. He usually holds his ground well but he got shifted side to side too often, opening up running lanes.

        LINEBACKER

        -If there is one MVP to the season so far, it is unequivocally Blake Martinez. He finished with 9 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL, and 1 pressure. He fits the defensive front seven like a glove. A guy who reads the initial action so well, scrapes over the top, and knows when to fill. His best trait we’ve seen on display, besides intelligence, is how good of a finisher he is. When he gets there, the play is over.

        -Kyler Fackrell and Devante Downs may not play the same exact position or role, but no matter where you want to label them, both struggled in this one. Downs was torched in coverage several times. He just has no feel in that department. Fackrell added 4 tackles and physical play but also missed 2. He had zero success as a pass rusher.

        CORNERBACK

        -James Bradberry, the other free agent signing who has paid early dividends to this Giants team, finished with 3 tackles and 3 pass break ups. His length and timing have been superb. He looks like a keeper. Logan Ryan had an up-and-down game with 2 pass break ups, a QB hit, and 7 tackles. He is a physical guy. However, he missed 2 tackles and got caught in no-man’s land in coverage on more than one occasion.

        -The rest of the cornerback group was maddening to watch. Darnay Holmes had an awful day. He was targeted multiple times on 3rd down and SF was a near-100% success rate when throwing at him. He doesn’t have the speed to react physically and I don’t see him making any quality reads.

        -Isaac Yiadom really hurt this defense in the second half. After a nice pass break up in the end zone early, he was allowing so much separation underneath and SF just nickel-and-dimed their way up the field because of it. They didn’t attempt one deep ball the entire game, yet Yiadom was playing like he was scared to get beat deep. He had a 3rd-and-2 assignment where he allowed 9 yards between him and the line of scrimmage post-snap with no underneath help. The result? Easy first down. He did this twice. Unacceptable from a veteran.

        SAFETY

        -While Julian Love did lead the team with 11 tackles, I thought he played poorly. Safeties need to take the right angles when pursuing to the outside. He didn’t. One of them resulted in a McKinnon touchdown. He lacks presence as a tackler and he doesn’t seem to get to where he needs to be in coverage. Time for him to grow up. If he is going to play the run like that, he needs to make up for it by making plays in coverage.

        -Jabrill Peppers left the game early with an ankle injury.

        SPECIAL TEAMS

        -K Graham Gano: 3/3 (Made 52, 42, 47)

        -P Riley Dixon: 1 punt / 54.0 avg / 54.0 net

        3 STUDS

        -LB Blake Martinez, DT Leonard Williams, K Graham Gano

        3 DUDS

        -OT Andrew Thomas, LB Devante Downs, CB Darnay Holmes

        3 THOUGHTS ON SF

        1. I can’t give enough credit to this organization as a whole, notable their Head Coach and General Manager. There is something to those two guys (Shanahan and Lynch) starting their tenure with the team at the same time. Success can be, and has been, had in different ways when it comes to the General Manager/Head Coach relationship, but I think the ideal way to set this up is to have them start the new vision at the same moment. These guys are on the same line of the same page every week of every year. Respect.
        1. When you have such a deep roster filled with elite level talents (Kittle/Bosa/Warner/Williams to name a few) and they are backed up by quality players you draft in all rounds, it opens the door for risk taking on oft-injured players. Some teams do it and hope to get lucky that these guys come in and revert to their former every-down ways. Not elite personnel decision makers. The Niners took injury related risks on TE Jordan Reed, CB Jason Verrett, RB Jerick McKinnon, and OT Trent Williams. If they pan out, their team has an overly-stacked feel to it. If they don’t pan out, their fall back plans are just fine.
        1. Can SF be one of the rare teams that has playoff success following a Super Bowl loss? More often than not, a team that loses the Super Bowl regresses a lot. This team lost a few big parts from their NFC Championship team, but I think these guys are heading toward 11-12 wins at least. Their personnel is good and deep and their coaching is, literally, top shelf.

        3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

        1. I thought about this for a while and confirmed it in my own mind. In my opinion, this is the worst loss I’ve seen NYG have in over a decade. Now, I know this NYG team has low expectations but they were up against a team that was missing or lost their #1 QB, #1 and #2 RB, #1 and #2 TE, #1 WR, #1 OC, # 1 and #3 EDGE, #1 DT, #2 LB, and #1, #2 CB, and #3 CB. To put that into perspective, lets act like the Giants were playing without Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Dion Lewis, Evan Engram, Kaden Smith, Sterling Shepard, Nick Gates, Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, Leonard Williams, Devante Downs (maybe not a bad thing), James Bradberry, Logan Ryan, and Corey Ballentine. Imagine having none of those guys. Then going across the country and beating a team 36-9. SF didn’t punt the ball once. Last time they did that, Steve Young was their QB and Jerry Rice was their top wideout. They had drives of 10, 12, 12, and 15. They were successful on 67% of their 3rd downs. The drives they didn’t reach 10+ plays were simply because they scored or they ran out of time. It doesn’t get much worse than that in my book.
        1. If the Giants continue on this path (heading toward one of the league’s worst records) and Daniel Jones remains a turnover machine, you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be banging the table for one of the likely elite QB prospects coming out. In today’s NFL, having a true stud back there is near-vital to sustained success. While one could make the argument that NYG isn’t ready for a “start-over” at that position, I lean the other way. There are pieces in place (OT, RB, LB, CB) and they will have plenty of money to spend. The draft is a long ways off but it hard to neglect the mere thought.
        1. Now, back to some reassuring talk. We knew this season was likely a long shot for NYG. A first time head coach. A young roster that we knew had several holes. A quarterback who had yet to start 16 games. We want this season to show eventual signs of progress by the time January rolls around. We want to see some young players step up who they can use to build around for the future. Look at the Dolphins a year ago, who started a new tenure with a young, former Patriots assistant as well. They began 0-3 with a deficit of 133-16 (NYG is currently at 79-38) . It didn’t get much better until the second half of the season. By no means are they a contender yet but they are building pieces and finding talent to use down the road. They went on a spending spree this past offseason and should have their shiny new QB ready to rock next season around a solid roster. My comparison is this: NYG fans are going to have to accept poor football this year in all likelihood. Maybe the NFC East being down can keep things interesting, but the point remains, they are 1-2 years away unless they are miraculously lucky. That is simply the truth and the way it is. Everybody is sick of hearing “be patient”…but when Judge was brought in, that was the number one thought that came to mind. We are in the process. Look for the small positives that this team can feed off of in the coming years.
        Sep 252020
         
        Share Button
        Game Preview: San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants, September 27, 2020

        THE STORYLINE

        Besides being mismanaged for the past decade, I think we’re all coming to the conclusion that the New York Giants are jinxed. Perhaps its payment for the two miracle Super Bowl runs in 2007 and 2011, but if I’m John Mara, I’m hiring some sort of exorcist or witch doctor at this point to get good karma back on my side.

        If Dave Gettleman’s rebuilding plan was to work, two things had to happen:

        1. Saquon Barkley being the best player in the 2018 NFL Draft and not suffering a potential career-altering injury.
        2. Daniel Jones being a franchise quarterback and also not suffering a potential career-altering injury.

        I’ve seen many Giants fans try to minimize the ACL tear/partial meniscus tear to Barkley’s right knee, but there is no positive way to spin this. The injury is a disaster. There is a reasonable chance that Barkley, whose game is built on agility and speed, will never quite be the same player again. Yes, medical procedures have come a long way, but for every example a fan can provide of a success story, there is an example of a player never who regains his old form. At best, Barkley’s shelf life just took a big hit and the Giants will have to strongly consider whether it is worth the risk to re-sign him to a mega-contract when his rookie deal expires. Many of us felt Barkley was the right pick in 2018, provided he did not suffer a serious injury early in his pro career. Well, he just did. If Barkley is not on this roster in 2023, 2024, 2025 and an All-Pro, then they blew the #2 pick in the draft.

        Bill Parcells famously said you are what your record says you are. If you accept that metric, in the last 50 regular-season games, there is no worse team in the NFL than the New York Giants. And now the Giants have just lost their best player. They also just placed another one of their better players, Sterling Shepard, on Injured Reserve. Bad teams usually can’t take hits like that and get better. Unless the Giants have some tricks up their sleeves, we’re looking at yet another season being over by October.

        THE INJURY REPORT

        • LB Carter Coughlin (hamstring – probable)
        • CB Brandon Williams (groin – questionable)
        • S Adrian Colbert (quad – doubtful)

        NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE

        It’s usually unwise to use team stats when teams have only played a couple of games. This is especially true in the case of the Giants given that they have faced two of the toughest defenses in the NFL. Nevertheless, even the most casual fan recognizes that the Giants simply are not generating enough yardage and points. The Giants currently rank 29th in yards and 32nd (dead last) in points. The Giants have scored three touchdowns in two games, and one of those came in garbage time. Now the Giants are without Barkley and Shepard. Yikes.

        The loss of these two is significant. Overnight, the Giants running back situation turned from a team strength into perhaps one of the worst units in the NFL. Devonta Freeman may end up being a very good signing, but he is way behind and not in game shape. Because of the latter, don’t be surprised if he gets hurt. Dion Lewis is more of a 3rd-down back the past two coaching staffs have thought enough of Wayne Gallman to not even activate him on game day.

        Many fans argued that the team’s wide receiver corps wasn’t good enough before the season started. Those who argued the opposite (including me) said that Darius Slayton, Golden Tate, and Sterling Shepard were good enough PROVIDED they stayed healthy. Tate has already missed one game and Shepard will be out at least three. Now the Giants will have to rely on waiver-wire pick-ups such as C.J. Board, Damion Ratley, and practice squad players. Is this now the worst group in the NFL?

        Everyone keeps telling us we haven’t seen the real Evan Engram. And that Engram will make up for any deficiencies at wide receiver. Engram is in his 4th season. He keeps disappearing for long stretches. It’s now or never, but I think most of us are not holding our breath. Personally, I’d like to see more of Kaden Smith.

        I do think the Giants have the horses up front on the offensive line to EVENTUALLY become a good unit, PROVIDED Nick Gates develops at center. I think most of us are thus far pleased with Andrew Thomas and Will Hernandez on the left side. They will get better as they grow together. The right side should start looking stronger once the Giants move past the killer defenses on their current schedule (including the 49ers). And as I said last week, long-term solutions such as Shane Lemieux and Matt Peart are on the roster. But the Giants need Gates to improve or this really won’t be getting “fixed” until another offseason.

        This brings us to Daniel Jones. So much depends on him right now. And unfortunately he is saddled with perhaps the worst running back and wide receiving corps in the NFL, a feature tight end who disappears for long stretches, and an offensive line that is a long way from being a cohesive unit. To put this in perspective, consider the surrounding talent Eli Manning had around him in 2004-2006. There is no comparison. And yet there is a group of fans just waiting for his next turnover so they can say, “I told you so!” The calls for drafting another quarterback will increase, especially as the team’s record worsens. Not an enviable position.

        So what can we look forward to? My focus on the next 14 games is going to be on Jones, the offensive line, and Slayton. But the “to do” list keeps expanding. The Giants have to draft a running back next year. Probably a tight end. Definitely more receivers. Maybe a center. It doesn’t feel like progress is being made.

        NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

        The irony is that before the season, fans felt that Patrick Graham was more of a question mark than Jason Garrett. Again, it’s early and opinions can still rapidly change, but statistically, the Giants defense has improved from 25th in yardage and 30th in points in 2019 to 4th in yardage and 11th in points, respectively. Yes, small sample size. But a promising start, especially when one considers the short comings at edge rusher and in the secondary.

        Let’s get the negative out of the way first. Graham’s style is unconventional and that doesn’t sit well with some. No down linemen and/or three-man rush on 3rd-down isn’t a good look when it doesn’t work. The much-maligned Bears’ offense was over 50 percent on 3rd down conversions last week. The Giants are 25th in run defense (not acceptable). Corner play opposite of James Bradberry is an issue. Jabrill Peppers still looks like a better athlete than player. The Markus Golden of 2019 has yet to show up. Why was Devante Downs kept over Ryan Connelly again?

        The good news is (thus far) the team looks like it made the right decisions on its two high-priced free agent acquisitions, Blake Martinez and Jame Bradberry. Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill, and Austin Johnson are a strong group of 3-4 defensive linemen. Lorenzo Carter and Kyler Fackrell have flashed. I expect Logan Ryan and Darnay Holmes to make some noise soon. There are young linebackers waiting in the wings. The point is there is a base to build around, to add pieces to. Adding an edge rusher and cornerback (damn the Deandre Baker fiasco) in the offseason would do wonders, provided now the Giants don’t have to spend those assets on offense!

        Moving forward, what we want to see is (1) improved run defense, (2) improved 3rd-down pass defense, and (3) more turnovers. The Giants did not generate any turnovers in Week 1 but did create two in Week 2. More of that is needed given the issues on the offensive side of the football.

        NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

        Old Giants fans will remember a time when the offense was so bad that any chance at a win came from the defense and special teams play. The Giants may have stunk for years in the 1970s-early 1980s, but their special teams units were often top notch. It feels a bit like old times to right now. I have complete confidence in our special teams and it’s the one part of the team where I think we can consistently out-play the opponent. I look forward to some game-changing plays soon. They are getting close.

        FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

        Head Coach Joe Judge on the 49ers defense: “They know all the coverage beaters you’re going to try to run on them. They know how you’re going to try to go ahead and get at their front in terms of scheming up the run game. They’re a very good penetrating front. Really, it all starts up front with these guys. They’re very disruptive. This is a turnover team, this is a penetration team, this is a pressure-on-your-quarterback team. It gives opportunities to the secondary and the backend. The linebackers are extremely fast. These guys can really move and flow behind that front in front of them. They’re very good in the pass game, they’re very effective in the run game. They don’t give up explosive plays. That’s the biggest thing. This team makes you commit to being a disciplined team and execute down the field, play after play after play. You watch them, they do a great job of just sitting back, letting you check the ball down and then tackling the ball in front of them. This is a tough opponent. You really watch their identity, I’d say their identity is how they fly around on tape and how they stand out at you with the physicality they play with.”

        THE FINAL WORD

        “The 49ers are really beat up. Their starting their back-up quarterback. Many of their best players are out!” Yadda, yadda, yadda. An injury-depleted 49ers team beat the crap out of the Jets last week. The Giants are not clearly better than the Jets. The 49ers have a very deep team with a proven coaching staff. They shouldn’t have much of an issue shutting down the NYG offense. And San Francisco is licking their chops over New York’s 25th-ranked rushing defense. Giants only steal one here if they win the turnover battle and/or making dramatic plays on specials.