Dec 202022
Azeez Ojulari, New York Giants (December 18, 2022)

Azeez Ojulari – © USA TODAY Sports


-Daniel Jones: 21/32 – 160 yards / 0 TD – 0 INT / 77.6 RAT

Jones added 35 yards on 10 carries. He led the NYG offense to 13 points and one touchdown. It was far from an impressive group-performance on tape, but the key here is what he did when it mattered most. Jones made several key plays in big moments that led to the win. NYG’s best drive of the year took place in the second quarter. They were up 7-3 and started on their own three-yard line. 18 plays and 97 yards later, Barkley scored a touchdown to give them a commanding 11-point lead which they carried into halftime. On this drive alone, Jones went 10/12 for 91 yards. Almost half of his completions and over 55% of his yards from the game took place here. He came up with a big-time throw on 3rd-and-9 and then another one on 4th-and-9. Both of which went to Richie James.

The other major positive in this game was the fact Jones did not turn the ball over. In a game like this, the turnover battle means as much as any component to the game. This is the ninth game Jones has not turned it over. This was the major red flag in Jones’ game early on, but undoubtedly the biggest improvement we have seen out of him. It is a good sign to see the player show he can make objective improvements that are vital to team success. While I would not say Jones put the team on his shoulders and led them through the fire, this was more of what I wanted to see. I care less about touchdowns and yards per attempt (5 yards per is VERY low) because of the handicap he is playing with at receiver. I do care about making the big throws in big moments. I do care about him protecting the ball. I do care about him creating opportunities on his own. Jones did all of the above. The quickness in getting the ball out made all the difference and it is amazing how much better the result is when he does so. It took him an average of 2.55 seconds to throw. It was the best of the year and I believe there is a correlation between that time and the offensive efficiency. The quality pass protection helped a lot, too.


-Saquon Barkley: 18 att – 87 yards – 1 TD / 5 rec – 33 yards

Now this is what we all want and what NYG needs out of Barkley. The funny part is, I knew after his first carry that we were going to be watching the best version of him. It was immediate energy. It was a lack of hesitation. It was the immediate acceleration and sharp cuts. Barkley did not blow the box score up, but on a day where the team gained 288 net yards, his 120 total were a big deal. The true value of having an elite back like this shows up in the second half. What were his second half numbers? 11 att / 74 yards – 2 rec / 14 yards. Jones carried NYG on the game’s most important drive in the second quarter, as noted above. It was Barkley that took it over on the second most important drive of the game which took place in the fourth quarter. With a five-point lead and 6:06 left, WAS had all three timeouts remaining. This is where having the elite back is near vital. Barkley (and the NYG offensive line) responded with four straight running plays. Gains of 12, 15, and 14 yards began the drive. The runs were some of the best I have ever seen out of Barkley including his long highlight-reel touchdowns. He pressed the hole, made subtle adjustments, showed spin moves while moving at a full rate of speed, and he fell forward.

I will touch on this below, but the contrast between the best version of Barkley and the worst is enormous. Why is that? Can it actually be solved with a better group of blockers? Because I’ll tell you what. The NYG offensive line had one of their best games of the year in this game. If they play at this level week to week (with the same bodies or new additions), does Barkley become a guy gaining 5-6 yards per carry every week and playing the role of closer? Does that change the long-term outlook? Watching him in the fourth quarter is what makes many hold onto the hope of what #26 could be here. And it is real. It is not just a fantasy. And the number one factor why it may be overlooked by most.

-Matt Breida added 12 total yards (6 rushing / 6 receiving). Not a major impact but he brought a physical brand to the game.


-Richie James continues to be one of the key players to this team who is stepping up when it matters. This time it was in a winning effort. He ended the game with 4 rec / 42 yards and returned two punts for 23 and 9 yards. Once again, we are not talking about taking over the box score, but he deserves the credit for shining in big moments. He caught all but one target. Three of his catches went for a first down. He was the recipient on 3rd-and-9 and 4th-and-9 conversions. He added 19 yards after the catch.

There are 51 NFL receivers who have caught 42 passes this season. James is 1 of 10 who have dropped 1 or zero balls. As I said last week, he is the one guy who I trust the most to get himself open and now he is proving he can be the go-to guy on conversion attempts.

-Isaiah Hodgins continues to impress and build his rapport with Jones. Four targets, four catches. The classic possession receiver is a tough and hard-nosed dude with plus-route running ability. That works in this league. The big play potential may not be there, but he is going to help move the chains. He’s done so 9 times over the last three games and Jones passer rating is 133.3 when throwing his way.

-Darius Slayton had 5 catches for 23 yards. He did not get any real looks downfield. NYG tried to kill the WAS pass defense with a thousand paper cuts. I would have liked to see one or two deep balls to Slayton. But the game plan was evidently short, quick passes and feeding Barkley.


-Daniel Bellinger played a career-high 98% of the snaps while Nick Vannett and Chris Myarick only saw 16% and 10%, respectively. Bellinger was targeted 3 times, bringing in just 1 of them for 4 yards. He dropped a ball at the end of the third quarter that was a result of him simply not getting his head around fast enough. He has good, strong hands but the timing was simply off by a second there. Vannett’s catch went for 15 yards.

The group did a nice job on the edge in the running game. NYG’s run-success was between the tackles so these guys did not factor much, but they both had successful wham blocks on successful plays.


-Andrew Thomas allowed just one pressure on a play where the rusher used an inside move at the same time Jones had to step up into the pocket. Otherwise, a very good pass blocking game for the left tackle. But I thought he left some on the table in the running game. There was a little too much upper-lean to his game. Evan Neal got off to a rough start, but I thought he stabilized as the game went on. He also performed well in key spots. That said, he allowed 3 pressures and was flagged for a false start. Being matched up against Montez Sweat is no small task (second in NFL In QB hits) and he allowed Sweat to hit Jones just once without much help. He was also a force in the running game.

-Nick Gates (21 snaps) and Ben Bredeson (42 snaps) split time at left guard. They were both excellent. This was Bredeson’s first action since Week 7 in Jacksonville. I would love to know the plan here because I have a strong opinion that Bredeson at guard and Gates at center would give this offense their best line. I don’t think it will sway it too much, though. And one can make the case that the rotation will help keep these guys fresh. It appeared to help in the fourth quarter in this game, when the OL really took over.

-Nice work by Mark Glowinski. Two weeks ago, in his first matchup against WAS and Daron Payne, he ended up on the “Dud” list. This is one of the values to an experienced player who shows the blue-collar style of play at the absence of pure ability. Get beat, study film, go to a different part of the tool box, and try again. It worked. He threw multiple key blocks on their successful running plays and allowed just one pressure. Center Jon Feliciano allowed a TFL (5 yards) and was flagged for holding. He was excellent in pass protection when it came to help and staying home on stunts.


-NYG does not win this game without Kayvon Thibodeaux. Plain and simple. You draft edge defenders high with the expectation they take games over. Not every week, not even every other week. But multiple times throughout the year they simply take over. 12 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 pressure, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 touchdown. The grand slam (sack + FF + FR + TD) changed the game. It was one of the most athletic plays I have seen league-wide this year from a pass rusher. Thibodeaux, like Barkley, is playing with an increased sense of speed and twitch. It is turning into power, he is playing with great pad level, and opposing blockers are having a really hard time with it. The icing on the cake is the hustle he is showing. This dude emptied the tank, he gave the team everything he had. We saw him hustling downfield over and over. When the best players are the hardest working players, it is amazing what happens to the culture.

The one negative on his sheet will be the multiple times he got beat on the edge as a run defender. Like Wink Martindale, there is a wide spectrum of results with the way he plays the run. We saw the good (making plays behind line of scrimmage), but there were four separate times where he either got sucked in by a fake or took the wrong angle against the blocker. And they all resulted in big gains. Coaches will see that on tape.

-Azeez Ojulari added 4 tackles, 2 pressures, a half-sack, and a half-TFL. Solid, disruptive game and his mere presence on the other side has helped Thibodeaux put together a strong consecutive set of games. I like how he seems to increase his impact in the second half of games.

-Jihad Ward played a season-low 26 snaps and was not involved in much action. The lack of speed in pursuit almost allowed Taylor Heinicke to get into the end zone on the final drive but Thibodeaux saved the day. Tomon Fox and Oshane Ximines saw a little bit of playing time and did not make an impact. In games like this, it really comes down to the main two guys on the outside.


-Leonard Williams was back. While he didn’t play his best football, his presence is a difference maker. Having the front four of Williams-Lawrence-Ojulari-Thibodeaux is so crucial. It is a quartet that complements each other so well. Williams recovered a fumble and added a pressure in the fourth quarter. He stepped up when it mattered most.

-Dexter Lawrence continued his quality play. It was the second straight week we saw him under 75% of the defensive snaps, but he still ended with 3 tackles, a half-TFL, 3 pressures, and a forced fumble that NYG recovered. Like Williams, I thought his best football was played in the biggest moments.

-Henry Mondeaux, Justin Ellis, and undrafted rookie Ryder Anderson all played 12 snaps each. Anderson made the standout play, a sack (second in as many weeks) and continues to show what I saw over summer. There is something this team can work with here. The ceiling is high and he has a game similar to a young Leonard Williams (scaled back of course). Mondeaux and Ellis were run plugs and not much more. The run defense issues have more to do with the second level, and these guys are doing a good job of eating blockers and holding their ground, but neither are getting off blocks and making any plays. I would like to see one or two from each.


-When it comes to quickly filling running lanes, creating less space to work with is key to a downhill, early-down rushing attack WAS uses. Jaylon Smith mightily struggled here in the first half when the WAS running game was really moving. He did pick it up in the second half and he had 9 tackles, but he also allowed 3 catches on 3 targets for 35 yards. This has become a focal point to pick on by opposing offenses.

-Rookie Micah McFadden was better at getting into the inside running lanes quickly, but the lack of lateral range caught up to him. A good run defense needs that backside pursuit to be there, and I am not sure he has it. Landon Collins saw some real playing time in the second half and made two impressive tackles at the line of scrimmage. I like what Collins brings to the table and I think he is going to be a big part of the defense moving forward.


-Fabian Moreau was put on shadow-duty against Terry McLaurin once again. It resulted in 5 catches for 66 yards on 5 targets. The help over the top on vertical routes from Julian Love was a factor in McLaurin never having the explosive play.

-Cor’Dale Flott was tested multiple times downfield. While he did not break up anything up, I liked the movement traits once again. He needs to eventually progress with the ball skills and making plays, but the ability to play sticky is most important. He has that down on multiple levels of the route tree. There are major concerns with him as an outside run defender, however. He is getting overmatched physically.

-Nick McCloud and Darnay Holmes were the weak points of the defense in the secondary. McCloud allowed a touchdown and dropped an interception. While it goes down as a pass breakup, that is a play that simply needs to be made. While I am careful to put him down at all considering he was added via waivers and has exceeded expectations, I cannot look past the blown opportunity at game-changing plays. Holmes was penalized for the 8th time this year, second most in the NFL. And he got away with a blatant pass interference on the final WAS offensive play of the game. On that same drive, he allowed a huge play in coverage. Defenses know who to pick on in big spots.


-I like what we are seeing on a week-to-week basis from Jason Pinnock. He has run away with the starting safety job from Dane Belton while McKinney is out. He had 5 tackles, a forced fumble, and 2 pass breakups in addition to an untouched pressure. Pinnock’s closing speed is such a factor on outside runs. He is also limiting yards after the catch with quick, sure tackling.

-Julian Love added 7 tackles and missed one, while Tony Jefferson provided extra physical play with 2 tackles himself. NYG has been getting torched in the front seven against the run, but these safeties have stopped the bleeding.


-K Graham Gano: 2/2 (Made 50, 50)
-P Jamie Gillan: 5 punts / 42.6 avg – 41.8 net


-EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, WR Richie James, K Graham Gano


-CB Darnay Holmes, OT Evan Neal, CB Nick McCloud


(1) As the broadcast did a nice job noting, this loss makes the playoff odds for WAS take a nosedive. While they’re not out of it, they pretty much have to win two of their last three to have a shot. They are playing at a motivated SF next week, a game I can’t see them winning. Then two home games against CLE and DAL. Their hope may need to be that DAL would be resting starters in that game. SEA has games against NYJ and LAR remaining. DET has games against CHI, CAR, and GB remaining.

(2) Brian Robinson’s story is one of my favorite of the year. Getting shot, coming back much sooner than expected, and then taking the number one job in the backfield all within months of each other tells us a lot about the character of the man. That and his running style are going to cause problems for the Giants for years. The ideal blend of power, aggression, and quick speed.

(3) During the broadcast, color commentator Chris Collinsworth noted how vital it is for a team to have that third receiver in the passing game. Not sure if he is thinking Curtis Samuel is a real number two guy or not (I don’t), but I think he is one short. A real passing game that strikes fear into a defense needs four targets. Without the amount of nickel and dime being played and how quickly pass rushers are disrupting the timing now, I think the number is four. Three of them need to be receivers, and the fourth can be a tight end or a running back. Goes to show how far away NYG currently is from that kind of potential and how long it can and will take.


(1) Why do we see a difference in movement traits with Barkley throughout the year? As I noted above, the first five steps of his first carry were all it took for me to note we were going to see the best version of him. Speed, burst, agility, stop and go. All of it. I did a quick look at games of his on grass in 2022 vs. games on turf. On grass, he averages 6 yards per touch and just 4 yards on turf (73 carries – 431 yards / 18 rec – 124 yards on grass and 196 carries – 739 yards / 29 rec – 170 yards on turf). All of this talk when it comes to the non-contact injuries on the turf could certainly be a block between Barkley and his ability. Something to think about and track.

(2) While we can all agree NYG is still early in the process of building a Super Bowl contending roster, I will say something about where they currently sit. This is the kind of team you get a little scared to play against in the playoffs. They have the tools to be very competitive if/when they get a lead. A running game that is capable (albeit inconsistent) of taking over late in games. A pass rush that now has four credible weapons if they stay healthy. There is more to it than that, I know. But those two pieces, when clicking, can do a ton of damage in cold weather games.

(3) Yes, when it comes to projected odds, NYG has a 90+% chance of making the playoffs. In my opinion, that means next to nothing. They need to get at least another win. 9 is the number you feel good about and they’re simply not there yet. MIN is a tough matchup. PHI Week 18 could still be a high-effort game for the Eagles because of home field advantage. And yes, the IND game looks easy on paper, but I still don’t think NYG is the kind of team that can look past anyone in that kind of situation. This win in WAS had some deeper meaning than just the micro-level result. I can’t help but continue to think down the road here and how much this game against MIN can mean for the culture-build. Emotional wins like this, league-wide, tend to lead to a letdown. I want to see the same effort against the Vikes. That will mean something beyond the result.

Dec 162022
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (December 4, 2022)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

To date, the New York Football Giants have had an NFC East problem. The facts are right in front of us:

  • Overall record: 7-5-1
  • NFC East record: 0-3-1
  • Record outside of the division: 7-2

And any serious fan of this team knows this has been a problem for years. The Eagles are 23-6 against the Giants in their last 29 games. The Cowboys are 11-1 against the Giants in their last 12 games. Even against lowly Washington, the Giants are 0-2-1 in their last three games.


The obvious answers are talent and coaching. But if you dig a little deeper, the real problem appears the Giants are simply losing the battles within the trenches more than anything else. The other teams in the division have better offensive lines, and the teams in the division have been better and deeper in the front seven on defense. The Giants took steps to rectify these problems in offseason, including with both 1st-round picks, but they still are bringing up the rear in the division and a lot more talent acquisition remains to be done in order to close the gap.

The Eagles are clearly the best team in the NFC, and their 48-22 dismantling of the Giants last Sunday demonstrated just how much better they are than Big Blue. The Cowboys swept the Giants, but those contests were closer. Dallas is also clearly the better team, but the Giants can compete with them. The Commanders and Giants are fairly equally matched, as indicated by their 20-20 tie two weeks ago. However, injury issues on the Giants, particularly in the secondary, but also on the offensive line and in the receiving corps, most likely give the Commanders the tactical edge at this point in time. Washington has also had three weeks to prepare for the Giants (the week before the last game and the past two weeks since they had a bye week) and is almost completely healthy with no players missing practice this week.

Nevertheless, right now, everything is in front of the Giants. They are not a super-talented team. They have injuries. They are 0-3-1 in their last four games. But they are still 7-5-1 in mid-December. Their playoff fate is still in their own hands. Technically, the Giants are in 4th-place in the NFC East. The 7-5-1 Commanders have a better division record. But if the Giants beat the Commanders, they will own the head-to-head match-up and be in the driver’s seat for Wild Card spot. For all intents and purposes, Sunday night’s game is almost as important as a playoff game. It is probably the most important game this team has played since the 2016 season.


  • WR Richie James (concussion – questionable)
  • TE Daniel Bellinger (rib – questionable)
  • OG Josh Ezeudu (neck – out)
  • OG Shane Lemieux (toe – out)
  • DL Leonard Williams (neck – questionable)
  • OLB Jihad Ward (concussion – questionable)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (knee – out)
  • CB Nick McCloud (illness – questionable)
  • LB Micah McFadden (neck/ankle – probable)

The Washington Commanders have a damn good and well-coached defense. They are currently 4th in the NFL overall and one of the most balanced defenses, being 9th against the run, 7th against the pass. They are also 10th in scoring defense. Two weeks ago, despite playing four full quarters and 10 minutes in overtime, the Giants were held to 316 total net yards (134 yards rushing and 182 yards passing). While quarterback Daniel Jones was 25-of-31 (104.3 QBR), only missing on six passes, including a costly drop by Darius Slayton, the Giants average gain per pass play was just over five yards. A bigger issue was that Saquon Barkley was held to 63 total yards with only three of those yards embarrassingly coming after halftime.

Pundits and fans can point fingers everywhere: coaching, quarterback, wide receiver, running back, tight end, offensive line. All had a role in the team’s inability to score a single point in the 1st and 4th quarters, as well as overtime. Indeed, had it not been for Azeez Ojulari’s sack-fumble-recovery early in the 3rd quarter, the Giants’ offense would not have been given a very short field to score their final points of the game. Their final seven possessions resulted in six punts and a missed field goal, gaining only six first downs, three of which came on one drive. After the 20-yard drive for a touchdown at the beginning of the 3rd quarter, the Giants gained only one yard for the rest of regulation. It was ugly.

If I was to pinpoint one primary problem for the NYG offense in that game, it was the inability of LG Nick Gates, OC Jon Feliciano, and RG Mark Glowinski to block stud defensive tackles Daron Payne (4 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 TFLs) and Jonathan Allen (8 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 forced fumble). Both of these players were wreaking havoc both against the run and the pass. The New York offensive tackles actually held up well in this game, but the interior line just couldn’t handle the strength of the Commanders’ defense. Gates is still rounding into form after a long layoff from a career-threatening leg injury. Feliciano and Glowinski played despite neck and back injuries, respectively, that made them both questionable for the December 4th game against the Commanders. Hopefully, all three play better.

Saquon Barkley said he had a great week of practice and readily admits his team needs him now to make big plays. Daniel Jones has a history of playing extremely well at Washington (7  touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 111.4 QBR in 3 career starts there). But the Giants are not going to be able to do much unless Gates, Feliciano, and Glowinski play much better than they did on December 4th. It’s almost really that simple. Barkley and Jones can’t do their things if the line doesn’t give them room to operate.

“Those two D-tackles – especially Allen – I think he’s one of the better defensive tackles in the league,” said Gates this week. “And especially what he does, there’s not many other defensive tackles that can play in that body. They’re big, strong guys. The big thing is trying to keep them away from your body and move your feet on them. You don’t want them to get coasting.”

“Allen is one of the premier tackles in the league, one hundred percent,” Feliciano said. “He kind of gets, I don’t want to say ‘lost in the sauce’ there. They have a lot of first round guys… But Jon Allen is definitely a really, really good player.”

“There’s things that they do that definitely create problems,” Glowinski said. “But it will always be us controlling our techniques, making sure we’re putting ourselves in places to succeed, making sure that we’re (executing) proper assignments and things like that. There are things that pop up throughout the game. It’s just us making sure that we’re putting ourselves in the right position and place, making sure that we’re all on the same page, communications, fundamentals, just knowing where we’re going.”

One added advantage Washington will have this time is the return of top draft pick DE Chase Young. Like the Eagles and Cowboys, this is another team with a good secondary and New York’s talent-challenged receiving corps will likely struggle. Commanders get CB Benjamin St-Juste back. Slayton had a big 55-yard catch in the last game, but also had a huge drop. It sure would be nice if Kenny Golladay could make ONE freaking memorable play before the Giants cut him in the offseason.

Personally, I think Jones and Barkley have their fate in their hands. The contracts of both are up. Both will want big money. This is the biggest game of the season for the Giants. And in order for New York to win, both Jones and Barkley need to elevate the play of those around them and be difference makers. If they can’t do that, in a game like this, then I’m not sure these are the players to build around.

Giants fans have known for some time that this game was going to be the most important of the regular season. We had all hoped that FS Xavier McKinney and CB Adoree’ Jackson would be back for this contest, giving a huge boost to a New York defense that has increasingly struggled in their absence. Alas, it is not to be and the Giants will have to get by once again with their depleted secondary. In the last game, Taylor Heinicke threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions. WR Terry McLaurin caught 8 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. Slot receiver Curtis Samuel chipped in with 6 catches for 63 yards and WR Jahan Dotson had 5 catches for 54 yards and a costly touchdown. Tackling was an issue for the New York linebackers and secondary with the targets making big yards and scoring after the catch.

If that weren’t bad enough, the Giants also gave up 165 yards on the ground, allowing 4.6 yards per rush. Rookie RB Bryan Robinson out-performed everyone on the Giants, carrying the ball 21 times for 96 yards.

The reporters finally asked Wink Martindale about his unit’s struggling run defense. “It’s been a struggle,” replied Martindale. “We’ve played with more DBs than we ever have this year, just to change things up. So, I think that’s part of it. I think teams are just running the ball more and we’ve played three really good mobile quarterbacks.” (My interpretation of this is that Martindale feels like he has to play more defensive backs in order to prevent big plays in the passing game due to the talent dropoff. The tradeoff is weakening your run defense).

When asked about defending the edges, he responded, “I think there’s a multitude of things that we’re working on to try to remedy that. I don’t think it’s just always on the edges, I think there’s some right up the middle too that we’ve had some issues with. So, it’s like one of those things when you start working on it, you’re plugging the dike. I’m running out of fingers and toes to plug the dike. So, we’re just going to continue to work at it and try to get better and play better defense, coach better defense, and go attack this team just like we do every Sunday.” (Pure speculation here but I think Wink knows he needs better depth on the defensive line and better talent at inside linebacker).

The issue for the Giants against Washington two weeks ago wasn’t Dexter Lawrence or edge players Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, and Jihad Ward. They all played fairly well. Leonard Williams left the game with a neck injury that still has him limited. This will be his first action since leaving that game. It’s absolutely critical that he plays a full game and is effective in doing so. The Giants desperately need him. The drop-off to the no-name reserves is just too great. In addition, while both Micah McFadden and Jaylon Smith had their moments on December 4th, they also struggled in lateral pursuit. Like many running games today, the Commanders use a lot of sleight of hand and misdirection. Both inside guys need to play disciplined football.

The defensive keys are obvious. The same things that were true two weeks ago remain. Attempt to limit the damage of Robinson and the other running backs. Without Adoree’ Jackson, pray CB Fabian Moreau can do a better job in defending McLaurin this time around. Moreau may have had his worst day of the season that day. (To keep things in perspective with the Giants right now, remember Moreau, who is currently the team’s top healthy cornerback, was cut by the Texans in August). What may help the Giants is the return of slot corner Darnay Holmes, who missed the first game with a shoulder injury. The Commanders were able to exploit his replacement, Zyon Gilbert, at times in that game. The Giants also need a strong game from Nick McCloud, who has been battling illness all week. If he is under the weather, we may see more of Cor’Dale Flott or Rodarius Williams.

Washington’s interior offensive line is more consistent than New York’s. But the outside tackles had problems with Thibodeaux, Ojulari, and Ward. The Giants need more of that from these three this week. We also saw how big turnovers were in the December 4th game. A fumble by the Giants led to three points for Washington. A fumble by the Commanders led to a touchdown for New York. The team that wins the turnover battle will likely prevail on Sunday night.

One final point: New York’s tackling was atrocious in the last game against Washington. If they can clean that up, that could be the difference as well.

Despite the punt block, the Giants had two more costly special teams plays last week, including the botched punt and a 66-yard kickoff return. Special teams have been one of the most disappointing elements of New York’s play this year. In the last game between these two teams, the Giants did an OK job on punt and kick coverage, as well as punt and kick returns. Jamie Gillan had one of his better games with a net average of 42.7 with three punts downed inside the 20. Keep in mind that Washington has one of the best punters in the NFL. Returner Dax Milne, who missed the last game, returns and the Giants will have to deal with him this time around.

Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka on Washington’s two defensive tackles: “They’re aggressive, they’re violent, they get up field and they play almost every snap. They never come off the field. It’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

These are two teams that are relatively evenly matched, but Washington will have the advantages of playing at home, having three weeks to prepare for the same opponent, and being healthier. On the flip side, coming off a bye week can lead to rusty play. The Commanders get Chase Young back, but the Giants will also hopefully have Leonard Williams for a full game this time around. The addition of Darnay Holmes could be significant too. I would also not underestimate the rustiness of Gates, nor the injuries that Feliciano and Glowinski played with in the last game.

I’ll finish with what I said earlier. Jones and Barkley need to make plays in key situations. Turnovers and tackling are also huge.

Dec 142022
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (December 11, 2022)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports


-Daniel Jones: 18/27 – 169 yards / 1 TD – 0 INT / 96.1 RAT

Jones added 26 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Brian Daboll pulled him in the fourth quarter as the game simply got out of reach and he was taking so many hits. Jones saw the typical and expected amount of pressure and he was working against the typical number of mismatches all afternoon. He did not turn the ball over. He had an impressive string of passes in the second half. He made plays with his legs that most quarterbacks in the league did not. All of these were positives in a situation where everything about this matchup was simply lopsided in PHI’s favor.

The deeper part of my assessment is not as friendly. Jones had multiple opportunities to show progress in the area where he has come up short on multiple occasions. He did not come through. Besides the quick-fire, one-read throws, Jones struggled to work his eyes and hips to the open target. On 3rd-and-10 from midfield in the second quarter, Kafka called a crossing route concept. Darius Slayton going from left to right and Daniel Bellinger from right to left. They intersected right in the middle of the defense where linebacker T.J. Edwards was in coverage. Jones did not make the read, Edwards read Jones like a book, and the pass ended up being a near-interception by two different players. Meanwhile Slayton ends up wide-open for a potential first down. These are the plays that Jones needs to be making by now. They may not mean much to some, but they’re some of the most important make-or-break plays in NFL games week-to-week. You can’t have them all, but the good ones get most of them. Jones does not make half of them.

-Tyrod Taylor came in late for the final two drives. The first one ended in a lost fumble and the second one ended in a touchdown pass to Richie James. The highlight of that drive was a 32-yard run on 4th-and-15. There is not much to evaluate here, as he was playing behind the second-string offensive line and the game was nearly over.


-Saquon Barkley: 9 att – 28 yards / 2 rec – 20 yards

Barkley was close to not playing, as he suffered a neck injury that made him a game-time decision. His 20 snaps were by far a season low. This was the most overmatched I have seen NYG at the point-of-attack this year. Combine that with the early 21-0 deficit and Barkley’s injury, it seemed everything was set up for him to be a non-factor in this game. I think the low-snap count had more to do with the game situation than his injury. I fully expect him to be back to a normal snap count in their do-or-die match-up next week.

Since his 32-carry game against HOU, Barkley has run the ball 53 times for 152 yards and caught 13 passes for 64 yards over four games. That is an average of 13 carries / 38 yards and 3 catches / 16 yards per game. He is nursing shoulder and neck injuries. He is not hitting the hole hard; he is not getting through tackles. Barkley is breaking down over the course of the second half of the season for the second straight year, had an ACL injury that forced him to miss 13 games, one year after missing four games with an ankle injury. Economically, he is making less and less sense even though he is the most talented offensive player on the team.

-Gary Brightwell was the most impressive runner on the team with 23 yards on 5 carries and 18 yards on 2 catches. He had runs of 13 and 4 yards on his first two carries. Those carries and one in the fourth quarter were the hardest, most physical we saw a back run in this game. I think there is something in him that NYG can use more of. In limited playing time, he is averaging over 5 yards per carry and while we cannot overreact to that lone stat, NYG should be able to gravitate toward him a bit more. Matt Breida added 15 total yards and a drop.


-Richie James led the team across the board with 7 catches for 61 yards. He brought in a touchdown late despite taking a nasty hit to the head immediately afterward. Watching the All-22 made something blatantly obvious to me. James is on a different level among the other targets on this team when it comes to simply getting open. While it is a strength of his game, the margin between him and the others in separation is enormous. Easy to see why he is targeted more than the others and easy to see that is the one trait this receiver room needs to add in the offseason. I will touch on this below, but James was destroyed on blocking attempts near the line of scrimmage, and it had a bad impact on the running game.

-Isaiah Hodgins had 4 catches for 38 yards and a touchdown. Nice work by him on the score where he quickly recognized Jones in the scramble drill. He got and kept leverage on the PHI defender and used his body correctly to shield him off as the ball approached. Hodgins is a nice underneath threat, but the lack of long speed showed up early in the game when Jones took a deep shot to him. There is no final gear there to get over the top.

-Darius Slayton had just 2 catches but one went for a 37-yard gain, the biggest play of the day for NYG. He added his 6th drop of the year, the third straight season he has reached that number. Jones missed him open a couple times on what I think would have resulted in 10+ yard gains.


-Daniel Bellinger and Nick Vannett split the tight end snaps for the most part while Chris Myarick was on the field for just 4 plays. It was an uneventful day for the group. Bellinger caught 3 passes for 19 yards and Vannett brought 1 in for 9 yards. The PHI front is such a strong, stout group against tight ends on the edge. This was one match-up I knew would go against NYG and it certainly did. Neither are going to fare well in situations like that.


-This was a match-up nightmare for the NYG offensive line. Not just from a macro-perspective (PHI DL simply being better than NYG OL), but also from a micro-perspective. The holes in the games of the NYG line – player by player – were exploited greatly by the skillset of the individuals along the PHI defensive line.

-Andrew Thomas allowed a sack and was getting beat initially off the ball more than what we are used to seeing. Really though, it was a solid game minus the sack for Thomas. He showed good recovery tactics, his footwork looked lighter and faster, and he got push in the running game. Rookie Evan Neal, however, had maybe the worst game of his young career. He allowed 5 pressures and 2 sacks. Week after week, we are seeing him wind up on the ground over and over. You can’t block if you’re laying down on the ground. He is not bringing his feet with him when he moves laterally. Way too much reaching, way too much bending at the waist. His power is a difference maker, as seen with a few quality run blocks. But we only see this when his feet are in the right spot which, right now, is not often enough.

-Inside, Nick Gates allowed a TFL, a sack, and 2 pressures. He was beat off the ball by Milton Williams, one of the quicker DTs in the NFL, a few times and it was ugly. Gates biggest weapon, however, is the grit he shows in recovery mode. He plays through the whistle and plays with a lot of desire. That eventually makes a big difference. Gates also made a couple key blocks on bigger NYG gains.

-Mark Glowinski allowed a TFL and Jon Feliciano allowed a sack. Glowinski has looked completely overmatched for a couple straight weeks. I do not think taking him out will be in the cards, but his play has significantly declined. Having that kind of player next to Neal, a rookie who simply does not look ready, makes for some really tough sledding on the right side.


-Azeez Ojulari and Kayvon Thibodeaux played another strong game. Ojulari had 2 sacks and 4 tackles. This kid is an all-out hustler, all of the time. I love that about him, and it will create plays for the defense over time. Not all pass rushers keep their foot on the gas if they lose with their first and second moves. Ojulari has that T.J. Watt relentlessness to him that creates production. Thibodeaux did not fare well against the run, but he was disruptive again as a pass rusher. He had 3 pressures, one of which caused a sack, another caused a hold, and he could have been given credit for a half-sack on the one where Jalen Hurts was taken down near the goal line. The PHI tackles are top-notch players who play with tremendous power. Thibodeaux got under their pads and pushed the pocket well and also showed his outside burst. I am seeing more versatility out of his repertoire, and it is good to see him get stronger as the season goes on. Can’t say that for many players on this team.

-Jihad Ward did not play well as an edge setter. He was getting sucked inside by play fakes and his lack of speed/burst got exposed when the ball ended up going outside. He finished with just 1 tackle and did not break through as a pass rusher once.

-Tomon Fox and Oshane Ximines saw about a quarter of the snaps and neither showed up. No impact.


-Last week I spoke about the crazy amount of snaps Dexter Lawrence was seeing. With Leonard Williams out with a neck injury, I was intrigued to see what they were going to do with his workload. He played 72% of the snaps, his second lowest of the year and his lowest since Week 1. With the game out of hand the way it was, it was a good decision. We may see another 90+% day for him next Sunday. He finished with 1 tackle and 1 pressure, as he was doubled almost all afternoon.

-The trio of Ryder Anderson, Henry Mondeaux, and Justin Ellis played a significant number of snaps. Season highs for all three respectively, as a matter of fact. Anderson got off to a rough start, but I liked how he competed. He had 2 tackles and recorded his first career sack. Mondeaux and Ellis both finished with 1 tackle. They were simply overmatched and just could not beat blockers one-on-one. They lack the twitch, especially Ellis, to peel off their man and take out a ball carrier.


-Jaylon Smith tied for team-high 9 tackles, but it was a poor game by the veteran leader of the group. The PHI running game is a beautiful mix of scheme and execution. It is very tough to read and defend. Smith’s greatest weaknesses, anticipation and reaction time, were exposed in a big way. He is too slow to recognize, and the blockers got the angles on him. He was torched in the running game.

-Micah McFadden had 5 tackles and 1 TFL playing under half the snaps. I like the progress he is showing, and he continues to be a weapon between the tackles. Tae Crowder saw some action and missed a tackle and was owned by PHI center Jason Kelce on the Hurts rushing touchdown. Again, simply overmatched.


-The trio of Darnay Holmes, Fabian Moreau, and Nick McCloud got outclassed by the PHI passing game. While it was not a big day in the air because of how much the run game dominated, all three were beat in big moments. McCloud and Holmes were both beat for explosive touchdowns (20+ yards) and Moreau got flagged for illegal use of hands on a third-down stop. Another area where PHI is capable of just owning one-on-one matchups is at receiver. A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith are elite-level route runners. They can sell their double moves as well as anyone and both McCloud and Holmes are known for taking the bait. Those were easy wins in man coverage for PHI. I still think the biggest injury this team has suffered all year is Adoree’ Jackson. On a damn punt return.

One positive I see out of Holmes is the quick recognition of screen passes and underneath route concepts. When he is looking downhill at the action, he is at his best. Add in the aggressive nature and excellent play-strength for his size, he has some safety in him. I’ve thought of this before but never expanded much on it. While it is too late to make this kind of move for 2022, I will be curious to see if NYG or any team that eventually signs him would consider the move.

Cor’Dale Flott is showing quality coverage and foot speed. He is near the action and does not look overmatched in any kind of matchup despite the size shortcomings. That said, he is not forcing many incompletions. He is close, but I want to see him take that extra step toward actually breaking up a pass. There is still that slight hitch in his reaction to routes and it is forcing him just short of being in the right position at the catch point.

-Zyon Gilbert saw just 8 snaps but finished with a sack.


-Really solid efforts and performances from both Julian Love and Jason Pinnock. Because of the inability of the front seven and their run defense, both were given a ton of opportunities to make tackles. They combined for 18 (9 each) and didn’t miss a single one. Love strengthened his case for being considered the best tackling safety in the NFL and Pinnock’s play speed continues to improve. That tells me things are clicking mentally and when you see that with a lack of mistakes, good things are coming. He has put two solid games back-to-back now.

-Tony Jefferson was the third safety again. He made 3 tackles and added a pressure.


-K Graham Gano: 2/2 XP
-P Jamie Gillan: 6 Punts / 40.2 avg – 35.3 net


-EDGE Azeez Ojulari, S Jason Pinnock, WR Richie James


-OT Evan Neal, LB Jaylon Smith, EDGE Jihad Ward


(1) If I am taking one team to make the Super Bowl from the NFC, my answer is without hesitation the Eagles. This roster has been engineered so well by General Manager Howie Roseman, and the coaching staff has the players executing at such an elite level on both sides of the ball. I have seen All-22 tape of PHI 5 or 6 times this year and it is a true joy to watch. This is what top-shelf execution looks like on both sides of the ball. All angles, all situations, their timing and accuracy is precise. That along with the depth and fortunate injury situation has left them in the driver’s seat of this conference.

(2) Are there any lessons learned from how this roster was constructed that NYG can try to apply to their roster rebuild? I have a few. The top one being a dual threat quarterback who was not a first rounder. Remember that in a few months. The next one being a trade for a proven star receiver who became available at the right time. It was a pull-of-the-trigger that I think added the dynamic element to this offense that makes them truly elite, or at least capable of that level. Lastly, they add to their offensive / defensive lines every single year through the draft, free agency, and waivers. The depth they have and the value they’re paying for quality players in the trenches in the best in the NFL. Let’s hope Brandon Brown, the assistant general manager of the Giants from the Roseman tree, will bring in a similar approach and result.

(3) Haason Reddick is one of the best defensive players in the NFL. I mean that. If I had to create a list of the top 4 outside linebackers league wide, he is on it. I really wanted NYG to pursue him prior to signing a 1-year deal with CAR a couple years ago. Who knows where he would be now if they did, but they let him slip through the cracks. The size profile throws some people off but there is a player (maybe 2) in this upcoming draft class that reminds me a lot of Reddick. The size, speed, burst, and ability to move around a bit. This dude has always been a pure edge guy and the off-ball LB experiment did not work and almost pushed him out of the league. Now he is a potential All-Pro. Remember, always take what a guy does well and put him in that position. It is crazy how many NFL coaches do not do that with special talents.


(1) This game had a certain vibe to it. The same vibe NYG fans have gotten used to seeing in December. Complete domination on both sides of the ball. Getting toyed with by the opponent. A double-digit deficit before your first bathroom break-type vibe. Did we really get fooled that badly? Is NYG back in the cellar already? Injuries have piled up a bit but most of the nucleus to this roster is still out there. They have Barkley, they have their starting quarterback, they have most of their starting lines. And they were outclassed from start to finish. The more things change, the more they stay the same. This is what I and some others meant when we said this team is still far away from real contention.

(2) I have a serious concern with some of the run-game design. I am always hesitant to question play-calling and even more hesitant to question design. There is too much information I do not have access to. But I would love to get an answer why, three or four times, they had Richie James motion to the tight end’s spot behind the line of scrimmage (which brought another PHI defender into the box) and then ran a play right off of his shoulder. James got tossed out of the way like he was a fly, and the PHI defenders were in the backfield within a moment. Every time. And they kept calling this design over and over. It would be one thing if they did it with a receiver that had size (Hodgins?) – but they actually took the smallest player on the field and asked him to be a fullback/tight end hybrid. Watching the designs of these two running games was like watching the Lawrence Taylor getting blocked by a running back. A completely different league.

(3) The upcoming national spotlight game has a unique feel to it. While I am never in the camp where one game means so much more than every other, this match-up is close. They are up against one of the hottest teams in the NFL, on the road. They just played each other two weeks ago and WAS is coming off a bye. They’re getting healthier while NYG is losing more bodies. NYG has won just 1 game since the week before Halloween. Long term question marks surrounding the status of their QB and RB are creeping into more and more conversations because those decisions are right around the corner. They are still in playoff contention but make no mistake, they need to win this game. No excuses. No empathy pain. None of that. Win, or else. Perform, or else.

Dec 092022
Kayvon Thibodeaux, New York Giants (December 4, 2022)

Kayvon Thibodeaux – © USA TODAY Sports

The growing sense of gloom by New York Giants fans is understandable given 1-3-1 record over the course of the last five games. It has diminished the surprise and excitement of the 6-1 start. However, fans should not lose sight of the fact that this team has far surpassed preseason expectations, and had the Giants started off 1-3-1 and followed that up with a 6-1 surge, attitudes would be much different right now.

I keep saying the same thing, but the same thing needs to be keep being said: this is a rebuilding ball club. When the Giants hit the restart button again in January 2022 with the hiring of Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll, previous rebuilding efforts under different general managers and head coaches meant jack squat. Starting over means starting over. And if you really believe that Daniel Jones is not part of the answer moving forward, the current rebuilding effort is going to take a lot longer.

Exacerbating all of this is the competition in the NFC East. The two best teams in the conference are the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. One of these two teams is likely to be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl, and if they both meet in the playoffs, it is likely to be the game of the year in the conference. The Giants may have a winning record, a good coaching staff, and talented players, but the talent gap between the Giants and Eagles/Cowboys is huge. We’re not just talking about front-line starters here but overall depth as well.

Barring some unforeseen weirdness, the Eagles are going to easily defeat the Giants on Sunday. That’s not me being a pessimist or defeatist. The Eagles are simply a better team across the board on offense, defense, and special teams. There is a good chance they will be Super Bowl champions in a couple of months. The best the Giants can hope for this year is to limp into a Wild Card berth in a poor conference. On the flip side, there is also a good chance the Giants finish in last place in their own division again.

The main immediate competition for the Giants is the Washington Commanders, who the Giants play after the Eagles. That will be the game of the year for New York. Stealing a win against the Eagles would be fantastic, but due to tie-breakers, the second game against the Commanders is essentially a playoff game. The last thing the Giants need to happen is come out of the Eagles game with a loss and being more beat up. For psychological reasons, Daboll doesn’t want his team to be blown out by Philadelphia, but there has to be a great temptation to preserve his team’s strength and play it safe for the following week, when Washington will be coming off of a 2-week bye.

I get it. The frustration is growing that the Giants-Eagles and Giants-Cowboys are no longer real rivalries because these series are so one-sided. But the Giants are not at the same level as the Eagles. It is what it is.


  • RB Saquon Barkley (neck – questionable)
  • WR Richie James (knee – probable)
  • WR Kenny Golladay (illness – probable)
  • WR Marcus Johnson (illness – probable)
  • OG Josh Ezeudu (neck – out)
  • OG Shane Lemieux (toe – out)
  • DL Leonard Williams (neck – doubtful)
  • DL Henry Mondeaux (knee – probable)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (knee – out)
  • CB Darnay Holmes (shoulder – probable)
  • CB Nick McCloud (hamstring – probable)

This side of the ball is a mismatch. The Giants are 22nd in offense in the NFL. The Eagles are 2nd in defense. They also have the #1 pass defense in the NFL and will be facing a New York passing attack that scares no one.

The strength of the Eagles defensively, as it has been for years, is their defensive front. Again, it’s not just their front-line starters but their back-ups. They come at you in waves, just like the Dallas Cowboys do. The Eagles are second in the NFL in sacks with 42, averaging 3.5 sacks per game. Five players on the team have five sacks or more, led by LB Haason Reddick (9), DT Javon Hargrave (8), DE Josh Sweat (6.5), DE Brandon Graham (5.5), and DT Fletcher Cox (5). As we saw last week against the Commanders and their two fine defensive tackles, the interior of the New York offensive line is likely to mightily struggle against Hargrave and Cox in particular. RT Evan Neal will also have his hands full with Reddick.

Making matters worse is the Eagles have reached a new level defensively because of the play of their cornerbacks. The Giants wide receivers simply will not be able to get open against Darius Slay and ex-Giant James Bradberry, both of whom are playing at a top-notch level. The Eagles don’t give up big plays and the Giants don’t have the personnel to make big plays in the passing game. And the Eagles lead the NFL with a +13 turnover differential, having taken the ball away 23 times (15 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries).

The Commanders shocked everyone by beating the Eagles in Week 10. They did so because the Commanders ran the ball for 152 yards, limited wide receiver A.J. Brown to one catch, and won the turnover battle 4-to-2. The problem for the Giants is their interior offensive line is not as strong as the Commanders. It’s been one of the main reasons why the Giants’ offense has taken a step backwards in recent weeks. Worse, the Eagles have tightened up their run defense in recent weeks, controlling the likes of Derrick Henry as just one example. The Eagles are also not likely to turn the football over four times again.

The Eagles know their secondary can easily handle the Giants’ pass receivers. Defensively, they will dedicate their game plan to stopping Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones as runners.

Partly due to injuries, this side of the ball is also a mismatch. The Giants are 23rd in defense (18th against the pass, 26th against the run). The Eagles are 3rd in offense (12th in passing, 5th in rushing).

The Giants have two big problems. First, they have never been able to get their key defensive starters together on the field all year. Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale said on Thursday, “It’s just one of those years where you just walk around shaking our head like I can’t believe this because you’re playing so many different guys at different spots with the injuries that we’ve had.” So while the Giants get Azeez Ojulari back, Leonard Williams is now dealing with a neck injury. And the secondary is currently a mess with Xavier McKinney and Adoree’ Jackson out, and Darnay Holmes and Nick McCloud dealing with issues. The lack of depth is apparent. Again, it is what it is.

The second issue is the talent on the Philadelphia Eagles. Jalen Hurts has reached MVP-level performance as his passing game has evolved. He’s no longer just a running quarterback. “Jalen is getting into that level, that top-tier quarterback, because you can just see the jump,” said Martindale. “He’s really worked on his throwing mechanics, his footwork, and it’s paying off for him.” Despite being a downfield thrower (not dink-and-dunk), Hurts is completing 68 percent of his passes. He has thrown 20 touchdowns to just three interceptions with a quarterback rating over 108. Want to be more depressed? He’s still his team’s second leading rusher with 609 yards rushing and nine rushing touchdowns.

And with the NYG secondary ailing, guess who Hurts has to throw to? WR A.J. Brown (61 catches, 950 yards, 9 touchdowns) and DeVonta Smith (61 catches, 711 yards, 4 touchdowns). Both of these guys are game-breakers and will be matched up on New York’s no-name corners.

So you say the Giants have to win up front by stopping the run and getting after Hurts? Problem. The Eagles have no real weaknesses up front on their offensive line (RT Lane Johnson hasn’t given up a QB hit or sack all year). This group makes big holes for the Eagles’ 5th-ranked running game and gives Hurts tons of time to throw the ball. In fact, if you want answers to why the Eagles have owned the Giants for years, look no further than their dominance on the offensive and defensive lines. The Eagles win because they are strong up front. There is a lesson here for the Giants.

Mile Sanders is the team’s leading rusher with 924 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging almost 5 yards per carry. But be prepared for little used Boston Scott to continue his odd dominance against the Giants. Scott has eight career touchdowns against New York.

If the Giants are to pull off the upset, they have to dominate on special teams, something they have yet to do this year.

Defensive Coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale on the Eagles’ offense: “I was telling the defensive staff, I know they’re not going to play the Pro Bowl this year, but they’re playing it in Philly because they’re talented across the board.”

Brian Daboll has to play a delicate balancing act here. He needs to preserve his strength for the Commanders game. At the same time, if his team gets destroyed by the Eagles, that could have a bad psychological affect that impacts the following week. The Giants really don’t have the firepower (and the Eagles do) to play a go-for-broke, up-tempo game. They are likely once again limited to runs and short passes, trying to slow the game down and eat up clock in a desperate attempt to keep the score close. It’s hard to see the Giants keeping the game close unless they win the turnover battle and something strange happens on offense, defense, or special teams.

How much better are the Eagles? They’ve scored nearly 100 points more than the Giants this year in just 12 games.

Dec 062022
Jihad Ward, New York Giants (December 4, 2022)

Jihad Ward – © USA TODAY Sports


Daniel Jones: 25/31 – 200 yards / 1 TD – 0 INT / 104.3 RAT

Jones also led the team in rushing with 71 yards on 12 carries. He lost a fumble in the first quarter. Besides a spike toward the end of the first half to stop the clock, he completed his first 16 passes and had two more taken off the board because of penalties. Jones’ first true incomplete pass came in the fourth quarter with 1:45 left. That one was a drop by Darius Slayton on what may have been considered a poorly thrown ball, but more than good enough for Slayton to come down with. Jones went 8/8 (and one more spike to stop the clock) for 64 yards in overtime.

Because of the conservative decision making by Brian Daboll, we do not know if Jones could have led this team to a win. Did he leave much out there? No, not really. Jones got what he could have out of this JV-caliber group of pass catchers. The biggest question surrounding him and his long-term outlook revolve around can he shoulder the entire offense in key moments? Can he do it? NYG could have used this game to help answer that question and they cowardly walked in the other direction. Starting off 16/16 (minus the spike) and starting 8/8 in overtime (minus the spike). Having a deep ball dropped by Slayton that, had he come down with it, could have led to a game-winning field goal. The quick decisions and play-making ability he created with his legs. After watching the All-22, Jones played a good game, even keeping the first quarter fumble in mind. The lack of confidence Daboll showed on the 4th-and-3 was unwarranted from my perspective and may be more telling than some want to think. They do not believe in him. How many head coaches who are confident in their quarterback make that decision? Almost NONE.


Saquon Barkley: 18 att – 63 yards – 1 TD / 5 rec – 18 yards

60 of Barkley’s rushing yards came in the first half. So yes, between the third quarter, fourth quarter, and overtime Barkley carried the ball 7 times for 3 yards. NYG had the lead from the 11:40 point in the third quarter until 1:53 left in the fourth quarter. They ran ten offensive plays over that span and Barkley ran the ball three times for -1 yard. This is where I feel there is yet another disconnect between what the team is and what they said they would be. They have the bell-cow back. They have the second half lead. They have a terrible passing game. And Barkley gets one yard on three carries while WAS works their way back to a tie? Part of this can be play-calling, but the other part is, at least in my eyes, a lack of trust in Barkley.

There is no denying he is failing to put his shoulder down, break tackles, and show some blue collar in his game. He took a pass in overtime, looked at a defender about to meet him just beyond the line of scrimmage, and used his 225+ frame and tree trunk legs to drive the defender back multiple yards. NYG picked up seven on the play. He is clearly capable of playing the power game. He clearly does not do so on a consistent basis. A 225+ pound back with elite movement traits is averaging 2.75 yards after contact per carry. That ranks 28th in the NFL among backs with over 100 carries. Behind the likes of Devin Singletary, Isaiah Pacheco, Raheem Mosert, D’Onta Foreman, Tyler Allgeier, and Khalil Herbert to name a few. Multiple things needed to be better when it comes to this running game, but it starts with #26.


-Darius Slayton remains WR1 on this team across the board. He had a team high 6 catches and 90 yards, including a 55-yard catch where he made a great play on the ball. As usual, however, Slayton had arguably the biggest whiff of the day. He dropped another deep ball with 1:40 left in the fourth quarter of a tie game that would have put NYG into near-field goal position. He mistimed his jump for the ball, increasing the difficulty of the actual catch. He lost it when he hit the ground. A true #1 threat in the passing game who brings a consistent skill set to the table is by far the biggest need on this roster.

-Isaiah Hodgins has my attention and the attention of many others as well. He caught 5 passes for 44 yards including a touchdown. The two standout traits in his game that can make him stick here are the toughness after the catch and reliable route tempo. There are sharp, quick route runners but they do not always get open. Then you have guys who understand tempo, patience, and macro-level play sets. That is Hodgins. He also came up with two key first downs that completely stemmed from his strength and toughness. Hodgins is at least 215 pounds, and he brings some fire behind those pads when he has the ball. I feel good when it is thrown his way and he brings a couple elements to the table that others do not.

-Richie James added 3 catches for 20 yards and 12 punt return yards. James has caught 11 of his last 12 targets. I give him a lot of credit for bouncing back from the Seattle fumble issue.


-Welcome back Daniel Bellinger. His first game back after the eye injury sustained October 23. He caught all 5 targets for 25 yards. There is a better blend of talent when it comes to size and speed when comparing him to the revolving door of replacements NYG went with while he was out. He was beat routinely as a blocker, however. He allowed 2 pressures in pass protection and was flagged for a hold.

-Nick Vannett was the TE2 for this game, out-snapping Chris Myarick 30 to 8. Neither caught a pass and both allowed a pressure. Overall, a really poor game by the NYG tight ends.


-I was encouraged by the play of the two tackles. This was rookie Evan Neal’s first game back since injuring his knee October 23 in Jacksonville. I put the microscope on him early and it wasn’t pretty. He wound up on the ground four times in the first quarter. Huge red flag. But he responded well and picked it up as the game went on. He pitched a shutout in pass protection. Andrew Thomas allowed 1 pressure. There was a sack that some will put on him, but I did not. There were multiple communication issues on the offensive line throughout the game and it is hard to peg who that is on. When it comes to actual blocking, Thomas had a very good game.

-The interior of this line was a disaster. The WAS group is outstanding between the tackles. I have discussed them multiple times over the years and while the team has not been very good over that span, the interior DL is more than solid. I have also discussed the NYG interior OL shortcomings since my first in-person look at them in camp. It is a bad, bad group. Mark Glowinski allowed 2 sacks and a TFL, but he did throw a key block on the Barkley touchdown run. He was getting out-reached by Daron Payne over and over. Combine that with no anchor and you just have no shot in that scenario. Nick Gates got abused by Jonathan Allen athletically. He allowed 3 pressures and a TFL. Center Jon Feliciano was solid, showing quality movement to the outside. His taunting penalty was a questionable call but that was at least partially derived from his reputation. Feliciano is widely known as a guy who goes overboard with that kind of stuff. Whether the flex was meant for Slayton or not, it could have been easily avoided. And yet another sign that the numerous scuffles one gets involved in throughout their career will come back and bite you at some point.


-Azeez Ojulari played 30 snaps in Week 3 against Dallas. He played 30 snaps in Week 4 against Chicago. Entering this game, that was it. Finally back, he broke out with one of the best games of his young career. He was on the field for 49 plays and ended with a sack, a forced fumble that he recovered, and a team-high 5 pressures. The movement traits and power game were what I was most impressed by. Ojulari obviously put in work this past offseason on adding bulk and power (take notes Kayvon), but this was the first time we really got to see it in action. He was getting under the pads of blockers with tremendous knee + ankle flexion while maintaining an upright torso with balance. That all stems from lower body strength. If he stays on the field, he changes this defense.

-Rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux was second on the team with 4 pressures and he added a sack to go along with 5 tackles. He also penetrated on a running play that led to a TFL. While there is still some hesitation in his game that is leaving production on the table, we have now seen two big time performances in back-to-back weeks.

-Jihad Ward had 3 tackles, 1 pressure, and 1.5 sacks. On his second sack, Ward forced a fumble that was recovered by WAS. One of the most important players on the defense who nobody ever talks about, Ward will now get used more economically with Ojulari back. His inside-out versatility is a big deal for this scheme and one I am focusing on in scouting prospects should he leave town in free agency. It can be a hard spot to fill.

-Oshane Ximines added 2 tackles, including 1 TFL. He lost the edge again on a 15-yard run. This has been the biggest issue in his game from the beginning.


-Dexter Lawrence is turning into an ironman at the position. Yet another game at over 91% of the snaps. Check this out. In 2019, Lawrence played over 80% of a game’s snaps one time. 2020? Zero times. 2021? One time. This season Lawrence has played 81%, 94%, 90%, 97%, 86%, 91%, 88%, 84%, and 91% of snaps in individual games. It is one thing to do that at Aaron Donald’s size. It is almost unheard of for a player this size to play this many snaps. His dominant play continues, finishing with 9 tackles, 1 sack, and 3 pressures. He is a tone setter for the defense in that he is the guy who is 14 yards downfield near the sideline making a tackle. It means a lot when your best players are also the best-effort players.

-Leonard Williams played just 35 snaps, the second lowest of the year. He is battling a neck injury. He still finished with 3 tackles and a pressure that led to a sack. The NYG run defense did suffer a bit without him in there.

-The trio of Justin Ellis, Henry Mondeaux, and Vernon Butler had their fair share of snaps. Ellis got credited with a sack, although I have him down for a half-sack. Fun fact. Ellis has played in 112 games including 53 starts dating back to 2014. That was his first ever full-sack on the official stat sheet. Mondeaux finished with 2 tackles and Butler flashed a bit with 4 tackles. Remember this is a former 1st round pick who had 6 sacks in 2019.


-This is now a two-man show at linebacker and it works well enough. Jaylon Smith is the straight-line, explosive guy who brings some emotional leadership to the mix. He finished with 5 tackles. Micah McFadden is the more physical inside-gap filler with better instincts and initial movement. He finished with 9 tackles and a forced fumble that ended up falling out of bounds. Both are solid in their respective roles, but the issue here is they both struggle on lateral running plays. They were eaten up by blockers in the running game because they just don’t get to their points fast enough.


-Be careful what you wish for when hoping Fabian Moreau gets back. The former Redskin missed the week 12 game against Dallas but was back for this one. He got absolutely roasted. He missed an open field tackle that led to a touchdown in the first quarter and that was just the beginning. He was beat on 3rd down multiple times and was also flagged for holding on a 3rd-down stop.

-Zyon Gilbert saw the first regular season action of his career as Darnay Holmes was out with an injury. He flashed some quality aggressive play but was often successfully targeted and beaten by WAS down the stretch. He also missed a tackle on the game-tying score. Gilbert did finish with a TFL and a PD that was a near-interception on a well-read play.

-Nick McCloud has made the most of his opportunity here. He played all 85 snaps and finished with 8 tackles and 2 pass break ups. While I like the physical nature he plays with, his missed tackle on the game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter is textbook for what a defender cannot do in that situation. He made zero effort to tackle Dotson; he simply just lowered his shoulder, looked away, and threw an elbow. Poor play at a crucial time and it overshadowed his otherwise solid game.

-Rookie Cor’Dale Flott played about a quarter of the snaps. He came up with a key tackle on a 3rd down stop where he quickly read the play and undercut the blocker. Flott’s movement traits both in pursuit and coverage are impressive.


-Julian Love had one of the best efforts of the day. He was all over the field, leading the team with 12 tackles, one of which was for a loss. He fills running lanes like an inside linebacker. His tackle rate is currently one of the best in the NFL at all positions among full-time players and the absolute best among safeties. He did get beat in coverage a handful of times but considering everything that he is doing for this defense week to week, he is proving to be one the best sheer values on the team.

-Dane Belton appears to be passed on the depth chart by Jason Pinnock. Belton didn’t see a snap and Pinnock saw 79 of them. He finished with 3 tackles and 2 pressures and a big PD in the fourth quarter.

-Tony Jefferson was back and finished with 4 tackles as he saw his first action in nearly 2 months. The 28 snaps were over twice as many as any game he has played this season.


-K Graham Gano: 2/3 (Made 48, 27 / Missed 58)
-P Jamie Gillan: 7 Punts / 46.3 avg – 42.6 net


-EDGE Azeez Ojulari, WR Isaiah Hodgins, DT Dexter Lawrence


-OG Nick Gates, OG Mark Glowinski, CB Fabian Moreau


(1) The move from Carson Wentz to Taylor Heinicke reinvigorated this entire team. They’ve lost one game since Week 5 after starting 1-4. While the schedule has done them a few favors (like the rest of the division) it is hard to argue against their results. WAS has rotated through multiple different quarterbacks since Heinicke was brought to town in 2020. Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Garrett Gilbert, and Wentz. Heinicke does not check all the boxes when evaluating quarterbacks in the draft. He is small and he doesn’t have a power arm. But watching the throws this kid makes purely from innovation and reaction is impressive. The 4th-and-4 throw he made to Curtis Samuel for 20 yards in the 4th-quarter, game-tying drive was a top-5 throw in the league this season. I really mean that. He is getting better and better and I bet if the kid was 6’3” everyone would be behind him as a franchise guy.

(2) One of the more interesting contract situations to follow league wide will be what WAS decides to do with Daron Payne. He is playing on his fifth-year option deal (what Lawrence will be playing on next season) and the predominant thought around the league is he will be elsewhere in 2023. However, if they team stays with the cap-friendly Heinicke, it can open the door for Payne sticking around. Some believe they will pursue a high-priced corner, however. If that is the case, I don’t see them also signing Payne.

(3) Just how good is WAS? Besides having the best record in the NFL since Week 6, are they a credible NFC contender? If I had to make a tier system in the league, they are a notch above NYG right now only because of the injury situation. WAS has been relatively healthy all year. They also have immense strength in the trenches, a top-notch playmaker at WR, and an active back seven on defense especially in the middle. If I am an opponent, I don’t want to play these guys in the playoffs especially if Chase Young comes back strong from injury. They have game-wreckers, guys who can take over a game. And yes, the QB is underrated.


(1) What happened to Brian Daboll’s aggressive approach that he spoke of after their Week 1 win in Tennessee? “We’re going to be aggressive. That’s what we want to do. That’s the mindset I want the players to have. If it didn’t work, I could live with it,” Daboll exclaimed after that W. Multiple times over the past 6-7 weeks, I’ve seen his stance soften. Whether it be at the end of a first half in a close game or on 4th-and-under-5 in enemy territory. Ignoring the 4th-and-3 opportunity from the WAS 45-yard line right as the offense was clicking for the first time since the third quarter was mind-boggling. They needed 3 yards. 6 of the 7 previous plays gained 7, 5, 10, 12, 4, and 3 yards. Have things changed that much since Week 1? What exactly has? The playoff-bubble all of the sudden makes them scared to try and go for a win? This was Daboll’s biggest gaffe of the year and if you don’t think that decision changes the “mindset” (his words) of players moving forward, you are dead wrong. To me, it is no coincidence that Daboll is all of the sudden afraid to keep his foot on the gas is occurring at the same time as we are all seeing a drop off in aggression from Barkley. Good coaches dictate culture and confidence.

(2) The long-term outlook of this franchise is in question. As I have said multiple times, they appear to be in much better hands when it comes to the decision makers creating and sticking to a vision. The most important part, however, is seeing who produces on the field and letting that steer the direction of the ship. The NYG defense has holes, as do most pro defenses, but we are seeing the creation of its core. Ojulari, Thibodeaux, Lawrence, Williams, and Love will make up nearly half of the defense. Throw in supplements like McKinney and Jackson, add another year or two of personnel acquisition, and the defense has a nice trajectory that could end up being a top-shelf unit. Getting that homegrown core is vital to the process and NYG is very much getting there.

(3) A matchup against the Eagles and then another one against the Commanders who will be coming off a bye. Creating the NFL schedule is a MUCH more complex process than many believe. I’ve done some research on that and I know someone who was with the league office in the 2008-2015 timeframe. Learning about the nuances and algorithms that go into it was eye opening. With that said, having a team play the same opponent two games in a row (with a bye in between) should be a major no-no. That one is easily avoidable and I am shocked to see the NFL let that happen.

Dec 022022
Don "Wink" Martindale, New York Giants (November 13, 2022)

Don “Wink” Martindale – © USA TODAY Sports

Glass half full or empty? The optimist will say this is an intriguing contest between two tough, over-achieving, well-coached teams that are playing above expectations. The naysayers will call this a game between two teams that are trying to keep out of last place in the division. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Regardless, this is an absolutely critical game for both franchises. The winner will have the inside track to the 3rd spot in the division and a possible Wild Card spot. The loser is going to be behind the proverbial 8-ball.

The Giants and Commanders are two similar teams. Both are largely carried by their defense. Both like to run the ball more than they throw it. But at the moment, both appear to be heading in opposite directions. The Commanders have won six out of their last seven games, including an impressive win in Philadelphia. The Giants have lost three of their last four and have already been swept by the Dallas Cowboys.

Can the Giants regain their footing and reverse Washington’s surging momentum? That’s the storyline.


  • RB Gary Brightwell (illness – questionable)
  • WR Darius Slayton (illness – questionable)
  • WR Richie James (knee – questionable)
  • TE Daniel Bellinger (eye – questionable)
  • OC Jon Feliciano (neck – questionable)
  • OG Josh Ezeudu (neck – out)
  • OG Shane Lemieux (toe – out)
  • OT Evan Neal (knee – probable)
  • OT Tyre Phillips (neck – probable)
  • DL Leonard Williams (neck – probable)
  • LB Carter Coughlin (thigh – questionable)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (knee – out)
  • CB Fabian Moreau (oblique – questionable)
  • CB Darnay Holmes (shoulder – questionable)
  • CB Cor’Dale Flott (concussion – probable)
  • S Dane Belton (clavicle – questionable)

I’ve outlined the Giants’ passing game issues for the past two months. The cavalry is not going to crest the hill and save the day in 2022. Kadarius Toney was a bust and is gone. 29-year old Kenny Golladay has had one of the greatest career implosions in NFL history. Wan’Dale Robinson is on IR. The Giants will have to get by with Darius Slayton, Isaiah Hodgins, and Richie James, all of whom may not even be on the team in a few months. Making matters worse is James has been nursing a knee issue for the past couple of weeks. It’s not a good situation, but there is little that can be done about it.

More worrisome has been the marked decline in the Giants’ ground game in recent weeks. There is a direct correlation between the team’s last three losses and Saquon Barkley’s lack of productivity. In those games, Barkley rushed for 53, 22, and 39 yards, averaging only 2.5 yards per carry. In the last two games, he only rushed the ball for a total of 26 times. This was after his career-high 35-rush game against the Texans. And it’s not just that the blocking hasn’t been there. Barkley is not running as decisively or physically as he did in September and October. Cutting to the chase, the Giants can’t win unless Barkley gets back on track. They don’t have the weapons in the passing game to compensate.

Relatedly, Daniel Jones’ declining rushing figures are having a negative impact on the offense. Since his 107-yard effort against the Jaguars on October 23rd, Jones has only rushed for 108 yards in the last four games, averaging only 25 yards per game. Some of this has been due to opposing defenses playing more in a more disciplined fashion. But Jones’ number has not been called as much either. He carried the ball only three times against the Cowboys. The Giants need to get back to their old 1-2 punch formula of Barkley and Jones presenting problems on the ground.

The good news is that the team is getting reinforcements up front. Evan Neal and Daniel Bellinger are back. Both were injured against the Jaguars on October 23rd. The Giants have gone 1-3 since they have both been out. Neal not only will help the ground game, but his presence will allow Tyre Phillips to serve as the 6th offensive lineman in heavy packages, another upgrade. Bellinger has been missed not only as a target, but as a viable, point-of-attack blocker at the tight end position. In addition, the return of Nick Gates should help to settle down the interior of the line, be it at left guard or center.

Which brings us to the Commanders, a well-coached defense that is currently 7th in the NFL in yards allowed (one spot below the 6th-ranked Cowboys). Washington is 10th against the pass and 8th against the run. They are also 10th in points allowed. To be blunt, they are playing far better defense than the New York Giants. The strength of Washington is their defensive line, led by defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne, as well as end Montez Sweat. They can play the run and all three have over six sacks each. The Commanders also may be getting back #2 overall pick in 2020, Chase Young. Making matters worse is a secondary that has been playing good football. Starting corner Benjamin St. Juste will miss his second game in a row however. The Commanders are excellent in 3rd-down defense, being able to rush the passer as well as cover.

The man on the spot is Daniel Jones. He does not have the weapons that Washington has. He’s also going against a tougher defense than his counterpart in this game. With six critical games left, starting this Sunday, Jones still has the opportunity to make a statement. He must out-play Taylor Heinicke, not only for his team to have a chance but probably for Jones’ own fate with this franchise. Jones was the #6 overall pick. Heinicke was undrafted. Don’t turn the football over. Make plays in crucial situations to keep drives alive and score points. Win the game.

Not only has the Giants’ ground game deteriorated, but so has its defense. It’s pretty easy to connect the dots as to why. The loss of Xavier McKinney caused a domino effect on the entire defense. This was exacerbated by the loss of the team’s #1 cornerback in Adoree’ Jackson. I don’t think it is a coincidence that we have seen a marked decline in 3rd-down defense and red-zone defense since both were lost. The problem for Wink Martindale and the defense is these two are still out as the key stretch run begins.

The defensive key to this game is obvious: run defense. Like the Giants, the ground game is the heart of the Washington attack. Stop their ground attack and stopping the Commanders becomes much easier. Washington is only 22nd in offense in yards, and 24th in points. But they average over 121 yards per game rushing and lead the NFL in time of possession. Rookie Brian Robinson has been impressive and is coming off his best game against the Falcons, averaging almost six yards per carry. Antonio Gibson is the other back, and presents more of an issue as a receiver (47 catches). He’s dealing with a foot injury however.

The problem for New York is that their run defense has been bad this year. The Giants are 26th against the run, allowing almost 139 yards per game. Worse, the Giants are allowing 5.2 yards per rushing attempt, one of the worst figures in the League. The lack of depth on the defensive line, talent issues at inside linebacker, and sporadic tackling by the secondary have all contributed to the disappointing play. But Washington is surely going to approach this game by attacking the New York weakness. Washington’s yards-per-carry is usually not impressive (sub 4.0), but they stick with the run and hope to wear down their opponents in the 4th quarter. It has been working.

The other fly in the ointment is the quality of Washington’s receiving targets is vastly superior to New York’s. Terry McLaurin is one of the best receivers in football. He can beat you deep and he can beat you by keeping the chains moving. With better quarterbacking, he’s be a real star. Curtis Samuel is also a quality slot receiver. These two, plus Gibson and tight end Logan Thomas, are Washington’s main receiving threats.

Which brings us to Heinicke, the 29-year old undrafted quarterback now with his sixth NFL team. He took over for Carson Wentz in Week 7 and has gone 5-1 as a starter. He’s no stud quarterback, but he’s managed games well and made just enough plays when called upon. That said, he lacks a top arm and has gotten lucky with a number of his throws. If the Giants can stop the run and make the Commanders more one dimensional, New York’s pass rush could make things uncomfortable for Henicke and cause turnovers.

The good news for the Giants is that Kayvon Thibodeaux is coming off of his best game. Azeez Ojulari finally is back as well and will help the pass rush. Combine these two with Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence and the Giants finally may have some real horses to rush the quarterback. The Commanders will also be without right guard Trai Turner. Center Tyler Larsen has also been limited with a shoulder injury.

Priority #1 is stopping the run. The inside linebackers will be on the spot, especially with as much motion as Washington employs offensively. But an undermanned New York secondary will also have to deal with McLaurin and Samuel. The return of Fabian Moreau should help, but the Giants will need Darnay Holmes, Nick McCloud, Rodarius Williams, and Cor’Dale Flott to rise to the occasion as well.

Thomas McGaughey’s special teams units have been a disappointment this year. The return game has been a net negative. Punting has been a problem. Coverage has not stood out. Giants face one of the league’s better punters in Tress Way. Punt/kick returner Dax Milne is out.

Defensive Coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale on his run defense: “We’re just going to have to get 11 hats to the football, and right now statistically, our run defense isn’t very good. We need to continue to work on fundamentals and technique and getting everybody to the football. When you start putting in all the other runs, the wide receiver sweeps and all the other plays off of it, I think run averages are up across the league, but I think we need to get better at it.”

These are two similar, over-achieving teams that are unfortunately playing in the same division as the Eagles and Cowboys. After Sunday, one will be in far better shape than the other. This contest almost has the feel of a playoff game. If the Giants win, hopes for a real playoff spot continue. If they lose, fan attention will likely increase about the upcoming offseason. This is the biggest December game the Giants have played since 2016.

Nov 262022
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (November 24, 2022)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports


One of the metrics I use in coach evaluation is how well a team plays the second time around. These are almost always divisional foes but when post-season match-ups come into play, I look at them as well. While Brian Daboll was not the Head Coach in BUF, I did take a look at how their team (and offense) fared in their respective repeat matchups year-to-year:

2018 (on a 6-10 team): 1-2 and +13 in points
2019 (on a 10-6 team): 1-2 and +2 in points
2020 (on a 13-3 team): 3-1 and +29 in points
2021 (on a 11-6 team): 4-1 and +8 in points

The Thanksgiving Day match-up in DAL marked the first time in Daboll’s Head Coach tenure they would face off against a repeat opponent. They lost to the Cooper Rush-led Cowboys Week 3 by a score of 23-16. A game where NYG had a lead in the second half, but had it taken out of their grasp because the defense did not step up when they were needed.

The initial NYG drive stalled at midfield before opting to punt on 4th-and-3 from the DAL 48-yard line. The initial DAL drive stalled on their own 40-yard line, but they kept their offense on the field on 4th-and-2. Ezekiel Elliott was stuffed by a group of defenders led by Jaylon Smith, the Cowboys 2016 second rounder who was starting against his former team for the first time. NYG was primed to strike first blood. Daniel Jones hit Isaiah Hodgins for a 24-yard touchdown, but it was called back after right tackle Tyre Phillips was flagged for illegally blocking downfield. Jones then threw two incomplete passes, the second of which was flagged for intentional grounding, pushing NYG way back into deep field goal range. Fortunately, Graham Gano sent the 57-yarder through the uprights to give NYG the initial lead.

Dak Prescott, coming off his best game of the season in Minnesota, gave NYG the ball back with an interception that landed in the hands of Rodarius Williams. The NYG offense responded with a three-and-out as the DAL defensive front, a top-five group league-wide, was easily controlling the point-of-attack. Seven of DAL’s next eleven snaps were running plays and it landed them in the end zone via an Elliott 6-yard run on the first play of the second quarter. NYG then borrowed a page from that book, running the ball on seven-of-nine plays which also ended in a touchdown, this one by Saquon Barkley on a one-yarder. NYG had the lead at 10-7.

After trading three-and-outs, DAL put together a lengthy drive that was heading toward the red zone. Prescott tried to fit one in to CeeDee Lamb but a deflection by Darnay Holmes ended up in Julian Love’s hands for the second interception of the half, matching their 2022 season total coming into this game. A sloppy final two minutes, including two penalties by DAL and one by NYG and an interception that was nullified by one of those DAL penalties eventually led to a 47-yard field goal by Gano to lengthen their lead to 6 as halftime approached.

The DAL offense was a different animal in the second half. They started off with a 14-play drive that consisted of four third-down conversions. One of them was with a lot of help from the refs on a phantom defensive holding called on Holmes. The fourth conversion was a 3rd-and-15 touchdown pass to tight end Dalton Schultz. It put DAL up by one and wiped out over half of the third quarter clock.

The NYG offense stalled near midfield again. This time it was 4th-and-1 from their own 45-yard line. Daboll pushed the urgency, with 4:11 left in the third quarter, and kept the offense on the field. Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka called a great play, giving Jones an open look at Saquon Barkley who was all alone in the flat. A catch would have resulted in a first down and much more. Jones misfired, the ball fell to the ground, and Prescott took over on the NYG side of the field. Six plays later, Prescott connected with Schultz for another touchdown and DAL was up by eight.

Midfield continued to be a black hole for the NYG offense. They just could not get past it. Barkley couldn’t get going, the entire NYG offensive line (including Andrew Thomas) was taking turns getting beat, and the DAL train was heating up. For the third straight drive, DAL put a touchdown on the board, this time via a 2-yard run by tight end Peyton Hendershot. They were up 28-13 with under 9 minutes remaining. NYG down, by two touchdowns plus a two-point conversion, with an offense that had been averaging 18 points per game since their win in Jacksonville October 23rd.

They did end up getting into DAL territory on their next drive. There were two problems, however. They never quite went into hurry-up mode (11 plays netted 38 yards and took off 5:41 of game clock) and the final sequence went 10-yard sack, false start penalty, 16-yard gain, incomplete pass. DAL took the ball back and ran the ball over and over to get NYG to rid themselves of their timeouts. NYG did end up scoring a garbage-time touchdown with just :08 remaining on a pass from Jones to Richie James. At the very least, NYG bettors left the game happy. The onsides kick did not work and NYG dropped their 11th game to the Cowboys in their last 12 attempts.


-Daniel Jones: 21/35 – 228 yards / 1 TD – 0 INT / 88.8 RAT

The mistakes Jones made in this do not show up on the stat sheet. It was a poor start where he held onto the ball on plays where they left specific pass rushers unblocked. The illegal shift + intentional grounding that nearly pushed them out of field goal range were avoidable. The 4th-and-1 miss to Barkley was the turning point of the game. He was fortunate to not have an interception on his stat line at the end of the first half on penalty that had nothing to do with the play. And lastly, I felt he did not tuck and run on two instances where he should have. Both resulted in stops for the DAL defense. This game won’t be put on Jones but there is no denying just a couple of better plays by him would have easily altered the trajectory of the game. And the looks were there, he simply did not come through.


-Saquon Barkley: 11 att – 39 yards / 4 rec – 13 yards

For the second straight week, Barkley was contained, and it was a mix of quality defense and a scaled back version of Barkley. Is he hurt? I don’t know. If I had to money on it, I would say he is not hurt. He was not coming off the field dramatically in pain like we have seen him do in the past. He was not grimacing after hits. Mentally, Barkley looks hesitant. NYG missed out on two likely third-down conversions because of that hesitancy. On an offense like this and considering the player he is, that is a huge deal.

-The best running back play we saw in this game was from Gary Brightwell. He gained 31 yards on 5 carries and added another 18 yards on 2 catches. This was the most we have seen him touch the ball over his two seasons in the league and the results were excellent. He’s earned more touches in this offense that is searching everywhere for production. Matt Breida added 15 yards on 3 touches, 1 catch and 2 carries.


-Darius Slayton came up with the offensive play of the day. A game-long 44-yard catch that set NYG up for their first touchdown that put them up early. He was targeted 5 other times, catching 2 of them for 19 yards. Earlier in the game I made a negative note on his ball skills when it came to fighting through contact while maintaining body control down the field. In fairness, his 44-yarder was a big-time play on the ball. It is the up-and-down play by Slayton that causes evaluators to pull their hair out. The good is there, the consistency is not.

-Richie James had 5 catches for 41 yards and a touchdown. Almost all of that came in the second half. Isaiah Hodgins caught 3 passes for 31 yards and had a touchdown taken off the board by an offensive line penalty. Kenny Golladay did not get thrown to at all, nor did Marcus Johnson. They saw a combined 26 snaps.


-A better game from this group as a whole than what they put out there last week. Lawrence Cager, Chris Myarick, and Tanner Hudson all caught one pass each (for 23-20-10 yards respectively). Cager and Myarick were responsible for 2 of the 3 biggest plays in the passing game. Hudson did not see any blocking snaps, but both Cager and Myarick held their own against the physical DAL front.


-On paper, this had the potential to be an ugly game for the Giants offensive line. DAL came into this one leading the NFL in sacks and top-three in every important pass rush metric. NYG was missing their starting right tackle and were on a fourth-string left guard. To make matters worse, left tackle Andrew Thomas was battling illness and appeared to be limping a bit on that bad foot of his. He paid the price against All Pro linebacker Micah Parsons, allowing 2 sacks, 1 pressure, and 0.5 TFL. Jack Anderson, the fourth-stringer noted above, allowed 2 pressures and a sack and was flagged for a false start.

-Center Nick Gates graded out as the top lineman, which isn’t saying much. His hands were heavy and accurate. I don’t see a ton of movement off the line against defensive tackles and he did struggle to get his hips in the hole a few times. I chalk that up to the lower body still working its way back.

-The right side was responsible for four pressures (2 each by Mark Glowinski and Tyre Phillips). Glowinksi also allowed a 0.5 TFL and Phillips was called for a crucial penalty that came from him aimlessly working his way downfield for no reason on a passing play. I liked what I saw out of him as a run blocker though and I wonder if there is any thought on him returning to guard when Neal comes back. Not as a starter, but as an immediate backup if needed.


-The top individual pass rush performances of this season previously belonged to Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams. Those performances now sit behind rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux’s dominance he put on display in this game. 9 pressures, 1 caused hold, 1 caused TFL. This was the best combination of get off, pad level, and power we have seen out of him. He absolutely abused fellow rookie Tyler Smith on the left side all game and proved to be a menace both the inside as a blitzing linebacker and on the left side the defensive line. He did miss 2 tackles, one of which was a sack, but this is exactly what we want to see from Thibodeaux at this point. The most impressive part of his stat line is the fact he did so on just 26 pass rush snaps. In another year or two, after he continues to figure his craft out at the professional level and improve his power game, a few of those will turn into sacks.

-Jihad Ward finished with 2 pressures and 1 TFL. I like him so much more when he is in the tight spaces. His power game and feel for blockers is top notch.

-Oshane Ximines lost the edge twice on big runs in the first quarter. He also missed a tackle and did not impact the game as a pass rusher.


-Leonard Williams was back to his dominant ways. He had 6 tackles, 3 TFL, and 1 pressure. His closing speed on lateral runs is such an overlooked component to his game. He reaches guys that 95% of the league’s interior linemen cannot. The negative in his game, which has been around for years, showed up a few times in this one. He does not anchor well against runs right at him. He also missed 2 tackles.

-Dexter Lawrence had 5 tackles and a pressure. He seemed to be off his game in this one. Nothing drastic, but I caught him walking gingerly and grimacing a few times throughout and he looked out of gas on a few others. Henry Mondeaux added 3 tackles and a pressure. He offers much more than Justin Ellis, who finished with 1 tackle, when it comes to playing sudden and showing some range once off the initial contact of a blocker.


-Jaylon Smith was playing some spirited football in his first start against the team that drafted and signed him to a long-term deal. He led the team with 10 tackles, adding 1 TFL and a big 4th-down stop early in the game. His downhill explosion is still there and even though the lateness + lateral movement issues hurt from time to time, he has been a quality player for this defense.

-Micah McFadden was on the field for a career-high 48 snaps. After a poor game last week against DET, I saw more urgency with his reads, and he finished better. He had 4 tackles and 2 TFL with 1 missed tackle. The movement in coverage looked much better when looking at the All-22. He was rarely targeted, but he did his job when working the intermediate level of the route tree.


-We had a little bit of a coming out party for Rodarius Williams. I discussed him a bit after the DET game noting how often he was getting beat in his first action of the season. He responded with 2 pass break-ups and an interception, the first of his career. He did not allow a reception either (although he was flagged for a pass interference). There were quite a few people excited about Williams after the 2021 preseason, remember. Now that he is in the mix, he looks the part.

-Nick McCloud had 8 tackles without any misses. I like him in the middle of the field. He is a physical player and gets the ball carrier down at a near-perfect rate. He allowed a touchdown in coverage. Rookie Cor’Dale Flott allowed 3 completions on all 3 times he was targeted. His lack of power presence is a concern against a receiver with any kind of size. Michael Gallup tossed him around a couple times. His play speed is excellent, though.

-Darnay Holmes was flagged three times, one of which was a poor call. The issue here is Holmes has the reputation of being too grabby in coverage. He built that as a rookie in 2020 and it hasn’t gotten anything but worse. He now has 7 penalties on the year and teams know it. He also allowed 3 catches for 58 yards, being outclassed by Lamb. He did deflect a pass that ended up being an interception.


-Julian Love tied for the team lead with 10 tackles. He added two impact plays as well, a TFL and an interception. This is exactly what this team needs from Love. Be the safety net on the back end who makes tackles in space and create big plays for the defense. He did both.

-Jason Pinnock played every snap. This is valuable experience for him. He had 8 tackles, but he also missed one and allowed a touchdown in coverage. More up-and-down play for him.


-K Graham Gano: 2/2 (Made 57, 47)
-P Jamie Gillan: 4 Punts / 48.3 avg – 38.3 avg


-CB Rodarius Williams, EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, S Julian Love


-CB Darnay Holmes, OT Andrew Thomas, RB Saquon Barkley


After the Week 3 loss in September, I asked how far do I see this version of Dallas going? “We have every reason to believe they will contend not only for the division, but for the conference. The defense has the upside of being special and if that offense can elevate their game just one or two levels, they have the “goods.” Here we are at the end of November, and I only feel stronger about that notion. DAL is one of three teams I can see going to the Super Bowl. The difference between this team and the previous few years is the defense. They can be lights out against anyone.

There is a good chance that was Ezekiel Elliott’s final game against NYG in a Cowboys uniform. DAL has made a habit out of restructuring his contract in recent offseasons, pushing money into future years. They did not do so this past offseason. To me, that, and the emergence of Tony Pollard who is simply a better player right now, will pave the way for them cutting him loose in a few months. 12 games, 1108 total yards, 10 TDs vs NYG.

I will be intrigued to see where Tyler Smith, their 2022 first round pick, ends up on the offensive line. He was going to be the left guard until Tyron Smith went down but shifted over and has played at a solid level for most of the year. He’s allowed 4 sacks and is second in the league with 10 penalties. This was a major issue at Tulsa as well. I think Smith’s run blocking is already on the elite level but I don’t see the upside in pass protection. I think he ends up at OG in the future.


Two losses in five days can sting a bit more and the injuries on both sides of the ball were accelerated by the Thursday game. The positive is now schedule-based. NYG gets 10 days of rest prior to a home match-up against the Commanders, who play Sunday against ATL. With multiple players on the brink of returning (OT Evan Neal, TE Daniel Bellinger, OL Ben Bredeson), the timing of this mini-bye week is crucial. Especially considering WAS will be one of the teams NYG is contending with for a playoff spot.

The Barkley tape is the elephant in the room that everyone can see. He is not running as hard. He is showing hesitancy. And this is an offense that did not have any margin to work with. Barkley is the most important player on this offense and probably the team. If he does not play to his ability (whether it is physical or mental) – the entire scope changes. Look what happened when Brightwell came in and ran hard. I discussed this a few times last year. There was not, and is not, a bigger Barkley guy out there than me. But if the hardness in his game is back and forth, it will make for an easy decision this upcoming offseason.

One of the questions people will ask about Daniel Jones and his future with NYG will revolve around upside. Just how good can he actually be? Best case scenario, what is he? We just watched Dak Prescott throw two interceptions in the first half. He was hit just as much if not more than Jones was throughout the game. Nothing mattered. He comes out in the second half and played some of the best QB I have seen all year from around the league. The numbers did not pop off the page, but it was the complexity of his throws and how precise they were. I do not see that in Jones. Both right now and in the future.

Nov 232022

Just last week, fans of the New York Football Giants were contemplating an 8-2 record, the return of number of previously injured players, the possible acquisition of Odell Beckham, and dare we say it, a possible run at the NFC East title. A few days later, many of these same fans are questioning if the team will win another game this year and see beating the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving as an equivalent challenge as beating the 18-0 New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

Dear Giants fans,
Get a grip.
Signed, BBI Management

Professional football is a multi-billion dollar entertainment industry in which each year 32 franchises compete for a shiny trophy. Aside from geographical location, these 32 franchises differentiate themselves from each other by the color of the clothes they wear. Distinct from MLB and the NBA, these teams operate on a relative even playing field with a hard salary cap. Every team has good players and coaches. Because of this, it’s virtually impossible for any one team to dominate the league.

The Giants entered 2022 with their third general manager and fourth head coach in six years after enduring a decade-long’s worth of mismanagement. Botched drafts and free agent signing periods left the franchise with a roster devoid of talent, players accustomed to losing, and a very poor salary-cap position. Most fans were thrilled that ownership reached outside of the organization and hired a new GM and HC who be on the same page and work together to eradicate the rot and build a new foundation. Most of these fans knew this would take time, especially since many believed the quarterback on the team was not part of the answer moving forward.

The offseason was a dizzying affair. Players such as Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph, Will Hernandez, Lorenzo Carter, Jabrill Peppers, James Bradberry, Logan Ryan, and Riley Dixon, among many others, were let go. Almost 40 free agents and 11 draft picks were added to the training camp roster. Changes were made in the front office both before and after the draft. Many fans and pundits assumed the Giants, blessed with an easier schedule, would win somewhere around 4-6 games. How gloomy were the prognostications? There was a lot of talk of Daniel Jones probably being benched at some point for Tyrod Taylor.

Then something weird happened. The Giants beat AFC’s #1 seed on their turf on opening day. And they did so in dramatic style, coming back from a 13-0 halftime deficit and winning with a daring 2-point conversion. Over the course of the next eight games, the Giants would surprisingly win six of them, often coming from behind in the 4th quarter to pull off the upset. Even with one of the best records in football, the Giants were considered the underdogs in almost every game. The pinnacle of the first half of the season was the back-to-back dramatic victories over the Packers in London and the Ravens.

The weird part was all of this was happening with a completely revamped roster of unfamiliar names, many of whom were let go by other teams and would have trouble finding work on any other roster. Players who were counted on to make a big difference did not, such as Kadarius Toney, Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Aaron Robinson, and Azeez Ojulari. Injuries also affected the play and availability of Leonard Williams, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Evan Neal, Shane Lemieux, Daniel Bellinger, among others. The team was left scrambling in-season for waiver-wire pick-ups, guys signed off of the street and practice squads. Although it wasn’t pretty, the team was still winning despite being hampered with the worst set of receivers and tight ends in the league and a number of castoffs on the defensive side of the ball.

The Giants were winning because they were well coached, and the new coaching staff was getting the best out of players who many had discounted, such as Dexter Lawrence, Adoree’ Jackson, Julian Love, Daniel Jones, and Oshane Ximines as just a few examples. Others came out of nowhere to play significant roles such as Jihad Ward and Fabian Moreau. It wasn’t easy. Players kept getting hurt and the front office and coaching staff had to keep juggling the roster, limited by little cap room. At times, the Giants didn’t even keep 53 players on the roster.

Tactically, the staff recognized the limitations of the roster. Passing-attack gurus Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka transitioned to a run-first ground game, designed to minimize mistakes and keep the team alive in games against opponents with equal or better talent. The defense gave up yardage, but stood tall on third down and inside the red zone. And for whatever reason, this team started to believe it could and would win in the 4th quarter. Opponents simply could not kill the Giants. They hung around, they hung around, they hung around… and finally somehow pulled off the win.

Something else different began to happen. Giants’ fans began complaining that the wins were too ugly. After each win, there were more discussion threads on what went wrong rather than what went right. It quickly began to dawn on me that Giants fans who were worn down by a decade worth of losing were developing unrealistic expectations about what this team was and could be as it is currently formulated. The other red flag was the insistence by the bulk of the fan base that the addition of just one wide receiver would change everything for plodding offensive football team and somehow turn them into a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Whoa! What?

Karma began to change over the bye week. Xavier McKinney got stupid, crushed his hand on vacation, and sabotaged the entire defense. He was one of the few players on this team the Giants could ill-afford to lose. His absence had a domino effect. The Giants also started to do something they had not done, and that was kill themselves with turnovers. Richie James fumbled twice on punt returns against the Seahawks. The team turned the ball over three more times against the Lions. Brian Daboll got stupid and put Adoree’ Jackson on punt returns and paid the price. Now the other player in the secondary the Giants simply could not afford to lose may be gone for the bulk of the rest of the season. Worse, the Giants came out of last week’s game needing a MASH unit. Wan’Dale Robinson had his career game to date and then tore his ACL, leaving a bad unit even worse. The other starting cornerback, Moreau, who was filling in for Aaron Robinson, got hurt. Five offensive line showed up on the injury list and two safeties. A really thin team to start with just got dangerously thin.

This where Giants fans have gotten stupid. Not all of you. The smart ones are nodding your head at what I wrote and are off the hook. I’m scolding those of you who say such things as (and yes, these have been posted this week):

  • Brian Daboll lost this team when he yelled at them.
  • We will learn this Thursday if this coaching staff is any good.
  • The team needs to make a number of changes in Week 12 to take the offense and defense in new directions.

But what mostly bothers me are posts that scream (paraphrasing), “If this team doesn’t win and perform to my expectations, then the individuals responsible are horrible human beings and must be vilified until they make me feel better.” Or the “please tell me it’s going to be OK” posts. What are we? Eight year olds? I don’t know what is going on, but some of you guys need a good slap in the face and dose of reality.

This is flawed, rebuilding football team. It underwent major changes this past offseason. It will undergo major changes this upcoming offseason. The 7-3 start has been great, and hopefully they still have a few wins in them to keep things entertaining. But the unexpected winning has now created unrealistic expectations. A thin team that wins with the slightest margins of error is not likely to experience sustained success. And this is especially true when that thin team loses its most important players. “But…but…but..” No buts, that’s just the way it is. Teams with stronger rosters will prevail in the end. Survival of the fittest.

So this is a word of advice to those of you who are getting really upset: It’s a game. It’s supposed to be something fun for you to enjoy. It would be nice to win, but it’s not the end of the world if your team loses. The Giants appear to be heading in the right direction with a GM and coach on the same page. Regardless of how it ends, this year turned out better than expected. You’d probably feel better if the team’s W-L record was better after the bye than before it, but it’s not likely to work out that way.


  • WR Richie James (knee – questionable)
  • TE Daniel Bellinger (eye – out)
  • OC Jon Feliciano (neck – out)
  • OG Josh Ezeudu (neck – out)
  • OG Shane Lemieux (toe – out)
  • OT Andrew Thomas (illness – questionable)
  • OT Evan Neal (knee/illness – out)
  • OT Tyre Phillips (neck – questionable)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (knee – out)
  • CB Fabian Moreau (oblique – out)
  • S Dane Belton (clavicle – questionable)
  • S Jason Pinnock (jaw – questionable)

The Giants are huge underdogs against Dallas and for good reason. The Cowboys are coming off of their most impressive win of the season. The Giants are coming off their most disappointing loss of the season. Worse, the Giants somehow managed to end up a more physically-damaged team after the bye week. The secondary, offensive line, and wide receiving corps are a mess with injuries. Barring a big upset, the results are not going to aid your post-Turkey digestive process. If you can’t handle that, pretend the team isn’t playing and enjoy the time with your family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 222022
Julian Love, New York Giants (November 20, 2022)

Julian Love – © USA TODAY Sports


Lions Head Coach Dan Campbell was drafted by NYG in the third round of the 1999 NFL Draft. He started 34 games for them, 28 of which came over his final two seasons before he signed with DAL (and later DET) in free agency. A year-plus after his career ended, he became an intern-offensive coach for MIA. Working his way up, including a stretch where he was interim Head Coach for MIA and an Assistant Head Coach for NO, Campbell landed the top job for DET in 2021. In a time where owners are often chasing after specialty minds (offense/defense), DET did it different. They went after a culture guy. Campbell is leader of men. He wants to chew glass, get into fights, and give off the tough-guy persona to a league full of tough guys. His staff is filled with former players with similar backgrounds and mindsets. DET personifies “Blue Collar” as much as any team in the league. To be determined if this approach can work and DET. If you have not followed the team, DET has had some of the worst losses in the league since Campbell’s tenure began when it comes to blown leads and aggressive mistakes.

DET came into this one with the last-ranked defense in the NFL when looking at both yards and points allowed, respectively. What surprises many, however, is the fact they came into the league with a top-10 offense in both categories. They do not have star power on that side of the ball. They have a quarterback who would not start on 20 teams in the league. How are they doing this? NYG got a front row seat in their Week 11 matchup at windy MetLife Stadium. It is that time of year.

NYG began the game with the ball. Left Guard Shane Lemieux was on the field for the first time, giving the team 4 of their 5 starters up front on the field. Evan Neal remained inactive with a knee injury. Two of the first three plays resulted in losses. They went three-and-out and DET responded with three points via a field goal by Michael Badgley. A week after Saquon Barkley’s 30+ touch performance and four days prior to their next game against DAL, backup running back Matt Breida made his mark early. He converted a 4th-and-1 rushing attempt before a 16-yard gain on a 3rd-and-7 a few plays later. This set them up for their first touchdown of the game, a 3-yard run by Daniel Jones.

The game stayed at 6-3 (the extra point was blocked), NYG up, for the next three possessions as the two ground-and-pound offenses were playing the field position battle. DET punter Jack Fox, a 2020 All-Pro, had consecutive punts of 57 and 63 yards. NYG’s #1 corner and fill-in punt returner, Adoree’ Jackson, was injured on the 57-yarder. He did not return and will be out a month. Jones threw an interception on a zone blitz that he did not recognize, throwing it directly to DET defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, the second overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. With the DET offense starting their drive in the red zone, it took just four plays for them to score on a Jamaal Williams four-yard run.

Thanks to an illegal block in the back by Nick McCloud on the ensuing kickoff, NYG started their drive on their own 6-yard line. They had gains of 19, 13, and 4 yards. Because of the penalty, that only got them to their own 42-yard line. They were forced to punt again as the NYG offensive line, with four starters in, continued to get abused. Punter Jamie Gillian then shanked one 25 yards. DET needed just three plays before they were in the red zone again and with under a minute remaining in the half, Williams scored a 1-yard touchdown to make the game 17-6. Poor clock management by Jones ended the half with the NYG offense near midfield.

DET opened the second half with another touchdown-scoring drive on the back of Williams yet again, his third score of the day. There was urgency in the NYG offensive huddle on the next drive. Down 18, at home, but up against the worst defense in the league. Barkley had just 18 yards on 10 first half carries, and they were approaching the point in the game where they needed points, and fast. The way to do that in the NFL? Throw the ball. On 4th-and-5 from the DET 40, Jones threw his second interception on a poorly placed ball. Rookie Kerby Joseph brought it in, his third of the season as he has emerged as the league’s top rookie safety so far.

DET did not convert this into points. They went three and out two possessions in a row, but NYG’s offense remained stagnant themselves. However, as the game turned to the fourth quarter, their fortune started to change even though they lost their most targeted receiver, rookie Wan’Dale Robinson, to a knee injury. He did not return and will be out the rest of the year. Breida did end up scoring NYG’s next touchdown on a 3-yard run but kicker Graham Gano missed the extra point. 24-12 DET.

NYG got the ball back with under 9:00. This was it, they needed to score a touchdown on this drive and who better than DET to do it against, a team that has made a living on blowing fourth quarter leads since the start of the Campbell-era. Jones threw two incomplete passes, center Nick Gates forgot to snap the ball on 3rd-and-10, and the anemic passing game needed a huge play. Jones delivered a strike to recently picked up receiver Isaiah Hodgins for a 20-yard gain. First down. But on the next play, right before he went down, Hodgins fumbled, and it was recovered by Hutchinson who was all over the field. DET needed four plays before D’Andre Swift got his turn at crossing the goal line on a 4-yard touchdown run.

NYG did end up getting that touchdown, a drive and turnover too late, on the next drive. Jones hit Richie James on a 9-yard crossing route. They were down 13 points with under 5:00 left in need of a successful two-point conversion to make it a TD + 2-point conversion + FG margin. Tight End Lawrence Cager dropped the pass from Jones, NYG remained down 13, and DET recovered the ensuing onsides kick. NYG would not touch the ball again. DET’s offensive line paved the way for two first downs via run-only in run-only situations and sucked the remaining NYG timeouts out of Brian Daboll’s hands.

NYG loses, 31-18.


-Daniel Jones: 27/44 – 341 yards / 1 TD – 2 INT / 74.1 RAT

Jones also added a team-high 50 yards on 7 carries including a touchdown. The 341 yards were the third-highest of his career and the 44 attempts were the second-highest. The DET defense, again the worst in the league because of how poor they perform against the pass, sold out on stuffing Barkley and the NYG running game. This will be what see week in, week out for the rest of year. Extra beef up front, defensive backs in the box, and sheer number advantages. Jones did make big throws. He did a fine job getting the ball out when receivers were open. He took what was there. He was productive (391 yards total). Checks in all of those boxes. But the interceptions were both on him. He did not read the zone blitz on the first one and he air-mailed the second one. While we can continue to pound the OL + pass catcher drum and rightfully so, this one will go in the negative bucket for Jones. He did not rise above.


-Saquon Barkley: 15 att – 22 yards / 2 rec – 13 yards

Barkley looked like a guy who carried the team a week earlier. He had less pop and speed than what we have seen this season. After reviewing the All-22, I also noted three runs where Barkley’s lack of aggression caused no gain or a loss. All three were plays that had a strong likelihood of going for 5+ yards, one of which could have been much bigger. Daboll has done a fine job with Barkley and this running game when it comes to putting the head down and getting those 2-3-4 yard gains. But we saw the version of Barkley who had too much tip-toeing, lack of desire, and overall slowness. That margin in between in this league is enormous. A poor game for Barkley but he was strong pass protection. He has turned that around in a big way.

-Matt Breida: 3 att – 13 yards – 1 TD / 1 rec – 16 yards

We did not see a lot of Breida in this one and I wish we saw more. He brought more energy to the offense than Barkley did, and it was obvious on the early drive where he converted a 4th- and 3rd-down conversion, respectively. While it is hard to keep #26 off the field, this was something obvious to see early on. With where NYG’s receivers are, I think more looks with both guys on the field should be a priority.


-The position group caught 22 passes for 292 yards, by far a season-high. Wan’Dale Robinson led the group with a line of 9/100 but suffered a torn ACL on the first play of the fourth quarter. Such an unfortunate blow for multiple reasons. One, it looked like Robinson’s role was starting to click here. He was the guy Jones could get the ball to on 3rd/4th down. He was the one who created the most on his own after the catch. Two, because of the nature of the injury and timing, this is something that could linger into 2023. My hope is he will be on the field Week 2 or 3.

-Darius Slayton came up with a few big plays. His 17.2 yards per catch in a game that he had 5 or more receptions were the most since Week 10 of 2020. The negative with Slayton continues to be drops. He added 2 more to his season total and double caught two others – meaning a slight bobble before bringing it in. On a team that lacks talent at WR – he is clearly the number one guy especially with Robinson out. He can make big plays in an offense that is begging for such in the passing game. But it is hard to rely on a guy with his caliber of hands and ball skills. He did come up with a key block on the Jones touchdown run early in the game.

-Maybe the loudest ovation of the day, whether it was genuine or sarcastic, came on the first Kenny Golladay reception. He had 2 catches on the day, both body-balls that he let come in to his numbers rather than attack it with his hands, for 29 yards. By default, Golladay will see more and more looks now.

-Richie James appeared out of the doghouse once Robinson went down. He responded with 3 catches for 48 yards and a touchdown, all coming in the fourth quarter. Isaiah Hodgins came up with 29 yards on 3 catches but lost a fumble that DET turned into a fourth quarter touchdown.


-Another lackluster day for the group overall. It is one thing to see a lack of impact on the game, but when the negative plays start to pop up, it becomes frustrating to watch. Tight end was mishandled this past offseason and even in-season. Lawrence Cager allowed a TFL, was flagged for offensive pass interference, and dropped a big 2-point conversion attempt with the team down 13. He did have 2 catches for 20 yards, but that was it for the group as a whole.


-I have long discussed the issues the interior of this line would present as the year went on. It was one of the first things I saw at camp back in August. They’ve played better than I anticipated but that doesn’t mean much. It has still been a well-below average group that was somewhat overshadowed by the smoke and mirrors offensive scheme. With Shane Lemiuex on the field for the first time this season, I had some optimism. That ended quickly. He allowed 3 pressures and a sack before being benched in the second half for rookie Josh Ezeudu, who allowed a pressure himself. Mark Glowinski was man-handled by Alim McNeill repeatedly. He allowed 2 pressures and was flagged for illegally blocking downfield on a drive that had NYG approaching field goal range and ended with a punt. His penalty was the turning point of the drive.

-Center Jon Feliciano left the game with a neck injury. He allowed a TFL and one pressure before heading out. Nick Gates started off as a blocking tight end but then took over at center for Feliciano. He was flagged twice, one of which was declined. As I said a few weeks ago, Gates is the guy that should be at center. He sustains contact better than Feliciano and gets more push.

-Andrew Thomas allowed 1 TFL but was otherwise lights out again. On the other side, Tyre Phillips had to be relieved by Matt Peart because of a neck injury. Phillips allowed a pressure before departing and Peart struggled with 2 pressures and a TFL. His hands were all over the place and it threw off his body control. Peart clearly has not clicked yet. The tools were there, and it was worth the gamble, but he simply cannot pass block consistently.


-Oshane Ximines had a solid game, pressuring Jared Goff 3 times and registering 1 tackle. He was flagged for a roughing penalty, however, on a 3rd-and-8 stop that gave DET an automatic first down on a 3-point scoring drive.

-Rookies Kayvon Thibodeaux added 2 tackles and 1 pressure and Tomon Fox had 1 tackle. Quiet and overall ineffective game for the two on limited looks, as Goff only threw 26 passes.

-Jihad Ward had 4 tackles, 1 pressure, and a pass break up. Martindale put him into coverage on a couple of occasions via the zone blitz and it hurt the defense. Ward moves more like a defensive tackle than a linebacker. Stiff and slow.


-Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams continue to play a ton of snaps. Lawrence had 3 pressures and a team-high 7 tackles while Williams added 1 pressure and 4 tackles. The DET interior is one of the best in football and these two won several matchups. The success DET had on the ground had very little to do with them.

-Henry Mondeaux remains ahead of the immobile Justin Ellis on the depth chart. He played 32 snaps while Ellis only saw 17. Both of them struggled against that OL.


-Rough day for the group. Rookie Micah McFadden got the start next to veteran Jaylon Smith and both were manhandled against the DET running game. McFadden is a step too slow especially in coverage. It keeps popping up and DET took advantage of it on the play-action crossing routes. He was also flagged for a pass interference. Smith had 6 tackles but 5 of them were assists. He was late to the running lanes and slow to fill. The lateral adjustments are worrisome, as he looks so stiff and rigid when he needs to adjust. He added 1 pressure.

-Tae Crowder saw an uptick in playing time late in the game and finished with 3 tackles and a TFL.


-Adoree’ Jackson missed most of the game because he was injured on a 3-yard punt return. He was recently put in that role because of the two Richie James fumbles in Seattle a few weeks ago. More on that below. Jackson will be out for a month, if not longer. I’ve said this a few times; Jackson is the one guy this defense could not afford to lose. Huge blow for the defense that has almost no margin left.

-Fabian Moreau suffered an oblique injury and may be out Thursday at DAL. That leaves the secondary with Darnay Holmes at nickel and a mixture of Nick McCloud, Rodarius Williams, and Cordale Flott on the outside as NYG is approaching a difficult slate of opposing offenses in the near future. Holmes and McCloud both had a TFL and were solid in coverage. They fit the aggressive scheme well and I feel good about them. The concerns are with Williams and Flott. Williams was beat in coverage multiple times in his first action of the season and Flott, a rookie who has played 22 snaps since Week 3, is raw. He dropped an interception but did force a fumble. These next few weeks will be huge for Flott when it comes to experience and learning from mistakes. It may be painful right now, but it could end up being beneficial to his future.


-Julian Love was the lone defender to play all of the snaps. Nobody else played 90% of the snaps. He tied for the team lead 7 tackles and added a TFL. He did miss a tackle on a 3rd-and-long conversion though and missed out on an interception late in the game, but it did end in a pass break up.

-Jason Pinnock was in and out of the game with a jaw/neck injury. He is very much an all-or-nothing type player on defense. He had a TFL and 3 tackles but added a missed tackle. I like the aggressive style and length he brings to the table. I hope he can stay on the field because NYG may have something in him.

-Rookie Dane Belton had 2 tackles but was ridden out of multiple plays by wide receiver and tight end blocks. That is a weakness in his game I’ve seen repeated a few times this season. He also allowed receptions on the two times he was targeted.


-K Graham Gano: 0/0 (One extra point blocked and he missed another)
-P Jamie Gillan: 4 punts / 38.3 avg – 38.3 net


-DT Dexter Lawrence, WR Wan’Dale Robinson, RB Matt Breida


-OG Shane Lemieux, LB Micah McFadden, RB Saquon Barkley


The Lions have passed their 2021-win total (3) with 7 games left on the schedule. They’re currently the 2nd place team in the NFC North. They have contests against JAC, NYJ, CAR, CHI, and GB remaining. Say what you want about the defensive and late-game struggles, but this team is on the rise. I believe in culture-building and I believe the resources DET has put into it will pay off. What is truly missing? They’re going to be limited with Jared Goff under center, that is the simple truth. The statistics are a bit misleading, as a lot of their production has come late in games against prevent-style coverages. But if their 2022 first rounder Jameson Williams, who may be back in December and was my second-ranked receiver behind Garrett Wilson last April, is a dude who checks every box. With next year being the vital third season of the Campbell-era, I can see them making THE aggressive move in the offseason for a quarterback. That can go in a few directions, but it is something I see happening one way or another.

The DET offensive line has been well built. Left tackle Taylor Decker, 1st round 2016. Left guard Jonah Jackson, 3rd round 2020. Center Frank Ragnow, 1st round 2018. Right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai, free agent signing in 2020 (currently on IR). Right tackle Penei Sewell, 1st round 2021. When I look at this offense that is top 10 in yards and scoring without a true number one receiver (or tight end now that they’ve traded T.J. Hockenson), Jared Goff at quarterback, and an overrated number one back in D’Andre Swift, it is impossible to not give most of the credit to their O-Line. It creates a strong notion in my head that adding yet another high pick to the group along the interior will very much be in the discussion next April.

The Dan Campbell experiment seems to be working. Now, the Colts seem to be re-energized by Jeff Saturday. Neither situation can be considered a full-blown win yet, but if they turn in to successes you can bet your bottom dollar other teams will follow suit. Coaching hires that have less to do with scheme, more to do with culture.


Two losses in their last three games. One win since October 24. Is NYG simply regressing toward the mean? Meaning is this what they truly are? A thin roster that cannot handle the multitude of injuries. A team that was winning a bunch of one-score games, but the law of average has arrived? I think NYG has some “dark” days ahead, meaning more and more losses, but let’s not get it twisted. This team has already exceeded expectations in 2022. They are still very early in this new regime and way of doing things. They’re playing with house money and, as we have been saying since August, they are looking for things that will build this roster and the future. They need some answers, and they need their young guys to get the experience of ups and downs. Anything else that comes, which includes a very-possible postseason birth, is icing on the cake.

If NYG wanted to put a premium playmaker in the return game, why not put Saquon Barkley back there? Because you don’t want him getting hurt. Then why put Adoree’ Jackson, who in my opinion was the most important player on defense, in that role? This coaching staff has been amazing from the start and Daboll is in the running for Coach of the Year. But that was the wrong move and they’re going to pay for it. I understand some of the decision-making revolved around feeling safe with Jackson (catching the ball) but losing him is going to be a potential season-changer for this defense and team.

Injuries aside, I’m glad NYG has a short week against a team that just absolutely crushed the 8-1 Vikings on the road 40-3. One team riding a high. One team riding a low. Both teams have seen their fair share of peaks and valleys this season. It is a divisional matchup. This is the first time this new regime is playing a repeat-opponent. I think NYG will be in this game on Thursday as crazy as it sounds. It’s the way the NFL works more often than not.

Nov 182022
Brian Daboll, New York Giants (November 13, 2022)

Brian Daboll – © USA TODAY Sports

It’s usually unwise to make bold proclamations after a small sample size. After all, New York Giants fans were feeling pretty good about Dan Reeves during the 1993 season and Jim Fassel during the 1997 season. And views about those two coaches changed radically in subsequent years. On the flip side, fans were ready to run Bill Parcells out of New Jersey after 1983 and Tom Coughlin after his third season in 2006. Nevertheless, I came to the conclusion this week that there is some very Belichick-ian about Brian Daboll.

For years, I have envied the way that Bill Belichick was able to import ordinary players, immediately get them up to speed in a new system, and have them become not-so-insignificant contributors to a winning program. Not only did the Giants make sweeping roster changes in the offseason, but since the end of August, they have picked up the following players off of the street, waiver wire, or other teams’ practice squads: Jason Pinnock, Jack Anderson, Henry Mondeaux, Tyre Phillips, Jaylon Smith, Fabian Moreau, Landon Collins, Tony Jefferson, Lawrence Cager, Marcus Johnson, Isaiah Hodgins, Terrell Burgess, and Vernon Butler. Fast forward to last week’s game, and Pinnock, Mondeaux, Phillips, Smith, Moreau, Cager, and Hodgins all were factors in the victory. That’s SEVEN players. Astounding.

59-year old Don “Wink” Martindale, who has coached in the NFL since 2004, said on Thursday, “I’ve never seen a roster move around the way this roster moved around with injuries and things like that.”

Combine that with the way this coaching staff has adjusted to the strengths and weaknesses of this roster.  All coaches talk about doing this, but few actually do it. Last Sunday, the Giants employed formations with eight offensive linemen on the field. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that before. But it seems like something like Belichick would do if his roster was configured the same way.

Winning in the NFL is about acquiring talent. But it’s also about how you manage the talent you have. Few teams have security at head coach. It’s why we see so many coaches fired each offseason and why the Giants have fired four coaches in six years. Regardless of how this team finishes this season, it appears the Giants may have the head coaching position finally figured out again.

The 2022 New York Giants are a team living on the edge. They don’t have the pass catchers to score a lot of points. Every contest has been (and will be) a nail-biter decided in the 4th quarter. That formula usually is not conducive to sustained winning because the law of averages usually catches up with you. Thus far, that has only happened twice for the Giants. I keep expecting the other shoe to drop, but the Giants keep winning. That said, my instincts still tell me that every opponent is certainly capable of embarrassing the Giants.  And that includes the Detroit Lions. Don’t sleep on the Lions. They are better than their record indicates.


  • WR Wan’Dale Robinson (hamstring – questionable)
  • WR Kenny Golladay (hamstring – questionable)
  • TE Daniel Bellinger (eye – out)
  • RT Evan Neal (knee – doubtful)
  • OG Josh Ezeudu (neck – questionable)
  • DL Dexter Lawrence (back – questionable)
  • OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux (illness – probable)
  • OLB Jihad Ward (thumb – probable)
  • S Dane Belton (clavicle – questionable)
  • PK Graham Gano (illness – probable)

Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka came from pass-happy systems. It’s extremely likely that their long-term vision for the Giants is a team that can throw the ball 35-40 times per game if necessary and doing so at an elite level. The drafting of Wan’Dale Robinson supports that conclusion. Nevertheless, both coaches recognized the limitations of the current personnel and massively altered their approach, turning the Giants into a run-first team.

The Giants have played nine games. In six of those games (all wins), they have run the ball more than they have thrown it. In both of their losses, they have thrown the ball more than they have run it. The reasons for this vary and often can’t be rationally discussed by fans who have formed intransigent views on the quarterback, running back, receivers, and blockers. But the reality is the coaching staff has come to the conclusion that it is better to play more conservatively on offense, and the W-L record based on the run/pass ratio seems to support that position. Points come out of the passing game. And they come out of big-chunk plays in the passing game. But the Giants are not currently built for that approach. If the Giants attempt to veer too much away from their current formula, the team is likely to see more three-and-outs, penalties, sacks, and worst of all, turnovers.

Which brings us to another stat that is not receiving enough attention: the Giants’ offense has lowest turnover rate in league. Only 5.3 percent of their possessions have ended with a turnover. Daniel Jones has thrown only two interceptions (and none since Week 3 against Dallas when his intended receiver fell down on a pick). And the Giants only have five lost fumbles, three of which were by Richie James on punt returns. It’s no coincidence that Giants’ turnovers were an issue in both of their losses. When the Giants don’t turn the football over, they probably are going to win the football game.

So fans yelling at the top of their lungs that Daboll and Kafka are being too conservative and need to open it up more are completely missing the point. They don’t understand the team’s limitations and why they are winning. You can try telling them, but they don’t want to listen. Same thing with any pre-game predictions that the Giants are going to score 30+ points. Unless the defense and special teams score, they aren’t going to do that this year.

The Giants’ formula, which they are pretty much wed to until the roster improves in the offseason, is based on playing it safe and not making mistakes. The Giants are not beating themselves with penalties and turnovers, but they are also not scoring a lot of points. The red-zone defense has kept them in contests and the Daboll/Kafka commitment to the ground game has paid off dividends in the 4th quarter of close games. The 2-yard run in the 1st quarter becomes the 14-yard run in the 4th quarter. It’s why so many of New York’s 4th-quarter comebacks have come not only on the right arm of Daniel Jones, but his legs and the legs of Saquon Barkley.

Enter the Detroit Lions and a larger danger than their 3-6 record suggests. The Lions are not only 6th overall in offense, but 9th in scoring. They average over 24 points per game and have scored more than 30 points in four games (35, 36, 45, and 31). The Giants simply cannot match those numbers. So not only does the offensive braintrust have to pray that Wink’s defense can hold the Lions to field goals, but the offense has to play keep-away by putting together long, clock-eating drives that hopefully result in at least 2-3 touchdowns.

The good news is that Detroit’s defense is dead last in yards allowed (416 yards per game) and points allowed (over 29 per game). The Lions also are not good on 3rd down and in red-zone defense. The Giants were able to employ a heavy run-first strategy against Houston’s 32nd-ranked run defense. Don’t expect a big change as Detroit is 31st against the run. However, Daboll and Kafka may rightfully be more concerned about the Lions scoring more points than the Texans against the New York defense. If so, I would not be shocked to see more play-action in the first half of this game than we are accustomed to. Much depends on the weather (it may be very windy) and the health of the receivers (see above injury list).

The loss of Xavier McKinney had a big, domino effect on the defense last week. A unit that largely kept Houston under wraps in the first half had trouble stopping 29th-ranked offense in the second half. McKinney was missed in coverage and as a tackler. His absence most likely will be noticed even more this week against the NFL’s 6th-ranked offense (8th passing, 10th running). Note the balance. Detroit can hurt you with run and the pass. And they are one of the top teams in the NFL in big plays, getting huge chunks of yardage (again, big plays are the key to point generation in the NFL). Not having McKinney in there for this game scares the heck out of me.

What makes Detroit so good on offense? First of all, they have one of the NFL’s best offensive lines. They are solid or better across the board, especially if their starting center plays this week as he is now expected to. Unbelievably, quarterback Jared Goff is only behind Patrick Mahomes in 20+ yard completions this year. WR Amon-Ra St. Brown is on pace for a near 100-catch season and is Goff’s go-to guy. Goff will also throw to wide receivers Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond, and running back D’Andre Swift. As for the ground game, it’s a 1-2 punch with Jamaal Williams being more of the workhorse and Swift being the more explosive, change of pace. This is a balanced, well-coached unit that has surprisingly performed well against quality teams.

Detroit’s big plays don’t come out of a reliance on the deep passing game but yards-after-the-catch (YAC) and big runs by their backs. When facing offenses like that, tackling become priority #1. Martindale and his staff will be preaching limiting the big play through gang-tackling. What is going to be tough is the play-action game. Because the Giants need to respect Detroit’s running game, the linebackers will be more vulnerable to run fakes, leaving gaps over the middle of the defense. This is exacerbated with the loss of McKinney with his instincts and range missing.

The match-ups I’m most curious to watch are up front. Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence are playing as well as any defensive linemen in the league. But the excessively high number of snaps is beginning to take a toll on Lawrence, who was limited this week with a back injury. These two also face one of the better OLs in the NFL. The Giants need Williams and Lawrence to be at their best along with Kavyon Thibodeaux making his presence felt. Detroit will likely target Dane Belton and/or Jason Pinnock in coverage. They will also have Swift test the linebackers in coverage.

I firmly believe this game is going to come down to red-zone offense and defense for both teams. Detroit is going to move the ball. But the Giants need to keep them from reaching the end zone in order to keep the game close.

Daboll and Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey have highlighted Detroit’s tendency so surprise opponents on special teams. “(Head Coach) Dan (Campbell) is real aggressive,” said McGaughey. “And at any point in time, you can get a surprise onside kick. You could get a fake punt. So, we’ll work on that stuff this week, and we got to stay ready for it.”

Punter Jamie Gillan is going through a rough stretch and needs to rebound. The Giants’ punt return game remains uneasily unsettled. McGaughey seemed to indicate a continuation of the Adoree’ Jackson/Richie James split. Neither seems like a good answer.

Head Coach Brian Daboll on the Detroit Lions: “They create explosive plays. (Jared) Goff plays at a high level; he’s a very accurate passer downfield, intermediate, off the play action. And then their two runners have taken it to the distance a few times. They’re both a little bit different but both very good. They’ve scored 30 points four times. In six of their losses, four of them have been four points or less. The other one against the Cowboys it was 10-6 with 3:20 left. Explosive team. Good football team… Look, they create explosive plays. The other thing they’re really good at is down in the red zone, finishing drives… We’re going to have to do a good job of trying to slow them down and make sure we’re tackling and not giving up 50-yard runs that they break through, taking care of the deep part of the field and things like that on defense. Offensively, do our job in terms of executing and trying to go down and score points and then create field position in the kicking game – another good team. Dan (Campbell) has run a variety of fakes since he’s been there: onside kicks, surprise onside kicks, fake punts.”

This is an important game for the Giants, especially with the upcoming short week before Dallas on Thanksgiving. This is a contest where the weather and fans could really work in the Giants’ favor if the wind does pick up and the fans remain loud. You already know my thoughts on the keys… turnovers, red-zone offense, red-zone defense. Both of these teams have played an inordinate number of close games. The difference is the Giants have been winning the close games while the Lions have been losing them.