Dec 142018
 
Share Button
Pat Shurmur, New York Giants (August 17, 2018)

Pat Shurmur – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Tennessee Titans at New York Giants, December 16, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
The storyline? Somehow the once 1-7 New York Giants are still alive for playoff spot with three games left to play. And had the now 5-8 Giants, still in last place in the NFC East, not blown their most recent game against the Philadelphia Eagles, they would actually have a serious shot at making the post-season.

The 4-1 run over the last five games is a testament to the continued fighting spirit of a still undermanned and patchwork team, as well as an indictment of the quality of their recent opponents (or more specifically, the quality of their opponents’ quarterbacks). But is it improvement. The Giants are actually beating teams. And as I pointed out last week, they are actually beating up on teams.

It is not likely the Giants will make the playoffs. Their destiny is only partially within their own hands. But you can only control what you can control, and the next task is to beat the Tennessee Titans. This is the type of physical opponent who has given the Giants problems in recent years. The Titans will be a far better litmus test to evaluate how much progress the 2018 New York Giants have truly made.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Odell Beckham (quad – out)
  • TE Rhett Ellison (ankle – probable)
  • LT Nate Solder (abdomen – probable)
  • S Curtis Riley (wrist – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:

The Giants will be facing a tough 3-4 defense. Tennessee is 9th in the NFL in yards allowed and 4th in scoring defense (less than 20 points per game). The Titans are also 6th in pass defense in the entire NFL. Most notable is that the Titans have the #1 redzone defense. Because Tennessee isn’t a big media market, many fans have not heard of their best players. Defensive lineman Jurrell Casey (7 sacks) is one of the best in the business. The back seven linebackers and defensive backs are tough and active. Aside from Casey, most of the pass rush comes from their linebackers.

Eli Manning’s press conferences are routinely boring affairs. But he made some very interesting comments this week. Eli said the Giants’ offense is still figuring out its path.  When asked what he meant by that, Manning responded, “Just our identity and being able to run the ball. I think that’s been the biggest difference since the bye. Just an emphasis on running the ball, the play-action. A lot more under center. Not as much shotgun. Not as much seven-step drop. Just having everything build off the run game.”

A myth has developed around Manning’s career that he was only good when he had the benefit of a good running game and defense. Nothing could have been more opposite from the truth during his career-season in 2011. But with age and the unending beatings he has taken over the past six years, Manning has morphed into that type of quarterback. I wouldn’t call him a “game manager” because he’s still capable of big-time games and big-time throws. But even he himself seems to recognize that he is at the point of his career where relying on the run is better for him and the offense as a unit.

The coaching staff and the players now seem to fully understand that the centerpiece of this offense is not Eli Manning. And it’s not Odell Beckham. It is a 21-year old kid from Penn State who has only played in 13 professional football games. The more Saquon Barkley touches the ball, the more likely the New York Giants will win the football game. Overly simplistic and sophomoric analysis? Perhaps. But when the kid gets his 20 touches, good things happen.

It will also be important for Evan Engram to build upon last week’s game. For the first time in 2018, Engram looked like the player many of us expected him to be. His two long, run-after-the-catch plays against Washington were difference makers. The Giants need more of that.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:

The game plan is easy to identify but harder to implement: stop the run. The Titans are 11th in the NFL in rushing. But they are #3 in rushing attempts. In a pass-happy NFL, almost half of their offensive snaps are rushing attempts. And it’s a three-headed monster:

  1. Derrick Henry is the 6’3”, 247-pound, powerful punisher. Henry is averaging 4.9 yards per carry and has nine rushing touchdowns. (Though note his 712 rushing yards is inflated by last week’s 99-yard run in which Pop Warner teams have tackled better).
  2. The much smaller (5’8”, 195 pounds), but quicker Dion Lewis who has 50 receptions out of the backfield in addition to his 477 rushing yards. Keep in mind, the Giants don’t have a good track record covering backs.
  3. Quarterback Marcus Mariota has rushed for 339 yards and two touchdowns this year. The Giants have struggled with mobile quarterbacks, including Josh Johnson last week.

When the Titans do put the ball up, aside from Lewis catching the ball out of the backfield, wide receiver Corey Davis (54 receptions) is the main target. Mariota is completing 69 percent of his passes, but only has 11 touchdown throws. The Titans also have allowed 43 sacks (tied with the Giants for 3rd worst in the NFL).

Interestingly, 10 of New York’s 24 sacks have come in the last two games. Olivier Vernon is starting to tease again. But containing Mariota on the ground will be one of the biggest keys to this game. The Giants must maintain disciplined pass rush lanes. And they need to cover Lewis. Linebacker coverage has been a sore spot.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:

The Giants face a major test this week in kickoff return specialist Darius Jennings who is averaging over 34 yards per return, including a 94 yarder. Adoree’ Jackson is also a dangerous punt returner.

THE FINAL WORD:
The Titans are a tough, physical 7-6 football team that plays outstanding defense and can rush the football. This is the type of team that has given the Giants fits during the 2012-17 period. But the Giants are starting to show their own brand of toughness. This will be a good test for them. The Titans don’t score much, but other teams don’t score much on them either. Give Barkley 20 touches or more, stop the run, and prevent the big return on special teams. Get to 6-8 and live to fight another day.

Dec 112018
 
Share Button
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (December 9, 2018)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 40 – Washington Redskins 16

QUICK RECAP

On October 28, the Giants lost to WAS and the two teams were heading in complete opposite directions. However 5 weeks have passed and in the NFL, that can be an eternity. Since then, WAS has lost its starting quarterback to a horrific leg injury, lost 4 of 5 games, and lost its identity overall. They lead the league in players on the IR after finishing 2nd on that list in 2017 and when we talk about trying to avoid a losing culture, what we see in WAS is exactly what we are talking about.

The Odell Beckham-less Giants offense (a quad injury sidelined him) started off slow. The offensive line was leaky, as they were last time these two teams faced off, and Saquon Barkley dropped a pass that could have been a big gain. The WAS offense was being led by Mark Sanchez, who was signed off of the street following Alex Smith’s injury a few weeks ago, and they weren’t going anywhere fast either. This had the feel of an old school, grind it out NFC East battle.

With just under 3 minutes left in the first quarter, a Sanchez pass was tipped at the line by Kareem Martin and right into the waiting arms of Curtis Riley who could have walked into the end zone. The Giants took control early in a game where it looked like it would be incredibly difficult for WAS to even pass midfield, let alone score points.

The Giants offense gradually woke up in the 2nd quarter. Thanks to a 30-yard, in-the-bucket throw by Eli Manning to Corey Coleman up the left sideline, NYG had a first and goal from the WAS 3-yard line. However their next 2 plays resulted in -14 yards and they settled for a 35-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas. They were up 10-0 with some momentum churning.

After another 3 and out by the WAS offense, NYG got the ball back and handed the ball to Barkley to get the drive going. Well, that drive lasted that one play, as he burst into the open field and outran the defensive back angles all the way for a 78-yard touchdown. The speed in the open field had that race to the goal line won before he reached the WAS 40-yard line. NYG was up 17-0 and the wind was out of the sails for WAS. It took just 2 plays before Sanchez turned it over a second time, this time a toss to Alec Ogletree, who intercepted his 5th pass of the season. Manning then found a wide open Sterling Shepard in the end zone for maybe the easiest touchdown of the year. It took just 4 minutes of game clock for NYG to extend their lead from 7-0 to 24-0, and they weren’t done yet.

WAS had another 3 and out and on the sixth play of the next NYG drive, Manning found Bennie Fowler in the end zone. 31-0. Felt good to be on this side of a complete and utter blowout. What happened next? You guessed it, another Was 3 and out and NYG strove to get one more drive towards the end zone going. A short pitch and long run by Evan Engram brought the offense all the way down to 5 yard line. They failed to punch it in, but a 23-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter out NYG ahead 34-0 at halftime.

Even though this game seemed out of reach, the NYG defense needed to squash any idea of a potential comeback. They sacked Sanchez twice on WAS’ opening drive of the second half and then gave Manning’s offense one more opportunity to drive down the field and put more points on the board. A 9-play, 81-yard drive ended with Manning’s third touchdown of the day, this one to Russell Shepard who caught his second touchdown in as many weeks.

WAS then made a QB change to former Giant Josh Johnson, another signal caller they signed off the street just a week ago. Johnson actually put together some sandlot-style football against a Giants defense that knew they had done enough to win the game. They scored two 4th quarter touchdowns while the Giants offensive success came to a halt as rookie Kyle Lauletta took over.

While the game never got close again, WAS did consistently move the ball behind Johnson and NYG failed to cross mid-field besides their final 2 minutes of the game. However no complaints and no bad taste left in their mouths.

Giants win 40-16.

QUARTERBACKS

-Eli Manning: 14/22 – 197 yards – 3 TD / 0 INT. Not much was needed out of Manning. But after a cold start to the day, he and the NYG offense turned into a machine for the 2nd and 3rd quarters. He really spread the ball out well, which was hard considering he only threw the ball 22 times. He fit balls into tight windows on 2 of his touchdowns and connected a couple times downfield. His 2 standout-mistakes were near the end zone, however. He got away with a near-INT at the end of the 1st half thanks to Sterling Shepard playing the role of defensive back. And he also took a huge sack that resulted in a 14-yard loss. He can’t go that far back in his evasion, especially for a guy that simply can’t evade. This was Manning’s 5th game of the year with a 110+ QB rating.

-Kyle Lauletta: 0/5 – 0 yards – 0 TD / 1 INT. Not a big enough sample size to really fairly evaluate Lauletta. But I do hope fans and media-alike saw the gap between what NYG has in Manning and what they could have in a 4th round rookie from Richmond. I don’t want to knock him while he is down, especially in a game like that, but Lauletta didn’t look good. He threw an INT and had another one dropped by a WAS defender.

RUNNING BACKS

-Saquon Barkley: 14 att – 170 yards – 1 TD / 4 rec – 27 yards. The elite-level running back scored on a 78-yard touchdown that displayed the burst, balance, and runaway speed that most backs just don’t have. He had a few other runs that showed how versatile his game is and perhaps the best part about it was that he only touched the ball 18 times. It is not a coincidence that this offense turned it around the instant he broke off the long run.

-Wayne Gallman got a season-high 14 carries and rushed for 38 yards. He got a lot of mop-up time where the defense really keyed in on him, so there isn’t much judgment to be done besides that fact that he ran hard and hungry. Elijah Penny also got 5 carries and gained 21 yards in addition to a 16-yard gain on a screen pass. There is some interesting athletic ability to his game that can be used in a variety of ways.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Sterling Shepard: 2 rec / 17 yards / 1 TD. Perhaps Shepard’s best play of the afternoon was his pass break-up on a ball that Eli Manning threw right to cornerback Greg Stroman. It could have given WAS some needed momentum heading into halftime. Shepard’s touchdown catch was as easy as it gets in this league but he is a guy who continues to make plays that matter. Not a dynamic downfield threat, but he may be the guy I trust the most when it comes to getting open. And one thing that doesn’t get discussed enough is how impactful he is as a blocker. He threw a key block on Barkley’s long TD run and is always hustling in that department.

-Corey Coleman: 2 rec / 43 yards. With Odell Beckham sidelined, Coleman was the team’s vertical threat. They gave him a couple of deep shots, one of which he came down with in the 2nd quarter.

-Russell Shepard and Bennie Fowler each caught one pass in the end zone. While these two are roster fillers, they have done well in their limited opportunities. They have come up with big/important plays when the team needed them.

TIGHT ENDS

-Evan Engram: 3 rec / 77 yards. After missing last week’s game with a hamstring injury, Engram came back and didn’t have a lot of opportunities. With that said, he made the most of what was given to him. He had two huge gains after the catch, showing off his legit 4.4 caliber speed. Sometimes we forget just how explosive this kid is. His blocking grade was solid, although the team appears to be taking him off the field in run-only situations now.

-Scott Simonson and Rhett Ellison both graded out above average as blockers but did not factor in the passing game.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

-Solid day for Nate Solder. His name wasn’t called much at all in a negative fashion, as he ended the day with his highest grade of the season. His play has stabilized but I still see him getting walked back a few too many times.

-Chad Wheeler was one of the guilty culprits for the NYG slow start on offense. He was flagged for a holding penalty and allowed a sack. He was solid the rest of the way, though.

GUARDS / CENTERS

-All the talk surrounding Jamon Brown’s presence stabilizing this entire offense is a little overblown. I think that is coincidence more than anything, as he continues to be very up and down (although that is a better performance than what we have seen at RG over the past few years). Brown allowed a sack, a pressure, and was flagged for a false start. While he does make several key blocks in this potent rushing attack, his inconsistencies that led to him being cut by the Rams are popping up weekly.

-Will Hernandez continues to be a rock at LG. Facing off against that interior WAS defensive line is no small task, and he answered the bell. He did allow a TFL but for the most part, he was very solid. He has had a positive grade in all but 2 games this year.

-Spencer Pulley, we know by now, is the weak link to this OL. He allowed both a pressure and a TFL, something we see every week with him. OC will be one of the top priorities for this team in the offseason and fortunately the draft class at that spot may be the best we have seen in awhile.

EDGE

I don’t agree with all of the distaste for Oliver Vernon. I do think he is overpaid when looking at his production, but edge rushers are extremely hard to find. And I think I’ve said this before, but this team’s overall pass rush vastly improved since he came back from injury earlier in the year. He finished with 1.5 sacks and 5 tackles.

-Lorenzo Carter returned to the lineup and had a very disruptive game in his rotational role. He had 5 tackles, 1 pressure, and 1 sack. What stood out to me at Georgia last year in addition to his superb athleticism, was how disciplined he stays within the scheme. Carter played very tight assignment football and it helped get the job done for the defense as a whole.

-Kareem Martin continues his role as a solid role player who can be rotated in and out. He tipped a ball at the line that ended up being intercepted and returned for a TD by Curtis Riley to break the game’s 0-0 tie. He added 2 pressures and a half-sack.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

-Dalvin Tomlinson , Josh Mauro, and BJ Hill had their best game as a trio since the Damon Harrison trade. They absolutely owned the inside gaps and were active in pursuit against the run and as pass rushers. Their 7 combined tackles don’t even begin to tell the story of how much they dominated. Tomlinson 1 pressure and 1 TFL; Mauro had 1 TFL, 1 pressure, 1 sack; and Hill had 3 pressures and was in the backfield all afternoon.

-Rookie RJ McIntosh is seeing an increase in playing time little by little each week. I like how this defense can bring him along slowly because of how deep and versatile the group is. McIntosh shows impressive speed in pursuit. He made a tackle in space in the 1st quarter where he pursued Chris Thompson across the tackle box and met him at the turn-up point for the takedown. It was an impressive display of athletic ability that I don’t think any of the guys above could have made. He still has a ways to go with is hands and technique, but his upside is on display.

LINEBACKERS

-Alec Ogletree continues his hot streak. He leads NFL linebackers with 5 interceptions after coming down with one in the second quarter. He also added a pass break up in addition to a team leading 8 tackles and 2 TFL. The career up-and-down linebacker has shown stretches like this before and if he can ever keep the bad games away like we saw about a month ago, he can rightfully be considered a top tier linebacker in the NFL.

-BJ Goodson and Tae Davis split duty next to Ogletree but they weren’t on the field much to make a real impact, as the Giants defensive personnel went defensive back-heavy with WAS being so far behind and having to throw often.

CORNERBACKS

-Janoris Jenkins and BW Webb continue to be the two most steady rocks of the secondary, maybe even the entire defense. While they were up against a low-level passing offense from top to bottom, they did what they were supposed to do – dominate. Webb was in lockdown mode all day and Jenkins got tested a couple times deep and won his battles.

-Grant Haley was on the field for nearly every snap and he has been making eye-opening plays weekly. He continued that trend with 5 tackles and a TFL. Despite his size, his physical and aggressive nature really stand out.

SAFETIES

-Michael Thomas stepped in for the injured Landon Collins. He finished with 6 tackles and the game-sealing interception. While he did show some physical limitations in coverage, he played accurate assignment football and brings a physical presence to the back end.

-Curtis Riley had a really productive day: 3 tackles, 1 interception, and 2 pressures paved the way for his most impactful game as a Giant. He also scored the first touchdown of the day on a ball that was deflected right into his hands in the first quarter. The speed and physical style are easily attractive, but he missed 2 tackles on the day and ranks near the lead league in that category.

-Sean Chandler is going to get more and more looks over the next 3 weeks. He responded with 3 tackles, a pass break up, and a sack. The coaching staff has liked his style from day one and I can see why. Very easy mover with good instincts and a nose for the action. I want to see more reliable tackling and more assertive run-reactions.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 2/2 (Made 35, 23). Rosas missed an extra point. There seemed to be a few snap-to-hold exchanges that were delayed. A good, but not perfect day for the Pro Bowl hopeful.

-P Riley Dixon: 6 Punts / 43.0 avg / 43.3 net. Very good day for Dixon who is quietly having a very good year. He pinned one inside the 5 that eventually led to the Giants defensive touchdown.

-PR Jawill Davis had 5 returns for 51 yards, including a 23 yarder. He is a tough dude and he knows that he is only going to stick around showing what he can do on returns. He takes pride in the role and that is all you can ask for.

3 STUDS

-RB Saquon Barkley, LT Nate Solder, LB Alec Ogletree

3 DUDS

-OG Jamon Brown, OC Spencer Pulley, DE Kerry Wynn

3 THOUGHTS ON WAS

-We talk about winning and losing cultures a lot. Some people think it is complete BS, some believe strongly in it. To each their own. However, when watching these two teams that are both more than likely “out of it” play on the same field at the same time, there was an obvious difference in approach. Does that carry over into the future? I think it can. And it makes me think if this is the last we are going to see of Jay Gruden.

-WAS has been the most injury-hurt team in the NFL over the past three years. If at any point you feel like NYG has gotten the short end of the stick there, just go look at what they have had to deal with over the years. Just brutal.

-Is there any reason for optimism in WAS? Alex Smith may be done for good. They have ignored the idea of drafting a young QB in recent years despite long-term question marks. Their best offensive player is a soon-to-be 34-year old running back who will be a free agent in a couple months. It looks bleak. But I’ve said this before about WAS and I will say it again: they are strong in the trenches and that is always the best place to start a rebuild. That process is already complete.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-NYG is still playing like they have something to reach. Mathematically they are still in the wild card hunt and even though the odds are stacked against them, it’s important to see how they respond to specific situations. How many times have we seen this team play down to the level of competition on the field in games where they were clearly the better team? NYG took a vulnerable WAS team and stomped on their throats. I don’t care who you are up against in the NFL, that is hard to do.

-So maybe we temper the “Kyle Lauletta needs to get starts” talks for now. Again, NYG is still in it, Manning and the offense have more than just stabilized, they are playing very well, and the 4th round rookie looked awful in his limited snaps. There is a possibility, and I will say it is a strong one, that this offense simply needed time to mend together. New players, new coaches, new schemes. If they continue this momentum into the end of the year, you can bet I will be calling for them to remain intact heading into 2019.

-If this defense can get a top-tier edge rusher, and yes I know that is easier said than done, that front line is going to cause a lot of problems for opponents in the coming years. While Tomlinson and Hill aren’t exactly game-wreckers, they are as reliable and consistent as anyone can ask for against both the run and pass. I spoke about Vernon as being a solid player and Carter has the look of a solid rotational player. Keep combining “solid” with a star, and big things can happen to the pass rush. NYG’s will have one available when they are on the clock in the first round next April.

Dec 092018
 
Share Button
New York Giants Offense (December 9, 2018)

A Good Day – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 40 – WASHINGTON REDSKINS 16…
The New York Giants improved their overall record to 5-8 by destroying the Washington Redskins 40-16 on Sunday afternoon at FedExField in Maryland. The game was 40-0 in the 3rd quarter when the Giants pulled out some of their key starters. Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. also did not play in the game due to a quad injury.

The bulk of the first quarter was pretty ugly for both offenses. The Redskins and Giants each punted three times to start the game with both teams each only picking up two first downs.

The New York avalanche of points began late in the first quarter when free safety Curtis Riley picked off a a deflected pass from quarterback Mark Sanchez and returned it nine yards for a defensive touchdown. Then after a three-and-out by Washington, the Giants went up 10-0 by  driving 43 yards in nine plays to set up a 35-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas.

After the Redskins went three-and-out again, the Giants blew the game open on the first ensuing offensive snap. Running back Saquon Barkley ran away from the Washington defense on a 78-yard touchdown gallop. Giants 17 – Redskins 0.

It only got uglier for Washington. Linebacker Alec Ogletree picked off a deflected pass at the Washington 28-yard line and returned it to the 10. On 3rd-and-goal, quarterback Eli Manning found a wide open wide receiver Sterling Shepard for a touchdown and a 24-0 advantage. The Redskins went three-and-out, and spurred by a 52-yard run by Barkley, the Giants got into the endzone again right after the 2-minute warning when Manning threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Bennie Fowler. Still the Giants were not done. The Redskins went three-and-out and the Giants got the ball back with 56 seconds left on the clock. A 39-yard pass to tight end Evan Engram set up the Giants at the 5-yard line. New York settled for a 23-yard field goal as time expired.

At the half, the Giants led 34-0.

Both teams exchanged punts to start the second half. On New York’s second possession of the third quarter, the Giants drove 81 yards in nine plays, culminating with an 11-yard touchdown pass to wideout Russell Shepard. The extra point was missed, but the Giants were now up 40-0. The Redskins benched Sanchez and the Giants began to pull some of their starters.

The rest of the game anti-climatic and a bit sloppy, reminiscent of a preseason contest. Washington’s next drive ended on a failed 4th-and-2 conversion attempt at the New York 22-yard line. The Redskins got the ball back when Giants back-up quarterback Kyle Lauletta’s second pass of the game was intercepted, setting up Washington at the New York 33-yard line. Five plays later, Redskins back-up quarterback Josh Johnson scrambled for an 8-yard touchdown. The 2-point conversion attempted succeeded. Giants 40 – Redskins 8.

New York went three-and-out. The Redskins cut the score to 40-16 after a 79-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to wide receiver Jamison Crowder, and another successful 2-point conversion attempt. The last Washington threat ended with under five minutes play when safety Michael Thomas picked off Johnson in the end zone. The Giants then ran out the clock.

Manning finished the game 14-of-22 for 197 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions for a QB rating of 132.0. His leading targets were Barkley (4 catches for 27 yards) and Engram (3 catches for 77 yards). Barkley carried the football 14 times for 170 yards and a touchdown.

The Giants accrued five sacks and and three interceptions. Linebacker Olivier Vernon (1.5), linebacker Lorenzo Carter (1.0), safety Sean Chandler (1.0), defensive end Josh Mauro (1.0), and linebacker Kareem Martin (0.5) all got to the quarterback. The interceptions were by Riley, Ogletree, and Thomas.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. (quad), quarterback Alex Tanney, tight end Garrett Dickerson, center Evan Brown, nose tackle John Jenkins, cornerback Tony Lippett, and safety Kenny Ladler.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Pat Shurmur and the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Pat Shurmur (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (Video)
  • LB Alec Ogletree (Video)

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur and select players will address the media on Monday.

Dec 072018
 
Share Button
Evan Engram, New York Giants (October 28, 2018)

Evan Engram – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: New York Giants at Washington Redskins, December 9, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
Some fans won’t agree with my premise that Pat Shurmur’s job was in jeopardy. His pre-bye week 1-7 start was a disaster and included two double-digit losses. The so-called offensive guru “quarterback whisperer” had two of league’s premium players (Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham), but his offense had only cracked the 20-point mark twice in eight games. Factoring in the last year of Ben McAdoo, the team did not seem to be improving with a combined 2017-18 record of 4-20.

An uptick occurred when the Giants beat two of the other dregs in the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers and and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, scoring 65 points in the process (or just seven fewer than the 72 scored in five losses). Then disaster struck. Having dominated the despised Philadelphia Eagles for almost two quarters, and leading 19-3, Pat Shurmur made a number of highly-questionable coaching decisions en route to a devastating 25-22 loss. This ended any realistic chance of a late-season playoff push in a terrible division.

Which brings us to last Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears. I will argue this will end up being one of the most important games in franchise history, for better or worse. Consider this:

  • Had the Giants lost another game in catastrophic fashion: The Giants led by 10 points with 1:49 left in the game. Encumbered by more questionable coaching decisions combined with poor execution, fans watched another late-game meltdown reminiscent of the 1997 playoff loss to the Minnesota Vikings. If the Giants had lost this game, combined with the previous week’s nightmare, the ENTIRE fan base would have been calling for Shurmur’s head.
  • With the Giants winning the game in dramatic fashion: Ownership can now legitimately point to the fact that the team is 3-1 in its last four games (and darn close to 4-0). The Redskins are now reeling and the other final three teams (Titans, Colts, and Cowboys) are not world-beaters. It’s not so far-fetched to believe the Giants could now end up closer to .500 than .250.

My point? If you agree with my premise that Shurmur was on shaky ground, then last week’s game has all but officially ensured that he will be the team’s head coach moving forward. I wrote in last week’s preview:

If the Giants play hard and keep it close, Pat Shurmur will gain respect in my eyes. But if this team starts to tank, John Mara had better reconsider all of his options.

The Giants could have easily tanked after the Eagles’ fiasco. And they could have easily tanked after watching their 10-point lead evaporate in 109 seconds. But they didn’t. That doesn’t mean that Shurmur is the right guy for the job. His game-management issues reared their ugly head again against the Bears. But a still-undermanned team is still listening to him, and playing hard for him.

Assuming Shurmur survives, he ought to send a huge Christmas gift to Saquon Barkley. It was Barkley who turned a 3rd-and-23 into a 57-yard field goal attempt. It was Barkley who ripped off a 29-yard run on the first play of overtime to set up the 44-yard game winner. It reminded me of the end of the 2006 season, when an embattled Tom Coughlin may have been saved by the 234-yard rushing effort by Tiki Barber. Coughlin had watched his 6-2 Giants fall to 7-8. Everyone was calling for Tom’s head (including me). But Tiki saved his ass by practically single-handily destroying the Redskins, and putting the Giants into the playoffs at 8-8.

The storyline(s)? This is Pat Shurmur’s team for another season. And because the team appears to be improving, it would seem that Kyle Lauletta will remain on the bench and Eli Manning will return in 2019 as the starting quarterback. Like I said, the outcome of the game against the Bears had huge implications.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Sterling Shepard (rib – probable)
  • TE Evan Engram (hamstring – probable)
  • LB Lorenzo Carter (hip – probable)
  • LB B.J. Goodson (neck/foot – questionable)
  • LB Tae Davis (ankle – questionable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:

Lost in the dramatics of last week’s game was the Jekyll and Hyde performance of the offense against a very good Chicago Bears’ defense. Aside from Barkley’s 22-yard run at the end of the half, the offense was a disaster. Up until that point, there were only three first downs, with the results being five punts and one turnover. In the second half, the Giants scored two touchdowns on their first two drives, came close to scoring on their fourth drive, and moved into game-winning field goal position in overtime on their sixth drive.

Why the dramatic improvement? The team was able to consistently run the football. Including his 22-yarder right before halftime, Barkley had carried the football seven times for 43 yards in the first half. In the second half, he carried the ball 17 times for 82 yards. These are not earth-shattering numbers, but the Giants kept the down-and-distance situations manageable and the Bears were not able to tee off on Manning. Just as importantly, in the second half, the Giants looked and felt like the more physical football team. I am going to say this again because this is something that has been lacking since the days of Tom Coughlin: The Giants looked and felt like the more physical football team.

Moving forward, the direction this team should take is obvious: build the offense around the running game. Bring in additional big, strong, physical offensive linemen who can maul defenders. Be the more physical football team. Barkley has the ability to dominate. Give him the supporting cast to do so.

With all that in mind, there are a few offensive guys on this team who I am going to watch very closely the last four games:

  • Evan Engram: One of the biggest disappointments of the season. He is a liability in the running game and has only 23 catches for 257 yards and two touchdowns all season. Is he the right fit for this offense? At the very least, turn him into more of an H-Back/move tight end than traditional 3-point stance, hand-in-the-dirt tight end. The latter isn’t working.
  • Scott Simonson: Talk about Jekyll and Hyde. Last week, his three penalties stood out like a sore thumb. But so did his blocking at the point of attack against Khalil Mack.
  • Elijhaa Penny: Again, I saw some really solid, physical lead blocks from the fullback… something I had not seen in a long time.
  • Both tackles: After a dreadful first half of the season, Nate Solder has dramatically improved. The final four games are huge in order to determine if he is an asset or liability moving forward. On the other hand, Chad Wheeler gives the appearance of a try-hard guy who simply may not be big and strong enough to start in the NFL. I won’t write him off yet. But the clock is ticking.
  • Jamon Brown: He looks the part. Big, powerful, strong. And he can abuse people in the running game. But can he become a consistently solid pass protector? Keep watching.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:

We all saw and felt it last week. The defense (with an assist from the special teams) had let a 10-point lead evaporate. They had already let the Bears convert on a 4th-and-7 in overtime. At this point, James Bettcher had had enough. He brought the kitchen sink on 4th-and-8 and left the defensive backs in 0 coverage (no safety support). Janoris Jenkins saved the day. It was risky as you could get, but Bettcher had had enough.

Moving forward, the defense may need more help than the offense. We’ve discussed the issues ad nauseam: the Giants can’t rush the passer, they can’t cover the middle of the field, and now they are having issues stopping the run.

We should not lose sight on one critical piece of information: during the Giants’ 3-1 uptick, they have played against a series of underwhelming back-up quarterbacks: Nick Mullens, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Chase Daniels. Now comes Mark Sanchez. This is not murderer’s row… and yet the Giants still have had issues with this group. That’s not a good sign.

Again, here are some players who I will be watching closely down the stretch:

  • B.W. Webb: I’m glad Sy’56 had the courage to bring this up, but Webb has been playing very well. He’s looked like an NFL starter. Flash in the pan or is this a career renaissance moment for him?
  • Grant Haley: He has had some down moments, but there is a lot to like his game. Can he become a quality nickel corner on a winning defense?
  • Sean Chandler: The injury to Landon Collins opens the door for a this rookie longshot from Temple. And with Collins’ pending free agent status, who knows?
  • Olivier Vernon: The injury-prone tease drew praise from James Bettcher this week: “I’ll tell you what, when I’m watching him play – number one he’s getting healthier. Came off a tough injury, played well in that first game then was working through all that stuff and I think he’s getting healthier, number one, and number two the guy I saw rushing – he was rushing as the reckless OV that I think we saw in OTAs and preseason. Just staying with his rush plan throughout the game then in the run game just getting off the ball and being physical at the point and I think those are probably the two things. I think he feels better and I’m watching him practice and he’s practicing better during the week these last couple of weeks and I think that’s leading him to play better on Sunday.”
  • B.J. Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson: So much of the defense’s immediate and long-term future depends on these two. Both flashed against the Bears. But their run defense needs to improve.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:

As I mentioned in the YES Network-BBI podcast this week, what we had not seen from Aldrick Rosas thus far was his performance under immense pressure. While the 57 yarder will be remembered as a team record, his 44 yarder in overtime was probably the more impressive kick due to the pressure of the moment. The Giants have a kicker.

THE FINAL WORD:
This is a winnable game. But keep in mind that the offense only scored SIX points against the Redskins until garbage time in the previous game (it was 20-6 with three minutes left). For the Giants to win this game, the offense will have to demonstrate that it is making REAL progress against a defensive unit that had recently shut it down.

Dec 042018
 
Share Button
Odell Beckham, Jr., New York Giants (December 2, 2018)

Odell Beckham, Jr. – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 30 – Chicago Bears 27

QUICK RECAP

On a rainy, gloomy afternoon in East Rutherford, the 8-3 Chicago Bears, winners of 5 straight, took on the 3-8 Giants. The Bears were without their starting quarterback, Mitch Trubisky, but were being led by veteran backup Chase Daniel whom led them to a win in Detroit on Thanksgiving 10 days prior.

The tale of the first half was very much about a puttering Giants offense being picked up by the defense that has shown glimpses throughout the year. Eli Manning got off to a rough start, throwing a couple of near-interceptions on the first two drives. On his eighth attempt of the game, his pass did end up in the hands of a CHI defender. Kyle Fuller picked off his 6th pass of the season and this one had the look of a defensive battle.

I say that because Daniel, who started his fourth game in 10 years, gave the Giants 7-0 lead on a pick 6 thrown to Alec Ogletree on their second play from scrimmage. Both teams were forced to fight through poor QB play. All was not lost offensively, however, as both teams were seeing success with their respective ground game.

The dual RB system that CHI has is one of the best in the league. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen combined for 98 yards on 21 carries, further proving the NYG run defense since the trade of DT Damon Harrison has really been a newfound weakness. The Bears used that rushing attack in combination with a sandlot-type passing game to drive the ball 70 yards on 10 plays to net their first score of the game towards the end of the 1st quarter. Daniel hit backup tight end Adam Shaheen on a 2-yard rollout pass to tie it up at 7.

More consistent gains via the running game and a 30-yard gain via a pass to Allen Robinson to put them inside the NYG 10 with just a few minutes left in the second quarter. Instead of going for a short field goal on 4th and goal from 1-yard line, Head Coach Matt Nagy put the ball in the hands of defensive tackle Akiem Hicks who crossed the goal line for a touchdown, uncovering memories of William Perry’s role as a short yardage back 25+ years ago.

The two struggling offenses exchanged possessions in the final 3 minutes with NYG getting one more shot with about a minute left. Manning was sacked on the first two plays and it appeared they were ready to concede the half but CHI opted to stop the clock with 17 seconds left. This was one of the most overlooked, yet most important moments of the game. CHI simply called a timeout to make NYG punt the ball in rainy weather, which naturally creates more margin for error.

In typical NFL fashion, NYG opted to run a draw play on 3rd and 23. This is where Barkley once again proves his worth. In his typical highlight-reel fashion, he created something out of nothing, broke 2 tackles, missed a couple more, and gained 22 yards on a play where he had no business gaining anything more than a third of that. With just a few seconds left, NYG opted to go for it on 4th and 1 which they converted. That left 1 second on the clock and allowed Aldrick Rosas to come out for a 57 yard attempt. The potential Pro-Bowler nailed it as time expired, setting a new franchise record and giving NYG momentum heading into the locker room.

That momentum was taken to a new level on the first drive of the second half, the most important drive of the game according to a lot of coaches. NYG gained 26 yards on the first 3 plays and opted for a trick play on the 4th. A reverse to Odell Beckham that was designed to be a pass resulted in him tossing a flat-footed ball 50 yards in the air into the waiting arms of Russell Shepard, who was completely alone in front of the end zone. An easy score for the home team put them up 17-14 and NYG had this game by the horns.

After forcing another 3 and out as CHI continued to struggle on 3rd down, NYG used a more traditional approach to net 7 more points on their next possession. A 13-play drive that gave the ball to Barkley seven times ended in a 4th and goal touchdown pass from Manning to Beckham. The Giants had a game-high 10 point lead and they maintained that lead for the first 5 minutes of the 4th quarter.

CHI got within 7 with just under 10 minutes left via a 36-yard field goal. NYG was in a similar position as they were last week. They had a second half lead and a running back that was built for situations like this: to bleed the clock to death. However on the third play of the drive, Barkley went down hard on the football and was in obvious pain. I cannot remember a time where the entire stadium let out a collective, fearful gasp like that. It goes to show just how vital this kid is to not only the offense, but the entire organization. He walked off the field and missed the rest of that drive.

NYG pressed forward, however. They converted two straight 3rd downs but faulted on the next one, as the offensive line started to falter. Manning was sacked for a 9-yard loss from the CHI 30, putting them just out of field goal range and forcing them to give the ball back to the Daniel-led offense. The defense had to step up and make a stop. And make a stop they did.

BW Webb forced a fumble after the catch by Taylor Gabriel that was recovered by Sean Chandler. NYG had a 7 point lead with the ball in their possession with just over 2 minutes left.

A holding penalty by fullback Elijah Penny pushed them back 10 yards and made a game-sealing first down unrealistic, but NYG did get past the 2 minute warning and put another 3 points on the board via a Rosas field goal. It was 27-17 with 1:49 left when CHI took back the ball.

The Bears used some chunk-gains via passes to Robinson and Cohen in addition to a roughing-the-passer penalty by Chandler to get all the way inside the NYG 5-yard line. Chicago opted for the 3 points so that they could take a shot in the dark on an onsides kick, as it was a 2-possession game. That shot in the dark worked out well, as they recovered. The Bears then used every bit of game clock to march down the field. And with 3 seconds left, they ran a reverse to Cohen who threw the ball into the end zone to Anthony Miller for the game-tying score. This one was headed to overtime.

NYG won the toss and took the ball first. They wasted no time giving the ball to their best player. Barkley gained 29 yards on the first play and with a couple completions to Sterling Shepard, who was also playing through pain, NYG took the lead back 30-27. CHI had one more shot.

They made it just shy of midfield but a slippery ball and a productive pass rush put an end to the sloppy-CHI offensive surge. The defense came up with the stop that they needed the most.

NYG wins 30-27.

QUARTERBACKS

-Eli Manning: 19/35 – 170 yards – 1 TD / 1 INT. Now that the offensive line has at last somewhat stabilized, we are starting to get a stronger grasp on what Eli Manning is at this point in his career. In this one, on a somewhat slipper/rainy day, Manning was off. He was horrid in the first half, going 7-17 and an interception in addition to 2-3 more near INTs. He really didn’t connect on difficult passes, although he threw a beautiful ball that should have sealed the win to Sterling Shepard in overtime, but Shepard dropped it. Manning can be trusted when the game is on the line, but his lack of movement away from pressure both in and out of the pocket really limits this offense.

RUNNING BACKS

-Saquon Barkley: 24 att / 125 yards – 3 rec / 21 yards. Chalk up another 100+ total yard performance for the rookie, his 10th of the season. The Giants are now 3-0 when Barkley 20+ carries and as I said last week, that will be as important as a barometer for his team to hit as any in the coming years. His presence in the backfield changes how the defense lines up, plain and simple. There aren’t many backs in the NFL that have that kind of impact. Barkley’s 22-yard run before halftime and 29-yard run to begin overtime were the two biggest offensive plays of the day for NYG. Keep giving this kid the ball guys, it is turning into a no brainer.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Odell Beckham: 3 rec / 35 yards – 1 pass att / 49 yards – 1 TD. Beckham’s biggest play of the day came on his second pass of the season. 2 passes, 2 touchdowns for OBJ. Beckham also had a few key blocks on the outside and it refreshing to see his effort out there. The onsides kick where he made a business decision to not pursue the ball because of the likelihood he would have been trucked did rightfully bother some. If this were a playoff spot on the line and that happened, everyone would have a right to be enraged. But I will say this, part of the game is avoiding injury and it isn’t too different than Manning falling to the ground as a pass rusher gets near him. So don’t play the double standard game. One more thing regarding Beckham; I would like to see this scheme find more ways to get him the ball. I see so many offenses have no issues getting the ball to their top receivers and it just seems like it is too much of a struggle with Beckham. They need to figure that out.

-Sterling Shepard: 4 rec / 28 yards. Shepard was hurt early, it looked like some sort of abdominal or ribcage strain. He played through the pain but didn’t impact the game from a volume perspective, but did come up with 2 key catches in overtime. He did miss his opportunity at a game winning, overtime catch in the end zone as he just didn’t track the ball while moving vertically, something I have noticed about him a few times.

-Backups Russell Shepard and Bennie Fowler combined for 3 catches / 70 yards. Both had big plays in different fashions. Shepard came up with the 49-yard Beckham TD pass, thus it got more publicity. However, Fowler’s 3rd and 11 catch and tough-earned yards after that netted a first down in the 4th quarter allowed the clock to keep running for what turned out to be another 4+ minutes, which was huge.

TIGHT ENDS

-Rhett Ellison: 4 rec / 42 yards. Ellison was the team’s leading receiver ironically. Since he has stepped in for Evan Engram as the starting tight end, this team’s running game has been more productive and the position’s production in the passing game hasn’t skipped a beat.

-Scott Simonson: 2 rec / 25 yards. While he did come up with a couple key blocks in addition to a tough 3rd down catch that ended up being pretty crucial, he was flagged 3 times on the day. Way too much for anyone, let alone a guy that played under 40% of the snaps.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

-With the amount that Bears DE Khalil Mack is moved around, both Nate Solder and Chad Wheeler had a tall task placed on their shoulders. Solder responded well finishing with 1 TFL but no sacks or pressures allowed. While he does make Manning rush a bit as he gets walked into the pocket, his overall play has leveled off a bit. Wheeler, on the other hand, had one of his worst games of the season. He allowed 2 sacks, 2 pressures, and a TFL. He really couldn’t sustain his position against power and his balance was off all afternoon. Not a good combination.

GUARDS/CENTER

-Solid day for the guards. Both Will Hernandez and Jamon Brown finished with positive grades. Hernandez was really productive when he pulled. That is where his power/foot speed combination are at its best. He still has work to do as a pass blocker, as he was flagged for a hold, but he continues to be the most consistent OL on this team. Brown was solid in both departments. He finished with the highest grade among the OL in this one. NYG is 3-1 since he has been added to the team.

-Spencer Pulley continues to be the weak point of the middle. He allowed a sack and a TFL, as he was not match for Akiem Hicks, one of the better run defenders in the league.

EDGE

-Very solid, disruptive game from Olivier Vernon. 5 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 pressures, 1 TFL, and 1 forced fumble. That is a stat line that anyone and everyone would gush over if it weren’t Vernon, to be honest. While he remains one of the most up-and-down players on a defense that has been very up-and-down as a whole, his level of play on the outside is on a completely different level than everyone else within the edge group.

-Kareem Martin added 5 tackles and a TFL of his own, as he was very solid in the first half. He, along with Kerry Wynn, had a few key spots in big moments on 3rd down.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

BJ Hill put in a career game, as I’m not sure he will ever record 3 sacks in a single game again. They were his only 3 tackles of the day, but he displayed top tier technique and punch off the line. He was approaching the “dominant” level in the second half when it came to snap-by-snap impact.

-Dalvin Tomlinson was as active as we’ve seen him all year. He finished with 7 tackles and 2 TFL along with a pressure. He really is a better athlete than some give him credit for and knowing how Bettcher built his defensive line in ARI, it makes sense why he has enough confidence in the second-year pro to take over for Damon Harrison at NT. His range within the tackle box is wide and he really brings a physical presence.

-Josh Mauro, Mario Edwards, and RJ McIntosh essentially split backup snaps. Edwards continues to be the aggressive, up-field penetrator, but this week it got him into trouble. He was flagged twice, one of which was on a 3rd down stop. Mauro continues to be Mr. Stout inside and McIntosh is still getting his feet wet, showing some good athletic ability.

LINEBACKERS

-Alec Ogletree has been getting the rough end of these game reviews for most of the year, but he deserves the game ball in this one. A team-leading 10 tackles in addition to 2 athletic interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown in the 1st quarter, were integral to NYG winning this game. He was active in pursuit and stout between the tackles. Excellent game from him, his best as a Giant.

-Tae Davis and Ukeme Eligwe split snaps next to Ogletree. Davis has been struggling to play between the tackles, as he is almost-woefully undersized and came from a low level of college football. Eligwe flashed a few times. He is more physical, stouter, and showed plus-burst as a blitzer, recording 3 tackles and a pressure.

CORNERBACKS

-Don’t put it in the books yet, but the Janoris Jenkins / BW Webb duo has actually been grading out as one of the top 10 CB duos in the NFL over the past 8 weeks. They have both been flying around all over the field and defending deep routes exceptionally well. Part of what they do well can only be seen on the All-22 tape, but these two are really holding it down in a league where playing corner is almost impossible. Jenkins finished with 3 pass break ups and Webb finished with 1 of his own in addition to a forced fumble that NYG recovered.

-Grant Haley was flying all over the field. He finished with 8 tackles and 2 TFL. I’ve said this before but it keeps happening over and over; Haley may be small but this kid is really tough and physical. His quickness and burst are near top-tier but combining his toughness and knack for ball reactions with them makes him a legit candidate to be a very good player for this defense next year. This is a really important stretch for him.

SAFETIES

Landon Collins continues to factor vs the run, finishing with 5 tackles and a TFL. He continues to get burned in man coverage. This time it was Tarik Cohen not once, but twice. I don’t want to beat a dead horse here.

-Curtis Riley and Michael Thomas are solid role players who get exposed with the more snaps they get. Riley dropped an interception that was essentially thrown right to him. I guess that why he is plays on defense. Thomas got flagged for holding as CHI was making their 4th quarter comeback but he did play Cohen in coverage well a few times.

-Rookie Sean Chandler saw a season high 21 snaps. This coaching staff really likes him and I think with the instability that Riley plays with, we may see more. He recovered the fumble forced by Webb in the 4th quarter but was flagged for a low hit on QB Daniels during the 4th quarter comeback by CHI. They eased Haley into the rotation and now I think Chandler is next.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 3/3 (Made 57-37-44). Rosas is on fire and he was a vital piece to this win. His 57 yarder is a franchise record and his 44 yarder in overtime is as pressure-heavy as it gets. He deserves strong Pro Bowl consideration.

-P Riley Dixon: 7 punts – 44.3 avg – 42.1 net. Dixon was on the field often in this one, a season high 7 punts. That 42.1 net is very solid and he put one inside the 5-yard line.

-Jawill Davis averaged 12 yards per punt return, a very good number and Corey Coleman’s cooled off a bit after a few strong weeks as the team’s KR.

3 STUDS

-LB Alec Ogletree, DT BJ Hill, K Aldrick Rosas

3 DUDS

-OT Chad Wheeler, QB Eli Manning, S Landon Collins

3 THOUGHTS ON CHI

This is a hard team to gauge. They’ve had a few convincing wins and lost 4 games by a combined 14 points (7 of which came against the Patriots). I think their defense is as balanced as any team in the league and happens to host arguably the most dominant edge talent out there. Once Mitch Trubisky comes back, their QB position is stabilized and I think this team is one of 3 contenders for the NFC, the other to being LAR and NO.

-What I don’t like from a consistency standpoint is their OL play. These guys were really beat badly by an average to below average NYG defensive line. If they run into a team that can really get after the passer, that could end up being their undoing.

-Tarik Cohen is one of the most exciting players in the NFL and I think we are only seeing a glimpse of what he will be. He is the only player that I legitimately compared to Darren Sproles when he was coming out of college. Sproles has had a fantastic career, especially when he has played for offensive minds that know how to use him. CHI seems to have figured it out and he could be a guy that ends up having a better career than Sproles in today’s NFL.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-This was an interesting game that I think can be looked back on if this core group/coaching staff ever turn it around. The offense struggled in the first half but they were picked up by the defense. Then, in the second half, the defense struggled but they were picked up by the offense. It is amazing how many roller coasters a team can go through in a single game but the ones that stay even keel and take advantage of the opportunities given to them are the winners. This is part of developing a winning culture that I think is so vital to year after year success which is why we should all want this team to win every week.

-The biggest difference this offense will see in the post-Manning era, whenever that is, will be a QB creating on his own under duress. That has never been a strong suit of Eli’s game, but it’s near non-existent at the moment. This offense has a ton more potential with a guy who can move around and is considered a plus-athlete. The options with this personnel are limitless, especially if the OL can be shored up.

-As I get deeper into the scouting process for the 2019 Draft and as I watch more of NYG, the right tackle position may need to be a focal point. Wheeler shows admirable effort and hustle. He has come a long way since being an UDFA, no question. But if this OL needs to be a top 10 unit, maybe even a top 5 unit, Wheeler won’t be a part of it. He just can’t do it week to week. I think his role here is important, however. He can be the backup swing tackle who will be relied on in spurts. But I just don’t think he is going to get over the hump as a weekly starter.

Dec 042018
 
Share Button

Eric Kennedy of BigBlueInteractive.com and Greg Breton of the ManCave Huddle join YES Network’s Chris Shearn on his latest “And…We’re Off” podcast. We discuss the New York Giants dramatic overtime victory over the Chicago Bears, including the play of Eli Manning, Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham, Alec Ogletree, Landon Collins, and the offensive line. We discuss Head Coach Pat Shurmur, and weigh in on whether it is better to win or lose these final games of the 2018 season.

Dec 022018
 
Share Button
Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants (December 2, 2018)

Janoris Jenkins – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 30 – CHICAGO BEARS 27…
The New York Giants blew a 10-point lead against the Chicago Bears with less than two minutes to play, but persevered to win the game in overtime, 30-27, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday afternoon. With the win, the Giants improved their overall record to 4-8.

The Giants jumped out to a quick 7-0 advantage when linebacker Alec Ogletree intercepted a pass from quarterback Chase Daniel at the 8-yard line and returned it for a touchdown. Then both teams exchanged punts twice before the Bears tied the game by driving 70 yards in 10 plays. Daniel hit tight end Adam Shaheen for a 2-yard score.

Momentum continued to swing in the direction of the Bears as quarterback Eli Manning was picked off on the ensuing drive, setting up Chicago near midfield at the end of the first quarter. However, the Giants got the ball back when Ogletree intercepted his second pass, this one at the New York 14-yard line, returning it 20 yards.

After the Giants went three-and-out twice and the Bears once, Chicago took the lead on a 7-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. The Bears now led 14-7.

The Giants punted for the fifth time in the first half on the ensuing possession. The Bears went three-and-out and New York received the ball with 1:14 before halftime. Although the Giants only picked up 18 yards, place kicker Aldrick Rosas kicked a 57-yard field goal with no time left on the clock. It was the longest field goal in New York Giants’ team history.

At the half, the Bears led 14-10.

The Giants started the second half on a high note. After receiving the kickoff, the Giants picked up 26 yards on three plays. Then the Giants ran a trick play that had wide receiver Odell Beckham pass the ball to a wide-open wide receiver Russell Shepard for a 49-yard touchdown. The Giants now led 17-14.

After forcing the Bears to go three-and-out, the Giants put together a 13-play, 60-yard drive that ended with a Manning-to-Beckham 1-yard touchdown pass on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line. The Giants were now up 24-14 with four minutes left in the third quarter.

The Bears picked up two first downs on their subsequent drive but were forced to punt. After a three-and-out by the Giants, the Bears finally managed to put together a scoring drive by moving the ball 56 yards in seven plays to set up a 36-yard field goal. Giants 24 – Bears 17.

With just over nine minutes to go in the game, the Giants drove the ball from their own 8-yard line to the Bears’ 30-yard line. However, a 9-yard sack on 3rd-and-8 took the Giants out of field goal range. The ensuing punt was downed by the Giants at the 2-yard line. On Chicago’s first offensive snap, cornerback B.W. Webb forced wide receiver Taylor Gabriel to fumble, which was recovered at the Chicago 13-yard line by safety Sean Chandler.

At this point, it appeared the game was all but officially won. But New York did not manage the clock well in the final 2:19 of the game. The Giants lost six yards and settled for three points after only taking 30 seconds off of the clock. Still, New York was up 27-17 with 1:49 left to play.

The Bears’ first score was aided by a 32-yard pass completion and 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty on Chandler. This moved the ball to the New York 8-yard line where Chicago was forced to settle for a 21-yard field goal with 1:13 left.

Then disaster struck when a less-than-aggressive Beckham did not handle the onsides kickoff. The Bears recovered at the Chicago 47-yard line. The Bears completed a 23-yard pass on 4th-and-3 down to the New York 9-yard line with 11 seconds to play. After two incompletions, Webb was called for pass interference, giving Chicago a 1st-and-goal situation at the 1-yard line with three seconds left in the game. The Bears then ran their own trick play, a halfback pass by Tarik Cohen to wide receiver Anthony Miller with no time on the clock.

The game was tied 27-27 and headed to overtime.

The Giants won the toss. Running back Saquon Barkley picked up 29 yards on the first play of the drive. On 3rd-and-2, Manning found wide receiver Sterling Shepard for an 8-yard completion to the Chicago 30-yard line. The Giants only manged four more yards, but it was enough to set up a successful 44-yard field goal by Rosas. The Bears now needed to score on their ensuing possession or lose the game.

The Bears kept things interesting by gaining 10 yards on 4th-and-7. Then on 4th-and-8 from the Chicago 40-yard line, the Giants came with an all-out blitz. Daniel threw a deep ball to wideout Taylor Gabriel, but cornerback Janoris Jenkins had perfect coverage over the middle and knocked the ball away to win the game.

Offensively, Manning finished the game 19-of-35 for 170 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. His leading receivers were tight end Rhett Ellison (4 catches for 42 yards) and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (4 catches for 28 yards). Barkley rushed for 125 yards on 24 carries.

Defensively, the Giants forced three turnovers. Ogletree picked off two passes, one which he returned for a score. The Giants also accrued five sacks, three by defensive lineman B.J. Hill and two by linebacker Olivier Vernon. The Giants were also credited with 10 tackles for losses and seven pass defenses.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were tight end Evan Engram (hamstring), linebacker B.J. Goodson (neck), linebacker Lorenzo Carter (hip), quarterback Alex Tanney, center Evan Brown, nose tackle John Jenkins, and safety Kamrin Moore.

Wide receiver Sterling Shepard (ribs), linebacker Tae Davis (ankle), and safety Landon Collins (shoulder) were all dinged up in the game.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Pat Shurmur and the following players are available at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur and select players will address the media on Monday.

Nov 302018
 
Share Button

Bears at Giants in the Polo Grounds (December 6, 1925)

Game Preview: Chicago Bears at New York Giants, December 2, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
With four minutes left before halftime at Lincoln Financial Field last week, New York Giants fans finally had a reason to smile. Winners of two straight, the Giants looked primed to win their third game in a row, with the added benefit of finally running roughshod over the hated Philadelphia Eagles. The defending Super Bowl champions were back on their heels, as Saquon Barkley had just ripped off a spectacular 51-yard touchdown run, his second TD of the day. The Giants led 19-3. The offensive game plan was working. An undermanned defense was holding the Eagles in check. Yet by 4PM, all of those positive thoughts and emotions were gone. And Giants fans were left with yet another painfully disheartening loss in what has becoming an embarrassingly one-sided rivalry.

There was a lot to unpack in last Sunday’s loss, including some horrific officiating that DID help to decide the game. But three things stood out to me:

  1. Strongest evidence yet that Pat Shurmur is not cut out to be a head coach. Clock mismanagement has become a serious issue with him. Sitting Barkley after the Eagles had cut the score to 19-14 in the 3rd quarter, and giving the player who was killing the Eagles only five second-half touches, suggests a lack of feel for the game. And his Sunday and Monday post-mortem media sessions were real head-scratchers. I’m a little wary of completely writing the guy off because I can remember a bunch of games that even Giants greats like Bill Parcells and Tom Coughlin blew, but I’m not feeling it with Shurmur. “But John Mara would never fire a coach after just one season!” Probably true. But that doesn’t make it the correct decision.
  2. The run defense, which was supposed to a team strength, has become a problem. As bad as the New York offense was in the second half of last week’s game, the run defense was just as guilty for the loss. Even with the departure of Damon Harrison, guys like Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill were supposed to be able to hold down the fort. They haven’t. The Eagles knew they were going to win last week once they discovered the Giants couldn’t stop what had been a bottom-tier run offense.
  3. Eli… oh Eli… Two very strong games in a row, including one game where he threw only one incompletion. The early warning signs were there. He badly missed seeing a wide open target on the 2-point conversion. But the real killer was his horrifically dumb and costly interception into double/triple coverage at the end of the first half, ignoring another wide-open target, which cost the Giants certain points. Psychologically, this may have been the biggest mistake of the game. Even at age 37, Eli still makes these head-scratching throws. Once the line play deteriorated in the second half, so did Manning’s play, as New York only generated three second-half points.

So why am I rehashing all of this in what is supposed to be a preview for the Chicago Bears? Because I think the storyline for this game is going to be how competitive the Giants are going to be against one of the best teams in the NFC. If Shurmur is going to lose this team, now is the time after last week’s devastating loss, which not only ended any desperate hope for a late playoff run, but was emotionally draining and open to coaching criticism.

If the Giants play hard and keep it close, Pat Shurmur will gain respect in my eyes. But if this team starts to tank, John Mara had better reconsider all of his options.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • TE Evan Engram (hamstring – out)
  • DE Kerry Wynn (concussion – probable)
  • LB Lorenzo Carter (hip – questionable)
  • LB B.J. Goodson (neck – out)
  • LB Tae Davis (ankle – probable)
  • CB Grant Haley (hamstring – probable)
  • S Curtis Riley (shoulder – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:

This could get ugly. Really ugly. The Chicago Bears are 4th in defense (3rd in scoring defense, 2nd in rushing defense, 11th in passing defense). Chicago has forced a lead-leading 29 turnovers (20 of which are interceptions). They have sacked opposing quarterbacks 34 times (five off of the league-leading Steelers).

To me, much depends on how the offensive line responds. This unit had been playing better for two and a half games before falling apart again in last week’s second half. Not coincidentally, what had been an improving scoring offense went back into a shell. So does the front five rebound or regress? It’s hard to see the Giants scoring more than 13-17 points if the offensive line doesn’t rebound.

So much of New York’s future success or failure depends on what they do at quarterback. Eli is 37 years old and clearly nearing the end. He says he wants to play his entire career with the Giants and has a no-trade clause. He has one year left on his contract and will count about $22 million against the 2019 salary cap. Behind him are journeyman Alex Tanney and rookie Kyle Lauletta. After the Bears game, there are only four games left, and it appears that Lauletta still is not taking 2nd-team snaps during practice. Thus, the Giants will head into the 2019 offseason being forced to assume they will need to draft a QB high in the 2019 NFL Draft. And Eli will probably be back for one last season. This entire thing has the feel of postponing the inevitable and wasting time.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:

The 23rd-ranked (25th in scoring) New York Giants defense can’t stop the run (26th) or pass (18th). They can’t sack the opposing quarterback (14 in 11 games) or force turnovers (13). And with a game on the line, they can’t hold a lead. Besides that, everything is wonderful.

Chicago will be playing their back-up quarterback this week. That’s another kiss of death for the Giants.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:

If it were not for Saquon Barkley’s superlative rookie season, Aldrick Rosas would be the team MVP.

THE FINAL WORD:
The stands will be empty. And the empty gray seats will likely reflect the mood of the day. All of this would be somewhat acceptable if there was a sense that there was a viable rebuilding plan under proper leadership. But I still question whether John Mara has the right people in place. The Giants appear to be living in the past.

Nov 272018
 
Share Button
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (November 25, 2018)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles 25 – New York Giants 22

QUICK RECAP

The Giants took their annual trip down the Turnpike to Lincoln Financial Field against an Eagles team that NYG has lost 20 out of 30 games to during the Eli Manning era. To say this team has had Big Blue’s number would be a massive understatement. However, if there were ever a game to reverse those fortunes, this would be it. The 3-7 Giants came in winners of 2 straight whereas the defending Super Bowl Champions Eagles came in at 4-6 with injuries mounting and losers of 2 straight.

The Giants newfound fluidity on offense picked up where they left off from last week. They spread the ball around, but rookie Saquon Barkley continued to stomp on the idea that you can’t take a RB high in the draft with 44 total yards capped by a 13-yard middle screen pass where he burst into the end zone untouched despite defenders having the angles. Then came an odd decision by Pat Shurmur. PHI was flagged for 12 men on the field for the PAT attempt, moving the ball up to 1-yard line. That 1 yard made Shurmur spontaneously decide to go for a 2-point conversion in the 1st quarter. I have always believed you take sure-thing points on the road early in games, but to each their own. The attempt left NYG short and with a 6-point lead rather than a 7-point lead.

PHI was quick to give the ball back, running just 4 plays before being forced to punt. NYG chipped away before a 39-yard downfield connection from Manning to Odell Beckham put them inside the 10-yard line. The PHI secondary was without 3 starters and a key backup, thus I expected to see a ton of this throughout. NYG gave three opportunities to Barkley, 2 on the ground and 1 via the air but they only gained 3 yards total. Aldrick Rosas came in and nailed a 25-yard FG to make the lead 9-0.

Carson Wentz and the PHI offense continued to putter, as Mario Edwards ended their drive with a sack and NYG began their third drive of the day on their own 13-yard line. Manning spread the ball out well, hitting Russell Shepard for 29 yards, Beckham for 14 yards, and Rhett Ellison for 18 yards. NYG shot themselves in the foot with three penalties however, and it ended up making them settle on a long field goal attempt by Rosas. He drilled a 51 yarder through the uprights and even though NYG was yearning for more, they had s 12-0 lead in the 2nd quarter.

PHI finally replaced the 0 on the scoreboard with some points, as Jake Elliot hit a 42 yarder at the end of a quick drive highlighted by a 32-yard run by Corey Clement. NYG then made sure everyone knew who had who by the throat. On the third play of the drive, Barkley ran through 2 tacklers before out-unning the PHI defensive backfield to the end zone for a highlight-reel 51-yard touchdown. Remember…you don’t take a RB high in the first round.

NYG was up 19-3 and they sucked their fans back in; this team was inching its way back into legit contention. Wentz and the offense took advantage of a poor-tackling NYG defense, scoring a touchdown on a pass to Zach Ertz. They went for 2 and easily converted, making it an 8-point game with a minute left in the half and PHI starting the 3rd quarter with the ball. NYG opted to make a run at getting more points on the board thanks to yet another long return by Corey Coleman, this one for 46 yards. They got the ball to the 27-yard line and with 17 seconds left, Manning made a poor decision to try and force the ball to Beckham near the end zone, which resulted in an interception by Malcolm Jenkins. NYG, once again, had points available on the road early in the game but they got too aggressive and came up with nothing.

The 2nd half had a different feel to it, almost right away. PHI came out aggressive, hungry, and willing. NYG came out soft, satisfied, and hesitant. The NYG defense was bleeding, getting owned at the point of attack but they did come up with some big plays in key moments. PHI netted 3 points via 3 possessions. They moved the ball well but shot themselves in the foot via penalties and missed blocking assignments that led to sacks. NYG, however, gained just 3 net yards in the 3rd quarter. Even worse than that, Barkley touched the ball twice. The offensive line started to get pushed around and the PHI faithful could smell blood. Never has a 19-14 lead felt so miniscule.

PHI buckled up their helmets and opted to simply run over the Giants to start off the 4th quarter, literally. Running backs Corey Clement and Josh Adams gained a total of 61 yards capped off by the latter trucking into the end zone. On this drive, there was a stretch of 4 plays that, play by play, netted 23-8-15-11 yards. NYG couldn’t stop anything at the point of attack. PHI now held their first lead for the first time in the month of November, 22-19, after Adams successfully converted for 2 points on a, you guessed it, easy rushing attempt.

Manning and the passing game started to find their hot point again, thankfully. He hit Beckham and Ellison on consecutive plays for 48 yards. Shurmur once again forgot to follow his own words of getting Barkley 25+ touches per game. He gave it to him once, resulting in 1 yard, before Manning missed Beckham in the end zone many thanks to a missed pass interference penalty by the PHI secondary. One of their several misses for both sides on the day. Rosas hit his 3rd field goal of the day tying it at 22.

The PHI offense marched back on knowing exactly what to do. They continued to control the point of attack, rely on poor tackling and a weak defensive tackle play in addition to owning the middle of the field via the air attack. NYG did force a 4th and 1. Yet even after a timeout, they were outclassed by the PHI coaching staff. Wentz hit Nelson Agholor who couldn’t have been more wide open in the middle of the field which was as predictable as the sun coming up in the morning. PHI bled the clock out, leaving NYG with no timeouts and under 30 seconds left. Elliot came back out and nailed a 43-yard field goal because, well, opposing kickers don’t miss field goals against NYG.

Manning and the offense had no shot without any timeouts. They ran a couple of plays but nothing deep and time ran out.

NYG loses 25-22.

QUARTERBACKS

-Eli Manning: 26/37 – 297 yards – 1 TD / 1 INT. Manning and the NYG offense came out on fire. The were firing on all cylinders, keeping the PHI defense off balance, and executing with ease. They had a game plan and it was working. However, Manning’s poor decision at the end of the first half to force a ball to Beckham who was double/triple covered that led to an interception rather than 3 points via a field goal was a turning point. Those were big points to not get, as was the missed 2-point conversion on the first touchdown which can be blamed on Manning not throwing to a wide open Rhett Ellison. Manning’s flow wasn’t the same in the second half, as the running game was non-existent and the OL got leaky. Manning just can’t create on his own and when things start to go awry, he doesn’t rise above. Not a bad game for the 15th year pro, but it was limited.

RUNNING BACKS

-Saquon Barkley: 13 att / 101 yards / 1 TD – 7 rec / 41 yards/ 1 TD. What we saw out of Barkley in the first half was a continuation of Barkley further stomping down on the idea that drafting a RB high in round 1 was a bad idea. His level of play is elite on all levels. One thing I’m not sure everyone appreciates enough? 11 games in – 0 fumbles – 0 drops. Running backs are dropping passes weekly and what this kid does when it comes to reliability and consistency is just different level. Once again Shurmur simply underused him. I understand not wanting to give him 40 touches, but this kid needs 25+ as often as possible. Especially when you have a lead like the Giants had in the second half. It is a crime, it is inexcusable, that Barkley had 5 touches total in the second half. Unbelievable.

-Wayne Gallman and Elijah Penny combined for 30 yards on 8 touches. Gallman was solid on the ground, spelling Barkley on a few occasions. He continues to show very good burst upfield, something NYG is still trying to get Barkley to do more consistently.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Odell Beckham: 5 rec / 85 yards. On a day where the PHI secondary came in depleted, depending on a bunch of backup corners, Beckham wasn’t featured enough. Man, it must really be frustrating for him to see the opportunities that some of the other WRs in this league are getting. Beckham’s came down with a 39-yard gain in the first quarter and I expected to see more and more of it, but they just didn’t seem to look his way enough. 2 of his 9 targets were garbage attempts that had no shot. He likely would have had a TD catch in the 4th quarter on a play where the ref missed a hold as Beckham leapt for the ball.

-Sterling Shepard: 4 rec / 37 yards. Shepard was the victim of 2 missed penalties where the PHI defensive backs held him out of his breaks. Shepard is a next-level route runner with a combination of explosion, balance, and quickness when he is trying to get open. Unfortunate these refs didn’t see him get tugged.

-Russell Shepard and Bennie Fowler combined for 3 catches / 52 yards. Important to know these guys can come down with some big plays when called upon.

TIGHT ENDS

-Rhett Ellison: 4 rec / 77 yards. With Evan Engram out with a hamstring injury suffered in pregame warmups, Ellison got the nod and played all but 7 snaps on offense. He responded with 4 catches for a career-high 77 yards. Ellison was one of the bigger surprises of the day, catching balls up the seams and near the sideline, showing effective ability after the catch to gain extra yards. He did have one drop in the 2nd quarter, however. Ellison also allowed a sack and a pressure and even though most TEs can’t handle NFL defensive ends in pass protection, he continues to underwhelm in that department.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

-Nate Solder had his best game as a Giant grade-wise. He was very smooth, very consistent, and actually showed some more physical play than what we have been used to this season. He held Brandon Graham in check all afternoon. His false start penalty seemed to be on Manning’s shoulders, who messed up the snap count. Chad Wheeler allowed a half sack and got pushed around a bit in the run game. Michael Bennett is one of the toughest DEs in the game when it comes to cutting him off inside against the run, and that is where he really struggled. His play has been consistently average all year. He is up and down each week.

GUARDS/CENTERS

-Jamon Brown has received some positive attention lately in addition to the NYG offense taking a turn in the right direction. I think too many have been anointing Brown as a catalyst for the change but now that we have seen him for 3 games, I’m not overly optimistic. He has been better than what NYG has trotted out there, but he is still struggling to gain the consistency I want out of a starter. He allowed one TFL, one pressure, a half sack, and was flagged for holding which got declined. Big picture he was OK, but the quickness inside got to him and he was a non-factor at the second level. Just looked a little slow and heavy.

-Will Hernandez had a solid game. He really pushed Fletcher Cox around for most of their match-ups and he truly is one of the best DTs in the game. He got flagged once for a holding penalty on a play where he struggled to adjust his weighty laterally, a theme we have seen with him all year.

-Spencer Pulley is further proving this team needs a new OC in 2019 and it will be near the top of the priority list. He just can’t beat guys one on one and can’t sustain his position on guys. He allowed a TFL and a pressure, a constant every week with him.

EDGE

-Overall, a very quiet day from the NYG edge defenders. Olivier Vernon had 2 pressures and 2 tackles, with Lorenzo Carter finishing with 1 pressure and 2 tackles. Neither could consistently beat their man one on one. Vernon’s 2019 status is going to very much depend on how he finishes this year. On one hand, the team’s pass rush went from non-existent to at least sometimes-effective when he came back form injury. On the other hand, he isn’t worth the money he is being paid if he is gonna net under 8 sacks a year with average run defense.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

-The middle of the NYG defense was pounded, pushed around, and toyed with. While it wasn’t all on the shoulders of the tackles, Dalvin Tomlinson and BJ Hill need to be better. If not, add nose tackle to the team-needs list. Hill had his most up and down game of his rookie season, finishing with 3 tackles, 1 TFL, and a pass break up. He also had a missed tackle and an offsides penalty in addition to just not holding his ground against lone and double blockers alike. Both are solid and active, but neither scare anyone.

-Mario Edwards finished with a sack and a pressure in his limited action. Have to be careful wanting more playing time with him, however, because he is a real tweener. He isn’t stout against the run and he needs specific match-ups to be an effective pass rusher. Solid role player that I want to see here in 2019.

-Josh Mauro had a couple of subtle but important missed tackles on the day. He isn’t known for dynamic playmaking ability, we know that. But he can’t miss tackles the way he did against running backs that weight 70 pounds less than him.

-RJ McIntosh made his debut with the club. Just 12 plays total, but he looked small and weak compared to what I saw out of him at Miami last year. He appears to be on his way back still and I expect to see him get looks each week from here on out. I liked him a lot during the pre-draft process.

LINEBACKERS

-Maybe the worst overall performance we have seen out of this position group all year. On the stat sheet, Alec Ogletree had a solid game. 4 tackles, 1 sack, and a pass break up. But if you really dive in to the all 22 game tape, he was arguably the biggest reason why PHI ran wild on this defense. Poor angles, inability to get off blocks, and late reactions were present the entire game. Is this guy a winning player? Does he create on his own? To me, it seems like opposing offenses can’t wait to attack him whether it be via the run or pass.

-Tae Davis out-snapped BJ Goodson by a comfortable margin. He finished with 3 tackles and a sack but proved he just isn’t physically ready for the NFL trenches. Goodson needs to continue to dominate the snap count, as I trust him to make the tackles and not get run over.

CORNERBACKS

-Lost in the emotion of this game was a very solid overall performance by Janoris Jenkins. He kept Alshon Jeffrey in check throughout most of their 1 on 1 battles. On the coverage sacks, Wentz was looking in his direction and his coverage couldn’t have been better. He still has that top 10 CB in him.

-BW Webb and Grant Haley both had solid games. Webb was flagged for a hold and also missed a tackle, but he finished with 3 tackles and a TFL. His coverage on the outside was solid. Haley almost had 2 interceptions for the second week in a row. He is going to come down with one at some point, I almost-guarantee it. He is making quick and correct reads but I can tell there isn’t that full-bore confidence in himself yet. That will come with time and NYG could have their slot corner set up going in to the offseason.

SAFETIES

-More of the same from Landon Collins. Once again he led the team with 9 tackles, 2 TFL, and added a pressure. He was active near the line of scrimmage and made a few impressive tackles. However he added 2 missed tackles and was outclassed in man coverage twice. If he can’t stick with tight ends underneath and he can’t be trusted in deep coverage, is he really a safety you want to build around? His highlight reel is impressive, I will give him that. But the other 90% of the plays leave a lot to be desired.

-Curtis Riley and Michael Thomas are both aggressive, physical players. They combined for 9 tackles but also combined for 3 missed tackles and are writing the book on how not to pursue ball carriers. Their angles were terrible.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 3/3 (Made 25-51-29). Rosas is now 23/24 and may be heading towards a Pro-Bowl spot if he can keep this up. Glad to see this staff is getting him more long FG looks than what we saw last year.

-P Riley Dixon: 3 att / 44.3 avg / 43.0 net. Solid bounce back performance overall, but he did duff one which gave PHI prime field position in the 3rd quarter (the defense saved him on that drive).

-KR Corey Coleman averaged 33.7 yards and has been the most dangerous KR in the league over the past 3 weeks. He did drop one in the passing game, but the value he is showing in this role alone can keep him in NY. PR Quadree Henderson took a nasty hit and will be out the rest of the year. Curious to see if they give Coleman a look at PR although that is a very different role.

3 STUDS

-RB Saquon Barkley, LT Nate Solder, CB Janoris Jenkins

3 DUDS

-LB Alec Ogletree, DL Dalvin Tomlinson, RT Chad Wheeler

3 THOUGHTS ON PHI

-Because I tend to be stubborn, I am sticking to my pick of PHI winning the division when all is said and done. I said it before the year and I said it after their rough start to the season. They aren’t overly impressive but I think there is some winning DNA in their culture. As bad as NYG handled that second half, PHI seemed to have confidence the entire game that they were still going to win. They made adjustments and trusted them. I think they end up 9-7 and win the NFC East.

-What is the strength of this PHI team? To me, it’s an easy answer. They walk into almost every weekly match-up with advantages in the trenches. Their OL is elite, maybe the best in the NFL. Their DL is not on the same level but they are deep and more dependable. I’ll say this all offseason…the OL and DL need to be the main priority of this team from a personnel perspective. You never have enough there, ever.

-I usually wait 3 seasons to evaluate a QB. Wentz is coming up on that mark with a few missed games due to the knee injury. Initially I had a mid to late 1st round grade on him coming out. Good, not great. You can build around him, he can win plenty of games. But looking at him and some of the other young QBs in this league, I don’t see elite.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-More on Landon Collins, as I think this will be one of the most important personnel decisions on the team among players who are currently on the roster. I have seen a lot of Vikings game in recent years and the one standout of that defense is Harrison Smith. He does everything and maybe more against the run that Collins does, but is head and shoulders above him in coverage. Smith’s cap number is $10 million. With a growing cap each year, I still don’t think Collins’ number can be within $2 million of that. On a team with holes all over the place, I am leaning more and more towards letting him walk or maybe a franchise tag, as the funds may not be needed in 2019, especially if Manning is off the books.

-I hear this from people I respect all the time. “By Thanksgiving, real football is being played because teams have now established their identity”. Here we are, entering week 13 and I truly think Pat Shurmur has yet to establish the identity of this team, namely on offense. They have an elite back who takes care of the ball as well as anyone. He can be effective inside, outside, rushing, receiving. Yet they just can’t seem to get him the ball enough even though each week he states they need to get him more touches. Taking a few weeks to get that going, I get it. 12 weeks in and it still isn’t set up? That’s on you coach.

-The weekly debate will be when to start a new QB over Eli Manning. It is going to get annoying to listen to but as much as I like Manning and believe he has gotten the short end of the stick, Lauletta needs to get 3+ starts. This team has 5 games left. You can’t make the sentimental-based decision here with Manning. He’s been paid very well, he’s been starting for a decade and a half. It’s time to get a better idea how to best approach the 2019 offseason because I’m not sure how much the NYG fan base can handle this low-level product.

Nov 252018
 
Share Button
Jake Elliott, Phildelphia Eagles (November 25, 2018)

So Predictable – © USA TODAY Sports

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 25 – NEW YORK GIANTS 22…
After trailing 19-3, the Philadelphia Eagles came back to defeat the New York Giants 25-22 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Sunday afternoon. With the loss, the Giants fell to 3-8 overall on the season.

The Giants received the football to start the game and put together an impressive 9-play, 75-yard opening drive that ended with a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Eli Manning to running back Saquon Barkley. The Eagles were flagged with a penalty on the touchdown and Head Coach Pat Shurmur decided to go for the 2-point conversion, which failed. The Giants led 6-0.

The Eagles picked up one first down on their first drive, but punted. The Giants then drove 87 yards in 10 plays, but could get no closer than the 7-yard yard line and settled for a 25-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas. The Giants now led 9-0.

The Eagles picked up one first down on their second drive, but once more were forced to punt. Again the Giants responded with points as New York drove 54 yards in 10 plays to set up a 51-yard field goal by Rosas. Giants 12 – Eagles 0.

Philadelphia finally got on the board on their third possession as they moved the ball 46 yards in seven plays to set up a 42-yard field goal. The Giants quickly charged back with tight end Rhett Ellison gaining 20 yards on a reception, Barkley picking up four yards, and then Barkley breaking off a spectacular 51-yard touchdown run. With just over four minutes to go before the half, the Giants led 19-3.

The final four minutes of the half proved critical however. First, the Eagles scored a touchdown quickly by driving 75 yards in six plays, with the possession culminating with a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Carson Wentz to tight end Zach Ertz. The Eagles also converted the 2-point conversion to cut the Giants lead to 19-11. The Giants then wasted a 46-yard kickoff return by wideout Corey Coleman when Manning foolishly threw to a well-covered wide receiver Odell Beckham at the Eagles 2-yard line. The pass was picked off, ending the scoring threat, and the chance for at least another field goal.

The third quarter began with both teams exchanging punts but the Eagles winning the field position battle in the exchange. Philadelphia began their second drive of the half in Giants’ territory, which led to a 29-yard field goal. Giants 19 – Eagles 14.

After Barkley gained 94 yards rushing and 37 yards receiving with two touchdowns in the first half, the Giants inexplicably went away from calling his number. Barkley only carried the ball four times in the second half of the game, and caught one more pass. Not surprisingly, the Giants punted again on their next two possessions..

The Eagles went ahead in the 4th quarter on a 7-play, 61-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run and another successful 2-point conversion. Philadelphia now led 22-19 with 10 minutes left in the game.

New York finally scored their first (but unfortunately only) points of the second half by responding with an 8-play, 56-yard drive that ended with a 29-yard field goal. With 5:49 left, the game was tied 22-22.

The ensuing game-winning drive by the Eagles was predictable. Philadelphia drove 50 yards in 10 plays, eating 5:27 off of the clock. The defense had a chance to stop them on 4th-and-1, but the Eagles easily converted with a 12-yard pass completion over the middle.

The Eagles kicked the game-winning field goal with 22 seconds left on the clock. The last three plays by the Giants only resulted in seven yards. Game over.

Manning finished 26-of-37 for 297 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. His leading targets were Barkley (7 catches for 41 yards and one touchdown) and Beckham (5 catches for 85 yards). Barkley gained 101 rushing yards and one touchdown on 13 carries.

Defensively, the Giants did not force a turnover. They did have three sacks, with one each by linebacker Alec Ogletree, linebacker Tae Davis, and defensive lineman Mario Edwards.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were defensive end Kerry Wynn (concussion), quarterback Kyle Lauletta, wide receiver Jawill Davis, center Evan Brown, nose tackle John Jenkins, cornerback Tony Lippett, and safety Kamrin Moore.

Tight end Evan Engram injured his hamstring during pre-game warm-ups and did not play.

Wide receiver/returner Quadree Henderson left the game with a fractured shoulder and did not return.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Pat Shurmur and the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Pat Shurmur (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • WR Odell Beckham, Jr. (Video)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (Video)

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur and select players will address the media on Monday.