Oct 202018
 
Share Button
New York Giants Fans (October 11, 2018)

It Hurts – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: New York Giants at Atlanta Falcons, October 22, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
Some regular-season games are simply more important than others. And the New York Giants ended their season on October 11th when they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles. Had they won, they would have very much still been alive in a mediocre to-date division. Now the 1-5 (0-2 in the NFC East) Giants find themselves ensconced in last place. Could the Giants still catch the Eagles, Cowboys, and Redskins and win the division with 10 games left? Sure. There is a ton of football still left to be played and the Giants are only two games out of first place. But it doesn’t feel like that is possible. The fans already sense it. And it seems like the players do as well. The telltale sign was not just the fact that the Giants lost to the Eagles (again), but they way they lost. With everything on the line, they came up disgustingly small.

So once again, the focus and tenor of the game previews must change. The individual match-ups no longer matter, but the big picture does. We need to take a couple of steps back and evaluate the organization, where this team is heading, and how it is being led? This isn’t fun. While the Giants haven’t officially entered Cleveland Browns territory in terms of organizational futility (yet), it is clear the Giants are now one of the doormats of the NFL. We are the team that other teams can’t wait playing against. We are the team that fills up the highlight reels for the opposition. We are the team that other fans say, “Who are we playing this weekend? The Giants? That’s a win.”

The Giants are not being well led. Ownership has made a series of catastrophic misjudgments. With each passing day, it is clear that former General Manager Jerry Reese and former Vice President of Player Evaluation Marc Ross were not only terrible at their jobs, but they turned a 2x Super Bowl winner into a laughing stock in just five short years. Yet when ownership finally decided enough was enough in January 2016, the team fired Tom Coughlin, promoted Ben McAdoo, kept the bulk of Coughlin’s coaching staff, and retained Reese and Ross. If folks recall, the Eagles appeared to have goaded ownership into hiring McAdoo quickly for fear of losing him to Philadelphia. The Eagles, who hired Doug Pederson, are probably still getting a good chuckle over that one.

When the Giants collapsed in 2017, arguably one of the franchise’s very worst seasons in team history, ownership fired McAdoo and Reese before the season was even over. Ross was fired later. The decision to hire Dave Gettleman was telegraphed from the start, and guaranteed as soon as ownership hired Ernie Accorsi to “advise” on the hiring process. Gettleman was groomed under Accorsi and worked under Reese and Ross. He certainly wasn’t a break from the past. And at the age of 67, his hiring certainly wasn’t made with a view for the long-term. It has been suggested that he simply would be a temporary bridge until Assistant GM Kevin Abrams, who has been with the team since 1999, was ready. So right or wrong, ownership made the decision that the organization was not structurally broken and that most of the college and pro scouts were still good at their job. They came to the conclusion that if they just fired Reese and Ross, just like they had made the previous decision that if they just fired Coughlin, everything would be fine. Thus far, it looks like they have made yet another huge misjudgment. I’ll get into the specifics below. But take a quick look at the roster. I repeatedly made the point before the season that it was top heavy. It is even more so today. You have a number of big names sprinkled throughout the roster and then a bunch of castoffs from around the league. Most of these names are barely recognizable and many of them should not even be on an NFL roster.

Which brings us to the third and final glaring mistake by ownership. Once again, they believed this team was only a few roster moves away from seriously competing for a Super Bowl. Nothing could be farther from the truth. And the fact that they could not recognize this is both startling and scary.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Jawill Davis (concussion – out)
  • WR Russell Shepard (neck – questionable)
  • TE Evan Engram (knee)
  • TE Rhett Ellison (foot)
  • LT Nate Solder (neck)
  • RG Patrick Omameh (knee – questionable)
  • LB Olivier Vernon (ribs)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:

  • Quarterbacks: The Eli Manning era is over. It’s last hurrah was 2016, but the organization didn’t recognize it and still may not recognize it. In terms of championships, statistics, memorable moments, and overall class, Manning will always be regarded as one of the most important figures in franchise history. But it’s over. All that remains to be seen is when and how he officially departs. It sucks, but such is the price for how poorly the Giants were mismanaged during the last third of his career. Now the franchise must work quickly to replace him or the Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley eras will also have a tragic feel to them. What is the plan here? Oddly, Gettleman and Pat Shurmur gave all of the second-team quarterback reps from May-August to a guy who they cut. It took them that long to realize that Davis Webb was not a viable NFL quarterback? And unless you think Alex Tanney is the second coming of Kurt Warner, the Giants had better bump Kyle Lauletta up to the #2 spot soon, if for no other reason than to give him the limited number of practice snaps. The Giants must have a good read on Lauletta heading into the 2019 offseason. They can ill-afford another Davis Webb-like screw-up. The way Shurmur handled Webb and Lauletta in the summer is a huge red flag.
  • Running Backs: Saquon Barkley will always be judged against the quarterbacks taken in the 2018 NFL Draft, probably on a weekly basis. But Barkley is the real deal. He’s a difference maker and capable of someday actually wearing that gold jacket. Personally, I’m thrilled he is a New York Giant. Wayne Gallman is a decent back-up. Why Gettleman signed Johnathan Stewart to the contract he did in the offseason is another worrisome sign.
  • Wide Receivers: Any team could win with Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard at wide receiver. But the Giants do have a brewing problem with Beckham if they keep losing. And this is not so much a generational thing either. I remember when even “class acts” like Harry Carson demanded to be traded because of the team losing. Beckham is being wasted and he knows it. The rest of the receiving corps outside him and Sterling Shepard is embarrassingly bad.
  • Tight Ends: Again, most teams can win with Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison at tight end.
  • Offensive Line: While very few people thought it possible the Giants could fix the offensive line in one year, Gettleman and company appear to have batted 1-for-5 in the offseason. They made the disappointing Nate Solder one of the highest paid offensive linemen in football, they believed either Jon Halapio or Brett Jones could handle the center spot, they signed Patrick Omameh to a big offseason deal, and they believed Ereck Flowers may be able to handle the right tackle position. The ONLY good offseason move on the offensive line appears to have been drafting Will Hernandez. The franchise as a whole colossally screwed this up AGAIN. So the Giants will now enter the offseason once again desperately needing to fill 3-4 starting jobs (not to mention depth) and probably have to waste valuable cap space on dead money for cutting mistakes. I can’t emphasize this enough. The Giants are still making huge errors when it comes to evaluating offensive line talent.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:

  • Defensive Line: The Giants are also wasting Damon Harrison, who is one of the most talented interior defensive linemen in team history. Combined with Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill, these three are not a problem and form a core group to build a viable 3-4 defense around. Depth is also good here.
  • Linebackers: Due to injuries or whatever reason, Olivier Vernon never lived up to the hype. He teases, but can’t be counted on. The Giants need to make a decision about him in the offseason. Roll the dice again, or take their losses and have to deal with yet another glaring hole to fill. Signing Kareem Martin in free agency to a big contract also appears to have been a mistake and throws into doubt James Bettcher’s ability to evaluate talent since he undoubtedly lobbied heavily for Martin. Signing the over-the-hill Connor Barwin, who appears to have a chronic knee issue, was another indication that management felt this team was closer to competing than it really was. The Giants need to start Lorenzo Carter. He’s the future. Inside, giving up two picks for Alec Ogletree looks like a questionable move. And B.J. Goodson has not developed as hoped. Taken overall, the Giants moved to a linebacker-centric defense yet still don’t appear to have the linebackers to make it work.
  • Defensive Backs: As disappointing as the linebacker position has been, the marquee defensive backs really have let the team down. Landon Collins was supposed to thrive in this defense. He has not. Right now, Collins is still living off his 2016 season hype. Janoris Jenkins is also not playing up to his capabilities. Eli Apple has played better, but he also missed two critically-important games due to injury. The rest of the secondary is filled with journeymen castoffs. This unit has significantly deteriorated since 2016. If Jenkins were to go down, it probably would be considered the worst group in the NFL.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:

  • Punter: Giving up a draft pick for Riley Dixon was a mistake. They probably could have picked up a similar punter off of the waiver wire.
  • Place Kicker: Aldrick Rosas may actually be the most pleasant surprise of the season. He might be here a long, long time.
  • Returners: Management and coaching never addressed the kick/punt return issues that we all saw brewing since the summer.

THE FINAL WORD:
It is not outside the realm of possibility that the Giants win a few games and raise hopes again. I’m still rooting for this team to win. It’s in my DNA. But the quarterback is done, the offensive line is still a mess, and there are serious talent deficiencies on defense at linebacker and defensive back. The problem is the Giants have made so many screw ups in recent drafts that they keep trying to fix it by overspending in free agency, causing cap issues.

At some point, this team is going to have to bite the bullet, maintain fiscal responsibility in free agency, accumulate draft picks by trading away players who won’t be here when the team does eventually turn it around, and accept short-term suckitude. But at least fans will see the team attempting to build for something in the future and have hope. Right now, they are just treading water and weekly becoming a doormat for other teams. Stop trading away picks; accumulate them. There is no short-term fix.

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

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles 34 – New York Giants 13

QUICK RECAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eagles win 34-13.

QUARTERBACKS

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

RUNNING BACKS

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

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

WIDE RECEIVERS

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

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

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

TIGHT ENDS

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

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

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

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

GUARDS/CENTERS

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

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

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

EDGE

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

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

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

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

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

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

LINEBACKERS

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

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

CORNERBACKS

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

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

SAFETIES

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

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

SPECIAL TEAMS

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

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

3 STUDS

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

3 DUDS

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

3 THOUGHTS ON PHI

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

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

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

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

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

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

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

Oct 122018
 
Share Button

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 34 – NEW YORK GIANTS 13…
Aside from running back Saquon Barkley, the New York Giants did not bother to show up for their Thursday night game against the Philadelphia Eagles. In a game that was never competitive, the Giants lost 34-13 at a rainy MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants fell to 1-5 on the season and remain dead last in the NFC East. The Eagles have now won 17 of the last 21 games in the series.

The game got out of hand quickly. On the second offensive snap of the game, quarterback Eli Manning was picked off at the Giants’ 40-yard line. The interception was returned 24 yards to the New York 16. Three plays later, quarterback Carson Wentz threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Due to a 46-yard run by Barkley, the Giants were able to set up a 33-yard field goal on their second possession. The Giants trailed 7-3.

The Eagles gained field position in an exchange of punts and a 23-yard punt return by the Eagles. This set up Philadelphia on the Giants’ 44-yard line. Six plays later, running back Corey Clement scored from one yard out and the Eagles were up 14-3.

Both teams then exchanged punts twice. A superlative 55-yard catch-and-run by Barkley enabled the Giants to get into field goal range again, with Rosas cutting the scored to 14-6. But that meager momentum disappeared in a flash as the Eagles drove 75 yards in four plays to go up 21-6 on Wentz’s 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zach Ertz. Another quick three-and-out by the Giants and poor punt coverage was followed by a 6-play, 35-yard drive by the Eagles that set up a 33-yard field goal and a 24-6 first-half advantage. The half ended with each team missing 50+ yard field goals.

For all intents and purposes, the Eagles ended the game on their first drive of the second half. The Eagles drove 75 yards in 12 plays with Wentz connecting on his third touchdown pass of the game, and second to Jeffery. The Eagles now led 31-6.

Barkley tried to keep things interesting by scoring from 50 yards out on the Giants’ first drive of the half. However, it was the only touchdown the Giants would score and the last points the team would score on the night. The Eagles followed up that New York score with a 13-play, 64-yard, 6-minute drive that ended with a 30-yard field goal early in the 4th quarter.

Neither team scored for the remainder of the game. The Giants reached the red zone midway through the 4th quarter but turned the football over on downs at the Philadelphia 5-yard line.

Offensively, Manning finished the game 24-of-43 with no touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked four times and the Giants averaged an embarrassing 5.4 yards per pass play. Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. was limited to six catches for 44 yards. Really, the only offensive player of note was Barkley who caught 9 passes for 99 yards and rushed 13 times for 130 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 23 first downs and 379 total net yards with the Eagles converting on 9-of-16 (56 percent) third-down attempts. The Giants picked up only one sack (by linebacker Olivier Vernon) and did not force a turnover.

The Eagles were 4-of-6 in red zone opportunities while the Giants were 0-of-3.

Video lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were wide receiver Russell Shepard (neck), tight end Evan Engram (knee), tight end Rhett Ellison (foot), quarterback Kyle Lauletta, center Evan Brown, defensive tackle John Jenkins, and safety Kamrin Moore.

Linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong (concussion) and wide receiver Cody Latimer (hamstring) left the game with injuries.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Pat Shurmur and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

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

Oct 102018
 
Share Button
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (October 7, 2018)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, October 11, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
One of my chief complaints about the New York Giants in recent years is that not only have they not been competitive, but they have not been competitive in an oft-overrated division filled with mediocre-at-best teams. Here we are again. The Giants are 1-4. Yet the Washington Redskins are leading the division with a 2-2 record. Both the Eagles and Cowboys have losing records at 2-3. Yes, the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl last year, but the Giants actually could send them to basement of a bad division with a win on Thursday night.

Most Giants fans will correctly be looking at the W-L division ramifications of this game. Last weekend’s loss should have killed the Giants season. But it did not because every team in the NFC East also lost. The Giants are still not dead. They actually could crawl back into playoff contention despite their .200 winning percentage. But my focus won’t be so much on that, but whether not the Giants found a coach who can get the Philadelphia Eagles monkey off of their back. The Eagles have won 16 of the last 20 games these two teams have played. That’s ridiculous. It’s embarrassing. Enough.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Jawill Davis (shoulder – probable)
  • TE Evan Engram (knee – out)
  • TE Rhett Ellison (foot – questionable)
  • WR Russell Shepard (neck – out)
  • DE Josh Mauro (groin – probable)
  • LB Olivier Vernon (ankle – probable)
  • LB Connor Barwin (knee – probable)
  • PK Aldrick Rosas (right quad – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Speaking of getting monkeys off your back, the Giants finally broke the 30-point barrier. Still, the offense is capable of so much more. Last week, a dropped 4th-down pass, an embarrassing 0-of-7 on 3rd-down conversion attempts, subpar run blocking, and bad interceptions were issues or the Giants would have won the game. But we learned what many of us have been preaching – get the ball into the hands of Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham, and Sterling Shepard and good things will happen. The Giants should always be tough to defend.

If you were to ask me what is the #1 reason for the Eagles owning the Giants, I would tell you it has been the way their defensive front has abused the Giants’ offensive line. And this is the main point of concern once again. Last year’s starting offensive line is completely gone. None of them are left. But the problems remain. There was one very telling statistic from last week. Barkley ran for 48 yards on 15 carries DESPITE two of his runs picking up 50 yards. Let that sink in for a minute. And consider one of those two big runs happened when Barkley avoided an unblocked defender with a nifty spin move. Barkley is a stud. He can take over a game all by himself but the offensive line and tight ends are not helping him enough. It’s embarrassing. Get a hat on a hat and give Barkley a chance. All he needs is a little room.

I will continue to harp on running the ball all season for two reasons. One, Barkley is simply that good. He’s capable of 200-yard rushing games. Second, it takes pressure off of Eli Manning. Our quarterback is still driving me nuts. His turnovers last weekend were bad, and the second one should have ended the game. But he alternates that with what should have been a dramatic come-from-behind win with 15 4th-quarter points. “God damn it Eli!”… “Way to go Eli!” Ugh…

In the 16 out of 20 losses, aside from the occasional special teams disaster or the Victor Cruz injury, the lasting images have been Eli getting clobbered and/or turning the ball over with a fumble or interception. Again and again. The Eagles are still deep and talented up front. Giants fans are well familiar with DT Fletcher Cox (3 sacks) and DE Brandon Graham (1 sack). Add DE Derek Barnett (2.5 sacks) and DT Haloti Ngata (1 sack; late note, Ngata has been ruled out of this game) as starters, and reserves such as DE Michael Bennett (1 sack) and DE Chris Long (1 sack). Then there are linebackers Jordan Hicks (1.5 sacks) and Nigel Bradham (1 sack). The Eagles are 10th overall in team defense (7th in scoring defense). And it all starts up front with them.

This is pretty simple. If the Eagles once again dominate the line of scrimmage against the Giants, they will once again rough up Eli and force him to make the killer turnover. But if the Giants can run the ball just enough with Barkley hitting on a few big plays, and Eli stands tough in the pocket just long enough to connect with Beckham and Shepard (the latter who hurt the Eagles twice last year), then the Giants have a chance. But theses guys can’t make the killer mistakes like they did last week… the dumb interceptions, the dropped passes, etc. When the big play is there, the Giants must nail it. Sustaining long drives with short pick-ups is very difficult against the Eagles.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
All Giants fans were thinking the same thing last weekend: the Giants left too much time on the clock. We have no faith in the defense making a 4th-quarter stop because this has been an issue for years now under multiple defensive coordinators. The excuse “the defense did enough to win” wears thin when you keep losing. The Giants finally got a couple of turnovers last week, but they still are only averaging a sack per game, and given the chance to seal the deal with 68 seconds left, they couldn’t do it. Make a play to win the game!

Offensively, the Eagles have not been sharp. They have given up 17 sacks on the season and they are -4 in the turnover differential department (8 interceptions, 1 fumble lost). And the Eagles just lost their leading rusher, Jay Ajayi, with an ACL tear. Interestingly, by far, their leading pass receivers are tight end Zach Ertz (already 41 receptions for 437 yards) and wide receiver Nelson Agholor (29 receptions for 212 yards). These two account for over half of all the team’s receptions. Part of that is due to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery missing the first three games. He had 8 receptions in his first game back and just two last week.

Incredibly, Carson Wentz is already back despite tearing an ACL late last season. He started the last three games and is completing 67 percent of his passes with a 5-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio. He’s the real deal. The one knock on him thus far is three lost fumbles (he’s actually fumbled the ball 26 times in three years, losing nine). Personally, I’d be scared to death if I were an Eagles’ fan that the organization has rushed Wentz back too fast. It sounds shitty, but hit him. Get him thinking about his knee.

There have been many reasons why the Giants have had so much turnover in the front office, coaching staffs, and players in recent years, but perhaps one of the root causes has been the team’s inability to compete with the Eagles. Now at least on this side of the ball, it is James Bettcher’s turn. Olivier Vernon may be back. We don’t know how effective he will be. But the Giants must get some sort of pass rush on Wentz, by scheme if they have to. Assuming Janoris Jenkins and Jeffery are locked up, the obvious focus becomes defending favorite targets Ertz and Agholor. While tight ends across the league have killed the Giants in recent years, and fans love to focus on what Dallas’ Jason Witten did to the team, the Eagles’ tight ends have been especially deadly for New York. Aside from Ertz, don’t sleep on rookie tight end Dallas Goedert (12 catches).

The Eagles love to run the ball. But with Ajayi out and the NYG strength being run defense, we may see a more pass-heavy game plan from the Eagles this week. This is another opponent where I try to get my better athletes on the field to deal with the tight ends and backs out of the backfield.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
One of the biggest reason’s why the Giants lost last week was the turnover on the return game. Based on what we’ve seen since the preseason, it was only a matter of time. First and foremost, the returner game has to secure the football.

Those who have watched the Eagles over the years know one of the reasons they have stolen so many games where they have been out-played has been their special teams. The are example #1 on how special teams can be the difference in an 8-8 season and an 11-5 season.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Pat Shurmur on the Eagles’ defense: “I think the Eagles’ defense starts with their front four and they rotate them. They have eight guys up and they rotate them all the time, keep them fresh and they’re very disruptive in the run and the pass. That’s going to be the challenge for us initially, block the front four so that we can run it and throw it.”

THE FINAL WORD:
Pat Shurmur served a couple of coaching stints with the Eagles. He’s familiar with the team and how and why they have had so much success against the Giants. There is a school of thought that the Giants finally showed some emotion last week and are beginning to come together as a team. That may be true, but team building is cemented with success, not failure. The Giants need to start experiencing some success soon or this will all fall apart again. That was a very tough loss (a 63-yard field goal?!!!!), and this is a short week. If I was going on historical experience, I would say this is a very tough spot for the Giants. The Eagles are the better team with the better quarterback. But anything can happen during these crazy short-week Thursday night games.

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

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers 33 – New York Giants 31

QUICK RECAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Panthers win 33-31.

QUARTERBACKS

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

RUNNING BACKS

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

WIDE RECEIVERS

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

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

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

TIGHT ENDS

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

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

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

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

GUARDS/CENTER

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

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

EDGE

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

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

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

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

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

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

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

LINEBACKERS

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

CORNERBACKS

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

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

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

SAFETIES

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

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

SPECIAL TEAMS

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

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

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

3 STUDS

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

3 DUDS

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

3 THOUGHTS ON CAR

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

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

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

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

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

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

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

Oct 072018
 
Share Button
Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (October 7, 2018)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

CAROLINA PANTHERS 33 – NEW YORK GIANTS 31…
The New York Giants lost a heart-breaking, poorly-officiated game, 33-31, to the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina on Sunday. Carolina won the game on a last-second 63-yard field goal after the Giants had dramatically taken the lead 31-30 with just over a minute to play. With the loss, the Giants fell to 1-4 on the season.

Both teams punted the ball away on their initial drives. New York was the beneficiary of great field position on their second drive after a 15-yard punt return by wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. gave the Giants a first down at the Carolina 39-yard line. The Giants only gained one first down, but it was enough to set up a successful 42-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas.

The Panthers quickly responded with a touchdown, however, as shoddy New York tackling allowed two big plays, one an 18-yard gain on a end around, and the second a short throw to wide receiver Curtis Samuel who took it in from 25 yards out. The Panthers led 7-3.

Things quickly got worse for New York. First, the Giants went for it on 4th-and-3 from the Carolina 39-yard line and Beckham dropped the football, turning the ball over on downs. The Giants’ defense held. But on the ensuing punt, Beckham foolishly ran towards a ball that he should have stayed away from. When it glanced off of him, cornerback Janoris Jenkins tried to pick it up but failed. The Panthers recovered the loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown and a 14-3 advantage. The Giants then went three-and-out and the Panthers responded with a field goal drive that gave them a 17-3 lead midway through the 2nd quarter.

The Giants clawed back into the game with a trick play two snaps after a 20-yard run by running back Saquon Barkley. On 2nd-and-18, quarterback Eli Manning threw a pass behind the line of scrimmage to Beckham, who then threw deep across the field to a wide open Barkley for a 57-yard touchdown catch-and-run. The Giants now trailed 17-10.

The change in momentum did not last long. Rosas kicked the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, giving Carolina the ball at their own 40-yard line. Eight plays later, Carolina place kicker Graham Gano connected on a 48-yard kick with less than three minutes before halftime. The Giants did respond with their own field goal drive, gaining 40 yards in seven plays. And Rosas hit a 53-yarder right before intermission.

At halftime, the Panthers led 20-13.

Carolina went three-and-out on the first possession of the second half. The Giants put together a 13-play, 75-yard drive that unfortunately only resulted in a 36-yard field goal after reaching the Panthers’ 14-yard line. Panthers 20 – Giants 16.

The Panthers put together a long drive on the ensuing possession, but it ended with a turnover when free safety Curtis Riley intercepted quarterback Cam Newton at the 10-yard line and returned the ball to the Giants’ 22-yard line. However, Carolina got the ball back four plays later when Manning was intercepted at the Panthers’ 14-yard line. It was quite the momentum shift as Carolina then drove 68 yards in nine plays, with running back Christian McCaffrey scoring on an 18-yard pass reception. With less than 12 minutes to play in the game, the Panthers now led 27-16.

The game appeared over when Manning threw his second interception just two plays later. However, the Giants got the ball back when Jenkins intercepted Newton at the Giants’ 37-yard line and returned it 29 yards to the Carolina 34-yard line. Two plays after that, Manning hit Beckham on a deep pass for a 33-yard score. The successful 2-point conversion attempt, a pass from Manning to tight end Rhett Ellison, cut the score to 27-24 with just over eight minutes to play.

The Panthers responded with a 12-play, 54-yard drive where Newton threw a 27-yard pass on 4th-and-1 from the Giants’ 44-yard line. The play set up a 39-yard field goal to give Carolina a 30-24 lead with 2:16 to go in the game.

Starting at their own 25-yard line, Manning first hit wide receiver Russell Shepard for an 8-yard gain and then a 40-yard pass. On the third snap of the ball, Manning found Barkley who scored from 15 yards out with 68 seconds left in the game. The Giants had their first lead since the first quarter and now led 31-30.

Carolina started from their own 25 yard. Two completions in four attempts put the Panthers in a 3rd-and-1 situation at the Giants’ 45-yard line with 30 seconds left. It appeared the Giants had stopped McCaffrey short of the marker, but the Panthers were given the first down and Newton then spiked the ball to stop the clock. Two plays later, Gano connected from 63 yards away to win the game.

Offensively, Manning finished the game 22-of-36 for 326 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. His leading receivers were Beckham (8 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown), Barkley (4 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown), and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (4 catches for 75 yards). Barkley carried the ball 15 times for 48 yards as the Giants only ran for 50 yards on the day.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 350 total yards (118 rushing and 232 net passing). Riley and Jenkins each had interceptions. The Giants only picked up one sack, by linebacker Connor Barwin.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle), tight end Evan Engram (knee), quarterback Kyle Lauletta, center Evan Brown, defensive tackle John Jenkins, cornerback Mike Jordan, and safety Kamrin Moore.

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)
  • WR Odell Beckham, Jr. (Video)

JOSH MAURO REINSTATED, STACY COLEY PLACED ON IR…
The NFL’s 4-game suspension of New York Giants defensive end Josh Mauro has ended, and Mauro was reinstated to the team’s 53-man roster on Saturday. To make room for Mauro, the Giants placed wide receiver Stacy Coley (hamstring) on Injured Reserve.

In March, shortly after he was signed as an unrestricted free agent by the Giants, Mauro was suspended for the first four games of the 2018 NFL season by the NFL for the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). For the last four weeks, he has not been allowed to practice with the team.

The 6’6”, 282-pound, English-born Mauro was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers after the 2014 NFL Draft. He did not make the team, but was signed by the Cardinals after he was cut. In four seasons with the Cardinals, Mauro played in 47 regular-season games with 26 starts, 20 of which came in the last two years. In 2017, Mauro started seven games and finished the season with 22 tackles and one sack.

The Giants claimed Coley off of waivers from the Minnesota Vikings in September.

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

Oct 052018
 
Share Button
Pat Shurmur and Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (September 30, 2018)

Pat Shurmur and Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: New York Giants at Carolina Panthers, October 7, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
The New York Giants season is not over, but it is on the brink.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Sterling Shepard (back – probable)
  • WR Cody Latimer (knee – probable)
  • TE Evan Engram (knee – out)
  • NT Damon Harrison (knee – probable)
  • LB Olivier Vernon (ankle – out)
  • LB Connor Barwin (knee – probable)
  • CB Eli Apple (groin – probable)
  • CB Antonio Hamilton (groin – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
These game previews have become tiresomely repetitive because the same exact issues continue to exist. In the simplest terms, the Giants don’t score enough points. Forget what has become an almost comical 30-point taboo for the NYG offense. In three of the team’s first four games, the Giants haven’t reached the 20-point threshold. I can talk about offensive strategy, match-ups with the other team, defense, special teams, etc. until I am blue in the face, but a team that can’t even score 20 points on a consistent basis is going to lose. And lose a lot.

Many people are going to take this as an Eli Manning bashing preview. It’s not meant to be. But we have to openly assess how other teams view him. After last Sunday’s game, a Saints’ defensive back said, “I feel like the guys up front put a scare in the quarterback, rushing him the way they rushed. I know there were some shots there downfield, but he didn’t take them.”

Many Giants’ fans see the same thing; others do not. Giants’ games now have not become about the W-L record (because they keep losing), but a weekly referendum on Eli. “See! Eli still has it if you give him time!” “See! Eli had time and he still missed the open receivers deep!” It’s become a tiresome, but predictable, weekly debate because so much of the success or failure of a team’s offense relies on the play of the quarterback.

From my QB preview in June: “Yet, in an era where teams are moving more and more to athletic quarterbacks, Eli remains a bit of an old-school dinosaur whose lack of mobility clearly impacts the overall offense. Manning must compensate with better toughness, pocket awareness, decision-making under duress, and accuracy. Can he shake off the gun-shyness and inaccuracy that plagued him in 2017? Can he get his mojo back?”

As much as it pains me to say it, when I watch Eli now, I still see a gun-shy quarterback who has lost his mojo. And I’ve seen enough football over the years to know that once a quarterback becomes gun-shy, it’s over. The accumulation of years of poor pass protection now causes Eli to feel phantom pressure and make business decisions.

But what about the game against the Texans?! That’s the frustrating part. Statistically, that was one of Eli’s best games in his career. He was almost perfect. But teams don’t want quarterbacks who play well in one-out-of-four games. The “yeah but” excuses are wearing thin. Officially, Eli is now a quarterback who has won 112 regular season games and lost 106 in his 15-year career. It’s quite possible, by season’s end, he will be a career losing quarterback.

We’re one quarter through the 2018 regular season. Eli has 12 games left. If he can’t get his mojo back in those 12 games, it’s time to move on.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The Giants’ defense isn’t losing games. But it’s not winning them either. The Giants are a respectable 11th in team defense. But the Giants have five sacks on the season. That ties them with the Raiders for dead last in the NFL. The Giants have also only picked off two passes and recovered one fumble. So while the defense is keeping New York in games, it hasn’t been able to provide the short field for a struggling offense.

The Giants now face yet another quarterback who can hurt you with his feet. Cam Newton is a strange bird. At times, he looks like an MVP candidate and at others the kind of guy who holds a team back. But he absolutely can take over a game with either his feet or his arm. Newton is unique in that he is bigger than most of the guys trying to tackle him. And Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner, who replaced Mike Shula, has Newton throwing the ball as well as he has in his career, completing 67 percent of his passes. Oddly, his leading receiver is a running back, Christian McCaffrey with 22 receptions. Wide receiver Devin Funchess is second with 14 catches. No other Panther has more than 10 catches through four games and Carolina is only 25th in passing offense in the NFL.

But the Panthers are #1 in the League in running the football. The Giants have now faced a series of teams who are near the top of the NFL in rushing. While the Giants have done a fairly decent job against those teams’ running backs, it has been their quarterbacks running the football who have hurt them. The focal point of the New York defense must be on two players: McCaffrey (who is averaging almost six yards per carry) and Newton (136 yards rushing and 3 rushing TDs). The The Panthers will use misdirection to the back and then let Newton carry the ball. The Giants must be ready for it. This is why getting Eli Apple back will be important. He’s a bigger, more physical corner than B.W. Webb and Donte Deayon on the perimeter of the defense. Indeed, when the Giants go to the nickel, I would be more apt to play safety Michael Thomas. Safety Landon Collins will also be on the spot as he has been prone to bite on misdirection.

“This offense, they create a lot of run-pass conflict, use the quarterback a ton in the run game, he is a heck of a load to bring down whether it’s quarterback design runs, whether it’s option plays, or whether it’s just him underneath center handing the ball off to a really explosive running back,” said Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher on Thursday.

McCaffrey is a similar player to Alvin Kamara, who just ran for three touchdowns against the Giants. “I see an explosive guy who’s not afraid,” said Bettcher. “He’s shifty, he can do all those things in space, but he’s not afraid to put his foot down, lower his pads, and he’s going to try and run someone over… (In the passing game) the same kind of things that we had to deal with last week with the back we played against, a guy that, they’ll split out empty, they’ll motion him, they’ll use him as a slot receiver and bring another back to put in the backfield.”

Newton, McCaffrey… those are the two main cogs. That doesn’t mean Newton won’t take his shots down the field, but the key defensively is to keep these two from killing the Giants with their feet. If the defense really wants to take charge of the game, get some turnovers. Teams that win the turnover battle usually win the game.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
One of the key plays in last week’s game was the fake punt the Saints ran. The Giants had started the game on fire and that play took some of the wind out of their sails. Plays like that often get lost in the box score, but it is evidence how the Giants’ special teams unit still doesn’t do enough to win football games. And the return game still remains anemic, and worse, a bit nerve-wracking as the returners still have issues securing the football or making the right decisions.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Pat Shurmur on the Giants throwing the ball down the field: “That’s a false narrative that we weren’t trying to throw the ball down the field (last weekend). That’s a false narrative, and if for some reason, they legislate against it, we have to check the ball down, keep the chains moving. And as I acknowledged, maybe it’s better to just run the ball a little bit more. I think it’s important to throw the ball down the field, and we try to and we do it more than that narrative suggests.”

THE FINAL WORD:
This Carolina team is beatable. But the Panthers are also tough to beat at home having won seven in a row at their stadium, going back to last season. The Giants just FEEL broken right now. And I’m not sure there is a short-term way out of this mess. I would keep giving the ball to Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham. Those are your two difference makers.

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

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints 33 – New York Giants 18

QUICK RECAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saints win 33-16.

QUARTERBACKS

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

RUNNING BACKS

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

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

WIDE RECEIVERS

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

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

TIGHT ENDS

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

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

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

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

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

GUARDS/CENTERS

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

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

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

EDGE

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

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

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

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

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

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

LINEBACKERS

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

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

CORNERBACKS

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

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

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

SAFETIES

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

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

SPECIAL TEAMS

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

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

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

3 STUDS

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

3 DUDS

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

3 THOUGHTS ON NO

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

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

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

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

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

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

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

Sep 302018
 
Share Button
Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 30, 2018)

The Agony of Defeat – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 33 – NEW YORK GIANTS 18…
The New York Giants were beaten by the New Orleans Saints 33-18 on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. With the defeat, the Giants fell to 1-3 on the season.

For the bulk of the game, the problem for the Giants was once again an offense. The Giants could not score 20 points, nor gain 300 yards, against what had been the NFL’s worst-ranked defense. And the team’s long play of the day against the Saints was only 28 yards. Running back Saquon Barkley was only given 10 carries and team backs only had a total of 12 carries. Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. only caught seven passes for 60 yards. And while quarterback Eli Manning completed 31-of-41 passes, he only passed for 255 yards with his longest completion being 27 yards late in the game. The Giants also fumbled the ball away twice.

The game actually started off great for New York. The Saints received the ball to start the game, but went three-and-out and were forced to punt. The Giants responded on their first possession with a 10-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a 2-yard touchdown pass from Manning to wide receiver Sterling Shepard. The Giants were up 7-0.

It looked as if the Giants had stopped New Orleans for a second three-and-out on their second possession. But on 4th-and-2 from their own 33-yard line, the Saints bravely ran a fake punt that picked up 10 yards and a first down. The Saints went on to set up a successful 42-yard field goal and cut New York’s lead to 7-3.

The Giants picked one first down on their second series but were forced to punt after an offensive pass interference penalty called on wide receiver Russell Shepard set the team back. The Saints drove the ball 69 yards in nine plays to set up a second field goal, this one from 34 yards out. Things quickly got worse as on the subsequent series running back Wayne Gallman fumbled the ball away after a short completion (some felt it should have been ruled an incompletion). The loose ball was recovered by the Saints and returned 37 yards to the New York 11-yard line. While the Giants’ defense held, the Saints kicked a third field goal to go up 9-7.

The Giants’ fourth possession resulted in a three-and-out with less than three minutes before halftime. That allowed the Saints to extend their lead 12-7 with a 7-play, 40-yard drive that set up their fourth field goal. So after the Giants’ initial offensive drive, the next three series resulted a turnover and two quick punts.

The third quarter did not go much better for the Giants, who picked up one first down and then punted. The Saints then took charge of the game by responding with a 7-play, 80-yard touchdown drive on their initial possession of the half to go up 19-7 (running back Alvin Kamara scored from 9 yards out). The Giants finally got on the scoreboard again with a 10-play, 75-yard effort. But that long drive did not result in a touchdown, but only a 33-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas.

Near the end of the 4th quarter, the Giants’ defense did force a three-and-out. But New York’s momentum quickly fizzled as Barkley lost seven yards on the drive’s first play. The Giants punted three plays later. The dagger came with the Saints’ ensuing possession as they drove 74 yards in 14 plays. Kamara scored from three yards out and the Saints were now up 26-10 with less than seven minutes left to play.

The Giants scored their final points on the following series, but it was too little too late. Barkley scored from one yard out on a 10-play, 75-yard possession. The 2-point conversion attempt also succeeded, but the Giants still trailed by eight points with just under four minutes to play. Any hope of sending the game into overtime with a second score and 2-point conversion quickly disappeared when Kamara ran for his third touchdown of the game, this one from 49 yards out. In garbage time, New York’s final possession ended with a sack and fumble by Manning.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle), cornerback Eli Apple (groin), tight end Evan Engram (knee), wide receiver Cody Latimer (knee), cornerback Antonio Hamilton (groin), quarterback Kyle Lauletta, and center Evan Brown.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Pat Shurmur and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

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

Sep 282018
 
Share Button
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (September 23, 2018)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: New Orleans Saints at New York Giants, September 30, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
So the 2018 version of the New York Football Giants has a little fight in them after all. The short-term importance of last Sunday’s victory over a talented Houston Texans team cannot be understated. Had the Giants lost, their season would have all but officially been over on September 23. It was a gutty and unexpected performance.

But the team is not out of the woods just yet. As I mentioned last week, there is a huge difference between 0-3 and 1-2. Well, there is also a huge difference between 1-3 and 2-2. The Giants can build upon last week’s success or watch it largely flushed down the drain. It’s up to them.

The Giants have had a weird recent history with the Saints filled with some ugly blowouts. But this game is at MetLife. That will help.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Jonathan Stewart (foot – out)
  • WR Cody Latimer (knee – out)
  • WR Stacy Coley (hamstring – questionable)
  • TE Evan Engram (knee – out)
  • NT Damon Harrison (knee – probable)
  • LB Olivier Vernon (ankle – out)
  • LB Connor Barwin (knee – probable)
  • CB Eli Apple (groin – out)
  • CB Antonio Hamilton (groin – questionable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Will this be the week where the Giants finally get the 30-point monkey off their back? It’s the right opponent. Defensively, the Saints are 30th in yards allowed (30th in pass defense, 6th in rush defense). The Saints are also dead last in scoring defense.

All Giants fans know what the game story was last weekend. The team’s offensive line went from “beyond abysmal” to “below average” status. But that somewhat sad improvement was all Eli Manning, Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, and Saquon Barkley needed to do their thing. It was direct proof of where the issues lie. If this line can just be mediocre, this offense can be very dangerous and exciting to watch.

As Sy’56 correctly pointed out, Chad Wheeler is getting a bit too much of the credit. That was an Ereck Flowers-esque performance that fans were willing to ignore out of the satisfaction of seeing that sun flower eating machine standing on the sidelines. I felt the steadying force was the presence of veteran John Greco manning the middle and directing traffic. I mocked the Giants when they re-signed the aging veteran. I couldn’t have been more wrong on that one. Clearly what the team needs is for the offensive line to build upon and improve from last week’s performance, not regress. Give Eli some time. Let Beckham and Shepard do their thing. Give Saquon some room to make a man miss.

Unfortunately for the Giants, Wheeler will be matched up against the Saints’ best pass rusher, defensive end Cameron Jordan, who already has four sacks on the season. The Giants should consider giving Wheeler some help and not let Jordan ruin the game. With Evan Engram out, it would make sense for Scott Simonson or Rhett Ellison to at least chip on him.

With New Orleans’ pass defense being so bad in comparison with their more stingy run defense (allowing only 3 yards per carry), the temptation would be for New York to concentrate on throwing the ball more. I wouldn’t do that. The Saints haven’t seen a back like Saquon. Plus, you do not want the Saints teeing off on Manning. And you want to control the clock. You have to be a bit stubborn and patient when running the football. Give Saquon enough touches and he’s going to burn any defense.

That all said, the Saints’ secondary has not been good. And they lost their nickel corner Patrick Robinson with a broken ankle. The obvious counter-move for the Giants is to exploit the new nickel corner with both Beckham and Shepard. The Giants will miss Evan Engram and the vertical threat he poses, but Rhett Ellison is a reliable, sure-handed receiver who Eli trusts. In the short-term, the Giants may actually do a bit better moving the chains as Ellison is more dependable.

Stating the obvious, the Giants need to score more points than they usually do to win this game. 17, 20, and probably 24 points isn’t going to do it. But don’t look at the big picture and just focus on one play at a time. Run Barkley. Take your shots with Beckham and Shepard. The points will come.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
For better or worse, this will be fascinating to watch. We’re about to get a more complete read on James Bettcher and his troops as the Saints’ offense is a much different animal than what the Giants have faced in the first three games of the season. The Jaguars, Cowboys, and Texans are run-oriented offenses with quarterbacks who could hurt you with their feet. That’s not to say the Saints’ offensive line isn’t physical or the Saints can’t hurt you running the football (19th in yards per rush), it’s just that their passing game is so dynamic. The Giants haven’t seen an offense like this. And it will be a real test for the secondary and linebackers in coverage. And to make matters worse, Eli Apple is out yet another week and Antonio Hamilton is questionable.

Enter Alvin Kamara, a running back who plays like a wide receiver. The good news for the Giants’ defense is they have practiced against this type of back since OTAs in Saquon Barkley. The bad news is the Giants may not have anyone who can match-up with him. Kamara has rushed for 141 yards in three games, but more alarming is he has caught 30 passes for 289 yards during that same time span, averaging almost 10 yards per catch. Brees is smart. When he needs to move the sticks, he checks down to Kamara on option routes. So the question for the Giants is do they put a linebacker like Ray-Ray Armstrong on him, safety Landon Collins, or a reserve corner? Obviously, things will switch up as the Giants move from man to zone coverage, and attempt to disguise their coverages. But it will be interesting to see who has Kamara on most plays. I would not play B.J. Goodson much in this game.

But the threats don’t end with Kamara. Wideout Michael Thomas has caught an unbelievable 38 passes for 398 yards and three touchdowns in just three games. The Saints use Thomas like Beckham. They’ll move him around, including into the slot. Literally two-thirds of Brees’ passes go to Kamara and Thomas.

Giants fans are well aware what happens when the team loses track of the “lesser” players. Receivers like Ted Ginn, who only has 12 passes, have hurt the team before. Tight end Benjamin Watson can also be a thorn. So while the defensive focus must be on the two bigger threats, those covering Ginn and Watson must do their job.

Which brings us to Drew Brees. The guy is a machine. I never thought I’d see the day when a quarterback was completing over 80 percent of his passes. That’s almost unfair. In three games, Brees has thrown for over 1,000 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. His season QB rating is 122.2. He can only go down, right? Let’s hope so. There is no good answer to defend him. If you come after Brees, he’s smart and experienced enough to read it and burn your defense for a long touchdown. If you play back, he can dink and dunk you to death. Again, Bettcher will obviously switch things up. And it’s in Bettcher’s nature to attack. We’re about to find out just how gutsy and fearless Bettcher is. The smart play would probably be to play it safe, rush four, and play back. The good news for the Giants is that Brees is the most immobile QB they have faced. The Giants’ pass rush has actually been better than the stats show as mobile quarterbacks have gotten away from them in all three games. Brees shouldn’t be able to do that.

I’ll tell you who my wild card for this game is: Landon Collins. He hasn’t had a great start to the year. He’s due for a big game. And Landon is the kind of player who be a difference maker as a blitzer and creating turnovers. If Landon plays poorly, the Giants are probably in trouble; if he plays well, the Giants may be able to slow down this offense.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Knock on wood again. One of the biggest and flying under the radar surprises this year has been Aldrick Rosas. On the other hand, the Giants are still having ball security issues with their punt returners. They ditched Kaelin Clay, but Stacy Coley also muffed a punt last week. And Coley’s dealing with a hamstring now. We may see Odell returning a punt in the game out of necessity.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher on the Saints’ offense: “Before the snap some of the things Drew is able to get up and do and change protections, change routes, change formations at the line of scrimmage so it’s going to be a great challenge. The running back is a really special player. A guy that they use in the backfield to carry the ball, heavily in the screen game or they split him out and use him as a slot-type receiver. They’re going to find ways to target him and get him touches and Thomas is another really, really talented receiver on the perimeter. Has really strong hands at the point when balls are up and some of those 50/50 balls he’s a really good player in those scenarios.”

THE FINAL WORD:
When I predict a win, they lose; when I predict loss, they win. Giants get crushed this weekend.