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

A Good Day – © USA TODAY Sports

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

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

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

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

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

At the half, the Giants led 34-0.

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

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

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

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

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

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

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

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

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

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

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

Evan Engram – © USA TODAY Sports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE INJURY REPORT:

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

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:

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

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

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

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

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

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:

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

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

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

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

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

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:

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

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

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

Odell Beckham, Jr. – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 30 – Chicago Bears 27

QUICK RECAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYG wins 30-27.

QUARTERBACKS

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

RUNNING BACKS

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

WIDE RECEIVERS

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

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

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

TIGHT ENDS

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

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

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

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

GUARDS/CENTER

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

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

EDGE

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

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

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

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

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

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

LINEBACKERS

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

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

CORNERBACKS

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

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

SAFETIES

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

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

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

SPECIAL TEAMS

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

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

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

3 STUDS

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

3 DUDS

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

3 THOUGHTS ON CHI

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

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

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

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

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

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

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

Dec 042018
 
Share Button

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

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

Janoris Jenkins – © USA TODAY Sports

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

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

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

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

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

At the half, the Bears led 14-10.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

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

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

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

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

Nov 302018
 
Share Button

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE INJURY REPORT:

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

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:

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

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

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

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:

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

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

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:

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

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

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

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles 25 – New York Giants 22

QUICK RECAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYG loses 25-22.

QUARTERBACKS

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

RUNNING BACKS

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

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

WIDE RECEIVERS

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

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

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

TIGHT ENDS

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

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

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

GUARDS/CENTERS

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

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

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

EDGE

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

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

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

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

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

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

LINEBACKERS

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

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

CORNERBACKS

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

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

SAFETIES

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

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

SPECIAL TEAMS

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

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

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

3 STUDS

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

3 DUDS

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

3 THOUGHTS ON PHI

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

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

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

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

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

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

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

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

So Predictable – © USA TODAY Sports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 232018
 
Share Button
Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (September 24, 2017)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, November 25, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
December 2016 was the last time the Giants won two games in a row. And it seems like it was longer ago than even that. With much justification, critics will charge that the victories came against two bad football teams. But given that the Giants have been one of the very worst teams in football the past two seasons, this is measurable progress. Now comes the ultimate litmus test for the New York Giants – their long-time nemesis, the team that has treated them like little bitches since 2007.

In last week’s preview, I raised the following five questions:

  1. Is Pat Shurmur the right coach to turn this thing around?
  2. Is Dave Gettleman the right general manager?
  3. Who will quarterback this team in 2019?
  4. How do we improve the pass rush?
  5. Is the team getting better?

The jury is still out on Shurmur. To his credit, the team has not quit on him and what had been a pathetic offense has showed some signs of life the past two weeks. However, each week there seems to be in-game coaching issues, and that bears watching.

Dave Gettleman’s initial free agent period with the Giants was a disaster, while his draft class appears strong. Gettleman was roundly criticized for taking Saquon Barkley, but thus far, Barkley has lived up to the hype. Gettleman has also done a nice job in picking up a couple of players in-season that were cut loose by other teams such as Jamon Brown and Corey Coleman. This roster needs a ton of work however.

Just when many were ready to bury him for good, Eli Manning plays two strong, back-to-back games. These are the kind of games many of us expected from Eli entering the 2018 season. Can he keep it up? His loyal advocates continue to assert that if you give Eli time, he will play well. (That is true of most viable NFL quarterbacks). But he also may be at the stage of his career when he does better limiting his passing attempts (only 18 last week). Regardless, after a very rough first-half of the season, it is a safe bet that if Manning finishes 2018 on a high note, John Mara and Dave Gettleman are far more likely to hitch their wagon to him for another season.

The Giants continue to average a sack per game. This is a major problem that simply must be addressed in the offseason.

It feels like the team is getting better. Winning – even against bad teams – does that for you. The offense is clearly improving as the Giants have broken the 27 offensive point mark the past two games. The defense feels like a patch job holding on for dear life. Again, the truer litmus test will be on Sunday. Will the team regress back to its old form or will they begin to get that green monkey off of their back?

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • DE Kerry Wynn (concussion – out)

Even counting the players on Injured Reserve, this is the healthiest the Giants have been in memory.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:

The last time these two teams played in October, the Giants only scored 13 points, the touchdown coming when the game was already out-of-hand at 31-6. Once again, the Eagles’ defensive front abused the Giants’ offensive line. Saquon Barkley played well with 130 rushing yards and 99 receiving yards. But Eli Manning was terrible and threw a killer interception right off the bat. Odell Beckham was limited to 44 yards and Sterling Shepard to 37 yards.

The Eagles secondary is a mess with their top five corners are nursing injuries. On paper, Beckham and Shepard should eat this group alive. However, the primary issue remains. The Giants’ offensive front can’t seem to block the Eagles. Nate Solder, Chad Wheeler, John Greco (now benched), and Patrick Omameh (since cut) struggled in October. Hopefully, the presence of Jamon Brown will continue to improve the line, but both tackles need to play far better against the Eagles’ outside pass rushers.

So the key question here is do the Giants get away from worked so well against Tampa Bay and start throwing the ball more to take advantage of the Eagles’ secondary, while at the same time exposing Eli to hits and negative plays? Or do they minimize the passing attempts and rely on Saquon Barkley to carry the load?

Right or wrong, my guess is Pat Shurmur will be too tempted to throw the football more than he did last week. I hope he at least keeps some degree of balance because the Giants and Eli have gotten into trouble most times they start winging the ball all over the place. At this stage of his career, and during a season where he has already been sacked 36 times, relying on the run seems to settle Eli down.

The Eagles will undoubtedly double Odell. Sterling Shepard may be primed for a big game.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:

As Sy’56 discussed in his last game review, the Giants’ run defense has clearly deteriorated since the team traded away Damon Harrison. And covering anyone over the middle of the field continues to be a major problem. As discussed above, the Giants simply are unable to rush the passer with any degree of consistency.

The Eagles are struggling to run the football this year, falling to 25th in the NFL. They are 14th in passing. What remains interesting with them is their passing game appears almost exclusively focused on tight end Zach Ertz (an incredible 77 receptions, 5 touchdowns), wide receiver Nelson Agholor (46 catches, 1 touchdown), and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (37 catches, 4 touchdowns). No other target has more than 18 catches.

As much as Jeffery and Agholor can cause issues, most fans recognize that Ertz and fellow tight end Dallas Goedert (3 touchdowns) are the two most likely to feast on the Giants’ piss poor pass defense over the middle. The team also can’t ignore the backs despite the fact they haven’t been a major factor in the Philly pass attack in 2018.

The Giants need a good game by Janoris Jenkins from start to finish against Jeffery, and hope that B.W. Webb has another solid performance. Landon Collins did not play well the last time these two teams met.

The weaknesses are obvious. Put yourself in the shoes of an opposing offensive coordinator. He knows the Giants safeties and linebackers can’t cover. And the Giants can’t get any heat on the quarterback. Ertz has to be salivating.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:

The Giants gave up a 23-yard punt return to the Eagles in October that helped to set up a touchdown. Aldrick Rosas had his only miss on the season too, from 52 yards out.

THE FINAL WORD:
The Eagles are most likely going to score more than 20 points against the Giants’ defense. So the Giants’ offense is going to have to keep up, and score touchdowns in the red zone. We are about to get a much better read on Eli Manning. He’s got to accept the fact that he is going to get hit in the mouth, and still make plays for his team to win.

Nov 212018
 
Share Button
Odell Beckham, New York Giants (November 18, 2018)

Odell Beckham, Jr. – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 38 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35

QUICK RECAP

Following the Giants Monday night victory in San Francisco, the 2-7 NFC East bottom-feeders took the long trek home and were forced to take on the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers on short rest. However, the newfound “8 game season” that this team has taken on as its mantra created a sense of confidence and “challenge accepted” approach.

NYG put together its easiest, borderline most fluid drive of the season right off the bat. A 6 play-63 yard drive that featured Saquon Barkley 5 times ended in an easy touchdown pass from Eli Manning to the rookie. Tampa Bay, led by the 35-year old Ryan Fitzpatrick, looked off from the beginning. They were using broken plays and some miscues by the Giants front seven to gain yards rather than a fluid offensive system. Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter opted to go for it on 4th and 1 from the NYG 5-yard line despite being on the road, down 7, in the first quarter. The NYG front line created a wall that Fitzpatrick couldn’t get through and NY forced its first de facto turnover on the day.

The NYG offense proved that the first drive wasn’t a fluke and that they may have actually found a rhythm that carried over from the previous week. Head Coach Pat Shurmur had a sit down with Barkley during the week and wanted to create more urgency, a more north/south approach to Barkley’s efforts when the game called for it. Barkley accepted that challenge and more, as he was gashing the depleted TB front seven with the most aggressive running style we have seen out of him yet. A 12-play drive that gave him the ball on half the snaps resulted in another NYG touchdown, this one a 5-yard run up the middle.

Down 14-0, TB found themselves in a 4th and goal situation from the NYG 10-yard line. Koetter opted to go for it yet again and things looked bleak post-snap. A broken play led to Fitzpatrick scrambling for his life but he somehow managed to find a running lane to the outside and dove his way into the end zone for a touchdown.

The Giants offense puttered for the rest of the half, shooting themselves in the foot with poor blocking, penalties, and simple mishaps. TB was gaining momentum thanks to something I may have never seen before. Defensive end Olivier Vernon was flagged for a roughing the passer penalty and then 2 straight offsides penalties. 25 yards back-to-back-to-back. Three plays later, Fitzpatrick threw an interception to safety Michael Thomas on a pass intended for OJ Howard up the seam. NYG opted for the safe approach and took the lead into halftime, 14-7.

Anyone who has followed Fitzpatrick’s career knows that he is one of the more up-and-down, Jekyll-and-Hyde quarterbacks in the league. We saw the ugly side of him in this one, mostly in the second half. On TB’s first possession, he threw a pick six that was deflected by Janoris Jenkins and into the arms of Alec Ogletree. Then, on the next possession, Fitzpatrick lofted a ball, almost Hail Mary-style, into the end zone at the end of a solid drive which NYG safety Curtis Riley came down with. NYG then put themselves into field goal position and Aldrick Rosas booted a 52 yarder though the uprights. They had a commanding 24-7 lead and Fitzpatrick was benched in favor of Jameis Winston, the former #1 overall pick.

Winston has begun his career on a record-setting turnover pace, but TB gave him a shot to bring this team back. He did exactly that. TB scored touchdowns on their next 4 possessions. Yes, 4 straight touchdown scores for the anemic Bucs offense. Thankfully, the NYG offense continued to stay hot via a balanced attack. Manning hit Odell Beckham on an 8-yard touchdown and Barkley crossed the goal line for a third time on a 2-yard run.

It was a back-and-forth affair that turned into the NYG faithful simply hoping for the clock to run out because TB kept creeping closer and closer, making it a 3 point game at one point with over 2 minutes left.

NYG was able to run the clock down to under 30 seconds, but Winston and the offense did come out for one final possession, no timeouts in hand. On the first play, Winston heaved a desperate ball downfield that was intercepted by BW Webb, and that sealed NYG’s 3rd win of the season.

Giants win, 38-35.

QUARTERBACKS

-Eli Manning: 17/18 – 231 yards – 2 TD / 0 INT. Manning finished with a 110+ QB rating for the 3rd time in 4 games. It is amazing, but not surprising, how much better Manning and this offense looks now that the offensive line has stabilized. Don’t look now, but he is trending towards career highs in both completion percentage and QB rating despite being sacked a league-leading 36 times. Nobody is going to mistake Manning for one of the elite signal callers in the NFL, but he is finally finding the comfort zone within this uber-talented offense. Give this guy enough time to read the defense and enough time for the receivers to actually run their routes and we will see more performances like this.

RUNNING BACKS

-Saquon Barkley: 27 att / 142 yards / 2 TD – 2 rec / 10 yards / 1 TD. There was a different version of Barkley on the field against TB. One we had yet to see and it seems to have stemmed from some hard-truth coaching from Pat Shurmur. Barkley’s lone negative in his scouting report last spring was a little too much dancing behind the line of scrimmage, neglecting what the defense gives him too often. Barkley took it to heart and ran harder between the tackles time after time than I have ever seen, college days included. He was constantly finishing runs, falling forward, and gaining yards after initial contact. This is the kind of running style that, if Barkley can turn on and off based on game situations and the opposing defensive approach, can take his game to the next level. His 3 scores proved that he, and this offense, are much more than big-play dependent.

-Wayne Gallman and Elihjaa Penny deserve mention. They combined for 39 yards on 6 touches. Penny has made a couple of athletic catches in recent weeks and while he won’t ever be a feature of the passing game, it is a nice outlet to have. Gallman’s opportunities are so limited, but his quick speed will make a big play at some point.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Odell Beckham: 4 rec / 74 yards / 1 TD. Six days after Beckham went for 4 catches – 73 yards, he put out a similar performance. His touchdown catch was a thing of beauty, one that many could not have made. The ball was well on its way before he turned around and he had to make an backwards adjustment to the pass. He is in a nice groove right now despite seeing a ton of attention from opposing secondaries.

-It was a spread out day for the rest of the WR group. Sterling Shepard had 2 catches for 22 yards and both Bennie Fowler and Corey Coleman each snared a pass. Coleman’s role here seems locked in as he is performing so well as a kick returner whereas Fowler will only make an impact if someone gets hurt.

TIGHT ENDS

-Evan Engram: 2 rec 66 yards. Similar to last week, Engram’s impact on the game wasn’t really felt until the 4th quarter. When TB’s offense kept the game close and within striking distance, Manning hit Engram on a short pass, but Engram’s burst and speed created a 54-yard gain on the play that put them near the end zone that eventually led to a touchdown. What was notable about this day, however, was the fact Engram played just 32% of the snaps, less than half the snaps of Rhett Ellison and even less snaps that Scott Simonson. Is he in the doghouse? Not necessarily. However as I said a couple weeks ago, this team runs the ball better with Engram not on the line. If this offense wants to continue to be run-dominant, I expect to see snap totals like this from Engram.

-With that said, Ellison had an up-and-down game as a blocker. He allowed a TFL and a sack. While you can’t expect him to sustain blocks against a DE like Jason Pierre-Paul, he has constantly been a very inconsistent presence in the trenches. Simonson wasn’t a factor that often as a blocker, but his footwork has come a long way since the start of the year. Curious to see if he can carve a long-term role here for himself as a presence in the trenches.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

-Nate Solder had the responsibility of facing off against former Giant DE Jason Pierre-Paul. The motivated JPP finished with 7 tackles and 1.5 sacks. One of the sacks came through Rhett Ellison, but Solder was still being handled pretty badly. His staying power just isn’t there. The fact Manning only dropped back 23 times helped Solder not get exposed as often as he has been, but I still view him as a major liability to this offense.

-Chad Wheeler had a solid game as a run blocker. His initial contact was violent and he got downfield a handful of times making a difference. I love the hustle this kid plays with. He allowed 1 TFL and had a bonehead personal foul penalty on a PAT late in the game. Otherwise, very solid game for him.

GUARDS/CENTERS

-This is the best combo-guard play we have seen out of NYG in quite some time. Rookie Will Hernandez had the highest grade of the group, as he neutralized and moved All Pro Gerald McCoy all afternoon. He did allow 1 TFL early in the game where his lack of foot-adjustment showed up again, but he was a steady force from there on out. Brown had some of the most dominant run blocks against both DTs and LBs that I saw all weekend. Now that he knows the scheme one more week, he moved with more confidence. I don’t want to celebrate yet, but NYG may have found their RG.

-Spencer Pulley was the one negative of the group and I think that is simply what we are going to have to deal with the rest of the way. You can hide poor OC play if the guards play at a high level. Pulley allowed a sack and had a false start penalty.

EDGE

-Kareem Martin, ever since his days at North Carolina, has a game every now and then that makes evaluators get excited. Well, this was that game. He finished with 7 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 TFL. He was a factor in both traffic and in space, but I will say some of his bigger plays were a product of the action being washed his way. But hey, he got it done. Good game for him.

-Lorenzo Carter continues to show subtle but obvious improvement across the board. He had 2 pressures, 1 of which led to a sack by Martin. Get this guy in pursuit and he can chase down any QB and force him into an early throw.

-Olivier Vernon and Kerry Wynn both had quiet games, although the loudest hit of the day may have been by Wynn on special teams. Vernon had an odd stretch of roughing the passer-offsides-offsides on three straight snaps. That is the kind of thing that makes a fan say “trade him” but let’s not forget guys, this pass rush did improve as a whole when he came back from injury.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

-The lack of Damon Harrison’s presence has been apparent these past two weeks. Dalvin Tomlinson and BJ Hill were getting moved off the ball way too much, way too often. The TB running game had wide open running lanes inside for most of the day and while some of that was on the LBs, Hill and Tomlinson weren’t stout enough. They need to be better.

-Josh Mauro and Mario Edwards on the other hand, who both played 37% of the snaps, were exceptional in their backup duty. Mauro had a TFL and a pressure while Edwards had 2 pressures and a forced fumble. Mauro’s pressure was the reason Fitzpatrick threw his final interception. The ball was lofted into the air because he had Mauro creeping up into his face as he threw. That was an overlooked aspect of that key play. Both of these guys play really physical and make a difference at the point of attack.

LINEBACKERS

Another weak showing from the inside linebackers in this one. Alec Ogletree and Tae Davis were not filling lanes against the TB rushing attack. They were a step slow and too late to make reads, giving the TB blockers the proper angles to wash them out. And when TB did use the middle of the field in the passing game, they once again couldn’t get it done. Nice job by Ogletree to come up with the pick six on a Janoris Jenkins tipped pass, but these guys need to play better.

CORNERBACKS

-Speaking of Jenkins, he had a strong game for the most part. The one weak moment came late in the game where he was beat off the ball and for a 44-yard touchdown to Mike Evans. He broke up a pass that ended up turning into a defensive touchdown for NYG. His play has leveled off in a good way in recent weeks. One thing I didn’t like, and we have seen this before out of him, was the fact he made a business decision to not tackle a downhill Peyton Barber near the goal line. Can’t have that.

-BW Webb came down with an interception on a final desperation attempt-type throw on TB’s last drive. This was his best game of the season, as he shut down DeSean Jackson. He finished with 7 tackles and 2 pass break ups as well. Webb has had me thinking the past few weeks that he may have earned his way into a contract next year; he has been consistent.

-Grant Haley played the nickel role again and appears to be getting more and more confident. He dropped a interception and did allow a touchdown late to Adam Humphries, but I think his performance these past 2 weeks warrants a continued role in the nickel. He doesn’t have the physical presence to work through receivers to the ball, but he is reacting fast and getting his hands on the ball.

SAFETIES

-Best game of the season to date for Michael Thomas. He was only on the field for about a third of the plays, but he came up with a key interception in the red zone in addition to a couple of key tackles late in the game. Thomas is the best tackler on this team and I have a feeling the team will give him a hard look if Landon Collins prices him out of this town via free agency in the winter.

-Landon Collins led the team with 11 tackles and was again a solid force in the box. He did recognize running plays late a few times that led to lengthy gains, but he was solid. The glaring issue with Collins arose late in the game when TB obviously had to make a play deep. He was late to give help on a vertical route and it resulted in a touchdown. I’ll say this again, if you can’t send this guy deep ever, he isn’t a safety. Something to think about. Nice interception and return for Curtis Riley but he did miss more tackles and is among the NFL’s league leaders in that department. Not a list you want a safety to be on.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 1/1 (Made 52). In a year where kickers are just failing left and right, Rosas continues to be one of the most steady ones in the league.

-P Riley Dixon: 4 Punts – 41.5 avg / 34.0 net. Nothing notable from Dixon in this one; he had a couple opportunities to pin TB close to their own end zone but overshot one, undershot the other.

-KR/PR: Corey Coleman added another 40 yard return early. He has what I call aggressive speed and he is a major weapon if the blocking is good enough. He is close to taking one to the house.

3 STUDS

-RB Saquon Barkley, S Michael Thomas, OG Will Hernandez

3 DUDS

-LB Tae Davis, OT Nate Solder, DE Olivier Vernon

3 THOUGHTS ON TB

-This is maybe one of 3 or 4 teams in this league that just lack direction. They have a recent #1 pick whom has had some success and a 35-year old journeyman going back and forth at QB. Their offensive line is inconsistent with both tackles, neither of which deserve big money, heading towards free agency. Their best defenders have a hard time staying healthy. And their Head Coach seems to be in over his head on a near-weekly basis. Lastly, they just spent a ton of money on free agents this past offseason. Very odd situation going on down there, it’s been built the wrong way.

-Jameis Winston may, or may not be available this offseason. Crazy prediction, I know. But if he is made available, I know at least some NYG fans will throw his name out there. I’ve watched him plenty over the years and I do think he has some special talents and intangibles. The problem is, they are grouped with off-field red flags that never seem to go away, and a lack of ball discipline. He was lucky that Mike Evans fell on his fumble in the end zone on his first drive of the second half. Like I feel about Sam Darnold, some guys just don’t protect the ball enough in key situations. Winston is who he is and I don’t want him in a Giants uniform. It wouldn’t work here in a high-pressure market.

-This goes to show guys….”winning” in free agency doesn’t get you anywhere. Acquiring expensive veterans as the main catalyst for a turnaround just doesn’t work. Jason Pierre-Paul, Vinny Curry, Ryan Jensen, Beau Allen combine for about $36 million in cap space with all of them locked up for another 2-4 years. And this team is going nowhere fast.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-Does NYG have momentum? Well they beat 2 teams on the down slope that have a combined 5 wins through 11 weeks. But just like you don’t get any credit for losing to a good team, NYG deserves credit for 2 wins no matter who they come against. As we see every week in the NFL, there is no such thing as an easy W.

-If NYG is going to keep this offensive flow going (25 + points in consecutive games for the first time since October 2015), the actual devotion to the running game and play-action passing needs to be the staple. Manning has always been at his best from under center in a play-action-heavy routine. I’m glad to see Shurmur, for the first time, stick to a running game throughout all 4 quarters. If he can keep this approach, NYG will continue to score points like this.

-How can NYG fix this defense in-season? It does look like they are trying to spread some snaps out among the front seven with different personnel combinations each week. Credit to them for continuing to try new things. Perhaps the quality of talent isn’t there to defend the middle of the field, but this coaching staff needs to find something. Their toughest test will be this weekend as Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert may very well be the best TE combination in the NFL when it comes to catching the football.