Nov 182018
 
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Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (November 18, 2018)

Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 38 – TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 35…
The New York Giants won their second game in a row and improved their overall record to 3-7 by defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-35 on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Quarterback Eli Manning only threw one incompletion, running back Saquon Barkley scored three touchdowns, and the defense intercepted four passes, returning one for a touchdown.

The Buccaneers significantly out-gained the Giants in a number of categories including first downs (31 to 19), total net yards (510 to 359), and net yards passing (359 to 196). But the Giants dominated the turnover battle (4-0). The Giants were 4-of-4 in red zone opportunities, while the Buccaneers were 4-of-5.

The Giants scored touchdowns on their first two offensive possessions of the game. Wide receiver Corey Coleman returned the opening kickoff 40 yards. Four plays later, Manning found wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. for a 41-yard gain to the Tampa Bay 7-yard line. Two after that, Manning hit a wide-open Barkley for a 6-yard touchdown reception.

The Buccaneers drove 68 yards on their initial possession, but were stopped on 4th-and-1 on the 12th play of the drive, turning the ball over on downs at the Giants’ 5-yard line. The NYG offense then responded with a 12-play, 95-yard drive that ended with Barkley scoring from five yards out. The Giants now led 14-0.

After both teams exchanged punts, Tampa Bay cut the score to 14-7 with an 8-play, 64-yard drive that culminated with a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on 4th-and-goal. The Giants managed to drive the ball to the Buccaneers 37-yard line on the following possession, but Head Coach Pat Shurmur decided to punt the ball away on 4th-and-2. The Buccaneers threatened to score again before safety Michael Thomas intercepted Fitzpatrick at the Giants’ 13-yard line with less than 30 seconds before intermission.

At the half, the Giants led 14-7.

The Buccaneers received the ball to start the second half. On their second offensive snap, linebacker Alec Olgetree snatched a ball away from fellow defender cornerback Janoris Jenkins and returned it 15 yards for a defensive touchdown. The Giants were now ahead 21-7. Tampa Bay drove to the NYG 32-yard line on their second possession of the half, but Fitzpatrick was picked off in the end zone by safety Curtis Riley who returned the interception to the Giants’ 40-yard line. The Buccaneers bench Fitzpatrick after his third turnover.

A 23-yard run by Barkley helped to set up a 52-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas, giving the Giants a 24-7 advantage midway through the third quarter. However, the Giants’ defense then largely collapsed against quarterback Jameis Winston, who led the Buccaneers on four straight touchdown drives of 74, 77, 70, and 66 yards. Thankfully for New York, Manning and his offensive teammates also managed two touchdown drives of their own. The first was a 7-play, 71-yard affair that culminated with an 8-yard touchdown reception by Beckham on 3rd-and-5. The second was a 5-play, 67-yard drive, where the big play was a 54-yard gain by tight end Evan Engram. Three plays later, Barkley scored from two yards out.

Despite all of this, Winston’s 41-yard touchdown with less than two-and-a-half minutes left in the game cut the score to an uncomfortable 38-35. The Giants went three-and-out and Tampa got the ball back with 23 seconds to play. But Winston’s first pass of Tampa’s final possession was intercepted by cornerback B.W. Webb at the Giants’ 25-yard line, ending the game.

Offensively, Manning completed 17-of-18 passes for 231 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a QB rating of 155.8. Beckham was the only Giants’ player to catch more than two passes, catching four for 74 yards and a score. Barkley rushed for 142 yards on 27 carries. He scored on two runs and added another touchdown on a pass reception.

The good news for the defense was the four interceptions (including one for a score) and the stop on 4th-and-1 at the 5-yard line. But the defense allowed over 500 yards of offense and five touchdowns. The Giants accrued only one sack (by linebacker Kareem Martin).

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

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

Defensive end Kerry Wynn left the game with a concussion and did not return.

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

POST-GAME NOTES…
The Giants 38 points was their highest total since November 1, 2015, when they lost at New Orleans, 52-49. It was the most points they’ve scored in a victory since a 45-14 victory at Washington on September 25, 2014.

Quarterback Eli Manning’s 94.4 completion percentage is a Giants record in a game with at least 10 attempts.

Running back Saquon Barkley is the first Giants rookie to score on a reception and a run in the same game since wide since running back Butch Woolfolk vs. the Houston Oilers on December 5, 1982.

Barkley’s receiving yardage total for the season is 540, a Giants record for a rookie running back. David Meggett previously held the record with 531 yards in 1989.

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

Nov 162018
 
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John Mara and Dave Gettleman, New York Giants (May 11, 2018)

John Mara and Dave Gettleman – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants, November 18, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
The New York Football Giants have won eight NFL championships. They have appeared in 19 NFL championship games. And because they won on Monday night, they are now 5-20 in their last 25 football games. You have to go back to the 1970s to witness a stretch this bad in team history.

The Giants have a decent chance to win two in a row. The 3-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are another bad football team. But win or lose, the question is are the Giants getting better? The win over the 49ers was dramatic and raised the morale of a fan base sick of losing. But aside from the 4th quarter dramatics, objectively speaking, it was clearly a contest between two bad football teams. And the game-winning drive was kept alive by two killer San Francisco penalties.

As I watch the Giants now, the same questions keep entering my head:

  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 good news is the Giants haven’t quit. They are still playing hard. But the answers to those five aforementioned questions still very much concern me.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • FB Eli Penny (back – probable)
  • RG Jamon Brown (ankle – probable)
  • LB Alec Ogletree (ribs – probable)
  • CB Antonio Hamilton (hip – probable)
  • FS Curtis Riley (shoulder – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:

The Giants benched John Greco for recently-claimed Jamon Brown at right guard, and the offensive line play went from “dog shit” to “below average.” It was an improvement so we’ll take it. Brown had his down moments, but he looks the part. He’s a mammoth man and demonstrated the mental wherewithal to adjust and pick up stunts. Brown’s contract expires at the end of the season, but if he is a viable NFL starter and the Giants can re-sign him to an appropriate contract, that will be one less hole to fill in the offseason.

Brown may be the #1 guy to keep your eyes on. Will Hernandez and Jamon Brown are young, big, and strong. They are mauling types who fit in well with Saquon Barkley. Between the two is Spencer Pulley, who struggled against the 49ers. Unless he starts playing better, and unless the Giants have a diamond in the rough in Evan Brown, the Giants still need to acquire a center this offseason.

The tackle situation is also very unsettled. When Gettleman signed Nate Solder and Patrick Omameh, he probably felt he had locked in two starters for the next 2-3 years. Omameh has already been cut. Solder has been a disaster, but may have played his best game against the 49ers. Can he build upon that the last seven games and give the team reason to hope he still can be an asset rather than a liability in 2019? Chad Wheeler is receiving invaluable playing experience. Young tackles often struggle and then it sometimes just clicks for them. Is Wheeler simply a placeholder or does he have a future in this league? Cutting to the chase, is he getting better?

Not to toot my own horn, but I called it last week with respect to Eli:

Eli Manning is due for one of those games where his most loyal supporters can claim he still has “it.” But as discussed ad nauseam, those good games have become too infrequent.

I think a lot of readers of this site think I have it in for Eli. Nothing could be further from the truth. He’s one of my all-time favorites. But my loyalty to him does not supercede my loyalty to the team. And regardless of the reasons, Eli’s play has been a roller coaster for the last few years with more down moments than up. Can Eli play well against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or are we going to see a game where he makes the killer mistake or two? Recent history says the latter. I hope not. Until the game-winning drive, what bothered me about his play against the 49ers were the mental breakdowns on his part. If that part of his game is deteriorating now too, look out.

Some other quick thoughts:

  • Despite the losing and missed opportunities, Odell Beckham is still playing hard. He is maturing.
  • Evan Engram really has disappointed this year. I expected him to be one of the top receiving tight ends in the league. He only has 21 catches for only 191 yards.
  • Rhett Ellison has also been a big disappointment. His blocking has sucked.
  • Corey Coleman is a guy to keep an eye on. The Giants still need a third receiver. Could he become that player?

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:

Before the trade deadline, the New York Giants defense was the stronger unit on the team. But that doesn’t mean it was playing particularly well. So it is not surprising that the defense has weakened since the departure of Damon Harrison and Eli Apple.

Somewhat surprisingly, the issue hasn’t been the corners. While Janoris Jenkins hasn’t been on top of his game, and while the other corners are mostly journeymen, they have all done a respectable job. My hat is off to guys like B.W. Webb and Grant Haley for playing above expectation level.

The most glaring weaknesses have been:

  1. Perhaps the most inept NYG pass rush in memory. Through nine games, the Giants have TEN sacks. TEN!!! In the offseason, we were told how James Bettcher would be able to create situations where the team’s new 3-4 defense would be able to attack the quarterback from all angles. Through nine games, Bettcher’s schemes don’t appear to be particularly effective, and the team’s personnel doesn’t appear able to beat their opponent in one-on-one pass-rush situations. Kareem Martin and Connor Barwin have been duds. Olivier Vernon got hurt again, and upon his return, remains the player he has been: someone who teases every now and then but simply doesn’t do enough. Perhaps the Giants should play more 4-3 again. They appear to lack the linebacker talent to make the 3-4 work.
  2. The Giants can’t cover the middle of the field. This has been an issue for years. And while the coaches and players have changed, the reasons haven’t: the Giants don’t have linebackers or safeties who can cover. Dave Gettleman made big mistakes acquiring Alec Olgetree (for 2 draft picks), Kareem Martin, and Connor Barwin. Not trading away Olivier Vernon is looking like a mistake. The Giants have no viable free safety. And Landon Collins is simply too up-and-down. (Again, they may rue the day they didn’t trade him as he is a pending free agent).

So when you combined (1) and (2), you get opposing QBs who have time to scan the field, and inevitably find an open target over the middle of the field. This is why the team’s third-down defense is so bad.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:

While the special teams are still making mistakes (i.e., kickoff out of bounds, usually allowing one decent return per game), the unit appears to be improving. Aldrick Rosas has been a pleasant surprise. Riley Dixon has been consistent. And the Giants now have a couple of returners on the team – Corey Coleman and Quadree Henderson – who have made some noise the past couple of games.

THE FINAL WORD:
The Giants have scored more than 20 points in three games this year. They won two of those games. The Giants have scored 20 or few points in six games this year. They have lost all of those games. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure this out.

Against Tampa, can the Giants put more than 20-24 points up on the board? If they do, they probably win. If not, they will probably lose.

Nov 142018
 
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (November 12, 2018)

Odell Beckham, Jr. – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 27 – San Francisco 49ers 23

QUICK RECAP

A rough week in California with wildfires destroying homes at a record pace put this game in question, as the air quality reached “dangerous” levels and was creeping towards the league re-locating the Monday night match-up. The 1-7 Giants ended up taking on the 2-7 Niners as scheduled.

The Giants came out of the bye week with yet another starting right guard, this time the newly-signed Jamon Brown who was recently released by the Rams. The Niners, who underwent everyone’s worst nightmare early in the year, losing their starting QB to a season-ending injury, gave the start to 2017 undrafted free agent Nick Mullens who was impressive in his debut the week prior against OAK.

The Niners took an early 3-0 lead as the NYG offense continued to show ineptitude on their first two possessions stemming from poor blocking and a nervous Eli Manning. However the Big Blue defense came up big, taking advantage of the green Mullens as he misfired on a pass across the field which was tipped/broke up by Janoris Jenkins and right into the lap of BJ Goodson. The Giants began their third possession on the SF 12-yard line and on 3rd and 8, Manning stood strong in the pocket and found a wide open Odell Beckham in the end zone. The Niners had three defenders in the area and none of them tracked the Giants most explosive pass catcher. Giants led 7-3.

The Niners didn’t let the lead last long, as tight end George Kittle and running back Matt Breida torched the Giants back seven on the next drive, as they did for the entire night. They combined for 6 touches and 51 yards, the last one being a 3-yard touchdown run by Breida up the middle at the start of the 2nd quarter.

After trading possessions, NYG put together their longest drive of the night: 14 plays, including 2 penalties worth 25 yards charged against SF, landed NYG inside the 10-yard line with a fresh set of downs. Pat Shurmur, who has been stating there needs to be more devotion to the running game since September, gave Saquon Barkley three shots at the end zone. It left them 2 yards shy and NYG had to settle on a 20-yard field goal to tie the game at 10.

Mullens and the Niners offense then rattled off 11 plays in under 2 minutes to consistent chunk-gains via the middle of the field. They were able to respond with a field goal of their own which gave them a 3 point lead heading into halftime.

SF opened the half at their own 40-yard line thanks to a kickoff out of bounds by Aldrick Rosas. The Mullens-Breida connection continued to move the ball and successfully convert on 3rd downs, the third of which resulted in a touchdown pass at the mercy of Ogletree for what seemed to be the hundredth time. SF was up 20-10 on their home turf against an offense that has been struggling all year.

The newly-signed Corey Coleman then gave the Giants a solid boost with a team season-long, 51-yard kick return. Manning then found Beckham for a 30-yard gain and all of the sudden NYG was back in the red zone. The Manning-to-Beckham duo stayed hot, as they ran replica plays back-to-back, the latter ending in an easy 20-yard touchdown as Beckham outclassed second-year corner Ahkello Witherspoon.

The Giants were down by 3 and then forced SF in to a 3-and-out, giving them the ball back with all of the momentum. Rosas nailed his third field goal of the night, this one for 31 yards, which tied it up at 20. Nick Mullens trotted onto the field and started to look flustered as the NYG pass rush was, at least, breaking through what seemed to be a red wall also known as the SF offensive line.

Mullens misfired on a pass intended for Marquis Goodwin and it, once again, bounced right in to Goodson’s hands for his second interception of the night. The Giants had the Niners by the throat. However a quick 3-and-out forced by the SF defense gave the Niners the ball back. The two offenses struggled to take control back but eventually the Niners put together a time-consuming, 11-play drive the resulted in Robbie Gould’s third field goal of the night. NYG had just 2:46 left to get this game tied up or in their favor.

There was a different feel to this one. There was confidence that the NYG offense was going to get this done. For the most part, the offensive line was having a good night collectively and Manning was hitting most of his targets. The SF defense, in addition, was nothing to be overly scared about. Manning hit Evan Engram, who previously had 1 target in the game, for a 31-yard gain, the longest play of the night for NYG. He then came down with another 6-yard catch the play after.

Then came the ugliest portion of the game and a clear sign that the two teams on the field had a combined 3 wins in week 10 of the 2018 season. Four penalties, two on NYG and two on SF, were committed and called in the next 20 seconds of game clock. The final one was an 18-yard pass interference on Witherspoon, when the Giants were in the middle of a 2nd and 20 situation from midfield, way out of field goal range. The next big play came from Barkley, a 23-yard catch-and-run that landed NYG at the 12-yard line. A couple plays later, Manning hit Sterling Shepard, who also was very quiet in the game until this drive, for a 3-yard touchdown. NYG did leave about a minute left on the clock for Mullens and company.

The Niners got the ball near midfield quickly but they had to burn their final timeout because of a false start by rookie tackle Mike McGlinchey. It can rightfully be questioned if that was a right decision by Niners coach Kyle Shanahan because they could have lost 10 seconds of game clock but held on to a timeout. Mullens was able to get the ball to the 21-yard line and spiked the ball with 1 second remaining.

Instead of sitting back, the NYG defense came with a full force blitz that made Mullens rush his throw. He sailed it past the end zone and the game was over.

NYG wins, 27-23.

QUARTERBACKS

-Eli Manning: 19/31 – 188 yards – 3 TD / 0 INT. Manning shook off a rusty start and played an overall solid game. His performance late was something we saw for years but not so much lately. He appeared more aggressive and braver in the pocket. He was certainly aided by the offensive line keeping it together for the most part and whether anyone thinks he should be here or not, Manning proved he can still get it done on multiple levels. He did have 2 poor under throws on plays where Beckham and Barkley beat their man deep, respectively. That power just isn’t there downfield anymore. In addition, Manning missed the fact that Beckham was left uncovered near the end zone on Barkley’s third straight rushing attempt near the end zone, which resulted in no touchdown. It was a rare mental miss by Manning.

RUNNING BACKS

-Saquon Barkley: 20 att / 67 yards – 4 rec / 33 yards. Overall a quiet night for Barkley on a play-to-play basis. He had issues with his footing early on, leading to an in-game footwear alteration. Barkley just didn’t have nay room inside to run and the tight ends were horrific on the edge. His 23-yard gain on the final touchdown drive was one of the bigger plays of the game. I often hear that he is too prone to bounce runs to the outside and I can see the argument, but some of his biggest plays this season were a result of that approach. Is there room for improvement as a decision maker? Sure. I wrote that in my scouting report of him last spring. But you have take the good with the bad with the understanding that the rewards of him running like that will usually outweigh the risks.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Odell Beckham: 4 rec / 73 yards / 2 TD. The night didn’t start well, as Beckham let the first pass of the game slip right between his hands, for his first of 2 drops on the night. However he and the Giants offense turned things around. His volume of catches wasn’t high, but he came down with 2 touchdowns and “could have” had 2 more if Manning hit his mark. Most important here is that Beckham continues to play as hard as any WR in the league. His production and thus his attitude is so much-based on the offensive line giving Manning time. Hopefully they can keep this up.

-Sterling Shepard: 2 rec / 9 yards / 1 TD – 1 att / 27 yards. Shepard was quiet for the majority of the night. He was thrown to just 3 times but the final target of the night resulted in a 3-yard touchdown. He has always had a knack for those short-yardage, get-open-at-any-cost type situations and he stood up when the team needed him.

-Corey Colman deserves a mention. He came down with his lone target of the night, which was an essential 3rd down conversion. He also provided a spark to the kick return game. A couple of nice returns were called back via holding penalties, but his 51-yard gain set up NYG for their third touchdown of the night. This is a kid with all of the talent in the world and nobody has ever denied that. His issues have stemmed from inconsistency and complacency. Could NYG be the pace that gets turned around? It’s worth a shot.

TIGHT ENDS

-Evan Engram: 4 rec / 46 yards. With 2:43 left in the 4th quarter, Engram had 1 target, 1 catch, 1 yard. Fair to say he had little-to-no impact on this game until the end. He, along with Shepard, are dangerous weapons who can break off a big play at any moment. I think he is still getting his groove back after coming back from injury and if he starts making plays like he did on the final drive, this offense will break out. His blocking grade was slightly below the average mark again.

-Rhett Ellison played a poor, poor game. Especially upon my review/re-watch, his blocking grade was the worst we have seen out of him since he signed with NYG. DE Arik Armstead overpowered him with ease on multiple occasions. He allowed 2 TFL and a pressure in addition to be driven backwards off the snap multiple times despite playing just about half the snaps. If NYG is going to be a run-first team in the coming years, they need more presence at TE from a blocking standpoint.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

-Nate Solder and Chad Wheeler both had their best games of the season, respectively. Solder looked very nimble and light, keeping his assignment in front of him with great footwork. SF doesn’t exactly bring the heat off the edge with superior talent, but after what we have seen this year from Solder, it was a step in the right direction. Wheeler was quiet in a good way. He never looks pretty for the most part, but I saw an improvement with his footwork, consistency, balance in this one. His performance over these next 7 weeks will say a lot in terms of how NYG approaches the offseason in relation to the OL. I still think there is a shot he can be the guy at RT for the future.

GUARDS/CENTERS

-All eyes were on the newly acquired Jamon Brown at right guard. That position has been a revolving door and a major source of weakness within this offense for years. Brown, the new flavor of the month, didn’t grade out well. I do think he showed more that Patrick Omameh when it comes to picking up stunts and twists, something opposing defenses have been torching this OL with. However, at the end of the night Brown was the lowest graded OL with 1 TFL allowed, 1 pressure allowed, 1 sack allowed, and a holding penalty. Ouch.

-Spencer Pulley was the next-worst grade along the OL. His lack of performance didn’t pop up on the stat sheet as much, as he allowed 1 sack and that’s about it. However Pulley was the main culprit for no inside running game. He simply just couldn’t hold his ground, too much time spent being drilled back. Pulley is a guy that is almost always in recovery mode.

-Will Hernandez continues to put in solid, positive game grades at LG. He excelled at sticking to his man, hands on and inside, with good balance and presence. He had an ill-timed false start late in the game that could have really shot this offense in the foot, but his teammates picked him up. One thing I see about him that I just don’t like is the lack of ability in space to make a difference. On screens or even outside runs, Hernandez too often whiffs, doesn’t even touch a defender. He is a better athlete than that, but his adjustments just haven’t caught up to the speed of the NFL yet.

EDGE

-Olivier Vernon and Lorenzo Carter were the 2 main edge rushers in this game. Neither recorded a sack and overall, both of them were outplayed by the SF tackles. They each finished with 2 pressures but Carter actually finished with a team-leading 3 TFL. This was arguably his best game as a pro and he played about half of the snaps. His talent stands out and he looks like he is thinking less, reacting more.

-Kerry Wynn and Kareem Martin were basically non-existent on the field. Wynn was out there for about 50% of the snaps whereas Martin saw his playing time take a nosedive. I expect to see more of that with Carter being the main beneficiary.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

-The Niners ground game was a steady force all night long. Part of that can be rightfully blamed on the linebackers and Landon Collins, but BJ Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson were struggling to maintain ground against double teams, Hill more so. Tomlinson had a couple solid, rangy plays in addition to a TFL. Hard to expect either one of these guys to play on the same level as the traded Damon Harrison.

-Backups Josh Mauro and Mario Edwards both played well in their roles. Mauro had the most active game of his season, finishing with 5 tackles and 1 TFL.

LINEBACKERS

-The middle of the field was torched by the Niners passing game and Matt Breida averaged just under 6 yards per carry. Alec Ogletree was a culprit in both, as he just doesn’t have the quickness in his hips to hang with pass catching tight ends or backs that go out into a route.

-BJ Goodson ended up with 2 interceptions off of tipped balls. The first one led to the first NYG score of the night. While both of those plays were mostly right-place, right time results, Goodson played a very solid game. He was the most physical NYG defender on the field and he made several good reads post-snap that put him in the right position to make a play. He finished with 6 tackles and a TFL.

-Nate Stupar gets a few snaps here and there in addition to his special teams presence. He was flagged for a face mask penalty and a hold. Lately he has been on the wrong side of these evaluations.

CORNERBACKS

-Quietly, a very effective game for both Janoris Jenkins and BW Webb. They both kept the SF wide receivers in check, in particular the speedster Marquis Goodwin, whom they sent deep numerous times. They weren’t challenged much but they were still active. Jenkins broke up a pass that ended up being tipped into the hands of linebacker BJ Goodson for his first of 2 interceptions.

-Grant Haley saw the bulk of nickel snaps and even though he was beat on 3rd down a couple times, I thought he played well. The undrafted rookie made a key 3rd down tackle on the Niners second-to-last drive to force the try for a field goal rather than bleed the clock out. Haley is a more physical version of Donte Deayon, who just couldn’t hack it with the size and strength of the NFL. Haley has a nice opportunity to show what he’s got these next 7 weeks.

SAFETIES

-Even though Landon Collins led the team with 9 tackles, it was an off night for the up-and-down safety. He was torched in the intermediate passing game over the middle where his lack of agility and reaction showed. His game is very all-or-nothing and when he doesn’t seem on, he can really hurt this defense. There is a lot to like about Collins, but one of the hardest decisions of the offseason will revolve around his contract offer. It is a hard sell to pay him like a top 5 safety in the league.

-Curtis Riley missed 2 more tackles on the night, one resulted in a touchdown and the other was a long run by Breida. There isn’t anyone behind him that can play at a higher level, but man this guy is hard to watch.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas – 2/2 (Made 20, 21). Rosas wasn’t challenged with any long kicks, but he continues to be perfect on the road this year in one of the worst-kicking seasons the NFL has ever seen. He did knock a kickoff out of bounds for the second time this year, however.

-P Riley Dixon – 5 Punts / 47.6 avg / 42.8 net. Other than the first punt where Richie James had a 21-yard return, Dixon pinned SF well. He is on a nice streak right now. For the record, he is 4th in the NFL in net average.

3 STUDS

-LB BJ Goodson, WR Odell Beckham, OT Nate Solder

3 DUDS

-LB Alec Ogletree, S Landon Collins, RG Jamon Brown

3 THOUGHTS ON SF

-Watching every snap of Nick Mullens in his 2 starts gives some confidence to the notion that the next franchise QB may be easier to find than some are thinking. He isn’t overly talented. He wasn’t a stud in college. But he is quick to see, quick to react, and confident in his throws. The NFL is changing more each year and perhaps the process of finding the next QB won’t be as difficult as some think? We have never had a league with this kind of young-QB success and I don’t think it is their talent.

-Jimmie Ward is the SF starting safety that has seen starts at FS, SS, nickel CB, and outside CB. He will be a free agent in 2019 and I’ve talked to some who are confident SF is going to let him walk, as they just spent a ton of money at QB and RB this past offseason and DeForest Buckner has a payday looming. If Landon Collins prices himself out of NYG, Ward is a guy I would take a hard look at. He has been nicked up a few times, but I think his skill set fits in well with today’s NFL more than Collins. Just a thought.

-The next few years in the NFC West will be all about LAR and SF. The most common denominator in my opinion? The two head coaches. Young, fresh, innovative, energetic. Again I think Pat Shurmur deserves his shot here to see if he can turn things around, but at some point NYG needs to bring in a new-look-type coach.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-The best part of this game was simple. NYG played really, really hard. Offensively and defensively, they hustled and played like they were still in it. I am old school in that I think winning culture is as vital to sustained success as the personnel. Sure, everyone wants a top 5 pick in the draft but winning games provides value as well, value that can translate to success in 2019. This whole “8 game season” they are talking about is important.

-It is amazing how one overlooked-play could have very well changed the entire tone of the game. A play I don’t see anyone talking about. On the Giants second possession of the game with SF up 3-0, Manning threw a quick, inaccurate pass that deflected off of Saquon Barkley. The ball was floating in the air, about to be intercepted by SF K’Wuan Williams. But center Spencer Pulley comes out of nowhere and makes a catch that some of our tight end wouldn’t even have come down with. They both had control of the ball and in situations like that, the offense wins. If that ended up being an interception, I can almost guarantee this would have been a loss.

-The Giants are now looking at a pretty bad TB team before a division matchup with PHI. The win created a sense of euphoria with these guys and I am as confident as I have been all year that NYG is going to win this game. TB is in trouble next Sunday, watch.

Nov 132018
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (November 12, 2018)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 27 – SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 23…
It was an ugly football game between two bad football teams, but the New York Giants won their second game of the 2018 season on Monday night by defeating the San Francisco 49ers 27-23 in dramatic fashion at Levi’s Stadium. The Giants are now 2-7 overall.

The 49ers actually out-gained the Giants in first downs (24 to 17), total net yards (374 to 277), and time of possession (34:14 to 25:46). But the Giants won the turnover battle 2-0 and were aided by a big kickoff return.

The Giants received the football to start the game but quickly went three-and-out. A 23-yard punt return by the 49ers set them up at their own 46-yard line. While the 49ers only gained 19 yards on six plays, it was enough to set up a successful 53-yard field goal and an early 3-0 advantage.

The Giants picked up a couple of first downs on their second drive, but punted the ball away again. New York got the ball back when cornerback Janoris Jenkins deflected a pass that was intercepted by linebacker B.J. Goodson at the San Francisco 17-yard line and returned to the 12-yard line. On 3rd-and-8, quarterback Eli Manning found wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. for a 10-yard touchdown. Giants 7 – 49ers 3.

The 49ers regained the lead 10-7 on their ensuing possession by easily driving 75 yards in seven plays, culminating with a 3-yard touchdown run by running back Matt Breida. Both teams then exchanged punts before the Giants began a long, 14-play, 80-yard possession that unfortunately only resulted in a 20-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas. With 1:50 to go before halftime, the New York defense allowed the 49ers to drive 57 yards in 11 plays to set up a 36-yard field goal.

At the half, the 49ers led 13-10.

San Francisco received the ball at the start of the 3rd quarter and put together an 11-play, 60-yard drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-8 from quarterback Nick Mullens to Breida. The 49ers were now up 20-10.

The Giants got a kick start on their first drive of the second half when wideout Corey Coleman returned a kickoff 51 yards. Manning then found Beckham for 30 yards. Two plays later, Manning threw a perfect 20-yard strike to Beckham for the score. The Giants now trailed 20-17.

The Giants’ defense forced a three-and-out, and the Giants began the ensuing possession at the 49ers’ 47-yard line. A 27-yard end around by wide receiver Sterling Shepard helped to set up a 31-yard field goal. The game was now tied 20-20 late in the 3rd quarter.

Goodson picked off his second pass of the game early in the 4th quarter near midfield, but the Giants could not take advantage of the turnover. The 49ers and Giants exchanged punts before the 49ers managed to put together an 11-play, 54-yard drive that ended with a 30-yard field goal and a 23-20 lead with 2:46 left in the game.

It was now do-or-die time for the Giants’ offense. Manning found tight end Evan Engram for a 31-yard gain to the 49ers’ 44-yard line. The Giants then were bailed out on an incomplete 3rd-and-12 pass with a defensive holding penalty, and then again on 2nd-and-20 with a 16-yard defensive pass interference penalty. Two plays later, Manning hit running back Saquon Barkley over the middle for a 23-yard gain. Two plays after that, Manning found Shepard for a 3-yard, game-winning touchdown with 53 seconds left on the clock.

The 49ers did make things interesting by driving to the Giants’ 21-yard line with just one second left on the clock, but their last desperate pass fell incomplete.

Offensively, Manning finished the game 19-of-31 for 188 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. His leading targets were Beckham (4 catches for 73 yards and 2 touchdowns), Engram (4 catches for 46 yards), and Barkley (4 catches for 33 yards). Barkley also gained 67 yards on 20 rushing attempts.

Defensively, the Giants did not accrue a sack and only registered three hits on the quarterback. Goodson did intercept two deflected passes. Linebacker Lorenzo Carter was credited with three tackles for losses.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

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

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

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur will address the media on Tuesday.

Nov 102018
 
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Game Preview: New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers, November 12, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
Is there anybody out there still reading these game previews?

During the bye week, I took my family on vacation to Florida. To protect my ever more exposed scalp from the Florida sun, I donned my New York Giants cap. Each day I was stopped by folks in the service industry, other tourists, and folks living in Florida. “Hey, another Giants fan! Go Giants!” Some were men, some were women. The ages varied. There was no embarrassment over, or hiding from, the current 1-7 season. Just a recognition that the team we love is going through some hard times and will hopefully be back someday soon. It got to the point where even my kids said to me with a bit of a look of astonishment, “There are a lot of Giants fans!” I responded with a smile and said, “Yes there are.”

For the second season in a row, the Giants are 1-7 at the midway point of the season. Despite changing general managers and coaching staffs, there does not appear to be any marked improvement in the team’s performance from last year. The quarterback also appears to be done with no obvious replacement.

I highlighted my concerns with how the team is being run in my last game preview. In my mind, it is not the players so much on trial during the last eight games but the coaching staff, and by extension Dave Gettleman. For if Pat Shurmur and his assistants are not the ones to lead the team out of the darkness, then Gettleman, who completely botched the free agency period, must also share a lion’s share of the blame for hiring the wrong coaches. Many fans will rightly point to ownership, but they aren’t going anywhere.

Giants fans are a loyal bunch. But we’d prefer to see things moving in the right direction.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Jawill Davis (concussion – probable)
  • OT Chad Wheeler (ankle – probable)
  • LB Alec Ogletree (hamstring – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:

Eli Manning is due for one of those games where his most loyal supporters can claim he still has “it.” But as discussed ad nauseam, those good games have become too infrequent. Most of us know that Manning is done. The question is does John Mara know it, and is he too afraid to pull the plug based on last year’s fan reaction. (Again, I would contend that fans were more upset with how Eli was benched last year rather than the actual benching).

The focal point of the New York Giants offseason must be on (1) finding a viable replacement for Eli, and (2) yet another attempt to put together a competent offensive line. Neither will be easy. Very few teams are fortunate enough to make a transition from a Joe Montana to Steve Young, or Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers. After Phil Simms was cut, the Giants went from Dave Brown to Danny Kanell to Kent Graham to Kerry Collins. The Giants will likely have a very high draft pick in April, but will there be a true franchise quarterback available?

On the offensive line, we have to pray the Will Hernandez is the real deal. Now the Giants also have eight games to get good read on waiver-wire pick-up Jamon Brown. But the “help wanted” sign is clearly out on the offensive line. The Giants need to replace both tackles and the center. That’s a tall task for one offseason.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:

After trading away Damon Harrison and Eli Apple, expectations were high that the team was also likely to deal Janoris Jenkins, Olivier Vernon, and maybe even Landon Collins. They did not. Let’s hope the team does not rue the day that it did not receive at least something in return for players who may or may not be here when the team does become a contender again.

The last eight games must be spent on evaluating who will be the team’s primary pass rushers in 2019. Do the Giants rely on Olivier Vernon again? Does Lorenzo Carter have a future as an NFL starter? Based on who may be available, would the Giants be better off spending their top 2019 NFL draft pick on an elite pass rusher?

The Giants will also need to address the secondary. Screwing up top-10 picks in back-to-back drafts, including the selection of Eli Apple, was a disaster for the team. Jenkins turns 31 next year and the Giants have no one else at cornerback. The team also seems prepared to make Landon Collins – who is limited to the strong safety position – one of the highest paid defensive backs in football. But there is nothing else at safety.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:

The Giants finally appear to have found a returner in Quadree Henderson. He was just re-signed to the 53-man roster after he was surprisingly cut on Tuesday.

THE FINAL WORD:
These previews have ceased to be previews. I apologize for that fact, but I don’t really see the point of getting into X’s and O’s and match-ups. The Giants can’t score. They don’t have a QB and they don’t have an offensive line. Pat Shurmur also appears to be yet another “up and coming” offensive coordinator who can’t handle being a head coach.

So on Monday night, we’ll be treated to the 1-7 Giants battling the 2-7 49ers. And everyone knows the outcome only matters to both teams in terms of draft-pick positioning.

Is there anybody out there?

Oct 312018
 
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Evan Engram, New York Giants (October 28, 2018)

Evan Engram – © USA TODAY Sports

Washington Redskins 20 – New York Giants 13

QUICK RECAP

Just a few days after the Giants shipped off two defensive starters via the trade market in addition to their starting MIKE linebacker being on the sideline, the last-place Giants took on the first-place Redskins and their high-performing defense coupled with an efficient offense. The disparity between these two teams when it comes to the trenches gave this match-up a very bleak outlook from the beginning.

After trading opening possessions, WAS drove down the field via a nice run/pass balance and ended it with a touchdown pass from Alex Smith to the ageless Adrian Peterson. The short pitch, catch, and run into the end zone was aided by a horrible missed tackle by Nate Stupar. Once again, NYG found themselves playing from behind, something they have become very used to, as no team in the NFL has trailed more this season than Big Blue.

NYG broke into WAS territory on consecutive drives but it netted a total of zero points. The biggest negative the first time around was a sack by Matt Ioannidis, 1 of his 2.5 on the day. On the second drive, Eli Manning was intercepted by DJ Swearinger, his first of 2 on the day, on a pass intended for Odell Beckham. The boo-birds started to come out in full effect after that one.

The NYG defense held strong, as they did for most of the day. They forced WAS into attempting a 41-yard field goal which was no-good right away off the foot of Dustin Hopkins, who had made 8 straight prior to that.

Manning came out firing on the next drive, dropping a perfectly-thrown deep ball into the hands of Sterling Shepard but the third year pro couldn’t hold onto it. However, the air game picked up 41 yards on the next three plays as the 2-minute warning approached. 1st and 10 from the WAS 25-yard line and Pat Shurmur, who has vowed to commit this offense to a run-heavy attack, passed the ball three straight times. It resulted in 7 yards and NYG had to settle for a 37-yard field goal. Three straight possessions with a 1st down in WAS territory resulted in a meager 3 points. These are the 2018 New York Giants.

The second half opened with WAS up by a score of 7-3. The first two NYG offensive drives both ended in sacks. A lot of pressure was being put on the Big Blue defense and they did a fine job keeping it within one score for the majority of the game. Hopkins nailed a 53-yard field goal and Manning’s offense came onto the field knowing it just couldn’t get going. They needed to force something and hope for the best. On 3rd and 18, thanks to yet another sack, Manning basically shut his eyes and chucked it downfield with no awareness of where the defense stood. The result was Swearinger coming down with his second interception and the offense walking off the field looking hopeless, again.

This offense wasn’t going to make anything happen, thus the defense had to make a play if there was any hope in this game turning around. Right on queue, Landon Collins forced a Peterson fumble that was recovered by Olivier Vernon and run back for 43 yards. NYG had a 1st and 10 on the WAS 39-yard line. It had a now-or-never feel to it even though there was a minute left in the 3rd quarter and it was only a 10-3 lead for WAS.

On 4th and 3, Manning dropped back and saw pressure coming, making him go to his hot read which was Evan Engram, who led the team in drops last year. The ball went, literally, between his two hands and fell to the ground. Turnover on downs. Momentum gone. Fans packing up. It was an ugly scene.

WAS drove down the field and netted another 3 points via a 39-yard field goal. The next NYG drive included another sack, the 4th of the half. After trading a couple more possessions with the NYG defense holding on for dear life and the offense responding with more poor play, the WAS defense gave NYG a gift. A 46-yard pass interference penalty on a deep ball to Saquon Barkley followed by a 32-yard pickup via a pitch-catch-run to and by Beckham put NYG inside the 5 yard line.

And here we are, back to Shurmur not standing behind his words. NYG had 3 shots at the end zone, and gave the ball to Barkley just one time. Instead of throwing a lob pass to Bennie Fowler, who would be on the street right now if NYG didn’t sign him a few weeks ago, why not hammer it 3 times with the best player on the field? NYG settled on a short field goal to make it 13-6.

After a strong performance for most of the day, the NYG defense finally broke. Peterson shot through a gap and thanks to a poor angle by safety Curtis Riley, he had an easy 64-yard path to the end zone. The score was 20-6 with 3 minutes left in the game.

NYG ended up driving down the field against a prevent defense and scored a late touchdown to, ironically, Engram. It was a 16-play drive that left 20 seconds on the clock. Rosas attempted an onsides kick which was recovered by WAS. Game over.

NYG loses 20-13.

QUARTERBACKS

-Eli Manning: 30/47 – 316 yards – 1 TD / 2 INT. It was another frustrating day for the passing game. Manning’s early interception was an absolute killer. His blind heave downfield that resulted in another interception was inexcusable in a one score game. Manning was sacked another 7 times, bringing the season’s number up to 31, the total amount of times he was sacked in 2017 and just 8 short of his career high. The Giants are halfway through the season. It’s hard to see Manning go through this but the case remains that he is not without blame. His entire game looks awfully slow. His mental reactions, his release, his footwork, and his arm. There isn’t any juice there.

RUNNING BACKS

-Saquon Barkley: 13 att / 38 yards – 9 rec / 72 yards. The rookie had a tall task, as WAS entered the game with the league’s #3 run defense having already shut down Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliot, and Alvin Kamara, respectively. While he did break the 100-total yards mark for the 6th time this season, the WAS defense kept him in check. I was hoping Shurmur would have given him more carries because even though this offensive line was over-matched at the point of attack, we’ve seen Barkley create on his own.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Odell Beckham: 8 rec / 136 yards. Respect to Beckham for playing a spirited, high-effort game. He came up with a couple of highlight-reel catches in addition to displaying his after-catch impact. It’s hard not to get down about the fact that this team has two talents on this offense that could be considered the best ever in franchise history at their respective positions, but the brokenness of this roster prevents that from leading to wins. Also, credit to Beckham for keeping his head as the WAS defense made a few off-camera cheap shots on him him and were running their mouths all afternoon.

-Sterling Shepard: 4 rec / 34 yards. Shepard’s most notable play of the day was a drop on a deep ball that would have resulted in 40+ yards. He got both hands on the ball but rookie cornerback Greg Stroman jabbed it loose before they went to the ground. He also had another drop later in the game. Otherwise it was a quiet day for the 3rd year pro.

-Bennie Fowler III got 7 targets on the day, catching 4 balls for 48 yards. 2 catches / 34 yards of which were on the final drive against the WAS prevent defense. Fowler was on the field for 70% of the plays, and was targeted on a key red zone passing play. I think this guy is getting way too much action for who he is. His route running has been low-caliber and he doesn’t make tough plays on the ball. More on this later.

TIGHT ENDS

-Evan Engram: 5 rec / 25 yards / 1 TD. Not that this is an overly impressive stat line, but these numbers make his day look a lot better than what it was. The second year pro added 2 drops to a resume that already has plenty of them, one of which was a key moment in the game on 4th down. Engram was also mangled in the running game, often getting pushed back multiple yards by the WAS front-seven defenders and failing to properly locate second-level defenders. Engram still has plenty of time to prove what he can be for this team, but I think the approach to how he is used may need to change. More on that below.

-Rhett Ellison played 40% of the snaps and was targeted once in the passing game. His blocking grade was average, as they have been with him for the majority of his career with NYG.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

-Nate Solder can no longer be considered in a slump. We can no longer say he is having a hard time getting acclimated to a new system with new surroundings. Nate Solder is a really bad left tackle. He allowed another sack and 2 more pressures. I compared his grades to Ereck Flowers last year and, believe it or not, Flowers was grading out higher. He is getting bullied, pushed around, and failing to sustain blocks no matter who he is up against. It is a major surprise to me and it’s hard to accept that he is at the very beginning of a long-term contract.

-Chad Wheeler left the game in the second half with an ankle injury, but not before allowing a sack and a TFL. While I still think we can use the “developing” label on him, Wheeler really hasn’t shown improvement throughout the 8 games this season. Brian Mihalik saw his first action in the NYG uniform. He had 2 false start penalties and wasn’t really challenged much as the WAS pass rush was very vanilla. Initially, I don’t see anything worth being optimistic about.

GUARDS / CENTERS

-There must be something in the water at the right guard position because whomever mans that spot has been a weak link among a weak group all season. John Greco now possesses the lowest game grade of the year among all OL. 3 pressures, 2 sacks, and 1 TFL along with a false start penalty made us long for the days of John Jerry. Greco has been getting worse and worse since being put in to the lineup week 2 and has proven why he was a street free agent at this time last year.

-Spencer Pulley also had a poor game at OC. He was getting beat off the ball repeatedly, decreasing the size of the pocket in the passing game and making Barkley redirect his path in the running game. He allowed 1 sack on the day. Will Hernandez had another slightly above average game grade but when you compare him to the rest of this offensive line, he looks like a Hall of Famer. He was late to see a blitz on a play where Manning was sacked, although it looked like it was Barkley’s responsibility. Those lateral-movement blocks appear to still be a problem for him.

EDGE

-Olivier Vernon had one of his most disruptive games since putting on the NYG uniform. Too bad this isn’t a winning football team because if it were, more would be talking about how well he has been playing since returning from injury. Against one of the top left tackles in the NFL for the majority of the game, Vernon finished with 4 pressures, 1 TFL, and a fumble recovery.

-As expected, Lorenzo Carter is seeing an increase in snaps at the expense of Kareem Martin. That is a very good thing, as Carter already brings more to the table. The quick speed and range in pursuit shows up every week. He had 3 tackles and a pressure. These next 8 games will be very big for his maturation as a player.

-Kerry Wynn added 2 tackles but struggled to impact the game as a pass rusher. His playing time remains too light in my opinion. He needs to be on the field for more than 50% of the snaps each week, and he was around 40% against WAS.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

-Just a few days after the trade of Damon Harrison to DET, BJ Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson held down the inside running game for the most part. Hill was active, often breaking into the backfield. He finished with 6 tackles, 1 TFL, and a pass break up. However he was flagged 3 times on the day. Tomlinson added 3 tackles but did lot of the dirty work that goes unnoticed when watching the game casually. He is going to be a very solid NT now that he will be in that role full time.

-Notable effort by Mario Edwards. He was only on the field for 31% of the snaps but he made a few hustle plays. He is really active and has the potential to be the third starter before the year is over.

LINEBACKERS

-Really active day for BJ Goodson, who saw an uptick in playing time with Alec Ogletree out. He led the team with 8 tackles, 1 of which was for a loss. WAS seemed to target him a lot in the passing game, as the book is out on him being a liability in coverage. However, I had several check marks next to Goodson’s name when it came to hustle, physical play, and simply being at the right place at the right time.

-Nate Stupar and Tae Davis basically split the snaps next to Goodson, with Davis getting the edge late in the game. Stupar had 3 missed tackles, one of which was really ugly and led to Peterson’s first touchdown. Davis’ speed and aggression was a plus to see. We know he is going to struggle in traffic because of how small he is, but the undrafted rookie finished with 6 tackles, most of which were outside the tackle box. He has a lot of range and broke up a pass while being matched up against a wide receiver. His one glaring negative was a running-into-the-kicker penalty that gave WAS a fresh set of downs. He will likely see a lot of playing time during these last 8 games.

CORNERBACKS

-With trade rumors swirling around Janoris Jenkins, the 30-year old, 7th-year pro had a solid game in coverage outside of one pass interference penalty. Jenkins really is a solid cover corner, and sometimes you just can’t see it unless you watch the all-22 angle. CB is a really tough position to find and lock down for any team and the fact they didn’t trade him is not necessarily a negative.

-BW Webb started and played the entire game on the other side. While I do think he is better suited in a nickel role, he competed hard. He finished with 4 tackles but also had a 43-yard pass interference penalty. That has been a trend his entire career. Grant Haley got a lot of playing time as the team’s nickel back and I liked what I saw. He finished with 4 tackles and showed good movement, very assertive. His lack of size showed up on 3rd down a few times and that will be a learning experience for him over the second half of the season. There is a lot to like about him.

SAFETIES

-Landon Collins has been a nice streak of quality play lately, hence why a few teams were offering a 3rd-round pick for the free agent-to-be. He finished with 5 tackles, 1 TFL, and a key forced fumble that could have really turned this game around.

-Curtis Riley continues to start next to Collins not because of impact or quality play, but by default. He did have a solid play in coverage early on, but Riley took a really poor angle on Peterson’s long 4th quarter touchdown run. As the last line of defense, it was an inexcusable mistake that we are seeing too often with him. That is a big reason why I just don’t see Riley as a starting-caliber FS.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 2/2 (Made 37, 22). Fairly easy and simple day. Rosas has now hit 95% of his attempts on the year.

-P Riley Dixon: 5 Punts / 44.0 avg / 44.0 net. This was Dixon’s best game of the year, nailing 1 inside the 2-yard line and didn’t allow WAS to return any. His best hang time to date kept that net average high.

-KR/PR Quandree Henderson: 2 solid returns on the day. A PR that went for 19 yards and a KR that went for 30. There is definitely some talent there, and this kid makes things happen when he gets the ball in his hands.

3 STUDS

-DE Olivier Vernon, LB BJ Goodson, WR Odell Beckham

3 DUDS

-TE Evan Engram, OG John Greco, OT Nate Solder

3 THOUGHTS ON WAS

-I picked WAS to finish 9-7 this year and compete for a Wild Card playoff spot. I am still sticking with that and I actually think they have a strong chance at winning the division. Crazy to think with the amount of age they have at RB and QB that they can get to this level. But you know why there are up there? Their OL and DL are among the best in football. How did they get there? Two 1st-round picks and one 3rd-rounder on the OL, three 1st-round picks and one 2nd-rounder on the DL. Take notes NYG, because that is how this thing is going to get turned around.

-Ironic that I was going to write that the one glaring hole I have seen on this defense has been the safety play next to DJ Swearinger. Then they trade for HaHa Clinton-Dix from GB and all of the sudden this defense looks as balanced and stacked as any in the league. He is a great fit next to the physical Swearinger, who is having the year of his life right now.

-The one thing that can hold this offense back (other than injury) is the lack of a go-to pass catcher when this team needs a big play in the air attack. Josh Doctson and Paul Richardson aren’t going to scare anyone and Jordan Reed just hasn’t taken the next step in his career. I hope Evan Engram doesn’t run into that problem, a guy who looks promising but never gets over the hump.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-The trade deadline has come and gone, and it looks like the only real offers were coming in for Collins and Jenkins. NYG opted to pass and that tells me they are going to keep Collins moving forward. Which ultimately means they are ready to pay him top SS dollar which can rightfully be debated on either side. One thing that he offers, other than solid but unspectacular play, is the kind of locker room presence this team needs moving forward. Hard worker, stays clean off the field, and can wear a few hats. Money aside, it is going to take more guys like this to get this thing back on track.

-I don’t think Evan Engram’s days are numbered. Not even close. His drops are a major issue, yes. His blocking presence is a weakness to an offense that will be relying on the run more and more in the coming years, yes. However the talent this kid has is still among the top in the league at the TE position. My thought, and I know it won’t be a popular one is, to experiment with him as a WR the rest of the season. His athletic ability out there may seem much worse than where we see it at TE, but I still think he can be a weapon out there. And to be honest, do we really need to watch Bennie Fowler run routes? Put Shepard/Beckham/Engram at WR and let Ellison see full time snaps at TE. I bet this ends up vastly improving the running game both on inside and outside intentions and the passing game won’t take a hit at all.

-When should NYG decide to sit Manning? Should they sit him at all? The only reason I say yes is to get Kyle Lauletta on the field. However he can’t be rushed on to the field with this OL playing the way it is. It can be a detriment to his progression. With his recent arrest, which I don’t believe is a big deal, I think the likelihood of this happening is very good right now. But the post-bye week would have been perfect to do something like this if everyone was confident he knew this offense well enough.

Oct 282018
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (October 28, 2018)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON REDSKINS 20 – NEW YORK GIANTS 13…
The New York Giants lost yet another game on Sunday, falling 20-13 to the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants are now 1-7 overall.

The Giants have now failed to score 20 points or more in five of their first eight games. And the Giants’ lone touchdown in the game came with 17 seconds left in the contest. How bad was the New York offense?

  • Not counting the 1-play “possession” right before halftime, the Giants had 11 possessions. Five ended with punts, two with interceptions, and one was a turnover on downs.
  • The Giants only had one drive that picked up more than three first downs.
  • The Giants were 2-of-14 on 3rd down (14 percent).
  • The Giants were held to 37 net yards rushing.
  • Eli Manning was sacked seven times.
  • The offense average 4.9 yards per pass play.
  • The Giants were 1-of-4 in the red zone (25 percent).
  • Most importantly, the team was held to six points until the final seconds of the game.

The defense, minus two players traded earlier in the week (Damon Harrison and Eli Apple), as well as starting middle linebacker Alec Ogletree (hamstring), played better. The defense kept the game close into the 4th quarter. But as has been the case most of the year, when the defense needed to make one more stop late in the game, they could not. After the Giants cut the score to 13-6 with just over four minutes to play, running back Adrian Peterson broke off a 64-yard touchdown run to seal the game.

Offensively, Eli Manning finished the game 30-of-47 for 316 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. He was sacked seven times. His leading targets were running back Saquon Barkley (9 catches for 73 yards) and wide receiver Odell Beckham (8 catches for 136 yards). Barkley was held to 38 yards on 13 carries.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 360 total net yards (182 rushing, 178 passing). The defense did not accrue a sack or interception, but safety Landon Collins did force a fumble that was recovered and returned 43 yards by linebacker Olivier Vernon.

Video lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were linebacker Alec Ogletree (hamstring), wide receiver Jawill Davis (concussion), quarterback Kyle Lauletta, center Evan Brown, cornerback Mike Jordan, cornerback Tony Lippett, and safety Kamrin Moore.

Right tackle Chad Wheeler left the game with an ankle injury and did not return.

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

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

Oct 262018
 
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1983 New York Giants Media Guide

Game Preview: Washington Redskins at New York Giants, October 28, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
Last week, I ended my game preview with the following paragraph:

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

So as painful as it is going to be, I fully endorse what the Giants hopefully only BEGAN to do this week when they traded away Eli Apple and Damon Harrison (though I must admit, I am one of those who felt we got short-changed on the Harrison deal). But the Giants should not half-ass this and call it a day. Keep in mind that the Giants traded away picks for Alec Ogletree (4th and 6th) and Riley Dixon (7th), as well as spending their 3rd rounder early on Sam Beal. They have gained a 4th (Apple), 5th (Harrison), and two 7th rounders (Brett Jones and part of Ogletree trade).

So the Giants have:

  • One 1st rounder (own)
  • One 2nd rounder (own)
  • Two 4th rounders (own and Saints)
  • Two 5th rounders (own and Lions)
  • One 6th rounder (own)
  • Two 7th rounders (Rams and Vikings)

That’s not enough. The trade deadline is rapidly approaching: 4PM on October 30.

This team is now officially in FULL rebuilding mode. The Eli Manning era is all but officially over. He MUST be on the trading block or ownership and management should be deemed incompetent. A Jaguars-Manning marriage is obvious to all. Get it done. Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins, and Landon Collins are also obvious trade candidates. Not so obvious, but certainly possible include the likes of Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard. In the offseason, it will be VERY interesting to see if Dave  Gettleman admits to mistakes and cuts Nate Solder, Patrick Omameh, Kareem Martin, and Connor Barwin.

We’re in uncharted territory for the Giants. The closest similarity I can think of is the roster purge after the 1983 season, but even then, the Giants still had Phil Simms at quarterback. The Giants will need to build around Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham (I believe the latter’s new contract makes him untradeable, at least in the short-term).

What we do know is the Giants are going to suck for the rest of the year and probably next season as well. But this is the right course. They APPEAR to have admitted the rebuild is needed. Of course, all bets are off if Eli Manning is still quarterbacking this team in 2019. Then, be afraid, very afraid.

The next TWO huge questions are:

  1. Is 67-year old Dave Gettleman the right man to rebuild this team?
  2. Is Pat Shurmur the right head coach to lead this team?

“C’mon Eric, they are not going to fire Gettleman and Shurmur after only one season!!!” I would respond, why not? Both have made huge miscalculations in creating the 2018 roster. As I mentioned in last week’s preview, Gettleman batted 1-of-5 on offensive line decisions and determined Eli Manning wasn’t the problem. He also traded away valuable picks. Shurmur certainly hasn’t inspired confidence, either in Cleveland and now in New Jersey.

Much will probably depend on how this team finishes. How competitive are the Giants, even when losing? Do the remaining players play with fear for losing their jobs or just tune out the coaches?

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Russell Shepard (neck)
  • WR Jawill Davis (concussion – out)
  • RG Patrick Omameh (knee)
  • LB Alec Ogletree (hamstring – out)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:

The obvious move is to bump Kyle Lauletta up to at least #2 on the depth chart, and then start him sometime after the bye week. He’s not ready. He will likely flounder. It’s a big jump from Richmond to the NFL. But the Giants must get a read on him. Does he have a viable NFL future or not? This question must be answered before the 2019 NFL Draft. Paying homage to Eli Manning by allowing him to continue to start may be the “classy” thing to do, but it’s not good for the franchise. In fact, it could be quite harmful.

How Odell Beckham responds during this dark period probably is going to be an issue. In his five years with the Giants, Odell has been on only one winning team. Most of the time, the Giants have not only been bad, but very bad during his tenure. And now there is no end in sight. This could get ugly.

The offensive line is a disaster. There appears to be only one or maybe two players on the current roster who may be part of the solution.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:

The morale of the defense has to be in the toilet. Though they deserve a fair amount of the blame for another dreadful season, my guess is they feel they have been the superior unit on the team. And now they see Damon Harrison traded away for a 5th round pick. Moving Eli Apple also weakens an already sore area of the defense. If Janoris Jenkins is moved, the make-up of the secondary becomes comical.

My focus moving forward is how does the defensive line perform without Harrison. Can Dalvin Tomlinson play the nose tackle position at a high level? How well will B.J. Hill, Mario Edwards, Kerry Wynn, Josh Mauro play now without that stud in the middle?

Little noticed this week was that Ray-Ray Armstrong was cut from IR. It’s B.J. Goodson’s last chance to impress now. Do Nate Stupar, Tae Davis, or Ukeme Eligwe have an NFL future? Outside, when do the Giants finally give Lorenzo Carter the bulk of the playing time?

In the secondary, the Giants are now down to Janoris Jenkins, Landon Collins, and a bunch of no-names. Glass half full… sometimes it is fun to watch no-names fight and scratch to gain the respect they feel they deserve. Glass half empty… this secondary is one injury or trade away from being possibly the worst in football, requiring a mammoth rebuilding effort. Enter Antonio Hamilton, Michael Jordan, Grant Haley, Tony Lippett, Sean Chandler, and Kamrin Moore.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:

The search for a returner for 2019 continues. Quadree Henderson flashed a bit last week.

THE FINAL WORD:
You have to embrace the suck at this point, or you are going to be miserable. The only way for this to get better right now is for things to get worse first. But if Shurmur isn’t able to get his players to play at a scrappy, competitive level, and the Giants start losing games by 14, 17, 21 points, bigger changes could be coming as well.

My plea would be to move Eli Manning before the deadline. Don’t let him end his career with the Giants like this. And get something, anything, in return.

Oct 242018
 
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Odell Beckham, Jr., New York Giants (October 22, 2018)

Odell Beckham, Jr. – © USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons 23 – New York Giants 20

QUICK RECAP

Yet another national television game for the worst team in the NFL; Big Blue headed to Atlanta to face off against the equally disappointing Falcons.

The emotions and effort by NYG early on were high. Odell Beckham, coming off a week where Owner John Mara essentially told him to ‘shut up’, got involved in the first quarter for what seemed to be the first time in a long time. The Giants pass rush was getting to Ryan, and Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher was hitting on his all-or-nothing blitz approach. However, the Giants OL prevented the NYG offense from getting into a groove, which should surprise nobody. Manning was sacked twice and pressured 2 more times on their first 2 drives.

The 2nd quarter began at 0-0 and after a couple more back forth drives that included another ATL sack, Ryan connected with seldom-used WR Marvin Hall for a 47 yard touchdown. It was a perfect play call and a perfect pass that left no margin for error by Janoris Jenkins who was left on an island to defend the Falcons fastest pass catcher. A slight misstep forced on the double route by Hall and it was an easy score.

Manning used two big passing gains, one to Beckham and one to Shepard, to get this offense into the red zone. NYG entered as the 5th worst offense in that situation but ATL ranked 2nd worst in defending it. Something was about to give. 1st and 10 from the 13 yard line and, to nobody surprise, NYG threw the ball 3 times. One of the incomplete passes was an easy score but Manning an Beckham weren’t on the same page with the timing. The final attempt resulted in the 4th sack of the half and Saquon Barkley didn’t touch the ball once. So much for committing to the run.

Aldrick Rosas hit a 31 yard field goal but left enough time (:50 seconds), for Matt Ryan to march down into field goal position, thanks very much to a 38 yard pass interference on Michael Thomas. Newly signed Giorgio Tavecchio nailed a 40 yard field goal to put the lead back 7 going into halftime, 10-3.

The second half began with a drive where the momentum was in the hands of NYG. They were sitting 1st and 10 on the ATL 10 yard line much thanks to a 53 pitch, catch, and run to Sterling Shepard. Two plays on the ATL 1 yard line and instead of using Barkley in a downhill fashion, they attempted a jet sweep with him that everyone and their grandma saw coming. Fail. Next up, a nice play-action design that gave Beckham enough room for Manning to get the ball to in the end zone but the 37 year old quarterback, who is showing the reaction speed of a senior citizen, didn’t get the ball out, resulting in an incomplete attempt to 3rd string tight end Scott Simonson in the end zone for the second straight week. Repeated mistakes week after week, a key sign to diagnosing a losing team.

After a lengthy 6 minute drive, ATL was heading towards another score but Jenkins stripped Julio Jones after a catch, causing a fumble that was recovered by Eli Apple.

NYG’s first play following the turnover was a 51 yard deep ball to Beckham. This catch put Beckham over 5,000 career yards, the quickest any WR has ever gotten to that mark since the merger. It also put him over 100 yards for the game, the 23rd time he has surpassed that mark, a new franchise record. Manning was within striking distance with momentum but two miscommunications between Manning and Shepard and Evan Engram resulted in NYG having to settle for another field goal attempt. Manning was visibly upset with those two and he let them hear it. The frustration was boiling over even for a guy that has made a career of not letting the emotional roller coaster of the game impact him.

The 4 point lead didn’t last long, as ATL put another field goal on the board at the start of the 4th quarter. After a 3 and out by NYG, ATL marched down the field as Matt Ryan was in the midst of connecting on his last 18 throws. ATL running back Tevin Coleman scored on a 30 yard touchdown run and NYG was in the familiar 2 score deficit towards the end of the game.

Only then did this offense start to show some life. ATL called off the blitz and stunt dogs, giving Manning some more time to work and it resulted in a strong finish. He was able to spread the ball out, chunk after chunk, which led to NYG’s first touchdown of the night with under 5 minutes left, a Barkley 2 yard run up the gut. Because of the analytics, Pat Shurmur went for 2. The nerds vs. old-school fans can debate this all day but in my opinion there was no right answer there. At the end of the day, this 1-5 team had nothing to lose. The play call was off because in that situation, it is Barkley or bust. Instead Shurmur put the ball into the passing game’s hands and Beckham dropped a ball in the end zone.

ATL had the ball with a 7 point lead and Ryan continued to torch the NYG defense. However not one, but two false start penalties aided a NYG stop near midfield with 2 minutes left. Instead of playing it safe and knowing kickers have superhuman powers against Big Blue, Tavecchio came out with a 56 yard field goal and he nailed it. ATL had a 10 point lead, NYG had no timeouts, and the 2 minute warning was in the rear view mirror.

It didn’t take long for NYG to get downfield via a perfect deep ball to Shepard for 58 yards. Even though a win was a long shot, NYG handled the final minute poorly. With a running clock, 1st down, and on the ATL 1 yard line, NYG tried 2 QB sneaks in a row. Both failed and with 10+ big men in a pile trying (or not trying) to get off each other, 40 valuable seconds came off the clock. Manning finally audibled and threw a desperation throw to Beckham in the end zone and he made an amazing catch which likely receives no credit because there were only 5 seconds left.

NYG failed to recover the onsides kick.

NYG loses 23-20.

QUARTERBACKS

-Eli Manning: 27/38 – 399 yards – 1 TD / 0 INT. A new season high in yards for Manning. On paper, it looks like Manning had a quality game. The pressure got into his head a few times, as the line continues to be leaky. However Manning missed an open Odell Beckham for a touchdown on a crucial 4th and goal play in the 3rd quarter. This is where the game almost appears too fast for Manning right now. He isn’t always mentally in it and for a QB that is heavy footed and slow to react, that could be a nail-in-the-coffin note. If he can’t win games with his head, the talent isn’t nearly good enough to make up for it. Manning made several big throws and he did get more aggressive as the game went on, so he clearly isn’t done yet as a thrower. But his reactions need to be more assertive. One extra note here; it seems like Manning is starting to get after his players more often. He went after Shepard, he went after Engram, and he was visibly frustrated by the delay in Beckham’s high-low concept route where he danced around too much when he should have darted for the rear pylon.

RUNNING BACKS

-Saquon Barkley: 14 att / 43 yards / 1 TD. 9 rec / 51 yards. Barkley also rushed for a successful 2 point conversion. The running game just couldn’t get off the ground. The offensive line was being pushed back repeatedly and the backside blockers couldn’t cut off their assigned defenders. There were three occasions where Barkley tried to bounce a run outside where he likely should have put his head down and kept going north. That is one part to his game that we will have to accept at times because of how dangerous he can be in space. That said, the decision when to do so needs to be more calculated.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Odell Beckham: 8 rec / 143 yards / 1 TD. Last week I spoke about Beckham as a route runner where he was dancing around contact too much. Monday night was a different story. Beckham was assertive, full of energy, and back to his play-making ways. A very impressive statistical night, Beckham should have had 2 more touchdowns. One, he mistimed his break and didn’t reach Manning’s pass in time. Two, Manning didn’t trust or react quickly enough on an exceptional goal line route. Beckham played hard, really hard. And when a couple things line up, this is who he can be every week. He did drop a ball on a 2 point conversion late in the game but otherwise it was a very clean performance.

-Sterling Shepard: 5 rec / 167 yards. By far a new career high for Shepard in total yards and yards per catch. He made plays on a long ball and a crossing route with plenty of yards after catch. Is it a coincidence that he has arguably his best game ever on a night where Beckham breaks out? No. The production from these two is correlated and it is something to keep in mind over the next 2 years, as both will be around.

-Newly acquired Bennie Fowler was quietly on the field for 55% of the plays. He hauled in one catch for 11 yards late in the game but he is going to get a shot to be what Latimer was supposed to be.

TIGHT ENDS

-Evan Engram: 2 rec / 16 yards – 1 att / 10 yards. It was the first game back for Engram since his MCL injury that forced him to miss 3+ games. He wasn’t a focal point of the offense, as he was only thrown the ball 4 times. For what it’s worth, he looked like he didn’t lose a step and I do expect him to get more looks in the coming weeks.

-Scott Simonson and Rhett Ellison played 11 and 32 snaps, respectively. Simonson got a look in the end zone on 4th and goal. Yes the third string tight end, but the ball was slightly deflected by ATL safety Demontae Kazee. Ellison brought in a couple catches and provided solid run blocking.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

-Nate Solder continues to be one of the worst signings not only by NYG, but of the entire 2018 NFL’s offseason. All teams. He allowed 2 pressures and 1 sack in addition to get tossed around like a rag doll in the running game. As I said last week, Solder has been hovering around the same game-by-game grade mark we saw out of Ereck Flowers last year. Yes, that Ereck Flowers. Not nearly what you want out of the highest paid left tackle in the NFL. Chad Wheeler, who also struggled, was at least more consistent. He has some plays where he looks like the undrafted free agent followed by a solid stretch where he looks like he can be the guy at RT if they need a bargain somewhere. He allowed 2 pressures.

GUARDS/CENTERS

-NYG made a move to get OG Patrick Omameh out of the starting lineup which was necessary. Center John Greco moved to RG and Spencer Pulley was put at OC. It didn’t work out very well because these two were most responsible for the lack of push in the running game. Both were exposed as poor lateral blockers and you can be sure WAS paid close attention to that. And they have one of the best DLs in the league.

-Rookie Will Hernandez mightily struggled in this one. The lack of lateral adjustment speed was exposed by Grady Jarrett a couple times, once resulting in a sack. He allowed another sack against Jack Crawford where he was late to see his outside shoulder action. Hernandez was getting jostled around as it looked like ATL zeroed in on trying to confuse him. Hopefully a learning experience for a rookie who has been solid this year.

EDGE

-In his second game back, Olivier Vernon was quiet statistically with just 2 tackles and 1 pressure but he was near the action on a few occasions when the NYG pass rush broke through. His presence has been a solid addition to the defense. Fellow starter Kareem Martin had an impactful first drive with 1 TFL and 1 pressure but was quiet afterward.

-Kerry Wynn played just a third of the snaps among the deep DL group. He did have a sack though. Lorenzo Carter recorded his 2nd sack of the season. I like what I am seeing out of him progression wise. For a guy who is speed-based, he has done a nice job of not only relying on that. A lot of times you will see young edge rushers simply run up the edge and a good tackle just ride them out of the pocket. Carter stayed low, engaged, and cut inside on his sack. A very nice play out of the 3rd round rookie.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Solid night out of the two young starters, Dalvin Tomlinson and BJ Hill. Hill recorded a TFL along with a season high 4 tackles, while Tomlinson added 4 of his own. Both were active in pursuit.

-Damon Harrison played under half of the team’s snaps against the pass-happy Falcons. He was solid as usual, but didn’t make any impact plays. If NYG truly is in sell-mode, I expect Harrison to garner attention from a handful of contenders struggling against the run.

-Josh Mauro and Mario Edwards saw a decent amount of action in their respective backup roles. Mauro finished with 1 TFL and Edwards had a sack nullified by an Eli Apple hold. Edwards has been impressive with his violent hands and ability to free himself of the blocker as a pass rusher. It will be interesting to see what he does with the rest of this year.

LINEBACKERS

-Alec Ogletree played a physical game and helped set the tone for a defense that, minus Tevin Coleman’s 4th quarter 30 yard touchdown run, shut down the run game. But the case continues to be repeated where he and his fellow linebackers could not defend the passing game in the middle of the field. There were several plays where they didn’t reach their depth and others where the reaction to underneath routes was a bit too late.

-The rest of the linebacker snaps were split between BJ Goodson, who continues to be overly-one dimensional, Nate Stupar, who is a favorite of the coaching staff but hasn’t made a noteworthy play yet, and rookie Tae Davis. Davis is interesting to me, as he stood out during preseason multiple times. He is young and fast, albeit slightly undersized. He made a couple of backside pursuit tackles that nobody else on this team at linebacker can make. With Ray-Ray Armstrong on IR (since waived), the rest of this year will be a nice tryout for Davis and his future.

CORNERBACKS

-Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple both had the opportunity to perform against Julio Jones, one of the handful of top tier receivers in the NFL. As expected, they had their ups and downs, but neither left the game leaving the NYG faithful feeling good. The one positive is Jones didn’t beat either one of them over the top. In addition, Jenkins forced a Jones fumble that was recovered by Apple in the 3rd quarter. On the flip side, Jenkins was burned for a 47 yard touchdown and Apple was flagged on a key 3rd down sack in the 3rd quarter. Apple was traded the next day to NO for a 4th round pick in 2019 and a 7th round pick in 2020.

-BW Webb, for a free agent that was signed to a cheap 1 year deal in March, has been a very solid nickel corner. He recorded a sack and was solid in underneath coverage.

SAFETIES

-We have discussed Landon Collins’ all-or-nothing approach a few times this year as his free agency looms closer and closer. Monday night was one of his better games we have seen. He made a few key tackles, showing great downhill speed and reaction. He also got into Matt Ryan’s face a couple times and recorded a TFL.

-The speedy, physical Curtis Riley continues to hurt and help this team play to play. He did make a key 3rd down stop late in the game, but the ATL passing game attacked him a few times in key situations and it worked out for them. Riley takes poor angles to the action and it is something opposing offenses are taking advantage of. Michael Thomas, who is known for special teams prowess, had one notable play. It was getting pump faked by Matt Ryan and Julio Jones which forced him into a deep pass interference. Even he knows he is over-matched in situations where he is matched up alone against quality WRs.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 2/2 (Made 31, 36).

-P Riley Dixon: 4 Punts / 40.8 avg / 40.8 net. He pinned ATL down inside the 5 early in the game and limited them to no returns throughout all four attempts.

-KR/PR Quandree Henderson impressed in his debut, averaging a NYG season high 14.5 yards on 2 punt returns.

3 STUDS

-WR Odell Beckham, WR Sterling Shepard, S Landon Collins

3 DUDS

-OT Nate Solder, OG Will Hernandez, CB Eli Apple

3 THOUGHTS ON ATL

-It’s hard to believe this team is 3-4 going into their bye week. There may not be a better WR core in the NFL, and pairing that with an established, top 10 QB in the NFL in this era of football should equate to more wins. Is their defense that bad? Personnel wise I don’t think so. But no team has blown more 4th quarter leads over the past year and a half and I think that Super Bowl let down a couple years ago is still lingering. If you don’t believe in a culture impacting wins and losses, I think you’re nuts. This team doesn’t know how to close games. They find ways to lose. This is why I wouldn’t root against a team simply for a higher draft pick. That stuff is hard to get over.

-Matt Ryan had a 3-4 year stretch where he was the most sacked QB in the NFL. 2013 was the low point. During that run, ATL drafted just 1 offensive lineman per year. Only one of those was in the first 3 rounds (LT Jake Matthews). Ryan’s sack and pressure numbers have gone down a lot. How else did they do it? Their running game improved via two draft picks (Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman) in addition to a solid WR core and an offensive system that asked less of the big boys up front. While I am all about getting new OL talent in for NYG, this team has several holes and it may not simply be that simple. This organization needs to think outside the box, something they have never done.

-One of my favorite players in the NFL who nobody talks about is DT Grady Jarrett. I remember scouting him in 2014 and wanting to put a high grade on him. The size numbers and inconsistent senior season bumped him down. But the talent I saw and he has made a big difference so far. He’s fought injuries but hasn’t missed a lot of games, so his production on paper looks average. The 2019 free agent is a guy I would look real hard at if I am looking for more interior pass rush.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-Last week I spoke about the possibility of trading off some of the few assets this roster has. Well, here we are and NYG is now down 2 starters via the market. CB Eli Apple was sent to NO for a 2019 4th round pick and a 2020 7th. DT Damon Harrison was sent to DET for a 2019 5th rounder. Keep in mind that expecting anything more was foolish. Harrison is a run defender in a passing league who is on the wrong side of 30 with just a year and a half left on his deal. Nobody liked him as a player more than me, but at this point you can’t expect more than that. Not everyone is Jerry Jones when it comes to trading picks. I like both trades because the only way this thing is getting back on track for the long term is via the draft. Get as many picks as possible especially if it means clearing up cap room and getting rid of players who won’t be here a two years from now.

-We are entering the part of the season where we will be watching young players “try out” for their future roster spots. Guys like LB Tae Davis, CB Grant Haley, OT Chad Wheeler, WR Jawill Davis, OC Evan Brown, OT Brian Mihalik…etc. While it will get ugly at times, these will be valuable film sessions to see if there is a diamond in the rough. Turning this thing around is not only about high draft picks and free agent signings… every good team has a few of these overlooked players who came from nothing and turned into something. Keep an eye on these players – it may peak some more interest than usual.

-Another thing to keep laser focus on is the coaching staff. While I know “1 and done” wouldn’t be typical of Mara and his handling of a coach, there is more blame and overall negativity surrounding ownership right now than possibly ever. It could force his hand into literally gutting the entire franchise. If Shurmur continues to under achieve, and I believe he has to this point, him getting the boot can certainly happen.

Oct 232018
 
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ATLANTA FALCONS 23 – NEW YORK GIANTS 20…
In a game that was not as close as the final score would suggest, the New York Giants fell to the Atlanta Falcons 23-20 on Monday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. With the defeat, the Giants overall record dropped to 1-6.

Once again, the Giants were done in by their inability to score sufficient points. Perhaps the most telling and decisive statistic of the game was that the Giants were 2-of-5 in red zone opportunities.

New York had four first-half offensive possessions. The first three ended with punts. The fourth was an 11-play, 77-yard drive that stalled at the Atlanta 9-yard line, and only resulted in a 31-yard field goal with four minutes to go before halftime.

Meanwhile, the Falcons also struggled to move the ball on their first three possessions, each ending with a punt. However, a quick, 3-play, 86-yard drive late in the 2nd quarter gave Atlanta a 7-0 advantage. The score came on a 47-yard pass from quarterback Matt Ryan to wide receiver Marvin Hall against cornerback Janoris Jenkins. The Falcons followed this up with a 6-play, 53-yard possession right before halftime that set up a successful 40-yard field goal.

At the half, the Falcons led 10-3.

The Giants opened the second half with a promising drive, as New York moved the ball from their own 25-yard line to the Falcons’ 1-yard line. However, on 3rd-and-goal, running back Saquon Barkley was stuffed. On 4th-and-goal, quarterback Eli Manning’s pass intended for tight end Scott Simonson fell incomplete. The Giants came away with no points.

The Falcons then moved the ball from the shadow of their own goal line to the New York 32-yard line. But then Jenkins forced a fumble that was recovered by cornerback Eli Apple at the 20-yard line. A 51-yard pass from Manning to wide receiver Odell Beckham helped to set up the Giants at the Falcons’ 18-yard line. But the Giants could get no closer after three straight incompletions by Manning. Place kicker Aldrick Rosas kicked a 36-yard field goal to cut the score to 10-6.

The Falcons responded with a 7-play, 43-yard drive that set up a successful 50-yard field goal and the Falcons were once again up by seven points early in the 4th quarter. After the Giants went three-and-out, the  Falcons drove the ball 65 yards in nine plays, culminating with a 30-yard touchdown run by running back Tevin Coleman. The Falcons now led 20-6 midway through the final period.

As has been the Giants’ modus operandi this season, the Giants scored a touchdown when the game was all but officially over. New York drove the ball 78 yards in nine plays, finishing with a 2-yard touchdown run by Barkley. Oddly, Head Coach Pat Shurmur decided to go for a 2-point conversion that failed. The Giants trailed 20-12 with less than five minutes to play.

The Giants’ defense could not force a quick three-and-out as Atlanta gained 37 yards in eight plays. Worse, the Falcons converted on a risky 56-yard field goal attempt. Atlanta now had a two-score advantage at 23-12 with less than two minutes to play.

Again, with the game all but over, New York scored a touchdown. But they wasted valuable time with two back-to-back quarterback sneaks at the 1-yard line. The final score – a Manning to Beckham touchdown pass – came with only five seconds left in the game. The 2-point conversion attempt succeeded. The game ended after the ensuing failed onside kick attempt.

Offensively, Manning finished the game 27-of-38 for 399 yards, 1 touchdown, and no interceptions. His leading targets were Barkley (9 catches for 51 yards), Beckham (8 catches for 143 yards and 1 touchdown), and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (5 catches for 167 yards). Barkley was limited to 43 rushing yards on 14 attempts.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 423 total net yards (67 rushing and 356 passing). The Giants did sack Ryan three times, with one sack each by linebacker Lorenzo Carter, defensive end Kerry Wynn, and cornerback B.W. Webb. The Giants forced one turnover, the fumble recovery by Apple caused by Jenkins.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were right guard Patrick Omameh (knee), wide receiver Russell Shepard (neck), wide receiver Jawill Davis (concussion), quarterback Kyle Lauletta, defensive tackle John Jenkins, cornerback Mike Jordan, and safety Kamrin Moore.

Cornerback Eli Apple injured his ankle, but returned to the game.

ROSTER MOVES…
On Sunday, the New York Giants signed wide receiver Quadree Henderson to the 53-man roster from the team’s Practice Squad. To make room for Henderson, the team waived tight end Garrett Dickerson. The 5’8”, 192-pound Henderson was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. The Steelers waived him before the season started. Henderson has experience as a returner.

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

  • Head Coach Pat Shurmur (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (Video)
  • WR Odell Beckham, Jr. (Video)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (Video)
  • TE Evan Engram (Video)
  • CB Janoris Jenkins (Video)

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur will address the media by conference call on Tuesday.