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Darius Slayton, New York Giants (December 9, 2019)

Darius Slayton – © USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles 23 – New York Giants 17 (OT)

QUICK RECAP

The NFC East has been abysmal in 2019 and it is surely a fair statement to label it the worst division in football. As week 14 was just one game on the NFL schedule away from being complete, not one team in the division had a winning record. DAL was in first place with a 6-7 record and PHI, with a win over the 2-10 NYG, would get to the same point. They would have to do so against Eli Manning, in for the rookie Daniel Jones because of a high ankle sprain. That fact alone actually created some hype for this game as NYG fans needed something to stimulate them after watching such poor football week after week for what seems to be the 100th year in a row. Manning confirmed in interviews leading up to the game he had no interest in being a backup and even less interest in being a coach. This was his best shot at a true showcase of his current abilities, making this his Super Bowl on a Monday Night. And we all know how he has played in those situations.

The night started off quietly for both offenses, as a total of 0 points were produced over the first five drives that took up the entire first quarter. PHI entered the game with just three wide receivers on the active game-day roster and their main leading rusher, Jordan Howard, was sidelined with a shoulder injury. NYG opened the 2nd quarter with a 3rd-and-13 from the PHI 35-yard line. Manning hit rookie Darius Slayton on a quick slant that was short of the first down marker, but a broken tackle and burst that outran the rest of the PHI secondary resulted in the first score of the night.

PHI, now without Alshon Jeffery because of a non-contact foot injury, started to finally create their own offense on the next drive. Even though Carson Wentz continued to look sloppy as he has all year, he was able to take advantage of broken NYG coverages to connect with tight end Zach Ertz for a combined 54 yards on two plays. NYG escaped a PHI touchdown on the next play thanks to a phantom holding call on PHI right guard Brandon Brooks and held them to a field goal.

The NYG offense was starting to click consistently and in multiple ways. Manning hit Slayton with an on-the-money deep ball for a 42-yard gain and Saquon Barkley was running as hard and efficiently as we have seen all season. While they shot themselves in the foot with a fumbled snap (that Barkley recovered), Aldrick Rosas re-lengthened their lead to 10-3 with a 34-yard field goal. Three straight 3-and-outs by both offenses put the ball back in NYG’s hands with under 2 minutes left starting at their own 16-yard line.

These next few plays would be the highlight of the night and maybe one of the top moments of the season for NYG. Barkley gained 15 yards on 2 carries and then Manning hit Slayton for 12 yards to bring the ball near midfield. On 3rd-and-8, Manning dropped back and lofted up one of his infamous deep balls to the young speedster Slayton, who got behind the PHI secondary. The throw was on the money yet again and it resulted in a simple, easy looking 55-yard touchdown to give the Giants a 17-3 lead as halftime was a short moment away. Manning, whose first NFL action was in this stadium back in 2004, was running downfield pumping his fists and enjoying successful football. Nothing on this night could hide the fact this team is an NFL bottom feeder over the past 5 years and this may be the worst NYG team ever. Nevertheless, it was a pleasant distraction to see Eli, host of a 10-20 record against PHI lifetime, celebrate on their turf while the Eagles were losing a game by 14 at home in a game they absolutely had to have.

NYG started the second half with the ball after nearly doubling PHI in total yards and winning the turnover battle. It was almost, quite literally, the complete opposite of what we have seen all year. We forgot what this actually felt like but something in the air suggested this wouldn’t last more than 2 quarters and that instinct was about to be proven right.

The two offenses traded short, 3-4 play drives, 5 times combined to be exact. PHI was dealing with a depleted receiver corps and NYG’s former high flying and efficient offense literally just stopped. The offensive line started to fall apart and they couldn’t get the ball to Barkley in space or Slayton, anywhere. PHI running back Miles Sanders had to leave the game with cramps and in walked Boston Scott, a 5’6”, 203-pound, 2nd-year, undrafted back with 94 career rushing yards along with 1 career catch. He was a key cog on the first PHI touchdown scoring drive that rounded out the 3rd quarter as he dashed into the end zone on a 2-yard run. NYG led 17-10 as the 4th quarter began, but after a quick possession, the ball was back in PHI’s hands.

Thanks to another 38 yards on four touches, Scott helped the PHI offense enter NYG territory. The Giants were missing tackles, blowing assignments on tight ends in coverage, and just not getting it done when rushing the passer. Thanks to a drop in the end zone by Greg Ward, PHI lined up for a 47-yard field goal but Jake Elliot pulled it left. Always nice to see him miss a field goal against NYG because that 61-yard game winner from 2017 still stings.

This was the kind of a game where having a top tier NFL running back should make winning borderline easy, if not completely so. The Giants had a touchdown-lead in the fourth quarter with under 10 minutes to play. NYG opted to call three straight pass plays. The first resulted was a sack, the second resulted in a 7-yard completion, the third resulted in an attempted flea flicker that had potential downfield. But Nate Solder couldn’t hold his block for more than 2 seconds, which forced Eli to quickly give the ball back to Barkley, who had just took the handoff and tossed it back to Manning. Play that out in your head. The play resulted in a 1-yard loss and NYG punted the ball back after taking a whopping 1:30 came off of the game clock. Pathetic.

The Eagles, not so coincidentally, went on to a 6+ minute, 14-play drive. Cornerback Sam Beal was flagged twice on 3rd down. PHI lost yet another wide receiver leaving them with just one and NYG couldn’t cover Ertz. This resulted in a game-tying touchdown pass to him, making it 17-17 with under 2 minutes. If this wasn’t a set up for one last Eli Manning career highlight, I’m not sure what was.

The Giants then went 3-and-out.

This was their 6th possession of the second half. It was their fourth 3rd-and-out and the other possessions resulted in 4 plays each, one first down each. It was a disgraceful second half performance.

PHI opted to try and use the last 1:25 of the game to go for the win. After all, they had completely dominated NYG after their adjustments were filed at halftime. They were left 1 yard short of the first down at their own 36-yard line with 45 seconds left. There was a moment of indecision: would PHI risk going for it or just punt it back to NYG and hope for overtime? Pat Shurmur didn’t realize the game was in is hands at this point. He stood there, waiting to see what PHI would do. He was unsure, unprepared, unable. 30 precious seconds ticked off and then he opted to use a timeout with 19 seconds on the clock. What a complete waste and clear sign of ineptitude.

The game went into overtime and there wasn’t a person in the stadium or at home who believed NYG would win this. After all, it had been over 30 minutes of game clock since NYG was remotely competitive. PHI needed just two plays, mainly thanks to a 25-yard run by the Darren Sproles clone with the first name Boston playing against New York. PHI slowly but surely inched their way up to the NYG 2-yard line. They were still without all but one undrafted wide receiver, but Wentz dropped back and found Ertz, the number one target, wide open and all alone in the back of the end zone for the game winning touchdown.

Giants lose 23-17.

QUARTERBACK

-Eli Manning: 15/30 – 203 yards – 2 TD / 0 INT / 94.2 QBR. Take a look at those stats and also take in that in the first half, Manning was 11/19 – 179 yards – 2 TD / 0 INT / 124.7 QBR. So for those who don’t want to do the math, he was 4/11 – 24 yards – 0 TD in the second half despite having 6 possessions. The way this game started was exactly what I was expecting to see. Manning coming out hot and on fire with a couple of lethal downfield “dimes”. Manning has a lot of pride, but it is not unreasonable to suggest that he has been a casualty of a disastrous organization the past 8 seasons. While his performance was far from flawless, he played a solid game. However, once the offensive line fell apart, it was more of the same that he has dealt with in the past. Do I think Manning can win with a good offensive line and strong supporting cast? Absolutely. He can still make the throws and he knows the game as well as anyone mentally.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 17 att / 66 yards – 3 rec / 1 yard. For such an unimpressive stat line, I came away from this game as encouraged as I have all year about Barkley. This was the hardest we have seen him run all year (despite being taken down for a 3-yard loss on his first carry). It was just a slight sigh of relief to see him live up to his abilities again. Barkley looked healthy and strong. Not calling any plays designed for him on two straight fourth quarter drives was just maddening because he was clearly playing better, and remember, YOU USED THE SECOND PICK OF THE DRAFT ON HIM!

WIDE RECEIVER

-Darius Slayton: 5 rec / 154 yards / 2 TD. All of that production was in the first half. This kid continues to make big, big plays despite the fact that the PHI secondary was bracketing him. His first touchdown was the result of a broken tackle in space, something we have seen several times now. The second was pure speed and excellent ball tracking, something we discussed about him around draft time. Slayton is really showing something this season and if I had to pick one bright spot in regard to the young players on this team, it is him. If he can shore up some little things, which I think he will, we could be looking at not just a good, but a VERY good WR. His production when considering playing time and targets is right up there with the best rookies in the class.

-Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate combined for 5 rec / 39 yards. Very underwhelming performance from two guys who this team really needed in their dismal second half.

TIGHT END

-Kaden Smith had 2 catches for 9 yards but also dropped 2 passes and allowed a TFL. He took a step backwards in this one after opening some eyes at how well he stepped in for Rhett Ellison. Scott Simonson was a non-factor and was flagged for a false start.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-In the past two years, Nate Solder has been responsible for more losses than any other player on this team. In the ultimate team game maybe that doesn’t mean much, but it does to me. What a weakness he has truly become to this entire team! He was decent in the first half (and NYG dominated) but then his true form came out in the second half where he allowed 2 sacks and 3 pressures. The Giants only threw the ball 11 times! Almost one half of the passes were impacted by his poor play. If he could have held on to his man 2 seconds longer on the flea flicker, that would have likely been a score. Just an awful, awful performance and it’s getting old writing about his poor play.

-Mike Remmers, Will Hernandez, and Kevin Zeitler all graded out above average. Remmers allowed 1 pressure. Zeitler went down with a foot injury late and it will be interesting to see if the team trots him out there in the coming weeks.

-Based on the subpar standard he sets, Jon Halapio played an OK game. However, “OK” still grades out as below average. He allowed a pressure and was flagged for a holding penalty on Barkley’s longest run of the night.

EDGE

-Really solid game from Markus Golden, maybe his best of the year. He had 4 pressures and a sack to go with 2 tackles. His run defense left a bit to be desired but this was a very solid performance for the pending free agent.

-Oshane Ximines had 2 sacks. Those were the only 2 impacts he made all night but it was a good job by him taking advantage of his limited opportunities, as he played under a third of the snaps. His lack of ability to defend the run appeared twice when he was washed out by blockers coming down from his outside shoulder, which we have seen a few times this year. However, he may have passed Lorenzo Carter on the depth chart. Carter finished with just tackle and at this point, simply just looks like a run-and-chase kind of player.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

-Dalvin Tomlinson is playing the best football of his 3-year career, during the same timeframe the Giants added Leonard Williams. More on that later. He had 5 tackles, 4 pressures, and a forced fumble. This PHI interior offensive line is one of the best in football and he was winning one-on-one match-ups repeatedly.

-Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams were both impactful in very different ways. Williams started the game on fire and finished with 5 tackles, 1 TFL, and 2 pressures. He had a bonehead personal-foul penalty on a late, dirty hit to Wentz’s sternum after a pass. Lawrence had 3 tackles, 1 PD, and 1 pressure but was more disruptive than that when it came to eating blockers and taking up space.

LINEBACKERS

-Alec Ogletree finished with 9 tackles and a pressure while David Mayo added 5 tackles and recovered the fumble on Wentz’s failed 4th-and-1 QB sneak in the first half. They did a fine job overall but they had a hard time locating and filling the lanes when Boston Scott got involved.

CORNERBACK

-Have to be happy about the play of Deandre Baker albeit against a depleted wide receiver group for PHI in a game where Wentz was fleeing pressure for most of the night. He had 3 pass break ups and seemed to be very comfortable in his assignments on all levels of the defense.

-Sam Beal was this weeks whipping boy in the secondary. Corey Ballentine a few weeks ago, Grant Haley last week, Beal this week. He wasn’t targeted a lot but when he was, twice on 3rd down, he was flagged. He simply didn’t trust his footwork and recovery speed, thus got way too grabby. I am surprised they didn’t attack him more often when the game clock was dwindling. How Beal responds will be important for his future on this team.

-Janoris Jenkins played some physical football in this one. He finished with 6 tackles and a pass break up. He really stuck his head in there a few times. Props to him for adjusting his style as the players he had to cover were tight ends more so than receivers.

SAFETY

-Antoine Bethea played solid football for the second week in a row. He led the team with 13 tackles, including 1 for a loss and also broke up a pass. Fortunately for him, Greg Ward dropped a touchdown pass that would have been on him, but overall Bethea deserves credit. He stepped up hard and made two impressive tackles against a downhill running back. Nice job for a guy who lacks size.

-Julian Love continues to flash but he missed two tackles and they both stood out. He finished with an impressive 6 tackles and 1 for a loss and also showed impressive coverage. He has impressive footwork and you can see signs of his former cornerback skills.

-Michael Thomas, who played just under a third of the defensive snaps, was roasted in coverage on a couple of occasions. The standout play was the final one of the game where a miscommunication appeared to be culprit but Thomas looked to be at fault. He let the one guy you think PHI would target in key moments roam free in the end zone.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 1/1 (Made 34)

-P Riley Dixon: 9 Punts / 46.1 avg / 43.6 net. That is a REALLY good game for Dixon.

3 STUDS

-WR Darius Slayton, EDGE Markus Golden, DT Dalvin Tomlinson

3 DUDS

-OT Nate Solder, CB Sam Beal, EDGE Lorenzo Carter

3 THOUGHTS ON PHI

  1. If I am PHI, I’m not getting very excited about this win and/or this team. They aren’t good, they haven’t been good all year, and the injuries are really starting to pile up. They may sneak in to the playoffs but they aren’t going anywhere. A good offense can march up and down the field with ease against them and their pass catchers are among the worst in football.
  1. What is Carson Wentz? We are in year 4 now and he looks even worse than what he showed as a rookie in 2016 after two strong seasons in between. I have to think the issues here are correctable because he has shown too many positives in the past. But it goes to show you that it is amazing how bad a QB can look when the pass catchers aren’t there and the offensive line takes a step back.
  1. Doug Pederson embarrassed the NYG coaching staff on Monday night and I am kind of glad it happened on national TV. His back and forth “punt or go for it” took advantage of Pat Shurmur and his usage of useful timeouts was just the start. The entire second half, NYG looked like they had no idea how to adjust their plan once PHI altered their approach. This is a partial dig at Shurmur, but I respect Pederson a lot and his awareness of game situations on a weekly basis is what every team needs, but most do not have.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  1. The Giants seemed all but locked into the #2 spot in the draft, potentially #1 or #3. I think the need for a pass rusher, a true difference maker on defense, paired with the belief that DE Chase Young is going to be there makes this approach to the offseason rather simple from a big picture perspective. The Giants need to improve in the trenches, and Young seems like the obvious choice if NYG can find a new left tackle in free agency. And I don’t care how much it costs. My early favorite: Trent Williams.
  1. The emergence of Dalvin Tomlinson over the past month-plus needs to be talked about. He has another year on his rookie deal. But how the NYG approach his situation should be impacted by whether or not they will re-sign Leonard Williams,who could cost $12+ million per year. Big picture, Tomlinson will be cheaper. But the question needs to be asked, is he playing this well because Williams is next to him or did the light go on for Tomlinson? A lot of film analysis will have to go into that but my initial thought is Tomlinson is a guy you want to keep around no matter what scheme you implement.
  1. I am indifferent on whether or not I want to see Eli Manning play the rest of the year. It doesn’t seem like Jones’ ankle injury is serious enough to shelf him for the rest of the year but there is no point in pushing him through any kind of injury. We have enough to work with moving forward and his platform is set. If Manning does play in front of the NYG crowd, I think, out of whoever actually shows up, the NYG fans need to show respect and keep the booing to a minimum.
Dec 102019
 
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PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 23 – NEW YORK GIANTS 17 (OT)…
The New York Giants are officially a (expletive deleted) train wreck. The Giants lost their franchise-record ninth game in a row, and sixth straight to the the Philadelphia Eagles, falling 23-17 in overtime on Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Giants blew a 17-3 halftime lead, not scoring a single point in the second half of the contest. The Giants are now 2-11 on the season.

It was a game of two halves with the Giants scoring 17 points on three of their six first-half drives. After starting the game with two punts, New York took a 7-0 lead on the first play of the 2nd quarter when quarterback Eli Manning found wide receiver Darius Slayton for a 35-yard catch-and-run on 3rd-and-13. The Eagles cut the score to 7-3 on the ensuing drive with a 34-yard field goal after a 9-play, 59-yard drive. The Giants extended their advantage back to a touchdown on their very next possession with a 34-yard field goal of their own after an identical 9-play, 59-yard drive.

After two punts by the Eagles and one by the Giants, New York got the ball back with 1:46 left before halftime. On 3rd-and-8 from their own 45-yard line with 35 seconds left, Manning hit Slayton deep for a 55-yard touchdown pass.

At the half, the Giants looked very much in control, 17-3. The Eagles had been held to five first downs and 116 total net yards in the first half. Of Philadelphia’s seven first-half possession, five had ended with punts and one with a turnover.

The second half was obviously a disaster for the Giants. Aside from the kneel down on the last play in regulation, the Giants punted all six times they had the ball, gaining only two first downs and 30 yards.

While the defense forced two more Philadelphia punts to start the second half, they eventually wore down, giving up drives of 58 yards (touchdown), 58 yards (missed field goal), and 85 yards (touchdown). The Eagles tied the game at 17-17 with less than two minutes to play. The Giants’ sixth drive of the second half then ended with their sixth punt.

Philadelphia won the overtime toss and predictably and easily drove 75 yards in eight plays for the game-winning touchdown.

Offensively, the Giants only gained 11 first downs and 255 total net yards. The Giants were 2-of-12 (17 percent) on 3rd down. The Giants’ offense only held the ball for 22 minutes. Manning was 15-of-30 for 203 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. His leading receiver was Slayton who caught five passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns, but he did not have a second-half reception. Running back Saquon Barkley had 17 carries for 66 yards.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 27 first downs and 418 total net yards (118 rushing, 300 passing) despite the Eagles suffering a number of game-ending injuries to key personnel. Linebackers Oshane Ximines (twice) and Markus Golden were credited with sacks. Defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson forced a fumble on 4th-and-1 that was recovered by linebacker David Mayo.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVES AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the game were QB Daniel Jones (ankle), TE Evan Engram (foot), TE Rhett Ellison (concussion), CB Corey Ballentine (concussion), RB Wayne Gallman, OT/OG Chad Slade, and OT Eric Smith.

RG Kevin Zeitler left the game with a lower body injury, having to be carted off to the locker room. He was spotted wearing a boot on his right foot with crutches after the game.

GIANTS RE-SIGN RILEY DIXON…
The Giants announced on Sunday that they have re-signed punter Riley Dixon to a 3-year contract extension. Dixon was set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Dixon was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Broncos. He was named to the All-Rookie team. The Giants traded with the Denver Broncos for Dixon in April 2018, giving the Broncos a conditional 7th-round draft pick. He had a solid inaugural year for the Giants, finishing 7th in net punting in the NFL (41.8 yards per punt) and 11th in gross punting (45.4 yards per punt). This year, Dixon is currently 5th in net punting (42.8) and 6th in gross punting (47.0).

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)

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

Dec 072019
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 15, 2019)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, December 9, 2019

THE STORYLINE

It’s easy to become disillusioned with the New York Giants right now. As fans of a sport with a long offseason, we look forward to each new season with great anticipation. But because each of the last three seasons has been effectively over by October, fans who once anxiously pined for the season to start now can’t wait until it’s over. Strange and sad.

When Eli Manning was benched after Week 2, I wondered if we would ever hear from him in an official capacity as a New York Giant again. With him as the #2 QB, there would be no reason for Pat Hanlon to designate him as one of the players to address the media during the week. There would be no reason to do a post-game interview. And a January presser for a player not retiring and headed towards free agency may not have been likely. In other words, I’m not sure Giants fans fully realized that they may have seen and heard the last of Eli as a member of the team. There would be no official send-off or goodbye.

Regardless of your feelings about the state of team management and the coaching staff, the decision to bench Eli was the correct one. Manning and the Giants were 0-2 at the time. It was quickly becoming clear that the same issues with the defense and on the offense line were not going to allow the team to compete in 2019. Playing Manning, who would not be with the team in 2020, and sitting the #6 player selected in the draft made no sense. With each mounting loss, much fan venom was being targeted at Manning. For once, the Giants didn’t wait too long and expeditiously made the right move. They moved onto Daniel Jones.

Jones won his first two games. The Giants evened their record at 2-2. Giants fans were in a great mood. But the defense continued to remain one of the worst in the league. The offensive line was not opening holes in the ground game and, like Manning, Jones was afforded little time to throw the ball and was getting hit far too much. Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard, and Golden Tate all missed time. The Giants went winless in their next eight games (literally half the season). Almost too predictably, Jones got hurt in the last game. It’s currently unknown if he will play again this season.

Analytically speaking, Jones missing 1-4 of the season’s remaining games is not good. The more he plays, the better prepared he will be for 2020. But in a twist of fate, Giants fans have now been presented with a second chance to fully understand they are really saying good-bye to Eli Manning. Perhaps for just one more game, but no more than four in total. When Eli Manning walked off of the field against the Buffalo Bills on September 15th (game pictured above), none of us knew at the time that was likely his last game as a New York Giant. Now we know.

Regardless of how you feel about Eli Manning, he is the franchise’s greatest quarterback. He holds every major team record. It’s not even close. He’s thrown for 22,000 more yards and 163 more touchdowns than Phil Simms. Charlie Conerly, Kerry Collins, Fran Tarkenton, and Y.A. Tittle pale in comparison. Most importantly, Manning was 8-4 in the playoffs, and responsible for one-quarter of the franchise’s eight NFL titles.

The rub with Eli’s career is if you take away his two 4-0 playoff runs, other than longevity which led to stat accumulation, his career doesn’t seem very impressive. But… but… but… you CAN’T take away those two playoff runs. He played an incredibly efficient game against the #1 defense in the NFL in Tampa Bay with two TDs and a 117.1 QBR rating. His 46-second TD drive before halftime against Dallas completely changed the game around. The greatest game of his career may have been his performance in -23 degree temperatures in the NFC Championship. He drove the Giants to two 4th-quarter, Super Bowl touchdowns against what was regarded as the best team and coach in NFL history and was on the front end of a play that is widely regarded as the greatest play in the history of the game. During the 2007 playoffs, Manning ended up 72-of-119 (60.5 percent) for 854 yards with six touchdowns and one interception. And he was awarded his first Super Bowl MVP trophy. Who wasn’t? Tony Romo, Brett Favre, and Tom Brady.

Fast forward four years. The only reason the Giants were in the playoffs that season was Eli Manning. The Giants had no defense or ground game that year until the playoff run. In his greatest season of his career, six of the team’s nine regular-season wins were 4th-quarter comeback wins. With the season on the line, Manning swept the Cowboys in the last month. Two more 4th-quarter comebacks came in the playoffs. That’s eight of the team’s 13 wins. Against the Falcons, Manning threw three touchdowns and finished with a 129.3 QBR. He then threw three more touchdowns, and had a 114.5 QBR, out-dueling league MVP Aaron Rodgers and the 15-1 Packers. Most quarterbacks would have folded with the beating he took in the NFC Championship Game, and his 17-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-15 to Mario Manningham was one of the greatest throws of his career. Perhaps his greatest throw came in the very next game, again with Manningham being the target. With the Giants trailing the Patriots late in the 4th quarter, Manning threw one of the greatest pinpoint passes in the history of the game in the tensest of situations, moving the ball from their own 12 to midfield. Eli finished the 2011 playoffs 106-of-163 (65 percent) for 1,219 yards with nine touchdowns and one interception. And he was awarded his second Super Bowl MVP trophy. Wearing sad faces were Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith, and Tom Brady again.

If there was a Mount Rushmore of New York Giants, Eli Manning would be on it. And if you told any Giants fan in April 2004 that Manning would go onto win two Super Bowls, they would have danced up and down with glee. Beyond that, he’s been the model teammate and citizen on and off of the field. Whether or not you think he is overrated, or if you believe the franchise botched the second half of his career by not surrounding him with even an average team, do not lose sight of the fact that he is a New York Giants legend.

Win or lose on Monday night, you are about to see him play for the New York Giants for possibly the last time. Appreciate the moment.

THE INJURY REPORT

  • QB Daniel Jones (ankle – out)
  • WR Golden Tate (concussion)
  • TE Evan Engram (foot – out)
  • TE Rhett Ellison (concussion – out)
  • LT Nate Solder (ankle)
  • LB Chris Peace (knee – out/Injured Reserve)
  • CB Corey Ballentine (concussion – out)
  • S Jabrill Peppers (back – out/Injured Reserve)

THE FINAL WORD

Thank you Eli. We’re proud of you.

Dec 032019
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (December 1, 2019)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

Green Bay Packers 31 – New York Giants 13

QUICK RECAP

Two teams with new looks. Two teams with historical significance. Two teams that come from cold weather cities meeting in December with snow coming down hard. This had the look of a classic “Winter is Coming” NFL game that should have been as entertaining as any game on the NFL schedule. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers came to town to take on the hapless Giants trying to find their way as the last quarter of the season was in sight. After a 7-1 start, GB lost 2 of 3 as their defense started to falter and the lack of depth at receiver behind the injured Devante Adams finally caught up. They needed a game to right the ship, what better place to do it than New York? As Aaron Rodgers said in regard to NYG, “…they’ve been struggling”…if he only knew.

The Giants’ first possession ended with a 3 yard loss by Saquon Barkley on a 3rd-and-1 rushing attempt up the middle where he was hit by a defender within a half second of getting the ball. For those keeping score at home, we have now seen that exact play 1,000 times this season. GB responded with a 7-play, 72-yard touchdown scoring drive that ended with a Rodgers-to-Adams completion in the end zone at the hands of safety Antoine Bethea.

With the snow coming down hard and kicker Aldrick Rosas sitting on the struggle bus in addition to a new long snapper in place of the injured Zak DeOssie, Pat Shurmur opted to go for it on 4th-and-5 from the GB 33-yard line and they converted. Three plays later, on 3rd-and-3 from the GB 18, Jones hit Sterling Shepard downfield for a touchdown. It was a big-time, elite-level throw with pressure bearing down on him and a lot of traffic left and right. The game was tied up 7-7.

That tie lasted just a few plays, as Rodgers knew it would be an easy day with the terrible NYG secondary trying to gain their footing on a slippery surface. He hit Allen Lazard for a 37-yard score on a double route that left absolutely no hope for Antoine Bethea to recover from. It was 14-7 and it just seemed that GB would score when they wanted to.

Daniel Jones threw an interception on the next drive and it set up GB kicker Mason Crosby for an impressive, easy-looking 47-yard field goal in the snow that was still coming down hard. With the score at 17-7 GB, the Giants put together the most time-consuming drive of the game and their most time-consuming drive of the season. An 18-play, 66-yard drive ended in a successful 27-yard field goal by Rosas. NYG converted 2-of-4 3rd downs and both 4th down attempts as the old Saquon Barkley started to re-appear and Jones showed his toughness and ability to hit the tight window throws with an unstable base. They brought a 17-10 deficit into halftime.

After forcing a GB punt on the opening possession of the second half, the Giants were able to put another 3 points on the board via a 45-yard field goal by Rosas. Momentum was on their side and the defense needed to step on the throat of Rodgers and company. This is where the lack of pass rush and lack of cover-ability combined just absolutely kills the Giants defense. Rodgers, quite easily and simply, marched downfield on a 14-play drive to put another touchdown on the board. This score was a 17 yard pass to Adams even with multiple NYG defenders in the area; it seemed nobody had a shot at breaking it up. It looked like a couple dads playing against a bunch of 5-year olds.

The next two NYG possessions ended with Jones second and third interceptions, respectively. In between, Rodgers threw his 4th touchdown of the day to blocking tight end Marcedes Lewis. The score was 31-13 and even though NYG put together a couple of nice plays in their final possession against the GB prevent defense, it wasn’t even worth watching. The stadium agreed, as it was maybe 10% full at the end with most of them being the faithful Packers fans.

Giants lose, 31-13.

QUARTERBACKS

-Daniel Jones: 20/37 – 240 yards – 1 TD / 3 INT / 49.4 QBR. Jones also added 6 yards on 5 carries. He converted two 4th down rushing attempts that required some grit and power. This was the lowest QB rating we have seen out of Jones other than the Thursday night game in NE. His 3 interceptions were all very poor throws and while one can blame the weather, let’s not use that as a crutch. Good quarterbacks play very well in the snow and this was not a full on blizzard. The foot traction wasn’t that bad and there wasn’t much wind. While Jones did deal with pressure all afternoon and he was limping around a bit, this was a poor performance. The positive side of things revolve around two big time throws. His touchdown pass to Shepard was on the money with pressure bearing down on him from all angles. He also threw a great seam pass on 3rd-and-12 to Cody Latimer. It was one of those Sundays that can be labeled a “Rookie Sunday” for Jones.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 19 att / 83 yards – 3 rec / 32 yards. I was desperately hoping to see at least some improvement come from Barkley and I’m not just talking about the production. I wanted to see him run harder, push some piles, break some tackles, fall forward. He did all of those things and we saw a couple flashes of the big play ability we know he has. It wasn’t enough to call him and running game “back”, but I took his play as a positive. He had several blocking assignments and he did well for the most part. He got away with a blatant hold and did allow a pressure. Hopefully this is one of many steps in the right direction.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Sterling Shepard: 3 rec / 40 yards / 1 TD. In his second game back, Shepard caught three passes including the lone Giants’ touchdown. He looked quick and crisp as a route runner and I wish they could have gotten him the ball more often. His style of play usually produces well in conditions like what they played in.

-Darius Slayton: 6 rec / 44 yards. Slayton is proving more and more to be a guy who can pose as a threat both underneath and deep. I did notice that the GB corners were really physical with him at certain points and it impacted how he came off of the ball later in the game. The third interception where Slayton was targeted down the left sideline was a direct result of his hesitation and slowness off of the line. Still a lot to be happy about with the speedster.

TIGHT END

-Kaden Smith: 6 rec / 70 yards. Pretty busy day for the in-season pick up. Smith is making the best of a bad situation in New York but I wouldn’t get overly excited here in terms of being a long-term, every-down guy. He is a quality blocker with a significant lack of foot speed. I do like him as the underneath check-down or short-area target as his size and soft hands can make him reliable.

-Scott Simonson played about a third of the snaps Smith did and struggled as a blocker. He allowed a pressure and a TFL.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Nate Solder continues to be a turnstile and I just can’t see any reason for hope that he is going to turn it around. He allowed 5 pressures (the GB offensive line had a total of 2) and it looks like we are now seeing this really impact Jones as he drops back. There is a natural sense of over-urgency from Jones at times and he has a natural gravitation to the right side almost as if he is anticipating having to escape from the pass rusher behind him. This is what ruins young QBs.

-Mike Remmers and Will Hernandez were better, but not by much. Remmers allowed 2 pressures and was responsible for a TFL. He did make a couple things happen on two of Barkley’s bigger gains though and at least we see grit from him. Hernandez allowed the big TFL on the first drive and a pressure a couple drives later. His play leveled out from there on and he ended up with an average grade. Kevin Zeitler was solid but lacked movement at the point-of-attack.

-Jon Halapio, like Solder, continues to show he just can’t get the job done. I watch a lot of NFL football throughout the week and I can’t give you 3 names that are worse than him at center. He allowed 3 pressures and was pushed around all day. He just doesn’t move his feet, can’t stay in front of his man, and the amount of times he gets driven back off the ball multiple yards on running plays is completely embarrassing. This guy needs to be as far away from NYG in 2020 as possible.

EDGE

-Just an awful day from the pass rush department and that starts with the edge guys. Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter each had a pressure but were awfully quiet otherwise. Golden did get in on 8 tackles, which sounds like a lot, but he was the beneficiary of the defensive line doing their job and action being funneled his way. Carter looks like he just can’t get the job done unless he beats a blocker off the edge. With the somewhat slow track, it was imperative for the pass rushers to win in small windows with their quickness, hand-work, and power. Carter didn’t have any of those weapons working for him.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

-One of the better rushing attacks in the NFL when Aaron Jones runs the ball was shut down for the most part. Jones averaged a season low 1.8 yards per carry and Dexter Lawrence was the main reason. He finished with 3 tackles but did an outstanding job funneling runs to other NYG defenders. Leonard Williams also finished with 3 tackles, one of which was for a loss, and a pressure.

-Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill were solid as well. They combined for 5 tackles and we saw an uptick in playing time for Hill. Both are very solid and reliable against the run but neither have a prayer when it comes to the pass rush on a play-to-play basis.

LINEBACKER

-Alec Ogletree led the team in tackles once again, this week with 9. These next few weeks are important for him in my eyes. We have seen how much better he is than the back-ups when he was out with his lower body injuries, but his limitations in space, most notably in coverage, are well documented. More of the same with him in this game. He is limited as an every-down player, but pretty effective on action between the tackles. David Mayo added 5 tackles and 1 TFL.

CORNERBACK

-Janoris Jenkins. It is funny that my game notes from the past two weeks both included question marks next to him regarding how he doesn’t shadow the opposite team’s top target. Last week we saw Allen Robinson, CHI’s top WR by far, roast Corey Ballentine snap after snap. This week, we saw GB’s number one by far, Devante Adams, roast Grant Haley. In key moments, I don’t understand why James Bettcher has Jenkins away from where GB obviously wants to throw. Just an odd way to approach it and I side with Jenkins on his frustration. He finished with a tackle and a PD and put his head into oncoming traffic a few times.

-It appears we have a split-snap situation going on at the other corner spot between Deandre Baker and Sam Beal. I wouldn’t freak out about it regarding the first rounder Baker because this team needs to see what Beal has now that he is healthy. Baker had an opportunity to make a play on the ball early but he simply didn’t track it and looked lost. The result was a big gain as the ball nearly hit him in the head. Beal didn’t fare much better as neither seemed overly disciplined with their reads and techniques.

-Grant Haley was back on the field and Aaron Rodgers viewed it as an early Christmas present. In the second half especially, when they needed a 3rd/4th down conversion, they went directly at him and were almost always successful. Haley got beat up badly and also was flagged for a pass interference that brought GB to the 1-yard line on a drive they later scored on.

SAFETY

-The one positive I am taking away from this game, if I had to choose one, was the performance of Julian Love. With Jabrill Peppers out, Love got the start and was on the field for 97% of the snaps. He finished with 7 tackles and a forced fumble. I’m not used to seeing #24 out there and there were a couple plays where a NYG defender made a nice open-field tackle and my reaction was, “Who was that?!”…it was Love. Easy to see the difference between fast, twitchy, and effective when they are standing next to each other in relation to Bethea.

-Speaking of Bethea, he allowed two of the GB touchdowns, one short and one long. He was also flagged for a defensive hold in the end zone. I sure hope he is a major help behind the scenes because from what we have seen on film, he is no better than what we had in Curtis Riley last year, who I labeled one of the 5 worst starting safeties in the NFL.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 2/2 (Made 27,45). Nice bounce-back performance for Rosas in tough conditions. He is going to need to shine the rest of the way if he wants to keep his job.

-P Riley Dixon: 1 Punt / 47 avg / 47 net.

3 STUDS

-DT Dexter Lawrence, S Julian Love, OG Kevin Zeitler

3 DUDS

-OC Jon Halapio, OT Nate Solder, EDGE Lorenzo Carter

3 THOUGHTS ON GB

  1. GB really revamped their defense this past offseason. They cut ties with long-time fan-favorite Clay Matthews and brought in two veteran pass rushers, Preston Smith And Za’Darius Smith, for a combined $118 million over 4 years. That is a ton of cap space wrapped up into two players for a team that is also paying big-time money to a QB. Take notes, NYG. You may have a couple of big name pass rushers available in free agency this upcoming offseason and I think it is near-mandatory they get at least one.
  1. Just how good is this GB team? Can they really contend with teams like NO and SF? It comes down to Aaron Rodgers and his ability to stay at an elite level. His best days are behind him but he still can play at his highest level ever any given Sunday. The consistency isn’t there from week to week like it used to be but I know this: I would NOT want to see him in the playoffs.
  1. GB went with a never-been-head coach when they hired Matt LaFleur. There were reports early on that he and Aaron Rodgers were not seeing eye-to-eye and that he was in over his head. But it has worked out well. LaFleur hasn’t been in the league a super long time and I have to think that may play to his advantage more than anything. He is innovative and modern, especially so when you compare him to Shurmur. The league doesn’t know his tendencies, they can’t look back on decades of material. If NYG wants to go the assistant route with their next coaching search, this is a situation and result to keep in mind.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  1. What else is there to talk about? We are seeing the same process and result week after week. The offensive line stinks and it is holding back multiple individuals The pass rush is near non-existent and that makes life so easy for the opposing offense. The head coach looks overmatched on a weekly basis. Now that we see teams like CIN and MIA pulling off upset wins, I hope this only exemplifies just how broken this franchise is right now and Mara needs to wake up and make wholesale changes.
  1. The media and fans (including several here) have talked about the lack of innovation Shurmur has shown with play designs and calls. He usually shrugs it off, replying that the team simply needs to execute better. I understand his response and don’t disagree but everybody will get innovative at times, even the most old-school teams in the league. Shurmur opted to change the identity by trying to get cute twice in this game. A flea flicker (that had TWO guys running routes) and a timed snap-handoff to D’Mari Scott who just got added to the roster. He did this in a poor weather game where foot traction was limited at best. Come on, NOW is the time you choose to get past your stubborn ways and play with tricks? His thought process is just so puzzling and lacks sense.
  1. The closing weeks of the season will very much be about the young guys in the defensive backfield. Is Julian Love an answer at safety? Is the combination of Baker, Beal, Ballentine at corner enough to avoid putting resources into the position this offseason?
Dec 012019
 
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GREEN BAY PACKERS 31 – NEW YORK GIANTS 13…
As expected, the New York Giants lost their eighth game in a row on Sunday by losing to the Green Bay Packers 31-13 at a snowy MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With the defeat, the Giants fall to 2-10 on the season.

It was actually a close game for most of the contest with the Packers finally pulling away in the 4th quarter. Oddly, the Giants had more first downs (20 to 19), total net yards (335 to 322), net yards rushing (95 to 79), and time of possession (31:17 to 28:43). But the Giants lost the all-important turnover battle 3-0 and the defense kept allowing big plays on 3rd and 4th down.

The defensive issues showed up early as Green Bay scored touchdowns on their first two drives of the game. After running back Saquon Barkley was stuffed in the backfield for a 3-yard loss on 3rd-and-1, the Packers easily drove 72 yards in seven plays with quarterback Aaron Rodgers throwing an 8-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Davante Adams. The drive also included a 43-yard pass completion.

New York responded on their second possession with an 11-play, 71 yard touchdown drive that ended with an 18-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Daniel Jones to wide receiver Sterling Shepard on 3rd-and-3. The drive was kept alive with a 12-yard reception by tight end Kaden Smith on 3rd-and-2 and an 8-yard catch by wide receiver Darius Slayton on 4th-and-5.

However, the Packers quickly regained the lead with a 5-play, 66-yard effort that ended with an easy 37-yard touchdown pass on their second possession of the game. Packers 14 – Giants 7.

With the pressure on the offense to keep pace with the red-hot Packers’ offense, Daniel Jones threw his first interception of the day on the fifth play of the ensuing drive. Green Bay only needed 24 yards to set up a successful 47-yard field goal. Packers 17 – Giants 7.

The bulk of the rest of the 2nd quarter was eaten up by an 18-play, 66-yard drive by the Giants that took nine minutes and 31 seconds off of the clock. The Giants converted a 3rd-and-6, 4th-and-1, and 4th-and-2 on this possession. Unfortunately, the Giants were forced to settle for a 27-yard field goal rather than a touchdown. The Giants’ defense finally forced a punt on Green Bay’s fourth and last possession of the half and at the break, the score was Packers 17 – Giants 10.

After allowing one first down, the New York defense forced another punt to start the 3rd quarter. The Giants pulled closer with a 10-play, 52-yard effort on their first possession of the second half, resulting in a 45-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas. The big play was a 43-yard pass from Jones to wide receiver Cody Latimer on 3rd-and-12. The drive sputtered after that long completion however. Packers 17 – Giants 13.

At this point, the game began to get out of hand for the Giants. Green Bay launched their third long touchdown drive of the game, traveling 75 yards in 14 plays. The possession was kept alive with an 11-yard pass interference penalty on 3rd-and-6 by cornerback Sam Beal, a 15-yard completion on 4th-and-10, and a 6-yard completion on 3rd-and-2. Rodgers fittingly finished the drive with his third touchdown pass of the day, a 17-yard completion on 3rd-and-goal despite the Giants having 12 men on the field. Packers 24 – Giants 13.

Matters got only worse when Jones threw his second interception on the ensuing drive. The Packers took over at the New York 38-yard line. After converting on 3rd-and-5 and 3rd-and-9, Rodgers threw his fourth touchdown pass of the day and the Packers were now up 31-13 with just over seven minutes to play.

Jones threw his third interception on the second play of the ensuing drive. The New York defense forced its third punt of the day. On New York’s final possession of the game, the Giants drove from their own 6-yard line to the Green Bay 17. But the drive ended with an incomplete pass on 4th-and-4. The Packers then ran out the clock to end the game.

Daniel Jones completed 20-of-37 passes for 240 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. His two leading targets were tight end Kaden Smith (6 catches for 70 yards) and wide receiver Darius Slayton (6 catches for 44 yards). Saquon Barkley carried the ball 19 times for 83 yards.

Defensively, the Giants did not accrue a sack or force a turnover. Aaron Rodgers was only officially hit twice. Not counting the kneel down at the end of the game, Green Bay scored on five of their eight possessions.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVES AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the game were WR Golden Tate (concussion), TE Evan Engram (foot), TE Rhett Ellison (concussion), S Jabrill Peppers (back), QB Alex Tanney, OT/OG Chad Slade, and OT Eric Smith.

CB Corey Ballentine left the game with a concussion and did not return.

QB Daniel Jones injured his ankle but continued to play despite a noticeable limp. “He hurt it, but he played through it,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur after the game. “Tough guy, he fought through it.”

ZAK DEOSSIE PLACED ON INJURED RESERVE…
The Giants placed long snapper Zak DeOssie on Injured Reserve on Saturday with knee and wrist issues. To fill his roster spot, the team signed long-snapper Colin Holba from the Practice Squad.

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 by conference call on Monday.

Nov 292019
 
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New York Giants Super Bowl Trophies (January 5, 2016)

© USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Green Bay Packers at New York Giants, December 1, 2019

THE STORYLINE

During the dark times, it is easy to forget that the New York Giants have been one of the NFL’s most successful franchises, winning eight NFL championships and playing in 19 NFL championship games. It’s not just the quantity of success, but the quality, with the 1990, 2007, and 2011 playoff runs being some of the most memorable in pro football history. The latter two playoff runs included never-to-forgotten upsets against the Green Bay Packers on their home field. While it may seem like ancient history, it’s not. Both of those games were played within the last 12 years.

Which brings us to 2019. In the team’s long and storied history, there have been the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. There was the 1964-1980 playoff drought that included 2-10-2 (1964), 1-12-1 (1966), 2-11-1 (1973), 2-12 (1974), 3-11 (1976), and 4-12 (1980) seasons. During this 17-year time frame, the Giants averaged FIVE wins per season. It was a dreadful time to be a New York Giants fan.

But the 2019 New York Giants earned a disgrace that even those pathetic teams of the 1960s and 1970s never achieved: it went winless during both months of October and November. Two months ago, the Giants were 2-2. They now enter December 2-9. Almost unbelievably, they are out of the playoff hunt in a division where the front runner has a .500 record.

The New York Giants have won 10 games in three seasons. They are currently averaging THREE wins per season during that time span. They will finish the year either in 3rd or 4th place in the NFC East with losing records for the sixth time in seven years.

Something is wrong. Everyone has a theory as to why, but we all know something is wrong. We all feel it. Even with a rookie quarterback who is showing signs of being the real deal and a second-year running back who flashed greatness as a rookie, there is little hope among the fan base. The Giants are not getting better. And the games are not fun to watch. It’s become a chore. This is as depressed as I’ve seen Giants fans since I began covering the team in 1995.

Wellington Mara and Robert Tisch passed away in 2005. Their sons, as newbie owners, were in charge of the team when it won NFL titles in 2007 and 2011. John Mara and Steve Tisch got cocky. They let their guard down. The franchise rapidly deteriorated into a laughingstock in the blink of an eye. And one gets the sense that they pretended it wasn’t happening, that the downturn was a temporary anomaly. It wasn’t. And with each passing day, fan ire now turns on them as they have hand-picked the staff who were supposed to turn this around.

Wellington once famously said, “It’s nice to see arrogance humbled” when talking about the Dallas Cowboys in 1996. Those words are now haunting his son, even if he chooses not to recognize it. John is now going through the same growing pains that his dad did as an owner many decades ago. Whether he can learn from his mistakes and make the right adjustments will determine how long the Giants remain a joke. Hopefully, it won’t be another 17-year stretch.

THE INJURY REPORT

  • WR Golden Tate (concussion – out)
  • TE Evan Engram (foot – out)
  • TE Rhett Ellison (concussion – out)
  • S Jabrill Peppers (back – out)
  • LS Zak DeOssie (knee/wrist – out)

THE FINAL WORD

The Giants are going to lose their eighth game in a row on Sunday. And there is a good chance that this game gets ugly in front of a half-empty stadium.

The Giants will then finish a 4-game stretch that includes two annual beat-downs by the Philadelphia Eagles, including one game in prime time.

It’s going to get much worse my friends.

Nov 262019
 
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Julian Love, New York Giants (November 24, 2019)

Julian Love – © USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bears 19 – New York Giants 14

QUICK RECAP

A comfortable, if not somewhat chilly and breezy day, in Chicago was on tap after the Giants bye week to face off against the underwhelming Bears. A defense that ranked 8th in the NFL paired with an offense that ranked 30th has given CHI a lack of identity to this point of the year. They came in at 4-6, losers of 4 out of their last 5. NYG was coming off of 13 days of rest with an offensive line that was fully healthy after injuries at three of five starting spots and Sterling Shepard out of the concussion protocol. This was a solid match-up on paper.

Two weeks after Saquon Barkley gained 14 yards on 13 carries against the Jets, he was tackled for a 5-yard loss on the first carry of the game. It was a quick and easy sign that despite the extra time off, nothing had changed. On the second CHI drive, they marched down the field but a drop by tight end Ben Braunecker that would have surely ended in a touchdown gave the NYG defense another life. Mitch Trubisky, who averages less yards per game than any QB in the league, threw an interception to a leaping Alec Ogletree in the end zone.

A few drives later, NYG started with the ball in Chicago’s territory. The Giants took advantage of the field position as Daniel Jones hit tight end Kaden Smith in the flat off of play-action for a 3-yard touchdown. They took the initial lead and after forcing a three-and-out on the next drive, Jabrill Peppers returned a punt 40 yards, ending at the CHI 29-yard line. After three plays that accrued a total of 5 yards, Aldrick Rosas missed the 42-yard field goal attempt as a result of Zak DeOssie rolling (literally) the snap back to Riley Dixon. The game remained 7-0. After a 13-yard punt following another three-and-out by the CHI offense, NYG began this time at the CHI 48 yard line. Rosas would soon be presented with a 43-yard attempt but instead of redeeming himself, he pulled it wide left, his fourth miss of the season. The score remained 7-0.

CHI’s offense clicked on their final drive of the half as they finally found and decided to absolutely, relentlessly attack the weak point of the NYG secondary. Corey Ballentine got picked on over and over as CHI drove inside the 10-yard line. The Giants were able to keep them out of the end zone but CHI did put up 3 points via a 26-yard field goal by Eddy Pineiro. They cut the score to 7-3 and would receive the ball to start the second half.

Rosas cemented this as the worst game of his young career as he booted the opening kickoff of the second half out of bounds, giving CHI the ball at the 40-yard line. The CHI game plan seemed to fully focus on Ballentine, as they continued to throw the ball to whomever he was trying to cover. This approach ended with a 32-yard touchdown to Robinson over Ballentine, giving CHI their first lead of the game at 10-7.

The next four offensive drives for NYG resulted in zero first downs, a sack-fumble that resulted in a turnover, and 15 total yards. The anemic performance and even worse play-calling made the Giants completely stall while the CHI offense, third-worst in the league, was able to put another 10 points on the board to lengthen their lead to 19-7 heading into the fourth quarter.

Despite all of the quality field position they had in this one, up until this point in the game, NYG couldn’t muster more than a lone score. Thus it only makes sense that on a drive that started on their on 3-yard line ended with their second touchdown. On a 4th-and-18 from the CHI 23, Jones evaded pressure and chucked it into the end zone. Somehow Golden Tate got behind the secondary and came down with the ball. NYG was all of the sudden within 5 and they quickly forced a three-and-out on the ensuing CHI drive.

Another late-game, puzzling decision arose here. On 4th-and-2 from their own 33, CHI kept their offense on the field. Nobody actually believed they would go for it, and at the last second, they took their entire unit off the field and replaced them with their punting team. The NYG defense remained on the field, no returner came on, and it resulted in a punt that rolled and rolled, resulting in a 61-yard punt that  was downed at the NYG 6-yard line. It was a brilliant move by CHI Head Coach Matt Nagy, as Pat Shurmur hopelessly looked on as if he knew he just got toyed with by a superior coach.

The Giants had one last shot to make this game a heroic 4th quarter comeback but the offensive line continued to falter and Jones couldn’t find open targets. The drive lasted 8 plays and gathered a total of 29 yards. They turned it over on downs. Would have been nice to have those 6 points lost by Rosas.

Giants lose 19-14.

QUARTERBACK

-Daniel Jones: 21/36 – 150 yards – 2 TD / 0 INT – 2 att / 27 yards. Jones fumbled for the 14th time and lost that fumble for the 10th time. While this one wasn’t a result of poor ball protection, this has become a major issue.  Otherwise, Jones played a solid game but had a few hiccups that luckily didn’t end in turnovers. He threw two late balls right into the hands of CHI defenders but they couldn’t close the deal. His second touchdown was a bit of a “chuck it” type play but he deserves credit for hanging in the pocket and getting rid of it nicely with trash all around him. Jones didn’t givie us any “wow” moments or throws but he played solidly as he has all year.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 17 att / 59 yards – 2 rec / 1 yard. While this wasn’t as ugly a performance as we have seen the past couple of weeks, Barkley is still lagging big time. He continues to dance around too much instead of putting his 230-pound frame close to the ground to simply pave his own path. To be honest, it is really frustrating to watch. He also dropped a pass on 3rd-down that would have ended in, at least, a first down and a 15+ yard gain. There was a play in the 3rd quarter where he caught a pass in the flat and danced his way out of bounds rather than drive over a defensive back who was on heels. Shurmur, rightfully so, was not happy with Barkley on that one.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Golden Tate: 3 rec / 33 yards / 1 TD. Tate also had a drop and one other that he should have caught albeit it was a difficult throw to deal with from Jones. Tate’s touchdown salvaged his poor day.

-Darius Slayton: 4 rec / 67 yards. The lone big play threat in this WR corps continues to impress as a route runner and after the catch. He did have another drop though.

-Sterling Shepard: 3 rec / 15 yards. First game back for Shepard since October 6 because of a second concussion. He didn’t make the great impact many were hoping for but he did gain 22 yards on a reverse run and converted a 3rd down. This offense needs more out of him moving forward, not just dinky-dunk passes.

TIGHT END

-With Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison both out, the job was left up to Scott Simonson and Kaden Smith. Smith, still somewhat newly-signed from SF, scored the first Giants touchdown on a play-action bootleg. He ended up catching another 4 short passes and Simonson got one of his own. Neither are going to scare anyone as route runners and pass catchers but they blocked the edge well, as they were asked to do a lot there.

OFFENSIVE LINE

The first half wasn’t bad for tackles Nate Solder and Mike Remmers. After all, they were up against Khalil Mack and company and on Jones’ 14 first-half drop backs, Solder allowed 1 pressure and Remmers none. However, once we got into the third quarter, Solder allowed 5 pressures and a sack that led to a fumble. He was, once again, abused and it impacted the entire passing attack. Remmers wasn’t much better, as he allowed 2 pressures but also graded out poorly as a run blocker. He kept losing ground time after time, showing absolutely no anchor.

-Kevin Zeitler and Will Hernandez were relatively quiet in a good way. They each allowed just one pressure in the fourth quarter against a CHI defensive tackle group that may be one of the most underrated in the league. They didn’t get movement in the running game and they, along with Jon Halapio, were the main culprits for a lack of interior run success. None of the offensive linemen could walk out of Chicago proud of their performance.

EDGE

-Despite a separate offsides penalty called on all three edge rushers, they played well as a group. Markus Golden recorded his 7.5 sack of the year while adding 2 TFL, one of which was in a clutch situation late in the game. Lorenzo Carter had 4 tackles, 1 TFL, a pass break up, and 1 pressure, while Oshane Ximines added a pressure and a tackle himself.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

-B.J. Hill didn’t show up in the stat sheet but he was pretty active despite playing only 26% of the snaps. He had a pressure and made things happen away from the ball in terms of making the ball carrier re-direct. He is a quality guy to have coming off of the bench.

-Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson were stout and rangy against the run. Both had a pressure and Tomlinson finished with 3 tackles. His best football has been played since Williams was brought in. Speaking of Williams, one can fairly ask whether or not he is worth the draft pick they gave and/or the money he will demand in the offseason. He continues on with his “solid, but…” label. He had 1 tackle and 1 pressure in this one.

-Dexter Lawrence was borderline dominant inside against a quality CHI interior offensive line. When this kid gets off of the ball correctly and timely with the right pad level, it is comical to watch two OL not even get him to move his feet. You won’t see him make a statistical impact weekly, as he finished with just 2 tackles and 1 pressure in this one, but he was the key reason why CHI averaged just 2.5 yards per carry. Great game for him.

LINEBACKER

-Alec Ogletree came up with the biggest defensive play of the day. His interception in the end zone prevented CHI from going up 7-0 early and it was an impressive, athletic feat. He had just 2 tackles on the day but he filled lanes hard and opened things up for David Mayo. Mayo finished with 7 tackles including one for a loss and he had a nice pass breakup stemming from his physical style and heavy contact. He did get beat up underneath by backs and tight ends in coverage though.

-Solid game from Deone Bucannon, who seems to be more comfortable in this environment. He had 5 tackles despite the fact he only played a third of the snaps.

CORNERBACK

-Corey Ballentine saw a season-high 64 snaps, but that’s about the only thing his fans are going to want to talk about. Actually, he led the team with 9 tackles, another feather in the cap. But one thing I was taught a long time ago was if a cornerback has a lot of tackles, it is usually an indictment on his poor coverage. It was as clear as day as to who CHI wanted to attack in the passing game. There was a stretch from the middle of the 2nd quarter to the middle of the 3rd quarter where the CHI offense was simple: line up, find who Ballentine is covering, and pass to him. Ballentine’s footwork was atrocious. He had no balance, and he had no feel for routes and throws. In addition to all of the receptions and yardage he gave up, he was fortunate another 60-yard catch was called back because of a penalty along the offensive line. It will be interesting to see how he bounces back because you know Green Bay saw the tape.

-Janoris Jenkins played a really solid game, finishing with a couple of physical tackles and 2 pass break ups. He had a defensive holding on a 3rd-and-10 stop that led to a CHI touchdown, however. Bad timing for a mistake that didn’t need to be made.

-Deandre Baker wasn’t challenged much in coverage, but he did look solid on the few times he had to run deep with the CHI speed guy Gabriel. He finished with a TFL.

SAFETY

-A pretty quiet game for the safeties. Antoine Bethea had 3 tackles and showed quality coverage on a couple of occasions. Jabrill Peppers played a lot of linebacker in this one. He had 5 tackles and 1 TFL. He also returned a punt 40 yards and it got me thinking that it would have been nice to see him back there all year. He is so dangerous with the ball and we aren’t just talking about speed. He is powerful, strong, and aggressive. He is dealing with a hip/back injury that may end up shutting him down for the rest of the year.

-Julian Love got his first real action of the year, 55% of the snaps. He had 1 tackle and 1 interception. Love nearly came down with a second interception and I saw things in him that reminded me why I had a 1st-round grade on him last April. He reacts so well, both physically and mentally, to both where receivers are going and when the ball is thrown. We haven’t seen that from a safety yet this season. Arguably his most impressive play won’t show up on the stat sheet. On the 60-yard pass to Allen Robinson, Love was engaged with a receiver who did a nice job of blocking him. Robinson had a head full of steam and no defender in sight was there to help Love with angles or anything. Love disengaged himself from the blocker, wrapped up a full-speed Robinson, and brought him to the ground. Little things like that go a long way in my book and I hope Love earned his way into more playing time the rest of the year.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 0/2 (missed 42, 43). One can say the first miss wasn’t Rosas’ fault because the snap was so bad, but his second miss AND a kickoff out of bounds to start of the second half now leaves a questionable taste in our mouths. Is he the guy? Or did he get lucky in 2018? Kickers are the relief pitchers of football, just unbelievably volatile and hard to find.

-P Riley Dixon: 6 punts / 41.7 avg / 33.0 net.

3 STUDS

EDGE Markus Golden, DT Dexter Lawrence, S Julian Love

3 DUDS

-OT Nate Solder, K Aldrick Rosas, CB Corey Ballentine

3 THOUGHTS ON CHI

  1. I somewhat noticed this while watching the game live but upon watching it again from the All-22 angle, I respect how disciplined this defense is. Plain and simple, they do not overlook the subtle assignments. They maintain gap control. Their blitzers are well timed and accurate. They take proper angles. Their anticipation is outstanding, most notably at the second level. Yes they have a lot of talen,t but even more than that, their discipline makes a lot of positives happen.
  1. Mitch Trubisky has gone backwards. I can recall watching him early last year and thinking he is making that important jump. Even after his injury where he missed 2 games, he came back and got destroyed by the LAR defense but bounced back well. 2019 has not been friendly to him and it just looks like he isn’t seeing things. His timing is off and he isn’t sure of himself. I bring this up because I think it takes 3 years of starting in the NFL before you can make your decision on a QB. NYG QB Daniel Jones has some similarities to Trubisky and even though I think he is heading toward a higher level, it is another example we can’t say yes or no to Jones until 2021.
  1. I know many may think NYG doesn’t need any more bodies at the hybrid DT/DE spot in this defense but there is a kid on CHI I have been watching all year. Roy Robertson-Harris is going to be a RFA this offseason. Since he was an UDFA in 2015, he could come cheaply. If NYG doesn’t want to spend money on Leonard Williams, I think this kid offers a very similar skill set and I’ll even say a similar level of play for a much cheaper price. Keep that name in mind.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  1. Not sure if anyone else saw the interesting exchange between Barkley and Shurmur. In the 3rd quarter, Barkley caught a ball in the flat, did a little dance, then trotted out of bounds as two CHI defenders approached him. It was 2nd-and-8, NYG was down 10-7. Shurmur went at him and clearly told him to go north, put the shoulder down and get the few extra yards. Barkley may have been able to get 2-3 more yards and while it wasn’t a major deal, I think it is clear some are getting frustrated with his style. He isn’t playing like he did as a rookie. He is playing soft, and yes, I will keep talking about it until he stops.
  1. I think NYG might as well keep trotting out their young guys in the secondary for the balance of the season. I want to see Beal, Ballentine, Baker, and Love all getting more than 50% of the snaps weekly. I don’t need to see Michael Thomas anymore, I don’t need to see Grant Haley anymore, and I don’t need to see Peppers play through pain. Let’s see how these kids respond to adversity even if they get roasted.
  1. There are 5 games left to play. WAS and MIA are included in there and it’s hard not to think about where the Giants end up in the draft if they lose out and/or win one or both of those match-ups with Chase Young potentially sitting there. He is likely going to grade out higher than Myles Garrett and if there is one guy who can change the entire outlook of this team in a game where one guy almost never makes that much of a difference, it is Young. Tanking isn’t a thing but I do believe in sitting veterans and getting the young guys valuable snaps to see if they can show us something. Something I think NYG needs to consider.
Nov 242019
 
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Alec Ogletree, New York Giants (November 24, 2019)

Alec Ogletree – © USA TODAY Sports

CHICAGO BEARS 19 – NEW YORK GIANTS 14…
The New York Giants lost their seventh game in a row, and fell to 2-9 on the season, by losing to the Chicago Bears 19-14 on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. For the first time in New York Giants history, the team did not win a game in the months of October and November.

What kind of day was it for New York? The Giants missed two field goals, committed three neutral zone infractions, and were flagged with defensive holding on a 3rd-and-10 sack, which led to a touchdown on the next play. New York’s longest gain was a 26-yard scramble by the quarterback.

Offensively, the Giants were held to 243 net yards, 14 first downs, and 1-of-12 (8 percent) on third down. Chicago’s 30th-ranked offense gained 335 net yards and 20 first downs.

The Giants and Bears exchanged punts to start the game. After another Giants’ punt, Chicago put together a 12-play, 77-yard drive that ended with a 3rd-and-9 interception by linebacker Alec Ogletree in the end zone. The Giants followed that up with their third punt in a row.

After a punt by Chicago, the Giants took a 7-0 lead after a 6-play, 42-yard drive ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Daniel Jones to tight end Kaden Smith. Unfortunately for New York, these would be the last points the team would score until late in the 4th quarter. Chicago would score the game’s next 19 points.

The Bears would punt the ball twice more on their next two possessions, with four of their first five possessions ending with punts. The Giants could not take advantage as both of their next two possessions ended with missed field goals, from 42 and 43 yards out. The first attempt was set up by a 40-yard punt return by safety Jabrill Peppers.

Chicago’s only points of the first half came on their last possession before halftime, as the Bears drove 59 yards in nine plays to set up a 26-yard field goal.

At the half, the Giants led 7-3.

Place kicker Aldrick Rosas, who is having a terrible season, kicked the opening kickoff of the second half out of bounds. The Bears needed just five plays to go the remaining 60 yards. The killer play came on 3rd-and-10 from the New York 37-yard line. Linebacker Markus Golden had his 3rd-down sack wiped out by a defensive holding penalty by cornerback Janoris Jenkins. On the very next snap, wide receiver Allen Robinson scored on a pass from 32 yards out, beating cornerback Corey Ballentine, as the Bears went up 10-7.

After a three-and-out by the Giants, the Bears extended their advantage to 13-7 after an 8-play, 88-yard drive ended with a 24-yard field goal. On the first play of New York’s ensuing drive, linebacker Khalil Mack beat left tackle Nate Solder and stripped-sacked Jones of the ball. The Bears recovered at the Giants’ 3-yard line. On 3rd-and-goal, quarterback Mitchell Trubiski ran in from two yards out. The Bears now were up 19-7.

The Giants went three-and-out again on their third possession of the half. On the first play of the 4th quarter, safety Julian Love intercepted a Trubiski pass at the New York 20-yard line and returned it 30 yards to midfield. However, the Giants could not gain a first down, being stopped after a 1-yard pass play on 4th-and-4. The Giants did not gain a first down on their first four possessions of the second half.

The Bears gained one first down and punted, the ball being down at the 3-yard line. Aided by a 26-yard scramble by Jones, a 19-yard reception by wide receiver Darius Slayton, and a 22-yard run by running back Saquon Barkley, the Giants reached the Chicago 15-yard line. However, the next three plays lost eight yards and the Giants were now facing a 4th-and-18 from the 23-yard line. As Jones was getting smashed by Mack again, he lofted a perfect 23-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Golden Tate. The Giants now trailed 19-14 with 4:10 left in the game.

The Giants had a chance to win at the end. Markus Golden stuffed the Bears for a 1-yard loss on 3rd-and-1, forcing a punt. However, the Giants were caught off guard when the Bears’ punt team came onto the field late. The Giants did not have a returner in the game and the ensuing 61-yard punt was downed at the 6-yard line. Jones threw a 17-yard pass to Slayton on 4th-and-4 from the 12-yard line, but his second 4th-and-4 attempt four plays later fell incomplete as he was getting hit. Game over.

Jones finished the game 21-of-36 for just 150 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He also lost his tenth fumble of the season, including seven in his last five games. His “leading” targets were tight end Kaden Smith (5 catches for 17 yards) and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (5 catches for 15 yards). Slayton did have four catches for 67 yards. Barkley was held to 59 yards on 17 carries, with 22 of those yards coming on one run.

On the defensive side of the football, linebackers Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter picked up sacks. Alec Ogletree and and Julian Love both had interceptions.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVES AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the game were TE Evan Engram (foot), TE Rhett Ellison (concussion), QB Alex Tanney, WR Bennie Fowler, OT/OG Chad Slade, OT Eric Smith, and LB Chris Peace.

S Jabrill Peppers left the game with a hip injury and did not return. He was in a lot of pain after the game and will undergo an MRI on Monday.

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 Daniel Jones (Video)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (Video)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (Video)
  • LB Alec Ogletree (Video)

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

Nov 222019
 
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New York Giants Defense (August 16, 2019)

New York Giants Defense – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: New York Giants at Chicago Bears, November 24, 2019

THE STORYLINE

This is what we need to focus on during the last six games:

Is the team getting better? Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur were hired almost two years ago to make the 3-13 New York Giants a better football team. The Giants were 5-11 in 2018 and are now 2-8 in 2019. The Giants may win two more games (Dolphins and Redskins) this year. They will be hard pressed to upset the Bears, Packers, and Eagles (twice). We may be looking at a 4-12 season.

How the Giants lose in the final six remaining games will also be important. We’re all tired of the refrain, “Well, at least the team played hard and didn’t quit!” It’s a loser’s lament. Yet if the team not only loses but starts losing badly, then that will be another sign that the team still isn’t headed in the right direction.

THE INJURY REPORT

  • WR Sterling Shepard (concussion – may or may not be cleared on Friday)
  • TE Evan Engram (foot – out)
  • TE Rhett Ellison (concussion – out)
  • OC Jon Halapio (hamstring)
  • LT Nate Solder (concussion – may or may not be cleared on Friday)
  • RT Mike Remmers (back)
  • CB Janoris Jenkins (concussion – may or may not be cleared on Friday)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE

As far as I’m concerned, the #1 goal for the offense for the remainder of the season is to not ruin Daniel Jones. Many disagree with me, but I think any quarterback can take too many hits and that can affect his play, and in the case of Jones, his long-term development. Right now, Jones is taking far too many hits. And many of these hits are violent collisions that are directly contributing to Jones’ ball-security issues. Reduce the number of hits > reduce the physical and mental toll on Jones > reduce the number of fumbles. The latter must also be getting into Jones’ head this point. I know the running game isn’t working, but the already terrible 2019 season will be made disastrous if they permanently damage Jones.

This is absolutely the wrong defense for the New York Giants to be facing at this point. While the Chicago Bears are having a horribly disappointing 4-6 season of their own, encumbered by a dreadful offense, their defense is still #8 in the NFL in terms of yards allowed and #4 in the NFL in terms of points allowed. They are top 10 in both run and pass defense. Surprisingly, the Bears’ defense has only produced 14 turnovers (7 interceptions, 7 fumble recoveries) all season.

The headliner on the Bears’ defense is linebacker Khalil Mack, who has produced four of those fumbles. Mack has been held to 5.5 sacks this year and only one sack in his last six games. He also was tackle-less last week. But don’t let those stats fool you. Mack leads the Bears with 42 quarterback pressures. He is literally quite capable of doubling his season sack total against a weak NYG offensive line. Why is the Bears’ defense so good? Look no further than their linebacking corps. It’s filled with studs. The Bears also have two excellent players in the secondary, cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson.

While I think that Pat Shurmur needs to be more conservative with Daniel Jones, I don’t think the Giants are going to be able to simply run, run, pass against the Bears. If they do that, the Giants will be in constant 3rd-and-long situations. The Bears linebackers are going to destroy tight ends Kaden Smith and Scott Simonson in the run game. It’s doubtful that New York will be able to generate any yardage outside of the tackles. I would use the short passing game to attempt to keep the down-and-distance situations manageable. The Bears’ offense is so bad that the Giants theoretically could win a 13-10 game on Sunday if they simply protect the football and play for field position. Don’t be stupid. Play it conservatively and protect Jones (and thereby protect the football).

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

I think most readers know I’ve pretty much given up on James Bettcher. Last week, the 32nd-ranked New York Jets offense more than doubled their average point total against the Giants’ 27th-ranked defense. As predicted, the Giants were kind enough to allow Sam Darnold to finally get back on track. Will Bettcher’s defense extend the same courtesy to Chicago’s 30th-ranked offense? The Bears are 30th in passing and 29th in rushing. Why do I get the horrible feeling that neither will appear to be a problem on Sunday?

On paper, the Bears can’t run or pass. Their leading rusher has less than 500 yards and is averaging 3.5 yards per carry. His back-up is averaging 3.1 yards per carry. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky stinks, completing less than 63 percent of his passes and throwing just nine touchdowns in nine games. There is only one player on the entire team with more than 251 yards receiving on the year, and that’s wideout Allen Robinson, who is targeted 25 percent of the time on passing plays, yet only has 633 yards and three touchdowns.

The Bears are averaging less than 17 points per game.

The good news for the Giants? Jints Central is starting to play some of the younger players. Corey Ballentine is now seeing serious defensive snaps. Sam Beal played in a handful of plays against the Jets. There were whispers that Julian Love has seen reps with the 1st-team defense in practice. I can live with mistakes from rookies and 1st-year players. But watching end-of-the-line players like Antoine Bethea get abused during a 2-8 season is pointless.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

Aldrick Rosas has now missed three extra points in his last three games. He’s also only kicking 80 percent on field goal attempts. This is a big game for him.

The Bears punt and kickoff return game is very dangerous and will present a very difficult test for the coverage teams this week. This is the type of game that can be decided by a special teams play.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

Head Coach Pat Shurmur on the team no longer playing music during practice: “I felt like it was the right thing to do to keep the music off, especially during the individual periods and the group periods, so that we can coach the players and they can hear me and us better. Now we still use music or we use crowd noise for the offense when we’re on the road. But the reason we don’t do it is so that we, as coaches, our voices can be heard and they can be coached immediately. I think it’s the unintended consequence of not having music. As time has gone on, it’s become a trendy thing to have music at practice. But for us and for our football team, I think the right thing to do is to keep the practice field a little quieter so that they can hear our coaching points.”

(Editorial Note: Yes, it’s always good for the players to be able to hear the coaches during practice. SMH)

THE FINAL WORD

I think the Bears are the better team because they have the far better defense. The Bears are holding opponents to 17 points per game. If the Giants’ defense can match against a dreadful Bears’ offense, then New York has a chance in this one if they don’t turn the ball over. But I don’t have confidence that the NYG defense can do the job, and I think Daniel Jones is going to get rocked in this one and turn the ball over again.

It’s a winnable game, but I don’t think the coaches and players are up to the task.

Nov 132019
 
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The New York Giants are a broken franchise. Their 10-34 record since 2016 is one of the very worst in football. Six of their last seven seasons have been losing seasons. They’ve fired one general manger, one vice president of player evaluation, and two head coaches during this time period. A head coach hired in 2016 was fired two years later. He was replaced by a coach with a 17-42 (.288) head coach record. The defense has become a perennial embarrassment and the offense isn’t much better. The Giants can’t beat the Cowboys (losing 12 of their last 15) and Eagles (losing 10 of their last 11). The Giants have become the “get right” team for opponents who have otherwise struggled.

How do the Giants get out of this mess? How do they fix it? Ownership needs to take a step back and dispassionately analyze the situation moving forward, both from an organization standpoint and a player personnel standpoint. One flows from the other.

ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE

General Manager: The Giants never really had a general manager search in early 2018. The minute former general manager Ernie Accorsi was hired to “consult” on the GM search, the coronation of Dave Gettleman was a foregone conclusion. We all know it. Gettleman appears to have drafted much better than his predecessor, being unafraid to make two controversial top-six picks in Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones. On the other hand, his free agent acquisitions have left much to be desired.

The bottom line is the Giants have not improved under his tenure. The same problems on the offensive line and defense continue to plague this team with no light apparent at the end of the tunnel. The Giants seem years away from seriously competing in their own division, let alone against the better teams outside of the division. In fact, they are one of the worst teams in the NFL.

Gettleman, who battled life-threatening lymphoma in 2018, will be 69 years old in February. Ownership is obviously comfortable with him given his long-standing relationship with the team that began two decades ago. But that may be part of the problem. One can become too comfortable. There is a lot to be said for stability, familiarity, and once-proven methods. But the organizational structure the Giants are still relying on has them now firmly ensconced in their worst period of football since the structure was adopted by George Young in 1979. In other words, the Giants have returned to their 1960s-1970s nadir. It’s not working.

Hiring a post-retirement age GM to oversee a rebuilding effort seemed odd in 2018. It appears even worse today. This offseason, John Mara and Steve Tisch must decide whether Gettleman is the right man moving forward, especially with the team poised to have large amount of salary-cap space to operate with. A potential fly in the ointment is the fact that Vice President of Football Operations/Assistant General Manager Kevin Abrams, the team’s salary cap “guru”, is clearly being groomed to replace Gettleman. Abrams started with the team in 1999, the same year Gettleman arrived, and has been weaned on the “Giants way” of doing things. Ownership probably considers this a huge plus. Many fans would beg to differ.

Recommendation: This team is years away from seriously competing again. Gettleman is too old to oversee the multi-year rebuild. It’s time to hand the keys over to Abrams unless ownership intends to conduct a serious general manager search outside of the organization, which is doubtful. Gettleman should also not be deciding coaching decisions at this point. Let the next GM pick his people.

Head Coach: Pat Shurmur isn’t the answer. He’s a 17-42 head coach who has won seven games in two years with the Giants. The team is not getting better under his guidance. Shurmur seems like a great guy, a good family man. But organizations usually don’t thrive under the guidance of “nice guys.” He has a milquetoast personality and his game-day coaching instincts are on par with George Costanza. He should actually do the opposite of what his instincts tell him. He would be better off. And so would the Giants. If that weren’t enough, the coaching staff he has cobbled together isn’t impressive either.

Recommendation #1: Fire the entire coaching staff. You can’t win in the NFL if you don’t have good coaches. Mara will be tempted to adopt his 2006 approach where he forced Tom Coughlin to get rid of both coordinators. But Pat Shurmur is not Tom Coughlin. Mara swung and missed with Ben McAdoo. He did the same with Pat Shurmur. Let the new GM pick the head coach and stay out of it. You’ve got some Costanza in you too, John.

Recommendation #2: Stop hiring “offensive gurus.” Get back to your roots: defense. Hire a defensive-oriented coach with strong leadership and organizational skills, or at least, make sure your new head coach hires an experienced defensive coordinator who knows what he’s doing (i.e., a Rod Marinelli type).

Pro Personnel and College Scouting: Something is endemically wrong with the Giants ability to scout offensive linemen, linebackers, and safeties. This must be addressed. If the scouts can’t get the job done, replace them.

Recommendation: Analyze every draft and free agent mistake. Find out who was the leading advocate for acquiring those mistakes. See if there are disturbing trends of incompetency. If so, terminate the offenders.

PLAYER PERSONNEL

Defense: Full disclosure, I am personally biased towards defense. I firmly believe a team can compete and win with a middle-of-the-pack offense if they have strong defense and special teams. On the other hand, I do not believe a team can consistently win with middle-of-the-pack or worse defense. In my view, good defense can cover for a multitude of sins. I also believe that a team’s physicality and mental and physical toughness emanates from the defensive side of the football. Outside of 2011, most of the great Giants teams played great defense. And their personality came from their defense.

The Giants will not win again until they field a good defensive team. Outside a blip here and there, the Giants have been dreadful on defense for years, not just middle-of-the-pack, but near dead last. You can’t win like that. How many times have we seen the defense fold in a key situation, on 3rd-and-long, or defending a lead in the 4th quarter? Enough.

Recommendation: Stop emphasizing the offensive side of the football over the defense. We’ve seen that having a great wide receiver or running back won’t help you win unless you play good defense. Switching quarterbacks won’t matter either. Hire strong defensive coaches, including at the top head-coaching spot, and build a perennially strong defense. Start beating the crap out of other teams again. Deliver the punch instead of taking it. The wins will follow.

Offensive Line: We have to state the obvious. The Giants are completely incompetent when it comes to building an offensive line. Two general managers, three head coaches, and three offensive line coaches have been able to cobble together a remotely passable group. Talk to any non-Giants fan and what’s the first thing they usually say? “Man, your offensive line sucks!” It’s been that way for years. And contrary to popular belief, it is not because the Giants haven’t spent a lot of resources trying to fix the problem. They have. They have spent multiple premium draft picks and thrown millions of free agent dollars on players who simply could not perform at an acceptable level.

The Giants wasted the second-half of Eli Manning’s 16-year career due to poor offensive line play. The are now wasting Saquon Barkley’s early career and negatively impacting the development of Daniel Jones. The Giants can’t run or pass block. It’s pathetic. Enough.

Recommendation: Unless the Giants have a sleeper in Nick Gates, the team must acquire two new starting tackles and a starting center this offseason. The strong temptation will be use the top five pick on a tackle and throw as much money as possible to acquire the best free agent tackle and/or center the market. That is dangerous thinking. You can build a respectable offensive line without overspending in terms of draft capital or dollars. See Ereck Flowers and Nate Solder. Address the line, but be smart about it. It will do the team no good if you are cutting these players three years from now. For those who say the Giants will have a ton of cap space so they can afford to overspend, I say no. There will be a bunch of teams with just as much cap space or more as the Giants this offseason. Prices will get out of hand rapidly. And many of these other teams have pressing needs on the offensive line. Contracts like the ones the Giants gave Nate Solder will prevent the team from re-signing its hopefully talented draft picks to their second contracts.

Heavily scout the college ranks and free agent pool for offensive linemen. Along with the defense, addressing the offensive line must be the priority. The measurables are important, but so is the attitude. You can win with guys like Rich Seubert, David Diehl, and Shaun O’Hara. If you see another guy like Kareem McKenzie or Ron Stone, maybe open the pocket book. Like I mentioned on the other side of the ball, the Giants must become a more physical football team. Everything else will flow from the offensive line. Daniel Jones will look better. Saquon Barkley will look like the back he was at Penn State. And receivers will seem miraculously far more open.

SUMMARY

Too simplistic? Perhaps. But sometimes there is beauty in simplicity. This team has been a bottom feeder treading water for years now. And I keep finding myself coming back to the same themes as to why:

  • Poor player acquisition.
  • Poor coaching.
  • Poor defense.
  • Poor offensive line play.

Some of these are bigger fish to fry. Fixing structural organizational problems is a nightmare. But unless the Giants acquire and coach talent better, nothing else will matter. Why does the defense suck? Because they don’t have enough good defensive players and they aren’t very well coached. It’s that simple. Same with the offensive line. Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur were the wrong men to lead this team. Admit to the mistake and move on, just like you did with Eli Apple and Ereck Flowers.

Organizational issues aside, we have all seen that this team can’t consistently compete until it fixes the defense and offensive line. And both have been a problem since the last Championship. Enough is enough. The problems are obvious to everyone. Fix it.