Nov 172020
 
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Wayne Gallman, New York Giants (November 15, 2020)

Wayne Gallman – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 27 – Philadelphia Eagles 17

QUICK RECAP

Just 24 days prior to this game, NYG and PHI faced off on Thursday night in Philadelphia. Because of the miserable state of the NFC East, it was a game that could have set NYG up for an eventual first-place destination. It was a hard-fought loss that seemed very winnable. Since that 1-point loss, NYG lost by 2 to Tampa Bay and won by 3 against Washington. PHI on the other hand beat Dallas by 14 before heading into a much-needed bye week that would help accelerate the recovery of their extended and impactful injury situation. PHI, coming off a 2-week rest, had tackle Jason Peters, running back Miles Sanders, tight end Dallas Goedert, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, and wide receiver Jalen Reagor in uniform, none of whom were on the field when these two teams last met.

The Giants offense has been stellar in the first quarter since October 11. In fact, they entered the game with a 5-game streak of scoring touchdowns in the first 15:00 of game clock. That streak continued in this one, as Daniel Jones ran for a 36-yard score on a designed run that was perfectly blocked and executed. After allowing a 40-yard field goal to PHI kicker Jake Elliott, NYG put together a 13-play drive that ended in a Wayne Gallman touchdown run. The Giants were faced with a 4th-and-1 at the start of the 2nd quarter and they altered the personnel at the last second to confuse the PHI defense and put them on their heels. They then quick-snapped it and Gallman hurdled over the pile at the line of scrimmage for the score. NYG had an early 14-3 lead.

The two offenses traded scoreless possessions but following the NYG 3-and-out, punter Riley Dixon booted a 71-yard punt to pin PHI inside their own 10-yard line. PHI then made it to midfield before punting and pinning NYG inside their own 5-yard line. NYG then followed suit, making it to midfield as well before punting and pinning PHI at their own 11. The special teams were performing at an admirable level as the score remained 14-3 heading into halftime, as both defenses were able to level out and find their footing.

The Giants defense had allowed 48 combined points in the second half of the last three games, an average of 16 points. Their struggles there have been a key culprit in finding themselves on the wrong side of close games. That trend continued as PHI scored on a 56-yard touchdown run by Boston Scott on their opening possession of the 3rd quarter. Scott entered this contest with 5 career touchdowns in 21 career games, 4 of which were against NYG. Wayne Gallman responded with a touchdown run of his own, however, as the NYG offense featured two straight downfield throws to Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate that netted a combined 65 yards. NYG maintained their double-digit lead but that disappeared again as PHI put together another touchdown drive, this one capped off by a 5-yard Corey Clement run. PHI, after successfully executing a 2-point conversion on their previous touchdown, opted to go for another 2 points despite being down by 4. They failed this time, as Leonard Williams got the unrecorded sack on Carson Wentz, the most sacked QB in football, to keep the game at 21-17.

The NYG offense stalled. They went 3-and-out on two consecutive drives, but PHI could not capitalize. Their sloppy play up front and the Wentz accuracy issues that have plagued him all year long continued to surface. NYG lengthened their lead to 7 via a 35-yard field goal before stopping the PHI offense again for the third straight time, this one ending in a James Bradberry 4th-and-10 pass deflection that gave NYG the ball with a touchdown-lead and under 5 minutes left. A surprise 40-yard pass to Darius Slayton put NYG into field goal range where Mr. Automatic kicker Graham Gano hit his 20th consecutive attempt, this one from 44 yards. NYG had a 10-point lead and the PHI offense just couldn’t make it a game. NYG beat Philadelphia for the first time since 2016.

NYG wins 27-17.

QUARTERBACK

-Daniel Jones: 21/28 – 244 yards / 0 TD – 0 INT / 100.0 RAT

Jones added a team high 64 rushing yards on 9 carries, including a 34-yard touchdown run on the first drive. Jones also had a second touchdown taken off the board by an Andrew Thomas holding penalty. For the first time in his career, Jones has now gone 2 straight games without turning the ball over. Not coincidentally, NYG is 2-0 in those games and they are 3-0 in the games since last year in games he kept the “0” next to his name in the turnover column. Jones sprinkled the ball in all over the route tree with accuracy and precision. He also spread the ball out and did a nice job of taking what the defense gave him. Heading into the bye week, Jones is no-doubt trending in the right direction.

RUNNING BACK

Wayne Gallman: 18 att / 53 yards / 2 TD and 1 rec / 7 yards

Throughout the recent surge in quality play from NYG as a whole, it may be Gallman who has been the biggest surprise and biggest beneficiary. He has been playing at, by far, the highest level of his career. While the numbers aren’t going to jump off the screen, Gallman’s aggressive downhill style and nose for yards after contact have been a huge part of this offense. He rushed for 37 yards on 7 carries in the first half when NYG’s offense was really clicking. This is the fourth straight game in which Gallman has scored a touchdown. Brandon Jacobs was the last NYG running back to do that, all the way back in 2010. He had 3 touchdowns in 38 games heading into this season. Just an outstanding job by the fourth-year back who will be a free agent this winter.

-Alfred Morris continues to be the number two guy in the backfield right now. He added 28 yards on 7 carries, adding some hard-nosed, blue-collar pile pushing. Dion Lewis had 17 yards on one catch and was flagged for a holding penalty.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Darius Slayton: 5 rec / 93 yards.

Slayton went down with an injury on the second offensive NYG play and missed some time but was back in the 2nd quarter. He caught those 5 passes on just 7 targets, as Darius Slay was on him most of the afternoon. His 40-yard catch was a high-level ball skill reception that came at a huge moment.

-Sterling Shepard finished with 6 catches on 6 targets for 47 yards. He made a huge downfield grab in the third quarter. The rest of his receptions were dinky-dunk passes. Golden Tate, a week after being benched for a week, came back and caught 2 passes for 44 yards including a huge grab in which he displayed outstanding ball skills.

-Austin Mack had 1 catch for 9 yards on his lone target. The catch was a brilliant reach-back, hands-only catch on a poor throw by Jones. Mack also had a key block on the Jones TD run and showed some serious physical play at a few different moments. He is an intense player who is making the best of his limited opportunities.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram was targeted just three times, He caught 2 passes for 15 yards, one of which was an excellent hands-grab on a ball that was thrown away from his body. Perhaps his most impressive play on a ball was on the incomplete pass where he jumped and turned his body, snared it with one hand, and came down with it albeit out of bounds.

-Kaden Smith added 2 catches for 12 yards and came up with 2 key blocks, one of which was on the Daniel Jones touchdown run.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-I was really impressed with this group, for the most part. The interior had a really strong first half, run game in particular. Rookie Shane Lemieux got the start over Will Hernandez even though Hernandez was back after missing two games on the Covid-19 List. He allowed 1.5 sacks, as he continues to struggle with his anchor as a pass blocker. But his quickness and initial pop as a run blocker has been a difference maker. The speed out of his stance in translated well into power. His smarts and understanding of the game have been a breath of fresh air. In addition, Kevin Zeitler is looking much better than he did earlier in the year. His lateral movement has been crisper, and he is getting quality movement with his punch. He suffered a concussion and was replaced by Hernandez late in the game.

-Nick Gates had a rough day in pass protection, allowing 2 pressures and 1 sack. With that said, the sack was allowed on a Hail Mary play at the end of the first half. He wasn’t challenged much one-on-one, but when he was, he looked late. As a run blocker, he continues to be an absolute boss. The NYG blocking scheme is pulling their guards laterally often and that can only be done if the center is effectively blocking back side, which Gates is doing. His run blocking has been a huge difference maker in the run-game surge we have seen over the past 5 weeks.

-Andrew Thomas had a solid day. He allowed just one pressure but did allow a half-sack on the first drive. One could make the argument that Jones held onto the ball for too long on that play. Thomas’ most notable gaffe was on a touchdown run by Jones that was called back because of his holding penalty. While he is normally grading out very well as a run blocker, Thomas sometimes fails to sustain quality contact in space with his feet under him and his chest up. Nevertheless, his arrow continues to point up.

-Cameron Fleming’s arrow is still pointing down, steeply. He allowed 3 pressures and graded below average in the running game. I think with the bye week here, it is time to insert Matt Peart as the starter on the right side.

EDGE

-NYG got some impact out of Trent Harris, who finished with 3 tackles, a half-sack, and 1 pressure. He played about half of the defensive snaps and while we shouldn’t get too excited about this, he showed the most athletic “juice” off the edge of anyone we have seen since Lorenzo Carter went down.

-Kyler Fackrell had a poor game. He finished with 2 tackles and a pressure, but he was a key culprit for the struggles NYG had against the run. He didn’t get off blocks and he whiffed on Miles Sanders two times.

DT

-Leonard Williams, who unfairly gets put into the discussion surrounding NYG’s disappointing roster simply because he was acquired via trade for 2 middle round draft picks, had one of his best games since becoming a Giant. He had 2 tackles, 5 pressures, and a sack on a PHI 2-point conversion attempt, which does not show up in the box score. He was getting in on the action away from the point of attack, he was in Wentz’s face all day, and he made it easier on the edge rushers. His one mistake was a silly roughing the passer penalty where it was a blatant, unnecessary take down right in front of the ref that will get called every single time.

-The rest of the NYG defensive interior shined against the pass along with Williams. Dexter Lawrence had 2 tackles, 1 sack, and 3 pressures. Dalvin Tomlinson finished with a tackle and a pressure. If these three can stay in the NYG uniform for another few years and this front office gets their hands on a high-end edge presence, watch out.

-The one issue NYG had up front was against the run. The three PHI running backs ran for 153 yards on just 19 carries. I think more of the blame was on the linebackers but these guys up front did struggle a bit against the zone blocking scheme by just not getting off of the linemen quickly enough.

LB

-Blake Martinez, the NFL’s leader in tackles, had a season-low 4 tackles. PHI attacked him pretty hard in the running game with lone blockers who had a clear path to him. It was evident he was game-planned around.

-Devante Downs and David Mayo combined for 8 tackles and 1 TFL, as they rotated at the other ILB spot. In the box score, that looks like a productive day, but I thought they didn’t fill the running lanes fast enough. They were slow to the meeting point and it resulted in PHI creating better space and angles for the cutback runs. Neither factored in coverage.

CB

-James Bradberry had a big day without causing a turnover. Often, those who want to evaluate cornerback play are too obsessed with interceptions. If you watched this game with the All-22 tape, you would see just how well Bradberry blanketed the PHI receivers. He did have 2 pass break ups, one was on 3rd down and the other was on 4th down. They were both high-level plays on the ball.

-Isaac Yiadom added a pass break up and 3 tackles. He played really hard, aggressive, and physical on the edge. It did result in 2 missed tackles, however. Yiadom stuck with the PHI speedster Jalen Reagor on two occasions downfield where it did appear Wentz wanted to go that way, neither of which he did.

-Darnay Holmes had a tackle and a missed tackle, but his biggest issue was a pass interference penalty called on a 3rd down stop. He is getting too grabby with his hands and needs to do a better job trusting his feet. He is athletic enough on all fronts.

S

-Jabrill Peppers is on a nice hot streak right now. His versatility is shining, as he finished with a team high 7 tackles in addition to 2 TFL, 1 pressure, and a half-sack. Peppers came up with a high-level tackle on 4th down to seal the win. He also came up big as a punt returner, averaging 12 yards per on 4 attempts that really helped win the field position game.

-Julian Love had 3 tackles and was rangy. He was physical and didn’t let any ball carriers shake free of his wrap up. Logan Ryan added 6 tackles and a pressure as he continues to thrive in this versatile, multi-faceted defensive back role.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 2/2 (Made 35, 44). Gano hit his 20th straight attempt, tying a franchise record. He was signed through 2023 following the game.

-Riley Dixon: 4 Punts / 53.3 avg / 53.3 net. All four punts landed inside the 20.

3 STUDS

-DT Leonard Williams, QB Daniel Jones, CB James Bradberry

3 DUDS

-OT Cameron Fleming, LB Kyler Fackrell, LB Devante Downs

3 THOUGHTS ON PHI

  1. In 2 games, PHI scored 39 points against NYG. 26 of them came in the second half, with just 13 coming in the first half. That is a clear sign that the coaching staff can do a good job of regrouping at halftime and coming out with an altered approach in the second half. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, this coaching staff is a good barometer for Joe Judge’s staff to match up against in the future.
  1. I’ve debated with a few people here over the years (healthy and respectful debate, it is possible!) surrounding the importance of linebackers in today’s NFL. While I think the value of pass rushers and cornerbacks remains stronger, a front office that neglects linebackers almost always gets burned. PHI’s linebackers were exposed several times when I watched the All-22 and it led to a lot of NYG’s offense success. Their linebackers who saw a lot of time in this game were two second-year undrafted free agents, and a 2017 3rd-round pick who was acquired via trade from ATL for a safety who has been off and on the practice squad in SF and a 7th-round draft pick. They are really weak at the second level and it has been a huge miss by that front office.
  1. If I was a betting man, the NFC East race will come down to PHI and NYG. One could make the argument that PHI has a tougher schedule from here on out, but not by much. And the Eagles do have the current standings advantage. PHI is battle tested and remember, they were do or die for 4 straight weeks last year with a very injured roster and they went 4-0 to seal it. That kind of experience and culture does mean something.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  1. The late injury to Kevin Zeitler and seeing Will Hernandez come into the game led me to thinking about next year and beyond. This offensive line took a turn for the better in mid-October. They still aren’t quite there and still have ugly stretches. However, compared to the last 3-4 years and the first month of 2020, they are a much more productive group. Looking around the league, one should assume your offensive line is going to take at least 1-2 serious injuries at some point in a given season. Seeing Zeitler go out and Hernandez come in got me thinking how this group needs to be addressed in the coming offseason. I can see NYG going after a top-notch guard (Joe Thuney from NE for example) in free agency and possibly even drafting another day 2 offensive lineman who has some inside-out versatility (Rashawn Slater from Northwestern for example). One may say this is too much overload with other issues on the roster. I won’t agree. Make no mistake, much of the recent “surge” in quality play is a direct result of the offensive line improving. Keep that group strong and deep, don’t forget the latter. I would have no issue signing a Thuney-type and drafting a Slater-type while also keeping Zeitler and Nate Solder on the roster as backups for another season.
  1. Are we happy about all of the designed runs from Daniel Jones? Part of me says it is absolutely vital for this offense to move down the field. After all, he leads the team with 384 yards on the ground, he is averaging 7.8 yards per carry, and he is slightly changing how defenses play him along the first 2 levels. The other part of me says that he needs to take less hits if he is going to last for the long term. I am all about the designed run, but I think both he and Jason Garrett need to look ahead now that defenses will start keying in on him and will try to knock him into yesterday. At some point, it will no longer be a surprise and NFL defenders will be able to gear up with anticipation.
  1. Big picture, the Giants offense is still the weak point of this team. They rank 31st in both points and yards. The good news? All but their week 16 opponent (BAL) rank in the bottom half of the league in points allowed and/or yards allowed. That’s right, 5 of their 6 remaining opponents can be scored on at an easier-than-average rate. Their defense will face a stiffer test (especially against ARI and SEA) but if this NYG offensive trend continues, they have a shot. That emotional loss in PHI on a Thursday night is what currently keeps them out of first place. They’re that close.
Nov 152020
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (November 15, 2020)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 27 – PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 17…
The New York Giants soundly defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 27-17 on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium. Yes, you read that correctly. After losing 13 of the last 14 and seven in a row to Philadelphia, the Giants actually beat them for a change. Remarkably, the 3-7 Giants are now in second place in the NFC East behind the 3-5-1 Eagles.

Statistically, the game was pretty even. Neither team turned the football over. The one stat that did stick out is the Giants held the Eagles to 0-of-9 on 3rd-down conversion opportunities.

The Giants received the football to start the game and immediately went up 7-0 with an 8-play, 85-yard drive that culminated with a 34-yard touchdown run by quarterback Daniel Jones. The Eagles responded with a their only scoring drive of the first half, driving 53 yards in 12 plays to set up a 40-yard field goal. Giants 7 – Eagles 3.

New York ate up the rest of the 1st quarter with a 13-play, 75-yard drive that took six and a half minutes off of the clock. The possession ended with a 2-yard touchdown run by running back Wayne Gallman on 4th-and-1 on the first play of the 2nd quarter. Giant 14 – Eagles 3.

Neither team scored for the remainder of the first half. The Eagles punted three times. The Giants punted twice and had their final possession end with a sack on 4th-and-14 with four seconds left near mid-field. The Giants led 14-3 at the break.

Philadelphia immediately tightened the game with their first possession in the 3rd quarter. The Eagles drove 84 yards in five plays, culminating with a 56-yard touchdown run by running back Boston Scott. The Eagles also converted on their 2-point conversion attempt, cutting the score to 14-11.

The Giants impressively responded with a touchdown drive of their own, gaining 75 yards in six plays. Jones threw a 27-yard pass to wide receiver Sterling Shepard and followed that up with a 38-yard completion to wideout Golden Tate. Gallman finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run on 3rd-and-goal. Giants 21 – Eagles 11.

Not to be outdone, Philadelphia scored again with an 8-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a 5-yard touchdown run by running back Corey Clement. This time the Eagles’ 2-point conversion attempt failed and the Giants led 21-17.

Both teams then each punted the ball away twice. After a 20-yard punt return by Jabrill Peppers, the Giants began a drive a the Eagles’ 41-yard line with 11 minutes left to play. New York gained 24 yards in six plays to set up a 35-yard field goal by place kicker Graham Gano. The Giants now led 24-17.

The Eagles then drove from their own 25-yard line to the New York 36-yard line. But the drive ended with one run for no gain and three straight incompletions. Philadelphia turned the ball over on downs with just under five minutes to play. New York then gained 38 yards on six plays, the key play being a 40-yard strike from Jones to wide receiver Darius Slayton. This set up Gano’s 44-yard field goal. The Giants now led 27-17 with just over three minutes to play.

Philadelphia gained one first down on their final possession before turning the football over on downs. The Giants then ran out the clock to preserve the win.

Jones completed 21-of-28 passes for 244 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. He also led the team in rushing, carrying the ball nine times for 64 yards and a touchdown. Jones’ leading targets were Shepard (6 catches for 47 yards) and Slayton (5 catches for 93 yards). Gallman rushed the ball 18 times for 53 yards and two touchdowns.

Defensively, the Giants did not force a turnover. They held the Eagles to a field goal in the first half, but allowed two back-to-back touchdown drives in the 3rd quarter. However, Philly’s last two drives ended with turnovers on downs. New York also forced five punts. The Giants sacked quarterback Carson Wentz three times and hit him 13 other times. Defensive end Leonard Williams had five quarterback hits.

Video highlights are available on Giants.com.

INACTIVES AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the game were WR Dante Pettis, OL Kyle Murphy, OT Jackson Barton, DE R.J. McIntosh, and LB T.J. Brunson.

Right guard Kevin Zeitler left the game in the 4th quarter with a concussion.

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Nov 132020
 
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Game Preview: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, November 15, 2020

THE STORYLINE

Are you Red or are you Andy Dufresne?

Red: “Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”

Andy: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

The Giants have lost 13 of their last 14 games against the Eagles, including the last seven in a row. This has gone well beyond which team is more talented at any point in time. It’s clearly mental. Look no further than the last time these two teams met. The Giants were up by 11 points with six minutes to play. And they still lost. The defense broke and with a chance to ice the game, Evan Engram dropped the ball.

Two bad football teams play each other on Sunday. One believes they will win. The other does not. What the X’s and O’s say at this point is immaterial.

THE INJURY REPORT

  • RB Devonta Freeman (ankle/hamstring – out)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (toe/hip)
  • WR Golden Tate (knee – questionable)
  • TE Kaden Smith (concussion)
  • CB Isaac Yiadom (calf – questionable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE

    As we near the bye week and then the final six game stretch run, I think we can start to look at the big picture and what the Giants accomplished and failed to accomplish in 2020.

    Without spring mini-camps and OTAs, no preseason, and a limited summer training camp, it was always going to be a challenge for a new coaching staff with massive roster turnover to have this team primed and ready by the time the regular-season started. Worse, and catastrophically, the Giants lost their best player on the team early. We can debate the reasons why, but the Giants have a bottom tier offense that struggles to put 20 points on the board every week in a league where scoring doesn’t seem to be a problem.

    Regardless of the reasons, Daniel Jones has not progressed as hoped or expected. He was better last week simply because he didn’t lose the game. He teases with the “wow” plays and there is still a good chance that he develops into a very good quarterback. But stating the obvious, he has to string together games where he does more to win the game than lose it. One game does not make a trend. Can he build upon his “success” from last week?

    Before the season, I talked about how it would be interesting to watch the dynamic between Golden Tate and the coaching staff since Tate has a history of wearing out his welcome. I think it’s clear that Tate is on his way out, leaving the Giants with major question marks at wide receiver heading into 2021. Darius Slayton is not a #1 receiver. Sterling Shepard is at best an injury-prone slot receiver who doesn’t stretch the field. Austin Mack may not even be in the NFL next year.

    The Giants carried four tight ends this year and there was talk and hope of Jason Garrett and Freddie Kitchens getting the best out of Evan Engram and Kaden Smith as receivers, and of Levine Toilolo and Eric Tomlinson being huge blocking assets. It didn’t happen. Engram is who he is… a coach killer. I expected more from Smith but it just never happened. The two big guys have also been disappointments.

    Once Saquon Barkley went down, the entire picture changed on offense. I warned everyone about this. The team has done an admirable job of picking up guys off of the street and at least presenting some sort of a running game, culminating in last week’s season-high performance. But it’s doubtful that Devonta Freeman, Alfred Morris, and Dion Lewis will even be on the roster in 2021. The good news is Wayne Gallman is showing some signs of life as a capable back-up.

    Which brings us to the one emerging positive from 2020 on the offensive side of the ball: the line. While the specific components did not take the path that I expected, the line as a whole progressed as I predicted: very rough start with real chemistry and cohesion starting to develop by mid-season. I should have taken into account the murderers’ row of defensive fronts the Giants faced this year. I also did not expect Kevin Zeitler to fall off a cliff like he has. But Nick Gates has played far better than expected. Andrew Thomas has been far shakier than anticipated, but he is improving and the Giants now have three rookies to team with Gates as the foundation of what looks to be a promising offensive line for years to come. There will be still ugly moments. The very good Giants offensive lines of the past did not become what they were in one season.

    NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

    This side of the ball has been steadier than the offense, but it also has major talent deficiencies that cannot be addressed in one offseason. The Giants botched the rebuild in the secondary with their terrible 2019 draft. And we all have harped on the problems at edge rusher.

    The good news is the Giants appear to have the horses up front on the defensive line. And assuming that Tae Crowder can build upon his fast start, the Giants have a nice complementary combo at inside linebacker with tackling-machine Blake Martinez and the athletic Tae Crowder. The loss of Lorenzo Carter was a major blow outside, however. He will be coming off of a major injury and had yet to prove himself regardless. The Giants have not been able to evaluate Oshane Ximines either due to his injury. The Giants need a difference-making pass rusher in the worst way. Those are extremely hard to come by.

    Thankfully the Giants not only made the right call on Blake Martinez in free agency, but also James Bradberry. Can you imagine the state of the defense without these two guys? Darnay Holmes is developing at nickel corner, but the rest of the corner situation is a joke. The Giants don’t need one new corner, they need two or three. The 2019 draft really screwed the team here. Worse, Julian Love hasn’t worked out at safety either. Xavier McKinney is going to miss most or all of his rookie season. Will Logan Ryan want to re-sign with a rebuilding club? Jabrill Peppers keeps alternating between good and bad play.

    Sy’56 already talked about it. The Giants defense allowed three straight scoring drives against an anemic Washington offense in the second half before Alex Smith threw two horrible interceptions. The good news is the defense finally made plays late in the game to seal the deal. The bad news is they almost collapsed again.

    NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

    Graham Gano has been a godsend. I was skeptical about him, but boy was I wrong. He’s the MVP of the team.

    FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

    Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham on his reaction to losing the first game against the Eagles: “Each game is so different. I consider myself a teacher, first and foremost. I happen to teach football. I think like any teacher, whether you’re a kindergarten teacher or a professor, you’re trying to do your best job so your students can learn. You want to see them have success. To see them fight so hard, to give up that lead. Usually what happens, as a coach, obviously I didn’t get the right calls in there. I failed them. If I’m being honest with you, I was just disappointed in letting them down personally, that’s just me. In that moment of honesty, that’s where I was at, we have to figure this out. For me right there, it was more I look at these guys as I’m a teacher than as a coach. I felt bad I let them down and I had to figure out a way to make sure they can taste success and get the reward of all their hard work. They’re working really hard for Joe. I felt bad. They’re working hard for Joe, working hard for all of us, and we didn’t come away with the win. The beauty of this and division opponents is you get to play them twice. We got them this week, not that the last game has anything to do with this week. We got another shot at them. Looking forward to the opportunity to go out there and compete against them. Hopefully, we do enough to put ourselves in that position again to have a chance to win the game.”

    THE FINAL WORD

    Without trying to sound insulting, some of the “we are turning it around” reactions to the Giants win over Washington were comical. We went through the EXACT same thing less than a month ago after the Giants beat Washington and before they played the Eagles. And yet fans keep falling into the same trap, especially after wins against that team in Maryland.

    Can the Giants build upon last week’s success and beat the Eagles on Sunday? Sure. The Eagles are a losing football team with their own Jekyll and Hyde quarterback. But history says no. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 13 times…

    At the end of Shawshank, Andy proved to Red that hope was indeed a good thing. I’m not there yet.

    Nov 102020
     
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    Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence, New York Giants (November 8, 2020)

    Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence – © USA TODAY Sports

    New York Giants 23 – Washington Football Team 20

    QUICK RECAP

    Giants quarterback Daniel Jones took on the Washington Football team for the fourth time in his young career. He entered the matchup 3-0 against the fellow NFC East basement dwellers while having a 1-16 record against everyone else. The Giants last played Washington on October 18, a matchup they won by 1 point. Since then, they lost two games by a combined 3 points and WAS defeated DAL by 22 points before entering their bye week. A home game following a week off against a team playing on short rest (NYG played the previous Monday night) is historically a very advantageous situation.

    NYG reached the WAS 35-yard line on the opening drive and were faced with a 4th-and-1 . They opted to send Dion Lewis, their least powerful back, up the middle where he was stuffed for a no gain. Fortunately, WAS gave the ball right back on a fumble by rookie running back Antonio Gibson on their very first offensive play. NYG took advantage of the that first turnover, creating 3 points out of it via a 38-yard field goal by Graham Gano. The key play on the drive was a 50-yard pass, the longest of the season for NYG, from Jones to rookie Austin Mack. Mack saw an uptick in playing time after Joe Judge made the decision to keep Golden Tate at home after showing up the team last Monday night against the Bucs.

    NYG forced a 3-and-out on the next WAS drive before punting themselves just two plays after tight end Evan Engram dropped a pass and had it nearly land in the hands of a WAS defender. The play was originally called an interception, but the replay review overturned the call. On that NYG punt, rookie Isaiah Wright muffed the catch and the ball was recovered by Madre Harper. Four plays later Wayne Gallman crossed the goal line to give NYG a 10-0 lead, both scores coming off WAS turnovers.

    WAS then made it to the NYG 10-yard line but multiple WAS penalties pushed them far enough back that the field goal attempt ended up being 48 yards. Dustin Hopkins nailed it through the uprights to cut the NYG lead down to one score, 10-3. On that drive, however, Jabrill Peppers broke the ankle of WAS quarterback Kyle Allen. It was a gruesome injury and the irony behind it was the fact that Alex Smith was the backup who trotted onto the field. Smith had a career-threatening, even life-threatening, injury to his leg just two years ago.

    NYG marched down the field on their next drive to set themselves up for another field goal, this one being 48 yards. Gano put it through the uprights again to lengthen the lead back to 10 by a score of 13-3. The NYG defense then forced another 3-and-out, setting up the steady Big Blue offense to put more space between them and Washington. Alfred Morris, a former Pro Bowler who saw his best days in WAS, took over in the backfield for the next drive. He gained 35 yards on his first 3 carries of the possession. NYG kept the momentum going, with Jones hitting Engram in the end zone up the seam for a 16-yard touchdown.

    The WAS offense, with under 2 minutes left, got deep into NYG territory. But the drive ended with an interception by Smith as a result of running back J.D. McKissic slipping and falling as the ball was being thrown. Blake Martinez came up with the pick. NYG had as 17-point lead at the half.

    Washington then scored on their first three drives of the second half. Despite a slow first half marred by turnovers, they came out converting third downs and neutralizing the NYG pass rush. They scored 2 touchdowns, one on a short run by the rookie back Gibson and the other on a freak pitch, catch, and run to Terry McLaurin. They also added 3 points via a 44-yard field goal by Hopkins. NYG was able to put up three points of their own from Gano’s 18th consecutive successful attempt but the lead was just now three points, 23-20.

    The NYG offensive line had been solid until this point, but the WAS defensive front started to get consistent pressure and an offensive pass interference call on Engram killed NYG’s next drive. They punted back to WAS, who had the ball back, down 3, with over 5 minutes left. Their offense was red hot, coming off three straight scoring possessions that netted 17 points.

    The NYG defense has shown signs of life all year but they came up short in key situations multiple times and they just haven’t been able to come up with the big, timely play. Well, that was another trend that was about to end. Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham has been finding creative ways to create pressure all year despite not having a true edge presence. A Logan Ryan blitz forced Smith into throwing an interception to Jabrill Peppers. On the final WAS drive of the game, a Leonard Williams pressure forced yet another interception, this one to Ryan. The NYG defense put the breaks on the WAS offensive surge and won for the 4th time in as many tries with Jones at the helm.

    NYG wins, 23-20.

    QUARTERBACK

    Daniel Jones: 23-34 / 212 yards / 1 TD – 0 INT / 94.2 RAT

    The Giants’ leading rusher added just 4 yards on the ground. Two things are most important from this one: Jones didn’t turn the ball over and he got the win. It is amazing that he is 4-0 vs WAS but 1-16 elsewhere. Some guys just have a team’s number and vice versa. Jones didn’t have many opportunities to really throw the ball downfield in this one. It was obvious he was trying to get the ball out faster and that he did. He was accurate short and intermediate in addition to appearing decisive. A good step in the right direction for Jones and he was fortunate he didn’t turn the ball over on his fumble where a defender didn’t come in contact with him. That could have changed the outcome of this one. Jones has turned the ball over in every one of his starts outside of this game and the 12/22/19 matchup against WAS. One can easily see just how much more winnable these games are when they don’t lose that intra game battle.

    RUNNING BACK

    Wayne Gallman: 14 att / 68 yards / 1 TD and 1 rec / 9 yards

    Gallman is another one who seems to have his best volume work against WAS. He now has 294 career yards against them; he doesn’t have more than 125 against any other team. Gallman was impressive inside where he seemed to be one broken tackle away from breaking off a big play on multiple occasions. He also pushed the pile twice, showing good power and grit. Gallman continues to impress with the ball but he is the one back who seems to struggle when pass blocking.

    -Alfred Morris played a huge part in the win. He gained 67 yards on 9 carries while adding 4 yards on a catch. His 7.4 yards per carry were the highest of his career since September 15, 2013 in games where had had more than 2 carries. Talk about coming out of nowhere. Morris made a couple key blitz pickup blocks as well and I think that presence and reliability back there are key reasons why he is on the roster and seeing time. The production on the ground is simply icing on the cake.

    WIDE RECEIVER

    Austin Mack: 4 rec / 72 yards

    Mack was a few inches shy of his first career touchdown in the first quarter. It was an impressive scamper after the catch where he broke a tackle and lunged for the end zone, but his knee was ruled down just prior to crossing the goal line. Mack also brought in a 50-yard reception, the longest of the year for NYG. Much of his opportunity came from the Golden Tate situation and it may end up being a blessing in disguise. Always good to see a young talent get looks and capitalize on them at the expense of a disgruntled, unhappy, and overpaid veteran.

    -Sterling Shepard added 39 yards on 6 catches as he was featured on several short passing plays. He came up with a couple of key 3rd-down conversions and he made key blocks on long NYG running game gains. His impact isn’t seen in the box score but he was a key part to the win.

    -Darius Slayton was targeted just one time. That is the first time that has happened in his young career. In 4 career games vs. WAS, he has 4 catches for 54 yards.

    TIGHT END

    -Evan Engram has gotten his fair share of roller coaster reviews over the past few years and we can only add to it at this point. In a week where it was confirmed multiple teams tried to trade for him last week, NYG decided to hold onto the talented playmaker. He led the team in targets with 10, catching 5 of them for 48 yards and a touchdown. There were multiple bumps in the road, however. Engram dropped 2 passes that were literally right in front of his face. One of them was just inches away from resulting in an interception. He also allowed a TFL and was flagged for offensive pass interference. Engram’s touchdown was a huge play and it was a high-skill level catch. I have been banging the table for this offense to send him up the seam more because that is where I think he does the most damage athletically, that is where he can be nearly impossible to cover. Hopefully Jason Garrett can see that now. It’s hard not to think about what Engram and this offense can be if he gets rid of these focus-drops.

    -Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo saw the field a considerable amount. They were excellent in sealing off the edge on some of the longer NYG runs.

    OFFENSIVE LINE

    -Center Nick Gates continues to impress and grade out as the top OL on this team. This is now becoming a week after week occurrence and one has to think this can be the norm here. He had never played center before and obviously the preseason was shortened to the point where those first few weeks could have been erased in a normal year. Gates is a tone setter for this group. His energy, hustle, and attitude are making a difference and he is quickly becoming a key leader and component to the direction in which this team is heading.

    -Rookie tackles Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart both put out solid efforts and performances. Thomas allowed 1 sack but was pretty clean otherwise. I still see mechanical issues with his pass protection sets but he was able to maintain good contact for the most part for the second week in a row. Two of his three best performances on the year have come over the past 2 weeks. Peart played 31% of the snaps, mostly for Cameron Fleming but he did step in for Thomas for a drive. I think that was pre-determined, as the staff is clearly trying to get Peart in the mix more at both spots. The move did occur after Thomas’ worst series, however.

    -The two veterans of the group, Kevin Zeitler and Fleming, both finished with below average grades. Zeitler was better, however. He allowed 2 pressures and a sack, although the sack could be put on Jones. Zeitler came up with multiple key blocks in the running game and he showed some juice as a lead blocker to the outside. That was the best I’ve seen him move this year athletically. Fleming allowed a pressure and a TFL. His down blocking in the running game was really poor. I think we see one more start out of him.

    -Rookie Shane Lemieux got the start at left guard for the second week in a row as Will Hernandez was kept on the Covid-19 list. Similar to last week, there was a lot of good and some really bad. He allowed a sack and a pressure in addition to getting flagged for a holding penalty that ended up being declined by WAS. Lemieux looks really solid from a balance and technique perspective. His hands and feet are very in sync with each other and he seems to pick up what the defense throws at him schematically. I think another year in the pro-strength/conditioning program will put him where he needs to be. He looks like a player who can be counted on.

    EDGE

    -Another quiet day for the NYG edge defenders. Kyler Fackrell was the one who saw the field the most and he ended with 3 tackles and 2 pressures. Not a bad day at all. He was flagged for an offsides penalty as well.

    -Jabaal Sheard and Trent Harris saw the next tier of EDGE snaps, neither making a strong impact. Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown barely saw the field again.

    DT

    -Big day for Leonard Williams, one of his best as a Giant. His stat line read 3 tackles / 3 pressures / 1 sack. He also created penetration that led to a TFL by Dexter Lawrence and his pressure at the end of the game forced the game-ending interception. Williams was all over the field and continues to dominate one-on-one blocking. If this defense can find a true EDGE threat, Williams is going take off.

    -Dexter Lawrence and Dalvin Tomlinson both made plays behind the line of scrimmage. WAS only ran the ball 9 times but these two were still very effective up front.

    -B.J. Hill had 1 tackle and a pressure while Austin Johnson added a tackle in his limited role.

    LB

    -Tackling machine Blake Martinez led the team with another 10 in this game. He is just so automatic and reliable. He also came up with a key interception in the red zone toward the end of the first half. Big play, great timing, as WAS was heading toward at least 3 points.

    -Devante Downs played the majority of the other ILB snaps when NYG used that personnel. He recorded 3 tackles but was exposed badly in coverage two times. This is a growing hole in this defense that may need to be addressed this offseason unless the staff is confident in Tae Crowder when he gets back on the field.

    CB

    -Isaac Yiadom had his finest day as a Giant. Although he is still limited in coverage, he made a couple impact plays. He split a sack with Tomlinson and recorded 8 tackles. He allowed a freak touchdown to McLaurin and a 3rd-down conversion but he played a sound, aggressive game.

    -James Bradberry wasn’t thrown at much. WAS clearly tried to attack elsewhere in the NYG secondary. He did allow a 3rd-and-1 conversion pass where he simply lost track of McLaurin. Otherwise, quiet game from him in a good way.

    -Rookie Darnay Holmes is quietly improving. He made 5 tackles, most of which came on plays where he allowed a catch in man coverage. He did get beat on 3rd down a couple times, but I like how well he is staying in phase and maintaining body control. He plays in a really fast and aggressive fashion that impacts his game as a cover man, blitzer, and run defender.

    S

    -Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan both came up with multiple key plays in NYG’s 5-turnover performance. Peppers recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass in addition to breaking up 2 others. Ryan had the game-sealing interception and created pressure via a blitz that rushed WAS QB Smith into rushing a throw that ended up being an interception. Ryan also forced a fumble and added 6 tackles and Peppers added 6 tackles of his own. Impact game by these two, even though they both played balls poorly in coverage that resulted in big plays for WAS.

    -Julian Love played just under half the snaps. He made 1 tackle and was beat in coverage a couple times in addition to a poor angle on one of WR Cam Sims’ big gains. Not a great game for him and I question what his role is on this defense right now with the hope he is taking notes on the versatility of Ryan, who may not be here next year.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    K Graham Gano: 3/3 (Made 38, 48, 42). Gano has made 18 straight, the longest active streak in the NFL this season.

    -P Riley Dixon: 4 punts / 39.5 avg / 36.5 net

    3 STUDS

    -S Jabrill Peppers, DT Leonard Williams, OC Nick Gates

    3 DUDS

    -OT Cameron Fleming, S Julian Love, EDGE Jabaal Sheard

    3 THOUGHTS ON WAS

    1. About a month ago, I discussed how poor I thought this WAS team really was and just how dark of a time they were entering. Since then, they did beat an awful DAL team in a game where the Cowboys backup QB was injured and taken out of the game, then they had a bye week, then they lost to NYG again. I’ve seen their last 4 games in full in addition to 2 others. Unless they find a solution at QB (Haskins won’t be it from what I hear), we may be looking at the next NYJ or JAC. They are about to hit a point where they can’t pay all of their DL, the best part of their team, and “QB Hell” is approaching.
    1. One player on this team who I have liked since last year, but who hasn’t received a consistent number of opportunities, is Cam Sims. He finished with 3 catches for 110 yards. The third-year receiver from Alabama has played in just 16 games (primarily on special teams) but has seen 11 targets that has produced 9 catches / 198 yards / 1 TD. I think they have something in him and it would be wise to use the rest of this season to expose him to regular snaps and opportunities.
    1. Chase Young, the number 2 overall pick, got off to a nice start prior to injuring his groin. For those that don’t know much about soft tissue injuries to that area, it isn’t fun and they heal very slowly. The snap out of his stance and torque when involved with blockers just isn’t there. He looked much differently early in the year and just doesn’t seem 100% right now. Tough to get an evaluation on him knowing that.

    3 THOUGHTS ON NYG

    1. Check out these numbers. NYG gained 350 yards, WAS gained 402. NYG had 74 total offensive plays, WAS had 50. NYG averaged 4.7 yards per play, WAS averaged 8.0. NYG had 2 sacks, WAS had 5. NYG averaged 4.7 yards per pass play, WAS averaged 8.9. NYG punted 4 times, WAS punted 2 times. If you showed me just these numbers and I didn’t know anything else about the game, I would have said there was little-to-no shot NYG won this game. This is how vital the turnover battle is in the NFL. Giants did not turn it over once, WAS turned it over 5 times (and the margin if victory was still only 3 points). So when I bring up just how vital it is that Daniel Jones is not a turnover machine, do not bring up Brett Favre. If Jones keeps the turnovers away, NYG can win right now, not just down the road.
    1. The Golden Tate situation was a breath of fresh air. I’ll be honest, Tate yelling “Throw me the damn ball” last week wasn’t a huge deal. Was it notable? Yes. It wasn’t a big deal, though. The fact that Judge took that (and perhaps some stuff behind the scenes we don’t know about) and used it to bench him / keep him home from practice for a day / put him on the scout team / keep him home from the game was great to see. I think he is laying the foundation for anyone and everyone to see that the little things that other coaches overlook won’t be tolerated. They can morph into bigger issues down the road. Young players can take it in and realize that won’t be acceptable in the future. Another check in the box for Judge who, I will say, has this team feeling different than what we have seen in recent years.
    1. The Giants’ defense is getting a little bit of a pass because of the turnovers and because of the win itself. Truth told, they were awful in the second half against an offense that ranked 30th in the NFL. They are right there with NYJ and NYG as the worst offense in football. Alex Smith passed for 260 yards in the second half alone. What happened? NYG played a lot of zone coverage and it didn’t pan out. I think Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham has done a fine job mixing things up, playing matchups, and creating a pass rush with a lack of true pass rushers. I just don’t think he has the horses right now to be effective in every-down man coverage. James Bradberry is solid but the other corners can’t be relied on in that kind of role. In addition. I’m not sure the safeties are good enough over the top to even somewhat make up for it. That is going to need to be a key focal point to the upcoming NYG roster build.
    Nov 082020
     
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    Dalvin Tomlinson, New York Giants (November 8, 2020)

    Dalvin Tomlinson – © USA TODAY Sports

    NEW YORK GIANTS 23 – WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM 20…
    The New York Giants earned their second win of the 2020 season by sweeping the Washington Football Team in Maryland on Sunday, 23-20. With the win, the Giants improved their overall record to 2-7.

    The Giants dramatically out-rushed Washington 166 to 37 while Washington dramatically out-passed New York 365 to 184. The Giants’ team rushing figure was a season high. The real difference in the ball game was the Giants won the turnover battle 5-0. It was the first time quarterback Daniel Jones did not turn the football over in his 21 NFL starts (although he did fumble the ball twice).

    The Giants received the ball to start the game, picked up two first downs, but turned the ball over on downs when running back Dion Lewis was stuffed on 4th-and-1 at the Washington 35-yard line. Nevertheless, New York got the football right back when on Washington’s first offensive play, defensive back Logan Ryan forced a fumble after a long reception by running back Antonio Gibson. Safety Jabrill Peppers recovered the fumble at the New York 19-yard line. On their second possession, highlighted by a 50-yard pass from Jones to wide receiver Austin Mack, the Giants were able to set up a 38-yard field goal to take a 3-0 early lead.

    Washington went three-and-out on their second possession. The Giants picked up one first down and punted. However, the Washington returner muffed the punt with cornerback Madre Harper recovering the loose ball at the Washington 16-yard line. Four plays later, running back Wayne Gallman easily scored from two yards out. Giants 10 – Washington 0.

    Washington’s only scoring drive of the first half occurred on their third possession as they drove 44 yards in nine plays to set up a 48-yard field goal. On this drive, starting quarterback Kyle Allen suffered a serious ankle injury after being sacked by Peppers. He was replaced for the rest of the game by Alex Smith. The Giants responded with their own field-goal drive, traveling 45 yards in nine plays, and place kicker Graham Gano kicked a 48 yarder of his own. Giants 13 – Washington 3.

    After another three-and-out by Washington, New York took charge of the game with a 10-play, 77-yard drive that ended with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Jones to tight end Evan Engram just before the 2-minute warning. Washington threatened to score in the final two minutes of the half, reaching the New York 18-yard line, but linebacker Blake Martinez ended this threat by intercepting Smith.

    At the half, the Giants led 20-3.

    The Giants did not make it easy on themselves in the second half. Washington received the ball to start the 3rd quarter and easily drove 75 yards in six plays to cut the score in half, 20-10. Gibson ran the ball in from one yard out. The Giants responded with a 12-play, 51-yard drive that took over seven minutes off of the clock and resulted in a 42-yard field goal. This would be New York’s last points of the day.

    Washington scored again on their second possession of the half, gaining 53 yards on nine plays to set up a 44-yard field goal. New York 23 – Washington 13 early in the 4th quarter. The Giants gained two first downs and then punted. But it took only three plays for Washington to go 84 yards with wideout Terry McLaurin breaking free for a 68-yard score. With just over 10 minutes to play, the Giants only led 23-20.

    Once again, the Giants gained a couple of first downs. But a holding penalty on Engram and a sack pushed the Giants back and forced a punt. With five minutes to go, Washington was looking to tie or win the game. They gained 49 yards in nine plays, but on 3rd-and-10 from the New York 40-yard line, Smith threw a high pass that was tipped an intercepted by Peppers.

    The Giants’ offense could not run out the clock and Washington got the ball back at their own 28-yard line with 1:48 left to play. Two plays later, Logan Ryan intercepted Alex Smith at the Washington 30-yard line to end the game.

    Jones completed 23-of-34 passes for 212 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. He was sacked five times. His leading targets were wide receiver Sterling Shepard (6 catches for 39 yards), Engram (5 catches for 48 yards and a touchdown), and Mack (4 catches for 72 yards). Gallman rushed 14 times for 68 yards and a touchdown. Running back Alfred Morris also gained 67 yards on nine carries.

    Defensively, the Giants forced four turnovers (three interceptions and one fumble). Washington only gained 37 yards rushing on nine carries. The Giants picked up two sacks, one by defensive lineman Leonard Williams and a sack shared by defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson and cornerback Isaac Yiadom.

    Video highlights are available on Giants.com.

    PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
    Activated from the Practice Squad for this game were RB Alfred Morris, G Chad Slade (COVID-19 Replacement), and S Montre Hartage.

    Inactive for the game were RB Devonta Freeman (ankle), WR Golden Tate, TE Eric Tomlinson, OT Jackson Barton, OG Kenny Wiggins, DE R.J. McIntosh, and CB Brandon Williams.

    TE Kaden Smith left the game in the second half with a concussion.

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

    WHAT’S UP NEXT…
    Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will address the media by conference call on Monday.

    Nov 062020
     
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    Dexter Lawrence, New York Giants (October 18, 2020)

    Dexter Lawrence – © USA TODAY Sports

    Game Preview: New York Giants at Washington Football Team, November 8, 2020

    THE STORYLINE

    These two teams played less than one month ago, supplying the New York Giants with their only win to-date in the 2020 NFL season. In recent years, Washington has become New York’s “feel good” opponent, a rare bright spot in otherwise dreary seasons. That said, only a highly-questionable coaching decision to go for a failed 2-point conversion on October 18th prevented the “Football Team” from keeping the Giants winless.

    As I wrote about in last week’s preview, the Giants are still clutching defeat from the jaws of victory. Three times in the last four weeks, they have squandered 11-point leads against the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At times they have regained the lead only to see it evaporate again in a series of heart-breaking defeats. The Giants could easily be 4-4 right now. But they aren’t. And it is hard to argue against the notion that this is a team that expects to lose.

    Publicly, many of the players say they are close to turning this around. But ultimately those are just empty words until they decide collectively to make plays in the clutch on offense, defense, and special teams to win football games. This is a bottom line business.

    THE INJURY REPORT

    • RB Devonta Freeman (ankle – out)
    • WR Sterling Shepard (shoulder/toe)
    • OG Will Hernandez (COVID – out)
    • LB Blake Martinez (hamstring)
    • LB Devante Downs (shoulder)
    • CB Ryan Lewis (hamstring – placed on IR – out)
    • S Logan Ryan (hip)

    NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE

      It’s pretty much a consensus that Daniel Jones’ two interceptions and missed opportunities in passing game cost the Giants the game last week. On the flip side, he continues to tease with sometimes incredible plays to keep drives alive both with his right arm and legs. The mounting media and fan frustration with Jones is palpable. Right or wrong, the quarterback is always the target of fan venom when football teams lose. The problem for Jones is twofold: (1) he is playing in an era where there is almost zero patience level for “developing” a quarterback. “Look at so-and-so on this other team, he’s playing great in his second year!” (2) the more the Giants lose, the more likely the team is going to have a good opportunity to draft another “franchise” quarterback. Everyone is already talking about it. Daniel Jones knows it. The pressure on him to perform for multiple reasons is now immense.

      Unlike many, I still have not given up on Daniel Jones. Perhaps its a function of my age and the football era I grew up in, but I don’t think it is wise to form a definitive judgment on a quarterback in less than two seasons. Daniel Jones’ issues are not his character, work ethic, competitiveness, intelligence, athleticism, arm, or ability to make difference-making plays. As we all know, his main issue been turnovers. Jones also suffers from some deficiencies that are not abnormal for young quarterbacks such as bird-dogging primary receivers, waiting for receivers to come “open” before throwing the football, not reading what the defense is giving you, not throwing the football away instead of forcing the mistake. Can those things be fixed? Sure. Happens all of the time. Will they be fixed? Unknown. The NFL graveyard is filled with failed 1st-round quarterbacks who couldn’t do so.

      I still get the feeling that if you put Daniel Jones on a team with a respectable offensive line, an average running attack, and some decent weapons to throw to, he can develop into a very good quarterback in this league. But given we’re living in 2020, time is running out for him. He has to stop making stupid mistakes. At this point, unless the situation calls for him to take more risks, he has to be more of a game manager. Throw the football away, take the sack (while holding onto the football with two hands), don’t make that super-risky throw on 2nd down.

      Sterling Shepard is not an outstanding receiver. But he is solid, viable, professional target. Even though the injury-prone Shepard is battling a turf-toe injury that will likely nag him the rest of the season, his return has helped the offense. When you add talent the football field, it opens things up for everyone. His presence makes life a little easier for the other receivers, the running backs, and the quarterback. Breaking the 20-point barrier is a big deal for this team, and the Giants did it the last two weeks with Shepard on the field. That said, we will have to hope that Darius Slayton, Evan Engram, and Golden Tate can build upon last Monday’s performance. Those three tend to disappear. (Note: There is a chance Tate will be benched for this game due to disciplinary reasons).

      The upside to Devonta Freeman’s injury is that it forced this coaching staff to give Wayne Gallman an extended look. It’s pretty obvious that the last two coaching staffs – for whatever reason – were not enamored with him. He has eight more games to change minds.

      The performance of the offensive line against an outstanding opponent last Monday was encouraging. Most were ready to dump Nick Gates after only a few games, but the coaching staff seems to have made the right call with him. Expect growing pains but he is trending rapidly in the right direction. Andrew Thomas also settled down, but one game does not make a trend. He has to start stringing solid games together. Shane Lemieux’s NFL debut was predictably inconsistent, but encouraging. The coaches usually know best, but I’m anxious for the team to make the switch from Cam Fleming to Matt Peart. One thing to keep in mind when judging the OL this year is that they have played a series of outstanding defensive fronts almost all year.

      As for Washington, as I covered in my game preview from less than a month ago, the strength of their team is their defense. Washington has improved since these teams last met, now ranking 4th overall in defense (1st against the pass and 17th against the run). They have a bunch of 1st-round talent and are very well coached on that side of the ball. They badly mauled the Dallas Cowboys (held to a field goal) before their bye week and have had two weeks to prepare for a struggling New York team.

      The last time these two teams played, the Giants ran the ball more than they passed. They kept it conservative and it worked out (barely) for them. I expect more of the same. It can be boring, but often times boring is good.

      NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

      I strongly felt the biggest question mark on this coaching staff was Patrick Graham. It’s still very early, but my worries seem to have been misplaced. To be honest with you, I have no idea how he has this defense ranked 13th in yards allowed and 15th in points allowed, given the personnel issues at edge rusher and in the secondary. Outside of 2016, the New York Giants defense has ranked near or at the bottom of the NFL in defense with more talent. Graham has these guys playing above their level of ability. It just shows you what solid coaching can do.

      The one thing killing this defense right now, and you can tell it is eating Graham up inside, are the breakdowns at the end of each half. Yes, I keep harping on this, and I will continue to do so, because it is also a major factor in why the team is 1-7. Good defenses make the critical stop in the clutch with the game on the line. This has been an issue for the Giants for years, spanning multiple head coaches and defensive coordinators. Obviously it is related to the pass defense issues (lack of pass rush, issues in the secondary). But it’s happening each and every game. Stop the bleeding!

      Like the Giants, Washington remains a miserable offensive football teams. Washington is ranked 30th, the Giants 31st. Both teams struggle run and pass. Keep James Bradberry on wideout Terry McLaurin, cover tight end Logan Thomas, and cover the backs out of the backfield as Washington loves to dump the ball off to them. Because of the final point, it may be better to get the more athletic, younger linebackers on the field in obvious passing situations.

      The Giants are a bit banged up on defense with three linebackers on Injured Reserve (Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, Tae Crowder) and two limited in practice on a short week (Blake Martinez and Devante Downs). CB Ryan Logan is out so Isaac Yiadom is on the spot again. Logan Ryan is also dealing with a hip issue.

      NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

      The NYG return game is starting to pick up steam. The Giants have a history of big returns against Washington. This will be a close game and special teams could very well make the difference. Is this the week Jabrill Peppers finally breaks one?

      FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

      Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett on teaching Daniel Jones when to give up on a play: “I think that’s the nature of most quarterbacks. Quarterbacks who are worth their salt have a play-making instinct in them. They want the ball in their hands and they want to be the guy who’s guiding the offense but making an impact on what goes on on the field. I would say every quarterback I’ve been around who’s been a really good player has that same instinct. Over time, you learn through experience what plays you simply have to fold on, and you have to get the ball out of your hand and live for another day. Whether it’s punting on the drive or just simply going to second and 10, I think that’s an important thing to understand. The more situations you’re in, if you approach them the right way, you’ll learn from those experiences. Daniel continued to do that. Most guys I’ve been around have gone through that very similar process.”

      THE FINAL WORD

      I’m literally going to copy and past what I wrote when these two teams met less than a month ago:

      Two bad football teams with two bottom tier offenses that lack talent. This will likely be a low scoring game with the team making fewer turnovers and more plays on special teams wins the game. It will be one of those ugly games where even winning won’t feel particularly good.

      Nov 032020
       
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      Shane Lemieux and Nick Gates, New York Giants (November 2, 2020)

      Shane Lemieux and Nick Gates – © USA TODAY Sports

      Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25 – New York Giants 23

      QUICK RECAP

      Tom Brady and the New York Giants have an interesting competitive relationship. The two have faced each other 5 times in the regular season, with Brady winning 4 of them. However, the Giants will always be a team that can go to sleep at night saying they had his number because of the 2 Super Bowl losses. While those losses seem like a lifetime ago, memories return when he jogs onto the field against Big Blue. This time he did so wearing a Bucs uniform, leading the red-hot Bucs coming off their 5th win in 6 weeks, not to mention their top-ranked NFL defense. The Giants last played 11 days prior, giving them extra rest and time to prepare. As bad as this season has gone when it comes to wins and losses, the continued failure of the NFC East still had not completely shut the Giants out of the possibility of postseason play. NYG just had to win.

      The Giants, in their throwback all-white uniforms, started off on defense against Brady and a Bucs offense that scored 38+ points 3 of the past 4 games. Their initial drive did make its way into the red zone but NYG’s bend-don’t-break defense held them to a 37-yard field goal by Ryan Succop. The Giants ensuing drive ended in a punt but they did show some life on a trick-play double screen that converted a 3rd-and-11. The Giants were showing some energy and attitude, especially up front. Punter Riley Dixon pinned TB at their own 10-yard line.

      Running back Ronald Jones fumbled on the second play after a punch to the ball from Blake Martinez and it ended up in the hands of Darnay Holmes. NYG was starting with the ball on the TB 12. On 3rd and 5, Daniel Jones threw a perfect pass over the hands of TB linebacker Devin White and into the arms of Dion Lewis for a touchdown. NYG took the early 7-3 lead and then stopped TB on the next drive.

      The Giants then got themselves into field goal range but a 11-yard, third down sack pushed them too far back and they had to punt. Dixon then again pinned TB inside their own 10-yard line and the Giants defense ended the drive with a sack of their own, this one by Leonard Williams. NYG began their drive with three straight 10+ yard gains. They made their way into the red zone with under 2 minutes left in the first half. Wayne Gallman scored on a 2-yard touchdown run behind the all-rookie left side of the line and all of the sudden NYG had a double-digit lead. TB put 3 more points up on the board via a 40-yard field goal by Succop as the half came to a close. Brady is an absolute magician when it comes to putting up those overlooked but important 3 points before halftime.

      NYG began the second half with the ball but on just the second play, Jones forced a throw on 2nd-and-8 from near midfield that ended up in the hands of TB corner Carlton Davis. His turnover rate over 20 games is now approaching Ryan Leaf territory. TB turned that into 3 more points, making it 14-9. NYG still had their lead as the clock chewed into the 3rd quarter.

      Jones and the offense went three and out on the ensuing drive after Jones missed an open Sterling Shepard down the field. The opportunities that this young TB secondary were offering Jones simply couldn’t be capitalized on and it was opening the door for arguably the top quarterback of all time to mount a comeback. The door just kept on opening inch by inch for him. Thanks to a few chunk plays and a pass interference penalty on James Bradberry, TB found themselves inside the NYG 5. Brady then found Rob Gronkowski for a 3-yard touchdown to give TB its first lead since their opening drive of the game. A failed 2-point conversion attempt kept the lead at just 1.

      The Giants then pieced together a 10-play drive highlighted by a 30-yard pitch-and-catch from Jones to Evan Engram on a play eerily similar to the drop the put the nail in the coffin to the NYG loss in week 7 against the Eagles. NYG had to settle on a field goal, which Graham Gano nailed through the uprights, to grab the lead back by a score of 17-15. The 4th quarter then began with a TB 3-and-out capped by a Carter Coughlin sack, the first of his career.

      NYG breached midfield and started to work its way into TB territory but Jones second interception of the night took the wind out of the sails. It was another forced throw on 2nd down after not seeing the open man and with a defender preventing him from throwing a quality ball. TB then took that turnover and created 7 points off of it via a touchdown from Brady to Mike Evans, who the Giants had kept quiet up until this point. NYG responded with a 3-and-out as the NYG offensive line, which had been putting forth an admirable effort, began to fall apart as the TB defensive coordinator started to blitz on seemingly every play.

      TB then put another 3 points on the board via a 38-yard field goal to give the road team a 8-point lead with under 4 minutes left. NYG had enough time to put together a drive in an effort to tie the game up, but they had used all of their timeouts. They used 13 plays, the longest drive of the game, to put 6 more points on the board as the game was coming to a close. It was a drive that included two 4th-down conversions, both of which were very low probability plays. Jones was evading pressure on nearly every drop back and he made a downright perfect throw to Golden Tate, who made a high-level catch in the back of the end zone. NYG was within 2 points but a late throw to Dion Lewis on the two-point conversion attempt and a questionable non-pass interference call by the refs kept NYG just short. Their third loss in 4 games  by a combined total of 6 points left NYG frustratingly walking off the field with yet another “almost” feeling.

      NYG loses 25-23.

      QUARTERBACK

      -Daniel Jones: 25-41 / 256 yards / 2 TD – 2 INT / 74.8 RAT

      One look at the box score, and possibly a look at the highlight reel, and one may come to the conclusion once again that “Jones wasn’t that bad.” I am on the other side. Jones’ performance in this game was much worse than the stat line (which isn’t strong) and the loss needs to be put on his shoulders. The two interceptions, both 2nd down throws that should have never been attempted, were the catalyst for the loss. TB turned those second half turnovers into 10 points. Beyond that, Jones did not see what the TB defense was giving him. He had multiple downfield receivers wide open on drives that would have likely ended in points for the team. I’m not talking about small windows here; I really mean wide open. Even though we have seen worse-stat lines, I really do think this may have been one of the worst games we have seen out of him, all things considered. His deep ball success rate was incredibly low, his throw on the 2-point conversion was a second too late on a play that most QBs can make in their sleep, and he just isn’t grasping simple concepts.

      RUNNING BACK

      Wayne Gallman: 12 att / 44 yards and 1 rec / 18 yards.

      Really impressive game by Gallman who was up against one of the top run defenses in football, while running behind the worst-graded offensive line in the NFL. Gallman ran hard and decisively up the middle and came up with multiple big gains. He also had 12-yarder nullified by a bogus holding penalty called on Kevin Zeitler. 62 yards and a touchdown on 13 touches. Considering the circumstances, it was a nice job by a back who doesn’t seem to have the staff’s full confidence just yet.

      -Alfred Morris and Dion Lewis saw 21 plays each (28% of the snaps). Morris gained 28 yards on 8 carries and Lewis caught 2 passes, one of which was a touchdown. Lewis did allow a sack and a pressure, as he struggled to maintain contact after the initial pop as TB kept on blitzing over and over.

      WIDE RECEIVER

      -Sterling Shepard led the team with 8 catches and 74 yards on 10 targets. Jones missed him downfield on a 3rd down where he got open via quality route running, as he normally does, but he just didn’t have the gear or ball skills to reach it. Shepard isn’t and won’t ever be a downfield threat for multiple reasons. He is a limited slot guy, which makes it hard to accept NYG signing him to that long-term extension last year.

      -Darius Slayton caught 5 passes for 56 yards including a 4th down conversion where he made a huge play after the catch. Had the Giants won this game, Slayton would have been a focal point because of that very play. He was also missed on multiple occasions by Jones downfield. His deep route running, when he gets beyond the jam by the corner, is some of the best I see on a weekly basis in the NFL. If Jones got his act together, we may be talking about one of the best young pass catchers in the game and I mean that.

      -Golden Tate was only targeted 3 times. He came up with 2 key catches, the second being a brilliant touchdown reception with :30 left in the game that got NYG within 2. After that catch he yelled out, “Throw me the ball” for what it’s worth.

      TIGHT END

      -Evan Engram was also targeted 10 times to share the lead with Shepard. He caught 5 of them for 61 yards, including a 30-yarder. He also gained 9 yards on a reverse carry which now seems to be a weekly fix for the NYG offensive play-calling. Engram did have a drop late in the game that didn’t have a huge impact. As a blocker, he allowed 1 TFL but also made 2 key blocks on a long Gallman gain and a 1st-down Alfred Morris carry.

      -Backups Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo have left a lot to be desired in the blocking game, respectively. Smith allowed a TFL and Toilolo allowed a pressure. They didn’t get enough push when NYG tried to run to the outside and the speedy TB linebackers undercut their angles a couple times. These guys are paid to block and neither are doing a good job.

      OFFENSIVE LINE

      -Overall, this unit put together their best performance of the year. The 4th quarter was a complete nightmare but that had a lot to do with Todd Bowles complex and overly-aggressive blitzing scheme.

      -Andrew Thomas allowed 1 sack but I didn’t have him down for any pressures. On that sack, Jones ran right into the man because of pressure coming from the other side. He still didn’t look good on several of his pass protection sets with the over-reaching and lack of sustaining when defenders moved laterally, but it was a step in the right direction. On the other side, Cameron Fleming saw most of the time at right tackle and received the worst grade on the line. He allowed 3 pressures and a sack. One of his pressures led to a Jones interception and another pressure led to a sack on the other side. Matt Peart saw limited time as the coaching staff continues to sprinkle him in. I think he will be starting at RT after the bye week.

      -Shane Lemieux got the start at left guard, as Will Hernandez missed the game after testing positive for Covid-19. It was a solid effort that gives NYG encouraging signs for the future. He stayed within his techniques for the most part, he got solid initial contact, and he wasn’t fooled by the blitzing packages outside of one miss. The one issue I saw over and over was a lack of anchor and sustainability. That usually stems from lack of power and strength and will likely improve over time. His second half was worse than the first and he allowed 3 total pressures and was flagged for a false start. It wasn’t a good game-grade but for a first timer who was drafted in the 5th round, there were enough positives.

      -Nick Gates and Kevin Zeitler each did a nice job inside. They were both called for holding penalties that I thought were poor calls and they both allowed 1 pressure. For a defense that was sending the house as much as you will ever see in a game, I thought these two did a nice job of adjusting and handing off defenders. Not an easy thing to do. Gates continues to be the bright spot of the offensive line. I am leaning towards him being a credible long-term answer whether he stays at center or moves to guard.

      EDGE

      -Kyler Fackrell and the newly-signed Jabaal Sheard were completely neutralized by the TB tackles. They combined for 1 tackle and neither recorded a pressure. Ouch. The lack of true, dependable edge talent is such a vital missing piece on this defense.

      -Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin both only saw 4 snaps. Coughlin recorded a sack and Brown was right there as well on the same play. I understand these guys need to earn their playing time and they want to bring them along slowly, but I really need to see these guys get more snaps after the bye week. We don’t need to see Sheard playing half of the snaps.

      DT

      -Really impressive performances by Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson. Williams had 4 tackles and a sack on a key 3rd down stop. He also added 2 more pressures and a QB hit. Tomlinson was such a weapon against the TB rushing attack that saw their running backs gain just over 3 yards per carry. He had 3 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 pressure, and a QB hit. His 3rd-and-1 stop in the fourth quarter was huge. Tomlinson also tipped the pass that caused Ronald Jones to somewhat mis-catch a ball that eventually led to an easy forced fumble by Blake Martinez. That was an overlooked portion of that key play.

      -B.J. Hill and Dexter Lawrence did a lot of dirty work and also combined for 7 tackles. Neither made an impact against the pass.

      LB

      -Really solid game by Mr. Automatic. He had 9 tackles, 1 pressure, 1 TFL, and a forced fumble. Rarely fooled, always near the action, and a solid finisher. Really solid player and one of the top free agent signings across the league.

      -David Mayo has officially taken over the second ILB role. He played 50% of the snaps while Devante Downs played 20%. They combined for 4 tackles and neither were challenged much in the passing game.

      CB

      -James Bradberry has been Mike Evans’ kryptonite. He has been facing him twice per year dating back to his days in Carolina, and this one wasn’t much different. Evans did end up with 5 catches and a touchdown though (first TD catch vs Bradberry since 2016) and Bradberry was flagged for 2 pass interference penalties.

      -Isaac Yiadom got another shot at being the number 2 corner on this defense and he put in a solid performance. He had 8 tackles and a pass break up. He was called for a key personal foul which was also a poor call by the refs. He allowed two 3rd-down catches but this was the best we have seen out of him this year.

      -Darnay Holmes had 4 tackles and a fumble recovery. I like the way he is moving right now as he just seems to understand the schemes on both sides of the ball. Brady was looking in his direction on the first sack and I think that was a key part of the Williams’ take down.

      S

      Outstanding game by Jabrill Peppers. He was flying all over the place and making his presence known. He led the team with 10 tackles and he had 2 nice pass break ups, one of which was on 3rd down. They did take him off of the field on specific passing situations, which I am fine with. This defense does a nice job of rotating guys in and out and when you can hide Peppers’ issues, his standout plays simply mean more. Really good effort by him in this one.

      -Logan Ryan saw almost all of his snaps at safety as Julian Love continues to see his playing time go up and down. Ryan had 3 tackles and 2 misses while Love added 2 tackles of his own. Both did well defending the deep routes.

      SPECIAL TEAMS

      -K Graham Gano: 1/1 (Made 33)

      -P Riley Dixon: 4 punts / 36.0 avg / 36.0 net

      -Dion Lewis and Jabrill Peppers both had nice returns to improve NYG’s field position. Lewis had a 44 yarder on the opening kick of the second half.

      3 STUDS

      -S Jabrill Peppers, RB Wayne Gallman, DT Dalvin Tomlinson

      3 DUDS

      -QB Daniel Jones, OT Cameron Fleming, Kyler Fackrell

      3 THOUGHTS ON TB

      1. Prior to the season, I picked TB to win the NFC and we are pretty much at the halfway point now. I still feel the same way, they have so much going for them. Their young talent from the previous few drafts is really developing, their high-priced veterans are healthy and delivering, and they have the QB. I think they are going to win this conference.
      1. How different is this Bucs team from a year ago? Not that much, to be honest. In 2019 they had the best run defense in the NFL but their pass defense was young and shaky. However they had a decent enough pass rush to somewhat make up for it. In 2020, they still have the number one run defense but their young secondary is improving. In 2019, the offense ranked 3rd in the NFL and in 2020 they actually rank 10th. The biggest difference? Their QB isn’t leading the league in turnovers. That can easily be worth 8-9 games in a season. Yes, that much.
      1. You are going to hear Byron Leftwich’s name in the coming years as a hot Head Coach candidate. I’m not going to act like I know whether or not he can be successful in that role but please do not use the 2020 Bucs offensive success as a reason. One, it is mostly Arians when it comes to the coaching. Two, Adam Gase was a hot head coaching name after he worked with Peyton Manning. This is all about the QB and maybe some Bruce Arians. Don’t make the mistake of putting this success on Leftwich’s trophy mantle.

      3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

      1. Last week I spoke about Evan Engram not being dependable week to week when it comes to catching the ball. He is uber-talented and he can be a huge difference maker in this league. However, I don’t want a key part of my receiving arsenal to have issues catching the ball. I feel the same way about a quarterback and turnovers. You can look great here and look great there. You can throw dimes weekly, you can make plays with your legs. However, if you turn the ball over a lot (AKA lead the league), I want nothing to do with you. There are 8 games left for Jones to prove himself, or at least I (not important I know) will go into the 2021 pre-Draft process looking for the next QB.
      1. The Giants pass rush has been improving steadily. The most impressive part? They don’t have a lot of quality pass rushers. Leonard Williams is good from the interior and Dalvin Tomlinson can beat one-on-one blocking. However, they haven’t had anyone on the outside worth a second look especially since Lorenzo Carter went down. That in mind, they rank top 10 in sack percentage and pressure percentage. How? Patrick Graham is scheming creative packages both with and without blitzing. This coaching staff has been impressive on multiple levels but I think this is the most notable improvement. If they get their hands on a pure edge guy or two, watch out.
      1. The Giants have the Redskins and Eagles coming up before their bye week. If you are a “there is still a chance”-type fan, these 2 games are vital. Not one of them, but both. The division looks like it belongs to the Eagles but I’ve seen all but one of their games this year and there is no doubt in my mind they could end up with 7 or less wins. They are broken on a couple levels but Carson Wentz looks like he is morphing into Sam Darnold right now. If he doesn’t get better, that team could lose over and over and over. NYG’s most recent three losses are by a combined 6 points. They are right there, they are competitive. If the QB picks it up, they can make things interesting still.
      Nov 032020
       
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      Dion Lewis, New York Giants (November 2, 2020)

      Dion Lewis – © USA TODAY Sports

      TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 25 – NEW YORK GIANTS 23…
      The New York Giants lost another heart breaker on Monday night, losing 25-23 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With the loss, the Giants fell to 1-7 for the third time in the past four seasons. It was the third game in the last four where the Giants lost despite holding an 11-point lead against a favored opponent. Five of the team’s seven losses have been decided late in the game.

      Two interceptions by quarterback Daniel Jones were instrumental in the defeat as the overall team statistics were evenly matched. The Buccaneers won the turnover margin 2-1.

      Tampa Bay began the game on offense and drove 57 yards in 11 plays to set up a 37-yard field goal and a quick 3-0 lead. The Giants picked up two first downs on their first possession but were forced to punt. However two plays later, linebacker Blake Martinez forced a fumble that cornerback Darnay Holmes recovered at the Buccaneers 12-yard line. On 3rd-and-5, Jones threw a perfect pass to running back Dion Lewis for a 7-yard touchdown. The Giants led 7-3.

      After two punts by Tampa Bay and one by New York, the Giants drove 77 yards in 10 plays later in the 2nd quarter, culminating with a 2-yard touchdown run by running back Wayne Gallman to give the Giants a 14-3 lead with 1:46 left in the first half. Once again, however, the Giants defense allowed points late in a half as the Buccaneers gained 53 yards in eight plays to set up a 40-yard field goal. Safety Logan Ryan made a sure tackle on 3rd-and-2 to prevent Tampa Bay from possibly finishing the possession with a touchdown.

      At the half, the Giants led 14-6.

      Dion Lewis returned the opening kickoff of the second half to the New York 44-yard line, but two plays later, Jones threw a bad interception that gave Tampa Bay the ball on their own 42-yard line. The Bucs then drove 34 yards in 10 plays to set up a 43-yard field goal. Giants 14 – Buccaneers 9. After a three-and-out by the Giants, Tampa Bay went ahead for the first time with a 5-play, 67-yard drive that culminated with a 3-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tom Brady to tight end Rob Gronkowski. The 2-point conversion attempt failed and the Bucs led 15-14.

      The Giants responded with a 10-play, 56-yard drive that unfortunately stalled inside the red zone. Still, place kicker Graham Gano’s 33-yard field goal regained the lead for the Giants, 17-15 near the end of the 3rd quarter.

      The Giants defense, which played well most of the night, forced a three-and-out. Then came Jones’ second killer interception, turning the ball over at the Buccaneers 34-yard line. Aided by a questionable lowering the head to initiate contact penalty on cornerback Isaac Yiadom, Tampa Bay followed this turnover up with a 6-play, 66-yard drive, that ended with Brady’s second touchdown throw. Buccaneers 22 – Giants 17.

      After a three-and-out by New York, the Buccaneers extended their lead to 25-17. Tampa Bay drove 47 yards in eight plays, setting up a 38-yard field goal with less than four minutes to play.

      Down by eight points, the Giants began their last desperate drive at their own 30-yard line. Under heavy pressure, Jones miraculously converted a 4th-and-5 play for 12 yards to wide receiver Darius Slayton. Jones followed that up with a 15-yard scramble on 2nd-and-15. On 4th-and-16 from near midfield, Jones then completed a 20-yard pass to wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Three plays later, he found Tate for a 19-yard score with 28 seconds left in the game. Needing two points to tie the game, the conversion failed (the officials picked up a pass interference flag on the defense). Tampa recovered the onsides kick.

      Jones completed 25-of-41 passes for 256 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. He also ran three times for 20 yards. His leading receivers were Shepard (8 catches for 74 yards), tight end Evan Engram (5 catches for 61 yards), and Slayton (5 catches for 56 yards). Gallman rushed for 44 yards on 12 carries and running back Alfred Morris chipped in with 28 yards on eight carries.

      The defense held the Buccaneers to 344 total net yards (81 yards rushing, 263 yards passing) and forced one turnover. Defensive lineman Leonard Williams and linebacker Carter Coughlin each sacked Brady.

      Video highlights are available on Giants.com.

      PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
      Activated from the Practice Squad for this game were RB Alfred Morris, G Chad Slade (COVID-19 Replacement), and S Montre Hartage.

      Inactive for the game were RB Devonta Freeman (ankle), WR C.J. Board (concussion), CB Ryan Lewis (hamstring), S Adrian Colbert (shoulder), TE Eric Tomlinson, OT Jackson Barton, and DE R.J. McIntosh.

      No injuries were reported.

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

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

      Oct 312020
       
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      Joe Judge, New York Giants (September 14, 2020)

      Joe Judge – © USA TODAY Sports

      Game Preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants, November 2, 2020

      THE STORYLINE

      When Big Blue Interactive began back in 1995 (originally lamely called the “Big Blue Home Page”), the New York Giants were embarking on painful 5-11 season. Nine times in that season, the Giants had a chance to tie or take the lead late in the 4th quarter. The team only scored once in those nine chances. Five games ended on the final play of the contest with the Giants winning only one of those. The team’s highlight tape that season was aptly called “So Close, Yet So Far.”

      Back in those days, a quarter of a century ago, the small BBI audience was divided into those fans who called themselves “optimists” and those who called themselves “realists” (aka “pessimists). Those optimist versus realist arguments were the lifeblood of the site in its early days.

      The defense had some talent (very young players such as Michael Strahan, Jessie Armstead, Jason Sehorn, and Phillippi Sparks) but was saddled with a frustrating, plodding offense led by Dave Brown, Rodney Hampton, Chris Calloway, and Howard Cross.

      Coming off a 9-7 season, fans were very optimistic coming into the season until the Giants got blasted in the opening game 35-0 by the Cowboys. The game was even worse than the final score. It was a huge wake-up call. But despite that, Giants fans felt their team had a chance to win each and every week. And as mentioned, they nearly did, being in almost every single game right up to the final gun. The Giants should even have upset the eventual Super Bowl Champion Cowboys in Dallas in Week 16, but lost a last-second heart-breaker there too.

      In many ways, despite the numerous personnel flaws on that team (starting with the quarterback), the 1995 New York Giants were a better team than its 2020 counterpart. The defense had more talent at all three levels. The offensive line (Jumbo Elliott, Brian Williams, Lance Smith, Doug Riesenberg, Greg Bishop) was much stronger. The running backs were Hampton, Tyrone Wheatley, Charles Way, and Herschel Walker. The receivers were not a strong group but still had Mike Sherrard, Calloway, and Arthur Marshall. The tight ends were an unspectacular group but they could block (Cross, Brian Kozlowski, Aaron Pierce).

      For the past three seasons, I keep reading the same responses to my game previews: “That was depressing!” It is not my intent to be depressing. Hell, I was one of the original “optimists” who used to lock horns with the “realists” on a day to day basis. It would also not be a good business model for me to intentionally depress my customers. But my credibility would be completely shot if I did not interject some “realism” into the conversation about this team. Some of you may have caught my dramatic change in tone as soon as Saquon Barkley was lost for the season with a potentially career-altering injury. Yes, I feel strongly he was that important to ability of this team to compete and win under the new coaching staff. His loss was catastrophic. With him, the Giants probably had a good chance to win the pathetic NFC East. Without him, they will have trouble staying out of the basement.

      The 2020 New York Giants have TWO major  problems:

      (1) Lack of talent. I’ve repeatedly mentioned my concerns at running back (with Barkley out), wide receiver, and tight end in addition to the growing pains on the offensive line on the offensive side of the ball. The 2019 defensive back class for the team (3 picks) now looks like a disaster and the defensive backfield is suffering because of it. The Giants obviously lack a premier edge rusher too.

      (2) Lack of confidence. Losing is something you can get used to, and you can start to expect it. You can actually train your brain to lose and become a “loser.” There really isn’t a major talent difference between the 80 percent of the teams in the NFL. Those who expect to win have a major advantage over those who don’t. There is no other explanation for largely average Eagles and Cowboys to own the Giants for almost the past decade. Even when the games were tight, in the end, the Giants made the loser’s mistake because they expected to lose. You know it because you could feel it too.

      We know how to fix problem #1. Get better players. Problem #2 is far more difficult. Coach Judge could have made substantial inroads into turning the mentality of the team around had the Giants beat the Cowboys and Eagles in the past few weeks. But they didn’t. And the team has one win and confidence remains in the toilet. I can’t overemphasize the opportunity that was lost here. In real terms, “leading” the NFC East at 3-4 would have been a joke. But in terms of overall confidence, the needle would have been pointing in the right direction. The mindset would have begun to change. Instead, the Giants blew it.

      I’m not sure where the team goes from here. The last nine games should be very telling.

      THE INJURY REPORT

      • RB Devonta Freeman (ankle – out)
      • WR Sterling Shepard (shoulder/toe)
      • WR C.J. Board (concussion – questionable)
      • OG Will Hernandez (positive COVID test – out)
      • CB Darnay Holmes (neck)
      • CB Ryan Lewis (hamstring – doubtful)
      • S Adrian Colbert (shoulder – out)

      FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

      Head Coach Joe Judge on turning the team’s confidence around: “I’m going to be honest with you, I’m not a huge believer in that to begin with. In terms of does one game affect another game, I don’t really think so. I think you have to show up and whether you won last week or lost last week, it’s about what you do preparing this week and how you execute on the field for 60 minutes. That’s going to dictate the results of that game. I respect the question, I understand exactly where you’re coming from. My personal mindset and philosophy doesn’t really tie too much into how one game affects another one.”

      THE FINAL WORD

      The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 5-2. The New York Giants are 1-6. The Bucs dramatically lead the NFL with +80 point differential. In other words, they are not just beating teams, they are blowing them out. The 1995 Giants would have kept this game close, but the I doubt the 2020 version will.

      My focus remains on Daniel Jones, Andrew Thomas, Nick Gates, Matt Peart, Shane Lemieux, and Darius Slayton. Fingers crossed on all of these players.

      Oct 252020
       
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      Wayne Gallman, New York Giants (October 22, 2020)

      Wayne Gallman – © USA TODAY Sports

      Philadelphia Eagles 22 – New York Giants 21

      QUICK RECAP

      Over the past decade, there haven’t been many team-to-team match-ups that are as one-sided as NYG vs PHI. To say the Eagles have had the Giants’ number would be an understatement worthy of laughter. No matter who the quarterbacks are, no matter who the head coaches are, NYG has been seeing PHI in their nightmares. In fact, the last time the Giants beat the Donovan McNabb-led Eagles in consecutive match-ups was 2008. Brandon Jacobs led the team in rushing, Kevin Boss led the team in receiving, Antonio Pierce led the team in tackles, Corey Webster led the team in pass break ups, and Eli Manning was 27 years old. A lifetime ago. Despite that history and the fact that NYG came into this Thursday Night game with a 1-5 record, there was some hope and extra energy. The NFC East was crumbling, and the Giants were coming off a win against Washington. Had they won this one, they had a credible shot at being tied for first place in the division by the end of week 7. This had a “big-game” feel to it and the Eagles entered the night as arguably the most banged-up team in the NFL.

      The aggressive Eagles’ offense had their downfield weapon and Giants killer, DeSean Jackson, back in the lineup. They went to him on the first two plays of the game as they marched down the field. They converted a 4th-and-1 attempt en route, as PHI leads the league in 4th-down attempts since Doug Pederson became their head coach in 2016. Carson Wentz powered his way into the end zone on a 1-yard run to put the home team up early.

      The first blunder of the night occurred as the NYG punt team came onto the field following their initial offensive drive. They kept the offense on the field for 4th-and-3 before making the switch to punt at the last moment. PHI was scrambling as they tried to hurry and get their punt return team on the field as the defense darted off. They left the NYG gunner, Corey Ballentine, uncovered. He was, literally, all by himself with nobody between him and the first down marker. Punter Riley Dixon noticed, somehow Ballentine didn’t. The ball was snapped, and Dixon had no choice but to boot the ball back to PHI. An enormous missed opportunity! Winning teams capitalize on mistakes made by opponents. It is one of the simplest, basic, and everlasting components to the game. NYG isn’t there yet.

      PHI went 3-and-out on the next drive and thanks to a 14-yard punt return, NYG began with the ball at the PHI 39. If you have paid attention to Jason Garrett’s tendencies while with DAL, this is a part of the field he loves to get aggressive on first down. On the first play, Jones threw a dime just over the head of the Eagles’ defender into the hands of Golden Tate, who made a strong catch and broke the tackle to easily jog into the end zone. NYG tied it up. The lead didn’t last long, as PHI used an inch-by-inch, foot-by-foot approach with the screen game being featured numerous times to put up another 3 points via a 31-yard field goal by Jake Elliott.

      Daniel Jones got the Giants to midfield on the next drive, as the game plan was clearly heavy on getting the ball to Evan Engram. They were handing the ball off to him and they were throwing to him often in the passing game. On this 8-play drive, Engram was targeted four times, possibly one too many. PHI showed an aggressive double inside gap blitz on 3rd-and-7 and Jones took the shotgun snap and wanted to get rid of it in a hurry. He rifled the ball to Engram, with maybe too much juice on it, and Engram was slow to get his head around and just couldn’t grab the ball in time. It deflected off his hands and was intercepted by Jalen Mills. Turnover number 9 on the year for the second-year quarterback.

      PHI failed to take advantage of the interception, as Carson Wentz threw one back to NYG on an ill-timed decision. James Bradberry came down with his third interception of the season and his second in as many games. Only two players in the league have more interceptions than Bradberry, a fantastic free agent signing for this team and maybe one of the best in the NFL this past offseason.

      The two offenses traded possessions before NYG had one more shot with just under a minute left in the first half starting at their own 35. On Dion Lewis’ first touch of the game, he fumbled and gave PHI the ball at the 42. The third turnover in 5 drives reminded everyone watching what exactly the NFC East was in 2020. PHI got the ball close enough to take three shots at the end zone but had to settle on a 29-yard field goal attempt. Elliott lined up and missed it. An ugly second quarter was over with PHI up 10-7.

      The two teams traded 4 straight three-and-outs to start the second half. NYG then started to take over. Daniel Jones dashed 80 yards before getting tripped by the turf. He was heading toward the end zone but lost his balance and fell. They ended up scoring a touchdown on a 1-yard Wayne Gallman run so this can now be laughed at. Even the best athletes in the world have the occasional slip up but NYG needed 4 plays and a PHI pass interference to get the 8 yards needed for the score. Had they not punched it in, this would have been the poster-play that sums up current state of the Giants organization.

      NYG stopped PHI two more times as the Eagles offense was stalling. Already up 4, NYG put together a 15-play drive that began at the PHI 3-yard line after PHI failed on a 4th-and-goal attempt. PHI helped out with a 3rd-down pass interference and a too-late challenge by Pederson that would have went in their favor. Jones ended up hitting Sterling Shepard on a zip-line 2-yard pass to put NYG up 21-10 with just over 6 minutes left against an offense that looked completely broken. They were without multiple receivers, their starting running back, multiple offensive linemen, and their top two tight ends. It then took just over 1:30 for PHI to score a touchdown, a 3-yard pass to Greg Ward. A failed two-point conversion attempt maintained the NYG lead at 21-16, however. PHI would need a defensive stop and a touchdown in the final 5 minutes to win this one.

      NYG gained 27 yards on their first three plays, all Gallman runs. On 3rd-and-7, Jones dropped back and threw one downfield to Engram. Many have been banging the table for more downfield passes to the gifted Engram, one of the top athletes in the NFL at the position and the most-targeted pass catcher of the night. They had the match-up and space they wanted. The throw was on the money. Engram reached out his arms and hands but dropped it. The clock stopped, it was 4th down, and NYG had to punt.

      PHI needed 71 yards with just over 2:00 left. They got 53 of those yards on three plays using their third string tight end and backup running back. They were inside the NYG 10-yard line just like that. A face mask penalty pushed PHI back to the 18-yard line which may have ended up hurting the NYG defense more because they struggled to defend space. On the next play, Wentz hit Boston Scott on a top shelf throw just over the hands of Jabrill Peppers. PHI was up 22-21. They failed the two-point conversion attempt again, as NYG continued to defend short spaces well, and there was 40 seconds left but NYG didn’t have a timeout.

      NYG got the ball to their own 32 on the first play but Will Hernandez was called for a hold. Instead of 2nd-and-3 from the 32, it was 1st-and-25 from the 15 and they had used 6 seconds. Two plays later Jones was sacked for the third time on the night and fumbled, giving the ball back to PHI. His third lost fumble of the season and 10th turnover.

      NYG loses 22-21.

      QUARTERBACK

      -Daniel Jones: 20-30 / 187 yards / 2 TD-1 INT / 91.9 RAT

      Jones added 92 yards on 4 carries, including 80 of them on one run that will be on blooper reels for years to come. He also added a lost fumble on the final NYG offensive play. Another game, another performance where we saw some really good things and some really bad things. The Jones apologists will say that Engram should have caught the pass that was intercepted and the fumble at the end of the game didn’t matter because there was little to no chance of them advancing the ball far enough for a game-winning field goal attempt. The haters will simply add them to his massive career turnover total. This is the deal; the pass on that interception had too much on it because Jones thought pressure was coming before it was actually coming. I do think Engram could have turned his head sooner but very few, if any, players are catching that ball. I keep saying we need to see Jones make improvements with his ball security. The fumble at the end of the game, albeit it did not directly lose NYG the game, further strengthens this is an enormous problem that can prevent NYG from winning when the roster is better. He made a few nice throws, he made some athletic plays, but he isn’t putting it all together yet.

      RUNNING BACK

      -Wayne Gallman: 10 att / 34 yards / 1 TD and 5 rec / 20 yards

      Devonta Freeman suffered an ankle injury and Gallman was the one who took over in the backfield. All 10 of his carries were from the 3rd quarter on. Gallman’s stat line isn’t overly impressive but he was a big part of the NYG offensive “surge.” He ran the ball really well and gained several yards after contact. He has been a better back than advertised despite limited opportunities and unfortunate team circumstances. With Dion Lewis’ fumble and overall lack of impact here, I expect Gallman to get more and more touches in future games.

      WIDE RECEIVER

      -Sterling Shepard: 6 rec / 59 yards / 1 TD

      It was Shepard’s first game back since Week 2 on September 20th. He looked quick and shifty from the slot and came up with a few key grabs, including a 2-yard touchdown in the 4th quarter that put NYG up by 11. It is easy to forget the gap between Shepard and his replacements until you see him back out on the field after missing a few games. He is a really explosive short-route runner who can consistently gain separation. While he is limited and can now be labeled an injury prone player, he is a key piece to this offense moving forward.

      -Golden Tate had just 1 catch, which was a 39-yard touchdown. It was an impressive play on the ball but don’t let it cloud the fact he went the rest of the game without an impact. Not what you want from a starting outside receiver who has the third-highest cap number on the team. Speaking of no impact, Darius Slayton finished with 2 catches for 23 yards on 4 targets. PHI corner Darius Slay handled him well for the majority of the night.

      TIGHT END

      Evan Engram: 6 rec / 46 yards and 2 att / 3 yards

      It was clear that Jason Garrett wanted to make Engram the key focus of this game. He led the team with 9 targets and the Giants continue to try to get him the ball in space via outside runs. It is hard to ignore Engram’s potential impact with his size/speed/explosion combination that very few have. However, his greatest weakness in the passing game from day one has been his inconsistent hands. He had 7 drops as a rookie and it appears to have become a mental block. This was not an issue in college, I scouted him thoroughly. He has 5 drops this year, and it is near a point where you almost have to give up on him because of it. Pass catchers can be slower than ideal, you can work around it. Pass catchers can be shorter than ideal, you can work around it. However, if you don’t catch the ball consistently you cannot be focal point in a good offense. End of discussion.

      OFFENSIVE LINE

      -We have seen some shaky performances from Andrew Thomas and this one may have been the worst. We can only hope that this is the low point of his rookie year. He allowed 2 sacks, 3 pressures, and a TFL. The league is attacking his inside shoulder on a weekly basis, and he needs to clean that up right now. The quickest route to the QB from the edge position is through the inside shoulder of the tackle. You have to protect that first, then protect the edge. He is over setting and playing too top heavy. He has a lot of work to do on his pass protection.

      -Will Hernandez had a tough game against a really tough match-up. He allowed a TFL and a pressure and was also flagged for a hold on the final drive that really stung because of how ill-timed it was. Lateral movement just doesn’t come natural for him. Kevin Zeitler finished with his top grade of the season, which isn’t saying much. However, it was encouraging to see him play well on short rest against a tough opponent. He did allow a TFL, though.

      -Cameron Fleming allowed a TFL and a sack. Not much to say here other than I still think his days are numbered as a starter. I do wonder if there is a trade market for him out there. There are a few contenders that are really thin at tackle and I did hear there was a long list of suitors who wanted him as their swing tackle prior to signing with NYG.

      -Center Nick Gates was really good in this game. He has been evolving weekly and may be the best lineman on this team at the current moment. This was against a really tough PHI interior defensive line. He is the one guy who is constantly chasing the action downfield looking for a defender to pick off. Love the hustle and love the production he had in this one.

      EDGE

      -Kyler Fackrell is now in this position group as opposed to the linebackers. It looks like he has made the full time move to the outside. He had 3 tackles and 2 pressures to go along with 1 missed tackle. His ability to move inside and out is really special and rare, to be honest. There really aren’t many players in the league who can handle that kind of back-and-forth move. While we aren’t talking about an elite talent, his role is really important and hard to find. When looking at the draft prospects, I am constantly trying to find a credible skill set comparable to this and it doesn’t come around often.

      -Markus Golden had a 1 sack and 1 pressure and was promptly traded to ARI the day after. Even though NYG could not afford to lose any more EDGE talent, Golden wasn’t an ideal fit and he won’t be a long-term fix. I am actually impressed that NYG netted a 6th round pick for him. The Cardinals really needed talent at that spot with the loss of Chandler Jones, though.

      -Cam Brown played a career high 12 snaps and didn’t make an impact but his movement and size stand out. With the Golden trade now in the rear-view mirror, expect him to start seeing more and more snaps. That will be fun to watch.

      DEFENSIVE TACKLE

      -One thing that has bothered me is how often this group gets blown up. I think Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham is sending them on a lot of designed slants, and depending on what the play call is, they get completely washed out. The Eagles offensive line was playing multiple practice squad-caliber guys and they still held their own against a NYG line that is supposed to be the strong point of this team. The match-up just didn’t swing in the Giants’ direction the way I was expecting.

      -Leonard Williams finished with the top grade among the DL with 2 pressures and 1 tackle. He caused a lot of re-directing in the PHI running game. Dalvin Tomlinson had 3 tackles and a pressure in addition to a pass break up. He had a bad missed tackle however and was completely pushed down the field twice that opened up big running lanes. Dexter Lawrence had a tackle, a sack, and a pressure. B.J. Hill had 3 tackles and a sack that was negated by a NYG penalty. Lastly, Austin Johnson had 1 pressure and 1 tackle.

      LINEBACKER

      -Mr. Reliable Blake Martinez led the team in tackles yet again, this time with 9. He also added 2 pressures and a pass break up. Don’t take his play for granted simply because it happens every week. He is playing at such a high level.

      -Devante Downs got the start even though David Mayo was back. He finished with 5 tackles and a pressure that led to an intentional grounding penalty early in the game. For a guy who has struggled so far this year, it was his best performance. Mayo was on the field for just 10% of the defensive snaps and finished with 2 tackles, 1 of which was on special teams. I think this job will belong to Downs for the time being.

      CORNERBACK

      -This group struggled overall. James Bradberry did haul in his 3rd interception of the season on a nicely played ball in the end zone. I was actually curious to see if he could handle DeSean Jackson because of the shifty speed he brings to the table. Bradberry excels against bigger receivers who don’t get in and out of breaks as well. Jackson did catch passes of 12 and 9 yards on the first drive of the game, but was held pretty quiet after that until injured. Bradberry did miss a tackle and was flagged for a pass interference on the PHI game winning drive.

      -For the second week in a row, Ryan Lewis was torched down the field late in the game. He also got flagged for an illegal contact penalty. Teams will now test him more and more down the field.

      -Corey Ballentine allowed a 3rd-and-10 conversion early on. He played under 20% of the snaps and I think he needs to start getting phased out of this defense. He just isn’t playing well and he doesn’t seem to mentally grasp the speed of this game. Speaking of mental gaffes, the mistake of not realizing he was uncovered on the NYG punt was an enormous missed opportunity that could have really changed the complexion of this game. Ballentine was also responsible for a 15-yard illegal hit penalty on the punt before the game-winning drive by PHI.

      -Madre Harper, an undrafted rookie from the Raiders, saw a lot of playing time late and was promptly torched by the PHI passing game. In addition, he was flagged twice.

      SAFETY

      -Logan Ryan had a really solid game, as it looks like he played more safety than corner in this one. He had 2 pressures and a pass break up in the end zone. His biggest mistake, however, was a holding penalty on 3rd-and-goal from the 5-yard line on the final PHI drive. It gave them new life and two plays later they scored the game-winning touchdown. Awful timing on what was really his lone glaring mistake.

      -Jabrill Peppers has minimal football sense. First of all, he fair caught two punts where he had 10+ yards of open space in front of him. Secondly, his man coverage of Boston Scott on the game- winning touchdown throw was atrocious. He came too hard downhill, knowing he didn’t have any help behind him against a back who accelerates quickly in a situation where you knew PHI was going to take a shot at the end zone. Talent at safety is useless if you don’t fully understand game situations. He did have 6 tackles and a sack.

      -Julian Love had 7 tackles and a pass break up. Solid game for him where he read the action well and flowed in the right direction consistently.

      SPECIAL TEAMS

      -K Graham Gano didn’t attempt a field goal. He apparently strained a quad on a kickoff, and it would have been a struggle for him to go for a long game-winning field goal had NYG gotten far enough up the field on their final drive.

      -P Riley Dixon: 6 punts / 44.2 avg / 42.0 net

      3 STUDS

      -LB Blake Martinez, OC Nick Gates, RB Wayne Gallman

      3 DUDS

      -OT Andrew Thomas, TE Evan Engram, CB Corey Ballentine

      3 THOUGHTS ON PHI

      1. Carson Wentz has become a completely different QB over these past two seasons, not in a good way. One can understand his happy feet in the pocket because of the poor OL play and lack of receiver-talent, but his poor decision-making should be alarming. He is trying to do too much and making throws that can’t be excused even by his biggest supporters. He leads the NFL in turnovers. They’re stuck with him for a while and they better pray this is a short-term speed bump.
      1. I respect the PHI coaching staff as much as any in the league. Their awful 2-point conversions play calls aside, these guys adjust to the game situation as well as anyone. They have been ravaged on offense with injuries two straight seasons. They don’t make it look pretty, but they get the job done.
      1. PHI is now the front runner of the division, no doubt. As they start to get some guys back on offense, I think they will be set up nicely to get to the 8-9 win mark, which we know won’t be touched by anyone else in the NFC Least. I wouldn’t want to play them in the playoffs, either. Their pass rush is top 3 in the league and they have a lot of guys who know how to win.

      3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

      1. Speaking of “knowing how to win,” that is the biggest component this young NYG team needs to acquire in the coming months. I think it is an overused line by the media at times, but when a team is making the most amount of mistakes late in the game (drops, penalties, allowed sacks, etc.), that is a sign of pressing and getting mentally defeated by the moment. Eli Manning played his best football late in games. Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan came up big late in games. While the team needs to continue to add better personnel, these players need to step up when the game is on the line consistently. They won’t go anywhere worth getting excited about until that happens.
      1. Last week, I discussed how this would be a big test for this team in regard to the future. A short week, a big game that meant a lot to the divisional standings, and response to coming off a win. It went so well for 3 and two-thirds of a quarter. Their defense was coming up big, notably in the second half, and their offense was adjusting well and turning opportunities into touchdowns. Ultimately, they failed the tests. Is this something we will keep on seeing? Or will they adjust and grow from the experience and end up being on the other side of this next time?
      1. Joe Judge emphasized getting smart, sound players during his initial interviews after being hired. He did this moreso than most coaches and their cliché lines. After 7 games, I can see what he means more than ever. If Corey Ballentine, Cameron Fleming, and Jabrill Peppers had higher on field IQ, this team may have 3 wins. If Evan Engram had mental toughness, this team may have another win. If this offensive line handled stunts and twists more naturally, this team may have another win. I know the “if” department doesn’t get anyone anywhere. However, when scouting players for the upcoming draft, that is something I am really going to key in on. NYG will be placing more value on it than ever.