Dec 132020
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (December 13, 2020)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

ARIZONA CARDINALS 26 – NEW YORK GIANTS 7…
The New York Giants got their collective asses kicked by the Arizona Cardinals 26-7 on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With the loss, the Giants fell to 5-8 on the season.

The statistical domination was total. The Cardinals out-gained the Giants in first downs (22 to 10), total net yards (390 to 159), net yards rushing (159 to 78), net yards passing (231 to 81), and time of possession (37:52 to 22:08). The Giants also lost the turnover battle 3 to nothing.

To say the Giants’ offense struggled would be an understatement. Quarterback Daniel Jones returned to the starting lineup after missing a game due to a hamstring injury, but he clearly was not healthy. Jones only completed 11 of 21 passes for 127 yards. He was sacked six times, losing 52  yards in the process. His back-up, Colt McCoy, was also sacked twice. No-name Cardinals linebacker Hasson Reddick set a single-game franchise record with five sacks and forcing three fumbles.

The tone was set on New York’s first drive. After picking up two first downs and reaching midfield, Jones was sacked by former Giants linebacker Markus Golden on 2nd-and-10. Jones fumbled on the play and Golden recovered the football and returned it 30 yards to the New York 9-yard line. The Giants’ defense did stop the Cardinals on 4th-and-goal. That was the high point of the game for New York.

New York went three-and-out on their second drive, but the Giants’ special teams gave up a 24-yard punt return to the Giants’ 38-yard line. The Cardinals gained 22 yards in six plays to set up a 34-yard field goal. Cardinals 3 – Giants 0.

After two punts by the Giants and one by the Cardinals, Arizona extended their lead to 6-0 after driving 34 yards in 11 plays to up a 34-yard field goal. Matters got quickly worse when running back Dion Lewis fumbled on the ensuing kickoff return. The Cardinals recovered at the New York 21-yard line. Quarterback Kyler Murray threw a 7-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-goal to give Arizona a 13-0 advantage.

Both teams had two more possessions before intermission, but neither scored. The Cardinals continued to lead 13-0 at halftime.

Arizona received the football to start the 3rd quarter. They immediately drove 77 yards in 11 plays to go up 20-0. The Giants responded with their only scoring drive of the game. After a 39-yard pass from Jones to wide receiver Golden Tate, Lewis scored from one yard out to make it 20-7.

After that, it was all Cardinals. The Giants only gained two first downs for the rest of game, punting three more times and fumbling the ball away again on their last possession. While the Cardinals also punted twice, they added two more field goals to comfortably extend their lead to 26-7. The game was never in doubt.

Video lowlights are available on Giants.com.

NEW YORK GIANTS ROSTER MOVES…
On Friday, the New York Giants placed cornerback Madre Harper on Injured Reserve with a knee injury. To fill that roster spot, the Giants signed safety Montre Hartage from the Practice Squad.

The Giants signed Harper off of the Practice Squad of the Las Vegas Raiders in late September 2020. This year, he has played in nine games, mainly on special teams.

After spending time with the Giants in training camp, the Giants re-signed Hartage to the Practice Squad in late October 2020. He was signed to the 53-man roster in November and moved back to the Practice Squad earlier this month. Hartage originally signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATION, INACTIVES AND INJURY REPORT…
CB Jarren Williams was activated from the Practice Squad for this game.

Inactive for the game were CB Darnay Holmes (knee), WR Dante Pettis, OT Jackson Barton, OL Kyle Murphy, DE R.J. McIntosh, and LB T.J. Brunson.

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.

Dec 112020
 
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THE STORYLINE

There was a great disturbance in the Force last weekend. We all felt it. The New York Giants were not supposed to go into Seattle and rough up the Seahawks the way they did. There was nothing flukey about the win. The Giants were the better team on both sides of the football, even with back-up quarterback Colt McCoy facing off against MVP candidate Russell Wilson.

The Giants should have been dead at 0-5 and 1-7. They are now on a 4-game winning streak and tied for first place in the NFC East. Yes, it’s a crappy division. But the Giants have a real shot at making the playoffs if they can win two or three of their last four games. Three of those games are at home. The other is just down the road a bit Baltimore.

First up is the Arizona Cardinals, who were 5-2 in October, but have lost four of their last five games and are now 6-6. To be fair, the one win was against impressive Buffalo and their last three losses came against the respectable Seahawks, Patriots, and Rams. Nevertheless, this appears to be a game between two teams heading in opposite directions. The Giants are trying to keep momentum going and the Cardinals are trying to stop the bleeding.

THE INJURY REPORT

  • QB Daniel Jones (hamstring – questionable)
  • OT Matt Peart (ankle – questionable)
  • LB Blake Martinez (back – questionable)
  • CB Darnay Holmes (knee – questionable)
  • CB Madre Harper (knee – out)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE
The big question is will Daniel Jones play? And if he does, how effective will he be and will he not re-aggravate his hamstring injury? It’s not just a matter of the injury limiting his rushing ability, but ability to throw the football forcefully with accuracy and velocity.

Colt McCoy did enough in the second half to win the game (and not lose it) last weekend, but the offense is clearly more limited with him at the helm. If he is called upon again, hopefully we’ll see a repeat performance, not making the killer mistakes and making a few clutch throws when needed. The Giants got by the then 5th-ranked Seattle offense by scoring under 20 points (again). They are tempting fate if they can’t score more than 20 against the now 5th-ranked Cardinals offense. Stating the obvious, the Giants need to score more points and take some pressure off of their own defense.

New York’s four-game “renaissance” has been sparked by two things: (1) defense and (2) the offensive line. For Giants fans who have become accustomed to shitty offensive line play for a decade, the rapid turnaround by the offensive line from a joke to clearly one of the best units in the NFL has been a revelation. Let me say that again, the New York Giants offensive line is now one of the best OL groups in the entire league. While there are the inevitable miscues by a young group still gaining chemistry and cohesion, the offensive line is simply punishing people up front.

The Giants (including fired OL coach Marc Colombo) were right about Nick Gates. If he stays healthy and grounded, he has more physical ability because of his size than renowned team centers Bart Oates and Shaun O’Hara. Gates plays with a nasty chip on his shoulder and I love it. After a very rough start, Andrew Thomas is now developing into a shut-down left tackle who mauls people in the run game. Fellow rookie Shane Lemieux brings more youth, spirit, aggressiveness, and mobility and seems to be stealing Will Hernandez’s job, despite the fact that Hernandez is still a solid player. The “old man” of the group, 30-year old Kevin Zeitler is reverting to his old solid form. The other veteran, Cam Fleming, is the weak link but with four games left to play, the Giants may not want to tinker too much with the OL down the home stretch with the playoffs on the line. Still, Matt Peart (if he can stay healthy) is pressing him.

The biggest beneficiary of the offensive line play has been Wayne Gallman, a back who seemed to be out of favor with the previous and current coaching staffs. Remember, Joe Judge and Jason Garrett didn’t turn to Gallman when Saquon Barkley went down but in-season pick up Devonta Freeman. When Freeman got hurt, they had little choice but to turn to Gallman. As has been pointed out by many, Gallman is running with a toughness greater than his more linear build would indicate. He’s showing nice patience, instincts, and elusiveness. He’s also starting to break off some big runs.

This all bodes well against an Arizona Cardinals team that is middle-of-the-pack defensively (18th) and 21st against the run, allowing 123 rushing yards per game. Statistically, the Cardinals are better against the pass than the Seahawks, but much worse against the run. The Cardinals have some talented familiar faces in the secondary, including corners Patrick Peterson and Dre Kirkpatrick. Our old friend Markus Golden is also starting at linebacker.

“This is a blitz heavy team,” said Joe Judge. “We have to be alert for a lot of movement, a lot of pressure throughout the game plan. They do a very good job of changing up on you. They’ll blitz linebackers, DBs, whoever’s involved, everyone is going to get a turn.”

Stay with what is working. Pound the rock. Wear down the Cardinals. One of the ways to really frustrate and really hurt blitzing defenses is to run the ball down their throats. All of that trickery doesn’t matter when you are lying on your ass.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

Like Seattle, Arizona’s strength is clearly on the offensive side of the football. The Cardinals are 5th in the NFL in yards gained and 9th in points scored, averaging almost four touchdowns per game. With the Giants still averaging less than 20, you see the problem. The defense needs to come up big again against a quality opponent.

There has been some excellent discussions in The Corner Forum about how Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham’s scheme is relying more on size, strength, and power up front to create pass rush issues than employing the typical dominant edge rushers in a 3-4 system. That does not mean that the edge rushers aren’t making some plays, or that Graham isn’t sending inside linebackers and defensive backs on blitzes. But the chaos is starting up front with Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson, and B.J. Hill getting a push up the middle. All quarterbacks hate pressure up the middle and it is the quickest way to disrupt a passing play.

Savvy veteran Russell Wilson was clearly frustrated last weekend by the pressure up front and confused by what the team was doing in the secondary. Just as importantly, the Giants’ pass rush was disciplined. Wilson continuously spun out of trouble only to find yet another defender preventing him from escaping outside of the pocket. That same discipline will be needed against quarterback Kyler Murray.

The very first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the undersized (only 5’10”) Murray can throw the football. But he is whirling dervish who reminds me of Bo Jackson in the old Nintendo Techmo Bowl video game…

Murray is 67 percent passer who has thrown for 22 touchdowns (against just 10 interceptions). He’s not just a runner. Literally one-third of his passing yards have gone to wideout DeAndre Hopkins (85 catches, 1,019 yards, 5 touchdowns). But he will spread the ball around to the other targets: WR Larry Fitzgerald (43 catches), RB Chase Edmonds (42 catches, 3 touchdowns), WR Christian Kirk (35 catches, 6 touchdowns), among others.

That all said, it’s his running ability that really scares defenses. Murray has rushed the ball 102 times for 665 yards (6.5 yards per carry) and an astounding 10 touchdowns. And with Murray receiving so much attention because of designed QB runs that often fool the socks off defensive players, running backs Kenyan Drake (4.3 yards per carry, 8 touchdowns) and Chase Edmonds (4.9 yards per carry) can and will hurt you. Overall, Arizona is 3rd in the NFL in rushing, averaging over 150 yards per game. The Cardinals can run it. And they can throw it. This is a very tough match-up for the Giants.

“This is a team that’s very explosive,” said Judge. “(Head Coach) Kliff (Kingsbury) does a great job in terms of scheme, using tempo, really creating match-ups for his players and letting them play to their strengths. (Murray) is obviously a dynamic player… This guy does a great job improvising on his feet, extending plays, keeping his eyes down field and making big throws. He has a rocket for an arm, and this guy can be as aggressive as he wants to because he’s very, very accurate with the ball. You put that along with the receivers he has to throw to. This is a group of weapons that’s very explosive. Offensively though, it really starts with the running game with them. Drake and Edmonds, these guys are both having good seasons. They do a very good job of getting the ball downhill at you. They have a very good zone run game. They’ll also mix up some game plan runs and pulls and gap schemes. Kliff does a good job of mixing that in with the tempo and keeping you on your toes.”

The focus must be on stopping the run and keeping Murray in the pocket. Mix and match coverages and try to confuse him in the passing game. The good news is this should be a similar game plan to what the Giants did in Seattle. The bad news is that LB Blake Martinez and CB Darnay Holmes are “questionable” for the game. The Giants need both to play.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

I’m not sure what is going on with the Giants special teams all of the sudden, but a Giants team that is encumbered with an offense that struggles to score 20 points simply cannot afford to have repeated major breakdowns on special teams. New York escaped the last two games despite bad special teams play. But they are playing with fire if the don’t turn it around. It’s time to return to this being asset for us.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham on Kyler Murray: “Murray is true speed. When I’m talking to the players, true speed. Not fast, not quick, we’re dealing with true speed. Any mistake, it can be a touchdown at any given moment. That’s what you’re dealing with, with this guy. Whether it’s the run game or the passing game, he can get away from you and then get the ball down the field. That’s what I mean by true speed and the ability to score a touchdown at any point on the field. He’s pretty dynamic. We have a big challenge ahead of us.”

THE FINAL WORD

Heading into last week’s game, I figured the best the Giants could do over the course of the upcoming two games was lose to Seattle, but beat Arizona. Beating Seattle took a lot of immediate pressure off until Washington upset Pittsburgh. Despite the fact that the Giants have won four in a row and Arizona has lost three in a row, this is clearly a very dangerous game for the Giants. The Cardinals are desperate. I just can’t see New York escaping with a win unless they score more than 20 points. They can do that, but it’s been a challenge for them all year. Again, my emphasis would be running the ball. This will help control the clock and keep Arizona off of the field. But can New York stop Arizona from running the ball? This might be one of those rare games that ends before 4PM.

Dec 082020
 
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Jabaal Sheard, New York Giants (December 6, 2020)

Jabaal Sheard – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

The Giants’ 3-game winning streak landed them in 1st place this past week, albeit with a 4-7 record. That has been the way of 2020, however. The NFC East hadn’t collectively beat a team with a winning record to this point in the season and NYG traveled to Seattle to start off a four-game span matched up against four winning ball clubs. This test would be extra difficult, as quarterback Daniel Jones was sidelined with an injury and the Seahawks ranked 3rd in the NFL in points scored. SEA quarterback Russell Wilson entered this game with a career 53-16 record at home and on the other side was Colt McCoy, who hadn’t won a game as a starter since 2014.

The SEA offense easily drove the ball down the field on the game’s opening drive. Their first five plays gained 5, 6, 11, 24, 11 yards, respectively. The NYG defense has specialized in a bend-don’t-break style for most of the season and that trend continued. Once inside the red zone, NYG forced three straight incompletions and SEA ended up having to go for a 31-yard field goal by Jason Meyers. He nailed it, good for his 24th straight made attempt.

NYG then went three-and-out but forced SEA to do the same. The banged up SEA secondary started to get exposed on the second NYG drive, as McCoy found his three main targets (Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, and Evan Engram). They got the ball into the red zone but a pass that made its way to and through the hands of Engram led to an interception by Quandre Diggs. NYG wasn’t going to have a big margin for mistakes like this and failing to put points on the board while getting so close was a potential killer.

The NYG defense gave up a few chunk gains but ended up with another stop thanks largely to a sack by Jabrill Peppers. The two offenses failed to sustain drives. Both defenses were applying pressure to the passer and neither running game was finding enough room to really work. It was the NYG defense and their surprise edge presence Niko Lalos coming away with his second turnover in as many weeks after a botched snap by Wilson. NYG had the ball at midfield but the offensive struggles remained. They went three-and-out.

SEA got the ball to midfield, but Leonard Williams was leading constant pressure on Wilson. They were able to force yet another punt with Michael Dickson pinning the NYG offense inside their own 5-yard line. There was under a minute left and NYG simply wanted to make it to halftime down by 3. They ran the ball three straight times and it net gained 6 yards. SEA used all of their timeouts so they could have one more shot at lengthening their lead. The offense didn’t need to come back on the field, however. The punt was blocked in the end zone by Ryan Neal and recovered by SEA but the ball made its way out of bounds quickly enough to make it a safety (2 points) rather than a touchdown (6 points). SEA did get the ball back one more time, starting at midfield, but they weren’t able to get points and went into halftime with a 5-0 lead.

Wayne Gallman, one of the offensive catalysts in the recent NYG winning streak, carried the ball just 4 times in the first half. NYG knew that approach needed to change, and that it did. The old-school, smack-you-in-the-mouth, run-up-the-middle strategy started off the second half. He gained 16 bruising yards on 3 carries. It did not amount to much, as NYG ended up punting, but the tone was set. The physical brand of Big Blue football is back and here to stay. After forcing a quick punt, NYG got the big play they were searching for from Gallman. A 60-yard run all the way down to the SEA 17-yard line put NYG in position to take over the lead. Two Alfred Morris runs later, the 31-year-old back who carried the ball one time in 2019 crossed the goal line for the first time since 2018. NYG then went for 2 and McCoy found Sterling Shepard for the conversion to give NYG a 3-point lead, 8-5.

The NYG pass rush and sheer dominance up front, matched with timely plays by the defensive backfield, kept the SEA offense returning to the sideline. The NYG offensive momentum continued on their next opportunity, scoring another touchdown via a 6-yard pass from McCoy to Morris. Wayne Gallman set up this score as well, as he started off the drive with 39 yards on three carries.

A 9-point lead in the 4th quarter in Seattle. This is where NYG stood before rookie corner Darnay Holmes picked off a Wilson pass that was deflected off fellow rookie Tae Crowder. NYG was able to turn that into 3 points via a 48-yard field goal by the automatic Graham Gano. The lead was elevated to 12 points and the SEA offense, which seemed to have no answers for the NYG defensive front, had under 10 minutes to attempt a comeback.

With a slightly hurried up offense, Wilson drove the ball down the field with an 11-play, 82-yard drive. This was heavily aided by a defensive holding penalty on Holmes on a 3rd-and-15 stop. On the next play, Wilson found running back Chris Carson for a 28-yard score. This brought the score to 17-12 with over 6 minutes left, not a strong position considering how elite Wilson has been in come-from-behind scenarios. McCoy was going to have to make at least a couple plays for NYG to maintain this lead and take home the win, and that he did. He hit Darius Slayton (his first catch of the day) and Evan Engram for two first downs that were not deep passes, but tight window throws that needed quick decisions and accuracy. They were able to get the ball past the 2-minute warning prior to punting back to SEA. Even though they did not put more points on the board, the amount of time taken off the clock was crucial. Now, it was up to the NYG defense.

The first four plays of the final SEA drive netted 34 yards. They were into NYG territory with a minute left. With a 5-point lead, this drive was going to end the game either with a SEA or NYG win, no ties. Wilson then threw two incomplete passes before getting sacked by Leonard Williams, the defensive star of the game who had his way with the SEA offensive line. SEA was faced with a 4th-and-18 before James Bradberry broke up the final pass of the game on a Hail Mary-type play for the win.

NYG wins, 17-12.

QUARTERBACK

-Colt McCoy: 13-22 / 105 yards / 1 TD – 1 INT / 67.4 RAT

When the reports became verified that Daniel Jones would be out for the game, the outlook for this already-tough matchup was bleak at best. A backup quarterback on the road against a top 5 offense led by a MVP candidate is less than ideal. McCoy didn’t take the game by the horns by any means, but this is where having a veteran back there can be a huge benefit. We knew McCoy wouldn’t be dropping dimes and/or getting chunk gains with his legs, but there is a sense of confidence and calm with a guy like McCoy. He stayed within himself, he didn’t make any colossal mistakes, he didn’t try to do too much. He made a few clutch throws and didn’t lose the game for NYG. That is the backup’s job in a situation like this. Nice job by McCoy and I think we may see him for one more game.

RUNNING BACK

-Wayne Gallman: 16 att / 135 yards

A tale of two halves. I’m not quite sure why NYG didn’t feature more of him in the first half, but when they came out for the 3rd quarter it was evident they knew what to do. Gallman had 4 attempts for 6 yards in the first half, 12 attempts for 129 yards (just under 11 yards per carry) in the second half. This was against a SEA run defense that ranked top 10 in the NFL and averaged 64 yards allowed per game over the previous 5 weeks, which included games against the NFL’s top 2 rushing attacks. Gallman is no longer a back who is just able to have a couple good games. This is a legit NFL runner who breaks tackles, has good vision, and will eventually make the big play as long as he gets consistent looks.

-Alfred Morris: 8 att / 39 yards / 1 TD and 1 rec / 6 yards / 1 TD.

Hats off to Morris. A 31-year-old who had one carry in 2019 and who many had assumed was simply washed out of the league for good. This was a practice squad signing in-season that many questioned. An aging back without recent success on a team that wasn’t going anywhere. Why not go for someone young? Why not add a back with more speed or versatile skill set? Another major win for the pro personnel expert Dave Gettleman.

WIDE RECEIVER

-It was a really quiet day for the Giants receivers. Golden Tate caught all 4 of his targets for 30 yards and Sterling Shepard caught 1 of his 6 targets for a 22 yard gain. Darius Slayton saw just 1 target, which he caught for 14 yards in a big moment in the 4th quarter. When you have a backup quarterback with limited arm talent in the game, the receivers simply won’t be able to impact the game much. However, the underneath skill sets of Shepard and Tate especially can still make a difference. Slayton’s main role on this offense stems from being a deep threat and if McCoy is the one throwing the ball, opposing defenses simply won’t be as thoughtful in that regard. Not a bad game by these guys at all, just limited opportunities and if anything, they did a fine job when their number was called.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram: 4 rec / 32 yards

-I had a feeling Engram would be the most targeted pass catcher with McCoy under center. NYG has been trying to feature him more and more and he did get the ball thrown his way a team-high 8 times. It seems to happen nearly every week now. The broadcasters see him make a nice play, discuss how special of a talent he is, and then he makes a major mistake. Engram dropped a ball in the red zone that was tipped into a SEA defender’s hands for the interception. He dropped another pass in the 4th quarter. Both of the drops were at least somewhat caused by quality defensive plays. However, a big-time tight end needs to make those catches. The first one that led to the interception was another potential game-altering play. One positive on Engram that surprised me was how well he blocked in the second half. He had multiple key blocks when NYG got their ground game going.

-Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo were both on the field for more than 55% of the plays. That fact in combination with Engram being on the field for 77% of the plays is noteworthy. That will rank at or near the top of the league in double/triple tight end sets, respectively. This offensive game plan and halftime adjustments deserve a lot of credit. Smith had a reception for 3 yards and Toilolo didn’t see the ball once. They were on the field to help contain the fast-moving, lateral linebackers. They were both excellent in the second half.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Andrew Thomas graded out the best we have seen this season. His rookie year has taken a turn for the best. The biggest positives I see are the more consistent anchor and hand placement once he is engaged in pass protection. He really is a powerful kid who can handle the size and strength of the NFL. He is not a guy who gets tossed around. When those hands get to where they are supposed to be and his feet are under him, he shows dominant traits.

-Cameron Fleming split snaps with Matt Peart, with the former getting more. Fleming allowed a sack but was just fine otherwise. Peart seemed a little rusty in his 15 snaps. He was off balance and inaccurate, which is understandable considering he just came back from missing a few weeks of work.

-Inside, Kevin Zeitler and Nick Gates were really physical and consistent. They both finished above average grade-wise. Shane Lemieux and Will Hernandez split snaps at left guard, with the former starting and seeing the majority. This was a tough game for the rookie, allowing 3 pressures, 1 of which led to a sack. Even though he left a lot to be desired out there as a pass blocker, Lemieux was once again effective with his run blocking efforts. He is so much quicker off the ball and is so much better with lateral adjustments in comparison to Hernandez, who also allowed a pressure. I think Hernandez may be a backup the rest of the year.

EDGE

-Even though I still have this spot as the top defensive need, maybe the top overall need on the team, this crew has been over-extending themselves when it comes to their results vs. expectations. We saw more key plays in this game from this group than we have all year. Cam Brown had 2 tackles, 1 TFL, and 1 pressure in just 10 snaps. Niko Lalos had 2 tackles and a fumble recovery. Jabaal Sheard had 4 tackles, a half-sack, and 2 pressures.

-The surprise of the day, however, was Carter Coughlin. The 7th-round rookie played a season high 45 snaps and finished with 2 tackles and 3 pressures. They moved him around into multiple roles throughout the game. They sent him in as an edge rusher, as a blitzing inside linebacker, and as a spy on QB Russell Wilson. He had a key pressure on Wilson that stemmed from him not being fooled by play-action and showing closing speed to prevent Wilson from reaching the sideline on a bootleg. Outstanding game for these guys as a group.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

-The debate is now closed. It is over. The trade for Leonard Williams was a major success. We are no longer looking at a guy who gets a few pressures here and there. We are no longer looking at a guy who doesn’t impact the game enough. Williams is on a different level right now. He had 5 pressures and 2.5 sacks. This is the most dominant DL performance we have seen in a long, long time. I received a text from a scout I speak with on a regular basis and he asked if this seals the deal of locking him up long term. I think Williams has a unique and rare combination of tools and skills that are an ideal fit for this scheme. Patrick Graham has learned how to use him, learned how to get him in a lot of one-on-one match-ups via scheming, and Williams is responding in a big way. My reply was, “Yes…but it may cost watching Tomlinson walk.”

-Dexter Lawrence and Dalvin Tomlinson combined for 3 tackles and Lawrence added 2 pressures. Both were actually a little weak against the run in this one. They were giving up more ground than we have been used to seeing, but they both rose up in the key situations. B.J. Hill added 1 pressure and was flagged for holding.

LINEBACKER

-Blake Martinez led the team with 10 tackles and also broke up a pass and forced a fumble. He was injured late in the game. It was a back injury that, according to media reports, won’t sideline him for any notable time. Martinez kept the glue together after a rough start.

-Tae Crowder was back out there making plays. If NYG can find a consistent play-maker to pair with Martinez inside, this defense will be on another level. So far, Crowder is proving to be a part of that discussion. He had 7 tackles, 1 pressure that led to a sack, and a sack himself. His notable trait is quality open-field tackling. It stems from his twitch and speed that a lot of the other inside linebackers just do not have. And that does not come at the expense of his contact strength and presence. He really has been an ideal fit for this defense and has a role to play.

CORNERBACK

-James Bradberry had 7 tackles, 1 PD, and 1 forced fumble. The match-up against D.K. Metcalf was one I was looking forward to. If I had to pick a winner, it is going to Bradberry by a thin margin. This is the kind of WR who he does well against; one who works with size, straight lines, and long speed. Bradberry can handle that well while also proving to be ball-savvy and a true play-maker. Metcalf did drop a ball (more on that below) but when these two were truly matched up one-on-one, Bradberry contained him.

-Darnay Holmes and his physical, aggressive, fast brand continued to both help and hurt the defense. He did have 5 tackles and an interception, while simply adding physical a presence to the secondary. He plays a man’s game. The glaring negative was similar to what we saw last week. Holmes was flagged for holding on a 3rd-and-15 stop in the 4th quarter while SEA was mounting their comeback attempt. The next play? A SEA touchdown. His mistakes are coming at the worst time.

-Isaac Yiadom had 4 tackles and 2 pass break ups, one of which was a high-level play in the end zone in the first quarter.

SAFETY

-The trio-safety group of Jabrill Peppers, Logan Ryan, and Julian Love have hit a really nice stride. And to think that arguably the most talented (but unproven) player in the group itself, Xavier McKinney, only saw 6 defensive snaps. The fact that he could add a boost to the unit in the coming weeks is a great sign.

-Similar to Leonard Williams, the unique and versatile skill set of Jabrill Peppers has been figured out by Patrick Graham. He is now regularly making quality plays. He had 5 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 pass break ups. Peppers was also the most physical player on the defense and he made it known on a few occasions. He did get beat on the Chris Carson reception for a touchdown, but he also broke up a 3rd-down pass into the end zone.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 1/1 (Made 48). Gano also missed one extra point for the first time this year.

-P Riley Dixon: 6 punts / 43.5 avg / 32.7 net

3 STUDS

-DT Leonard Williams, RB Wayne Gallman, OT Andrew Thomas

3 DUDS

-LG Shane Lemieux, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, TE Evan Engram

3 THOUGHTS ON SEA

  1. Wide Receiver D.K. Metcalf is the freak athlete in a league full of freak athletes. He really has blossomed/broken out in his sophomore season. The league leader in receiving yards also ranks third in yards per catch and he ranks fifth with 9 touchdowns. However, just how good is he? I think far too many are too quick to label him a top-shelf receiver. He leads the league with 9 drops. He has caught 64% of his targets (120th in the NFL), and he still has significant issues as a route runner. Metcalf was picked 64th overall in the 2019 Draft (partially because of neck injury concerns) but many said it was the steal of the draft. There were many enamored with his size and speed, and yes, some even thought he was really good because of what he looked like with his shirt off. This is where I stand with Metcalf: he is a Terrell Owens-type weapon who will force a defense to really plan around him. He can take over a game. He can change an offense. However, similar to Engram, I can’t consider him elite if he continues to drop this many passes. I just can’t get there on him.
  1. I love to track the SEA team building process every year. They move around via trade on draft weekend as much as anyone. They trade for players nearly every year. They get aggressive in free agency. They take calculated chances on players with both health and character issues. Why does it work so well? They have a culture there and it comes from the top. Whether or not you like Pete Carroll, that was a notable attribute to his coaching skill set right away. NFL players are not robots. They are real people just like you and I. The culture is absolutely vital to sustained success in this league and It should make NYG fans feel encouraged.
  1. SEA is 8-4 with games left against NYJ, WAS, LAR, and SF. Despite this loss vs NYG, I think they are on the right track to win 10 games. Their defense has completely turned things around I still consider them a top 5 offense in the NFL. This would make it their 8th 10-win season in 9 years, a commendable stat. Sustained success in the league is really tough to achieve. And even though they have had so many ups and downs with personnel on both sides of the ball in recent years, it all comes down to the QB. If you have someone truly elite back there combined with a quality coach and front office, you truly have a credible shot every year.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

  1. Defense, defense, defense. It is back. Going to SEA and allowing just 327 yards (3rd-lowest of the season for them), allowing just 12 points (their lowest since December 17, 2017) was the sign I was looking for when I questioned just how legit this defense can be down the stretch. They did not just contain Wilson and the team’s high-powered offense, they completely dominated. The pass rush, the secondary, the physical nature, the forced turnovers…everything was there.
  1. It will be really interesting to see how this coaching staff handles the offensive line down the stretch. These next 4 games will dictate whether or not NYG plays in the postseason and the margin for error is really small, as WAS pulled off the upset in PIT and is trending up. Will they continue to rotate at LG and RT? Or has this been a trial to see who really are the best players and will those players now receive all of the snaps? Will Hernandez seems to be a thing of the past already and Cameron Fleming continues to be the weak link who hurts the offense every game.
  1. Next up is a home game against ARI, a team that has lost 4 of their last 5 with their only win over that stretch coming from the Hail Mary pass from Kyler Murray to DeAndre Hopkins. This will be another tough test for the NYG defense, as Murray just presents a lot of different issues and scoring points hasn’t been an problem for them since Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury took over. They are banged up on defense and have allowed 28+ points 5 of their past 6 games and they are most vulnerable against the run. Wayne Gallman should be able to keep his momentum going.
Dec 062020
 
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Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams, New York Giants (December 6, 2020)

Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 17 – SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 12…
In perhaps the team’s most impressive victory in years, the New York Giants defeated the Seattle Seahawks 17-12 on Sunday at Lumen Field in Seattle, Washington. The win was New York’s fourth in a row, improving their overall record to 5-7 and keeping the Giants in first place in the NFC East. The heavily-favored Seahawks fell to 8-4.

Playing without starting quarterback Daniel Jones, back-up quarterback Colt McCoy and the Giants’ offense struggled in the first half. New York’s five first-half possessions resulted in three punts, an interception, and a safety. The Giants were only able to generate four 1st downs, 95 yards, and no points. The safety came with 33 seconds left before halftime when Riley Dixon’s punt was blocked with the ball exiting the end zone.

Fortunately for New York, the Giants’ defense was up to the challenge, holding the NFL’s 5th-rated offense to one field goal in the first half. Those points came on Seattle’s first drive of the game, as the Seahawks drove 57 yards in nine plays to set up a 31-yard field goal. Seattle did nothing after that, with their next four drives resulting in a punt, punt, fumble, and a punt. Rookie defensive end/linebacker Niko Lalos recovered the fumble.

At the half, the Seahawks led 5-0.

Both teams exchanged punts to start the 3rd quarter. The Giants’ offense finally got the big play they needed on their second drive when running back Wayne Gallman broke off a 60-yard run around left end. Running back Alfred Morris gained 13 yards on the next snap and then Morris finished off the 4-play drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. McCoy hit wide receiver Sterling Shepard in the end zone for the successful 2-point conversion and the Giants were now up 8-5.

Seattle gained one first down on their second possession and decided to gamble on 4th-and-1 at their own 48-yard line. Quarterback Russell Wilson’s pass was broken up by cornerback Isaac Yiadom and the Seahawks turned the ball over on downs. The Giants then made Seattle pay with a 5-play, 48-yard drive that ended with a touchdown. Gallman rushed for 3, 13, and 23 yards. Then Morris ran for three before catching a 6-yard pass from McCoy for the score. Place kicker Graham Gano missed the extra point and the Giants now led 14-5.

The Seahawks gained two first downs but were pushed back by a 15-yard sack by defensive end Leonard Williams and were forced to punt again early in the 4th quarter. The Giants went three-and-out, but New York got the ball right back when cornerback Darnay Holmes picked off a deflected pass at the Seattle 39-yard line. New York’s offense could only gain nine yards, but it was good enough to set up a 48-yard field goal and a 17-5 lead with less than 10 minutes to play.

Seattle made things interesting when they followed up with an 11-play, 82-yard drive than ended with a 28-yard touchdown pass by Wilson. Their sole touchdown of the game cut New York’s lead to 17-12 with 6:09 left to play.

The Giants were able to pick up two first downs and take 4:21 off of the clock. But the Seahawks got the ball back with 1:48 left to play and a chance to steal the game. Starting from their own 20-yard line, Seattle did pick up two first downs, cross midfield, and reach the New York 46-yard line. The New York defense then stiffened as Wilson threw two incomplete passes and was sacked for an 8-yard loss by Leonard Williams on 3rd-and-10. Wilson’s last desperate 4th-and-18 deep pass fell incomplete.

McCoy finished the game 13-of-22 for 105 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. His leading targets were tight end Evan Engram (four catches for 32 yards) and wide receiver Golden Tate (four catches for 30 yards). Gallman rushed 16 times 135 yards and Morris chipped in with eight carries for 39 yards and a rushing touchdown as New York rushed for 190 yards against the NFL’s 3rd-ranked run defense.

Seattle was held to 327 total yards on 70 offensive snaps. The Seahawks were 4-of-13 on 3rd down and 0-of-2 on 4th down. The Giants picked off one pass and recovered one fumble. Linebacker Blake Martinez led the team with 10 tackles. Linebacker Tae Crowder had seven tackles and one sack. Safety Jabrill Peppers had 5 tackles, one sack, and two pass defenses. Leonard Williams was credited with 2.5 sacks and five quarterback hits. Linebacker Jabaal Sheard had 0.5 sacks.

Video highlights are available on Giants.com.

NEW YORK GIANTS ROSTER MOVES…
The New York Giants re-signed quarterback Alex Tanney to the team’s Practice Squad on Saturday. Tanney was cut by the Giants on September 5th. The Giants also placed running back Devonta Freeman, who is currently on Injured Reserve with an ankle injury, on the Reserve/COVID-19 List.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
QB Clayton Thorson and DE/LB Niko Lalos were activated from the Practice Squad for this game.

Inactive for the game were QB Daniel Jones (hamstring), WR Dante Pettis, OT Jackson Barton, OL Kyle Murphy, DE R.J. McIntosh, LB Trent Harris, and LB T.J. Brunson,

LB Blake Martinez left the game in the fourth quarter with a lower back injury and did not return.

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:

  • Head Coach Joe Judge (Video)
  • QB Colt McCoy (Video)
  • RB Wayne Gallman (Video)
  • RB Alfred Morris (Video)
  • DE Leonard Williams (Video)
  • S Jabrill Peppers (Video)

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

Dec 042020
 
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Colt McCoy, New York Giants (November 29, 2020)

Colt McCoy – © USA TODAY Sports

THE STORYLINE

It hasn’t been pretty, but the New York Giants are on a roll. The last time this team won three games in a row was 2016. Other than the 10-point win over the Eagles, everything has been tight. Six of the Giants’ last seven games have been decided by three points or less, including three of their four victories.

The naysayers will justifiably claim the Giants have gotten “fat” on lesser teams, and barely at that. The Giants were probably a completion away from losing a heart-breaker to a 2-win Cincinnati team starting a Practice Squad quarterback. The optimists will justifiably claim that game should not have been that close, and regardless the Giants made the defensive play they needed to make to secure the win.

What has transpired is largely moot at this point. The 4-7 Giants are tied with 4-7 Washington at the top of the NFC East, with New York owning the head-to-head tie-breaker. The Eagles are a half-game behind. The Cowboys, arguably with the easiest remaining schedule, are just one game behind. The final sprint has started. The bad news for the Giants is that injuries are beginning to mount (at quarterback, wide receiver, and linebacker) at an inopportune time. The Giants also face four teams with winning records in a row, not knowing when their starting quarterback will return nor how limited he will be when he does. The good news is the Giants seem to be playing the best ball in the division right now.

The Giants probably can afford to lose the Seattle game, and many fans have already opined that the team should rest Daniel Jones for this contest, accept the loss, and strive towards upsetting the Cardinals at home. I don’t think Joe Judge thinks that way.

THE INJURY REPORT

  • QB Daniel Jones (hamstring – doubtful)
  • WR Darius Slayton (shoulder/foot – probable)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (toe/shoulder – probable)
  • LB David Mayo (knee – questionable)
  • LB Cam Brown (illness – probable)
  • S Nate Ebner (knee – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE
It dawned on me this week that there are probably two diametrically-opposed camps on Daniel Jones’ impact on New York’s 29th-ranked offense. There are those who argue that Jones is largely responsible for the offensive short-comings. And there are others – including myself – who have argued that Jones has been hampered by the talent around him. If the latter is true, then things could get really ugly with Colt McCoy at quarterback.

As the BBI team has pointed out the last few weeks, as the offensive line has played better, the running game and pass protection has improved, and Jones has stopped turning the ball over. The result has been a 3-game winning streak. This despite the limitations of Jones’ targets. Darius Slayton has been dealing with shoulder and foot issues, Sterling Shepard with toe, hip, and shoulder issues. Golden Tate is not having the impact he did last year. And Evan Engram keeps alternating the good (two 40+ yard catches last week) with the bad (dropped pass that cost the first Eagles game, last week’s fumble in the red zone). In short, the Giants’ receiving corps has not delivered in 2020 and will need a major upgrade during the offseason.

Enter McCoy, your typical back-up QB. McCoy has played 11 years in the NFL, starting 28 games. But 21 of those starts came in 2010-2011 with only three starts in the last three years. To me, he’s a Jeff Rutledge-type quarterback. He can’t win a game on his own. You hope he doesn’t lose it, but he will need help to win it. That’s a tall order when you have ordinary running backs, significant limitations at receiver, and are facing a Seattle team that scores 31 points per game (3rd in the NFL). The Giants still are averaging less than 20 points per game.

McCoy is an immobile, weak-armed, 60 percent thrower who has a career 1-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio (29 touchdowns, 27 interceptions). The game plan seems obvious. Focus on the running game, sprinkling in short- to intermediate-passes to the tight ends and running backs. The role of slot receiver Sterling Shepard may also be emphasized more. Stating the obvious, what you don’t want to happen is see McCoy taking risky chances and turn the ball over.

If Joe Judge and Jason Garrett have any tricks up their sleeves, this is the time to use them. Beating the 8-3 Seahawks on their home turf is going to be extremely tough. I would pull out the stops.

The good news for the Giants? The historically physical and aggressive Seattle defense is having a terrible year. They are ranked dead last in yards allowed (418 yards per game) and 26th in scoring defense (almost 28 points per game). The bad news? The Seahawks are vastly better at defending the run (3rd in the NFL) than the pass (32nd in the NFL). That’s not good for a New York team that will have to run the ball effectively to have a legitimate chance to win this game.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

I think I jinxed the defense last week when I said they were getting healthier. The medical staff obviously misjudged Oshane Ximines’ shoulder condition, choosing to end his season with rotator cuff surgery after his brief comeback attempt. Fellow linebacker Kyler Fackrell was placed on IR with a calf injury, joining Lorenzo Carter. The team is now having to rely on in-season pick-ups Jabaal Sheard and Trent Harris as the only veteran edge rushers, backed up by late-round rookies Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin. But with the game on the line last weekend, it was the journeyman Sheard who saved the day. Go figure!

I keep saying it on a weekly basis, but Patrick Graham and his staff are coaching their collective asses off. Yes, the late-game breakdowns are still frustrating as hell, especially when the team employs more of a 3-man rush. But the fact that this unit – with all of its talent issues – is currently 10th in defense is amazing. That said, Graham and his defense are about to see a major upgrade in the caliber of the competition they face. It won’t be offensive bottom dwellers Redskins, Eagles, and Bengals that they will compete against in coming weeks, but offensive teams ranked 5th (Seattle) and 2nd (Arizona). In other words, shit is about to get real.

Seattle is 12th in rushing (averaging 117 yards per game) and 4th in passing (averaging 274 yards per game). But it is a running game with no bell cow, as no running back as more than 364 yards and quarterback Russell Wilson is leading the team with 379 yards rushing. In that, Seattle is similar to the Giants with Jones at full strength and the team’s running back-by-committee approach.

What separates the Seahawks is Wilson and his receiving targets. Remarkably, with five games left to play, Wilson already has thrown for 3,216 yards and 31 touchdowns! As stated, he is the team’s leading rusher and has only thrown 10 interceptions, with a 110.8 quarterback rating. He’s playing at an MVP level. While Wilson has a plethora of targets, two stand above the rest: wide receivers Tyler Lockett (70 catches, 771 yards, 8 touchdowns) and D.K. Metcalf (58 catches, 1,039 yards, 9 touchdowns). That’s 17 touchdowns for two receivers! To keep this in perspective, the Giants wide receivers only have SIX touchdown catches all year!

The Giants must maintain disciplined pass rush lanes up front to prevent Wilson from making plays on the ground. The pass rush will suffer, but the Giants must not allow Wilson to extend drives by rushing for 1st downs. Stating the obvious, there will be tremendous pressure on the the secondary, specifically corners James Bradberry, Isaac Yiadom, and Darnay Holmes to cover Lockett and Metcalf. Wide out David Moore has 5 touchdowns too (again the Giants wideouts have SIX as a team!) and is no slouch.

Seattle is going to move the ball. They don’t tend to turn the ball over (10 interceptions, 4 fumbles). I expect Graham to attempt a bend-but-don’t-break defense that hopefully will limit the damage to field goals rather than touchdowns. That’s probably the team’s best chance.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

Until last week, the Giants special teams had been, well, special. But across the board, last week against the Bengals was a disaster… they allowed a 103 kickoff return, a 29-yard punt return that almost cost them the game, a fake punt, and poor decisions by the punt returner. It was ugly. My guess is Judge and Thomas McGaughey laid down the law this week in meetings.

If the Giants have any shot at upsetting Seattle, the Giants must not only rebound, but actually dominate the special teams match-ups. Again, I would pull out the stops. Look for fake field goals and/or punts. We may even see a surprise onside kick.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham on the Seattle offense: “Aside from Metcalf, they have so many different weapons. The backs (Carlos) Hyde and (Chris) Carson these guys are scary. The quarterback obviously he’s a scary player, a good player… They have so many weapons from the receiver spots, 83 (David Moore), 16 (Tyler Lockett), 14 (Metcalf), they are all making plays. We’re going to try to figure it out. Do what we can do. See what we can do to try to limit their effectiveness… We’re going to need everybody, all hands-on deck for this one. They have a lot of weapons out there.”

THE FINAL WORD

Seattle is a well-coached team with a QB playing at an MVP level and a dynamic receiving corps. If Daniel Jones was fully healthy and playing well, this would be a difficult game for the Giants to win. It’s hard to see New York pulling off the upset with Colt McCoy at quarterback. Seattle just doesn’t turn the ball over much. So something weird has to happen and/or the Giants will need to use some trickery to fool the Seahawks.

Dec 012020
 
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Logan Ryan, New York Giants (November 29, 2020)

Logan Ryan – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

Week 12 brought the Giants to Cincinnati, home of the worst team of the 2019 NFL season. That placed the Bengals at the top of the 2020 NFL Draft, where they took quarterback Joe Burrow following his record setting, National Championship senior season at LSU. Even though the franchise still has a ways to go, things were looking up, as Burrow was proving to be worthy of that top pick with his solid play throughout the course of this season. However, a knee injury sustained last week knocked him out for the remainder of the year and probably into the 2021 season quite a bit as well. Thus, NYG who came in on a 2-game winning streak, were up against 2016 6th-round pick Brandon Allen, a career backup. This was an ideal ending to their, by far, easiest stretch of schedule. Dating back to October 11, this was NYG’s 6th opponent (out of 7) with a losing record. Considering their next 4 opponents entered this week with a combined 28-15 record, one could easily make the argument this was an absolute must-win.

NYG’s opening drive continued a trend we discussed two weeks ago prior to their bye. For the 6th-straight game, NYG scored a touchdown in the first quarter. This one was a 1-yard run by Wayne Gallman, who has now scored a touchdown in 5 straight games, tying a franchise record. The lead did not last long, however. CIN kick returner Brandon Wilson took the ensuing kickoff to the house for a 103-yard touchdown to tie it up.

Both offenses appeared to stall over the next few drives. CIN, ranked third worst in the league on third down, was severely limited by poor quarterback play while the NYG offensive line was flagged three times on their next two drives. On the next possession, tight end Evan Engram fumbled inside the red zone. CIN took advantage and drove the ball into NYG territory and ended up taking a 3-point lead via a 44-yard field goal. NYG was out-gaining CIN by a wide margin but they found themselves losing to the 2-7-1 Bengals and their backup quarterback. Flashbacks of their week 3 loss came up where they lost to Niners backup quarterback Nick Mullens by 27 points. The Giants quickly got the ball into CIN territory as the first half was coming to an end. They settled on a 49-yard field goal attempt for Graham Gano, which he nailed. That made his streak 21 straight successful attempts, the second most in franchise history. CIN knelt when they got the ball back to send the game into halftime.

After stopping CIN with a three-and-out on the first drive of the second half thanks to a drop by running back Gio Bernard, the NYG offense came back onto the field. A 44-yard completion to Engram, his second of 40+ yards on the day, put NYG deep into CIN territory again. On the next play, Jones scrambled up the middle and got up awkwardly. Two plays later, it was very evident he strained his hamstring to the point where he had to come off the field. Backup Colt McCoy, a former collegiate opponent to current Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor, marched onto the field to take over the offense but things went in reverse. Three plays netted -5 yards and NYG had to settle on another field goal, this one from 40 yards, to make the score 13-10.

The NYG defense forced a three-and-out and then Jones came back on with the offense to give it another shot. He lasted two plays and one pass before taking himself out. This was going to be up to McCoy and the Giants defense. The Giants punted back to CIN and they forced them into another punt themselves after three plays. This time, however, CIN faked the punt and converted the first down. The next play netted 13 yards and CIN was starting to gain some momentum. Allen then threw a pass that was deflected by rookie corner Darnay Holmes and fell into the hands of edge rusher Niko Lalos, who was just called up from the practice squad. NYG’s defense was once again stepping up.

The NYG offense began the fourth quarter with the ball in CIN territory and even though they were playing with a lesser deck of cards, they gained enough yards to put Gano in position for another field goal. He nailed it from 39 yards to make the score 16-10. The next CIN drive resulted in a three-and-out and the one following that resulted in a fumble forced by Logan Ryan in which he recovered himself. For those keeping track, the NYG defense in the second half up until this point forced 3 three-and-outs, allowed 2 first downs, and forced 2 turnovers. NYG, then starting from inside the red zone, put up another 3 points via a 32-yard field goal by Gano to make it a 2-score game. CIN had just 3:54 left and were approaching one of their worst offensive performances in their franchise’s history.

With the help of 32 yards worth of penalties, including a 3rd-down pass interference by Holmes in the end zone, Allen found rookie Tee Higgins in the end zone for a 1-yard score. All of the sudden NYG’s lead was just a mere 2 points and McCoy was still playing quarterback. With 2:33 left, NYG was in a good position however, as CIN had just one timeout left. With that said, NYG was not able to get a first down to seal it and had to punt the ball back.

CIN punt returner Alex Erickson, one of the best in the league, was able to finagle his way 29 yards to midfield. CIN kicker Randy Bullock needed just 10 yards to give CIN a credible shot at winning this game and CIN still had about a minute left. The thought of a loss was approaching hard and fast. However, on the first play, Allen held on the ball too long and was sacked by Jabaal Sheard, which jarred the ball loose and it was recovered by Leonard Williams. Game over.

NYG wins 19-17.

QUARTERBACK

Daniel Jones: 16-27 / 213 yards / 0 TD-0 INT / 84.3 RAT

Jones added 19 yards on 6 carries. This was an incomplete game from him, as he made it through just over half of the third quarter before succumbing to the hamstring injury. When it comes to his performance, Jones looked really solid once again. He connected on two deep balls and threw a near-perfect pass on a third attempt that just slipped through the fingers of Darius Slayton. He had a lot of time and room in the pocket and his game clearly benefited from it. And once again, he did not turn the ball over. It is simply a huge difference maker and it has been the key catalyst to this stretch of NYG winning games. As for the injury, I can’t say I know what is coming because I am far from an expert in the field. But based on how he strained it and based on how high up he was grabbing, I think this isn’t going away quickly. This will impact his play for multiple weeks and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him miss a game or two.

RUNNING BACK

Wayne Gallman: 24 att / 94 yards / 1 TD and 3 rec – (-3) yards

Gallman was really effective from the start and once again, he played better than the numbers you see. His yards after contact and aggression when running up the middle is stemming from quality blocking, but also his vision and assertiveness. He runs so much bigger than his size, getting through the traffic and bursting through arm tackles. Gallman is so close to breaking a long one; it is coming. His 5-game streak of scoring a touchdown tied a franchise record.

-Dion Lewis didn’t see the ball a lot (2 carries and 1 catch) but he played a quiet but important role. He was on the field for several obvious passing situations where he picked up the CIN blitz and created both space and time for both quarterbacks on key third down conversions. It was an overlooked but vital component to NYG’s third down success. They were 9 for 21 on third downs, a solid number that played a big role.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Sterling Shepard led the team with 7 catches and was second with 64 yards. His route running and toughness in traffic were both featured in this game. There are guys who get open because of how fast and explosive they are, and then there are receivers like Shepard. He can be such a 3rd-down weapon simply because of how well he can trick defensive backs. He made an amazing play on a comeback route where he fell out of his break as the pass was already in the air, got up with the ball nearly on him, and came away with the first down grab. If McCoy is going to be the guy moving forward for a few weeks, expect Shepard to be a key part to the passing game more so than what we have seen.

-Golden Tate was targeted a season-high 9 times. He came away with 4 catches for 36 yards. He did show some toughness in traffic and came up with a couple of key third down conversions but his biggest issue remains a lack of separation. At this point, he is simply a tough guy who needs to find vacant windows against zone coverage and can make a few things happen after the catch. I do expect to see him play a somewhat bigger role if McCoy is the guy moving forward because he can break through arm tackles and gain yards after the catch. However, he just doesn’t separate well at all.

-Darius Slayton saw just 2 targets, neither of which were caught. He dropped a deep ball that would have resulted in a touchdown and even though it was a tough catch, it went through his hands. He played 69% of the snaps and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear they were nursing his ankle injury a bit.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram continued his flashes that create hope just to have them brought back down after a huge mishap. On the first drive of the game and the first drive of the second half, he caught passes downfield that properly displayed both his size and speed. Those 2 catches combined for 97 yards. He finished with 129 catches on 4 yards, but he fumbled in the second quarter and it led to a CIN field goal that put them up by 3. Engram can be such a difference maker. There are not even a handful of tight ends who can make the plays he did in this game but the turnovers and drops are enough to kill his chances long term.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Andrew Thomas did not allow any pressures, sacks, or TFL according to my record keeping. He also was not penalized. This was the first time we can walk away from a game this season saying that. Thomas was primarily matched up against Carl Lawson, an undersized but powerful and quick end who won’t be mistaken for a premiere pass rusher, but he is a solid player. Thomas contained him very well from start to finish.

-The interior had a back and forth day. Shane Lemieux started at left guard and Will Hernandez rotated in. I think the line works better with Lemieux in there, to be honest. He isn’t as stout but athletically he makes a difference and NYG has had a lot of running success via pulling their guards to trap block. Lemieux is hands down more efficient and productive in that role. Kevin Zeitler was flagged for a false start and allowed 1 pressure and 1 TFL. Nick Gates had another above average grade, he leads the group in that department.

-Cameron Fleming is still starting because Matt Peart tested positive for Covid-19. That is my opinion, anyway. He was downright awful in this one. He allowed 2 pressures and he was flagged 3 times. One of his holds was declined by CIN but the next one came on a successful 3rd-and-4 conversion late in the game. Fleming also did a poor job sealing the outside on inside runs. Really poor game by him.

EDGE

-It was an interesting day from this group. Kyler Fackrell and Jabaal Sheard each saw about 50% of the snaps. Sheard had 2 TFL and a sack-fumble that ended the game. Fackrell had 2 tackles and a pressure. He did a really nice job of setting the edge with physical punches and lockouts in the running game.

-There were three youngsters who saw snaps. Cam Brown looked like the best of the bunch, as his skill set is starting to catch up with his tools and engine. Brown can be a dangerous player if he puts things together. He had a pressure and made a key special teams stop on the final punt return that could have easily resulted in a touchdown had he not made the play. Carter Coughlin got in for about 15% of the snaps and he had a pressure that led to a CIN holding penalty. Lastly, Niko Lalos, who was brought up from the practice squad the day before the game, came up with a key defensive play. He intercepted a pass deflection by Darnay Holmes. The coaches say they love his ability to get near the action and that is exactly what happens when you have guys fly to the ball. He only saw 8 snaps on defense; he didn’t show much on his pass rush.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

-Leonard Williams recorded his 6th sack of the year while adding 2 tackles and 2 pressures. Williams’ biggest play came at the end of the game where he recovered the fumble forced by Jabaal Sheard. However, he was flagged for a roughing-the-passer penalty for the second straight game on the CIN touchdown-scoring drive. Williams was all over the field and if you really put an eyeball on him, you will notice how much he has been changing the game week to week. Whether or not to resign him will be a credibly debatable topic where strong arguments can be made on both sides. That said, I like the idea of paying a guy long term who isn’t overly reliant on explosive movement. Williams makes a huge difference with his hand power, hustle, and versatility. Those traits stick around longer.

-Dexter Lawrence seemed to have some extra pop in him. He finished with just 1 tackle and 1 pressure, but as always, his impact was strong. His back-side pursuit and ability to react are fun to watch. Dalvin Tomlinson added 1 tackle and 1 pressure. B.J. Hill and Anthony Johnson each had a pressure but didn’t do much else in their respective backup roles.

LINEBACKER

-Blake Martinez had 5 tackles, which is a quiet game for him. But CIN only ran 10 designed running plays. He, nor David Mayo, really had a lot of opportunities to make an impact. Tae Crowder was back on the field and finished with 3 tackles. His speed and pop will be important in the coming 2 weeks as NYG will be facing off against really fast offensive skill groups.

CORNERBACK

-The two outside starters, James Bradberry and Isaac Yiadom, did a nice job shutting down the outside passing game of CIN. Bradberry had a tackle and a pass break up, which was on third down. Yiadom’s play is the one that seems to be progressing. While he did allow the late touchdown to Tee Higgins, he did a nice job in deep coverage throughout he afternoon. Having so many physical and aggressive defensive backs, notably on the outside, is a huge deal and a nice sign moving forward.

-Rookie nickel Darnay Holmes had an active day. He finished with 3 tackles, 1 pressure, and a pass break up. His pass break up led to an interception and he made a couple of really physical plays against the run. His issue remains too much contact down the field in coverage, though. Holmes got flagged for a pass interference on a 3rd-down stop that brought the ball to the 1-yard line. Had NYG lost, that would have been the play we were punching the wall over. Holmes is flashing on a weekly basis; I notice him and his play speed every week. He just needs to clean it up when it comes to technique and ball location.

SAFETY

-Jabrill Peppers is really in a groove. His stat line continues to record numbers all over the place. He led the team with 6 tackles and he added a TFL, a pressure, and 2 pass break-ups. He brought a lot of energy to the defense and he is making plays each week. This is evolving into a top notch acquisition by Dave Gettleman, something that even his biggest critics have to respect. More on that below.

-Logan Ryan is also on a hot streak. His play is more back-and-forth because of how much he likes to risk and bait quarterbacks but when it pans out, it really helps the defense. He finished with 5 tackles, 2 pass break ups, and a forced fumble that he also recovered in the fourth quarter. This defense really needed to step up when Jones went down and Ryan was the one who stepped up the most.

-Julian Love played 69% of the snaps, making 2 tackles and preventing a couple of perceived deep passes early on. He looks really swift and easy on the back end. He fits in the safety group well considering what the team is having Peppers and Ryan do collectively. I question if this staff will feel confident in Xavier McKinney playing that role. McKinney was back for the first time but he only played special teams. This will be interesting to watch in the coming weeks.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 4/4 (Made 49, 40, 39, 32)

-P Riley Dixon: 5 punts / 46.6 avg / 37.8 net

3 STUDS

-S Jabrill Peppers, DB Logan Ryan, K Graham Gano

3 DUDS

-OT Cameron Fleming, WR Darius Slayton, CB Darnay Holmes

3 THOUGHTS ON CIN

  1. CIN is a much better team than what we saw a year ago. They have some pieces in the secondary, they have a solid defensive line rotation (when Reader/Atkins are healthy), and they have the franchise QB. What is missing? That offensive line really needs a facelift. Center Trey Hopkins is the only solid player right now and the jury is still out on left tackle Jonah Williams. They don’t sustain their pass blocks long enough and that division will eat that up with ease if they don’t fix it.
  1. A.J. Green looks like he is done. No, not just a step or two slower. He looks checked out. Watching the All-22 angle led me to this notion. He doesn’t finish routes, he doesn’t attack the ball, and he looks hesitant. I think he is done in CIN after this season, as CIN already has two up-and-coming pass catchers in Boyd/Higgins. Green is a waste of money and no, he isn’t worth taking a chance on if he does hit the market from the NYG perspective.
  1. Defensive end Sam Hubbard is a name I would keep a close eye on in the coming year. His rookie contract runs out after 2021. If you take a look at his stats, you won’t be impressed. He has 1 sack so far in 2020 but I really think this guy’s value goes far beyond the stat sheet. He can impact every down from multiple roles, he is incredibly smart and instinctive, and he is hyper. When it comes to what NYG wants on the edge, Hubbard is the kind of profile they are going to look at whether it is free agency or the draft.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  1. Alright, the cake walk is over. NYG has back-to-back-to-back-to-back quality opponents on the way. NYG has yet to play consecutive games against winning teams. Their next 4 all have winning records. NYG’s past 7 opponents combine for a current 26-47-2 (.347 winning %). Their next four opponents combine for a current record of 28-15 (.651 winning %). NYG’s wins were against teams that rank 23rd, 24th, 25th, and 26th in points scored. Their next four opponents rank 1st, 8th, 18th, and 12th in points scored. I think NYG can go to bed at night knowing they are no longer basement dwellers in the NFL but now the question needs to be answered, are they approaching playoff caliber or are they still trying to rise to the middle tier?
  1. What players are most responsible for NYG’s turnaround? James Bradberry, Blake Martinez, Jabrill Peppers, Leonard Williams, Logan Ryan. Sure, there are other players who have stepped up and the offensive line has been night-and-day different from what we saw earlier in the year. But just look at those names listed above and try to make an argument against them. You can’t. All were veterans acquired by Dave Gettleman via trades and signings. Gettleman has not been perfect (no GM ever has or ever will be) but his plan is starting to come into focus more and more. His background has always been in Pro Personnel and NYG is really seeing the fruits of that. And guess what…NYG is going to have money to spend over the next couple of years while their best offensive players are on cheap deals. Is there anyone in the league right now that you would rather be spending that money on impact free agents?
  1. If Daniel Jones is down and out for a week or two, that is going to be a major blow to the playoff chances. If I had to guess, we aren’t going to see him against SEA. I do have some professional knowledge in the field and that kind of high-hamstring strain is very slow healing. Maybe youth will be on his side, but Jones needs his legs to be effective and the chance of re-aggravation is high with those. This goes to show how volatile it is to constantly run your QB on designed plays. By no means am I looking down on that, but it is the truth. Running Jones as much as they do widens the odds of him getting hurt. NYG must now trot out Colt McCoy while in 1st place against the toughest grouping of games on the schedule. And with that…NYG needs to TAKE OUT designed quarterback runs for McCoy. Seeing him run around on designed runs and take hits without another QB on the roster blew my mind.
Nov 292020
 
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Wayne Gallman, New York Giants (November 29, 2020)

Wayne Gallman – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 19 – CINCINNATI BENGALS 17…
The New York Giants narrowly defeated the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday afternoon 19-17. It was New York’s third win in a row and improved their overall record to 4-7. It was the Giants’ first win in Cincinnati in team history and 700th regular-season win in team history.

The Giants are now tied for first place in the NFC East with the Washington Football Team, depending on the outcome of Monday night’s Seattle Seahawks-Philadelphia Eagles game. The Eagles are 3-6-1. The Giants also own the tie-breaker against Washington.

Despite the Giants dominating the game statistically, they almost lost the game due a hamstring injury to their starting quarterback, shoddy special teams play including allowing a kick return for a touchdown, and untimely mistakes on offense. New York out-gained Cincinnati in first downs (19 to 11), total offensive plays (80 to 46), total net yards (386 to 155), net yards rushing (142 to 40), net yards passing (244 to 115), time of possession (37:26 to 22:35), and turnover margin (3 to 1).

The Giants started off the game well, driving 76 yards in nine plays to take 7-0 lead on running back Wayne Gallman’s 1-yard run on 4th-and-goal. The key play on this drive was a 53-yard strike on 3rd-and-2 from quarterback Daniel Jones to tight end Evan Engram to the Cincinnati 4-yard line.

However, all of this good mojo was immediately erased when Bengals’ kickoff returner Brandon Wilson returned the ensuing kickoff 103 yards for a game-tying touchdown.

Also unfortunately for New York, their offense struggled for the rest of the first half. The next two Giants’ drives resulted in a total of two first downs and 35 yards before punting the ball away. On their fourth drive, the Giants did reach the Cincinnati 33-yard line after converting on 4th-and-1. But on the very next snap, Engram fumbled the ball away at the 15-yard line. The Bengals recovered the loose ball and returned it to their 45-yard line. Nine plays and 29 yards later, Cincinnati took a 10-7 lead on a 44-yard field goal.

The Giants did manage to tie the game again on their fifth and final drive of the first half. New York gained 44 yards on 11 plays to set up place kicker Graham Gano’s 49-yard field goal.

At the half, the game was tied 10-10 despite New York out-gaining Cincinnati 223 to 66 in total yards.

The Giants’ defense forced a three-and-out to start the 3rd quarter. New York then moved the ball from their own 6-yard line to the Cincinnati 17-yard line. The big play was another big pass to Engram for 44 yards. However, quarterback Daniel Jones came out of the game after 2-yard pass to Gallman on 3rd-and-1 with a hamstring issue (he had injured himself on a 7-yard run two plays earlier). The drive immediately stalled and the Giants settled for a 40-yard field goal. Giants 13 – Bengals 10.

Both teams exchanged punts with Jones returning for two more plays before leaving the game for good. The Giants then got the ball back near the end of the 3rd quarter when defensive end/linebacker Niko Lalos intercepted a deflected pass at the Cincinnati 40-yard line. The Giants only gained 19 yards in eight plays, including converting on 4th-and-1, but this was good enough to set up a Gano field goal from 39 yards out. Giants 16 – Bengals 10.

Both teams exchanged punts again. The Giants were then handed a golden opportunity to put the game away when safety Logan Ryan forced a fumble at the Cincinnati 24-yard line that he returned to the 19 with 4:12 left in the game. The Giants only managed to gain five yards and take 18 seconds off of the clock before Gano kicked a 32-yard field goal to make it a 19-10 game.

At this point, the New York defense failed as the Bengals, led by their Practice Squad quarterback Brandon Allen, easily drove 72 yards in seven plays to cut the score to 19-17 with 1:21 left in the game. The Bengals were aided by two defensive penalties including a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty on defensive end Leonard Williams and a questionable 17-yard pass interference penalty on cornerback Darnay Holmes.

It looked like the Giants had sealed the win on the ensuing drive when back-up quarterback Colt McCoy completed a 10-yard pass to Gallman on 3rd-and-4. But right tackle Cam Fleming was called for holding on the play. Punter Riley Dixon’s 61-yard punt was then returned 29 yards by the Bengals to midfield with 57 seconds left. The Bengals only needed a field goal to win the game.

The Giants’ defense ended the game on the first play of the Bengals’ attempted game-winning drive. Linebacker Jaball Sheard sacked Allen, forcing a fumble that Leonard Williams recovered at the Cincinnati 37-yard line.

Daniel Jones completed 16-of-27 passes for 213 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. Colt McCoy completed 6-of-10 passes for 31 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard caught seven passes for 64 yards while Engram caught six passes for 129 yards. Gallman rushed 24 times for 94 yards and a touchdown.

Leonard Williams was credited with a sack, three quarterback hits, and a game-winning fumble recovery. Jaball Sheard had the team’s other sack and forced the game-winning fumble. Logan Ryan forced a fumble that he recovered.

Video highlights are available on Giants.com.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
DE Niko Lalos was activated from the Practice Squad for this game.

Inactive for the game were OL Kyle Murphy, DE R.J. McIntosh, LB Trent Harris, LB T.J. Brunson, S Montre Hartage, and PK Ryan Santoso.

QB Daniel Jones left the game with a right hamstring injury in the 3rd quarter; he returned for a couple of plays before sitting out for good. LB Kyler Fackrell injured his calf in the 3rd quarter too and did not return. S Nate Ebner injured his knee in the 1st quarter and did not return.

“I don’t really know much (about Jones),” Head Coach Joe Judge said after the game. “I actually talked to him on the sidelines in terms of how he was. It was at a point where he couldn’t continue in the game, which takes a hell of a lot. Daniel is a really tough dude. So, we’ll take a look and see what it is. I don’t have much more information than what you guys probably got from the TV at the point right now. He just has the doctors and to get some MRI’s – things like that are standard procedure. We kind of MRI everything around here.”

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:

POST-GAME NOTES…
Six of the Giants’ last seven games have been decided by three points or less, including three of their four victories.

The kickoff return touchdown was the first allowed by the Giants in a road game in 30 years.

PK Graham Gano has made 25 of 26 field goal attempts this season.

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

Nov 272020
 
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THE STORYLINE

I can’t recall a time where fans of the New York Giants were this giddy despite a .300 winning percentage and still being in contention for a top 5 draft pick after Thanksgiving. But here we are. The borderline delusion is a product of being a fan of a team that is usually out of post-season contention in October, but now is still very much being alive for a playoff spot in arguably the worst division in NFL history.

The mood swing is palpable. Something’s changed. I suspect that the Giants finally beating the Philadelphia Eagles is a huge part of it. Indeed, had Evan Engram just held onto that pass, the Giants would have swept the Eagles this year. Never mind that Philly sucks. Even when they’ve been bad in the past in recent years they’ve owned the Giants. Not this year.

So with six games left, everyone in the division is bunched up together and everyone has a shot at the NFC East title. Now begins the final sprint. For the Giants, it starts with the Cincinnati Bengals, a 2-7-1 team in the best division in the AFC. The Bengals just lost their starting quarterback and there are rumors of locker room dissension.

This is a golden opportunity for the Giants. A win on Sunday combined with an Eagles loss and the Giants will be tied for first place in the NFC East with five games to play. They haven’t been in this position since 2016. Meaningful football in December? Who would have thunk it?

THE INJURY REPORT

  • WR Sterling Shepard (hip/toe – probable)
  • OG Kevin Zeitler (concussion – probable)
  • CB Brandon Williams (ankle – questionable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE

    The Giants are still 30th in yards gained and points scored. The team still doesn’t even average 20 points per game. But the needle feels like it is pointing up because of the 23 and 27 point offensive “explosions” in the past two games. This is a product of a more consistent offensive line play that has led to a more consistent ground attack that has led to more consistent quarterbacking play. Daniel Jones has not turned the football over in the past two games. The Giants are 2-0 in those games. As Sy’56 has pointed out, that’s no coincidence.

    However, just when things looked like they were on the upswing, in a shocking move, Joe Judge fired offensive line coach Marc Colombo after the last game. Now newcomer and the much-traveled Dave DeGuglielmo must catch up to speed rapidly with his new coaches, players, terminology, and playbook. How will everyone respond? That’s the great unknown. This is a major transition for any team to make in the middle of an NFL season. The line could continue its upward trend, stagnate, or regress. And everything on offense hinges on the outcome.

    The good news for the Giants is they finally will face a lesser caliber defensive team. The Cincinnati Bengals are 26th in defense in terms of yardage allowed and 22nd in points allowed. They are 30th in run defense and 22nd in pass defense. The Bengals’ defensive coordinator, Lou Anarumo, was Pat Shurmur’s defensive backs coach with the Giants in 2018. Reports out of Cincy say he is very much unpopular with his players.

    The Giants need to keep this simple. Run the football against the NFL’s 30th ranked run defense. That will continue to make life easier for the offensive line and Daniel Jones. It may be boring. It may not be conducive to putting a lot of points on the board. But the Giants don’t have the players to do more than that at this time. Grind it out, move the chains, control the clock, win the field position battle. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot with negative plays and turnovers.

    On a side note, some important reserves may not be available for this game due to COVID-19 protocols. That includes back-up tight end Kaden Smith and back-up offensive tackle Matt Peart. Newcomer wide receiver Dante Pettis is also affected.

    NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

    Statistically, the defense has been sliding and is now a middle-of-the-pack unit, 17th in yards allowed and 12th in points allowed. That feels opposite of fan impressions because the team has been playing better in recent weeks. And despite the fact that the Giants allowed 156 yards rushing to the Eagles, New York does remain 6th in run defense. Pass defense (24th) is a different story.

    The good news for the Giants is that Patrick Graham and his defensive assistants are doing a great job with the players they have. Moreover, the Giants look like they are going to get some injured players back soon. Linebackers Tae Crowder and Oshane Ximines have begun practicing and may come off of Injured Reserve. So too may safety Xavier McKinney, the 2nd-round pick who hasn’t played all year. That means that other than Injured Reserve players Lorenzo Carter, Ryan Lewis, and Adrian Colbert, the Giants are practically at full strength on defense as we approach December.

    The Bengals lost QB Joe Burrow, the first player taken in the 2020 NFL Draft, for the season last week. Instead of starting his immediate back-up against the Giants, the Bengals have elevated Practice Squad quarterback Brandon Allen to the 53-man roster and he will reportedly start on Sunday. Allen is a 2016 6th-round draft pick who is already with his fourth NFL team. He started three games for the Broncos in 2019, completing only 46 percent of his passes. That’s the extent of his regular-season experience. Huge advantage for the Giants! Right? Should be. But we all know the Giants’ long and tortured history of facing no-name back-up quarterbacks. For some reason, historically speaking, the Giants don’t make anything easy.

    Even before the injury to Burrow, the Bengals were a subpar offensive team (20th in yards, 26th in points). They don’t run the ball very well, but they do have some good targets to throw to, including wide receivers Tyler Boyd (69 catches), rookie Tee Higgins (43 catches), and veteran A.J. Green (35 catches). When I watched the Bengals-Washington game, Cincy appeared to favor the short passing game. I would think they would continue to do that with Brandon Allen at quarterback.

    It’s always the same defensive game plan when facing an inexperienced back-up at quarterback. Stop the run and force the quarterback to beat you. Mix up your coverages to confuse the QB and cause him to make stupid mistakes.

    NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

    Fingers crossed on Graham Gano coming back from COVID this week or else the Giants will have to rely on Ryan Santoso, who has never attempted a field goal or extra point in a real NFL game.

    FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

    Head Coach Joe Judge on the NFC East race: “I think when you look at this division, this is really the starting point for the division. We’re coming out of Thanksgiving…everyone is really on equal ground. The only thing that matters is what we do from this point forward.”

    THE FINAL WORD

    I still shake my head at some of the discussions in The Corner Forum by some of the fans who can’t seem to process that the Giants are still not a very good football team. 3-7 is 3-7. Bottom-ranked offense and middle-of-the-pack defense. And if the Giants were in a normal division, the team would be in last place again.

    That all said, it is fun to be alive after Thanksgiving and one can hope and dream. After all, that’s what being a fan is all about.

    That Giants have been given a tremendous opportunity. They face a bad team starting a practice squad quarterback on Sunday. Win and they could be tied for first place. Don’t blow it!

    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.