Sep 282021
 
Share Button
Evan Engram and Logan Ryan, New York Giants (September 26, 2021)

Evan Engram and Logan Ryan – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

You just don’t know how much you appreciate someone until they’re gone. It’s been just over one season since Eli Manning retired. The 16-year quarterback who won two Super Bowls and made the playoffs six times had his day in the sun at MetLife Stadium during a halftime ceremony. He officially had his number retired and nameplate hung on the Ring of Honor within the stadium. Eli Manning, a career .500 quarterback who had his fair share of ups and downs, cheers and boos, successes, and failures. While the demise of NYG began toward the back nine of his career, it was never, ever this bad. NYG, the biggest losers in the NFL since the start of 2017, were set to face the 0-2 Atlanta Falcons, experiencing a similar decline as their long-time franchise signal caller is nearing the end of his career. They were 18-32 over their last 50 games with an offense that has gone backwards each season since 2018 and very little long-term hope on the roster. Barring a tie, one of these teams would be leaving 0-3.

For the first time this season, all of the starting NYG offensive weapons were on the field. Evan Engram was back after missing time with a calf injury and Kenny Golladay got the nod after being questionable all week with a hip injury. They were up against defense that allowed the most points in the NFL, the most passing touchdowns in the NFL, and the 6th-most yards per carry in the NFL. They were home on one of the nicest days of the year with zero weather negatives. It was time to make a statement.

After stopping ATL on their first drive, we saw a 14-yard gain on short pass to Barkley in open space, a 38-yard gain on absolute dime to C.J. Board from Daniel Jones, and a 3rd-and-1 conversion on a running play designed for Jones, the NYG leading rusher on the season. They had 1st-and-goal from inside the ATL 10-yard line but an 11-yard sack on 2nd-and-goal pushed them too far back. They settled on a 25-yard field goal by Graham Gano to make it 3-0. The NYG defense stopped ATL again on the ensuing drive, giving NYG the ball back. A first down play-action pass to start the drive resulted in another double-digit gain, this one 19 yards to Golladay. NYG have had a lot of success with that approach. On the next play (a first down), NYG took a 3-yard loss on a running play. They punted 3 snaps later.

Following yet another stop by the NYG defense, this one a three-and-out, NYG put together a 15-play drive. They reached the red zone, setting up a 1st-and-10 from the ATL 17-yard line. Jones missed a shotgun snap and it resulted in an 11-yard loss (their second 11-yard loss of the half). Two plays later, running back Elijhaa Penny was flagged for a false start. It was now 3rd-and-22 from the ATL 29-yard line. NYG settled for another field goal attempt, this one from 31 yards. Gano nailed it again and NYG had a 6-0 lead. ATL did breach NYG territory for the first time on the next drive, but a solid defensive play by Logan Ryan forced yet another punt.

NYG started the next drive inside their own 5. They converted a 3rd-and-6 on a pass to Board, but he was flagged for pushing off. Another shot to their own foot. They punted the ball back to ATL with just over 2 minutes left before halftime. ATL started the possession inside NYG territory and had gains of 3, 12, and 14 yards in addition to an unnecessary roughness penalty on safety Xavier McKinney, giving them 8 more yards and putting them inside the 10. Ryan then hit Olamide Zaccheaus for a 4-yard touchdown. ATL needed just 36 seconds of game clock in a hurry up situation to take the lead, 7-6. There was, however, enough time left on the clock for NYG to pursue more points.

Jones hit Evan Engram for a 13-yard gain on the second play of the drive. The super-athlete but sub-par football player who many NYG fans are still hoping turns the corner fumbled. ATL recovered and took control of the ball on the NYG 36-yard line. It was an ugly scene for Engram, who is visibly in the doghouse among the NYG faithful. He heard the loudest booing directed at one player I have heard in a long time inside the stadium. Fortunately, he was saved by an Azeez Ojulari sack-fumble, which was recovered by Lorenzo Carter on a 3rd-and-9. NYG then took a knee and went into halftime down by 1.

The two offenses traded scoreless possessions to start off the second half. On the first play of the NYG’s second possession, Barkley took a 20-yard gain on a short pass that again, got him the ball in space. It was called back because guard Will Hernandez illegally moved downfield before the ball was thrown. Instead of 1st-and-10 from the ATL 36, it was 1st-and-15 from the NYG 39. 25-yard swings like that are so vital to an offense that is already bottom tier. NYG did make it back on to the ATL side of the field eventually. On 4th-and-4 from the ATL 39, Judge opted to punt. There was no trust in this offense’s ability, on a day where Jones had been performing well and Barkley-space plays were working, to get that tough first down.

NYG inched their way down the field on their next possession. Consecutive gains of 11, 4, 12, 3, 7, 4, 1, 5, and 16 yards brought them inside the ATL 10-yard line. A pass interference called on ATL corner Fabian Moreau got the ball to the 1-yard line and from there, Barkley scored his first touchdown since December 29, 2019. That is about two and a half months before the Covid-19 pandemic started to put that date into perspective. NYG put another 2 points on the board via a Jones-run where he barreled over ATL star defensive tackle Grady Jarrett. NYG had a 14-7 lead in the fourth quarter.

The greatest sign of a good defense is coming up with the big stops when it matters most. NYG’s defense had put forth an admirable effort to this point, but they needed one more quarter of quality football. On the very next drive, ATL tied it up through a 15-play drive. They converted four straight 3rd downs while the NYG defensive backfield took turns getting beat. Logan Ryan was flagged for a pass interference in the end zone. Rodarius Williams was beat by Tajae Sharpe, who is holding on by a thread in this league. Adoree Jackson dropped an interception and was also beat on an earlier 3rd down. Matt Ryan hit blocking tight end Lee Smith on a 1-yard pass for the touchdown following Logan Ryan’s penalty, tying it up at 14 with just over 4 minutes left.

NYG got the ball to midfield with just over 2 minutes left. This was the most important part of the game where Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett needed to find a way to gain another 15 yards for the automatic Graham Gano. The two most reliable plays this season (knowing Sterling Shepard was out with a hamstring injury) have been designed runs for Jones and quick passes to Barkley in space. Garrett opted for a pass to Engram (incomplete), a deep drop back (9-yard sack), and then a quick pass to Barkley in space (10-yard gain). It was a 4th-and-9 from the 50. An 0-2 team that has had issues stopping offenses in 2-minute situations playing against a defense that had allowed 30 4th quarter points over the first two weeks. It was time for Judge to make his “Harbaugh Go-For-It” decision. He opted to punt and hope for overtime. Riley Dixon sailed one into the end zone and ATL had the ball, with all of their timeouts, just 40 yards away from field goal range.

It took just 3 plays for ATL to gain 55 yards. They bled the clock out (NYG used 2 timeouts earlier on avoiding a delay-of-game penalty and defensive confusion pre-snap). Kicker Younghoe Koo, who grew up about 20 minutes from MetLife, hit a 40-yard field goal with :00 left on the clock.

NYG loses, 17-14.

QUARTERBACK

-Daniel Jones: 24/35 – 266 yards – 0 TD – 0 INT / 90.9 RAT

Jones also added 39 yards on 8 carries and scored a 2-point conversion via the ground. He fumbled twice, both of which he recovered himself. Another solid performance by the third-year quarterback. He had one of the top throws of the day across the entire league in the first quarter on a 3rd-and-4 go route to C.J. Board. He lost Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard early on to injury but made most of the situation. I wish Garrett had put more on his shoulders on that final drive in the 4th quarter. Those are the situations NYG needs clarity on regarding his future with the club. Jones has thrown just 1 interception over his last 9 games and remains one of the top rushing threats in the league at the position.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 16 att – 51 yards – 1 TD / 6 rec – 43 yards

The arrow continues to point up for Barkley, although he still isn’t playing at the level this team needs if they have any thought of getting out of the basement among NFL offenses. Too much dancing, not seeing the cutback lanes, and the lack of quality decision making are bothersome. He also tripped over his own feet three more times. He is so explosive in a straight line, but he keeps on violently slamming his front foot into the ground looking to shake a pursuing defender. He is constantly looking for the highlight reel rather than making the sure yards and it is impacting this offense in a negative way. At 0-3, I expect Garrett to start getting him the ball 25+ times per game now. There is a right and wrong way to do that. More on this below.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Kenny Golladay: 4 rec – 64 yards

After missing the week of practice with a hip injury, Golladay was an unknown until just a couple hours before kickoff. He was on a limited snap count, as he was on the field for just 70% of the offensive plays. He made a couple of aggressive plays on the ball and after the catch, showing notable grit and toughness. He also forced two pass interference penalties. One positive of having a big receiver like this is exactly that. Corners, especially in big situations, tend to get too handsy on and grabby with them because of the size disadvantage.

-Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton both went down early with separate injuries. I would expect them to be out for at least a couple weeks, opening the door for the forgotten John Ross III potentially. This created an opportunity for the sizable Collin Johnson, recently picked up off of waivers from Jacksonville. He led the receivers with 5 catches, totaling 51 yards. He was the main target for Jones on 3rd downs and it worked out well.

-Rookie Kadarius Toney saw the field often in the first half. He had 2 catches on 2 consecutive plays. He gained solid yards after the catch both times and it was a solid way to get him involved. I was hoping to see him get another touch or two in the second half, but it didn’t pan out that way.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram returned after missing 2 games with a calf injury sustained in preseason. It was an ugly afternoon despite seeing just over half the snaps. He caught 2 passes on 6 targets and lost a fumble in the 2nd quarter. For the rest of the afternoon, Engram was booed every time the ball was thrown his way and cheered every time he came off the field.

-Kaden Smith caught 1 pass for 9 yards and allowed a pressure while Kyle Rudolph did not see any action in the passing game and allowed a TFL. The combination of Rudolph and Smith at least gives NYG a real and dependable expectation from the position. Engram is so volatile, and the negative plays may turn him into a part time, gimmick-only type asset to the offense. Usable and worthy of a gamble here and there, but simply not an every down player.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-A solid game overall for the group albeit against a weak ATL defensive front. Andrew Thomas was the star of the day, throwing a shutout and completely locking down anyone who lined up across from him. Right tackle Nate Solder allowed 3 pressures and a sack. That sack was at a vital time of the game on the final NYG drive. He was also flagged for a hold that ATL declined on the play.

-The interior had a poor game overall. It was a step up in relation to what we are used to seeing here, but it was still a poor overall performance. Will Hernandez allowed 2 TFL and was flagged for an illegal-man-downfield penalty on a 20-yard pickup. Ben Bredeson allowed a sack, TFL, and pressure. It wasn’t a pretty stat line but he actually performed notably well the rest of the way. He needs to be better, but he showed he can hang at left guard. Billy Price allowed a TFL and continues to look sloppy. On the sack that Bredeson allowed, Price was supposed to be in on the double team there. However, he tripped and fell, leaving a lane open for the ATL defender (Jarrett). He and Hernandez are too often ending up on the ground because of balance issues, a major no-no. Good defensive fronts are going to see that and play games with them.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-The two headliners of the group, Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence both had above average grades on my scale. Williams produced the trifecta, recording a sack, TFL, and pressure in addition to 5 tackles. He was just a few inches away on multiple occasions from making additional plays in the backfield as well. He was getting off the ball well and caused a lot of disruption. Lawrence added 3 pressures and 3 tackles. He got a lot of push up the middle and forced Ryan into quick decisions throughout the afternoon.

-Impressive game from Austin Johnson. He had 5 tackles, 1 sack, and a pressure. He and Danny Shelton are two solid options inside who control multiple gaps against the inside run.

LINEBACKER

-Rookie Azeez Ojulari recorded his 3rd sack in as many games. On paper, it is woefully impressive and encouraging. However, as we have seen since the first preseason game, there isn’t enough impact elsewhere. He played in just half the snaps and didn’t make a lot of noise other than that play. However, a sack that produced a turnover via fumble is the kind of play this defense is starving for more of. He is off to a good start and isn’t even in the discussion when talking about the issues on this defense. I feel good about his future.

-Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines each finished with 1 tackle apiece. Carter’s was for a loss and he recovered the fumble that was forced by Ojulari. It was a disappointing game from these two, and the outside pass rush continues to be low-level and overall detriment to this defense as a whole.

-Inside, Blake Martinez was lost in the first quarter with a non-contact ACL injury. His 2021 season is over. While in the grand scheme of things it won’t matter because this team doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, this defense will miss his presence. Tae Crowder took over the green dot-duty, the play-caller of the defense. His on-field IQ won’t be near the level of Martinez, as seen in the frustration from Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham on a 3rd down where the team was forced to take a timeout because of alignment issues. He did end up with 11 tackles and does bring a different level of speed to the defense.

-Reggie Ragland finished with 4 tackles and may see an uptick in playing time, although I am curious to see who this front office brings in off the market to fill the Martinez roster spot.

CORNERBACK

-The ATL receivers are not a good matchup for James Bradberry. I said earlier in the week that it may suit NYG well to have the Giants top defensive back shadow rookie “tight end” Kyle Pitts all afternoon rather than stick to the crossing route-heavy ATL receivers. He allowed a touchdown and two first downs. He did have an impressive pass break up in the first quarter. He didn’t have a poor game, but certain types of receivers (quick-footed, change of direction guys) give him major issues.

-Adoree’ Jackson had another poor game and continues to warrant the “overpaid” label. He missed a tackle, dropped an interception, and showed low effort on a couple plays to his side. Jackson, like Jabrill Peppers, seems to lack situational awareness. Corner is a very difficult position to play (second hardest in the game in my opinion), but Jackson just isn’t big enough to play with such poor recognition and reaction time.

-Rodarius Williams replaced Darnay Holmes as the team’s nickel back. He was flagged for a pass interference on a 3rd-down stop and missed 2 tackles. From the All-22 angle, he did seem to stick to the ATL crossing routes better than the two guys mentioned above. That is a good sign for a corner that has solid size and ball skills.

SAFETY

-Logan Ryan had a poor game and it was mostly about the plays he did not make. He missed 2 tackles, dropped an interception, and was flagged for a 3rd-down pass interference in the end zone that led to an ATL touchdown. This is the leader of the defense and now, with the injury to Martinez. He received a notable payday this past offseason and plays a position that needs to make plays that alter a game. Plain and simple, Ryan needs to elevate his game even though I know he isn’t a weak point of the defense.

-Xavier McKinney seems to be having issues with the mental side of the game. He is fooled by misdirection way too much. The contrast between him and Julian Love there is obvious. It is hard to play safety if you get fooled that easily, just ask Jabrill Peppers. Peppers had 7 tackles and 2 pressures in addition to a couple solid punt returns. The All-22 shows how blatantly obvious it is that he just can’t forecast or anticipate. He is a top shelf athlete who can react well enough in most situations, but the lack of instincts shuts the door on his play-making potential. He is an easy target when a team needs a first down.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 2/2 XP.
-P Riley Dixon: 5 Punts – 45.8 avg / 37.0 net. His biggest punt of the day, one from the 50 in the 4th quarter, was a complete failure that resulted in a touchback. Field position was crucial there.

3 STUDS

-OT Andrew Thomas, DT Leonard Williams, WR Kenny Golladay

3 DUDS

-LB Lorenzo Carter, S Logan Ryan, OG Will Hernandez

3 THOUGHTS ON ATL

(1) Cordarrelle Patterson is one of the most unique players in the league, if not the most. He spent 5 years in the league as a wide receiver after being drafted 29th overall by MIN. He then went to NE primarily for special teams, but they started to put him in the backfield because of injuries. From that point, he never saw more targets than he did carries. He also remained one of the top kick returners in the game (a trait he has had since his rookie season) and an above average gunner. Patterson is now 30 (old for the NFL) and producing some of his best results across multiple roles. I think he is the best running back on the ATL roster and could end up being the leading rusher by year’s end. I can’t think of another first-round receiver who made a position change this late into his career, played on 5 teams in 9 years, and continued to improve his status into his 30’s. Ever.

(2) The Falcons organization as a whole is in a very tough spot. They owe Matt Ryan a TON of money over the next few years and it is not a contract they can get out of. The cap penalties are enormous and would set records for dead money. They don’t have a young QB in the wings and they may not lose enough games to head into the draft in position to grab one. This is a similar situation to where NYG was with Eli Manning in the 2017-2019 time period. Perhaps he is good enough if the talent around him very good, but it simply isn’t. The ATL defense has very little potential, and the offensive line is average at best. I think they are in for a rough few years coming up unless they hit a few home runs, not even doubles, in the draft.

(3) The one hope they have, besides staying healthy which they have so far, is the fact they do win the turnover battle often and they are in a lot of games. They had leads in 13 of 16 games last year and they led at halftime in 9 of 16 games (80% win rate). Head Coach Arthur Smith was the catalyst in Ryan Tannehill’s resurgence in Tennessee, too. I think .500 is a reach for them, but a few bounces their way could lead to a 9-10 win season.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

(1) I have been on the critical side of Jason Garrett for a few reasons, one of which is right below. However, I am going to say this and it may surprise some of you. The offense did not perform poorly. As a matter of fact, they played well when looking at some of the more important metrics. They had a successful play rate of over 50%, they were solid on 3rd down, their pass protection graded above average, and they spread the ball out well. Why only 14 points? Big mistakes at inopportune times by the offensive line and questionable play selection in the red zone.

(2) On to my critique of Garrett when it comes to Barkley. I did some extra work on his involvement and came away with this:

  • Barkley had 9 touches in space. They totaled 62 yards (6.9 yards per)*
  • Barkley had 12 touches into traffic. They totaled 32 yards (2.7 per).

*Does not include the 20-yard gain (into space) on the Hernandez penalty.

Obviously, these plays can’t all be directly compared because of situational football. And yes, you need to take into account specific situations. However, it does paint a picture, at least somewhat, where this offense should go in key situations late in games. On that final offensive drive, they didn’t get the ball to him in space, they did not run play-action (Jones’ top passing numbers when it comes to splits), and they did not opt for any designed runs for Jones (another high-success marker). That, to me, does not make sense.

(3) 0-3. Two losses by a combined 4 points. Several missed opportunities in the red zone and a defense that can’t stop the opposition over the final 2 minutes of a half. Is NYG getting blown out? No. The difference between them and teams like the Jets and Jaguars is apparent. These close, emotional losses tend to bring out unfair doomsday thoughts in fans. I don’t think this team is going anywhere this season, but I am not mailing it in just yet. They are in games and are a few bonehead plays away from 2 wins. I’m not a moral victory guy, so please don’t take it that way. But an offsides last week and maybe one less shot to the foot this week (dropped INTs, penalties…etc)…just one less, and NYG could be 2-1 right now. Margins are that close and that is why I don’t think you can label NYG a bottom tier team in 2021 just yet. Time is running out though and I am curious to see how they respond in a tough situation on the road against a solid defense. I’ll be watching.

Sep 262021
 
Share Button
Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 26, 2021)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

ATLANTA FALCONS 17 – NEW YORK GIANTS 14…
The Atlanta Falcons defeated the New York Giants 17-14 on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Atlanta secured the game on a 40-yard field goal as time expired. The Giants are now 0-3 on the season, and have lost two games in a row on a walk-off, game-winning field goal by the opponent.

At halftime, former Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning had his #10 jersey retired and was inducted into the team’s “Ring of Honor.”

The Giants out-gained the Falcons in first downs (21 to 18), total net yards (346 to 296), net yards rushing (100 to 69), net yards passing (246 to 227), and time of possession (31:51 to 28:09). The turnover battle was tied with each team losing a fumble that did not lead to points. The Giants were flagged eight times for 53 yards in penalties, however.

The Giants’ defense played well for most of the contest except for the now predictable late collapses at the end of the first half and at the end of the game. The Falcons had six possessions in the first half, with the first four resulting in a total of four first downs and four punts. However, their fifth drive started with 2:09 left in the first half, and the Falcons were able to drive 44 yards in six plays and 36 seconds to score a go-ahead touchdown. The Falcons got the ball one more time before intermission after a turnover, but the Giants defense forced a turnover of its own when linebacker Azeez Ojulari sacked the quarterback and forced a fumble that linebacker Lorenzo Carter recovered.

Not counting the kneel down at the end of the first half, the Giants had five first-half possessions of their own. Two were very long drives. The Giants’ first possession of the game picked up 73 yards on 11 plays; the Giants’ third possession gained 73 yards on 15 plays. The problem was New York settled for two short field goals with both possessions stalling inside the red zone. This gave the Giants a 6-0 lead that they held until the Falcons scored a touchdown late in the half. Then tight end Evan Engram fumbled the ball away at the New York 38-yard line after a 13-yard catch late in the half.

At the break, the Falcons led 7-6.

Neither team scored in the 3rd quarter with both teams punting twice. However, late in this quarter, the Giants did begin a 10-play, 71-yard drive that ended with a go-ahead touchdown by running back Saquon Barkley from one yard out. Quarterback Daniel Jones then ran for a score on the 2-point conversion and the Giants were up 14-7 with just under 13 minutes to play in the game.

Unfortunately, the New York defense could not hold the lead and immediately gave up a 15-play, 72-yard drive to the Falcons that resulted in a 1-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 14-14 with just over four minutes to play.

With the game on the line, the New York offense picked up two first downs, but stalled at mid-field when Jones was sacked for nine yards on 2nd-and-10. With less than two minutes to play, the Giants punted the ball back to Atlanta.

The result was predictable. Starting at their own 20-yard line, Atlanta easily drove into field goal range with pass completions of 28 and 25 yards on two of their first three plays. The Falcons gained three more yards before kicking the game-winning, 40-yard field goal with no time left on the clock.

Jones completed 24-of-35 passes for 266 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions. He also ran the ball eight times for 39 yards and was sacked twice. His leading receiver was Barkley, who caught six passes for 43 yards. Wide receiver Collin Johnson caught five passes for 51 yards and wide receiver Kenny Golladay caught four passes for 64 yards. Barkley carried the ball 16 times for just 51 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, the Falcons were held to 296 total yards and 69 yards rushing. Defensive linemen Austin Johnson and Leonard Williams each had sacks in addition to Ojulari, who forced the fumble that Carter recovered.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

Video of quarterback Eli Manning’s #10 jersey retirement and “Ring of Honor” induction at halftime is also available at Giants.com.

ROSTER MOVES, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
On Saturday, the Giants signed WR C.J. Board and OC Jonotthan Harrison to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad. The team also placed LB Cam Brown (hamstring) on Injured Reserve.

Inactive for the game were RB Devontae Booker, LB Justin Hilliard, CB Sam Beal, CB Josh Jackson, and Nate Ebner (quad).

LB Blake Martinez (knee), WR Sterling Shepard (hamstring), and WR Darius Slayton (hamstring) all left the game in the first half with injuries 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:

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

Sep 242021
 
Share Button
New York Giants Fans (December 15, 2019)

© USA TODAY Sports

THE STORYLINE:
In The Corner Forum last week, I argued that the Week 2 game against Washington was not a “must-win” game as many were arguing. In my opinion, the NFC East is going to be subpar once again and there is a good chance that a team that is hovering around .500 in December will still be alive for the division title. Barring serious injury issues, I also believe the New York Giants will become stronger on offense and defense as the year progresses.

That all said, this game against the Atlanta Falcons feels like it has a greater significance than an ordinary Week 3 contest. For one, this is a very winnable game for New York. Second, and most importantly, at 0-2, the margin for error is rapidly diminishing for the Giants. Third, the symbol of the team’s most recent successful past – Eli Manning – will be honored at the game.

I think poster Osi Osi Osi OyOyOy captured my thoughts when he wrote:

I feel like due to a lot of different factors, this game is particularly meaningful when it comes to the organization’s outlook. We’ve had “must-win” early season games over the years, which we typically lose, we even had some “must-win” games later on last year due to the ineptness of the NFC East.

But the vibe I get for this game just doesn’t feel like the usual “must-win to keep the season alive” game. It really feels like the entire organizational structure is on the hot seat, from the Owner to the GM to the Head Coach to the QB to the RB to the Defensive Coordinator to the rookie 1st round draft pick, etc. This feels like a “must win to keep the franchise from crumbling” type of game.

The Falcons are the worst team in football right now, their organization has had their own issues over the last handful of years. The Giants are simply a better team than them and should take care of business to get back into the 2021 divisional race.

We’ve been bad for so long that I’m pretty much expecting the worst. But if we can’t beat the Falcons this week, the backlash on here and in the media would be insane. I can only imagine what a shitshow this place would be on Monday if we lost and Jones/Barkley played poorly with Toney doing nothing and the defense playing poorly again.

I’ve felt down about this Franchise plenty over recent years, but thinking about the fallout of a loss this weekend just makes me feel uncomfortable and sick. I can’t really remember feeling this specific type of way about a game before.

We better win.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Saquon Barkley (knee – probable)
  • WR Kenny Golladay (hip – questionable)
  • WR Kadarius Toney (ankle – probable)
  • TE Evan Engram (calf- questionable)
  • TE Kaden Smith (knee- probable)
  • NT Austin Johnson (illness – probable)
  • LB Cam Brown (hamstring – out)
  • S Logan Ryan (hamstring – probable)
  • S Nate Ebner (quad- questionable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Daniel Jones and the offense had a good night against a good defense last Thursday, scoring 29 points with two almost-touchdowns being erased. But one game does not make a trend. Saquon Barkley played far more than anticipated, and had a 41-yard run, but his other touches were non-productive. He should continue to get better as he rounds into football shape, but the question is can he and will he attain his rookie form? If he can, this offense can be truly dangerous.

Once again, the offensive line is in disarray. Don’t write off Matt Peart, but his short-term inability to win the starting right tackle job clearly was not expected by team leadership. And the serious injuries to Nick Gates and Shane Lemieux, two of the three interior starters, has the entire franchise scrambling. Billy Price and Ben Bredeson, who were added only a few weeks ago, are now the new starters.

Fan ire seems to be directed at rookie Kadarius Toney, but his slow development was easy to predict once he missed most of the offseason. The guy who needs to get it going is veteran Kenny Golladay. The return of Evan Engram should help this offense as long as he doesn’t screw up.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The defense was supposed to carry the team this year. Through two games, it is currently ranks 26th in yards allowed and 25th in points allowed. It can’t stop the run or the pass. It can’t get off of the field on 3rd and 4th down. Most damning of all, it can make the critical stops in key situations at the end of the 2nd and 4th quarters.

It’s not one issue. Coaching appears to have been a problem, but players are not making plays, including guys who have a proven track record under the current coaching staff. Whatever the reasons, they need to get this fixed, and fast.

The secret of good defense has always been the same. Play smart. Pursue and gang tackle. Stop the run. Get after the passer. Play tight coverage. Get the football. That will never change.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
I just want to mention what a tremendous performance by Graham Gano last Thursday night. Indeed, it may have been the best performance by a kicker in team history, nailing field goals of 23, 35, 47, 52, and 55 in less-than-ideal conditions. He deserved the win.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham:I need to do a better job of coaching. That’s my job.

THE FINAL WORD:
The wiggle room is disappearing. The fans are starting to tune out again. A reminder of the more successful past will be standing on the sideline. This team desperately needs to win this game.

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

Odell Beckham, Jr. – © USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons 23 – New York Giants 20

QUICK RECAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYG failed to recover the onsides kick.

NYG loses 23-20.

QUARTERBACKS

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

RUNNING BACKS

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

WIDE RECEIVERS

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

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

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

TIGHT ENDS

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

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

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

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

GUARDS/CENTERS

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

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

EDGE

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

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

DEFENSIVE LINE

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

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

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

LINEBACKERS

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

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

CORNERBACKS

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

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

SAFETIES

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

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

SPECIAL TEAMS

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

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

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

3 STUDS

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

3 DUDS

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

3 THOUGHTS ON ATL

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

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

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

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

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

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

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

Oct 232018
 
Share Button

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

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

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

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

At the half, the Falcons led 10-3.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct 202018
 
Share Button
New York Giants Fans (October 11, 2018)

It Hurts – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: New York Giants at Atlanta Falcons, October 22, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
Some regular-season games are simply more important than others. And the New York Giants ended their season on October 11th when they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles. Had they won, they would have very much still been alive in a mediocre to-date division. Now the 1-5 (0-2 in the NFC East) Giants find themselves ensconced in last place. Could the Giants still catch the Eagles, Cowboys, and Redskins and win the division with 10 games left? Sure. There is a ton of football still left to be played and the Giants are only two games out of first place. But it doesn’t feel like that is possible. The fans already sense it. And it seems like the players do as well. The telltale sign was not just the fact that the Giants lost to the Eagles (again), but they way they lost. With everything on the line, they came up disgustingly small.

So once again, the focus and tenor of the game previews must change. The individual match-ups no longer matter, but the big picture does. We need to take a couple of steps back and evaluate the organization, where this team is heading, and how it is being led? This isn’t fun. While the Giants haven’t officially entered Cleveland Browns territory in terms of organizational futility (yet), it is clear the Giants are now one of the doormats of the NFL. We are the team that other teams can’t wait playing against. We are the team that fills up the highlight reels for the opposition. We are the team that other fans say, “Who are we playing this weekend? The Giants? That’s a win.”

The Giants are not being well led. Ownership has made a series of catastrophic misjudgments. With each passing day, it is clear that former General Manager Jerry Reese and former Vice President of Player Evaluation Marc Ross were not only terrible at their jobs, but they turned a 2x Super Bowl winner into a laughing stock in just five short years. Yet when ownership finally decided enough was enough in January 2016, the team fired Tom Coughlin, promoted Ben McAdoo, kept the bulk of Coughlin’s coaching staff, and retained Reese and Ross. If folks recall, the Eagles appeared to have goaded ownership into hiring McAdoo quickly for fear of losing him to Philadelphia. The Eagles, who hired Doug Pederson, are probably still getting a good chuckle over that one.

When the Giants collapsed in 2017, arguably one of the franchise’s very worst seasons in team history, ownership fired McAdoo and Reese before the season was even over. Ross was fired later. The decision to hire Dave Gettleman was telegraphed from the start, and guaranteed as soon as ownership hired Ernie Accorsi to “advise” on the hiring process. Gettleman was groomed under Accorsi and worked under Reese and Ross. He certainly wasn’t a break from the past. And at the age of 67, his hiring certainly wasn’t made with a view for the long-term. It has been suggested that he simply would be a temporary bridge until Assistant GM Kevin Abrams, who has been with the team since 1999, was ready. So right or wrong, ownership made the decision that the organization was not structurally broken and that most of the college and pro scouts were still good at their job. They came to the conclusion that if they just fired Reese and Ross, just like they had made the previous decision that if they just fired Coughlin, everything would be fine. Thus far, it looks like they have made yet another huge misjudgment. I’ll get into the specifics below. But take a quick look at the roster. I repeatedly made the point before the season that it was top heavy. It is even more so today. You have a number of big names sprinkled throughout the roster and then a bunch of castoffs from around the league. Most of these names are barely recognizable and many of them should not even be on an NFL roster.

Which brings us to the third and final glaring mistake by ownership. Once again, they believed this team was only a few roster moves away from seriously competing for a Super Bowl. Nothing could be farther from the truth. And the fact that they could not recognize this is both startling and scary.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Jawill Davis (concussion – out)
  • WR Russell Shepard (neck – questionable)
  • TE Evan Engram (knee)
  • TE Rhett Ellison (foot)
  • LT Nate Solder (neck)
  • RG Patrick Omameh (knee – questionable)
  • LB Olivier Vernon (ribs)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:

  • Quarterbacks: The Eli Manning era is over. It’s last hurrah was 2016, but the organization didn’t recognize it and still may not recognize it. In terms of championships, statistics, memorable moments, and overall class, Manning will always be regarded as one of the most important figures in franchise history. But it’s over. All that remains to be seen is when and how he officially departs. It sucks, but such is the price for how poorly the Giants were mismanaged during the last third of his career. Now the franchise must work quickly to replace him or the Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley eras will also have a tragic feel to them. What is the plan here? Oddly, Gettleman and Pat Shurmur gave all of the second-team quarterback reps from May-August to a guy who they cut. It took them that long to realize that Davis Webb was not a viable NFL quarterback? And unless you think Alex Tanney is the second coming of Kurt Warner, the Giants had better bump Kyle Lauletta up to the #2 spot soon, if for no other reason than to give him the limited number of practice snaps. The Giants must have a good read on Lauletta heading into the 2019 offseason. They can ill-afford another Davis Webb-like screw-up. The way Shurmur handled Webb and Lauletta in the summer is a huge red flag.
  • Running Backs: Saquon Barkley will always be judged against the quarterbacks taken in the 2018 NFL Draft, probably on a weekly basis. But Barkley is the real deal. He’s a difference maker and capable of someday actually wearing that gold jacket. Personally, I’m thrilled he is a New York Giant. Wayne Gallman is a decent back-up. Why Gettleman signed Johnathan Stewart to the contract he did in the offseason is another worrisome sign.
  • Wide Receivers: Any team could win with Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard at wide receiver. But the Giants do have a brewing problem with Beckham if they keep losing. And this is not so much a generational thing either. I remember when even “class acts” like Harry Carson demanded to be traded because of the team losing. Beckham is being wasted and he knows it. The rest of the receiving corps outside him and Sterling Shepard is embarrassingly bad.
  • Tight Ends: Again, most teams can win with Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison at tight end.
  • Offensive Line: While very few people thought it possible the Giants could fix the offensive line in one year, Gettleman and company appear to have batted 1-for-5 in the offseason. They made the disappointing Nate Solder one of the highest paid offensive linemen in football, they believed either Jon Halapio or Brett Jones could handle the center spot, they signed Patrick Omameh to a big offseason deal, and they believed Ereck Flowers may be able to handle the right tackle position. The ONLY good offseason move on the offensive line appears to have been drafting Will Hernandez. The franchise as a whole colossally screwed this up AGAIN. So the Giants will now enter the offseason once again desperately needing to fill 3-4 starting jobs (not to mention depth) and probably have to waste valuable cap space on dead money for cutting mistakes. I can’t emphasize this enough. The Giants are still making huge errors when it comes to evaluating offensive line talent.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:

  • Defensive Line: The Giants are also wasting Damon Harrison, who is one of the most talented interior defensive linemen in team history. Combined with Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill, these three are not a problem and form a core group to build a viable 3-4 defense around. Depth is also good here.
  • Linebackers: Due to injuries or whatever reason, Olivier Vernon never lived up to the hype. He teases, but can’t be counted on. The Giants need to make a decision about him in the offseason. Roll the dice again, or take their losses and have to deal with yet another glaring hole to fill. Signing Kareem Martin in free agency to a big contract also appears to have been a mistake and throws into doubt James Bettcher’s ability to evaluate talent since he undoubtedly lobbied heavily for Martin. Signing the over-the-hill Connor Barwin, who appears to have a chronic knee issue, was another indication that management felt this team was closer to competing than it really was. The Giants need to start Lorenzo Carter. He’s the future. Inside, giving up two picks for Alec Ogletree looks like a questionable move. And B.J. Goodson has not developed as hoped. Taken overall, the Giants moved to a linebacker-centric defense yet still don’t appear to have the linebackers to make it work.
  • Defensive Backs: As disappointing as the linebacker position has been, the marquee defensive backs really have let the team down. Landon Collins was supposed to thrive in this defense. He has not. Right now, Collins is still living off his 2016 season hype. Janoris Jenkins is also not playing up to his capabilities. Eli Apple has played better, but he also missed two critically-important games due to injury. The rest of the secondary is filled with journeymen castoffs. This unit has significantly deteriorated since 2016. If Jenkins were to go down, it probably would be considered the worst group in the NFL.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:

  • Punter: Giving up a draft pick for Riley Dixon was a mistake. They probably could have picked up a similar punter off of the waiver wire.
  • Place Kicker: Aldrick Rosas may actually be the most pleasant surprise of the season. He might be here a long, long time.
  • Returners: Management and coaching never addressed the kick/punt return issues that we all saw brewing since the summer.

THE FINAL WORD:
It is not outside the realm of possibility that the Giants win a few games and raise hopes again. I’m still rooting for this team to win. It’s in my DNA. But the quarterback is done, the offensive line is still a mess, and there are serious talent deficiencies on defense at linebacker and defensive back. The problem is the Giants have made so many screw ups in recent drafts that they keep trying to fix it by overspending in free agency, causing cap issues.

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

Sep 212015
 
Share Button

quint-jaws

Atlanta Falcons 24 – New York Giants 20

Gruesome Introduction

Y’all know me. Know how I earn a livin’. I’ll write this review for you, but it ain’t gonna be easy. Bad team. Not like going down the playoffs chasin’ Packers and Patriots. This season, swallow you whole. Little shakin’, little tenderizin’, an’ down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that’ll bring back your fans, put all your businesses on a payin’ basis. But it’s not gonna be pleasant. I value my neck a lot more than 2 Super Bowls in 9 years, chief. I’ll write it for free, but I’ll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you’ve gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then read up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don’t want no volunteers, I don’t want no mates, there’s just too many coaches on this team. $10,000 for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing.

Game Overview

Just like Quint, old Tommy Coughlin has no fear. He faces the doubters and the beat writers just as he does every week but just like our foul mouthed hero from the 1975 film classic Jaws, he may be eaten before the final credits roll. His half-assed astronaut Eli Manning needs to clean up and clean up fast. On the heels of an $84 million dollar extension, the 34-year old signal caller has blown two games all by himself. Blame the defense, blame the secondary, and blame inexperienced kids Uani’ Unga and Landon Collins if you want to, but with the game in his hands for the second week in a row, Eli just coughed up the game. Up 20-10 and driving deep into Falcons territory to put the game on ice, Easy E held and held and held the ball just long enough to cough it up and let the Falcons take possession and march to a 20-17 deficit. Driving midway through the fourth, Eli fumbled the ball forward only to have TE Larry Donnell save him with a miracle 1st down recovery. Fast forward to the undermanned defense coming up with a Robert Ayers sack, Landon Collins shot on WR Julio Jones and Brandon Merriweather of all people breaking up a 3rd and 3. Giants ball, time to ice the game and on 3rd and 7, Manning and his $84 million fail to get a snap off in time, turning a 3rd and 7 into an impossible 3rd and 12 and a Giant punt. Eli had one more chance to rescue the day, with 1:14 left and one of the most dynamic players in the NFL at his disposal, and he failed again. A big overthrow to a wide open, jumping and 6’6” Larry Donnell was followed by a sloppy pass to the inexplicably utilized WR Preston Parker and a 4th and 10 became an underthrow, a drop and another 4th quarter 10 point collapse.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 20, 2015)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Quarterbacks

Show me the way to go home, Eli’s tired and he wants to go to bed. At this point, it’s all on Eli. No Victor Cruz, a hobbled and disinterested Rueben Randle, a useless Preston Parker and only one decent target in Odell Beckham Jr. and this offense is squarely on the shoulders of the “franchise” QB and he has failed two weeks in a row. Give him credit I suppose for staking the team to a 20-10 lead, but the boneheaded sack and fumble, near disastrous forward fumble, overthrow to Donnell, delay of game on 3rd down and just flat out awful pass due to…shocking…poor mechanics on a 4th and 10 and yes, Eli Manning gets the goat horns for week #2. Eli’s 292 yards, two TDs and no INTs all went for naught because when the game was on the line, he flat out failed his team, his franchise and his Quint, who will likely be eaten whole in about 15 weeks. Put the blame on Eli too for WR Dwayne Harris’ false start that negated a 4th down conversion deep in Falcons territory. Manning waited too long to get the team to the line, motioned too late and put Harris in an impossible position. Twelve years in, you know what you have, brilliant one minute, head shakingly stupid the next.

Running Backs

Earth, Wind and Fire have returned! Rashad Jennings moves like the Earth (mud, specifically, old dried up mud, not at the 1,000 mph that our beloved blue planet zips around the sun), Andre Williams is as unpredictable as fire and well I guess Shane Vereen can be wind when it’s not whipping tiny rocks at your face. Williams led the Giants backs with a whopping 43 yards on 6 carries (35 of it on one impressive run) and again looked hesitant and confused at times toting the rock. I’ve been a believer in his talent but in year 2 of this offense, Williams still looks wildly inconsistent and unsure of himself. Rashad Jennings had a couple of early runs that looked solid, but he seemed to slow down in the second half, could be something injury wise that bears watching. That said, Jennings’ and his 12 yards on 9 carries would be stellar if he played for Chip Kelly, but #23 looked slow, tentative and just plain bad after halftime on Sunday. Weapon X appears to be Shane Vereen, who nabbed 8 balls for 76 yards receiving but did little to nothing on the ground with 57 on 6 carries. Yes feet. It looks much more impressive and with this horror movie offense that leaves you screaming to watch out for the blitzer behind the door, we need something positive. Vereen gives the team a horizontal dimension that is absolutely critical for the West Coast Offense to operate effectively. If LBs and DBs have to stay wide and contain Vereen out the backfield, that’s less deep help to apply to #13 and company.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (September 20, 2015)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Wide Receivers

Odell Beckham Jr., is still pretty good. Beckham took a slant from Manning in the 2nd quarter and sprinted 67 yards to pay dirt to tie the game at 10, showing why this team will have a chance as long as #13 is vertical. Beckham had another spectacular-but-looks-routine catch on the Giants first scoring drive, he’s simply that good and ended the day with 7 grabs for 146 yards and a touchdown. Mr. Parker…zero point zero. Wide open drop on an out route with the first half winding down and a 4th and 10 miss to seal the loss. If I’m Tom Coughlin, I suddenly wonder why I’m so old and how my hair grew back and what am I doing with all this money? Then I cut Preston Parker. Rueben Randle, at age 24 simply doesn’t seem to care, get it or he’s in danger of losing a leg which on this team is entirely possible. We’ll drink to his legs..for now. One catch for 5 yards and a sloppy drop do nothing to provide any confidence that #82 is a part of this team’s future. Randle did have an outstanding down field block on Vereen’s 37 yard scamper early in the 3rd quarter. I thought it was a jaunt, maybe a dash, but upon further review, definitely a scamper.

Tight Ends

Larry Donnell absolutely blew a block on a key 3rd down play, not even knowing who to block and ending a drive but Donnell did redeem himself on a well-run DIG route that ended in a 10 yard scoring pass from his blockhead QB. Donnell set up the DB with a subtle head fake, worked inside and used his body to keep the defender at bay. That type of play shows just how far the former Grambling QB has come as a receiver, but he’s still light years away from being more than a liability as a blocker.

Offensive Line

Decent effort by the move ‘em out…or in this case, kind of try to shove them back a little gang. LT Ereck Flowers had a rocky day, picking up an early false start on the Giants opening drive and looking like he was fighting off Vic  Beasley on several occasions but the big rookie held his own on a bum ankle. Big Flowers is another cog that will be a key piece for this team to build on. Flowers did not return for long after halftime, with LG Justin Pugh sliding out to LT and BBI punching bag John Jerry in at LG. No terrifying moments really, 97 yards rushing and 2 sacks in a way tell the story. Not so bad, but just not good enough yet with so many other units making game crushing mistakes. The OL is however not a disaster, and appears to be on the way up assuming Flowers’ ankle injury isn’t season long. The biggest difference from a year ago, is that C Weston Richburg isn’t being tossed crash test dummy style into Eli’s lap about 5 times a game as his predecessor was prone to doing. A clean pocket will be essential to building this team as the year unfolds and so far Richburg and LG Justin Pugh are holding serve. RG Geoff Schwartz was solid, with the exception of a run play that he was absolutely blown past by DT Jonathan Babineaux.

Defensive Line

John Lynch’s awkward man crush on Robert Ayers Jr. aside, #91 was the best defender on the field, swatting down 3 passes from the DT spot on key 3rd downs. Ayers is not being asked to play the run as much by Steve Spagnuolo and it’s having a big impact on Ayers’ ability to be fresh to rush the passer. I’ve been critical of Ayers because his run fits give me fits, but credit where it’s due, Ayers played one hell of a game on Sunday. The rest of DL was strong against the run, often using pure 3-4 looks with Robert Ayers and Devon Kennard as the OLBs. It’s a one-gapping 3-4 or Base 50, or shaded Oklahoma 5-2 (that all depends on how old you are) that refuses to give up the edge and uses penetration in an A gap to force runs wide and shut off the backside cut lanes. DT Cullen Jenkins had what appeared to be a key sack, an Jonathan Hankins was a handful inside for the Falcons, fighting off double teams on nearly every play.

Linebackers

Another year, another blah group of LBs who just can’t seem to find anyone when in pass coverage. As least Uani’ Unga seems to have something (all of his fingers and two working knees) that most key Giant defenders who are missing lack. Unga gets turned around way too easily in coverage and loses his place on the field leading to way too many pass catchers wide open down the seams of this defense. BUT, he’s a gamer, he plays with effort and again, he’s not in a full body cast so I’m encouraged that Unga can grow into a serviceable MLB if he doesn’t lose a limb in practice or some bizarre holiday accident. In fact, I’m going on the record here, I want ZERO Giant defenders carving Jack-O-Lanterns, slicing turkey, trying to break a wish bone or putting an angel on a tree as we embark on Holiday season. No exterior illumination efforts, no champagne uncorking, and for God’s sake no shoveling or de-icing. The bright spot for this LB corps (yes corps, like the Marine Corps, it’s a group) is 2nd year LB Devon Kennard who led the team with 9 stops and was a force against the run and while pass rushing. Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is using Kennard all over the field and most importantly not asking him to do much coverage wise, instead opting for speedy LB Jonathan Casillas on obvious passing downs. J.T. Thomas had 7 stops, but I honestly can’t recall one, too much drag down tackling and not enough attacking thus far for the former Mountaineer.

Defensive Backs

S Landon Collins is having his rookie moments, but as will be a theme this year, watch him grow and play full speed and by the end of this campaign we should have a core (Yes core as in apple, center of it, not corps like Marine Corps. Learn the difference or I will..well I’ll do nothing but it’s annoying that the two are so often flubbed) DB to count on. DRC plays, he gets hurt every time he does anything but unlike some firework happy players who shall remain namelessjpp, DRC comes with it on every play. Rodgers-Cromartie hurt his shoulder and his brain making high effort tackles against the screen happy and quite frankly annoying Falcons offense. It’s good to see the referees throw in the towel when DRC got up wobblier than Apollo Creed on the heels of Ivan Drago’s murderpunch. CB Prince Amukamara gave up the game’s biggest play, but this defense is going to gamble and the CBs have to hold up. Prince played well but with the game on the line he simply got beat by Julio Jones and there’s not a ton to say about that. Give DB coach David Merritt credit, he has been destroyed by injuries to an already so-so safety group and he has 32-year old S Brandon Merriweather playing solid football. It may not last all season, but Merriweather has been a pleasant plus with a little bit of force at S with no real big mistakes.

Special Teams

Butthead said it best while watching a lackluster video with his good pal Beavis “These effects aren’t very special” and neither are these teams but it’s Tom Quinn and his envelope full of nudes vs. other competent ST coaches and as usual we did nothing special. Despite tossing $17 million at Dwayne Harris and his festive hairdo, the Giants apparently can’t find shoes that can grip their turf, with Harris wiping out on nearly every return that showed promise. Brad Wing is a punter, he punted, and I don’t care. He didn’t Dodge anything up and that’s enough for me.

Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (September 20, 2015)

Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Coaching Staff

Too many mistakes to give Quint a lot of credit this week. Give the headman some due, he took the blame, got his team ready and had a 20-10 lead in the 4th quarter until it all fell apart like anything made in Detroit in the mid-1980s. Back-to-back false starts by Odell Beckham and Ereck Flowers, an inexcusable false start by a WR on a converted 4th down, along with dropped passes and more Manning brain toots mean TC may have to be more Grumpy Old Men then Grandpa Simpson if he wants to right this ship.

Ben McAdoo better get his synapses firing and find a way to utilize more than 2 people or this team may not win a game. Beckham hauls in ONE pass after half time, that’s not good enough no matter what coverage is rolled his way. McAdoo is doing a solid job, but he has to be more creative. McAdoo did something I did like a great deal on two occasions. On TE Larry Donnell’s TD in the 3rd quarter, McAdoo ran the same play two times in a row because it was open. The first attempt Donnell was held and it wasn’t called; the very next play he did it again and it resulted in a 20-10 lead. McAdoo did the same thing in the 4th quarter on Rueben Randle’s lone grab a play after Randle just dropped the exact same ball. McAdoo isn’t shying away from what works and he’ll keep going to the well if something works.

The Fire Zone Explained

FZ1

Why do I love Steve Spagnuolo? He loves the fire zone and the fire zone loves him. On the line you see a modified “Bear” front with a true NT (Hankins), a 3-technique (Cullen Jenkins), two 5s (Selvie and Ayers), a LB in a shaded 4 (Unga) and two wide 9s (Kennard and Thomas). Throw in Landon Collins playing the Elephant or Flex (the key to the old Double Eagle Flex of U of Arizona’s Desert Swarm fame) and you have 8 people who have to be accounted for by 5 OL and one TE.

FZ2

On the snap, Hankins games right, taking the OC and LG with him. Ayers hesitates, to keep the LT in outside leverage, unable to help the LG, and DT Cullen Jenkins knifes in easily in the gap to sack Matt Ryan. No Strahan, no Osi, No Tuck, no Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle hand and Spags finds a way to get heat with scheme and technique.

Cram it in your Cramhole Award

Yes it’s back, the CIIYCA because I still love Dodgeball. This week it should go to Eli Manning but in a surprise twist, it goes to Kyle Shanahan who will eventually get Julio Jones killed. Granted Jones won the game with his 4th quarter catch against Prince Akeem from Zamunda, but 135 yards on 13 catches and more bubble screens than an elite WR should be forced to endure is just not the best of use this amazing talent. Jones took a shot or laid out every time he touched the ball because Shanahan loves to wear out unique talents (Obertray Riffingay) with way too much punishment. Jones got whacked by Brandon Merriweather, dragged down violently by S Landon Collins and blasted again by Collins. Atlanta’s best player won’t last the season if he’s being beaten up 10-15 times a game.

(Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants, September 20, 2015)
Sep 202015
 
Share Button
Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 20, 2015)

Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ATLANTA FALCONS 24 – NEW YORK GIANTS 20…
The New York Giants squandered another 10-point fourth-quarter lead and fell to the Atlanta Falcons 24-20 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon. With the loss, the Giants fell to 0-2. It’s the first time in team history that the Giants have started three seasons in a row 0-2. It is also the first time in NFL history that a team has lost its first two games after leading by 10 points or more in the fourth quarter. The Giants have lost their last four home openers.

Each team moved the football to start the game but was forced to punt. The Falcons then went up 7-0 after a 13-play, 86-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run near the end of the first quarter. The Giants responded with a 10-play, 45-yard drive early in the second quarter that resulted in a 38-yard field goal by Josh Brown. Falcons 7 – Giants 3.

The Falcons immediately followed that field goal drive with one of their own as Atlanta went 56 yards in 11 plays to set up a 42-yard effort. The Giants quickly tied the game on a short slant pass from quarterback Eli Manning to wide out Odell Beckham who turned on the burners en route to a 67-yard touchdown play. The game was tied 10-10.

Neither team was able to move the football for the rest of the half until the Giants last possession before intermission. The Giants drove the ball 30 yards in six plays to set up a 44-yard field goal that gave New York the lead at halftime 13-10.

The Giants received the opening kickoff of the second half and moved the ball 69 yards in nine plays to go up 20-10. The big play on the drive was a 37-yard pass to running back Shane Vereen on 3rd-and-5. Three plays later, Manning hit tight end Larry Donnell for a 10-yard score on 3rd-and-4.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 20, 2015)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The Giants defense forced a three-and-out and the Giants offense then let a golden opportunity to put the Falcons away slip through their fingers. After a 35-yard run by running back Andre Williams and a 12-yard run by Vereen on 3rd-and-7, the Giants were able to drive deep into Atlanta territory. But on 3rd-and-2 from the 8-yard line, Manning was sacked and fumbled the ball away to the Falcons. Instead of being up 27-10 or 23-10, the score remained 20-10. Worse for New York, after this mistake with less than five minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Giants offense basically shut down for the remainder of the game.

The Falcons immediately took advantage by driving 91 yards in 12 plays to cut the Giants lead to 20-17 with under 13 minutes to play. The 10-yard touchdown pass to wideout Leonard Hankerson came on 3rd-and-9. The Giants did reach the Falcons 38-yard line on the ensuing drive but running back Rashad Jennings’ 3rd-and-2 run was stuffed for a loss and the Giants punted.

The Giants defense held after giving up a couple of first downs and the Giants received the ball back with 4:24 to play. But New York could not pick up one first down and was forced to punt. Worse, on this series, the Giants were called for delay of game after an Atlanta timeout.

The Falcons then quickly drove 70 yards in seven plays for the game-winning touchdown with 1:14 left to play. The Giants had a glimmer of hope after a 30-yard defensive pass interference penalty against Beckham gave them the ball at midfield with 1:02 to play. But the game ended after four straight Manning incompletions, including two drops by tight end Larry Donnell and wide receiver Preston Parker.

Offensively, the Giants accrued 19 first downs and 388 total net yards (97 rushing, 291 passing). The Giants were 10-of-17 (59 percent) on 3rd down conversions. Manning finished 27-of-40 for 292 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. But his fumble on the goal line was very costly. Beckham caught seven passes for 146 yards and a touchdown while Vereen caught eight passes for 76 yards. Williams was the leading rusher with six rushes for 43 yards. Jennings was limited to 12 yards on nine carries.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 25 first downs and 402 total net yards (56 rushing, 346 passing). The Falcons were 11-of-17 (65 percent) on 3rd down conversions. New York did not force a turnover. Defensive end Robert Ayers and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins each had sacks and the Giants were credited with eight quarterback hits.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie suffered a burner early in the game, later returned, but then suffered a concussion that ended his game. Left tackle Ereck Flowers re-injured his ankle and did not return. “(Rodgers-Cromartie) has to go through the protocol,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “Flowers, I hope it’s not going to be a continuous thing that bothers him all year long.”

POST-GAME REACTIONS…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Tom Coughlin and various players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

POST-GAME NOTES…
Inactive for the Giants were WR Victor Cruz (calf), TE Daniel Fells (foot), LB Jon Beason (knee), DT Markus Kuhn (knee), DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot), S Cooper Taylor, and OT Bobby Hart.

QB Eli Manning increased his career passing yards total to 40,240, which moved him one yard in front of Johnny Unitas (40,239) and into 14th place on the NFL’s career list. Manning is the 15th player in history to pass for at least 40,000 yards.

WR Odell Beckham increased his career reception total to 103, which is an NFL record for the first 16 games (a full season) in a career. Beckham set the mark in only 14 games.  It was the fifth time in his last six games dating back to last season that Beckham totaled at least 130 receiving yards.

ARTICLES….

Sep 182015
 
Share Button
Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (October 5, 2014)

Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants, September 20, 2015

THE STORYLINE:
The Atlanta Falcons are an odd football team. At times, they can look like world beaters. At other times, they look terrible. They have a new regime under former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and they won their home opener in an impressive performance against the Philadelphia Eagles. Historically speaking, the Falcons don’t play as well on the road as they do at home.

But this game is more about how the Giants respond to their devastating loss to the Cowboys. Have they mentally put that game past them? Can they harness their anger and focus it against the Falcons? Because if they can’t do those things, the match-ups and game plans won’t really matter. The Giants need to win this football game. They need to even their record at 1-1.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Victor Cruz (calf – out)
  • OT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP and will not play)
  • TE Daniel Fells (foot – out)
  • LT Ereck Flowers (ankle – probable)
  • DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot – out)
  • DT Markus Kuhn (knee – out)
  • LB Jon Beason (knee – doubtful)
  • LB Uani’ Unga (knee – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Somewhat lost in the drama of this past week is the fact that the highly-touted passing offense of the New York Giants laid a huge egg in Dallas. Eli Manning passed for less than 200 yards and the wide receiving corps had fewer than 100 yards. If that doesn’t change – and fast – the Giants are going to be terrible this year.

Based on what coaches and players are telling us, the opposition is playing a lot of two deep coverage, doubling Odell Beckham, and daring the Giants to beat them by running the football or targeting other receivers. Wouldn’t you? This is the type of defensive game plan the Giants are going to face all year until (1) Victor Cruz comes back and proves he can still play at a high level, and/or (2) the Giants can demonstrate they can consistently run the football.

Picture any opposing defensive coordinator repeating, “We’re not going to let Beckham beat us deep!”

So what should the Giants do? First, I’m a firm believer of coaches putting their best players in position to make plays and win football games. It’s hard to double Beckham if you keep moving him around. Put him in motion. Have him play out of the slot, the backfield, split out wide. Force the defense to adjust. Keep in mind this is a new defensive system for the Falcons too and they may be prone to mental mistakes.

Second, if you were facing the Giants, aside from Beckham, who would scare you the most? Probably not Larry Donnell. Certainly not Preston Parker. “Make them throw to Donnell and Parker to beat us!”  I would get the ball into the hands of my running backs more, both running the football behind Ereck Flowers and Justin Pugh, as well as Shane Vereen in space in the passing game.

Which brings us to Rueben Randle, who exploded in his last two games of 2014 but was practically a non-factor on Sunday night. The Giants need him to be a viable #2 receiver right now – a guy who can put up 100 yards receiving and not just 20 or 30. His game is the vertical game and making big plays down the field, particularly on post routes where he can use his size and athleticism.

As for the Atlanta defense, based on a limited sample size of just one game, they are much more physical and aggressive than they were just a year ago. Their new head coach has brought Seahawks’ defensive scheme with him. Quinn doesn’t have Richard Sherman at cornerback but he does have Desmond Trufant, who is one of the best in the business. Trufant will be looking to make headlines by taking Beckham out of the game. Odell has to elevate his game, like he did against Sherman last year. The other Atlanta corners are not as good or are inexperienced. If Randle and Parker can’t make plays against Robert Alford, it’s time to worry. The Falcons use big safety Will Moore near the line of scrimmage, almost like an extra linebacker. He’s a big hitter and can be a problem in the run game. Fellow safety Ricardo Allen is tiny, but good in coverage. They will likely use him to help out on Beckham.

The Falcons have good defensive line depth. Rookie 1st rounder Vic Beasley is very small, but exceptionally quick and fast. The Falcons like to move him around. Beasley could be a serious match-up problem for the tackles in pass protection. Want to take the edge off of him? Have Flowers maul the shit out him in the run game. The two starting defensive tackles (Ra’Shede Hageman and Paul Soliai) and other starting end (Tyson Jackson) are big and tough against the run. Reserve Jonathan Babineaux is disruptive. The linebackers are probably the weak spot on the defense although O’Brien Schofield can rush the passer.

My game plan would be to run the football, especially to the left. I would try to match-up Shane Vereen and reserve tight end Jerome Cunningham against the linebackers as receivers. Move Beckham around and try to prevent the opposition from doubling him. Take a few deep shots to Randle against the lesser corners. The Giants need their offensive line to have a strong game against an underrated defensive line.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The Falcons obviously have some dangerous weapons on offense, headlined by all-world Julio Jones who will be looking to outshine national media darling Odell Beckham. The deal with the Falcons really is this: you don’t know what version of Matt Ryan you’re going to get. Sometimes he looks like one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL; at other times, he looks very ordinary and makes some terrible decisions.

Jones can certainly take over a game, but I like the Giants corners against him provided there is some semblance of a pass rush. Jones has also been dealing with a sore hamstring. The other starting receiver, Roddy White, is super-productive but he has been declining in recent years. Still, you can’t sleep on him. White always seems to get his yardage and keep the chains moving. Ex-Redskin Leonard Hankerson can make plays down the field as well.

Listening to Tom Coughlin this week, it’s pretty apparent that he mostly fears Atlanta’s play-action passing game. Steve Spagnuolo has probably been drilling into the heads of Landon Collins and Brandon Meriweather all week not to come up too quickly against the run and expose the defense to the big play. Of course the best way to defeat the play-action threat is make it moot by stuffing the run. Rookie Tevin Coleman (who BBI Draft expert Sy’56 really likes) is a physical north-south runner with good speed. The Giants need to bottle him up.

The Falcons will throw the ball to reserve running back Devonta Freeman and undersized journeyman tight end Jacob Tamme as ex-Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan does incorporate has a West Coast Offense background. The Falcons may take note of how linebacker Unai’ Unga struggled in coverage last week.

The good news for the Giants is the Atlanta offensive line isn’t the Dallas offensive line. The Giants did alright against the Cowboys ground game, but as Steve Spagnuolo pointed out this week, Dallas still had the advantage of too many very manageable down-and-distance situations because of 4- and 5-yard gains. Stop the run first. Then get after the passer. And we’ll start finding out how good or bad the Giants’ pass rush is this weekend. Tony Romo was barely touched. If the Giants can’t get to Matt Ryan, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season. I would like to see the Giants blitz a lot to put the rookie running back on the spot in terms of pass protection.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Except for the return game, the Giants played well against a very good Dallas special teams unit on Sunday night. They had no chance on kickoff returns (all touchbacks). Getting the punt and kickoff return game going this week will be tough as punter Matt Bosher is one of the best punters (both distance and direction) in the business as well as a very good kickoff specialist (seven touchbacks against the Eagles). Former Giant Matt Bryant is very consistent and rarely misses under 50 yards. Devin Hester has been battling a toe injury. If he plays, we all know how dangerous he can be as both a kickoff and punt returner. (Late note, Hester will not play).

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Ben McAdoo on Atlanta’s defense: “Versus Philadelphia, every snap was single-high (coverage), but that was the way they chose to play Philadelphia. I imagine that they’re going to roll some things at us, some different shells, some different coverage types and probably have a plan for Odell that way. We’ll have to take a look at it and adjust as the game goes on.”

THE FINAL WORD:
This is very, very close to a “must” game. The Giants are a young team and that was an extremely tough loss last weekend. Their confidence could be teetering. It will be interesting to see how the team responds and how mentally tough they are. With the game on the line, players on offense, defense, and special teams need to make plays in the 4th quarter. Not wilt under pressure. The Giants need Eli Manning to regain his mojo.

Oct 082014
 
Share Button
Odell Beckham and Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (October 5, 2014)

Odell Beckham and Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 30 – Atlanta Falcons 20

After things looked so bleak following the Giants second consecutive loss to start the season, everything has turned around. The Giants have rattled off three straight victories to hold their first winning record in quite some time. The defense is attacking, the offense is gelling and even the special teams avoided a major let down this week.

Below you will find the complete game review from the Giants 30-20 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

REVISITING: FOUR DOWNS
During our game preview, we listed ‘Four Downs,’ which took a look at the top four questions surrounding the Giants heading into the game. Now that the game has been played and the film reviewed, it’s time to break it down.

First Down
Who guards whom?
The Falcons moved WR Julio Jones around quite a bit in the first half of the game, and many of the Giants defensive backs had their chances against him. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie seemed to fare the best against Jones, especially in the second half when the pass rush picked up.

Second Down
Time to feast for Giants defensive line?
The defensive line did not feast at all in the first half as a patchwork Atlanta offensive line missing four starters did an admirable job both run and pass blocking. Atlanta managed 14 first downs in the first half, averaged 4.4 yards per run, and completed 17-of-23 passes. Jason Pierre-Paul became a one-man wrecking crew in the second half. Robert Ayers also began to pressure the QB, and Johnathan Hankins made the defensive play of the game with his 4th quarter 4th-and-1 sack with under five minutes to play. Not counting two late meaningless runs, Atlanta was held to 13 rushing yards in the second half. In summary, it was famine in the first half; feasting in the second half.

Third Down
How much can Odell Beckham Jr. play? 
Odell Beckham Jr. appeared to be on the Andre Brown just-got-back-from-an-injury snap count. The wideout played 37 snaps and seemed to get stronger as the game progressed. By the fourth quarter, Beckham was fully involved in the game and making all the plays the Giants had hoped he would when the used the No. 12 pick in the draft on him.

Fourth Down
Will  Osi Umenyiora be a factor?
In the general review of things, no. Umenyiora had his first sack of the season against Eli Manning, but it was more of a coverage sack than anything else. Umenyiora put a nice move on Beatty, but Manning had time to throw, no one was open. Instead of forcing it, Manning ate the sack and lived to fight another down. Aside from that play, it was a very, very quiet game for Umenyiora in his return to MetLife.

OFFENSIVE OVERVIEW – by Connor Hughes

For whatever reason, maybe it was the fact the team was looking a week forward to Philadelphia, the Giants offense was a bit slow and iffy to start the game. There wasn’t much in terms of energy, few big plays and, until Beckham ignited a rally, it looked as if the Giants were headed for a disappointing defeat. A nice second half rally led the Giants to their third straight win and lit up the scoreboard a bit, too. For the first time since 2009, the Giants offense has scored 30 or more points in three straight.

QUARTERBACK – by Connor Hughes

It wasn’t his flashiest performance, but Eli Manning was consistent. The quarterback completed 19-of-30 passes for 200 yards with two touchdowns with no interceptions. He had a quarterback rating of 104.5. For the first time since 2010, Manning has had a quarterback rating above 100 in three straight games. It’s no surprise why Manning has had success the last three games: he’s had loads of time in the pocket and continues to release the ball at an alarming fast rate (second fastest in the NFL). Nearly every time Manning dropped back, he had time to scan the field.

There were two throws that were a little questionable, one on a curl route to Rueben Randle, and another on a  slant to Randle. Manning felt a little pressure, didn’t have time to set his feet and threw it anyway. Those are the throws that have gotten Manning in trouble in the past, but that didn’t happen this week. From someone who truly questioned his ability to play in a West Coast offense, Manning is looking like the perfect fit.

RUNNING BACKS – by Connor Hughes

Rashad Jennings will be missed. Not just for his ability as a running back, but all of the little things he does in a game that sometimes goes unnoticed. Jennings is a pro’s pro, there’s nothing special about him and he doesn’t do anything ‘great.’ What Jennings does do is everything exceptionally well. His football IQ may be one of the highest on the team, and there’s no backing down from anyone. For a player like Andre Williams who is trying to learn the proper way to pass protect, he may have the perfect mentor:

On the play in which Jennings was injured, there was no clear cut sign as to how exactly he got hurt. He got a carry and was being brought down when a safety came in to apply an extra hit. It looked as if when the safety hit Jennings, his body bent a little funky, but no camera angle showed the direction in which his knee went. After the play, Jennings got up, walked over to the sideline and did not return.

It’s been said more times than it needs to, but Sunday simply illustrated it more: the issue with Andre Williams is not his ability to run the ball; he can do that at an extremely high level. His issue is executing in the other two facets of the game – blocking and receiving. After practices, Williams has been working with the jugs machine catching balls, and it showed Sunday. While it certainly wasn’t pretty, Williams caught two passes and turned both into first downs. After his first, he got up quite fired up.

Where Williams has made little progress, and may be a massive issue come Sunday night, is in pass protection. It’s not that Williams can’t block. He has the size and build to match up with blitzing linebackers or chip defensive ends. When he does engage with someone, it’s not as if he’s being tossed around like a rag doll. His issue is knowing who to block.

When Williams checked into the game full time, the Giants play-faked to him in the shotgun formation, then had him run directly into the line. If Williams didn’t do that, he simply ran out on a pass route. Only once that I counted, on all of his snaps, did Williams pass block straight on the snap. It didn’t go well.

Williams stepped up in the pocket, expecting a blitzing linebacker. Instead, a safety came off the edge. Williams was late to recognize this, late to get over, and, as a result, Manning had to rush a pass.

Shortly after this play, the Giants brought Peyton Hillis in. The veteran made an instant impact. Pass blocking is usually a trait running backs need to learn. Again, it’s not that Williams can’t block, it’s just that he is lacking in the experience department. Once it all clicks, he has the ability to be a complete NFL back.

WIDE RECEIVERS by Connor Hughes

Preston Parker has filled in admirably for Jerrel Jernigan over the past few weeks as the Giants waited for Beckham to get healthy. There’s the good, there’s the bad. What Parker has done well is what his assignment is and when the ball is thrown his way, he doesn’t drop it. As was the case on his long 42-yard reception. On the play, a safety and cornerback were both matched up on Parker, but both were peeking inside at Manning. As a result, Parker got behind both and deep into the secondary. Atlanta had a linebacker playing centerfield, and he bit the wrong way, leaving Parker wide open.

Where Parker had his issues was after he caught the ball and suddenly it was his time to make a play. On one particular play, Parker made a little bit of a questionable decision on what angle to take. On third down, Parker caught the ball and turned up the field. Instead of darting up the field directly, he chose to run towards the sidelines and around Randle. Had he just cut up the field, the play may have resulted in a first down, instead of a fourth and short.

Watching the film, all eyes were on Odell Beckham Jr., and the rookie didn’t disappoint. It may not all come together this season, but Beckham has all the tools to be one of the better receivers in the NFL. He has Hakeem Nicks-like size, where he plays bigger than he is, speed and unbelievable hands. Prior to the game, when the quarterbacks were just throwing to their receivers, Beckham ran a fade route and jumped in the air, then – with his hand facing the quarterback – palmed the ball and brought it down with ease. He makes plays like this on a regular basis. It’s incredible to watch.

In the game, it was obvious the Falcons were respecting his speed. The Giants gave them reason to, running Beckham deep on many of his first patterns. Then, they took advantage of the over-anxious Falcons.

On the play that wasn’t, Manning’s throw-away intended for Beckham, there was an ever-so-slight move Beckham put on that allowed him to get open. It was the slightest movement inside that got the corner to bite. Then, Beckham burst up the field. It’s a shame Manning didn’t see it as it would have been an 82-yard touchdown.

TIGHT ENDS – by Connor Hughes

After catching three touchdowns versus Washington, Larry Donnell got some additional attention from the Falcons secondary. Normally, Donnell was matched up with a linebacker, and a safety was overtop. With that attention being given to Donnell, Manning went to work with his wide receivers. The more Donnell develops, the more this is going to happen. It’s a positive for the Giants offense. Something that few thought would be said, the Giants have enough playmakers on the field to make a defensive coordinators job difficult.

On Sunday, Atlanta was focused on Donnell and Victor Cruz, that left Rueben Randle, Preston Parker and Beckham open. When the Giants played Washington last week, that attention was devoted to the receivers, leaving Donnell open. It’s going to be a week-to-week, pick-your-poison for defenses. It’s great for the Giants, bad for fantasy owners. Donnell can go off any week for 30 points, or be down with three – or in this case, zero – the next.

Donnell did make one play that won’t show up on the stat sheet, or help any fantasy team. After a Randle fumble, Donnell was one of the only players to react instantly to the ball on the ground.

OFFENSIVE LINE – by Connor Hughes

As has been the case the last three weeks, the Giants offensive line was near perfect versus Atlanta. There was little pressure allowed on Eli Manning, and running lanes were opened up regularly. The one time Atlanta got to Manning, a sack by Osi Umenyiora, it was both a coverage sack, and vintage Umenyiora.

Manning had time to throw, went through his first and second reads, but no one was there. Instead of forcing the ball, he ate the sack. The fact is, if it weren’t for a great move from Umenyiora, Manning may have had six seconds to throw.

It seemed as if every time Manning dropped back to pass, he had time in the pocket. It helped. And it’s helped each week.

DEFENSIVE OVERVIEW – by Eric Kennedy

Overall, the Falcons gained 397 net yards of offense (90 yards rushing and 307 yards passing). But they were only 2-of-13 (15 percent) on third-down conversions and 1-of-2 (50 percent) on fourth-down efforts. The Falcons were also only 1-of-3 (33 percent) in red zone opportunities. The Giants only forced one turnover and that turnover unfortunately was negated by the interceptor fumbling the ball right back to Atlanta.

Aside from one play, it was a tale of two halves for the Giants defense.

In the first half, the Giants allowed 14 first downs. They also allowed 10 points on two long drives, the first covering 80 yards in nine plays and resulting in a touchdown. With 3:40 left before the half, the Falcons drove 73 yards in 11 plays to take a 13-10 halftime lead. The Giants defense did force two first-half punts and successfully held the Falcons to another first-half field goal when Preston Parker fumbled a kickoff return at the Giants 21-yard line.

In the second half, there was only one snafu, but it was a big one: a 74-yard touchdown pass from QB Matt Ryan to RB Antone Smith on 3rd-and-4 in the third quarter. That breakdown allowed the Falcons to go ahead 20-10.

However, the Falcons were limited to six first downs in seven second-half possessions, with three of those harmlessly coming with under two minutes to play with the Giants up 30-20.

DEFENSIVE LINE – by Eric Kennedy

The Giants defense started to play better when the defense line started to play better. It really was almost that simple. A patchwork Atlanta Falcons offensive that was missing four starters did an admirable job against New York both run and pass blocking in the first half. Falcons running backs rushed for 50 yards on 11 carries in the first half for a 4.5 yards per carry average. In addition, although there was some sporadic first-half pressure on QB Matt Ryan, he went largely untouched and has a reasonable amount of time given the circumstances.

The line did play well on the first series with DT Cullen Jenkins (nice flow to ball carrier for 1-yard gain), DT Johnathan Hankins (tipped pass), and DE Jason Pierre-Paul (nice pursuit after short completion) all making plays. The second series, when the Falcons marched 80 yards for a touchdown, was not so good. While Hankins and JPP flashed on the pass rush on two back-to-back plays, the rest of the DL play was uninspiring. And RB Stephen Jackson finished off the drive by running in the direction of JPP and Hankins for a 10-yard touchdown. The Falcons continued to push the front around after Preston Parker’s fumble until DT Mike Patterson tackled Jackson for a 2-yard loss on 2nd-and-goal from the 2-yard line. Until that play, Patterson wasn’t looking too good, and DE Mathias Kiwanuka was having issues. The defensive line was seldom heard from on the Falcons long field-goal drive right before halftime too.

Antrel Rolle and Johnathan Hankins, New York Giants (October 5, 2014)

Antrel Rolle and Johnathan Hankins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

In the second half, the defensive tone changed as Pierre-Paul decided enough was enough. Though the stats don’t indicate it, JPP (5 tackles, 2 quarterback hits) was a one-man wrecking crew as he repeatedly pressured Ryan, helped to gum up the running game, tipped a pass, caused a holding penalty, and continued to hustle in pursuit. Two others who made contributions were DE Robert Ayers (2 tackles, 2 quarterback hits), who flashed as a pass rusher, and Hankins (4 tackles, 1 sack, 2 quarterback hits). Hankins made a superb play when he played off a block, pursued down the line, and nailed the ball carrier. Of course, the defensive play of the game was his 4th-and-1 sack of Ryan with just under five minutes to play in the game. Patterson (3 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss) also improved in the second half, and Jenkins (4 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss) also got in on the action.

LINEBACKERS – by Eric Kennedy

Jacquian Williams led the team with 13 tackles. He also had one tackle for a loss and one pass defense. I was not impressed with him early on as he got hung up on blocks on a few of Stephen Jackson’s bigger runs, including an 11-yard gain and the 10-yard touchdown on Atlanta’s first scoring drive. He continued to have issues on the next series, including completely misreading the play and running himself out of position. But as the game wore on, he got better. Williams saved a touchdown on the 3rd-and-goal shovel pass. While he missed a tackle on a short pass to RB Devonta Freeman that turned into a 13-yard gain, he later had good coverage on RB Jacquizz Rodgers on 2nd-and-goal. In the third quarter, he combined with CB Trumaine McBride to nail Freeman for a 1-yard loss after a short pass. In the fourth quarter, Williams made an excellent play in backside pursuit and nailed Jackson for a 2-yard loss.

Jameel McClain started at middle linebacker and finished with seven tackles, one quarterback hit, and two pass defenses. He flashed a couple of times on the blitz, but like Williams, got hung up on some blocks in the first half.

Mark Herzlich played 27 snaps and finished with two tackles.

DEFENSIVE BACKS – by Eric Kennedy

Until the pass rush dialed it up in the second half, the Giants had issues with WR Julio Jones, who had eight catches for 88 yards in the first half. The Falcons moved Jones around all over the field and at times he was matched up on various defensive backs. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was battling some leg issues in the game, seemed to fare better against him than Prince Amukamara. This was not one of Amukamara’s better games. On the first TD drive, Jones got open for 22 yards against Amukamara and SS Antrel Rolle. A few plays later, Prince was flagged for illegal use of hands on a play where Rodgers-Cromartie was covering Jones deep. On 3rd-and-8 on this TD drive, Jones beat CB Trumaine McBride on a crossing pattern for 11 yards. On the very next play, Jackson scored on a 10-yard run on a play where CB Zack Bowman and FS Quintin Demps could not fight off of blocks.

McBride (7 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, and 1 forced fumble) played reasonably well. And I thought DRC, who only played 49 snaps, did a mostly positive job on the very dangerous Jones. My biggest criticism was Rodgers-Cromartie assuming Antrel Rolle would make the tackle on the 74-yard touchdown pass to RB Antone Smith. Rodgers-Cromartie pulled up and Smith was off to the races. Never assume. DRC should have ended the game with a gimme pick on a Hail Mary too, but dropped the ball.

Amukamara had some issues in coverage in the second quarter. Jones got open easily against him for 14 yards on the late field goal drive. He then played far too soft on back-to-back plays inside the 20-yard line, allowing two easy completions for 17 yards. But on 3rd-and-goal, Amukamara did play tight coverage on WR Roddy White to force Atlanta to settle for the FG. In the third quarter, he was flagged for defensive holding on the play Demps picked off the pass. To his credit, Amukamara made a nice play against WR Devin Hester on 3rd-and-4.

Antrel Rolle had 11 tackles, but his one missed tackle led to a 74-yard touchdown after a short throw to the running back. Quintin Demps (4 tackles, 1 interception) picked off Matt Ryan but promptly fumbled the ball back to the Falcons. He did make a nice play on the speedy and elusive Hester on an end around. Zack Bowman gave up a 22-yard pass to Roddy White.

SPECIAL TEAMS – by Eric Kennedy

Special teams continue to be an issue.

First the good. PK Josh Brown was 3-for-3 on field goal attempts including kicks of 49, 50, and 26 yards. The 50-yard field goal – given that it extended the Giants lead to 27-20 with five minutes to go – was particularly clutch. Three of Browns’ kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. Four others were returned, including three by the dangerous Devin Hester. Hester was limited to 60 yards on three kickoff returns with a long of 22 yards. Damontre Moore made a nice stop on one return. Peyton Hillis missed a tackle opportunity on another return.

Steve Weatherford punted three times. One was returned 25 yards by Hester on play where Weatherford had to make the tackle (both Jameel McClain and Zak DeOssie missed tackles). On the second punt, the Giants got to Hester for a 2-yard loss before he lateraled to a teammate on a play that went nowhere. Weatherford nailed his third punt 67 yards. It only netted 47 with the touchback, but that kept the ball away from Hester.

Kickoff returns were not good. Quintin Demps returned three kickoffs for 60 yards. He only reached the 17, 17, and 19 yard lines on his three returns. The team would have been better off with the touchbacks. Worse, Preston Parker fumbled the ball away at the Giants’ 21-yard line, setting up an easy field goal for the Falcons.

The Giants did not return a punt in the game as Preston Parker fair caught three and Odell Beckham fair caught another. Jason Pierre-Paul hit the punter on 4th-and-4, allowing the Falcons to maintain possession on a drive in the third quarter.

(Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants, October 5, 2014)