Sep 162019
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (September 15, 2019)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Bills 28 – New York Giants 14

QUICK RECAP

It was a warm, sunny, end-of-summer type day at MetLife Stadium as the 0-1 Giants took on the 1-0 Buffalo Bills. The Bills were playing their second straight game at MetLife, as they defeated the New York Jets there in week 1. The Giants were without Sterling Shepard because of a concussion suffered last week, while the Bills nickel cornerback situation entered the game with their third stringer in the starting lineup.

Much like week 1 in Dallas, NYG came firing out of the gate. Starting at their own 25, they seamlessly marched down the field. Chunk gains of 6, 20, 14, and 8 led to a 27-yard touchdown run by Saquon Barkley. A week after we discussed that #26 wasn’t getting enough action in key moments, the team gave him the ball 4 times on this opening drive. The quick 7-0 lead confirmed that approach was the only way this team was going to consistently be a threat.

NYG forced a three-and-out highlighted by a Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter combined sack, the first sack of the 2019 season for NYG. With the lead at 7-0 and Barkley having just owned the BUF defense on all levels, they gave him the ball right away on the second drive he gained 5 yards. They then proceeded to take him off the field for Wayne Gallman. Three plays later, NYG was punting the ball back to BUF.

BUF then went on to score touchdowns on three straight drives. Quarterback Josh Allen and rookie running back Devin Singletary rushed for scores respectively and Allen hit receiver Isaiah McKenzie on a shovel pass for a 14-yard score to put the visitors up by 14. Two things about this run that really set the tone for the rest of the contest: (1) BUF obviously came into this game wanting to challenge rookie cornerback Deandre Baker. They torched him on all three levels of the route tree and the 1st-round pick who was traded up for in last April’s draft looked absolutely lost. (2) The third scoring drive deflated the stadium to a point where it just never quite fully came back from. The drive began on the BUF 2-yard line after an amazing special teams coverage play by Antonio Hamilton. The stadium was very loud and the fans got behind the Giants. How did the defense respond? A 7-play drive that took just 4:26 to reach the end zone. The NYG defense didn’t even look competitive. “Here we go again” was the only thought one could muster at this point.

NYG actually put together a solid drive as the end of the half was approaching. Manning spread the ball out in the passing game and Barkley picked up a couple more chunk gains. Aldrick Rosas, the 2018 second-team All Pro, came out for a 48-yard field goal attempt but it sailed wide left. Again, the fans got their hopes up but Big Blue just couldn’t seal the deal. The defense forced a quick stop and the newly-signed, preseason-star T.J. Jones returned the punt 60 yards all the way to the BUF 33-yard line. NYG was going to get another crack at a score with just over a minute left.

Manning hit Bennie Fowler for a 12-yard gain but had his next pass tipped at the line by rookie Ed Oliver that luckily fell into the arm of BUF defensive end Trent Murphy. BUF took a knee and their 14-point lead into the half.

In this week’s version of “Hey at least….” in the world of moral victories (the majority of any positive thought NYG has had in recent years), the NYG defense stepped up in the second half. Three consecutive scoreless drives for the defense didn’t seem as impressive as it could have been because the Giants offense continued to sputter. They showed some hope with their opening drive of the second half, reaching the BUF 41, but a holding penalty by Nate Solder and a sack allowed by Kevin Zeitler and Jon Halapio reminded us all that these are still the New York Giants, one of the most-oft losing teams in the NFL over the past 6 years.

NYG did not give up or mail it in. With Cody Latimer out after a nasty helmet-to-helmet hit (that wasn’t called a penalty), Manning was back in the all-too-familiar position of dealing with street free agent-caliber receivers running routes. He found Jones in the back of the end zone, who made an impressive play on the ball considering he was mere inches away from being out of bounds as he double toe-tapped the blue paint. NYG was all of the sudden down 21-14 with momentum on their side for the first time since the opening drive of the game.

BUF responded with chunk gains to receiver John Brown and the rookie Singletary, who averaged 9.5 yards per carry by the way. NYG came up with a stop to force a BUF field goal attempt from the 3-yard line. The ball went through the uprights but a (very) questionable personal foul call on rookie Dexter Lawrence for grazing the snapper’s helmet gave BUF a fresh slate of downs from the NYG 2-yard line. Two plays later, Frank Gore, the 4th all time rushing leader, crossed the goal line for his first touchdown since 2017.

It was 28-14 with just under 6 minutes left and NYG was without their top 3 wide receivers. Manning threw a couple of desperate deep balls over the course of the next two drives, one of which landed in the hands of BUF safety Jordan Poyer.

Giants lose, 28-14.

QUARTERBACKS

-Eli Manning: 26/45 – 250 yards – 1 TD/2 INT – 62.3 QBR. Manning didn’t leave as much out there as he did in Dallas in relation to missed opportunities. Those opportunities were few and far between as he entered the game without his two top receivers and then lost his number three late in game with an injury. Excuses can be made, but at the end of the day, to make this as simple as possible, he didn’t make plays. He had multiple balls batted at the line that stemmed from him staring down his targets, having a slow release beginning with his footwork all the way up to his arm-action, and playing a predictable game altogether. Manning didn’t do enough to make things happen when the Bills started to slow down the NYG running game.

RUNNING BACKS

-Saquon Barkley: 18 att / 107 yards / 1 TD – 3 rec / 28 yards. The game could not have started better for the second-year back out of Penn State. Barkley touched the ball on 4 out of 5 plays, gaining 55 yards via the ground, and scored a touchdown on a 27-yard run. That was the peak of his game, however. Barkley struggled to find a consistent flow because of poor inside blocking, poor tight end blocking, and an overly stacked box. Taking him off the field during their second series of the game didn’t make sense to me at all. He is the kind of player who changes the entire approach to the game on both sidelines when he is on the field and nobody can convince me he needed a break that early, scheduled or not.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Bennie Fowler: 5 rec / 51 yards. Fowler led the team with 10 targets. He appeared to be the guy Manning was most often looking toward in important situations. As expected, he was underwhelming in this one. As he struggled to get any separation on any level of the route tree, but especially on deep passes. His biggest miss was a ball that he dropped after contact that would have been a first down inside the BUF 15-yard line. The next play, Rosas missed the field goal. It was an enormous play.

-T.J. Jones: 3 rec / 38 yards / 1 TD. Jones also handled the punts and returned one for 60 yards, but it didn’t end up in points because of a Manning interception. Jones was the surprise of camp and the team still opted to cut him. Because of the injuries to the position, Jones was brought back and he made things happen in his regular season debut with Big Blue. He caught a 4th-quarter touchdown to get the team within 7, and it was a high-skill play as he leapt, got the ball at its apex, and tip-toed his feet in the blue paint with a defensive back right there. He earned another week here, especially if Latimer is going to miss time.

-Cody Latimer caught 3 passes for 30 yards, and Cody Core, most known for his ability as a special teams gunner, also added 3 catches for 28 yards. Russell Shepard rounded out the group with 2 catches for 19 yards.

TIGHT ENDS

-Evan Engram: 6 rec / 48 yards. The Bills were the best defense in the NFL last year when it came to limiting tight end production. They are carrying that over in 2019 it seems, as Engram was contained. Engram’s biggest gain of the day – 33 yards – came in garbage time when the BUF defense was in prevent. Besides that, Engram was held to 5 rec / 15 yards.

-Both Engram and Ellison struggled on the edge blocking in this one. The BUF defense was collapsing the edge against the run over and over, making it near-impossible for Barkley to improvise when things weren’t there inside. Those two aren’t expected to get a ton of pus against defensive ends, but they were just getting walked into the inside gaps too often.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Tackles Nate Solder and Mike Remmers were inconsistent. Solder had a key holding penalty on a 17-yard gain that got NYG to the BUF 24-yard line. It was the opening drive of the third quarter, often a major tone setter for the rest of the game, and three plays later the NYG drive was over at midfield. Remmers allowed 2 pressures, with Solder allowing one.

-Inside, it was a rough day for center Jon Halapio after he played arguably his best game of his career at DAL. The BUF defensive line is one of the most underrated in the league, and they performed well in this one. Halapio allowed a sack, a TFL, and rolled a snap back to Manning. He also was losing out on the ground battle on inside runs, getting pushed around and not creating the running lanes we saw in DAL.

-Kevin Zeitler is fighting a shoulder injury. I’m not sure how public it will become but upon re-watching the group, it was obvious he is favoring it. Zeitler is usually heavy-handed and very controlling with his upper body, but he just didn’t have it in this one. He allowed sack with Halapio. Will Hernandez got off to a rough start, allowing 2 pressures but his play leveled off from there on out.

EDGE

-Markus Golden had an active game after a dismal performance week 1 in DAL. He had 6 tackles, 1 sack (on two separate half-sack plays), and a pressure. It was an encouraging sign for one of the worst pass rushes in football to see Golden disrupt the BUF passing game. The pessimistic would say he was up against a struggling rookie in Cody Ford and Allen is a QB that holds onto the ball way too long at times.

-Lorenzo Carter saw an increase in snaps with the injury to Kareem Martin. I stated he would be one of the most important players on the entire team back during my Training Camp reports, and now he has the real full-time opportunity for the first time. He had 4 tackles, a half-sack, and a pressure. Not a bad game, but too often he disappears for stretches. He needs to get more effective in traffic and not be overly reliant on space-pursuits. This will come down to power development and technique refinement, most notably from his hands.

-Oshane Ximines has 2 tackles and a shared sack with Golden. He is now the third pass rusher who will see more and more snaps as the season progresses. What he does with his hands, already in his young career, is exactly what I want to see out of Carter. The issue I see is the lack of athletic ability to beat guys off the snap or at least pose as a speed-rush threat.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

-Rookie Dexter Lawrence and B.J. Hill were active in this one. Lawrence seemed to be more aggressive than we saw in week 1, an encouraging sign as these kids have to process so much information pre-snap and post-snap compared to what they did in college. Lawrence finished with 4 tackles and 2 pressures, showing the ability we know he has to push the pocket. Hill had 3 tackles and pressure but what impressed me the most with him was how often he was around the action away from the ball. He is a keeper.

-Olsen Pierre had a sack and it could have been a major impact play had the refs not blown it dead too quickly. Because Josh Allen is so big and strong, it is tough for defenders to get him down quickly. Pierre got a hold of Allen and just before the play was whistled dead, his foot jarred the ball loose. This could have, maybe even should have, resulted in a defensive touchdown for NYG, but it was not reviewable. Even though BUF ended up punting soon after, that could have been a game-altering play.

LINEBACKERS

-Rookie Ryan Connelly got the start next to Alex Ogletree. He finished with 6 tackles, while Ogletree finished with 5 of his own, a pressure, and a pass break up. These two are the ones I expect to see in the middle for the rest of the season. The one issue that both seem to have right now is a lack of range and instincts in coverage. The middle of the field was still a weak point and while more can be attributed to the safeties than linebackers there, it is going to get exposed all year if these two don’t improve.

CORNERBACKS

-I watch a lot of pro football, especially over the last 6 years. This is not a pat on the back or a search for credibility. I state that because I am not exaggerating nor am I blindly saying that the performance we saw out of rookie Deandre Baker in the first half may have very well been the worst I have ever seen from the position. He was picked on over and over again with a variety of receivers and routes. He was lost out there. Baker is afraid of getting beat deep after what happened to him in week 1. There is so much hesitation in his game right now and it is allowing for too much space, a receiver’s best friend. The “bust” label isn’t even a thought of right now, as rookie CBs have it as tough as any position in football other than QB. He can take his lumps and NYG fans will have to accept that. But when simply analyzing the game, Baker just didn’t know what to do out there and it showed. Now he has something to work off of and we will see how he responds.

-Janoris Jenkins, as volatile as the position is around the league, played a solid game. He did get called for a hold at an important moment, though. With NYG just having gotten within 7 in the fourth quarter, Allen threw an incomplete pass to make it 3rd-and-9. Jenkins was called for the penalty, however, giving BUF a first down. They proceeded to march down the field and score a touchdown.

-Grant Haley was on the field for 47 plays. He made 1 tackle, didn’t break up any passes, and missed 2 tackles in space. The nickel corner is a legitimate starting position these days and the best defenses have a guy there who makes plays. Haley is a good story, he tries hard, he cares, but he isn’t making an impact.

SAFETIES

-Antoine Bethea, whom has a starting job by default, played better than what we saw in week 1 but he wasn’t tested nearly as much. He is still getting baited by play-action more than a veteran should and the athleticism isn’t there to make up for it. He did lead the team with 10 tackles.

-Jabrill Peppers, albeit just two games into the season and in a new scheme, hasn’t yet to prove he is capable of making plays. We can talk about the physical package all we want when it comes to the impressive strength and speed, but the football player in him hasn’t shown up yet. He was simply ineffective against the outside run, stemming from the inability to get off blocks. Too much fluff with him so far, not enough play-making.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 0/1 (missed 48). It was a big missed attempt for Rosas, as BUF had just scored three straight touchdowns to make the score 21-7 and NYG put together a solid drive.

-P Riley Dixon: 5 punts / 48.4 avg / 47.2 net.

-As previously stated, T.J. Jones returned one of his 3 attempts for 60 yards. NYG didn’t capitalize on it. Corey Ballentine handled kick returns, one for 23 yards and one for 17.

3 STUDS

-RB Saquon Barkley, WR T.J. Jones, EDGE Markus Golden

3 DUDS

-CB Deandre Baker, S Jabrill Peppers, OT Nate Solder

3 THOUGHTS ON BUF

  1. I have a strong appreciation for BUF, and not just because they are off to a 2-0 start. I was asked a few times during the week what I thought about the NYG vs BUF matchup and I said I wasn’t optimistic because of how well BUF is coached. The jury is still out on how well NYG is coached but things aren’t looking positive at the moment. BUF doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, especially on defense. Almost 10 years ago, I was told Sean McDermott was going to be a big time head coach someday. They have something here, just wait and watch.
  1. We don’t know what Josh Allen is yet. Personally, I had him graded out as a day 2 pick and I wasn’t impressed by his rookie season. With that said, I think Allen has some swagger and more than enough talent to be a dangerous player. I think he will be a guy who will go on stretches that make him look like a top 10 QB in the league, just to be followed by stretches where he looks like a questionable starter.
  1. How come BUF went from perennial loser (11 losing seasons since 2005) to a 2-0 team that is knocking on the door of being a legit contender? They have drafted exceptionally well. They have 4 solid starters from the 2017 and 2018 classes respectively, and 6 picks from the 2019 class who are already making positive impacts. Also to prove their strong drafting beyond their own roster, the following players were drafted by BUF since 2012: CB Stephon Gilmore, CB Ronald Darby, OT Cordy Glenn, LB Kiko Alonso, WR Marquise Goodwin, LB Nigel Bradham, WR Robert Woods, OT Seantrel Henderson, LB Preston Brown, WR Sammy Watkins, TE Nick O’Leary, and LB Reggie Ragland. That is some good stuff and if you want to go and count how many players NYG has drafted who became solid starters since 2012, don’t let it ruin your Monday.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  1. On purpose, I didn’t make the Eli Manning vs. Daniel Jones debate a thing last week. I don’t think it needs to be beat to death week in, week out. However here we are, 0-2 for the fifth time in six years, with a 1st-round rookie on the bench who looked fantastic in preseason. Once you take Manning out, you aren’t putting him back in. My plan would be to let Manning play the next 2 weeks (@ TB, vs. WAS), and if NYG still looks like they are stuck in the mud, turn it over to Jones and let him start 12 games.
  1. The NFC East has 2-0 DAL, 1-1 PHI, and 0-2 WAS. Because I have been around for long enough, I know it is foolish to give up this early in the season for any team. The positive remains this: the NYG schedule has very winnable games coming up. TB and WAS are the next 2 with ARI and DET on the horizon (after MIN and NE). NYG isn’t done yet, guys.
  1. My biggest coaching complaint in week 1 was the lack of devotion to Barkley in 3rd-and-short/4th-and-short situations in key moments of the game. NYG had just one 3rd-and-1, and then a 3rd-and-2, and a 4th-and-2. Barkley didn’t get a touch in any of those situations, although they did convert two of those for a first down. I won’t criticize that because of the results, but I still scratch my head here. I also think this team needs to get him split out more often, as this WR group is depleted. 13 running backs have more carries than Barkley. 10 running backs have more catches than Barkley. 8 running backs have more touches than Barkley. Food for thought.
Sep 152019
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 15, 2019)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

BUFFALO BILLS 28 – NEW YORK GIANTS 14…
The simply dreadful New York Giants were soundly defeated by the Buffalo Bills 28-14 on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants are 0-2 for the fifth time in the past six seasons.

The game was eerily reminiscent of last week’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys as the Giants started off the contest on fire. Without attempting a pass, the Giants drove 75 yards in five plays to quickly go up 7-0. Running back Saquon Barkley picked up 55 of those yards on four carries, including the 27-yard touchdown gallop for the score. The Giants also forced a three-and-out on defense, sacking quarterback Josh Allen in the process.

The game then quickly turned. The Giants went-three-and-out and the Bills tied the game at 7-7 after driving 75 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown. Allen ran around right end for the 6-yard score. The Giants went three-and-out again and the Bills followed that up an 11-play, 70-yard drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown run by running back Devin Singletary. On this possession, Buffalo converted on 3rd-and-10, 3rd-and-5, and 3rd-and-10. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, the Giants had four incompletions and zero passing yards in the first quarter.

The nail in the coffin came on the subsequent Bills’ possession after New York’s third punt in a row. Reserve corner Antonio Hamilton and receiver Cody Core combined to down the punt at the Buffalo 2-yard line. But it took the Bills just seven plays to move 98 yards and go up 21-7. While the entire defense was struggling, the Bills in particular targeted rookie cornerback Deandre Baker with great success throughout the first half.

The Giants finally began moving the ball again on their fifth drive of the game, gaining 57 yards on 14 plays. However, after a dropped 3rd-down pass by Bennie Fowler, place kicker Aldrick Rosas missed a 48-yard field goal.

With less than two minutes to play before halftime, the Giants forced a three-and-out by the Bills. Receiver T.J. Jones returned the ensuing punt 60 yards to the Bills’ 33-yard line with 1:15 to go. However, quarterback Eli Manning’s second pass after the punt return was tipped and intercepted. At the half, the Bills led 21-7.

The New York defense tightened up in the second half, but the offense simply could not get untracked. The Bills went three-and-out to start the second half as defensive end Olsen Pierre sacked Allen on 3rd-and-7. An 8-play drive by the Giants sputtered when Manning was sacked on 3rd-and-12 in Bills’ territory.

After two punts by the Bills and one by the Giants, the Giants cut the score to 21-14 early in the 4th quarter after a 12-play, 76-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Jones. The Giants had converted on 4th-and-2 just prior to this when Manning threw a 9-yard pass to wide receiver Cody Latimer.

The Bills responded to this challenge with a killer 13-play, 75-yard drive that took over six minutes off of the clock. It looked like the Giants had forced the Bills to settle for a successful 21-yard field goal, but defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence was flagged with a questionable unnecessary roughness penalty on the kick. Two plays later, the Bills scored from one yard out, making the score 28-14 with 5:53 left to play.

After picking up one first down, Manning’s next four passes were incomplete and the Giants turned the ball over on downs at their own 42-yard line. However, the Bills hardly took any time off of the clock and the Giants got the ball back with 4:39 to play. Four players later, Manning was intercepted again. Buffalo killed all but 26 seconds off of the clock. Manning padded his stats with three meaningless completions and the game ended.

Manning was 26-of-45 for just 250 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. His leading receivers were tight end Evan Engram (6 catches for 48 yards) and Fowler (5 catches for 51 yards). Barkley carried the ball 18 times for 107 yards and a touchdown, but 55 of those yards came on the opening drive. The offense was 3-of-12 on 3rd down and 1-of-2 on 4th down.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 24 first downs, 388 total net yards (151 rushing, 237 passing). For the second game in a row, the defense did not force a turnover. The Giants did accrue three sacks however: Markus Golden (1), Olsen Pierre (1), Lorenzo Carter (0.5), and Oshane Ximines (0.5).

Video lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVES AND INJURY REPORT…
WR Sterling Shepard (concussion0, WR Darius Slayton (hamstring), TE Garrett Dickerson (quad), QB Alex Tanney, RB Paul Perkins, OG/OT Chad Slade, and OT Eric Smith were inactive.

WR Cody Latimer left the game with a concussion and did not return.

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

POST-GAME NOTES…
The Giants fell to 0-2 for the third season in row and fifth time in six years.

The Giants lost their third consecutive home opener, including a 3-7 record at MetLife.

The Giants were the first team to throw for more than 210 yards against Buffalo’s top-ranked (in 2018) pass defense since New England threw for 324 yards last October 29th.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur and select players will address the media by conference call on Monday. The players are off on Tuesday and return to practice on Wednesday.

Sep 132019
 
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Evan Engram, New York Giants (September 8, 2019)

Evan Engram – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Buffalo Bills at New York Giants, September 15, 2019

THE STORYLINE:
It’s usually unwise to make dramatic pronouncements after one game, especially the season opener. There are too many variables. Look no further than the 2007 and 2011 New York Giants – eventual NFL Champions despite being embarrassed in their respective season openers by division rivals.

That all said, there are some serious warnings signs coming out of the ass-whipping the Giants experience last Sunday. Once again, Pat Shurmur’s offensive play-calling came into question. But more importantly, the defense played at a level far worse than expected by many. The pass rush was virtually non-existent and the back seven looked completely lost in coverage. When you can’t rush the passer or cover, your team is going to be in deep, deep trouble.

In terms of the big picture, the Giants’ overall, long-term situation doesn’t look good. For much of the past decade, very ordinary teams in Dallas and Philadelphia have owned the Giants. But now the Cowboys and Eagles have actually morphed into two of the better teams in the conference. The Cowboys and Eagles have good, young quarterbacks; good offensive lines and running games; strong defenses; and solid coaching staffs. Unless the Giants dramatically start closing the talent (and coaching?) gap between themselves and these two division rivals, the Giants won’t have a chance at making a serious playoff run in the foreseeable future. The Giants had better pray Daniel Jones is the real deal. And they’ve got to fix this defense.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Sterling Shepard (concussion – out)
  • WR Cody Latimer (calf – questionable)
  • WR Darius Slayton (hamstring – out)
  • TE Garrett Dickerson (quad – out)
  • RG Kevin Zeitler (shoulder – probable)
  • DE Dexter Lawrence (shoulder – probable)
  • LB Markus Golden (hip – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Last week’s opening drive was beautiful. But the team didn’t score another touchdown until garbage time in the 4th quarter. That’s not good enough. The Giants did move the football, accruing 470 yards and 25 first downs. Almost unbelievably, the Giants actually ran more offensive plays (66) than the Cowboys (62). But the Giants were 2-of-11 on 3rd down (18 percent) and 1-of-3 (33 percent) on 4th down. The bottom line is 17 points isn’t going to get it done. Not with current state of the Giants’ defense. Pat Shurmur knows it. “Yardage is one thing,” said Shurmur this week. “Scoring is another. It’s important that when we get our opportunities to score, we score.”

Eli Manning threw for over 300 yards, completed 68 percent of his passes, didn’t throw an interception, and was sacked only once against the Cowboys. Saquon Barkley averaged almost 11 yards per carry and the Giants dramatically out-gained the Cowboys on the ground (151 to 89). Evan Engram caught 11 passes for 116 yards. Those are winning numbers. But you’ve got to get the ball into the end zone. Pat Shurmur continues to get a bit too cute. Run (or throw) to Saquon. He’s your money player – especially in the clutch on 3rd and 4th down. Eli’s strength is NOT having him move around too much… you’re going to have to wait until Daniel Jones is in the line-up for those plays.

The good news is against a VERY tough Dallas Cowboys defense, the Giants clearly demonstrated this can be a very effective offensive football team, even with the wide receiving corps as it is currently constituted. Nevertheless, the Giants are going to be very short-handed at wide receiver against the Bills with Sterling Shepard, Cody Latimer, and Darius Slayton ailing. The Giants were forced to re-sign T.J. Jones this week as insurance.

The Bills are a very good defensive football team. They are stingy and well-coached defensively. Head Coach Sean McDermott is a former Eagles and Panthers defensive coach. Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier is also highly respected. In 2018, the Bills had the NFL’s second-ranked defense, including #1 overall pass defense. They were also #9 in terms of yards-per-carry run defense. As expected with a #1 pass defense, the secondary is very strong at both corner and safety. And defensive end Jerry Hughes can get after the quarterback. Amazingly, Buffalo has held nine consecutive opponents to less than 210 passing yards.

Bottom line is this is going to be one of the toughest defenses the Giants will face in 2019. Protect the football, emphasize your money players in Barkley and Engram, and score touchdowns in the red zone.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
What the hell was that against the Cowboys? Yeah we knew there would be issues with the pass rush and growing pains with the secondary, but that was absurd. Despite their strengths, the Cowboys are not known for being a high-scoring offense, yet Dallas could have hung 50 on Giants had they not called off the dogs in the 4th quarter. The worst part was the supposedly “experienced and savvy” veterans such as Antoine Bethea and Alec Ogletree looked like chickens running around with their heads cut off.

The good news is the run defense was very good against one of the toughest running team’s in the NFL. But if the Giants can’t stop the pass, this season will be over again by October. Regardless of how you feel about second-year QB Josh Allen and the revamped Bills’ offensive football team, no Giants fan should feel comfortable that this defense can stop anyone until they prove it.

Allen completed only 53 percent of his passes as a rookie. He increased that to 65 percent against the Jets but his 24 completions only went for 254 yards. To date, his hasn’t thrown for a lot of yardage per game in his short career. However, he is very dangerous when running the football, rushing for 631 yards as a rookie and 38 yards last week. Of his targets, the guy who makes me the most nervous is former Cowboy and Giant-killer Cole Beasley. WR Josh Brown also caught seven passes for 123 yards and a touchdown against the Jets in the opener. Running back Frank Gore is nearing the end, but rookie Devin Singletary impressed both as a runner and receiver.

We are going to get a much better read on the true state of the team’s defense this week. The Buffalo offensive line is far weaker than the Dallas line. If Lorenzo Carter, Markus Golden, et al. can’t get to Allen, be scared. But also be cognizant of the fact that the Giants must maintain disciplined pass rush lanes against Allen in order to prevent him from scrambling. That will constrain the pass rush somewhat. Antonio Hamilton should be benched. Deandre Baker is behind because of the two weeks he missed in the summer due to his knee injury, but he needs to play. It will be interesting to see if he rebounds this week. More is expected from Jabrill Peppers and Antoine Bethea at safety. And if Alec Ogletree can’t get the job done at linebacker, the coaching staff should move onto Ryan Connelly sooner than later.

Aside from their performance against the run, the defense was abysmal last week. No sacks, no interceptions, no forced fumbles, and only a few tackles for losses and pass defenses. Dallas scored touchdowns on five straight drives. Make plays, force turnovers, get off of the damn field!

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Much depends on if Andre Roberts (quad) plays for the Bills this week. He is one of the most dangerous kick returners in football. Lost in last week’s disaster against Dallas is the fact that the Giants did not allow a single return yard. Interestingly, the coaching staff has entrusted rookie Corey Ballentine with the kickoff returns. If T.J. Jones is activated, does he replaced Jabrill Peppers as the punt returner?

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher on the anemic pass rush: “When it comes down to whether you pressure or you four-man rush, it comes down to winning one-on-ones. We have to do a better job of winning one-on-ones.”

THE FINAL WORD:
Given the state of the division and the New York Giants defense, it’s difficult to see this team being in the playoff hunt. But in the big picture, some important questions still need to be answered. Is this the right coaching staff to rebuild this team? If the Giants fall to 0-2, there is a serious risk of yet another Giants season being over by October with only meaningless football in front of half-empty home stadiums being played in the last two months of the season. As discussed in The Forum, the October 20th game against the Cardinals looks like the most obvious place to start Daniel Jones (this would be after a Thursday night game against the Patriots, giving Jones 10 days to prepare).

I actually think this offense is capable of being quite good, but the Bills are going to make it tough on the Giants this week. I can’t over-emphasize how well-coached they are on that side of the football. Buffalo just doesn’t give up a lot of yardage or points. Can the Giants’ defense hold the Bills to under 20 points?

Aug 222016
 
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B.J. Goodson, New York Giants (August 20, 2016)

B.J. Goodson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Buffalo Bills 21 – New York Giants 0

Overview

There is no reason to panic. Yet. Most teams have games like this every now and then in both the preseason and regular season, where nothing goes right on one side of the ball. In most cases, one can write off or make excuses for such a preseason disappointment. But when you have a new head coach and a new offensive coordinator/play-caller on a team that hasn’t sniffed the playoffs in four years, red flags start getting raised.

Giants on Offense

The New York Giants played a preseason football game on August 20, 2016 and someone forgot to tell the offense. It was bad. Very bad.

  • Seven first downs. Seven.
  • 1-for-11 (9 percent) on third-down conversions.
  • 166 total net yards with 67 of those yards coming on one 4th quarter play.
  • 64 net yards passing.
  • 47 total offensive plays.
  • Four turnovers.
  • 20 minutes time of possession.
  • Zero points. Zero.
Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 20, 2016)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Quarterback

Eli Manning played four offensive series in which the team netted 23 yards and one first down. He finished the game 4-of-9 for 44 yards.

Ryan Nassib continues to be dreadful. He entered the game in the second quarter and played into the fourth quarter. He didn’t complete his first pass until near the end of the third quarter, missing on his first seven attempts. Nassib finished the game 2-of-12 for 25 yards with one lost fumble.

Not to be “out done”, Logan Thomas had a “perfect” completion percentage, connecting twice with Giants and twice with Bills, finishing the game 2-of-4 for 17 yards and two interceptions.

Running Backs

It was difficult to judge this group based on the piss-poor blocking by the offensive line and tight ends. Probably the most interesting item to note is that the coaching staff isn’t giving Orleans Darkwa much of a chance. He had only a handful of snaps and no touches.

Bobby Rainey broke off a 67-yard run in the 4th quarter, where he showed nice patience but not a lot of breakaway speed despite the big gain. Aside from this play, Giants backs gained 32 yards on 14 carries for a terrible 2.3 yards-per-run. Andre Williams fumbled the ball away, but he had an impressive, physical 14-yard run to start the third quarter.

Paul Perkins failed to pick up the blitz on the sack-forced fumble-turnover that set up the Bills final touchdown. “The sack fumble was a protection adjustment that was on Paul Perkins,” said Ben McAdoo. Perkins also dropped a pass and had a false start. Not a good day for the rookie.

Wide Receivers

Victor Cruz (groin) and Geremy Davis (hamstring) did not play.

Giants wide receivers were targeted 19 times, but only five of those passes were completed. So in two preseason games, Giants wide receivers have only caught 10 passes. Ten. In the attempt to find a third receiver in case Cruz is done, thus far no one is impressing.

The “lucky” five who had a reception: Odell Beckham (22 yards), K.J. Maye (17 yards), Kadron Booone (11 yards), Tavarres King (8 yards), and Darius Powe (6 yards). Sterling Shepard was targeted once and shut out. Same with Myles White and Anthony Dable. Roger Lewis was targeted five times with no catches, including one drop.

Tight Ends/Offensive Line

Left guard Justin Pugh (shoulder) and tight end/fullback Will Johnson (burner) did not play.

I’m grouping these two unit together this week as their pathetic blocking up front was the primary reason for the shit show on offense. One of the beautiful elements of football is that a successful play is often the result of all eleven players performing their independent tasks as assigned. At the same time, one of the most frustrating elements is that if one of those 11 players – particularly a blocker – messes up, it can destroy the entire play. On Saturday, someone seemed to screw up on almost every play, be it with penalties, missed blocks by offensive linemen, and missed blocks by tight ends.

The key question is why was everyone so off? This is basically the same unit that was a top 10 offense last year. This offense played against the Bills in Buffalo last year during the regular season. Was it a comfort issue for the guys up front because Pugh was not in the line-up? Was it the play calling? Were the players simply not playing with the same level of intensity and focus as the Bills?

On the Giants first possession, on 2nd-and-11, it appeared that RT Marshall Newhouse simply failed to make contact on the linebacker who nailed the Giants running back for a loss. But Newhouse had words with TE Will Tye after the play, suggesting that Tye, who was playing up-back on the play, failed his assignment. Either way, someone messed up. After picking on the first down on 3rd-and-12, the Giants lost another yard when TE Larry Donnell simply whiffed on his man. Two plays later, RG John Jerry was flagged with a false start.

On the next series, LT Ereck Flowers was flagged for holding sabotaging the drive before it even had a chance to start. He gave up a pressure on Manning two plays later. The third series was also sabotaged when center Weston Richburg was flagged with holding. It’s difficult to overcome 1st-and-20 on back-to-back series. On 3rd-and-16, both tackles and LG Bobby Hart got beat and Manning was sacked. Manning’s fourth and final series ended on 3rd-and-2 when he was pressured as Jerry and Newhouse let one guy shoot between them.

Donnell whiffed on at least three run blocks and had trouble sustaining on others. He also had issues in pass protection on a Ryan Nassib rollout.

The second team offensive line that started the third quarter featured RT Bobby Hart, RG Emmett Cleary, OC Brett Jones, LG Ryan Seymour, and LT Byron Stingily. After a nice 14-yard run, Hart was promptly flagged for illegal formation on the next snap. Hart did a poor job in pass protection on this play as well as the next play. The Giants tried to run the ball with this unit without much success. Again, individual breakdowns led to issues, such as one right-side play that was stopped from the backside when Seymour whiffed on his block. Later, Cleary moved to right tackle, Adam Gettis played left guard, and Dillon Farrell played center. With this new line, Seymour had problems again, allowing his man to nail Andre Williams for a 3-yard loss. On the very next snap, Stingily, Seymour, and Farrell all immediately fell off of their blocks and Williams was surrounded by Bills (Matt LaCosse also had an impossible angle to attempt to block someone on this play). Farrell later couldn’t handle the nose tackle over his head on another botched run. They all struggled in pass protection too. And so it went. If you can’t block, you can’t run successful offensive plays. As far as I can tell, aside from Hart (and the jury is still out on Hart), there isn’t a legitimate NFL-caliber back-up on this roster. They all looked weak and like their feet are stuck in mud. The Bills just ran through or around these guys.

Giants on Defense

I’m not in a giving mood. The defense was OK. Were they put in a difficult situation because of the impotent offense? Yes. The three Bills scoring drives started at the Bills 48-yard line, Giants 49-yard line, and Giants 19-yard line. But the defense did allow three touchdowns on each of those possessions – all in the first half. In addition, the Bills drove 64 yards on another possession that ended with a fumble into the end zone.

Romeo Okwara, New York Giants (August 20, 2016)

Romeo Okwara – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Defensive Line

DE Kerry Wynn (groin) did not play.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa lined up at right defensive tackle on 3rd-and-13 on the Bills first drive and immediately pressured the quarterback to disrupt the play and force a three-and-out. Olivier Vernon shot past the left tackle on an inside move to sack the quarterback in the second quarter. On the next snap, Vernon did an excellent job of holding the back to a 1-yard gain on 3rd-and-16.

Damon Harrison recovered a fumble in the end zone. He was a force against the run.

Among the back-ups, Louis Nix smacked the quarterback on one pass play. Jermelle Cudjo made a nice play defeating his man and tackling the running back in pursuit for no gain. Greg Milhouse made a couple of nice plays late when the Bills were running out the clock. Romeo Okwara impressed again. He caused an incompletion with one pressure and QB hit and later had a sack. Okwara also was a factor on Cooper Taylor’s interception. He was good against the run too – the Giants have something there in Okwara.

Linebackers

J.T. Thomas (hamstring) did not play.

Jonathan Casillas (4 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 pass defense) had his second strong game in a row. He demonstrated nice pursuit on an end around in the 1st quarter that lost four yards. Later in the quarter, he nailed the back for no gain on an inside run. Casillas did have issues in coverage with running back LeSean McCoy on back-to-back plays in the second quarter – one 32-yard play overturned because McCoy was out-of-bounds and a 23-yard gain on a 3rd-and-8 check down.

Keenan Robinson lost track of the tight end in coverage on a 3rd-and-9 play that picked up 59 yards. Robinson later made a nice play against the run on the Bills second scoring drive by shooting the gap. He later tackled the back for a 3-yard loss on an outside run. Robinson overran a swing pass however, allowing extra yardage, and then was flagged with a face mask penalty.

Jasper Brinkley and Kelvin Sheppard continue to compete for the starting middle linebacker spot. As expected, Brinkley looked good against the run but had some issues against the pass, biting on a play-fake for a 15-yard gain to the tight end. Brinkley missed a tackle in the backfield on 2nd-and-1 but blew up a screen play on the next snap.

Another quiet game for Devon Kennard who had a chance to knock the ball away or intercept it on a 14-gain gain on the second scoring drive.

B.J. Goodson can hit; when he tackles you, you feel it. But he continues to struggle in coverage as he was lucky a deep ball to the tight end was overthrown on a play where he was beat.

Defensive Backs

Cornerbacks Eli Apple (leg) and Leon McFadden (leg) did not play.

Darian Thompson did a great job of attacking a sweep and nailing the running back for a 7-yard loss on the second offensive snap of the game. Later in the quarter, Landon Collins made two nice plays on the goal line. First, he kept the scrambling quarterback out of the end zone by quickly pursuing towards the sideline. Then Collins forced a fumble that was recovered in the end zone by the Giants. Running back LeSean McCoy caught a 13-yard touchdown pass against Thompson on 3rd-and-11 early in the second quarter. Collins blew up an outside running play that lost three yards on the second scoring drive. Collins was very active against the run.

Cornerback Janoris Jenkins let the quarterback get away from him on a 3rd-and-9 blitz, and the Bills made the Giants pay with a 59-yard completion. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC) knocked away an out-pass late in the first quarter. However, DRC may have knocked away a sure interception by Thompson on an errant deep pass. Jenkins got beat for 12 yards on a 2nd-and-13 slant that set up the second touchdown.

Leon Hall’s defensive holding penalty on a 3rd-and-3 incomplete pass kept the Bills second scoring drive alive. Hall was later flagged with a second holding penalty too on an incomplete 2nd-and-15 pass.

Donte Deayon (who was beat) and Nat Berhe (who was late getting over) were lucky a deep ball was overthrown. Deayon got beat for what looked like a touchdown later on this drive, but he prevented the receiver from completing the act of catching the football as he was forced out-of-bounds. But Deayon got burned for a touchdown on the same play on the next drive after a turnover. Deayon also gave up a 31-yard deep sideline pass in the 4th quarter despite decent coverage.

Trevin Wade was beat on the successful 2-point conversion after the quarterback had a lot of time to survey the field. Wade also got beat for 11 yards on a shallow crossing route on 3rd-and-9 in the 4th quarter.

Justin Currie played more than expected after Mykkele Thompson left with a concussion early. Currie couldn’t make the tackle in the backfield, leading to a 9-yard gain on one play. Currie then failed to get over in time on a 21-yard completion two plays later. Cooper Taylor picked off an errant deep pass in the fourth quarter.

Giants on Special Teams

Brad Wing was the “star” of the game for the Giants with eight punts for 384 yards (48 yards per punt), including two downed inside the 10-yard line. Long snapper Zak DeOssie was flagged with a false start.

Tom Obarski missed a 27-yard field goal, which does not bode well for his roster status.

Bobby Rainey returned three punts for 36 yards, including a 25-yard return. Dwayne Harris returned two punts for 18 yards, including a 14-yard return. Rainey had one kickoff return for 21 yards. He came precariously close to causing a turnover when he didn’t field a short kickoff. Joe Powell was flagged for unnecessary roughness, wiping out a decent Rainey punt return.

Punt coverage was better this week, although the Giants did give up two 11-yard returns. Overall, the Bills returned five punts for 26 yards (5.2 yard average). The Giants (Josh Brown) kicked off once and it resulted in a touchback.

(New York Giants at Buffalo Bills, August 20, 2016)
Aug 202016
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 20, 2016)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

BUFFALO BILLS 21 – NEW YORK GIANTS 0…
The New York Giants were shutout by the Buffalo Bills 21-0 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York on Saturday. The Giants are now 0-2 in the preseason under new Head Coach Ben McAdoo.

The offense was pathetic, accruing only 166 total net yards, 64 net passing yards, and seven first downs. And 67 of those yards came on one run by back-up running back Bobby Rainey in the 4th quarter. In four series, the starting offense gained only 23 net yards and one first down. Both pass and run blocking was terrible and the Giants turned the football over four times. The only time the offense seriously threatened – in the fourth quarter – kick Tom Obarski missed a 27-yard field goal.

The individual offensive stats also tell a horrific story.

Eli Manning completed 4-of-9 passes for 44 yards, Ryan Nassib 2-of-12 passes for 25 yards and one lost fumble, and Logan Thomas 2-of-4 passes for 17 yards and two interceptions. Rainey had 70 yards rushing (with 67 yards coming on one late run). Four other running backs carried the ball 14 times for 29 yards with one lost fumble (by Andre Williams).

The Bills scored all of their points in the first half, with their scoring drives starting from the Bills 48-yard line, Giants 49-yard line, and Giants 19-yard line – the latter coming after Nassib’s fumble with 24 seconds left before halftime. Overall, the Giants defense allowed 343 total net yards (70 rushing and 273 passing) with 216 of those yards coming in the first half.

Safety Landon Collins saved more humiliation when he forced a fumble on 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the first quarter. The ball was recovered by defensive tackle Damon Harrison in the end zone. Cornerback/safety Cooper Taylor also intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins, defensive end Olivier Vernon, and defensive end Romeo Okwara each had sacks.

Video lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
Not playing were WR Victor Cruz (groin), WR Geremy Davis (hamstring – did not make trip), TE Will Johnson (burner – did not make trip), LG Justin Pugh (shoulder), DE Kerry Wynn (groin – did not make trip), LB J.T. Thomas (hamstring – on the PUP – did not make trip), CB Eli Apple (strained leg muscle), and CB Leon McFadden (bruised lower leg – did not make trip).

WR Dwayne Harris (knee, x-rays were negative) and S Mykkele Thompson (concussion) were injured in the game. No word yet on the severity of the injuries or how much time either will miss.

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

  • Head Coach Ben McAdoo (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • RT Marshall Newhouse (Video)
  • OL Bobby Hart (Video)
  • DE Olivier Vernon (Video)
  • S Darian Thompson (Video)

ARTICLES…

Aug 192016
 
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Weston Richburg, New York Giants (August 12 2016)

Weston Richburg – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Game Preview: New York Giants at Buffalo Bills, August 20, 2016

THE STORYLINE:
Normally the two most important preseason games for the starters in terms of regular-season preparation are the third and second preseason games. Minus a number of injured starters, we should get a much better impression of the starting offensive and defensive units this week. In addition, Rex Ryan usually takes preseason games more seriously.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • LB J.T. Thomas (hamstring – on the PUP – did not make trip)
  • WR Victor Cruz (groin)
  • WR Geremy Davis (hamstring – did not make trip)
  • TE Will Johnson (burner – did not make trip)
  • LG Justin Pugh (shoulder)
  • DE Kerry Wynn (groin – did not make trip)
  • CB Eli Apple (strained leg muscle)
  • CB Leon McFadden (bruised lower leg – did not make trip)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
This week the Giants offense will benefit from the addition of its two best players: Eli Manning and Odell Beckham. Unfortunately, the clock is ticking on Victor Cruz and the coaching staff must now operate under the assumption that Cruz will not be a factor for at least the first part of the season and perhaps beyond. Making matters worse is that the favorite to replace Cruz in three-wide receiver sets – Geremy Davis – has been missing valuable practice and now game time with a hamstring injury. Keep in mind that Davis is still pretty darn green.

So the attention really shifts to other green receivers such as Tavarres King, Roger Lewis, and Darius Powe – three who didn’t get much of a chance to impress last week due to crappy quarterbacking from Ryan Nassib. Unless one of these three or Myles White shines and gains the trust of Ben McAdoo and Eli Manning, the third receiver on opening day may remain Dwayne Harris. In this offense, the third receiver is a de facto starter.

On the running back front, it appears Rashad Jennings is 1a and Shane Vereen 1b. Paul Perkins will also make the 53-man roster. Bobby Rainey played earlier than expected last week. He’s vying with Andre Williams and Orleans Darkwa for possibly one roster spot. Personally, I’d like to see a heavy dose of Williams and Darkwa in order to get a better read on those two.

At tight end, Larry Donnell and Will Tye seem to be locks. Matt LaCosse has received a lot of attention from the coaches but he’s battling the ultra versatile Will Johnson (who is out this game) and rookie draft pick Jerell Adams for a roster spot. The Giants may keep four tight ends, but someone has to go other than Ryan Malleck unless the Giants ditch Nikita Whitlock and use Johnson at fullback too.

Justin Pugh (shoulder) made the trip but it is unknown if he will play. If he doesn’t, Bobby Hart will have a busy night, playing with the first-unit at left guard and then the second-unit at right tackle. The starters remain pretty much set. What we don’t know is – other than Hart – who the back-ups will be. There are a bunch of journeymen no-names in this group who have yet to inspire a lot of confidence. Depth on the offensive line is a serious concern.

On a final note, Ryan Nassib simply stunk last week. He’s a lock to make the roster, but he has to play with a lot more confidence and credibility.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The early returns with the starting unit were impressive last week, but that was only one game against a suspect offense. That said, if the Giants defensive line performs as well as it did last week throughout this upcoming season, the Giants are in good shape. The front was tough against the run and able to pressure the passer without bringing extra rushers. That’s huge.

The Giants also appear to have a nice battle brewing at back-up defensive end. Owamagbe Odighizuwa and Romeo Okwara not only flashed as pass rushers, but they showed a great deal of versatility by being able to play defensive tackle in pass-rush situations. Kerry Wynn – who was doing some nice things at camp before getting hurt – has missed a lot of time with a groin injury. Even Stansly Maponga and Mike Rose have flashed some.

Depth at defensive tackle behind Damon Harrison and Johnathan Hankins is more shaky. Jay Bromley is finally back after late offseason ankle surgery. The Giants very much need him to come into his own this year. Greg Milhouse, Jermelle Cudjo, Davon Coleman, Louis Nix, and Montori Hughes are probably battling for one roster spot.

It’s still not known who the Giants middle linebacker and principle defensive front-seven signal-caller will be on opening night. Kelvin Sheppard and Jasper Brinkley are the leading contenders. Jonathan Casillas has taken full advantage of J.T. Thomas’ (hamstring) absence and appears firmly entrenched as a starter and nickel linebacker. Keenan Robinson also has seen a lot of time with the nickel defense. We get our first look at him this week as he missed last week with an injury. Devon Kennard was very quiet in the first preseason game. B.J. Goodson had a mostly positive game and was in on a lot of tackles, but he needs to show more in coverage. This appears to be a deep group, but are there any consistent play makers?

The secondary is shaking up to be a strong unit. Eli Apple (leg) made the trip but it remains to be seen if he plays. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins weren’t even tested in the preseason opener. Ben McAdoo said rookie free safety Darian Thompson was virtually perfect in his assignments. I’d like to see more flash out of Landon Collins. The Giants invested a high #2 in him. The nickel corner spot has been dramatically upgraded with the addition of Leon Hall. With Leon McFadden out, Donte Deayon should see a lot of action, and possibly Bennett Jackson, at corner. I still don’t have a good sense of whether or not the Giants have an NFL-caliber back-up safeties. Nat Berhe, Cooper Taylor, Mykkele Thompson, and Andrew Adams all had their ups and downs last week. This is an important game for them.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
The one-game suspension of Josh Brown and ensuing media controversy about his domestic violence past may be upsetting the apple cart here. Is Tom Obarski the guy you want kicking against the Cowboys with the game on the line in the opener? Will the media storm surrounding Brown die away or force the team’s hand? Often unrecognized by fans is that the Giants have a heck of a punter in Brad Wing now. That was a good trade last year. Team punt coverage last week was very shoddy and needs to improve.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Ben McAdoo on the Second Preseason Game: “It’s good to get the first group out there. A chance to knock the rust off. We played a few snaps in that first game but to get out there with Eli and Odell and get the whole group together and work the instincts. Anticipation is exciting.”

THE FINAL WORD:
The Giants were too sloppy last week. Hopefully that starts getting cleaned up as we progress towards the regular-season opener. Mike Sullivan called the plays. Will that continue? Who will be the middle linebacker? Who is the #3 wide receiver on this team? If Landon Collins or Darian Thompson get hurt, who is the primary back-up at safety?

Oct 062015
 
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the-big-lebowski

New York Giants 24 – Buffalo Bills 10

Gratuitous Introduction

OVER THE LINE! Huh? I’m sorry Rexy, you were over the line, that’s a foul. Rexy, this is not ‘Nam. This is football. There are rules. In true Rex Ryan fashion, a big bad boasting team with a putrid QB faced a team with an actual QB and lost, badly, and apparently the NFL rule book didn’t make it in the moving van boxes from Florham Park to wherever the hell the Bills practice. 17 penalties for the Bills, habitual line steppers all of them but that was only the late story. The Bills were completely out-played from whistle-to-whistle by a suddenly solid and confident Giants team.

Luckily for Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin, he has The Dude, who even in the face of Nihilists who don’t believe in penalties, always keeps ‘er easy. Eli was classic Dude on Sunday, changing plays, running the hurry-up to limit substitutions and marching his team down the field to the tune of 24 points against a defense he wasn’t supposed to be able to dent. Oops. The 24 points were more than enough for this no-name, all-game defense that absolutely clobbered 243lb rookie sensation Karlos Williams to the tune of 40 yards on 18 carries and held speedy QB Tyrod Taylor to 15 yards on 6 attempts.

Another close 4th quarter, another pull-away win. That’s two in a row kids and you have to know The Dude abides. I don’t know about you, but I take comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ he’s out there. The Dude. Takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (October 4, 2015)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Quarterbacks

I only mention it because sometimes there’s a man… I won’t say a hero, ’cause, what’s a hero? But sometimes, there’s a man. And I’m talkin’ about the Dude here. Sometimes, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that’s the Dude, in New York. The best QB this franchise has ever had has directed his team to two straight wins and again proven his mettle when this team has needed him the most. Facing a tremendously insipid train horn pre-snap, and a big, physical and unpredictable Buffalo front 7, Eli was his usual cool self, evenly distributing the ball, changing plays and keeping the Bills on their heels (calm down Rex) all day long. Five Giant players had at least 2 catches and TDs went to three different players, a definitive sign that this offense is coming along and that even when Pre-madonna (sic) WR Odell Beckham Jr. is held in check, Eli can hurt you with just about anyone else. Eli’s late INT was the only real blemish on the day, and while 20-35 for 212 yards is pretty pedestrian these days, it was Eli’s ability to get his team lined up quickly and use as much of the play clock as he could to get the Bills to show their hand up front that made the difference for this team offensively.

Running Backs

The best output by the Giants RBs this year, their ability to be physical and keep gaining positive yardage kept the Bills guessing all day on defense. Following a 2-play, 32-yard drive of passes to Dwayne Harris, the Giants backs then took the reins and started to wear down the vaunted Bills DL. Up 9-3, this group led a 10-play, 76-yard march that put the Giants up 16-3 and may have salted the game away with the way the defense was throttling the Bills most of the day. Andre Williams and Rashad Jennings averaged 7.2 yards on 5 combined carries on the drive, and set the tone for the rest of the day. RB Shane Vereen had a nifty 27-yard screen play called back by a Geoff Schwartz penalty. Jennings was unceremoniously dumped on his melon by DE Mario Williams as the 3rd quarter wound down, but Jennings would have the final say. Snagging an Eli Manning flare pass and racing 51 yards, Jennings threw S Bacarri Rambo aside like a sack of dirty undies en route to the game-sealing TD and a 24-10 lead.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (October 4, 2015)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Wide Receivers

Dwayne Harris is officially a Giant now, hauling in his first TD in Blue and gathering in 5 passes for 51 yards in 6 targets. Harris is starting to become a reliable threat from the slot, and his toughness is showing each week as he takes shot after shot on special teams and over the middle as a WR. Rueben Randle again came up big, running a well-timed slant early in the 2nd quarter for an 11-yard score and a 16-3 Giant lead. Odell Beckham Jr. had a head-scratching Sunday, several times drawing Eli’s ire for an incorrect route adjustment and constantly barking at the Bills. ODB finished with just 38 yards on 5 catches and was hemmed in well by the Bills. Credit CB Ronald Darby for playing aggressively and keeping the reigning Rookie of the Year in check. It’s Beckham’s presence though, that draws so much attention it opens up the field for Manning to use his other weapons.

Tight Ends

TE Larry Donnell had another meh outing, pulling in 38 yards on 5 grabs and again falling prey to a false start penalty. Newly-signed Will Tye dropped the only ball fired his way.

Offensive Line

Just call LT Ereck Flowers “Iron Balls McGinty” from here on out. Flowers, playing on a gimpy ankle, came out after one offensive play but strapped his big boy shoes back on and pitched a shutout against dynamic DE Jerry Hughes. The Giants OL may have just arrived, stubbornly plowing forward for 92 yards on 28 carries, which against the front led by the massive duo of 330lb Marcel Dareus and the 6’7” Mario Williams is a solid day’s work. This game was this young OLs biggest test and 24 points, 1 sack allowed and a sound victory against a very good defense is something for this group to build on. Rookie Bobby Hart notably got some snaps in jumbo formations, something to watch down the line. It may have been due to the dearth of TEs but the big rookie looked OK.

Kerry Wynn, New York Giants (October 4, 2015)

Kerry Wynn – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Defensive Line

DE Kerry Wynn again stole the show on the DL in the absence of Robert Ayers Jr., notching what is becoming a very familiar sight, a backside cut-back lane tackle for little or no gain. Nothing flashy about 72, but he is never out of position and plays as soundly as a DE can against the run and he tallied another 8 stops from his DE spot. Wynn, lined up at DT on a 3rd-and-12 late in the 3rd quarter, alertly recognized a screen, got depth and helped snuff the play out deep in Giants territory. Wynn’s play is a huge reason this run defense is the best in the NFL right now. Owa Odighizuwa made his long-awaited debut and promptly dropped Tyrod Taylor on a zone run to his side, a play that a year ago would have gone for a huge chunk of yardage with a DE flying upfield and losing containment. On the same play, FINALLY, DL Cullen Jenkins also wrapped up the dive fake to Karlos Williams, something Giant fans have been waiting to see since our run defense was embarrassed last year. You attack the read option inside and read it outside, just like the offense is designed to make the play work. Instead of DEs attacking the edges, you sit and read and make a play and #58 did just that in his maiden voyage. Owa chipped in with 2 stops and did a solid job holding the edge when asked. DT Jay Bromley absolutely blew past RG Craig Urbik on what appeared to be a Tyrod Taylor TD run (say that three times fast, or don’t – I don’t really care), which forced the desperate OG to pull Bromley down and negate the run. Bromley followed that play up with another hurry of Taylor, which caused an incompletion. FB/DT and all-around neat guy Nikita Whitlock notched a sack in the 4th quarter, making the memory of the Hynoceros dance just a little less painful. DTs Cullen Jenkins and Jon Hankins did what they do – they owned the A gaps and kept their play-makers clean. The duo combined for 5 tackles and a sack and spearheaded the stifling of the Bills rushing attack.

Linebackers

LB Devon Kennard is becoming a problem. You can’t throw on him, you can’t run on him and he loves him a little contact. Defensive head honcho Steve Spagnuolo has deployed Kennard everywhere and the dynamic second-year LB is delivering, breaking up 3 passes intended for TE Charles Clay, one of which was intercepted  late in the 1st quarter as the LB was lined up one-on-one against Clay down the sideline. The field position resulted in an easy 2-play, 32-yard TD drive. Kennard was back at it on the next series, rushing up the A gap to knock down a Tyrod Taylor offering at the line of scrimmage and forcing a punt. Kennard did get beaten on a TD pass by RB Karlos Williams on the same route he picked off earlier in the game, but #59 stopped 3 drives on his own early. J.T. Thomas chipped in with 4 tackles, had some coverage issues on a long pass play to TE Charles Clay but it was the former Mountaineer who was there on a 4th-and-goal tackle to snuff out a Bills drive. Jonathan Casillas officially had 9 stops, but I officially didn’t notice, even watching this game not once not twice but thrice.

Prince Amukamara, New York Giants (October 4, 2015)

Prince Amukamara – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Defensive Backs

If you looked at the box score and saw 274 yards from Tyrod Taylor, you might have cringed. S Landon Collins and CB Prince Amukamara combined for 12 stops and 3 passes defended. Collins had two great diving breakups and a pressure on Taylor on a Bills drive that ended with a missed FG late in the 3rd quarter. The Prince ripped the ball out of WR Robert Woods’ hands with the game all but sealed, but he and Collins wanted that ball and they got it to put one more nail in the coffin. S Craig Dahl nearly came away with a sack on a blitz right up the A gap on the left side, just missing Taylor in the end zone. CB Jayron Hosley isn’t as good as ST ace Jayron Hosley. #28 was victimized by Percy Harvin and drew a bad pass interference penalty as the Bills were trying to claw back into the game. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had little to do with Greg Roman’s caveman like offense bumbling around all day, but DRC made a goal line stop in tandem with LB J.T. Thomas that kept the Bills out of the end zone on a 4th-and-goal from the 2.

Special Teams

Jayron Hosley, take a bow, then get real low because one BBI denizen wishes death up on you. The former VPI man was relentless on special teams, spearheading a coverage unit that stifled the Bills return game to the tune of 88 yards on 9 touches. Dare we say it the Giants coverage teams are now a strength and not a gaping hole of sadness? K Josh Brown missed a 38-yard XP and looked like a one-man gaping hole of sadness afterwards.

Coaching

Hell I like Steve Spagnuolo, he can come over to my house and…well Gunnery Sgt. Hartmann’s words are not quite appropriate in this space (just barely) but you get the idea. Spags has resurrected defense in NY with TEAM FIRST play, nothing more. This team, no matter who is in or what formation they are in, flies to the ball on every single snap. That’s a sign of a team that believes in itself and its coordinator.

I mean say what you want about the tenets of the West Coast Offense, Dude, at least it’s an ethos. Unlike Bills play-butcherer Greg Roman, whose ethos seems to be throw far to TE guy…if not, let QB run fast. OC Ben McAdoo has his offense starting to round in to form. The running game isn’t going to scare anyone, unless it’s like a team of 8-year olds (no way would they tackle Andre Williams), BUT it’s working well enough in chunks to keep the defense honest and let Eli do his thing. Credit McAdoo with spreading the ball out wide on the Giants the first few drives, then counter punching with inside counters and traps on the Giants 2nd TD drive. The plan to wear down the Bills huge front 7 worked and they were off balance all day.

Inside the Backside (don’t be gross)

Against an aggressive front, and make no mistake this defense attacks all day, several keys exist to slow down a pass rush. Most readers of this site are savvy enough to know that draws, screens, hard counts, motions and misdirection plays are all geared to slow down a big-time pass rush. The G-Men currently lack that killer pass rush, but the #1 rushing defense in the league is being noticed and teams are trying to negate the Giants ability to penetrate in the ground game as well. The concept and idea is the same – if a team is disruptive and crashing gaps to blow up a running game, let them crash, let them over-pursue and you’ll see holes open up. In the sequence below, watch MLB Jon Beason and DE Kerry Wynn stay disciplined and be in position to make a stop. Specifically, watch how Beason’s depth never changes until he sees the play starting to unfold, keeping him from getting blocked by an OL or the FB, and Wynn flattens down the LOS to contain the backside run.

cutback1

On the game’s opening play, the Bills try just that, with a counter to the weakside. Note Kerry Wynn crudely highlighted at LDE and the lead FB and OL all moving squarely left while MLB Jon Beason, maintains his depth and finds the ball carrier.

cutback2

First, Wynn uses a swim move to keep RT Seantrel Henderson from getting inside his shoulders. And he flattens down the line, not flying into a hole or looking for the big play, but playing smart, sound fundamental DE by maintaining outside leverage and tracking the play laterally rather than getting too far up field. A big cutback lane is evident here as 5 of the Giants front 7 are now backside, not play-side as the Bills had hoped. Beason, however, still square to the line of scrimmage, still with good depth, is not caught up in the wash.

cutback3

Wynn, still parallel to the line of scrimmage, begins to close down the hole, again, not shooting up field, but by keeping outside leverage (45 degrees with the ball carrier to your inside, it’s all about technique) and moving down the line. MLB Jon Beason, who stayed patient, now recognizes the cut back and it’s a race to close down the gap.

cutback4

Beason and Wynn, both of whom read their keys and allowed the play to develop before attacking, close down RB Karlos Williams for no gain. Credit DTs Jon Hankins and Cullen Jenkins along with DE George Selvie for doing the dirty work and not allowing the OL to get to Beason. This is team run defense at its most basic and its fundamental best.

Cram it in your Cramhole Award

I’ll need the trophy store to really crank out a big order this week, for the entire Buffalo Bills organization, down to each dopey fan gets the CCA. Rex Ryan’s incessant boasting, Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman trying to use TE Charles Clay like he’s Vernon Davis, the front office for assaulting our QB senses with Tyrod Taylor and for that damn train horn that played while the G-Men had the ball. Gamesmanship, home field advantage, yeah yeah we get it, but this is supposed to be a professional game played by highly-paid men who sacrifice their bodies for our entertainment (and their giant paychecks) and you choose a train horn to throw off a QB who beat an 18-0 Patriots team in the Super Bowl? That’s the proverbial knife-to-the-gun-fight, you dolts. Then you incite your rube fans to chant the chant-of-the-stupid between honks? At least we can be sure that the denizens of whatever-it’s-called-now stadium have mastered one of the five vowels. Bully. The poor White Stripes, they could have never known their ditty would be used in such a Neolithic manner. Head referee John Hussey gets a runners-up badge for his President Skroob like moustache.

(New York Giants at Buffalo Bills, October 4, 2015)
Oct 042015
 
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Devon Kennard, New York Giants (October 4, 2015)

Devon Kennard – © USA TODAY Sports Images

NEW YORK GIANTS 24 – BUFFALO BILLS 10…
The New York Giants won their second game in a row by defeating the Buffalo Bills 24-10 at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The Giants have now evened their record at 2-2 after an 0-2 start.

The Bills received the ball to start the game but the Giants’ defense forced a three-and-out. On their first possession, the Giants moved the ball 35 yards in eight plays to set up place kicker Josh Brown’s successful 47-yard field goal. Giants 3 – Bills 0.

Both teams then exchanged three-and-out punts. On Buffalo’s third possession, they moved the ball just 15 yards but it was good enough to set up a successful 51-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3. The Giants punted the ball away on their third possession but got it right back when linebacker Devon Kennard made a spectacular sideline interception at the Bills’ 32-yard line. Two plays later, quarterback Eli Manning hit wide receiver Dwayne Harris for a 21-yard score. After a false start, Brown’s extra point effort was no good and the Giants led 9-3.

Rueben Randle, New York Giants (October 4, 2015)

Rueben Randle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The Bills went three-and-out again. The Giants responded with an impressive 10-play, 76-yard effort that ended with an 11-yard touchdown throw from Manning to wide receiver Rueben Randle. The Giants now led 16-3.

The Bills had the ball three more times in the first half and the Giants twice, but neither team could generate any remaining offense before intermission.

The Giants punted twice and the Bills once to start the second half. Buffalo then put together a long 13-play drive that moved the ball from their own 10-yard line to the Giants’ 12-yard line. But Buffalo’s place kicker missed the easy 30-yard chip shot and the score remained 16-3 with 2:20 left in the third quarter.

The Giants went three-and-out and the Bills quickly threatened to tighten the game again, starting at their own 47-yard line, driving, and setting up a 1st-and-goal from the Giants’ 9-yard line. However, the Giants denied the Bills on four straight plays, including stopping Buffalo running back Karlos Williams on a quick pass just short of the goal line on 4th-and-goal. Linebacker J.T. Thomas and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie made the stop.

Despite these defensive heroics, the Giants were still facing a tough situation after their offense went three-and-out again. The Bills began the ensuing possession at the Giants’ 43-yard line. Three plays later, Bills’ quarterback Tyrod Taylor hit Williams for a 23-yard scoring play to cut the Giants’ advantage to 16-10 with less than 10 minutes to play.

Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (October 4, 2015)

Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The pivotal moment came on the Giants’ next possession. Up by only six points, and facing a 3rd-and-3 from their own 49-yard line, Manning threw a quick pass to running back Rashad Jennings, who caught the ball, broke a tackle, ran down the left sideline, stiff-armed a defender, and scored from 51 yards out. A successful 2-point run by running back Andre Williams gave the Giants a 24-10 advantage with 7:42 left to play.

Desperate to score, the Bills turned the ball over on 3rd-and-11 on the ensuing drive when cornerback Prince Amukamara stripped a Bills’ receiver of the football and recovered the fumble at the Buffalo 40-yard line. The Giants moved the ball to the Bills’ 8-yard line, but on third-and-goal, Manning’s pass intended for Randle was intercepted and returned 29 yards to the Bills’ 30-yard line with 3:41 left to play.

On their last possession, Buffalo did reach the Giants’ 13-yard line. But after a sack by fullback/defensive tackle Nikita Whitlock, the Bills turned the ball over on downs after an incomplete 4th-and-19 pass. The Giants then knelt on the ball to seal the victory.

Offensively, Manning finished the day 20-of-35 for 212 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. In terms of catches, the leading receivers were Harris (5 catches for 51 yards and 1 touchdown), tight end Larry Donnell (5 catches for 38 yards), and wide receiver Odell Beckham (5 catches for 38 yards). The Giants’ running backs rushed for 94 yards on 25 carries.

Defensively, the Bills were held to 14 first downs and 313 yards (55 yards rushing, 258 yards passing), were 3-of-16 (18 percent) on third down, and 1-of-3 (33 percent) on fourth down. The Giants forced two turnovers (Kennard and Amukamara) and had two sacks (defensive tackles Cullen Jenkins and Whitlock).

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
DE George Selvie (calf), CB Jayron Hosley (evaluated for concussion), and LB Devon Kennard (hamstring) were all injured. LT Ereck Flowers (ankle), CB Trumaine McBride (thigh contusion), WR Dwayne Harris (ribs) all suffered injuries but later returned to the game.

POST-GAME REACTIONS…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Tom Coughlin and the following 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 (ankle), TE Jerome Cunningham (knee), DE Robert Ayers (hamstring), DT Markus Kuhn (knee), LB Jasper Brinkley, and S Cooper Taylor.

ARTICLES…

Oct 022015
 
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Mark Herzlich (58) and Jay Bromley (96), New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Mark Herzlich and Jay Bromley – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants at Buffalo Bills, October 4, 2015

THE STORYLINE:
At the very least, the New York Giants temporarily saved their season with their 32-21 victory over the Washington Redskins in Week 3. But the 1-win G-Men are obviously not out of the woods yet and a loss to the Buffalo Bills would once again significantly reduce their margin for error, especially if the Cowboys defeat the Saints on Sunday night.

The Giants also received another kick to the nuts this past week when Victor Cruz suffered an injury setback. The addition of a healthy Cruz would have emotionally lifted the team and possibly taken the offense to a different level. Now the Giants will have to get by with what they have for the foreseeable future, not knowing if Cruz will even be a factor in 2015. “Next man up” remains the mantra. As Tom Coughlin said on Thursday, “It is what it is” and the Giants will have to get by with what they have. Will it be enough?

The Bills are clearly an up-and-coming team that leads the NFL in rushing (152.7 yards per game) and run defense (74 yards per game). Teams like that are very difficult to beat. Throw in an exceptionally mobile quarterback who is completing over 74 percent of his passes, and this will be a tough game.

Tom Coughlin said something very interesting this week. “The fact of the matter is, in our league, 75 percent of the games are decided in the fourth quarter,” said Coughlin. “They either end up with a two-minute drill on offense or a two-minute drill on defense, and we’ve got to get better in those areas to expect to be able to finish these games against very good people we’re playing.”

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Orleans Darkwa (knee – probable)
  • WR Victor Cruz (calf – out)
  • OT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP and will not play)
  • TE Daniel Fells (ankle – questionable)
  • TE Jerome Cunningham (knee – out)
  • LT Ereck Flowers (ankle – questionable)
  • DE Robert Ayers (hamstring – out)
  • DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot – probable)
  • DT Markus Kuhn (knee – out)
  • CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromarties (concussion – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
For the second game in a row, the Giants will be playing a top-5 run defense. But what makes the Bills defense even more dangerous than the Redskins defense is their ability to rush the passer. And can do so with just their front four up front as well as Rex Ryan’s complicated blitz packages.

The conventional wisdom for this game is that the Giants should not even bother trying to run the football against the NFL’s #1-ranked run defense, and the team should focus on the quick, 3-step passing game. It’s hard to argue with that approach other than the fact that is probably what Rex Ryan is expecting the Giants to do. Also, there is worry about the Giants offensive tackles, the gimpy Ereck Flowers and the journeyman Marshall Newhouse, being able to hold up against defensive ends Jerry Hughes and Mario Williams, two of the most dangerous pass rushers in football. Defensive tackles Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams are also two of the best defensive tackles in the game. It’s an line full of Pro Bowlers.

I am going to go against conventional wisdom and argue that the Giants should attempt to run the football against the Bills, especially running behind Ereck Flowers and Justin Pugh in the direction of the undersized Hughes, if for no other reason to prevent him from teeing off on Flowers on the pass rush. I also don’t want Newhouse having to fend off Williams on play after play. I would mix in the short passing game with quick throws to Shane Vereen, Odell Beckham, Rueben Randle, and the tight ends. The counter-argument would be to do what the Patriots did and that is pass 50 times, eschewing the ground game completely. I don’t think that strategy fits New York. I also think it is one that is prone to mistakes and turnovers.

Perhaps it is wishful thinking, but despite New York’s poor yards-per-rush stats against the tough Redskins run defense, I felt the commitment to the run in that game had an impact on the contest and wore down Washington. The Giants need to keep the down-and-distance situations manageable. That doesn’t mean don’t pass on first down, but I would run the football, including on third down. What you don’t want are holding penalties, sacks, and turnovers coming out of the passing game.

Vereen and Beckham could be match-up problems for the Bills, but someone else needs to step up too as Buffalo’s weaker linebackers and defensive backs will likely concentrate on these two. New York needs another strong game out of Randle with solid contributions from Larry Donnell and the gimpy Daniel Fells as well. Will Dwayne Harris finally make a big play in the passing game? Like against the Redskins, the Giants will have to selectively pick their deep shots as Manning will not have much time set up deep in the pocket and wing the ball down the field. I think a real key here will be the ability or inability of the interior trio on the offensive line to keep Dareus and Williams out of Manning’s face.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
Again, this is a bit similar to Washington in that the Bills are one of the top rushing attacks in football. That bodes somewhat well for New York in that the Giants are currently #2 in the NFL in run defense. But why Buffalo appears more dangerous is the mobility of their surprise quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who can hurt teams with designed running plays as well as improvisation when a play breaks down. New York has yet to face a dangerous mobile quarterback, and the Bills will likely test the young defensive line’s discipline with misdirection. This was always a problem under Perry Fewell’s defense and we’ll get our first feedback on whether it will improve under Steve Spagnuolo.

“(Taylor) doesn’t play like this is his first time being a full-time starter,” said DE Robert Ayers, who unfortunately will not play on Sunday. “He’s smart. He’s not just running, he’s not just doing one read, not seeing it and taking off running like a lot of mobile quarterbacks do. He’s going through progressions and making smart decisions. He impressed me.”

And Taylor is not just mobile. He’s a legit 4.5 athlete who can make a huge play with his feet. More startling is he is completing almost 75 percent of his passes. But Taylor is still inexperienced. He has only started three NFL games despite being in the NFL for four season with Baltimore. Clearly, the game plan is to keep the shorter (6’1”), mobile QB in the pocket with a disciplined rush that is more interested in containment than generating immediate pass pressure. The rushers must stay in their pass rush lanes. This will make it tough to sack Taylor, but it is necessary. Spagnuolo will mix and match coverages, using zone-blitz schemes, to confuse Taylor and encourage him to make an ill-advised throw. The Giants probably can’t play too much man coverage, however, as that style of defense is always vulnerable to the quarterback-turned-runner.

The Bills will be severely limited by the absence of two of their most dangerous play-makers: wide receiver Sammy Watkins and ex-Eagle and Giant-killer running back LeSean McCoy. The main weapons now become deep-threat wide receiver Percy Harvin and receiving tight end Charles Clay. The Giants have to particularly careful of Clay off of play-action, including bootlegs, and Harvin on end arounds.

But the primary area of focus must be stopping rookie running back sensation Karlos Williams, who is averaging almost eight yards per carry. Williams is a big, physical north-south, down-hill runner who can break the big play with fine speed. The Giants must play stout at the point-of-attack and limit the ground game.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Marcus Thigpen has two career punt returns for touchdowns. Percy Harvin has five career kickoff returns for touchdowns. Obviously, both are dangerous. Place kicker Dan Carpenter has been shaky recently. The Bills employ a kickoff specialist (already 12 touchbacks) so don’t anticipate much help from Dwayne Harris on kickoff returns.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Tom Coughlin on the Buffalo Bills Offense: “They’re going to run the ball. They’re going to run. They want to run, they want to play action pass, they want to move the quarterback, they want to bootleg. They started the game last week with two bootlegs for good plays. That’s what they want to do. They’re going to try and pound it. What they do is they pop up and throw the deep ball, (QB Tyrod Taylor) is good at the deep ball. If it’s a rhythmic throw, he’s right on the money. That’s where they balance it off.”

THE FINAL WORD:
I must admit I got foolish caught up in the Victor “Return” hoopla and had visions of him tearing Rex Ryan’s heart out again. Now this game becomes harder to gauge. Defensively, if the Giants can stop the run and contain Taylor in the pocket, they should be alright. But those are two big “ifs”. Look for the Bills to use misdirection and play-action to confuse the young defenders of the Giants. Offensively, the line of scrimmage looks like a big mismatch with a huge advantage for Buffalo. Do the Giants try to run the ball? Or are those simply wasted plays? Fans may get upset with the short passing attack and being more conservative, but this may be one of those games where the team that makes the fewer mistakes comes out on top.

As Tom Coughlin pointed out, the Giants are going to have to learn how to win tight football games in the fourth quarter by either driving the football in the final minutes or stopping the opposing drive in the final minutes. This could be one of those games.

Aug 072014
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 17 – Buffalo Bills 13

REVISITING: FOUR DOWNS
During our game preview, we listed a new segment, ‘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.

Eli Manning and Ben McAdoo, New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

Eli Manning and Ben McAdoo – © USA TODAY Sports Images

First Down
How does Eli Manning look in a West Coast Offense?
The short answer? Good. The long answer? It’s a work in progress. Manning created a few waves when he and others said the goal this year was to complete “70 percent” of his passes. Well, after one game, Manning is completing over 85 percent. He went 6-for-7, missing on his first throw and then hitting his next six. There will be many more check downs this year, something that early on appears to suit Manning.

Second Down
The progression of Ryan Nassib
Entering into Sunday’s game, Ryan Nassib was coming off two of his best practices of the summer. His showing in the Hall of fame game displayed that. Nassib put some zip on the ball, displayed his mobility and the ability to keep plays alive. There was accuracy shown and some arm strength. Unfortunately, he also showed the inconsistency. Both the intentional grounding and nullified interception were the ‘bad’ aspects you get with the ‘good’ of Nassib.

Third Down
The ‘Legend’ of Devon Kennard
Kennard played well in his first game in a Giants’ uniform. He was physical, wasn’t out of position much and made his usual ‘pop’ play down by the goal line. Kennard ran through a pulling offensive guard, knocked the guard back, while retaining his own balance, and tackled Anthony Dixon near the goal line.

Fourth Down
The rebuilt, re-tooled secondary
One stat says it all, Bills’ quarterback E.J. Mannuel completed 3-of-7 passes. On the few deep passes thrown against Prince Amukamara, the former first-round pick had perfect coverage. On the two passes thrown at Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (both of which were batted down), the corner had cut on the ball and was in position to make a play. The secondary looks good. Very good.

OFFENSIVE OVERVIEW – by Eric Kennedy

Six offensive players did not make the trip to Canton, including key contributors WR Odell Beckham (hamstring) and LT Will Beatty (migraine). Also missing were RB David Wilson (neck), WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring), TE Xavier Grimble (hamstring), and OG/OC Eric Herman (hip).

The Giants had nine legitimate offensive possessions, not counting the kneel down before halftime and three plays to run out the clock at the end of the game. The Giants starting offense played three of the nine possessions (1/3 of the game). They struggled on their first two drives, one three-and-out followed by sack/fumble turnover after picking up one first down. The first-team offense then easily drove down the field on a 12-play, 80-yard drive against the Bills’ second-team defense.

In the second quarter, Ryan Nassib and the second-team offense took the field. Nassib had two drives in the second quarter, the first was an 8-play, 52 yard possession that resulted in a 47-yard field goal. The second only covered 15 yards in six plays.

In the second half of the game, a mixture of second-, third-, and even some fourth-teamers participated in four more offensive possessions that traveled 29 yards (5 plays), 23 yards (5 plays), 69 yards (2 plays, including a 4-yard loss), and 36 yards (12 plays). The highlight was obviously the 73-yard scoring pass from Nassib to WR Corey Washington.

Overall, the Giants accrued 308 total net yards (121 rushing, 187 passing) and 19 first downs. The team was a respectable 6-of-13 (46 percent) on third down and won the time of possession battle 33:37 to 26:23.

Based on my comments below, I have major concerns about offensive line depth and the tight end situation. As much as Jerry Reese supposedly did this offseason, the cupboard is still too bare at these critical positions.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

QUARTERBACKS  by Eric Kennedy

Eli Manning’s completion percentage was impressive (6-of-7, 86 percent). But he only threw for 43 yards. It’s going to take me some time to get used to this dink-and-dunk offense. However, Eli actually looked more adept at it than I expected, particularly for the first game. His first throw was a bit off the mark (or Jerrel Jernigan was a bit off the mark on his route). But after that, Eli was a perfect 6-for-6. It’s interesting to note that five of the first eight plays (all against the Bills’ starting defense) were designed quick throws. One-two-three…throw. Two passes were intended for Jernigan, three for Jennings. On the 12-play, 80-yard drive, Eli only threw twice, once to Jernigan for 8 yards (on 3rd-and-5) and once to TE Daniel Fells for 10 yards.

My biggest problem with Eli was his decision-making on the sack-fumble play. Both tackles gave up some heat, and the not-so-nimble-footed Eli tried to blindly spin-scramble out of trouble. Problem is by scrambling, he ran into a third defender who had gotten away from Geoff Schwartz. The loss of yardage on the sack would have been bad enough, but losing the football was worse. He can’t be that careless. This play was somewhat reminiscent of his happy feet in the pocket in 2013. Hopefully, this is not a developing trend in his game as he ages.

Ryan Nassib came into the game at the start of the second quarter and played until the beginning of the fourth quarter. He finished the night 7-of-12 for 139 yards, although 73 of those yards came on the one play to Corey Washington. Nassib had two drives in the first half, with mostly second teamers. He was 5-of-8 for 49 yards on those two drives. He showed good mobility and accuracy on a rollout pass to TE Larry Donnell and found WR Marcus Harris for a 25-yard strike over the middle on a strong throw. Pressure in his face caused an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-7 to end his first drive. After completing three short passes on his second drive, he just missed WR Julian Talley deep down the middle (the pass was a tad too high). His 3rd-and-14 incomplete throw to Harris looked on the mark, but it was tough to tell without instant replay.

With a step down in surrounding talent (more third-stringers), the third quarter was not as kind to Nassib. He had two more drives. After completing one short pass that was called back due to offensive pass interference, Nassib threw his worst pass of the night. With pressure in his face, he tried to force the ball to a well-covered Adrien Robinson, not seeing a second defender just sitting in the throwing lane and easily picking off the pass. Luckily for Nassib, a roughing-the-passer penalty erased the interception. Two plays later, however, on a naked boot to the left, the defender on that side didn’t bite on the play-action and was immediately in Nassib’s face. Again, Nassib panicked a bit, throwing the ball into the turf despite not being outside of the pocket. Intentional grounding was correctly called. On the second drive, Nassib completed a 17-yard pass to Mario Manningham, but was sacked two plays later (a penalty on the Bills erased the sack). After two runs, Nassib couldn’t connect with Marcus Harris after a blitzing linebacker got in his face. Nassib’s final throw of the night was his slightly under thrown long ball to Corey Washington for the go-ahead (and game-winning) touchdown.

Curtis Painter (3-of-3 for 26 yards) came into the game with less than 11 minutes to play. He looked respectable.

Andre Williams, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Andre Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

RUNNING BACKS  by Eric Kennedy

I liked what I saw from Rashad Jennings (7 carries for 23 yards, 3 catches for 20 yards) and Andre Williams (7 carries for 48 yards) when given an opportunity by the blocking up front. Both are bigger, more physical backs. Both seem more “Giant-like” to me. Jennings has very natural hands and I think he is going put up big reception total numbers in this offense. Eli trusts him. Nice job by Jennings to pick up 5 yards after the catch on 3rd-and-2. Williams demonstrated surprising agility and quickness for a big man, and his 3-yard goal-line touchdown was a no-nonsense effort. Both were helped on the third drive by some very good lead blocking from FB Henry Hynoski. On that drive, 10 of the 12 plays were running plays to Jennings and Williams, gaining 62 of the 80 yards on the possession. I don’t know what was going on with John Conner, but he didn’t look as focused and physical as he did last year. Hynoski out-played him in round one of the FB battle.

With David Wilson done, the drop off from #1 and #2 running back to #3 is pretty big right now. Peyton Hillis (7 carries for 36 yards) can block, catch, and run with some power, but he isn’t very quick or fast, as demonstrated by his 7-yard run on 3rd-and-12 where he made a really nice cut, but couldn’t outrace the defense to the sticks. Kendall Gaskins (5 carries for 5 yards) didn’t have much room to operate behind the third-team line, but he didn’t flash any special qualities either. He also could not sustain his block on a blitzing linebacker that led to an incomplete 3rd down pass.

I was more impressed with Michael Cox (9 carries for 3 yards) despite what the horrendous stats indicate. When given a chance, like his back-to-back 9- and 7-yard runs, he demonstrated better acceleration and quickness than Hillis and Gaskins. Cox stood out on the middle screen play where he expertly chipped a blitzer who could have blown up the entire play, made the one-handed reception, and then ran tough for the first down on 3rd-and-8.

WIDE RECEIVERS by Eric Kennedy

Oddly, no passes thrown in the direct of Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle. Jerrel Jernigan was the only wide receiver targeted by Eli, catching two of three passes thrown in his direction. Randle did a nice job of run blocking on Williams’ 21-yard run.

Marcus Harris flashed in the third quarter with the second team, especially on his fearless 25 catch-and-run over the middle. He finished the night with 4 catches for 49 yards. He might have had a bigger night had he been able to come down with a 3rd-and-14 throw by Nassib that looked on the mark. Good effort by him on his run blocks as well.

Mario Manningham caught one pass for 17 yards. Corey Washington stood out with his very nice leaping catch where he out-fought the Bills’ defensive back for the ball and a 73-yard score. Julian Talley was flagged for offensive pass interference.

TIGHT ENDS – by Eric Kennedy

Larry Donnell was the #1 tight end in this game. I spotted him getting stymied in the hole as a lead blocker from the fullback position on the first possession. On the second possession, as he was blocking down on DE Mario Williams, Williams squeezed inside to stuff Jennings for a 1-yard loss on 2nd-and-1. But what was weird on this play was that LG Geoff Schwartz ran past Williams to pull around Donnell, as if the running play was supposed to go behind Schwartz and not to the inside where Williams made the play. In other words, I’m not sure Donnell was at fault here.

After this, I thought Donnell did a nice job as a run blocker from the traditional down position, including on the long touchdown drive. He looked good catching a 13-yard pass on a QB rollout in the second quarter. Daniel Fells caught a 10-yard pass before he suffered a knee injury in the second quarter and was forced to leave the game. His blocking looked solid. Right now, Donnell and Fells appear to be the top two tight ends on the depth chart.

Adrien Robinson seemed to be the next guy off the bench, followed by Kellen Davis. Robinson didn’t impress me with his blocking, particularly as a move tight end. He was flailing around out there at times.

Bottom line, the Giants may have a developing player in Donnell and a somewhat serviceable journeyman in Fells, but not much else. Robinson still looks like he isn’t developing and the fact that Davis appeared to be #4 on the depth chart is not a good sign for him. Hello waiver wire come cut-down time. Not good for a Ben McAdoo offense that relies so heavily on tight ends.

OFFENSIVE LINE – by Eric Kennedy

Starting were Charles Brown (LT), Geoff Schwartz (LG), J.D. Walton (C), Brandon Mosley (RG), and Justin Pugh (RT). I was more down on this group when I originally watched the game, less so when looking at the game film a second time. Simply put, there were not enough snaps to adequately judge the starting group.

On the first two drives against the Bills’ formidable starting defensive line, five of the eight plays were very quick (and designed to be quick) throws to Jernigan and Jennings. Given the quick set up and throws, the line was easily able to keep heat off of Eli on these five plays. On the play before the sack-fumble, the offensive line had formed a perfect pocket on the 5-yard completion to Jernigan. The problems were on the other three plays: two runs and one pass. On the first run, as mentioned above, Donnell got stood up in the hole by the linebacker. On the second run, as mentioned, Mario Williams defeated an oddly-designed or executed short-yardage play, leading to a 1-yard loss. On the one passing play where Eli didn’t quickly throw the ball, both Pugh and Charles Brown gave up some pressure (Pugh also was flagged with holding on this play). Eli decided to blindly scramble away from it with a spin move. Geoff Schwartz’s man then broke free to sack Manning. Tough to judge Schwartz here as he probably was surprised by Manning’s move away from the pocket. That said, Schwartz does not look very athletic to me. He lumbers in the open field (he looked really out of place on a screen play). Interesting note is that Mark Asper played tight end on Andre Williams’ goal-line touchdown play.

On the third drive, the first-string offensive line – as one would hope – began to exert itself against the second-team defensive line of the Bills. The Giants ran the ball 10 times for 62 yards; both passes were completed for another 18 yards.

James Brewer, New York Giants (January 30, 2012)

James Brewer – © USA TODAY Sports Images

In the second quarter, the fourth drive started off with Brown (LT), Weston Richburg (LG), Dallas Reynolds (61), Mosley (RG), and Pugh (67). On this drive, James Brewer came in for Pugh at right tackle. Brown was a bit shaky at times throughout the game, including against the backups. During his rookie season in 2011, Brewer was tasked with carrying the team’s lucky teddy bear on road trips. The problem with Brewer – who is a huge athlete – is he plays like a teddy bear. He rarely delivers the punch – a guy that big and strong and nimble shouldn’t be getting pushed back by smaller defenders. Reynolds looked decent at times, but also blew a block on a running play that went nowhere. On the last drive in the second quarter, John Jerry came in for Mosley. He did not look good.

In the third quarter, the line started off as Brewer (LT), Richburg (LG), Reynolds (C), Jerry (RG), and Rogers Gaines (RT). Jerry and Gaines were the obvious weak links on this line. Perhaps Jerry still is fighting his way back from the offseason knee surgery that caused him to miss the OTAs. Or perhaps he simply stinks. But for a big guy, he doesn’t get any movement on his run blocks and he was getting bull-rushed on passing plays. It was his man who got in the face of Nassib on Nassib’s worst throw of the night. Gaines had problems in pass protection a number of times, and both Jerry and Gaines gave up a 3rd quarter sack. In the fourth quarter, John “the human turnstile” Sullen came in at right guard. He was dreadful.

On the last real drive of the game, the line had Brewer (LT), Jamaal Johnson-Webb (LG), Richburg (C), Sullen (RG), and Gaines (RT). Interestingly, I thought Richburg looked shakiest here at his “natural” center position. His man badly disrupted one running play. On this possession, and a few other times at left guard earlier in the game, Richburg was pushed back. He needs to get bigger and stronger. I don’t see the player yet who everyone is excited about.

My overall impression of the offensive line as a unit? The Giants desperately need Will Beatty back at left tackle. I think Schwartz-Walton-Mosley-Pugh will be serviceable, but this is not a physically-imposing line. Richburg needs to play stronger, but he does have good agility. I don’t like the depth situation at all outside Richburg and maybe Brown. Jerry doesn’t look good at all. Brewer is very versatile, but he’s a soft player. When Dallas Reynolds looks like one of the better backups, you know you are in trouble. The rest of the guys – quite frankly – don’t look very good. Sullen and Gaines were terrible. I didn’t seen enough of Johnson-Webb.

Cullen Jenkins and Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

Cullen Jenkins and Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

DEFENSIVE OVERVIEW – by Connor Hughes

The following players did not play for the Giants on defense after not making the trip to Canton: Trumaine McBride, Bennett Jackson, Travis Howard, Jon Beason, Spencer Paysinger, Robert Ayers and Mike Patterson. 

After watching the game live, I came away being very impressed with the overall play of the Giants’ starting defensive players and reserves. There was pressure on the quarterback, little room for the running backs to run and some tight, physical coverage from the cornerbacks.

The secondary made plays, the defensive line got after the quarterback and the linebackers did a phenomenal job of filling any holes the running backs attempted to escape through. Granted, the offense is not the strength of the Buffalo Bills, but it was still encouraging to see.

Being put in tough positions twice, the Giants’ defense held. Once, coming up with an interception following a blocked punt, and a second time holding the Bills to a field goal following Manning’s fumble. The Giants did allow one touchdown drive, a 15-play, 80-yard possession, that was aided by two penalties. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie committed defensive holding and Prince Amukamara illegal contact.

When all was said and done, the Giants’ defense allowed 246 yards (94 rushing, 152 passing). The Bills went 4-for-13 on third downs, 2-for-3 on fourth downs and were 1-for-3 in the red zone.

I had high expectations for the defense. They met them against a subpar Bills’ offense. This Saturday’s test against the Pittsburgh Steelers should be a good one and provide a larger challenge.

THE DEFENSIVE LINE – By Connor Hughes

Johnathan Hankins was one of the guys I was very interested in taking a look at. For the first time in his career, Hankins was the No. 1 defensive tackle from the start. He wasn’t used in only ‘certain’ packages. He was in them all. He impressed me against the Bills. Hankins shed blocks very well, wasn’t easily moved and found himself in on just about every running play. On the first series of the game, Bills’ running back Fred Jackson attempted to run one up the middle, Hankins stuffed the intended gap and made Jackson bounce it outside. On the second drive, Hankins mauled Chris Williams to make a play on the running back for no gain.

Damontre Moore, New York Giants (September 29, 2013)

Damontre Moore – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Another player I kept an eye on for the defensive line was Damontre Moore, and in particular, Damontre Moore against the run. Sure, his pass rushing skills have been well documented, but can he play the run? Moore showed on two separate occasions that he has improved himself against the run. Both times standing his blocker up, shedding him and then moving down the line in an attempt to bring down the ball carrier. While he did get fooled very badly on the read option, he learned. A series or two later, Moore was unblocked on a running play. Instead of crashing down, he held his ground, waited for the quarterback to commit to the running back, then came down and made the play.

As a pass rusher? Well, Moore was as good as advertised. I had three counts of pressure on the quarterback where he just out-played Cyrus Kouandjio. If both parts of his game come together, he’s gonna be a very, very good player.

While watching the game, I was impressed with Jay Bromley. After watching the film, I’m still impressed with Jay Bromley.  The rookie was strong against the run, got a few pressures and attacked with great leverage.

LINEBACKERS – By Connor Hughes

With all of the talk and praise the Giants’ coaches have given Jacquian Williams, I wanted to keep an extra eye on him. He didn’t flash too much, aside from the bat down, when watching live, so I figured I’d scope him out a bit on tape.

There was one play, on the third series, where the Bills again went deep in Amukamara’s direction. Williams went hard in one gap, there was nothing there, so he bounced around and found another opening. He used his speed to chase the Jeff Tuel down and got in his face, not allowing the quarterback to unload the ball. Williams on the blitz isn’t something that’s been seen a lot in the past, but may be featured more now.

One play, above anything else, stood out to me on the progress Williams has made. On a screen pass to Anthony Dixon, Williams fought through two oncoming linemen, split them both and made the play after only a two-yard gain. If Williams didn’t make it, it was looking like a big play for Dixon.

I read a few people that said Devon Kennard didn’t live up to the ‘hype’ that surrounded him coming form training camp. I disagree. Aside from making a few solid tackles, he made one ‘wow’ play during the game. Near the goal line, Kennard came in on a blitz and ran through Bills’ guard Chris Williams. Kennard knocked Williams back while never losing balance himself, then made the tackle on Anthony Dixon. It was impressive.

THE SECONDARY – By Connor Hughes

When Stevie Brown was appointed the Giants’ starting safety opposite Antrel Rolle, there was talk on how he’d be able to handle the run game. During is first year with the Giants, prior to injuring his knee, Brown essentially just played center field and waited to run wherever the ball was thrown. On the first play of the game, he showed he is a bit physical, too.

Brown started at the safety position, starting moving closer to the box before going on a dead sprint when the play was snapped. Brown shot through the heart of the offensive line and tackled C.J. Spiller for no gain. It was a very, very solid play against the run.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The secondary, by the way, is much, much more physical this year and in-your-face. In the past, the Giants liked to hold their corners 8-10 yards back from the wide receivers. Not any more. I just saw a couple plays where the corners didn’t line up directly over the receiver. Every now and then one corner would be up, one would be back. But nearly every play had at least one up in the face of an opponent’s wideout.

I was a little weary of Walter Thurmond III during the game as I saw him get beat a few times. After watching the film, he played much better than I originally expected. On his first completion, Jeff Tuel put a perfect pass to Rob Woods that few could have defended. On a second completion given up, a slant, Woods ran directly into Thurmond causing him to lose balance. That play could have been offensive pass interference. He played well, much better than I originally thought.

Tuesday, the Giants’ secondary coach Dave Merritt called rookie Nat Berhe ‘The Missile.’ After watching the film, I know why. On the first play he came in, Berhe ran full speed into a Bills’ offensive lineman, bounced off and continued to chance down the running back. On his forced fumble, Berhe saw Chris Gragg being brought down by a teammate. Instead of just trying to put Gragg on the ground, Berhe put his helmet on the ball and forced a fumble.

(Boxscore – New York Giants vs Buffalo Bills, August 3, 2014)