Sep 202022
 
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Oshane Ximines, New York Giants (September 18, 2022)

Oshane Ximines – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

After a week of the coaches and players unofficially clamoring the NYG faithful to show up ready to rock for the 2022 home opener at MetLife Stadium, the juices were flowing. Once again, a “this feels different” kind of vibe poured into the seats as the fans watched their 1-0 New York Giants at home for the first time since September 18, 2016 when Eli Manning took on Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. The Giants ended up winning that game 16-13 behind a 368-yard performance by Manning and his number one target, rookie Sterling Shepard, who caught all 8 of his targets for 117 yards.

Fast forward six years to the day, and the 2016 head coach for NYG, Ben McAdoo, was up in the booth employed by Carolina Panthers as their offensive coordinator. Whether it was a revenge game or not for him does not matter, but human nature must create a notion he wanted to stick it to the Giants. His offense was due to get the ball first but a fumble by second-year running back Chuba Hubbard that was recovered by NYG forced him to wait. NYG did put a quick three points on the board via a 36-yard field goal by Graham Gano.

McAdoo and the CAR offense did get their shot at a drive following the next kickoff. They failed to cross midfield (a penalty brought them back after crossing) and it ended with a 3rd-and-22 wide receiver screen (remember those?) that ended in another fumble, this one by receiver Robby Anderson, that was also recovered by NYG. For the second straight series, the offense began in CAR territory and for the second straight series, the offense settled for three points.

CAR added three points of their own via 31-yard field goal by Eddy Pineiro after a 13-play drive that ended with a Shi Smith drop that would have given them 1st-and-goal at around the 5-yard line. CAR was shooting themselves in the foot over and over, including a 4th-and-1 false start by rookie left tackle Ikem Ekwonu. NYG’s offense was being halted by penetration by the CAR front and quarterback Daniel Jones struggling to make quality decisions from the pocket. Pineiro hit a 32-yarder to tie it up and the score was 6-6 at the half.

NYG went three-and-out on their opening second-half drive and CAR came out hot like the way NYG did last week in Tennessee. Three plays (two passes and a 17-yard scramble by Baker Mayfield) put them in the end zone to score the game’s first touchdown and give NYG their first deficit via a 16-yard pass to D.J. Moore. Down 13-6, it did not take long for them to get right back to even. Jones made a couple of aggressive, big-time throws and the offense put together four straight 10-yard+ plays. The drive ended on a pitch, catch, and run from Jones to rookie Daniel Bellinger for the 16-yard score. Can’t ask for a much better first-career reception than what the fourth rounder from San Diego State produced.

NYG held CAR scoreless on the next drive but lost defensive tackle Leonard Williams to a knee injury. He would not return. The game remained tied up at 13 as they went into the fourth quarter. Gano gave them a three-point lead via a 51-yarder. A sneaky key contributor prior to the attempt was the 3rd-and-7 play where Jones had to tuck and run after dropping back. He clearly had no shot at a first down, but those five yards were essential to the attempt. Hidden yards appear once again. I wonder if McAdoo was paying attention.

CAR quickly tied the game back up with a 38-yard field goal. Once again, they were in a position to do damage but errant throws by Mayfield, drops by the pass catchers, and penalties stopped their momentum, and NYG had control of the game with over 10 minutes left. An 11-play drive that took 7:12 off the clock set Gano up for a 56-yard field goal attempt. He put it right down the middle for his career-long in a Giants uniform and longest of his personal career since 2018 when he was with Carolina (a 63-yarder that beat…NYG).

CAR did creep toward midfield but a 3rd-down sack by Julian Love created a 4th-and-15, forcing CAR to punt the ball back to NYG with just over two minutes left. With a three-point lead, this is where teams need learn how to win. In just four plays and with the help of an encroachment penalty by CAR, NYG secured two first downs and CAR were without timeouts as the clock dwindled to triple zero.

NYG wins, 19-16.

QUARTERBACK

-Daniel Jones: 22/34 – 176 yards / 1 TD – 0 INT / 87.4 RAT

Jones also added 21 hard-earned yards on the ground. One of the more fascinating things to follow under the Jones umbrella will be his willingness to make aggressive throws. Watching from the birds eye, Jones simply did not see open targets or he was too hesitant to let it rip. I say that from the comfort of my chair, whereas he had multiple elite, enormous athletes bearing down on him trying to rip his head off behind a shaky offensive line. But at some point, and Brian Daboll has stated this as well, Jones will need to alter his mindset. There is too much hesitation in his game, and it almost cost the team. Sure, he is playing with a sub-par group of pass catchers, but he needs to be more aggressive. If it is a matter of him not seeing the action, that is a different discussion. But Jones CAN do it. He DID it in this game. Make tight throws in big moments that are considered “elite” throws. Will Daboll get this out of him? Keep an eye on it.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 21 att – 72 yards / 3 rec – 16 yards

The Week 1 NFC Offensive Player of the Week took a step back in overall production and did not score. The CAR front gave the NYG offensive line all they could handle and more. That said, NYG scoring 13 points in the second half (after just 6 in the first) was largely a result of Barkley gaining 69 yards on the ground in the final two quarters. He came to life, broke multiple tackles, and ran physically. The one negative on his sheet was a poor pass block that created pressure and led to a sack.

-Gary Brightwell gained 14 yards on one carry that may have been the best play of the day by this offense. A 3rd-and-1 in the fourth quarter where he lined up as a fullback, Brightwell took it through the line in a hurry up field as if was shot out of a cannon. It was his only snap of the game, and nobody saw it coming.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Last week it was Kadarius Toney, this week it was Kenny Golladay, when it comes to a surprising number of snaps. The $18 million per year receiver saw a grand total of two. He was not seen in the locker room after the game but according to Daboll, this was pre-decided and discussed during the week. Speaking of Toney, the 2021 first rounder did see an uptick in playing time. He caught 2 passes that totaled 0 yards (yes, zero) and dropped a pass. His biggest gain of the day (36 yards) was nullified by a David Sills offensive pass interference.

-Sterling Shepard had 6 catches for just 34 yards and Richie James (the current leading receiver on team after 2 weeks) added 54 yards on 5 catches. Both bring similar, if not identical, traits to the passing game and once Wan’Dale Robinson comes back, the same could be said for him. The NYG passing game will feed off these guys especially on third down but make no mistake, they aren’t taking the top off a defense unless the secondary gets fooled. Shepard did almost get another deep ball in this one, though.

-David Sills was the beneficiary of the hit to Golladay’s playing time. Good for this kid and I personally enjoy seeing him get his shot. If you remember back, I wanted NYG to take him in the 4th round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He went undrafted and linked up with Buffalo (where Daboll was at the time) and here we are in 2022, Sills saw a career-high 67 snaps, which led all receivers. Separation and speed issues were his downfall as a prospect, and they are still limiting him now but I do think he can offer something as a number four guy this season. That said, his bonehead decision to run backwards after a catch on 3rd down at the end of the first half was a terrible play that brought out the boo birds as the team went to the locker room.

TIGHT END

-Daniel Bellinger was targeted one time (two less than backup Tanner Hudson) but he made the most of it. He caught the ball, quickly turned upfield, and showed a nice burst to the front corner of the end zone before outstretching his 6’5” frame to the pylon for the touchdown. Hudson grabbed 2 passes for 22 yards. Both were beat up at the point-of-attack by the physical CAR front, with Bellinger allowing a TFL. Chris Myarick saw time as the team did use an above average amount of 13 personnel and graded out in the green as a blocker.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Very rough day for the group overall. The CAR front is a solid group, but they played above their pay grade thanks to poor blocking by the NYG line. The interior is where most of the losses were found. Center Jon Feliciano put out a second straight poor performance. In the fourth quarter with the game tied at 16, he allowed a TFL and then was flagged for holding, nearly knocking them out of field goal range. He also allowed 2 pressures and was flagged for a false start (where he did not snap the ball on time). Derek Brown had his way with him.

-Mark Glowinski is a blue-collar guy who won’t ever be a dominant presence, but I do feel good about him from a macro-perspective. Nevertheless, in this game, he allowed 3 pressures and a sack. He isn’t a stout guy at all. While he does produce enough power on the move as a run blocker, his anchor against an elite bull rusher gives him problems. Ben Bredeson and Joshua Ezeudu rotated at left guard again, but it was 77%-23% in favor or Bredeson when looking at snaps played. Rightfully so. Ezeudu was flagged twice (one was declined) and allowed a pressure. Bredeson graded out as the top OL on the team. I forecast the rotation continuing but if this difference in play keeps appearing, Bredeson will likely take a firm hold of the job until Shane Lemieux is back.

-The tackles were both beat up by Brian Burns multiple times. While they both ended up in the average tier of my grading system, they need to be better than what we saw in Week 2. Andrew Thomas allowed 2 pressures and a sack. His sack was a result of Jones running into his engagement due to pressure coming from Barkley, however. Thomas has set the bar high and many outside of New York are catching on. The catch with that? Your margin for error is much smaller. Evan Neal was the top graded run blocker. On a 17-yard run by Barkley, Neal blocked two different defenders within a second of each other that cleared the path. He did allow 1 TFL, 2 pressures, and 1 sack. More struggles but also more positives.

EDGE

-Hats off to Jihad Ward. One of the most overlooked NYG signings this past offseason stemmed from a previous relationship with Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale in Baltimore (2019-2020). A hybrid DT/DE has been placed into a pure outside linebacker role with the injuries to starters Azeez Ojulari and Kayvon Thibodeaux. He was one of the stars of the defense in this complete team effort. He had 4 tackles, 2.5 TFL, and a pressure. You won’t see a ton in the highlight reel from him (although that is an impressive stat line vs the run), but Ward’s impact on this defense was huge. A true edge setter and vocal leader on this unit that has more swag than any group in recent memory.

-Oshane Ximines also had the best game of his career. He had 2 tackles, a sack, a pass breakup, and 3 pressures (1 untouched). It has been a rocky tenure here in New York for Ximines. While I’m not going to all the sudden label him a star, his role on this defense can be huge, especially if he is a rotational backup-type once the starters come back. The biggest difference in him is mental. There is a lot less hesitation in his game.

-Tomon Fox had a quiet game in his 20 snaps.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Leonard Williams going down is something to keep an eye on. At the time of this writing, I do not have any sort of update but I saw a clear difference at the point-of-attack after he left. Prior to him getting hurt, Christian McCaffrey carried the ball 11 times for 39 yards. After he left? 4 carries for 63 yards including a 49-yarder. The 4-man pass rush took a hit as well. Williams had 3 pressures, one of which created a sack for the defense.

-Dexter Lawrence had a dominant day. He is playing with some extra fire right now and his bull rush is as effective as you will find in the league. He had 4 pressures and a half-TFL. Arguably the most impressive play was a pursuit of Baker Mayfield to the sideline. It was 3rd-and-4 in the first quarter. Mayfield had a clear line to the first down marker, and he took off from midfield. Lawrence chased him from the middle of the line and essentially beat him to the marker. CAR did convert the 4th-down conversion the next play but I loved seeing Lawrence, a 345-pounder, go step for step with a 215-pound quarterback who ran a 4.8 at the Combine. You won’t find many guys who can do that.

-Nick Williams rotated with Justin Ellis with some D.J. Davidson sprinkled in. It was a small sample size (as it was in Week 1), but I trust Davidson more than the former two. He has a little more pop off the ball and is twice as stout as Williams, the biggest catalyst in NYG’s occasional run struggles.

LINEBACKER

-To combat Christian McCaffrey (arguably the league’s top dual threat back), Martindale played almost the entire game with one linebacker on the field. Tae Crowder played 48 snaps, and the combination of Micah McFadden and Austin Calitro combined for 15 snaps. More on that below. Crowder had just 2 tackles and missed one. He was non-existent against the inside run but was not challenged much in coverage, a questionable approach by McAdoo.

CORNERBACK

-Aaron Robinson was sidelined because of an appendectomy, giving the start to rookie Cor’Dale Flott. The third rounder missed a sizeable portion of camp and preseason with a groin injury, and I felt this was a vulnerable part of the defense. McAdoo did not try to exploit it until the second half. Flott was beat twice on the CAR touchdown drive, including the score. He was rotated out for most of the game afterward. He also missed 2 tackles.

-Adoree’ Jackson shut down Robbie Anderson (3 rec / 32 yards). He also recovered a fumble and broke up a pass. Anderson is on the field for one reason, and one reason only. Run deep, stretch the secondary, make explosive plays. He isn’t physical. He isn’t effective underneath. This is the ideal matchup for Jackson, and I believe that is why he was put on a shadow-role in this one. He covered Anderson in over 80% of drop backs. Great game by him despite the illegal-contact penalty.

-Darnay Holmes was flagged for pass interference again and he missed 2 tackles. But he had pressure (untouched) and forced a fumble that NYG recovered. Have to take the good with the bad with him, partially why I think he is a fit with Martindale.

-Fabian Moreau rotated in for Flott when they benched him. He had a quiet game from there.

SAFETY

-Julian Love is blossoming into the player many of us thought he could right before our eyes. He had 7 tackles, 1 sack (in a key moment), 2 TFL, and a pressure. He also made an impact on special teams. He was one of three defenders to play every single snap and he was all over the field. Not every scheme maximizes a player like this, but Martindale’s does.

-Xavier McKinney was second on the team with 5 tackles and a pressure (untouched). He also batted two balls at the line (a staple in Mayfield’s game as a passer) and played excellent over-the-top pass defense. The combination of these two is a big-time contributor to the strong defense we have seen through two weeks.

-Dane Belton had a great start to his career after missing Week 1. He recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff and played just under 80% of the snaps, contributing 4 tackles and was inches away from an interception. Belton did miss two tackles though, one thing to keep an eye on as that was a red flag on his scouting report coming out of Iowa. The middle of this defense on the back third is something I will touch on below. Hint, this may change the defense as much as any group on the team.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 4/4 (Made 36, 33, 51, 56)
-P Jamie Gillian: 5 punts / 50.6 avg – 43.2 net

3 STUDS

-EDGE Jihad Ward, S Julian Love, K Graham Gano

3 DUDS

-OC Jon Feliciano, DT Nick Williams, OG Mark Glowinski

3 THOUGHTS ON CAR

1. If you want to see a team that has completely mismanaged the quarterback position year after year, check out what CAR has done. In 2020, they could have made an aggressive trade up from #7 overall with one of multiple teams that already had a QB (WAS-Haskins, NYG-Jones, DET-Stafford). They did not pony up and watched Tua go #5 and Herbert go #6. They went forward with Teddy Bridgewater. In 2021, they tried to get Stafford but were outbid by the Rams. They chose not to draft Mac Jones or Justin Fields. They instead ate $17 million of dead cap and traded multiple picks for Sam Darnold. In 2022, they were outbid in trade attempts for both Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson. They ended up trading for Mayfield. Moral of the story? You are going to need to overpay in a quarterback situation and be OK with it.

2. Matt Rhule was minutes away from being the NYG Head Coach. Now? I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as the first one fired this season. They went 5-11 in his first year, 5-12 in his second year, and are currently 0-2 in the one season where the NFC South looks most vulnerable. They look like a team that is simply running in place. Not getting any worse, not getting any better. There was a huge blowback when NYG did not get Rhule by many fans. Remember, sometimes the best deals you make are the ones you do not. Rhule is showing to be a college-only type. I bet we see him down there again within 1-2 years at a marquee program (Oklahoma? Nebraska? Auburn?).

3. Where will CAR go this year? What is their long term outlook? While I don’t consider them a basement-caliber team (they have some serious pieces on defense), they’re exactly where you don’t want to be. Good enough to win 5-7 games, not good enough for .500. That is a spot that is hard to build from especially when you don’t have a QB. I think Mayfield is a backup somewhere else next year and Darnold as well. Matt Corral was drafted this past spring and unless this team makes an aggressive move this year (maybe Tepper has finally learned his lesson) the long-term outlook is bleak at best. My prediction? They go all in on the top QB in a draft trade or try to get Lamar Jackson.

3 THOUGHTS ON NYG

1. The Wink Martindale scheme is one of, if not the most, versatile schemes in the NFL. Many will talk about being “multiple” and in some context it is true. Some teams are so deep up front they can rotate bodies all game and change up their looks based on personnel. Over the course of a season, however, those trends can be forecasted. Martindale does a great job of completely altering his approach on all levels to surprise an offense. You think he’s sending the house? He will rush four via zone blitz. You think he’s rushing four? He’ll send seven. You think he is going to jam the box with extra linebackers? He brings another defensive back on the field. I compare Martindale to the Bruce Arians of defenses. No risk it, no biscuit. Scared money don’t make money. This may end up biting them at some point but when looking at it from a bird’s eye lens, I trust it will help more than hurt.

2. Sticking with that defensive theme, keep a close eye on this trio of safeties. McKinney and Love are ascending stars in this league who can do so much for a defense to help win games. Opposing offenses will never know where they are going to line up. Throw in Belton who, at the very least, can play fast and shows the ability to play up and down, and this group is going to hide the issues they have at linebacker and pass rush for the time being. 3 of their 4 leading tacklers were these guys and they added pass break ups, plays behind the line of scrimmage, and pressure on the quarterback. Finding good safeties can be very difficult and the Giants have two of them.

3. Through two games, how is the offense projecting moving forward? They are bottom third in yards per play. Bottom third in EPA. Bottom three in sack percentage. Third most sacks allowed. Bottom six in yards per pass attempt. The saving grace? They are sixth in yards per rush attempt and have turned it over just twice in 2 games (small sample size, but rank top half in that department in the good way). The concern still resides up front with the line. If these tackles don’t have a superb game, do we trust the interior to keep it together or do the wheels fall off? It is clearly impacting Jones as he cannot step up in the pocket and I think it is messing with his internal clock. Yes, part of that is on Jones, but the inside guys need to be better. There is no way around it. This team needs to score more and get more yards through the air if they are going to sustain success. I really think over 80% of that is on the shoulder of the guard-center-guard. Play better.

Sep 182022
 
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Julian Love, New York Giants (September 18, 2022)

Julian Love – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 19 – CAROLINA PANTHERS 16…
It wasn’t pretty, but the New York Giants gutted out a hard-fought 19-16 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants are now 2-0 for the first time since 2016.

The story of the game for the Giants was the defense and special teams as the offense struggled for much of the contest. Statistically, the game was fairly even with the Giants and Panthers both having 18 first downs and the Panthers having just 10 yards more on offense (275 to 265). However, the Giants won the turnover (2-0) and time of possession (35:57 to 24:03) battles. New York was also 6-of-18 on third down while the Panthers were 2-of-12.

The Giants had a chance to take command of the game early after two turnovers by the Panthers, but had to settle for field goals. First linebacker Carter Coughlin forced the Carolina kickoff returner to fumble away the opening kickoff. Safety Dane Belton recovered the loose ball and advanced it three yards to the 22-yard line. However, the Giants only managed to pick up four yards in three plays and settled for a 36-yard field goal by place kicker Graham Gano.

After picking up one first down on their ensuing possession, Carolina turned the ball over again when cornerback Darnay Holmes forced a fumble after a short pass on 3rd-and-22. Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson recovered the ball at the Panthers’ 40-yard line. The Giants’ offense did pick up three first downs, including on 4th-and-1, and reach the 2-yard line, but back-to-back sacks on quarterback Daniel Jones ended this possession with another field goal. The Giants were up 6-0 with two wasted opportunities for more points.

Carolina cut New York’s lead in half on the following possession with a 13-play, 58-yard drive that ended with a 31-yard field goal. After two punts by the Giants and one by Carolina, the Panthers then tied the game late in the first half with a 10-play, 34-yard drive that set up a 32-yard field goal with 56 seconds before the break.

Offensively, the Giants finished the first half five offensive possessions, four first downs, 60 yards of total offense, and no yards rushing.

Momentum continued with the Panthers as the 3rd quarter began. After a quick three-and-out by the Giants, quarterback Baker Mayfield completed a 29-yard pass to wide receiver D.J. Moore, scrambled for 17 yards, and then threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Moore. Panthers 13 – Giants 6.

New York responded with their best offensive drive of the day. On 3rd-and-9, Jones completed a 15-yard pass to wide receiver Rich James. Running back Saquon Barkley gained 16 yards. Jones then found James for 12 yards and tight end Tanner Hudson for 15 yards. After an incomplete pass, Jones hit tight end Daniel Bellinger for the 16-yard, game-tying touchdown.

After three punts by the Panthers and two punts by the Giants, New York regained the lead with a 9-play, 58-yard drive that ended with a 51-yard field goal by Gano with 12:35 left in the game. The big play on this drive was a 24-yard pass from Jones to wide receiver David Sills on 3rd-and-10. Giants 16 – Panthers 13. However, the Panthers immediately responded with a 5-play, 55-yard drive. The big play being a 49-yard run by running back Christian McCaffrey. This set up a 38-yard field goal to tie the game at 16-16.

With 10:46 left on the clock, the Giants began an 11-play drive that only accrued 37 yards. However, it took over seven minutes off of the clock and resulted in a 56-yard field goal with 3:34 to play. This ended up being the game-winning kick.

On Carolina’s final possession of the game, the Panthers picked up two first downs and reached their own 46-yard line. But on 3rd-and-6, Mayfield was sacked by safety Julian Love. With just over two minutes to play and all three of their timeouts, the Panthers punted the ball back to Giants.

The New York offense sealed the game with two first downs. After a 6-yard run by Barkley, a Carolina defensive lineman was flagged for encroachment. The second first down came on a 11-yard scramble by Jones on 3rd-and-6 to avoid punting the ball away. The Giants then ran out the clock to seal the game.

Jones finished the game 22-of-34 for 176 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He also ran 10 times for 21 yards. His top two receivers were Sterling Shepard (6 catches for 34 yards) and James (5 catches for 51 yards). Barkley carried the ball 21 times for 72 yards.

Defensively, the team held the Panthers to 275 total net yards and forced one fumble. Linebacker Oshane Ximines and Love were credited with sacks.

Gano kicked four field goals, including a 51- and a 56-yarder. The kickoff until also forced and recovered a fumble.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

ROSTER MOVES, PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
On Saturday, the Giants activated CB Fabian Moreau and S Tony Jefferson from the Practice Squad to the 53-man roster.

Inactive for the game were WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee), OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee), OLB Azeez Ojulari (calf), CB Aaron Robinson (appendicitis), CB Nick McCloud (hamstring), S Jason Pinnock (shoulder), and OL Tyre Phillips.

DL Leonard Williams (knee) left in the second half and did not return. Williams had a brace on his right knee after the game. Head Coach Brian Daboll said the team did not know how severe the injury was after the game.

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

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

Sep 162022
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (September 11, 2022)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

THE STORYLINE:
Last week, I finished my game preview by writing:

The Titans were the AFC’s #1 seed in 2021 and came close to making it to the AFC Championship Game. But I would not be shocked if the Giants keep this close or even pull off a big upset. They just have to do the obvious things: stop the run and don’t make killer mistakes on offense. Two or three big offensive plays could be all New York needs to make this interesting. On the flip side, it is not the end of the world if the Giants lose this game. This is one of Giants’ toughest opponents on their entire schedule. The pressure is on Titans and not the Giants in this one. I like those kind of games.

Despite the rough first half, the New York Giants’ defense did keep the team in the game before the break. And the offense got the two big plays it needed – the 68-yard run by Saquon Barkley and the 65-yard touchdown catch by Sterling Shepard. The Giants kept Derrick Henry mostly in check and shockingly out-rushed the Titans 238 to 93. The Giants did something they haven’t done in years: they were as physical or more physical than one of the NFL’s most physical teams. That’s how you win football games.

In some ways, this week’s match-up is going to be tougher for Brian Daboll and the Giants. The pressure is now on the Giants. They are at home against a team many expect them to beat. And one upset win doesn’t change the reality that this is still a rebuilding ball club whose quarterback, running back, and top wideouts may not even be on the team in a few months. The question mark at corner got worse in the short-term with Aaron Robinson having to undergo an appendectomy. There is also the always problematic psychological component that the team coming off a big, emotional win is ripe for a letdown the following week. This is especially true of teams with as many issues the Giants have.

Fans are already talking about going 3-1 or 4-0. Pray the players don’t have that same mindset right now. Every game is going to be a war and if the Giants are not mentally and physically prepared to play their best, they can just as easily find themselves being 1-1 en route to 1-3.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee – out)
  • WR Kadarius Toney (hamstring – questionable)
  • OC Jon Feliciano (lower leg – probable)
  • OL Devery Hamilton (illness – probable)
  • OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee – doubtful)
  • OLB Azeez Ojulari (calf – doubtful)
  • CB Aaron Robinson (appendicitis – out)
  • CB Nick McCloud (hamstring – out)
  • S Jason Pinnock (shoulder – out)
  • S Dane Belton (clavicle – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
One game does not make a trend so it’s unwise for me to jump to conclusions. However, it is extremely fascinating that Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka, two coaches coming from innovative, pass-happy offenses in Buffalo and Kansas City, chose a 32-to-26 run-to-pass ratio against the Titans, especially when you take into the account the Giants had to play from behind most of the game. Indeed, on the Giants’ game-winning drive, the Giants only threw the football three times in 12 plays (a 3-to-1 run-to-pass ratio).

What do we make of this? Lack of confidence in Daniel Jones and/or his receivers and/or his pass protection? After all, despite being 17-of-21, Jones threw a dumb interception in the red zone and fumbled the ball away. The diminutive Wan’Dale Robinson is already hurt. Kadarius Toney played seven snaps and wasn’t even used as a receiving target. Mr. $72 million Kenny Golladay had two catches for 22 yards and still doesn’t have a touchdown in a Giants’ uniform. And the revamped offensive line allowed five sacks in 26 drop backs (a sack every five passing plays). Or was it simply the coaches deciding to ride a hot hand in Saquon Barkley against a defense that was surprisingly easier to run against than expected? Much of this remains to be determined.

Nevertheless, right now, the strength of this offensive football team appears to be running the football. Having Evan Neal, Mark Glowinksi, Jon Feliciano, Joshua Ezeudu/Ben Bredeson, and Andrew Thomas run block more is probably better at this stage. While many media types and fans focused on Saquon Barkley’s speed last Sunday, it was his toughness that caught my eye. I’ve never seen Barkley run with such physicality, even during his stellar rookie season. Matt Breida was no slouch when coming into the game in relief either. Combine this with the fact that the Carolina Panthers allowed 217 rushing yards against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1.

Here is the dilemma. Carolina must come into this game defensively with one thing on their mind: stop Saquon Barkley. They are going to load up against the run. Do the Giants say screw it and play strength against strength? Or do they cross up the Panthers and come out throwing the football against a stacked front? Mike Kafka was asked this question. He responded, “I think you plan for it. I don’t know exactly what they are going to do. I think you plan for those things and you got to have answers within the scheme and within the game plan.”

I’d be tempted to cross them up, but I really do think the ground game is the strength of this team at the moment and I would see if the Panthers can handle the newly-discovered physicality of the Giants. Run the ball at them. Make them stop it. If they can, adjust and attack with the pass. But don’t concede anything. Nothing demoralizes a defense more than knowing the other team is going to run the ball, yet you still can’t stop it.

As for the Panthers’ defense, the team had issues defending the edges against the run. The interior defensive line is a little more stout with former 2020 #1 pick Derrick Brown and ex-49er Matt Ioannidis. Their headline pass rusher is Brian Burns, who will play both edge spots, and he could be a problem for Evan Neal. The Panthers lack the complementary second edge rusher however. Still, the Panthers have noticed the Giants pass protection issues at left guard, especially with Ezeudu, and Brown is coming off a game where he got good interior pass pressure. The Carolina linebackers are not very good and could be exposed both against the run and in coverage. When the Giants do pass the ball, I would expect Barkley and Breida to get touches as receivers.

The strength of the Panthers’ defense is probably their secondary. Donte Jackson, Jaycee Horn, and C.J. Henderson are a solid cornerback trio, although Horn is coming off a shaky performance. Jeremy Chinn is a tackling machine at safety. The Panthers use him in a variety of ways, including as a blitzer. I would not be shocked if Carolina has Chinn shadow Barkley for much of the game.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
I told you guys, Wink Martindale knows how to defend the run and while not perfect, the defense largely kept Derrick Henry in check in Week 1. With the Titans lacking a quality quarterback and talent at wide receiver, the New York secondary didn’t have many issues until late in the game against Tennessee either when slot corner Darnay Holmes had a mini-meltdown. The primary issue up until that point was linebacker coverage against running back Dontrell Hilliard. With Giants’ pass rush sitting injured on the sidelines, it ended up being a good match-up for New York.

This week is different. Baker Mayfield is more unpredictable. He can look terrible or he can look great (see his horrible first half against the Browns compared to his very good second half). The Panthers have serious downfield receiving threats in D.J. Moore and Robbie Anderson. Moore is the more consistently productive target (perennial 1,000-yard receiver), but Anderson can blow the top off a defense. The issue here for New York is Aaron Robinson, who would have faced his first real test after a rough preseason, isn’t even available for this game. The Giants will probably want Adoree’ Jackson to cover Moore, but who covers the deep threat Anderson? Wink may be forced to rely on journeyman – and current Practice Squader – Fabian Moreau.

Making matters worse is the presence of Christian McCaffrey. He’s Carolina’s version of Saquon. He is a major receiving threat and has to be licking his chops after seeing what Dontrell Hilliard did last Sunday. I would expect Wink to try to match up a third safety on McCaffrey as much as possible. Indeed, for much of the game, the Giants may only be employing one middle linebacker with Tony Jefferson and/or Dane Belton receiving more snaps.

If that weren’t enough problems, this is a game where the lack of pass rush could really show up. Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari are expected to miss their second game. Those two are the team’s best edge rushers and they will be missed.

So in a nutshell, defensively, this game scares me a lot more than last week’s game even though the Titans were clearly the better team. The match-ups don’t work in the Giants’ favor this week. If I’m Wink, I play extra defensive backs and put the onus on my defensive front to take care of the run (Carolina only ran the ball 19 times for 54 yards against the Browns). I’m not sure where the pass rush will come from unless Leonard Williams has a monster game. The Giants desperately need a relatively healthy Thibodeaux and Ojulari back on the field. Taking chances with a lot of blitzes might not be wise with the WR versus CB match-up issues, not to mention McCaffrey. Nevertheless, if Wink plays extra defensive backs, look for CB/S blitzes. (Interesting side note: Ben McAdoo is the Carolina offensive coordinator so you know he will bring a little extra juice to this one).

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
The Giants’ special teams remain a bit of an adventure. There was botched snap from the usually always reliable Casey Kreiter and a 46-yard punt return by the Titans. However, while not perfect, Jamie Gillan looked like he belonged; Nick McCloud really flashed as a gunner (he’s out this weekend however); and Richie James averaged over 12 yards per punt return. The Giants also recovered a muffed punt.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka on why the Giants use so much motion:I think any time you can distort the box whether it’s creating a numbers count… getting guys in different spots, influencing second-level and third-level defenders – that helps whether it’s pass or run, it can help whatever the scheme you want to run. I think it helps also with the o-line getting certain angles on blocks. I think it can help in the pass game where you are creating certain types of leverages. There’s definitely a lot of benefits to it.

THE FINAL WORD:
I stand by what I said last week. They goal of this season is to evaluate the team and look like a better team in December than you do in September. What happens in between will likely be a roller coaster ride. There will be painful losses and hopefully exhilarating wins. But don’t lose sight of reality. The Giants are a rebuilding club with weaknesses. This is a week where the weaknesses at cornerback and injury issues at linebacker (Thibodeaux, Ojulari, Darrian Beavers) would really become more pronounced. The Giants also need Golladay and Toney to earn their paychecks.

Oct 262021
 
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Leonard Williams, New York Giants (October 24, 2021)

Leonard Williams – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

After a 3-0 start to the 2021 season, the visiting Carolina Panthers came to East Rutherford with their own injury woes. They, too, were missing the focal point of their offense from the backfield, Christian McCaffrey. They, too, were missing their left tackle in Cameron Erving. And they, too, were missing their star linebacker in Shaq Thompson. Head Coach Matt Rhule, who was nearly the Head Coach of the Giants before CAR swooped in with a long-term offer, had convinced many around the league that the franchise was on the upswing. However, three straight losses that included eight offensive turnovers brought them back down to .500 despite a defense that ranked top-10 in the league.

Sam Darnold, the #3 overall pick from the 2018 NFL Draft, one slot after Saquon Barkley, was back at MetLife Stadium in a different uniform after three nightmarish seasons with the Jets. His performances were worsening each week leading up to this Week 7 matchup. With a wide receiver corps that ranked 2nd in the league with the most drops and key injuries up front and in the backfield, this appeared to be a nice opportunity for NYG to right the ship defensively.

CAR’s opening drive netted 3 points via a 47-yard field goal. The CAR offense went run-heavy, converting a 4th-and-1 from their own 36-yard line. Chuba Hubbard and Royce Freeman combined for 33 of CAR’s 46 yards. These 3 points would be the final of the day for CAR. NYG made it to mid-field before punting it back to CAR. After forcing a 3-and-out on CAR, NYG had the ball back and began with the ball in CAR territory due to a poor punt.

It took just 2 plays to reach the red zone, and another 3 plays to get inside the CAR 5-yard line. The worst-ranked red zone offense in the league had a prime opportunity, 1st-and-goal from the 2-yard line, to start reversing their fortunes in this area. A touchdown was called back because tight end Kyle Rudolph stepped out of bounds a couple feet shy of the end zone. NYG then failed on three straight attempts to put points on the board, turning the ball over on downs. The team was showered with boos while both Jason Garrett and Joe Judge were left looking dumbfounded that 2 runs up the gut and a passing play where one, yes one, target was sent to run a route did not pan out.

Because of the poor field position and the NYG defense being able to get pressure on Darnold, who tends to “see ghosts” when dropping back, the first NYG points of the day came from a safety. Leonard Williams applied pressure and Darnold was flagged for intentional grounding on a throw from the end zone. NYG was getting the ball back, down 3-2.

After a 27-yard gain on a pass to Dante Pettis and a 9-yard run by Jones, the Giants were back in field goal position. Graham Gano gave NYG the lead with a 49-yard boot through the uprights. CAR and NYG traded scoreless possessions and the back half of the 2nd quarter, a time period where NYG has failed miserably every game this season, was upon them. CAR did drive down the field with 66 yards on 7 plays before NYG finally put their foot on the opposing offense’s breaks. A tackle for loss by Azeez Ojulari, an incomplete pass by Darnold, and then an interception by James Bradberry wiped away the possibility of CAR getting the lead back.

NYG breached midfield yet again, but an intentional grounding penalty on Jones pushed them back and they ended up punting. CAR remained overmatched when they had the ball, Darnold was limping around, and even though NYG’s lead was only 2 points, they clearly had an edge as halftime arrived and began the third quarter with the ball.

The score remained at 5-3 for nearly the entire 3rd quarter. Neither offense could find a flow, as there was just one combined first down gained by both teams over the first 4 possessions. The third time NYG had the ball, they used an 11-play drive to travel 75 yards right into the end zone. Jones hit Pettis on a 5-yard pass just a few snaps after Pettis completed a 16-yard pass to Jones on a trick play. NYG’s creativity paid off and it resulted in 7 points, making it a 12-3 lead.

CAR went 3-and-out yet again as the fourth quarter began, and that was the last time we saw Darnold under center. NYG added 3 more points via a 53-yard field goal by Gano as the former Panthers kicker remained as automatic as you will find in today’s NFL. Phillip Walker was the new quarterback for CAR. The former Temple signal caller who was recruited and coached by Rhule in college had his first completion nullified by a holding penalty. CAR ended up punting once again.

NYG put together an inch-by-inch dive, netting just 32 yards on 10 plays but it was enough for another Gano field goal attempt, this one from 44 yards. He nailed that one as well and NYG had an 18-3 lead. Walker and the Panthers went 4-and-out on the ensuing drive, giving NYG the ball back on the CAR 19-yard line. Devontae Booker needed just one carry to put the final 6 points on the board with a 19-yard touchdown run. NYG was up 25-3.

CAR did end up getting into NYG territory on the next drive as the secondary softened, allowing multiple short passes to be completed. That drive ended in another turnover on downs as the NYG pass rush, led by Ojulari, heated up at the right time. NYG gained a first down on their final drive, opening the window to bleed out the clock.

NYG wins 25-3.

QUARTERBACK

-Daniel Jones: 23/33 – 203 yards / 1 TD / 0 INT / 95.9 RAT

Jones also added 28 yards on 8 carries and caught a pass for 16 yards. So, 247 total yards with a score. Jones responded very well coming off last week’s debacle against the Rams. This is now the 5th game out of 7 (including vs DAL where he only played a half) where Jones finished with a QB rating over 90. He protected the ball, went through his reads well, and made some tough plays with his legs. Jones was without 3 of his top 4 receivers, his top running back, and multiple starting offensive linemen. Only Dante Pettis was getting plus-separation all afternoon, yet he still completed nearly 70% of his passes. Really solid effort full of good decisions in a tough situation.

RUNNING BACK

-Devontae Booker: 14 att – 51 yards – 1 TD / 2 rec – 15 yards

Booker showed a nice mix of innovation after the catch and in space with the ball. He won’t ever be mistaken for Barkley when it comes to tools and athletic ability, but he is a solid presence who makes very few mistakes. He did drop one pass and allowed 1 pressure, but he played well overall.

-Shout out to Elijhaa Penny. He carried the ball 9 times for 24 yards, getting the ball in numerous short-yardage situations. His success rate there is solid, and I still think he is the team’s best option near the goal line and when just a yard or two are needed.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Darius Slayton returned from missing 3+ games with an injury. He led the team with 9 targets and 63 yards. He did a poor job of tracking a deep ball up the sideline but was missed for a sure-thing touchdown by Jones as a result of pressure in his face. Jones has a level of comfort throwing the ball to Slayton and they did connect 5 times, but none resulted in more than 16 yards. If they plan on making noise in KC next week, these two need to connect downfield.

-Dante Pettis caught all 5 targets, most of which were short passes, one of which was a touchdown. Pettis had a 27-yard gain after a quick slant that eventually led to 3 points for NYG. He is the one receiver outside of the injured three who moves exceptionally well both downfield AND in short areas. He doesn’t have the speed of John Ross, but he does get off the line faster and shows better burst out of his breaks. I think Jones is going to start looking his way more often if the trio of Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, and Kadarius Toney remain out.

-David Sills got his first regular season game-action and dropped his only target. I’ve been waiting to see him in this situation for a couple years now and that one fail, like a young running back fumbling, is such a killer.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram caught 6 passes for 44 yards. Five of them totaled 26 yards total. They aren’t giving him many downfield looks, just a bunch of dump offs and screen-type passes. That is the one area I thought Engram could make a difference in this league when he initially came out of Ole Miss. His athletic ability, which is still there, just doesn’t get used much in this kind of role. He also allowed a TFL in the running game.

-Kyle Rudolph seems to be finding a niche in the offense. While his best days are clearly behind him and there are movement issues that center around a loss of athleticism, he can be the dump-off target and extra blocker when needed. He caught 2 passes and was mere inches away from a touchdown. He allowed a pressure as a blocker as well, although he was left on an island against CAR star pass rusher Brian Burns.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-With Andrew Thomas out, Matt Peart got the start at left tackle. It was a smart move to put him there rather than Solder. Obviously, Peart is a step down from Thomas but the gap is much greater between Thomas and Solder. Remember, Peart did play some left tackle in college but he primarily resided on the right side. His experience level on the left is very small and with that in mind, I thought he played a solid game. He was better in pass protection than in the run game, where he allowed 2 TFL. Solder also allowed 2 TFL and 2 pressures. They were both flagged for illegally moving downfield on passing plays.

-Will Hernandez graded out as the worst of the bunch. For me, personally, the writing is on the wall, and it gets bolder each week. He is not the answer at guard. He was never even above average, but he appears to have gotten even worse. His lower half is a mess, he can’t recognize anything when it comes to stunts and twists, and his reaction times rival what I see in draft prospects who end up with late round grades. He allowed 2 sacks, 1 TFL, and 1 pressure. He was also flagged for a false start.

-Billy Price allowed 2 pressures and Matt Skura allowed one. They were both, surprisingly, excellent in the running game. Price especially got really solid movement off of the ball, but was beat on one of the goal line stands CAR had early in the game. Solid game for these two.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-As a group, this was the best we’ve seen the DL this season. The outside linebackers (next group) were a part of it, but I’ll also note that the linemen made things much easier for the linebackers. In this defense, that is their main role and, in this game, they did it well.

-Leonard Willams was the highlight of the group, finishing with 6 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 3 pressures. He turned it up a notch in the second half and fought through double teams exceptionally well. To beat the double team is one thing, but to beat the double team while the outside rusher is also able to beat a lone blocker is what makes a front very disruptive. Williams is second in the NFL in tackles by interior DL and 5th in the NFL among interior DL in QB hits.

-Austin Johnson deserves credit. This guy has been playing his butt off and seems to be producing more and more as the season progresses. He had 3 tackles, 3 pressures, and 1 TFL. He did a lot of damage in the first half.

-Dexter Lawrence also stepped it up notably in the second half. He had 3 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 pressures. His ability to push the pocket, shrinking the area in which a QB can step up into when there is pressure from the outside was a huge factor in both CAR quarterbacks struggle with their foot work.

-We also saw some action for David Moa (7 snaps) and Raymond Johnson III (11 snaps). Neither made a big impact but I liked how well they were using their hands. They had that young, aggressive twitch that altered blockers and their plans.

LINEBACKER

-Azeez Ojulari has made a habit out of making one play in a game and disappearing for the rest. Well, that is now a thing of the past. This was the best edge performance we have seen from this team in years. He finished with 2.5 sacks, 5 tackles, 1 TFL, and 4 pressures. He was up against CAR rookie left tackle Brady Christensen, making his second career start. He also saw some action against Taylor Moton, one of the best right tackles in the game. His movement was top notch both off of the snap and post-engagement. He was playing low, taking tight turns, and anticipated the action well.

-Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines both flashed, but it was Quincy Roche who raised some eyebrows. The rookie 6th-round pick who was cut by PIT had seen 16 total defensive snaps prior to this game but saw that increased to 23 total in this one. He had 3 tackles, 1 of which for a loss. Carter was on the field for 42% of the snaps, the lowest since his rookie season besides the game he was injured in last year at Dallas. Something to keep an eye on.

-Inside, Tae Crowder again led the team with 6 tackles and added a pressure. The spot next to him is interesting. Benardrick McKinney, who was signed last week, had 2 tackles and a TFL. He made a physical, explosive hit up the middle that got the fans on their feet. Reggie Ragland saw more snaps but finished with one tackle and continued to struggle with all lateral movement. Neither can factor much in coverage, but McKinney (a 2015 2nd-rounder and 2018 Pro Bowler) has more talent by a landslide. If he can learn the scheme, he could easily start seeing more snaps than Ragland.

CORNERBACK

-James Bradberry wasn’t tested much in this one and still came up with the top defensive play of the afternoon. His interception was a dagger in CAR’s growing momentum. He avoided a disaster by recovering his own fumble on the play.

-Adoree’ Jackson was excellent in coverage from the All-22 point of view. He also made a physical tackle on tight end Tommy Tremble. Darnay Holmes remains in the nickel role and finished with 2 tackles and did a nice job underneath with sticky coverage. Is his job in jeopardy with rookie Aaron Robinson on the brink of returning?

SAFETY

-Logan Ryan had 4 tackles and 2 PDs, but also missed 3 tackles, one of which on 3rd down. Ryan is a staple here and won’t be part of the problem if the defense goes backwards again. That said, he leads the team in missed tackles and needs to be better there. It is a potential killer, especially from that position.

-Jabrill Peppers, a sore spot on this defense for a couple years now had a very active game on defense. He had 5 tackles and a sack on a play where he is one of just a few players in this league who could have finished it the way he did. Keep this guy in the box, keep him rushing the passer, or keep him on the sideline. He can be an asset in a limited role, but he cannot cover.

-Xavier McKinney had 5 tackles and a PD. We wanted to see him take a step up this season so that spot could be considered filled for the next couple of years. His best football has been on display over the past few weeks.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 3/3 (Made 49, 53, 44). He now has 10 field goals of 50+ yards since joining NYG.

-P Riley Dixon: 5 punts / 45.8 avg / 39.0 avg

3 STUDS

-OLB Azeez Ojulari, DT Leonard Williams, WR Dante Pettis

3 DUDS

-OG Will Hernandez, OT Nate Solder, S Logan Ryan

3 THOUGHTS ON CAR

(1) Back in 2018, almost everyone had Darnold as the top quarterback in the class. I never saw it. No, I’m not patting myself on the back at all (I had Josh Rosen as QB1). I go back and examine my hits and misses every offseason to try and figure out where I went wrong and what I can do to improve my own scouting. Darnold turned the ball over a lot in college. His footwork was horrific. And he made his receivers work too hard on routine passes. A lot of these traits show up in the NFL when college quarterbacks enter the league and that is exactly what happened here. Highlight reel throws are cool, but they don’t determine the quality of a QB. Play to play, he was really off at USC, but the occasional big game and cool-looking throws elevated his status way too much.

(2) Can CAR graduate from the middle tier this season? I don’t think so. Easy for me to say after 4 straight losses, right? Plain and simple, the offense won’t score enough points with their OL + QB combination. I questioned CAR at the time of the draft when they passed on both Justin Fields and Mac Jones for a cornerback. The year prior, they spent every one of their picks on the defensive side. This team is heading toward the difficult spot of being good enough to win 7-8 games but too good to pick high enough in the draft for a top-notch prospect. While you can find QBs later than the top 5 obviously, it was an issue that could have been solved a few months ago.

(3) There was one free agent I wanted NYG to pursue hard this past offseason. It was Haason Reddick. He is a hard-to-find BUCK linebacker, one who can rightfully pass as an inside (off-ball) threat as well as a credible edge defender. CAR got him for just one year and it was hard to see that while NYG gave CB Adoree’ Jackson a much bigger deal. Reddick has 6.5 sacks and 9 QB hits in a year after his set career high marks across the board.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

(1) If NYG wants to make a statement, if they want to play a game that will change the outlook of this team both inside and outside their walls, it is here. Monday night in Kansas City against a struggling Chiefs team that just can’t seem to get their defense on track. A win here can make many, if not all, forget about the bad losses they have already suffered. They need to be ready for this one as if it were a playoff game. They have nothing to lose and that is often a dangerous team to be matched up against.

(2) See what kind of difference a solid defensive front makes? Pressure up the middle from Austin Johnson, Dexter Lawrence, and Leonard Williams with Azeez Ojulari creating havoc from the outside turns the opposing quarterback into a shell of himself. We saw it with a mediocre quarterback, and we have seen it with Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. The focus in this front office needs to start with adding more and more pass rushers to their front. No more misses, no more “waiting until the middle rounds,” no more fear in spending in free agency. Get this front back to where it was a decade ago.

(3) NYG has used 6 different starting offensive line combinations over 7 games. The injuries are the main culprit here, but it goes to show just how vital depth along the trenches can be. When looking to improve this team moving forward, it needs to start right here. Solder and Hernandez need to be out, that is the first step. Now you are looking for at least 1 new starter (assuming Peart gets a shot in 2022) and the Lemieux – Gates duo returns 100% from their injuries. That is a lot of turnover needed along the line. The attention needs to be put here more than most are thinking because you must plan on at least 1 injury, but probably 2. Every year a lack of depth along the line ruins good teams.

Oct 242021
 
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Tae Crowder, Azeez Ojulari, and Dexter Lawrence; New York Giants (October 24, 2021)

Tae Crowder, Azeez Ojulari, and Dexter Lawrence – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 25 – CAROLINA PANTHERS 3…
The New York Giants soundly defeated the Carolina Panthers 25-3 on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With the win, the Giants improved their overall record to 2-5.

Statistically, the Giants dominated the game. New York out-gained Carolina in first downs (21 to 11), total net yards (302 to 173), net yards rushing (103 to 56), net yards passing (199 to 117), and time of possession (34:35 to 25.25).

The story of the game was the Giants’ defense that held the Panthers to just 11 first downs and 173 yards. Carolina scored their only points of the game (a field goal) on their opening possession, a 13-play, 46-yard drive. The Panthers’ other 11 possessions resulted in seven punts, a safety, an interception, and two turnovers on downs.

Missing key component parts at running back, wide receiver, and on the offensive line, it was not pretty for New York’s offense for much of the game either. The Giants gained two first downs on their opening possession but were then forced to punt. New York started their second possession at the Carolina 41-yard line. Five plays later, the Giants had a 1st-and-goal from the 2-yard line. But in four attempts (two passing and two running), the Giants could not punch the ball in, leading to a turnover on downs. The Panthers still led 3-0.

Momentum began to shift on Carolina’s third possession. On 3rd-and-9 from their own 3-yard line, quarterback Sam Darnold was pressured by defensive lineman Leonard Williams, causing Darnold to throw the ball away and be flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone. The penalty resulted in a safety and the Giants now trailed 3-2.

The Giants received the ball back on the free kick. Despite only gaining 32 yards on six plays, it was good enough to set up place kicker Graham Gano to successfully kick a 49-yard field goal. Giants 5 – Panthers 3.

Neither team would score for the remainder of the half. The Panthers punted two more times and Darnold was also picked off at the New York 5-yard line, ending Carolina’s longest drive of the game (nine plays and 52 yards). The Giants also punted twice.

The game remained 5-3 for much of the 3rd quarter as both the Giants and Panthers punted twice to start the second half. However, on New York’s third possession after intermission, quarterback Daniel Jones led the Giants on an 11-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Dante Pettis on 3rd-an-3. This drive was highlighted by a one-handed, 16-yard catch by Jones on a gadget-play throw by Pettis. The Giants now led 12-3 as the quarter ended.

The Panthers went three-and-out and the Giants added three more points on the ensuing possession. Despite only gaining 16 yards on six plays, ex-Panther Gano nailed a 53-yard field goal to give the Giants a 15-3 advantage with less than 13 minutes to play.

After another three-and-out by Carolina, New York moved the ball just 32 yards in 10 plays, but again, Gano came through with a 44-yarder. Giants 18 – Carolina 3 with just under six minutes left to play.

New York’s final points came after a 4-play, turnover-on-downs by the Panthers at their own 19-yard line. On the very next snap, running back Devontae Booker broke off a 19-yard touchdown run, giving the Giants a comfortable 25-3 advantage with less than five minutes in the game. The Panthers reached the New York 29-yard line on their final possession, but again turned the ball over on downs. The Giants then ran out the clock.

Jones finished the game 23-of-33 for 203 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. He caught one pass for 16 yards and also ran the ball eight times for 28 yards. Jones’ leading targets were tight end Evan Engram (6 catches for 44 yards), wide receiver Darius Slayton (5 catches for 63 yards), and Pettis (5 catches for 39 yards and a touchdown). Booker carried the ball 14 times for 51 yards and a touchdown.

Defensive linemen Leonard Williams was credited with 6 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3 quarterback hits, and caused a safety. Linebacker Azeez Ojulari had 5 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4 quarterback hits, and 3 tackles for losses. Defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence and safety Jabrill Peppers each had sacks as the team garnered six sacks overall. Bradberry had the lone turnover (an interception) for either team.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

ROSTER MOVES, PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
On Saturday, the Giants signed WR David Sills to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad.

The Giants also elevated DL David Moa and LB Benardrick McKinney to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad.

Inactive for the game were RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), WR Kenny Golladay (knee), WR Sterling Shepard (hamstring), WR Kadarius Toney (ankle), NT Danny Shelton (pectoral), CB Sam Beal (hamstring), and CB Josh Jackson.

LB Lorenzo Carter (ankle), S Jabrill Peppers, and LT Matt Peart (finger) all suffered injuries in the game. Peart returned to play.

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

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

Oct 222021
 
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Dave Gettleman and John Mara, New York Giants (August 22, 2021)

Dave Gettleman and John Mara – © USA TODAY Sports

THE STORYLINE:
Stating the obvious, the New York Football Giants are well on their way to their 8th losing season in the last nine years, and possibly matching the futility of the 2017 (3-13) and 2019 (4-12) seasons. Those two campaigns cost Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur their jobs, respectively, after just their second seasons. Joe Judge now potentially finds himself in the same boat.

As I mentioned in last week’s game preview, it’s hard to see the team winning a game before Thanksgiving. That said, while the Carolina Panthers are a much improved team, they are still a .500 club. If the Giants were not in the midst of a 1-5 tailspin and encumbered with significant injury issues at running back, wide receiver, tight end, and the offensive line, they normally would have a decent shot at the upset here. Possibly they will still surprise us. But to do so, the inexplicably bad defense would have to dramatically change course  and perform at the level expected of it entering this season. That doesn’t seem likely.

What the hell is happening to this once-proud franchise?

Let’s take a few steps back and revisit the recent past.

In January 2016, John Mara decided that problem with this franchise was not Jerry Reese and Marc Ross, but Tom Coughlin. Mara fired Coughlin and quickly promoted Ben McAdoo from offensive coordinator to head coach when he falsely was led to believe that the Philadelphia Eagles were about to pilfer him from New York. The aging Tom Coughlin was coming off his third consecutive 3rd-place finish in the NFC East, with a number of questionable in-game decisions in 2015. Nevertheless, in hindsight, New York never really recovered from the loss of stability that Coughlin brought to the team. One thing is clear, Mara erroneously came to the conclusion that Coughlin was the primary problem, and not those “buying the groceries” as Bill Parcells so fondly used to call it. The other head coaching candidates Mara interviewed included Steve Spagnuolo, Teryl Austin, Adam Gase, Doug Marrone, and Mike Smith.

In early December 2017, after a 2-10 start, Mara fired Reese and McAdoo with four games left play. At the the time, the removal of a general manager and the firing of head coach in-season was not something expected of the staid New York Giants franchise. Fans applauded the dramatic moves, believing that Mara had finally come to the conclusion that the organization had become too stagnate in its old ways. However, those hopes quickly evaporated when it was revealed that Ernie Accorsi had been hired as a consultant for the new general manager search. Dave Gettleman, who had worked under Accorsi from 1999-2012, was on the market as he had been fired as general manager of the Carolina Panthers in July. When Accorsi stepped down as New York’s general manager after the 2006 season, he had recommended to Mara that the team promote Reese to general manager. Gettleman was his second choice. Most Giants fans realized that as soon as Accorsi was picked as consultant, it was merely to rubber stamp Gettleman as the team’s new general manager. Three weeks after Reese was let go, Gettleman was hired before the 2017 regular-season was even over. It’s doubtful that anyone else was seriously considered. One of Gettleman’s first moves was to fire Ross. Mara and Gettleman then hired Shurmur as the new head coach in January 2018. The other candidates considered were Matt Patricia, Josh McDaniels, Steve Spagnuolo, Steve Wilks, and Eric Studesville.

Shurmur won just nine games over the course of the next two seasons. With the team clearly not improving, Mara chose to retain the almost 70-year old Gettleman and fire Shurmur. It seemed like an odd decision at the time. Gettleman was past retirement age, his first head coaching hire as New York GM had failed miserably, and his free agency/draft player acquisition had not improved the team. Most importantly and damning, Mara decided Gettleman was going to be intimately involved in hiring a head coach who potentially would have to work with a new general manager in the not-so-distant future who did not hire him. It was an odd decision to say the least.

In January 2020, Mara and Gettleman hired 38-year old special teams coordinator Joe Judge as the franchise’s next head coach. It was a surprise move given that Judge had never served as head coach at any level. The other candidates at the time where Matt Rhule, Kris Richard, Mike McCarthy, Eric Bieniemy, Don “Wink” Martindale, and Josh McDaniels. Originally, Rhule was believed to be New York’s #1 choice. “We weren’t going with a seven-year deal with anybody,” said Mara about Rhule, who received a 7-year contract from the Panthers. “But more importantly, we had somebody we were excited about. So, we went ahead and made Joe the coach.” One wonders what may be floating around Mara’s head if Rhule’s team beats the crap out of New York on Sunday.

What’s the point of revisiting all of this painful history? In a nutshell, it is to strongly indicate that John Mara is terrible at making strategic decisions that affect the fate the team that he owns. Indeed, one has to ask what has Mara done right? His supporters may point to 2007 and 2011, but the foundation of that team was largely established outside of his control. It’s pretty clear that he was motivated to re-establish something similar to the Ernie Accorsi management team, that included Jerry Reese and Dave Gettleman, in order to replicate the environment that produced two NFL Championships. That attempt failed miserably.

In Mara’s head, Coughlin was the problem, not Reese/Ross. But then they were fired along with the new head coach. Accorsi rubber stamps the post-retirement age GM who was the runner-up to Reese in 2006. Two years later, his head coach is fired. Instead of cleaning house, Gettleman helps to select the new head coach. The team is arguably the worst in the NFL. Nothing has improved. It’s also important to note that head coaching candidates selected to be interviewed in 2016, 2018, and 2020 were far from impressive. One looks around with envy at some of the other head coaches who were hired during the same time period.

Which brings us to December 2021 and January 2022. Mara will be making the decisions again. And that is not comforting. The expectation is that Gettleman will finally be fired. Does Mara, who must be painfully aware of the biennial instability, force Judge on the new GM? Does he stick with Gettlemen’s groomed replacement, Kevin Abrams, who would be more likely to accept retaining Judge? Does the Tisch family just sit back and continue to watch this incompetence from the sideline?

All in all, it’s astounding to see how far this team has fallen in a decade. And there is no end in sight.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Saquon Barkley (ankle – out)
  • WR Kenny Golladay (knee – out)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (hamstring – questionable)
  • WR Kadarius Toney (ankle – out)
  • WR Darius Slayton (hamstring – questionable)
  • WR John Ross (hamstring – questionable)
  • TE Evan Engram (calf – questionable)
  • TE Kaden Smith (knee – probable)
  • OG Ben Bredeson (hand – probable)
  • NT Danny Shelton (pectoral – doubtful)
  • CB Sam Beal (hamstring – probable)

THE FINAL WORD:
“The fish stinks from the head down.” – Joe Judge, October 21, 2021

Not exactly what you want to hear from your favorite sports team.

Oct 092018
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (October 7, 2018)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers 33 – New York Giants 31

QUICK RECAP

Coming off a bye week, the 2-1 Panthers played host to the 1-3 Giants. It was a sunny, hot and humid day to the point where it had an impact on several players towards the end of the game.

For the third straight week, NYG put points on the board first, this time via a 42-yard field goal by the so-far perfect Aldrick Rosas. That lead didn’t last long, however, as the Panthers took advantage of poor tackling on multiple occasions including a 25 yard wide receiver screen to Curtis Samuel where Alec Ogletree, Landon Collins, Janoris Jenkins, and BW Webb all had a shot at bringing down the second year pro but failed prior to him reaching pay dirt.

Manning and the offense put together a solid drive, marching back into CAR territory but were met with a 4th and 3 on the 39 yard line. Rather than trying a long field goal, Manning hit Beckham in the hands but the ball fell to the ground. Momentum started to shift and that hit the overdrive button when CAR later punted just to have Beckham make another mistake, letting the live ball hit him in the foot while he tried to take out a gunner to prevent him from downing the ball. After a failed attempt to pick up the ball by Janoris Jenkins, CAR recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. That put them up 14-3.

The Giants followed that with a 3 and out and CAR took their lead to 14 points via the first of four Graham Gano field goals. The NYG sideline looked quiet and dejected with the common “Here we go again” type feel that we have grown used to.

NYG pulled a trick out of the bag to get this team woken up. A double pass from Eli-to-Beckham-to-Barkley resulted in a 57 yard touchdown. We all know the amount of talent on this offense is more than it has ever been and to see the two young playmakers who will be here for years come out with a play like this shot energy into the entire team. Still down 7 points, it was at this point you knew NYG was going to fight back.

CAR and NYG traded field goals to end the half and the halftime score was 20-13. NYG forced a 3 and out and after a 13-play drive that included a big Barkley run, missed penalties by the refs, and a 4th and 1 conversion, Rosas kicked his third and final FG of the day through the uprights to get NYG within 4. The action then began to pick up.

Newton threw an interception on what appeared to be a wrong route by rookie TE Ian Thomas. The momentum was there for the taking but Manning gave it right back just 4 plays later, his first of two interceptions on the day. CAR took advantage of a horrific, ill-timed miscall by the refs on a 3rd down stop by the NYG defense. Landon Collins was called for a helmet-to-helmet personal foul on a play where he and Funchess were both clearly diving for the ball. CAR scored a touchdown via catch and run by Christian McCaffrey 4 plays later. The Giants secondary suffered a major miscommunication on this one. If NYG was going to make a move, they had to move fast at this point, as it was a 2 possession, 11 point game.

Manning then threw his second interception of the day and the wind was out of the sails. The game looked over. In typical Cam Newton fashion, the 8th year pro rushed himself into a pointless, poor throw right into the arms of Janoris Jenkins. He added 29 yards to the return and gave NYG a ray of hope once again.

Two plays later, Manning found Beckham for a 33-yard touchdown, which was followed by a successful 2 point conversion attempt, getting NYG within 3. CAR then took nearly 6 minutes off the clock via the Newton show. He was gaining valuable yards on the ground and hitting receivers in stride to get CAR within field goal range. CAR added 3 more points and left just 2:16 on the clock for NYG, who was out of timeouts.

Once again, Manning and the NYG offense didn’t need long to put the ball in the end zone. This time it took just 4 plays which was highlighted by a 40-yard downfield connection to Russell Shepard, immediately followed by a 15 yard dump off to Barkley who leapt 16+ feet in the air into the end zone.

NYG took a 1-point lead, their first lead since the 7:30 mark in the first quarter.

After a couple of chink plays by the CAR offense, the reffing controversy continued, as Christian McCaffrey was given a questionable first down on a 3rd and 1 rushing attempt. With the clock ticking down from 30 seconds and no timeouts left, the quick trigger first down gave Newton an opportunity to spike the ball. From the NYG 45 yard line, Gano lined up for a 63 yard field goal attempt. And for the second year in a row, NYG loses on a 60+ yard field goal in the closing seconds to lose the game.

Panthers win 33-31.

QUARTERBACKS

-Eli Manning: 22/36 – 326 yards – 2 TD / 2 INT. We saw the best 2018 version of Manning late in the game after his second interception of the day. Down 27-16 with just under 9 minutes left, it only took Manning 6 plays from scrimmage to lead this team to a 1-point lead with under 2 minutes left. It was the typical roller-coaster ride for him, as he made a couple of bonehead throws that resulted in turnovers (and 1 that was luckily batted away by Odell Beckham) just to see him come back late and nearly lead the team to another 4th quarter win via a clutch performance. There was more room in the pocket and he seemed to be a bit more comfortable moving within it. A solid game for the 15th year pro.

RUNNING BACKS

-Saquon Barkley: 15 att / 48 yards – 4 rec / 81 yards – 2 TD. For the fifth consecutive game to start off his career, Barkley totaled over 100 yards from scrimmage, just the 3rd time that has happened in NFL history. Barkley was getting misdirected at the point of attack several times thanks to the middle of the line getting beat off the ball consistently. He was, however, able to rattle off a couple of big runs via bouncing it to the outside. Barkley’s 2 touchdowns via the air just further exemplified his overall impact on the game. NYG fans shouldn’t take for granted how sure his hands are and what he is capable of doing after the catch. Barkley’s two biggest runs were a part of 2 separate scoring drives, respectively. When this kid makes a play, this team scores points. Plain and simple.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Odell Beckham: 8 rec / 131 yards – 1 TD. Beckham also threw a 57 yard touchdown pass to Barkley on a double pass. Watching those two change the scope of the game goes to show just how good things can happen here if the accessory components improve. Beckham did have a couple of big plays, but there were three negatives that have to be discussed as well. He had 2 drops in this one. First one was a 4th and 3 pass that would have resulted in a first down. The next was a 50/50 ball in the end zone that Odell had both hands around but had it knocked out on the way down by CAR corner James Bradberry. Some will say it wasn’t a drop, but when you have both hands on the ball as you come down to the ground, the best will hold on. Lastly, arguably the worst play of the day, was the result of Beckham being unaware of where a punt was coming down, as it hit his leg while he was trying to block a gunner from downing the ball, which rolled around and ended up resulting in a CAR touchdown. It’s an inexcusable mistake and it really cost the Giants.

-Sterling Shepard: 4 rec / 75 yards. NYG has to be happy with the 3rd year pro who is really coming into his own. He is proving to be more than a slot receiver who can get open underneath. Shepard is gaining separation from corners on all levels of the defense and a standout attribute to his game is how fast he explodes downfield after the catch. Best days are ahead for him.

-Russell Shepard saw a season-high 4 targets with 3 rec / 42 yards. It’s funny how this guy who isn’t blessed with noteworthy size or speed always seems to work his way into a healthy dose of targets no matter who he plays for. Manning looked his way in key moments, a good sign because it will make defenses stay away from zeroing in on Beckham and Barkley so much. Jawill Davis also added 2 catches for 27 yards, including a 22 yarder. It looks like these two may have passed Cody Latimer on the depth chart.

TIGHT ENDS

-Rhett Ellison played all but 1 snap in this one. He added 2 catches for 17 yards but also caught the key 2 point conversion on the first of two 4th quarter touchdowns to put them within a field goal. Ellison continues to be very up and down as a blocker. He allowed 2 TFL, as he seems to be struggling to block to his outside shoulder. In the same breath, he does a nice job blocking inside gaps.

-Scott Simonson continues to be an extra blocking presence and he is improving weekly. He offers little-to-nothing as a receiver.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

-Overall a solid game for both Nate Solder and Chad Wheeler. They didn’t have to deal with a lot of stunts and/or blitzes, which helped. Solder got turned around badly a few times, and it looks like he just got caught guessing wrong a few times. It’s a little alarming but he does a nice job in recovery mode, for what it’s worth. Wheeler allowed a TFL but held his own against Julius Peppers, who still has plenty left in the tank. Wheeler is still struggling against quickness to his inside shoulder, something to keep an eye on.

GUARDS/CENTER

-Rookie Will Hernandez continues to be the best of this trio. He may even grade out to be the top OL on this team by year’s end. He was fortunate on two occasions that the ball was out really quick on plays he got beat off the ball badly. He still has a tendency to rely too much on his reach/punch rather than move himself into proper position via footwork. That said, he is on a nice run right now. He allowed 1 pressure on the day.

-Center John Greco and right guard Patrick Omameh really struggled in this one. Greco allowed 2 pressures and was being pushed back all afternoon. It’s hard to run the ball inside when the point of attack is consistently being pushed back 1-2 yards. Omameh was getting beat off the ball as well, more so because he was slow. He was in recovery mode often, allowing 2 TFL.

EDGE

-Kareem Martin led the edge defenders in snaps played, yet he made the least amount of impact. That is a continuing trend for the for the 5th year pro who has never recorded 2 sacks in a season. Martin had a terrible offsides penalty on a CAR punt that led to CAR opting to go for it on 4th down and successfully converting. When we talk about a front seven that just doesn’t make anything happen, he is front and center.

-Kerry Wynn had another solid game. He had 2 tackles, 1 of which was for a loss, and a pressure. He was flagged for a horrendous roughing the QB penalty that I will not fault him for, as he literally pushed Newton’s chest right after he threw the ball.

-Lorenzo Carter played just under half of the team’s snaps. They tried to move him around more than normal, sending him on delayed inside blitzes and a couple QB-spy type roles. He finished with a TFL but failed to make an impact as a pass rusher. Even with a head of steam, his impact on blockers was minimal all afternoon, as there isn’t enough variety to his game. Connor Barwin had 2 tackles and a sack. I’ll say it again, this guy has been a very solid depth-addition for this front seven. His best days are behind him but there is plenty of juice left in those legs along with a relentless approach.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

-Dalvin Tomlinson and Damon Harrison both played just over half the team’s snaps. I think that may be a trend we see with Harrison especially. He finished with 4 tackles and 2 TFL, clearly outclassing one of the best OC’s in the game Ryan Khalil.

-Josh Mauro saw his first action as a Giant, as he returned from his 4 game suspension. He didn’t stand out but he adds another capable body against the run. He and Mario Edwards each had a tackle along with some under the radar space-eating that was valuable for the solid run defense.

-BJ Hill had a very up and down game. The Giants leading sack-artist had 5 tackles, making things happen at the point of attack. However he had 3 occasions where he was blown off the ball from the side, which led to solid CAR running gains.

LINEBACKERS

-Alec Ogletree had 6 tackles on the day in an otherwise nondescript performance. He was a key defender in stopping a Cam Newton QB sneak attempt. Ray-Ray Armstrong, the former safety who has been steadily taking snaps away from BJ Goodson, has struggled the past 2 weeks. Goodson got some snaps back but I thought Armstrong stepped it up a notch. He finished with 4 tackles and a TFL. Goodson added 4 tackles as well.

CORNERBACKS

-Eli Apple returned to action, only allowing a couple catches. His technique in and out of his backpedal, and the body control he shows after making his reads, have been outstanding. Sure would be nice to see him further his development into a quality cornerback. He did miss 1 tackle on the day.

-Janoris Jenkins continues to be an up and down corner, as are a lot of quality players at this position. He broke up a pass and intercepted another. What impresses me a lot about Jenkins is even though he lacks ideal size against a WR like CAR’s Devin Funchess, he can always play big. I noticed that about him at training camp in 2017 and it is a consistent positive attribute to his game.

-BW Webb continues to dominate the nickel snaps over Donte Deayon. He was flagged for a holding penalty which he strongly disagreed with and then bumped into the ref while arguing. That lack of self-control led to another 15 yard penalty. Thankfully Newton threw an interception soon after. While I hate to see stupid penalties like that, this team is showing more emotion that we’ve seen in recent years. Webb played spirited football after that penalty, including a pressure and a tackle for loss.

SAFETIES

-Landon Collins had another active game, leading the team with 8 tackles while adding a pass break up and a pressure. His pressure forced Newton into an early throw on the Jenkins interception. Once again, however, he was in the middle of a couple miscommunications in coverage. Hard to say who’s at fault, especially on the McCaffrey touchdown reception, but this is where leadership needs to take over. He also missed 2 tackles, a major no-no from safeties in my book.

-Curtis Riley did have an interception. You can call it “easy” if you want, but he was in the right place at the right time and this defense has been begging for someone to make a play for weeks. He did exactly that. His tackling remains an issue, however. He had 2 more misses.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 3/3 (Made 42, 53, 36). Rosas is still perfect on the year, a noteworthy fact to the season that could be a major part of this team turning things around. The 53 yarder is a new career-long. That said, Rosas booted a kickoff out of bounds in the 2nd quarter, setting up CAR in good field position on a drive that led to 3 points.

-P Curtis Riley: 2 punts / 49.5 avg / 51.0 net. Quiet day for Dixon and a rare day of a longer net average than punt average.

-PR Odell Beckham had the biggest bonehead play of the day, allowing a live ball to hit him in the foot which resulted in 7 points for CAR. He did add a 15 yard return later.

3 STUDS

-CB Janoris Jenkins, RB Saquon Barkley, OG Will Hernandez

3 DUDS

-OC John Greco, OG Patrick Omameh, EDGE Kareem Martin

3 THOUGHTS ON CAR

-It’s interesting to see how this CAR team develops, as current NYG General Manager Dave Gettleman laid the groundwork. A lot of attention has been put on the offensive and defensive lines with successful draft picks. That is the biggest difference between NYG and CAR when it comes to roster building in recent years. CAR has some holes to fill, as do most teams, but they are reliable in the trenches for the most part. That can win games as much as anything.

-Another topic of debate that is often discussed here is the value of linebackers in today’s NFL. CAR spent 1st round picks on both Luke Kuechly (2012), Shaq Thompson (2015) along with Thomas Davis (2005) whom returns from suspension this upcoming week. When I watch the second level of a defense like CAR, DAL, JAC, etc., the notion only grows stronger that spending 1st and 2nd round picks on the position is a good idea.

-When CAR let go of Josh Norman, many in CAR were unhappy. They viewed him as a top tier corner and CAR had very little behind him. James Bradberry, however, in his third season as a 2nd round pick, is becoming one of the more underrated at the position in the league. He is really physical and savvy.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-The Giants scored 2 touchdowns in 6 plays during the 4th quarter. What was the theme we saw on those two “drives” that we don’t see elsewhere? Downfield throws. Maybe Beckham is onto something when he says this offense hasn’t been doing enough of that.

-With that said, I don’t have major issues with Beckham going to the media discussing his negative thoughts on how NYG is playing. Losing breeds this kind of stuff, plain and simple. But one thing I didn’t see? Beckham hasn’t stated that his shortcomings are part of the problem. And he has a few things to clean up. He had 2 awful mistakes in this loss alone, and a third mistake that the best do not make. If he wants to be touted as a world class player, he can’t make those mistakes. Take some ownership Odell.

-The lack of pass rush on this team is downright scary. It doesn’t get discussed enough because there is such an unhealthy obsession to discuss Eli and his future replacements, etc. The NYG pass rush might be bottom 3 in the league from what I observe. And yes I know everyone wants a shiny new toy at QB in the next draft, but there are going to be 2 or 3 top tier pass rushers in this upcoming class. And you better believe I am going to be leaning in that direction at times especially if no QB overly stands out.

Oct 072018
 
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Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (October 7, 2018)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

CAROLINA PANTHERS 33 – NEW YORK GIANTS 31…
The New York Giants lost a heart-breaking, poorly-officiated game, 33-31, to the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina on Sunday. Carolina won the game on a last-second 63-yard field goal after the Giants had dramatically taken the lead 31-30 with just over a minute to play. With the loss, the Giants fell to 1-4 on the season.

Both teams punted the ball away on their initial drives. New York was the beneficiary of great field position on their second drive after a 15-yard punt return by wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. gave the Giants a first down at the Carolina 39-yard line. The Giants only gained one first down, but it was enough to set up a successful 42-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas.

The Panthers quickly responded with a touchdown, however, as shoddy New York tackling allowed two big plays, one an 18-yard gain on a end around, and the second a short throw to wide receiver Curtis Samuel who took it in from 25 yards out. The Panthers led 7-3.

Things quickly got worse for New York. First, the Giants went for it on 4th-and-3 from the Carolina 39-yard line and Beckham dropped the football, turning the ball over on downs. The Giants’ defense held. But on the ensuing punt, Beckham foolishly ran towards a ball that he should have stayed away from. When it glanced off of him, cornerback Janoris Jenkins tried to pick it up but failed. The Panthers recovered the loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown and a 14-3 advantage. The Giants then went three-and-out and the Panthers responded with a field goal drive that gave them a 17-3 lead midway through the 2nd quarter.

The Giants clawed back into the game with a trick play two snaps after a 20-yard run by running back Saquon Barkley. On 2nd-and-18, quarterback Eli Manning threw a pass behind the line of scrimmage to Beckham, who then threw deep across the field to a wide open Barkley for a 57-yard touchdown catch-and-run. The Giants now trailed 17-10.

The change in momentum did not last long. Rosas kicked the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, giving Carolina the ball at their own 40-yard line. Eight plays later, Carolina place kicker Graham Gano connected on a 48-yard kick with less than three minutes before halftime. The Giants did respond with their own field goal drive, gaining 40 yards in seven plays. And Rosas hit a 53-yarder right before intermission.

At halftime, the Panthers led 20-13.

Carolina went three-and-out on the first possession of the second half. The Giants put together a 13-play, 75-yard drive that unfortunately only resulted in a 36-yard field goal after reaching the Panthers’ 14-yard line. Panthers 20 – Giants 16.

The Panthers put together a long drive on the ensuing possession, but it ended with a turnover when free safety Curtis Riley intercepted quarterback Cam Newton at the 10-yard line and returned the ball to the Giants’ 22-yard line. However, Carolina got the ball back four plays later when Manning was intercepted at the Panthers’ 14-yard line. It was quite the momentum shift as Carolina then drove 68 yards in nine plays, with running back Christian McCaffrey scoring on an 18-yard pass reception. With less than 12 minutes to play in the game, the Panthers now led 27-16.

The game appeared over when Manning threw his second interception just two plays later. However, the Giants got the ball back when Jenkins intercepted Newton at the Giants’ 37-yard line and returned it 29 yards to the Carolina 34-yard line. Two plays after that, Manning hit Beckham on a deep pass for a 33-yard score. The successful 2-point conversion attempt, a pass from Manning to tight end Rhett Ellison, cut the score to 27-24 with just over eight minutes to play.

The Panthers responded with a 12-play, 54-yard drive where Newton threw a 27-yard pass on 4th-and-1 from the Giants’ 44-yard line. The play set up a 39-yard field goal to give Carolina a 30-24 lead with 2:16 to go in the game.

Starting at their own 25-yard line, Manning first hit wide receiver Russell Shepard for an 8-yard gain and then a 40-yard pass. On the third snap of the ball, Manning found Barkley who scored from 15 yards out with 68 seconds left in the game. The Giants had their first lead since the first quarter and now led 31-30.

Carolina started from their own 25 yard. Two completions in four attempts put the Panthers in a 3rd-and-1 situation at the Giants’ 45-yard line with 30 seconds left. It appeared the Giants had stopped McCaffrey short of the marker, but the Panthers were given the first down and Newton then spiked the ball to stop the clock. Two plays later, Gano connected from 63 yards away to win the game.

Offensively, Manning finished the game 22-of-36 for 326 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. His leading receivers were Beckham (8 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown), Barkley (4 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown), and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (4 catches for 75 yards). Barkley carried the ball 15 times for 48 yards as the Giants only ran for 50 yards on the day.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 350 total yards (118 rushing and 232 net passing). Riley and Jenkins each had interceptions. The Giants only picked up one sack, by linebacker Connor Barwin.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle), tight end Evan Engram (knee), quarterback Kyle Lauletta, center Evan Brown, defensive tackle John Jenkins, cornerback Mike Jordan, and safety Kamrin Moore.

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

  • Head Coach Pat Shurmur (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (Video)
  • WR Odell Beckham, Jr. (Video)

JOSH MAURO REINSTATED, STACY COLEY PLACED ON IR…
The NFL’s 4-game suspension of New York Giants defensive end Josh Mauro has ended, and Mauro was reinstated to the team’s 53-man roster on Saturday. To make room for Mauro, the Giants placed wide receiver Stacy Coley (hamstring) on Injured Reserve.

In March, shortly after he was signed as an unrestricted free agent by the Giants, Mauro was suspended for the first four games of the 2018 NFL season by the NFL for the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). For the last four weeks, he has not been allowed to practice with the team.

The 6’6”, 282-pound, English-born Mauro was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers after the 2014 NFL Draft. He did not make the team, but was signed by the Cardinals after he was cut. In four seasons with the Cardinals, Mauro played in 47 regular-season games with 26 starts, 20 of which came in the last two years. In 2017, Mauro started seven games and finished the season with 22 tackles and one sack.

The Giants claimed Coley off of waivers from the Minnesota Vikings in September.

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

Oct 052018
 
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Pat Shurmur and Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (September 30, 2018)

Pat Shurmur and Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: New York Giants at Carolina Panthers, October 7, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
The New York Giants season is not over, but it is on the brink.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Sterling Shepard (back – probable)
  • WR Cody Latimer (knee – probable)
  • TE Evan Engram (knee – out)
  • NT Damon Harrison (knee – probable)
  • LB Olivier Vernon (ankle – out)
  • LB Connor Barwin (knee – probable)
  • CB Eli Apple (groin – probable)
  • CB Antonio Hamilton (groin – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
These game previews have become tiresomely repetitive because the same exact issues continue to exist. In the simplest terms, the Giants don’t score enough points. Forget what has become an almost comical 30-point taboo for the NYG offense. In three of the team’s first four games, the Giants haven’t reached the 20-point threshold. I can talk about offensive strategy, match-ups with the other team, defense, special teams, etc. until I am blue in the face, but a team that can’t even score 20 points on a consistent basis is going to lose. And lose a lot.

Many people are going to take this as an Eli Manning bashing preview. It’s not meant to be. But we have to openly assess how other teams view him. After last Sunday’s game, a Saints’ defensive back said, “I feel like the guys up front put a scare in the quarterback, rushing him the way they rushed. I know there were some shots there downfield, but he didn’t take them.”

Many Giants’ fans see the same thing; others do not. Giants’ games now have not become about the W-L record (because they keep losing), but a weekly referendum on Eli. “See! Eli still has it if you give him time!” “See! Eli had time and he still missed the open receivers deep!” It’s become a tiresome, but predictable, weekly debate because so much of the success or failure of a team’s offense relies on the play of the quarterback.

From my QB preview in June: “Yet, in an era where teams are moving more and more to athletic quarterbacks, Eli remains a bit of an old-school dinosaur whose lack of mobility clearly impacts the overall offense. Manning must compensate with better toughness, pocket awareness, decision-making under duress, and accuracy. Can he shake off the gun-shyness and inaccuracy that plagued him in 2017? Can he get his mojo back?”

As much as it pains me to say it, when I watch Eli now, I still see a gun-shy quarterback who has lost his mojo. And I’ve seen enough football over the years to know that once a quarterback becomes gun-shy, it’s over. The accumulation of years of poor pass protection now causes Eli to feel phantom pressure and make business decisions.

But what about the game against the Texans?! That’s the frustrating part. Statistically, that was one of Eli’s best games in his career. He was almost perfect. But teams don’t want quarterbacks who play well in one-out-of-four games. The “yeah but” excuses are wearing thin. Officially, Eli is now a quarterback who has won 112 regular season games and lost 106 in his 15-year career. It’s quite possible, by season’s end, he will be a career losing quarterback.

We’re one quarter through the 2018 regular season. Eli has 12 games left. If he can’t get his mojo back in those 12 games, it’s time to move on.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The Giants’ defense isn’t losing games. But it’s not winning them either. The Giants are a respectable 11th in team defense. But the Giants have five sacks on the season. That ties them with the Raiders for dead last in the NFL. The Giants have also only picked off two passes and recovered one fumble. So while the defense is keeping New York in games, it hasn’t been able to provide the short field for a struggling offense.

The Giants now face yet another quarterback who can hurt you with his feet. Cam Newton is a strange bird. At times, he looks like an MVP candidate and at others the kind of guy who holds a team back. But he absolutely can take over a game with either his feet or his arm. Newton is unique in that he is bigger than most of the guys trying to tackle him. And Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner, who replaced Mike Shula, has Newton throwing the ball as well as he has in his career, completing 67 percent of his passes. Oddly, his leading receiver is a running back, Christian McCaffrey with 22 receptions. Wide receiver Devin Funchess is second with 14 catches. No other Panther has more than 10 catches through four games and Carolina is only 25th in passing offense in the NFL.

But the Panthers are #1 in the League in running the football. The Giants have now faced a series of teams who are near the top of the NFL in rushing. While the Giants have done a fairly decent job against those teams’ running backs, it has been their quarterbacks running the football who have hurt them. The focal point of the New York defense must be on two players: McCaffrey (who is averaging almost six yards per carry) and Newton (136 yards rushing and 3 rushing TDs). The The Panthers will use misdirection to the back and then let Newton carry the ball. The Giants must be ready for it. This is why getting Eli Apple back will be important. He’s a bigger, more physical corner than B.W. Webb and Donte Deayon on the perimeter of the defense. Indeed, when the Giants go to the nickel, I would be more apt to play safety Michael Thomas. Safety Landon Collins will also be on the spot as he has been prone to bite on misdirection.

“This offense, they create a lot of run-pass conflict, use the quarterback a ton in the run game, he is a heck of a load to bring down whether it’s quarterback design runs, whether it’s option plays, or whether it’s just him underneath center handing the ball off to a really explosive running back,” said Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher on Thursday.

McCaffrey is a similar player to Alvin Kamara, who just ran for three touchdowns against the Giants. “I see an explosive guy who’s not afraid,” said Bettcher. “He’s shifty, he can do all those things in space, but he’s not afraid to put his foot down, lower his pads, and he’s going to try and run someone over… (In the passing game) the same kind of things that we had to deal with last week with the back we played against, a guy that, they’ll split out empty, they’ll motion him, they’ll use him as a slot receiver and bring another back to put in the backfield.”

Newton, McCaffrey… those are the two main cogs. That doesn’t mean Newton won’t take his shots down the field, but the key defensively is to keep these two from killing the Giants with their feet. If the defense really wants to take charge of the game, get some turnovers. Teams that win the turnover battle usually win the game.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
One of the key plays in last week’s game was the fake punt the Saints ran. The Giants had started the game on fire and that play took some of the wind out of their sails. Plays like that often get lost in the box score, but it is evidence how the Giants’ special teams unit still doesn’t do enough to win football games. And the return game still remains anemic, and worse, a bit nerve-wracking as the returners still have issues securing the football or making the right decisions.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Pat Shurmur on the Giants throwing the ball down the field: “That’s a false narrative that we weren’t trying to throw the ball down the field (last weekend). That’s a false narrative, and if for some reason, they legislate against it, we have to check the ball down, keep the chains moving. And as I acknowledged, maybe it’s better to just run the ball a little bit more. I think it’s important to throw the ball down the field, and we try to and we do it more than that narrative suggests.”

THE FINAL WORD:
This Carolina team is beatable. But the Panthers are also tough to beat at home having won seven in a row at their stadium, going back to last season. The Giants just FEEL broken right now. And I’m not sure there is a short-term way out of this mess. I would keep giving the ball to Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham. Those are your two difference makers.

Dec 212015
 
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Carolina Panthers 38 – New York Giants 35

I’m Mad as Hell

Your move Mr. Mara.

The 2015 New York Giants nightmare of a season is just about over, unless the football gods want to get in one more last kick to the nuts by dragging this out another week. Regardless of the team’s final record, it is brutally clear this team is poorly constructed. They play hard, but they simply are not good enough.

One of the strengths of the New York Giants organization for the last 36 years is they are not impulsive. There have only been three general managers and six head coaches employed by the Giants during that timeframe, including two short tenures by Ray Handley and Dan Reeves. There was immense pressure to fire Bill Parcells after the 1983 season and Tom Coughlin after the 2006 season, moves which probably would have cost the Giants all four of their Super Bowl titles. Meanwhile, both George Young and Ernie Accorsi retired under their own volition, meaning the team has never fired a traditional, modern era GM.

John Mara and Steve Tisch don’t want to fire Tom Coughlin, a man who will go down in history as one of the team’s top three head coaches in addition to Steve Owen and Parcells. They are conscious of the fact that firing Coughlin after the 2006 season would have been a huge mistake and that the 2015 New York Giants are an undermanned squad that has been competitive in every single game. This is an improvement over the 2012-14 Giants who were on the receiving end of a number of humiliating blowouts.

Seven of the Giants’ eight losses have been by a total of 21 points, and six of them have been by four points or less. But therein lies the danger. Mr. Mara may not be seeing the forest through the trees. Despite having a franchise quarterback who is playing some of the best football of his career and one of the NFL’s most explosive skill players, this team is not getting better in a league and division filled with mediocrity. The Giants are on track for their third losing season in a row, fourth non-playoff season in a row, and sixth non-playoff season in seven years. As great as the 2007 and 2011 campaigns were, one gets the sense that poor talent acquisition and coaching wasted chances at more glory. Numerous offensive and defensive coordinators as well as positional coaches have been fired. And due to poor drafting and an inordinate number of serious injuries, the roster has rotted.

The defense is once again dead last in the NFL. Dead last. This has become the norm for a franchise that prided itself on defense throughout most of its history. They can’t stop the run, they can’t rush the passer, and they can’t cover. When a game is on the line, they wilt under the pressure. Many of the starters would be backups or wouldn’t even be on the 53-man roster of many other teams. The offense is in better shape because of Eli Manning, Odell Beckham, and a recent investment in the offensive line, but it has talent issues at well on the right side of the offensive line and the other skill positions. In short, General Manager Jerry Reese has done a horrible, horrible job of acquiring talent.

As for the coaches, they are quality men with a proven track record of success either with the Giants or on other teams. In many ways, they are a victim of Jerry Reese’s poorly-run operation. But in a bottom line business, the team has become too accustomed to losing. Tom Coughlin’s edge seems to be gone. Even under the new CBA rules, practices are not tough. Instead of an angry “no medals for trying” attitude we get “we played hard.” Players freely admit their confidence is shaken. A culture of mediocrity and defeat has gripped a franchise only a few years removed from an NFL title.

The Giants are clearly at a crossroads. They can stay the course, hope Jerry Reese and his staff draft better and make better decisions in free agency than they have. They can hope that a soon-to-be 70-year old Tom Coughlin, Ben McAdoo, and Steve Spagnuolo can take those new pieces and create a better product and somehow reverse the recent cultural demise. Or they can do what they have done in recent years and serve up some scapegoats to appease those thirsting for blood, firing a position coach, or maybe even reorganizing the personnel department.

Less likely, but what should be considered is an entire organizational enema. It is indisputable that the chief reason for the team’s demise is the failure to acquire sufficient talent. There have been too many bad draft picks and too many poor free agent decisions. The occasional success does not erase the fact that the Giants are not getting enough good players. All three levels of the defense are a joke. Offensively, the team can’t run the football and has no one who scares the opposition other than Manning and Beckham. It’s a two man team. How can John Mara not see that? The Giants are no further along on their “rebuild” as when they started after the 2012 season. They got Beckham and improved the offensive line, but the defense has completely fallen off of the cliff. It can’t be fixed in one offseason.

If the Giants are going to make a change, the time is now. Losing has become too easy for this franchise. The coach is approaching retirement age. Most of the roster is completely disposable and therefore malleable. They can completely change their offensive and defensive systems because of that. If there is any doubt within the organization about Reese, then he should be let go too. You don’t want to get into a situation where Reese hires a new head coach and is then fired himself a year later. Getting rid of Reese may seem too reactionary, but Reese has been truly terrible at his job.

General Observations from the Game

The Odell Beckham shenanigans obscure what ended up being a great game. It was expected that the undefeated Carolina Panthers would make short work of a flawed Giants team. With 4:34 left to play before halftime, the game was tied 7-7 as both teams had scored once off of long touchdown marches and each had punted the ball away four times. Then came a disastrous sequence. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie dropped a pick-6. Three plays later Rashad Jennings fumbled the ball away at the New York 46-yard line. Three plays after that, on 3rd-and-1, the defense lost track of Cam Newton’s favorite receiving target, tight end Greg Olsen, as he ran untouched 37 yards for a touchdown. The Giants went three and out. The Panthers made New York pay by driving 72 yards for a commanding 21-7 lead. In the matter of minutes, a close game got out of hand.

The beat down that was expected by many continued in the third quarter. The Giants went three-and-out twice while the Panthers added two more touchdowns to go up 35-7 with 5:32 left in the 3rd quarter. The game was over.

But then began New York’s dramatic comeback as they rallied to tie a game from a 28-point deficit for the first time in their entire team history. Within the span of 15 minutes, they scored four touchdowns, including a dramatic 14-yarder from Manning to Beckham on 4th-and-5 with 1:46 to play. MetLife Stadium went nuts. The Giants only needed one more defensive stop to get the ball back in regulation or send the game into overtime. But for the seventh time this season, the Giants’ defense was unable to make that stop late in a contest with the game in doubt. Carolina kicked the game-winning 43-yard field goal with no time left as the Panthers easily gained the 49 yards and four first downs they needed to win the game.

Offensive Observations

Too little too late. As I’ve said for weeks, the Giants need Eli Manning and Odell Beckham to play near-perfect games in order to win. Beckham dropped a 52-yard touchdown on the team’s first drive, got foolishly caught up in a personal battle with Josh Norman, and was a complete non-factor until late in the 3rd quarter. Not counting the give-up play right before halftime, the Giants first nine possessions resulted in one touchdown drive, one turnover, and seven punts (four of which came after three-and-outs).

The offense does deserve credit for the furious comeback effort with four straight touchdown drives of 64, 66, 14, and 66 yards against one of the toughest defenses in the NFL. Manning ended the day 29-of-46 for 245 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception – the latter partially caused by the pass rush combined with Hakeem Nicks falling down. Manning’s numbers would have been even better had not for a couple of missed opportunities deep to Beckham, including the drop.

The Giants finally got Shane Vereen back into the passing game, as he caught 8 passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. Beckham almost redeemed himself on the day with two 4th-down conversions, including the game-tying 14-yard touchdown that was also set up his 40-yard catch-and-run. Will Tye chipped in with five catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. Rueben Randle caught a 27-yarder touchdown but that was due to a breakdown in the Panthers’ pass defense. His other three catches only went for 20 yards.

Jennings’ fumble overshadowed what was sadly the team’s first 100-yard rushing performance by a single ball carrier this year. He ran the ball 16 times for 107 yards (6.7 yards per carry average), including a 38-yard touchdown run. Vereen chipped in with 29 yards on four carries (7.3 yards per carry) and Andre Williams 21 yards on six carries (3.5 yards per carry). The offensive line performed surprisingly well given the quality of the opponent. Manning was not sacked and only officially hit four times. The team rushed for an impressive 161 yards against what had been the NFL’s #4 run defense.

Defensive Observations

The defense has been so bad for so long that we have become accustomed to seeking out minor victories such as forcing four punts in Carolina’s first five possessions and preventing points in four 4th quarter possessions. Bullshit. The defense still gave up three first half touchdown drives, including two in the last 3:30 of the half. It then gave up two more touchdown drives in the 3rd quarter. Two of the 4th quarter “stops” were a blocked field goal after a 62-yard drive that should have put the game away and an unforced turnover. In the end, Cam Newton became the first player in NFL history to run for 100 yards, pass for three hundred yards, and throw five touchdown passes. It will likely be his signature performance of his MVP season.

To be honest, I don’t have the heart to discuss this unit in detail. Pointing out bright spots on this defense is like picking out your favorite entree at the Golden Corral. The linebackers and safeties are a joke. The highly-paid cornerbacks laid an egg. The best defensive lineman is playing with one hand. Every Giant fan knew Carolina was going to score in the final 1:46. We knew it. They knew it. Needing a late stand, the defense has faltered against the Cowboys, Falcons, Saints, Patriots, Redskins, Jets, and Panthers. They are dead last defensively despite not having to face a slew of top quarterbacks or offenses. It’s a sad day when Giants fans wish their defense could be “as good” as the Browns, Colts, and Jaguars or any other team in the NFL

Without their bell cow running back Jonathan Stewart, the Giants knew they had to stop Cam Newton on the ground. They didn’t. Instead, he had his best rushing day of the year. The defense also knew it couldn’t let the Panthers’ mediocre group of wideouts do much damage. Instead, “stalwarts” such as Ted Ginn, Jerricho Cotchery, Corey Brown, and Devin Funchess caught 15 passes for 213 yards and four touchdowns. Tight end Greg Olsen chipped in with 79 more yards and a touchdown. Newton ended the day with a 116.9 quarterback rating. The New York Giants no longer know how to acquire defensive talent or coach them. This has been problem for years now.

Special Teams Observations

The 36-yard punt return by Ted Ginn set up Carolina’s final touchdown. Dwayne Harris was kept in check. The blocked punt by Rodgers-Cromartie was a momentary game-saver.

Coaching Observations

It’s clear the coaching staff is saddled with a weak roster. It’s a tribute to the coaches and players that all but one of the games have been competitive. That said, the coaching staff shares the blame. As mentioned in other game reviews, there have been questionable decisions from the head man. In this particular contest, his original choice to punt on 4th-and-2 trailing 35-7 was a curious one. Eli correctly waived off the punt team to keep the comeback alive. Despite Coughlin’s and Ben McAdoo’s protestations to the contrary, this game was more evidence that there has been too much running back by committee and not enough of a focus on Jennings and Vereen. Spagnuolo has made some odd personnel choices late in games such as having Craig Dahl cover Josh Reed out of the slot against the Redskins and Uani ‘Unga cover guys like Jason Witten of the Cowboys and Greg Olsen of the Panthers.

Tom Coughlin should have benched Odell Beckham. His decision not to seems to suggest that he at least believes he is coaching for his football life. Coughlin knows that without Manning and Beckham, this team is beyond dreadful.

Cram it in your Cramhole Award

Josh Norman, Cortland Finnegan, and many of the Panthers defenders are tools, and Norman sounds like a little bitch. But Odell Beckham allowed him to get under his skin and it impacted the entire team. It may have cost his 52 teammates a playoff spot and his coaches their jobs. The game is not about individuals, no matter how good you are. Now it’s up to Odell to decide whether he will learn and grow from this incident. He should use it to fuel an even greater fire and lift his entire team in years to come.

(Carolina Panthers at New York Giants, December 20, 2015)