Nov 262019
 
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Julian Love, New York Giants (November 24, 2019)

Julian Love – © USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bears 19 – New York Giants 14

QUICK RECAP

A comfortable, if not somewhat chilly and breezy day, in Chicago was on tap after the Giants bye week to face off against the underwhelming Bears. A defense that ranked 8th in the NFL paired with an offense that ranked 30th has given CHI a lack of identity to this point of the year. They came in at 4-6, losers of 4 out of their last 5. NYG was coming off of 13 days of rest with an offensive line that was fully healthy after injuries at three of five starting spots and Sterling Shepard out of the concussion protocol. This was a solid match-up on paper.

Two weeks after Saquon Barkley gained 14 yards on 13 carries against the Jets, he was tackled for a 5-yard loss on the first carry of the game. It was a quick and easy sign that despite the extra time off, nothing had changed. On the second CHI drive, they marched down the field but a drop by tight end Ben Braunecker that would have surely ended in a touchdown gave the NYG defense another life. Mitch Trubisky, who averages less yards per game than any QB in the league, threw an interception to a leaping Alec Ogletree in the end zone.

A few drives later, NYG started with the ball in Chicago’s territory. The Giants took advantage of the field position as Daniel Jones hit tight end Kaden Smith in the flat off of play-action for a 3-yard touchdown. They took the initial lead and after forcing a three-and-out on the next drive, Jabrill Peppers returned a punt 40 yards, ending at the CHI 29-yard line. After three plays that accrued a total of 5 yards, Aldrick Rosas missed the 42-yard field goal attempt as a result of Zak DeOssie rolling (literally) the snap back to Riley Dixon. The game remained 7-0. After a 13-yard punt following another three-and-out by the CHI offense, NYG began this time at the CHI 48 yard line. Rosas would soon be presented with a 43-yard attempt but instead of redeeming himself, he pulled it wide left, his fourth miss of the season. The score remained 7-0.

CHI’s offense clicked on their final drive of the half as they finally found and decided to absolutely, relentlessly attack the weak point of the NYG secondary. Corey Ballentine got picked on over and over as CHI drove inside the 10-yard line. The Giants were able to keep them out of the end zone but CHI did put up 3 points via a 26-yard field goal by Eddy Pineiro. They cut the score to 7-3 and would receive the ball to start the second half.

Rosas cemented this as the worst game of his young career as he booted the opening kickoff of the second half out of bounds, giving CHI the ball at the 40-yard line. The CHI game plan seemed to fully focus on Ballentine, as they continued to throw the ball to whomever he was trying to cover. This approach ended with a 32-yard touchdown to Robinson over Ballentine, giving CHI their first lead of the game at 10-7.

The next four offensive drives for NYG resulted in zero first downs, a sack-fumble that resulted in a turnover, and 15 total yards. The anemic performance and even worse play-calling made the Giants completely stall while the CHI offense, third-worst in the league, was able to put another 10 points on the board to lengthen their lead to 19-7 heading into the fourth quarter.

Despite all of the quality field position they had in this one, up until this point in the game, NYG couldn’t muster more than a lone score. Thus it only makes sense that on a drive that started on their on 3-yard line ended with their second touchdown. On a 4th-and-18 from the CHI 23, Jones evaded pressure and chucked it into the end zone. Somehow Golden Tate got behind the secondary and came down with the ball. NYG was all of the sudden within 5 and they quickly forced a three-and-out on the ensuing CHI drive.

Another late-game, puzzling decision arose here. On 4th-and-2 from their own 33, CHI kept their offense on the field. Nobody actually believed they would go for it, and at the last second, they took their entire unit off the field and replaced them with their punting team. The NYG defense remained on the field, no returner came on, and it resulted in a punt that rolled and rolled, resulting in a 61-yard punt that  was downed at the NYG 6-yard line. It was a brilliant move by CHI Head Coach Matt Nagy, as Pat Shurmur hopelessly looked on as if he knew he just got toyed with by a superior coach.

The Giants had one last shot to make this game a heroic 4th quarter comeback but the offensive line continued to falter and Jones couldn’t find open targets. The drive lasted 8 plays and gathered a total of 29 yards. They turned it over on downs. Would have been nice to have those 6 points lost by Rosas.

Giants lose 19-14.

QUARTERBACK

-Daniel Jones: 21/36 – 150 yards – 2 TD / 0 INT – 2 att / 27 yards. Jones fumbled for the 14th time and lost that fumble for the 10th time. While this one wasn’t a result of poor ball protection, this has become a major issue.  Otherwise, Jones played a solid game but had a few hiccups that luckily didn’t end in turnovers. He threw two late balls right into the hands of CHI defenders but they couldn’t close the deal. His second touchdown was a bit of a “chuck it” type play but he deserves credit for hanging in the pocket and getting rid of it nicely with trash all around him. Jones didn’t givie us any “wow” moments or throws but he played solidly as he has all year.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 17 att / 59 yards – 2 rec / 1 yard. While this wasn’t as ugly a performance as we have seen the past couple of weeks, Barkley is still lagging big time. He continues to dance around too much instead of putting his 230-pound frame close to the ground to simply pave his own path. To be honest, it is really frustrating to watch. He also dropped a pass on 3rd-down that would have ended in, at least, a first down and a 15+ yard gain. There was a play in the 3rd quarter where he caught a pass in the flat and danced his way out of bounds rather than drive over a defensive back who was on heels. Shurmur, rightfully so, was not happy with Barkley on that one.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Golden Tate: 3 rec / 33 yards / 1 TD. Tate also had a drop and one other that he should have caught albeit it was a difficult throw to deal with from Jones. Tate’s touchdown salvaged his poor day.

-Darius Slayton: 4 rec / 67 yards. The lone big play threat in this WR corps continues to impress as a route runner and after the catch. He did have another drop though.

-Sterling Shepard: 3 rec / 15 yards. First game back for Shepard since October 6 because of a second concussion. He didn’t make the great impact many were hoping for but he did gain 22 yards on a reverse run and converted a 3rd down. This offense needs more out of him moving forward, not just dinky-dunk passes.

TIGHT END

-With Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison both out, the job was left up to Scott Simonson and Kaden Smith. Smith, still somewhat newly-signed from SF, scored the first Giants touchdown on a play-action bootleg. He ended up catching another 4 short passes and Simonson got one of his own. Neither are going to scare anyone as route runners and pass catchers but they blocked the edge well, as they were asked to do a lot there.

OFFENSIVE LINE

The first half wasn’t bad for tackles Nate Solder and Mike Remmers. After all, they were up against Khalil Mack and company and on Jones’ 14 first-half drop backs, Solder allowed 1 pressure and Remmers none. However, once we got into the third quarter, Solder allowed 5 pressures and a sack that led to a fumble. He was, once again, abused and it impacted the entire passing attack. Remmers wasn’t much better, as he allowed 2 pressures but also graded out poorly as a run blocker. He kept losing ground time after time, showing absolutely no anchor.

-Kevin Zeitler and Will Hernandez were relatively quiet in a good way. They each allowed just one pressure in the fourth quarter against a CHI defensive tackle group that may be one of the most underrated in the league. They didn’t get movement in the running game and they, along with Jon Halapio, were the main culprits for a lack of interior run success. None of the offensive linemen could walk out of Chicago proud of their performance.

EDGE

-Despite a separate offsides penalty called on all three edge rushers, they played well as a group. Markus Golden recorded his 7.5 sack of the year while adding 2 TFL, one of which was in a clutch situation late in the game. Lorenzo Carter had 4 tackles, 1 TFL, a pass break up, and 1 pressure, while Oshane Ximines added a pressure and a tackle himself.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

-B.J. Hill didn’t show up in the stat sheet but he was pretty active despite playing only 26% of the snaps. He had a pressure and made things happen away from the ball in terms of making the ball carrier re-direct. He is a quality guy to have coming off of the bench.

-Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson were stout and rangy against the run. Both had a pressure and Tomlinson finished with 3 tackles. His best football has been played since Williams was brought in. Speaking of Williams, one can fairly ask whether or not he is worth the draft pick they gave and/or the money he will demand in the offseason. He continues on with his “solid, but…” label. He had 1 tackle and 1 pressure in this one.

-Dexter Lawrence was borderline dominant inside against a quality CHI interior offensive line. When this kid gets off of the ball correctly and timely with the right pad level, it is comical to watch two OL not even get him to move his feet. You won’t see him make a statistical impact weekly, as he finished with just 2 tackles and 1 pressure in this one, but he was the key reason why CHI averaged just 2.5 yards per carry. Great game for him.

LINEBACKER

-Alec Ogletree came up with the biggest defensive play of the day. His interception in the end zone prevented CHI from going up 7-0 early and it was an impressive, athletic feat. He had just 2 tackles on the day but he filled lanes hard and opened things up for David Mayo. Mayo finished with 7 tackles including one for a loss and he had a nice pass breakup stemming from his physical style and heavy contact. He did get beat up underneath by backs and tight ends in coverage though.

-Solid game from Deone Bucannon, who seems to be more comfortable in this environment. He had 5 tackles despite the fact he only played a third of the snaps.

CORNERBACK

-Corey Ballentine saw a season-high 64 snaps, but that’s about the only thing his fans are going to want to talk about. Actually, he led the team with 9 tackles, another feather in the cap. But one thing I was taught a long time ago was if a cornerback has a lot of tackles, it is usually an indictment on his poor coverage. It was as clear as day as to who CHI wanted to attack in the passing game. There was a stretch from the middle of the 2nd quarter to the middle of the 3rd quarter where the CHI offense was simple: line up, find who Ballentine is covering, and pass to him. Ballentine’s footwork was atrocious. He had no balance, and he had no feel for routes and throws. In addition to all of the receptions and yardage he gave up, he was fortunate another 60-yard catch was called back because of a penalty along the offensive line. It will be interesting to see how he bounces back because you know Green Bay saw the tape.

-Janoris Jenkins played a really solid game, finishing with a couple of physical tackles and 2 pass break ups. He had a defensive holding on a 3rd-and-10 stop that led to a CHI touchdown, however. Bad timing for a mistake that didn’t need to be made.

-Deandre Baker wasn’t challenged much in coverage, but he did look solid on the few times he had to run deep with the CHI speed guy Gabriel. He finished with a TFL.

SAFETY

-A pretty quiet game for the safeties. Antoine Bethea had 3 tackles and showed quality coverage on a couple of occasions. Jabrill Peppers played a lot of linebacker in this one. He had 5 tackles and 1 TFL. He also returned a punt 40 yards and it got me thinking that it would have been nice to see him back there all year. He is so dangerous with the ball and we aren’t just talking about speed. He is powerful, strong, and aggressive. He is dealing with a hip/back injury that may end up shutting him down for the rest of the year.

-Julian Love got his first real action of the year, 55% of the snaps. He had 1 tackle and 1 interception. Love nearly came down with a second interception and I saw things in him that reminded me why I had a 1st-round grade on him last April. He reacts so well, both physically and mentally, to both where receivers are going and when the ball is thrown. We haven’t seen that from a safety yet this season. Arguably his most impressive play won’t show up on the stat sheet. On the 60-yard pass to Allen Robinson, Love was engaged with a receiver who did a nice job of blocking him. Robinson had a head full of steam and no defender in sight was there to help Love with angles or anything. Love disengaged himself from the blocker, wrapped up a full-speed Robinson, and brought him to the ground. Little things like that go a long way in my book and I hope Love earned his way into more playing time the rest of the year.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 0/2 (missed 42, 43). One can say the first miss wasn’t Rosas’ fault because the snap was so bad, but his second miss AND a kickoff out of bounds to start of the second half now leaves a questionable taste in our mouths. Is he the guy? Or did he get lucky in 2018? Kickers are the relief pitchers of football, just unbelievably volatile and hard to find.

-P Riley Dixon: 6 punts / 41.7 avg / 33.0 net.

3 STUDS

EDGE Markus Golden, DT Dexter Lawrence, S Julian Love

3 DUDS

-OT Nate Solder, K Aldrick Rosas, CB Corey Ballentine

3 THOUGHTS ON CHI

  1. I somewhat noticed this while watching the game live but upon watching it again from the All-22 angle, I respect how disciplined this defense is. Plain and simple, they do not overlook the subtle assignments. They maintain gap control. Their blitzers are well timed and accurate. They take proper angles. Their anticipation is outstanding, most notably at the second level. Yes they have a lot of talen,t but even more than that, their discipline makes a lot of positives happen.
  1. Mitch Trubisky has gone backwards. I can recall watching him early last year and thinking he is making that important jump. Even after his injury where he missed 2 games, he came back and got destroyed by the LAR defense but bounced back well. 2019 has not been friendly to him and it just looks like he isn’t seeing things. His timing is off and he isn’t sure of himself. I bring this up because I think it takes 3 years of starting in the NFL before you can make your decision on a QB. NYG QB Daniel Jones has some similarities to Trubisky and even though I think he is heading toward a higher level, it is another example we can’t say yes or no to Jones until 2021.
  1. I know many may think NYG doesn’t need any more bodies at the hybrid DT/DE spot in this defense but there is a kid on CHI I have been watching all year. Roy Robertson-Harris is going to be a RFA this offseason. Since he was an UDFA in 2015, he could come cheaply. If NYG doesn’t want to spend money on Leonard Williams, I think this kid offers a very similar skill set and I’ll even say a similar level of play for a much cheaper price. Keep that name in mind.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  1. Not sure if anyone else saw the interesting exchange between Barkley and Shurmur. In the 3rd quarter, Barkley caught a ball in the flat, did a little dance, then trotted out of bounds as two CHI defenders approached him. It was 2nd-and-8, NYG was down 10-7. Shurmur went at him and clearly told him to go north, put the shoulder down and get the few extra yards. Barkley may have been able to get 2-3 more yards and while it wasn’t a major deal, I think it is clear some are getting frustrated with his style. He isn’t playing like he did as a rookie. He is playing soft, and yes, I will keep talking about it until he stops.
  1. I think NYG might as well keep trotting out their young guys in the secondary for the balance of the season. I want to see Beal, Ballentine, Baker, and Love all getting more than 50% of the snaps weekly. I don’t need to see Michael Thomas anymore, I don’t need to see Grant Haley anymore, and I don’t need to see Peppers play through pain. Let’s see how these kids respond to adversity even if they get roasted.
  1. There are 5 games left to play. WAS and MIA are included in there and it’s hard not to think about where the Giants end up in the draft if they lose out and/or win one or both of those match-ups with Chase Young potentially sitting there. He is likely going to grade out higher than Myles Garrett and if there is one guy who can change the entire outlook of this team in a game where one guy almost never makes that much of a difference, it is Young. Tanking isn’t a thing but I do believe in sitting veterans and getting the young guys valuable snaps to see if they can show us something. Something I think NYG needs to consider.
Nov 242019
 
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Alec Ogletree, New York Giants (November 24, 2019)

Alec Ogletree – © USA TODAY Sports

CHICAGO BEARS 19 – NEW YORK GIANTS 14…
The New York Giants lost their seventh game in a row, and fell to 2-9 on the season, by losing to the Chicago Bears 19-14 on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. For the first time in New York Giants history, the team did not win a game in the months of October and November.

What kind of day was it for New York? The Giants missed two field goals, committed three neutral zone infractions, and were flagged with defensive holding on a 3rd-and-10 sack, which led to a touchdown on the next play. New York’s longest gain was a 26-yard scramble by the quarterback.

Offensively, the Giants were held to 243 net yards, 14 first downs, and 1-of-12 (8 percent) on third down. Chicago’s 30th-ranked offense gained 335 net yards and 20 first downs.

The Giants and Bears exchanged punts to start the game. After another Giants’ punt, Chicago put together a 12-play, 77-yard drive that ended with a 3rd-and-9 interception by linebacker Alec Ogletree in the end zone. The Giants followed that up with their third punt in a row.

After a punt by Chicago, the Giants took a 7-0 lead after a 6-play, 42-yard drive ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Daniel Jones to tight end Kaden Smith. Unfortunately for New York, these would be the last points the team would score until late in the 4th quarter. Chicago would score the game’s next 19 points.

The Bears would punt the ball twice more on their next two possessions, with four of their first five possessions ending with punts. The Giants could not take advantage as both of their next two possessions ended with missed field goals, from 42 and 43 yards out. The first attempt was set up by a 40-yard punt return by safety Jabrill Peppers.

Chicago’s only points of the first half came on their last possession before halftime, as the Bears drove 59 yards in nine plays to set up a 26-yard field goal.

At the half, the Giants led 7-3.

Place kicker Aldrick Rosas, who is having a terrible season, kicked the opening kickoff of the second half out of bounds. The Bears needed just five plays to go the remaining 60 yards. The killer play came on 3rd-and-10 from the New York 37-yard line. Linebacker Markus Golden had his 3rd-down sack wiped out by a defensive holding penalty by cornerback Janoris Jenkins. On the very next snap, wide receiver Allen Robinson scored on a pass from 32 yards out, beating cornerback Corey Ballentine, as the Bears went up 10-7.

After a three-and-out by the Giants, the Bears extended their advantage to 13-7 after an 8-play, 88-yard drive ended with a 24-yard field goal. On the first play of New York’s ensuing drive, linebacker Khalil Mack beat left tackle Nate Solder and stripped-sacked Jones of the ball. The Bears recovered at the Giants’ 3-yard line. On 3rd-and-goal, quarterback Mitchell Trubiski ran in from two yards out. The Bears now were up 19-7.

The Giants went three-and-out again on their third possession of the half. On the first play of the 4th quarter, safety Julian Love intercepted a Trubiski pass at the New York 20-yard line and returned it 30 yards to midfield. However, the Giants could not gain a first down, being stopped after a 1-yard pass play on 4th-and-4. The Giants did not gain a first down on their first four possessions of the second half.

The Bears gained one first down and punted, the ball being down at the 3-yard line. Aided by a 26-yard scramble by Jones, a 19-yard reception by wide receiver Darius Slayton, and a 22-yard run by running back Saquon Barkley, the Giants reached the Chicago 15-yard line. However, the next three plays lost eight yards and the Giants were now facing a 4th-and-18 from the 23-yard line. As Jones was getting smashed by Mack again, he lofted a perfect 23-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Golden Tate. The Giants now trailed 19-14 with 4:10 left in the game.

The Giants had a chance to win at the end. Markus Golden stuffed the Bears for a 1-yard loss on 3rd-and-1, forcing a punt. However, the Giants were caught off guard when the Bears’ punt team came onto the field late. The Giants did not have a returner in the game and the ensuing 61-yard punt was downed at the 6-yard line. Jones threw a 17-yard pass to Slayton on 4th-and-4 from the 12-yard line, but his second 4th-and-4 attempt four plays later fell incomplete as he was getting hit. Game over.

Jones finished the game 21-of-36 for just 150 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He also lost his tenth fumble of the season, including seven in his last five games. His “leading” targets were tight end Kaden Smith (5 catches for 17 yards) and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (5 catches for 15 yards). Slayton did have four catches for 67 yards. Barkley was held to 59 yards on 17 carries, with 22 of those yards coming on one run.

On the defensive side of the football, linebackers Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter picked up sacks. Alec Ogletree and and Julian Love both had interceptions.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVES AND INJURY REPORT…
TE Evan Engram (foot), TE Rhett Ellison (concussion), QB Alex Tanney, WR Bennie Fowler, OT/OG Chad Slade, OT Eric Smith, and LB Chris Peace.

S Jabrill Peppers left the game with a hip injury and did not return. He was in a lot of pain after the game and will undergo an MRI on Monday.

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 Daniel Jones (Video)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (Video)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (Video)
  • LB Alec Ogletree (Video)

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

Nov 222019
 
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New York Giants Defense (August 16, 2019)

New York Giants Defense – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: New York Giants at Chicago Bears, November 24, 2019

THE STORYLINE

This is what we need to focus on during the last six games:

Is the team getting better? Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur were hired almost two years ago to make the 3-13 New York Giants a better football team. The Giants were 5-11 in 2018 and are now 2-8 in 2019. The Giants may win two more games (Dolphins and Redskins) this year. They will be hard pressed to upset the Bears, Packers, and Eagles (twice). We may be looking at a 4-12 season.

How the Giants lose in the final six remaining games will also be important. We’re all tired of the refrain, “Well, at least the team played hard and didn’t quit!” It’s a loser’s lament. Yet if the team not only loses but starts losing badly, then that will be another sign that the team still isn’t headed in the right direction.

THE INJURY REPORT

  • WR Sterling Shepard (concussion – may or may not be cleared on Friday)
  • TE Evan Engram (foot – out)
  • TE Rhett Ellison (concussion – out)
  • OC Jon Halapio (hamstring)
  • LT Nate Solder (concussion – may or may not be cleared on Friday)
  • RT Mike Remmers (back)
  • CB Janoris Jenkins (concussion – may or may not be cleared on Friday)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE

As far as I’m concerned, the #1 goal for the offense for the remainder of the season is to not ruin Daniel Jones. Many disagree with me, but I think any quarterback can take too many hits and that can affect his play, and in the case of Jones, his long-term development. Right now, Jones is taking far too many hits. And many of these hits are violent collisions that are directly contributing to Jones’ ball-security issues. Reduce the number of hits > reduce the physical and mental toll on Jones > reduce the number of fumbles. The latter must also be getting into Jones’ head this point. I know the running game isn’t working, but the already terrible 2019 season will be made disastrous if they permanently damage Jones.

This is absolutely the wrong defense for the New York Giants to be facing at this point. While the Chicago Bears are having a horribly disappointing 4-6 season of their own, encumbered by a dreadful offense, their defense is still #8 in the NFL in terms of yards allowed and #4 in the NFL in terms of points allowed. They are top 10 in both run and pass defense. Surprisingly, the Bears’ defense has only produced 14 turnovers (7 interceptions, 7 fumble recoveries) all season.

The headliner on the Bears’ defense is linebacker Khalil Mack, who has produced four of those fumbles. Mack has been held to 5.5 sacks this year and only one sack in his last six games. He also was tackle-less last week. But don’t let those stats fool you. Mack leads the Bears with 42 quarterback pressures. He is literally quite capable of doubling his season sack total against a weak NYG offensive line. Why is the Bears’ defense so good? Look no further than their linebacking corps. It’s filled with studs. The Bears also have two excellent players in the secondary, cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson.

While I think that Pat Shurmur needs to be more conservative with Daniel Jones, I don’t think the Giants are going to be able to simply run, run, pass against the Bears. If they do that, the Giants will be in constant 3rd-and-long situations. The Bears linebackers are going to destroy tight ends Kaden Smith and Scott Simonson in the run game. It’s doubtful that New York will be able to generate any yardage outside of the tackles. I would use the short passing game to attempt to keep the down-and-distance situations manageable. The Bears’ offense is so bad that the Giants theoretically could win a 13-10 game on Sunday if they simply protect the football and play for field position. Don’t be stupid. Play it conservatively and protect Jones (and thereby protect the football).

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

I think most readers know I’ve pretty much given up on James Bettcher. Last week, the 32nd-ranked New York Jets offense more than doubled their average point total against the Giants’ 27th-ranked defense. As predicted, the Giants were kind enough to allow Sam Darnold to finally get back on track. Will Bettcher’s defense extend the same courtesy to Chicago’s 30th-ranked offense? The Bears are 30th in passing and 29th in rushing. Why do I get the horrible feeling that neither will appear to be a problem on Sunday?

On paper, the Bears can’t run or pass. Their leading rusher has less than 500 yards and is averaging 3.5 yards per carry. His back-up is averaging 3.1 yards per carry. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky stinks, completing less than 63 percent of his passes and throwing just nine touchdowns in nine games. There is only one player on the entire team with more than 251 yards receiving on the year, and that’s wideout Allen Robinson, who is targeted 25 percent of the time on passing plays, yet only has 633 yards and three touchdowns.

The Bears are averaging less than 17 points per game.

The good news for the Giants? Jints Central is starting to play some of the younger players. Corey Ballentine is now seeing serious defensive snaps. Sam Beal played in a handful of plays against the Jets. There were whispers that Julian Love has seen reps with the 1st-team defense in practice. I can live with mistakes from rookies and 1st-year players. But watching end-of-the-line players like Antoine Bethea get abused during a 2-8 season is pointless.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

Aldrick Rosas has now missed three extra points in his last three games. He’s also only kicking 80 percent on field goal attempts. This is a big game for him.

The Bears punt and kickoff return game is very dangerous and will present a very difficult test for the coverage teams this week. This is the type of game that can be decided by a special teams play.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

Head Coach Pat Shurmur on the team no longer playing music during practice: “I felt like it was the right thing to do to keep the music off, especially during the individual periods and the group periods, so that we can coach the players and they can hear me and us better. Now we still use music or we use crowd noise for the offense when we’re on the road. But the reason we don’t do it is so that we, as coaches, our voices can be heard and they can be coached immediately. I think it’s the unintended consequence of not having music. As time has gone on, it’s become a trendy thing to have music at practice. But for us and for our football team, I think the right thing to do is to keep the practice field a little quieter so that they can hear our coaching points.”

(Editorial Note: Yes, it’s always good for the players to be able to hear the coaches during practice. SMH)

THE FINAL WORD

I think the Bears are the better team because they have the far better defense. The Bears are holding opponents to 17 points per game. If the Giants’ defense can match against a dreadful Bears’ offense, then New York has a chance in this one if they don’t turn the ball over. But I don’t have confidence that the NYG defense can do the job, and I think Daniel Jones is going to get rocked in this one and turn the ball over again.

It’s a winnable game, but I don’t think the coaches and players are up to the task.

Aug 182019
 
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New York Giants Defense (August 16, 2019)

New York Giants Defense – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 32 – Chicago Bears 13

QUICK RECAP

Week 2 of the preseason brought in a team coming off the “worst-to-first” season. The Bears, who won just 5 games in 2017, took the NFC North in 2018 with 12 victories. Jim Nagy won Coach of the Year, the Bears defense allowed a league low 17 points per game, and QB Mitch Trubisky took a big step in his progression. This had the look of a solid test for where NYG stood at this point. However Nagy, who appears to be anti-preseason football, sat nearly his entire first string on both sides of the ball. The Giants test would have a different outlook, but the game still was to be played.

Eli Manning partook in just one drive for the second week in a row, however this one was much more impressive. He attempted 4 passes, completing all 4 to different targets, the last of which an 8-yard touchdown to Bennie Fowler. It was a smooth and easy grouping of plays for the first string offense.

Chase Daniel started for the Bears, the same Chase Daniel who lost to NYG last December in a 2-interception game. A couple of NYG mistakes enabled them to drive down the field and eventually hit a 41-yard field goal. The score was 7-3 as the end of the first quarter approached and rookie Daniel Jones was ready to take over with the first string offense surrounding him. After three straight completions, the last of which went for 40 yards to Cody Latimer, Jones fumbled a snap and turned the ball over in the red zone.

Quality offensive football took a nap, as the two teams produced 5 straight 3-and-outs, one of which ended with Jones’ second fumble of the night and then a missed CHI field goal attempt. He was able to recover well enough and thanks to quality offensive line play, NYG was able to put another 3 points on the board with a 47-yard field goal. On the ensuing drive, an errant snap produced a safety and a 12-3 lead for NYG. Jones had under 3 minutes left and he finished the half with arguably his best drive of his young career.

With urgency in the no huddle offense, Jones went a perfect 4-4 including a beautiful touch pass to T.J. Jones in the end zone. The 15-yard touchdown gave the Giants a commanding 19-3 lead with a little over 1 minute left in the half. That was enough for the Bears to get themselves back into field goal position with time expiring which they took advantage of, making the score 19-6 at the halfway point.

The full list of backups took over in the second half with Alex Tanney appearing to still have a firm grip on the number three job. His night didn’t begin in ideal fashion, as his offense went 3-and-out on drive number one and the second ended in a poor interception with NYG just one yard away from a touchdown on first down. An under throw, ill-advised decision ended up in the hands of CHI rookie corner Clifton Duck. The Bears turned that in to a touchdown and got within 6 as the fourth quarter got under way. Tanney did bounce back with one more TD-scoring drive, this one by roster-hopeful Ronnie Hilliman, making the score 25-13.

NYG took advantage of poor CHI play that produced penalties and fumbles. With Kyle Lauletta leading the offense at this point, they scored another 6 on a pass to Garrett Dickerson. The Giants had a 32-13 lead and after another Bears turnover, the game was all but over. Not the cleanest win, but NYG improved their record to 2-0.

Giants win 32-13.

QUARTERBACKS

Eli Manning: 4/4 – 42 yards – 1 TD. Manning was on the field for just one drive for the second straight week. It was a smooth and efficient drive with the highlight play being an absolute rope to Latimer over the middle. It was a tight-window throw that traveled 20+ yards in the air. The reports of Manning’s arm being stronger than in years past are credible.

-Daniel Jones: 11/14 – 161 yards – 1 TD. Add 2 lost fumbles to the stats for Jones, something that absolutely needs to be cleaned up. Turnover margin is the ONE stat that correlates to wins and losses more than any other. Besides that, Jones expanded the throw-arsenal in this one. He pushed the ball downfield for a 40-yard gain to Latimer and it was a nicely placed ball. Some will say he should have led Latimer more, but that could have easily resulted in the safety bearing down on the ball and breaking it up. With the cornerback running with his back to Jones, I think that is where the throw was meant to land. Jones’ touchdown pass to T.J. Jones was something we saw in college. Perfect placement, perfect touch, easily catchable. Some pro QBs never fully grasp the ability to alter touch and air under the ball throughout all levels of the passing tree and it looks like it comes so natural to Jones. This was another excellent passing performance by Jones, but the fumbles can’t be overlooked.

-The battle for the number three job between Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta appears all but over. Tanney did throw an interception on 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line, a major mistake, but he still showed more ability to push the ball downfield. Lauletta did end the night with a touchdown and had a solid 15-yard rushing gain. I expect Manning and Jones to get almost all the snaps in week 3, so the last shot in game action will likely come in two weeks.

RUNNING BACKS

-With both Saquon Barkley and Wayne Gallman on the sideline, it was an opportunity to shine for Rod Smith and Paul Perkins. Smith’s size is something these other potential backups don’t bring to the table, he can really push the pile. He finished with 10-42 on the ground and 2-8 via the air. He fumbled once but it was recovered by Nick Gates, the backup NYG left tackle. Perkins, who was a complete dud in week 1, put together arguably his best game-performance in a Giants uniform. 6-35 on the ground and 2 catches for 30 yards. He displayed the quickness, burst, and balance on a couple of occasions that got me originally excited about him years ago. I still think it is unlikely he makes the team if this coaching staff wants to just keep 3 backs on the roster in addition to fullback Elijah Penny.

-Jon Hilliman bounced back after taking a nasty hit and missing a couple days while in concussion protocol last week. He had a team-high 16 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown. Hilliman gets downhill in a hurry and runs with a low pad level. He has always been a solid between the tackles runner but that role on this team won’t be there barring injury to the guys in front of him.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-T.J. Jones continues to impress, whether it be in practice or in a game. He walked away from this one with 3 catches – 32 yards – 1 TD. For a small guy, Jones gets to the ball in contested situations exceptionally well. He is more than just an underneath threat. Great find by the Pro Personnel staff here, because I think Jones is going to be the #3 or #4 on this team while Tate is suspended.

-Cody Latimer was targeted twice and he ended with 2 catches – 60 yards. This is the one guy who can consistently get downfield and with the size/long stride combo, he is going to get plenty of deep looks. You don’t hear much about him in camp reports but I think some are overlooking how solid and reliable he can be. If his health stays in check, I am expecting 65+ catches from him with some big plays in the vertical passing tree.

-Bennie Fowler caught the touchdown from Manning on the first drive. He consistently gets open underneath on the quick slants and hooks. But what may not be obvious to the naked eye is how physical he is. Fowler is 6’1/218 and even looking back at my college scouting report of him, he has always been a guy who can overpower defensive backs. While Tate is suspended those first four weeks, he may be a really important piece to the passing game when those 3-6 yard gains are needed over the middle. He has been proving his worth there so far.

-Nice downfield grabs by Da’Mari Scott (38 yards) and Brittan Golden (27 yards).

TIGHT ENDS

-Evan Engram didn’t play. Rhett Ellison was only on the field for 14 snaps with Scott Simonson only seeing 16 snaps. That left it up to roster hopefuls C.J. Conrad and Garrett Dickerson. Conrad did a nice job blocking with powerful contact and sticky hands while Dickerson showed more in the passing game with 2 catches – 17 yards – 1 TD. They are both interesting players who can, like Ellison, move around to the backfield as a lead blocker, mixing it up in the trenches, and being dependable underneath pass catchers. Simonson had a drop but I think he is firmly in place as the #3 guy.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-The first-string OL got more action in this one, and they did a fine job. No pressures, no sacks, no TFL. I focused on Mike Remmers because of how much that RT spot has hurt the offense in recent years. He is a blue-collar guy who reminds me of a tackle-version of Rich Seubert. Little short on talent and tools but there is a lot of grit, a lot of competitor in him. Center Jon Halapio had a nice game too, very stout and hard to move. When he gets on his target, there is never any movement in the wrong direction. That will be very important.

-Nick Gates is turning into the surprise of the preseason for me personally. He and Chad Wheeler did allow a sack, but other than that Gates was more than solid. There is a lot of twitch and reaction to his game and there is a natural presence about him. The staff is talking about how they are comfortable putting him anywhere along the line and I think he has locked up a spot. Wheeler, on the other hand, is officially on the hot seat. Another sack and pressure again. At some point, there will be a veteran available on the waiver wire who will come in and replace him.

-Don’t sleep on Chad Slade who still has sloppiness about him (1 sack allowed), but he moves guys as well as any of the backups. He, too, brings some inside-out versatility.

-Evan Brown had a holding penalty and was beat badly once on an inside rush, but he is a gritty blocker with quality footwork and balance. I think he has the top inside-backup role locked up other than Spencer Pulley, who I think is a center-only.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

-The trio of Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill, and Dexter Lawrence had a better game than week 1, but they still are leaving something to be desired. Nothing to overreact to at all, but there is just too much movement at the point-of-attack against the second string CHI offensive line. Lawrence is going to learn really fast that his size and power won’t do as much for him as it did in college. That alone just isn’t going to cut it if you want to be an every-down guy.

-Olsen Pierre recorded a sack and played with violence at the point-of-attack. He and John Jenkins are going to be a solid backup rotation should someone go down. Jenkins has a nice mix of disruptive and stout based on his playing style and tool set.

-One name that is continuing to jump at me, and this applies to practice as well, is Jake Ceresna. He, against 3rd-string OL, is constantly breaking through the line and shows quality athletic adjustments to the action. He had 2 tackles, one of which was for a loss. Also have to give attention to Terrence Fede, who had a nice week 1 and recovered a fumble along with recording a TFL in this one.

EDGE

-The edge rushers, which I think is, as of right now, the weakest group on the defense, had a quality night. Markus Golden recorded a sack via excellent hand-battling and a short area burst to close in on Chase Daniels. Oshane Ximines recorded the first sack of his pro-career via nice post-engagement footwork and balance. It is pretty easy to see he is still a ways away power-wise though.

-Lorenzo Carter had a pressure via a rush move I didn’t think he could pull off. He dipped completely under the blocker’s chest while turning the corner with complete balance and control. For a guy who has the size and straight-line speed to show that kind of movement is a good sign.

-Kareem Martin, albeit limited as a pass rusher, is a really dependable run defender. He is the most physical guy in the group and his backside pursuit made a difference in two occasions. He comes downhill hard and angry. If this defense ends up exceeding expectations, I bet he is a really important piece of the puzzle.

LINEBACKERS

-With Alec Ogletree nursing the calf, Tae Davis and rookie Ryan Connelly got the start and played 21 snaps. Neither recorded a tackle and while that isn’t the only barometer to be used for this success, I think they both struggled. Davis gets lost in traffic if he doesn’t get the initial jump and while that is common at the position, it happens too often with him. Connelly, on the other hand, made several key reads but was just a step or two too slow and couldn’t close the deal. He will have to adjust his angles a tad, as the speed of the game especially on outside runs isn’t anything close to what he is used to.

-Nate Stupar had a nice game: three tackles and pass break up. He is well thought of by the coaches and his presence with the other players is another check in his box. He has assumed a bit of a leadership role. B.J. Goodson, again, had to wait his turn. But once he got on the field, he made a couple plays, one of which was a nice pursuit and finish to the outside. Personally I really hope he sticks around this year, I think he can make things happen and he deserves a shot. I’m not sold on Connelly getting a higher spot on the depth chart than him just yet.

CORNERBACKS

-Janoris Jenkins and Antonio Hamilton got the start. With Baker out for the time being, which I don’t think will be long, it is interesting to compare these backup corners. I trust Hamilton the most because he seems to make the reads more consistently, whereas Henre’ Toliver was late to notice things and could have been burned deep a couple times had CHI 3rd-stringer Tyler Bray made accurate downfield passes.

-Corey Ballentine and Grant Haley are both very grabby. It is a gamble that, with the way these refs are throwing flags, could end up hurting this defense more than expected. Ballentine, as we talked about last week, has the tools that will make us drool. Haley is a solid nickel presence that has had a knack for making things happen but I get worried about seeing how much they grab.

SAFETIES

-Jabrill Peppers vs. Landon Collins will be a interesting comparison. Peppers actually plays more physical and that was apparent on how forcefully he was filling gaps. The question with him is reactive coverage, more notably zone, as I saw him exposed a couple of times in the all-22 tape. Fortunately it didn’t hurt them, this time.

-Kenny Ladler made another impactful, physical tackle. He continues to impress and it will be important to have another physical guy behind Peppers ready to step in should he go down. Peppers does have a slight injury history dating back to his days at Michigan, although he did play all 16 games in 2018.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 1/1 (Made 47).

-P Riley Dixon: 3 Punts – 40.3 avg / 45.3 net

-T.J. Jones had a 43-yard kick return but also muffed a punt that he ended up recovering himself. The more he can prove to do, the more likely he makes this team and the active game day roster.

3 STUDS

-RB Paul Perkins, OC Jon Halapio, OLB Lorenzo Carter

3 DUDS

-OT Chad Wheeler, TE Scott Simonson, LB Ryan Connelly

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-This offense is passing the preliminary tests. The main reason? The offensive line is controlling the point-of-attack and sustaining their blocks. While they haven’t been truly tested just yet, they are giving plenty of time and mental security to the passers. We haven’t seen that in preseason in recent years.

-Do we need to see Saquon Barkley this preseason? I think we do and yes, the fear of an injury is real. But this is football and I don’t want weeks 1 and 2 to be, in any fashion, players getting “the rust off”. I think it would benefit Barkley to get at least 6-7 touches in against CIN in the third preseason game.

-The emergence of T.J. Jones at receiver is good news for the offense but it has to mean someone may get the boot who we didn’t initially expect. The Tate suspension could end up helping someone stick around but if this team keeps six receivers not including Tate, the likes of Alonzo Russell, Alex Wesley, and Da’Mari Scott are going to be on the outside looking in.

Aug 162019
 
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Daniel Jones and T.J. Jones, New York Giants (August 16, 2019)

Daniel Jones and T.J. Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 32 – CHICAGO BEARS 13…
The New York Giants soundly defeated the Chicago Bears 32-13 on Friday night at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. While the Giants played without a number of starters, including running back Saquon Barkley, tight end Evan Engram, wide receiver Sterling Shepard, linebacker Alec Ogletree, and cornerback DeAndre Baker, the Bears sat all of their offensive and defensive starters.

The Giants’ first-team offense easily moved down the field against the Bears’ second-team defense on their initial possession, driving 79 yards in 10 plays. On 3rd-and-5 from the 8-yard line, quarterback Eli Manning hit wide receiver Bennie Fowler for an 8-yard touchdown. The Bears’ second-team offense responded with an 11-play, 55-yard drive against the Giants’ first-team defense to set up a 41-yard field goal. Giants 7 – Bears 3.

Daniel Jones took over at quarterback on New York’s second possession near the end of the first quarter. He connected on a 17-yard pass to Fowler on 2nd-and-14. Two plays later, Jones found wide receiver Cody Latimer for a 40-yard gain on a deep sideline pass. However, an untouched Jones fumbled the ball away on the very next play and the Bears took over at their own 24-yard line.

After two three-and-outs by the Bears and one by the Giants, Jones was stripped of the football on a 3rd-and-11 play on the team’s fourth possession of the night. The Bears returned the fumble to the Giants’ 12-yard line. However, defensive end Olsen Pierre sacked the Bears’ quarterback on 3rd-and-15, setting up a 47-yard field goal attempt that was missed.

On the ensuing drive, Jones connected with wide receiver Brittan Golden on a 27-yard catch-and-run that set up a 47-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas. Giants 10 – Bears 3. The Giants quickly extended their advantage to 12-3 when Chicago botched a shotgun snap that resulted in a fumble out of the end zone for a safety. The Giants got the ball back on the free kick. Jones connected with running back Paul Perkins on a 26-yard screen pass. After two short passes to wide receiver T.J. Jones and a run by Perkins, Jones threw a perfect pass into the endzone for a 15-yard score to T.J. Jones. The Giants now led 19-3 with just over a minute to play before halftime.

The Bears appeared to have returned the ensuing kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown, but a holding penalty brought the ball back to the Bears’ 28-yard line. Still, Chicago was able to drive the ball 63 yards in nine plays to set up a 27-yard field goal. At the half, New York led 19-6.

Chicago went three-and-out to start the second half. Alex Tanney was now in the game for the Giants at quarterback and New York also went three-and-out. After the Bears’ second three-and-out of the half, the Giants drove 71 yards to the Bears’ 1-yard line. But on 1st-and-goal, Tanney threw an ill-advised pass that was picked off and returned 62 yards by the Bears to the Giants’ 37-yard line. Six plays later, the Bears scored a 1-yard touchdown to cut New York’s lead to 19-13.

On their third possession of the second half, New York impressively responded with a 6-play, 60-yard score after a 43-yard kickoff return by T.J. Jones. On 3rd-and-8, Tanney hit wide receiver Da’Mari Scott for 38 yards on a deep pass. Three plays later, running back Jon Hilliman ran for a 10-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt failed and the Giants led 25-13 at the start of the fourth quarter.

After both teams exchanged punts, linebacker Jonathan Anderson forced a fumble that linebacker Josiah Tauaefa recovered, setting up the Giants at the Chicago 36-yard line. Six plays later, quarterback Kyle Lauletta threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Garrett Dickerson. Giants 32 – Bears 13.

An unforced fumble by the Bears that defensive end Terrence Fede recovered gave the Giants the ball back at the Chicago 24-yard line with 5:38 left to play. The Giants took 4:33 off of the clock before turning the ball over on down at the 3-yard line. Chicago then just ran out the clock.

On offense, Manning finished 4-of-4 for 42 yards and a touchdown. Jones was 11-of-14 for 161 yards and one touchdown. He also fumbled the ball away twice. Tanney was 4-of-9 for 54 yards and an interception. Lauletta was 2-of-3 for 13 yards and a touchdown. No receiver had more than three catches. Hilliman rushed for 56 yards on 16 carries; Rod Smith 42 yards on 10 carries with one fumble; and Perkins 35 yards on six carries.

Defensively, the Giants recovered two fumbles. In addition to Pierre, linebackers Markus Golden and Oshane Ximines each had sacks.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
RB Wayne Gallman (ankle), WR Sterling Shepard (thumb), WR Darius Slayton (hamstring), OT Brian Mihalik (burner), OT George Asafo-Adjei (concussion), LB Alec Ogletree (calf), CB Deandre Baker (knee), CB Sam Beal (hamstring), and LS Zak DeOssie (toe) did not play.

Running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Evan Engram were healthy scratches.

Cornerback Antonio Hamilton left the game with a groin injury and did not return.

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur will address the media by conference call on Saturday. The players are off on Saturday and return to training camp practice on Sunday.

Aug 152019
 
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T.J. Jones, New York Giants (August 8, 2019)

T.J. Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

Preseason Game Preview: Chicago Bears at New York Giants, August 16, 2019

THE STORYLINE:
In terms of media and fan perspective, the predominant early narrative on the 2019 New York Giants remains the same. Most see a rebuilding team with a potentially yet-to-be-determined and messy quarterback transition. The game against the New York Jets provided some reasons to be optimistic and some causes for concern. Minus their best player (Saquon Barkley), the Giants pretty soundly defeated their cross-town rivals, and looked sharper in doing so than is normally the custom for the first preseason game. Daniel Jones played better than anyone expected and a number of the newcomers on both sides of the ball flashed. It was an entertaining game and the players seemed motivated and excited. On the flip side, the first-team defense and offense struggled on the initial drives. The Giants couldn’t run the ball. But that should change once Barkley is in the line-up. The biggest cause for concern remains the pass rush.

THE INJURY REPORT:
The following players are not likely to play on Friday night:

  • WR Sterling Shepard (thumb)
  • OT Brian Mihalik (burner)
  • OT George Asafo-Adjei (concussion)
  • LB Alec Ogletree (calf)
  • CB Deandre Baker (knee)
  • CB Sam Beal (hamstring)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Understandably, almost all of the discussion following the first preseason game was centered on the performance of Daniel Jones, who perfectly completed all five of his passes, including a tight 3rd-and-7 sideline throw and a 12-yard touchdown pass. But stormy weather prevented a larger sample size. The good news is that Jones silenced some of his critics in the short-term. The bad news is that expectations may now be unfairly raised. The naysayers are sure to vocally return with the inevitable inconsistencies and growing pains.

While the first game could not have gone better for Jones, it was far from ideal for the actual starting quarterback, Eli Manning. He only had one pass in one series, and on that throw, he checked down to a very short, 3-yard completion when he had another target open farther down the field on the side he rolled to. A strange 3rd-and-8 draw play brought out the boo-birds.  Then Eli got to listen to the fans roar as Daniel Jones easily drove the first-team offense down the field for a touchdown. From a psychological perspective, Manning is in a very tough spot. Everyone knows the transition is only a matter of time. And with every incompletion or (gasp) interception, the calls for Manning to sit will grow and grow. I don’t find it surprising that Manning lit it up in practice this week. My guess is he sees the writing on the wall and his dander is up.

Beyond the quarterback controversy, to be frank, it’s difficult to judge this offense without its best weapon. Saquon Barkley changes the entire offensive dynamic of this team as both a runner and pass receiver. It would be like watching the 1980s Giants’ defense without Lawrence Taylor playing. So what I am primarily looking at are the various component parts. How does the offensive line block? How much trouble are the Giants in at wide receiver with Golden Tate being suspended for four games? Is there a viable back-up running back on this roster who can spell Barkley?

In their very brief, two-drive action last Thursday, the starting offensive line looked sharp protecting the passer. The run blocking needs work. Outside of the penalties (some ticky tack), what was surprising was how well some of the lesser-known back-ups played. The coaches seemed to have noticed too and it looks like Nick Gates and Chad Slade may be pressing for roster spots as both received first-team reps this week at camp. The bad news is that tackles George Asafo-Adjei and Brian Mihalik are missing valuable playing time with injuries.

On paper, the Giants’ receiving corps appears to be one of the worst in the NFL, especially with Golden Tate now officially out one-quarter of the season. But with Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram sitting on the sidelines last week, the no-names actually had a very good game, racking up 20 catches for 323 yards and three touchdowns. Was that a fluke?

Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins, and Rod Smith rushed for 34 yards on 15 carries. That’s not getting it done. Barkley is the man, but the Giants need someone else to at least be competent. Perkins in particular had a bad game and if he follows that up with another bad performance, he’s likely out of the picture.

Both Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta had a good game. Right now, Tanney appears to still have the advantage with three games to go.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The first defensive series against the Jets would have been far different had Jabrill Peppers finished his excellent coverage by intercepting Sam Darnold’s first pass. But he didn’t. And the Jets then easily drove for a touchdown on the next five plays. Aside from some coverage issues from safety/cornerback Julian Love, what stood out was the lack of pass rush. This could be the team’s Achilles’ heel in 2019. What we do not want to see is teams continually converting on 3rd-and-long because the Giants can’t get to the quarterback.

The starting defense also took a bit of a blow this week when cornerback Deandre Baker sprained his knee. Hopefully, he will be back soon. He needs the reps in advance of the regular-season opener. While Corey Ballentine has flashed both in camp and the first game, Antonio Hamilton received more of the first-team reps opposite of Janoris Jenkins in practice this week. Meanwhile Sam Beal has missed virtually all of training camp with a nagging hamstring injury. This just goes to show you how multiple injuries at one position can change things overnight. Two names to keep an eye on at back-up safety are Sean Chandler and Kenny Ladler. Both have made some noise.

The Giants actually appear to be in good shape on the defensive line. Starters Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill, and Dexter Lawrence are big, strong linemen with good quickness. They are still very young and will get better with playing time. Chris Slayton and John Jenkins were a bit more disruptive than I expected against the Jets. If Olsen Pierre and R.J. McIntosh can show something, this will be a good group.

Linebacker is the focus. Inside, it’s fascinating to see how rapidly Ryan Connelly has moved up the depth chart. With Alec Ogletree not likely to play, Connelly may even start against the Bears. The coaches also seem to prefer the overall athleticism of Tae Davis over B.J. Goodson, who appears to be falling like a rock on the depth chart. He’s in danger of not making the team with Nate Stupar being a core special teams player. I would not also completely discount Jonathan Anderson.

The top four edge guys are Lorenzo Carter, Markus Golden, Kareem Martin, and Oshane Ximines. You see a hint of potential with all four, but they aren’t getting the job done (yet). Get to the quarterback! In the meantime, one has the sense that the coaches are desperately trying to justify keeping Jake Carlock on the roster.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
There is some concern at punter. Riley Dixon wasn’t very good against the Jets. Ryan Anderson has been cut and Johnny Townsend was claimed off of waivers from the Raiders.

T.J. Jones was sure-handed as a punt returner against the Jets, but he didn’t show much quickness and was tackled far too easily. On the other hand, Corey Ballentine did have a 40-yard kickoff return. It will be interesting to see if Darius Slayton and/or Brittan Golden get any reps as returners.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Pat Shurmur on the quarterbacks in this game: “I do plan on playing all four quarterbacks, like I did last week… I’d like to see Eli get a little bit more time. We’ll just see how that plays out. But there’s a chance that (Daniel Jones) could play behind the one (offensive) line.”

THE FINAL WORD:
Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush. Got to get to the quarterback or we’re in for a frustrating year on defense.

Dec 042018
 
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Odell Beckham, Jr., New York Giants (December 2, 2018)

Odell Beckham, Jr. – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 30 – Chicago Bears 27

QUICK RECAP

On a rainy, gloomy afternoon in East Rutherford, the 8-3 Chicago Bears, winners of 5 straight, took on the 3-8 Giants. The Bears were without their starting quarterback, Mitch Trubisky, but were being led by veteran backup Chase Daniel whom led them to a win in Detroit on Thanksgiving 10 days prior.

The tale of the first half was very much about a puttering Giants offense being picked up by the defense that has shown glimpses throughout the year. Eli Manning got off to a rough start, throwing a couple of near-interceptions on the first two drives. On his eighth attempt of the game, his pass did end up in the hands of a CHI defender. Kyle Fuller picked off his 6th pass of the season and this one had the look of a defensive battle.

I say that because Daniel, who started his fourth game in 10 years, gave the Giants 7-0 lead on a pick 6 thrown to Alec Ogletree on their second play from scrimmage. Both teams were forced to fight through poor QB play. All was not lost offensively, however, as both teams were seeing success with their respective ground game.

The dual RB system that CHI has is one of the best in the league. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen combined for 98 yards on 21 carries, further proving the NYG run defense since the trade of DT Damon Harrison has really been a newfound weakness. The Bears used that rushing attack in combination with a sandlot-type passing game to drive the ball 70 yards on 10 plays to net their first score of the game towards the end of the 1st quarter. Daniel hit backup tight end Adam Shaheen on a 2-yard rollout pass to tie it up at 7.

More consistent gains via the running game and a 30-yard gain via a pass to Allen Robinson to put them inside the NYG 10 with just a few minutes left in the second quarter. Instead of going for a short field goal on 4th and goal from 1-yard line, Head Coach Matt Nagy put the ball in the hands of defensive tackle Akiem Hicks who crossed the goal line for a touchdown, uncovering memories of William Perry’s role as a short yardage back 25+ years ago.

The two struggling offenses exchanged possessions in the final 3 minutes with NYG getting one more shot with about a minute left. Manning was sacked on the first two plays and it appeared they were ready to concede the half but CHI opted to stop the clock with 17 seconds left. This was one of the most overlooked, yet most important moments of the game. CHI simply called a timeout to make NYG punt the ball in rainy weather, which naturally creates more margin for error.

In typical NFL fashion, NYG opted to run a draw play on 3rd and 23. This is where Barkley once again proves his worth. In his typical highlight-reel fashion, he created something out of nothing, broke 2 tackles, missed a couple more, and gained 22 yards on a play where he had no business gaining anything more than a third of that. With just a few seconds left, NYG opted to go for it on 4th and 1 which they converted. That left 1 second on the clock and allowed Aldrick Rosas to come out for a 57 yard attempt. The potential Pro-Bowler nailed it as time expired, setting a new franchise record and giving NYG momentum heading into the locker room.

That momentum was taken to a new level on the first drive of the second half, the most important drive of the game according to a lot of coaches. NYG gained 26 yards on the first 3 plays and opted for a trick play on the 4th. A reverse to Odell Beckham that was designed to be a pass resulted in him tossing a flat-footed ball 50 yards in the air into the waiting arms of Russell Shepard, who was completely alone in front of the end zone. An easy score for the home team put them up 17-14 and NYG had this game by the horns.

After forcing another 3 and out as CHI continued to struggle on 3rd down, NYG used a more traditional approach to net 7 more points on their next possession. A 13-play drive that gave the ball to Barkley seven times ended in a 4th and goal touchdown pass from Manning to Beckham. The Giants had a game-high 10 point lead and they maintained that lead for the first 5 minutes of the 4th quarter.

CHI got within 7 with just under 10 minutes left via a 36-yard field goal. NYG was in a similar position as they were last week. They had a second half lead and a running back that was built for situations like this: to bleed the clock to death. However on the third play of the drive, Barkley went down hard on the football and was in obvious pain. I cannot remember a time where the entire stadium let out a collective, fearful gasp like that. It goes to show just how vital this kid is to not only the offense, but the entire organization. He walked off the field and missed the rest of that drive.

NYG pressed forward, however. They converted two straight 3rd downs but faulted on the next one, as the offensive line started to falter. Manning was sacked for a 9-yard loss from the CHI 30, putting them just out of field goal range and forcing them to give the ball back to the Daniel-led offense. The defense had to step up and make a stop. And make a stop they did.

BW Webb forced a fumble after the catch by Taylor Gabriel that was recovered by Sean Chandler. NYG had a 7 point lead with the ball in their possession with just over 2 minutes left.

A holding penalty by fullback Elijah Penny pushed them back 10 yards and made a game-sealing first down unrealistic, but NYG did get past the 2 minute warning and put another 3 points on the board via a Rosas field goal. It was 27-17 with 1:49 left when CHI took back the ball.

The Bears used some chunk-gains via passes to Robinson and Cohen in addition to a roughing-the-passer penalty by Chandler to get all the way inside the NYG 5-yard line. Chicago opted for the 3 points so that they could take a shot in the dark on an onsides kick, as it was a 2-possession game. That shot in the dark worked out well, as they recovered. The Bears then used every bit of game clock to march down the field. And with 3 seconds left, they ran a reverse to Cohen who threw the ball into the end zone to Anthony Miller for the game-tying score. This one was headed to overtime.

NYG won the toss and took the ball first. They wasted no time giving the ball to their best player. Barkley gained 29 yards on the first play and with a couple completions to Sterling Shepard, who was also playing through pain, NYG took the lead back 30-27. CHI had one more shot.

They made it just shy of midfield but a slippery ball and a productive pass rush put an end to the sloppy-CHI offensive surge. The defense came up with the stop that they needed the most.

NYG wins 30-27.

QUARTERBACKS

-Eli Manning: 19/35 – 170 yards – 1 TD / 1 INT. Now that the offensive line has at last somewhat stabilized, we are starting to get a stronger grasp on what Eli Manning is at this point in his career. In this one, on a somewhat slipper/rainy day, Manning was off. He was horrid in the first half, going 7-17 and an interception in addition to 2-3 more near INTs. He really didn’t connect on difficult passes, although he threw a beautiful ball that should have sealed the win to Sterling Shepard in overtime, but Shepard dropped it. Manning can be trusted when the game is on the line, but his lack of movement away from pressure both in and out of the pocket really limits this offense.

RUNNING BACKS

-Saquon Barkley: 24 att / 125 yards – 3 rec / 21 yards. Chalk up another 100+ total yard performance for the rookie, his 10th of the season. The Giants are now 3-0 when Barkley 20+ carries and as I said last week, that will be as important as a barometer for his team to hit as any in the coming years. His presence in the backfield changes how the defense lines up, plain and simple. There aren’t many backs in the NFL that have that kind of impact. Barkley’s 22-yard run before halftime and 29-yard run to begin overtime were the two biggest offensive plays of the day for NYG. Keep giving this kid the ball guys, it is turning into a no brainer.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Odell Beckham: 3 rec / 35 yards – 1 pass att / 49 yards – 1 TD. Beckham’s biggest play of the day came on his second pass of the season. 2 passes, 2 touchdowns for OBJ. Beckham also had a few key blocks on the outside and it refreshing to see his effort out there. The onsides kick where he made a business decision to not pursue the ball because of the likelihood he would have been trucked did rightfully bother some. If this were a playoff spot on the line and that happened, everyone would have a right to be enraged. But I will say this, part of the game is avoiding injury and it isn’t too different than Manning falling to the ground as a pass rusher gets near him. So don’t play the double standard game. One more thing regarding Beckham; I would like to see this scheme find more ways to get him the ball. I see so many offenses have no issues getting the ball to their top receivers and it just seems like it is too much of a struggle with Beckham. They need to figure that out.

-Sterling Shepard: 4 rec / 28 yards. Shepard was hurt early, it looked like some sort of abdominal or ribcage strain. He played through the pain but didn’t impact the game from a volume perspective, but did come up with 2 key catches in overtime. He did miss his opportunity at a game winning, overtime catch in the end zone as he just didn’t track the ball while moving vertically, something I have noticed about him a few times.

-Backups Russell Shepard and Bennie Fowler combined for 3 catches / 70 yards. Both had big plays in different fashions. Shepard came up with the 49-yard Beckham TD pass, thus it got more publicity. However, Fowler’s 3rd and 11 catch and tough-earned yards after that netted a first down in the 4th quarter allowed the clock to keep running for what turned out to be another 4+ minutes, which was huge.

TIGHT ENDS

-Rhett Ellison: 4 rec / 42 yards. Ellison was the team’s leading receiver ironically. Since he has stepped in for Evan Engram as the starting tight end, this team’s running game has been more productive and the position’s production in the passing game hasn’t skipped a beat.

-Scott Simonson: 2 rec / 25 yards. While he did come up with a couple key blocks in addition to a tough 3rd down catch that ended up being pretty crucial, he was flagged 3 times on the day. Way too much for anyone, let alone a guy that played under 40% of the snaps.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

-With the amount that Bears DE Khalil Mack is moved around, both Nate Solder and Chad Wheeler had a tall task placed on their shoulders. Solder responded well finishing with 1 TFL but no sacks or pressures allowed. While he does make Manning rush a bit as he gets walked into the pocket, his overall play has leveled off a bit. Wheeler, on the other hand, had one of his worst games of the season. He allowed 2 sacks, 2 pressures, and a TFL. He really couldn’t sustain his position against power and his balance was off all afternoon. Not a good combination.

GUARDS/CENTER

-Solid day for the guards. Both Will Hernandez and Jamon Brown finished with positive grades. Hernandez was really productive when he pulled. That is where his power/foot speed combination are at its best. He still has work to do as a pass blocker, as he was flagged for a hold, but he continues to be the most consistent OL on this team. Brown was solid in both departments. He finished with the highest grade among the OL in this one. NYG is 3-1 since he has been added to the team.

-Spencer Pulley continues to be the weak point of the middle. He allowed a sack and a TFL, as he was not match for Akiem Hicks, one of the better run defenders in the league.

EDGE

-Very solid, disruptive game from Olivier Vernon. 5 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 pressures, 1 TFL, and 1 forced fumble. That is a stat line that anyone and everyone would gush over if it weren’t Vernon, to be honest. While he remains one of the most up-and-down players on a defense that has been very up-and-down as a whole, his level of play on the outside is on a completely different level than everyone else within the edge group.

-Kareem Martin added 5 tackles and a TFL of his own, as he was very solid in the first half. He, along with Kerry Wynn, had a few key spots in big moments on 3rd down.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

BJ Hill put in a career game, as I’m not sure he will ever record 3 sacks in a single game again. They were his only 3 tackles of the day, but he displayed top tier technique and punch off the line. He was approaching the “dominant” level in the second half when it came to snap-by-snap impact.

-Dalvin Tomlinson was as active as we’ve seen him all year. He finished with 7 tackles and 2 TFL along with a pressure. He really is a better athlete than some give him credit for and knowing how Bettcher built his defensive line in ARI, it makes sense why he has enough confidence in the second-year pro to take over for Damon Harrison at NT. His range within the tackle box is wide and he really brings a physical presence.

-Josh Mauro, Mario Edwards, and RJ McIntosh essentially split backup snaps. Edwards continues to be the aggressive, up-field penetrator, but this week it got him into trouble. He was flagged twice, one of which was on a 3rd down stop. Mauro continues to be Mr. Stout inside and McIntosh is still getting his feet wet, showing some good athletic ability.

LINEBACKERS

-Alec Ogletree has been getting the rough end of these game reviews for most of the year, but he deserves the game ball in this one. A team-leading 10 tackles in addition to 2 athletic interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown in the 1st quarter, were integral to NYG winning this game. He was active in pursuit and stout between the tackles. Excellent game from him, his best as a Giant.

-Tae Davis and Ukeme Eligwe split snaps next to Ogletree. Davis has been struggling to play between the tackles, as he is almost-woefully undersized and came from a low level of college football. Eligwe flashed a few times. He is more physical, stouter, and showed plus-burst as a blitzer, recording 3 tackles and a pressure.

CORNERBACKS

-Don’t put it in the books yet, but the Janoris Jenkins / BW Webb duo has actually been grading out as one of the top 10 CB duos in the NFL over the past 8 weeks. They have both been flying around all over the field and defending deep routes exceptionally well. Part of what they do well can only be seen on the All-22 tape, but these two are really holding it down in a league where playing corner is almost impossible. Jenkins finished with 3 pass break ups and Webb finished with 1 of his own in addition to a forced fumble that NYG recovered.

-Grant Haley was flying all over the field. He finished with 8 tackles and 2 TFL. I’ve said this before but it keeps happening over and over; Haley may be small but this kid is really tough and physical. His quickness and burst are near top-tier but combining his toughness and knack for ball reactions with them makes him a legit candidate to be a very good player for this defense next year. This is a really important stretch for him.

SAFETIES

Landon Collins continues to factor vs the run, finishing with 5 tackles and a TFL. He continues to get burned in man coverage. This time it was Tarik Cohen not once, but twice. I don’t want to beat a dead horse here.

-Curtis Riley and Michael Thomas are solid role players who get exposed with the more snaps they get. Riley dropped an interception that was essentially thrown right to him. I guess that why he is plays on defense. Thomas got flagged for holding as CHI was making their 4th quarter comeback but he did play Cohen in coverage well a few times.

-Rookie Sean Chandler saw a season high 21 snaps. This coaching staff really likes him and I think with the instability that Riley plays with, we may see more. He recovered the fumble forced by Webb in the 4th quarter but was flagged for a low hit on QB Daniels during the 4th quarter comeback by CHI. They eased Haley into the rotation and now I think Chandler is next.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 3/3 (Made 57-37-44). Rosas is on fire and he was a vital piece to this win. His 57 yarder is a franchise record and his 44 yarder in overtime is as pressure-heavy as it gets. He deserves strong Pro Bowl consideration.

-P Riley Dixon: 7 punts – 44.3 avg – 42.1 net. Dixon was on the field often in this one, a season high 7 punts. That 42.1 net is very solid and he put one inside the 5-yard line.

-Jawill Davis averaged 12 yards per punt return, a very good number and Corey Coleman’s cooled off a bit after a few strong weeks as the team’s KR.

3 STUDS

-LB Alec Ogletree, DT BJ Hill, K Aldrick Rosas

3 DUDS

-OT Chad Wheeler, QB Eli Manning, S Landon Collins

3 THOUGHTS ON CHI

This is a hard team to gauge. They’ve had a few convincing wins and lost 4 games by a combined 14 points (7 of which came against the Patriots). I think their defense is as balanced as any team in the league and happens to host arguably the most dominant edge talent out there. Once Mitch Trubisky comes back, their QB position is stabilized and I think this team is one of 3 contenders for the NFC, the other to being LAR and NO.

-What I don’t like from a consistency standpoint is their OL play. These guys were really beat badly by an average to below average NYG defensive line. If they run into a team that can really get after the passer, that could end up being their undoing.

-Tarik Cohen is one of the most exciting players in the NFL and I think we are only seeing a glimpse of what he will be. He is the only player that I legitimately compared to Darren Sproles when he was coming out of college. Sproles has had a fantastic career, especially when he has played for offensive minds that know how to use him. CHI seems to have figured it out and he could be a guy that ends up having a better career than Sproles in today’s NFL.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-This was an interesting game that I think can be looked back on if this core group/coaching staff ever turn it around. The offense struggled in the first half but they were picked up by the defense. Then, in the second half, the defense struggled but they were picked up by the offense. It is amazing how many roller coasters a team can go through in a single game but the ones that stay even keel and take advantage of the opportunities given to them are the winners. This is part of developing a winning culture that I think is so vital to year after year success which is why we should all want this team to win every week.

-The biggest difference this offense will see in the post-Manning era, whenever that is, will be a QB creating on his own under duress. That has never been a strong suit of Eli’s game, but it’s near non-existent at the moment. This offense has a ton more potential with a guy who can move around and is considered a plus-athlete. The options with this personnel are limitless, especially if the OL can be shored up.

-As I get deeper into the scouting process for the 2019 Draft and as I watch more of NYG, the right tackle position may need to be a focal point. Wheeler shows admirable effort and hustle. He has come a long way since being an UDFA, no question. But if this OL needs to be a top 10 unit, maybe even a top 5 unit, Wheeler won’t be a part of it. He just can’t do it week to week. I think his role here is important, however. He can be the backup swing tackle who will be relied on in spurts. But I just don’t think he is going to get over the hump as a weekly starter.

Dec 042018
 
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Eric Kennedy of BigBlueInteractive.com and Greg Breton of the ManCave Huddle join YES Network’s Chris Shearn on his latest “And…We’re Off” podcast. We discuss the New York Giants dramatic overtime victory over the Chicago Bears, including the play of Eli Manning, Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham, Alec Ogletree, Landon Collins, and the offensive line. We discuss Head Coach Pat Shurmur, and weigh in on whether it is better to win or lose these final games of the 2018 season.

Dec 022018
 
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Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants (December 2, 2018)

Janoris Jenkins – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 30 – CHICAGO BEARS 27…
The New York Giants blew a 10-point lead against the Chicago Bears with less than two minutes to play, but persevered to win the game in overtime, 30-27, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday afternoon. With the win, the Giants improved their overall record to 4-8.

The Giants jumped out to a quick 7-0 advantage when linebacker Alec Ogletree intercepted a pass from quarterback Chase Daniel at the 8-yard line and returned it for a touchdown. Then both teams exchanged punts twice before the Bears tied the game by driving 70 yards in 10 plays. Daniel hit tight end Adam Shaheen for a 2-yard score.

Momentum continued to swing in the direction of the Bears as quarterback Eli Manning was picked off on the ensuing drive, setting up Chicago near midfield at the end of the first quarter. However, the Giants got the ball back when Ogletree intercepted his second pass, this one at the New York 14-yard line, returning it 20 yards.

After the Giants went three-and-out twice and the Bears once, Chicago took the lead on a 7-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. The Bears now led 14-7.

The Giants punted for the fifth time in the first half on the ensuing possession. The Bears went three-and-out and New York received the ball with 1:14 before halftime. Although the Giants only picked up 18 yards, place kicker Aldrick Rosas kicked a 57-yard field goal with no time left on the clock. It was the longest field goal in New York Giants’ team history.

At the half, the Bears led 14-10.

The Giants started the second half on a high note. After receiving the kickoff, the Giants picked up 26 yards on three plays. Then the Giants ran a trick play that had wide receiver Odell Beckham pass the ball to a wide-open wide receiver Russell Shepard for a 49-yard touchdown. The Giants now led 17-14.

After forcing the Bears to go three-and-out, the Giants put together a 13-play, 60-yard drive that ended with a Manning-to-Beckham 1-yard touchdown pass on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line. The Giants were now up 24-14 with four minutes left in the third quarter.

The Bears picked up two first downs on their subsequent drive but were forced to punt. After a three-and-out by the Giants, the Bears finally managed to put together a scoring drive by moving the ball 56 yards in seven plays to set up a 36-yard field goal. Giants 24 – Bears 17.

With just over nine minutes to go in the game, the Giants drove the ball from their own 8-yard line to the Bears’ 30-yard line. However, a 9-yard sack on 3rd-and-8 took the Giants out of field goal range. The ensuing punt was downed by the Giants at the 2-yard line. On Chicago’s first offensive snap, cornerback B.W. Webb forced wide receiver Taylor Gabriel to fumble, which was recovered at the Chicago 13-yard line by safety Sean Chandler.

At this point, it appeared the game was all but officially won. But New York did not manage the clock well in the final 2:19 of the game. The Giants lost six yards and settled for three points after only taking 30 seconds off of the clock. Still, New York was up 27-17 with 1:49 left to play.

The Bears’ first score was aided by a 32-yard pass completion and 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty on Chandler. This moved the ball to the New York 8-yard line where Chicago was forced to settle for a 21-yard field goal with 1:13 left.

Then disaster struck when a less-than-aggressive Beckham did not handle the onsides kickoff. The Bears recovered at the Chicago 47-yard line. The Bears completed a 23-yard pass on 4th-and-3 down to the New York 9-yard line with 11 seconds to play. After two incompletions, Webb was called for pass interference, giving Chicago a 1st-and-goal situation at the 1-yard line with three seconds left in the game. The Bears then ran their own trick play, a halfback pass by Tarik Cohen to wide receiver Anthony Miller with no time on the clock.

The game was tied 27-27 and headed to overtime.

The Giants won the toss. Running back Saquon Barkley picked up 29 yards on the first play of the drive. On 3rd-and-2, Manning found wide receiver Sterling Shepard for an 8-yard completion to the Chicago 30-yard line. The Giants only manged four more yards, but it was enough to set up a successful 44-yard field goal by Rosas. The Bears now needed to score on their ensuing possession or lose the game.

The Bears kept things interesting by gaining 10 yards on 4th-and-7. Then on 4th-and-8 from the Chicago 40-yard line, the Giants came with an all-out blitz. Daniel threw a deep ball to wideout Taylor Gabriel, but cornerback Janoris Jenkins had perfect coverage over the middle and knocked the ball away to win the game.

Offensively, Manning finished the game 19-of-35 for 170 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. His leading receivers were tight end Rhett Ellison (4 catches for 42 yards) and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (4 catches for 28 yards). Barkley rushed for 125 yards on 24 carries.

Defensively, the Giants forced three turnovers. Ogletree picked off two passes, one which he returned for a score. The Giants also accrued five sacks, three by defensive lineman B.J. Hill and two by linebacker Olivier Vernon. The Giants were also credited with 10 tackles for losses and seven pass defenses.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were tight end Evan Engram (hamstring), linebacker B.J. Goodson (neck), linebacker Lorenzo Carter (hip), quarterback Alex Tanney, center Evan Brown, nose tackle John Jenkins, and safety Kamrin Moore.

Wide receiver Sterling Shepard (ribs), linebacker Tae Davis (ankle), and safety Landon Collins (shoulder) were all dinged up in the game.

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

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

Nov 302018
 
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Bears at Giants in the Polo Grounds (December 6, 1925)

Game Preview: Chicago Bears at New York Giants, December 2, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
With four minutes left before halftime at Lincoln Financial Field last week, New York Giants fans finally had a reason to smile. Winners of two straight, the Giants looked primed to win their third game in a row, with the added benefit of finally running roughshod over the hated Philadelphia Eagles. The defending Super Bowl champions were back on their heels, as Saquon Barkley had just ripped off a spectacular 51-yard touchdown run, his second TD of the day. The Giants led 19-3. The offensive game plan was working. An undermanned defense was holding the Eagles in check. Yet by 4PM, all of those positive thoughts and emotions were gone. And Giants fans were left with yet another painfully disheartening loss in what has becoming an embarrassingly one-sided rivalry.

There was a lot to unpack in last Sunday’s loss, including some horrific officiating that DID help to decide the game. But three things stood out to me:

  1. Strongest evidence yet that Pat Shurmur is not cut out to be a head coach. Clock mismanagement has become a serious issue with him. Sitting Barkley after the Eagles had cut the score to 19-14 in the 3rd quarter, and giving the player who was killing the Eagles only five second-half touches, suggests a lack of feel for the game. And his Sunday and Monday post-mortem media sessions were real head-scratchers. I’m a little wary of completely writing the guy off because I can remember a bunch of games that even Giants greats like Bill Parcells and Tom Coughlin blew, but I’m not feeling it with Shurmur. “But John Mara would never fire a coach after just one season!” Probably true. But that doesn’t make it the correct decision.
  2. The run defense, which was supposed to a team strength, has become a problem. As bad as the New York offense was in the second half of last week’s game, the run defense was just as guilty for the loss. Even with the departure of Damon Harrison, guys like Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill were supposed to be able to hold down the fort. They haven’t. The Eagles knew they were going to win last week once they discovered the Giants couldn’t stop what had been a bottom-tier run offense.
  3. Eli… oh Eli… Two very strong games in a row, including one game where he threw only one incompletion. The early warning signs were there. He badly missed seeing a wide open target on the 2-point conversion. But the real killer was his horrifically dumb and costly interception into double/triple coverage at the end of the first half, ignoring another wide-open target, which cost the Giants certain points. Psychologically, this may have been the biggest mistake of the game. Even at age 37, Eli still makes these head-scratching throws. Once the line play deteriorated in the second half, so did Manning’s play, as New York only generated three second-half points.

So why am I rehashing all of this in what is supposed to be a preview for the Chicago Bears? Because I think the storyline for this game is going to be how competitive the Giants are going to be against one of the best teams in the NFC. If Shurmur is going to lose this team, now is the time after last week’s devastating loss, which not only ended any desperate hope for a late playoff run, but was emotionally draining and open to coaching criticism.

If the Giants play hard and keep it close, Pat Shurmur will gain respect in my eyes. But if this team starts to tank, John Mara had better reconsider all of his options.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • TE Evan Engram (hamstring – out)
  • DE Kerry Wynn (concussion – probable)
  • LB Lorenzo Carter (hip – questionable)
  • LB B.J. Goodson (neck – out)
  • LB Tae Davis (ankle – probable)
  • CB Grant Haley (hamstring – probable)
  • S Curtis Riley (shoulder – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:

This could get ugly. Really ugly. The Chicago Bears are 4th in defense (3rd in scoring defense, 2nd in rushing defense, 11th in passing defense). Chicago has forced a lead-leading 29 turnovers (20 of which are interceptions). They have sacked opposing quarterbacks 34 times (five off of the league-leading Steelers).

To me, much depends on how the offensive line responds. This unit had been playing better for two and a half games before falling apart again in last week’s second half. Not coincidentally, what had been an improving scoring offense went back into a shell. So does the front five rebound or regress? It’s hard to see the Giants scoring more than 13-17 points if the offensive line doesn’t rebound.

So much of New York’s future success or failure depends on what they do at quarterback. Eli is 37 years old and clearly nearing the end. He says he wants to play his entire career with the Giants and has a no-trade clause. He has one year left on his contract and will count about $22 million against the 2019 salary cap. Behind him are journeyman Alex Tanney and rookie Kyle Lauletta. After the Bears game, there are only four games left, and it appears that Lauletta still is not taking 2nd-team snaps during practice. Thus, the Giants will head into the 2019 offseason being forced to assume they will need to draft a QB high in the 2019 NFL Draft. And Eli will probably be back for one last season. This entire thing has the feel of postponing the inevitable and wasting time.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:

The 23rd-ranked (25th in scoring) New York Giants defense can’t stop the run (26th) or pass (18th). They can’t sack the opposing quarterback (14 in 11 games) or force turnovers (13). And with a game on the line, they can’t hold a lead. Besides that, everything is wonderful.

Chicago will be playing their back-up quarterback this week. That’s another kiss of death for the Giants.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:

If it were not for Saquon Barkley’s superlative rookie season, Aldrick Rosas would be the team MVP.

THE FINAL WORD:
The stands will be empty. And the empty gray seats will likely reflect the mood of the day. All of this would be somewhat acceptable if there was a sense that there was a viable rebuilding plan under proper leadership. But I still question whether John Mara has the right people in place. The Giants appear to be living in the past.