Jan 052022
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (January 2, 2022)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

On the opening night of the 2021 NFL Draft, NYG and CHI paired together for one of the biggest trades of the weekend. CHI traded up, offering their own first rounder, a fifth rounder, and 2022 1st and 4th round picks. It was quite the haul on paper for NYG, and CHI finally got their hands on a big time QB prospect, Ohio State’s Justin Fields. Fast forward to week 17 of the 2021 season. The two teams were a combined 9-21, they were both bottom-5 in offensive yards per play, and their 1st round picks (Fields and Kadarius Toney) were both on the sidelines with respective injuries. The two have played in just a combined 17 out of 32 possible games. The futures are looking bleak for the two storied franchises, cornerstones of the NFL in two of the biggest markets in the country. Both general managers are unlikely to be back and both head coaches are on the hot seat. Bears vs. Giants, one of the most irrelevant games of the NFL season.

The struggles of the NYG offensive line have been beaten into our minds over and over for close a decade now. I know it gets old reading about it and, trust me, it has gotten even older to write about it. On the first play of the game, Mike Glennon was sacked by Trevis Gipson, forcing a fumble that was scooped up by Bilal Nichols and returned to the NYG 2-yard line. CHI running back David Montgomery scored a play later to give CHI the 7-0 lead before 19 seconds ticked off of the game clock. NYG gained 20 yards on 4 rushing plays on their next drive before they tried to drop back and throw the ball again. Glennon then proceeded to throw an interception to Tashaun Gipson. CHI turned that into another 7 points, this time a pass from Andy Dalton to Darnell Mooney. The 5-10 Bears were up 14-0 less than 7 minutes after the game began. It was the first-time all-season CHI scored more than 7 points in the opening quarter.

The next NYG drive ended with NYG trying to throw again. Glennon was sacked. Drive over. The two horrid offenses traded a few scoreless drives. NYG was actually having some per-play success on the ground which shouldn’t have caught anyone off guard. CHI’s run defense came in having allowed the 24th-most rushing yards in the league (3rd least against the pass). NYG did all they could in regard to the offensive game plan to maximize the disparity. Extra linemen, Saquon Barkley in the wildcat, and a 21:4 run/pass ratio on their first 25 plays. The issue was an immediate 14-0 deficit. A 38-yard field goal brought the sore to 14-3, but a 21-yard field goal by CHI quickly restored the lead back to two touchdowns.

With 1:00 left in the first half, a blunder on the kick return by Pharoh put NYG on their own 5-yard line. Devontae Booker lost 3 yards on the first play, Derrick Kelly was flagged for a false start on the next play, and all the sudden the NYG offense that had a front line less sturdy than water trying to simply get the clock to run out in desperation to avoid a safety. It did not work. Booker was tackled for a loss, giving CHI another 2 points via the safety :46 left. It ended up being enough time for CHI to move the ball into field goal range, getting CHI yet another 3 points via a 44-yard kick through the uprights. 22-3 at the halfway point.

CHI started the second half with the ball and scored via David Montgomery’s second touchdown of the day. That would be it for the scoring. Glennon and Dalton both threw interceptions. Glennon lost another fumble on another sack. NYG turned the ball over on downs. CHI running back Montgomery threw an interception, yes you read that right. This turned into as close to an unwatchable game as it gets in today’s NFL. It almost seemed like we weren’t even watching professional football.

NYG loses 29-3.

QUARTERBACK

-Mike Glennon: 4/11 – 24 yards / 0 TD – 2 INT / 5.3 RAT

Add in the four fumbles (2 lost), and we are talking about worst quarterback and overall passing-performance in the NFL this season and right up there with the worst we have ever seen within this franchise. That will be a theme of this review. Worst, ever. Glennon once again was overmatched by a defense that is one of the best in the league against the pass. Partially because he doesn’t belong on the field, partially because the support system around him is at a near all-time low. I don’t want to give Glennon a pass. On multiple occasions, he held on to the ball too long, made errant throws, and did not find the open man.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 21 att – 102 yards

For the first time since 12/22/19, Barkley rushed for over 100 yards. He hit that mark 7 times as a rookie in 2018. This game against CHI was only the 9th time since. The poor CHI run defense helped the cause here. One more observation I will share in regard to Barkley’s current skill set: hHis burst and straight-line acceleration are there. I expect them to be even better next season. What seems to be missing is the agility-speed. He is losing too much momentum and needing too much time to change direction and alter his path. When it comes to athleticism, that is most important for a back.

WIDE RECEIVER

-David Sills was the only receiver to walk away from this game with a catch. Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse than what we saw a week ago against PHI, this happens. I wish I had more for you guys regarding this position, but I don’t. Kenny Golladay was thrown to once, Pharaoh Cooper twice, and Sills once. When an offense looks like this top to bottom, the receivers are the ones you just can’t truly evaluate.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram tied for the team-lead in receiving on his 1 catch, which was 12 yards. The coaching staff opted to bring in help via extra linemen on running plays. Engram’s performance there has always been poor, and they seem to have phased him out of that role for the most part. Kyle Rudolph performed better in the trenches, as expected.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Tackles Andrew Thomas and Nate Solder both played every snap. Thomas allowed 1 sack late in the game, but otherwise was very solid. He seemed to get out of his stance late and just couldn’t make up that time to the edge. Solder allowed 2 sacks and looked overmatched. I cannot wait until the day I know longer have to study his tape and write his name. He’s been done for a long time now.

-Matt Skura played center for Billy Price. Please do not mistake me for a Price apologist, I don’t think he is a starting-caliber player. However, you can easily see the gap between him and a guy like Skura who was downright awful. He allowed 3 TFL and a pressure. CHI is really strong along the interior defensive line, and they give plenty of players a handful, but Skura did not belong on the field with them. What a rough end of year for him!

-Will Hernandez allowed a TFL and a sack. Both of those negative plays were textbook for what you tell an offensive lineman NOT to do. He was actually very good on the gap-blocking when he could get on his man straight ahead and try to bulldoze. Wherever he ends up in 2022, and it better not be here, he will need to be employed in a more gap-blocking than zone scheme. But even then, he just can’t pass block.

-Wes Martin, Derrick Kelly, and Ben Bredeson rotated at left guard. None of them stood out in any positive manner. Martin was the worst, allowing 2 TFL. Bredeson is the only one I would want on this roster moving forward.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-I continue to be impressed with the hustle and grit we are seeing from Leonard Williams. He led the team with 8 tackles and 2 pressures while playing with an injured elbow. He has become a barometer for the versatile DL prospects I scout. I usually use 2-3 guys from around the league from every position as the ceiling and Williams is one of them. Austin Johnson added 5 tackles, building off his solid season (maybe the best of his career).

-Because Dexter Lawrence and Danny Shelton were out with Covid, we saw an uptick in playing time for David Moa. The second-year undrafted free agent was overwhelmed at the point-of-attack. CHI was running over him with a lot of success.

-We didn’t see much from Raymond Johnson III or Woodrow Hamilton. They didn’t play much, and when they did, there wasn’t much to note in either a positive or negative way.

LINEBACKER

-If this team was in contention, we would be celebrating the signing of Jaylon Smith a bit more. He’s brought the needed combination of speed and power to the front. He had 7 tackles and a sack. I will say this: I can see where teams like GB and DAL didn’t see the scheme-fit. He is very much a freelancer who evades gaps and kind of does his own thing. When it works, he makes plays. When it doesn’t, the defense can get torched. It will be interesting to see what happens in free agency. Get him in the right scheme and I think it can work out in a big way.

-Tae Crowder had 6 tackles and missed 2. He also had a garbage-time interception.

-Lorenzo Carter, yet again, continued his late-season surge. He had 6 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, and a PD to earn the team’s highest grade. Even some things that do not show up in the box score were impressive. His backside pursuit and angles were outstanding. Carter is playing with a ton of hustle and is finishing his hits with power. This will be one of the more interesting guys to watch this offseason because he is now playing very well, and the coaching staff loves him.

-The trio of rookie Azeez Ojulari, Quincy Roche, and Elerson Smith did not have a lot to look back on. Ojulari had a TFL and a PD but was shut down as a pass rusher. Roche added 5 tackles but had several negatives on my scoring sheet when it came to run defense. He also didn’t pressure the quarterback. Smith played about a third of the snaps and finished with 1 pressure where, once again, his technique and bend were on display. He just isn’t stout enough for quality run defense especially when he is inside the tackle or head up.

CORNERBACK

-James Bradberry had a solid game in a tough matchup against Allen Robinson. He had an interception and broke up 2 passes. Adoree’ Jackson lined up as the starter on the other side and finished with 4 tackles. He gave up a lot on crossing routes.

-Rookie Aaron Robinson was beat for a touchdown and was lucky to not be beaten for a second one. He had a hard time playing sticky to the quicker Mooney who has quietly become one of the more underrated receivers in football. Robinson, like almost all young corners, has shown a lot of back and forth to this point. I think he is going to be a solid player though; I like how he responds to getting beat.

SAFETY

-Logan Ryan was all over the field. He had 5 tackles and 2 pass break ups. He dropped 2 interceptions. He was consistently at the right place, right time but he didn’t seal the deal on those 2 occasions.

-Xavier McKinney added 6 tackles and an impressive pass break up down the field where he came from midfield and showed the range we have seen several times. That is hard to find in this league and McKinney has it.

-Julian Love didn’t play much. I am interested to find out what the deal is with their usage of him. He has been all over the place this season with his snap counts even though I think he can be an incredibly valuable player in the secondary with his versatility.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 1/1 (Made 38)
-P Riley Dixon: 4 punts / 39.0 avg – 38.8 net

3 STUDS

-OLB Lorenzo Carter, RB Saquon Barkley, S Logan Ryan

3 DUDS

-QB Mike Glennon, OC Matt Skura, OG Wes Martin

3 THOUGHTS ON CHI

(1) There are some similarities between CHI and NYG. Their roots come from strong defensive football and the running game. Their cold-weather setting, hot/cold fan base, and place in NFL history still mean something. However, their inconsistent management and poor front-office performances have made the teams lose touch with what made them such a big deal in this league. CHI Ryan Pace has dropped the ball on so many occasions, but his track record far exceeds what NYG has dealt with. I do believe they are on the track toward contention but Pace, like Gettleman, needs to go. He was hired in 2015 and the team has gone 48-64 since and their salary cap is in poor condition.

(2) CHI is second in the NFL in sacks and that is with their premier rusher Khalil Mack playing in just 7 games. Robert Quinn is the main catalyst here, leading the league with 18 sacks. But what else has created one of the better pass defenses? Their second level (linebackers and box-safeties) have been superb. The NFL is such a quick-strike league and that part of the field needs to be better than just OK at coverage. They need to be fast, they need to be smart, and they need to react quickly. When looking at what NYG needs to elevate their defense, it can’t only be about the pass rush. It should start there, but I will be tapping on the door in the coming months reminding how much this team needs another inside linebacker and possibly a box safety.

(3) How close are the Bears? I think they are VERY close. Their record does not indicate where I think they currently sit. Not having a 1st rounder in 2022 will hurt a bit, but this will all come down to Fields taking the step up and the team finding more OL help. They won’t have the money to go out and get someone, but with how deep this OL class is coming up, I think they can find a legit starter on the outside in round 2. Fix that, get some more help next to Roquan Smith at LB, get Mack back in the fold, and this team can be a 9+ win team in a hurry.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

(1) The worst 2 games of Glennon’s 9-year career have come in the last 3 weeks. He has been on some bad, bad teams including the Jaguars last year. We are currently hearing a lot of talk about how Judge should be given a pass based on how rough the NYG roster and injury situations are. I go the other way. NYG wasn’t dealt a good deck of cards, I agree. Some bad luck and some really bad front office decisions. But how is anyone going to tell me this coaching staff is adjusting game plans to maximize the potential of the team? Nobody is winning 9 games with this roster, that isn’t the point. This is a team that cannot even compete with anyone in the league. Good coaching staffs will find a way to be competitive for at least part of the game. Instead, we are watching Matt Skura pull from his OC position and attempts to block a blitzing OLB? We are watching deep drop backs in the passing game? We are rotating the left guard, but not Will Hernandez? We still use play-action and pre-snap motion at near-bottom rates?

(2) One more game to watch, and then it is finally the offseason for NYG. I love football and I have an appreciation for NYG because they were the team I followed growing up. I now watch them as much as I watch everyone else in the league, but I still find myself pulling for them as do many of you. I get paid to do what I do, and I have aspirations to take this further. All that said, these games are actually hard to watch. I feel like I’m not even watching football. It looks like a high school game…one of those high school games where one team is playing with not one kid who will play in college against a team loaded with Division 1 recruits. That is the only comparison I can think of.

(3) Seeing all of the off-the-field talk brewing like a bad summer thunderstorm overhead is disheartening. Pat Hanlon losing control and flexing on Twitter, former scout Steve Verderosa finding ways to trash the organization publicly (he may be writing a behind-the-scenes book too), and a few other media outlets giving some damning information on ownership has made this organization look like an even bigger league-wide joke. Perhaps this is what we need, however, to get things truly shaken up beyond just a new coach. These are dark days, we all already know that. History as a way of repeating itself for those who choose to ignore it.

Jan 022022
 
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CHICAGO BEARS 29 – NEW YORK GIANTS 3…
The Chicago Bears, one of the NFL’s worst teams, absolutely bitch-slapped the pathetic New York Giants 29-3 on Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. It was the fifth loss in a row for the Giants, who are now 4-12 on the season with one game left to play. The Giants have been out-scored 141-49 in their last five games.

You want to know how bad the day was for the New York Football Giants? Starting quarterback Mike Glennon played the entire game and completed FOUR passes for 24 yards. He threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball twice, losing two to the Bears. In other words, he was responsible for as many turnovers as completions.

The Giant finished the game with -10 passing yards, the lowest in franchise history!! The team’s longest play from scrimmage was a 13-yard run by Glennon in the 4th quarter. Chicago players were spotted literally laughing at the Giants.

For all intents and purposes, the game ended on the first play from scrimmage. On 1st-and-10, Glennon was sacked by an unblocked rusher. He fumbled and the Bears returned the loose ball 12 yards to the New York 2-yard line. On the very next snap, the Bears scored the game-winning points with an easy 2-yard touchdown run. The game was basically over in 18 seconds.

The rest of the “contest” was just viewing punishment for fans of the Giants. Five plays after the Bears’ first touchdown, Glennon threw his first interception. Two drives, two turnovers. Seven plays after that, Chicago scored their second touchdown on 4th-and-1. Bears 14 – Giants 0.

After both teams exchanged punts twice, the Giants’ only scoring drive of the game came in the 2nd quarter with a 10-play, 35-yard drive set up a 38-yard field goal. All ten plays on this drive were running plays. Bears 14 – Giants 3.

With less than eight minutes to play in the 2nd quarter, the Bears responded with a 14-play, 69-yard drive that took 6:44 off of the clock and ended with a 21-yard field goal to extend the lead to 17-3.

If you already thought the game was an embarrassing for the Giants, it got worse in the last minute of the half. Returner Pharoh Cooper misjudged the kickoff that he thought was going to bounce into the end zone. It didn’t and he was forced to scramble for the loose ball at the 2-yard line and was tackled at the 5. The Giants lost four yards on the next two offensive snaps before running back Devontae Booker was tackled in the end zone for a safety. Then, after the free kick, the Bears were able to drive 39 yards to set up a 44-yard field goal with no time left. And for those keeping track, the Giants have now been out-scored 76-0 in the final two minutes of games this season.

At the half, the Bears led 22-3.

The Bears received the ball to start the 3rd quarter and immediately proceeded to put the final points of the day for either team on the scoreboard. Chicago drove 75 yards in 11 plays, tacking on another touchdown. Bears 29 – Giants 3.

New York’s final six possessions of the game resulted in two punts, two turnovers by Glennon (another interception and another fumble), a turnover on downs, and the end of the game when the Giants were just running out the clock to end their misery.

On the day, the Giants ran just 55 offensive plays. They were 1-of-11 on 3rd-down conversion attempts (9 percent) and 0-of-1 on 4th down. The Giants finished the game with just 151 total net yards (-10 passing, 161 rushing).

The Bears’ last five possessions resulted in three punts and two interceptions. The Bears were held to 249 total net yards (87 rushing, 162 passing).

Video lowlights are available at Giants.com.

ROSTER MOVES, PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
On Saturday, the Giants activated S Julian Love from the Reserve/COVID-19 List to the 53-man roster.

WR Alex Bachman and DL Woodrow Hamilton were activated from the Practice Squad to the 53-man roster for this game. In addition, the team activated WR Pharoh Cooper, WR David Sills, OT Derrick Kelly, and DL David Moa from the Practice Squad as COVID-19 replacements.

Missing the game due to COVID-19 were WR Darius Slayton, OT Korey Cunningham, DE Dexter Lawrence, and NT Danny Shelton.

Inactive for the game were WR Kadarius Toney (shoulder), WR John Ross (knee/COVID ramp), WR Collin Johnson (hamstring), OL Billy Price (personal), and LB Oshane Ximines.

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

POST-GAME NOTES…
The Giants did not score a touchdown for the third time this season and the third time in their last five games. They have scored 72 points in their last seven games and four touchdowns in the last five games.

The Giants lost their sixth consecutive road game and finished 1-8 as visitors.

The Giants finished with minus-10 net passing yards, which is the lowest in franchise history.

DAN REEVES PASSES AWAY…
Dan Reeves, who served as head coach of the New York Giants from 1993 to 1996, passed away on Saturday at the age of 77. In his four seasons with the Giants, Reeves was 31-33  in the regular season and 1-1 in the playoffs. Legendary quarterback Phil Simms and linebacker Lawrence Taylor played their last seasons on his 1993 playoff team.

“Dan Reeves had a legendary NFL career as both a player and a coach,” said team President/CEO John Mara. “He made an indelible mark on the League and all of the people he played with, coached and worked alongside. He was one of the finest men I have ever been around in this business.”

“He was a great coach, great man,” said former running back Rodney Hampton, who rushed for 4,161 yards in four seasons under Reeves. “He’s going to be truly missed… He was a teacher, too. He taught us how to be men.”

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

Dec 312021
 
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Michael Strahan, John Mara, and Steve Tisch; New York Giants (November 28, 2021)

Michael Strahan, John Mara, and Steve Tisch – © USA TODAY Sports

THE STORYLINE:
An open letter to ownership of the New York Football Giants:

Dear Mara and Tisch families,

If you are even aware of my website, I’m sure you don’t place much value in my opinion or the opinions of the many fans of your franchise who post on it. Aside from the harsh criticism your families have received from us, you probably hold the same views so famously espoused by Jim Mora in 1989:

You guys really don’t know when it’s good or bad, when it comes right down to it… And I’m promising you right now, you don’t know whether it’s good or bad. You really don’t know, because you don’t know what we’re trying to do, you guys don’t look at the films, you don’t know what happened, you really don’t know. You think you know, but you DON’T KNOW, and you never WILL, okay?

And you would be right. We don’t know what really is going on inside your franchise. And we never will know the full story. Yet while we may never know what lurks below the surface, we do see what rests on the waves. And it isn’t pretty.

Furthermore, while we may not see the full picture, you run significant risks of (1) group think, and (2) not being able to see the forest for the trees.

The fan base believes the following: NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle had to intervene in the ownership dispute between Wellington and Tim Mara in 1979, which led to the hiring of George Young who built the front office structural foundation that continues to this day. I was personally raised in an era of Giants’ football when George Young’s philosophy was “owners own, managers manage, and coaches coach.” Right or wrong, I still believe in that overall philosophy when it comes to running a sports franchise. And we all witnessed the fruits of this structure with the team appearing in five Super Bowls, winning four of them.

I don’t think most fans are suggesting ownership moves away from this philosophy. But as with any private- or public-sector organization, the success or failure of the enterprise depends on the quality of the people operating within it. You may have surrounded yourself with people you have personally become attached to, but that does not mean they are good at their jobs. Some people burn out. Others can’t adapt to changing times. Some were never really good at their jobs in the first place and don’t deserve the reputation you think they have.

We fans may not know much, but what we know is this…your franchise is broken. You have spent almost a decade spinning your wheels trying to improve the team. You are about to change general managers for the third time. You are currently on your fourth head coach. This has become a very unstable team and the rest of the league must know it too. Because George Young was the paragon of stability, this has to gnaw at you. But don’t let your fear of further instability prevent you from doing what is necessary to structurally fix this mess once and for all.

Let’s cut to the chase and be brutally honest here. You messed up. It’s OK. We’re all human. It happens. Ernie Accorsi’s two GM recommendations did not work out. Dave Gettleman told you what you wanted to hear, that is, you didn’t need to completely rebuild the team, you still have time to win with Eli Manning. That was a huge error. Now the fear is you will likely be swayed by GM and possibly HC candidates who tell you what you want to hear, that is, we can still win with Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. The alternative is almost too painful to contemplate, the team blew the #2 and #6 picks in the draft. Don’t fall into that trap again. If mistakes were made, no matter how catastrophic, move on. Or you will remain in the same position you are in right now. Purgatory.

I have three unsolicited recommendations for you:

(1) Use non-team-related surrogates you trust to ask around the NFL what others think of your team, including ownership, front office, and player personnel. Actually listen to what others are saying. You won’t like what you hear, but you need to hear the truth, not what people know you want to hear.

(2) For Christ’s sake, get your family members out of the personnel department. Even if they are good at their jobs, which is a matter open for debate, this is a terrible look for you and your franchise. The negatives far outweigh the positives. And those family members who are involved in the day-to-day, front office positions should fully recognize this themselves. Do what is right for the organization.

(3) Don’t be afraid to blow this up again. You may like Joe Judge, but he has not earned any political capital to influence what you do moving forward. Any QUALITY prospective GM must feel as if he can hire the coach he wants to work with. Get your GM-HC hires in sync with each other. Fans are OK with the short-term instability if they see a long-term plan. Right now, no one sees any plan. Nothing is getting better. It’s only getting worse. Your moves should not be reactive, based appeasing the angry masses, but simply putting the team on the right path. The added benefit is the fans will eventually come along when the product improves.

On a final note, you do run a significant risk here if the team remains a bottom feeder. This isn’t the 1970’s anymore where young people will blindly follow a losing franchise because their parents did. Worse, you are not only losing young fans but long-time ones who are tuning the team out. The team often isn’t even competitive when losing. My interest has waned. My teenage kids want to like the team, but now they just kind of laugh at the franchise, preferring to spend their free time on more enjoyable activities. They have more to choose from than kids in the 1970s. So do the adults.

We may all sound like unappreciative, hyper-critical assholes to you. But we’re the ones still here and watching. We’re pissed because we care. The moment you stop hearing from us is when you should really start to panic. And that time is rapidly approaching.

Go Giants!

THE INJURY REPORT:
Of those on Reserve/Covid-19 List, only Julian Love and possibly Danny Shelton are likely to play.

  • RB Saquon Barkley (ankle – probable)
  • FB Cullen Gillaspia (shin – probable)
  • WR Darius Slayton (Reserve/Covid-19 List)
  • WR Kadarius Toney (shoulder – out)
  • WR John Ross (knee/COVID ramp up – out)
  • WR Collin Johnson (hamstring – out)
  • TE Kyle Rudolph (ankle – probable)
  • TE Chris Myarick (hip – questionable)
  • OL Billy Price (personal – doubtful)
  • OT Nate Solder (COVID ramp up – questionable)
  • OL Ben Bredeson (ankle – probable)
  • OL Korey Cunningham (Reserve/Covid-19 List)
  • NT Austin Johnson (foot – questionable)
  • NT Danny Shelton (Reserve/Covid-19 List)
  • DE Dexter Lawrence (Reserve/Covid-19 List)
  • DL Raymond Johnson (illness – probable)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (quad/COVID ramp up – questionable)
  • CB Keion Crossen (COVID ramp up – probable)
  • S Julian Love (Reserve/Covid-19 List)
  • PK Graham Gano (illness – probable)
Sep 202020
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (September 20, 2020)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

CHICAGO BEARS 17 – NEW YORK GIANTS 13…
The New York Giants battled back from a 17-0 first-half deficit against the Chicago Bears and almost stole the game late, being stopped 10 yards short from the go-head touchdown. The Giants lost 17-13 to the Bears and fell to 0-2 on the season. Worse for the Giants, running back Saquon Barkley may have suffered a very serious injury to his right knee. The NFL Network is reporting that Barkley suffered an ACL tear, ending his season. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard was also forced from the game with a toe injury.

The Bears received the ball to start the game and immediately drove 82 yards in 12 plays to take a 7-0 early lead on quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s 28-yard touchdown pass to running back David Montgomery. Chicago converted on four 3rd-down attempts on the drive including on 3rd-and-7 on the touchdown. Matters got immediately worse for the Giants when quarterback Daniel Jones was sacked and stripped of the football on 3rd-and-6 on the ensuing drive, setting up the Bears at the Giants’ 20-yard line. Chicago could not pick up a first down but went up 10-0 on the 34-yard field goal.

The Giants went three-and-out on their second drive. After a Chicago punt, the Giants drove to the Bears’ 28-yard line, but on 3rd-and-8, Jones threw an interception to halt the scoring threat. It was on this drive, on the first play of the 2nd quarter, when Barkley was hurt.

Both teams exchanged punts and the Bears took a commanding 17-0 lead on their final possession of the half by driving 80 yards in 11 plays, with Trubisky throwing a 15-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-8. With 14 seconds left, the Giants did gain 36 yards on two plays to set up a last-second 57-yard field goal attempt, but the kick failed.  The Giants gained only seven first downs and no points in the first half.

The Giants received the ball to start the 3rd quarter, picked up one first down, but were then forced to punt again. However, two plays later, cornerback James Bradberry tipped a pass that was intercepted by safety Julian Love and returned to the Chicago 25-yard line. New York had to settle for a 39-yard field goal as the Giants could not pick up even one first down. Bears 17 – Giants 3.

The Bears moved the ball 33 yards on their second possession of the half, but were forced to punt, pinning New York at the 5-yard line. However, the Giants responded with an impressive 11-play, 95-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run on 4th-and-goal by running back Dion Lewis early in the 4th quarter. Bears 17 – Giants 10.

The Giants got the ball back again with Bradberry picked off a deep sideline pass at the New York 34-yard line. The Giants were able to drive 47 yards in 10 plays to set up a 37-yard field goal to cut the score to 17-13. Fortunately for the Giants and Jones, a 54-yard pick-6 interception was erased by a defensive pass interference penalty on this possession.

With 7:43 left in the game, the Bears were able to drive 44 yards in 12 plays to take off 5:41 from the clock and set up a 50-yard field goal. However, the Bears missed the kick. Frustratingly for New York, Chicago was able to pick up a key 1st down on 4th-and-2 when a pass deflected by the Giants was caught for a 1st down by a Chicago offensive lineman.

Nevertheless, with 2:02 left in the game, New York had the ball at their own 40-yard line, down 17-13.  Jones threw a 22-yard pass to tight end Evan Engram on 3rd-and-10. Then on 4th-and-4, he connected with Lewis for six yards to keep the drive alive at the Chicago 26-yard line with just over half a minute to play. On 4th-and-1, Jones threw a 3-yard pass to wide receiver Darius Slayton. After Jones spiked the ball to stop the clock, New York was facing a 2nd-and-10 at the Chicago 14-yard line with eight seconds left in the game. Jones threw a 4-yard pass to Lewis. With four seconds left, Jones’ pass intended for wide receiver  Golden Tate fell incomplete as Tate was flagged with offensive pass interference. Game over.

Offensively, the Giants gained 295 yards (75 yards rushing, 220 yards passing). The team only held the football for 25:31. The Giants were 3-of-13 (23 percent) on 3rd down and 3-of-3 on 4th down. Jones completed 25-of-40 passes for 241 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. He also was sacked four times and fumbled the ball away once. The leading receiver was Engram with six catches for 65 yards. Barkley was the leading rusher with 28 yards on four carries.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 304 yards (135 yards rushing, 169 yards passing), controlling the ball for 34:29. The Bears were 9-of-16 (56 percent) on 3rd down and 1-of-1 on 4th down. The defense picked off two passes (Love and Bradberry) and garnered four sacks (defensive lineman B.J. Hill and linebackers Blake Martinez, Lorenzo Carter, and Kyler Fackrell).

Video highlights are available on Giants.com.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
With teams now allowed to activate two players from the Practice Squad on game day, the Giants activated CB Ryan Lewis and S Sean Chandler.

Inactive for the game were RB Wayne Gallman, TE Eric Tomlinson, OT Jackson Barton, DE R.J. McIntosh, LB T.J. Brunson, LB Carter Coughlin (hamstring), and S Adrian Colbert (quad).

RB Saquon Barkley (right knee) and WR Sterling Shepard (toe) were injured and did not return.

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

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

Sep 182020
 
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Game Preview: New York Giants at Chicago Bears, September 20, 2020

THE STORYLINE

In reading through last Monday’s Giants-Steelers game discussion thread, it quickly became clear to me that a lot of Giants fans are still in denial. They either can’t or won’t accept reality.

What is that reality? When you start over with a new coaching staff, you are literally starting over. The uncomfortable truth that many can’t accept is that the franchise wasted the last four years by hiring Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur. Any “building” you do with the wrong coaching staff is erased when you hire a new coaching staff. No progress was made. The Giants are back at the starting line. Fans who complain, “nothing has changed” don’t seem to get this. We’re starting over again. Deal with it. It is what it is.

The most important questions moving forward are:

  1. Is Joe Judge the right man to lead this team forward?
  2. Are Dave Gettleman and his successor the right men to provide Judge with the tools he needs?

Throwing a hissy fit because the playoff-caliber Steelers beat the team with THE WORST record in the NFL over the span of the last three years doesn’t make much sense to me. The Steelers were expected to win that game. Their loaded defense was expected to give the Giants offense all sorts of problems, especially up front. The fact the game was as close as it was until the 4th quarter was a pleasant surprise. A loser’s boast? Yup. But again, the Giants are starting over.

THE INJURY REPORT

  • WR Golden Tate (hamstring – questionable)
  • LB Tae Crowder (hamstring – probable)
  • LB Carter Coughlin (hamstring – questionable)
  • S Adrian Colbert (quad – out)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE

The height of absurdity was Giants fans “surprised” that a restructured offensive line, with two new tackles (including a rookie), and a new center who has never played the position at any level, would struggle with a loaded, All-Pro laden front seven. This line had no OTAs, no mini-camps, no preseason, and just 14 practices to get ready for the season. This reality isn’t going away. Lack of familiarity, cohesion, and practice are going to impact the line all season. The best we can hope for is that the growing process moves along at a reasonable rate.

“Gates sucks! They need to replace him!” With whom? Spencer Pulley? Unless the coaching staff comes to the conclusion that Gates will never develop into a decent center, switching back to Pulley seems like more wasting time to me. If you thought Gates was going to immediately do well, then you are not thinking straight. Gates is going to spend the 2020 season LEARNING THE POSITION. It’s not going to be pretty. We’re living in the real world, not a video game.

The good news is that the left side of the line, rookie LT Andrew Thomas and 3rd-year guard Will Hernandez performed adequately against top competition last Monday. The bad news is the veteran right side, RG Kevin Zeitler and RT Cam Fleming, did not. More is expected of them. They are the ones who should bring some much needed stability to the offensive line and they failed to do so in their first effort together. Again, given the quality of the opponent and the lack of practice time, I would suggest not overreacting. However, if issues continue in Weeks 4, 5, 6 with these two, Joe Judge, Jason Garrett, and Marc Colombo may want to think about what is best for the future and consider Shane Lemieux at right guard and Matt Peart at right tackle.

What hurt the blocking against the Steelers was not just the offensive line, but the poor work of the tight ends. We’re on our third coaching staff in a row who insists Evan Engram can serve as an in-line blocker. He can’t. The one or two good blocks he may make are erased by the ones where he gets easily tossed aside. If you screw up a block, your 1st-and-10 becomes a 2nd-and-11. That’s hard to overcome. Teams only get about 10 possessions per game. Levine Toilolo also needs to step up his game.

Sy’56 said it last year and I’m sure he will continue to make the same point this year. Quarterbacks who regularly turn the ball over are not long for the NFL. You can’t win that way. On Monday, Daniel Jones continued to give Giants fans a reason to be optimistic (clutch plays under duress without a lot of help) and pessimistic (two killer turnovers). The zone-blitz interception doesn’t bug me as much… young quarterbacks struggle with zone-blitzes. The turnover down on the goal line was the real killer. It happens. We’ve seen Eli Manning make stupid plays like that even in his 10th season. But it’s plays like that that also lose football games. I don’t want to see Daniel Jones play too conservatively. That’s not his game. But we all want to see him play a clean game.

As for the skill positions, enough attention was spent on Saquon Barkley’s pass protection issues this week. But until he proves otherwise, teams are going to keep testing him. They are also going to keep loading up on the run and dare Jones and his receivers to make them pay. Darius Slayton did some of that last week, but he needs more help from Evan Engram (who really came up small in Week 1), Sterling Shepard (needs to be more of a game-changer), Golden Tate (please get back on the damn football field). One of the debates in the offseason was how good was the receiving corps (including Engram). The returns from Week 1 were not good outside of Slayton.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

My take on the state of the defense is perhaps a bit too negative. After all, the Giants have been one of the worst defenses in the League for the last three years. There is a big hill to climb. And there were actual signs of improvement against the Steelers as New York held Pittsburgh to 16 points until the 4th quarter. BUT… the Steelers scored on half of their 10 possessions (three touchdowns and two field goals). The Steelers rushed for 141 yards (averaging 4.7 yards per rush). The Giants did not force a turnover on defense (this has become an alarming trend for the Giants). And at times when the team REALLY needed a stop… after both turnovers, right before halftime, and late in the 4th quarter, the defense couldn’t make that stop (another alarming trend). So progress made, but nowhere near good enough.

To me, the weak spot is what I mentioned in my last preview. Teams are going to continue to attack Corey Ballentine until he proves he can cover on a consistent basis. Isaac Yiadom also gave up an easy touchdown. I don’t think the Giants have the horses at cornerback to stop the bleeding but we shall see. As I also mentioned last week, I would try to arrange packages that have Darnay Holmes and Logan Ryan playing corner more than Ballentine and Yiadom.

Important positives from last Monday include the play of ILB Blake Martinez and DL Leonard Williams. Now if Patrick Graham and company can get more out of DLs Dalvin Tomlinson and Dexter Lawerence, along with OLB Lorenzo Carter, the Giants really may make some important strides.

The loss of Xavier McKinney is hurting in the defensive backfield as his presence would have enabled Graham to use Jabrill Peppers in more of a hybrid role. Nevertheless, Peppers once again is proving to be a frustrating player, alternating between impact plays and screw ups. Those types of players are coach killers.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

The Giants special teams are going to win them at least two games this year. Jabrill Peppers is going to break one soon as a punt returner.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

Head Coach Joe Judge on what he wants to see this weekend: “There are a lot of levels of improvement. We have to see, not only this week but throughout the year, we have to grow as a team. We’re still working on really getting our identity and our base set as a program and as a culture. The things I want to see this week, on top of playing together as a team for 60 minutes which I was pleased with how we did it last week, is I want to see the guys go out there and execute and not set ourselves back with mistakes.”

THE FINAL WORD

Yeah I know, I didn’t spend any time discussing the Bears in my Giants-Bears preview. But there were other things I wanted to get off my chest. As for this game, keep in mind that when the schedules were released other teams and their fans react by saying, “The Giants? That’s a win for us.” We’re the team everyone else wants to play. We’ve been that way for years.

That all said, this is a winnable game for the Giants. Yes, the Bears’ defense will give the Giants problems up front again. But there is no home field advantage for Chicago. The Bears were on the ropes against a bad Detroit team last week and should have lost that game. Their quarterback sucks. Call me naively stupid, but I think this is a game the Giants can win, provided the Giants don’t lose the turnover battle.

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…
Inactive for the game were 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.