Dec 012020
 
Share Button
Logan Ryan, New York Giants (November 29, 2020)

Logan Ryan – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

Week 12 brought the Giants to Cincinnati, home of the worst team of the 2019 NFL season. That placed the Bengals at the top of the 2020 NFL Draft, where they took quarterback Joe Burrow following his record setting, National Championship senior season at LSU. Even though the franchise still has a ways to go, things were looking up, as Burrow was proving to be worthy of that top pick with his solid play throughout the course of this season. However, a knee injury sustained last week knocked him out for the remainder of the year and probably into the 2021 season quite a bit as well. Thus, NYG who came in on a 2-game winning streak, were up against 2016 6th-round pick Brandon Allen, a career backup. This was an ideal ending to their, by far, easiest stretch of schedule. Dating back to October 11, this was NYG’s 6th opponent (out of 7) with a losing record. Considering their next 4 opponents entered this week with a combined 28-15 record, one could easily make the argument this was an absolute must-win.

NYG’s opening drive continued a trend we discussed two weeks ago prior to their bye. For the 6th-straight game, NYG scored a touchdown in the first quarter. This one was a 1-yard run by Wayne Gallman, who has now scored a touchdown in 5 straight games, tying a franchise record. The lead did not last long, however. CIN kick returner Brandon Wilson took the ensuing kickoff to the house for a 103-yard touchdown to tie it up.

Both offenses appeared to stall over the next few drives. CIN, ranked third worst in the league on third down, was severely limited by poor quarterback play while the NYG offensive line was flagged three times on their next two drives. On the next possession, tight end Evan Engram fumbled inside the red zone. CIN took advantage and drove the ball into NYG territory and ended up taking a 3-point lead via a 44-yard field goal. NYG was out-gaining CIN by a wide margin but they found themselves losing to the 2-7-1 Bengals and their backup quarterback. Flashbacks of their week 3 loss came up where they lost to Niners backup quarterback Nick Mullens by 27 points. The Giants quickly got the ball into CIN territory as the first half was coming to an end. They settled on a 49-yard field goal attempt for Graham Gano, which he nailed. That made his streak 21 straight successful attempts, the second most in franchise history. CIN knelt when they got the ball back to send the game into halftime.

After stopping CIN with a three-and-out on the first drive of the second half thanks to a drop by running back Gio Bernard, the NYG offense came back onto the field. A 44-yard completion to Engram, his second of 40+ yards on the day, put NYG deep into CIN territory again. On the next play, Jones scrambled up the middle and got up awkwardly. Two plays later, it was very evident he strained his hamstring to the point where he had to come off the field. Backup Colt McCoy, a former collegiate opponent to current Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor, marched onto the field to take over the offense but things went in reverse. Three plays netted -5 yards and NYG had to settle on another field goal, this one from 40 yards, to make the score 13-10.

The NYG defense forced a three-and-out and then Jones came back on with the offense to give it another shot. He lasted two plays and one pass before taking himself out. This was going to be up to McCoy and the Giants defense. The Giants punted back to CIN and they forced them into another punt themselves after three plays. This time, however, CIN faked the punt and converted the first down. The next play netted 13 yards and CIN was starting to gain some momentum. Allen then threw a pass that was deflected by rookie corner Darnay Holmes and fell into the hands of edge rusher Niko Lalos, who was just called up from the practice squad. NYG’s defense was once again stepping up.

The NYG offense began the fourth quarter with the ball in CIN territory and even though they were playing with a lesser deck of cards, they gained enough yards to put Gano in position for another field goal. He nailed it from 39 yards to make the score 16-10. The next CIN drive resulted in a three-and-out and the one following that resulted in a fumble forced by Logan Ryan in which he recovered himself. For those keeping track, the NYG defense in the second half up until this point forced 3 three-and-outs, allowed 2 first downs, and forced 2 turnovers. NYG, then starting from inside the red zone, put up another 3 points via a 32-yard field goal by Gano to make it a 2-score game. CIN had just 3:54 left and were approaching one of their worst offensive performances in their franchise’s history.

With the help of 32 yards worth of penalties, including a 3rd-down pass interference by Holmes in the end zone, Allen found rookie Tee Higgins in the end zone for a 1-yard score. All of the sudden NYG’s lead was just a mere 2 points and McCoy was still playing quarterback. With 2:33 left, NYG was in a good position however, as CIN had just one timeout left. With that said, NYG was not able to get a first down to seal it and had to punt the ball back.

CIN punt returner Alex Erickson, one of the best in the league, was able to finagle his way 29 yards to midfield. CIN kicker Randy Bullock needed just 10 yards to give CIN a credible shot at winning this game and CIN still had about a minute left. The thought of a loss was approaching hard and fast. However, on the first play, Allen held on the ball too long and was sacked by Jabaal Sheard, which jarred the ball loose and it was recovered by Leonard Williams. Game over.

NYG wins 19-17.

QUARTERBACK

Daniel Jones: 16-27 / 213 yards / 0 TD-0 INT / 84.3 RAT

Jones added 19 yards on 6 carries. This was an incomplete game from him, as he made it through just over half of the third quarter before succumbing to the hamstring injury. When it comes to his performance, Jones looked really solid once again. He connected on two deep balls and threw a near-perfect pass on a third attempt that just slipped through the fingers of Darius Slayton. He had a lot of time and room in the pocket and his game clearly benefited from it. And once again, he did not turn the ball over. It is simply a huge difference maker and it has been the key catalyst to this stretch of NYG winning games. As for the injury, I can’t say I know what is coming because I am far from an expert in the field. But based on how he strained it and based on how high up he was grabbing, I think this isn’t going away quickly. This will impact his play for multiple weeks and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him miss a game or two.

RUNNING BACK

Wayne Gallman: 24 att / 94 yards / 1 TD and 3 rec – (-3) yards

Gallman was really effective from the start and once again, he played better than the numbers you see. His yards after contact and aggression when running up the middle is stemming from quality blocking, but also his vision and assertiveness. He runs so much bigger than his size, getting through the traffic and bursting through arm tackles. Gallman is so close to breaking a long one; it is coming. His 5-game streak of scoring a touchdown tied a franchise record.

-Dion Lewis didn’t see the ball a lot (2 carries and 1 catch) but he played a quiet but important role. He was on the field for several obvious passing situations where he picked up the CIN blitz and created both space and time for both quarterbacks on key third down conversions. It was an overlooked but vital component to NYG’s third down success. They were 9 for 21 on third downs, a solid number that played a big role.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Sterling Shepard led the team with 7 catches and was second with 64 yards. His route running and toughness in traffic were both featured in this game. There are guys who get open because of how fast and explosive they are, and then there are receivers like Shepard. He can be such a 3rd-down weapon simply because of how well he can trick defensive backs. He made an amazing play on a comeback route where he fell out of his break as the pass was already in the air, got up with the ball nearly on him, and came away with the first down grab. If McCoy is going to be the guy moving forward for a few weeks, expect Shepard to be a key part to the passing game more so than what we have seen.

-Golden Tate was targeted a season-high 9 times. He came away with 4 catches for 36 yards. He did show some toughness in traffic and came up with a couple of key third down conversions but his biggest issue remains a lack of separation. At this point, he is simply a tough guy who needs to find vacant windows against zone coverage and can make a few things happen after the catch. I do expect to see him play a somewhat bigger role if McCoy is the guy moving forward because he can break through arm tackles and gain yards after the catch. However, he just doesn’t separate well at all.

-Darius Slayton saw just 2 targets, neither of which were caught. He dropped a deep ball that would have resulted in a touchdown and even though it was a tough catch, it went through his hands. He played 69% of the snaps and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear they were nursing his ankle injury a bit.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram continued his flashes that create hope just to have them brought back down after a huge mishap. On the first drive of the game and the first drive of the second half, he caught passes downfield that properly displayed both his size and speed. Those 2 catches combined for 97 yards. He finished with 129 catches on 4 yards, but he fumbled in the second quarter and it led to a CIN field goal that put them up by 3. Engram can be such a difference maker. There are not even a handful of tight ends who can make the plays he did in this game but the turnovers and drops are enough to kill his chances long term.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Andrew Thomas did not allow any pressures, sacks, or TFL according to my record keeping. He also was not penalized. This was the first time we can walk away from a game this season saying that. Thomas was primarily matched up against Carl Lawson, an undersized but powerful and quick end who won’t be mistaken for a premiere pass rusher, but he is a solid player. Thomas contained him very well from start to finish.

-The interior had a back and forth day. Shane Lemieux started at left guard and Will Hernandez rotated in. I think the line works better with Lemieux in there, to be honest. He isn’t as stout but athletically he makes a difference and NYG has had a lot of running success via pulling their guards to trap block. Lemieux is hands down more efficient and productive in that role. Kevin Zeitler was flagged for a false start and allowed 1 pressure and 1 TFL. Nick Gates had another above average grade, he leads the group in that department.

-Cameron Fleming is still starting because Matt Peart tested positive for Covid-19. That is my opinion, anyway. He was downright awful in this one. He allowed 2 pressures and he was flagged 3 times. One of his holds was declined by CIN but the next one came on a successful 3rd-and-4 conversion late in the game. Fleming also did a poor job sealing the outside on inside runs. Really poor game by him.

EDGE

-It was an interesting day from this group. Kyler Fackrell and Jabaal Sheard each saw about 50% of the snaps. Sheard had 2 TFL and a sack-fumble that ended the game. Fackrell had 2 tackles and a pressure. He did a really nice job of setting the edge with physical punches and lockouts in the running game.

-There were three youngsters who saw snaps. Cam Brown looked like the best of the bunch, as his skill set is starting to catch up with his tools and engine. Brown can be a dangerous player if he puts things together. He had a pressure and made a key special teams stop on the final punt return that could have easily resulted in a touchdown had he not made the play. Carter Coughlin got in for about 15% of the snaps and he had a pressure that led to a CIN holding penalty. Lastly, Niko Lalos, who was brought up from the practice squad the day before the game, came up with a key defensive play. He intercepted a pass deflection by Darnay Holmes. The coaches say they love his ability to get near the action and that is exactly what happens when you have guys fly to the ball. He only saw 8 snaps on defense; he didn’t show much on his pass rush.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

-Leonard Williams recorded his 6th sack of the year while adding 2 tackles and 2 pressures. Williams’ biggest play came at the end of the game where he recovered the fumble forced by Jabaal Sheard. However, he was flagged for a roughing-the-passer penalty for the second straight game on the CIN touchdown-scoring drive. Williams was all over the field and if you really put an eyeball on him, you will notice how much he has been changing the game week to week. Whether or not to resign him will be a credibly debatable topic where strong arguments can be made on both sides. That said, I like the idea of paying a guy long term who isn’t overly reliant on explosive movement. Williams makes a huge difference with his hand power, hustle, and versatility. Those traits stick around longer.

-Dexter Lawrence seemed to have some extra pop in him. He finished with just 1 tackle and 1 pressure, but as always, his impact was strong. His back-side pursuit and ability to react are fun to watch. Dalvin Tomlinson added 1 tackle and 1 pressure. B.J. Hill and Anthony Johnson each had a pressure but didn’t do much else in their respective backup roles.

LINEBACKER

-Blake Martinez had 5 tackles, which is a quiet game for him. But CIN only ran 10 designed running plays. He, nor David Mayo, really had a lot of opportunities to make an impact. Tae Crowder was back on the field and finished with 3 tackles. His speed and pop will be important in the coming 2 weeks as NYG will be facing off against really fast offensive skill groups.

CORNERBACK

-The two outside starters, James Bradberry and Isaac Yiadom, did a nice job shutting down the outside passing game of CIN. Bradberry had a tackle and a pass break up, which was on third down. Yiadom’s play is the one that seems to be progressing. While he did allow the late touchdown to Tee Higgins, he did a nice job in deep coverage throughout he afternoon. Having so many physical and aggressive defensive backs, notably on the outside, is a huge deal and a nice sign moving forward.

-Rookie nickel Darnay Holmes had an active day. He finished with 3 tackles, 1 pressure, and a pass break up. His pass break up led to an interception and he made a couple of really physical plays against the run. His issue remains too much contact down the field in coverage, though. Holmes got flagged for a pass interference on a 3rd-down stop that brought the ball to the 1-yard line. Had NYG lost, that would have been the play we were punching the wall over. Holmes is flashing on a weekly basis; I notice him and his play speed every week. He just needs to clean it up when it comes to technique and ball location.

SAFETY

-Jabrill Peppers is really in a groove. His stat line continues to record numbers all over the place. He led the team with 6 tackles and he added a TFL, a pressure, and 2 pass break-ups. He brought a lot of energy to the defense and he is making plays each week. This is evolving into a top notch acquisition by Dave Gettleman, something that even his biggest critics have to respect. More on that below.

-Logan Ryan is also on a hot streak. His play is more back-and-forth because of how much he likes to risk and bait quarterbacks but when it pans out, it really helps the defense. He finished with 5 tackles, 2 pass break ups, and a forced fumble that he also recovered in the fourth quarter. This defense really needed to step up when Jones went down and Ryan was the one who stepped up the most.

-Julian Love played 69% of the snaps, making 2 tackles and preventing a couple of perceived deep passes early on. He looks really swift and easy on the back end. He fits in the safety group well considering what the team is having Peppers and Ryan do collectively. I question if this staff will feel confident in Xavier McKinney playing that role. McKinney was back for the first time but he only played special teams. This will be interesting to watch in the coming weeks.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 4/4 (Made 49, 40, 39, 32)

-P Riley Dixon: 5 punts / 46.6 avg / 37.8 net

3 STUDS

-S Jabrill Peppers, DB Logan Ryan, K Graham Gano

3 DUDS

-OT Cameron Fleming, WR Darius Slayton, CB Darnay Holmes

3 THOUGHTS ON CIN

  1. CIN is a much better team than what we saw a year ago. They have some pieces in the secondary, they have a solid defensive line rotation (when Reader/Atkins are healthy), and they have the franchise QB. What is missing? That offensive line really needs a facelift. Center Trey Hopkins is the only solid player right now and the jury is still out on left tackle Jonah Williams. They don’t sustain their pass blocks long enough and that division will eat that up with ease if they don’t fix it.
  1. A.J. Green looks like he is done. No, not just a step or two slower. He looks checked out. Watching the All-22 angle led me to this notion. He doesn’t finish routes, he doesn’t attack the ball, and he looks hesitant. I think he is done in CIN after this season, as CIN already has two up-and-coming pass catchers in Boyd/Higgins. Green is a waste of money and no, he isn’t worth taking a chance on if he does hit the market from the NYG perspective.
  1. Defensive end Sam Hubbard is a name I would keep a close eye on in the coming year. His rookie contract runs out after 2021. If you take a look at his stats, you won’t be impressed. He has 1 sack so far in 2020 but I really think this guy’s value goes far beyond the stat sheet. He can impact every down from multiple roles, he is incredibly smart and instinctive, and he is hyper. When it comes to what NYG wants on the edge, Hubbard is the kind of profile they are going to look at whether it is free agency or the draft.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  1. Alright, the cake walk is over. NYG has back-to-back-to-back-to-back quality opponents on the way. NYG has yet to play consecutive games against winning teams. Their next 4 all have winning records. NYG’s past 7 opponents combine for a current 26-47-2 (.347 winning %). Their next four opponents combine for a current record of 28-15 (.651 winning %). NYG’s wins were against teams that rank 23rd, 24th, 25th, and 26th in points scored. Their next four opponents rank 1st, 8th, 18th, and 12th in points scored. I think NYG can go to bed at night knowing they are no longer basement dwellers in the NFL but now the question needs to be answered, are they approaching playoff caliber or are they still trying to rise to the middle tier?
  1. What players are most responsible for NYG’s turnaround? James Bradberry, Blake Martinez, Jabrill Peppers, Leonard Williams, Logan Ryan. Sure, there are other players who have stepped up and the offensive line has been night-and-day different from what we saw earlier in the year. But just look at those names listed above and try to make an argument against them. You can’t. All were veterans acquired by Dave Gettleman via trades and signings. Gettleman has not been perfect (no GM ever has or ever will be) but his plan is starting to come into focus more and more. His background has always been in Pro Personnel and NYG is really seeing the fruits of that. And guess what…NYG is going to have money to spend over the next couple of years while their best offensive players are on cheap deals. Is there anyone in the league right now that you would rather be spending that money on impact free agents?
  1. If Daniel Jones is down and out for a week or two, that is going to be a major blow to the playoff chances. If I had to guess, we aren’t going to see him against SEA. I do have some professional knowledge in the field and that kind of high-hamstring strain is very slow healing. Maybe youth will be on his side, but Jones needs his legs to be effective and the chance of re-aggravation is high with those. This goes to show how volatile it is to constantly run your QB on designed plays. By no means am I looking down on that, but it is the truth. Running Jones as much as they do widens the odds of him getting hurt. NYG must now trot out Colt McCoy while in 1st place against the toughest grouping of games on the schedule. And with that…NYG needs to TAKE OUT designed quarterback runs for McCoy. Seeing him run around on designed runs and take hits without another QB on the roster blew my mind.
Nov 292020
 
Share Button
Wayne Gallman, New York Giants (November 29, 2020)

Wayne Gallman – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 19 – CINCINNATI BENGALS 17…
The New York Giants narrowly defeated the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday afternoon 19-17. It was New York’s third win in a row and improved their overall record to 4-7. It was the Giants’ first win in Cincinnati in team history and 700th regular-season win in team history.

The Giants are now tied for first place in the NFC East with the Washington Football Team, depending on the outcome of Monday night’s Seattle Seahawks-Philadelphia Eagles game. The Eagles are 3-6-1. The Giants also own the tie-breaker against Washington.

Despite the Giants dominating the game statistically, they almost lost the game due a hamstring injury to their starting quarterback, shoddy special teams play including allowing a kick return for a touchdown, and untimely mistakes on offense. New York out-gained Cincinnati in first downs (19 to 11), total offensive plays (80 to 46), total net yards (386 to 155), net yards rushing (142 to 40), net yards passing (244 to 115), time of possession (37:26 to 22:35), and turnover margin (3 to 1).

The Giants started off the game well, driving 76 yards in nine plays to take 7-0 lead on running back Wayne Gallman’s 1-yard run on 4th-and-goal. The key play on this drive was a 53-yard strike on 3rd-and-2 from quarterback Daniel Jones to tight end Evan Engram to the Cincinnati 4-yard line.

However, all of this good mojo was immediately erased when Bengals’ kickoff returner Brandon Wilson returned the ensuing kickoff 103 yards for a game-tying touchdown.

Also unfortunately for New York, their offense struggled for the rest of the first half. The next two Giants’ drives resulted in a total of two first downs and 35 yards before punting the ball away. On their fourth drive, the Giants did reach the Cincinnati 33-yard line after converting on 4th-and-1. But on the very next snap, Engram fumbled the ball away at the 15-yard line. The Bengals recovered the loose ball and returned it to their 45-yard line. Nine plays and 29 yards later, Cincinnati took a 10-7 lead on a 44-yard field goal.

The Giants did manage to tie the game again on their fifth and final drive of the first half. New York gained 44 yards on 11 plays to set up place kicker Graham Gano’s 49-yard field goal.

At the half, the game was tied 10-10 despite New York out-gaining Cincinnati 223 to 66 in total yards.

The Giants’ defense forced a three-and-out to start the 3rd quarter. New York then moved the ball from their own 6-yard line to the Cincinnati 17-yard line. The big play was another big pass to Engram for 44 yards. However, quarterback Daniel Jones came out of the game after 2-yard pass to Gallman on 3rd-and-1 with a hamstring issue (he had injured himself on a 7-yard run two plays earlier). The drive immediately stalled and the Giants settled for a 40-yard field goal. Giants 13 – Bengals 10.

Both teams exchanged punts with Jones returning for two more plays before leaving the game for good. The Giants then got the ball back near the end of the 3rd quarter when defensive end/linebacker Niko Lalos intercepted a deflected pass at the Cincinnati 40-yard line. The Giants only gained 19 yards in eight plays, including converting on 4th-and-1, but this was good enough to set up a Gano field goal from 39 yards out. Giants 16 – Bengals 10.

Both teams exchanged punts again. The Giants were then handed a golden opportunity to put the game away when safety Logan Ryan forced a fumble at the Cincinnati 24-yard line that he returned to the 19 with 4:12 left in the game. The Giants only managed to gain five yards and take 18 seconds off of the clock before Gano kicked a 32-yard field goal to make it a 19-10 game.

At this point, the New York defense failed as the Bengals, led by their Practice Squad quarterback Brandon Allen, easily drove 72 yards in seven plays to cut the score to 19-17 with 1:21 left in the game. The Bengals were aided by two defensive penalties including a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty on defensive end Leonard Williams and a questionable 17-yard pass interference penalty on cornerback Darnay Holmes.

It looked like the Giants had sealed the win on the ensuing drive when back-up quarterback Colt McCoy completed a 10-yard pass to Gallman on 3rd-and-4. But right tackle Cam Fleming was called for holding on the play. Punter Riley Dixon’s 61-yard punt was then returned 29 yards by the Bengals to midfield with 57 seconds left. The Bengals only needed a field goal to win the game.

The Giants’ defense ended the game on the first play of the Bengals’ attempted game-winning drive. Linebacker Jaball Sheard sacked Allen, forcing a fumble that Leonard Williams recovered at the Cincinnati 37-yard line.

Daniel Jones completed 16-of-27 passes for 213 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. Colt McCoy completed 6-of-10 passes for 31 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard caught seven passes for 64 yards while Engram caught six passes for 129 yards. Gallman rushed 24 times for 94 yards and a touchdown.

Leonard Williams was credited with a sack, three quarterback hits, and a game-winning fumble recovery. Jaball Sheard had the team’s other sack and forced the game-winning fumble. Logan Ryan forced a fumble that he recovered.

Video highlights are available on Giants.com.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
DE Niko Lalos was activated from the Practice Squad for this game.

Inactive for the game were OL Kyle Murphy, DE R.J. McIntosh, LB Trent Harris, LB T.J. Brunson, S Montre Hartage, and PK Ryan Santoso.

QB Daniel Jones left the game with a right hamstring injury in the 3rd quarter; he returned for a couple of plays before sitting out for good. LB Kyler Fackrell injured his calf in the 3rd quarter too and did not return. S Nate Ebner injured his knee in the 1st quarter and did not return.

“I don’t really know much (about Jones),” Head Coach Joe Judge said after the game. “I actually talked to him on the sidelines in terms of how he was. It was at a point where he couldn’t continue in the game, which takes a hell of a lot. Daniel is a really tough dude. So, we’ll take a look and see what it is. I don’t have much more information than what you guys probably got from the TV at the point right now. He just has the doctors and to get some MRI’s – things like that are standard procedure. We kind of MRI everything around here.”

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…
Six of the Giants’ last seven games have been decided by three points or less, including three of their four victories.

The kickoff return touchdown was the first allowed by the Giants in a road game in 30 years.

PK Graham Gano has made 25 of 26 field goal attempts this season.

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

Nov 272020
 
Share Button

THE STORYLINE

I can’t recall a time where fans of the New York Giants were this giddy despite a .300 winning percentage and still being in contention for a top 5 draft pick after Thanksgiving. But here we are. The borderline delusion is a product of being a fan of a team that is usually out of post-season contention in October, but now is still very much being alive for a playoff spot in arguably the worst division in NFL history.

The mood swing is palpable. Something’s changed. I suspect that the Giants finally beating the Philadelphia Eagles is a huge part of it. Indeed, had Evan Engram just held onto that pass, the Giants would have swept the Eagles this year. Never mind that Philly sucks. Even when they’ve been bad in the past in recent years they’ve owned the Giants. Not this year.

So with six games left, everyone in the division is bunched up together and everyone has a shot at the NFC East title. Now begins the final sprint. For the Giants, it starts with the Cincinnati Bengals, a 2-7-1 team in the best division in the AFC. The Bengals just lost their starting quarterback and there are rumors of locker room dissension.

This is a golden opportunity for the Giants. A win on Sunday combined with an Eagles loss and the Giants will be tied for first place in the NFC East with five games to play. They haven’t been in this position since 2016. Meaningful football in December? Who would have thunk it?

THE INJURY REPORT

  • WR Sterling Shepard (hip/toe – probable)
  • OG Kevin Zeitler (concussion – probable)
  • CB Brandon Williams (ankle – questionable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE

    The Giants are still 30th in yards gained and points scored. The team still doesn’t even average 20 points per game. But the needle feels like it is pointing up because of the 23 and 27 point offensive “explosions” in the past two games. This is a product of a more consistent offensive line play that has led to a more consistent ground attack that has led to more consistent quarterbacking play. Daniel Jones has not turned the football over in the past two games. The Giants are 2-0 in those games. As Sy’56 has pointed out, that’s no coincidence.

    However, just when things looked like they were on the upswing, in a shocking move, Joe Judge fired offensive line coach Marc Colombo after the last game. Now newcomer and the much-traveled Dave DeGuglielmo must catch up to speed rapidly with his new coaches, players, terminology, and playbook. How will everyone respond? That’s the great unknown. This is a major transition for any team to make in the middle of an NFL season. The line could continue its upward trend, stagnate, or regress. And everything on offense hinges on the outcome.

    The good news for the Giants is they finally will face a lesser caliber defensive team. The Cincinnati Bengals are 26th in defense in terms of yardage allowed and 22nd in points allowed. They are 30th in run defense and 22nd in pass defense. The Bengals’ defensive coordinator, Lou Anarumo, was Pat Shurmur’s defensive backs coach with the Giants in 2018. Reports out of Cincy say he is very much unpopular with his players.

    The Giants need to keep this simple. Run the football against the NFL’s 30th ranked run defense. That will continue to make life easier for the offensive line and Daniel Jones. It may be boring. It may not be conducive to putting a lot of points on the board. But the Giants don’t have the players to do more than that at this time. Grind it out, move the chains, control the clock, win the field position battle. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot with negative plays and turnovers.

    On a side note, some important reserves may not be available for this game due to COVID-19 protocols. That includes back-up tight end Kaden Smith and back-up offensive tackle Matt Peart. Newcomer wide receiver Dante Pettis is also affected.

    NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

    Statistically, the defense has been sliding and is now a middle-of-the-pack unit, 17th in yards allowed and 12th in points allowed. That feels opposite of fan impressions because the team has been playing better in recent weeks. And despite the fact that the Giants allowed 156 yards rushing to the Eagles, New York does remain 6th in run defense. Pass defense (24th) is a different story.

    The good news for the Giants is that Patrick Graham and his defensive assistants are doing a great job with the players they have. Moreover, the Giants look like they are going to get some injured players back soon. Linebackers Tae Crowder and Oshane Ximines have begun practicing and may come off of Injured Reserve. So too may safety Xavier McKinney, the 2nd-round pick who hasn’t played all year. That means that other than Injured Reserve players Lorenzo Carter, Ryan Lewis, and Adrian Colbert, the Giants are practically at full strength on defense as we approach December.

    The Bengals lost QB Joe Burrow, the first player taken in the 2020 NFL Draft, for the season last week. Instead of starting his immediate back-up against the Giants, the Bengals have elevated Practice Squad quarterback Brandon Allen to the 53-man roster and he will reportedly start on Sunday. Allen is a 2016 6th-round draft pick who is already with his fourth NFL team. He started three games for the Broncos in 2019, completing only 46 percent of his passes. That’s the extent of his regular-season experience. Huge advantage for the Giants! Right? Should be. But we all know the Giants’ long and tortured history of facing no-name back-up quarterbacks. For some reason, historically speaking, the Giants don’t make anything easy.

    Even before the injury to Burrow, the Bengals were a subpar offensive team (20th in yards, 26th in points). They don’t run the ball very well, but they do have some good targets to throw to, including wide receivers Tyler Boyd (69 catches), rookie Tee Higgins (43 catches), and veteran A.J. Green (35 catches). When I watched the Bengals-Washington game, Cincy appeared to favor the short passing game. I would think they would continue to do that with Brandon Allen at quarterback.

    It’s always the same defensive game plan when facing an inexperienced back-up at quarterback. Stop the run and force the quarterback to beat you. Mix up your coverages to confuse the QB and cause him to make stupid mistakes.

    NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

    Fingers crossed on Graham Gano coming back from COVID this week or else the Giants will have to rely on Ryan Santoso, who has never attempted a field goal or extra point in a real NFL game.

    FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

    Head Coach Joe Judge on the NFC East race: “I think when you look at this division, this is really the starting point for the division. We’re coming out of Thanksgiving…everyone is really on equal ground. The only thing that matters is what we do from this point forward.”

    THE FINAL WORD

    I still shake my head at some of the discussions in The Corner Forum by some of the fans who can’t seem to process that the Giants are still not a very good football team. 3-7 is 3-7. Bottom-ranked offense and middle-of-the-pack defense. And if the Giants were in a normal division, the team would be in last place again.

    That all said, it is fun to be alive after Thanksgiving and one can hope and dream. After all, that’s what being a fan is all about.

    That Giants have been given a tremendous opportunity. They face a bad team starting a practice squad quarterback on Sunday. Win and they could be tied for first place. Don’t blow it!

    Aug 242019
     
    Share Button
    Brittan Golden, New York Giants (August 22, 2019)

    Brittan Golden – © USA TODAY Sports

    New York Giants 25 – Cincinnati Bengals 23

    QUICK RECAP

    The Giant took their show away from MetLife Stadium for the first time in 2019, as they matched up against the Cincinnati Bengals, led by the youngest coach in the NFL, Zac Taylor. The Giants opted to keep RB Saquon Barkley on the sideline as well as WR Sterling Shepard (thumb) and WR Golden Tate (concussion). Defensively they were without LB Alec Ogletree and CB Deandre Baker, among others.

    Eli Manning, for the third week in a row, played one series. It was a long, 15 play drive that saw a nice run/pass balance but had some sloppiness to it. Cody Latimer dropped two passes, the second of which would have been a touchdown and the Giants had to settle on a short field goal to get the initial lead, 3-0. Daniel Jones took over the offense with the rest of the night’s first string still in. The two teams traded three-and-outs and then CIN QB Andy Dalton picked up chunk gain after chunk gain. He completed five straight passes, the last of which was a 26-yard touchdown to TE C.J. Uzomah on a perfectly placed ball, beating S Jabrill Peppers.

    The sloppiness ensued as the second quarter began, as both sides of the ball were getting flagged too often. Perhaps the two best throws of the night came on the second drive of the quarter with Jones hitting Brittan Golden for 35 yards and Darius Slayton for 27 yards, which got them to the CIN 1-yard line. They were both big time throws respectively and this was on a drive where Jones got absolutely clocked by both CIN edge rushers at the same time. RB Rod Smith soon after burst through the pile for a 1-yard touchdown run, which gave NYG their lead back, 10-7.

    The NYG defense remained iffy at best on the next drive with missed tackles and a huge hands-to-the-face by Olsen Pierre which negated a 3rd-down stop. This allowed the 12-play drive to cut out most of the remaining time on the clock in the first half and led to a 50-yard field goal that tied the game up.

    The Giant gave the second half to the two QBs who are competing for the the number three job, Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta. The third quarter saw the two teams trade scoreless possessions multiple times. CIN was moving the ball well thanks to poor tackling by the backup NYG defenders, particularly at the second and third levels. Offensively the three standouts were Lauletta, RB Paul Perkins, and WR Brittan Golden.

    CIN took a 17-10 lead early in the fourth quarter on a 3-yard pass from Jacob Dolegala to Damian Willis. NYG responded with a touchdown scoring drive of their own ending with a Jon Hilliman 1-yard dash across the goal line that saw him push the pile on the right side of the line. Lauletta was 3-out-of-4 for 66 yards, making passes on all levels of the route tree from both the pocket and on the move. NYG went for 2, because why not, and successfully got the 2 points via a pass to Alonzo Russell, who continued to impress on multiple levels in this game.

    Golden, who had his loudest performance of the entire preseason/training camp process, returned a punt for a 68-yard score thanks largely to the aforementioned Russell throwing two outstanding downfield blocks. A strong receiving night and a punt return touchdown was going to possibly put his name in the mix for the last WR spot on the 53-man roster but a muffed punt, which resulted in a turnover, on the next drive put a damper on his night. CIN turned that fumble in to 7 points via another short pass from Dolegala, this time to Justin Hunter.

    With a 25-23 lead and under three minutes left, NYG was able to burn the rest of the clock and walk away with their third preseason win in as many chances.

    Giants win 25-23.

    QUARTERBACKS

    -Eli Manning played just one drive for the third straight week, going 4/8 for 41 yards. It was a 15-play drive that gained NYG the initial 3-0 lead. Manning continues to look sharp and more decisive than in the past which, as I have stated a few times, stems from the improved OL play in my opinion.

    -Daniel Jones played the remainder of the first half, also continuing his superb preseason. He got the most snaps he’s had with the first string and he passed yet another test. He went 9/11 for 141 yards including two downfield passes for gains of 35 and 27 yards. Jones did get sacked, causing a fumble (his third of the preseason) but it did not result in a turnover. The glaring positive that came from that was the fact that on the very next play, he hit fellow rookie Darius Slayton for a 27-yard gain that was 1-yard shy of a touchdown. Jones is proving to be tough and even keel, an absolute must for success at the position in this league.

    -The Alex Tanney vs. Kyle Lauletta competition is going to come down to the wire. Lauletta looked better in this one, as he was hitting his targets on all levels of the route tree from both the pocket and on the move. Two of his incompletions were drops by the receivers on nicely-placed balls. Tanney was overthrowing his deep passes and never really got into a flow.

    RUNNING BACKS

    -Saquon Barkley sat out again as it appears his first live action will be week 1 in Dallas. The running game altogether was ugly, as the middle of the NYG offensive line did not get enough movement. Wayne Gallman did show a nice cutback-and-burst run that gained 14 yards. He is the unquestioned backup and won’t need much more work.

    -Paul Perkins had a solid night via the passing game, catching 3 balls for 27 yards showing excellent burst and balance on a couple of occasions. Rod Smith had a hard time, gaining 8 yards on 5 attempts. He is a guy who absolutely needs space to work with because he isn’t a quick-acceleration back. Jon Hilliman scored a touchdown in the second half and continues to compete for a final roster spot, although I don’t think it will happen for him.

    WIDE RECEIVERS

    -With the two top targets out (Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate), the opportunities for roster hopefuls continued to be present from start to finish. Brittan Golden was the one who jumped off the screen with receptions of 35 and 24 yards in addition to a punt return touchdown. His muffed punt that resulted in a turnover left a poor taste on the night overall, however. Not catching the ball is a major no-no.

    -Cody Latimer had a night to forget, as he had two drops on balls that hit him square in the chest. The second one would have likely been a touchdown pass on the opening NYG drive and had that been a regular-season game, it would have been a big deal. Those are the kinds of mistakes that really swing the outcome of a game and it cannot happen. He has the opportunity of a lifetime in 2019, especially weeks 1 through 4.

    -Reggie White vs. Alonzo Russell is an interesting roster battle. Russell has been here longer and continues to make things happen on special teams. We have noted the vertical speed and size, which is lacking elsewhere in this WR core. However, White keeps popping up during practice and it is carrying over into game action. White seems to have more natural pass catching ability and it was shown on the 36-yard downfield grab he brought in.

    -Darius Slayton finally got his first game action with the club. I expect him to get a lot of reps next week because as I said back in the spring when the team drafted him, he is going to factor at some point this season. He is going to need some time but the speed and ball skill he possesses creates a much needed deep threat for this offense. He was 1-yard shy of a touchdown on his 27-yard catch.

    -Brittan Golden has never really been a guy who I thought would make this team and even though he had the night of his life against CIN, I still don’t see the 30-year-old journeyman taking a spot away from the guys who are younger and bigger.

    TIGHT ENDS

    -Evan Engram played just 10 snaps, as this team is being more cautious than in the past with their top expected playmakers. Rhett Ellison had 2 catches for 26 yards, including some tough YAC. We know what we have in him.

    -Is there more competition for that third TE spot than most are thinking? Scott Simonson had another drop and did not stand out as a blocker. If you are going to consistently drop the ball, you better dominate the trenches. Garrett Dickerson on the other hand caught 2 passes for 30 yards and showed sneaky YAC ability with his power and balance with the ball. He definitely has more play-maker in him. C.J. Conrad also caught his lone target on the night for 11 yards and is a prime candidate for the practice squad.

    OFFENSIVE LINE

    -The left side of the line had a night to forget, not something we want to see in week 3 of the preseason. Guard Will Hernandez was flagged three times and Nate Solder allowed a sack and pressure. Hernandez is still struggling with the late inside move, something that bit him hard multiple times in 2018. Solder just looks stiff and weak if I am going to be honest. I think the veteran in him can make up for some physical deficiencies but at some point this guy is going to need to anchor himself better. Too much lack of presence when moving laterally as a run blocker in addition to pass protection.

    -Solder’s backup, Brian Mihalik, was back in game action and also had a rough night. He allowed a sack and a pressure as well. There isn’t much hope behind Solder, as Mihalik looks like his little brother in terms of stiffness and weakness.

    -Kevin Zeitler and Mike Remmers were quiet for the most part. The latter allowed a pressure that would have been a sack had Solder’s man not reached Jones first on the fumble-causing sack.

    -I continue to be impressed with the combination of Chad Slade and Nick Gates. I think these two are going to make the team because of the position-versatility they bring to the table.

    DEFENSIVE LINE

    -A much better night from rookie Dexter Lawrence in this one. He was more disruptive and mobile after initial contact, and he also batted a pass down. He came off on passing downs, which I expect to see more of because if there is one thing I keep on noticing, he isn’t very well conditioned. He tires easily and gets sluggish. He didn’t play much, the same with Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill.

    -R.J. McIntosh looked active and disruptive despite not recording any tackles or pressures. He made the offense adjust to him on a couple of occasions, however the stoutness isn’t there yet. John Jenkins and Olsen Pierre, on the other hand, both held their ground and kept the LBs clean. Pierre was flagged for a costly illegal-hands-to-the-face pnealty though.

    -Jake Ceresna had a pressure and despite not seeing a ton of time, has been very disruptive every week. I hope they have a spot for him on the practice squad.

    LINEBACKERS

    -Rookie Oshane Ximines had a mini-breakout game. He recorded 2 sacks, the second of which he was untouched. He played crafty and efficient. The coaches are noting how far along he is with hand techniques and if the pass rush stalls at some point, he could end up being the feature guy – as early as week 1.

    -Lorenzo Carter and Markus Golden played sparingly, not making much of an impact. Same with Kareem Martin who seems to be entrenched as the #3 guy, a role that is ideal for him.

    -Alec Ogletree remained out with his calf injury, thus Ryan Connelly and Tae Davis got the starting nod again. Davis missed a tackle but also recorded a pressure on a well-timed and schemed blitz. His lack of size equally helps and hurts him, as does the athletic ability as he overshoots angles sometimes.

    -Nate Stupar took a major step back in this game. He missed 4, yes 4, tackles. That is a number that is simply unacceptable for a linebacker. IF a decision needs to be made between him and B.J. Goodson, that’s an easy one if you are asking me. Goodson is showing he can, at least, still lay the lumber and be a reliable run defender. Stupar is a solid special teamer which I know the coaches love, but I don’t want him anywhere near the defense.

    -Outstanding game for the LB that nobody is talking about, but everyone notices. Josiah Tauaefa led the team with 7 tackles and also recorded a sack. The knock on him coming out of college was a lack of speed but he is showing excellent reaction time and really good pursuit angles. He finishes what he starts too.

    -Once again, don’t sleep on Jonathan Anderson. He had 2 tackles, including a TFL. I am thinking practice squad for him, especially if the team isn’t fully confident in Ogletree’s calf heading in to week 1. Those injuries can really linger.

    CORNERBACKS

    -Corey Ballentine got the starting nod with Deandre Baker and Antonio Hamilton missing the game with respective injuries. He was picked on early and often and also missed 2 tackles. The talent is there and we all know it, but there are some serious growing pains with him. He is late to recognize which is understandable but once teams get deep into scouting this defense, he will be a focal point. I look forward to seeing how he responds. He did stay aggressive all night and finished with 7 tackles and a TFL.

    -Ronald Zamort and Terrell Sinkfield both allowed short touchdown passes. The latter was a result of poor footwork and too much concentration on his hands, something he was getting grilled for at practice last Monday. I don’t think either of these guys have a shot at making the team unless the injuries to Baker, Beal, and Hamilton are serious.

    SAFETIES

    -Jabrill Peppers was playing fired up again but that aggression hurt the defense as he bit hard on play-action and didn’t realize until it was too late that the CIN tight end got behind him. Dalton threw a perfect pass and it ended up putting 6 on the board for the bad guys. Other than that, he was solid across the board but those plays can’t happen.

    -Kenny Ladler missed a tackle and gave up a long gain in the passing game, but on a play-to-play basis, I have been impressed with him this preseason. I think they have something in him. Sean Chandler recorded a sack and 2 tackles in addition to breaking up a pass. This coaching staff likes him a lot.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    -P Johnny Towsend got 3 punts in while Riley Dixon got only one. I wonder if this has been an overlooked intra-team position battle.

    -Brittan Golden got his opportunity to show what he has in the return game and he responded with a 68 yard touchdown but also muffed one that ended in a turnover.

    3 STUDS

    -QB Daniel Jones, OL Nick Gates, LB Josiah Tauaefa

    3 DUDS

    -LB Nate Stupar, WR Cody Latimer, OT Nate Solder

    3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

    -One can easily make the argument that this preseason could not have gone any better for Daniel Jones. I agree that his command of the offense, his accuracy, and his toughness all have checks on the QB list. However, we are now looking at 3 fumbles in 3 games. He has to clean that up.

    -Why not another week of Jones vs. Manning debate? Sorry to say it but we are going to hear this non-stop until it happens. Two thoughts I want to leave you with: What does Manning do that Jones cannot? And why does this team have to be losing, or out of the playoff picture, for Jones to take the job? Eli Manning took the job from Kurt Warner in 2004 when Big Blue was 5-4.

    -I don’t think I can remember a year where so many rookies are in line to start OR be major pieces to the rotation puzzle on defense. Ryan Connelly, Dexter Lawrence, Deandre Baker, and Oshane Ximines are going to be starting or playing in serious game situations within the first few weeks, if not week 1. Is that an indictment of a lack of talent on the team? Or do we finally have a legit scouting staff running the personnel department?

    Aug 222019
     
    Share Button
    Oshane Ximines, New York Giants (August 22, 2019)

    Oshane Ximines – © USA TODAY Sports

    NEW YORK GIANTS 25 – CINCINNATI BENGALS 23…
    The New York Giants improved their preseason record to 3-0 on Thursday night by defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 25-23 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. Running back Saquon Barkley was once again a healthy scratch from the game. He has not played all preseason.

    The Bengals received the football to start the game. After picking up 28 yards on a pass, Cincinnati only gained four more yards before punting. With quarterback Eli Manning at the helm, the Giants started their initial possession at their own 11-yard line. New York put together a 15-play, 66-yard drive that stalled inside the red zone and resulted in a 41-yard field goal by place kicker Adrick Rosas. The drive was kept alive with a 19-yard completion by wide receiver Russell Shepard on 3rd-and-6. Wide receiver Cody Latimer could not hold onto what could have been an 18-yard touchdown pass.

    The Bengals went three-and-out on their second possession. Daniel Jones entered the game at quarterback with the starting unit. He completed two throws for 26 yards before two incompletions led to a turnover on downs at the Bengals’ 30-yard line. Cincinnati then easily drove 70 yards in six plays to go ahead 7-3 on a 26-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Andy Dalton.

    The Giants picked up one first down on their third series before punting. The Bengals then drove to the New York 38-yard line but turned the ball over on downs. On 2nd-and-5, Jones completed a 35-yard pass to wide receiver Brittan Golden. Two plays later, Jones was crushed by both defensive ends. He fumbled the ball but the Giants recovered. On the very next snap, on 3rd-and-16, Jones completed a 27-yard pass to wide receiver Darius Slayton down to the 1-yard line despite tremendous pass pressure again. Two plays later, running back Rod Jones scored from one yard out. Giants 10 – Bengals 7.

    The Bengals responded with a 12-play drive that only picked up 43 yards, but it was good enough to set up a 50-yard field goal to tie the game at 10-10 right before halftime.

    Alex Tanney entered the game as New York’s quarterback to start the 3rd quarter. After picking up one first down, the Giants punted. The Bengals drove to the New York 30-yard line, but for the second time in the game, turned the ball over on downs. After two punts by the Giants and one by the Bengals, Cincinnati went up 17-10 early in the 4th quarter on a 5-play, 45-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass.

    With Kyle Lauletta now in at quarterback, the Giants responded with an 8-play, 74-yard effort that resulted in a 1-yard touchdown run by running back Jon Hilliman. On this drive, Lauletta completed two passes for 30 yards to tight end Garrett Dickerson, including one key 3rd-and-9 conversion. Lauletta also threw a 36-yard strike to wide receiver Reggie White, Jr. Head Coach Pat Shurmur decided to go for the 2-point conversion, and the Giants went up 18-17 on Lauletta’s pass to wide receiver Alonzo Russell.

    It looked like the Giants had safely put the game away after a Bengals’ three-and-out, followed by a 68-yard punt return for a touchdown by Brittan Golden. The Giants were now up 25-17 with seven minutes to go in the game. However, after another three-and-out by the Bengals, Golden muffed his next punt return. Cincinnati recovered at the Giants’ 35-yard line. Seven plays later, the Bengals scored on a 2-yard touchdown pass. Fortunately, the 2-point conversion failed.

    With 2:43 left on the clock, the Giants held onto a tenuous 25-23 lead. However, New York was able to run out the clock with an important 11-yard pass by Lauletta to tight end C.J. Conrad and then a 6-yard end-around by Reggie White, Jr.

    Eli Manning finished 2-of-4 for 41 yards, but also had two drops by Latimer. Daniel Jones completed 9-of-11 passes for 141 yards. Alex Tanney completed 2-o-6 for 25 yards. Kyle Lauletta was 4-of-7 for 77 yards. The leading rushers were Wayne Gallman (8 carries for 31 yards), Jon Hilliman (6 carries for 14 yards and a touchdown), and Rod Smith (5 carries for 8 yards and a touchdown). No player caught more than three passes, though Brittan Golden had two catches for 59 yards (and one drop).

    Defensively, the Giants accrued five sacks, including those by linebacker Oshane Ximines (2), linebacker Josiah Tauaefa, linebacker Keion Adams, and safety Sean Chandler. While the Giants did not force a turnover, they did have six tackles for a loss and eight pass defenses.

    Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

    INJURY REPORT…
    WR Sterling Shepard (thumb), WR Golden Tate (concussion), OT Chad Wheeler (back), OT George Asafo-Adjei (concussion), LB Alec Ogletree (calf), CB Deandre Baker (knee), CB Antonio Hamilton (groin), and CB Sam Beal (hamstring) did not play.

    Running back Saquon Barkley was a healthy scratch.

    Running back Rod Smith left the game with a groin injury and did not return.

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

    • Head Coach Pat Shurmur (Video)
    • QB Eli Manning (Video)
    • QB Daniel Jones (Video)
    • QB Kyle Lauletta (Video)

    GIANTS CUT DA’MARI SCOTT…
    The New York Giants have waived wide receiver Da’Mari Scott. The Giants claimed Scott off of waivers from the Buffalo Bills in July 2019. The 6’0”, 205-pound Scott was originally signed by the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. The Browns waived him in December and he was then signed by the Bills. While he played in three regular-season games with the Bills, he does not yet have a reception in the NFL.

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

    Aug 212019
     
    Share Button
    Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 16, 2019)

    Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

    Preseason Game Preview: New York Giants at Cincinnati Bengals, August 22, 2019

    THE STORYLINE:
    Aside from Golden Tate’s suspension, Sterling Shepard’s broken thumb, Sam Beal’s nagging hamstring, and George Asafo-Adjei’s concussion, this has been a relatively positive summer for the Giants. The team is relatively healthy (knock on wood), the offensive line is coming together, the receivers are being more productive than expected, the quarterbacks are playing well, and there are positive signs from a number of the young players on the defensive side of the football. Yes, there are concerns about the pass rush and cohesion on defense. And whether the coaches, media, and fans want to admit it or not, there is a full-fledged quarterback controversy/transition on the horizon. But the overall sense is the team is finally headed in the right direction.

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

    • WR Golden Tate (concussion)
    • WR Sterling Shepard (thumb)
    • OT George Asafo-Adjei (concussion)
    • LB Alec Ogletree (calf)
    • CB Deandre Baker (knee)
    • CB Antonio Hamilton (groin)
    • CB Sam Beal (hamstring)

    NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
    Yes, it’s only the preseason, and yes, opposing teams have played their back-ups more than their starters. But the Giants have scored 63 points in their first two games without Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram. This is after the Giants averaged over 27 points per game during the second half of the 2018 season. The Pat Shurmur-Mike Shula offense is becoming accustomed to scoring points. One wonders how productive this team will be once Barkley is running behind perhaps the team’s best offensive line since Tom Coughlin was winning Super Bowls.

    Eli Manning looked sharp on his only drive against the Bears’ second-team defense last week. He probably will see a bit more action this week but it doesn’t sound like Pat Shurmur intends for him to play past halftime (and he may pull him far sooner than that). We all know Manning became shell-shocked behind the inept offensive lines the team has field for the past seven years. Most quarterbacks don’t recover from that. We still need to see Eli consistently stand tough in the pocket and deliver accurate throws down-the-field in clutch situations when teams are coming after him. He’s got a competent offensive line in front of him now and the best running back he has ever played with (apologies to Tiki Barber, Brandon Jacobs, and Ahmad Bradshaw).

    For better or worse, Pat Shurmur has decided to put Barkley and Engram in bubble wrap this preseason. If either is going to play, it will be this game. If not, see you on opening day. Again, not to beat a dead horse, but we really haven’t seen this offense at full-strength yet this preseason. Yet, they are still scoring 30 points per game.

    It’s scary how similar Eli Manning and Daniel Jones are. Physically, they are roughly the same size. Both have boyish, “aw shucks” faces. They have similar temperaments and are equally adept at handling the press. And unfortunately, we are learning that both seem unfairly targeted for criticism by national media, fans, and other players around the league. Eli still gets mocked despite wearing two legitimage Super Bowl MVP rings and now Jones is fair game despite what he’s done in the preseason. I guess we’re going to have a cumulative 30-year span where Giants fans will have to tell these people to fuck off. If Jones ends up wearing a ring or two as well, so much the better.

    What impressed me the most last week about Jones was not ability to come off his original target and his continued pin-point accuracy, but the fact that he didn’t get flustered after his two fumbles. Veteran quarterbacks often struggle to rebound from that kind of adversity. Jones doesn’t have Eli’s arm (especially a 23-year old Eli). But his accuracy appears superior. And we still haven’t seen his wheels yet. Again, Jones is going to have his ups-and-downs. This isn’t Madden. There is a learning curve. But the arrow is definitely pointing up, and if I were a fan of another team in the NFC East, I wouldn’t be too happy with what I’ve seen so far.

    There has been one major surprise on this side of the football: a group of castoffs seem to be doing just fine at wide receiver. The supposed front-line players, Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard, haven’t been the ones making plays, but Bennie Fowler, T.J. Jones, Cody Latimer, Russell Shepard, and Alonzo Russell. It’s tough to see this group being this productive once they face starting-caliber cornerbacks for 60 minutes. But maybe, just maybe, these guys can do the job better than we thought? The game against the Bengals is another test.

    Another area that has surprised are the back-ups on the offensive line. Heading into camp, the second-team offensive line looked like trouble. And if you said that Chad Wheeler, Brian Mihalik, and George Asafo-Adjei were going to miss significant time, you would have been even more pessimistic. But Nick Gates, Chad Slade, and the others have been pleasant surprises. Good job by the coaching staff and these players. It looks like Asafo-Adjei ‘s rookie season is going to be a washout. I would like to get a good view of Mihalik, who was the second-string tackle before he missed time with a burner.

    I think it’s pretty safe to assume that Barkley is the #1 back and Gallman is the #2. Gallman hasn’t seen a lot of action this preseason as the coaches have taken a long look at the rest of the backs. Pat Shurmur was effusive in his praise of Eli Penny this week. It still would not shock me if the Giants only carry three backs (one being Penny) or if they do want another true halfback, that guy is not on the roster yet.

    At tight end, don’t discount Garrett Dickerson. In the competition against C.J. Conrad, he has appeared to be the better receiver. That said, despite his lack of classic size, Conrad looks like the better blocker. If I were Scott Simonson, I would not feel safe.

    NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
    The first-team defense has not impressed early in both preseason games, settling down after the initial drive. They need to start off stronger. The run defense hasn’t been bad, but it should be stronger than it has been as well. I do wonder if the Giants are playing Dexter Lawrence out of position, but it’s still very early.

    The good news is that some of the guys who need to come through in the pass rush department picked up sacks last week: Markus Golden, Oshane Ximines, and Olsen Pierre. I also saw flashes from Lorenzo Carter, including a nifty spin move that left his opponent grabbing for jersey. (That said, Carter also lost contain on an outside run). Stating the obvious again, so much depends on the pass rush.

    Even though he is supposedly recovering well, we probably won’t see Alec Ogletree again this preseason. That will prove more opportunities for Tae Davis, Ryan Connelly, Nate Stupar, B.J. Goodson, and Jonathan Anderson. One gets the sense that Goodson very much is fighting for a roster spot.

    Although none of the injuries are serious or long-term, the secondary is a bit undermanned right now. Starting corner Deandre Baker will miss his second game. The man he beat out for the job, Sam Beal, hasn’t played all preseason. The guy who filled in for both, Antonio Hamilton, is also now out. This will be a good chance for Corey Ballentine to impress, but again, expect inconsistent play and growing pains. Those fans suggesting the team should cut Beal should keep in mind how injuries can turn what looks like a strong unit into something else very quickly. Beal may very well be needed in October and November.

    At safety, keep an eye on Kenny Ladler, another no-name who keeps making plays.

    NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
    I’m still personally stunned at the Aldrick Rosas story. So far, 2018 doesn’t look like a fluke. On the flip side, the Bears gave me punter envy last week. And the Giants obviously are not too happy either, having claimed a punter off of waivers. Lost in the shuffle too was that Zak DeOssie (toe injury) didn’t long snap, Taybor Pepper did. I don’t think Zak’s job is at risk, but Zak isn’t going to play forever.

    I had been viewing T.J. Jones as a reliable but unspectacular punt returner until his muffed punt against the Bears. I still wonder who will be returning punts against the Cowboys? Will they have Jabrill Peppers do it?

    Corey Ballentine is being given a chance to win the kickoff return job, but on opening day, would the coaches prefer the security of having a veteran do it such as Cody Latimer or T.J. Jones?

    FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
    Head Coach Pat Shurmur on what he wants to see from his defense in this game: “I think they have to make sure they’re over-exaggerating their communication, being in all of the right spots, playing with the right leverage. Upfront, when the other team is throwing the ball, we have to be disruptive and get pressure on the quarterback.”

    THE FINAL WORD:
    Coaches normally don’t play their starters much in the preseason finale. This is probably the last good look we’ll have at many starters before the games count. In less than a week and a half, the Giants need to make at least 37 roster moves.

    Nov 152016
     
    Share Button
    Odell Beckham, New York Giants (November 14, 2016)

    Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

    New York Giants 21 – Cincinnati Bengals 20

    Overview

    We’ve become unaccustomed to this. It’s mid-November and the Giants are still alive! Winners of four straight, the Giants are a serious contender for a Wild Card playoff spot, and the division crown is still not quite out of reach. This was a big game for the Giants. The Cowboys, Eagles, and Redskins all won on Sunday. The pressure was on New York to keep pace on Monday night. With seven games to go, and two very winnable games next on deck, Giants are in very good shape at 6-3.

    Giants on Offense

    The Giants had 13 offensive possessions, but four only really stand out: the first and last drives of the first half that resulted in touchdowns, the touchdown drive at the end of the 3rd/beginning of the 4th quarter, and the last drive where the Giants ran out the clock. These four drives accounted for 16 of the team’s 23 first downs and 238 of the team’s 351 net yards. The other nine possessions ended with two interceptions, one turnover on downs, and six punts.

    The Giants remain heavily pass-centric. In 72 offensive plays, the Giants called 46 passes, 24 runs, and two kneel-downs. The Giants did not hit on any big plays. While the Giants had four plays over 20 yards, none was longer than 25 yards. The Giants were only penalized once on offense.

    Quarterback

    As Eli Manning goes, so goes the Giants offense. Eli was masterful on the team’s opening drive as he completed all six pass attempts and the Giants easily drove 80 yards downfield for an early touchdown. The Giants next four possessions resulted in 72 yards, two punts, one turnover on downs, and one interception as Manning went 9-of-16 with one pick. Manning then went 4-of-5 (with one drop) on the team’s final drive of the first half as the Giants drove 75 yards for their second touchdown.

    Outside of the game-winning, 47-yard drive, Manning was pretty much a non-factor in the second half of the game. To be fair, however, Manning had a number of passes dropped. Manning was again 4-of-5 on the scoring possession, including the clutch 3-yard touchdown throw on 4th-and-goal. His second interception after the Bengals turnover was a terrible decision. Manning finished the game 28-of-44 (63.6 percent of his passes) for 240 yards (net 229 yards – 5.1 yards per pass play), 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. The Giants longest pass play was their first – the 25-yarder to Will Tye.

    Running Backs

    A “breakout” game for the Giants running backs as Rashad Jennings (15 carries for 87 yards) and Paul Perkins (9 carries for 31 yards) totaled 118 yards on 24 carries (4.9 yards per carry). Most of the damage came in the second half as Jennings and Perkins were limited to 37 yards on 12 carries (3.1 yards per carry) through the first 30 minutes of the contest.

    Jennings had a number of key plays, including a 16-yard reception on the first TD drive, a 24-yard run on the game-winning drive, a 9-yard run on 3rd-and-6 late in the game, and then a 25-yard run to seal the deal. That said, outside of the 16-yard reception, the passes to the backs did not amount to much as Jennings caught 3-of-6 passes thrown in his direction (with two drops) for 22 yards and all three passes intended for Perkins fell incomplete.

    Wide Receivers

    Odell Beckham remains the centerpiece as he was targeted 11 times, with 10 of those passes being completed for 97 yards and a touchdown despite constant double teams. His sick double-move against Pacman Jones put the Giants up 14-10 at the break. While not putting up big numbers, Sterling Shepard is increasingly becoming a factor. He caught another touchdown this week – the game-winner on 4th-and-goal. He finished with 42 yards on five receptions. Shepard did drop a 3rd-and-4 pass, causing a punt.

    Victor Cruz (ankle) did not play and was replaced by Roger Lewis, Jr., who had been a very pleasant surprise coming into the game. However, national TV spotlight seemed to get the best of of Lewis’ nerves as he struggled. Lewis caught 1-of-4 passes thrown in his direction for just two yards. Lewis dropped a perfectly-thrown 3rd-and-7 deep pass from Manning that led to a punt. In the 3rd quarter, Lewis wasn’t on the same page with Manning on an incomplete deep throw on 3rd-and-4, leading to another punt. Tavarres King was activated and played a lot of snaps (45). He caught one pass for six yards and also drew a 10-yard pass interference penalty.

    Tight Ends

    Larry Donnell continued to ride the pine as the Giants move forward with Will Tye (5 catches for 53 yards) and Jerell Adams (3 catches for 18 yards). Tye started the Giants off with a 25-yard reception on the first TD drive that was culminated by Adams’ first touchdown reception (from 10 yards out). Adams did fumble and was lucky the ball bounced out-of-bounds. Tye dropped a pass.

    Offensive Line

    The Giants were forced to scramble when left guard Justin Pugh’s replacement – Brett Jones – was injured on the first drive. He was replaced by tackle Marshall Newhouse. The line struggled a bit in the first half before settling down and playing decently against a good defensive line. Giants backs rushed for 118 yards on 24 carries (4.9 yards per carry). Manning was sacked once and officially hit six times. Newhouse deserves credit for being able to adjust on the fly. He was penalized for an illegal block. The low point came when Weston Richburg and Newhouse were beat by DT Geno Atkins for an 11-yard sack on 4th-and-2. Atkins also gave John Jerry issues at times; DE Wallace Gilberry also beat Jerry once for a big hit on Manning. Adam Gettis saw some late playing time and performed well.

    Giants on Defense

    The defense played exceptionally well. Coming into the game, the Bengals were 4th in the NFL in passing and 7th in rushing. The Giants only gave up 12 first downs, 78 net yards rushing, and 186 net yards passing (and 71 of those yards came on one play). After giving up a 3-play, 80-yard drive to start the game, the longest drive allowed was only 41 yards, which resulted in a field goal. The other 10 points were set up by an 84-yard kickoff return and an interception that was returned to the Giants 7-yard line. Holding the Bengals to a field goal after the interception was decisive. The defense was only penalized once.

    Defensive Line

    The defensive line appears to be getting stronger as the season wears on. Olivier Vernon had a strong game, leading the team with 10 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 tackles for losses. Jason Pierre-Paul isn’t putting up the numbers, but he was a factor with 5 tackles, 2 QB hits, and 2 pass defenses. Damon Harrison had another strong game with 8 tackles (a very high number for a DT), 0.5 sacks, and 1 tackle for a loss. Johnathan Hankins only had one tackle, but it was for a loss. Reserve Robert Thomas was surprisingly productive with 1 sack and 1 tackle for a loss in limited action. Cincinnati running backs were limited to 63 yards on 22 carries (2.9 yards per carry). QB Andy Dalton was sacked twice and hit five times by linemen. The line also did a nice job of containing the mobile quarterback from doing damage on the ground (only one rush for 15 yards).

    The high point for the line came in the 4th quarter. The Giants stuffed the Bengals on 3rd-and-1 to end one drive. On the next series, Pierre-Paul smashed into Dalton to cause one incomplete pass followed by back-to-back 7-yard sacks. Cincinnati never got the ball back.

    Linebackers

    Jonathan Casillas was questionable coming into the game with a calf injury. He played and finished the game with 5 tackles, 0.5 sacks, and 1 tackle for a loss. The other linebackers were pretty quiet in the play-making department: Kelvin Sheppard (3 tackles), Devon Kennard (2 tackles), and Keenan Robinson (2 tackles). That said, aside from one play where Casillas was beaten for a 71-yard gain by TE Tyler Eifert out of a bizarre formation, the Giants did a great job in coverage on the tight ends and running backs. Eifert only caught two more passes for 25 yards. Running back Giovani Bernard caught only three passes for 19 yards. No other back or tight end had a reception. Sheppard did miss one tackle but later did a nice job sniffing out a screen pass.

    Defensive Backs

    The secondary did a marvelous job. A.J. Green – one of the very best wide receivers in football – was held to seven catches for 68 yards and a touchdown. The other receivers? Tyler Boyd caught two passes for 12 yards and Brandon LaFell one catch for nine yards. That was it!!! Jenkins made a fantastic play by fighting off a block and tackling Green for no gain on a 3rd-and-goal pass right after Eli’s first interception.

    Landon Collins is making a serious push for Pro Bowl honors with his fourth interception in three games. Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC), and Trevin Wade were all credited with pass defenses. Wade’s hit on Boyd at the goal line on 3rd-and-5 dislodged the ball and saved a touchdown. Eli Apple rebounded with a strong game. He played every defensive snap as DRC was limited (14 snaps) with a back issue. Apple’s tight coverage on LaFell on 3rd-and-9 late in the 3rd quarter was a big play. Coty Sensabaugh actually played more than Wade and was the primary slot corner. He was very steady as was free safety Andrew Adams. The biggest negative was that Jenkins was flagged for defensive holding on an incomplete 3rd-and-15 pass.

    Giants on Special Teams

    The lowlight of night was arguably the 84-yard kickoff return that enabled the Bengals to take a 17-14 lead early in the 3rd quarter. None of Robbie Gould’s four kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. The other returns went for 23, 23, and 15 yards. Romeo Okwara flashed on kickoff coverage with two strong tackles. Brad Wing punted six times, averaging 46 yards per punt (40.2 net) with two downed inside the 20-yard line. The Bengals returned three punts for 35 yards, the longest being a decent-sized 18-yard gain.

    The Giants return game was pretty anemic. Dwayne Harris returned two kickoffs for 21 and 16 yards, and Bobby Rainey one kickoff for 16 yards. Harris had one punt return for eight yards. Rainey returned three punts for 32 yards. He did have one decent 15-yard return.

    (Cincinnati Bengals at New York Giants, November 14, 2016)
    Nov 152016
     
    Share Button
    Landon Collins, New York Giants (November 14, 2016)

    Landon Collins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

    NEW YORK GIANTS 21 – CINCINNATI BENGALS 20…
    The New York Giants defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 21-20 on Monday night at MetLife Stadium. With the victory, the Giants improved their overall record to 6-3.

    The Giants out-gained the Bengals in first downs (23 to 12), total offensive plays (72 to 55), total net yards (351 to 264), net yards rushing (122 to 78), and net yards passing (229 to 186). The Bengals were held to 2-of-11 (18 percent) on 3rd down conversion attempts.

    Both teams scored touchdowns on their opening drives. The Giants first drove 80 yards in eight plays. Quarterback Eli Manning started this possession off with a 25-yard pass to tight end Will Tye and finished it with a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jerell Adams. But the Bengals quickly tied the game in three plays, with the biggest being a 71-yard pass from quarterback Andy Dalton to tight end Tyler Eifert. Dalton finished the possession off with a 13-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver A.J. Green. The game was tied at 7-7.

    The next four Giants possessions ended with two punts, a turnover on downs, and an interception. The Bengals punted three times in a row before Manning’s interception. The turnover set up Cincinnati at the Giants 7-yard line. The defense held and forced a 25-yard field goal. New York’s offense then responded with an 8-play, 75-yard drive that culminated with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Manning to wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. to give the Giants a 14-10 lead at the half.

    The Bengals returned the opening kickoff of the 3rd quarter 84 yards to the Giants 13-yard line. Two plays later, running back Jeremy Hill scored from nine yards out as the Bengals regained the lead 17-14. After a three-and-out by the Giants offense, Cincinnati added to their advantage by putting together a 7-play, 41-yard drive that set up a successful 38-yard field goal. The Bengals now led 20-14.

    Both teams exchanged punts on their next two possessions. Late in the 3rd quarter and early in the 4th quarter, the Giants put together their game-winning drive after forcing the Bengals to punt from deep in their own territory. Starting on the Cincinnati 47-yard line, the Giants drove to the Bengals 3-yard line where they faced 4th-and-goal. Head Coach Ben McAdoo decided to go for it and was rewarded when Manning found wide receiver Sterling Shepard for the score. Giants 21 – Bengals 20.

    Both teams then exchanged interceptions. First, safety Landon Collins picked off Dalton. Then Manning gave the ball right back to the Bengals on the very next play. But New York’s defense forced a three-and-out. Both teams exchanged punts before the Giants ran out the final three minutes of the game.

    Offensively, Manning finished the game 28-of-44 for 240 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. His leading receivers were Beckham (10 catches for 97 yards and a touchdown), Tye (5 catches for 53 yards), and Shepard (5 catches for 42 yards and a touchdown). Running back Rashad Jennings rushed for 87 yards on 15 carries and running back Paul Perkins chipped in with 31 yards on nine carries.

    Defensively, defensive end Olivier Vernon led the team with 10 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 tackles for losses. Defensive tackle Robert Thomas had one sack and defensive tackle Damon Harrison and linebacker Jonathan Casillas had half-sacks. Collins had the Giants lone turnover with his interception.

    Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.

    INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
    Inactive for the game were wide receiver Victor Cruz (ankle), left guard Justin Pugh (knee), defensive end Kerry Wynn (concussion), cornerback Leon Hall, offensive tackle Will Beatty, linebacker Deontae Skinner, and quarterback Josh Johnson.

    Left guard Brett Jones strained his calf in the 1st quarter and did not return. He was replaced by Marshall Newhouse. Wide receiver/returner Dwayne Harris left the game with a toe injury and did not play in the second half.

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

    POST-GAME NOTES…
    QB Eli Manning was credited with his 33rd fourth-quarter, game-winning drive (leading the Giants to victories in games in which they trailed or were tied in the fourth quarter).

    WR Odell Beckham set the NFL record for the fewest number of games (36) to reach 3,500 receiving yards.

    S Landon Collins has four interceptions in his last three games.

    TOM COUGHLIN, ERNIE ACCORSI, JUSTIN TUCK INDUCTED INTO RING OF HONOR…
    Former New York Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin (2004-2015), General Manager Ernie Accorsi (1998-2007), and defensive end Justin Tuck (2005-2013) were officially inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor at halftime during Monday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. A video of the ceremony is available at Giants.com.

    ARTICLES…

    Nov 122016
     
    Share Button
    Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 14, 2015)

    Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

    Game Preview: Cincinnati Bengals at New York Giants, November 14, 2016

    THE STORYLINE:
    The 5-3 New York Giants are currently in second place in the once-again competitive NFC East behind the 7-1 Dallas Cowboys. Most figure the Cowboys are shoo-ins for the division title, but keep in mind the Giants have already beaten the Cowboys once. If the Giants can get within one game of Dallas, the December 11th game against the Cowboys at MetLife Stadium looms large.

    First the Giants must defeat the always-schizophrenic Cincinnati Bengals, a 3-4-1 team that at times looks like world beaters and at other times an also-ran.

    THE INJURY REPORT:

    • QB Ryan Nassib (elbow) – probable
    • WR Victor Cruz (ankle) – questionable
    • OG Justin Pugh (knee) – out
    • DE Kerry Wynn (concussion) – questionable
    • LB Jonathan Casillas (calf) – questionable
    • S Andrew Adams (shoulder) – questionable

    NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
    The Bengals run a 4-3 defense that is currently ranked 25th in the NFL (23rd against the run, 21st against the pass). The strength of the defense is the defensive line, led by DT Geno Atkins (3.5 sacks) and LDE Carlos Dunlap (5 sacks). The line may not get a lot of sacks, but they get pressure (hits on the QB) and knock down a lot of passes. The linebacking corps will be missing middle linebacker Rey Maualuga. It is a physical but not overly athletic group. The safeties are big and there is some talent at corner.

    The Giants are coming off a 28-point “explosion” against the Philadelphia Eagles and are looking to build upon that success. Look for Ben McAdoo to rely more and more on young players like WR Roger Lewis, RB Paul Perkins, and TE Jerell Adams moving forward. Lewis adds more explosiveness to the wide receiver position than Victor Cruz, as does Perkins to the running back spot.

    The chief challenges are up front. The two weakest links on the Giants offensive line will be facing the Bengals best players. The undersized Brett Jones fills in for the injured Justin Pugh at left guard. His first start will be against Atkins, who is one of the NFL’s best defensive tackles. Right tackle Bobby Hart will have his hands full with Dunlap.

    That all said, this is an opponent who the Giants can move the ball against. The Giants have done a good job of cutting down their offensive penalties (although there were a few frustrating false starts last week). It’s now time to cut down on the turnovers. Play a clean game. Spread the less athletic Bengals out and get the ball to Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, Roger Lewis, and Paul Perkins in the open field.

    NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
    The strength of this current Bengals team is their offense, which is currently ranked 6th in the NFL (7th in rushing, 4th in passing). The Bengals have an experienced offensive line and are loaded at the skill positions. Why the team can be so schizophrenic at times is the play of their quarterback – Andy Dalton. That said, Dalton is completing 67 percent of his passes, has only thrown three interceptions, and fields a 98.0 quarterback rating.

    The headliners are the passing targets, but the Bengals have a very underrated running game. Running back Jeremy Hill averages 5.0 yards per carry and has scored five touchdowns. Giovani Bernard has chipped in with two more. The Giants defensive must prevent the Bengals from being multi-dimensional on offense and keep the team’s ground game under control.

    When the Bengals throw the ball, they have two very dangerous targets: All-World wide receiver A.J. Green and tight end Tyler Eifert, who missed a lot of time due to an injury but who is healthy now. Dalton also throws a lot to Giovani Bernard out of the backfield (31 receptions). Ex-Patriots wideout Brandon LaFell (4 touchdowns) has benefited from the attention that Green receives.

    To date, the Giants two top corners – Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – have done a very good job of shutting down their individual opponents on a game-by-game basis. But Dalton won’t be afraid to throw to Green against these two. This is a game where Jenkins and DRC really could impress if they keep Green’s damage to a minimum. What has to worry Steve Spagnuolo however is the 152 yards accrued by Eagles tight ends last week and now having to face Eifert, who is one of the best pass-receiving tight ends in the game. It will be very difficult to double Green and Eifert and stop the running game. This is why the Bengals can be so dangerous. If the Giants play back, the Bengals will run the ball. I hate to say it, but much depends on what version of Dalton shows up on Monday night.

    NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
    The Giants are rapidly turning into a special teams unit that can block field goals and punts. On the other hand, Dwayne Harris really appears to be in a funk. Not only has he yet to break a big one, he is making questionable choices in the return game. We have yet to see Robbie Gould in a pressure-packed FG situation. Brad Wing and the punt coverage team is coming off of a weak game against the Eagles.

    FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
    Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo on Bengals WR A.J. Green: “He is an elite wide receiver. I have talked to Leon Hall a lot this week about A.J. This is what I was talking to Leon about – he has a unique ability, A.J. Green waits the last minute, stick his hands out and catches the ball… A.J. has great hands, he is a bigger wide out, with really good quickness. We have to find a way to slow him down. We can’t let him wreck the football game. That is a good football player, but we will have different people on him and do different things and (Janoris Jenkins) will be one of them. ”

    THE FINAL WORD:
    Don’t let the Bengals losing record fool you. They are a dangerous team with a fine defensive line and a well-rounded and potentially explosive offense. We are about to discover if the Giants are going to be serious contenders for the division title or if they will have to focus on a Wild Card spot.

    Aug 152015
     
    Share Button
    Orleans Darkwa, New York Giants (August 14, 2015)

    Orleans Darkwa – © USA TODAY Sports Images

    Cincinnati Bengals 23 – New York Giants 10

    Game Overview

    It’s usually unwise to make too much of preseason games, particularly the first contest. Every year we see teams that look great in the preseason founder in the regular season and teams that look terrible go on to post-season glory.

    But we have to evaluate what we have to work with, and there were not many positives coming out of the New York Giants initial preseason performance. The Giants were clearly out-classed and if this game was in fact a true indication of New York’s overall talent level, then the Giants are going to have a rough 2015 season.

    But as bad as the Giants were on the field, the truly disappointing result was the rash of injuries to an already injury-plagued defensive backfield. Coming into the game, the Giants were missing cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin) and Chykie Brown (knee) and safety Nat Berhe (calf). Mykkele Thompson ruptured his Achilles’ tendon during the game and is done for the season. Safety Landon Collins (knee), cornerback Jayron Hosley (neck and possible concussion), and cornerback Trumaine McBride (hamstring) all left the contest and did not return. Collins will miss at least a couple of weeks of practice time he cannot afford to miss. The net effect was that the Giants were running out of defensive backs to put on the field in only their first preseason game.

    As for the action on the field, the results were also not good. The Giants are still having problems in areas that sabotaged their 2014 season:

    • While the run blocking wasn’t as bad as it first appeared, there were three negative plays by the first-team line on the two runs by Andre Williams and the 3rd-and-1 short-yardage play to Shane Vereen.
    • The first-team defense looked dreadful both against the run and pass as the Cincinnati starters cut through them like butter.
    • The Giants could not stop the run all night, allowing an unacceptable 225 rushing yards.

    In a nutshell, the Giants had trouble moving the ball and the Bengals didn’t. The game was not as close as the somewhat lopsided score would indicate. The Giants got their asses kicked.

    Offensive Overview

    The Giants starting offense was so bad that Tom Coughlin kept quarterback Eli Manning and the starting offense in for four drives and the entire first quarter. In 15 plays, they only gained 38 yards and one first down. The first three drives were three-and-outs. The Giants did manage a touchdown drive in the second quarter with the first-team offensive line in the game with back-up skill position players, and then chipped in another field goal later in the quarter. But that was it. In the end, the Giants only gained a paltry 13 first downs and 118 passing yards. The team did rush for 106 yards, with Orleans Darkwa responsible for almost half of that production.

    Quarterbacks

    The Giants only passed for 118 net yards as New York never really threatened the Bengals deep. Everything was largely dink-and-dunk. The longest play was Ryan Nassib’s 28-yard throw to TE Jerome Cunningham. Eli Manning completed only 4-of-8 passes for 22 yards, with 16 of those coming on a screen pass, despite very good pass protection. Manning and RB Rashad Jennings didn’t sell a swing pass, leading to a 5-yard loss on the first drive. The play was too hurried. Manning was hurt by a couple of third-down drops by wideouts Rueben Randle and Preston Parker.

    It was a disappointing night for Nassib (8-of-18 for 79 yards) who didn’t do much with his extended playing time. Nassib had pretty good pass protection, but he tended to take off with the ball quite a bit. He was also off-the-mark on way too many of this throws. Ricky Stanzi (3-of-7 for 34 yards) has no chance to make the team, but he didn’t really look all that bad. His stats would have looked better had wideouts James Jones and Justin Talley been able to keep both feet in-bounds. Stanzi also wasn’t helped by some shoddy late pass protection. Stanzi’s last fourth down throw into the end zone was right on the mark too, but Derrick Johnson couldn’t come down with the reception given the tight coverage.

    Running Backs

    The stats for the big three were disappointing as three of the six running plays were not well blocked: Rashad Jennings (2 carries for 14 yards), Shane Vereen (2 carries for 4 yards), and Andre Williams (2 carries for -2 yards). Williams did have a 16-yard gain on a screen pass and Jennings gained six yards on another pass.

    The most productive player on the field for the Giants was Orleans Darkwa (9 carries for 52 yards and a touchdown), who ran with vision and power. The diminutive Akeem Hunt (3 carries for 18 yards) also flashed. The problem? Is there a roster spot for either? Darkwa did pretty well on blitz pick-ups while Hunt was late on one effort, causing Ryan Nassib to scramble out of the pocket.

    Wide Receivers

    Not a productive night. Odell Beckham played but wasn’t on the same page as Eli Manning on his only chance of the night. Rueben Randle (knee tendinitis) looked gimpy and did not have a catch. He dropped a 3rd-down back-shoulder throw and left after three snaps. Victor Cruz (knee) did not play. The leading receiver, Julian Talley (3 catches for 34 yards), is a long shot to make the team. He also couldn’t come down with one on-the-mark sideline throw from Stanzi. Dwayne Harris had one catch for 15 yards, James Jones two catches for 11 yards, Corey Washington one catch for eight yards, and Geremy Davis one catch for five yards. Washington did not distinguish himself despite a number of opportunities. Preston Parker dropped a third-down pass. Harris also dropped a pass. Jones couldn’t keep his feet in bounds on a well-thrown ball from Stanzi.

    “I didn’t think our receivers played well,” said Tom Coughlin.

    Tight Ends

    Other than Jerome Cunningham’s one catch for 28 yards to set up the team’s second-quarter field goal, the tight ends were really a non factor. Adrien Robinson is supposed to be this amazing athlete, but he looks very cumbersome to me. He had two catches for 12 yards. Larry Donnell was very quiet with one catch for five yards. Larry Donnell did not get a good block on the failed 3rd-and-1 running play early in the second quarter. I didn’t care for Adrien Robinson’s effort run blocking on one play in the third quarter that was stuffed.

    Offensive Line

    The first-team offensive line did better than the media and fans thought they did. Pass protection was very solid. And although there were blocking mistakes on the two runs by Andre Williams, the run blocking was not as bad as it first appeared.

    On the first possession, many blamed RT Marshall Newhouse for the 5-yard loss on the swing pass, but there was nothing Newhouse could do. Manning and Jennings didn’t sell the play and the defensive end simply reversed his field to make the tackle. On the second drive, RG John Jerry’s man blew into the backfield to nail Andre Williams (bad play #1). There was immediate pressure on Eli on second down but that’s because the Bengals didn’t bite on the play-action off a naked boot and the unblocked end was in Manning’s face. The Giants had good pass protection on third-and-long but there was miscommunication between Manning and Beckham.

    The good news is that despite a face mask penalty on Ereck Flowers (bad play #2), he really didn’t look all that bad in his first real live action. On the play where he got the penalty, he grabbed at his man after being knocked off balance. On the next snap, Jerry did a nice job of engaging the middle linebacker on a draw play that picked up good yardage. On the next snap, all five offensive linemen provided excellent pass protection and followed that up with good protection on 3rd down, but Preston Parker dropped the ball.

    On Eli’s fourth and last series, Weston Richburg’s man got past him and almost decapitated Andre Williams (bad play #3). The really disappointing moment was the failure to convert on 3rd-and-1 behind Newhouse and Jerry. However, it appears that Larry Donnell was the chief culprit in allowing penetration on that play.

    Ironically, where the right side of the line had some issues run blocking was on the team’s best drive of the game, the TD drive in the second quarter. But Darkwa showed good vision navigating around penetration. Of the starters, Justin Pugh stood out as the guy didn’t make any mistakes. Flowers and Richburg each had one negative play. Jerry had a couple of issues in run blocking. Newhouse did not play as poorly as many say he did.

    The second-team offensive line had some shaky moments, but played better than expected. That line was composed of Emmett Cleary at left tackle, Adam Gettis at left guard, Dallas Reynolds at center, Eric Herman at right guard, and Brandon Mosley at right tackle. The Giants best running play came with this group as they opened a big hole for Darkwa to gain 20 yards. But the drive stalled after back-to-back poor pass protection plays, first by Clearly and then by Mosley. On the next series, Mosley moved to right guard and Bobby Hart was inserted at right tackle. This group did an OK job in pass protection. The Giants later went back to Mosley at right tackle and Herman at right guard, but I thought Hart did a pretty good job at right tackle.

    Late in the game, the Giants had Sean Donnelly at left tackle, Michael Bamiro at left guard, Brett Jones at center, Herman at right guard, and Hart back at right tackle. Herman gave up a couple of sacks late in the contest. His man got around him on the first and he couldn’t recover when Akeem Hunt got in the way. On the second, Herman failed to pick up the stunt.

    Mosley and Donnelly were flagged with false starts and Gettis with a questionable holding penalty.

    Defensive Overview

    Growing pains under Steve Spagnulo’s new defensive scheme are to be expected, especially throughout the preseason and early regular season. But the Bengals starting offense ripped though the Giants starting defense in six plays for what was a far-too-easy touchdown drive on their first possession. Minus starting quarterback Andy Dalton, the Bengals also continued to move the ball against the starters on their second drive, resulting in a field goal and a quick 10-0 lead. There were issues in both pass and run defense. The second teamers gave up an 11-play, 80 yard touchdown drive in the second quarter too.

    While the second- and third-teamers only held the Bengals reserves to six second-half points, Cincinnati didn’t have much trouble moving the ball after intermission either until reaching the red zone (they also missed a very short field goal). The mobile back-up quarterback gave the Giants problems with his legs and the Bengals called a lot of misdirection plays. The good news? This experience will help the young players.

    It was interesting to see some early signs on how Spagnuolo will generate pass pressure in this defense. The blitz packages already look smoother and more professional than under Perry Fewell. They were not as easy to spot by the opposition and the quarterback took some shots.

    The most damning statistic of the night was the defense allowing 225 yards rushing. You can’t win if you can’t stop the run. It’s also an indication that your team isn’t very tough and physical.

    Defensive Line

    The Giants started off with Johnathan Hankins and Markus Kuhn at defensive tackle and Robert Ayers and Cullen Jenkins at defensive end. The coaching staff keeps talking up Kuhn but he’s not making any plays in games. He got pushed around far too often. Hankins had a decent pass rush on one play on the opening drive.

    On the second series, things looked more natural with Ayers and George Selvie at defensive end and both of them blew up the first run. Selvie, who played right defensive end, also helped to stuff another run to his side. On the next snap, Ayers got immediate pressure in the quarterback’s face, leading to a clean-up sack by Jenkins and Damontre Moore. Jenkins pressured the quarterback off a stunt on third down on the next series, leading to a punt.

    In the second quarter, Selvie and Kerry Wynn played defensive end. Wynn helped to stuff a run and then Selvie got a decent bull rush on the quarterback. Owamagbe Odighizuwa had a rough start at left defensive end when he was easily taken out of running play to his side that picked up good yardage. Damontre Moore also had some issues holding up at the point-of-attack at left end, but did make one nice play to his side that Jay Bromley helped to gum up. That said, Bromley and Kerry both got handled on the 2-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter.

    What caused the most problems for the young defensive ends in the second half was misdirection. Wynn and Odighizuwa bit too hard on play fakes, opening up the perimeter. Bromley made some plays in the third quarter both defending the run and rushing the passer. Kenrick Ellis looked pretty stout inside and he helped to pressure the quarterback into a clean-up sack by Wynn and Cooper Taylor. (Ellis was also held on the play).

    What was a bit troubling is that guys like Selvie and Moore were playing against back-ups in the third quarter and often were not getting enough pressure. That doesn’t bode well for when they have to up against NFL starters when the games count.

    Linebackers

    Jon Beason got beat by the tight end for a first down on the Bengals first offensive snap and then got effectively taken out on a run up the gut for another first down on the second play. Devon Kennard looked good at times in coverage and against the run, but he also got clobbered on one second-quarter running play to his side. J.T. Thomas was invisible.

    Uani Unga flashed in run defense, but couldn’t make a play on the running back in space after a short catch, leading to a big gain down inside the 5-yard line. Jonathan Casillas did a nice job of reading screen and tackling the running back for a loss. Cole Farrand was easily blocked and also had some issues with misdirection. He disrupted one run by aggressively filling the gap at the line, but got caught too far inside on another run to his side. Tony Johnson made a nice tackle in the backfield in the fourth quarter.

    Defensive Backs

    Aside from cornerback Trevin Wade (who also got beat deep for 42 yards), there weren’t many positives. Landon Collins looked gimpy (probably the ankle he tweaked in practice) early and then lost valuable playing time by hurting his knee. Mykkele Thompson had a real shot to contribute this year and is now done for the season. Jayron Hosley was forced to leave the contest with a neck injury and possible concussion. Trumaine McBride also left with a hamstring issue that Coughlin said was troubling McBride before the game.

    Hosley got beat for a first down by WR A.J. Green on the Bengals third offensive play. It looks like Bennett Jackson covered the wrong guy and left WR Mohamed Sanu wide open for the touchdown three plays later (Jeromy Miles looked late getting over to cover the guy Jackson covered too). Collins got beat over the middle by the tight end on the second series, but he was also picked by his own man (Hosley) on the play.

    Jackson had good coverage on a second-down incomplete pass to a tight end. Cooper Taylor looked out of position on a 30-yard completion early in the third quarter.

    Wade did get beat deep on one play but looked like the best corner on the field other than Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He has a nose for the football, as indicated by a few pass defenses and an interception that he returned 61 yards late in the game. He almost had another interception early in the third quarter when he jumped another route but dropped the ball on what might have been a pick 6 opportunity.

    Cornerback Chandler Fenner was picked on all evening and doesn’t look like an NFL-caliber player.

    Josh Gordy looked good on a corner blitz that forced an incompletion but he was also flagged with a 30-yard pass interference penalty. He later batted down a third-down pass in the red zone. Late in the game, he missed the running back in the backfield on a blitz, leading to a 26-yard gain.

    Justin Currie was active against the run.

    Special Teams Overview

    One of the best plays of the night for the Giants was Akeem Hunt’s 70-yard kickoff return. The Giants couldn’t get anything going with their punt returns. Josh Brown missed a 53-yard field goal but made a 41-yarder. Punt and kickoff return coverage was good.

    (New York Giants at Cincinnati Bengals, August 14, 2015)