Aug 252021
 
Share Button
Raymond Johnson, New York Giants (August 22, 2021)

Raymond Johnson – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

Week 2 of the 3-week preseason brought NYG to Cleveland, a spot they spent all week practicing against a 2020 playoff team, the Cleveland Browns. These intra-squad practices have become the norm for most teams around the league. Because of the increased intensity during the week, the vast majority of starters on both sides of the ball did not play a single snap. Head Coach Joe Judge did state that next week’s preseason matchup against New England, the final one, will feature the starters for a good chunk of time. This game, however, was one of the final pieces to the puzzle for the back-end-of-roster building as there are still several question marks at a few spots when diagnosing who will be on that final 53-man roster.

The Giants’ running game got off to a solid start, but their opening drive stalled at midfield with 2 straight incompletions by Mike Glennon. CLE then took their opening drive down the field with little resistance from the NYG defense. Their opening 6 plays netted respective gains of 7, 8, 14, 12, 13, and 18 yards, putting them inside the NYG 10-yard line. After a 2nd down drop in the end zone by receiver Rashard Higgins and a sack by Oshane Ximines, CLE opted to go for it on 4th and Goal from the 7. Case Keenum hit KhaDarel Hodge for the score.

NYG responded with a time-consuming drive of their own, showing everything you want to see out of an offense. Balanced play-calling with efficient gains on early downs, a 3rd-down conversion, and quality blocking. Their 11-play drive ended with a Devontae Booker 1-yard touchdown where he dove over the pile right down the middle. The score was tied up at 7 and it would remain that way for the rest of the first half.

CLE did make their way inside the NYG 10-yard line again, aided by a questionable 3rd down pass interference penalty called on Carter Coughlin. On the ensuing 3rd down, this one from the NYG 9, Keenum had his time in the pocket, but the coverage was on point. He tried to fit a ball into tight end Jordan Franks, but it was picked off by Quincy Wilson, one of the team’s standout performers all summer.

The two offenses traded uneventful drives; CLE being led by former Giants backup signal caller Kyle Lauletta. He peppered the defense with several short air-yard passing attempts and rarely looked downfield. They did reach midfield but ran out of time and timeouts as the NYG pass rush was consistently causing disruption.

The second half was highlighted by the newest NYG quarterback, Brian Lewerke. Signed just a week prior to this game, he marched out onto the field with the backups. His first two drives were uneventful 3-and-outs while the NYG defense got roasted on the second- and third-level by the Lauletta-led CLE offense. They scored their second touchdown of the day on a 5-yard run by second-year back John Kelly.

On the Giants’ first possession of the 4th quarter, still down 14-7, Lewerke threw a couple of nice passes on the move outside of the numbers. On this drive, he really turned some heads. He started it off going 3-for-3 before picking up 20 yards on a designed quarterback keeper. Thanks to 20 yards of CLE penalties and 8 yards picked up by rookie running back Gary Brightwell on two runs, Lewerke found himself 3rd-and-4 from the CLE 8-yard line. He threw a strike to David Sills IV, who made a nice play on the ball, before failing the two-point conversion pass. NYG was down 14-13 with just over 7:00 left.

The ugly tackling, a notable trend we have now seen for two straight weeks, reached the low point on the ensuing CLE drive. Multiple missed tackles by the back seven heavily aided Kelly as he picked up 43 yards on 4 touches via both the run and pass. It put them on the NYG 31, which netted them an additional 3 points with just over 2 minutes left. CLE had a solid 4-point lead.

The Lewerke-led offense did put together another impressive drive in what you would call a “pressure” situation in preseason terms. He converted a 3rd-and- 19 to tight end Rysen John, a 4th-and-6th to running back Gary Brightwell, and a 4th-and-8 to Damion Willis. Really impressive performance from the 2020 undrafted free agent. The game, however, did end on a desperation throw that was intercepted by rookie safety Richard LeCounte in the end zone.

CLE wins, 17-13.

QUARTERBACK

-Mike Glennon and Brian Lewerke both looked sharp in this one, all things considered. They got the ball out quickly and accurately and seemed to have their timing down well. They went a combined 21/32 for 194 yards 1 TD / 1 INT and another 27 yards on the ground. The pass protection was solid enough for the coaches to get a proper feel for these two. Lewerke was good once he got a few drives under his belt, notably on 3rd and 4th down. Is there a subtle QB competition going on for that backup spot? Probably not. Glennon is making a half-million guaranteed. However, Lewerke could earn a spot on the practice squad. Something worth keeping an eye on.

RUNNING BACK

-Devontae Booker got the start and was only in there for a quarter of the plays. He appeared less-rusty and more decisive with the ball. He picked up 27 yards on 6 carries along with a touchdown and caught 2 passes for 13 yards.

-The spot behind Booker is interesting to me. Corey Clement had a solid 13-yard run but gained just 17 yards on his other 8 carries. Considering his fumble history, including last week, and the lack of variety to his game, one can wonder of Elijhaa Penny should have that number three role. The fullback has been discussed for 2 years now as a guy who can get the ball more in short yardage. He went on to gain 16 yards on 2 carries and picked up 7 more yards on a catch. In the 53-man roster chess match where finding guys who can do multiple things is key, I do see a scenario where Penny gets the nod and Clement gets the boot.

-Gary Brightwell saw about a third of the snaps and caught 3 passes. He looks physical and powerful with a no-nonsense approach. I need to see more out of him as a blocker to really diagnose the odds of him making this roster. We already know he can impact special teams.

WIDE RECEIVER

-David Sills and Dante Pettis led the group in both snaps and receptions, with the former bringing in a touchdown on a play where he played the ball beautifully. His ability to maneuver around defenders and put himself in optimal positioning to hand-catch the ball was the top trait that had me give him a 3rd round grade coming out of West Virginia (he went undrafted). I may have a small bias here, but I believe this kid deserves a shot in real-game action. He never has been a blazer, nor will he ever be one. But he knows how to catch the ball and his route running/release ability has improved notably. If I had to choose between him and Pettis? I’m going with Sills. Pettis offers more athletically though; I will say that.

-Alex Bachman and Damion Willis are on the outside looking in. The former had a drop and also didn’t run a 3rd-down route deep enough on a play where he was the primary read. Little things like that are deciding factors in games because of how much 3rd down success correlates to winning. Willis made 2 catches, one going for 15 yards. Still would love to see him on the practice squad.

TIGHT END

-Another week, another game where Rysen John is growing on me. He led the team with 58 yards on 3 catches. He gets up the seam in a hurry and that is an area I think this offense will be attacking more in the passing game now that Barkley will be back on the field. He did get flagged for a hold and he did bang up his ankle a bit, but I think he needs to be on the practice squad on the very least. He still is very early in the progression stage when it comes to learning how to play tight end.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-The first string sat this one out, so it was a nice long look at some of the backup-battles. Overall, the line looked better this week than what we saw in preseason Week 1.

-I was unimpressed by the left tackle Jackson Barton, who was claimed last September from KC. He allowed 1 sack and 1 pressure, but his weaknesses show up in the running game. Too often off balance, rarely got movement off the ball, and whiffed a couple times when forced to adjust laterally.

-This was our first look at the Ted Larsen-Jonotthan Harrison combo inside. Both veterans looked like a presence in the running game. They were on point across several combo blocks. These are the two guys I want sitting behind the starters. Limited upside but you know what you’re getting here, two smart guys with some nastiness in their game.

-Chad Slade and Jake Burton were better than what we saw last week, notably in pass protection even though Burton did allow a sack. Slade is going to make this roster I believe. When he has his feet under him, he really is a swift and powerful blocker.

-This staff may have a thing for Kenny Wiggins and I can’t say I know what goes on behind closed doors and at practice, but I have been very underwhelmed with him so far. I don’t see any consistency with any part of his technique. Simply put, he gets beat a lot.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-I don’t see how David Moa makes this roster when I do the math, but he certainly is making a case for it. He finished with a very active 6 tackles, while adding a pressure and pass deflection. He was roaming up and down the tackle box, getting free from blocks and finishing. Really impressive hustle from the 310 pounder who led all DL in snaps.

-Raymond Johnson III was the defensive star of the game in my eyes. NYG has something here. He finished with 3 tackles, a half-sack, and 2 pressures. His play-style, body type, and skill set are exactly what NYG needs to backup their linemen and I would be shocked to see him anywhere other than the final 53-man roster. Sure, we need to see him against some better competition, but he has shown a lot in 2 games.

-B.J. Hill had one tackle and a pressure, as he was right there on the Carter Coughlin sack. He didn’t play much, however.

-Elijah Qualls flashed with some penetration and Willie Henry had another active game. Good to see these backups respond well to the scheme should injuries start to arise at some point.

EDGE

-Oshane Ximines had a standout performance as a pass rusher. His shortcomings in the running game have been there from the beginning of his career and it is safe to say he won’t ever be a weapon there. But his main job is to impact the opposing passing game and that he did. He had 3 pressures and a sack, seeming to live in the backfield on deep drop backs by the CLE quarterbacks.

-Trent Harris had a pressure and a TFL. He is a guy who consistently will flash when the snaps are there. Just a really quick and strong finisher.

-Ryan Anderson finished with a half-sack and Ifeadi Odenigbo added a pressure. Both were charged with missed tackles and didn’t seem to have a consistent flow in the pass rush game.

LINEBACKER

-Carter Coughlin still appears to be the best of the backups at this group. He had a pressure, a sack, and 4 tackles. He got flagged for a questionable pass interference and there were a couple other plays where he got beat in coverage, but he never seems too far from the action, run or pass.

-Reggie Ragland and Devante Downs can’t say the same. They are going to be an issue in coverage if they are on the field and Downs missed 2 tackles. Both were bad, ugly misses. He did share the team lead with 7 tackles, however. Not a terrible game for him, but he needs to cut out the whiffs.

-Cam Brown got some action late in the game. He was fooled on misdirection twice, but I was really impressed by the speed and burst he showed in recovery. He is so wide and long-strided. If he can figure things out mentally, there will be a role for him. He also added 2 special team tackles.

CORNERBACK

-Rodarius Williams and Sam Beal practically played the entire game, just under 90% of the snaps. Williams continued his up-and-down performance that we have seen and read about all summer. He broke up a 3rd down pass where he showed excellent lower body technique and accurate hands. Beal struggled and I think we are at the point where one needs to ask: what does anyone hope he can bring to the table? He is a terrible tackler (2 misses), he has issues staying healthy, and there isn’t a natural feel in coverage. You can only hope on speed and height for so long.

-Madre Harper is another one I find myself scratching my head about. He allowed a touchdown early in the game for the same reason I see over and over with him: a lack of discipline on reads and long-legged movement that makes it even tougher for him to adjust into a good position.

-Darnay Holmes played just 7 snaps early in the game.

SAFETY

-Julian Love and Xavier McKinney didn’t play a ton, but I was encouraged but what I saw from both on the re-watch. They both made a really physical downhill tackles, and both were moving swiftly in coverage. When healthy (knock on wood), this defensive back group is loaded with potential and a lot of it comes down to the versatility these safeties have.

-Quincy Wilson, arguably the top defensive surprise of camp and preseason, finished with a tackle and key interception in the end zone. The former Florida cornerback is yet another defensive back who can be moved in and out of positions based on matchups.

-Chris Johnson, one that I think had no shot of making this roster anyway, was terrible. He missed 2 tackles, failed to set the edge multiple times, and was responsible for a touchdown run where he didn’t fill his assignment.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Ryan Santoso: 1/1 XP
-P Riley Dixon: 6 punts / 45.5 avg / 40.2 net

3 STUDS

-DL David Moa, WR David Sills IV, DL Raymond Johnson III

3 DUDS

-OT Jackson Barton, S Chris Johnson, CB Sam Beal

3 THOUGHTS ON CLE

1) We all know that analytics have taken over the majority of NFL teams, some more than others. It isn’t a debate I enjoy getting into because the term “analytics” is simply too broad. I think information and data is key. It is vital to building rosters, making personnel decisions, and strategizing. I have taken a deep dive into information when it comes to salary cap allocation, personnel groupings on offense and defense, and situational play calling. One team stands out the most in terms of blending this all together to create wins, and it is CLE. It worked well last year, and I think the sky is the limit for them in 2021.

2) The CLE running game is absolutely stacked. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are the top 1-2 punch in the league for my money, but the rest of the depth chart needs respect too. D’Ernest Johnson and rookie Demetric Felton are almost sure-things to make this roster. Could that free up John Kelly? Should NYG be interested if so? He broke tackles with the best of them in college, in the SEC, and that is the top trait I look for in backs.

3) A lesson in how to make a solid offense one of the best? BUILD THE OFFENSIVE LINE and DO NOT MISS. They’ve done it all to build a top 5 OL in this league. First round pick on their left tackle, a big contract to a young and proven right tackle who his former team simply could not afford, a trade for a guard who was being used incorrectly on his previous team, a day-2 guard who played tackle in college, and no hesitation in spending top-10 money (respective to position) at center for a smart, leader-type. It was a perfect plan, and it was executed even better.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

1) Two games, zero snaps for Daniel Jones and several other starters. Head Coach Joe Judge did state Jones would start (and I am assuming others will too) Sunday against the Patriots, 2 weeks before their first game. Was this a good idea? For a 3rd year quarterback who has shown issues making reads? Playing with a new number one receiver and an offensive line that has barely played with each other? Are we going to give a pass Week 1 against DEN when we hear “shaking off the rust” lines from coaches and players alike? I understand the fear of injury, but this is a game of chemistry and execution. Not fear.

2) I stated that if Kadarius Toney wasn’t playing at full speed by September, I would start to worry. Remember, this is an offense that was in desperate need for more talent at the skill positions. Sure, Barkley is back and Golladay was signed, but Toney is a big part of this offense needing to take a big jump. And I’ll tell you what, there may not be an offense that has a tougher schedule of defenses all things considered this season in the league. There are a few things that have bothered me about this entire situation, but I won’t go too deep into it yet. This kid needs to get on the field though.

3) Are we looking at the deepest defensive NYG has put on the field in a long time? I think so. The secondary is absolutely loaded with good players who can play multiple roles at a credibly high level. The defensive line hosts one of the top tackle-ends in the game in Leonard Williams along with a handful (or more) of very solid, high-upside run stuffers who could offer enough in the pass rush game. Depth is there for a great defense. Are they top heavy enough at EDGE? That is where they lack star power, and every good defense needs to be great at rushing the passer. Most of the pieces are there. Is THE piece there?

Aug 222021
 
Share Button
Devontae Booker, New York Giants (August 22, 2021)

Devontae Booker – © USA TODAY Sports

CLEVELAND BROWNS 17 – NEW YORK GIANTS 13…
The head coaches for the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns sat their starters in the second preseason game for both teams. The Giants lost 17-13, falling 0-2 in a preseason where most of the first team has yet to play. Unlike the first preseason game against the Jets, Head Coach Joe Judge even sat the starting offensive line.

Both teams decided to get a long look at second- and third-teamers. The Giants starting offense fielded quarterback Mike Glennon; running back Devontae Booker; tight ends Rysen John and Kaden Smith; wide receivers C.J. Board and Dante Pettis; and offensive linemen Jackson Barton, Kenny Wiggins, Jon Harrison, Ted Larson, and Chad Slade. The starting defense fielded defensive linemen B.J. Hill, David Moa, and Raymond Johnson; linebackers Oshane Ximines, Devante Downs, Reggie Ragland, and Ryan Anderson; and defensive backs Madre Harper, Rodarius Williams, Xavier McKinney, and Julian Love.

The Giants received the ball to start the game but were forced to punt after picking up one first down. The Browns followed that up with a 10-play, 81-yard drive on their initial possession, with back-up quarterback Casey Keenum throwing a 7-yard touchdown on 4th-and-goal. Glennon and the Giants responded with an impressive 11-play, 75-yard drive that tied the game when Booker scored from 1-yard out.

The Browns threatened again on the second possession, gaining 65 yards and reaching the New York 10-yard line. But on 3rd-and-6, Keenum’s pass into the end zone was intercepted by defensive back Quincy Wilson. Despite two more possessions for each team, neither team seriously threatened for the remainder of the half. The score was tied 7-7 at the break.

Both teams exchanged punts to start the 3rd quarter. But on Cleveland’s second possession of the half, they easily carved through the back-up defense, moving the ball 56 yards in four plays to take a 14-7 advantage. Both team exchanged punts again on the the next four possessions.

Midway through the 4th quarter, the Giants cut the score to 14-13 after an 8-play, 72 yard drive with third-string quarterback Brian Lewerke at the helm. Lewerke threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver David Sills on 3rd-and-4. However, the Giants could not convert on the 2-point attempt and the Browns led by one point with just over seven minutes left to play.

Cleveland extended the lead to 17-13 on their very next possession, driving 44 yards in eight plays to set up a 49-yard field goal. The Giants had a chance to win the game late. Lewerke threw a 29-yard pass to John on 3rd-and-19 to the New York 45-yard line. He then found running back Gary Brightwell for a 7-yard reception on 4th-and-6 and wide receiver Damion Willis for a 15-yard gain on 4th-and-8. But the Giants ran out of time and were forced to try a Hail Mary from the 27-yard line on 1st-and-10 with six seconds left. That pass was intercepted in the end zone.

Glennon finished the game 10-of-13 for 86 yards and Lewerke 11-of-19 for 108 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The Giants rushed for 120 yards with running back Corey Clement (9 carries for 30 yards) and Booker (6 carries for 27 yards and one touchdown) leading the way. Four Giants caught a team-high three passes: John (58 yards), Sills (31 yards and a touchdown), Pettis (25 yards), and Brightwell (12 yards).

Defensively, the Giants allowed 163 yards rushing and 207 yards passing. The Giants accrued three sacks with Ximines (1), linebacker Carter Coughlin (1), Raymond Johnson (0.5), and Anderson (0.5). Wilson was responsible for the only turnover with his interception.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT AND HEALTHY SCRATCHES…
RB Saquon Barkley (knee), WR Kenny Golladay (hamstring), WR Kadarius Toney (unknown), WR John Ross (hamstring?), WR Austin Mack (hamstring), TE Kyle Rudolph (PUP – foot), TE Cole Hikutini (unknown), OT Nate Solder (shoulder?), LT Tae Crowder (unknown), LB Elerson Smith (hamstring), CB Aaron Robinson (PUP – core muscle), CB Josh Jackson (unknown), and S Montre Hartage (unknown) did not play.

CB Madre Harper (groin), S Quincy Wilson (ankle), and TE Rysen John (lower leg) left the game in the second half.

Others who did not play included QB Daniel Jones, WR Sterling Shepard, WR Darius Slayton, TE Evan Engram, OC Nick Gates, OG Shane Lemieux, OG Will Hernandez, OT Matt Peart, OT Andrew Thomas, DE Leonard Williams, DE Dexter Lawrence, NT Danny Shelton, NT Austin Johnson, LB Blake Martinez, LB Azeez Ojulari, LB Lorenzo Carter, CB James Bradberry, CB Adoree’ Jackson, CB Keion Crossen, S Jabrill Peppers, S Logan Ryan, and PK Graham Gano,

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

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

Aug 212021
 
Share Button
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (August 20, 2021)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

THE STORYLINE:
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge and Cleveland Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski are most likely thrilled with the amount of work their respective teams got done during the two days of training camp practices on Thursday and Friday. When two teams practice against each other in camp, they can get double the amount of work done since one team’s offense can practice against the other team’s defense at the same time when on another field the other defense is battling the other offense. Since there are more safeguards in place, players are also less likely to get injured and it appears there were no major injuries during the two-day affair.

Indeed, joint practices make the preseason game less important. Coach Stefanski has already announced that most of his starters will not play against the Giants on Sunday. Coach Judge will likely do the same or only play his starters a couple of series. Regardless, we won’t learn much from Sunday’s preseason game. Its importance has already been minimalized. The most important work was done on Thursday and Friday. And what did we learn from those practices? The Giants could compete at the same level as the playoff-calibre Browns. On Friday, it appears the Giants were the better team on offense and defense. One or two days of practice should not be overvalued, but the results were encouraging. My gut tells me one of the reasons why the practice was so testy is the Browns didn’t expect the Giants to be so competitive.

If the trend of holding joint practices continues in future years, the actual preseason games simply won’t matter as much. It will be interesting to see if Coach Judge arranges two joint practices again in 2022.

THE INJURY REPORT:
As I mentioned in last week’s preview, Coach Judge and his training staff are very cautious, perhaps excessively so, in protecting players who are not near 100 percent. Based on who did not practice or fully practice on Thursday and/or Friday, it’s probably a safe bet to assume the following players will not play:

  • RB Saquon Barkley (knee)
  • WR Kenny Golladay (hamstring)
  • WR Kadarius Toney (unknown)
  • WR John Ross (hamstring?)
  • WR Austin Mack (hamstring?)
  • TE Kyle Rudolph (foot)
  • TE Cole Hikutini (unknown)
  • OT Nate Solder (shoulder?)
  • LB Tae Crowder (unknown)
  • LB Elerson Smith (hamstring)
  • CB Aaron Robinson (core muscle)
  • CB Josh Jackson (unknown)
  • S Montre Hartage (unknown)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Folks are going to start complaining that I’m being “Mr. Doom” again, but there is somewhat serious concern brewing: much of the firepower that the Giants imported during the offseason has not been on the field practicing. Indeed, right now, the Giants healthy starting offense looks a lot like the unit that finished near dead-last in 2020.

Reporters were stating that Kenny Golladay and Daniel Jones didn’t appear to be in sync before Golladay pulled his hamstring more than two weeks ago. Saquon Barkley has yet to practice in team drills and AT BEST, may be ready for only a few touches on opening day. Kyle Rudolph is still on the PUP and we have no clue when he will even be able to practice. John Ross isn’t practicing. And oddest of all, Kadarius Toney hasn’t really practiced during the spring or summer at all. We don’t even know what is wrong with him. But Toney has no work in with Daniel Jones and the starting offense. It’s hard to imagine he will be much of a factor for possibly even the first half of the season.

Much of the optimism for an improved offense centered around the additions of these guys. For now, the Giants may be in the hands of Devontae Booker, Corey Clement, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Evan Engram, and virtually the same offensive line as last year.

What to look for offensively in this game? I assume the starting offensive line will get at least a couple of series, just like they did against the Jets. Shane Lemieux (knee) missed that game. Matt Peart gave up a sack against the Jets. Fans will be looking at how the starting five performs. Without Nate Solder playing, the reserve line will be undermanned, but this should be our first look at Jon Harrison and Ted Larsen. Kenny Wiggins struggled last week and gets a chance to redeem himself.

The battle at running back between Booker and Clement continues, as does the battle for the final roster spots at wide receiver between David Sills, C.J. Board, Dante Pettis, Alex Bachman, Matt Cole, and Damion Willis. Special teams play will be ever important there. Cole Hikutini was making a move at tight end before he got hurt. Now the door is open for Rysen John and Nakia Griffin-Stewart.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The early indications are that the Giants are going to be pretty good on defense, stronger than last year. The defensive line has been performing well. The secondary is deeper and more talented. And while there are no superstar edge rushers, the Giants appear to have strength in numbers. Fans may have written off Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines too soon. Both have flashed in Ohio. So did Trent Harris. And rookie Azeez Ojulari is coming along nicely. Inside we, we may have a battle brewing between Reggie Ragland and Tae Crowder for playing time. Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin are showing inside-outside, jack-of-all-trades versatility. Then you still have Ifeadi Odenigbo, Ryan Anderson, Niko Lalos, and Elerson Smith (who has yet to get on the field).

The Giants pass rush against the Browns at practice was pretty darn good. Some of these guys probably won’t play or play much against Cleveland. Still, I’d like to see some of Carter and Ximines before they give way to the others. I wouldn’t play Martinez much, if at all. Same with corners James Bradberry and Adoree’ Jackson and safeties Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan. Peppers, in particular, was giving the Browns fits on blitzes. We know what he can do.

The biggest issue the Giants had in the practices was covering WR Jarvis Landry out of the slot. He won’t play so Darnay Holmes and Julian Love won’t be tested as much. It’s not known if we will see newly-acquired corners Josh Jackson (he didn’t practice on Friday) and Keion Crossen. Expect a heavy dose of Rodarius Williams, Madre Harper, and perhaps even Sam Beal.

We know who the base guys up front are. Leonard Williams is having a really strong camp. Dexter Lawrence is one of the most important players on the team. Austin Johnson and Danny Shelton look like they can do the job. B.J. Hill is a valuable reserve. But there are some guys who we didn’t expect to make much noise who perhaps have a chance to make the team. One guy is Raymond Johnson. Keep an eye on him.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
I get the sense that Joe Judge is still not thrilled with his gunners, hence the additions of Keion Crossen and Josh Jackson. That said, Matt Cole made a heck of a play last week downing a punt inside the 10. C.J. Board handled the kickoff and punt returns last week. Is that an indication that he has a leg up on the others? As I suspected, Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey indicated that Ryan Santoso will see the bulk (if not all) of the preseason action.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Joe Judge on the second preseason game:I haven’t decided, yet (who will play). We’re going to see how we come out (on Friday) and I’m going to talk with Kevin (Stefanski) in terms of his plans. We’ve talked earlier in the week about what they’re intending to do and we’re going to see how that’s going to measure up and we’ll evaluate our team after (Friday’s practice). I don’t see playing as a punishment specific to anything in terms of what a performance would dictate to us. I just want to make sure we keep our overall players’ loads in consideration going into it because it’ll also be a quick turnaround going from Cleveland, getting back home, training up to Boston and going against New England for a couple of days before playing the preseason game, through which we’re going to truly treat as more of that regular season dress rehearsal.

THE FINAL WORD:
This was a good week for the Giants. My biggest disappointment is the apparent lack of immediate impact from the 2021 Draft Class:

  • 1st Round: WR Kadarius Toney
  • 2nd Round: LB Azeez Ojulari
  • 3rd Round: CB Aaron Robinson
  • 4th Round: LB Elerson Smith
  • 6th Round: RB Gary Brightwell
  • 6th Round: CB Rodarius Williams

It seems like it will be a long time before we see Toney, Robinson, and Smith receive any meaningful playing time. It also sucks that Kenny Golladay and Kyle Rudolph are not getting in sync with Daniel Jones.

Aug 202021
 
Share Button
Kaden Smith, New York Giants (August 20, 2021)

Kaden Smith – © USA TODAY Sports

AUGUST 20, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
Friday was the second of two days of joint training camp practices between the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns in Berea, Ohio. The Giants play the Browns on Sunday in the team’s second preseason game.

INJURY REPORT…
TE Kyle Rudolph (foot) and CB Aaron Robinson (core muscle) remain on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List.

WR Kenny Golladay (hamstring), WR Kadarius Toney (unknown), WR John Ross (hamstring?), WR Austin Mack (hamstring?), TE Cole Hikutini (unknown), OT Nate Solder (shoulder?), LB Tae Crowder (unknown), LB Elerson Smith (hamstring), CB Josh Jackson (unknown), and S Montre Hartage (unknown) did not practice on Friday. 

Nate’s with our trainers right now,” said Head Coach Joe Judge before practice. “He’s actually doing well, moving at a good progress. We just felt this would be a good week to kind of let him go ahead and continue with that. We expect to get him back soon. He’s had a really good camp for us. I’m really proud of the way he’s working. I’m proud of the leadership he’s giving to our team. He’s come back – obviously, we’ve talked earlier in camp about him getting back in the swing of things, like every other player. I don’t think it took him long. He jumped right back on that horse and kept on riding. As soon as we can get him back out there, we will.”

RB Saquon Barkley (knee) was limited to 1-on-1 drills.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • It was a feisty practice with a lot of trash-talking and sometimes pushing and shoving.
  • Niko Lalos received reps at inside linebacker.
  • In 1-on-1 red-zone drills, QB Daniel Jones was 12-of-20 against the defensive backs of the Browns. In these drills, WR David Sills had problems getting off of press coverage (Sills also dropped a couple of passes in practice). WR Alex Bachman also dropped a pass. WR Dante Pettis caught all three passes thrown to him.
  • In 11-on-11 drills, the New York defense largely shut down the first-string offense of the Browns.
  • S Jabrill Peppers “sacked” QB Baker Mayfield for the second day in a row.
  • DL Leonard Williams had a strong practice, flashing into the backfield on a few plays.
  • CB Rodarius Williams almost intercepted QB Case Keenum; he had perfect coverage but dropped the ball.
  • S Quincy Wilson did intercept QB Case Keenum, although LB Niko Lalos may have had a “sack” on the play.
  • Ted Larsen received some first-team reps at left guard.
  • In 7-on-7 drills, QB Daniel Jones hit TE Rysen John for a touchdown.
  • QB Mike Glennon was intercepted in 7-on-7 drills.
  • QB Daniel Jones found WR Darius Slayton for a touchdown. 
  • WR Jarvis Henry beat CB James Bradberry for a red-zone touchdown.
  • In 11-on-11, full-team drills, QB Daniel Jones was 15-of-18, with WR Sterling Shepard and TE Evan Engram receiving most targets.
  • LB Azeez Ojulari “sacked” QB Baker Mayfield on 1st-and-goal from the 5-yard line. He also drew an offensive holding penalty on the same series.
  • In the Giants’ turn in the red zone, QB Daniel Jones hit WR Darius Slayton for another touchdown. Jones then threw a touchdown passes to TE Evan Engram, WR Sterling Shepard, and WR Alex Bachman. Giants had four touchdowns in seven offensive snaps.
  • OLB Trent Harris sacked QB Baker Mayfield on 3rd-down in the 2-minute drill. Browns fail to convert on 4th down with CB James Bradberry in coverage.
  • Giants offensive line struggled in final 2-minute series with Matt Peart at left tackle, Ted Larsen at left guard, Nick Gates at center, Will Hernandez at right guard, and Chad Slade at right tackle. Slade gave up a sack and was called for holding. Larsen was flagged with a false start. Hernandez gave up a pressure and Peart gave up a sack. The offensive line also had more issues in 1-on-1 drills than they did on Thursday.
  • Linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Azeez Ojulari continued to flash on the pass rush. LB Devante Downs had an impressive series where he got pressure on the QB, made at tackle for a loss, and then broke up a pass (this was the pass Wilson intercepted).

https://twitter.com/Giants/status/1428817615263174656

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Friday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

  • WR Sterling Shepard (Video)
  • LB Lorenzo Carter (Video)

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the team on Saturday. The Giants play the Browns in Cleveland on Sunday at 1:00PM.

Aug 192021
 
Share Button
Gary Brightwell, New York Giants (August 19, 2021)

Gary Brightwell – © USA TODAY Sports

AUGUST 19, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
Thursday was the first of two days of joint training camp practices between the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns in Berea, Ohio. The Giants play the Browns on Sunday in the team’s second preseason game.

We’re just getting here, getting started,” said Head Coach Joe Judge before practice. “Looking forward to a couple good days of work against the Browns. Our emphasis will remain on our installs, our systems, our fundamentals. Obviously, we have a new opponent, so it’s an opportunity to see different levels of talent, new players, different schemes. A good opportunity for our team to go ahead and change it up a little bit come out here and compete.

You’re going to see a mix of a lot of things. We’re going to work some team blitz periods, a different mix of team run and play-action periods, some team two-minute periods, work a seven-on-seven. You’ll see a mix of the offensive line and defensive lines in one-on-one scenarios, see some receivers and DB’s in one-on-one type of drill periods. You’ll see the tight ends, safeties, running backs going one-on-one in pass drills. You’ll see punt and punt return emphasis today in the kicking game. Tomorrow will be kick and kick return emphasis in the kicking game, but these are all things that you can really go ahead and work with the other team and make sure you’re on the same page. You talk about the tempo of the drill, the reps of the drill. It’s something that goes all the way up to as late as last night, making sure that we’re both on the same page in terms of the health of the team, who we have available in practice, to make sure we manage the reps for everybody involved, and that we get the most out of practice, but that we’re smart with our players.”

INJURY REPORT…
TE Kyle Rudolph (foot) and CB Aaron Robinson (core muscle) remain on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List.

RB Saquon Barkley (knee), WR Kenny Golladay (hamstring), WR Kadarius Toney (unknown), WR John Ross (hamstring?), LB Elerson Smith (hamstring), and S Montre Hartage (unknown) did not practice on Thursday. 

“(Golladay and Toney) are going to focus more on the rehab with the trainers,” said Head Coach Joe Judge. “We’re going to keep ramping up those guys as the week goes. They’re both on different levels in terms of their individual bodies, but while we’re here we’ll use the facilities that the Browns are allowing us to use. Our trainers will be here with them, Saquon as well will be in that boat. He won’t do anything competitive against the Browns, so we’re just going to focus on these guys getting in better shape, focus on getting healthy and getting back on the field and 100 percent.”

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • In 1-on-1 drills, TE Evan Engram badly beat LB Jacob Phillips. TE David Njoku beat S Jabrill Peppers and then S Xavier McKinney despite tight coverage.
  • QB Daniel Jones hit TE Evan Engram for a 15-20 yard gain during 11-on-11s.
  • Shane Lemieux returned to the starting line-up at left guard during team drills. He alternated series with Kenny Wiggins at the position.
  • WR Jarvis Landry beat S Logan Ryan and CB James Bradberry on a deep out.
  • QB Daniel Jones was under pressure twice from his left side. LT Andrew Thomas gave up a pressure and there was an overload to that side on another play, almost resulting in an interception.
  • TE Cole Hikutini was receiving reps with the second-team offense, but hobbled off of the field with an injury.
  • CB Rodarius Williams broke up a pass.
  • QB Mike Glennon threw a long pass to FB Eli Penny on a wheel route.
  • QB Mike Glennon’s pass intended for WR David Sills was badly overthrown and intercepted.
  • QB Daniel Jones threw three straight completions to WR Darius Slayton.
  • S Jabrill Peppers would have had one sack and two other QB hits if contact was allowed.
  • In 1-on-1 drills, OC Nick Gates, RT Matt Peart, and LT Andrew Thomas performed well.
  • CB Darnay Holmes had trouble covering WR Jarvis Landry out of the slot.
  • Outside linebackers Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, and Azeez Ojulari all flashed on the pass rush. In a real game situation, Carter may have ended up with multiple sacks.
  • On a play that would have resulted in a sack by OLB Trent Harris in normal conditions (Harris pulled up), WR Rashard Higgins caught a touchdown on a desperate pass from QB Baker Mayfield in the 2-minute drill.
  • CB Greg Newsome undercut WR Darius Slayton on a pass from QB Daniel Jones to end practice during the 2-minute drill on 3rd down. Jones was “sacked” on first down.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Thursday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…

Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The Giants and Browns will practice together again on Friday in Berea, Ohio.

Dec 222020
 
Share Button
Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (December 20, 2020)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

While the modern-day rivalry between the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants isn’t very historical or dramatic, as they only play once every four years and don’t have any championship games against one another, there was some extra spice to this late-season match-up. First, the 2019 CLE Head Coach Freddie Kitchens took over play calling duties for NYG for Jason Garrett, who missed the game because of Covid-19. Second, former CLE starting QB Colt McCoy was starting for the injured Daniel Jones. And third, these two teams traded players and picks with each other two offseasons ago, creating a “revenge” feel for many. Beyond that, the national TV, flexed game was a big one for NYG. Because of a WAS loss earlier in the day, NYG would be back in 1st place if they were able to pull off the upset against CLE, winner of 4 of their last 5.

Following a 48-yard return on the opening kick to midfield by Dion Lewis, NYG was set up nicely to start the game. Thanks to a 22-yard pass from McCoy to Sterling Shepard, NYG quickly had the ball in the red zone. After a failed touchdown pass attempt to Evan Engram, the NYG field goal unit came on for a 25-yard field goal attempt. The trickster in Joe Judge has been getting more and more aggressive, but this next decision took the cake. NYG rushed into an odd formation with everyone split out besides three down linemen. Center Nick Gates, an eligible receiver, snapped the ball then ran into the end zone. Punter Riley Dixon took the snap, dropped back like a quarterback similar to that time he did it in recess a couple decades ago, and lofted a pass to Gates who was surrounded by 3 CLE defenders. The ball fell incomplete, turnover on downs.

CLE then turned the ball over on downs near midfield, giving NYG another strong starting field position. This time, they turned it into 3 points. McCoy hit Darius Slayton for 35 yards on this drive and even though everyone knew points would be tough to come by, it was a good sign this team got into the red zone on both of their first two possessions. They were only up 3-0, however. Baker Mayfield, the #1 pick from the 2018 Draft, looked smooth, confident, and decisive. CLE used that to go up by a score of 7-3 via a 2-yard pass to tight end Austin Hooper.

Once again, NYG drove the ball down the field and breached the red zone. They were faced with a 4th-and-2 from the 6-yard line, enabling Judge to stay aggressive. A rush attempt failed to convert the first down and instead of points, it was a turnover on downs for the second time. NYG has an All-Pro contender at kicker, they have a hard time scoring points, and they now were down 7-3 instead of up 9-7. The seemingly automatic Mayfield continued to complete pass after pass on the next drive. They near-seamlessly put another touchdown on the board on a 2-yard pass to Jarvis Landry. Landry was flagged for taunting, however, pushing the CLE extra point attempt back 15 yards. Kicker Cody Parkey ended up hitting the upright on the PAT attempt, keeping the score at 13-3 as halftime approached. NYG has scored a combined 3 first half points over the previous 3 games.

CLE had the momentum and started the second half with the ball. If NYG wanted any shot at a comeback win, these opening second-half possessions were vital. Dexter Lawrence sacked Mayfield for an 11-yard loss on a 2nd-and-11. This was the play that was supposed to change the flow of the game. However, on the ensuing NYG drive, and after two first downs that brought NYG to midfield, Wayne Gallman was tackled for a 3-yard loss due to a failed attempted block by Engram, a wide receiver who sometimes lines up where a tight end is supposed to. This created a 3rd-and-12, which NYG did not convert.

CLE then went on a 14-play, 8+ minute drive that ended in a 1-yard touchdown by Nick Chubb. It was 20-3 and the NYG offense just couldn’t get anything going from sources like Colt McCoy, Alfred Morris, and a group pass catchers who are among the least-intimidating in football. NYG was able to put 3 more points on the board a couple possessions later to make it 20-6 (rather than 20-12) with 4 minutes left. CLE was done scoring but they did force NYG to burn their timeouts before getting the ball back with a minute left. A few pointless and meaningless gains later, the clock read 0:00 and NYG remained in 2nd place as they lost their second straight.

NYG loses, 20-6.

QUARTERBACK

-Colt McCoy: 19-31 / 221 yards / 0 TD – 0 INT / 82.9 RAT

For the second time in 3 weeks, McCoy got the start for an injured Daniel Jones. Expectations for a 34-yard old career backup are never high and whatever they may be, McCoy met them. He made a couple of really nice throws in the first quarter that led NYG to the red zone, but he couldn’t seal the deal on a couple of opportunities in the end zone. McCoy just didn’t put the ball where he needed to on a few occasions and that is often the difference between good and mediocre at this level. NYG went over 15 years without having to deal with a backup starting the game. We’ve now seen it twice in three weeks. It really is such a limiting factor.

RUNNING BACK

-Alfred Morris led the way with 39 yards on 7 carries while Wayne Gallman added 29 yards on 7 carries. Dion Lewis caught 2 passes for 14 yards and had a 48 yard kick return to start off the game but fumbled later in the game as a returner for the second week in a row. It wasn’t a bad day for the NYG backs, but it lacked impact and Gallman getting stuffed on a 4th-and-2 where he just didn’t have the sheer power to push the pile forward was a killer.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Darius Slayton led the way with 74 yards on 4 catches. He had an awful drop that would have converted a 3rd-and-10 (even if he did, there was a penalty on the offensive line that cancelled the play altogether). Still a really ugly look for Slayton. Those 74 yards were 29 yards more than what he accrued in the previous 3 games combined. However, 2 of those catches and 18 of those yards came in the final minute of the game where pretty much nobody cared.

-Sterling Shepard added 51 yards on 4 catches and Golden Tate caught 2 passes for 13 yards. That is a combined 6 catches for 64 yards. Just over 10 yards per catch, yet again from these two. The more games I see this offense play, the stronger the notion is that this team is starving for playmakers on the outside that scare a defense.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram had a bad game. He did catch 4 passes for 46 yards but he added another drop to the list and his blocking was poor. He just isn’t a guy that can handle the rigors of blocking in-line. He allowed a TFL and caused both Morris and Gallman alike to alter the running lane on one occasion each. There was a near-touchdown that can’t be called a drop, however both of his hands were on the ball first and it was jarred out by CLE safety Karl Joseph.

-Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo both deserve a positive write up. Smith was a key blocker on a couple of NYG’s longer runs. They used him as a trap blocker a couple times and he did some serious damage on contact. Toilolo added a catch for 14 yards and recovered the Dion Lewis fumble.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE

-After a horrific match-up against Haason Reddick a week ago, Andrew Thomas bounced back against Myles Garrett. Garrett didn’t look like his old self at points, but I like how Thomas played him. He was really aggressive with his hands and he kept his balance post-contact. He did allow a half-sack late in the game but besides that, he didn’t give anything. 0 Pressures, 0 TFL, 0 penalties.

-Cameron Fleming and Shane Lemieux were poor. Fleming just doesn’t have it snap to snap; he is pretty much always going to get beat eventually within a sustained drive. He allowed 2 pressures, got flagged for a hold, and allowed a half sack. Lemieux allowed 2 pressures and was flagged for a hands-to-the-face penalty which ended up being declined. His issues have more to do with the fact he just isn’t powerful enough yet. I think that will come with time. His twitch, balance, and technique look good.

-Kevin Zeitler allowed a TFL and Nick Gates was pretty quiet. He didn’t get left alone much but still produced quality run blocking with his ability to move guys laterally.

EDGE

-It was a quiet day overall for the group, but Carter Coughlin was the stand out. He had 4 tackles and a pressure. He did get beat badly in coverage by Austin Hooper twice, one of which was for a first down. He isn’t natural in that role because remember, he was purely an edge guy in college. I can remember writing in his scouting report that he had the skill set and intelligence to play a role inside down the road. With the BUCK role being an edge role that can fill in next to the MIKE inside at times in this defense, Coughlin is making a strong case to be considered for that role next year. He just needs to figure out coverage more than anything.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

-NYG held the CLE rushing attack (top 5 in the NFL) to a quiet day on the ground. The 106 yards were the lowest since November 1. The two catalysts? Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams. They were excellent off the line and showed range. They both had 6 tackles and a TFL, Lawrence also had a sack and pass deflection on 3rd down. Williams added 2 pressures and made rookie left tackle Jedrick Wills look like a child in the running game.

-B.J. Hill, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Austin Johnson all continued to rotate and provide solid run defense. None offered much against the pass. Johnson had a TFL.

LINEBACKER

-Blake Martinez looked, moved, and hit better than he did last week when he seemed to be recovering from his back injury. He was back to the level we had gotten so used to all year and it was a great combination with what NYG was working with up front. He had 10 tackles and 2 TFL. Not many guys can stone Kareem Hunt, but Martinez did. He played smart, instinctive, and physical. He is one of the best LBs in the league when it comes to noticing and reacting to the screen.

-Tae Crowder added 6 tackles and a TFL. Devante Downs and David Mayo rotated in but it is as clear as anything that Crowder is the guy there. Downs and Mayo both badly missed tackles in space. Those two need to play less and Crowder needs to be the only inside guy on the field next to Martinez.

CORNERBACK

-With both James Bradberry and Darnay Holmes out, NYG had to get a little creative at cornerback with Julian Love and Logan Ryan, both collegiate corners. Both of them played well in their roles, respectively. Ryan had 9 tackles and Love finished with 6. They both were beat by Jarvis Landry on separate 3rd down conversions and both missed a tackle.

-Isaac Yiadom was expected to step up in this one, and he did not. CLE clearly wanted to go after him and they ended up having a lot of success there. He allowed a touchdown to Landry and allowed two downfield completions to Rashard Higgins. He didn’t have a lot of help in this one and he just did not come through.

SAFETY

-In his first game back against the team that made him a 1st round pick in 2017, Jabrill Peppers was as quiet as we have seen this year. He had 3 tackles and just didn’t seem to make a physical presence known against the strong CLE rushing attack. He got caught over-pursuing two outside runs that I did not count as missed tackles, but it did create more yards for them.

-Rookie Xavier McKinney saw a slight uptick in playing time because of the vacancies at corner. He made 4 tackles and was often playing a preventative deep role in coverage. He didn’t really have an opportunity to display much against the pass.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 2/2 (Made 39 and 37)
-P Riley Dixon: 2 Punts / 34.5 avg / 31.5 net

3 STUDS

-DT Dexter Lawrence, DT Leonard Williams, OT Andrew Thomas

3 DUDS

-OT Cameron Fleming, CB Isaac Yiadom, TE Evan Engram

3 THOUGHTS ON CLE

CLE went a combined 1-31 in 2016/2017. Their last winning season was 2007 (the first Eli Manning Super Bowl). They are now 10-4 and heading toward the playoffs with a big arrow pointing upward. How did they turn it around? Three things. One, they’ve crushed the early draft picks. DE Myles Garrett in 2017, Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward in 2018, Jedrick Wills in 2020. Two, their Head Coach Kevin Stefanski has created a system on offense that fits his personnel perfectly and he sticks to it. Three, they have created one of the best offensive lines in football.

More on that offensive line because it deserves its own write up. Baker Mayfield has been sacked just 18 times this year. In 2019, he was sacked 41 times. Kudos to this Front Office for double-dipping at the OT spots by signing Jack Conklin in free agency and then using their 1st-round pick on Jedrick Wills. Those two, in combination with what I consider to be the top trio of interior offensive linemen in the league has instilled so much confidence in Mayfield in addition to paving the way for a top-5 rushing attack.

The CLE offense is better without Odell Beckham. I mean that 100% and I say it without hesitation. This is not a knock on Beckham at all. This has more to do with my thoughts on NYG and whether or not they should pursue a top WR in free agency. They need an uptick in talent there, but you need to tread carefully. An offense works best, in most cases, when the ball is being spread around. Mayfield was forcing the ball to Beckham and it was making him a less effective quarterback, plain and simple.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

There may not be a less effective offense in the NFL than what NYG is working with. Granted, they are working with a backup QB and they are missing the focal point of their offense in Barkley. But 30 points over 3 games (including 13 over the last 2) against three defenses that do not include any top 10 units is just embarrassing. The silver lining here is I would rather go into the offseason trying to fix a bad offense than a bad defense.

How does the 31st ranked offense get fixed? This offensive line needs to become dominant. Not good, they need to be dominant. I think NYG can go into next year with Thomas and Peart at tackle but both of those guys aren’t dominant players. Nick Gates is a keeper at center. The question and opportunity for upgrade will be at the guard spots. Whether it is a high priced free agent (Joe Thuney/NE?) or a 2nd round pick (there are a few), or both, NYG needs to go in that direction. It isn’t sexy, but I feel it is the most efficient and reliable way to go about it.

Two games left and yes, NYG still has a shot at this division crown. The biggest issue? They are matched up against a hot BAL team that, when all things are clicking, can be as hard to stop as anyone. While I am confident in NYG’s ability to stuff a traditional rushing attack like CLE, BAL is simply a different animal. Think about the way ARI was able to pick up chunk gains with Kyler Murray. This will be on the NYG defensive line, yes. But we really need to see that second level (LBs and safeties) step up.

Dec 212020
 
Share Button
New York Giants Offense (December 20, 2020)

New York Giants Offense – © USA TODAY Sports

CLEVELAND BROWNS 20 – NEW YORK GIANTS 6…
The Cleveland Browns soundly defeated the New York Giants 20-6 on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With the loss, the Giants fall to 5-9 and remain one game behind the 6-8 Washington Football Team in the NFC East with two games left to play. The Giants now have had seven losing seasons in the last eight years.

The Giants were minus three key players, including quarterback Daniel Jones (ankle/hamstring), cornerback James Bradberry (COVID-19 issue), and cornerback Darnay Holmes (knee). As you would expect given the final score, Cleveland dominated statistically, out-gaining the Giants in first downs (24 to 14), total net yards (392 to 288), net yards rushing (106 to 74), net yards passing (286 to 214), and time of possession (34:03 to 25:57). Neither team turned the football over and each team only had seven possessions (not counting the Giants kneel down at the end of the first half).

The Giants received the football first with running back Dion Lewis returning the opening kickoff 48 yards to the Cleveland 48-yard line. New York was able to pick up two first downs and reach the 8-yard line. However, instead of kicking the field goal on 4th-and-5, Head Coach Joe Judge called a fake field goal with punter Ron Dixon’s pass intended for center Nick Gates falling incomplete. The Giants turned the football over on downs at the 8-yard line.

On their first possession, the Browns then drove from the 8-yard line to the New York 43-yard line. On 4th-and-2, quarterback Baker Mayfield’s pass was deflected by defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence. Thus, the Browns also turned the football over on downs. The Giants responded with their only scoring drive of the first half. Back-up quarterback Colt McCoy threw a 35-yard pass to wide receiver Darius Slayton on 3rd-and-6 to the Cleveland 18-yard line. However, the Giants could get no closer and settled for a 37-yard field goal to go up 3-0.

Cleveland took the lead for good on their second possession of the game, driving 75 yards in 13 plays, culminating with a 2-yard touchdown pass to a wide open tight end Austin Hooper on 3rd-and-goal. Browns 7 – Giants 3.

Each team had three possessions in the first half. On New York’s third and final possession, the Giants gained 68 yards in 12 plays but were stuffed on 4th-and-2 running play from the Cleveland 6-yard line. On three red zone trips in the first half, the Giants only came away with three points. Worse, Cleveland made the Giants pay by driving 95 yards in 10 plays. Mayfield threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jarvis Landry (the Browns missed the extra point).

The Browns led 13-3 at the half.

The Browns received the ball to start the second half. They picked up one first down and punted (Cleveland’s first punt of the game). The Giants then drove from their own 14-yard line to the Cleveland 44-yard line. Judge decided not to game on 4th-and-4 and Dixon’s punt pinned the Browns at their own 5-yard line. That ended up being moot as Cleveland – for the second time in the game – drove 95 yards for a commanding 20-6 advantage on running back Nick Chubb’s 1-yard run on 3rd-and-goal. The 14-play marathon drive took over eight minutes off of the clock and by the time the Giants got the ball back, there was less than 13 minutes left in the game.

On New York’s second drive of the half, they picked up one first down before stalling. Cleveland also picked up one first down before punting. With 6:25 left in the game, the Giants began their second and final scoring drive, moving 56 yards in nine plays to set up a 39-yard field goal by place kicker Graham Gano. Browns 20 – Giants 6.

The Browns recovered the ensuing onside kick, picked up one first and took three minutes off of the clock before punting. When the Giants go the ball back on their final possession, there was only 65 seconds left on the clock. The Giants ran four more plays before the game ended, 20-6.

The Giants really only had six legitimate possessions in the game. McCoy completed 19-of-31 passes for 221 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. His top targets were Slayton (4 catches for 74 yards), wide receiver Sterling Shepard (4 catches for 51 yards), and tight end Evan Engram (4 catches for 46 yards). Running back Alfred Morris carried the ball seven times for 39 yards and running back Wayne Gallman carried it nine times for 29 yards.

The defense did not force a turnover. Cleveland’s seven possessions resulted in three touchdowns, three punts, and one turnover on downs. Dexter Lawrence had the team’s only sack.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATION, INACTIVES AND INJURY REPORT…
QB Clayton Thorson (COVID-19 replacement), CB Jarren Williams,and CB Quincy Wilson were activated from the Practice Squad for this game.

Inactive for the game were QB Daniel Jones (hamstring/ankle), CB Darnay Holmes (knee), WR Dante Pettis, OT Jackson Barton, OL Kyle Murphy, DE R.J. McIntosh, and LB T.J. Brunson.

The Giants reported no injuries from the game.

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

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

Dec 182020
 
Share Button

THE STORYLINE

The New York Giants have been out of serious contention for so long that many of us forgot how quickly things can change during the roller coaster that is an NFL season. Left for dead, the Giants had scrapped and clawed their way to the top of the NFC East, winning four games in a row, including an impressive beat-down of the then 8-3 Seattle Seahawks. It was assumed that the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers would easily defeat the Washington Football Team on Monday night and the Giants would effectively have a 2-game advantage (owning the tie-breaker) with four to play.

Events began to turn against the Giants on December 7th. Washington came from behind to defeat the Steelers. Then in Week 14, disaster struck. Encumbered by a still clearly gimpy Daniel Jones, the Giants were destroyed by the Arizona Cardinals at home. Making matters much worse, every other team in the NFC East won. With three games left in the season, the Giants now find themselves one game behind Washington and having the much more difficult schedule.

If that wasn’t enough of a kick to the nuts, arguably the Giants best player, James Bradberry, will miss Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns because he came into close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett also tested positive and the team had to skip practice on Thursday because of it. The Giants also revealed that Daniel Jones suffered an ankle injury against the Cardinals. The Giants now find themselves in a must-win game against a 9-4 Cleveland Browns teams that scored 42 points last Monday in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Yikes.

One week ago, Giants fans were dreaming of a division title and a playoff game. Now, once again, they are thinking about the 2021 NFL Draft. What a pisser!

THE INJURY REPORT

  • QB Daniel Jones (hamstring/ankle – questionable)
  • TE Evan Engram (calf – questionable)
  • TE Kaden Smith (knee – questionable)
  • OG Kevin Zeitler (shoulder – probable)
  • CB Darnay Holmes (knee – out)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE

Many fans will say I am excuse-making, but the injuries to Daniel Jones could not have come at a worse time. Before the Seattle game, the Giants had won three games in a row. Jones had not turned the ball over in any of those wins and he was finding his stride and playing better despite the team’s liabilities in the receiving department. Without Jones, a Colt McCoy-led offense did just enough in the second half to pull out a win, relying mostly on the team’s defense. Jones returned in Week 14 against the Cardinals, but it became clear pretty early that the team rushed him back too soon. As I wrote in last week’s game preview, “The big question is will Daniel Jones play? And if he does, how effective will he be and will he not re-aggravate his hamstring injury? It’s not just a matter of the injury limiting his rushing ability, but ability to throw the football forcefully with accuracy and velocity.”

On New York’s first drive, the Giants picked up two first downs, reached mid-field, and then Jones got clobbered by an unblocked Markus Golden. He fumbled the ball in his throwing motion. The tone was set for the day and Jones was ineffective the rest of the contest, being sacked six times and fumbling two more times. Adding injury to insult, Jones now has a bum ankle to go along with his hamstring injury. Just terrible timing for quarterback who was finally coming around in his sophomore season with his team entering the stretch run.

I keep reading comments from Giants’ fans complaining about the offensive coordinator and play-calling. While an argument can be made that the team is not running the ball enough early, for the most part, the Giants’ poor offensive performance (31st in the NFL) is a product of their personnel limitations. I have been yelling this from the roof tops since Saquon Barkley got hurt, but it is still being ignored by those who don’t want to accept reality.

Teams with solid running games and few dynamic threats in the passing game don’t score a lot of points. The Giants were beginning to play much better on offense during their 4-game winning streak, but they were still only averaging 21.5 points per game during those four wins. It was the improved play of the offensive line that was largely responsible for the increased effectiveness of the running game and reduction in turnovers. With the offensive line unfortunately coming up with one of their worst performances of the year against the Cardinals, the result was predictable. The ground game was inconsistent. The quarterbacks got sacked eight times, fumbling four times. And the team scored seven points.

The offensive line is a work in progress. While it has improved dramatically and at times looked like a top unit, it is still peppered with inexperienced players who are learning to play together as a unit. They took a major step backwards last week. Jones can’t move around and as I feared, the bad wheels are also affecting his ability to set up and throw. But most disappointing of all are the receiving targets. It’s pretty clear now that Evan Engram is who he is… an occasional highlight reel player who comes up small in big moments and often disappears for long stretches of games and the season. He’s not a reliable player. And the Giants should have traded him when there was a decent market for his services. He’s a coach killer. And he and Kaden Smith are “questionable” for the game. Wonderful.

But let’s not let the wideouts off of the hook. Darius Slayton is averaging only three catches and 48 yards per game. Worse, his productivity has worsened as the season has progressed. In the last three games, Slayton has four catches and 45 yards. Once again, Sterling Shepard missed a huge chunk of the season with an injury and only has 416 yards receiving and one touchdown on the year. Golden Tate only has 375 yards. In other words, the team’s top three wideouts have a total of 1,420 yards and six touchdowns. That’s terrible. Let’s cut through the BS. Slayton is having a bad sophomore season, Shepard has never been more than JAG, and Tate is done. They will occasionally make a highlight reel catch, but none are consistently reliable. No one scares the defense.

Why am I painting this same sad picture AGAIN?!? I’m trying to reach you guys. This is an intervention. The New York Giants don’t have the offensive personnel to compete with the big boys right now. You can blame the coaches and the quarterback all you want, but it’s a unit-wide issue. When the offensive line is playing its A-game, the Giants have a chance to pound the rock. But they don’t have the skill players to score enough points. And now with the quarterback situation the way it is, the offense is likely to be really ugly the rest of the way. It is what it is.

As for Cleveland’s defense, there is a bit of an ex-Giant angle here. Linebacker B.J. Goodson is leading the team with 84 tackles and two interceptions. Edge rusher Olivier Vernon is second on the team with seven sacks. The Browns can get after the quarterback too with Myles Garrett (10.5 sacks) and Sheldon Richardson (4.5 sacks).

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

You want more gloom? I’ve got it for you. One of the team’s best players and one of the major reasons the defense has turned itself around, James Bradberry, is out due to the COVID protocol. (It’s not even clear he has COVID). Just terrible timing again in a must-win situation facing a team that just scored 42 points. Worse, nickel corner Darnay Holmes will miss his second game in a row. Another crucial player, inside linebacker Blake Martinez, is not on the injury report but he did look like himself last week playing with a back injury.

Enter the Cleveland Browns, the NFL’s 12th-ranked offense in terms of yards and 13th-ranked in terms of points scored (27 points per game). The strength of this team is its running game, third in the NFL, averaging 156 yards per game. The Browns have a two-headed monster at running back: Nick Chubb (881 yards, 5.9 yards per carry, 9 touchdowns) and Kareem Hunt (772 yards, 4.4 yards per carry, 5 touchdowns). That’s elite-level productivity. This is a team with a big and effective offensive line and power running game. They will wear you down, old-school style.

Baker Mayfield has his critics. But he’s still has a 23-to-8 TD-to-INT ratio, good enough for a 96.6 QB rating. His favorite target by far is WR Jarvis Landry, with 60 catches but only two touchdowns. Mayfield spreads the ball around with eight players having at least two touchdowns on the roster. Bradberry will be missed in that the Giants could have isolated him on Landry. Now with him and Holmes out, the Giants will have to rely on Isaac Yiadom, Logan Ryan, and Jarren Williams at corner. The Giants may even have to bring up Quincy Wilson. Who? Oh boy.

The Browns run the ball more than they throw it. Stating the obvious, for the Giants to have any chance to win this game, Patrick Graham and his players will have to do what few teams have been able to do this year and that is stop Cleveland from consistently running the football. That’s not just on the defensive line and linebackers, but all 11 players. The defense will have to load up the box and hope the depleted secondary can hold its own.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

I’m simply going to repeat what I wrote last week: “I’m not sure what is going on with the Giants special teams all of the sudden, but a Giants team that is encumbered with an offense that struggles to score 20 points simply cannot afford to have repeated major breakdowns on special teams.”

The Giants have played three subpar special teams games in a row. They have to turn this around NOW. The problem is that Cleveland has excellent, well-coached special teams.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham on the Browns’ Offense: “Their offensive line, these guys are big, they’re physical. I’m not trying to diminish the merits of the teams we’ve seen before, but arguably one of the best O-lines we’ve seen all year. It’s going to be a challenge. The tight ends are willing to block. The thing that stands out to me with Chad O’Shea the wide receivers coach and pass game coordinator. These receivers are going to block too… From there, you get the quarterback getting them in the right checks. You can see him really maturing as a signal caller back there… Last but not least, are the backs. You’re talking about guys that don’t go down on first contact. Guys that play tough. (Nick) Chubb…I love his demeanor, I love the way he carries himself… (Kareem) Hunt’s a dynamic player in the run and pass game.”

THE FINAL WORD

A week after tremendous optimism, it is easy to be down on the Giants now given everything that has gone wrong the past seven days. One has to guard against that pessimism and realize that things could bounce in the other direction just as quickly. In other words, don’t fall into the same trap that “expert” prognosticators always fall victim to: only paying attention to the last game and not overall trends.

That said, the injuries to Daniel Jones and one-game loss of James Bradberry come at a terrible time. In hindsight, the two wins against the Washington Football Team look more impressive now. The Giants beat-down of the Seahawks was real. But so was the Cardinals beat-down of the Giants. Which version of New York will we see on Sunday night?

The irony of ironies is that Freddie Kitchens will be calling the offensive plays against his own team. Could he have a few surprises up his sleeve? He doesn’t have much to work with.

Aug 122018
 
Share Button
Jalen Simmons, New York Giants (August 9, 2018)

Jalen Simmons – © USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns 20 – New York Giants 10

QUICK RECAP

Live football returned for the first time after one of the worst seasons in franchise history. Week 1 of the preseason is always more about seeing the new guys in the game-uniform and watching real, live football for the first time since winter. The first string (minus Odell Beckham) played for less than a quarter for NYG, while CLE left them in a bit longer.

Thanks to a 39 yard run on rookie Saquon Barkley’s first touch, NYG was able to put 3 quick points up on the board. That lead proved to be the last one for the home team, as Tyrod Taylor, who is competing for the starting gig, made a perfect throw to New Jersey native David Njoku for a 36 yard touchdown. At that point, the night very much became about the backups vying for roster spots and/or rotational roles on the final 53-man roster.

Davis Webb entered the game and struggled. It was the opposite for CLE’s #1 overall pick Baker Mayfield, who owned the night and possibly Week 1 of the NFL’s preseason schedule. Webb looked erratic while Mayfield carved up the Giants defense all over the field. One was a 3rd round pick and the other was a top overall player, but the two didn’t even appear to be in the same league.

Mayfield and the Browns quickly lengthened to lead to 13-3 and the second half then began with a couple of 3 and outs. A potentially game-changing play happened on special teams soon after, as CLE’s C.J. Board fumbled a punt return that was recovered by NYG’s Zak DeOssie on the CLE 14 yard line. A few plays later Jalen Simmons scampered into the end zone on a 5 yard run, bringing the score back to 13-10. Mayfield returned the favor a couple drives later and hooked up with fellow rookie Antonio Callaway on a 54 yard touchdown that was majority run-after-catch. The middle of the pass defense was torched all night and the big plays just never happened on offense following Barkley’s run on the first drive.

The story of the night was Mayfield’s excellent debut and NYG’s struggling backup offense. While it is too early to throw our hands up in the air, there wasn’t a lot of optimism after this one other than the team remaining healthy.

OFFENSE

QUARTERBACKS

Eli Manning: 4/7 – 26 yards – 0 TD/0 INT. Manning played two drives that lasted a combined 16 plays, hardly enough time to get a full evaluation. There isn’t much to report of his night, although his footwork looked crisp and he was decisive with the ball. He went 1 for 1 on 3rd down but was sacked on his second attempt. There was one miscommunication with TE Rhett Ellison up the seam that almost led to an interception and judging by the look of the All-22 tape, it was Ellison that made the wrong read.

Davis Webb: 9/22 – 70 yards – 0 TD/0 INT. Webb has the inside track and winning the backup job by default, but he didn’t strengthen that plan with his play. Webb struggled mightily with simple, basic-level passing. He had a hard time hitting guys in the numbers, as he looked overly flustered and nervous. While I won’t bash him for his play in week 1 of preseason football, he does need to show that he can bounce back next week in Detroit and fix his shortcomings.

Kyle Lauletta: 6/9 – 48 yards – 0 TD/0 INT. If this were an open ended competition, Lauletta walks away from this game with the lead. His footwork and crisp release especially stood out. The knock on Lauletta is a “below average” arm when it comes to power and strength, but he can more than make up for it with how fast he gets rid of the ball. He looked very confident and sure of himself for a 4th round rookie in his first live NFL action.

RUNNING BACKS

-Saquon Barkley: 4 att/43 yards. The anticipation of the 2018 #2 overall pick and what many consider to be one of the top running back prospects ever matched the inaugural play of Barkley’s pro career. An overly impressive 39-yard run that displayed his vision, agility, reaction, and open field burst was a sign of things to come. His night didn’t last long and there were a couple negative runs after, but Barkley’s initial showing with NYG in a game situation was a positive one.

-Jonathan Stewart: 3 att/3 yards – 1 rec/8 yards. Stewart didn’t see a lot of action himself, but he struggled to reach the outside. He looks heavy footed and considering this is his 11th year with 1,700 carries on his resume, one can surely believe he will be a number three back by season’s end. He was also part of a messy miscommunication with the middle of the offensive line on a CLE blitz that led to a sack.

-Wayne Gallman: 3 att/5 yards – 4 rec /33 yards. Gallman looks explosive and sure of himself. He is going to be a great compliment to Barkley and an asset to the passing game both as a pass catcher and blocker, as he picked up a couple blitzes successfully.

The Rest: A couple of impressive runs by both back end backs Jalen Simmons and Robert Martin. They combined for 12 carries / 77 yards against the roster hopefuls of CLE. Simmons was especially assertive and did a nice job of running through contact with good pad level and active feet. Fullback Shane Smith was on the field for 9 plays (12% of the team’s offensive snaps). He does look more confident and sure of his reads than he did at this time last year, but there wasn’t a major difference felt with his presence in the run game.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Sterling Shepard: 2 rec / 9 yards. After being slowed by a training camp ankle injury last year, it was refreshing to see him out there early on. His quickness out of the slot is going to be a factor this year, now if he could only make more happen after the catch and the Giants offense may have a big time weapon.

-Hunter Sharp: 2 rec / 16 yards. Sharp got the early look with the first team offense with Beckham on the sideline. He dropped two passes and showed poor ball skills on one of his receptions, a quick way to get thrown to the back end of the depth chart. He did have a nice kick return, displaying good long stride speed in space.

The Rest: Roger Lewis and Marquis Bundy both came down with big plays late in the game. Lewis’ seems to have been somewhat demoted. I think it mostly has to do with his lack of progression as a route runner and inconsistent ball skills. Kalif Raymond ran a great route but failed to track a nicely thrown ball by Davis Webb which would have resulted in a touchdown. Another long shot to make the roster, Raymond also made a business decision to not extend for a ball over the middle with a safety bearing down on him. Keep an eye out for veteran Russell Shepard, he made a couple of nice grabs and I think the reliability of what he brings to the table is something this coaching staff will be looking in to over the next few weeks. Corey Latimer started on the outside, but didn’t see anything thrown his way.

TIGHT ENDS

-Rhett Ellison and Evan Engram saw the snaps with the first team, but neither had any impact. Ellison seemed to run a wrong route up the seam on an option, nearly resulting in a red zone interception.

-Jerrell Adams: 2 rec / 6 yards. Adams was targeted 5 times and was often the victim of high throws from Webb. While he can’t be blamed for the incompletions, there is a lack of quick twitched-adjustment that I see with him. He is a big, physical player that just struggled to get his head around. Adams is trending towards being a player that has tools, but just isn’t developing the way he needs to. If I were grading his blocking plays, it wouldn’t have been positive.

OFFENSIVE LINE

TACKLES

-Solid debut for Nate Solder in a Giants uniform, albeit it was only 16 plays. After watching Ereck Flowers play with such poor technique and balance for three years, it was refreshing to see a real pro-caliber left tackle in motion. Flowers made his debut at right tackle and had a key block on Barkley’s big run, but continues to struggle with hand placement and proper pad level. Chad Wheeler played both tackle spots and has more power behind his initial hits, but there was too much bending at the waist. He allowed 2 pressures against backups. Nick Becton also played both backup spots and he doesn’t look pretty, but he gets the job done in pass protection. As a run blocker, he struggled to make adjustments. Chris Scott had the most impressive night of all the backups. He showed inside-out versatility and had a key block on the Giants lone touchdown. Looking forward to putting the eyeball on him these next few weeks.

GUARDS/CENTERS

-There was a lot of anticipation building for the debut of rookie Will Hernandez. While 16 plays isn’t nearly enough for a full evaluation, I thought he struggled. He hands were way too wide, as he didn’t adjust to defenders moving laterally very well. The ability is there, its not like he is a poor athlete or anything, I just didn’t see the fluidity. Patrick Omameh got the nod as the starter at right guard. He had a couple of nice, powerful blocks. He can really move guys inside. However, there seemed to be multiple miscommunications inside. He was left searching for defenders to block a couple of times. Jon Halapio needs to improve at both holding his ground and getting everyone on the same page when it comes to assignments. Brett Jones outplayed him in this game, although he was matched up against lower level defenders. John Greco and John Jerry both played half of the team’s snaps and if I had to choose one based on this game’s performance, it would be Greco. Just more pop and adjustment speed.

DEFENSE

DEFENSIVE LINE

Olivier Vernon was in for just 12 plays and didn’t make a difference anywhere. Hopefully history won’t repeat itself, a guy that dominates training camp but doesn’t translate to gameday. The three-headed monster between the tackles, Damon Harrison, Dalvn Tomlinson, and B.J. Hill started off the game. They didn’t play much but they were very stout. That is going to be a very difficult group to move for offensive lines in the running game.

A.J. Francis and Robert Thomas were the standout performers of the night in backup roles. I had a thing for Thomas a year ago, but I think this scheme fits him even better. He is an excellent combination of stout and aggressive. Josh Mauro made his debut with the club. Even though he will be suspended at the start of the regular season, he will be a more-than-solid part of this line. Romeo Okwara continues to flash with his combination of tools, as he recorded a TFL and pursued all over the field hard. This appears to be the strength of the defense.

LINEBACKERS

Alec Ogletree made his debut in a Giants uniform and was beaten badly by CLE tight end David Njoku for a 36 yard touchdown. He took a poor angle considering there was no help over the top. B.J. Goodson was a solid interior run defense presence. If he can stay healthy, this scheme with all of the protection in front of him will be a big deal for him.

Kareem Martin had a pressure, but was otherwise quiet. Connor Barwin looks like shell of his former Eagle self. He doesn’t have nearly the same level of explosion off the ball. Lorenzo Carter had a pressure and QB hit in his pro debut. He can really eat up space in a blink; now it is all about developing the skill set.

Calvin Munson and Ray Ray Armstrong looked very solid in backup roles. Munson plays the instinctive, leader-of-the-defense role. He is a right-place, right-time guy. Armstrong’s speed stood out. In this defense that values attacking on all angles, Armstrong could be a guy who makes a difference. A linebacker with his ability to move with all of those big bodies up front swallowing up blockers is a nice combination to have.

-The darkhorse I think who has a good chance of making this team is speedster Tae Davis. Undersized, yes. But this kid can fly around like a defensive back and he handled blockers very well. He can reach windows that most cannot, and he more than held his own in the power game.

CORNERBACKS

Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple started. Jenkins lost a 50/50 ball to the newly acquired Jarvis Landry and Apple was beaten badly on a back shoulder throw where his lack of footwork and ball awareness showed up again. Nothing to be overly alarmed about at this point, but these were the takeaways in their limited action.

-The race for the backup spots is on. Leonard Johnson was targeted the most of all the NYG defensive backs. He whiffed on a pass to Antonio Callaway the resulted in a long touchdown, but he had a positive night. He broke up 2 passes and showed tight coverage underneath. For the roles a nickel needs to play, he seems to be the best fit so far. Chris Lewis-Harris has the foot speed and fluid hips, but the ball location wasn’t there on two occasions, one of which resulted in a CLE touchdown. B.W. Webb is a competitor, if nothing else. He plays a fast-reaction type game and he can move with speed. His issues continue to be a lack of size and accurate forecasting. Rookie Grant Haley had a nice tackle for loss.

SAFETIES

-If it weren’t for Landon Collins, this group of NYG safeties could be labeled as one of the worst in the NFL. Even with him, they are bottom tier. The middle of the field was abused all night and there simply isn’t a cause for hope. Darian Thompson looks to be the same guy, an average cover safety that won’t strike any fear in to receivers over the middle. He strained a hamstring.

Andrew Adams led the team with 7 tackles, as he played more snaps than anyone in the group. Michael Thomas was quiet in his debut with the team. Of the roster hopefuls, Orion Stewart made a couple standout plays, disrupting a running play behind the line of scrimmage with aggressive downhill pursuit and had an impressive pass break up. However he badly missed a tackle in the open field that led to a long touchdown. Rookie Sean Chandler struggled in mid-field coverage.

SPECIAL TEAMS

KICKER

Aldrick Rosas: 1/1 – (Made 42). XP – 1/1. Rosas has the inside track at earning the job for the second straight year, but his leash may not be long. It will be essential for him to make these preseason kicks.

PUNTER

Riley Dixon: 10 Punts – 44.2 avg – 39.7 net – 3 inside 20. Solid night for Dixon. He tried to pin CLE inside the 20 four times, three of which worked out.

3 STUDS

-DT Robert Thomas, RB Wayne Gallman, OT Chris Scott

3 DUDS

-QB Davis Webb, OG Will Hernandez, S Sean Chandler

3 TAKEAWAYS FOR CLE

-Baker Mayfield excelled in his first NFL action. I was very impressed with his footwork in and out of the pocket and even more so with his consistency with keeping his eyes downfield when evading pressure. That isn’t common in rookie quarterbacks. The accuracy I lauded during the scouting process was on full display. He is going to be a good one.

-With that said, Tyrod Taylor is not going to hand him the job. He is one of the most underrated QBs in the NFL right now and he appears to be well respected by the coaching staff. Much of the attention went to Mayfield’s impressive debut, but don’t overlook that Taylor was a perfect 5/5 for 99 yards and a touchdown.

-This will be the first season since 2007 that Joe Thomas isn’t lining up at left tackle for CLE. Joel Bitonio, a college OT who has played OG for CLE since 2014, now starts at that spot. If Thursday night was any indicator, the move may not be much of a decline in relation to the past couple of years. His footwork and hand power were top tier.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-In any direction, it is foolish to have strong reactions to a preseason game unless it has to do with injuries. The Giants appear to have avoided anything catastrophic in that department in week 1. More than anything, that is most important; be healthy heading in to their matchup against JAC.

-That said, Davis Webb is going to need to show improvement throughout the preseason if he wants a strong hold of this backup job all year and the spot first in line once Eli Manning hangs them up. His performance Thursday night is less important than his ability to improve and come back stronger from a poor game.

-The biggest concern I have with this defense, and it is a major one, is the middle of the field against the pass. The pass rush an be created via scheme, but if the safeties and linebackers can’t make plays and/or follow assignments, it is going to be ugly.

Aug 102018
 
Share Button
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (August 9, 2018)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

CLEVELAND BROWNS 20 – NEW YORK GIANTS 10…
Although the starters did not play long, the New York Giants were clearly out-played in a preseason match-up between the NFL’s two worst teams last season. The Giants fell to the Browns 20-10 on Thursday night at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The highlight of the night for the Giants came on their very first offensive snap when rookie running back Saquon Barkley broke off a 39-yard run, demonstrating vision, shiftiness, power, and speed. (Barkley’s other four carries picked up a total of four yards before he was pulled for the evening). Despite the big initial gain, the Giants’ first drive stalled at the Cleveland 23-yard line as New York settled for a 42-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas.

The Browns responded with a big play of their own, a 32-yard strike from quarterback Tyrod Taylor to wide receiver Jarvis Landry over cornerback Janoris Jenkins. But Landry was flagged for taunting on the play. The defense then held and Cleveland punted.

The Giants’ first-team offense only played one more series (and two overall). The drive ended when with a 10-yard sack on quarterback Eli Manning by a free blitzing linebacker coming up the middle. Manning finished the night 4-of-7 for 26 yards.

Taylor carved up New York’s first-team defense on his second series, completing a 21-yard pass against cornerback Eli Apple and then burning inside linebacker Alec Ogletree on a 36-yard touchdown pass to tight end David Njoku. Browns 7 – Giants 3.

Quarterback Davis Webb entered the game with the second-team offense on the third series and played into the 3rd quarter. The jittery Webb was awful, completing just 9-of-22 passes (41 percent) for 70 yards. The Giants’ offense ground to a halt. In six straight possessions with Webb at the helm, the Giants punted five times and watched the clock expire before halftime at the Cleveland 21-yard line.

Meanwhile, the #1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, quarterback Baker Mayfield entered the game and put on a show, completing 11-of-20 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns, including a second touchdown catch by Njoku (from 10 yards out, 2-point conversion attempt failed). Mayfield also completed a 54-yard catch-and-run score to wide receiver Antonio Callaway, who got away from cornerback Leonard Johnson and safety Orion Stewart, early in the 4th quarter.

The Giants’ only other score in the game came early in the 3rd quarter after defensive end Kerry Wynn forced a fumble on a punt return that was recovered by long snapper Zak DeOssie at the Cleveland 14-yard line. Three plays later, running back Jalen Simmons scored from five yards out. This was Webb’s last possession and his sole contribution here was a 6-yard scramble.

By the 4th quarter, both teams were playing their third and fourth teamers, with both Kyle Lauletta (6-of-9 for48 yards) and Alex Tanney (3-of-7 for 49 yards) seeing time at quarterback for the Giants. Neither team scored after Mayfield’s last pass early in the 4th quarter that went for the 54-yard touchdown.

Overall, the Browns out-gained the Giants in total net yards (372 to 310) and net yards passing (322 to 176) while the Giants were superior in first downs (19 to 15) and net rushing yards (134 to 50). The Giants did not turn the football over. Defensively, nose tackle Robert Thomas accrued New York’s lone sack on the night.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Not playing for the Giants due to injury were wide receiver Travis Rudolph (unknown), tight end Ryan O’Malley (foot/ankle), defensive end R.J. McIntosh (unknown – Active/Non-Football Illness list), linebacker Thurston Armbrister (hamstring), cornerback Donte Deayon (hamstring), safety/cornerback William Gay (hamstring), and cornerback/safety Curtis Riley (hamstring).

Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. and safety Mike Basile were healthy scratches.

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

GIANTS SIGN SAFETY MIKE BASILE….
The New York Giants have signed undrafted rookie free agent Mike Basile (Monmouth University). The 6’1”, 185-pound Basile lacks ideal speed, but he is a hard-working, tough, smart, and instinctive football player with good foot quickness.

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur will address the media by conference call on Friday. The players are off on Saturday, the same day the team’s summer training camp officially ends. The players will practice on Sunday and Monday (no public access) before traveling to Michigan to practice against the Detroit Lions on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (open to public).